Focal Passage: Acts 4:36-37; 9:26-28; 11:19-26; 13:14-15,
My daughter Kenley is doing something for the first time,
playing little league softball. One of the church members is coaching the team,
and he asked her if she would like to play. Her initial response was one of
enthusiasm, and we were glad to see her excited about something. The move to
Sylva was difficult for our two oldest children in 2006. They left friends, a
sense of comfort, and in their minds moved a long way from family. It has been especially hard on Kenley.
She has struggled with batting, and I have tried to be an
encourager as I go to practices and tell her, “Good swing!” Unfortunately, that
has been the main result because the bat hardly touched the ball until the last
In her most recent game she got a hit three out of four at
bats. And as I stood there at the fence clapping and shouting for her I could
see her smile and her face gleaming as she ran to first base. She had wanted to
quit, but we kept encouraging her not to give up.
In the Book of Acts we see a man named Barnabas whose name
means “Son of Encouragement.”
He is an early benefactor of the church, selling land and
giving the proceeds to the church in Acts 4 so that the money could be used to
help those in need. He is later seen in Acts 9 reaching out to the Apostle Paul
when the disciples were skeptical about receiving him because of his past.
Barnabas vouched for Paul and shared how Paul had proclaimed Christ in Damascas
so that they would know he had been converted.
Barnabas reached out to Hellenistic Jews from Cyprus and
Cyrene preaching in Antioch at the request of the Jerusalem church and worked
with them for a year. He sought the assistance of Paul, and they saw great
things happen for the sake of the Lord.
They realized that the gospel was open for all. It should be
noted that in this section of Acts 11 in verse 24 Barnabas is described as
“good” and he is the only person Luke describes as such.
And finally in Acts 13 as we see Paul and Barnabas outside
of a synagogue in Antioch their final words to a group of believers are to
continue in the grace of God.
They are left with words of encouragement so that these
believers will go with the understanding to grow in their faith.
Barnabas is given his name for a reason, and that reason is
I would not trade anything for that smile that I saw on
Kenley’s face as she ran the bases at the ballgame, as she heard me yelling her
name and telling her, “Way to go!” I could almost feel tears in my eyes after
the first hit because her success was not just encouraging for her.
It gave me a sense of hope as well. We all need that sense
from time to time. We all need encouragement. Find someone who needs
encouragement and share it today, be a Barnabas.