Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Ministry of Encouragement

Acts 4:36-37 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Our Pastor took this last Sunday to spotlight one of the least recognized and honored men of faith in the Bible – Barnabas. His life of ministry should stand to remind us that there is no title or position in ministry when we walk out the front door of our church or home. We should always pray for boldness as we go out and spread the gospel and live out our faith as Jesus taught. Ephesians 6:19 And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” To open our eyes to see and our ears to hear what the Lord wants us to see and hear. Closed hands do not allow anything to come in or out of the clinched fist. As Barnabas’ name was changed to “son of encouragement” because of his character, so should the child of God take on the character of encourager. The Lord focus’ on the reconciled and restored to new, not the “before Christ” lost in sin individual. Shouldn’t we?

Acts 9:26-27 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

We, sometimes, unintentionally identify with our sin. All have sinned and stand convicted before God Almighty, so we are all ex-Cons. Why center our attention on negative thoughts of short-comings; concentrating on what we do wrong rather than hospitality, compassion and forgiveness. What are we good at and like to do to bless, encourage and show others that we care about them? We are all called to bless and encourage, but we all do it differently, in our own way. Hospitality and forgiveness go together hand-in-hand because forgiveness requires change in mind and hospitality change in the action of grace. Thank God there are his people who show mercy and extend grace. Love forgives, not sweeps issues under the rug.

Acts 11:20-24 “Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”

We must put ourselves in incredible risk to be in front defending, deflect blame and be encouraging, but being content to be in the background, giving all the glory and praise to God. Stop correcting, start encouraging and live for Jesus' reward. Be concerned about the truth, but gracious in how we share it. They say that bad news travels around the world twice before good news even has its shoe laces tied. We must not be Biblically illiterate, so read and understand the Word of God, so we can debate with the best of Christians on bad Theology, but always keep in mind how you can win them over in your sharing. We are all a “work in progress”. The Lord wants us to live out our faith in our Christian life. You may be a grace-oriented person or a truth-oriented person, but both are sinners saved by our merciful Father God through the finished work of redemption in Jesus Christ. In spite of our sin nature, God works in His mission of salvation. Ministry multiples with a godly positive attitude, so work with the cards dealt to you in life and bring a ministry of encouragement.  

In Christ, Brian

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