Friday, 9 December 2016

Our Daily Bread devotional, December 9, 2016 - The Gift of Encouragement


Topic: The Gift of Encouragement [December 9, 2016]

Read: Acts 4:32–37; 9:26–27, Bible in a Year: Daniel 11–12; Jude

Joseph . . . 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. Acts 4:36–37

An old Merle Haggard song, “If We Make It Through December,” tells the story of a man laid off from his factory job with no money to buy Christmas gifts for his little girl. Although December is supposed to be a happy time of year, his life seems dark and cold.

Discouragement is not unique to December, but it can be amplified then. Our expectations may be higher, our sadness deeper. A little encouragement can go a long way.

Joseph, a man from Cyprus, was among the early followers of Jesus. The apostles called him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” We meet him in Acts 4:36–37 when he sold a piece of property and donated the money to help other believers in need.

Later, we read that the disciples were afraid of Saul (Acts 9:26). “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles” (v. 27). Saul, later called Paul, had formerly been trying to kill the believers, but Barnabas defended him as a man transformed by Christ.

All around us are people longing to be encouraged. A timely word, a phone call, or a prayer can bolster their faith in Jesus.

The generosity and support of Barnabas demonstrate what it means to be a son or daughter of encouragement. That may be the greatest gift we can give to others this Christmas.  

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the gift of encouragement. May we encourage others as they have encouraged us.

Encouragement may be the greatest gift we give this Christmas.

Insight:

When Saul of Tarsus met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he was transformed into an apostle of Christ. Needless to say, the Christian community was fearful and skeptical about Paul’s apparent change of spiritual loyalties. It is in this context that Barnabas provided a wonderful service of bridge-building. Barnabas was central to Paul’s acceptance by supporting Paul’s conversion story and accepting him as a brother in Christ. Here we see Barnabas showing a spirit of generosity and encouragement. How can you plan to be a blessing to others through an intentional act of encouragement?

This message was written by David McCasland [Our Daily Bread Ministries.]

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