One of my favorite Bible characters is a man named Barnabus. Actually that wasn’t his real name; it was more of a nickname, as “Barnabus” in Hebrew means “Son of Encouragement.”
Barnabus was an encouraging person. He was the one who vouched for Saul to the Christians in Jerusalem. You’ll remember that Saul had earlier presided over the stoning of Stephen and was en route to imprison Christians in Damascus when he had a dramatic conversion experience that turned his life around. He began preaching for Christ in Damascus and was so persuasive that he had to sneak out of town because he was now being persecuted for his zeal. However, how is he to go back to Jerusalem? They don’t know how he’s changed!
Enter Barnabus. The “Son of Encouragement” introduced Saul and vouched for his sincerity. The Christians received him and accepted him, warily at first but then joyfully. Later, Saul, renamed Paul, became the first great traveling missionary and the church’s first great theologian. We focus a lot on Paul’s work; but without Barnabus, he may never have had that positive a start in the church. Oh, he probably still would be a Christian, but he might have gotten disgruntled over their reluctance or discouraged over their fear or even despairing over his guilt. If there had been no Barnabus, there may have never been a Paul!
We need some more “Sons (and daughters) of Encouragement”!!
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!” When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? No one retuned to praise God except this foreigner?” then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.” Luke 17:11-19
For those of us who think thanksgiving is optional, this gospel story shows how very important it is to take time to give thanks.
One of our problems is that we are blessed in so many ways that we can begin to take them for granted. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that if the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to look at them. He observed that we have seen the stars so often that we don’t bother to look at them anymore. It’s easy for us to be like that. We can become so accustomed to our blessings that we can lose our sense of gratitude.
The other day I was folding laundry and I told my daughter to come get her laundry and put it away. She walked into the laundry room and picked up the basket and turned to walk out without saying a word. I said “Did you forget to say something?” She looked at me with such a black stare she had no clue she should say thank you for the clean clothes. I explained to her she should thank you for the clean clothes and she said, “OH YEA! Thanks Mom!”
When we are thankful for the many blessings we have received we become candidates for the greatest blessing anyone can obtain. Forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation are God’s gifts to those who are willing to fall at Jesus feet and say, “Thank You.” We have been blessed. A right attitude about what we have already received can produce unimaginable benefits in the future.
Prayer: Thank you God for the life that you have blessed me with. I asked this day that you lead me God to a more grateful life of being aware of my many blessings each and every day.
13 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about people who have died[a] so that you won’t mourn like others who don’t have any hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus. 15 What we are saying is a message from the Lord: we who are alive and still around at the Lord’s coming definitely won’t go ahead of those who have died. 16 This is because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with the signal of a shout by the head angel and a blast on God’s trumpet. First, those who are dead in Christ will rise. 17 Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. 18 So encourage each other with these words.
“Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” (Matthew 6:12)
A number of years ago, my wife Rosilyn was given several shares of Fruehauf stock by her aunt. I think all the shares were worth a few hundred dollars at the time. The Fruehauf Company made trailers for the 18-wheeler trucks, and they made lots of them over the years. Until the day we received that gift, I had never even heard of Fruehauf. But then I started noticing. We checked the stock exchange report to see the value of the stock; as we traveled on the highways, we started noticing Fruehauf trailers; we wanted Fruehauf to succeed.
Eventually we sold the stock for some purpose–I don’t remember–but then I stopped noticing Fruehauf trailers on the highway; we didn’t notice them on the stock exchange report; we really didn’t care how Fruehauf fared. We didn’t even notice when it was sold to another company years later.
Here’s the point: As long as our treasure was committed to Fruehauf, our time and interest and attention were committed to Fruehauf. In other words, our heart (our interest, attention, caring) followed our money, not the other way around.
When you give your money to God, you begin noticing God at work; you care more for Christ’s body the Church; you become a better witness and advocate for your church and for the Lord; you even care for others more. Who would have thought–that our money can actually be a means for our salvation!!
The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed together and a little child will lead them. —Isaiah 11:6
I try to do most of my shopping in Tahlequah. I like to shop locally and being the Director of the NSU Wesley Foundation I find myself at the store A LOT. On several different occasions I see these two children who always run up to me and hug me and squeeze me so tight and always want to engage in conversation. It is a brother and sister and the mom is always standing back and smiling. It never fails when I see them I get a great big hug.
Our Trunk or Treat was a great success. We had over 700 children come through and I was blessed to hand out 400 cards to adults and invite them to our church. Towards the end of the evening it was getting dark and hard to see and as I was visiting with a parent I felt someone come running up behind me and hug me as tight as they could. I turned around and YES it was those two wonderful children. After I hugged both generously the mother came up to me and said “We see you everywhere and my children love to run to you and hug you. We came to your VBS this summer, we were one of your Help in Crisis families that you helped. We are better now and safer and I want to thank you for showing so much love to my kids. They love seeing you and I am grateful for you and your church’s love. Thank you for this information I want to bring them to this church where they already know that love lives here.”
As they walked away I thought WOW! That’s it, that’s why we do it. For this reason alone. Showing God’s love to those that need it the most. And yes I believe whole heartedly a child will lead them.
PRAYER: Thank you loving God for leading us with a child. Open our hearts to know that what we do is because you first loved us. Guide us to know that we should love first and leave the rest to you. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN.’
How can we in life slow things down enough to see God? Our society encourages us to go and do more and to obtain more. How in this mentality can we see God in our lives, in our day? It is easy to get caught up in a schedule of busyness. It easy to let the constant movement and constant requirements of life overshadow where our focus should truly be. How can we find joy when all we see is the not enough of life?
Thanksliving: living a life of thankfulness. When you stop looking at the stress off the day, the stress of what’s left still to do, the stress of what went wrong, and instead look for the small blessings in your life and then THANK GOD for them transformation will occur. Gratitude leads to joy. The joy that can only come from God. While this may sound simple, it really isn’t. If it were more of us would be doing it. Then how do we live a life of “thanksliving”? How do we let this become our daily focus?
I always say, start small. Start with coming up with three things you are thankful for from your day. When I was a young teenager at camp, our cabin counselors required us to tell three things we were thankful for at the end of every day of camp. I remember thinking at the time that this seemed so hard and I even had trouble coming up with three things. Then my fellow campers, dear friends of mine, taught me something that week. They showed me how to be grateful for even the small things in the day. They were thankful for the sunshine, for laughter, for rain, for fun. I started to look at the day differently with this thought. I had always taken these things for granted and never thought to thank God for them. Once I started to look for the little moments in my day, I started to see things completely different. Not only could I come up with things to say thanks for, but my attitude changed as well. I started to look for these little moment all day long. When you focus on the blessing in your day, and yes they are there, the negativism seems to flow away. You begin to experience joy and you start to see God in your day.
This week try coming up with three things you are thankful for at the end of each day. Then take each item and say a prayer of thanks to God for them. It will have an impact on you.
November 6th Read: Raise a Joyful Song Written By: Linda Cheatham
Members of the Celebration Ringers say they love being part of the hand bell choir because they are able to directly participate in the church service. Music has long been one way to glorify the Lord.
Whether it be bells or voices, music gives glory and depth to the service of the Lord. The bell ringers work together as a team, sharing fellowship each week as they prepare for the time they will share their hard work with the congregation and honor the Lord.
Psalms 95, vs 1-2 says Come! Let us raise a joyful song to the Lord, a shout of triumph to the Rock of our salvation, Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving, and sing him psalms of triumph.
A thanksliving life is a life where we live out of the gifts God has given us to help build God’s kingdom here and now. When we give and live out a life of thanks to God we will be transformed into the person whom God has created into being.
Our Stewardship focus this year is living a life out, the abundance that God has given us. Thanksliving is the term that comes to mind when I think about this. We give because God first gave to us.
How To Use This Devotional
Read, Reflect and Respond. These are three words that I use when I am doing a devotional book or a prayer practice. First read the devotional, then take a deep breath and jot down your reflection: what spoke to you, where did God speak to you in the devotional and last what is God calling you to do? And then I pray a simple prayer… “Lord help me respond to your calling. Amen.
This book as a devotional a day. Sunday is Sabbath day so come and join us in worship and you don’t have the work of a devotion. My prayer is that you use this as a tool to help you grow closer to God. May God be with you as you use this devotional.