Bible Study Blog

Acts 4:32-37 (NIV)

I’ve learned a lot about encouragement over the past month. On July 21st I had a total knee replacement on both knees. It became necessary to do both knees because they were both completely gone. Not one bit of cartilage left in either of them. Needless to say, it’s been a difficult month. But one that’s also filled with blessings. I’ve learned the importance of ice packs and pain meds. I’ve learned (well I’m trying to learn) patience. I’ve also come to realize how important it is to have that much-needed encouragement from family and friends. It’s what keeps you going. Keeps you pushing forward to recovery.

I’ve also had time to think. To reflect on so many events. Events we’ve lost this year due to that evil virus known as COVID-19. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, 4th of July. Times we won’t get back. But I believe we made the best of it. We all tried to keep a stiff upper lip and simply get through it all the while thinking next year it will be different.

Remembering my daddy on Father’s Day is always difficult. He passed away on December 19, 1995. Too close to Christmas for my liking. It’s one of those bitter/sweet days. He was born on May 20, 1919. His name—Claude Calloway Stone. During his lifetime, he was a semi-pro baseball player, a drill sergeant in the Army, a school teacher, a restaurant owner, and a chef. More importantly, he was my daddy.

I bring him up because he was an encourager. He was the strongest man I’ve ever known. Military through and through. Always a man of honor and valor. He was there for me throughout my life until his ended. He loved his family and his country and lived life to the fullest. He taught me many things. To be a loyal friend, to stand up for what I believe in, to always tell the truth, and to work hard. He also taught me how to swim, drive, cook, cut grass, change a tire, pump gas, and train a bird dog.

The things he demanded of me in return were respect for others—especially those older than me, to do my best always, to never back down from a fight, and to take pride in everything I do. According to Daddy you either did what’s right or you did what’s wrong—no in-between. He could cook like nobody’s business. He loved with his whole heart but found it difficult to say it aloud. His actions, however, spoke volumes. I always knew he’d give his life for me.

His teaching methods were quite unconventional but effective. His love for his family unconditional. The man who taught me so many important things. The man who walked me down the aisle and gave me to my husband to be, reminding him this was not a loan. The man who defended our country. The man who took care of my mother and me. I miss him every day.

I wish Daddy was still around so I could talk with him about this time in the life of our nation. I’m sure he’d have a lot to say about it.

Others in my life encouraged me. Miss Fields was my high school senior English teacher. I learned so much in her class. But it didn’t stop there. She went on to teach me as an adult—editing and encouraging me in my writing. The last time I saw her she had fallen ill and was in the hospital. Although extremely sick, she still took time to ask how my life was going, and when I was coming out with another book. And that I’d better send her a signed copy. When she passed away I felt such a void. The difference she made in my life can never be measured.

Who is your encouraging presence? Are you an encouraging presence to anyone? The role of Christians is to be that encouraging presence. It’s good to know that the church can also give that comfort and assistance as it offers a word of encouragement.

The Joseph in the New Testament is also known as Barnabas. The early church was united. Great grace was upon them. No neediness among them.

In verses 36 and 37 of our scripture, we see that Joseph was a Levite from Cyprus. The apostles called him Barnabas. Barnabas means son of encouragement. The reason for this is because he sold a field that he owned and then brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. So impressive.

 He was so captured by the grace of God that he used his own assets to spread the word and continue the church. Joseph’s generous and selfless character is one we should all admire. He was willing to part with something of great value to himself and impart it to others to live for a purpose greater than himself. Are you willing to do this?

What is the equivalent of your field? What would you part with for those you love?

Dads must see their role as a dad to pour out themselves for their kids, wife, and family. Joseph/Barnabas was a source of pride and encouragement for his people. This is why he was called Barnabas. Do you consider yourself a Barnabas?

Joseph/Barnabas considered himself a fan of people. He saw the best in them. He searched for the good in them. I wrote a children’s book entitled Dealing with Margaret that teaches children exactly that—finding the good in people—dealing with difficult people. It won a Reader’s Choice Award at the Christian Literary Awards. I’m so proud of this book as it speaks to the heart of encouragement as well as searching for the good in people even when you think there’s no good to be found. How are you at seeing the best in people?

Paul (after his conversion) goes to Jerusalem to try and join the disciples. But they are afraid of him because of his past. He was the chief enemy of the church and they were suspicious of him. But Barnabas takes up for Paul and brings him to the apostles. He tells them about Paul’s conversion and how Paul preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. Barnabas sees the good in Paul and recognizes that he’s truly been converted and offers a word of encouragement on his behalf.

Then all these great things are now happening in Antioch. Barnabas is sent to check it out. Barnabas goes to Antioch with Paul. They meet with the church and talk to many people. While in Antioch the disciples were called for the first time Christians. So one man because of his character, because he’s an encourager and sees the good in people, makes such a profound difference in the church.

Do you know people like that? People who are like Barnabas. The people of the church can offer hope and to see the good in others. Barnabas didn’t give up on people. He stuck with them. Even in bad times. We can remind people of the good in life. We can show how God offers salvation, new hope, and new life.

If you go back and look at Acts 15 you’ll see a critical moment in the church. At this moment there’s a division between Paul and Barnabas. There’s a split in their relationship. They are at odds with one another. They’ve traveled together spreading the word of God. Then later Paul says to Barnabas that they should go back and visit the believers in all the towns where they preached to see how they’re doing. Barnabas wants to take John (also called Mark) with them. Paul isn’t having it. He doesn’t think it’s wise because John/Mark deserted them in Pamphylia and didn’t continue with them in their work. Paul is done with him. But Barnabas sees something in John/Mark. Barnabas and Paul have such a sharp disagreement that they part company. Barnabas takes John/Mark and sails for Cyprus while Paul chooses Silas and leaves.

In the early church, you see this story about John/Mark a kid who fails who is thought to be the Mark who wrote the gospels. Would he ever have accomplished this had it not been for a Barnabas in his life? A Barnabas who would encourage him even when he failed. How we need people like Barnabas in our lives today. Especially today.

Who do you know that needs encouragement? Are you going to be that encourager? Why not you? Why can’t you put the heart into someone?

Remember Mr. Rogers? He received a lifetime achievement award at the Emmy awards in 1997. He did something jaw-dropping and zapped the heart of every single person in that audience. He said, “So many people have helped me to come here to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away and some are even in Heaven. All of us have special ones who loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life? 10 seconds, I’ll watch the time.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much happen in 10 seconds. You could feel humbleness fall over the audience. Thankfulness and gratitude. It was truly amazing. The names that came to my mind: My daddy, Miss Fields, Miss Ray, Miss Clarey, my Uncle Buck.

As we travel further and further into the unknown—let’s strive to be a Barnabas, knowing that God never gives up on us either.

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!