Good morning, Friend,
It has been my privilege to write these letters of ENCOURAGEMENT for the past 31 years, going back to when Evie and I founded Barnabas International. I have written 12 of these letters each year, now totaling 373 issues. I have truly loved writing them. It appears that this month's letter might be my last and final issue.
So, it is time to reflect on past ENCOURAGEMENT issues. In my first letter, I mentioned two reasons for writing: (1) to encourage you, and (2) to encourage you to encourage others. Encouragement is not intended merely to be stored up within ourselves. We are not to become reservoirs of encouragement, but rather we are to be channels of encouragement to others.
Several times I have reminded you that there are three sources of encouragement.
• God is the ultimate Source. Indeed, each of the persons of the Godhead are Encouragers . . . the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is illustrated repeatedly throughout the Bible.
• The Bible itself is also a reliable source of encouragement. Romans 15:4 says that through "the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." You and I can point to many times when we have found strength, guidance, inspiration, and hope in the Scriptures. When all else has let us down, the Bible has been our "picker-upper."
• People are admonished, in the Bible, to be encouragers. For example, we are so exhorted in Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25, and 1 Thessalonians 5:11. In Romans 1:12, Paul tells us to be mutually encouraged as we spend time together with other Christians. Encouragement is intended to be a two-way street. Several people are specifically mentioned as encouragers in the Bible . . . Judas and Silas, Tychicus, Timothy, Philemon, and of course, Barnabas. I hope that you and I are also committed to the ministry of encouragement.
The life of Barnabas is first introduced in Acts 4:36, where we read there was a man named "Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)." He is called Joseph only one time in the New Testament. Every other biblical reference to him (in the book of Acts and in the epistles) refers to him as Barnabas. His birth name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him this nickname, Barnabas the Encourager. I am convinced this is the nickname that God wants you and me to have . . . Barnabas, the son of encouragement (for us men) and Batnabas, the daughter of encouragement (for you women). I can't think of a more honorable nickname. Nor can I imagine a nickname that God would rather want you and me to have.
And here's why. An encourager brightens the day. He gives us a lift. He is mirroring the Lord in telling us that we can make it no matter how tough our journey might be. The encourager tells us that, with God's help, we can positively impact one another.
We can encourage each other with a word, with a deed, with a smile, with a touch. Amazingly, we can make a difference in each other's lives. This is God's will for you. It is God's will for me.
So, let's get on with it. Encourage one another today and every day.
Founder, Senior Associate