July 2 | Bible in a Year: Job 22-24; Acts 11
[Barnabas] encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
READ ACTS 11:19–26
Never give up. Be the reason someone smiles. You’re amazing. It isn’t where you came from—it’s where you’re going that counts. Some schoolchildren in Virginia Beach, Virginia, found these messages and more written on bananas in their lunchroom. Cafeteria manager Stacey Truman took the time to write the encouraging notes on the fruit, which the kids dubbed “talking bananas.”
This caring outreach reminds me of Barnabas’ heart for the “spiritual youngsters” in the ancient city of Antioch (Acts 11:22-24). Barnabas was famous for his ability to inspire people. Known as a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit, he prompted the new believers to “remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (v. 23). I imagine he spent time with those he wanted to help, saying things like: Keep praying. Trust the Lord. Stay close to God when life is hard.
New believers, like children, need loads of encouragement. They’re full of potential. They’re discovering what they’re good at. They may not fully realize what God wants to do in and through them, and often the enemy works overtime to prevent their faith from flourishing.
Those of us who’ve walked with Jesus for a while understand how hard living for Jesus can be. May all of us be able to give and receive encouragement as God’s Spirit guides us and reminds us of spiritual truth.
By Jennifer Benson Schuldt
REFLECT & PRAY
Heavenly Father, give me someone to encourage today. Show me what to say and how to meet this person’s needs so that You’ll be glorified.
How has God encouraged you in the past? How might God want to work through you to inspire someone?
Barnabas, whose real name was Joses (or Joseph), was a wealthy Levite from the island of Cyprus (Acts 4:36-37). Barnabas lived up to his name, which means “Son of Encouragement.” It was through him that Saul (Paul) was accepted and trusted by the Jerusalem Christians (Acts 9:26-30), thereby opening up Paul’s extensive preaching ministry. In today’s passage, Barnabas was sent to Antioch to encourage the gentile believers (v. 22). He then encouraged Paul to come teach these new believers. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians (v. 26). Barnabas also encouraged John Mark, a young man deemed a failure by Paul (Acts 13:13; 15:36-39), and played a critical role in restoring him to effective ministry (Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11). K. T. Sim