Praise is the outward expression of your deep joy! We praise God in worship on Sunday morning. We praise our team when they do well at sporting events. We praise our kids when they achieve a goal or do something special.
Isn’t cheering someone’s success and accomplishments an invigorating experience? You’ll find the same energy within your spiritual life when you consider how God has moved in history, as well as in your own life. We don’t think about that enough.
Few things will strengthen your faith more than when you cultivate a rich understanding of God through worship. Praise him by remembering his faithfulness to you throughout your years and by looking forward to his promises. When you worship him, your faith will be strengthened, your heart encouraged, and your vision of who God is and how he works will grow.
Discouragement will drain your energy, especially when you face trials. That’s why, it’s very helpful to spend time with people who know how to encourage. Some people know just what to do or say to remind you that life is worthwhile, even in the midst of pain and failure. They know how to inspire when there seems to be nothing to hope for. Barnabas, an early follower of Jesus whose name means ‘son of encouragement,’ was just that kind of guy.
Barnabas’s gift of encouragement was demonstrated through his financial generosity, his leadership, and his teaching of new believers. He accepted the apostle Paul when others were afraid of him. And it’s probably accurate to say that Barnabas changed the course of church history by persevering in his encouragement to John Mark.
On his first missionary journey John Mark abandoned his friends. Barnabas was willing to give him a second chance. Paul wouldn’t hear of it. But with Barnabas’s encouragement, Mark became faithful in his missionary ministry and was able to renew Paul’s respect and friendship. Later he would write the Gospel of Mark.
Are you feeling discouraged? God’s forgiveness offers you the chance for a new start. Persevere. God is a God of second chances. And in time, you’like Barnabas’will have the privilege of encouraging others along the way.
Luke was one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament. He gave a detailed account of the life of Jesus in his Gospel and a description of the early church in the book of Acts.
Luke was also a doctor, and his writing reveals his great compassion for people. Even his efforts to write his two books were motivated by a concern to help a friend grow in faith. His concern for the spiritual health of others was matched by his concern for their physical well-being. Throughout his books he made a point to notice the physical suffering of people and the care that those people received. He recounted how Jesus and his apostles again and again brought spiritual and physical healing into hurting and broken lives. And he noticed how Jesus paid special attention to the helpless in society. Jesus made a special point of helping outcasts, prostitutes, and hated tax collectors. Luke’s compassionate heart led him to emphasize the compassion of Jesus for those rejected by society.
Luke is a man who didn’t aspire to greatness or try to grab the spotlight. His goal in life was to serve and care for others. We need men like Luke in our lives, don’t we? Perhaps even more, however, we need to learn how we can become instruments of healing in the lives of the people around us. Shed that tough exterior, friend, and share the compassion of Christ today.