Week 45 The Encourager

 By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 45

Scripture Readings: Acts 13-14

Key Scripture Verses: Acts 13: 2-3 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

 Barnabas and Saul were being sent off on a missionary journey and the Holy Spirit had specifically called them to this mission, as they were “set apart” with a definite purpose. Each of us has our spiritual gifts and we are called to use them for God’s work. Most understand and recognize Saul, also known as Paul, as a great Apostle in spreading the gospel, but Barnabas was a key figure in his ministry because of his own gifts.

 Barnabas is known as being an “encourager”—this was his great spiritual strength. He was a faithful disciple who held the glue that kept the disciples moving forward in spreading the gospel when they became discouraged.

 The Apostle Mark, also known as John Mark, was a cousin to Barnabas, and for some reason left Paul and Barnabas in the middle of the trip, and as a result Paul became annoyed with him for quitting, It was Barnabas who reunited the two at a later date, encouraging both Mark and Paul to work together again. He was patient with Mark and encouraged him to return to mission work and finally Paul recognized Mark again as a valuable partner in ministry.

Barnabas was an encourager and because of his encouragement and his faith in Mark, he was effective in developing Mark to become a significant Christian leader. Most Christians get discouraged at times and some of us have significant doubts in our faith, or even wonder if what we do makes a difference. But, as members of the body of Christ we are called to support each other in ministry. Barnabas’ positive attitude and his ability to provide support to Mark and Paul was an important contribution in spreading the gospel.

 May we remember to provide moral support and to pray for each other as Christians—we might be surprised at how much we make a difference.

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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