Monday, December 01, 2014

December 1 - Encouraging Others

Today's Reading:
Deut. 26:1-27:26
Acts 9:26-43
Psalm 56:1-13
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: 
Acts 9:26-27
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

It's difficult for people to change. Saul's encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus was a traumatic point of change. He was confronted with the truth of Christ and was radically turned from a zealous opponent to fearless believer. This change was not easy for others to deal with.

Those who wanted Saul to persecute the church now saw him as a threat that needed to be eliminated. Those who had experienced persecution now found it difficult to believe that Saul had truly become a follower of Christ. Barnabas, whose name means "encourager," accepted Saul. He came alongside Paul, gave him support, and helped the Christian community recognize the dramatic change in his life.

Response and Action:
I need to remember how hard it is for people to change. People who put their faith in Christ often experience pressure and animosity from people who don't want them to change. Sadly, they may also feel a lack of support or acceptance from Christians who are skeptical about them. I want to be a Barnabas.

I want to be welcoming, accepting, and supportive of new believers. I want to come alongside them, encourage them in their faith, help them form relationships with other believers, and help them overcome the pressures and threats they feel from those who do not want them to follow Christ.

O God, thank you for the men and women who have supported me and helped me follow Christ. Thank you for the changes you have brought to my life. Thank you for the transformation and renewal I am experiencing by the grace and power of your Holy Spirit. Help me to be an encouragement and friend to new believers as they begin their new life in Christ. Help my church to be a welcoming community that believes in your power to change and renew lives. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses:

Hebrews 10:24-25
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction
by David G. Benner

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