The Son of Encouragement

by William J. Stewart

Most of us have had a nickname at some point in our lives. Generally nicknames are either a shortened form of our name or based on a characteristic that identifies us. The man we know as Barnabas from the Bible was actually Joses—Barnabas was a nickname given to him by the apostles. The latter part of Acts 4 reads:

And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement) a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)

The apostles saw a man who was interested in others; who would do his best to build other people up. The name stuck! Barnabas was an investor in people. Let’s notice four instances in his life where he was indeed the Son of Encouragement.

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Our Passover

by William J. Stewart

This is Easter weekend, celebrated by many throughout the religious world as the memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The word “Easter” appears just once in the Bible, and that only in one translation—the KJV. It is an erroneous rendering of the Greek pascha, which is correctly translated Passover. Easter  was unknown to the early church; they had no annual observance of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. They observed the Lord’s supper as a memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Interestingly, Passover also happened this weekend (Friday 6:00 pm to Saturday 6:00 pm). It is rare for Passover and Easter to coincide. Passover is based on the Jewish calendar and occurs on the same day each year, Nisan 14. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox.

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Let Him Sell His Garment, And Buy A Sword

by William J. Stewart

Luke 22:35-38 reads:

  And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?’ So they said, ‘Nothing.’ Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.’ So they said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said, to them, ‘It is enough.’

Without doubt this is a challenging text. Especially as we consider the events recorded from Luke 22:49-51, where Jesus healed the severed ear of the servant of the high priest after Peter had cut it off (cf. John 18:10). Peter acted without authority, asking whether to strike or not (Luke 22:49), but not waiting for Jesus’ response. His response was clear when he restored Malchus’ ear.

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by Tom Rainwater

Have you ever felt frustrated — I mean really frustrated? Have you ever let a difficult or undesirable circumstance ruin your mood and sour your attitude toward the day? I imagine everyone of us has felt some degree of frustration this past week over something. I wouldn’t be telling you anything new if I said that frustration is a part of life. You already know that, and you probably already know the answer to life’s anxieties is Jesus Christ. But before we get to that point at the conclusion of the article, I want to illustrate frustration for you from the life of the Apostle Paul.

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April (and other kinds of) Fools

by William J. Stewart

Prior to the reign of King Charles IX in France, New Year’s celebrations began on March 25 and concluded on April 1. In 1582, he decreed that with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s be moved to January 1. Those who refused to accept the change or forgot were ridiculed with foolish gifts and invitations to non-existent parties, and called “poisson d’avril” (literally translated “April fish”). With the acceptance of the Gregorian calendar, the custom spread throughout Europe and into the Americas. Thus the origin of April Fool’s Day.

There is no wrong or shame in ending up an “April fool.” Perhaps it is evidence of naivety or gullibility, but by no means sinful. The bearer of the joke however must be careful not to sin in carrying out their shenanigans (ie. lying). By no means are all pranks immoral, but let the prankster use common sense and wise judgment. May we never give occasion to defame the Lord or cause one to stumble by our frivolous antics.

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His Hour

In his God-given wisdom and by the direction of the Holy Spirit, Solomon wrote a wonderful and poetic discourse on God’s use of time. He begins, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” Then, after listing several “times,” the Preacher extols God’s use of time, saying, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11).

As we consider the gospel of John, it is interesting to note the multiple references to a particular “hour” in Jesus’ life. In all but one case, the hour under consideration would seem to be the hour of His death. He knew that this hour would come; He came into the world for this hour. Let’s notice these texts.

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If Jesus Were On Facebook

A search on Facebook reveals a number of groups and fan pages that have been set up to focus on Jesus Christ. You can “Like” and “Follow” Jesus on Facebook, but you can’t “Friend” Him. He doesn’t have an account. Why then are we speculating about what He would do if He were on Facebook? Well, that’s not really our aim. Many of His people are on Facebook. All Christians must be careful how we use Facebook, for what we do will reflect upon the Lord and His church.

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Spiritual Hydrological Cycle

Hydrology is the science of water distribution through the earth. consider a simple description of the cycle:

  • Rain falls to the ground, nourishing plants, supplying drinking water, etc..
  • Water seeps into the ground or runs off into creeks and rivers if the ground is saturated.
  • Creeks, rivers and groundwater flow into large bodies of water (lakes, seas, oceans)
  • Water returns to the sky from these large bodies through the process of evaporation.

With the water back in the sky, the cycle begins again. Certainly there are more details we could give, but that is the basic cycle.

The prophet Isaiah used the hydrological cycle to tell us about the working of God’s word. Consider:

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The Bible And Racism

by William J. Stewart

The form of prejudice commonly called racism has always baffled me. Bigotry based upon skin colour makes as much sense as bigotry based upon eye or hair colour. And yet, racism is likely the most common form of prejudice worldwide today, and perhaps in every generation. It is sad to see this hideous attitude in the world, but even worse to find it among our brethren.

First, I want to suggest that the word “racism” is erroneous. There are not multiple races of mankind—there is only one race. The human race has been divided

…according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations… (Genesis 10:5, 20, 31)

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Other People’s Mail

by William J. Stewart

Have you ever received someone else’s mail? There have been times when we’ve received envelopes addressed to the former occupant of our house. Of course, the accepted practice is to write “Return to Sender” or “Not at this address” on the envelope and send it back through the postal system. Hopefully, through time, the stray items no longer show up in the mailbox.

I want us to consider the idea of reading other people’s mail. “What!!!???”, you might exclaim. Allow me to explain. Years ago, I was fortunate to hear an excellent lesson on being “Led By The Spirit,” taught by brother Marty Pickup at the Florida College lectures. Throughout the lecture, brother Pickup reminded us that when we open the Scriptures we are “reading other people’s mail.” The thought has stuck with me, and I believe expresses an essential approach to correctly study and understand the Bible.

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