“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”

Acts 16:25

Cornerhouse, Riga, The Kgb, Trip, Building, Cell

We sing songs in our worship services quite often about how worship can change a situation, and we proclaim and believe that worship can set us free. This story in Acts is a perfect example of that. Paul and Silas had been severely flogged. They were stripped, beaten and publicly humiliated, then thrown into a dark and cold prison cell. Their feet were then fastened in stocks, and thus began a very uncertain future for these two men.

After all of this though, their immediate reaction is to sing praise. I’m sure most of us have never experienced anything remotely close to what they endured, but we have all had our fair share of turmoil and despair. We have all been at one time in our lives enslaved to sin and defeated by our situations and circumstances. What is our first reaction though to trouble?

When they sang it not only loosed their shackles,  but every other prisoner in that cell block was delivered as well. People are always listening to what comes off our lips. Will they hear praise to our God, or negativity and complaining? Will our reaction to devastation trigger a hunger for God in their lives, or will it cause them to question Him?

Because of grace, we are able to sing in even the most difficult of trials. If we consciously choose to make praise and worship our priority today, our situations will change, and those around us will take notice.

Lord, I am so thankful that I have the ability to change my current situation. By lifting you higher, my problems will become smaller. I declare victory today, as I exalt Your name.

When I think of discipleship, I think about Barnabas and John Mark. Paul and Barnabas brought John Mark on a missionary journey with them. I am sure one of their goals was to mentor this young man, but it was not long before Mark became homesick for Jerusalem.

Something happened in John Marks life that made him realize ministry was not as glamorous as he had imagined.

However, there was something Barnabas saw in John Mark; He was so confident of the ministry that God had given him that he separated himself from his good friend and fellow minister, Paul, intending to give Mark a second chance. When I was younger, I was a John Mark, and I am so grateful for the Barnabas’ who saw something in me after I walked away from God as a teenager. I am thankful for the people who looked past my outward appearance and apparent lack of talent and encouraged me, loved me, and said, “I believe in you,” even when I failed miserably. John Mark needed a Barnabas to give him another chance, and I needed a Sister Ann to speak life into my broken spirit. It is amazing what four simple words can do,

There is a book of Mark because there was a Barnabas.

Barnabas took John Mark, the inconsistent young man, and invested time, prayer and energy into him until Mark became a respected servant of the church. Even Paul in his later years said that John Mark was profitable to him for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).

We Can Be A Barnabas

Many teachers, youth workers, pastors, and parents are in similar positions today. A parent consoles a seventeen-year-old who did not get asked to the Christmas banquet. A teacher discovers one of their seventh graders is disturbed and distracted by their parents impending divorce. A pastor prays silently beside the hospital bed of a teenage girl who attempted suicide. A volunteer youth worker chats over fries and a coke with a high school senior about his options for college.

At present, I have been in the place of the person who consoles and have been in the position of the person who is consoled, and I have learned valuable lessons from both types of these experiences.

In the quest to disciple people, I desire to be a Barnabas in someone’s life. My goal is to invest in others and to genuinely believe in them and their ministry. I will also continue to recognize the importance for my leaders to speak a word of guidance into my life.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for placing people in my life that have demonstrated godly attributes and characteristics. I pray that You would bless those who have blessed me. Also, I pray that You would give me opportunities to mentor people. I desire to  believe in people and see hidden talents and ministries in someone. In Jesus name.  

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” I Timothy 1:16

Have you ever heard someone say, “God could not forgive me, I am too great a sinner?” The devil would like to make us believe that we have done so many bad things, that the Lord could not love or forgive us. If he can convince a person of this, then they do not have the faith to cry out to God for salvation.

Paul in verse 15 of this same chapter said he was chief of all sinners, and in the verse above, he said that he had obtained mercy. All have sinned and come short of the grace of God, but His mercy is extended to all who will call out to Him in faith, accept the sacrifice He made on Calvary, repent of our sins and let His blood cleanse us.

As I was reading this verse the other day, I realized that if God was able to forgive Paul, after the way he had treated believers in Jesus, then He certainly can forgive anyone who calls upon Him. Paul said his conversion was a pattern to all. I am thankful for the mercy He extends, and the hope He gives us of life everlasting.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for the mercy you have shown and the promised that anyone who calls on your Name can be saved.

Devotion by Anne Johnston