Today's Bible Readings
     Genesis 14
     Nehemiah 3
     Matthew 13
     Acts 13
''As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ''Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)
            The final verse of Acts 12 tells us that after Barnabas and Saul had completed the first phase of their ministry, they chose John Mark to accompany them in the future. Chapter 13 begins with spiritual leaders meeting in the church at Antioch engaging in fasting and prayer. As a result of this time of meeting with God, they were led to give special anointing and ordination to Saul and Barnabas as the first missionaries of the Christian church.
            Now all of us know about Saul, who was also called Paul, (Acts 13:9) but Barnabas is not as well known in the Christian community. His name Barnabas means encourager or consoler.  He was one of those individuals who could practice the art of ''playing second fiddle'' with great success. It was Barnabas who encouraged the church to accept Saul and discipled him in the early days of his Christian experience. (Acts 11:25-26) It was Barnabas who was willing to take another chance on John Mark even after he had erred greatly. Paul was unwilling to give Mark a second opportunity, but Barnabas was there to encourage and console.  (Acts 15:36-39).
            Perhaps the greatest statement in a single verse ever made about a man of God is said of Barnabas in Acts 11:24. ''For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord." Now that would make a good epitaph for any Christian.     
It has been my prayer for many years that what was said of Barnabas could be said of my life by those who follow me in the work of the Lord. We cannot all be a Paul, but I believe every believer can be a Barnabas.                                                                                                                
Who will you encourage today?
We must take note that prior to the sending out of missionaries, church leaders entered into fasting and prayer (Acts 13-3). Jesus told His disciples that the kind of power they needed would come only through fasting. Is your prayer for missions today mingled with fasting?   Be aware that Biblical prayer that sent out the first missionaries included fasting.
            F          focus on the Word and the World
            A          awareness of needs
            S          service to hurting people
            T          total trust in God
''The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."
Lloyd Jones