Knowing Where You Stand

Have you ever been in a situation where you received information about something you were involved in that was not the best, but you felt relieved that at least you knew where you stood?  Uncertainty can be very discouraging.  Knowing where you stand, even if you happen to be standing in a less than ideal place, can bring encouragement.

Moses wrote:  Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6, 7).

Some might feel this passage is negative, but what encourages me is that the warning is clear!  We know where we stand and the choice is ours.  And not only that, but if we are guilty (and all of us are guilty, Romans 3:23), God is still compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.  He will forgive if we will repent.

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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A Formula for Peace

The apostle Peter wrote that Jesus left us an example that we are bound to follow (1 Peter 2:21).  The apostle Paul said:  Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1); a command with a promise.  The promise can be found in another version of Paul’s command which he wrote in his epistle to the Philippians:  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9).  So, if we obey the commands of Scripture, we will follow these examples of how to live our lives and the result will be that God will be with us, the God of peace; the same peace the surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

A further word of encouragement can be found in another command by the apostle Paul, using similar language, that brings this right down to you and me today.  The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).

What a marvelous plan for peace and peaceful hearts!  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

A Matter of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).  When it comes to being discouraged, one of the things “hoped for” is encouragement.  For some, who have slipped from discouragement to despair, “hoped for” hardly seems adequate to describe the longing for encouragement.

This is where faith is vital.  In the context of this very well known chapter (Hebrews 11), the faith under discussion is that faith that pleases God (verse 6).  This kind of faith is a matter of  trusting God to fulfill promises made, even though the fulfillment comes after death.  It refers to a life of faith, not a momentary, passing faith.

God promises to be with us, not allowing us to undergo more temptation (including the temptation to surrender to despair) than we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Trust God to fulfill that promise…no matter what!

Have faith in Him!  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Something for Everyone

This is nothing new!  If you have been exposed to Scripture in the least, you have most likely heard the message that, “the Gospel is for all.”  The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:46-49) is universal; it’s for everybody!

Consider God’s love for mankind in general in that He does not want anyone to be lost (2 Peter 3:9); He has patience toward us, giving us the chance to make right the things that are wrong between us and Him.

His grace, in the Person of Jesus Christ, appeared, bringing salvation to all men (Titus 2:11-14); it was never meant for just one a small number.  The fact that few will find their way down the “straight and narrow” path that leads to life eternal (Matthew 7:13, 14)  reflects man’s stubborn rebellion and not some failure on God’s part to provide for the salvation of all.

So, our word of encouragement is that when God’s desire to lose not even one soul caused Him to send His grace to offer salvation to all men, that includes you.  You are one of that group made up of “every creature” to whom the Gospel was to be preached (Mark 16:15, 16).

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

A Man Called…Joseph

It strikes me that precious little has been said in these notes about their namesake.  These are, after all, Barnabas Notes.  Can we find a word of encouragement in a closer look at Barnabas?

Our introduction to Barnabas (Acts 4:36) tells us that his name was Joseph, he was of the tribe of Levi and was born on the island of Cyprus.  It also tells us why he is known as “Barnabas.”  The apostles called him by that name, which means “Son of Encouragement.”

I have been blessed to know a lot of people who have been very encouraging to me.  I’m sure you have, too.  However, as encouraging as those people have been, would you go so far as to call them by this name?  That tells us that Joseph was such an encouraging personality that it was clearly evident.  So, the Cyprian Levite named Joseph serves as the inspiration for Barnabas Notes.

Try to be a Barnabas in your interactions with others; be the kind of person that someone would call “Son (or Daughter) of Encouragement.”  Lift someone else up and show them that God loves them, and that you love them, too.

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Sons of the Father

Jesus said:  …love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven… (Matthew 5:44, 45).  Barnabas Notes is about offering encouragement to the discouraged and lifting the spirits of the downtrodden and often those “treading down” are these same ones Jesus says to love and pray for.  What’s that about?

There is a principle at work here that we dare not overlook.  That principle is the power of forgiveness.  By forgiving such trespasses as these, we rise above the evil done to us.

The promise Jesus makes in these verses is that by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us we will be sons of our Father in heaven.  That is a word of encouragement!  It does not matter how difficult this life becomes, we have the power to choose the attitude we will have toward those who make our lives difficult, and if we make the right choice, whatever suffering we endure cannot last beyond this life.  Make the right choice.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Happiness Through…Mourning?

The second Beatitude is one that confuses many.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).  Much of the confusion comes from learning that one way the word “blessed” can be translated is “happy.”  How can anyone say that those who are mourning are happy?  Jesus doesn’t say they will be happy once they are comforted, but ties the blessedness to the mourning.

“Blessedness” here is a happiness much deeper than the happiness with which we are most familiar.  We understand being made happy by circumstances.  Jesus speaks of blessedness in spite of circumstances.  It really is a peace which surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

We should also note that the mourning is not circumstantial, either.  It is a voluntary attitude one assumes in order to humble oneself before God; it is mourning over one’s sins (James 4:9, 10).  And in fully defining the word we learn that it is a mourning that cannot be hidden; it must be expressed.  That means true repentance.

Our word of encouragement is that when we assume the proper attitude before God, realizing our own guilt, He promises comfort.  He will take us back!

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates