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Second Chance

By Rev. John K. Wortinger
Monday, March 15, 2010

Scripture Verses
Acts 15:36-41

36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

”I believe in you!” “I believe God has a plan for your life!”

I hope you have received such a word of encouragement from someone in your life. Encouragement is the need we all have if we are going to have the strength necessary to represent Christ in a world that will challenge and put us down at every opportunity.

The passage in Acts tells us Paul and Barnabas decided to return to the churches established on their first missionary trip. They wanted to encourage the believers in their new faith. This doesn’t surprise me about Barnabas; his nick name was “Son of Encouragement.” Encouragement came naturally to Barnabas.

Paul, well, that is a different story. Paul strikes me as a driven “A” type personality. He was a good debater & a good preacher of the gospel. Paul speaks the truth and lets the chips fall where they may. But a nurturer, an encourager, I don’t believe that describes Paul in his early days of missionary work. I believe, Paul learned these skills from Barnabas and it took a sharp disagreement between them for the point to sink home for Paul.

If Barnabas was going on a trip of encouragement, he wanted to take John Mark along. Mark needed some encouragement. John Mark had not completed the first mission, returning home early. Perhaps, Mark got home sick. Maybe the going was tougher than he expected. Whatever the reason, Mark didn’t complete the first trip and missed out on some of the successes that Paul and Barnabas experienced. Mark probably felt like a failure.

Barnabas thought John Mark had potential he wanted to encourage, but Paul would have none of it. No second chances! No quitters on this trip! The argument was so sharp that Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways.

But it is also clear that Paul learned from this encounter. He will later express a deep appreciation for both Barnabas and John Mark. Paul later becomes a noted mentor and encourager of a whole team of young missionaries like Timothy, Titus, Luke, Aquila, and Priscilla who become effective encouragers in their own right. You may know that John Mark will become the writer of the first gospel (Mark) recording the ministry of Jesus.

Lent is a time of reflection that prepares us for the joy of Easter. Reflect back on those persons who have been your encouragers in the faith. You may want to drop them a note of thanks. Reflect forward to those persons whom God is calling you to encourage. Who needs a positive word of faith among those you encounter?

Holy Spirit direct me today to that person you would have me encourage. Empower me to put aside any resentment to share God’s love with them. Amen