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Barnabas

The name ‘Barnabas’ is a nickname that means ‘son of consolation’ and it was given to him by the apostles because he had helped Christians in different ways (Acts 4:36-37). That passage states that he was a Levite, which means that he had a privileged place religiously in Israel; that he was from Cyprus, so he was a Jew of the Diaspora; and that he had a field to sell in or near Jerusalem, which suggests that he was a wealthy man; and later he is described along with Paul as an apostle (Acts 14:14), which indicates that he had seen the risen Christ.
Probably, he was an early disciple of Jesus and it has been suggested that he was one of the seventy disciples that Jesus sent out in pairs to spread his message throughout the borders of Israel. If that was the case, he was given a foretaste of how God’s power could be displayed in giving various blessings and in defeating the powers of darkness.
Barnabas the generous helper(Acts 4:36-37) The first mention of Barnabas is in Acts 4:36-37, whi…

Drawing Near to God (Psalm 73:28)

Usually, when we want to find out the message of a Psalm, we should include the first verse and the last verse in order to see its point. It is possible to take a verse in the middle of a Psalm and use it in a manner not intended by the author. That way of reading it will prevent us understanding its message.
If we take Psalm 23 for example, we will see that God the shepherd will eventually ensure that all his people will dwell in the house of the Lord. The answer to the question in the first verse of Psalm 22 is found at the close – the reason for the abandonment of the Saviour was so that posterity would serve him. 
In Psalm 73, the author takes a general truth that God is good to Israel and shows how he came to the assurance that this was true of him even although he was in a state of confusion. He discovered that he could know God and his benefits in the current crisis he faced. His experience of puzzlement is very common.
The contrast In this psalm, the author recounts a period of di…

Walking Carefully (Ephesians 5:15–6:9)

Paul continues with his explanation of how to live for the Lord and highlights three more requirements. He stresses that the Christian walk is a careful one if we want to reach the right destination. The requirements are wisdom, filled with the Spirit and submission.
Wisdom The first detail that he mentions is the need for wisdom. Wisdom presupposes knowledge, but we can have knowledge without wisdom. Wisdom is the proper application of our knowledge. 
The knowledge that we have is the will of the Lord. God has a secret will, but that is not the will meant here by Paul. Rather it is God’s revealed will for our behaviour and we are told about it in the Bible by precept and by example. Sometimes the details are expressed positively, telling us to do them; sometimes the details are expressed negatively, telling us not to do them. They are summarised in the Ten Commandments, expanded in the Sermon on the Mount, and mentioned in different ways throughout the Bible.
Wise walkers apply those …

James, the brother of John

There are three individuals called James who were leaders in the New Testament church. There is James, the son of Alpheaus, who was one of the apostles, but very few details are given about him. A second James was the brother of Jesus who was converted after the resurrection of Jesus, as stated in 1 Corinthians 15. He became a leader in the church in Jerusalem and later he wrote the epistle of James that is included in the New Testament. The third James is the brother of John, the apostle who wrote several of the New Testament books.
Who was he? The father of James was Zebedee and he ran a fishing business with his sons James and John. They also had a partnership with Andrew and Simon, although we are not told if James and John came from Bethsaida, the place where Andrew and Simon came from. James was probably the oldest of the two brothers because his name is placed first when they are mentioned together.
The mother of James was Salome. Depending on how one reads the lists of women who …

Moses Meets With God (Exodus 34:1-8)

We all know what it is like to meet with an important person. Sometimes, the meeting is pre-arranged and we have to prepare for it because it is an important occasion. Moses had been instructed to meet with God on a very important occasion. It was the renewal of the covenant with God as expressed in the Ten Commandments. It was a renewal because the Israelites had spoiled the previous attempt by their false worship connected to the golden calf.
Nevertheless, we should remind ourselves that the Lord had told Moses when he called him to be the leader that there would be a great worship gathering at Mount Sinai. We might think that the sin of the Israelites would have caused that prediction to be nullified, but here we see that was not the case. The Lord wanted to have a covenant relationship with his people in which they would serve him and he would bless them. 
Moses acted as a go-between. He represented the Israelites as their leader and he represented God to them as his agent. It was a…

Harvest Thanksgiving Service (Psalm 65)

Psalm 65 is clearly connected to the harvest, as we can see from the closing verses of the psalm. It is suggested that David composed it for use at the annual feast of Tabernacles in Israel which was connected to the harvests. So we can deduce that the psalm teaches us how to approach God when giving thanks for the harvest that he provides. Therefore we can look at the psalm and find guidelines for us.
Coming near to God (vv. 1-5) The first detail is that approaching God involves consecration on our part (v. 1). I think this is the significance of the psalmist’s reference to vows. God had been good to them and therefore they came to worship him with a strong sense of dedication. We can think of Romans 12:1-2 in this regard since Paul connects the activity of offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to the great goodness of God shown in his mercy towards us. And hear too they are thinking about God’s goodness, although more in natural matters.
The second detail is that we can worship the …