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The Luckiest Man on the Planet

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Barnabas was the apostle Paul’s companion on their first missionary trip, and a giant in the growing family of Jesus followers in the new Way. Here is how he is described:

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24)

And do you know what his name means? “Encourager.”

I am confident Barnabas was a man full of gratitude. I can just picture him at the gatherings, walking among the Believers, spending time with individuals and families, constantly encouraging them, lifting them up, digging deep into their needs, showing compassion, and strengthening the new Believers.

Could he be anything other than a man full of joy and gratitude?

I do not know much more about him, but I do not need more information. A man like that, described as we see above, is a man whose heart is overflowing with positive energy and thankfulness.

I want to be like that. I want to be described that way. Don’t you?

So, I must practice gratitude. Yes, practice, because this world—and Satan—will constantly distract and discourage me. I will lose my focus and start feeling sorry for myself. Or worse, start to criticize and complain. And when I am criticizing and complaining, it is a sure bet I have lost my focus on just how blessed I am.

So I must learn to focus on gratitude.

I do this by writing down all my many blessings. I think about the various aspects of my life, and how lucky I am, and I write them down. I have index cards and post-it notes all over the place, where, instead of doodling, or dawdling, I write down the gifts and graces Jesus has lavished on me.

This is a practice that now comes naturally to me, because, even though I have so much farther to go, I am already overflowing with gratitude.

And when I am stressed, or my faith is wobbling a bit, or my perspective is becoming cloudy and somewhat myopic, if I stop and remember all my many blessings—yes, how lucky I am—my stress level dissipates, my faith strengthens, and my perspective shifts from negative to positive. You see, when I remember what he has already done for me, and in me, I can see more clearly what he is doing now, in the present details of my life.

I do not have to ask, “Where are you? Will you come through this time? Are you paying attention to this, Jesus?” Because I already have all the evidence I need. My specific answers give me specific faith, and my wobbly feelings are pushed to the rear, where they belong.

Feelings are okay as servants, but disastrous masters.

That is why writing down your specific blessings is so helpful. As I practice focusing on all the major and minor miracles in my life, and contemplate all Jesus has done in me, and for me, and with me, I can look at most any situation and say, “Thank you now, Jesus, before I see how you work this out, because, based on all the obvious evidence, I know I will be thanking you later.”

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