Saturday, August 25, 2012

Encouragement - Part Eight

You’ve seen the signs in movies. “The end is near.” Well, I have come to the end of my writing on encouragement. At least for the purpose of this blog. There are a couple of topics to discuss and then tomorrow, I’ll be writing about something else.

But what a topic this has been! I have learned so much about encouragement and the elements that accompany this word. And when it’s all said and done, if I am not changed, if I do not encourage others, it will have been for nothing.

If you noticed, I have only used New Testament Scripture and it will be no different today. But there was one verse in Proverbs that caught my attention from the beginning. It says, “An anxious heart weigh a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25 – NIV)

That’s encouragement. Caring enough to say a kind word.

Today, I will conclude this topic with a couple of things we are to encourage and when we are to encourage. I pray that your heart will be open to further study of this topic and that your spiritual eyes will be open to see those who need encouragement.

What are we to encourage?
I found two things we are to encourage others to do. The first is to hold on to the teachings the New Testament believers had been taught.

Encouraging words to stand firm. Encouragement to remain true. Encouragers who spoke of stimulating minds. These too are words we must hold on to.

“When he [Barnabas] arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”  (Acts 11:23 – NIV)

“Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to retain true to the faith.” (Acts 14:21b-22a – NIV)

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 – NIV)

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9 – NIV)

“With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” (1 Peter 5:12 – NIV)

“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” (2 Peter 3:1 – NIV)

The second purpose for encouragement is to urge others to do good deeds and speak good words. Consider these passages.

“Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12 – NIV)

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – NIV)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24 – NIV)

Encouraging words that encourage godly behavior and steadfastness. That is what we should be encouraging others to do.

When are we to encourage?
We see in Scripture that we are to encourage in times of trouble.

Paul and Silas encouraged Lydia and those meeting with her after they were released from prison (Acts 16:40).

In Acts 27:27-44, Paul urged the centurion and soldiers to eat some food during the storm and imminent ship wreck. These men were encouraged and ate.

Paul shared encouraging words with the Philippian Church while still in chains.  Philippians 1:14 (NIV) says, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word God more courageously and fearlessly.”

In this passage we see the one in trouble doing the encouraging. What a message!

There is one last element to encouragement that I’d like to share. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) tells us, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We are to encourage one another daily! If it is Today, encourage.

I’m in the middle of having a yard sale. Yesterday morning I was determined to encourage those who ventured into my little sale. I think I did okay. I had K-Love playing the background (you know the “positive, encouraging” music station). I greeted each person with a warm smile. I engaged in small chit chat.

I think I did alright. But today I’m tired. I’m weary. I don’t feel like moving all this junk back outside to try to sell. I believe Today will be the real test. Will my words and my actions be as encouraging Today as they were yesterday?

The only way this is possible is with God’s Spirit at work within me. I will be able to do this because of Him. I’m so thankful for God’s gift of the Spirit!

Encouragement. There is more to this word than meets the eye. And to be honest, there is still so much more to say. More verses of Scripture that can lead and teach on this topic.

I’d like to hear from you. What is the one thing that stands out for you after learning about encouragement? How are you planning to be an encouragement to someone Today? I pray that you’ll not be discouraged and that you won’t give up on encouragement.

“Let us not become weary in doing good [or speaking words of encouragement], for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good [or speak words of encouragement] to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:19-20 – NIV)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


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