Monday, August 20, 2012

Encouragement – Part Three

I really never intended this to be a series on encouragement, but as it turns out I think it just might be! This is part three and we are not nearly done.

I found seven specific passages where Paul was encouraged. Now he speaks a lot about encouragement and I believe those things encourage Paul as well, but these seven passages show how he was encouraged.

Over the next few days I will get into the other passages on encouragement. Yesterday we looked at the first three ways Paul was encouraged. Today, we will discuss the last four.

So let’s look at these texts and see how we can bring these elements into our own lives to encourage men and women in ministry or on the mission field.

Paul was encouraged by physical fellowship, but also by spiritual fellowship. When Paul remembered the people in the churches he planted, he was encouraged by their faith and their faithfulness. In Philippians 1:3-5 (NIV), Paul tells the Philippian believers, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Paul met so many people, started so many churches, and saw so many people come to God for salvation. And yet, he was encouraged by individuals who remained faithful to their salvation. He was encouraged each time he thought of them. What a blessing memories are. What a blessing Christian fellowship is. What a blessing faithful Christians can be to their mentors. Paul knew these blessings and was encouraged.

Hearing news from the churches encouraged Paul. Philippians 2:19 (NIV) says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.” I envision Paul hearing stories from young Timothy of the Philippian Church. Paul would listen and would laugh through the funny portions, clap at the victorious, cry during the painful, and rejoice with the joyful.

Paul was encouraged by news from his fellow brothers. Hearing of their day-to-day struggles and victories cheered Paul.

Another passage in Philippians shows yet another way Paul was encouraged. “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.” (Philippians 4:14-16 – NIV)

This group of believers not only encouraged Paul spiritually, but they encouraged him physically. They gave money and supplies to help with his ministry. No one else did (at least at this point in time). They were the only church who felt the need to share with Paul. Indeed, the Philippian Church was a great encouragement to Paul.

Paul was encouraged by the Church at Thessalonica as well. Their faith and faithfulness brought joy to Paul. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 (NIV) shares the feelings Paul had for these Christians. There are phrases like, “pleasant memories,” “long to see you,” “we were encouraged,” “how can we thank God enough,” and “joy we have in the presence of our God because of you.” In verse 10 (NIV), Paul says, “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.”

Paul not only was encouraged by this group of Christians, but he was encouraged that they were still eager to learn. That he would one day be able to continue to share the gospel with them and see even more spiritual growth.

As we have looked at these encouraging moments in Paul’s life, we can better understand what encouragement is all about. By using Paul’s examples, how can we encourage those in ministry or on the mission field?

How You Can Be an Encouragement to Your Minister or Missionary
Encouragement Four
Give them reason to thank God each time you are thought of. Be a blessing to your minister. Be a blessing to a missionary. Be an encourager.

Encouragement Five
Share your news. Send letters, cards, and emails. Whatever method you wish to use, use it. There is nothing better than hearing news from “back home” or from special friends. For a missionary, this is a great life line. For a local minister, it is an encouragement to know what is happening in your life. They want to rejoice with you. They desire to cry with you. They are willing to celebrate the victories. They just need to know about them!

Encouragement Six
Support them financially. The local congregation and the mission field each deserve our financial support. Yes, we’ve had some hard times in our economy lately, but we must continue to support the work of God. Whenever and wherever we can.

Encouragement Seven
Remain faithful and continue our own spiritual growth. There are four things the early Church devoted themselves to. “…the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the braking of brad and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42 – NIV) These four elements will promote spiritual growth within our lives. Let’s stick to them. Let’s remain faithful. Let’s grow spiritually. You never know who you might be an encouragement to.

These are the seven things that encouraged the apostle Paul. I don’t believe I’ve missed any, but I could be wrong. If you happen to come across others, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

We aren’t done with this study on encouragement. I pray that you’ll continue this biblical journey with me over the next few days as we learn how to encourage one another.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


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