Sunday, August 19, 2012

Encouragement – Part Two

Yesterday I began a series of blog posts discussing the topic of encouragement. How Paul was encouraged and how he encouraged his contemporary fellow Christians and Christians throughout history as well.

I’ve already covered the meaning of encouragement. So today we will continue and look at what encouraged Paul as he went about his ministry.

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. In this blog post, we will look at the first three. Tomorrow, we’ll 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.

His first encouragement came from the best encourager, Barnabas. After Paul’s conversion, the Christians in Jerusalem were frightened to bring Paul into their Church. He had been arresting, persecuting, and even putting to death Christians because of their faith. They were skeptical.

But Barnabas stepped in. Barnabas took Paul to the apostles and told Paul’s story. Barnabas acknowledged Paul’s conversion and his ministry. Barnabas accepted Paul and was thrilled to see Paul using his gifts and talents in Jesus’ name. Paul’s encouragement from Barnabas was simple acknowledgement.

Paul was also encouraged by Jesus Himself. Paul had been before the Sanhedrin and it had become so violent that the commander was afraid for Paul’s life. In Acts 23:11 (NIV), we see these words. “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’”

Jesus encouraged Paul by allowing him to see a glimpse into his future. That he would not be killed in this moment but would continue to preach the Gospel, even to the Roman people. What an encouragement it must have been to be in Jesus’ presence!

Paul was encouraged by fellow Christians who had taken the time to travel to see him. We see the outcome in Acts 28:15 (NIV). “The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.”

These Christians felt the need to be with Paul and traveled great distances to encourage him. How blessed Paul must have been at that moment. These were Christians Paul had not met before, perhaps had not even heard of this group of Christians. But they had heard of Paul and they wanted to show him they were honored to have him in Rome. Yes, Paul was encouraged. God’s message had reached this great distance from Jerusalem.

As we have looked at these encouraging moments in Paul’s life, we gain a better understanding of 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 One
We can acknowledge their work for the Lord. Acknowledge that it isn’t always easy. That there are difficulties that accompany the blessings. Simply let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for their ministry. That will indeed be an encouragement to them.

Encouragement Two
Only Jesus can fulfill this encouragement. But we can encourage these servants of God to be in His presence. We can share passages of Scripture with them. Provide a devotional book. Anything to bring them into God’s presence. For it is there that they will find complete encouragement.

Encouragement Three
Travel to see those on the mission field. It may not be possible for everyone, but for those who are able to do so, you should. I am a slow learner in this area. Into my 50’s and just now going on my first service trip. I know that I can be an encouragement to those I’m heading to see, but I also know that I will be encouraged by their dedication to serving my God and King.

Phew! I never, ever thought I’d learn this much about encouragement when I offered to see how Paul was encouraged. But I have never been so excited to see what effect a specific word or element could have on a group or an individual. God has yet again opened my eyes to something I’ve missed in the past.

I pray that God is opening your eyes as well. Let Him encourage you to be an encourager.

Tomorrow we will continue with the seven ways Paul was encouraged. I pray you won’t miss it!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


No comments:

Post a Comment