Encouragement

Today’s blog was a lot of fun to put together. I knew I wanted to start my look at Nehemiah and Jonah next week, which left today’s post completely up in the air. I decided to take it as something of a challenge and see if I’d have an inspiration as to what to write about. It turns out, my Wednesday evening had a big inspiration in it that I knew I wanted to write about.

Before I go into the post, I just want to make a praise report. On Monday, I asked you guys to pray for a family I knew that was struggling to find a place to live. They were facing some huge obstacles, but God is amazing, and they’ve not only been approved for a place that’s perfectly suited for their circumstances, but they’re safe and sound living there at this very moment. There were major factors working against them, but there was a big God working for them, and the situation worked out about as perfectly as it could’ve.

I just wanted to share that awesome answered prayer with you guys real quick. Now, on to the post!

Encouragement

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Encouragement, especially godly encouragement, is a very powerful thing. It’s also a biblical thing, as you can see in the verse I shared above. God’s word talks many times about the importance of building one another up as believers.

Acts 14:21-22 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

I think we can sometimes overlook the deep importance of a simple encouraging word. Simple gestures like a smile, holding a door for someone, or a quick compliment can go miles for someone who needs to hear them. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own problems and issues that we forget that every single person around us has problems and issues of their own. It’s also easy to discount the power of simple encouragement, especially when the problems and issues in our lives can seem so massive sometimes.

I love the people at my church so much. It’s seriously just a collection of the kindest, most warm hearted folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. And let me tell you, this is a church full of encouragers! Just last night at church I had a woman I’ve never met come up and pay me some of the most poetic and beautiful encouragement. A few Sundays ago a dear friend sought me out just to offer a handshake and a smile, and the quick word of encouragement they shared cut right to the heart of a private struggle I was going through that day. It completely turned my attitude and day around.

There’s another guy at my church who I dearly love. He sits on the front row of the section I sit in. I get paid on Wednesday, so that’s the day I make my tithe to the church. Each Wednesday, after I bring my tithe up and drop it in the bucket, I turn to make my way back to my seat. As I pass this guy in the front row, we always exchange a hearty handshake and a big smile. It may sound like the simplest thing in the world, but I kid you not, there’s enough love and encouragement in that brief interaction to power me for the rest of the week. I walk away from that moment feeling incredibly uplifted and loved.

I’m talking a lot about receiving encouragement, but as the old saying goes, it’s better to give than to receive. I used to think that was just a good saying, but I recently discovered it’s source of origin is the good book itself.

Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Like with anything, giving encouragement feels great. Sometimes I feel bad over how good it feels to give, because I never want my giving to be motivated by that rush of satisfaction I get when giving to people. But it’s certainly a welcome side effect of giving, isn’t it? When I think about the hundreds of ways people encourage me each week, I feel so blessed and I so badly want to turn around and do the same for others. For me, I find that my encouraging words are usually really simple. I told a guy I loved his shirt a few Sundays ago, and now that I think about it, I complimented another person’s shirt last night at church too (I guess I notice shirts a lot). Maybe these comments just went in one ear and out the other, it was a simple comment after all, and if so that’s okay. But maybe it hit deeper. Maybe it was exactly what they needed to hear at that exact moment.

I wanna do two things before I close this out. First, I want to offer you some words of encouragement. I’d love to personalize this, but seeing as it’s the internet and I can’t know exactly who is reading, I have to be a bit more general. So let me say this. You’re special in the eyes of God. You are important to the creator of the universe. If you’re already walking as a follower of Jesus Christ, then be encouraged knowing that you’re fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. If you’re not on the right path in life, if maybe you’ve strayed from following Jesus or maybe you’ve never accepted him as your savior, then be encouraged my dear friends. You’ve got a loving creator who waits for you with open arms, and if you so choose, today can be the day that you come home into His presence. It will be just as the parable of the prodigal son in Luke, as Jesus tells the story of a son who leaves home and falls into a sinful lifestyle. When he comes to the end of his rope, the son decides to head home, confess his sins to his father, and then beg for a position as one of his father’s servants.

Luke 15:20-24 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

So be encouraged, for God waits for you like the father in this parable, ready and willing to welcome you home and bestow upon you a gorgeous inheritance of eternal life.

The second and final thing I want to do before wrapping up is to encourage you to offer encouragement to others. I know we’re all busy, and I know we’ve all got our own stuff going on, and I know that we’d all like to receive a little encouragement sometimes instead of being the only one dispensing it, but I’m asking you to put all of that aside. If you already consider yourself an encourager, take it up a notch, push beyond your regular encouraging routine. If maybe you’re someone who doesn’t always remember or think to encourage others, make it a part of your day. Set a reminder on your phone, leave yourself a post it note, do anything that will remind you to take a moment to offer encouragement to someone during the course of you’re day. You’ll be amazed at just how much power encouragement holds, and you’re going to love the residual blessing you get from knowing you’ve encouraged others.

CLOSING AND PRAYER

For prayers, let’s just pray for the heart of an encourager.  Lord, help us take time each day to step away from our own problems and issues and encourage others.  Help us to have a heart like that of Jesus, a heart that can’t help but reach out to those in need, even if it is just to offer them an encouraging word or a warm gesture.  Let this not just be a task we do each day, but let it become a way of life for us and part of our core being.  I pray this in the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

I love all of you very, very much.  This was a great week for me, and I hope each of you can say the same thing.  If not, then be encouraged, for tomorrow is Friday and a few days after that is church on Sunday!  God loves each one of you more than you can possibly understand.  Walk in the truth of that love as you move into the weekend.

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