“If the people in your life were looking for nourishment through encouragement would they be full or starving?” My pastor asked this question during Sunday mornings sermon.
I believe that you and I should ask ourselves this question daily. We do not always know the struggles and discouragement our family, friends, pastors and leaders are facing.
Since my purpose for writing this blog has always been to encourage I want to stay true to that mission and share some takeaways from my pastors message this morning “Words of Praise”.
Gracious words give us strength for the battle and through our encouragement we give others approval, support and hope.
There are many ways we can encourage but the spoken word is by far the most powerful.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue”
Words have a lasting effect and many still suffer from harsh, uncaring words spoken to them long ago.
Others point to a word of encouragement given in a time of great difficulty, as the thing that gave them hope and courage to continue.
As I was writing this afternoon I took a break to read a storybook to my grandson. On a page at the beginning of the book was written
In memory of Frances L. Settles
who was always
my biggest cheerleader
It would appear that P.J. Lyons who wrote this book had some times of discouragement, but Frances Settles took the time and interest to offer encouragement. Because of this a dream, a vision, and idea for a book I could read to my grandson came to be.
In the story of Barnabas we see how one person helped set in motion events that had far- reaching effects
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.
So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. Acts 9:26-28
Without Barnabas, Paul’s story might have turned out differently.
The following are great and scriptural reasons for offering words of praise and encouragement.
We encourage others as God encourages us
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort ( grk. paraklesis-encourage). 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. In this portion of Scripture the word comfort also means encourage. When we encourage others as God has encouraged us we imitate our Father and do what He has done for us
Encouragement is the purpose behind God’s Word
Romans 15:4 “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
Even when we are lost in sin, when we are in the worst possible condition, separated from God, His word is meant to encourage to draw us to Him. We see this over and over in scripture.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. John 10:10-11
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool. Isaiah 1:18
Encouragement opens the door for ministry
This is true both inside and outside the church.
In Acts 11:22-24 news of a large number of Gentile’s becoming believers in Antioch reaches the elders in Jerusalem. Barnabas is sent to investigate.
“When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
In this instance those who were believers were encouraged and many who were not were brought to the Lord”.
Encouragement is effective against the forces of darkness
In the letter to the Ephesians Paul is writing to believers surrounded by darkness. Ephesus with a population of 300,000, was also home to the temple of Artemis (or Diana, according to her Roman name) that ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus was full of wizards, sorcerers, witches, astrologers, diviners of the entrails of animals and people who could read one’s fortune by the palm of the hand. And yet, after the preaching of Paul, the magicians publicly burned their books, “so the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 19:19-20). *
In chapter 6 Paul encourages the believers
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10
Encouragement can change a person
A persons past can hold them hostage.
The enemies lies include “you always have been, you always will be” but we have a message that says otherwise.
Someone took the time for all of us to look past our failure and who we were to encourage us on to what we could be. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says so beautifully what can be true for all of us.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
A word of encouragement can change a person’s life forever. Make a promise to yourself today and everyday to look for opportunities to speak encouragement to someone. And don’t just limit your words to friends and family. God may want to use you to speak into the life of someone you do not know.
And as a way of putting into practice what I heard today I want to say thanks to my pastor John Lindell for being such an encouragement to me. And for modeling what a pastor should be in the 21st century. I owe much of my growth as a follower of Christ to sitting under your teaching. And I hope you don’t mind me sharing a little of what I have learned.
Photo from http://www.efficentlifeskills.com