Monday, May 16, 2011

Theme: Reflections on the Book of Hebrews

While it is Still Called Today

How many times “today” have you received encouragement?
How many times “today” will you give encouragement?
Love and encouragement go hand in hand, if we care, we will be a source of encouragement.
How many ways can a fellow Christian be encouraged?
  • Verbal words spoken:  face to face, singing, praying, phonecall, recorded card, voicemail.
  • Written words:  Scripture, card, note, letter, poster, bumper sticker, billboard, email, text
  • Visual:  thumbs up, okay sign, smile, nod
  • Touch:  a hug, a kiss, a pat, joined hands
  • Silent presence:  in sickness, in grief, in honor
  • Modeling:  Kind act, courtesy, humility, appreciation, sacrifice
How many more options can you imagine?

Scripture teaches encouragement through direct command and examples of people who encouraged others in their faith. Romans 12:6-8 says:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

For some encouragement, edification, exhortation may be a gift and come more naturally.  Acts 4:36 says the apostles changed Joseph’s name to Barnabas which means “son of encouragement.”  There must have been something special about him!  Barnabas boldly spoke the Word of God, building up the followers of Christ. (Acts 11:22-24).  Maybe he had the “gift” of encouragement or maybe he developed it.

With the exception of prophesying, each of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8 are actions every Christian should be practicing in his/her life through the power of the Holy Spirit (serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy)
  • Those who led and inspired others, were themselves encouraged by God and others.
  • Moses, was encouraged by Jethro and others.The people were given the command to encourage Joshua as he became leader. (Joshua 1:38 and 3:28)
  • David was encouraged by Jonathan and others. (1 Samuel 23:16)
  • Paul was encouraged, Timothy was encouraged.
  • Jesus modeled encouragement often, and was Himself encouraged.
  • Those who lead us and those who follow us in faith need and deserve our encouragement.  
It remains a most powerful tool used to strengthen and inspire.  Everyone needs it.  Without it we wither. The Bible is filled with statements and examples of people giving encouragement and people being refreshed by it. Scripture encourages us to edify and build up other believers. So if we have “today,” shouldn’t we be looking for ways to “daily” encourage those in our lives, that they be strong and courageous, remaining faithful to the LORD?  Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

The following texts are a few of my favorite “encourage” scriptures:  Isaiah 33:3-4; Isaiah 41:7; Acts 18:27; Romans 1:12; Romans 15:4; Romans 16 Phil 2:1-3; Col. 2:2-3; 1 Thess. 5:11, 14; Heb. 10:24-25, Titus 2:4.

Beloved Heavenly Father,      
Your love amazes us.  You have given everything we need for life and godliness.  You delight us with your wonders.   Help us take the encouragement You daily provide us through Your Word, Your Presence and Your people  and graciously offer it to those we meet.   Many are hurt and long for a strand of hope.  Many are exhausted and need to be re-energized.  Many are lost and need the salvation You provide.  May we be strong and courageous as we follow Jesus and encourage others to do the same.  We rejoice in Jesus and His sacrifice that makes us whole.
In His precious name, Amen

Mischelle Oliver
Stephenville, Texas

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