November, 1987 was a low point in life, so much that I was planning to leave my calling to ministry. In a hotel coffee shop, an older minister took note of my struggle. He poured love into my heart, affirming the call of God, reminding me that failure need not be fatal, that life could begin anew. It was more than a pep talk! Those 30 minutes of encouragement got me back on my feet and I have never forgotten his care. When Joe Beretta stepped into eternity last October, I shed some grateful tears for a man who changed the course of my life.
Are you an encourager? This world needs people to fill this role now more than ever in my memory. All of us are wondering what the future holds for us. In many part of the world things are even more dire than they are in America. This morning an email arrived from a pastor in a developing nation. “We have no money, food is running out. Pray for us.” Most of us, even if we have not been personally touched by COVID19 know someone who has. Yes, we need people who are ‘encouraged in the Lord’ who will offer sincere encouragement to others.
The Acts contains a favorite Bible story. We meet a man in the opening chapters named Joseph. Joe, an immigrant in Jerusalem, came to faith and became known for his willingness to help those in need. When Paul the former persecutor of the Church came to Jerusalem and met with skepticism and fear because of his past, Joe stood with him and offered his endorsement. Over time, people forgot Joe’s real name and he was called Barnabas. Why that name? “Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.” (Acts 4:36, NLT) Son of Encouragement!
Oh, Lord, help us to become known in our times as people of encouragement! That can be hard to do in times of crisis, when you’re at home with the kids every day, when money is short, when the future is murky. Full disclosure here. I get moody and respond to the news with something less than faith and hope some days. But, my prayer, my aim is to help people to look higher, to live better, to trust the Lord.
A key to being an encourager, is to be encouraged. We cannot give what we do not possess. David, while a fugitive in the time of Saul, shows us the way. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. ” (1 Samuel 30:6, KJV) He got alone with God, in worship, and drew strength from the Spirit. We can (we must!) do this as well.
The world is filled with complainers, critics, and self-absorbed people. Some take no note of the people who are the ‘walking wounded’ around them. Because God’s Spirit lives in you and in me, because He is loving, because we are loved – we need to be like Barnabas, looking for opportunities to lend courage, hope, and confidence to others.
The word from the Word is beautiful for this Monday morning. “If your gift is to encourage others, do it! . . . And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. . . Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:8-10) Another passage teaches us to be creative in the ministry of encouragement! “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24, NLT)
By the way, encouragement is like a virus, too. It is contagious!
To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; hearten.
To give support to; foster: policies designed to encourage private investment.
To stimulate growth; spur onward in personal development
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
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