Sources of Encouragement
Dr. Howard Hendricks described discouragement as the leukemia of the spirit. It feels like wading through waste deep muck. You’re drained. Your hope leaks away. Your joy evaporates.
There’s hope! A generous dose of encouragement energizes and renews you as little else can. It does the same for others. Your pastor is most motivated to prepare another sermon after positive feedback from the last one. If your only gift to the church were encouragement, the church could accomplish far more with you than without you.
Paul was encouraged four ways in Acts 18. The Lord uses the same encouragement channels today.
You don’t paint a house today that will be torn down next week. What’s the point? You want your life to make a difference. Others want their lives to make a difference too. Silas and Timothy encouraged Paul tremendously. They shared good news about the Christians in Thessalonica and a financial gift from the church in Philippi (1 Thessalonians 3:6-7). Their encouragement motivated Paul to devote himself to preaching the gospel in Corinth.
Jesus graciously appeared to Paul and encouraged him not to fear but to keep on preaching in Corinth. He promised His presence (verse 10), that no harm would come to him, and fruitful ministry. Expect the Lord to encourage you through His word, His Spirit, and others.
The Greek word for comfort includes both comfort and strength. The Bible is God’s gift to warn, exhort, and encourage you. In addition, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to comfort, strengthen, and encourage you. But don’t expect the Bible and the Holy Spirit to do all the work. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13, and Hebrews 10:25 command you to encourage other believers. Here’s how. Look for their strengths. Clap enthusiastically when they use them. You’ll make an incredible difference in their lives.
Open doors encourage you. Paul’s opponents charged him with teaching an illegal religion. Gallio, the Romans proconsul, tried the case. His refusal to act opened the door to the further spread of the gospel. In the United States, Christianity is a legal religion. The doors of ministry are wide open.
Fellow laborers Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos encouraged Paul. In his absence they carried on vital, life-changing ministry. Paul wasn’t in the battle alone. Neither are you. You’re part of a team. God has something for you to do.
During the reign of Oliver Cromwell, an English general and statesman, the government ran out of silver to make coins. Cromwell melted down the statues of the saints on display in various cathedrals. He put the silver in them into circulation. Be a saint in circulation. Spread much encouragement. That’s part of your purpose on earth!
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