Thursday, June 01, 2006

Encouragement (Acts 20)

Acts 20 is a quick paced tour of Paul’s third missionary journey. Paul is all over the place preaching and teaching Jesus Christ. Two verses pop out in this chapter and move me to action. I’d like to share them with you.

Acts 20:1-2,
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through the area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people.

Digging deeper in verse 2, we discover a gem of relevant Truth. Luke uses the Greek word parakaleo. Depending on what translation of the Bible you read, the word will be rendered as encouraged, exhorted, or to bring hope. I think if I could sum Paul’s ministry up in one word it would be, parakaleo. Here are some other verses in Acts where Paul or his companions encourage others (Acts 13:15-16, 14:22, 15:32, 16:40, 20:1). This is what the message of Jesus Christ was intended to bring to everyone! The relevancy here is all of God’s people have the ministry of encouragement to others. We’re constantly reminded throughout God’s Word to encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13).

I imagine the early believers needed encouragement daily in their salvation journey. The persecutions, riots, stoning, imprisonments, and deaths of Christians were just getting started. For them, meeting together as the Church was necessity. What an honor we (the Church) have today! We get to continue the ministry of encouragement to others. Another opportunity we have as the Church to minister to the world around us. Think of those within your own churches who need a warm word of encouragement. Also, think of those outside your church who need a word of encouragement. If we, who are born from above, can't offer them encouragement out of Agape love, who will?

Here are some simple ideas you could try out to help aid you in the ministry of encouragement.

1. Write a thank you letter to your pastor for preaching Truth and encouraging you.
2. Write a thank you letter to your spiritual mentor thanking him for encouraging you.
3. Write a thank you letter to anyone who is indirectly involved in the service (i.e., janitor(s) who make sure everything is clean, a deacon who shows up early to unlock doors and brew coffee, nursery workers, the grounds person who mows and cleans up the outside of the church, and anyone else who puts their time and effort into the church.)
4. Tell an elder in the church you want to start praying for him each week and ask him for prayer requests.
5. Tell your pastor(s) you want to pray for them each week and ask for prayer requests.
6. Leave an anonymous letter for someone in your church encouraging him or her in their faith walk.
7. Leave an anonymous letter for your pastor (s) encouraging him or her in their faith walk.
8. Leave an anonymous letter for your Sunday school teacher encouraging him or her in their faith walk.
9. Tell your Sunday school teacher how much you appreciate their effort, time, and hard work they put into teaching.
10. Write a letter to a teenager in your church encouraging them in their faith walk.
11. Form a prayer group who prays specifically for the encouragement of others in your church.
12. Form a prayer group who prays specifically for the encouragement of its pastor(s) in your church.
13. Take notice of the interests of others in your church and show you’re interested in what they’re interested in.
14. Invite a family over for a meal and fellowship. Use this time to encourage them.
15. Call a person from your church and offer to pray for them.
16. Ask some of the elderly people in your congregation if there are any ways you can be of help to them throughout the week.
17. Share a favorite verse of Scripture with someone you see at church.
18. Share what God has been teaching you with someone at church.
19. Share some of these verses in Acts and tell whomever you are sharing with how God has encouraged you.
20. Make a list of all the people who have encouraged you throughout your life and send each one a thank you letter.

I’m sure there are many ways (not listed) you can encourage others. Be creative and do it! The thought only counts if you put it in action. Oh, please don’t think I’m advocating sending anonymous letters of discouragement. To me, there isn’t a more cowardly thing a person could do. Remember, we are to be building one another up in love (Ephesians 4:29).

*Also, my wife finally put up a new post! Check it out at www.Trinasheets.blogspot.com

4 comments:

faithful follower 4ever said...

Pastor Tim,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. It is obvious how much time you spend reading scriptures, studying and researching other sources and actually writing your blog entries, which are always so well written in my opinion. I think I will find the time this week to take one of your suggestions for encouraging someone and actually do it--or maybe more than one. I'll start with you! Your youth are so blessed to have a spiritual leader such as you. I only hope they realize it and how much you obviously care about their spiritual well-being. Thank you!

John10 said...

Yeah, so, I recieved encouragement the other day and it was awesome! I felt better and more focused by it. Why do think that is? A question for anybody else out there is why don't we encourage each other more. When I'm at church I see people and they see me, but the convo goes no further than that. What's up?

Tim Sheets said...

Thanks for the comments guys/gals!

I appreciate encouragement and to tell you the truth, I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for a very encouraging family at home and church! I owe them a BIG THANKS!!! I'm also encouraged by the teens in our youth group.
Some of them have come so far, through so much, and are going to be world changers! Their passion and drive is inspiring! Keep it up and keep your focus on Christ!

As for why we don't encourage one another more, I don't know. Maybe we just don't think about it and how important it really is. I was hoping this would inspire us to think a little more about it and hopefully start doing it.

If you have any stories about encouragement or how someone encouraged you and helped you through a bad time, please share with us.

yourblogreader said...

I love to be encouraged and to encourage others. If you think about it, there is always something good you can say to somebody. I believe the desire to encourage comes from God. Maybe we should pray for more passion to encourage others? A church where people go around encouraging one another is a true NT church. Thanks Pastor Tim for your example of Jesus that you live before our teens. We are blessed to have you as our youth pastor.