Devotional August 2019
The Power of Encouragement
‘He (Paul) travelled through that area speaking many words of encouragement to the people.’ Acts 20: 2
When I asked the Lord today what He wanted me to share for this new devotional, the phrase ‘the power of encouragement’ came to my mind.
I was reading Acts 20 and was struck by the way Paul sought to encourage people wherever he went. At that time Paul’s life was a roller coaster of joy and fear as he travelled from place to place seeing people respond to the Gospel then being confronted by rioting, angry Jews. Humanly it must have been exhausting with the mood constantly changing from receptive to murderously angry. If I was in a situation like that I would probably be too anxious to think of encouraging others, but Paul had a passion to build the church up and help the new Christians mature in their faith. The churches he planted were in constant danger but Paul’s words of encouragement empowered the new leaders and gave them strength and wisdom to continue. How wonderful and how challenging too, for God has called us all to be encouragers, not just Paul. I looked the word encouragement up and it has some lovely meanings, ‘buoy up’, ‘strengthen’, ‘inspire’ , ‘challenge’, ‘root for’, ‘believe in’, ‘give hope, courage and purpose’. In Isaiah we see a lovely and inspiring description of encouragement: ‘Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “be strong, do not fear, your God will come.”’ 35:3-4
When we feel fearful or disillusioned it does have a very physical as well as emotional effect. We may feel lethargic and weary as if we are powerless to do anything; aches, pains and various symptoms can assail us; every job or challenge a huge mountain to climb…
Do you feel like that today?
God wants to encourage you that He knows how discouragement can cripple us but He has set it in place that we mutually build each other up and impart fresh hope and purpose. We are not all anointed to lead evangelistic crusades or heal the multitudes, but we are all called to encourage and strengthen each other. It’s exciting because it's something we can all do and know that we are really changing things for someone. Today I wanted to encourage our new cleaner, a single mum and a non Christian, so I texted her and thanked her for her work yesterday and told her she was a lovely person and was doing a great job. She texted back to say how much she appreciated what I’d said. It had lifted her up to face the new day.
I could easily have not done that, but I am so glad I did. All it takes is a few minutes to say something affirming to someone, to let a friend know you are praying for them; to send a card or to phone someone who is down and let them know they are thought of. What about encouraging your church minister or your hairdresser? Or if you’ve been inspired by a book or a CD or a talk, why not write something encouraging to the author or speaker? It’s amazing how much of a sense of well being and renewed purpose we can impart to others just by taking a few minutes to pray, think and act.
I hope this is an inspiration and encouragement to you!
‘Father, thank you that you are our greatest encourager. You love to build us up, to strengthen us and renew our hope and trust. Please anoint me so that I too can be a real channel of your encouragement to others.’ Amen.