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Encouragement is so powerful.  The New Testament reveals that encouragement was a regular part of the early church’s life together.  I’m not talking about a culture of mere compliments like, “Nice toga,” or “Cute sandals,” or “Where did you get your beautiful head covering?”  I’m talking about a culture of encouragement that enabled people to know truth and to be able to press on and overcome in times of opposition, discouragement, depression and oppression from Satanic and earthly forces.  I’m talking about an encouragement that helped people stay grounded in grace, that gave people courage to keep pressing and stay focused on Jesus and His plan for their life, for their gifts for their vocation, for their relationships, for their resources.

In Acts 13:15 and the following verses, Paul was given an opportunity to encourage those who were in the Synagogue and Paul preached a powerful and encouraging word using Scripture and through recalling the recent events of how Jesus rose from the dead. It was called a “word of exhortation,” and Paul chronicled the history of Israel up to his present moment.  Verse 48 says that the Gentiles who heard his message of encouragement were glad and honored the word of the Lord and that many were saved.  Paul’s exhortation to those gathered there brought eternal life to those who heard and believed.  That is powerful!

In Acts 16:40, When Paul and Silas got out of prison, they went to Lydia’s house where they met with other believers and encouraged them.  No doubt they told about their prison break through a supernatural earthquake and after which the jailer got saved!  Their testimony helped them see there was a God-ordained reason for them to have gone to that prison cell.  Paul and Silas had been jailed in order to set the jailer free in Jesus’ name!

In Acts 18:27, when a guy named Apollos had it put on his heart to go to the town of Achaia, the believers that were with him encouraged him to go and they sent letters to the disciples in Achaia, asking them to welcome Apollos when he got there.  They got behind Apollos.  They sent him with courage.  They went a step further and asked those he was going to, to receive him.  They were references for Apollos to the people of Achaia.  They put in the good word for his ministry.  What an encouragement to Apollos to know that other believers had his back and were working to prepare the way for Him to do the Lord’s work.

In Acts 20:-1-2 we read about how Paul spent time encouraging the people who had been following Jesus in Ephesus after rioting had taken place in the city.  No doubt they needed to be reassured that they were doing the right thing. Even when the preaching of the Gospel would stir people up and potentially start a riot from those who would resist it, it was the right thing to do.  The people who had gone through the riot were no doubt shaken up.  They needed encouraged to keep on.

Every one of us needs people who will exhort us with the Word of God.  Each of us needs encouragement in the middle of a difficult situation to believe that God has a reason for allowing us to be where we are, even if it seems we are in a season where we are confined or limited somehow.  We all need the encouragement that comes from other believers speaking well of us to others.  And we all need encouragement to keep on doing the right thing even when it is the hard thing.

I challenge you to become an intentional encourager for the purpose of spurring God’s people to stay in the race, to stay faithful to the mission, to grow in grace, and to continue to serve others in the Lord’s name.  Someone needs your spiritual insight.  Someone needs your pastoral care.  Someone needs to hear that you miss them in church.  Someone needs you to invite them to sit with you and have lunch after church with you.  Someone needs to be in Sunday School with you.  Someone needs to get to youth group.  Someone needs to take the next step with Jesus, and they need somebody who will pick up the phone and say, “How can I encourage you in your walk with Jesus today?”

II Thessalonians 2:16-17- 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Let God have His way in your life, and look for ways to create a culture of encouragement in the lives of the people around you.

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