Week 4/Day 2: Encourage

Day 2: Inspire

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5 ESV

Stacy says:

Almost a year ago I resigned as Director of Children’s Ministry at my church. When word got out people would ask me, What are you going to do now? I replied, Work one job instead of two. It was my plan until my Spiritual Director sent an email encouraging me to consider spiritual direction training for myself. I read her words and shook my head. Nope, not doing it. I don’t want to get locked into three years of something. I’m on the horizon of some free time and margin. You want me to have margin, right God?

God wouldn’t leave me alone about it and eventually I applied. I prayed God would close the door if it wasn’t His will. The board asked for an interview during a silent retreat I was attending. I interviewed and didn’t feel too great about it. I continued to ask God to close or open the door.

While on the retreat I crossed paths with the preacher in charge of the camp grounds. He is an old friend and hired me for the church position twenty years ago. I waved and he waved me over. What are you going to do after you finish up your church responsibilities, He asked. I broke my silence for a moment and told him about my application and interview. His nodded his head in response, Yep, isn’t it the natural order of things…

It was all the encouragement I needed to catch a glimpse of the vision, the full picture. I received my acceptance letter and began the process a few months ago. Even though I thought it was where God called me, I still had doubts, especially after my first day-long training was full of tears and panic attacks.

The very next day I was at church and one of the pastors I worked under asked me, What are you going to do now as you finish up your church responsibilities. Yes, I’ve answered the question at least a thousand times. I shared with her about the training.

That’s so you! Exactly what I can see you doing!

Her encouragement gave me the push I needed to focus on the vision God placed in me.

It is a beautiful thing to experience God using others to confirm and encourage me as I begin this journey. It’s exactly how encouragement works in the body of Christ.

Carol says:

Inspiration. It’s what moves me to write.

I do the work of study, mining His Word for the next topic. Going to resources which come to mind. Digging. Taking notes. Seeing the beginnings of connections. But unsure where to start. I put it down. Walk away. Wait. Listen.

When the Spirit inspires with a key sentence or the formation of an outline, hurriedly I write it down. Moved to fill a white page with words. And the jumble of pieces fall into place.

Inspiration starts the process.

Encouragement can inspire someone to venture out into something new or be emboldened to move forward. One of the key elements to instilling inspiration is casting a vision of what could be or what is sure to be.

Read Mark 1:14-20

What was Jesus doing in Galilee? What was His message?

What kind of vision did He cast for four fishermen along the Sea of Galilee? What was there response?

Simon and Andrew, James and John had heard Jesus preach. He even appropriated Simon’s boat for a sermon one day (Luke 5:1-3). They had seen His miracles and knew Him to be a Rabbi like none they had ever seen.

Then one day, He stops by their boats, common fishermen casting nets into the sea. Watching them, He casts the vision of them catching men for God, rather than fish for men. The vision inspired them to drop their fishing nets, leave their boats, even family, and follow Him into a whole new endeavor.

Visions not only inspire or incite someone into something new, they help us persevere during the battles which arise along the way. For those of us in Christ Jesus, we are emboldened by the reminders of His return and all it will entail, not just for us as individuals but for the whole world.

Read Romans 8:22-23

With what pains is the whole creation groaning?

What is creation eagerly awaiting?

What vision is cast in these Scriptures?

The whole creation, including Believers, groan with labor pains, while we wait for the birth of something new. Complete redemption of the sons of God, bodies and all.

If you’ve been through childbirth or watched someone in labor, you know the pains can be great. A lot of groaning is involved. Encouragement comes from nurses toward the end to push: I see the head, you’re almost there. Words which remind the end is near and you’ll soon be holding a new creation in your arms. A reminder of what the battle is all about can inspire a mom to continue.

Reminders of the eternal renewal we’re waiting on as Believers inspires us to continue to persevere through the battles of discouragement.

Read Revelation 21:1-5

These are words from the revelation or vision John received while exiled in a Roman penal colony on the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel. What did Jesus show him?

How do you suppose this vision inspired him?

The entire book of Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus for the encouragement of His church. It depicts what’s coming for Believers and unbelievers alike. One day, when Jesus returns, everything will be settled. Fixed in place.

Never again will there be a temptation to fall away. Nothing to cause pain, anger, dis-ease, or death. No reason to weep, only rejoice, for those who persevere, who keep the vision of what is to come before them. They will receive the rewards of heaven.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12 NIV

An inspirational vision has the power to reveal what you see in others, but they can’t. It can remind the fellowship of Believers of their purpose and what the future in Christ holds. Visions encourage followers of Christ to use the gifts they’ve been given for His glory and remember His glory is coming. Soon.

Talk It Out

Talk it over with yourself:

Have you ever been inspired to do something new? What inspired you? What did you do?

Has there been a time you inspired someone else? How did you do it? What was the outcome?

Talk it over with God:

Consider where you are most discouraged in your walk of faith today. Ask God to inspire you with a vision to move you forward, embolden you to focus on your purpose in His Kingdom, and the promise of what is sure to come.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more.

Revelation 22:1-5 ESV

Exercise Your Faith

Encourage:  

In response to your talk with God, create for yourself a vision which inspires you to stay focused on His promises. Whether you use words, pictures, a collection of items, or a piece of jewelry, choose it because it encourages your faith.

Place it in a prominent place where you see it regularly to remind you of His promise and your purpose in His plan. Something to inspire when you are feeling discouraged or stuck.

Reflection Scripture: Examen

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6 ESV

Read the Reflection Scripture.

Enter God’s presence by inviting the Holy Spirit into your prayer. Take a few deep breaths and focus on Him.

Ask God the following questions. Take time after each question to listen and let Him speak to you.

Think back through your day, the things you did, the people you encountered…

When did I feel encouraged today?
When did I encourage someone else?
Was there a moment of discouragement?
What about the encouragement moved me closer to God?

End your Examen with thanksgiving for God’s encouragement. You may also want to journal, draw, take a prayer walk, or sing a song of praise in response to your time with Him.

[Feature Image Photo seen on website by sydney zentz on Unsplash]

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