Week 4/Day 3: Encourage

Day 3: Come Alongside

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them “Come and see.”

John 1:38-39 NKJV

Stacy says:

Early in my marriage, just after I started working in the public school system, things kind of fell apart for me. I was struggling in so many areas, especially spiritually. I attended a small group one night with a friend and the leader said, Hey, if you ever need anything give me a call. I nodded yes, but never intended to call… ever. When bad turned to worse, I found myself sitting on my friend’s floor completely undone, I called. Well… my friend called for me.

The leader, who was a pastor though I didn’t know it, and his wife came alongside me in a way I can never explain. They spent hours listening to me, encouraging me, and challenging me. My faith grew, my prayer life grew, my hope grew. Because the two of them were willing to invest in me, I am changed. God used their encouragement to transform my life in so many ways.

My heart overflows with gratitude for them. There is no way to say thank you enough. No words to express what God did through them. But one day they’ll know. I believe God will reveal their influence in my life and the countless others they have come alongside. There will be a day when their “Come and see” encouragement will be their crown.

Until then I strive to take what they invested in me and give it forward in the same way. I too want to encourage by inviting others to “Come and see.”

Carol says:

The greatest impact and encouragement in writing for Him early on came from the sister’s offer to walk with me through the process of turning a t-shirt idea into a Bible study.

At her kitchen bar, I would spread out the week’s worth of study, insights, words, and questions. She would challenge, ask her own questions, push me to explain my understanding, and occasionally say: “That’s good.” In the process, through her support and instruction, the vision of being one who writes about His Word was strengthened.

Coming alongside Stacy, who was far ahead of me on the spiritual and theological journey, moved me along so much faster. Actually made me believe this was a calling on my life. A great bonus from this season of encouragement is the relationship which formed, and the way God continues to grow us and use us to minister to others.

There is no greater encouragement than taking time to share and teach what you already know with others. Inviting them alongside you in your journey says, “You can do this too. Come and see.”

We saw how Jesus inspired four of His disciples to follow Him by casting a vision for something greater. Now let’s look at how He encouraged another disciple to follow Him.

Read Luke 5:17-28 and Matthew 9:1-9

What happened just prior to Jesus calling a tax collector to be His disciple?

How did Levi aka Matthew respond to the call?

How did He encourage Matthew to follow a new path? to make a drastic change?

Tax collectors were generally detested. Fellow Jews looked down on Jewish tax collectors because they worked for Gentiles. Plus, the occupation as a whole had a reputation for greed, harshness, and deception in the performance of their work for the government (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). It was a post which bred corruption.

Notice, this tax collector was known by two names: Levi and Matthew. Levi in Hebrew means “joined” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). This was a man who joined the ways of the world, walking away from his Jewish heritage for whatever reason. Then Jesus came along. Teaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing paralytics, and invites him, Levi, a tax collector, to come alongside what He was doing. He said: Follow Me.

Can you imagine how such an invitation from Jesus would be an encouragement? Jesus called Levi to join Him in working for the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of men. Jesus changed the identity of this tax collector from being one who joins whatever, to being part of a greater purpose. Levi’s name was eventually changed to Matthew, which means “a gift from God” (ESL).

By inviting Matthew to be His disciple, Jesus supported the idea that He was capable of so much more. The invitation moved him to see himself as something greater than the leaders of his church saw him. Matthew became one of the twelve apostles and the writer of the gospel which bears his new name.

When we step out and support someone with teaching, instruction, and guidance, we encourage them to do something they may never have thought they could do. Our invitation to come alongside says, I see something in you which I want to help you develop. You can do this if you want to come and see what I have to teach.

An invitation to come alongside encourages the invitee to believe they can do it. It instills a sense of value and worth. Otherwise, why would they ask? Besides teaching someone something new, we can take hold of another to support them in a way which broadens their influence. Introducing them to a group where they need connections in order to grow in their gift or new identity. Give them a reference, an in, to someplace they might not otherwise be able to access.

Paul, also known as Saul, was a persecutor of the church, until he had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. The meeting left him radically changed and he became a sold-out preacher and follower of Jesus.

Read Acts 9:19b-28

Why did Paul have to leave Damascus?

What happened when Paul came to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples?

Who stepped in to help Paul? How did he help Paul? What was the result?

Paul’s former reputation preceded him, and the Believers in Jerusalem didn’t trust his transformation. But God provided someone to come alongside Paul. Barnabas took hold of Paul and brought him before the church leadership. Going straight to the apostles, Barnabas vouched for Paul and gave him credibility in the church so Paul could continue preaching Jesus.

Barnabas already had a reputation of his own. He knew the power of encouragement. Previously he was known as Joseph (Acts 4:36), a Levite from Cyprus. Upon his conversion he was inspired to sell a field and give the money to the apostles. The apostles gave Joseph a new name: Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas’ financial gift to the newly formed church provided great encouragement.

Giving support through money and time provides encouragement to a ministry or organization. It not only provides physical strength but emotional. Support through gifts and service helps ministries see the impact they are making. It is evidence of fulfilling their purpose and the value of their work.

Coming alongside someone with an invitation to instruct and mentor, make introductions to increase influence, or invest resources provides encouragement which strengthens and supports their calling and purpose.

When it comes to fellowship and faith, the strengthening of our brothers and sisters in Christ is key to strengthening the church.

Talk It Out

Talk it over with yourself:

Have you been invited by someone to come alongside to learn from them? Did you see it as an encouragement? Did you take them up on their offer? Why or why not?

Have you asked someone to come alongside you because you saw something in them? wanted to encourage them? If you invited, what happened? If you didn’t, why didn’t you?

Talk it over with God:

Ask God to use you to come alongside someone in your faith community who needs the encouragement of support, comfort, or guidance. Ask Him to make you a “son of encouragement.”

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…

Romans 15:5 NIV

Exercise Your Faith

Encourage:  

Again, in response to your talk with God, ask Him who you can come alongside in your faith community who needs the encouragement of support. Follow His instructions in how to encourage them.

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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