Week 4/Day 5: Encourage

Day 5: God Our Encourager

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

2Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV

Carol says:

God is my encourager in every way.

His Word speaks truth to my heart I desperately need. He encourages me to raise hands to Him in praise. He challenges me to press forward when things are hard.

Just thinking about it leaves me speechless. I can’t put into words what His encouragement means.

Honestly… I don’t know how I ever managed without Him.

Stacy says:

Every word Jesus spoke as He lived His life were words of encouragement. With every whispered leading, I hear His Spirit encouraging me. Come closer… go deeper… turn this way… don’t do that… I am for you.

I. Am. For. You!

God created, Jesus lived, and the Holy Spirit moves all to encourage me to boldly say, God is for me. He wants the best for me and sees the best in me. He longs to hold His children close and speak love.

It’s hard to imagine it, but this is His heart for all of us. What kind of God is this? What kind of God grabs us up tight and whispers, I am for you. What more could we need?

As we have seen, encouragement builds up God’s church for His glory. His purpose in calling us to encourage one another is for the maturing of Believers to the likeness of Christ.

Ultimately, God is the only true source of encouragement. He equips, enables, and directs us for His purpose.

Read Romans 15:5-6

Who is God according to the passage?

What can He enable us to do?

We’ve spent time reflecting on these verses this week, recognizing God in and through the encouragement we received and gave. They clearly tell us, God is the God of endurance and encouragement.

He grants Believers encouragement to enable us to live in harmony with one another and with Jesus, so we can proclaim the Father’s glory with one voice. This is His purpose in offering encouragement and calling us to encourage others.

There are three primary sources through which His encouragement comes: His Word, His Spirit, and His people.

Read Romans 15:4

Why were the Scriptures written?

When this letter was written to the Roman church, the Scriptures referred to the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. Since then the New Testament has been added. It was all recorded for our encouragement.

God uses His written Word to speak encouragement of all kinds into our lives.

Read Acts 13:13-34

What did the rulers of the synagogue in Antioch ask for from Paul and Barnabas?

What did Paul tell them?

The leaders of the synagogue asked their visitors for a word of encouragement for the people of God. Paul stood, and beginning with the birth of the nation of Israel out of the womb of slavery in Egypt, he told them the good news of the gospel through the history of their people.

Old Testament Scripture tells the story of the Israelites and contains the key to recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. The ultimate word of encouragement is the Gospel.

Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). The Good News. He is our encouragement and made the way for us to receive the Holy Spirit. The second means God uses to lift us up and move us forward.

Read Psalm 51:11-12

David wrote this psalm. Whose presence does he long to retain?

How does he express the encouragement he receives from the Holy Spirit?

Before Jesus’s work on the cross, the Holy Spirit’s presence was limited to a few Old Testament saints anointed by God. David was one (1Samuel 16:13).

David wrote this psalm after Nathan called him out for his adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband. David knew the sorrow of being separated from God’s Spirit because of his sin. He pled with God not to remove His Spirit from his life, so he might continue to experience the encouragement of the Holy Spirit: the joy of salvation and a willing spirit.

To have the Holy Spirit living in us as New Testament saints is an even greater blessing.

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV

We have the guarantee of an eternal inheritance because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And because of His presence, God’s people can be an encouragement to one another (Philippians 2:1-2).

Read 1Thessalonians 5:14

What are Believers urged to do?

What forms of encouragement do you see in this command?

In this verse we see Believers being urged to practice every aspect of encouragement: inspire those who are fainthearted, come alongside those who need help and comfort, and bless the idle with sharp words to get them up and moving.

What you don’t see, what’s not so visible in the translation, is this verse in and of itself is an encouragement to the entire community of Believers. The Greek translated as “urge” is the word translated in other places as encourage. We encourage you, brothers, admonish… encourage… help… be patient…

We are all encouraged to be encouragers for God, the spreading of the gospel for the building of His Kingdom, and to do it all under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He alone knows each heart and what it needs to be encouraged.

When we bless others with encouragement, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we speak for God. So, whether you hear encouragement from His Word, His Spirit, or His people, pay attention and be encouraged.

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart…

Talk It Out

Talk it over with yourself:

Consider a time you received encouragement from God. What means did He use? His Word? His Spirit? His people? What was the outcome of His encouragement?

Consider each aspect of encouragement: inspiration, support, discipline. Which type are you most receptive to? Why? For those types of encouragement you find hard to receive, does it help you to accept them more readily when you remember they are from God? Explain.

Talk it over with God:

Ask God to soften your heart to the encouragement He wants to bring in your life.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

Hosea 10:12 ESV

Exercise Your Faith

Encourage:  

You’ve asked God to soften your heart to His encouragement today. Is there someone in your life you’ve been called to encourage? What has held you back, kept you from speaking or doing?

Sometimes God reveals the encouragement someone needs, but the timing never feels quite right. They too may need a softened heart. Pray for the one you feel led to encourage.

Ask God to soften their heart and prepare the soil for His encouragement. As you wait for the right time to plant the seed, continue to pray for 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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