24 October 2016
Reading: Job 12-14; Acts 19-20
1 When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. 2 While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece… (Acts 20:1-2 NLT)
Paul had spent two years evangelizing and discipling Christ-followers in Ephesus. He had developed deep and rich relationships with the believers in that church and was well-known throughout the city for his boldness for Jesus Christ. The time in Ephesus wasn’t without its challenges. In fact, Acts 19 tells of a riot set off by the leaders of the idol-making guild accusing Paul and his friends of destroying the local tourist economy by turning people from idolatry to faith in Jesus! Paul barely escaped with his life!
During Paul’s two years with the Ephesian believers, he encouraged them. When he prepared to leave, he encouraged them. When he visited the churches of Macedonia and Greece on his journey, he encouraged them. Paul “encouraged” (put courage into) the people he influenced. I think his friend and mentor Barnabas taught him that!
People get discouraged. They get discouraged by the financial challenges they face. They get discouraged by difficult relationships. They get discouraged by things others do that are beyond their control. They get discouraged by criticism and lack of appreciation. They get discouraged by their own weaknesses and failures. I get discouraged, too. Don’t you?
People need to be encouraged. I want to encourage my wife and kids. I want to encourage the people I work with here in Bend. I want to encourage the pastors and congregations of the churches we interact with. I want to encourage the people we know and love around the world. I’m determined to be an encourager.
Are you an identifiable encourager? Are you in need of encouragement? May God send you an encourager and make you an encourager today!
Father, Please may I be a source and instrument of wisdom and encouragement to others. Any others. Many others. May my words and my actions put fresh courage into those whose courage has ebbed away or been stolen by tough challenges and inconsiderate people. Please help my friends and me to be encouragers. Amen.