Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Ministry of Encouragement

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.  Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  –Romans 15:4-6 (KJV)

A large part of my ministry is devoted to encouraging people.  This is one reason why I devote such time and energy to this blog.  I also am frequently involved in face-to-face situations with people who are struggling with all the challenges of life.  Life is difficult and continues to be even more so.  We need all the encouragement we can get.  God has given us His Word so we might find encouragement in our time of need, which is pretty much every day.  As life seeks to drag us down the Lord is there to lift us up.  This is where it becomes important that we be the vessels God intends to help those around us who are struggling. You might wonder if we are reaching out and helping other people in their struggles, then who will help us?  Good question. 

We have the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, prayer, and the fellowship of the church.  All of these work together for our strengthening and ongoing encouragement.  I have to wonder, however, how effective we as followers of Christ are doing with the task of encouraging others.  I fear the church is sometimes like an old joke I recall hearing many years ago.  A man said that a person on the street walked up to him and said, “Sir, I haven’t had a bite in three days.”  So, the man bit him!  God forbid that we respond to the needs of those around us with anything other than love, grace, compassion, mercy, and encouragement.  For too long Christians have been accused of being uncaring and out of touch.  We have the opportunity to change this negative perception. 

Perhaps you are going through a difficult time right now.  I have no way of knowing what sort of struggles you are facing, but I can hazard a guess.  Your struggles might involve marital problems, financial troubles, a wayward son or daughter, depression, anxiety issues, health problems, or a case of the blues.  Maybe you feel the weight of one or more of those issues even as you read this.  Let me encourage you today with the reminder that the Lord loves and cares for you.  Christ understands how we feel because He has walked in our shoes.  Do not give up, but be strengthened by the presence of Christ in the midst of your troubles.  God is able to bring you through to victory.

God’s Word promises that what was written therein was given for our comfort, encouragement, and hope.  As we walk in the spiritual strength the Lord provides, we are encouraged and able to offer encouragement to others.  You are stronger than you realize because you have the power of Christ indwelling you and empowering you to rich and vibrant faith, which leads to blessed hope.

Be encouraged and walk forward in faith encouraging others.  Shine the light of Jesus toward lost and troubled people.  They will be blessed, and so will you.

God bless you today.