2008-08-26 - How to be an Encourager
This past Sunday morning my pastor preached about Paul being a torchbearer. As a torchbearer, Paul shared the gospel light with non-believers and he kept the lights of other believers glowing brightly as well. In the first half of chapter 1 in his letter to the Romans, my pastor showed five ways Paul encouraged the Romans. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share these with you.
Romans 1:1-16 (NKJV) Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
First Paul reminded the Roman believers of who they were in Christ. We are the chosen. We are the elect. We are the body of Christ. We are the called out, the beloved of God, the bride of Christ, God's people secured by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit God Almighty himself. We are the redeemed of the Lord and it is time we stand up and say so. We all need to be reminded of our place with God from time to time. We all need to be reminded that we are part of something bigger than our individual selves are and that we are not alone. There is strength in numbers. Two are better than one. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) We need to remind one another that we are in this together and, also, with God. We are called by Jesus and to Jesus. With God, all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)
"Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (Romans 1:8)
Next Paul complemented the Roman church on their faith. There is nothing more uplifting than a kind, sincere word about you. Often as a teacher and a writer, I doubt myself. I wonder if I am good enough; I wonder if anything I say makes a difference. It's those periods of doubt where I cherish the affirming words of my brothers and sisters in Christ. When someone replies to a devotional telling me how it has encouraged, motivated, or touched them in anyway, I keep it. I have a folder within Outlook just for those. That way when slick-tongued Lucifer wants to whisper in my ear that I shouldn't bother writing anymore because it doesn't make a difference, that no one will care if I write a fresh new devotional, I can pull out some of those and read them and say, "Satan, you are a liar! My writing matters to God and it matters to Denise, to Mendy, to Bob, and to Joe." If your Sunday School teacher has helped you, pull him aside and let him know; better yet, let him know in front of the whole class. That alone will keep him fired up about teaching for a month. We need to brag on one another both privately and publicly from time to time.
"Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Romans 1:9)
Thirdly, Paul prayed for the church in Rome. As well as talking to one another about each other, we need to talk to God on the behalf of each other. I have a dear friend who often reminds me of the words of James, although she puts her own little twist on it: the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16) We are all in a spiritual battle each and every day. Each of us faces temptation. Each of us needs the shields of the soldiers around us to help cover us.
"Making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you for I long to see you" (Romans 1:10-11)
Paul expressed a desire to visit with and know the believers in Rome better. Paul didn't help establish the Roman church as he did with the church at Ephesus. He knew the Ephesians but he wanted to know the Romans personally as well. Calls, letters, and e-mails are great but we were created with a desire to be with others. Take the time to nurture a relationship with another Christian. Reach out to make new friends. Find common interests and offer to pursue them together. Everybody needs friends to surround them. Everybody needs to feel loved. As an older song says, "Love lifts us up where we belong". Take time this week to nurture a relationship with a fellow believer.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16)
Lastly, Paul was always ready and willing to share his testimony with others. We all should be willing to share our stories with one another. It is inspiring to me to hear how God has changed the lives of believers around me. It is interesting to notice the similarities and differences between how God called me to him and how he lead others to himself as well. When we hear about the power of God in others, it affirms that we have that same power available to us.
Go. Love and encourage one another in God's name.
All scripture references from KJV (King James Version) unless otherwise noted