Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 09/25/19


It takes COURAGE to encourage

STORY: The Letter E

When I worked in children’s ministry, we had a ministry production called Caraway Street, which was very similar to Sesame Street. We had a theme for each “show.” What fun, creating hilarious human characters and unique puppet personalities. It took a lot of work to make the puppets really talk!

I love thinking of words that go together that start with the same letter of the alphabet. In today’s study, we could say, “This episode brought to you by the Letter E.” Exhort. Edify. Encourage.

One of my favorite ways to be a part of the family of God is to practice the “Letter E” during interaction with my faith siblings. Today we’ll consider some of the practical ways we can do this.

STUDY: Encourage Others

When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24)

  • I pay attention when Barnabas is on the scene because he is known as The Great Encourager. Since our word study is on encouraging others, we want to see what Barnabas can teach us.
  • What filled Barnabas with joy?
  • What was his message of encouragement to the believers? What does that advice look like in everyday life? What is the opposite of staying true to the Lord?
  • How does this passage describe Barnabas? What are three strengths others would use to describe you?
  • What was the outcome of this encouragement ministry?

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)

  • What had Paul and Barnabas been busy doing? Did it make you tired reading of their travels and their ministry? What is the best way to not lose strength while strengthening others?
  • What was the message of encouragement in this passage?
  • The first message of encouragement is motivational. What would you call the last words here, being reminded of suffering? How is that a part of encouragement?

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. (1 Timothy 4:12-15)

  • Our personal demographics do not define our ability to be an example to others. For Timothy, his age could have been a reason for not doing the work of a Christ-follower. For us it might be some other label that we think hinders our ability to be a role model. What excuses do you say when you think you can’t do it or aren’t qualified? How do you remove those obstacles, and do it anyway?
  • The second sentence shows us how to be an example to all believers. Which one of these is the hardest for you?
  • What action steps did Paul give Timothy in the third sentence? Why do you think these are important?
  • What spiritual gifts do you have? How does your gift encourage others in their faith?
  • Look at the dedication needed to fulfill these action steps, by reading the last two sentences again. How will you give that sort of attention to your work?

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

  • This passage is like a do/don’t do/do sandwich. Can you identify the ingredients?
  • Rephrase the first sentence of the verse in your own words. What action step can you do this week that fits with this mission?
  • What is the “don’t do” part of this passage? Why is gathering together so important?
  • What are some ways others have encouraged you?
  • Every day we get closer to the day of Christ’s appearing and calling us home. Do you sometimes lose that sense of urgency in living your life for the Lord? How does knowing this current life doesn’t last forever impact your acts of encouragement?

I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. (1 Peter 5:12)

  • Wouldn’t it be great to be “commend-worthy” to other Christ-followers? Who do you see as a faithful brother or sister in Christ?
  • What was Peter’s purpose for sending this epistle?
  • Besides letter writing, what other ways can you encourage others? What message of encouragement could you share with them?
  • Part of encouraging someone is to assure them of a fact they can count on. What did Peter want the believers to be assured of? How would knowing that encourage you?

STEPS: Be an Encourager

Find someone who is...

  1. Struggling to stay faith-filled, and encourage their faith.
  2. Uncertain of biblical truths, and teach them the way.
  3. Brokenhearted, and apply the balm of comfort.
  4. Unemployed, and help them with resources.
  5. In poor health, and bless them with prayers and support.

Copyright © 2019 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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