From the very start of this pandemic, I was encouraging friends across the country who were stuck at home to start a “Quarantine Ministry” using their gifts, talents, and passions. I’ve heard so many incredible stories of how the Lord has used them, despite being stuck at home, I thought I’d share a few stories. A Elementary School Teacher used her skills to help Moms at home come up with creative ways to help their kids learn. A friend who’s a very talented seamstress learned of a need for masks and has sewn over 200. But the miraculous part of this story is that the supplies she started out with have never run out! Another friend started a daily video online of encouraging Scriptures to comfort and inspire those she couldn’t be with physically. God uses us to console the downcast…and in return, we ourselves are refreshed, renewed, restored, and revitalized. (Proverbs 11:25)
In God, we have a good, good Father. A heavenly Father that wants only the very best for His children. So as Followers of Christ, we too should affirm the good in others. For if we have willingly and freely accepted the Lord’s invitation of salvation into our lives…we need to live out to the best of our ability His example. For there’s enough negativity already in the world today…but Believers can change that by simply seeing and affirming the good in others.
You can’t have faith without hope…and hope without faith…they go hand and hand together. When shattered human emotions come to the point of hopelessness, there’s nothing left but disillusionment and a broken spirit. But if we have faith, we are lifted up and supported…encouraged and assured that God is there. Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He Who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” The Lord is always there to comfort the brokenhearted and grief-stricken. For faith will give way to hope…and hope will usher in faith.
Even though Paul was addressing this letter to the Church in Thessalonica…he probably could be speaking directly to any modern-day Church you know. Certain members of the Thessalonian Church, in anticipation of Christ’s return, had become careless and neglectful of their responsibility to work and support themselves. In other words…they were sitting around, waiting for the Rapture! Now, we may not see that degree of slothfulness in Church today…but what you can see is the attitude that “It’s me and Thee, God, and I’m not worrying about anybody else.” Paul warned that laziness and apathy would contribute to the downfall of any Church. Secondly, as the Church Body, we are to be Spiritual Cheerleaders for the fainthearted…the worry-warts…and those who can only see the cup half empty. We are to be encouragers of each other. Finally, as the Church, we are all to be ready with a helping hand for those who are weak spiritually, for when they grow, the Church grows.
If there are young people in your house, you probably either formally, or informally have House Rules. Principles that help maintain order, routine, and guidance for everyone within the household. The same goes for the Body of Christ. This House Rule – If it cries…love it, takes it context from II Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” He is the God of all comfort…extending mercy, love and encouragement to us in our times of crisis and pain. And in that, we learn how to pattern and demonstrate that same love to others.
What happens when you encourage someone? They hear those words of inspiration and their spirit is renewed and energized. And as their spirit is lifted, that encouragement gives them the courage to persevere through the challenges they face. Never refuse the chance to encourage someone…it may be the one word they need to hang on.
When we come together as God’s family, my spirit and yours are refreshed. (I Cor. 16:18) The Lord has opportunity to minster through you and me to touch others with encouragement when we meet together. He can also move corporately throughout to refresh…exhorting, inspiring, and spurring on. But when you decide not to go to Church or Bible Study or Prayer Group for selfish reasons, you are denying others the blessing of giving and receiving hope and inspiration through your absence. Never believe that you don’t matter in the Family of God, for you are a very important and intricate part of the spiritual community called the Body.
Everyone can use encouragement…everyone likes words of appreciation. This week I was explaining to a group of ladies the purpose of this Devotional. Over 4 years ago, the Lord challenged me to become a modern-day Barnabas…an encourager of others. And in today’s world of negativity – I would challenge you also to become that man or woman of God that strengthens those around you…renewing souls with encouragement and gratitude…reviving and renewing those who are discouraged and down-trodden. A kind word could be life changing to someone around you today….resolve to be a Barnabas.
There’s no way around it…we all need to be around fellow Believers. There’s nothing like being with like-minded Christians…sharing, listening, and bearing each others burdens in prayer. All of us need encouragement and our faith strengthened by interacting with other Believers…we all need to hear how God is moving in other’s lives. As it says in Proverbs 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Think of it…something the Lord has brought you through is exactly what someone needs to hear today.