Yesterday was a sermon about the encouragement the Antioch church received from the letter written by the apostles and elders from the Jersusalem church. This word "encourage" means "to call beside"...it's very, "we're in this together" and "lean on me" in it's meaning. The church is a place of encouragment and I can testify that I am who I am today because of so many encouraging voices:
My first and second grade Sunday school teacher (Avis Milford) encouraged me to love the Bible and learn it. Now in her mid 80's she still writes me a hand-written letter of encouragement everytime I write an article for the Christian Standard.
My mom encouraged me to truly love and serve people. I don't really live up to her standards of loving others, but I her encouragement to love is deep within me.
My dad encouraged me to preach the Word and to be optimistic (which I hope is truly faith, lived out). I don't remember exact conversations, but I know we had them about preaching and before he passed on, I'm sure he was my biggest fan.
My wife has encouraged me for the past 28 years. Even before we were married. She told me early on that she thought God was going to do something great in my life...and her consistent (sometimes loud and sometimes gentle:-) words of encouragement have carried me many times.
My staff encourages me almost daily. There are not many weeks where someone on my staff doesn't tell me that they appreciate being on this team and working together in the Lord. I'm blessed by their words....they inspire me to do greater service for God and make me want to be a better shepherd.
The elders encourage me. The men who I serve with as shepherd/leaders here constantly send me e-mails thanking me for preaching or leadership. NOTE: they also speak truthfully and lovingly about my weaknesses, but we love each other that much.
The people of Eastview encourage me. Even though I told people yesterday that I was not asking for encouragement from them, I have already received 5 encouraging e-mails this morning!
What's the point? The point is that all the stuff I am able to do by God's grace and His Spirit's power in my ministry has been strengthened by the Christian steroid (listen to yesterday's sermon for explanation) called ENCOURAGEMENT! So here are some questions for you to ponder: 1. Who encouraged and encourages you ....return the encouragement
2. Who around you could be so much better for God if you would encourage them?
3. Who has great potential but just needs a word of encouragement?
4. Who is about ready to quit, but a word from you would keep them going?
Answer the questions and then live out I Thessalonians 5:11 today.