Summary: Over the next two weeks we are going to talk about encouragement. Next week we will look in God’s Word to find some very specific ways we can encourage people. But tonight we are going to focus on the amazing power of your encouragement.
The Positive Power of Encouragement - Part 1
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - May 6, 2009
*Can you remember the last time someone encouraged you? -- Going out the door Sunday, a couple of people told me they love me. Now, that was encouraging! I know you love me, but people don’t usually say it going out the door, and it gave me a real boost. Can you remember the last time someone encouraged you? -- Maybe it was through a card or a call or just a few kind words. Didn’t it lighten your load? Didn’t it make your day a little brighter?
*Over the next two weeks we are going to talk about encouragement. Next week we will look in God’s Word to find some very specific ways we can encourage people. But tonight we are going to focus on the amazing power of your encouragement.
1. First: Your encouragement can help carry someone through a crisis.
*Vs. 19 reminds us that these early Christians were going through a terrible crisis: “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.”
*This was a most difficult time for the church. One of their best leaders, Stephen, had been cruelly murdered. That alone was a terrible blow to the church. But the crisis did not stop with Stephen’s death. On the contrary, his murder opened the floodgate of persecution on the other believers. Before he got saved, the Apostle Paul was one of the ringleaders. His original name was Saul, and Acts 8:3-4 tells us that: “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”
*People were being beaten, thrown into jail, even killed, just because they were followers of Jesus Christ. People had to run for their lives! The church was scattered. But as they went, they preached the Good News about Jesus, and many people turned to the Lord. So in vs. 22, the church in Jerusalem sent a man to help out in Antioch. He first came on the scene in Acts 4, and his name was Joses. But he was such an encourager that they gave him a nickname: “Barnabas, The Son of encouragement.” And his encouragement helped these people through their crisis.
*Over 50 years ago, R.A. Bosshardt and a man named Hayman were taken prisoner by the Communists in China. They sat on the freezing ground one December day, no fire, just a little rice and vegetables to eat. They were forbidden by the cruel guards to even speak.
*Things couldn’t have seemed more gloomy and dismal. But the Holy Spirit sent a one word message to R.A. that made a world of difference. That word was “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” It was one of the names given to Jesus, because He truly is God with us. -- God with all who trust in Him.
*R.A. wanted to pass his joy on to Mr. Hayman, so he formed the letters on the ground with pieces of straw. It was just one word on the cold, hard ground, written in pieces of straw. But that one word of encouragement turned their cell into a place of great joy. (1)
-And your encouragement can help carry someone through a crisis.
2. But it can also make a blessing even better.
*In spite of the crisis (and partially because of the crisis) great things were happening in Antioch. We see this in vs. 20&21:
20. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
*Great things were happening in Antioch, -- the greatest blessing of all: People were believing in Jesus, turning to the Lord and getting saved! But encouragement can make a great blessing even better. So in vs. 22-23, the church sent Mr. Encouragement to Antioch:
22. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.
23. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
*The church sent Barnabas to Antioch. And God wants to send you to encourage somebody. Are you willing to go? I hope so because your encouragement can make a blessing even better.
3. And it can help someone stick closer to the Savior.