Summary: A little encouragement will go a long way!
• There is an old story about a preacher leaving a church. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage one of the pillar members, “Don’t be so sad. The next preacher might be better than me.” She replied, “That’s what they said last time, but it keeps getting worse.” (Source: John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, p. 159).
• That was something encouraging to hear wasn’t it?
• Life can be very challenging most of the time. As we live our lives, we need a lot of help along the way.
• SLIDE #1
• We face so many challenges at every turn, it is important for us to have people in our lives that will get behind us to tell us we can do it.
• What do people need when they are struggling? Encouragement! What do people need when they need to be challenged to do something that may seem out of their normal range of ability? Encouragement.
• Those who have children, when they make those first attempts at walking, what do you do? “Come on dummy, you should be walking by now, you are 4 months old!
• No, you try to encourage them.”
• What does a person who is struggling with their faith need from other people? They need to have someone tell them they are worthless and are going to hell for messing up. They need for us to just ignore them and hope they go away!
• SLIDE #2
• William Arthur Ward said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”
• What can change the life of another person? Encouragement!
• Our lives are full of people who have taken the time to encourage us along life’s way.
• Today we are going to look at the concept of encouragement. I hope this message will inspire us to encourage one another as we try to grow in Christ.
I. WHAT IS ENCOURAGEMENT?
• When we say we are encouraging another person what does that really mean?
• Are we encouraging someone when we yell at them or tell them they are not going to amount to nothing in life?
• Is being critical of everything being an encourager?
• I have been taking Rachel to the indoor batting cages and we have to laugh when we see some of the fathers working with their young children. Many we have seen are harsh and gruff with their little boys. You know what is sad; I can remember a time not too long ago when I was that way with Rachel.
• I used to think I was helping her by riding her hard. Do not get me wrong, there is a time to get on them, but that cannot be the only means of “encouragement” we give.
• When you are around other Christians who are struggling, be careful that you are not only pointing out what they are doing wrong, make sure you are encouraging them to stay in the game.
What does the word “encourage” mean?
1. To encourage means to “come along side of.”
• If we are going to encourage others, we need to come along side of them and help them.
• The word can mean that we come along side of them to urge or admonish (or caution) them. SLIDE #5
• The root for the word “encourage” comes from the same word Jesus uses when speaking of the Holy Spirit on John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7.
• An important part of encouraging another person is the willingness to step in and walk beside them. People will take better to being admonished if they know you are in or willing to get into the trenches with them.
2. Barnabas was known as the son of encouragement. (Acts 4:36)
• How would you like to be known as the son of encouragement!
• SLIDE # 7
• Barnabas was a person who must have been an inspiring person to be around. I would imagine he was a good balance for the hard charging Paul.
II. HOW DO WE ENCOURAGE OTHERS?
If we are going to encourage people, how are we to do it so it will be most effective? We want our efforts in encouraging to count for something.
1. We get in the game with others.
a. In Acts 13 we see John Mark on the 1st missionary journey, but he turns back at Pamphylia. These missionary journeys were trips in which Paul would go to plant churches.
b. Now in Acts 15 it is time for the second missionary journey and Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them and Paul is going to have no part of it.