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May 24th, 2012

“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Life requires courage and others who encourage that in you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “encouragers.”

I remember watching our grandsons play basketball, while our granddaughter was among the enthusiastic cheerleaders cheering for the team. Hearing those cheering voices must be a great feeling. Anyone can celebrate after the game has been won, but cheering is more inspirational while the game is still being played. In your life, someone in a tough time needs you to cheer for them. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT. Be a cheerleader for others, as someone has been for you.

There are things in everyday life that slowly deplete strength, dampen hope, or drain courage – times when you simply wonder if you have the strength to go on, feeling drained, even disheartened. You succumb to a pessimistic subjectivity. You need encouragement, the words or example of someone whose belief in you help recapture courage. Not anyone can do everything, but anyone can be an encourager. You can do this! Paul wrote, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. That doesn’t sound like a suggestion.

There was a man in the young church in Jerusalem for whom encouraging others was so much a part of his lifestyle that those who knew him best changed his name to something that fitted him well. His name was Joseph, but his friends changed his name to Barnabas, “son of encouragement.” See Acts 4:36 NIV. Saul, the persecutor of the church, may never have become Paul, the great missionary, apostle, and author without the encouragement of Barnabas. See Acts 9:26-28 NKJV. Barnabas linked his good name with Saul’s name and reputation, introducing the new convert with a frightening history to a circle of faith that previously excluded him, settling unsettling questions the young church had about Saul.

Later, John Mark made a young man’s mistake and was deemed unreliable by Paul and others, but Barnabas saw good in John Mark that others didn’t bother to see. Acts 15:36-39 NIV. They saw his mistake; Barnabas saw his worth. The man whose lifestyle was to encourage found another life under God’s construction that needed encouragement. Did it help? Well, consider this. John Mark eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark, as had been told to him by Peter. Would he have done so, if someone had not encouraged him when he could not encourage himself? Mark would not likely have found the courage to try again without Barnabas’ help?

Someone says, “You can do this!” And your heart finds courage to believe you can. You will rarely need the size of courage that faces extreme danger or dares to attempt the impossible. But every day, there are those small but important moments when you need fresh courage – to trust a little longer, to walk a little further, to try a little harder, to believe a little more, to obey a little better, to bravely try again when you want to give up, and maybe when it counts most, to accomplish what you weren’t sure you could. You can encourage someone today, and make an eternal difference.

My prayer for you today is that you hear the cheers and have new courage.

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