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Be Encouraged

April 2nd, 2015

“That through endurance and the encouragement we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV.

Encouragers find themselves being encouraged.

My thoughts and comments today are, “be encouraged.”

Life can be wearing and wearying. Weariness and discouragement accumulate like emotional dust, layer upon layer until its load gradually becomes more than you can bear alone. Everyone needs encouragement in daily doses. You and I live in a world that is often discouraging, among people who are easily discouraged themselves, therefore discouraging to others. Sometimes, life might be described in these words, “They said, ‘Cheer up. Things could be worse.” And sure enough, I cheered up . . and things got worse.” Sometimes it feels like that. Both discouragement and encouragement are emotions, but so much more; those emotions generate critical assumptions about circumstances that will gradually impact your expectations, either negatively or positively. Before you get discouraged reading all this, let me share about encouragement.

David provides a Godly example of how to be encouraged in discouraging situations, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved . .” Read 1 Samuel 30:6-19 KJV. In their pain, David’s soldiers blamed him for something an enemy had done, a tragedy he could not have anticipated nor could prevent. Does that scenario sound familiar? Here’s where the narrative and outcome changes, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” When all around you is disheartening, look to the God who is for you, with you, and in you. David sought the Lord and was told to pursue the enemy, “And David recovered all.” Encouragement restores your body, soul, and spirit.

Encouragement provides spiritual intervention and reversal of everything the devil intended for your harm and loss – joy, confidence, hope, trust, peace, or positive expectations. Encouragement is a common theme and recurring accent throughout the Bible. Paul encouraged Christ-followers, “Therefore, we do not lose heart . . for our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they will produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever.” Read 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV/NLT. You can turn your disappointments into divine appointments.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Read Romans 15:4-7 NIV. Read those words again, carefully and slowly. Notice in this verse that Christ-followers are promised three things:

(1) “Hope,” which the Bible describes as an anchor of the soul, “both sure and steadfast.” Read Hebrews 7:17-19. See Romans 15:13.

(2) “Encouragement,” which results from Godly focus, stubborn trust, enriching thoughts, and edifying companions. See Hebrews 10:24-25/1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV.

And, (3) “Endurance,” which is a joyful and steadfast expectation while you wait. See Colossians 1:10-14 NIV. Looking for a way to endure is better than looking for a way to escape.

When you are hopeful, you are encouraged; when you feel encouraged, you are strengthened to endure. Notice the progression: hope provides encouragement; encouragement promotes endurance; and the source of all of these is found in, “the Scriptures.” “Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 NIV. See also 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

If you are discouraged, you’re looking in the wrong places and listening to the wrong voices; look to Jesus and be encouraged. And be an encourager; someone you know needs encouraging more than you. Jesus promised, “Give and it will be given you . . good measure, running over.” Luke 6:38. Encouragers find themselves being encouraged. If finding life hard to endure, or encouragement lacking, strengthen yourself in the enduring, encouraging truth of God’s Word. In several situations these recent days, I have felt the Lord impress upon my heart two simple words, “Be encouraged.” I share His words with you today. Whatever the situation, be encouraged.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are encouraged and become an encourager to others.

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Encouragers

August 8th, 2014

May our Lord Jesus Christ . .  encourage your hearts” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates.

My thoughts and comments today are about “encouragers.”

Disappointment occurs when expectations and assumptions are “not as appointed.” If disappointment lingers or when multiple disappointments occur, discouragement results. Discouragement has an emotional element, but is much more. The emotion disguises a loss of courage to persevere. Inaccurate though such feelings may be, they temporarily persuade you that your current disappointment is predictive of your future. God has good news for you. “Therefore we do not lose heart . . inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”  Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV. Courage is the confidence that God has everything under control and all will be well.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. When discouraged, read that slowly and frequently. Sometimes, God encourages you by sending an encourager into your situation.

Paul described his need for encouragement. “There was no rest for us . . outside there were conflicts, inside there were fears – have you ever identified with those feelings? – but God who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy . . so was the news he brought . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5-8 NLT. I remember my Dad saying, “Everyone makes others happy. Some when they come and some when they go.” Be like Titus, a joyful presence and carrier of good news.

Everyone needs an encourager, a friend who helps you feel, then believe, that there is reason to be hopeful. You can be a world-class encourager, if you will. Maybe you never assumed that what you could say or do would make any difference. But it does, and you can. The person who waits to only do great things, never does the ordinary things they could have been doing all along that make a difference. Joseph became so good at blessing others that they changed his name to Barnabas, “son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. Once you see a face brighten by a word shared or a heart lifted by a kindness shown, you will search for every opportunity to encourage others. The practice becomes a habit, then the habit becomes a lifestyle, and the lifestyle becomes contagious.  

There is someone nearby who needs you to be an encourager. The surest way to be perpetually encouraged is to practice the joy of encouraging someone else. When people see you coming, may they feel as Paul did, “At the sight of these men, Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” Acts 28:15 NIV. Good company always brightens a day and blesses a heart.

Today, my prayer is for you to live with courage, encouraging others along the way.

(Bible references are NKJV unless noted.) 11097

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Cheerleaders

June 15th, 2013

I ask your prayer for effective ministry this Father’s Day at Tulare First Assembly of God as I minister with dear friends, Pastor Chuck and Ruth Atherton, in Tulare, CA. Due to travel and ministry responsibilities, the usual schedule for publishing EDL may not resume until later next week. Because of study responsibilities today, I am sharing this devotional from the EDL archives, available at our website, www.allenrandolph.com. On this Father’s Day weekend, I encourage you be a person of spiritual influence, for which God commended Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord . . that the Lord may bring to pass that which He has spoken of him.” Genesis 18:19 KJV. Spiritual influence releases God investment in you, and through you to others. Blessings!

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“Think of ways to encourage one another.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT.

Without your encouragement, others will not become all they can be.

My thoughts and comment today are about “cheerleaders.”

Everybody loves cheerleaders. You love their energy and enthusiasm. They clearly believe in something and give their all in support and encouragement of others’ best efforts. Two of our granddaughters have been cheerleaders and I loved watching them. What’s not to love? I saw a side of their personalities not often displayed.

They are there to cheer their team to victory, and include the spectators in their own expectations. And more, they work to get everyone else involved and excited too. Even if you are not as excited as they are, you want to be, if only for their sakes. Watch their engaging smiles, coordinated jumps and movements, and listen to the cadence of their voices – assured, positive, enthusiastic, joyful.

What’s the cheerleaders’ message? It’s in their name. They cheer the players to be better than they would, and lead others to join the cheer and become encouragers too. Cheerleaders themselves cannot  add a single point on the scoreboard, except by lifting their voices to empower the players on the court or field who can. Their message is all about playing hard, doing your best, believing, succeeding, and winning. Isn’t that what you want life to be about – doing your best, working hard, believing, and succeeding?

Everybody needs cheerleaders. Did you know the Bible has a lot to say about cheerleaders? The Bible calls them encouragers. In fact, the church was barely begun when one person became so known for his lifestyle of encouragement that his friends changed his name to mean, “son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36-37 NIV. Some are especially gifted to lead the cheers, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well . . if your gift is to encourage others, do it!” Romans 12:6/8 NLT.

Reading the New Testament, it quickly becomes clear that everyone is meant to be an encourager. You don’t accidentally become a cheerleader; you choose to be one and devote a lot of time and effort practicing your cheers.“Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT.  I love that phrasing – “. . outburst of love and good deeds!”

I am thankful for cheerleaders in my life and ministry. As a child, I was shy and not very confident, but my Mom and Dad celebrated what I was and believed in what I would become (and being their first grandchild, my paternal grandparents were convinced I was unlike any other ever born). Across the years, God brought teachers, friends, and mentors – and most of all, Gayle and our family, and our Church families – people who were willing to lead the cheers and encourage me to believe and achieve. In turn, I hope I have been an encourager to others as so many have been to me. Thank you Warren, Campbell, Kenny, Des, Don, Amos, and so many other friends too many to name.

Who leads the cheers for you? Recognize and appreciate them. You will never be your best without them. More importantly, who are you cheering on to braver attempts and bigger accomplishments? Here’s what I have observed: cheering others results in others cheering you. Others around you are not all they can become, if you are not regularly encouraging them to dream bigger, be more, believe stronger, reach higher, and press harder.

I think Peter perfectly captures my thoughts and intent today: “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.” 1 Peter 5:12 NLT. No matter what happens, be encouraged in God.

My prayer for you today is this: be encouraged and encourage others exuberantly.

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Encouragers

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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Cheerleaders

June 12th, 2009

“Think of ways to encourage one another.” Hebrews 10:24 New Living Translation

“Others around you are not all they can be, if you are not regularly encouraging them.”

My thoughts today are about “cheerleaders.”

Everybody loves cheerleaders. Two of our granddaughters have been cheerleaders and I loved watching them. I saw a side of their personalities not often displayed. What’s not to love? You love their energy and enthusiasm. They clearly believe in something and give their all in support and encouragement of others’ best efforts.

They are there to cheer their team to victory, and include the spectators in their own expectations. And more, they work to get everyone else involved and excited too. Even if you are not as excited as they are, you want to be, if only for their sakes. Watch their engaging smiles, coordinated jumps and movements, and listen to the cadence of their voices – assured, positive, enthusiastic, joyful.

What’s the cheerleaders’ message? It’s in their name. They cheer the players to be better than they would, and lead others to join the cheer and become encouragers too. Cheerleaders themselves cannot actually add a single point on the scoreboard, except by lifting their voices to empower the players on the court or field who can. Their message is all about playing hard, doing your best, believing, succeeding, and winning. Isn’t that what you want life to be about – doing your best, working hard, believing, succeeding?

Everybody needs cheerleaders. Did you know the Bible has a lot to say about cheerleaders? The Bible calls them encouragers. In fact, the church was barely begun when one person became so known for his lifestyle of encouragement that his friends changed his name to mean “son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36-37 NIV. Some are especially gifted to lead the cheers, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well . . if your gift is to encourage others, do it!” Romans 12:6/8 NLT.

Reading the New Testament, it quickly becomes clear that everyone is meant to be an encourager. You don’t just accidentally become a cheerleader; you choose to be one and put a lot of time and effort in practicing your cheers. “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT.  I love that phrasing – “outburst of love and good deeds!”

I am thankful for cheerleaders in my life and ministry. I wasn’t a very confident child, but my Mom and Dad celebrated what I was and believed in what I would become (and being the first grandchild, my grandparents were convinced I was unlike any other ever born!). Across the years, God brought teachers, friends, church members, and mentors – and most of all, my wife and family, and our Trinity Church family – who were willing to lead the cheers.

Who leads the cheers for you? Recognize and appreciate them. You will never be your best without them. More importantly, who are you cheering on to braver attempts and bigger accomplishments? Here’s what I have observed: cheering others results in others cheering you. Others around you are not all they can be, if you are not regularly encouraging them to dream big, be more, believe stronger, reach higher, and press harder.

I think this verse sums it all up: “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.” 1 Peter 5:12 NLT.

My prayer for you today is to be encouraged, and become an encourager of others.

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