This week's memory verse:"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
You MIGHT remember (or not!) the old Dr. Pepper commercial..."I'm a Pepper, she's a Pepper, he's a Pepper, we're a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?" (HA! Now that song will be in your head all day long!) My reason for the little song break is that I would like to change the words..."I'm an encourager, she's an encourager, he's an encourager, we're encourager, wouldn't you like to be an encourager too?" The words may not fit the old tune as well, but we should ALL be encouraging each other, every day instead of arguing and trying to get our own way and claiming that our way is the RIGHT way all the time. We ALL need encouragement from time to time...I know I do...and I am lucky to have very loving and caring friends and family who do encourage me every day. Do you ever think about how many people in this world don't have ANYONE in their lives to encourage them? No wonder there are so many sad, angry and discouraged people in the world!
Read 2 Timothy 1:3-13. Paul, who is in prison with little hope of being released, writes a letter to his friend Timothy. It is a letter of hope and encouragement for Timothy. Paul does many things in this letter that we can use as examples of how to encourage others.
First, he thanks God for his own life (even though he is in prison!) and then compliments Timothy on his work. Giving God glory for our lives shows we can put God first. And, what person doesn't want to hear praise from a mentor? It makes us feel good about ourselves! A good place to start!
Paul then goes on to give Timothy instructions - to go fan the flame of God's word...to tell others about God's plan through Jesus Christ. Since he knows that this might be a scary task in a world that has put him in prison for doing the same thing, he reminds Timothy of the gifts that God has given him, a spirit of power, love and self control. He is saying...don't be afraid...God is with you and has made you to be bold!
All the things that Paul tells him are like one big pep talk...we can and SHOULD do this for each other! For example...Our First Place for Health group, which is working on hard, life-changing life skills...we should be complimenting and encouraging each other as much as possible! The things we are doing are hard and it's easy to fail and get discouraged. But if a friend, who is going through the same thing, gives you a call, a text or an email of encouragement, that could be just what we need to keep us going!
Paul then makes a statement that may not sound so encouraging...he says Timothy should join in "suffering for the gospel." Now, what person wants to get involved in something, KNOWING ahead of time that they are going to suffer? And what do you mean suffer? I thought I was to find JOY in the gifts of the Lord???
I believe that Paul knows that Timothy will face jeers, disbelief, anger, prejudice and probably danger because of his telling the good news of the gospel. "The world" or those outside the faith, don't understand the blessings and amazing gifts of the gospel. Misunderstanding can lead to anger, prejudice, hatred and other dangerous acts, as we see today. When sharing your faith, you too may face some or all of these things.
That is why Paul's message to Timothy holds so much meaning and promise for us today. We are GOING to face suffering in this life...when we remember that we can find joy IN the suffering knowing that Christ saved us and leads us to a holy and eternal life with God through his gift...then we can hold on to that and gain strength and courage from it to get THROUGH the suffering. We need friends and supporters to remind us of that promise because when you are in the middle of the struggle, it's sometimes hard to remember. And, please remember, those that don't understand the blessings of the God's gifts...THEY NEED THIS MESSAGE... we can't stop telling the world about the gospel and our faith in it just because we are afraid of their reactions! Be bold! Maybe SOMEONE is ready to hear it and your sharing will be at JUST at the right moment!
Who can YOU encourage today? When you strengthen the faith of others through encouragement, you will be strengthening your own faith as well. Sharing HOPE with others builds HOPE around the world!!! Would YOU like to be an encourager too!!!