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Sunday, January 30, 2005

THE NEED FOR ENCOURAGEMENT.

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. --William Arthur Ward

All around us there are copious needs for encouragement and the Church should be the one place where encouragement should always be found. Many people who are in the background of the Church and who think they have very little to do, are an important part of the kingdom. They need to realise that they have been given the ministry of encouragement. There is far too many who seem to believe they have a ministry of discouragement. They always see the difficulties. For them, every silver lining has a cloud, but this is what should typify true encouragers…

1. Encouragers put the needs of others first.

A. They serve others...
Matt 20:25-28 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
B. They endeavour to meet others needs…
Phil 2:1-4 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Mamie Adams always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly. She went there to buy stamps just before Christmas one year and the lines were particularly long. Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby. "I know," said Mamie, 'but the machine won't ask me about my arthritis."
2. Encouragers need to have a heart like Jesus’.
A. He had compassion on people…
Matt 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
B. He cared for those that no one else did…
Luke 5:29-32 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson told him that a newspaper article likened him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, "I do not want to be like a Paul...or any mere man. I want to be like Christ...I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints...Oh, to be more like Christ!"

The ministry of encouragement does not involve great personal gifts of speech, or musical talent, it can be done by anyone who will simply try to see those around them through the eyes of Jesus. There is a great need for people who will lift up rather than put down. It is a gift that we all must cultivate, or many who are oppressed will be ground into the dust.

God bless you and yours,
John

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