Andy Hollifield 12-1-16       reprinted 6-26-18
Today is one of those days when I couldn’t get settled on anything particular to write. As I tried to think of something to encourage folks with, it dawned on me that maybe I should just see what the bible said about encouragement. Although the word “encouragement” doesn’t appear in the bible, there are similar words that do. The word “courage” is in the bible 20 times. The interesting thing about that is the adjectives preceding it. Out of the 20 times it appears, 16 times the word “good” precedes it! Twice the word “took” (a verb) appears before courage meaning that the person in reference was “encouraged” by the actions or words of someone else to do what was pleasing to the Lord. Once was Chronicles 28:20 when king Asa was encouraged by the prophet Oded and put away idols out of his land and restored the altar of the Lord. The other time was in Acts 28:15 when some of Paul’s brethren heard where he was and traveled a great distance just to see him. Just that action on their part encouraged the apostle in his journeys. Roll that around in your mind and we will talk more about that in a minute. In Daniel 11:25 the word courage is preceded by the pronoun “his”. In Joshua 2:11 It is preceded by the word “more”. That time it is in reference to people of Jericho upon hearing the Israelites were going to invade. The harlot Rahab told Joshua’s spies that “neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” If the name of our God strikes fear into the hearts of his enemies like that, how can we not be “encouraged”?
The word “encourage” appears 4 times. Three of the four times refer to someone encouraging someone else in the work of the Lord. The word “encouraged” appears 5 times. All 5 times folks were encouraged for the work they were going to start doing. Twice priests were encouraged in the law and their service in the temple. Twice more, men were encouraged to go into battle. The last time, in Isaiah 41:7, workers encouraged each other in the work they were doing. The verse prior to that is one we would do well to live by. Verse 6 says “They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.” Just think how “wonderful”, to quote my son, things would be if every thing we said and did today to someone conveyed that attitude. It really isn’t that hard but it requires a little effort. It is a lot easier to walk through life just focused on your own things and never offer a pleasant word or action to someone else. I heard a story once of a preacher named Mr. Thompson that was a mill worker in Georgia. The story goes that he was in a garage when a customer came in to have his car looked at. The old preacher struck up a conversation with this young stranger about what a beautiful day God had blessed them with. Eventually the preacher began to tell this man about the love of God and asked him if he knew the Lord. The man replied that he did not and to make a long story short, that “chance” meeting in that garage resulted in the young man accepting the Lord as his Savior that day. That was actually not “chance” but divine intervention. What was later told by the young man to Mr. Thompson’s son was that he was on his way that day to take his own life. He had a pistol laid on the seat beside him and, after his wife leaving him, he saw nothing else to live for. At the time the son met this young man, the man’s family had reunited and he had announced his calling to preach and was now a pastor. All of this happened because a preacher and a young man both had car problems and met in a garage where the preacher put forth the effort to encourage a stranger. That was the young mans last stop before an eternal hell! Jude 1:22 says “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;”… We never know when we might be making that kind of difference when we take the time to “encourage” someone! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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