Invest in Encouragement

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word. – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, HCSB)

We pray that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father will comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us and gave us through His grace a wonderful hope and comfort that has no end. – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, ERV)

Now may our Lord Jesus (the Anointed One Himself) and God our Father (who has loved us, comforted us eternally, and given us a good hope by His grace) bring comfort to your hearts and strengthen your wills to accomplish every good work and word. – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, VOICE)

Yesterday, our pastor finished a series entitled, “No One Stands Alone”. The big ideas in the messages have been about us all being called to community, not isolations, to find and be a mentor to others, and yesterday, finished up with a character study about Barnabas; as he was a fantastic example of what it is to come alongside others and be an encourager. Encouragement goes beyond simple “atta ways” and “you’ve got this”. To be an encourager is to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to walk alongside others to help them continue to grow and thrive as they seek Him. This can be physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, verbally and the like. It is so much more than a kind word. Barnabas exemplified what it is to be an encourager, as he left what he knew and his community, to go encourage and build up the believers that were a couple of hundred miles away. Additionally, he helped provide finances for those who were lacking, which was a sacrificial demonstration of God’s love that was made tangible to those in need around him. As he closed out the service, Omar (our pastor) asked the questions, “Who are the people in your life who are like a Barnabas to you?” and “Who can you be a Barnabas to?” Both questions required little thought, as I am blessed with a long list of those who have invested in and encouraged me, and know many who are in need of encouragement in this season. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to be an encouragement to those around us, both in word and action.

To choose to love well,

Be encouraging;

Is a lifestyle choice,

That we choose to bring.

Not in our own strength,

But led by the Lord;

Who shows us the way,

That grace is outpoured.

A love that is seen,

Not just by mere words;

But true investments,

That make actions heard.

May all that we do,

And all that we say;

Be encouraging,

Throughout ev’ry day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the people whom You have placed in our lives to encourage and walk alongside us. Thank You for those whom You have called us to do likewise. Forgive us for the times that we did not listen to Your leading as to how we might lift up and encourage those around us. Show us how to be dependent on Your Spirit to lead us to love those around us in ways that build them up and encourage them forward to all that You have for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, the ultimate Encourager to us all. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to lead us to encourage others well, and help us recognize and appreciate the people whom You have led to encourage us. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

Devoted and Delighted

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself. – (Romans 12:10, NIV)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself. (Romans 12:10, ERV)

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. – (Romans 12:10, NLT)

 

Devoted love is a love that willingly chooses the other, regardless of how the recipient appears before them. To love with devotion is to be committed to caring and seeing the other person through, no matter what comes their way. Throughout my life, I have had such devotion in love modeled for me well, through both my grandmother, and my mom. My gram was a natural encourager and lifter of souls, as she loved with her whole heart and was committed to make sure that we all knew her heart for us, individually. Not only was I the recipient of her devoted love, but I was witness to the power it provided in the lives of those around me. Mom, her only daughter, has followed closely in her footsteps, as my sister and I still marvel at how she, as a single mom, managed to attend every game, concert, banquet, ceremony, etc., work full-time, manage a household, keep our home and yard beautiful, and always welcome our friends into our home with open heart and arms. Even as we have grown, married and had children of our own, mom has managed to be present at nearly all of the significant events in the lives of our children. She has driven hundreds of miles to be sure that each of her grandsons knows how proud she is of them, and she honors each of them and loves them lavishly.  With that as our model, how could my sister and I possibly choose do anything differently? With mom in a time of need, our only choice is to love with all that we are, and to delight in doing all that we can to honor whatever her heart desires. My favorite response to mom these days is, “As you wish.” She giggles every time I answer that way, but I know it delights her heart to know that she is loved as deeply as she loves others.

As for the practical application and fruit of devotion, yesterday was an incredible day for mom before my guys left to drive home! She determined that she would show them how she was doing with her walking in the hallway with her walker, and I had Mark stand and video so that we could send documentation to my sister. One of my guys followed behind us with the wheelchair in case she grew weary, and the other stood back to watch what would transpire. Incredibly, mom shocked us all, herself included, as she walked the ENTIRE length of the hallway! Prior to yesterday, she had only gone halfway unassisted. Happy tears were shared by all as we celebrated this incredible and hope-filled milestone. If she could double her distance in a matter of two days, imagine what will transpire in a matter of a few weeks?! We were beaming ear-to-ear as we sent off my guys to drive home. It had been a wonderful weekend together, and had ended perfectly. The remainder of the day was rather relaxing, as it was spent resting, doing a variety of mom’s PT and OT exercises, and movie watching. Sleep again went well last night, as there were only two wake-ups. We slept in longer than usual this morning, as our early breakfast time was nearly an hour later than we are accustomed. Today, mom has both physical therapy and occupational therapy, so I anticipate a great day ahead.

May we ever seek the Lord to equip us to be devoted to one another in love, and to delight in honoring each other above ourselves.

 

Devoted in love, img_20190630_100257_3922772888685512407775.jpg

Is love’s true design;

To prefer others,

And choose to be kind.

Honor each other,

Choose lift and build up;

Love through the trials,

And never give up.

Set down our own wants,

And see other’s need;

Love with our whole lives,

By God’s grace, proceed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be devoted to one another in love and to honor others above oneself through the life of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You that You equip us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we have set aside devotion or honor for our own agenda. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be devoted in love and honor others, as You love and honor us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be devoted in love and help us delight in honoring others above ourselves. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Protect me, for I am devoted to You. Save me, for I serve You and trust You. You are my God. – Psalm 86:2