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

Anticipate God’s Goodness

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. – (Romans 5:3-4, NLT)

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that those troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV)

And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. – (Romans 5:3-4, VOICE)

 

Though all three versions say essentially the same thing, the last part of verse four from the VOICE, really spoke to my heart. It has been an extremely long week in the classroom for me, as I am adjusting to new curriculum, which honestly requires hours of preparation each day, learning how to best help and work with new students, an Open House at the start of the week, (which made for a 14+ hour day), and have had to respond to some serious behavioral challenges that came up in class as the week unfolded. I do not think that I can say that I am rejoicing about the trials, but I am able to see the patience and refining that God is doing through the process, and I find myself hoping for and anticipating God’s goodness through it all. What I know is that I cannot do it all in my own strength. With Him, all things are possible, and great things can be accomplished. Hearts can be changed and minds can be renewed. He has placed me with phenomenal team members who teach the same subject and grade level. Together, we are working to navigate through the new, and the time it takes to discern what needs to be taught and how to best do so, is divided. Additionally, there are extraordinary staff members in roles that mentor, support, encourage and teach the kiddos who are struggling both academically and/or behaviorally, so that they can learn, grow and experience successes in and out of the classroom. May we ever look to the Lord with gratitude for the endurance and strength of character He develops within us, even if we are not yet in a space of celebrating our struggles. May we see the hope that is held in Him, and anticipate God’s goodness as He moves among us.

 

Troubles and trials, Delivering Dreams

Though never much fun;

Serve hearts with purpose,

As battles are won.

These things bring patience,

And patience will show;

The strength from the Lord,

As we learn and we grow.

In this refining,

We learn what it means;

To anticipate,

God’s goodness indeed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we go through trials and troubles, You develop patience and endurance within us. Thank You that strength and hope grow as our characters are refined, and we learn what it truly means to hope and anticipate Your goodness. Forgive us for our frustration with our circumstances. Teach us to press into You, ever seeking and depending on You for strength in the struggles, as You are our Source. Show us how to love well, those around us who are struggling, and how to give strength and hope where there is none to be found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in the refining and development of our character that takes place in our trials, and look forward with hope as we anticipate Your goodness that is yet to come. Amen.

 

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

 

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6