Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Big E...Encouragement

One of my favorite preachers is David Jeremiah. He wrote a book a number of years ago entitled The Power of Encouragement. This volume has been like a college text for me as I've studied in the school of encouragement. Time and time again I have received help from this book as I have sought to carry out the ministry of encouragement, Epistle Sports Ministries, that God called me to over 30 years ago. Dr. Jeremiah has written a brief article on encouragement that my good friend Brodie MacLeod passed along to me. Thanks Brodie!

David Jeremiah...

One of my favorite preachers

Living in the Land of E
- by David Jeremiah

What a wonderful world it would be if we all learned to unlock the power of encouragement. Encouragement is the act of inspiring others with renewed courage, renewed spirit, or renewed hope.

In the New Testament, the words most often translated as "encouragement" mean "alongside of" and "to call." When people come alongside us during difficult times to give us renewed courage, a renewed spirit, renewed hope-that's encouragement. That's living in the Land of E.

Familiar Terrain

The Land of E was familiar terrain for the great heroes of the Bible. The Land of D, by contrast, was deadly territory. Remember the twelve spies who infiltrated Canaan? Moses later said, "When they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into the land which the LORD had given them. So the LORD's anger was aroused on that day" (Numbers 32:9-10).

When we unwittingly dishearten others by a negative or critical spirit, it dampens spiritual enthusiasm and displeases the Lord.

Forty years later, when Moses was preparing the Israelites to finally enter the Promised Land, he told them: "Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged. . . . Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it" (Deuteronomy 1:21, 38).

"Don't be discouraged. And don't be a discourager. Encourage him!" That was Moses' message to Israel.

Read Paul's letter to the Thessalonians to see how highly he valued the power of encouragement.

• For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging . . . you to live lives worthy of God.

- 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NIV)
• We sent Timothy . . . to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.

- 1 Thessalonians 3:2 (NIV)
• Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.

- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

When Encouragement Made the Difference

History has been changed by the power of encouragement. Think of Aaron and Hur lifting Moses' hands toward heaven in Exodus 17 as Joshua fought in the valley below. Consider the power of Isaiah's words to King Ahaz when Judah was faced with invasion by two enemies: "Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands" (Isaiah 7:4).

In modern times, Churchill's encouraging optimism and dogged determination provided hope that led to the survival of Great Britain and the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. You and I can also bolster spirits, those of others in our fight against Satan.

Nobody accomplishes anything in isolation. The Bible says, "None of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself" (Romans 14:7). Everyone who does anything noteworthy is blessed with at least one cheerleader-one person gifted with hope, faith, and a can-do attitude.

You can be that person in another's life!

Asked to sing his first solo at an evangelistic meeting, a nervous young man waited outside the tent, combing and re-combing his hair, unaware that everyone inside could see his silhouette. On a high note, his voice cracked. Humiliated, he said he just didn't have the voice for solos. "Nonsense," said his encouragers. "All we have to do is transpose it into a lower key, and you'll do fine." And George Beverly Shea has been doing fine ever since.

Someone once said, "A word of encouragement after a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after a success."
Spend time with the Lord, claim His promises, see life from the perspective of His power, and keep your own spirits strong. Stay filled with joy and faith.

Then spread it around. Encourage someone else with the encouragement God gives you. Strengthen them in weariness, and steady them in weakness. Come alongside, and walk with them across the borders of the uplifting Land of E.

This article was excerpted from Turning Points, Dr. David Jeremiah's devotional magazine. Call Turning Point at 1-800-947-1993 for your complimentary copy of Turning Points.

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