I had the opportunity to speak this last Wednesday night at the Bremen church of Christ in Bremen, GA. It was on a Wednesday evening, and storms came through the area, but there were still 50-60 brothers and sisters there who listened to me as I spoke concerning how King David was in many ways like Jesus.
They had Bible classes for the little children, and it did my soul good to see the children who were brought by mother and dad, by grandma and grandpa, because they knew that the children need to study about God and Jesus. ON WEDNESDAY NIGHTS!
Some things I considered as I was there . . .
1. Do more “rural” congregations of the Lord’s church do a better job encouraging brethren in attendance than larger congregations? I was listening to a podcast this last week that emphasized that smaller congregations may do a better job of encouraging one another and developing relationships with one another because they were smaller. Brothers and sisters work together better because there is not many to help them in the work!
2. It is easy to get lost in a crowd, and some may not want a relationship with other Christians except on Sundays. Yet we read that the New Testament church met daily – Acts 2:46-47, “So continuing DAILY with ONE ACCORD in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with GLADNESS and SIMPLICITY OF HEART, PRAISING GOD and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church DAILY those who were being saved.” One brother stated years ago – they had DAILY ADDITIONS because they MET DAILY!
3. Do we often come to worship God and forget why we are here? Do we spend time encouraging one another? Do we think of other members of the church as family, and do we encourage and lift them up as we should?
4. Are we so tied up with the world and its problems; with the distractions Satan throws at us daily in news and the drama of the world, that we forget the answer is found in Jesus? Do we (I) strive to help others to know the gospel?
As I walked out, I met a sister there with whom I went on a mission trip to Central America some years back. She was excited because her son had invited a friend, and the friend was impressed with the lesson, and was thinking about engaging in a Bible study to find out more. Pray for this young man!
BE A BARNABAS
Brothers and sisters, I know I need to be more like Barnabas (the Son of Exhortation), and I hope we all have that kind of heart. Notice these facts about how he encouraged and built up the church . . . .
We see Barnabas first mentioned in Acts 4:36-37, “And Joses, WHO WAS ALSO NAMED BARNABAS by the apostles (which is translated SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT) a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet.”
When Saul was converted and became Paul, it was Barnabas who helped him to “. . . join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus” Acts 9:26-28
In Acts 11:22-26 he encouraged the church to unity and to accept Paul as a preacher and apostle, teaching the gospel. Note “Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
It doesn’t take a lot to encourage someone. The beautiful thing about encouragement is that ANYONE CAN DO IT! Many times a word of encouragement can keep a weary person on their feet, fighting for a little while longer as they face what Satan throws at them. Send a card or write a note. Make a phone call. Notice a job well done and say so. Be supportive of someone who is hurting. Cultivate a positive, reassuring attitude.
Sadly, it is easy to pour water on enthusiasm, and it is easier to discourage than encourage! Beloved, God has called us to be different than the world. Let us encourage one another.
(Adapted from BE A BARNABAS, Lindell Doty, 11/12/1989 via Robins Reporter Warner Robins Church of Christ).
SPURRING ONE ANOTHER ON
During one period of bitter fighting in World War 2, General Dwight Eisenhower paid a visit to a division headquarters to talk to the troops who had just been pulled back from the front to a rest area.
It had been raining and the mud was at show top level. General Eisenhower stepped onto a makeshift platform and spoke a few sentences of encouragement.
As he stepped down, he slipped in the mud and landed on the seat of his pants. The GI’s howled. As the division commander helped Ike to his feet he apologized for the behavior of his men.
“Forget it,” Eisenhower grinned. “The fall probably did more for their morale than the speech.”
At times we fail to realize that it is not just words that spurs people on. It could be a pay on the back, a note of encouragement, a public commendation, or your example of service to other people.
Our work is to find ways of spurring each other on. Have you been trying to find ways to bring out the best in others? To do it means that we have got to quit thinking about ourselves so much and put our minds on others. You’ll find that when you have helped someone else, you will be blessed too.
(Dick Marcear Via the Banner Peachtree City Church of Christ November 1992)