Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...home on the range

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD is a a post devoted each week to my thoughts on a personal study that I am doing. Right now I am studying from a book "Lasting Legacy" and from it I am learning how to make a difference with my life. Today, I share my thoughts on what I have learned this week. I hope you will join me on this journey of leaving a legacy for Christ!

The ability to encourage people is one of the most important skills needed throughout our society today. This world is consumed with way too much Discouragement. Remember that old song, "Home on the range"?

"Home, home on the range. Where the deer and antelope roam. Seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day."

Oh my... wouldn't it be great to live a life like that? Who wouldn't want to live on the range? The reality of it is that we cannot do much about the discouraging words that come our way, just like we can't do anything about the cloudy days.

The world may be full of discouraging words but the Bible is full of encouraging words:

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth". - Matthew 5:5

"I am with you always, to the very end of the age". -Matthew 28:20
"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength". - Philippians 4:13

The need for encouragement, is certainly not new. Paul faced discouragement as he ministered to churches. In fact, his discouragement in some places came in a form of various degrees of persecution. Also, Paul certainly needed encouragement from other believers when he was held prisoner in jail for two years.

The Bible says that Paul not only received verbal harassment in some of these places, but often times it escalated to violence:

2 CORINTHIANS 11:24-26 "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren."

Despite all of the "perils" that Paul endured, he never, ever lost focus of the victory that rested in the power of Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul was so sure of this power and victory that he requests for others (for us) to join him in his suffering for Christ:

2 TIMOTHY 1:8b-9 "But join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, (9) Who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."

Paul was not intimidated by other people's discouragement. The ones that threatened him with death were only giving Paul an entry to his eternal victory. Paul was an encourager despite those who were discouraging all around him. Paul encouraged Timothy, he urged him to "endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 2:3)

When I think of the "hardships" that my life has brought it does not even compare to the "perils" that Paul endured. Paul could have easily whined and complained of his hardships but instead he chose to fight the fight and be an encourager! And what an encourager he was to young Timothy.

The encouragement and support of Christian friends is so important. In last week's YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question: "Which action do you think has the greatest potential for encouraging other Christians?" The top 3 answers were:

1. 50% of those polled, voted and said that sending notes or emails encourage others.
2. 37% of those voting said that letting someone know that they are praying would encourage them.
3. 12% voted and said that calling someone on the phone would be an encouragement.

I strive to be an encourager. I like to send cards. I like to send emails. I like to call people up on the phone and say "Hey, I was thinking about you today". I like to pray with people.

As much as I would like to do this all of the time, I know that I fall short some days.

Some days I am tired
Some days I just don't feel like it
Some days I need encouragement
Instead of being an encourager, some days, I might be the one to bring that cloudy day upon someone. If you tend to be more of a "cloudy sky" than a "sunshine on the shoulder" ... try these things this week with me:
  • tell someone close to you (family or friend) one quality that they have that inspires you.
  • when someone tells you their plans or future .. pause a moment to choose to respond with a positive reaction.
  • find one person this week that is discouraged and send them a card or call them.
Go ahead, try it and see what might happen
on your home on the range?


Laurie Ann said...

Excellent thoughts, Laurie! I loved the honesty in this post and of course the thoughts on Paul. What he was up against is nothing like what we face in the world, and still he persevered. He remained encouraged. I'm going to follow some of the very practical and wonderful ideas you listed at the end to be a great encourager next week and on out!

Mary Beth said...

I want to say thank you to you for your insight into the WORD.

You inspire me to more.