Scripture Reading:  Acts 20:1-16

“After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.  When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece.  There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return to Macedonia.”  (Acts 20:1-3)

Having been in ministry for many years now, I realize how much we believers need to encourage one another.  Living the Christian life in this broken, fallen world is difficult.  We face challenges, opposition, and difficulties daily as we we attempt to live out our faith.

Paul was an encourager.  After the disciples in Ephesus experienced great opposition there (19:29,30), Paul sent for them so that he could encourage them.  They had been subjected to ridicule and rejection.  When he left them and headed to Macedonia, he visited churches along the way and gave them much encouragement.  Many of these early Christians were going through difficult times of suffering and opposition.

Paul knew their pain well.  He wrote these words to the Corinthians:  “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night in hunger and thirst, often without food in cold and exposure.  And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:24-28).  In spite of all the opposition and pain that Paul suffered, he was not a bitter person.  Instead, he used his own sufferings to bring comfort and encouragement to other believers.

We all need encouragement.  When we fall flat on our spiritual faces, we need brothers and sisters to encourage us in the gospel.  When we face times of suffering and pain, we need fellow believers to come alongside of us to encourage us.  When we face opposition and trouble, we need encouragement!  God has called each one of us to a ministry of encouragement.  Let’s pray that we can give much encouragement to those we come in contact with today.

Lord Jesus, I know that You are the ultimate encourager.  You come to me when I am down and pick me up.  You encourage me with the words of Scripture.  You encourage me with Your presence.  And I know that You have called me to be an encourager as well.  Today let me be faithful in my ministry of encouragement.


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