"Do not just hear the Word of God and think hearing is enough. DO what it says!" James 1:22

Friday, February 11, 2011

Be Encouraged! Be an Encourager!

Lesson 22

God shows us how Paul was not alone in
spreading the Good News.
In verse 3 of Acts chapter 20 Paul learns
of the Jews' plot against him in Syria.
How did he learn of this plot?
He didn't have email.
He didn't have a cell phone.
Yes, one of the students answered correctly.
He learned of the plot against him via a messenger.

Verse 4 goes on to tell us of the seven men
who accompanied Paul at this time.
And we know that Luke (author of Acts)
is with Paul because now he writes using words like
"we" instead of "they."
So we know that God ENCOURAGED Paul
with companions and protected Paul
through friends and comrades.

"Paul sent for the disciples and,
after ENCOURAGING them,
said goodbye and set out for Macedonia."
Acts 20:1

We don't know how Paul encouraged his friends
before setting out for Macedonia.
However, God graciously blesses us
with Paul's ENCOURAGING words
to the Ephesus elders in verses 18 through 35!

Why would God include these ENCOURAGING words
in His Scriptures and not the ones before
Paul set out for Macedonia?

The ENCOURAGING words we find in verses 18-35
weren't just intended for the Ephesus elders
but were intended FOR US as well!

We are to...
set an example and serve the Lord with humility
EVEN when we are tested.
Acts 20:19

be quick -without hesitation-
to help others privately AND publicly.
Acts 20:20

declare God's Grace to Believers AND unbelievers.
Acts 20:21

be open to the Holy Spirit.
take comfort in His warnings and in His presence.
Acts 20:23

remain dedicated to Jesus and His calling you by name!
Acts 20:24

be ready.
be on guard of not just yourselves but also for others.
YOU have a responsibility for others.
Acts 20:28

prepare yourselves to deal with mean and hateful people.
for Christ, stand firm against people
who want to take you away from Him.
Acts 20:29-31

know that God's grace is for YOU
and your place in his family is confirmed.

work hard.
Acts 20:33-34

give to those in need.
take good care of the poor and less fortunate.
Acts 20:35

Paul was letting the elders of Ephesus know
of his plans to never return and
This is God's same message to us today.

Much like the first photo in this post,
it's not always going to be easy to "hang in there."
Remember Paul's words about
"wolves" which is stated so perfectly in the Message...
"I know that as soon as I'm gone,
vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock,
men from your very own ranks
twisting words so as to seduce disciples
into following them instead of Jesus."
Acts 20:29-30

But God tells us time and time again...
"Be strong. Have courage. Don't be intimidated.
Don't give them a second thought
because God, your God, is striding ahead of you.
He's right there with you.
He will not let you down; He will not leave you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

and remember our very first memory verse?
"But you will receive power when the
Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

He has promised His POWER because
HE will always be WITH US.

Do you have the POWER to ENCOURAGE others?
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior?
Have you asked him into your heart?
Are you living in a way that shows