Monday, January 24, 2011

Colossians 4:8 (Amplified Bible) "I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are faring and that he may comfort and cheer and encourage your hearts.

With the new year comes new goals, and we think things like “what do I want to accomplish, what do I want to lose, what do I want to learn, I, I, I….” Well, I would like to encourage you to take those I’s off yourself and focus them outward onto other-centered goals. For example, how about seeking out ways to be an encouragement to the people in your life? In the book of Colossians, Paul sends Timothy out to encourage the Colossians' hearts (Colossians 4:8). He also sent Timothy to the Thessalonians to strengthen and encourage them as to their faith. Paul then asks that they themselves in turn encourage one another and build one another up. (1 Thessalonians 3:2, 5, 11.) In Hebrews 3:13 we are told to encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called today! The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is parakletos, and can be translated as Comforter, Counselor, or Advocate. (John 14:16, 26; 15:26, 16:7). To encourage is the Greek word parakaleo (verb) from para – beside, by, from, near kaleo to call.

A few definitions of encouragement mention comfort, instruction; to strengthen by consolation, to teach. In this day and age of instant technology, it’s so easy to send a quick email or e-card to another just as a way of letting them know you’re thinking about them, and to provide them with a few words of cheer, even offer a “verbal hug”, so to speak. How long could it take us to do this, especially considering how lasting the result might be for someone? Do you have someone within your circle that perhaps just needs you to come up without a word and just wrap your arm around their shoulder?

When was the last time you opened your “snail mail” after arriving home, to find an unexpected card with warm wishes from someone? Do you remember how that lifted your spirits? Again, in this day of technology, actual real, hold-it-in-my-hand cards are a growing rare event! I have several cards that have been sent to me over the years which I keep in my Bible, and read over and over again whenever I need a pick-me-up.

This week, prayerfully consider a list of people you could come alongside to comfort, counsel and encourage. Make it your personal mission to contact at least a few by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, or actual old-fashioned letter or card (okay, seriously, after looking at all our options, just TRY to find a reason NOT to do this)! In fact, I would be so bold as to suggest that if you yourself are in need of encouragement, make it a point to be that encouragement to someone else – put your eyes on them, and give of yourself at a time when it’s not easy or comfortable. Let it be a sacrifice of comfort to God – in spite of your needs/circumstances, you are going outside yourself to be His voice of encouragement to another.

As Dr. Robert A. Cook used to say as He ended his radio program, “Walk with the King today and be a blessing!”

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