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A True Encourager

December 1, 2015

A year ago, Laray Rector passed away. He was loved by many, and one of the ways he blessed my life was through his encouragement. A few years ago, several Graymere members compiled a devotional book. Each writer was assigned a range of passages to select for a devotional thought, and Laray chose to focus on encouragement. Although he may not have thought about it, he was describing himself. I thought it would be fitting today to share it as a way we can all focus on encouraging others.

Week 10 – A True Encourager (Acts 20)
By Laray Rector

We live in a world that is constantly changing around us. The economy is in turmoil. Nations struggle for independence. The pace of life seems to only get faster. In the midst of so much uncertainty, it is easy to become a little discouraged. At times all of us need someone to lean on; someone to “pick us up”. It seems that when we need it the most, God provides us with an encourager. William Arthur Ward once wrote, “Flatter me and I may not believe you. Criticize me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I may not forgive you. Encourage me and I will not forget you.” People who “lift us up” make lasting impacts on our lives.

 

Barnabas is the first name that comes to our mind when we think of a New Testament encourager, but Paul also provides a great example for us. In Acts 19, Paul arrives in Ephesus as part of his third missionary journey. He spends more than two years there teaching and preaching; his words confirmed by many miracles. Acts 19:20 says the message spread widely and grew in power. Paul’s preaching disrupted the commerce at Ephesus and the end result was a riot. When the people settled down and the rioting ended, Paul decides to continue his journey to Jerusalem by way of Macedonia. Paul calls together the disciples whom he has grown to love and encourages them (Acts 20:1). As his travels continue, he encourages all the believers in the towns he passes through (Acts 20:2).

 
Eventually, Paul ends up at Troas. He stays only a week there, but makes the most of his time, preaching until early in the morning even on the day of his departure. Paul decides not to go back to Ephesus; however, he cannot miss one last opportunity to encourage them. He calls for the elders to meet with him at Miletus. His words to the Ephesian elders give us valuable insight in how we can encourage others.

 

He begins by recalling his struggles and trials. When others see us bravely overcome obstacles in our lives, they are encouraged. Paul then challenges the elders to lead the church that Christ died for. We encourage others by placing the same value on the church as God does. Finally, Paul entrusted them to God and His Word. Bringing God’s word to others, which is able to convict, convert and to build them up may be the most important work of encouragement we could ever do.

 
 

Acts 20 closes with Paul’s farewell prayer with the Ephesians. They wept bitterly as he left. Paul encouraged them and we can be certain they never forgot him. Let’s strive to be the people who “lift up those around us.” We too will benefit. Proverbs 11:25 says, “He who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed.”

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