Week 2 – Encouragement
Friday 26th Feb
Lucy picks up our theme of Encouragement this week, looking at Luke 12:1-12
Give the video below a watch, and spend a bit of time afterwards talking to God about what He might be saying to you around this practice of encouragement, and how you could develop in it.
Saturday 27th Feb
This week Martin Hodson has written our blog, focussing on Encouragement. Give it a read below, and then spend some time with God considering the practices at the end.
In this blog, Martin Hodson, General Director for the Baptist Union of Scotland, shares his reflections on the practice of encouragement we see in Jesus’ life, and where we find our encouragement, even amidst difficulties.
The Practice of Encouragement
Encouragement is one of the most potent expressions of love. It’s hard to think of anyone whose life isn’t made a little bit more abundant when someone sincerely says something encouraging.
‘You’re good at that.’
‘Keep going, you’re making good progress.’
‘You really made a difference to me.’
A simple, and extremely worthwhile, Lent practice would be to make a point of encouraging someone today. You’d be following a pattern modelled by Moses and David in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 1 and 2 Samuel 19) and Barnabas and Tychicus in the New Testament (Acts 4 and Ephesians 6). A word of encouragement might be the greatest gift you can give a friend today.
But let’s take this a step deeper. As followers of Jesus, the way we respond to others is formed by the way we have encountered Jesus ourselves. Jesus puts it simply when he says: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13). The Apostle Paul specifically writes about the motivating power of being encouraged by Jesus when he says:
‘If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love…then make my joy complete by being like-minded…’ (Philippians 2).
So what makes encouragement a spiritual practice rather than simply a helpful inter-personal skill is that our encouragement is birthed in the encouragement we receive from Jesus.
His words of encouragement to us can be drowned out by our high sensitivity to the things that discourage us. For some reason we find it easier to count our failures than count our blessings. Our desolations (the things that de-soul us) are easier to call to mind than our consolations (the things that restore our soul).
There is a passage at the start of Luke 12 (v1-12) which the NIV translation entitles Warnings and Encouragements. Jesus mixes together a collection of things that de-soul and console us. This is what they look like if we sort them out:
Warnings, or desolations : hypocrisy (v1), fear (v4-5), disloyalty (v9-10) and accusation (v11).
Encouragements, or consolations: the truth will triumph (v2-3), you are precious to God (v6-7), God is faithful to you (v8), the Holy Spirit is your teacher (v12).
The experience of any day can be rather like reading Luke 12.1-12 – the warnings and encouragements are all mixed up. To receive encouragement from Jesus we have to sort out the consolations from the desolations. We have to hear the encouragements when our default setting is often to amplify the discouragements.
So our Lent practice today is to listen for how Jesus is encouraging us. Here are some things you could try to help you with that; choose one or two that you think will work for you.
- Re-read Luke 12.1-12 carefully and sort out the encouragements from the warnings.
- Think through the last 24 hours and try to sort out your consolations from the desolations.
- Think of the most encouraging Bible verse you know and meditate on that for a few minutes.
- List the things Jesus loves about you.
- Notice some way Jesus has encouraged you and make a plan to encourage someone else in the same sort of way.
Celebration Sunday 28th Feb
As you tune in with your church family today, why not thank God for individuals and families who attend. And ask if there is anyone you can be praying for specifically, and encouraging in the week to come
Monday 1st March
Today we’re going to practise encouragement by reaching out to a friend and encouraging them. Maybe someone who has been a big suppport recently, or who you haven’t spoken to in a while but you want to reconnect with? Why not send them a text to encourage them at the start of the week?
Tuesday 2nd March
Today, as we practise encouragement, spend time with God and think of a neighbour or a colleague you could encourage. Why not take the time to write a card and send it to them?
Wednesday 3rd March
Continuing on our theme of encouragement this week, today we’re thinking about family/church family. Spend 15 minutes with God thanking him for those people in your life, and ask Him to bring one or two specifically to mind who you could encourage today. And then go and encourage them. Maybe you could do this by sharing a verse with them?
Thursday 4th March
As we finish our week looking at encouragement, we want to encourage ourselves as well. 1 Samuel 30:6 says that at the threat of potential death, David “encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” So for our last day looking at encouragement together, make time without distraction to spend 20 minutes quietly reading through the statements below from scripture, and encouraging yourself in the Lord.