MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21
After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen.
Acts 13:15-16 (ESV)
A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT
A young couple, very much in love, were getting married in church. However, Sue the wife was very nervous about the big occasion and so the pastor chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them. This verse states: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (I Jn 4:18). Rather unwisely, the pastor asked the best man to read it out and to say that the pastor had felt that this would be a very encouraging verse for Sue and that he would be preaching on it later in the service. However, the best man did not know the difference between John’s Gospel and the first letter of John. So he read John 4:18, which says “You have had five husbands and the one that you now have is not your husband.” (Source Unknown).
The rulers of the synagogue, in Acts 13:15-16, wanted a word of encouragement. Little did these synagogue officials realize that this word of encouragement would turn the world upside down! Paul and Barnabas usually had an open door when they first went to a synagogue. But as soon as they spoke about Jesus as Messiah, the door would often slam shut. They were usually not invited back by the religious leaders, and sometimes they would be thrown out of town! Paul’s word of exhortation would divide the audience, afflicting the comfortable (in their practice of Judaism and their traditions) and comforting the afflicted (those whose hearts were pierced by the Word of God).
Encouragement is that process whereby we enter the lives of others and give them what they most need—a kind word of challenge or a compassionate word of hope. Who in your life needs a reminder to “keep doing right” or to “hang in there”?
1 Peter 3:15 teaches we should always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have. Thank God for the hope He has placed in your heart. Ask God for opportunities to encourage others with the hope you have.