“What if the spirit of encouragement ran rampant throughout the church?”
These are the words I heard The Lord speak to me one evening last June. That question has stirred the heart of my wife and I over and over ever since. The incident, the scripture, that stirred “the question” that night is the subject of this blog. It also was the catalyst The Lord used to lead me to writing a book, “the Power of Encouragement”, published in October by Westbow Press.
I had been reading in the Word about the Apostle Paul, at the time he was just getting saved, Acts, chapter 9. He had an encounter with Jesus that literally rocked his world! He never looked at things the same after that experience.
Saul began his walk with Jesus as a New Creation in Christ. As with all of us, he started his walk as a baby Christian. Babies are so cute! But they also can be very demanding, touchy, and convinced the whole world revolves around them. Every believer goes through the baby stage; but unfortunately, some never outgrow it.
Anyway, Saul began preaching Jesus all over the town. Please, please, please understand this truth: preaching does not equate with spiritual maturity! Baby Saul was trying to introduce Damascus to Jesus! Some of the people were excited to meet Him, but enough others only wanted to shut Saul’s mouth; permanently. So his friends sent him to Jerusalem, by dark of night.
When he arrived, he tried to get a face to face meeting with the church leaders. But when they saw Saul’s name on their caller id, all they could think of was the old Saul, the persecutor of the church. So they stayed clear. But a prophet/teacher by the name of Barnabas had heard about Saul’s conversion and his preaching experience in Damascus, and welcomed him; introducing Saul to his circle of friends.
Saul started preaching again! I think he figured his reputation alone could draw a good sized crowd. He was right! Problem was, they weren’t there for a revival. They were there for a funeral. Saul’s! So, once again, he packed up and moved; back home.
This is what grabbed my heart in studying this part of scripture. I’d never seen it, or heard it preached like this. The thing The Lord showed me was Saul went back home to Tarsus! He didn’t go to plant a church, lead a cell group, or anything else but just go home.
Nothing wrong with going home. Nothing wrong with taking a break. But Saul was there for quite some time. I’m convinced he would have stayed there had it not been for Barnabas who went to Tarsus to find him.
Barnabas, the Encourager! See how powerful encouragement can be. It is strong enough to handle the burdens of others, enduring enough to make a long journey for a friend. It’s passionate about seeing people walk in and fulfill their calling, and stubborn enough to not take no for an answer.
So what if the Church was to be overrun by Barnabas’? What if the spirit of encouragement ran rampant in our fellowships? What if each of us set aside our own agendas, preferences, prejudices, and whatever else that gets in the way; what if we just decided to help encourage others regardless of the personal cost?
Well, what would the Church look like today if, 2000 years ago, someone named Barnabas had decided he really didn’t have the time or resources to encourage some fairly new Christian named Saul?
How many “Saul’s” are right now sitting at home, discouraged and disillusioned about church, ministry, or life in general?
Throughout my book I look at different ways to help stir up the spirit of encouragement in the church, starting with you and I. There is also a section to help the reader learn how to encourage themselves.
The book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book distributors. Any bookstore can order it for you, as well. It is also available in eBook format.
The whole reason for the book and this post is to ask the question again and again: “what if the spirit of encouragement ran rampant throughout the church?”
My prayer is, “Lord, may we find out!”