The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     Arriving at her car with a cart full of groceries several months ago, my wife noticed a sticky note on the windshield. The words written on the note were, “If you ever feel like no one is proud of you…I’M PROUD of you gorgeous.” Upon arriving home, she thanked me for writing such a sweet and encouraging note.
     Having just crossed the threshold from a uniquely challenging year into a new year which will be filled with a host of challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities, perhaps all of us could benefit from blessing others through encouragement and receiving the blessing of encouragement from others. Based on an outline that I jotted down from a published sermon brief years ago, please receive this edition of From Daniel’s Den as a primer for encouragement.
     Encouragement may be extended to others in many different forms and from various sources. First, encouragement may come from a person. Oftentimes no spoken words are necessary to offer encouragement. Rather, simply being present with someone is encouraging. An action taken or an attitude projected provides encouragement as one person gives of themselves to another in an unselfish and sincere manner.
     When the Israelites encountered the Amalekites at Rephadim during the exodus event (Exodus 17), Aaron and Hur came alongside of Moses and supported him. All of us need encouragers like Aaron and Hur. All of us need to be that kind of encourager to others.
      After the lame man was healed (Acts 3), Peter encouraged him by taking the formerly lame man by the hand and helping him to his feet.  Barnabas, the son of encouragement, introduced Paul to the disciples and affirmed the genuineness of Paul’s relationship with Jesus (Acts 9:26-27). Later, Paul mentored Timothy and encouraged him in his spiritual growth.
     David Meece was a contemporary Christian singer of a generation (or two) ago. The chorus of his song entitled “Everybody Needs a Little Help” has these words “Everybody needs a little help to get their life together (and you’re no exception). Everybody needs another hand that they can hold onto. Everybody needs a little help to get their life together. And, I want to give it to you.”         
     Second, encouragement may be extended to others through the spoken or written word. The value and benefit of encouraging words is presented with “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11) and “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Prov. 16:24).
     The chorus to the American folksong “Home on the Range” declare “…where seldom is heard a discouraging word….”  Either no words are spoken out on the range or the words that are spoken are encouraging words. Who needs an encouraging word from you today, this week, this year? How and what you speak can and does have an eternal impact on others.
     Third, encouragement may be extended to others through the church. Paul affirmed this truth to the church at Thessalonica with “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11). Offering hope to Christians in the early church who faced daily persecution and martyrdom, the writer of Hebrews wrote “…let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (10:25). I am convinced that people will be drawn to a church that regularly practices and provides encouragement not only within the congregation, but also into the community and beyond.
     While I could have seized the moment and claimed credit for the note left on my wife’s windshield, I confessed that I had not written the note. Although my wife received the encouragement planned for someone else, the intended recipient of the message unfortunately missed a special blessing on that particular day.
     Let me encourage you to be a source of encouragement to others throughout 2021 by giving of yourself, by expressing encouragement through the written or spoken word, and by inviting someone to participate with you at church. Be assured that you and your encouragement will be a blessing to others. Be assured further that your encouragement of others will yield encouragement and blessings for you in return. Don’t miss out on opportunities to give encouragement and receive a blessing.