Putting God's Word into Practice…

Acts 16 ~ Strengthened and Encouraged

on July 11, 2012

The theme of the church being strengthened in faith and encouraged keeps coming up throughout Acts.  A lot of times when I think of encouragement, I think of pretty little note cards.  Although those are good too, I don’t think that is what this book means when it talks of strengthening and encouraging the church.  Leaders of the Christian faith were being beaten, stoned, arrested, and imprisoned.  The church needed courage and strength.  Believing in the Lord Jesus for salvation is the easy part.  Staying faithful, fighting the good fight, running the race, staying on course–that’s where encouragement and strength come in.  According to Merriam-Webster “to encourage” means to inspire with courage, to spur on.  While “to strengthen” means to make stronger, to fortify.  To encourage and strengthen is intense, important, life-sacrificing work!

What does it look like to strengthen and encourage?

  1. It involves many words (15:32).  Nowadays, this can be done in person or through email, notecards, text messages, etc…Personally, I like to send Bible verses to people that meet their circumstances in hopes that God’s Word will refresh and inspire them and build them up for His work in their lives.
  2. According to 16:9-10 we must be sensitive to God’s directing in our lives, to recognize His call and to respond in immediate obedience.
  3. We must go to the people.  Generally, people who need encouraged and strengthened don’t line up at my door, I have to be perceptive and go to them.  When I need encouraged and strengthened, I don’t usually announce it.  God shows people and gives them a desire to minister to my heart.
  4. Minister encouragement wherever we are.  Paul did it in the cities, outside the city, in a jail cell.  
  5. Keep Christ central and address anyone God puts in our path–show no partiality.  Paul spoke to men, women, Jews, Gentiles, biracial, and even the jailor who would be considered an enemy by many.
  6. Never succumb to discouragement from opposition.  Paul could have easily thought he was in the wrong place at the wrong time because his ministry was difficult and there were obstacles, but he continued to do the work the Lord gave him no matter his circumstances.

The ministry of encouragement is not always going to be easy, but it is always necessary.  Wherever we find ourselves, there is usually someone that we can encourage and strengthen in the faith.  Look for opportunities, listen for God’s direction, and be quick to follow through!

I would be remiss to think that everyone who happens upon this blog is saved already and therefore need to highlight two of my favorite verses in the whole Bible from this chapter–verses 30-31.  “Then he (the jailer) brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  It’s that simple!  BELIEVE that Jesus is the only one who can rescue you from your sin and selfishness and that He is Lord–or Ruler over everything–even your life!


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