by: Timothy Vazquez
Acts 23:11 (NLT) That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.”
Encouragement is a beautiful thing. We are reminded through the New Testament to encourage one another in the faith. The reason that the Lord wants us to encourage each other is because the way that we as followers of Christ are following is not an easy road. Jesus told us that in this world we would have much trouble (John 16:33). There are so many things that can happen and that do happen in life that can easily discourage us. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a friend turning against you or experiencing any type of failure in your life, there are many things that can take the wind out of our sails and leave us deflated and defeated. Discouragement is dangerous because it can lead to doubt, unbelief and to giving up.
That is why the Bible teaches us to be encouragers. If you know someone who is feeling downhearted or depressed and you happen to be strong in the Lord and encouraged in your heart at the time, you are called to encourage that person. The Word of God tells us that we need to help to bear the weight of whatever is ailing a brother or sister in Christ (Galatians 6:2) and that we should comfort others with the same comfort that we received from the Lord when we needed it. And that leads me to the verse above. The best encouragement that we can receive is from the Lord Himself.
The Apostle Paul was going through a rough time. He had been arrested in Jerusalem during a riot that had broken out against him for speaking the truth about Jesus. Paul knew that he would be arrested because the Lord had warned him that it was going to happen and that he would eventually wind up in Rome because of it. But the reality of losing your freedom and not being treated fairly is still a difficult thing to deal with. As soon as he was arrested, he asked for permission to speak to the crowd, but that didn't go well and the Roman officers had to literally carry him to safety. The next day, he stood before the High Council to make his defense and that didn't go well either. It would be very understandable if Paul would have been discouraged about all of this. But then we read that Someone came to encourage him. It wasn't one of his traveling companions or any other fellow believer who came. It was the Lord Himself. Jesus came to encourage his heart, knowing that he had been through a lot. There is no encouragement like the encouragement of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We serve a God who not only instructs us in the godly and life-giving way to life, but who lives out what He tells us to do. He knows when we need to be strengthened for the road ahead and He is faithful to show up to help us every time. That is very encouraging!
Pastor Joey Vazquez