In His Grip Devotions
Treasures in the Church
Encouragement Principle: Biblical encouragement creates a loving community that causes other s to glorify God.
By Sharon W. Betters
A church focused on revealing God to the world will be known for one thing above all else: love (1 John 4:8, 16). First-century Christiasn illustrated seven traits of such a church. They had renewed hearts, demonstrating God’s work in their lives (Acts 16:15). They showedsubmitted hearts when they put other’s needs above their own (Philippians 2:2-4). They had connected hearts because they spent time together (Acts 2:46 – 47). They had risk-taking hearts, doing God’s work without worrying about the consequences (Acts 16:16 – 18). They had generous hearts, encouraging one another by giving themselves and their resources first to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). They hadaccepting hearts, welcoming imperfect people into their midst (Romans 15:1, 5 -7). And they had faithful hearts, spreading the gospel even when they saw no results (3 John 5 – 8).
Our local churches will become safe havens for hurting people as we practice biblical encouragement in any form. When we work in the nursery, empty overflowing trash cans, or wipe up excess water around restroom sinks, we are helping spread the gospel through biblical encouragement.
In my journey through grief, I pleaded with God to let me experience His joy again, but I did not believe it was possible. Then I remembered an older gentleman who taught vacation Bible school when I was a teenager. The text for our week-long Bible study was Paul’s letter to the Philippians. I remember very little about the study except the theme: joy.
In my search for joy many years later, God used that tiny seed to point me to Philippians. I have forgotten the VBS teacher’s name, but I pray that one day in heaven, I will have the privilege of telling him how his faithfulness to a horde of ungrateful teenagers helped one of them survive the deepest sorrow of her life.
Consider your local church. Are the hearts of believers in your church like those of first-century Christians? If your answer is no, how might God use you to effect change? If your answer is yes, what are you doing to keep it that way?
Reprinted with Permission from Treasures of Encouragement Planner by Sharon W. Betters, P & R Publishing
In His grip,
Sharon W. Betters
Digging Deeper: Hebrews 10:19 – 25; 1 John 4:8, 16; Philippians 2:2-4; Acts 2:46 -47