At Christmas, on my birthday, or on Father’s Day, I have no trouble accepting gifts. I enjoy getting, opening, and using gifts. However, when it comes to encouragement I’m not an easy person to encourage. I don’t accept encouragement easily. But I know that God wants to encourage me in a variety of ways, and He wants to encourage you too. Last week, we looked at how to find encouragement. Today, I want to share with you some biblical ideas for how to receive encouragement.
Our theme verse for this series is Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I encourage you today with that verse as you seek to encourage others and receive encouragement. Here are a couple of ideas for receiving encouragement.
- Anticipate God’s encouragement. We are instructed many times in the Bible to be patient and wait for God. Here is one verse from the Psalms. “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14 NLT) Two times the instruction of waiting on God is repeated here. So when we are discouraged, when life is difficult and hard, we are to wait on God anticipating his help and his encouragement. We don’t always know when or where God will encourage us, but we are to expect it, anticipate it, and wait for it.
- Accept God’s encouragement in whatever form it may come. Sometimes we anticipate where, when, and how God will encourage us, but it turns out to be totally different than our expectations. Colossians 4:7-8 (NCV) states, “Tychicus is my dear brother in Christ and a faithful minister and servant with me in the Lord. He will tell you all the things that are happening to me. This is why I am sending him: so you may know how we are and he may encourage you.” Paul wrote a letter of encouragement, and he sent other Christians with the letter to encourage the congregation. Tychicus is one of the people Paul sent, and he is mentioned about five times in Paul’s different letters. Here, he is introduced to the congregation because they did not know him. Imagine a total stranger walking into your congregation carrying a letter and saying, “I’m here to encourage you.” That’s kind of what happened here. Paul was in prison, so he couldn’t go in person. He sent others in his place to encourage the congregations. I’m sure the congregation would have rather had Paul in person; instead, they got a stranger. Don’t put God’s encouragement in a box. Instead, accept it in whatever form it may come.
- Listen to God’s encouragement. Sometimes, we fail to listen to what God is saying. Look at what God says to Joshua. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV) God begins with the question, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” “Joshua, have you been listening to the encouragement I already gave you? Don’t be discouraged. I will be with you.” Maybe Joshua was listening. Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he needed the extra encouragement. Whatever the case, God was making sure that Joshua was listening. Make sure you listen to God’s encouragement.
- Act on God’s encouragement. Once we have listened to God’s encouragement, then it is time to act on it. Faith without works is dead. As we hear God encouraging us, we must believe it by faith and act on it by faith. Here is one example as Moses spoke to Joshua. “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8 NIV) Moses handed the torch of leadership to Joshua, giving him the encouragement and instruction to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. As we read in the previous verse, Joshua needed a little more encouragement from God. However, Joshua eventually acted on this, and he did lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Make sure you act on God’s encouragement.
- Thank God for His encouragement. Just as we thank others when they give us gifts, we must also thank God for the encouragement He gives us. Here is one example from Paul. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work.” (1 Timothy 1:12 NLT) In Paul’s letters, we find many examples of his thanks to people and to God. Paul understood how much grace, mercy, encouragement, and strength God had given him. Paul understood that he didn’t deserve any of it. Therefore, he was thankful, and he expressed his thanks often. Make sure you thank God for His encouragement.
These are a few biblical ideas for receiving encouragement. I hope and pray you will be encouraged. Next week, we will look at, “How To Give Encouragement.”