Encouraging One AnotherRecharging the Battery
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: At the turn of the twentieth century there was a war fought in South Africa—the Boer War—you remember that name. And there was one particular battle in a town called Ladysmith that was critical to the overall war.
Leslie Basham: This is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
At a very important moment when the town and the fortresses were in jeopardy of being lost, there was a civilian in that town who would go out to the troops who were defending the town, and he would speak discouraging words to the soldiers. He thought everything was lost and would discourage them with the words he spoke. He never struck a blow for the enemy, yet he was just a discourager. He struck a harder blow for the enemy than even if he had been armed.
The court martial judged in his case that it was a crime to speak disheartening words in that critical hour such as they were facing. The man was court-martialed and sentenced to a year of imprisonment for being a discourager.
Now, let me ask you, if it were illegal today to be a discourager, to be a discouraging person, to speak discouraging words, how many of us would be breaking the law? How many of us would be at risk for being arrested for being discouragers? Well, it may not be illegal to be a discourager, but I can tell you this, it is a sin to be a discourager, so it's something that ought to concern all of us.
Leslie: It’s so easy for you and I to become like this man who disheartened the troops. Today we’ll learn how to replace discouragement with words that bring life. This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, January 28. Nancy’s beginning a series called, "Encouraging One Another."
Nancy: I think one of the most needed ministries in the church today is the ministry of encouragement. To encourage is to give courage, to give hope, to give confidence, to give comfort. And you have known some encouragers, probably, as I have. I think of those encouragers as energy-giving people.
Then I've known some discouragers. Some people who are energy-draining, they're debilitating, they're hard to be around. And as I say that, I'm thinking to myself how many times I've been in that energy-draining group of people.
You know, everyone needs to be encouraged. Even such a great servant of the Lord as the apostle Paul needed encouragement. It's amazing as you read through the book of Acts and the letters of Paul in the New Testament how many references he makes to the value of having other people around him to help him in the ministry, whose friendship he treasured, whose companionship he needed. Paul felt it keenly when he was in prison or in a difficult ministry situation . . . how much he relied on the encouragement of others of God's servants around him.
So Paul says in Philemon 1, "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints" (v. 7). I don't know about you, but that's the kind of person I want to be.
Paul says in Philippians chapter 2, "I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state" (v. 19). He wanted good news about the Philippians, and he said the report from Timothy would be encouraging to him.
In Colossians 4,he talks about some different people, including a man named Justus, who sent greetings to the Colossians. And Paul said of these people, "These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me" (v. 11).
That word comfort is the Greek word paregoria. It's a word from which we get our word paregoric. It's a medicine that soothes an upset stomach. Paul said these people have been a paregoric, a comfort, to my upset inner person. They have ministered comfort and encouragement to me.
First Thessalonians 3. Paul says, "Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith" (vv. 6–7).
So when Paul was down and out, when he was suffering for his faith . . . We think of these spiritual giants as people who never need encouragement, but Paul says, "Thank you for providing the encouragement that I needed when I was in this place of distress and persecution."
Second Timothy 4, Paul writes from a Roman prison cell. He says to Timothy, "Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry" (vv. 9–11). What is Paul saying? "I need encouragement." Paul needed encouragement. We all need to be encouraged.
But here's what I really want to emphasize, and that is that everyone needs to be an encourager. It's easier for us to focus on how we need to be encouraged. But it's more important to remember that all of us need to be encouragers.
Being an encourager is not an option. Thirty-two different times in the New Testament we read that there are things that as believers we are to do for "one another." Be kind to one another. Love one another.
One of those "one anothers" is encourage one another. Hebrews 3:13: "Encourage one another." This is not just for a few believers to do; it's for all of us. We know from the Scripture that God is an encourager. Romans 15 calls Him the God of encouragement and comfort. So when we encourage others, we are being like God. We are ministering His grace to others.
You see, when God brings His encouragement into your life and you let it overflow into my life, you're really sending me encouragement from God. When I let God encourage my heart in my stressful or discouraging circumstances, then I can become a means of giving God's encouragement out to you. We minister His grace to others.
Now, it's easy to wait for others to come and encourage us. Especially when we're in a discouraging circumstance. Our tendency is to think "I need someone to encourage me," as if to say, "Therefore I have justification for wallowing in my discouragement because there's no one there for me."
I believe if we wait for others to come and encourage us, we're probably going to stay pretty much discouraged, because any time my focus is on self, that's a dead-end street. But if I will get my eyes off of myself and say, "Okay, Lord. I'm in this 'slough of despond' as it says in Pilgrim's Progress. But rather than looking for someone to encourage me, I want to look out and ask you, ‘Who could You encourage through me, even as I'm walking through these circumstances?’"
What goes 'round comes 'round. We reap what we sow. I really believe that we will be encouraged as we set out to encourage others. I'm convinced that a lot of the clinical depression and the psychological disorders that people have today in their spirits started way back as a root of discouragement. People couldn't find anyone to encourage them, and they failed to encourage others. So what they have not given out, they have never received. The time I most feel the need to be encouraged is the time I most need to focus on how I can be an encourager to others.
I've seen this happen in so many other people's lives. It's really interesting to me that people who you would think need the most encouragement, whose lives have the most discouraging circumstances, often those people turn out to be the best encouragers.
I think of my friend, Fran, who has got cerebral palsy and is very homebound in a desperately difficult family situation. So many things have gone wrong in her life, and yet I often get an email or voicemail from Fran saying, "It's Fran. Just want you to know that I'm thinking about you and praying for you." She's one of the biggest encouragers in my life, and she probably needs more encouragement than almost anybody I know.
Two of the women who've been the greatest encouragers to me in the ministry of Revive Our Hearts are two other women broadcasters. One of those is June Hunt. She has a program called Hope for the Heart. I remember seeing her just after she had been through breast cancer, and had really been through a serious struggle with her own health. I saw her not long after that and she said, "Nancy, I just want you to know, I've been praying for you. How's it going with the ministry?" She's an encourager.
And then Joni Eareckson Tada . . . she's another woman who has a broadcast ministry, and is one of the greatest encouragers I know. As many of you know, Joni has been paralyzed since she was seventeen years old as the result of a diving accident. She has so much reason to need other encouragers in her life, but she's an encourager.
I got a note from Joni. With what it takes her to just go through a day, I can't imagine her taking the time to do this. She said, "I'm just getting ready to leave with Ken for a ministry weekend, and I've been listening to one of your tapes. I wanted you to know what a blessing it was. Thank you for your ministry."
I'm saying, "Oh, Lord, I have no reason to wallow in discouragement, and every reason to become an encourager in someone else's life. I want to be to others what God has used people like Joni and June and Fran and many of you in this room to be to me—an encourager."
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with part two of today’s Revive Our Hearts. Just think, your encouragement can make a big impression on someone else, just like others have made a big impression on Nancy. To help you be more of an encourager, we’d like to send you a set of thank you cards based on Nancy’s book Choosing Gratitude.
We’ll send you the set of six cards when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, and you’ll also get the Choosing Gratitude Companion Journal. It will help you keep track of things you’re thankful for. Get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.
Now, let’s get back to Nancy and the series, "Encouraging One Another."
Nancy: If you live up north as I do, you've probably had the experience of going out on a cold winter day and finding that your battery in your car was dead. You couldn't get the engine to turn over. You couldn't get it to start. There's nothing wrong with the car, but the battery's dead. So what do you do when that happens?
Well, you get another car with a battery that's not dead to come alongside of your car. Then you get these jumper cables. I act like I know what I'm talking about. I really have never done this, but I have seen it done, and I know it works.
They connect the cables to the car with the battery that has the juice, and then they run that cable to your dead battery in your car. And what happens? There's a power that is transmitted, there is an infusion of energy, of life, that makes it so that your battery in your car will start again.
As we look into the New Testament on this whole matter of encouragement, there are a number of words that are translated from the Greek language into English that are similar words in the original language. But in English we have different words. We have the word encourage and encouragement. You'll find that sometimes in the New Testament.
You'll find the word exhort or exhortation . . . the word comfort or comforter. All these words all come from the same root Greek word. There's a noun form and a verb form, but essentially it's the word that means "to come alongside," "to come to someone's aid," "to come alongside and help."
The Holy Spirit is called the Parakletos, the Paraclete, the Comforter, the One who comes alongside of our "dead batteries" in our spirits. He rejuvenates, and He energizes, and He quickens us. He's our Helper when we can't help ourselves. He's that Paraclete.
Parakaleo: to call another person to come to your aid or to your rescue. Paraclesis: encouragement, exhortation, to call by the side.
That's what that word means. It's a compound word, paraclesis, parakaleo, paraclete, to come alongside, even as that car with the strong healthy battery comes alongside of your car with the weak or dead battery and rejuvenates, re-energizes.
I think that's such a picture of what we need in the body of Christ as we often find ourselves drained, feeling inwardly weak, feeble, faint-hearted, feeling like for whatever reason, “I just can't go on.” It may be that we have sinned, we failed, and our conscience is really troubled. We experience what David talked about in the Psalms of the weakness of our being because of our failures—a guilty conscience.
It may be that we're in some circumstances over which we have no control, but they're going on and on and on. We can't keep going ourselves. We don't know how to keep functioning in that difficult marriage or that difficult situation with an "impossible-to-please" boss at work, or an in-law who won't communicate with us. We feel like that dead battery.
The Scripture says that God gives to us in the body of Christ the ministry of encouragement, which is the process whereby other believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the ultimate encourager—they come alongside of us. Their battery is strong at the moment.
They're walking in the grace of God, and they're experiencing His fullness, and they come and they connect to our lives. That's why in the Body of Christ it's so important we not function independently, that we not try to live on our own. We need each other.
We're going to talk this week about different ways we can "jump start" each other, help each other get a fresh start. But it's a ministry of encouragement. You see this over and over again through the Scripture of someone coming alongside of someone whose "juices" were low. They came alongside and gave a jumpstart to help that other person with a ministry of encouragement.
For example, in Colossians, chapter 4, the apostle Paul says to the Colossian believers, "I have sent Tychicus to you for this very purpose that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts" (vv. 7–8). That he may parakaleo—that he may come alongside of your hearts. “You're discouraged because you don't know how your father in the faith is doing, and how things are with me, so I'm sending Tychicus to come alongside of you and encourage your hearts.”
Encouragement really is a matter of the heart. It's a matter of that inner person that's failing, that's fainting, that's weak or weary. Someone comes alongside and they minister the grace and the Spirit of God and our hearts are encouraged and strengthened because someone has come alongside of us.
You come to the book of Acts and you find Priscilla and Aquila. They were paracletes; they were ones who came alongside. They came alongside of Apollos, who was a committed and zealous believer. But he was new in the faith, and he wasn't doctrinally trained, so he was making some doctrinal mistakes in his teaching.
Apollos came to town, and Priscilla and Aquila, more mature believers, came alongside of Apollos to parakaleo him, to help him spiritually and doctrinally to mature in his faith. Then they sent him off, and he became a paraclete to other young believers. He became a great evangelist.
Of course, that's the way it's supposed to be with the ministry of encouragement, where we're always coming alongside of others as we help them get a fresh start; then they can become an encourager, a paraclete, someone to come alongside of others who are in need of a "jumpstart" themselves.
There's a wonderful illustration of this coming alongside of someone in the Old Testament, in the book of 1 Samuel. It involves two close friends, Jonathan who was the son of King Saul and then David who was Jonathan's peer, but David was the one who had been anointed by God to be the next king of Israel.
Saul, the then king, the one that was on the throne, was insecure and was wanting to get rid of David because he knew that David was going to be his successor. So David was having to flee for his life, having to be a fugitive. First Samuel 23 tells us that David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph.
Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. So David saw that King Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in a forest.
So here's David. He's hunted. He's a fugitive. He's running from the king. For years he needed a paraclete, someone to come alongside of him and rejuvenate him, someone to help him with his weak and dying internal battery. And God sent just that kind of person in the person of Jonathan.
Verse 16 of 1 Samuel 23 tells us, "Then Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God" (NKJV). Some of your other translations will read this way, "Jonathan encouraged David in God." He strengthened his hand in the Lord. He encouraged him in God.
What did he do? He pointed David's attention to the Lord who was the spiritual energy and power and life and strength that could get David up and going again. He saw here a man who could have been very discouraged, very disheartened, who could have been weary in the battle. Jonathan strengthened or encouraged David in the Lord.
Now it didn't end there. What a picture we have here of how this is to work in our own lives. Jonathan was the paraclete who came alongside of David and said, "I'll jump start you. I'll encourage you. I'll strengthen your battery."
Then several chapters later we read in 1 Samuel, chapter 30, there was another season of David's life when the Scripture tells us that David was greatly distressed, he'd been through a huge loss. An enemy had come against the town where he lived to take away the wives and the children captive, had burned the city with fire. Then verse 6 tells us that "David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of the people was grieved. . . . But David strengthened or encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (vv. 6–8).
How did David know how to strengthen and encourage himself in the Lord? He'd had a paraclete. Jonathan had encouraged David in the Lord, and now David was able to encourage himself in the Lord.
You see, when we encourage others, the goal is that we would point one another to the ultimate source of life for our internal batteries—that we would bring each other to the place where we could strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
So as you think about the people in your life right now, who needs you to come alongside of them and say, "Let me give you a jump start”? Then ask God to show you how. Say, "Lord, I'm available. I make myself available to be an encourager in the life of this person who is weak and needs a fresh start."
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the series, "Encouraging One Another." One powerful way to encourage each other is to spend time together.
At Revive Our Hearts, we want to spend time with our listeners this spring. Nancy’s here to tell you how we can do that.
Nancy: Thanks, Leslie. Several weeks ago a group of about eighty women gathered to be part of a Revive Our Hearts recording session. We typically record several programs in a day, and we do it at our headquarters in southwest Michigan. That day before I began teaching the first program, some of the women were sharing what was on their hearts.
Here’s what one listener had to say:
Woman in studio audience: I am a homeschool mom, a wife, a grandma, and I have been over overloaded immensely this last year—and I’m in full-fledged menopause. In the process of all that, I have been crying out to the Lord for a break. I really haven’t had that chance.
Yesterday my sweet friend Sarah called and said, “Hey, I am heading to this program tomorrow, this women’s ministry, and I would love for you to go.” And I just saw every excuse in the book not to come.
But she just encouraged me, and I made a couple of phone calls and had some other friends encourage me, and I felt the Lord really pulling me here even though the enemy was working very hard to keep me from coming. I’m already refreshed, just in the short time I’ve been here.
I just want to praise the Lord for what you are doing because I have been on an island, overwhelmed, and the Lord is being gracious to me.
Nancy: In that recording session we stopped right there and prayed that God would continue to refresh that mom. A lot of our listeners could use refreshing like that, but they live too far away to become part of a Revive Our Hearts radio recording session.
That’s why we’ve decided this year to take our recordings on the road. We’re calling it a Revive Tour. We’re visiting eight different locations this spring. If you live anywhere near one of our stops, I would love to have the chance to see you.
During the month of March, we’ll be in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and in Houston. And then during the rest of the spring, April, May, and June, we’ll be in Chicago; Grand Rapids; Indianapolis; Cleveland; Lynchburg, Virginia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
This may be just the opportunity that you need to get refreshed and encouraged like the listener who was with us several weeks ago. At each stop on the Revive Tour we’ll have an evening event that’s open to the public, and then the next morning we’ll have a recording session where we’ll record several programs of Revive Our Hearts.
You can get all the details on the Revive Tour by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. I hope we’ll get to see you there.
Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.
We like to say that we need each other, but what do we really mean? Are we saying that we're incomplete as individuals? Yes, in a sense that's exactly what we're saying. On tomorrow's program, we'll hear why. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture was taken from the NIV.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.