This post is another recycled lesson I gave once. Deciding to re-do it some and post it here, came after a conversation with a friend of mine. I have a feeling this may be a two-parter. This post is in no way asking anyone to do these things for me, but just some ideas if you are like me, and think when the gifts of the Spirit were passed out, you got left out. This is one we can all do: Encourage.
The story is told that one day Satan was selling off some of his tools. All sizes and prices were available. There was one small tool that had an extremely high price on it. When asked why the high price for such a small tool, his reply was that it was his most often used, and most effective tool - the tool of discouragement.
Of course there never was such a sale, but discouragement is one of the devil’s best tools. It seems if he can get a Christian discouraged, they become in effective, and for a lot of Christians who give up and stumble, it is all started by discouragement.
So who do we encourage? First off........Yourself. Not a selfish thing - if you are discouraged, it is hard to encourage others. The Bible talks about David encouraging himself in the Lord - we all need to do that.
1) Prayer. Praying should be our first recourse when we are discouraged, and if we are constant with our praying, discouragement doesn't come quite so easily. It shouldn't be our last resort, but our first.
2) Bible. It helps to have favorite scriptures that mean a lot to turn to when you are discouraged. I tend to read Jeremiah 29: 10-12 a lot. And Psalm 23. And there is nothing wrong with that. If you are discouraged, you don't want to read Leviticus.
Along with the Bible, a promise book, where you can easily access God's promises, and a good devotional are a big help.
3) Church. Being around people of like-minded faith can be a boost to discouragement. I work with a woman who claims to be Christian, but never goes to church. She has church at home, and her reasons for not going are about as clear as mud. You can't stay home from church and stay encouraged. We all need people who believe as us. I have been to couple of presidential rallies - Bush, and McCain, and it gave me hope - hopes that were dashed this past election day, but being around other people who believed in that person for President was a boost, and got me excited.
4) Thanksgiving & Praise. It is hard to be discouraged if you are thanking & praising God for the good things in life, and there is always something good, if not just life itself, other things we overlook so easily. One of my very favorite songs, "Praise His Name" has a good message.........
When everything falls apart, praise His name
When you have a broken heart, raise your hands and say
“Lord you’re all I need, you’re everything to me”
And He’ll take the pain away
When it seems you’re all alone, praise His name
When you feel you can’t go on, just raise your hands and say
“Greater is He that is within me,” and you can praise the hurt away
If you’ll just praise His name.
5) Music. Music can lift your spirits. There are many who despise Southern Gospel - some say it is too "wild" and prefer music with no drums or beat, others say it is too boring or "twangy", but there is one thing Southern Gospel has that other genres of Christian music doesn't: encouragement. Sure, there may be a song here and there in CCM or Praise & Worship that encourages, but there are tons of Southern Gospel songs that encourage. I could list many here, but won't.
6) Read. There are tons of encouraging books out there, on just about any subject you need. Even some fiction books can encourage - I can attest to that.
7) Do something for someone else. It is amazing how doing something for someone else can make you feel better - which brings me to my next point, and another blog post.