"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." --Philemon 6-7 [NIV]I started my day reading about endurance. I thought that would be today's Selah topic. I read a nifty devotion about enduring life with teenagers (it applies to life with young adults, too! I'll come back to that in a later post.). Then I stumbled across the above verses in Philemon when I read a brief devotion on encouragement, which I'll share later in this post.
Don't you think that those verses in Philemon are just the heart of the Christian walk?! Each time we share our faith, love our brothers and sisters, and encourage believers, we are stepping in Christ's footprints.
Have you ever tried to walk exactly where another has stepped before you? Practically speaking, everyone has a different stride. Placing your foot precisely where the other has placed his or her foot is a best difficult, at worst may cause you to stumble.
But if you are following Christ's step, placing your foot into the spot He first placed His, as He does when He is leading you to be an encouragement to another...instead of falling, your sense of balance is strengthened. And if you do fall (tripping over your tongue or your fear or such), His is the hand that reaches out to pick you up and set you firmly back into His predetermined path.
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we has at first." --Hebrews 13:3-4I think that is the draw to being a Christian blogger. I have the opportunity to be encouraged by the posts and comments of other bloggers. And I have the opportunity to encourage other bloggers by my posts and comments. I find that it is much easier to be an anonymous (more or less) encourager than to do it face to face. But encouragement is a ministry to which all Christians are called.
I have a few boxes of pretty notecards and a list of addresses of my Sunday school class and church members. I try to periodically send a note to those God lays on my heart. I started the practice after receiving several encouraging notes myself. When I saw how they brightened my day, I understood that I was called to do the same...either through a note sent unexpectedly or by shaking a believer's hand and telling how much I appreciate him or her.
Now to the devotion I read and it's leading to another level of encouraging:
From the Women's Devotional Bible [Zondervan Publishing House]:Father, help me to step into Christ's footprints as I meet both strangers and friends. Grow me into an encourager who asks You each time what You want me to say in these encounters. Make me a blessing, reaching out to others in Your name. Amen."Sweetheart" by Kathryn Hillen"Let Me Call You Sweetheart--I Can't Remember Your Name."The pin, almost as big as a saucer, was worn by a middle-aged woman - without doubt, an extrovert. We were at a state PTA convention, encountering many unfamiliar faces. The pin seemed to be her humorous way of saying, "Let's be friends for today, but I'm not even going to attempt to remember your name."
We have many temporary relationships: those beside us on the plane or in the laundromat, the people who camp next to us at a resort, and the neighbors who move in and out with such rapidity. It's up to us to decide if these contacts will be meaningless or significant.
Ask God, "What would you like to say to this person through me?" You may be surprised. He may ask you to speak words of appreciation and encouragement, to witness about Christ, or only to be friendly. When we look a person in the eye and ask about their lives, we show that they are valuable. And even if we never learn the person's name, we have been a channel through which God can reach him or her. That is both exciting and humbling.