Encouraging Words

In Your Bible: Acts 13

Now we begin the amazing account of Paul’s three missionary journeys. The first took place around AD 47-49, with Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark. They preached, taught and served in modern day Cyprus and Turkey. God at work!

Exhortation or Encouragement

Paul and Barnabas were in the Synagogue on the Sabbath in Antioch of Pisidia. After the reading of the books concerning Moses and the prophets, those overseeing the service addressed Paul and Barnabas, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it” (Acts 13:15b NLT).

Then, Paul stood and gave a profound, detailed history – how God worked through 450 years of Israel’s generations of ancestors, through judges, David and other kings, and now through Jesus, Messiah.

Made Right with God

Paul appealed to those gathered in the Synagogue teaching that through Jesus, forgiveness from sins is available. A new and bold concept . . . “Everyone who believes in him [Jesus] is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do” (Acts 13:39 NLT).

This struck the hearts of all who heard, so much that they begged Paul and Barnabas for more teaching. They stayed on and urged all who heard them to continue to rely on the grace of God.

A Light to the Gentiles

The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the Word of the Lord (Acts 13:44 NLT). But the size of the crowd angered the Jews so much that they began to slander and dispute whatever Paul and Barnabas said.

Paul boldly condemned this rejection and went on to state from the Prophet Isaiah, “I have made you [Jesus] a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 NLT).

The Gentiles would also receive God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ. These Gentiles were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. God at work!

Prayer: Father, thank you that you continue to send missionaries to spread the good news of Jesus around the world. Please guide and protect them.

Questions: When is the last time you had the opportunity to encourage a missionary? In what manner?

Encouragement and Hope

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4 NIV).

Romans 15 NIV
Romans 15 by Frank Ball
Romans 15 In Your Bible

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Romans, he continues to focus on relationships and living for God. Wonderful jewels remain for the believer in this chapter. He concludes it with a discussion of his travels and trials.

Unity in Christ

Christ came to the Jews first, to show them God is true to his promises. Then in God’s mercy, Christ came to the Gentiles. They received the Cornerstone the Jews had rejected and God received the glory.

Paul sets his heart to pray for unity between Jews and Gentiles. He prays not for himself, but for the Roman believers. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NIV).

Affirmation

Fellow believers I am convinced that your lives are overflowing with kindness and generosity. Filled with knowledge of God’s love, you are well able to encourage and admonish on another (Romans 15:14 by Frank Ball).

Prayer: Father, thank you for the promise of endurance to pass through my trials. I praise you for the Cornerstone – Jesus Christ.

Questions: At times when have you have felt low, did someone encourage you with the uplifting word, a song, or Scripture that met your needs? Paul affirms believers are overflowing with kindness and generosity. When is the last time you encouraged someone else?