Words of Encouragement - 5-12-22 1

Greetings Prayers,

The last three weeks we’ve looked at some tough topics. A break is needed. The word that has been resonating within me is “encouragement”. As I was ruminating (such a great word!) on “encouragement” I was struck in my mind that in the middle is the word – courage. It’s always been there but for some reason I became acutely aware of its placement. This caused me to wonder if there is, at times, an element of courage needed to speak encouragement into another person.

In many ways, encourage or encouragement can be overused as is love. I love ice cream; I love rock & roll; I love my spouse. And, it goes without saying that loving a spouse is very different than loving a friend. Yet, we use the same word for all the above. Maybe encouragement is different, more specific. The dictionary defines it as: the act of encouraging; something that encourages. Well, that’s no help. Looking up the word encourage was better: to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to attempt to persuade; to spur on; to give help or patronage. For today’s newsletter I will focus on the first definition.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for encouragement is paraklesis. This word may sound familiar to many reading this. Paraklesis is similar to parakletos – which refers almost exclusively to the Holy Spirit (Ruach ha’Kodesh); according to The Strongest NIV Concordance. Now that is interesting. We’ll come back to this later.

Let us take a look at biblical examples of encouragement. Some passages below are too long to include in their entirety but I do hope you will look them up to read them for yourselves.

  • I Samuel 16:14-23 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him……..Whenever the [evil] spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. Most translations use “evil” in these passages, but some will use: tormenting, bad, distressing or harmful. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to wonder what Saul might have been like or experiencing during those times when he was being afflicted. He could have been in physical pain, perhaps outbursts of anger, or even violent. And yet music brought him relief. Could it have been unnerving for David (albeit strong of character and physical strength) to enter into those uncertain circumstances – perhaps armed only with a harp? Another thought: as David encouraged Saul with his music, did the Lord fill David with His encouragement as he stepped into difficult circumstances?
  • Jeremiah 31:31-34 “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel ……It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people……” This was a prophetic message given to Jeremiah by the Lord. These were also words of encouragement to the listeners in confirming that they were still God’s people in spite of the difficulties they found themselves in. But this new covenant did not happen in their lifetimes.  Jeremiah’s ministry was between 626BC to roughly 586BC. It’s not until ~33AD when we read in Luke 22:20 of Jesus/Yeshua’s words, In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  I reckon the disciples still may not have understood what Jesus/Yeshua was referring to. His blood is the new covenant??? These words could also have been an encouragement to the disciples……a new covenant with God!!! Wonder what that will look like???
  • John 16:6-7 {Jesus/Yeshua says,} “Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor (parakletos) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” We who have read these verses understand exactly what He is talking. We’ve all heard sermons, read books, studied the scriptures. We get it! Now put yourselves into the shoes of the disciples. Might your response be – I don’t understand, with a bit of a whine in your voice? But, again, these were words to encourage!

And that is where I will stop. Come back next week for Part 2 of Words of Encouragement.

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