Hello, welcome to Christ blog and welcome to my very first post. Considering the tagline for Christ blog is “Where Iron Sharpens Iron,” I decided to share with you “7 Powerful Examples of Biblical Encouragement,” straight from the pages of scripture.
The seven powerful examples of biblical encouragement include; Jesus – Our Ultimate Role Model, Paul – Pillar of Strength, Barnabas – Son of Encouragement, Apollos – Minister of God, Abigail – The Peacemaker, Jonathan – A Friend in Need and Hezekiah – King of Judah.
#1) Jesus – Our Ultimate Roll Model
Many times in the New Testament Jesus was often quoted saying “My hour has not yet come, meaning the hour of His enemies, the hour He was to be arrested, tried, convicted and crucified. In Luke chapter 22, during the feast of unleavened bread, which is called Passover, Jesus institutes the Lord’s supper with His disciples in the upper room. Talking about the ultimate example and role model for encouraging others and denying yourself – here’s a Man who is only hours away from the most painful and torturous method of execution during the Roman era. A Man who is about to be ridiculed, mocked, beat with a cat of nine tails and nailed to a cross. They even ripped the beard from His face. Scripture tells us that He was unrecognizable as a man, and yet here He is with His disciples comforting them with His wisdom and strength, preparing them for His departure. Even though all His disciples seemed concerned about was who among them would be the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus still encouraged them with promises that they would be eating and drinking at His table in His kingdom and sitting on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And although Jesus had to break the news to Peter that Satan has asked for him personally, that he may sift him like wheat, and that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, Jesus still strengthened him by letting him know that He has prayed to the Father on his behalf that his faith would not fail. Jesus even told Peter to strengthen the brethren when he returns back to Him after denying Him three times. And when Jesus says the words “when you have returned to Me,” that automatically ensures you that you will return to Him.
#2) Paul – Pillar of Strength
Although he was the leading persecutor of Christians during the time of the early church, Paul became a strong believer in Jesus on the road to Damascus after a brief encounter with God that left him temporarily blind for three days (Acts 9). Paul eventually went on to become the most influential voice – after Jesus Himself, in the history of the church. Paul’s transformation convinced him that the crucified Galilean was indeed the Messiah and the Son of God, and whose message was not just for the Jews but the Gentiles also. Paul became known as “The Pillar of Strength” and went on to author 13 books in the New Testament (14 if you include the book of Hebrews). Paul had definitely mastered the art of strengthening and encouraging the brethren and making believers out of unbelievers. The book of Acts is filled with examples of Paul strengthening and encouraging his fellow Christians. However, one of my favorite examples is in Acts chapter 14 where Paul and Barnabas were preaching the gospel in Lystra, Derbe, Lycaonia and the surrounding region. While in Lystra, Paul completely healed a man in front of the multitudes who had been crippled since birth. Because of this and the powerful gospel message that was given by Paul and Barnabas, they could hardly restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them, so the Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there and persuaded the multitudes to stone Paul and drag him out of the city, believing him to be dead. However, after the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and continued on to Derbe to continue his mission for God. Wow ! What really impresses me is that he then “walked” 60 miles (20 miles a day for 3 days) just to return to Lystra, the very city where he was stoned and left for dead, to strengthen the disciples there – encouraging them to continue in their faith, saying “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
#3) Barnabas – Son of Encouragement
Barnabas was a member of the tribe of Levi who perhaps even served in the temple. He and his family were from the island of Cyprus and his cousin was John Mark (who wrote the book of Mark). According to Acts 4:36 his nickname was “Son of Encouragement.” He was a man of deep conviction. A man who was not afraid to stand by God’s people in times of persecution. He did everything he could to see that God’s church flourished. He was definitely the kind of guy you wanted around while serving the Lord, especially if you were a new believer. Barnabas had a list of reasons why he was held so highly among the brethren.
Acts 9:26-31 tells us that Barnabas was the first person of influence and responsibility to extend his hospitality to the infamous Saul of Tarsus (Paul) whom the disciples only knew as a persecutor and murderer of the saints. Barnabas used his gift of encouragement to persuade the disciples in Jerusalem to receive Paul – telling them of Paul’s miraculous conversion and how he preached with power in Damascus. Acts 13:46 tells us that “many of the Jews and devout Proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” You see, knowing the grace of God is not enough, you have to follow Him continually.
#4) Apollos – Minister of God
Apollos was another walking example of biblical encouragement. He was a Jewish convert from Alexandria, Egypt. The New Testament introduces him as an elegant man, who was well-versed in the Scriptures. He was a very articulate and effective early Christian preacher, missionary and debater. Although he only knew the baptism of John (Acts 18:25) , in his travels he greatly helped the believers by vigorously refuting the Jews in public debates, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 18:28). Have you ever been in a situation where you’re in a room full of people who are all questioning the Bible and its authenticity? Where they are hurling difficult questions at you in hopes to trip you up as the Scribes and Pharisees would often due to Jesus? Well, if you didn’t have Apollo’s with you, you would have to rely on the word of God hidden in your heart and remember Scriptures like Luke 12;12 where it says “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say,” and, Isaiah 40:29 where it says “He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might He increases strength.” Even the infamous apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6 gives credit to Apollos when he writes “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” You see, all we have to do is ask our Father in heaven for help by saying a little prayer like “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” (Psalm 22:19).
#5) Abigail – The Peacemaker
Well, I can’t speak of biblical encouragement without adding a female to this list. 1 Samuel 25 gives us the story of Abigail. She was the wife of a rich businessman by the name of Nabal, who was known for being harsh and evil. Even his name comes from the Hebrew word that means “foolish” or “senseless.” One day David sent 10 messengers to Nabal when he noticed him and his shepherds shearing their sheep. David’s messengers explained to Nabal that they had been protecting his herdsman and asked for provisions in exchange because they had run out of food. But Nabal, being the harsh and evil man that he was, not only refused but even screamed at them. Of course this deeply insulted David so he prepared 400 of his men to slaughter Nabal and his men. This is where Abigail comes in. When she found out her husband dishonored David and realized the danger they faced, she had to devise a plan to calm him. According to 1 Samuel 25:18, she prepared a feast of two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain (about 9 US quarts), one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, loaded them on donkeys and headed to meet David and his army. When Abigail arrived at the camp of David she dismounted her donkey and fell on her face before David. The bible describes Abigail as “intelligent”, “clever” or “of good understanding”. She was also said to be very beautiful and used her wealth, brains and anything else that it would take to save her family. This would be a great time to come up with some powerful words to encourage David to change his mind. And after some time that’s exactly what happened. Although the future King of Israel had sworn to seek vengeance against Nabal for being dishonored, he was deeply moved by Abigail’s words and seen that she was an honest and virtuous woman. David not only changed his mind but he vowed to protect her family as well. Although Abigail was able to save her family from bloodshed, her husband Nabal died 10 days later. The Scriptures tell us that “his heart died within him, and he became like a stone.”(1 Samuel 25:37-38) When David heard of his death he sent for Abigail to be his wife.
#6) Jonathan – A Friend in Need
Jonathan was the son of King Saul, who from the age of 30 reigned over Israel for 42 years. Although King Saul did not trust in the Lord, his son Jonathan did and was a close friend to David (future King of Israel). The bond between Jonathan and David was so great that 1 Samuel 18:1 says “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. ” I can’t say for certain that I’ve ever had a bond with a friend that was that close. It is so important to have loyal and supportive friends to help us through our difficult times. When Jonathan’s father King Saul heard that David would become his successor, he began a jealous rage and set out to kill David. We don’t know exactly how many years David was on the run but when you add up the times he likely spent in various places it seems that a safe guess would be approximately 8 years. During that time Jonathan was a friend of David who gave him strength and encouragement. The Bible says that every day Saul set out to kill David, but the faithful bond between him and Jonathan made all the difference in the world. When David was hiding in the woods fearing for his life 1 Samuel 23:16 says “then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.” Sometimes people end up in situations where they feel like they’re at the edge of a great fall and we need to be that Jonathan in their life.
#7) Hezekiah – King of Judah
Hezekiah was the son of King Ahaz who the Bible tells us was a notorious idolater. Hezekiah took the throne at the young age of 25 and rained for 29 years. When King Hezekiah was on the throne he repressed the Canaanite religion, campaigned against idolatry and began to centralize the worship of Yahweh in Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah helped encourage King Hezekiah in the removing of idolatrous elements from worship, cleansing and sanctifying the temple and restoring temple duties to the Levites. In 2 Chronicles 32, when Hezekiah realized that Jerusalem was facing an attack, he gathered his men together and encourage them by saying “be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are just men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us! These words greatly encouraged the people.” The book of Matthew specifically mentions Hezekiah as being in the genealogy of Jesus. The name Hezekiah means “Yahweh is my strength.”
One of the ways that we as Christians can show God that we love Him is to strengthen and encourage each other as we fight the battle against our enemy. Below is a poem I have written. It’s called “Together in the Battle.”
Together in the battle
with our armor and our sword,
we stand against the enemy
as soldiers of the Lord.
But our adversary Satan
has an army of his own,
all roaming to and fro
through this earth they have enthroned.
Prowling like a lion
and seeking to devour,
the devil will stop at nothing
until his final hour.
To rob our souls from Jesus
is the plan he does foresee,
but as long as we resist him
the Bible says he’ll flee.
But iron sharpens iron
so we’ll battle if we must,
from the refuge of our fortress
with the God in whom we trust.
If we hold our faith in Jesus
and from His word we never stray,
no weapons formed against us
will prosper anyway.
So we’ll strengthen one another
with the Word of God we know,
and “Together in the Battle”
we’ll defeat our evil foe.
By Dale Coolbaugh