Encouragement

Steve Arterburn

Discouragement will drain your energy, especially when you face trials. That’s why, it’s very helpful to spend time with people who know how to encourage. Some people know just what to do or say to remind you that life is worthwhile, even in the midst of pain and failure. They know how to inspire when there seems to be nothing to hope for. Barnabas, an early follower of Jesus whose name means ‘son of encouragement,’ was just that kind of guy.

Barnabas’s gift of encouragement was demonstrated through his financial generosity, his leadership, and his teaching of new believers. He accepted the apostle Paul when others were afraid of him. And it’s probably accurate to say that Barnabas changed the course of church history by persevering in his encouragement to John Mark.

On his first missionary journey John Mark abandoned his friends. Barnabas was willing to give him a second chance. Paul wouldn’t hear of it. But with Barnabas’s encouragement, Mark became faithful in his missionary ministry and was able to renew Paul’s respect and friendship. Later he would write the Gospel of Mark.

Are you feeling discouraged? God’s forgiveness offers you the chance for a new start. Persevere. God is a God of second chances. And in time, you’like Barnabas’will have the privilege of encouraging others along the way.

Restoring Broken Relationships

Steve Arterburn

We all suffer from broken relationships’with God and with others. This brokenness will weigh you down spiritually unless you take steps to mend it. And God wants to heal the brokenness and he wants you to participate by forgiving and seeking forgiveness for yourself.

God’s ultimate plan for you and our world involves healing. In the Bible, the apostle John saw a vision of a new heaven and a new earth, in which this healing would be complete.

Although we know that God will heal all things when he returns to rule, until then we need to take steps toward mending the brokenness. Giving and receiving forgiveness is a must when it comes to spiritual healing. In doing so you will make peace with God, with yourself, and with those you’ve alienated.

Who do you owe an apology to? Who do you need to forgive? Just remember, God has placed one condition on our receiving His forgiveness’that we forgive others. It’s a serious thing. Just remember, we don’t earn forgiveness, and we shouldn’t expect others to earn ours.

Forgiving Ourselves

Steve Arterburn

For most of the wrongs you’ve done, you’re probably grateful and eager to accept God’s forgiveness. But sometimes we’re so shocked or ashamed or heartbroken over what we’ve done that we find it hard to believe that God could really forgive us. Yet God does forgive and he desires to restore you. He wants to redirect the course of your life for his service. But this can’t begin until you receive God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself.

Peter had once sworn his love for Jesus. He pledged even to die with Jesus if necessary. Yet that same night after Jesus was arrested, Peter sheepishly denied that he even knew Jesus. Jesus wasn’t surprised; he had already told Peter that Peter would deny knowing him three times. Jesus was ready to forgive Peter before he even betrayed Jesus. But Peter had a hard time forgiving himself.

After Jesus rose from the dead he asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. Peter had denied him three times and so Jesus gave him the chance to reaffirm his love three times. Jesus reached out to Peter.

When you’re disheartened by the things you’ve done, it can be difficult to receive God’s forgiveness. But God reaches out to us. Once you confess your sins, you need to let go of them. Find encouragement through the story of Peter. Once he accepted forgiveness, God was able to build him up and use him for His great purposes.