This weekend we heard about what it means to encourage people, especially during difficult circumstances—of course, this may lead us to places that are not familiar and comfortable. This is especially true when the chaos of life unexpectedly hits us, and we may be tempted to pull away from one another.
What works best for you when someone is trying to cheer you on?
WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO HEAR?
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
On his mission trips, the Apostle Paul put a lot of energy into encouraging fellow believers.
What do you think Paul focused on to encourage these early believers?
What words of encouragement might Paul have for believers today?
What does encouraging fellow believers look like to you, especially during times of distress?
What is your ‘love language’ when it comes to encouragement?
What most encourages you?
Going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 20:13-16)
Clearly, Paul isn’t traveling alone. Though it would be much easier for Paul to travel by himself, he chose to involve fellow believers in his travels and used them to pave the way and arrange travel plans. The ESV Study Bible states that the people mentioned in verse 4 are official representatives from the churches accompanying him in transporting the “collection for the saints” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.
Why is it important to Paul that he shows himself to be publicly accountable, even though privately he considers himself to be a reliable guy?
Some people have a tendency to want to do things all on our own, even when a group would sometimes be better. What other services would a large traveling party provide other than just accountability, especially if money was involved?
Do you think that it’s important to engage with other believers outside your “home church”? Why or why not?
WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO DO?
What might get in the way of you encouraging your fellow believers as you go about your week?
Paul both writes letters to the believers and visits in-person when he’s able. How do you encourage fellow believers outside of merely texting or messaging them on social media?
Do you think needing encouragement makes you look like a weak or ineffectual/struggling Christian? How do you overcome this mindset and ask for encouragement when you need it?
What’s might be holding you back from relying on others for help when you need it?
How are you working with other believers to hold yourself accountable in your spiritual life? If you’re not, what is getting in the way of you opening up to fellow believers about your struggles?
Why is it important that one of your accountability partners be someone other than your spouse or immediate family members?
Why might it be important to have an accountability partner of the same gender?
What might be some of the benefits of engaging with other Christians outside of your “home church”? What might this look like?
WHAT DOES GOD WANT ME TO DO?
Find a way to encourage a fellow believer this week outside of just calling or messaging them, in a way that doesn’t make them feel like a failure or weak for needing help. This is especially important during times of grieving.
Think of a way you’ve been stressed lately and ask someone for help with a task that you probably could do alone (but maybe shouldn’t for your mental health).
If you haven’t already, find a fellow believer (of the same gender) to hold you spiritually accountable and discuss your struggles with. If you have one already, make an effort to meet up with that person on a regular basis.
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