Mutually encouraging each other in the faith.

Dennis was reminiscing about one of his mentors recently, recalling conversations, specific statements, and articulating how this man changed his perspective on life - and therefore, changed him!

And it made me wonder - does this man even KNOW he impacted my husband?  Does he know his words still run through his mind, challenging and encouraging him a decade later?  Does he know that Dennis now asks some of those same questions to the young men he disciples?  I imagine this mentor would be humbled and thrilled to know that he made a difference in the life of a young man ... a young man who is still walking with the Lord ... and is now taking the gifts he was so freely given, and sharing them with other young men who are struggling like he once did.

Do the people who invested in us, leaving a lasting mark on our lives know they have done so?
The only way they will know is if we TELL them!

We have to tell people why they matter!
~ meeting you for lunch to listen to your struggles as a new mom
~ holding you while you cried as you grieved the loss of a loved one
~ listening to your sorrows
~ serving you through acts of love - meals, babysitting, buying you a new outfit when you could not afford it
~ praying for you faithfully
~ sending you notes of encouragement
~ keeping you accountable to read and study the Word because you shared it was a struggle
~ remembering your birthday or the anniversary of a significant event

We do not need to tell them every time we see them, but a thoughtful note or meaningful gift a few times a year is always appreciated.  And needed.  Even your closest friend needs to be reminded why she matters to you.  She may 'know' you love her, but affirmation is a good thing - for all of us!

When we express our gratefulness for the way others have influenced our lives and pushed us towards Christ, they will be encouraged with the knowledge that the Lord used them to stir another up for love and good deeds - and He was glorified because of it.

God created words.  He has a purpose for them!  And when used the right way, they can bring untold joy to the hearer - and make a difference that can last a lifetime.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. 
Proverbs 16:24

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.  Proverbs 25:11

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.  
Proverbs 27:2

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.  Proverbs 12:25

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  
I Thessalonians 5:11

Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.  
Job 4:4

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!  Proverbs 15:23

My end of the year challenge to you is this:

Pray and ask the Lord to bring to mind every single person He has used to encourage you this past year.  I guarantee you will not have to wait long before your hand starts flying across the page writing out every name He brings forth!  And then, place the list somewhere you will see it every day, and write to/call/visit each person over this next year, to say Thank You.

Seeing 1,000 people pour into the seats for a memorial service is a great testimony of a life that influenced and touched the hearts and lives of others.  But singing the praises of someone beloved and adored at their graveside does them no good.  They need to hear from us today.

When you needed them - they ministered to you.  Even when you didn't know you needed that kind word, that kick in the backside, that intimate moment of prayer together ... they were obedient to meet you where God told them to meet you.  And you were changed.

And one day it will be your turn to minister to someone who is hurting, struggling, or sinning - just like you were - and the Lord will use YOU.

Take the challenge.  Ask the Lord to recall every kind word and action shown to you this past year.
And then act on it!

Because when you do, you will be living out one of the most beautiful and always-needed joys of the body of Christ ...

that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.  Romans 1:12

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