Encouraging Words

Last week I started teaching an international women’s group over the internet. I thought my notes from our lessons might be helpful to others, especially to international students of the Bible. Here are my notes from last Saturday. I chose to use the New Living Translation, rather than the English Standard Version like I usually use, because NLT is easier for those who are learning English as a second language. Feel free to share them or send me a private message!

Today I want to talk with you about encouraging words. Speaking encouraging words is something I would like to see within this women’s group, as well as in our homes, schools, communities, churches and jobs.

Ephesians 4:29b NLT,
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

 以 弗 所 書 4:29b  “却要适当地说造就人的好话,使听见的人得益处。”

Let’s work together on saying this Bible verse.

First, I want you to listen carefully while I say it.

  • Pay attention to how my voice rises and falls and how I put words together into phrases.
  • See how my hands and my voice tone help you to understand the meaning of the verse. Using hand motions and stressing words will help you to remember and understand the meaning of the verse.

Next, we will say this verse together.

Then, I will give each person a chance to try saying it by themselves.

Ephesians 4:29  “Let everything you say …. be good and helpful… so that
your words will be an encouragement …. to those who hear them.”

Now, let’s talk about the word ENCOURAGE. The word encourage comes from en + COURAGE…
“en” – to cause to have” + COURAGE!

In Matthew 14, we read about some of Jesus’s disciples who were on a boat in the middle of the night. There was a terrible storm, and the men were afraid. They were “terrified.” They were so scared because they were sitting in their boat far away from land in the middle of heavy waves in a storm.

Then, at 3 o’clock in the morning, Jesus walked out to them! When they saw Jesus walking on the water, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 

“Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Matthew 14:27

耶稣立刻对他们说:“放心吧!是我,不要怕。”  马太福音 14:27 CNVS

Let’s try saying that verse now. First, I will say it by myself. Pay attention to my voice pattern and pronunciation.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

Now, let’s try it together:

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

I’d like to give everyone who hasn’t spoken yet a chance to try it first.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

What do you think, “Take courage” means? Courage doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. Feeling afraid, feeling fear is a normal emotion that comes into your heart when you are facing a scary situation.

When you have courage, you are choosing to take heart, to overcome fear. Courage is choosing to do what is right, even when you feel afraid. Courage is choosing to say or do what you should even, when it’s scary.

Riding a chairlift
to the top of the Great Wall

Last year, my husband and I visited China for the first time. We stayed with a Chinese family that we had never met before. My husband and I don’t speak Chinese. It was scary to go to an unknown land, but God gave me courage through the Words of Scripture. I remembered when God called Abram to go to an unknown land. God promised that He would be with Abram and show him where to go.

While we were in China, we visited the Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu. Our friends got tickets for all of us to ride on a chair lift up to the Wall. I was so scared! I didn’t want to do it. My stomach was upset, and my hands were sweating, but my Chinese sister encouraged me with a sweet smile and kind words.

We, too, can help our friends, our husband and our children to have courage. We can help our coworkers and our students and even people we don’t know. We can help them by speaking encouraging words, by en-courage-ing them!

We can speak kind words, uplifting words, true words. We can remind them that God is WITH them, like Jesus said, “I am HERE!” We can remind them of God’s power and goodness. We can remind them that God has a special purpose for them.

I want this women’s group to encourage each other. We want to speak words of love, truth and kindness. We don’t want to cause others to fear, to discourage others!

Just as ENCOURAGE means to “give courage,” “to cause to take heart,” DISCOURAGE  (dis+courage)  means to “take away courage,” “to cause to lose heart!” Our words can either encourage others, or discourage others.

Don’t discourage anyone
who is making progress,
no matter how slow.

When I was a new believer in Jesus, I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I didn’t know that the book of John was in the Bible. I didn’t know who Paul or Peter were. I didn’t know how to look for a verse in the Bible using chapter and verse numbers.

My mother-in-law encouraged me. She helped me and was patient with me. Her encouraging words gave me courage to learn and study, rather than discouraging me by pointing out how little I knew.

We are all climbing English Mountain together. Some of us can speak and read English very well, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can all help each other to climb to the next peak. You can help the person who is farther down on the mountain.

We are also all climbing Bible Mountain together. Some of us have lots of Bible knowledge, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can also help each other to climb to the next peak. We can all help someone to climb to the next peak.

We can’t use a “chairlift” to reach the top of English Mountain or Bible Mountain. We all need to climb step by step, so let’s encourage one another as we do!

For more learning about encouragement, here are some Bible passages to read:

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25

“And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
Romans 15:4-7

2 Chronicles 30 is a great example of how the Lord encouraged the Israelites through Hezekiah’s encouragement.

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