In our Bible reading for today, Acts 23:1-11, we read that Jesus stands by the side of the apostle Paul in his prison cell and says, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” Wow! Jesus is the great ENCOURAGER.
Steven Cole, in a sermon, “THE LORD WHO ENCOURAGES” states:
“Take courage!” Six out of seven uses of this verb in the New Testament are on the lips of Jesus.
- To a paralytic, lying on his bed, Jesus said, “Take courage, My son, your sins are forgiven” (Matt. 9:2).
- To the woman with the hemorrhage who touched the fringe of Jesus’ coat, He said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has saved you” (Matt. 9:22, lit.).
- To the disciples, who thought that Jesus walking on the water was a ghost, He said, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matt. 14:27; parallel, Mark 6:50).
- To the disciples on the night He was betrayed, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- The only other usage was when the bystanders told blind Bartimaeus, “Take courage, arise! He is calling for you” (Mark 10:49).
Truly, Jesus is the Lord who encourages those who are discouraged and without any other hope!
But note that it’s a command. It’s a gentle and gracious command, but it is a command. That implies that we can choose to obey it or disobey it. We disobey it when we stubbornly refuse the help that He sends us through the promises of His Word or through a fellow believer who tries to encourage us. We obey it when we say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your faithful love,” and trust His Word. Thus the main way that the Lord encourages us is with His presence in our difficult circumstances.
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