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Encouragement the humble gift

Each morning a few of us gather for study and prayer. Lately we have been taking a look at the Epistle to the Philippians. This week our conversation turned to how encouraged Paul was by the church there and how encouraging he was in return!

We see discouragement every day on our streets and we too often feel it in our hearts. Discouragement, I believe, is a chief enemy of spiritual health and missional living.

Years ago when I was a member of Anglican Renewal Ministries I used to have groups do a “Spiritual Gifts Inventory”. The participants would answer a series of questions that would reveal their ‘gifting’. I remember people crossing their fingers before the results were revealed. They wanted to have prophetic or apostolic gifts. They wanted to know that they had great gifts; gifts of leadership! Some were disappointed to learn they had strong gifts for humble service or of encouragement.

Not long ago I took an ‘APEPT’ test. This is a test to measure your relative strengths in the areas: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Quite predictably I came out quite strongly in the evangelist category. I do admit to a bit of disappointment with my relatively low score in the apostolic category.

Paul encourages us (note that word) to desire the higher gifts on at least one occasion but his whole collection of writings are replete with exhortations to encourage one another and in fact that is often his motivation in writing.

In our discussion we realized, afresh, the importance of ‘encouragement’ as a means of bringing hope to our streets. We have committed to praying for a release of this gift, more and more, in our midst and we have committed to the practice of encouragement as we walk the streets of Saint John. In our battle for hope encouragement is a chief weapon. The glory of Godly encouragement is that it is a mighty weapon and it is absolutely without price, to us! After all, Jesus has paid for us all.

On a personal note, our daughter was married on Saturday. It was a joyful occasion full of polka dots. If you’d like to see pictures you can visit www.greattakes.blogspot.com and look at Mike & Judith’s wedding pictures. You may see one proud and happy father!

I wish you enough.

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