Spiritual Mothers, Baby Feet, and Encouragement

Pull Up a Chair

This is something I posted last year for Mother’s Day. I’m reposting again as part of this month’s Encourager’s Devotional Series because it was part of the original work I did on the series. I expanded it for this month’s devotion on Spiritual Parenting, but had things in the original that were omitted. It also explains the story behind this month’s thoughts.

Spiritual Mothers, Baby Feet, and Encouragement

“Baby feet have got to be the sweetest things God ever created,” I found myself thinking as I was putting my daycare toddlers down to nap. With my own children being teens, I had forgotten how very much I love baby feet. This daycare job had turned out to be a surprisingly interesting and rewarding experience for me. I say it was a surprise because, when I was first offered the job, I cried – it was the last thing I wanted to do at that point…

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Encourager’s Devotional Series – May Bible Study Answer Guide

This Bible study is a companion to the May Encourager’s Devotion: In Search of Spiritual Mothers and Fathers. For additional studies in the Encourager’s Devotional Series, click here.

Information:

For information on Timothy and the relationship between Timothy and Paul, see the following passages. Make notes on Timothy’s background, Paul’s expectations of Timothy, things Paul did for Timothy, and signs that Timothy was growing in the faith as a result of Paul’s influence. You might also think about how Paul’s investment in Timothy’s life brought rewards to Paul’s life as well.

2 Timothy 1:2-14

  • Paul prayed for Timothy daily.
  • Timothy’s mother and grandmother were believers.
  • Paul reminded Timothy to use his gifts and remember his calling.
  • Paul reminded Timothy that living a holy life is important.
  • Paul reminded Timothy of sound teaching and encouraged him to live by it.

Acts 16:1-5

  • Timothy’s father was not a believer.
  • Paul took Timothy with him on his missionary journey. This gave Timothy opportunity to develop his ministry skills, and also brought much joy to Paul as he watched his son in the faith grow into maturity.

Philippians 2:19-23

  • Paul praised Timothy and gave him his endorsement as he went out to the churches.
  • Paul sent Timothy out to minister to others and served as his “job coach.”

In the book Groups: The Life-giving Power of Community, authors Ortburg, Pederson, and Poling list some of the “forms that encouragement takes.”[1] Read the texts related to their list and make any notes that come to mind as you read. Also, as you read, if anyone comes to mind as needing any particular form of encouragement, write their names down in the space provided in the “Application” section.

*To believe in someone, to see their giftedness and ability to contribute:

1 Timothy 4:12-15

  • Paul calmed any fears Timothy may have had about being so young while in ministry.
  • Paul set high standards for Timothy, with confidence that Timothy could meet them.
  • Paul again reminded Timothy to be diligent, to watch his lifestyle, to be devoted to God’s word, and to persevere.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

  • Paul encouraged Timothy to not be timid and to utilize the gifts God had given him.

*To exhort someone, to build their character by confronting them even when it may involve saying hard things:

2 Timothy 4:2

  • Paul told Timothy to encourage God’s people, but also to correct or rebuke them when needed.
  • Paul instructed Timothy to do this with great patience and careful instruction.

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Help The Rock Christian Radio Expand Its Reach

In the post “Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos”, I shared a story about how Christian radio helped my father when he was battling cancer. And in the March wrap-up post for The Encourager’s Devotional Series, one of the suggestions for ways to encourage others was to support Christian radio. I’ve just learned that The Rock (a St. Louis based, internet radio station) is trying to expand its reach by creating an app with many great features to help connect Christians and offer faith building materials. It’s an interesting project and the people behind it are great people, so I thought I’d support their cause here.

For more information, or to discover ways you can support this project, click here.

Encourager’s Devotional Series – May Bible Study

This Bible study is a companion to the May Encourager’s Devotion: In Search of Spiritual Mothers and Fathers. For additional studies in the Encourager’s Devotional Series, click here. Answers to this study can be found here.

Information:

For information on Timothy and the relationship between Timothy and Paul, see the following passages. Make notes on Timothy’s background, Paul’s expectations of Timothy, things Paul did for Timothy, and signs that Timothy was growing in the faith as a result of Paul’s influence. You might also think about how Paul’s investment in Timothy’s life brought rewards to Paul’s life as well.

2 Timothy 1:2-14

Acts 16:1-5

Philippians 2:19-23

In the book Groups: The Life-giving Power of Community, authors Ortburg, Pederson, and Poling list some of the “forms that encouragement takes.”[1] Read the texts related to their list and make any notes that come to mind as you read. Also, if anyone comes to mind as needing any particular form of encouragement, write their names down in the space provided in the “Application” section.

*To believe in someone, to see their giftedness and ability to contribute:

1 Timothy 4:12-15

2 Timothy 1:6-7 

*To exhort someone, to build their character by confronting them even when it may involve saying hard things Continue reading

In Search of Spiritual Mothers and Fathers – May Encourager’s Devotion

 

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Paul to his “children in the faith”

To read my personal story behind this month’s devotion, see this previous post.

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day quickly approaching, many are planning family events and special church services. As we saw in last month’s Encourager’s Devotion it is good to praise those who are doing well by telling them specifically how they have been good role models. So, it is fitting to recognize those who are great examples of parenting.

It is also important, however, to remember that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be difficult for many people. Those who have lost their parents, or the mother or father of their children, may experience a resurrgence of grief. People who do not come from healthy homes might also find it hard to celebrate these occassions. For some, the fact that they long to be parents but cannot brings sadness. For these reasons and more, I know several people who actually avoid going to church on such days.

The body of Christ, and especially those being intentional about building a ministry of encouragement, are called to be aware of such needs even in the midst of our festivities. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …”

Last month, the devotional challenge was to think of someone you could shower with encouragement, really pour it on for the month. This time around, I urge you to consider taking your commitment a step further and pray about being an ongoing, spiritual parent to someone.

The Apostle Paul is an example of this commitment in Scripture. He had no children of his own, but he was a spiritual parent to Timothy. While Timothy had a strong Christian mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5), his father was not a believer (Acts 16:1). Paul filled that void for him. In the opening of both letters to Timothy, Paul calls him his “son in the faith.” And in Philippians 2:19-22, Paul said Timothy served with him “as a son with his father.”

There are so many ways one might apply the idea of parenting in a ministry of encouragement. As you think of the role of spiritual parenting, consider what a child needs to learn and grow:

  • Some are just learning to walk. Do you know anyone that’s a “babe in Christ” and needs to know how to walk in the faith? Can you share the things that have helped you?
  • Children must be taught how to get along with others. Do you know anyone being tested in this area? Do you have any life lessons you can impart to them?
  • At all phases of life, our children are learning how to do new things. At various points they need job coaches, financial advisors, and teachers. What areas of expertise do you have that might be beneficial to a fellow believer?

In the book Groups: The Life-giving Power of Community, authors Ortburg, Pederson, and Poling list some of the “forms that encouragement takes.”[1]

  • To believe in someone, to see their giftedness and ability to contribute. (1 Tim. 4:12-15; 2 Tim. 1:6-7) 
  • To exhort someone, to build their character by confronting them even when it may involve saying hard things. (2 Tim. 4:2; 2 Thess. 3:11-13) 

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