Encouragement + Spiritual Disciplines: You Do the Math – A Sermon for the October Encourager’s Devotional Series

This month’s installment of The Encourager’s Devotional Series looked ahead to Thanksgiving and focused on blessing others out of the abundance of what God has given us. Next month we’ll look at how we can maintain thankfulness and generosity even when we are struggling financially or in other ways. This sermon leads us into next month’s theme.

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Encourager’s Devotional Series – October Bible Study Answer Guide

This is the answer guide for the Bible study corresponding to the October devotion in the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information

According to 2 Corinthians 9:2, Paul was writing to Christians “in Achaia.”

In Paul’s time, Greece was governed by the Romans and divided into two provinces, Achaia and Macedonia. Corinth was the capital of Achaia.

Paul starts 2 Corinthians 9:1 by mentioning “this service to the saints.” According to Romans 15:25-27, what was “this service”?

It was an offering being collected for the “poor among the saints in Jerusalem.”

Also from Romans 15:25-27, answer the following questions:

Were the Christians in Achaia and Macedonia Jewish or Gentile?  Gentile

Were the recipients of the offering Jewish or Gentile?  Jewish

What type of blessing had the Jewish believers bestowed upon the Gentile believers, spiritual or material?  Spiritual

Were the Gentile Christians repaying their Jewish brethren with spiritual or material blessings?  Material (in the offering they were collecting)

Meditation

Go back through the main part of the devotion (the image), reading the notes in the margins beside the text. Make note of any thoughts or any verses that stir your heart and tell why.

Make a list of things for which you are thankful. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for these blessings.

Application

You might send a “Thank You” card or note to someone you feel particularly thankful to have in your life.

You might use the things you wrote down in the meditation section, things for which you are thankful, to help you brainstorm ideas for how you might encourage someone less fortunate in that area. Examples in this month’s devotion (under the heading “Suggestions for planning encouragement projects this coming holiday season”) included:

Start by cultivating a heart of thanksgiving. Take some time to write down the things for which you are thankful. Then, while you are feeling grateful for your abundance, actually plan how you will give to encourage someone less fortunate. For example …

  • Thankful for your children? Contact a children’s home to see how you could be of service. Getting your own children involved is also a great way to teach them to become ministers of encouragement.
  • Thankful for your husband? See if a shelter for battered women needs assistance.
  • Thankful for the ability to provide food and shelter for your family? Volunteer at a homeless shelter or give to a food pantry.

Write down any ideas for “planned giving” that you might want to pursue this holiday season. Remember that your giving may be in the material realm, but it might also be in service or in the spiritual realm (for example, teaching, mentoring, or prayer).

Dedication

What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion? I am hoping your heart has been stirred to plan some generous giving projects for this holiday season.

 

Please tell me something good a Christian has done for you.

Tonight I am tired. I am tired of Christians bashing fellow Christians. I understand we have differences. And I believe we need to have difficult discussions sometimes in order to hold each other accountable. I believe in the process of “iron sharpening iron.” And I believe in exposing any sin that manifests itself amongst us (for we all sin).

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (ESV)

What I am tired of, though, is how it seems like many Christians cannot approach their disagreements without making each other the enemy. I am tired of the fact that this makes me feel cynical. I am very tired of seeing these things play out in a way that makes younger Christians I’m trying to mentor become cynical. And I’m tired of the poor taste this leaves in the mouths of non-Christians – not just towards Christians, but towards our Christ.

Much more could be said on this matter. Perhaps I should write a Bible study in the future. But for tonight, I’m just too tired.

As I was driving home from work tonight, feeling cynical and discouraged, I had to correct my self-talk. I had to remind myself that there are MANY good Christian people out there who are doing loving things for people.

In an environment filled with people pointing out others’ wrongs, can we take a minute to point out some of the good we see fellow Christians doing? PLEASE, post your positive examples here for all to see as I’m sure there are others like me who need to be reminded.

Encourager’s Devotional Series – October Bible Study

This Bible study corresponds to the October devotion in the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information

According to 2 Corinthians 9:2, Paul was writing to Christians “in _______________.”

In Paul’s time, Greece was governed by the Romans and divided into two provinces, Achaia and Macedonia. Corinth was the capital of Achaia.

Paul starts 2 Corinthians 9:1 by mentioning “this service to the saints.” According to Romans 15:25-27, what was “this service”?

Also from Romans 15:25-27, answer the following questions:

Were the Christians in Achaia and Macedonia Jewish or Gentile?

Were the recipients of the offering Jewish or Gentile?

What type of blessing had the Jewish believers bestowed upon the Gentile believers, spiritual or material?

Were the Gentile Christians repaying their Jewish brethren with spiritual or material blessings? 

Meditation

Go back through the main part of the devotion (the image), reading the notes in the margins beside the text. Make note of any thoughts or any verses that stir your heart and tell why.

Make a list of things for which you are thankful. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for these blessings.

Application

You might send a “Thank You” card or note to someone you feel particularly thankful to have in your life.

You might use the things you wrote down in the meditation section, things for which you are thankful, to help you brainstorm ideas for how you might encourage someone less fortunate in that area. You can find examples in this month’s devotion under the heading “Suggestions for planning encouragement projects this coming holiday season.”

Write down any ideas for “planned giving” that you might want to pursue this holiday season. Remember that your giving may be in the material realm, but it might also be in service or in the spiritual realm (for example, teaching, mentoring, or prayer).

Dedication

What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion? I am hoping your heart has been stirred to plan some generous giving projects for this holiday season.

Looking Ahead to Thanksgiving – October Encourager’s Devotion

In 2 Corinthians 7-9, Paul encouraged the Christians in Corinth to contribute to an offering he was collecting for the poor in Jerusalem. To spark their generosity, he reminded them that they had been made “rich in every way” so they could be “generous on every occasion.” This month’s installment of The Encourager’s Devotional Series looks ahead to Thanksgiving and focuses on blessing others out of the abundance of what God has given us. You may not always feel rich, but when you compare your blessings (both material and spiritual) to those less fortunate, you should be able to become the cheerful giver God loves.

To read this month’s devotion, click on the image below to see it full screen. Before reading it though, take a moment to write down three things you are thankful for so you can keep them in mind as you continue.

Background design is the property of Geetesh Bajaj. Used with permission. © Geetesh Bajaj. All Rights Reserved.

Background design is the property of Geetesh Bajaj. Used with permission. © Geetesh Bajaj. All Rights Reserved. If you would like a printer friendly version of the image in grayscale, email me at pullupachairwithlisa@gmail.com

Suggestions for planning encouragement projects this coming holiday season:

Start by cultivating a heart of thanksgiving. Take some time to write down the things for which you are thankful. Then, while you are feeling grateful for your abundance, actually plan how you will give to encourage someone less fortunate. For example …

  • Thankful for your children? Contact a children’s home to see how you could be of service. Getting your own children involved is also a great way to teach them to become ministers of encouragement.
  • Thankful for your husband? See if a shelter for battered women needs assistance.
  • Thankful for the ability to provide food and shelter for your family? Volunteer at a homeless shelter or give to a food pantry.

In what ways do you feel blessed? How can that translate into generosity?