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.


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.

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) 

Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – January Bible Study Answer Guide

Click here to view accompanying materials (original devotional, study guide and general introduction).

If you would like a leader’s guide to facilitate this study with a group of friends, feel free to email me at pullupachairwithlisa@gmail.com. The leader’s guide contains suggestions for ice-breakers, activities you can lead with a group, as well as additional teaching material.



Why was Paul in prison? 2 Timothy 1:11-12; 2:9

Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel.

How do Galatians 6:8-10 and Matthew 5:10-12 advise us to respond when we are persecuted for doing good?

They encourage us to keep on doing good and not lose heart.

How do these Scriptures bring encouragement?

They help us remember:

  • You will reap a harvest if you do not grow weary.
  • The kingdom of heaven is yours and your reward in heaven is great.
  • You are in good company (with the prophets before you).

In 2 Timothy 4:14,15 Paul has two responses to those who hurt him. What are his responses and how are they different? Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – January Bible Study

If you haven’t already read the January Encourager’s Devotional, you might want to check that out before proceeding to the Bible study below. And if you need to get caught up on the details of how this series works, see the introductory post.

Note, the Bible study format will always have four sections:

  • Information – This section may include additional reading, further thoughts on the month’s texts, background information and Bible study questions.
  • Meditation – Here you’ll find things to prompt personal reflection and thoughts on how the devotion may be speaking to you.
  • Application – This is where we’ll brainstorm together to stimulate ideas for possible follow-up responses to this month’s devotion. We’ll consider activities you may want to do, jot down the names of people who come to mind as you’re reading, and note personal promptings you may want to act on after contemplation and prayer. Many options should be considered even though you may not act on all of them.
  • Dedication – In this section you’ll be challenged to write down (either in the comments section following the blog, or in your own notes) things you want to commit to doing for this month or in months ahead. The list may contain both individual and group project ideas. I hope you choose to share your commitments here or with a friend or two to increase accountability for follow-through. If you choose to note them here, I’ll personally check in on you later and try to “spur you on toward the love and good deeds” you’re hoping to undertake.



Why was Paul in prison? 2 Timothy 1:11-12; 2:9 (Note: I’m providing one link here to the book of 2 Timothy so you can scroll through the book for other references. For all other Scripture references, I’ll link to those specific texts).

How do Galatians 6:8-10 and Matthew 5:10-12 advise us to respond when we are persecuted for doing good? How do these Scriptures bring encouragement?

In 2 Timothy 4:14,15 Paul has two responses to those who hurt him. What are his responses and how are they different? Continue reading

Hearing the Plea from Those Who Need Encouragement – January Encourager’s Devotion


Paul to Timothy

Paul to Timothy (NKJV)

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 Welcome to The Encourager’s Devotional Series. I’m so glad you took the time to see what it’s all about. Before we dive into the devotion, here are a few notes about this devotional series:

Since this is the first post in a series that will continue throughout 2015, you may want to take a look at the introduction to the series (if you haven’t already) for information regarding the schedule for posting and what you can expect in the weeks to come.

Throughout the devotions, I will present many ideas on how you may apply what you’re learning to minister encouragement to others. I pray you will see the suggestions not as a list of “to do’s” (who needs any more of those?!), but as “prompts.” Let the Spirit stimulate your thinking, but don’t let it stop with just thinking. As you read, make note of anyone who comes to mind. Then, “be diligent” and “make every effort” to minister to someone with encouraging words and deeds.

For this first devotion, it may help to get out your Bible and turn to 2 Timothy. All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted. You might want to read the whole book (it’s a short one) before you read the devotion. Or, you may just choose to have it open for reference during your devotional time. Either way, I hope you enjoy the devotion!


The Apostle Paul’s writings are so uplifting I don’t often think of him as someone who needed encouragement himself. Although, it does make sense. After all, he was often beaten, imprisoned, and bad-mouthed – both by unbelievers and by those who claimed to be of the faith. So, let’s look at Paul first as the encourager in order to gain insight as to how we might also be effective at this ministry even when we are experiencing hard times ourselves. Then we’ll look at Paul as the one in need of encouragement to help us recognize different ways others may need help.

The Encourager’s Perspective

In 2 Timothy, we find that Paul is near the end of his life. He is in prison, still facing opposition, and many of his friends have deserted him. After all he has done for the church, he seems to be concerned that some people are ashamed of him.

Yet, in the midst of all these trying things, Paul declared that the Lord was his sustainer and his deliverer. That Paul could stay so positive and focused on ministry during his own difficulties is something to consider as we seek to become encouragers. Paul did several things to maintain his ministry focus even when he himself was discouraged.

  • First, he reminded himself of the truth of the Gospel and the end result of the Christian life (2:9,11,12; 4:8; see also Rom. 8:18-39).
  • He also reminded himself of how God had helped him in the past (3:11).
  • He reviewed and showed thankfulness (1:16-18) for how others had blessed him in the past (reminding me of his words in Philippians 4:8).
  • And finally, he kept the needs of others in mind, even being willing to sacrifice himself for their sake (2:10).

Following these practices of Paul, we can keep ourselves encouraged, so we can then be uplifting to others. As Paul said, we should bring the Word to others and encourage them both “in season, and out of season” (4:2). In other words, we should do it even when our own conditions are less than favorable. Once we’ve geared ourselves up to become encouragers, we then need to become observant of those around us, intentionally looking to find people who need this ministry. As with Paul, someone people might not come to mind right away because they seem to have things in their lives under control. So we have to ask God to show us the real needs people have, sometimes despite their outward appearances.

Another Perspective: Paul’s Pleas for Help

Using Paul’s list of needs can prompt our thinking as to how we may help others this month.

  • Paul had an obvious physical need – he wanted a coat because it was soon to be cold (4:13,21). Can you help relieve someone’s winter worries by giving clothing, paying a heating bill, or running an errand for a shut-in? Is there a ministry in your area you might partner with to meet such needs?
  • Paul also had a spiritual need – to be reminded of the Christian’s ultimate victory as he struggled. Through cards, conversation or messaging, can you share the Word of God with someone to encourage them to persevere?
  • Then there are his emotional needs – Paul repeatedly expressed the desire for understanding and companionship (1:4; 4:9; 4:21). Notice how he appreciated that one friend actually went out of his way to be with him (1:16-18). Paul needed to know that he still had supporters, that not everyone was ashamed of him. Can you go out of your way to spend time with someone who’s lonely? Do you know someone who might feel a sense of shame for what they’re going through? Your companionship can help them feel accepted and loved.
  • And finally, Paul required help with his ministry (4:11). Can you come alongside someone to help in their ministry, even for one day or one task?

Remember, you don’t have to do everything that comes to mind as you contemplate the suggestions for ways to lift the spirits of others. But it is important to be diligent in seeking such opportunities. The world needs more encouragers.

Let’s do our utmost to go to those who need to be encouraged.

And, let’s hurry, before the cold becomes unbearable!

Next Wednesday, I’ll post the follow-up Bible study guide for this devotion. I hope you’ll continue to participate and let me know how you are finding ways to reach out to others who need to be refreshed.


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