January 5, 2018

Where Seldom Is Heard a Discouraging Word

Romans 1:1–12

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Paul, a servant1 of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David2 according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Longing to Go to Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.


[1] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[2] 1:3 Or who came from the offspring of David

Where Seldom Is Heard a Discouraging Word

Central Truth

We have all experienced the lows and loneliness of trials in our lives. At those times, we know how valuable a hug or a word of affirmation can be as we face those challenges. God directs us to encourage those in our lives through our words, prayer, and actions.

Devotional | Romans 1:1–12

Paul had not met the Roman church before he wrote this letter, but he had heard of the challenges they faced, and he wanted to encourage them. Paul’s greeting highlights three things we can do to encourage one...

Paul had not met the Roman church before he wrote this letter, but he had heard of the challenges they faced, and he wanted to encourage them. Paul’s greeting highlights three things we can do to encourage one another daily: 1) recognize and celebrate when reliance on Christ gives others the strength to overcome troubles; 2) offer prayer and help for others when they face trials; and 3) use our gifts to be a blessing to others.

Can you think of folks who have been an encouragement to you over the years? Do you remember how it felt to be uplifted through their words? When I moved to Dallas seven years ago, I left my church and community back in Michigan. I did not find a new church community right away and soon focused on my career aspirations and goals instead of Christ.

As my career consumed me, God began putting Christians in my life. He knew I would need them. After a couple years of pursuing my image, God’s purpose for those Christians in my life became clear when I began to experience severe anxiety and panic attacks. Those friends were by my side offering help as I faced my fear of failure. They prayed for me and helped me connect with others at church. They urged me to seek recovery from the sin and idols in my life. Even after my recovery through Christ, they remind me of how I have been blessed through my story, spiritual gifts, interests, passions, and resources, and how I can be a blessing to others.

Often, we are too focused on ourselves and fail to see opportunities when friends or strangers could use a word of support or a hug. Most of us hear or feel very little encouragement in our lives, whether we are at work, home, or church. The Bible directs us to encourage one another daily, and yet we usually pass by opportunities. Words of appreciation, gratitude, and affirmation cost us nothing, but are often priceless to those who hear them. Who do you know that needs the priceless gift of encouragement today?

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Bio | Lindsay Sellers

Hi, all! My name is Lindsay, and today is my birthday. My husband, Todd, and I met two years ago at Watermark. He likes to say I stalked him; I like to call it a “creative set-up.” I co-lead groups in the children’s ministry and re:generation, Watermark’s 12-step biblical recovery program. I love to learn about the unique personality of each person I meet. My spiritual gifts are exhortation, leadership, and shepherding. For many of you, it was your New Year’s resolution to read Join The Journey each day this year. Congratulations! You just made it through your first week!

Discussion Questions

1. How do those in your church or community of believers demonstrate faith and obedience to Christ well? Do you see people using their gifts to love and support those around them? Reach out to one or two people today and share how you have seen them faithfully obeying God and sharing their gifts with others. Make it a goal to do that once a week this year.

2. Are there people in your life who could use affirmation while they face challenges? Take time today to pray for and offer help to them as they face these obstacles.

3. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? How about your passions, natural abilities, or resources (time, finances, influence)? How can you use these blessings to assist and encourage those in your life? Identify one or two ways you can use your blessings to bless others and ask others to hold you accountable to consistently use them this year.

4. Reflect on a time when you were encouraged by others during a challenging time. How did they support you? What ways or tactics did they use?

30 Comments available

Nicole Nehib 6 months ago

Happy Birthday Lindsay! You have been an encouragement to me personally, and I was reminded of several others reading this devo. I love what you said about gratitude and encouraging words not costing anything, but oh how valuable they are!!! Thank you for always reminding me bibical truth.

Andi Guevara 6 months ago

Yay made it through the 1st week! I’m encouraging myself lol Encouragment is plays a essential role in our walk with others. It’s so important to be able to give encouragement to someone who needs it. I went through some really dark times last year in my marriage, if it weren’t for the encouragement and truth spoken to me by CG and other believers, I don’t know where my marriage would be today. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Sara Alfaro 6 months ago

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! In the short time going to Watermark i have seen people of faith motivate us through the challenge’s of the everyday life my family and I try our best to reach out to the ones who are in need of encouragement that they need through God’s word

Burlon Leffall III 6 months ago

Q4. When I was in college, I once ran out of food and money.My doorbell rang and some girls from my church group had brought some groceries. They had no idea what difficult situation I was in. God blessed me with some sisters who gave.

Burlon Leffall III 6 months ago

Happy Birthday, Lindsay!

Colleen Park 6 months ago

Happy Bday!!! What a great way to wrap up our 1st week!!! Encouragement is so very necessary! This week has been rough and tough, so I needed some TLC! Met with a dear sweet friend who poured into me through scripture and her love for me. I’m truly blessed by her and how she has come along side of me and my husband.

Lyn Pollard 6 months ago

Adding to Sue’s thoughts, the standout for me so far in our study of Romans is “the obedience of faith.” The Lord has convicted me the last few months that I should obey Him not only because the Bible tells me to, or because I want to reap the harvest of obedience (as Sue avidly points out below), but I need to obey because I love Him. The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel that "to obey is better than sacrifice.” Yet I often forget that obedience is high on God’s agenda for me. John 14:15 also tells us that if we love God, "you will keep my commandments.” This love, I’m convinced, is born out of both knowing and trusing God. The more I get to know God and the more I trust Him each day through faith, the more I want to obey.

Dean Ruehle 6 months ago

I’m starting to understand ‘faith’ more each day. Especially that it’s not something I can conjure up myself, but that it is a gift from God to every believer. In fact, when we pray we should pray in the faith God gave to us. This gift of ‘faith’ grows as our relationship with Jesus deepens, as He reveals Himself and His Truth to us. So yes, when Paul uses the phrase ‘obedience of faith’, I get it. The more we seek Him, the more we find Him; and love Him and obey Him. Amen!

Abigail Voorhees 6 months ago

So true how words of encouragement do cost us nothing. What a good reminder! My husband and I lead for the first time in Merge this last summer and one of the speakers shared how when they tell their spouse “I love you” they try to remember to tell them why. Something in that moment they are doing or recently have done. “I love you because you lessened my load by emptying the dishwasher, because you’re hands on when playing with our kids, because you consistently get in the Word.” Anyways it’s been a practical encouragement to our marriage. Marriage can be hard so the practical helps… help!

Greg Jones 6 months ago

I love it when people refer to their life as their story. I telling my story before God every day. Some days are about failures, some days redemption, some days sorrows, other days victories and blessings. He is in our details when we are committing our stories to Him.

Dean Ruehle 6 months ago

Lindsay, thank you for the gift of your devotional. This seems backward since it’s your birthday, not mine. So here’s my gift to you…this was a beautifully written devotional, obviously from the heart of a devout christian sister. Your’re AWESOME!

Greg Jones 6 months ago

“they remind me of how I have been blessed through my story”

Georgia Littlejohn 6 months ago

I truly feel I have a spiritual gift and pray God will show me and I know He is leading me just not sure what direction to go. I pray a lot about it. I posted on FB the 3 questions and the final question from the devotional. My sister and daughter have blessed me w there gifts while I have had 2 surgeries in the past 6 weeks. I’m very thankful. I will find my spiritual gifts

Alma Barber 6 months ago

Having had countless shipwrecks in my life, I can say today that I am thankful for each one of them. Because of them, I’ve learned what I might not have otherwise; that God is faithful. That He is not a man who should lie. That His promises are true. Joy does come in the morning! It. Is. Written. There is not much we can count on in this world. But we can count on the faithfulness, unconditional love of God and His Word. Thankful for all his faithful servants who have helped me learn these truths. Philippians 4:11 James 1:2-4

Lisa Olsen 6 months ago

Thank you, Lindsay! It is amazing how an encouraging word or action lifts the spirit. Satan has a way of kicking us while we are down, but God is so good to use others to encourage us in some way or another, giving us strength to press on. I most definitely have received this in my life, and to be honest, I am not sure I would have survived if not. I certainly wouldn’t be reading the Word or this devo this morning.

Alma Barber 6 months ago

Having had countless shipwrecks in my life, I can say today that I am thankful for each one of them. Because of them, I’ve learned what I might not have otherwise; that God is faithful. That He is not a man who should lie. That His promises are true. Joy does come in the morning! It. Is. Written. There is not much we can count on in this world. But we can count on the faithfulness, unconditional love of God and His Word. Philippians 4:11 James 1:2-4

Sue Bohlin 6 months ago

Happy Birthday Lindsay! Thanks for sharing your story of grace with us. What jumped off the page at me in this section was the phrase “the obedience of faith.” I have a new appreciation of this because of an ongoing conversation with a friend. Her disobedience to God‘s ways and commands have just decimated her life and she is in intense pain because of it. Just this morning I got a text from her saying, “It seems I am paying dearly for my sin.” My heart hurts for her because if she had obeyed, she would’ve been protected from this severe “payment pain.” I now see at a greater degree than ever before God‘s goodness in calling us to obedience that, as we read repeatedly in Deuteronomy, “it may go well with us.“ The fruit of obedience is sweet and good.

Kim Busman 6 months ago

First of all, Happy Birthday! As your mom I have seen first hand how you have used your gifts of encouragment in our own family. I am encouraged by YOU almost daily (surely weekly) to turn to God’s word and seek His counsel in all things. Thank you for reminding me/us to take the time each day to open our eyes each and every day and find those that could use a hug, prayer or kindness and a smile!

Theron Smentek 6 months ago

Happy Birthday Lindsay! I appreciate how you pulled out Paul’s emphasis in encouragement to the Roman church and how we should encourage one another. I am reminded that Paul’s emphasis on the Gospel and repeatedly bringing things back to that in these first 12 verses, literary for a letter in this time period, would’ve been “abnormal” (at least as my understanding of it). It was lengthened to include a Gospel presentation as well-which paints really clearly that we aren’t supposed to or instructed to, encourage brothers and sisters through vanity, but through the truth of the Gospel of God. Thank you for that unique challenge to reach out to people! I know I certainly have been encouraged by people around me!

Linda Aland 6 months ago

Earlier this week, we learned we were “called to be saints” and now we read that we were “called to belongto Jesus Christ.” I still have a little surprise that Jesus would have picked me to be one of His. But after 26 years and many challenges in working as a Christian, I know it to be a true miracle. Left to my old life, I would be a very different person today. Our message of Jesus’ love to others shown through our action may aid others who are called to belong to Jesus come to know Him. What an encouragement that we can participate in more miracles even in the smallest acts of kindness

donna doyle 6 months ago

Encouragement from my family and Godly friends has helped me through a divorce 20 yrs ago. 2 1/2 yrs ago we awoke to my 31 yr old special needs daughter being with Christ. If it had not been for my family and Godly friends there is no way I would have survived without loosing my mind. F & F encouraged me, listened to me, cried with me. God placed ladies in my life that were instrumental in conquering the situatiom.

Amy Levy 6 months ago

Thank you Lindsay for reminder by us how sweet it is to be encouraged and probably even more rewarding to be the encourager! Praying we see the moments put before us to be so and not just rush through our days! Happy a birthday!! Thanks for starting it off with an encouraging word from God!

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

Here the emphasis is for the sake of his name, Isaiah round chapters 61 shows to do that the bridegroom acts for the sake of his bride to make her into a stunning object of beauty so the nations can see His glory through her

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

My mom is in hospice and so it is encouraging I can read to her and sing her songs that might help her even though she can’t talk or move. Here in this passage there are many encouragements: a royal proclamation of promises, love, the fulfillment of the promises to David, the spirit of holiness at work. Beautiful feet will carry it on the mountains (says both Isaiah concerning mercy and Nahum concerning judgement)

Ted Mattos 6 months ago

Good morning, and happy Friday all! Lindsay, hope you have a wonderful birthday weekend! I’m grateful that God has given me the gifts of humor and creativity. I am thankful when I’m able to make people laugh or chuckle with my play of words, etc.

Lindsey Driscoll 6 months ago

Happy birthday Lindsay! Great first week warp up devo, it was so encouraging! (Get it ;D) Q1- I have seen encouragement lived out in our body through our new foundation group. Soon after forming we saw grief and medical issues within in family members of the group. It is encouraging to see so many members of our group so faithfully encourage through their gifts: consistent prayer, making meals, giving gifts, spending quality time, spending Funtime together. We read in 1:5 that obedience comes through faith. I have seen first hand the faith of our foundation group members through their recent encouragement!

Hope Harris 6 months ago

@LindsaySellers HaPpY Birthday friend

Hope Harris 6 months ago

Lindsay so great to see your face pop-up today on JTJ. Here are key points that have stood out to me this far in our time in Romans. Because of the gospel, my disordered life is restored to order I find my true purpose, by honoring and glorifying God with my life My life is not my own I am part of God’s family I am called to build meaningful relationships with my local community of believers I can offer up my skills talents and resources to expand the kingdom of God I am called to share the gospel with others See everyone on Monday

Hugh Stephenson 6 months ago

What hit home to me in your devo is your point about how priceless the “59 One Anothers” are. In God’s economy I see so many examples of free gifts that are of infinite value. Amy and I first came to (or staggered in to) Watermark in the fall of 2012 and were encouraged immediately - from seeing how joyous and happy so many people were to the greeters to the music - and then … the first message we heard started out with a clear statement about being welcomed into a group of people who embraced that fact that they were lost and broken. I had never heard an opening like that at any church. Ever. Our encouragement continues through your devo. My application today is to consciously encourage 5 people I meet.

Julie Newmeyer 6 months ago

Encouraging, serving, and hospitality are my main gifts. I use them throughout my career and in my day-to-day life. I love baking/cooking–so I try to take every opportunity to make meals for people when they are going through trials. 4)In November I had to go to an inpatient treatment center for 3 weeks for an eating disorder. It was wonderful to receive little cards in the mail and text messages saying that they were praying for me.
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