Character of Encouragement
INTRODUCTION: A Church which does not equip its people as ENCOURAGERS will soon phase out of any meaningful ministry in the community. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we read that the church is to be a place of encouragement:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
In verse 25 the word for “exhorting” could be translated by the word “encouraging.” Here we read, “(STOP) forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but ENCOURAGING one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
In the New Testament, the word most often translated as encouragement is “parakalien” “para” meaning “alongside of” and “kaleo” meaning “to call.”
The dictionary defines encouragement as “The act of inspiring others with renewed courage, renewed spirit, or renewed hope.”
When people come alongside us during difficult times to give us renewed courage, a renewed spirit, and renewed hope that’s encouragement. An encourager is one who puts courage into the fainthearted, hope back into the spirit.
Encouragement is an URGENT NEED of our Day. The problems of this generation are far more complex than in previous periods of history. If you have children and grandchildren, you cannot help but look at what is happening in our world and wonder what the next two decades will bring. In fact there has never been a time when the ministry of ENCOURAGEMENT has been more critical for the Christian family.
Stop and consider, there are an awful lot of hardtacks, discouragements, problems, and trials within the families of our church. Some you know about, but others you do not know what is happening, nevertheless they are real problems.
Don’t forget the person sitting next to or near you at church. There’s a broken heart in every pew. As you enter for worship, pray for those around you. Consider sharing a random act or word of kindness or scripture that’s come to your mind…and don’t forget to smile.
Remember ENCOURAGEMENT is an urgent need of our day. “We live by encouragement and we die without it, SLOWLY, SADLY, and ANGRILY.”
Encouragement is the UNIQUE PRIORITY of our God. In the New Testament, each member of the triune God has as His priority to encourage.
In II Corinthians 1:3 we read, “Blessed be the God…the Father of mercies (compassion’s), and the God of all comfort.” The word comfort is our Greek word meaning encouragement.
In II Thessalonians 2:16-17 we are reminded that Jesus Christ is an encourager. “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation (our Greek word for encouragement) and good hope through grace, comfort (encourage) your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”
An “Encourager” is one of the names of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26 we read, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name…” The title “Comforter” is the Greek word “parakelete” meaning one who comes alongside to encourage.
Encouragement is a priority of our triune God.
Encouragement is the UNDERLYING PURPOSE of our Bible. Someone has said, “All encouragement is from the Lord; all discouragement is from the devil.” There’s truth in that, for God’s Word is a book of encouragement.
In Romans 15:4-5 we read, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort (encouragement) of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation (encouragement) grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.”
Everything from Genesis to Malachi was written for our learning, so that we, through the encouragement of the Scriptures, might have hope. Listen, if you don’t get your encouragement from God’s Word, its effect may be only temporary.
People are encouraged by the Word of God. That is my goal in preaching and teaching. Oh, to be sure, there are times in preaching that the Holy Spirit will convict you of something in the Word of God, at other times He will rebuke you, but for the most part there needs to be that encouragement.
Someone wrote, “When we listen to the devil, we’re led into sin. When we listen to friends, we get mixed advice. When we listen to our doubts, fears, worries, and feelings, we grow confused. Sometimes there’s no one to give us a “talking to” but ourselves. We must remind ourselves of God’s promises. We must quote to ourselves the great promises of God. We must count our blessings and remember God’s faithful mercies which are new every morning. We have to encourage ourselves in the Lord, force a smile back onto our faces, and say, “Praise the Lord anyway!”
Encouragement is the UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY we have in the church. Again in Hebrews 10:25 we read, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting (encouraging) one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” You and I know when we are saved we ought to be committed to meeting together with God’s people to worship and honor and to glorify and to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now if I understand Hebrews 10:25 correctly, one of the purposes for which we gather together, is to encourage one another. In I Thessalonians 5:11 we read, “Wherefore comfort (our word for encourage) yourselves together, and edify (build-up) one another as also ye do.” So what does it mean to encourage one another?
It means to raise the spirit of somebody.
It means to cheer them up – to give them a shot in the arm.
Here is another question, “How then can believers encourage one another?” There are many, many answers to this, but to keep it simple and direct, let me just emphasize three things.
First: We encourage one another by urging one another to practice God’s Truth. In Romans 12:1 we read a very familiar verse,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Did you notice the second word, “beseech”? It means “to urge, to beg, to get down on your knees and plead with the people to do something.” Now when you and I gather together in the Lord’s house and the Word of God is applied unto our hearts we are practicing God’s Truth.
When you come to this place for the service times you are doing or practicing what God has told you to do. In Matthew 5:14-16 we read,
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” Now carefully notice verse 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Let me remind you that every time you leave your house on Sunday morning or evening or Wednesday evening and come to church, alone or with your family, you are letting your light shine for Jesus Christ for your neighbors and your friends. You are also letting it shine for those in this assembly. When you do that, you are an encouragement to others.
It is an encouragement to the pastor. You say, why is it an encouragement to the pastor, – because I prepare my messages with you in mind. Before you even arrive I have going over the names of those who are members and those who are attending and hope and pray that you will be here.
It is an encouragement to the Sunday School teachers who week after week are ready to teach not only the children but also the adults in Sunday School.
It is an encouragement to those who bless you with the music.
It is an encouragement to your friends and neighbors because it is the only time they ever see you.
Just being with other Christians and watching them and sensing God’s presence in their lives is a challenge and an encouragement to practice God’s truth in all of the areas of life.
Just a warm and friendly smile can do a lot for somebody.
Just giving someone a hardy handshake and saying, I am glad to see you in God’s house today can uplift that one.
Just saying a kind word or a manifestation of a gracious attitude can become a refreshing blessing to someone.
Just a look of contentment upon your face can become an encouragement to someone going through some trial that perhaps you may not even know about.
YOUR FAITHFULNESS ENCOURAGES US. So don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together. Because if you forsake the church times not only will your pew be vacant, but that will contribute to the discouragement of other members in the body of Christ. The Bible tells us to exhort – to encourage one another.
Second: Encouragement is the UNCOMMON opportunity to begin a never-ending process to apply acts of kindness. Encouragement is like a pebble thrown into the water. While there is always an immediate impact, the ripples continue indefinitely. Paul spoke of this when he wrote to the Corinthians in I Corinthians 2:3-4,
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort (encouragement): Who comforteth (encouraged) us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort (encourage) them which are in any trouble, by the comfort (encouragement) wherewith we ourselves are comforted (encouraged) of God.”
Here Paul is calling upon us to identify with people who are in difficult situations. When you have been encouraged, your first impulse is to encourage someone else. ENCOURAGEMENT is infectious it begins a process which could go on forever.
Many are the lonely. Many are those who are walking through deep waters. How can you identify with the sorrowing and the suffering and the needs of people? It is simply saying I am interested in you. It is saying I care for you, not just in words rather it is also in deeds.
For a lonesome man or woman that refreshing lift could be a phone call. Or a card sent to them with a note or a simple short visit.
For a frazzled couple with young children, it could be an offer to baby-sit so they can go out for an evening or a weekend get-away.
For a discouraged Christian worker, it could be a week-end at a conference or a retreat.
For an elderly person, a shut-in or someone in the hospital – a card, a call, or a visit could be the highlight of their week.
For a student feeling pressured and homesick, it might be to help study for an exam.
For a frustrated ministry worker who can't seem to find anyone who will help, it could be an offer to fill in wherever you're needed most.
The ministry of refreshment involves genuine concern, willingness to take risk, and persistence in service. It requires being alert to the needs of others and seeking to provide relief from the pressures that burden them. And God wants to use you.
I have said to a number of you over the last few years – just by your experiences in life you have a powerful opportunity to come along side of others to encourage or to comfort them in their time of trials, tribulation, suffering or adversity.
By the way, here is a thought: “Don’t let the routine of your day stop you from encouraging someone who needs a special loving touch. Accept the interruption as from the Lord. Smile, and say “No Problem!” Go the extra mile for Christ, and you’ll find Him walking beside you all the way.”
ENCOURAGEMENT is an urgent need of our day. “We live by encouragement and we die without it.”
Third: The third way we can encourage one another is by praising God for others. Over in Philippians 1:3-5 we read,
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, (4) Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, (5) For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;…”
Gratitude for other believers is important to others and it is important to you. And you know what? It doesn’t really hurt to tell them so personally. Someone said, “I can live off one good compliment for a week.”
You see we need to be grateful and especially to those God has given to us to assemble together to worship and to honor our Lord. And we need to follow Paul’s example by telling others,
I really appreciate you.
I thank God for you.
I am so glad you are in our fellowship.
I am glad to see you here this morning.
As you come to the House of God Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday after Wednesday, can I encourage more of you to say a word of encouragement to others? Such as:
“I am so glad to see you here!”
“I am so glad for your participation as you minister on our behalf!”
Regardless of your age, your position, or your stature in life, God can use you to lift the hearts and pour strength into other believers. In the process you yourself will be encouraged.
In Deuteronomy 3:28 God said to Moses, “But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him…” Maybe God is speaking to you about some Joshua. Maybe there is an older person or a child or teenager around and God is saying to you – go encourage them.
Don’t forget what David did in I Samuel 30:6 “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”
When you encourage yourself in the Lord and you maintain the right devotional and study habits to build yourself up in the most holy faith, you put yourself in the right relationship to God and to Jesus Christ and you become sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit. Not only you will be encouraged, but you will also be able to encourage others.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "Character of Encouragement" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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