Encouraging Encouragement Series: CONSIDERING ENCOURAGEMENT
HEBREWS 10: 23-25
While the joy of the Lord truly sustains and strengthens us, there are times when we all need encouragement. This world is hard, especially on Christians. Elijah, Jonah and Job were at times suicidal. Paul, Jeremiah, and Jesus Himself, all had to deal with the sorrow of watching people destroy themselves, reject God, and reject His truth... we all need encouragement
This series on Christian encouragement is intended to strengthen you and give you hope and help you to become an encourager. It's not always easy to walk by faith in difficult times. It's not always easy to obey God as we know we should. It's not always easy to live according to God’s Will for our lives. Sometimes we need a help... a little motivation to do what we know is right, to stand up for what we believe, and to spread His Word throughout the whole world. We each need to be encouraged.
Encouragement is awesome. It can actually change the course of another person's day, week, or life. You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are the people who believe in you most, who encouraged you.
There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through the encouragement fo someone else. I don't care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for encouragement. Correction does much, but encouragement does even more.
One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.
Let’s use the following outline to consider encouragement:
I. HOLD TIGHT OUR HOPE, 23.
II. ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER, 24,
III. ASSEMBLE TOGETHER, 25.
At the time of the writing of Hebrews, there was life-threatening persecution. Our tendency during such trying times would be to save our skin or to each his own. But, the book of Hebrews encourages us to encourage one another. Someone wrote, “Encouragement is the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough… To encourage is to inspire another with courage.”
In fact, Hebrews commands us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today” (3:13). The word “encourage” is in the present tense. It indicates a habit or a way of life. It is also in the active voice. It means we don’t wait for others to encourage us. But we take the initiative. We must encourage even if others could not, even if others would not. Note that we are to “encourage one another”. That means that it is not only for pastors but for every one of us.
Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” When a person is discouraged, when we fail to encourage, sin can deceive and harden his heart to the point that it becomes sinful and unbelieving, leading the person to turn his back on God. Someone wrote, “People live by encouragement. Without it they die. Slowly... Sadly... Bitterly.”
I. HOLD TIGHT OUR HOPE, 23.
The exhortation in verse 23 of chapter 10 is to hold fast our creed. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;”
We must never loosen our grip on what we believe. The Confession of Jesus Christ is the Confession that any and all need to make if they would have eternal hope. Do you lack hope and expectancy? If so you need to make the good confession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Profess publically that you believe Jesus is God’s unique Son. That He died on the Cross for our sin; that He received the punishment we deserved and purchased our pardon from sin and hell by His shed blood; that He rose again conquering sin, death and the grave, and that He ascended back into Heaven and that He is coming again for His own.
Cynical voices try to erode our faith. Materialistic voices get us too busy for God. The events of life seem to conspire to shake our faith. But we who confess Christ are to persevere in and by giving a constant confess (3:14).
Perseverance in confessing Christ is the evidence that we have received the promise of God. If our hope is based on the unfailing promise of God we should confess it confidently and boldly. Has God ever failed us? Is God not faithful to His people and to His promises for all who draw near in faith?
“Let us hold fast the confession.” The Greek verb translated “hold fast” has the sense of holding firm, securing or tightening down our confession of hope. This we must do without wavering (aklinç from klinô, “to lean, to slope, or to be off balance”). We must not go off balance or become unlevel as does a faulty foundation. We must not bend or yield to winds of pressure that blow upon us from a seductive yet hostile world.
There is reason to hold firm even though the circumstances of life appear to be haunting us. Even if things have become difficult and at the moment we feel there is little reason for keeping on. The One who made the promise “is faithful” and will not let us down. He does not count time in the short segments by which we count it; therefore, we should not let momentary discouragement cause us to turn away.
Hang on; God is on His way with resources for endurance. Though things might become even more difficult (see 12:3–4); God uses the very process of enduring, to discipline and strengthen you to grow His rich fruit in your life. The tragedies of today will become the triumphs of tomorrow (Rom. 8:26–39). God is faithful, and He is faithful to His promises.
A YOUNG PARATROOPER admitted that he had been frightened the first time he jumped. There was nothing but a big piece of fabric between him and death. What if that fabric accidentally ripped apart? What if his ripcord didn't work and the parachute failed to open?
But when he jumped, everything functioned perfectly. Supported by that life-preserving umbrella over his head, the soldier floated earthward. He said, "I had a release from fear and a marvelous feeling of exhilaration."
What about the promises God makes in the Bible? Will they uphold us in times of crisis? It all depends on whether we believe them to be God's promises or merely printed words, black marks on white paper, or simply the guesses of fallible human beings like ourselves. Because they are the promises of God, we can cling to them with assurance. This will bring relief from fear and impart a deep inner peace.
Throughout the ages, our God has been trusted millions upon millions of times. And He has never been proven untrustworthy. So let's trust Him and add our personal testimony to that of the countless host of fellow believers who have found that our promise-keeping God is unfailingly faithful. [VCG. Our Daily Bread
II. ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER, 24.
Verses 24 and 25 give us two more exhortations. Verse 24 exhorts us to put our mind to the task of assisting other in their Christian life. “And let us consider how to stimulate (spur) one another to love and good deeds.”
Verse 24 begins, “let us consider one another…” [katanômen allçlous]. It means “to observe attentively, or understand, fix one’s eyes or mind upon.” In short, we are to focus on encouraging one another. It is not to be accidental but intentional. I like how The Message goes: “Let’s see how inventive we can be…” Let us think of creative ways of encouraging others.
The emphasis is upon getting to know one another in our community of faith. There results a creative interchange that leads to provocative stimulation of both love and good works. When a person is known for all he or she is, with all the wrinkles and foibles, and yet is loved, trust is engendered and creative risking becomes a possibility. We can say, “So what if I fail at a good attempt? I will be loved. I am confident of that. He or she knows me and still loves me; I can attempt my idea.” This then makes possible one of the goals of the Christian life—good works (Eph. 2:10; James 2:14–18). Such good works do not always come naturally or automatically. Our exhorter encourages his readers to both love and good works.
Verse 24 continues, “let us consider how we may spur one another on…” To spur means “to stir up, provoke, stimulate or incite someone to do something.” In other words, to create a thirst. A thirst for what? “toward love and good deeds.” That’s how we measure encouragement. It is not a fuzzy feeling. If someone became a more loving person or a better person, then we really encouraged him or her.
Church can be a great place to get caught up on the latest football games, golf scores, family news, health concerns, or just to visit with friends. A cup of coffee together, a warm handshake, a friendly pat on the back are all part of the social interaction we need as human beings.
All of this is good, but New Testament fellowship goes much deeper than merely socializing when we get together at church. It takes place when we consider how we can lift up, build up, and brighten up our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Christian fellowship takes place when we offer encouragement to our friends, pray for them, and confess our sins and weaknesses to one another. These are the elements that make fellowship genuine.
What about our church? Are we merely socializing? Or are we practicing true Christian fellowship? Christian fellowship builds us up and binds us together.
Now we've all heard SOMEONE COMPLAIN that the people in a certain church aren't friendly, or that they seem to be lacking in love. Although such criticisms may be true, the one doing the complaining is often a part of the problem.
An lesson I learned as a boy illustrates what I mean. My grandparents used to draw their water from an old well with a pump. Many remember their first attempt to get water from that pump. They repeatedly jerked that cast iron handle down and up, down and up, but couldn't get any water. Then Granddad handed them a bucket of water. "Pour it down the pump," he urged. Then as they worked the handle, water came in abundance. There was plenty of water in that well, but first they had to "prime the pump."
To feel the love and. friendliness of an assembly of believers, we may need to pour a little of our own love in first. It was God's love toward us that prompted our love in return. This principle also works in our relationship with other Christians. Try it!
Your expression of love and concern and friendliness will most certainly stimulate a reciprocal love from hearts in dwelt by God's Spirit. When you meet together with the people of God, ask Him to help you "prime the pump." - P.R.V.
III. ASSEMBLE TOGETHER, 25.
Verse 25 teaches that the stimulating and urging is to include the getting of people together in worship. “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging (one another); and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Next he says they should not abandon (egkataliepontes, “forsake, leave behind, or desert”) their gathering together, their worship. You cannot be stirred up to love and ministry if you stay away from worship in the Father’s House.
Church going has fallen on difficult times lately. For some Christians it is a weak substitute for a picnic on a rainy Sunday. Excuses are as plentiful as quarters in the collection plate. The fact is many professing Christians don't think church is all that important. They think they can be perfectly good Christians without being part of a local congregation.
God disagrees! For one thing, our own spiritual welfare is not to be our only concern. We go to church not just to get but to give-to spur on other Christian to "love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24). If we stay away, we may give them an excuse to be careless.
On the other hand, if we attend with enthusiasm, we encourage other believers in their ambition to draw near to Christ. If we are faithful in meeting together with them, we will honor the Lord, grow in our faith, and give a strong witness to the world.
The Christian faith allows no room for rugged individualists. To have a fire, you need more than one coal. You also need a spark and a draft of air. One humble, open, involved individual-perhaps you-set on fire by Christ, can be the spark. And the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, may blow on that spark and set a congregation ablaze. -Haddon Robinson
[Our hearts are sometimes cold. Fellowship can kindle warmth and make our witness bold. ] If we are honest, we must say that fellowship builds us up and binds us together.
Nowhere in the Bible does it says that names on a church membership roll means we’re saved. That doesn't mean, however, that joining with other believers in a local church is not vital to our spiritual growth. Gathering regularly for worship and instruction encourages love for others, good works, and mutual accountability.
I read- an article some time ago that likened the Christian without a church to:
a student who won't go to school
. a soldier without an army
. a citizen who won't vote
. a seaman without a ship
. a child without a family
. a drummer without a band
. a ballplayer without a team
. a honeybee without a hive
. a scientist who does not share his findings with his colleagues
Don’t neglect one of God's greatest provisions for your spiritual growth. Get into God's Word and start attending church faithfully. Don't be a churchless Christian - get involved! -
Remember, Seven days without church makes one weak.
George Grammar - remove coal from fire place.
We need to encourage each other in living the Christian life. How many times have we seen people who didn’t find a relational or discipleship group leave the worship of the church? Whether from the lack of “warm-fuzzies” or because of judgmentalism, some have left off worship; it is no longer part of their life style, Worship is the event in which we become radioactive for God. When we are not in the collective worship with God’s people, we have missed an exposure to God, and having missed it, we lose our radiance.
A Chief of Radiology at the National Institute of Health received a new cyclotron for making radioactive elements that could be used to create radioactive isotopes, used in diagnostic scanning equipment or in radiation therapy. Some of the elements have such a short half-life of radioactivity that they must be used within a few minutes of their production. The cyclotron and the patient must be in close proximity to one another.
We Christians are like short-lived radioactive isotopes; we have a very short half-life. Get us away from the worship of God with other saints and our radioactivity dissipates quickly and we lose our effective radiance. The circumstances of our world today intensify our need for maximum strength radiating from the lives of the believers. Christ is the radiance of God (apaugasma and doxa, 1:3), and we must constantly be in a worshiping relationship with Him and with other Christians.
We usually use this verse to remind people to be faithful in attending church services. However, note the conjunction “but”. It gives a strong contrast between the clauses “Let us not give up meeting together” and “let us encourage one another”. That means that, even if we attend church services, if we fail to encourage others, we have not obeyed this verse to the full extent. Encouragement is the purpose of our meeting together, whether it is a worship service or a small group meeting.
Have you ever wondered why CANADIAN GEESE fly only in the" V" formation? For years specialists in aerodynamics wondered the same thing. Two engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel what happens in such a “V” formation. Each goose, in flapping his wings, creates an upward lift for the goose that follows. When all the geese do their part in the "V" formation, the whole flock has a 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Each depends upon the other to get to its destination.
Let me give you five Lessons on the benefits on encourage we can learn From Geese.
Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson 1: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front of it.
Lesson 2: If we have as much common sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.
Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
Lesson 3: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each others’ skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.
Fact 4: Geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson 4: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock. Lesson 5: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
Now, let us learn from God's animal creation. The church needs to fly in a spiritual "V" formation, "honking" one another into steadfastness. And it must be at least 71 % easier to live the faithful Christian life flying with the flock as opposed to going it alone.
Instead of forsaking the worship, let us instead encourage (parakalountes) one another and all the more so as we “see the Day approaching” (v. 25). Is that Day a day of heightened persecution or is it the last day of history we need to encourage each other so that we do not cast aside our faith and confidence in the face of severe pressure. [Evans, Louis H., Jr; The Preacher's Com. Series, Vol 33 : Hebrews. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985, S. 180] Read verses 26-31.
William Barclay wrote, “It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”
God asks us to hold fast in unswerving loyalty to Christ. We need the encouragement of God’s people to help us become strong and vibrant Christians. Attending church regularly for mutual encouragement is a means of receiving and giving this kind of support.
In this world full of discouragement it is our duty to help people assemble in the house of God and to stir them up to love and ministry. Are you activity involved in encouraging people to assemble themselves in the House of God?
Will you today begin to "Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible”? ~ Cadet Maxim