Summary: This is the introductory message and it focuses on how Jesus chose to encourage His disciples on His last night with them.
Be Encouraged Part 1
This morning I am starting a series titled “Be Encouraged” and this message will be the introductory message to set the stage for the series. Encouragement is something that is crucial to everyone regardless of whether you’re “religious” or not. Everyone needs encouragement and sometimes without it we make poor decisions in seeking it. In this series I want to share with you why we should be encouraged and why there will be times when we must stand along on God’s word and encourage ourselves. Before I go any further I want to share a personal experience with you.
During my six years in elementary school I had teachers who believed in me and encouraged me to do my best. I was blessed because I had teachers that made me believe that they cared about me individually and wanted me to excel educationally. They encouraged me while I was in their classroom and continued to do so even after I was promoted to the next grade. Two of my favorite elementary school teachers were Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Howell. Mrs. Porter taught me in the third grade and Mrs. Howell taught me in the sixth grade. When I preached my first sermon in 1981, (9 years later) both of these teachers were present. I did not invite them nor expected them to even know that I had been called into the ministry, but they were there. Upon completing that sermon both of these ladies came up to me and offered me encouragement. This past November while we were home for grandmother’s funeral, I was able to see these two ladies and my fourth grade teacher. These teachers encouraged me and made me think that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to and what they instilled within me is still there. Throughout my educational years and my military career, God always placed someone in my life to offer encouragement when I needed it most as there were many times when I did not know how to encourage myself. I know first hand how a little encouragement can impact a life. This series will examine why we need encouragement and why I believe that we have the BEST encourager available – our Heavenly Father!
Our choir sings a song by Donald Lawrence titled “Encourage Yourself.” Listen to what two of the verses says: “Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test. And no matter how you feel, speak the word and you will be healed; speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord. Sometimes you have to speak the word over yourself, the pressure is all around, but God is present help. The enemy created walls, but remember giants, they do fall; speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord.” The song ends with the singers repeating the phrase “I’m Encouraged!” As we go through this series I want you to keep the words to this song in your mind because I will share with you what the Bible says about our being encouraged. Turn with me to John chapter fourteen.
I. Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
The definition of encourage is: “to inspire with courage, spirit or hope; to attempt to persuade; to spur on; to give help.” To encourage someone means that we are building them up spiritually; mentally and emotionally so that they may be able to carry on. You see, discouragement is a state of mine. It will manifest itself in a physical way, but it is a state of mine. Remember what Solomon said in Proverbs 17:22? He said “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries of the bones.” He was saying that discouragement can actually kill us spiritually and physically but a joyful heart, one that is encouraged, works on the body like a good medicine. When we are physically ill there are times when we can take medicine to help the body recover from the illness. Encouragement is the medicine of the spiritual man. If we are encouraged then we can have strength to defeat all circumstance but as soon as we are discouraged, our enemy gains a foothold to really do battle against us.
Before we read these verses I want to ask you a question. If you knew this would be the last time you would see your family and friends what you would say to them? If you knew you were going and they would be left behind, what words would you tell them to prepare them? Would you try and leave them with words that would comfort them? Would you tell them what they needed to hear in order to be encouraged? What would you tell them? Jesus was faced with this exact situation. On the night that He was betrayed Jesus chose to encourage His disciples. He chose to prepare them for what would come and how they would need to stand strong. He did this by making sure they knew who they were in Him. Let’s look at John chapter fourteen.