Summary: 3 things that discourage us and 3 things that encourage

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September 26, 2010

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 15:4-6

I was praying, as I do each week, about what God would have me share with you this morning, and the world “encouragement” caught my eye. And as I usually do, I ignored the message. But God was just getting started. While puttering around my office, I picked up a book I hadn’t read in years. It was by Charles Stanley and it was entitled “Encourage Me”. “Interesting”, I thought. Still didn’t get it. Last night I was concerned about sharing a message with you, so I prayed, “Lord, tell me what to share with the people.” I woke up about 7 with the sermon outline running through my mind. I don’t always get my messages from God like that – but I do every once in a while. So God’s word for you today is – “encouragement”. We all need it don’t we? The reason I bought that book by Stanley, years ago, was because I really needed encouraging at one time. And that is one way we can get it. Get a good book or two on the subject and read what God has taught others and laid on their hearts.

I also like to be around encouraging people, when I am down. Some of our friends are not encouraging. We love them. We wouldn’t trade them for the world – but they have a knack for discouraging us. Good people. Godly people. But they have unrealistic expectations of us or focus on the negative. Many have a negative and critical spirit. We don’t need to be around those kinds of people when we are discouraged. We need to get around encouraging friends.

I thing one of the best things I do when I need encouraged is to go to God – He is the Great Encourager. Did you notice the Scripture? Part of it said,

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement…”

God gives encouragement. He builds you up. He tells you, you can do it! He helps you. He teaches you. He fills you with His Spirit of joy!

God also uses His Word. Our Scripture said,

“through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

God’s Word encourages us. We need to read it daily. We need to mark those passages that lift us up and encourage us so we can be blessed by them over and over.

So notice this fact. God gives encouragement and the Bible gives encouragement. Both also give endurance. We can only endure with a lot of encouragement. And the result is ‘hope’. Hope is the “trusting expectation that God will keep His Word”. So when you are hopeful you have a positive expectation. You are trusting for good things. I think it is impossible to a have a heart full of hope and be discouraged at the same time. Discouragement is hopelessness. And when you are discouraged I think it is a sign that you have drifted away from the Word and/or God. Maybe you are just going through the motions. Perhaps you are trying to do the right things -but the need is to open that “can of courage” that only God can provide.

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