Summary: 3 things that discourage us and 3 things that encourage
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.”
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.
If you are discouraged this morning I encourage you to get into the bible and dig out God’s promises and also go to Him in prayer. Pray real honest, from the heart, prayers. Tell Him how you feel. Be completely, transparently, honest with Him and yourself. God knows what’s in your heart anyway. He just wants you to be aware of it and to verbalize it. There is healing in the process.
This morning I want to share with you three things that discourage and three things that encourage. At one time I struggled with depression and discouragement. I had to work through it. God helped me work through it. I share with you what worked for me. I hope this may bring encouragement to your life. Life isn’t fun when you are discouraged. You cannot be effective serving the Lord when you are discouraged. Discouragement sucks the strength out of our spirits and we are left wilted, spineless shadows of what we could be.
The first thing that discourages is sin. Sin separates us from God. Sin separates us from His encouragement. When we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us of that sin. Can guilt and hope reside in the same heart? I don’t think so. Besides that, sin often has its own way of discouraging. For instance, alcohol is a depressant. Before I was a Christian, in my depression I often turn to alcohol – which depressed me even further. Many drugs are depressants. Even the ‘uppers’ wear your body out and tear you down and leave you broken and aged and discouraged with life.