Summary: Encouragement is a key Christian ingredient.
ENCOURAGEMENT IN ALL THINGS…EVEN PULLING BUSES
On Friday afternoon about noon I was in the process of trying to get up King Street to get to my car. I say trying, because if you saw the news Friday night there was a High School Transit Bus Pull being held between Saint John High School and St. Malachy’s High School. For those of you who missed it, Saint John High School won.
I watched this event, not realizing that I would be sharing this Sunday School class with you. I want to suggest two things that happened during that bus pull.
(1) There were 40-50 high school students, girls and boys pulling on the ropes attached to the buses. But there were hundreds of students lined up all along both sides of the street, cheering them on.
(2) King Street is the shortest and steepest hill in a Canadian City of the size of Saint John. But from Germain Street up, the incline is not as pronounced. If you can get past Germain Street in this bus pull, encouragement and energy will get you the rest of the way to the top.
Aside from the lessons about doctrine that we can learn from the letters of Paul, there are a number of lesson related to practical everyday Christian life that can be found as well. One of the interesting features about Paul’s letters are the fact that they all for the most part, regardless of their original purpose contain words of encouragement and commendation to the recipients.
ROMANS 1:8-12 - Paul commends the church at Rome because their faithfulness is widely reported. He desires to come “that they might be mutually encouraged.”
1 CORINTHIANS 1:4-7 “our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift...”
PHILLIPIANS 1:4-6 “pray for you...with joy because of your partnership in the gospel
But of all the letters of Paul in which he writes words of encouragement, I think the best is 1 Thessalonians. Let me show you three passages very quickly.
I Thessalonians 1:2-4 = verse 3 “We continually remember before our God and Father your WORK produced by FAITH, your LABOUR produced by LOVE, and your ENDURANCE inspired by HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I: WORK PRODUCED BY FAITH; LABOUR PRODUCED BY LOVE
The High School Bus Pull has been an annual event of rivalry between St Malachy (“St Macs”) and Saint John High School (“SJ”). But the real focus of the Bus Pull is as a fund raising event for the Terry Fox Run. Ann Furey, one of the organizers of the Terry Fox run commented on the news how both schools were to be commended for a job well done. That while rivalry exists, that both schools working together were winners.
Working together. That’s a principle that needs to be applied to the church.
WORK - all that they did as a church proceeded from their faith-that’s where encouragement begins. When we accept Christ, one of the challenges should be to find that nitch that God would have us work in for Him. That isn’t always easy.
We need to encourage one another in their work-both for the Lord and in their daily lives.
II: ENDURANCE PRODUCED BY HOPE
Endurance, that was a commodity that the Thessalonia church needed because of persecution-that’s a commodity that churches today need. Actually, I think Pastor Bill’s letter for Celebration Sunday expresses this best. Let me read a section
As the people of Israel were ready to enter the promised land, God encouraged them with these words “The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert.......the Lord your God has been with you and you have not lacked anything.” How appropriate these words are to Hillcrest United Baptist Church. Seven years ago the recession was just beginning. But it never ended. It is still with us, unemployment is up, the dollar is down, businesses are downsizing or closing and the economic boom has not hit the Atlantic Provinces. Yet the Lord God has blessed us, we have not lacked anything. God has been unbelievably good, meeting needs, solving problems, bringing people to Christ and sending people out to share Him with others.”
And as we as a congregation begin another pastoral search in the wake of news of the call of our Senior Pastor to a church in New Hampshire, we may be saddened at a loss of our Senior Pastor, but we can rejoice in the knowledge that God is watching over our journey.
There were two thermometers representing the church debt and the Great Expectations campaign. The Great Expectation campaign was met. The church loan was substantially reduced. Bequests allowed our church to undertake a pew refinishing project. God provided throughout 1998, and he will continue to provide as his people are faithful.