Summary: This is the first of three messages exploring the concept of encouragement from God and each other. This messages focuses on God's encouragement.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Our God of All Encouragement”
Most of you could complete the lyrics of this old song. “Where seldom was heard….” Today’s culture broadcasts plenty of discouraging words. Today’s environment generates abundant discouraging circumstances.
Most people struggle with some level of discouragement about life. The Chico family has encountered our share of discouraging life circumstances in recent months and days. Because of that I felt drawn to explore the topic of encouragement today. The dictionary defines discouragement as a feeling of having lost hope or confidence.
We have all experience those feelings. They range from slight to severe; light to heavy. Other terms describe varying levels of feeling, depression, dismay, despair, hopelessness, disappointment, gloominess, disheartened, downcast, dejected, melancholy. The cause varies from other people’s discouraging words and actions to the world’s traumatic circumstances. Whatever the source, it robs us of an enthusiasm for life. It sucks the air out of our soul. It supplants courage with fear and generates feelings of despair that can paralyze any positive progress in our life.
Everyone desires and appreciates en-couragement. Rather than losing courage i.e. dis-courage. We need someone or something to en-courage; restore our hope, revitalize our enthusiasm for life, replenish our diminishing strength. The Bible clearly and often addresses this need of people living in a broken world. The section of the Bible I invite you to explore with me today is one such place. The word “encouragement” appears ten times in only five verses.
Paul first called the Corinthians to bless the God of all mercies and encouragement.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in all our affliction so that we will be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our encouragement is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; or if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our encouragement. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Paul then testified concerning his own need and experience of encouragement.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Since the noun “encouragement” and the verb “encourage” appear so many times in these verses, it would be advantageous for us to explore that term more closely. Most translations opt to translate the original Greek term by the word “comfort”. Hopefully you will understand why I prefer translating it by the broader term encouragement. The Greek term comes from a combination of the verb “to call” and the preposition “beside”.
The word means to be by the side of another; to relieve and support; to give solace, consolation, and encouragement. But there is always an underlying meaning to the word. There is the idea of strength, an enabling, a confidence. It consoles and relieves a person, but it strengthens him at the same time. It charges a person to go out and face the world.
It communicates the idea of urging or imploring someone to do the right thing. It was used to describe a pleading for help. It describes coming along side another with positive words of encouragement. It describes someone coming along side in troubled times not just to console but to strengthen. It references someone sent to advocate on our behalf; like a lawyer. Not one English word communicates all these ideas.
The translators translate the same term by “urge, beg, comfort, exhort, encourage, advocate, counsel, help, ask.
The noun and verb appear nearly 150 times in the New Testament. God does it. People practice it. God commands the church to practice it toward one another. Jesus does it. It is the central function of the Holy Spirit. Other terms like inspire, motivate or influence capture the sentiment of the term.