Summary: Sources of encouragement, ways to stay encouraged... becoming encouraging people.
“The God who gives... encouragement”.
It was amazing to see the power of encouragement at the youth Camp in Seaford the other day. Firstly to see the leaders constantly encouraging the young people. These young people are growing up loved by our youth leaders. And then on our day out at Drucillas. Drucilla’s is a sort of theme park/Zoo. They have all sorts of animals and activities to do, and games to play. The kids loved it. There was one bit where you could run, sprint, and a digital screen would show how fast you could run. The kids lined up and tried to get faster and faster. It was difficult to improve their speed. As I watched them, I really started getting into it! And I started shouting like a coach! I found myself shouting things like, Come on! Focus! Think about it. You can do it! Come on! And an amazing thing happened. I found that when I used their names and gave them clear words of encouragement, they got faster! Some, more than others. But they did! I saw again the power of encouragement.
We live in a discouraging world. TV adverts are designed to make us feel bad about ourselves and better if we buy their product. The world screams at most of us that we are inadequate. Depression and disillusionment are epidemic. And places that should be encouraging like marriages, schools and homes are more than often not. If you and I are desperate for one thing, it’s encouragement.
Tonight we will take a topical rather than an expository approach. One word for you: Encouragement. One thought: Our God is an encouraging God. One application: am I an encourager?
So, What is encouragement? Well, it is the opposite of discouragement! It is, says the Oxford Dictionary, ‘to give confidence, courage or hope’.
In the original Hebrew and Greek, various words are used for our word encouragement. The basic idea is that of urging forward, persuading, exhorting, together with the idea of comforting, consoling. In its form as a noun is the Greek word paraklesis, which is closely related to the word Parakletos – the name for the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
We all like the Sound of encouragement! Let’s look at 5 Sources and Goals of encouragement. And then at some points of application... Are you ready for some serious Bible references?!
Sources and Goals of Encouragement
Source #1 – God. God gives encouragement.
In Psalm 10:17 it says that God encourages the afflicted.
In Philippians 2:1 Paul talks about the encouragement of being united with Christ.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:16 Paul speaks of the eternal encouragement that the Father and the Lord Jesus have given us.
In Hebrews 6:18 the writer talks of the incredible hope we have in our Saviour Jesus, and says that God has sworn by himself to bless us, and he did that so we may be greatly encouraged.
God is an encouraging God.
God encourages us because he is compassionate, so that we can encourage others. God encourages us so we can have the strength to keep trusting him through thick and thin.
Source #2 - The Bible. The Bible gives us encouragement.
In Romans 15:4-5 Paul says that the Bible was written so we might be encouraged and have hope. Again, in 1 Corinthians 14:3 Paul says that prophecy – in other words, speaking out God’s Word – is aimed at strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
The Bible is a book of encouragement.
Source #3 – Christian Leaders. Leaders are to encourage others.
In 2 Samuel 19:7 General Joab rightly urges King David to go out and encourage his soldiers. The tragedy of his son’s death had made David go in on himself. But a true leader’s task is to encourage others. In Ephesians 6:22 we see that Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians for the express purpose of encouraging them. Encouragement was a huge part of Paul’s ministry. Which is not surprising since his first mentor in the faith was Barnabus – the Son of Encouragement who had a wonderful encouraging ministry. Luke records in the book of Acts that Paul encouraged the believers in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, the other Antioch and Ephesus (Acts 14:22, 15:32, 20:1). In Colossians 2:2 Paul talks of how he is struggling in prayer that the Colossians may be encouraged in heart. In 1 Thessalonians 2:11 Paul reminds the Thessalonians how he had a ministry of encouragement amongst them. In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul tells Timothy to encourage with great patience. In Titus 1:9 we read of how Paul urged Titus to encourage his people in the way of truth. Leaders are to have a positive approach – a ministry of encouragement. Their aim is to motivate others to a solid and mature walk with Jesus Christ.