Summary: Life has a way of wearing us down, doesn't it? And when we're discouraged, what usually happens? We start complaining & feeling sorry for ourselves. We may even turn bitter & isolate ourselves. ((Powerpoints Available - #257)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #257.)
A. In today's world, it appears that almost everyone is getting connected to everyone else. We have cell phones, e-mail, Face Book, Twitter, & much, much more. But no matter how connected we are technically, it seems we're getting less & less connected personally.
That's not what God intended. In fact, the Bible tells us that when God first made man, He said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). We were made with a desire to connect, to belong, & to be accepted by others.
And one of the words in the Bible that expresses that togetherness, that sharing of ourselves with one another is the word "fellowship."
Experiencing that fellowship is important because life has a way of wearing us down, & we tend to get discouraged. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength." (NLT)
When we're discouraged, there will be times when we will have a broken spirit. There will be times when our strength is gone.
ILL. Once in a while I'll sit all alone after meeting with people, almost stunned by the amount of hurt that they're carrying inside. All around us are people who are being crushed by life. Their marriages are falling apart.
Their finances are a mess. They're worried about their jobs. They're worried about their kids. They have regrets - huge regrets from the past. Their health isn't what it used to be.
Life has a way of wearing us down, doesn't it?
And when we're discouraged, what usually happens? We start complaining & feeling sorry for ourselves. We may even turn bitter & isolate ourselves. Sometimes we get so discouraged that we even stop going to church.
It's sad when we do that, because that's when we need each other the most. Isolation isn't the answer.
I. WHY DO WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER?
A. There's a reason why we as Christians need to be concerned about & encourage each other.
Jesus told us in John 13:35, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (NLT) Jesus loves us without reservation. The way we can show we're His followers is to do the same with one another.
The Apostle Paul says, "Encourage one another & build each other up, just as you are already doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT).
Again, Jesus said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, & all your mind. This is the first & greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)
A lot of people don't understand what Christianity is all about. Christianity is about relationships - our relationship with God, & our relationship with others. It's not about rules. It's not about knowledge. It's about loving, lasting relationships.
ILL. One of my heroes in history is William Wilberforce, the man who worked so hard trying to get Parliament to abolish English support of slavery. Twice he was defeated in his efforts. Discouraged, he was about to give up.
Then his old friend, John Wesley, heard of his discouragement, & even though Wesley was on his deathbed he pulled himself up & asked for pen & paper. With trembling hand Wesley wrote these words to Wilberforce:
"Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men & devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? Oh be not weary of well-doing! Go on, in the name of God & in the power of His might..."
Wesley died 6 days after writing those words, & Wilberforce, with renewed dedication, continued on. Then in 1833, just 3 days before his own death, it was brought to a vote once more, & Parliament finally abolished slavery in Britain. What if John Wesley hadn't encouraged him?
B. Encouragement is important because so much is at stake. Heb. 10:25 says, "Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near." (NLT)
I believe that Jesus is coming back soon. Eternity is at stake. That's why it is so important that we encourage each other.
II. HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE EFFECTIVELY?
But how are we to do that? How can we encourage effectively?
A. Our meeting together is a source of encouragement.
Listen again to Hebrews 10:25: "Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."