Summary: According to Scripture we have a tremendous ministry of encouragement to one another as we grow to become a “church of encouragers.” What is this encouragement based on? How do we go about it? What impact does such encouragement have on our relationshi

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The Church You’ve Always Longed For … Is An Encouraging Church! - Hebrews 10:19-25

Series: The Church You’ve Always Longed For #1

I once read somewhere that the average person meets some 10,000 people during the course of their lives. Most of those encounters are unremarkable – people that don’t really impact our life at all. There are others though whose lives may deeply, or even profoundly, touch our own.

I can think of two such people right off the top of my head and both were teachers of mine in elementary school. The memories I have of the one bring a sting with them even today, all these years later. She was my grade five French teacher and one day when I answered a question incorrectly and she mocked and ridiculed me in front of the whole class. The shame of her words and that experience wounded me deeply and although I’ve long since forgiven her, those memories are still vivid, and sharp, even today.

The other person I distinctly remember is my grade three teacher. Her name was Mrs. Pegnucco and she invested in my life. Every school day we would be required to write a few sentences in our journals – sharing our thoughts, our hearts, our hopes, our fears – and at the end of each day we would hand them in to be read by her. And each night she would pour over all those journals and write a few words in response. Her replies were always encouraging, always personal, always caring and she had a way of helping you believe in yourself. Some 30 years later I still have that journal. Her life touched mine.

William Ward once said this: “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. [But] Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” And I imagine that many of the people who you remember as influencing your life are remembered because in some way they encouraged you. And today we’re going to look at what the Bible says about encouragement because The Church We’ve Always Longed For … Is An Encouraging Church. And as we look into God’s word this morning I’ll invite you to open your Bibles with me to the book of Hebrews. Hebrews, chapter 10, verses 19-25.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Hebrews 10:19-25]

It has been said that “discouragement is a thief.” It steals your joy, your zeal, your peace, your passion and it robs you of hope. It leads to discontentment, disillusionment and disarray in one’s life. Preacher Matthew Slicker says that “Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust for the future.” And I think he’s right for discouragement leads to despair, to depression, to frustration, to exhaustion and often to bitterness of one’s very soul and if it endures long enough, it can even rob you of the will to live.

Now contrast that with encouragement, which the dictionary defines as being “to inspire with courage, spirit or hope, … to spur [another] on.” Encouragement enables us to look beyond the difficulties of the moment to a better future. It leads to excellence and passion as it inspires us to push ourselves beyond what we thought was possible. It results in boldness as we step forward in faith in the promises and provision of God. Encouragement can go a long way to healing the hurts of the past, to moving beyond the pain of the present, and entering into a hope filled future.

Yet we live in a world in which there are many discouraging voices. And they say things like this: “You can’t do that. This isn’t possible. What were you thinking? You’re no good. Can’t you do anything right? You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll never change. Why bother? What’s wrong with you?” We might hear these things in people’s voices, we might see it etched on their faces or in their actions, and if we’re not careful we might begin to believe them about ourselves. And you may have heard such things from your own families, from your friends, or from the world in general – but we should not hear them coming from the people of God for the admonition of Scripture is that we “spur one another on to love and good deeds, … that we encourage one another and all the more as we see the Day [of the Lord] approaching.”

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