Summary: God's people should encourage one another.

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THE SAINTS OF GOD: Suspicious or Supportive?

Acts 9:19-32

I do not know anyone who does not want to succeed. Deep in our hearts some of us may feel like we have lost or that we have no chance of winning, but feeling like we are fumbling around in the dark is quite different from wanting to be a desperate failure. I have no friends or acquaintances who have purposefully set out to lose, to get knocked down and stay down, to stay in the blocks, or to set their mind on being a miserable failure.

I do have many friends who, at one time had high hopes of making a difference in this world, but who now find themselves sitting on the sidelines convinced that they just don't have what it takes. The tragedy is that for many of them their seat on the sidelines has been secured because they listened to the clamoring crowd of critics, the zealots of doubt and discouragement who heard of their dreams or saw their efforts and came pointing long fingers of criticism and spouting their words of cynicism.

There are two churches most prominent in the world today - The First Church of Unity, Encouragement, and Support and the First Church of Doubt, Defeat, and Discouragement. The First Church of Unity, Encouragement, and Support sees their fellow members as projects of God, a work in progress. Those who fill the pews are not what they hope to be, but neither are they what they used to be - they are a work in progress being crafted by the hands of Almighty God. The First Church of Unity, Encouragement, and Support stands by those who enter their doors, they trust in the God of the second, third, and fourth chance, and they have a habit of picking one another up instead of putting each other down. They use their eyes to see the possibilities that rest before them rather than to point out problematic differences in taste or style. They use their hands to bless those who are seeking after God's will rather than to distance themselves from those who struggle along the way. They use their lips to lift up, build up, and sure up those who feel weak and faltering rather than to curse those who are unsure of their relationship with the Lord. What a wonderful church, a church we would all love to be a part of, but the sad reality is that the membership seems to have plateaued.

Many are gravitating to the other church most prominent in our society today, the First Church of Doubt, Defeat, and Discouragement. The two churches differ greatly as the modus operandi of the First Church of Doubt, Defeat, and Discouragement is to question everything and to be suspicious of everyone. Any new member's potential is questioned at length, for we all know that if they would have been "real" believers they would have been here long ago. Any new idea is passed off as compromising with the world since the First Church of the Three D's most certainly has the full truth. When someone falls they roll their eyes and say, "I told you so." When someone says they want to make a new start, to see their life turned around by Almighty God, the congregation says, "We've heard that before." The pastor has even told his people on more than one occasion, "I know of a few people other than myself who are truly seeking after the heart of God, but I'm wondering about most of you."

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