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The Power of Encouragement

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The Power of Encouragement

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The Power of Encouragement

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There is great power in encouragement. When we encourage others we help them grow in courage and faith.

Transcript

[Mark Welch] It's rather clear that we do live in very perilous times. It's very clear that we're now closer to the return of Jesus Christ than at any other time in human history. I think we could all agree with that. Although I did have a person get a hold of me this week and try to convince me that Jesus returned in 1918, and that we missed His coming. So it's interesting what people think. But I think we all believe, certainly, that Christ is coming back. And we'll know it when he returns. So we do live in a godless society in many ways. Certainly it's time to draw near to God and to strengthen our spiritual relationship with God and with Christ. For those of us who have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we understand that now is our day of salvation. For anyone else, hopefully you are a child, or you are someone who's seeking God and wanting to please Him, and that you're here for the right reasons. You're moving toward baptism.

It's also true that we do not know when Christ is returning, or that any of us will still be living at Christ's return. We can't say that. I mean, it's likely that certainly some of the youngest among us will be alive at Christ's return, but we don't know because God has not revealed the time of Christ's coming in any definitive way. The truth is that there are many very positive things going on in this life for which we should all be very grateful and we should look to. In fact, we're all having a big celebration in just a week where over 1,200 of us will get together and enjoy a weekend of worship. Yes, we will be worshiping God. We'll be fellowshipping. There will be plenty of sports, lots of good times. So I know we're looking forward to that. And we should be looking forward to that. We should be focusing on the wonderful things that God has given us all to enjoy.

At the same time, we know that we do live in sobering times. In fact, a sermon was given just a few weeks ago where the minister mentioned that in the last days, there will be some who may even rise up against one another and betray one another. God's people, God's children. Now, that's what the Scripture tells us. So we know that we mustn't take things for granted. And we also know that we don't want to be personally among that number, do we? We don't want to be a Judas. We don't want to be someone who would betray another person. So what may we do right now to help prepare ourselves to have the necessary courage to be faithful to God and to one another in the days ahead? I think that's a good question for us to consider today. To have courage to do the right thing is extremely important, isn't it? Without courage, we become cowards. And we shrink back from being able to stand in the gap when needed, to stand up for what's right and good, and to be willing to even perhaps die for one another.

So brethren, how can we grow in courage? How can you be spiritually stronger? How can I be spiritually stronger? It does take courage and faith to overcome and to put sin out of our lives. And that's something that we have to do on a daily basis. It takes courage and it takes faith to be able to do that. It takes courage and faith to endure to the end, to be saved. It takes courage and faith to be one of the elect, who's called, chosen, and remains faithful. It takes courage and faith to be true and loyal to one another when times get really hard. So what may we all do to help ourselves, to help our brothers and sisters in Christ grow in courage and faith? Well, brethren, we may genuinely encourage others and ourselves toward greater courage and faith. We all have that capacity to encourage one another. And there is great power in encouragement. So that's what we're going to talk about today.

There's lots to be grateful for in this life, and we're going to focus on encouraging one another. How are we going to encourage ourselves and others to have greater courage and faith? What specifically can we do? We're going to talk about some specific things today that we can do. And today we'll see that Scripture shows us that encouragement does indeed lead to courage and greater faith. We can help each other be stronger by encouraging one another, that's basically what that word means. To encourage, to put courage, to help people be stronger in their walk with God. So brethren, it's important to be reading and studying the scriptures if we're going to grow in courage and faith. I think we can all agree that there's great power in reading the scriptures. And also there's tremendous encouragement from reading the scriptures because this is not a book of gloom and doom. God's book is a very positive, encouraging, wonderful book that we need to mine all the nuggets that are there. And we can do that for a lifetime, and still not know it all, can we? We can continue to study the Bible and be encouraged by it. Paul often encourages the brethren and himself to greater courage and faith by his writings, and it's said that Paul wrote about 24% of the New Testament. So almost a quarter of the New Testament was written by Paul.

Philippians 4:13 In his writings, we read that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I find that to be encouraging because I know Paul wasn't just saying that about himself. He's saying about you and me. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. But you do have to have faith and believe that like Paul did. You know, Paul believed it. That's why he was able to say these things very powerfully.

2 Timothy 4:8 He also said, "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."

He was pretty bold about that. He believed that there is a crown of righteousness laid up for him, but he wasn't just talking about himself. He's talking about you and me. There's also a crown of righteousness laid up for all of us who have the Spirit of God dwelling in us.

Philippians 2:5 Christ said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Paul believed that he had the mind of Christ, and that we also can have the mind of Christ.

Romans 7:24-25 He asked the question, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Because Paul was a realist. He said, "O wretched man that I am." He understood that in the flesh, nothing good dwells, but it's in the spirit that much good dwells. He says, "Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, my Lord."

He believed that God would deliver him from this body of death. We also must believe that God is going to deliver us from this body of death. So we don't need to be stuck in the muck and mire of doom and gloom, because we have a wonderful future ahead of us. And that's where we need to put most of our focus is upon all the wonderful, beautiful, glorious things that God is giving us and has given us, and will continue to give us.

Hebrews 13:5 And Paul also said, "God will never leave us nor forsake us."

If he's the one that wrote the book of Hebrews, and I think he did. Many of us think he likely did. If he did, he was quoting Moses before his death. So let's go to Deuteronomy 31 for the first scripture today, where we'll see where Moses was also encouraging the children of Israel.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Moses says, "Be strong and of good courage."

Now the words "be strong," it's a Hebrew word, chazaq. which is Hebrews 2388 in the Strongs. "Be strong." It's also, we'll see, sometimes translated as encourage. It's the same word. Be strong and of good courage. They go hand in hand. "Do not fear nor be afraid of them. Don't be afraid of your enemies, for the Lord, your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." It was a daunting task to consider that the children of Israel would need to kick out all of those who had been living there for a while, the Canaanites and various others, many different pagan peoples, that God was going to give them the promised land. And so he was going to give them the ability to displace those who were there.

So Moses continually encouraged the children of Israel to move toward the promised land. He did it through his example and his words. We know that Moses had his hands full with the children of Israel. They weren't always the most compliant and encouraging bunch. They had some issues. Now Moses encouraged the children of Israel to encourage their next leader, Joshua, for it was Joshua's task to lead them into the promised land. You remember that Moses died before he entered into the promised land. God let him see the promised land, but God did not allow him to go into the promised land. But He did encourage the people to get behind Joshua. We notice this in Deuteronomy 1:38.

Deuteronomy 1:38 Where it reads, "Joshua the son of Nun who stands before you, he shall go in there, encourage him." Now this is the same word that we used earlier about be strong. Encourage him. That's a chazaq. "Encourage him for he shall cause Israel to inherit it."

That's Deuteronomy 1:38. Moses is telling them to encourage Joshua because Joshua had a big task ahead of him. He had to lead them into this land and he had to overcome all the peoples that were there already. Encouragement does lead to courage. Moses is telling the children of Israel to encourage their new leader. And why do you suppose he was doing that? Because he realized that there were times when he needed encouragement. And I'm sure at times he got encouragement from some of the people. But too often they were not nearly as encouraging as they could have been. In fact, they were saying, "Let's go back to Egypt." That's not very encouraging, is it? When God tells them to go forward and take the promised land.

No, they opposed Moses oftentimes. He did not want that to happen with Joshua, so he was encouraging them to get behind their leader, to get behind Joshua and encourage him. Moses knew that genuine encouragement does lead to greater courage and faith. It's a law that if people are negative, and they'll pull people down. There's even been brain scans that have been done where it'll show if you put the word no, even no, there's different transmitters and things that go off. We don't really like the word no very much. You know, it affects us. We're mostly positive people who, you know, there's stress and other things that occur when we're told no. We like to be told yes. So encouraging one another really does make a difference. It really does lift people up. And it helps them a great deal. What does it mean to encourage? The online etymology dictionary says this word in English comes from an old 15th century French word which means to make strong, to hearten, or to put in courage. So by encouraging someone, we're helping put courage into them because it's a positive reinforcement. It's something good and right and pure and lovely.

Philippians 5:8 And Paul says, "Think on those things, the things that are right and good, things that will lift people up, not things that will drag people down."

So the vast majority of our time should be spent on positively reinforcing all the wonderful things, again, that God shows us in His Word. The Bible is an encouraging book, and we'll see that as we go along and cover a lot of scriptures today. Now in Brown, Drivers, and Briggs, it says that this Hebrew word, which is Strong's 2388, chazaq, means to strengthen, to prevail, to harden, to be strong, to become strong, to be courageous, to be firm, to grow firm, to be resolute, to prevail upon, to encourage, to make bold, to display strength, to strengthen oneself, so we can also encourage ourselves. And we need to be continually doing that. Encourage yourself to do the right thing. And this word can also mean to become mighty, and to behave valiantly. To encourage someone would be to help them behave valiantly, to be men and women of valor, to be strong and faithful people. This word is used over 290 times. It's used 290 times in the Bible. It's not usually translated encourage, though. It's translated all these other words, plus a bunch more that I don't really have the time to read, but they all mean about the same thing. All right, let's go to Deuteronomy 3:28. Here, this is actually God telling David...or I'm sorry, telling Moses.

Deuteronomy 3:28 He says, "But command Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him." So God is the one telling Moses to encourage Joshua and strengthen him, "for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see."

Joshua was Moses' assistant. So he learned from Moses. He saw Moses' faith. And God encouraged Joshua to put his trust in God, and to be strong and of good courage. We read this in Joshua 1:6-7. Joshua 1:6-7. It says, "Be strong." And again, this is the word chazaq, or to encourage.

Joshua 1:6-7 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous."

Now, you can imagine, if you were asked to go to battle tomorrow morning with all the people in Goshen that aren't too far from here, if we went to the land of Goshen, and we were going to have to physically get involved, that'd be a little scary, wouldn't it? It'd be very scary, but that's essentially what happened to the people there. They had to go out and actually fight some battles, right? And that would be pretty scary. I don't think I would like that. I'm glad we're not called upon to do that these days. I think it's far better today that we don't have to do that. We live in different times, new covenant times, not the times that they were living in at this time.

Joshua 1:6-7 So he says, "Be strong and of good courage." He says, "Only be strong and very courageous that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you may prosper wherever you go."

And remember, God said He would never leave them or forsake them. So notice the strong link between obedience to God's law and then receiving the blessings and success that come from God for obedience. By always striving to do the right thing, what God commands and what pleases Him, we do step out in faith, and our belief in strength grows and helps us keep God's commands more fully. So the more we are in tune with God and keeping His commandments, the stronger we will become. The more we compromise with God's law, the weaker we will be. So let's encourage everyone to do the right thing, and to set the right example for one another. To be strong and to encourage, again, are oftentimes the same word, chazaq. The translation depends upon the sense or meaning in the verse. If the scripture is talking about encouraging someone, it means to give someone power. We encourage someone, we give them a certain power because their faith is stronger. They're encouraged by that, by knowing that there are others like them that are seeing things perhaps the way they are, and someone who believes in them, and believes that God is with them.

So we empower ourselves and others with encouraging words, with encouraging beliefs, with encouraging convictions, and also with our actions. All of these things will encourage people. If we step out in faith, then others just might follow us. You know, if we do the right thing, some will say, "Yeah, I'm going to get on board here," but if we don't take that first step, then maybe no one will take the first step. So it is important to be willing to step out in faith, to trust God, and to be a leader among men and women. David also encourages himself. So David was a man after God's own heart. He encouraged himself and others by his writings and his meditations. We could easily take the rest of the sermon just going through David's writings. But I just want to turn to one scripture in regard to David. It's 1 Samuel 30. 1 Samuel 30:6. 1 Samuel 30. I'm sorry, I got the wrong place. 1 Samuel 30:6. Oh, yeah, this is the account with Ziklag.

If you remember the story about Ziklag, David and his men were out and about when people came and abducted all the wives and the children. So when the men came back, they were gone and they knew that they had been abducted, taken away by their enemies. And the men were not happy with David. Because maybe David wasn't thinking, he should have left some people there to safeguard them.

1 Samuel 30:6 It says, "Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him." You know, he's a great leader until he isn't. And then let's stone him. So that's what they were planning to do with David, or at least considering it. "Because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters."

So this is real-life stuff. You know, they were actually taken. So if you put yourself in the shoes of the women and the children who are abducted, it would be rather scary, wouldn't it? And then the men come back and all the women are gone. The children are gone. and they don't know if they're alive or dead. They don't know what's happened to them.

1 Samuel 30:6 “But David strengthened himself in the Lord, his God.”

So the first thought that David really had was, "I need help and God is my strength." So he looked to God for his strength. And then I don't have time to go through the story, but it ends up well. So all the women and the children were saved, and David was restored as the rightful leader that they looked to because he looked to God, and God was his strength. David often speaks of God as, "The God of my salvation." You know, he understood where his salvation lay. It was in the God he served. It wasn't in his strength, it wasn't in anyone else's strength, but it was in God's strength. Now, the Apostle Peter also saw the importance of encouraging himself and others. There are many, many scriptures that we could go to with Peter. Let me go through a few of these. 1 Peter 1:4. But notice how encouraging Peter is.

1 Peter 1:3 He says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

Now we should all keep in mind that Jesus Christ died for us. He laid his life down for us, and the Father laid his life down for us as well, and that is no small thing. You know, when you stop and think about that, that is monumental. It's huge.

1 Peter 1:4 So he's saying, "To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled."

Because we believe in Christ and Him resurrected, and having died for us as our Messiah, our Savior, we have an inheritance that's incorruptible and undefiled, and that does not fade away. It cannot fade away. It's guaranteed. It's reserved in heaven for you. This is what Peter says to the people there.

1 Peter 1:5 "It's reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time."

So we are looking for the last days. We're drawing ever closer to the last days when all of this will come to fruition. When we will have this inheritance and we'll be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye if we're alive. And we will become born into the God family, a child of God. And we have an eternal inheritance that's already reserved for us in heaven. Notice Peter's encouraging words again in 1 Peter 2:9.

1 Peter 2:9-10 "But you are a chosen generation. You're a royal priesthood. You're a holy nation. You're His own special people. God's own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." You know, we've been called out of darkness. But we now walk in light, marvelous light, "Who once were not a people, but now you are the people of God."

So why get bogged down in a lot of negative thought when our future is so great? We are now sanctified and set apart as God's chosen ones to become His children born into His family. We're just waiting for that to happen. We're in line for that to happen. We just need to have faith and remember that and believe that. "You have now obtained mercy."

1 Peter 2:10 It says, "You are now the people of God who had not obtained mercy, but now you have obtained mercy."

We're all under grace. We're under this mercy that God has for us. Peter also said in 1 Peter 2:25.

1 Peter 2:25 "For you were like sheep going astray, but you've now returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls."

Once you've repented of your sins, you've accepted Christ as your Savior, and you've received the Spirit of God, you are no longer a sheep gone astray. You are in the fold. And God is your protector. And he will take care of you. Jesus Christ and the Father, they're not willing that any should perish. That's also what Peter said. He's not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth. God wants to save everyone who's willing. So are you willing? If you're willing, you have nothing to fear.

1 Peter 5:10 Peter says, "But may the God of all grace who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while."

Yes, we may suffer a while. Don't we all have to suffer something in life? You know, all of us have certain things that we will suffer. But we all have that in common as well. We are the household of faith. God allows things to test us, to try us. But as long as we stay faithful, God will see us through every trial that we ever have to face. It may not be ideal. It may not be what we hoped would happen in this life. But God has a wonderful future ahead of us and will bless us for our faithfulness in this life. So don't lose sight of those who have had to suffer greatly will also be rewarded greatly in God's Kingdom.

1 Peter 5:10-11 He says, "After you suffered a while," I'm back to 1 Peter 5:10-11. "After you've suffered a while, He will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever."

We obviously need to put our faith in God because God will settle us. God will strengthen us. God will encourage us.

2 Peter 1:1-4 “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, grace and peace be multiplied to you, and the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”

God has given us everything that matters. Everything that pertains to life and godliness, God has given to us already through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises. We all have exceedingly great and precious promises. We need to claim those promises. We need to have faith in those promises. We need to walk in those promises. And we need to know that God will give us victory because. he says, "You shall become partakers of the divine nature." We are all in the process of becoming partakers of His divine nature. As we learn to produce fruit, the fruit of God's Spirit, as we learn to love each other, as we learn to be more joyful, as we learn to be more patient, more kind, more loving. As we learn to do these things, to be more gentle, to be humble, to be faithful, to learn to control ourselves. That's God's divine nature. That's what God is giving to us.

So you are developing the very nature of God Himself. How good is that? We're becoming more and more like God as we continue to fight the good fight, as we don't give up, as we trust God and have faith in Him. God will continue to bless us and watch over us. Again, the bulk of Scripture is not what I would consider gloom and doom. That's not the Bible. The Bible is very positive. It's very forward-looking to the kingdom of God. And we should be as well. We could go on and read more from Peter, but let's move on to John for just one scripture. It's one that you've heard a million times or close to it, maybe not quite a million, but close.

John 3:16-17 John's the one that said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life." You know, that is a promise. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."

That's each and every one of us, as well as the billions who have not yet been called, who have lived and died throughout history, God is going to open their minds as well. I'm grateful for the truth that God has given to us. It's so important. I guess I mentioned that someone called and said Christ came back in 1918. I'm thinking, "I mean, I don't even want to waste my time with this person because," I told him, I said, "look, you're not going to convince me. And I'm pretty sure I won't convince you." But he wrote me a whole...he sent me a bunch of text. I don't know how...I think he got my name on the website or got my phone number on the website. I get these things on a fairly regular basis, people trying to convince me I'm wrong. He did believe in the Sabbath, though, and the Holy Days, supposedly. I'm not sure how all that worked. I didn't really want to find out. It's too much. All right, so let's talk about someone who's referred to as the son of encouragement. You know who that is, right?

It's Barnabas. Barnabas. None other than Barnabas. In fact, Barnabas is a nickname. That wasn't his real name. Do you know what his real name was? Joses or Joseph.

Acts 4:36 “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles.”

So the apostles got together and said, "Let's name this guy Barnabas. He is the son of encouragement." You can only imagine he was a very encouraging person. He's a great guy to be around. He was a Levite of the country of Cyprus. This Greek word for encouragement that's used here in Acts 4:36, is paraklesis. Kind of reminds you of another word, parakletos, right? You know, there's a connection here. God's spirit is also a spirit of encouragement. It's a very positive spirit. It's something that God wants us certainly to have, to guide us in our lives so we are to be sons of encouragement like Barnabas was.

Barnabas was certainly known for his encouraging nature. Again, it means the son of encouragement. He was greatly instrumental in the Apostle Paul's acceptance by others. Stop and think about it. The Apostle Paul was out having people drug out of their homes and killed, murdered, because they believed in the way. So if one of you was a murderer of other people in this room, I would be very skeptical of that person, right? It would take some time to believe that the person has really changed, and is now a lover of God's people and not a murderer of God's people. So that was the task that Barnabas had. And certainly God was with Barnabas to help him understand that Paul truly was a chosen vessel, that he had turned his life around, and you could trust him. So Barnabas had a big job ahead of him. And for some it took a while undoubtedly to convince them that Paul was genuine, that he wasn't going to turn on them sometime down the road after he figured out who all were the ones who were following the way. In fact, in Acts 11, it talks about Barnabas. Barnabas was an Antioch at the time.

Acts 11:22-26 Says, "When he had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” I think they had sent him...from Jerusalem, they sent him out to Antioch. It says, "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. They were there for a whole year. They assembled with the church. They taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

So a great work was being done in Antioch through Paul and Barnabas. And Barnabas didn't mind playing second fiddle either, did he? I mean, he set a good example of humility, not worried about Paul getting top billing. He was not that concerned. He was just glad to serve and to be a part of everything. And he knew that God had selected Paul for a certain role. And he was there to support him.

So you might ask yourself, how much like Barnabas are you? Now, you may not have the same personality as Barnabas. You may not be, you know, like right out there. And they may not call you the son of encouragement. Just because you're bubbling over with encouragement, that may not be the gift that God has given you necessarily. But God can certainly work with you to encourage others no matter what your temperament or your personality. Because there are more subtle ways to encourage people. Sometimes just a touch of the hand, a hug, a smile. There are ways to encourage people that aren't as right out there. Now, if you're one of those that's out there, that's okay, as long as you're not too far out there. You know, we can overdo that, too. All in good balance. But I would encourage you to be an encourager. You know, God wants us to encourage each other. In Romans 1:11 Paul said, "For I long to see you." I'm in Romans chapter 1:11,

Romans 1:11 Paul says, "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established. That is, that I may be encouraged or comforted," is the King James, "together with you by the mutual faith, both of you and me."

We all have a mutual faith. So we should learn to comfort each other, to encourage each other in our mutual faith. Several examples of God and His leaders encouraging others were mentioned today. But I've just scratched the surface so you can study it out, find more encouraging scriptures than what we've talked about today. Now you and I aren't likely to write a part of the Bible. I don't expect that to ever happen with me. I doubt it will happen with you. If God does, fine. I have no problem if you become a writer of parts of the Bible someday. I don't know if that's...I mean, I think we have the complete Bible the way it is. I suppose God could add things as He sees fit in the future.

But we can still encourage others and ourselves with our writing and our words. So we often overlook or fail to do something that's very easy and not very time consuming, to simply write a note or call someone and express our appreciation, to give encouragement, to someone for something they've done, or maybe they're suffering, they're going through sickness. There are problems. We send out prayer requests. And you might give them a call and say, you know, "I'm praying for you. And just pray that God will bless you and be with you as you go through testing this week." You know, when I send the prayer requests out, hopefully you take the time to look at them, and to actually pray for the people for which we're asked to pray. It doesn't take that long. It takes a few minutes, really. And I know we're busy and I know we have a ton of things going on in our lives. But when you stop and think that there's 24 hours a day, are you able to spend 10 minutes encouraging someone or encouraging a few people by writing a card, or making a phone call, or is it you're just too busy that you can't do that?

You have to answer that question. I have to answer it for myself. I know I could do better. It's easy to get caught up in what it is we want to do. And sometimes it is selfish pursuits. It's more selfish than it is anything else. So you might analyze the time that you spend and ask yourself if you could take 10 minutes a day to spend it a little bit differently, maybe to help someone and to lift them up and to encourage them. Now, sometimes we may think that a certain person is the most loving and caring person in the world because they're always sending cards, they're always doing things. And that may be the case. That may be the case for that person. Or they could just be more self-disciplined. And they've disciplined themselves to do this. If it doesn't get done, what good is it? You know, the scripture talks about those who say, "Be warm and filled." And yet they don't do anything to help that person be warm and to be filled. You know, it's more talk and very little action.

So let's try to encourage ourselves to actually get motivated and make a difference in people's lives. That's important. As members of God's Church, we very often take for granted that others...especially the most experienced and seemingly most confident ones are entirely self-sustaining, and they never need encouragement. Joshua and Moses needed encouragement. So is there anyone here stronger than they are? I doubt it. You know, I think we probably all need some encouragement, so don't assume that your words of encouragement won't make a difference to someone, to anyone. Like Peter, Paul, and John that we read about, Moses, David, always leave people with the most positive vision of their futures. no matter what they're going through, you know, help them, remind them of things. Don't be overbearing. You know, sometimes people don't want to hear certain things. So you have to know when and how to share certain things with people. But what an amazing gift we can offer to others through encouragement.

When we encourage someone, we help place courage in them. We help them be stronger spiritually. And that's so important. Encouragement can provide people with strength to look ahead, to move forward, to reach for their next goal, not to give up. You know, there's so many stories of people that don't have God's Spirit, that continue to persevere and to prevail because someone encourages them. I have no doubt that people have not committed suicide because they got a card at the right time, or they got a phone call at the right time. So be sensitive to what's going on around you, and try to make a difference in people's lives. All right, let's go to one last scripture, 2 Corinthians 1.

And as we do that, again, ask yourself, how can you be a person who offers more encouragement. Well, simply put, an encourager is someone who empowers others with courage to forge ahead when they may be tempted to throw in the towel and give up. They're not insincere flatterers. Sometimes people don't want to say anything because they think, "They'll think I'm just flattering them." Well, if it's not true, then why think that? If it's sincere, if it's genuine, then go ahead. Most encouragers are not motivational speakers. They're not rah-rah, sis-boom-bah, cheerleader types. They're just normal people. And most importantly, they're friends. If we're friends with one another, then what we say will encourage one another. If we know that they care for us, that we love them, that they're our friends, then getting an encouraging word from someone like that means a lot. Encouragers point us to the true sources of encouragement. They point us to God the Father, and to Jesus Christ, our big brother who loves us, who really does care for us. And we see that in 2 Corinthians 1:3.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our tribulation." We could use the word encourage here too. "Who encourages us in all of our tribulations that we may be able to comfort or encourage those who are in any trouble with the comfort or encouragement with which we ourselves are comforted and encouraged by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now, if we're afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation." Again, God allows us to be afflicted for our own...to perfect us, to help us grow spiritually. He says, "Which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.” We're all in this together. We all suffer various ways at various times. “For if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will be partaker of the consolation."

So anyone who suffers will also be encouraged. Anyone who suffers will be consoled because God is the God of all comfort. And it is from God that we draw that strength to continue to fight the good fight and to go on. Brethren, there's great power in encouragement. Encouragement leads to greater strength, to greater courage, to greater faith. So brethren, let us all encourage one another. Let us all be stronger, more courageous, more faithful. And as a result, no doubt, we will all be more pleasing to God. And that is our goal.