Every One Needs Encouragement

Every One Needs Encouragement

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV)
"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us
and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word
."

One resolution all of us should make this year is to be an encourager.
We should dedicate ourselves to encourage others.

Everybody needs encouragement!
Don't you get discouraged at times?

I read about a football coach who was having a very bad year.
He was so discouraged.
It got so bad it even affected his home life.
He said, "My dog is my only friend."
He told his wife, "A man needs at least two friends."

So, she bought him another dog.

None of us can get too much encouragement.
Have you ever heard anybody say, "Stop encouraging me. I don't need it any more."

Everyone need encouragement.

Have you heard the story about a preacher who was deathly sick in the hospital.
Following the deacons meeting, the deacon secretary sent him a get well card
on behalf of the deacon body, with this note penciled in:
"Your deacons have voted to pray for your recovery by a vote of 15 to 5."

We all need encouragement, and others need it from all of us.
So, where do we start?

The best place to start is at the source of all encouragement.
The Lord is the source of all encouragement.
Our Lord is an example we must emulate.

The Devil is the discourager.
When Jesus said that we are for Him or against Him, I believe that is true of encouragement.

Even those who do sit by and do nothing are discouragers.
When they sit by and do nothing, that is discouraging.
They are saying by their silence and inactivity, that God's work is not important to them.
And that is discouraging to those who are striving to do their best.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we read that the Lord is the source of all encouragement.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion
and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God
."

You may say, "I never heard the word, 'encouragement,' in that passage."
That is true, but the word translated "comfort" is precisely the same Greek word
commonly translated, "encouragement," throughout the New Testament.

That is true for the word translated, "consolation."
It is the same Greek word that is used in this text in 2 Thessalonians 2.
It is a form of the word "parakaleo," which literally means, "to call alongside."
That word in its various forms is used throughout the New Testament.

So, the Greek word for encouragement depicts something
or someone called alongside of you to help you, to strengthen you, to assist you.
That's what real encouragement does.
It does more than sympathize, it strengthens.

The English word "encourage" is a compound of the prefix "en,"
which means, "to put into," and the word, "courage," meaning "confidence, or strength."
To encourage literally means to put courage into someone.

To "discourage" is to take courage away from someone.
An encourager builds you up, strengthens you, and increases your courage.

Paul says that God is the source of all such encouragement.
He says that part of the reason He encourages us is to equip us, in turn, to encourage others.

So, if we want to learn how to be expert encouragers,
we have to start by studying the God of all encouragement.
Paul says here that Christ Himself and God the Father are our encouragers.

The Devil is our discourager.

When we encourage someone, we are acting like Jesus,
and when we discourage someone -- well, you know who we are acting like -- it's not Jesus.
We make a deliberate choice in every situation
as to whether we will be an encourager or a discourager.

There's an ancient fable that tells about the devil auctioning off his tools.
He had different tools (lust, envy, jealousy, pride, and so forth.)

But there was one tool that he priced so highly that no one could afford it,
and the Devil said, "I really don't want to sell it anyway because it's my favorite tool."
It was a well-worn tool, and in this make-believe story, someone said, "Well, what is that tool?"
And he said, "That tool is discouragement."
He said, "I use that tool to pry open a life, and when I pry open a life with discouragement
I can get inside and do all kinds of other damage with my other tools
."

There is a great truth behind that old fable.
The Devil uses discouragement to weaken, to immobilize us, and to divide us.
And when we are discouragers, we are the tool that he uses.

Everybody needs encouragement.

Encouragement comes from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3, "The God of all encouragement …"
The word, "all," includes all kinds of encouragement.
God gives all kinds of encouragement in all kinds of situations to all kinds of people.

Why does He do this?
It is because He loves us.
Look at verse 16, "God…who loved us…"
That why we must encourage others -- because we love them!

Remember, that we have been commanded by Jesus to love God with all our heart, and all our soul,
and with all our strength and to love others like we love ourselves. Now listen to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 with this in mind:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion,
and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in all our troubles,
so that we can encourage those in any trouble with the encouragement we ourselves have received from God
."

God not only encourages us to encourage us,
He encourages us so that we will encourage others.

We are the body of Christ!
He use us to speak words of hope to the discouraged and despairing.

Verse 16 says "God loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope…"
There is only one thing that can give us eternal encouragement,
and that is the assurance of eternal life.
Of all the encouragement we need, nothing compares to the encouragement
that comes from being assured of eternal life and to know that death will not defeat us.
When you know that you have an eternal inheritance in heaven,
it sure helps to defeat the discouragement when we suffer disappointments here on earth.

"May our Lord…encourage your hearts…" (Verse 17)
Everyone here has had their share of heartaches.

Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer, fought a severe battle with discouragement;
and so did Charles Spurgeon - perhaps the greatest preacher since Paul.
Paul testifies in 2 Corinthians 2:4,
"For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears…"

Praise God, He can mend broken hearts and He will encourage those who have "lost heart."
Jesus spoke encouragement to those whose hearts were troubled when He said in John 14:27,
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world can give.
Do not let your hearts be troubled; and do not be afraid
."

If you are have lost heart for ....service...witnessing...to invite...to encourage...
Then, it is probably because someone laid a hurt on you.
... someone ...criticized...threw discouagement at you.
Why is it as Christians, that we feel we must put others down to put across our plans.

This is not like Jesus.
Jesus will bring encouragement to your hurting heart.
The Psalmist wrote this in Psalm 10:17-18, "You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted;
You encouragement them, and You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed
."

Look at how the 17th verse proceeds, "May our Lord…strengthen you in every good deed and word."
So, the Lord encourages us for our comfort and reassurance and to motivate us
to encourage others.

When Grammy-award winning country music singer Naomi Judd learned
she had a debilitating liver disease, she said in Reader's Digest, January, 1992,
"This is not my tombstone; it's a steppingstone."

That's what God does for us. Through His encouragement, we can accomplished that which is beyond our abilities

Our Lord encourages us individually, and He encourages us corporately - as His people.
God would have us to be united in our fellowship.
Romans 15:5, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
."
God encourages us to be united as His people.
That is what brings glory to God.

God would have us to be united in our witness.
Acts 9:31, "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.
It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers living in the fear of the Lord
."

The Spirit of God encouraged the church, and still does.
The result of the encouragement was numerical growth as well as spiritual growth
The Holy Spirit encouraged the church to continue to fervently proclaim Christ to all they encountered.
The Holy Spirit then gave spiritual fruit when they did proclaim Christ,
and that encouraged them that God was in their witness.

Remember Job.
Job was a successful, God-fearing, clean-living businessman.
Satan, the discourager, attacked Job.
He loses his herds and he loses his children.
His wife tells him to curse God and die.
Folks, we must listen to God as Job did.

Job endured great physical suffering.
His friends were judging Job.
They told him that he had brought this trouble on himself.
Job was not encouraged by his so-called friends. If I criticize you, it had better be in love and it had better be because I love you.
I have no right to criticize you if I don't love you.
And if I criticize you, it had better be to make things better,
and I better pray and seek God's will and help in doing so, or I will hurt not help.
After any criticism, we must come through it loving each other.

Job said, "When I looked for light, then came darkness.
The churning inside me never stops
…" (Job 30:26-27)
Then later, God showed Job The great univers that He had created.
God showed Job that He was in charge and that He had not forgotten Job.

That's the encouragement Job needed.
He didn't need an explanation from God.
He needed an experience with God.

Job responded by saying,
"I know that You can do all things. No plan of Yours can be thwarted."
God gave even greater prosperity to Job.
The Bible says God gave him twice as much as he had before.
Job 42:12 says, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first…"

That is what God is ready to do for us!
And as we get closer to receiving God's great blessings,
The Discourager will try his best to divide us.

I believe that you and I are determined to step unafraid into water.
We are at the edge of the promised land of God's great blessing.
Come on!
Let's cross over and don't look back!

"I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong.
But in every tribulation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.

I thank God for the mountains
And I thank Him for the valleys,
And I thank Him for the storms He's brought me through.
For if I never had a problem,
I'd never know that God could solve them.
I'd never know what faith in Him could do
."


God is cheering us you on!
All heaven is watching!
The eternal God, creator of all the vast universe,
has a personal, loving, encouraging interest in us.
"Here am I, Lord, use me to be an encourager?"

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White