Intro: Focusing today on Encouraging one another from I Thess 5:11. (Read)
What does it mean to encourage one another?
Consider the word: To urge, exhort, implore, comfort, plead, appeal, entreat.
Consider the historic context: The Thessalonian church was started with much affliction. And they continued to endure persecution and hardship with faithfulness and perseverance. Paul is exhorting them to continue to encourage and build up one another especially as they understand the reality of the coming of Christ.
Connection: We too are living in a day of growing hostility toward Christianity. We anticipate the great day of the Lord to come and rapture His bride from this earth. As with every generation of Christians, we live with a since of alertness to these final days and anticipate our coming King. As we wait, we should continue to encourage one another and build one another up.
How do we do that? How is it possible to not be consumed with my own trials and tribulations, but rather consider the interests of my Christian family members? How can we go about encouraging one another ?
The gospel answers this for us. The Paraclete is our encouragement/ comforter who gives the strength to encourage one another. See John 16:4-7
But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
Look at the example of Barnabas. In the Bible he is identified as the “son of encouragement”. What characteristics to we see in a person who is encouraging, and how might we emulate these characteristics?
Acts 4:36-37 -Generous. (Make mention of the generosity of Hillcrest members.
Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 9:26-27- Forgiving.
And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
Acts 11:19-26 -Faithful.
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
Transition: As much as Barnabas is a good example of encouragement, so to is one of our own a great example of encouragement. Honoring Ron Branham for his faithfulness in encouraging the saints at Hillcrest.
1. Final points of application. Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
a. In order to obey the exhortation to encourage one another, we must be together.
b. This is a part of what Paul was saying to the Thessalonian church in ! I Thessalonians 1:8
b. One great opportunity to be together is what we are doing right now. How many of us walked in looking for someone to encourage? Its not wrong looking for encouragement, however, its hard to ever receive encouragement if we are not together.
2. Another great opportunity to be together for mutual encouragement is a small group. (briefly explain)
3. We can encourage one another when we are together, but also when we are apart. What are some practical ways you have tried to urge, exhort, implore, comfort, plead, appeal, entreat?
Conclusion: A challenge for each of us to find one person to offer a genuine word of encouragement to this week.