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Life Group - 3.14.20

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Discussion: Encouragement.

Last Sunday we discussed the spiritual gift of encouragement.
Encouragement is important, both in our everyday lives and spiritual lives.
Encouragement simply defined is, “giving someone courage and confidence to do something,” but as a spiritual gift, I defined it this way:
The spiritual gift of helping someone live in God’s promises and plans for their life.
This can happen in 3 main ways:
Giving someone strength thru encouragement.
What’s one way you’ve done that or had it done to you?
Giving someone comfort thru encouragement.
How have you experienced that?
Encouraging someone courage and confidence to walk in God’s promises and plans.
Any stories on that one?
Such an important gift, especially since we live in a fallen world; let alone in a spiritual dark part of the country. Where there are forces trying to beat us down and keep us from living for God.
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
So, the spiritual gift of encouragement is a blessing to the church!
...But, encouragement - like many of the gifts - has a natural expression that can be beneficial too. And as Christians, we are called to encourage one another often - even if we don’t have the spiritual gift.
For example, this morning I read something interesting...
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 ESV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Paul says we should encourage one another with the thought of Jesus’ return. And I thought to myself, “Usually, I rarely think about this.” I know that sounds bad...
But lately, I HAVE been thinking about this… Maybe because I’ve personally been struggling lately. Not anything to worry about, but I’m just tired.
Anyone been tired lately?
What’s been making you tired?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being tired, especially when we’re taking the mission of God seriously.
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The writer of Hebrews compares our mission and life to a race. Now, I wasn’t running a race on Tuesday, but I did run 13 miles. And after, I was tired! Being tired is part of running. It’s part of a race. And I think it’s part of our mission. That’s why the writer of Hebrews says:
If you want to finish the race, you got to “lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely...”
That’s like when I run, I got to make sure I’ve got the right equipment and using it correctly; if not, it’s going to weigh me down. And it’ll be hard to finish. Running is tiring enough. I don’t need extra stuff making me tired!
He also says, “run with endurance...” You only build up endurance thru training. And training is hard. It takes energy. It makes you tired.
We also must “look to Jesus.”
That takes focus.
We’re also looking to Jesus because this race is hard and we need His help.
It makes us tired!
But… “there is joy set before us.” When we finish the race, it’ll be worth it! But we’ll be tired.
I guess I mention all of this because in this season of being tired… I’m really encouraged by the thought of Jesus’ return. The day when this race will be over. The day when I will cross the finish line and enter into rest.
Because you know what:
Races don’t go on forever. There’s always a finish line.
And after the race, there is rest.
Honestly, I’m looking forward to that perfect rest! It’s my hope as I look to the future. That one day, I will forever be with Him. One day, we will all be with Him. And at that point, there will be eternal rest.
It gives me strength.
It gives me comfort.
It gives me confidence and courage to walk by faith in God’s promises.
I need encouragement to give me those things because I’m tired… as I should be. I/We’ve been running! Running hard!
So, I’m hoping that’s an encouragement to you today. To keep running and one day you’ll finish. And Jesus will be there to celebrate with us! And we’ll have rest forever.
What’s something you’re encouraged by or about?
What’s one way you can encourage someone?
Let me challenge us to all be encouraged by Jesus and His return. That’s a real event. It will happen. So, it should offer us real joy!
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