Tag Archives: Encouragement

The Secret

NCV Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

We read the Scripture because we believe they were “written to teach us.” Learning from them is a very good reason but I don’t think that alone would keep us coming back day after day or account for the impact the Bible has had for such a long time on so many lives. There’s something far more personal happening “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

We read because we believe our faith is a gift from God that we want to learn about. We read because we believe our relationship to Jesus has brought us grace and forgiveness. We come back and read some more because we discover within those pages there’s something that gives those ancient words new life for today. We read because the secret of endurance and encouragement lies within us, the Holy Spirit – hope, that has promised to reveal the mystery of our personal connection to God and help us navigate in this foreign land we call life.

Encouragement

2 Thessalonians 1:3 – Four Versions
3 Dear brothers, giving thanks to God for you is not only the right thing to do, but it is our duty to God because of the really wonderful way your faith has grown and because of your growing love for each other. TLB

3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. ESV

3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; NASB

3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. NIV

The version of the Bible you read is a trusted source but it’s interesting to look at the same verse in different versions and note their similarities and differences in phrasing. It’s a way to amplify the bottom line of their truth. It’s so easy to read and agree but miss their importance to your own life.

1. Regarding thanks:
Dear brothers giving thanks to God for you
We ought always to give thanks to God for you [2]
We ought always to thank God for you
2. Regarding who:
brothers [2], brethren, brothers and sisters
3. Regarding why:
the right thing to do, but it is our duty,
as is right,
as is only fitting
and rightly so
4. Regarding faith:
wonderful way your faith has grown
your faith is growing abundantly
your faith is greatly enlarged
your faith is growing more and more
5. Regarding relationships:
growing love for each other
love of every one of you toward one another
love of each one of you toward one another
love all of you have for one another
6. Regarding growth:
growing, increasing [2], grows ever greater

Regarding 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Giving thanks to God for the growing faith you see in a brother or sister is “the right thing to do.” Seeing the power of faith at work in someone else’s life teaches us to trust God and encourages us.

Faith is personal but it’s not solitary. When we speak [or write] to that someone to let them know their growth has become part of our own faith it honors God and encourages them. That’s how “the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater…” and becomes a reality people can see.

Focus

branchribbons

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4

Romans 8 is encouragement “for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It’s a good plan, designed to redirect our focus away from the necessary consequences of God’s disapproval because of the rules we could not keep, to “sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” to become the living example of a new option.

That Advent changed our focus completely. Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of God’s promise to redirect our focus so “the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” It’s more than celebrating the historical birth of Christ “His”story has become our story too. That’s worth celebrating year after year!

Relationship, Not Rules

Colossians 2
Thoughts:
I have this theory that the little “stops” that occur when I read Scripture happen for a reason. Those are the things I need to think and write about. Unfortunately the verses that kept stopping me in this chapter were all those ones I don’t like…about “rules.” I like rules well enough when I make them, but I don’t think they “bring” me, or anyone else, “to fullness.”

Just how can perfectly reasonable rules become a problem you ask? Here’s the real warning: “8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” That happens when we settle for rules becoming:
…a means of control for ourself or others
…a way we cover up our inadequacies
…the evidence of our faith
…a substitute for living “in Christ”

“Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness…13b…God made you alive with Christ.”

The chapter may have a lot to say about rules but these few verses are filled with words of encouragement: continue, rooted, built up, strengthened and brought to fullness. God has made “you alive with Christ” to be his voice in your small part of the world with this message of encouragement.   Fullness is about Relationship, Not Rules.

I borrowed this from Richard Dahlstrom’s blog http://stepbystepjourney.com/?p=1605
“ ‘All of us know our inadequacies pretty well – what we need is to be told how much we’re loved, where we’re gifted, where we can shine.’ ”

Tell someone today.

Making a Connection

Hebrews 10
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Thoughts:
The first thing that came to my mind when I read “not giving up meeting together” was Sunday School. I’m not talking about “school” where you sit and someone tells you what you’re supposed to know. I’m talking about a Sunday place where we actually have the opportunity to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” It’s easy for us to see the value of Sunday School for children but for many adult believers, Sunday school is not on their radar. That’s a missed opportunity.

The success story of a recent adult Sunday school class became these words of Jesus; “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” What was it we were supposed to deny ourself of? Was taking up that cross only about personal sacrifice or did it include the burden of personal flaws as well? Was that cross meant to just be a discipline or was it something that connected us to Christ and each other?

One woman shared her personal experience of learning from Christ what it was like to take up her cross and follow him. She pleaded with him to take her cross and he did, because it was too big and heavy. She chose a much smaller cross instead and for a while that seemed good. After a time though, that cross started to feel too big and heavy too, just as the original one had. She went to Christ once more and he agreed to let her leave that heavy cross with him again and choose the smaller one again. That was when Jesus spoke this truth to her; the cross that seemed so small to her…now…was the original one she’d left with him before. Think about that.

That Sunday school discussion went beyond agreement to become a lesson in faith. Christ is ready to help us deal with our cross, over and over again. That’s “the full assurance that faith brings…for he who promised is faithful.”

That kind of Sunday school is where one person’s faith can add insight that encourages your own. That’s growth.

That kind of Sunday school is about the opportunity to give the depth of personal experience with Christ a face other than your own. That’s intimacy.

That kind of Sunday school is Making a Connection with Christ and other believers.

Oh, and there’s donuts and coffee too! Hope to see you there this Sunday.