Spiritual Discipline

Encouragement

Quite often my spiritual counsel with people is a discussion as to their church or religion. It helps them to feel comfortable as a beginning point in discussion about their spiritual walk. We all know that religion or attending a church does not save you, but for many of us, it is where or how we are directed into a relationship with Jesus Christ and plays a great role in helping us to grow spiritually. God uses the church, "the people", to lead us to HIM and to be the encouragers to whom other believers depend on for spiritual growth.

It is said that the average person meets some 10,000 people during the course of their lives. Most of those encounters are unremarkable - people that don't really impact our life at all. There are others though whose lives may deeply, or even profoundly, touch our own. My first grade teacher and my first leader of our missions' ministry are two people, who after 50 years, I cannot only tell you their name, but what they taught me that was so valuable. One taught me how to fight for what I believe, and the other showed me kindness and respect like I had never witnessed in a man. Both Godly people are a part of my ministry today!

My elementary school teacher taught me to journal my thoughts and not to worry about correct spelling. My wife will testify that I still am doing the same today. She reminded me, that this is how the Bible started. She said God wants you to learn to use your mind, and she was to teach us how to write down our thoughts, the matters of the heart, our hopes, and our fears. We had four grades in one class, but at the end of each day we would hand her our journals for her to read. And each night she read them and wrote a few words in response. Her replies were always encouraging, always personal, always caring and she helped you believe in yourself. Her life touched mine, as I remember her writing, "Great thoughts, now believe you can do them!"

The Bible is full of encouragement and the church is where we go for that encouragement. We all want to be a part of an encouraging church. One like Hebrews 10:19-25 describes. It was what the man taught me that went hand in hand with what the teacher taught. He taught that discouragement is a thief. It steals your joy, your zeal, your peace, your passion and it robs you of hope. It leads to discontentment, disillusionment and a life that is full of disarray. It leads to despair, to depression, to frustration, to exhaustion and often to bitterness of one's very soul, and if it endures long enough, it can even rob you of the will to live. Steal your self worth, your soul!

How hard is it to give a word of encouragement? Give a simple note, a phone call, a visit, a Scripture verse, an act of love and kindness? Scripture tells us that such encouragement can turn one from sin to salvation. Hebrews 3:12 It moves the timid to boldness. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 It builds others up for the work of the kingdom. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 It comforts the afflicted. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 It consoles the grieving. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 And it spurs others on to love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Such encouragement should not be postponed for even a moment, for we never know what the future holds or what a simple word or act can mean. Encouragement leads to excellence and passion as it inspires us to push ourselves beyond what we thought was possible. Encouragement can go a long way to healing the hurts of the past, to moving beyond the pain of the present, and entering into a future filled with hope.

Watch what you say and who you listen to! There are many discouraging voices. Things like: "You can't do that. This isn't possible. What were you thinking? You're no good. Can't you do anything right? You'll never amount to anything. You'll never change. Why bother? What's wrong with you?" These words can be etched in our mind, and if not careful, we might start to believe them about ourselves. You will not hear these coming from the people of God... We are (according to the scripture) supposed to "spur one another on to love and good deeds." That is the encouragement we as believers are to do until He returns. The truth is...I believe you have significance; your life is going to amount to something. But the question is...do you believe?

Holy Father, I come to join Your kingdom through faith in Christ, to be identified with You through Your Son, to acknowledge You as God and turn my life over to You...turning from sin and embracing the things of righteousness. Help me to encourage others to know Your heart. In Jesus name I pray, Amen! YES or NO

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