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Monday, August 15, 2016

Giving REAL Courage - Encouragement Part 2 by Jim Wine

All of us need encouragement to navigate distresses and difficulties. We can’t do it alone. But, PLEASE don't give someone false encouragement. Give them the REAL thing!

Merriam Webster defines encouragement as “something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.”  Sounds good, right?  But let’s face it, the “something” that makes someone more hopeful could be the result of, say, deception or drugs.  This might provide short-term encouragement, but the long-term consequences might be devastating. So, Yes! We need encouragement, but it needs to be based on truth.

And that, my friend, is “the rub.”  TRUTH.  Encouragement is based on hope. And the definition of "hope" is the expectation of future good.  Or, as Webster says: “to expect with confidence.” How can we give true, confident  hope to people if we don’t know the future?

This is important.  I want you “get this”. Knowledge about the future can ONLY come from someone who knows the future.

And there is only One who truly knows the future: God.  If you understand this, then you will readily realize: True, reliable hope only comes from what God says.

And there is only ONE RELIABLE PLACE to know what God says: the Bible.

The issue must be clearly stated:

People are so hungry for encouragement and hope that they are automatically predisposed to receive it – even if it is based on mere opinion, deception, wishful thinking or mythology.  And, for some people, who have seen this form of false hope dished out so often, even in churches, they have become inoculated against even REAL encouragement. How sad for someone to reject REAL, living hope because they have been conditioned to distrust the encouragement that others offer. So let’s “get to it!”  What, actually, does God say that would encourage us, or give us hope?

What a question! The Bible is a literal gold mine of hope and encouragement!  You can almost poke it in any location and it will bleed with hope, encouragement, offers of life, renewal and grace. Consider these amazing, certain, and unambiguous statements by God for those who believe in Jesus:

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,Heb 13:5.
Please listen to what God says to His followers: “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.” Do you feel forsaken? Do you feel alone? You are not!  “Forsake” means to abandon and leave someone without help or resources. As a believer in Jesus, you are never forsaken by Him. Never!  He is right there. Knowing you. Praying for you. Watching over you. God never forsakes His children. But that is not all…Jesus is preparing a place for your future:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” John 14:1-3.
This clear statement about the future indicates without doubt that Jesus is preparing a place for those who believe in Him. And He WILL come again to receive His people. He also promises relationship: “Where I am, you may be also.” Imagine it: you will walk and talk with Jesus as a personal friend. Yes, He is your Lord and King, but He is your friend as well. Consider this amazing statement by Jesus regarding His return:

“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.” Luke 12:37.

What?! Are you kidding me?!  Is Jesus, the Lord of the universe going to serve those He loves when He comes?  Yes, He is.  These words are directly from His mouth, and He never lies. Have you considered recently the kindness and humility of the Master whom you love and serve? Have you considered how intimately aware He is of your current suffering?  Please remember that this Jesus who loves you has not forsaken you. He is with you. And not only that, He is preparing a future dwelling place so that you can be with Him forever.  And not only that, but He is determined to serve those “alert” servants who never stop watching and waiting. Look at the words underlined below:

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

Listen. These verses make clear the connection between future HOPE and current ACTION.  Without hope, your action will not be appropriate. Why are the servants ready? Why will they be able to open the door “immediately?”  Because they know something about the future. They have hope: a confident expectation about the future. And so what do they do? They watch. They are ready. They keep their lamps lit. They don’t give up. They keep going against all odds. They persevere. They don’t lose heart. They are focused. They believe what God has said.


My question for you: Do you believe what God says? If you do, your hope will be strengthened and you will have courage to continue. Please be encouraged. Your fight for hope really matters. Oh that you would meditate on God’s promises. There are so many! God bless you dear friend.

For further study. Here are some other wonderful statements in the Bible that I love. How wonderful is the future for those who trust in Jesus.

(Verses are from the NASB)
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 2 Cor 4:16-17.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us, Rom 8:31-34.

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,  Heb 6:17-19.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, John 11:25.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:35-39.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor 15:58.
Psalms 37:1-11 (words that indicate the future are underlined)
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

All encouragement not based on God’s Word is an unsure foundation for the future.
On the other hand, God can never lie, and He knows every detail about the future.
If God said it, we can be confident that it will happen exactly as He has described.
He is watching. May we keep our hearts firmly rooted in biblical hope, and pass along REAL courage to others.

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