This morning my thoughts are on the very simple idea of encouragement. Two passages come to my mind.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25not 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.
This verse is a reminder that gathering together as God’s people is an essential element in our lives as disciples of Christ.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:18
The “these words” about which Paul is talking are his teachings in verses 13-17 about Jesus’ return in glory at the end of this present age. He will usher in an eternal era of peace with the promise of a restored paradise. Paul is comforting the saints who have lost loved ones. I thought of this verse this morning when I realized that it was June 11. It was a year ago that my mom went to be with the Lord. June 11, the very day that would have been her wedding anniversary, is when I believe mom decided it was time to go to be with Jesus. She had fought the good fight. So I am encouraged that my mom and my dad were reunited a year ago today!
Saints we are encouraged by worshipping Jesus, and we are encouraged by waiting for Jesus.
Encourage. This may seem simple, but please don’t ignore in this word the presence of the word courage. This is not a linguistic accident. To encourage is to build or foster courage in someone. In His word God often says fear not, be strong and of good courage, I am with you. These kinds of reminders were given, for example, to Joshua (Joshua 1:9), to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5), to the Apostles (Matt 28:18-20) and to the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:9).
The days in which we live are no different than the times throughout all of history. God’s people always need to be encouraged in the face of shifting cultural trends that tempt us to disbelieve and disobey. We need the encouragement that comes from one another. We need the hope that someday the kingdom that already is will come in its fullness. Public worship is the important declaration that we believe in Jesus, will stand up for Jesus and will wait for Jesus, despite the trends around us.