Ruth Buell is an Elder, our Bookkeeper, and the Director of S.I.S.T.E.R.S. She is an avid student of the Word and ministers a couple times per month to our women. Ruth preached for us recently during a Midweek Gathering (01.25.17). God gave her an encouraging Word for our congregation. Here are some excerpts from that message.
My topic is about encouragement. We’re starting a new year. Start fresh with the Lord. We are to encourage one another in the Lord. Hebrews 10.23-25 was our memory verse two years ago. In S.I.S.T.E.R.S. we have a Scripture and we meditate on it for the year. There’s a few of us who memorize it, but we glean from it and chew on it all year long.
Hebrews 10.23-25: Let us hold fast to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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 of Christ’s return.
I like to dissect this so here we go. “Let us hold fast,” unswervingly, always strong, never weakening, “to the hope we profess,” the Gospel of Christ, our salvation. “For he who promised is faithful. And let us consider,” think about doing something about it, “how we can spur,” encourage on, provoke one another, “toward love and good deeds, 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 of Christ’s return.” We hear people talking about “Christ is coming.” We need to encourage each other to continue this race we’re on.
Hebrews 3.13 says, “But encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today.’” We don’t know about tomorrow. We just know about today. I love the fact that God is “I Am.” He was in our yesterday. He will be in our tomorrow. But He’s a God of today. “So that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We need encouragement so we aren’t hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. The enemy doesn’t waste time, doesn’t take a vacation.
Encouragement is vital to the life of a church. It keeps us in step with the unity of the church. Hearts and minds are focused, being one, one voice and attitude of mind. People are inspired to serve, because we’re on the same page. We’re on the same page with the Lord and what God is doing among us. Encouragement is so important and vital to the church that God commands it. He tells us to, “encourage one another daily.”
So what is encouragement? The King James uses the word “exhort.” Many other translations use the word “encouragement.” Exhort and encouragement come from the Greek word paraklesis, which means to call to one’s side, to summon, encourage, admonish, entreat. Admonish is to warn and rebuke, correcting, teaching, instructing.
So to exhort is to develop relationships with other believers, community of faith, for the purpose of encouraging them in their spiritual growth. It is through the Word of God that we encourage. It’s not pep talks. For pep talks you need to be there lifting that person up, and then they fall when you leave the room. But it’s through the Word of God, because it doesn’t return to us void. It encourages, strengthens the inner man, comforts us, and guides us.
“Let us hold fast,” stand strong church, unswervingly, always strong, never weakening. Holding on, “to the hope we profess;” what are we claiming? “For he who promised is faithful. And let us consider,” think about, “how we can spur,” encourage and provoke, “one another on to love and good deeds, 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 of Christ’s return.”
So may this New Year be one for our church, our community of faith, because we have to bring it home . . . May our church be the hands and feet of Christ to create a strong environment of encouragement among us through the Holy Spirit, as we continue to grow in unity and mature in the Lord.
[Previous audio sermons are archived, but still available, and may be ordered at our Welcome Center]