Do you feel discouraged lately? Do you find it difficult to make it through the week without being discouraged? Me too. I have discovered that I don’t need to look for discouragement. Instead, it looks for me. So I want to help myself and you to Be Encouraged! For the next several weeks, I want to share with you some scriptures that will help you to be encouraged and to encourage others.
Our theme verse for this series will be Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This instruction was written to a congregation that was suffering persecution. Because of the persecution, many had stopped attending the worship services. When Christians stop attending worship, they miss out on the encouragement found in the fellowship of other believers. This instruction also points our hope in the direction of the future return of Jesus. No matter how discouraging life is, Jesus is coming back. That truth will encourage you today.
So what are some ways that you can find encouragement? Let’s begin by making a list of the ways that help us to be encouraged. Here’s a short list to get you started.
- Our best source of encouragement is God. Philippians 4:13 (GW) states, “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” What a great statement of faith. Paul was able to say this because he had already suffered through some of life’s most dire physical difficulties; yet, he was able to overcome because of the strength God gave him. If we have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, then we know that God provides everything we need for daily life. We can endure the discouragement of life because God gives us strength and encouragement. God is the best source of encouragement we have. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.
- Another great source of encouragement is The Bible. Romans 15:4 (CEV) states, “The Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope.” In the Bible, we find wonderful promises from God to give us encouragement and hope. We can memorize Bible promises to help encourage us during difficult times. We find stories of people we can identify with in the Bible. We see how God worked in their life, and that gives us encouragement and hope of how God is going to work in our life. We also find in the Bible examples of how to pray and pour out our heart to God when we need encouragement.
- Another source of encouragement is Other Christians. Romans 1:12 (NLT) states, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Paul understood the importance of getting together with other Christians. He understood how that fellowship encouraged everyone in the group. He enjoyed encouraging others in their faith, and he also desired to be encouraged by the faith of others.
- Another source of encouragement is Music. Ephesians 5:19 (NIV) states, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” We each enjoy music, and we each prefer different styles of music. The instruction here to speak to one another with music includes a variety of music—psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. When we hear the Bible scriptures put to music or hear Christian lyrics in a song, it encourages us. When we listen to a style of music that we prefer that also has Christian lyrics, the music is encouraging. Music is a source of encouragement.
What other sources of encouragement would you add to this list? I might add food, celebrations with the family, or a good day at work. I’m sure you can think of others. But here is the dilemma. Some of the same sources of great encouragement can also be a great discouragement. If God doesn’t do what we want and when we want it, we might be discouraged. If other Christians don’t do what we want, we might be discouraged. These two examples display our selfishness, but it does happen. Music can discourage us too if the lyrics remind us of a sad event. So if you were to list all the sources of encouragement alongside of all the sources of discouragement, I’m sure you would see some overlap. We can’t hide from or escape discouragement. However, we can find encouragement.
My advice to you is to practice the activities that encourage you. Even though we know that some of the activities that encourage us will also discourage us, we must make a deliberate choice to practice the activities that encourage us. If we need encouragement, then we must seek it out by engaging in activities that will encourage. Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV) states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
We understand the reality of life. We understand that life has its encouraging moments and its discouraging moments. We understand that the discouraging moments are often completely out of our control. One of the reasons we get discouraged is because something is happening that we can’t control. Philippians 4:9 points us in the right direction by saying, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Paul was encouraging the Christians to put into practice the Christian lifestyle he had modeled for them. The instruction here is so basic to daily life. If we want to be at peace, if we want to be encouraged, then we must put into practice those behaviors that will lead to peace and encouragement.
Let’s get specific. I know that God is my best source of encouragement. So I choose to spend time with God in prayer every day. I know that the Bible is a great source of encouragement. So I choose to spend time reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on, and applying the scriptures. I know that the fellowship of other Christians is a source of encouragement. So I choose to fellowship with other Christians. Seek out the encouragement you need. Practice those activities that encourage you.
Next week, we will look at, “How To Receive Encouragement.”