Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 1, 2002, 17:51
Robert L Short in The Parables of Peanuts shows a comic strip where Lucy is telling Snoopy, “There are times when you really bug me. But I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a hug.”
Snoopy replies as he thinks to himself , “That’s the way I am, huggable and buggable.”
That is the way we are too—sometimes huggable, sometimes buggable. But all of us need to learn the fine art of encouragement. We need to learn to encourage others (especially when they aren’t doing so well) and be encouraged as well. During times when I need encouraging I like to go to God’s word. In Hebrews 10: 19-25 we find some things that should encourage us.
The first thing we see is that we are Encouraged to be closer to God (v.22) Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.
In the text we are reminded that we can have a confidence when we approach God because Jesus has given us access to Him. We no longer need to tiptoe on eggshells. We are invited to walk across the crimson carpet that Jesus stretched out for us. Not only are we encouraged to get closer to Him . . .we need to get closer. In order to do so means commitment and we usually are looking for excuses instead.
You have heard why people don’t “do” church. The reasons are endless. They say, “It is alright for some people, but I just don’t do church!” Now I respond with reasons that I don’t wash. It sounds silly, I understand, but it does make a point. Feel free to use them next time you find yourself in one of those marvelous conversations. The list goes as follows:
Reasons why I don’t wash
I was made to wash as a child
People who wash are hypocrites; they reckon they are cleaner than others
I used to wash, but it got boring so I stopped
I still wash on special occasions like Christmas and Easter
None of my friends wash
I’m still young; when I get dirtier I might start washing
I don’t have time with my schedule
The bathroom is never warm enough
People who make soap are only after your money
Ludicrous isn’t it ? We all need to wash and we know it. We need to grow closer to Christ and know that as well.
Next we are Encouraged to hold the promises (v.23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
The concept here is one of unswerving faith in the truth of God. If we can stand before the God of Heaven without our knees knocking, then we should be able to stand here on earth without buckling under to intimidating people or circumstances. Hang in there, God will not let you go and will not fail you
Remember that life was tough for the people reading this letter. Their faith came at a great cost. Many were torn from their families, some were in prison, many had been killed, and they were persecuted. It would have been natural for some of them to give into the pressure under the circumstances.
They needed something to hold onto. something to cling to that would stabilize them. The stabilizer was the promises of God. That is your stabilizer too.
Next we are Encouraged to encourage one another (v.24-25) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 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.
The Greek word “consider” means to “fix one’s mind or one’s eye on something”. In the same way we are to focus or concentrate our attention on how we might encourage others to exhibit Christ like behavior.
One of the most intense needs of the family of God never makes the church bulletin or weekly prayer list. That need is encouragement—God’s way of fanning the fires of a flickering faith.
He fans them, as we are obedient to verse 25. . .“we are encouraged as we worship and meet together”. There are so many things that happen when we worship. We sing, we study, we worship, and as an act of worship we are to encourage one another. It pleases Him, He has asked us to do it!
The year was 1915 in the city of San Diego. Charles Hatfield made an unusual offer to the city. He offered to fill the city reservoir with water. It had never been over 1/3 full since it had been created. The rainfall had been extremely low that year and conditions were looking bleak if it didn’t rain soon.
So this prompted Hatfield to make an offer. He considered himself to be a rainmaker. It was unusual, but the times were desperate. This was the deal; if he caused rain the city would pay him $10,000. If no rain came, no payment would be expected. The council agreed they had nothing to lose, so they made the deal with Hatfield.
The next day he began construction on a 20-foot tower near the reservoir and put some of his specially mixed chemicals on the top of it. He said before 5 days had passed it would begin to rain. 4 days later the rain began to fall. The next day it was raining steadily over the entire county, and the rainstorm did not let up for the next 10 days. So much rain fell that the water rushed through the downtown area stopping business activity.
Rivers overflowed, telephone and telegraph services were stopped, railroads and roads were closed. Buildings were swept away in the floodwaters. The sun came out, and people began to make repairs, but then all the rain started falling again. The reservoir filled up at a rate of a foot an hour and when it was 5 inches from overflowing the rain stopped.
The long-term effect was the train service didn’t restart for over a month, 200 bridges were ruined, and over 50 lives were lost in the flood. Hatfield thought that he had kept his end of the bargain and went to the city council to be paid. He was shocked when they said that unless he could prove he was the cause of the rain, they did not owe him anything. Of course that was impossible to prove, so he never got paid.
In an interview in the paper, an angry Hatfield explained, “When it was dry and started to rain after I went to work people said, ‘Good job Charles!’ As it continued to rain they came up on the street and said ‘Good job Charles!’ Then as the storm continued, people began to say, ‘That’s enough Charles.’ Then as it rained more, people would say, ‘You are awful man Charles.’ When the storm finally stopped no one wants to talk to me.”
We must learn to be encouraging when the sun is shining, when the rain starts to fall, when the storm rages out of control, and when the storm is over. Encouraging . . . think about it.
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