Encourage One Another

      In our present day, many people are discouraged.  Watch the news for an hour and your mood will tank.  Numerous marriages are hanging on by a thread.  Some teens wrestle with identity issues.  Families struggle to make their budgets work.  Almost all of us could use a little encouragement.  I think of the apostle Paul who wrote to a church struggling with persecution and said, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). This exhortation is quite timely for today.  How do we encourage one another?
      First, ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER WITH THE GREAT TRUTHS OF SCRIPTURE.  In the passage I quoted it begins with the word “therefore.”  That word points back to what proceeded it.  The section of Scripture right before this verse is a passage that reminds Christians of several great promises: Jesus will return for us, we will experience eternal life with God in intimate relationship, and we will join Christians who have died before us.  Each of these promises encourage me.  In a world where we see political leaders, who are often incompetent or compromised, to be reminded that Jesus will return as King is profound.  He is the epitome of justice, compassion and wisdom; that will be so refreshing don’t you think?  The promise of eternal life with God is comforting and intriguing.  Six months ago our first grandchild was born.  We have gone to visit Rhen in Washington State several times and we watch and talk to her on face time quite regularly.  We have a relationship with Rhen. However, what if she lived in Fairbanks. What if she lived in our house with us and her parents?  It would be a relationship taken to a new level, right?  However deep, rich and robust our relationship with God is in this life, it is just a glimpse of what awaits the Christian in the future.  Another promise mentioned warms my heart as well: we will rejoin Christians who have died before us.  I think of my grandparents, Gayle and Mary Kay Denny.  They had a huge impact on my life during the time I had with them.  I think they will be waiting for me at the gates of eternity.  To hug them again will be sweet.  To see them in their ideal resurrection bodies, no longer battling age and sickness, will be exciting.   When hurting and discouraged, remind yourself and share with other struggling Christians, the great promises of the Bible.
      Second, ENCOURAGE OTHERS BY NOTICING WHAT THEY ARE DOING RIGHT.  I love how the apostle models this.  At the end of his exhortation to encourage one another he notes, “just as in fact you are doing.”  As a parent I certainly have the duty to correct my children, but my default position was to catch them doing right.  I tried to affirm the good I saw in them.  It is vital that our children and those in our lives view us as “for them.”  I have read that it takes five positive comments to balance out one negative criticism.  Work to be the person that others are excited to see walk into the room. 
      Life will discourage.  We MUST encourage.
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church