Blog Post By Gary Henry

How Do We Measure "Encouragement"?

If you needed encouragement and someone encouraged you, how would you be different? Having been encouraged, what would be the difference between the “before” and “after”?

Unfortunately, most people would say that being “encouraged” mainly means they “feel better” emotionally. In an age of subjective individualism, where human feelings are the ultimate value and highest authority, nothing is more significant than how we feel. So problems like discouragement are defined primarily in terms of feelings. To be discouraged means to feel “down,” while to be encouraged means to feel “up.” And in this cultural milieu, “encouraging preaching” usually amounts to some variation of “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Now, feelings of defeat and depression are certainly unpleasant, and we like to avoid them whenever we can. But these feelings, which often accompany discouragement, should not be confused with the problem itself. The real problem lies deeper and has to do with our will rather than our emotions. What we need is to be jolted into action.

Look at the word “encourage.” You can see the root word “courage.” The basic meaning, then, is “to impart courage to.” And as any soldier can tell you, courage is more than a feeling; it’s an action.

So test yourself. Did you find last Sunday’s sermon “encouraging”? Was it “encouraging” to have that heart-to-heart talk with a friend? Be careful how you answer. If you say yes, but all you mean is that you feel better, I would suggest that you have not been truly (or at least fully) encouraged. In the deepest sense, you will have been encouraged when you do what is right — and you keep on doing it.

There is no more encouraging book in the New Testament than Hebrews. Written to Christians whose faith was wavering, this powerful treatise says one thing: don’t give up. I read the entirety of Hebrews to a church one time as my last “sermon” to them. I wanted to encourage them, and I could think of no better way to do it than to read Hebrews. “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus , the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

So to those of us who teach, preach, and write, let’s be careful in our definition of “encouragement.” If the result of our work is that people simply feel better but they are still too afraid to jump that dangerous chasm in front of them, we have not really “imparted courage” to them. So let’s be truly — and deeply — encouraging. Let’s embolden people to take those scary steps that faith would take, even if their hearts are quaking. Courage, as has been said, is not the absence of fear; it is going ahead and doing the right thing even when our feelings are failing us.

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

The post The (Real) Difference Encouragement Makes appeared first on WordPoints.

Words From Keith and Debbie Crews

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess 2:9-10).
We must love the truth.  God has always put an emphasis on truth.  Be honest and tell the truth.  God’s word is truth (John 17:17).  Some people want to be deceived because it suits their interests (2 Tim 4:3-4).  Some people deceive themselves.  Do not be deceived.  Search the Scriptures for truth.  Do not believe every thing you hear.  Search the written word of God for truth (Acts 17:11).
Keith

The Parable of the Talents By Derek Long

Jesus uses a parable regarding a man entrusting to his servants talents to help us understand some important truths regarding the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received my own back with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We can learn several important truths from this parable spoken by our Lord. God knows what we are capable of just as this lord knew how much each servant as able to handle (Matthew 25:15). God does not place upon us expectations which are greater than we are able to meet. If God tells us to do something, we know it is within our ability. God does not expect of us service which we are incapable of giving. In addition, not everyone has the same abilities but God does not hold that against a person. Someone may have more ability in one area (e.g. teaching, singing, etc.) than someone else. God expects us to use our abilities but does not require us to be as able as the next person might be. God has entrusted us with opportunities, abilities, and time as the lord entrusted these talents to his servants. We are expected to use the things God has given us in service to him as the servants were expected to use the talents entrusted to them in service to their master. God is not pleased when we fail to use the opportunities He has given to us. God is not pleased with our excuses just as the lord is not pleased with the excuses made by the one talent man (Matthew 25:24-30). People sometimes view God the same way the one talent man viewed his lord. There are people who think of God as a harsh, unrealistic master. As a result, some people fail to try to serve Him as they should. There are people who are afraid and as a result of their fear of failure never do anything in service to God. There are people who think God will be pleased with them doing nothing but God is not pleased with such people. God does not accept our excuses like the lord does not accept the excuses of the one talent man. The lord calls his servant “wicked and lazy.” What will God say of us if we fail to use the opportunities He has given us to serve Him? God will punish the person who fails to act in His service. There is a place of punishment where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for those who fail to actively serve their God. The lord of these servants went away for a long time and it appears did not give them a warning about when he would return. When he returned, he expected to find his servants had been busy serving him. Jesus has left us and will return without any special signs He is about to come. When He comes, He will expect us to be serving Him? Will we be found pleasing like the five and two talent servants or will we incur our Lord’s wrath like the one talent servant?

Words From Keith and Debbie Crews

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).
The prophet Hosea was urging Israel to return to the LORD.  Israel had been unfaithful just like Hosea’s wife had been unfaithful.  “My people ask counsel from their wooden idols” (Hosea 3:12).  They had rejected the knowledge of God (Hosea 3:6).  They broke all restraint by swearing and lying and killing and stealing and committing adultery (Hosea 4:2).  Sacrifice and burnt offerings are worthless without mercy and knowledge of God.  Vain worship (Matt 15:8-9) is prevalent today because people have no knowledge of God’s laws and choose to worship their way instead of God’s way.  Grow in knowledge (2 Pet 1:5-7; 3:18).
Keith

Submission By Derek Long

Submission is not a popular topic with many people in our world today. Most Americans resent anyone telling them what to do. It is often thought submission indicates inferiority in some way or another. God’s word is filled with commands to submit and shows us what is involved in submission. God commands submission of many different classes of people. God’s word teaches, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1, 5). God expects children to be in submission to their parents. Among the qualifications given for a bishop is he should be, “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence” (1 Timothy 3:4). God expects members of a congregation to be submissive to the elders who watch over them. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” God expects citizens to be submissive to the governing authorities. His word says, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). God says, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh” (1 Peter 2:18). All mankind needs to heed the admonition of Scripture, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). God expects everyone to be in submission to someone. Ephesians 5:21 speaks of us, “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” If we recognize our need to be in submission ultimately to God and also to those whom God has placed in positions of authority over us, we need to know what is involved in being in submission. Someone has said submission refers to ranking oneself under another. Submission is something we willingly offer as we are willing to place ourselves under the authority of another. Submission requires one to be obedient to those in positions of authority over us (Ephesians 5:24; Titus 2:5; Hebrews 13:17). Understanding these concepts is helpful but what are some practical illustrations of what is involved in submission. Submission does not mean one cannot appeal to one in a position of authority over them. Jesus has taken on a role of submission to the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3; Philippians 2:5-8). While Jesus is the perfect example of submission to His Father in heaven, Jesus made appeals to God. Jesus appealed to the Father in Gethsemane saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44). Jesus made known His request and petitioned the Father while being in submission to the Father. Prayer is a means by which we too can let our desires be known to the Father but prayer is not a lack of submission. Wives, citizens, children, etc. can make their desires and wishes known to those who are in positions of authority over them and still be submissive. Submission is demonstrated when we like Jesus are willing to place our desires under the will of the one in authority over us. Our submission is not an excuse to do something which is ungodly. Peter and the other apostles had been commanded not to teach in Jesus’ name by the governing authorities. We have already seen where God expects people to be submissive to government. Why do Peter and the other apostles continue to teach in the name of Jesus? Acts 5:29 tells us they replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” Our submission to God and His will must trump our loyalty and submission to any other human authority placed over us including parents, government, husband, etc. (Matthew 10:34-37; Luke 14:26). Ananias and Sapphira both agreed to sell a possession and deceptively keep back part of the price of the land for themselves (Acts 5:1-11). Sapphira could not justify her deceit by saying I was simply going along with my husband’s plan. Submission also does not mean we cannot attempt to correct the folly of others by taking certain actions. Abigail in 1 Samuel 25 took actions to avert the consequences of her husband’s folly. Submission does not mean we fail to correct those who are in sin. Timothy was taught to honor the elders (1 Timothy 5:17). Yet there may be a time when Timothy would have to rebuke an elder who was living in sin. Paul instructs him, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:19-20). As a Christian, if I see a brother committing a sin, I have an obligation to warn them whether they are in a position of authority over me or not (Matthew 18:15-17). In correcting those who are in a position of authority over us, we would do well to heed the instruction given to Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). We still need to show respect for the person and their position of authority over us when correcting them. Submission is a necessary attitude to adopt if we are going to be pleasing to God. Let’s learn to understand what submission is and what is not involved in submission. Let us ultimately remember our responsibility to submit to God who has authority over us all.

 

Words From Keith and Debbie Crews

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.  And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days (Dan 6:10).
Jealous of Daniel for his position of authority, men of Babylon sought a charge against Daniel.  They had the king issue a decree that no god or man could be petitioned for 30 days except for the king.  Daniel always prayed to God every day.  He did not try to hide it since he left the window open for any outside to see.  Would we have such courage to defy our government if challenged to choose between our God or serving man?  Daniel was consistent.  This was his custom since early days.  Are we consistent?  Do you pray every day?  Do you allow anything to hinder your prayers?  Do you thank God or do you only ask for things?  Daniel was on his knees.  Do you ever pray on your knees?
Keith