A. The story of the deaf frog in the pit in the forest (he couldn't hear the discouraging whining of the other frogs in the pit so he didn't know he couldn't get out...and he escaped)
B. That's what encouragement does. You & I are most likely the product of a great amount of encouragement.
2. Church leaders
3. When I hold a meeting...Tired but encouraged.
1. Encouragement is so important that the Lord designed for us to gather weekly, at least in part to encourage each other.
D. So let's see what the Bible has to say about encouragement.
2. What is encouragement?
A. Parakaleo is from the combination of two words:
1. Kaleo = "To Call"
2. Para = "Alongside"
3. John 14:16 -The helper, the comforter
B. God has called us alongside of each other to help each other.
1. Inspire each other to courage, give each other determination.
2. When Don told me "I'm with you all the way"
3. Why Do We Need Encouragement?
A. I can't make it alone, and neither can you.
1. It is not good that man should be alone - Gen.2:18
2. Preacher at City Jail talking about how each of us need others. One huge, grizzled man said "I don't need anyone".
3. Preacher acknowledged him and said "we all know what friends are, they are people you can count on when you need help, and we all have friends, except John, he doesn't have any friends, because he doesn't need anyone.; people you talk to, people you share your burdens with, etc.
4. We all need others. No-one can make it alone.
B. You are too close to your own problems.
1. We all have blind spots. How many of us can clearly see the answers to our problems.
2. The way of a man is right in his own eyes...
3. In the multitude of counselors there is much wisdom...
C. We need each other to help us stay "on track."
1. You started but now you're wavering, one day you're up the next you're down.
2. Where is it you find that needed encouragement, focus, help to stay on track?
3. You find it right here. With people who are headed to the same place, in the same direction, for the same reasons.
4. We are fellow travelers, with the same problems, struggles; you must travel with us, pick up out of the ditch, etc.
5. That's why God created his church, as a family.
6. Do you want to stay pure morally? Find someone here in the family to be accountable to.
7. Do you want to keep your Bible Study on track? Study together with a family member.
8. Come alongside of each other to encourage and be encouraged.
D. We have an excellent illustration of this in scripture:
4. Mr. Encouragement -A Bible story of a real person who lived. His name is Joseph (Joses), but most of us don't know him by that name, we know him as Barnabas.
A. His name means "encouragement", or Mr. Encouragement.
B. How did he encourage others?
1. Encouragement in finances. Acts 4:36-37
a. Remind about how the church started. Not intended, very young church financially pressed.
b. Do you know of situations where fellow Christians are in financial trouble?
c. 2 Cor.9:
d. I know several people in the church here that work this way. Some of you have encouraged the work of our Church with your check books.
e. You didn't just write a check, but you saw a need and you met it.
f. Our sign for example
2. Encouragement in fellowship. Acts 11:22-24
a. The young church didn't yet have the Bible, Elders, Deacons, Evangelists but they needed strength and encouragement.
b. The gospel began to spread, and soon a cong. was started in Antioch and news of this reached the Church in Jerusalem so they sent Barnabas.
c. He arrived, saw the evidence of the faith, he "encouraged them"
d. And a great number of people were added to the Lord.
e. This always happens with encouragers, people are added to Christ.
f. He had a gift to encourage people to be faithful to his new life; they had only been Christians days, not years.
3. Encouragement in service. Acts 11:25-26
a. They need leadership, so he heads to Tarsus for Saul.
b. Tell a bit about his history
c. Barnabas & Saul meet with them for a year
d. Called Christians first here in Antioch
e. Led to follow Jesus as soon as they were baptized.
f. He endorses Saul, began as Barnabas and Saul then becomes Paul & Barnabas.
g. We have people in this church like that. People who will always be willing to encourage others to step out and do their best, to build them up, to help them succeed, regardless of their personal reward for it.
h. Playing Baseball with Jericha - work to make her successful!
4. Encouragement in unity. Acts 15:30-35
a. This church (in Antioch) has a huge problem looming on the horizon...
b. Jews VS Gentiles, Conference in Jerusalem, letter written to Gentiles
c. They rejoiced over the encouragement of the letter Barnabas brings back.
d. There are people today that encourage in Unity.
e. Eph.4:4-8 - One faith, etc. We don't split God's family.
5. Encouragement in failure. Acts 13:13; 15:37-39
a. Neat story of Barnabas, His cousin, John Mark, (Col.4:10) leaves, he deserts Paul & Barnabas in Pamphilia.
b. We don't know why.
c. Barnabas still believes in him and gives him a second chance.
d. Don't you love people who will give you a second chance?
e. There are people out there who are just waiting for you to fall on your face, but there are also people who, when you fall are waiting right there with a hand saying, "You come with me, we're going to Cyprus to preach, I'll give you another chance".
f. Well if they're gonna be that way then they can't expect people to keep trying... [This is true with the world, it is not true with Christians]
g. All of us are here because someone gave us a chance we didn't deserve.
h. This is especially true of the chances you get from God - Rom.5:8-10
i. This young man (John Mark) blossomed under his second chance, and at length, we find Paul acknowledging this and asking him to come help him in the work. 2 Tim.4:9-11
5. Encouragement - How Can You Do It?
A. Heb.10:24 - "Let us consider how" to provoke one another to love and good works.
B. Do you know someone who really is in real financial need? Encourage them with your money.
1. Not all of you, but some of you can lift someone else's burden this week.
2. Elderly woman who left her farm to Church in care of the elders.
3. Norman, Bible fund, etc.
4. I receive anonymous support occasionally.
5. This is Barnabas.
C. Is there someone you can go to bat for or encourage with your fellowship.
1. Lunch, notes, calls, cards, pray with/for them follow up, speak up for them
D. Is there a work that needs to be done?
1. Walk around and look for something you can be doing. We are working on the kitchen, ask Yancey, who is heading this project up, what you can do to help and then do that!
2. Luane took our kids during marriage retreat.
3. "Why don't you & your wife go out tonight, we want to watch your kids".
E. Is there a relationship that needs mending or unity? Encourage with harmony.
1. Sometimes we get "at odds" with others. If you see that going on, go to those two people and help them.
2. True of churches also. Most splits are because someone didn't get their way, pride, anger, covered it with doctrine.
F. Do you know of someone who has been hurt by failure?
1. Divorce, they messed up in some way, etc. Instead of beating them over the head with a bat, encourage them.
G. Story is told of Mark, problem student, talked too much, kicked out, principle, taped mouth shut...
1. List of everything you know good about everyone in your class and compiled it.
2. He got quite a little list
3. Mark was killed in Vietnam
4. At funeral his father took Mark's wallet and removed a folded piece of paper...he had carried the list and had it with him when he died.
A. No wonder God wants us to be a church of encouragement to one another!
1. I still remember words of encouragement spoken to me when I was young.
2. So, who are you encouraging?