Thursday, October 1, 2015

Why Encouragement Is Crucial

Hey Friend,

I follow through on my promise to readers... I pray every morning and every evening for those who take the time to read my blog.  I admit that when I look at the statistics of where, around the globe, readers are tuning in from, my heart leaps because I wonder if perhaps I am introducing the gospel of the Good News to someone for the first time?!  Bringing new believers into the fold is truly exciting stuff!!

This last time, when I was praying for readers, I distinctly felt God telling me that it's crucial to build up the body of believers...those who have already claimed Christ as their Savior.  Be they new believers, or people who have believed for decades, I felt God's strong urging that THESE are the ones I need to build up today. 

Why is it so important to build up believers?  I don't think God was saying not to care about unbelievers, but His emphasis, at this point in time, was definitely on those who claim Him.

Believers are doing Kingdom work.  They are about doing God's work and building His kingdom and thus have a giant target on their backs. You could say that believers are marked men and women.

In almost every sport you have your star athletes...the ones that the opposing team is doing everything within their power to disable and render ineffective.  This is what the enemy does with star believers.  He targets them.  He seeks them out and his aim is not only to isolate and disable, but to destroy. 

Rest assured...if you are doing things to advance the Kingdom, you have a target on your back.

The enemy has studied you.  He knows your Achilles heal.  He knows just what buttons to push.  He knows what words and thoughts will play into your insecurities and bring you down. 

There is a myth that Believers are immune to the attacks and schemes of the enemy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We (believers) know that God is on our side and on the side of other believers. I believe this lulls us into thinking that somehow we are immune to the enemy's attacks.  We have God's word as our sword and a whole suit of armor to put we should be invincible...right?

Yes, we are more than conquerors, but that doesn't mean that the enemy is unable to injure or disable us in some way.  This side of Heaven it will always be a battle.

I have an anxiety disorder (ocd).  During a recent episode, you better believe that the enemy came along to kick me when I was down.  He knew exactly which buttons to push.  Even though I fought back with God's truth, His power, and His strength, I was battle weary when it was all said and done...not much use to anyone. 

What then can we do??  I believe the first thing to do is to recognize when we are under attack.  My dad used to have a saying, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...chances are it IS a duck."

For me it has meant learning the "red flags" that the enemy is at work:

     * Does the thought bring on anxiety, fear, depression, or despair?
     * Do the thoughts that come condemn me and produce guilt?
     * Do the thoughts make me feel insecure or incapable?
     * Do they in any way make me feel like a failure?
     * Do they suck me into the comparison trap?

If I can answer "Yes" to any of these questions...I know the enemy is at work.  Recognition is the first cue that we need to run to God. 

The Lord says, " I will fight for you, you need only to be still."  (Exodus 14:14)

Also as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to recognize the enemy at work in others...and then draw near with compassion and encouragement.  Here are some things we can do:

     * Tune in when others are talking and truly listen.  Ask probing questions.

     * Be present and intentional in your time together.  Don't assume because
        they claim Christ that they aren't struggling...we ALL struggle.

     * Ask How are you doing...REALLY?  and What can I specifically pray for you
        you? (Asking for specifics helps us get at the heart of the problem)

     * Never assume that another Christian is not under an attack and has it all
        together 24/ just ain't so!

Believers are often the last to admit they have a problem or are struggling because they feel it shows a lack of faith and trust in God. 

No one...I mean NO ONE is immune!!

I have been trying to examine my words to see if they:

Build up vs. Tear down?

Aggravate vs. Edify?

Suck the life out vs. Supply or breathe Life in?

Whether we are talking to believers or non-believers, here are some scriptural litmus tests that I use to evaluate what is about to come out of my mouth.  I hope they will help you as much as they help me...

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word aptly spoken. (Proverbs 25:11)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

**My emphasis on "not neglecting to meet together".  No believer is an island and I KNOW that I have to meet with other believers to share my joys, my struggles, and to receive encouragement.  We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to one another!!

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Let no unwholesome (corrupt/rotten) word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace (build up) those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

Finally: "Greater is He who is in you/me than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)  Take heart believers!!

It is absolutely crucial that we take the time to build up the Body of Believers and allow ourselves to be vulnerable so that others can build us up.  Putting on masks or facades of everything being "fine" really hurts our mission in the long run.  How can a doctor help you if you don't tell him where it hurts??

Also, non-believers will be more enticed to explore a relationship with Jesus if they see believers being authentic encouragers that take the time to build each other up. 

No one wants to join a country only to remain being an island...

How can you build up and encourage other believers?  How do you need to be built up?  Where do you run when under attack?

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that you don't leave me alone to fight battles when I'm under attack.  Some days I don't cope too well and your tender voice tells's okay...I am here.  "I will uphold you with my righteous and faithful right hand."  Thank you Lord for your promise that if I am still, You will fight for me.  Help me to identify the attacks of the enemy in myself and in others.  Help me to take the time to encourage and edify others so that they might be lifted up along the way. Enable me to be vulnerable so that others can pray for defenses in the places where I am weak.  Your love brings life, O Lord.  Help me to breathe in that life and to speak it into others.  In the name of your precious son, Jesus, I pray.  Amen

Be blessed...

Ps. Meet Adil.  Here are pictures before and after he came to Redeemer Christian School.  For only $10/month you can enable him to stay in school where he finds, light, love, and hope.  There is no future for the orphans of the streets. Much danger awaits there.  Please bring the love of Jesus and the hope of an education to Adil and other children like him. What if your child couldn't go to school?  Wouldn't you want someone to enable him/her to go?

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