Encouragment

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUNGER WOMEN

by Debbie Huber

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  Titus 2:3-5

Time has flown so quickly that I find myself as one of the “older women” to whom the writer of this passage is speaking. It is a passage that I read with a combination of joy and fear. Joy, in that I love to be able to encourage others to love their husbands and children and to serve God in the way He has designed. There is also a little fear mixed in because this can also bring to my mind the regrets that I have, wishing I could do some things over again. But I know that God, in His wonderful kindness to me can still use even my weaknesses for His good purposes. 

I have come to see a “flip side” blessing to this charge to older women. There is a unique and treasured benefit that a younger woman brings to this mentoring relationship. I have witnessed several younger women seek out older women to help them and I have seen beautiful relationships develop and godly fruit displayed in lives. Marriages have been strengthened, mothers have been encouraged to seek God’s word instead of the strong influences of the world, and the Word of God has been the foundation. 

God has used a young mother named Samantha in my life in ways I had not realized were important. Samantha has chosen to make it important to show her care and love for me.  Knowing my children are far away she takes the time to hug me when she sees me, ask questions about me,  include me in family events, and send me pictures of her children via text or Snapchat. These small but very meaningful gestures have helped me when I am missing my own daughters. A cherished relationship of mutual encouragement has grown.  This has also spurred me to stay involved in her life so I know about her and I can pray for her and encourage her.

So younger women, God has chosen to use older women to encourage you in Godliness but in His wisdom He will use you in their lives too!  How do you find an older woman to be mentored by?  Do not wait for an older woman to find you to mentor you. Seek out godly older women and ask questions!  Get involved in service in church or in a small group and get to know the women there. 

And older women, do not feel shy about seeking to spend time with a younger woman.  Find out about their life and care for them!   If God has made this a charge to women than His purposes in it are of eternal value.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.28.17

Finding Joy in Something Bigger than Me

by Tim Shorey

 

Philippians 1:12-18

We experience life’s greatest joys when we share in its greatest realities. In our text we see 4 secrets to unquenchable joy

1. Joy comes from being a part of something bigger than ourselves v18

The source of his joy was something bigger than him—the gospel advance of the kingdom of God!

And his joy was great because his cause was great!

No prison or trial or possible death sentence or petty rivalry or the sinful selfish ways of others could quench the joy of his heart—it was way too big.

He was involved in and lost in something way bigger than he was—and so his joy was immense and unquenchable.

Friends, I think there is a pretty significant JOY-CRISIS going on among Christians today

(1)  Live life IN Christ

Philippians 4:4—“Rejoice IN the Lord always and again I will say, REJOICE!”

Rejoice in what it means to be in union with Jesus!

(2) Live life outside ourselves

The faith of too many is (in Os Guiness’s words) about “God servicing us, not us serving God!”

Life is simply happier if we live it outside ourselves!

The most miserable people on earth are the ones who can’t get themselves off themselves! They are totally self-absorbed!

Lose yourself in something bigger than yourself and you find joy!

If that is true at even a basic level—if joy comes in being part of something bigger than ourselves—than how might maximum joy come?

How might we receive the greatest joy possible?

By being a part of the biggest thing going!!

The gospel advance of the kingdom of Jesus Christ!

Knowing God and helping others to know him too!!

 

2. What we are a part of is a partnership vs 3-7

Notice the gratitude and joy language!  Partnership made Paul happy!

Philippians is full of partnership and cooperation words and phrases

—ALL these point to Paul’s awareness that what we are a part of is a partnership! —and he wants US to share in it (Philippians 1:27)

The principle is clear in Scripture that Christians are always to be engaged in the mission in PARTNERSHIP with others—in a local church, under church leadership, alongside of other believers, in teams, side by side—AND in partnership and fellowship with other churches!

There are not to be any lone ranger Christians or even lone ranger churches…

The way of Christ is partnership in and through the local church—and through families and unions of churches…

And how blessed are such partnerships—EVEN if they are sometimes challenging!

 

3.  What we are a part of is more important than the part we play

Paul cared a lot more about what he was a part of than he did about the part he played

I’m not reading this into it—think about it!  What part was Paul playing at this time—by and large?

He had the part of prisoner.

He had the part of victim: people were taking advantage of his hardship.

He had the part of potential martyr!

For all he knew his best ministry days were over—and now it was prison time; serving where the lights were dim and few noticed.

Lots of others were getting the more noticed parts, the parts that people would be drawn to!

But Paul was not at all about making sure he got all the right and good parts for personal gain or ambition.

He cared about one thing: the advance of the gospel!

 Brothers and sisters: it’s NOT the position or the role or the prestige that matters…

…it’s the KING and his cause!  (Matthew 10:41-42)

 

4.  Jesus took the humblest part that we might have a part in gospel joy (Phil 2:3-8)

Jesus is our sacrifice and Jesus is our example

Jesus does ask us to lay life down for the gospel, but he does not ask us to do anything that He has not already done Himself

ALL this that we might have a part in it all!

We experience life’s greatest joy when we share in its greatest cause

CHRISTIAN, WHAT IS OUR LIFE?

John Newton was a former slave trader who became a pastor. He is famous for his hymn “Amazing Grace”.

Near the end of his life, when Newton spoke before a group of people, a careful listener recorded this outline from Newton’s sermon. It is an encouraging reminder for every Christian

I am not what I ought to be.

Ah! how imperfect and deficient.

Not what I might be,

considering my privileges and opportunities.

Not what I wish to be.

God, who knows my heart, knows I wish to be like him.

I am not what I hope to be;

ere long to drop this clay tabernacle, to be like him and see him as he is.

Not what I once was,

a child of sin, and slave of the devil.

Though not all these, not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish or hope to be, and not what I once was, I think I can truly say with the apostle,

By the grace of God I am what I am!

THE WAVES NEVER STOP

Living near the shore has its advantages.

I don’t get to the beach often, but when I do, I usually think to myself, “Why don’t I do this more often?”

My favorite time to walk along the beach is early evening, when the crowds are gone along with the heat.

Although the people have left, the sand bears many signs that swarms of them were recently present. In addition to the ubiquitous footprints in the sand, are the remnants of collapsed castles and abandoned excavations.

Yet, the next morning, all these evidences will all be washed smooth by the ever-flowing action of the waves.

God’s grace accomplishes a similar work in the believer’s heart.

Throughout each day, sin is disrupting our hearts and minds. As we come to the end of our day, we can see abundant evidence of sin’s disturbance.

However, the Cross never ceases to flow with the cleansing grace of Christ.

No matter how often our soul is disrupted, the merciful actions of our Savior have the final say. This is the proclamation of the Prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Child of grace, don’t neglect giving praise and thanksgiving to your faithful Savior.

He never tires of pouring grace upon you, so don’t tire in imitating his attentiveness.

As we develop the habit of recognizing the evidences of his grace, our minds will turn more easily to worship rather than worry. And our hearts will increasingly yearn for the good things that honor him.

The result will be a heart that is clean, and at rest.

WHAT HAPPENS TO OLD SINS?

What do we do with old sins?

Learn from them?

Try to minimize them?

Beat ourselves with them?

Worry over them?

Ignore them?

Live in regret from them?

The Bible tells us our response to sin, which is to repent and then move forward from them, leaving our sins behind.

But there is an even bigger question.

What does God do with our old sins?!

Tim Challies gives us this wonderfully biblical and encouraging view of what God does with the sins of his people!

What we will not find on this list is that God,

Reminds us of them

Holds them over our head

Pulls away from us because of them

 We should have God’s view of sin, when it appears in our life.

And, we should have God’s view of sin, when it has been washed away!

MORE THAN JUST A ROCK

Last month Debbie and I were in western Pennsylvania visiting our grandson, Wyatt (Oh yeah, and his parents). Since Wyatt at age 1 is already a prodigy, we took him to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

One of their exhibits is a stunning collection of minerals and gems. In darkened rooms, beautiful gems and crystals are displayed in individual brightly lit acrylic cases. The shapes and colors of these crystals can be otherworldly.

Yet, seemingly incongruent to the beauty of these gems, was that on the outside they just looked like plain rocks. It was only when the rocks were broken open that their striking beauty became evident.

As I walked through the collection, I wondered, if those who discovered the gems knew what was inside these plain looking rocks before breaking them open.

It was only later that I considered how these gems illustrate a truth about every believer.

At first glance, most of our lives appear mundane and even misshapen. Yet within our lives, God is forming a beauty that is actually dazzling. If you think I am exaggerating, consider how the Bible describes our future in 1 John 3:2.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when (Jesus) appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”

The Apostle John is describing what Paul calls our “glorification”, when our character is brought to the same beautiful perfection as that of Jesus!

There are significant implications of our transformation:

 1.  God should be regularly praised for this work which is taking place in this very moment.

2.  Although we are plain and perhaps misshapen, we also have God given beauty in us. If God sees beauty in us, faith and obedience obligates us to agree.

3.  Every true believer has the beauty of God’s gracious work in them. Although we still see (and at times feel) their rough exterior, we are also responsible to acknowledge the work of God within.

4.  We may see people around as lives which are ordinary and even ugly. Yet, every life will shine in beauty when it is broken open by the gospel.

THEY ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Sunday morning as I was walking through our church, I noticed three people praying together

Then several steps further I overheard a young woman discussing how she was encouraging a friend to become more rooted in her own church

Then a reality suddenly struck me

I was surrounded by graces of God

Not just the amazing graces of God toward me, but also the countless evidences of God’s active grace and works in the lives of his people!

My heart easily becomes mired in the discouragements of this world

A world that has turned itself upside down

The messy half-heartedness of many who claim to love Christ

Believers who are under immense burden

My own weaknesses which are ever on display

These realities seem to slap me in the face each day

Yet, these are not the greatest realities in this world or in my life!

God is ever sovereign over all things

Christ has already conquered sin, death and Satan

The Holy Spirit is actively preparing each believer to be glorious images of Jesus

Sometimes these realities are submerged under the flow of events and my own activities. So I must seek them out. Every believer is called to glorify God, which means we are responsible to look for and hold up the evidences of God’s glorious grace at work

The Holy Spirit not only freshly reminded me that he is abundantly at work; he also freshly convicted me that I need to live with greater awareness of his graces around me

God deserves that I do this

My soul needs me to do this

Gospel mission impels me to do this

As God’s people, may we look for and celebrate the graces of God in us and in each other. Although they may seem small and at times mundane – they are actually marvelous evidences of our God wonderfully at work

When we see an evidence of grace – exalt it in your heart and praise it with your lips

But don’t stop there; let’s get in the habit of identifying those evidences of grace to one another as a way of fulfilling 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which instructs us to “encourage one another and build one another up”

Let us exercise faith as we celebrate these evidences of God’s grace, for they are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. For God is working at a level that will eternally display his transcendent standard of glory!

REAL ANSWERS TO ANXIETY

Do you ever worry?

If you are a breathing member of humanity, you have problems that look (and perhaps are) fearful. Anxiety is one of the most shared and common of human experiences.

Our experience is different in the degree to which anxiety dominates our emotions, but we are all touched by it.

Yet, the Bible tells us that we should not remain in a place of anxiety. In Philippians 4:4-7, the Apostle Paul gives us this biblical council:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul even gives us direction on how to overcome our anxiety – replace it with praise and prayer.

You have probably tried that with mixed results. The problem is not that Paul gives faulty direction, but that we are weak vessels.

Part of our problem is that we listen to the voices in our head which insist that a full blown 5 alarm anxiety siren is the correct response to our current disturbance.

Justin Taylor wrote an excellent article entitled 8 Arguments for Why You Should Be Anxious Today (and How the Bible Responds)”. Justin points out that the real battle in these times is between belief and unbelief.

His premise is quite helpful, but what I appreciated most in his article was the way Justin listed 8 arguments our minds give for worrying, he then briefly presents an opposing truth from God to defeat each one.

Justin has provided us with a useful article that is great for sharing!

REAL HELP FOR DEPRESSION

9781781915387

Depression.

Being confronted by this word brings an instant desire for avoidance.

However, if you suffer from depression, you can’t run from it. And if someone we love is burdened by depression we shouldn’t try to run from it.

That still leaves us with the frustrating and exhausting problem of not knowing what to do!

Zack Eswine provides an outstanding resource for us in his book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who suffer from depression.

Eswine not only has personal experience with depression, he draws in the wisdom of Charles Spurgeon who was one of the most famous and fruitful pastors in history. Yet, Spurgeon struggled bitterly for many years with his own depression (that knowledge itself should provide some comfort for believers who battle depression).

I heartily recommend this book to everyone, because we all will either walk through depression or know someone who does. Eswine writes:

Diagnostic words like “depression” are invitations, not destinations. Once you’ve spoken them, your travel with a person has begun, not ended.

If you have read books that promised to help and found them to be frustratingly empty of real help, Zack Eswine and Charles Spurgeon combine gentle pastoral care with clear biblical wisdom.

THIS IS POWERFUL!

5 year old Levi has Down’s Syndrome. And that is the easiest of his physical difficulties. His adversities include four open heart surgeries (and counting).

This testimony by his dad, a student at Bethlehem Seminary, is powerful, perspective correcting, and encouraging!

“Drinking Deeply of the Tenderness of Christ” from Bethlehem College & Seminary on Vimeo.