Philippians 2:1 NLT
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?
That verse starts one of the greatest passages in the Bible. It talks about serving others and having the same attitude that Jesus had. Those verses encourage me.
Let’s be honest. Are there ever times you are down, discouraged and struggling? If you are honest, the answer is yes. I am 44 years old, and through the years I have experienced highs and lows. I have also learned that there are some things that keep me going, get me more courage, lift my heart and mind, put a spring in my step and all around help me to look up again.
I figured I would give you some of those things today. These might not all strike your fancy or help you like they do me. Yet I would say one of these might help you start to look toward God once again.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
First, I remember a story that I have heard numerous variations of. One was about a man complaining that his feet hurt until he met a man without feet. Another was about a man who struggled with his legs until he met a man who had no legs. There is always someone in a tougher situation than you are in. Satan lies to us saying we are alone or no one has gone through what we have. One of the best ways to get out of a funk is to serve others who are in rougher shape than you are.
Second, I get excited by listening to other people talk about their faith. I got to do that last night. I met an elderly man who has been in various types of ministry for numerous decades. He talked about how he met God as a truck driver and how through the years and through all kinds of situations God has shown up and been a huge blessing. To listen to this man talk and to watch his smile gave me goose bumps. We need to hear stories of real faith in action. God intends for us to share our lives with others, and that gives me great encouragement.
Third, you might say I am a preacher, and this point is just for me. That is wrong. This is for everyone, and I believe that God gave us the Bible as our “love letter” from Him. Often reading the Bible I come across something that fits right where I am. It is like God wrote that just for me. The Bible is God’s guidebook for living, but it is also the deep well of encouraging, inspiring truth. My day gets brighter when I spend time listening to God.
Fourth, I enjoy music. I like all kinds of music, and as my family might tell you I often get stuck on a song and sing it over and over. To sit quietly or drive down the road and get lost in some music that God fills and uses in me really is incredible. I have heard several times that if you can control someone’s music you can control them. Many times God has used great music to give me peace and encouragement.
Fifth, I am not a reader, but there are times that a great book grabs my attention and encourages me. These books are ones I have a hard time putting down. This is a strange time in my life as I have reading like 5 different books. A couple of them have my attention and have been a huge blessing. Matthew Barnett’s “Welcome Misfits”, Margaret Feinberg’s “Fight Back with Joy” and Mark Batterson’s “Grave Robber” are just a few that stay close to me as of late.
Sixth, prayer is an incredible medicine. Spending time with God cannot be replaced by anything else. This is a few minutes at a time, or even a few seconds, or extended periods where we pour out of heart to God or get quiet and listen. Nothing can take the place of prayer. Prayer is the place where I find I can lay down what weighs me down. Prayer encourages me. We encourage people by praying for them too.
Seventh (and I will stop with this one), I enjoy spending time with other people. Yes, some people tick me off or really bug me. But some people put a smile on my face and bring peace in to my life. Late last week my wife and I got away for a evening, and it was refreshing. Last Saturday my son and I got in the car and went for a short ride. Listening to him was so awesome. There was a time in last couple of days that I was struggling with focus, and I left my office for a bit. I found myself running an errand, and I met a person who said just a couple things. I could not help but smile. It was encouraging.
Have you noticed some of the things that seem to connect all 7 of these things? The two points I see are God and other people. Those are the two things that often encourage me and in that order. May God help you and I see the truth and give us encouragement when things seem to be getting tough. Real encouragement finds it’s beginning in our God!
Isaiah 35:3 NLT
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees.