"... the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)
A. One person said, "I Go To Church On Sunday, And It Takes Me All Week To Recover."
1. Wouldnít it be great if the Church was a place where "Seldom Was Heard A Discouraging Word?"
2. The church should be a Source of Strength and Encouragement where people are Built Up.
3. Of course every church has those members who Thrive Upon Discouraging People --- it seems to make them seem Superior to others by being able to Pick Something To Pieces.
a. If they are able to Discourage The Pastor (keep him Humble) they Rejoice that they have Accomplished their goal for the day.
b. They Never get Excited, Enthused, or Motivated about anything.
B. It is Much Easier To Criticize those who Sincerely Love and want to Worship God --- as being "Show-Offs" than it is to Admit Your Desperate Condition & Need For God.
1. Personally, I Am Grieved At The Negative Attitude of Plastic, Hypocritical And Judgmental Christians Who Know Little or Nothing of True Worship --- Have No Concern For Lost Souls --- No Love For God And The Cause of Christ --- And Is Negative Toward Anything That They Canít Control.
a. By their Negative, Unconstructive, Pessimistic, Disapproving Attitude --- they Discourage those who would Love to Worship and Praise God and develop a more Intimate Relationship with Him.
b. It is a Disgrace if a person can come to this church and Grow Away from the Lord rather than closer to the Lord --- because of the Negative Disapproving Attitudes of a few.
(1) Sit close to the Front --- move toward the Back.
(2) Come to the Altar for Prayer --- stops coming to the altar .....
(3) Says "Amen" during the preaching --- gets Quite and says nothing .....
2. They have now Fallen In Line with the rest of the Laodiceans (Lukewarm) crowd.
3. Remember, Nothing Ever Happen Until Somebody Gets Excited About Something.
C. The Most Important People In The World are Not the Scientists, or Doctors, or Economists, or Presidents and Kings --- they Are the Encouragers.
1. We should Love one another, Support one another, Comfort one another, and Encourage one another.
2. There has Never Been A Day in history when the gift of Encouragement was Needed More Than It Is Today.
3. A Church that does not Major on developing its skills as Encouragers --- will soon find itself Without A Meaningful Ministry in the community.
4. People Do Not Care How Much You Know --- Until They Know How Much You Care!
How Much You Care Will Determine To What Degree --- You Encourage Others!
D. Encouragement is one of the Chief and Unique Characteristic and Top Priorities of our Triune God.
God The Father
2 Cor. 1:3, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort (encouragement);"
God The Son
2 Thess. 2:16, "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation (encouragement) and good hope through grace,"
God The Holy Spirit
John 14:26, "But the Comforter (encourager), which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
E. The Father encourages, the Son encourages, and the Spirit encourages --- Anyone who claims to be Believer (Christian) should also be an encourager.
The Underlying Theme of the entire Bible is that of Encouragement --- The Old Testament was written for the Encouragement of New Testament Believers.
Romans 15:4, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort (encouragement) of the scriptures might have hope."
F. Paul explains to young Timothy that Encouragement Is An Important Part of The Ministry.
1. He states that it is so important that Timothy should Do It With Longsuffering, that is, do it over and over again.
2. 2 Tim. 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort (encourage) with all longsuffering and doctrine."
3. 2 Thess. 2:17, "Comfort (encourage) your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
G. Paul Had A Friend who Encouraged and Refreshed him in the ministry.
1. Philemon 1:7, "For we have great joy and consolation (encouragement) in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
2. When you Encourage another person --- you Begin A Process That May Never End.
a. A Word Fitly Spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." --- (Prov. 25:11)
b. A Short Note written --- putting your Arm Around The Shoulder a hurting person --- etc.
3. Please pray that God will give us more Encouragers that will Refresh each of us in our ministry and service unto the Lord.
I. Jesus Encourages His Doubting, Discouraged, Disheartened, Depressed, and Dejected Disciples
A. There was much Despair and Despondency among the disciples after the Crucifixion of Jesus.
1. They had Believed that Jesus was their Messiah.
2. They Expected Him to set up His Kingdom --- and the yoke of Roman Oppression would be Broken.
3. But now, He had been Crucified --- His Body Sealed In A Tomb --- and 16 Roman Guards ordered to guard the tomb.
B. Then Rumors (which no one believed) began to circulate that Jesus Had Risen From The Guarded Tomb.
1. People reported seeing Him --- 10 Instances In All, 5 of which was on the same day.
2. He appeared to Mary Magdalene --- then later to the Women returning to the tomb.
3. The Ten Disciples in the upper room --- then to Peter privately.
4. Then He appeared to Two Men on the Emmaus Road.
a. They had Heard about the Resurrection, but they did Not Believe it.
b. They were Downcast and Dejected.
c. They had Left Their Faith In Jerusalem and were returning to Start Live Over again in Emmaus.
5. Little did they know that their Lives Were About To Be Changed by a "Stranger" they met on the Emmaus Road.
a. As much as a geographical journey home, it was also to be a life changing Spiritual Journey.
b. One of the disciples (Cleopas) is only mentioned here (Luke 24:18) and the other disciple is not mentioned by name at all.
C. The Apostles considered the reports "Like Idle Tales, And They Did Not Believe Them."
1. Luke 24:10-11, "It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not." --- V. 21, "But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done."
2. Doubt and Disappointment, if Unchecked, can lead quickly to Despair --- the Lost of All Hope.
3. Perhaps these men had made serious Lifestyle Changes in order to follow Jesus.
a. Perhaps they had put their Reputations On The Line with their families and neighbors.
b. Now they were returning to face the Embarrassment of having been Wrong and to face the taunts of "I Told You So."
c. Despair had overtaken these two disciples on the road back home.
D. Suddenly, Jesus Himself Drew Near, and went with them." --- (Luke 24:15)
1. Jesus is the Center of their Conversation --- yet they Didnít Know it was Jesus Himself who had joined them as they walked.
2. Jesus enters into their conversation so as to begin to Transform The Disciples Despair Into Hope and Joy once again.
3. Jesus opened the Scriptures to them (V. 27) and began to patiently explain everything in the O.T. concerning the Messiah.
Do You Suppose That He Took Them To:
Genesis 22, when Abraham takes his son Isaac to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah, as a type of His own Sacrificial death?"
Isaiah 53, where the servant (Messiah) of God is pictured as a Suffering Servant, taking upon Himself the Punishment Deserved By Others?"
Psalms 22, where numerous aspects of Davidís life are duplicated exactly in the Crucifixion Experience of Jesus on the cross?"
E. Luke 24:30, "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight."
1. It was Unusual for Jesus, or anyone else, to come into a personís home and Assume The Role of The Host.
It is Jesus who picks up the bread, offers a blessing, and breaks it for the two disciples.
2. When Jesus broke the bread and handed a piece to Cleopas and the other disciple --- What Do You Suppose That They Probably Notice For The First Time?
The Nail-Scarred Hands --- and He vanished out of their sight.
F. Had He Remained With Them, they would have wanted to Stay in Emmaus and continue to Talk to Him and get more Answers to their questions.
1. Like a lot of Church Members who --- Sit --- Soak --- Sour --- like the Dead Sea .....
2. But, they hit the Emmaus Road once again, but this time --- they were headed Back To Jerusalem.
3. The Transformation in the lives of these two men is Beyond Description.
G. The Written And The Living Word of God Had Transformed Their Lives!
1. They were going back and Add To The Reports That They Had Failed To Believe earlier in the day.
2. An Encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ is the Most Encouraging Thing that can happen to anyone.
H. Discouragement And Despair Cannot Exist In The Presence of The Lord.
1. Meeting Jesus ---
Through The Word,
Through The Life of Fellow Believers,
Is The Surest Remedy For Discouragement.
2. "Never Doubt In The Dark What God Told You In The Light."
Jesus had Told The Apostles In The Light what was going to happen --- but When It Came To Pass --- they Doubted.
II. Every Person In Your Life Needs More Encouragement --- And Lots of It.
A. Far more Negative words of Criticism, Blame, Ridicule, Gossip and Backbiting hit us every day --- than do Positive words of Praise, Recognition, and Thankfulness.
1. This is because so Few People Feel Encouraged In Their Own Spirits.
2. It is very Difficult to Share with others What You Do Not Feel yourself.
3. The Prerequisite to encouraging Others, therefore, is to Feel Encouraged Yourself.
B. Encouragement is speaking a word of Hope with the Assurance that:
1. God Created you with a Plan For Your Life and a potential for good.
2. God Desires to Fulfill His Plan For Your Life and your potential --- He desires your Highest Good.
C. With The Right Godly Encouragement, We Can:
1. Survive the assaults of the devil against our lives.
2. Endure the persecution that comes our way.
3. Be Victorious over the circumstances that assail us.
4. Know Godís Peace And Joy!
D. To Know that God is a Loving, Merciful, Forgiving God --- always desiring Our Best and working to give us His Best --- should Motivate Us To Be Encouragers To Others.
1. Encouragement flows from What You Believe --- it is always an expression of your Faith In God.
2. Discouraging words are always an Expression of a Lack of Faith In God.
E. Again and again we see in the N.T. the message of Hope, of Change, of Growth, of Victorious Living.
1. Would Others Say That This is What Your Christian Life Consist of?
2. When your Life in this world is Over --- will you be Remembered as an Encourager or a Discourager?
3. Will They Be Sad --- or --- Will They Be Relieved?
Itís Your Choice .....
There Is No Second Chance After Death!
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