1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-18 – For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
THEME OF THE DAY. HOW TO ENCOURAGE FELLOW BELIEVERS. God’s Word offers us many examples to follow and exhortations to obey in the ministry of encouraging one another. And this is a ministry for every Christian and so needed in our churches today. It seems there is heightened attempts by our spiritual foes to bring God’s people down into dark pits of discouragement, depression, even despair. No wonder. The devil knows Christians mired in these pits are flickering lamps, not shining lights, of the glory of God in the face of the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6). But before we address this vital ministry all Christians are to be active in, we need to quickly dismiss something that might be too widely believed by believers. It is this . . . Christians do get discouraged, depressed, even fall into despair. And it is not always and immediately because of sin. Yes, we have numerous examples in the Psalms of sin being the cause of these emotional experiences, but not always and it is the height of spiritual insensitivity to know a depressed, discouraged, and despairing Christian and immediately label it “sin.” But regardless of the source of emotional and spiritual pain, we are still to be “agents of grace” in the ministry of encouragement to one another – “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).
So, how do we enter the ministry of encouragement to other believers? What are ways we may lift the downcast from a spiritual fog, rescue the spiritually drowning, and be a source of spiritual healing to others? Allow me to offer two which might be the “top two” to put into practice in our ministries of encouragement to one another.
The first is the regular practice of fervently praying for “the God of all comfort” to be so to His hurting people (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Learn to pray more for other believers, and then extend such praying to include God’s purposes in the world, the purity of the church, advancement of God’s kingdom . . . basically, spend a whole lot of time praying more for others than ourselves. It will be of great help to hurting believers and our own spiritual walks with Jesus will deepen. It has been said, “We are never more like Christ than when we are praying for others.” And in this intercession is the ministry of encouragement.
Another way to actively minister encouragement to other believers is found in today’s scripture; remind one another of Christ’s Second Coming. The Apostle Paul would be very direct in this application. After he describes this coming of the Lord, he closes this section with the words, “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” Our ministries of encouragement to others must include reminders of Christ’s return for His church. Everything, including our pain, is seen in the right perspective when we ponder Jesus’ return. But we are forgetful people and that is why we need to remind each other that Jesus is coming back. Go back and read today’s scripture. This truth will burn away all the spiritual fog caused by discouragement, depression, and despair. Jesus is returning. And doing so for us, His Bride. Let the ministry of encouragement include reminding one another of this glorious truth.
PRAYER: Father, may I be conscious of my responsibility and privilege to encourage Your people.”
QUOTE: “Remind fellow Christians often of Christ’s return. It will always lift up a dark cloud of discouragement.”