1 Pe 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Last week we discussed the fact that often life will throw us a curve or two along the way. We will find ourselves faced with circumstances that are not pleasant or just difficult to deal with. That isn't unusual for the believer. Peter reminds us that it is not the exception to face trials, but it is normal for us to expect such in our lives.
God has given us the blessing of free will. We get to make life choices. This is a great privilege, but like all privileges, it comes with great responsibilities. We may choose wrong! And the consequences of making a wrong choice can be devastating.
Three words that we are looking at in reference to the Christian walk are 'discouraged', 'encouraged', and 'courageous'. We get to choose what kind of Christian walk we will have. Last week we looked at the 'discouraged walk' and tonight I want us to consider the 'encouraged walk' of a believer.
I. We Can Choose To Be Around Those Who Will Encourage Us In Sin
A. We can choose those who hinder our Christian life They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? Ps 64:5
1. This is what every parent is talking about when they say don't hang around with the wrong crowd.
2. But this is more than a warning for teens…this also applies to mom and dad.
3. We decide what kind of influences we will allow in our lives.
4. There are those who will hinder our Christian walk…we need to avoid them! For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew (avoid) evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 1Pe 3:10-11
B. We can choose those who will help us go after the gods of this world So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved. Isa 41:7
1. This passage is talking about idolatry.
2. From it we can reaffirm that there will always be those who will be more than glad to help us travel down the road away from God.
3. The counsel of wicked men will always be wicked counsel.
4. How can someone who doesn't know the truth, be able to do anything thing but lead us astray?
5. Jesus spoke of the Pharisees as the blind leading the blind…and both will fall in the ditch. (Mt. 15:14)
II. We Can Choose To Be Around Those Who Will Encourage Us In God's Work
When he was a young boy the great painter Benjamin West decided to pain a picture of his sister while his mother was not at home. He got out the bottles of ink and started, but soon had an awful mess. His mother came home and saw the mess. Instead of scolding him, she picked up the portrait and declared, "What a beautiful picture of your sister!" Then she kissed him. Later in life he said, "With that kiss I became a painter."
A. We need encouragement from others.
1. Joshua had a tremendous task before him.
2. To lead the rebellious nation of Israel into the Promised Land.
3. To follow Moses' leadership, talk about tough acts to follow.
4. But listen to what Moses told the people of Israel with regard to Joshua.
De 3:28 But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.
5. Moses knew what a great task Joshua was faced with, and he also knew the value of encouragement.
B. We also need to learn to encourage others.
Jg 20:22 And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
1. As men prepare for battle, it is natural to be afraid and apprehensive.
2. But it is important to encourage one another in spite of the fear and apprehension.
3. As believers, we need to learn this valuable principle.
4. We need to encourage one another to be faithful in our Christian walk.
5. We all need this…because we are all in a battle!
6. The Hebrew word used here literally means to be fortified…in the Navy we called it being 'shored up' with additional support.
C. Barnabas was an encourager.
1. His name means 'son of consolation'.
2. When Paul needed someone to encourage him, God sent Barnabas.
3. He had been an encouragement to the apostles by his unselfish financial gift.
4. He had been an encouragement to the church at Antioch.
5. What a great example for all of us today.
6. We need to strive to be an encourager to those around us.
D. Encouragement tends to spread.
1. Someone said it was like peanut butter on a sandwich; the more you spread it around the better things stick together.
2. Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:7 that we will reap what we sow.
3. If we sow encouragement, we will reap the benefits.
4. Note the example of Jehoshaphat.
2Ch 17:6 And his (Jehoshaphat) heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
2Ch 31:4 Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD.
2Ch 35:2 And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD,
I. We Can Choose To Be Around Those Who Will Encourage Us In Sin… or II. We Can Choose To Be Around Those Who Will Encourage Us In God's Work…
We get to decide. It is our choice whether to be around those who would encourage us to walk with God or those who wouldn't. We also get to decide how people will remember us. When our name comes to mind, do people think of us as encouragers? We get to choose…what will our choice be?