Friday, August 31, 2007


Do you need encouragement today? Of course you do. Do you know anyone who doesn’t need encouragement today? We all need to be built up, if for no other reason than because it’s so easy to talk ourselves down. Circumstances get hard, our faith starts to slip, and over time, our confidence in God’s goodness and our passion for Him disappear.

There is a solution to this problem: Go to church.

No, that’s not just my clever marketing ploy; it comes straight from God’s Word. It’s the Bible that connects encouragement with attendance at church:

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

I have a couple of friends with diabetes. They need to constantly monitor their blood sugar level. One of them gives himself insulin shots to keep his body balanced and healthy. The other one hates needles and is trying to manage the disease through willpower. Guess which one is having a harder time?

Encouragement is the insulin to our souls. It reminds our inner person that things will be okay, that God is trustworthy, and that we are loved and cared for. We all need these reminders to stay spiritually healthy. When we try and manage on our own, we crash.

The way God designed this encouragement to be distributed is through the church. If you’re skipping out on meeting together “as some are in the habit of doing”, you’re losing spiritual health, and are going to have a much harder time managing life. God has something incredible for you at church; don’t miss it!

Last Sunday, we talked about “How to Get the Most Out of Church”, and you can listen to it here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How To Not Lose Heart

We've been having a great sermon series this summer on the "Tools of the Trade" of being a follower of Jesus. It's been very practical and we've been focusing not only on the motivation for things like prayer and reading the Bible, but also on how to do it.

Last week's really seemed to strike a (good) nerve with a lot of our people, so I thought it deserved a blog entry.

It was about How To Not Lose Heart. (You can listen to it here.)
We talked about what losing heart feels like, how to recognize it in our lives, and how the Bible tells us to persevere and remain faithful. The passage we studied was the first six verses of 2 Corinthians 4. Later on in that same chapter, Paul gives even more reason not to lose heart:

“We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

You might think that with such a phrase like “light and momentary affliction”, Paul is being glib or overly simplistic about pain and struggles. But Paul went through far more than we probably ever will. He’s not ignoring the depths of affliction, he’s saying that compared to eternity, they’re not nearly as stressful as we think.

Paul says our problem is not one of circumstances; our problem is one of focus. We lose heart when we start looking at the wrong things. We look at the pain instead of the cure. We look at the gloom of today instead of the hope of tomorrow. Most importantly, we look at the sorrows of this life instead of the joys of the next one.

Every day, we are being renewed; we are being improved. Isn’t that an awesome thought? God uses hard times in our lives to prepare us for the future. When we’re in the midst of the pain, we don’t want to hear about the future because we can’t see it. But that’s Paul’s point: what we see isn’t ultimately real; it’s transient. What we hope for is what we can’t see: the true reality of glory beyond all comparison.

So don’t lose heart!

Some practical steps mentioned in the message that will help:
ELEVATE your prayer life
EXPECT Biblical things
EVALUATE the right things
EMPHASIZE the positive things
ENDURE the hard things
ENJOY the small things