One of the things I hear most often in ministry is, “I just don’t ever see God doing anything in my life.” The truth is, nothing could be further from the truth.
When we see God’s activity in our life and in the lives of those around us, that becomes a major source of encouragement for anyone to see.
God is active. He has a plan for your life and my life and is working it out to completion. That much is easily clear from the Bible.
But often, God’s activity in our lives is dependent upon our faith. When we believe that he will do something, he often follows through on that. If we don’t expect God to move, we will probably never see him do something. I’m not saying that he isn’t doing something, but we will surely miss whatever it is.
But when our faith gets involved, that seems to add energy to God’s activity, and increases it to the next level.
I believe that we need to expect God to do something in two critical areas of our lives.
Discouragement comes pretty quickly when we take our focus off of the end goal. One of the best ways to stay encouraged is to keep the ultimate goal in mind at all times.
All too often, especially in ministry, discouragement hits like a ton of bricks. There are lessons and sermons to prepare, people to visit, programs to plan, office tasks that need to be accomplished, and a ton of other stuff, some related to my role as a minister, some more mundane. Like sweeping up the mess left behind after an event, or filling the paper towel holders so they will be ready for the next event.
At times like this, the busyness can be overwhelming, and discouragement is just around the corner.
One of the best ways to combat this discouragement is to remember the true purpose of the church. Jesus stated it pretty concisely when he gave his followers the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When you look at the big picture, all the busy details fall into place, and everything you do seems worth the effort all over again. I believe that there are three main ways that remembering the purpose of the church helps us to stay encouraged.
10 Amazing Coffee Facts – These short snippets of coffee information were originally posted on National Coffee Day, back on September 29. I just stumbled across it this week. Fun information to know, if you are into the coffee culture.
The Heavens (And Octopuses) Are Telling Of God’s Glory – Several years ago, I watched a video about the mimic octopus. For years, no one even knew it existed, since it could blend into its surroundings and mimic other creatures so effectively. This video shows several similar skills that octopuses have. Pretty impressive!
Bizarre And Deadly Lake In Tanzania Turns Birds Into Stone – Due to the super high alkaline nature of this lake, animals are calcified into stone. Nick Brandt takes these birds and bats, and sets them in living poses for his photography. It’s surreal and sorta Poe-ish.
20 Tips For Personal Devotions In The Digital Age – We live in a culture that is inundated with the media in all its forms. In the midst of a busy digital culture, how do you keep your spiritual life in order? David Murray offers twenty tips to help.
18 Obstacles To Personal Devotions In The Digital Age – The day before he posted the twenty tips, David Murray identified eighteen obstacles to keeping our eyes focused on Christ in the digital age.
Why I Use Illustrations – I met a guy in a coffee shop a few weeks ago who proceeded to critique my preaching skills once he heard that I was a minister. To my knowledge, he’s never heard me share a message, but that didn’t stop him from telling me his opinions. His biggest soap box was about the use of illustrations. This article shares how effectual illustrations can be in teaching and preaching.
A Unique And Helpful Ministry For Stay At Home Moms – I recently examined 1 Timothy 5, where Paul exhorts Timothy concerning the care of widows. Often, stay at home moms aren’t targeted as helpful ministry partners, simple because they seem so overwhelmed by the pressures of raising their kids. The post explains why they might just be the best resource for a ministry to widows.
The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray. – George Muller
In last week’s passage, Paul give a very personal charge to Timothy, although it was given in the context of the false teachers. In our passage for this week, Paul expands on that charge, and makes it very solemn.
You can see it in 1 Timothy 6:13-16:
This is a bit of a bigger passage than we normally take a look at. But since it’s all one continuous thought, it doesn’t make sense to break it up over a couple of weeks. So let’s look at it in its entirety, verse by verse.
God is described as the God who gives life to everything. The verb used here conveys the idea that God gives or preserves life. This brings the image to mind that God holds all things together and keeps the universe in motion (Colossians 1:17).
Paul goes on to state that just as Jesus made the good confession before Pilate, and in this he encourages Timothy to stand fast and hold to the good confession he made when becoming a follower of Christ. While the specifics of what Paul intended aren’t clear, this much is easily inferable.
Paul calls Timothy to “keep this commandment.” There is some debate as to what this refers to, and there are several possibilities. (1) It may refer to the charge just given in verses 11-12; (2) a charge he received when he was baptized; (3) a charge he may have received at his ordination; (4) all of Christianity, in whole; or (5) the commandment for Timothy to persevere in his own faith and ministry, which we saw in 1 Timothy 4:16. In my examination of different commentaries, there seems to be equal support for each of these, especially the second and last ideas. Regardless, Timothy is to keep this command until Christ returns.
One of the biggest needs we face in our contemporary society is the need to be encouraged. Especially during the Christmas season, it seems as if discouragement is rampant, and finding ways to stay encouraged is difficult.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 states:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Can you imagine anything more encouraging than God himself taking the time to comfort you? That’s exactly what this passage says. God himself encourages us. Why? So that we can pass on that encouragement to others. And we draw that comfort and encouragement from his direct communication with us, the Bible.
There are several reasons for this. God’s Word brings us life (Matthew 4:4). God’s Word brings us understanding (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119:18). God’s Word brings us salvation (1 Peter 2:2, Romans 10:13). God’s Word brings us delight (Psalm 1:2), and strength (Isaiah 40:31). And much more.
But God’s Word also brings us encouragement.
Look at what Romans 15:4 has to tell us:
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
I think that God’s Word encourages us in at least five ways.