S‑1078 11/09/2008 26SAP/3A Hymns: (O) #1; (S) #370; L.S.# 199; #206; #201; (C) #57 S.O.B.
Texts: Amos 5:18-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Theme: “Encouraging Words A” (1 Thes. 4:18).
Armour, SD. SOLIE DEO GLORIA.
Question: “When in your life could you have really used a word of encouragement“?
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle Lesson: “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:18).
Saints in Christ, Tuesday night was a sad day for SD. After the election was over, it was clear that many in SD don’t regard life as precious. Initiated Measure 11 was voted down by the biggest lie that I have ever heard from the opponents, who said, “The people have spoken for healthy families.” Now tell me what is “healthy” about killing an innocent baby in the womb? What is “healthy” about the destruction of lives of mothers and babies? Yes, the people of SD have spoken, but be assured that the fight is not over, because life is very precious in the sight of God and should be to us also.
On Wednesday I was in Sioux Falls. While there I stopped at the Alpha Center (pregnancy Crisis Center the leader of Initiative 11 VoteforLife.org campaign). When my wife and I stopped at the office, the ladies had sullen and downcast faces. I told them, “Not to lose heart, because God is in control even if we don’t like the end results!”
On Thursday, I got an e-mail from the Alpha Center. Here is a snippet of the message: “I am writing you today with truth and courage on my heart. I am feeling extremely disappointed about the results of Initiated Measure 11 in South Dakota, as I am sure many of you do, too. This Measure would have eliminated 97% of abortions being used as birth control in South Dakota and would have protected hundreds of unborn children and their mothers. But it lost at a margin of 55 to 45.” (By Kimberly Martiniz via e-mail).
These ladies and the many volunteers, who have worked very hard for two years, needed an encouraging word during this sad time in our State. While with them at the office, we all held hands and began to pray together for God’s guidance and direction for what He would have us do.
Encouraging words are very important because they change our outlook on things. Encouraging words are essential to help us on our journey. Encouraging words are valuable for both the head and the heart. Encouraging words, we all need to hear daily.
In the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, we read of the Jewish people’s return to the land of Israel and their attempt to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Many opponents rose up and attempted to distract them from their labor. But the Prophet Nehemiah, would not allow anything to get in the way of finishing the project—the building of the walls. He kept encouraging those who were working hard not to give up. As the walls were getting closer to completion, the opposition grew louder and stronger and began to do everything to thwart Nehemiah’s efforts. But to no avail. Finally, Nehemiah spoke and said: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). These words of Nehemiah were sufficient encouragement for the workers to complete the wall.
In the text before us today, Paul gives us an encouraging Word. Not a word about the outcome of an election, or the building of a wall; but rather an encouraging Word about the Eternal Life, that Christ has given us through His resurrection from the dead. This is not just any encouraging Word, but the Word that speaks clearly and completely about what happens to those who die in the Lord.
In the beginning of the text, Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes these words: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13). Paul wants to encourage his readers and his listeners not to be discouraged, but to be encouraged in the reality that on account of Christ we have hope that we will rise again.
Paul told the believers in Thessalonica that on account of Christ, those who die in Him have fallen asleep. What comfort that is! What rest that is! What encouragement that is! Those who fall asleep in the Lord will rest from the temptations of the devil and the trials of this world. They will experience no more pain or sin. They will experience no more the afflictions and agonies of the world we live in. This hope that Paul wants to encourage in other believers is also our hope.
Today, as believers in Christ, we speak that encouraging Word to others as Paul has done in the past. We speak it because it is the ONLY Word that will help us keep on going when our lives and nation are falling apart. We speak an encouraging Word so that others may know the same loving Father, who sent His Son to relieve us, deliver us, and rescue us from the eternal damnation of hell. The encouraging Words we speak are… PAUSE
Take time to read and study the Scriptures and you will find many authors who speak an encouraging Word to us. Consider this: In Peter’s first epistle he writes these Words; “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Chris” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Peter is speaking from first hand experience. He knows disappointment and discouragement and even fear. His life is an encouragement to me who has fallen into sin. We meet Peter as a prisoner of the Lord in Rome not long before his execution under Nero. It is Peter’s final exam in the school of faith. His faith in Jesus enables Peter to face death. The memory of Jesus’ revelation at the Sea of Galilee enables Peter to encourage other believers. Peter holds out to them the hope that is ours in Christ’s empty grave and beyond our own grave.
Our faith may be tried in different ways. We may be in our own prison, hospitalized with an incurable disease, or awaiting the outcome of major surgery. Peter, Paul, and Nehemiah encourage us to realize that even in these trials and temptations there is a divine purpose that God will mold us and fashion us to be a light to Him and His Gospel.
To encourage others is a blessing for us Christians, even when we least think we should be doing so. But to encourage others is so important. PAUSE
A mother was preparing to go to her father’s house to help him celebrate his birthday. Her 15-year-old daughter Kathleen wanted to go with her boyfriend to pick up his brother from school. The mother agreed but said, “Go straight to Grandpa’s house.” Before the mother went to her dad, she picked up her husband and went to the grocery store. While at the store she heard the sirens of police, ambulance, and fire trucks. She said to her husband, “Someone is in need, let us pray.”
As they got to her dad’s house, her father met them at the door and said, “There was a terrible accident and someone lost his life,” and that they needed to get to the hospital as fast as possible.” Her heart sank as she thought about her daughter Kathleen. As they pulled into the parking lot, one of the paramedics, someone they have known for years, met them at their car.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he said with tears streaming down his face. They quickly walked into the hospital and began to talk to the doctor in the hallway of the ER. He asked them if they believed in God, and with that the mother’s knees gave way. “No,” he said, “You don’t understand, do you believe in divine intervention?” “Yes,” was their response; not having a clue what he was talking about. The doctor smiled and asked, “Do you know what shirt your daughter was wearing, tonight?” Shaking their heads no. The doctor replied, “Go down the hall and look. Your daughter is blessed with angels and so are you. From what the emergency personnel told me, there is no way that your daughter should be alive, let alone only have a few scratches.” When her parents got to her, they hugged and sobbed. As they checked their daughter’s shirt, they read these words, “JESUS SAVES.”
Yes, Friends it is Jesus who saves. He saves us not from car accidents, not from fires, not from tragedies; but He saves us from the eternal fires of hell. It is Jesus who wipes away our sins by His blood. It is Jesus the Savior whom Paul wants us to know about and what He has accomplished for us through His death and resurrection from the grave. There are no greater words of encouragement that we can speak to others about today, than what the Apostle Paul has shared with us in this text. And what an encouraging message God gives us—we are forgiven! We are saved! And we are heaven-bound! For this reason Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another with these words. God grant us the grace to encourage others with these Words. Amen.
Now the peace…