ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER
I rejoiced when I saw some of the church family at South Cobb who came and encouraged me as well as the church in Franklin County Sunday evening. The church there appreciated the people who willingly came and encouraged them, driving two plus hours to get there, and then going back home. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for the effort, and the example you set.
As I considered this further, this is the way the church should be. We should be constantly encouraging one another to greater service for the Lord. The church of the first century needed this encouragement, as many of them were dying for the faith at a time when they were hated and condemned for following Jesus.
At the Franklin County church of Christ meeting, I was asked to do sermons on how Christians should react when we suffer persecution. As we live in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity, calling many of us intolerant bigots, hypocrites, and haters because we stand for what God says in His word, we are still to be the light of the world. We are still to love even our enemies, and we must continue to try to share the gospel with others. Such is our commission by our Savior Himself (Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-16). He lived it and asks us to do the same.
On Sunday’s Bible class we talked about how Jesus was threatened WITH DEATH eight times in the Bible, because he did not walk nor talk like the Pharisees, Sadducees and others. Why? Their message was NOT God’s message. Eventually they killed our Lord, but God forever showed that Jesus’ sacrifice would and could change the world if the message of God’s salvation through Christ was preached. God verified this by the resurrection of Christ from the grave. Jesus’ resurrection showed that God is in charge; that the eternal plan set out in Genesis 3:15 and throughout the rest of Scripture is truth! Jesus was raised from the dead and is now living in heaven with His Father, waiting for the Father to tell Jesus to go and get his church. We live for that hour!
The disciples of Jesus then followed in their Lord’s footsteps. They were persecuted. The apostles were targeted by the Jews, just as their Lord was. They were run out of cities. They were beaten, and all (with the possible exception of one apostle – John), were killed. They believed that dying for Jesus was an honor, and the least they could do for the one who died for them.
They, like us, did have issues with one another. Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways over the use of Mark (Acts 15) but this doubled the preaching and teaching that they did. They still considered themselves brothers, even though they had this disagreement (some in the Lord’s church today need to learn this lesson as well). As long as brothers and sisters are willing to work for and even die for Jesus, some of the issues that affect the church negatively can be worked through in such a way that God can be glorified. We just need to be patient with one another, and love one another as Jesus loves us!
The world needs the message of Christ! He has commissioned us to take that message to the world. We need to pray that God’s will be done in each of our lives, and ask God to open our eyes to the opportunities before us. We should strive to share the gospel with others! We should help the needy, encourage the bereaved and remind all that this life is not the end of the story. As with Jesus, we will one day be raised from the grave either to eternal life or eternal separation.
May we all encourage one another to faithfulness (as you did this last week) and greater service motivated by our love for the Lord.
Keep up the good work!