Why We Must Become Encouragers

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November 4, 2021

Hebrews 3:7-15 (NIV)

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”

CONSIDER THIS

So we are somewhere in the middle of this Daily Text series on encouragement. It’s why encouragement is so vitally important. We are somewhere in the middle of a wilderness. “How much longer,” we want to ask. We know we can’t turn back. We want to press on, but we are tired and growing weary. This is why encouragement figures so prominently in the lives of those who are following Jesus and seeking his Kingdom. 

I wanted to revisit our banner text in its entirety from Hebrews 3. Hebrews is not so much a letter as it is a message. It carries the freight of practically the whole bible story in the framework of a half-time speech to a winning team who feels like they’re losing and wants to quit. 

So, as the Holy Spirit says. . . 

The Holy Spirit is always speaking, encouraging, comforting, counseling, helping, guiding, warning, bonding, blessing, healing, and doing all the things God does. We see this in full and perfect technicolor display in Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. As he is was on Earth, so he is in Heaven and as he is in Heaven, so we are on Earth. That’s how “on Earth as it is in Heaven happens,” through his people formed by his Word, filled by his Spirit, being transformed into his own image—for his glory, for our good, for others gain. 

“Today, if you hear his voice,

Here is the big if. If you hear his voice. This is where and why encouragement figures so prominently in our life and faith. One of the every day ways we can hear the voice of God is through the encouragement of other people. It brings us back to our working definition of encouragement. 

To “encourage” in the biblical sense of the term, is to stand in the stead and agency of Jesus, participating in the work of the Holy Spirit, to minister grace to human beings at the level of their inner person, communicating, conveying, and imparting life, love, courage, comfort, consolation, joy, peace, hope, faith, and other dispensations and manifestations of the Kingdom of Heaven as the moment invites or requires.

do not harden your hearts

So here’s a word we shared a couple weeks back about how hardness of heart works.

Over the course of our lives, all of us have been through difficult trials. Unjust treatment, unforeseen losses, tragic deaths, life-stealing diseases, betrayals, relationship failures and all manner of pain and suffering. These things create wilderness seasons that can go on for long periods of time. These are the places where slowly and often imperceptibly lose faith in God. We would rarely identify it as such, but we begin to “shrink back” from real trust. We “believe” in principle, but not in an every day kind of trusting reality. We take on a wilderness wound and our hearts slowly begin to harden. We don’t so much choose hardness as we fail to pursue healing. We allow a wall of protection to be constructed around our heart, and while it does protect us in some ways, it also slowly and imperceptibly isolates us from God and others.

This is how sin deceives us. We mistakenly focus on sin at the level of our behaviors when they are merely the symptoms of the sickness. Sin, in its deepest essence, is the condition of an unbelieving heart and an unbelieving or untrusting heart inevitably becomes a hardened heart. And a hardened heart is the most dangerous place on earth.

as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,

This wilderness is always a time of testing. The issue is our hearts. Will we harden or allow our hearts to be hardened? The better question is will we allow our hearts to slowly and subtly shrink back and drift into the realm of unbelief? Recall, it’s not that we cease to believe “in” God. We just stop believing God. We go to sleep at the wheel of faith. 

This is why it says:

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Who will you encourage today? Who will encourage you? 

THE PRAYER

Father, I want to pass the wilderness test and I want to help others pass through it. Would you take my calling to encourage one another to the next level? Come Holy Spirit and let me hear your encouraging voice speaking over other people and take the risk to say what I am hearing. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Tell me an encouragement story that is emerging from this series in your life? Could be someone you have encouraged. Could be someone has encouraged you? What’s the story. Consider sharing it with our growing and active Daily Text Facebook Page Community. 

P.S. — ENCOURAGEMENT #4

ENCOURAGEMENT #4 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: I’m out to try and help people graduate from “Quiet Time” and move into a PREGAME PREP every morning. After all, quiet time is for pre-schoolers. We’ve got to move on to the big leagues. ADVENT IS THE PERFECT TIME—TURNING A NEW PAGE INTO A NEW DAY.  You can see all the details here. If you already have the book, The Christian New Year, be sure to choose that option on the dropdown to avoid buying another book—OR EVEN BETTER—get another book and invite a friend to join us. COME ON!

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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