Another Word from Pastor Ken 4-30-2020
Greetings on this rainy, bleak Thursday.
I would really love to encourage you today! I have been thinking about a passage in 2 Corinthians 7:4 (CEB), that reads: “I have every confidence in you. I’m terribly proud of you. I’m filled with encouragement. I’m overwhelmed with happiness while in the middle of our problems.”
Where does that encouragement come from? Why is Paul so encouraged? The Church of Corinth to whom Paul addresses this letter was a “problem congregation” in several ways. And yet, here he boldly states, “I have every confidence in you. I’m terribly proud of you. I’m filled with encouragement.”
I am not trying to be simplistic, but Paul’s encouragement basically came from the hope that he had in Christ Jesus. He expressed that often in his letters to the churches and to his fellow workers. He knew where he came from (a persecutor of Christians). He knew that he was forgiven by God. He also knew that life’s hope for him and for others, centered in the person of Jesus Christ.
It is basic to our understanding of our own context these days, that encouragement is not discovered or experienced totally in our circumstances. I confess to you that if our health is good, and we have food on our tables, and a dry and warm place we call home, then things are naturally more positive. But for some of us, who desperately need the fellowship of others, and our health may not be the best, and resources look scarce, it is more challenging to be encouraged.
Savannah Lindell wrote, “…the truth is if you’re living and breathing, you need encouragement! No matter a person’s age, position or stature, as human beings, we are wired with the innate desire and need for encouragement.” And she is correct. I am not minimizing the reality and need for encouragement from each other, which is quite biblical according to Hebrew 10:24-25 (NIV). “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Yes, we all do need encouragement, and yet I fearfully remind us that it will not come as a result of a “stage yellow” or a “stage green” pronounced by the Governor or State authorities. In fact, true encouragement will not come when COVID-19 has diminished beyond a threat. Our encouragement comes from the hope that we have in Christ the Lord.
We are celebrating Eastertide - the days and weeks between Easter and Pentecost. In just a few weeks we will celebrate this incredible day of Pentecost where God poured out His Spirit upon His people. This Spirit is the One promised by Jesus to His followers before He ascended. Jesus said His name would be Comforter, Counselor, or Paraclete (meaning One who comes along beside or to be with us).
True encouragement is found in our HOPE of Jesus Christ our Lord, and what He has done on our behalf. But we also have the promise of His Spirit who has come to be with us even in the midst of our pandemic. Here is the good news for today: He is with us.
Finally, I want to share this blessing (or benediction) from the Apostle Paul in Romans 15:13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Friends be encouraged. God is with you. God is with us.