WEEK THREE, DAY TWO, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK THREE THEME: COMMUNITY
DAY TWO THEME: GROWING IN COMMUNITY
SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 3:12-13 (CEB)
“Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God. Instead encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called ‘today,’ so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: We are our brothers’ keeper, and they are ours! As the Christian community, we are to hold each other accountable, sharing in each others concerns and joys, through encouragement daily – even minute by minute!
Encouragement is defined as, “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope; persuasion to do or to continue something; the act of trying to stimulate the development of an activity, state, or belief.” Encouragement requires action! Prayer is the perfect first step, and as we pray and keep on praying, we can seek God’s guidance on what else He may need us to do. Sometimes there is immediate need and sometimes we are to wait to that right moment – as God directs. As nudges come our way, we must act! Prayer for one another can never be underestimated, but to just pray and not listen and act on our nudges from God is lacking in encouragement. The art of being present with another in their day in and day out struggle over a matter requires a lot more than prayers. It requires a commitment on our behalf to be present, to be willing to plunge into the situation and surround it with not only our prayers but also our love and our care. Encouragement requires a judgement free zone of safety and relationship. The one in need of encouragement does not need to hear our words nearly as much as see our joint concern for the matter at hand.
Hebrews recognizes that none of us can function without the encouragement of one another. We have an inborn need to be with others. We need others when there is not a care in the world… and we need others when the world is crashing down around us. There are days when we are the encourager and there are days when we need encouraging. It is just as important to receive encouragement when we are in need as it is to be an encourager when the need of others is evident. God has given us a great gift in one another as we share in relationship in His Kingdom. His plan and His desire for each of us is perfect!
Our call to encouragement does not have a “holiday”. We are called to encourage each other every day… “as long as it is today”. That is a full time responsibiity to our brothers and sisters. Let us live lives that are prepared to encourage every step of the way as well as be willing to receive encouragement in those moments when evil has our attention causing hopelessness, fear and anguish in our lives.
Our call to encouragement is not just to become expert encouragers. Rather, it’s goal is to keep our sensitivity toward God and be the vessel of His encouragement. Why would that become an issue? Because sin’s deception is very present and ready to reel us in with lies, distracting us from our Father. If we are not careful, our ego and worth become wrapped up in our ability to “be there” for others as if we are the one “fixing” things ourselves. We are not the savior – Christ has handled that part. But we are reflectors of God’s power and presence and followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is our guide both in standing strong in the midst of evil influences as well as nudging us to care for one another – “as long as today is today”.
Becoming Kingdom Dwellers is much more than accepting Christ into our hearts one day and being baptized and joining a church. It is a conscious, on-going battle to remain within God’s loving arms and listening to His voice and leaning on the Holy Spirit for understanding and wisdom and action.
Let’s hear it again: “…encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called ‘today’…” We have a mighty calling! Let’s get busy!