Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. God never intended the believer to live in isolation.
Note the Christian life is built for relationships. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reinforces this fact as he continues his classic series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. All week long, we've been concentrating on the role of the church and the power of living in community.
By the way, you might gather from some of the dated illustrations that this message comes from deep in our archive. Chuck titled his sermon Encouragement Served Family Style. I've had a song on my mind for the last couple of days since we began a conference up at Forest Home. In fact, it's one of the great songs of the church that our music director, Howie Stevenson, began the conference with. Well, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Now, I thought about that as I sang it to myself time and again. Who wouldn't like to be in a home like that? And is it possible that there is such a place not located on the range, but located in a busy city like the one in which we live? Maybe it's too ideal to be true.
So I wrote another one that would go with the same tune. Oh, give me a church where folks in the lurch are encouraged then healed from above, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the truth is modeled in love. Maybe that home on the range is a little bit too ideal to be true, but what about a church like that? Ever been in one like that?
I'll have to show my prejudice and say that I believe if there is one that would qualify as near to that as I've ever seen, it would be our church. I really believe that. As a matter of fact, I think that's the reason most people keep coming back. Because here is a place where folks in the lurch find a measure of healing and encouragement to go on. Where I can't say never is heard a discouraging word, but seldom, seldom is heard a discouraging word.
Isn't that great? Because we live in a world where it seems as though the theme of life is to discourage people. I checked with Webster and found that the verb means, the verb discourage, to deprive of courage, to dishearten, to hinder, to deter. And in contrast, the same source defines encourage as to inspire with courage, to give spirit or hope, to hearten, to spur on, to stimulate, to give help. That's what it means to encourage. As a matter of fact, it's a simple word to define. We know the word enthusiasm and theos is the root. It means to put God into something, to put theos into someone. And if that's true, then encourage would mean to put courage into someone.
And I can guarantee you the people you would least think need it, need it. I was hurrying to get away on Friday for the conference up at Forest Home and I whipped through the mail and dropped most things, but I grabbed a copy of Sports Illustrated and I took it with me because I wanted to have a little relaxing time and I usually read it from cover to cover by the time my copy arrives and I, while reading it over the past couple days, I came across a most interesting couple of stories. Neither one of them was a feature article, but both of them intrigued me because they had to do with athletes, one of whom is very well known and one you probably have never heard of.
But both will surprise you because you would think neither would ever need encouragement. First is Mickey Mantle. The article begins when Mickey Mantle says that he's concerned about something, health, hitting, television, anything, he seems very much out of character. The Mickey Mantle that we think of never worried. That mantle simply hit home runs.
Isn't that true? You think of the name Mickey Mantle, you think of somebody who stood up at the plate with a wooden stick and kept knocking that little ball out of the park and was the idol of every kid in that generation. The article continues, late in June, Mantle, 53, began suffering a persistent headache and noticed a small swelling at the base of his neck near the lymph glands. Mantle says the swelling can be a sign of Hodgkin's disease, which claimed his father, his two uncles, and which his son, Billy, is now fighting. Frightened, Mantle underwent tests at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. The doctors have ruled out cancer, but they really don't know what it is.
So he's hanging in the balance of this undefined disease that's causing his neck to swell, and if you travel in the world of sports and you read on it, you know that he's now in the sportscaster's booth and he, at this age, is entering another career as a sportscaster. So he's afraid about that. Sometimes, the man says, with a certain detachment, I sit in my den at home and I read stories about myself. Kids used to save whole scrapbooks on me. They get tired of them now and they mail them to me, he says.
I must have 75 or 80. I'll go in there and read them, and you know what? Still quoting.
You know what? They might as well be about Stan Musial or Joe DiMaggio. It's like reading about somebody else. The truth is, the article concludes, the Mickey mantle we remember was never a proper likeness. Right now, he is an apprehensive mantle concerned about his new career.
If you follow sports, like many of us do, you would never think that would ever be true of a Mickey mantle. Here's another one. It's entitled, Nobody Wanted to Believe What Happened. Nebraska football players will wear the numeral 94 on their helmets this season in tribute to senior Brian Hymer, age 21, who died after shooting himself in the head August 13, the day he was to report for fall practice. Hymer's death shocked an entire state. Nobody wanted to believe what happened, says Bill Morgan, owner of the A&B Cafe in Hymer's hometown.
Everyone wants to know why. The article continues, and I draw excerpts. An all-state kicker and tight end, as well as a yearbook editor and the prom king, Hymer had a storybook high school career. At Nebraska, he was dubbed the comeback kid. When he was cut after his freshman season, he persuaded head coach Tom Osborne to give him another chance. He then rose rapidly from 10th on the Cornhusker depth charts to first string.
It describes his great season last year. Then it says, Hymer had returned to the family's 320-acre farm from the university on Friday evening, August 9. Over the weekend, he mowed the grass and walked the fields with his father. On Tuesday, however, Loyola Hymer noticed that her son was unusually restless and quiet. That afternoon, while his father was in the north fields and his mother was in the house, Hymer walked behind a wooden shed, sat down with a.22 caliber rifle, one bullet in the weapon.
He was found about 4 p.m. by his father. Walking near the shed last week, Willard Hymer said, You look for something. A warning. Maybe there was a reason, but Brian didn't tell us.
Nebraska's now preparing for the season opener against Florida State on Saturday, September 7, but the team has already suffered its biggest loss of the season. Hymer is gone, and no one understands the reason. One man says, Whatever it was, it will rest with Brian. It could be your son. It could be your daughter or mine. It could be your roommate or it could be your mate. It could be your mom or dad. It could be the person who sits right next to you in church or right behind you or in front of you. It could be this person that sings alto next to you in the choir or plays clarinet with you in the orchestra or sings in the civic opera or is in the same trade as you and you run across each other three or four times a year. It could be a buddy of yours you graduated with.
It could be somebody on his staff or your staff. I don't mean to be dramatic about it, but I'm talking reality with you, and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of those words, give me a church where folks in the lurch are encouraged, healed from above, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the truth is modeled in love. That isn't just some dreamy idea that comes out of a theoretical mind. That comes out of the scriptures. We are commanded by our God to encourage one another.
Did you know that? It is a command. In the New Testament, Hebrews chapter 10, beginning at verse 19 down through verse 25, and I have in mind especially the last two verses in the passage, we find the command to encourage.
I'd like you to turn for a few moments and then we'll go over to Proverbs and select a few that talk about the importance of our tongue when we're with people. Hebrews 10, it's built to a climax. All the way through the focus, the spotlight has been upon Jesus who has opened for us a new and living way to the Father. We don't have to go through a system of works. We don't have to go through some man who is called our priest. We don't have to work our way into the presence of God and hope that he will lend an ear and listen to us. No.
No. Hebrews 10, 19 begins with facts. Since, therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and while listing the facts, since we have a great priest over the house of God, since we have both those things, let us do three things. See verse 22, let us. Verse 23, let us. Verse 24, let us.
Those are commands. What are we to do since those things are true? Number one, let us draw near, implied, draw near to our God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. Let's be sure that our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. This is symbolic language saying, let's come into the presence of our God clean and pure. Let's have no lingering sin hang like an anchor as we attempt to storm the throne with our needs. Let's come pure and clean.
Let's do it. It's a command, the next command. And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. Or it says, he who promised is faithful. Take the book of God and its promises and its truths and hold on to them as you come into God's presence clean and pure. Take his truth and let it be your stability in time like these.
But he's not through. There's a third command. Since we have confidence, verse 19, since we have a priest, verse 21, let us, 24, consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Did you ever know that was in the Bible? Let us give thought to how we might stimulate our brothers and sisters in the family of God. It isn't just a suggestion, off-the-cuff idea. Oh, by the way, it might be good while you're holding fast to the faith to toss in a little encouragement.
No, this is a command. Before the ink is dry, in the other two commands, with equal importance, let us draw near, amen. Let us hold fast, amen. Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. But he's not through with the thought.
It's completed in the next verse. Not forsaking our own assembling together. See, you can't stimulate someone else to love and good deeds if you're not around them. It's impossible to be an encouragement if you live in a cave or if you push away from everyone else and you're not in touch with another soul and Sundays come and Sundays go and you do not fellowship with people of the faith. You can't be an encouragement.
You're away from them. Encouragement is a face-to-face thing. It's a touching thing.
It's a relational thing. So he says you can't forsake the assembling together as has become the habit of some. Now watch this, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Let me give you a couple of thoughts here, both from verse 25. Encouragement is not the responsibility of a gifted few, but of all in the family of God. Now maybe the role of pastor is a responsibility for a few. Maybe the role of elder is a responsibility for a few.
Maybe an office as a teacher is a responsibility for a few people in a church. But I don't find this passage addressed to any specific body but to all the brethren. So encouragement is not the responsibility of a gifted few, but of all in the family. And there's another thought, and I get it from the last part of the verse, all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Here's my observation. Encouragement is not something that's needed less in the body but more as time draws near. That is the time of Jesus soon coming. Encouragement isn't needed less now that we're reaching the end of time, it's needed more.
You know why? Put in the margin of your Bible and read it later, 2 Timothy 3, 1 and following. In the last days, perilous times will come. And then he describes the perilous times. Interesting word that Paul uses translated perilous in the King James Bible.
Troublesome is the paraphrase that some will use. I like the term savage which comes from a translation of the word in the Matthew's Gospel where it describes a man who has a demon. And he has supernatural power. He can't be controlled by other human beings and he's literally going wild. He is, in the words of Matthew, savage.
It's the same word used in 2 Timothy 3, 1. In the last days, savage times will come. Those are the days in which we live.
Now why do I camp on that? Because that's the reason we need encouragement all the more. When you walk out of an assembly where you are protected simply by law, the protection of religious freedom in our country, and when you are surrounded by the majority of believers, this is the only place where that happens, you move into savage country. You move into a place where your life is at stake, where you are threatened, where you are intimidated, where most do not name the name of Christ and do not love his cause.
And when you make the fact known that you do love him, then you are the target of affliction. Some of you are going through times just like that. And battered and bruised from the savage world, you stumble into a place called your church, the assembly of believers. This is the place you need an encouraging word.
This is not a place where you need to hear verbal put-downs and sarcastic jabs and critical comments and needless confrontation. This is a place we need to assemble for the purpose of being encouraged. One New Testament scholar does a mighty fine job of tracing the meaning of encouragement in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, he begins by talking about how it is used in the early days outside the New Testament. He said it is used of exhorting troops who are about to go into battle.
The long galleys cheered each other line by line. Euripides, the poet, describes the plan of battle as he says, so they did hail them, cheering them to fight, the word translated here, encourage. Parakaleo, to help, to comfort, to console, to encourage. Xenophon uses it of urging soldiers to embark upon the ships and to set out on an adventurous voyage where there was risk involved.
They were encouraged to do it. Polybius uses it of Demetrius, rallying his men and addressing the ranks before they embark upon battle. As a moral booster, again and again, we find that the verb is the word of the rallying call.
It is the word used of the speeches of leaders and soldiers who urge each other on. That's the word translated in our Bibles, encourage. This is Insight for Living, and there's much more coming up as we approach Encouragement Served Family Style.
To learn more about this daily Bible teaching ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, as you listen to Insight for Living today, perhaps you are craving the type of encouragement that Chuck described. He's actually written a brand-new book that I know you will find uplifting.
It's called Clinging to Hope. In his book, Chuck describes how to cultivate a satisfying relationship with our Creator. These are tough questions, such as, how do we make sense of the suffering in our world?
How do we recover when we lose someone we loved? And where is God when we're deeply disappointed? You'll enjoy reading Chuck's biblical response to these questions and more. And this is a wonderful book to pass along to a friend or perhaps to a child or grandchild who needs a dose of encouragement. Again, Chuck's book is called Clinging to Hope. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash hope, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. As we close today, let me encourage you with this comment from a grateful listener who said, Chuck, just a few minutes ago, while waiting for my coffee to brew, I was praying to our Father about a deep heartache.
This heartache is one that I don't have any control over. When reading your daily devotional today, God's peace swept over my heart. Our Father continually amazes me. He brings peace when I need it most. Well, that moment was made possible in part by those who financially support the ministry of Insight for Living. And if it's been a while since you've sent a donation, we invite you to join us in this worthy effort to bring biblical hope to the hopeless. Here's the number to dial.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online at insight.org. . Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun, all in the company of those who share your respect for God's Word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when He created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier July 1 through July 8, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message, Encouragement Served Family Style. That's next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Encouragement Served Family Style, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, and 2011, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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