Is there someone, a friend, a mate, a child you've tried to help and encourage that just doesn't get it, they won't respond, and you've decided you've had enough? Well, just before you give up on them, listen to today's message.
It might make all the difference in the world. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry motivating Christians to live like Christians. Let me ask you, wouldn't the world be a better place if more of us knew how to genuinely encourage people? Well, that's what we'll explore today as Chip wraps up our series, Lift the Awesome Power of Encouragement. Our prayer is that this study of 1 Thessalonians has motivated you to be a better, more intentional encourager in your day-to-day life. So, to help others learn about this vital practice, would you take a minute after this message and share it with them?
Now, you can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s that you'll find at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Well, with that, let's join Chip for the remainder of his message, How to Become an Awesome Encourager. He begins by continuing to highlight attitudes that build great churches. Final thing is we're to be patient with all men. Everybody. You ever heard the phrase, that guy's really short-tempered? This word is the opposite of that. You'd say, if you knew this word, you'd say, man, that guy is really long-tempered.
I've not said that about many people. You'd say, that guy really blows the stack fast. We'd say, this guy's got a long fuse. This word means we're patient.
We make allowances for others. This word means you don't give up on people quickly. It means that after you tell them once, you tell them again. After they blow it for the second time, you tell them a third. After they blow it a third, you say, what is it about this you're not getting and how can I help you be successful?
Not get with the program or you're out, bud. It's patient with all men. And when is it the most difficult to be patient?
It's when people do you in, isn't it? How does he say? Make sure that no one, make sure you, not the leadership, you, me, church of God, make sure no one pays back evil for evil. You want to jot down Romans chapter 12 verse 17 and following.
It'll develop that very clearly exactly what to do. It says, never take your own revenge, beloved. Leave room for the wrath of God.
Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. If your enemy's hungry, what should you do? Feed him.
If he's thirsty, give him a drink. In so doing, you will heat burning coals upon his head near ancient Eastern picture of what happens when a person has a change of heart or mind. Never be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. Good is powerful. Good is powerful in relationships. And when you give good, when people have given you evil, you can only do it by grace.
But it has a indelible impact on the lives of others. And so what we have here is some attitudes that build phenomenal churches. You have a group of leaders who work hard, lead well and admonish wisely. And you have a group of congregational people who say in our heart of hearts, we're going to respect them, esteem them and be at peace with them.
And then you have a whole church that says, you know, people that are stepping outside the boundaries that are unhealthy for them, we're going to warn them. We care enough to confront in this place. Those people that are a little timid and need a little boost, we'll give them a boost. Those people that are weak and need support, we'll support them. And those people that drive us crazy, we'll be patient. We will hang in there in our own strength.
No way. In the power of God, you bet. Those kind of attitudes build the kind of church that you'd have to bar the doors so that we get a seat this week. Because when you and when I can love people that way and one another, it's contagious. What's it require?
It requires the hardest thing for me in the world. I have to get my focus off of me, my needs and coming here saying, now, can't anyone see my needs? Why didn't anybody say hi to me? No one stopped me on the way out. Does anyone not notice that my wife hasn't been here for a few weeks or my husband? Has anyone noticed that I haven't?
Does anybody care? And, you know, when I live with that, what happens? I die. But there's someone here, regardless of how deep your needs are, their needs are about that much deeper. And you will find the great principle of our Lord is this. Blessed are those who give more than those who receive. You find someone hurting a little bit more than you and you come here with that outward focus. And all of a sudden, all those needs that are legitimate that you have, God in a supernatural way will meet.
Well, let's talk about how that works. So let's look now at the attitudes the apostle Paul ends with that Christians need to have. How do you build great Christians? He's told us how to build a great church.
But what kind of attitudes do you need to have to be a great Christian, to be a real encourager? He's going to give a word here about our private worship in verses 16 to 18. Then he's going to give us a word about our public worship and then he's going to talk about our spiritual growth.
So let's look at private worship first. Verse 16 through 18. Be joyful always. Pray continually or without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. Why? For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Boy, that's short, isn't it?
But did you notice three quick commands? Be joyful. When? When things are going well? Happiness has to do with happenings, circumstances. Joy has to do with the unchanging relationship you have with God.
In fact, the root word where we get our word joy, some of the related words are words like grace, words like one translation for one word in the New Testament for forgiveness, words like gifts. See, joy is a choice. You say, well, how can I be joyful all the time?
Let me give you two practical ways. One, focus on God instead of circumstances. If you focus on circumstances, you will ride a rolling coaster of ups and downs. You know, when things are going good, when things are going bad, if you focus on God, he loves you. Your eternity is secure. He is good. He is sovereign. He is faithful. You matter to him. He's not down on you. He wants to draw you close to himself. He has a plan for your life. Choose willfully to be joyful.
How? Focus on God instead of your circumstances. Second, focus on the unseen instead of the seen.
When's the last time you did that? You ever think about that? Think about some things that you can't see.
Think about a special person in your life that you know really loves you. Can you see it? Well, you can see some actions, but you don't see love.
You don't see relationships, do you? Think of the most special times. I just did a funeral about 10, 12 days ago, and people came up and shared about Jim's life. And, you know, it was interesting.
I sat there and I thought, let's see. No one talked about what he drove. No one talked about the 401K program that he had. No one talked about what kind of dresser he was, whether he was a good athlete or not.
No one talked about how many people reported to him or how he wore his hair or what his physique was like. You know what they talked about? His love, his compassion.
They talked about his relationships. They talked about all the things you can't see. You see, when we focus on the things that you can't see, see, those are eternal things.
All the things you can see or hear today may be gone tomorrow. Second, he says, beyond being joyful, always pray continuously. You say, whoa, wait a minute. We're all supposed to quit our jobs, find a little kneeler somewhere and just pray 24 hours a day. Chip, I've got to eat.
I can't pray 24 hours a day. I've got a job to do. I've got to drive the car. The word for continuously or without ceasing is used in other literature for a hacking cough.
Here's how God wants us to pray. Now I've got to do something else. Now I've got to do something else. When someone has a hacking cough, when do they cough? They cough every time they're not either speaking or breathing or doing something essential. But the moment there's a little window, what happens?
You cough. You see, the life that God wants for you has nothing to do with coming once a week here and hearing the word and even being involved in service. It has way more to do than once or twice a day reading your Bible and praying. The life God has for you is He wants to have a moment-by-moment relationship with you 24 hours a day when you're awake.
In fact, the psalmist even said that God gives to him even in his sleep. And so He wants you to be talking with Him when the focus of the job doesn't demand you, when this conversation doesn't demand you. So you're driving in your car and your thoughts gravitate toward God and you talk with Him. And you're taking a walk from your car out to the office building. You got a meeting and you say, Lord, boy, I don't know about this one and I'm really concerned about it. And you talk about it. And you've picked up the kids and in your car and they're jabbering away and you're having a conversation with God. Now, some of you don't do too much of this on the road.
It's dangerous. My wife says my prayer life's making a lot of progress, but my driving has a lot to be desired. And she'll say, didn't you see that?
And I'm thinking, no, I was having a good conversation, but it probably wasn't the right time right now. I read a book by a monk out of the 15th or 16th century called Brother Lawrence. The little tiny paperback, I don't even know if it's available anymore. It's called Practicing the Presence of God. That book had a profound impact. It's about a monk in that time period who he learned when he would peel potatoes in the kitchen, that was his job. He did it as an act of worship. And then as he would walk out and do the gardening that he was supposed to do, he did it as an act of worship. And all day long he would communicate with the Lord. And I began to realize that spiritual maturity isn't how many verses you have memorized.
It's not how many activities you're involved in. That part of spiritual maturity is measured best by how long has it been since you've been conscious of your relationship with God. I remember talking with God in the morning and then checking in at night and, you know, I don't know what He did and I know what I did. And as I began to grow in Christ, it was like, boy, I haven't thought about the Lord in three or four hours. And as I began to grow in Christ, it's like, boy, I haven't talked to the Lord in 15 or 20 minutes. And then pretty soon God begins to cultivate a heart and a life where you're just talking with Him all the time.
That's what He's saying. This is private worship. You choose to be joyful. You choose to pray. And then notice, finally, it gets even more difficult, give thanks.
When? In all circumstances. We know that when we're filled with the Holy Spirit, according to Ephesians 5, 18 to 21, when you're filled with the Holy Spirit, you'll give thanks for all things. But this says in all things as well.
Why do you do that? Because it's the will of God. Now, I don't think at all this means the trite things that I've seen go on. I've seen people in some groups where, you know, let's give thanks for everything. And they're always saying praise the Lord like they don't mean it.
And that really bothers me. Then you need to get in there and hurt with people and cry with people and go through it. But at some point in time, you've got to step back. At some point in time, as my friend who's in a wheelchair now because of an accident that took me about a year to learn to say thank you for said, Chip, you don't know what God's doing. You assume that the greatest thing in my whole life could be being able to wrestle in college and ride bikes and do the stuff we did. He said, you're angry at God. I'm not angry at God. He said he's done things in my life that sure, would I like to walk again?
You bet. But I wouldn't trade this. I said, what?
He said, no, I wouldn't trade this. So you don't you don't have any idea what God's done. See, God wants us to willfully thank him for all things and in all things. But here's the only way you can do it.
You go back to the basics. God is good. That means that not because you're good, not on the basis of your performance. That means that there is a benevolent God with a gracious heart that wants to bless you, encourage you, that you live under friendly skies and he longs to be your friend.
He's good every day, every moment, 24 hours a day. And he's sovereign. That means that anything that comes into your life is either decreed by God or allowed by God.
That means there's no accidents, no slip ups, no luck. He is good and wants your best. He's sovereign. So he either allows or decrees. And finally, you need to remember he's faithful.
Whatever he's purpose to do, whatever promise he made 100 percent of the time with you always, he will come through. And so when you face the issues of life that don't make any sense, you don't glibly say praise the Lord, but you step back and you say, oh, God, this is a fallen world and life doesn't make sense. But I know you're good.
And here's the evidence. I know that you're sovereign and I know that you are faithful. And as an act of worship and obedience, I choose to thank you to bring out the highest and the best, even if others cause this by evil motives. Those kind of people, by the way, are the kind that when I'm hurting or when you're hurting, you go to talk to. What I've described is Christians who have a private worship life of joy, prayer and thanksgiving because it's God's will. And the person that changes when you operate like that in your private worship is not your circumstances. These are the quarry 10 booms of life that the regular people sitting in front of you and behind you that live this way. And when you're hurting, we go to them because there is stability and character that has grown up because public impact.
Is just a symptom. Public impact always flows out of private worship. Wanting to have a great impact for God begins with choosing to rejoice, praying without ceasing and learning to give thanks.
And when you can do that by faith, you will learn who God really is and he will make you what he wants you to be. Well, he moves on now to public worship. And apparently during this time they were having some problems and, you know, in some churches in the New Testament, the people got carried away with some issues.
And in this church, apparently they were kind of poo pooing some of the work of God. And so we pick it up in verses 19 to 22. It says, Do not put out the spirit's fire or literally don't quench the spirit. The grammar means stop.
It was already happening. Stop quenching the spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt or don't despise them is the idea.
The word means to act as if it were nothing. But notice verse 21 test everything. Examine. When you come to public worship, he says, the spirit of God is going to be operating. He may be operating through a song, may be operating through the spoken word. He may operate in the hallway over a cup of coffee.
He may operate in a class. He may operate through a variety of spiritual gifts. Come and don't quench the spirit. Well, you say, how can I quench the spirit? We quench the spirit any time I know God is speaking to me and it's his will.
And I say, no. Don't ever pour cold water on what God is firing up. And so what's he telling us here? He says we need to be open to the spirit. And then he says, treat prophecies, what?
Be receptive to the word. Prophets job is to foretell the word. And then in the New Testament times here, they would foretell the word as well. It's prophecy. Jesus is coming back. The rapture. That was all foretelling.
But their primary job was to foretell, to teach. Now, not to make you all too uncomfortable, but God actually does want to speak to you often. Some of the promptings I've got from the spirit of God in my own life have come during the worship time.
There's some of you. I don't have to tell you this. You've never heard the first two songs of worship here. Because you're not here. And you need to prepare yourself for public worship. That means you get ready and maybe even have some time to get your heart ready. But it means you come with a mindset that says God is going to speak to me today, not just through the message. He may turn your life around through a phrase in a song or a prompting from the spirit or from a testimony.
And he may actually have someone he wanted you to meet out in front at five or six till. That you would speak a word of encouragement to their life. And so I would encourage you not to say, oh, shame on you.
That's not it. I just don't. I'm just trying to preach the passage. What's it say? It says, be open to the spirit, be receptive to the word. Seems to me that you can't do it if you're not here when we start. And then it says, be discerning and selective.
He says, test it. When you hear anything from any pulpit, when you hear anything from any teacher or preacher, radio, TV, whatever. The first thing you need to do is be like Acts 17, 11, that group, the Bereans. They receive the word of God gladly, examining the scriptures daily to see whether those things were so. Just because Chip Ingram says it, heaven forbid you buy and think it's true.
I mean, I have off days. You need to find you need to look at the scriptures. And I don't care who you like. Every every cult starts out with some guy that was on the right track. And people start following the person instead of the scriptures.
And then they he takes him in the ditch and he's in the ditch and the whole group's in the ditch. Don't ever do that. You test it. The word means like taking a piece of ore or metal. You test it with acid and you find out that's fool's gold.
And what do you do? You let that go and you hold on to the legit. That's what God wants you to do in every public worship setting. Be open to the movement of the spirit of God.
Be receptive to the word. Examine it for yourself. And then that which is true, hold on to that which isn't. Then avoid. That's the idea. Hold off.
Let it go. Finally, he's going to talk about our spiritual growth and our spiritual growth here. He's going to tell us that there's two big areas we need to remember. One is we need to be dependent. You never grow unless you're dependent on God.
But then he's going to flip the coin and say you're also responsible. Verse twenty three and twenty four is a prayer. He says, may God himself, the God of peace, sanctify. That means just set apart, make you holy.
You through and through. So where does God want to make you holy? Through and through your mind, your thoughts, your motives, every area at work, at home, everything.
Well, notice he develops that. He says, may your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless, pure, holy. When? Until the coming or at the coming of our Lord Jesus. Well, who's going to accomplish this great, miraculous change? The one who calls you is faithful.
He will do it. You can't change your life. I can't change my life. We just can't do it. But you say to yourself, does that mean that you just don't do anything?
No. In fact, look at verses twenty five to twenty eight. We're to be dependent, trusting him to do the work, but we need to make ourselves available to how he gives us grace.
Notice how he concludes this. He says, Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. Then he says, I charge you solemnly.
It's a strong word. I solemnly charge you before God to have this red, this epistle, the word to all the believers. Summary, the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. You know something?
It's interesting. He says, be dependent. Only God can bring about the change. But then the apostle Paul himself, which seems to be a pretty mature Christian, from what I can tell. He says, pray for us.
He needed the prayers of people and he knew people needed to pray. Greet one another with a holy kiss. Now, this went out of fashion between the third and fourth century. Christians would greet one another with the holy kiss.
And, you know, everything kind of goes south over time. So they had some a lot of men beginning to visit the church saying, man, this is a pretty this is a pretty neat group, you know, and they were hitting on all the ladies for real. You know, and so they're coming in and kissing all these women. So the church fathers about the third century said that kiss and stuff were not acts. We're not doing that anymore. But what's the idea behind it? It's warm, intimate, caring relationships. Well, isn't that biblical fellowship?
And then the third one was to say, I charge you have this read the word. You see, you can't change you. Only God can change you. But he doesn't do it in a vacuum.
He have this red when the word is read and taught. Grace flows. When you pray and talk to God honestly, individually or with others, grace flows. When you're in fellowship in a small group or out in the parking lot, you really share hearts and care for one another. Grace flows.
It's not either or. We're dependent totally on him, but we need to avail ourselves of how grace comes. That's how to be an awesome encourager. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and the message you just heard. How to become an awesome encourager is from our series, Lift the Awesome Power of Encouragement. Chip will be back to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. You know, we all face seasons of discouragement, doubt and hopelessness.
So how can we keep those feelings from polluting our hearts and minds? Well, in this series, Chip explained why encouragement is the answer. We hope that through this teaching in 1 Thessalonians, you realize how choosing to support and inspire others brings out your very best.
Let me encourage you to go back and revisit any part of this series. Now, you can do that by going to livingontheedge.org. That's livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's in studio with me now to share a quick word. Before we go any further in this program, I want to pause for just a minute. We've been talking about the power of encouragement. And I think there's a unique group of people that have a great need for encouragement and they're getting lost. Women in particular. Young women are being bombarded today. We've never seen such anxiety, depression and struggles among young women. But it's not just young women. It's older women as well who are being bombarded that as they grow older or as life isn't turning out the way they thought, feel like they're useless.
What's their purpose? My wife went through a very challenging childhood and then she went through some very, very difficult times where she felt unlovable and worthless and like she is of no use to anyone. And then the Lord got a hold of her life. And out of that, some good counseling and some time together, she developed these affirmation cards. We've had a hard time keeping them in stock as people have read them over and began to replace the lies of the world with the truth of God, especially designed for women.
Out of that grew a real demand. Literally a lady said, Teresa, you have to get this in a book form. And so we've created a very small, readable book in about an hour, hour and a half called Precious in His Sight where she shares not only her story, but the process by which she began to see herself the way God sees her. If you know some women, young or old, that need encouragement, let me encourage you to get these resources. Dave, could you give them all the info about how they can get these resources?
Be glad to, Chip. To get either Teresa's book, Precious in His Sight, or a set of our affirmation cards, go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. Both of these helpful tools are sure to encourage you in your walk with Jesus. And if you haven't thought of it already, this book or these cards would make great Mother's Day gifts. So place your order today. Express shipping is available to get these resources in time. For more details, call 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org.
App listeners tap special offers. Well, now here's Chip with some final application for us to think about from today's message. Well, we are at the end of the series. We've been through the entire book of 1 Thessalonians, and the Apostle Paul has modeled for us and written for us, inspired by the Holy Spirit, how to be an awesome encourager. We need to remember that people are hurting much more deeply than we know, and we have far more to give than we generally show. And those two dynamics need to be out in the forefront of our mind because encouragement is that little bridge between people's needs and their potential.
It's that bridge between where they're at today and where they could be and where God wants them. And see, God's made us as a body where I can't make it on my own, and you can't make it on your own. You know, as I read through the New Testament, every single time you find a command, it's in the second person, plural. And what I mean by that is sort of a Texas expression. The Apostle Paul never says, you, individual, walk with God, be filled with the Holy Spirit, do this or do that.
It's always like a Texan would talk, you all. He's speaking to a group. All these commands, all that we've heard, all that's written, God's plan is that in community we grow in Christ.
And so as we finished out today, how does that happen? One, it begins with your own private worship. Be joyful always. Pray continuously. Give thanks in all circumstances.
Yes, you must and I must cultivate that personal time with God where we pray throughout the day, where there's a time regularly where you get in the Bible. But second, there's got to be public worship. And that's where we're open to the Spirit's work and we're receptive to the word. And we're discerning and selective about what we hear. We test it.
Just because I say something or another Bible teacher says something, you take it and say, does it line up with God's word? And when you have private worship, public worship, in unity, you're going to see spiritual growth occur in your life and in the life of others. Great word and great series, Chip. Thanks. Well, just before we close, I quickly want to thank those of you who regularly give to Living on the Edge. You're making a big difference in helping Christians live like Christians. But if you're benefiting from our ministry in some way and haven't become a giver yet, let me encourage you to join the Living on the Edge team. Now, you can do that by setting up a recurring donation at livingontheedge.org or texting donate to 74141.
It's that easy. Text the word donate to 74141 or visit livingontheedge.org. Have listeners tap donate, and thanks for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, until next time, this is Dave Drouy saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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