I have a question. Are you an asset or a liability? Are you a giver or a taker? Wow. You know, are you an addition or a subtraction? Wow. Good questions to ask ourselves. Are you a has been and I am or I never was?
Well, I can remember when I wasn’t anything at all when Jesus first got a hold of my life. Have you ever been that down that you didn’t know which way was up? Who’s been there? When you’re that done, you don’t know which way’s up. Well, that’s how I was. I was 23 year old, three children, under three in a very dark place. I didn’t know it at the time but I suffered incredible postnatal depression. Anybody that’s got three children under three knows exactly what I’m talking about.
You’re busy from morning till night. I used to wake up at six in the morning. My husband had already gone to work. And you know, he never returned back to the hostel 6 o’clock when they were all bathed, fed, and looking like little angels ready for dad to play with them for a while. So, I was the one that, you know, was all day just with three children under three. You don’t go shopping with children, three children under three.
There’s a lot of things you don’t do with three children under three. Even going to church, I used to go home and be less holy than when I went in the first place with three children under three. We didn’t have a crash by the way and we have both, the children’s church and now for the one to two year olds, which is means that you know, you’ve got somewhere to go and you can still hear the word. But who knows? Faith comes by hearing. Hearing by the word of God.
And when you’re under the word it’s a powerful thing. But I know what it means to be in a really dark and deep place. So remember the first time I heard Corrie Ten Boom who was in a concentration camp. I remember her saying this phrase. There’s no pit that’s that deep and that’s dark. That God is not yet deeper still. And I have I’ve received the greatest revelations in the darkest places of my life. Amen.
So if you’re in a dark place, you’re in a good place to really hear from God. My wonderful husband, Pastor Greg, shared in the first service and we have been married for 48 years to each other. Which is a real feat these days, amen. But I can remember when I was first saved, I was very, very insecure.
In fact, Lord reminded me through worship this morning. I’m sure he’s got a sense of humour. But even if we were at somewhere and I had to go to the ladies I would get my handbag and tuck my handbag under my arm and I’d figure out where the ladies was and then I’d put my head down. I couldn’t even look people in the eye. I was so insecure. Both Pastor Greg and myself are first-generational Christians. Both of us were raised in very dysfunctional homes.
So we met when I was 17. Married a few months later and you know, he, my husband has been so wonderful at telling me I can do things that I didn’t think I could and that’s why I want to share a message today on the power of personal encouragement. Because if we can encourage each other, we can pull a prince or princess out of each other. There is a spiritual man or woman inside each one of us that’s just waiting for each other to pull it out.
And I believe that we can do that for each other. One of the greatest ways we can do that is by personally encouraging each other. Pastor Greg used always say to me, love, you know, you can speak better than me. You can talk underwater with or without information. You’d be brilliant at preaching. And I used to say, you’re not getting me up there. When we first started pastoring our church, Pastor Greg used to do the preaching and he used to always say to me, why don’t you get up and say something?
Now, you gotta understand, well he first come home from work which was many years before that and he said, honey, I’ve got a revelation. I said, really? He said, yes. He said, I think I’m called to be a shepherd. I said, what? You’ve gone mad. I’m not going to be a pastor’s wife. Look at me. I’m loud, noisy, outspoken. I give you your opinion whether give my opinion whether you ask for it or not. I said, I can’t be a pastor’s wife.
They’re nice to people. They smile at people all the time. They never say anything that’s out of kilter. You know, they’re so, I don’t know, etiquette and I didn’t think I had any of those qualities, amen. Don’t worry, God’s had to really work hard at you know, getting me to where I am today but I think, you know, and he used to be constant. He was on my case.
Anyway, for 7 years, I said, no. And I remember the after he’d come home with this great revelation that he’s called to be a shepherd, Noah, sure I wasn’t. I said, you’ve married the wrong person. You know, I’m sorry but you’ve married the wrong person. I can’t do that. I can’t bake cakes for old ladies and go to visit people and stand next to you and just smile nice. That I just didn’t figure that I could do that.
Now fast forward. 10 to 15 years when I was actually doing it. We started pastoring a church in Hilde, one of our beautiful, older members, something like Betty. She was like, what are the stories I’ve heard of Betty? Hilde was very much the same and she used to make Greg Black Forest Cherry Cakes. He loved him. He was so sad when she passed away then he couldn’t have his Black Forest Jericho. But I can remember when we were in hospital Hilde kept falling out of bed so we had to we had about four or five nurses in the church so we recruited everybody.
My parents were up at the time. So I got my mum involved because she’s a real passionate, cuddly, lovey sort of person. And she’s in glory now but I can remember we all took shifts. And I can remember on the Saturday afternoon just after Hildi passed away. It was an amazing thing to be of, you know, the passing of somebody from this life to go to be with Jesus and the look that was on her face was just incredible.
I’ve been with people that are Christians. I’ve been with people when they’re not Christians and all I can say is the presence of God is in the room where the person that is a Christian and the look on their face is totally different but I can remember walking out of that room just after she passed away and I was halfway up the hallway and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and he said, you said you’d never do this.
And the most amazing thing not only was I doing it but I wanted to. I believe only God can put a want to in us when we’re willing to pay the price. Amen. So the spirit of encouragement to me is really really powerful. And I think of Nehemiah. Let’s just have a look. At Nehemiah. Now Nehemiah’s found out the walls are broken down. He’s living now in a very privileged position. And see when God first got a hold of me. I wasn’t capable of doing very much in the kingdom because I was so wounded, so rejected, and was so insecure myself.
Now, my parents love me. I come from a very loving home But yeah, spiritually speaking, my parents weren’t Christians. So, they did not know how to nurture my spirit. And when I had my own three children, I knew that they were my personal disciples and that my major role in my mothering was to nurture their spirit as well as hopefully get them to behave themselves.
But you know it says here it like so Nehemiah was in a privileged position. God’s taken him from having his feet in the miry clay and setting his feet upon a rock. And he knew his God. He’d heard from heaven. Pastor Greg shared that beautifully the first service. Our ability here from God is so important. Then we have to believe it. Now sometimes that’s a real work of the spirit. To work it through and work it through until we actually believe it ourselves.
And you know that we’ve gotta have the courage then to step out and do what God’s asking us to do. And put our shoulders back and our head up and know that you know we are ministers of reconciliation. We are ambassadors for Christ. Everywhere we go. You know our lives say something about us.
So you know Nehemiah had felt the pain of the people. He went to God in prayer and he got the answer. And then this is what he said to them.
It says Nehemiah exhorted the people. That’s the heading in my King James version. It says:
Nehemiah 2:17-20 NKJV Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
You know, when we decide that we’re going to do something for the Lord, there is always opposition. The darts that are in your mind, and you know, we need to feed our faith and starve our darts to death. Amen. And believe what God says about us. I say that to my little granddaughter, she’s now eleven. But right from when she was five or six, you know, because she’s very short and when she started school, she was shorter than the other kids so she copped a bit of mockery from the other children.
So I taught her to say I am fearfully and wonderfully made and this my soul knows very well. But I taught her to say it with attitude. You know because you gotta have the attitude behind it. And my goodness we need the defences. We need the walls built around our own life. And then we need to support and build the walls of protection of God’s word around each other’s life. Because what we’ll see us through as we continue to build this thing called church. Amen.
So in one Corinthians 14:31, it says this;
1 Corinthians 14:31 NKJV For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
Now, I’m talking about edification, exhortation, and comfort. I’m not talking car park prophecy where we say, thus says the Lord I think you’re going to Siberia. That’s directional prophecy. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about we all have the gift and the ability to encourage each other. To edify, to exhort, and to comfort each other in times of need.
Acts 11:23 NKJV When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
Acts 15:30-33, here we go again. This is in a letter. Thank God for Betty. She sent out so many letters. It’s someone who has to pick up the ministry that’s now finished. You can’t write letters from heaven. Amen. It says this.
Acts 15:30-33 NKJV So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles.
Now, I’ve asked them this next scripture up on overhead because this to me is really powerful and I believe that this can actually happen today.
This is Romans 10:11-12. Have we got that? Yes. It says:
Romans 10:11-12 TPT My desire and constant prayer is that I would succeed in coming to you, according to the plan and timing of God. I yearn to come and be face-to-face with you and get to know you.
That’s not Facebook. That’s not church online. Although I believe all those things are powerful. But I believe the word says face to face. That’s what it means. My face in your face. Your face in mine. Ours in each other. Amen. Face to face. With you and get to know you. So we meant to get to know each other. Amen. For I long to impart to you some spiritual gift that will empower you to stand strong in your faith.
Now this means when we come together and a side by side give the person next to you a nudge. We’re side by side. something wonderful will be released. How beautiful is that? We can expect all of us have got an expector. The expector is your faith at work on the inside. Now, our expector can go to sleep. It can be disappointed to sleep. It can be frustrated to sleep through the grief or trauma that we go through. Our expector can go to sleep. I’m encouraging you to get your expector out this morning.
Says we can expect to be co-encouraged and co-comforted by each other’s faith. Isn’t that awesome? That this morning we can be that, you know, to each other. We as Christians are called to preach the good news, not the bad news and see, it’s very easy when our life is upside down, when nothing’s going right, when we don’t know how to call on God, when we’re insecure, but what about when God starts to put our life together?
Put your hand up if you believe you’re a better person and in a better place than when you first got saved. Look at all these hands going up, right across the auditorium. Well, the Lord clearly to me one day and he said, I’ve sowed much and I into your life and I’m a really good farmer but I expect a harvest from the seed that I’ve sown and see, God has an expectation over your life and my life that we’ll get over our insecurities, that we’ll get over our rejections, that we’ll create a bounce back factor that nothing can fall down.
You know, Greg was mentioning me this morning when we were in roads. We went to the what do you call that thing? The castle that they built and it had three big thick walls. You know so thick. I don’t know how many metres thick they actually are. Of walls of protection that were built around where King Arthur you know and his knights were. And we went inside and just looking at it. It’s absolutely magnificent. But inside he had a chapel.
And said you know you weren’t supposed to go any further than this rope but I could see where he was kneeling on the stones actually had an indentation into it. And I thought I’ve just gotta go and kneel there. I just want to be where he was and he used to pray before they would you know go out to battle. And see many of our walls are actually broken down. Many of the walls around our life have been broken down often through no fault of our own.
But I’m encouraging you today that we can help build them back around each other. This church over the years has taken some hits. The enemy rises up and tries to attack us and break down the walls. He’ll take out a key leader. He’ll you know he will keep the pastor so busy he hasn’t got time to be doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Many of the ministries will be attacked. And that’s why it’s so important that we keep each other encouraged. The ministry a power of encouragement to build a church.
I used to say to my children when they were young. I used to say this is a house of refuge. When you go out into the world, they’re going to mock you. They’re going to overgo at you. Your dress is too short. It’s too long. Your hair’s too curly. It’s too straight. They’ll always be somebody that doesn’t like you just the way that you are. But right here in this family, we don’t call each other names. You know, this is a house of refuge. Let’s build it to be that. Amen.
Now, that’s exactly what church it is supposed to be. Now I believe we can lift the water level. Because until Jesus comes we’re not going to be perfect. Amen. But until then we can have a good go at it. With God’s help and God’s grace over our lives. I believe if we release the ministry of encouragement in a much stronger way we will build a wall of refuge around this church.
You know I can remember years ago it was the thing to go for spiritual healing and they do what they called back then they call it prayer council. And I thought jeez you know with Greg’s background I thought he really needs some prayer council. And we won’t go there because it was you know it’s a long story. But I can remember going to see this guy and thinking because he had a really rough upbringing.
But I could remember walking into this guy’s room and he said oh quick he called out to his wife. He said get a tape recorder. You know his wife ran and got the tape recorder. He said, oh, I’ve got a prophetic word. This is a uniting church ministry. It was amazing. He said, and then he prophesied over Greg’s life.
He said, when you were eight year old and you were in that train station, his mother had thrown him out of the house and told him he couldn’t go back, eight years old. He called out to God and he said, I built a wall of love around your heart that not one arrow can get through. See, that’s what God can do in your life and my life when we to call out to him and say God I need you. Strengthen me. So that I can strengthen others.
Encourage me God so that I can be an encouragement to someone else. You know when God feeds us then we’ve got something to feed somebody else. So many times when I’ve had my quiet time on a morning sometime during that day someone will need the very thing I’ve read that morning. Or the scripture that you know I’ve been praying through. So I want to encourage you. We can be such an encouragement to each other.
The Gift of Encouragement
So my first point is we all have the gift of encouragement. We validated that by the word. You’ve all got the gift of encouragement.
Learn to Encourage Yourself
Number two, learn to encourage yourself. Because self-care saves lives. Amen. When we look after ourselves and keep our spirit fed then we can be an asset to the body. Instead of a liability. We can be a giver instead of a taker. Amen.
We can help move things forward. Instead of pulling them back. You know look at Nehemiah 4:4. It says here
Nehemiah 4:4 NKJV Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!
Because they were mocking them. They told them oh you, it says in verse two it says what are these feeble Jews doing?
Nehemiah 4:2 NKJV And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
You know and like that’s what the enemy will say. Inside our head. Who do you think you are? Well you know what do you think you’re doing? You’re not going to be able to do that. We have to silence the voices in our head as well as the voices that other people speak over our lives and we have to literally take God at his word.
And see no matter who you are or how strong you think you are. Or what a warrior you think you are. Even warriors need encouragement. This is King David. And it says that he was revived by the word in Psalm a hundred and nineteen. He says:
Psalms 119:25-28 TPT Lord, I’m fading away. I’m discouraged and lying in the dust; revive me by your word, just like you promised you would. I’ve poured out my life before you, and you’ve always been there for me. So now I ask: teach me more of your holy decrees. Open up my understanding to the ways of your wisdom, and I will meditate deeply on your splendor and your wonders. My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come strengthen me and encourage me with your words.
So it’s okay to feel done. It’s okay to feel discouraged. But just know where to run. Amen. Know where to run to encourage yourself. To strengthen yourself.
I had a girlfriend whose named Glory. But she was like my spiritual mum when I first got saved. And I could remember going to her and having a big whinge about how terrible the pastor was. And I thought well that’s okay. It’s only my girlfriend. No one else is listening you know. I thank God for men and women that are prepared to tell me the truth. Amen.
Be nice when you’re saying it to me but I thank God for people that are prepared to be honest with me. Because it says, you know, faithful are the wounds of a friend.
Proverbs 27:6 NKJV Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
And we need to be able to speak honestly and openly to each other when we know each other well enough to do that. Anyway, I said to her, this minister in the United Church, he was taught to preach to a dot on the wall and that’s all she ever preached to. So, she’d stand and preach the whole message to just used to drive me nuts. I think, why doesn’t she look at why doesn’t she do something? My girlfriend really rebuked me.
She said, Janet, it’s not her job to feed you. It’s your job to feed yourself. You got to learn to run to God yourself and let the word feed you and I remember the very first time, the following day, when I was having my quiet time, I was reading through Beatitudes and said to me, don’t jump through your Bible everywhere. Just go to where you’re at next and I was reading through the Beatitudes and said, blessed are those who the hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. And I just started weeping.
I thought God you’ve just filled me up and I didn’t even know it. See if we hunger and thirst for righteousness God fills us up. And then we’ve got some more to give other people. I can remember one Monday morning. We’d had you know big conference thing for the weekend and I was feeling very if ever I wanted to resign it was always a Monday morning.
Came in and I could remember I had a basket full of washing and I just managed to get the kids off to school. They’d all been scrapping with each other and I was over them and over the church and sick of people and I that was how I felt that morning. And I was walking out to the washing line. This big lot of washing and thinking oh I had this big workload ahead of me. The house looked like a bomb had gone off. And I said oh Lord I can’t keep this up. You know I can’t keep giving and giving and giving. Who do you think I am?
And the Lord said really corrected me and he said, no. He said, the giver himself lives inside of you and I never run out. And that’s when I realised, you know, we can shut our flesh up and I realize right then to one of the first lessons I learnt when I was new Christian was that I could be tired and still be nice. And for some of us, that’s a real revelation, amen. That you can be tired and still be nice. Proverbs 18:20 says,
Proverbs 18:20 TPT Sharing words of wisdom is satisfying to your inner being. It encourages you to know that you’ve changed someone else’s life.
Amen. So, I think we need to tell ourselves a new story.
Learn to Encourage Others
My third point is to learn to encourage others. Now, there’s a lot to that we can do this. Nehemiah 4:14. This is how he did it.
Nehemiah 4:14 NKJV And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
Through the years you know, we’ll get to share this as time goes on. I have had to learn to fight I’m not a natural fighter. I don’t like pain. Amen. But in the spirit, I’ve had to learn to fight some battles because I knew if I fought something and I broke it off my life, the generation behind me didn’t have to. That’s why we need men and women to rise up in the spirit, get over your disappointments, get over you and your insecurity and realize we’ve got a kingdom to build and everything to build it is at our disposal.
And one of the weapons that we need in our hand is the spirit of encouragement. You know a little bit of encouragement can go a long way. I can remember once we were had a big conference coming up and I was already plastered. I’d had such a busy week. I’d administrated everything. I was, you know, I was thinking, oh, God, how am I going to get through this weekend?
I think I had about six people parts of the visiting ministry and the conference speakers for that weekend. We’re sleeping at our place so I had to look after them as well as you know and I’m thinking oh what am I going to feed them? We can’t just take them all out for dinner for the entire weekend. Cost us a fortune. And then just as I was having this big complain there was a knock at the door.
And it was Jennifer. Beautiful Jennifer. She was one of our saints in God. She’s in glory. I’m sure she’s still interceding for me up there. She rocked up the door with two huge esky’s full of food and it was like because I’d said to the Lord when I’d prayed that morning Lord I need somebody to encourage me to get through this weekend. I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off. And here she was at the door with two big eskies full of food. Like you know that was one thing she could do was cook. Amen.
And that she’s got no idea how much that meant to me. After she’d left I thought I didn’t have to worry about any cooking. All I had to do was heat it up and we had enough food and some leftover. The kids were eating it for a day or so after that as well. It was so good but Romans 12:8 says this:
Romans 12:8 TPT If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others. If you have the grace-gift of giving to meet the needs of others, then may you prosper in your generosity without any fanfare. If you have the gift of leadership, be passionate about your leadership. And if you have the gift of showing compassion, then flourish in your cheerful display of compassion.
There’s many ways that we can encourage each other. We can you know do it with words. It says 2 Chronicles 18. It says:
2 Chronicles 18 NKJV Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Therefore please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.”
They need encouragement as well. So A, you can do it with words. B you can do it with gifts of giving. You know I don’t know whether you’ve given anything to anybody. I remember last year. I was in prayer. And the Holy Spirit said to me I want you to give your car. Now, one other time I’ll tell you the long story of how I got this car in the first place. I didn’t pay a cent for that car. The Lord gave me that car.
Now, the Lord wants me to give it away and at first, I resisted a little bit. I thought, oh gee, you know, we have to get by with one car and really want to do that but I knew, you know, you just know it’s God. When you’ve trained yourself to hear the voice of God on you, this is God. So, I rang my daughter up and I knew she was going to say, oh, you can’t do that, La la. And I said, Kelly, I said, you argue with me because God said to give it to you.
You know so don’t say that and say, oh mom, you know, you’re outlandishly, I said, Kelly, my generosity is nothing compared to the king. You know, you’ll never outgive God regardless of what you give away. Anyway, for four or five months went past, I didn’t think too much more of it. I’d given, it was a good car. I might add. It was a really nice car.
Anyway, Greg decided he was going to go back to work into aged care at that stage. And my youngest son rang me up. He said, mom, if dad’s going to go back to work, what are you going to do for a car? I said, I don’t know. He said, oh, I’ll ring you back later. Anyway, half an hour later, he rang my other son. They got their heads together. He rang back and he said, mom, go and order any car you want. He said, we’ll pay for it.
Honestly, I just wanted to cry. I thought, we can never outgive God. You know, and my children, a testimony of that, you know, we’ve tried the best of our ability to give and to sow, and to be a blessing to the people that are around us. And see that same gift of encouragement, of giving, of generosity that’s available to each one of us.
I know you don’t believe me. I was a selfish brat when God first got a hold of my life. Amen. And he’s had to really work me over for me to become a giver. And he can do that for you as well. Amen. You know it says in Deborah in Judges 5. And I love this scripture. This stirs me up every time. It says when leaders lead people willingly offer themselves. And Deborah says:
Judges 5:6-7 NKJV In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted and the travelers took the byways. Life in the villages ceased; it ended in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders who then fought at the gates. And I think you know let’s rise up. So maybe you can stand to your feet.
I’m going to pray for all of us. There is an element of rising up that only the Holy Spirit can work inside us. Amen. And it is the work of God. We are as you know workmanship. We’re vessels. And if we just yield ourselves to the workings of the Spirit. Spend time hearing from God. Having that ability to hear from God. Believing. But you’re capable of doing anything. God asks you to do. And then having the courage and the guts and the confidence to say God I’m going to step out into everything God’s called me to do.
And one of the ways that we can do that is understand we’ve got the ministry of encouragement over each one of our lives. We’ve gotta learn how to ourselves and if we do that we can extend and start encouraging those around us. Amen?