Saturday, 16 March 2013
I received this prophetic word for our week of prayer from a member of my congregation. Thought I'd share it. We use the word ‘encourage’ frequently in the Christian life, so much so that its meaning has become diluted. We talk about something as being encouraging if it makes us smile, or cheers us up a bit and when we say we’re feeling discouraged we mean that we’re a bit low or a bit down in the dumps. However in God’s kingdom these two processes – encouragement and discouragement are hugely significant, they powerfully impact our effectiveness in serving God. Both of these words; ‘encourage’ and ‘discourage’ are based on the word ‘courage’ and courage is absolutely central to our walk with Jesus. · It takes courage to commit yourself wholeheartedly to serving God. · It takes courage to really ask God to show you what your part is in His Kingdom and it takes courage to then ask Him to work with you and in you so that it actually happens. · It takes courage to live for others rather than meeting your own needs. · It takes courage to listen when you feel you need to talk and sometimes it takes even more courage to talk to someone about what’s going on for you. · It takes courage to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal your wounds and weaknesses and allow Him to work in you to bring about full healing and wholeness. · It takes courage to change your lifestyle and habits so that you make time to hear His voice and get in touch with His heart and become sensitive to the Holy Spirit. · It takes courage to step into something new when He asks you to · It takes courage to let go of your plans and yield yourself to the unknown in God. God has a plan for you which involves laying down your life; your hopes and dreams, your fears and anxieties, your plans and ambitions and risking everything for Him. He then reshapes your surrendered life and to take hold of that life requires real courage. The dictionary definition of the word ‘discourage’ is this: “To deprive of courage, to dishearten, to dissuade, to obstruct by opposition or difficulty” That is the enemy’s job description – he spends his time trying to stop us, block us, make us lose sight of God and lose sight of who we can be in God. If he can diminish our courage he can reduce the effectiveness of our lives. The dictionary definition of the word ‘encourage’ is; “To inspire with courage or confidence, to stimulate by assistance or approval, to promote or advance” And that is the Holy Spirit’s job description - He spends His time building us up, moving us on, speaking words of life to us - through the Bible, through living in us day by day and through each other as we are obedient, hear God for each other and care for each other. If He can inspire our courage and confidence in Him, He can use us to be truly effective for God. Has God been stirring something up in you? Something that when you think about doing it you get excited but scared? Has He been challenging you to go beyond what is safe and comfortable into territory that you have never walked before, a place where you don’t know exactly what lies ahead? It might be to step into a new area of ministry; praying for healing for somebody, listening to God for somebody else and risking giving them a word of encouragement, telling a friend at work that Jesus is the most important person in your life. God may be asking you to start something new or to stir up gifts that you have allowed to become dormant over time. It may be something in your own life – there may be unforgiveness stashed in a cupboard in the back of your heart, there may be hurt or sin lying half buried, which you try to ignore but sometimes pops out unexpectedly and God is saying the time has come to bring it into the light and get it dealt with. He might be asking you to have faith for something that seems impossible or asking you to trust Him for an unknown future ... job, family, location. Whatever it is.... God wants you to have courage. He wants to ENCOURAGE you; He wants to instil courage in you and He wants us to instil courage in each other. When we stand side by side facing the land before us and the giants ahead – both as individuals and as a church – He want us to look to Him and know that He leads us and to look along the line and know that we follow His lead ... together. This is what God spoke through Moses to the people of Israel as they stood at the edge of the Promised Land. There were enemies lying ahead but there was also promise for the future: “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them for the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you”. Deuteronomy 31:6 Take courage and step into what God’s got for you.