Lasting Hope

Part 3 of a series on encouragement. Click here (for Part 1) and here (for Part 2).

Hope in Jesus

The author of Hebrews reminded his readers that because of who Jesus was and what Jesus did, we now have real and lasting hope. It’s not what we sometimes call hope, which is really nothing more than wishful thinking, like “hoping” your team wins the big game this year. Instead, it’s a hope more akin to an absolute fact because it’s grounded in the work of Christ and the promises of God.

This Jesus, the writer encouragingly reminded his readers, is supreme over our problems, our circumstances, and whatever else is weighing us down. Jesus is where those early believers were directed to place their hope. It’s where we too are called to place our hope.

These Three Things

The writer to the Hebrews encouraged his readers to do three things. The first thing he said was, because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did, and because God’s promises are true,

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (Emphasis Added)

In other words, we don’t have to stand at a distance from God. We can come close to God and know him. We can have assurance that he loves us and that he’ll keep his promises.

The second thing he says to is,

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Emphasis Added)

We have hope because God is a promise-making and promise-keeping God. It is that God in whom we place our trust and hope. We therefore can and should hold to it unswervingly.

The last thing the writer encourages his readers to do is this:

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. [25] Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Emphasis Added)

Encouraged to be Encouragers

In these two verses we’re encouraged to be encouragers. The underlying point is we can’t encourage one another if we don’t often see each other, if we don’t meet together, if we don’t participate in worship and other forms of fellowship together, if we don’t know each other. Whether it’s Sunday morning worship, a Sunday school class, a Bible study or small group, an accountability group, or a close Christian friend, you are unlikely to know what’s going on in someone’s life if you are not meeting together. Others will not be able to know how to encourage you if you stop meeting with them.

Christians Need One Another

Christians need to be with each other to encourage one another. This was the heart and soul of how John Wesley understood discipleship. This is what it means to watch over one another in love.

But How?

What does it mean to encourage one another? We often think of encouragement as simply a pep talk or the power of positive thinking. It includes a little of both of those. But it’s far more than those. Here are some ways the word “encouragement” is translated in the New Testament: Beg, comfort, desire, pray, plead, console. As previously mentioned, it literally means, “to come alongside another person to help out.” That’s what Barnabas did!

Panic!

During my last year of seminary, it finally started to dawn on me I would soon be graduating without any actual pastoral experience. I had never done a funeral. I had never performed a wedding. I had preached a total of two or three times in my whole life. I had not even led a worship service. And they were actually going to appoint me to a church? Had they lost their minds? I thought so.  

Thankfully, there was a wonderful and godly professor who took me under his wing and met with me once a week to help me. He encouraged me by telling me I wasn’t the first baby bird to be kicked out of the nest.

He encouraged me by building me up. He encouraged me by investing his time and effort in me. He encouraged me by giving some practical “how to” help as well. And, he encouraged me by giving me a little pep talk from time to time. Like Barnabas, he came alongside me to help me when I needed it most.

Who Do You Know?

Who do you know who is discouraged, depressed, scared, or hurting? Who do you know who has lost their way or is struggling with something serious in their life? Who do you know who seems to be stagnating in their faith or even moving in the wrong direction?

Friends, they need your encouragement. They need a timely word. Will you encourage them? Who will if you won’t?

Maybe It’s You

Maybe you are the person wrestling with one of those things. Are you connected to your brothers and sisters in Christ? How else will they know you are in need if you are not regularly meeting together? How can they encourage you, strengthen you, comfort you, and help you if they do not know what is going on in your life?

Our Ultimate Encourager

It is true we need each other. Yet we must never forget that our hope is in God. Psalm 10:17 says,

Psalm 10:17 – You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry

By all means encourage one another. By all means allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to be encouraged by others. We need each other. But never forget our ultimate encouragement comes from the person and work of Jesus Christ and the hope we have in God’s promises. The encouragement we offer others ought to primarily point them to their real Hope.

Walking Points

  • Who do you know who needs encouragement? What are you doing to come alongside them, like Barnabas, and encourage them?
  • How about you? What’s going on in your life? Where are you struggling and hurting? Who is encouraging you?
  • Do you regularly meet with a group of Christian friends? If not, find a group to join this week.
  • Are you already part of such a group? Then why not find another person to encourage and invite him or her to join you.

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