Greet One Another

I’ve certainly enjoyed the One Another series this summer! Thank you to Daniel and Dalton for preaching and blogging for me while I was away. It was great to be back preaching on Sunday! While there are 59 “one another” passages in Scripture, and we only looked at 10, it is clear that God commands us to do life with others. You cannot “one another” yourself! The way we live, act, and treat one another is evidence that we belong to Jesus. Living out these “one anothers” is living out the gospel before a watching world. The final command we will look at is “Greet one another…” (Romans 16:16).

It is Visible
Romans 16:16 says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss….” To greet with a kiss was a common practice in Bible times, and still is in parts of the world today. If it is not cultural to kiss, it may be to bow, to shake hands, or even to stick out your tongue. What these greetings have in common is that they can be seen. They are visible. A “holy” kiss takes the normal, cultural greeting and sanctifies it. We can greet each other with a holy handshake, a holy fist bump, or a holy high five. It is different in every culture. The form changes, but the function is the same. Demonstrate your love for others. A holy greeting is a genuine, heartfelt, appropriate, visible expression of love, not to be misunderstood or misused.

It is Valuable
In this chapter, we read the longest greeting list in the Bible. Paul mentions 35 people by name! He had many friends and he valued their friendship in the Lord. These people partnered with him and risked their lives for the sake of the Gospel! The church is family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ! Greeting one another is not optional or trivial. It is commanded. Paul used their names. The Bible lists the names of David’s mighty men, those who served with him. Do you know people’s names? When you go to a church it is obvious if there is someone there to greet you. Some churches are like the frozen chosen! No one smiles, speaks, or waves at you. Don’t be a cold fish or snobbish! We must work at waving at one another, greeting one another, and saying, “Good morning!” and “Glad to see you!”

It is Victorious
Romans 16:17 says to “note those who cause divisions and offenses.” It is the nature of love to warn against anyone or anything that would harm those we love. We must oppose what is harmful or evil. Spouses do that for one another. Parents do that for their children. The Bible not only lists David’s mighty men, but also his enemies! God lists those who helped Nehemiah, and those who opposed him. Whose side are you on? Will eternity reveal that you helped or hindered the work? Remember the story of the prodigal son? Did the elder brother greet his brother? No! The father embraced and kissed him, but the elder brother is religious. He hears the music and hates it. He refuses to celebrate. The greeting, the kiss, the celebration, and the focus on the lost is right! Churches are dying across America because they spend all their time and resources not reaching the prodigal, but trying to pacify the elder brothers! God has not called us to make sure cranky Christians are happy! Mark and avoid those who divide!

Verse 20 says, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” How did Judas betray our Lord? With a kiss. The kiss of death! Some people will mean the kiss of death on a church. That is not the end, however, because God promised in Genesis that He would send a Messiah. Satan would bruise His heel, and He would crush the Serpent’s head. Jesus is crushing Satan under YOUR feet!

Jesus welcomed the lepers, sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans. We must greet and welcome all nations, people groups, and the marginalized of our day. Because Jesus prays for, comforts, prefers, forgives, and encourages us, we can do the same for others. Because Jesus welcomed us into His family, we can greet and welcome others into the family.

Comfort One Another

What a great day of worship we had on Sunday! Our son Daniel, Worship Pastor at the Greenbrier Campus, did his CD release concert. If you missed it, you can purchase a CD Sunday at your campus at the Media Center. He did a great job on this project and we could not be more proud of him and the worship team! Our services Sunday morning were so full of the Lord’s presence; it was one of those days where you don’t want to leave! The message was on comforting one another. Everyone is hurting. “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18) is so practical and personal. Paul unpacks this idea further in 2 Corinthians 1, where he uses the word “comfort” nine times. In this passage, we see four reasons why we can comfort one another.

The Presence of God
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we read that the “God of all comfort… comforts us in all our tribulation….” Tribulation can be physical, emotional, financial, or relational. It is a one-size-fits-all kind of word. Fill in the blank with whatever you are going through! In John 14:26, the Holy Spirt is called the Comforter. God said, “When you go through the fire I will be with you” (Is. 43:2), and “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). We have a God who stands beside us to take up our cause, encourage us, strengthen us, and comfort us. In order to experience comfort, you must first experience tribulation, hurt, pain, and know what it means to mourn. God is the only source of comfort. When you complain, feel sorry for yourself, wallow in self-pity, or grow bitter, you cut yourself off from the only source of comfort.

The Purposes of God
The second half of verse 4 says, “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble….” God lets you go through some things knowing somebody will travel that same road. In 1992 when we buried our little boy, a lady said, “Pastor you cannot see it now but God is going to use this in your life to help so many couples who have lost a child.” God sent us to the school of suffering so we would learn comfort. God does the comforting, but He uses people. God’s comfort will fill your cup till it runs over! God gives us enough to meet our needs and the needs of others. Another purpose is that we might be emptied of all self-reliance. Verse 9 says, “that we should not trust in ourselves but in God.” Dr. Ron Dunn used to say, “You learn to trust God by trusting God. You only trust God when you have to. God will see to it that you have to.”

The Promises of God
Verse 20 references the promises of God. The difference between happy and unhappy people is not the absence of trouble, it is the way they respond to their trouble. There are two ways you can deal with problems: God’s way or the world’s way. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” God’s way changes your heart. The world’s way produces death, anger, bitterness, and resentment. There is no comfort in unbelief. There is a God and we have the promises of His word to hold on to! Think about the 23rd Psalm, Isaiah 42:1-3, Romans 15:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Romans 8:28, and more.

The People of God
In 2 Corinthians 1:1, Paul talks about Timothy. In 2 Corinthians 7:6, he says God “comforted us by the coming of Titus….” There are people all around us ready to give up on life, give up on their marriage, kids, job, church, etc., but God is going to send YOU to comfort them and spur them to keep going.

Sometimes, God allows things He hates to accomplish what He loves. Do you have a broken heart today? We throw broken things away but God never uses someone until they are broken. If you have a broken heart, broken hopes, a broken home, bring it to Jesus. Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. You can know Him, in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Forgive One Another

This Sunday, we celebrated 11 years together as Pastor and church. We have seen the Lord do some amazing things over this time! Tammy and I are so grateful the Lord brought us to Liberty! She and I also celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary last week. The only way to stay married 32 years or to pastor one church for 11 years is to prefer one another (last week’s post) and to forgive one another. When you look at the context of Colossians 3:13, there are three things we learn about forgiving others.

The Signs of Not Forgiving One Another
In Colossians 3:8-9, the Holy Spirit gives us several signs of unforgiveness. As you read through these, look in the mirror of God’s word to see if any of these symptoms indicate that you have not forgiven someone. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another….” Who have you been angry towards, talked about, or lied to or about? In verse 11 Paul says, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Here, he is dealing with racism. Prejudice is a sign of unforgiveness. Are you holding something against a certain race of people?

The Steps to Forgiving One Another
Paul tells us that we are to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” (Col. 3:12-13). Mercy, humility, and longsuffering are inward, and kindness, meekness, and forbearing are outward. Forgiveness is a choice to release a person from a wrong done against you, inwardly and outwardly. We all need to forgive and need to be forgiven.

Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. You can forgive people that you are not yet reconciled to. We choose to forgive whether the other person apologizes or not. When Jesus died on the cross he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” They did not ask to be forgiven. Dr. Charles Stanley, in his book Forgiveness, says, “Understand forgiveness is not justifying, understanding, or explaining why the person acted toward you the way they did. It is not forgetting about it or trusting time will take care of it.” Get alone with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind the people you need to forgive. Don’t hold back the tears or emotion as you remember the offense. Choose, as an act of the will, to forgive them once and for all, even if you don’t feel like it. The feelings will follow. Release that person from the debt they owe you by saying, “You are forgiven.” If the person is a part of your life, accept them without trying to change them. Pray, “Because I am forgiven by Christ, I now forgive you.” Forgiveness is based on the atoning work of Christ on the cross, not on anything we do.

The Story About Forgiving One Another
“…Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:13). Christ had a great deal to say about forgiveness. In Matthew 6, He told us how to pray. Verse 12 says, “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” In verse 14, He gives further explanation saying that if we forgive, we will be forgiven, but if we don’t, we will not be forgiven. In Matthew 18, we read a story on forgiveness in which a man had a debt he could not pay. In today’s time, it would have been millions or billions of dollars! The man cried out for mercy and the King released and forgave the debt. The forgiven man went out and found a man who owed him just a few hundred dollars, a tiny fraction compared to the debt he once owed, and put the man in prison. When Christians do not forgive one another, we do the same.

God remembers our sins no more. It does not mean he forgets, but He holds them against us no more. Let it go! Put off anger, wrath, harsh language, and prejudice, and put on kindness and humility. “The moment you experienced the love of Jesus Christ, you forfeit the right to choose whom you will love.” Is there someone you need to forgive? Have you received God’s forgiveness?

Prefer One Another

Last week, we talked about bearing one another’s burdens. You will receive a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up! Our “One Another” series has also taught us to love, pray for, encourage, serve, and to show hospitality to each other. Today, we are going to look at the command to prefer one another. In marriage, Tammy and I never have a problem as long as I get my way! The same is true in the body of Christ. In order to have healthy, biblical community and relationships, we are to put others before ourselves. In Romans 12, Paul gives three ways we can do this.

In Our Thinking
First, we read that we are to renew our minds (v. 2). The word “think” is used repeatedly (v. 3). It all starts in the mind. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). Paul warns that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. This doesn’t mean to belittle yourself, but to recognize that you and others are made in the image of God. If we want to do right, we have to think right.

There are times I have to admit that others are better than I am in certain areas. I have to step aside and let them do their jobs. Don’t have too much pride to ask for help! There are other times, where I may be better than someone else at something, but still need to step aside. Are you willing to step aside in areas where you are gifted? That is the real test! We must let others with the same gifts go ahead of us. We need to be raising up the next generation. How will they learn if we don’t let them? When you think you are the only one that can do something, or you think you can do it better, or you think you are always right, you are motivated by self and it causes division in the family. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

In Our Serving
In Romans 12:4-8, Paul compares the church, the body of Christ, to the human body. There are many individual members, but we are all interrelated. God wants every member to work together using our personality and spiritual gifts to change lives, communities, and the world for Jesus Christ. God has given us each specific gifts for a specific purpose. Don’t consider yourself more useful or less useful than others. Don’t evaluate people on the basis of your own gift. Don’t get proud of your gift and think it is better than someone else’s. Don’t underestimate the value of another believer’s gift. Don’t use your particular gift as an excuse not to manifest the other gifts. Put others ahead of yourself. Open the door for others. Offer them your seat. God is the One who gifted us, let Him put us where He wants us. Don’t toot your own horn or promote yourself. God’s promotion is always better than self-promotion!

In Our Loving
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:10-11). Be loyal to others. Don’t be lazy in loving them, but be excited about looking for ways to meet their needs. Paul goes on to say, “Bless those who persecute you,” and “Repay no one evil for evil” (v. 14, 17). Those can be hard to swallow! When you do this though, God will fight for you!

A classic example in the Bible is Abraham and Lot. In Genesis 13, Abram lets Lot take his pick of the land. He could have said, “I am the oldest, I get the first choice.” Instead, he preferred the other person. In letting Lot have first choice, Abram let God make the choice for him. You can prefer the other person when you trust God to make the choice for you. Let people take what they want and let God make the choice for you. God will give you far more than you ever dreamed! It does not matter who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory. Pray like John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He must increase.”

Bear One Another’s Burdens

This summer we’ve been going through a series on the “One Another” sayings in the Bible. In Galatians, we read that we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2). What does it mean to bear someone’s burden? Paul explains with five instructions.

We Share
In Galatians 6:1, Paul says that if someone is overtaken in a trespass, those who are spiritual (those who are walking in, and are led by, the Spirit) are to restore him. He is talking to believers! Believers can be overtaken, surprised, and caught in a trap. Adam and Eve had to be restored. David sinned and had to be restored. Peter denied our Lord and had to be restored. I could go on! The word “restore” means to set a broken bone. We are to be quick to help if someone we know is trapped by sin. We should not rejoice that they’ve fallen, reveal their sin, or reject them, but restore them gently. In verse 2, he tells us to bear each other’s burdens. A burden is something too heavy to bear alone. Life has a way of dealing us crushing blows. We should share each other’s burdens when they are too heavy to carry alone.

We Shoulder
Verses 4 and 5 almost seem to contradict 1 and 2: “For each one shall bear his own load” (v.5). I heard about a member who had surgery and their AC went out. They requested prayer. Another member not only prayed, but paid to put a in a new AC unit. They helped bear the burden! It is one thing to buy an AC unit, it is another to think they should pay the utility bill, do all the housework, buy all the groceries, and cut the grass! People can take advantage. Verse 5 balances it out. We should help shoulder burdens, but we can’t carry the whole load. People have to be responsible. The Bible says, “If a man will not work he should not eat,” and, “If you do not take care of your own family you are worse than an infidel.”

We Support
Galatians 6:6 says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” I am blessed and I thank you for the way you take care of your Pastor and staff! Teaching the word is essential. Faithfully proclaiming God’s word will sow the seeds of Scripture that you will need when the burdens of life come. Have you ever felt like the Pastor was preaching just to you? I hear people say, “Pastor, that sermon was just for me.” God is speaking to you through that Pastor. God knows what is going on in your life and what you need. When you give to those whose ministry has blessed you, you are helping bear the burden and sow the seed that will bear spiritual fruit.

We Sow
Verses 7-9 talk about reaping and sowing. Everyone is sowing something. What are you sowing? The law of the harvest says you reap IF you sow, WHAT you sow, MORE than you sow, and LATER than you sow. Verse 9 tells us to not grow weary in doing good. Vacationers get tired of traveling, millionaires get tired of money, kids get tired of toys, and Christians get tired of doing good. We get tired of bearing one another’s burdens. We get tired of doing good. During the difficult times, our job is to faithfully sow the seed, keep doing good, and God will bring the increase!

We Surrender
In verse 14, Paul says, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The burden of our sin is too great to bear. We can’t save ourselves. Apart from the cross, we get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross, we have nothing but condemnation. Do you remember the line in the old hymn? “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul!” Jesus is willing to bear our ultimate burden if we surrender to Him! He sets the ultimate example for us.

Serve One Another

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” The book of Galatians is about the liberty we have in Christ. Freedom is never free. Someone has to serve. We have the Armed Services, Servicemen and Servicewomen. Thank God for those who serve! The church of Jesus Christ, the army of the Lord, needs some servicemen and women. Today, we will continue looking at the “One Another” passages in the Bible, and we will look at three hindrances to serving one another.

In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul describes the works of the flesh, things like adultery, idolatry, jealousies, etc. Then, in verses 22-23, he says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit are total opposites, but they are the only two ways to live. We either live in the Spirit or in the flesh. The flesh wants freedom to do what it wants without restraint. The flesh wants independence from God. The Spirit enables us to please God. If we want to hear from God and walk in the Spirit, we have to confess our sin and die to self. Verse 24 says, “…those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Are you walking in the Spirit or the flesh? Is your service motivated by love? Does your service bring joy regardless of your circumstances? Do you have inward peace as you serve? Do you have patience with people you serve? Do you show kindness when you serve? Do you want the best and good of others? Are you faithful in your service? Are you gentle? Do you have self-control? This is the fruit that should describe your service.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). It is OK to love yourself, but self should always come last. Jesus said love God with all your heart, love your neighbor, and then love yourself. JOY is J-esus, O-thers, and Y-ou.

If He could have called 10 legions of angels on the cross, He could have called 12 angels to wash their dirty feet!

Jesus was Master but He washed the disciple’s feet. If He could have called 10 legions of angels on the cross, He could have called 12 angels to wash their dirty feet! Self is the toughest weed to pull up. The world is preoccupied with self: self-importance, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-centeredness, self-deception. Is your favorite subject to talk about yourself and your thoughts, plans, schedule, aches, etc.? Are you consumed with yourself? President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What kills relationships, marriages, families, churches and countries is selfishness and self-centeredness. As Christians, we are to look to Jesus as our ultimate example and serve others, putting ourselves aside.

Galatians 5:15 warns against biting and devouring one another. You are not going to serve someone if you are mad at them. You are not going to serve someone if you are fighting with them. Just like we don’t want our children to bite, God does not want His children biting one another either!

We are saved to serve! Stop serving sin and self and start serving the Savior! We were created to serve God. We ought to wake up every day saying, “What is my assignment Lord?” When you serve others, you are serving God. Every time you serve, God sees it. God is keeping records. You will be rewarded. Don’t look for people to pay you back or serve you. You are not doing it for them, you are doing it for Him!

Show Hospitality to One Another

Corrie ten Boom once said, “A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.” Jesus taught us how to have community and be cemented together. So far, we have seen that we are to love, encourage, and pray for one another. Today, we will see that we are also to show hospitality. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

The Glory of Hospitality
1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ….” Have you given Christ the rightful place and rightful praise in your life? The Bible says the heavens declare the glory of God, but God also said whatever you do in word or deed, do all for the glory of God (Col. 3:17). God has chosen to display His glory not only in the heavens, but also on earth in the way we treat one another. This world is not an end itself. Everything about this world was designed and created to display the glory of God. Jesus is to be magnified in the way we show hospitality to one another.

The Gift of Hospitality
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Hospitality is a gift from God. Here the Greek word means to “be generous to guests.” We have tried to model that for our children. Our four children grew up expecting guests in our home – guest preachers, evangelists, deacons, staff, church members, etc. You say, “My apartment is small. We don’t have lots of room.” It is not the size of the house, but the spirit of the house that counts. I read a poem on Sunday that hung on my Granny Ethridge’s wall: “You’ll find where’er you roam, that marble floors and gilded walls can never make a home. But every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely home, and home sweet home, for there the heart can rest.”

The Grumbling of Hospitality
1 Peter 4:7 begins by saying, “But the end of all things is at hand.” The disciples believed Jesus would come in their lifetime. That is how we ought to feel. Every generation of believers should feel like Jesus is coming in our lifetime. It should be positive not negative. It should drive us to open our homes and show hospitality, not drive us underground in isolation to live in a doomsday bunker! Make good use of the time you have left because your days are numbered. Everything in this life is temporary. When we view our possessions, bodies, lives, bank accounts, houses, cars, vacation homes, boats, jet skis, etc., as gifts from God, then we can be good stewards, using it all for His glory. Open up your heart, hands, and your home. Don’t be grumpy! “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

The Gospel of Hospitality
“For this reason the gospel was preached…” (1 Peter 4:6). My dad was saved at age 12. He joined the Navy and came home out of church. He would drive my mom and brother to church and sit in the parking lot. Every Sunday, a man would tap on the window and just talk to him. He invited him inside. One week, my Dad went in and then he got back in church. He became a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, the choir director, etc. Today, I am a preacher of the Gospel. I grew up with both a mom and dad in church because God used a man out in the parking lot who kept talking to my dad.

The Greek word for hospitality in Hebrews and Romans means to “love strangers.” Hospitality is more than having your friends over. It is having strangers over you don’t really know. Everyone should be inviting new faces and new friends. We tend to think that the people who preach or sing are doing ministry, but YOU preach the first sermon to your neighbors, to those you come in contact with, and to guests in our church! Use your gifts and show hospitality without grumbling, all for the glory of God!

Pray for One Another

One of the best ways you can love and encourage one another is to pray for one another. Not to pray for one another is more than forgetfulness or carelessness. It is sin. 1 Samuel 12:23 says, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you….” When Jesus gave the model prayer, He prayed, “our Father,” “give us,” “forgive us,” “lead us.”

Pray for Those Suffering
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13). The suffering talked about here is not physical sickness, but is more general. The word means hardship or trouble. It refers to difficult circumstances. James is writing to believers. Christians have hard times too. Being a Christian does not exempt you from the trials of life. I have good news, however! When your life becomes His life, your problems become His problems. When it is hardest to pray, pray hardest!

Pray for The Sick
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (v. 14). “Sick” here is a physical illness. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (v. 15). Picture the man in Mark 2 who could not get to Jesus. His friends carried him, ultimately lowering him through the roof. Mark 2:5 says, “When Jesus saw their faith….” He called his friends in faith. In faith, they helped him get to Jesus.

Pray for All Saints
In verse 16, we read the phrase “one another” twice. Don’t be a loner. Get in a group and pray for each other. What do you pray? Pray scripture! There is power in the word of God.

Pray for God’s Servants
In James 5:14 we read “the elders of the church,” and in James 5:17, “Elijah.” We are to pray for those who watch over our soul. We are to pray for pastors, teachers, shepherds, staff members, missionaries, and evangelists. Pray daily for their care, their families, and their protection. God’s servants are a target of the enemy with a bullseye on their back. Pray for their ministry to be fruitful and to multiply. Ask God to open doors for them. Pray for wisdom and insight from above.

Pray for Spiritual Awakening
Verses 17 and 18 tell of Elijah praying for rain. Elijah is an example of a man who prayed for his nation. Elijah is a hero and Elijah is human! He is like us. Don’t read the Bible and say, “But that was Elijah!” In context, prayer is effective, not Elijah. We pray as ordinary people to an extraordinary God! We pray to the same God Elijah did. Pray specific prayers and don’t give up! We need revival in the church, in our own personal lives, and awakening in the land. We need to pray with the Psalmist, “Revive us again.”

Pray for Salvation
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (v.19-20). When we lose our burden for people to be saved, there is something wrong. Are you praying for unbelieving family members? Neighbors? We all like sheep have gone astray. Never give up on people. God is still God and still on the throne. He is a God of miracles. He is in the saving business.

We pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the will of God, with faith and thanksgiving, knowing our problems are not working against us but for us. Pray to the one who works all things together for our good and His glory. Pray for one another!

Encourage One Another

Meaningful relationships don’t just happen. They take time and effort. The “One Another” series is about developing close relationships and building community with one another. Hebrews 10 tells us to encourage one another. Everyone needs encouragement. When you encourage, you put courage in someone. When you discourage, you take courage out. Here are four ways we can give encouragement:

Hebrews 10:24 begins by saying, “And let us consider how to stir one another up….” The word consider is used one other time in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus….” Consider means to observe, to fix your eyes attentively. When we consider Jesus, we look, think, focus, and fix our eyes on Him. The writer of Hebrews is writing to Jewish believers who were wavering over leaving Jesus and going back to Judaism. They were being persecuted, were losing friends and property, and were teetering on the edge of going back to their old life. Meeting together marked them as believers, but meeting together was worth it!

Some of you today are tempted to go back. The message here is don’t give up! Don’t go back! Keep meeting with other believers and encouraging them. Keep your eyes on Jesus! Consider Him. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” (Heb. 10:24). Be a hope-filled person, loving others and stirring others to love and good deeds. Do you ever question, “What is the point?” “Why get out of bed?” Consider Jesus and other people. God put us on this earth and saved us for love and good deeds. Why come to church? We don’t come just for the singing or preaching, but for the stirring, stimulating, and motivating of one another to keep going. Encouragement is not just from the preacher to the member, but the member to the member. We are all encouragers. More than just your presence, God calls for your participation! God calls us to show up to church and to stir up one another. Ask God to help you encourage someone today.

Hebrews 10:25 continues, “…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….” Neglect means to forsake. Americans for the most part forsake church not because of suffering, but for selfishness. It is not for persecution, but pleasure. Not the threat of poverty, but prosperity. When they do come it’s with an inward focused, consumer Christianity. “What is in it for me?” We are to assemble with an upward focus! Consider Him and stir up one another to love and good works. Are you connected or disconnected from one another? It is possible to be faithful to the church and not faithful to Jesus, but you can’t be faithful to Jesus without being faithful to His church! Everyone battles discouragement. Live on purpose, praying, “Lord, show me who I can encourage today.”

The end of Hebrews 10 says that the Christians endured a great struggle (v. 32), knowing there was “a better and an enduring” reward in Heaven (v. 34). Where did they get that kind of courage? By meeting together, they encouraged one another. They put courage in each other.

Why do we do what we do? Why do we love one another? Why do we consider one another, stir up one another, encourage one another? It is a matter of doing the will of God. We have a great reward! There is no joy like knowing you are in the will of God and knowing you have done the will of God. Verse 36 says after we have done the will of God, we will receive the promise. He is faithful!

Love One Another

This Sunday we started a new series on the “one another” sayings of Jesus. Meaningful relationships don’t just happen, they take time and effort. I hope you’ll go on the journey with us this summer and learn how to develop close relationships and build community with one another. We are going to start with the most repeated “one another” phrase in the Bible, “Love one another.” You read it in John, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, 1 John, and 2 John. More than the words of Peter, Paul, and John, these are the words of Jesus. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “’And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31).

The Expectation of Love is Clear
John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another….” The word love in our world has become a “catch all” word. People say, “I love chocolate” or “I love water sports.” God’s love, however, is a commandment. It is more than a feeling or a love song. Love is a decision, a choice, and an act of the will. It means we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We treat people the way the Lord treats us, regardless of reciprocity or how they respond.

God commands us to love one another then gives us the ability to love one another. He makes the impossible possible! Ask the Holy Spirit to make this new and fresh to you today. We live in a world filled with hate, strife, conflict, bickering, war, and division. There are people all around us, that need to see the love of God! God is love and He expects His children to love one another.

The Extent of Love is Costly
The second half of John 13:34 says, “…as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” God’s love is unconditional. His love is sacrificial. He gave His only Son for our sins! It always costs something to seek someone else’s good. Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter denied Jesus, yet Jesus washed their feet. The dirty feet of a dozen grown men was the illustration of how to love one another. It was the task of a slave, the lowest menial job. Jesus washed the feet of the man who betrayed him and the man who denied him. What Jesus did was shocking! Love is costly. As believers, we are to love those who hate us and hurt us. Unbelievers can love those who love them, but God will enable you to love people you don’t even like.

The Expression of Love is Convincing
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). “Love one another” is an impossible command that gives evidence of an invisible God. The church is designed to be a community of impossible love that shows the world God is real. The only Bible, the only Jesus, some people are going to see, is us. Our love for one another is our witness and it identifies us before a watching world. Most of us think that the evidence of salvation is love for God. That is not what Jesus said. Jesus said, the evidence of whether or not you are His disciple is love for one another. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-2).

When unbelievers see true love and compassion among Christians, it gets their attention. In this world of hate, love is attractive. It is the greatest testimony and indication that God has changed your life.
This week after Father’s Day, remember it is all about the Father’s love. We love because He first loved us!