Text transcript of the message preached at Elijah Ministries in July 07

This mornings message is entitled

 Turn with me to 1 Thessalonians.

Now, the past few weeks we’ve been going through the book of Thessalonians, and with PJ’s guidance we have been blessed with some great insights into this book… and we’ve seen in the first book of Thessalonians that Paul places quite a lot of emphasis on the subject of encouragement.


Variations of the word "encouragement" occur five times in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. In chapter 3:2 we read how he sent Timothy to Thessalonica to encourage the believers there,

1 Thessalonians 3:1  Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone,  (2)  and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,


The KJV says to to establish you, and to comfort you as to your faith.


Then Paul recalls how he himself was encouraged when Timothy reported back to him about the believers in Thessalonica.

Reading from 1 Thessalonians 3:6  But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,  (7)  for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;


In chapter 4, Paul reassures the Thessalonians that death is no obstacle to the hope that all believers have in Christ, and in verse 18, he exhorts them to encourage or comfort one another in this regard.

 1 Thessalonians 4:18  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

 Then, in chapter 5:11, Paul again instructs the believers to encourage one another, and to comfort one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.


And here it is with special emphasis on building up two groups of people in the church - those who bear the burden of leadership, and those who are timid - two groups who have particular need of comfort and encouragement.


So just in this first book of Thessalonians, we have a number of instructions to encourage one another…


·        We are to comfort one another in order to strengthen and encourage one another’s faith.

·        We are to comfort one another in distress and affliction.

·        We are to encourage one another with the fact that death is no obstacle to the Christian and that believers have a blessed hope in Christ’s return.

·        And lastly, we are to encourage those in a position of leadership and those who are timid of faith.

 But to better understand this encouragement, we need to look at the meaning of the word.

The New Testament Greek word "para-ka-layo" is translated into several different English words in the bible. Words like…

·        encourage, exhort, comfort, edify and console.

 The word used in 1 Thess 5:11, for instance is translated as “comfort” in the KJV, but this same word is used in verse 14, and is translated “exhort”, which is the same word used in Chapter 3. So it seems that encourage, exhort and comfort are used interchangeably – they are all translated from the same Greek word - Parakaleo.

But this word Parakaleo is not to be confused with the Greek word  "paracletos – (para-kley-tos)" which is the word that refers to the Holy Spirit, who is sometimes called "the comforter or, Counsellor."

We read in John 14:26  that Jesus said: "But the Comforter, being the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  (27)  "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; but not as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

This word for Comforter here is the word Para-kley-tos, which means literally intercessor or advocate

We that are born again, we know that this is the greatest comfort of all - our teacher, our knowledge, our wisdom and His peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that comes from abiding in Christ, and Christ in us.

And yet, even though we have this great comforter abiding in us, we are still commanded to encourage one another. The reasons for this I hope to make clearer as we progress.


Turn to Romans 15…

Romans 15:4  For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  (5)  Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,  (6)  so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


So although God is the ultimate comforter, we’ve learnt that,

we have the Comforter which is the Holy Spirit, to encourage and comfort us,

we also have Scripture, which, as we’ve just read gives us hope and encouragement –

and finally we have each other for encouragement, which if done with perseverance can lead to great unity amongst the brethren, resulting in us glorifying God with one voice. And it’s this type of encouragement, where we are instructed to encourage one another that I want to study a bit further today.


 Now the English version of the word encourage means to impart courage.  Courage, according to Mr. Webster, comes from the Latin word “cor”, which means "heart." Courage is that state of mind, which enables one to encounter danger and difficulties without fear; it means to have a boldness, a brave heart.

Encourage means: To inspire with courage, to raise hope or confidence; to help forward.


Now, it’s interesting to note that encouragement never came naturally to Paul. In fact, before Paul came to know Christ, he was making a career out of tearing others down. Paul was one of the greatest Pharisees of his time, and he persecuted Christians without mercy. Paul was good at tearing others down, so he too had to learn the value of encouragement, and so do we.

Did you know that after Paul’s conversion, he had a human teacher for several years? During his first missionary journeys, Paul travelled with a man from Cyprus named Joseph. When Paul was still Saul and still persecuting the church, Joseph from Cyprus was already following Jesus. Before Paul ever realized who Christ really was, Joseph from Cyprus was a recognized leader in Christ's church in Jerusalem.

Joseph was the one who introduced Paul to the apostles in Jerusalem, telling them about Paul's dramatic conversion and encouraging them to give Paul a chance. Can you imagine having to meet with this tyrant Saul, this great Pharisee, the man of the Law, and of the Torah, this great persecutor of the church, murderer of Christians? Who now suddenly wanted to speak to the Apostles in Jerusalem?


It would take a man of great faith to go meet with him, to see what he’d become and what he wanted. It would take enormous trust in the Lord that the meeting would be to further His purposes and not a trap to imprisonment, remembering that Stephen had just died a horrific death of stoning at the hands of Saul and the Sanhedrin.


So this Joseph fellow had enough authority in the early church to persuade the Apostles to meet with him. Joseph was the one who brought Paul to Antioch, gave him the opportunity to preach among the believers there, and encouraged him as he grew spiritually. Joseph was the one who was the lead missionary on what is known as Paul's first missionary journey. It was Joseph from Cyprus who taught Paul much about encouragement.


Turn with me to Acts 4…

Joseph was quite a man….  he had an important role to play in bringing us the gospel…


Acts 4:36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 


Joseph, the Levite from Cyprus, was better known by his nickname - Barnabas. The KJV translates it: “The son of consolation”, but the Greek word for Consolation is the same word used for comfort, exhort and encourage.  Barnabas - the "son of encouragement." He got that nickname from the original apostles.


It’s interesting to note here that the practice of giving surnames or nicknames to describe a person’s character, was not uncommon. We read in John 1:44, that Simon was nicknamed Peter, or Cephas, which means rock; and in Mark 3 :17 that James and John were surnamed Boanerges – which meant, the sons of thunder.

 So Barnabas was nicknamed son of encouragement, obviously because encouraging others just came naturally to him. Wherever he went, he encouraged the people around him. Besides the Holy Spirit, it was Barnabas who taught Paul all about encouragement, and from there, Paul learned to place great value on it.

 Paul learnt that encouragement is one of the most effective ways to help others and to actually fulfil the commandment of loving one another.

We need to remember that there is always someone who needs encouragement, isn’t there?


Rabbi Harold Kushner is best known as the author of the book, "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" and it has been a book of encouragement for many people who have gone through difficult times. In fact, he wrote it as a result of his own suffering. One of the things that he wrote about in that book was an experience that he had on the beach. He said he was sitting on the beach one summer day, and he was watching two children play. They were building an elaborate sand castle very near the waters edge. It had moats on it. It had towers, bridges, passages and archways. The children had worked long and hard at their masterpiece sandcastle.  And as would be expected, the tide turned and suddenly a wave comes along and reduces the sand castle to a lump of wet sand. He expected them, he said, to burst into tears, but they did the very opposite. They grabbed each other by the hand, and they ran up the beach to a drier place. They were singing, laughing and running, and they just plopped down and starting building another sand castle. He said that little experience taught him a valuable lesson - that all things in our lives, all the complicated structures that we spend so much time and energy creating, they’re all temporal. That sooner or later all the intricate things we try to build, all the things we labour for, sooner or later a wave is going to come and knock them down. And when that happens; only the person who had somebody's hand to hold will be able to stand up again and laugh.

Now someone should have told Rabbi Kushner that he didn’t need to go to the beach to find that out, he could have just read the Bible to get those answers – Ecclesiastes says that everything on this earth is but vanity without Jesus.

But this is one of the reasons that we are commanded to encourage one another. To help each other through life’s storms.

In fact, there are probably many people sitting in this church right now who could really use some comfort. Life is sometimes tough, and in South Africa, it’s particularly tough, and for a Christian in South Africa, well… lets just say, come Lord Jesus!

But maybe you’ve made some mistakes.

Maybe you need forgiveness and feel so wretched that you need comfort. Maybe you’ve lost something or someone, and feel sorrow

Maybe you’re suffering physically and are in pain

Maybe you are suffering as Christ did and sometimes wonder whether it’s all worth it…


Maybe you need comfort and encouragement.

And maybe through no fault of your own, some wave has come along and knocked something over and you need to be comforted. I know the feeling, but the problem is, that in this day and age, the waves are not small ones anymore, and as we near the end, they just seem to be getting bigger… Once upon a time they were little waves, now they’re tidal waves… now they are Tsunamis… Who knew what a Tsunami was 10 years ago?


But sitting here today is another type of person - those that have been comforted already, those who have experienced the awesome mercy and kindness and love and comfort of a real God, of a loving God.  And even though you may not need comforting yourself today, you are called by God to provide comfort for someone else, to encourage someone else.

You know, just looking at the immediate family, at husbands and wives, this is one of the most important things we can do for one another, just to be there for one another, to comfort and encourage each other through the tough times, through our trials and tribulations. We are called to comfort one another. And this morning, I hope you can quickly identify someone who will hold your hand when one of your sand castles gets knocked over.

Turn with me to Romans 12.


Paul tells us that some are given the gift of encouragement by God.
Romans 12:6  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;  (7)  if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;  (8)  or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.


Now notice that the word used here in verse 8 for exhort, is the same word used for comfort in Thessalonians – Parakaleo, meaning encouragement.  We are to exercise faithfulness in the way we encourage others.


But more importantly, notice this, that no one is given the "gift" of discouragement, or the "gift" of criticism. Isn’t that amazing? Even though it seems that there are so many of us, who think our criticism of others, is a gift to them. There are so many of us, who are so very good, at criticizing, so very good, at discouraging others.


But on the other hand, there are those who are granted by God’s grace, a supernatural talent towards encouraging the brethren.  Think about that for just a moment: God makes special provision for the continuing encouragement of His people. 


It is not enough that He has delivered us from the condemnation we deserve for our sins, but He also blesses His people with those who have a special gift of giving us courage in the face of our trials and difficulties.  But beyond that, He has given all of us the responsibility of being encouragers, for the sake of one another, because goodness knows we all need it.

 Now Paul became a great example of how we should approach the comfort and encouragement of the brethren - specifically how we should be encouraging those that we have led to the Lord, the new Christians, those that we are supposed to disciple. Paul was a missionary, a church-planter. He would go to a city in which there were few believers. He would preach and teach and plant a church. He would pastor that church long enough for it to get established. Then he would move on to another city.


But he never forgot about the churches he left behind. He prayed for them. He wrote letters to guide them. And he frequently sent one of his co-workers back to them, with the specific purpose to encourage them.

For example, Paul sent Tychius to the Ephesians and also to the Colossians to encourage them. As we saw earlier, Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians as well as the church in Ephesus to encourage them.

In his letters to Timothy and to Titus, who were both young pastors, Paul writes of encouragement as one of the important tasks of pastors and elders.

In 2 Timothy 4:2 he says:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, encourage with great patience and doctrine.


And in Titus 1:9  he says:  holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to encourage in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

This is important, notice that we are able to encourage others by simply preaching the truth with sound doctrine. Encouragement with sound doctrine.

A good example of encouragement found in the Bible is in 2 Kings. Turn to 2 Kings Chapter 5:

2 Kings
5:1  Now Na-aman, captain of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper.  (2)  Now the Syrians had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Na-aman's wife.  (3)  She said to her mistress, "I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy."  (4)  Na-aman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel."  (5)  Then the king of Syria said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel." He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.  (6)  He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, "And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Na-aman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy."  (7)  When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me."  (8)  It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel."  (9)  So Na-aman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha.  (10)  Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean."  (11)  But Na-aman was furious and went away and said, "Behold, I thought, 'He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.'  (12)  "Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.  (13)  Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"  (14)  So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.  (15)  When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, "Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel;


An interesting story… Now there are a few lessons we can learn from this little passage…


the first one is how great the faith of the little Hebrew girl was, who was taken captive by Syrian bandits in verse 2. Living as a slave in a foreign country, she accepted her lot from God with thanksgiving. She did the right thing. She was prepared to live out her faith and do the right thing! If you were abducted and taken hostage by terrorists, would you have the steadfastness of faith to actually help the person who kidnapped you, who caused you untold misery and sorrow? Gosh I don’t know if I’d be able to! I think too many of us would be waiting for the first opportunity to take revenge… What remarkable faith this girl shows! Revenge is mine says the Lord…


Compare her faith to the King of Israel in verse 7. When he receives the letter from the King of Syria, who was King Ben-hadad the First, he immediately has a temper tantrum, rents his clothing and thinks the worst. The king of Israel at this time, was Jehoram. Jehoram was the second of the sons of the vicious King Ahab, who ascended to the throne in the Northern Kingdom of Judah. Ahaziah was the first of Ahab's sons to rule; his reign lasted about a year, and was followed by his brother Jehoram, who reigned for eleven years. While the sons were not as wicked as their father, they were still ungodly characters.


But notice the difference between the response of Jehoram and of the gracious Hebrew maid. Jehoram would have known all about the preaching and the activity of the great prophet Elisha. Much more so than would the Hebrew maid because at the time, Elisha was living in Samaria and he would no doubt have confronted the king, rebuking and instructing on a number of occasions; these prophets were brave and bold men. Jehoram would have known all about the miracles worked through his prophets. Still, when this request was put before him, he did not have enough faith to see the hand of God working. All he could see was deceit and treachery. The Hebrew maid on the other hand, probably only heard of the miracles that the prophets were performing, but that was enough for her to believe without doubt. Faith vs unbelief – which one do you have?

Back to our story of Na-aman the leper…


Here we have a highly respected military man, who is insulted by Elijah’s apparent lack of interest in him. So Na-aman decides to get on his high horse and ride it back to Syria where the people know him and give him the respect he deserves.  And in his foolish pride, he will go back to his country with leprosy and die.

How often do we need to be encouraged to do the right thing?  More often than not, our hearts are inclined towards foolishness. Our pride gets in the way… Other people don’t meet our expectations, or they say something that we don’t want to hear.

Often all we need is some encouragement to exercise a little bit of common sense!  Would you REALLY rather go back to Syria and die because of your pride, or would you rather just humble yourself, do what he says and be healed?  This is a no-brainer.  GO WASH for goodness sake! 


There are times when we need to say to one another:  “I hate to have to tell you this, but what you’re about to do is not very clever."  Unfortunately, my wife has to tell me this quite often…


Encourage others to do the right thing…


And sometimes this encouragement will lead to wonderful things… like what happened to Na-aman, who in verse 15 comes to true salvation… v15 reads  When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.”

Isn’t that what encouragement is all about!

Going back to the Apostle Paul… over and over again, Paul stresses the importance of mutual encouragement. And if Christians put as much energy into encouraging one another, as Paul tells us too, we would probably be well along the way of following Christ's command, to love one another.

But how do we go about learning this encouragement? Remember that encouragement is about building up, imparting courage and confidence, then the first thing we’d have to learn, is to put away our own critical nature, our sinful habit of tearing others down. We have to do away with our own self-righteousness.

And that’s harder to do than it sounds. Most of us don't set out intentionally to criticize and to breakdown. But by continually finding fault in others, continually giving your 2 cents worth, you’re breaking the other person down, you’re not encouraging them.

We need to learn to think before speaking, so that unkind words that tear down are left unsaid.

We also need to learn to think before keeping quiet, so that words that should be said, are not left unsaid.


The best way to offer words that are both truthful and encouraging, is to stop criticizing.

 You see, human nature dictates that many of us have unrealistic expectations of what others should be like. We need to replace those unrealistic expectations. And we can do that by taking a long, hard look in the mirror every morning.

 If you can see who and what you really are, then I hesitate to guess that you will never criticize anyone else again.


 Philipians 2: says

Verse 3  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  (4)  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  (5)  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,


We also need to get a new tape measure. Instead of one that only measures how far away someone else is, from perfection, get one that measures how far you are from perfection. I looked for one of those myself, but couldn’t find one long enough.


Instead of one that measures how far away someone else is from perfection, get one that measures how far that person has come, how far that person has progressed. Build them up, don’t break them down.


If you think you’re better than someone else, you can’t encourage them. Build them up, don’t break them down. 

The Bible says that the Christian life, when it is actually lived for Christ, is filled with trouble, tribulation and suffering.  The Scriptures tell us that all who live in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution.  That is a guarantee.  But God, through the Holy Spirit, is the God of all comfort.  God Himself comforts and encourages His people in their struggles.  It is the Holy Spirit who comes alongside us and as we cast our cares upon the Lord, the Spirit holds us up.  But He also encourages us in order that we may learn to encourage others.  

Turn to 2 Corinthians 1,…..


here we see what encouraging and comforting one another is all about.


2 Corinthians 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  (4)  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  (5)  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  (6)  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;  (7)  and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.


Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? The death of a spouse, a great financial loss, a divorce, unkindness, racial injustice or serious medical problems, or whatever. Why do you think the Lord has allowed you to suffer the things you have?  What is the purpose of your suffering?  Is it to provide others with an object of pity?  Just to give others someone to practice their gift of encouragement on? No.

God brings difficulties into our lives to mature us, so that through our experience, we can then encourage others who suffer.  Regardless of the particular sources of discouragement or the specific circumstances of our pain, we ALL know what suffering is.  We all know what pain feels like.  And in these occasions of suffering, we are busy learning how to comfort our brethren in need.  As we experience the comfort and encouragement of the Lord in our dark times, we are then able to comfort our brethren in their troubles.
None of us should go through the troubles of this life alone.  We are in this pilgrimage together.  We need the comfort and encouragement of one another.  Why do you think God commands us not to forsake the fellowship ? 


Turn with me to Hebrews 10


Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)  (24)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  (25)  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but encouraging one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.


There is that word Parakaleo once again…we have to encourage one another to do the right thing… we have to encourage each other to persevere… to stand strong… we have to encourage each other to hold fast to our faith….. and we can only do this if we stand together… not forsaking meeting together, not forsaking church and the fellowship of the saints.


If you think you can do this alone, you’re mistaken.

If you think that it’s not necessary to come to church, you’re mistaken.

If you think it’s not necessary to fellowship with other Christians, you’re mistaken.

We are after all, only human… and humans…. Well... humans often fail and sometimes humans fall.

 Turn with me to Ecclesiastes 4…

Listen to the important words of Solomon:

 Ecclesiastes 4:9    Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  (10)  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  (11)  Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  (12)  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

 But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

You cannot do this alone, people. God created the Church, comprised of many persons with many different gifts to be used for the building up, for the encouragement, for the edification and maturing of one another.  God does not save us in order to have our own little private religions where my life is none of your business.  On the contrary, we are saved by God and placed into a family of believers for the sake of one another.  Part of our responsibility to each other as Christians is to encourage one another throughout the course of this life.  

Isn’t life filled with more than enough discouragement? Aren’t our hearts too easily brought down into depression, even at times to the point of giving up hope in this hostile world?  And how hostile is this world? How hostile is this country that we live in? Not a day goes by without one reading or hearing a story of senseless crime and tragedy.

This world is no friend to us.  To be followers of Jesus Christ means we go against the culture of this world. 

Fundamental Christians are lunatics. On a par with the heathen extremists. How bad has this world got to be, to have gotten it so wrong? How deluded does one have to be to compare a Bible-believing Christian to someone whose primary goal is to slaughter Jews at every possible opportunity?


And as we near the end, we find even our so-called brothers are turning against us… The famous purpose driven pastor has already set the ball rolling. He has said himself that: “Christian fundamentalism will be the enemy of the 21st century church.


Turn to Matthew 24…


Matthew 24:9 says  Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.  (10)  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.


A better translation of the word offended in verse 10 is to stumble, to fall away, to apostasize… this is talking to Christians about Christians… in the end, so-called Christians will betray you, in the end, they will hate true Bible believing Christians. And this is happening before our eyes.


Only amongst ourselves can we find a sympathetic ear that can listen and truly understand the troubles that come with being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Only within the family is there comfort that comes from those that have experienced the comfort of God Himself.

We don’t dare withhold such a blessing from one another.  But I think we often do.  And how much unnecessary suffering do we experience simply because we neglect to encourage one another in our troubles?  

Listen to Hebrews 3:12
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort (or encourage) one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin

We are actually given the responsibility to prevent each other from backsliding, by means of encouraging one another in the faith daily.  Not just on Sunday’s, but in our everyday lives. 


 Let me encourage you to encourage one another.