Sermons

The Best Reach Out to the Rest

Sun, Dec 02, 2018
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:26 mins 46 secs

Message text

The Best Reach Out to the Rest

OPEN: Years ago I read this poem:
“In a world where bad deeds are celebrated
and good deeds relegated
to page 49 of the paper,
Where first place goes to push and shove
and the cost of things is put above
the cost of time together.
From time to time, the best of us
Reach out and touch the rest of us.”
From time to time, the best of us reach out and touch the rest of us.
Now what reason does the poet give for why that’s important?
Well: too often the world focuses on the bad in people’s lives.
Too often first place goes to push and shove.
Too often money and things become more important than people.
That’s all true
And because that is true, the prophet tells us the best among us should reach out to the rest of us.
And, of course... everybody does want someone who reaches out to them.

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one:

”What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. ”Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'.”

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned that her name was Dorothy.


We all want someone who will compliment us.
Someone who will root for us.
Someone who tells us we can/will succeed.
Somebody who believes in YOU/ME.
Now the Bible tells me that God thinks this is important for His church too.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
In fact, we need to:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph 4:29 & 32
We ought to be kind to each other.
We ought to build each other up.
We ought to encourage one another and strengthen each other.
We shouldn’t go around saying negative/ hurtful things about other Christians.
We need to use our words to lift up each other up.
ILLUS: I’m always intrigued by the phrase some parents and care-givers use with children: “Now children, we need to use our ‘indoor’ voices.”
What Ephesians 4 is saying is that when in the church (not the building) we need to use our “in Jesus” voices.

Those voices need to lift up, not tear down.
And this command is repeated elsewhere in Scripture:
· “...encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
· “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.” Hebrews 10:25
This is so important to God that He not only expects us to encourage one another, God Himself is willing to show us how it should be done.

Charles Plumb, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb. "I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did, If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said "Good morning, How are you?" or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory -- he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.

As you go through this week, this month, this new year, recognize people who pack your parachute. 

God not only believes we ought to encourage one another, He Himself is committed to encouraging us as well.
Now how does God encourage us?
Well, first (as we just mentioned) He deliberately places His Spirit inside us to encourage us. And God’s Spirit encourages us by reminding us that - as Christians – we BELONG.
Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were MARKED in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a DEPOSIT guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory.”
The Spirit marks you.
The Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing you that you are Him.
The Spirit of God essentially says YOU BELONG.
You’re God’s child
You are valuable to Him!
And not only that God’s Spirit reminds us that we aren’t alone in this world.
He’s inside of us.
He won’t leave us or forsake us.
Romans 8:26-28 tells us “... the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Then a couple verses later God says:
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31
God’s Spirit is inside us to help us.
For example, we don’t always know how to pray as we should, so the Spirit is willing to step in and help us in our prayers in such a way that words aren’t even necessary – the thoughts and emotions and intentions of our hearts are directly communicated by the Spirit to the throne of God.
And – as if that weren’t enough – God’s Spirit prays for us. He continually is interceding for us. And because that is true – if God is for us... who could be against us?
We are not alone.
God’s Spirit is inside of us, helping us, praying for us.
AND so God gives us His Spirit to encourage us.
And that Spirit encourages us by reminding us we BELONG and that WE’RE NOT IN THIS ALONE.
But that’s not all.
God has given us one more thing to encourage us in our faith.
Romans 15:4 tells us “...everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE SCRIPTURES we might have hope.”
God gave me the Bible to encourage me?
How does that work?
One man put it this way:
1. Why should I say I can’t when the Bible says I CAN. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom 8:35)
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37)
And the list could go on and on and on.
ILLUS: There’s a parable told of a man who was walking in the desert one day when he heard a voice: "Pick up some pebbles and put them in your pocket, and tomorrow you will be both sorry and glad."
The man obeyed. He stooped down and picked up a handful of pebbles and put them in his pocket. The next morning he reached into his pocket and found diamonds and rubies and emeralds.
And he was both glad and sorry.
Glad that he had taken some... sorry that he hadn’t taken more.
Too often Christians are satisfied with just a handful of pebbles, when in reality they’d be much richer if the determined to lay hold of everything they can find. They’re too often satisfied with a Sunday morning worship hour when they could easily add daily Bible reading to their schedule... not to mention Sunday School and mid-week bible studies.
In the end they’ll be glad for the pebbles they picked up.
But they’ll ultimately be saddened that there was so much more that they just left behind.
So, apparently God believes encouraging and building each other up are extremely important.
But why?
What is so important about encouraging one another that God would not only stress it’s value for us to do but also commit Himself to doing that for us Himself.
The poem we read earlier implies that this is what “better” people do.
“From time to time, the best of us
Reach out and touch the rest of us.”
And that’s great!
Good people should do that.
Good people should encourage and build up others.
But it still doesn’t answer the question of why it should be done.
Why do people need to be encouraged?
ILLUS: The answer can be found in the heart of the word we’re discussing.
Look at that word “Encourage”
What English word do you see inside encourage? (Courage)
To ENcourage means to put courage IN someone else.
To DIScourage means to destroy or take courage OUT of someone else
And scientific research seems to bear that out.
ILLUS: A psychologist named Dr. Henry H. Goddard conducted a study on effects of encouraging. His test subjects were children - and as part of that study, he used an instrument he called the "ergograph" which he used to measure their energy levels.
What he found was that when tired children were given a word of praise or encouragement, the ergograph showed an immediate upward surge of new energy.
But when the children are criticized and discouraged, the ergograph showed their physical energy took a sudden nose-dive.
So we are designed to NEED words of encouragement in order to thrive in this world.
And – of course – God knows that because He designed you to need encouragement in your life.
That’s why encouragement is so vital to God that He’s committed to doing it for you.
And it’s also why He is committed to teaching you how to give that encouragement to others.

You see we all come to Jesus as damaged goods.
I mean - the only way I can come to Jesus is to understand and agree that I’m a sinner.
My guilt and my shame so overwhelm me that I agree that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
So when we come to Christ we are already damaged goods.
That’s why we’re here.
I don’t need to be torn down anymore.
I need to be built up – in Christ.
Over the years many Christians have failed to understand that.
Many Christians have felt it was their God given gift to point out the faults and failures of others.
Have you ever known someone like that?
ILLUS: A guy came to his preacher and said, "I’ve just figured out that I have only have one talent"
And the preacher asked him, "Well, what is your talent?
The man said, "I have the gift of criticism."
The preacher thought about that for a moment – and then replied:
"You know, the Bible tells us that the guy who had only one talent went out and buried it.
I think that’s what you ought to do with yours."
There is no gift of criticism in the Bible.
Faultfinding is NOT a Christian virtue.
Criticism is not a gift from God.
Who is it a gift from? Satan.
It’s a gift from the Evil one, because that’s what he does.
In Revelation 12:10 John wrote:
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the ACCUSER of our brothers (Satan), who ACCUSES them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Satan is the great criticizer.
He’s the great faultfinder.
He’s the one who just loves to remind you of your failures (and he loves to remind you of those...)
And those who love to criticize others are his children.
When you are critical of other people.
When you don’t say good things TO them/about them...
Then you are imitating the EVIL one. (DO I HEAR AN AMEN!)
There’s another reason we need to encourage each other.
Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5 = that the Day of Judgment is coming.
“...the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 1Thessalonians 5:2-5
And he says: “... since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8
So – Paul writes to tell us judgment is coming.
It’s not coming on US, because we’re children of the day.
But we need to live for Jesus till that time comes.
THEN Paul writes:
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
In other words:
Judgment is coming and we shouldn’t allow each other to just stand all alone in a wicked world that’s going to be destroyed. The sinfulness of the world can harden us and the sinful of this world will try to drag us down. We need to take that seriously and encourage each other so that we don’t get allow that to happen.
ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER!
God calls us to minister to each other by encouraging and building each other up. And our goal – in this ministering to each other - should be the same as God’s. We need to encourage one another ... but we need to encourage each other the same way God does us.
How does God encourage us?
· He reminds us that we BELONG
· He reminds us that we’re NOT IN THIS ALONE
· He reminds us that there are things He can tell us that will help us live with more hope
That’s what we need to:
* In this church, we need to make sure everyone realizes THEY BELONG HERE. From the richest doctor the filthiest person on the street. It shouldn’t matter what they have or how they look. Our objective is to reach out and make sure each knows they belong.
* In this church, we need to remind each other WE’RE NOT IN THIS ALONE. From our prayers for each other’s needs to our meeting physical and financial needs. And most importantly being there for each other when that person needs to talk and have someone just listen and understand what they’re going through.
* And in this church, we need to remind each other that our ultimate encouragement comes from God’s Word and it’s commands and promises. There is no where else in this world where people can find the Words of life than from the Word of God.
We need to treat each other the same way Jesus treats us. In so doing, we’ll encourage each other and build each other up so that we’ll be healed of the disease of sin that has damaged our souls.
CLOSE: There’s a psychiatrist in New York City named John Rosen who works with catatonics. Most doctors prefer to remain separate and aloof from their patients.
But John moves into the ward with them.
· He places his bed among their beds.
· He lives the life they must live.
· Day to day, he shares it. He loves them.
If they don’t talk, he doesn’t talk either.
It’s as if he understands what’s happening.
He’s just there, and that communicates something to them that they haven’t heard in years – someone cares and understands.
But then he does something else.
He puts his arms around them and hugs them.
This man is an M.D. – he’s a Ph.D., he’s a highly skilled, highly paid physician.
But he has become like God to his patients, he holds these unattractive, unlovable, and sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life.
Often, when they finally speak, the 1st words they say is “thank you.”
That is the kind of encouragement God calls us to show to each other and to the world.

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