My husband and I visited a church recently and I must say it was definitely a different experience.
At first, I was excited because the bulletin said they were ordaining new Deacons and Elders. What a wonderfully blessed event to experience when you’re first visiting a church. My excitement, however, dissipated quickly as my husband and I sat down.
This House of God felt old and decrepit. They were lifeless, and it felt like we had walked into a graveyard. I believe the phrase I used with my husband was “They are like dead logs waiting to float down the river to the sawmill”
The pastor seemed to try his best to motivate the people, but they were unmoving. Then, when the time came to pray over the people being ordained into service, I was completely saddened. The pastor was the only person to go to each of those being ordained and give them a congratulatory hug or word of encouragement. The others simply went back to their seats.
I was reminded that all last year the Lord has put on my heart that we need to encourage and build up the House of God.
Houses are built up in order to give us a place to rest and to be strengthened. The foundation of a house gives it stability, its walls provide support, and its roof gives shelter.
Christ is the cornerstone of our foundation (Ephesians 2:20). Each of us is built on that cornerstone and become part of the foundation, a wall, a doorway, a roof, a window, a ceiling, a floor or even a door. Together we make up God’s house.
But in order for a house to keep its integrity, it must be maintained. Part of that maintenance, when it is the house of God, comes in the form of encouragement and support. It is not only important to encourage the people in the congregation, but it is extremely important to encourage the overseers of the church. The overseers of the church bear a huge burden of responsibility.
The overseers are shepherds guiding and tending the flock. They include not only pastors, preachers, ministers and teachers, but it also includes deacons, laymen and even the worship leaders. Anyone who helps in the administration or teaching of the church or ministry should be considered an overseer.
The word for encourage in Greek is Parakaleo (par-ak-al-eh’-o). It means to call to, summon, send for, call to help, exhort, encourage, excite, invite, comfort, to encourage and strengthen by consolation.
There is a scripture in Proverbs which the Lord once gave me to encourage a young boy.
Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, is he who sings songs to a troubled heart. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:20-22
When I first read this scripture, I wondered exactly what would happen if I put vinegar on soda. So I went into my kitchen and put a teaspoon of baking soda on a plate and then poured a teaspoon of vinegar on top of it. The vinegar bubbled over and the soda dissolved into the vinegar becoming one.
My son was watching me at the time and he said it would do the same thing if we put water on it. So I let him take the same amount of soda and water, and we poured the water onto the soda. The soda did not bubble up and dissolve, though. It just laid there as a lump, a plain wet lump. Then my son decided to add vinegar over the water/soda blob and it bubbled up and dissolved. The soda, the water and the vinegar mixed up into one liquid.
What the Lord put on my heart about this is, we each are a like a teaspoon of soda. The Word of God and the love of the Lord Jesus is the vinegar. When we accept the Lord into our hearts our soda starts to dissolve. The more we get into God’s word and put His truth in our hearts, the more we ourselves become the vinegar.
We each have the ability to help change a person, because God is in us through our Lord Jesus. We are not God; but we do have Him in us. We can and should reflect His love, which He freely gave to us, to others. When we do, we can make a huge difference in their life. You will heap burning coals on their head. The burning coals being a symbol, not of a physical hurt, but of a spiritual healing. It is a purifying fire that takes the bad stuff off – the vinegar dissolving the soda and the two becoming one.
It only takes a moment to encourage another and there are so many forms of encouragement. It may be a simple as a card, a pat on the back, a hand shake, a hug, a word of encouragement, you could ask them to help you with a task, you might give a little extra offering as a love offering, or it could be more elaborate as a gift or a even recognition party. Each person and situation will be different and if you are not sure what to do, just ask the Lord to guide and direct you and you will know what to do.
But the more you reach out and encourage others, the more others will encourage you when you are down and the more unified you will become.
A word of encouragement to that congregation.
Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’ “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’ ” Ezekiel 37:4-6
Rejoice in the Lord, for He loves you so very, very much. He will renew you and strengthen you. Trust in Him.