To encourage us. He is God’s heavenly gift of encouragement indwelling the life of every believer. Jesus said it was important that He go back to heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come. Jesus was confined on His earthly journey to His physical presence, but when He went back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit who can indwell every believer.
The Holy Spirit is God’s message of encouragement to your heart. And the reason He indwells you is so you never feel alone, and you never feel lost—you always know that God is with you, God is in you. And when God comes to live within your heart as a Christian, He never leaves. He becomes the permanent indwelling presence of God in your life. He is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of encouragement. Encouragement is the unique priority of God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Encouragement is the underlying purpose of our Bible. One of the reasons for this Book is so that God can use it to encourage us.
Fortunately, the Bible is filled with encouraging truth. There's no need to find substitutes from other sources. God’s Word is filled with encouraging truth given to us for the sole purpose of encouraging our hearts. In Romans Paul reminds us that one of the purposes of the Old Testament was to provide encouragement for us. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:4-5).
And in the New Testament, the theme of encouragement is everywhere. When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, he reminded the young pastors of the critical importance of using God’s Word as a tool of encouragement. Note that the word “exhortation” and “consolation” which is translated into English is almost always the translation of the word for encouragement. So, read 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
One of my highest goals as a pastor, by the grace of God, is that everyone will leave with encouragement in their hearts—not from something cute that I conjured up, but because I point you back to the solid encouragement that is found in the Scriptures. We are all encouraged by the Word of God!
We should be involved in encouragement because it is the uncommon opportunity to begin something that will never, ever end. Encouragement is like throwing a pebble into the water. While there is always an immediate impact, the ripples continue indefinitely.
Paul spoke of this in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, and I've written a little paraphrase of it: “I want you to know how blessed I am by the God of all encouragement who encourages us so that we, in turn, can encourage others with the encouragement whereby we, ourselves, have been encouraged.”
When you encourage somebody, you start a process. Somebody who gets encouraged by you has a desire to go encourage someone else. We encourage others from the encouragement that we, ourselves, receive? When we go through stuff and we get through it by the grace of God and somebody else is going down that same road, what do we do? We go and say, “Friend, I want to tell you something. Here’s what God did for me in the midst of all of this.” And we take the encouragement that God gave us, and we pass it on to other people.
So, when you become an encourager, you get involved in a process that never ends. It just keeps going and going. Like that pebble that you throw into the water, the ripples just continue.
When all else fails and you can’t find anybody to encourage you, you’ve got to be the encouragement to yourself that you hoped somebody else would be.
David was once in a situation where all the people around him were mad at him; in fact, they wanted to kill him. “So David strengthened himself in the Lord.” David encouraged his heart in the Lord. Life had reduced David’s options to one. So, what do you do when options have been reduced to one and you’re the one?
Here’s two first thing you should do when you want to strengthen yourself in the Lord. Encourage yourself through solitude.
Now, if you go through the Bible, you will find illustrations of people that God wanted to use in a mighty way. But before He could do that, He had to teach them how to be alone. He had to teach them what isolation was all about. I don't have all of the illustrations, but here’s one or two.
God put Moses on the back side of a desert for forty years before He sent him to lead the Exodus. He withdrew Elijah and put him in a cave in Mount Horeb so that he could hear the still, small voice of God.
Jesus often withdrew to the seashore or to the mountains so that He could be alone with the Father.
There is ministry in solitude; and if we don't learn how to cultivate that, we will have a very difficult time encouraging ourselves in the Lord—to be quiet so you can talk to God and so God can talk to you.
And if a man considers his time to be so valuable that he cannot find time to keep quiet and to be alone, that man will eventually be of no value to anyone. To spend all of one’s time with people is soon to have nothing to give any of them of any value.