Pastor Jeff Needleman
Encouraging Tongues! Part 2 - Text & Video
The Battle of Toxic Tongues vs Encouraging Affirmations Part 2
In part 1 I closed with praying that we win the battle of the giant mouth, that we’ll gain control over our pie holes! You know why the pie crossed the road? It was meeting a potato (meat and a potato). And I had a shepherd’s pie for lunch…he wasn’t happy.
Ok, I’ve heard it said that flakiness is good for pies- but not for people! Unless you’re a musician then it goes with the territory. My good friend and band-mate Liz was a great musician but a little flaky on occasion- well flakier then normal musicians. She was also my ex sister-in-law so of course we called our duet the In-Laws!
It was 1985 and a number of years before I met Jesus. I was in the process of a divorce and had taken a 2nd job as a waiter to cover the extra expenses. 1 night Liz volunteered to watch my boys while I went to work. She arrived at 5:10. I had to be at the restaurant at 5. I was quite angry. While it never came out of my pie-hole, it was written all over my face as I stormed through the apartment to get my keys. Then it occurred to me- she’d probably got off work late herself, and out of sheer kindness she was doing this for free. I looked at her and said, Liz, I’m sorry, I know you’re doing the best you can, and I really appreciate you. She burst into tears. This was perhaps one of the 1st times in her life that someone had given her a break; and showed a little appreciation. My quiet words of encouragement and affirmation offered her a newfound comfort! For me, it was also the very, very 1st time I’d ever got outside of my self-immersion and self-centered self. For the 1st time I was able to consider another person’s needs… and that allowed me to offer kind and affirming words.
This is often our battle… the Battle of Toxic Tongues vs. the Encouraging Affirmations that God tells us to do. Listen to these synonyms to help understand affirming encouragement better: inspiring, strengthening, heartening, cheering on and motivating. Offering support, building up hope and giving backup.. En-courag-ing means we boost someone’s courage and give them confidence to endure tough times and hardships.
Consider that there’s no need for encouragement without adversity or struggle! No one needs encouragement to get through something good or wonderful! But life is and will be difficult, so experiencing dis-encouragement is normal, but hardship becomes harder without the support that helps us persevere through the adversity.
Discouragement is nothing new. We read of so many in the Bible who became discouraged. Moses in the Sinai desert; Elijah when he heard Jezebel was searching for him to take his life; David when his son Absalom rebelled against him. The Apostle Paul’s letters to the churches always fought discouragement. .
But we read in Jas 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. So, victory over the hardships of Spiritual, Emotional and Physical battles allows us life-lessons that gives those battles value and meaning! Believing that there is meaning, even in the seemingly inconsequential trials and problems we face is tough. Yet God calls us to be steadfast, and often offers us our encouragement to get past the discouragement through supporting each other…
Life is difficult, so it’s easy to be discouraged, but discouragement is a thief! It steals our vitality, and sucks away our zeal, confidence and contentment. Then its roommates often move in- creating a sense of distrust, hopelessness, self-doubt, self-pity, bitterness, fatigue, and burnout!
Discouragement causes amnesia of our blessings; discounts gratitude for the gifts we’ve been given, and blinds us to and allows us to ignore the needs of others. Discouragement is our mortal enemy that feeds on dissatisfaction and distrust and leaves behind a trail of insecurity for the future as it takes God out of the picture. Jesus wasn’t shy and the fact that difficult times are a normal part of our lives: we read in:
Mt 10:22-23 NCV 22 All people will hate you because you follow me, but those people who keep their faith until the end will be saved. 23 When you are treated badly in one city, run to another city. Jesus also said in: Jn 15:18-19 NCV 18 "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
Yet, Jesus’ predictions of how we would be treated are filtered and tempered with words of encouragement: Jn 16:33 NCV In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world."
Do you remember that old cowboy song called “Home on the Range”? One of the lines says, “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word.” What a powerful statement that is: imagine what life would be like without discouraging words and toxic gossip.
As I said in Partt 1 -Everyone needs encouraging words- but few people make the need known quite as clearly as the little boy who said to his father: "Let's play darts. I'll throw and you tell me how great adart thrower I am! Fortunately Scripture is all about encouragement! The Bible is a book of encouragement because encouragement is vital and necessary part of our faith and of living. Today we are going to glance at a Levite named Joseph, which we read about in: Ac 4:36-37 NCV 36 One of the believers was named Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus. The apostles called him Barnabas (which means "one who encourages" or Son of Encouragement).
Later, in Acts 9:27, we read that through Barnabas’ encouragement, the early Jerusalem accepted Paul even though he was highly distrusted. That allowed Paul to work unhindered by the Church leadership.
Also through Barnabas’ encouragement, John-Mark, a 2nd generation believer, was given a 2nd chance after dismally failing to show up in his ministry.
Mark later went on to co-labor with both the Apostles Peter and Paul, and write the 2nd Gospel… simply entitled Mark. Encouragement makes it easier to live in a fallen world in a holy way. Encouragement makes it easier to love as Jesus loved. Encouragement gives hope: Ro 15:4-5 NCV Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope. Patience and encouragement come from God.
Encouragement helps us through times of discipline and testing: Heb 12:4-6 NCV You are struggling against sin, but your struggles have not yet caused you to be killed. You have forgotten the encouraging words that call you his children: "My child, don't think the Lord's discipline is worth nothing, and don't stop trying when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as his child."
Encouragement nurtures patience and kindness and makes it easier to sacrifice our own desires for the advancement of God’s kingdom. In short, encouragement makes it easier to live the Christian life.
Without encouragement, life can feel pointless and burdensome.
Without encouragement, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the very real pains in our lives. Without encouragement, we feel unloved and unvalued. Without encouragement, it’s easy to think that God is unconcerned with our welfare and untrue to His word.
So, the Bible tells us to encourage one another, to remind each other of the truth that God loves us, that God equips us, that we are treasured, and that our struggles are worth it. Let’s look at some more verses:
Heb 3:13-14 NCV But encourage each other every day while it is "today." (MEANING RIGHT NOW) Help each other so none of you will become hardened because sin has tricked you. We all share in Christ if we keep till the end the sure faith we had in the beginning.
1Th 5:9-11 NCV God did not choose us to suffer his anger but to have salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us so that we can live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now.
Encouragement gives us the will to carry on. It is a glimpse of the bigger picture. It can prevent burnout and alleviate the pain of rejection. It can save us from believing lies. Encouragement helps us experience an abundant spiritual life. We read in Pr 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” God’s Word is full of encouragement. Pleasant words, indeed.
So, encouragement is a necessary part of our lives, to such an a extent that God even bestows it as a spiritual gift! People are always in need of encouragement. A few years back I was on the phone with an AT&T rep and mentioned what a nice speaking voice she had. I could almost hear her purr.
I was also on the phone with an insurance rep from Guidestone- I told him that I felt cared about and was really appreciative. I could feel a wave of relief come over him that somebody noticed his efforts. 6 years ago I called the IRS and said I needed to talk about a refund I received. When I told the agent they were doing a great job she became eager to help! BTW- the over refunded me.
I only offered true statements, because there’s a saying: Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I won’t forget you.
I’d like us all to try an experiment this week. It’s an easy one… Find a way to encourage someone every day! It can be anybody –a cashier, waitperson, bank teller, grandkids, spouse, neighbor, each other, or hey, maybe even your spouse or your kids! Then observe their response.
We need encouragement… especially amidst the lock down of the Corona Virus. We all need the encouragement of knowing it’s gonna end, that life will return to some level of normalcy. But remember, it must not be flattery for the sake of flattery; it must be true! Seek out the good in others!
and then perhaps encourage someone by chatting about your faith in Jesus Christ and how it’s helped you through the craziness and insanity of Covid 19! Then, it would be awesome, more than awesome, if you could and would share the results on our Face Book page, or email me what happens. I’ll post it only with your permission.
In closing, please consider that our words have the power to heal or to hurt. Heb 10:24-25 NCV Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other.
As Colossians 2 explains, 1 of God’s goals is to encourage us in heart and unite us in love so that we may know the fullness of His love for us. He wants to help us to be rooted and built up by Him, strengthened and encouraged in our faith, and overflowing with thankfulness. God wants us to be a church who builds up, not who tears down! Can I hear an Amen over the internet?