SUMMER PODCAST REBOOT – this episode was originally published in February 2020.
Welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Colossians 1: 1-8. Today we’ll focus on verse 6:
‘In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.’
Do you ever feel discouragement?
A few years ago, in my previous church, I was feeling really quite discouraged. One day I saw that someone had shared an Alpha Testimony on YouTube. I watched it. It was so encouraging. I felt a surge of encouragement. I was so surprised. I totally believe God can do anything he wants but the sense of discouragement I was feeling was pulling me down. I think I must have watched loads and loads of Alpha testimonies during that season life. I shared them with people. I played them in our church at the time. Some people loved them.
I learned a bit of a painful lesson in those days. Bill Johnson, the American Pastor of Bethel Church, puts it like this – ‘I’m only a few steps away from discouragement – it’s my job to stay encouraged’.
Staying encouraged is really important. It’s really vital – for life as well as faith.
Today I’d love to explore this:
Encouragement evaporates: Store it, steward it and share it.
Today we start our journey in the book of Colossians. One of Paul’s letters. It’s written to a small church going through a tough time. The church, planted by a man called Epaphras was one of Paul’s disciples in Ephesus. He’s been sent to Colossae and has planted his church. However, it’s a huge challenge. He’s been to visit Paul – to seek advice from his old mentor and this letter offers much wisdom to the Colossian church.
There are 3 things that we should remember in the face of discouragement:
- Store it
If someone encourages you – store it. Don’t be English about it. Save it. Celebrate it. Reflect on it. I know of a person who keeps an encouragement box. Any letters, cards or notes – he stores. Save positive emails, texts or DM messages. Why? Because it’s human nature – Psychologists tell us this – to reflect on the negative. To let the discouragement define. No, Store encouragement. The apostle Paul’s message to the Colossian church is that he’s so thankful for them (vs 3); he prays for them (vs 3) and he has heard good things – of their faith – and love for people (vs 4). This is a written record to be read out to the church. It’s so tempting to remember the negative feedback; to be blighted by the difficult last job you left but encouragement evaporates.
- Steward it
I found a box of thank you cards from student worker days in London recently. The devil will always try and tell you haven’t made a difference or you’ve wasted your time. Steward the encouragement. It’s proof that you haven’t. Read the cards or letters. It’s not indulgent when you read it with a thankful heart for God’s wonderful grace in your life. Use it to encourage your soul. In verse 6 Paul talks about faith, hope and love – he’s referring to the total change in the lives of the Colossian Christians. He’s calling it out – he’s saying the gospel works. Jesus changes lives.
- Share it
As we talked in yesterday’s Paul is a great advocate of being thankful. A heart of gratitude is often a heart the grace of God. Much of verses 1-14 is Paul sharing thanksgiving. The truth is that if our hearts are encouraged – of which we must take some responsibility for – then our encouragement levels then inevitable that will overflow to people around us.
Let’s pray that today, Tuesday, is a day of encouragement. That we speak out blessing and life to a people weighed down by discouragement.
Heavenly Father we pray for loads of opportunities today to speak encouragement and life to those around us.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 1: 1-8
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.