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Monday, August 25, 2014

Encourage, comfort, and unite!

Accolade - an honor, usually conferred in words, which brings notice to some hard work, or accomplishment of the one receiving the praise.  Most of us love to receive notice for the hard work we are doing - even if it is not "out loud", we want someone to actually recognize our accomplishments.  I know I enjoy when I see someone take the work I have done and put it into use - such as when they use the data I have been working on to show a trend or propose a new process.  It gives me pleasure to see the work utilized.  I don't think it is so much different in our Christian walk - we want to be recognized, have our work serve some purpose, and know what we have done really makes a difference.  We don't "do good deeds" simply because we desire the accolades, but we are "serving God" in our deeds, knowing he will receive the ultimate praise in the end.

Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God’s Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. (Philippians 2:1 CEV)

In our daily walk, we receive some accolades from Jesus and we give them right back.  It is like he encourages us by giving us a high five or patting us on the shoulder, as though we have done our job well.  It may not be a "physical" thing, but when we have connected well with the purposes of God for our lives that day, we know at the end of the day the deep satisfaction of having "served well".  This gives us encouragement for the new day, doesn't it?  I think God's kids thrive in a world of encouragement - if not outwardly, at least internally!  We need to know what we are doing matters - truly eternally.  

Three things are pictured here as giving us the basis by which we will "serve well" - in a manner which expresses genuine concern for others.  You see, until these three things are in alignment within our lives, we will not be serving as we should.  Our service will be a little too self-centered, or lacking in the sincerity required.  These three things act as a balancing effect on the actions of our service.  They are Christ's encouragement, his love, and the presence of his Spirit within.  

- Christ encourages you.  Encouragement is really this thing most of us associate with courage - the confidence to do something because we know the help of another who comes alongside.  Confidence is "bolstered" when the words and actions of encouragement are spoken deep within the places of our spirit where we commune with God.  Encouragement stimulates us within - it allows us to know our actions are approved - they are "on track" with what God wants for his kids.

- His love comforts you.  We won't always do things "right" every time, will we?  Sometimes we miss the mark no matter how hard we were trying.  When those moments occur, we need more than encouraging words - we need comfort from knowing his grace transcends our "misses".  Comfort is another word for reassurance.  Each and every time I miss the mark, I will need reassurance I can get up, take the steps forward I need to take, and find the right way in it all.  His love does this not only for me, but for you, as well.

- His Spirit unites us.  All manner of service is really just a conglomeration of various individuals putting their skills and talents into use - but when they are done "individually" without an over-arching purpose, they are merely nice talents on display.  Put them together under the direction of the Spirit of God, innervating us within to all move in the same direction (toward the same mark), and we have a symphony of talents.  Unity is the force by which God's church becomes a beacon of hope to the lost and dying.

In our service, where there is encouragement and love, there will be unity. They go hand-in-hand.  We cannot serve without encouragement.  We will not continue to serve if there is no comfort when it seems like our service has not gone well.  We will live lonely lives until we are united in one purpose.  Over and above all our service is this one thought of serving not only God, but others in the grace and love of Christ - so they may be encouraged, comforted, and drawn into the unity Christ desires of his kids.  Just sayin!