SPILLERS OF ENCOURAGEMENT A Sermon by Dr. Neil Chadwick Introduction: For many people, the goal of existence seems to be to reduce the pressures of life and achieve a state of comfortability. The "Good Life" then, is a stress free existence. So we've developed such tools as Hot Tubs, Water Therapy and Water Beds to help us achieve this goal. But Jesus said it straight: "In the world you will have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." From the text, we learn three things: the Force of the Pressure, the Source of Our Comfort, as well as the Course of Our Comfort, i.e., through others. I. Force of Pressure A. The Greek word here is "thilipsei", which means "troubles" (v.4), "distress" (v.6); "hardships" (v.8), or "afflictions" B. Paul seems to be at the point of giving up on life. No these are not suicidal tendencies, but a tremendous pressure which caused his to say, "WE DESPAIRED EVEN OF LIFE" (v.8) This of course is a kind of euphemism, like what we might use: "I could have died"; "I was mortified"; "I was scared half to death". C. Here, so much pressure, Paul was tempted to think that the only way out for him was death We must never yield to this temptation, Dr. Kevorkian, notwithstanding. ("Don't even think about it.") D. We face varying forms and degrees of pressures: afflictions, problems, anxieties, troubles, deadlines and demands 1. For students with tests coming up: there's too much information squeezed into a small brain. 2. For many there's financial pressures: Too many bills to be squeezed out of such a small pay check. 3. There are social expectations: the pressure is always on to do the right thing in a particular group: for a new pastor, it may be the past pastors' performances. 4. Everyone has problems: and too little energy to solve them. 5. We have righteous desires: in the midst of a world filled with evil influences. 6. There are relational breakdowns: with apparently too little wisdom to solve them. 7. There's too much noise, hot weather or cold weather, and hyper activity. THE PRESSURE IS ON! E. QUESTION: is pressure always bad? 1. It teaches us to "rely on God" He who raised Jesus can deliver us from all our pressures, even when they push us to the brink of our toleration. 2. Pressure can be used for good: a. Example: the water hose and washing the car (would you rather use a bucket?); b. Other examples: squeeze jars for ketchup; hydraulic systems; air in tires and tools; car engine cylinder. c. The old style thermos glass inner bottle broke so easily because there was not enough internal pressure to match the exterior. So, the first step is the acknowledgment of real difficulty, there must be no denial. II. Source of comfort A. The word "Cum/fort" from the Greek "paraklasis", or "encouragement", which simply is "courage within" B. God Himself is our source - we need to be filled with God in order to withstand the external pressure all around us. I Samuel 30:6 - "David encouraged himself in the Lord." C. God encourages us in our struggle so we can use the energy to comfort others. D. This comfort is applied to "all our troubles" (afflictions, pressures), there are no exceptions. note v.10 - "On Him we have set our hope" This hope is communicated to us through prayer. III. Course of comfort (the encouragement is flowing through us to others) A. See v.4: "as you help"; comfort abounds, overflows B. This takes exception to the popular notion, "misery loves company". If indeed you are in need of comfort, position yourself to benefit from someone else's overflow. Don't hang around with other miserable souls. C. Picture this as a miracle "reverse domino" effect: starts with Jesus, who prays for Peter to "strengthen your brothers". We look to Jesus, we're strengthened, and we in turn attract others to do the same. D. Everyone should practice when coming to church - sit with overflow people. The same goes with talking on the phone. Conclusion: When feeling under pressure, do this: 1. Acknowledge the hardship, even be willing to share it with others. 2. Go to the source, the Lord Himself. 3. Get with people that spill encouragement, soon you'll be spilling and looking for someone to spill on, they in turn will do the same, and on and on it goes. Soon everyone in the church will be spilled on, and begin looking outside the church for some "spillees". The ultimate result? "many will give thanks" v.11, and will "Praise God" v.3.
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