Going Deeper: Encourage – Session 3

Inspire

We’re glad you’re here. Are you ready to talk about Inspire faith action of Encourage? We are.

Father God, we praise You as the ultimate source of all inspiration and encouragement. Teach was what we need to know to inspire Your people.

Read Reflection Scripture:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. …”

Joel 2:28 ESV

What insights did you gain from the Reflection Scripture when it comes to inspiration as a form of encouragement?

This particular passage was cited by Peter as being fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church.

Finding a passage, word, or phrase in another part of Scripture can be a useful way of “mining” understanding.

Read Acts 2:14-18

Peter gave Joel’s prophecy as the reason for the disciples speaking in many languages, telling the mighty works of God to those present at the feast.

We are living in this “afterward,” in the last days, His Spirit currently pouring out on all flesh.

Does this thought inspire? How? Are you encouraged or discouraged by this truth?

Carol says:

As I began to reflect on the week’s Scripture, recognizing this as the time we live in, I was inspired to pray for my own children.

I prayed for Him to pour out His Spirit on my sons and daughter. To fill them with divine inspiration and to bless them with the boldness to speak and act on it.

The pouring out of His Spirit encourages me to hope in what He is still working out in my life and the lives of those I love.

Reflection Thoughts:

What verbs do we discover in the Reflection Scripture?

The verbs include: pour, prophesy, dream, see.

What instigates the flow of the verbs?

God pours out His Spirit to begin the prophesying, the dreaming of dreams, and the seeing of visions.

What do the actions manifesting from His poured-out Spirit have in common?

Prophesy, dream, see. Each a revelation of something on the horizon, something future.

  • To prophesy is to utter divine inspiration.
  • To dream is to have a strongly desired goal or purpose.
  • To see is to come to know or discover.

Each manifestation of His poured out Spirit has the power to inspire action. If the prophecy, dream, or vision seen is catastrophic in nature, it can inspire one to take steps to prevent it from happening. Fix what is wrong. Remove complacency. Cause repentance.

If what is spoken or seen is a picture of something much better than the current situation, it can inspire hope to move forward. Remove paralysis caused by depression or despair.

Joel’s words of inspired actions are powerful ways to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we utter divine inspiration (prophesy) into someone’s life it can encourage them to strongly consider their desired goal or purpose. They begin to dream about the many ways Jesus can accomplish what He says in their lives. Over time they come to know and discover a clear vision of where God is calling them, and they go.

Have you experienced God’s poured-out Spirit inspiration in your life? How? Are you still actively pursuing? or has the inspiration faded?

Carol says:

God first inspired me to give my life to Him through my mom’s illness and death. When she shared her trust in Him as she lay dying, He captured my heart.

I was inspired to come to know Him through His Word and prayer. Not having grown up in church, those were the only two things I knew to do.

Years later, He inspired me to write. It was something I dreamed of doing as a teenager but saw it as a dream long dead. He resurrected it in the form of sharing His Word with others. Through writing I share what He’s taught me.

I am still actively seeking Him to know Him better and still writing about what He teaches me.

Stacy says:

The fact you are reading the words on this page is my testimony to the power of encouragement inspired by Spirit. Because I had no idea Carol ever dreamed of being a writer when she came into my office with a t-shirt idea for the youth of our church.

I didn’t really know her at all. We weren’t even friends. This is why I know without a doubt the day I encouraged her to write what she thought was a good t-shirt into a Bible study was all God. He knew exactly what it would take for my sister to begin dreaming about God’s plan and purpose for her life. The beauty of Joel’s words is we don’t have to know.

Not long ago Carol sent me a text about the vision for her life. “If I said I believed my purpose was to feed God’s sheep, what would you say?”

Please understand, this is not about me. Honestly I’m not smart or creative enough to even imagine how this would have played out in our lives. Nor did it happen overnight. It took years to get to this point, and Carol’s text reveals God is still inspiring her to put the vision into words.

This is the power of encouragement inspired by God, and I am truly blessed to be a part of it.

What is He saying to His people in the Reflection Scripture? What is He saying to you?

God is currently doing what He made the way for through Jesus. The filling of Believers with His Holy Spirit to see, dream, and speak His truth. It’s as if He’s saying to His followers: I’m doing my part: pouring out. Are you doing yours?

He calls us to pour out our lives into what He inspires, just as He poured out His life for us.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. …”

Luke 9:23 ESV

Prayer of Praise:

Did praising God as Perfect inspire you to pursue Him even more faithfully? Why or why not?

This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Psalm 18:30 ESV

His perfect love embraces us — the lost, blind, lame — to make us perfect too. He alone has the power to perfect what’s gone wrong in us. In His perfect grace and mercy, we have no need to fear condemnation in our failures. Just a God who forgives and perfects one more part of our lives in the process. His perfection is a refuge for those of us who embrace our flaws.

We spent the week looking into the ways we are inspired to continue following Him and how we might inspire others by His Spirit.

Read Colossians 3:1-3

Believers raised with Christ are to seek the things above where Christ is and where our real life is hidden. In Him.

We are responsible for seeking out inspirational encouragement from His Kingdom and not the world. Actively looking for and keeping our minds set on His Light and not the darkness around us. It is our responsibility to focus on Him to say the course.

Stacy says:

When I read this Scripture a cartoon drawing came to mind as I asked the question to myself, “What does it mean to set your mind on something?” Imagine taking your brain out of your head and setting it beside Jesus in the heavenlies.

It seems silly now, but the impact wasn’t. I thought about less distractions, and the wisdom available. I considered Love’s sacrificial response instead of my own selfishness.

The picture of my mind literally sitting beside Jesus is what it looks like for me to be “seated at the right hand of God.” A way to envision myself dead to this world and alive in Christ.

What spiritual realities are revealed in these verses? What inspiration do you find to walk His way and not the world’s way?

First, Christ is seated at the right hand of God. According to the Tyndale Bible Dictionary, God’s right hand is the means whereby victories are obtained for the people of God and the instrument of punishment for the ungodly. To be at the right hand of God is to occupy a place of the choicest blessing. Therefore, as Believers we look up and see Jesus as our victory and blessing.

Second, you have died. If this is true, and we died with Christ on the cross (Galatians 2:20) two things become clear. 1) What do we have to fear? Dead people aren’t afraid of anything. 2) Dead people are NOT tempted by the things of the flesh.

Every Christian is crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto him, Galatians 6:14. And if we are dead to the earth, and have renounced it as our happiness, it is absurd for us to set our affections upon it, and seek it. We should be like a dead thing to it, unmoved and unaffected towards it.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume

Recognizing the spiritual reality of our death inspires us to resist temptation and to boldly obey without fear.

Third, your life is hidden with Christ in God. This truth means the only life we are to live is Christ’s life. Our fleshly life should no longer be seen. Only Jesus living in us.

This does not mean we should ignore our earthly responsibilities. Rather it means that our motives and our strength come from heaven, not earth.

– Warren W Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary

Plus, with our life hidden in Christ, when God the Father looks at us He sees Jesus.

These truths should inspire us to attain their reality on earth. Live fully for Him. Stay focused on Him. Fill our minds with the things of His Kingdom.

The greater understanding of what He’s done for us and the clearer we see His love, the more our love and devotion for Him increase. The more we see the effect of His love in our lives, the more we want to live to please Him.

His Kingdom is unseen, yet our senses are inundated by the things of the world.

How are we to look up while facing all that is around us? How do we see the world from a heavenly perspective? What do you see that opens the eyes of your heart to His Kingdom?

Beauty in the world has the ability to open the eyes of our heart to God’s awesome power.

We live in a broken world. One we broke with our sin. We made Satan the prince of the world by handing him our God-given authority when we obeyed him instead of God. Yet, the power of sin is not enough to obliterate the beauty and wonder of His goodness and love. It continues to break through the darkness in so many ways.

The heavens still declare His glory through sunrises, sunsets, and the countless stars at night. The beauty, order, and faithfulness of God continues to be revealed in the seasons, the phases of the moon, and the life cycle of all things created.

Looking up sometimes means seeking evidence of Him in the world around us.

Flowers blooming among weeds.

Rainbows in the middle of storms.

Joys in the midst of trials.

It is our responsibility to seek Him. To look up. And find inspiration in His power, love, and promises.

Read Habakkuk 2:2-3

God told Habakkuk to write the vision down on tablets. Make it plain. So others could read it and run. Visions are meant to inspire the church to thirst for something better and encourage them to run toward making it a reality.

They also have an appointed time or season…

The original Hebrew translated as hastens, speaks, describes in various versions, literally means: to breathe, blow; to cause to exhale or breathe; to puff; to breathe out, utter (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). God’s visions are blowing their way to fulfillment.

When God gives a vision, the winds of change begin to blow and they will not cease, change speed, or diminish until its appointed time.

What vision or promise shared in His Word provides you with inspiration and encouragement to run toward something better? How?

  • He will complete what He has started (Philippians 1:6).
  • He works all things for good (Romans 8:28).
  • This trouble is for a little while (1Peter 1:6). Inspires perseverance.
  • Where two or three are gathered, Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20). Here is found encouragement and faithfulness in teaching or serving when only one other gathers with you.
  • He is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). There is a process going on, we just need to wait.
  • He is building His church and hell doesn’t win (Matthew 16:18). Inspires hope.
  • Since He did not spare His Son, how can He not graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32). Settles any doubt of His goodness.

Does the surety of His visions coming to pass encourage or discourage you in the waiting? Explain.

His visions do not lie. If it seems slow – it’s not. Wait. It will come. It will not be late. God’s timing is perfect.

Read Philippians 2:1-8

Encouragement from being united with Christ includes:

  • Comfort from His love.
  • Participation or fellowship with the Spirit.
  • Affection and compassion.
  • Sympathy, pity, mercy.

In our fellowship with the Holy Spirit, what encouragements do we gain which are not specifically listed in the passage?

The Holy Spirit blesses us with unique spiritual gifts and abilities to serve others. He provides the power, wisdom, and counsel to minister in love. He is also the ever-present Comforter in our lives.

The encouragement Believers receive inspires us to love and care for others the same way.

What does it look like to live inspired by Christ’s encouragement?

Inspired living in Christ includes:

  • Doing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, strictly for your own glory.
  • Counting others more significant than yourself. Humility.
  • Looking out for the interests of others as well as you do your own.

When we live inspired lives in Christ, others can be inspired to seek Jesus because they see a better way to live. Or being on the receiving end of Christ’s love, a spirit of thanks may cause them to want to know more about Him or give back to Him in some way.

Have you been inspired to encourage others through the encouragement you’ve received from Christ? How?

Carol says:

His love and comfort inspire me to encourage others and has from the very beginning. Primarily by sharing my experiences with Him through writing.

It began with letters to family and friends. Then in teaching Bible studies, where I wove my personal stories of what He’s done for me into the lessons. This led to writing devotionals, and now, writing the Bible studies we teach.

He inspired me to love my husband more selflessly. Saving my marriage through His Word and blessing me with the faith to obey.

He continues to inspire me to love others more “rightly,” graciously showing me the “wrongness” of my ways.

I am so grateful for His continued encouragement and the transformation it brings about in me.

None of us are deserving of the encouragement we receive from being united with Christ. Understanding His gracious love should inspire us to overflow into the lives of others the same way. Like living water.

Read Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, precedes these two verses and sets us up for the, “Therefore…” of Hebrews 12:1.

Below is a list of some of the things we learn about faith in chapter 11. At this time in your life, which ones most inspire you to live faith-fully?

  • Hebrews 11:1. The definition of faith. Here is the reminder of what it means to live by faith: Assured of what we hope for and with conviction in the reality of the unseen.
  • Hebrews 11:3. By faith we understand God created the universe. Without faith we will not understand the unseen.
  • Hebrews 11:6. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
  • Hebrews 11:9. By faith we live temporary lives in the land of promise waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.
  • Hebrews 11:11. By faith we conceive and bring forth the promises of God in our personal lives.
  • Hebrews 11:13. Until Christ returns we die by faith having confidence in the unfulfilled promises to come. We live and die with an eternal perspective.
  • Hebrews 11:16. Faith fills us with desire for something better.
  • Hebrews 11:26. By faith we understand a life of suffering with Christ is a far greater treasure than any temporary benefits the world offers.
  • Hebrews 11:27. By faith we endure as seeing Him who is invisible. Living a life absolutely certain of what we do not see.
  • Hebrews 11:39-40. By faith we understand the fulfillment of the promises will be far greater – perfect – when we all receive them together. It is something worth waiting for.

These inspirational words cause us to thirst for something better. They remind us what we are looking for will not come to pass in the world as it is now. We look forward to “a better country” (Hebrews 11:16) with joy! Therefore…

What should these inspirational words inspire us to do according to Hebrews 12:1-2?

Knowing all the faithful who’ve gone before are watching we should be inspired to rid ourselves of every sin which slows us down in running toward the vision written so clearly in His Word.

We fix our eyes on Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. The One who writes and perfects our faith stories.

We look forward to the joy set before us in the eternal fulfillment of His promises.

Read Revelation 21:1-8

The book of Revelation is a vision of what is to come and was given as an encouragement to the church to inspire perseverance.

What do you hear in these verses which are most inspiring to you when it comes to completing the journey? finishing well?

Looking forward to the vision of what He is making new, brings us back to where we began. A reminder to look up for inspiration, not to the things of the earth.

The spiritual discipline of Day 5 challenged us to listen for the Spirit in every encounter we had with water during our week of study.

Was it hard to remember to listen? What did you hear?

Stacy says:

During these dog days of summer, evening comes and I fill the kiddie pool for my young pups. I laugh as I watch them splash and play in the water. They stick their noses under the coolness and are instantly invigorated. I wonder at their renewed energy as they chase each other around the yard.

A few days ago the air conditioning in my home went out. Texas heat in August has the power to zap the life right out of you. In an effort to keep things inside below ninety-five degrees I spray the sun-beaten brick of my home in the late afternoon. The water cools the wall and reduces radiant heat.

Encouragement’s living water has the same effect. Because the fiery furnace of sanctification can scorch and burn. It leaves us worn out and feeling devoid of the energy to continue. Yes, the refinement is good, but it’s not easy.

God’s gift to us is the ability to encourage each other along the way. It cools us down, helps us tolerate what seems unbearable and renews our energy to face another day. Oh, if we only knew, really knew the life transforming power of encouragement. We would never cease in sharing it with others.

As you saw water all around you this week, you probably saw just as many people too. People you could potentially bless with encouragement, and those who could possibly encourage you.

Sometimes the blessing of encouragement only takes a smile or simple word. Other times God calls us to more. He places us on another’s path to journey with for a season or maybe even a lifetime. Which brings us to our next week’s focus.

We will Come Alongside others as we go deeper into Encourage.

Click here for PDF of Homework: Encourage Week 3 – Come Alongside – Homework

Lord, grow us to be an encouragement to others.

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