Our theme for the last few weeks of the year is going to be "Encouragement". We're going to look at the importance of encouragement, how we encourage others, how discouragement works and how God encourages us. I hope the series will be a great blessing to you.
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The Importance of Encouragement
Hezekiah was one of the Old Testament's last good kings. He lived in a difficult time when the Assyrians were the dominant world power who eventually destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and were threatening Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom.
In the first part of our chapter Hezekiah is busy. When he hears that the Assyrians are coming, he fixes the walls, secures the water supplies and stocks up the armoury.
But over and above all these practical arrangements, Hezekiah does a really important thing: He encourages the people.
Let's watch him:
- He gathers the people in an assembly. Sometimes one needs to make an occasion of encouragement.
- He calls the virtues of strength and courage out of them. God places these virtues in us. Sometimes these need to be called out of us.
- He acknowledges the reality of fear and discouragement and calls them to make a decision about these negative emotions.
- He puts the enemy into context: The Assyrian King may have a vast army, but he is only human. With Israel is the "LORD our God" who "is with us" and will "fight our battles". (The "LORD" is in capital letters to indicate that Hezekiah is using the holiest name of God - "Yahweh" - the name revealed to Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.)
- The people gained confidence
The Christian singer, Jeremy Riddle, tweeted this: "Encouragement is like oxygen to the human spirit. Don't forget you're carrying someone else's air. Encourage them - help them to breathe."
You can be like Hezekiah - you can give someone else some air.
Take a moment to pray, asking God to show you the "air" (more on that cool thought next week!) and then share it with someone.
|He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: 7 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8 With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. (2Chronicles32:6-8)|