Thursday, February 15, 2018
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It seems as if the movie comes around again about once a year on TV, and we get a chance to see that charming story called "The Wizard of Oz." What a quartet! I mean, Dorothy, the little Kansas farm girl blown into the Land of Oz. She wants to see the Wizard to get help to get home. Then remember, there's a Scarecrow, he wants to see the Wizard to get some brains. And the Tin Woodsman, well, he's looking for a heart. And last but not least, there's that lovable feline, the Cowardly Lion. Now I know some people who could use some brains, I know some people who could use a little more heart; but we're surrounded by people who could use more of what that Cowardly Lion was looking for. Remember, "I need courage."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Un-cowarding the Cowardly Lion."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews chapter 10, and I'm going to begin reading at verse 24, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Okay, so we're supposed to be in the business of spurring people on to be what they need to be, to do what they need to do. In other words, people should be better off because they've been around you. That was the effect Jesus had on the people that He was around.
How will that happen? Well, it happens when we do this: "Let us encourage one another." I was thinking the other day about what encourage means. Just reverse it - courage in. It means you're putting courage in people. It's like a gasoline fill-up except it's a motivation fill-up. When you encourage someone, you literally put courage in them. You give them courage to take a risk, to trust God, maybe just to get through a very tough day.
You put courage in someone when you stop and you pray with them. I said with them, by the way, not just for them. An arm around them says, "Wait, let's stop and pray about your situation right now." I have seen people literally change before my eyes when I would just take a moment to pray with them.
You encourage a person when you give them specific praise for something they did or more importantly for something they are. Sometimes the courage injection comes from a scripture verse you share with them, or a spontaneous note or an email you write, or a text, maybe just a minute spent honestly inquiring how they're really doing. I can't tell you how many times someone's word, or note, or prayer of encouragement has literally put courage in me on a day when courage was really needed. And the encourager could never have known how much I needed it. But they were literally the channel for God to say to me, "Ron, I love you. It's going to be okay. Take courage, man."
Encouragement restores your perspective when it's been battered and beat up by the pressures of the day. The great thing about the ministry of putting courage in people is that anybody can do it. It doesn't require any great gifts. It doesn't require any musical ability, or speaking or leadership, or a seminary degree - just a heart. It takes a genuine interest and it looks for ways to give that person encouragement; to build them up.
That Cowardly Lion finally got his courage largely from being with three other friends who carried him through the tough times. People around you don't need a wizard to give them courage. But they may very well need some courage to take the next step on the road of their life. They just need somebody like you. They need the courage-giving love of a Jesus follower...maybe you.