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An Encourager

by Mike Sanders

Focus for a Bible Study

Encouragement is the focus for the next Bible study. The text is Hebrews 3:12-15. The text instructs (an imperative) to be encouragers.

     Hebrews 3:12-15  (NKJV)   12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Encouragement is a ministry. It is a ministry of giving and receiving. As we make ourselves available to encourage others, we are ourselves encouraged.

I like the story below. Let’s ask our Father for eyes to see the opportunities to be an encourager.

Ford Encouraged by Edison

Henry Ford once said that the ability to encourage others is one of life’s finest assets. The auto inventor and manufacturer knew the power of encouragement. He had learned of it as a young man.

Memorable to him was the time, at the beginning of his career, when he made a drawing of his newly-built engine for Thomas. A. Edison. Young Ford had endured criticism and ridicule. Most mechanical experts of that day were convinced that electric carriages would be the popular passenger cars of the future.

But attending a dinner one evening at which Edison was present, Ford began explaining his engine to men nearest him at table. He noticed that Edison, seated several chairs away, was listening. Finally the great man moved closer and asked the young inventor to make a drawing.

When the crude sketch was complete, Edison studied it intently, then suddenly banged his fist on the table. “Young man,” he said, “that’s the thing! You have it!” Years later, Ford recalled, “The thump of that fist upon the table was worth worlds to me.” —  Jack Kytle (a)                                                                                                                       

A closer study has helped me better understand the role of encouragement in the well-being of our Lord’s church. This text, read more attentively, reveals a preventive and a positive outcome. The preventive is encouragement. The outcome is . . . none of you will be hardened. Encouragement fosters over-comers.

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13).”

This verse instructs that audience (Messianic Jews) and me (Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:6-11) to be an encourager. This is an all-inclusive (The verb ministry of encouragement is critical).

Rom 15:4 (NKJV)    For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

I Cor. 10:6-11 (NKJV)   Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

(a) Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 338–339.

Bible Study Questions

Hebrews 3:12-15 NASV/95

12:1 What is the concern of this warning? Why is it critical?

12:2 To whom is it addressed?

12:3 Why should this concern me (Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:6, 11; 2 Tim 3:16-17)?

12:4 Consider cause and effect (“an evil, unbelieving heart”). Identify the cause.

12:5 What is the ultimate outcome of this heart condition? Why?

13:1 What can be done to counter this danger?

13:2 When does this ministry, one to another, begin? Frequency? End?

13:3 What is prevented as a result of this ministry?

13:4 How do you do this (Heb 10:24-25)?

14:1 What status occurred in the past and continues to the present?

14:2 How may this status be maintained? Explain.

15:1 How may we still hear His voice?

Mike Sanders is the former minister of Beuchel Church of Christ and retired UPS Pilot.    He resides in Louisville, KY.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4