In Faith Moments, Odalis Turincio shares her thoughts on living out her faith and how we can grow closer to God.
Good morning. Welcome to faith moments. This is a space for us to talk, explore our faith, and listen for what God might be saying to us, either now or maybe He’s been saying it all along. My name is Odalis. I’m part of the pastoral team at Cornerstone SF. I’m so grateful to have this time to share and that you have joined from wherever you are. It’s good to have this space together. Today, on Faith Moments, we’re going to spend a few minutes talking about encouragement. Normally I would say, “Hey, if you’ve got a Bible around, take a minute, go grab it.” But we’re going to be all over the place this morning. Instead, I just want to encourage you to grab a little notebook, use the notes app on your phone, or anywhere you can jot down a Bible verse reference.
We’re going to go through a bunch of verses today. I’ll come back to it later, but it would be great to take note of the ones that stand out to you. Before we do anything else, I would love to pray. Then, we’ll just dive right in. Father God, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for who you are. We thank you for your kindness, strength, and spirit, which connects our souls to you and gives us access to your heart. Father, it also gives us this privilege that at any moment we can turn to you. We can shift our focus away from our circumstances and onto you. That’s what we do here at this very moment, as we turn our attention toward you. We invite you, the author of life itself, to be the one who authors this moment. We thank you again. We pray for your presence and your blessing over this time, Jesus. It’s in your name that we pray. Amen.
In this faith moment, we’re talking about encouragement. I’m not sure if the word is totally overused for you. Or, you don’t hear it enough. If the former, if you hear about encouragement all the time, then drop in the comments some things that you love about encouragement. Your favorite things about encouragement, even an encouragement you received recently that we can all be encouraged around celebrating. If the latter, if you don’t hear enough about encouragement, then my genuine prayer for this time is for the Lord to meet you and refill your cup. To make sure we’re on the same page, I pulled the etymology for the word encourage from our favorite and most reliable source, Wikipedia, naturally. The gist of the general definition of encouragement is to mentally support, motivate, give courage, hope, or spirit. Alternatively, to spur on or strongly recommend. Lastly, to foster, give help, or patronage.
To be encouraged is to receive these things. Receive support, motivation, hope, courage, and spirit; to be recommended, all of that stuff. So many of us are walking through a lot in our personal lives, the lives of those around us, our work, home, naturally collectively in our nation. It seems like there’s so much fear and concern. There’s confusion and anger. Sometimes even a sense of hopelessness creeps in when we take a look at the whole of our moment of 2020. What we’re all walking through together. I don’t need to tell you. You’ve been living through it too. I know that for myself, I sometimes get so overwhelmed with how many deeply important things happen. I have to fight the tendency to shut down, sink into the couch, ignore life, and tune everything out.
This is why I want to talk about encouragement. Specifically about encouraging ourselves in the Word. Not just because I personally could use this, because I can. Hopefully because maybe some of you could use this too. Maybe you feel like your cup is empty. Like you’ve come to your wit’s end, and there’s still so much more to navigate. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt out of your depth. Or you felt like a circumstance is so big that you don’t have the confidence or the strength in yourself to get through it. Sometimes, there are folks around us who fuel us with their encouragement. They know just the right thing to say, at the right moment, in the right way. They love us. They have our trust and we have theirs. In other seasons, it can feel like our corner is pretty empty. It’s just quiet. To be honest, I’ve walked through stretches where the words of people have been the fuel to get me through.
There have been other stretches where even the words of people present haven’t been enough to refill my cup. To get me to a place where I have the energy, strength, hope, and courage to get through the circumstance, to pull me from my ‘discouraged’ place. What do you need? What have you needed? Is it support? Is it motivation? Is it courage, hope, direction, or just straight-up help? Or, just the confidence to know that you can do this? In the time we have left, I want to read verses where we can find those things we need, where we can do what we call encouraging ourselves in the Lord. If we have the people around us or not, this is such an important practice. A discipline to develop, where we look to those around us who are precious. Also, and sometimes, more importantly, to learn how to look to the Lord, to look at His Word that He gave us, to find that fuel, strength, and motivation that refill our cups. The encouragement to get through the things that we’re facing.
The Word is the source of life, because it connects us to the author of life, the Lord. This is where you can grab post-its, a notebook, or a note in your notes app on your phone, text yourself. In the past, I’ve taken a dry erase marker and write things on the mirror. It comes right off, whatever works for you. As we read through these verses together, take note of the ones that stand out. Whether it stirs your heart or it confuses you, you can spend time with it later. If it reminds you of a truth you need to feel again, whatever way that any of these, or all of them, stand out to you, then take note of the verse reference. Proverbs 3:5-6, whatever it is. Take note of it.
Look that verse up later. Spend time with it. Seek it out. Remind yourself of the encouragement that you feel right now in this time that we’ll share. You could even set a reminder for yourself on your phone and have an alarm that goes off that just has that verse reference. Then go and look it up. Spend time in it. Whatever it looks like for you to remind yourself of this space, do that later. These verse references are all going to be in ESV. Another idea, if one stands out, look it up in different translations. Sometimes it takes on a different meaning or a deeper impact. Try whatever works for you. Try things you haven’t tried. In this space, let’s just listen for the Lord.
Let’s walk through Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him. And He will make straight your paths.”
Second Corinthians 4:16-18. “So, we don’t lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not into the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient. But the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Second Corinthians 12:9. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Psalm 27:1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is a stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” Romans 15:13.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.”
Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 40:31. “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall Mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not be faint.”
First Peter 5:7. “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.”
Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
First Corinthians 15:58, one of my favorites. “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that, in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.”
Romans 8:28. “And we know that, for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.
Second Timothy 1:7. “For God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” The older version has “of a soundness of mind.”
Psalm 73:27. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Lastly, some of my favorite words out of the mouth of Jesus, I have John 16:33. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation but take heart. I have overcome the world.”
Let’s pray. Our heavenly Father, we thank you for your word, for your life that you give us in it, and for your encouragement and strength. No matter the tribulation, trial, difficulty, heartbreak, success, joy, and pain, no matter the things that we experience in this life, we can take heart in you. You have overcome the world. You have given us hope, a future, salvation, an eternity beyond what we can imagine. Your invitation to us is to live life with you, alongside you, to be conformed into the image of your Son, God. We thank you because we are never without hope. We are never without strength when we have you, Father. We cast our cares on you in the knowledge that you care for us. We count on your hope, joy, and salvation, to prevail in our circumstances, Jesus. We pray for your grace to be with us on this day. We love you. We thank you. We ask for your encouragement to refill our cups and get us through one moment, one day at a time. We pray these things, Jesus, in your precious name. Amen. Thank you for joining. May you be encouraged. May you be strengthened in the Lord. I look forward to spending the next faith moment with you. God bless you.