Encouraging Each Other
So, I had an interesting experience this week. I started a ladies bible study group about a year ago, and over the course of the year, as I’ve shared with other women, I’ve received a lot of people telling me they would like to get involved. This past week, we were getting ready to launch our new book, so I had a kick-off party. I invited every single person who said they were interested over these past few months. I invited some other people who I thought might enjoy it. I shared the word like I was starting a church. I organized games, prizes, drawings, snacks, had the first chapter of the book made in mass so everyone could get a preview. It was going to be GREAT!! I was so excited. All these women getting together to share and grow in Jesus.
Now, my “core” group is great! We are all friends outside of group, we’ve grown and shrank over this past year. We’ve been through some rough stuff and some great stuff. We’ve gotten together and hung out, outside of bible study. We’ve been there for each other. We’ve had nights where we had so much going on in our lives that we’ve just shared and been there for each and to give encouragement or advice, or just shared testimonies of how Jesus is working in our lives, instead of doing the actual “study”. We’ve crashed other bible study events because someone else was doing something that we thought we’d all enjoy and set our lesson plan aside. We’ve had craft and cooking nights, where the items we make are meant to be shared with people outside the group, to share our testimonies and bring others to the faith, or simply encourage them on their walk. I’m so proud of this group, and so encouraged by them. They’re exactly what I want and what I need. I believe that this is a big part of why I have grown so much in my walk over the past year, is because I needed this. I needed a core group of fellow believers to help me digest everything I’m learning during the week, to help me apply these things to my life, to share their experiences, to share scripture they know and give me insight on what Jesus says I should do in this situation. And, I do the same for them. Part of what’s so fun about our group, we don’t all go to the same church, nor are we the same denomination. And, I believe that we’re all changed, and definitely better believers, and better people for it.
Now, back to the party…. We set up, we had a room big enough to fit everyone reserved, we had name tags, snacks, everything. My core showed up, helped set up, brought their snacks, we arranged tables, got the games out. And waited…. and waited…. and no one came. No one. Not one new person. We waited a good 45 minutes after we we’re scheduled to start. Not one.
But, you know what? We still had a great time! We learned new things about each other, we’ve all been hanging out for over a year, and I still learned new things about my group that I didn’t know. We won all our prizes 🙂 Everyone went home with something. We all decided that we really enjoyed doing the games and we would start doing something with new games at either every meeting or every craft/cooking night. We had a really good discussion about stuff that’s been going on. We worked out our schedule for the summer. We definitely ate a lion’s share of all the chocolatey good snacks and really enjoyed each other’s company. We made arrangements for the following week. And, everyone reminded me, that people weren’t saying “no” to me. And, I get that, but I was so excited because this whole experience has done so much for me, and I wanted to share that with others, but I guess that’s just not part of the plan yet. And, that’s ok. I’ll have another one in the fall. The people who are supposed to be here, are here, and the doors are always open. As we all know, the Lord has timing for everything, and we just have to trust it.
What does the Bible say?
Now, as my mother always says, when the bible has a “therefore” look at the before.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-10 ” But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Now, I believe that Bible studies are important because you need help. You need a group of people praying for you, a group sharing with you, giving you advice, helping you grow, reminding you what the Bible says about your situations, because:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14
You are going to face trials. You are going to struggle. Because you’re a believer, and because we live in a fallen world. And, you need support. Just like you need church. Just like Jesus had the Apostles. Our relationship is with the Lord, but having those around you to encourage you and help you grow, I believe, are just as important.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Matthew 18:19-20
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you. Thank you for our experiences. Thank you for our chances to grow. Thank you for everything you do for us. Thank you for sending your Son to save us. Thank you for encouraging me in the Faith today, and every day. Thank you for the blessing of believers that you have brought into my life. I pray that you bring these believers and encouragers into the lives of everyone. That you may lay your hands upon others to encourage and to grow, and to find their people to help them along their walks. That you may lay the same fire in their hearts to grow closer to you Father. That everyone can find encouragement in those around them, that they walk closer to you Father. I just pray for your blessing in our lives. I pray that we see your work everywhere, and in everyone. Words cannot express how grateful I am that you laid it on my heart to start my own Bible study and that you gave me such an incredible group of people to grow with, and I pray for that blessing on everyone reading this. I pray that everyone finds a group or fellow believer to have such a relationship with to grow. To learn your word, to make them better people. Thank you so much for all You do Father, and what you will continue to do, in all our lives. IN JESUS’ NAME! AMEN!!
Mission this week:
Each week, I’ve taken to supporting a mission outreach, here’s this week:
Read more about Marcondes Marques here