National Thank you Day -4th July

Today is the very first National Thank You Day. It grew from an idea earlier in the year to create an opportunity to thank those around us who have helped in our families or communities in some way during the pandemic. Organisations across the country, Scouts, Guides, NHS, FA and the Church are all supporting it … Thank you to those of you who seized the opportunity to take a card last week and deliver it to someone. It’s good for the community to see that the church cares.

We all like encouragement don’t we? I used to tell my teacher trainees that students will always forget what you teach them but they will never forget how you made them feel. A word of encouragement can go a very long way. It can inspire us and lead us onto greater things.

Our readings today are connected with that theme of encouragement. God is in the business of encouragement and scripture is full of examples … ‘Take Heart’, ‘Fear Not’, ‘Trust Me’ – God encouraging Ezekiel by speaking directly to him. The Psalms are full of words to encourage us in the nature and character of God – Today’s Psalm encourages us to look to God for our help and Paul wrote consistently about encouraging one another and building each other up.

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul shares of how a man was greatly encouraged by the way that God revealed the reality of the spiritual dimension to him.  I love hearing the testimony of others … what the Lord has been doing in their lives … it encourages me and reminds me of the nature and character of God. We all struggle at times … Paul shares something of a particular struggle he was having but then how he was encouraged by God reminding him of His grace and His strength for times such as that.

And then there is Jesus encouraging his disciples by equipping them and involving them in the work of the Kingdom. He gives them the power they need – as he does for us – and then ensures that they travel with a friend, supporting and encouraging one another but also protecting and being witnesses for one another.

The greatest encouragement however comes in what he instructs them to leave behind – no self-help – no food, no money, no bags, no extra clothing …. He is teaching them to rely upon God himself – that they might see His work and His provision clearly – when all things are stripped away it’s then that we know it’s God and can give him praise – moments in my life when every other avenue has been exhausted and then I could see the glory and provision of God. Perhaps that’s why the church in 3rd world countries is growing so rapidly … they have nothing and so God is always their first port of call and they see him at work so clearly

Jesus also tells them how to deal with discouragement – move on – be strategic ….

We can get so cosy and so comfortable – our world has been shaken this last 16 months – what have we learnt? Has our desperation drawn us closer to God? We’re equipped by God and sent by God to be Ambassadors for Christ  – personal representatives00 of Christ Let our lives be a witness

And so they went out –