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Body-building Tip #52 – These thoughts are designed to help members of the body at Grace to encourage one another’s faith.

Col 2:1-4 “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those of Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

For you to ponder: As we conclude this year of weekly body-building tips, we need to focus on the reason why we all should “struggle” to build one another up in the faith. Questions which deserve prayerful thought include, “Is it really that important?” or, “How much should we emphasize this aspect of ministry at Grace?” and, “How successful are we in ministering to one another in matters of eternal value?”

In these verses from Colossians, Paul gives very specific reasons why building up one another should be one of our highest priorities. The reason for his great struggle is so others may grow in Christ. More specifically so that believers will “reach all the riches” and uncover the “hidden treasures” in Christ. Notice that he wants to encourage their hearts in a context of love so that they will grow in Christ.

Tip: There are riches and treasures for the body at Grace as we try to encourage one another toward growth in grace. Yes, RICHES and TREAURES! That’s right! You read it correctly. Paul isn’t referring to loose change.

Challenge: Will you ask God to give you a burden to help those around you this morning to enjoy more of the riches and treasures in Christ? Are you willing to struggle to help another believer grow in Christ? Yes, you read it correctly, struggle?

 
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Body-building Tip #51 – These thoughts are designed to help members of the body at Grace to encourage one another’s faith.

Col 2:1,2 “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those of Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love,..”

For you to ponder: There are several important points for us to consider from these verses. First, Paul was experiencing a great struggle for the believers in Colossae. We can be sure that the struggle included praying for them and seeking ways to encourage their faith. It involved thought, effort and time. It wasn’t easy. It took mental and emotional energy.

Second, Paul wanted them to know he was struggling for them. Sharing that fact would in itself be an encouragement to grow in grace.

Third, the struggle involved a strong desire for their hearts to be encouraged and knit together in love. One way Paul tried to accomplish this was by sending Tychicus and Onesimus, his friends and helpers, to share what was happening with Paul who was probably in prison at the time. (4:8) Paul knew that the most fertile environment for encouraged hearts was one of love which “binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (3:14)

Tip: Building up someone in the faith usually takes thought, effort and time. It is often a real “struggle.” You can start by letting someone you are seeking to build up know you are praying for them and that you are sincerely interested in their spiritual health. As you share your interest in them, you might follow Paul’s example and share what is going on in your life. By these efforts you can help build love and harmony in this body of believers here at Grace. Challenge: Will you give the thought, effort and time to build up someone in the faith? Will you let that someone know want to share your desire to grow in grace and love together?

 
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Body-building Tip #50 – These thoughts are designed to help members of the body at Grace to encourage one another’s faith.

Acts 20:31 “Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.”

For you to ponder: These words from Acts were spoken by Paul at his last meeting with the elders from the church at Ephesus. It was an emotional experience because Paul told those gathered that he would never see their faces again. There are several things to consider from this verse. First, Paul exhorts them to be “alert” because he anticipates that false teachers will soon infiltrate the church and threaten the spiritual growth of the believers. For 3 years he had been preparing them to stand strong but he knew that dangers would always exist. Second, by Paul writing that “for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone”, we can see how seriously he took the spiritual growth and health of the believers there. Next, Paul reinforces his commitment to those believers by commenting about his tears.

Tip: Paul was a realist. He knew that believers there, even after 3 years of his intense teaching and attempts to build up their faith, would face threats to their spiritual well-being. Some here at Grace today are experiencing threats to their walk with the Lord. Other folks will experience those threats all too soon. Yes, we are all fighting the good fight of faith, and we need others to stand with us in the battle. May God help us to realize how much we need one another to continue strong in the faith.

Challenge: Have you thought about how strong the forces of evil are which threaten our spiritual growth individually and as a body? Are you willing to try to help one another achieve daily victories even if it takes years? Is your concern for the spiritual health of the person sitting next to you great enough to begin actively trying to encourage him or her in the Lord?

 
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Body-building Tip #49 – These thoughts are designed to help members of the body at Grace to encourage one another’s faith.

Eph 4:1,3 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,… eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

For you to ponder: Paul urges us, not based on being physically restrained in prison but being a willing captive for the Lord, to live our lives in a way that clearly shows Christ is our Lord. To wear the name of Christ well, we must bear with one another in love. Such bearing with one another is to be characterized by an eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. “Eagerness” implies sparing no effort. In light of the fact that some fellow Christians are hard to interact with, these words confront our frequent half-hearted efforts to build up one another. Eagerness to maintain the unity which God has given by His grace is not avoiding problems. It acknowledges the fact that the relationships we have with one another through the Spirit at Grace are indeed a wonderful gift from God to be guarded and nurtured. It faces the truth that we have a responsibility to encourage one another in the faith with all humility and gentleness with patience so that we might grow to maturity as one body in Christ. We must help to maintain an environment where love and peace encourage growth.

Tip: Eagerness to interact with one another about spiritual matters is a mark of maturity for a body of believers. Eagerness to preserve God-given unity is characteristic of one who is walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.

Challenge: Are you eager to share Christ with fellow believers at Grace? Will you help to preserve what God has given us at Grace by seeking to build up one another in Christ?

 
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Body-building Tip #48 – These thoughts are designed to help members of the body at Grace to encourage one another’s faith.

Eph 4:1,2 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,… bearing with one another in love,..”

For you to ponder: Paul urges us, not based on being physically restrained in prison but being a willing captive for the Lord, to live our lives in a way that clearly shows Christ is our Lord. “Bearing with one another in love” should characterize our daily interactions as believers. This includes the idea of putting up with something about another which is displeasing or offensive to us. It goes beyond that however because it is done in a context of love. We bear with or put up with one another not as an end in itself but as a means to help someone grow in God’s grace. Divine love urges us to seek the highest good for those around us which is indeed a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father.

Tip: The very idea of “bearing” with someone tells us that it will not be easy for us to minister to some people! Doesn’t really sound like fun!! But in order to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” as we are commanded to do, we must set aside our preferences for the higher good of building up someone to Christ’s glory.

Challenge: Can you look beyond someone’s imperfections and personality flaws? Can you envision what God is doing in that person’s life and seek to build him or her up to God’s glory? Can you accept the Truth that bearing with someone in love for the sake of encouraging spiritual growth is what God commands you to do?

 
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