“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” NIV
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” NLT
“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Message
This is my life verse. It is the verse that is ever so dear to me. It is the verse that has spoken to me over and over and over again. It is my calling. It is the voice that cries out from my heart. It is the passion that fuels the efforts of my days.
Let me just say now, this is not the only verse that I try to live out in my life. The Bible is filled with amazing verses, lessons and commands that I dearly long to live out. But I have such a strong belief that my mission in life is to encourage with love, passion and enthusiasm. This verse goes right along with that.
I love meeting with people. One on one is my absolute favorite! A couple of people is also wonderful! Being at a table sharing a meal or having coffee is one of the greatest sources of joy that I have. I will basically go anywhere to meet with a family member or friend. 5:00am in the morning, 11:30pm at night. Whatever it takes.
When I am sitting across the table from someone it is the greatest opportunity that I have to pour out encouragement. I love to listen to people’s stories. I cherish the prospect of hearing the challenges and triumphs that they have experienced. I have the opportunity to share my story with people. I can tell them how greatly I have been encouraged by God’s love for me and how much He loves them. I can give the gift of hope because I know that God will use my words for His purpose.
I am reminded of Philippians 2:1-2, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
I could not encourage or comfort or love if I had not received it myself. Christ is the infinite source of love, encouragement and comfort. It is from Him that I have drawn the strength to continue on when I feel completely empty and exhausted.
I can hardly describe to you how easy it is for me to loose track of time when I meet with people. Having coffee for two or three hours is not unheard of. Sound crazy, yes I probably am. I know that I do it, so I’m working better to make sure that I am watching clocks or have an alarm set on my phone to bring me back to reality. Plus I try very hard to value who I am with and make sure to check with them at the beginning of our meeting to see what their time needs are.
It is so energizing and fueling to me to sit taking in by listening with eyes and ears and heart, then pouring out with words and hugs and tears. I can’t tell you the number of times that as I am saying goodbye, I hear “this has been really good” and “we should do this again”.
Before I was really on fire for the Lord, I enjoyed meeting with people. But the conversations, while good, never seemed phenomenal. Then I turned to the Lord with all that I had and my heart was set ablaze.
I love the segment of my life verse from the Message translation that reads, “not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on.” Who knew that having coffee together could be a form of worship? I didn’t realize that, until I really listened to the words that were coming out of my mouth. Praising God. Thanking God. Explaining my awe over the blessings. Recounting the ways He has rescued me or comforted me or guided me through tough times.
My first step in trying to live this verse out was to memorize it with my mind. This was no small task for me. I hate memorizing. I can paraphrase really well. I get the just of many verses and can share the message, but so often the reference chapter and verse alludes me completely. I often sound like this, “I read this really great verse, but now I can’t remember where it’s at.”
The next part was really to get it into my heart. I did that by trying to live it out. And I still do. I need refreshers, and on going training. I’ve got to keep doing it, again and again and again. It just never gets old.
What’s really hard about living out this verse is when the people across the table from me change. There are some that I have been meeting with for years. Some I had an opportunity to meet with for a brief time and now we find ourselves literally on different sides of the planet. There are others where there has just been a natural drift by a change in life circumstance for one or both of us. There are some where we’ve had change after change after change, yet continue on.
The hard part is when I focus on the do not stop meeting together. It’s easy for me to fall into control mode and try to do everything in my power to make it work to meet with someone. Often times there is pain or tears associated with it when I can’t seem to make it happen.
It’s then I am reminded that I am not in control. It is God who is. He calls us to meet with others to spur one another on to love and the good deeds that flow from love. He is so faithful in placing people in my life to meet with. I am trying to be grateful. I hope to have a heart filled with gratitude for all whom He allows me to encourage or that I get the chance to be encouraged by.
I so deeply want to share the joy that I have found through living out this verse. Words are awesome but sometimes pictures are better suited for the job. Here are some of my favorite people to meet together with. As I was putting this together, I realized I need to take my camera more often to get pictures of more of the amazing people God has blessed me with in this life.
Thank You so much for the verses that You give to us. Thank You for the way the shine in our lives. Thank You for the way they resonate in our hearts.
Lord, please bless all of those who read these words with great encouragers in their lives who keep on meeting with them. May each person receive love, comfort, hope and perhaps a bit of laughter in their times together.
You are amazing and awesome in ways that my words can not explain. In Jesus name, Amen.