Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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It takes courage to live for God. That is why Christians are to meet regularly and encourage one another. To encourage means to place courage into others. Hebrews 10:23-25 instructs us this way. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”

It takes courage to say “no” to what is desirable but not in God’s will for us. It takes courage to defeat the devil by not paying attention to the temptations he throws at us. It takes courage to stand against evil. It takes courage to step out in faith for the work of God. It takes courage to live as a Christian in a critical, secular world.

We usually think of encouragement as saying something positive or being pleasant, but it is much more than that! It is not just a friendly greeting or affirming statement. A lot of things are called encouraging in the popular sense of the word that do not instill courage. Instead, encouragement is empowering and critical to getting the work of God done through the obedience of His people. Making people feel good doesn’t go far enough.

Simply put, the command of Scripture is that Christians are to place courage inside of one another for doing the assignments of God. “En” means “to put into”. “Courage” means having the attitude to deal with things that are dangerous, difficult or painful without avoidance.

“Encourage” requires Christians to put courage into one another for the assignments of God, for love and good deeds. God wants to do thousands of things through his people. And most of these assignments take more courage than we individually possess.

Where are the powerful Christians today? They are all around us, but without courage. They usually do only those things that are pleasant and safe. We need to place courage into one another! Assignments from God are a little too big for our faith or confidence. God wants love and good works and the world needs them. So, we need to be continually encouraging one another every time we meet.

How much is not done because encouragement is not forthcoming from Christian friends, family members and spouses? How many people have not grown beyond easy Christianity to fuller dedication to God and beyond Bible study to Bible obedience? How many people have not risked themselves to save a friend or family member’s job or marriage or course of life? How many have not spoken up for Jesus where they live?

Encouragement is whatever it takes to empower another Christian to do loving good works for God that he or she lacks courage to do. We must remind each other that God has many ways of providing for success in the tasks He assigns.

Since each of us is different, there is not just one thing that encourages. The better we know one another, the more we know what will instill courage. Once we pay attention to each of our assignments from God, then we can try different encouraging actions until something works. And more than one of us can work together to encourage others, especially in Christian friendship groups, Christian families and Christian married couples. These long-term relationships are perfect for helping one another take on and succeed at one and then another difficult challenge. Encouraging is best done among people who “are in it together”, whether the “it” is spiritual warfare, teaching teenagers in Sunday school, or church leadership, to name just a few. Over the years, we can encourage one another to do hundreds of important things that otherwise would go undone.

Consider the added empowerment if encouragement comes from more than one in a person’s Christian Inner Circle. Two friends approaching the person at church and expressing belief that he or she will do a good job spearheading a church picnic is more powerful than just one friend encouraging. A mom and dad working together to encourage their children to do their best in school is better than just one of them and the other not weighing in to encourage. And imagine a whole family, adults and all the kids, encouraging a grandparent to do what is medically necessary to try to beat cancer.

Ongoing and lasting encouragement for difficult assignments from God will require regular encouragement from close Christian friends who meet frequently or from a believer’s Christian family. These people know the really hard, scary and repulsive things that people will be facing in the near and far future, signaling the need for continual encouragement.

Members of a believer’s Christian Inner Circle should inquire about the difficult things to be faced so they can pray and offer specific kinds of encouragement. Prayer alone is often not enough. That is why God instructs us to meet and encourage one another frequently.
Encouragement can take many forms, such as recounting successes in similar situations, giving feedback on strengths to draw upon and weaknesses to watch out for, sharing of biblical truth that is relevant, and specific prayers for obedience and courage.

Often Christians cannot see their own assignments from God, such as to become a better father or mother. Or they might recognize what God wants but avoid them because of perceived difficulty. Thus it is very important for Christian friends and family members to set aside significant time to explore together the assignments God appears to have given each believer. Once assignments are identified, Christians can go on to place courage into one another so that God is obeyed and glorified. We can all encourage one another to “get on with God’s program.”

By learning to place courage into one another now against the opposition of sin, we develop a spontaneous tendency to push people toward the good things of God. Just as parents want their children to do well in school and extracurricular activities and must continually encourage them, so God wants us to continually put courage into one another for whatever He wants us to do.

When it seems that what God wants from someone else is difficult, expensive, or involves suffering, we tend to avoid encouraging them. Yet, these things count more than other things when they have to do with spiritual development and eternal life in heaven with rewards and stored-up treasures.

Encouragement must be timely. If it is given too often, it might be perceived as pressure, complaining, or harping. But, if it is given at special points in time, it will likely be received well. Obviously, it is the right time when a person verbalizes struggle. In such a case, it will be good if we have already identified the need to encourage and are waiting for an opportunity.

Pointing out that something needs to be done is not necessarily encouraging. Wouldn’t it be great if just pointing out to one another things that would glorify God got done? However, most of the time, after bringing something up, long-term encouragement is called for.

It seems very likely that heaven will present unlimited opportunities beyond the strength of our present courage. What makes us think that when we are perfected in heaven that we will have the courage to do everything? Our perfection is from sin, not necessarily from caution or trepidation.

Is it true that to resist becoming a race car driver is sin if we do not want to do it for lack of courage? No, there are thousands of non-sinful things to do that we do not have courage to do. Not wanting to scuba dive for lack of courage is not sin. Jesus did not have to pay the penalty of death for our lack of courage to do many things that are not instructed by Scripture. God places many optional opportunities before us but does not consider it sin if we do not do them for lack of courage.

Therefore, it is not sin to be without courage unless it is for something God has instructed. If we do not have the courage to ski the advanced slopes when we have never skied an easy slope, that lack of courage is wisdom, not sin.

So, will it not be similar in heaven where all kinds of endeavors will require levels of courage not yet gained? What fun would skiing be in heaven if we could extreme ski off of cliffs without ever having skied before? Isn’t there joy in learning to get better and better?

It only makes sense that there will be many opportunities in heaven for which we will have desire but not enough courage. So, we will need to encourage one another in heaven, just a little different than it is now. Presently, we need to place courage into one another to obey Scripture. In heaven there will be no sin, so we will not need to encourage one another to live righteously.

Instead, Christians will encourage one another in heaven to partake in an endless array of exciting opportunities. For example, after a thousand years you may notice that I have not yet visited the planet Zork in Galaxy 5832. Heavenly encouragement may be needed to get me on the next flight out.

Just as floating forever on a cloud as portrayed in cartoons is not attractive, so is a heaven with nothing new to be accomplished. Even throwing a party in heaven will take work. We may need to be encouraged to imagine an exciting ambiance with creative design. Without such encouragement to go beyond what has already been done before, things could get rather tedious and humdrum in heaven.

In light of these possibilities in heaven, encouraging one another now strengthens our spirits to higher levels of ability to encourage others in heaven. We will have the ministry of placing courage into one another to try things throughout eternity. What fun it will be to help others do new things they want to do! How exciting it will be to have so many things to do in eternity, many of them so unique from the creative mind of God that we cannot now imagine them.
Isn’t it rewarding now to help others succeed at something new? Friends and family members suggest a new menu item at a restaurant or a new vacation destination or a new way to cook spaghetti. Those who want to try the suggestion but do not have courage to make an attempt receive encouragement. When people say, “Oh, I don’t think I can do it”, they are indicating that they need more courage. And, we try to give it to them. And, we will continue to do this in heaven to the level of skill we have developed now before death.

Surely with such variety, some of the things possible in heaven will require more courage. No matter. There will be those who took encouraging others very seriously in life before death. They will be there to help us sometime, some year, some decade, some century, to get to doing what, up until then, has been daunting and untried.

On the new earth God will create, if we want to climb the new Mt. Everest, won’t we have to work out at the gym to become strong enough? If so, we will need encouragement to keep to the task of building muscle. Won’t it be great if enough Christians now, before death, took the command to encourage one another so seriously as to be quite adept in heaven at putting courage into us in that gymnasium? There are more fantastic adventures waiting for us in heaven than we can count and for which we will need encouragement to prepare for and do.
Okay, so it might not be a trip to the planet Zork that strikes our heavenly fancy. But what about smelling a new flower God has just created on the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa? Or training a kangaroo some tricks? Let’s imagine things we would love to do in heaven and recognize that we just might need others to encourage us to do them.

Here’s something else to consider. God has prepared heaven with all of its endless adventures for us to enjoy so that He can delight in our joy. So, let’s look forward to encouraging others to partake in these wonderful adventures and, just like God, delight in their excitement and accomplishments.

Imagine walking with God in heaven. He asks us if we have tried swimming up a specific waterfall. He has a twinkle in His eye, happy that He has made such a challenging adventure for us. We reply that we have not yet had the courage to do so. He smiles and promises to send some others who have already done it to give us the necessary courage. He wants to see how we enjoy it.

Wouldn’t we like to see God smile after we have finally done something that required encouragement from another citizen of heaven? Won’t that closeness with God be quite a thrill?

Also, if we want to bond with Him through empathy in helping others achieve, we need to practice encouraging others as much as we can. God is constantly encouraging His children, so we can follow His lead and every day be looking for people into whom we can place courage.

Like God, we have to persevere with stubborn Christians. He does not give up on us when we drag our feet. When we do not give up on people, we open up even more valuable empathy with God. In fact, it is just those Christians who stubbornly resist our encouragement who need it the most. When we finally succeed in placing courage into them and they successfully do an assignment from God, we and God will be very happy.

Finally, it must also be emphasized that we need to let others place courage into us. Let’s make it easier for those in our Christian Inner Circles to encourage us by not being defensive or acting like we are sufficient all unto ourselves. It is just as foolish to not let others encourage us as it is to not encourage others.

Reflection & Group Tools

Place inside of one another the courage to tackle God’s assignments. Remind each other that God has many ways of providing for success in the tasks He assigns.

Rom 1:12; Phil:1:3-6; 1 Thes 5:11; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:25

Prayer to Embrace this Together

Empowering Lord, I and those in my Christian Inner Circle will need Your help to grow our spirits to want to meet often with those in our Christian Inner Circles and encourage them. Help us to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit for all of us to give You more glory in the way we put courage into one another to live for You and do the more difficult things You want us to do.
Please help us all to become more like Jesus and continually encourage one another. Like Jesus did with His disciples and those who came to hear Him, make us excellent at determining what specific encouragement other believers need as we interact with them.
May our lives worship You more because, as You do, we encourage those in our closest relationships to holy living, especially where it is very difficult for them. Help us to know Scripture that we might repeat Your encouraging words to other believers.
Make us strong in Your power to encourage one another in battle to defeat the devil who is constantly trying to make Your people powerless. Through the Holy Spirit, make us effective in putting courage into one another so that we join together to fight Satan’s evil strategies.
Help us all to prepare for heaven by growing more completely to provide encouragement to other Christians to take hold of the things of God. Guide us to get more and more skilled at placing courage into one another now when things are scary because of evil to be able in heaven to be really good at encouraging others for opportunities that are scary, but not because of sin, but because they are new.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your Spirit is most easily transformed in community. The tools below can facilitate your growth as you meet together with those you are in close Christian relationship with.

These are some of the possible benefits in heaven we will be seeking today by opening our minds to the Holy Spirit regarding encouraging one another.
We will enter heaven more skilled in encouraging other citizens of heaven to try some of the millions of new opportunities God will have for us as part of “the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Ephesians 1:18)

We will be more able to give God that joy he has when he sees his people enjoying what he has provided for them to conquer and enjoy. We will thrill to see God experience joy when others we have encouraged have accomplished something.

We will learn to experience great joy when someone we have encouraged excels. In heaven, where envy and selfish competition are absent, we will be able to experience joy upon joy for all eternity of the accomplishments of those we have encouraged.

Sanctification Booster #1:

List some of the more difficult things Christians can do to glorify God more than they already do or do not do that require long-term encouragement from other Christians, probably more than from just one Christian.

Sanctification Booster #2: