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We continue our series, Standing Strong in a Shaken World with the sermon, Encouragement. We can all understand discouragement, but what is the nature of encouragement? If encouragement were simple and readily available then it would not be worthy of any sermon.  Encouragement has become rare for us, because we have been confronted with plenty of discouragement. Unless we are careful, we will stare into the darkness of discouragement until it squelches every bit of the light of encouragement. Some of this is circumstantial, things like the pandemic, the economy, or political wrangling all focus our minds on what is wrong with the world. Other circumstances of discouragement are far more personal and impactful. We have a job change, our kitchen gets flooded, a dramatic health problem surfaces, all of these focus us on what is wrong with our lives. Where will we find encouragement? We turn to Philippians 2:1-11. It is filled with the power of encouragement. It was not an encouragement that everything was right with the world because the Roman Empire was cruel and oppressive. It was not an encouragement that everything was going great for the Apostle Paul personally because he was writing from the dungeon of a Roman jail. It was an encouragement that is not dimmed by the darkness of circumstance or personal problems. Paul is very clear that when we are connected to Christ, then the power of encouragement is available to our lives. Our pressing need is to tap into this power source for living our lives. These words were to help the Philippians increase their ability to stand strong in faith.  Through the Holy Spirit, these words lead to a greater sense of encouragement and hope that is beyond any of our problems or circumstances.  As you read Philippians 2:1-11, it is our most sincere prayer that the encouraging presence of our Lord and Savior will flood your soul!  Philippians 2:1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)