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Fragile Hearts and God’s Comfort

May 28th, 2016

“May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise.” Psalm 119:76 NIV.

Comfort expresses God’s character even more than describes His compassion.

My thoughts today are about, “fragile hearts and God’s comfort.”

There are times when life should come with a warning, “Fragile, handle with prayer.” Life can be painful; people can be fragile. Life will hold its share of bumps and bruises. When your heart is breaking, when difficulties multiply, when problems overwhelm, when you think you cannot make another day, you can know and trust the God of all comfort. God always handles people with care. You or someone near you needs God’s comfort today.

If you have seen a mother comfort a sick or fussy child, or a father gather a frightened toddler into his arms, you were watching God at work. Nothing comforts a child like its mother’s arms, held close to her heart, and hearing her familiar, comforting voice. The crying stops and the child settles, resting quietly and safely in familiar arms. That’s a practical and tender picture of what God does for any child of His. God comforts them.

I have watched elderly saints struggling with pain that no medication seems to ease until God invisibly takes them in His arms and whispers His words of peace and assurance. I have witnessed families gathering at a graveside where hearts are aching and tears flow, until God touches broken hearts and they begin to heal. Remember, “The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT.

Jesus said, “I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever . . the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” John 14:16-17/26. The word is also translated, “helper, counselor, encourager.” Comfort expresses God’s character even more than describes His compassion.

Run quickly to, “the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV. His comfort to you is to overflow to others. “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, Who loved us and in His special favor gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say.2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT. God’s heals your hurt to empower you to bring healing to others. A simple prayer, word of encouragement, or expression of practical care can be an immeasurable comfort to others.

Today, I pray for you to experience God’s loving care and healing comfort.

EDL fragile - prayer

 

Christian Communications 2016

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Encouraged and Encouraging

August 25th, 2015

“That you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12 NIV.

Encouragement is evidenced in conviction, confidence, and courage.

Never Give Up

My thoughts and comments today are about being “encouraged and encouraging.”

Someone rightly observed, “Misery loves company.” Misery tends to choose similar company. Trust me; they will not be profitable for you and you aren’t helpful to them. Their depleted emotions further diminish yours. Encouragement is less about emotions and more about positive actions. Encouragement is evidenced in your conviction, confidence, and courage. I suggest three practical sources of encouragement.

Learn to encourage yourself in God and His Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:15-17 NKJV. Betrayed, deposed, and driven from Jerusalem by his rebellious son, Absalom, “David was greatly distressed . . but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV. The Word of God has power to heal your emotions, calm your fears, and refresh your heart. Read Psalm 19:7-10 NLT.

The Word of God and the grace of God is sufficient whatever your season or circumstance. The Apostle Paul describes such moments, “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. The Scriptures refocus your attention on Jesus; Jesus is the great Encourager. See Romans 15:4-5 NIV.

Choose to be an encourager to others. “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12 NIV. Is there anything you give others more valued and mutually rewarding than the gift of encouragement? You can’t encourage others when you are discouraged. Sow encouragement; reap encouragement. Encouragement returns from those you have encouraged. There is a familiar, but often misapplied, Biblical principle of generosity that is true in every application. “If you give, you will receive . . Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Read Luke 6:37-38 NLT. Notice that the surrounding context is relational rather than monetary.

Seek the company of those whose lifestyle and fellowship encourage you. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, Philemon, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7 NIV. Everyone needs fresh courage for the day and its demands. Life can be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually depleting, leaving you empty of energy and optimism. Days, even seasons, can feel disheartening. At such times, people who are emotionally and spiritually healthy refresh your courage. “And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 NIV. Also see Hebrews 10:25 NIV.

Today, I pray that you will aspire to be an encourager, and refreshed in doing so.

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Encouragers

August 8th, 2014

May our Lord Jesus Christ . .  encourage your hearts” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates.

My thoughts and comments today are about “encouragers.”

Disappointment occurs when expectations and assumptions are “not as appointed.” If disappointment lingers or when multiple disappointments occur, discouragement results. Discouragement has an emotional element, but is much more. The emotion disguises a loss of courage to persevere. Inaccurate though such feelings may be, they temporarily persuade you that your current disappointment is predictive of your future. God has good news for you. “Therefore we do not lose heart . . inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”  Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV. Courage is the confidence that God has everything under control and all will be well.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. When discouraged, read that slowly and frequently. Sometimes, God encourages you by sending an encourager into your situation.

Paul described his need for encouragement. “There was no rest for us . . outside there were conflicts, inside there were fears – have you ever identified with those feelings? – but God who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy . . so was the news he brought . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5-8 NLT. I remember my Dad saying, “Everyone makes others happy. Some when they come and some when they go.” Be like Titus, a joyful presence and carrier of good news.

Everyone needs an encourager, a friend who helps you feel, then believe, that there is reason to be hopeful. You can be a world-class encourager, if you will. Maybe you never assumed that what you could say or do would make any difference. But it does, and you can. The person who waits to only do great things, never does the ordinary things they could have been doing all along that make a difference. Joseph became so good at blessing others that they changed his name to Barnabas, “son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. Once you see a face brighten by a word shared or a heart lifted by a kindness shown, you will search for every opportunity to encourage others. The practice becomes a habit, then the habit becomes a lifestyle, and the lifestyle becomes contagious.  

There is someone nearby who needs you to be an encourager. The surest way to be perpetually encouraged is to practice the joy of encouraging someone else. When people see you coming, may they feel as Paul did, “At the sight of these men, Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” Acts 28:15 NIV. Good company always brightens a day and blesses a heart.

Today, my prayer is for you to live with courage, encouraging others along the way.

(Bible references are NKJV unless noted.) 11097

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Encouragement

June 3rd, 2011

“May God our Father . . encourage your hearts and strengthen you.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV

“Encouragement is putting courage into another’s heart.”

My thoughts today are about “encouragement.”

The words courage and encouragement are directly related. Think about it. You cannot have courage without being encouraged. Courage is not natural to us; it is learned by the nurture of others. Encouragement is often thought of as simply cheering a person, but it’s so much more; encouragement is “putting courage into” another’s heart – by your belief in them, support of them, words to them, or actions toward them. Encouraging others is a God-given ability.

To be and do your best, you need encouragers. None of us possess all the assurance, confidence, and resolve that life demands. Together we can be strong. At such times, God has placed people in your life whose words can reach your heart, their helping hand and company reinforce your strength. I have been blessed with encouragers; I hope that I have also been one.

It always helps me to see what a concept could look like. I see a living example of encouragement in the life of Moses. Read Exodus 17:8-16. Israel had been attacked by the Amalekites. Joshua commanded the army as Moses stood prominently on a hill, his hands and shepherd’s rod raised to Heaven in triumph. Imagine how the younger soldier and his men were encouraged at the sight of Moses. “As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning.” Like life at times, struggles are discouraging; eventually you grow weary and when you do the battle goes poorly. Inevitably weariness came; no one is intended to fight life’s battles alone, however strong they may be. People need people.

Ah, but Moses was not alone. “When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way, Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.” Moses drew courage and strength from the help of Aaron and Hur. Joshua drew courage and strength from the inspiring sight of Moses above the field of battle. Israel’s soldiers drew courage and strength from Joshua battling alongside them.

The point is this: everyone has a job to do and anyone’s task can be easier with a little helpful encouragement. God is there for you, as are others. “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand ands says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you . . So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.” Isaiah 41:13 NIV/ Hebrews 12:12 NLT. To be courageous, people need encouragement. You will receive that today, if you will be that for others.

When you encourage, you do God’s work! “May God our Father who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope encourage your heart and strengthen you.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. Read that slowly – “our Father loved us and gave us eternal encouragement!” – you have eternal encouragement in God! “David was distressed . . but encouraged himself in the Lord.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will be strong and encouraged in the Lord.

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Words of Encouragement

March 25th, 2011

“Barnabas . . was glad and encouraged them all.” Acts 11:23 NIV

“When you encourage others, you are doing the work of God.”

My thoughts today are about “words of encouragement.”

It’s pretty simple, obvious really; you can’t give something to others unless it is first real in you. Out of your own experience, you best help others. Remember a time when you faced something unfamiliar and a friend who had walked there before showed you the right path? They were sharing what they had, and you became the beneficiary.

You probably don’t recognize the name, “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus,” but you probably will know the name others soon called him – “Barnabas, son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36 NIV. Encouragement was not just what Barnabas did; encouragement was all about who Barnabas wanted to be, and who he became in the lives of others.  That can be true of you also.

Encouragement was both his character and his lifestyle. He encouraged the church to receive the recent convert, Saul. Acts 9:26-28. He encouraged Saul to join him in the revival at Antioch. Acts 11:25-26. He encouraged young John Mark, giving him a second chance and including him, when Paul would not. Acts 15:36-39. I have received second chances many times, and was encouraged to do better.

The incident when Barnabas was sent to encourage the new converts in Antioch evidenced his much deserved reputation. “The Church at Jerusalem . . sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” Acts 11:22-24 NIV.

Did you notice a sequence? “He was glad.” He was encouraged by the new life and sincere faith he found, and so he encouraged the new believers in what they were doing and how well they were doing so. “He encouraged them!” He gave them inner courage and confidence to continue in a job well done. Have you ever needed that, and receiving it made all the difference in your energy and persistence to continue? Are you being that point of encouragement to someone?

I would suggest that Barnabas, true to his nature, came expecting to find something for which to encourage these new believers. If they were anything like you or me, there were probably numerous things that could have been better, various things that could have been accurately critiqued. He wasn’t looking for those things; Barnabas was looking for whatever good things he could affirm and reinforce to encourage their continuing growth. The best way to correct the things that lack is to encourage a person who is trying to do better.

I have observed that people usually find what you are looking for. If you are looking for things to correct, you can find them. Look for things to commend; you can find plenty of those as well. People are usually better at the first of those two. “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. When you encourage others, you are doing the work of God. See Romans 15:4-8 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you learn the skill of encouraging others.

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