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Friends

October 23rd, 2015

“A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 AMP.

The wise person knows where and from whom they will receive help and healing.

My thoughts and comments today are about “friends.”

Maybe you would recognize the theme song of Cheers, a television program popular from 1982-1993. “Making your way in the world today, takes everything you’ve got; Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name.” The odd lot of likable characters found a sense of family and friendship in the iconic Boston Pub.

When life feels increasingly bewildering and unfriendly, you will seek the company of others, “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” When you need refuge while you sort out life, where do you go? Some choose a busy, noisy place to drown out their own thoughts and concerns. Others like a quiet place alone where they can reflect and consider. But all seem to appreciate the reassuring company of people who welcome them whatever the time or trouble. See Proverbs 27:17 NIV.

Luke reports a time soon after Pentecost when Peter and John were brought before the prevailing, religious authorities and threatened to cease their bold declaration of the deity and resurrection of Jesus. Read Acts 4:1-21 NKJV. This was a threat of no small concern. “When they further threatened them, they let them go . . and being let go, they went to their own companions.” Acts 4:23/31 NKJV. Their response was to seek out the company of friends.

What is your immediate response when you find yourself in unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or unsafe situations? Gordon MacDonald authored, “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion,” a book of spiritual influence in my life. He proposed that every person needs three things when confusion or conflict comes and your joy of life wanes: (1) a map marking safe places where you find out who God is, (2) a calendar reserving still times when you can hear what God says, and (3) the names of special friends who encourage you to obey what God asks. “A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 AMP.

But let me be clear, it’s not just any friends. The company with which Jesus’ followers gathered were people of like faith – friends filled with the Spirit of God (Acts 4:31), friends of one heart and soul (Acts 4:32), and friends who were selfless, even sacrificial (Acts 4:32). Similarly, en route to imprisonment at Rome, Paul was thankful for friends, “The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15 NLT.

Friends include you in their lives. Jesus elevated the stature and privilege of friendship when He said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NIV. Those kinds of friends continue to restore and strengthen my faith every day.

Today, I pray for you to have valued and reliable friends for the best and worst of times.

Christian Communications 10137
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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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Encouragers

March 9th, 2011

“They cheered me greatly . . a wonderful encouragement to me.” 1 Corinthians 16:18 TLB

“Everyone needs a friend to listen and care, and a place to be refreshed.”

My thoughts today are about “encouragers.”

Everybody needs somebody sometime. Some people seem to need somebody all the time. Most of us have times that we just need a friend to be with or talk to – a friend to listen and care, and a place to be refreshed. The Apostle Paul, prolific author and missionary, understood those times. His letters frequently name his companions, or those who were helpers in his journeys. Their names are mostly obscure, little known except to Paul and a few others at the time. But they were people that made a big difference in Paul’s life and ministry.

“I am so glad that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus have arrived for a visit . . they have cheered me greatly and have been a wonderful encouragement to me . . I hope you properly appreciate the works of such men as these.” 1 Corinthians 16:17-18 TLB. Paul was cheered and encouraged by the arrival of his friends. I am so glad I have had friends like that; I can only hope that I have been a friend like that.

No one’s life is only about good times. Sometimes, the road you journey is hard and the concerns you carry are heavy. Friends can make the worst day a better day, the unpleasant bearable and the difficult possible. If you want others to be there in your tough times, be sure that you make time for them and appreciate them in the best times, and that you are there in their tough times.

Encouragement is a common New Testament theme. At the heart of encouragement is the idea of “courage.” Everyday life takes courage, and to keep encouraged you need the company and help of others. “When the (believers in Rome) heard about us they came to meet us . . when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15 NKJV.

God Himself is the greatest of encouragers: “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and 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. For encouragement, your best place to begin is God. He is there when others cannot be; His care for you is unchanging. And who could better inspire and instill courage in you than God?

You are to be a great encourager. You can make a difference in others’ lives; others will make a difference in yours. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing . . think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV/Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT.

You can encourage yourself. More than from others, discouragement often comes from you – what you choose to think, feel, or believe. People rehearse their discouragement. That being true, you can also encourage yourself by changing what you think about, managing your feelings more positively, and being firm in faith. “David was distressed . . but encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV. If David can do that, you can do that. Be encouraged in God today!

My prayer for you today is: be encouraged in God’s goodness and share that with others.

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