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Be Encouraged

April 2nd, 2015

“That through endurance and the encouragement we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV.

Encouragers find themselves being encouraged.

My thoughts and comments today are, “be encouraged.”

Life can be wearing and wearying. Weariness and discouragement accumulate like emotional dust, layer upon layer until its load gradually becomes more than you can bear alone. Everyone needs encouragement in daily doses. You and I live in a world that is often discouraging, among people who are easily discouraged themselves, therefore discouraging to others. Sometimes, life might be described in these words, “They said, ‘Cheer up. Things could be worse.” And sure enough, I cheered up . . and things got worse.” Sometimes it feels like that. Both discouragement and encouragement are emotions, but so much more; those emotions generate critical assumptions about circumstances that will gradually impact your expectations, either negatively or positively. Before you get discouraged reading all this, let me share about encouragement.

David provides a Godly example of how to be encouraged in discouraging situations, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved . .” Read 1 Samuel 30:6-19 KJV. In their pain, David’s soldiers blamed him for something an enemy had done, a tragedy he could not have anticipated nor could prevent. Does that scenario sound familiar? Here’s where the narrative and outcome changes, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” When all around you is disheartening, look to the God who is for you, with you, and in you. David sought the Lord and was told to pursue the enemy, “And David recovered all.” Encouragement restores your body, soul, and spirit.

Encouragement provides spiritual intervention and reversal of everything the devil intended for your harm and loss – joy, confidence, hope, trust, peace, or positive expectations. Encouragement is a common theme and recurring accent throughout the Bible. Paul encouraged Christ-followers, “Therefore, we do not lose heart . . for our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they will produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever.” Read 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV/NLT. You can turn your disappointments into divine appointments.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Read Romans 15:4-7 NIV. Read those words again, carefully and slowly. Notice in this verse that Christ-followers are promised three things:

(1) “Hope,” which the Bible describes as an anchor of the soul, “both sure and steadfast.” Read Hebrews 7:17-19. See Romans 15:13.

(2) “Encouragement,” which results from Godly focus, stubborn trust, enriching thoughts, and edifying companions. See Hebrews 10:24-25/1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV.

And, (3) “Endurance,” which is a joyful and steadfast expectation while you wait. See Colossians 1:10-14 NIV. Looking for a way to endure is better than looking for a way to escape.

When you are hopeful, you are encouraged; when you feel encouraged, you are strengthened to endure. Notice the progression: hope provides encouragement; encouragement promotes endurance; and the source of all of these is found in, “the Scriptures.” “Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 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 2:15-17 NIV. See also 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

If you are discouraged, you’re looking in the wrong places and listening to the wrong voices; look to Jesus and be encouraged. And be an encourager; someone you know needs encouraging more than you. Jesus promised, “Give and it will be given you . . good measure, running over.” Luke 6:38. Encouragers find themselves being encouraged. If finding life hard to endure, or encouragement lacking, strengthen yourself in the enduring, encouraging truth of God’s Word. In several situations these recent days, I have felt the Lord impress upon my heart two simple words, “Be encouraged.” I share His words with you today. Whatever the situation, be encouraged.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are encouraged and become an encourager to others.

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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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Distractions

January 3rd, 2014

“I am doing a great work.” Nehemiah 6:3 NKJV.

The things that make you unique enable your success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions.”

In serving God and others, you are given something meaningful to do that is unique to yourself – your interests, experiences, natural talents, and spiritual giftedness. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another . . let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV. The things that make you unique enable your success. Your success and corresponding satisfaction result from discovering your life-calling and dedicating yourself to achieve that to the best of your ability and opportunity. Read 1 Timothy 4:14/2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV.

The obstacles to success can be many, and common among those are distractions. From those, discouragement results. Distraction creates detours and dead ends. The enemy of everything God wants to do in your life, and with your life, is the master of distraction and author of discouragement. Paul was ruthless about unprofitable distractions, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing; forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize . .” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Distractions can come in many forms – ambivalence, fear, doubts, busyness, tiredness, delays, disappointments, opposition, others’ opinions, people’s expectations, mistreatment, competing options, and/or people’s expectations. Every step in a wrong direction diminishes accomplishing your purpose and faithfulness to your calling. Jesus said, ”No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NKJV.

Nehemiah is a good example of avoiding distractions. From his zeal for God came a divine call to lead the monumental reconstruction project of Jerusalem. Read Nehemiah 2:1-18 NKJV. Because Nehemiah had a mission, vision, passion, and conviction, he succeeded where others failed. Besides the immense task, there were also enemies who opposed the rebuilding altogether. There will always be resistance – internal and/or external. After repeated attempts to dissuade Nehemiah from his work by ridicule, false accusations, threats, and even plots to harm him, his enemies finally sought to distract him – possibly their most devilish strategy.

“Our enemies . . sent to me, saying, ‘Come; let us meet together’. . but they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:2-4 NKJV. Four times Nehemiah refused their efforts to distract him. Anything other than what God called him to do was lesser, and lesser things were irrelevant to Nehemiah. Compare Matthew 4:1-11 NIV.

The conviction, “I am doing a great work,” allows for no debate. If your efforts are not eternally consequential – important to yourself, others, and God – then reassess your priorities. Is there anything distracting you from doing God’s will? “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain.” See 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you dedicate yourself to the will and purposes of God.

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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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