Be an Encourager

Be an Encourager

That’s why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing. (1 Thes 5:11 CEV)

So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. 32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.  (Ac 15:30-32)

The Bible reminds us to encourage one another in our faith.  That also means that we should encourage each other in every area of life, since faith touches literally everything in our lives.  The Scriptures are full of encouraging words to guide our lives and to spur us on to faith and action.  Here a just a few of those passages:

  • For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. (Deu 20:4)
  • Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Ps 34:10b)
  • But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isa 40:31)
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10)
  • Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (Mt 11:28)
  • No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)
  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
  • And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

Take as many opportunities as you can to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ to cling to the Lord and to their faith in Him.  You will be blessed and encouraged as well.

Humility & Glory

Humility & Glory

The Lord has destined each one of us for great things, among which is the joy of serving the Lord and being in relationship with Him.  But sometimes, we struggle with our self-image; and we all need to know how to deal with this issue victoriously. 

Just remember this:  Thinking less of yourself is not humility!  Thinking of yourself less frequently is humility.  Believe in who God made you to be.  Be imitators of God like the beloved children that you ARE!  (Eph 5:1) 

God has put His own glory within each one of us!  (Isa 60:19-21; Rom 8:18; Col 1:27; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Pet 5:10)  He wants to display His glory through us, so that we may bring Him glory, honor, and praise.  However, we must yield to Him in order to allow Him to fulfill His good plans for us.  If we will cooperate with the Lord, and obey His Word, we’ll be changed into a brand new person.  Which makes sense, because God makes all things new.  (Rev 21:5)

The Lord wants us to be fully alive—not to be a cheap imitation of someone else.  God created each one of us to live as a unique and irreplaceable individual in His family. 

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Tim 1:6-7)

Stir up your gifts, and learn to enjoy the fact that God has created you as a matchless and dazzling individual!  Don’t be fearful because fear has bondage and torment attached to it.  (Rom 8:15)  Reject those things outright.  They do not come from God.  God has made you FREE indeed!  (Joh 8:36)  God has blessed you and poured out His supernatural favor upon you. 

You have God’s permission and encouragement to soar and to far surpass your former self for Jesus’ glory!  All glory to God most high!

The New Covenant is Better!

The New Covenant is Better!

Today we’re thinking about various way in which the New Covenant is far better than the Old Covenant.  Please read 2 Corinthians, chapter 3 in preparation (only 18 verses). 

Here are some ideas on how the New Covenant surpasses the Old: 

NEW   1.  The Holy Spirit validates God’s people. (Rom 14:18; Eph 1:6)

OLD    1.  The Holy Spirit strove with God’s people who were rebellious. (Gen 6:3)

NEW  2.  The law is written in our hearts. (Heb 10:16 NLT)

OLD   2.  The law was written on tablets of stone. (Ex 24:12; Deu 4:13)

NEW  3.  We have confidence to draw near to God. (Jas 4:8)

OLD   3.  Only the priests could draw near after performing rituals. (Ex 19:22-24)

NEW  4.  We serve a spiritual truth–salvation is real. (Joh 3:16-17; Col 2:16-17; 1 Pet 2:9)

OLD    4.  The Old Covenant priests served symbols and shadows. (Heb 10:1)

NEW   5.  Gives spiritual life. (John 1:4; 14:6; 2 Cor 3:6; 1 Joh 3:5)

OLD    5.  Revealed spiritual death because the law could only condemn. (Eccl 7:20; Ps 51:5; Isa 59:7)

NEW   6.  God’s glory lives within each of us. (Ps 3:3; Col 1:27; 1 Cor 6:19-20)

OLD    6.  God’s glory was seen for a time upon Moses’ face; it was temporary. (Ex 34:33)

NEW   7.  Gives us a living righteousness. (Rom 3:22; 2 Cor 5:21)

OLD    7.  Could not impart righteousness but could only offer forgiveness. (Num 14:19; 2 Sam 12:13; Rom 4:13)

NEW   8.  Unveils the heart. (2 Cor 3:16)

OLD    8.  Required a veil. (2 Cor 3:13, 15)

NEW   9.  Sanctifies and transforms us. (Acts 26:18; Rom 15:16; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 3:18)

OLD    9.  Could only unmask, condemn and slay people. (Gen 6:5; Eccl 7:20; Isa 59:7; 64:6)

I hope that this article has encouraged you and reminded you of how greatly we are blessed through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  

God Is In Control

God Is In Control

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.  (Pro 19:21)

This article is a meditation upon the concept that our God and Savior is in control of life’s events.  Even in those cases where something that is negative or harmful occurs, the Lord can ultimately bring glory to Himself by delivering us.  He can also cause something that was intended to harm us turn into an opportunity for us to receive a blessing!  (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1) – God is not with us in trouble merely to comfort or strengthen us, but to protect and help us.  Hallelujah!

The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.  (Pro 16:4) – The Lord has created everything for His own purposes, and He gave human beings a free will even though He knew that a percentage of us would rebel against Him and reject Him.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  (Pro 16:9) – We make our own, fleshly plans; but the Lord in His mercy and goodness directs the circumstances of our lives according to His good plan for us. 

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.  (Pro 16:33) – Even the most seemingly accidental, chance, unexpected, or unplanned events are under God’s control. Trust Him and rely upon His love for you.

But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.  (Ps 115:3) – Our God is a merciful and loving God, so He will show mercy whenever and wherever He chooses to do so.  Because He can see the end from the beginning, He knows what events need to take place in our lives in order to accomplish His good plans for us.

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand . . . (Isa 14:24) – God’s good purposes and plans for us shall stand for He will bring them to pass.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”  (Jer 32:27) – Whatever our difficulty or challenge or heartache, NOTHING is too difficult for God to turn it around.  Praise the Lord!

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  (Mt 10:29) – We know that God cares for us vastly more than the sparrows, so this verse opens our eyes to the truth that He diligently watches over us in all of the details of our lives.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  (Rom 13:1) – We must recognize that God even determines who will have authority at every level of a nation’s hierarchy.  He determines when and for how long a person will be in authority, even our employers, overseers, or business partners. 

God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God.  (Ps 62:11) – All power comes from God because it all belongs to Him.  Therefore, whatever position of power, authority or influence that you may have, be conscientious, kind, respectful and merciful to others.  You will one day give an account of yourself.

. . . not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.  (1 Pet 3:9)

We are called to bless others and to be a blessing.  Living in obedience to God’s will always causes us to inherit blessings.  Recognizing that God is not only in control of all things, but that He watches over us in order to be able to bless and help us will make it quite easy for us to want to help others.

Walking in His Footsteps, in Glory

Walking in His Footsteps, in Glory

Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make HIS FOOTSTEPS our pathway.  (Ps 85:13 – emphasis added) 

This verse has captured my heart on more than one occasion.  This Psalm is a prayer that God will restore favor to the land. 

A few verses previous to verse 13, the Bible states that God’s salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in the land. (see Ps 85:9)  The very fact that we are born again—SAVED by the grace and the plan of God—means that glory does dwell in our land! 

How?  My view is that God’s own life in us—His glory in us—IS the glory in the land.  (See Ro 8:18; 2 Co 1:20; Eph 1:6) 

By His grace we are saved.  (Eph 2:5; 2:8; 2 Tim 1:9)  According to Ephesians 1:6, there is GLORY within the grace of God.  Since His grace has been poured out upon us, and since He lives within each one of us, it is logical to come to understand that God’s glory has been placed within each believer. 

As we live our lives in obedience to God and to His Word, and as we display God’s unselfish love to all mankind, we bring Him glory, honor and praise.  We literally walk in His footsteps and in His righteousness always–living life according to His personality, His Word, and His standards.  We also follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

What an unfathomable and precious honor we have been given.  Living life in continuous praise and thanksgiving to God.  Let each one of us shine brightly for Jesus, O glorious ones!

On the Way to Glory

On the Way to Glory

“But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these I delight,” says the Lord.  (Jer 9:24)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  (Ro 8:18)

There is only one thing in which all believers are permitted to glory.  It is the fact that we understand and know the God of our salvation!  What a privilege that we have been given. 

Paul refers to his present sufferings in Romans 8 and states that they fade into insignificance when compared to the glory that will be revealed in him.  (If you would like to remind yourself of some of his sufferings, read 2 Corinthians 11:22-33.)   

Nevertheless, in spite of all of his trials, Paul continued to serve His Savior.  He did not regret his conversion to Christianity; rather, he seemed to revel in suffering, as this next passage will demonstrate. 

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor 12:7-10 – emphasis added)

Paul is clearly talking about our need to depend upon and rely upon God’s grace and strength in order to carry us through every circumstance in our lives.  God upholds and sustains our lives.  (Ps 3:5; 54:4; Isa 46:3b-4) Without Him, our lives would have no meaning or sustenance.  It’s clear from the next excerpt from the book of Philippians that Paul had set his priorities straight, and that he valued knowing Christ above all else.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  (Phil 3:8-11 – emphasis added) 

It appears to be the case that on our way to glory, we will experience sufferings or trials of various kinds.  We can be reassured by Paul’s experiences, and know that God will be with us through everything, and He will amply supply the grace that we need to persevere. One day, we will receive the glory that has been promised.  In the meantime, let’s highly value and appreciate the fact that Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer, and Lord!

God’s Glory Within Us

God’s Glory Within Us

“For I,” says the Lord, “will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”  (Zech 2:5)

For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”  (Zech 2:8)

God the Father sent Jesus, our Savior, to earth to become the Savior of the world.  In accomplishing that assignment, Jesus brought glory to His Father and to Himself.  That’s why Zechariah 2:8 says, He sent Me after glory

Further on in the same verse, it states:  for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.  I used to think only believers were the apple of His eye, but now I believe that this expression applies to all of mankind.  Since God created man for Himself, all of mankind is the apple of His eye.

God says that HE is the glory within us in Zechariah 2:5.  What an awesome and beautiful idea!  We have glory within us . . .

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  (Col 1:27 – emphasis added)

When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.  (2 Th 1:10 – emphasis added)

Christ in us—His life in us and His love operating through us—that is our true hope of glory.  What does glory mean?   The definition of glory is: 

  • High renown or honor won by notable achievements
  • Magnificence; great beauty

Any notable achievements or beauty that other people find in us believers is due to God’s presence within each one of us, and His grace upon us. 

Here is another definition of glory:

“. . . glory is spoken of as attaching to God’s kingly rule ( Psalm 145:11-12 ) and his presence ( Psalm 96:6 ), and as being his clothing ( Job 40:10 ; Psalm 93:1 ; 104:1 ) and above the heavens ( Psalm 8:1 ; 113:4 ; 148:13 ).”   Source: Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/glory.

We have the privilege of carrying the presence of God with us and in us.  Because we do, we carry God’s glory.  Furthermore, our entire purpose in life is to serve God and to bring Him glory.  Let’s remember to freely share God’s love and promises with everyone.  In so doing, we bring Him glory and allow others to glimpse glory within us.

Shine for Jesus today!