Encourage & Build

Encourage & Build

Have you ever heard this saying?  “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”  Such a person is an ENCOURAGER!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)

There are at least thirteen passages in the New Testament alone about encouragement.  Encouragement means inspiration, reassurance, and support.  Encouragement is a combination of all three.  It has great potential for fostering and advancing critical moments in a person’s, a church’s, and or a nation’s history. 

But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.  (Deu 3:28 NKJV)  As this verse in the Bible demonstrates, encouragement is able to strengthen a person’s soul (mind, will, and emotions) and help them to push ahead to accomplish their goal.  Thanks to encouragement and God’s grace, Joshua accomplished great things for God.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  (Acts 11:23)  This is when Barnabas visited the church at Antioch:  He supported them in their faith in God and emboldened them to continue in it.

Here is something interesting to know about Barnabas

“Barnabas” wasn’t his birth name (it was Joseph); Barnabas was his nickname meaning “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). This rather obscure Bible character was so encouraging that it became his name.” ~ Source:  https://www.leadershipresources.org/who-is-barnabas-in-the-bible-10-things-to-know.

. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ . . .  (Col 2:2)  These words of the Apostle Paul’s are inspiration to the church of his day—as well as to us.  He is nurturing our unity, our faith in and understanding of the Gospel, and our perseverance in faith.

. . . and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith . . .  (1 Thes 3:2)  The Apostle Paul is writing from Antioch about sending Timothy to confirm, reassure and to strengthen the faith of the Thessalonian church during persecution.

As these passages reveal to us, encouragement is powerful!  It has the potential to build (develop, shape, and foster) a person’s faith in God as well as a confidence in their calling to such an extent that they are enabled to accomplish mighty deeds and to produce pivotal moments in history. 

Boldly encourage someone that you care about today.  Blessings upon you!

Pressing On

Pressing On

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Phil 3:12-14 NIV)

The definition of press on is:  to continue moving forward in a forceful or steady way; to continue to do something especially in a determined way.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians (passage shown above) encourages all believers to continue moving forward in their Christian life.  He especially wants us to have a sense of determination because there is a definite prize ahead of us that we long to receive.  Our hearts must be resolved so that we will stay the course.

Our prize is eternal life with Jesus Christ in heaven.  There is no arriving at the destination without understanding that Jesus is the Way.  Eternal life is truly the gift of God which we obtain through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

And we will encounter road blocks, challenges, tribulations, and trials along the way.  At these points we need to seek the Lord, and to change whatever is necessary in our lives in order to continue on our way.

In a very real, spiritual sense, we need to pursue Christ with fortitude because in doing so we show our resolve to claim Him as our own Savior and Lord.  We surrender all and follow His example, His footsteps, and His teachings in order to attain eternal fellowship with Christ.  Glory to God!

How Do We Take Thoughts Captive?

How Do We Take Thoughts Captive?

Our thoughts are central to our lives because we act upon our thoughts.  (see Pro 23:7a; Mk 7:21)

When we consider our ways, it’s wise to turn our hearts to God’s Word.  (Ps 119:59)  God’s Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts; and it will reveal our true motives to us—something that we all need.  (Heb 4:12)

We should reject our own thoughts and carnal ways; and turn to the Lord, who will forgive us and will renew our thinking.  (Isa 55:7; 65:2)

God understands our thoughts and knows our works.  (Isa 66:18)  But God’s thoughts and God’s ways are higher than ours.  (Isa 55:8-9)  That’s why the Bible tells us that we’re being changed into His image day by day.  (2 Cor 3:18)  We need to be changed.

Here’s how to take thoughts captive [confined; caged; enslaved]:

  1. Recognizing when they are spiritually unhealthy; worthless; unpleasing to God; and not in agreement with the Word of God;
  2. Stopping them in their tracks by determining that they did not originate in our own thoughts or hearts;
  3. Rejecting them outright and robbing them of any power over us; and
  4. Replacing them with Scripture verses that the Holy Spirit brings to our minds to counteract them and to minister comfort to our hearts.

It’s important to understand this process because the Lord tells us to take our thoughts captive in 2 Corinthians 10:5:  

. . . casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . .

Our goal is to bring our thoughts into obedience to Christ, our Savior.  We willingly offer our thoughts to the Lord Jesus, who alone is able to confine them. 

As mentioned above, the types of things that we would want to take captive are those that are:

  • Spiritually unhealthy (fearful or sinful);
  • Unproductive to the Kingdom of God;
  • Unpleasing to God;
  • Worthless;
  • Originating from the evil one (disparaging of self or others; lonely; discouraged; depressed; lustful thoughts; mulling over past hurts; etc.);
  • Not in agreement with the Word of God.

We are blessed because we have the freedom and ability to choose what thoughts to entertain and what thoughts to utterly reject.  We have spiritual weapons (2 Cor 10:4) at our disposal that will assist us in the battlefield of the mind.  Several of those spiritual weapons are:  prayer; confession; praise; the Word of God; fellowship with other believers; and the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), we become engaged in the battle against pretense and the arrogant philosophy of the world. Trusting Christ and rightly dividing the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15), we take every thought captive, pull down the strongholds, and, by the grace of God, set ALL of the captives free.  Hallelujah!

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 1

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 1

People who have not been exposed to church attendance or religious teaching of any kind may not know how to answer our title question.  They may not even understand why anyone would like to go to heaven!  What is the definition of heaven

Heaven is

  • the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead;
  • a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God;
  • a place or condition of utmost happiness;
  • the abode of God, the angels, and the spirits of the righteous after death; and
  • the place or state of existence of the blessed after mortal life.

One thing mentioned more than once in these definitions is that heaven is the dwelling place of God.  Since we believers know that God is love (1 Joh 4:8), the concept of living forever with the God who IS LOVE becomes a very appealing goal for us. 

A key aspect of our life as human beings is the understanding that God created all humans in His own image.  (Gen 1:27)  Since we’ve all been created in the very likeness and reflection of God, not only is a relationship with God important to us but love, itself, is important to mankind. 

We need to recognize these two facts because every human being needs to make a decision about faith in God, and every human being wants to receive and to give love. 

In the next article, we’ll continue with this subject.

With Fear and Trembling

With Fear and Trembling

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  (Phil 2:12-13 – emphasis added)

The word fear in the above passage of Scripture means with reverence and respect.  The reference to trembling can be understood to mean with great humility and the type of weakness that causes us to rely completely and solely upon the Lord and His grace.  We should also have a huge desire to never offend God through disobedience, as well as a great awe for God’s majesty and holiness.

Now what could the author have meant by “work out your own salvation”?  This is the concept of bringing something to completion or maturity, such as when Paul describes himself as straining or “pressing on” toward the goal of being Christlike.  (Phil 3:13-14)  It’s our responsibility to cooperate with the Lord by obeying His Word and following His plan for our lives.  Part of that plan is for us to submit to our Savior by obeying His Word.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (Rom 12:1-2)

Obedience and submission to the God whom we revere and respect is only our “reasonable service” according to the passage shown above. 

We work out our salvation, then, by going to the source of our salvation—the Word of God—which is the only instrument available to us to renew our hearts and minds as we reverently seek to walk the path of ever-growing spiritual maturity.