Five Ways to Improve Ourselves at Encouraging One Another, Building Each Other Up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11Amplified Bible

For God has not destined us to [incur His] wrath [that is, He did not select us to condemn us], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died [willingly] for us, so that whether we are awake (alive) or asleep (dead) [at Christ’s appearing], we will live together with Him [sharing eternal life]. 11 Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

I can remember the moments like they were yesterday ….

“Mom, I can’t do this!” I cried.

“Yes, you can my son.

I know it’s going to be hard for you but stick with it.

The payout will be worth the effort.”

It wasn’t the news I wanted to hear, but I followed her advice and didn’t quit.

At 12 years old, I was hired for my first job.

I was the newspaper boy for more than an entire street.

Every day after school, I had to come home, put my school stuff down, grab my over-sized newspaper bag from where it was hung up and go to the bottom of my yard and wait for the newspaper delivery guy to bring me my daily supply.

I then had to cut the wire which held them together, count them out to be sure I had them all, then load any addons into the middle of the days paper and finally load them into my delivery bag – then start walking, riding my bike to my route.

Every single day – rain storms or sunshine or snow or sleet or raging heat – the paper had to be delivered – politely, with a smile, on time, to the right house.

There were more days than I could count where my protest was the rage of the house – it literally woke people up early in the morning from their sound sleep.

How many of those bad weather days, especially on Sundays when the paper was the heaviest with all of its additional sections and all its advertisements.

Many was the day when I feigned sickness to try and get out of it for one day.

Despite my array and diversity of protests, my mom refused to let me quit.

She encouraged me to press on and to push through and keep working hard.

At the end of it all six years later, I learned a whole lot about getting the job done – no matter what the day or evening or weather brought – perseverance!

Those days when I had to balance my job and my schoolwork helped form me into who I am today and taught me a very valuable lesson about perseverance and payout as my own savings account grew to quite the tidy sum afterwards.

The catalyst?

My mother’s daily encouragement.

Sometimes, my mother’s several times a day, daily encouragement.

God rest my Mother’s soul ….

Throughout Scripture, God’s word heavily encourages us to not be discouraged, inspires us continuously to not grow weary, and to not stop meeting together.

From Genesis through Revelation, we are instructed to encourage one another. 

Jesus told his followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Scripture clearly tells us that believers will endure hardship, but Jesus and the Biblical writers also gives an encouragement that we can overcome the world.

Without encouragement, we lose hope in the midst of troubles and afflictions.

Life can be difficult, full of persecution and hatred.  

At times, recognizing that there is meaning in the seemingly inconsequential things we do seems next to impossible.

We may want to give up.

Yet, He who is faithful calls us to be faithful and gives us the power to do so.

1 Thessalonians 5:11Amplified Bible

11 Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.

Christian encouragement is a command, but one we find awkward to employ in everyday life.

It does not have to be uncomfortable, though.

Like any other skill, we get better at it with practice.

But – we do have to practice it – at every available opportunity.

With that in mind,

here are five suggestions to help you grow in your ability to encourage others.

1. Turn to the Word of Go for the Children of God

Not everyone is naturally comfortable crafting the perfect words for a given situation.

In practicing encouragement, I have found that the fewer words I use of my own, the better.

This realization has relieved me to encourage all the more, and with greater truthfulness.

I don’t need to fumble around my words to encourage; I need God’s Word.

Let the Scriptures be your starting point for encouraging others.

Share with fellow believers where you see the Spirit working in and through them.

Point out the fruit of the Spirit you see growing in them (Galatians 5:22-23).

Regularly affirm them in their spiritual gifting and the faithful use of those gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12).

Our celebrating of someone’s effort at bearing spiritual fruit and gifting is an excellent place to start on the path towards true Christian encouragement.

2. Be Specific

Our encouragement is most meaningful when we take enough interest in others and are specific with our encouragement.

Be observant of those in your believing community.

Who is quick to volunteer and serve others?

Who models self-control in their words and actions?

Who exhibits patience with those who talk perhaps more than they should?

Who exhibits perseverance in those situations and tasks which require long term commitment and planning and rigorously careful attention to detail.

Based on what you observe, offer concrete examples of how you have seen this person live out their faith.

It’s deeply encouraging for someone to hear someone speak these words to you,

“I needed to tell you I saw God’s grace at work when you did this or said that.”

Specific examples in specific situations bless the hearer and show that you have taken genuine interest in them.

The person’s age is not a deciding factor here – everyone needs to hear those words which inspire them on to better and greater things – like self-esteem!

3. Be Intentional

Give thought to who could use encouragement.

When I was Pastoring my small church, I and my ministry team deliberately set aside some time during some of our team meetings to encourage one another.

We choose an individual in advance to focus on for each meeting, then took intentional time to tell them specifically how we saw them being used by God.

Their smiles were deeply gratifying to see, their expressions of gratitude -were invariably warming to my Pastor’s heart and to the small group of attendees.

It deepened us as individuals and fostered a necessary bond as a community.

Whether we work for a church or not, we are all doing the work of ministry, and because it is difficult work, we all need encouragement.

The best way to be intentional is to think ahead and praise someone based on where you see faithfulness and fruit of the Spirit in a brother or sister.

That is intentionality in encouragement, and it draws us away from the depths.

4. Be Selfless

Have you ever held back from encouraging someone because you were afraid you might feed their pride?

Have you ever withheld encouragement because you viewed someone as a rival in your work environment or your circle of friends?

We all have, but Christian encouragement and flattery sit at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Don’t let fear of being seen as a flatterer cause you to curtail your genuine words of encouragement.

Don’t let your own hiccups and hang-ups inhibit your praise of others.

The one who encourages practices selflessness, taking the words of Proverbs 12:18 to heart: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

We have a choice to be selfish or selfless in our encouragement.

We can either harm by the selfishness of our silence or diminished praise, or we can heal by the selflessness of our fruitful words driven by the Holy Scriptures.

5. Be Bold and Courageous

Please do not just encourage for godly things already done but encourage also the pursuit of godly things not being done, as well.

We often need godly courage in order to give someone else godly courage.

Remember the Prophet Nathan as he dared enter into David’s throne room to confront him about his adulterous actions with Bathsheba, his criminal actions with Uriah, the Hittite – Bathsheba’s husband – conspiring to get him killed?

If a friend is in grievous sin – gambling, pornography, adultery, cheating, drugs and alcohol to abuse and even participation in criminal activities, find words to encourage them toward desiring Christlikeness, instead of high-risk behaviors.

If a friend is engaging in gossip, find words to encourage them toward Christ-honoring speech.

Be a gracious friend rather than a legalist focusing on ‘necessary’ outcomes.

The more you can try to identify with your friend’s battle, the more loving your encouragement will be – the even more likely you friend finds God (Psalm 51).

Use Christian boldness and courage to confront sin with kindness, gentleness.

I believe encouragement should take its place alongside any list of spiritual disciplines.

I have personally found few exercises to be more challenging and affirming to my walk with Christ and to my ability to befriend my own brothers and sisters.

When we encourage someone, we have the opportunity to speak healing truth into their life.

We do this by grace through a heart changed by Christ and words drawn from Scripture.

In this Christlike way, may we strive to excel in edifying, building up the church in God’s Neighborhood – bringing people together in God (1 Corinthians 14:12).

In the early church, a man named Joseph was given the nickname, Barnabas.

This name literally means, son of encouragement.

Through this man’s steadfast encouragement, the zealous Saul who became the apostle Paul was gradually accepted by the church in Jerusalem and through the encouragement of Barnabas, Mark was given his second chance after a failure.

Who doesn’t need a second chance?

Encouragement gives hope when we want to give up and burnout.

Encouragement allows us to not be overwhelmed by the pains of life.

Encouragement is necessary in our walk of faith.

Encouragement makes it easier for believers to love as Jesus loves.

Encouragement makes it easier to put others before ourselves.

Encouragement breeds patience and kindness and perseverance.

So, encourage one another, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, remind one other of the truth of God’s love.

Encouragement allows us to more fully experience God’s life more abundantly.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Affirm …

We believe and know

that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

We believe that he is the Christ,

the Son of  God,

who was to come into the world.

We believe that he is in the Father

and the Father is in him.

We believe that Jesus is the Christ,

the Son of God,

and that by believing

we have life in his name.  Amen.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you have destined us for salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

You created the earth
and entrusted it into our hands.
You called a people to be your own,
and when they were cruelly oppressed
you raised up your prophet, Deborah,
and spoke through her of the day of deliverance.

You have spoken to us through your Son, Jesus,
teaching us to look to you and trust in your kindness,
and to be faithful stewards of your gifts.
He was scorned and mocked
and died for us but was raised by you.
You have promised a day of judgment and deliverance,
when Christ will come
as unexpectedly as a thief in the night,
to reveal the children of light
and gather all who have been trustworthy
with what you have given
into his kingdom of joy.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Encouraging One Another in the Church Family. Colossians 3:16-17

Colossians 3:16-17Amplified Bible

16 Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In Colossians 3:16, Paul writes this:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.”

Now, here’s the most interesting thing: this passage from Colossians 3 is about our encouraging and admonishing one another but the source and foundation of our encouraging one another is to ensure we are each worshipping together.

The best way in which we can encourage one another in life is to make sure that we all edify each other, we all build each other up in the faith, we grow stronger in God’s family, we grow stronger together as a people of praise and worship.

And if we get our praise and worship right and become strong as a spiritual family, that will then spill over into how we live our lives throughout the week,

and we will each be taking God with us in our hearts into the everyday lives of all those others in God’s own Neighborhood which we live and work and play.

And that is, as Paul suggests, is perhaps the greatest encouragement of all.

If we have found our happiness, our contentment, our fulfilment, in the worship of God in the context of a loving and supportive spiritual family, then we will know God’s encouragements and presence in every aspect of our lives.

The praise and worship of God within the context of a Christian church family is foundational to knowing, living out, His happiness and fulfilment in our lives.

And in this passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, especially verses 16 and 17, we see firstly how the church family gathers together for praise and worship and then secondly, how that extends, pours itself out into every aspect of life.

So, as we think about this idea, let’s start by thinking what we actually mean by the idea of ‘praise and worship’.

And there’s three things I want to say about this.

1. Worship engages us with the Word of God in the Bible

Colossians 3:16, Paul writes this: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

This is referring to the teaching and life of our Savior Jesus, of course, that we find in the four Gospels.

But it’s also true to say that literally the whole Bible points readers to Jesus and so there’s a very real, deep sense in which the whole Bible is the word of Christ.

And Paul uses this interesting word, ‘dwell…’: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” and that implies a deep rootedness in our lives.

As a Pastor can visit you in your home and it is always nice to do that, but they do not ‘dwell’ in your home; They ‘dwell’ in their own homes.

My home, where I ‘dwell’, is where I go to relax and get some rest, the place where I can chill out with my family and recuperate after a tough day at work.

We see this word ‘dwell’ in another important verse, in John’s Gospel where he wrote that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. (John 1:14)

God became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, and he dwelt among us, he lived among us, and as the people were moved to, they came to him for rest and recuperation, encouragement and challenge and healing and experience God.

And there’s something important about the idea of God’s word dwelling in us.

Because in all the storms and chaos and confusions of life, we can return to God’s word every single day, find our rest, Shalom and relaxation there and recuperate with God as he speaks to us through the Bible and also be challenged and healed as we grapple with the harsh truths found deep in God’s word to us.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

There is a richness in God’s word that we won’t find anywhere else.

There is a fullness and a completeness to God’s word: we can turn to the Bible in any season of our life, no matter what we are going through, no matter how we are feeling – and we will each receive the richness of God’s presence in our life.

But there’s just one more interesting point to note from this phrase: “Let the word of God dwell in you richly…”

In the original Greek, the word ‘you’ is in the plural, not the singular.

So what Paul is saying is this: that it’s not just us as individuals that need to dwell in the Word, soak ourselves in the Scriptures.

But this is a corporate activity for us to focus on as a church family together.

As the body of Christ, we, together, are to ‘dwell richly in the word of God…’

Together, we are to read and study the Bible, be shaped by the Bible, and allow the Bible to transform how we are as a church and how we develop our mission, ministry and gather together regularly for praise and worship of God together.

Letting the word of God dwell richly is very much a covenanted community act, not something that we just do exclusively as individuals.

So, in the context of this passage from Colossians 3, then, we are to encourage one another – as the Body of Christ, the family of God – to study the word of God together, and be shaped by it as a family as we come to worship together.

So what does that look like in practice?

Well that leads on to the next point, which is this:

2. Our praise and worship engages both the mind and the emotions

In verse 16, Paul says this: 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”

As we come to praise and worship, we want to be engaged together in both our mind and our emotions.

Firstly, our minds: “Teach and admonish one another in all wisdom”.

In Church, the idea of a sermon may seem, to people, to be outdated: there are few places in society today where someone talks to a group of people for 20 minutes in an uninterrupted way in order to work through the text of a book!

But sermons are still important in all religious settings, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or whatever, because it is through the sermon that we engage together as a faith community to encourage through the sacred texts.

And the church, this church family, is a learning community.

All of us are learning together.

Just because I might have an education in Theology or Ministry, a clergy collar on, does not necessarily mean I somehow know God any better than you do.

We are all on a uniquely God designed, God planned, journey into a far deeper relationship with our God. And I too need to learn with you and from you what that looks like and hopefully I can encourage all of you in some small way too.

So, we each still need to gather together, we each need to explore together the teachings of the Christian faith so we can find our way on our spiritual journey.

But worship of God is not all about the mind: it should engage the emotions too.

As Paul says in Colossians 3:16

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”

Our praise and worship of God comes from our hearts, our emotional centre, as we each reflect on what God has done for us, what Jesus has done for us and the forgiveness, new life that we have received through Jesus’ death on the cross.

As we come together to worship, we reflect on God’s amazing love for us and we are each inspired, moved in our hearts to sing, to praise, to receive Communion together, have our hearts warmed as we meet together in the presence of God.

The Psalms, the old and new hymns, the songs, the Communion, should not just be ritualistic acts we go through. Instead, as Paul says here, we worship “with gratitude in our hearts” for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

And as he also says in this verse, our worship is “to God”.

We aren’t singing for one another, or to just do something pleasing amongst ourselves: God is our audience when we sing, when we worship, when we receive Communion, and God is ‘pleased’ with our worship… (Psalm 19:14)

It does not matter if we have a good singing voice or a bad singing voice.

It doesn’t matter if we feel worthy or unworthy when we receive Communion.

It doesn’t matter what clothes we wear to church.

It doesn’t matter what people may think about us.

We only have an audience of ONE when we praise and worship – and that one is God, the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

And hopefully and prayerfully God is always ‘pleased’ with our worship…

So firstly, worship of God engages with the word of God, the Bible.

Secondly, worship of God engages both the mind and the emotions.

3. Our worship impacts on how we live throughout the week

In verse 17, Paul writes this:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Praise and Worship is not something that we do just one day a week, on a Sunday, or on those occasions throughout the week when we come to church.

Our whole life, every aspect of our life, should be an act of worship. We are to honor God with the way we live and all our behavior’s, all our relationships, all our responses should aim to be an act of worship to God.

When we are at work, we offer our work as an act of worship to God.

When we are cooking dinner, we offer our cooking as an act of worship to God.

When we are looking after the kids, when we are looking after our loved ones as Care Givers, we offer encouragement, love and care as an act of worship to God.

Everything we do is an act of praise and worship to God.

Of course, we will fail, and fail often, because we are fallible and weak. But it should be our very highest aspiration to honor God in every part of our life.

And what we do when we come to church, to meet together in worship, should energize us and orient our thinking towards God so that when we leave there after an act of worship, our minds and our hearts are focused exclusively on our God, and we seek to reflect that in how we are in the world outside those walls.

But it’s not ever going to be easy to do that, of course, and we desperately need the encouragement of one another to worship God in our own churches and the steadfast encouragement of one another to live for God throughout the week.

And that’s why I believe that the Apostle Paul here puts this teaching into the context of encouraging one another.

We simply cannot live out the Christian life on our own.

We absolutely and desperately need the encouragement of one another.

We each absolutely and desperately need the steadfast and immovable encouragement of one another so that we can deepen our walk with God.

So, this passage from Colossians 3:16 and 17 is a really important one for us to read and study and pray over and desperately hold onto because it stresses our dependence on Jesus, on one another, and our need to encourage one another.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Let’s do all we can to encourage one another in the faith.

How do we do that?

Firstly, by encouraging one another to come to worship and while there, to engage with God through his word to us in the Bible and to engage with God through our emotions in the liturgical acts undertaken within its sanctuary.

Then to encourage one another to take God with us when we leave our worship services and to do all we can to live our lives as acts of worship, pleasing to God.

We are the Body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in God’s Neighborhood.

We are the Church living and moving and ministering in God’s Neighborhood.

We walk by faith not by sight through God’s backyards and His Neighborhood.

The Christian faith is a community of faith weaving in and out of His Alleys.

The Christian faith is a community of faith weaving in and out of His Streets.

It is the community God has given to you and me for this season in our lives.

Let’s be sure to encourage one another as we walk together with God and, with gratitude in our hearts, thank him mightily for all that he has given us through the sacrificial life and death of his Son, our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God of all wisdom and enlightenment, help me understand your word. Give me insight into the meaning of your commandments and how I should follow them. As I meditate on your wonderful miracles, may I be encouraged and empowered. As I study how you have fought our battles from the stories in the Bible, may I truly be strengthened. Help me know how you want me to put your word into practice. Assist me to know you more fully through your word and be pleasing to you. Amen.

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Let The Words of Christ Richly Dwell, Deep within our Soul! Colossians 3:16

Colossians 3:16Amplified Bible

16 Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Something spectacular happens when the saints gather to encourage, sing songs and strengthen one another in the Word of God.

This is how we are equipped to live, love, move and minister in the world; shining the maximum measure of God’s message to all we encounter, by the recollection, refreshment the Holy Spirit brings when believers are together. 

This is what our focus should be. 

First, we are to be immersed in the Word of God. Paul said, ‘to let the word of Christ dwell richly.’

We should let it saturate us until it overflows, and we are able to teach it with all wisdom. 

This is exactly what Paul instructed Timothy, 

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15 AMP). 

If you dwell richly in the Scriptures, then that is exactly what will richness and prosperity will be revealed through your life, and by the measure of richness it receives it will be measurably, exponentially transformed by the living Word.

Amazingly, as we each progress in this spiritual discipline then the next step happens involuntary. 

Worship—singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as well as gratitude and thankfulness overflows from the heart. 

Without fail, as I dig into the Scriptures praying, researching, studying those commentaries to bring you these devotional messages, each morning my heart was made full, and my spirit was “quickened”, and worship naturally flowed.

Sometimes it came in the form of solemn hymns or upbeat music or praying, many times it was a smile of gratitude to God for the daily truth I learned, but whatever the form, it came from a heart truly responding to Word of Christ. 

The Word of Christ

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30).

The Lord Jesus was meek and lowly, full of compassion and great mercy – and the gracious words that fell from His lips were life and health and healing.

We are exhorted to let His Word dwell in us richly, both His spoken and written Word, for they produce in us an abundance of life and the spirit of true wisdom.

The Holy Spirit has made His dwelling place in our hearts, and He teaches us, He jars our memories, leads us in all truth:

“You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true, it is not a lie.”

What an amazing blessing to have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, teaching us, interceding for us, leading us.

And He has taught us to abide in Christ, to remain in fellowship with Christ, to live as Christ would have us live, in constant union with Him.

We should meditate and drink deeply on the Word of Christ, for His words bring light and joy to the spirit, indescribable, undeniable richness of life to our souls.

We should take the richness of His speech and the true jewels which encrust the glorious messages of salvation and shower them down in blessed teachings and wise counsel over the heads of those that are His kingdom of priests, His royal nation, a people set apart for the Lord to serve Him and to worship Him in time and through eternity.  

Our Lord and Savior Jesus rejoices over His children with singing, proclaiming His unconditional love towards us while pouring out His eternal heavenly grace over all that believe on His name.

Should we not let His Word dwell in us richly in humble thanksgiving and holy and humbled reverence as we blend our voices with heavenly choirs of angels?

Should we not sing psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs with eternal gratitude in our enriched, inspired hearts to our great and gracious God?

Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God; He is God revealed (Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:3).

This is why we are covenanted, instructed to let the Word of Christ dwell richly because in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (vs 2:3). 

Today, I join with the Apostle Paul in studying Scriptures, praying this for you; singing hymns from deep within my deeply enriched and deeply inspired soul,

I ask, “God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (vs 1:9b). 

May you know Savior Christ, letting His truth dwell in you.

May you overflow into worship, gratitude from hearts filled of Jesus Christ.

To Him be all glory and might and majesty and dominion and praise and power for ever and ever! Amen.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us now Pray,

God of truth, sometimes I not sure if I’m actually hearing your voice, or if it’s just my own wandering thoughts or even another spirit. Sharpen my spiritual hearing, Lord, so I can recognize your words when you are speaking to me. Help me know it’s really all about you, with no doubt or second-guessing. When I’m asking for your guidance in important decisions, give me your peace that surpasses understanding with your answer. Help me remember that your words to me will never go against your written message in the Bible. Give me a clear mind and push out all my confusion. Amen!

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Who Embraces a God Like our God of Forgiveness and Mercy? Micah 7:18-20

Micah 7:18-20Amplified Bible

18 
Who is a God like You, who forgives wickedness
And passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He [constantly] delights in mercy and lovingkindness.
19 
He shall again have compassion on us;
He will subdue and tread underfoot our wickedness [destroying sin’s power].
Yes, You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
20 
You shall give truth to Jacob
And lovingkindness and mercy to Abraham,
As You have sworn to our forefathers
From the days of old.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Sometimes words are just not enough. God’s creation – it leaves you speechless.

Your spouse’s strength of character – it bears no comparison.

Your child’s imagination, laughter, growth, maturity – it tests your vocabu­lary.

Sometimes words can’t ever say enough.

The prophet Micah understood that concept as well.

His prophecy alternates between visions of doom and hope.

In chapter 7 he starts with a very bleak picture: “What misery is mine! … The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains” (vv. 1, 2).

The prophet sees both Israel and Judah in need of ref­ormation.

Both kingdoms were living in affluence, which produced self­ish materialism.

Morals floundered, and corruption abounded.

Exile was awaiting.

Yet Micah does not despair but can end his prophecy with such great hope.

He sees that God will graciously forgive his people and restore her fortunes, and this puts Micah over the moon – All he can really say is, “Who is a God like you?”

What a beautiful question!

This exclamation is a play on the meaning of Micah’s own name: “Who is like Yahweh?”

Micah’s question is one that other nations – Egyptians, Babylon­ians, Assyrians –also asked as a way of praising their gods.

Yet Micah by no means implies that there are other gods.

The one and only God is 100% incomparable because of his forgiving character!

“Who is a God like you, who par­dons sin?”

Another way of reading this is, “Who is a God like you, who carries away sin?”

We come across that phrase in Leviticus 16, concerning the Day of Atonement.

Aaron the high priest was to lay his hands on the head of the live goat, confess all the iniquities of Is­rael over it, thereby transfer those iniquities to the goat.

Leviticus 16:22 says, “The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place.” 

Through the high priest the Lord transferred the burden of Israel’s guilt to another, and that substitute carried away all Israel’s sin and guilt.

And that’s what Micah is getting at.

God “pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance.”

In mercy Yahweh pre­served for himself a remnant, and he forgives that remnant!

This applies to us today as the church of Christ.

When you consider forgiving the people who have hurt you, you must always consider how much Jesus has forgiven you!

You don’t deserve His love and can never earn it.

He forgave you because He is a merciful, gracious God.

Because you have already been forgiven of ALL your sins and set free, you must forgive others by becoming so transparent that His mercy and grace will radiate through every aspect of your life.

You are never to be a giver of condemnation but always a giver of mercy.

Mercy is distinctly different from forgiveness because God is merciful to us even when you don’t sin, just as you can be merciful to those who have never done anything against you.

God’s mercy doesn’t just forgive your failures and faults but reaches deep into all your weakness and need.

His attitude toward you is merciful.

We are his possession by grace.

We don’t deserve forgiveness and salvation.

But it has been promised to God’s family, God’s inheritance, in Christ!

And it is given only to those who, like Micah, are deeply sorrowful over their sins, and cry out for forgiveness.

Micah’s song of praise continues: “You do not stay angry forever.” 

The remnant would experience the judg­ment and punishment of the Lord.

But marvel upon marvel, the Lord does not hold onto his anger.

So, the people of God could look away from their time of judgment and toward the Lord.

They could rejoice that this was just tempor­ary. “You do not stay angry forever, but you delight to show mercy.”

This is all very remarkable.

Micah is saying that the Lord acts this way

– God carries away our sins,

– God forgives our rebellion, shows his mercy

be­cause that’s just who he is.

It kind of leaves us scratching our heads and asking, “Why is he that way?”

The only answer we get is, “It is my delight to do it this way!” 

Our God, by his very nature, is so very ready to forgive sinners.

That leaves us dumbstruck at the forgiving character of our God.

We see God’s forgiving charac­ter especially in his Son.

The words Micah uses in verse 18 are also used for the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Verses 10-12,

Yet it was the Lord’s will (pleasure!) to crush him and cause him to suffer … Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, be­cause he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgres­sors. For he bore (carried away) the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The LORD God does not wink at sin.

He offered the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.

He came to take our sin outside the city, to the cross of Golgotha.

He shared in our sins.

That is just who Christ is.

It moves us to bow our heads, bend our spirits to say, “Who is a God like you?”

Do you see his incredible mercy for sinners?

Mercy is also related to grace.

Grace is what saves you – mercy is what sustains you.

Mercy eliminates the pain; grace cures the disease.

Mercy offers relief from punishment; grace offers pardon from the crime.

Mercy is a word you will hear used in the legal system.

After the conviction has been made, the jury has unanimously declared the persons guilt, the sentence is about to be handed down, MERCY is begged for.

The Hebrew word for mercy is “chesed”

which means to get inside someone’s skin,

to look at where they view life and feel what they are experiencing; to move in and act on behalf of the one whose hurting.

That is exactly what Jesus did when He chose to leave the indescribable comfort and glory of Heaven to become one of us.

Mercy has also been defined as the giving of compassionate treatment, having the disposition to be kind and forgiving when kindness and forgiveness are not your first thoughts, would not define or characterize any of your first actions.

As God gives you a fresh start each new day, so should you reach beyond the pain and give to those who have hurt you a fresh start through your forgiveness.

Mercy is forgiveness soaked in the life blood of Jesus, soaked in the love of God.

Every day, when you forgive, the anger, bitterness, resentment and pain that you feel from the wrong suffered at the hands of another is weakened.

It’s only through the giving of mercy that our emotional wounds will be healed.

If you do not show mercy and forgive the unforgivable you may never find total and complete healing for your spirit, mind and body.

Right in this exact moment, do you see your God is ever ready to give mercy?

Right in this exact moment, do you see that your God is ever ready to forgive?

Only when you fully see all these can you genuinely embrace a holy fear of our awesome God, only then can you wor­ship him truly, in utter speechlessness.

This is the God whom we adore.

Cherish and embrace his mercy for repentant sinners!

Cherish and embrace his forgiveness for repentant sinners!

Cherish God as God cherishes you!

Embrace God as God embraces you!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Loving Heavenly Father, Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy forgiveness and mercy which you have shown. You have loved me with immeasurable love. You are love. I pray that I will be strengthened in my inner being – in my soul – with the love that is wider than I can understand, deeper than I am able to imagine, and greater than I could ever know. As You encourage and embolden my life, may I more fully know the mystery of the Gospel as revealed through my life. In the love of Christ, I pray. Amen.

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Embracing Forgiveness. Choosing only to Embrace the Grace, the Embrace of ABBA, our Father God. Matthew 6:14-15

Matthew 6:14-15Amplified Bible

14 For if you forgive [a]others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

I believe most people have arrived at the conclusion that it is utterly impossible as human beings to avoid somehow and, in some way, offending others by our words, or lack of words and being offended by others, when we are still alive.

And, while we do not have the ability to control how others feel or act when they somehow feel offended by us, we do very much have free will over our own lives to decide how we will react or will not react when allegedly offended by others.

Our making the choice – Forgiving others wholeheartedly is the definite secret of a happy and prolonged relationship in all facets of life: in our family, in our work, at school, in Church, community, neighborhoods, mission and ministry.

It is definitely not easy to forgive others, but it’s what Jesus commands us to do.

Even if the other person is not really sorry, even if we are not very sorry about our actions, we still have to forgive sincerely in order to fulfil the will of God.

Matthew 6:14-15Easy-to-Read Version

14 Yes, if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongs. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrongs you do.

Jesus’ teaching here at the end of the Lord’s Prayer might be confusing.

It almost sounds as if we have to earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving others.

So, we definitely need heavy dose of a different kind of thought process here.

Ephesians 4:30-32Amplified Bible

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you.

I envision about any kitchen sponge that has not been used for a long time.

When you put it under the tap, at first the water runs right over the sponge.

But if you set that old sponge in a bucket of ­water for a few minutes, it will gradually and inevitably transform, will soften and becomes usable again.

Our own hearts and our souls and our spirits can be, can become like that too.

When we hold onto new resentments and old bitterness’s, nursing our anger, hugging old grudges close to our chests, hearts can become as hard as a rock, and God’s grace for us will be like water running over a rock – it won’t soak in.

At this point – someone needs to get on our case – come into our throne rooms and disrupt our lives, disrupt our dysfunctional patterns of behaving, thinking.

We are not hiding anything from God – but we are trying to – and this will most definitely get big time God’s attention – God will send someone – guaranteed!

That moment of confrontation will inevitably occur – someone will arrive and will get up inside our personal space – then we will have to make some serious choices – push that other person back out the door they entered or “get God!”

Reckon ourselves with our actions – then reckon, reason things out with God:

Psalm 51:1-12English Standard Version

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

But when we are “pried” open by our remembrance of God’s forgiveness of us, we are “exposed” to forgiving others, we become soft like a moistened sponge.

God, our Father’s boundless and bottomless grace soaks in and saturates the entirety of our hearts, and we become abundantly available to share his grace.

Just as a wet sponge moistens other things when it touches them, we can share grace, the blood of Christ helping to wipe others’ dirt away as we forgive others.

Dying to our accumulated resentment, anger, and bitterness softens our hearts to receive God’s all-encompassing amazing grace, to share it freely with others.

Psalm 103:11-13English Standard Version

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so, the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Why should any of this matter – of what relevance – of what significance to me?

The question of genuine forgiveness is one of eternal importance and relevance.

And why is it, you may ask, so crucial that Christians forgive?

For starters, Jesus’ statement in today’s text is quite a compelling reason, for “if you do not forgive others…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Suffice it to say then, we had better make sure we are forgiving “our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Here’s the bottom line: forgiveness is such a central element to Christianity that it is an indicator of salvation!

Not that we are saved by any works of our own, such as forgiving others, but that when we are reconciled to God through the lifeblood of our Savior Jesus Christ, our new life will be eternally marked by grace giving and forgiveness.

Remember, our unrighteousness was exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), our wrong for His 100% right, our injustice for His justice.

God meets our enfeebled efforts at rebellion and pride with His matchless grace in and through the person and work of our only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Those to whom grace is extended should also extend grace, and those to whom forgiveness is extended should also extend forgiveness.

Forgive as you have been forgiven.

Not because it’s easy, but because it’s at the very exact core of who you are in Christ.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Dear Lord, search my heart. Reveal to me any remaining burs of hurt where I have attempted to forgive apart from You. I pray You would cover these hurts in Your healing grace, and through Your strength, empower me to forgive others as wholly and completely and utterly as You first forgave me. In Savior Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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In God we will Trust though the earth gives way beneath our feet, the winds blow and the houses crumble into the heart of the sea, we will still not fear!

The earth was once an empty place!

Chaos was everywhere or as one translation puts it; the earth was a total wasteland. It was filled with darkness.

And in the darkness, the Spirit of God moved to prepare for God’s creative work.

The Lord is a Creator!

God is a God of order!

For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4.

God took a mess of chaos and made it orderly.

From ugliness emerged beauty.

Chaos is replaced by order.

Purpose takes the place of emptiness.

God transformed darkness into light.

Are things falling apart around you?

Life rarely turns out the way we’ve planned.

We all have those times when life seems to take an unexpected turn and we wonder what to do.

Perhaps there is a problem in your relationships?

Are you facing difficulties at work or is it unemployment?

Do you have a health issue?

Are you experiencing a crisis in your ministry, business, or family?

Has your house quite literally collapsed around you?

Has your house quite literally fallen into the sea?

There’s no cause for alarm.

You’re not alone!

The Holy Spirit is present with you.

Your life may seem to be without purpose, but God’s there to turn it around.

He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

So be conscious of His presence everyday!

The presence of God gives us inward peace and joy even though our external circumstances may be turbulent.

Be still and place your hope in Him.

Psalm 46:1-3Amplified Bible

God the Refuge of His People.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song.

46 God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas,

Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The ancient cities were often protected by large surrounding walls and imposing gates.

Inside the walls was peace and a safe atmosphere where commerce could thrive.

God is our fortress!

The Lord is our refuge.

He is the constant and consistent place of refuge and safety in the times of trouble.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

There is not a promise in the Bible that says we’ll be free from troubles.

Yet those whose confidence is in the Lord have nothing to be afraid of.

Fear is a faith killer!

When a believer is afraid, it means he does not trust God enough to bring him or her out of trouble.

To act on our fear is to act as though the problem is bigger than the Almighty God.

But the truth is, there is nothing too big for Him.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…….” 1 Corinthians 14:33.

The Online Dictionary defines chaos as, “A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.”

It is a state of havoc.

Chaos is discord.

It is a state of anarchy and lawlessness.

Chaos is a state of mess.

It is mayhem.

Chaos is disruption.

It is a state of disturbance.

Chaos is turbulence.

It is a state of pandemonium.

Nothing flourishes in a state of chaos.

Chaos takes away your joy and peace of mind.

But God is a God of order and not chaos.

PERFECT PEACE:

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.

Everyone desires peace.

We want peace in our mind, marriage, business, circumstances and ministry.

But God has something much better for us! His agenda is for us to experience His perfect peace every day.

“Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.

The world defines peace as ‘a concept of friendship and harmony in the absence of strife, hostility and attack.’

It is a lack of conflict.

Peace is the handshake between two enemies.

It is the laying down of arms.

Peace is the lack of trouble.

It is freedom from the fear of violence between individuals or groups.

So human peace is based on feelings and circumstances!

It is conditional upon the fulfillment of a certain assumption.

Worldly peace is not permanent!

In every generation, there has always been treaties made to hopefully ensure world peace, yet so many times these treaties are violated and short lived.

But God always has His own better alternative.

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which means ‘calm, tranquility, serenity, harmony, wholeness, completeness, and wellness.’

Shalom is an inner sense of contentment and quietness, regardless of the circumstances.

Perfect peace is internal stability!

You may be in the midst of the worst kind of trouble and still have peace.

It is irrelevant to the chaos around.

Perfect peace is calmness and reassurance in the midst of conflict.

Perfect peace is not the absence of a storm but the ability to remain calm in spite of the hopeless situation.

It is the calm of mind and heart that isn’t shaken by adversity.

Perfect peace is to be joyful in the midst of unhappiness.

It is not a trouble-free life; perfect peace is serene in the midst of difficulties.

Perfect peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.

So, how can we stay calm when there seems to be turmoil all around?

In a broken world, how can we find stability?

How do you keep calm when things aren’t going the way you want them to?

1. Seek peace with God.

Sin makes us enemies of God but the blood of the righteousness of Christ brings us peace with Him.

It is therefore important that we seek peace with God.

Are you still living in sin?

Have you encountered the Lord Jesus?

Are you saved and living a life pleasing to God?

Perfect peace begins when we enter into relationship with God through Christ.

So, fix your broken relationship with God first. Proverb 16:7.

2. Remember the goodness of the Lord.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:” Psalm 103:2.

God knows our tendency to forget.

That is why He is adamant that we should be intentional about remembering His goodness.

It’s good to look back and praise God for His presence, power, provision, and the people He has placed in our life.

Forgetting leads to unbelief and discouragement.

Remembering helps us overcome fear.

It fuels thanksgiving, praise and worship.

Spend time daily reflecting on God’s goodness. Psalm 77:11-12.

3. Take it to God in prayer.

Until you cast all your burdens on the Lord, you may not know perfect peace. Prayer will stay your mind on God and fill your thoughts with His peace.

“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” Psalm 18:6.

Take everything to God in prayers, pray without ceasing and let the peace of God reign in your heart. Colossians 3:15.

4. Read and Meditate on the Word of God.

God wants us to fill our hearts constantly with His Word.

When a crisis comes up, He wants His Word to be so deeply rooted and firmly established in our hearts that we will automatically react to what His Word says instead of reacting with fear. Psalm 112:6-8.

Turn to the Scriptures for fresh spiritual nourishment each day.

5. Guard your heart.

We often relinquish the peace that God has given us by the words that we allow to come out of our mouths when we are under stress.

So, control your tongue!

You and I will never enjoy perfect peace unless you learn to control it.

In other to control your tongue you need to guard what goes into your heart and what you believe in.

The information you feed into your mind determines what you believe.

So, if your heart is troubled, it means you’re looking at, and feeding in, the wrong information.

If your heart is full of worry, fear and doubt, in the times of crisis, it will bring forth words of defeat.

If your heart is full of the Word of God, your tongue will constantly speak it.

6. Give thanks.

A lifestyle of continuous thanksgiving, praise and worship keeps us in perfect peace.

Paul and Silas had peace in the prison; they gave thanks to God at the midnight season of their lives.

Although this may be the last thing you feel like doing in times of yet it’s what God first requires of us.

You can keep a bright outlook in the midst of crisis.

You can have peace when there’s trouble and chaos all around.

The Joy of the Lord is your strength.

7. Win the battle over worry.

Worry is the chief robber of peace.

It prevents you from lying down and sleeping in peace at night.

So, whenever a troubling thought shows up in your mind, pray about it.

Give it to God, and step forward in faith as He leads you.

Ask Him to exchange your worries for peace.

Don’t let your worries grow into fear.

8. Place your trust in God.

Even when you don’t understand why He has allowed certain challenges, you can trust His love and purpose.

Shift your focus away from your circumstances.

God is bigger than your challenges and is able to help you.

9. Get rid of bitterness.

Refuse to hold onto anger and resentment.

Flush out the poison of bitterness.

Choose to forgive as an act of your will, despite your feelings.

Trust God to bring about justice rather than wasting your time and energy trying to get revenge.

A vengeful attitude is a cancer of the mind.

It destroys joy and peace.

Be willing to pray for the people you’re forgiving, and act in love toward them.

Enjoy the freedom that forgiveness gives.

11. Don’t give up!

Remember that God is not through with you yet.

Wait on God to complete His good work in your life.

Keep placing your hope in God and finding your strength in Him.

12. Be still.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10.

The original Hebrew word used for being still is Raphah.

It means for us to stop striving, to cause yourself to let go and to willingly submit ourselves wholly unto God and his control, surrender to God, to stop worrying, to relax or to be quiet.

When we’re still with God we become small, He becomes big. (John 3:29-30)

When we become smaller, we place less and less trust in ourselves.

We begin to put our trust in Him.

When we’re still God’s gentle whispers are heard.

We will have perfect peace of mind when we stop striving.

“I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.” Psalm 16:8-9.

In this world we will have troubles.

You may be in a situation right now where everything around you seem to be falling apart.

Maybe it is your ministry, career, health, or business or whole life.

Perhaps there’s a crisis within your family.

Sometimes the challenges of life shake us off balance, blowing us to and fro in ways that we never expected.

But God doesn’t want us to live stressed out!

He wants us to live a life of rest and peace.

It’s the will of God that we stand firm in faith and unshaken in the storms of life.

We should not be afraid, agitated, and intimidated when trouble comes.

God is our Rock and Refuge!

He is our Strength and Shield!

With Him by our side, we’ll not be shaken.

So, pray! and stand firm, be still read your Bibles and be at peace!

When you’re at peace, you’re displaying your unconditional faith in God.

If you focus on Him, you won’t be moved by circumstances.

The mind that is stayed on God is always calm.

You will be renewed and refreshed!

When you release your burdens to the Lord, you’ll find rest for your weary soul.

When you prioritize your thoughts on God, you’ll experience His perfect peace.

“10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

PRAYER POINTS:

1. Father, thank You for always being with me in the times of trouble, in Jesus name.

2. O Lord, teach me how to find Your presence in the midst of uncertainty, in Jesus name.

3. Father, help me to turn away from my circumstances and enable me to be still, in Jesus name.

4. O Lord, help me to stay steadfast in my faith, in Jesus name.

5. I will not allow my heart to be troubled, but I will trust in God, in Jesus name.

6. O Lord, help me to stand firm. Help my heart not to be troubled, in Jesus name.

7. Thank You, Lord, for answering my prayers.

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How To Have Faith in God When Life Gets Tough – Building Up Our House, Hearing God’s Words. Matthew 7:24

Matthew 7:24-27Amplified Bible

The Two Foundations

24 “So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish (stupid) man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great and complete was its fall.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In our Gospel narrative story of the wise and foolish builders, Jesus explains that it’s not enough to hear God’s Word.

We also have to put it into practice.

We need to live, love and breathe in and breathe out the choice: obey the Lord and seek to follow and to serve him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Picture the two kinds of people in the illustrations Jesus gives here.

Both hear his words, but one puts them into practice and the other does not.

One hears and obeys; the other hears and ignores.

Both have had the same basic instruction.

But while one follows the proven practice of building on a firm foundation, the other ignores that wisdom and builds a house that has no foundation at all.

Jesus is using a simple illustration that even children can understand.

Among his listeners, everyone knew that only a fool would try to build a house without a foundation.

A house like that would fall apart in the path of a heavy storm.

But a house with a firm foundation would withstand many storms.

Similarly, Jesus was saying, we must put God’s words into practice.

The only way to build a life that will last is to base it on the firm foundation of God and his Word.

As the psalmist had said many years earlier, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2).

As we consider these Words of God today, in truth, how well can we say that?

As we faithfully ponder and meditate upon these Words of God today, in truth, how much faith-filled faith do we choose to have and exercise in these days?

It’s easy to have faith in God when things are going well.

But what about when life gets tough, and it feels like He’s nowhere to be found?

Here are 3 ways to exercise our hearts, souls and minds to build a foundation of strong, enduring faith in God when life inevitably, subtly, suddenly gets hard.

Faith In God Through Prayer

First things first: pray.

Proverbs 27:17Amplified Bible

17 
As iron sharpens iron,
So, one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].

Talk to God like you would a friend.

Tell Him what’s going on and how you’re feeling.

Connect and engage and relate with God! Ask for his help and guidance.

Prayer will connect us with God even when we are feeling lost or alone.

He is a God who hears us.

Study Scripture, Increase Your Faith

Another thing which has helped me maintain my faith is studying Scripture.

There are so many passages and verses throughout the Bible that offer comfort and hope in times of trouble.

When I’m struggling, I will often turn to familiar passages like Psalm 46:1-3:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam and the mountains tremble with its tumult.”

These “go to” verses reminds me that no matter the severity of what happens, God my Father is always going to be with me, and he will never leave me alone.

Get Moving and Get Serving

Finally, we build our faith by choosing to move forward and serving others.

When I am outwardly focused on helping others, it helps me zoom out.

My fears become dim and more distant. My troubles gradually become small.

When we actively partner with the Holy Spirit, we see just how big our God is.

Jesus Didn’t Promise Easy

In John 16:33b, Jesus said:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Inevitably life will certainly become hard—but in the end, Jesus always wins.

And so do we.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58Amplified Bible

57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

By disciplining ourselves, we build our houses – praying, studying Scripture, serving others, we will stay connected to God even when we feel lost or alone.

Let’s not only hear the Word, but also obey it.

In God’s strength we can build houses which will withstand whatever comes!

In God’s strength we can build churches which will withstand whatever comes!

In God’s strength we can build up and we can edify God’s Neighborhood which will withstand whatever comes.

Whether sunshine or rain, whether severest droughts or mightiest hurricanes, with God on our side, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

My Father, You are the author and sustainer of my soul. Lord, I thank You for the strength that You give. Through Your Scriptures, You embolden me with courage and cause me to stand upright. I am so grateful for Your presence in my life. In all of life, may I turn to You for an increase in these qualities. Keep me from looking within myself or to sources other than You. I thank You in the name of the Son. Amen.

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Being the Content Christian: Keep Calm, Carry On! Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:11-13 Amplified Bible

11 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Contentment was a powerful word to the Greek-speaking people of Paul’s day.

To be content literally means “to find everything you need within yourself.”

Many teachers in that day believed contentment was the greatest virtue.

But their version of contentment was based on their self-accomplishment.

To become content, they taught, a person had to be able to provide completely and fully and utterly everything for himself or herself.

Paul knew that it was a myth to think that a human being can be completely self-sustaining – but it did not stop him from zealously, over zealously, trying.

And yet here within our passage from Philippians chapter 4, he looks deeply within himself and joyfully finds that everything he needs is there within him.

How did it get there?

God weaved it there even before he was born (Psalm 139:13-18).

God’s own Spirit had already begun living inside of Paul.

This contentment provided by the Spirit of God gave Paul tremendous freedom.

He goes on to say sometimes his physical needs have been met, and sometimes they have not been met.

But even when he has not had enough food, clothing, money, or other basic needs, he still found God’s peace and strength have been present within him.

I just realized something – You know what’s great about being a Christian?

Christian Life comes with a survival kit.

In all the roller coaster twists and turns and hiccups and hang-ups of life, we have a trusty and handy source of strength which can get us through it all.

Of course, I’m referring to the strength we find in our Lord and Savior Jesus.

The life of Saul the Master Pharisee, The Apostle Paul, serves as an excellent example in these perilous seasons of surviving everything life throws his way.

12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.

Please entertain this question – What hadn’t Paul been through in his life?

At the top of his Profession as a learned and educated, influential Pharisee.

Trained and mentored by Israel’s greatest Rabbi of that time – Gamaliel …

He was the “go to Pharisee” – the #1 expert in the Law and its applications.

He had great power and influence with the Temple Authorities to pursue the “new followers” of Jesus to the ends of the earth and arrest, imprison them.

Everyone knew you didn’t get in his way – the price of such action was severe.

Then at the peak of his greatness, his power and his influence, he encountered the Resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road and stopped cold in his own tracks.

Suddenly, he was quite literally blinded.

In less than an instant, he was made utterly helpless.

For three days he fasted and prayed – not knowing whether or not help would ever arrive, if he would ever see again, if he would be reduced to blind begging.

From the very pinnacles of success, from the top of living then thrust straight to the bottom at the snap of someone else’s finger – someone he did not know.

He no longer had his great power or his vast influence over the people.

In an instant, he was now virtually “untouchable” ……

And he was still “alive” – trying to sort out what or who was coming next!

Can we begin to place ourselves into his mounting levels of stress and anxiety?

Suddenly thrust into the unknown – he was utterly helpless as a newborn baby.

He had to “figure out” how to live in a world which he could not see and may never see again – waiting for someone, anyone, to offer him a little charity.

He did not know who he could rely on for whatever assistance was going to be required for meeting his hourly and daily needs – food, clothing, and shelter.

Then, suddenly within his blindness, Paul received a vision – Acts 9:12

Then a man named Ananias, a man called by Jesus from his life of contentment, suddenly came to his bedside – touched Paul’s eyes and healed him – “In the name of JESUS CHRIST, Be Healed” and Saul/Paul’s sight was literally restored.

Then he received meat and was strengthened ….

Sight restored Paul took up residence with the disciples who were at Damascus.

After Three Days of Prayer and Fasting – Jesus redeemed his life from the Pit.

Psalm 40:1-2

40 I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.

Humbled to the maximum, he began to proclaim Jesus in the Synagogues ….

Acts 9:17-20

17 So Ananias left and entered the house, and he laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came [to Damascus], has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit [in order to proclaim Christ to both Jews and Gentiles].” 18  Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took some food and was strengthened.

Saul Begins to Preach Christ

For several days [afterward] Saul remained with the disciples who were at Damascus. 20 And immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This Man is the Son of God [the promised Messiah]!”

Now, several years later, after who knows how many beatings and hardships,

He wrote today’s devotional Bible Passage from “house arrest” a Roman Prison.

How’s that progression for setting the example for us in 2022, learning how to be content no matter what pinnacles and “valleys of death” life sends our way?

Verse 13 is often used more on a regular basis by than the previous two verses: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13).

I especially love the fact that this verse is written in direct support of “I can be content in any situation.”

So often we isolate verse 13 and we apply it to only encourage us to believe we can do the impossible because Christ strengthens us, which I am 100% all for.

However, sometimes we need to remember that this strength from Christ is not the strength to rip car doors off their hinges or to lift tractors or to lift boulders.

That strength comes from within from crazy high levels of Adrenaline when we are under an acute level of stress – following car accidents so to rescue a person.

The strength of Christ Paul talks about here in verse 13 is to help us manage the long concourse of our workdays, survive thru our toughest day to day activities.

Paul says he can remain content no matter what the circumstances are around him – he had absolute confidence, faith, hope, love and trust in Jesus his Savior.

Paul is saying the presence of the Holy Spirit within him would get him through any and all experiences – no matter how potentially catastrophic the situation.

I do not pretend to know what is going on in your life now but think about it.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words while he was locked away in a prison.

And even while captured, he wrote to people he never met about rejoicing and being full of joy (Philippians 4:4)!

I heard a preacher once say,

“You’re either in a storm, just got out of one, or about to enter one.”

That can sound daunting at first, but realistically we all know change and difficulty happen at a moment’s notice and even without a moment’s notice.

Anything can change for the better or for the worse at the snap of a finger.

Self-Related, Family Related. Work Related, Financially Related and Medically.

Like Saul who became Paul, we still have to work out the details of how we are going to actually live and navigate ourselves through these very trying times.

Koinonia Fellowship, Prayer, Fasting and Bible Study are all critically essential.

Connection and Relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – are our absolute #1 priority – drawing from the strength which we simply will not have.

Through Jesus, we can breathe easy, rest confidently because we can handle it.

How ever gentle or severe or even catastrophic our hiccups, our let downs or our hang-ups, the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus gives us additional strength.

And he is with us before, after, and during the bad parts in our lives (Psalm 121).

When the winds of change blow, whether a gentle breeze or hurricane force winds, or unsearchable troubles are on the horizon, or everything goes swimmingly, know Christ has your back and will be your source of strength to keep calm and carry on!

In the name and strength of God, the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, giver of every good and perfect gift, thank You for this example of generous giving and of gracious receiving. I pray that I may be content in all things, whether I have much or little, but I also pray that You will prompt me give of what I have, when others are in need, not out of obligation but out of love for You. Thank You that all good and perfect things come from You, and may I be a good steward of all I have… and by your strength, trust You for all I need – in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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The Absolute Surety of God’s Love for Us. What More is there for us to say? What More is there for us to do now? 1 John 4:7-21

This probably comes as no surprise to you, but since covid-19 rearranged so many of our lives and schedules, we have changed how much time we spend looking at a screen, whether it’s a tv, smartphone, laptop, or computer screen.

As a whole, we are spending a significant amount of time on these devices.

With that increased usage comes an increase in our exposure to hateful and divisive behaviors.

Anger, violence, and unrest that is posted to social media platforms only reflects and magnifies the anger, violence, and unrest in our communities.

With all of this unrest in our global communities, some people may reasonably wonder exactly where God is in all of this.

Others are max tempted to question the quality and quantity of God’s goodness.

They might ask,

They might shout,

They might scream at the top of their collective lungs,

They might march in the streets, raising high signs of protest and indignation,

“If God is so good, then how can He allow all of this hate and violence to exist?

But just because there is human hatred and violence in our presence, this in no way negates God’s goodness and love.

You see, the world’s concept of love cannot hope to compare with God’s love.

I am referring to God’s love that was on display when He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world.

We can’t do anything to deserve God’s love, but He loves us anyway.

God’s love abides forever, and He wants us to be sure of His love for us.

Today we will be using 1 John 4 for our focal passage.

John has already spoken to us twice on the theme of love as we looked at his writings in 1 John chapters 2 and 3.

Now he was dealing with the topic for the third time.

It is critically important here to know this about Scripture: when Scripture addresses a matter even once, it is important, but when God inspires a biblical writer to address a topic repeatedly, we should really sit up and take notice.

So, let us “sit up” and take notice once again to what God tells us about love.

1 John 4:7-10Amplified Bible

God Is Love

Beloved, let us [unselfishly] [a]love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath].

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Love is the very nature of God.

So, John writes,

“Love is from God, and love comes from God because God is love.”

Love is not just another characteristic of God among many.

It’s God’s very nature from which all the other attributes come.

Everything that comes from God can be attributed to His love for us.

So, if God judges, He judges in love.

That does not mean God condones sin, but in love, He is exposed to that sin and sent His son to die for sin’s penalty.

Most all of us are familiar with John 3:16, that says

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 John 4 verse 9, John is reminding us that God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we can know that God loves us.

The origin of Love is God.

Love began with God.

So, Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love.

God showed his love toward us by sending His Son to pay our sin debt.

How great is God’s love?

The answer to that is that God’s love is seen in the value of the gift: God gave His one and only Son (John 3:16-17).

And that is an extremely valuable gift.

So, God sent His Son as a demonstration of His love for us.

The Greek word used in 1 John 4 verse 9 for “only son” is the same word that was used to describe Abraham’s offering up of his only son, Isaac.

Let’s go back in Scripture several hundred years and I will explain that.

In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham.

He told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, whom Abraham loved, to the land of Mariah and offer him as a burnt offering on the mountain to God.

Abraham did not question God but obeyed God immediately.

The story reaches its climax when Abraham, who had bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, raised his knife to the sky.

It was not until then that God’s angel called to Abraham, telling Abraham not to harm the boy.

Abraham proved his reverent fear of God.

God knew Abraham’s heart and knew that Abraham would carry out God’s order to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Then, in a beautiful display of His vast mercy and grace, God provided a ram to sacrifice in young Isaac’s place.

God, out of His love, provided the substitute sacrifice.

Do you and I see the similarities?

God spared Abraham’s son, but the difference is He didn’t spare His own Son on the cross.

God willingly gave His Son to die in our place, and Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins upon Himself.

God did not do this because we are lovable, rays of sunshine on a stormy day.

By no means.

He loved and sent His Son to rescue us, not because we are lovable, but because God is love.

So, the greatness of God’s love is seen in the costliness of His self-sacrifice for us who are so utterly and completely undeserving.

So now with all of that in mind John writes,

“Let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:11 – “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.”

We’ve already seen in 1 John 4:7 the command to love one another.

John repeated that twice more here in 1 John 4 verse 11 and then in verse 12.

With this call to love one another as God loved us comes great responsibility.

We are to love others as God has loved us.

That is an enormously tall order.

Are we even capable of such an indescribable magnitude of Love?

God has loved us with a boundless, changeless, ultimate self-sacrificing love.

God still loves us in the same way today, as he seeks to display that magnitude of love through us.

So, we saw in 1 John chapter 4 verses 8-9, that God revealed His love when His Son, Jesus, became the sacrifice for our sins.

He took away our sin, but He didn’t just take away the bad.

He gave to us as well.

What did he give us?

Jesus gave us life that we might live through Him.

Now you are perhaps asking the inevitable question, what does that mean?

That clearly means that we are to live in Him, which means we are to allow others to see His love in and through us.

People should see Jesus’s love shine from us without us saying a word.

To love with God’s love gives evidence that we have a relationship with the One who displays His love through us.

Then, if we didn’t understand the positive side of that, John States it negatively in 1 John chapter 4 verse 8. “The one who does not love, does not know God.”

Now that all sounds pretty and nice doesn’t it?

But here comes the test.

Think about your relationships right now.

It is reasonably safe to say there is someone that you find difficult to love.

It is reasonably safe to say there is someone that you find impossible to love.

It is reasonable safe to say there is that someone you have no trouble hating.

Your instructions here are to ask God to help you love these individuals as He loves them.

Again, that is a pretty tall order.

Kind of like standing or sitting still as someone runs nails down a chalkboard.

But it is not something that, through God’s miracles, we cannot accomplish.

John goes a little deeper and says:

1 John 4:12 – 13 – “No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.”

John reminds us here that no one has ever seen God.

So how do we even know that God is around?

Believers reveal the presence of God through the way they love one another.

The very fact that we love one another serves as evidence that God remains in us, and we remain in Him.

We embrace God’s love, He comes to live in us, and His love pours out of us as we love others.

So, when individual or groups of people see the mutual love given and shared between brothers and sisters in Christ, they see the display of God’s love.

A quick recap.

When we accept Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us.

In that, we now possess the fruit of that spirit.

One of those fruits is love.

As a Christian, love is the fruit of God’s indwelling Spirit.

God is perfect in His love.

He Lacks nothing.

But God’s love is made complete when that love flows through us.

God has chosen to use His people as channels of His love.

So, we are to present ourselves to Him daily as instruments of His continual love.

When we love others, we cooperate with God’s redemptive plan for the world, so that others can be sure of God’s love for them.

Let me ask you.

If you ever plan on going to another particular church and you see the church members fighting and quarreling among each other, is that a church you would want to attend, give of your time, tithe and other material spiritual resources?

On the other hand, if you go to another church and the people are loving and caring and show a genuine love toward one another, is that a church you would like to attend and be part of, give of your time and tithe and material resources?

I rest my case.

And here’s the thing.

Putting God’s love on display is to be a continuous, ongoing activity.

Now we will all have to admit that there are times when it is hard to love, especially when we feel that we have been wronged or hurt by someone.

It is in those moments, in our humanity, that the last thing we want to do is express forgiveness and extend acts of kindness to that person.

But God has commanded us to love one another as God first loved us, and what God commands, He makes possible through the max example set by His Son.

Will we, do it?

Sadly, probably not!

It is in our sin nature that we simply find it much too easy to magnify hate.

Can we, do it? Can we unconditionally love one another as God first did?

Yes, we can!

If we willingly surrender our whole selves – hurts, hang-ups and hates too – and sacrifice all of those hurts, hang-ups and hates on the altar of His Mercy.

Psalm 103:1-5Amplified Bible

Praise for the Lord’s Mercies.

A Psalm of David.

103 Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name.


Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul,
And do not forget any of His benefits;


Who forgives all your sins,
Who heals all your diseases;


Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy;


Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

So, we are to love, not for our enfeebled sake, but for the sake of Jesus Christ.

And the key to transforming boundless hate into loving others is in loving God.

Luke 6:27-36Amplified Bible

27 “But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: [a]Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, 28 bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever [b]strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. [c]Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend [money] to those from whom you expect to receive [it back], what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to receive back the same amount. 35 But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, [d]expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

The more we love God, the more of God’s love will flow out of us toward others.

Picture it as a garden hose attached to the outdoor faucet of a house.

When the faucet is turned on, the water flows.

The hose doesn’t produce the water.

It is only the conduit for the water to flow freely.

In ourselves, we might find it difficult, impossible to love, especially to love unconditionally, as God loves.

But when we are attached to Him, when we remain in Christ as Jesus said (John 15:1-5), His love flows freely through us.

And I would commend all of you reading this for your demonstrations of your sacrifices of unconditional mercy towards one another, love of one another.

God loves watching us constantly encouraging others. Writing notes, making phone calls, giving of your time, and just spending time with one another.

That lets others know we truly care. And remember what God has always said. If we want to make a lasting impact on our society and community, then just care.

Our lives ought to be characterized by daily acts of kindness.

We should serve in order to share Christ’s sacrifice that gave us salvation.

To love others is to seek their highest good.

God’s presence, God’s mercy, God’s love does not just seek to meet needs, but it aims to max exceed those needs in maximum abundance in the name of Christ.

Let me give you a biblical example.

The gospel of Mark 2:1-12, illustrates for us a crystal-clear example of loving sacrificial service with genuine gospel intent.

You might remember the story.

Four men carried a paralyzed man on a mat to meet Jesus, believing Jesus was able to heal the man.

But when they arrived, the crowd’s size made it impossible for the men to get their friend to Jesus.

But they refused to give up.

They would not be denied.

Their love for their friend compelled them to max out the extra mile.

They had that man’s highest good at heart.

The men climbed to the top of the house, removed the roof, and lowered their friend before Jesus.

And Jesus, who is love, not only healed the man but also forgave his sins.

What a beautiful example of tangible acts of kindness.

What a glorious example of seeking someone’s highest good.

If only you and I had such a story to tell …. imagine the max impact on others!

1 John 4:19-21 – “We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.”

John didn’t leave any gray areas here, did he?

Nor did he sugarcoat his words. “If anyone says I love God and yet hates his brother or sister he is a liar.”

Then to further stress that truth, John said, “For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

The statements strike to the core of the issue.

Of course, some would say it’s easier to love God because He first loved us.

But John argued just the opposite.

Logically, it’s easier to show love to people who are visibly present, rather than God, who is an invisible spirit.

So here is the issue.

A failure to love people whom we can see is a failure to love God whom we cannot see, and a failure to love is hate.

It gets down to this, we live out our love for God when we choose to love other people whom we would find it easier to rationalize and fully realize our hate.

Love overcomes hate.

There is so much visible hate in our world today that it is vitally important that Christians love one another. But our love should not stop with other Christians.

Impossible love needs to go out into the world and seek to win the lost to Christ.

Jesus came in human flesh because He loved us. He gave His life out of love for the lost, and we are to follow His example.

We, too, are to love the sinner.

We are to love the down cast and broken.

We are to love the weak and lonely.

We are to love the sick and needy.

We are to love the least of these as Jesus said. (Matthew 25:34-40)

So, to be sure of God’s maximum love, there is something we must do.

How can we be sure of God’s love for us?

Commit yourself to love like Jesus, who unselfishly gave His life for others.

Try to keep in mind and max love like the four men who did whatever it took to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus.

Practice sacrificial, transforming love like the Good Samaritan who willingly set aside the traditional hatred of others towards him, to meet a stranger’s needs.

This is the kind of love that grabs someone’s attention and changes the world.

By showing our love for one another, even those we declare our worst enemy, it will “heap coals on their heads,” help others to be sure of God’s love for them.

Maybe you have never felt God’s love. If you have not, is it because you have never asked Jesus Christ, God’s son, to come and pour his love into your life.

Why not do that now?

Stuff your pride under the chair and take that first critical step toward Jesus.

Your heart and your soul and your whole life will surely be glad you did.

Pray unto the Father and Author and Weaver of your life and ask Him to come into your heart and instruct and guide and love your life from this day forward.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Loving Heavenly Father, You have loved me with immeasurable love. You are love. I pray that I will be strengthened in my inner being – in my soul – with the love that is wider than I can understand, deeper than I am able to imagine, and greater than I could ever know. As You encourage and embolden me, may I more fully know the mystery of the Gospel as revealed in my life. In the love of Christ, I pray. Amen.

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How Jesus Viewed Ministry Success: Focus on God’s Purposes. Luke 4.43

Luke 4:40-44Common English Bible

40 When the sun was setting, everyone brought to Jesus, relatives and acquaintances with all kinds of diseases. Placing his hands on each of them, he healed them. 41 Demons also came out of many people. They screamed, “You are God’s Son.” But he spoke harshly to them and wouldn’t allow them to speak because they recognized that he was the Christ. 42 When daybreak arrived, Jesus went to a deserted place. The crowds were looking for him. When they found him, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of God’s kingdom in other cities too, for this is why I was sent.” 44 So he continued preaching in the Judean synagogues.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Ministry success is easily attributable to Jesus.

He captivated thousands because he taught “as one with authority” (Mark 1:22). He was utterly unique, like no one they had ever seen nor heard before.

Each Child of God is utterly unique, like no one else anyone has seen before. We all uniquely offer a unique diversity of God given gifts to God’s unique kingdom.

He made himself available to people when they needed a presence – (verse 40)

He did something incredible positive with His availability – healing – (verse 40)

He did something incredibly powerful with His availability – rebuking demons with an unheard-of authority (verse 41).

He was incredibly available and incredibly flexible, would preach to thousands, heal the sick, and spend time with the untouchables. At one point, his renown, authority was so great that people tried to make him king by force (John 6:15).

He took time for himself – to make himself available to His Father in Heaven. (Verse 42) How frequently do we honor our Father by honoring His Sabbath?

How often do we prioritize making ourselves available to God and his healing? Do we value “setting ourselves apart” and permitting God to Minister unto us?

Rabbi Jesus recognized that his ministry was ever changing according to the purposes set aside by His Father in Heaven and he needed to be flexible in his ministry – keeping his focus on the purposes of his Father God knowing when to move onto the diversity of needs, addressing the needs of people elsewhere (verses 43 and 44).

Rabbi Jesus could have stayed where he was and regularly had large crowds gather in his presence. But what did Jesus do with this “ministry success?”

Did he set up headquarters, hang up signs, pass out flyers, and increase seating capacity? Did he get hung up on denominational differences, and divisiveness?

Did he stay with the people begging him to remain and bask in their adoration?

Praise God! Absolutely not. That’s not how Jesus defined ministry success.

Real Ministry Success

Rabbi Jesus focused only on his God ordained purpose: to teach the truth. Jesus repeatedly says this in passages like John 18:37 and Mark 1:35–39, as well.

Jesus did not look to boasting of the crowds as proof of his success in ministry. He did not withhold his identity from people flocking to hear, see, touch him.

His sole focus? He did and said only what the Father led him to do (John 5:19).

For what purpose of His Father God was His Son, Rabbi Jesus led to do?

Preach the Gospel — Announce the Good News to all people.

Luke 4:14-19Common English Bible

Jesus announces good news to the poor

14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. 17 The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    to proclaim release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to liberate the oppressed,
19     and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.[a]

For what other purposes did God send His Son?

Offer the people an everlasting connection to God.

Offer the people an everlasting relationship to God.

Offer the people an everlasting Koinonia – fellowship with God.

John 3:16-17English Standard Version

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, [a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Luke 19:10English Standard Version

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

John 10:14-18English Standard Version

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

A thought. It can be tempting to look at success in ministry as a numbers game.

Our logic?

The more people that come to our church or ministry, the more successful we are in the kingdom.

Except numbers never define success – God defines success by relationships.

Steadfast and Immovable, Faithful under all circumstances, Connections, Koinonia, Fellowship, Relationships with Him, His Son and the Holy Spirit.

God defines success in relationships by His Son’s understanding of Success:

Mark 10:42-45English Standard Version

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great one’s exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

God’s Servant Leader Rabbi Jesus is a great example for what success looks like.

Jesus teaches us that success is not merely defined by popularity or crowds, but by our steadfast and faithful obedience to God and to his purposes for our lives.

Faithfulness is the key to ministry success.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t define faithfulness as merely plodding along, barely making a ripple for the Kingdom of God…

…not even close!

What’s the root word in faithfulness? Faith!

Jesus didn’t simply bumble along.

He had absolute faith in what the Father had called him to do.

So much faith that he bet his entire life on it.

To faithfully pursue God’s purpose means two things:

  1. To desire his will infinitely more than our own finite and temporary glory.
  2. To believe he will accomplish his mission in us and through us for His sake.

Are we faithfully Pursuing God’s Mission?

So, are we pursuing God’s mission for us?

So, are we aware of God’s purpose for us?

Our ministry and mission fields might be:

  • Our family, both biological and church families
  • Our workplace,
  • Our schools,
  • Our communities and neighborhoods,
  • Our vocational ministry – inside the church, missional outside the church,
  • Our volunteer work,
  • Or anywhere else God ordains us to be (Isaiah 6:8-11).

Define your mission field.

Refine your measurement of ministry success.

And above all, have a steadfast and immovable faith – God always accomplishes his will— God will always fulfill His purpose for me, and he will do so through you, too.

Psalm 138:8English Standard Version

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Individually, how well do we, in our contemporary 2022 context, understand our God (not ourselves) fulfilling His singularly unique purpose for our lives?

Individually, how well do we, in our contemporary 2022 context, understand faithfulness to God’s fulfilling of our singularly unique purpose for our lives?

Individually, how well do we, in our contemporary 2022 context, understand faithful obedience to God’s fulfilling of our singularly unique purpose for us?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Sovereign God, You have authored my life, have ordered each of my steps and opened this door to success in my life. With this new path comes a new uncertainty that tempts me to fear. Make me strong, Mighty God! Make me courageous, God of Heaven! In the face of new challenges, I will trust You. For from You comes Your Spirit which empowers me to be Your witness in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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