ENCOURAGEMENT—Arrives After Discouragement

The relief section in your local pharmacy has multiple selections for pain, allergies, etc., but none for discouragement.

God gives us several thoughts on conquering disheartenment. Joshua, the successor of Moses, experienced it. He led Israel through the Jordan River, marched around Jericho, and watched their walls crumble. Then came Ai. Joshua and Israel ignored the Lord’s directions. The defeat came and then dismay. 

Sometimes, when we see the success of the wicked, discouragement comes. The righteous do the right thing, but cannot get ahead. It happens all the time. God’s people are not to put hope in prosperity, but our heavenly destination. We are to keep our eyes on the Lord, not man nor circumstances.

Sickness can bring us to the lowest of lows. The misery of ills can cause a man to fall into despair. Why is God permitting this, we ask? Sickness can be for the glory of God (John 11:4). 

Ezekiel was concerned over the spirituality of his country. He was even saying, “The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing” (Ezekiel 12:22 ESV).

Paul realized, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us” (II Corinthians 7:6 ESV). Later, Paul said, “I ask you not to lose heart” (Ephesians 3:13 ESV). 

When your body and heart are hurting, look to the day when God will make them better. It is helpful to remind ourselves; he is with us in all our agony. He promised never to leave us. That’s God’s word. He cannot lie to us nor back away from his word. 

Life has its unpleasantries for sure. It may seem everything is working against us. Circumstances get tough, and people are mean. However, we are never alone as believers. God is always with each of us. That’s his word.

Look on the bright side after a time of discouragement; encouragement is coming.

Getting Your Attention

The knockdowns, the verbal jabs, the kick-to-the-curb attitude are a way of life for some. It’s happening more and more in our society.

What do you do when it happens to you? Hide for a while. Find a new circle of friends. Moan. Hopefully, you get yourself together and get up and go on with life. If not, get off the old freeway and find one going in a new direction and to a new territory. It will take some courage because you do not know where you are going. The better description would be faith. Faith to believe God loves you and wants a better life for you. Leaving the past behind can be a good thing (Philippians 3:14). 

Obedience in the adventure is a new thing for you. Traveling this road, street, or avenue will bring you new insights. Caution is needed not to turn into a court or a circle going nowhere. They will stop your forward progress. 


As you travel to your new destination, be sure to have prayer as your companion. It is one of comfort, direction, security, and strength. 

As he was known, Abram heard God say, leave home and go to the land that I will show you. All Abram, soon to be Abraham, knew was to go west, which he did. The journey was long, but Abraham stuck with God. Yes, he made some mistakes, but he stayed the course.

Being faithful to God will lead you to trust in the unknown, wrestle with yourself, and ultimately depend upon God. 



One of the significant advantages Christians have is the Holy Spirit. He guides and comforts – both of which we need. 


Maybe God is leading you down a road to a new location of residence. Or he may be getting your attention for a different adventure. Wherever he leads, our Lord will guide you if you are willing to listen. He will protect you along the way and provide you the necessary provisions to do his will. The journey may be challenging, lonely, and without recognition. At least here on earth.


When we get to heaven and see Jesus face to face, you will notice a sparkle in his eyes. Then, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was worth it all. The Lord said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26 in CSV). It is the new heart and the new spirit that will carry you forward.

Old Isn’t Bad

“I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken…” (Psalm 37:25 ESV). King David’s heartfelt statement makes one turn around and examine their past. Age and experience bring a particular perspective most younger people do not understand or appreciate. Many an adolescent think the older people are just out of touch with their generation. In many ways, that is true. But, a wrong true. The mature have been there and done that and can see things the younger cannot yet. 

It is the gray hairs, if you do not dye yours, that give the older one’s perspective. What is new is only a twist of improvement on what was old. Gadgets may do things that make life easier. But the wisdom of how to use the everyday items properly takes maturity and wisdom. We need to see things from the big picture point of view.

What will make a difference in eternity is the question, the real question. Everything on earth will stay here. Only the deeds done for Christ will pass through the portals of the gates of Pearl to the throne room of God. That is seeing the big picture, a feature usually ignored today.

Doing what the Lord wants you to do is best learned on your knees in prayer. Another thing neglected today. Once you know his objective and commit yourself to it, then things begin to happen. Yes, there are potholes in the way, but the Lord can show you the way around them or over them. He can also have you stop for a while and wait until the way is clear for you to proceed. What happens when you are willing to ask for guidance and continue to follow his directions. It is one thing to start on his journey. It is quite another thing to stay on the path to its destination. 

Joshua had specific instructions to conquer the cities in the promised land. After Jericho’s victories, Israel decided to take the easy way to defeat Ai’s little town. A strange thing happened. Ai won the battle against the Israelites. Why? Because Israel did it their way and lost. But when repentance came for disobedience and Israel obeyed God’s instructions, Ai suffered defeat. 

So, it is with life today, whether young or old. Following and obeying God is always good. If only we would be smart enough to be obedient the first time and do it his way.

A Guide To Show

Is there hope? How does the future look? Is it bleak or bright? It depends on your perspective. To the ordinary observer, the horizon may be dark. On the other hand, to the kneeling Christian the future is filled with rays of sunshine. 

Have the clouds of complacency darkened our spiritual outlook? Such gloom will discourage the ones who look to themselves for the solution. 


Above every cloud is a clear sky. Our Savior broke through the mirky clouds of life with warm radiant beams of sunlight. Bright rays lighten the way of transformation of the individual. It is not for us to bask in the warmth of comfort, but they are for our light. The kind of light to show us the way of sharing the saving hope of the world–the message of the cross. It is there the penalty of our sin was purchased. 

What are we to do with this new profound freedom? There are two unchangeable things in the Bible. The first, Jesus, our Savior, is always the same. He has not changed. The book of Hebrews says it best. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Times  are in a continual state of change. Every Godly intervention is a change of how certain things are achieved. Jesus is our only door through the gates of Pearl (Revelation 21:21). No one can enter heaven without having Jesus as their Savior (Acts 4:10-12). 


The second unchangeable fact is the message for the church. We are to go into all the world and share the good news (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8). Obedience to this command is God’s method of reaching our generation for Jesus. Our Lord commanded us to reach others for him. We do it by sharing God’s word. Every person was born in sin, and sinners we are. Our only solution is to trust Jesus as our Savior. 


So how do we do it? If someone, in front of you, is ready to receive the Lord, how should they pray? The following is a guide for you to show a loved one, friend, or stranger the simple, sincere prayer to enter heaven’s gate. The prayer below is ONLY a guide or suggestion!

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I want to go to heaven when I die. I know if I die the way that I am now, I will descend into hell. I’m asking You to come into my heart and wash all my sins away. Thank you, Jesus, for forgiving me of all my sins and giving me eternal life with you forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

No Surprises

The daily routines were clicking along as they did most days. The phone was ringing, and the kids were loud. Everything seems normal.  All of a sudden . . .


Normal changed two thousand years ago. The Lord was going to observe the Passover, a Jewish holiday, with his 12 disciples for the last time.

Peter and John were assigned the task of preparing for the night’s meeting. They were to go to a nearby village and follow a man carrying a water pitcher which was an unusual event. Only women would go to the well for water. When the water carrier delivered the water, the two disciples were to ask the location of the banquet room. After receiving directions, they were to prepare the room for the Passover meal.

This brings me to the thought for consideration.

The Devine appointment occurred when Peter and John would enter the village. A servant caring water from the central well would be returning home. Jesus also knew who had a room prepared for the supper (rooms were scarce for the million-plus people in Jerusalem observing the Passover).

So, what’s the point?


The fact, Jesus knows everything about everybody. He knows what will happen before it happens. No one can surprise the Lord; it is the Lord who surprises us. For example, the world did not expect a flood, but Noah did. Elijah had never experienced a ride in a whirlwind. To put Jonah on his journey, he was given his first roller coaster ride in a fish’s belly.

The Lord knows everything before it happens; there are no surprises with the Lord. Our God knows our needs before there is a need. The timing of the Lord’s solution is always right. He is not early nor is he late. We can trust him completely to do what is best. All we need is the faith to trust him and do his will.

Yes or No – It’s Your Decision


He was doing what he was supposed to do. Tending sheep.

Moses was his name. He was in the middle of nowhere. A bush was burning in front of him, but not turning to ashes. 

Out of curiosity, Moses went to see this phenomenon. It was then that God called Moses out of the Bush. Moses replied, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:4) 

Then God said two things. “Do not come near,” and “Take off your sandals.”

Moses approached the Holy ground. The place where God spoke at this instant and later when Moses received the Ten Commandments.

It was decision time for Moses. Obey God or disobey God. Yes, to God is always better than telling God no. Things go better for an individual when they say yes to God. 

Moses was barefooted, standing on holy ground, and he said yes to God. Had Moses said no to God, he would have missed out on future blessings. Maybe the story of Moses would have been left out of the Bible. Perhaps the first five books of the Old Testament would not be written. But Moses said yes. A “yes” response to God always has far-reaching effects. It did for Moses, and it will work for you and me.

It all started because Moses was curious. When he heard God’s voice, he listened and obeyed. Moses removed his sandals. 


Each time God speaks to our hearts, it’s decision time. We either say yes or no. If yes, God uses us somehow for His purpose and glory. If we say no to God, we miss out. 

It’s okay to be curious with God. Mary asks, how can I have a child when I am a virgin? She accepted the Lord’s explanation even though she didn’t understand. 

Most of us struggle with saying yes to God. Moses struggled in saying yes to God and going to Pharaoh scared him. Leading God’s people frightened him. Fright will make us depend upon God, and it is good to be scared when God instructs us. 

The pondering point for us, “Will we do what God wants us to do?” The answer is always our choice. Our decision will affect our eternal rewards and others also.

Keep On Going

Scripture has a way of speaking like nothing else. That is because it is God talking. As He speaks, we would do well to listen and then implement His directions.

Jesus made an astounding statement in Matthew 11:11. “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” Think about this verse, no one, that includes all the leaders of the world and every other person. God said John was the greatest. He surpasses Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Mary, Timothy and anyone else who comes to your mind. 

This Baptister, who preached to crowds, had problems with his faith in adverse circumstances. When the Lord began His public ministry, John was in prison. He was guilty of preaching the truth. He said to Herod, the ruler, he was sinning by taking his brother’s wife (Mark 6:17,18). 

When John was in prison, He began to doubt. He was trying to settle in his mind if Jesus was the Messiah. John, like other Israelites, was expecting the Messiah to set up the Kingdom of God. John sent two of his disciples to Jesus. They asked Jesus if He was the “Coming One” (Matthew 11:3 NKJV).

The Lord did not answer their question directly. Jesus instructed John’s messengers to tell John what they had seen and heard. The Lord caused the blind to see, the lame walk… the dead raised, and the Gospel proclaimed. After these couriers left, Jesus proclaimed John was special. He proclaimed repentance when it was not popular to do so. John preached the truth regardless of who was in the audience. He remained steadfast to the Gospel. 

Now to the point. Everyone has weak moments, times of disappointments, and failures. We all have them. Afterward, it is time to ask for forgiveness, tell God you are sorry, pick yourself up, and keep on going for God. We serve a forgiving God. When He forgives, He forgets the forgiven sin. You will never be perfect on this earth in your human body. But you can ask forgiveness and keep on going for God. Do not believe the lies of Satan. He wants you to quit! God says, keep serving. Now, who are you going to believe?

Determination

Why I Do Some of the Things I Do

Hard-headed is a phrase I do not hear anymore. In my younger days, this term was common. Today, the word I hear is determination. Both have the same essence. The latter may be more socially correct. The meaning you have or practice says you are not willing to change.


How did you get that way? What makes you stand up for what you believe? Humanly speaking, it may be a wrong you suffered, and you are determined not to feel the same pain again. The result of your experience left an awful hurt in your life.

Some learn a new way to live. My Bible reading has reshaped my thinking and the way I do many things. It has made me more considerate and understanding. At the same time, it gives me the backbone to stand on God’s principles, regardless of what others may think or say about me.


Adopting Bible principles has given me a renewing determination to live the best that I can. My life is now more in line with God’s word than before. For me, it is an ever-improving revision of my thoughts and actions. God has placed within me a desire to be willing to make adjustments. He has changed my manner of living to prioritize better.

So, why does one do this? In essence, to please God. How does one do this? My simplistic answer—read the Bible. It has a way of speaking to my issues in life. It challenges and guides me in ways to improve my life and better serve Him.


Someone may say, I tried that; it didn’t enhance my life. That may be true in your present situation. God, however, has been faithfully dependable in taking care of you. The purpose of serving God is to please Him, not to get things from Him. Understanding this principle has taken many of us a good while to comprehend. Serving God is an eternal commitment and not for immediate rewards. 

Paul made this statement, “This one thing I do” (Philippians 3:13 KJV). This portion of the verse has given me a determination to serve God. In bad times and in good times. In sickness and in health. In lean times and abundant times. God is always God. Promising He will stick with us.


As in sports and life, quitters always lose out. I would rather be faithfully determined to serve God whether or not I have all my wants in life.

I know this one thing as a believer, I will stand before God and give an account of my life. That thought makes me more determined to serve Him faithfully. What about you?

Being Genuine

Genuine honesty is an admirable human characteristic. We tend to ask advice from those we trust.

Do you have someone who will be truthful with you even if it hurts? If you do, you have a true friend or family member—what a jewel. 

How does one become such an individual?


Usually, someone in your past was an actual example. Faithful to the truth. An individual who is willing to invest their life in you. One who was willing to share their time and life with you. They were investing in you. Their life spoke volumes to you. Their words may be few, but their manner of living demonstrated sincerity. 


So, how does one develop a genuineness apart from the human factor? For me, it’s the Bible, God’s Word. Many years ago, my Sunday school teacher showed me by example his love to teach God’s word to nine-year-old boys. He was genuine and honest in his calling. 

The ninth commandment says we should not tell lies. In other words, speak the truth, be genuine to the core. Looking genuine is different from being genuine. Genuineness comes from the heart. Your inner being the core of your soul. The appearance of genuineness is a façade. It looks good for a while but sooner or later the façade cracks and then crumbles.


One thing I discovered in my preteen years is liars cannot remember their lies. I found that discovery is still true today. What I also realized I never forget the truth. Truth has permanence.

Genuineness has a life—it lives on.  If you want to leave a good lasting memory—be genuine on good days and sad days. It will speak loudly in the ears of those who heard your words. It will also bring back visions of your integrity to those who watched you, whether it was near or far.


Unnoticed


The limelight is not for me. But some enjoy it. Ninety-nine percent of our world will never be known outside their immediate surroundings. Most will remain unnoticed by the world. If only one percent of the world’s population has a reputation beyond their circle of influence, there would be over seven million celebrities. How many of those can you call by name? A hundred, two hundred, how about 1000. Now, out of all those you can name, how many do you respect? Do they have character traits that you want to emulate? Are those traits the kind you wish your kids or grandkids to duplicate?

There is a food bank serving the area where I live. They give out over 30,000 meals per month. They have a paid staff which is less than five. I can only name two. Volunteers, mostly retirees, accomplish the real work. They do a tremendous work for the area, although the individuals are unknown by the community. The demand for assistance is enormous. So, they are working toward expanding their facilities to serve more people, all by donations. 

The above principle applies to the Lord’s work also. Only a few are known by name. Most are unknown, but God knows all of them. Our Lord uses the unknown saints more than the famous ones. The nameless do the little unappreciated things, but necessary things, and they are glad to do it.

We do not know Elijah’s background or his deeds before he appeared to Ahab in I Kings 17. Elijah appears suddenly out of nowhere and announced to King Ahab it would not rain for three years.

No doubt, Elijah and God were not strangers before this. The prophet had a proven track record with God. However, it is not recorded in the Bible, although the prophet’s relationship with God is highly esteemed. Elijah is one of two people in the Bible transported to heaven without dying. Would God have done that with a nobody?

We know nothing about the upbringing of Mary, the mother of Jesus. However, in her background, there had to be an unshakable dedication to God. Faith known only to God, but probably not to others or maybe just a few. She remained faithful all her life. You can find her in the Upper Room in Acts chapter one after the Lord’s ascension.Faithfulness, although unnoticed by many, is recognized by God.

Whatever your station in life, whether good or poor health, wealth or poverty, noticed or unnoticed, one thing is sure, God knows your character. He keeps track of your deeds and words. The Lord remembers every prayer. Are you praying for others, or are your prayers only for selfishness? 

One thing is sure, nothing goes unnoticed by God.