Need Encouragement?

Need Encouragement?

This has been a hard nearly two years. I’m tired. You may be as well. Constant trouble generally leads to physical fatigue and, often, spiritual fatigue. 

God’s word speaks to us about this, and shows us what to do to be encouraged.

David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Samuel 30:6

“Strengthened” is sometimes translated “encouraged.” David encouraged himself in Yahweh his God.

How do we encourage ourselves in the Lord? Here are seven sources:

God. God is a God of mercy, compassion, and lovingkindness. And you, if you have put your belief and trust in Christ, are His adopted child. You are sealed for eternity. Remember who He is and what who you are to Him.

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement… (Romans 15:5

Christ. He died so that we may live. He constantly intercedes for us. He overcame the world so we can be of good cheer through this trouble. We are His family, His friends. Remember who He is and what you are to Him. 

The Holy Spirit. Because we have received Christ as Savior and Lord, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and guiding us to all righteousness. Remember who He is and what you are to Him.

The Scriptures. Read. Study. Meditate on God’s word. 

Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  (Romans 15:4

Prayer. Pray for yourself. Ask others to pray for you (e.g., James 5:13). And pray for others as well.

Church. Be in a good church where you hear excellent exposition of God’s word, have godly leaders and can seek wisdom and advice.

Fellowship. Be in a community of believers. Have mature Christian friends. Be a friend to others. (e.g., Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

… that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.(Romans 1:12

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Father, please help us grasp who You are and what we are to You. Please help us understand that You are sovereign over everything and everybody all the time, and that You bring good out of whatever happens in the lives of believers. Please give us mature Christian friends, and, likewise, help us be friends of others. Help us pray. Thank You for Your word. Help us walk in a manner worthy of You.

Forget Not His Benefits

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits. (Psalm 103:1–2

This Thanksgiving, let’s resolve to forget not His benefits.

Psalm 103 has a starter list:

            He pardons all your iniquities.

            He heals all your diseases.

            He redeems your life from the pit.

            He crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.

            He satisfies your years with good things.

            Yahweh performs righteous deeds, and judgments for all who are oppressed.

And more!

You and I have our own lists of God’s benefits, both spiritual and earthly. I urge you, this Thanksgiving, to spend time remembering His benefits to you.

And be grateful.

TODAY is Part of His Glorious Plan!

Sunrise at home

God, Almighty God, through His providence, works all things according to His purpose, after the counsel of His will. 

We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.  (Ephesians 1:11)

Whatever is in your life today is part of His glorious plan.  Whatever.

Although we are responsible for our sins, for our own thoughts, words, and deeds, God uses them to accomplish His plan. (For example: Genesis 50:20)

We (Christians) have the enormous privilege of being adopted by God (Ephesians 1:5), friends of Christ (John 15:14-15), siblings of Christ (Matthew 12:50), indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), and serving our Lord (Ephesians 6:5-8).

We know that, for His children, He promises to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Think about it!

We are beloved of God and part of His glorious plan. Whatever comes into our lives is controlled by God and will be used for our good and His glory. 

Let’s rejoice!

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Father, help us rejoice in Your Almighty, loving sovereignty. Help us be alert to how we might serve and glorify You this day.

Are You Teachable?

A college basketball coach said many “sand lot” players had extraordinary skills, but that only some were coachable, and that only the ones who were coachable would play in college.

What a shame to lose developing that talent. They limited their futures from refusal to learn, failure to be coachable, inability to be teachable.

Unteachable people are found in both secular and spiritual arenas: Leaders who are derailed from inability to learn and/or apply; Athletes who don’t listen to their coaches and cannot get to the next level; “Ordinary” Christians who don’t grow. 

The Bible has examples of the unteachable and the teachable.

The Unteachable

But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. (Acts 7:57

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.  (Proverbs 26:12

How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!  (Proverbs 5:12–13

The Teachable

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.  (Acts 17:11

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16

Learn and Apply

Knowledge of the Bible is necessary, but not sufficient, to walk according to the Spirit. We must apply what the Lord teaches us. 

We must not be wise in our own eyes, but humble. Humility is essential to learn.

In humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.  (James 1:21

We must apply what we learn.

Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:22)

When we see something wrong in ourselves, and we will, we must accept reproof, confess, and prayerfully work to change.

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. … If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.  (1 John 1:8, 10

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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Father, please help us be teachable. Help us desire to know Your word and apply it. Please help us be willing to accept Your reproof. Help us be humble, not wise in our own eyes.

Hated?

Someone I know had trouble with her freshman college roommates. She didn’t drink or run around and her roommates found that disgusting! The fact that she didn’t criticize them wasn’t enough. She didn’t do what they did. She wasn’t one of them.

In that situation, I think the roommates were appalled by her Christian beliefs and behavior. 

We shouldn’t be surprised if we (Christians who are walking according to the Spirit) are unacceptable to the world. Hated by the world.

He who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked. (Proverbs 29:27)

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:15–16

If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:19

Hang on!

Don’t be surprised. Be alert and ready.

Without compromising her Christian walk, she couldn’t make herself acceptable to her roommates. She just needed to stay faithful to the Lord.

God distinguishes between believers and those who have rejected Him. (1 Peter 2:6–8)

God promises to work all things together for our (Christians’) good. (Romans 8:28). 

Better times are coming! 

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4

Press on!

The Hard Messy Middle

We are in the hard messy middle between salvation from sin’s penalty and being saved from the presence of sin.

We are learning how to walk according to the Holy Spirit and to reject living like the world. We are in the process of being saved from the power of sin.

The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat this. We are promised trouble, not ease.

We must determine to live a godly life in the messy middle

Our goal is to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, worthy of God, worthy of our calling. (Ephesians 4:1, Colossians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:12)

We must realize we are in a battle and determine to fight. (2 Timothy 4:7)

We should also know we have what it takes. (See Equipped for Purpose)

How can we live a godly life in this hard messy middle?

The Bible is full of commands about how to liv a godly life in the hard messy middle

Train yourself (1 Timothy 4:7)

Resist the devil (James 4:7)

Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13)

We must know it is hard work

We are in a battle. We must struggle against the powers, the world forces of this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness. (Ephesians 6:12)

We will learn how to fight evil as we follow our Lord’s instructions. We will get better at it over time a we obey.

Press on

We won’t arrive, but determine to press on. (Philippians 3:12-14)

See Becoming a Child of God

Began and Ends with Joy

The World Began with Joy

When God made the world, there was singing and shouts of joy.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  (Job 38:4–7)

The World Ends with Joy

Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him. (Revelation 19:6–7)

Joy In Between

We are in the period in between the joy of the beginning and the joy of the end.

Whatever our difficulties, Christ came that our joy may be full, as we look to Him, and to the joy of heaven.

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.  (John 15:11)

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)

Joy Now is our Goal

Let’s determine to rejoice now.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

But How?

Being able to rejoice in the Lord always is something we need to learn.

The first step is a steadfast determination that rejoicing always is our goal.

I’ll be reading and praying about “How?” in the coming days. Stay tuned.

And if you have tips, let me know!

Press on!

Equipped for Purpose

Harry Durgin Facebook; Kilauea Eruption, September 2021

God didn’t just throw us into the world, saying: “Sink or swim.”

We were created on purpose. We are where we are on purpose. We are given work to do.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10

He equipped, and is equipping us

We have what it takes

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3)

When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  (John 16:13

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrews 13:20–21

We’re being perfected

It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13

We’re being equipped by others

Certain gifts were given to Christians “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:12

We can do the work God has prepared for us!

We Are Responsible

Doing God’s work God’s way is not automatic

We are equipped, but we must learn to walk according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh. (Romans 8:4)

We must study God’s word in order to be equipped

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

We are to help others

Not only are we being equipped, part of our purpose to help others.

Gifts are given to every Christian  

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  (1 Peter 4:10

We are to press on!

Thrilling

This is thrilling, encouraging, comforting. God not only knows exactly our circumstances (since He put us here), but He has prepared us to do the works He intends. We are prepared to serve Him in our circumstances, with the challenges that come our way.

Thank You, Father! 

Partiality Is Sin

God doesn’t look at outward appearances, but at the heart.

God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7

God’s standards are always the same. It doesn’t matter whether you are Jew or Gentile, your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your income, your looks. What matters is your soul; your heart.

Our standard is to be God’s standard. We are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. We are to act as Christ acts. We are to be impartial.

Partiality is fundamentally inconsistent with being a Christian.

If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:9)

Personal Story

Many years ago, I picked up a hitchhiker. On the way to church, I drove by someone thumbing a ride. After a block, I felt an overwhelming urge, that seemed to be from the Lord, to go back and pick him up. (I never pick up hitchhikers, and I am not suggesting that you do. But I was convinced–and still am–that the Lord wanted me to.)

He said, “You drove by before, didn’t you?” I told him I was on my way to church and that I thought the Lord tell me to go back and pick him up. Well! He said he’d just become a Christian! I invited him to church, but he said, “I just got off work and I’m really dirty.” I told him it wouldn’t matter. So he came to church with me.

We ended up sitting in different spots, and when I looked for him after the service, he was surrounded by smiling church members.

I was reminded of that today as I read James 2. We are not to show personal favoritism. If we show partiality, we are sinning. 

I am so grateful for those godly church members.

Watch out

I’m determined to watch for, and eliminate, partiality in myself. 

On Purpose

God created us on purpose.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27

God gave our mothers conception for us to be born at this time, in this place.

And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth… (Ruth 4:13

The Lord had closed her womb. (1 Samuel 1:6

God created us for His good pleasure.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16

God created work for us to do.

This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent. (John 6:29

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep … (Acts 13:36

We are, on purpose, to glorify God.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31

Our times may be challenging, but we are here, right now, on purpose.

Remember the statement to Esther:

And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14

That is true for us. We were created (and prepared) for such a time as this.

Let’s praise God for our opportunities to serve and glorify Him. 

Let’s realize He is with us and for us and will never leave us.

If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31)

Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20

This is exciting!

Let’s press on with purpose and joy.