Tag Archives: Encouraging

3 Take-Aways from Psalm 121

It was a dangerous road. Traveling the road was nerve-racking, and most travelers were filled with anxiety as they made the journey up this road. It was the road going up to Jerusalem, and there were many obstacles which could interrupt a pilgrim’s trip. The road was filled with twists and turns. Cliffs and caves lined the road adding to the danger.

Accidently stumbling could send a traveler head-first over a cliff. The caves made wonderful hiding places for wild animals and robbers to await an unsuspecting victim. The road was dangerous, but it was an essential passageway in Israel.

Does it seem like life is the road to Jerusalem? It is filled with twists and turns; there are many obstacles waiting for the opportunity to interrupt our journey. Financial struggles, losing a job, being forced to move, or navigating through life with an ever-changing eyesight may all be on our journey. Anxiety and lack of confidence may be ever-present struggles on our journey as we wake each day wondering how we will get through that day. Yet the Lord is with us just like He was with the Israelites traveling to Jerusalem. We can find great confidence in the timeless truth of Psalm 121.

This Psalm was written for the Israelites to recite as they traveled the road to Jerusalem and offers us great encouragement. Here are 3 take-aways from the Psalm.

1. Our help comes from the Lord.

We are reminded to look past the obstacles interrupting life to the source of our help.

Verses 1-2 say, “I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth.”

2. The Lord never takes a break.

The Lord is willing to help us 24/7. He doesn’t take a break.

Verse 4 says, “Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”

3. The Lord will still be with us tomorrow.

The Lord doesn’t help us today, then walk away. He will still be with us tomorrow.

Verse 8 says, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go. Both now and forever.”

Acting

The road of life is filled with twists and turns. There are many obstacles waiting to disrupt our journey; they desire to overwhelm and discourage us, but Psalm 121 reminds us the Lord is on the journey with us. The next time life is interrupted, try reciting this Psalm.

Have a friend who may be encouraged by this post? Please share it with him or her.

 

Not Home

“This is my temporary home. It’s not where I belong.”

Music is a messenger for the Lord’s message, and the message is often absorbed by the listener without realizing it. The message is interwoven in lyrics which capture our attention and grab our hearts. Temporary Home, by Carrie Underwood, is a powerful deliverer of the Lord’s message.

The song reminds us where we are now is only a temporary home. It is not a permanent stop; we’re passing through on the way to our permanent home.

2 Corinthians 5:1 says, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in Heaven not built by human hands.”

This verse helps you and I realize we are not home. Notice we are living in the temporary, a tent, now, and it will be replaced with the permanent, a building, in the future. What we experience now is only temporary.

2 Corinthians 5 continues, “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed but clothed instead with our Heavenly dwelling. So that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

This is our temporary home. It’s not where we belong. Our permanent home, the one where we belong, will be in the future. We can look forward to it.

BUY Temporary Home at Amazon

Check out 4 Exciting Facts about Heaven.

By the way, if you are like me and enjoy reading, you might be interested in Kindle Unlimited. You can read millions of eBooks plus listen to thousands of audio books for one low monthly price. It’s a great way to read.

You can also borrow thousands of Kindle titles with an Amazon Prime membership. Prime members have instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows and free two-day shipping on Amazon orders. You can try it free for 30 days. You can cancel anytime.

 

 

Today Counts

The people were grumbling; they believed the lie the goal was too big. They did not understand how the Lord was going to help them. The obstacles standing in the way blocked their vision. Quickly forgetting how the Lord helped them previously, Israel did not believe they could move forward. They were stuck in the lie they were telling themselves, so they rebelled.
They grumbled against God and Moses. Their grumbling resulted in another 40 years wondering in the desert. Their grumbling also resulted in Moses pinning the words of Psalm 90.
This psalm reminds us today counts.
In verse 12, Moses requests, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.”
What you and I do today counts. The steps we take, decisions we make, and the direction we go counts. Time is fleeting, so we need to make the most of every moment.
What are we going to do today? Good stewards of time do not waste it. They execute in the moments they possess to fulfill their purpose. Each day counts in fulfilling our purpose, and when finished, Psalm 90 reminds us a difference for the Lord should be made.
“Let us, your servants, see you work again. Let our children see your glory. And may the Lord God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful,” Moses requests in verses 16-17.
You and I should invest our time in things that will have a lasting impact. Be a friend or a mentor. Work on a project which will outlast us. Completing our calling will leave a legacy, so we must not fall into the trap of believing we cannot do it.
A generation of Israel fell into this trap and missed possessing the promised land. If they would have believed they could possess the land with the Lord’s help, they would have taken the land just as the Lord promised.
If you and I believe we can leave a legacy, we will with the Lord’s help. Every day counts, so be intentional. What are we going to do today?

Fishermen are Team Players

If you’ve played a team sport, you’ve probably heard a coach say, “There’s no I in team,” or “Nowhere in team does it say me.” Teamwork is essential for success. Teammates must work together for the greater good of the team. Ego and self-centeredness must be set aside, and when the team succeeds, everyone on the team looks good. Members benefit from the team’s success.
Jesus understood the importance of teamwork, which is why he called fishermen. Fishermen are team players; they know how to work together.
Fishing, in Jesus’ day, was hard work. It required much manual labor. Manually pulling in a net full of fish took hard work. Everyone on the boat worked together to pull in the net. The crew worked together to pull in the net; the team worked together to achieve their goal. They did not allow one person to do all the work. Here’s an example.
The disciples had fished all night, but they had caught nothing. Jesus instructed Simon to put down the nets once more, and the nets were filled with fish and began to tear. Simon and the others on his boat were working hard, but they needed more help.
“A shout for help,” according to Luke 5:7, “brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.”
A shout for help brought out the whole team. The fishermen on the shore didn’t stand at a distance watching the others struggle. They went to work helping pull in the nets. The moment was right to catch fish, and the fishermen had to work as a unit to get the abundant catch into the boats. The fishermen had to work together as a team, and teamwork is a characteristic Jesus desired.
Teamwork is still a characteristic the Lord desires today. As Christians, Scripture calls you and I to work together to achieve a common goal. Our Goal is extending the Lord’s invitation of grace to the world. Achieving this goal requires teamwork, and in his grace, the Lord has equipped you and me to play our part on the team.
“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well, so if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is encouraging others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously, and if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
The Bible reminds us we have a part to play, and our part is different than everyone else’s. Our role on the team is unique like us, and our role matters. The Lord desires teamwork.
And remember, your role is vital to the Lord’s team achieving the goal.

Listening to the Coach

“My wife says I don’t listen,” a husband remarked, “or at least I think that’s what she said. I really wasn’t listening.”

Listening is a valuable, and sometimes, difficult skill.

We live in a noisy world. Many messages and ideas are clamoring for an audience, and it is difficult to tune in and listen. Distractions try to grab our attention while we’re listening, and it can be a struggle. Listening is vital to success though, so it is a skill you and I must continually sharpen.

No matter the goal, listening will be a part of achieving it. Colleagues must listen to one another to complete a project. A salesperson can only identify a customer’s needs if he or she listens. A husband can only understand his wife’s needs if he listens. A wife can only understand her husband’s dreams if she listens. In a deafening stadium, a team can only hear the play if they listen to the coach.

 

Teams must listen to the coach. Someone must call plays and send the team in the right direction, and success is found when the team listens. Listening is an essential skill for success.

Jesus understood the importance of listening, which is why he called fishermen. Fishermen know how to take orders. They know how to listen to the coach.

Fishermen know how to listen to the coach.

Jesus called fishermen to be his disciples because they knew how to listen. He would offer instruction or direction, and the disciples would go to work without questioning his authority. Here are 3 examples.

1. Simon and Andrew responded immediately to Jesus.

Mark 1:18 says, “When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, at once they left their nets and followed him.”

Simon and Andrew responded immediately to Jesus. Some situations require an immediate response to instructions.

2. The nets were put down after a fishless night.

Luke 5:4-6 records, “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Now go out where it is deeper, and let down the nets to catch some fish.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing, but if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.’ And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear.”

The disciples performed an action because Jesus gave a direction. I’ve often wondered how this account would be different if the fishermen had delayed in lowering the nets. Simon and his team lowered the nets simply because Jesus said to put them down.

3. A fishless night ended when the disciples placed the net on the opposite side of the boat.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples at the end of a fruitless night of fishing.

“He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish,” according to John 21:5-6.

Listening yielded great results. Jesus called fishermen because they knew how to listen to the coach.

The fishermen Jesus called were not dumb; they were not puppets reacting at the pull of a string. They understood when it was appropriate to ask questions and when it was necessary to just act. As fishermen, they understood sometimes the difference between failure and success is the width of the boat and the time it takes to get to the other side. Listening was a characteristic Jesus desired.

Take time to listen.

Listening is still a desired characteristic. It is okay to ask questions and try to understand methodology, but sometimes, it is vital to simply listen to the Lord.

  • Proverbs 1:5 advises, “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance.”
  • In Psalm 46:10, the Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

We live in a world filled with noise and chatter, which makes it hard to listen. However, victory can come through listening to the Lord.

One way to sharpen this skill is scheduling a noise and distraction free time each day. Use the time to read Scripture and pray. The quiet will provide an opportunity to hear what the Lord is saying.

Listening is also vital for successful relationships. Here are 10 steps to effective listening, which may help sharpen your skills.

Fishermen were good listeners, and listening is a valuable characteristic.

Acting

How good of a listener are you? Take a small step today to sharpen your listening skills. It may be turning off distractions while reading, putting down your phone when someone is talking with you, or slowing your pace to absorb what is being said. Share the steps you are taking to become a better listener in the comments below.

Know someone who would benefit from this post? Please share it.

 

Why Fishermen? They Can Relate.

“I don’t think I’m going to go to church any longer,” Beth told her mom from the passenger’s seat. The two were pulling out of the church’s parking lot after attending a Sunday morning service. Beth, a college Sophomore, was home for the weekend, and her mom, Vicki, thought it would be nice if the two attended a church service.

Beth went on to explain, “It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I do; I believe God exists. I’m just not sure God is in there with those people.”

Vicki replied, “Yeah, I see what you are saying. I wonder that too.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus called fishermen? Jesus would have had his pick of people to call, and he chooses to call fishermen. He did not call scholars, individuals well versed in the Old Testament, or religious leaders; 7 of the first 12 disciples were fishermen. Jesus called them because they possessed characteristics, he found desirable. Jesus called fishermen because they were relatable.

Fishermen are relatable.

Jesus spent most of his time outside the synagogue, and the religious leaders would often become upset because of the class of people around him.

Luke 15:1-2 says, “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus was relatable, and he called fishermen. They were also relatable. Fishermen were hard working, had families to support and bills to pay, and could easily relate to the stresses of everyday life. The fishermen Jesus called didn’t completely understand the Bible or everything taking place, but they could relate to the people who came.

As word concerning Jesus spread, people from all walks of life came to hear his message and accept his invitation of grace. Most people who came to hear Jesus were ordinary folks. They were fishermen, tax collectors, shop owners, government officials; they were moms and dads. They were individuals who had to work today to eat tomorrow. And the fishermen, turned disciples, could relate.

Christians need to be relatable.

Beth and Vicki were struggling because they did not feel they related to the people at church, and maybe the people at church did not feel like they could relate to Beth and Vicki; however, a relationship fostered outside the church walls might reveal lots of common ground. Christians, in many ways, are like the fishermen.

As word concerning Jesus still spreads, it is still ordinary folks who come to hear his message and accept his invitation of grace. Those coming are assembly line workers, customer service representatives, administrative professionals, salespeople; those coming are moms and dads and their families. They desire to find someone who relates to them; someone who has bills to pay and understands the stresses of life.

God called us because we are those people. We are the people who can relate. We are the ordinary folks. We are the friends and neighbors who can relate.

You may feel you have nothing to offer, but you do.

You may feel you have no insight to give, but you do.

You may feel like your story cannot encourage or inspire anyone, but it does.

You and I are relatable to the people around us, and we are how they see the Lord. Jesus didn’t call fishermen because they were experts; he called them because they could relate to people. You and I don’t have to be experts; you and I just need to be ourselves.

Acting

Be intentional with your relationships today. Allow someone to relate to the Lord through you today. It may be through a kind word, generous act, or simple and polite interaction.

Know someone who may benefit from this post? Please share it with him or her.

By the way, if you are like me and enjoy reading, you might be interested in Kindle Unlimited. You can read millions of eBooks plus listen to thousands of audio books for one low monthly price. It’s a great way to read.

You can also borrow thousands of Kindle titles with an Amazon Prime membership. Prime members have instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows and free two-day shipping on Amazon orders. You can try it free for 30 days. You can cancel anytime.

Offering Grace

She’s on a journey to forgive her rapist.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

These are certainly attention-grabbing headlines, and they start telling the stories of horrific pain and tremendous loss, but they do more. We are not only captivated by the heart wrenching tragedy but the victim’s response.

Each of these stories is an incredible illustration of grace. Each victim offers forgiveness to an individual who did the unthinkable. In turn, serving as an illustration to us.

As Christians, we are encouraged to offer forgiveness, and C. S. Lewis says, “Everyone believes forgiveness is a grand idea until he has something to forgive.” Forgiving can be one of the hardest things you and I are asked to do, but it can also be one of the most liberating.

I’m far from perfect, and I do not have this part of the Christian journey completely figured out. I was encouraged to explore it some more by these stories, and I hope you are as well.

She’s on a journey of forgiveness after rape.

Beverly had a supposed friend who worked for the state. He requested some of her time, and they scheduled an appointment. Entering Beverly’s home under the façade of needing her time, the man took much more than her time; he raped her.

He successfully denied and covered up the act, and he continued to move up the political ladder. Beverly would see him on the news, encounter him at parties, and would be upset.

Two years after the rape, Beverly met a friend who told her of Christ’s forgiveness and protection. Beverly decided to accept Christ’s invitation of grace and begin the journey of maximizing Christ in her life and healing from the hurt caused by the rapist. The Journey may not be completed, but it is started. Beverly’s story is told in Facing Your Giants.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

Victoria Ruvolo was on her way home in November 2004. She was returning home after attending a family member’s recital, and it was late, and driving was a little difficult because of the freezing rain. The car she was about to pass may have caught her attention, but she doesn’t remember. The teenage boy hanging out the window may have caught her attention, but again, she does not remember. Nor does she remember seeing the 20-pound frozen turkey the boy was holding in his hand.

The boy launched the turkey at Victoria’s car, smashing her windshield, bending the steering wheel inward, and breaking every bone in her face. Victoria’s face suffered extensive damage and had to be completely restructured.

It took an 8-hour surgery and 3-week hospital stay to even begin the road to recovery. While Victoria was recovering, the wheels of justice were spinning, and the public was voicing outrage at the crime.

Fast forward to August 2005 and enter the court room. The young man who launched the turkey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received a sentence of 6 months behind bars, 5 years’ probation, community service, and counseling. The lenient sentence is given at the request of Victoria.

She too was in the court room, and after the hearing, Victoria and the young man came face to face. Both sobbing, Victoria said, I forgive you. I want your life to be all it can be.” The pain and agony caused to Victoria was met with grace and mercy. Victoria’s story is told in Captured by Grace.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

In October 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and ordered the teacher, teacher’s assistant, and boys to leave. The 10 girls in the class were left alone with the gunman. He covered the windows and was planning for a long siege, but as state police officers surrounded the schoolhouse, he shot the girls and killed himself. 5 girls died, and the other 5 were severely wounded. This was not the only part of the story which made headlines though.

The Amish community publicly forgave the gunman. They befriended the gunman’s wife and children. Marie Monville, the gunman’s wife, recalls to CNN the community showered her family with gifts. They waived at her on the way to the bus stop, and they even attended her husband’s funeral. The families, who were victims of a heinous and unthinkable act, offered grace. Monville tells her story in One Light Still Shines.

Acting

As I mentioned, I do not have forgiveness completely figured out. The individuals in these stories are true illustrations of offering grace to one another, and they encourage me to explore offering forgiveness. I hope they do you as well.

Join me in learning the act of forgiveness and experiencing the liberation it brings.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it encouraging.

 

10 Practical Ways to Imitate Compassion

His occupation is beggar, and he has secured a prime spot. The road he sits beside each day is heavily traveled, and it is one of the best spots to be a beggar. He hears the stories about Jesus as he sits there; the stories of Jesus healing people and performing all kinds of miracles, and he wonders if Jesus could help him.

One day the traffic is unusually heavy. At first, he thinks it will be a large collection day. All those people in town would result in much more given. It turns out it is an extraordinary day. Jesus is in town, and now is his shot.

So, Bartimaeus starts shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him. People around him tell him to shut up, but he shouts more until Jesus hears him.

Jesus stops, calls Bartimaeus, and heals his eye condition. Jesus has compassion on him.

We live in a world filled with hurt. There is much need for compassion, and the Lord is compassionate. We are encouraged to imitate his compassion, so here is the picture of what we are to imitate and practical ways we can be imitators. Here are a few more times Jesus demonstrates his compassion.

The Lord is compassionate.

Luke 7 records Jesus and his disciples entering a town. As they were approaching the gate, a dead man was being carried out. The man’s mother, a widow, was following him overwhelmed with sorrow. Luke says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.” He was so moved by compassion it drove him to action. Jesus raised her son.

Mark 1:40-42 records a man with leprosy coming to request help from Jesus. Mark tells us Jesus was moved by the situation. Jesus became angry at the man’s situation. He was not angry with the man, but the man’s situation. He healed the man, and Mark says, “immediately, the man’s leprosy left him. Jesus was so moved by compassion that it drove him to action.

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for folks. His compassion drives him to action. It drives him to do something about their situation. When Jesus sees people hurting, he takes steps to help them.

So what?

We are encouraged to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion.

Luke 6:36 says, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”

Acting

Here are 10 practical ways you and I can show compassion.

  1. Pray for those in need.
  2. Volunteer at a food pantry.
  3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  4. Provide transportation to a neighbor in need.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or a prescription for a neighbor who has difficulty getting out of her home.
  6. Volunteer with a relief organization to do local projects.
  7. Check on a neighbor to make sure he is doing okay during an extreme weather event.
  8. Try to have a conversation with someone who seems lonely.
  9. Send a card or encouraging note to a friend you know is struggling.
  10. Offer a bit of grace to someone.

How are you going to show compassion today?

What are some other ways we can show compassion?

Share in the comments below, and if you know someone who would find this post encouraging, please share it.

 

Lurking Monsters Don’t Live Under the Bed

“I keep my faith intact. Make sure my prayers are said. Cause I’ve learned the monsters ain’t the ones beneath the bed.”

I love how the Lord’s message can be wrapped in the lyrics of a song. For me, it has a way of grabbing my attention and driving home a point.

Monsters by Eric Church is one such song.

BUY the album Desperate Man at Amazon

The song reminds us there are “monsters” lurking for an opportune time to ambush us. Every mistake cannot be avoided. You and I will mess up, but the Lord will be there to help us. We should keep our faith intact and our prayers said to defeat the “monsters” that do not live beneath the bed.

Jesus Can Take the Wheel

“Save me from this road I’m on. Jesus, take the wheel.”

Song lyrics have the power to cut right to our heart, and the Bible’s message of forgiveness can be place in lyrics without us realizing we are hearing it. Here is one such song.

BUY Jesus, Take the Wheel at Amazon

Jesus, Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood reminds us it is never too late for a fresh start. Forgiveness is always there for us. The Lord is not going to run out of grace. A new start is always offered to us.

Perhaps it’s time for a new start. This may be the first time, or it may be fresh start number 100; there is no limit to the number of fresh starts you and I can make. Love is patient and kind. It keeps no record of wrongdoing, so God is patient and kind. He keeps no record of wrongdoing.

The start number is not important. Our past is back there, and we must leave it. Now is what matters, that we make this the start which sticks. Today’s choices will chart tomorrow’s course and determine our destination.

The young lady in the song prayed, “Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hand. I can’t do this on my own. Save me from this road I’m on.” If this is you crying out, God promises he will.