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Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NCV)

Old Preacher Story Ahead! Story is told of a little boy from the city who visited Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. As was their custom, Grandma and Grandpa, with child in tow, headed off to church on Sunday morning. On returning home Grandma walked with the little boy to the barn to check on some new lambs that had just been born. In the stall next to the lambs was a stubborn old mule. The little boy looked at the mule for some time and then asked a question. “Grandma, Is that old mule a Christian?” Puzzled by the question, Grandma responded, “Why no son, why to you ask that?” The boy responded, “Well, it has the same sad face most of the people had at church today.”

Look around you at the faces of people in church during the worship service. (Be sure not to stare…that’s creepy.) Now, I’ll admit I have a personal struggle with what we call the ‘worship’ part of our church services. I’d like to think there is worship going on but sometimes there is everything BUT worship happening. The praise team can get sucked into performance mentality; the Pastor can be so focused on what he’ll say that he forgets that his worship is far more important than his sermon notes. To others worship is the time cushion that allows late-comers to get into the chairs before the important stuff happens.

So, take a look around. What do you see? Bill and Sally must have had another fight on the way to church; they look like they are ready to bite each others head off. Grandma Jones, as usual is looking around to see who ISN’T there and you’ll be sure she mentions her findings to everyone she sees. Fred is thinking about the ballgame this afternoon. It’s obvious he’s not in tune with the music. Harry wishes we could go back to the good ole’ hymns. He misses the piano, the organ and those good old, doctrine filled songs of his youth.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. None of those examples are real people, but our faces should reflect what we have in Jesus. Whether it be in church, at the office, in the store or on the beach we should reflect our joy with the blessings we have in Christ. Those without Jesus in their lives are burdened with worries, fears, and anxiety. They are looking for an answer to the problems that plague them. They have no hope.

As Christ followers our best testimony to Christ’s love dwelling in us can be the countenance of our faces!  A simple smile or a ‘good morning’ greeting to a stranger may be all they need to make their day brighter.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for Jesus. I thank you for the love, the forgiveness, and the promises of your word and a guarantee of eternal life with you. Help me in my worship and in my daily living to reflect the love I have for you. In Jesus name, Amen.


Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

When you are in a love relationship with someone you want more than anything else to do what they want you to do. You’ll go to any lengths to know their likes and dislikes. You want to know what they are passionate about and do you best to bring that to pass.

Your Father knows your heart. He knows your every passion, your every desire, your every concern. He knows what makes you happy and content. He knows the things that cause you to worry and fill you with anxiety. He knows your deepest, most intimate secrets and he wants to bring each of them into your life.

The problem is, sometimes the things we are passionate about and desire with all of our hearts are things he knows will harm us. No loving father will give his beloved child something that will harm him. That’s not love. That’s abuse.

Your Father in Heaven is a passionate father, a passionate lover if you will. And his passion is you! He earnestly desires you give you his very best. To comfort you in the hard times. To encourage you when you are discouraged. To bring peace in despair. To hold you in illness and when you are mourning.

When we pray the words “your will be done”, what we are really asking our Father is to do his will in us. It’s like we are saying, “I know you love me more than anything. I know you want your best to be done in my life for my sake and your glory. Now, bring it to pass in me. What can I do to bring your will into my life?”

The beauty is, much of that answer has already been done. Your Father in heaven provided his Son for us to show us the way to his heart. He’s given us his Holy Spirit to guide us and give us understanding and peace. He’s given us his word, the Holy Bible, so that we will know the promises he has for us.

You may have taken some wrong paths in life. Perhaps you are in a place you don’t want to be. A place you thought you’d never find yourself. You are wondering if he wants you back, if he can even use you after all the mistakes you’ve made and the people you’ve hurt. Face it, some of those things were just plain rebellion and wanting things your way! Can he still do his will in you?

The answer is yes! God’s forgiveness is based on His passion for us, not because we deserve it in any way. May his will be done in your life.

PRAYER: Father in heaven. I thank you that you are a passionate lover and that your passion for me far exceeds my ability to deserve it. Forgive me for the times I’ve failed you and others. Empower me with your Spirit to live in such a way that your good and perfect will would be done in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12

The tiny seed is an amazing thing. When we plant our gardens we cultivate the soil and make it as easy as possible for the plant to grow. But in nature, that isn’t the case. A tiny seed floats to the ground. It falls into the smallest of crevices in the rock. Soon tiny fingers of roots emerge from the seed and take root in the rock.

Over the years, in all sorts of weather, the roots from that tiny seed continue to grow harder and stronger. The rock is no match for the tenacity of the roots. Soon, after years of struggle, a tree grows out of the sheer cliff. No cultivation. No special tools. Success comes from persistent pushing against seemingly impossible odds.

It happens over and over again in nature. Life springs from the most unlikely places all because of one small seed dropped in an unlikely spot. Sometimes the wind carries it to its resting place. Other times it hitches a ride with some unsuspecting carrier to a spot perhaps miles from its origin.

Each of us has an opportunity to be seed carriers along the path we call life. Sometimes we have opportunities to throw out those seeds intentionally. Other times our ‘seeds’ may be quite by accident.

A seed of encouragement scattered in someone’s life may result in hope. A seed of forgiveness fosters peace. A seed of appreciation brings the fruit of joy. A seed of understanding can make relief bloom. The seed of patience grows confidence.

What seeds can you spread today? Cultivation isn’t required, only willingness. Expertise isn’t needed only love, because passion beats technique every time.  When Jesus was asked the most important commandment, he gave two and both were summed up in one word: love.

The seeds of love you spread will break the driest soil, the hardest rock, the soul that has all but given up on life. It may be something as simple as a smile or a ‘thank you’. It may be something as hard as saying ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I forgive you.’ Perhaps it will be something as compassionate as, ‘I don’t agree with you, but I understand and accept you.’

Sow love today in the lives of those you come in contact with. Don’t worry about whether you thing the soil is ready. Ours is not to cause growth. Ours is to plant seeds. Seeds of love. Seeds of forgiveness. Seeds of grace. The seeds of Christ’s love that you sow today may take time to sprout, but nothing can stop them from growing.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the love you continue to show me even when I’m hardened and rebellious. I pray that you would empower me to sow seeds of your love and forgiveness to everyone I come in contact with today. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15

Preventative maintenance is important in many areas of our lives. A simple oil change can keep your car running better and longer. A few minutes of exercise everyday can keep your body healthier, your mind sharper and give you more energy for the day.

The same is true in our relationships with our spouses/significant other, our children, our families, our jobs or any other relationship we may be a part of. It’s the little things we do that keep a relationship healthy and growing. In order for relationships to be healthy they need to continue to grow. Stagnant relationships are dying relationships.

In Old Testament Palestine, vineyards were a huge part of the economy. One of the ‘predators’ for the vineyard was the fox. Small foxes would enter the vineyard at night and destroy the vines, eat the grapes and blossoms and dig up the roots. The owner of the vineyard spent much time and money to protect his vineyard from these little, but deadly enemies.

Healthy relationships are relationships where all parties involved work together to keep the little things from entering our ‘vineyard’ to damage or kill it. Most relationships don’t end like a train wreck. Train wrecks are sudden, unexpected and deadly. Relationships usually die a slow death from the inside out, like cancer, and usually happen when one or both parties involved fail to take preventative action.

The ‘little foxes’ of relationship can be something as simple as making sure you say thank you, or being brave enough to say ‘I’m sorry’ even if you aren’t totally at fault. The ‘little fox’ of sarcasm can attack the very roots of the relationship. Sarcasm is the lowest form of ‘humor’ and one of the deadliest relationship killers. Unresolved anger, guilt and emotional or physical abuse may seem like big issues in a relationship, and indeed they are. However they aren’t the main issue, they are the result of the work of little foxes.

The best protection for the vineyard of our relationships is a firm, unified relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion and going to church won’t protect your relationship any more than a sign at the entrance of the vineyard will ward off the foxes. Relationship with Jesus is much more than religion and warming the pew of some church.

Simple things like saying ‘I love you’ or, ‘I’m proud of you’, or ‘I like how you do that’ are little things that can add huge walls against the foxes of our lives. Studying the Bible together, making sure that there are no unresolved conflicts in your lives, being willing to forgive and be honest with each other and encouraging each other to use thief gifts are all ways to strengthen the bond of your relationships.

Vineyards were the life blood of the Old Testament economy just as relationships are the lifeblood in this journey we call life. Work as hard as you can to make sure the little foxes don’t enter and destroy.

PRAYER: Father, I admit to you that I’m not good at relationship. My past is full of so many foxes that I’ve never learned how to do relationship well. I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only one doing the work of relationship building. The pain of rejection and abuse keeps me back from trying anymore. Help me to build a relationship with You first so that I can build or rebuild relationships with those I love. In Jesus name, Amen.


Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:7-8

I still hear it on occasion. I heard it often while growing up. Someone is going through trouble. They are in so deep they can’t get out. For some it’s addictive behavior. For others it’s abusive behavior to themselves and/or others. Still, there are those who just seem to have adversity follow them for no reason. They struggle with health issues, broken relationships and suffer the consequences of their own irresponsible behavior.

When we see someone like this that is outside the church, the first thought that may come to our minds is, “They need to find a good church.” Don’t get me wrong. Corporately worshipping together with other Christ-followers is essential for growing as a believer. But there are two problems I have with the philosophy that going to church will solve their problems.

First of all, there are plenty of people who go to church each week ‘religiously’ who suffer from addictions, health and relational issues and doubt about God’s existence. Going to church doesn’t solve our problems, in fact, sometimes it enhances them.

Secondly, if you think about it, there was very little healing in Jesus day, that went on inside ‘church’. Healing came from Jesus during the normal routine of life when He reached out to those in need while they were in their normal environment.

When Isaiah went before the people of God in Isaiah 58, they were a people who were diligent in offering sacrifices and doing all the ‘things’ or ‘activities’ that God commanded them. The problem arose in their expectations and attitudes. The Israelites assumed that God would bless them because they did ‘all the right things’. In the mean time, people were going hungry, naked and becoming desperate in their search for comfort.

Isaiah’s message to the ‘righteous’ then was the same today. If you really want to see your faith as being relevant, put it to work! When you see someone in need do what you can to walk with them along the way. Praying for them is great, but praying and giving a hug or a warm meal or some of your extra clothes puts action to your prayers.

Building relationship with those in need makes being a Christ-follower relevant to those who see you, not just a religion.

There’s an added bonus to putting your faith into action. Isaiah says ‘your righteousness will lead you and guide you and God will be your rear guard.’ Effective enemy attack almost always comes from behind. The Bible says that Satan is like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. Lions like to sneak up from behind. When you are putting action to your faith you may be attacked, but your righteousness will help you see the attack and God will protect you in your efforts.

Don’t tell someone in need how relevant your faith is. Show them. Building relationships makes your faith more relevant to you as well as others.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven. I confess to you that so much of my walk with you is book knowledge and not action. I’m surrounded by people in spiritual, physical, relational and emotional need. I’m overwhelmed by the task. Help me to build relationships with those in my circle of influence so they know you are real and relevant and earnestly seek a relationship with them. Amen.

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