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Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Category

26When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.- Acts 9:26-28 (NIV)

At times, as Christians, we may find it difficult to fit in.  This can become very difficult to understand when you start talking about how difficult it is to fit in among believers.  You try this and you try that, but some won’t let you outlive your past.  In the very place where you seek both sanctuary and refuge, you cannot find peace or acceptance.  You struggle to be “one of the boys” or to be “in the know.” You just want to at least be accepted as a child of God.

Don’t let discouragement turn you bitter.  Do not grow sour.  Trust that God has someone planted there who can smooth out the storms.  Believe that your “Barnabas” is in the midst of all that mayhem and madness, sharing a testimony and offering a verse that will turn hearts towards sympathy and acceptance.  You pray and do your part to not give up.  God will open whatever doors He so chooses to open by His will.  You just don’t lose hope.  You just hold on.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. – Luke 18:1 (NIV)

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good shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.- John 10:11 (NCV)

Lost people need help finding their way.  They end in the wrong places because they don’t know how to find their own way.  They need someone who can help them find their way step by step and day by day.

The Good Shepherd helps the lost find their way.  He comforts them like no one else can.  He lays down His life for the sheep within His flock.  The sheep recognize His voice.  The lost sheep are in dire need of the Good Shepherd.  He offers the sheep more than any other shepherd ever can.

Lost people need help finding their way through life.  Lost people need help finding their way in church and Christian social circles.  Lost people need help finding their way to Jesus.  Once they find Jesus, lost people will have the Good Shepherd present, protecting and providing for them all the way.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me,15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.– John 10:14-16 (NCV)

 

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But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
– Jeremiah 20:9 (NASB)
Few seek to quietly endure the pain and agony that comes with being chosen by God for a special task.  Moses sought for the Lord to give it to someone else.  Elijah was at the brink of breaking down.  Peter had gone so far as to deny knowing the very Christ who he had confessed as the son of the living God.  Jonah had done it in both a physical and spiritual sense, running away from God.  Yet, when we look at Jeremiah, we see the weeping prophet ready to call it quits on God.
Jeremiah felt that he had been given a raw deal.  He felt he had been swindled or tricked.  He was not feeling it, especially after all of the ridicule and his calling becoming like a “reproach” for him.  He was done.  He had it.  He was ready to quit.
However, in the same breath of his resignation, Jeremiah found resolve.  In the midst of his departure, he discovered a new devotion to the Divine.  Right when he was ready to give in, he emerged with a way and a means by which to give more.  He could give more because of all that had been taken away from him and all that God was still willing to see him through.  Jeremiah found a way to give even more than what he cried out about losing.  He decided that he had enough within him for him to give more and more.

When you are ready to quit, dig deep. Take a moment and search the very depths of your soul for a little bit more to give.  Scrape the bottom of your well and see if you do not come up with something more to offer.  Don’t just get back in the race.  Get back in the running.
Give another sermonTeach another Sunday school classStay on as ministry leaderTrain someone else to serve in your capacity. Give more. Don’t give up. Just give a little more.

Teach Your Team to Fish: Using Ancient Wisdom for Inspired Teamwork

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Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.- Eph. 4:26

Paul shared a simple warning to those believers at Ephesus.  He advised that the Christian not let the sun go down on his or her anger.  In other words, don’t get so wrapped up in being angry that it consumes you for the remainder of the evening and into the next day.  At some point, if we are truly faithful and holding fast to the Lord, we will not let our anger lead us into sin.

The verse speaks about being angry.  It doesn’t say that you becoming angry is a sin.  I t warns for you to not allow your anger to linger to the point where it leads to sin and causes damage for the Christian and those around the Christian.  In essence, that isn’t the way that the Lord wants us to live. he wants us to live more abundantly by faith.

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13“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” – Acts 9: 13-16 (NIV)

I like the Lord’s response to Ananias in verse 15.  He does deliver an explanation first.  He delivers His expectation; “Go!” There is no long, drawn-out debate, only a deliberate directive with the Divine saying: “Go!” You get the point and God got to the point.  He simply started out by telling the man in a vision and in response to his questioning of God with an answer from the Almighty.  “Go!”

How many different ways has God told us the same thing to do? How many times has He repackaged or reshaped the same message to reach you for what He wants you to do? If your Christian journey has been anything like mine, I know that God has had to use many ways and many words to simply show me the same simple thing that He has said to me more than once.  Even when I think of the countless people He has used for confirmation, conviction and counsel for me over the years and on some of the same things, I sit back and marvel. 

God goes out of His way to use others to reach us.  He desires that we, too, become willing workers in this kingdom business. He wants us to get so worked up about what He has for us to do as His work that we become willing to go to extremes to get the work done and to get the Word out there.

Let Him work on you.  Let Him work on your willingness.  Pray for Him to work on you.  Once He has worked on you, then watch as He works through you.  You just have to get into a position where you are willing.  Once you are willing, then He can take you anywhere to do anything with you because you are simply willing to go for Him and in His name.

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Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Many times we confuse activity with action.  We think of being active- simply doing something- doing what needs to be done, although doing something may not lead to accomplishing anything productive.  Activity just means that something is taking place.  Taking action is an entirely different definition.

One definition for “activity” that works here is : any specific behavior,  while “action” is  a deed; something done or accomplished.  Given those two definitions,  it is safe to say that we need to rethink our activities and actions.  They are not synonymous at all.  As we plan our daily activities, we need to ensure that we include particular actions that need to be accomplished throughout the day rather than simply taking up time doing and vegging.  

Will your actions make a difference in the lives of broken people?
Can you see yourself becoming more missional as you become more intentional?
Will you submit to His leading and your personal calling to take action?
See where he leads you and see how it feels.
Check yourself… If God thinks you are ready for the responsibility, then maybe you should stick to praying on your relationship with God, not your decision to do it or not.

Bonhoeffer spoke of responsibility, not simply thoughts.  He was a Lutheran pastor in WWII Germany.  He spoke of readiness.  He shared this openly.  Are you ready to take personal responsibility as you take action? Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 19061945)

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I  will sing a new song to you, O God; . . .I will make music to you– Psalm 144:9 (NIV)

Poet or psalmist? Which is it? Oh, yeah… spoken word, poetry or psalms?

Today, much like in the past ages, people are caught up in titles.  They live by labels.  For some people, they are precisely who or what they think their titles say that they are to everyone else.  Even if it doesn’t fit them, they attempt to live up to the title by what they wear or drive and how they talk as well as who they hang around.  That’s just how some people go about it.

I am an author who writes poetry among other things.  As an author, I am convinced that some people will call me whatever they care to call me because of what I do.  Some will say that I am a poet, while others will simply call me a writer.  Then, as with most things, there are those folks who fully dress it all up and make it into a big deal by calling people like me: “inspirational writers” or “spiritual scribes.” The one that caused me some alarm was psalmist.  I had to do some more research before I could even stand to hear it come from another person’s lips.

Psalms are defined as “sacred song; a hymn” or ” a sacred song or poem used in worship.” Imagine one of my pieces used as a call to worship.  Or, if possible, picture a choir swaying and rocking in their elaborate and ornate robes as I clutched the mic and spit a flow of one of my more upbeat poems to a raucous drum beat with a twinkling piano and an eerie organ piped in as we praise God. Would that be a psalm? Would that make a psalmist? Or, would I still be a poet?

David and Asaph were psalmists in my mind.  Moses and Solomon were even credited with composing at least one psalm.  Marvin Sapp has a release entitled “Diary of a Psalmist” and many other gospel artists call themselves psalmists.  Even though the definitions of psalmist tend to loosely define the title as a composer or writer of a psalm, I just can’t see myself using the title.  If someone called me a psalmist, would I stop in the midst of praise and worship to correct them with my personal reservations about why I don’t prefer to be called one? No.  I don’t have a lot of time for that.  Would I refer them to this post to get my opinion or views on the title? No.  I will just praise Him and keep on praising Him as a poet, writer, author or psalmist.  No matter what they call it, I call it praise, worship and expressive joy.

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Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… – Psalm 107:2

The Book of Psalms has been referred to as the prayer book of the Bible as well as the scriptural praise and worship guidebook.  The American Bible Society considers the 150 entries in Psalms as “prayers and hymns.” Psalms are literally sacred songs or poems, even hymns.  Essentially, every time that we look into Psalms, we need to understand that someone was expressing how they felt, what they came to realize or observe about God, or to help boost the spirits of others such as the poor, the afflicted, the needy, and those with broken hearts and spirits.

Psalm 107 has been debated when it comes to authorship, whether it is a  Davidic psalm or not, but its authenticity is without question.  The psalm opens with an exclamation: Oh give thanks to the Lord (v. 1).  In fact, it does not just open up with an exclamation.  It offers a twofold rationale for such a claim.  The author says: A) for He is good and B) for His lovingkindness is everlasting (v. 1).  It echoes similarities to: Psalm 33:3’s Sing to him a new song, Psalm 22:23’s You who fear the Lord, praise him!, and Psalm 34:3’s Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.  The reasoning and rationale for such praise and worship for the Lord stems from our relationship with Him and stirs up a response out of us towards Him.  Comparatively, Psalm 96:8 speaks of giving God the glory due to His name- who He is- and bringing an offering.  In essence, our worship comes from our hearts and work through our mouths, hands and feet by dancing, lifting up holy hands, and

I say praise Him.  Praise Him for who He is to you.  Praise Him for what He has done for you.  Praise Him for what He did not allow to happen.  Praise Him!

You don’t need a worship leader to stir you up.  The Holy Spirit has already started on you.  Be certain to stay in your Bible, especially Psalms.  If you can’t seem to find a way to lift your spirits for praise and worship, even that ye old Baptist midweek Bible study and prayer meeting, I suggest going back to Psalms.  Dig in and get built up.  Dive into it and experience newfound joy.  Let the words speak to you, but don’t let them speak for you.  Write your own poems, songs and “psalms.” Praise God with your own expressiveness through words. 

Praise Him in your own words.  Praise Him in your own way.  Praise Him on your own. Praise Him!

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When Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her to go back.
– Ruth 1:18 (CEV)

Determination can get more than your foot in the door.  Your determination can keep you on board.  It can prove how vital that you are to the team or the cause.  It can cause someone to see you in a different light, especially family.

Naomi had lost her husband and her sons in a foreign land.  She had heard that the Lord had blessed her kinsmen back home.  She was determined to go back home. And what about the wives of her dead sons? She urged them to go back to their people and their own gods.

Oprah went back to her homeland.  Ruth stuck with Naomi.  Naomi continued to urge Ruth to go back home, but young woman insisted that she stay with Naomi, even unto death.

When Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her to go back.

If you demonstrate determination, your mother-in-law may even be caused to stop in her tracks and rethink how she viewed you previously.  All of those preconceived notions may go out of the window when you are viewed as someone who is determined and demonstrates it in a way that isn’t viewed as disrespectful or outright rude.  Do your best to demonstrate determination.  Watch how others change their approach when they see your determined stance.

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70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
72 With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand.
Psalm 78:70-72 ESV

God does something miraculous with us. He uses imperfect people to accomplish the glorious work of His perfect plan.  Imagine that.  He uses whoever He chooses.

He chose David…

God Chooses Us
The choice is God’s, not ours.  He is open and honest when He states that His ways are not like our ways.  In fact, He clearly states that His ways are above ours.  God is autonomous.  He is God Almighty without our help.

…and took him from the sheepfolds…he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people

God Moves Us
God moves us from where He has us to where he wants us.  When you get a chance, check out Jonah’s story.  Jonah tried to get away as far from God’s determined destination for as possible, but God got him right where He wanted him.  God will move us.  He can move us like He did David and place us in a privileged and predestined position.  He can move us.

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

God Uses Us
God used David to accomplish much through his livelihood and his life.  Even some of David’s stumbles and snafus led to him crafting beautiful psalms that resonate with hearts and souls today.  David was used by God.  God uses individuals who don’t have the right resume or the perfect portfolio.

God uses whoever He chooses.

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