Encouragement

May 4, 2020

Proverbs 11:25

25  Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

This week we are looking at encouragement.

As I began to research the various topics to include in these devotions, some of them were no-brainers. You can’t build a life upon the teachings of Christ without practicing forgiveness. You can’t expect God to forgive your own sin if you are not willing to confess your sin to Him and to the people you have sinned against, so therefore confession is foundational to building a life on Christ. Without faith it is impossible to please God, so trust is essential to a believer’s life and is foundational to building a house upon the rock. Those three topics were fairly easy to see.

But what about encouragement? Is this a foundational truth? Sometimes we think of encouragement as being a nice addition to the life of a believer… icing on the cake for a child of God, something that would be nice to engage in but certainly not necessary to building a life upon the rock of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps generosity and giving would be the foundational truth, certainly love is foundational to following Jesus. Gaining knowledge and wisdom are necessary parts of our spiritual growth as are good deeds and compassionate care for other people. Maybe there are hundreds of foundations that must be included as we build a life upon the commandments of Jesus and the truths found in His word?

Maybe the command to encourage on one another covers them all? How do you encourage? Giving is encouragement… you can’t give without the desire to encourage. Love must be expressed in order to be genuine and if I love I will encourage the people I love. But in order to do all that I will have to know what the word of God teaches, I will have to apply it to my own live in order to be an example of a Christ follower. I will have to grow spiritually and exhibit my love with good deeds and compassion towards others and all these things fall under the category of encouragement.

And when you become an encourager and live a life of encouragement you not only bless the people around you but you are blessed you in the process.

Solomon presents this truth quite remarkably in Proverbs 11:25 when he says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched”

The Hebrew word translated “blessing” in the ESV and translated “liberal” in the KJV is the word “berakah.” This word means to verbally acknowledge God’s blessing as it relates to the people and events of the day with an encouraging prayer.

“Blessed is the Lord who created sunshine and allowed us to enjoy it today” would be an example of a berakah. “Bless the Lord of all wisdom and knowledge who has given you a sound mind and has allowed you to graduate with honors” is an example of a berakah. The berakah was intended to remind people of God’s love and care for us and to encourage us to live bold, courageous lives for God. The berakah focused on the good things of God as an encouragement to enjoy life to the fullest.

Solomon says the soul that delivers a blessing to others, will himself be encouraged.



Fear Not

May 1, 2020

Matthew 6:25–34

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

 Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This week we have been talking about what it means to trust God. 365 times the Bible records the phrase “fear not” or similar statements like “be not afraid” or “why do you fear.” Why is this message given so often? Because we are fearful little people.

In the passage today there are two “therefores.” On Wednesday nights at Bible study we often ask the question, “What are the therefores there for?” Jesus points to two things with the use of therefore.

The first therefore looks back to his statement that you cannot serve two masters… you can’t serve God and money, choose to rely on God. Matthew 6:24

The second therefore looks back at how God takes care of His creation and the fact that He is involved in everyday life and He is aware of your needs.

The foundational truth here is that God can be trusted. If you trust in your ability to take care of yourself, if you trust in what you have already put in the bank, or if you trust in your education or your skill-set or your good looks and charm… all these things will continue to make you anxious about the future. Only trusting in God brings an end to our anxious thoughts.

You might say, “But I come from a long line of worriers. My mother was a worrier, my father was full of stress and I can’t seem to relax when I think about my future and what will happen to me and my family.”

This is a very common thought process in today’s culture but God’s promise to take care of us is not dependent on culture, it is cross-cultural. God is not intimidated by our complicated society, our busy schedules or even the technology we have come to depend on. He wants us to look past all of it and choose to depend on Him for our needs. He is in control and He knows what He is doing.

Do you believe that? Then trust Him and fear not. The God who is in control of the span of your life can be trusted.

 

 



In All Your Ways

April 30, 2020

 

 Proverbs 3:5–8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

 People come to me as pastor at the point where they have a big mess and they only have two or three options and all of them are bad and they ask me “what I should do.”

 And I can easily tell them what they should have done 4 years ago or 8 years ago and that would have changed their direction to where they never would have gotten to this point but that is not my job at that moment. Hindsight is 20/20 and we all can look back and see clearly… that’s why the God who knows the future can say to you and me: “Would you please work with me to keep you out of those situations where you have two or three options and none of them are good? When the eggs are so scrambled that you just have to start over? Because if you do, acknowledge ME in all your ways, I will make clear which pathways you are supposed to take.”

 Isn’t that a great promise? As we acknowledge God in all our ways He makes the paths we are to follow clear to us. All what ways? Acknowledge God in all your getting stuck ways, in your all relationship ways, in all your job ways in all your recreation ways, in your entertainment ways… in how many ways? In ALL your ways acknowledge HIM.

 We don’t need more information we need more submission. We all have information we don’t pay attention to.

 Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, his mind contained more information that anyone who had ever lived up to that point, but do you know what Solomon eventually did with all that? He decided that in order to protect the kingdom from outside forces and from the armies of other nations he would marry the daughters of all the kings from the other countries around them. So he married 300 women besides the one he already had been married to.

 Not only did it not protect his kingdom, it stole his heart from God and the kingdom is eventually divided. He had all the wisdom in the world, he had all the information the world could offer him but it was not enough… and it is not enough for you either.

 Be not wise in your own eyes – you need God.

 




Daily Devotions 2020