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Friday, April 29, 2016

Encouraging Others - A Gift From God

Do you know someone you can call on when things get really rough? When you toss and turn and can't get to sleep - even after you have prayed and read the Bible before going to bed? I think we all experience this at some time - unless you are in grade school. And during your tossing and turning, a face flashes before your eyes, and just thinking about that person causes your worry to ooze away. Why? Because that person is an encourager. He or she may not be aware of it, but that person always manages to say the right thing at the right time. And when there is no need for words he will just put an arm around you or give your hand a squeeze and you begin to feel better.

Without meaning to boast, I believe I have the gift of encouraging others. How do I know? People have told me. They say I have a calm and quiet personality that soothes them and helps them forget their problem. I wish I could encourage myself that way! But we don't often think of encouraging as a spiritual gift, do we? We tend to focus on the more spectacular ones, like healing and prophesying and speaking in tongues, but here's what the apostle Paul says, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously ..." (Romans 12: 8)

So who can you encourage today? If you can't think of someone, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and show you who needs to be encouraged and how you should encourage that person. It might be just through a phone call, a visit, listening or giving them a hug if you are close to them.

I pray that this blog is a source of encouragement to you. If it is, please leave a comment and let me know. And if you would like these posts delivered to your inbox so you don't have to search for this site, then please use the sign-up form to subscribe. 
And speaking of encouraging, we all know someone in our lives who needs encouragement. I'm speaking of those hard- working mothers - your mother, mother-in-law, wife, sister, whoever she might be, give her something this Mother's Day to encourage her and show her what she means to you. Click on the banner below.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Price Of Success

PrinceThis past week the world was saddened by the loss of yet another superstar. As if you didn't know it already, the singer popularly known as Prince passed away last Thursday. He was only 57. While the cause of death is not yet known, fans mourn the star's passing at such an early age. Like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and many others, the lament "gone too soon," will be heard over and over. Were illicit drugs involved? We don't know. ABC news said that a full report, including toxicology, will take weeks to be released.

Whatever the cause of the singer's death, we know one thing for sure. Prince was hugely successful on the world stage, but did he pay the ultimate price of success? An early death? A life of pain - physical as well as emotional? Loneliness? Dependency? Elvis Presley, one of the best known performers of all times, died  a very lonely man. Surely, success must have its benefits, otherwise people would not strive for it. So, what is your definition of success? Is it money, fame, possessions, admirers?

Denzel Washington, one of the most successful actors, sums it up this way:  "Success? I don't know what that word means. I'm happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody's eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That's a good day for me."

And Albert Einsten, scientist and philosopher stated, "Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value."

And what does the Bible say?

 In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.1 Samuel 18: 14

As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.2 Chronicles 26: 5

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, Proverbs 2: 7

 God wants you to be successful, but His success is not the kind that brings pain and misery. God doesn't want us to be dependent on anything, or anyone - not even ourselves - but only on Him.

 His formula for success is written in Joshua 1 : 8: Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 

Do you desire to be successful? By meditating on God's word and seeking His will for your life you will have good success. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Lesson Of The Titanic

In going through my emails I came across this one that said "Today Is National Titanic Remembrance Day." One hundred and four years ago, on April 15, 1912, the Titanic was on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York when she struck an iceberg and sank.  Since then people still ask the question, how did it happen? How did this luxury liner equipped  with water-tight bulkheads to render it unsinkable, still sink to the bottom of the ocean, killing 1500 people.
File:Titanic struck iceberg.jpg
The Titanic Source: Wikipedia

 Those passengers comprised many of the rich and famous who were proud to be on the Titanic's maiden voyage. Some had set their sights on starting a new life in America. Little did they know that the ship's first trip would be their last, that instead of being bound for a new land they were bound for the ocean floor.

Is there a lesson in the Titanic for us after all these years? I think there is.

Jesus said, 'But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matthew 7 : 26-27).

Many people have heard the gospel over and over and yet are reluctant to put their faith in Jesus Christ. They ask for proof. How do we know He is real? No one has ever come back and said what heaven is like. It sounds like a fairytale. And on and on go their objections. But those same people will get on a ship or plane and head for some distant land not knowing if they'll ever get there.

I'm not knocking travel. I've been on ships and more planes than I care to remember. If I was around in 1912, I may have been on the Titanic. What I'm saying is, put your faith in Jesus Christ first. Build on the solid rock, not on things that are sinkable or perishable. Some of us trust in our riches, our fine homes and cars, but we know we can't trust those things anymore. What was once the American dream has now become the American nightmare for many. Put your trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is unsinkable, immovable, indestructible.

If you want to know how much Jesus loves you and what He did for you on the cross get a copy of my award-winning story For God So Loved by clicking the image below. 

Saturday, April 02, 2016

When God Shows Up

Driving home from work one evening last week during pouring rain, I was tempted to pull aside and sit it out,  but the rain didn't seem to be stopping any time soon so I continued. With the dark, gray clouds and unrelenting rain, visibility was poor, even with my headlights on, and I stuck behind the car in front of me in order to stay on course. The downpour grew heavier until I could barely make out the shape of the car. I said, "I wish he would turn his lights on." Immediately, his lights came on and I was able to see a little better. Some people might say that was a coincidence, but I say it was God showing up just when I needed Him.

Many times in the hustle and bustle of life, we don't recognize the countless little ways in which God helps us. You may be thinking of a friend or family member you haven't heard from in a while, and that person calls. You may be racking your brain for a solution to a problem, and the answer comes in a way you hadn't expected. Somebody gives you something you had been longing for, but didn't think you could afford it. As someone who has experienced a lot of adversity, I know what it's like to have God show up in amazing ways.

Elijah, great man of God, hid in a cave because Jezebel had threatened to kill him after he killed the prophets of Baal. The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19: 11 - 12.

And that was when God gave his instructions to Elijah. God is a great and mighty God, but He doesn't always show up with thunder and lightning. Sometimes it's in the little things we see His face: in a beautiful flower, a baby's smile, a gentle breeze on a hot summer day. 

"Be still and know that I am God ..." (Psalm 46: 10).

 Here is a video to help you do just that.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He Is Risen!

English: Resurrection of Christ
English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What if Jesus had not risen from the grave as He said He would? Where would we be? I don't want to think about it. But He is risen and is alive with the Father in heaven and one day He is coming back to take us to live with Him. That is the hope of Easter and the basis of the Christian faith.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15: 20 - 22).

And so the journey to Calvary has ended. Jesus has been crucified, but now He is risen, as He said. And we too are alive in Him. The empty tomb is a silent witness to the greatest event in history. We don't worship someone who died thousands of years ago, but Someone who is alive.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

It Is Good Friday

I was probably eight or nine the first time I read the account of Jesus's crucifixion. Good Friday had always been a solemn occasion at our house with my mother cooking a special fish dinner and my father reading the Bible. By teaching me to read and reading the Bible and other story books to me, my mother had instilled in me a love for reading from an early age. So that year when she opened the Bible to the book of Luke and told me to read the story of the crucifixion, I didn't hesitate. But as I read, I became more and more anxious and by the time I got to the part where they crucified Jesus, tears were streaming down my face. It's not Good Friday, I thought in childlike disappointment, it should be called Bad Friday.

Jesus died. How could He? Why did He?

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3: 16).

And that's why the day He died on the cross is called Good Friday. Because on that day, we, the lost and fallen human race, were redeemed, forgiven and restored to our rightful place with God the Father.

Are you in your rightful place? Have you been redeemed, restored and forgiven? If not, Jesus's arms are still outstretched, waiting to welcome you in. But you must ask. Do like one of the thieves who hung on a cross beside Jesus.

He turned to Him and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 3: 42 - 43).

Just like that the man was saved. Jesus didn't say, "I'm in too much pain, I can't think about that right now." Or, "You are a bad man. I'm not sure if you should go to heaven."

No, He said, "Today." And He will say to you too, "Today," if you ask Him right now.

And if you haven't yet, don't forget to download a copy of my award-winning story on Amazon Kindle, For God So Loved. I'm sure it will bless your heart.
Just click on the image below.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lenten Reflections cont'd

In my last post, I wrote about the opportunity we have to draw nearer to God during this Lenten season. If ever we needed God it is now. I believe it is no accident that Easter comes during the season of spring, at least in the northern hemisphere. Spring is a time of new beginnings, therefore what better time to begin a new life in Christ or recommit our lives to Him than during this Easter season.

Some questions we may reflect on are:

1. What does God require of me as a Christian?

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this , Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12: 30 - 31).

 2. How can I demonstrate God's love in my dealings with others?

Many of us will readily admit that we love the Lord, but how about our neighbor? When was the last time we spoke to them, smiled or offered to help them in some way? Other scriptures you may want to reflect on: Matthew 22: 37 - 39; Luke 10: 27; John 13: 34; 1 Corinthians 13 : 3. 

But love ye your enemies, and do good , and lend , hoping for nothing again ; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: (Luke 6: 35).

 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12: 20)
On the cross, Jesus forgave the Roman soldiers who crucified Him. He also forgave the thief who hung next to him.  

3. How can I fulfill the great commission?

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said,Feed my sheep" (John 21: 17). 

 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24: 14).

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28: 19).

Jesus's last command to us before leaving this earth was for us to go and make disciples of all nations. Not all of us will be able to travel extensively to spread the gospel like Paul and some of the other disciples did. In fact, we don't have to leave our little neck of the woods to tell others about Jesus Christ. We can begin right where we are.

Today marks the beginning of Holy week. As we pray and reflect this week, I trust that you will keep some of these questions in mind along with those the Holy Spirit lays on your heart. To help you in your reflections this Lenten season, I have written a little book that won an honorable mention on Writer's Digest. I trust that you will be blessed by it.