Some people are so busy talking down to others, they never share an uplifting word. One stokes the smoldering ashes of human misery, while the other shares the comforting warmth of God’s mercy. Will you do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12)?
When I’m writing an article, I can get a little frustrated with my typos. These little gaffes can be the source of large misunderstandings or they can be a bit humorous. A case in point is a verse from a song that was misprinted: Let Us Break Bread On Our Knees.
If a group of people were going to come together to break bread to-gather, they would soon have a pile of crumbs. Togetherness is a theme of Scripture, and more often than not, we’re promised blessings instead of crumbs:
- Paul urged people to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose (I Corinthians 1:10).
- David said, it’s good and pleasant when God’s people live together in peace . . . the Lord gives His blessing of life forever (Psalm 133).
- Paul worked hard to comfort and encourage people, so that they will be knit together—that many hearts would become one through His love. I do it so they will be rich in understanding and have full knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Jesus (Colossians 2:2).
- David said God will bless the righteous and surround him as with a shield (Psalm 5:2).
Let me encourage you take a minute to reflect on God’s goodness for it is “He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100).”
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. ~ Psalm 33:12
Character, Faces and Names
During a recent conversation, I was asked if I knew a certain person; I replied, “I know the name, but I can’t put a face with it.” Names are used to identify, organization, warn, encourage, and to express hope.
The name and character of God was the focus of a Psalm that David wrote after the Ark had been recovered and returned to the Holy of Holies:
Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done… ~I Chronicles 16:8-12
When a child calls out Mom or Dad, he is expressing trust and hope in the power and resources of his parents. The same is true when God’s children “Call upon His name.”
Notice how the name of God is associated with His character:
- Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you—Psalm 9:10
- The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower—Psalm 18:2
- The LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust—Psalm 91:2
- The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that trust in him—Nahum 1:7
Whenever I discuss the name of God, I remember the words of Paul in Philippians 2:9-11:
God has highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I want to encourage you to follow the advice of an old gospel hymn, Take The Name of Jesus With You:
Take the name of Jesus with you,
Child of sorrow and of woe.
It will joy and comfort give you,
Take it then wherever you go.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of Heaven.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of Heaven.
Are You A Giver or a Getter?
The life of some people can be defined by their focus on giving or getting:
- Givers ask: What can I do to help you?
- Getters ask: What can you do to help me?
When I think of giving and getting, I think of the words of two wise men:
- President Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
- Solomon: “A giving person will receive much in return, and someone who gives water will also receive the water he needs (Proverbs 11:25).”
Think about the people you know. Are there some among that crowd that sap you of strength due to the demands they make? Are there others who are a delight to be around because they refresh and re-energize you?
This was the topic of discussion when Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth:
In the midst of all that has happened, though it has been difficult, we are comforted and encouraged. When we saw the relief and joy on Titus’s face, we celebrated even more because his spirit had been totally refreshed by you. Now if I have bragged in the past about you to Titus, I have nothing to be ashamed of. Just as we’ve spoken the whole truth to you, I’m glad to know that our boasts to Titus about you have proven true as well. His love for you overflows even more as he recalls your obedience and how you respectfully and somewhat nervously, with fear and trembling, took him in. I have great joy now because I have great confidence in you. ~2 Corinthians 7:13-16
Titus isn’t the only person who has been refreshed by a friend. Paul said that Philemon was a source of joy to him: “Because you are out there encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints with such love, this brings great joy and comfort to me (Philemon 7).”
Think of today as your day to be the giver who makes a difference in the life of another. Give someone an encouraging word; share an act of kindness; and, revive someone who is struggling through life.
The Power of Encouragement
I am a frequent reader of the Psalms. They are a collection of Scripture that proclaim the faithfulness and goodness of God.
As I read Psalm 34 this morning, I thought of some Scripture in the New Testament that are companion verses:
- Psalm 34:3: Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
- Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
Did you notice the two words that are repeated in the two verses above? They are “let us.” These two words speak of the power of encouragement, and this to be the voice of a choir—not a solo performance.
In Ephesians 5, Paul said you should “Let God fill you with the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done . . . The Spirit-filled life is not just for a special few; it is the normal Christian life, and it affects everything, including how we live in community and how we treat others at home (~The Voice).
When you reflect on the goodness of God, you can project a refrain of faithfulness by singing and making music in your heart. I encourage you to call or text a friend and share a Scripture or song with them. Do this and you will magnify God and exalt His name together.
Someone Is Watching
When I woke up this morning, I was thinking of God and how He watches over us and cares for us. I realize there are those times of heartache, and we wonder where He might be, but life is not a Wizard of Oz experience. We can’t peak behind the curtain to see who is pulling the strings that form and fashion our lives.
If you think God is good and God is great in the wonderful moments, how great is your faith when pain causes you to doubt? In times of trials and temptations,I find comfort in knowing that God is the Someone watching over me:
- Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him
- Psalm 34:15: The eyes of the Lord are on those who do what is right and good. His ears are open to their cry.
- Proverbs 5:21: For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He ponders all his paths.
- I Peter 3:12: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Three quick thoughts from the verses above:
- God is always watching you.
- God is always ready to hear your prayers.
- God always has enough power to give you the strength you need to manage your situation.
At times I’ve prayed: “God I don’t understand the why and what-for of my situation, but I know that you know and I see that you see, so I’ll not fear because you hear–you are attentive to my prayers.”
Now Is The Time
You might want to take a quick look at your bank account. It’s not that you’ve been skimmed and your balance trimmed: It’s something much different:
Your balance has been replenished with 86,400 credits of time. These credits are better known as seconds, and there are 86,400 of them for you to use today.
You can benefit from the far-reaching and in some cases time-oriented wisdom of Solomon: “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring (Proverbs 27:1).”
Tomorrow may never come, so wisely use the moments and seconds of today before they vanish and disappear in the hallway of history. Invest them in the life of another as an expression of God’s love.
Donald Grey Barnhouse once said that “Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Longsuffering is love enduring. Kindness is love’s touch. Goodness is love’s character. Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetting. Self-control is love holding the reins.”
Don’t waste another second. Take the time now to plant the flower of gratitude by writing a letter, texting a message, or using your phone to say thanks, to give a word of encouragement, or to simply say” God loves you.”
After your second of time has vanished, the fragrance of your kindness will linger for days. The aroma of the moment will be remembered by the one you have helped as well God.
A Refresher Course
For the most part, I love the spring season of the year. I did say, “for the most part.” When it comes to the “part” that requires me to trim the 100 foot of hedges, I rethink my love affection for spring. There are some days that I work all day in the yard, and I am bone-tired by the time I finish.
When I read 2 Corinthians 7, I get the idea that Paul was bone-tired physically as well as spiritually: “In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every way: conflicts on the outside, fears inside.”
The remedy for Paul’s affliction was encouragement:
But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more . . . In addition to our comfort, we rejoiced even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you (2 Corinthians 7:6,7,13).
Paul said that both he and Titus were encouraged and refreshed by their interaction with other believers. Does your presence encourage or discourage other people? Solomon said:
- A twinkle in the eye delights the heart. Good news refreshes the body (Proverbs 15:30).
- Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
This could be one of the blessings of the golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you refresh and encourage others, it refreshes and encourages you.
Did you accept the challenge I proposed yesterday? If you read this blog on Thursday, you know that I encouraged you to be the peace in your piece of the world.
If you embraced my challenge, you were living the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The Message elaborates on this command of Jesus:
“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).”
If you made my goal your goal, and you did your best to be the peace in your piece of the world, you were cherishing a basic principle of Jesus. You were, “bringing out the God-colors” in your piece of the world, and people had the chance to see your light shining. They could see your “good works” in:
- Your warm smile they enjoyed awhile because it reflected the love of God.
- Your courteous disposition that was void of suspicion and full of sincerity.
- Your word that cheered them while others jeered them. You were the “you-can-do-it” voice they needed to hear.
- Your hand that helped them stand: You reached down, to help them stand up.
If you missed my challenge on Thursday, you can accept it today. Be a “light-bearer” for Jesus, so you can share the dazzling light of God-colors.
I would like to hear your comments: What do you think of when you think of “God-colors?”
Be A Benediction
Speech or the act of “saying” something comes from the Latin word “dicere.” When dicere is wed to “bene,” the two give birth to the Latin word benedicere. “Well-speak” is the meaning of benedicere, and “benediction” is its identical twin.
An example of a benediction is found in Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Regardless of how you have spoken in the past, I encourage you to “speak-well” today. You are the benediction that someone needs, and the words you “well-speak” can be the encouragement that changes a life.