Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: “Lessons From Ants, Badgers and Lizards Part III: The Lizard…”

Over the past several weeks, Shepastor has reached back to 2014 to highlight the series, "Lessons from Ants, Badgers and Lizards." Today we focus upon the last lesson presented in that series, "Lessons from Lizards..." Enjoy...

Four Small Wonders
24-28 There are four small creatures,
wisest of the wise they are—
ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards

Proverbs 30: 24-28 the Message Translation

This is our last lesson in our three week series, “Lessons From Ants, Badgers and Lizards.” Today, Shepastor focuses upon the lizard.

From the ants we learned to be disciplined and not spiritually lazy. From the badger, a creature the Scripture refers to as “vulnerable and powerless,” we learned to build our homes “among the rocks,” and use our spiritual jaws to hold on tight and our spiritual feet and hands to “dig deep.” The lizard teaches us how to move past, “gate keepers.”

Proverbs 30: 28 in the Message translation of the Bible states,

lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards

“How in the world did you end up there?” “What right do you have to be there?” “You are not welcomed here…” These are all statements that could be made about a lizard ending up in a palace. Lizards are not the prettiest creatures. If I saw one in my house I would probably jump, scream, and call my husband or sons to come and get it out immediately! The Scripture, however, calls the lizard “wise.” Although it seems to be easily caught, it is able to get past even the strongest guards. What can we learn from the lizard? The lizard is not concerned about what people think. The lizard’s objective is to get into the palace! It is not concerned about its appearance, whether or not it belongs or even if it will be stopped. It heads for the palace.

What has hindered you from “heading for the palace?” What high and beautiful places has the Lord called you to and you have allowed the opinions of others, the negativity of others, or your own low opinion of yourself to keep you from leaping towards higher plains? When will you accept God's view of you, even above your own? Why not accept the Lord's invitation to the palace?

The lizard knows when to leap… lizards hang out in the corner until the right time. When it discerns that its chances will be best, it quietly throws its tail in the air and propels forward, leaping towards its destination. It is able to successfully move past event the strongest gate keepers.

The term, “gate keeper” conjures up images of armed guards. But gate keepers can simply be people or anything that stands in the way of you gaining entrance or access. Sometimes people are gate keepers…deliberately blocking access or entrance to other people, positions, groups, relationships, etc. Sometimes our emotions are gate keepers – blocking us from entering psychological or real arenas. If you think that gatekeepers are blocking your access to something, ask the Lord to show you when and how to “leap.”

Psalms 75: 6-7 declares,
For promotion cometh neither from the east,
nor from the west, nor from the south.
7 But God is the judge:
he putteth down one, and setteth up another

Promotion comes from the Lord.
While human beings may throw up road blocks and hindrances for a season, God ultimately can show you when, how and where to “leap” towards your “palace.” No human can stop God’s will and purpose for your life. If the gate keeper, however, is your own fear and trepidation, you must first process the reasons why and seek God’s guidance and godly counsel so that you will be able to place trust in God above your fears.

Finally, lizards swing their tails up and keep them moving…

Consider these facts about lizards:
Scientists found that the way lizards swing their tails upwards mid-leap is key to a 'safe landing' on a tree - but that throwing their tail in the air isn't enough. Lizards move their tails in mid-flight to stay stable during a leap.

University of California, Berkeley, biologists and engineers studied how lizards manage to leap successfully even when they slip and stumble, and found that swinging the tail upward is the key to preventing a forward pitch that could send them head-over-heels into a tree
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Lizards turn themselves upward and keep their tails moving! Even when they slip and stumble, they continue to swing their tails upward and keep moving. We will have times of “slipping and stumbling” on our upward journey. But if we continue to turn ourselves “upward,” looking to the Lord, seeking God’s face, taking hold to the wisdom, guidance and promises of His Holy Word, by faith, we will be able to keep moving toward our God given goals.

Like the lizard, let us ignore those who suggest we shouldn’t be here or there. May we go where the Lord leads. Like the lizard, may we use godly wisdom and discernment to know when and how to leap past gate keepers. Like the lizard, may we continue to turn ourselves upward and keep on pressing toward the mark of our high calling in Christ Jesus!

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Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: "Lessons From Ants, Badgers and Lizards" A special series...

“Shepastor Highlights…”
This post first was shared in March, 2014. Today, we again revisit the series, “Lessons learned from ‘Ants, Badgers and Lizards…”

Proverbs 30:24-28
The Message (MSG)

Four Small Wonders
24-28 There are four small creatures,
wisest of the wise they are—
ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots (badgers)—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.

This is our second, “lesson” in our series about ants, badgers and lizards. Today’s focus is upon the badger. I confess: I know little or nothing about badgers. I’ve never even seen one! However, I was intrigued with the proverbial writer’s observation about the badger’s wisdom.

Verse 26 of Proverbs Chapter 30 in the Revised Standard Version is stated in this way…

26 the badgers are a people without power,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;

The Message Bible states it like this…

26 marmots (badgers)—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;

The Bible likens badgers to “vulnerable people without power.” Bodily, badgers have short legs, are low to the ground and have to dig deep for their food. God, however, has given them extremely strong jaws and the ability to dig deep, enabling them to dig and build homes even in and among rocks.

Jesus once admonished that the “wise” are like those who build their homes on a rock… (Matthew 7: 24-25, NRSV)

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.

Despite the badger’s “vulnerabilities” and “powerlessness,” God gave it the wisdom and strength to build its home in and among rocks. They have to dig deep. Jesus declared that if we listen to and obey His words, we, like the badger will be wise and will be able to stand the tests, the storms, the adversities, the struggles of life.

There are times when life propels us into circumstances that produce feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability – things over which we have no particular control…injustices, prejudice, sexism, disease, job loss, wayward children, death, generational/familial dysfunction, etc. Yet God’s Word gives us hope…if we choose wisdom, we too can “build our houses among the rocks,” but we have to dig deep. Jesus is the rock. The Word of God, when received, believed, followed and applied moves us from a position of vulnerability and powerlessness to becoming more than conquerors…but we must determine to dig deep.

No matter what our situation or circumstance, the Word of God can teach us how to prevail…but we have to dig deep. When we embrace the promises of God, they raise us above any power or principality that seeks to keep us down and or destroy us…but we must dig deep! God has also given, not only biblical “faith hero’s and shero’s,” but modern day “rocks” that have risen above trials, struggles and impossibilities – triumphing over satan’s rage…those women and men who chose to dig deep, refusing to allow that which was without to nullify that which was within.

Choose to build your “home” among “the rocks.” Build your hopes, dreams, prayers and aspiration upon Jesus and His Word. Build your house among those “rocks” that have done and are doing the same. Avoid the “Elijah” syndrome – you are not alone… you are not the only one going through…you are not the only one who has “haters!” Run to the rock, stand upon the rock, build your home among the rocks – consider the badger and be wise!

Next week we’ll consider the wisdom of the lizard!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: "Lessons Learned from Ants, Badgers and Lizards" A special series...

“Shepastor Highlights…”
This post first was shared in February, 2014. Today, we revisit the series, “Lessons learned from ‘Ants, Badgers and Lizards…”

Proverbs 30:24-28, RSV

24 Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;
27 the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces.

This week’s focus: “Lessons from the Ant…”

Proverbs 6:6-8, KJV

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Verses 7-8 in the Living Bible say it this way…

7 For though they have no king to make them work, 8 yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.
The necessity of internal motivation…

Have you ever watched ants work? I can remember as a little girl being so fascinated in the summer months, watching black ants on the side walk coming together to carry small crumbs to their ant hills. The crumbs that appeared so small to me, seemed huge to them. I watched as their little legs moved and struggled to carry a crumb, undeterred, undaunted, ever marching towards their destination. They did not appear to have a chief ant standing at the top of the hill demanding that they do the work. They just did what they had to do.

The scriptures advises us not to be lazy, but to consider the ways of the ant. Although we may not consider ourselves to be “lazy,” we can become spiritually lazy if we are not careful. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is easy, if we are not careful, to neglect nurturing our spirits. The spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, fasting, contemplation etc., are just that – disciplines. “discipline,” closely related to the term, “disciple,” suggests that one is following something, adhering to something, becoming a student of something in order to learn, to cultivate, to become, to transform. True discipline is transforming.

The one who chooses to “discipline themselves” to follow after a way of thinking, living and or being does not need a school master over them, demanding that they do this or that. The desire to change, to become stronger, to get ready, to prepare, etc., propels the individual into behaviors that line up with the desired goal. When we desire a deeper relationship with the Lord, when we want our ways to please the Lord, when we yearn to know the Lord better and become spiritually mature, those desires emerge from within. No one has to force us to pray, read scripture, spend time alone in meditation and fasting. We listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice and accept the invitation to come away with Him.

The ant teaches us the value in having internal motivation and discipline. If we embrace these disciplines we will be wise and prepared…

Prepare for Winter in the Summer…

In general, we don’t see ants in the winter. That is because they have prepared their meals and stored them up for the winter, in the summer. Most prepare their nests under ground, in trees or in acorns to get ready for the cold winter months. They are not bothered by the snow and the subfreezing temperatures – they have made preparation for the winter…

The “winters” of life can be brutal…health challenges, difficult relationships, grief, depression, burnout, financial upheavals, “church,” etc. Christians are not exempt from “winter.” However, if we prepare for the winter by strengthening our spirits through the aforementioned disciplines, during the proverbial summers, we, like the ant will have what is necessary to sustain us until winter passes.

The good news about God’s grace is that even if we have not done our part to get prepared for the winter, God will still meet us where we are and provide strength to help us through. Our trudge through the snow, however, will be with greater ease if we have gotten prepared with the necessary “snow gear!”

Let’s learn from the ant and wisely prepare for winter. The Lord has promised to be with us in every season of our lives. May we choose to be intentional about strengthening our spirit and walking with Him daily.

Next week we’ll consider lessons from the Badger!

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Shepastor: "Get it Done!"

17And tell Archippus, “Be sure to finish the task you were given in the Lord’s service.” Colossians 4:17, Today’s English Translation

“Everybody else is doing this! Why can’t I…” With tears and teenage frustration, I remember having this conversation with my father as he refused to sign papers that would have allowed me to get a job at age 14. Several of my classmates had received permission from their parents to work and go to school. What I did not understand was that for many of them, circumstances at home may have required extra income.

To God be the glory, that was not our situation. My father sternly responded, “Everything that you need, I provide for you. You don’t need an outside job. You have the rest of your life to get a job. Your job now is to go to school, do well and graduate.” Now that I have children of my own, I understand my father’s wisdom.

While there is nothing wrong with parents allowing youth to earn extra money and to experience the responsibilities that go along with money, in my situation, my parents wanted me to remain focused upon the specific task at hand…doing well and graduating. Their guidance turned out to be a tremendous blessing for my life.

In like manner, God has called each on of us to a task. No child is born without a purpose, a giftedness, a reason, a task. The task or tasks may be many-fold, but singularly focused – to accomplish God’s purpose and plan and to bring God glory. It can be so easy to become distracted by what other people are doing, what other people are accomplishing, where other people are going and what other people have. At times we may even find ourselves comparing what we have and do to others. But when we do that, we run the risk of not finishing “the task” that was given to us by the Lord.

In this glitzy, competitive, “bigger and better” world, it can become difficult to remain focused and faithful to the work the Lord has assigned to our hand. At times we may find ourselves frustrated, discouraged or maybe even bored. But Paul’s words to Archippus remain valuable to us today,
17And tell Archippus, “Be sure to finish the task you were given in the Lord’s service.”
Every life has a purpose, a reason, a gift, a task. If you get off track, lose your focus, compete with others, perpetually gaze at other pastures, who will complete your task? It may not look like much to you. It may not appear important to you. It may not be “center stage.” You may feel un/under appreciated. You may desire more. But remember, your task has been assigned to you for a reason, in this season and for God’s glory. Get it done.

Trust God’s plan and get it done. Remain focused and get it done. Keep your “hand to the plow” and get it done! With God’s grace, strength, patience, perseverance, hope and blessed assurance, run your race. Finish your course. Keep the faith. Complete your task. Get it done!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Shepastor: “How Are You Using Your Words?”

34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, Matthew 12: 34-36, ESV

Words matter. Recently a well-known minister at a highly publicized service used his words, in his own way, to challenge people to rise to a higher level of responsibility, unity, power and respect. Unfortunately, the apparent “intent” of his message was lost because of the perceived abuse of his words during a very sensitive moment – a funeral service.

Since the beginning of time, the power of the spoken word has literally shaped and formed the world. The first book of the Bible, Genesis tells us that God spoke and the world was formed, God spoke and light came into existence. God spoke and GREAT things happened! And while we do not have the power to speak and make literal objects appear out of thin air, we do have the power to speak things into existence.

With our words we bless and with our words we curse. With our words we hurt and with our words we heal. With our words we deliver and with our words we can imprison. With our words we can build up and with our words we can tear down. With our words we can create an environment of peace, hope faith and love. With our words we can create an atmosphere of anxiety, hostility, fear and dismay. Our words indeed have power.

Most recently several politicians are being taken to task because of their words. Some are being pummeled by news outlets that are playing their own words over and over again. Even their advocates are struggling to defend the incendiary things that were said, one right after another over a period of years. This example teaches us that words can come back to haunt you… Jesus warned his disciples, "And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak." (Matthew 12:36, NLT)

Can you imagine that? Think about the words you speak about others when you think no one is listening…think about the conversations you hold when you think whoever is not around to hear it…What if on that day, when we stand before the Lord, a big jumbo-tron like screen is up before the world to see, showing the words that we have said…would you be ashamed? Would you have to hang your head? Jesus said, that we will “give an account of every idle word spoken...” every mean word, every disparaging word, every ugly word, every hurtful word. Just the thought of that should inspire us to clean up our act!

Words are expensive…
We must even be careful how we engage the words that come into our minds about ourselves, about other people and about situations. Words have the power to create… When you repeat bad words to yourself…words of doubt, words of fear…words of self-loathing (I’m so big and fat, I’m not strong enough, I’m not good enough, I’m clumsy, ugly, stupid…) you limit what God wants to do in your life. Jesus frequently said to those who desired to me made whole, “according to your faith, be it unto you.”

If you constantly tell yourself the opposite of what you desire to change, how will it ever change? This is not a “name it and claim it” philosophy, it is simply saying that you deplete yourself of drive, energy, vision and hope when you are constantly speaking negativity over yourself. If you tell yourself, “I can never do this or that, I can never have this or that, I will never become this or that,” you keep yourself from even considering the possibilities. WORDS create a box that can contain you.

Jesus wanted his disciple and all who were listening to understand that our words reflect the condition of our hearts. Jesus is not concerned about form and fashion. Jesus is not concerned about whether or not we “appear” to be right…Jesus wants our HEARTS to be right. When our heart is right, we want to be mindful our how our words and actions impact the lives of others.

Finally, Our words can give life… Proverbs declares that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Proverbs also declares, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” When we pray, “Lord set a watch over my mouth, guard the door of my lips,” when we pray, “Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight for you are my strength and my redeemer,” we open our hearts to the leading, molding, keeping and blessing of our words.
God has given us the power to use our words to create…God has given us the power to use our words to speak life…we can speak life over others, life over our children, life over our situations and circumstances…life over our communities…life over our nations…God has given us the power to SPEAK LIFE! Tell those you care about that you love them…tell those you care about how beautiful they are, how gifted they are, how important they are, how strong they are.

Declare your victory by faith, declare your healing by faith. Speak into your life and the lives of others God’s delivering power, God’s saving power, God’s transforming power, God’s restoring power…SPEAK LIFE! God will honor that which you declare by faith, God will restore the years that the canker worm hath eaten, God will open doors that no man can close and close doors that no man can open.

How are you using your words?

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Shepastor: “The disease is gone, but are you whole?”

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
(Luke 17: 11-19, KJV)

In this story, Jesus highlights interesting aspects of faith, compassion and gratitude. Prior scriptures highlight, “mustard seed faith,” “worthless servants,” who do just enough to get by and then Jesus’ decision to head towards Samaria and Galilee, on his way to Jerusalem. Many messages in just those few verses!!! Our focus today, however, considers the one leper who turned back to say, “thank you.” Jesus questions the absence of the rest of those who were healed. Only the “stranger” turned back to show appreciation. Jesus responds to him by saying, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Vs. 19).

I would like to suggest that the one who had the faith to come back and say thank you received something that the others did not. He was made whole. Could it be that gratefulness makes one whole? The one leper could have perpetually lamented over the years of pain, disgrace, loneliness, disenfranchisement, marginalization, etc. He could have remained in a slump. He could have been so excited about "getting clean" that he forgot to express appreciation. For some reason, he chose gratefulness. The others were cured of a disease, but it appears that they were not made whole.

There are numerous medical stories of individuals who were cured of a disease, but were not made whole. The absence of the physical condition did not bring about their deliverance. In some instances, they continued to be afflicted with the same struggles that they had when they had the disease. They were never able to embrace their new freedom. There are many reasons why persons may not be able to fully embrace their deliverance. But this passage gives us something to think about…

There is something about being grateful that brings a healing that supersedes the absence of disease. There are individuals who have been delivered from a physical location, removed from a “diseased relationship,” cured from a particular ailment, but still are not whole. Gratefulness brings us one step closer to wholeness. Gratefulness causes us to engage in several things that can usher us into wholeness:

Gratefulness calls us to recollection, re-direction and renewal…

Recollection: Gratefulness causes us to reflect upon what has been done for us. When we remember our pain and suffering, we can be thankful that the Lord has kept us, sustained us and gave us grace to endure. We also remember God’s healing, strengthening and comforting presence through it all.

Re-direction: Gratefulness causes us to re-direct our focus. When we choose to be grateful, we fill up the spaces of our hearts and minds that are tempted to be consumed with thinking about all that is wrong. Gratefulness helps us to overcome and to be thankful rather than bitter, angry and filled with complaints.

Renewal: Gratefulness renews us. When we are grateful, it’s like we inhale fresh air, and release the poisons of negativity, old and maybe even new pain and sorrow. When we choose to be grateful, thankful, appreciative we leap beyond the threshold of just getting rid of a “leprous condition,” to the platform of hope, increased faith and joy – which is our strength!

Do you want to be made whole? Choose to exercise your mustard seed faith to become grateful.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Shepastor: “Standing in the Need of Encouragement…”

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV

We are living in very discouraging times. Some are experiencing feelings of hopelessness. Some feel daunted by overwhelming responsibilities. Some are depressed. Some feel like they are drowning. The list goes on and on. We need encouragement. Below is a beautiful list offered by a Christian writer, Stacy Wiebe on ways that we can encourage one another…

19 Ways to Encourage Others
(Originally shared by Stacy Wiebe, from Christian Women Today)

Encouragement goes straight to the heart. In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix "en" which means "to put into" and the Latin word "cor" which means heart.

Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others "to take heart" when the going gets tough and way feels long?

Become aware of what encourages you, and do those same things for others.

Learn individuals' "love language"-the special way in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Languages of Love , Gary Chapman explains that not everyone's emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it's important to learn to speak others' love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, spending quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don't let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit: "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…" (Hebrews 3:13).

When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise for the person's abilities, accomplishments, about how they've helped you or about the nature of your relationship. It's encouraging to be praised in front of others.*

When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help. If you ask, "How can I help?" the person might be at a loss to answer. It's better to ask, "Would it help if I…(specific action) or say, "I would like to…(specific action)?*

Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God and characteristics of God. We may know something with our mind, but need to be reminded in our heart. The Apostle Peter wrote, "I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have" (2 Peter 1:12).

Write someone a note to tell them that you're praying for them. Tell them what you're praying. You can pray specific Scriptures for individuals such as Romans 15:13, "[I pray that] the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. Celebrate others' victories, large and small-with a note, with coffee together, with a special meal, a congratulatory phone call or just a high-five!

Be specific when you offer words of praise; it makes your encouragement more credible and concrete "You did a great job at…" "I really appreciate that you…" "I was really impressed that you…"

Encourage other believers with a reminder of Christ's coming. It redirects our thinking to an eternal perspective and ultimate deliverance from the sin and death. "We who are still alive and are left will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." (1 Thessalonians 5:17b-18).

Realize the power of presence. Just being there is encouraging! When you're with others, you're telling them that they're important. The Apostle Paul closed his letter to the church at Colosse promising to send his friend Tychius "that he may encourage your hearts" (Colossians 4:8b).

If you're part of a church, Bible study or fellowship, be committed to showing up. Your simple presence encourages others that they are part of a community of faith and that they are not alone. That's why the writer of Hebrews says, "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

If someone you know is working on a large project, send her a single flower to encourage her at the beginning of the project, and a full bouquet when it's done.*

Use encouragement as an outreach. If anyone should be known for being an encourager, it should be the Christian. Write a letter of appreciation to people at work, your apartment manager, your child's teacher or your doctor. Often when we interact with these people, we are asking for their services. Take time just to say thank you!*

If you really want to encourage someone who gives you excellent service, write a letter of commendation to the person's boss.*

We could learn something from the way team athletes freely pat, touch and high-five each other in competition. Touch is a powerful encouragement. Be sure to be sensitive in this area, though. Ask someone if you can hug her first. And be careful to be above reproach with persons of the opposite sex.

When you see someone making positive changes in their lives, affirm them. "You seem to have a really great attitude about…" "It may be that I'm just starting to take notice, but I see that you're…" "Do you think that you are becoming more…?"

Tell people how they've encouraged you!

Walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit, asking for what you need to encourage others. Just as it is impossible to live the Christian life in one's own strength, it's also impossible to freely, unselfishly pour out encouragement without the help of the Holy Spirit who is our Encourager.
For more information on walking in the power of the Spirit, see:

* These tips adapted from the book, 52 Simple Ways to Encourage Others, by C.E. Rollins, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1995.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris