Everyone—I repeat—EVERYONE needs to be encouraged. It is good for the human psyche to receive positive, emotional stimulation from one another. Spouses need to encourage their mate. Children need to be encouraged by their parents. Friends should be encouraging and provide each other with needed inspiration and motivation. Leaders and/or supervisors must encourage their subordinates. But more especially, Christians have a spiritual and moral obligation by directive to encourage and exhort one another positively, individually and collectively.
Psalm 64:5 teaches us that people can receive encouragement to promote evil agendas. Therefore, encouragement between brothers and sisters in Christ should always be deliberately positive and for good. We should encourage one another to do those things that God will be pleased with and shy away from things that cause confusion to which God is not the author.
Christians should encourage one another both collectively and individually. As a body in Christ, we should be encouraged to “strive for the advancement of the Church, in knowledge, holiness, and comfort.” Biblically, the word comfort is synonymous with encouragement. To comfort one another is to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11 KJV, NIV). But we can’t forget that we are all invidual parts of a larger body and that each unique part needs its own blend of motivation and encouragment. Therefore, let us always exhort (or encourage) one another!
One of my favorite cartoons when I was growing up was Popeye the Sailor Man. I liked Popeye because he was always the underdog against the brute strength of his arch nemesis, Brutus. Popeye was a little skinny character who seemed to have vision troubles and lived to smoke and toot on his pipe. He was a humble man who portrayed the perfect image of someone that was destined to be bullied because of his small frame and stature.
On the contrary, Brutus was one big, strong individual who wanted everything that Popeye had including his girlfriend Olive Oil, the object of their rivalry. The problem with the scenarios was that Popeye had something that Brutus did not have. Popeye always had a can of spinach handy which gave him strength that far exceeded that of Brutus. Therefore, Popeye always managed to escape from any of the danger he had been placed in by Brutus.
Likewise, we as Christian should know that we have our own spinach. We have something that our enemies don’t have. Whenever you’re feeling weak or discouraged reach for your spinach by saying ” in the name of Jesus.” God tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His grace is sufficient for us: for His strength is made perfect in our weakness. In other words, the weaker we are, the stronger God can be in us. Now who wouldn’t want to serve a God like that?
Being smart does not equate to having wisdom. The two are very distinct, operating parallel to one another. Every now and then they may even cross paths. You see, not all people that are smart have wisdom. And conversely, not all people with wisdom are the smartest people in their own circle or walk of life. Smart people establish their knowledge from books, school, and training. But people who are wise have a knowledge base that is established by God.
In the Bible, King Solomon asked God for wisdom. This was the one thing that he could not acquire from any other source. Solomon was a king’s son. He had wealth. He had fame. He was probably educated at the best schools of his time. That’s why he was such a prolific writer of psalms and proverbs that have withstood the tests of time.
But the one thing that Solomon’s wealth could not buy was wisdom. So Solomon asked and God provided infinite wisdom for the king. But you don’t have to be a king to ask God for wisdom. You don’t have to have riches or fame to ask God to make you wise. We should seek God’s wisdom so that our paths may be straight and our footsteps ordered by Him. It is the wisdom of God that allows us to love one another like God desires and has instructed such for his children.
In our world of radio and satellite signals, we know there are things that interfere with our signals. When there is interference our reception is not clear and sometimes we cannot effectively receive the information from the source. This is want our earthly knowledge attempts to do to our spiritual wisdom. That’s why we are to stand on the Word of God. We are to seek and listen to His voice, and allow His Holy Spirit that indwells within us to provide us with all the wisdom we need. So in all they getting of knowledge, don’t forget to ask God for wisdom!
Parents are tasked with the colossal responsibility of providing protection for their children. We have to make sure that our children are safe from societal elements that may be harmful to their spiritual, emotional, or physically well-being. Sounds easy enough, but it’s not!
Spiritually, Christian parents make an extra effort to ensure that their children are raised with a biblical foundation, following that mandate that we are to train up children so that when they are older they will not depart from what they’ve been taught (Proverbs 22:6). Despite our best efforts, it doesn’t always work. But our responsibility nonetheless is to erect some sort of spiritual boundary of protection.
Emotionally, many parents try to protect their children from bad relationships. Fathers, especially those with daughters, will sometimes clean their gun in the presence of a young man who is making an attempt to court their daughter. If a dad thinks he smells a rat, he will usually forbid any furtherance of the union, sometimes at the expense of pushing their daughter further into shark infested waters. Again, it is the nature of protection that causes dads to make every effort to protect their child.
Physically, parents want to protect their child from any hurt, harm, or danger just because we cannot bear the thought and anguish of our child being hurt. Mothers especially will cry with their children over the smallest scrape or bruise because they assume their child’s pain and feel as though they should have been their to protect their child from injury. Many times, we will even put ourselves in harm’s way for the sake of the child.
But the bottom line is this: there is only one reliable source of protection, that is, our GOD. He can protect all of His children from anything physical, emotional, or spiritual. He can protect us from every attack of the enemy, if we trust Him and call solely on Him. Will you?
Many of us have friends or associates who are not church goers and may not even be Christians. We work with them. Communicate with them. And may even have intimate relationships with them. But this nonchalant attitude in whom we choose to associate is contrary to our Chrisitan teaching.
Paul wrote that a believer should not be “unequally yoked to nonbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). He was clear in his assertion that those who are righteous have no business in fellowship with those who are unrighteous. Fellowship means companionship, friendship, or a partnership. Yes, there are many times we have to associate ourselves with nonbelievers, but that does not mean that we have to embrace them as friends or companion. Paul further clarifies this by saying that children of light have no business in communion with children of darkness. Communion implies a special closeness or unity.
The bottom line is that we should as Christians should not just be a part of the crowd. We are called by a higher order. We have to separate ourselves from worldly ways and assume our position in God’s Kingdom. We have to consecrate ourselves that we may be able to fulfill our duties to God in a pure and spiritual manner. We cannot possibly achieve our goals and our purpose if we are tainted with sin and unrighteousness. And you should already know by now, that if you keep hanging out with dogs, you are bound to end up with fleas!
“What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on a bus, tryin’ 2 make his way home?” These lyrics, written by Eric Bazilian, recorded by Joan Osborne, and covered by Prince, came about in his attempt to impress a girl. The attempt worked as he later married her and raised a family with her. Yet the song poses some powerful questions for the listener to evaluate their own personal relationship with, or perception of an almighty God.
In the end, thankfully, God is nothing like us. God is a holy, righteous, and just God and as such, should be worshipped “in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9). Holiness is a word we often hear associated with religion, whether its Christianity, Judaism, or the Islamic faith. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines holiness as being connected to a god or religion. Holiness is also defined as being religious and morally good. To be morally good is to be ethical, decent, and honorable. This describes the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who has declared that there is no other God, but Him; a just God and a Savior (Isaiah 45:21).
God is spirit—pure and unadulterated. He could never be one of us, nor could we ever be one of Him. We must separate God from the normalcy of our lives and worship the creator in the beauty of holiness. He is more than deserving of our worship and praise!
I love the dictionary.com definition which defines prayer as a spiritual communion (intimacy) with God as in supplication (request), thanksgiving (thanks), adoration (worship), or confession (admission).
Prayer is our way of communicating with our creator. It is an intimate communication. It allows us to request from God those things which we feel as if we are in need of. It permits us to thank God for the things that He has already provided for us. It provides an avenue for us to privately worship God because of who He is. And finally, it allows us to admit to God that we are imperfect creatures who are ever so grateful to have the love, grace, and mercy of a perfectly, marvelous God.
Prayer, however, is not a one-way communication. Prayer is a device, just like a telephone or computer, that allows us to connect to God’s phone line. Because God operates on a heavenly frequency, its a wireless connection; meaning that there are no wires to contend with. There are no answering machines or voice mail so you never have to punch a bunch of numbers to get a connection. There are no busy signals because God’s broadband is beyond anything we can think or imagine. Prayer is a direct line, like the Bat-phone of old, always open for direct communication with an omnipresent God. When we call, God listens; but the key to prayer is that when we listen, God answers.