Life is tough. We make mistakes… things happen… and we can easily get down.
Maybe we got laid off. Maybe we applied for a job and didn’t get it. Maybe our parents were kind of partial to other siblings. Maybe we have gone through or, we are going through a divorce. Maybe we lost a friend or loved one. Whatever it may be, life hits us and, life doesn’t care how hard it hits us. Sometimes, it can really punch us. When that happens, we need encouragement. We need a pat on the back. We need someone to let us know they care about us.
In I Thessalonians 5:11, Paul challenges us, “…encourage each other and build each other up…” To EN courage someone we put courage IN the person. How does that happen? We say a kind word. We affirm them. Maybe we even help them. On the other hand, to DIScourage someone is take courage out. How does that happen? It happens through criticizing them… or making fun of them.
So, are you an encourager or a discourager? I hope you are an encourager. The world needs more encouragers.
Maybe you know someone who is down… someone who is struggling.. and they need some encouragement. Just a pat in the back may do it… Maybe a text message with some encouraging words…
I read this poem recently that spoke to me;
“I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam, and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman: “Are these skilled–
And the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said: “No, indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by a rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well made Plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town
Content with the chore of tearing down?”
Back in the ninety’s, when I was doing some graduate work, I took a seminar entitled, “Handling Conflict In The Church.” I was a very young Preacher then. I can remember thinking, “Why do I need a seminar on handling conflict in the church?” Boy, was I in for an awakening!
Conflict between people happens. If you are around people any, there is good possibility that you will have a disagreement. It happens. But, the important thing is to not let that conflict linger. Get it resolved. If you don’t, it can fester and a root of bitterness develops.
In the last chapter of Colossians, Paul is mentioning various people and he mentions Mark. Paul writes, “Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin” (Col. 4:10.
Mark was “John Mark.” The same John Mark who went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. The same John Mark who bailed out on Paul and Barnabas on that trip. The same John Mark that Paul didn’t want to take on his second trip. So, there was some baggage associated with Mark.
So, it is very significant that Paul lists Mark here. Evidently, Paul and Mark had talked and their relationship was good.
Maybe you need to do the same thing. Is there someone you have some conflict with? Someone you’ve had a misunderstanding with? When those things happen, we have a tendency to just avoid the issue. We might say, “Let’s just don’t talk about it.” Unfortunately, you are going to have to talk about it to get it resolved. When you don’t talk about it, you are sweeping it under the rug hoping it will resolve itself and that’s not likely.
So, today, if you have conflict with someone, seek that person out. Sit down with them. Have coffee or lunch and get the conflict resolved. Don’t let it linger and become a root of bitterness that divides you from a friend.
Is there someone that you had a disagreement with some time ago and you haven’t spoken to them since then? It’s definitely not good but, it happens. We can get crossed up with people and that friction can linger on in our lives if it’s not dealt with.
I encourage you, if there is conflict between you and someone to get it resolved. Don’t let it linger.
Maybe we need to have a funeral.
“For what?” you might ask.
Maybe we need to have a funeral for our old life.
Let me explain.
Go back to when you became a Christian. You asked Jesus into your heart to forgive you of your sins. But what then? When we became Christians we were supposed to turn our back on our old way of life. But did we? Yes, we accept Christ because we don’t want to go to hell. But, there is more to the Christian life than that.
Paul told the Christians in Colossae, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1). Notice Paul says, “For you died to this life..” You DIED to this life…
What did we die to?
We died to our old sinful desires. We died to sexual immorality. We died to dishonesty. We died to a foul mouth. We died to selfishness. We died to all those things and more. Now, our priority is Jesus and living a Christ-like life.
It is my conviction that this is one of the greatest problems in America; there are lots of people on church rolls who identify as “Christians,” but they continue to live like they always lived. Listen, when you give your life to Christ, you are not going to want to live the old life. It doesn’t mean anything to you any more. You have died to it.
Is your life today any different than what it was before you became a Christian? If not, it should be. You have died to the old life. Put it aside.
Instead, focus on living for Christ.
We are living in a time where immorality is rampant and it seems holiness isn’t much of a thought. Before I go farther, I try to not judge others and I believe strongly in grace however, with that said, the United States of America is filled with immorality in the lives of Christians and that’s one reason our country is where it is today.
Folks, it’s very simple; the Bible teaches how to live Godly lives. But in our day, we have set that aside. We have made wrong right and right wrong.
In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet told Israel, “Stop at the crossroads and look around, Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it… Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls…”
Think about what Jeremiah said, “the old, Godly way…”
What does it mean to live “the Godly way.” It means to live holy lives. That doesn’t mean we are perfect but it does mean we are striving to live for Jesus. If we are trying to live holy lives, when we sin, it will bother us. Today, sin is accepted.
We will watch our mouths. We won’t use profanity… we won’t use the “F” word. We won’t gossip. We won’t lie.
We will give ten percent of our income to the local church. We will find a way to serve in the local church. We will try to help others.
All of these things and more is what it means to live “the Godly way.”
Christians… we need to get back to living “the Godly way.” There should be a difference in our lives. I’m not talking about being judgmental. I’m talking about genuinely, sincerely, living for Jesus.
Today, join me in living the Godly way.
“While passing through this world of sin,
And others your life shall view.
Be clean, be pure, without, within,
Let others see Jesus in you.”
Do you ever feel like God isn’t listening to you? Do you ever feel that God has forgotten you? If you have, you aren’t alone. Lots of people have felt that way. Even the Psalmist felt that way.
In Psalm seventy-seven, the Psalmist is pouring out his heart to God. He begins by saying, “And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me” (Psalms 77:1). Think about that verse… the Psalmist felt God had turned his hand against him. But why?
The Psalmist continues by saying, “When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help..” I love his honesty. He says, “I was in deep trouble… I searched for God.. but couldn’t find Him.
I’ve been there and I imagine you have. The Psalmist is really struggling. He is doubting God. UNTIL…
In verse thirteen, things begin to turn… the Psalmist says, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord… I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.” The Psalmist was really, really down… really struggling. He thought God had forgotten him. Until… “he recalled all the things God had done.”
Maybe we need to make a list today. Maybe we need to write down what God has done for us and pull that list out when we begin to doubt.
I don’t know what you are facing… don’t know what’s going in your life. Maybe you are having a crisis of faith. Maybe you have begun to doubt God.
I understand… because I’ve been there. Don’t throw tomatoes at me… I’m being honest…. In the last eighteen months, there have been a few times when I wondered if God has forgotten me. I know he hasn’t but, Satan can play tricks in your mind.
But when I’m in those positions, I remember that God has provided in the past. Somehow, someway… there always seems to be a ram at the altar (Gen. 22).
So today, if you are struggling… you think God has forgotten you… (he hasn’t)… you think no one cares… (God does and people do), remember what God has done in the past. He will take care of us.
The United States is a land of diversity. And part of that diversity is religious freedom. We have the freedom to worship as we choose. Because of that, there are different religious faiths.
However, although there are different faith’s, the Bible teaches that there is only one true God and that is Jesus. Paul talked about this in Colossians 1:15-17. Paul wrote, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”
Paul is talking about the superiority of Jesus. Jesus is the image of God. He existed before anything was created. No other God can make that claim.
Because Jesus existed before all creation, we should worship Him. He alone is God.
This also means Jesus should be Lord of our lives. Is He Lord of your life? I read something recently that went something like this; “Whatever is in place of Jesus in your life needs to come down.” Is there anything more important to you than Christ? You may say “No.”
Ok, are you tithing?
Do you worship regularly?
Are you reading your Bible?
If you answered “No” to any of those questions, something is in place of Jesus in your life. I challenge you to put Jesus first. He is the image of the invisible God.
Do you ever find yourself asking, “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. For most of us, it comes as we graduate from High School and we are thinking about the future. For others, they may start college majoring in one area of study and then, change majors because they discover they enjoy something totally different than they did when they started college.
What about you? What do you enjoy? What’s your purpose in life?
In the first chapter of Jeremiah, the Lord is calling Jeremiah. The Lord says to Jeremiah, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
Notice the Lord says, “Before I formed your mother’s womb…I set you apart and appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
God set apart Jeremiah apart from the time of conception. God does the same with us. God has a purpose for all of us. God has a plan for us. And, we will only be happy and experience fulfillment when we are following God’s plan for our lives.
What about you today? Are you doing what God wants you to do? If not, you should be.
Over the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been in car sales. There was a time when I didn’t think I wanted to Pastor again. But, God has humbled me… just like Jonah in the whale. God has reminded me of my purpose in life.
How about you? We will never be as happy as we will be in the center of God’s will.
God chose Jeremiah before his birth. God has a plan for us as well. Are you doing today, what God wants you to do? If not, I encourage you to seek God’s will. You will only be happy doing God’s will in your life.