Category Archives: Encouragement

Guidance and Encouragement for the Church

There is actually quite a lot packed into a fairly short chapter in 2 Thessalonians 3. Read through it and meet me on the other side to unpack it.

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

     1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

There is a lot we should take note of and apply in our own lives today.

  • Paul begins this chapter by asking for prayer not only for him to be protected from wicked men, but also for the word of God to spread quickly and be glorified.
  • Paul expresses faith and confidence in the Lord not only for his situation but for that of the believers in Thessalonica. He has confidence in God’s protection from Satan as well as the need to ask God to help direct our hearts to love Him and be steadfast in Christ.
  • Paul takes time to encourage other Christians.
  • Contrary to what many would teach today, we are not to befriend and be close to unruly, undisciplined people just because they may claim to follow Christ. Their behaviors and attitudes bely the fact that they are not truly submitted to Christ.
  • Paul makes special emphasis of saying they should not grow weary of doing good.
  • Right before saying this, Paul comments quite a bit on how they set an example by working for and paying for what they needed to survive. He makes two points, both of which seem at odds with what is normal in our culture today.  We should take note as our culture may be out of calibration with the early church. First, that even though he could expect the people to provide for him while he ministers to them about Christ, he thought it important to support himself as an example. Second, those that refuse to work “shall eat their own bread”. He clearly states that those who are unwilling to work (not talking here about unable to work), should not be subsidized in their laziness or stubbornness by others but rather encouraged by even their own hunger to work and be productive.
  • Paul also makes a point to instruct the church to discipline and admonish  members who refuse to live according to the proper instruction in these matters. Too often today churches do not admonish anyone effectively, if at all. All are invited to sit in church regardless of their outward sin and rebellion. Pastors rationalize that “at least they will hear the word”, but individuals take home the message that living in sin as they are is just fine and they are “saved”. Those outside the church can no longer see that the church is any different than they are.  People in the church behave the same way that people outside the church do. Effective rebuke is desperately in need, even though it should be done with respect and love. Pastors are too concerned someone may get mad and leave, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no trophy for having the biggest crowd sit in church and not follow God. Quite the opposite. Leaders will be judged based on how they accepted sin and offended God instead of man.

Pray and reflect on this message from Paul to Thessalonica. It is still relevant today. Ask God to show you what changes you should make in your life.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Thanksgiving for Faith and Perseverance

Let us be thankful to YHWH for the faith and perseverance of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us encourage one another. Draw near to the Father in difficult times. Do not compromise YHWH’s word to blend with the world, even to avoid persecution. Remember, it is not about us.  In everything we do, seek to bring praise and glory to His name.

2 Thessalonians 1

Thanksgiving for Faith and Perseverance

      1Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

      3We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Encouraging And Strengthening Fellow Followers of Yeshua

Paul had a great love for the believers in Thessalonica  and wanted to come back and visit them and encourage them. In 1 Thessalonians 2 he indicates that he was hindered by Satan from coming to see the them. It is wonderful to read in chapter 3 that although Paul was unable to go, he was able to send Timothy. He so cared for those he shared the gospel with that He wanted to remain connected with them. He could have asked Timothy to stay with him, but rather desired to seek after the welfare of others and not just focus on himself. It is also a good example of the believers working together to accomplish what one alone, even Paul, cannot.

1 Thessalonians 3

Encouragement of Timothy’s Visit

      1Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, 2and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, 3so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 4For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. 5For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.

      6But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, 7for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; 8for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 9For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

      11Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

What a beautiful closing prayer… that YHWH would guide them to be reunited with their brothers and sisters in faith, that the followers of Yeshua would increase and abound in love for one another and all people so that He may establish their hearts without blame in holiness before YHWH. This is a righteous prayer indeed. I am encouraged to pray this for followers of Yeshua and for my family and I invite you to do so as well.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Connect With One Another

Let us as brothers and sisters in Christ encourage one another and build relationships with one another. May we not be strangers living our own lives, but rather truly connected through the body of Christ in a way that helps one another and brings glory to God.

We can clearly see the love and compassion that Paul had for the people he was mentoring and teaching. He was genuinely concerned about their lives and they about his.

Colossians 4:7-18

      7As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. 8For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; 9and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.

      10Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. 12Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.15Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. 17Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

      18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.

Reflect on whether or not you are connecting with other believers the way Paul did. You do not have to connect with every believer, but we should be connecting with one another. Other believers should be an active part of our lives. This is a natural part of the functioning of the body of Christ.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Grace To You And Peace From God Our Father

What a wonderful way to greet brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul opens his letter to the Colossians with welcoming words in which he tells them he is thankful to God for them and is actively praying for them. Even if we disagree with a fellow brother or sister in Christ on some issues, what a wonderful approach to take. Begin with prayer for them, then engage them with encouragement for what they are doing well, then perhaps later challenge them on areas of obedience in their walk with Christ. This is much more effective than the approach many take today… not praying for them, skipping over what is good, and focusing immediately on what we think they may be doing wrong.

 Colossians 1:1-12

Thankfulness for Spiritual Attainments

     1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

      2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

      3We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

      9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

It is good for us to pray for one another in this way. Pray that those who follow Christ would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that they will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Follow Yeshua’s Example of Prayer and Submission

Yeshua sets the example for intense prayer. We have a hard time living up to His example. No matter what we face, however, let us follow His example and come before the Father in prayer. Let us submit to the Father’s will and trust in the Father’s wisdom, even if we have an opinion or preference which is different. We may even pray for the Spirit’s help that we would not fall into temptation.

Luke 22:39-46

The Garden of Gethsemane

     39And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Let us model ourselves and our relationship with the Father after the example of Christ, whether we face big situations or every day small ones.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Pray At All Times And Do Not Lose Heart

Yeshua encouraged His disciples to pray. We should take this lesson to heart and pray at all times.

Luke 18:1-8

Parables on Prayer

     1Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3“There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4“For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Trust God In The Desert; Faith and Obedience Bring Us To The Promised Land

Have you ever gone through a tough situation, one that was really emotionally and physically draining? It may have even lasted months or years. Let us remember to cling to God in these situations, trusting that if we are faithful He can turn all things to use for good.

Romans 8:28

  28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Let us take care not to complain and whine or worse… rebel against where God is leading us or bringing us through. Think back on the Israelites as the Lord led them out of Egypt and into the promised land. He performed many mighty miracles and yet as time passed, the people continued to stumble and make mistakes. They continued to complain and at times rebel against God. They saw only their immediate, short term struggles and kept focusing on those rather than focusing on and trusting the Lord who was leading them through the desert. They could not seem to focus and trust that the promised land was theirs at the end of the journey.

In fact, they even completely ignore their own accountability in making the journey take 40 years! God delivered them to the promised land and they disobeyed and did not take it because they were afraid of the people living there. They did not trust the Lord. Their journey got much longer. But as they complain in Numbers 20, they blame Moses and God rather than their own mistakes in disobeying the Lord.

Numbers 20:2-5

      2There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. 3The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! 4“Why then have you brought the LORD’S assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? 5“Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.”

How callously they chastise Moses and defame the Lord’s reputation and character, implicitly in their complaints about “It is not a place of grain or figs or vines …” in contrast to God’s promised land. They take no accountability for their actions being the cause of why they are in the desert still. Should not they be saying… “O’ Lord, forgive us and have mercy on us for our disobedience and lack of faith resulted in our remaining in the desert”?

Let each of us take care in our relationship with the Lord. Sometimes our actions create the bad situation we don’t like or make it much worse. The answer is not to get mad at God and complain. Turn to God and ask Him for forgiveness and help to get through the challenge. Ask Him for joy and encouragement. As Him for mercy and grace. These things He will give to a submitted and repentant heart.  God is indeed just, but He is also compassionate and kind.

Pray that He would use the difficult circumstances for good, for His glory through you. Pray He would bring good from the hard times. Then patiently and faithfully trust that He can and He will, even if it may not look like what we want in the situation. Let us cling to the Lord, knowing He may simply be bringing us through personal growth or to a place even better than where we started… as He was bringing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land. Rather than complain and blame the Lord, we should pray for the Spirit to help us be patient along the journey.

Trust God in the desert. Faith and obedience bring us to the promised land.

P.S. Want to know how God responded to the unrighteous complaints of the people? Read on further in Numbers 20. Once a righteous man interceded and asked the Lord for help, He provided them water, despite their general lack of faith and active complaining. I believe He did so to try to continue showing the people His glory to help lead them to trust and follow Him. Only in trusting Him would their journey truly get any easier as they continued in the desert.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Lord Encourages The Faithful Abundantly As They Do His work

Mary and Joseph married and Mary’s pregnancy came to near full term and then they were called to travel to Bethlehem for a census. This would seem a hard journey given Mary’s condition. When they arrive, they find no room at any inn, but instead go to a stable and Mary gives birth to Jesus there. Not exactly an easy path in life as they get started together. However, the Lord continued to provide them encouragement along the way.

The Lord provided an angel as messenger. He provided Elizabeth’s pregnancy to help and encourage Mary. He provided the shepherds at the stable where Jesus was born. Now as Jesus is presented at the temple, the Lord provides another to continue encouraging Mary and Joseph about who Jesus is as Messiah. Then He brings in Anna as yet another. The Lord encourages the faithful abundantly as they do His work.

Luke 2:21-38

Jesus Presented at the Temple

     21And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

      22And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”

      25And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

      29“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;

      30For my eyes have seen Your salvation,

      31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

      32A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

      33And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

      36And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

I am so grateful that our Lord sees fit to encourage us and reaffirm to us when we are on the right path, the path of obedience. It is not always the easiest path. Quite the contrary, sometimes the sinful and selfish path appears the easiest. “Just go along and get along”. But He calls us to be separate. Along the way there are trials and difficulties. It is such a blessing when He provides us with other believers around us or a word from the Spirit within us to encourage us and affirm to us that we are on the right path. I have experienced this many times in my life as a believer. I am greatly encouraged by how much my Father cares for me and for my family. He truly supports and guides us along the way… sometimes at just those times when the journey may seem most difficult.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.