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Verses for Encouragement

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. Isaiah 53:6, NLT                      I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psalms 16:8, NLT                    . . . he offers his friendship to the godly. Proverbs 3:32b, NLT               For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT         For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11, NLT               How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalms 139:17-18, NLT           

Who is Jesus Christ?

The first Album I bought as a child was Bill Cosby.  In the Album Bill says that although his father was a brilliant man, he confused Bill.  His story was that from the age of 1 to 7 he thought his name was “Jesus Christ”.   He would walk into a room and trip over the carpet and his dad would say, “Jesus Christ, can’t you walk.” He would be sitting at the table and reach for some bread.  The water glass would be in the way so Bill would just knock it over.  His father would say, “Jesus Christ, clean the water up.”   This illustrates how loosely we  use the name of Jesus.    Compared  to the language many of us hear in the work place every day, this is very mild.  However, it begs the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”  Why is his name so common? What do we mean by using it as a swear word? I hear interesting theories concerning this question.  Some say He was a great teacher, others say He was a prophet, and others that He was the Son of God.  Some do not know much about H

Truth

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans 12:3, NLT) Paul was well educated and a leader.  He traveled throughout the Roman Empire teaching.  He was chosen by God to lead the start of the Church among the nations.  From such a position he thought it was important to “give each of you this warning.”  We do tend to think we are better than we actually are.  It is easy to look at others and think our way is better.  The divisions in our world run deep.  There are divisions between liberals and conservatives, gays and straight, pro-choice and pro-life and the list is endless.  Each side knows that their side is right, and because of that conviction it seems that we start thinking we are better.  Just as a thought, perhaps what Paul says immediat

God's Children

To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:12-13, NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:14-17, NLT) For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. (Galatians 3:26-27, NLT) See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, an

Confused and Helpless

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  Matthew 9:36, NLT Jesus was traveling through towns and villages teaching and healing.  Crowds gathered wherever He went.  Here we have a report of what Jesus thought when He saw the crowds.  Matthew wrote in Greek.  The Greek words behind our translation of “he had compassion” imply that this was a gut wrenching experience for Jesus.  Also, the words behind “confused and helpless” are emphatic.  “Confused” is an interpretation of a word that originally meant “to flay” and could accurately be translated “painfully annoyed”.  The word behind “helpless” has a root meaning “to throw”, and thus carries the idea of scattering or dispersing. This is the way we are without Christ.  Where do you go for truth?  How do you measure truth?

Avoiding the Pitfalls

The Bible tells us, “Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.” (2 Peter 2:8, NLT)  Lot lived in the midst of wickedness that claimed even his family and yet he remained righteous.  There has to be a secret. Psalm 1 gives us that secret.  Verse 2 says, “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:2, NLT) I want you to consider the meaning of the word “but” as used in this context.   T he Hebrew author used two words that are directly translated, “for lo”.   “For” could also be translated because.   So the writer is saying, “Because, look, he delights in the law of the Lord.”   The point is this is not just the contrasting behavior; this is the reason for his happy avoidance of the traps. 

Shelter

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1, NLT)  God is a shelter during times of trouble.  In each generation there are many who attest to this truth.  It defies explanation, and like the taste of honey has to be experienced to be understood fully.

Peace with God

“All we like sheep have strayed away.  We have left God’s plans to follow our own.” (Isaiah 53:6, NLT)  To find peace with God we need to repent of all our efforts to get our own way.  Some of us try to do everything right and in turn expect God to give us everything we want.  Others of us decide to say, “I will do it my own way.”  Both need to repent.  Here is an irony:  We strive to get our own way with God, but for His part God already wants to give us more than we can even imagine and the only thing stopping Him is us.  The greatest thing any of us can have is to be at peace with God, and He has already given His Son to make peace possible.  The only thing standing in the way is us.

Thirsty?

Have you ever been thirsty, really thirsty?  The desires in our souls are often compared to thirst.  When you are thirsty, the desire for water can override everything else. We pursue money, sex, entertainment and a thousand other desires like our lives depend on it. Driven by an overpowering thirst, our lives are poured out in a passionate pursuit. God saw this happening with the ancient people of Israel and said:  “My people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” (Jeremiah 2:13, NLT) Here in this passage God is using a metaphor.  He is comparing the thirst of the soul to the thirst for water.  Our souls hunger and thirst for God.  Without God we are parched and thirsty on the inside.  God says here that He is the fountain of living water.  There are two evil things God addresses.  The first is that His people have abandoned Him

Fixated

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Fixated or Fixation: the state in which an individual becomes obsessed with an attachment to another human, an animal, or an inanimate object. (Wikipedia) Acquire an obsessive attachment to: (Webster)  What does it mean to be human? The scientific community has given us the Latin name: Homo sapiens: according to Wiktionary this is from Latin homo (“human being, man”) + sapiens (“wise, sensible, judicious”) We consider ourselves wise, sensible and judicious. And yet, Idolatry is part of the human condition. It is as old as humanity itself. Did you have to study Greek mythology? I suppose we all did. It is part of our culture. The days of the week are named after these deities. Tuesday – Mars the god of war; Wednesday – Mercury the god of commerce; Friday – Venus the god of love and beauty. When we think of idolatry, we think of statues and objects. However, consider what the gods we just listed represented. They represent things that even now men and women devote their liv

He Carries Our Burdens

Are you facing a situation that is beyond hope? Perhaps it is a relationship that you know will never get any better. Perhaps it is a physical condition. Jesus is the only one who can take these burdens for us. When our strength and wisdom have no answers there is still a place to turn. The Bible tells us, “He took up our pain, and bore our suffering.” (Isaiah 53:4, NIV) John in his account of Jesus’ life tells of an incident where a friend of His died. A dead person would seem to be about as far beyond hope as it gets. In the case of this friend, Lazarus, Jesus chose to bring him back from the dead. There are not a lot of cases where Jesus chooses to do this, but He does promise to be with us. He does help us carry the load. He took up our pain, and bore our suffering. God gives us hope even when things seem beyond hope.

Bad Things Happen

John tells the story of walking one day and seeing a blind man. Everyone knew that this man had been born blind. The question came up as to why this person had been born blind. The assumption of John's day was that either the person with the problem or the parents of the person had done something bad. When asked why this had happened to the man, Jesus said it was not that the parents or the person born blind had done anything wrong. But, it was rather an opportunity for God's work to be displayed and then Jesus healed the man. God wants a relationship with beings that like Him can make their own choices. Because of this, He has allowed us to make our own choices even though He is all powerful and could have made us differently. We all make bad choices at times, and and when selfishness and hate take over someone's heart evil choices are made. As a result, there are evil and tragedies in our world. In these there is opportunity for God's work to be displayed. W

Mary Magdalene

We meet Mary early in the ministry of Jesus. Luke mentions her in chapter 2 verses 1& 2: “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out.” Jesus had traveled about from town to town with the twelve and with these women. We know that Mary the mother of Jesus and this Mary stayed by the cross as Jesus suffered. There is an account in the New Testament of a man afflicted by a legion of demons. However, 7 demons is a large enough problem. The number is given to us to indicate that her affliction was severe. Therefore, her gratitude was great. She was first to the tomb, the most persistent in seeking His body, and the first to see Him alive. Perhaps her great deliverance explains the depth of her devotion, and perhaps it is a credit to her gender. It was

He is the King!

There were four insults thrown at Jesus while He was on the cross.  These four insults were the truth.  In their insults, Jesus’ tormentors preached the gospel and gave a message of hope to those of us who are willing to hear it.  I must first set the stage. It was not just the insults that Jesus endured. His suffering was for our salvation. Therefore, all the sins of the world were heaped upon Him.  Look at how this process began. In humility and as a true servant seeking the best for his disciples, Jesus washed the disciples feet. Then thy sat down for what we know as the last supper. The apostle John was sitting next to Jesus and this is what he records of one of the events at that table: Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” (Betrayal is one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship. Jesus is sitting with those whom He has spent almost every waking minute for 3 years. He was troubled and it s

The Meaning of the Cross

Crucifixion

What is Crucifixion? Watch  Crucifixion: A medical perspective

Time's Up

And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. (Genesis 7:10, NIV)  Have you ever waited expectantly for a day and then suddenly it is over?  When I was little, it seemed like Christmas would never come as I anxiously waited.  Now many Christmases have come and gone.  It seemed like nothing would change or happen as Noah worked for years in preparation until finally time was up.  Fast forward to the present day, Jesus is coming back.  He promised He would.  The Bible tells us that the world will continue with business as usual until one day time will be up, just like in the days of Noah.  Go ahead, don’t worry about it.  You’ve got time.  Or, do you?

Destruction

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.”  (Genesis 6:13, NIV)  The word destroy caught my attention.  God does not like violence filling the earth.  A just and loving God does not like the horrible things that happen every day on our earth.  The judgment of Noah’s time destroyed everything and everybody. However, for Noah He made a way out.   He has also made a way out of the judgment to come for anyone who will accept it.   “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

Obstacles to Faith

Jesus’ words are life.  He is our hope and salvation.  Not everyone accepts this, and for different reasons.  However, look at the words of Jesus, not at what religion has made of it or what others have said about what Jesus said.  Something Jesus said in John 5:44 pointed out to me one of the biggest obstacles to my faith.  Here it is:  “No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.” (John 5:44, NLT)  What keeps you from believing?

Walking with God

"This is the account of Noah.  Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God."  (Genesis 6:9, NIV)  The Bible tells of a number of people who “walked with God.”  Most of their names are well known to those familiar with the Bible.  Considering that God is the all-powerful maker of everything, doesn't it make you just a little bit curious as to what it means that they “walked with God?”  God has given an open invitation and wants you to walk with Him also.

God Grieves

God grieves. We see it whenever God has had to deal harshly with people.  Before He sent the flood, the Bible says he was grieved.  We know also that He had Noah try and warn people for many years while he built a boat.  God shows His heart for this world in that He was willing to pay for our wrong doing by giving His own Son.  He warns those who would do wrong and says, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone.”  (Ezekiel 18:32, NIV)  God invites us to come to Him and live.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)  The point is that He expresses sorrow over those who turn away and reject His offer of life.

Judgment

Jesus said, “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”  John 12:47-48, NIV Jesus does not condemn us.  He says in another place that He came that we can have life.  The Bible is clear that God remembers that we are but dust and He is more than willing to forgive our failures.  Why would we reject Him?

The Spirit's Contention

God is constantly reaching out to us.  In the book of Genesis He says, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever.” (Gen. 6:3, NIV)  How does He contend with us?  This question takes me to a comment that Jesus made when He looked at Jerusalem.  He said, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Mat. 23:37, NIV) Does His Spirit contend with you today?