Be encouraged - and be an encourager!

I ask myself, “Am I living up to that calling? Have I spread love and good deeds in my walk of faith? Have I responded to a cry for help? Have I given anyone an encouraging word?"

An Air National Guardsman was arrested after allegedly applying to be a hitman online.

Iowa teens were upset with a Spanish teacher over a bad grade. So they killed her in the park with a baseball bat.

A woman was fatally shot by a N.Y. homeowner after she went up the wrong driveway.

After days of outrage over the shooting of a Black teen, officials charge the gunman.

Four were killed and 28 injured in a shooting at a teen’s birthday party in Alabama.

What in the world is going on? The above were taken from yesterday’s and today’s news headlines. As God gives us tomorrow, there will be more of the same.

As Christians living in a fallen world, Jesus told us we will have trouble. He is right. This world is troubled.

It is important for us, as men and women of God to show the world that there is a better and more excellent way. At the same time, crime is so rampant, evil so ubiquitous, that we ourselves must stay the course. We have to be present for one another and hold one another up when the going gets tough. Husbands and wives must be there to lean on and inspire one another. Family and friends need to check on each other, to go beneath the surface of “Hey, how are you doing?” and dig deeper. Christians are not immune from hurting, and lots of us are hurting.

So much has happened in the past few years – the COVID-19 pandemic, racial reckonings, social justice and injustice, financial upheaval, a new sexual revolution that disguises itself as freedom of choice, and so much more. The health of our country and our world has been compromised and challenged. Not just physically but mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

Yet through it all, the Holy Bible’s wisdom stands a beacon, as a lighthouse during times that can be so dark.

Just the other day, I came across these powerful verses that declare a call to action for every believer in the lordship of Christ: Hebrews 3:13 (NIV): But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NIV): Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

They remind us that we are called to be light amidst so much darkness and despair. We are called to remind one another and others that there is a bright side. We are to be the bright side and not grow weary in well-doing.

Be encouraged - and be an encourager!

I ask myself, “Am I living up to that calling? Have I spread love and good deeds in my walk of faith? Have I responded to a cry for help? Have I given anyone an encouraging word? Have I dug beneath surface conversations with Vanessa, my family members, or friends and said, “No, really – HOW ARE YOU DOING?” “I’m doing fine” is a typical answer but doing fine is sometimes the furthest thing from the truth.

These lives are so busy that we can be laser-focused on getting things done that we miss out on opportunities to be dispensers of God’s grace and mercy and joy. He didn’t create us to just go through the motions. He created us to embrace each day, including its challenges, and keep our focus on Him as we press in, press on, and yield ourselves to His Holy Spirit.

When you start your day, think about how you might live and act in ways that will motivate others to strive for better lives and follow the ways of Christ? We are called to make a difference.

Many of us do well in encouraging the ones we love. But it’s harder to be an encouragement to those we don’t particularly care for. How many times have you encouraged someone who has been mean to you, or ignored you, or said unflattering things about you? Jesus did, even as He suffered on the cross, calling on His Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The world is trying its hardest to normalize evil and acts that grieve the heart of God. We have come to a place in society where children who cannot dictate their bedtime can set the wheels in motion to change their gender. The word of God is often twisted and contorted to justify New Age criminality like the world has never seen. But through it all, God is not mocked. And He still gets the last word.

Be encouraged – and be an encourager!

Are we keeping our hands clean or are we going the extra mile to share the love of Jesus through thought, word, and deed? I applaud Vanessa who extends herself so often in reaching out to others. For the past two years, she has hosted a wonderful online Bible study. It has grown organically, and I’ve been able to listen in a few times. One of her Bible study members is John, a young man from India. Through the Bible study and its faithful members, hundreds of dollars have been donated to John and his village in a predominantly Hindu country where religious persecution of Christians is real. Vanessa and her Bible study class have prayed over John and raised donations and bought Bibles and food – they have spread the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ! Now, that’s what it’s all about. How did a man in India find a Bible study that started in Houston, Texas – well, there are no coincidences with God.

Vanessa is putting works with her faith. What about me – and what about you? Don’t we owe it to Him to do our best for Him?

Spend some quiet time with God. Ask Him to shine His light on new ways for you to share His love, to be an encouragement to your neighbor. He wants us to make an impact for the Kingdom.

I shudder when I read those headlines – death and destruction dominate the news. That’s why it’s so it’s important for us to stand. Christ is still Lord, still Savior, and God so loved the world that He gave Him to us, that through Him we might be saved.

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