Encouraging Words 


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that we all need some encouragement in one way or another. Some of us need encouragement to get up and face the day. Others need encouragement to try one more time. Some receive love through words of encouragement. I also think we all need our faith encouraged at times because we all face difficult times that challenge what we believe. The great news is that all of us are capable of encouraging someone else.

Each of us can send a text, a meme, make a phone call, or talk to someone today to encourage them. It can be as simple as, “I’m praying for you.” It could be, “Smile. God loves you.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a lot of people who struggle this time of year and they need your words of encouragement. Today, ask God to put people in your path and on your heart who needs words of encouragement, then speak to them what He puts on your heart. B an encourager today even if you need encouragement yourself. You’ll be surprised how it encourages you too. 

Here are some Bible verses on encouragement. 

1. But those who proclaim God’s message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:3 GNT

2. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Ephesians 4:29 NLT

3. Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMPC

4. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.
Proverbs 10:21 NLT

5. Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us.
Romans 15:4 GNT

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A Life Of Grace 


I think grace is one of those things that’s hard for us to understand because it goes against human nature. It’s forgiveness. It’s free. It’s unearned. Not only are we supposed to receive it, we are supposed to give it. Doing those two things seems like a constant battle for most of us. How can God or anyone else forgive the things I’ve done? How can I forgive something someone else has done to me? Those are tough questions that we all wrestle with, but in my life, I’ve found God’s grace to be sufficient. 

In the New Testament , Paul used the word grace over and over. If anyone needed it, it was him. He had hunted down and murdered Christians. He even referred to himself as the chief of sinners. If anyone had a past that was seemingly unforgivable, it was him. He had to learn to accept God’s grace and forgive his own past. If he struggled with it, he knew others would too. That’s why in Acts 13:43, referring to Him, it says, “The apostles spoke to them and encouraged them to keep on living in the grace of God” (GNT).

He had to remind himself, others, and us to keep living in God’s grace. Our past sin is not greater than God’s grace. You might be thinking, “But you don’t know what I’ve done!” I don’t have to know. As I said, Paul was a murderer. Specifically he murdered Christians. God’s grace is more powerful than anything you’ve ever done. Learn to accept His grace, forgive yourself, and then live in that grace. Remind yourself over and over that God has cast it as far as the east is from the west. If He’s not going to hold it over you, then don’t hold yourself down with it either. 

Part of loving life in the grace of God is also giving out grace. For me personally, this is harder than receiving God’s grace. I have to remind myself that they’re intertwined. To continue to receive God’s grace, I need to give grace. Jesus said that if we didn’t forgive others, God couldn’t forgive us. The first person we need to learn to forgive is ourselves. After doing that, learn to forgive others for what they’ve done. Living a life of grace is hard to do, but not impossible. You can do it with God’s help. 

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Working Together


One of the most powerful things I got to witness this year was at the United Cry event in Washington, DC. The leaders of predominately white denominations asked the leaders of predominantly black denominations for forgiveness of the racial injustices that blacks have suffered in this country. After seeking forgiveness for being quiet during those times, they then washed the feet of those ministers and joined in prayer together. They then agreed to work together in unity to bring about revival.

Separating ourselves based on race, skin color, and language has gone on since the Tower of Babel. Somewhere along the line, people stopped treating other people as equals because they weren’t the same. This line of thinking became part of cultures and even grew into the Church. The Early Church, including its leader Peter, struggled with it. His whole life he had been taught that non Jews were unclean and he couldn’t even go into their house. But all that changed one afternoon while he was praying on a rooftop.

In Acts 10, God gave him a vision of a picnic type blanket lowered from the heavens, and it was filled with unclean animals. God told Peter to kill and eat the animals. As Peter was struggling to understand, some servants of a Roman centurion knocked on the door. God told Peter to go with them. When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ house and he heard how God had spoken to him too, he said, “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Those who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him, no matter what race they belong to” (GNT).

Peter learned that day that God is against racism. He learned to love other races. That one encounter changed Peter’s entire life and ministry. So many of us are like Peter before that encounter. We are content to keep God’s love within our own race, language, and culture. We disassociate with people who don’t look like us, act like us, or think like us, but that is wrong. Racial reconciliation should begin in the Church. It should flow from God’s love for all His children. What happened in Washington, DC was a great start and should be happening all over this country. It’s time we put down our walls, sought forgiveness, and worked together for one cause.

If you’d like to watch the video of what happened at United Cry, click here. It’s about 30 minutes long.

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Strange Obedience 


My uncle told me the story of how my grandfather once pastored a small town church. They were dependent week to week on the offerings to make a living. For whatever reason, there wasn’t enough in the offering one week for them to get groceries. As my grandfather prayed about it that Sunday afternoon, he felt God telling him to go to the post office. He argued that it was closed, but he went anyway. When he arrived, sure enough, there wasn’t anyone there. After sitting there a while, he decided to get out of his car and check the door. When he did, a man walked up, handed him money, and walked away without saying anything. 

I don’t know if the other guy argued with God or not, but I do know that he showed up to a place that was closed. It took faith on both sides. It’s hard to obey God when it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what God asks of us sometimes. Part of it could be that He’s testing us. Part of it could be that we ask God for ridiculous signs so we can make sure it’s Him. Whatever it is, obedience is key. A Biblical example of this is a Phillip in Acts 8. He was preaching in a town, people were getting healed and saved to the point he needed help from the other disciples. That’s when God asked him to do something that didn’t make sense. 

Acts 8:26 says, “Later God’s angel spoke to Philip: “At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza” (MSG). The instructions were very specific, but they didn’t make sense. Leave a place full of people accepting Jesus to go down a deserted road? Why would God ask him to do that. He could have questioned whether he heard God or not, but he didn’t. He obeyed. What he found was one man on a chariot on his way back to Ethiopia reading the book of Isaiah. 

He went up to him, explained what he was reading, and the man got saved. I’m sure it still didn’t make sense to leave many accepting Christ for one, but what we now know explains it. That eunuch went back to Ethiopia and started the Coptic church with has led many to Christ in Northern Africa through the centuries. Because of Philip’s obedience, generations have been affected, changed, and saved. God doesn’t just look at the immediate situation, He looks at the future situation. What doesn’t make sense now, may only make sense to future generations. 

Are you ready at a moment’s notice to obey when it doesn’t make sense?

Obedience is decided well before God asks. What can you do now to be prepared to obey later?

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Spiritual Refreshing 


When I was in high school, we would have 2 hour practices after school. Coach always started and ended practices with running. He would say, “Since we aren’t the tallest team, we are going to be the best conditioned team.” There were some brothers on the team who lived in some apartments across from the school. While running, we would say to each other, “Hey, once this is over, let’s go jump in the apartment pool.” The thought of jumping into that cool water was often enough to keep us going.

There was something about diving head first into that water after practice that was so refreshing. We would swim from one end to the other under water to make sure our whole body got cooled down. It was so refreshing, and we needed that because a couple of us worked jobs in the evenings. After all day of school and a two hour practice, we still had a four hour shift to complete before coming home and doing homework. Refreshment was needed.

There are times when we need spiritual refreshing as well. Sometimes things seem to hit us one after the other. It feels like we never get a break from it all. Those times of spiritual refreshing come and keep us going. Other times, we face the consequences of our actions, and those can lead us to spiritual exhaustion. The Bible says we can have spiritual refreshing in those times too. Acts 3:19 – 20 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do, times of spiritual strength (refreshing in AMPC) will come from the Lord” (GNT).

The word “repent” there means to change your mind and purpose and then return to God. When you’re mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted, you can change your mind and purpose behind doing things so that you bring honor to God. When you do, it’s like jumping into that pool after a two hour practice. God brings a refreshing into your life that brings spiritual strength with it. Just like everything else in Scripture, the first step in activating God’s promises starts with you.

What in your mind do you need to change today in order to return to God’s way of thinking?

If you haven’t been living for His purpose and you’re worn out, pray that God would help you to return to living for His purpose.

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Give

I’m taking a break from writing this week, but want to give you a scripture each day to think about as we head into Thanksgiving and kick off the Christmas season.


You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts of the Apostles 20:35 NLT

What would happen if instead of teaching our children to make list of things they wanted for Christmas, we made lists of things we wanted to give?

Remember, it’s free to give love, time, hope, peace, and understanding. 

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Stronger

I’m taking a break from writing this week, but want to give you a scripture each day to think about as we head into Thanksgiving and kick off the Christmas season.

Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:7 GNT

I’m sure you’re going to be filled with Thanksgiving today! While this is a once a year thing, building your life on God and becoming stronger in your faith takes work every day.

What’s something you’re doing every day to grow your faith?

What can you do differently than you’ve done to become stronger in your faith?

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