Over twenty years ago, “Saving Private Ryan” came out in theaters. It starts off at the Battle of Normandy and is one of the few movies that captures the reality of that day. A group of men are sent to find Private Ryan because both of his brothers had been killed in action and the government deemed it too great a cost for one family to lose all their sons. At the end of the movie, you see an older Private Ryan standing in Arlington National Cemetery speaking to a grave. He said, “To be honest with you, i wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me on the bridge (“Earn this”). I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”
It’s a very moving scene where a man reflects on his life hoping that he lived it well in response to others paying the ultimate sacrifice so he could live. I can’t help but to put myself in his place thinking about Jesus paying the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. At the end of my life, will I be able to say, “Lord, I gave it my all in response to what you did for me”? Does His death on the cross motivate me, or you, to live our lives to the fullest or are we merely existing going through life without trying? Are we willing to risk it all for Him or are we playing it safe hoping to arrive at Heaven having done nothing for Him? Philippians 3:12 says, “I keep striving to win the prize” (GNT). Paul never took his foot off the gas pressing onward in response to what Jesus did.
Proverbs 15:9 puts it, “A life frittered away disgusts GOD; he loves those who run straight for the finish line” (MSG). God delights in us living our lives intentionally, not to try to earn salvation, but to show our love for Him. Each of us have one life to live, so live it to the best of your ability. Don’t waste your life just trying to make it through each week. Do something with it. Give yourself to serving others. Support people who give up everything to share the Gospel. Find out the name of an orphan and show them the love of the Father. Make your life matter. Life is not about becoming rich and famous. It’s about fulfilling what God created you for. Your life has purpose. Don’t fritter away the talents God gave you. Live life to the fullest.
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When God spoke to us about changing churches, we weren’t happy about it. At the new church we would come in late and leave early to avoid connecting with people. We did this for about nine months. Then the pastor reached out and wanted to go to lunch. At the lunch, he said, “I want you to know that I know you’re in our church. If you’re here to heal and want to move on, that’s fine. If you’re only here temporarily and want to move to another church, I can help you find one. If you’re going to stay here, let me know when you’re ready to get engaged. Whatever you and God decide, I’ll support.”
It was very impactful for me because he wasn’t just acknowledging I was there. He was calling me off of the sidelines and telling me that wherever I went I was going to have to get active again. When I was ready to get active again, I let him know. He had me meet with the executive pastor to see where I would fit best. He said, “We have a lot of places we could plug you into, but we want to find the right fit for you.” We met several times before finding a place. They were putting 1 Thessalonians 5:14 into practice.
It says, “We appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not in their place of battle. Be skilled at gently encouraging those who feel themselves inadequate. Be faithful to stand your ground. Help the weak to stand again. Be quick to demonstrate patience with everyone” (TPT). Each of us have a place on the battlefield with a job to do. At times, every one of us will feel inadequate and we need help standing. If you’re there now, surround yourself with those who will help you. If you see someone else in that place, reach out and help them. We are to help each other reach our potential and to do our part in the Kingdom work.
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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
If your spirit has ever been broken, you know how hard it is to get through the day. It’s hard to even wake up, let alone face people. Worry consumes your mind. You question everyone’s intentions, and your energy gets depleted. It’s tough to be stuck in that phase. If you’ve ever been through it, then you can empathize with others who are going through it. They need your support and encouragement more than your advice in those times.
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day” (MSG). When you see someone whose spirit has been crushed and they’re struggling to make it through the day, offer words that will encourage them to continue going. Chances are that it was words that put them in that state and its our words that can bring them out of it. If only we had the courage to speak them.
If you’ve ever watched an action movie, there is usually a scene where one person is hanging off a cliff or the side of a building and another person grabs them with one arm. They then use all their strength to pull that person back to safety. That’s what our words have the power to do. They can pull back someone who has been pushed over the edge and is barely hanging on. We have the power and strength to save someone’s life simply by encouraging them.
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up” (NLT). Paul’s words are a reminder to us as Christians that we are to constantly be encouraging, strengthening, edifying, and building each other up. We are to find a way to a cheerful heart. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing” (AMP). You can help heal someone’s brokenness today if only you will open your mouth to offer encouragement instead of correction or direction. You have the power, use it.
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I was sharing my story with someone and they made a remark about the encouragement I received from the people around me during that time. I agreed and told him I wouldn’t be around if it hadn’t been for those people who showed up and helped me through those times. We never know how important it is to someone when we show up in their time of need or say the right words when they need to hear them most. Those things provide the fuel people need to keep going when they’re ready to give up.
If you Google The word “encourage”, it means, “to give support, confidence or hope to someone.” You and I are told many times to encourage other believers and people around us. God knows that each one of us need words of encouragement to help us get through life. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to give encouragement to someone, and it can make a world of difference. Look around you today and offer encouragement to someone even if you’re not sure they need it. Doing it will brighten someone’s day and show them God’s love.
Here are some Bible verses on encouraging others.
1. A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life.
PROVERBS 15:4 AMP
2. And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 GNT
3. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.
Proverbs 10:21 NLT
4. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-15 MSG
5. Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.
Hebrews 10:24 TPT
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One of my prayers this year has been, “Lord, help us to plant seeds in fertile soil so you can maximize the harvest.” If you’re like me, there are ministries all around you who need funding to keep doing what they’re doing. There are ministers and missionaries who require money to fulfill their calling. There are people who need your counseling and time to minister to them and to help get them through a rough patch. Whether it’s time or money, we only have a limited amount of it, and I want to be wise with where I spend either. I want what I give to make the greatest impact possible.
The idea for the prayer came from a parable jesus taught in Luke 8. He spoke of a farmer who scattered seeds all around. Some fell on the side of the path, some fell in the rocks, some fell among the thorn bushes and some in fertile soil. No matter where it fell, things happened that caused the seeds not to produce. Only the seeds planted in fertile soil were able to withstand the things that tried to prevent growth. But verse 15 said, “The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit” (GNT). I love that those seeds persisted through whatever came against them and reproduced more fruit.
You and I are like that farmer. We scatter seeds wherever we go through giving of our time, our resources and our money. I believe that we can have wisdom in where we scatter those seeds and that we can do things to help those seeds persist until they reproduce. A farmer doesn’t just scatter seeds. They water them, enrich the soil with nutrients and pull weeds around them. If we want to maximize the harvest, we need wisdom in how and where we spend our time and money. It’s God who gives the harvest, but He only does that when we give when and where He tells us because only He knows which soil is fertile.
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I’ve stayed at a certain hotel chain enough that I’m Platinum Elite with them. One of the privileges that comes along with that status is called a Platinum Override. If I try to get a room in one of their hotels and it’s full, I can request a Platinum Override. They usually keep one or two rooms open for that, but if those are gone, they can bump another guest to make room for me. I’ve had to do that on a couple of occasions when I really needed a room and all the hotels were booked. When I apologize for asking for it, they remind me that I’ve earned that privilege with them.
I love how Philippians 2 talks about Jesus. It reminds us that He is God’s Son and had the privileges that come along with that. Verse 8 says, “Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion” (MSG). Jesus could have played His Platinum Override card when the time came to die, but He didn’t. He endured the suffering because of His love for you and me.
Philippians 2 also reminds us to be like Christ in this manner. We are to live selfless lives that aren’t intent on getting ourselves ahead at whatever cost. Instead, we are to help others get ahead. Verse 4 says, “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Each of us have the ability lend a helping hand to someone else. There’s always someone else who is worse off than we are. Look for them today, put down your Platinum Override card and help them get ahead. In doing so, you’ll exhibit selflessness like Jesus.
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