Encourage One Another

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I recently started an account with a website for photographers.

One of the characteristics of this site is that other photographers may view your photos, give feedback on your work through online comments and also click a “like” button or “favorite” button for shots they particularly enjoy.

In thinking about this, I must say that when I see that a certain number of people have spent their time looking at my photographs and perhaps even clicking the “like” button, it is encouraging.

I have yet to see any “do not like” buttons or degrading comments.

If someone doesn’t like a certain picture, well, they don’t have to say anything or click anything—just move on.

As Christians, we shouldn’t be about trying to let everyone know when we do something nice or good for another person.

The Bible talks about that.

If we do a good deed, we shouldn’t publicize it ourselves.

“Hey, look at me! I just gave this donation…….helped someone with a broken down car…….volunteered at a homeless shelter…..”

No.

That’s not the right thing.

Since we all still need encouragement though, I think something needs to take place.

When we see someone quietly going about life helping other people, what would be wrong in acknowledging that?

“The donation you gave to the children’s fund is going to make such a difference. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Wasn’t that you down the road the other day in the rain, helping that young couple with a flat tire? I should try to help people more often.”

“My daughter told me she saw you at the homeless shelter yesterday. She said you were feeding a man who had once suffered a stroke and had trouble holding a fork. You must really mean so much to those people down there!”

What if someone said these exact sentences to you?

It would almost be a few clicks of a “like” button for life.

Think of how you would feel if a few friends even decided your actions and attitudes were some of their “favorites”?

With every invisible click of the “like” button, you would probably feel encouraged and compelled to keep going.

Think about it for a moment…….is there a “like” button you could click to encourage someone today?

 

 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

—1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

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Be Made Well

 

 

 

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Vulnerability.

What exactly does that look like?

In this past year, I have heard vulnerability mentioned from several sources.

Personal vulnerability can range anywhere from having the courage to ask a store clerk which aisle the light bulbs are on to sharing deep, heart felt feelings with a close friend.

Both situations put us in a place of admitting a little of who we are.

Lost in a store without a clue to find what we need.

Making our emotions audible, risking acceptance.

But what about being vulnerable with God?

In one sense, we are completely vulnerable before God.

He is all powerful and we are mere humans.

In another way, however, we can choose to be vulnerable with God by being honest with Him about ourselves.

Let’s go back to the light bulb search for a moment.

Do we wander around our days through situations at work or school, looking for what we think we need, determined to fix things on our own without bothering God?

Do we research every possible way to solve a problem ourselves without asking Him for guidance and wisdom?

Let’s go back to the idea of sharing deep, heart felt feelings with a close friend.

Even though God really knows us, do we try to hide how we feel about certain things, becoming unwilling to share our deepest thoughts?

The good thing is, we can be vulnerable with God.

We can ask for directions and advice.

We can tell Him all about how we feel, trusting that He will accept us.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 9, we find the account of a woman who had been ill for 12 years.

Upon seeing Jesus in a crowd, she chose to be vulnerable as she went to Him and touched his clothes:

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (verses 20-22)

Will you and I choose to be vulnerable?

 

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I Know My Transgressions

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I walked into a gift shop the other day.

A beautiful salt water aquarium was near the front desk.

A clown fish swam cautiously behind the glass, perhaps aware of my presence.

Remember the movie, Finding Nemo?

I have always been struck by how a particular scene at the beginning of the film found closure at the end of it.

Being a parent myself, I can relate to Nemo’s father as he is anxious about his only child’s well being.

Having been a child myself, I can still remember wanting to do things that my parent was afraid for me to do.

In the movie, Nemo becomes very frustrated and angry with his father.

Then, the awful words are spoken.

“I hate you, Dad!”

And with that, Nemo is captured by a scuba diver and whisked away.

After many dangerous perils laced with adventure, Nemo and his father are finally united once again at the end of the story.

Do you remember Nemo’s first words to him when this happens?

“Daddy…….I don’t hate you.”

Nemo’s last words to him before he was captured had surely weighed heavy on his heart throughout all the time they were separated.

Have you felt this kind of regret before?

I have.

Words spoken that should never have been.

I know the longing to take them back and to say that I’m sorry—don’t you?

The best way for me to avoid this pain all together is to consider my words before they become audible.

Will I still become frustrated and angry?

Disappointed or critical?

If I do, I have a choice.

What will I say?

Psalm 51:3 reads,

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”

If I don’t want to carry the heavy knowledge of sinful words spoken hastily, I need to make sure they are not ever spoken.

But what if I fail?

I may ask forgiveness from those my words have reached and ask forgiveness from God…..

 

 

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For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Regret#sthash.Xs0sEFoU.dpuf
For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Regret#sthash.Xs0sEFoU.dpuf
For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Regret#sthash.Xs0sEFoU.dpuf

A God of Miracles

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Sitting on a canvas chair, I had just settled down not far from the ocean’s edge.

The sun was bright as people scurried around me, enjoying the water and playing in the sand.

My lap contained two cameras and a beach towel.

Suddenly, I felt a few drops of water.

Looking up, I saw crystal drops of water plunging from above me, blazing with white light.

The drops seemed to be coming from a clear, blue sky.

A little confused, I began to search for a cloud as the water fell onto my eyes.

Just a bit away, I spotted the white, cottony puff responsible for the sudden shower.

The wind was blowing the drops from underneath it over to the unsuspecting beach inhabitants.

Deciding to stay put, I placed the large beach towel around my head like a shawl, protecting myself and the cameras as best as I could.

With the towel partially closed around my face, my thoughts were drawn to prayer.

My heart was focused on two people I had been talking to God a lot about lately.

With certain situations in place with a great many concerns, both of these individuals weighed heavy on my heart.

Finally, my prayer ended with something like, “God, I need a miracle.”

The rain had ended.

As my face emerged from my personal striped terrycloth shelter, my eyes looked out to the ocean before me.

There, a radiant rainbow dazzled in the sky, arcing from the water to a distant cloud.

A miracle?

Yes, indeed.

Some might argue that God was not speaking to me through the pastel hues of His bow, but I know in my heart that He was.

He knew what my requests were for those that I was concerned about.

He knew that when I asked for a miracle that the first thing I would see was the rainbow.

That miracle was for me.

So, what will their miracle be and when will I see His work in the lives of those I was praying for?

The answers to those questions can only be given by God.

With a thankful heart, I am waiting in hopeful expectation to witness His miraculous power.

 

You are the God of miracles and wonders! You still demonstrate your awesome power.

–Psalm 77:14

 

 

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Suddenly All Was Calm

 

 

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Do you know the feeling of going from “Oh, no!” to “Okay!” in a matter of seconds?

There was the time when the power company accidentally placed an extra zero on the amount of our monthly bill.
Oh, no.
After calling them, they realized their error and adjusted things accordingly.
Okay.

There was the time that a doctor was showing me my diagnostic image that was taken because of a health concern.

I asked why someone else’s name was on the corner.
It was the wrong image. Not mine.
Oh, no.
The doctor was able to get the proper one with MY name on it.
Okay.

Our hearts can jump in our throats in a second, and blessed relief and assurance can come just as speedily.

When we are fearful, we can immediately reach out to God.
He can turn our, “Oh, no!”s into “Okay!”s just like that.

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  And Jesus answered, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm. –Matthew 8:23-26
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