Finish strong (Day 26 of the #encourage marathon)

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Welcome to the finish line! We made it to the end of our marathon! Continue reading

Help! I need somebody, not just anybody… (Day 25 of the #encourage marathon)

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I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121, ESV

Welcome to mile marker 25 of the #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is struggling alone. (At least, they feel alone…) It might even be you.

If you’ve ever heard the Beatles’ song “Help!” You’ll recognize their lyrics in the title. We do need help from “somebody,” and not just “anybody.” We need help from the Lord.

When life gets hard—it does, and it will, if it hasn’t already—we find ourselves in a state of loneliness. Our eyes and heart look down, our feeling of isolation grows, and we cast desperately about for support. The danger is in looking for help in all the wrong places—drugs, alcohol, friends, weapons, etcetera. Hills may offer high ground and hiding places, but they are incomparable to strongest helper of all—the Lord.

How is the Lord a strong helper?

He made heaven and earth.

There is a tendency to gloss over this point. Consider, for a moment, the vastness of the earth and the far more incomprehensible reaches of the universe. Yeah, the God that I serve made all that. Now, flip that around and consider the invisible atom or the microbes that can only be observed under high-powered microscopes. The God I serve is so observant, that he knows the number of all those trillions of microscopic entities. No problem of ours is so great he cannot tackle it, nor so minor that it escapes His notice.

He doesn’t sleep.

When the prophet Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and defied the prophets of Baal, he had a good laugh when they made futile supplications to a non-existent God. “Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18.27)

Our God never has to be roused to hear our prayer. He knows what we need before we ask Him; He just waits for us to bring our troubles. While we are asleep, God is still working. He never sits idle.

He is our keeper.

A keeper is, by definition, a guardian or caretaker. God is our guardian. The remainder of the Psalm emphasizes some of the ways in which God guards and cares for us. He watches our goings and comings and is concerned with every moment of our life, and the lives of the billions of people around us. Warren Wiersbe writes,

“In writing about the sun and the moon, the psalmist was saying several things. To begin with, in that part of the world, the burning sun is menacing (2 Kings 4:18-19Jonah 4:8), but at night, the sudden drop in temperature is both uncomfortable and unhealthy, if you lack warm covering. Day and night, our Father is with us to shelter us from that which could harm us. The Jewish people followed a lunar calendar (81:3), so the writer was also referring to days (the sun) and months (the moon). From day to day, from month to month, from season to season (Gen. 1:16-18), from year to year, our Father is with us in the many challenges and changes of life.(To read more, click this link to visit Bible Gateway.)

Are you seeking help from God first or do you come to Him only at the end of your tether?

Go to the One who is all-powerful, all-seeing, and far wiser than any human who has ever, or will ever, live upon this earth.

It could be today you feel alone and helpless. No mountain is too isolated, no storm too strong, no prison so impenetrable that God cannot reach you.


It’s almost over! Tomorrow we reach the finish line of our 26-day #encourage marathon! I hope you will join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner as we reach the end.

Feel free to download and share the graphics of these verses/passages on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage), or email them to a friend who needs encouragement.

Make some time to copy down these posts. Some of them are a bit long, but it only takes a few minutes. Ask your kids to do it with you. Don’t just be encouraged, encourage others!

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list. All these posts will be available here under the #encourage tag. You can also type #encourage in the search window at the top of the page.

Continue reading

Don’t look back! (Day 24 of the #encourage marathon)

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Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 3.13-14, ESV

Welcome to mile-marker 24 of the #Encourage Marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is clinging to the past. It might even be you.

My children love to race each other. It’s not exactly a fair race, as their difference in size makes it hard for the littlest one to keep up. My middle child, however, can outrun the other two (and usually does) as long as she doesn’t look back. She keeps her eyes focused on the “finish line” and leans her whole body towards the end. I’ve watched them run several of these little “races” and I’ve noticed that whenever my champion middle racer looks back, she slows down (and sometimes loses!)

In a race, runners don’t often spare a glance for who’s behind them, because they know it’ll slow them down. They have their peripheral vision to keep them apprised of who is gaining on them. Looking back in a race and in life will slow you down and trip you up. It isn’t worth it.  Continue reading

Be diligent (day 22 of the #encourage marathon)

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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

~ 2 Timothy‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Welcome to mile marker 22 of the #encourage marathon! I can’t believe we are almost to the end! I hope you have thus far been uplifted. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is discouraged. It might even be you.

When I was twelve, I was seized by a strong desire to be a medical doctor. I wanted to help people, write legible prescriptions, and treat nurses with the professional respect they deserved. I made it my goal to graduate at the top of my class with a impeccable grades. I wanted to my transcripts to be so irresistible that top schools would snap me up in an instant. I worked myself raw, often staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning to produce the best work I possibly could.  Continue reading

Never go into a fight without these 5 things… (Day 21 of the #encourage marathon)

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In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

~ Ephesians‬ ‭6:16-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to mile-marker 21 of our #encourage marathon! If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.

Someone out there is defenseless. It might even be you.

Do you ever yell at people in movies, even if it’s just in your head? “Don’t leave your weapon on the ground!” Or “What are you thinking going into that place alone? You need backup!” It’s almost like the person in the movie has lost common sense. Anybody with two eyes can spot the danger. These scenes are suspense winders, designed to heighten your sense of anticipation so that you will jump at the right moment.

(Honestly though, why would you drop your weapon when you know that the likelihood of attack is high?)

As Christians, we have 5 things we absolutely need to use everyday. Unfortunately, there are times we cast one aside or simply forget them—to our peril. Continue reading

Prepare yourself (Day 20 of the #encourage marathon)

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Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Stand therefore,

having fastened on the belt of truth,

and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.‭

~ Ephesians‬ ‭6:13-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to mile-marker 20 of the #encourage marathon! We are in the home stretch! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is unprepared. It might even be you.

When a soldier prepares for battle, he or she “suits up.” They go through a process (usually the same process they’ve established each time) of putting each piece of gear in place—Undershirt, uniform shirt, pants, duty belt/gear belt, boots, bullet-proof vest, ammunition, helmet, and weapon(s). This process of preparation is vital, as each battle brings different challenges. A soldier must be in constant readiness.

Each morning, as we awake to face a new day, we are entering into a battle zone. We have no idea what that day’s battle will bring, though we usually have plans. We do not know what temptations, trials, or challenges our enemy will throw at us.

In the previous post, I noted that Paul encourages the Ephesians to take up the “whole” armor—not just selected pieces. He repeats this encouragement in today’s section in verse 13. “Take up the whole armor… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.” We cannot withstand in the evil day if we haven’t readied ourselves. Continue reading

Be Strong (Day 19 of the #encourage marathon)

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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

~ Ephesians 6.10-12, ESV

Welcome to mile-marker 19 of our #encourage marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is weak. It might even be you.

We can be strong in all the wrong ways, making us weak in the struggles that matter most. One may be strong in knowledge, but have no clue as to how to apply it. One can be a strong drinker, corroding their liver and slowly killing themselves. One can be strong in body, but unable to control their temper, making them a bully. Continue reading

Hope is rising (Day 18 of the #encourage marathon)

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Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

~ Lamentations 3.19-24, ESV

Welcome to mile-marker 18 of our #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there needs the Lord. (That would be all of us…)

If you look back at your life, do you ever recall a day in which the sun did not rise? You may not have seen it, or a storm may have been so dark that you barely registered it, but did the sun fail to rise?

I’ve been alive since 1981, and I’ve never failed to see a new day. The sun always rises. It is even more dependable than death and taxes.

Who created that flaming orb? Who ordained the seasons and the earth’s rotation? What does it reveal about Him? The only thing more constant than the sunrise is the Lord who made it. If He is more dependable than the sunrise, can we count on Him to fulfill His promises? Can we trust Him to be there for us when we face trouble? Can we rely on Him to be present in our despair?

Yes. A thousand times, yes. Continue reading

What would you do without your Bible? (day 17 of the #encourage marathon)

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For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

~ Romans 15.4, ESV

Welcome to mile-marker 17 of our #encourage marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there has a starving soul. It might even be you.

What is your reaction when you misplace your cell phone? What do you do when you leave home without it? Do you feel a spike in your stress level?

Why?

Because we use our phones for everything. It’s a source for music, books, news, communication, information, weather, and navigation. We can get help instantly in an emergency (as long as we have a signal). We can even monitor our home security systems. It’s become a valuable tool and a lot of people would feel lost without it… unfortunately.

Now, what would happen if your only bible went missing? Continue reading

3 Qualities We Gain Through Challenges (Day 15 of the #encourage marathon)

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Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations,
knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

and perseverance, proven character;
and proven character, hope;

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

~ Romans 5.1-5, NASB

Welcome to mile marker 15 of the #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here).

Someone out there is under pressure—the intense, transformative kind. It might even be you!

A diamond is one of the hardest materials on earth, highly resistant to abrasions. This mineral is a carbon structure formed in the mantle of the earth under intense pressure and heat (between 1,650 F and 2,370 F). These two factors transform the molecular structure of the carbon to make what we know as a diamond.

In short, a diamond is formed through darkness, depth, intense pressure, and consuming heat; becoming one of the strongest minerals on earth.

In a similar way, God is forming us into diamonds through the intensity of our trials.

Let’s have a look at the three qualities produced through tribulation:

Perseverance 

 

I recently listened to an audiobook of The King’s Speech, a historical narrative focusing on King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. It is far better than the movie (and doesn’t contain all the bad language!). King George was not supposed to be king; that designation had been intended for his elder brother, Edward. In their early years, Edward was easily liked, excelled at everything, and was dashingly handsome. For him, everything was effortless. By contrast, King George (known as Bertie in his youth) spent his entire young life struggling, primarily with his stuttering speech. Prior to becoming king, he consulted Logue to improve his speaking abilities. Logue noted that if all his patients worked as hard as the king, they would all be cured of their speech problems.

Edward had one of the shortest reigns in the British Empire. He could not handle the pressures and responsibilities of ruling a kingdom. He’d never had to do anything hard and therefore had no developed strength for such a challenge. Bertie, on the other hand, had struggled to succeed his entire life. When he took the reigns as king he was able to successfully fill his role during one of the darkest periods of the British Empire (World War II).

King George had learned perseverance, a rare quality which can only be formed under relentless pressure.

Proven Character

Character is made up of one’s moral qualities. We know what sort of character God expects us to have, but it is under trial that our true nature is exposed and beaten into shape. Trials prove our character or else show where it needs to be improved.

Hope

I used to think hope was wishful thinking. You ‘hope’ something will happen as you cross your fingers and wish on a star, but the likelihood is low. It was in college, however, that the preacher at our congregation changed my understanding of this common word completely. Hope, he said, was a confident expectation for good—quite the opposite of wishful thinking!

As a Christian, our hope isn’t hanging by a thread. We are confident that God will save us. We are confident He hears us. We are confident He cares for us. We are confident in His promises.

Going back to the diamond analogy, a diamond is strong and hard. When we endure trials, it creates a diamond-like hope; one that cannot be marred by anything in this life. That hope inspires. That hope, like a diamond, leaves an impression on any person it touches.

Today, you might be in a dark place, surrounded by ashes, trembling beneath an intense load, and perspiring in the heat. The Lord will not allow you to be reduced to blackened rubble. If you place your trust in Him, you will emerge from this trial as an awe-inspiring diamond—a valuable treasure to the Lord.


Please continue to join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share the image or verse reference on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

Make a little time each day to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading. When I was in college, I used to recopy my notes—cleaning them up, adding things I remembered, and placing emphasis on important facts. Because of this effort, I rarely had to cram for midterms or finals. I encourage you to make a practice of copying Bible verses, it really does help in the effort of committing the word to memory.

[If you click on the link in the passage at the top of the post, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.