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

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

Keep on fighting (day 23 of the #encourage marathon)

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Fight the good fight of the faith.

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

~ ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to mile marker 23 of the #encourage marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is tired of fighting. It might even be you.

We spent three days of the marathon talking about the armor of God:

Once you’ve equipped yourself for battle, it’s time to engage in the fight.

Ephesians 6.12  describes what we are up against:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

As much as I would love to see peace on earth, the cynic/realist/pessimist in me knows that if 1 billion people laid down their arms, there’d be at least 100 people secretly hoarding the deadliest weapons in order to stage a takeover. Satan has no desire for mankind to dwell peacefully together, being the original manufacturer of strife. So, let’s get real, and face the fact that as long as we are alive on this earth, there will be all sorts of wars—wars of words, wars of ideas, wars of conquest, wars of greed, wars to overthrow injustice, wars to resist oppression, and wars to depose dictators.

What battle are we called to fight as Christians? 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

Keep on keepin’ on. (Day #13 of the #encourage marathon)

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“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.”

2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to the halfway point of our #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.) **Please note, there is a typo on your PDF for today’s passage  it should be 2 Thessalonians 3.13 not 5.13**

Someone out there is wondering if all their hard work is worth it. It might even be you!

Do you ever wonder what it was like to be Jesus?

There is an old joke that has floated around for years highlighting the challenge of teaching:

Jesus took his disciples up on the mountain and gathered them around him. And he taught them, saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who are persecuted. Blessed are those who suffer. When these things happen, rejoice, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

And Simon Peter said, “Do we have to write this down?”

And Phillip said “Is this going to be on the test?”

And John said, “Would you repeat that, slower?”

And Andrew said, “John the Baptist’s disciples don’t have to learn this stuff.”

And Matthew said, “Huh?”

And Judas said, “What’s this got to do with real life?”

And then one of the Pharisees, an expert in law, said, “I don’t see any of this in your syllabus. Do you have a lesson plan? Where’s the student guide? Will there be a follow-up assignment?”

And Thomas, who had missed the sermon, came to Jesus privately and said, “Did we do anything important today?”

And Jesus wept.

It’s funny because students actually say those things and Jesus’ disciples were known for missing the mark a few times.

I can only guess how frustrating it must have been for Jesus to teach his disciples for three years, only to have them say things like, ‘what’s going to happen to this disciple?’ or ‘Are you now going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ or ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’

I can’t fathom his disappointment in their lack of faith, their shortsightedness, and their forgetfulness. It could be one of things he prayed about so often. Parents who teach their children about good behavior, good habits and manners feel a similar frustration when their kids repeatedly fail to adhere to what they’ve been taught.

Are these efforts futile? Not in the least!

Of the 12 apostles, only one went rotten and betrayed him. The other eleven committed their lives to Christ—preaching the gospel, teaching the church, and remaining steadfast in suffering and death. During Jesus’ life, it seemed as though they would never get it right, but the teaching and training obviously stuck.

Likewise, as a parent, the training is a constant effort involving relentless repetition and consistency. It may appear to be futile at the moment, but someday it’ll sink in! Before you know it, they’ll be responsible adults. There is always the possibility that they’ll choose to ignore your teaching (that’s called free will, by the way), but your job is to keep on teaching and to pray earnestly for them.

In whatever way you serve—parent, teacher, preacher, elder, deacon, mentor, friend—do not grow weary in doing good. Remember that you are working for the Lord who will not despise your obedient effort. We may or may not get to see the fruit of our labor a here in this life, but we will see it in the next.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

~ Colossians‬ ‭3:23-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Keep on keepin’ on. It’ll all be worth it someday.


I hope you’ll continue to join me on Facebook, Twitter 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.

Be strong. Fear not. (Day 12 of the #Encourage Marathon)

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Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

~ Isaiah 35.3-4, ESV

Welcome to mile marker 12 of our #Encourage Marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is anxious. It might even be you!

If you read or copied down Hebrews 12.12-13 on Day 8, you may sense a bit of repetition here. We already talked about the need to get motivated. Today, let’s talk about battling anxiety.

Fear and anxiety are part of the human condition. As we grow in age and experience, certain fears increase while others vanish altogether. Adults  tend to worry excessively, because we have so many responsibilities.

Continue reading

Do not shrink back (Day 11 of the #encourage marathon)

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Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

~ Hebrews 10.35-39, NASB

Welcome to mile-marker 11 of our 26-day #encourage marathon. (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is tempted to shrink back to the world. I hope that it isn’t you! If you are so tempted, I hope this short article will encourage you to keep moving in the right direction.

Today’s passage begins, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence…” As you read through the Bible, take note of the word, “therefore.” Whenever you spot it, back up a few verses and figure out what it’s there for. In this particular passage, the preceding verses list some of the trauma those Christians had already endured because of their active faith in Christ. The Hebrew writer urges them not to cast aside their confidence/hope because they have already lost so much. He pleads with them to endure and not “shrink back.”

To shrink back is utter failure. To shrink back is forfeiture of the prize.

To “shrink” from something connotes fear coupled with backward motion. Visualize in your mind’s eye a person leaning away from a burning building or stepping slowly backwards from a deadly enemy.

Consider with me, for a moment, the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego In Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar afforded them with two options—worship an idol with his favor or burn alive under his condemnation. These men had firmly followed God already, and the Lord had blessed them abundantly. Now, they were faced another, far greater challenge. They could have chosen to shrink from the fire and do the easy thing. They did not shrink back, but walked resolutely toward their fear—straight into the fire for the sake of the Lord.

Did God abandon them in the fire? Did he allow it to consume them?

The scripture tells us that an angel was with them in the furnace. When the three men emerged from the fire, their clothes were not singed, and the ropes that bound them had vanished. (There is another lesson in that as well—sometimes our times of trial and testing remove earthly bounds that keep us from the Lord!) They had faith in spite of their fear. Oh, that I and all believers would possess a faith such as theirs!

If there stands in our narrow path fire in front and mountains on either side, we have but two choices—turn back or walk through the fire. Do not shrink back, but look toward the reward that you see flickering beyond the flames. Keep running forward. You will not have to go through the inferno alone. Recall that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before you. They survived the blaze, and, through Christ, you can too.

Don’t shrink back. Press ahead toward the prize. It is a prize that demands everything, but is worth far more than anything.


I hope you’ll 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.

Here is my handwritten rendering of yesterday’s passage:

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[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.

Here is a list of the days we’ve covered so far:

Not destroyed (Day 1)

Do not lose heart (Day 2)

More than Conquerors (Day 3)

Joy will come (Day 4)

Renewed Strength (Day 5)

Coming Glory (Day 6)

Run with Endurance (Day 7)

Lift those drooping hands! (Day 8)

Run with Discipline (Day 9)