Where no oxen are the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.
Another way of saying this is, “If you don’t want dirty diapers, don’t have babies.”
Blessings often come with maintenance issues. For instance, cars require that we fill them with gas, change the oil and make sure the tires are not too worn. Houses require that we clean them, repair the roofs and mow the lawn. Relationships often require work that we don’t necessarily want to do. We have to learn to forgive, to overlook, to be patient and learn to be kind. Sometimes we have to wade through a time of rebuke, knowing that we are not going to be liked.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus did not cherish the idea of going to the cross. As a matter of fact He asked the Father to let that “cup” pass from him. And yet in Hebrews 12:2 it says, “ . . . looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NKJV) Now God has exalted Him and given Him a name above every name. Before the glory there was the cross. Before exaltation, humility and shame.
What trough do you have to clean? What “mess” do you have to deal with in order to enjoy a blessing? Is it patience with a child? Is it being patient with yourself as you learn to develop a better habit? Is it learning to deal with the maintenance issues of your car so that it lasts longer?
Whatever it is remember, that life is full of “stuff” and we can deal with it by the power of Christ who lives in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Let us be like Jesus who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.
Father, so many times we focus on the negative instead of the positive. Too many times we focus on the work and not the outcome. Help us to be like Jesus who looked ahead at what would be instead of being consumed with the now.
As we read the papers, listen to newscasts and hear what most people are saying we discover that we are living in a negative world. The due mainly because of the human conditions. We are never satisfied, we never have enough and we believe the worst and share our negative views.
How can we be positive in a negative world?
1. Our focus should not be upon the negative but upon the promises found in God’s word. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. He has promised to meet all our needs according to His riches in glory. He is a God who cannot lie and who is able to do more than we ask or think.
2. Our focus should be upon the person of God, who is:
A. Infinitely wiser than us. Who has our best interest at heart and who sees our future with clarity.
3. Our attention should be upon the power of God who will meet our needs according to His riches in glory. He owns everything and everything He owns is within His reach!
With these attitudes in mind we can be positive in a negative world.
We continue to look at developing the skills necessary to be a great encourager.
1. Be a good listener. Listening is a skill that must be developed. We are often prone to speak before we have heard the whole story. Listening to the person speaking, making a point to look at them while they are talking makes them feel valued. Be conscious of your body language. Your posture can convey silent images that say one thing while you are pretending to say another. Ask God to help you be an unselfish listener.
2. Show genuine interest. Let the person know you car. Ask good questions. Ask for clarity. This shows the person you are seeking to encourage that they matter.
3. Make a point to say “well-done” when something good has been accomplished. Accomplishing it has taken some time and effort and we should be thankful for that effort.
4. Saying thank you, even if it is your spouse, helps others to know that what they’ve done is worthwhile and meaningful to you. My wife and I practice saying “thank you” all the time. When prepares a meal, I know it has taken time and effort, so I want her to know I appreciate it. Its my way of encourager her even in the routine things of life.
When I help her around the house, or wash the car or mow the yard, she expresses her thank and that encourages me. I know she appreciates me doing even the things that I am required to do.
Being intentional about being an encourager may be difficult for you if you are prone to be a pessimist; however, it is not an impossible mission. Here are some thoughts that might help you.
1. Learn it is not all about you. Our purpose in life is not to live unto ourselves or just for ourselves. We are to use what we have to help others. You have gifts, talents, wisdom and energy that you can add to other people’s lives. Discover them and use them.
2. Don’t live the rest of your life today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Live for today. Today is the only day you have for sure. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may not come. Take advantage of this day. Make the most of it.
3. Make a list of the positives in your life. They are there. You can’t see them because you are focused on the negative. Choose to see the positive, control your mind. Focus your attention on the good, the positive, bright, the happy and you will see how to become an encourager.
We continue to think about being an encourager. The Bible teaches us that we are comforted with the comfort we receive from God to comfort others who are experiencing the same trials, troubles and temptations that we face. In other words, it is the will of God that we encourage one another. The word encourage comes from the Greek “parakaleo” which is from the same root word for the Holy Spirit (Paraklete) which means Comforter. When we seek to comfort or encourage others we are fulfilling the will of God for our lives.
The Scriptures teach us to bear one another’s burdens to speak words of edification to those around us and lift them up in their times of difficulty. This kind of selfless attitude is exactly the kind of attitude that Jesus had while on earth. When He was tired, stressed, over-burdened He still thought of others and sought to add value to their lives.
Why should we concern ourselves with being an encourager? Why should we take the time to be intentional about encouraging other people? Because, everyone needs encouraging. All of us are fighting some battle. It may be the battle of the bulge (losing weight). It may be a relationship issue or a financial crisis. The truth is, life is filled with problems and there is plenty to discourage us.
How refreshing to encounter someone who seeks to add value to our lives by being an encourager. What a difference it makes when we meet people who have chosen not to focus on themselves but others. It lifts us up, gives us new energy and a fresh approach to the future.
Do you need encouraging? Do you enjoy being encouraged? Sure you do! So, be an encourager!
When I was placed into the body of Christ through faith in Christ, God gave me a spiritual gift. This gift according to the Bible, is to be used to edify the body of Christ, that is, other believers. I have discovered that when I work within my giftedness I get energy. When I work outside my giftedness I usually am drained. So it is important for each believer to discover their spiritual gift and then learn how to use it in the body of Christ.
According to the Scriptures, each person is given a spiritual gift to be used to edify or mature the saints (believers) Ephesians 4:16. So that it is important to know that God doesn’t want us to squander our spiritual giftedness by refusing to administer it, but He wants us to grow by using our giftedness to help others grow in the faith. John Maxwell calls this “adding value” to the lives of others.
I have discovered that my spiritual gift is encouragement. I love encouraging people! It is something in which I look for ways to do. So from now on this blog is going to be devoted to encouraging people to think positive, to live life at its fullest and to discover the giftedness that God has placed with them.
Next time we’ll look at why we should be encouragers.
As a student at Oakland City University in Oakland City IN, we study the Great Commission. We learned that the “Go” is a command and actually means “you go”. It carries with it the idea that as we are going through life we are to look for and be sensitive opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with those who are unsaved. Bill Hybels in his book, Just Walk Across the Room gives practical ideas in how we can develop relationships, enter into “soul” conversations and plant seeds of faith in the lives of those far from God.
And the great thing is that we are not alone. It is a co-mission. That is it is a shared mission. It is the mission of God and is the mission of all true followers of Christ. Jesus says . . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. So we do not have to be afraid. Jesus is with us, helping us, guiding us and giving us the words to say as we depend upon Him to enable us to fulfill His great commission.
Contextualized: Back to Basics
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV)
In every sport there are things that are known as fundamentals. Every athlete is trained to know and practice the fundamentals. Often when we face difficulties in life we need to return to the fundamentals. Many organizations have values known as core values, or fundamental principles, ideals and purposes that guide them. When they find themselves drifting they return to their core values, evaluate where they are and adjust course.
Every once in a while members of the Body of Christ need to return to the basics. We need to get back to what our purpose is and what God’s purpose is for us. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah urged the people to return to the old paths, to seek out the true way of life (Jeremiah 6:16). Folks, it’s not about building buildings. It’s not about outdoing the church down the road. It’s not about publicity or fame or numbers. It’s about reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s about getting people ready for the judgment. It’s about helping a world see the redemptive power that’s in the blood of Christ.
Individually, we may lose sight of our purpose on the earth. We may get caught up in the trap of consumerism, pleasure seeking and forget that we were born to serve the Lord. It’s not that having things is wrong or enjoying life is evil. What is wrong is going through life always thinking about me and no caring about the souls of people around us. When all I think about is my comfort, my problems, my world and my wants, then I have missed the purpose for which God created and redeemed me.
Someone once asked the question: “Will the world be a different place because you were here”. That’s a great question. Now I don’t advocate that we go around with some grandiose idea that we are God’s gift to the world; but I do think that we may not realize the impact that we can have on our world. If every person who knows Christ as their personal Savior got up every morning with the idea that they were going to make a difference where they are, in the part of the world they live in, we would see dramatic results. If every church decided they were going to make a difference in their community, communities would be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank God there are churches, denominations, individuals who are making a difference. Communities are being transformed, lives are being changed and Christ is becoming known in many places in the United States and the world because some people have a vision to be world changers. And it starts with getting back to the basics. Each one winning one to Christ is basic Christian theology. It is not rocket science, not does it call for rocket science. It’s just you and me loving God and loving others with a passionate love and desiring to see them in the Kingdom of God. May God help us get back to the basics.
Edward Gibbon in his book, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire listed the five following attributes that marked the fall of Rome:
1. A mounting love of show and luxury
2. A widening gap between the rich and the very poor.
3. An obsession with sex.
4. Freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity
5. An increase desire to live off the state.
Does this sound like a civilization that you know?
America is on the verge of becoming this type of society. Our focus must not be upon the material things of life, but upon the eternal things of life. Politics that promise everything but only makes dependents upon the citizens is not wise or prudent. Help us pray for a spiritual awakening for America. Let’s turn back to the values our country was founded upon.