Archive for the ‘Christian life’ Category


We all need help sometimes. When it comes right down to it, though, we need help all the time. Living as a disciple of Jesus Christ isn’t easy – it’s a narrow path as the Lord told us – and it was never meant to attempted alone. We need each other.

Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

The temptation, and very real possibility, for a believer is to drift away from faithfulness to Christ or, as the author says, “be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Not everyone who starts on the narrow road finishes it (the reason for it, and the meaning of it, is beyond the scope of this post). The cares of the world, trials, illness, suffering, money problems, general busy-ness, the remains of our fallen and sinful nature, and the wiles of  our adversary, the devil, all press against us in ways that can adversely effect our spiritual growth.

Because of that, we need to encourage each other each and every day, not just sometimes. We need to say to our brothers and sisters in Christ that they can make it; that they shouldn’t give up; that they should keep their eyes on Christ; that they should keep putting one foot in front of the other; that we’re with them and we’ll give them all the help we can; and that we’re praying for them. Not only do we need to say these things to each other, but we need to hear them from each other, too.

So, encourage one another – today and every day! We’ll get by with a little help from our friends.


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In my daily Bible reading in the last couple of days, I read Ephesians 4. It’s a great chapter, but when I was finished I went back and read verses 25 through 32 again. I thought to myself, “I could work on everything in this passage for the rest of my life and never master it.”

Here it is – try it on for size:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

I’m convinced there is enough in this passage to keep us busy for a long, long time. By the power of God’s Spirit, let’s get started (or keep going) – for His glory and our good!

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It didn’t take long for the Israelites to start complaining after God had delivered them from Egypt.

About two and half months after the Exodus, “The whole congregation of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out of this wilderness to kill this whole company with hunger'” (Exodus 16:2-3). That was pretty harsh, wasn’t it?

The Lord spoke to Moses and said that He would provide for His people in verses 4 through 7. Moses then spoke to the complaining crowd, and when he did, he put his finger on the deeper issue – the issue behind the grumbling.

He said, “This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and bread to the full in morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD” (Exodus 16:8).

Who was the grumbling and complaining of the Israelites directed toward? On the outside, it was Moses and Aaron. That’s what they said, at least. In truth, they complained and grumbled against the LORD Himself, not their leaders. The heart of the matter was that, in their heart, they weren’t content or satisfied with what God had given them. Of course, Moses and Aaron didn’t lead the people from Egypt to the wilderness of Sin (an interesting name given the circumstances) in order to have them all die, but the people were so angry at God that they lashed out at the ones who were called by God to lead them.

Grumbling and complaining are the fruit of a heart that is discontent and ungrateful for the good gifts God has given. That didn’t end, by the way, in 1450 B.C. It rears its ugly head in our own lives, too. When we complain and grumble, we’re not satisfied with God. That’s a dangerous place to be. May we recognize it, repent of it, and pray that the Lord would develop our sense of gratitude and satisfaction in Him for His glory and our good!

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Into every life a little rain must fall. Into every life a little discouragement must come, too (sometimes a lot). Something you’ve put your heart and soul into fails. Someone you’ve invested in turns their back on you. A marriage, or another significant relationship, falls apart. You’re given a diagnosis that isn’t what you expected at all (and not in a good way). You’re passed over for a promotion – again. You read the email that begins with “there was a lot of interest in this job,” but they’re not interested in you. Christians aren’t immune from discouragement, either. Something doesn’t happen the way you wanted – something you’ve prayed about (a lot) and worked for. The result of all of these is the same, discouragement.

But what can be done about it? You won’t be surprised to know the answer is in the Bible! In Psalm 43, the sons of Korah tell us how we can deal with discouragement. The remedy comes in one verse in particular: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” 

When we find ourselves discouraged, according to Psalm 43:5, we need to be honest with ourselves and God. Notice that the author didn’t hide the fact that he was “in despair” and “disturbed within” himself (another translation says “downcast”). His discouragement was real and he didn’t candy-coat it or deny it. God knew the state of his heart, so what could be gained from trying to hide it? None whatsoever. When we’re discouraged, we should say so – to ourselves and to God. But we can’t stay there.

When we’ve admitted our discouragement, the next thing we should do is look to God. The psalmist says, “Hope in God,” which could also be translated “put your hope in God.” Discouragement should cause us to take our eyes off of ourselves and lift them to God. If we continue to focus on ourselves (and gaze at our own navels), the fog of discouragement will never lift. But if we do the hard thing and direct our focus upon God, the fog disappears and we see things more clearly. Looking to God and trusting Him gives us perspective.

When we look to God in the midst of our discouragement, we should be encouraged. Why? “For I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God,” says the psalmist. No matter how bleak things look now and no matter how dark and thick the discouragement, know that the clouds will break and the sun will shine. There will be a time when you will “praise Him” once again because the soul-despair you’re experiencing will not last forever. God will have the last word and it will be good!

Discouragement – common to us all – is neither unstoppable nor final. Dealing with it requires us to be honest with ourselves and God, look to God, and be encouraged. After the rain falls, the sun shines – it might not be right away, but we can count on it.


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Undoubtedly, one of the most important things we can do for fellow Christians is to pray for them. That’s true of pastors and elders – pray for those under your spiritual care. It’s true of parents – pray for your children. It’s true of grandparents – pray for your grandchildren. It’s true of every congregation – pray for your pastors and elders. It’s true of all of us – pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:19-20).

The “this” Paul referred to was his house arrest in Rome at the time he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. His circumstances could have been worse, but they were still bad – he could have been in one of the many Roman prisons. Paul’s circumstances caused  anxiety among the Christians in Philippi. They were worried about him and about the spread of the gospel. As a result, they prayed for Paul, for which he was profoundly grateful. We know, too, that he prayed for them. When we pray for one another, we go before God’s throne of grace in intercession – pleading for them and asking that God’s will be done and that He be glorified.

Let me give you some ideas of what we can pray for each other:

  • That they would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
  • That they would glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31).
  • That they would be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).
  • That the fruit of the Spirit would be developed and displayed in their life (Gal. 5:22-23).
  • That they would love God and others with all they have and all they are (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:28).
  • That they would give cheerfully and generously (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
  • That they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10).
  • That they would delight in the Word of God (Ps. 1:2).
  • That they would fix their eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
  • That they would trust God with everything in their life (Prov. 3:5-6).
  • That they would have the boldness to preach the Word of God with boldness and confidence (Acts 4:29).

This is only a small list, but it’s a good place to start. You’d love it if someone were to pray these things on your behalf, so do it for others!

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on the topic of praying the Psalms (which kicks off Prayer Week). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: In the Psalms, David teaches us to stretch ourselves in prayer, grow in prayer, and recognize our dependence upon God in prayer.

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Our Christian life is one of fits and starts. We take three steps forward and two steps back. We see some progress in one area of our lives and, at the same time, virtually none in another area, which is frustrating.

Here’s the good news: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

If our growth and progress in the Christian life depended solely upon our own effort, we would fail miserably. But our security isn’t dependent upon us (praise God!); God Himself is the One who guarantees it. Our security rests  firmly upon the promise and power of God. He finishes what He starts! We can count on that, which is an immense comfort.

God’s promise is based on three truths found in this verse:

God is at work in His people. Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you.” The “He,” is, of course, God. If you’re in Christ as the Bible defines it, then God is at work in you. He’s at work in us to make us like His Son (Rom. 8:29). That work, however, isn’t always what we think it should be or what we’d like it to be.

Someday, the good work God is doing in us will be complete, but not in this life. According to Paul, God will perfect, or accomplish, His work “until the day of Christ Jesus.” It’s comforting to know that God will continue His work in us for the rest of our time here on earth (and we all know there’s a lot to work to do in each of us).

Although I am to work (see Philippians 2:12-13), God is ultimately responsible for the success of the mission. Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it.” The God who began a good work in you at justification will continue to sanctify you and will someday glorify you. If you or I were responsible, it wouldn’t happen.

With all of the ups and downs, fits and starts, and bumps in the road, we can be confident and certain because God is the One who is working.

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