Encouragement From The Word

Little Things Mean A Lot

In Matthew 25.40, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (NIV).  In the context of that story – about the sheep and the goats – the righteous are surprised to learn that they had served the Lord in small ways, such as feeding, clothing and caring.  Acting on the grace of God at work in their lives through faith, they had ministered to others, and thereby ministered to Jesus himself.  What they were doing just flowed from them naturally, because of their faith in Christ.

Have you ever thought about the little encouragements you give, the little kindnesses you share?  Perhaps these are ministries both of and to Jesus.  Nobody gets too much encouragement.

For example, last night, having had some minor trouble with my smart phone, I called Bell Mobility tech support to try to get the problem solved.  The chap I spoke with, while not perfectly fluent in English, was extremely courteous, very patient, and gave me the impression that he really wanted to help me with the problem.  While the difficulty turned out to be simple to solve, the process of ‘getting there’ was a bit more complicated than either of us had anticipated.

Still, when it was all done – nearly an hour of trying things and waiting on hold while he talked with another expert – I did not feel exasperated (as I often do at the end of such calls).  I felt that I had been heard, and my concern had been taken seriously.  And he worked to solve the problem to my satisfaction!

When we were finished, I said to him, “I need to ask one more thing of you:  will you put me through to your supervisor, so I can tell that person what a good job you have done for me?”  I think he was a bit surprised that I asked, but glad that I had said why I wanted to talk with his supervisor, because all too often, when consumers ask to speak to the supervisor, it’s to complain.  But I wanted to commend, rather than complain.

I had to leave a voicemail for the supervisor, but at least I had the opportunity to speak some encouragement into the life of a faceless technical support person who could have been in another city or another country for all I knew.  But I was pleased with his work and I wanted his boss to know that.

Who have you thanked for doing a good job for you lately?  That may be one of the little things you do for Jesus.

Biblical Messages

CHRISTIANITY 101: THE APOSTLES’ CREED – To Infinity, and Beyond!

This Thursday is Ascension Day – the day when the church commemorates the time (noted in Acts 1.1-11) when Jesus went up into heaven.  In the Apostles’ Creed, we say that Jesus “ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”  What significance can this have for the church today?

Listen to this message to learn the relevance of Ascension for God’s people today.

Encouragement From The Word

Seeking a word from the Lord

When was the last time you heard a word from the Lord?

It might have been this morning, or last week; last month, or last year.  Or maybe you can’t remember when last you heard a word from God.  Admittedly, a lot of us just don’t think about it – or we think that “a word from God” is a concept for people in a different church than ours.

In reality, however, God has a word for you, as for me.  If you’re curious about this idea, try this:  open your Bible to a passage – one that you know or one that you don’t know, it doesn’t matter – and read it through, aloud, pensively and prayerfully.  Sit in a relaxed but poised posture.  Listen to the passage carefully.  Then, keep a couple of minutes’ silence.  In that time, ask God to highlight for you a particular word or phrase from that passage of Scripture that he wants to share with you.

Once you have a sense of that word or phrase, read the passage again, and again keep a brief silence.  Ask God to speak to your heart about the word or phrase that he gave you, in terms of what relevance it has in your life.  Then read the text a third time, and ask God what he wants you to do with the relevance of that word or phrase – how you should act on it.

I’ve been practising this method of Bible reading all week, and God is surprising me with some of the words he has spoken to me – words that have both challenged and encouraged, words that have had remarkable relevance for my life and ministry, despite the fact that the passages were not ones I chose, but were appointed for me.

This is definitely not a perfect method for hearing from God, nor is it the only method; there may be times when you come up ‘dry’ in this practice.  But you will have spent time in the Scriptures, which can never do any of us harm!

Consider these words from the longest-winded Psalmist of all, in Psalm 119.57-59:  “You are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to obey your words.  I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.  I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes” (NIV).

How do we seek God’s face, but through his Word?  When you read the Bible, don’t just do so out of custom or because you think you ‘should’.  Read it to hear from God.  Linger in the text.  Don’t be afraid to read it more than once.  Enjoy God as you read his Word, because he wants you to hear from him!