Tag Archives: encouragement

“Voices” by Switchfoot – Please watch this video!

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Posted by on January 31, 2021 in words


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Keys to Not Losing Heart (A Study of 2 Corinthians 4)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter four. (I needed to include the entire chapter below):Keys to Not Losing Heart (2 Cor. 4)

1. Follow God-Honoring Ways in Your Ministry (v. 2)

2. Set Forth the Truth — and Yourself — Plainly (v. 2)

3. Recognize That the Minds of Unbelievers Are Blinded (vv. 3-4)

4. Don’t Preach Yourself, But Christ! (vv. 5-6)

5. Don’t Minimize Your Own Suffering for the Savior (vv. 7-12)

6. Do Your Work Out of Faith in the Lord Jesus (vv. 13-15)

7. Be Motivated by the Biblical Certainty of Eternity (vv. 16-18)


Posted by on June 9, 2020 in ministry


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What Difference Does the Future Make? The Practical Application of Prophecy (Part 2)

As I prepare to speak at Cedar Valley Bible Church’s annual “Second Coming Conference” (November 16-17), I want to work my way through three prophetic sections of Scripture: I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Peter 3:1-18, and I John 3:1-10.

I’ve been impressed by how frequently prophetic material in the Scriptures often focuses upon how we should live now. Let’s look once more at our first text, I Thessalonians 4 —

This passage gives us great encouragement as we look forward to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.

What points of encouragement should we derive from this passage? We’ve seen that —
1. There ought to be a genuine care for those who have predeceased us (vv. 13-14).

We notice, secondly, that —

2.  We have a biblical grief mixed with hope (v. 13). We read that we are not to “grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”

Thirdly, we see that —

3. We have a clear confession of faith (v. 14). We read “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” What a wonderful (and succinct) statement of belief: Jesus died and rose again and will come back!

Lastly, this passage teaches us that —

4. We have a guaranteed certainty about our future (v. 17). We read “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” If Christianity is true and the Bible is the trustworthy Word of God, then the future of all believers is secure and certain! “And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

This wonderful text should encourage us on several levels. He is coming back! Maybe today! (to be continued)

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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in I Thessalonians 4


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What Difference Does the Future Make? The Practical Application of Prophecy (Part 1)

Friends — I’ve been invited to speak at Cedar Valley Bible Church’s annual “Second Coming Conference” (November 16-17). I spoke there two years ago and did a study entitled “From Here to Eternity: A Study of Heaven and Hell.”

For this year’s conference I’ve been working on the practical nature of prophecy. I’ve been impressed by how frequently prophetic material in the Scriptures often focuses upon how we should live now. I’ll be looking at three passages for the conference (and it may take several posts for me to think through what I want to say). Let’s look at the first text, I Thessalonians 4 —

I see this passage as a great encouragement in light of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Notice the challenge at the end of the passage: “Therefore encourage one another with these words“ (v. 18).

Instead of being an encouragement, the doctrine of the Second Coming has often led to believers’ wrangling with one another. Such in-fighting has probably actually discouraged some new believers!

What points of encouragement should we derive from this passage?
1. There ought to be a genuine care for those who have predeceased us (vv. 13-14). These believers were “uninformed” about those “who sleep in death.” Sleep in the Scriptures is often used as a metaphor for the death of a follower of Jesus (see Acts 7 where we read,  “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” vv. 59-60).

Our Seventh-Day Adventist friends are wrong when they declare that we only sleep in the grave until the resurrection, that we have no soul or spirit that immediately goes to be with the Lord upon our death (see Phil. 1:20-25 and 2 Cor. 5:1-10 where we read that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord”).

Have you been to a Christian funeral lately? Sometimes the celebration (accompanied by appropriate grieving) is, well, shocking! There is rejoicing that this believe is NOW with the Lord.

Paul’s concern here is that the Thessalonians thought that somehow those who died “in the Lord” would be at a disadvantage to those who would be still alive at the coming of the Lord. No! Their bodies will be raised up — to join the souls or spirits of those whom “God will bring with Jesus” when He returns (v. 14)! The predeceased are already with the Lord, but in a disembodied state (awaiting their new, glorified bodies). (to be continued)

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Posted by on August 21, 2019 in I Thessalonians 4


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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — He COMFORTS the Believer!

We are facing the truth in these posts that some Christians overemphasize the Holy Spirit, but many overlook Him. Sometimes called the “Shy Member of the Trinity,” the Holy Spirit is personal and deserves to be treated as a Person! As fully divine, He can (and should) be worshiped!

My primary thesis in these posts is that we can have a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit which includes praying to Him and worshiping Him. Directing our prayers to the respective member of the Godhead who is most intimately connected to a certain ministry in no way minimizes the absolute primacy of the Lord Jesus.

We saw in our last post that He indwells the believer and gives us the highest motivation to live sexually pure lives.

Let’s notice a further ministry of the Spirit of God to the believer: He comforts us! We read about His “comforting” ministry in John 14:

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

The expression “another advocate” (v. 16) means “another of the same kind called alongside (to help).” The Holy Spirit would continue the ministry of the Lord Jesus to His disciples. The word “advocate” is translated “Comforter” in some Bibles, and sometimes comfort is exactly what the Jesus-follower needs.

However, the word literally means “one called alongside of.” Sometimes I don’t need the Spirit of God to comfort me but to chastise me! He is both a Defender and Prosecutor to the disciple.

In the next chapter of John, we read —

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (ch. 15)

Some in the Early Church argued about whether the Holy Spirit is sent by the Son or by the Father. Jesus clearly says that this “Advocate” will be One “whom I will send to you from the Father” (v. 26).

In John 16 we read further of the ministries of God the Holy Spirit:

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

We learn that the Son needed to go away so that “the Advocate” would come. We also learn of His “proving” ministry of sin, righteousness and judgment in the world (vv. 8-11).

This “Spirit of truth” will guide the disciples into all the truth (v. 12), not speaking on his own, but delegated (by the Father and the Son) to “tell what is yet to come” (v. 13).

Someone has said, “The truth shall make ye free, but first it shall make ye miserable.” The Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, brings comfort to God’s people and conviction to a world enslaved by its wrongness. God often comforts His people by His people.

The Challenge: Be an instrument of the Comforting Holy Spirit today and bring some encouragement to another believer!

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Posted by on June 26, 2019 in The Holy Spirit


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A Spiritually Healthy Family (A Study of the Epistle to Titus) (Part 4 of 5)

God’s Word has so much to say to families today! All 66 books of the Bible can provide tremendous truth and help in raising our families and forming our families into God-honoring units before a lost and dying world!

I am looking forward to Family Camp at Camp Elim in Woodland Park, Colorado, on May 25-27.  There I will get  to preach five messages — and I’ve chosen to study the epistle to Titus from the perspective of the spiritually healthy family. Let’s read carefully the second chapter of Titus once again:

We have already seen that the spiritually healthy family cares deeply about the local church (1:1-9) and that, secondly, it recognizes false teaching in its many forms and opposes it (1:10-16). In our last post we saw that the spiritually healthy family appreciates and applies the clear instructions of God’s Word (2:1-10).

Let’s notice fourthly in this chapter that —

The spiritually healthy family —

IV. Allows God’s Grace to Have Its Full Power in Their Lives! (vv. 11-15)

[I have to confess that this passage — Titus 2:11-15 — is one of my favorites!]

We learn in this passage that God’s Grace —

I. Is a Salvation-Bringing Grace (v. 11)

Salvation is the rock-bottom foundation for a spiritually healthy family!

II. Is a Teaching Grace (v. 12)

Note both the negative and the positive aspects of grace’s teaching.

III. Is a Waiting Grace (v. 13)

How is the deity of the Lord Jesus shown here?

IV. Is a Purifying Grace (v. 14)

What is the logical expression of our gratitude for God’s purifying grace?

V. Is an Encouraging Grace (v. 15)

If you study the so-called five love languages, words of affirmation is a critical way to encourage others!

(We will conclude this five-part series in our next post)

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Posted by on April 4, 2019 in grace


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What’s So Amazing about Grace? — A Free Sermon Outline! (Part 5)

On the other hand, I’m not sure my little booklet, Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better! (available on Amazon), can help Joel Osteen.  He seems to have pretty good communication skills. It’s what he communicates that is the problem!  At any rate, if you want to have your best life now, then get this booklet!

Now that the commercial is over, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite sermon outlines and we’ve been looking at the topic —

What’s So Amazing about Grace?
(a study of Titus 2:11-15).

We’ve seen that —

I. God’s Grace Is a Salvation-Bringing Grace (v. 11)

and that —

II. God’s Grace is a Teaching Grace (v. 12)

and that —

III. God’s Grace Is a Waiting Grace (v. 13)

and also that —

IV. God’s Grace Is a Purifying Grace (v. 14)

Let’s notice lastly, that —

V.  God’s Grace Is an Encouraging Grace (v. 15)!

By God’s grace we are to encourage others to pursue the Lord and to turn away from the things in life that inhibit our becoming more like Jesus.  We should teach these things.  We should rebuke with all authority.  We shouldn’t allow other people’s opinions to keep us from living for the Lord!  We should encourage the people of God!

If you’ve not read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, you’re missing a very helpful way of looking at life.  We love and are loved in different ways.  The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and receiving gifts.  These describe both how we love and how we wish to be loved.

My love language (how I feel loved) is primarily words of affirmation.  My wife’s primary love language (how she feels loved) is quality time.  Some of us show our love to others in ways that don’t “fit” how they most feel loved.  It’s a bit complicated.  In summary, I feel most loved when others give me gifts, say nice things to me, and let me spend quality time (as an introvert) by myself.  (I’m kidding.  Mostly).

We all need words of encouragement.  And that’s what God’s grace gives us — a solid foundation to encourage others! (next post — conclusion)


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Posted by on August 19, 2018 in God's grace


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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 6 Part 1)

As we enter this last chapter of Galatians, we are noticing some of the major themes of this important epistle.  Looking at chapter 6, please notice the theme of helping those caught in sin (vv. 1-6).  How do we help those who have been “caught in a sin”? 

It is those who “live by the Spirit” who should restore that person gently.  One might say, “I’m not qualified to help anyone!”  But we are all to walk and live by the Spirit!  However we need to be aware of our own weaknesses and not fall into sin as we are helping others out of sin!

We are to both carry the burdens of others (v. 2) as well as carry our own load (v. 5).  There is a proper pride in oneself which doesn’t depend on comparing ourselves with others.  And we need to be instructed in the things of the Lord. We are to support those who teach us.

Do you know of someone “caught in a sin” who needs to be restored?  Ask the Lord to guide you.  Perhaps He will use you to gently restore that brother or sister!


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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Galatians


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Some Challenges from Colossians! (Part 9)

Let’s continue our brief look at this incredible epistle of Colossians. Chapter two introduces several themes.  We see the apostle’s heart in verses 2-5.

2 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in philosophy


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The Joy of Unit-Reading #61 (the book of Philemon)


We are almost done unit-reading the books of the Bible. Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 5.38.39 AMUnit-reading is reading straight through a book at one sitting. I’ve been mostly successful so far. Some books are easier than others to unit-read. Philemon, for example. But I’m looking forward to a couple of hours to go through Isaiah, then a couple of hours to go through Jeremiah, etc! Here are my notes on this short epistle to Philemon:

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 5.32.18 AM

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Posted by on July 10, 2016 in unit-reading


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