Jesus is our Mediator

Job 9:32-35

God is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

Job cries out for a mediator between himself and God. Someone that would understand him and be able to remove his sin, so that God’s wrath would not fall upon him.

Do you still feel shame and guilt for past mistakes? Do you wish you could approach the Lord and ask his forgiveness?

For years I tried to push my sin aside, not wanting to think about it or deal with it. I told myself everyone else did it, what’s the big deal? The big deal was, sin continued to separate me from God. As my sins began to pile higher and higher, like an impassable brick wall, I began to feel trapped by the very thing I had said was “no big deal”. The brick wall continue to grow higher along with my feelings of hopelessness and despair. How could I ever break down the wall of my own making to reach a holy God? It was impossible.

And then I met Jesus.

For who can stand before a holy, righteous God innocent and pure and yet still understand the weakness and sin of man? Only Jesus Christ who is fully man and yet fully God.

Jesus took my sins upon himself, kicked down my brick wall and brought me into the very presence of God Almighty. With no feelings of guilt or shame, I stand before a holy God and praise his name.

Jesus is my mediator.

1 Timothy 2:5–6a

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for filling that gap between people and God. Thank you for your love and acceptance, thank you for your mercy toward’s us.

Compassion

Encouraging_compassion.jpg

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20

 This father knew his son had made some serious mistakes and yet when his son came back, he ran to him, hugged and kissed him.  He didn’t ignore, yell at, punish or condemn his lost son.  He forgave him.  He showed his son compassion.  When you read further in Luke 15 you will see that this father not only runs to welcome him, but rejoices in celebration.  Compassion is about grace, love, and restoration.

Our Heavenly Father is the same way.  We all have made serious mistakes at times.  Our Father is eagerly waiting for us to turn to Him, seek Him, come back home and ask for forgiveness.  When we repent of our sin our Heavenly Father will run to us and wrap His loving arms around us because He is compassionate. 

 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

    slow to anger, abounding in love.

 He will not always accuse,

    nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve

    or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his love for those who fear him; 

as far as the east is from the west,

    so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 

As a father has compassion on his children,

    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear[respect] him,” Psalm 103:8-13

Prayer:  Lord, we thank You for Your Word of Truth.  We thank You that when we falter, turn away or get caught up in sin, that You are there eagerly waiting for our return.  Thank You for Your gracious, undeserving forgiveness and love.  Lord, if any readers need Your forgiveness, touch their heart and cause it to flutter inspiring them to confess their sin to you right now.   Let there be rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10)!  We thank You in Your son’s precious name, Jesus.  Amen!

My Help Comes From the Lord

2 Kings 5:6-7

The letter to the king of Israel said, “With this letter I present my servant Naaman, I want you to heal him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read it, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, “This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can kill and give life? He is only trying to find an excuse to invade us again.”

The King of Aram sent the letter to the King of Israel, expecting his authority and power would accomplish what he wanted; the healing of Naaman, the commander of his armies. For the King had heard there was a prophet of the Lord in Israel that could heal.

His powerful letter accomplished nothing. He could not buy a miracle, or intimidate the King of Israel into doing what he wanted, for only the Lord alone can really help us in our time of need.

When we are struggling with our own problems and trials remember the acronym H.E.L.P. (By Debbie McKee)

H= My help comes from the Lord.

Psalm 121:1-2 I look up to the mountains, does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth!

E= God encourages us.

Psalm 10:17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.

L= Let the Lord fight your battles.

2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.

P= Praise the Lord and Thank Him

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Prayer: You alone O Lord are the only one that can really help us. We can figure out temporary fixes on our own, but they never last and they don’t give us the peace and joy that our hearts long for. Humble us and help us turn to you in our hour of need.

Spur One Another

Encouraging_Love.jpgIn loving memory of Louis L. Schwander

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

At EncouragingWord.life we aren’t able to physically meet with you.  Therefore, we come alongside you and encourage you as we share our lives, thoughts, education and experience with you.  Perhaps, you will relate to something we write about and it will draw you closer to God.  Ultimately, your relationship with Christ is what matters to us. Our relationship with Him is our foundation and is what spurs us to write words of encouragement.  We share Him with you to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. 

Be encouraged and joyfully love one another throughout your day.  Think of those around you who need to hear a kind word, a smile, or an extra hand.  Perhaps a cashier at your grocery store could use a thank you, the driver ahead of you some grace, or an elderly woman bagging her groceries needs a helping hand.  The person in need may be someone in your own home.  My mother in love and father in love were married for 70 years.  They had a long marriage because they both loved the Lord and showed one another His love.  They helped each other with everything.  There are many ways that we can show tender loving kindness.  Be willing to be used by God to spur one another  in love. 

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for Your unfailing love.  Help us to see others the way You do so that we may show love to all we encounter.  Help us to serve others as Your son has.  In His precious name, Jesus. Amen 

The Lord of Heaven and Earth

Acts 17:22,24-25

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

At times I find myself putting the Lord in a box; he loves me, he is concerned for my welfare and he has made a way to redeem me and save me. So therefore, I need to serve him, love him and read his word and when I am neglectful in one of these areas I am so upset with myself. I feel that I have failed him and that he is disappointed in me.

This verse reminds me that the God that made the world and everything in it doesn’t need anything from me. His love is not conditional to me living a perfect, disciplined, obedient life every moment of the day. The Lord that knows everything, already knows I will fail him, but he loves me anyway. He sees me through his perfect, disciplined and obedient son, that died in my place and for all those that would believe in his name. The name of Jesus.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your unconditional love, thank you Lord for sending your son to die for my sins and for the sins of the whole world. Oh how I love you, help me see you in all your fullness and glory and not put you in a box of my own making.

Steeples and Lighthouses

Encouraging_Cathedral

Matthew 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I have a deep love for architecture especially when it is a church or lighthouse.  I’ve taken many road trips throughout the US and recently came across the above photo that I took when passing through Pennsylvania on our way to Niagara Falls.  This church steeple just reaches right up towards heaven drawing one’s eyes up to our Creator.  I also appreciate lighthouses as they were what welcomed and warned seafaring travelers that land was near.  Land that was stable, sturdy and safe from the rolling sea was ready to greet the tired, hungry and oftentimes sick and weary travelers.  Lighthouses in Christian art usually symbolize both the light of Christ and the light that followers of Christ shine.  

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46. -Jesus

How do we stay out of darkness and shine bright?  

By believing in Christ, following His example and living like Him.  In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul addresses the Philippians’ obedience and urges them to work out or live out their salvation by following Christ’s humble and servant-minded way of life.  What does it mean by work out their salvation?  Verse 13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good purposes.”  God gives us the power, desire and ability to do His will.  He helps us to obey Him and to do His work and this pleases Him.  Yet, we must choose to be faithfully obedient to Him.  Romans 6:16 tells us “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves/servants/workers, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”  And Deuteronomy 28:1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, IF you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” 

There will be blessings, but trials will still roll in.  Let’s remember the lighthouse as a symbol of both hope and harm.  Hope of a new beginning or of harm with rocky cliffs ahead.  Life is full of hope and harm. We all face new beginnings and rocky cliffs.  Yet, when we follow Christ, He is right there helping us through each part of our lives.  We know living for Christ is not easy.  It requires courageous dependence on God’s grace, faithful obedience, and humble service. 

Prayer:  Dear Father, help us to shine and do the work You created us to do.  Infuse us to rejoice while serving, because our joy is in You NOT our circumstances.  May we be lighthouses as our joy draws others to You.  Thank you for Your precious Son,  Jesus.  Amen.  

We are God’s people, holy and acceptable to Him.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 On that same day, as the Book of Moses was being read, the people found a statement which said that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be permitted to enter the assembly of God. For they had not been friendly to the Israelites when they left Egypt……. When this law was read all those of mixed ancestry were immediately expelled from the assembly.

Deuteronomy 23:2 Those of illegitimate birth and their descendants for 10 generations may not be included in the assembly of the Lord.

People that had been unkind to the Israelites hundreds of years before Nehemiah’s time could still not be a part of God’s people. Men and women that descended from illegitimate parents for 10 generations and people with physical defects or contagious skin diseases could not be included in the assembly of God.

All of these people that loved the Lord we’re not allowed to be a part of the assembly of God; to take part in the festivals or join in worship at the temple. Only those who were physically whole, of the right genealogy and from married parents could be a part of the assembly of God.

This seems incredibly harsh to us today. How are we to understand this?

Our Lord is perfectly Holy and he called his people to be holy, for his presence, his tabernacle dwelt among them.

Leviticus 11:44 Be holy, because I am Holy.

God is still and always will be completely holy, and only those who are also holy can come into his presence, even today. But our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has made a way for all people to be holy and to be adopted into God’s family. By the blood he shed on the cross for us, we now stand before a Holy God as completely whole and innocent of every sin.

We may be damaged, broken and illegitimate people, but the Lord does not see us that way anymore. He sees us through the cleansing blood of his perfect innocent Son, that made us perfect and innocent too (Heb. 10:10).

No matter who we are, or who we used to be, we are now a part of the assembly of God’s people. We are acceptable to him in every way, if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for what you did for us. What joy we can experience as fully accepted children of God.

Who to Follow

Encouraging_Follow.jpgArtwork by Jacob Schwander

 

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  -Jesus 

Hebrews 4:13-18   Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Turn to Him in times of pain, sadness, grief, discouragement, and anxiety.  Jesus is qualified to help you with your hurts.  He has experienced it all.  He is the best counselor and friend that you will ever have.  He is sitting beside you now, eager to hear from you just as you are.

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy [qualified], our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”  Because He has created all things, He knows you and cares for you.  

I went through a rather challenging couple of weeks during Christmas and New Year’s, because my father in love was passing away and then my mother in love became very ill and was hospitalized.  I had lost a lot of sleep and had difficulty sleeping when I could.  I was run down in every way possible.  However, I found that if I repeated truth from scripture, I would fall asleep.  It helped me keep my mind off of troubling thoughts and instead seek God for rest.  The verse was Revelation 7:17 “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Because I had memorized that verse, I was able to focus on truth and then share it with others.  I used that same verse for my father in loves memorial folder for his funeral to encourage and comfort those grieving.

If you choose to follow Him, He will guide you through your daily life of joys and sorrows.  He will help you through your pain and fears.  When He brings you through a trial, look for others in need, help them and extend a hand.  Show them Jesus’ love.  

Prayer:  Jesus, we come to You just as we are.  Hurt, broken, displaced, discouraged, anxious, depressed, numb… We thank You for the path that You set before us, the beauty that surrounds us, the friends and family that You have given us to be encouraged by.  Thank You for Your mercy and grace.  Please help us to encourage others so that they can see You within us.  May You be glorified and honored in all that we do.  In Your precious name, Jesus.  Amen

 

Jesus responds to a humbled heart

Luke 8:40-44

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about 12, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

Jairus is a synagogue leader, he is very well known in the community and deeply respected by all the people. Synagogues were like small churches where people could gather to hear the Scriptures read to them. Jairus was a man at the top of the social ladder, he was used to getting what he wanted and he was able to make things happen. However something had come up that he couldn’t fix or solve or pay someone to take care of; his only daughter was dying. He needed a miracle, he needed God to act on his daughters behalf, he needed Jesus.

And Jesus responds to this important man that humbled himself at his feet and agrees to go see his daughter. But on the way he is stopped by a woman that had suffered from bleeding for 12 years. She is considered unclean because of the blood; she is ostracized from the community. No one wants to touch her because they will become ceremonially unclean also, and will have to go through extensive cleansing rituals before they are able to worship at the temple or go out in public again. This unnamed woman would certainly be considered at the bottom of the social ladder and yet Jesus responds to this unclean woman by making her clean.

Jesus does not see social order, he sees people in need. Jesus loves them both, he responds to them both. He heals the synagogue leader’s daughter and he heals the woman with the issue of blood. No one is closer to Jesus because of who they are or what they do. Bible teachers are not more loved then nurses or counselors or lawyers.

God sees you, and he will stop for you- when you are doing well and when you are feeling completely unclean. Jesus loves you, Jesus has time for you. Go to him, fall at his feet like Jairus and the woman did. Humble yourself and tell him your hurts, fears and needs. He will respond to you.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus, that you see us right where we are and love us the same. Humble our hearts so we can turn to you and be healed.

Dance with Him

Encouraging_Dance.jpgArtwork by Jacob Schwander

Perhaps you’ve come to this blog for a little encouragement. We are so happy you are here! Maybe you aren’t a Christian and you don’t understand some of the things we are writing about. It’s our hope that you will, in time, see whom we draw our encouragement from. 

Many years ago, I knew a little girl named Madalyne.  Her mother told me that at such a young age she loved the Lord with all of her heart. She would dance and sing worship songs all around the house. At her tender young age of 6, one of her favorite memory verses was Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Verse 13 goes on to say, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Little Madalyne knew this truth- His truth. She loved Him with all of her heart.  Little Madalyne passed away that Spring and is dancing with our Savior now. 

As her parents said, she was always a princess and now she can forever be a princess in the Kingdom of God. I share this with you because little Madalyne is an example of someone who walked closely with God, listened to Him, read His Word, memorized it, sang to Him and danced with Him. She obeyed Him with all of her heart and she trusted Him fully.  Now, she is in His loving arms. I will never forget sweet Madalyne.

She is a beautiful example of what happens to a person when they believe in Jesus. There are certain behaviors that can be exhibited when we trust in Him. In the Bible, they are referred to as the fruit of the Spirit. 

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

When we are walking with God, He equips us to do great things for Him.  Maybe today, you needed to hear that.  Maybe you need to hear His Word and be encouraged.

Dear Lord, we praise You and thank You that Your Word is trustworthy. We thank You for Your Son and the redemption in Him. May we also, like little Madalyne, sing, dance and overflow with Your love! We look forward to the day when we can dance with You in Your Kingdom! Lord, may we remember to seek You always and to trust You in all situations that we find ourselves in this week and years to come. Thank You that Your love is steadfast and that You will always be with us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!