BKI Encouragement 25 - December 29, 2010
"But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared" - Titus 3:4
Christmas 2010 is over. The celebrations end, the lights come down. Even the gifts may soon be forgotten. But the love of God, brought forth in the birth of Christ, for all mankind will never diminish. This is the God, "who remembered us in our low estate, for His lovingkindness is everlasting" (Psalm 136:23). This is the God, who even when Israel forsook Him, said "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Oh, how we should cherish that well known truth, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son," (John 3:16). So as we come to the end of another year, be encouraged. "Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. For His lovingkindness is everlasting" (Psalm 106:1).
Scripture References: Titus 3:4;Psalm 136:23; Jeremiah 31:3; John 3:16; Psalm 106:1
BKI Encouragement 24 - December 22, 2010
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem..." - Matthew 2:11
Over six hundred years before the birth of our Lord, the Prophet Micah (5:2) foretold that He would be born in Bethlehem. As always, God was faithful. God is always faithful to His Word, because, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19) So, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, may we be reminded that every promise He has made to us will be fulfilled. Forgiveness, eternal life, a home in heaven in His presence, nor more tears, pain, or death will be fully realized, without exception, in the one who believes. Yes, "in the world you have tribulation", but be encouraged. A great eternity, fully promised, lies ahead. Therefore rejoice in the birth of your Savior!
Scripture References: Matthew 2:11; Micah 5:2; Numbers 23:19
BKI Encouragement 23 - December 15, 2010
"...And she will bear a son;and you shall call His name Jesus for it is He who will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21
The name, Jesus, comes from the Hebrew word, Joshua, meaning Jehovah is salvation. It is the name God chose for our Lord. It is a "name which is above every name" as Christ Jesus is "our great God and Savior". The words, "from their sins", mean He saves you from the power, bondage, guilt and penalty of sin. Knowing Jesus is knowing the only One who can deliver you from the consequences of sin and place in your heart the only hope of glory. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Matthew 1:21
BKI Encouragement 22 - December 8, 2010
"...friendship with the world is hostility toward God." - James 4:4
This friendship is described as self seeking pleasure carried out in lust, envy and conflict, because of the wrong motives. To some degree, man is a walking civil war. His mind and body grasp after whatever will gratify his pleasure. Life is a battlefield of wants and desires. Without restraint he will lie, cheat, steal or even kill to get what he wants. Such a condition is spiritual adultery for the believer. But James instructs us to seek after God (vs. 2), because the Holy Spirit, imparted to us at conversion, yearns for our total loyalty and devotion to God. Only God can satisfy our longings. Do you feel like you are in a war? Be encouraged! "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4), for the Lord will give you the right desires.
Scripture References: James 4:4; Psalm 37:4
BKI Encouragement 21 - December 1, 2010
"Who among you is wise and understanding?..." - James 3:13
James answers the question by saying it is determined by one's behavior. Jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, and untruthfulness demonstrate a lack of true wisdom. It is described as earthly (fallen humanity), natural (depraved mental and emotional impulses), and demonic (proceeding from an evil influence). The wise and understanding have wisdom from above (proceeding from God) with the overriding characteristic of being peaceable. We should know that it is only the wisdom of God that can bring peace between God and man and among mankind. So be encouraged! "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). So be wise, be at peace, and be blessed!
Scripture References: James 3:13; Romans 5:1; Matthew 5:9
BKI Encouragement 20 - November 24, 2010
"from the same mouth comes both blessing and cursing..." - James 3:10
With the tongue, it is easy to boast of our ability, possessions and accomplishments. With the tongue comes lying, slander, and gossip. On the other hand, the tongue can be a source of blessing, encouragement to others and praise and worship of God. Throughout Scripture we are warned about the evil of the tongue, where it is described as boastful, deceitful, hypocritical, perverse, set on fire by hell, and a deadly poison. James tells us no man can tame the tongue. This is true, because no one, on his own, can tame his tongue fully and adequately to keep from hurting others and to be pleasing to God. But be encouraged, because there is One who can. So ""¦be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might" (Ephesians 6:10) so that you may "keep your tongue from evil" (Psalm 34:13).
Scripture References: James 3:10; Ephesians 6:10; Psalm 34:13
BKI Encouragement 19 - November 17, 2010
"...faith without works is dead" - James 2:26
The Lord illustrates the new birth by referring to the wind (John 3:8). At the moment of salvation, you cannot see the transforming power of the new birth, but you can see the effects of it. James uses a similar analogy between faith and works. You cannot see faith, but you can see the proof of it, which happens to be good works. I have often said, "you cannot embrace the living God by faith and remain the same". Although we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1), "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Be encouraged and "be rich in good works"¦" (1 Timothy 6:18).
Scripture References: James 2:26; John 3:8; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Timothy 6:18
BKI Encouragement 18 - November 10, 2010
"...there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes" - James 2:2
Not long ago, in a church in Russia, a homeless man came in and sat in the back. He was unkempt, dirty and had an offensive odor. He seemed surprised that several of us greeted and shook hands with him. Unfortunately, in much of the church today, there is still a tendency to only get close to those of like kind or those from whom we can gain favor or benefit. We forget throughout Scripture, we are exhorted to "defend the poor and the fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy (Psalm 82:3)," We forget, "our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor," and that God chose "the poor of this world to be rich in faith"¦". Often, we need to be reminded, "if you show partiality you are committing sin". However, if you treat all men equal and "love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well" (James 2:8). So be encouraged!
Scripture References: James 2:2; Psalm 82:3; James 2:8
BKI Encouragement 17 - November 3, 2010
"But prove yourselves doers of the Word" - James 1:22
God has not orphaned us. He has placed the written Word within our hands, and the resident Truth Teacher (John 16:13) dwells within us (1 Cor. 3:16). However, the responsibility is ours, to not only hear the Word but prove ourselves doers of the Word. After all, "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrew 11:6), and "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Possibly the greatest temptation we face is to become, in our minds and practice, self sufficient, thereby ignoring, neglecting and even rejecting the Word of God. In Chapter One, James identifies such a person as one given to anger, forgetful of who he really is, not able to control his tongue and insensitive to those in real need. The opposite of this is to be a doer of the Word and therefore be blessed in what one does (James 1:25). So be encouraged. Read His Word. Hear His Word. Believe His Word. Live out His Word. "How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart" (Psalm 119:2).
Scripture References: James 1:22; John 16:13; 1 Cor. 3:16; Hebrew 11:6; Romans 10:17; James 1:25; Psalm 119:2
BKI Encouragement 16 - October 27, 2010
"for God cannot be tempted by evil" - James 1:13
Who do you want to trust in when you face the trials and temptations of life? When Job faced despair, his friends all failed him. When Christ went to the cross, all the sheep scattered. When Paul went to trial all who were in Asia turned away from him. Perhaps your faith should be in One who "changeth not" (Malachi 3:6). One who is the same yesterday, and today, yes forever (Hebrews 13:8). One in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. One who gives the good and perfect gift (salvation) to sinful man. One who is holy, righteous and pure, and cannot be tempted by evil. One who loves, cares, and always seeks what is best for you. Be encouraged. He is our God!
Scripture References:James 1:13; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8
BKI Encouragement 15 - October 20, 2010
"...the Lord has promised..." - James 1:12
Too often we forget there is a reward for enduring the temptations and trials of this life. First, the reward is that we are blessed in this present life. Enduring the onslaughts that come from Satan, the World, and the flesh brings an inner assurance and confidence the Lord is with us. Secondly, the believer who loves the Lord is blessed knowing he will receive the crown of life. "And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).
The crown of life refers to life itself "“ eternal life. James is not encouraging us to earn the crown but to live out our salvation as believers who love the Lord. So be encouraged for "this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life" (1 John 2:25).
Scripture References:James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 2:25
BKI Encouragement 14 - October 6, 2010
"But let the brother of humble circumstance glory in his high position" - James 1:9
It was Christ who "...humbled Himself... to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly exalted Him..." (Philippians 2:8, 9). As believers, we may face humble circumstances, yet we glory, knowing of our high position which is yet to come. We may face poor health, financial difficultly, or even persecution, but we do not allow those circumstances to defeat us as we look forward by faith.
It is wrong to lose our joy in life or to become jealous or bitter toward those who have more or face fewer difficulties. We need to remember first of all that, "...God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). For He said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness..." (II Corinthians 12:9). Secondly, we need to remember to "consider your calling brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" (I Corinthians 1:26). So be encouraged! Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (James 4:10). The high position of the lowly believer will shine forth throughout eternity.
Scripture References: James 1:9; Philippians 2:8, 9; James 4:6; II Corinthians 12:9; I Corinthians 1:26; James 4:10
BKI Encouragement 13 - September 29, 2010
"But if any of you lacks wisdom..." - James 1:5
Christianity has always had its extremes, and today is no exception. On one hand, we have those who are woefully ignorant of biblical truth. On the other, are those highly knowledgeable of Scripture. However, wisdom means far more than just knowing. Wisdom not only knows the truth, it knows what to do with it. Knowledge can be passive, but wisdom acts. Jesus said, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man..." (Matthew 7:24). The action of this "wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy" (James 3:17). Be encouraged. This wisdom can be yours! For "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God... and it will be given him" (James 1:5).
Scripture References: James 1:5; Matthew 7:24; James 3:17
BKI Encouragement 12 - September 22, 2010
"Consider it All Joy" - James 1:2
The context of this joy is in the midst of trials we face in life. In the day of victimization, grumbling, complaining and blame shifting seem to come much easier than joy. We must remember that God allows all kinds of trials for our own benefit and good. They can come in the form of disappointments, accusations, broken relationships, opposition, the loss of health or financial security or even suffering. But the Lord uses these trials to refine us, to prove us, and make us stronger so we can glorify God in the end. They serve to increase our faith and produce in us the righteous character of Jesus Christ.
"Therefore we do not lose heart"¦ for momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (1 Corinthians 4:16, 17). So be encouraged!
Scripture References: James 1:2; 1 Corinthians 4:16, 17
BKI Encouragement 11 - September 15, 2010
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" - James 1:1
James was a brother of the Lord, but here simply refers to himself as a servant. The word "servant" (doulos) means one totally possessed by, and a slave to, his master. The believer's slavery to Jesus Christ is not some shameful subjection, but a title of highest honor. A servant was called to honor Christ and serve Him as his highest priority. Great men of God like Moses, Joshua, Job, David and Paul were called servants of God.
As a believer, you are also called to serve God ""¦as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6). Jesus said, "If any one serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26). Therefore, be encouraged!
Scripture References: James 1:1; Ephesians 6:6; John 12:26
BKI Encouragement 10 - September 8, 2010
"O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent, and didst reveal them to babes" - Luke 10:21
There is no greater knowledge given to mankind than what God reveals to a believer as a newborn babe in Christ. A newborn babe knows he has been saved, delivered from the bondage of sin, is cared for and given hope and assurance. A study of the word "babes" in the New Testament reveals he knows that this world and a few short years of life is not all there are. He knows his inadequacy in dealing with sin and death. He is teachable and responsive, with a need of dependence and trust in His Father. At the same time, a babe in Christ is immature and needs to grow spiritually and in the knowledge of Christ, for in Him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2, 3). So be encouraged, "for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them" (Luke 10:24).
Scripture References: Luke 10:21; Colossians 2:2, 3; Luke 10:24
BKI Encouragement 9 - September 1, 2010
"for apart from Me you can do nothing." - John 15:5
It is impossible to live a godly life and accomplish that which has eternal value apart from Christ. This is why Paul declared, ""¦it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me"¦ (Galatians 2:20). We are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and everything we need in the Christian life is found in Him.
When we are determined to step out on our own, we often experience defeat, and our best efforts can become as futile as our worst failures. As a result, we do not need more effort or determination, but a continual trust and dependence upon Him. Hopefully, we have learned that if anything is going to be accomplished for His glory, it is Christ at work, in and through us. Be encouraged. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
Jesus! What Strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him; Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He my Strength, my victory wins.
Scripture References: John 15:5; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:10; Philippians 4:13
BKI Encouragement 8 - August 25, 2010
"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity" - Colossians 4:5
The basic meaning of outsider is a stranger, one who does not know Christ. Although the emphasis in the church today is on cultural identity, the majority of people witnessed to in the New Testament were strangers and had little if anything in common; Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch, Peter and Cornelius, Paul and Lydia. This is why we should ""¦always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks of you to give an account for the hope that is in you"¦" (1 Peter 3:15). And the hope that is within you is Jesus Christ the Lord (Colossians 1:27). So be ready! The Lord may place someone in your life today that needs to hear of the true and eternal hope they can have in Jesus Christ. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Colossians 4:5; 1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 1:27
BKI Encouragement 7 - August 18, 2010
"I know My own and My own know Me." - John 10:14
We have more knowledge at our finger tips than ever before in human history. Therefore, it is often difficult to admit we do not have the answers to all we face in life. We, unlike God, who is omniscient, are limited in what we can know and understand. We cannot and should not expect to explain all that He brings and allows in our life. On the other hand, we can know with certainty we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and are now a child of God (John 1:12). Jesus said, ""¦ I know My own, and My own know Me". It is not what we know, but Who knows us and Who we know, that really counts. Because He knows us, He understands what we face in this life. Because we know Him, we can trust Him with what we do not understand. So be encouraged!
Scripture References: John 10:14; John 1:12
BKI Encouragement 6 - August 11, 2010
"the testing of your faith produces endurance." - James 1:3
History tells us the Coca Cola Company sold only 400 cokes in its first year; Henry Ford went bankrupt twice in his first three years in the automobile business. How many times did Roger Maris strike out before he hit his 61st home run? Yet, today, when it comes to facing personal problems or adversity, our culture has programmed us to want an immediate solution rather than trust the Lord and wait on His timing. As a result, we often give up too easily and too soon. In our walk with Christ, we aren't selling something or producing homeruns by human effort. But, we all need to have victory in adversity and become more like Him. This is a lifelong process, so don't give up "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)". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: James 1:3; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 27:14
BKI Encouragement 5 - August 4, 2010
"Beloved let us love one another..." - Matthew 20:28
Most believers long for authentic and living examples of love. We will have a significant impact on people as we live and model Christ-like love. "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28), Christ-like love is demonstrated by making other people the object of our service and sacrifice. Jesus said it was this love for each other that would allow the world to see we are true followers of Him (John 13:34). If we want to cultivate this love in the church, it needs to begin in the home between husband and wife, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren. However, the temptation that would hinder this love is great. Our love for success, prosperity, careers, entertainment, and the world is just a short list of the many things that can take priority over our love for the Savior. This, in turn, hinders our Christ-like love for the family, the church, and the lost. But be encouraged. If we walk by the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh because the first fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 2:22). Always remember, "Love never fails"¦ (1 Corinthians 13:8). "But now abides faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love". - 1 Corinthians 13:13
Scripture References: Matthew 20:28; John 13:34; Galatians 2:22; 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:13
BKI Encouragement 4 - July 28, 2010
"But go, tell His disciples and Peter" - Mark 14:29
Peter had proclaimed, "Even though all may fall away, yet I will not." (Mark 14:29). But we know before the night was over, he had denied the Lord three times (Mark 14:66-72). Peter wept bitterly when he realized what he had done, and as he went in hiding with the rest of the disciples, he must have been tormented with the memory of his disloyalty. In the morning, however, comes a message sent by an angel, that the Lord had risen and He wanted to see the disciples and Peter. Peter may have turned his back on the Lord, but the Lord had not turned His back on Peter. Without question, Peter was a representative of the frailty of mankind. Often our boasting turns to betrayal, our declarations turn to denial, and our best desires to bitter defeats. We may not have literally denied the Lord three times but we all have failed Him and let Him down. But be encouraged. Every minute of every day, hope, forgiveness and renewal are always available in Him.
"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Thy faithfulness."
Scripture References: Mark 14:29, Mark 14:66-72, Lamentations 3:22-23
BKI Encouragement 3 - July 21, 2010
"But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping..." - John 20:11
Many would say Mary came to the empty tomb in unbelief. I say she came not knowing that Christ had risen from the grave and thought, instead, that perhaps someone had stolen His body. Mary was not caught up in some mystical, sentimental emotionalism. She loved the Lord and was still overwhelmed by all that He had done for her. Both the Gospels of Mark and Luke confirmed He had delivered her from seven demons and therefore, from a dreadful existence. She was complete in Him. No wonder she wept! She owed her all to Him. We may not have been delivered from demon possession; but by believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have been set free from the power of sin and death. We too, owe our all to Him. Therefore be encouraged! "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice!"
Scripture Reference: Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2; Philippians 4:4
BKI Encouragement 2 - July 14, 2010
"You are witnesses of these things" - Luke 24:48
Witnessing is not an option for followers of Christ. Not all are called to preach, but all are called to speak. Witnessing is not speaking about your church and the activities it provides or stressing theological points or positions. "These things" refers solely to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Luke24:46-47), which is to be proclaimed to "all the nations." How one lives his new life in Christ is important, but the Bible calls for the verbalization of the gospel. Yet, witnessing has never been easy. It is no coincidence that the English word "martyr" comes from the Greek word for "witness". But we are not alone in this. He has given us the Holy Spirit and we have the strength of the Lord to speak "these things." Be encouraged. Speak up for Him!
Scripture References: John 14:13; Philippians 4:13
BKI Encouragement 1 - July 7, 2010
"Christ in you the hope of glory" - Colossians 1:27
Multitudes today feel both hopeless and helpless. Little do they know that Jesus alone is the way to fulfillment and meaning in their world but more importantly the only hope of eternal life. He is greater than all of our feelings and fears. He is able to save from every power and every situation. There is nothing that can separate us from His love for He will never desert us or forsake us. As Paul has written, "We have placed our hope in the living God" and we are "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Look to Him and be encouraged!
Scripture References: Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:38-39; 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 13:5; 1 John 4:4