BKI Encouragement 77 - December 28, 2011
"Behold I am making all things new." - Revelation 21:5
God is in the business of making all things new. Because of our saving faith in Jesus Christ, we are described as a new creation, new man and new self, and recipients of the new covenant. As new born babes in Christ, we walk in the newness of life and serve in the newness of the Spirit. Some day we will be living in a new heaven and new earth. The year, 2011 will soon be history. Perhaps there were victories and defeats, ups and downs, gains and losses. Regardless, with the Lord we can start each day and the coming year, anew. Be encouraged. "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness."
Scripture References: Revelation 21:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 2:15, 4:24; Romans 6:4, 7:6; Revelation 21:1; Lamentations 3:22,23
BKI Encouragement 76 - December 21, 2011
"FOR A CHILD WILL BE BORN TO US, a Son will be given to us..." - Isaiah 9:6
When we look at the fulfillment of this prophecy in John 3:16, we know the "us" doesn't apply just to Israel but to the whole world. Praise the Lord the "us" includes us! Since the fall, man has continuously devised different, religious ways in an attempt to lift himself up to the god of his choice. But the God of the Bible has amazingly come down to us. We love God and celebrate the Christmas season because He first loved us. Be encouraged. The One who was born in a manger in Bethlehem came to this earth for you! "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
Scripture References: Isaiah 9:6; John 3:16; Romans 10:3; 1 John 4:19; Luke 2:7; 2 Corinthians 9:15
BKI Encouragement 75 - December 14, 2011
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." - Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah, like we, lived in very turbulent times. Judah, much like our nation, had turned her back on God. In response to the prosperity He afforded, her heart turned to greed. Her freedom from aggressors, she took as a license to sin. Her leaders were self-absorbed and, motivated by corruption, were taking away the rights of the common man. But in the midst of the warnings and impending judgment, God gave a promise. The promise was Immanuel, "which translated means, "God with us." And yes, they would "call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins". Are you a believer? Be encouraged! The hope that we have in the Christ of Christmas far outshines the turbulent times in which we live.
Scripture References: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 1:4. 10-15; 5:8, 9, 18-23; Matthew 1:21, 23
BKI Encouragement 74 - December 6, 2011
"For the poor you always have with you; but you do not always have Me." - John 12:8
Jesus came not to eliminate poverty but "to seek and to save that which was lost." It is clear that poverty will always exist. Neither the efforts of government or religion will terminate it, nor does its existence reflect a failure on their part. Yet, as believers, we should have the compassion of the Lord toward the needy. The care of the poor is the privilege and responsibility of the church in every age. At the same time, the temporal needs are not to usurp the spiritual and eternal need of those without Christ. All too often in the church today, the social gospel is allowed to supersede the gospel of Christ. But, be encouraged. While being sensitive to the temporal needs of those the Lord brings into our lives, we truly honor our Lord Jesus Christ when our priority centers on presenting the free gift of salvation through His gospel.
Scripture References: John 12:8; Luke 19:10
BKI Encouragement 73 - November 29, 2011
"Jesus wept." - John 11:35
The shortest verse of the English Bible has much to say. Spurgeon preached two sermons on this text. Three times in the gospels we see our Lord in tears. Truly He was a "man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Are you in tears? He was there before you. Are you suffering? He suffered even more. Are you troubled? So was He, yet without sin. When we face the struggles of humanity, a sympathetic and compassionate Lord is always near. Life has many setbacks, but be encouraged. There is coming a day when the One who shed tears will wipe away every tear.
Scripture References: John 11:35; Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 13:5; Revelation 21:4
BKI Encouragement 72 - November 23, 2011
"The Scripture cannot be broken." - John 10:35
The Bible is not just another book. It is God's book. Jesus was affirming the Scripture's inspiration and inerrancy. The term "broken" means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous. 1 In Scripture, there are many challenges both to understand and explain. However, we can trust our life and soul to every book, chapter, verse, and word of the Bible. Although there are always those who attack the Word of God, not one word of it can be annulled. The Psalmist wrote, "Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven." Jesus said every jot (smallest) and tittle (stroke) will be fulfilled. Be encouraged and join with the psalmist who wrote, "I rejoice at Thy word, as one who finds great spoil."
Scripture References: John 10:35; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 5:18; Psalm 119:162; Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Jesus
BKI Encouragement 71 - November 16, 2011
"I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and my own know Me." - John 10:14
"Like a good shepherd, Christ knows all His believing people. Their names, their families, their dwelling-places, their circumstances, their private history, their experience, their trials "“ with all these things Jesus is perfectly acquainted. There is not a thing about the least and lowest of them with which He is not familiar. The children of this world may not know Christians, and may count their lives folly: but the Good Shepherd knows them thoroughly, and, wonderful to say, though He knows them, does not despise them. Like a good shepherd, Christ cares tenderly for all His believing people. He provides for all their wants in the wilderness of this world, and leads them by the right way to a city of habitation. He bears patiently with their many weaknesses and infirmities, and does not cast them off because they are wayward, erring, sick, footsore, or lame". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: John 10:14; "Expository Thoughts on John", Vol. 2 - J. C. Ryle
BKI Encouragement 70 - November 9, 2011
They answered and said to him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they put him out. - John 9:34
The quest for power and control can bring the worst of sins. The people who excommunicated the blind man healed by Christ and those who sought the death of Jesus Christ were one and the same. Filled with jealousy, envy and anger, they humiliate and put to open shame those who are a threat to their power, position and prestige. No generation of the church has escaped them, and they still exist in church after church today. In reality, there will be a day of reckoning when "many who are first will be last; and the last, first." Knowing that "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble," be encouraged. "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you". With God, the way to the top is down!
I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause
I'd rather have Jesus than world-wide fame
I'd rather be true to His holy name.
Scripture References: John 9:34; Galatians 5:19-21; Psalm 51:5; Matthew 19:30; James 4:6, 10; "I'd Rather Have Jesus" Rhea F. Miller, George Beverly Shea
BKI Encouragement 69 - November 2, 2011
"Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps My word he shall never see death." - John 8:51
There is only One who can promise you life over death and back it up with His own resurrection. It was "through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death." Only Christ could say, "I have the power to lay it down (His life), and I have the power to take it again (resurrection)." Therefore, Christ can promise to all who believe they shall never see death. He is not speaking of physical death which is the destiny of all, but of deliverance from (1) spiritual death, for we are alive in Christ, (2) bodily death, for we will be resurrected and (3) the second death, for we will not be condemned to eternal hell. So be encouraged, even though our sin destines us for physical, spiritual and eternal death, our Savior destines us for eternal life.
Scripture References: John 8:51; Hebrews 2:14; John 10:18
BKI Encouragement 68 - October 26, 2011
He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God. - John 8:47
How sad it is to see someone not willing to listen and receive the Word of God. In the past few years, I have had the privilege to proclaim Christ to many people, and yet most reject it. We know the "natural man (unsaved) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him". We also know "if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world (satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving." You, too, need to "receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls". Only then can you say, "you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God". When one becomes a believer, the Bible comes alive. It teaches, reproves, corrects, trains and equips you. Has the Bible come alive to you? Do you read it, listen to it, receive it, and believe it? If so, be encouraged. It is one of the strongest evidences that you are of God.
Scripture References: John 8:47; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4; James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:23; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17
BKI Encouragement 67 - October 19, 2011
It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. - Mark 2:17
While in Russia this September, I went to a large school in Kyzyl seeking permission to share the gospel. The principal promised we could speak to 120 students on Friday but called and canceled the meeting that morning. As a result, we drove to another school unannounced, in the town of Chadan nearly three hours away. There, we had the privilege of speaking to exactly 120 students. The Lord is good! On our return to Kyzyl, we learned that Chadon is the crime capital of Tuva, which has the highest murder rate per capita in the Russian Federation. Chadon has four schools, and we have already been invited back to speak to them on our next trip. So be encouraged! The Great Physician is still opening doors to send you and me into the midst of needy sinners. And no, you do not have to travel to Russia for the Lord to place you into their midst.
Scripture References: Mark 2:17
BKI Encouragement 66 - October 12, 2011
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." - John 7:38
When a person comes to Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit Who brings purpose, peace, hope and comfort into his life and soul. But the intention of the Lord, confirmed in Scripture, is not to be a self- contained believer, but to be a fountain of blessing to others. Luther paraphrased this verse to say that we who are refreshed and delivered shall refresh, comfort and strengthen the lives of others. To whom can you minister today? "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Be encouraged! May the Christ, Who indwells you by the Spirit, flow out of your life into the lives of others.
"Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray
Make me a blessing to someone today."
Scripture References: John 7:38; Galatians 6:10; "Make Me a Blessing" - Ira A. Wilson
BKI Encouragement 65 - October 5, 2011
"If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." - John 7:37
Unfortunately, few have such a thirst. Many thirst after fame, position, money and pleasure, but few seem to have a desire for forgiveness, a clear conscience and peace with God. This thirst can only come when one is convicted by the word of God that he is an empty and needy sinner. If anyone has such a thirst, he needs only to come to Christ. To come to Him means to trust Him by faith to take away your sin and receive the free gift of eternal life, which includes the removal of the guilt of sin and peace with God. So be encouraged, because anyone can come to Him. Pray that all among your family and friends will come.
Scripture References: John 7:37
BKI Encouragement 64 - September 28, 2011
"Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." - John 6:68
Many at this time had turned away from the Lord, just like it will be in the final days of the church. Isn't this quite evident today? Forty-four percent of Americans have left their Christian upbringing, most probably consumed by what the world has to offer. Many have determined that their own choice of religion, their goodness or their self-perceived beliefs will save them. Others spin Christianity into a politically correct view of acceptance and tolerance of any religious concept. The early church saw Jesus as God, the only hope of salvation to be followed at all costs. Why? There was no one else to follow. Only Jesus saves. The disciples at this time were quite ignorant of many of the great doctrines of the faith, but one thing they did know. Only Jesus saves. Has the Lord opened your eyes to this simple yet profound truth? Then be encouraged. Cling to it, defend it and proclaim it. Only Jesus saves.
Scripture References: John 6:68
BKI Encouragement 63 - September 21, 2011
"But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him." - John 6:64
As long as there is money, there will be counterfeits. As long as there is a church, there will be counterfeit Christians. Jesus knew that these people who followed after Him and claimed to be His disciples did not really believe. "Not all who come to church, nor all who profess to admire and follow popular preachers, are real Christians." If Judas fooled the eleven, although not Jesus, there are certainly many who can fool us. We do not, as Christ, have the ability to remove the tares from the wheat. But be encouraged. We do have the privilege to follow the Lord's example and proclaim the gospel to all, while knowing that many who profess to believe really do not. But remember, there is joy in heaven and, I trust, in our hearts, too, over just one sinner who repents.
Scripture References: John 6:64; J.C. Ryle; Matthew 13:30; Luke 15:7
BKI Encouragement 62 - September 14, 2011
"I am the bread of life." - John 6:48
It can be said that bread is the staple of the world beyond all other foods. As bread is a necessary commodity for our physical existence, Christ is the food of man's soul made available through the finished work of the cross. In Christ alone, all empty souls can find their fill. As bread represents what we need daily to physically survive, Christ is our spiritual need every day of our lives. Each day we need His propitiation to cover our sins, His righteousness to be in good standing before God and His intercession when we pray, confess and petition. So be encouraged. May Christ "dwell in your hearts through faith", so that "you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."
Scripture References: John 6:48
BKI Encouragement 61 - September 7, 2011
"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day." - John 6:39
What more can we ask for than to have the Lord promise and guarantee our eternal salvation? We may err, fail in many ways, be far from perfect in our prayers and witness, yet rest assured we will never be condemned in Christ. To say a believer will someday be cast away from the presence of God is to deny both the will of God and the power of Christ. So be encouraged! By faith we look beyond the grave to a glorious resurrection when we "meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord." You cannot lose, because the will of God and the power of Christ guarantee He will lose nothing.
Scripture References: John 6:39; Romans 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:17
BKI Encouragement 60 - August 31, 2011
"ll that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me, I will certainly not cast out." - John 6:37
Don't you love this verse? There are two things we should cherish here. First, anyone, without exception, who comes to Christ by faith will not be turned away. No matter what the sin, how great the sin or how long in sin, Christ will take you in. Secondly, as a believer, when you come to Him, even though there will be times of weakness, lack of faith, and sin, He will never cast you aside. So be encouraged! If you belong to Christ, He will never forsake you. Yes, Jesus is truly our great God and Savior!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Hallelujah! What a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving.
He is with me to the end.
Scripture References: John 6:37; Hebrews 13:5; Titus 2:13; "Our Great Savior" - J. Wilbur Chapman
BKI Encouragement 59 - August 24, 2011
"Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone." - John 6:15
Few refuse popularity when it is offered to them as Christ did when He was tempted by both the devil and men. We live in a day of "celebrity Christianity" when kingdoms are built at the expense of the Kingdom, a day when we can be known as followers of certain men or ministries rather than of Christ, a day when church websites exalt men, past or present, more than Christ, a day when the Lord is reduced to simply being famous rather than "I am God, and there is no one like Me." We can be thankful that Jesus came not "to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." He came not to be a celebrity, but "to seek and to save that which was lost". May we all be encouraged to do the same!
Scripture References: John 6:15; Matthew 4:8, 9; Isaiah 46:9; Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10
BKI Encouragement 58 - August 17, 2011
"Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life." - John 6:27
Certainly the Scriptures command the believer to work and provide for his own. Depending upon the government to sustain you is one of the root causes of the present economic chaos in this world. However, there is a greater work than that which supplies our earthly needs. Jesus said, "This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent." Saving faith goes beyond the moment of salvation, to trusting Christ for what we do and face in this present life. To study your Bible, pray, share Christ personally with others and to discipline and instruct your children in the ways of the Lord are just a few examples of the work of God that all of us can do by faith. So be encouraged to be busy in the eternal work of God. After all, Jesus will come quickly and His reward will be with Him, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Scripture References: John 6:27; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Psalm 119:11; Matthew 4:19; Ephesians 6:4; Revelation 22:12
BKI Encouragement 57 - August 10, 2011
"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" - John 5:44
I recently read an article written from an evolutionary point of view that said, "You can be good without God". The author championed a "human-generated morality" as a more reasonable approach to life. As always, in implying God Himself is immoral, the author failed to understand the absolute holiness of God and man's own desperate moral depravity. While accusing believers of a pick and choose theology, he chose to ignore some simple biblical truths: that 1) only God is good, 2) compared to God no one is good and 3) all are sinners before God. His approach has been followed by multitudes, both religious and non-religious who fail to see they fall short of the glory (perfect standard) of God, embracing instead, a man-pleasing self glory of so called human goodness. But be encouraged. "He made Him (Christ Jesus) who know no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him". Now that is really good!
Scripture References: John 5:44; Luke 18:19; Romans 3:12, 23; 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21 Article Reference: "You can be good without God", Jerry A Coyne. USA Today, Monday, August 1, 2011. 7A
BKI Encouragement 56 - August 3, 2011
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." - John 5:24
The one who hears God's Word and responds to it in saving faith is immediately the recipient of many spiritual treasures. He presently has eternal life and no longer lives in fear of Judgment. He who was dead in his sins now has a relationship with the living God. It is true that no one can be saved and remain the same, so be encouraged. Where the future was the grave there is now everlasting life. Where there was impending doom there is now no condemnation. Where there is now a present salvation short of heaven there will be soon a complete salvation in the fullness of glory.
Scripture References: John 5:24
BKI Encouragement 55 - July 27, 2011
"And many more believed because of His word." - John 4:41
The Lord walked among the Jews for over three years performing many miracles, but only a relative few of them believed. The Samaritans had only two days with the Lord, and although He did not perform any miracles, many believed. Do you wonder why? Seeking for signs, the Jews rejected the truth and stoned the prophets. Referring to the Jews by parable, the Lord said, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead." On the other hand, the Samaritans not seeing one miracle were "born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God." So be encouraged to share the Gospel. That simple truth forever settled in the Word of God, is still "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes."
Scripture References: John 4:41; John 1:12: 1 Corinthians 1:22; Luke 16:31; 1 Peter 1:23; Romans 1:16
BKI Encouragement 54 - July 20, 2011
"There came a woman of Samaria" - John 4:7
As believers, living in a time when there is a growing tolerance and insensitivity toward evil, it becomes easier to despise those who live in or flaunt their sin. However, when the Lord met a very immoral woman at Jacob's well, He did not despise her but instead offered her living water springing up to eternal life. What a great lesson for us living in a world of moral decadence. Undoubtedly, we all have people in our life who have succumbed to the darkness of this world. Do we consider them beyond the saving grace of God? Or, with the heart of God, are we "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance"? So be encouraged. Our own salvation proves that God's hand is not too short to save any and all who come to Him.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
Scripture References: John 4:7; John 4:10, 14; 2 Peter 3:9; "Amazing Grace" John Newton
BKI Encouragement 53 - July 13, 2011
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:16
Led by the Pharisees, the Jews saw the benefit of a coming Messiah limited to the chosen people of Israel. Therefore, the words of Christ to Nicodemus were a startling declaration, difficult for any Jew to accept and believe. Paul, once a Pharisee himself, called this an "indescribable" gift". For God's great gift to fallen mankind was a Savior, a Redeemer and the very Friend of sinners. In the word of J. C. Ryle, "this is wonderful indeed!" So be encouraged, In God's great love for humanity, He not only provides a pardon for sin but also a guarantee of heaven for all who believe.
When by the gift of His infinite grace
I am accorded in heaven a place
Just to be there and to look on His face
Will through the ages be glory for me
Scripture References: John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15; "O That Will be Glory""“Charles H. Gabriel
BKI Encouragement 52 - July 6, 2011
"Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." - Nehemiah 8:10
Recent scientific medical studies have revealed that the cumulative risks and side effects of prescribed drugs may outweigh the benefits. Those side effects include reduced brain function, loss of physical stamina and depression. Yet, according to the National Center for Health statistics, half of all Americans take prescription drugs. Many, according to the center, are taking drugs they do not really need and are needlessly experiencing the bad side effects of these medicines. The Scripture, however, tells us that "joyful heart is good medicine"¦" It is not only good medicine for the individual believer but also good medicine for a world looking on. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and a good benefit of knowing Christ as your Savior. So be encouraged. "O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation," for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Scripture References: Nehemiah 8:10; Proverbs 17:22; Galatians 5:22; Psalm 95:1
BKI Encouragement 51 - June 29, 2011
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,..." - John 1:14
Yes, God became a man! And as the perfect Son of God, He was the only One ever who could die for our sins. The union of God and man in one person remains one of the great mysteries of Christianity. No one can fully explain it. Beginning in the early church, trying to explain the unexplainable brought much heresy and division. The same has continued in every generation when human wisdom tries to trump the wisdom of God. But this we can fully know, that God became a man to die for our sins. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." From the beginning the church has not had "many wise according to the flesh" but a multitude who have come to Him in childlike faith followed by a simple and pure devotion to Jesus Christ. So be encouraged. Leave the mysteries of God with God and live each day with a simple trust and reliance upon Him.
Scripture References: John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21, 11:3; Matthew 18:3
BKI Encouragement 50 - June 22, 2011
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." - John 1:12
The context of this verse is that the majority rejected Christ at His coming, and so it has been ever since. But for the "few" who receive Him, they are the children of God by faith, born again by a new and heavenly birth. Adopted into the family of the King of Kings, they become new creations with a new beginning and a different perspective on life and the world around them. What a privilege to be the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Few in number and despised by the world, they experience the infinite love and care of the heavenly Father. And when this life is over, they "will receive the unfading crown of glory". Be encouraged! These are great things.
Scripture References: John 1:12; Matthew 7:14; 1 Peter 5:4
BKI Encouragement 49 - June 15, 2011
"He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" - Matthew 16:15
Perhaps the greatest question of all time is, "Who is Jesus to you?" The Scripture is clear; Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God". He is the Eternal God, the Creator of all things, the Source of all spiritual life and light, the Word of God and the Revelation of God. He is also the Savior of the world, the propitiation for our sins, our Advocate with the Father, our great High Priest and the only hope of glory. Why do we have such a "great God and Savior, Christ Jesus?" Great is our sin! Make sure your faith, for the forgiveness of sin and the free gift of eternal life is solely in Christ. Be encouraged! Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Scripture References: Matthew 16:15; Matthew 16:16; John 1:1-9, 18, 4:42; 1 John 2:1,2; Hebrews 3:1; Colossians 1:27; Titus2:13
BKI Encouragement 48 - June 8, 2011
"You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." - James 2:19
A megachurch pastor recently wrote a book in which he argues that God would not cast anyone into an everlasting hell. Has the church become so weak that we have less faith than that found among the demons? They all believe and know Jesus is the Christ. They believe He will one day judge the world and cast them and those who reject the Savior into eternal hell. Yes, there is, no doubt, a growing number of professing Christians who deny the reality of hell. How solemn it is when one professes to be a believer but has less faith in what the Scriptures declare than the devil. And yes, the devil himself would use the subject of hell to cause us to question the love of God and the truth of Scripture. But, be encouraged and "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."
Scripture References: James 2:19; Matthew 8:29; Acts 19:15; 2 Timothy 2:15
BKI Encouragement 47 - June 1, 2011
"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" - Revelation 19:9
While in Tuva this past April, a Christian told me that, except for her mother who is also a believer, none of her three hundred Tuvian relatives came to her wedding, because it was in the church. Few believers, here in America, know such animosity toward their faith. What a contrast to the recent Royal Wedding in London that captured the attention of most of the world. However, even this will be overshadowed by the greatest wedding yet to come, when the King of Kings is united with His bride, the Church. What a glorious day, when He will dwell among us and abolish forever all pain and death. So be encouraged and rejoice, because every believer will take part in the most glorious ceremony ever!
Scripture References: Revelation 19:7-9, 21:1-5
BKI Encouragement 46 - May 25, 2011
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1
In Aryg-Bazhi, after explaining to the students and teachers what the Bible is and its basic message to mankind, some of the teachers wanted to know if the present world will be destroyed. My answer was yes, but that God will create a new heaven and new earth where righteousness dwells. They responded by saying they believed the advanced nations will be destroyed but not the Republic of Tuva. My response was, "No, it will happen here". People have different reasons for believing they will escape the judgment of God, but He has provided only one way, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. So, be encouraged, for we know, as believers, "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Scripture References: Romans 8:1; 2 Peter 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9
BKI Encouragement 45 - May 18, 2011
"Let us therefore draw near..." - Hebrews 4:16
After sharing Christ at the school in Kochetoba, in Western Tuva, we were served lunch and invited to visit their small museum, a few blocks away. As we walked there, we passed a Buddhist altar. One of the teachers, a Buddhist, gave us a demonstration of how a Buddhist prays. She circled the altar three times, touching each corner as she passed by, and then bowed and backed away. I asked her, "What if you circled ten times?" She replied, "We must always end on an odd number or the prayer is nullified."
As believers, we need no such ritual. Instead, we have direct access, anytime and any place, to our God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Buddha is dead, but Christ "is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them". So be encouraged. "Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need."
Scripture References: Hebrews 4:16, 7:25
BKI Encouragement 44 - May 11, 2011
"The fool has said in his heart, There is no God." - Psalm 14:1
One day last month, in the Tuvian village of Elegest, we gave a Bible to nearly one hundred students and their teachers. Soon after, a teacher came to me and thanked me for the Bible saying that, under Communism, he was taught there was no God. Lenin, Marx and a host of others from around the world who have already entered their eternal destiny now know the price of their folly. "Professing to be wise, they became fools". As believers, we know there is a God with whom we have a personal relationship, through Jesus Christ, His Son. So, be encouraged. "We are fools for Christ's sake", as we live out our faith in the true and living God.
Scripture References: Psalm 14:1; Romans 1:22; John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 4:10
BKI Encouragement 43 - May 4, 2011
"For I delivered to you as first importance..." - 1 Corinthians 15:3
On Easter Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching in the Church of Susch, in Central Siberia. My text was 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although I gave no invitation, at the end of the message, two people expressed their desire to receive Christ as their Savior. At a time when the church is full of gimmicks and numerous appeals to the flesh, it was encouraging to experience firsthand that the gospel remains "the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes". No greater truth will mankind hear, know or believe than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So be encouraged. Count it both a blessing and privilege that the Lord has called you to know, believe and proclaim the most important truth of human history.
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 1:16, 10:11
BKI Encouragement 42 - April 27, 2011
"And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ." - 2 Thessalonians 3:5
The love of God and the example set forth by Christ should always be a motivation and encouragement in our lives. Here, it is not our love for God, but His love for us. We know "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us". "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins". This love is unconditional, not influenced by the circumstances within or without. So be encouraged, because nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
"How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!"
Scripture References: 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:9, 10; Romans 8:39 Music Reference: "My Savior's Love", Charles Gabriel
BKI Encouragement 41 - April 20, 2011
"Faithful is He Who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." - 1 Thessalonians 5:24
With all that is going on in the church and the world today, these must be encouraging words. God not only calls the believer, but He is sufficient for every need of the believer. "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus". Salvation is the work of God from beginning to end. We are "a people for God's own possession." And if God possesses a person, He continues to work in that person until his salvation is fully realized in the glorious day of redemption.
"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou for ever wilt be
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!"
Scripture References: 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9 - "Great is Thy Faithfulness", Thomas O. Chisholm
BKI Encouragement 40 - April 13, 2011
"Abstain from every form of evil" - 1 Thessalonians 5:22
This exhortation from the Bible does not say to abstain from evil, but from the very appearance of evil. The believer is to turn away, to flee from, the very appearance of evil. The same imperative goes back to Deuteronomy 23:9. The Psalmist wrote "depart from evil, and do good" and "hate evil, you who love the Lord." Living in the age of technology, the appearance of evil comes quickly via television and the internet. Many in the church have grown accustomed to, or even embraced, such evil. We forget the warning of Isaiah not to call evil good, or good evil. The Lord knew the danger of this, and He taught His disciples to pray, "deliver us from evil." As believers, we know "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one". But be encouraged. "The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one".
Scripture References: 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Psalm 34:14, 97:10; Isaiah 5:20; Matthew 6:13; 1 John 5:19; Ephesians 5:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:3
BKI Encouragement 39 - April 4, 2011
"You have said, "It is vain to serve God..." - Malachi 3:14
The Israelites became so dissatisfied in their relationship with God they came to the point, they said, "it is vain to serve God". Their own sins, improper worship, disregard for marriage vows and failure to give, led to their condition, which God called arrogant. Today, it is not uncommon for a believer to become just as dissatisfied and frustrated. The continual problems that come our way, either through a sin filled world or our own weaknesses, can easily frustrate us, defeat us and cause us to give up, when it comes to serving the Lord. Yet, we must not let the world or our own personal failures, defeat us. The Scripture is clear, "therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord". The word, "toil ", means to never cease, stop, quit or retire from the Lord's work. So, be encouraged, for it is never in vain to serve the Lord. The challenge is great, but may the Lord find you immoveable!
Scripture References: Malachi 3:14; Malachi 1:6-9; 2:14; 3:8-14; 1 Corinthians 15:58
BKI Encouragement 38 - March 30, 2011
"Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen." - Revelation 1:7
When Christ returns to execute judgment upon this world, every person who has ever lived will see Him. Those who have rejected Him as Lord and Savior will know that Jesus is the Lord God and Savior of all who have believed. The first time, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and provided a means of salvation for mankind. At His second coming, He will come "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." Therefore, those who have rejected Him will wail and mourn at their impending judgment. How can this truth encourage us? First, we should not be ashamed of the gospel. As Paul said, if we "know the terror of the Lord," now is the time to "persuade men" to "be reconciled to God" through faith in Christ. Secondly, having been "justified by His grace", we should always give thanks that "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ".
Scripture References: Revelation 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:11, 20; Titus 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:9
BKI Encouragement 37 - March 23, 2011
"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." - Revelation 1:3
Being a missionary to a land where few have their own Bible, or a church to hear it preached, and even fewer have their eyes opened to what is written therein, I know how blessed we are living here in America. We can freely read it in our own homes, carry it openly to a church where it is proclaimed and live it out "in all godliness and dignity". Recently, I was witnessing to two members of a cult, when they asked me if I would consider reading the deceptive book of their false religion. My response was, why would I even consider that, when I already possess the only book that can bring one to salvation, the only book that can teach, reprove, correct and train one in righteousness, equipping them for every good work. So be encouraged. Read, listen, take heed, and be blessed. You have the only Book you really need.
Scripture References: Revelation 1:3; 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 1:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
BKI Encouragement 36 - March 16, 2011
"And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars... and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes." - Matthew 24:6-7
Chile, Haiti, New Zealand, and now Japan, earthquakes have always occurred, but the recent increase in their frequency and intensity reminds us of biblical prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Increasing conflicts, both in and among the nations, and the rise of natural disasters will characterize the end times. The Book of Revelation tells us that Armageddon will be marked with a "great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it and so mighty." Jesus said, when there is "dismay among the nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves"¦ ,for the powers of heaven will be shaken"¦, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near." So be encouraged, because the Holy Spirit of God has sealed you for that day!
Scripture References: Matthew 24:6-7; Revelation 16:18; Luke 21:25-27; Ephesians 4:30
BKI Encouragement 35 - March 9, 2011
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." - James 5:16
It is amazing how time can fly by, and we seem to accomplish little, especially in the eternal sense. Perhaps there is a need to "devote yourselves to prayer". We need to pray in the good and bad times, when facing afflictions, temptations, trials and disappointments, as well as when experiencing victory, success, joy and peace. We consistently need to pray for His strength for our witness and the spiritual growth and protection of others. May the following Scriptures speak to your heart. "Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually." "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter temptation." "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." "Pray without ceasing." Be encouraged, because you can accomplish much!
Scripture References: James 5:16; Colossians 4:2; 1 Chronicles 16:11; Matthew 26:41; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17
BKI Encouragement 34 - March 2, 2011
"let your yes be yes, and your no, no" - James 5:12
A man's word is a reflection of who he is. He is either true or false, trustworthy or undependable, factual or deceiving. His word stands alone. It is quite clear that the day of a verbal agreement and a simple handshake is long gone. In the age of political correctness and spin, it is often difficult to determine what a person is saying, let alone what they mean. But be encouraged, for God is not into the confusion and lack of clarity of our day. All He expects from you is a simple yes or no. He doesn't even ask for an explanation.
Scripture References: James 5:12
BKI Encouragement 33 - February 23, 2011
"...the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." - James 5:11
"Such great words of encouragement! Especially since they are given in the context of the suffering of Job and the prophets. All of us, as believers, must resist the tendency to react like the world when we face the adversity that often comes from a fallen world. James confirms that the outcome belongs to the Lord, who is "full of compassion and is merciful". God is not cold hearted. He does not enjoy the afflictions that come upon those He calls His own. Certainly His compassion and mercy is greater than our sin, and the troubles we face because of the sin of others. "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail" (Lamentations 3:22). That was true for Job and the prophets, and it's just as true today for you."
Scripture References: James 5:11; Lamentations 3:22
BKI Encouragement 32 - February 16, 2011
"Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord..." -
While the skeptics continue to say, "Where is the promise of His coming? (2 Peter 3:4)", we, as believers, know with certainty the Lord shall return. But, as we presently serve the Lord, we must be patient, because in His own time He "shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). While we wait for the Lord, we must endure the temptations and trials of life (James 1:12) as we combat the sin that so easily besets us (Romans 13:11-14), "so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming" (1 John 2:28). So be encouraged as we are "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13), because "when He appears, we shall be like Him"¦" (1 John 3:2).
Scripture References: James 5:7; 2 Peter 3:4; Matthew 16:27; James 1:12; Romans 13:11-14; 1 John 2:28; Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:2
BKI Encouragement 31 - February 9, 2011
"You have lived luxuriously on the earth..." - James 5:5
As Americans, we have lived in the most prosperous nation on earth. However, that may all change. The national debt is staggering and many economists are saying that runaway inflation is now a worldwide fear. Both threaten the standard of living to which we are accustomed. So what should we do? First, Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our basic needs (Matthew 6:25). Secondly, put away savings during the good years in preparation for the difficult years (Proverbs 6:6-8). Third, do not be enslaved by personal debt (Proverbs 22:7) and finally, store up treasure in heaven by investing in the Lord's work which is now the Great Commission (Matthew 6:19-21). By following the counsel of Scripture may you be encouraged!
Scripture References: James 5:5;Matthew 6:25; Proverbs 6:6-8; Proverbs 22:7; Matthew 6:19-21
BKI Encouragement 30 - February 2, 2011
"Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this and that" - James 4:15
Plans concerning our future can be made with great confidence or great uncertainty. To make plans without considering the will of the Lord is an act of self-sufficiency. I am afraid there are many believers who, in many of their decisions, live as if God did not exist. Where is God in choosing school, career, friends or mate for life? Where is God in purchasing a car, home or a retirement plan? We need to include the Lord and seek His will in all of our decisions because only he knows our future. Life can change suddenly and unexpectedly in the split second of an accident, a routine doctor's visit or notice of unemployment. In realty, we have no guarantee of tomorrow or even an hour from now. But be encouraged. We have a Lord whose will is to love us and desire what is best for us. So "in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
Scripture References: James 4:15; Proverbs 3:5, 6
BKI Encouragement 29 - January 26, 2011
"There is only one Lawgiver and Judge..." - James 4:12
The context of this verse is a warning about being critical and condemning of one another. But judgment belongs solely to God because He alone has the right and the knowledge to correctly evaluate the actions and lives of fellow believers. Only God is able to know and judge the whole truth about a person. People have a tendency to judge others because criticism helps them justify their own sin and boost their own self image. Why usurp God's authority and try to do what only He can do, perfectly and without partiality? So be encouraged, "And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).
Scripture References: James 4:12; Ephesians 4:32
BKI Encouragement 28 - January 19, 2011
"Draw Nigh to God..." - James 4:8
Not wanting us to live as sinners, but as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, James gives four requirements for walking in a close relationship with God. The first is clean hands. We must not be physically or actively involved in that which God forbids or dishonors Him. Secondly, a pure heart. We must not be involved mentally or emotionally in that which God forbids or dishonors Him. We cannot love God and love the world (1 John 2:15). We cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). As in chapter one, we are warned about being double-minded. Third, we must be serious and disciplined concerning sin. Temptation is often sudden and unexpected. Fourth, we must be humble before God and not have a self-sufficient spirit. Yes, we struggle with sin, loyalty to God and pride that will distance us from Him. But be encouraged, the end result of drawing nigh to God is that He will draw nigh to you and lift you up.
Scripture References: James 4:8; 1 John 2:15; Matthew 6:24
BKI Encouragement 27 - January 12, 2011
"Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." - James 4:7
In this Scripture, "submit", means to place oneself under the care and command of God. The word "resist" means to stand firm and oppose. Both of these are military terms and therefore imperatives by our Commander and Chief. How did Christ stand firm and resist the devil? He faced each temptation by quoting Scriptures, and "the devil left Him" (Matthew 4:1-11). The Psalmist encourages us to stand firm and resist the temptations of the devil in the same way. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to thy word. Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against thee (Psalm 119: 9, 11). So as you begin 2011, be encouraged. It is never too late to begin memorizing the Scripture.
Scripture References: James 4:7; Matthew 4:1-11; Psalm 119: 9, 11
BKI Encouragement 26 - January 5, 2011
"And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who Thou has sent." - John 17:3
It has become routine to see billboard messages around the Christmas season denying the existence of God or declaring Christianity a myth. This past Christmas was no exception. It is as if those who proclaim these messages have a higher source of knowledge, that they know something we do not know. The truth is we know something, or should I say Someone, they do not know. "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God" (Psalms 14:1) and "professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22). Paul wrote, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8). Knowing Christ is the greatest knowledge one can have, now and for all eternity. So be encouraged! In 2011 let your life be a billboard of the surpassing value of knowing Christ!
Scripture References:John 17:3; Psalms 14:1; Romans 1:22; Philippians 3:8