BKI Encouragement 129 - December 26, 2012
"...but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 15:57
Now just a day after Christmas we can continue to rejoice in the birth of our Savior. Not only was He born, but through His sacrifice on the cross and His glorious resurrection, He defeated sin, death and the devil. Ronald Reagan once said, "Some people say I'm very simplistic. But there is a difference between being simplistic and simple. A lot of things are very simple if you think them through. So, keeping that in mind, here is my theory on the cold war: we win, they lose." All that is necessary for salvation and a daily walk with the Lord is to embrace by faith the simple and clear truth of Scripture. And when it comes to the war with sin, death and the devil: we win, they lose! "What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" Be encouraged and keep this in your heart and mind as you begin the New Year.
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 15:57; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Rawhide Down by Del Quentin Wilber; Romans 8:31
BKI Encouragement 128 - December 19, 2012
"...that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:16
Now less than a week from Christmas we are once again reminded of the reason for the season. If everyone could grasp by faith the truth of John 3:16, discouragement and despair would give way to hope and peace. "Whoever" shows the breadth and depth of the Lord's offer of salvation. There is no exception; there is no sin too great. The simple truth is that God in His great love has given His Son so that if we believe in Him, we may have forgiveness of sin and will never perish. Do not let your own failures or discouragements overcome you. There is something greater for you. You shall never perish! Be encouraged! In this astounding truth we celebrate the birth of Christ.
Scripture References: John 3:16
"...He gave His only begotten Son..."
BKI Encouragement 127 - December 12, 2012 - John 3:16
As believers entering the Christmas season we have great appreciation for the greatest gift of all eternity -- God gave His Son! The Apostle Paul summed it up this way, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" We can only rejoice that God the Father gave such a gift to a lost and sinful world that includes you and me. He was given as the Savior, Redeemer and Friend of sinners to all who believe. A gift so amazing is sufficient to provide salvation and life eternal to all who are in the world. Sadly, "the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him", and so it is with many today. "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". Be encouraged! Receive THE GREATEST GIFT ever today.
Scripture References: John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15; John 1:10, 11
BKI Encouragement 126 - December 5, 2012
"For God so loved the world..." - John 3:16
The Christmas season serves as a reminder of God's great love for mankind. Our God has compassion on this whole sinful world. All whom He has created He regards with His unconditional love for them. He does not love their sin, but He loves their souls. He is "not wishing for any to perish", but many of their own choosing will. He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth", but many will not come. At Christmas we are once again reminded that "Christ is God's gracious gift to the whole world! For God takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live". Without hesitation, we should offer God's great love freely, fully and without reservation to all men. This love can be only be found and experienced in Christ Jesus. Be encouraged. God so loves the world!
Scripture References: John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; J.C. Ryle; Ezekiel 33:11
BKI Encouragement 125 - November 28, 2012
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" - Revelation 5:12
This new song among those in heaven is the worship of the Lord on the basis of His redemptive work on the cross. It was there that He purchased our eternal salvation with His blood. This is why it is impossible for anyone to earn his salvation. We cannot add one thing, not our goodness, works, obedience, submission or sacrifice, to what Christ has already done. To do so is to rob Him of His worth, or His worship. Whatever we would contribute to salvation would have to be perfect. No one, including yourself, is perfect in goodness, works, obedience, submission or sacrifice; no one, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." "There is none righteous, not even one." Therefore, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Be encouraged. Worship the Lord alone. No one else is worthy.
Scripture References: Revelation 5:12; Romans 3:10, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:21
BKI Encouragement 124 - November 21, 2012
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23
It seems like everyone wants something for nothing. America is now an "entitlement nation" with nearly half of the people receiving some benefit. Federal welfare spending has increased 32% and those receiving food stamps are at a record 47 million, although not all are there of their own doing. Many play the lottery or visit the casinos in hope of winning the big prize. At the same time, an all time high of one-fifth of the American population has no religious affiliation. Why is it in a nation where so many desire something for nothing, there is a growing rejection of the free gift of God? The gift of salvation is free because Christ paid for it by His blood through the redemptive work of the cross. This is the greatest gift one can receive and offer to others. And it is absolutely free! You should know "that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold...but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." Be encouraged! Christ can do what no human government could ever do. Place all of your trust in Him and be THANKFUL for the free gift of God!
Scripture References: Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18, 19
BKI Encouragement 123 - November 14, 2012
"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, The Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come." - Revelation 4:8
The threefold ascription of His holiness attests to the fact that God, the Creator, is completely separate from the creation. "The Lord God, The Almighty," is a declaration that God is omnipotent and all power over the creation rests with Him. The emphasis is upon His power to judge a world that has rebelled against Him. "Who was and who is and who is to come" speaks of His eternality. Unfortunately, this biblical perception of God, long abandoned by the world and now here in America, includes many who claim to be Christians. The concept that God is only love and therefore tolerates sinful lifestyles seems to be the majority opinion. Many are trusting in a "god" not much different from those whom He created. But for you, "like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior." The point is this: be encouraged to not blend in with this created world but stand apart from it for the glory of the One who created it.
Scripture References: Revelation 4:8; 1 Peter 1:15
BKI Encouragement 122 - November 7, 2012
"The Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind, and that He sets over it whomever He wishes." -
It is now the morning after what is perhaps one of the most important elections in our life time. For believers who know they must give an account unto God, this was not an easy process. We did not want to support those who promote abortion and same sex marriage. On the other hand we were hesitant to support one who promotes a heretical form of Christianity. Daniel, a great man of prayer, faced similar choices. It was even revealed to him that the most ungodly man ever to be born would someday rule the whole world. But in the end, Daniel did not let those who ruled, who were not of his choosing, dishearten him. We should know that God is sovereign over His creation and that America is only one piece of the puzzle in His Mighty Hand. The one who leads our nation the next four years may not be our choice, and we may not like the direction our nation is going. However, like Daniel we can live in hope and peace that God will fulfill the precious promises that He has made to His people, regardless of who leads the nation or who rules the world. Do not be disheartened. Be encouraged! Even if we do not understand, the Lord knows what He is doing!
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."
Scripture References: Daniel 5:21; Isaiah 55:8, 9; Proverbs 3:5, 6
BKI Encouragement 121 - October 31, 2012
"The Church in Laodicea... you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." - Revelation 3:14-22
It is sad that just 60 years after the Resurrection, we already have a church made up of nominal Christians. There are four evidences these people are not saved: vs 16--to be excluded from His presence, vs 17--not aware of their sin, vs 18--have not received what the Lord offered and vs 20--an invitation into their lives. There is no middle ground with Christ. If one cannot demonstrate by his life he loves the Lord having trusted Him as Savior (hot), it would be better to openly reject Him (cold) than pretend to be saved. Make sure you have trusted the Lord alone for salvation and that you belong to Him, demonstrated by your life. If so, you can rest assured He says to you, "the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out, and "I will never leave you nor will I ever forsake you." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Revelation 3:14-22; John 6:37; Hebrews 13:5
BKI Encouragement 120 - October 24, 2012
"To...the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens..." - Revelation 3:7-13
To this church the Lord describes Himself as holy and true, signifying He is the chosen One of God who can be fully trusted. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." Jesus is the only door to salvation. Having the key of David signifies He is the only entrance into the future Messianic Kingdom of God. Many have tried to close the door to salvation or enter by another way. However, "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." The door is now open, but someday it will be shut. May we all be encouraged to tell others, "Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near," "for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you"; behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold now is "the day of salvation".
Scripture References: Revelation 3:7-13; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Isaiah 55:6; 2 Corinthians 6:2
BKI Encouragement 119 - October 17, 2012
"...the church at Sardis...you have a name that you are alive, and you are dead..." - Revelation 3:1-6
In this church there is no mention of persecution or outside pressure, because they had on their own abandoned the cause of Christ. The word "dead" refers to spiritual death commonly used for nominal Christians. They had forsaken their identity with Christ and replaced it with cultural identity. Because they fit into the surrounding society, they did not face persecutions as the four previous churches in Chapter Two. Their failure to stand firm for Christ and His gospel resulted in a severe warning, their removal from the Book of Life. This is another indication they were Christians in name only. The Church at Sardis has a close parallel with the contemporary church in America today. Each has settled for the easy "peace" of this life, unwilling to stand for Christ as the only hope of salvation and saying nothing that would bring conflict with the world. However, the Scripture states, "The righteous are bold as a lion". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Revelation 3:1-6; Proverbs 28:1
BKI Encouragement 118 - October 10, 2012
"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: Luke 24:48; John 14:13; Philippians 4:13
BKI Encouragement 117 - October 3, 2012
"...the church in Thyatira... I have this against you that you tolerate the woman Jezebel... but... the rest of you... have not known the deep things of Satan..." - Revelation 2:18-29
Far worse than the previous three churches in chapter 2, falsehood and idolatry permeated nearly the entire church at Thyatira. The characteristics of Jezebel, Ahab's wife who sought to lead Israel astray in the Old Testament, were now present in one who called herself a prophetess in this New Testament Church. Along with the doctrinal and moral issues, there was a spirit of elitism. Heresy has long been associated with the claim of special enlightenment accompanied by the condemnation of those who do not accept the so-called deeper things of God. In reality, these "deeper things of God", are from the realm of Satan. Spiritual elitism, self-idolatry, and the moral failure that often goes with it all have a common bond. This church went out of existence by the end of the second century, just as heretics and churches that embrace their falsehood have come and gone throughout church history. But, those who cling to Christ and His word shall reign with Him in glory forever and ever. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Revelation 2:18-29; 2 Timothy 2:12
BKI Encouragement 116 - September 26, 2012
"...the church in Pergamum... you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith... but I have a few things against you..." - Revelation 2:12-17
Pergamum was a wealthy city full of temples devoted to idol worship. Hence it was referred to as the throne of Satan. Martyrdom was common under the persecution of the Roman government which demanded the worship of Caesar. However, some in the church allowed false teaching relating to Balaam, who is considered the father of religious syncretism. Biblical truth cannot be mixed with any other so called truth, nor can Christianity be mixed with the beliefs of other religions. The Lord held the sin of such tolerance against the church at Pergamum. The same sin is quite common in the church today. The test for true conversion is a clean break with one's religious and/or pagan past. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord... And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Revelation 2:12-17
BKI Encouragement 115 - September 19, 2012
"...the church in Smyrna... I know your tribulation... do not fear... be faithful until death..." - Revelation 2:8-11
It was around 95 AD, and the Jews and Romans collaborated to bring a great persecution on the church. Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna, burned alive at the age of 86. Mass executions were also common. It is interesting that the Lord commended them for enduring such suffering, exhorted them to be faithful unto death, but did not promise them any relief. It is quite evident in the history of the early church, one's willingness to give his life was the ultimate proof of his loyalty to Christ. Living in a self-gratifying society, it is hard for us to even imagine such conditions. Nevertheless, "it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Revelation 2:8-11; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:14
BKI Encouragement 114 - September 12, 2012
"...To the church in Ephesus... you cannot endure evil men... but... you have left your first love." - Revelation 2:1-4
The church in Ephesus was commended for recognizing men who only had the pretense of godliness, but they needed correction for losing their first love. There are many churches today who have neither the discernment nor the love the Lord desires of them. More than forty years had passed, and the love that characterized the first generation was now lost in the second generation at Ephesus. How often do we see that, not only in the church, but also in families? Parents come to know the Lord and pass their zeal for Christ on to their children, but by the next generation it often settles into Christianity in name only. The church of Ephesus no longer exists as a light to the world and the city itself lies in ruin. So it will be today with those who fail to discern evil men who claim to be of God and lose their love they once had for the Lord. Be encouraged not to follow in the steps of Ephesus."You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, This is the great and foremost commandment."
Scripture References: Revelation 2:1-4; Matthew 22:37, 38
BKI Encouragement 113 - September 5, 2012
"Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him..." - Revelation 1:7
What will get the attention of the world like no other event? Will it be the coming elections, the crash of the stock market or the financial collapse of Europe? Will it be global warming, World War III or Armageddon? The answer is no. Nor will it be anything else we can dream up in our minds. There is coming one event that will get the attention of everyone alive on earth without exception. It will happen so fast that it will be "just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west." All will see Him and all "will mourn" at His coming, because He comes to judge them according to their sins. The Scripture provides a grim preview of what lies ahead for those who reject the love, grace, forgiveness, salvation and life eternal that the Lord has promised to those who receive Him. Paul wrote," Therefore knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men". Knowing about the "great and terrible day of the Lord", may we all be encouraged to persuade men.
Scripture References: Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:7, 30; Malachi 4:5
BKI Encouragement 112 - August 29, 2012
"...To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood." - Revelation 1:5
I can still remember the night when by faith I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. Through the preaching of the Word I was convicted of my sin and that Jesus was the only hope for salvation. I will never forget how I was released from the weight, burden and guilt of my sin. All of this was possible, not through any effort of my own but because "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Secondly, it was "because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit," I knew immediately that no one loved me like Jesus. Shortly before his death at an old age, John Newton said his memory was almost gone yet he could remember two things, "I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior" Amen! Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Revelation 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:5
BKI Encouragement 111 - August 23, 2012
"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
For the first four centuries, the church had few manuscripts and depended entirely on the public reading of Scripture. One copy per assembly was probably all that could be hoped for. God's Word was considered a blessing to the one who had the privilege to read it and to those who responded with obedient faith. This truth is expressed in Romans 10:17, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" and it is still foundational to missions and evangelism, for "how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?" Today we live in a land with an abundance of Bibles, but is it the most read and heard book? Be encouraged to not only read the Word but to believe and obey it. Life is a vapor, and our time of final accountability for how we live is always near.
Scripture References: Revelation 1:3; Romans 10:17, 10:14, 14:12
BKI Encouragement 110 - August 15, 2012
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God..." - Ephesians 2:8
The visible church is often characterized by a lack of love, forgiveness and humility resulting in strife and divisions. Are we not saved by grace? Grace is the great equalizer that strips the true believer of the self-righteousness that leads to the above vices. Grace is a reminder that all that we are and have in Christ is unmerited and undeserved. It is a gift of God to all who believe. Christ came into this world "full of grace and truth". Are we not a "letter of Christ known and read by all men?" Therefore, be encouraged to "be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." The believer needs to live this, and the unbeliever needs to see this!
Scripture References: Ephesians 2:8; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 3:2, 3; Ephesians 4:32
BKI Encouragement 109 - August 8, 2012
"We love, because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:19
Being fully God, our Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation and life eternal. Let us not forget it was His love, and not ours. It was His sacrifice, and not ours. It was His submission and not ours. It was His obedience and not ours. It was His blood and not ours. It was His righteousness and not ours. It is His intercession and not ours. It has been said, "...if we live to the age of Methuselah and do the works of the apostle Paul... we can add nothing." Be encouraged. "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Scripture References: 1 John 4:19; Hebrews 9:26; Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19; J.C. Ryle, Churches Beware; 1 Thessalonians 5:23
BKI Encouragement 108 - August 1, 2012
Do not marvel that I said to you, "you must be born again." - Proverbs 14:34
Last month I had the privilege of taking part in the baptism of Irina, a believer from our church plant in Baj-Xaak, Siberia. She had received a Bible and was born again by the Word of God. Peter wrote, "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God." We know in the beginning of the church, the apostles "began to speak the word of God with boldness." Even after a "great persecution arose against the church, those who had therefore been scattered went about preaching the word." The end result was that "considerable numbers were brought to the Lord." Do not underestimate the power of God's word. Be encouraged! Share it boldly, for this imperishable Truth remains God's instrument of the new birth and life eternal for those who, like Irina, simply believe.
Scripture References: John 3:17; 1 Peter 1:23; Acts 4:31, 8:1,4; 11:24
BKI Encouragement 107 - July 25, 2012
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." - Proverbs 14:34
Last week was a reminder that America, with all its greatness, continues to deteriorate from within. The spiritual decline of the church and the moral decline of society has become like an avalanche crashing down on our common sense, our decency and the values once cherished by the majority of Americans. We see the evidence in Aurora, Colorado, abortion on demand, addiction to violent video games by the next generation, disrespect for authority and human life, the deterioration of marriage and family, gay rights being forced upon us with the full support of our President and Vice President. All of these should bring us to our knees. No wonder we are told, "Pray without ceasing." Where is our Jehoshaphat who prayed "should evil come upon us,... we will cry to Thee,... and Thou wilt hear and deliver us"? Regardless, we should not yield to despair and disillusionment. Be encouraged. "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
Scripture References: Proverbs 14:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Chronicles 20:9; James 5:17; Psalm 33:12
BKI Encouragement 106 - July 18, 2012
"...He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously." - 1 Peter 2:23
In Russia the government recognizes the four major religions of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, as represented by the Russian Orthodox Church. Evangelical Christianity, still small numerically, is seen as a threat to the other religions. This shouldn't surprise us. The Lord, the apostles and a multitude in the early church were viewed as a threat to the control and power of organized religion and were put to death. The same has continued throughout the history of the true church, and nothing has changed. I recently received an email from a pastor friend who was forced out of his church by those who saw him as a threat to their control and power. True Christianity is not marked by a thirst for control, power or prestige. It is marked by humility, sacrifice and service as exemplified in our Lord. Be encouraged. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.
Scripture References: 1 Peter 2:23; Philippians 2:3
BKI Encouragement 105 - July 11, 2012
"And forgive us our debts..." - Matthew 6:12
The Western world struggles under the burden of excessive financial debt. More than one European nation has come to the brink of financial collapse. Here in the United States, we have a staggering national debt that increases daily. Every year numerous individuals, families, small businesses and corporations declare bankruptcy. But there is something greater than financial debt. It is the debt of sin. No man individually or all men collectively could ever pay this debt. However, there is One who did. "He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow.
Scripture References: Matthew 6:12; Colossians 2:13, 14; "Jesus Paid it All", Elvina M. Hall
BKI Encouragement 104 - July 4, 2012
"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." - Psalm 119:105
Today marks the second anniversary of the "Word of Encouragement". We trust that for those of you who receive it weekly, it is truly encouraging. For those of us who know we are so prone to sin and in need of the power of Christ every day, there is nothing more encouraging than the Scriptures. Paul wrote that through "the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope." That encouragement and hope is expressed by the hymn writer:
Enough for me that Jesus saves
This ends my fear and doubt:
A sinful soul I come to Him
He'll never cast me out.
My heart is leaning on the Word
The written word of God;
Salvation by my Savior's name
Salvation through His blood.
Scripture References: Psalm 119:105; Romans 15:4; "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place", Lidie H. Edmunds
BKI Encouragement 103 - June 27, 2012
"Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men." - Luke 5:8
Peter, James and John had just toiled all night with no success in catching fish. When the Lord told them where to cast the nets, they were astonished at the great catch of fish. What a crucial lesson for both them and us. First of all, the Lord is sovereign over all life, whether fish or men. Secondly, if fish submit to His will, how much more should we who are created in His image. Peter, at first, was reluctant to obey the Lord apparently thinking the casting of the nets would be in vain. Are you reluctant in sharing the Gospel? Are there people in your life whom you think have no chance of being saved? Well, be encouraged. He has said, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."
Scripture References: Luke 5:8; Matthew 4:19;
BKI Encouragement 102 - June 20, 2012
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life." - John 3:36
This Spring I returned to my hometown in Kansas. As I toured the town with my sisters, we passed house after house where people I had known some fifty years ago had lived. When I mentioned their names, my sisters would reply, "Yes, and they are gone." Like all people they had their dreams and goals, their joys and sorrows and their hopes and fears. But now they have departed. And so it will be with all of us. But, as believers, be encouraged. For it is written, "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 unto life."
Scripture References: John 3:36; John 5:24;
BKI Encouragement 101 - June 13, 2012
"And there was a prophetess, Anna..." - Luke 2:36
Since being widowed just seven years into her marriage, Anna, eighty four years of age, was still serving the Lord in the Temple with her fastings and prayers. Although she is only mentioned in three verses in the Gospel of Luke, these speak volumes concerning her heart for the things of God. She was not persuaded by the majority of the Jews who had only worldly expectations of a Messiah who would deliver them from Rome. Instead, "she continued to speak of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem". Be encouraged. Do not succumb to the many movements within Christianity that have as their priority political and societal deliverance. Like Anna, continue to speak of Christ as the only hope of deliverance from sin.
Scripture References: Luke 2:36; Luke 2:38
BKI Encouragement 100 - June 6, 2012
"Though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor." - 2 Corinthians 8:9
Poverty was our Lord's portion during His stay upon earth. He Himself said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." He was brought into this world by a poor woman. Forty days after His birth, when presented to the Lord in Jerusalem, His parents could only offer up a poor man's sacrifice of two turtle doves. His first thirty years were lived in a poor man's house. His ministry was a direct involvement with the poor. Even now, all believers in need can turn to their great Mediator in heaven who fully understands their plight. Be encouraged. "Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?"
Scripture References: 2 Corinthians 8:9; Matthew 8:20; Luke 2:24; James 2:5
BKI Encouragement 99 - May 30, 2012
Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. - 1 John 2:15
Why are we so prone to love the world? I am afraid that many who name the Name of Christ are more consumed with what the world has to offer rather than what the Lord has to offer. Simeon said, "Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace". Steven cried out, "Lord Jesus receive my Spirit!" Paul wrote, "I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord". What did these men have in common? For them the grave had lost its terror and the world had lost its charm. They knew where they were going and there was nothing in the world to hold them back. In the face of death, they did not hesitate, knowing the best was to come. Is the world losing its appeal for you? It should, for "the world is passing away". Be encouraged! "For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's".
Scripture References: 1 John 2:15; Luke 2:29; Acts 7:59; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 John 2:17
BKI Encouragement 98 - May 23, 2012
"His enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat."" - Matthew 13:25
The church, almost from its beginning, has had tares among the wheat. True believers and nominal Christians, holy and unholy, converted and unconverted often sit side by side. The wolf in sheep's clothing, deceived by his own self righteousness, often goes unnoticed among the flock. The false professions of many mimic the true professions of those who enter in by saving faith. How can we separate them? "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart". Be encouraged, for our Lord has said, ""¦I know My own, and My own know Me."
Scripture References: Matthew 13:25; Matthew 19:26; 1 Samuel 16:7; John 10:14
BKI Encouragement 97 - May 16, 2012
"Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction...!" - 1 Corinthians 10:11
Living in the New Testament era we should not ignore what is revealed to us in the Old Testament. We have much to learn from Bible history, and the lives of the Old Testament saints. Looking back we can see how God faithfully dealt with His people both in their victories and defeats. Knowing that God will always act according to His unchanging nature gives us strength to face our own weaknesses, helps us avoid unwarranted expectations and gives us hope for that yet to be fulfilled. "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11
BKI Encouragement 96 - May 9, 2012
"For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." - Romans 13:1
This election year will present a dilemma for many believers. It appears neither candidate represents true biblical Christianity. However, it has been said, "A true Christian should never be greatly moved or disquieted by the conduct of the rulers of the earth. "When the Lord's chosen people were coming under the dominion and heavy taxation of a foreign power, when strangers to their faith and practice were ruling over them, then God, in His perfect timing sent forth His Son, the Savior of the world. Regardless of the direction this nation or any other nation of the world takes we can rest assured God will once again intervene in human history in the second coming of Jesus Christ. Be encouraged!
Scripture & References: J.C. Ryle, Galatians 4:4; Romans 13:1
BKI Encouragement 95 - May 2, 2012
And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" - Luke 17:5
Believers of every age have had their times of struggle because of the lack of faith. We see it in Abraham, Moses, David and many more since. It was the sin the Lord rebuked in the apostles over and over again, because "without faith it is impossible to please Him." We need to be reminded that "with God all things are possible." There is no promise that will not be fulfilled. There is no difficulty too great to bear or overcome. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Let us turn our eyes and ears to the Scriptures and be encouraged, because faith rests calmly and peacefully upon the Word of God.
Scripture References: Luke 17:5; Matthew 19:26; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17
BKI Encouragement 94 - April 25, 2012
"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." - 1 Corinthians 15:58
These words should be a comfort and motivation to all of us. It is never a waste of time to further the cause of Christ. Even the least and lowest of the Lord's disciples will not toil in vain. Sharing Christ, praying for others, offering words of exhortation and meeting the needs of truly needy people will never go unnoticed by the Lord. For those who serve the Lord with humility, the Lord Himself will see more value in their labors than the servants of the Lord will see in themselves. "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord." Be encouraged!
Scripture & References: 1 Corinthians 15:58; Psalm 31:24
BKI Encouragement 93 - April 18, 2012
"Sanctify them in truth; Thy word is truth." - John 17:17
Many Christians rely more on their own subjective experience than on the objective teachings of Scripture. "Feelings and emotions now play a significant role in the development of peoples' faith views "“ in many cases, much more significant than"¦ listening to preaching and participating in Bible study." For example, in recent years near death and out of body experiences have often been held up as the standard for heaven and life after death even though they may contradict or cannot be confirmed by the Word of God. Interpreting Scripture by experience opens the door for deception, doctrinal error and heresy. Interpreting experience by the Scripture leads to the truth. So be encouraged! Receive the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things are so.
Scripture & References: George Barna 1/12/09; Acts 17:11; John 17:17
BKI Encouragement 92 - April 11, 2012
"And I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand." - John 10:28
When someone trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, he immediately becomes part of the church, the mystical body of Christ. He has now entered a personal relationship with the Lord from which nothing can separate him. Like the thief on the cross, he may not have the opportunity to be part of the visible church, be baptized or know the fellowship of other believers. However, he is part of the true church, baptized by the Holy Spirit and has fellowship with the One who saved him. Satan may rise up against him, the world may persecute him and the visible church may reject him. However, all the powers of darkness, the resentment of the secular culture and the self-righteous who willfully condemn can never touch his permanent and eternal relationship with his great God and Savior. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: John 10:28; Ephesians 5:23; Luke 23:40-43; 1 Corinthians 12:13, 14
BKI Encouragement 91 - April 4, 2012
"He is not here, for He has risen." - Matthew 28:6
Jesus has risen. Risen indeed! "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins," and there is no hope for you beyond the grave. Because the Lord knows the unbelief of human nature, He confirmed the great truth of the resurrection in every Gospel, by many witnesses, along with what is recorded in the Epistles. "Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them". The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the crowning proof He won the battle over sin and death on our behalf. It is the guarantee that the Father accepted Him as the substitute for the payment of sin to the glory of God. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Matthew 28:6; 1 Corinthians 15:17; Hebrews 7:25, 2:14-17
BKI Encouragement 90 - March 28, 2012
"Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again." - John 3:7
Without question, a vast number of professing Christians have nothing of Christianity except the name. They need to be converted and born again as much as those who openly reject Christ. Who is really a Christian? He is the one who by faith believes that Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation and trusts Him alone for the forgiveness of his sin and the free gift of eternal life. For his salvation, he places no confidence in himself but full confidence in the One who died for his sin. Can he have doubts and be weak in his faith? Yes. But, ask him if he is willing to trust in something or someone else other than Jesus for salvation. Ask if his salvation depends upon his goodness, obedience, service or sacrifice. Ask if he would give up Christ. Be encouraged, because we can say with the Apostle Paul, "I know whom I have believed."
Scripture References: John 3:7; 2 Timothy 1:12
BKI Encouragement 89 - March 21, 2012
"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world." - 1 John 2:2
There is nothing lacking on God's part for the salvation of sinners. No one will ever be able to say it was God's fault if they remain lost. The Father is ready to draw and receive. The Son is ready to pardon and forgive. The king is ready to invite one into His kingdom. The Priest stands ready to intercede. The Prophet is prepared to declare one righteous. The Spirit is ready to sanctify the new creation. Grace is ready to abound where sin abounds. Angels are ready to rejoice at repentance. Heaven has been readied as an everlasting home. Because of Christ's propitiation on behalf of the sinner, the gospel offers love to the lost, joy to the suffering, a friend for the lonely and a home for the aliens and strangers of this world. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: 1 John 2:2
BKI Encouragement 88 - March 14, 2012
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:12
We now see in a mirror dimly and have never seen our Lord face to face. However, there is coming a day when, totally freed from the defilement of sin, we shall see Jesus as we have been seen and know Him as we have been known. Today we battle the flesh, the world and spiritual darkness. On that day, with renewed bodies, we will worship Him without distraction and serve Him without weariness. Today we find imperfections in every visible church. On that day, there will be the body of Christ in perfect union, praise unceasing, knees gladly bowing at the Name of Jesus and all confessing Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father. If faith gives us hope, peace and godly purpose, surely that day of sight will be a most blessed day. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 13:12
BKI Encouragement 87 - March 7, 2012
"It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." - Proverbs 16:19
When called of God, Moses said he was "slow of speech and slow of tongue." Gideon said, "I am the youngest of my father's house". Isaiah said, "I am a man of unclean lips". And Paul declared that when it comes to sinners, "I am foremost of all". In the biographies of Wesley, Whitefield and McCheyne we see much of the same. All of these people had three important things in common. First, they understood, at least in part, the greatness of God. They knew He was the Almighty, the Creator, holy and just, infinite in wisdom and purity. Second, they knew they could not please Him and accomplish His purposes according to their own ability and strength. Third, knowing the greatness of God, they saw themselves as unworthy sinners. The more we see God as He is and ourselves as we really are the more we realize the immeasurable distance between ourselves and God. A void that only the Lord Jesus Christ can fill. Do you feel God is perfect and you are not? Be encouraged! This is right where you need to be, trusting in Jesus!
Scripture References: Proverbs 16:19; Exodus 6:12; Judges 6:15; Isaiah 6:5; 1 Timothy 1:15
BKI Encouragement 86 - February 29, 2012
"For the eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." - Proverbs 15:3
In Tuva, we visited a memorial erected in honor of 22 Siberian pastors who were murdered on October 29, 1937. Under the orders of Josef Stalin, the Russian Militia marched these pastors into the forest and made them dig a large hole, then executed and buried them in the freshly dug mass grave. This mass murder might have gone unnoticed except that a woman walking through the forest, hiding in fear witnessed all that took place. Today, with security and cell phone cameras one would think that those who desire to do evil would know they are likely being watched. They are being watched! "The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From His dwelling"“place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth". As believers, we are to "abstain from every form of evil", because He has promised, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 33:13, 14; 2 Thessalonians 5:22; Psalm 32:8
BKI Encouragement 85 - February 22, 2012
"For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it." - Matthew 7:14
In a time when so many identify with Christianity, the word "few" does not seem relevant. There are those who are convinced millions will be raptured at the second coming of Christ, throwing much of the world especially the United States into economic, social and political chaos. However, there is no indication in Scripture that the rapture causes any significant change on planet earth. The word "few", like all other words of the Bible, remains relevant. At Christ's first coming, there was one-world government, economic dictatorship, zero tolerance for followers of Christ and few who followed Him to the end. Will it be any different when He comes again? Be encouraged! As of now, the gate remains open. So continue to point those around you to Him.
Scripture References: Matthew 7:14
BKI Encouragement 84 - February 15, 2012
"He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless." - Isaiah 40:23
Recently, Judges of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the will of the people of California by ruling that the ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. When we look across America, it has become increasingly difficult to find decision makers in high places who promote anything even close to biblical values. Perhaps this should not surprise us, because when it comes to salvation, "there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble". It should remind us that our trust in political leaders should be guarded and limited. However, our trust in the Lord should be complete and absolute, for He has said, "Even from eternity I am He; and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?" Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Isaiah 40:23; 1 Corinthians 1:26; Isaiah 43:13
BKI Encouragement 83 - February 8, 2012
"Speak to us pleasant words." - Isaiah 30:10 KJV
We have become an ear tickling generation, and not just the people of the world but a multitude within the church. Of course, this was foretold in the Scripture. We have been warned that there will be those who "by their smooth and flattering speech will deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." How will they deceive them? They will tell them what they want to hear! Therefore, "they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." Jeremiah wrote, "Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the Lord our God." The Word of the Lord tells us we are all sinners deserving of death and eternal condemnation. Those are very unpleasant words. "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" The most pleasant words you will ever hear. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Isaiah 30:10; Romans 16:18; 2 Timothy 4:3; Jeremiah 42:6; Romans 6:23, 7:24, 25
BKI Encouragement 82 - February 1, 2012
The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee." - Isaiah 26:3 KJV
Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty! Take for example the following excerpts found in news reports in January: spreading recession in the euro zone, Greek bailout in peril, uncertainty in U.S "“ China relations, anxiety over dynastic change in North Korea, millions of Americans cannot find work, bumpy ride predicted for the stock market, serious doubts about the future of social security, a jump in gasoline prices, conflict between the secular and religious. One thing for certain, it is good to spend more time reading the Bible than the newspaper. Be encouraged! "Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock." Isaiah 26:4
Scripture References: Isaiah 26:3,4 KJV;
BKI Encouragement 81 - January 25, 2012
The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand." - Isaiah 14:24
The context of this verse is that even the all powerful Empire of Assyria could not thwart the sovereign control and intent of God concerning all the nations. This is an election year in the United States. It may result in economic down turn or prosperity. Laws may be enacted to give us greater or lesser personal freedom. The role of government may increase or decrease. But one thing for certain is that no one can thwart the plan of God for the future of this nation. There is no president, king, prime minster or dictator who can change what God has intended for the nations of this world. Be encouraged. "He's got the whole world in His hands!"
Scripture References: Isaiah 14:24
BKI Encouragement 80 - January 18, 2012
"Behold, the day of the Lord is near!" - Isaiah 12:6
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was entitled, "WHAT IF THIS YEAR IS THE LAST?" The author writes in response to the many predictions that the world will end this year, specifically on December 12th. The author suggests things like eating your favorite foods, reading your favorite books, watching your choice of movies, riding the subway and taking the family to Serengeti, if this is the last year. No one knows when the end will come, but how can we "have confidence in the day of judgment?" 1) "Prepare to meet your God". 2) "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, you and your household." 3) Be on the alert then for you do not know the day and the hour". 4) "Wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." Be encouraged. "Amen, come, Lord Jesus."
Scripture References: Isaiah 12:6; 1 John 4:17; Amos 4:12; Acts 16:31; Matthew 24:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 22:20 References: The Wall Street Journal, 1/5/2012, p.A13
BKI Encouragement 79 - January 11, 2012
"GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD, CALL UPON HIS NAME. MAKE KNOWN HIS DEEDS AMONG THE PEOPLE." - Isaiah 12:4
What great deeds God has done for you! Is it even possible to write them all down? Salvation, forgiveness and eternal life just to mention a few. He formed you in your mother's womb. He gave you life and then new life in Christ Jesus. Every step that you take and every breath that you breathe is according to His providence and care. All that you have both physically and spiritually comes from His hand. Be encouraged! Be thankful and declare to others the mighty deeds of God.
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."
What a mighty deed!
Scripture References: Isaiah 12:4; Acts 2:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4
BKI Encouragement 78 - January 4, 2012
"How happy is the man..." - Proverbs 3:13
In recent days all of us have been greeted with the expression, "Happy New Year!" As we begin a new year, I am somehow reminded of the song, "Don't worry, be happy." However, worry seems to be one of our great American pastimes. As Christians, there is no need to succumb to all the worries that come our way. As we begin a new year, we need to realize there is much beyond our control and therefore, a waste of time to worry about. Perhaps we should be reminded that we are to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Be encouraged! "How happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" Happy New Year!!!
Scripture References: Proverbs 3:13; Philippians 4:6, 7; Psalm 144:15