BKI Encouragement 181 - December 25, 2013
"Glory to God in the highest..." - Luke 2:14
The words of the heavenly host exclaimed at the birth of Christ should resonate deep within our hearts on this Christmas day. This was very God of very God who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The One who “is the radiance of His glory” laid aside His glory to be “found in the appearance as a man.” “As a gift of His grace”…there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord”. With mankind held captive and imprisoned by sin, death and the devil, He came to “proclaim liberty to the captives”, and to “set the prisoners free.” On the night that He was born those who had the privilege of witnessing it were “glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard.” May we who have heard the gospel, responded to it by faith and had our spiritual eyes opened do the same. Yes! “Glory to God in the highest…” Be encouraged on this Christmas Day!
References: Luke 2:14; Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 2:8; Romans 3:24; Isaiah 61:1; Psalms 146:7; Luke 2:7,11,20
BKI Encouragement 180 - December 18, 2013
"For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." - 2 Corinthians 1:5
As America and the rest of the world continue in a downward spiral of rejecting the God of the Bible, how do we believers find comfort in our daily lives? First of all, if we are comfortable in the world and the world is comfortable with us, why do we need the “God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions?” The need for comfort from God is directly related to the afflictions and sufferings we face because we are not comfortable in the world and the world is not comfortable with us. There is no indication that America or the rest of the world will turn to God and make it easier for us to live out our faith. In fact, the Scripture would indicate the opposite. But Christ “gave Himself that He might deliver us out of this present evil age”. There is coming a day when we will “meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words”. Be encouraged!
References: 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Galatian’s 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18
BKI Encouragement 179 - December 11, 2013
"...Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at a proper time." - 1 Timothy 2:5, 6
The Christmas season serves as a reminder of why Christ was born. As believers our citizenship is in heaven, and therefore, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not our calling. Some believe our calling is to dominate the government and political system of the United States. Others envision a Christianized America and have even erroneously stated that all America will be saved. Perhaps at Christmas we need to be reminded that Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost”. Therefore, we are called to be constrained by the love of Christ for all men. In the words of John Bunyan, “Dost thou see a soul with the image of God in him? Love him, love him. Say to thyself, ‘This man and I must go to heaven together someday”. Why should we love him? We should love him because “God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son…” Share the Christ of Christmas and leave the results with Him. If you believe all America will be saved, you will be disappointed. But, “whosoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Be encouraged!
References: 1 Timothy 2:5, 6; Luke 19:11; John 3:16; Romans 10:11
BKI Encouragement 178 - December 4, 2013
"For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?” - Matthew 16:26
Once again we are at that time of the year when many Americans are consumed with consumerism. Human nature, without doubt, ties the ability to consume with personal satisfaction and success. Actor Brad Pitt recently stated, “The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it.” He continues, “I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know. But I’m telling you, once you got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.” Pitt admits, he doesn’t have the answer to such a dilemma, but the Bible does. The Scripture is clear, only by faith in Christ is this human dilemma resolved. Only by faith in Christ may you be “filled with the Spirit” and have His “eternal rest” so that “when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” having the assurance you have not forfeited your soul. Be encouraged!
References: This Little Church Had None, Gary Gilley; Matthew 16:26; Ephesians 4:18; Hebrews 4:10; Proverbs 3:24
BKI Encouragement 177 - November 27, 2013
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We have so much to be thankful for, most importantly our personal relationship with the Lord, the forgiveness of sin and our eternal destiny. We could also mention food, family and all the blessings of this life. We should also be thankful that the holy standard of Scripture and the conviction of the Holy Spirit work together to humble us and bring us low before the Lord. We are called to be thankful because even “though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly.” It is He who “remembered us in our low estate, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” If your circumstances bring humility, give thanks for it demonstrates Christlikeness. It was Christ who “humbled Himself…to the point of death, even death on a cross”. Therefore, “humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” and be thankful. Yes, in everything give thanks and be encouraged!
References: 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 138:6, 136:23; Philippians 2:8; James 4:10
BKI Encouragement 176 - November 20, 2013
And the Lord is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.” - Deuteronomy 31:8
Paul spoke of our Lord as “Christ the power of God.” He prayed that we might be enlightened to know, “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” In other words, Christ is greater than all that we face and all that we need. While Christ was here on earth nature was in subjection to Him, disease was no match for Him and demons fled from Him. In His death and resurrection He went before us defeating both the devil and death. The Lord revealed to Paul that His “power is perfected in weakness”. Every time we are weak or when we face difficulties and hardship, these are opportunities for the Lord to display His power. It is then when we sense His presence, know His comfort, find sufficiency in His grace and see Him do what we could never do for ourselves. What would we do without Him? We give thanks that for now and all eternity, we will never be without Him! Therefore, do not fear or be dismayed. Be encouraged!
References: Deuteronomy 31:8; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:9
BKI Encouragement 175 - November 13, 2013
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” - Matthew 16:24
When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self. When you see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God while your own needs are far greater, that is dying to self. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, that is dying to self. When you never care to refer to yourself in conversations, or to record your own good deeds, or seek after commendation, when you can truly long to be unknown, that is dying to self. “…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” Be encouraged!
References: Matthew 16:24; West Valley Bible Church, Surprise, AZ; Philippians 3:8
BKI Encouragement 174 - November 6, 2013
"Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth." - Colossians 3:2
There are many today who live chaotic lives with little accomplished for the cause of Christ. Without spiritual focus life becomes a waste of time, money and opportunities. It then becomes easy to live in a fantasy world dreaming of that which will never be obtained. It has been stated, “As our chief temptation comes from looking around and our chief dangers from looking down, so our chief miseries come from looking too far in front. We need to learn the blessed art of constantly looking up.”
The hymn writer would add:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God”. Be encouraged!
References: Colossians 3:2; G.H. Knight; Helen Lemmel, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus; Colossians 3:1
BKI Encouragement 173 - October 30, 2013
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." - Proverbs 14:34
In this generation we have witnessed the decline of Christianity. Only twenty percent of Americans now attend church and only fifteen percent cling to the bible as absolute truth. It should not surprise us that during this same time period, our nation has experienced a similar steep decline in morality, especially in these last few years. Our first president said, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. “ James Madison wrote, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all… to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” We read in the Scripture, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” America has changed, but God has not. For those who come to Christ for salvation, He still forgives their sin, changes their lives and establishes in each one a biblical moral base. Praise the Lord, and be encouraged!
References: Proverbs 14:34; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
BKI Encouragement 172 - October 23, 2013
"Do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10
“Obeying man before God, and against Him, and valuing the favor and approval of man before or against the approval of God, and fearing man’s censure or displeasure more than God’s, is to idolize man, or set him up in the place of God.” There may not be a greater temptation that we continually face than this one. We easily forget if we seek to please God there is only one to please but with man there are many. Even if you please some, you will not please all. As with Christ, one minute men worship you and in the next they crucify you. Like the disciples before us, “We must obey God rather than men”. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man”. God, His favor and approval is our peace and rest when many in the world and even in the church oppose us. When this happens, and it will, remember that Jesus has said, “Blessed are you… for your reward in heaven is great”… Be encouraged!
References: Richard Baxter. Christian Directory; Acts 5:29; Psalm 118:8; Matthew 5:11,12; Galatians 1:10
BKI Encouragement 171 - October 16, 2013
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1
When we read this verse, how can we not rejoice in the mercy and grace of God as those who are in Christ Jesus. As believers, we are sometimes overwhelmed by our sin, failures and sense of unworthiness. Our own self efforts continue to fail us. We can easily concur with the Scripture, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” How comforting it is to read a verse that requires no qualifying cause. It does not depend upon our walk, obedience or spirituality. It cannot be advanced by our own dedication, commitment or sacrifice. This is pure grace! It is God’s Word forever settled in heaven given to us by a God who changes not. It frees us up to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul. It instills in us the great truth that only God through Christ is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”. Be encouraged!
References: Romans 8:1; Romans 7:18; 3:26
BKI Encouragement 170 - October 9, 2013
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." - Romans 1:16
When I placed my faith in Christ, I found myself burdened for the salvation of others. As a result the above became my favorite verse of Scripture. However, it means more than identifying as a Christian or even boldly proclaiming Christ. Both the exhortation and motivation for not being ashamed of the gospel is found here. First, the gospel is the power of God. Because it is of God, it is perfect and without flaw. It transcends all the psychological and philosophical answers to life and death. Only God could ordain such an absolute truth that defies human reason yet is not unreasonable. Secondly, we are inspired not to be ashamed because the gospel is the avenue of salvation open to everyone. I find no exception here, for “WHOSOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” No wonder the gospel literally means the “good news” that God sent into the world. Therefore, there is no need to be ashamed of the gospel in the presence of anyone, at any place or anytime. As believers, what a privilege to be “ambassadors for Christ”! Be encouraged.
References: Romans 1:16; Romans 10:13; 2 Corinthians 5:20
BKI Encouragement 169 - October 2, 2013
"How then can a man be just with God?" - Job 25:4
Job asked the question, and the answer is clearly found four times in Scripture. Habakkuk, the Apostle Paul and the writer of Hebrews all declare, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” And “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” How can we as sinners before God be made just and righteous by faith? The answer is simple, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God…” Some would say that salvation begins with faith but is secured or perfected by good works and obedience. Not so! “For by grace you have been saved through faith… not as a result of works…” It is not your obedience but “through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous.” It is the work and obedience of Christ alone that makes salvation solely by faith, absolutely free and all by His grace. It is no wonder that the result of justification is peace with God. The promise of God is this; if He justified you, someday He will glorify you. Be encouraged!
References: Job 25:4; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; Romans 5:1; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 5:19
BKI Encouragement 168 - September 25, 2013
"And he did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart." - 2 Chronicles 25:2
Like Amaziah we have all been there. The Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.” From the rote to the rut is a routine that we easily fall into when our prayer time, study, and service continue simply from our longtime habit. David told his son, Solomon, “Serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of your thoughts”. We know it is easy to stick to the routine and impress others, but the Lord looks upon the heart. The Lord has redeemed, saved and sanctified us. The Lord has met our needs, preserved and protected us. Therefore, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” Be encouraged!
References: 2 Chronicles 25:2; Isaiah 29:13; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37; 2 Thessalonians 3:5
BKI Encouragement 167 - September 18, 2013
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.
References: Luke 17:5; Matthew 19:26; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17
BKI Encouragement 166 - September 11, 2013
"I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God." - Isaiah 45:5
We can say with great certainty that there is a void in the human heart that only the Lord can fill. Multitudes throughout human history have sought to fill the void in the context of false religion, worshipping false gods or through religious practices and good deeds. Others have worshipped themselves, their earthly desires or the things of this world. We could say to the masses what Paul said to the Athenians who were worshipping “An Unknown God.” He told them “therefore you worship in ignorance”. The disciples had greater insight when the Lord asked them if they were going to leave Him. Peter confessed, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. Praise be to God that the void can be truly filled by our Lord. We do not have to be enslaved to a religious system nor do we need to fill our lives with fleshly and worldly substitutes. Yes, all should know “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God”. Be encouraged!
References: Isaiah 45:5; Acts 17:23; John 6:66-68; Ephesians 3:17-19
BKI Encouragement 165 - September 4, 2013
"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past." - Isaiah 43:18
Are you still holding on to the things of the past? Since no one is exempt from sin, we can all have a troubled conscience concerning sins of the past. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. Are you free? Are you free from the past? “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Is this true of you? What a great promise we read in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Paul told the Philippians, “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Why focus on the past? After all, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” Praise the Lord! Be encouraged!
References: Isaiah 43:18; John 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 1:9; Philippians 3:3,14; Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25
BKI Encouragement 164 - August 28, 2013
"And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." - 1 Timothy 6:8
It is doubtful that many of us living in America are content with just food and covering. There are other places in the world where many only wish for such on a daily basis. I remember a man in Russia who asked me for the scraps off of my plate while I was still seated at the table. As believers, when we are not content, we open the door for temptation in many ways. Satan tempted Eve by convincing her she was lacking something in her life and he tried to do the same in the temptation of Christ. We live in a culture where people easily sin in order to get what God has not granted them. We need to be reminded it is better to go without, and be in the will of God rather than to fulfill a want outside of the will of God. Without contentment we can easily harm our testimony and be just like those of the world. So learn to be content. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Be encouraged!
References: 1 Timothy 6:8; James 4:7
BKI Encouragement 163 - August 21, 2013
"Woe to those...who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!" - Isaiah 5:22-23
Every time an election rolls around, with it comes a bevy of political promises for the purpose of garnering votes. Many of these empty promises should be rightfully called bribes. Increasingly these promises go to those who according to the Scripture live in sin, or have problems resulting from unrepentant sin or live illegally in America. For example, a promiscuous woman can have unlimited abortions according to the law but the innocent aborted have lost their rights. Prayer and the Ten Commandments were taken out of the schools, but homosexuality and false religions were welcomed in. Most proposed gun legislation places greater restrictions on those who desire to lawfully own a gun for protection or recreation while doing nothing to stop those who will use a gun for robbery, murder or massacre. “Woe” means this action is already condemned by God, and personal grief and misery lie ahead for those so condemned. However, do not let what God will take care of in His own timing dishearten you. The greatest need for mankind is not a government that is just in all things but to be justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation to all who believe is not an empty promise but genuine and true because He who made it is faithful and true. Be encouraged!
References: Isaiah 5:22-23
BKI Encouragement 162 - August 14, 2013
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it." - Psalm 139:6
Daniel foretold that in the end times “knowledge will increase”. Apparently that time must be near. Both the church and the world have no shortage of those wanting to make known their expertise. Someone commented that Google is like God; it knows everything. David would disagree because he knew that the full knowledge of the Lord was unattainable. Isaiah expressed the same thought when he penned, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” This same attitude is expressed by the hymn writer.
I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own.
I know not how this saving faith to me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him.
It is not essential for us to know all that God knows or to answer all the whys of this life. It is essential that we know the One who knows all. May we say with the Apostle Paul, “I know whom I have believed”. Be encouraged!
References: Psalm 139:6; Isaiah 55:9; “I Know Whom I Have Believed”, Daniel W. Whittle; 2 Timothy 1:12
BKI Encouragement 161 - August 7, 2013
"...And in Him you have been made complete..." - Colossians 2:10
As believers, if we are complete in Christ, what do we have in Him? In the book of Ephesians, we have redemption and forgiveness. In Galatians, we have justification and righteousness. In 1 Timothy, we have grace and mercy. In Romans, we have victory over sin. In 2 Timothy, we have deliverance from evil. In Colossians, we have hope and life. In 2 Corinthians, we have comfort and love. In Jude, we have perseverance and life and godliness. In Philippians, we have the promise that Christ will meet all of our needs. In Hebrews, we have the full assurance of salvation. In 1 Thessalonians, we have deliverance from the wrath to come and the promise of His coming. In 1 Peter, we have an imperishable and undefiled inheritance. In Revelation, we have a permanent home in glory. We could go on, but what are we missing? We must conclude that we are complete in Christ and all that we have and all that we need comes from His hand. Be encouraged!
References: Colossians 2:10
BKI Encouragement 160 - July 31, 2013
"All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." - John 6:37
We can all be thankful that salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end. We can neither merit nor keep our salvation. We can, only by faith, receive what the Lord has done and is doing to provide for us the free gift of eternal life. We may often be weak and easily beset by sin, but we will never perish. We may disobey and disappoint the Lord, but He will never leave nor forsake us. We may face great difficulty but will never be destroyed. We may have great opposition by the enemies of the cross but will never be plucked from His hand. We may face death only to be raised up on the last day. In the end the word will "be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of these whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one." With Jesus, "our great God and Savior", not one of us needs to fear being cast away. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Be encouraged!
Scripture References: John 6:37; Titus 2:13; John 18:9; Romans 8:31
BKI Encouragement 159 - July 24, 2013
"But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive..." - John 7:39
The benefits of the Holy Spirit which indwells a person at the moment of salvation, are many. He brings understanding to the Word of God enabling us to view the world through the lens of Scripture. This safeguards us from accepting the manmade philosophies and political correctness that dominate this present world. He exalts Christ in our life and produces Christ-like character making us salt and light in a sinful world. He gives us the boldness to witness and not be ashamed of the gospel among the lost of the world. Because we know Him, He gives us the joy of salvation unknown to the world, a joy not based upon circumstance or the passing pleasure of sin but joy in its fullness. It is clear that without the indwelling Holy Spirit, we would be just like the world! "And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" Be encouraged, all you who believe in Him!" Be encouraged!
Scripture References: John 7:39; 1 Corinthians 2:14; John 16:14; Acts 1:8; John 15:11; 1 John 5:5
BKI Encouragement 158 - July 17, 2013
"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." - 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4
In the creation we see the power and wisdom of God. "It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom." We see the same in Christ "for by Him all things were created" and in Him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." In the Incarnation the love of God is made manifest "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." In His death, burial and resurrection, all three of these attributes come together. In His wisdom He had a plan to save you. In His power He had a way to save you. In His love He had an unconditional compassion to save you. And how do you respond? "Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, Thou art very great..." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Jeremiah 10:12; Colossians 1:16, 2:3; John 3:16; Psalm 104:1
BKI Encouragement 157 - July 10, 2013
"Be anxious for nothing..." - Philippians 4:6
How can we not be anxious? We live in a troubled world. How can we have "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension," when we are surrounded with so many things that do not even make sense? "As we witness what is going on in our nation and the world, should we not be perplexed? When Peter began to focus on the sea around him, he began to sink. The Lord rebuked him for a lack of faith, because anxiety is inconsistent with childlike faith. This peace with God and in our personal life does not come through medication, therapy or some escape from reality. It comes by faith and confidence in God, like three Jewish youths as they faced certain death exclaimed, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us."
"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.
Surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand"
Scripture References: Philippians 4:6; Philippians 4:6; Matthew 14:30; Daniel 3:17; Isaiah 41:30
BKI Encouragement 156 - July 3, 2013
"His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his own sin." - Proverbs 5:22
With last week's ruling by the Supreme Court, political correctness is now the law of the land. How sad it is when that which was viewed as evil, and still is in a multitude of other countries, is pridefully flaunted before the world by a so-called "Christian" nation as a promotion of democracy. It is even more alarming when the highest court and offices of the land embrace, promote and legalize what has long been considered a perversion. But, Isaiah says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness...". How tragic it is, knowing what some of the most powerful and influential people in the world will face in the day of judgment. Our culture may change but wages of sin remains the same. As believers, we may be saddened for our country and for those who reject the ways of God, but not disheartened. We have been promised the love of God, forgiveness of sin, victory over sin and eternal life, all promises which no high court or the highest office of the land can strip away. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Proverbs 5:22; Isaiah 5:20; Romans 6:23
BKI Encouragement 155 - June 26, 2013
"And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." - Mark 1:22
Jesus' manner of teaching was unique among the Jewish people. The scribes were very rigid in their teaching and applications of the Law resulting in a legalistic approach to God. Christ was very practical, applying the Word so that the common man could understand how to relate to God in a personal way. The scribes relied on the second-hand knowledge of earlier scribes often quoting their interpretations, much like many teachers of today who rely heavily on the writings and teachings of others rather than the Scripture. However, the Lord's teaching was void of human opinion, often quoting the prophets who brought forth the inspired Word of God. The lesson for us is plain and simple. Our authority must come from the Bible brought to us by the prophets and apostles as given to them by the Spirit of God. Secondly, by faith we must apply the Word in a personal and practical way to our daily lives. "Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Mark 1:22; 1 Peter 2:2
BKI Encouragement 154 - June 19, 2013
"For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests,
not those of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 2:20, 21
Some people give and serve for self-gratification. There are those who lead or teach to fulfill their thirst for attention, influence or power. Others seek after numbers and a following to appear successful and elevate their status. In all cases the Lord would say, "They have their reward in full". Our Lord never used people, treated them as a number or as a means to an end. He served and gave Himself solely for their best interests. Being concerned with what is best for every individual is the character of Christ and true Christianity. This is why the spiritual welfare of every soul, whether friend or foe, is to be of high priority and of special interest to all who are followers of Christ. Knowing that the Lord someday will "disclose the motives of men's hearts", we should examine our own motives and give thanks that, by His Spirit and His Word, He will give us a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Philippians 2:20, 21; Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 1 Corinthians 4:5
BKI Encouragement 153 - June 12, 2013
"Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey..." - Zechariah 9:9
When Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany came to Jerusalem in 1898, part of the wall was removed so his whole entourage could enter the city with all of the pomp and circumstance fit for a King. From the days of Solomon, it was the custom of Kings and dignitaries to enter the city mounted on a horse, a signal of pride and strength. What a contrast to Jesus riding in on a donkey's colt, the most common and least admired of domestic animals. Yet this does not compare to the fact that "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross". This became the basis for the command that we should not just look out for our "own personal interests, but also for the interests of others". The Lord's interest was "to seek and to save the lost". Jesus said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Sprit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses". What a great privilege we are granted to have the same interests in this world as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be humble. Be obedient. Be a witness. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Zechariah 9:9; Philippians 2:8, 3:4; Luke 19:10; Acts 1:8
BKI Encouragement 152 - June 5, 2013
"Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age." - Galatians 1:4
As we drove into a city recently, a sign reading, "An All--Inclusive City", gives the impression that any lifestyle choice is openly welcome there. When I was growing up in America, there were certain lifestyle choices that were at that time called sin, and which found little public tolerance. In recent years these same sins are not only tolerated but have found approval in our society as a whole. As a Russian once said to me, "At first we reject it, then we allow it and finally, we are obligated to accept it as the norm". In Romans One Paul warned of the danger of practicing sin and also to giving "hearty approval to those who practice them". Often we hear, "it's not for me, but it is okay for them". Not so with God! The Psalmist declared, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. " Thanks be to God that the Lord not only delivers us from the practice of sin but also from our approval of sin. Be encouraged.
Scripture References: Galatians 1:4; Romans 1:32; Psalm 18:2
BKI Encouragement 151 - May 29, 2013
"Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself..." - Matthew 6:34
We know of those who have acquired much land and built underground shelters in an attempt to feel secure, even in the event of a nuclear attack. Some store food and water while others do not feel secure unless they have enough money, gold or land to be self-sufficient. Isn't it interesting that as Jesus prepared His disciples to follow Him, He made no preparation for their physical security or protection. He did not train them for the event of war, natural disaster or economic collapse. He did not even want them to worry about such things. He prepared them for spiritual war, sacrificial lives and suffering for the sake of the gospel. While we should not live carelessly or tempt the Lord, it is not fear of calamity that causes one to be wise, but "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And with that wisdom "you will walk in your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Matthew 6:34; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 3:23-24
BKI Encouragement 150 - May 22, 2013
"...where I go, you cannot follow Me now..." - John 13:36
When Jesus uttered these words Peter boasted he would follow the Lord even unto death. This was impossible for him for two reasons. First, Peter's pride could not produce the courage to do so, proven by his threefold denial. Secondly, no one, past, present or future, could go where Christ was going. Only He could go to the cross and make propitiation for the sins of all mankind. Only He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We should know that self confidence and effort cannot produce salvation or faithfulness. Salvation and the boldness to stand firm for Him can only come through faith in the One who died and rose again. "Behold, as for the proud, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous one will live by his faith." Therefore, "be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: John 13:36; 1 John 2:2; John1:29; Habakkuk 2:4; Psalm 31:24
BKI Encouragement 149 - May 15, 2013
"Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." - Proverbs 30:5
It has only been in modern times that scientists have discovered the cause of the normal circulation of the wind. Although affected by the earth's rotation, the general flow of the earth's wind is toward the South where it heats up near the Equator, expands and rises and flows back toward the North. In the Polar Regions, it becomes colder and heavier and once again descends for its flow back to the South. This general circulation is now scientific fact. However, three thousand years ago the Bible declared, "Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns." The Bible has stood the test of time and never once disproven scientifically. Today many are predicting the destruction of the planet by manmade climate change, but the Bible says otherwise. For two thousand years, the destruction of the world has been recorded in the word of God; man's contribution to it is not carbon emissions but his sin! Take refuge in the One who holds your future and the future of the planet solely in His mighty hand. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Proverbs 30:5; Ecclesiastes 1:6
BKI Encouragement 148 - May 8, 2013
"Behold, God is mighty but does not despise any; He is mighty in strength of understanding." -
Believers, if honest, will admit there is a struggle with weakness, temptation and faith in their daily lives. Often that can result in discouragement or the feeling of failure. Certainly we all need to grow, have greater convictions and become more like Christ. However, there will be times when that is not the case. We can be thankful that our Lord, who is mighty, fully understands all that is going on in our lives and will not despise us. When the disciples faltered in following Christ, He said they were of little faith; but, He never gave up on them or despised them, nor will He with us. The Lord knows when we are hurt, weak and lacking faith. Always remember "it is God who is at work in you" and "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus". Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Job 36:5; Philippians 1:6, 2:13
BKI Encouragement 147 - May 1, 2013
"...the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge..." - Ephesians 3:18
The Bible reveals much about the love of Christ. Scripture tells us that He is merciful, compassionate and gracious while at the same time it declares our inability to fully comprehend the depth of His love. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends". This verse alone reveals our inability to fully comprehend His love for us. Otherwise, we would lay down our lives for Him, who above all others is our one true Friend. Although we know we cannot understand a love that does not fail, we do know that neither death, angels, powers nor principalities can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of every love the best;
Tis an ocean vast of blessing, Tis a haven sweet of rest
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Tis a heaven of heaven to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me up to Thee.
References: Ephesians 3:18; John 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:8; Romans 8:38, 39; "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus", Samuel Trevor Francis
BKI Encouragement 146 - April 24, 2013
"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 145 - April 17, 2013
"And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men." - Mark 2:3
When these four men realized they could not get near Jesus because of the crowds they dug a hole in the roof to lower the paralytic in. "And Jesus seeing their faith" healed him. What a picture of genuine faith! Difficulty and despair will not thwart genuine faith. In life we face disappointments, sorrow and sickness. As believers, we can experience opposition, slander or persecution. Will this inhibit our faith? In fact, it should produce just the opposite. Jeremiah, because of his faithfulness to the word of the Lord, became a "laughingstock" and faced "reproach and derision all day long." Yet he said, if "I will not remember Him or speak any more in His name, then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire." While in prison, Paul said, "my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel." The early church "upset the world" for Christ as a result of persecution. Trials and troubles become our opportunity to demonstrate genuine faith. Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Mark 2:3; Jeremiah 20:7-9; Philippians 1:12; Acts 17:6
BKI Encouragement 144 - April 10, 2013
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
We all like to feel rested but often the pressures and demands of life prevent it. Unrest is characteristic of the fast paced world of the 21st century. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it. Work, marriage, parenting, school and church activities often overwhelm us. In fact, the Lord's offer of rest was in the context of those weighed down by the expectation of tradition and religion along with the demands of life. In reality, we often fill our lives with unnecessary demands and expectations placed upon us by others or even by ourselves. The Lord told Martha, "you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary." All the while Mary was at rest at the Lord's feet. How is your week going? Are you overwhelmed, worn out, consumed by your responsibilities as usual? Take some time out for Jesus. Open His Word. Bow in prayer before Him. Be encouraged! He will give you rest!
Scripture References: Matthew 11:28; Luke 10:41-42
BKI Encouragement 143 - April 3, 2013
"He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters." - Matthew 12:30
It is impossible to live a life of neutrality with God although there are many who like to ride the fence. They see themselves not as bad as others yet fail to live by the faith and practice set forth by our Lord. They do not boldly speak out for Christ, yet they do not openly oppose Him. This is not a good position to be in. Some, to avoid the risk of ridicule or offense, never seem to have the boldness or burden to share Christ. Others seem to court trouble thrusting their faith upon everyone they meet, not being sensitive to place, time or circumstances. However, for the most part, it is the silent ones who fill the pews and places of authority in the church. When it comes to the outside world, few seem to think that their silence about Christ when away from the church or their Christian friends is detrimental to the cause of Christ. "And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?" Be encouraged! "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity."
Scripture References: Matthew 12:30; Romans 10:14; Colossians 4:5
BKI Encouragement 142 - March 27, 2013
"Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:4
This was the Lord’s answer to the disciples’ inquiry by the as to who is the greatest in the Kingdom. He preceded the answer by saying to be saved, one must become like a child. People of the world think the greatest is the one of great position and power, great riches and possessions, great popularity or notoriety. Salvation is by faith. This faith moves us from pride to humility, from seeing ourselves as important to seeing ourselves in need of mercy and grace, from security in our own doing to security in the work of Christ. In all this, we are trusting Him to meet our greatest need, the forgiveness of sin and the free gift of eternal life. Be encouraged. “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and he will exalt you”.
Scripture References: Matthew 18:4; James 4:10
BKI Encouragement 141 - March 20, 2013
"O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?" - 1 Corinthians 15:55
It was reported that the final words of Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez were that he did not want to die. One can appear strong, outspoken and in full control, but in the face of death, suddenly the façade is stripped away. There is no strength to resist it, no power to overcome it and no way to escape the appointment set by the one who is "...Lord both of the dead and of the living." But for believers, we know Christ died in our place "that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death..." We can say with the Apostle Paul, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We know "...to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" is the future of all who know Christ. Be encouraged! "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord..."
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 15:55; Romans 14:9; Hebrews 2:14; Philippians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Revelation 14:13
BKI Encouragement 140 - March 12, 2013
"Therefore, do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:31
We live in a culture where birds have greater protection than the unborn resulting in humanity devaluing humanity. But not so with God! Because of His great love and care for us, we need not live in any fear. We may face much opposition living for Christ, but the One who values us more than the sparrows is greater than all that we face and all that we may fear. Jesus, knowing that following Him would be costly, did not want the disciples or us to live in fear and not speak up for Him. When life gets tough, may we be able to say with the psalmist, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?" Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Matthew 10:31; Psalm 27:1
BKI Encouragement 139 - March 6, 2013
"And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd." - Matthew 9:36
Compassion was a distinguishing characteristic of Christ in the Gospels. As Jesus looked upon the multitudes, He knew they were helpless and hopeless, as sheep without a shepherd and no one to lead them. Today, many are without hope, distressed with disease and sickness. But there are far more who are sick in their soul and not prepared in any way for their appointment with death. Whose heart will be burdened for them? Who will lead them to the Truth? Who will have compassion for them? Was not the Lord full of compassion for us when we were saved? Be encouraged! Be an imitator of Christ!
Scripture References: Matthew 9:36; Hebrews 9:27; 1 Corinthians 11:1
BKI Encouragement 138 - February 27, 2013
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" - Romans 8:31
This verse was greatly misapplied at the end of the Super Bowl this year, but it should be very encouraging to all believers when applied correctly. We have a faith that does not flatter the rich, famous or highly educated. We have a faith that is not politically correct nor offers a license for sin. We have a faith whose foundation was laid by poor fishermen without wealth, power or prestige. We have a faith that is not inclusive or agreeable with other faiths. We have a faith in which the weak prove strong and the strong prove weak. How can this be? How has the true church survived over the centuries? Why will there always be a remnant when the odds are so overwhelming and the opposition so great? The answer is clear. "If God is for us, who is against us?" It is because "in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Romans 8:31,37
BKI Encouragement 137 - February 20, 2013
"The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion." - Proverbs 28:1
As we know, there is a growing resistance and opposition to Biblical Christianity here in the United States. As things progress, it may become difficult to remain openly faithful to Christ. Do we have the courage to confront the culture and the growing apostasy with biblical truth? In the early church, the Lordship of Christ meant to follow Him at all costs. However, during the Protestant Reformation, there were many groups of secret believers across Europe. Communism forced the church underground in Russia, and we still have it to a large extent all across China. In predominantly Muslim countries, it would take great courage to confess Christ openly. Jesus said, "If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you..." Can we handle that? Will we be ashamed of the gospel leaving only the stones to cry out? Be encouraged! Be "filled with the Holy Spirit" and "speak the word of God with boldness."
Scripture References: Proverbs 28:1; John 15:20; Romans 1:16; Luke 19:40; Acts 4:31
BKI Encouragement 136 - February 13, 2013
Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" - John 20:28
From Nathaniel's declaration in John chapter one, "thou art the Son of God" to the climactic expression of faith by Thomas, the overall emphasis of John's gospel is the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first century emperor, Domitian, applied the title of Lord and God to the cult of emperor worship. In that time, as today, there were "many gods and many lords", but for those of true faith there was "one Lord, Jesus Christ." In that expression they were not declaring that they had made Jesus Lord of their lives nor a complete submission to His Lordship. They were declaring Jesus as the only God and the only One who could save them from sin and death and from their daily fears and failings. What a relief for Thomas to finally realize and accept by faith who Jesus really was. Be encouraged! "These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."
Scripture References: John 20:28; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; John 20:31
BKI Encouragement 135 - February 6, 2013
"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17
For nearly ten years, we have had an open door for the gospel in Siberia. At the same time, we have been met with great resistance by those steeped in Atheism, Shamanism and Buddhism. One would think with their extreme conditions of poverty, unemployment, alcoholism and immorality they would be completely open to change. But in reality, few are. In America, the church and Christianity are continuously losing ground even though there is no shortage of information or programs on how to prop ourselves up. We build churches and ministries that give the appearance of success. We create titles that portray us as spiritual or successful, yet, we are still losing ground. In a day of growing apostasy and secularism, how can we not desire to change? How can we remain in apathy, characterized by self-satisfaction, with so many on their way to hell? Christians need to be changed by Christ just as much as sinners need to be converted by Christ. But for you, be encouraged! Be changed and "walk in the newness of life".
Scripture References: 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:4
BKI Encouragement 134 - January 30, 2013
"You must be born again." - John 3:7
Early in my ministry as I was teaching a Sunday school class, I asked those attending to share a personal testimony of how they came to Christ. Several in the class said they had always been Christians, born and raised in a Christian family. Like Nicodemus and the majority of the Jews they did not realize they needed the new birth. The Jews believed being Abraham's descendents made them acceptable to God. Many today think they are children of God, fully accepted by Him, just because they belong to the human race. The new birth is a spiritual work of God that takes place when one places his faith in Christ as his Savior, as one of those "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Grace does not descend from parent to child. It has often been said that God has no grandchildren; grace and wisdom do not run in the blood! Yes, every individual needs to be born again. But, be encouraged because you can be born again. "Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved," and born again!
Scripture References: John 3:7; John 1:13; Romans 10:13
BKI Encouragement 133 - January 23, 2013
"If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all." - Mark 9:35
Many in the church today want life to be easy, live in luxury, play by their own rules and are spiritually lazy. Their goals seem to be to enjoy popularity and delegate their servant-hood to others. Paul wanted Timothy to be strong in the Lord and have a lasting impact on others for Christ. So how did Paul instruct him? He told him he must suffer hardship, not get entangled in the world, play by the rules and work hard. Do we expect the same today? Hudson Taylor walked away from the comforts of the world, suffered hardship, lived according to the Word and never asked anyone to do what he was unwilling to do. No wonder his life and ministry still has an impact upon China. Paul knew his life and ministry was coming to an end. Therefore, he was passing the baton on to Timothy to impact others just as he did. Who are you serving? Who are you preparing to carry on? Be encouraged. Deny yourself, take up His cross and follow Him, the One who suffered the most, was hated by the world and was a servant of all.
Scripture References: Mark 9:35; 2 Timothy 2:1-6; Mark 8:34
BKI Encouragement 132 - January 16, 2013
"For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh..." - Galatians 5:17
As believers, none of us will intentionally trust the world or the devil, but all of us will trust in our flesh. In fact, from Native Americans' belief in many gods to the atheists' belief in no god, the flesh often displays itself as good, righteous and religious. The flesh can even give us a false sense that we are completely sold out to the Lordship of Christ, fully dedicated to God, resulting in spiritual pride. But the flesh is the self-reliant nature of all mankind -- saved or not saved- that creates sinful desires and enslaves us to sin. Because the flesh is internal, it is far more consistent in its effort to deceive you than the external pull of the world or the wiles of the devil. However, the flesh is the avenue through which the world and the devil create havoc in our walk with the Lord. But there is hope in this continual warfare we face all of our lives. Through the study of the Word, prayer and the realization of our internal weakness we can learn to walk with a greater dependence upon the Spirit of God rather than the flesh. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Be encouraged!
Scripture References: Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:16
BKI Encouragement 131 - January 9, 2013
"Pray then, in this way: Our Father Who art in heaven Hallowed be Thy Name" - Matthew 6:9
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, His first instruction was for them to address God as their Father. He did not instruct them to address Him as Sovereign, Master, Shepherd or Friend because of the nature of prayer. As believers, we are His children, and in our prayers we show our dependence upon Him just as earthly children have a dependence upon their fathers. The Father/child relationship also helps us understand why God does not grant all of our requests. A good earthly father will not give his children all that they want but will certainly meet their needs. Even this does not fully compare with the goodness of God toward His own children. This Father/child emphasis makes us continually aware of God's great desire to have a personal relationship with His children. Be encouraged and pray!
Scripture References: Matthew 6:9