Category Archives: Encouragement

Grace and peace be multiplied to you
in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord
;

seeing that His divine power has granted to us
everything pertaining to life and godliness,
through the true knowledge of Him who called us
by His own glory and excellence.
For by these He has granted to us
His precious and magnificent promises,
so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Now for this very reason also,
applying all diligence,

in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing,
they render you neither useless nor unfruitful
in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted,
having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent
to make certain about His calling and choosing you;
for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

2 Peter 1.2-11

 

When Trouble Comes

Few of us need to be reminded that our commitment to Christ doesn’t exempt us from the difficulties and hardships we encounter in life. When Jesus spoke about building a life upon a solid rock (Matthew 7.24), He indicated there was another choice: sand. We could build on sand, too, but what terrible consequences when the storms come.

Our spiritual relationship with God is like a child and a father. Problems such as illness, death, discouragement, even natural disasters, are but a few of the storms of life. They are no respecter of persons, attacking Christians and non-Christians alike. It is not uncommon to hear someone who has suffered a loss ask, “Why – why does God allow such things to happen?”

Becoming a Christian does not grant us immunity from the problems of this world. But one thing we are granted that those outside of Christ can never have is the assurance of an ever-present God. Assurance that He knows our troubles and our anxieties and asks us to cast them all on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5.7).

Our Heavenly Father sees and understands our predicaments. He comes to us, enfolding us in His gracious arms to grant us solace and safety (Psalm 46.1-3):

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
 Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Selah.

 – grace to you all and peace, Bill

 

“Blessed are the merciful…” (Matthew 5.7)

The word “merciful” translates a Greek word from which we get “benefactor.” It appears in this sense only one other time in the New Testament (Hebrews 2.17) where Jesus is described as a merciful and faithful high priest.

The Latin derivation of the word is misericordia, a compound term – misernas, meaning “pity, misery, or pain” and cordis, “heart.” So miseria cordis is “pain of heart.” That’s the primary meaning of mercy. It’s when we count another’s misery or need as our very own and then act within our power and ability to relieve or supply their need.

Jesus illustrated the meaning of mercy to a self-righteous and unmerciful lawyer in Luke 10.25-37. He told the story of a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead by the roadside. On no less than two occasions, highly respected men could have helped him, but instead chose to pass by. Then a Samaritan, loathsome in the estimation of the Jews, stopped, rendered first aid, carried the injured man to a place of safety and paid for his keep!

Now which of these three, Jesus asked the lawyer, was a neighbor to the man robbed? The lawyer’s only response was, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”

Mercy considers neither status, ethnicity, nor race – simply the need, and compels us to extend whatever aid and assistance we are able to give.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

 – Bill

 

The Apostle Peter: How to Bear Fruit

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your

  • faith with virtue,
  • and virtue with knowledge,
  • and knowledge with self-control,
  • and self-control with steadfastness,
  • and steadfastness with godliness,
  • and godliness with brotherly affection,
  • and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

– 2 Peter 1.1-8

 

Spiritual Pictures

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God  (1 Corinthians 2.11).

There’s a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems almost impossible. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.

The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused.

Think of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, or the tree of life. Each one reveals a facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.

Some words in the New Testament are pictures themselves – atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation. Each word draws on examples from the Bible or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1.18).

To reveal Himself to us God entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like” – Immanuel, God with us!

 

“…my soul thirsts for Thee…” (Psalm 63.1)

Absalom was the third son of King David. Here is how the Bible describes him: “Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him” (2 Samuel 14.25).

He not only was handsome, he was the darling of his father. But he repaid his father’s favoritism by leading a rebellion against him. Absalom “stole” the hearts of the men of Israel, and David had to flee Jerusalem for his life into the wilderness of Judea beyond the Jordan.

It was during those agonizing days, at war with his own son, that he wrote of his longing for God. Psalm 63 opens with these words, “O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee, my soul thirsts for Thee; my flesh faints for Thee, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Regardless of how desperate his circumstances appeared to be, David took refuge in God’s abiding presence. “For Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy” (Psalm 63.7).

The psalm reminds us as well of God’s presence, of His promise to “be with us always” and of the risen Christ’s presence amid His saints. And so, as pilgrims in a parched land we seek and thirst and faint for Him to provide for us the refreshing relief of living water.

Grace to you all, and peace – Bill

 

The Savior

THOU GOD OF ALL GRACE,
Thou hast given me a Savior,
produce in me a faith to live by Him,
to make Him all my desire, all my hope, all my glory.

May I enter Him as my refuge,
build on Him as my foundation,
walk in Him as my way,
follow Him as my guide,
receive His instructions as my prophet,
rely on His intercession as my high priest,
obey Him as my king.

May I never be ashamed of Him or His words,
but joyfully bear His reproach,
never displease Him by unholy or imprudent conduct,
never count it a glory if I take it patiently when buffeted for a fault,
never make the multitude my model,
never delay when Thy word invites me to advance.

May Thy dear Son preserve me from this present evil world,
so that its smiles never allure,
nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile,
nor its errors delude me …
and whatsoever I do may it be done in the Savior’s name.

The Valley of Vision
A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

 

Oneness

So I, the prisoner in the Lord Jesus, beg you to live as though you were worthy of God’s invitation…

Be completely humble, gentle, and patient…

Put up with one another in love…

          Try hard to keep the Spirit’s unity…

Use peace to tie it together.

There is one body and one Spirit…

You were called to one hope, when God called you…

There is one Lord Jesus…

There is one faith…

There is one immersion…

There is one God.

He is the Father of everyone. God is above everything, through everything, and in everything.

– Paul
Ephesians 4.1-6
The Great Book

 

Grace and the Gospel

Grace

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2.11-14).

Grace and the Gospel

♦ We stand in grace –

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5.1-2).

♦ We stand in the gospel –

 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand  (1 Corinthians 15.1).

♦ We are saved by grace –

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2.8).

♦ We are saved by the gospel –

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15.1-2).

 

The Business of Holy Living

All Christians, in some way or another, are about the business of holy living, whether we have acquired a suitable vocabulary for it or not. But it is difficult to know exactly what it consists of. We hardly know what to look for anymore.

For the last hundred years and more, those who have set themselves up as our authorities in how to live have been taking us on thrilling roller-coaster prospects of either social utopianism or psychological fulfillment – or both. And we are worse. The only things that have improved, if that is the word for it, are our capacities to move faster and spend more.

There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty … Cultivate inner beauty, the gently, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way. (1 Peter 3.1B, 4-5).

 – Eugene Peterson, Living the Message