Archive for the ‘The Encouraging Word’ Category


“Make everything according to the pattern I have shown you.”                       Ex 25:40 NLT

The second element that marked the building of the Old Testament tabernacle was excellence. God condemns perfectionism because it stifles our creativity and robs us of all sense of progress. And Jesus condemned those who gave to impress others. “When you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward” (Mt 6:2 NKJV). But if you think this means you can just offer God anything you feel like, you’re sorely mistaken. When it comes to serving, God wants you to aspire to excellence. God said to Moses: “And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze…And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Ex 25:3-9 NKJV). Why did God ask for gold? Because He won’t accept anything sloppy or second-rate. Guess where Jesus sat when He went to church? Beside the treasury, watching people give. Luke records: “Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has’” (Lk 21:2-4 NLT). So, give God your best!

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/thoughts-on-the-tabernacle-2/

Advertisements

“Bring Me an offering.”                                                         Ex 25:2 NKJV

When it came time to build the Old Testament tabernacle, God said to Moses, “Do all things according to the pattern which I showed you” (See Ex 25:40). Whether you’re building a relationship, a career, a business or a ministry, it will always require several elements: Sacrifice. The building of the tabernacle begins with these words: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” Question: why would a God who is rich enough to pave His streets with gold, ask you for an offering? Because only when you have a personal investment in something, will you give it your full attention, treasure it, prioritize it and protect it.

Pastor, ask the Lord for the plan, then ask the people for the money, not vice versa. Teach your people to live by this principle: “Give till it hurts, give till it stops hurting, give till it feels good.” Paul wrote about the generosity of the Christians in Macedonia: “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing…They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do” (2Co 8:2-5 NLT). So, are you willing to sacrifice?

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/thoughts-on-the-tabernacle-1/


“I just let Christ take over!”                                                   2Co 12:10 TM

Speaking of his “thorn,” Paul writes: “I was given the gift of a handicap…At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it…he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift…Now I take my limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become” (vv.7-10 TM). Paul learned how to turn his weakness into a weapon by allowing it to drive him closer to God. And that’s a lesson you must learn too. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Christ’s first beatitude: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (Mt 5:3 TM). Now, you can’t just accept your character flaws and areas of defeat and say, “Well, I guess that’s just the way I am.” No, you must confront each area of weakness, confess it, and “let Christ take over.” You will always struggle with one thing or another. Paul recognized this: “We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us” (2Co 4:7 TM). Like common pottery, fragile, flawed and easily broken, God will use you as you surrender and allow Him to work through you.

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/turn-your-weakness-into-a-weapon/


“Search me, O God, and know my heart.”                                     Ps 139:23

When you live an unexamined life—it shows! Author Gordon MacDonald writes: “I was reading authors who were saying that if Christ’s followers don’t grow, it’s because they don’t make a habit of evaluating their lives. These authors were describing me. I was always on the go, never looking deeply inside. I never did the kind of reflection that leads to growth, and I was paying the price—committing the same stupid sins over and over, living with the same heavy load of guilt. So I made a difficult decision: I decided that each day I would try to honestly assess my soul’s condition. I would look inside myself and write down what I saw. Feeling awkward and embarrassed, I started to write. ‘God, here are some areas of failure in my life. They aren’t going away, so I might as well take a look at them.’ Or, ‘Here’s a relationship or habit I’m concerned about. It’s not good and I don’t know how to improve it.’ After writing a paragraph or two I would reflect on what I had written.” There are benefits to keeping a spiritual diary of your walk with God that you can’t get any other way: (1) It forces you to slow down and examine the effectiveness of what you’re doing. (2) It frees you to ask, “Why am I doing this? How do I really feel about it? What is God saying to me?” (3) By writing even a page a day, in one year you will have a 365-day record of prayers answered and lessons learned!

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/dont-live-an-unexamined-life/


“I can make it through anything.”                                             Php 4:12 TM

Flexible boundaries. Rigid boundaries cause you to shut other people out and live unprepared and ill equipped for the give-and-take that healthy relationships require. Permeable boundaries leave you defenseless against “users” who feel entitled to manipulate you and who expect to be taken care of at your expense. But flexible boundary people are competent for living their own life, yet with a balanced and healthy interest in others. They can be generous in sharing their time, compassion and resources, without becoming overly responsible, or betraying their God-given duty to be the unique person He made them, just to please others. They say, “I can be in relationship with you, without giving up being me!” They don’t let you violate their boundaries, and they know how to keep from violating yours. Unlike rigid people, they bend and adjust as circumstances require, without becoming overwhelmed, defensive, resentful, blaming or reactive. In tough situations they roll with the punches, stay focused, and draw on a well of inner strength which God provides. Paul was such a person: “I’ve learned…to be…content whatever my circumstances…I can make it through (adjust to) anything in the One who makes me who I am” (vv.12-13 TM). People and circumstances don’t control them; they flex, and let God take charge. They are helpful, but they don’t feel guilty because they can’t “fix” everybody. Their boundaries enable them to adjust to circumstances. They practice the principle, “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2), without over-functioning or being responsible for others.

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/set-boundaries-4/


“Like a city with broken-down walls.”                                     Pr 25:28 NLT

Permeable boundaries. Well-adjusted people find the right balance between protecting their personal space, and allowing others to infiltrate, manipulate and dominate them. They know how to say yes to what’s healthy and no to what’s not. Permeable boundary people, on the other hand, allow others to permeate their lives at will, siphon off their time and energy, dictate their options, and deprive them of other important relationships. Unable to say no, they permit others to make them feel guilty, obligated, uncaring, or even “unchristian” if they withhold what’s demanded. They inconvenience themselves, their families and their friendships to facilitate the endless demands of the seemingly helpless, disempowered, irresponsible user, believing they are being kind and helpful. The “helper’s” toll is immense, often leading to emotional, physical, social and spiritual overload, while the “helpee” feels increasingly dependent, irresponsible and entitled, not appreciating, and sometimes even resenting the helper’s efforts. Permeable boundary people are unaware that their “open” sign is always illuminated, attracting a deluge of other people’s needs they feel personally responsible for. They carry the weight of much that’s wrong in the world, feeling exhausted, anxious, inadequate and guilty, taking it personally that they can’t do more and fix things. And it leaves them feeling “used.” “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Understand this: You can’t take charge of your own life while you’re overwhelmed feeling responsible for other people’s lives. Set some boundaries, and live the life God gave you to live!

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/set-boundaries-3/


“Its parts should have equal concern for each other.”              1Co 12:25 NIV

When you buy a house, you need clearly marked boundary lines to let you know what’s yours and what’s not. Good boundaries make good neighbors. The Bible says, “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—too much of you, and they will hate you” (Pr 25:17 NIV). So, how close is too close? Let’s look at three kinds of boundaries we establish between ourselves and others. Rigid boundaries. These are designed to keep others at arms’ length and protect your private, self-absorbed world. Without saying a word, your attitude says: “Keep out, trespassers will be prosecuted!” Why do we create such boundaries? Fear! We fear being known, controlled, hurt, or feeling inadequate and inferior. And our rigidity prevents intimacy. Our unwillingness to be vulnerable or to compromise leaves us defensive, isolated and lonely. Closeness and intimacy are things we long for, yet fear and avoid. We think, “You can’t hurt me if I keep you at a safe distance.” But it doesn’t work. God designed us to share life’s victories and defeats, not to live in isolation. We are to “have equal concern for each other. If one part [person] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1Co 12:25-26 NIV). Rigid boundaries rob you of life-enriching relationships. “So what’s the answer?” you ask. Reach out! You were created to give to others, and to receive what they have to give back to you. In giving you are fulfilled, and in receiving you are made complete. Anything less is just existing.

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/set-boundaries-2/