My scripture motto for 2018 is Hebrews 10:24, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
Originally, this verse to me was simple, do good things for people. Just make sure that out of love you do good things for people so they will be encouraged to carry it on. And while that is true, there’s more.
See, encouraging those around me will require getting to know people a little better. And it will certainly require listening more. Because to encourage an individual is to know what it takes for them to be encouraged and following through with it.
While kinds words may encourage me, a pat on the back is what someone else may need. The verse says think of ways, meaning what works for you might not works for others, so don’t assume it does.
So, want you join me in intentionally encouraging others to love and good deeds, not only by encouraging them the way you like to, but the way they need you to?
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
God doesn’t give you a new heart in order for you to have the same old desires or flawed ways. He gives you a new heart with new and right desires.
Think of the Grinch. His heart was two sizes too small. But once He saw the true meaning of Christmas—the love and care—his heart grew three sizes. His heart didn’t grow three sizes in order for him to still want to steal Christmas and hate the Whoos. Love caused it to grow and him to change.
Much like the Grinch, when God replaces our fleshly stony hearts of sin, He removes and replaces it with a new obedient heart to Him. Do we still make mistakes? Certainly. But we are no longer supposed to be OK with those mistakes. And what makes this change so possible? God’s Love.
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
As I read Hebrews 11, the most famous chapter on faith in the Bible, it reads differently to me. Obviously, the words are the same as they have always been, but I read it and can’t help but feel challenged.
As I read the miraculous events that took place because people had faith in God that He could do what He said, I am challenged.
It doesn’t take much faith to stay at a job you don’t love because you have faith you’ll get paid. It’s not much of a leap to write a blog, but never submit your book because you think it’s safer. I mean really, it doesn’t take much to do what I already do. But it would take faith to leave it behind in pursuit of God-given dreams.
If there were a Hall of Faith written today, what would my story say? Would my faith walk make the cut? These questions plague me, but it’s their answers that haunt me. Because right now, I can say I probably wouldn’t make the cut, and that’s just not only not good enough, but it’s unfortunate as well.
By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
Isaiah 43:18-19 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
Before this verse, the Bible gives a recap of the Israelites deliverance from Egypt. After all, their deliverance from captivity was nothing short of amazing. He split the Red Sea and they walked across on dry land!
But verse 18 says forget all that. Wait, what? Forget one of the most miraculous stories ever told, seriously? Well, don’t forget it, but think about this. A brand-new thing so amazing is going to be done that you might actually forget about the deliverance from Egypt by comparison.
Honestly, I think that God is always on the brink of something new. The greatest thing is salvation, but after being saved, I think we always have to be prepared for a new thing. It’s not like the Israelites had never been delivered before, or like they had never received promises. God was saying, “Hey, there’s a new deliverance coming and a brand-new promise on the way. Get ready.”
So, what’s God’s brand-new thing for you? Is there deliverance from something? Is there a new promise He has for you? Has He already begun and you do not see it? It’s possible to miss it. Just ask the Israelites.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I constantly need new strength. The days get long. The people get difficult. And I grow weary of it all as I push forward.
Yet, this scripture tells us to wait on the LORD. But I have to rush to work here and get home to do this and be in bed by this time to do it all over again! I don’t have time to wait!
If you’re like me, that’s how you feel. You feel a little overwhelmed. You feel tired. You feel weary. And the cure for that is found in this scripture. Wait on the LORD. You want to run? Wait on the LORD. You want to walk? Wait on the LORD. You don’t want to grow faint? Wait on the LORD.
The cure for weariness is waiting on the LORD, spending time in His Word and listening to Him. Have you had your dose lately?
2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
The beauty in becoming a true Christian is the change that comes with it. God, in His love, actually changes us when we become Christians. As His Holy Spirit dwells within us, we have the luxury of not only seeing our lives and purpose in a different way, but pretty much everything around us. We become a new person. What do I mean? Well, let’s look.
- Our thoughts change when we become Christians. Ephesians 4:23, Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. As a Christian, I don’t entertain the thoughts I used to. I recognize their wrongness and have to make the decision to refuse to dwell on such things.
- My life is no longer about me being the center of attention. My decisions are no longer about how only I am affected by them, but how others are. Philippians 4: 3, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
- Desires change as we become new people. The things of earthly value begin to diminish in appeal as you grow in your relationship with God. And obtaining the newest thing or things in general just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. 1 John 2:17, And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
- Your purpose in life takes a turn. You begin to realize how much you matter and how much serving your purpose matters for God’s Kingdom. 1 Timothy 6:12, Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.
- Lastly, your view of sin changes. You practically ache from the reality of the distance that sin has placed between you and God. You can’t help but thank God for the opportunity to repent for the sins committed. Ezekiel 36:31, Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did.
And while there is much more that takes place as we become new persons, these are just a few of the things that have taken place in my life. Won’t you accept Christ today to experience all this and then some?
Today is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.
Great really is Thy faithfulness. It’s not just a really good song. It’s not just a really good idea. It’s not just a really good verse. It’s really true.
I can think of more situations than I care to admit to of my unfaithfulness, yet even more I can still think of examples of God’s faithfulness towards me. Of course, the Bible gives us examples of His faithfulness throughout the entire book, but there’s nothing liker personally knowing His faithfulness to you.
How many times did He forgive the Israelites? How many times do we put a palm to our heads in disbelief of their wayward faith or lack thereof?
And yet, if I need an example of God’s faithfulness, I need look no further than the pages in my own life story. God is so faithful. He’s faithful even when I’m not. In fact, He’s especially faithful when I’m not, because it would have to be indescribable love (and patience) that could make that possible.
There’s a reason God’s mercies are new every day. Because every day, I need His mercy. While I am growing and maturing, every day, I seem to manage to cook myself up into such a mess, that I need a new batch of mercy. And I am so grateful that He is so faithful to give it, every day.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.