encourage

Exchanging Our Strength

eagle.jpg

I have found over the years, that so many people have been comforted by the words of Isaiah 40. There we are told that, "young men stumble and fall" and that even "the vigorous young men grow weary and stumble." BUT – "those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, mounting up with wings like eagles, to run and not grow weary!" That is glorious, but it is even more glorious than it sounds. Let’s dig deep into some of the individual words and watch this glory be magnified.

"Young men stumble and fall," that is true for all of us. I take this to be a reference to the average guy. We live in a tough world and for most of us, our strength is very often, not up to the demands of life. There are, however, living among us, the elite ones; the strong and the mighty who seemingly have the fortitude of personal resources that enables them to conquer this world we live in. Uh-oh, this text tells us that they too grow weary and stumble.

This world can stand ominously against us with the demands that it places on our lives, and when even the strong and mighty are not up to the task, we could easily find ourselves overwhelmed and frustrated. Fortunately, we find one of the great words of the Bible intervening in our desperate situation… "BUT!"

"But those who wait upon the Lord." Now, if we take an honest look at that phrase, it is really not all that encouraging. We are stumbling and falling, so we need to “WAIT”… WHAT?! For how long must we wait? When will the Lord show up? Will He show up? It is an encouraging phrase, but not encouraging enough! Wonderfully, that word does not mean “wait” at all. It really means “to braid.” Think of a girl braiding her hair, intertwining, placing individual hairs into “one” – DO YOU SEE THE GLORY? It is not calling us to "wait" for God to show up, but in the moment to recognize our “oneness” with Him. It is really the Old Testament word for abiding. So as we are growing weary, and as we are stumbling, as we are in great need, in that very moment we can recognize our “oneness” with God, and “renew” our strength.

That is so awesome, but it gets even better!

The Hebrew word for “renew,” can actually be translated “exchange”. So, as we recognize our “oneness” with God, we can go way beyond having our strength "renewed," we can "exchange" our strength, for the strength of God. That is the reason we will be able to mount up with wings like eagles and run and not go weary because through faith we can experience the very life of God being lived out and expressed through our lives.

My prayer is that if these verses comforted you before, they will now comfort you more than ever as you realize how much God wants to offer Himself to you, and for you, as you walk in faith with Him in this dark and desperate world.

----------------------------
Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
Interested in joining? Signing up is easy:
Get on the list here.

The Balance of Love

photo-1476611338391-6f395a0ebc7b.jpg

The great American entrepreneur John D. Rockefeller stated, “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” The most powerful leadership tool available is the ability to get along with other people; to be able to relate to people and not only to understand people but encourage them. The apostle Paul certainly fit this bill.

In the second chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul states that he cared for them like a nursing mother gently cares for her own children. There is nothing so dear as the love of a nursing mother. Paul also went on though, to declare that he was like a father to the Thessalonians. In that context, he affirmed that in the role of a father he exhorted the Thessalonians; simply put, he spoke the hard words, the strong words that we all need to hear sometimes.

I love that he chose the word "parakaleo," which literally means to "come alongside." What a great lesson for us to learn! When we have to speak those hard words to the ones we love, those words are best spoken not with a finger in another’s face, but instead with an arm around them, communicating our love and acceptance of them, even if we do not necessarily accept their behavior.

Further, Paul instantly added that he encouraged them. It is not enough to just exhort others. If all we do is exhort people, we will soon have very few friends because they will run when they see us coming. Paul, however, balanced his hard words with loving words; words of encouragement. It is the same word used when Jesus comforted the family of Lazarus. It is the word "hekostan," and it means the "tender, compassionate, restorative empathy given to one who is struggling, burdened, or heartbroken."

Paul knew that in a very harsh world it's easy for someone when they hear a negative word, to become discouraged. He was quick to add words of encouragement, quick to play the role of a cheerleader and stress that he believed in them and anticipated that the best would be expressed by and through them.

Paul is a great example for us in terms of dealing with people. May we love others enough to say the strong words, but care enough for them to speak the encouraging words as well.

----------------------------
Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
Interested in joining? Signing up is easy:
Get on the list here.