What’s the longest time period you have ever allowed yourself to remain discouraged? Some people are naturally upbeat, positive thinkers, glass-half-full types of folks. Others have to work hard at maintaining a grasp on the positive, affirming and hopeful. I was talking with a man some time back and noted that he had a negative slant on just about everything so I provoked him a little and asked, “Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type of person?” He replied in soggy defeatism, “Neither. Shattered glass can’t hold nothin’.” How do we fight against becoming that person?
“Let us but feel that He has His heart set upon us, that He is watching us from those heavens with tender interest, that He is following us day by day as a mother follows her babe in his first attempt to walk alone, that He has set His love upon us, and in spite of ourselves is working out for us His higher will and blessing, as far as we will let Him – and then nothing can discourage us.” – A.B. Simpson
Spending the last two nights in prayer with about 125-150 of my friends and family at Meadow has really helped lift our spirits. Don’t get me wrong, we are down in the trenches in these prayer meetings fighting against all that is contrary to the Kingdom while approaching God in sobered confession and repentance as a community of believers. This week of prayer at Meadow was not designed to be soft and cushioned but, rather, purposeful, pinpointed and productive. In spite of the intensity of our goals I will gladly confess that I’m leaving each night and waking each morning-after extremely encouraged. Listening to the prayers of people that I rarely get to spend quality time with has reminded me of our oneness in Christ and God’s mighty grace to His own children. This week I’ve been in groups that have included a Nigerian pastor, a former addict and criminal, a successful businessman longing for his own heart to be holy, a divorced woman whose former spouse abused her physically and mentally, a single woman in her thirties trying to find her place in the Kingdom, a committed Calvinist in his 70’s with a sharp mind and gentle heart , and a young man still finding his way doctrinally and looking to begin seminary. With all this diversity one might think that the prayer times must have been awkward at best and chaotic at worst. Far from it. We’ve wept, rejoiced, thundered and sat silently as God ministered to us and through us. In the end we have embraced, said our goodnight’s and gotten into our cars to go home…very, very encouraged.
My aim for today is to not squelch what God might be doing in another’s life. Help me, Lord, to be a consummate listener. Empower those who read today to take the baton of encouragement and pass it to another who is running this race. May we learn to stop asking a defeated “But, how?” and begin to declare “Why not!?” Let each of us who name the name of Jesus Christ expect great things from God, from ourselves and from others. It is not that God is not lighting fires these days in hearts, it is that we know more easily how to douse the flames instead of fanning them. It takes a big-heart to refuse to be controlled by the potential of what is negative. It takes a bigger-heart to commit to not be used of the enemy to resist big-heartedness in others around us. The ministry of encouragement is biblical, fruitful, powerful and NEEDFUL. Sometimes today’s encouragement is what will make the difference for years to come in the life of another. Consider that it might very well be the somebody that God will place in your presence today. Maybe your words of hope, edification, love, forgiveness, affirmation or exhortation are going to be the difference-maker in their lives. You might very well be used of God to help liberate someone from the lingering clouds of gloom. Lord, let us be thoughtful when communicating with others – let us truly think about what we say and the impact our words will contain. My bible reminds me today, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) Water that person next to you today…it’s their Springtime and He’s made them to bloom.
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