Grace to Those Who Hear

The apostle Paul said, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).  In this verse, the “grace” given is the edification (building up).  In other words, we are commanded to use our speech to build up rather than tear down; to encourage rather than discourage.

Very simply, there is no greater word of encouragement than to tell you that God loves you so  much that He gave His Son to die for you so that you might have the opportunity to be saved (John 3:16).  To know that we are loved is perhaps the greatest source of strength and encouragement that there is, and I want you to know that you are, indeed, loved.  Now what?

God has given you and me a great gift…the greatest gift.  What will we do with it?  If He loved us that much, will we love Him in return (John 14:15)?  I hope you will!  Yes, He does love you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

The Broken Hearted and the Heart Breaker

I heard a great statement today in a lesson by Tim Lewis.  Tim noted that God’s grace is available not only to the broken hearted, but to the ones who broke those hearts. 

That affected me very deeply.  We try very hard here to encourage the discouraged; to heal or soothe broken hearts.  One of the most encouraging things found in Scripture is that God’s grace brings salvation to “all men” (Titus 2:11), which must include those who so often cause the pain we try to address in this column.

I do not mean to excuse insensitivity or malicious attitudes, but it encourages me to know in those times when I am the one who causes the pain, with the penitent heart, God will extend to me the same love and care and comfort that He gives to those I have hurt through my insensitivity.  All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) which means all of us have hurt Someone, namely the One Who gave His Son to die for us. We need His grace.  We have it because He loves us; He loves you and so do I.

Donnie  Bates

For Edification

In 1 Corinthians 14:26 we find a phrase that is of paramount importance:  “Let all things be done for edification.”  Now, Paul was addressing abuses in the worship service, but this phrase is one that is applied elsewhere in Scripture to other situations.  I would like us to consider it in light of our efforts to encourage the discouraged, the fainthearted.

In Ephesians 4:29 Paul said to make sure our speech is good for edification.  Contextually, in that verse “unwholesome” speech would be speech that tears down rather than builds up.  We need to be using our speech, our actions, our very beings to encourage or edify others.  To the Thessalonians Paul said to, along with admonishing the unruly and being patient with everyone, that they were to “encourage the fainthearted” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Let me encourage you to be an encouragement to someone today.  I promise you will be encouraged if you do.  One of God’s greatest gifts to us that ingenious design of being uplifted by uplifting others.  I hope you understand that God loves you and that I do, too.

Donnie Bates

They Were Not Strong Enough

In Revelation 12 a war in heaven takes place between Michael and his angels and the dragon (Satan) and his angels.  Verse 8 says that the devil and his angels were not strong enough to win that war.  What a word of encouragement that is!

I do not want to mislead anyone into thinking that after such a defeat the devil, our real enemy, is left powerless and is of no concern.  He still walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Scripture makes it clear that he continues to be a threat.  However, Scripture also says that he cannot overcome us if we will resist him (James 4:7).  What that means is this:  he is still not strong enough!

When your life seems to overwhelm you and you think that old serpent of old is about to win, take comfort in the knowledge that God has bound him by giving you the strength to resist and overcome.  And resisting the devil amounts to faithfully submitting to God’s will for your life.  Love God (John 14:15) because He loves you; and so do I.

Donnie Bates

God Meant It for Good

Don’t you hate it when things go wrong in your life?  I mean, like when people misunderstand you and resent you for telling the truth?  Or when you’re punished for something you didn’t do?  And then, when you try to help someone they don’t even appreciate what you did for them!  That is so unfair!!  The thought of getting even becomes a fantasy you hold onto tightly, doesn’t it?

Consider Joseph.  He told his family about his dreams and was hated for it.  His brothers sold him to slave traders.  His master’s wife made advances on him and he responded with integrity, and was sent to prison for his trouble.  He interpreted a dream and only asked to be remembered to Pharaoh…and was forgotten for two more years.  Well, it worked out and Joseph was made the second most powerful man in Egypt.  And now, his brothers find themselves in his court.

What would you do?  His brothers were terrified of what he might do.  He let them off the hook with these words“…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20).  Wow!  That encourages me!  When we suffer in this life, God may have a bigger plan than we understand right now.  Never forget that He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Confident Access

We have spoken before about the feeling that so many have that God is no longer available, or that they have committed sins so bad that God could no longer love them.  That may sound like a truly irrational thought, but I know that it is real.

Scripture gives us cause to be encouraged, however.  In Ephesians 3:12 we find that through Jesus we have “boldness and confident access through faith” to the Father; or, better said, to His grace.  That means that because of Jesus, we do not ever have to feel that we no longer have access to God.  All that is required is our faithfully obedient response to His offered grace (Ephesians 2:8).  That is why the “good news” is good news.

God is near and you can have access to one, the Only One, Who can help you when you need it the most.  You will never have a problem too big for Him to help you overcome.  Because of God’s grace (Jesus’ sacrifice) your obedient faith gives you confident access to Him.  Pretty cool to know that God loves you that much, isn’t it?  Well, I love you, too.

Donnie Bates

To Know the Love of Christ

I love the way the apostle Paul prayed.  His prayers for his brethren were so much deeper than just, “I’ll be saying a prayer for you, bro!”  In Ephesians 3:14-19 we have an example of such a prayer.  It is quite detailed.

One of those details is that he prayed his readers would know the love of Christ which “surpasses knowledge.”  That’s like saying, “I pray that you will know the unknowable.”  Is that some kind of Biblical code?  Or does it merely reflect the depth of Paul’s prayer?  The phrase that follows seems to explain what Paul meant.  “…that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”  Just because we may never reach that level of knowledge in this life is no reason to give up trying.

So, what does that mean to the discouraged?  If I may borrow from the apostle, I bow my knees on your behalf, that though the struggles you face threaten to overwhelm you, you will never give up, but will, to your last breath, in faithful obedience, put your trust in God.  He loves you, you know; and so do I.

Donnie Bates