You Do Your Part

A friend’s recent experience caused me to give some thought to those who are falsely accused.  Few things can be more hurtful and/or frustrating.  It’s just not fair!

Our purpose here is not to criticize or belittle those feelings of frustration and hurt.  On the contrary, knowing those feelings are real, we seek to encourage by refocusing our perspective.  We should learn to look at this, just like all other aspects of our lives, from God’s point of view.

The apostle Peter wrote:  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12).  The sad fact is that we cannot control what other people do.  We can, however, decide to do the right thing ourselves.  And did you catch the goal here?  Even in suffering through slander, we are to be concerned with the souls of others.

Do your part.  Do the right thing.  And know that God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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We Win!

When I was a student studying Revelation, I learned that the theme of the book is very simple and direct and easy to remember:  “We Win!!”  And now when I teach it, I make sure my students remember that theme.  One of the key phrases of all of Scripture is:  Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

So, how do we keep our focus on that kind of encouragement when everywhere we look, the enemy (Satan) seems to be winning?  We should remember that Christians in the early church survived (spiritually) just fine without copies of the Ten Commandments in their court houses, or statues of Jesus in the hills around Jerusalem.  Those are not the monuments to Christ that matter.  Faithful Christians are the important monuments.  And our enemy has no answer for those!

What do we do?  Now is the time to examine ourselves and make sure we are right with God (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Be diligent to draw closer to Him (Hebrews 4:14-16).  And know that He is still in control!  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Another Reminder

I wonder sometimes if there is not a danger of becoming repetitive.  After all, with over 300 notes from friend Barnabas, almost all of which contain the basic message that if you are suffering, there is Someone Who loves you and will not forget you, it’s possible that some might just skip it, thinking it’s just the “same ‘ole same ‘ole.”

Whenever I have those kinds of doubts about what I write, or anything else I’m doing that might be considered worthwhile, I remember that Scripture is full of “repetitive” teaching.  In fact, one of the subjects most oft repeated is the encouragement of the discouraged.  That makes me think that our Lord understood that we need constant reminders of His love because the sufferings of this life are not only constant, but they tend to make us forget about His love.

So, take this with you this morning:  The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You (Psalm 9:9, 10).

Have a wonderful day and know that God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Rescued From Darkness

Few things could be more encouraging to someone in need than the thought of being rescued from that need.  Whether we speak of someone who is in physical danger of some kind (i.e. lost, injured, threatened, etc.) or someone in emotional turmoil, rescue is high on the list of priorities.

When it comes to man’s standing before God, the need for rescue was (and is) evident.  And, thanks be to God, it came (Titus 2:11)!  Jesus came, lived a perfect life and died on the cross to shed the blood that washes away sins and those who submit to His will in faithful obedience were (and are) rescued from darkness.

In Colossians 1:13 the apostle Paul puts it this way:  For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…  Having been rescued from darkness, Christians are made a part of the eternal kingdom of God.  We have a place, a family, a Father Who gave everything for us.  I don’t know about you, but that is good news to me!  I hope you realize that God loves you, and that I do, too.

Donnie Bates

You Are With Me

Today’s word of encouragement comes from a comment made in a class I was teaching on Psalm 23.  The 23rd Psalm is one of the most familiar of the psalms, perhaps one of the most familiar passages in all of Scripture.  It certainly is a great passage of comfort and encouragement.

The comment I refer to has to do with what may be the crux of the entire point of the psalm.  Psalm 23:4 says:  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  The comment in class was that this phrase …You are with me… is what brings the whole psalm home.

It is so simple it may escape our notice.  That is the reason we don’t have to fear death; God is with us!  We do not have to worry about any of the other things mentioned in the psalm, e.g. physical needs, spiritual needs, protection from enemies, etc.  God is with us….if we are His sheep.

I want you to know, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

I Love You, O Lord

Very often in this column I write about times of suffering and try to offer encouragement to the discouraged.  As important and worthy a goal as that is, sometimes we may get the impression that God is there whenever we need Him, but until that happens, we’re doing fine on our own!  Today, I’d like to take a different approach.

In Psalm 18:1 we read:  “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”  Now granted, much of the rest of the psalm is about taking refuge in God; that’s the reason David uses the word “strength” here.  And He certainly is our Refuge in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  However, He is also our Source of strength when times are good.

It may be your situation this morning that all is right with the world.  You may have arisen from a good night’s sleep and feel on top of the world.  The psalmist’s words here are as appropriate for you as they are for the one who is on the verge of being overcome by troubles.

So, whatever your situation, stand tall (on your knees) and lift your voice with the psalmist’s.  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Preserved Forever

Sometimes watching the news makes my head hurt!  Did you ever feel that way?  It really does seem appropriate to cry:  Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men (Psalm 12:1).

There is a reason we find passages like this psalm in Scripture.  The psalmist is actually encouraging us to do the same thing:  call on the One Who can really help us!  Yes, it seems like the faithful disappear from the earth, but our God is still in control.  None of us know what the future holds on this side of eternity, but we can know the One Who does.

Those who are God’s people and are afflicted are promised safety (Psalm 12:5), and David promises that the words of the Lord, the words of promised safety, are as pure as silver refined seven times (Psalm 12:6).  And then, in verse 7, he promises that the Lord really is in control when he promises that “this generation” (i.e. those faithful, afflicted by the injustice of this life) will be preserved forever!

Okay, then!  No more worries, right?  Not if we remain on His side!  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates