Be Encouraged

Read the last verse first and then the passage

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NASB  (50)  Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,  (52)  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  (53)  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  (54)  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.  (55)  “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O  DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;  (57)  but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (58)  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

 

Life can be very difficult most of the time. Some may be dealing with spiritual battles, death, financial losses, failing health, destroyed relationships, etc. I can remember back when I was in Little League playing baseball that I received a lesson. I was told that in order to play the game of baseball and to do it well then you must keep your eye on the ball. This baseball lesson has application to our spiritual life as well because we must keep our eyes on the ball or the reason that we are here. We are here for two main reasons. First, we are to glorify the Lord. Secondly, we are to be a servant unto our Lord and work. We must understand that our toil for the Lord is not in vain. We not only see the blessings of God in our life presently but also hold onto the blessings that will appear when we see our Lord. If we are His then we will work in order that others may hear and know that Jesus is the Savior of the world. When it is all over then we will know that it has been worth it all. Paul encourages us greatly in 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 NASB  (15)  “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. (16)  Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  (17)  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,  (18)  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” I heard that life is like making a cake. If you were to eat each individual ingredient separately then it would not be that pleasant. Think about eating plain flour, vanilla, or a raw egg? However, when all are placed together then you have a sweet dessert. We may have difficulties in life; however, keep your eyes on Jesus because the Lord is working all things for good. Stay encouraged my friend. It will be worth it all when we see our Savior face to face.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

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Exalt His Name

Psalms 34:1-8 NASB I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  (2)  My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice.  (3)  O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.  (4)  I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.  (5)  They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.  (6)  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles.  (7)  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.  (8)  O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

 

Do you have a song in your heart? Do you catch yourself giving God the glory throughout the day? Do you have people around you that look at you funny because they are wondering if you have fallen off your rocker because you are worshipping? David gives us a challenge in how we ought to live out our daily lives. David states that he will bless or praise the Lord at all times. Why would David want to praise the Lord throughout the day and not just on the Sabbath at the Temple? David’s life had been so impacted by the hand of God that he could not help but praise the Lord throughout the day. I wonder what kind of things touched David’s life to make him act in such a manner. First, David prayed and God heard him (v3), which is pretty awesome; however, not only did He hear him but delivered him from all of his fears and troubles (v6). David understood that God literally camped about his life and David took refuge in the love and power of God. How blessed is your life? Think for a brief moment about the blessings of God in your life, your family, employment, nation, etc. and etc. If you know Jesus as you Savior then you are blessed beyond compare! If you know God personally and he brings about blessings into your life then you ought to bless the Lord continually. I think that the people that surround you or come into contact throughout your day need to hear you blessing the name of the Lord. Who cares if someone hears you. Who cares is someone looks at you funny. Maybe…just maybe it will encourage them to praise the name of the Lord for His bountiful blessings. Bless the Lord! Will you exalt His name together with me?

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

A mighty defense

Proverbs 21:23 NASB He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.

This verse creates a great dilemma for us today. It is telling us that we would guard our lives from trouble if we would guard what we say. James gives us some challenging words in James 1:26 NASB “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” However, this is a tall task. James continues this discussion in James 3:5-6 NASB “5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! (6) And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” I think that one of the most difficult things to do in all of the world is not saying something that you want to is a time of anger or frustration. The words that we use are a major part of our day so how are we to use the words that proceed from our lips? Solomon addresses this in Proverbs 10:20-21 NASB “The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, The heart of the wicked is worth little. (21) The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.” Paul gives us some practical wisdom in Ephesians 4:29 NASB “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.” I guess that it boils down to that if our words are not edifying, uplifting, or bringing people closer to Jesus then it does not need to be proclaimed. It does seem that our words ought to flow out of a heart full of the love of God and my disposition should be a godly love. I wonder how many troubling situations that I would have saved myself from if I would have guarded my mouth and tongue. God’s Word proclaims to us today that we need to watch what we speak and make sure that we are glorifying the Lord and edifying our neighbor in all that we say.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

The missing element

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 & 13 NASB  (1)  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (2)  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  (3)  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (4)  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  (5)  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  (6)  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;  (7)  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (8)  Love never fails. (13)  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

The 2016 Olympics illustrated, for a moment, one’s love for their fellow man. The New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin was hurt on the track after she and the American runner, Abbey D’Agostino, fell to the ground. D’Agostino got up to start running again but noticed her fellow runner was still on the ground. Instead of thinking selfishly about her own glory of finishing, she came back to Hamblin, touched her shoulder, and encouraged her to get up and finish the race. They both were hurt. They both struggled to finish; however, they finished the race and embraced to illustrate their triumph together. Love is the foundational element of all of the world. Love places one’s own self to the side as we attempt to minister into the life of another. We can accomplish great things in life; however, without love, they are nothing more than a clanging cymbal, which makes noise but accomplishes nothing. Love is a powerful tool that can move every obstacle that is in our way. If humanity lived a life that was full of the love of God then most if not all of our problems would melt away. I know that this sounds a little like the hippies of the 60’s but think about it for a moment. If a marriage lived in v4-8 then each would seek for the prosperity of the spouse and the relationship. If people truly lived in v4-8 then we would treat ALL people properly no matter of the color of their skin, level of social standing, origin of their nationality, or financial footing in society. I wonder how the world would react if all true followers of Jesus would begin to live in v4-8? Oh can’t you see how it would change our marriages and earthly relationships. Maybe…just maybe, the world would begin to see Jesus through our lives and come to know Jesus as their Savior as well. Love is a powerful tool. Now we must go and live 1 Corinthians 13 in every aspect of our life. It would behoove us to read this passage every single morning before we see, talk, or interact with anyone. Dear God, we need you to make this passage real to us today. Please help us to walk in Your love and illustrate it to those who we come into contact.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

A divine call

Esther 4:15-16 NASB  Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai,  (16)  “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

 

Esther is in a very precarious situation. Haman has developed a plan to eradicate the Jews and this spells trouble for Esther because she is a Jew. However, she is in a situation that causes her some difficulties because she is the queen. She thinks for a moment that she can hide behind the palace walls for safety. However, Mordecai (her uncle) has informed her that not only will she be ultimately found out but if she does nothing then God will raise up someone else to do the job. Esther has a dilemma…Stay silent, which will probably end with her demise as a fellow Jew or she could to go to the king for help. This is the problem because she has not been invited to the king. If she were to just show up at the throne then she could be killed (Law of the day). She decides that her position calls for her utter abandonment of her life and fulfill the plan of God for her life. I wonder if we hold our life, lifestyle, and the pleasures that surround us as more precious than fulfilling God’s plan for our life. Is life so sweet that we would rather live our life under the shackles of humanistic thinking and earthly pleasures and ignore the call of God upon our life? I wonder if we knowingly or unknowingly choose the pleasures of this world rather than standing for Jesus. I know not what path you may take but as for me and my life, I must complete God’s plan at all cost! If I suffer then I suffer. If I am persecuted, harassed, mistreated, or abandoned by man then so be it because I will stand for Jesus. If I perish then I perish. I think that this is what Paul meant in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Paul understood who was the Truth and the Life so nothing earthly was worth more than living for Jesus. I agree with Esther…If I perish, I perish…Jesus glorify Your wonderful name through my life.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

A divine placement

Esther 4:13-14 NASB  Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews.  (14)  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

 

Why am I here? Why do the things within my life work out the way that they do? Why? Why? Why? We can run our minds ragged trying to figure it all out. The book of Esther is an amazing book. It is a book of the Bible where the name of God is never mentioned. It may be that His name is never mentioned; however, His providential working hand can be seen. I have heard it stated in this manner, “You may not see the name of God but you definitely see his fingerprints all over the story.” There may be a plethora of questions about our life, its direction, and the frustrations along the way. However, we must not overlook the providential hand of God working in our life. God placed Esther in the right place at the right time. I do believe that God has a plan for our life such as glorifying His wonderful name, living our lives dedicated unto Him, and touching lives along the way. If you are living your life for Jesus then the job you have, where you live, your circle of friends, nor places you visit are not by accident. God desires to use you right where you are to glorify His name and lead people to Him. If you feel as if a door has closed and you are waiting for a door to open then praise Him and work where God has placed you while you wait for an open door in the hallway. God has placed you where you are “for such a time as this!” It may not be best to ask “why and I here” because it might be best to ask “Here I am Lord, use me. What would you desire for me to do?” Dear Lord, each of us are in our distinct places. We may not have all of the answers; however, open up doors of ministry where we are to use us in order to touch the lives around us, for Your glory.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

Examples

1 Corinthians 10:6-11 NASB  (6)  Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.  (7)  Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”  (8)  Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.  (9)  Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  (10) Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  (11)  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

 

My son loves baseball just as much as I do. He has an internal desire to get better and better with a dream of playing in the major leagues one day (Of course we can all dream). However, it takes a lot of dedication and practice to improve to that level. One way of getting better is to study the individuals who have already made it. We look at videos of the great hitters like Ken Griffey Jr., Ted Williams, or Tony Gwynn. We look at videos of great pitchers like Roger Clemens or Greg Maddux. We look at what works and what doesn’t so that Nate can learn what he needs to do in order to get better. God’s Word illustrates life in such a manner that it instructs us in the ways of life. The Bible not only illustrates the positives like Moses at the burning bush, David defeating Goliath, or King Jehoshaphat defeating the enemy but it also illustrates the negatives as Saul disobeyed God and saved some of the spoil, David committing adultery and murder, or Peter denying that he knew Jesus.  Paul states that the things that Israel did were written as our example so that we might not live in the same manner. If we do not learn from our own mistakes and those of others then we will live on the merry-go-round of replicating them. We need to read the Bible not only as a love letter from God to His people but also an instructional manual on how to live our lives in order to please the Lord. I challenge you to pick up God’s Word and let it transform your thinking and your living because you are an example for someone else. The world observes your life as a living testament. We need to do all that we can do to lead them to Jesus.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs