He Who Turns Blackness Into Dawn

Almost every day, I’m awake well before the sun rises, with a cup of coffee and a book or game, working on waking up very slowly as dawn breaks. There’s comfort in the sunrise; to know a new day is beginning, to know the Lord has blessed me with another day. That quiet start of the day always seems to offer a chance of solemn realization and thankfulness; a reflection of God driving away the night and giving us a new day.

We all know the imagery of light vs. darkness representing good vs. evil; we see it right off the bat as God creates light in Genesis 1, calling it good. We know and often experience first hand the danger of darkness, of promises of thieves emboldened by the cover of darkness, adulterers and criminals sinning away from the eyes of the world, of being blinded to the world around us and lost and confused. It’s easy to see the contrast in this of the light too; the world around us revealed again, the possibilities of a new day, the beginning of a new journey and new work to be done.

It’s important in these reflecting moments to think of, as Amos describes in Amos 5:8, “he who turns blackness into dawn.” To make it easily understandable for us, the Bible paints our experiences with sin as being trapped in a deep darkness, our sight of God obfuscated. It’s as Jesus says in Matthew 8:12 – “The subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Or in John 11:10 – “It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” When sin surrounds us, we are as if trapped in a deep darkness, without a protector to lead us. We are left helpless and hopeless, no choice but to succumb to the wages of sin: eternal death.

But just as the sun rises every day, as God turns blackness into dawn, through His grace He acts as a light, driving away our sin. For as proclaimed in 1 John 1:5-7: “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” What a reminder to start the day with. God is perfect, flawless, free of sin; the example who’s path we can always walk in. When we try to walk on the path of our own volition, it’s just about impossible to not stumble. But God will never lead us astray into the dangers sin present.

Thinking back to the tougher times of my life, a number of my memories are swallowed by a thick darkness of sin. I remember all of the fear, the doubt, the despair, the hopelessness whenever I tried to walk on my own without God’s help. This spiritual darkness is all too present, and ready to consume those who don’t follow God’s teaching. What about in your own life – do you have a time in your life you tried to stumble your way through the dark on your own without God’s guidance? How did those moments of isolation from God’s warmth make you feel? And most importantly, how can you express that feeling of security when you returned to God’s shining grace? And how can you share that through your actions and words with those still in the darkness? For according to Jesus in Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

With God, none of us have to endure that terror. Together, through the blood of Jesus, God purifies us, frees us from darkness and sin. He turns the blackness that seals our fate into the light and purity of His holy presence. If this darkness sounds familiar, if you’re struggling without God’s light right now, know He seeks to shine in your life and in your heart again. Don’t be afraid to express your true feelings while seeking help and support from other Christians in your life. Most importantly, immerse yourself in prayer and Scripture to receive His encouraging word. For as surely as God begins each new day until He returns, He will free you from ever needing to walk that dark path alone again. As Psalm 48:14 says: “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.”

God Most High

If there’s anything to be said for times of crisis, it’s that we see everyone around us displaying the inner workings of their heart on their sleeves. When the broken world around us seems to fall apart, putting on display the reality of sin, the worst facets of human nature rear themselves, and it’s tough to watch. From hearing the despair of friends and coworkers about what’s going on in our world, to seeing stores picked apart, my heart honestly breaks for those around me who do not know Christ. The fear and uncertainty are palpable and powerful.

That’s why I feel especially blessed this week to have been able to attend church services this last Sunday. To see our body of believers coming together and affirming their belief and showing their confidence that God is greater than any fear, any sickness, or any agent of death has energized me and exemplified faith’s importance in my life this week. To focus not on myself, but to engage in prayer in worship of our Most High God has demonstrated the night-and-day difference His graceful peace makes.

When you really need God, are you crying out to Him? Psalm 57:2 & 3 reads: “ I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!”

With all the infectious negativity around me this week, I’ve found myself experiencing a lot of negative feelings frightfully often. But reading God’s word and focusing on Him picks me up and brings me joy every time. Now more than ever we can see how exactly God can bring us peace when we shut out the world around us and cry out to Him. For God, Most High creator of heaven and earth, greater than any other being or any other force in the world, nothing is insurmountable. No force could stop God from saving His children, from sending out His love to those who cry out in need.

This weekend, take Jesus’s words in Matthew 6:31-33 to heart: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The First

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The very beginning of the Bible points us to one of the fundamentals truths of God’s nature, and one of the toughest for us to get our heads around: God was the First; He has always been here, and He will always be. In Revelation 22:13, Christ says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Isaiah 44:6 says “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” Before anything, before time or space or matter, there was God.

Mankind has been trying on its own to wrap its collective head around what ‘forever’ could mean, how everything could have come into being, and where this origin point could have itself originated from. But we Christians know the answer through His word – God has always been, beyond our comprehension of these topics can reach. Isaiah 55:9 summarizes the Lord’s position very well on this: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Beyond the how, though – in this topic, so conceptually beyond our grasp we have trouble keeping up, it can be easy to gloss over how amazing this truly is and what exactly to take away from it.

I think about all of the emotions of beginning a new, monumental task; for example, buying a house or piloting a new project at work. All of the nervousness, excitement, hesitation, and trepidation that goes into those decisions that can have a huge effect for a long time to come. It can be difficult and incredibly stressful to start something new – now imagine starting literally everything. But these human feelings can’t begin to compare to how God handled such a momentous beginning. No, He had perfectly planned out every single event in time to culminate with the birth, life, and death of Christ here on earth without trouble.

God’s impeccable work as the progenitor of existence itself points to a simple takeaway: not only was God the first to be, but He ensured He would forever be the First. God is wiser, God is mightier, God is beyond us in all ways. And what’s more, he calls us to place Him first as well. As Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Think about that today – are you placing the Lord, the first and the last, first in your heart and first in your soul? Pray for humility today, that we could see just how far above us God truly is, and for direction to show our appreciation and praise for how monumental and everlasting God is.

The Eagle that Leads His People

Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 32:11.

As Americans we hold a high esteem for eagles as animals. The Bald Eagle is our national bird for a reason – it is powerful, lightning-fast, an apex predator, and flies free and unrestrained as the wind. But often we tend to focus on the strong nature of the eagle, rather than how Moses describes the eagle in Deuteronomy 32. When speaking one last time to the people of Israel before his death, begging them to submit to God’s council:

“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him, no foreign god was with him.”

Interestingly, Moses demonstrates God’s caring nature by comparing Him to the nurturing, child-raising side of the eagle. As parents, eagles are incredibly watchful: for the first roughly 3 months of their children’s lives, at least one parent is always dutifully watching over their children as the other finds food. Slowly, the parents will begin leaving more and more, moving to nearby trees or circling overhead to closely watch over their young as they attempt to leave the nest and learn to fly, allowing their chicks some self-direction but always ready to protect and provide help (If you’re interested in more eagle nesting facts at all, here’s a neat little fact sheet courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison: https://journeynorth.org/tm/eagle/annual/facts_nestlings.html).

As we learn to fly on our own and navigate through this life, we know that God is our protector, as Psalm 121 says: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 3:3 says “you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head”; The Lord is ready to protect us from evil and lift us when we feel weary. Though we may feel lost and stumble when we work on our own volition, the Lord is ready to catch us, to set us upright and on the right path, and to direct us to holiness when we look to Him. Like a baby eagle, we are never alone when we learn to fly; our protector is always there, powerful and mighty and ready to swoop in for our behalf on a moment’s notice.

Do you live like God’s always watching over you, ready to take leaps in your faith under His instruction and with His guardianship? Are you stuck, constrained by your own volition, thinking your sin renders your own efforts meaningless? Or are you ready to soar free, unrestrained by death and sin, how God wants you to live? All this time, all our lives, the Lord has watched over us carefully, provided for us, and brought us up to live freely from death’s clutches. Today, celebrate that the Lord would break your shackles and give us the freedom from sin that life in Him provides. Be thankful that he watches over us so diligently. Above all, today and always, praise God!

 

Confidence

Think about something you don’t have a lot of confidence in. Maybe it’s your old alarm clock that more and more occasionally seems to forget its job. Perhaps it’s your car that seems to break down at the most inopportune moments. Could be a coworker who spends a little too long on lunch breaks. Almost certainly the government, in one way or another. Whatever your thing may be, think about why you’re not confident in that; what brings us to depend on these things, when they’re guaranteed to reach a breaking point and fail in some way at some point?

People are, by the broken nature brought about by the fall of man, imperfect. The things we create, the tools we use, the responsibilities we hold, the organizations we take part in; all of these things take the imperfections of the human hands that put them into place. This can likewise be true on a personal scale – we can be confident in our own talents and abilities, the experience and intelligence and hard work we’ve spent our lives building up. But even small mistakes can overturn all of these and bring serious consequences. So how can we, as imperfect people, be confident in our ability to do… well, anything?

The answer is, of course, where our confidence comes from. As Psalm 71:5 says, “You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” The accumulation of all disappointments that come from human things can be overwhelming – how uplifting and gratifying it is to have this one thing, in all our days, we will never lose confidence in! We can confide in our Lord 100% of the time, all of our days. This is where our confidence must come from – not in our own fragile nature, but in a  righteous and rock-steady God. We can be confident that God will protect us and deliver us from evil when we come to Him.

In Phillipians, Paul describes his distrust in the flesh and where, in his trials and jailing, his confidence comes from. Phillipians 3:3 says: “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh”, then goes on to say in the same verses 8-9: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order than I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

We Christians know there is nothing we could own or do that could surpass Christ. We know that salvation does not come from the things we own, or the groups we join, or our own rule-abidance, but in a God who pours out His righteousness and love. When we suffer, when we are persecuted for our faith, when our lives seem to start crumbling around us – know the Lord will be there always. Abide in the comfort and confidence today of knowing a righteous God will always have your back. You will always be able to run to Him, of that you can be sure. As Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Breath of the Almighty

Some of the people I remember most fondly in regard to my walk with Christ from my childhood are the ones who made me feel able to contribute despite being young. The youth leaders and church elders who encouraged me and challenged me with new concepts and hard questions always made me feel confident despite feeling less experienced or knowledgable about life than my elders. As I myself grow older and begin seeing younger family members and church members share their own experiences with Christ, I’ve definitely seen for myself what those who knew the younger me must have: wisdom from Christ knows no age.

In particular, Job 32 & 33 demonstrates this in a rather straightforward way. Once Job, in his many sorrows, resigns himself to being deaf to God’s directions, a young observer makes his own thoughts known. Elihu, this young man in question, in exasperation with those who would try and fail to console Job in a Godly manner, is clearly not the most confident speaker. He says in a straightforward manner how he was timid to speak out of turn when his elders were talking, but finds confidence in his faith. As Elihu says in Job 32:7-8: “I said ’Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom. But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” Again in Job 33:4: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has filled me.”

We know wisdom and the soundness of mind it offers comes only from God. As Proverbs 2:6-8 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” As the Lord has breathed our very lives into the bodies of ours He has created, so does He fill anyone who walks with Him with His understanding and integrity. That’s why it’s important to remember when anyone speaks of Him with hearts and minds centered toward Him, they share what wisdom the breath of the Almighty has stored within them and granted them. No matter how young, or inexperienced, or well-studied and verbose they may be, when someone speaks Scripture and shares His word, wisdom from the Lord can be found. We can easily see our own human limits first and foremost, and look past how a boundless Lord may use us. But Scripture tells us here to trust that when the Holy Spirit moves us to speak, we can trust in Him and His wisdom that we share. It’s important to not count out anyone’s voice as well, or hold someone’s thoughts is lower regard when sharing the word of God.

Likewise, it’s equally important to remember the breath of the Almighty fills your lungs as well – and to view this both in pride and humility. If you share the experiences and blessings of the Lord to other, and speak wisely of His word, you’re helping share with others the deliverance the Lord provides. But on the other side of this responsibility, James 3:2 says “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” Through this chapter, James speaks of the destructive capabilities of the tongue, how it is “a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” The same tongue that we can use to proclaim Godly wisdom, when used in sinful fits, can cause immeasurable harm to those around us. How do you wield your tongue? Does your mouth metaphorically sling spiritual fire and unrighteousness, causing harm to those around you? Or do your words reflect the righteousness and understanding of He who grants you each breath? Each breath that leaves your mouth has been put there by God, so how could we use that breath to show gratitude by speaking confidently and joyously about Him?

Today, let us reflect on both of these ideas: that the wisdom the Lord fills us with can surely be trusted, to speak holy truths confidently; and how we handle the same mouths that speak truth when sin leads us to do otherwise. In both of these, pray for trust in the Lord, that your words could reflect His truths naturally and thankfully.

Anointed One

In the Bible, Christ has many names; Master, Teacher, Lord, Son of God, and Emmanuel to name a few. Looking at Acts 4:27 today, we see another: the Anointed One. Anointing is a physical act with a deeply spiritual meaning, where oil or some sort of perfume is poured one someone’s head or applied to some object to mark it as particularly holy, or set aside for some notably divine purpose. Typically, in biblical times, it was done to kings as part of a coronation ceremony, or by homeowners to guests as a sign of welcome and thankfulness. To be anointed is to be given the favor of God, and an act of recognizing a deep spiritual connection with the Lord.

  We know that in Jesus’s time on earth, God made clear he was symbolically anointed, set forth as the most holy King, a true leader and ruler of God’s people. Jesus himself recognizes the duties put forth before Him by God and the importance of anointment in demonstrating this, especially in the story of His anointing told in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12, where he says “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.” Or as Luke described in Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” But this term, used throughout the Bible, seems to frequently be used as well to describe those who follow Christ. A few examples.

Psalm 23:5 – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Psalm 45:7 – “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Psalm 105:15 – “he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, ‘Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!’”

Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

1 John 2:20 – “You have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.”

The central theme around referring to the body of believers as “the anointed” is that through our faith in God and our spiritual death and rebirth provided from grace through baptism, we have been truly made and marked holy. The Lord has set us apart from the world, using the hope and faith in what is unseen to demonstrate God’s blessings dwelling within us. God has welcomed us into his kingdom and honored us as guests in His house, representative of the symbolic hospitality of anointment.

Therein lies to encouragement in Acts 4:27, where the entire world seems to have banded together to rise against Jesus, “whom you anointed.” We see this same message in Psalm 2:2 – “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.” Since the fall of man, the world has despised and worked against those whom the Lord favors. This is epitomized in these verses where the Anointed One, the most consecrated of all, is turned against. It’s not hard to see; turn on the news or check social media and you’re likely to see an outpouring of slander and hatred against the faithful and against God’s word. But all these verses and all of God’s promises speak true: in anointing us and recognizing our faith, God has promised we will be safe from wickedness. He will make sure our cup overflows and we can continue to perform good works in His name, no matter what the weapons the world may raise against us. In Him and in His blessings, we are safe and secured. This definite truth is one we can always hold onto when the world turns against us – no matter what, when, or where, our Lord is with us.

After Christmas

As we enter the dreaded post-Christmas comedown, some people may have started wondering what the heck to do with all the Christmas presents they now have. Those of you with kids may even be seeing the gifts you put weeks of work and thought into starting to get discarded and forgotten. The weight of all this material stuff may start gathering up, and you could be saddled with that gift-receiving guilt I know all too well. When all the stuff that comes along with the Christmas season starts losing its shine and reality begins creeping back in, what do we do when the gifts feel hollow and unfulfilling?

Now as good a time as any is a good time for the reminder I like looking to after Christmas. Luke 2, the classic Christmas verse, encapsulates the glory of the Christmas season well, but also contains great instructions for what comes after in verse 20, when the Shepherds are leaving baby Jesus’s manger – “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” We’ve been spending quite a while now hearing about and considering the gift of eternal life Jesus’s birth sets into motion – the greatest gift of all.

As Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now more than ever is a good time to remember how serious a gift God has given us through His son. By our own nature, we rightfully deserve utter damnation, but through God’s grace He has gifted us eternity. We no longer need to worry about death or suffering or what comes afterwards – we know we are gifted eternity with God. How many gift cards or sweaters were you gifted this year that could obliterate death?

The world will try to tell us at all times how we can find fulfillment through physical gifts and the things of this world. But none of that will last beyond this lifetime, throughout history, or in some instances, even through this week. Now, after the birth of Christ, is the time to consider the one best gift we have received, that we could ever hope to receive. Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Santa may have only given gifts to those who deserved it, but all of us believers can now ponder and praise God for the one gift no one could ever want to return.

Now, with this gift, what do we do? How do we handle such a powerful and important gift? Well, it’s just as the Shepherds did when they heard the news of Jesus’s arrival in Luke 2:20: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” As we all begin rolling back into our regular routines, remember the gift we can tell others we received that will last forever – eternal salvation and happiness with God, given from His grace and goodwill. How could we not glorify and praise the Lord for this gift?

The Gift of Rest

Today, through the rest of the year, the daily Bible Journal will be taking a “free write” structure, where the writer is free to write about whatever biblical verse or topic they feel called to. Personally, one topic this Christmas season that has been on my mind and heart and in our prayers has been rest. In this particularly hectic season, it feels as if everything on our schedules is never-ending. This can be even further exacerbated these days by how technologically connected and constantly stimulated we are with news and entertainment. It feels as though we can never find time to rest, and when we do, it never feels sufficiently recharging. Plus there’s the guilt of not being more productive or studious when the opportunity to rest does arise.

If this sounds familiar to you right now, you might be like me: in need of a reminder of where rest comes from. Way back in Genesis 2, after bringing all of creation into being, God set the precedent that rest was holy and good by spending day 7 resting. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Even later in Matthew, in chapter 26, Jesus needs to be alone in peace and quiet to connect with God in prayer. God makes it evident that in our toil and stress, it is good and necessary to recuperate with quiet downtime. In Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”

However, the issue lies in who we give our downtime to. Do you devote your silent moments to the television or your phone, or to God? Not that these things are inherently bad, or that you should never enjoy these luxuries. But in moments of rest, as in all things, we need God to come first. Rest is an opportunity to engage in intimate conversation with God: to come to Him, receive and ponder His blessings, and to be renewed in our spirit. In all the noise and distraction of life, it can be easiest to hear God’s voice in your heart when at peace in silence and relaxation. Beyond all, rest is a spiritual gift from God, a chance to simply be close to the Lord.

In a more simple viewpoint, our imperfect earthly bodies are just designed to rest. We need moments to recharge and engage in prayerful stillness; obviously not a coincidence, but perhaps more of a subtle affirmation from the Lord. We should take our moments of respite first as moments of prayerful listening to God speaking to our hearts before tending to our own physical wants for relaxation. So work hard, engaging in the work the Lord has laid out for you when you should. But when it is time to kick back, be sure to use it as time with God foremost, knowing it is needed and wonderful. Enjoy your moments of rest this Christmas season, and know that giving those moments of rest to others can be a powerful gift; a simple act like taking care of the evening’s chores for your spouse or watching a friend’s child for a while can offer them meaningful time to quietly visit with God, making all the difference. This Christmas season, engage the Lord in thanks and praise when you can kick back and relax, for from God comes rest, as does all things good.

Barnabas

Today’s reading is on Barnabas in Acts 11, 13, and 14.

One of the most supportive practices in marriage my wife and I maintain is the constant encouragement we provide each other. From helping each other manage the day-to-day routines when they wear us down, or from pushing each other to pursue our loftier aspirations and goals, the encouragement she has provided me has been invaluable in getting through tough times. Providing encouragement for her as well offers an interesting opportunity to build up people around us, not only in our own rapport, but in the experiences and paths they may encounter that lead them closer to God.

Enter Barnabas, member of the church in Jerusalem, moved when he heard the Lord’s word. According to Acts 11:24, Barnabas was “a g good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” He was evidently adept at speaking and filling others with spiritual direction, as evidenced by how it’s further told after preaching to the church in Antioch, “a great number of people were brought to the Lord” after he spoke. In fact, Barnabas’s name itself, depending on the translation of the original Hebrew text, could mean “son of encouragement,” “son of exhortation”, or “son of consolation” – it’s clear this man had a talent for building up others.

So why is Barnabas so notable? It’s through his help we see Paul grow into the great missionary role he fills. It’s back in Acts 9 that Barnabas introduces Saul to the apostles after his revelation when no one else wanted anything to do with him. In Acts 13 they’re originally called by the Holy Spirit to serve as missionaries, we see Barnabas as the prophet and teacher originally mentioned, but quickly see Paul taking charge and growing into a great teacher in his own right. In Paul’s journey to spreading the word to countless people and eventually prison where the Epistles that would be included in the Bible were written, we see Barnabas helping all along the way, helping Paul along his path to his calling.

The importance of a good teacher can not be overstated – I’m sure some people reading this might be teachers, and to you I say thank you for your work. In Barnabas’s journeys across Israel, we see the power of spiritual teachers and encouragers, those who help others along their spiritual paths. Clearly, the importance of this spiritual assistance was not lost on Paul, who wrote about this very thing multiple times in his letters to the churches. In Colossians 3:16, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” In Titus 2:7, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, he says “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

Being encouraging and kind to others is simply the decent thing to do. But beyond that, building up and helping others learn and grow in their faith in the Lord does magnitudes for the Kingdom. Your sharing in spiritual wisdom and teaching empowers not only your fellow believers, but brings God joy from the gratitude and servitude your actions show. Building up others and strengthening their connection with the Lord reaps lifelong effects, bringing them ever closer to God. And when they grow closer to God, their lives with be more full of joy and peace that would ever be possible otherwise. So in all times, look to how you can advise and build up your brothers and sisters in Christ in order to further God’s glory.