Welcome! Here we are dear ones, a month before the Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection, examining our lives as Christians in the presence of God. We dare not look upon ourselves in fleshly condemnation without the view of Christ, but rather see ourselves in faith, rejoicing in God’s love and grace.
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is in you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” 1
Connected Again, 40 Years Later…
Stan writes reminding me of our correspondence in the late 70s, from Canada, saying,
“You sure won’t remember me, but we corresponded a couple of times in the late 70s. I just grabbed your book, “Will You Die for Me?” a couple of minutes ago and opened to chapter 18. Near the end of that chapter you mentioned the significance of Psalm 23. (Before beginning this letter I had planned to quote it here.) When I read the chapter I saw how Psalm 23 had meant so much. It has been my go-to Psalm so often. So much truth! We are safe and secure with our Shepherd. Amen!
“This probably won’t get to you by your special day, but I’d also like to wish you a very Happy Birthday! I am a little more than three years older than you. I am so glad to see you are still ministering and writing as per your website. Although it has been some time since I last wrote to you, I want you to know I have prayed for you. God is so faithful to us and His love knows no bounds. So proud to call you brother.
“God is so good! As I was just writing, tears came to my eyes. We have different stories, yet even though you didn’t know mine, it’s still a miraculous one of God’s love in both of our lives. He washed us clean and set us on a path to live the rest of our lives for His glory alone.
“Thank you Charles for reading my letter. I just knew it was time to write. Maybe even give a word of encouragement. I certainly will keep you in prayer. Hugs to you my brother. Stan, Canada.”
A Word of Encouragement…
We all need encouragement. Stan’s letter brought back memories of my 8th grade teacher having us memorize Psalm 23, and how appreciative I’ve been of her over the years, though I can’t recall her name. It encouraged me to ask the teacher’s name from a childhood classmate, who is also an encouragement to me.
It’s always great for someone to remember my birthday. I never tell anyone in prison, but in my mind, one Happy Birthday after 40 years makes up for all those in between. Plus, Stan showed his gladness that I am still kicking, ministering and writing after all these years. Seems like every birthday reminds us of the faithfulness of God, Who promises, “With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” 2
Then, it made my day to know that Stan was moved by God to write me and was brought to tears, while encouraging and praying for me. Our stories of God’s mercy and grace is a miraculous one for sure. As Stan writes, “He washed us clean and set us on a path to live the rest of our lives for His glory alone.” Truly, I needed this word of encouragement.
“All glory to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.” 3
Encourage One Another…
Stan gives us a perfect example of how we can be an encouragement to one in need. It’s as simple as writing a note to someone God has placed upon your heart. It’s important to act and not procrastinate, because it could be a matter of life or death. Someone you know is in need of your encouragement.
Like Stan’s letter, it could be a note reminding a loved one of how you’ve been blessed by them in the past. A birthday wish could be an excuse if you need one to write and encourage someone. Simply let them know that you are here for them and how you are praying for them. Just so they know of your genuine care and concern during their hard times.
When you encourage someone, it is God working in your life to be a comfort.
“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 4
It is of utmost importance that you be comforted by God, otherwise it will be difficult for you to comfort others, since God is the source of all comfort. You must receive God’s comfort to be an encouragement to others.
It’s time for you to examine yourself to make sure that you know that Jesus Christ lives in you. This happens by faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. By faith, His blood cleanses you of all sin, and His resurrection gives you life because of righteousness (right standing with God). As a result, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart, empowering you to be a comfort and encouragement to others.
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter that Jesus left us with to be at peace within, to teach us all things, to bring things of God to remembrance, to empower us to testify, 5 and to produce His fruit. 6
During this season before Easter, we are encouraged to examine ourselves to see if our faith is genuine. If not, won’t you receive Jesus Christ today? Maybe you need to commit anew?
A Prayer for You…
Father, I thank You for being the God of all comfort. Without You in my heart to empower me, I can’t be a comfort an encouragement to others as I desire to be. I’ve examined myself as I read this view, and I believe my faith is not genuine. As a result, I’ve decided to believe in and receive You anew. I believe You have already done everything to provide salvation, so now I confess that You are my Lord and Savior. I believe in my heart that You raised Jesus from the dead. By faith in Your Word I receive Salvation now. Thank You for saving me.
Also, I recognize my need for Your power to live this new life encouraging others. Please fill me to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit. By faith, I receive You right now. Thank You for baptizing me in Your Spirit. You are welcome in my life fully. Amen!
Scripture References (NLT):
1) 2 Cor. 13:5
2) Psa. 91:6, KJV
3) Rev. 1:5c
4) 2 Cor. 1:3b,4
5) John chapters 14,15
6) Gal. 5:22,23