How many times have you done something over and over again thinking, “I just did this same thing the other day. Why is it like this again?” Maybe you dusted your furniture and within a day it is completely dusty again. Maybe you just finished mopping your floor and not 10 minutes later some dog or kid comes running through leaving tracks. Maybe you finished that pile of paperwork that was on your desk at work and within a few days a whole new pile of paperwork to do is back on your desk. It really makes you think, “Now wasn’t that a waste of time!” Sometimes even when we are raising our children we teach them the same things over and over again. “Don’t touch that hot stove!” “Do your homework, so you will learn what you need to know to have a job when you grow up!” “Clean your room!” Especially as our kids become teenagers we really begin to wonder if they are even listening. By the time they are ready to move out you wonder if it wasn’t all a big waste of time giving them instruction after instruction, piece of advice after piece of advice. Even when the kids were at church they would sometimes seem to drift or not be listening to the Sunday School teacher or the Preacher. At home you would read them the Bible Stories or teach them little moral lessons out of the Bible and yet they would still seem to test the waters or challenge what you believed.
Thankfully, the majority of the time, when we raise our kids with good sound Biblical doctrine, Christian morals and Biblical concepts they will come back to the spiritual foundations we have laid. Read Proverbs 22:6:
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
We did what we were supposed to. We made the efforts. We taught the scriptures. We took them to church. We encouraged them in their faith. However, as they turn in to adults we can control them. We have to accept that they will make their own decisions. It is an encouragement to know from this Bible verse that once we have done our part it won’t be a waste of time after all. Most youth will return to what we have taught them. We just need to pray and be patient. We need to be there for them when they need some spiritual wisdom. Never stop being their loving and supportive parent.
When I was a kid a read a book called “The empty chair” by Bess Kaplan. It was a book about a child learning to deal with the death of her mother and the new step mother. The mom’s chair was now empty and for the daughter it still continued to represent her mother. As Christians we need an empty chair to remind us that God exists in our lives. A seat should exist at our table of life that helps us to realize that God is right there with us. Sometimes because of God’s invisible nature we forget that He exists in our lives. We forget that when we accept Jesus in to our heart He goes everywhere with us from then on out. The problem is that we don’t physically see Him so we have a tendency to just go where we want, do what we want and say what we want. If we stopped to analyze what we were doing and saying, we might realize that some of those things Jesus would not approve of. The prophet Isaiah reminded the people of Israel of the same concept in Isaiah 40:27 –
“Jacob, why do you say, and Israel, why do you assert: “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my claim is ignored by my God”?”
Israel was acting like God couldn’t see what they were doing. In truth God was seeing everything and was disgusted. He gave them multiple prophets and warnings to give them a chance to come around and live godly, but eventually He had to deal with their sin. He had to give them a physical reminder that He was there and that He did care about their lives and actions. He brought the enemy down on them as punishment.
Common sense should tell us that the God we believe in knows and sees everything. We, like Israel, cannot hide our ways from Him. We need to put a seat at our table to remind us physically that God is here and a part of our lives. We need to maybe look at that empty seat in the theatre or that empty chair in the living room or that empty guest chair at our desk as the spot where Jesus sits. Then maybe we would use more common sense and not do things Jesus would not approve of.
Most of us would agree that as each day passes we are drawing closer to the end times and the Lord’s return. Many of us feel we are in the actual last days, of course, the Apostles felt the same way. The Apostle Peter gave lots of great advice in I Peter Chapter 3 about dealing with mockers and scoffers. First he foretold that in the last days we would experience a rise in the number of mockers and scoffers against God and our faith. I think most of us would agree that we are already seeing that. When things like the May 21 fiasco happen, it pushes a rise in the number of mockers and scoffers. In chapter 3 verses 3 -7, Peter gives us some good instructions for when we deal with these people:
“3 First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, following their own lusts, 4 saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They willfully ignore this: long ago the heavens and the earth existed out of water and through water by the word of God. 6 Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded by water. 7 But by the same word the present heavens and earth are held in store for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
Peter reminds us that this mocking and scoffing is nothing new. He brings to mind the story of Noah. Noah lived in a world of evil people and God had determined to bring judgment. He told Noah to build the Ark and warn the people. Noah preached for 120 years and only reached his own family. While he preached all those years and built the Ark, he dealt with the people mocking and scoffing at him. What persistence and faith Noah had to go on through all of that. Inside this passage Peter reminds us that we need to look to God’s Word when people mock us or our faith. Inside God’s Word we will find stories of God’s faithfulness to us and stories that show God is not slack in keeping His promises.
So when people come against you and question your faith, remember God’s Word. Go to God’s Word and show them through God’s Word that when God says something will happen, it will in His own timing and His own way. These are wise instructions from Peter. Don’t depend on your own wisdom, reasoning and logic to explain to people what God is doing. Use God’s Word to respond to mockers. Just as Peter used the story of Noah to remind the people that God keeps His Word.
We all have those days when we just need encouragement. We are feeling down about life. Sometimes we can’t even put our finger on why we are feeling bad. Those times can really stem from a spiritual battle going on around us. There is hope for those down moments in our life. All we need to do is to go to the source for encouragement, God. We have three ways to get encouragement from God. Read Romans 15: 4-7
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
The scriptures were written for our encouragement, therefore we can always open our Bible and spend time reading God’s Word. The things we learn about God’s character will encourage us. Next all we have to do is ask God for encouragement directly. God loves us and will give us encouragement if we ask. Lastly spending time with other Christians will provide us encouragement. When we gather in a spirit of unity with fellow believers and share with each other praises for God and what He has done, we will be greatly encouraged.
So our three way connection to encouragement is very simple and easy. When you are down just remember to read your Bible, ask God and get together with other Christians and praise God together.