Staying Encouraged with Word Power Statements

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but …

just about everybody that you encounter is going through some sort of personal battle or struggle that you know nothing about.

I see it in pastoral ministry all the time. And we are fortunate if that person chooses to let us know about what they’re experiencing.  Because then, we can offer a word of encouragement. The truth is,

you have no idea what God might do through a single word of encouragement!

Perhaps one of the most well-known Bible stories about personal suffering is that of Job. He was a really good man, but he suffered great loss. In a very short time, he had all of his children, servants, livestock and crops taken from him! But when his friends tried to comfort him, they ended up blaming him for his own problems. To which Job responded,

“I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! – Job 16:2

Do you have any friends like that? They mean well, but they aren’t helping you with their commentary – or their social media posts. That’s why you and I need to learn better how to use our words to encourage. Because …

Our words can build up or our words can tear down.

“The tongue has the power of life and death…” – Proverbs 18:21a

I’d like to give you two simple TOOLS TO ENCOURAGE. The first is kind of a baby-step, or a fundamental of encouragement. It is simply:

1. If you think of something good, say it!

So often we are too quick to share words of criticism. But what if we shared encouragement instead? What if we told our coworkers, our children or our spouse all of the good that we see in them?  As Philippians 4:8 suggests, we could simply tell them whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy that we see in them.  In the sharing of those few words we could lift their spirits – and maybe even change the course of their lives.

The second tool of encouragement is something that I learned more than a decade ago from my friend and mentor, Roy Comstock. He wrote about this in depth in Volume 3 of his Mentoring Series, “Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.” And that is:

2. Prepare & Memorize “Word Power” Statements!

What this means is that for every negative emotion, fear, anxiety, worry, guilt, failure or shortcoming that you experience, you find a corresponding Bible verse where God speaks a word of hope and promise.  Then you write that in the first-person in a way that speaks encouragement and hope to you personally. Here are a number of examples:

  • No weapon formed against me will ever prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • I am blessed coming in and going out. (Deuteronomy 28:6)
  • I am redeemed and forgiven. (Colossians 1:13-14)
  • I am a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I’m a child of the living God. (Romans 9:26)
  • I am freed from the power of sin. (Romans 6:18)
  • I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • I am the workmanship of God created In Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • My name is in the Lamb’s book of life. (Luke 10:20)
  • Jesus is always with me. (Matthew 28:20)
  • Through Him I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

So when you find yourself like Job, or King David who wrote in the Psalms,

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” – Psalm 42:5

You will be able to stay positive and encouraged by recalling a statement of comfort, hope and power from God’s Word. In fact, I encourage you not to keep these Word Power statements to yourself, but share them liberally with others who need encouragement. Remember, they are going through struggles whether they reveal them to you or not. And never underestimate what God can do through a single word of encouragement that you share.

May God bless you as you fight against the negativity, uncertainty, and fear that the enemy would seek to use to steal your joy. And may you be filled with hope and a peace that passes all understanding as you guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord!

In Him,

Pastor Augie

Let’s Pray: Father, thank You for supporting us and upholding us in the battles we face. Help us to seek You when we’re in need of strength and may we use our mouths and our actions to encourage the people around us with words of promise and hope that are found in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You can listen to or watch this full message online by clicking here.



Staying Positive in Negative Times

I really don’t want to sound negative, but I’m a bit tired of all the negative talk going on in the world today.  Are you?  No matter which way you look or which side of an issue you’re on, there’s always somebody saying something negative.

Admittedly there are a lot of negative and difficult things happening these days – everything from coronavirus deaths to unemployment statistics or from racial tensions to political differences.  It’s all around us and not easily avoided. All of this negativity can lead us to be emotionally on edge and more easily angered or discouraged.  That’s why it’s so important for us to look to God’s Word for encouragement and to choose faith instead of negativity. Because simply stated …

a negative outlook doesn’t lead to a positive life.

Would you agree with that?  If that’s true, then how can a person of faith be optimistic in the face of such negativity around us?  The outlook of our lives depends on it!  To get at the answer to that question, let’s start with a simple definition of optimism. Lexico.com states in part that …

Optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future…”

But that raises the question, confidence in what? I would like to propose a definition of optimism that completes the definition from a Christian standpoint.

“Optimism is the unwavering expectation that our loving God is working every situation for our good.”

Doesn’t that sound optimistic?  But what would allow us to say such a thing? While there are multiple verses in Scripture that would support such a definition, perhaps the most direct and relevant statement is made by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 8 …

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

I’ve added an underline to emphasize that God is working in all things – in every situation. “All things” might mean something as seemingly insurmountable as the coronavirus pandemic or as mundane as your difficult boss. It might mean something as seemingly impossible to solve as the racial tensions in our country or as commonplace as paying the bills. The important thing for us to grasp is that …

whatever is causing negativity in your life – it is not beyond the reach of our God.

And the mistake that people of faith often make is reacting to difficult and negative situations as if there were no God and as though faith does not matter. The truth is, that things which seem completely impossible to us are possible for God and that no matter what challenges we face, we have a hope that goes beyond our present circumstances. The Apostle Paul says (emphasis mine),

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

… and remember that he wrote that after being beaten many times, thrown out of town, arrested and imprisoned.  Talk about remaining optimistic in the face of negativity! The Apostle Paul can say this because he knows that …

what consumes your thoughts controls your life.

So he learned that rather than look at the present challenges, he would instead fix his eyes on Jesus and place his hope in the glory that one day will be revealed in Him, and also in us as He works through us. He learned to be content in every circumstance – even in the negativity and struggles of life.

So what are you struggling with today? Where are you hurting? What have you lost? What is grieving your spirit and stealing your joy? Might I suggest that you entrust that to an all-powerful and all-loving God who is working every situation toward your good?

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, help us to remain positive in the face of negativity. And help us to place our hope in you. Thank you that we can trust that you are at work in every situation – no matter how hard or how negative. And help us to have the confidence that you are working all things together for our good. May you be glorified in us, even in our struggles.  Amen.

You can listen to or watch this full message online by clicking here.



Finding Hope in Challenging Times

What are you hopeful about? What robs your hope and steals your peace? In this video, I talk about how some indicators around us give us signs of hope, while others give us signs of further frustration or even danger. Where, then, do you find hope? The apostle Peter tells us to

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15).

How would you explain it? And what’s more, how might you even “rejoice” in the face of hardship and suffering as the Apostles did in the early pages of the Christian church.
 

When life is uncertain, God is not.

God’s Peace be with you,

Pastor Augie



He’s Still* Got the Whole World in His Hands

How do we remain hopeful in a world that seems hopelessly broken? How do we continue to trust a God that seems conspicuously absent? How do we find peace in a world that is spinning out of control? If you’ve ever asked questions like these, you’re not alone and you’re not the first. The uncertainty we face today is no different from the uncertainty faced by the men and women of the Bible. And like them, uncertainty can cause us to question God’s faithfulness, His presence and His concern. In this 3-part series, we’re reminded that . . . He’s *Still* Got the Whole World in His Hands..

  • May 10 – Uncertainty is Nothing New: Times are uncertain, but God is not. He’s still got the whole world in his Hands. 
    May 17 – Peace Through Prayer: When life is uncertain, God is not. He’s still got the whole world in his hands. Pray until the peace comes.
    May 24 – Maintaining Hope: Our hope is God’s love for us. What or whom you are hoping in determines your ability to maintain hope.

Click HERE for times, viewing links and other resources.
During this time of separation, you remain in our thoughts and prayers. If you have any prayer requests to share, you can submit those to prayer@redeemerbythesea.org at any time.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – Philippians 4:4, NIV

Rejoicing in the Good News of Easter!
Pastor Augie



Joy Greater Than Our Fears

In this video I talk about how the Easter message intersects with the life of the Christian and how we can learn from the first Easter morning how to face the fears of our day. Just as the women left Jesus’ empty tomb “with fear and great joy” (Matthew 28:8, ESV) … as Christians our joy is greater than our fear. Likewise, our faith is greater than our worry.

I also look at what Jesus has to say about worry in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34).

Truly, as Christians our knowledge of the Resurrection overshadows and even brings joy in the midst of our fears!

Joyful in Hope,

Pastor Augie

Note: the audio breaks up at about 2:22 in the video making it difficult to hear these words, “… another thing that I notice in this text is that word “fear.” Before the resurrection it was the disciples that were afraid. They ran away when Jesus was arrested. Peter denied Jesus when he was questioned. And then they all hid behind locked doors after Jesus was crucified…”



Easter Hope Instead of Worry

In this video, I talk about how Easter changes our perspective on a world that could otherwise be filled with fear. Because of Easter, Christians have a message of hope to share. As we look to the future and the “restart” following the Coronavirus shutdown, how will our churches be different? And why would we worry when we have a God that is powerful over even the grave?!

Some Scriptures and References:

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:19-22

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? – Matthew 6:25-26

Thom Rainer, “Your Church is Now a Blank Slate” https://tinyurl.com/ThomRainerBlankSlate

Pastoral Leadership Institute: Pivot & Pioneering, https://tinyurl.com/PLIPivotAndPioneer

May you stay healthy and joyful in the Lord and look to Jesus instead of to your fears!

in Him,

Pastor Augie



Opportunities for Lent

Most people think of the soul as a nebulous part of them that is mysteriously internal to them. The Bible, however, often uses to the word “soul” to describe the whole of who we are. The soul is what holds us together. When God created the first man, who became a “living being,” the Hebrew word behind this phrase in the book of Genesis is the word for “soul.” When any part of us is off – be it our emotions, our bodies, or our minds – our souls are off. Join us on Sundays

March 1 · What is the Soul?
March 8 · The Struggle of the Soul
March 15 · What the Soul Needs
March 22 · The Practice of Grace
March 29 · The Practice of Gratitude
April 5 · The Practice of Growth
Imagine that a friend or family member who is unfamiliar with the Christian faith asks you to summarize the gospel. What would you say? The Apostle Peter calls us to be prepared always to give a reason for the hope we have as Christians (1 Peter 3:15). As followers of Jesus we have the best news in the world to share. But are we prepared to share it? During this season of Lent, we’re going to work together to formulate faithful Christian confessions of the gospel; the kind that could be said in about seven words. We’ll use a format that will allow us to enter into a creative dialogue in a Bible Study / Devotion setting after enjoying a meal together. Come join in the fellowship and conversation on Wednesday Evenings
 
March 4 · Preparing to Confess
March 11 · Captivity and Freedom
March 18 · Death and Life
March 25 · Isolation and Community
April 1 · The Gospel in Your Words
I am looking forward to exploring these topics with you, and to sharing our Lenten Family Dinners together. You can learn more about the Dinner and Devotions menu below. May God use these opportunities to enrich your experience of Lent this year as we prepare our hearts to celebrate our Lord’s death and Resurrection this Holy Week and Easter.

Sharing the Good News of Jesus,

Pastor Augie



Love Does

I’m excited about a brand new message series coming up called “Love Does!” … According to the Bible, love is much more than a feeling you have, a place you fall, or a treasure you find. Love is something that you do. In this series, inspired by Bob Goff’s book Love Does, we explore what God’s love looks like and discuss how we can reflect His love in our lives.

“I’m With You” – Jan. 19
A big part of love is simply being present with someone. This is why God promises His people, over and over again, “I will be with you.” And yet, God is with us in a special and specific way – through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is only through Jesus that we can safely encounter God. This is what Jacob discovered as he wrestled with God one night.

“Free to Fail” – Feb. 2
When you love someone, it can be difficult to watch them make foolish choices. And yet, sometimes love lets others learn from their mistakes because love wants to encourage people to take responsibility for their own actions. Jesus lets His disciples make mistakes not so He can condemn them, but so that He can grow them.

“Audacious Love” – Feb. 9
True love does not just affirm those the world would deem “lovable,” it befriends those others overlook. This is what Jesus does with a Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John, Chapter 4. How can we love those the world overlooks?

“Be Not Afraid” – Feb. 16
The Apostle John writes, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Stephen was a man so convinced of God’s love for him in Christ that he was willing to face even martyrdom because he knew his eternity was secure.

“Follow Me” – Feb. 23
Love ultimately calls for commitment. This is why couples speak vows at their weddings. This is why parents make promises to their children. To love Jesus, we must commit to following Him, even as Jesus has committed to dying for us.

You and I have the wonderful opportunity to live lives that not only talk about the love of God, but demonstrate it. I am proud to be part of a church that “does love.” … it’s one of the many things I love about Redeemer. Hope to see you there!

– Pastor Augie



Christmas Light

One of the favorite sights of the Christmas season is all the Christmas lights! There are Christmas lights on homes and in stores. But for all the peace and serenity Christmas lights may communicate, the Christmas season can feel anything but peaceful and serene. It can feel overwhelming and burdensome! In this series, we look at how to make Christmas light – cutting through the clutter of the season and getting back to what matters most.

Sunday, December 22 – “When Your Travel is Taxing.” Mary and Joseph traveled to the Bethlehem to be registered in a census. But this is nothing compared to the distance the Son of God traveled to be with us on the first Christmas.
Tuesday, December 24 – “When Christ Lightens Your Heart.” Sometimes our hearts are so cluttered and heavy, but when Christ enters our hearts, our burdens are removed, and our heart is lighter.
Wednesday, December 25 – “When Christ Shines His Light.” Christ came to shine His light on the darkest places of our hearts – not to shame us, but to save us.

I am looking forward to our time together as we allow Christ to Lighten our Christmas!

– Pastor Augie



Ascension Thursday

On this Ascension Day, we celebrate that Jesus is not dead. …

Image: Jesus’ ascension to heaven depicted by John Singleton Copley, 1775

It’s not just that He was once raised from the dead, only to die again … but that He was resurrected, appeared to His disciples and many others, then was visibly taken up into heaven where He still resides today! Acts chapter 1 records for us:

“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”(Acts 1:9)
 
What a marvel it would have been to behold! You can understand the disciples jaw-dropping awe as they stared up long after He was out of their sight. (As an aside, we use the word “awesome” in so many lesser ways, don’t we? This would have truly been an awe-inspiring moment!) It’s no wonder that the men/angels/messengers looked at them and said:
 
Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? …” (Acts 1:11a)
 
But here’s the part that not only inspires awe in us, but creates HOPE … the men continue:
 
“… This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11b)
 
Because Jesus did not stay dead, but was resurrected and ascended into heaven and is still living and reigning on His throne, at the right hand of the Father … and because He promised to return again, we have hope. It’s as if we are living in the blink of eternity between Christ’s ascension and His return – which will be like a “reverse ascension” … He will return in the same way, visibly in the clouds. Speaking of this event, Jesus himself said:
 
“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 1:26)
 
And the Apostle John’s records his vision of this event in the book of Revelation this way:
 
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
 
Which is why we Christians are so adamant about telling people about Jesus – He lives. He reigns. He will return!
 
As some have said, “it was Christ’s last command, so it ought to be our first concern.” The very last words of Matthew’s gospel are what have been called the Great Commission – Jesus sending us into the world to make disciples:
 
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
 
And ending where we began, Jesus last words to His disciples just before He ascended were:
 
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(Acts 1:8)
 
So this Ascension Day is all about witnessing and hope. We have hope that Jesus is still alive! And we have hope that Jesus will one day return to make all things right, and new. And because of this, we witness to others what His life, death, resurrection, ascension and imminent return mean to everyone. We want this same hope for others … and so we tell of this great news – Jesus is not dead, He is alive and reigning on His throne in heaven!
 
When He returns will you welcome Him?
I look forward to seeing you around Redeemer sometime soon!
 
Blessings & Peace,
Pastor Augie