We don’t notice ourselves growing older physically until we look at an earlier photograph, and then it hits us! And it’s the same with spiritual growth; it’s hard to gauge how far you have come until you look back and see where you were before Jesus saved you; before He turned your life around.

“Be so busy giving recognition to others that you don’t need it yourself.”

Jim Rohn

Encourage others who work hard in the Lord: Praise the Lord first, and then pat the donkey.

“A great man shares his greatness in the way he treats little men.”

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish essayist and historian

“Man does not live by bread alone; sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”

John C. Maxwell

“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, Make me feel important.”

Mary Kay Ash (entrepreneur)

‘Builder or Wrecker?’

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town;
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and the sidewalk fell.
I asked the foreman: “Are these men skilled,
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just common labour is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do!”

And I thought to myself as I went on my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town,
Content with the labour of tearing down? (Anon)

“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13). We are to encourage one another daily, to persevere and hold firmly till the end. My daughter, Kim, is an artist and she has depicted the Christian life in a picture, as a tug of war between light and darkness or good and evil. On one side of the rope there are evil, grotesque-looking, demons: big, strong and menacing they seem easily able to overwhelm their opponents. On the other side of the rope the Christians appear puny in comparison; small, weak, struggling and sweating under the strain; no match for the stronger opponents. But, then, as you follow the line to the end of the rope on the Christian side, there is a huge finger holding the end securely! Friends, we are on the winning side! Be encouraged, persevere and hold firmly till the end.

R. Ian Seymour

An illustration: If you are a Christian you are never alone; even in trouble God is with you because you are in Christ. What does it mean for us to be in Christ? Take a piece of paper (this represents you). Open the Bible (this represents God). Put your piece of paper inside and close your Bible. God is above you and below you; in front and behind you; to the left and the right and all around you.

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticise me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”

William Arthur Ward (writer)

An illustration: When we take that step of faith and we take hold of God’s promises to us in Christ Jesus (have an assistant grab both your arms to illustrate), what happens is that God then takes hold of us and promises that he will never leave us (I also take hold of their arms). Sometimes, however, we allow fear or doubt or wrong behaviour; sin to get the better of us and we let go of God (have the person let go of my arms but keep hold of theirs), but God is not like that: once we have put our trust in him He will never let us go.

You never know when someone
Might catch a dream from you.
You never know when a little word
Or maybe something you might do;
Could open up the windows
Of a mind that seeks the light
The way you live might not matter at all,
But there again, it might! (Anon)

‘I am not the man I should be. And I am not the man I could be. But I am not the man I once was. And I am not the man I one day will be!’

John Newton

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”

William Arthur Ward

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

In the book Prince Caspian, Lucy sees Aslan, the lion, for the first time in many years. He has changed since their last encounter. His size surprises her, and she tells him as much.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” he answered.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

And so it is with Christ. The longer we live in him, the greater he becomes in us. It’s not that he changes but that we do; we see more of him. We see dimensions, aspects, and characteristics we never saw before, increasing and astonishing increments of his purity, power and uniqueness.

Max Lucado

Max Lucado, 2009, Fearless, Nashville Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, p.170

Every obstacle you have ever had to overcome, every limitation you have conquered, ever fear you have dealt with, every pain and failure and rejection you have triumphed over, have all equipped you to help you live and encourage others. If not they are just pointless experiences!

Encouragement: ‘Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One was allowed to sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking hand-in-hand, the skyline in the distance. His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’

The UCB Word For Today, 22/12/2017

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

Proverbs 15:30

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.

Proverbs 25:25

It’s been said that only the broken can become masters at mending.

“Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value to its scarcity.”

Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British lexicographer and writer

From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.

Proverbs 12:14

“The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British lexicographer and writer

The human body has a remarkable quirk: Just pat a man on the back and watch his head begin to swell!

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Mark Twain

“I have yet to find a man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit on criticism.”

Charles Schwab (1862-1939) American industrialist

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

Sir James M. Barrie (1860-1937), Scottish dramatist and novelist

There’s an account in Old Testament, that one time, after God delivered Israel from the hands of the Philistines, Samuel the prophet took up a large commemorative stone which he called “Ebenezer”. In my study at home I have a large “Ebenezer” stone which I sometimes use as a door stop, and on which I have inscribed the words from 1 Samuel 7v12: “EBENEZER: Thus far has the LORD helped us.” This verse helps me not to doubt the Lord, but to trust him and remember all the times he has guided and helped and answered prayers.

R. Ian Seymour

We should spend as much time thanking God for answered prayer as we did pleading for it!

Praise only works with three types of people; men, women and children.

“When someone does something well, applaud them. In doing so, you’ll make at least two people happy.” – Samuel Goldwyn

“He who praises everybody praises nobody.”

Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Put people up not down.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British Prime Minister

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… Let us encourage one another – and all the more as we see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:22, 25b

Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5