Encouragement

DARE TO BE A BLESSING IN THESE DARK TIMES

(November 29, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share …

It seems so obvious to many that we live in dark times, depressing days because again and again we hear of the latest sad news. And not just more about war between Russia and Ukraine, uncertainty about China and north Korea’s intentions, covid and other health threats, rising anti-Semitism, increasing crime… but now we learn more and more that kids – mere teenagers – are hitting the headlines as the cause of serious crimes,  and that youngsters are longing for help from someone from a Peer Chat type group.

Yes, some good news does come through that we’re glad to hear… huge drug bust, some new medicine breakthrough, our favourite footy team or other sports star winning. Or something that makes us smile like cute new born babies, or a happy well-presented TV show such as Better Homes and Gardens.

But… there is a darkness hanging around many individuals and it is so evident that many people need encouragement, even a meaningful thank you!

Even some in ministry will openly admit they’re troubled, that although they’ll readily confess God is still on the throne, something has happened that has ‘got to them.’ Some uncertainty, lack of assurance, disappointment, illness, something they can’t put their finger on… and they’re feeling low in spirit.

Everyoneneeds encouragement at times! Our blog is called Encouragement and we would encourage every Christian to be an encourager!

Friendship
Proverbs 12:25NLT reads, ‘Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.’ 

  • Paul knew that… he was a great encourager as he spread the gospel, and taught churches. A good example is 1Thessalonians 2:11-12Mge, ‘… we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own  children,  encouraging…’
  • Acts 20:2Mge is another: ‘Travelling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits…
  • Guess what he was asked for in Antioch synagogue on arrival? ‘…do you have anything you want to say? A word of encouragement, perhaps?’ (Acts 13:15Mge).

Encouragement here is paraklēsisto comfort, console, exhort. A major part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry – in John 14:16,26, 15:26 and 16:7MKJV Jesus referred to Him as the Comforter. Other versions name Him helper, counsellor or advocate. We particularly like what the Message calls Him… the Friend.

And what does a good friend do when someone is ‘going through the mill’ – experiencing harrowing times? Reaches out to comfort! And when they do, the troubled friend is usually blessed as a sense of relief wafts over them. No wonder comfort basically means ‘a pleasant feeling of being relaxed and free from pain.’

Encouragement
Dark times have always been around in one form or another, hence encouragement has always been a joy to hear! We Christians need to know that in this current dark time, we can bless individuals with a comforting word that even goes beyond the natural response to exhort someone with a heavy heart.

1 Corinthians 12: 6-10 lists nine supernatural gifts of the Spirit that Paul wrote about. In outworking, three spoken gifts link together… words of prophecy, wisdom and knowledge. The word gift itself is charisma… indicating a divine gratuity, that many times may not only be a verbal blessing but a deliverance from some danger.

Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 14:3 that ‘… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.’ In simple terms, biblical prophecy is a word that comes from God and we speak it to someone for their benefit… and often about something about which we couldn’t possibly know.

Just recently we were counselling – consoling – some pastors who were going through a dark patch and Maureen shared an incident that happened many years ago when we were ministering in a Baptist church. Praying with those who had responded to the altar call, she was strongly laid to approach a particular lady who appeared lonely and harassed.

She looked at this person for a few moments, sensing that the lady needed to hear something from God… but what? Then Maureen said quietly and hesitantly, ‘I don’t know what this is about but all I’m sensing in my spirit is “Washing machine, washing machine, washing machine…”. Does that mean something to you?’

That lady gasped, then said in amazement, ‘Gosh! Why, all week I felt so depressed, all I could think of was putting my head in the washing machine!’

Maureen prayed over her and what joy filled her heart and mind to know that God cared so much for her to reveal that unusual scenario to a stranger. Her spirit had been lifted, freed… and she had indeed been strengthened with encouragement and comforted!

Back to those troubled pastors… we both shared other incidents of the goodness and supernatural of our loving God towards His children. And they were blessed and encouraged to soldier on for the kingdom!

Opportunities
No one is immune from troubles! Life is life and things go wrong for anyone! So let’s be aware of something important here… God can use this gift of encouragement to uplift strangers in the street as it were! Especially in these days when people don’t go to church as they used to.

We often talk about Jesus commanding ‘love thy neighbour’… but Christians can be as self-justifying as that Luke 10:29 ‘self-religious expert in the law’ who said, ‘And who is my neighbour?’

A neighbour can be some stranger in the very marketplace, someone who needs to know that God knows all about them and cares! Here’s an example…

At the back of an Asia bargain shop last week, Maureen spotted an item that she like to check – but it was way up high on a top shelf. As no assistant was around I asked a tallish lady nearby to reach up for it, which she willingly did.

I thanked her, and she commented that it was the right thing to do. So I thanked you again and as we started to move to the checkout, I added, ‘God bless you’ to which she smiled and thanked me.

As I turned to leave, suddenly I was led to turn back to this stranger and move in a prophetic word that included wisdom and knowledge. No one else was in that narrow isle so I did not embarrass her in any way.

Her face shone brightly as she listened to my quiet, assuring voice. Yes it was me speaking, but it was the blesses Holy Spirit directing me. As I continued encouraging her, the lady paused me, and said softly as she smiled widely, ‘Oh, you going to make me cry.’ Then I completed God’s encouragement for her.

As she thanked me, I added, ‘Now you know I’m a stranger. Only the Lord could have known all that about you and those circumstances and needs.’ She smiled again and nodded ‘I know.’ And there in that marketplace outside of any church, we chatted about Almighty God.

All that does not give all glory to me, but to the Lord! He set it up… our need was a material one, God used it to give a spiritual blessing to that dear lady!

So many need God in dark times that can cloud our thinking! May we take every opportunity to share Jesus!

Openings
Some words of that Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh hymn come to mind…
‘People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.’

In keeping with what we’ve shared above, that open door to God could come about because you too dare to be a spiritual blessing, especially supernatural encouraging word, to some stranger in your local church or local marketplace. If they don’t know the Lord, the opening is there to share!

Dr William Barclay wrote of the Holy Spirit as the one who enables us ‘to stand up to the opposing forces, to cope with life and to conquer life.’ That the Holy Spirit is ‘none other than the presence and the power of the risen Christ.’ (New Testament Words).

We are not alone when such a key is with us! Let’s be bold, daring! Who knows where the role we play in someone’s life can lead? All glory goes to God!

________________________________________

Dr Robert and Pastor Maureen McQuillan’s links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook

________________________________________

‘HELP! I FEEL I’M FALLING OFF THE EDGE OF A CLIFF…’

(November 22, 2022) Robert McQuillan shares encouragingly…

There’s an old joke about ‘Joe’… he’s strolling along a cliff edge one dark night. Suddenly he slips and falls over hurtling down towards the ocean way below. Somehow he manages to grab a thinnish tree branch jutting out from the cliff side… but although his plunge is halted, that branch begins to loosen ever so slowly.

Help’ Joe yells, hoping that someone else is coming along the clifftop. No response and he calls again, louder and more panicky. Silence. The branch loosens more. Yet another ‘Help’ but weaker this time. In desperation Joe somehow screams, ‘Is anybody there?’ carelessly adding, ‘OMG!’

About to give into certain death, Joe hears a soft voice say gently, ‘Yes? I’m here, Joe. What can I do?’ and although he can’t see up over the clifftop, calls, ‘Help me… please!’

‘Okay, Joe’ hears. ‘Just let go and trust me. You’ll be okay. I’ll catch you, Joe.’ The endangered, bewildered Joe is amazed! How does this stranger know my name? Let go and he’ll catch me? He’s crazy… how could he possibly save me when he’s up there? Hesitantly he mutters, ‘Er… let go and you’ll catch me?’ The response is a quiet ‘Yes, Joe.’ The branch loosens further and Joe, panicking more, asks, ‘Who is that? I can’t see you!’

Astounded, Joe hears the soft voice reply, ‘Why, it’s me… God. You did call me, didn’t you, Joe? Now let go and I’ll catch you in my arms.’

(more…)

YOUR MOURNING WILL TURN INTO JOY!

(November 18, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj encourages troubled hearts…

During times of adversity, when we ask friends or doctors for counsel, they may console us by saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be all right.’  Comforting words… but we can receive even greater comfort from God!

But, when we experience times of sorrow, pain and affliction, and our problems multiply, we can lose hope.

  • We shouldn’t… but it can happen.
  • If we’re not clear about God’s leading in our lives, we can worry much.
  • Contemplating some sorrowful event, we could wrongly think, ‘Has this happened without God’s knowledge?’ 

We must remember that nothing happens in our lives without God knowing! If we trust Him, our present sorrow will surely be turned into joy!

So don’t be afraid!
Jesus spoke about sorrow and weeping in John 16, adding in verse 20, ‘… your sorrow will be turned into joy.’ He also promised in Matthew 5:4, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’

We might think that blessed people are those who enjoy all sorts of material comforts. But the Lord says that even those who mourn are blessed! He who knows everything, knows that He can turn our mourning into joy!

Sorrows may arise due to unemployment, sickness, lack of money, problems at work or in the family, worries about the future, and so on. Whatever our sorrow, the Lord says that all of us who pass through such difficult times are blessed and that we shall be comforted, difficult situations being turn into joyful ones.

Although promised this a long time ago, this is still relevant today! Henceforth be happy and rejoice. ‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time’ declares 1 Peter 5:6.

(more…)

WHY YOU CAN’T IGNORE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

(October 31, 2022) America’s Mercy Health releases good info each month as part of their concern for everyone in showing the compassion of Jesus, such as the following…

Healthy living? People often de-prioritise their mental health, and it can have serious consequences.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and really the two go hand in hand. Finding ways to prioritise your mental health is part of a healthy lifestyle.

Why is good mental health important?
The term ‘mental health’ is often linked to specific disorders such as depression. However, mental health covers so much more…

Stress, anxiety, anger and frustration are emotions everyone experiences and are directly tied to their mental well-being. Also, stress and depression have been shown to tax the immune system.  

(more…)

‘… AND A KIND WORD’

(October 17, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan drop a hint…

In the midst of all that’s bad in our world or on the local scene, our everyday living, our seeking to achieve whatever we’re led to aim for – despite sicknesses, heartbreaks – or whatever is bugging us, hindering us, strife  that causes us to feel low, there’s one thing that always perks us up!

What, you wonder, could that be? Just three little words… so meaning and powerful – A kind word.

Thankyous
Such  encouragement may only be a simple thank you… which we were parent-taught to say when someone gave us something, or did something for us.

Acts of kindness and thankyous and encouragements are often missing today! For example, on purchasing a very inexpensive 2023 dairy this morning we said a meaningful thankyou at checkout. The young clerk had been smiling but stopped in surprise. ‘Too many customers forget to say that’ he nodded sheepishly.

(more…)

WISE PARENTS – WAYWARD CHILDREN

(October 13, 2022) Maureen McQuillan shares good advice…

Wayward children!

I know, I know… Psalm 127:3 says children are the blessing of God in that they are an inheritance from Him. ‘Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him’ (NLT). But… how they can cause parents trouble at times!

Worries
Some heartbroken parents shared with me recently that their child is an adult and, naturally, they have no control over them. Now they don’t want to tyrannically control their child… but, being good parents, want the best for their ‘inheritance’ regarding certain situations. Unfortunately the ‘child’ won’t be counselled by them!

I won’t go into a long list of things that are troubling these particular parents. However, some of you will relate to the following short list –

  • Don’t honour God as you brought them up to do.
  • Stopped going to church.
  • Into drugs and mixing with the wrong company.
  • Has a bad love relationship
  • Mentally ill but won’t seek good counsel.
  • Physically unwell, and you’ve only learned second-hand.
  • Under a cloud of darkness and depression.
  • Isn’t sharing if proper medications are being taken or not.
  • Won’t talk to you.
Read more: WISE PARENTS – WAYWARD CHILDREN

Am I right in saying this list goes on, worried parents? That when you try talking to your kids, they just won’t listen, may even abruptly shut you up!

Workaround
Oh, I could give some workaround ideas. But… what if I agree with them, outrightly saying, You shut up.’ You’re probably reacting in horror, so let me explain how I see it.

You’ve been good to your kids, looking after them through all those trying years of growing up into adulthood;  through sicknesses, insecurities, job-hunting, opposite partner seeking.

And, as a Christian parent, you taught them to ‘honour their neighbours’ and seniors; always tell the truth; make good decisions about everything; know what sin is and that God forgives; pray and trust the Lord; know Him personally. You even taken them to church with you, bought them Bibles at an early age, and encouraged learning more about Jesus.

But they’re no longer children! Perhaps they’re away from home, have back-slain somewhat. And the biggest disappointment you’re presently facing is that they’re no longer that obedient little boy or girl you once could cuddle and share with, giving warnings and good wholesome advice!

And here’s the heart of what I mean if I’d abruptly said, ‘You shut up’… you have already done all the right things, given them good life-instructions, taught them how to make great decisions, and most importantly to trust the Lord.

So then… if they’re not listening to you, dear parent, instead of being downcast yourself, considered this: What can you say that’s new to them? They’ve heard it all before from you! And because they’ve made mistakes, they know exactly what you’ll say and won’t want to hear it all again! They’ll be thinking you’re judging, not caring.

Oh, you might be able to get them listening a little – and of course you should try! But ultimately they have to make that right choice. The ball is in their court now! From your own experiences or from helping others, you know what they should be doing – or not doing. They need to know themselves, and make their own decisions!

But don’t turn your back on them! Lovingly assure them that you’ll always be there for them, no matter what. That your door is always open, that they’ll always be yours. That you’ll always be thinking of them… and caring, loving.

You don’t necessarily have to add that you’ll be praying for them… they already know that! Do keep loving them, remember birthdates and special days. Above all, believe that the Holy Spirit will get through to them… He is the only source to getting them to come to their senses!

Wisdom
When troubled parents asked my help recently about their child, a wasteful adult, I shared the above. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit quickened to me wise principles that Jesus taught about  a similar situation.

Remember Luke 15 – ‘the lost chapter’? To me it’s as if beyond the salvation message here, Jesus tells a parable of a wise parent and a wastrel child.

Preachers, even non-Christians, refer to ‘the parable of the prodigal son.’ What is overlooked is that it is also known as the Parable of the Lost Son (the heading in my 1992 NIV)and, more importantly, the Parable of the Forgiving Father! In keeping with what I’ve shared above, I’ll call it the Parable of the Wise Parent.

Actually the whole chapter is about losses – sheep, silver and son – bringing great joy when found. Let’s consider the son and his parent…

1. Wilful Child – Wise Parent
Verses 11-12 tell of a witless son demanding what was not his to ask for: he was a second son and legally and culturally would only receive his inheritance after his father’s death, the first son having received his.

His father could have denied him, but instead allowed his wayward son to have what he wanted. I have no doubt that this parent was deeply upset… but he lets it all go. Sure there was much he could have said, but obviously saw the determination in his son’s attitude and this parent ‘shut up’ as it were. No doubt he realised his son had to learn some lessons the hard way.

Verses 13-14 tells us this wayward son would lose everything on wild living. Message Bible calls him a wastrel ‘… undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had.’ 

A severe famine hit the country he moved to and, moneyless, suddenly he’s in big trouble! He, a Jew, even hires himself to feed pigs and was so hungry he would have eaten swine food! But no-one offered him a thing. He’s trapped!

Jesus tells of the turning point in his wasted life… ‘He came to his senses’ (v17). I like how the NIRV puts it ‘… he began to think clearly again.’ Can you trust God that your wayward kids will come to their senses?

Let’s talk about this wilful son’s warm-hearted dad.

2. Wanderlust Child – Waiting Parent
Having sorted things out in his own mind, the wastrel son becomes a woeful one. He admits he has faulted not only before his earthly father but, first and foremost, his heavenly Father, and determines to return to safety and security (v 17b-20a).

What an amazing scenario verse 20b paints! ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ 

How can I fully describe what I sense happened here? I can only put it this way…

  • His father hadn’t given up on his child (or on God, the only one who could do what he couldn’t): I like to think he’d always been looking for him, praying for him, caring for him and that’s why he saw and recognised him so quickly.
  • In the original language ‘A long way off’ means really distant… yet his dad saw him! Our heavenly Father sees us – all the way from his throne in heaven. God too is a waiting Father.
  • Before his son can say a word, his loving father doesn’t wait till his boy greets him with a meaningful embrace – he hugs and kisses his son! This is an affectionate embrace and when his boy tries to apologise, he’s cut short because his father is so happy he has returned.
  • As for the depth of this parent’s compassion… the Message Bible bests explains this almost unpronounceable Greek word (splagchnizomai) as ‘His heart pounding…’ Have you ever sensed the depths of God’s compassion for you? It’s an incredible sensation!
  • What compassion he had! He ran – that’s trekh’-o – to move hastily. If this son had been in a rush to leave, his dad is in a bigger rush to welcome him back!

3. Worthless Child – Welcoming Parent
This ever-so-warm greeting isn’t over!

The remaining verses of this chapter are a message in themselves. I’ll nutshell them by pointing out that this repentant child who admitted being unworthy is made worthy… by his parent!

Note the interruptive — dash in verse 21 of the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible): ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son—’ 

If you like he’s now told to ‘shut up.’ Note too the welcome his parent gives him… the best robe, ring, and footwear! Plus the best feast! Verse 24 sums it up – ‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.’ Message Bible calls it ‘a wonderful time.’

Wrap-up
There it is… what Jesus thought about wayward kids. Can you understand and accept this and be at ease, giving God time and doing our part – praying and expecting?

The heart of what I’ve written is this: At times no matter what wise advice we give to anyone, let alone our children, we can’t change them, can’t make them turn around – unless they decide to change.

And so there will be times when we have to shut up! We should back away slightly… still caring and praying especially for any wayward children we may have. And relying on the Holy Spirit to get through to them.

In all that Jesus taught here, He was emphasising His Father’s incredible, extensive, wide-ranging love.

Some scriptures about how wide, long, high, and deep is the Father’s love

  • ‘… the Father Himself loves you’ (John 16:27).
  • ‘… what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1).
  • ‘He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers’ (Malachi 4:6).

One last thing… in the end forgiveness is so important. This wise father didn’t condemningly comment on his wayward son’s faults. Neither does our heavenly Father when one asks forgiveness for sins committed! God is an encouraging Father, not a heart crusher!

__________________________________________
Pastor Maureen McQuillan’s link for questions and encouragements is
OnlinerConnect@gmail.com __________________________________________

BADLY NEEDED TODAY: GOD-AMBITIOUS, GOD-ORIENTED CHRISTIANS!

(October 05, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj shares about serving Jesus ambitiously and goal-orientally…

There are many people today who live with specific ambitions. As Christians we must not only have ambition in our worldly life, but also have specific ambitions in our spiritual life. One must have a strong spiritual foundation to lead a very special life.

If Christians have no spiritual ambition, they cannot lead a victorious life. James said that ‘Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do’ (James 1:8NLT).

If you want to have something special in your life, you must have good ambitions and set goals in your life to not change according to the times! Such people stay strong in the spiritual vision they have. The reality is that unless we are clear in what we believe, we cannot lead successful lives!

People who keep on changing their convictions can be compared to snakes that wriggle around. Only those who are steady in their convictions can become great servants of Christ and live as channels of blessings to others. Ambition in a goal-oriented person is greater than their life itself.

(more…)

GOD IS A BIG GOD… SO KEEP IT SIMPLE

(September 27, 2022) Maureen McQuillan shares and challenges…

Okay, Robert wrote about me this month… Now I’ll write about him!

In his article Robert admitted to doing something stupid. Here’s another example… I needed a towel rail fitted upstairs. A simple towel rail, mind you, but a frustrated Robert (I know… he’s human!) was having difficulty with this job and, a bit edgy, finally gave up.

Finding me downstairs, he reported – no, moaned: ‘How am I ever going to get those two rails into their holding brackets and fitted to the wall! I’ve followed the instructions… there’s no leeway I can manipulate everything into position.’ 

God assists
Instantly I saw the simplicity of the solution to his ‘problem.’ (Or rather God the Holy Spirit was assisting by showing me the answer, one which Robert had missed). And so I casually shared it with him.

Well, Robert just stared at me. I, naturally, didn’t say a thing! Then, wordless, he snucked off back upstairs. A few minutes later he was back with me all smiles and happy, job completed. I smiled too and we laughed at the simplicity of it all.

(more…)

PROBLEMS!

(September 24, 2022) Robert McQuillan shares a recent incident… er…problem.

Problem – situation, person, or thing that needs attention and needs to be dealt with or solved (Cambridge Dictionary).

A few weeks back I had a problem, to me a big problem!

Don’t exactly know how it happened, exactly what happened… but suddenly it had and I was rocked for a moment! Blood was flowing unstopped from the long slice in my middle right finger. No pain but unstoppable bleeding!

Peace
I had been feeling so relaxed after encouraging a friend on the phone. My mobile had buzzed when I upstairs about to change into my pyjamas and intending to return to Maureen to enjoy some old (Yes, those who know me have guessed it!) John Wayne DVD before retiring for the night. (No doubt Maureen would sighingly comment, ‘Not John Wayne… again.’ But, bless her, agree to watch).

Anyway, I took the call, sitting on the edge of the bed to relax as I listened to my friend’s concerns… and to drink from a cold glass of juice that I had with me, as our conversation went on.

I spent some time encouraging the caller, giving wise advice and counsel – and biblical explanations and examples. Then I prayed and he had felt becalmed and released and we’d said goodnight. And I stepped into the ensuite to place the now empty, heavy glass on the vanity bench top.

Panic
I was feeling quite at ease – maybe I was feeling too at ease with myself having been used by the Holy Spirit to help someone at a late hour and wasn’t watching what I was really doing– I don’t know. But suddenly I was aware of the noise of breaking glass – a resounding racket to me – and that I was only placing half a glass on the benchtop, that broken glass was ‘everywhere’ on the floor at my feet and blood was running from my finger!

(more…)

SLAVERY TO SERVANTSHIP TO SUCCESS

(September 15, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj shares about a Godly leader and challenges us whether Christian churchgoer or leader…

After Moses’ death, Joshua became leader of Israel in his place. Joshua 1:1 refers to him as a mere servant of Moses, but Joshua 24:29 says that he was a servant of the Lord!

God’s timing
God permitted Joshua to be the servant of another and later made him His own. Joshua means ‘The Lord is salvation’ and his mission in life was to possess the land which the Lord promised the Israelites.

Joshua was not born into a rich family – he was born to a slave in Egypt. But God exalted him when he was eighty years-old and gave him leadership authority and, as it were, the keys to heaven!

Out of a burning bush God had called Moses. When Saul was on his way to Damascus, he heard a voice calling, ‘Saul, Saul…’ Joshua was neither called by name nor had any vision or sign. But God made him assistant of Moses who taught him about the Lord, and he received God’s power through listening to an old man, and being obedient to him.

(more…)