A Former Atheist Looks at the Attributes of God

My newest ebook is now available on Kindle. In fact, it’s FREE from September 6-8, so get yourself a copy!

Just search for Kim Endraske on Amazon. 😀 One of the blessings of an unusual name!

I’m still working on getting it in paperback form – hopefully it will be ready soon!

God transformed me from an Evangelical Atheist to Evangelical Christian when I was 21 years old. Believing that God existed was step one … truly knowing God was step two.

Have you ever wished that someone would clearly and simply explain to you what God is like?

Do you want to know the self-existent and self-sufficient, infinite and eternal, immutable and omniscient, all-wise and all-powerful, transcendent and omnipresent, good and faithful and loving and merciful and sovereign and holy God?

As a new Christian, I needed someone to help me to know God. “A Former Atheist Looks at the Attributes of God” does just that.

I am certain that the more you know God, the more you will love and trust Him.

This book is based on the notes for an online study I led with a group of international women. It includes many scripture passages in English as well as Chinese.

Each chapter includes a variety of self-reflection and discussion questions which I hope will be used for your personal study or your own small group study!

May God be glorified as we know Him more fully and accurately.

May our passion to make Him known to the ends of the earth grow as we know God more.

May the Lord Jesus shine brightly as we better know who He is and what He has done for us.

Glow in the Dark

Jesus is the true light of the world (John 8:12, John 12:46). He is the source of all that is good and light.

But the Bible also says that, as His children, we are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16)

It reminds me of the moon. The moon cannot make its own light. The moon reflects the light from the sun. Likewise, I shine because God lives in me and His light shines from me.

I want to be a spotlight – pointing people to Jesus, the source of the light coming from me 👉 ✝️

“Glow In The Dark” by Jason Gray

Sometimes the world feels like a mess
Full of drama, full of stress
And life puts a fist right in your ribs
You can hide if you choose to
And no one would even blame you
Or you can let them see how you deal with it

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

Don’t be ashamed of your past
If you’re shattered like a piece of glass
The more broke you are the more the light gets through
Show your wounds and your flaws
Show them why you still need the cross
Let them see the work He’s doing in you

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark
Glow in the dark

The Knowledge of the Holy – God is Transcendent and Omnipresent (Chapters 13-14)

I’m midway through a study of the classic Christian book, The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer. I’m studying it online with some friends in Asia. These are my notes from week 9. I hope they will bless you. If you would like to join us, please send me a message!

In the past two months, we have already discussed that God is eternal, unchanging, all-knowing, all-wise and omnipotent.

Today we will be studying chapters 13 and 14 of “The Knowledge of the Holy,” where A.W. Tozer teaches that God is transcendent and omnipresent. How wonderful to study God’s transcendence and omnipresence on the same day!

God is transcendent. The word “transcend” reminds me of the more common words “ascend” and “descend.” Ascend (a+scend) means to climb up, while descend (de+scend) means to go down. We can ascend and descend ladders or stairs or mountains. 

In Genesis 28:12, Jacob saw a vision of angels ascending and descending on a ladder, and in John 1:51, Jesus tells Nathanael that he will see heaven opened and see angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

But transcend means “to rise above or go beyond, to exceed.” A man or a book or a movie might transcend other men or books or movies, yet there will always be a better man, or a better book, or a better movie.

  • We might think of a goldfish as transcending a single cell amoeba.
  • We might think of a dolphin as transcending a goldfish.
  • We might think of young boy transcending a dolphin.
  • And a grown man transcends a young boy.
  • Surely the glory of an angel transcends the glory of a man.

But the gap between a single cell amoeba and an angel is small compared to the gap between angels and the Almighty God. Even the most wise, powerful, glorious angel is still a created being. God created the amoeba, the goldfish, the dolphin, the man, and the angel. God designed them in His own creative mind. God created each of them for His purposes. All of these created things are “that-which-is-not-God and can never be God.”

Tozer wrote, God is “exalted far above the created universe.” To exalt means to lift high, to praise, to glorify. In our modern world, people often praise and lift high worldly things.

Who are some people or what are some things that people today wrongly exalt?

God is the only one worthy to be exalted. God is the only one who is worthy of worship and praise. Before building a temple for the Lord, King Solomon said,

“The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods.
But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him?
Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (2 Chronicles 2:5-6 ESV)

“我所要建造的殿宇甚大;因为我们的 神至大,超乎诸神。
天和天上的天,尚且不足他居住的,谁能为他建造殿宇呢?我是谁?
能为他建造殿宇吗?不过在他面前烧香而已。” 历代志下 2:5-6

When Solomon had finished the temple, he worshipped the Lord before all the people of Israel, saying,

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven
cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV)

“神果真住在地上吗?看哪,天和天上的天尚且不足你居住的,何况我所建的这殿呢?”列王纪上 8:27

In our pride, we want God to fit into a little box. We want to live as if God is merely a man, limited in His power, limited in His knowledge, living far away and unconcerned with our lives.

Satan tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, telling her to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan told Eve that if ate the fruit, her “eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) We, too, want to be “like God.” But none of us can truly be like God, because God is transcendent.

Only God is perfectly transcendent. God rises above everyone and everything. God transcends space and time. God transcends wisdom and knowledge. As His faithful children, we must humble ourselves and worship Him.

Think of this – this Almighty, Eternal, Unchanging, Self-existent, Self-sustaining God hears our prayers!

In Psalm 34, Solomon’s father, King David, worshipped God saying,

“My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!”

Psalm 34:2-3

How can you praise and exalt God today? Let’s pause right now to praise and exalt God together!

This almighty, eternal, unchanging, self-existent, self-sufficient, transcendent God is also close and personal. God is omnipresent. Omni- means “all,” and “present” means “here, close to, next to.”

No matter where you go – in the middle of the greatest desert, at the top of the most remote mountain peak, at the deepest depth of the ocean, to the farthest reach of outer space – God is there. God is with me here in my little town in America and God is also with you in your big city on the other side the globe.

As Tozer writes, “there is no place in heaven or earth or hell where men may hide from His presence.”

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)


‘我往哪里去躲避你的灵? 我往哪里逃、躲避你的面? 我若升到天上,你在那里;
我若在阴间下榻,你也在那里。 我若展开清晨的翅膀,飞 到海极居住,
就是在那里,你的手必引导我; 你的右手也必扶持我。” 诗篇 139:7-10

“The knowledge that we are never alone
calms the troubled sea of our lives
and speaks peace to our souls.”

A.W. Tozer – The Knowledge of the Holy – Chapter 14

Let’s sing and pray together.

A simple, but powerful, way to read through the Bible – John 1

Let me share with you one simple way that I’ve found to really personalize and apply the scripture that I’m reading that day.

Read through the Bible, one book at a time, one chapter (or a portion of a chapter) each day. Each day, choose one specific verse that really speaks to you that day and use that verse to write out a prayer.

Today I read through John 1 and chose John 1:34 for my verse of the day.

“And I have seen and borne witness
that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:34

I wrote this prayer based on that chapter and verse.

Father, thank You for making Yourself visible so that we can be Your witnesses. Thank you for the witnesses who came before me, for John the Baptist who told his disciple Andrew who told his brother Peter, and for Philip who told his friend Nathanael. Thank you for those who have told me their stories, testifying to the realness of God! I pray that You would make me Your faithful witness. Give me the wisdom and the words to testify to the TRUTH of what I have seen and heard. I pray that my children and my husband and those that I’m discipling would be Your faithful witnesses, too, not giving way to fear, not being ashamed of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. Amen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how this worked for you. How do you study the Bible every day?

FREE Book — January 12 only

In celebration of my birthday, I am giving away FREE copies of my book on Kindle, “God is Real: The Eyewitness Testimony of a Former Atheist.”

Click here to go directly to the link Amazon, or search for my name Kim Endraske on Amazon. 😊

The paperback copy is also available for less than $7 if you prefer.

I’d appreciate you sharing the good news with your friends today!

That’s My King! Do you know Him?

“That’s My King” by S. M. Lockridge

I wonder if you know Him?
Do you know my King?

The Bible says
He’s the King of the Jews
He’s the King of Israel
He’s the King of Righteousness
He’s the King of the Ages
He’s the King of Heaven
He’s the King of Glory
He’s the King of Kings
and He is the Lord of Lords

Now that’s my King!

No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing
No means of measure can define His limitless love
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply

He’s enduringly strong
He’s eternally steadfast
He’s immortally graceful
He’s imperially powerful
He’s impartially merciful

That’s my King!

He’s God’s Son
He’s the sinners’ Saviour
He’s the centerpiece of civilization
He’s unparalleled
He’s unprecedented
He’s pre-eminent
He’s the loftiest idea in literature
He’s the fundamental doctrine in true theology
He’s the miracle of the age
He’s the superlative of everything good
He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously
He supplies strength for the weak
He’s available for the tempted and the tried
He sympathizes and He saves
He heals the sick
He cleansed the lepers
He forgives sinners
He delivers the captives
He defends the feeble
He blesses the young
He serves the unfortunate
He regards the aged
He rewards the diligent
And He beautifies the meek

Do you know Him?
Do you know my King?

My King is the key of knowledge
He’s the wellspring of wisdom
He’s the doorway of deliverance
He’s the gateway of glory
He’s the pathway of peace
He’s the roadway of righteousness
He’s the highway of holiness
His promise is sure
His life is matchless
His goodness is limitless
His mercy is everlasting
His love never changes
His word is enough
His grace is sufficient
His reign is righteous
His yoke is easy
and His burden is light

Do you know Him?

He’s incomprehensible
He’s invincible
He’s irresistible
I’m trying to tell you
The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him
Let alone a man explain Him

You can’t get Him out of your mind
You can’t outlive Him
And you can’t live without Him

The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him
but they found out they couldn’t stop Him
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree
And Herod couldn’t kill Him
Death couldn’t handle Him
And the grave couldn’t hold Him

That’s my King!

He always has been
And He always will be
I’m talking about
He had no predecessor
and He’ll have no successor
There was nobody before Him
and there’ll be nobody after Him
You can’t impeach Him
and He’s not going to resign

That’s my King!

Do you know Him?

He’s the Master of the Mighty
He’s the Captain of the Conquerors
He’s the Head of the Heroes
He’s the Leader of the Legislatures
He’s the Overseer of the Overcomers
He’s the Governor of the Governors
He’s the Prince of Princes
He’s the King of Kings
And He’s the Lord of Lords

That’s my KING!

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13 KJV)

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 KJV)

A Few Good Friends

I’m on Day 6 of a 40 Day Facebook fast. I’m using a devotional by Wendy Speake called “The 40-Day Social Media Fast.” Today’s devotional was entitled, “A Few Good Friends” and it hit me right between the eyes.

I spent most of my teenage years as an outsider. As a brainiac and an atheist, though I wanted to fit in, I didn’t.

As an adult and born again follower of Jesus, I never want others to feel left out, like I was.

I cast my net wide.

I love everyone.

I invite everyone.

Any age, any skin color, any religion, any economic level, whatever – I love you all.

I love to greet the new people who wander nervously into church. I love to seek out the person sitting in the corner at a party. I love to make the newcomer and the outsider feel appreciated and valued.

8 or 80, male or female, made up or beat up, I want to be your friend.

The struggle for me is that love isn’t always reciprocated, even in the family of Christ. Sometimes I’m too serious, too friendly, too deep, too religious, too loud, too … whatever. And it still hurts me more deeply than I wish it did. 😰

I love getting likes and shares on my FB feed (and my blog). I purposely share some fun family photos and silly memes on my Facebook feed, just so people don’t think I’m too “religious” or too “deep.”

The most personal things I write, which are usually both deep and religious, don’t garner nearly so many likes or shares, but I keep on writing them because that’s how God made me. I think these writings are some of the works that God has prepared for me to do, that God has uniquely designed me to write. (Ephesians 2:10)

Thanks to each of you for being on this journey with me. Whether you’re one of my 3 special friends or whether we’ve never even met, I love you and I want you to know Jesus.

Your love or disdain for me does not change my value in my Father’s eyes. Whether you like my post or not, Jesus likes me. In fact, Jesus died for me, and His approval is all that really matters. ❤

“We don’t need everyone to like us, love us, invite us, or include us. In God’s economy, two or three faithful friends make for great wealth.”

Wendy Speake, The 40-Day Social Media Fast

What does God value?

This is my lesson for this week. May it bless many and bear fruit to the glory of Jesus.

I am the younger of two children. I have only one sister. She is older than me. Her name is Kristan.

Growing up, I was always competing with Kristan. I never felt like I was as good as her. She was a quiet girl who didn’t cause much trouble. I always thought she was prettier than me. She was taller than me – and she still is. She was an excellent piano player while I struggled through my piano lessons.

Because I felt like she was better than me in so many ways, I tried to be better than her in other ways. I showed off by being talkative, friendly, outspoken, and loud. I earned awards in science fairs and debate competitions. I went to a special school for the top students in my city, yet I still felt like I was in her shadow.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt like you weren’t as good, as smart, or as pretty as them?

Last week we talked about what people like to share on social media like WeChat and Facebook.

I think one reason why people like sharing on social media is because they want people to praise them. We all want people to think we’re smart, beautiful, kind, and good. We all want people’s praise.

Now that I am an adult, I still find myself comparing my strengths to others’ weaknesses. I like to share the highlights of my week when my family did something special. I don’t share the moments when I got mad at my husband. I don’t share when my house was a mess and I served frozen pizzas for dinner. I don’t share when I spent 2 hours scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. I want to show the good things my kids or my husband or I did. I still want so much for people to praise and value me. This is still a struggle for me.

How about you?

I want to show you a short video of a young man with Down Syndrome speaking at a meeting for some American government leaders. While you’re watching this video, I want you to think about how you feel watching this young man and how you would feel if he was your son.


You can watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/vtS91Jd5mac

If you were this young man’s mom, would you be proud to call him your son? Why? Why not?

Now let’s think about our own families. If you had a son, would you value him more if he was the top student in his Chinese class? What if he won a track meet or an English competition? What would he have to do to make you proud?

What about God? What does God value? What makes God proud? To find an answer, let’s consider the story of the shepherd boy David who grew up to be the King of Israel. The first king of Israel, King Saul, had disobeyed God and God was looking for a new man to be king of Israel. God sent His prophet Samuel to a man named Jesse to find a new king from one of Jesse’s sons. When Jesse’s first son arrived, Samuel thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed,” but Samuel was wrong.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

但耶和华对撒母耳说:“不要看他的外貌和他高大的身材,因为我不拣选他。
耶和华看人不像人看人,人是看外表,耶和华是看内心。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God had chosen Jesse’s youngest son who was out in the field caring for the sheep. As we are told in Acts 13:22, God had chosen David, the son of Jesse, because he was a man after God’s own heart who would do everything God wanted him to do.

Does that mean that David never sinned? Does that mean that David never broke God’s laws? No, it doesn’t. In fact, David committed adultery with a married woman and had her husband killed. Yet, David was repentant over his sin. David grieved over his sin and turned to God for forgiveness. David held fast to God and had faith in God even when life was very hard.

So, what exactly is in a man’s heart which makes God value him?

What do you think, sisters? What makes a person worthy to be called God’s child?

God created each and every person in His very own image. Every single person ever made was created in the image of God – no matter their skin color, no matter their wealth, no matter their intelligence or ability level, no matter how much money they have. Every single person has value in the sight of God because every single person is created in the image of God.

But not everyone is God’s child.

Jesus “came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:10-13)

The only thing that can make you God’s child is faith, faith in Jesus Christ, the only Son of our Heavenly Father God. This alone is what makes you worthy. Faith is the greatest value.

And even this faith is a gift, as we read in Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

As you trust in God, then He will strengthen you and guide you to do great things for Him. He will change you, grow you and make you more like His Son as you trust in Him.

Like I once worked so hard to be better than my sister, when I became a Christian, I worked so hard to earn God’s love. But I was wrong. There was nothing I could do to deserve God’s love.

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD
who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

耶和华这样说:“智慧人不可夸耀自己的智慧,勇士不可夸耀自己的勇力,财主不可夸耀自己的财富。
夸口的却要因了解我,认识我而夸口;认识我是耶和华,我在地上施行慈爱、
公正、公义;因为我喜悦这些事。”这是耶和华的宣告。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness. Yes, He does. And He wants us to do these things, too, but He wants us to do them by faith. He wants us to obey Him by faith.

Jesus chose the intellectual Paul, a Jewish Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians, to share the good news of salvation with the lost. But Jesus also chose four common fishermen like Peter to spread the gospel. Does Jesus love the intellectual Paul more than simple Peter? No.

As Paul wrote in the beginning of his letter to the church in Corinth,

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29
)

弟兄们,你们想想,你们这些蒙召的,按人“人”或译:
“世上的标准”、“世界的标准”来看有智慧的不多,有权势的不多,出身尊贵的也不多。
但是 神却拣选了世上愚笨的,使那些有智慧的羞愧。他也拣选了世上软弱的,使那些刚强的羞愧。
他也拣选了世上卑贱的和被人轻视的,以及算不得甚么的,为了要废弃那些自以为是的,
使所有的人在 神面前都不能自夸。

Do you think if your child got better grades or your husband had a better job, then God would love you more?

Do you think that if you were prettier or smarter or richer, then God would love you?

What if you memorized more Bible verses or prayed more or went to church more often, then would you be worthy of God’s love?

What if you gave all you owned to the poor or gave up your life as a martyr for Christ, then would you finally be valuable to God? (See 1 Corinthians 13 for more on this!)

Look at these pictures of my husband and my son in our backyard. My husband is much taller than my son when you look at them up close, but when you compare either of them to the height of the trees, they are both so tiny.

We may like to compare ourselves to one other, but when we compare ourselves to God, then we see how short we truly are. None of us are perfectly good, wise or holy. Only God. God loves you because He is God. He is your Creator, and He wants to be your Father. There is nothing you can say or do or think to make yourself worthy of His love.

In your own power,
you are unworthy and undeserving,
but in Christ Jesus you have infinite worth.

I don’t know whether you need to hear this because you need to be reminded not to show favoritism to your children or your coworkers or your friends, or because you need the reminder that you can’t earn God’s love, but I know that you need to hear this. 

When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. When God looks at you, He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, in your heart. Jesus Christ is who makes you worthy and valuable, completely worthy and infinitely valuable, and Jesus Christ is the truly the only one truly worthy of praise.

Let me encourage you to share this good news with someone else this week.

Encouraging Words

Last week I started teaching an international women’s group over the internet. I thought my notes from our lessons might be helpful to others, especially to international students of the Bible. Here are my notes from last Saturday. I chose to use the New Living Translation, rather than the English Standard Version like I usually use, because NLT is easier for those who are learning English as a second language. Feel free to share them or send me a private message!

Today I want to talk with you about encouraging words. Speaking encouraging words is something I would like to see within this women’s group, as well as in our homes, schools, communities, churches and jobs.

Ephesians 4:29b NLT,
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

 以 弗 所 書 4:29b  “却要适当地说造就人的好话,使听见的人得益处。”

Let’s work together on saying this Bible verse.

First, I want you to listen carefully while I say it.

  • Pay attention to how my voice rises and falls and how I put words together into phrases.
  • See how my hands and my voice tone help you to understand the meaning of the verse. Using hand motions and stressing words will help you to remember and understand the meaning of the verse.

Next, we will say this verse together.

Then, I will give each person a chance to try saying it by themselves.

Ephesians 4:29  “Let everything you say …. be good and helpful… so that
your words will be an encouragement …. to those who hear them.”

Now, let’s talk about the word ENCOURAGE. The word encourage comes from en + COURAGE…
“en” – to cause to have” + COURAGE!

In Matthew 14, we read about some of Jesus’s disciples who were on a boat in the middle of the night. There was a terrible storm, and the men were afraid. They were “terrified.” They were so scared because they were sitting in their boat far away from land in the middle of heavy waves in a storm.

Then, at 3 o’clock in the morning, Jesus walked out to them! When they saw Jesus walking on the water, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 

“Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Matthew 14:27

耶稣立刻对他们说:“放心吧!是我,不要怕。”  马太福音 14:27 CNVS

Let’s try saying that verse now. First, I will say it by myself. Pay attention to my voice pattern and pronunciation.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

Now, let’s try it together:

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

I’d like to give everyone who hasn’t spoken yet a chance to try it first.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

What do you think, “Take courage” means? Courage doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. Feeling afraid, feeling fear is a normal emotion that comes into your heart when you are facing a scary situation.

When you have courage, you are choosing to take heart, to overcome fear. Courage is choosing to do what is right, even when you feel afraid. Courage is choosing to say or do what you should even, when it’s scary.

Riding a chairlift
to the top of the Great Wall

Last year, my husband and I visited China for the first time. We stayed with a Chinese family that we had never met before. My husband and I don’t speak Chinese. It was scary to go to an unknown land, but God gave me courage through the Words of Scripture. I remembered when God called Abram to go to an unknown land. God promised that He would be with Abram and show him where to go.

While we were in China, we visited the Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu. Our friends got tickets for all of us to ride on a chair lift up to the Wall. I was so scared! I didn’t want to do it. My stomach was upset, and my hands were sweating, but my Chinese sister encouraged me with a sweet smile and kind words.

We, too, can help our friends, our husband and our children to have courage. We can help our coworkers and our students and even people we don’t know. We can help them by speaking encouraging words, by en-courage-ing them!

We can speak kind words, uplifting words, true words. We can remind them that God is WITH them, like Jesus said, “I am HERE!” We can remind them of God’s power and goodness. We can remind them that God has a special purpose for them.

I want this women’s group to encourage each other. We want to speak words of love, truth and kindness. We don’t want to cause others to fear, to discourage others!

Just as ENCOURAGE means to “give courage,” “to cause to take heart,” DISCOURAGE  (dis+courage)  means to “take away courage,” “to cause to lose heart!” Our words can either encourage others, or discourage others.

Don’t discourage anyone
who is making progress,
no matter how slow.

When I was a new believer in Jesus, I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I didn’t know that the book of John was in the Bible. I didn’t know who Paul or Peter were. I didn’t know how to look for a verse in the Bible using chapter and verse numbers.

My mother-in-law encouraged me. She helped me and was patient with me. Her encouraging words gave me courage to learn and study, rather than discouraging me by pointing out how little I knew.

We are all climbing English Mountain together. Some of us can speak and read English very well, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can all help each other to climb to the next peak. You can help the person who is farther down on the mountain.

We are also all climbing Bible Mountain together. Some of us have lots of Bible knowledge, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can also help each other to climb to the next peak. We can all help someone to climb to the next peak.

We can’t use a “chairlift” to reach the top of English Mountain or Bible Mountain. We all need to climb step by step, so let’s encourage one another as we do!

For more learning about encouragement, here are some Bible passages to read:

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25

“And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
Romans 15:4-7

2 Chronicles 30 is a great example of how the Lord encouraged the Israelites through Hezekiah’s encouragement.

These are written that you may believe

I remember when I was about 14 or 15 years old and I was at a summer camp. One day, I had a few minutes by myself and I was sitting out on this big, grassy field looking up at the sunny, blue sky with the trees were waving gently in the breeze and in my heart, I thought,

“God, if you’re real, please show yourself to me.”

You might think that’s a strange thing for a teenager to ask, but unfortunately, I didn’t think that God was real, and I was quite certain that my plea would go unheard.

When I didn’t hear a voice speak from heaven or see a lightning bolt strike the ground in front of me, I left that field that day still believing that God didn’t exist.

And yet, my friends, God WAS showing Himself to me. In fact, I believe that God was who caused me to make such a request in the first place. Like Paul wrote in Romans chapter 1, God was showing Himself to me (and to all mankind) in the things that He had made – the sun, the blue sky, the wind and even the trees.

Again and again for millennia God has sent prophets and witnesses to speak His Words, including John the Baptist as we read about in John 1, telling people that Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Messiah, the Lamb of God.

Again and again, God has faithfully manifested (made visible, shown) His glory so that mankind will be without excuse if they don’t believe in Him.

One way that God demonstrates His glory is through miraculous signs.

Right from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, God has shown Himself through miraculous signs. God has often given man signs in the sky to prove His glory and power! When God created the sun, moon and stars in Genesis 1:14, we read, “God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and nights.”

And again, in Genesis 9, after the worldwide flood, God put a rainbow in the sky to be a sign of His promise to never again destroy the earth by flood.

The Hebrew word for “sign” is “owth.” It can mean a signal, a distinguishing mark, a banner, a remembrance, a miraculous sign, an omen or a warning.

When God sent Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, God gave Moses the ability to perform miraculous signs to prove that God had sent him, SO THAT the Jewish people would believe Moses when he spoke to them. These signs included God causing Moses’s staff to turn into a snake and then back into a staff, as well as God causing his hand to be leprous and then healed, and even turning water into blood. (Exodus 4:6-9)

In today’s lesson, we read about the first of Jesus’s signs while He walked on the earth. This first sign was when Jesus turned water into wine. As John 2:11 says, this sign “manifested – MADE VISIBLE – His glory and His disciples believed in Him.” Again we see that signs are given to us by God that we would BELIEVE in Him, TRUST in Him, have FAITH that what He has promised is real – like Hebrews 11:1, that we would have assurance that the things we hope for, the things that we cannot see, are indeed REAL.

Later in John 2, verse 18, after Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers and drove all the people and animals out of the temple, the Jews asked Jesus for another sign – a sign to prove His authority to do such a thing.

Jesus’s answer was, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 2:19

As you would expect, this answer confused the Jews at the time, but that’s because this sign wouldn’t come about until three years later when Jesus’s physical body had been killed and laid in a tomb to be resurrected three days later as we will read about in John chapters 19 and 20.

In the three years that Jesus conducted his ministry between this first sign at the wedding in Cana and His resurrection, Jesus did so many signs – feedings thousands of men, women and children with only a few fish and loaves of bread, healing blind men and deaf men and lame men and leprous men, walking on water and calming storms – and every one of those signs pointed to the fact that Jesus had all authority in heaven and on earth, that He was the only Begotten Son of God, that mankind should BELIEVE in Him as  the Messiah and King – just as John the Baptist had said.

After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to many of His disciples in person. These disciples told Thomas (another of Jesus’s disciples) that they had seen Jesus in person. Like John the Baptist, they bore witness to what they had seen and heard.

Yet, Thomas refused to believe their eyewitness testimony. Thomas said to them, in John 20:25 “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

“Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then (Jesus) said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)

Because Thomas saw these physical signs of the resurrected Jesus, now He believed! Praise God for His faith. But let’s keep reading to see how Jesus answered him, in John 20:29, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

God wants us still today to be His faithful witnesses with eyes and ears and hearts and mouths wide open, wide open to His Word and His ongoing works in the modern world, telling other people the good news that they, too,  can receive eternal life by trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

God has given us His precious written Word, a record of the countless signs that Jesus did on earth. As John continued in the next two verses,

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John 20:30-31

And again, in the final words of the book of John, John 21:25, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

I’m praying that each one of you would place your faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have LIFE in His name.