Christmas Bells

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

About “Christmas Bells”

“Christmas Bells” is a minor, yet well known, poem written by a very melancholy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas morning in 1863 during the midst of the Civil War. It is an anti-slavery poem as well as a seasonal favorite.

The poem was written six months after the battle of Gettysburg where 40,000 soldiers lost their lives. In addition to despairing over the bloody war, Henry was also mourning the death of his beloved wife Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Fanny died in a tragic fire the same year that the Civil War broke out. In November of 1862, another personal tragedy added to his pain. His son, Union Lieutenant Charles Appleton, was wounded in the Army of the Potomac.

On Christmas morning in 1863, while sitting at his desk at the Craigie House in Cambridge, MA, Henry was inspired to write a poem as he listened to the church bells pealing. Their constancy and joyous ringing inspired him to write “Christmas Bells.” In spite of his sadness, Longfellow expresses his belief in God and innate optimism that indeed:

God is not dead; nor doth he sleep
The Wrong shall fail;
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Sometime after 1872, Longfellow’s poem was adapted into a Christmas Carol. John B. Caulkin (1827-1905) was a famous English composer who set the lyrics to a gentle, melodic tune which is reminiscent of bells ringing. The carol is entitled “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Alternative tunes have been written for the lyrics but Caulkin’s melody remains predominant.

I lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire from February 1966 – the last day of April 1967. I was in the seventh and eighth grade. My father was in the United States Air Force at the time. As a student at Portsmouth Junior High School, I took field trips to both Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Longfellow was a Bowdoin College graduate and was a faculty member before moving to Cambridge to teach at Harvard.

We placed great emphasis when I was in junior high school on a classical education with understanding and appreciation of the arts including poetry. Only my university and seminary education had a greater impact on me than my short two years in New England public schools.

How to Hang On

Hang On
Hang On

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. — 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Is life getting you down? Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Here are seven Biblical principles on how to hang on when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope.

Principle One: I must not forget God loves me.

  • Don’t lose heart! – Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. — 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV)
  • I am what I am – But by the grace of God I am what I am, … — 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
  • It’s not who we are. It’s whose we are! – Remember our performance does not give us our worth.
  • God’s grace gives us the power to start over. – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Principle Two: I must keep a clear conscience.

  • Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)
  • We must have integrity.
  • We must have character.

Principle Three: It is not about me.

  • For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. — 2 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)
  • Your ego will only take you so far.

Principle Four: I cannot do it all.

  • But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. — 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
  • We must pace ourselves. Life is a journey, not a sprint.

Principle Five: Love, love, love.

  • All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)

Principle Six: Take time to refresh, renew, and revive.

  • Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. — 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Principle Seven: I must keep my eye on the goal.

  • For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Remember — You cannot create if you do not face your troubles and hang on until you reach your goal.

Good Friday and Easter – My Personal Christian Testimony

Being good doesn’t get you to heaven. Being “saved or born-again” does. Here’s my story of “being saved.”

On July 11, 1977, my life changed. If you look up that date in history, you will find nothing historically significant happened on that Sunday. It was a remarkable day for me. Sunday, July 11, 1977, was the watershed event in my life.

July 1977 found me on active duty as a lieutenant in the United States Army. I was serving as Battalion Maintenance Officer, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. Life was good. I had a beautiful, intelligent wife. I had a new son born in January that same year. My career was going great. I had just received a commendable rating during an Annual General Inspection in maintenance and Department of the Army General Inspection (DAIG). It was the first commendable rating since the division had returned from Vietnam.

Because of the DAIG commendable rating, I received a special officer evaluation report with addendums from my battalion commander, brigade commander, assistant division commander for support, and division commanding general. I with Named an Outstanding Junior Officer of the Ninth Infantry Division because of the commendable rating. I was branch transferred from the Infantry to Ordnance Corps to better utilize my giftedness in leading support maintenance. I received an offer of a regular army commission. I was asked to be assistant division commander for support’s aide.

I always tried being the best I could be and doing what was right. I was a perfectionist, high-achieving, and a workaholic. However, after all of this, I still had an empty, unsatisfied, void, and alone feeling.

Beginning in my college years I tried drinking, women, materialism, partying, and hanging out with the right crowd to fill this unexplained need I had. I knew something was missing from my life.

I was attending First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, Washington. I noticed a group of men that seemed to have what I was missing. I attended a Bible study with them.

Here I found that God has given us an essential manual for life — the Bible. He has the answers to the problems and emptiness we may face. I found out I was here for a purpose, and not by accident. I learned Jesus loves me and desires to have a personal relationship with me. However, sin separated me from Him.

I realized I had a sin problem. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 But no one is perfect! We have all sinned and therefore cannot save ourselves by just living a good life. Why?

I learned there was a penalty to be paid for my sin. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

I learned God gives us a promise. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

I learned that God made a provision for me. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10

I prayed to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus. I prayed, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life in Heaven with You. I willingly repent of my sins and ask you to come into my heart and life. Take control of my words, thoughts, and actions. I place all of my trust in You for my salvation. I accept You as my Lord and Savior, and this free gift of eternal life. Amen.”

Since then my life has not been perfect. It’s been far from it. I’ve messed up from time to time, sometimes failing miserably in my decisions and choices. However, I have had direction and purpose in my life. I know where I am headed. I have the Bible to give me the principles for daily living. I am never alone. I have had real peace for the last 40 years.

How about you? Have you ever been “saved”? You can do like I did.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Why not pray this simple prayer and accept Jesus Christ today.


JAK DrawingJimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support engineer. He is a former Captain in the US Army.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and military science from The University of Texas at Arlington, Master of Arts and Master of Religious Education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Doctor of Education degree. In his mid-forties, he returned to college completing the core curriculum for a computer science degree. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. He is an author. His books and collections are available on Amazon.

God’s Sovereignty

In my Bible reading recently I read Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21 verse 1 immediately caught my attention. I meditated and reflected on the implications of Proverbs 21:1.  I read the verse in several different translations. It often times helps me secure the meaning of the verse. Proverbs 21:1 deals directly with the attributes of God’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 21:1 (King James Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (English Standard Version) – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (New American Standard Bible) – The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1 (New International Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Proverbs 21:1 (New Living Translation) – The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.

The verse is a reminder, no, a wake-up call that God is in charge. He is in control. I recalled a couple of Bible verses that point this out, God being in control. Romans 8:28 is the first verse that came to mind.

Romans 8:28 (King James Version) says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”.

Next Ephesians 1:11 was remembered.

Ephesians 1:11 (King James Version) says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”

The phrase “all things” means everything.  It tells us that God is over everything. So, if we go to the Bible and look for specific examples of the “all things” that God is sovereign over we can find a never-ending list.

Here are ten examples of God’s Sovereignty found in the Bible (italics mine):

  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE DECISIONS OF KINGS – Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. — That was the verse I read this morning.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF OR THE GAINING OF WEALTH – Deuteronomy 8:18; But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you the power to make wealth…”
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF FAMILY, WEALTH, AND HEALTH – Job 1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL DECISIONS – Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE BIRDS – Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them(the sparrows or birds) will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL KINGS AND NATIONS – Daniel 4:35; All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven      And among the inhabitants of earth;    And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER TRAVEL PLANS –  James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”; yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER SUFFERING IN THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS – 1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE REPENTANCE OF A PERSON – 2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE SPIRITUAL MATURITY OF THE BELIEVER – Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.

What I was reminded of was God is sovereign. He is in control. His plans ultimately are accomplished.

I write about God’s Sovereignty in my science fiction with faith.

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

Devotional: Christmas Bells

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

About “Christmas Bells”

“Christmas Bells” is a minor, yet well known, poem written by a very melancholy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas morning in 1863 during the midst of the Civil War. It is anti-slavery poem as well as a seasonal favorite.

The poem was written six months after the battle of Gettysburg where 40,000 soldiers lost their life. In addition to despairing over the bloody war, Henry was also mourning the death of his beloved wife Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Fanny died in a tragic fire the same year that the Civil War broke out. In November of 1862 another personal tragedy added to his pain. His son, Union Lieutenant Charles Appleton, was wounded in the Army of the Potomac.

On Christmas morning in 1863, while sitting at his desk at the Craigie House in Cambridge, MA, Henry was inspired to write a poem as he listened to the church bells pealing. Their constancy and joyous ringing inspired him to write “Christmas Bells.” In spite of his sadness, Longfellow expresses his belief in God and innate optimism that indeed:

God is not dead; nor doth he sleep
The Wrong shall fail;
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Sometime after 1872 Longfellow’s poem was adapted into a Christmas Carol. John B. Caulkin (1827-1905) was a famous English composer who set the lyrics to a gentle, melodic tune which is reminiscent of bells ringing. The carol is entitled “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Alternative tunes have been written for the lyrics but Caulkin’s melody remains predominant.

I lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1966 – 1967. I was in the seventh and eighth grade. My father was in the United States Air Force at the time. As a student at Portsmouth Junior High School I took field trips to both Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Longfellow was a Bowdoin College graduate and was a faculty member before moving to Cambridge to teach at Harvard. We placed great emphasis when I was in junior high school on a classical education with understanding and appreciation of the arts including poetry.

Ten Thoughts on Encouraging Others

encourage-others

Here are ten thoughts I use to encourage others:

1. Show real interest in the person.

Listen to what they are saying. Be interested in what is happening in their life. Let them know you care.

2. Concede what’s important to them. 

When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing.

3. Say “congratulations.”

These magical Words of Encouragement at the right time can make all the difference between “keep going” and “give up”. Congratulate them on a job or task well done.

4. Be there for them. 

Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.  Just being there for them is encouraging.

5. Say “Thank You.”

Saying than you is common courtesy.  It is good manners.  People like a little reward for hard work. I have done it for years. A simple thank you will make others aware that you know what they have done worthwhile and find it meaningful to you.

6. Return the favor.

If someone does something nice for you, an excellent way to show your appreciation is simply to return the favor. It will both shock and encourage them.  Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.

7. Answer with something unexpected. 

I have a phrase I have used for years … love them from where they are to where they need to be!  Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them.  It is amazing the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.

8. Be a “good finder.”

A good finder is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation.  An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their normal tardiness.

9. Smile.

Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile?  Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back?  Share an encouraging smile.

10. Offer to lend a hand. 

You can offer to lend a hand.  Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares.  Show them you really care. You can be there for them.

What are some ways you encourage others? Please share your suggestions in the comments.

True Comfort

2 Cor 1-3-5I want to share with you a story of “True Comfort.”  I recently was reading 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 5 in my Bible. Here are some principles I gleaned from the Bible passage.

Introduction

Have you ever known people who despite tragedy were able to offer comfort to others?

I know a woman who within two years lost her husband, her father, and her two sons. When I saw her at the funeral of the last one to die, I was impressed by the way she graciously went around welcoming those who came to pay their respects. She offered comfort to others when you would think she would be the one needing it.

On the other hand, some people are devastated by personal hardships. When they suffer difficulties they find no peace, no consolation. They certainly are in no position to help others.

What is the difference? Where do those who can comfort others while enduring their tragedy receive the strength to help others?

The apostle Paul was one individual who had learned the secret. He passed what he learned along to us in his second letter to the Corinthians. It is in 2 Corinthians chapter one, verses three through five where we learn about “True Comfort.”

2 Corinthians 1: 3-5 English Standard Version of the Bible tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too.”

Principle One is The Source of True Comfort

Many people seek comfort “in all the wrong places” to borrow a line from a song popular three and one-half decades ago.

  • Some people find comfort in thinking their problems are no worse than those of others.
  • Some people in thinking things will improve without ever taking the required actions to bring about the positive change.
  • Still other believe their situation is so bad that it can’t be helped.
  • Some people try to forget. Some people try finding comfort in exciting and dissipating pleasures of the flesh.
  • Some in complaining and repining.

True comfort comes from God. He is called the “God of all comfort” in the Bible passage. Have you ever wondered why him?

It is because He is also the “Father of mercies.” The term “father” implies “source” as in the source of all mercies. He is the source of all kinds of goodness and mercy says James 1:17. Comfort is just one of His many mercies, and so He is described as:

  • The “God of all comfort” – 2 Corinthians 1:3
  • “The God of patience and comfort” – Romans 15:5
  • As the God of All comfort, there is no limitation to the comfort He provides.

The source of “True Comfort”, then, is God.  But when does it come, and how?

Principle Two is The Bestowal of “True Comfort.”

True Comfort is bestowed “in all our tribulation.” God comforts us when it is most needed were are told in 2 Corinthians 1:4. The Bible teaches God will not desert us in our times of need.

  • “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5b
  • He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear – 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Yes, even in “the valley of the shadow of death,” He is there to comfort us we are told in Psalms 23:4

Indeed, the greater the affliction, the greater the comfort we learn in 2 Corinthians 1:5. As the sufferings abound so does the consolation!

True Comfort is bestowed “through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 says “…so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”

Just as with all other spiritual blessings, it is found only “in Christ” – Ephesians 1:3.

To receive the comfort that comes from God, then, we must be “in Christ.” Being “in Christ,” there are two avenues through which comfort is dispensed. The first is The Word of God as seen in Romans 15:4. The second is Prayer as seen in Philippians 4: 6 – 7.

Principle Three is The Purpose of “True Comfort”

To comfort others “…that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble” teaches 2 Corinthians 1:4. The comfort God provides through Christ is not just for our private consumption.

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.” – John Henry Jowett (1817-1893)

Yes, our comfort is designed to be shared!

A case in point is how God comforted Paul in 2 Corinthians 7: 4 – 7, 13, The Corinthians comforted Titus in the way they received him. So comforted by the Corinthians’ reception, Titus’ coming then comforted Paul. Yet Paul saw that the source of this comfort was ultimately from God!

This reveals another avenue by which God bestows His comfort. It may come DIRECTLY from God (e.g., through His Word – Romans 15:4). It may also come INDIRECTLY from God, through the exhortations of others as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:18.

Sadly, many people neglect all avenues through which God offers “true comfort.” They do not feed upon the Word and pray, to receive comfort directly. Nor do they develop the network of relationships with other Christians, through which God might comfort them indirectly when needed! But when all avenues are utilized, then “true comfort” is possible, and we can then pass it along!

Principle Four is A Consequence of True Comfort

Gratitude mingled with adoration is a consequence. The Apostle Paul began our text with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father…” says 2 Corinthians 1:3. It was the “true comfort” he had received that moved him to praise God.

Such praise is only natural. Not only because of the comfort we have received but also because of the comfort we can now pass along to others!

Conclusion

Are you lacking in this “true comfort”?   Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places. It comes only from “the God of all comfort.”  It comes only “through Christ.”

Are you in Christ? Perhaps you are not benefiting from the comfort God gives others. There are those who would be happy to share their comfort with you. But you must be willing to develop the relationships necessary for such comfort to travel from them to you!

Are you working on your relationship with fellow Christians?

Philippians 2: 1 – 5 teaches For those who are faithful Christians, having delighted in fullness of “true comfort”, remember these exhortations

  • “Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

Do these things, and we will all experience the “true comfort” by which we will want to say: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…”  – 2 Corinthians 1:3.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

How to Encourage Others

encourage-othersHere are ten thoughts I use to encourage others:

1. Show real interest in the person. Listen to what they are saying. Be interested in what is happening in their life. Let them know you care. Be more interested in them than yourself.

2. Concede what’s important to them.  When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing. Your showing genuine interest in them instead of telling them what your are interested in encourages them. Make it about them, not you.

3. Say “congratulations”.  These magical Words of Encouragement at the right time can make all the difference between “keep going” and “give up”. Congratulate them on a job or task well done. Do not trivialize their achievements.

4. Be there for them.  Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.  Just being there for them is encouraging. Keep the focus on them, not yourself.

5. Say “Thank You”.  This is common courtesy.  It is good manners.  People like a little reward after hard work. I have done it for years. A simple thank you lets others know what they have done is worthwhile and meaningful to you.

6. Return the favor. If someone does something nice for you, a great way to show your appreciation is simply to return the favor. It will both shock and encourage them.  Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.

7. Answer with something unexpected.  I have a phrase I have used for years … nice them to death!  Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them.  It is amazing the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.

8. Be a “good finder”.  A good finder is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation.  An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their normal tardiness.

9. Smile.  Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile?  Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back?  Share an encouraging smile.

10. Offer to lend a hand.  You can offer to lend a hand.  Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares.  Show them you really care. You can be there for them.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Proverbs 21 and God’s Sovereignty

In my Bible reading this morning I read Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21 verse 1 immediately caught my attention. I meditated and reflected on the implications of Proverbs 21:1.  I read the verse in several different translations. It often helps me secure the meaning of the verse. Proverbs 21:1 deals directly with the attribute of God’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 21:1 (King James Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (English Standard Version) – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (New American Standard Bible) – The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1 (New International Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Proverbs 21:1 (New Living Translation) – The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.

The verse is a reminder, no, a wake-up call that God is in charge. He is in control. I recalled a couple of Bible verses that point this out, God being in control. Romans 8:28 is the first verse that came to mind.

Romans 8:28 King James Version says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”.

Next I remembered Ephesians 1:11.

Ephesians 1:11 King James Version says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”

The phrase “all things” means everything.  It tells us that God is over everything. So, if we go to the Bible and look for concrete examples of the “all things” that God is sovereign over we can find a never-ending list.

Here are ten examples of God’s Sovereignty found in the Bible (italics mine):

  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE DECISIONS OF KINGS – Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. — That was the verse I read this morning.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF OR THE GAINING OF WEALTH – Deut. 8:18 – But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth…”
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF FAMILY, WEALTH AND HEALTH – Job 1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL DECISIONS – Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE BIRDS – Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them(the sparrows or birds) will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL KINGS AND NATIONS – Daniel 4:35; All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven      And among the inhabitants of earth;    And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER TRAVEL PLANS –  James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”; yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER SUFFERING IN THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS – 1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE REPENTANCE OF A PERSON – 2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE SPIRITUAL MATURITY OF THE BELIEVER – Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

What I was reminded of this morning was God is sovereign. He is in control. His plans ultimately are accomplished.

 This original devotional written by Jimmie Aaron Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Jimmie Kepler.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Lead by Example

Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

Text: Ephesians 4: 1 – 6

Focus: Ephesians: 4: 2 – 4

Maybe you are a Christian writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes for the mainstream market. Your goal may concentrate on writing to develop Christian Believers. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five guidelines that will help you: Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write. Your life or lifestyle should set an example of Christain living..

Guideline One: Humility – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer, you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt.

Guideline Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, you should be bold, but under control. Being under control does not mean being a wimp. Just as a powerful racehorse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible.

Guideline Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

Guideline Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a love that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is  what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian you are, by grace saved through faith … it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Guideline Five: Unity If The Spirit In The Bond Of Peace – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Guideline five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

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Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.