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Posts tagged ‘Be a Positive Force to Others’

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Be a Positive Force to Others

Be a Positive Force to OthersThe salutations of the letters Paul wrote to fledgling churches and to ministry colleagues were far from routine.  They revealed that he was out to do more than present theoretical truth.

He was addressing individuals he cared about deeply, with whom he’d forged strong ties, and for whom he wrestled in prayer.

Interact with God’s Word:  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; Romans 1:8; Ephesians 1:15; Philippians 1:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:3-4

  1. In each greeting, what does Paul say about his feelings toward his letter readers? How do you think this affected their openness to his instructions?
  2. What aspects of the Thessalonians’ faith (1 Thess. 1:3) did he single out to thank God for?
  3. What was the environment in which the Thessalonian believers (2 Thess. 1:3-4) were “flourishing”?
  4. What qualities of the Ephesians did he commend?
  5. Paul maintained that he constantly interceded for those he wrote to. Do you think this was a figure of speech or actually true?
  6. Are you surprised by the intensity of Paul’s loneliness for his understudy Timothy?
  7. What were Paul’s prayer requests for his fellow believers? (See also Ephesians 1:16-19.)

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to help you model Paul’s example of generous praise and fervent prayer for fellow Jesus followers.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. 4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.

Romans 1:8

8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.

Ephesians 1:15

15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere …

Philippians 1:3-5

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.

2 Timothy 1:3-4

3 Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Royal Treatment

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: If your gift is to encourage others, do it!  – Romans 12:8

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 25:11-13

The first time I met the pastor of Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, was at a prearranged lunch discussion. I soon realized that this man had a magnetic personality that made people just want to be around him. As we entered the restaurant together, we were greeted by the maitre d’, a man who spoke with a heavy foreign accent.

In the blink of an eye, Pastor Dennis was placing his hand on this man’s shoulder and saying, “Sir, I don’t believe I’ve had the opportunity to meet you. My name is Sam Dennis. This is the fourth time I’ve been here, and I want to tell you how impressed I am with how you treat everyone who walks in your doors. You always greet them with a smile and a word of kindness. I think the owner of this place should give you a big raise, and if he’s here, I’ll tell him so myself.”

Talk about making someone’s day! The maitre d’ was smiling like he’d just won the lottery. I was completely dumbfounded as I watched this unfold.

“And by the way,” Sam added, “I’m the pastor of a church down the street, and we’d love to have you be our special guest. If you’ll come, I’d be honored to have you and your family sit with me and my family.”

—Greg Vaughn in Letters from Dad

My Response: A person whose day I could make if I gave him a word of appreciation is ____.

Thought to Apply: Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth! —George W. Crane (columnist)

Adapted from Letters from Dad (Integrity, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Words Left Unsaid

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy in the presence of God.  – 1 Thessalonians 3:9

Bonus Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

As a youngster, I ached to hear my dad tell me, “Lee, I’m proud of you. You’re really special to me.” I hungered to hear him say, “Son, I really like who you are.”

Not hearing any of that from him created a wound in me that I eventually tried to heal through workaholism, striving to earn from him the respect I so needed.

My dad died while I was away at law school. I flew back for the wake. As I sat by myself, a steady stream of my dad’s friends, none of whom I knew, stopped by to greet me. “Are you Wally’s son? Oh, he was so proud of you. He used to brag about you all the time. When you went off to Yale Law School, he was just thrilled. When you’d have a byline in the Tribune, he was always showing it to everybody. He couldn’t stop talking about you! You were such an important part of his life.”

I sat there stunned. I had no idea my dad felt that way. He hadn’t told me. I had to wait until he was dead to find out. What would it have done to our relationship if he’d told me himself while we still had time together?

The lesson is this: never assume that your friend, wife, or child knows how you feel about them. Tell them!

—Lee Strobel in God’s Outrageous Claims

My Response: I realize I need to let ____ hear me say, “I’m proud of you.”

Thought to Apply:I don’t care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause. —George M. Adams (columnist)

Adapted from God’s Outrageous Claims (Zondervan, 1997, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Soaking Up the Praise

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24

Bonus Reading: Deuteronomy 3:28, Proverbs 15:23, Ephesians 4:29

James was out on his first “daddy/daughter date” with his four year old. They’d gone to a local fast-food restaurant where his daughter ordered pancakes.

When the food came, the father took her hand in his and prayed for the food. He then told her, “I want you to know how much I love you and how special your are to Mom and me. We couldn’t be prouder of the wonderful girl you’re growing up to be. If we lined up every girl your age in the whole city—and we could pick only one—guess who we’d choose every time? You!”

Finished, James released his daughter’s hand and picked up his fork, but he never got the fork to his mouth. His daughter reached out her little hand and laid it on top of his. In a soft voice, she pleaded, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.”

After James listed more reasons and ways they loved her, he finally got to eat his breakfast. But that morning his daughter was hungrier for his words of praise than pancakes.

Did all that affirmation really make a difference? A few weeks later, this same daughter ran up to her mother, jumped in her arms, and spontaneously said, “Mommy, I’m a really special daughter. Daddy told me so.”

—John Trent in Christian Parenting Today

My Response: Today I’ll look for and voice something praiseworthy for each family member.

Thought to Apply: Let’s play darts, Dad. I’ll throw and you say, “Great shot!” —a little boy

Adapted from Christian Parenting Today (Summer/05).

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Doghouse Blues

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: We were as gentle among you as a mother feeding and caring for her own children.1 Thessalonians 2:7

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

After we’d been married for a year, Steve and I decided we’d get a puppy. McPherson, a young, untrained German shepherd/Australian shepherd mix, had a lot to learn. So did we.

Like all puppies, McPherson loved to chew. He chewed on Steve’s work boots until he put a hole in one. We showed him the shoe and scolded, “Bad dog!” He looked at us with his big, brown puppy eyes and slunk away.

Another time I was baking a special pie for Steve. McPherson jumped up at the table and swiped the mixing bowl with his paw. Sticky, sweet apples splattered across the kitchen floor. Again I yelled, “bad dog!” and shooed him outside. We yelled at McPherson a lot more than we hugged him. Soon his puppy spirit was broken. He didn’t play with us as much. He no longer looked us in the eyes with his puppy smile.

We finally realized we were doing things wrong and asked others for advice. McPherson, they told us, needed to hear “good dog” to know what he was doing right. He needed more approval than correction, and the correction should be gentle. We took the advice. Soon McPherson was running, jumping, and joyful again. He could see and hear that we loved him.

—Connie Fleishauer in Four Paws from Heaven

My Response: To motivate more by approval than by correction, I’ll …

Thought to Apply: Praise loudly, blame softly.  —Russian saying

Adapted from Four Paws from Heaven (Harvest, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – How I Became a Math Whiz

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: I have the highest confidence in you, and my pride in you is great.  – 2 Corinthians 7:4

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:13b-14; 8:16-17

I was poor in math until I hit eighth grade. For some now unfathomable reason, I found it easier to cheat and get failing grades than study and get passing grades. My math teacher caught me cheating but never told my parents. He had the grace to help me see the difference between what I was becoming and what I could be.

He came alongside with helps that appropriately addressed self-esteem, learning skills, and socialization. I was pretty much an introvert in those days. What he did was always exude optimism about my potential and the inevitability of becoming an A student. He created a space into which dropped hope. I became as hopeful as he was.

He sheltered me from the ridicule of other students and the rejection of my parents, and had nothing but confident expectation in my ability to succeed. I did succeed. To this day I’m the math whiz in the family. I never cheated again.

My world is a far different place now, not simply because I succeeded at junior high math. It’s different because in the eighth grade someone breathed hope into my life—and showed me how to breathe it into the lives of others. When I became a believer a decade later, this lesson took on new meaning.

—Jeff Jernigan in The Power of a Loving Man

My Response: Someone whose life I could breathe hope into is ____.

Adapted from The Power of a Loving Man (B&H Publishers, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Infectious Quality

Be a Positive Force to OthersWho Said It … Tim Stafford

Tim Stafford started his writing career with Ignite Your Faith magazine (then Youth for Christ’s Campus Life). He moved his family to Kenya and founded Step magazine, for Christian youth in Africa.

With Philip Yancey, he co-authored notes for the popular Student Bible. Now a senior writer for Christianity Today, Tim has written many books. He lives in Santa Rosa, California, with his wife Popie, a counselor.

What He Said … Infectious Quality

I learned about affirmation from the woman who became my wife. She and a circle of friends blew the cover off my guarded words. When they saw something they liked in someone, they just said it. They showed appreciation with hugs and smiles. They were so free and warm some people didn’t know how to take it. But everyone who came into their circle was delighted.

I could see stiffness and cynicism falling off others as they fumbled to acknowledge the compliments given to them. I saw their lives begin to open up and respond. For the first time, I realized that affirming words were more than a social grace. They had the power to change lives and relationships.

Almost without my realizing it, a response was awakened in me. I began to do my own share of affirmation. One friend told me he was quite startled at the bloom of compliments, hugs, and pats from me. Appreciation can spread from one person to another and through a whole community. But somebody has to start it.

Adapted from Personal God (Zondervan, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Be a Positive Force to Others

Be a Positive Force to OthersThe salutations of the letters Paul wrote to fledgling churches and to ministry colleagues were far from routine.  They revealed that he was out to do more than present theoretical truth.

He was addressing individuals he cared about deeply, with whom he’d forged strong ties, and for whom he wrestled in prayer.

Interact with God’s Word:  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; Romans 1:8; Ephesians 1:15; Philippians 1:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:3-4

  1. In each greeting, what does Paul say about his feelings toward his letter readers? How do you think this affected their openness to his instructions?
  2. What aspects of the Thessalonians’ faith (1 Thess. 1:3) did he single out to thank God for?
  3. What was the environment in which the Thessalonian believers (2 Thess. 1:3-4) were “flourishing”?
  4. What qualities of the Ephesians did he commend?
  5. Paul maintained that he constantly interceded for those he wrote to. Do you think this was a figure of speech or actually true?
  6. Are you surprised by the intensity of Paul’s loneliness for his understudy Timothy?
  7. What were Paul’s prayer requests for his fellow believers? (See also Ephesians 1:16-19.)

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to help you model Paul’s example of generous praise and fervent prayer for fellow Jesus followers.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. 4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.

Romans 1:8

8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.

Ephesians 1:15

15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere …

Philippians 1:3-5

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.

2 Timothy 1:3-4

3 Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Royal Treatment

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: If your gift is to encourage others, do it!  – Romans 12:8

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 25:11-13

The first time I met the pastor of Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, was at a prearranged lunch discussion. I soon realized that this man had a magnetic personality that made people just want to be around him. As we entered the restaurant together, we were greeted by the maitre d’, a man who spoke with a heavy foreign accent.

In the blink of an eye, Pastor Dennis was placing his hand on this man’s shoulder and saying, “Sir, I don’t believe I’ve had the opportunity to meet you. My name is Sam Dennis. This is the fourth time I’ve been here, and I want to tell you how impressed I am with how you treat everyone who walks in your doors. You always greet them with a smile and a word of kindness. I think the owner of this place should give you a big raise, and if he’s here, I’ll tell him so myself.”

Talk about making someone’s day! The maitre d’ was smiling like he’d just won the lottery. I was completely dumbfounded as I watched this unfold.

“And by the way,” Sam added, “I’m the pastor of a church down the street, and we’d love to have you be our special guest. If you’ll come, I’d be honored to have you and your family sit with me and my family.”

—Greg Vaughn in Letters from Dad

My Response: A person whose day I could make if I gave him a word of appreciation is ____.

Thought to Apply: Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth! —George W. Crane (columnist)

Adapted from Letters from Dad (Integrity, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Words Left Unsaid

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy in the presence of God.  – 1 Thessalonians 3:9

Bonus Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

As a youngster, I ached to hear my dad tell me, “Lee, I’m proud of you. You’re really special to me.” I hungered to hear him say, “Son, I really like who you are.”

Not hearing any of that from him created a wound in me that I eventually tried to heal through workaholism, striving to earn from him the respect I so needed.

My dad died while I was away at law school. I flew back for the wake. As I sat by myself, a steady stream of my dad’s friends, none of whom I knew, stopped by to greet me. “Are you Wally’s son? Oh, he was so proud of you. He used to brag about you all the time. When you went off to Yale Law School, he was just thrilled. When you’d have a byline in the Tribune, he was always showing it to everybody. He couldn’t stop talking about you! You were such an important part of his life.”

I sat there stunned. I had no idea my dad felt that way. He hadn’t told me. I had to wait until he was dead to find out. What would it have done to our relationship if he’d told me himself while we still had time together?

The lesson is this: never assume that your friend, wife, or child knows how you feel about them. Tell them!

—Lee Strobel in God’s Outrageous Claims

My Response: I realize I need to let ____ hear me say, “I’m proud of you.”

Thought to Apply:I don’t care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause. —George M. Adams (columnist)

Adapted from God’s Outrageous Claims (Zondervan, 1997, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Soaking Up the Praise

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24

Bonus Reading: Deuteronomy 3:28, Proverbs 15:23, Ephesians 4:29

James was out on his first “daddy/daughter date” with his four year old. They’d gone to a local fast-food restaurant where his daughter ordered pancakes.

When the food came, the father took her hand in his and prayed for the food. He then told her, “I want you to know how much I love you and how special your are to Mom and me. We couldn’t be prouder of the wonderful girl you’re growing up to be. If we lined up every girl your age in the whole city—and we could pick only one—guess who we’d choose every time? You!”

Finished, James released his daughter’s hand and picked up his fork, but he never got the fork to his mouth. His daughter reached out her little hand and laid it on top of his. In a soft voice, she pleaded, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.”

After James listed more reasons and ways they loved her, he finally got to eat his breakfast. But that morning his daughter was hungrier for his words of praise than pancakes.

Did all that affirmation really make a difference? A few weeks later, this same daughter ran up to her mother, jumped in her arms, and spontaneously said, “Mommy, I’m a really special daughter. Daddy told me so.”

—John Trent in Christian Parenting Today

My Response: Today I’ll look for and voice something praiseworthy for each family member.

Thought to Apply: Let’s play darts, Dad. I’ll throw and you say, “Great shot!” —a little boy

Adapted from Christian Parenting Today (Summer/05).

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Doghouse Blues

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: We were as gentle among you as a mother feeding and caring for her own children.1 Thessalonians 2:7

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

After we’d been married for a year, Steve and I decided we’d get a puppy. McPherson, a young, untrained German shepherd/Australian shepherd mix, had a lot to learn. So did we.

Like all puppies, McPherson loved to chew. He chewed on Steve’s work boots until he put a hole in one. We showed him the shoe and scolded, “Bad dog!” He looked at us with his big, brown puppy eyes and slunk away.

Another time I was baking a special pie for Steve. McPherson jumped up at the table and swiped the mixing bowl with his paw. Sticky, sweet apples splattered across the kitchen floor. Again I yelled, “bad dog!” and shooed him outside. We yelled at McPherson a lot more than we hugged him. Soon his puppy spirit was broken. He didn’t play with us as much. He no longer looked us in the eyes with his puppy smile.

We finally realized we were doing things wrong and asked others for advice. McPherson, they told us, needed to hear “good dog” to know what he was doing right. He needed more approval than correction, and the correction should be gentle. We took the advice. Soon McPherson was running, jumping, and joyful again. He could see and hear that we loved him.

—Connie Fleishauer in Four Paws from Heaven

My Response: To motivate more by approval than by correction, I’ll …

Thought to Apply: Praise loudly, blame softly.  —Russian saying

Adapted from Four Paws from Heaven (Harvest, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – How I Became a Math Whiz

Be a Positive Force to OthersKey Bible Verse: I have the highest confidence in you, and my pride in you is great.  – 2 Corinthians 7:4

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:13b-14; 8:16-17

I was poor in math until I hit eighth grade. For some now unfathomable reason, I found it easier to cheat and get failing grades than study and get passing grades. My math teacher caught me cheating but never told my parents. He had the grace to help me see the difference between what I was becoming and what I could be.

He came alongside with helps that appropriately addressed self-esteem, learning skills, and socialization. I was pretty much an introvert in those days. What he did was always exude optimism about my potential and the inevitability of becoming an A student. He created a space into which dropped hope. I became as hopeful as he was.

He sheltered me from the ridicule of other students and the rejection of my parents, and had nothing but confident expectation in my ability to succeed. I did succeed. To this day I’m the math whiz in the family. I never cheated again.

My world is a far different place now, not simply because I succeeded at junior high math. It’s different because in the eighth grade someone breathed hope into my life—and showed me how to breathe it into the lives of others. When I became a believer a decade later, this lesson took on new meaning.

—Jeff Jernigan in The Power of a Loving Man

My Response: Someone whose life I could breathe hope into is ____.

Adapted from The Power of a Loving Man (B&H Publishers, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight; Who Do We Appreciate? – Infectious Quality

Be a Positive Force to OthersWho Said It … Tim Stafford

Tim Stafford started his writing career with Ignite Your Faith magazine (then Youth for Christ’s Campus Life). He moved his family to Kenya and founded Step magazine, for Christian youth in Africa.

With Philip Yancey, he co-authored notes for the popular Student Bible. Now a senior writer for Christianity Today, Tim has written many books. He lives in Santa Rosa, California, with his wife Popie, a counselor.

What He Said … Infectious Quality

I learned about affirmation from the woman who became my wife. She and a circle of friends blew the cover off my guarded words. When they saw something they liked in someone, they just said it. They showed appreciation with hugs and smiles. They were so free and warm some people didn’t know how to take it. But everyone who came into their circle was delighted.

I could see stiffness and cynicism falling off others as they fumbled to acknowledge the compliments given to them. I saw their lives begin to open up and respond. For the first time, I realized that affirming words were more than a social grace. They had the power to change lives and relationships.

Almost without my realizing it, a response was awakened in me. I began to do my own share of affirmation. One friend told me he was quite startled at the bloom of compliments, hugs, and pats from me. Appreciation can spread from one person to another and through a whole community. But somebody has to start it.

Adapted from Personal God (Zondervan, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to mirror you by becoming a positive force in the lives of my family and acquaintances.