Words of Encouragement

Words of Encouragement is a monthly devotional written by Harold Jones, Barney's Pharmacy Pastoral Care counselor,  If you are a Barney's Pharmacy customer and would like to meet with Pastor Jones, please click here for more information.


January 2017


Hello! Happy New Year!


I'm sure you've noticed that each year almost all the major news magazines put out an issue with special pictorial sections recalling people and events that made news during the previous year. So here we are in the year of 2017! I wonder how we'll do this year? Will we be as busy? Will we make any better use of our time? In 365 days, when this year is over, will we be looking back with joy or with regret?


There is a passage of Scripture that I believe can be of help to us as we look forward to the rest of 2017 if we'll listen to it. Ephesians 5:15, 17 says, "Be careful then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, BUT understanding what the Lord's will is."


Here are some important lessons that we need to consider:


1. First of all, we must be very careful how we live because our time on earth is limited. All we have is right now. So our time on this earth is valuable because it is very limited. There are many demands on our time, so many good things that need to be done. BUT, there are just 8,760 hours in this year and we have already used many of them. We do want to make the most of every opportunity, so what are we to do?

2. Understand what the Lord's Will is. Now what do you think God's Will is for this year? Do you think He wants your mind so saturated with worries and anxieties that you can't think spiritual thoughts? Do you think He wants your calendar so crowded that you don't have time for the important things? Here are a couple of suggestions for you to consider:

   a. Establish your priorities. I am hoping that your first priority is your relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is most important.

   b. Spend time with your family. Every husband ought to have date night with his wife, a time when just the two of you get away and don't have anything else to interfere. Spend time with your children. Now most of us have to work. When Barry Bryant hired you he thought he was getting someone who will give Barney's an honest day's work.


SO ESTABLISH YOUR PRIORITIES and then learn how to live today. During the New Year you may have enough happiness to keep you sweet, enough trials to keep you strong, enough failure to keep you humble, enough success to keep you eager, and enough enthusiasm to make you look forward to tomorrow.


~ Pastor Harold Jones



November 2016

Why Be Thankful?

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1Thessalonians 5:18)

When the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon was robbed on the streets of London, his wife asked why he was so thankful? He said he wasn't thankful that he was robbed, but he was thankful the robber took only his money and not his life and that the robber got away with very little. Then, Spurgeon said, "I'm thankful to God that I was not the robber."

That proves a biblical point: there are always reasons to be thankful if life, always reasons to obey Paul's admonition, "In everything give thanks." Note that the verse doesn't say for everything give thanks but in everything give thanks. In every situation in life there are reasons to give thanks.

Here are some things we have reasons to be thankful: our faith, family, friends, finances, future, our job, and more. When we serve a loving Father who wants the best for His children, it is easy to give thanks - for Him and for the plans He has for our life.

If you didn't wake up in a thankful frame of mind today, consider what God has done for you and give thanks in everything.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Harold Jones

October 2016

Pray for Courage

Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, wait, I say on the Lord!"

The Bible is beloved for its realism. Case in point: the Bible's heroes were sometimes afraid. That's right. Moses was afraid to return to Egypt for a face-off with Pharaoh. Joshua needed courage when it was time to lead the Israelites into the Promise Land. David feared for his life when he was chased by Saul through the wilderness.

Today we have things of our own to fear: the loss of a job, unexpected health issues, international terrorism, drug-resistant organisms, storms and natural calamities, and more. We never know what the headlines or our own personal experiences will bring each day.

We need courage when life is so unpredictable. In fearful moments, David's counsel is to "wait on the Lord" and "He will strengthen your heart." What do we do while we are waiting? Pray and meditate on the promise of His Word.

If the Bible heroes needed courage, it is okay for us to need it, too. God will give it as we pray and wait upon Him.

Pastor Harold Jones

September 2016

Ready for a Change?

Self-control is probably one of the hardest things to master. How often have we been defeated by a bad habit, a lousy attitude, or a wrong mindset? We make promises to improve. We ask someone to hold us accountable. But deep inside, we know that we don't have the will or the ability to change. We can talk, we can plan, we can read self-help books, but we still find it difficult to overcome and control many of the things that are inside us!

Thankfully, Gad knows our weakness and He also knows the remedy. The Bible says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control" (Galatians 5:22-23). The only way to gain gentleness and self- control is by allowing the Holy Spirit to control us.

In other words, our key focus is not effort but surrender- to live moment by moment submissively trusting in the Lord rather than in self. Paul says this is what it means to "walk by the Spirit (v.16).

Are you ready for change? You can change for God is in you. As you surrender control to Him, He will help you bear the fruit of His likeness. Let this be our prayer: "I am in need, Lord, of your power so that I might change and grow. I surrender myself to you. Please help me to understand how to be submissive to You that I might be filled with your Spirit."

Pastor Harold Jones

August 2016

Love Your Neighbor

An anthropologist was winding up several months of research in a small village, the story is told. While waiting for a ride to the airport for his return flight home, he decided to pass the time by making up a game for some children. His idea was to create a race for a basket of fruit and candy that he placed near a tree. But when he gave the signal to run, no one made a dash for the finish line. Instead the children joined hands and ran together to the tree.

When asked why they chose to run as a group rather than each racing for the prize, a little girl spoke up and said: "How could one of us be happy when all of the others are sad?" Because these children cared about each other, they wanted all to share the basket of fruit and candy.

The apostle Paul found that all of God's laws could be summed up in one: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14 also Romans 13:9). In Christ Paul saw not only the reason to encourage, comfort, and care for one another but also the spiritual enablement to do it.

Because He (Jesus) cares for us, we care for each other.


Pastor Harold Jones

July 2016

Facing An Intangible Future

Picture this:  A RAIN-SWOLLEN mountain river, full of mud and debris is roaring through a valley. A mudslide on a riverbank has catapulted a long-fallen tree trunk into the raging torrent. On the shore, that hollow log has been the secure home for a gigantic nest of ants. As the log floats down the river, rolling and turning in the current, thousands of ants make their way out of the log and are clinging to its surface. As the log rolls, they try to avoid being swept off to a certain death.

Could it be that the state of our nation is this: our nation is like a log in a river, covered with thousands of ants, all of whom think they are in control and have the answers? BUT could it be that NOBODY is in control of our nation? The ants of that log are frantic with activity, BUT not one of them is in control.

BUT we as Christians live in an INTANGIBLE WORLD but we live by a TANGIBLE WORD - the Scriptures of God. It is God's Word that we find the ways and means to have a formidable FAITH!

Happy 4th of July - God Bless America


Pastor Harold Jones

June 2016

Handling Impossible Days

Do you feel like you're in line for a "stress leave" from work or from life? Our days are chockfull of work obligations, family responsibilities, etc. Most of us do reasonably well juggling our loads, but we sometimes get into the red zone. When we use up our margins, we feel frazzled, irritable, and overwhelmed. We have too much to do and not enough time to make it happen. Our days seem impossible.

It helps to recall the people in the Bible who felt the same way. They didn't have to worry about traffic jams or computer hacking, but the basic stresses of life are unchanged and we can learn a great deal by studying their examples.

Let's look at two sisters, Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus. Jesus and his disciples came to visit their home. There was a lot to do: preparing for the guests and cooking a meal. Martha went to the kitchen! Jesus said unto her "Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part" (Luke 10:41, 42).

What was she doing? She was sitting at His feet and listening to His word. Could it be that you need a "Mary Moment" and stop, relax and plan a time for prayer, Bible study, and meditation?

Learn to sit at His feet and listen to Him as Mary did.


~ Pastor Harold Jones


May 2016

The Remedy for Loneliness

We cannot meet all the needs in the world, BUT, there are two things we can do each day. First, let's be on the lookout for those needing love, compassion and also appreciation. Our streets, stores, schools, offices, and even our pharmacies where we work are filled with lonely people. Often we can provide the lifeline of friendship and sometimes it costs us little more than a smile and a kind word.


Second, let's keep telling our loved ones that they are our loved ones. No one can be told too often that they are loved. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and even those we work with every day all need to hear us say, "thanks and you are appreciated and loved."
 

Remember this: the reassurance of love and appreciation is the remedy for loneliness. Here's a single thought: verbalize your love and appreciation for others - it bears repeating.
 
Pastor Harold Jones

April 2016

Shake the dust off - Read your Bible

Charles Spurgeon said: "The Bible speaks to you in the very tone of God's voice."
 
The apostle Paul writes to his young spiritual son of the faith, Timothy, and says: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
 
It has been said that a valid measure of a Christian's spiritual growth is the amount of dust that has settled on his Bible. The Bible is considered food for the follower of Christ - the daily source of nourishment, counsel, inspiration, correction, and hope.
 
The Word of God can do what no other book can: penetrate deeply into our heart and soul and reveal our thoughts and intents. It can do that because it is "living and powerful," empowered by the Spirit who inspired it.
 
Don't let your Bible be hidden or dusty. Begin today to let God revive you according to His Word.
 
~ Pastor Harold Jones



March 2016

Where Did Our Love Go?

Where Did Our Love Go? was the first number one hit for the Supremes. It was recorded in 1964, and it launched Diana Ross to stardom. Years later Diana has reason to ask that question in a personal way - where did our love go? She married a man named Robert Silbertstein and they moved into a lovely Beverly Hills mansion and started a family.
 
The next year they divorced and Diana Ross had suffered second thoughts about that breakup ever since. She says they should have worked their way through the tough times. "We only had one bad year, you know. I made a mistake in letting him go."
 
It's wonderful to fall in love, to be loved and to love someone else. But we also know how easily love can cool down. That can happen in our attitude toward the Lord also. That's what happened to the church in Ephesus.
 
Years later when John wrote the book of Revelation, he commented the Ephesians for their hard work and persistence

but he wrote and said to this Ephesian Church "Nevertheless I have this against you, said the Lord Jesus, that you have left your first love." (Revelation 2:4)


Where did their love go? When we read in Revelation 2:4 we need to ask if we too have allowed our love for the Lord to diminish. Do we love Him more than ever or have we lost the depth of our first love?
 
Pastor Harold Jones

February 2016

Love Letter

Psalm 119:97
 
Each morning when I get up I have a simple habit of checking my emails. Most of the time I'll work through them in perfunctory fashion. There are some emails, however, that I'm eager to open. You guessed it - those from loved ones and friends.
 
Someone has said that the Bible is God's love letter to us. Perhaps on some days, like me, you just don't feel like opening it and your heart doesn't resonate with the words of the psalmist: "Oh, how I love your law." The scriptures are your commandments, your testimonies and your precepts. Oh how we need these every day.
 
It is said of some people that the more you know them the less you admire them, but the reverse is true of God. Familiarity with the Word of God, or rather the God of the Word, breeds affection and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. As you open the Bible, remember that God, the One who loves you the most - has a message for you. His message is: I LOVE YOU!
 
Pastor Harold Jones



January 2016

The Hand of God

Psalm 63:8 "My soul followeth hard after thee, thy right hand upholdeth me."


When NASA began using a new kind of space telescope to capture different spectrums of light, researchers were surprised at one of the photos. It shows what looks like fingers, a thumb, and an open palm showered with spectacular colors of blue, green, and gold. Some have called it "The Hand of God."
 
The idea of God reaching out His hand to help us in our time of need is a central theme of Scripture. In Psalm 63 we read: "Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind you: Your right hand upholds me" (vv. 708).
 
Life can be painful at times, yet God offers His comforting hand in the midst of it. ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS: We are not beyond His reach.
 

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