During the past few months our nation has witnessed devastating natural disasters that demolished entire communities and took the lives and livelihoods of many Americans. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have negatively impacted millions[i] of people and left behind billions of dollars in damages. As difficult and challenging as these events have been, and will continue to be for multitudes of people, these catastrophic events have allowed our nation to come together to help those affected. In response to Hurricane Harvey alone, companies have promised to donate more than $65 million to help with relief efforts—and that number is still rising. This is not including all private donations and time spent volunteering by people across the United States.[ii] It has encouraged the nation as we have observed neighbor helping neighbor—but we need to remember that we shouldn’t simply be observers when it comes to encouragement.

Practical and purposeful encouragement is something each of us can do, but too often we miss the opportunity in the busyness of our lives. I’ll confess I’m not a natural-born encourager. Often I’m so focused on my day that I don’t notice when others have a need. But I’m learning to be deliberate about it—even when it’s not convenient.


Living in the I-Zone (Interruption Zone)

            Sometimes our best opportunities to encourage someone come at the worst times for us. It’s one thing to provide help when it’s convenient. But we must learn to respond when it’s not convenient or easy. Think of it as living within the I-Zone—living with interruptions.

Leadership books tell us how to minimize interruptions, and we’re wise to figure out how to focus our concentration on the project at hand. But we must also accept the interruptions that come as divine opportunities.

The best examples come directly from the life of Christ. When He was on His way to visit a ruler named Jairus whose daughter was deathly sick, Jesus was interrupted by a woman who touched the hem of His garment and was healed of her infirmity. Mark records, “Jesus… turned around… and said, ‘Who touched My clothes?’” (5:30)

Think of the anguish of Jairus, watching anxiously as Jesus tarried with the woman. Then news arrived that his daughter had died. But Jesus simply stated, “Do not be afraid… only believe.” And the interruption became an opportunity for grace.

Or consider the time our Lord’s sermon was interrupted by four men tearing up the roof so they could lower their paralyzed friend to Him. Or the time His message in the synagogue in Nazareth was interrupted by a riot. We could even talk about the way His life was interrupted by crucifixion—and His death by resurrection.

Our Lord was a master at limiting interruptions and then at utilizing the ones He couldn’t avoid. He taught us to do the same, saying, “Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41). The second mile is sometimes outside our encouragement zone. Most of us can deal with the first mile, but the second takes effort. But how wonderful to know God is in control of our schedules and that sometimes interruptions are the ministry.


Living in the E-Zone (Encouragement Zone)

Once when facing a great political crisis William Gladstone, one of England’s most famous prime ministers, sat at home in the early hours working on a speech with which he hoped to win a great victory in the House of Commons the next day. At two in the morning, the mother of a poor disabled boy came to the door. Her son was dying, and she wondered if Mr. Gladstone would come and comfort him. Without hesitation, the great Commoner left the preparation of his speech and spent the night leading the child to Christ. Staying till the dawn broke, Gladstone closed the eyes of the dead child and returned home to face the day.

Later in the morning, he said, “I am the happiest man in the world today.” He had been able to demonstrate the love of Christ to a poor child. Shortly afterward, he made what was later called the “greatest speech of his life” in the House of Commons, carrying his cause to victory.[iii]

Don’t let the routine of your day stop you from encouraging someone who needs a special loving touch. Accept the interruption as from the Lord.  Go the extra mile for Christ, and you’ll find Him walking beside you all the way.




Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of

Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.,

For more information on Turning Point, go to


[i] http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/12/us/irma-damage-aftermath/index.html

[ii] http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/27/news/companies/corporate-donations-harvey-storm/index.html

[iii] George Sweeting, Love Is the Greatest (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), 123.





























An Abundant Harvest

by David Jeremiah


In 1914 Thomas Edison’s laboratory caught on fire. When he realized how big the blaze was, Edison sent word to his family and friends, “Get down here quick. You may never again see anything like this!”


Edison lost 2 million dollars in equipment and the record of a life’s work. Walking through the rubble with his son Charles, he said, “There’s a great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”


How many would be able to respond with gratitude after such loss? Giving thanks to God, Edison started anew. Many great inventions came after his laboratory burned.


How can we reap the benefits of a thankful heart all year long?


Planting Seeds of Gratitude

We each face a decision about what to plant in our heart. “We can decide to be grateful or to be bitter” (Henry Nouwen). The wise man chooses to plant seeds of gratitude: In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Being thankful is something all Christians are responsible to do.


We can’t command our feelings, but we can command our will. We can determine to say “thank You, Lord” even when we don’t feel like it. And, our emotions will follow our actions.


Cultivating a Thankful Heart

When you plant seeds of thanksgiving in your heart, the water of God’s Word will keep them alive. So, give thanks always for all things to God the Father (Ephesians 5:20) and enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). Whenever we come before God, we are always to come with a grateful heart.


Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Think about the things God has done for you. List the blessings of God in your life. Then, imagine if each thing were taken away from you. What would your life be like? Now mentally put each person and thing back on your list and be thankful.


Blossom Gratitude

No matter what our circumstance, we can find a reason to be thankful. You may find yourself in a terrible family or work situation. Give thanks in the midst of your problems.


Choose to be thankful wherever you are—even a lion’s den. Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:17). Pray and sing. Say thank you to God in prayer. Tell others of His goodness. Serve God with a cheerful heart and thankful attitude.


The Fruit of Thanksgiving

Show me a person who is thankful, and I’ll show you a person who can endure the most difficult situation in life and still find joy. Who is the greatest saint in the world? ... The one who is always thankful to God, who receives everything as an expression of God’s goodness, and has a heart ready to praise God for everything he gets. That is a saint (William Law).


Paul writes that we’re to speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…giving thanks always (Ephesians 5:19-20). A spirit of gratitude not only enhances our relationship with our heavenly Father, it improves the way we relate and talk to one another.


Someone asked a farmer famous for raising a superior strain of wheat why he let his competitors benefit from his research. “Aren’t you afraid their wheat will be as good as yours?” The farmer replied that when his neighbors grew proper grain and their grain pollinated his crops, he reaped the benefits. Thanksgiving works that way. When we give it freely to God or to others, we always have a residual benefit that comes back to us.


Sowing and Reaping

You reap what you sow the Bible says clearly. If you plant seeds of gratitude, you can expect an abundant harvest of God’s blessings. The opposite is also true. Ingratitude has no friends.


Don’t allow an ungrateful spirit to rob you of life’s richness. Thank God daily for who He is, and what He has done for you. Let this attitude of gratitude grow and become stronger through your praise and thanksgiving—and you will yield an abundant harvest of blessing.


Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of

Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.,

For more information on Turning Point, go to