“Encourage Yourself!”

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There are going to be times when people won’t have your back.  There will be moments when you feel like you are going alone.  Rest assured, God knows where you are in life.  Encourage yourself in the Lord even if no one else is supporting you! “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David ENCOURAGED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD.” 1 Samuel 30:6

“Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

One thing I have reluctantly had to admit is that I don’t always have Abraham faith.  When one really delves into his story, his story was laden with change.  Change, often times, is something I have been pretty resistant to.

Let’s face it, leaving your own home is no small feat (Genesis 12:1), especially during the Bible era.  In our day we have options to hop back on a plane and usually, there are provisions and backup plans that are available if that adventurous leap of faith didn’t work out.  And, this could all be done in a matter of hours.

I imagine it wasn’t quite that easy back then.  But, then again, maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe not having easy access to falling back into one’s comfort zone is a blessing in disguise for it forces that venture forward.  It forces us to take on new terrain and enter new callings as we try to acclimate and navigate our new surroundings and circumstances.

Often I feel the ease of looking back hinders our progress.  Unchartered territories can be scary, uncomfortable, and demanding of our time, talent, and emotions.  But what if it leads to something greater?  What if that step of faith allows you to do something miraculous that you could never see yourself doing?  What if it opened new doors of opportunity that you never could have imagined being able to walk through?

I guess that’s why it’s called faith.  Almost blindly, without full perception and without knowing where every piece of the puzzle already fits, we are asked to play along anyway.  Engage in the unknown no matter what the current reality says.  After all, according to the Bible, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).

Comfort zones, though they appear safe, are in fact very dangerous.  Walking in the land of familiarity may seem like a sure bet but in them lays unexpected traps.  Traps where dreams lose their freshness.  Traps where ideas lose their strength to be propelled forward.  Traps where talents get wasted in this pit of unseen snares.

God has always wanted the best for all His people.  But, when He calls, it is up to them to make the move.  He may not be asking you to leave your homeland, but where or what do you feel Him pulling you toward?  What area of your comfort zone has become so stale that now it too is very uncomfortable, yet, you’re still too afraid to make a move?

If Abraham had not put action behind his calling, he would have never been dubbed the father of faith, and so many things in our biblical history would not be traced back to his stepping out moment.

I wonder if we boldly step out today, what miraculous future events will point back to our time when we chose to leave the safety of our comfort zones?

One thing is for sure if we stay where we are, and if we keeping doing the same thing over and over again, nothing will ever change.  Don’t substitute comfort and reluctance to change for what can be.  Who knows what God wants to write in your future story?  Step out of your comfort zone and let Him write something amazing!

 

“God is in Control. It’s all about Him!”

“Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I,” Isaiah 52:6, KJV

The taunting of the enemy was too much to bear at times.  Captivity kept them bound and ridicule and defeat kept them shackled in despair.  God’s people have suffered under bondage due to their own spiritual neglect, but God in His grace and mercy, showed them a compassionate heart and sought for their redemption.  He was going to bring them back.  All hope was not lost, He will redeem.

Reading this, I know there are times when we seemed locked in my life.  If things are going okay and we are dwelling in peace, well then, that’s okay, lock me in!  But when we feel defeated by burdens and enemies, it’s hard to believe deliverance is on the horizon.

In Isaiah 52:6 God displayed His personal investment in His people’s redemption.  When He brought them out there was going to be no doubt in their mind that He is the one that fought for them, loved then and redeemed them.

Doubt is the enemy of our faith.  We often try to walk by faith and not by sight but end up walking by sight and not by faith even though it is the very things we see that make us question.  How is this going to turn out?  Will I ever see the light of day?  Doubt is a killer of dreams.  Doubt already erases the possibility of something better because it doesn’t see it.  Doubt is a robber of paradise and a hinderer of what can be.

But God is looking to change the focus of His people from their circumstances to their God.  Four times He refers to Himself in this verse as the One who orchestrates and fulfills all for them.  “My people . . . My name . . . I am He . . . It is I,” and He wants His people to know it.

  • My people:  “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” (Ps. 100:3, KJV).  A shepherd’s job is to care for, lead and guide, and supply for the sheep.  Isn’t it wonderful that despite their disobedience God was not ready to relinquish ownership of His own?  Israel may have gotten themselves into captivity but they were still His people and because of that God was still willing to take a leading role in their care and in ours.  Being identified as God’s people is a special privilege but it only comes to those who are under a covenant with God.  Galatians 3:29 says, “And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” (KJV).  Abraham was under a covenant with God (Gen. 15:18-21).  Those that come under Christ now receive the same benefits as His “people,” (see also Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:23).  You are God’s people, therefore, He wants you to know that He wants to take care of you and love you as His own!
  • My name:  “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into, and is safe,” (Pr. 18:10, KJV).  There’s something about applying God’s name to deliverance.  When someone puts their name on something it signifies ownership.  People also sign their names to documents to state that they will perform a deed stated therein.  His people shall “know my name.”  His name will be glorified and remembered for their deliverance.  He signed it and He declared it!
  • I am He that doth speak:  God is the author of all.  In the beginning “I am He” spoke things into existence and it obeyed.  That which He called forth manifested itself into reality.  It went from a holy thought to a physical appearance because “I am He” spoke.  When God speaks people better pay attention.  Especially when He is speaking of your deliverance, as He was with His people.  “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I speak shall come to pass …,” (Ezekiel 12:25, KJV).  His word is infallible and “I am He’s” word will be fulfilled in your life and you better know it!
  • It is I:  This takes me back to the time when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and commanded Moses to go to Egypt.  Moses asked, “What shall I say unto them?” (Ex. 3:13, KJV).  God’s response, “I AM THAT I AM . . . I AM hath sent me unto you,” (Ex. 3:14, KJV).  When one is waiting on deliverance they have to realize it’s all about God!  His mark of sovereignty is over His whole plan.  God referred to Himself as the total of all they needed to know!

Difficult times are never pleasant but when we know who it is that is on our side, we have nothing to fear in waiting for our deliverance.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31, KJV).  Isaiah 52:6 claims He is there with you; He’s the one fighting for you; He’s the one planning your deliverance; He’s the one speaking it over your life; He’s the one that owns all of this and will redeem His people out of it.  It’s all about Him!  In the midst of it all, He’s got you covered!  It’s all about Him, in the midst of it all, He will be glorified!  It’s all about Him and God is in control!

“God Has the Power to Help!”

 

We quote it, sing songs about it, outwardly rejoice in it; but, how much do you really believe it or apply it to our lives, circumstances, and troubles?

If we were to review some of the marvels of God as we know it, we would see out of nothing a world being brought into existence.  We would see where there is no life, the dead have been raised to life.  We would see on the strength of nothing but His command, stars and planets being suspended in midair, hanging on absolutely nothing, as if an invisible hook were holding them in place.

All of these events testify to His power and strength to do what we readily admit is the impossible.  But, God’s power goes beyond Creation, performing miracles, and shocking us with the impossible that becomes very possible in His hands.  God’s power is also alive and very available to help each and every one of us in our lives today, as well.

And, here is the beauty in that.

His power to help is not contingent on anything we bring to the table.  It does not matter our skills or abilities, our wealth or the lack thereof.  It doesn’t even matter the number of this or that that we try to bring into the mix of everything He wants to do in our lives.

In 2 Chronicles 14:11, we see where it says, “And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee,” (emphasis mine).  This Scripture prayer has often been my own that I have personally prayed and incorporated in my requests to God when I felt totally overwhelmed.  For many of times I know I had nothing to offer.  I know I had no power to personally make a change in a certain circumstance.  I didn’t have the numbers that would chalk up to win on my behalf.  There were times when I know I didn’t have the experience that says I was qualified to do this or that.  I had absolutely nothing to add to the mix to benefit me for a positive outcome.  Yet, it is nothing for God to still step in and help and to show His power strong in my life and yours.

If you are struggling with the same feelings or dealing with a daunting situation, know that God’s power can and will still work for you today.  What we have is not as important as what God has, and what He can do in our lives today.  He is the one who has the power to help!

“Say, YES!”

 

“Behold… be it unto me according to thy word,” (Luke 1:38) are the words Mary spoke when she willingly accepted God’s plan for her life.  She said yes to a future unknown.  She got into agreement with God and allowed His mission to become her mission, and her life was changed forever.

I believe that God wants to move mightily in many lives, but many are not willing to say yes.  It’s not because they don’t want God to do a fantastic thing in them and through them, but when they preview all the ideas that could happen, the balance of all the what-ifs seems too much to bear.  Yet, it is most often in those extremely unbearable moments where God works the most wonderful of wonderfuls.

Yes, comes with sacrifice.  Yes, refutes the idea of the impossible.  Yes says, “I don’t know where this journey is leading me, but Lord, I accept the challenge.  I choose Your cause and I choose this day to order my life according to that cause.”

Mary’s yes could’ve ended in her death.  Surely there must’ve been shame and ridicule hurled at her.  Never once, not even when her eldest Son, Jesus Christ, hung on the cross to redeem man, did we ever hear of her recoiling from that original yes.  There had to have been troubling times and days of confusion – yet, her yes remained yes, and to Him, she surrendered all.

Yes, can be glorious and lead one on the wildest journey they could ever experience.  But, yes can also be the hardest and most selfless decisive act one can take on.  Nevertheless, God’s invitation has gone out to many.  How will you respond today?  Will you recoil in fear, or through faith, say, “All aboard!”  I choose to ride with God through this journey by saying yes today!

“Don’t Count People Out!”

“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15

Many have those acquaintances in life that make them constantly shake their heads, and feel like throwing up their hands in exasperation.  Especially when their behaviors do not line up with one’s beliefs.  Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out.  It doesn’t.

I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another.  In our humanness, we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause.  Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.

When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was home base.  Jerusalem was where everything started.  He wanted the people “at home” to have the first shot of this powerful, saving message.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred.  Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing.  It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 was accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you.  You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.

It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19), then to make disciples out of those closest to us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them.  But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?

Your love, patience, and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor.  “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  What if God had given up on us?  Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”  We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best.  He did not give up on us!

I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was not all peaches and cream, nor was I sugar and spice and everything nice.  I was a sinner.  My life was not right.  I was not born a Christian, and neither were you.  God has been very patient with me, with us, and we should return that same grace to others.

It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either.  Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.”  People need you today, don’t count them out.  Exhort one another in love.  We need each other so badly to make it through.  Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.

“God Keeps Me”

“And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be,” Exodus 8:23

I really admire people who can or preserve their own products at home. I had a neighbor who does her own canning and her strawberry preserves were really sweet. You didn’t need to add much of it to flavor whatever you were using it on. Delicious!

I think it’s an awesome thing to grow your own produce out of your own garden or to make your special homemade soup and such, and then store them for a future use. Everything I have read about canning encourages me, but also frightens me a little bit. It encourages me because it gives the idea that this is something special I produced. Look how beautifully they’re lined on the shelves for me to take down and use at will. But, it also frightens me a bit because of the potential for bacterial growth if everything is not sterilized and handled correctly.

I know somebody out there who is an experienced canner is shaking their head at me right now. That’s okay, I’m not offended. But, you guys are awesome!

If you read through the book of Exodus, you will come across the story of the plagues. With that, you will also read about the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart each time a plague had come. Even after dealing with an invasion of lice and flies he still refused God. Some people have to learn lessons the hard way, I guess.

As you continue reading, you will come to Exodus 8:22-23 where it says, “I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.” This is what had me thinking about the ability to preserve and can one’s own stuff.

I am amazed at the keeping power of God. Thinking from a human perspective, how difficult would it be to keep flies and other plagues from entering a land adjacent to the one being afflicted for their wrong? This wasn’t a bother-you-at-a-picnic-fly-issue. This was a completely nasty situation!

Verse 21 really opens our eyes to the severity of the situation that God, through Moses, was warning Pharoah of. “Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are.” – EWW! Flies all over the ground that you are stepping on – YUCK! I can imagine the difficulty of opening your mouth to speak to one another without a fly taking refuge on your tonsils – GROSS!  It is what God warned of, and it is what happened.

It was very intense, but through it all, God kept His people separated from that nasty situation (vs. 22).  He put a division between good and evil; between those who were for Him and those who were against Him. Those that were for God didn’t end up singing some sad song which entails swallowing flies.

God is a keeper of them that put their trust in Him. Psalm 16:1 says, “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.” There’s a lot of junk that goes on around us each and every day but God has a special watch over them that belong to Him. What seemed like an impossibility of not having any flies enter Goshen, God did it! “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:37; emphasis mine).

There are a lot of things swarming around us every day. Whether it lands on us or not, God is my keeper in the midst of it all. Trust Him today! He is preserving you to take you off the shelf to use one day.  I may not be confident in my abilities to sterilize, keeping bacteria from entering in (I need a garden first, anyway). But, I don’t have to question God’s ability to properly preserve me. “CAN ME UP, LORD – AND KEEP ME!”

Photo: Pixbay/RitaE

Tuning In and Tuning Out

 

 

I absolutely love earplugs.  As someone who spends a great deal of time reading and studying, the ability to block out irritating and distracting noises is quite appealing to me.  I mean, really, I could be in the same room with someone watching TV, and with my trusty earplugs, I can continue in my little-secluded paradise of the book or materials I am going through and remain undisturbed.  The people around me can continue their activities all willy nilly and my little bubble of earplug world is protected.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the grand scheme of this thing called life, popping in earplugs to block out unwelcomed voices and interruptions is not so easy.  Yet, what we allow to seep into our hearing can shape you for the good or the bad.  It can influence your next move in life or totally debilitate you depending on what messages you are paying the most attention to.

We have the choice to tune in or tune out the right frequencies that will build our faith, encourage our walk, and bolster our energy that will inspire us to move forward.  Like those radios of old, we turn the knob until we get the right wavelength so that we can hear them playing our song.  And, when it comes to life and where God is leading us, we want them playing our song.  We want to hear things that are pleasing; things that encourage and lift up.

But, as the story of this world goes, that’s not always the case.  Negative is all around us so we have to be selective in what we receive into us, into our thinking, and into our faith.  Sometimes you even have to turn a deaf ear to your own inner voice.  You know the one; the one that expresses doubt and confusion where there should be none.

Every message and every voice we allow to take up space in us is something that will fill us with positive or negative potential.

Gideon was a man in the Bible who had to overcome insecurity.  He not only had to deal with his fear of what it really meant to go against such a large army with a few men, but he also had to tune out his own inner voice that expressed doubt about what God was going to do for him and the people against the Midianite army.

God directed Gideon to go down into the camp with one purpose: to tune him into a different channel of thought than what he had been listening to.  God wanted him to hear something different.  He said, “If you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp,” (Judges 7:10-11, NKJV).

When he got into the camp unawares, what he heard changed his whole perspective on the move of God in his life.  There were certain men of the enemy’s army talking and one told the other of a dream he had: “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed,” (Judges 7:13, NKJV).

The man who was listening to the dream admitted the truth he felt as its telling.  He said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hands God has delivered Midian and the whole camp,” (Judges 7:14, NKJV).  Gideon heard the enemy admit defeat before the battle was even fought because God was with the people of Israel.

When those words fell on Gideon’s ears it changed his perspective on the battle.  Those words fed his inner man with a healthy dose of courage and caused him to get into agreement with God.  He spoke to his fellow countrymen and gave this report: “Arise, for the LORD has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand,” (Judges7:15, NKJV).  He was ready to step into new territory of being victorious for God.  He was ready to take on this battle and win.

Stand guard against what you allow to be fed into your hearing.  For what enters your hearing enters your thoughts, and what enters your thoughts affects the spirit man.  Today, make a conscientious effort to tune in to what God is saying through His Spirit and through His Word and tune out anything negative that speaks against His truth.  Let Him be your spiritual earplugs.

Text Free Photo: Pixabay/LubosHouska

“8 Ways to Speak God’s Blessings Over Your Children!”

 

God wants everyone in your family to be blessed.  From the least, unto the greatest, it is His desire that all that is in your household be entrenched in God’s favor.  What better gift to give to your children than to extend the blessings of the Lord over their life.  These little ones will be the next carriers of God’s word.  They will be the conduits through which generations after them will find their way to the Lord and His salvation.  It all starts with what is planted in them today.  When we step off the scene we want to be sure these future leaders are strengthened in His might and power.

Below are verses you can begin to pray over your children today.  Sow the seed of God’s Word into their life through intercession and may the Lord bless their growth.

  • A prayer for beautifully mature growth – “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style,” – Psalm 144:12, NKJV.
  • A prayer for the instruction of the Lord and peace – “All thy children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children,” Isaiah 54:13.
  • A prayer for understanding and judgment; to be opened to receive guidance – “My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions,” – Proverbs 4:1-2, NLT
  • A prayer to stay on the paths of the righteous – “That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous,” – Proverbs 2:20.
  • A prayer for God’s blessings – “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace,” – Numbers 6:24-26.
  • A prayer for a deep relationship with God – “For in him we live, and move, and have our being . . .” – Acts 17:28.
  • A prayer for protection –  “The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.  The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore,” – Psalm 121:7-8.
  • I declare today, My children are a gift and a blessing from God – Psalm 127:3-5.

There are numerous verses you can proclaim over your family today.  Many of these I have prayed over my own children down through the years and though many are of adult age, some with children of their own, I still find myself praying for them.

God’s Word is powerful!  Why not use it to pray over and bless the lives of your children?