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Grumpy Grandma

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Encouragement for Today
« on: February 20, 2015, 07:54:05 PM »
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Encouragement for Today
JANUARY 8, 2015
Why Do I Have So Many Issues?
LYSA TERKEURST

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Have you ever looked at other people and thought to yourself, "How does everyone else have it all together?  And why is it I seem to have so many issues?"

I understand. For most of my life, I’ve struggled with my weight and committing to a healthy lifestyle. My soul was rubbed raw from years of trying and failing.  I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.  I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I’d never let another person call me.  I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.  I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.  So when I lost 25 pounds a few years ago and kept it off for the first time in my life, it was a huge victory.  But my real celebration hasn’t been over the smaller clothing size and reduced numbers on the scale. My real celebration is over the spiritual insights I gained while losing the weight and maintaining my healthy progress.  For me, this has been a spiritual journey a significant spiritual journey with great physical benefits. I had been overweight physically and underweight spiritually and finally tying those two things together was life changing.  One of the richest lessons has been realizing the amount of mental and spiritual energy I wasted for years just wishing things would change. All the while, I was beating myself up for not having the discipline to make those changes.If you have an issue with weight and food, you know what I mean. But no matter what issue you are currently dealing with, can I offer a bit of encouragement?

Jesus wants to help you with that issue. He really does. But you’ve got to stop beating yourself up about it and determine to follow His lead.  We like to identify our shortcomings, form them into a club, and beat the tar out of ourselves mentally. Over and over and over again. We label ourselves and soon lose our real identity to the beaten and bruised fragility we call "me."  We compare, we assume, we assess, we measure and most times walk away shaking our head at how woefully short our "me" falls compared to everyone else. How dangerous it is to hold up the intimate knowledge of our imperfections against the outside packaging of others.  If there is one thing that living 40-plus years has taught me it’s this: All God’s girls have issues. Every single one of us.  But we can make the choice to identify our shortcomings and instead of using them against ourselves, hand them over to Jesus and let Him chisel our rough places.  The grace-filled way Jesus chisels is so vastly different than the way I mentally beat myself up.  My mental scripts are too often full of exaggerated lies that leave me feeling defeated. His chiseling is full of truth that sets me free.  Oh what a difference.  Jesus doesn’t compare.  Jesus doesn’t exaggerate. Jesus doesn’t condemn. Our key verse, Romans 8:1, confirms this.  He simply says, "Hey, I love you. I love you just how you are. But, I love you too much to leave you stuck in this. So, let’s work on it together. You can do this.  There is something so powerful in really believing that with Jesus’ help you can do this. Say it with me, "I can." I can is a powerful little twist for a girl feeling deprived and defeated.  I can helps me walk into the dinner party and find the conversation more appealing than the food table. I can helps me stay on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresher, healthier selections abound and smile that I know this.  I can helps me look at the drive-thru menu and order a fruit tray without even giving a thought to the fried foods I used to snack on. I can reminds me to look online for a restaurant’s nutritional information before going out, ensuring wiser choices. I can reminds me no food will ever taste as sweet as victory does.  Having issues isn’t the absence of victory in our lives. It’s simply a call to action reminding us victory is right around the corner. Today is a great day to start believing you were made to walk in victory and to say to Jesus, "Yes, with Your truth as my guide, I can."

Dear Lord, help me see myself the way You see me. Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge. You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (NIV)

Kranky Kat

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Re: Encouragement for Today
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2015, 08:24:11 PM »
January 14, 2015
Finding Your Sweet Spot
Ruth Soukup

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)

To many people she was simply ordinary. Nothing special. Forgettable.  An "average" student, she didn’t play sports, wasn’t involved in clubs, was never voted into student council. She never really stood out or commanded attention.  But those people didn’t see her quiet drive and determination.  They didn’t see how she worked her way through high school, saving enough to pay for community college and beauty school. They didn’t see the personal tragedies she endured that inspired her to work harder. They didn’t see her consistently pushing herself to be better, learning everything she could about doing hair, fashion, style and running a business.  Although we now live more than 3,000 miles apart, my childhood friend Alysha still inspires me daily.  Today, Alysha owns and operates a successful salon and boutique. Sleek, stylish and full of sparkle, it’s appropriately named Bliss. Simply walking through the door makes you feel special  She is not just good at what she does, she is great.  Alysha and I have been best friends since the sixth grade and I’ve had a front-row seat to all the times people underestimated her. I’ve watched her keep doing what she loved, despite her challenges, until she found her sweet spot.  Our sweet spot is that place where our greatest passions and our talents or abilities intersect.  It’s that special place where we feel most called, that thing we love, that thing we’re great at that makes life worth living.  Just like Alysha, living in the sweet spot means having courage to follow our dreams, take risks and work harder than we ever thought to accomplish our goals.  As our key verse in Romans 12 says, each of us has different gifts. Some excel in leading, while some encourage others or effectively serve in the background, giving, organizing or following through. And while some gifts might appear flashier or more important than others, they’re all essential. Your sweet spot is yours alone.  The truth is, all gifts come from God: "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us," (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NLT).

Finding your sweet spot often means a messy process of finding, then learning how to embrace the God-given talents you already have, rather than those you wish you had. It means discovering what you enjoy and are truly good at, then determining how to merge talent and abilities with the ideas, dreams and pursuits you are most passionate about. And sometimes finding your sweet spot means taking a wrong turn or even failing along the way.  But despite the messiness of it all, my hope is we become fearless and dare to take the plunge, even when it means risking failure. Philippians 4:13 reminds us: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV)

Don’t let the fear of falling short deter you from trying. You will make mistakes. You will mess up. You may have to admit defeat. Keep going. Use them as opportunities to discover what doesn’t work, but always persevere.  Your sweet spot is there, waiting for you, even if you haven⁏t quite found it yet, and in the end, it is exactly where you need to be.  Dear Lord, help me discover the gifts and talents You gave me, to find that sweet spot You have reserved for me. To encounter that place where my passion and abilities intersect, because I know that it is there that I can do the work You have called me to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:17-18, "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." (NIV)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2015, 09:56:37 PM by Pippa »

CabbagePatchKid

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2015, 03:33:14 PM »
Encouragement for Today
 
FEBRUARY 16, 2015
The God Who Holds the Stars, Holds You
Sally Clarkson

"Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."  ~  Psalm 139:12 (NASB)

"Mama, the world seems like a very scary place, and it makes me feel insecure and powerless. I’m afraid I’ll be so lonely without friends and family to face the difficulties ahead."

Joy, my daughter, a senior in college, was leaving the next day for a semester of study in Oxford, England. Yet the day we were packing, ISIS had just killed the second of two American journalists. Friends sent messages to Joy wondering if she had seen the news.  "England will be the next target, and that might start war while you are there," one of her friends texted.   

With devastating, disastrous world news including earthquakes, war, immorality amongst Christian leaders as a young woman, Joy understandably felt overwhelmed.  Late into the night, we zipped her last suitcase. We were both exhausted from the adrenalin of getting all the details in place for her flight the next day, but she pleaded "Can we have one last time together out on the grass, under the stars? I need some peace before I go to bed."

I knew her fears were still there, so I whispered, "Yes, my sweets! We will make one more memory together before you go."

As was our habit, we took some soft, old blankets out to our front yard, under the tall pines, and lay next to each other shoulder to shoulder on the grass. The cold Colorado mountain air blew gently across our faces, and the aspen leaves in the distance swished and danced. A dog barked in the distance, but otherwise, the night whispered clear and quiet.  We gazed into the sky and silently shared the moment. Stars filled the navy blue landscape and sparkled as though just for us. We breathed out life’s clutter and fears of the day and inhaled the peacefulness of the grandeur above.  "Mama, when I look at what God has done, and keep my eyes on Him, it seems like my fears are melting away," she whispered and snuggled closer.

God’s own voice seemed to speak to my heart as I answered:  "Joy, this vast display of stars has been held in place by the sure, strong hands of God for thousands of years, through wars, tragedies, sadness and disasters of every kind. Not one year of our history has shaken the power or control of God."

"As I lived through years of sleepless nights when you were gasping for breath with asthma, through car wrecks, financial disasters, the tragedies of our friends, I can look back and see the constant faithfulness of God, every day, every year.  "Our God who created this beauty for us to behold, who has shown His power through the calm night skies is the one who will be with you every step of your journey ahead.  "He will fill you with the Spirit who threw the night sky into place, so that you will know His companionship, love, beauty and wisdom each step in your journey. Remember what He told Joshua when he was afraid: ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9, NASB).

"Joy, God prepared a story of faith for you to live. Many in Oxford long to know His love that you will bring. Others who look for meaning will need the messages of His truth that are stored in your soul. Beauty will be strewn across your path so you can observe His fingerprints.  Your hope and faith are needed by those who are filled with despair in these dark times. If you embrace the days ahead that He has prepared for you, your time in Oxford will be a purposeful time, no matter what the days hold. Wherever you go, you will bring His light and love.  But remember, Joy, you will always have a choice to make.  If you look at the darkness and fear of the news of the day, you will grow dark in your soul.  Look to God. Choose to trust Him with your days. Live in His reality.  Don’t look at fear, just keep the memory of this night, His power and beauty always in your thoughts and you will find courage and hope that you need every day. The God who holds the stars holds you."

Heavenly Father, let us keep our gaze upon You and rest in Your ability to carry us through all of our fears, through all of our days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (NASB)
Isaiah 41:10, "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (NASB)

Pippa

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2015, 12:49:03 PM »
Encouragement for Today
 
MARCH 23, 2015
What if the Next Big Step God Wants You to Take is Small?
LYSA TERKEURST

"Listen for GOD’S voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track." Proverbs 3:6 (MSG)

It was a hot day inside and outside at the orphan village in Liberia. The 12 boys inside, practicing their choir music, found their eyes wandering over to the soccer field, where the promise of fun and the cheers of their friends tugged at them.  They were feeling the pull of wanting to go outside and play soccer. But these boys determined the choir was worth the sacrifice.  Years earlier, Liberia had been ravaged by a civil war that left more than 25,000 orphans to be cared for. So to raise money and support, an a cappella boys’ choir was formed to travel throughout the country of Liberia and perform in churches.  Two of the teenage boys in that choir, Jackson and Mark, had been orphaned as babies when their parents and most of their siblings were killed by rebel forces.  Night after night, these boys knelt beside their makeshift beds and poured out prayers of thanksgiving and hope that one day they’d hear six simple yet life changing words, "You are my child welcome home."

God had a perfect design for their prayers to be answered and worked miracle after miracle to bring the boys’ choir to America. But little did I know my husband Art and I would be part of the answer to Mark and Jackson’s prayers.  Our life was busy and full, and we were enjoying being the parents of three little girls. So you can imagine my surprise the night I went to see The Liberian Boys’ Choir concert at our church that I was stirred to consider adoption.  As I sat in the concert, God whispered to my heart that two of those boys singing were mine. No, I thought. Not me.  I felt like sticking my fingers in my ears and singing, La, la, la, la, la I’m not listening to You, God!  But the stirring in my heart wouldn’t stop.  I decided to try a new tactic with Him. Lord, I just came here tonight to bring my girls to a simple little cultural event. I’m not looking for a major life change. My life is already very full with speaking and writing and homeschooling three girls. Besides, all my friends would think I was crazy, and my husband would never think this is a good idea.  But God wasn’t discouraged by my response. His directive in my heart became more intense as the evening went on. After the concert, I asked the coordinator of the event which of the boys still needed homes. He told me that eight of the boys still needed to find families and encouraged me to walk into the reception area where they were. If God intended for some of these boys to be ours, he was sure I’d know it.  Reluctantly, I walked into the reception area. In a matter of seconds, Jackson and Mark walked up to me, wrapped their arms around me, and called me Mom.  I was moved and terrified at the same time.  What began as a small heart prompting had turned into a very big decision for our family.  After talking with Art, we cried out to God, desperate for His guidance and wisdom. We pondered every aspect and wrestled with this decision deep in our spirits.  Still, doubts and questions flooded our minds: How could we financially increase the size of our family?

How would we find the time in our already crammed schedule?

How would we raise boys?

How would we find room in our home?

The list went on and on.  One day, I called a friend and poured out my heart. I told her I could list many other parents who were much more qualified to adopt. She patiently listened without much response as I asked, "Why me?"

Then quietly and prayerfully she answered: "Because God knew you’d say yes, Lysa."

I was stunned. It was the highest compliment I’d ever received. My heart was filled with joy as memories filled my mind of the years of small steps God had me take to reach the place where I could be prepared to take this much bigger step.  Now, over 10 years later, I think back to sitting in that church pew, just going about my ordinary life when God’s extraordinary invitation burst forth. I could have so easily walked out of that church and ignored God’s stirring. I’ve done that more times than I’d like to admit. But look at everything we would have missed out on, had I done that.  Hear my heart: I’m not saying everyone is called to adopt. Honestly, the next big step God wants you to take might actually be small. But we’ll never know what that next step is if we don’t "listen for GOD’S voice in everything we do, everywhere we go" as Proverbs 3:6 instructs us.

Each day we can look for His invitation to leave our plans behind to join Him in His wondrous work through small steps of obedience.

Dear Lord, today I will embrace what You have for me. I will step out in faith because Your ways are higher than mine! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 16:9, "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." (NLT)

Mrs Baggins

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Re: Encouragement for Today
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2015, 05:39:04 PM »
Encouragement for Today
 
APRIL 22, 2015
When Concern Consumes Me
RENEE SWOPE

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

As we drove home from a weekend away in the mountains, I felt a heavy sense of dread and sadness. Laying my head back on my seat, I told my husband, JJ, "I don’t want to go home."

The stress and strain of countless commitments at home and at work were taking a toll on me. If only I could return to that little mountain town where no one knew me or needed me.  JJ asked some clarifying questions, and then he suggested I make a list of everything on my plate so I could ask God what needed to be cut back.  Honestly, at first I resented the fact that he was adding one more thing "to do" on my already long list of things I’d never get done.  But later that week I took his advice and wrote out all my commitments and concerns. I made a list of deadlines and dates on my calendar with every appointment, event, conference call and meeting I could think of for the next six months.  And I prayed: Please God, show me where I need to make changes.

I assumed the Holy Spirit would suggest adjustments in my schedule, but that’s not what happened. God didn’t tell me to make cut backs at work or in ministry. He didn’t show me our family had too many activities. He didn’t challenge me to take a sabbatical, although I was hoping He would.
Jesus showed me it was worry not my workload that was making me weary.  You see, during the weeks leading up to my "meltdown," I let my thoughts dwell on the possible negative outcome of several different circumstances and decisions, all at the same time. And without realizing it, I had spent as much time thinking and worrying about concerns, commitments, circumstances and deadlines as I did working on them.  It was not only how I spent my time, but how I spent my thoughts that left me depleted. It wasn’t until I brought it all to God, and wrote it all out, that I recognized what was happening.  Instead of escaping to the mountains where no one knows us or needs us, in today’s key verse from Matthew 11:28 above, Jesus invites us to come to Him so He can give us:  Rest for our weary hearts and minds.  "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’" (Psalm 91:1-2, NIV).

Freedom from the captivity of our concerns.  "‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity’" (Jeremiah 29:12-14a, NIV).

Maybe there are worries making you weary. Do you hear Jesus gently inviting you to come to Him, seeking and trusting that His heart is big enough to care and strong enough to carry all that concerns you?

Dear Lord, when concerns consume me, help me remember You are there inviting me to come to You and talk about all I’m thinking and doing. Show me if my workload or my worries are making me weary and help me trust You more with both. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

Grumpy Grandma

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2015, 07:43:33 PM »
Encouragement for Today
 
MAY 22, 2015
Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks
AMY CARROLL

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

From my days as a teacher, I remember the sinking feeling of being ignored. Glazed eyes, slumped postures and fidgety fingers signaled to me my students had tuned me out again, and I knew we were about to face failures.  "But I didn’t know what to do on my homework," a child would exclaim.

"You never taught me this," I’d hear after handing out a bad test grade.

"Why didn’t you help me?" another tear-stained face would plead.

On one hand, I was sympathetic. I remembered being a child, sitting at school, wondering if the day would ever end. Other enticements the sunshine outside, my new bike at home, my best friend whispering beside me would capture my attention, and my teacher’s voice was drowned out by shinier thoughts.  Although I understood my students, my sympathies didn’t run very deep. I had taught them the material, and it was my passion to make the lessons as fun and interesting as possible. But I couldn’t make them learn. They ultimately had to choose to be good students in order to avoid the pain of failure.  Remembering my school days led me to ponder my own adult learning patterns. More often than not, I seem to learn from the school of hard knocks. Recently, I created drama among my friends when I felt the need to fix a problem that was none of my business. The pain of my mess rolled over and over in my heart until I cried out to God, "Lord, I feel beaten and bruised from my failures. Thank You for teaching me through them, but isn’t there an easier way?"

Immediately, today’s key verse came to mind. Our wise and kind Father gently reminded me of His infinitely better way. He’s given us His Word, the Bible, to instruct us so that we don’t have to stay continually in the classroom of pain and failure.  As I thought through the pain of my busybody ways, God used Scripture to show me how I could have avoided the situation. He brought I Thessalonians 4:11-12a to my memory. "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders ..." (NIV).

God was using His Word to do exactly what was promised in our key verse, 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
His Word teaches us. God taught me to desire a quiet life instead of being embroiled in the drama around me.  His Word rebukes us. He showed me that I wasn’t minding my own business. Ouch!  His Word corrects us. Instead of being focused on others, I need to have my eyes fixed on my own calling and work.  His Word trains us in righteousness. As I live these lessons, they will keep me from repeating my mistakes, and I’ll represent Jesus well to those around me while avoiding the consequences of my own sin.  As God’s girls, let’s make it our desire to graduate from the school of hard knocks rather than staying permanently enrolled. I’d much rather learn from God’s Word than the painful consequences of my choices.  Knowing my flaws, I’m certain I’ll have more opportunities to learn from my mistakes, but I’ve embraced a new and improved pattern. Each day, I gaze intently into the face of my Teacher, give Him my full attention and trust Him to show me how to grow and change.

Lord, I’m willing to learn through my mistakes but I ask You to make my heart responsive to the teaching of Your Word. Show me where I need to change as I read Scripture each day, and help me to transform before I struggle and fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 22:29, "Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.’" (NIV)
Proverbs 2:6-7, "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless." (NIV)

CabbagePatchKid

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2015, 09:47:49 PM »
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
 
Encouragement for Today
 
JUNE 23, 2015
Why I Buy Orange Marmalade
KAREN EHMAN

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

The sound of clanking silverware and clinking dishes wafted through the air as my husband and I sat across from each other in a retro styled diner looking over the breakfast menu. We’d been meaning for weeks to spend some time alone, or maybe even go on a real date. So we set our alarms for still dark o’clock and drove a half hour to the quaint eatery.  I’m not a big breakfast eater, so a steaming cup of coffee with fruit and nut oatmeal was enough for me. My husband, however, loves breakfast. So he ordered one of the diner’s famous combo plates that included eggs, sausage and a few pieces of whole grain toast.  He slathered some sweet cream butter on the toast. Then he began to dig through the gingham-lined basket on the table like a child digging through a toy box for a favorite plaything. I had to know, so I asked: "What are you searching for?"

"Orange marmalade," he replied.

"What? Isn’t grape jelly or strawberry jam good enough? You can’t seem to get enough of my homemade strawberry jam," I teased.

"But orange marmalade is my favorite," he answered. "Loved it ever since I was a kid."

Wow. There I sat across from my college sweetheart turned husband whom I’ve known over a quarter century, and I never knew this simple fact he loves orange marmalade.  Often in marriage especially if there are children in the picture we spend so much time just getting life done. Keeping up the house. Making appointments. Tending to the yard work. Shuttling children. Paying bills. And we stop noticing the little things about our spouses the stuff we used to notice all the time when we were dating.  In college, I took good notes on what my then-boyfriend enjoyed. I knew he was a lover of butter pecan ice cream, so sometimes I would pick up a hand packed pint from the local ice cream parlor and deliver it to him when he was studying in the college library.  Back then it seemed easy to put him first, to always be on the lookout for his interests and likes. Selfishness on my part didn’t really exist in our relationship. I was head-over-heels in love with this guy and intent on noticing his preferences and pleasing him.  Sadly, as the days and months of marriage turn into years and decades, it’s easy for noticing to decrease and selfishness to creep in. Instead of longing to please our spouses, even in the little things, we often look to get our own way. Today’s key verse seems to be the perfect prescription for this dilemma. We are encouraged to look not just to our own interests, but also in humility look to the interests of others. There are so many ways to apply this verse in marriage!  It may mean spending a weekend doing activities your spouse prefers. In my case, that would mean attending a jazz festival on a Saturday with my trumpet-playing husband, rather than hunting for antiques at a large indoor market, which bores him to death.  Sometimes it might be a more important matter, and other times it could be a seemingly trivial thing. Again, in all things means not only looking to your own interests, but in humility looking to the interests of your spouse.
In a culture of selfies and selfishness, let’s purpose to take notice of our spouse’s interests and show them love in even the smallest of ways. For me, that means I’m now surfing the Internet for a winning orange marmalade recipe. Well, that and buying a few jars of the store-bought variety for back up!

Father, may I be on the lookout for ways to bless my spouse both in the little interests of life and in the major issues of marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 4:2, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (NIV)

Ice Maiden

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2015, 09:43:00 PM »
Monday, September 7, 2015

Encouragement for Today
 
SEPTEMBER 7, 2015
Why Teachers Need Our Prayers
STEPHANIE RAQUEL

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

We sat together at the table, nestled into the tiny chairs made for young students.  The students’ artwork hung throughout the room the pencils ready, sharpened for writing projects and my husband and I got a newsy update about our daughter’s progress during the school year.  As the principal’s voice came over the intercom announcing it was time to wrap up our 15 minute appointment, we realized there was no parent standing in the doorway waiting to come in. We had a rare extra pocket of time with our daughter’s teacher.  This open window allowed us to continue our conversation and we began to chat about real life. Which included some pretty tough stuff.  We were on the same committee for an upcoming event and she apologized for missing some of our meetings. She then shared the hard reason she’d been absent. Her husband had recently learned he had a rare form of cancer and they were in the middle of considering all their options.  Talk about real life, indeed.  As a cancer survivor I wanted to offer some hope, but at the same time, felt my personal story or encouraging words weren’t enough.  So although I’d never asked her before, in that moment I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to ask if I could pray for her right then, and she agreed. After I finished praying, she thanked me and then relayed how she and her husband had been growing in their own faith lately.  Although this was a teacher I’d known for several years, I’m sad to say it took a conversation about cancer to lead me to discuss matters of faith or pray aloud with her. But I’m oh so thankful that I didn’t ignore God’s prompting. And at the same time, I was utterly convicted to do more of that.  As today’s key verse Colossians 4:2 reminds us, God calls us to devote ourselves to pray "with an alert mind and a thankful heart."

Seems simple enough, right?

However, I know I have room to grow in this department!  I want to have that alert mind and be on the lookout for ways to pray more personal, specific prayers for everyone in my sphere of influence especially the teachers in my world.  So as this new school year begins, will you join me in prayer for our teachers?

Whether they’re public or private teachers, home schooling parents, college professors, children’s church leaders or Bible study teachers, they’re all influencing others.  This summer, I began doing weekly prayer walks around my kids’ schools. Some specific areas I’ve prayed for in this upcoming school and ministry year include: safety, leadership transitions, divine wisdom in lesson planning, endurance, health, perseverance to finish strong, encouragement to handle difficult situations and an abundance of grace and patience in solving difficult situations.  As our children (and sometimes we ourselves) head back to school, let’s remember the vital role teachers play. And why they need our prayers.

Father God, I come before You and lift up all our teachers. Thank You for the important part they play in our lives. Lord I also ask You help me stay devoted to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Empower me to encourage the teachers in my world to keep on pressing on, when it would be so much "easier" to quit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Timothy 2:1-2, "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity." (NLT)
James 5:16, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (NLT)

Kranky Kat

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2015, 05:55:16 PM »
Friday, September 11, 2015

Encouragement for Today
 
SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
Your Life Can Display God’s Power
TRACIE MILES

"‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.’" John 9:3 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered why God allows you to suffer?

Was it something you did wrong?

Or was someone else at fault?

We want to find someone to blame, especially when so much bad happens in our world.  I struggle with these thoughts as well, but years ago God’s Word helped me see a different perspective. Jesus’ disciples had these same questions, and John chapter 9 records Jesus’ interesting response.  Jesus and His disciples were walking through the streets of a city when they encountered a blind man. One of the disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind: "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’" (John 9:1-2, NLT)

Jesus lovingly put their confusion to rest with today’s key verse, "‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him’" (John 9:3).

I imagine the disciples standing there, looking perplexed by Jesus’ answer. How could this man’s blindness display the power of God?

How could this physical infirmity bring glory to God?

How could his life serve a higher purpose?

The passage continues, "Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, ‘Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam’ (Siloam means ‘sent’). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!" (John 9:6-7, NLT)

The blind man’s sight was completely healed, but notice that his healing wasn’t immediate. He wasn’t healed when Jesus spat on the mud and smeared it on his eyes, but only after he obeyed what Jesus instructed him to do.  The blind man was healed when he chose to obey the command of Jesus to "go." Without questioning or hesitating, the man went and his obedience resulted in not only healing, but discovering a holy purpose from his pain.  Like many, this man had been suffering with undeserved physical and emotional challenges for decades. He may have lived his entire life feeling inferior, unloved, rejected, excluded and possibly believing he had no purpose. He may have also assumed his past and his current limitations rendered him useless. After all, he didn’t have any special skills or qualifications or even eyesight.  But here stood Jesus, telling everyone this man’s life could serve as proof of the power of God. But it only happened because of obedience.  Unlike the blind man in this story, we often talk ourselves out of obedience, rather than trusting and obeying God’s command to "go." But when we walk in faith, even when we don’t feel ready and have to push through our doubts, fears and hesitations, true healing and purpose can begin to take shape in our hearts and lives.  We don’t always get answers to why something happened. But regardless of our circumstances or our limitations, when we choose to take a leap of faith, we too can experience true spiritual healing and see a new perspective about our past for the very first time.  What a wonderful world this would be if we all caught a glimpse of how God wants to turn our pain into purpose and use our lives as proof of His power.

Lord, I want my life to serve as proof of Your goodness. Fill me with courage and motivation to go and share with others what You have done for me. Show me how You can turn my pain into purpose and make my life count for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (NLT)
Psalm 119:60, "I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands." (NIV)

Pippa

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2015, 03:30:17 PM »
Monday, September 21, 2015
 
Encouragement for Today
 
SEPTEMBER 21, 2015
When it all Falls Apart
AMY CARROLL

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:32 (NIV, 1984)

Everything seemed to go wrong at the same time. Instead of having "one of those days," I was having one of those months!  The emotional load in our home increased as my eldest son moved back from college, filling every square inch of our little house with testosterone. My youngest son graduated from high school and then had an accident that would require surgery. My computer crashed, not just once but three times. A spur-of-the-moment trip required hours of unscheduled time. An event I was planning seemed to teeter between success and epic fail. On top of it all, my little dog came down with intestinal issues I’ll spare you the details.  For a time, not one thing in my life seemed to measure up to the picture of perfection in my head. Not my messy home. Not my fearful mothering. Not my unstable professional life. Not my overloaded schedule.  Nothing.  I felt weak and overwhelmed. For a woman who loves order, a managed schedule and peace, it’s not easy to face times like these. Maybe you’ve had seasons similar to mine. Perhaps for some of you, it’s been even longer even one of those years when chaos seems to reign.  As difficult as it is to cope when life gets messy, we can view struggles as a great opportunity to operate in a new way. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong and imperfect, we can turn our focus to the Perfect One, our heavenly Father. When it’s obvious our best efforts and planning aren’t good enough, we can shift our perspective to the Source of our true strength.  Our key verse, Psalm 18:32, reminds us: Our own strength isn’t enough, but God’s is.  We all want to be strong and competent. Yet the Bible suggests we should embrace our weaknesses as a reminder to trust in God’s strength alone. Paul gave us a picture of the perfection of our weakness when he said, "And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB).

I’m learning to embrace chaos as a sweet call from God to rest in Him when my own work falls short.  Striving for perfection is exhausting. But God waits for us to give in and step aside. Once I end my pursuit of perfection, God can begin His perfecting work in me. We’re unable to create perfection, but God makes our way perfect.  What does it look like in everyday life to exchange my weakness for God’s strength?

To choose His way over my way?

It’s trusting Him, rather than trusting my own capabilities.  It’s surrendering the pictures of perfection that I carry around in my head to the presence of God in my imperfect reality.  It’s walking in daily obedience to His Word and direction, rather than charting my own course.  God works powerfully in the midst of our weakness to show His power as we trust, surrender and obey. That’s when His strength and perfect way is displayed most brightly in our lives.

Lord, I know if I surrender to You I don’t have to be strong all by myself. Instead of sinking into my tangled circumstances, will You teach me to draw on Your strength? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 1:25, 27, "The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than men but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong." (NASB)
Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe." (NASB)

Mystique

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Encouragement for Today
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2015, 08:30:13 PM »
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Encouragement for Today
OCTOBER 7, 2015
Have You Forgotten How to Dream?
GLYNNIS WHITWER

"Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work." Jeremiah 1:5a (NCV)

"What God-inspired dreams do you have in your heart now?"

As a table leader for our church’s women’s event, I read the question aloud, then smiled expectantly at the small group of women surrounding me.  Eyes looked down, up and to the left. Fingers fiddled with pens. One woman sipped her coffee and focused on the rising steam. Seconds ticked by silently as I gave them time to think.  Surely someone will say something, I thought, as the silence turned awkward.  But no one said anything. Hmmm I’ll try another approach. So I revised the question, "What would you do for God if you knew you wouldn’t fail?"

Again, crickets.  As I looked at those precious women, all ages and stages of life, my heart ached. I knew from the ice breaker question their days were laden with concerns. Although they weren’t complaining, real challenges slipped into their answers: jobs, demanding schoolwork, caring for children with developmental needs, serious health issues and more.  The idea of a God given dream must seem impossible when your 2 year old isn’t walking and your savings are dwindling. In fact, getting through the day without falling apart was the only "dream" shared that night by one sweet lady when the quiet was just too much.  The very lack of dreams then became the discussion as we realized we’d forgotten to dream for ourselves.  We knew how to dream years ago; children have no problem dreaming big dreams. Yet as life responsibilities piled up, it was easy to forget to dream. In fact, sometimes a dream even felt selfish when there were so many great needs.  Yet when God gives us a dream, it’s not for selfish reasons, it’s for Kingdom reasons. And He has uniquely wired us to be able to fulfill that dream with His help.  Scripture tells us God chose us and set us apart for a special purpose: "Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work" (Jeremiah 1:5a).

It’s one thing to read those words on the page and understand them intellectually. It’s another thing altogether to believe them with my heart. Especially when inner doubts find their way to the surface:

* How could God choose me for anything important when I can’t even go to Target with my kids without a meltdown?
* How could I be set apart when there’s nothing special about me?
* And a "special work"? That’s for people much more important than I am.

But here’s what I know about God: He crafted each of us with such great love and intentionality that the dream He wants to give us is what we were created to do.  He knows our potential because He placed it there. Inside each of us, He deposited seeds of talent. He appointed our personalities. He established our strengths. And all lay in wait for His Spirit to empower us to pursue our God given dreams.  Because we serve a loving God, many times the "special work" He assigns comes in the form of a dream that will bring us joy. I’ve met women who dream of caring for foster children, bringing fresh water to a village, writing a book or teaching Bible study from a stage.  These dreams can feel selfish because we want them so much. But we can know they are God given when they are aligned to His Word, and we want God to get all the glory and take none of it for ourselves.  Dreams are never easy to accomplish. In fact, sometimes they seem downright impossible. And yet, Scripture tells us in Matthew 19:26 that with God, all things are possible.  Perhaps this is the greatest reason we stop dreaming God dreams. We let people and percentages, facts and figures determine the probability of achieving our dreams.  But what would happen if we took the "impossible" label off our dreams?

What if we declared God’s power to fulfill every dream He plants in our hearts?

Wouldn’t it be amazing?

Today, let’s rip that "impossible" label off, scrunch it up and toss it in the garbage. And then, like a child, let’s remember to dream again.

Dear Lord, thank You for calling me to serve You in ways that bring me joy. I want to always be open to the next dream You want to plant in my heart. Help me keep my eyes and heart tuned to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Timothy 1:9, "It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began to show his love and kindness to us through Christ." (TLB)
Matthew 18:3, "And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’" (NIV)

Daffy

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Re: Encouragement for Today
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2015, 02:23:26 PM »
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Encouragement for Today
 
OCTOBER 22, 2015
The Root of My Rot
LYSA TERKEURST

"Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:24 (NLT)

Recently, a friend of mine really hurt my feelings and I got all bent out of shape. And, honey, everyone in my house knew Mama wasn’t happy. I tried everything to usher gentleness back into my tone and my temper.  I quoted verses.  I rebuked Satan.  I bossed my feelings around with truth.  I even tried to take a nap.  But none of these activities soothed me.  What really sent me over the edge, though, was a smell that started to fill my home that not even three strongly scented candles could mask.  Unfortunately, as the mysterious, awful smell continued to waft through my home, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was or where it was coming from.  Finally, I realized my daughter had placed a trashcan in the middle of my bedroom floor so she could toss scraps of paper as she worked on a school project. Some food had obviously been thrown away in that forgotten trashcan that had surpassed gross and moved into the final stages of rot.  I didn’t have the heart to find out what the rot was; I just knew the trash can had to go. Immediately.  The smell was an outside indication of an internal situation. And the trashcan wasn’t the only thing that stunk that night. So did my attitude.  My reaction was also an outside indication of an internal situation.  The reason I couldn’t be soothed by quoting Scripture, bossing my feelings, rebuking Satan or even taking a nap is because God wanted me to be aware of my stink something inside of me that stunk a place starting to rot.  I’d been hurt by a friend and didn’t want to confront the issue or forgive the person who had hurt me. I’d stuffed bitterness in my heart and tried to pretend it wasn’t there. But the rot was there and the stink from deep within my heart kept spilling out.  God didn’t want me to temporarily mask the situation by feeling better in the moment. He wanted me to address the root of my rot to see it, admit it, expose it, let Him clean it up and shut it down. Immediately.  In our key verse, we’re reminded of King David’s plea to the Lord, "Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."

We must have this same attitude when it comes to our own lives.  A little rot can spread fast and furiously if not dealt with swiftly and seriously. That’s why it’s so crucial to pay attention to our reactions today.  How we react is a crucial gauge of what’s really going on inside us.  When people or issues or situations bump into our happy, it’s not wrong to feel annoyed. But if that annoyance leads to a reaction out of proportion to the issue at hand, we can bank on the fact that this eruption has a root of rot.  Here are some telltale signs of roots of rot:

•  I throw out statements like, "You always" ... "You never" ... "Why can’t we ever ..."
•  I start gathering ammunition from past situations to build my case.
•  I use words and a tone outside my normal character.
•  I justify my reaction by pointing out how hard my life is right now.
•  I demand an apology, all the while knowing I should be giving one.

These are not fun to admit, but here’s the beauty of the situation: The quicker we see a root of rot, the quicker we can get rid of the stink and move forward.

Dear Lord, thank You for bringing to light the rotting areas of my life. Help me to address these areas with Your grace and truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 26:2: "Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart." (NLT)

Grumpy Grandma

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Re: Encouragement for Today
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2015, 02:45:35 PM »
Friday, October 23, 2015

Encouragement for Today
 
OCTOBER 23, 2015
The Entitlement Cure
DR. JOHN TOWNSEND

"But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.’" 2 Kings 5:11 (NIV)

Entitlement is an issue that we read about in the news all the time, and yet it’s one we may feel a bit confused about. Fortunately, God’s Word gives us an example of a man who suffered from entitlement. His name is Naaman.  Naaman was a respected commander of a powerful army, a strong soldier, well regarded by his superiors and yet, had leprosy. At this time, there was no known cure for this disease.  One of his servants told him where he could go to be healed. So Naaman went to Elisha with his horses and chariots. Elisha told him that if he washed in the Jordan River seven times, he would be cleansed.  Here’s where we see Naaman’s entitlement: "But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy’" (2 Kings 5:11).

Entitlement encompasses two attitudes: (1) I am exempt from responsibility, and (2) I am owed special treatment. In other words, I don’t have to carry my own burdens, and I should be treated differently.  Naaman presents both of these characteristics in his response. First, in Naaman’s mind, he was owed special treatment or at least a proper acknowledgment. Second, Naaman felt that he should be exempt from responsibility. He didn’t want the responsibility to follow orders by washing in the river.  We all have a Naaman in our lives. Perhaps it’s a co-worker, family member or friend who wants you to wave a hand over their situation and fix their problems. Maybe you have a son or daughter that, despite your best parental efforts, has chosen a path of laziness. They feel they deserve special treatment with no responsibility.  Here’s what you need to remember: Change happens in the presence of compassion. Before you look at that Naaman in your life and pretentiously point out all their failings, remember that you have been a Naaman. The Bible says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, NIV).

Here are a few skills that will help the entitled people in your life:

1. Be truly "for" them. Naaman’s servants wanted him to be healed and didn’t settle for less. Entitled people need support! Even when they drive you crazy, frustrate you and make you feel helpless, they still require the elements of grace. We have all failed, and we will all need second and third chances: "Out of his fullness we have all received grace" (John 1:16).

This will help you to have mercy and identify with the person, keeping you away from being judgmental or giving up too soon.

2. Be clear about your expectations. Entitlement often causes people to not listen well to requirements and to others’ needs and expectations. Because those things don’t support their view of themselves as special and above the rules, they tend to dismiss them. Do all you can to defeat this dismissive attitude by being unmistakable in what you want from them. Whether it is specifically defining a payment plan or writing out a goal for their future career path, err on the side of being over clear. Clarity requires that you don’t assume anything in your relationship with your entitled person.

3. Find health. Look for friends, churches, counselors and coaches who are full of grace and truth and who could be a resource for your entitled person. Find where the best relational heath resources are in your area and get them plugged in. In my opinion, offering your entitled friend or coworker this kind of help isn’t being codependent or enabling. It’s supporting them. It’s doing something for them that they can’t do well for themselves. 

At the conclusion of the story, Naaman was healed. With some encouragement, patience and wisdom from his servants, Naaman ultimately followed Elisha’s orders.  Entitlement can be cured too. We won’t be able to wave our hands over the problems of our loved ones. We also can’t expect that they will get it right the first time. Most likely, we will have to walk with them down a Hard Way path of healing.  Through compassionately executing these principles along with several more, we can help our loved ones to be made well. I have seen it happen in so many of my individual and organizational clients. God’s paths work for your good and for His glory.

Lord, thank You for a chance to make a difference. Give me compassion for the Naamans in my life. Help me to be "for" them, give them clear expectations and find the proper care. Even if the path toward healing grows uncomfortable, allow me to take the necessary steps to see them through. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us." (NIV)
Luke 9:23, "Then He said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’" (NIV)

Pippa

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Re: Encouragement for Today
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2015, 02:58:26 PM »
Thursday, October 29, 2015

Encouragement for Today
 
OCTOBER 29, 2015
Sometimes I Talk Too Much
LYSA TERKEURST

"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

I have some opinions.  I have some thoughts.  I have a plethora of words that beg to be spoken.  And if I’m not careful those words can be too much. Maybe you can relate.  Unchecked words that come too fast bring with them a rush of trouble. That’s why it’s important for us to consider three things with our words.

1. Listening should take precedence over speaking.
Honestly, I think a lot of relationship troubles could be solved if we made the commitment to listen more than we speak. Gosh this is hard, isn’t it?

Sometimes when I’m listening to someone all I can focus on is when I’m going to be able to jump in and say what’s screaming in my brain. Later I realize all that focus on my next words prevented me from really listening to what they were trying to say.  What if I made the commitment today to do more listening than speaking?

I’m going to challenge myself to not interrupt. Wait until there is a true pause in the conversation. Truly consider what the other person has said. And then respond with care.  "To answer before listening that is folly and shame." Proverbs 18:13 (NIV)

2. Words should be measured.
I need to engage my brain before I engage my mouth. Just like I consider how a purchase will affect my bank account, I have to consider how words will affect my relationship account. I can do this by thinking about how my words will come across and intentionally asking myself if there are better words that could be used in this situation?

"Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)

3. Once words are spoken, I can’t un-speak them.
Once words come out of my mouth I can’t gather them back in. It’s like once you squeeze too much toothpaste out, you can’t get it back into the tube. Now certainly, I can quickly say I’m sorry. I can ask for forgiveness. I can attempt to make the wrong right. But I can’t unspeak my words.  "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." Proverbs 18:21

If my greatest desire is to honor the Lord with every word I say and interaction I have, these three things are crucial for me to keep in mind. Instead of allowing my flesh reactions to lead me, I’ve got to boss my thoughts and opinions around using God’s Truth.

Dear Lord, I always want my words to reflect the fact that You live within me. But sometimes my first reaction isn’t as God-honoring as it should be. Help me to keep these three perspectives in mind as I deny my flesh response and follow Your teaching in this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 10:19, "Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues." (NIV)
Galatians 5:16-17, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want." (NIV)

coco pops

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Re: Encouragement for Today
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2016, 04:33:54 PM »
Encouragement for Today
 
DECEMBER 3, 2015
I Don’t Know What to Say to God
SUZIE ELLER

"... the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." - Romans 8:26 (NKJV)

We were sitting around the family table when my mom announced, "Suzie, you didn’t talk until you were four."

Um, what?

This was news to me. "So are you saying that I was quiet?"

"Nope, you didn’t talk at all. Not a word. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Vicci, we’d never have known what you needed."

My sister is four years older than I am. Evidently she became a student of her little sister who had no words. When I wanted a drink, she told Mom. When I was tired or hungry, she made certain to communicate my needs.  I eventually found my words, but may I be honest with you?

There have been other times when I’ve lost my ability to know what to say, especially to God.  As a teenager, I didn’t know if things would ever change at home. I didn’t know how to ask God for help.  As a young mom, I held my precious baby in my arms who was born with a serious birth defect. I didn’t know what she needed or what impact this might have, or what to do with my feelings of fear.  When my husband was unhappy with his job and it changed his laid-back and fun personality to quiet sadness, I desperately wanted to help but I didn’t know where to begin or what to say.  For all of us, there are moments when words simply do not describe how we feel, what we need or what we so desperately desire from God.  Romans 8:26 reminds us there is someone who has studied us. The Holy Spirit knows us well. He is aware of our strengths, but He’s also keenly tuned in to our weaknesses. When we are unable to express in words what we hope for so desperately, the Spirit Himself steps in and clearly places our deepest needs before the Father.  I don’t know about you, but that removes pressure that would otherwise weigh this girl down.  We don’t have to have the right words. We don’t have to know the exact details of what is needed in a situation. We don’t have to try to explain how it makes us feel.  He already knows.  Today, if you have no words, be encouraged. When you step into that place of prayer, the Holy Spirit sees your heart. He understands what you want to say, even when it’s still a mystery to you. The moment you place your trust in God, your deepest needs are already being shared.  Perfectly. Succinctly. With all the right words.

Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I might have no words, or struggle to tell You what I need, but You already know. I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit knows my heart, and intercedes for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:16, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being." (NIV)
Micah 7:7, "But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." (NIV)