Thoughtful Planning & Smart Work
“Some structures on Earth and beyond appear so graceful we cannot imagine the complicated designs, systems and procedures that made them possible. Architects, engineers, even astronauts must imagine fearlessly — anticipating problems, planning meticulously and course-correcting with split-second agility. Building successfully takes perseverance, teamwork, courage… and a willingness to try.”
~ Lego Interactive Display, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
Tough Struggles & Humble Obedience
We cannot imagine the struggle, hardship, pain and growth that made being who they are today possible. Parents, pastors and even missionaries must pray fearlessly — confessing struggles, seeking wisdom and learning from mistakes — with continual humility and grace-filled obedience.
Building a Godly life takes perseverance, grace and mercy… and a willingness to die daily.
“When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.” (James 4:10)
“But those who obey God’s word really do love him. This is the way to know whether or not we live in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.” (1 John 2:5-6)
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
The best thing we can do for others is to abide in Jesus.
“Extravagant daily time with Jesus — in His Word and in His presence through prayer — is the single most productive thing we can do. It is the most effective way to bless others.” (Dick Brogden, Live Dead Joy, January 23)
We can too easily become overwhelmed like Moses because of the demands of leadership and ministry (Exodus 18) or resentful like Martha with the demands of serving when Jesus visited her home (Luke 10:38-42). Fortunately, we can also become like them in our willingness to be teachable and learning to abide with the Lord.
Psalm 23 reminds us of the benefits of continually abiding with the Lord:
“He restores my soul.”
Restored souls come through abiding with Christ. They come through the “disciplined rhythm” of daily time dwelling with God. Restored souls don’t fall into sin or depression because they’ve made “extravagant daily time with Jesus” a priority.
A restored soul is productive for God, able to pour out as He has filled them up. No burning out. A restored soul depends on God and teaches others to do so through their attitudes, actions and words.
Are you a restored soul? If yes, rejoice! If not, how can you become one?
This post is adapted from the “Live Dead Joy” January 23rd devotion by Dick Brogden.
God gives Christians a variety of ways to receive encouragement, including through scripture, through the Holy Spirit and through fellowship with other Christians. All of these provide consistent and bountiful resources of encouragement for His children.
Scripture tells us to “be encouraged.”
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
Notice that the focus of an encouraged individual lies outside of the self. In fact, the focus lies specifically on the Lord. Notice how the first nine verses of Psalm 77 show this a focus on the self, state of mind we often find ourselves stuck in when we are discouraged.
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
When we choose to focus on God instead of our feelings and emotions, we’ll experience a building confidence for the present and the future. We’ll realize that experiencing discouragement is inevitable, but being encouraged is a choice. The transition in Psalm 77, verses 10-12, shows this switch of focus.
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
The rest of Psalm 77, verses 13-20, then take us through all there is to focus on with regard to God — His activity, His holiness & power, redemption and His creation. In doing so, we discover much-needed encouragement.
Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Turning our focus to God as Psalm 77 illustrates helps us find peace in chaos and to discover courage as we wait for God’s timing. Moving our focus from emotions and feelings toward God and His might, power and goodness, allow us to move forward in confidence because we know God goes with us as our constant source of encouragement.