Archive | October 2012

Encourage One Another

Ever been discouraged? Probably, you’re all too familiar with the feeling. Consider the meaning of the word discouraged. It means to be “made less hopeful or enthusiastic” or to “lack resolution.” In other words, you’ve somehow lost the ability to feel like you can move forward.

Sometimes, discouragement hits in one particular area. And sometimes, you lack courage for life in general. Regardless, discouragement makes us less effective as women, moms, wives, friends, daughters and Christians.

And unfortunately, discouragement so often leads to negative thinking that leads to actions that do not glorify God. This can be depression or a sour disposition or it can lead to old patterns of sinful behavior.

Life has a way of dragging us down, and our overwhelmed and too-busy culture certainly makes life seem even more discouraging. So what is a girl to do?

Fortunately, the Bible tells us exactly how to counteract the deceitfulness that discouragement often leads to. Hebrews 3:13 says to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

That’s right! The way to counteract discouragement is to encourage OTHERS. And we are told to do this daily. Have you encouraged someone today?

Here are 10 ways to encourage another person:

  1. Smile.
  2. Say “good job.”
  3. Take someone coffee.
  4. We’re women… compliment someone’s hair, shoes, purse, etc.
  5. Send a card.
  6. Send a “thinking of you” text.
  7. Take some time to just talk to someone.
  8. Pray with someone.
  9. Exercise with a friend.
  10. Tell someone “thank you” for encouraging you.

Here’s the secret about encouraging others: You’ll come away more encouraged too!

What other suggestions do you have for encouraging others?

For more reading on this topic, check out the article How to… Be Encouraging Just By Being You.

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Have you ever had to go without your cell phone, tablet, iPad or whatever device you use for any length of time? How about a day? Maybe a couple of days? What about a week? How did it feel? Disconnected, right? Didn’t know what to do with yourself when you went to check for messages, and you couldn’t, right?

Now think of prayer as your cell phone, tablet and iPad that connects you to God. Except, the battery never dies. There are never technical difficulties. Nothing breaks down. No service outages. The connection is always open and has full bars. There’s never a time of disconnection with God. Never.

In fact, there’s not even a place we can go where we can’t connect to Him. He even goes to the places where we think He can’t find us. No need to list them. We all know those places probably all too well. Psalm 139:7-12 gets at the idea that there is no where we can go where God isn’t.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

So, if you’re feeling disconnected from God, it’s not because He is in a meeting, on another call or otherwise busy. It’s not because service between earth and heaven is unavailable. The only device that breaks down is us when we get distracted by the cares and things of this world.

In fact, God said through the prophet Jeremiah that we can CALL HIM anytime! “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Won’t you take a minute to connect with Him right now?

This entry was posted on October 18, 2012. 1 Comment

Efficient Christians

A key to efficient running is eliminating anything that slows you down. That can mean altering the food you eat, the clothes you wear, your shoes, and even your form. Cyclists also do whatever they can to eliminate anything that might slow them down. They even sometimes shave their body hair hoping (in vain it turns out) it will gain them precious seconds on their competitors.

In the Christian life, we must also work to lighten the load as we walk the will of God to allow our “race” to be more efficient and to not become encumbered. Satan is an accuser (Revelation 12:10), and he will bring up our past failures in an attempt to weigh us down and keep us from focusing on the wonderful future God has in store for us. Even without Satan’s help, we slow ourselves down by dwelling on the past, our mistakes as well as our “if only” thoughts.

Whether we fall prey to Satan’s tactics or are led down the wrong path by our own thinking, our spiritual growth becomes stunted because our eyes (focus and attention) are turned away from the goal of knowing Jesus better. Paul focuses on this idea in Philippians 3:12-14 where he writes,

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul certainly was not saying we should never look back. We absolutely should remember and celebrate the great things God has done. This is the reason we are commanded to regularly take communion as an act of remembrance of what Jesus did for us on the cross. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

What Paul is saying is that we should hold on to those things that bring Him glory and draw us closer to Him while letting go of anything else that distracts us and takes our focus off of Him. We are to keep working toward all Christ wants us to do and be, and in this effort we are straining to reach the end of the race when we are called home to Heaven.

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Notes in My Bible

Do you make notes in your Bible? My Bible is a Notemakers Bible, designed especially for those who like to take notes, because I take a lot of notes. Some notes come from sermons I hear, and I try to note the date and speaker with those notes. But manyof the notes in my Bible come from personal Bible study time.

Whenever I am feeling restless, a bit anxious or even just unable to concentrate, I flip through my Bible and read the notes in the margins. Doing so always calms me, grounds me and focuses me. You see, God speaks to us in our time with Him, and He wants us to use His words in our everyday lives.

Take a trip with me through the pages of my Bible, through the notes that resonate with the voice of God.

  1. Knowing we belong to Him doesn’t have to do with what our feelings indicate. (1 John 2:3-6)
  2. Whenever you have the chance to insult someone, don’t. (1 Peter 3:9)
  3. Balance means getting rid of evil things and picking up holy things. (Ephesians 4:22-25)
  4. God comforts us, so we can comfort others. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
  5. Refreshment comes from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 4:20)
  6. He’s always listening; it’s me who has to clear my mind and be prepared. (Jeremiah 29:12-14)
  7. Perfect peace? (Isaiah 26:3-4)
  8. God sets our priorities for us. We don’t have to wonder. (Proverbs 4:23-27)
  9. God does a lot with our little. (2 Kings 4:1-7)
  10. Leaders need to study the Word. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

For me, this exercise renews my spirit by reminding me of what God has done and is doing in my life. The notes with dates beside them add additional nourishment by giving me a more specific view of my spiritual progress.

What’s the point? Spend time with God. Let Him give you His truth through His Word. Rely on His Word to give you the stepping stones you need to make it through not just the traumatic events of life but also through the small, difficult steps that make up your day.

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