Tag Archives: encouragement

Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

I’ve been reading a lot of books on purpose, goals, time management, and boundaries. Cramming, almost, like there’s a big test coming up. A book on purpose suggested one craft a mission statement–pick your purpose. A memory spoke up from my mind, and I googled: What is man’s purpose? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Words standing out to me in today’s reading: approved, entrusted, purpose, motives.

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4, NLT. Emphasis added.)

I lay all the challenges at the feet of the Lord, and I wonder and pray. What is the next right thing? What is the next loving thing? The answers could vary greatly depending on whom I’m trying to please.

Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. 10 You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. 11 And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12, NLT)

Father God, you’ve entrusted me with time, talent, and treasure. As your child I know that I am loved by you, faults and all. And in my love for you, I want to live my life in a way that pleases and glorifies you. I pray for wisdom, understanding, direction, and strength in difficult circumstances. I trust in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 11-13; Psalm 8; Romans 13

The prompts were simple: What are you saying no to next month? What are you saying yes to?

Depending on the end goal, an answer could be no to donuts, busyness, or, as I chose, fear. One might say yes to exercise, moderation, or, as I chose, presence. It was a simple prompt. I looked over months of these prompts and I found I was saying no to a lot of things, including: fear, negativity, excuses. And yes to more, including presence, preparation, and discipline.

It seemed important to define the things I was rejecting and the things I was accepting. I think we can accept things we should reject without even realizing it. With three chapters of Proverbs in my reading today, a contrast is clear.

19 Truthful words stand the test of time,
    but lies are soon exposed.

20 Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil;
    joy fills hearts that are planning peace!

25 Worry weighs a person down;
    an encouraging word cheers a person up.

26 The godly give good advice to their friends;
    the wicked lead them astray. Proverbs 12:19, 20, 25, 26, NLT)

 

Here, wisdom and folly stand on opposite sides of the line. The choice is for the taking: truth or lies, deceit and evil or joy and peace, worry or encouragement, godly friends or wicked ones.

There’s a saying “You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.”

20 Walk with the wise and become wise;
    associate with fools and get in trouble. (Proverbs 13:20, NLT)

This year I’ve had frequent reminders to guard my heart. Guard it against what I allow to grow inside it. Guard it diligently regarding the external influences and circumstances around me.

Lord, sometimes circumstance muddles simple questions–what am I accepting, what am I rejecting? I spend time there, knowing those answers affect my heart and the issues of life. Thank you for your word for instruction and encouragement. Thank you for never leaving me (and the many treasured ways you show your love to me). Thank you for the sweet gift of good friends.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 1; Psalms 120-122; Isaiah 61; Matthew 9

We just finished up the last of extracurricular activities last Sunday, and Monday–what felt like the first official day of summer vacation–I got my first back-to-school sale ad by email. Tuesday, the curriculum I ordered recently for the next school year arrived.

My couch has three pens, a blanket, at least five books at any given time, a notebook or two, and a pair of reading glasses strewn up on it when I’m not expecting company. One book I’m reading is Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie (no affiliate link or paid endorsement, but definitely a good, short, rich read before the school year, and an encouragement in the middle). She reminds the reader that “rest is not ease” and that “peace comes from recognizing that our real task is to wake up each day and get our marching orders from God. It comes from diligence to the work He hands us, but diligence infused with faith, with resting in God’s promises to guide us and bless us” (Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching From Rest, Classical Academic Press, 2015, page 4).

Reading in Joshua, the Lord tells him:

“I will not fail you or abandon you.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5b-9, NLT)

Joshua tells the tribes:

13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’ 14 Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. (Joshua 1:13-15, NLT)

I’m not physically conquering lands, but I am getting marching orders each day. Some days it has felt like a hustle, and I think on the words that rest is not ease. I find comfort, strength and encouragement in God’s word–of his presence and faithfulness, his trustworthiness and power.

The psalms:

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer. (Psalm 120:1, NLT)

And,

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. (Psalm 121:1-8, NLT)

The Lord, who comforts, who brings good out of bad, who restores and provides (Isaiah 61). My overwhelm turns from task to joy in the Lord my God.

Matthew 9:2b, NLT, Jesus speaks to the paralyzed man: “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” The man gets up from his mat and walks.

He calls to Matthew in Matthew 9:9b, NLT, “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

The woman who suffered twelve years: 22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:22, NLT)

Lord, your word is full of examples of your presence and power. Even when the day is full, I can find rest in you–that you are with me, you are sovereign, and you love me as your child.

Courtney (66books365)

 

Listening to Elevation Worship’s Here as in Heaven

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Deuteronomy 12; Psalms 97,98; Isaiah 40; Revelation 10

The words read like a feast to me: rich, filling, satisfying. It’s all praise, and don’t I want my days filled with a heart song? Before I settled into reading, I was hanging out in some memories of the past year, times with a table full of guests whether a holiday or a poetry tea. Times of closeness, nature, celebration. Such a gratitude welled up in me. Thank you, God. Thank you for beauty, provision, family and friends.

There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:7, NLT)

Even on the days when grief hit hard, or the load was so heavy, or my nerves felt frazzled–it would be the simplest of things that would remind me of God’s great grace–a friend to listen, a timely word of encouragement, the honey sweetness in a warm tea, stunning sunsets after hard days. Thank you, God. Thank you for your presence and reminders everywhere.

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A glowy sunset after a powerful storm

The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory.

11 Light shines on the godly,
    and joy on those whose hearts are right.
12 May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
    and praise his holy name! Psalm 97:6, 11-12 NLT

And:

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
    break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
    Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! Psalm 98:4-6, NLT

Yesterday I met with a woman who has helped me pack up the business pieces my father’s life. She shared her own story of now listing her home to move out of state to be near her aging parents and help them transition to a facility where they’ll receive the care they need. Two other friends are also managing affairs of a parent who has died or is near death. In all this, I learn from them about heart, priorities, self-care (which I never would have imagined being a regular word in my vocabulary!), perseverance, and faith. There is a peace knowing I don’t walk alone, and that God is with us–each of us. Thank you, God. Thank you for those who walk alongside as help or as example. Thank you for companions in traversing difficult paths.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

Thank you, Lord, for strength you give me on the hard days. You are ever so close, encouraging me and loving me.
Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 34; Psalms 78:38-72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4, NLT)

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year.

But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
    in the morning I earnestly seek you. (Isaiah 26:7-9, NLT)

And I can’t imagine walking this road without the Lord. I praise Him on the path. I praise His provision. I praise His name. His Word woven in heart and mind these past ten years studying–I’m so grateful.

12 Lord, you will grant us peace;
    all we have accomplished is really from you. (Isaiah 26:12, NLT)

Mrs. Ward* was a sister at first sight. And even though she struggled to get her thoughts out (a stroke), her hands were quick to lift in praise at the name of Jesus, and her praising words spilled out fluidly when other thoughts stuck and jammed. She was discharged yesterday, and I’m thankful for the quiet moments before she left that we could say goodbye.

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year, but through it all, I am vigilant to look for God. And He is there. Peace giver. Road smoother. Rock. I hand him the things that overwhelm, and He carries them. He gives me rest. And on days where the fight is an enemy speaking condemnation, defeat and inadequacy over me–he sends me a sister in Christ, who otherwise struggled in conversation, to speak love, blessing and encouragement over me.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:9-17, NLT)

The sweet tears we shed, the joy. His Spirit, the proof. Her words, His love, lifted me on a difficult day.

Oh, thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

*Not her real name.

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Exodus 39; John 18; Proverbs 15; Philippians 2

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” Proverbs 15:33 NLT

Just when I think that I’m being humble, God shows me the humility of Jesus. And I realize that I have so far to go. My selfishness creeps in and my humility turns to pride. I start to think about all the things I have to give up, instead of everything I don’t deserve. My pride keeps me from loving people like Jesus did. I am thankful that he is still refining me in this area. Without him, where would I be?

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” Philippians 2:14-16 NLT

My 9 yr old son was telling me that a friend at school tells him all the tings that she is better at.   I told him that his friend was trying to make him look bad, so that she looks better. These lessons are usually for myself too. I can hear God prodding on my heart saying, “Where is your security?” Is it in myself or Jesus? My pastor spoke about encouragement. When my focus is on myself, it is hard to encourage others. How quickly I can get discouraged. But, when I am in his word and prayer, he fills me up. And gives me the power to speak life into someone else.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth. And every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Dying on the cross for my sins. Forgive me for when I forget how much you have done in my life. I can lose sight of that so easily. I feel small compared to your vastness, but thank you that you care about the smallest details of my life. I pray that I would remember your goodness. That everything I have comes from you. And apart from you, I can do nothing. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, Psalm 67, 1 Corinthians 9

Hezekiah and Paul. At first glance two completely different and opposite people separated by hundreds of years. One, a king over an established nation of people and the other a servant and preacher at the infancy of Christianity. Their differences make their similarities stand out to me.

 

Though he was raised by his King father who did not follow God’s commandments, Hezekiah led his people in the way of the Lord and in turn received blessings and protection. His purpose in the serving the Lord:

“And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” 2 Chronicles: 31:21

And even in the face of trial and potential death for his entire kingdom, Hezekiah remained faithful and encouraged his people to do the same. He pointed them back to the one who had remained faithful to them and he encouraged his people:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria ad all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with them. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 chronicles 32:7-8

 

Paul’s story was similar in nature. Raised as a devout Jew and after years of living as a self- described highest of all Pharisees and judging others, Paul, through the Holy Spirit came to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of all. His incredible conversion experience led him to have a heart of complete and utter service to the Lord. Paul’s purpose was to spread the good news of the gospel no matter the cost. He wanted to make sure his life was never a hindrance to others faith.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them”. 1 Corinthians 9:19

Paul’s encouragement to his fellow believers was to never give up hope, pushing forward for the eternal prize of glory.

“I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with the min its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only can receive the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-27

 

May our hearts’ cry and prayer be, “In all things may God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, so that His way may be known on earth, and His saving power among all nations. Let the people praise you, O God!” Psalm 67.

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