Tag Archives: encouragement

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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Isaiah 33-35; 1 Corinthians 6

Hope for Restoration (NLT)

35  1Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it.  It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;     fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers.  Only the redeemed will walk on it.

10Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem[a] singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

With all that is going on in our world today, I need verses like those in Isaiah 35. They fill me with hope to get me through the dark days.  Many of us who have heard the teachings of Jesus, wonder if we are in the last days as He described them.  Some scholars say yes because . . . and they give their reasons.  Others say no because . . . has not happened yet.  Prophesy is not easy for us to see while we are living through it.  In fact, Jesus walked along the road with two men and explained to them all the prophecy in the bible about Himself for it was missed by the scholars of that day.

I may not know the answer to whether or not we are in the final days. What I do know is that this life can be hard. A loved one dies; we lose a job we’ve had for 25 years; we are told we have a fatal illness. We grow tired and discouraged when we hear of senseless acts of violence and natural disasters killing thousands of people.  We look for signs that God has not forsaken us as the rug is pulled out from under us.  Isaiah assures me that one day the LORD will display His glory.  There will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!  In the meantime, we need to strengthen those who have tired hands, encourage those who have weak knees, say to those with fearful hearts, “be strong and do not fear for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.  He is coming to save you”. And we need people to do the same for us!  We just have a little farther to go.  Hold on saints!  No matter what this life brings to each of us, we have the assurance that one day God will redeem it all.

“Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”

Heavenly Father:  We need You and we need each other to get through each day.  We are not meant to live life isolated from either!  Your Holy Spirit fills us so we can then, in turn, fill others.  Lord, we need to reach out to those who are hurting, weak, and discouraged.  Work in our hearts even today to see the needs.  Let us fill them with hope–the hope that You will give us enough strength to get through each day until we are finally with you forever.  In Jesus name, Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FyMECJbr40

 

 

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

A year ago, we were dealing with a daughter’s health issues. A year ago, I didn’t realize she was two weeks from hospitalization. A year ago, I had no idea she would receive a diagnosis that was a lifetime sentence. And that was just the beginning of what the year would hold.

A year later, I sat at a table across from a woman who was selling me textbooks. The books sat stacked off to the side. She was a fellow innie, so we easily sailed through the niceties and entered into meaningful conversation. We had both experienced a redirection in the past year. I soaked up her words like a sponge.

I could relate to things she was saying. I felt a heart connection to her experiences. She was honest and vulnerable and so real. As I listened to her story, I loved her even more. I felt rejuvenated and refreshed by her words and her encouragement.

When I read of Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 3, I think of her and our time together that day.

and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4, NLT.

The books? She gave them to me. I never imagined what that day would hold, and I’ll never forget–and not just her generosity, but the healing her words held.

12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, NLT.

Father God, thank you that at the right times, you send encouragement, strength and healing. Thank you for sisters in Christ who love by example, overflowing.

Courtney (66books365)

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