Thoughts Behind Encouragement

Good evening friends. I had someone ask “why I do this” the other day and after thinking seriously about it, I did come up with an answer that I always thought was it – Because I was asked to. But lets back that up a bit and unpack it. While I am a Christian and I do go to church, that is fully not the reason.

“The church is the only institution that exist primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.” William Temple, Arch Bishop of Canterbury

Think about that statement that was made several decades ago that still rings true today. This past Sunday, pastor Rob spoke on this statement and what it really means for the church to be reaching out. And we are not talking about the church as a building but the church as an entity, its people. We are told to go and invite others to come see what Christ is about. All through the New Testament, Jesus tells us to go and tell His story. His story of how much He loves us and how much He cares about everything we are going through, good and bad. He cheers with us when its good, He carries us when its bad. And he wants everyone to know this so He tells us to go tell others. Plant the seed of curiosity and see if it will grow.

Proclaim means to tell…

I am in no way any type of preacher or evangelistic leader. I am a tiny light in this dark world who has experienced dark times and the bright light of Christ. So, I choose to share it here with those who care to read. Because I am a visual person, I incorporate pictures with scriptures because to me they are easier to read.

When we can share His stories of hope, with the love, kindness and goodness of what Christ is all about, then it intrigues others to want to hear more, so you tell them more. And all through God’s word are stories of how much He loves us.

And nothing can break that bond of love once it is established.

Therefore, I write encouragements to help others who may need to have a moment of kindness, a handful of hope and a direction of where to go find other assurances of love that is there for all who want it. ALL! If I can encourage 1 person with each note that I write, then I feel my note was a good one. And I read more inspiring works from people(and the Bible) to find new ways to encourage others of how special they are because God never makes a mistake in creating.

Always remember we are all wonderfully made for His purposes. Yes, we do get off track time to time, but He is always right there to help guide us right back where we need to be. And He does it gently and with kindness which is why I always close with a picture showing the beauty and power of kindness.

Always Be Kind

Weekend Encouragement

Good morning friends. I have not given any encouragement this week and thought today would be a good day. It’s the end of one week with our eyes focused on a new week to come.  Today I bring you encouraging words from Steven Scott and his devotion book Jesus Speaks. It’s a wonderful devotion that has a commentary hosting all the words that Jesus spoke that is separated by topics.

Since this is a quick word of encouragement, we all understand how easy it is to get discouraged. But we need to remember where our discouragement comes from. It comes from our adversary, satan, whose task it is to steal our life of happiness. He knows that if he can make us miserable, we focus on what we have lost, what we no longer have for it has been taken away from us. But we must remember that Jesus came to give us life.

Jesus is our Shepherd that brings us abundant life that is eternal. When Jesus gave up his life for us on the cross, He defeated satan. Jesus broke satan’s power and authority over us. But we are merely human and have a tendency to forget this power and submit to the rules of this temporary kingdom, forgetting our eternal kingdom. This robs us of the joy we find when we are in touch, by mind and heart, with Jesus.

So start each day in His Word with thankfulness and He will surround you with an inner peace beyond anything you could imagine, regardless of the chaos of this world that is beating at your door. Breathe in His peace.

And remember to reflect this peace with kindness in all that you do and the light of Christ will shine from you.

Be purposely kind

Encouragement Analogy

I woke up this morning still tired from the pacing and stress of the night. My throat is still sore from all the yelling and pleading…at the TV. It was National Championship night for college football. And yes, my team won. Yeah, Go Dawgs.

But this morning I was reminded that we are all winners in a championship game. This life is temporary but we are in it for the win. Jesus is on the side lines, in the stands and standing right beside us cheering us on as we do good and pacing when we misstep, ever guiding us along the Way. He never leaves our side. And we must praise Him in this promises.

What is a promise – according to Webster – a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future.

All through His Word, Old Testament and New, he reminds us of how important each person is to Him and how He is ever on the sideline cheering us onward. His love for us knows no bounds. This picture below is called First Day of Heaven, but just remember, while we are on this earth, He is still hugging us that fiercely.

So I encourage you today to feel His love as it surrounds you. Embrace it and know that it is real and be assured that no person, no circumstance, no misstep you may make will ever turn Him away from His love for you.

Isaiah 41:10

As you embrace this day, let His light shine from you to others whose light may not be as bright. But the light is always there, sometimes you just have to dust it off a bit. Dust with kindness and that light will shine bright.

Evening Encouragement

Good evening friends. This is a time of year where we all think everyone should be happy and filled with joy.  But for some, this is a difficult time of year. So I come to you with thoughts from a new devotional called Jesus Speaks by Steven Scott.  This is a wonderful devotional book and companioned by another of Steven’s books called The Greatest Words Ever Spoken. These books unfold the words spoken by Christ to help us understand them better and be able to lean on them for any situation we may find ourselves in.  I hope this encouragement post will ease those troubled hearts just a bit. The Bible and the teachings of Jesus are a living entity that, if we study them as we should, will always help us feel His loving arms around us as He carries us through the hard times. 

Even the disciples had a hard time fully understanding His teachings and how to use them for their lives, but the Holy Spirit came alongside them, with a lighted path, to help show them the way.  And He wants to do the same for all of us. But to see this path we must stay in the Word, for His word is the light for our path. 

When we stay in the Word, our faith will grow and when our faith grows, our fears and doubts will vanish and we can stand firm.

Remember that even though you can not see Him, probably may not even feel Him, there is no need to fear.  You can trust that He is as close as your breath. 

So I encourage you to feel the peace of Christ in any of your concerns. His love for you is more powerful than any of us will ever fully understand. 

Have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and in all things try to be kind. The seeds of kindness can quickly grow new trees of love.

The Gift of Love

As we explore this final week of Advent, we explore the vast, powerful and varied meanings of the word – LOVE. I want us to visual us standing inside a closet with the door closed, no light is on. No light is on in the house either. How dark and lonely is it in your closet? That dark can’t compare to the darkness of the nothing that was before creation. But what does creation have to do with love…everything.

God created everything that was…that is…that will be. And his purpose was love. Think about how you feel when you make something for someone as a gift. Now take that feeling and expound it exponentially…then you might begin to understand why God creates things for us. God wants a close relationship with us. It’s why He created Eden, so he could walk in and with all of His creation, enjoying the love they shared together. But man messed it up and here we are today still trying to find our way back to that love. And patiently God waits for us to come…

And knowing our inability to fully find our way back to Him, His love never failed and He gave us an unbelievable gift…a baby…Himself in human form, to show us again that amazing Love.

As we come to the close of the Advent season we begin to fully understand the power of the four gifts of Advent and how these gifts link out past, our present and our future together. The gift of Hope, the gift of Peace, the gift of Joy and now the gift of Love, all come together to help us celebrate Christ’s coming…in the past, here with us today…and in the future when all things will be made new as they should be.

Just as a parent loves their child, so God loves us as we are his children. He loved us first…and loves us more. That is the power of His Love.

We close out Advent with the lighting of the white candle on Christmas Eve, Christ’s candle. Let us never forget the all consuming LOVE God the Father and God the Son have for each of us.

Even though we may not fully understand the completeness of this love, it is as real as the air you are breathing. Breathe it in, embrace it and share it with others who need to breathe it in.

May you all have a very blessed Christmas. And remember in all things to be kind.

The Gift of Joy

Good morning friends. I come to you this morning to explore some more through the Advent devotional book “The Gifts of Christmas”.  This week we are celebrating the beauty and power of Joy.  The candle we light is pink because this color represents joy. This candle is meant to help us enjoy the remembrance of Jesus’ birth. This candle is also called the Shepherd’s Candle as it represents the joy of the shepherds. 

I can not imagine how the shepherds felt when all of a sudden the sky erupted with angels, but they told them not to be afraid. The gift of joy that had been promised of old had now been born.  It is a gift of caring love and of strength.

And while this world around us can be quite scary, we have an inner joy that is stronger than any fear through Jesus our King.  The Wiseman from foreign lands had studied the stars for years and knew of the prophecies. They felt a powerful joy the star appeared and went to seek it out.

As our pastor explained to us during Sunday’s sermon, joy is not a feeling, it’s a choice. Happiness is a feeling that can come from joy but if circumstances are dire, you can still have joy, it is a gift from God that comes from within. 

There are many scriptures concerning joy, so it is a very important gift for us to embrace and hold tightly to.  The psalmists remind us to be glad in the joy that has been bestowed on us.

May you feel the Joy of the Lord in all that you encounter. Have a blessed weekend and remember through this season of joy to always be kind.

Always Be Kind

The Second Week of Advent, Peace

Good afternoon friends. I don’t know about you but I am loving this quick flash of warmer weather we are having here in Iowa. Us old southern birds like our warm weather.

Our pastor explained in Sunday’s sermon, that this is the week of Peace. We so often think peace is so hard to obtain but Jesus came to bring us a unfathomable gift of peace – a whole different kind of assurance. I have this small resin picture frame that sits on my shelf to remind me daily that while chaos may be swirling around me, God has given me the ability to stand strong through any conflict I face.

Think of the most peaceful scene you have ever seen. Maybe it’s a beautiful garden, or a graceful waterfall, maybe it’s the beach. Somewhere, through your senses, you can momentarily escape the  stressful world around you. But God’s gift of peace is a different type of peace – this peace came in to the world with the angel’s proclamation of Jesus’ birth.

 At His birth, Israel was looking for a mighty warrior, one who would conquer their enemies. But He came as THE Prince of PEACE, not peace as in a feeling but peace in a person. And He shares that gift of peace with all of us.

Seeing this, knowing this, hoping this, …we still have a tendency to go…”But God”…remember,  there is no but with God. His love is above all buts.

So we need to pay it forward with our fellow man. Sharing the peace we have been given freely so that others may understand it and reach for their own allotment.

The peace of God will not be understood by those who do not know the Lord, so we must reflect His peace to draw others into His love. For when we have His peace, the anxiousness of life can be coped with and we can all live in harmony.

May you enjoy the rest of this week of peace. I am looking forward to Sunday’s gift of Joy.  What a wonderful time of year to share the Joy of the LORD. Be safe and remember to always be kind.

A Time of Preparation

Good afternoon friends. I hope this day finds you well. This is a time of year where we are scurrying about getting ready for Christmas. We are decorating our homes, shopping for gifts and trying to be our best selves. Sometimes that is a hard thing to do with the rushing about and chaos. We are preparing for one day of joy. But in all actually, there is a bigger picture.

There is a song we love to sing at Christmas called Joy to the World. I have heard debates off and on about this not really being a Christmas song. It was just released around Christmas time. While down in the latter verses of the song it talks of Him already here and ruling so its not really a song about his birth…but the first three lines of the song represents what we should be doing now, every day.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room

Joy, for He has come. Joy, for He is our Lord. Let the earth receive Him as King. Then the line to represent what we should be doing now…today. Prepare our hearts to give him room. We are in the season of Advent. I did not grow up knowing or celebrating Advent but as an adult, to me it is a very important time of preparation. Not only is it sharing with the ancient longings of Israel in waiting on the coming of the Messiah or the excitement of celebrating His birth but its preparing our hearts for His second coming…as our Lord and King.

I was given a wonderful little book called “The Gifts of Christmas”. Its a devotional book through the season of Advent and I want to share those scriptures with you over the next few weeks. For those who already celebrate Advent, I hope these scriptures bring you Joy, for those who do not celebrate Advent, I hope these scriptures and notes help you understand there is a bigger picture. Advent themes are based on four gifts from God – the gift of hope, the gift of love, the gift of joy and the gift of peace. This week starting on this past Sunday through Saturday is the gift of hope. Hope can be something we use flippantly or something to hold tightly to as our lives depend on it. I hope you understand the power hope can give you as I go through these scriptures.

Peter reminds us of the joys of Jesus birth, he also reminds us of the beauty of Him coming again.

Hope is key to our survival and when we lose hope we lose purpose. Hope is central to our faith and hope is central in waiting for the rest of the story – Jesus’s second coming.

Paul tells us in the book of Romans how his suffering produced perseverance, how the perseverance produced character and how that character gave him hope. It can do the same of us in our struggles.

Hope also has a byproduct – faith.

The gift of hope comes when we place our trust, by faith, in Jesus Christ…something we cant see. But this hope is not in something but in someone. It’s an assurance of the bigger picture of eternity. It’s a patient waiting and a patient hope in Jesus Christ no matter the season or the chaotic circumstance.

Sometimes when we seem to be low on hope, we can rejuvenate our hope in sharing God’s hope with others. Hold close to Romans 15:13, simply because of God’s love for you.

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Share that hope through kindness as you go through this day.

Always be Kind

Morning Encouragement

Good morning friends. I wanted to share with you a quick word on fighting the good fight. What does that mean…why do we have to even think about fighting? Because Life is hard, sometimes even on good days. Billy Graham’s message this morning was an encouragement to me and I hope it will be to you.

Remember to always walk with Christ, live for Christ, and to have one consuming passion—to please Him in all that we do. Then, whatever happens, we know that He has permitted it in order to teach us some priceless lesson and to perfect us for His service. He will enrich our circumstances, be they pleasant or disagreeable, by the fact of His presence with us. Billy Graham

We wonder why life seems to be so hard sometimes and its usually because we make it hard by forgetting His presence is always with us, strengthening us, loving us and sometimes carrying us.

Remember the footsteps poem from a few years back, even though we can’t see Him around us, even though we only see one set of footprints in the sand, it proves he is just carrying you. He will not leave you to carry the burden, the discouragement, or the fight alone.

Let Him drive the car for a while and enjoy the beauty out the window. I know that sounds like a strange analogy but it is a favorite of mine as I often want to be the one driving. But if we would move over and let Him drive, there may be a few less potholes or at least the ability to not bounce too hard when you hit them.

I encourage you today to feel His peace surround you and as always remember to be kind and reflect the beauty and joy of His presence in you.

Morning Encouragement

Good morning friends. I hope you are all well. We have now survived Halloween and are on to the real holidays involving turkey and trees.  Yes, I am a major fan of the tree holiday and have lots of it to put up. Christmas is a time where I can look through the pinholes of life and see God face to face. What???  Walk with me through Oswald Chambers’ devotion this morning as he shows how this concept ties in perfectly with how we should live our lives.

“Our Lord never insists on obedience. He stresses very definitely what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. He prefaces his instructions with an ‘if'”. Oswald Chambers

It’s a hard concept and a personal choice for each individual. We, as humans, want to know exactly what lies in front of us so that we can make safe and sound choices. But in my opinion, that’s now how it really works. We live by faith, trusting that He will take care of us. And He does.

“The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear.” Oswald Chambers

Our lives may seem random and boring with the day to day tasks but Oswald reminds us that when we obey Christ, those random circumstances of life become tiny pinholes through which we see the face of God. It’s like trying to look through the holes in the fence to see the big picture.

Sometimes we can’t see anything but other times when we look with our heart we can see the love of God.

As I stare at the lights of Christmas, I am reminded of the star of hope that came to lead us in our day to day tasks so that we can enjoy the beauty of the tiny pinholes. So today, try to see where the pinhole of your day can find the face of God and see Him smile down at you in love. 

I think animals want to see God too, so for a little humor this morning we see them looking through peepholes.  They may march to a different drum, but they know who the drummer is.

So I remind you today to smile and know that God loves you. And always remember to show kindness wherever you go. Kindness creates pinholes for you to shine the love of Christ through.

Have a great week.