Monday Encouragement

Too often Christians will over think and stress on doing what they think is needed and then will miss out on the joy of being with God. Randy’s message Sunday about stress was reflected again in my devotion tonight about this self-imposed stress. The devotion mentions how we get so stress over doing the right thing for the kingdom so we can “bear fruit” that we miss the point. Bearing fruit is a term in the scriptures to show we are following Christ and sharing His love for the kingdom. But bearing fruit has very little to do with how hard we are working and everything to do with how well we are connected with Jesus. The devotion book “Jesus Speaks” by Steven Scott, reminds us that for any branch to have life that will produce fruit, it must first  have sap. The life-giving sap flows up through the vine, then out to the branches. Scripture reminds us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we are not connected to the branch, we will not gain the life-giving sap.

The only way out spiritual life can bear fruit is to stay connected to Christ and His words. Our purpose is to bear fruit for the kingdom, with some being planters, and some being waterers but none of it will be able to be done if we are not connected to the vine. The scriptures are our connecting tissue to the vine where His Spirit flows. And as long as we stay connected to His words we will receive the life-giving sap from above.

When we do not have the life-giving sap, we can not plant or water…or share His love and that is our goal.  And eventually our connection may harden and be of little use.

For when we are able to share His love, by sharing His truths, and bearing fruit, then God will be glorified. It doesn’t matter if we were the sower, the waterer, the encourager, the friend, or the total stranger that is sharing God’s love, we will all get to rejoice with those who reap the benefits of that shared love. So stay connected and watch God work.

Have a safe and blessed week and be kind in all that you do.

Always Be Kind

Weekend Encouragement

Good morning friends. Today is bitter cold here in the Midwest BUT…it’s the last day of bitter cold. Even though we did not get the normal amount of snowfall this season, we did get abnormally longer spans of bitter cold.  But spring will arrive victoriously like the warmth and love that God gives us daily. Winter’s cold did not overtake us, and we can use this thinking for all of our trials. God’s warm love can help us overcome any cold challenge that we may face. 

We are super-victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us. Oswald Chambers

The underlying foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless miracle of the love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and can never be. Oswald Chambers

It is also a love that can never be taken away. however, we can refuse it and walk away in our own stubbornness…but why would we do that? This love is the love that catches us when we feel like we are falling, a love that comforts us when we feel as though the world has forgotten us, a love that warms us when we feel cold right down to our core. This amazing love can never be taken away from us.

So relax in the love of God.  Feel His warm love surround you. He’s got this, you will be fine. And as you share in the love and kindness of God, remember to share it with others. Kindness carries an unimaginable beauty. 

Always Be Kind

Simplicity Encouragement

Good Saturday afternoon friends. Come in an enjoy my quirky humor and my real encouragement for today. You know how some commercials you see, just kind of stick with you? I am not trying to promote this company but this commercial is priceless. Plus it shows the simplicity of life – and the value of peanut butter.

Too many times we humans make life complicated. We want things we can’t have, things we don’t NEED and make poor choices in pursuing those things. Then we want to know why we are miserable when they don’t come to fruition. The old adage of putting the cart before the horse.

Scripture reminds us all the time about what our goals should be, regardless of our current station or on which side of the cart we placed the horse.

BUT…don’t you love it when a statement or thought says exactly what you are wanting to hear, then there is a but that shows the leaving out any conditions that may go with said statement. Yes, God does want us to have our hearts desires as long as those desires fall in line with the plans He has for us. He always has a plan for us.

There are people all over this world at different levels of success and we are to use our success regardless of level of life to remind the world around us of the beauty of God, especially the level or act seems insignificant. Think of the widow and her mite…she was probably below poverty level, yet she gave humbly of what she had. And she has been remembered for thousands of years for that. She did not feel any powerful at her level but look at the power of her testimony.

If you were able to see the video I posted at the top, all Ralph cared about was the peanut butter. He didn’t care that medicine was coming with it. Its a simple desire. So what is our simple desire, what is our peanut butter? While that question needs to be answer individually, scripture reminds us all of God’s purpose for us and that is His love. He created us out of His love, He sent Jesus to save us out of His love for us, and He still guides us today out of His love for us. We may not know what our peanut butter is but we are definitely His peanut butter.

We are precious in His sight

Never think that what you do for Him and others is unimportant. When it is done with Love, God feels it, regardless of size or human ideas of its importance. To Him it is all important.

We are made for His purpose, so let us shine out His light in all we do, and as always remember to be kind.

Afternoon Encouragement

Good afternoon friends. Since I am home all day today, I am playing on the computer a lot – daytime TV is beyond boring to me. So I will bore you withy my writings, musings and encouragement. The word encouragement has a key word encased in it – Courage. Some days courage is all we have to be able put one step in front of the other. But my devotion last night gave a different perspective – one I have always known but sometimes I need reminding. So today I am reminding you of where your courage, strength and perseverance comes from.

I am a big believer that God puts people in our paths to help us be able to not only connect better with Him but to also show us how to connect better with each other. Someone left a devotion book and its companion research book on my desk but no one seems to claim they did it. It is a wonderful devotion book called Jesus Speaks written by Steven K. Scott and it is written in similar a style of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Both are written as if you were talking directly to Jesus. Sometimes you just need that, at least I do.

Last night’s devotion was “Courage to Replace Your Fears”.

The disciples were in the boat and Jesus was walking to them across the water. They thought it was a ghost. But he tells them, “Take Courage”.

So many times when storms are raging around us that is all we can see but Jesus reminds us like he did Peter – don’t look at the storm, look at Me and don’t be afraid.

“It’s okay that fear might get the best of you for a moment. but open the eyes of your spirit and see Me. I am here!” from Jesus Speaks February 14.

No storm or scary situation every comes by surprise to Jesus and He will make sure we get through it safely.

He reminds us all through scripture that He is there, regardless of what we are going through. Just reach out to Him.

So I am reminding you, regardless of your storm, take courage and feel God’s presence surround you with love.

And if you can, reach out to others to help them feel encouraged and surround them in kindness. Sometimes all we need is a little kindness.

Always Be Kind

Never Lose Hope

As I was reading my devotion this evening, I was reminded of the hope for Israel as Micah explained the guilt, misery and punishment the Lord had against Israel some 750 years before Christ. The Bible is filled with story after story of Israel following, then falling away, following again, then falling again…a cycle we still see today. Not just with Israel but with the entire world. But scripture also reminds us of His infinite love for us, a love we will never understand on this earth but a love that is always there for each person willing to accept it. May the words of my story this evening, bring you hope if you find yourself in a dark place. HIS light is always there for you.

Never Lose Hope

I sit in the darkness and gloom. My head hangs low in shame. It’s my own fault that I am in this mess. Though I sit here lost and scared, deep within me a hope burns. There is still a light out there beyond this darkness, a love beyond compare than beckons me to not give up.

“Do not gloat over me,” I shout into the dark. “I may have fallen but I am not forgotten. I am loved. I may be bearing the guilt of my shame but I know…HE…loves…me. He will come for me, He always does. He always does…”

A day is coming when Mother Earth will twist in the torment of her desolation caused by the greed and waste of mankind. Nations will be stripped of their power and thrown down in the dust of their inequities.

“It will be my turn to gloat,” I shout, yet I understand now, more than ever, the silliness and waste of that attitude as I am reminded of my error. We are all part of the great creation. He will not forget us forever. HE delights in showing mercy…even when we don’t deserve it.

Who is a God like you?

Anita Neal, 2/10/22

As we ponder the age old question of God’s existence, I can assure you God is there and His love for you is profound and very real. May you feel that love surround you and bring you peace.

And as always, I remind you of the power and the beauty of Kindness. Kindness can light a candle in the darkest corner.

Light a candle of Kindness

Weekend Encouragement

Good evening friends. I sincerely hope your weekend is going well. I hope they are correct in forecasting that it will warm up a bit next week, I am kinda done with winter. I know it’s just February but still, I am done. I am thinking of spring thoughts to help me visualize that warmth is coming…

This morning, the new church council met for a retreat to get focused with its programs for the coming year; what worked last year, what do we hope for in the coming year and to support each other as a team. One of the things we touched on that got me thinking was  “Soul Care”, what does it look like for each of us and how can we use it to help others. We were given a list of 10 items and we were to rate them on how they worked for us in our own spiritual care. Because it is true, if we don’t participate in our own soul care, we can’t help others, who may be struggling, take care of theirs.  The pastor reminded us that while Jesus was very much engaged in helping others, He knew He needed time to take care of Himself as well by going off quietly to rejuvenate and refocus. He never loses the connection with God and then in turn He reaches out to us with that same connection. Staying connected through our soul.

I bring all that up because while we were discussing these 10 items, this morning’s devotion kept coming back to mind.  One of the 10 items was “do devotions play a part in your soul care”.  For me it’s a definite yes and when I read something that rings a bell for me, I like to share it with others. I don’t have the training or wisdom to come up with these ideas on my own but when I read what someone wrote and how it relates to scripture, then I like to share it to encourage others like I was encouraged.

Two of the devotions I read are written in the first person of Jesus as though He was actually speaking. Matter of fact, one of them is called “Jesus Speaks” by Steven Scott. Today’s devotion ties right in with what we were discussing at the retreat – “Soul Care” and how praying creates a connection of love, peace, nurturing that we all need with God and that it needs to be done quietly and privately.

It’s personal between you and God. This is a familiar passage I have read many times but as the devotion unfolded it made a statement that made me take a second look and it’s the second look that I want to share with you today – a different way to see how God interacts with you, because He is always there, even when we don’t feel Him.

“Praying alone and in secret for more than a few minutes requires faith. You need faith that the Father and I will truly be with you and will listen to your heart.” from Jesus Speaks

Did you catch that – the Father and I?  We have always been taught that Jesus intercedes for us, that God and Jesus hear our prayers but it hit me today – they do this together. I know you are all going “well yeah ” but you are not getting my simple brain epiphany.  See if this picture helps where my brain went.

God has one hand and Jesus has the other at the same time – always guiding, always nurturing, always there. Whether we feel it or not and in some cases, whether we believe it or not. Opening our hearts  to God the Father and God the Son with any care, any concern or any hope we have will be answered  with love, peace and comfort.

When you have finished your groanings before God, meditate on His words and listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.

 We will be waiting.” from Jesus Speaks

How marvelous it is to know we are never alone in this world, even at the darkest times. Thank you Lord. I sincerely hope my musings brought you a little encouragement on this cold February day. Send the encouragement forward if you like to help lighten the dark for others who may need it.  And as always remember the power and beauty of kindness.

Daily GPS

Good morning friends. Hope you are all doing well. I have been out of touch lately for minor health concerns but in  today’s Covid world, nothing seems minor, especially if upper respiratory systems are malfunctioning. There is no such thing as the common cold anymore. So when that happens we stay home to keep from sharing our fun. But when we pull out of the physical connection we have to then turn to satellite connections and if our satellite connections are not working correctly we are at a loss.

We have been talking on Sundays about how we are all connected for one purpose – to share the love of Christ – through various teams and many different ways. And we need to stay connected to be able to do that which can be difficult. We are sometimes dependent on satellites to help us navigate through our inabilities to be there in person and when we get the famous sayings that can run across our screen like –  “Lost Internet Connection”  or “Satellite Connection Not Found” – then we feel frustrated. My connection Sunday was funny and I am sure it was all on my particular internet feed. I got the message of lost connection but yet I didn’t lose the voice, the picture would just blip off a second or two and come back on but what was funny was the picture and sound were no longer in sync. My devotion this morning reminded me of our dependence on technology and how even when driving to unknown places we turn to GPS to find our way. The more I read, I chuckled a bit and thought there is really only one GPS connection we must maintain…
G –  God’s

P –  Personal

S –  Salvation
In reality, the fast and amazing technological connections of today may let us down and the connections we have with our friends and family may periodically let us down.  There is only one connection that will NEVER let us down, and that connection is the one we have with God.

Through God’s own GPS system, He will help us navigate through any situation we may come across, and when we don’t have the strength to go on our own, He will carry us…No satellite connection required.

So even when you feel unconnected with the world around you, you will always be connected with God. 

Relax in the warmth of His connection today and remember to always be kind.

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.