Tag Archives: Encouragement for living

Lead With Your Ears

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“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends:
Lead with your ears,
follow up with your tongue,
and let anger straggle along in the rear.”
James 1:19 (MSG)

 

Ears Lead

 
 

Wouldn’t it be great if these valuable directions were posted as constant reminders at all the intersections?  How many times could difficult situations be avoided if we simply kept certain thoughts to ourselves?

Speaking the right words at the appropriate time is important, but so is restraining our desire to say what we shouldn’t, because once words are spoken, they can’t be un-spoken or erased. An uncontrolled tongue spewing idle or hateful verbiage is divisive and damaging. A few angry words can destroy relationships that might have taken years to develop, so sifting words through a filter of love before they are released from our mouths is a crucial practice.

I’ve often heard the quote, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” and I’m sure if we all listened twice as much as we spoke, all of our relationships would be much better off, and anger would be in our rearview mirrors.

Remember:  What we say is important, but so is what we don’t say.

        • The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint” Proverbs 17:27a (NIV)
        • “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19 (NIV)
        • “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b

The Path To A Beautiful Life

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“You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life.
    As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending,
    and I know true joy and contentment.”

Psalm 16:11 (VOICE)

As a child of God, you can believe in the truth that God’s will for your life is always the best place to be.  He created you, and He knew you before your very first heartbeat. He knows all your strengths and all your weaknesses, and He knows the exact purpose that He had in mind for your unique life.  Seeking His guidance and following His direction will always lead to a beautiful life where you experience true joy and contentment.  If He guides you on a certain path, you can be confident that He will be right beside you and will equip you for the journey. “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8(NIV)

So if you are facing a big decision or venturing into a new chapter in your life, continually seek divine wisdom and guidance from your Heavenly Father.  He will direct your steps and illuminate the perfect pathway to your beautiful life ~ the life He designed just for you!  Trust in His precious promises:

  • “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
  • “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
  • “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 (NIV)

Her Children Call Her Blessed

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“Her children arise and call her blessed…”

Proverbs 31:28a

Not only do mothers have the special role of bringing their children into the world, but they also have the important privilege of bringing them up in the world.  From the very beginning of life, babies learn the feeling of unconditional love through the tender care of their loving mothers.  As they grow, children learn about life through her example in the home, from her words of wisdom and encouragement, from listening to her prayers, from observing her faith in action, from her acts of kindness, from watching her care for the poor and sick, and from seeing her diligent work ethic as she provides for their basic needs.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”  Proverbs 31: 26

No mom is going to do things perfectly all the time.  There are situations that arise in life for which there is no “instruction manual,” and sometimes she might stumble along as she strives to find the right technique for those unique conditions.  But if she continues to seek God’s guidance, and if His words are written upon her heart, then wise and thoughtful instruction will come through in her speech.  Her words will be sifted through the filter of love and sprinkled with God’s wisdom.

“Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

Perhaps the “job” of motherhood is one of the most demanding you could find.  The “job description” for a mother might look like this:  long hours, 24-7; responsibilities include (but are not limited to) laundry, cleaning, cooking, counseling, refereeing, nursing, financial management, tutoring, and chauffeuring.  But any mom would agree that although the days are sometimes demanding, the rewards of motherhood are infinite!  “Her children arise and call her blessed…”

Happy Mother’s Day!!

True Peace

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Peace

Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27
 
 

Peace ~ tranquility of mind…inner calm…untroubled heart…serenity of spirit…stillness within…

Peace ~ it’s the amazing gift Christ left with His believers.  Like an inheritance, he bequeathed this priceless blessing to His children.  No amount of money can purchase true peace, because Christ’s peace was purchased with His precious blood on the cross.

This divine inward peace is the state of the soul of a believer who has peace with God through faith in Christ.  It cannot be given by the smiles of the world, and it cannot be taken away by frowns.  It isn’t earned through money, awards, health, acceptance or fame; and it isn’t lost because of bankruptcy, loss, disease, rejection or shame.  The peace of the world is fleeting, unstable and temporary, but the peace of Christ is everlasting and durable.  His peace enriches the soul and carries believers through all the difficulties and hardships of life.  It is a type of peace that is beyond the understanding of the human mind.

True peace begins with grace and is never-ending.  Christ calls this His peace, because He is our peace.  If you are longing for peace in your life, seek Him.  “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (TLB)

The Good News of Good Friday

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IMG_7286 - Version 2“~ the message concerning faith that we proclaim:  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord  will be saved.

Romans 8b-10, 13 (NIV)

Faith is not something we do. It is a response to what God has done already on our behalf…

The message of salvation is beautifully simple:

1. Believe in your heart and

2. Say with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

God’s Help When We are Powerless to Help Ourselves

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What a wonderful God we have—
He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the source of every mercy,
and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.
And why does he do this?
So that when others are troubled,
needing our sympathy and encouragement,
we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4 (TLB)
 

“I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through…We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through itWe felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again.”  2 Corinthians 1:8 – 10 (TLB)

Have you ever been in a perilous situation where you felt “crushed and overwhelmed,” where the circumstances were so dire that you feared you might not live through it, and you were powerless to help yourself?  It’s these types of extreme difficulties that drive us to our knees…because we have no where else to go.   At some point we come to the end of ourselves, and we have nothing left to cling to except God Himself.  During severe trials, our faith is stretched beyond the limits, and it emerges on the other side of the hardship much stronger and deeper than ever before.  When we experience such extraordinary suffering, we learn to rely not on our own strength or abilities for deliverance, but only on God.  We learn to set our hope on Him alone and trust that the One who raised the dead can surely save us too!

It is our precious Savior who says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  He graciously speaks peace into troubled souls, calms our raging fears, comforts with His tender mercies, binds up the broken-hearted, heals the most painful wounds, strengthens the weak, and provides hope and joy during the heaviest of sorrows.  We must learn to put everything in the capable hands of our Heavenly Father who loves us and who alone can save us.

When There Are No Words

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Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights.
No one said a word to Job,
for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
Job 2:13 (NLT)
 
 

Have you ever seen a friend or loved one suffering so greatly that the situation was too difficult for words?  You wish you could do something to help, but there’s noting you can do or say that will make things different or take the terrible pain away?  Often when the trouble is so extreme, we don’t know what to do, so we simply do nothing.  Yet in the book of Job we find a great example of what to do for a friend who is suffering like this:

 Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.  Job 2:11-13 (MSG) 
 

When Job’s friends heard of the tragedy that had occurred in his life, they all came together to be with their friend.  The distance didn’t matter to them.  What mattered was the fact that their dear friend was hurting, and they gathered to keep him company and comfort him.  When they finally got to their friend’s side and saw his terrible condition, they were overcome with grief for him, and they wept with him.  And even though there was absolutely nothing they could do or say to take away Job’s pain or remove the torment he felt, they simply sat by his side for seven days and nights without saying a word.  This was one of those times in life when no words were necessary…just the silent, comforting presence of precious friends.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble

with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1: 3  – 4

God Bends Down To Hear Your Prayers

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I love the Lord because He hears my prayers and answers them.
Because He bends down and listens,
I will pray as long as I breathe!  
Psalm 116:1 – 2 TLB
 

Imagine this scene:  “He bends down and listens”…the Creator of the Universe bends down from heaven to hear the prayer you whisper from your lips…the King of Glory stoops down from His throne to incline His ear to your request…your loving Heavenly Father leans down close enough to listen to the words of His precious child….

This awe-inspiring scene is actually our reality.  The blessed truth is that your prayer will always reach God’s ear.  He knows your unique voice, and He hears each plea, request, and petition.  He listens carefully to each prayer of adoration, thanks and supplication.  Not only does He hear your prayers, but He also answers them. He doesn’t always answer them exactly how we think they should be answered, but He answers them according to His best for you.

If you are lonely, God is near.  If you are discouraged, God is listening.  If you are worried, God is attentive to your cares.  If you are afraid, God hears your pleas for help.  If you are heartbroken, God is leaning close enough to hear your cries.

“I love the Lord because He hears my prayers and answers them…”  Because of this amazing truth, “I will pray as long as I breathe!”

A New Perspective

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The Lord helps the fallen

and lifts up those bent beneath their loads.

Psalm 145:14 (NLT)

As I awaited departure for my flight home, I worried that my trip would be delayed or cancelled due to the ominous appearance of the brewing winter storm.  The dark, billowing clouds matched my dreary mood.  Thankfully, the flight took off as scheduled, and we ascended through the turbulent mass of clouds.  For a while, I saw nothing out of my window seat view except gray wisps of thick foggy vapor mixed with icy rain droplets streaking across my window.  As the plane punched through the cloud ceiling and reached its cruising altitude, I was blinded by the glorious light of the setting sun.  My spirit instantly brightened, and it amazed me to think about the stark contrast of this majestic site above the cloud canopy, compared to the gloomy conditions below.

This experience reminded me of how often we allow burdensome circumstances in life to weigh us down and make us feel that we are “bent beneath our loads.”   Our outlook is gloomy because we only focus on the worrisome details of our lives, and we lose sight of the fact that the Son is up above us watching over every moment of our day.  He cares about our burdens and wants to lift us up and give us a new perspective.

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears.  He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His canopy around Him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.  Out of the brightness of His presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.”  2 Samuel 22:7,10-13,17

Your distress might be in the form of financial struggles, a health crisis, career concerns, parenting issues, addiction battles or relationship strife.  But regardless of what load you are carrying, it can be overwhelming.  God listens to each whispered prayer, and your cry for help reaches His ears –He loves you and He wants to help.  He will lift up those bent beneath their load.  He doesn’t always completely remove the burden, but by lifting your focus from doom and gloom to His majestic glory, your soul is strengthened, and you will have renewed stamina to keep moving forward.

“…the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.”

Psalm 146:8 (NIV)

Love Never Fails

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And so faith, hope, love remain
[faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things;
hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation;
love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us],
these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (AMP)
 
 

LOVE

is patient.
is kind.
does not envy.
does not boast.
is not proud.
does not dishonor others.
is not self-seeking.
is not easily angered.
keeps no record of wrongs.
does not delight in evil.
rejoices with the truth.
always protects.
always trusts.
always hopes.
always perseveres.
never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8a)
 

Love never gives up.  It is kind and puts others first.  Love is not jealous or envious and doesn’t brag or boast.  It doesn’t force itself on others, nor fly off the handle. Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, and always takes pleasure in the truth.  Love always protects and trusts.  It always looks for the best in others and never looks back. Love keeps going to the end.  Love never ends.
 
“Whoever does not love, does not know God, because                             

God…is love.”

 (1 John 4:8)