Tagged encouragement

the shoreline of perspective

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

[VIDEO CLIP]theshorelineofperspective

Standing on the shore, looking out at the expanse of water and sky – nothing but water…sun…clouds…and the whooshing sound of the waves as the tide goes in…and out.

Breathing in salty air…breathing out life.

Clearing my mind.

Clearing my soul.

Gaining perspective.

Sometimes God places us on the shore – to rest and retreat away from the crashing waves of chaos that push and pull at us: – that space of creative silence where we can’t generate content or pour ourselves out. That place of perspective and discernment where we don’t speak, but instead tune into what God is speaking to us.

This unexpected shore of perspective might be a job change, an illness, a shift in family dynamics…some life event or situation that causes us to step back and take stock of the situation, to reprioritize and reconnect with what is important.

“Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

Sometimes we feel sidelined on the shore.

Sometimes we feel passed by on the shore.

Sometimes we feel alone on the shore.

But the shore is a vital part of our walk with the Lord. If we live our entire lives walking on the busy, crowded water of our mission, or tossing in the chaos waves of the storm, we will miss what the Holy Spirit can only say to us in the quiet, decluttered spaces.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Stillness, retreat and silence are all necessary parts of our relationship with God. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily details of the task or mission, and even easier to make those details about the things we want instead of what God wants for us. Spending time in stillness and silence draws us closer to our Creator, deepens our faith, strengthens our relationship with Him, and reminds us that His plans are greater than what we can understand in our limited knowledge.

Time on the shore of perspective is time to allow God to bring the components of our lives into focus so that we can head back into the water with His Purpose, to let Him accomplish what only God can do.

I glimpsed the heart of God

I caught a glimpse of my mom earlier. She went home to be with the Lord three years ago and there are so many little circumstances and random things that happen that remind me of her.

Earlier tonight I was tucking in our youngest, who is 6 years old going on 20. She was all cozy in her blankets, holding onto her snuggle elephant, saying, “Mommy, I love you sooo much. I don’t want to grow up and I’m not going to leave you, and I don’t want you to ever die.” I reassured her and told her how special she is, and how excited I am for her future and the plans God has for her.

Her bright smile lit up her eyes. It was one of those sweet, cuddly, nose-to-nose moments where your heart just spills over with joy for this sweet gift in front of you.

That’s when it happened: In that short moment, I caught a glimpse of  my mom and it was as if my mom and I were in the same body.

In an instant, I saw my mom’s smile and the joy on her face as she looked at me with such happiness and love — which was probably a million times throughout our years together, over the smallest of things and mostly for no reason at all, just because. And that’s exactly the same way I was looking at my mini-me as she spoke to me some of the same things I would’ve said to my mom when I was small.

Children mirroring parents. It’s awe-inspiring and a little frightening how much we learn from each other without even trying.

Not only did I experience my mom’s love for me on another level, but I glimpsed the heart of God.

We, as parents, and our parents, and generations before, pour out love for our children as unconditionally as we possibly can. How much more does our Father God love us?

For as much as our hearts overflow when our children say, “I love you”, how much more do we bless the heart of God when we worship, adore, praise, and share our hearts with Him?

Be encouraged that God is in every second of our lives, constantly watching over us, constantly walking with us, and constantly loving us even when we feel unlovable, even when we run away, even when we mess up.

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…”
— 1 John 3:1

 

YOU are a Disciple

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

Whatever your age, circumstances, etc., if Jesus is your Savior, you are the next generation of Apostles. You are a Disciple of Christ. Just as Jesus prayed for all Believers in John 17 (reference below), He has prayed for you now:

Verse 20 “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”

Jesus is praying for all new Believers that will hear the Gospel Message. And how will they hear this message? Through YOU, through me, and countless Believers as we share the Good News of Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross – a message spread as far as God gives us reach.

Another part of this prayer that struck me was verse 24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Jesus longs for us to be with Him. Do you long to be with Him too? Does your heart ache for a dying world?

May we have that same love and longing for our families, our neighbors, our co-workers and people all over the world as we seek to live our calling as the next generation of Disciples.

————————————————
John 17 – Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

God is faithful

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

I was just looking out onto the autumn landscape, savoring a moment of calm and that “settled” feeling that only comes from knowing that God has had his hand on my life from the very beginning. Through every twisting, turning, joyous or horrific moment, He has never left me even before I had a relationship with Him!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a
future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Be encouraged today that whatever road you’re on, whatever circumstance you’re facing, whatever life stage you’re in, God is still with you and He still has a plan for you.

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

fork in the road

We’ve all been through circumstances where we’ve come to the proverbial “fork in the road” – that moment of decision that would dictate our path forward on a particular issue or in a particular circumstance.

With ever-changing cultural norms and often volatile socio-political climate, we, as Believers, are under increasing pressure to give into what’s popular and relevant versus taking “the path less traveled” and standing firm in our faith. After all, what’s more appealing: Being ridiculed, ostracized and potentially killed? Or living a life of pleasure, power, success and popularity?

It’s much easier to go along with the majority in order to fit in and not make waves. But at what cost? As we seek to be culturally relevant from a Biblical perspective versus relevant for the sake of fitting in, we must remember to not forsake God’s teachings to us – the Scriptures – His instruction manual for our daily living: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3:16) Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to pick out whatever we feel looks good, as if God’s Word were a spiritual buffet of choices.

God knew we would have difficult decisions to make. He knew that standing up and living our lives according to His Word would be “the road less traveled” and go against what’s popular and accepted. “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22) and “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Eph 6:11)

This world is temporary and will one day cease to exist. Our home is Heaven where we will worship our Creator, our Father, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith – forever. People are fickle and seek what is profitable for themselves, but Jesus “is the same yesterday, today, forever.” (Heb 13:8).

Every sacrifice we make here, even though painful, gut-wrenching, and beyond our ability to comprehend, is worth seeing HIM face-to-face, living our lives in Eternity. Until that day, “‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13)

persevering

“…But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by PERSEVERING produce a crop.” – Luke 8:15, emphasis added

Did you notice the key: “by PERSEVERING produce a crop”?

Let’s take a look Webster’s definition of the root word ‘persevere':
1. to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult
2. to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement

If we look at the Greek root from the Strong’s reference, the word for perseverance is “hupomone” (pronounced hoop-om-an-ay). Hupomone can be broken into 2 parts: Hypo=under and Meno=remain, endure. The full definition is “endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges He allots in life.”

As Christians, we have a responsibility to not just hear the Word of God casually and go about our business, but to RETAIN the Word and live out the teachings of the Word, regardless of our circumstances; to persevere in the difficult times when we feel discouraged, disliked, maligned in some way, frustrated, faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, etc.

God did not promise us our journey would be easy. Instead, He said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

[Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ]

[Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”]

signs all around

I see the news…the world events…the signs all around us and I say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” The evil that is being perpetrated around the globe has no boundaries, defies description & crushes my heart. This is not the future I want for our family or anyone else and yet we will walk through whatever circumstances come upon us, knowing that God goes with us & Jesus has gone before us. We can have faith and peace in all situations because “We are not of those that shrink back and are destroyed, but are those that Believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39).

Friends: Jesus is our only hope and Heaven is our home. There is no other way! “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) If you don’t know Jesus as your savior, ask me, ask another Believer, ask your Pastor, but ASK!

faithfulness

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

Focus on faithfulness and obedience in every task God gives you to do, no matter how small or insignificant it might appear. Maybe God gave you a big-picture vision and you have no idea how to get there. Don’t get mired down, worry, or lose heart. Focus on serving Him one step at a time, even if you’re on Step #1,247 wondering where the road is going to lead or when God is going to move. You never know what God will do next and He will direct your steps in HIS timing!

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

dusting off God’s Word

Do you have a Bible? Is there dust on it? Is it easily accessible or is there stuff piled on top if it? It’s time to get one if you don’t have one, or dust if off/dig it out. Take some time and read God’s Word – his love letter to us & basic instructions for life. Attend a body of worship and savor the preaching and Biblical teaching. There will come a time when we won’t have this luxury and we’ll need to rely on the Scripture that’s been engraved in our hearts and minds.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, ” when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12)

boldness

“Why do the nations rage and the people’s plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One?…”
“…Now Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness.” (Acts 4:25-26 and 29″)

Asking God to help us speak with boldness so that we never have to look back and wonder, “What if I had said something?”