Encouragement

December 17, 2018

So much More!

It’s been a while since I wrote, but as I was abiding this morning I was struck by the beauty of this verse and wanted to share it with you all!

Isaiah 48:17   Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.

 Time to geek out on you again, but bear with me, it will be worth it! Here are some highlights from the original Hebrew language:

RedeemerGa’al: to redeem or ransom (essentially to pay the price for someone who was captive)

Teaches –  lamad:  to teach;  to train, prod, or goad (picture a nudging along as you go, with gentle corrections, helping us to stay on His intended path)

Profitya’al:  to gain, profit, benefit, avail

Leadsdarak:  to tread, bend, lead, march (picture God bending down from heaven in order to lead us along!)

Wayderek: journey, way, distance, manner

Gohalak: to go walk, come, depart, proceed (my favorite part about this word is that it is literally coming/going from ALL directions!!)

Trying to keep it short and sweet today, but somebody needs to hear this!! The world will tell you that God is a distant God, or a myth, or isn’t concerned with our day to day living, or a thousand other things that are just plain lies.  Our God is sooooooo much more than that!  Thousands of years ago, in His infinite compassion, mercy, wisdom, and grace God set into motion a plan to truly REDEEM His children.  Redeem – to pay the ransom for!!  He knew we were captive to sin and brokenness, in bondage to our own selfish desires, and separated from our all-loving Father by our sinful nature .  And He knew we needed to be set free!!  The world will tell you that living for ourselves is freedom…..but we all know that it is not.  At the end of the day, living for ourselves leads to emptiness, lack of purpose, and questioning why we are even here.  The only true freedom lies in living life on adventure with the God who created us and has a beautiful purpose for our lives.

But part of why I LOVE this verse is that it doesn’t stop at REDEEMING!  Don’t get me wrong, if all He ever did was redeem us, that would definitely have been enough to warrant our praise, worship and loyalty forevermore.  BUT HE DIDN’T STOP THERE!!

According to this verse (and a gazillion others in the Bible), His heart is not to simply redeem us and then leave us to figure the rest of life out on our own!  In contrast, His heart is to redeem us and then lead and teach us every step of the way!!!  Look back at the Hebrew in this verse.  God’s desire is to prod us along, training, guiding and leading every step of the way as He reveals His will for us ….which, by the way, is ALWAYS best, none better!! He wants to be intimately involved in the details of our lives and in constant communion with us.  He welcomes our questions and even our doubts…..He simply wants us to stay in honest relationship with Him and allow Him to grow our faith.  As we learn to walk hand in hand with Him, He will lead us to a life of adventure, fulfilling every purpose He has intended for our lives moment-by-moment and day-by-day!

If you haven’t yet started this adventure with God, there is no better time than the present.  And if you feel stuck in your walk with God, now is the time to change that!  God is always eagerly waiting for us, asking “what about now?” He is ready to redeem us and to set out on adventure with us.  If you need someone to walk alongside you as you chase after God or even simply as you question Him, consider this an open invitation.  I’m more than happy to sit with you, chat, have coffe or tea, and look at what God has to say about whatever situation or stage of life you are in.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I certainly love to spend time with God and friends searching those answers out.  God intended us to journey together as we seek Him.

Love you all!! Do not let this Christmas season pass without discovering for yourself how amazing the gift God gave so long ago was and still is today! Merry Christmas!

 

 

November 15, 2018

In need of refreshment?

Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)   I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.

 Oh how I love this verse!! It is one of my favorites and one I pray for myself, family members, and others often.  But today, He wanted me to speak encouragement to you through this verse!

In order to do this verse justice, I want to lead you back to the Hebrew on it.  (I use KJV or NASB to do that since they are “word for word” translations rather than “thought for thought.” But the NIV version is the one I have memorized because it rolls off the tongue more smoothly.)

Jeremiah 31:25  (NASB) For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who lanquishes.

Satisfy : Ravah – to satiate, to saturate, to water abundantly

Weary – ‘ayeph: faint, exhausted, weary

RefreshMale’: to be abundantly filled

LanquishesDa’ab: to become faint  or lanquish (Webster’s defines “to lanquish” as to become pitiful or weak because you are sick, in love, or stuck somewhere.”

Look at the depth of the promise in these words!!  Who of us has not felt faint, exhausted, or weary at some point?  Who of us has not experienced feeling pitiful, weak, sick, or simply STUCK?  But that is not where our Creator wants to leave us!!  He has so much more for each of us.  His desire is to fill us abundantly with His living water – the source of true life, hope, and strength! When you look at the words satisfy and refresh, they promise not only to fill us, but to fill us to overflowing!!!!  As He pours out His perfect love and wisdom on us, those around us will naturally benefit from the overflow.  I LOVE this!!

Today, He is inviting you to spend time in His Word and to experience His Living Water pouring over your soul, refreshing you.  Here are a couple of suggested passages to start with today:  Psalm 23, 2 Corinthians 4:6-10, 16-18 (shout-out to Jenn for sharing this one with our group today), and Psalm 34.

Praying for each of you who reads this today, that when you sit at His feet and listen, you will hear His voice and His heart for you and be fully refreshed!!  This is what He intends His special time with you to be. Enjoy!!!

 

 

October 19, 2018

Don’t miss the adventure!!

Life with God is an adventure!!  If you don’t believe me, it may be time to check your perspective.  All too often, we get caught up in our to-do lists, or things that feel so “urgent” that we miss what God had planned for our day, our week, our life!  Being still before Him and asking for His direction has become a bit of a lost art in our “instant gratification/instant information” world.  But our God is a God who loves to speak to His children and loves to direct us in every aspect of our lives….yes, I said EVERY aspect!!  He has perfect instruction for us that leads us to His very best for us and those around us.  We need only learn to listen and follow!

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.

Daniel 2:22  He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.

Those are just a couple of my favorite verses on His perfect instruction…there are so many!! Oh how He loves to lead us and lay out things for our lives that we could never even begin to imagine! He sees around the corner of every aspect of our lives and He loves to take us on ADVENTURE!

If you’ve never been to New Hampshire in the Fall, you need to add it to your bucket list!  Often,  I feel like God painted all these colors just for me in order to remind me how beautiful change can be!  However, sometimes change and the unknown can leave our hearts restless and worried. But that’s not at all what He intends it to be.  God’s intention is for life with Him to be an amazing adventure in which He reveals exactly what we need to know when we need to know it!

This past weekend while I was hiking with a sweet friend God comically laid out a perfect illustration of what life with Him is like!  We were on a trail that we had never hiked before; we had a map of sorts that the owner of the trails gave us; and we knew the trail was marked by white dots.  We set out excitedly, enjoying the beauty of the changing colors and the leaves falling as a breeze gently blew.  We talked and laughed and navigated along the trail while faithfully following each white dot.  Eventually the white dots were replaced by yellow flags (which, by the way, were very hard to see when they were tied to trees that now had yellow leaves too!)  We weren’t too concerned because we knew we were on a marked trail…just maybe not the one we had set out on???  But we continued anyway, now searching for any sign of white dots OR yellow flags.  The path was not quite as clear as either of us would’ve preferred.  I imagine storms from this summer and overgrowth that hadn’t been pruned back had covered the formerly cleared path a bit.  It was actually quite an adventure exploring this trail and searching out the next signal for where we should turn.  There were several times along the path that we had to literally stop and go back to the last marking we had seen in order to get a better vantage point of where we should be going.

As we searched, God struck me with how perfectly our hike illustrated walking with Him.  You see, He gives us tools, He marks out paths, He guides us gently each step of the way, and even puts people to travel these paths with us and help us to seek the right path and confirm that we are on it.  There is laughter and joy along the way.  And sometimes tears and pain too!  While we may know the general direction He is taking us, it is necessary to seek His direction at every turn.  And the cool thing is that He desires to give us direction each step of the way!!

Jeremiah 6:16  Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths where the good way is and walk in it.  Then you will find rest for your soul. But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

 Sometimes we may wander off the path or not be able to see where we are supposed to step next.  But just like we did on that trail, the best thing to do when you don’t know what to do next is simply to go back to the last thing He told you to do!  Eventually we did make our way out of the woods, and although the hike took us quite a bit longer than planned, we had a wonderful adventure together!

What questions do you have for God today? Where do you need His direction? Take time to day to write out your questions for God in your journal.  Ask Him what He has to say about each of these things.  God cares about the details in our lives and is perfectly capable of communicating with us exactly what will lead us to His best. Listen for His gentle whisper, watch for His moving, dig into His Word and trust that He will speak .   Be willing to stay with it, asking for His instruction until He gives it.  And if you aren’t hearing your next instruction yet, do that last thing He told you to do.  He is faithful and desires to lead us in everything! And the “everything” He has planned for us is best and none better…and will bear much fruit!!!

John 15:5  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.

 

 

September 15, 2018

 Time to Shine

 Isaiah 60:1  Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

 This is one of my all-time favorite verses!  In a world filled with darkness and confusion, we are called to shine God’s light and love to those around us.  I love how God has invited us to share with Him in this mission!!  I was thinking this morning about how much joy I experience when I’m serving someone else.  My heart is made full and the troubles of this world become very small. There’s simply something about serving and loving on others that makes the world a sweeter place and brings pure joy to our soul.  I believe that one reason this is so fulfilling is simply that we are never more like Jesus than when we are loving and serving others sacrificially!

1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

 We were made for serving others, for shining His light, for sharing His love, for being God’s hands and feet on the earth!  When we do what we were made for, the world sees Jesus….and the world needs more of Jesus!

Today, whether you are serving your spouse, your children, your parents, your neighbors, your community, or those in crisis of some sort, bear in mind that you are reflecting Jesus’ heart!!  Serve with joy and allow God’s love to shine brightly through you!

 

 

August 24, 2018

BE STILL.  Be still!!!  These words resonated in my heart this morning as I laid out all the things on my mind before God.  School starting back, changing schedules, concern for my mom, concern for my children, college decisions ahead, college visits, wedding plans for my oldest, wisdom for Dan at work, texts from friends who really need to see God intervene, texts from friends who are hanging on by a thread amidst difficult circumstances, stories of hurricanes and other natural disasters, the fate of the homeless, and the list goes on.  Our minds and hearts are sometimes so very full it is hard to hear our own thoughts, much less God’s.

Yet, as I sat in my prayer closet this morning, I heard God’s gentle voice reminding me to simply BE STILL!

Psalms 46:10  Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth.

Oh how sweet these words are – and a much needed reminder for me today!  Check out the Hebrew on this:

Be stillraphah: to sink in, to relax, to let go, to be quiet

Knowyada’:  to know, learn to know, to find out, to know by experience!!

Today, if you also are finding yourself a little overwhelmed by all that is going on, enjoy this beautiful instruction from God!!! Sink in and relax.  Submit your worries, questions, concerns, and plans to God.  He is at work.  Just BE with Him.  Sit at His feet and enjoy the perfect communion He desires to have with you.  Let Him minister to your soul and speak truth to you.  As you let your burdens go and trust His voice, you will begin to know Him by  EXPERIENCE and to see God being God!  He will accomplish His perfect will….which is best, none better!!

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

 

 

 

Aug 17, 2018

Identity.  Uggghh.  I don’t know about you, but for me there are days that I simply need to be reminded of who I am in Christ and how He sees me.  No matter how hard we try to keep things in perspective, the world around us is always trying to shape how we see ourselves.  And we buy into these ideas whether we want to or not.  It’s so easy to assign value based on appearance, weight, performance, perceived success or failure, etc.  While social media is a beautiful tool for reconnecting, it can also feed the lies and create deeper insecurities.  Culture bombards us at every turn with images and ideas of who we “should be” and all too often we find ourselves trying to measure up or doubting who God created us to be.

It was in one of these moments of feeling “less than” that God spoke something beautiful to me reminding me of how He sees me.  I’m hoping that these words will encourage one of you today as well!

Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love which binds them together in perfect unity.”

Honestly, as I sat opened my Bible and read these words, I didn’t need to go further than the first phrase to know God was speaking rhema directly to me. (Oh how I love that He speaks so personally to each of us when we are abiding in His word!) We are Chosen.  We are holy.  We are dearly loved! I needed to be reminded of these very things.

God CHOSE me.  He chose ME!! He invited me to experience His perfect grace.  He invited me to join in His work and to be on adventure with Him.  He saw me not as I am, but as I was CREATED to be….and He CHOSE me!

I am HOLY!  Not “I will be holy.”  I AM holy.  I am set apart for God and for His purposes.  He CHOSE me; He made me HOLY the moment I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior!

I am DEARLY LOVED.  He looks upon me with affection.  He desires to spend time with me, to know me, to walk alongside me, to guide me, to see me experience the fullness He has for me.  I am DEARLY LOVED!!

Oh that I would remember these things when I feel overwhelmed, lonely, confused, or not worthy.  I am chosen.  I am holy.  I am dearly loved!  And so are YOU!!!

Today, if you are struggling with feeling “less than”, lean into who God says you are!!! The best way to combat the lies of the world is to memorize God’s truths and speak them over a situation.  Some of my favorite verses on identity are:  Jeremiah 1:5, 1 Peter 2:9, and Romans 8:17.  Feel free to post encouraging verses in the comment section.  God loves when we encourage one another with His word!!

(Side note:  There is a lot of great stuff in this entire scripture passage that is definitely worth digging into.  I’ll add a post soon under another tab that fleshes out some of these truths!!)