Day 23/365 – Even in the Valley God is Good

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…..” Psalm 23

The Psalmist had been there; he had walked in that valley. Have you been there too? If so, you know the pain, the hurt, the fear of walking in that valley. There are other valleys….the valley of the shadow of depression; been there have you? Here’s one many of you have walked; the valley of the shadow of cancer; scary isn’t it? Many of us have walked the valley of the shadow of despair, embarrassment, and unemployment. There is the valley of the shadow of divorce; the valley of the shadow of out-of-control children; the valley of the shadow of anger; the valley of the shadow of addiction. Here’s what I’ve learned as I walked through the valleys in my own life.

I learned that you need others to walk with you through the valley. I’m not sure if I would have made it without significant people walking with me. My family, close friends, my restoration team and my counselor walked with me every step of the way. I choose these people to walk the valley with me and they were glad to be my companions.

I learned that there is grace, peace and security in the valley. In my journey through some tough valleys, I experienced so much grace. I found peace and security in the valley. Valleys are where we do our best growing. My valley was a place where I could rest, recuperate and be renewed. It was only in the security of the valley that I was restored physically, spiritually and emotionally. Let God grow you in the valley,

So my friend, don’t be afraid of the valley. The valley can be a good place but you need others to walk with you. Don’t try to go it alone! At the same time, try to see the purpose of why God has you walking through your valley. These song lyrics say it so well….even in the valley God is good! Be encouraged today friend for the Lord is near.

Blessings, Randy

Even in the Valley
By Rebecca Peck and Amy Marie Unthank
Copyright Thomas Peck Music

CHORUS
EVEN IN THE VALLEY GOD IS GOOD. EVEN IN THE VALLEY HE IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE.
HE CARRIES HIS CHILDREN THROUGH LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD,
EVEN IN THE VALLEY GOD IS GOOD.
VERSE I
HIGH UPON THIS MOUNTAIN THE SUN IS SHINING BRIGHT.
MY HEART IS FILLED WITH GLADNESS HERE ABOVE THE CARES OF LIFE,
BUT I’VE JUST COME THROUGH THE VALLEY OF TROUBLE, FEAR, AND PAIN.
IT WAS THERE I CAME TO KNOW MY GOD ENOUGH TO STAND AND SAY,
VERSE 2
THE ROAD OF LIFE HAS LED YOU TO A VALLEY OF DEFEAT.
YOU WONDER IF THE FATHER HAS HEARD YOUR DESPERATE PLEA,
BUT THERE IS HOPE IN THE RUGGED PLACE WHERE TEARS OF SORROW DWELL.
CAN’T YOU HEAR HIM GENTLY WHISPERING, “I’M HERE, AND ALL IS WELL.”

Day 22/365 – Overcoming Discouragement

Becoming discouraged is something that plagues everyone. No one is immune and all sorts of things bring on discouragement. You know that feeling when you are in the middle of a project at work and things just don’t go right? How about just when you think you are on the path to some financial peace, some disaster hits and you find yourself right back into debt? Then there are the dreaded family and marriage problems…..I don’t think anything can discourage us like having major marriage or kid problems. Finally, poor health can bring on tons of discouragement.
Well friend, this has been a problem throughout the history of mankind. Pastor Rick Warren, the author of A Purpose-Driven Life, wrote about overcoming discouragement. These simple words have helped me and I wanted to share them with you.
Then the people of Judah said, “The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can’t continue to rebuild the wall.” Nehemiah 4:10 (GWT). Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.
First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.
Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?
If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.
What is the rubble in your life? I think rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God has called you to do.
Third, you think you’ve failed. Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.”
But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does dumb things. So the issue is not that you failed – it’s how you respond to your failure.
Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you refocus on God’s intentions and start moving again?
Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged. Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.
Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it. It’s the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God help me get my eyes off the problem – off the circumstance – and keep my eyes on You.”

Be encouraged today friends for the Lord is near!

Day 21/365 – December 14, 2012

Like all you Pam and I are heartbroken over the senseless murder of 20 sweet innocent children and 6 adults today in Newtown, Connecticut. I have been thinking all day how to respond and there are no words; our language is insufficient. Since we can’t be there to provide solace and comfort, here’s what we can do. We can pray for the first responders who had to see 20 dead children in their classrooms. That horrific scene will never leave their memory and the emotional toll will be life-changing. Pray for the funeral home staff that has the task of preparing the dead to be buried. Pray for the pastors and other clergy who will minister to these families. Pray for the teachers and staff of the school as they try to carry on the important work of educating the children. Pray for the other students in the school who must have been scared out of their minds when the shooting started. Pray for the medical personnel who will be treating the emotional and physical wounds of this tragedy for many years to come. Finally pray for the parents and families of these sweet babies who were killed today. Pray like you have never prayed before that God will replace their grief with comfort and their tears with beautiful memories of their darling angels.

Day 19/365 – A Year of Encouragement. The Obstacle in Your Path

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand…..Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve your condition. What obstacle is in your path today? I know some of you are battling financial and job stress, disease, grief, lonliness, and heartache. Today your obstacles may seem insurrmountable but there is promise for tomorrow. As you deal with the huge boulder in your way, know that God has a reward for you. It may be during this life or in the life to come, but there is a reward! Keep striving to move that boulder! Be encouraged today friends for the Lord is near!

Day 18/365 – A Year of Encouragement……Saved to Serve!

I didn’t write this post and if I did know, I would give them proper recognition.  I found this post on my computer and thought it might bless you.

Serving God can be habit-forming…and it’s a habit that all Christians should acquire.  Yet serving God isn’t always our first priority.  We live in a world that glorifies power, prestige, fame, and money.  Yet the words of Jesus teach us that the most esteemed men and women are not the widely acclaimed leaders of society; the most esteemed among us are the humble servants of society.

When we experience success, it’s easy to puff out our chests and proclaim, “I did that!”  But it’s wrong to do that.  Whatever “it” is, God did it and He deserves all the credit.  As Christians, we have been remade and saved by Jesus Christ, and that salvation came not because of our own good works but because of God’s grace.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, was correct when he said, “It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”  In other words, reality breeds humility.

Are you willing to become a humble servant for Christ?  Are you willing to pitch in and make this world a better place, or are you determined to keep all your blessings to yourself?  The answer to all these questions will determine the quantity and the quality of the service you render to God – and to His children.

Today, you may feel the temptation to take more than you give.  You may be tempted to withhold your generosity.  Or you may be tempted to build yourself up in the eyes of your friends.  Resist these temptations.  Instead serve your friends quietly without fanfare.  Find a need and fill it; find a hurt and heal it…humbly.  Lend a helping hand; anonymously.  Share a word of kindness with quiet sincerity.  As you go about your activities today, remember that the Savior of all humanity make Himself a servant, and you, as His followers, must do no less.  Be encouraged today friends for the Lord is near!

Day 17/365 – A Year of Encouragement….You Have the Power!

In your spirit, you know God is calling you to a ministry or mission you don’t think you are equipped to do.  I agree, in your own strength, you probably don’t have the knowledge or skill to achieve all that God has called you to do.  However, in Him you have all the power, strength, skill and knowledge to accomplish all that God has called you to do.  You see, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls! 

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NAS).  Ok, let’s be honest with each other.  You really can’t do all things, can you?  You can’t raise the dead, you can’t lift a car, and some of you can’t even open a pickle jar!  But you can do all the things God has called you to do when you work in His power zone.

God has called you to a task, a ministry or a mission.  He didn’t call someone else, He called you!  Sure, maybe you think someone else could be more effective but He called you.  Someone else is more talented and can speak better, but He called you!  Someone is smarter than you, they can speak multiple languages and can read Greek and Hebrew, but He called you!

Learn this….When you work in God’s power zone, He overcomes all your weaknesses.  “My strength comes into its own in your weakness…” 2Cor. 12:9 (MSG).  When you are in God’s Power Zone, His strength flows into your weakness.

Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 16/365 – A Year of Encouragement. “Rekindle!”

I heard a sermon recently from Pastor Joe Laughlin about the word “Rekindle.”    Pastor Joe reminded us that no fire will burn forever on its own. Eventually the fuel source is consumed and fire goes out.  If you want the fire to stay lit, you must “Rekindle!”   Rekindle means to excite, to stir up, or rouse anew.  Also, it means to cause to begin burning again; or ignite again.  What is it in your life that once burned hot but now has grown cold and needs to be rekindled?  Has the love and passion for your spouse grown cold?  The fire is probably still there but it must be rekindled!  Think how blessed, and surprised, your spouse would be if you did something concrete to rekindle the fires of passion in your marriage!  Find your spouse’s love language and learn speak that language!  I guarantee the return will be amazing!!

Has your love for Jesus and His church grown cold?  Remember the days when worshiping with His church was a highlight of your week?  Some of you have special gifts you once used in the church.  Perhaps you have a special gift of music but yet you haven’t used your gift in the church for many years.  Some of you have the gift of teaching or serving, yet you are not teaching or serving in His church.  Both you and the church are missing a great blessing if you are not using your God-given gifts. A word of advice… If you are in a church that won’t let you use your gifts, there is a church up the street that will!  Don’t stay in a church that won’t give you an opportunity to use your gifts.  My friends, it’s time to “Rekindle!”  Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 14/365 – A Year of Encouragement: Sabbath Rest

“…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest ….” (Hebrews 4:8b-11 NIV) .The devotion writer Jon Walker posted this several years ago and it made a profound difference in my life.  I pray it has the same effect on you.

Most of us think of the Sabbath as a day of rest, originating from the day of rest God took after he created the universe, as recorded in Genesis. And that view is correct; that is the basis for us taking a Sabbath, a day of rest, within our own week.  Yet there is a larger sense of God’s Sabbath: an invitation to rest in God’s healing grace, trusting in his power and his purpose for your life. We rest in our Father’s arms, knowing he goes before and he goes behind, knowing that his plans for us are good and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11).   We enter this “let go and let God” rest through faith, where we cease to work and live independent of God (“… anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work …”). Instead, we’re to focus our efforts toward entering this Sabbath-trust in God, a restful certainty that God’s got a handle on it all, and that he’s got our best interests in mind.  If I recall correctly, Ian Thomas illustrates this point by telling the story of a man walking down a dusty rural road on a hot, humid day. The man is loaded down with a heavy backpack and carries a duffle bag in each hand. A pick-up truck comes along, and the driver offers the walking man a ride, telling him to hop in the back. The driver heads down the road, but when he looks in the rear-view mirror he sees that his new passenger is standing in the bed of the truck – still holding both duffle bags, still wearing the over-packed backpack on his back.

The thing is: We stand in the truck of faith, still carrying our burdens, thinking they are independent of the ride we’re taking. Perhaps we think God can carry us, but not our burdens, that we have to keep bearing them ourselves.

What now?

· Rest in God – Rest in God’s power and grace, and work toward confidence (faith) that he is looking out for your best interests. “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief.”

· Rest requires dependence – If you’re working independently of God, then you’re not at rest in God. Possible signs that you’re working independently: worry, a need to control, a crammed-full schedule.

· Our Father’s heart encourages rest – Next time you feel overwhelmed by life, settle in a chair and “be still and know that he is God.” Give him your burdens – your backpack and your duffels.

Be encouraged today friends for the Lord is near!

Day 13/365 – A Year of Encouragement: Flowers for the Living

One of my encouragers is Scott Brookshire.  I’ve known Scott by reputation for over 30 years but personally for the last 6 years since I have been attending the Men’s Tuesday Morning Bible Study at Temple Bible Church.  Last week Scott encouraged me greatly in my writing and gave me this awesome idea.  Throughout The Year of Encouragement, we’ll have a time called “Flowers for the Living.”  I’ll simply give you an idea to thank and encourage people who have made an impact on your life, then ask you to share with me and the other readers who you thanked and why.  You can respond on Facebook or on my blog.  So, for today’s Flowers for the Living Feature, I would like for you to write someone and tell them what you appreciate about them.  Tell them how they have impacted you, the neighborhood, the community, the church or on a broader scale.  I can’t wait to hear your stories!  I’ll go first…thank you Scott for being a constant source of encouragement to me.  You always have a good word for me each Thursday morning and you were the very first person to ask me to lead our group in a hymn when I didn’t know if I would ever be able to lead people again in worship.  Thank you my friend, I’m forever grateful!

Day 12/365 – A Year of Encouragement

Let’s get real. We all deal with sin and unholiness.  Even the giants in the faith deal with unholiness.  “Then I said, “Woe is me for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs.  He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away your sin is forgiven.”  Isaiah 6:5-7.

If you are dealing with a recurring and chronic sin issue, let me encourage you to ponder these few things.

Realize what is making you unclean.  God sent his angel to put the burning coal on Isaiah’s lips.  Obviously the prophet had a problem with his tongue.  Maybe he would curse, speak untruths, or would use perverse speech.  Maybe Isaiah had an anger problem and he would lash out at the people around him.  You know where you need cleansing, so today, ask the Lord to bring on the coals!

God initiates the cleansing.  Isaiah wasn’t looking for God when he had the vision of the Lord seated high on his throne.  This was God’s way of giving Isaiah get a little glimpse of heaven!  It was God who knew Isaiah needed cleansing to prepare him for the work ahead.  Only God is holy and only through Him can we find cleansing.

We are cleansed for a mission.  Isaiah had a big job ahead of him.  In verses 8-12 of chapter 6 he gets his marching orders and realizes that without the cleansing of the Lord, then he would be ill-equipped for the mission.

You only get clean when you get real close to God.  Isaiah’s personal space was invaded by an angel carrying a hot coal!  God will draw you to himself even if He has to take extreme measures to get you there!

Many thanks to Jon Walker for his thoughts on this topic.  Be encouraged friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 11/365 – A Year of Encouragement

A few weeks ago Hurricane Sandy slammed into the shores of New York and New Jersey creating death and destruction in its path.  Many homes in the path of Hurricane Sandy were destroyed but yet some remained intact.  The reason some houses were not destroyed was because of their solid foundation.  What’s the name of your storm….betrayal of trust, declining health, financial setbacks, relationship failures?  All these can be  consequences of our bad choices.  Everywhere we turn, we see lives and families destroyed by the storms of life.  Many of those storms are our own creation, our sin.  My pastor has said many times, “You can choose your sin, but you can’t choose your consequence.  God’s desire, however, is that our lives and relationships survive the storms because of a strength that fills us from within. That power is released when we step out in faith and let Jesus live his strong life in us.  The switch that turns on the power is faith and obedience.  Our lives do not have to be destroyed in the storms of life if we have the solid foundation of faith in Christ.  The wise soul is someone who not only listens to what Jesus teaches but also builds their life on the foundation of obedience, allowing Jesus’ powerful message to make a real difference. The foolish soul doesn’t apply Jesus’ wisdom to the way he lives. The difference is revealed when the storms of life rage. The person who lives by God’s Word can withstand any storm.

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse, because it is built on rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT)

Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 10/365 – A Year of Encouragement

The Christian songwriter Don Moen wrote an essay about encouragement and I thought I’d share some of it with you today.  In Titus 2:6, Paul told Titus to encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  Encouragement persuades people to live godly lives and develop godly character.  We should continually encourage each other to live godly lives and develop godly character.  For instance we can:  Encourage people to resist evil when they are tempted.  Encourage people to aspire to godly character traits (i.e. loyalty, dependability, reverence, punctuality, etc.).  Encourage people to pursue holiness.

There was a man in the early church named Joseph, but the apostles gave him a nickname – Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.”  What a compliment!  Joseph’s life was so marked by his constant ministry of encouragement that it warranted a name change!  We have unlimited opportunities to encourage others.  How do we encourage others?  You know how:  speak affirming words, write encouraging notes, and make phone calls and emails.  As we dispense generous quantities of this particular “one another,” we will become more effective Christians.

Day 9/365 – A Year of Encouragement

What’s your story?  Yes friend, we all have a story to tell.  One of the saddest things I experienced in the ministry is sitting with a widow or widower to talk with them about their spouse and they couldn’t tell me how or when their departed spouse came to faith in Christ.  Don’t let another day pass without you telling your spouse and children your story!  Remember, you are not guaranteed tomorrow so you best make good use of today!  You have so much history to share with your spouse and kids….they need to know where you came from, how you grew up and what life was like when you were a child.   Your kids need to know the story how you and your spouse met and fell in love. They need your story!  Proverbs 10:31 “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom.”  As you share your life and faith story with your family you will extend wisdom to them.  Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 8/365 – A Year of Encouragement

Yesterday is gone and there is no guarantee of tomorrow; all we have is today.  How much time do you waste regretting the missed opportunities of yesterday or thinking about the future?  Friend, you are not guaranteed a tomorrow; all you have is today!   Sure there may be an opportunity to make up for yesterday’s mess up or future opportunities for making money and doing business but I’m talking about the missed opportunities of touching someone’s life.  Think about all those times when you should have called a friend or family member and didn’t do it; you missed the blessing!  It’s those missed opportunities to make that call that we’ll never get back.  I learned a long time ago when those thoughts come into my mind to make that visit or call, to write a note of encouragement or send that special email or text message that the Holy Spirit was speaking to my spirit to get up and move!  You see, God knows when someone needs a special touch from you and He gives you the opportunity to exercise your faith and be obedient!  It’s a powerful thing when you contact someone and say “I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you.”  We must take advantage of every one of those opportunities.  My challenge to you today is to listen for the Holy Spirit because He will speak into your spirit when He wants you to reach out and make that contact.  Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 6/365 – A Year of Encouragement

Some of you reading this are stuck in a rut.  These ruts can be significant challenges; here are a few.  The physical rut – “I can’t seem to lose this weight.”  “I sleep too much, and drink too much.”  “Every time I start an exercise program, something gets in the way and I quit.”  The emotional rut – “I can’t seem to get over my divorce.”  “I have a hard time getting close to someone.”  “Someone hurt me and I can’t forgive them.”  The vocational rut – “I can’t find a job!”   “I’ve been working at the same job for years and I’m stuck.”  “I can’t decide what to do after I graduate from college.”  The spiritual rut – “My prayers aren’t getting answered.”  “I’m in the middle of a spiritual desert.”  “I’m not sure what I believe anymore.”  The financial rut – “I’m getting deeper and deeper into debt.  My financial life is a mess.”  The relational – “My marriage is hurting.”  “My kids are a mess.”  “My sister won’t talk to me.”

It’s usually hard to get out of a rut all by yourself.  Ruts cause discouragement, fear and paralysis. You may be in a rut so deep that you are ready to give up and quit.  Let me give you a push, a foothold, a fresh idea. Let me come alongside and give you some help.  First thing, do not give up….don’t quit!  There are better times ahead.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:36-37 (NIV)

Listen close to Pastor Rick Warren as he gives some great advice in times of discouragement.  If you’re discouraged, turn it around by remembering God teaches you patience during delay. Ask him to transform your discouragement into patience.  You may be going through difficult times right now and feel like dropping off the planet. You’re discouraged because the situation you face seems unmanageable, unreasonable, or unfair.   It may seem unbearable and inside you’re basically saying, “God, I can’t take it anymore.  I just can’t take it anymore!” But you can.  You can stay with it longer because God is with you. He’ll enable you to press on. Remember, you are never a failure until you quit.   Don’t quit. Resist discouragement and finish the race God has set before you.

Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 5/365 – A Year of Encouragement

Friends, some of the people who need encouragement the most are those who stand before us every Sunday.  Encouragement strengthens and reinforces someone who is on the right course.  We often need encouragement, not because things are going wrong, but because we’re just tired of doing that which is right and good.  Even that which is honorable and good can, in time, become mundane and laborious.  Galatians 6:9 calls it becoming “weary in well doing.”  For instance, have you ever thought how difficult it must be for a pastor to prepare a new, fresh message each week?  Every Monday morning he starts his week with a blank sheet paper!  Even though he may enjoy research and sermon preparation, after years of preaching it can become wearisome.  How about those pastors in smaller churches who hold down a full-time job in addition to the stresses of shepherding a church?  Those guys need our encouragement.  How about those who lead us in worship? Every week, there is much time spent in thoughtful, prayerful work considering what elements of worship can encourage the church to enter into a moment of worship.   There is much time spent in rehearsals making sure that the music paves the way for powerful worship.  Friends, this week let’s encourage our pastors, worship leaders and our other ministers on our church staffs.  They need to hear from you!  Be enouraged today friends for the Lord is near!

Day 4/365 – A Year of Encouragement

Encouragement gives hope, courage, and emotionalstrength to those who are struggling.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have problems.”  This isn’t a threat; it’s just a statement of fact; perhaps even a warning.  Life is tough.  Disappointments come, things break, people who you thought were your friends will turn on you.  Yes, even those you love the most; your spouse and/or children will make major mistakes
and disappoint you; relationships turn sour.  When these problems come, discouragement and depression are not far behind.   When discouragement casts its heavy shadow, we need a good dose of encouragement.  Every interaction we have is an opportunity to be an encourager.  Think of those you know who are stressed, hurt, discouraged, afraid, sad and disappointed.  You can be the light of encouragement to them!  Ask the Lord to give you the wisdom to know how to be a blessing to those who need a good dose of encouragement.  Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

Day 3/365 – A Year of Encouragement

Have you ever been at the point of giving up?  I have and I bet most of you have been there too.  What is it that gets us through those difficult times?  For me, it has been those dear saints who made it a point to be an encourager to me.  Many of them have moved away, and some have passed away.  This has caused me some sadness because I’m wondering, who will fill their shoes?  Then it hit me; maybe I’m the one who needs to be the encourager.  God puts us in situations where we need the greatest work.  If we need to learn patience, He puts us in situations where we tend to be impatient.  If we need to learn to love, He puts people in our lives that are hard to love.  Get the picture?  We all need to be encouraged, so maybe we should become the encourager.

Years ago, the great UCLA basketball coach, Pepper Rogers was having a bad season.  He was getting lots of criticism from the press, the alumni and even his wife, who was one of UCLA’s biggest fans!  Reflecting back on that time, Pepper said, “My dog was my only friend.  I told my wife that every man needs at least two friends in his life.  She bought me another dog!”  Coach Rogers needed a healthy dose of encouragement, not another dog!

Thirty-five times in the New Testament we see a recurring word pattern; an action verb followed by the phrase “one another.”  For instance, we are told to: prefer, accept, greet, encourage, forgive, comfort, wait for, and honor…one another.  Learn how to do these key verbs and you’ll learn how to relate to others in a loving, Christ-like way. 

The most frequently mentioned “one another” in the Bible is to “Encourage one another.”  Perhaps it is the most mentioned because it is the most needed!  Hebrews 3:13 says we are to “encourage one another DAILY!” 

Day 2/365 – A Year of Encouragement

I was reminded today how small things can have a big impact.  That impact can be either negative or positive.  For me today, the little thing that made a big impact was a human voice.  It wasn’t a particularly powerful or influential voice.  It wasn’t loud and strong, but rather soft and, in the world’s view, rather insignificant.  Someone said told me today how much they appreciated the work I was doing on their behalf.  Wow, you would have thought I had just won a million dollars.  How awesome it is when someone says “thank you!”  Friends, let me encourage you to pay it forward tomorrow.  Tell someone how much you appreciate them; that you love them, that they are doing a great job.  You will reap a harvest of blessing when you use a little thing like your voice to bless someone.  Be encouraged today friends, for the Lord is near!

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