Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

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



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 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 15/365 – A Year of Encouragement….Recovering from Disaster

Recovering from a natural disaster is difficult.   There’s a loss of property, income, emotional and financial security, comfort, and maybe even your physical health.   When you have a personal disaster, recovery is something different all together.  If you are experiencing a personal disaster, you have some of the same recovery issues as those who have experienced a natural disaster with the additional loss of reputation, integrity and influence.  Pastor Rick Warren has written extensively about recovery and offers these three steps.

  • Admit your guilt. Own up to it.  Don’t make excuses. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Proverbs 28:13 NAS).
  • Accept Christ’s forgiveness.  He’s waiting to clean your slate.  Ask him to clear your conscience. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV).
  • Forgive yourself and focus on the future. “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG).

If you’ve been the victim of a natural disaster, one of your first calls is to a company that specializes in restoration.  The restoration team can quickly get your life back in order.  There is one more step to recovery if you’ve experienced a personal disaster.

  • This fourth step to recovery is mine.  Find three or four close friends who will be your Restoration Team.  Recovery from a personal disaster is a long process.  If you try to go it alone, you are sure to fail.  Get your Restoration Team together and get busy with the hard work of recovery.  Contact me at if you want to know more about the Restoration Team process.

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!