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When I woke this morning I turned to my phone and Bible app to get some thoughts for the day. My app has a daily scripture widget that I subscribe to. Today’s scripture was Psalms 116:1-2. As I read it and the rest of the chapter, I had a marginal relation to the passage. But it was in the past. Before when I cried to the Lord he heard me, but not now. Not that he doesn’t hear me now, but that I was crying to him. It wasn’t a “yes, this is God now” agreement with the scriptures. I read through, thought a bit, went back and read a couple a second time, searching for something to meditate on through the day and nothing really settled. I said a quick prayer for help this day and went on my way. 
This is how it has been lately. A struggle to read and pray, feeling a loss of connection, mostly out of duty even though a desire is there. An overwhelming sleepiness in the morning that hinders an early rise, a couple quick scriptures and prayer as one goes through the daily routine. 

But who can thrive or survive off of crumbs? You can’t physically or spiritually. In all honesty, I have always struggled with getting up early enough in the morning to set aside time for God. I have justified it in many ways over the years. While I have admired those that do and longed for it, the many times I have made a point to change, it only lasts for a short period of time. 

A while back I asked a friend to check on me. To ask how my morning devotions were going. To hold me accountable. I got the question today. I didn’t have a good report. I was honest, they have been awful of my own fault. I thought on it through the day. Why is it so difficult to get up? It’s not like the last broken 30 minutes of sleep are all that great. And while I don’t have a good reason, I can say that I’m ready. 
Ready to set time aside. Ready to deny myself for “just a couple more minutes” . Ready to go deeper. Ready for the victory.  You see, I spent some time tonight with God. I listened to a couple old messages. Words from the past on the man with the line, holding it out there for us to come through. On victory,  knowing the enemy, whose side you are on and why you are fighting. And on the surface these don’t have much to do with devotions, they clarified things in my mind. I went to prayer, I want God to draw out that line and I’m headed to meet it. I’m ready to go step by step deeper until I’m Swimming. I know whose side I am on. I know what he has done for me and I know who,  what and why I am fighting. God is so good. 

So when I read Psalms 116 tonight, it was deep. I could say “yes,  this is God now” I cried unto him and he heard me. He made a way, he listened, he showed mercy,  he forgave, he gave power. From searching for current relevance to a soul amen,  what a difference 16 hours makes. . . 

Psalms 116:1‭-‬19 – I love the Lord , because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.  Then called I upon the name of the Lord ; O Lord , I beseech thee, deliver my soul.  Gracious is the Lord , and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.  I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:  I said in my haste, All men are liars.  What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord .  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  O Lord , truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord .  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,  In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord .

Last night, during Bible Study, we continued in Jonah, a deeper look into Chapter 2. In class, these scriptures were compared to a soul in sin. How lost and desperate they are for help. Their search for God, that spark of hope, the surrender to him and their deliverance.

But this wasn’t my experience. I made the decision at a young age and throughout time to serve God. I wasn’t bound and miserable in sin. I was 8 years old.MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

To me, this passage resembled a saint, overwhelmed by life, in the depths of grief, going through a valley, a time where you can’t feel God, a season of waiting, a trial of faith, CRYING out to God. Looking to him to him for help. Through the discussion and thought it struck me that, with slight alteration (removing the part about the fish’s belly and being spit up on dry land) it could be relocated to the Psalms. It reads:

Jonah 2: Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,out-of-the-depths

 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

mountains Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.

hope When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.how-to-increase-the-value-of-your-relationships-22-638

 And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

I wonder if Jonah read the Psalms, if the words of David resonated with him as he searched his soul, as he desperately went before God, taking responsibility for his actions, and agreeing to follow through with his vow. His purpose of fulfilling God’s will for Nineveh.

Last week, out of the depths of my soul, I cried unto the Lord. I was overwhelmed and felt like I was drowning. I recognized that I could not continue on my own strength. I did not have that ability. Through a scripture, a reminder to rely on God’s strength, his help through the day, gave me something to hold on to. A hope that this is for a reason, that it won’t be forever, that his strength and grace are ALWAYS sufficient. christ-strengthens-me

The thought tonight in class was our Personal Theology Statement. What/who is God to you? Not what the Church thinks, not what the Bible says, but your very own personal study of God statement.

Salvation is a personal thing and in order to be successful we have to keep it personal. We can’t change our focus to what others are doing or how they think of us. We need only be concerned about the connection between us and God. With this connection sure, we can then be a conduit by which others can be helped.558309

So what is in a Personal Theology Statement (PTS).
1. Who is God to me?
2. What is God to me?
3. What am I willing to do for him?
4. Thanksgiving and Praise
These are just some of the points this statement might cover. It would also include his help in the most difficult times. It speaks of responsibility and promises made to him. It is fluid and relevant to your current condition with God. The longer one serves God, the deeper and more revealing their Personal Theology Statement is.

As I drove home from service and went on a walk with my dog, I meditated on my PTS. What is God to me? Who is he? What has he done? What am I willing to do for him? How is my gratitude? This is what came out as I began to write.

Startup Stock Photos

My God is…
Hope in the dark
Peace in the unknown
Joy in the daily tasks
The bearer of burdens
An unending supply of strength
All Loving.
He fills the voids were sorrow grows with hope.
Master Healer.
Worth of my confidence
Fulfiller of dreams,
He satisfies all needs.
Ever present.
Guides each step of my path and I carefully follow his lead.
From the depths of my being I seek him and he is always to be found.
When I don’t know why, he is the answer.
The praise of my soul rises to him.
In daily thanksgiving I see his beauty in the colors of the grass and the clouds across the sky.
He is wind.
A breath.
Life.
He is a rock when the waves rage.
Provides rest in the busy of life.
Proves peace is the perfect way.
God is worth waiting on.
I will wait without complaining and with joy for his light to move upon my path.
He overwhelms me, my fears, my desires
I choose to accept his way in contentment even when I can’t understand.
Beyond merciful when I have failed.
A Faithful friend.
Collector of tears, calming the storm of disappointment and loss, he gives grace and hope to go face the world and go another day.
My motivation.
My first thought when I wake, and the last as I finish my day.
He is my ALL.

I am sure this isn’t all and more will come in time. On my walk as I was listing off each thing God is to me and my promises to him tears of thankfulness and praise ran down my face. I was and am overwhelmed by the greatness of God.

girl-backpack-thinking-sunset-field-fence-What is your PTS? While it might be similar, and you might be able to relate, this isn’t your PTS. Take a minute. Think on this. Ask yourself “Who is God to me? What has he done? What will you do for him? Offer him Thanksgiving and praise.” Join in the Personal Theology Statement Project, share what God is to you. Maybe it will encourage someone to know this God in a personal way.

The service this morning was opened with a song of Joy. And while we have sung it hundreds of times, the second verse jumped out at me.

“I still have Peace.
I still have Peace.
After all the things I have been through,
I still have Peace.”

Do I still have peace? Just last night I read of Perfect Peace. I was still thinking on it this morning. What is this peace? This Perfect Peace?IMAG0333

The scripture reads “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” Isaiah 26:3-4.

As I reread this passage I realize that it is more than just the people of God speaking of God, but singing of him. This is a song of confidence in God’s provision and care.

Thou, God, will keep him, me, in perfect peace, when I keep my mind on you, when I trust in you. My Trust in the Lord must endure for in the LORD is everlasting strength.

So my trust, utter dependence, reliance, belief in, confidence on God will provide me with perfect peace, In-Gods-Handsnot a little bit of peace or shattered peace or broken peace or incomplete peace, but perfect, whole, complete, enough, abundant peace. Abandoning my life in God’s hands gives me a peace that is all I need.
And that isn’t all we get in return for placing our wants, desires, hurts, pains, questions, ambitions, families, loves, on God, he gives us strength to continue to trust him. This strength is everlasting, not just for today, this hour, this trial, the well won’t run dry. The strength of God that he gives in exchange for trust is EVERLASTING. It is of God, there is no beginning and no end. It is eternal strength.

In need of Peace, in a strength drought? Why not Trust in God Again?

“Is there a mountain standing in your way
Is there a loved one you’re worried about today
Is there a blessing you desire that seems intangible
Instead of giving up the fight
Cling to faith with all your might
The One who’s seen you through before is still able
(He’s still able.)

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at his word
Why not trust

Why not trust God again
I know that he can do it
If I pray again, believe again
My God will work it for my good again
I know that He will see me through it all
If I trust in God again.”
Kurt Carr – Why Not Trust God Again Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Why NOT trust God again? He has proven himself Faithful.

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I have been thinking a lot about sarcasm. How many people use it while trying to be funny…and in it’s place, it may be, but all too often it goes a bit too far and causes damage. I looked up the definition and was a bit taken back:

Sarcasm:
1. the use of irony to mock or convey contempt:
2. the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny:
3.a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain:
4. a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual

The whole intent of sarcasm is to hurt or mock. Only 1 short statement about sarcasm is to be funny, while the rest is to put down another person.

A couple years ago I was reading The Screwtape Letter’s by C.S. Lewis and I remember this passage about laughter. It is probably the section that I remember the most about that book. The book is a collection of letters from a “Lead’ Demon as he instructs a subordinate to discourage, distract and bring defeat to the soul of a human man. The following is a passage on laughter.

 MY DEAR WORMWOOD…I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy.

You will see the [Joy] among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday…

Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us….it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

The Joke Proper, which turns on sudden perception of incongruity, is a much more promising field…The real use of Jokes or Humour is in quite a different direction…it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame…

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny.

Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.

If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter.

It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.

Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE

I had never thought of how the enemy of our souls could use laughter against us but how true it is. While reading this passage I remember instantly thinking of sarcasm. That flippant witty joke that pokes just a little fun at someone else and how damaging that can be even if that isn’t the intent.

I grew up with sarcasm. It was the way that we had fun, laughed, it was in our general conversation. I trust that the conscious motive behind it wasn’t to hurt one another, but in all honestly, the jokes were often at someone’s expense. When I was reading this book, I made an active choice, to start to stop using sarcasm. It has been a process to learn to think and speak with out it, towards others and towards myself. I haven’t made it completely and sometimes when I am around my family I fall back into that pattern of speaking, but I work on it.

The Bible has a lot to say about our speech. In 1 Corinthians 14:3 it reads, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation and, comfort.” We are to “be holy in all manner of conversation:” 1 Peter 1:15. To be an “example of the believes, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12. In Philippians 1:27 it says to “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:…that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”. And in Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” To be careful with what words we say, Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider no that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine hear be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” And lastly but certainly not the last mention of it, James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved bretheren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

From these few scriptures we find that we are to be careful with what we say, to take a few seconds to think about and consider the words before we speak them. That every word is to build and edify one another and to not harm or hinder. What we say is an example to those around us of a true Christ-like life.

Sarcasm works among friends, spouses, family, saints, acquaintances and enemies. But it is most dangerous among those that are in fellowship. It can hurt and divide saints, spouses, and families. If it doesn’t lift up or edify, think twice before saying it, even if it is just a joke and you think they can take it.

Not only can we be sarcastic and flippant with others, but also with ourselves. We can make jokes, comments, at our own expense that demean or lower our worth. This isn’t an act of being humble, in fact it’s unfair and often untrue regarding our actual worth. It works like this, when someone complements us and our comment is one that would put ourselves down or minimize who/what we are or have done. The enemy can use this to discourage us and make us think we are not doing our best or are that we aren’t saved.

Don’t get me wrong, humor is good. Jokes can be funny. Irony and “sarcasm” in a pure sense (if it can be so) is ok. Can be useful and even a help. But it is when it crosses the line to causing hurt that it has gone to far. I don’t want to say that we can never laugh or joke around. But we do need to be considerate of others and what we are saying.

I am challenging myself once again to be careful in my thoughts and words about others and myself. That the statements are true and not mocking or harmful. Honesty is ok, consideration is a must, and laughter is needed, but harmful, digging, and insulting words are not.

“Only let your conversation be as it [exemplifies] the gospel of Christ:”…”[speaking] unto men [for] edification, and exhortation and, comfort”

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