Category Archives: Encouragement for Today

Our Wedding Night Changed Our Marriage

 

KIM KIMBERLING, PH.D.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 (NIV)

When I tell people that my wife Nancy and I have been married 45 years, I almost always hear “Wow!” and “That’s great.” I appreciate those comments, but where we are today has been a journey. We didn’t have an awesome marriage for a very long time.

In fact, starting out as barely 20-year-olds, we really had no idea what marriage was all about. Our fights almost did our marriage in before it began. After six years of marriage, the future was dark, we had a new baby and we needed a miracle.

Of all the things we did wrong, there is one thing we did right. I wish I could say I brought it to the marriage, but I didn’t. Nancy did.

Let me paint a picture for you.

On our wedding night after we left the reception and finally made it to our hotel room, Nancy made a request of me that God has used in our marriage since that day.

As we got ready for bed, Nancy went into the bathroom to change. I changed in about 30 seconds and waited for her sitting on the side of the bed. An eternity later, she emerged from the bathroom looking like an angel. She walked over to me, took my hand, sat beside me on the bed, looked into my eyes and said, “We need to pray.”

In case you were wondering, that was the last thing I thought my new bride would say to me in that moment. But the real surprise was that I looked her back in the eyes and said, “OK.”

We knelt by the bed in our hotel room, held hands and prayed a prayer we both knew and were comfortable praying together: The Lord’s Prayer.

Since that first night many years ago, we have prayed together almost every day. Through all the ups and downs of life and marriage, praying together daily is the glue God has used over and over to keep us close to Him.

During the darkest times in our marriage, as we continued to pray together, we saw God show up over and over to keep us together.

First, God used an older lady in our church to minister to Nancy. As Nancy shared our story, this wise woman lovingly encouraged Nancy to stay in the marriage and that God would make something beautiful out of it.

Second, as we continued to talk about our marriage and our struggles, it became obvious that neither one of us really wanted a divorce.

Finally, we made a vow never to bring up divorce again and to let God build our marriage His way.

As we purposely put God first each day, our marriage began to change. It was not overnight; in fact, it was a process that continues to this day. But God taught us how to fight for our marriage instead of fighting each other. It was marriage-changing.

We learned to stand side by side with God and take on anything and everything that the world threw at us. We learned firsthand that if God is for us no one can ever stand against us (Romans 8:31b). It is a truth that I pray every married couple can embrace because it is a truth that will close the gap between where your marriage is and where God wants it to be.

Father, You truly are the Great Healer. I pray that I may see Your plan for my marriage. Make the changes You want to make in me. In us. I pray to be so connected to You and my spouse that we may stand together against all that would come against our marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 17:15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Today, where is God in your marriage?

If God is not the center of your marriage, what needs to be your next step? It may be praying together on a regular basis, or talking to a trusted mentor. If you and your spouse need further help, it may be time to talk to your pastor or a Christian counselor.

Whatever your next step is, do it today! It will make a difference in your marriage tomorrow.

Encouragement for Today – Please Interrupt Me – LYSA TERKEURST

 

“The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:8 (NIV)

I wonder if the greatest witnessing tool available to us Christians is often pushed aside because of our busyness.

Recently, I was focused on all the items on my seemingly never-ending to-do list.

As I sat at a stoplight, a friend called and started lamenting that her son had forgotten his lunch and his belt required by the school’s uniform policy. She was stressed and trying to get in touch with her husband who’d just dropped off her son at school. She was at home with a new baby feeling groggy from a sleepless night and overwhelmed by her situation.

Her son could probably get his friends to share their lunches with him. But, the belt would be a problem. The school would call her when they noticed the missing belt and require her to bring one. She lives over 20 minutes from the school.

As I sat at the stoplight listening to my friend, I looked to the store off to my right. That store has belts. That store has lunch food.

I was faced with a decision: Could I help? Well, I could, but my schedule would have to be rearranged a bit. Would I help? My friend wasn’t asking for my assistance but in that moment, I knew it would be a tremendous blessing for her.

This day I wouldn’t let my busyness take precedence over the blessing of divine interruptions. So, I helped.

I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect my friend had been asking Jesus to help her. It’s hard being up half the night with a sleepless baby. It’s hard to find a new normal when life gets a little off-kilter by changes in the family dynamic. It’s hard when you need help but feel like everyone is so busy you hate to bother them.

Now I’ll admit, I’m a task-oriented person, so it doesn’t come naturally for me to look for interruptions in the midst of my busyness.

But sitting at that stoplight, I realized the power of pausing. Pausing just long enough for Jesus to tap on the edge of my heart and say, “Could you? Would you? Do this as if it’s the most important part of your day and not an unwelcome interruption.”

The Bible teaches one of the most important precepts is love. When we love others we are living the message of Jesus. And listen to what Psalm 19:8 says, “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Oh how many times have I missed the joy of pausing to live and love and light the world for Jesus? I suspect it’s happened more often than I’d like to admit.

But instead of getting stuck in what I might have missed, I’m choosing to see this as a wake-up call. I’m choosing to underwhelm my schedule so God can overwhelm my soul with these opportunities to love.

Dear Lord, help me pause today and remember my greatest witnessing tool is to simply be available to love others. Show me where I can love. Make me courageous enough to put aside my carefully planned to-do list. And help me find ways to be an answer to someone’s prayers today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (NLT)

Psalm 39:6a, “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES: Lysa TerKeurst – The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Who in your life is currently going through a season where you could practically lend a hand?

Today, spend some time praying about ways you can create white space in your schedule to make yourself more available to help this person.

Encouragement for Today –  Why Did This Happen, God?

 

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians listed above and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

Content in any and every situation?

Really?

A few years ago my middle daughter was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again.

I’ll be honest … this was a tough pill to swallow. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to want to wallow in the “why” questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn’t You stop this, God?

Why weren’t my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Or maybe even a small annoyance like losing your keys or having a flat tire on a morning you really needed to be somewhere.

It’s so tempting to wallow in the “why.”

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: “Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?”

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (NIV).

I like to call this verse, “Directions on Where to Park My Mind.”

And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I’ve had to help her say:

This is my reality, now what am I going to do with it?

What can I learn from this?

What part of this is for my protection?

What other opportunities could God be providing?

What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

Is it always easy? No.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

Yes it is, and I pray this helps you today.

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Give the gift of encouragement by writing a special note to a friend who may be going through a hard season right now. This “Live a Life of Love” gift set is so much more than a greeting card. It can be framed and treasured for years to come.

 

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Spend some time today talking to God about the things that hurt you.

Pray and ask Him to help you turn your why questions into what questions.

LYSA TERKEURST

Encouragement for today – When I Don’t Get What I Want

 

Have you ever wanted something so badly your heart ached with each thought of it? It seems life would be so much better if you had that.“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

There would be more happiness.

More contentment.

More fulfillment.

More satisfaction.

More peace.

We can envision ourselves with this thing, this person, this opportunity. And all things are better. So, why doesn’t God give us this longing of our heart?

Because He wants us to willingly release it to Him.

Ouch.

Not the answer we want. Why would God let the aching desire linger and not make things happen? He could. He’s certainly able. But when He doesn’t, it seems unfair. Not good. Confusing.

It’s easy to get down when we’re constantly let down.

We hope this thing will happen … we’ll meet this right person … we’ll get this job … we’ll finally be healed … we’ll get that chance … we’ll see that family member turn their life around. Time and again it doesn’t happen. That’s when it’s easy to slip.

We can so easily slip into feeling a little distant from God because we feel hurt by God.

That’s what happened when the man I thought I was going to marry told me he met someone else. That’s what happened when I didn’t get the job I was so certain was going to be the answer to all my financial problems. That’s what happened when my son didn’t get into the charter school we were so certain would have been perfect for him.

But, in each of these things, I eventually had to make a choice. I could either be consumed with my unmet longing or trust the plans of our loving God.

As an offering of trust, we must give up that which could so easily bring us down.

Not give up as in a discouraged surrender. But giving up as in placing this desire in the hand of God and saying, “Either way, I will see Your answer asthe good answer and walk in trust.”

The Scriptures and today’s key verse promise He rewards those who honestly seek Him: “And without faith is it impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Sometimes I get so consumed with seeking my unmet longings, I don’t earnestly seek Him. But then I miss out on His reward. And His reward is the only thing that will fill the void in my heart.

Yes, I still struggle with unmet desires.

But not as much today as I did yesterday.

And that is good. Not easy. But good.

Dear Lord, I sacrifice chasing what I want so I might more fully, and with more focus, chase You. I release this grip of desire. I praise You for who You are, what only You can bring, and how You will fill whatever gap this release might leave. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (NIV)

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave is just what you need to replace your unmet desire with a longing for God. Get your copy today.

For more encouragement, visit Lysa’s blog!

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What unmet longing do you need to let go of today?

Place this desire in the hand of God by declaring, “Lord, either way, I will see Your answer as the good answer and walk in trust.”

by Lysa TerKeurst

Encouragement for Today – The Danger of an Empty Heart by Lynn Cowell.

 

“You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16 (NIV)

I’ve come to the realization that every choice I make is actually a trade.

Some trades are good. On the days I trade a half hour of sleep for extra time with Jesus in God’s Word … that’s a great trade. The time I chose to keep dusting as my daughter shared her heart with me … that was a horrible trade. Taking care of my body or indulging in a little more dessert? It’s all about what trade I will make.

There’s a guy in the Bible, not much different than me, who also made a trade. His name was Esau, and the story of his dealings are found in Genesis 25.

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob. Esau, like me, was an outdoorsy type. Jacob, unlike me, liked to hang out in the kitchen.

One day, after being out in the open country, Esau returned home exhausted and famished to find Jacob cooking some stew. He said, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew!” (Genesis 25:30, NIV).

Jacob, being the conniving type, saw an opportunity to play let’s-make-a-deal with his older brother. He made a proposition, “First, sell me your birthright”(Genesis 25:31, NIV).

According to Jewish tradition, fathers gave the birthright to the firstborn son. The eldest would receive the title of the family name (maybe something like the way royalty passes on the family title) and a double portion of his father’s inheritance.

Maybe Esau thought Jacob’s proposition was a lighthearted toss, so he threw back an exaggerated, sarcastic response: “Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32, NIV)

That’s all it took. He swore an oath and got his bowl of stew.

Some trade.

When I first read this account I thought: Really? Give away all of your rights for a bowl of stew?

What would possess Esau to make such an uneven exchange?

Take a closer look at the word describing Esau’s condition: famished. Extremely hungry, starving, empty, hollow. I think Esau’s condition had a lot to do with his decision. Past the point of being hungry, he was empty.

Hollow.

If Esau would have grabbed a snack while waiting for the meal preparation, he could have been sated until all was ready. The temptation to give up the best of later for the quick fix of now wouldn’t have had such a tantalizing pull.

Esau and I are a lot alike. When I’m “hungry” — whether that looks like loneliness, fear or tiredness — I can make some unwise decisions. When my heart is empty, I can make an unequal trade out of desperation. In this condition, I am tempted to:

Make quick decisions
Speed had everything to do with Esau’s choice. He wanted his problem fixed now! It wasn’t hard for Jacob to manipulate a man who wouldn’t wait.

Exaggerate my condition
Esau told his brother he was about to die. Someone who has been out in the open country all day doesn’t seem to be at death’s door.

Make unwise decisions
Esau gave up the best of what he had for a bowl of stew.

What’s the trade you’re facing? Does it have to do with how you spend your time, invest in relationships, or take care of yourself? Maybe you find yourself trading intimacy with your husband for a romance novel? Sacrificing financial freedom for “having it all”? Bypassing time with your kids for the project at work? The trade presents itself in many different ways.

Today’s key verse in Psalm 145:16 tells us, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Jesus will satisfy our hungers and allow us to see the truth of the trade if we turn to Him. Then, we can see the exchange for what it is.

What trades are you tempted to make today? Let’s learn from Esau. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth the trade if it means giving up God’s very best.

Father, I think often I am unaware that I am making a trade. Open my eyes to see the temptation for what it is and empower me by Your Holy Spirit to make the right choices for Your honor and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (NIV)

Isaiah 58:11, “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Do you know a young woman making some unhealthy trades? Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants by Lynn Cowell can help her learn to make wise choices.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are some of the trades, good or bad, that you make on a regular basis?

Take a moment to ask the Lord to help you see these choices and give you the strength to make the best trades in the week ahead.

Encouragement for Today – The Miracle of Friendship by Melanie Shankle.

 

“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 18:1 (ESV)

One of my dearest friends is dying of cancer right now.

I realize that’s not really an uplifting start to your day. But it’s the reality. I am heartbroken at the prospect of losing my Jen. She’s been a constant presence in my life since we first met at 18 years old and she swept into a room wearing a denim wrap skirt and Cole Haan loafers that caused me to immediately reexamine all my personal wardrobe goals. She was exuberant and confident, and immediately I wanted to be her friend … if I could get over feeling so intimidated.

Fortunately, I did, and she quickly became one of my dearest friends as we learned all the ways we were alike and all the ways we were different. God used Jen to draw my heart back to Him as she demonstrated how to make faith a priority. I look back at that time and realize God very purposely knit our hearts together during those years. He knew all the ways He would use us to encourage and strengthen one another.

As we see in our key verse, 1 Samuel 18:1, God sometimes knits our hearts with others like He did with David and Jonathan. He puts people in our paths because He knows we’ll need them.

Jonathan was just what David needed at that stage of his life. David was a young shepherd thrust into the spotlight. And based on some of his future writings in the book of Psalms, maybe a little overemotional at times.

David was often overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and depression, and being hunted by a crazy king. (I can relate to all of these things with the exception of the crazy king.) But Jonathan loved David, believed in him, and sought God’s best for him. Jonathan’s friendship was what David needed to grow into the king and leader he was to become.

As women, many of us spend our early lives thinking about marriage and hoping to find Mr. Right. Then we realize our husbands don’t necessarily want to hear all about the best waterproof mascara or cry with us over the kid who’s failing math or eat cookie dough straight from the bowl. That’s why God gives us our girlfriends.

Beyond common interests, affection and a sense of humor — the aim of friendship is to sow into each other words of eternal life and blessing. We remind each other of God’s wisdom and provision, refresh each other’s spirit and strengthen each other’s faith.

Good friendships require walking with one another down some hard roads, losses, a bad diagnosis, financial problems and much more. We need friends to help us remember what God has done for us and that He will be faithful.

In 2 Samuel 1:26b, David says of Jonathan, ” … Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known — or ever hope to know,”(MSG). That’s ultimately what God gives us in friendship: a real life, everyday miracle in the form of another person.

But having your soul knitted to another isn’t for the faint of heart.

It means you bear your own hurts along with those of your friend. You cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh and feel like your heart will break wide open when you face not having them by your side.

But it’s worth it because they cause you to love harder, laugh louder, live richer and become more than you could ever be without them. It’s putting your heart and your name in the hands of another person and saying, “I trust you with all of this,” as they do the same.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the friends You have given us to walk with us through life here on earth. Please show us ways to love each other better and take away any fear we have of being authentic about our struggles. Help us have open hearts that love the way You love. Thank You for knitting our hearts together with the people You know will make us stronger. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (ESV)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Reflect on some ways your friendships have made you stronger and how God has used them in your life.

What are some tangible ways you can show your friends how much they mean to you?

RELATED RESOURCES:
Stop by Melanie’s blog today to connect with her and learn more about her writing and ministry.

 

Encouragement for Today – The Moment that Saved My Marriage   LYSA TERKEURST

 

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Philippians 4:5a (NIV)

We all have them. Weak places. Places inside us that make us wonder if we’ll ever get it together like the together people. Places that make us feel “less than” the next girl.

One of those weak places for me has always been my tendency to let my emotions boss me around, especially in conflict.

My deepest desire is to let my “gentleness be evident to all” like our key verse says … but the truth is my reactions haven’t always reflected my desire for gentleness. I really think I was born with firecrackers in my blood.

But when my relationships began to suffer due to my emotionally driven tirades, I found myself crying out to the Lord for help. He prompted my heart to pause and let the Holy Spirit intervene on my behalf when my emotions rallied to be right.

Honestly, I wasn’t totally convinced that this whole “giving it over to God” thing really worked. Until one day I saw the beginnings of my imperfect progress.

A few years ago, my husband Art and I hit a rough place financially. Some investments we’d made went bad and we lost nearly our entire life savings. I was knee deep in caring for three small children at the time and hadn’t a clue that financial danger was looming on the horizon.

That is, until Art came home and the look on his face spoke of utter defeat. How could we have lost so much? He’d been wise with our finances. He’d done his research. He was a faithful saver. I stood stunned in our foyer that day, as Art told me the news.

There were many different directions my reaction could have gone in the minutes that followed. I was upset. When Art first talked of making these particular investments, I shared with him that I didn’t have a good feeling about it. But, in the end, I let him make the final decision.

So many times in my marriage, I’ve chosen the wrong words — words that were tainted with bitterness, words that were emotionally toxic. But I’m so thankful the Lord had been working on preparing my heart for this moment, and instead of reacting immediately with what would have been a disastrous response, I paused. I allowed the Holy Spirit a few seconds to interrupt my natural flesh feelings.

Then, because of God’s Spirit working in me, I was able to wrap my arms around my husband and speak life-giving words into his weary heart: “I love you, Art. I loved you yesterday when we had everything. I love you today when we have nothing. I love you for who you are, not what you have.”

Now please understand … I was only able to have this response by God’s grace working in me. I still did quite a bit of wrestling to let my feelings catch up to the gentle words I felt led to speak out loud.

But a few years later, I saw incredible fruit from this one good reaction. Art and I were interviewed on a radio program. On the show Art was asked, “I know you and Lysa had a rough start to your marriage. But what happened that made you know you’d stick by her forever, no matter what?”

Without hesitation, Art recounted my reaction over the lost investments.

I cried. I couldn’t help but think this could have been the moment that saved my marriage.

Had I been left to my own flesh reaction that day, it could have set us on the road to marital disaster. But, because of God’s response being stored up in me, this situation wound up bringing us closer together than we’d ever been.

And I realized how crucial it is to always be aware of God’s preparation in our lives.

One way to be more discerning of this is to commit to exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world every day. Before you check your cell phone or scroll through social media, spend time with Him. Listen for Him. And then go look for rich evidence of Him at work in your life.

Because God stands in our yesterday, today and tomorrow, He sees all. And He knows the perfect way to prepare our hearts for every situation.

When we embrace His preparations, even a girl with firecrackers in her blood like me can have reactions that honor God and breathe life into relationships.

Dear Lord, I’m choosing to let You take control of my reactions. Help me to always exchange whispers with You before shouts with the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 29:11, “A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.” (NKJV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What situation have you been in recently where you could have paused to let the Holy Spirit work on your behalf?

If you didn’t have a good reaction, don’t give up! The beauty of imperfect progress isn’t having it all together right away. It’s allowing the Lord to take you by the hand and lead you through slow steps of progress wrapped in grace.

Encouragement for Today – Lysa Terkeurst

 

Why Do I Have So Many Issues?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Have you ever looked at other people and thought to yourself, “How does everyone else have it all together? And why is it I seem to have so many issues?”

I understand. For most of my life, I’ve struggled with my weight and committing to a healthy lifestyle. My soul was rubbed raw from years of trying and failing.

I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.

I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I’d never let another person call me.

I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.

I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.

So when I lost 25 pounds a few years ago and kept it off for the first time in my life, it was a huge victory.

But my real celebration hasn’t been over the smaller clothing size and reduced numbers on the scale. My real celebration is over the spiritual insights I gained while losing the weight and maintaining my healthy progress.

For me, this has been a spiritual journey — a significant spiritual journey with great physical benefits. I had been overweight physically and underweight spiritually and finally tying those two things together was life changing.

One of the richest lessons has been realizing the amount of mental and spiritual energy I wasted for years just wishing things would change. All the while, I was beating myself up for not having the discipline to make those changes.

If you have an issue with weight and food, you know what I mean. But no matter what issue you are currently dealing with, can I offer a bit of encouragement?

Jesus wants to help you with that issue. He really does. But you’ve got to stop beating yourself up about it and determine to follow His lead.

We like to identify our shortcomings, form them into a club, and beat the tar out of ourselves mentally. Over and over and over again. We label ourselves and soon lose our real identity to the beaten and bruised fragility we call “me.”

We compare, we assume, we assess, we measure and most times walk away shaking our head at how woefully short our “me” falls compared to everyone else. How dangerous it is to hold up the intimate knowledge of our imperfections against the outside packaging of others.

If there is one thing that living 40-plus years has taught me it’s this: All God’s girls have issues. Every single one of us.

But we can make the choice to identify our shortcomings and instead of using them against ourselves, hand them over to Jesus and let Him chisel our rough places.

The grace-filled way Jesus chisels is so vastly different than the way I mentally beat myself up.

My mental scripts are too often full of exaggerated lies that leave me feeling defeated. His chiseling is full of truth that sets me free.

Oh what a difference.

Jesus doesn’t compare.

Jesus doesn’t exaggerate.

Jesus doesn’t condemn. Our key verse, Romans 8:1, confirms this.

He simply says, “Hey, I love you. I love you just how you are. But, I love you too much to leave you stuck in this. So, let’s work on it together. You can do this.

There is something so powerful in really believing that with Jesus’ help you can do this. Say it with me, “I can.” I can is a powerful little twist for a girl feeling deprived and defeated.

I can helps me walk into the dinner party and find the conversation more appealing than the food table. I can helps me stay on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresher, healthier selections abound and smile that I know this.

I can helps me look at the drive-thru menu and order a fruit tray without even giving a thought to the fried foods I used to snack on. I can reminds me to look online for a restaurant’s nutritional information before going out, ensuring wiser choices. I can reminds me no food will ever taste as sweet as victory does.

Having issues isn’t the absence of victory in our lives. It’s simply a call to action reminding us victory is right around the corner. Today is a great day to start believing you were made to walk in victory and to say to Jesus, “Yes, with Your truth as my guide, I can.”

Dear Lord, help me see myself the way You see me. Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge. You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND: When you read this part in the devotion, what went through your mind? “Hey, I love you. I love you just how you are. But, I love you too much to leave you stuck in this. So, let’s work on it together.”

Instead of using your shortcomings against yourself, take some time today to hand them over to Jesus and let Him begin to chisel your rough places.

Encouragement Today – What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

Lysa Terkeurst

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” Philippians 4:13-14 (NIV, 1984)

I don’t understand some things that happen in life. When one of the most vivacious, fun-loving, beautiful, determined-to-tell-the-world-about-Jesus women I knew found out her cancer was back, my heart broke.

Short of a miraculous healing from God, Brenda wouldn’t make it through the end of the year.

One afternoon, I sat with Brenda talking and processing her reality. At one point she got very quiet. It was as if she could see things I couldn’t. After a few minutes of silent reflection, she leaned over and whispered, “I know in my heart I’m not going to be here much longer. And I need to know my girls will be okay. They need godly women to walk with them, speak into them and guide them into the future God has for them.”

With tears streaming down my face, I committed to being one of those women.

A few weeks later, Brenda’s feeling was confirmed as she let go of her family’s hand and walked into glory.

Paige and Philecia were 19 and 14 years old, the same ages as my oldest and youngest daughters. I had no idea how to do this right. I didn’t have a game plan or a degree in grief counseling. My schedule was crazy. My own kids made me question my sanity some days. And I was so hyperaware of all the many ways I’m flawed. But one thing I knew I could do — be a female voice that whispered often into their lives, “I love you.”

Uttering three simple words into the deep grief of two brokenhearted little girls didn’t seem like much, but God used it in profound ways.

I couldn’t take away their pain. But I could bring joy in the midst of it.

I whispered “I love you” at simple, everyday dinners at my house. I wrote “I love you” on the tops of their birthday gifts and Christmas morning surprises. I texted it when I invited them for afternoon coffee and movie dates. Nothing about it was organized or done perfectly. But just the effort seemed to be what mattered most.

And bit by bit, day by day, love is helping us all figure out this hard time together.

I wonder if you have a friend going through a really tough time. Have you wrestled like I did with not knowing what to say? Being afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing? I understand.

But I’ve learned it’s better to risk doing it wrong than to do nothing at all. A simple “I love you” said or written in conjunction with meeting a practical need is a great place to start.

In May, the girls celebrated their first Mother’s Day without Brenda. I knew they would need an “I love you” to help ease the ache of this day. So, I invited their family to join mine for dinner that night.

Halfway through the meal, I wished I had thought in advance of some wonderfully profound words to share to honor Brenda. But right as I was lamenting not being better prepared for this moment, Paige pulled out a framed letter they’d written to me. In honor of Brenda, they’d decided to give me a gift they knew she would have loved … a gold cross necklace.

I was crying so hard I could barely read their letter. But since then, I’ve read it many times. It sits on my bedside table as a reminder of how powerful love is. In the letter they included one of Brenda’s favorite verses, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13). Interestingly enough, the very next verse reads, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles” (v.14).

Yes, it is good to share in each other’s troubles. And so, with a willing but very imperfect heart, I will keep whispering “I love you” into the lives of Brenda’s beautiful girls.

I still don’t understand why this happened. And I don’t always know the right things to say in response to deep grief. But I do know love is a beautiful thing to bring into the gap of all the unknowns.

Dear Lord, thank You for showing me the power of Your great love. Help me to be a reflection of Your love to the ones You have entrusted to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who is God calling you to come alongside and show love to?

This month, choose one person/family and think of ways to bless and encourage that person/family. It could be through prayer, quality time, helping with errands, anything!

by Lysa TerKeurst. – Proverbs 31 Ministries

Encouragement for Today – Thank You, Dad – SUZIE ELLER

Suzie Eller

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5 (NIV)

Moments after I stopped by my parents’ house, my dad clutched his chest.

Knowing the hospital was close, my mom and I helped him to the car. I pressed hard on the gas pedal, keeping an eye on the man who reclined in the passenger seat as I raced toward the nearby emergency room.

The news was not good. Doctors said his heart was badly damaged, and open-heart surgery was the only option.

Doctors scheduled the procedure for the next day. Since I lived in another city, I drove home to gather my things before returning the next morning for a long stay.

The sun crept over the horizon as I drove westward to be with my parents during my dad’s surgery. Visits were strictly limited, and my time with my dad was to be an hour before he would go in to the operating room.

When I arrived, a nurse informed me that my dad wasn’t in his room.

I rushed up the stairs to the surgical floor waiting room. “They took him back a half hour ago, Suzie,” my brother said. “It happened so quickly we just barely got to see him.” I buried my head in my brother’s chest and wept.

My dad was in surgery with his chest split open … and I didn’t get to say thank you.

Thank you for taking the place of our biological father who should have loved those tiny girls but for whatever reason didn’t.

Thank you for taking two little girls who didn’t have a father and making them your own.

Thank you for never seeing us in a different light than my brothers and sister who were born later.

Thank you for rejoicing that you won the prize another failed to claim.

When I was younger I didn’t always appreciate this gift. I loved the man I called Dad, but often wondered about the other one. Did I look like him? Where was he? Did he think of me? What might it be like if I had my biological father in my life?

As an adult, and as a parent, I saw it differently. Being a dad isn’t always tied to DNA.

One man was there at my conception, but another took the more difficult path. He went to work every day. He showed up at events. He disciplined and loved me, watched me graduate and marry. He took the name “Papaw” as he embraced my children.

I know not every woman who grew up without a biological father’s love has this type of experience. But all of us can know the love of God as our heavenly Father.

Psalm 68:5 describes God as “a father to the fatherless.” It’s a theme woven throughout Scripture from beginning to end. Our God loves orphans and rescues the abandoned. This is a work close to His heart.

Later that evening, after Dad’s surgery, I sat in the shadows with the rhythmic swish of the respirator the only sound in the room. I silently offered up gratitude.

First, because my dad had made it through the surgery.

Second, because this man partnered with God’s heartbeat when he stepped in to love two little girls without a daddy.

I leaned over the bed and whispered the words I could no longer hold back: “Thank you, Dad.”

And thank You, God, for loving me with a perfect Father’s love.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving me as a Heavenly Father. Thank You for bringing people into my life who partnered with You in that love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (ESV)

James 2:15-17, “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?” (The Message)

 

Encouragement for Today – Jumping Out of Airplanes – Suzie Eller

Suzie Eller

“But Jesus said, ‘You feed them.'” Luke 9:13a (NLT)

Each Wednesday, a few women come through my door. They bring with them stories of past addiction, abuse, childhood dysfunction, and second and third chances.

They also bring friendship. Laughter. Honesty. A heart for more.

One week we went around the kitchen table and shared five things that described us. Not five things from the past, or five things we see in the mirror. But five things that described who we are as changed, Jesus-filled women of faith.

When it was my turn, I shared three of my five things: I am kind. I am loved by God. I am an adventurer …

As I listed number three, I also casually mentioned how one day I’d love to jump out of a plane. Before I could move on, the conversation erupted.

Jump out of a plane? Why? That’s crazy!

Our study took a quick detour. After several minutes, I realized our discussion had taken a God-turn as these women began sharing their deepest fears, such as: taking a healthy risk within a relationship; believing they were capable to lead others; going on a mission trip (which requires flying). Even riding a ride at an amusement park.

Events and people from their past had convinced most of these women they were not intended to live adventurously, but rather to be limited by their past and fears. Did Jesus’ disciples feel that way too?

In Luke 9, the disciples approached Jesus with a big problem. The crowd was massive. They were in an isolated area, and there was no food.

The disciples wanted the people sent away.

Instead, Jesus turned to them and said, “You feed them.”

It made perfect sense for the disciples to ask Jesus to send the crowd away. In the natural, there simply wasn’t enough food. In the natural, they were accustomed to Jesus taking charge. In the natural, they were faced with a crowd of 5,000 men accompanied by women and children, bringing the total to more than 20,000 people.

“You feed them” was a call to step out of the natural and into the supernatural. It was a jump-out-of-the-airplane faith moment.

Jesus wasn’t asking them to do it in their own power. John 15:5b says, “apart from me you can do nothing” (NIV). Jesus was letting them know He was prepared to do a lot with the little they had to offer.

I asked the women in my home what it might look like if they were to respond to Jesus’ call to adventure.

One said she’d ride rides with me if we went to an amusement park.

Another expressed she was willing to open her heart to loving others, even if they were still a work in progress.

Another, who has never been on an airplane and is scared of them, is a recovering addict who desires nothing more than to tell others about Jesus. She said, “I would be afraid, but if God told me to go on a mission trip, I’d get on an airplane because my God would be there with me.”

I wanted to dance in joy! Something significant was taking place. For no matter how small the adventures might seem to others, God could do big things with each of us.

Have the words of others or your past put limitations on you?

Have they caused you to fear, or to think that Jesus can’t use you because of your story?

Does it seem too hard, or too big?

“You do it.”

That’s Jesus, putting His vote of confidence in you, knowing He can supply all your needs.

It’s a call to move from walking in the natural to believing in the supernatural. To learn things about yourself that God has known all along, and to watch the miracle of faith unfold in your heart.

Father, thank You for seeing beyond my fears, beyond my broken places, to the real me underneath. You see a strong woman of faith and a trusting child of God. Today, I trust that I can do all things through You, and with Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (NLT)

Isaiah 43:18, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” (MSG)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Suzie Eller’s newest book speaks hope into the hurts of your past: The Mended Heart.

Visit Suzie’s blog and join her in The Mended Heart online Bible study and download the first chapter for free.

Encouragement for Today – Might We Dare to Be a Little More Uncommon – Lysa Terkeurst

Lysa Terkeurst

“The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.'” Acts 8:29 (NIV)

I have to admit … when our guide pulled over to the side of the road at this unmarked, unremarkable looking place, I was underwhelmed. We filed out of the bus with a vague sense we were studying something in the book of Acts.

There were no signs in this part of the Holy Land.

No other tourists.

Our teacher walked to a place covered with brush and pointed to a rocky path. We gingerly made our way behind him and soon came upon a road:

With great enthusiasm the teacher said, “This road is where a man learned of Christ and received the Good News!” We walked a little farther and saw this:

“This place of water is where this man was baptized shortly afterward and went away rejoicing. We should rejoice! We should rejoice!”

And then we opened the Scriptures to Acts 8:26-39, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch.

Can I admit something to you I’m not very proud of? Even after reading the Scriptures, I wondered why our teacher picked this spot. We had so little time in Israel and wanted to see so much. I felt like there were bigger events that had taken place in much more well-known places. Shouldn’t we focus on those?

Why this place? Why this story?

And then as quickly as we arrived, our teacher whisked us back on the bus with one final statement, “Individuals matter.”

Those two words have lingered in my thoughts and have honestly made this underwhelming stop one of my favorites to consider.

Recently, I opened Acts 8 and reread it. Here are three things from this Scripture I want to let have their way with my heart and mind:

1. Go near.

Verse 29, “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.'”

This Ethiopian eunuch wasn’t like Philip. He wasn’t in his inner circle, comfort zone or part of his immediate sphere of influence. And yet, the Spirit instructed Philip to go close.

God help us. We must break out of the boxes of our normality and dare to go close to those we don’t understand. We must not use words like, “those people” with pointed fingers, hard hearts and spiritually superior attitudes.

By going close, we see things we need to see. We hear things we need to hear. And our hearts become tender in the way we must be tender.

By going close, we might actually dare to let love guide our approach.

2. Gain understanding.

Verse 30a, “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet.”

He ran. This took effort, energy and intentionality. Next, instead of wielding God’s Word like a weapon and haphazardly throwing Truth at this man, Phillip listened.

Then based on what he heard, Phillip asked this eunuch if he understood what he was reading. Philip discerned a need and sought to meet that need. Philip let the man’s agenda come before his own.

God help us. Instead of running alongside people seeking to understand them, we sometimes have tendencies to run them over with our agendas and perceptions and points of view. We must seek to be discerning, not demanding.

3. Earn the right to share.

Verse 31b, “… So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”

Once Phillip dared to go near and gain understanding, then he earned the right to share. Verse 35 goes on to reveal that Philip began where this man was and “told him the good news about Jesus.”

God help us. We must go to people. Listen to people. Start where they are, not where we want them to be. And from their point of need, lovingly share the good news about Jesus.

And might I share one more thing Philip did that I love?

Philip continued to travel down the road with this man for a bit. Verses 36-39 reveal, “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water … Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” And the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

Looking back at that seemingly uneventful day in Israel, I’m so thankful our teacher took time to bring us to this place. Remember, there were no signs and there were no tourists.

This was an uncommon stop in the Holy Land.

Might we all dare to be a little more uncommon, more often.

Dear Lord, I want to love others like You do. Help me to be a little more uncommon today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 15:7, “So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!” (MSG)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Have you ever wanted to walk where Jesus walked and see what Jesus saw? Now is your chance! Lysa TerKeurst is planning a trip to the Holy Land and wants you to come with her! Click here for more information.

Learn how to live in obedience to God and grow deeper in your faith with Lysa’s book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. Click here to purchase your copy.

Don’t miss a single encouraging post from Lysa! Subscribe to her blog by clicking here.

Encouragement for Today

line in the sand

The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today – Lysa TerKeurst

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)

I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.

I’d survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls’ locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher’s sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.

They weren’t laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.

No, they were laughing at me.

I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.

And it hurt.

I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.

• When your co-workers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren’t invited.
• When that other preschool mom says, “Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground.”
• When everyone else’s social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you’re crying yourself to sleep.

Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you’re not alone.

I want to be that friend for you today.

In the midst of whatever it is that’s made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?

This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled “Love.”

1. “You’re wonderful.”

(Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope …”)

What a loving thing to infuse joyful hope into your friend’s life by reminding her why you think she is wonderful.

The world is quick to tell us girls all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.

So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she’s a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.

2. “Me too.”

(Romans 12:12, “… patient in affliction …”)

What a gift to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.

The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. “Me too” acknowledges that I’m no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we’re all in this together.

3. “I’ll pray.”

(Romans 12:12, “… faithful in prayer.”)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she’s praying.

But here’s what I really love about her. She doesn’t just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. I honestly don’t know how she hasn’t gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me … but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.

4. “I’ll share.”

(Romans 12:13, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need …”)

When we notice a need in a friend’s life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution?

I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a “Job (like the man in the Bible) Party.” Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.

We didn’t come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.

5. “Come over.”

(Romans 12:13, “Practice hospitality.”)

Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There’s just something about relationships that are less pixilated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.

Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.

Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things, to say to a friend. So, today, I pause and say them to you.

Now, I haven’t quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it!

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond: Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?

Power Verse: Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NIV)

Proverbs 31 Ministries

Encouragement for Today – April 29, 2014

line in the sand

Every Doing Starts With a Step – Shelene Bryan

“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'” 1 Kings 19:13 (NIV)

When I was about 13 years old, my family vacationed in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands with friends. We heard about a local waterfall with a smooth slide carved into the rocks. We were up for the adventure, so we went to check it out.

The water slide looked spectacular. As we made our way to the top of the rocks that formed the slide, I noticed a handful of local kids jumping off of the adjacent towering cliffs into the water. Whew, that looked scary!

After about an hour of fun on that wonderful natural slide (it’s still the best water slide I’ve ever been on in my life), we started eyeing the cliffs and the local kids who were jumping. We looked at each other to see who would conjure up the guts to be the first mainlander to climb the cliff and jump.

Seeing how I always wanted to beat the boys, I volunteered.

I made my way up a path cut into the rock wall. As I stepped up to the edge of the cliff, where the overhang suspended me 30 feet above the water, I began to seriously appreciate how high I was. Basically I started to freak out.

Tim, one of the younger boys in our group, joined me on the cliff. He said, “If you’re not going to jump, move over and I’ll jump. Are you chicken?”

Before I could answer his challenge, a local man, who must have been watching me for five minutes as I contemplated jumping, said, “Just step off.”

“What?” I yelled.

“Just step off,” he repeated.

“Yeah,” Tim echoed. “Just step off.”

Just taking a step seemed easy. I took steps all day long. What was the big deal? It’s just a step. With that, I moved to the edge, closed my eyes tight and simply took a small step forward. My body instantly plunged into space and I free fell with a scream of thrill all the way to the water. I came up out of the water feeling like a stunt girl on Hawaii Five-0.

Are you standing on a “cliff,” unable to jump? Are you feeling like God wants you to make a radical change, but you just can’t? Some people are born jumpers. Others are more like I was: frozen on the edge of that cliff, unwilling to jump but willing to take a small step.

Throughout history God has prodded His people with questions and suggestions to help us figure out what we are doing for Him. Kind of like that man’s comment to me to step off the cliff.

An example of this kind of question is asked of one of my favorite Bible characters: A prophet named Elijah. Elijah had a deep love of God. And in 1 Kings 19, God quietly called out to Elijah through a whisper in the midst of a series of riotous distractions.

God asked a very simple question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The question was not for God’s benefit and certainly not for His information. God already knew the answer before He whispered the question. God designed that question to help Elijah come to grips with what he was going to do.

Nearly three millennia later, God asks the same question of me: “What are you doing here, Shelene?”

His question asks me to consider where I am. It challenges me to see where I need to go. And then it prompts me to take my next step.

I may not be a jumper, but I can take a step.

Lord, help me recognize Your voice when You call. Help me recognize Your trustworthy character and trust that You have my best interests in mind. Burn into my heart the desire to do the tasks You want me to accomplish for You. Give me the strength and courage to take the first step toward what You want me to do. In His Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Shelene Bryan’s new book, Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes, is available now!

You can learn more about the book at LoveSkipJump.com.

Reflect and Respond:

What insecurities are holding you back from taking a step toward the things God is calling you to?

What small steps can you start taking this week?

Power Verse: Psalm 37:23-24, “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (NIV)