Encouragement Archives

God’s Timing Is Always Perfect

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him. We must remember that God’s timing is perfect.

Psalms 18:30 tells us As for God, his way is perfect. From the time we are born until the moment we die, God is accomplishing His divine purposes on this earth.

Waiting on God’s perfect timing is not always easy. Human nature makes waiting for God’s timing a difficult thing to do. Because we live in a microwave society, even Christians find it difficult to wait for anything or anyone…they want what they want…and they want it right now. Psalm 37:7a Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

When we wait on the Lord, it reveals our trust in the Lord and His timing. As mature Christians, we understand that God operates according to His perfect and foreordained schedule, not ours. Our heavenly Father knows exactly where we are in our lives at every moment. Remember, everything that happens in our lives is for our good and for His glory. God often uses our trials to strengthen our patience. It is our patience which allows our Christian faith to mature and become complete.

God has a plan for each one of us as His children, and He wants what’s best for us. He always answers our prayers in three ways…No…Yes…and…Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before He gives us the desires of our hearts. Even though it is in our nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength, the following story is a great illustration about waiting:

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life God was with him. He was with him in the pit…He was with him in the prison, and He was with him in Potipher’s palace. God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther…God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what’s best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing. When we wait on the Lord, we will see miraculous things happen. Why? Because it’s God’s timing and not ours.

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God’s Love Letter to You

My Child, You may not know me very well, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in My image. Genesis 1:27
In Me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
It is my desire to pour out my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
Delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love My Son, Jesus. John 17:23
My Son’s death was the ultimate expression of My love for you. 1 John 4:10
I will love you forever. Romans 8:38-39
Your Father, Almighty God

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Family Tradition SHMILY

SHMILY
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding w/ blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards, and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.

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Am I Really Hearing God’s Voice?

Have you ever wondered, “How do I really know if I am hearing God’s voice?

Habakkuk knew God was speaking to him (Hab. 2:2).

Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).

There have been days that I have been working around the house, and then suddenly a thought will come to me to pray for a certain person. I firmly believe that thought was the Holy Spirit telling me to pray for that person.

When I was attending Bible College, I had a dear friend who had been a missionary in the Congo. She related a story about a terrible time in her ministry. Here is story as she related it to me:

The rebels were outside our house. We had to hide under the bed to avoid bullets flying through the walls. When we heard the rebels stomping up the front steps, we ran out the back way and climbed over a fence to escape. Some months later, when my husband and I returned to the states, we related the incident to our pastor. As we talked with our pastor, we coincided the time…the pastor then told us that it was during that same time period, he stopped preaching in the middle of his sermon and told everyone to get on their knees. The pastor said he couldn’t explain why…but he instructed the congregation that they must pray for us.

Did God speak audibly to that pastor…no, but it was a sudden urging from the Holy Spirit that told that pastor to pray for those missionaries because they were in trouble.

When God lays people on our hearts, we must become still so that we can sense the Holy Spirit’s flow of thoughts in our spirits.

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Habakkuk knew that to hear God’s quiet voice, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions.

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still, and know that He is God. The average Christian’s life is so busy that he isn’t can focus his spirit on hearing God’s voice.

It’s in stillness, not busyness, that we can tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. Although the Lord always speaks to us in that “STILL, small voice”, there are many times His voice is drowned out by all the noise around us.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore, if we want to hear the voice of God, we must study and know the teachings of Jesus.

John describes Jesus in 1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

If we are going to hear the voice of God, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus.

In an ordinary conversation, we speak, then listen for the response of the other person. It’s the same with God! Once we’ve prepared our hearts to listen through prayer, we’re more likely to hear the voice of God when He speaks to us through His Word.

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Are You Content Today?

For many people it is hard to be content with where God has placed them or what God has given them. They can’t be content with their jobs, their churches, their spouses, their positions, or their possessions. It seems like no matter what they have, they want more things and better circumstances.

Have you ever wondered how Paul could be content with his terrible circumstances. He had been beaten, imprisoned, and physically afflicted…yet he wrote in Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Paul’s Sufferings Listed in 2 Corinthians 11:21-30

2 Corinthians 11:21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak.

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

2 Corinthians 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

2 Corinthians 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

2 Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

2 Corinthians 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

2 Corinthians 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

Paul learned to be content whether he was rich…whether he was poor…whether he was healthy…whether he was in prison or out of prison. No doubt Paul had his ups and downs throughout his life, but he stressed to us through his writings that we shouldn’t allow things or circumstances to control us. He discovered that his contentment wasn’t in people, things, or circumstances but in Christ.

Are you are struggling with being discontent today? Do you find yourself complaining about your house, your church, your job, or your spouse?

We’ve all been guilty of saying, “If only I had a better car, a more understanding mate, a better house, more money.” The list could go on indefinitely. If you find yourself being discontent today, turn your eyes back to Jesus and focus on His faithfulness and His promises.

Read the following poem. What great insight this 14 year old young man had when he wrote this poem.

    I Never Got What I Wanted

    It was spring, But it was summer I wanted,
    The warm days, And the great outdoors.
    It was summer, But it was fall I wanted,
    The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.
    It was fall, But it was winter I wanted,
    The beautiful snow, And the joy of the holiday season.
    It was winter, But it was spring I wanted,
    The warmth, And the blossoming of nature.
    I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,
    The freedom, And the respect.
    I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,
    To be mature, And sophisticated.
    I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,
    The youth, And the free spirit.
    I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,
    The presence of mind, Without limitations.
    My life was over.
    But I never got what I wanted.

    Written by Jason Lehman Read the rest of this entry

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Are You Feeling Unproductive?

Is your self-talk telling you that you are just not being productive? Over the course of our years, our energy levels change. Sometimes it is because of our age, our sleep patterns, our caffeine intake, our health, our diet, or our comparisons. (we look at others as being more productive than we are)

There will always be periods in our lives when we might not feel productive as we once did. If you begin having thoughts of being unproductive, here are few suggestions:

• Get eight hours of sleep
• Try to exercise
• Eat a healthy breakfast
• Overwhelmed…eliminate or delegate some activities
• Look at your time wasting activities: TV, your cell phone, trivial triggers…
• Avoid your self-talk, “I’m no good…nobody thinks I’m not valuable…Nothing I do is right” Studies have shown that upwards of 80% of your self-talk is negative. That number goes up as you put pressure on yourself to get more done.
• Lessen you workload
• Set time limits on your projects
• Change your scenery. If you have a flexible schedule, go to a coffee shop or work from home.
• Disconnect from the Internet…according to research, half of time spent on Internet is procrastinating
• Reward yourself after a period of time working….a cup of coffee, 15 minutes on Facebook
• Don’t distain unproductivity…“not feeling productive” is a great sign that you should step back from your work to recharge and be unproductive for a while. A break will help you recharge and reduce your negative self-talk.

Taking a break from being productive every once in a while will help you become much more productive.

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Is This Really God’s Will for My Life?

Knowing and Doing God’s Will

There are many misunderstandings about knowing and doing God’s will. Many people leave churches and make major moves to other cities without really knowing if it’s God’s will.

God’s will might take me where I don’t want to go. Some people think, “If I surrender to God’s will, I might have to go to Africa and be a missionary. God doesn’t want to make your life miserable…He wants your heart. Just like Abraham’s willingness to offer his son. God made an escape for Abraham because He saw Abraham’s heart. Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

God makes His will only clear to certain people. God has a will for every Christian… whether you’re a missionary or a secretary — a pastor or a plumber. God has a will for everyone. Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

It must be God’s will if other Christians agree or disagree with me. Just because other Christians agree with you on something, does not necessarily mean that God is leading. It can be misleading to seek God’s approval for man’s choices or decisions. Think of the church voting on Matthias to replace Judas. We never hear another word about Matthias. God had a plan to replace Judas with Paul. Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

It must be God’s will for me to move because I would be more suitable and more useful in this new situation. When the Lord called Moses, he insisted he wouldn’t be suited for the job because he had no speaking ability. Some Christians can be useful no matter where God puts them. He doesn’t necessarily put us where we will be the most useful, He puts us in a place where we can best glorify Him. Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

It must be God’s will for me to move so that I can be more successful and have a greater chance for advancement. Think about it…the Lord called Ezekiel to do a special job. He told him that his efforts would be in vain and that he would look like a failure. God’s will may require you to make financial and personal sacrifices to accomplish His will. Remember God focuses His will on His purpose.

If I were in God’s will, people would love me and appreciate me. When you’re in God’s will, people’s love, hate or indifference has nothing to do with your going or staying. Luke 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

God’s will is taking me to a place where there is a greater need. God’s leading has nothing to do with a supposed need. God told Philip to leave the crowds of Samaria and go minister to one individual on an isolated road between Jerusalem and Gaza.

How Can I Know if God Is Leading?

God’s will may not always be clear from start to finish. Usually it’s one step at a time. Maybe that is the reason God tells us to walk by faith and not by sight.

God’s will may require you to replace another Christian who gets out of His will. We do not go looking for God’s will; it comes looking for us. We do not find God’s will; we find ourselves in it; it’s a way of life; it’s being consistently led by the Spirit. Hudson Taylor said, “Our best decisions are when they are left up to God.”

Paul encouraged the Christians at Galatia to walk in the Spirit. There is a big difference between self-leading, Satan leading, and God’s leading.

(1) Self- leading: If you’re leading yourself, you decide by your emotions. Your urges are not consistent, and they fluctuate. One day, you think it’s God’s will…the next day it’s not God’s will.

(2) Satan’s leading: If Satan is leading, he will always make you think it’s urgent. No time to think. No time to pray. It’s now or never. If you delay, it will be too late.

(3) God’s leading: When the Lord is leading, He will give you time. It’s not urgent, but the impression is there… it never goes away. The Lord is patient. He gives you space. There’s time to think, talk, and even disagree with it. He hopes you will go along with His will, but you have the choice to say no. God’s leading is not complicated or confusing. He doesn’t want to make it difficult for you. He always has your best interests in mind.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

We must trust the Lord wholeheartedly and not depend on our own intellect or emotions!

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It Depends on How You Look at Your Circumstances

A man pulled into a gas station on the outskirts of town. As he filled his tank, he remarked to the attendant, “I’ve just accepted a job in town. I’ve never been in this part of the country. What are the people like?”

“What are the people like where you came from?” the attendant asked.

“Not so nice…in fact, they can be quite rude,” the man replied.
The attendant shook his head. “Well, I’m afraid you’ll find the people in this town the same way.”

Just then another car pulled into the station. “Excuse me,” the driver called out. “I’m just moving to this area. Is it nice here?”
“Was it nice where you came from?” the attendant inquired.

“Oh, yes! I came from a great place. The people were friendly, and I hated to leave.”

“Well, you’ll find the same to be true of this town.”

“Thanks!” yelled the driver as he pulled away.

“So what is this town really like?” asked the first man, now irritated with the attendant’s conflicting reports.

The attendant just shrugged his shoulders. “It’s all a matter of perception. You’ll find things to be just the way you think they are.”

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Sunday School Teacher’s Ideas

I was looking through my files this week and came across some great notes I took when I was in college. Hope these notes help you.

1. Provoke your student’s interest
• Use a variety of methods in teaching
• Use the cleverest way possible to present lessons.
• Use drama to make story effective (Jesus girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples)
• Don’t read from manual or book
• Make your material exciting
• Use object lessons (Jesus did) He showed Himself as the Bread of Life, As the Good Shepherd…

2. Get ideas by exploring books
• Visual Aid Encyclopedia, Eleanor Done, Regal Books
• Roy Garn, The Magical Power of Emotional Appeal
• Ethel Barret, Storytelling Made Easy
• Marie Chapman, Yelling for Help
• Herman Hornell, Kregal; Teaching Techniques of Jesus
• Howard Hendricks, The Seven Laws of Teaching
• Cheryl Fawcett, Understanding People: Ministry To All Stages of Life

3. Don’t use the same method all the time…”Variety is Spice of Life”. Use things that:
• Create an interest and a desire to know.
• Create a need for the Bible to have real value for their lives.
• Teach them how they can forgive others when they have offended them.
• Teach them how their tongues can keep them from getting me into trouble and how to get victory in their lives.
• Develop within them a curiosity about their souls, their purpose of life, and their lives beyond death.
• Teach them how to praise and encourage others.
• Teach them the dangers of being critical of others.

4. Teacher must realize how important their teaching techniques and personalities are. (Example: Jerry was a student who had not really been interested in Sunday school until promotion day…he got a new teacher who showed a real interest in him and the class. Because of this new teacher, the student began getting excited about the Lord, His Word, and his service for the Lord.)

• Rewards are important…Jesus offered heaven…Paul pressed on toward the prize.
• Don’t use the same old method year after year. (We remember 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see, 70% of what we say, and 90% of what we do).
• Send “Take home papers” with the students.
• Ask thought provoking questions.
• Tell part of the details of the story without telling the characters in the story.
• Use a recorded version, complete with sound effects.
• Sometimes taste can be introduced like a food in the story (pomegranates, figs).
• Continued story (call on one student to continue, then he calls on another).
• Nose; fragrance of God’s flowers; distinguish them from artificial ones.

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2018 Goals for Sunday School Teachers

2018 is a new year. As teachers, it’s important to shepherd the students you have in your classes. Let’s do our very best this year to keep in contact with visitors and those who attend every week.

Here are a few suggestions to help you shepherd your students.

1. Send them birthday, friendship, and encouragement cards.

2. Visit their school programs.

3. Take their pictures and post them in classroom.

4. Take them on visitation with you.

5. Have a birthday party once a month and celebrate the ones who have a birthday that month. Parties can be at church, at home, or at pizza parlor.

6. Help students MEMORIZE Scriptures. Reward them for their achievements and announce their achievements in services.

8. Call them each week just to keep in touch with them.

9. Ask them to help straighten up your class area before and/or after class; reward them for their efforts.

10. Remember Time = LOVE.

11. Take one at a time to McDonalds to get to know about him and his interests.

12. Let the achievers decorate your class room as a reward/incentive.

Sunday School teachers have the opportunity to be the GREATEST INFLUENCE in a child’s life outside of their own parents. Remember you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

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