Encouragement Archives

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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Why People Don’t Give to Missions?

Ladies, I will speaking at a Faith Promise Conference next week. Here’s a devotion I have prepared. I hope it is a blessing for you, and you might be able to use it in your church.

Fifty two years ago my husband and I began tithing. We learned that tithing meant giving the first ten percent of our gross resources back to God. We understood that according to the Bible, our first fruits, the tithe (ten percent), was the amount that we gave directly to the Lord to acknowledge His ownership and stewardship over our lives.

Through the years, as we listened to pastors and teachers teach principles of good stewardship, we began to understand that everything we own belongs to God, and we are to be faithful stewards of everything He gives us.

A few years after we were saved, we attended our first Faith Promise Conference. As baby Christians, we made our first Faith Promise commitment of $5.00 a week. We understood that our Faith Promise Offering was not part of our tithe, but this was to be an amount above our tithes. Every year since that first conference, we have increased our Faith Promise commitments. Several years ago, we struggled with the amount that we should be giving to missions. We both prayed about it, and the Lord gave us peace about giving a designated amount for each year that we have been saved.

Many Christians fail to see God miraculously provide for them because they have never been taught the spiritual disciplines of living by faith and being good stewards of all their resources.

Today one of the great sins of American Christians is consumerism. While others around the world are dying without Christ, Americans are buying things they want, but they do not need. People will cut corners in order to get the best house, the biggest toy or the fullest bank account. Christians who joyfully tithe and give sacrificial offerings are very rare today.

Isaiah had some convicting things for me to hear. Although the following scripture is directed specifically at the women of Israel, it can also apply to us today.

Isaiah 3:16-26 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

These women were more concerned about their…earrings, bracelets, veils, tiaras, head dresses, anklets, sashes, shawls, perfume bottles, charms, signet rings, nose rings, fine robes, capes, cloaks, purses, mirrors, and linen garments…than about their God.

God told them, “Because you are concerned about these things, I will send diseases as punishment for your pride and lewdness”.

Could He be telling us, “I am sending poverty and distress to you because you care more about your clothes, your shoes, your purses, and your jewelry than you care about Me?”

There are many reasons that people don’t give to missions today. If you look at statistics, people spend more money on fast food, tobacco products, candy, pets, toys, games, entertainment, cable bills, movies, movie rental, and cell phones than they do giving to missions.

What are some of the reasons Christian fail to give to Missions?

1. They don’t realize how important it is to their faithfulness in Christian walk.
2. They don’t realize that it’s a blessing to give and delivers them from selfishness.
3. They don’t realize how essential it is to their happiness and holiness.
4. They believe that all they have belongs to themselves. They earned it. They worked hard, studied hard in school and applied themselves in order to prosper. What they fail to realize is that God gave them the power to make wealth, the brains to learn, the training and motivation to work hard. (Duet 8:17-18)
5. They have a lack of faith and think they can’t afford to give.
6. They really don’t love the Lord! You can tell how much someone is loved by how much someone else is willing to spend on them.

Of course, we should never give out of guilt, but we should give by grace. Giving hearts start when we comprehend how much Jesus loved us. He traded heaven and its glorious perfection for this earth, confined to a human body to experience a painful crucifixion. Only when we fully understand this fact will our hearts be changed into giving hearts. Truly grace will motivate our giving.

When the Macedonians Christians heard about a need, their thinking was so saturated with the thought of Christ becoming poor for them that they desperately pleaded for the privilege to give.

God has implanted in every believer a desire to give. Some respond and some don’t. Some are afraid to give because they are afraid they won’t have enough…afraid they will have to give up something that they enjoy.

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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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Are We Living Intentionally?

Whether we are old or young, we all have to deal with our own character defects. It might be our bitterness, our selfishness, or our pride. When we were young, we tried to cover up those character defects with our makeup and clothes, our natural abilities, or our personalities. As we get older, those outward things fade away. If we have not sanctified those defects in our younger years, those defects will become more pronounced and visible during our senior years.

There are days when I see my own short comings, temptations, and struggles and wonder to myself…will I make it to the end of my life more sanctified than when I started?

I look around and see other pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who gave up living the Christian life. Because of selfishness, greed, and thoughts, “I deserve better than this.” They start searching outside their marriages, families, and ministries for easier and more prosperous lives…ultimately these women lose their ministries and testimonies.

Although I have my own temptations and struggles, what a joy it is to watch older pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who have stayed faithful into their senior years. Listening to their testimonies and seeing them stay faithful to the Lord all the way to the end is such an encouragement to me.

Ladies, if we don’t live intentionally, our days become weeks, our weeks become months, our months become years, and our years become decades…then before you know it…our lives are over.

We have all watched Christian women, who over the course of their lives, fail to get more spiritual. They become more narrow, more bitter, more selfish, more whiny, more fearful, and more petty. But Praise the Lord, I’ve seen other women, who over the course of their lives, become more mature, more godly, more gracious, more dependent on the Lord and His blessing on their lives.

This morning, let’s determine to live our lives intentionally. Let’s set our eyes on Christ and press on to become more like Him.

Our prayer today should be…“Lord, by Your grace, help us to be more godly and gracious as the years go by. Help us to be the kind of women that encourage others as we grow older. We don’t want to just drift through our Christian lives. Help us live intentional about the way to the end for You. Although there are days in all of of our lives when we have things to do; places to go; people to check on, lessons to prepare, work to do, cards to send, emails and texts to answer… help us live the remainder of our years intentionally for You. Help us to become more gracious and kind to everyone all the way to the end.”

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Making Our Time and Talents Count

 Until the Lord returns, each day holds within it exciting unique opportunities for us to serve the Lord! Let me encourage you to begin each day with prayer! Take time every day to spend some time alone with God, read your Bible and pray about the activities before you.  Give God the opportunity to guide your thoughts and your actions, to align them with His Divine purposes.  When we consecrate our time and talents to the Lord, He is able to show us how to redeem the time.

Colossians 4:5: . . . walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Ephesians 5:16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Art Demoss, the insurance executive, was a great soul-winner. When he died, hundreds of people attended his funeral. During that service, the pastor asked the audience, “If you have come to know the Lord as your Savior as a result of Art Demoss, would you please stand.” Over 500 people stood up that day at his funeral. What a testimony to a man who used his time and talents for the Lord.

Think about this! If we invest 30 minutes a day each month in the Lord’s work, we are investing 15 hours a month. If we take 15 hours times the number of years we have left to live—there is no telling what we can accomplish for the Lord!

Whatever our position may be…whether we are a homemaker, a musician, a teacher, a speaker, or a cook, God has entrusted each of us with special gifts and talents. When we commit our hearts to serve him, He is able to use our personalities, interests, and life experiences to transform us into His image. His purpose for our lives is for us to use our gifts and talents to accomplish His will while we are on this earth.

On days when you are unsure of what you should be doing…stop and pray. Allow the Lord to guide you ‘step by step’ ‘minute by minute’ throughout your day.  I guarantee you, by the end of the day as you reflect and give thanks, it will amaze you what the Lord was able to accomplish through you by being obedient to His leading.

God did not give us time and talent to just serve ourselves.  He tells us in Revelation 4:11 that He created us to bring glory to Him. He guides us and gives us discernment to know what His perfect will is for us.  For some of you, the Lord may be guiding you to learn a new language so that you can communicate your faith with more people. For others, He may be guiding you to learn new ways of organizing your lives so that you will have more time to minister.

Remember Satan is our ever-present enemy, and he wants us to get our eyes off the Lord. God’s desire for our lives is for us to grow into a deeper relationship with Him and to have a greater understanding of His ways.  It is only when we begin to understand this principle, that we will begin to experience true fulfillment, joy, and peace.

Let me encourage you to:

  • Not be weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not!’
  • Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you opportunities to bless and encourage others with your gifts and talents.
  • Be assured that a day is coming when you will rejoice and be glad for those times that you sacrificed your will for His.
  • Join me in redeeming the time before our Lord returns.
  • Proclaim as Jesus did: “nevertheless, not my will, but Thy will be done!”

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

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Calvary Love by Amy Carmichael

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; If I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I find myself taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; If I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; If I say, “Just what I expected” If a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; If I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace; If I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, If my thoughts revolve round myself, If I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self-crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); If I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, If I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that If they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; If I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; If I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; If I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or If it does, is never given room there; If the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; If my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, If I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; If I think in terms of my own special work; If the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; If I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; If my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

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Do You Have a Vision Statement for Your Life?

In order to reach your full potential, you must have a vision for your life, for your family, and for your ministry.

Three things to consider about having a vision

  1. Vision is looking at things through God’s prospective. You must use the Bible as your lens to view all the circumstances of your life.

Esther saw the great need put before her…her response”If I perish, I perish.”

Luke 1:37… with God nothing shall be impossible

  1. Modern-day Christians tend to be think inward. They think about their trials, their battles, their responsibilities.

First century Christians dealt with their own frailties while seeking the welfare of others.

       3. Nothing worthwhile happens by accident.

Your vision statement might be as simple as “I want to  love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbour as myself,” or  it could be, ‘I want to honor Christ in all that I say and do…no matter the cost.'”

Once you decide on your vision statement, be sure to remember it as you are interact with the lost, your spouse, other family members, your friends, your pastor, and other church members.

Get a vision! Get a plan! Act upon it! With God’s help, you can reach your fullest potential. 

Where there is no vision, the people perish…Proverbs 29:18

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Do You Struggle with Being a People-Pleaser?

If you are  a people-pleaser, you might need to redirect your focus to become more concerned with what pleases God than with what pleases others.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

 Remember If I WANT to Keep My Focus on Pleasing God

  • Seek to know His will in each situation of your life.
  • Don’t think that you have to do everything you are asked to do…even in the church!
  • Remember when your heart’s desire is to please God, you will be able to put others’ needs and desires in a healthy perspective.
  • Learn to budget your time by prioritizing your life and determining how much time you will allot for specific people and activities.

                           Priortize by Order of Importance

Your relationship with God
Your family (marriage, children, parents)
Your employment (If you work outside the home)
Your  personal time (time alone with God, time alone with self)
Your church

God should always be number one in your priority list. The problem is that if you’re a people-pleaser, you think that being “a good Christian” means that you must please everyone. You tend to believe that you are putting God first when you say yes to every good cause, especially if it is a church-related.

How do I figure out how to budget my time commitments?

1. Recognize that God wants our families to be number one under Him. When we get over-committed to the point that it robs us of our time that we should be giving our families, it is time to say no.

2. Make sure that we budget some time for ourselves. Jesus was a person who had a vision, a purpose, and a consuming passion, yet when He needed time for Himself, He took it?

Luke 4:42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.

The Lord had been up all night healing the sick and casting out demons and was exhausted. Instead of expecting His Father to give Him supernatural strength to continue, He recognized His need for rest and rejuvenation.

In order to nurture our relationships with our heavenly Father, we must budget a quiet time with Him every day. Unless we feed on His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to energize us for the work He has called us to do, we won’t be able to recognize the opportunities He sets before us. It is during our quiet times that the Holy Spirit can help us put things into perspective and guide us into making wise decisions concerning the demands others put on our time.

When God reigns at the top of our list of priorities, we can trust Him to show us where to place other people, ourselves, and all our other involvements. When our relationship with God is right, our relationships with others will fall into place.

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I was watching Fox news and I wondered, “Why do all those women wear dresses?” What I discovered is that by wearing dresses, it is like a death blow to the left and the feminist movement.

Hadley Freeman, of The Guardian, wrote about the news women on Fox News, “The uniformity of this style suggests a political statement which, indeed, it is. Theirs is a look that defiantly embraces the most conservative notions of femininity and firmly rejects any idea of modernity, let alone feminism.”

Wow! They want their women to dress so that they look feminine. I must agree their dresses are short and form fitting…but the network wants the world to know that there is a difference in dress between the right and left.

Years ago when Gloria Steinem, the feminist activist, voiced her opinion…women are just as important as men…be the woman who wears the pants in your family. She was basically saying, “You don’t have to be submissive to any man in your life.”  What she implied was a typical slam against wearing feminine clothing and looking feminine. Think about the left…look at Hillary….she is never seen wearing a dress. She always wears a pantsuit…no matter what interview or what audience she speaks.

God gives us a simple and clear advice about how we as Christian women should dress. I Timothy 2:9: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” The word “modest” is defined in Collin’s English Dictionary:

Having or expressing a humble opinion of oneself or one’s accomplishments or abilities; not pretentious;  not extreme or excessive, moderate

I believe that a woman’s clothing should be suitable for different situations. For example, we should want to wear a respectable swimsuit for the pool or beach, to wear jeans to work in the garden, and to wear a proper outfit to church, to weddings, or to funerals.

The Bible’s greatest prophecies are being fulfilled.  God instructed the nation of ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 22:5 as follows: “The woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD your God.” Clearly, God is referring to a woman dressing to look like a man or a man dressing to look like a woman.  My how things have changed since that was Scripture was written…a section of our society wants to break down all distinctions between male and female. (masculine and feminine)  Lawmakers are in the process of making laws to make women’s bathrooms neutral.  In some states, men are already allowed to use the same  bathrooms as the women.

As Christian women, we must learn to find a balance between today’s style and tradition…between looking masculine and looking feminine. Whatever we wear, we must wear clothes that reflect Christ’s light into this lost and dying world. We should want to present a good testimony and show others that we have a heart that wants to please the Lord.

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