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Unlikely Encouragement

December 2012
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You Are A MasterpieceOkay folks, our word for today is (drum roll, please) “encouragement.” And who doesn’t like encouragement???!!! To encourage according to Dictionary.com means:

~to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence
~to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.
~to promote, advance or foster

Synonyms include: embolden, hearten, reassure, urge; support, aid, help. Antonyms include: discourage, dishearten (source: Dictionary.com).

Personally, I’ve had enough of the antonyms!!! Three years and eight months of unemployment with no solid job offer is about as much discouragement as I can take. I’m sure you have your own list that causes you discouragement, too. It’s part of the human condition. And nobody escapes discouragement.

For those of us who are Christian, the Bible is the greatest source (next to prayer) for encouragement. Most of us immediately turn to the Psalms as our first choice to find encouragement. We seek the solace found in the enormous “ups” and “downs” of life found in the words of King David and others. Who among us can’t relate to these words:

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
My Savior and my God.
~Psalm 42:5-6, 11; 43:5

The Message Bible states it like this: “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Indeed, our hope is in God through Jesus Christ and Him alone, not in our circumstances. When we take our eyes off of Him and only look to our own resources and our own circumstances (which can be daunting, no doubt about it), we head down into the murky waters just like Peter did until he remembered to cry out to Jesus to help him (see Matt. 14:22-33 for the story).

If you are in need of encouragement today (and who isn’t), here is the devotion I read this morning, December 6, 2012, from Our Daily Bread titled, Unlikely Encouragement.”

Unlikely Encouragement 

Psalm 19:7-11

Are you looking for encouragement? Do you need a little boost today amid all the bad news coming your way? The psalmist David can lift your spirit in an unexpected way through some words we often think of as negative.

When we read Psalm 19, we discover a short listing of ways that the Lord’s clearly defined “law,” or standards for living, can bring positive results. This is unlikely encouragement, for some see God’s standards as restrictive and as robbing us of happiness.

Here are some words the psalmist used for God’s standards: “law of the Lord” (v. 7), “testimony” (v. 7), “statutes” (v. 8), “commandments” (v. 8), “fear of the Lord” (v. 9), and “judgments” (v. 9). These words have an ominous sound that causes many people to want to avoid or reject them.

But notice what these things bring to the believing, obedient heart: conversion of the soul, wisdom, rejoicing of the heart, purity of life, enlightenment of the eyes, endurance, truth, and righteousness (vv. 7-9). That’s great encouragement! No wonder David said about God’s law that He’s given to us, “More to be desired are they than gold . . . sweeter also than honey” (v. 10). ~Dave Branon

Lord, we love You and Your Word. We delight in
reading it, learning about You, and following what
You teach us. Thank You for all the blessings that come
from our relationship with You. Amen.

*Obedience to God’s Word is the Christian’s greatest freedom.*

While discouragement comes to all of us and sometimes it seems as if it’s taken up permanent residence when the source of our discouragement is unrelenting (such as almost four years of looking for work), we need to remember while seeking encouragement from the greatest source there is–God through Jesus Christ–that we need to check our lives and how we are living, acting, and thinking on a daily basis to make sure we have not given our adversary a foothold in our lives. As I Peter 5:8-11 states, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

With that in mind, I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 19 for you to consider:

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

So be encouraged, my friends
God is still on His Throne
And everything is under His control!

Yes . . . EVERYTHING!

YouTube Video: “The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow” sung by Cissy Houston:

Photo credit here

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