Are you Surviving or Thriving?


 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” 2 Peter 3:18

Have you ever received the response, “It is just one of those days,” from a friend after asking them if something is bothering them? Do you ever just have one of those days? I have to be honest and say that I have many of those days. As a wife, mom of three, volunteer teacher, and blogger, there are times in which, by the end of the day, I am spent. I feel as if I have given every ounce of myself to the world and I am empty. I come in from a long day and say, “Thank God, I survived.”

Have you ever responded, “I survived,” when asked how you did in a particular situation?  I can remember times in the past in which our children would have to do a task that seemed very difficult to them. They would come to us when it was complete and we would jokingly ask them, “Did you survive?”

So many times in life we find ourselves in this same place. We simply survive each day.

How many days do you go through just surviving? The end of the day comes and you say to yourself, “Whew, I made it!”

These are the times when I find it most comforting to pour my heart out to God. I know that I can go to Him in prayer and He will give me the rest that I am seeking. As I allow Him to speak to my heart I am reminded that God wants more for my life.

This song that I shared this morning is very special to me. The first time I heard it was at a revival service that was held at our church. I remember how I felt when I heard the words, ” We were made to more than just survive. We were made to thrive” Wow, what a sweet message that was from God! I realized in that moment that I was not thriving as I should. I realized that I was simply surviving every day.

I am in no way saying that we will never get tired and weary. I believe that God understands our human limitations. Jesus himself ,while he was on this earth, had to take time to rest. I do believe, however, that God wants to give us that rest we need. He offers it to us daily. It is up to us to allow Him to meet that need. As we go to God, seeking what we need, we will find that He also gives us the strength not just to survive this world, but to thrive in it.

You see friends, God did not put us on this earth to simply survive every day. He put us here so that we can thrive. God wants to see us succeed. He wants to help us learn, grow, and daily become more like Him. God made us to be ministers for Him. He created us as lights through which His love can shine. We can not do this if we are only surviving.

As a parent, I want nothing more for my children than to see them thrive in life. I do not want to see them struggle and just survive through every day. We are God’s children. I believe that He wants the same thing for each of us.

My prayer today is that we will thrive as Christians. I pray that we will allow God to minister to our hearts and give us the strength that we need. As we allow God to work in our lives, we will find that we have what we need in order to do His will every day.

The question I would like to leave you with today is this: “Are you going to simply survive, or are you going to thrive?”

Dig Into the Meat of God’s Word


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“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14

I have a confession to make. I am a meat and potatoes kind of girl.

Do not get me wrong. I love to eat fruits and vegetables. I love a good grilled chicken salad. I enjoy eating the different things we grow in the garden each year, but you give me a good steak and baked potato and I am one happy girl.

I thought about this as I was reading my Bible yesterday morning. I came across the Scripture that I have shared with you today and the thought came to me: “What are you chewing on spiritually?” My dad will sometimes use this analogy when he is preaching at our church and I have always loved it. It has always painted such a clear picture, in my mind, of how God wants us to be as Christians. Many times in our Christian walks we miss out on the “meat” of God’s word and are content to just drink the milk.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying this morning. There is a time and a place for the milk of God’s word. When we are young Christians it is important that we study God’s word in a way that we can understand it. I believe that it is important to focus on the Scriptures that will help us to get rooted in our faith. But, we should not be content to just stay there.

As infants, we are given only milk and it is enough to sustain us for a while, but as we grow we require more solid food. This is how we mature and grow into healthy adults. Our spiritual lives are no different.

It is wonderful as a young Christian to study the parts of the Bible that will help us develop our beliefs and to strengthen our faith. As we grow as Christians, however, I believe that it is important that we not stop there. We need to begin to delve deeper into God’s word and get down to the “meat” of it. These are the parts of the Bible where God shows us what he wants from us as an individual. These are the Scriptures that God will use to show us how He wants to use us to minister for Him.

I understand that the Scriptures can sometimes be confusing. There are times when I will read a passage and have to go back and read it again and again. Do not get discouraged if you find yourself in this place. God will reveal to you the things He wants you to have as He sees fit for you to have them. This is the amazing thing about the Bible. It never gets old. It does not matter how many times you have read it, there is always something new that God wants to reveal to you as you read His word.

I pray that this has encouraged your heart today. If you are a new Christian I want to encourage you to read your Bible daily. There is so much encouragement and knowledge to be gained from God’s W ord. These Scriptures that you will find will be beneficial to you as you face trials and troubles every day. When Satan throws a snare in your path, when he places a temptation in your way, Scripture will be the most valuable tool you have.

If you are not a new Christian and you find yourself slacking on your Bible reading I want to encourage you as well. Do not let this part of your Christian walk slip. No matter how many times you have read the Bible, keep on. As you seek out God’s wisdom and His will, He will lead you to the things He has for you each day.

Remember: The milk of God’s Word is beneficial to all Christians, but the meat of God’s Word is what will sustain you as you follow Christ, so dig into the “meat” of God’s Word today. You will be surprised what God reveals to you as you search for Him.

Encouraging the Encourager: Reaching One at a Time


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Dear Fellow Encourager,

I want to take a minute to encourage you. I know I have done this before, but I feel that it is time for it again. I understand that as we encourage others we sometimes find ourselves needing encouragement. That is what I want to do for you this morning.

First, I want to thank you for what you are doing. It is not an easy job to encourage others when in your own life you deal with discouragement every day. Thank you for allowing God to use you to encourage those around you. Thank you for letting His light shine through you.

A thought that has been going through my mind since I awoke this morning is that each one of us sets out to reach people every day. The whole idea behind having a blog is to use our words to reach other people. Some of us write to inform; others write to educate. Some of us use our writing as an art form. The one thing we all have in common is that each of us, no matter our topic, is ministering every day. My prayer is that we are using our gift of writing as a ministry for God. Each and every day we are reaching people with our words. We may not even be able to comprehend the number of people who are being ministered to by our words.

A question I want you to keep in mind is this: What message are you sending out across this vast plane we call the internet? Are you encouraging others? Are you spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and the price He paid for our sins? Are you showing others the way to Heaven? God has given you a gift to write. I pray that you are using it to honor Him and bring glory to His name.

As I pondered upon our jobs as writers, something else came to mind: Out of all the many people who read our words, how many hearts do we touch? Have you ever stopped to think about that. There is really no way, outside of “likes” and “comments”, to know how many people are actually getting our message. We simply have to trust that God is using our words to encourage others and minister for Him.

God has promised us that His word will return unto Him void- Isaiah 55:10-11

The encouragement I have for you today is this: Each one can reach one.

As I was reading through the different notifications of Encouragement for Every Day, I ran across something that made me think of this phrase. At the bottom of one my posts, I read that a number of people had been reached, and one “liked” it. I read that comment and God brought the thought to my mind, “You touched a life today.” I want you to stop and think about that with me for a minute. If we are not careful we will get caught up in the numbers game. What I mean by this is that if we are not careful we can get so consumed by the number of people we are reaching that we can lose sight of the real goal, and that is reaching people and ministering to their needs.

It does not matter how many people we reach, if we are not ministering to those people and sharing God’s love with them then we are failing. I want us to remember that it does not matter if we get one “like” or one million “likes”. What is important is that we are spreading God’s word and His message of salvation to others. We have each been given the gift of reaching people. If each one can reach one then we are doing our job. We already know that God has promised to bless if we are doing our part, so we should not worry about whether we are reaching one or one hundred.

There is a song that I love. A lady by the name of Babbie Mason sings it. I want to share it with you today as a little encouragement for the encourager. No matter how many we are reaching, we are spreading God’s word, if we “Each One Reach One.”

Love In Christ,

Valarie

 

Facing Your Giants


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 “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:35

Last night before we went to bed, I read the story of David and Goliath to our little girl. I never get tired of hearing or reading this story. What encouragement we can find in the story of one little boy, five smooth stones, and one mighty God. You can read the story for yourself if you would like. It is found here, in 1Samuel 17.

This morning I want us to think about the giants we face. We all have them. No matter what they are, each one of us faces giants every day. We may not be facing a nine-foot tall giant with a sword, but no matter what your giant is, it can be just as scary if we are not equipped with the right defense.

What kind of giant are you facing in your life? What do you call him? Is your giant named fear? Is his name heartache? Maybe you call him illness. I do not know what the name of your giant is, but I do know that the Bible promises help for any giant we may have to face.

I want to offer you some encouragement today. Just as little David took five smooth stones and defeated a giant, I want to offer you some defense for the giants you face in your life.

Are you are facing the giant named fear? Maybe there are things going on in your life that are uncertain to you. Maybe you are facing problems that no one else knows about and you are afraid. There is someone who wants to fight that giant for you. His name is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) You see, the devil wants to fill us with fear. He knows that he has no real power over us, so he uses our own feelings against us. Fear can be a pretty big giant. The more we focus on him the bigger he gets. I encourage you to let the Prince of Peace fight your giant fear today. The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Do not let fear defeat you. Let the peace that only God can bring flood your heart.

Are you facing the giant named heartache? Has someone or something broken your heart? Maybe a dear friend or family member has passed away. Maybe someone close to your has said something and hurt your feelings. There is someone who will fight the giant heartache for you. His name is the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. We read in Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Let this verse encourage your heart. We are assured that even when we do not know what to say, when we do not even have the words to utter our feelings, the Holy Spirit will go before us and intercede for us. If you are facing the giant heartache, please let the Comforter fight the battle for you. Let the Holy spirit comfort your heart.

Maybe you are facing the giant illness. Do you fear that you will never defeat him? You can not defeat this giant on your own, but the Bible does offer some help. Many times in the Bible we are told about Jesus healing people. Many times we refer to Jesus as The Great Physician. All throughout the New Testament we find stories of Jesus healing the lame, the blind, even raising people from the dead. We read in James 5:14: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” I can not promise you that Jesus will take away every sickness that you have. We read in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He says: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We are not always promised healing. We can rest assured, however, that God’s grace will be sufficient if we will only trust in Him, The Great Physician. If you are facing illnesses in your life, find comfort. Whether you are healed as so many were in the Bible, or whether you must endure your thorn in the flesh as did Paul, you can find comfort in knowing that Jesus has a plan for your life. We must simply trust that the God of the universe knows what is best for us.

I do not know what giant you are facing today, yet I can promise you that you do not have to fight him alone. Just as David found the courage to fight the giant, Goliath, you can have the same courage to fight the giant in your life. No matter what you are facing, God is right there beside you, holding your hand, if you will only have faith and trust in Him.

Are You Giving Your All?


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“And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

Mark 12:43-44

 I love the picture that is painted for us with the Scripture that we are looking at today.

Jesus and His disciples are at the temple. It is busy with people coming and going here and there.

In verse 41 we find Jesus sitting, watching people toss money into the treasury that was set up in the Temple. As He watches person after person toss their money into the box, one in particular catches His attention.

Was it the best dressed?

Was it the richest?

Was it the nicest looking?

No, we read in verse 42 that it was a poor widow.

Out of all the people who came and went, tossing money into the treasury, this one poor widow caught the eye of Jesus. Why? We read in today’s scripture exactly why.

The other people who came and gave were rich, and apparently well off. I get the picture in my mind of well dressed, wealthy people coming by, taking a little change out of their pocket, and tossing it in the box. In my mind, I see them smiling, feeling proud of themselves for what they have given, yet never really thinking about what they are doing, never really giving from their hearts.

On the other hand, I picture the poor widow coming in, probably in tattered clothes, holding her two mites tight in her hand. Humbly, and quietly she tosses her money in the box and goes on about her business.

So what is the difference here? Jesus immediately sees the difference.

You see, we have to remember that Jesus looks beyond our outward appearance and sees our heart. Jesus, as he watched the people give, noticed that the rich people were giving much. This, however, did not catch his attention near as much as the poor widow who gave just a little. He knew that she had given from her heart, that she gave all that she had.

Jesus wants us to be like this.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Are you telling me that I can not be rich and well dressed?”

No, that is not what I am saying.

The point I am making this morning is this: God does not care what your clothes look like. He does not care if you have the finest things, the nicest car, the biggest house, or the most friends. God sees your heart. He sees the things that are hidden from other people.

When we give, whether it be millions, or just a few dollars, God wants us to give from our hearts, He wants us to give all we have to Him, and He wants us to trust Him to take care of our needs.

My dad made a statement in church one day as he preached and it has stuck with me. He said, “God does not want your ability, He wants your availability.” God does not want us to give just what we think we can afford. God wants us to give our all to Him, and then trust Him with what we do not have.

I pray today that we will remember this story of the widow and the two mites, how she gave all she had to God, and how she gave  humbly, and with a thankful, trusting heart.

I want to encourage you today. Give everything you have to God. Give with a humble, thankful heart. When you do this, He can then take what you have given, even if just a small amount, and use it for His honor and His glory.

Remember: “God does not want your ability, He wants your availability.”