Six Things That Encourage

1.  That it’s all about coming to a point where we surrender and praise.  

  • When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped.  Judges 7:15

After many evidences and workings of God, Gideon finally got it.  Something clicked in his heart.  He finally realized at a gut level that God really was with him.  It was something he didn’t see after fire came and consumed his sacrifices, or even after God worked miracles on the fleeces he put out. But something about creeping through the night and being at exactly at the right place, at the right time, and hearing the dream in the enemy camp brought it home to him.  He was ready to fall on his knees, quit worrying about the strength of his opponents, trust and worship God.

God does this in our lives as well.  Through my health challenges lately, I have had to wrestle with it and be able to say, “God, if it is your will that my health fails, or even my mental facilities fail, I will trust you, and praise you.”

The good news is that when we come to this point, God acts.  Just like with Gideon, when we surrender and delight in the Lord, He has us where we need to be, and He will work.

2. That God will open our eyes.

  • Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  Luke 24:45

We need God to help us to understand the scriptures, to be able to see Him better, to have insight into all of the mysteries and truths.   Here are some other scriptures that address this:

  • I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe  Eph 1:18
  • And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  Eph 3:18

It strikes me in an increasing way how much I need this.  I have been praying for God to show my how to love others better.  And it has been working!  I have seen the importance of thanking God for others frequently, and how this helps my heart.  I have seen how interactions with others can nourish my soul.  And much more!

Yesterday we were talking at a workshop on leading about how to pray better, and how difficult it can be to pray sometimes.  One of the comments was that we need to ask God for wisdom on how to be devoted to prayer.  God didn’t make it so we can just figure things out by our own wisdom.  We try and try to serve him, and after awhile, we just hit our head against a wall.  But if we pray for wisdom, God DOES open our eyes, and it is by His power, not our own.

  • If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

3. That God’s kingdom is always increasing!

  • Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.  Is 9:7

Although it often feels like the world is getting more wicked, and chaos is gaining the upper hand, God’s kingdom IS growing more and more all the time.  God’s good and perfect will IS being accomplished.

As I reflect on this, I see it to be true.  I see many people who are not just believing in Jesus, but following him with ALL of their heart.  Most of all, I see the hearts of people expanding through the years to become so much more spiritual, more loving, more peaceful, more awesome!  I was thinking this morning as I regarded my husband that I have truly seen the miracle of God in him.  I have seen him grow from a selfish person (I was too) into a giving, compassionate, joyful, faithful man.  God has made him more and more into what he was created to be.

Here are some other verses on this:

  • I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’ ”  Jer 33:22
  • But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Dan. 2:34
  • “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. Dan. 2:44
  • But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.  II Cor 2:14
  • “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”  Matt 13:33

4.  That people CAN change.

People get stuck.  I get stuck.  (See point #2)  There are people I’ve been studying the Bible who want to follow God, they just can’t seem to change their lives to get it done.  One encouraging thing I learned this weekend is ways to help people to change, and hearing stories of people who have changed.

  1. First, I was reminded that your heart and outlook needs to change for your behavior to change.  Just telling them what to do differently won’t help.  I need to help them change from the inside out.  Their heart need to be softened.  They need to find godly sorrow.
  2. Second, I was reminded that they need God to help the change their heart.  They can’t just try to gut it out by doing the right thing.
  3. Third, I got ideas for things that will help.  Instead of studying the Bible with them, we can get them to study something out for themselves, and their heart will be changed.  Or we can start praying with them, and get others to pray with them.

Now that I think about it, I see so many ways people have changed.  I see Antoinette and Ashley, who got baptized recently, and the miracles that happened to get them to that point.  I see Kristen and Lin, who are still studying, but who have made significant strides that could only have been made with God.  I am excited about going forward.

5. That we need trust, not clarity.

  • Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  Matt 14:28-29

This is an amazing thought for me.  I have been praying so much lately that God would make it clear what I need to be doing with my life.  Should I work part time?  Should I just embrace where I am?  Should I find a charity work that I could be more involved it?  Am I wasting opportunities by just sitting back and waiting for it to be clear what I should do?

Here is the story that Mike Gross told to illustrate this point yesterday in his sermon.  It is about a man who went to Mother Teresa and asked her to pray that he would have clarity.  She told him, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When the man said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

6. That failing allows us to experience the love of Jesus.

  • But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  Matt 14:30-31

I HATE failure.  It is one of my biggest fears.  So although I know that in order to walk on water you have to get out of the boat, my life is a cycle of getting out of the boat, taking a few exciting steps of faith on the water, failing in some way, and struggling with hating that I have failed.

I love that Mike pointed out yesterday that each time we start to sink in the water, each time we feel like we are failing, it is a chance for Jesus to put his arms around us and demonstrate his love for us by saving us.  I am looking forward to putting this principle into practice.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Faith, Hope, Love, Patience, Surrender, Uncategorized

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