Encouragement for Life

Closing the Gap Between You and God

God is near

What happens when you fail to pray? You end up feeling distant from God. And that, in turn, makes you even more reluctant to pray.

No matter how distant you might feel from the Lord, God is always close by. He hasn’t changed, moved, disappeared, or lost interest in you. So close the gap. Take a simple step toward God and talk to Him. The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll become communicating with Him. And the more you pray, the more opportunity you’ll have to ask for His help for yourself and on behalf of others. And the more you ask, the more answers and guidance you’ll receive.

No matter what your situation, God is always ready to listen!

“If God Didn’t Meet It, I Didn’t Need It”

Part of our testimony includes the fact that Jim and I were very well off financially when we became Christians. Well, it wasn’t long before Jim decided he wanted to resign from his job and attend seminary so he could go into the ministry. To do this meant we had to sell our really nice home and our second car-and move our family of four to a 900-square-foot house.

You wouldn’t believe how long the list of “Things This House Didn’t Have” was! And the biggies were a dishwasher and air-conditioning (how’s that for living in the California desert?). All I can say is it was a really good thing I was learning to pray every day.

Well, I took my “Things This House Didn’t Have” list and placed it before God in prayer every single day. I prayed right through the list, ticking off each lack on the list. And the next morning and the next I did the same thing again and again-for years!

That’s when I developed a saying that helped me through each day’s money trials. My job was to pray daily about my perceived needs. God’s job was to meet the “needs” if and when we truly needed them, to meet them in His timing and in His way. Thus my little saying was born: “If God didn’t meet it, I didn’t need it.”

Each day I faithfully laid my needs into God’s lap through prayer, and each day I was able to rise up from prayer and go about my day without another thought about our finances. They were where they needed to be-in God’s hands.

If God didn't meet it, I didn't need it

Focusing on What Really Matters

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said, “The quality of your life will be determined by the depth of your commitment to excellence, no matter what your chosen field.” With this in mind, here are some questions you can ask yourself as you strive to live for Christ:

  • What are the most important commitments in my life?
  • Can I honestly say I’m giving my best to those commitments?
  • How can I do better at carrying out those commitments?
  • What price am I willing to pay to make those commitments happen?

These questions will help you evaluate your priorities before God, and your answers will enable you to determine how to best spend your time and energy on the things that really matter?

Quality of life excellence Vince Lombardi

Waging Spiritual War

In football a “huddle” is used to tell players what the next play will be. Imagine such a huddle of two—a seasoned coach, the apostle Paul, and a young player, timid Timothy. Perhaps with his arm affectionately around young Timothy’s shoulders, the aged Paul tells his protégé exactly how to handle the battles he’s encountering in ministry (1 Timothy 1:18-19):

  1. Be a good soldier. Paul encouraged Timothy—and you—to “wage the good warfare” by…

    maintaining a hold on “faith”
    clinging tightly to your faith
    refusing to give in to temptation
    living out your faith with a clear conscience

  2.  

  3. Be a good sailor. Paul used the picture of a shipwreck to illustrate that you and all believers are to navigate through sin and error by having “a good conscience”- one that is guided by these forces: God’s Word, prayer, and Christian fellowship.

Huddle with God and find out the game plan. Heed His wisdom and instruction. And when you fumble or drop the ball (and you will!), God has given you the way back to His plan: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). Accept God’s forgiveness and grace—and get back into the game!

God forgives our sin

Help Yourself to God’s Power

I Can Do All Things

What is your Number 1 problem today? Is it a challenge you are facing? Something at work you must resolve? An issue with your spouse or a child or someone else? Then help yourself to God’s power as promised in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This one mighty truth can give you the confidence you need for finding the right solution to a problem and carrying it out.

And, as you deal with your problems, make sure you express your gratitude to God in praise. Praise is not an activity that is limited to life’s positive moments-you can also thank and praise God in the hard times. Giving thanks and praise to God, even when life is rough, will help you maintain a right perspective, no matter what happens.

God, please remind me of Your promise of Your power and strength often. When I doubt, help me to believe; when I am afraid, help me to trust in You. This is my confession today: You are my strength. Amen.

Worried…or Satisfied?

Think a minute about the things you worry about. What’s at the top of your worry list for today? Then look at one of God’s guidelines for contentment in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And here’s another great guideline in verses 11 through 13, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Worry or Turn to God

Thank the Lord that contentment is yours when you pray! Then take another look at your list of wants and worries. How will you put the scriptures from Philippians 4 to work the next time you worry?

God does not want you to waste your precious time and energy on worry. Instead, turn to Him! “He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).

Living in the Shadow of Eternity

The end of all things is at hand;
therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:7-8

We’re on our way to eternity, but until then, you and I face all the challenges of being in the world today. So how do we best live in the shadow of eternity? How should the nearness of Jesus Christ’s return affect our daily lives?

Regarding yourself—Purpose to be more alert to eternal perspective. Battle the natural tendency to get wrapped up in this world. Don’t set your affection on the things of this earth, such as possessions, social status, and investment portfolios. Instead, focus your attention and desires on things above: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Meditate on These Things

Regarding others—With the heart of Christ, be aware of your responsibilities to God’s people. Love them with the love God has extended to you. He wants your life and love to be centered on Him and His people, not on the things of this world. God’s call is to love, to lodge, and to look out for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer is our stabilizer, our constant reminder. Pray today for a godly and eternal perspective that will influence your daily life for holy living.

Father, I look to You for Your grace and Your strength. As I live in the shadow of eternity, help me embrace all that today offers that has its roots in You. I want to learn more about You, serve and love others more, and offer my praise to You each day. Amen.

Great Is His Faithfulness

How often do you take time to pause and revel in how faithful God has been to you?

Remembering God’s unceasing care for you reminds you that He will carry you through every situation in life, no matter how bad. It was God’s faithfulness in adversity that led King David to write, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay; and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth-praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3).

Lord, you’ve pulled me out of more than a few “horrible pits” and established my steps. Help me to never forget what You have done, to always praise You, and to eagerly share Your faithfulness with others. Amen.

Great is God's Faithfulness

Identifying Your Purpose

Praise and Pray

Are you wondering about your life’s purpose? Then take some time by yourself as soon as possible! Close the door and spend 60 uninterrupted minutes with God. After praising Him, pray about His goals for your life. Write them down. Seeing them in black and white will motivate you. Then select from your list the three goals that are most significant to you and rank them in order of importance. I guarantee you won’t be the same after this hour with your Lord!

As you go through the next few days, think about your three goals. Jot down ways you can achieve them, including specific steps to take—and take a step…or two! You’ll discover new dimensions to your life and new energy for God’s calling.

Lord, as I commit these minutes to You, please give me Your goals and dreams for my future. What are the good works You’ve prepared for me? Show me, Lord. Please! I’m willing. Amen.

Planning What’s Next

If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.

James 4:15

There are two conditions we should be careful not to violate in our decision making and planning. The first is failing to consider our finiteness as humans. Let’s face it-our knowledge is limited. We have no way of knowing what the future holds for us.

The second is failing to consider the uncertainty of life, which James describes as a mere vapor (James 4:14).

As a woman after God’s own heart who desires to live and grow in wisdom, follow these basic principles:

  • Realize only God knows your future.
  • Realize God has a purpose for your life.
  • Realize God may send interruptions into your “perfect” day.
  • Remember to pray over your plans, asking God for guidance.
  • Remember to say, “If the Lord wills…”
  • Remember to stay flexible and open to what God has in mind.
Make the Most of Everyday

God, You are the only One who knows what tomorrow will bring. Help me plan my day and my week with wisdom. Help me make the most of each day. Guide me and help me remember to be open to any unexpected turns You might bring my way. Amen.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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