Encouragement for Life

God Has a Plan for You

God has a plan

When something terrible happens in your life, are you ever tempted to ask, “What good could come out of this?” It looks like a disaster. It feels like a disaster. Therefore, we quickly conclude, it is a disaster!”

Comfort in the Chaos

Corrie ten Boom, a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and a woman who desperately needed hope every minute of every day, made this statement: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” We often need this reminder … as did the Israelites when they were taken captive for 70 years.

To them, it may have appeared that God was finished with them. After all, He had allowed their country to be destroyed and them to be sent into exile. This must have looked like a disaster! What good, they may have wondered, could come out of this?

God Won’t Forget You

But God did not forget His people who were suffering in Babylon. And, my friend, He won’t forget you! God had a beautiful plan to turn His people into a beautiful new people with a beautiful new purpose. He is the author of history—including your history. You are part of His grand plan—‘“I know the plan that I have for you,’ declare the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11). And because He knows the future, and has designed your personal agenda, and is present with you, you can have boundless hope.

Put God’s Powerful Promise to Work

  • Recall … God’s promises of hope when you are discouraged.
  • Review … God’s words of hope.
  • Resist … the temptation to give into hopelessness.
  • Rely … on the God of hope and trust Him.
  • Rejoice … and thank God that you are the recipient of His hope.

And lastly, remember that no matter how bad things become, God has a good plan and He will be with you in every hour you’re in need.

RESPOND

Dear Lord, thank You that I can grab hold of Your hope, and use it to fight against defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Windows into the Word of God is a beautiful devotional (under $10) that will help you see God’s promises unfold in your daily life, discover God’s purpose for you, and rest in His Word for strength.

REFLECT
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I’ll recount God’s goodness in my life and the lives of those I love by making a list of His faithfulness.

REMEMBER

Ignoring Instagram – Teen Tuesday

Ignoring Phone

The mind is an amazing thing. It can carry on thousands of functions at the same time. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s not so good. For instance, when you check your phone while your parent is talking to you … that’s bad! There you are, right in front of them, and yet you’re thinking about something totally different.

Checking Out

What’s even more amazing than the mind’s capacity to wander is that your mom can tell when you’re not listening. How do they do that?! We think we’re clever. We nod at what we think is the right moment … yet they still catch us checking our phone.

Staying Focused 

Why is it so hard for us to focus? Here are just a few reasons. One is that we’re bombarded with entertainment, things, stuff. Phones have 100 different apps, games, and texting. Another is busyness. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against being busy. But we have to make time for others between extracurricular activities, practices, and hobbies.

Ignoring Instagram

When you’re with your family or hanging out with friends, the loving thing to do is be all there, both mentally and physically. This will take some concentration and effort on your part. But we’ll follow God’s Word—“Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10)—when we train ourselves to ignore Instagram (at least for our conversations with others) and devote our full attention on others when we’re with them.

RESPOND

Dear Lord, please help me put real energy toward giving my full attention to the people I’m with. I want to honor them. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES
A Young Woman’s Walk with God offers wisdom for teens on how to develop godly qualities and please God in the midst of peer pressure, school activities, and physical changes.

Print out this FREE Prayer for Living After God’s Own Heart PDF!

REFLECT
“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

How often do I check my phone when I’m in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with my family or friends? Is this honoring the person I’m speaking with?

REMEMBER

Entertaining Thoughts of Divorce

Divorce

For almost the first decade of our marriage, Jim and I were lost and confused—and miserable! We had little or no peace in our home. Arguments abounded. One thing led to another until we each were going our own way. Jim was consumed with his job. I was attending classes and obtaining a license in marriage and family counseling. (Can you hear me laughing? I think I hear you laughing!)

Entertaining Thoughts of Divorce

We each entertained thoughts of divorce. We were the proverbial flailing couple who was going down…and taking two young daughters with us. Why? Well, many reasons factored in, but a big one was that our love needed redirection. In the world of physics, matter is never lost—it simply changes its state. Love is like matter; it isn’t lost, it’s only redirected.

We see this with Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage in the Old Testament. Isaac’s love was directed full-on toward his wife Rebekah for the first 20 years of their marriage. But somehow it got redirected. After their twins Jacob and Esau arrived and the newness of having children wore off, their affections went from adoration…to adjusting to an expanded family…to choosing sides against one another.

Endangering Your Marriage

Children are a gift from God, but child-centered parenting endangers your marriage and family (as does being job-centered, parent-centered, hobby-centered). Isaac redirected his love onto his favorite son, Esau, while Rebekah showered her love on Jacob. Somewhere in the rough seas of marriage, this couple drifted apart.

This may be a tender topic for you. If your love has drifted … there is hope.

Engaging Your Spouse

Spend time in prayer, assessing upon whom or what you’ve redirected your love. Take a close look at your marriage and identify any potential threats that could cause division. Then, direct your love back toward your spouse. Your concern should be, “Is my love fully aimed at my husband/wife?”

Marriage is a work in progress. We can never think that our marriage has arrived, that we’ve reached the stage where bliss will reign without any effort on our part. But we can keep our marriage alive and vibrant–and away from the brink of divorce–when we direct our love toward and nurture oneness with our spouse. Make it a priority to find new ways to show your love.

RESPOND

Dear Lord, my heart’s desire is to communicate freely with my spouse and that there be no barriers between us. Guide us to keep our love directed toward one another. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Order our Valentine’s Day Special, 20% off ($21.73) now through tomorrow only:

THREE (3) hardcopy books—

  • A Couple After God’s Own Heart
  • 15 Verses to Pray for Your Husband
  • Encouraging Words for a Woman After God’s Own Heart

PLUS a FREE 15-page devotional PDF (How to be a Closer Couple) and a beautiful Love Never Fails screensaver!

REFLECT

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 8:3)
On separate 3×5 cards, write out the area of biggest concern for yourselves as a couple.

  • Swap cards for a week
  • Carry your spouse’s care with you all week and pray daily over the contents.
  • In a week, share updates with each other.

REMEMBER

Valentine’s Day Gift Idea

Valentine's Gift

Are you looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your husband? How about committing to these three things? They can make a big difference in your marriage!

Compliment Instead of Complain

It’s easy to get wrapped up in frustration over what our husband doesn’t do, rather than focusing on all he does do, isn’t it? The next time we’re tempted to complain about our husband’s lack of time or help, let’s instead thank him for a specific way he’s blessed our family. To do this, we’ll need to keep our eyes and ears—and heart!— open so we catch the ways that he expresses his love.

Care about His Day

A gracious way to begin each day is to simply ask our husband:

  • What can I do for you today?
  • What can I do to help you make better use of your time today?

Then we standby with our day planner, a willing heart to schedule his needs into our day, and a prayer to help in the ways he sees he can best be helped.

Consider Love and Respect

There are so many ways we can show our love and respect to our husband. Consider keeping this list (and adding your own) handy as a reminder:

  • Turn our attention away from our phone and computer and onto our husband
  • Actively listen without interrupting
  • Ask him to do something instead of demanding or telling him
  • Use gentle tones and sweet words
  • Lift him up instead of putting him down in conversations with others                     

RESPOND
Dear Lord, how can I express my love to my husband today? Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES
Order our Valentines Day Special
, 20% off ($21.73) now through February 14 only:

THREE (3) hardcopy books—

  • A Couple After God’s Own Heart
  • 15 Verses to Pray for Your Husband
  • Encouraging Words for a Woman After God’s Own Heart

PLUS a FREE 15-page devotional PDF (How to be a Closer Couple) and a beautiful Love Never Fails screensaver!

REFLECT
“It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Print this card out to give to your husband on Valentine’s Day!

Valentine Marriage

REMEMBER

Lonelier than Ever

Lonelier

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I thought being married meant having a companion, but I feel lonelier now than I ever did before”?

Loneliness is an issue most women struggle with, married or not. We’ll spend days alone … nights alone … even seasons alone. Husbands will travel, kids will start school and activities, friends will move, loved ones will pass. In these times of transition, solitude, and loneliness, we must lean on our relationship with God.

Before King David took the throne, he was a shepherd boy. His long days were spent in the fields with sheep—and with the Lord. How did he pass the lonely hours? David tended his flock, praised the Lord, and prayed to God (see 1 Samuel 17). He cultivated a firm knowledge of God’s powerful presence. This closeness to God helped David view his days of solitude differently—and accurately.

The same is true for you! As you run errands, do laundry, drive carpool, put in the hours at your job … remember to spend time with God through prayer. When you eat dinner alone or watch a movie by yourself, redirect your thoughts to God’s Word. When you’re close to Him, spending time in His Word, you see your situation clearly: God is there—with you, for you—to comfort you.

Physical solitude can be discouraging. When everyone else has left, let’s recall that God promises He will never leave us. And He does not break His promises. Pray for and cultivate a sense of God’s presence through prayer, worship, and reading God’s Word.

RESPOND
Dear Lord, when I feel distant from others, please draw me to Your presence. Thank You for being the one constant in my life. I trust that You are with me and will comfort me with Your faithful love. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES
What God Wants to Do for You
shares 24 sure promises from the Bible that show just how much God loves us. God has given us many promises tailored perfectly to our needs—learn how to call upon them with this wonderful resource.

REFLECT
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Who do I know that is in a similar stage of life as I am? How can I reach out to her to share God’s comfort and ease both of our loneliness?

REMEMBER

How to Make the Best Choice

CHOICE

Perhaps you’ve heard this little rhyme about making a choice: Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better is best.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time in traffic. For years, I tuned in to easy-listening music on the radio. It seemed like a good choice as I passed my time in the car. After a while, I moved up the “better” scale, and I made a change to Christian worship. As time went by, I opted to listen to sermons. Then it hit me—why not listen to the Bible? Finally, one day I turned off everything and landed on what for me was the best choice for my car time—memorizing Scripture. Good to better to best!

God promises us in His Word that His ways are the best for us. In following Him and His ways, our devotion to Him naturally deepens. We can know His ways and choose what is best by following Mary’s example when, instead of being too busy with life, she instead chose to be still and to be present with Jesus. “And Jesus, answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But, one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'” (Luke 10:42)

When I was a new Christian, a more spiritually-mature woman shared how she spent her mornings after her husband left for work. She could have done anything she wanted—watched TV, hopped on the computer, chatted with friends—but she opted to pick up her Bible and have her quiet time. This woman paid close atten­tion to what was good, better, and best, and made the best choice.

Let’s not miss out on God’s best due to choosing the mediocre or okay. Each moment and each decision in your day, ask for God’s help to choose beyond the better choice to what is best!

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, Your ways are the best ways. I want to follow them all the days of my life. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
Proverbs for a Woman’s Day
gives you a clear view of the right path as you follow God’s wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. Are you stressed out by your responsibilities? At a crossroads in your life? Wondering what to do about a complicated relationship? Pick up a copy of this book today!

REFLECTION
“And Jesus, answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But, one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'” (Luke 10:42)

Does my schedule make room for spending time in God’s Word and in prayer?

REMEMBER
Consider these words of wisdom as you plan your day: “Daily I live with [one] fear—a healthy fear—that I will miss something God has for me in this life. And it is mind-expanding to contemplate all that He wants me to have. I don’t want to be robbed of even one of God’s riches by not taking time to let Him invade my life. By not listening to what He is telling me. By allowing the routine, pressing matters of my minutes to bankrupt me of time for the most exciting, most fulfilling relationship in life.” (Carole Mayhall)

Unmet Expectations

Expectations

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

When I was a young mother, I strived to “train a child in the way he should go,” so that, “when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). A decade later, however, the expectations I’d had for my kids weren’t coming to fruition. Angry, I said to God, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be for my family! I did just like the Smith family, but I’m getting different results!

Like a child who doesn’t get her way, I threw a spiritual tantrum. I used my time and energy arguing with and battling against God. Then one day, in between my rantings, I took time to listen to what God seemed to be saying. “But, this is the way it is. What are you going to do with the way it really is?” I realized I had to quit fussing, embrace my present, and quit denying the reality that was before me. After all, it wasn’t helping me, my kids, or my marriage.

You see, because of my unmet expectations, I had been postponing doing anything to improve the situation. Since I didn’t like what was on my plate, I decided not to deal with the circumstances. The truth was that as long as I maintained that attitude—as long as I didn’t accept reality—no progress or change could take place.

Maybe you struggle with unmet expectations too. One of the most common areas of disappointment for women is in our marriages. It’s oftentimes difficult to face the less-than-desired reality in them. For most of us, our fantasies, expectations, and dreams about what marriage will be are usually different from the day-to-day realities of married life.

So, the questions that face our unmet expectations are:

What am I going to do about the way it is?
What solution or plan does God want me to pursue as a remedy?

You see, once we accept our reality, we can then use our time and energy to make it better. So, challenge yourself today to acknowledge unmet expectations. Then, accept what is real and commit to trust that God oversees and has overseen every detail of your life —your singleness, your marriage, your family, your job, your every circumstance. This will guide you to act on what is true and real (Philippians 4:8), rather than resent reality and idly wait for fantasies to magically materialize.

A Prayer to Pray
Dear Lord, with a heart full of faith and hope, and with You by my side, I will let go of unmet expectations. By Your great grace, I’ll trust that my circumstances are for my good and Your glory. And through Your strength, I’ll pursue wisdom to make needed changes. Amen.

More Encouragement
You will find more about God’s wonderful character in Loving God with All Your Mind.

Reflection
What action am I postponing by denying the reality of a specific circumstance in my life? When have I faced reality and positively changed the situation that was holding me back?

Remember
God oversees and has overseen every detail of your life —your singleness, your marriage, your family, your job, your every circumstance.

Letting Go of The Past

Past

“I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11). 

I’ve known many women who have struggled with the if-only’s of their past … If only I had attended school … If only I had made a different decision … If only ….

For many years after I accepted Christ, I thought, “If only I had become a Christian sooner!” I reasoned that if I’d known Jesus sooner, I would have had God’s guidelines for marriage and for raising our two daughters. The almost ten years of marriage before I knew Christ were rough years indeed. And adding two children hadn’t helped! Can you relate?

If-only thinking is counterproductive. It breeds regret, and remorse, because it is impossible to change the past. We must follow God’s Word and deal with what is now, true, and real … what is happening today. There is no value in rehashing the past. And when we succumb to if-only thinking, we fail to acknowledge God’s role in our past.

Romans 8:28-29 is God’s promise that He will overrule the bad of the past and use it for good to make us more like Christ. By His transforming power, God will redeem even the most painful and perplexing moments of your past.

While it’s not healthy to ponder the negatives of our past, it’s good to note these exceptions to reflections on your past. It is good to …

Remember lessons learned from our past mistakes. Those lessons grow us in wisdom.

Recall God’s past wondrous works and faithfulness. Our faith is strengthened when we recount how God sustained and carried us through our trials.

Scripture encourages us to meditate on God’s goodness in the past whenever the trials of the present feel overwhelming. “I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11). The next time you’re tempted to entertain if-only thinking and look back at your past with regret… instead recall and give thanks for God’s faithfulness!

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Lord, I can be hard on myself for past choices I made. Thank You that You have forgiven me and You love me. Please help me release the past and embrace Your good plan for my life. Guide me through this new year according to Your will and ways. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
A Woman After God’s Own Heart 
helps you experience real peace and joy as you follow God in every area of your life–and become a woman after His heart. With warmth and grace, Elizabeth shares practical, scriptural insights in this book on how you can pursue God’s priorities.

REFLECTION
What are three ways I can recount God’s faithfulness to me in past difficulties?

REMEMBER
God was with you in the past … He is with you in the present … and He will be with you tomorrow (Psalm 73:23-24).

What Do You Pray For?

Pray

“Let us… come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

As you think about life and the New Year, what important events await you? What guid­ance do you long for about your future, for your health or job, or for your marriage? The Gospels share an important lesson about how Jesus prepared for each season of His life on earth. He prayed before important events and about important decisions.

Your ministry merits prayer—Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry. How did He approach this momentous occasion? By offering up His first recorded prayer:

“When all the people were baptized … Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended” (Luke 3:21-22).

The work God has given you is your ministry (see 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, 18). Whether it is caring for an aging parent, raising your children, mentoring young women, or shining His light in your office … your ministry merits— and requires—your prayers.

Your relationships need prayer—Jesus chose 12 people as His inner circle of friends, leaders given special authority to deliver His message to the world. How did Jesus choose His apostles? By seeking God for an answer:

“He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day… He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).

Jesus shows the importance of praying when we need to make decisions about relationships. This is a good reminder when we long for godly sisters-in-Christ, need direction about difficult friendships, or seek wisdom regarding our spouse.

Your hardships require prayer—As Jesus’ time on earth was coming to a close, He knew His death on the cross was ahead of Him. He went with the disciples to the Garden of Geth­semane … His usual place of prayer, to pray. Though His impending crucifixion would be excruciatingly painful, the Lord’s anguish had little to do with fear of the physical tor­ture. His soul was in agony because of the cup of divine judgment against sin He would soon drink. How did Jesus handle this horrendous situation?

“He … fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me'” (Matthew 26:39). As He continued to pray, His prayers changed. They began to reflect the powerful strength of His resolve: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (verse 42).

You and I will never experience anything like Jesus did as He prepared for and endured His death on a cross. But we will suffer in this lifetime—physical and emotional pain, a lack in our lives, trying relationships, challenging circumstances, and more! To pre­pare for and endure life’s challenges, we must follow Jesus’ habit of prayer that teaches us how to tap into God’s power and grace, too.

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, it is amazing that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Please help me make consistent and powerful prayer a regular part of my life. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
In Knowing God Through Prayer by Jim George, he shares the keys to meaningful communion with God. We could all benefit from some guidance on how to pray with more fervor and faithfulness. And there are no better prayer mentors than the men and women of the Bible. They talked with God and touched His heart. Get to know them through this great resource!

REFLECTION
Is my first response to trouble and hardship to pray?

REMEMBER
We are at the start of a New Year. Three-hundred and sixty-five days, 12 months, 8,760 hours filled with new highs, new lows, new joys, and new fears. Cover each one in prayer!

Blessed by The Book!

Blessed

When you allow God’s Word to “dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16), you’ll be blessed and notice that things happen. Wonderful things! Amazing things! Even things you don’t understand and can’t understand or explain.

When you hide God’s Word in your heart, here are ways you will be blessed—

You’ll discover fresh energy, new excitement, and a different—and better—outlook on life.
Your goals will change.
You’ll dream of doing great things for God as you begin to understand what great things He has done for you.

And there are more blessings!—

You will have ideas and wonder, Now where did those come from?
You’ll treat people differently, treat them better.
You’ll find yourself embracing and tackling your responsibilities, ministries, and work with joy!
You won’t even recognize yourself.

The bottom line? You’ll be traveling God’s road to success, tasting and partaking of His brand of achievement and contribution…all because you chose to meditate on The Book—God’s Word—day and night. You chose to breathe, think, ponder, relish, and live God’s book of the law.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it
day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.
For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
(Joshua 1:8)

Drawn from Knowing God Through Prayer by Jim George, which shares the keys to meaningful communion with God. We could all benefit from some guidance on how to pray with more fervor and faithfulness. And there are no better prayer mentors than the men and women of the Bible. They talked with God and touched His heart. Get to know them through this great resource!

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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