Encourage Your Family

Purpose to encourage everyone you talk to. Put this goal on your prayer list. And guess who should be at the top of your prayer list? Guess who should get the first overflow of your ministry of encouragement? Your family!

I realize this doesn’t come naturally for most guys and even many women, but it’s worth the effort and practice and an act of your will to open your mouth and encourage your family.

As a dad of a bustling household with two daughters, here’s one thing I began to do each morning: I purposefully began to think about the first words I would speak to my family members as they prepared for school, work, or whatever they were facing that day. I wanted to help start their day on a positive note with encouragement.

Your thoughtful, prepared words will be powerful enough to set the sail for the day you and your family members will encounter. Your parting words filled with affirming, uplifting, and memorable encouragement will carry them through the trying moments of their day and even in the days, months, and years to come when things get tough! Don’t hold back. Speak up and encourage your family.

The Ministry of Encouragement

The ministry of encouragement should go out to everyone you encounter, even if it’s only for a minute. Ask your heart, “What can I give this person? A word of encouragement? A listening ear? A comforting touch?” (And, of course, that’s with a big smile and a hearty hello!)

For instance, I was attending a Christian women’s event in a hotel. As I entered the ladies’ room, an attendant was cleaning the restroom. First the smile…then the greeting…and then I said, “Thank you for all you do to make this place so nice. It looks fabulous!”

Yes, she was a stranger. And no, I’ll probably never see her again in my life. But that shouldn’t stop you and me from the sweet, uplifting ministry of encouraging others. Who knows what’s going on in another person’s life? Who knows the sadness, the hardships, the drudgery, the pain, the emptiness that may be there? And who knows…perhaps God is using you to give someone the only kind word they will receive in a 24-hour day.

How Can You Recognize Your Spiritual Gifts?

It may take you a while to determine your areas of giftedness and learn how to best minister to the other members of your church, but these four steps will get you started:

Start where you are-Do anything you can do, and do everything you can do, until you find something you must do! That something is probably your spiritual gift.

This is exactly what Elizabeth and I did when we first began attending church. We did anything and everything we could possibly do. It was such a joy to serve anybody and everybody in any way! And then, in time, as God worked through us, we began to find tasks that were ideally suited to us—which were our areas of giftedness.

Start with what you like-At the time of your salvation, God gave you spiritual abilities (1 Corinthians 12:11). These abilities are an inherent part of your Christian makeup. They are uniquely “you”.

As you grow and mature spiritually, these spiritual abilities will surface more and more as you have opportunities to serve. So what’s the best way to discover your areas of giftedness? Do what you like to do or desire to do. This, and your spiritual growth, will help confirm your spiritual gift.

Start asking others-Many times others will recognize your spiritual giftedness while you don’t. Why? Because what you are doing will seem to come naturally. It’s so easy and effortless and rewarding you hardly notice! That’s because your area of spiritual giftedness is a channel through which the Holy Spirit works-it’s not you, it’s Him! This is hard to explain, understand, and recognize. But just keep on keeping on. And ask others what they see as your most effectual area of service. Their observations will probably indicate your areas of giftedness.

Start with what God is blessing-When you are using your God-given gifts, others will be blessed. Also, your gifts will become more obvious as God blesses certain ministries you undertake. So if you are wondering what your gifts are, just take a look around to see what you are doing for the body of Christ that God is blessing.

Don’t Give Up on Your Family!

Being a loving mother, a doting grandmother, a gracious aunt, a caring cousin sometimes means we’re inconvenienced. A son needs picked up at ball practice, a granddaughter needs a ride to the soccer field, a nephew or niece wants to go camping. How blessed you are to be involved in family life—to love and pray for the young people in your life. After all, they’re your kin-and you have a responsibility to care deeply for and about them. God meant for the family to be important, a passion, a pursuit.

Take inventory. Is there any family member you’re skimping on in the Love Department? Is there someone you’re not praying for? Yes, I know some people are more difficult than others. Look to the Lord for help. Don’t give up on being a friend to the family.

Heavenly Father, thank You for my family–each and every one of them! Even when they frustrate me it’s a blessing to have them in my life. It’s wonderful to know I’m loved…and, through You, I can love them back. Amen.

Cooking and Cleaning

There’s nothing you can do that God can’t use. From cleaning up to being a keynote speaker at a conference, you can contribute to and be part of the work of Christ. Luke 8:1-3 describes a group of faithful women who used their money and means to support Jesus and His disciples on their preaching tours. Martha and Mary were two sisters who regularly hosted Jesus and His disciples for dinner and rest in their home (Luke 10:38). The mother of John Mark hosted a prayer meeting at her house (Acts 12:12). In Romans 16:1-2 Phoebe is described as a servant in her church and a helper of many.

What a thrilling parade of women! And what did they do? Cooking, cleaning, working, praying, hosting, giving, helping. Nothing you and I can’t do!

Lord, may I never underestimate the gifts You’ve given me. Help me see how I can offer practical, hands-on help when needed. Thank You for the opportunity to be a modern-day Phoebe-a helper of many. Amen.

In Everything Give Thanks

When life is good it’s easy for praise and thanksgiving to flow from our lips. But when life gets tough, that’s an entirely different story. Yet the Bible says, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Everything? I’m afraid so! Think of it this way: When you’d rather stay miserable but you choose to look beyond your pain to see or trust in the Lord’s purpose, that’s sacrificial praise.

So often it’s out of the darkness of my trials that I find God’s joy magnified in my life. Think of a beautiful diamond displayed against a black background. The dark makes the stone shine all the more. What a great picture of what Christ has done for us.

Jesus, whenever I focus on my problems, help me see them as opportunities for You to do amazing things. And thank You for using every situation to make me more like You. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Walking in God-Confidence

Are you fearful because God appears to be moving you in an unexpected direction? Is the unknown causing you to waver on the path of obedience? Take heart in your resolve. Walk in confidence with God. Walk as King David did, declaring, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

Though you might not know where God’s will is taking you, you can trust God to watch over and stay with you. Though life may take surprising turns, they are not unexpected to God. He knows what is happening and why, and all He calls you to do is to trust Him.

Father, I affirm that as long as You lead me and I walk with You, I have nothing to fear. I resolve to follow You today, knowing that I’m never safer than when I’m with You. Amen.

The Empty Nest

Do you miss the sounds of a full house? Have your children moved on to college, marriage, or their own dwellings? I understand how hard the empty nest stage of motherhood can be. It comes all too soon! Hannah, of the Bible, wanted a son so badly that in 1 Samuel 1:11 she vowed to “give him to the Lord all the days of his life.” And because she kept her promise, her Samuel had to move to another city. She had to love him across many miles.

The mother of writer Elisabeth Elliot prayed and wrote letters. For 45 years she wrote each of her six children twice a week. And that was before computers and email! Reach out to your children-and grandchildren-in prayer and love. This investment matters to the Lord and to your family.

God, do I tell my children how much I love them? I mean to. I intend to. I try to show it by my care and affection. Help me take advantage of every opportunity to tell, write, and share of my love for them…and for You. Amen.

The Lonely Mom

Moms feel lonely too. Many mothers and wives have days-or even seasons-of feeling lonely. But you are not alone. The Bible says God is with you.

It’s a fact of life. You will be alone at various times. When your children start grade school, extra activities, college, or their own marriage and family. And most women end up outliving their husbands. But through these times of transition, solitude, and loneliness, you can turn to One who is always there.

Pray for and cultivate a firm, powerful sense of God’s presence. Then, when you’re in physical solitude, you’ll realize you’re never alone. God promises He will never leave you or forsake you. And God never breaks His promises. His presence is there with you and for you. He will comfort and encourage you.

Lord, just when I’m feeling distant from others, I am drawn once again to Your presence. You are my Creator and You are the one constant in my life. Thank You for filling me and my days with the joy of Your faithful love. Amen.

Offering the Sacrifice of Joy

The fruit of the Spirit is…joy.
Galatians 5:22

One year on a beautiful autumn Sunday, Jim and I drove to a church in central California so Jim could conduct an ordination service for one of his former students.  As we crossed over a little bridge, we stopped and looked at the brook that flowed beneath it and sounded so pleasant and refreshing. Peering over the rail, we were surprised to discover the cause of the water’s sweet sound. We saw piles of large, jagged rocks that were impeding the water’s surface, even redirecting its path. Nevertheless, the little brook gave forth utterly joyful sounds!

Both Jim and I marveled that something so traumatic could cause something so lovely.

Yet isn’t this stream a picture of what real life is like? Our lives are filled with disappointments, crises, tragedies, heartaches, affliction, and struggles-just as Jesus said in John 16:33! But the good news is, that as we encounter disquieting rocks that impede our progress, disturb our tranquility, and redirect our path, God can give us the joy we need to produce sounds of praise to Him.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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