The writers of Encouraging.com are celebrating their fifteen year landmark by making their 365 daily devotional book, God Moments, available as a free digital download! A total of thirty-six GABC writers have faithfully captured “moments of God’s presence” in their lives to encourage your own spiritual journey. You can find God Moments on amazon.com, iTunes, and BarnesandNoble.com.

Where's Your Bible Been?

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.  Genesis 17:17


As I was hunting a verse the other day I realized that my favorite study Bible has been with me a long time. I received it in high school, so it even has my maiden name engraved on the front. The cover is so worn that I have placed a leather protector over it. I wish I could say that all of that “wear” was from studying. Once I left it on the roof of my car as I drove home from church. I didn’t realize it until I heard something and looked in the review mirror to see it fly behind me. Luckily its road trip down Troup Highway didn’t do much damage.

I also noticed a few marks on several different pages. Both of my children had made their own marks in my Bible. My daughter did some underlining in Psalm 119, and my son put a significant scribble on Psalm 146. I had left my Bible open after studying. I left it open on several different occasions during which my children, years apart, made their marks. These marks remind me that I want my God to be the God of my descendants. I want my children to grow up knowing Him and loving Him. 

We also make our marks on the next generation by our example of seeking Him.
My beloved grandmother passed away a couple years ago. I had the privilege to grow up close to her, both in location and relationship. I continued to see her regularly until the day she died. She made her mark in my life over and over. One thing that stood out to me, that she probably never realized, was her dependence on the Word. Many, many times over the years, when I had dropped by, I noticed her Bible - open. She may have been reading when I arrived, or she may have left it after reading earlier. Regardless, the fact that she spent time daily in the Word meant a lot to me – left its mark. I have the blessing of a Christian heritage, and I want it to continue. What mark are you making on the next generation?

Julie Smith 

Storms of Life

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6


I don’t know about you, but I love a good thunderstorm. I enjoy going outside at the first sign of a storm to sit on the back porch, watch the wind pick up, and listen to the sound of thunder rolling across the sky. 

Have you ever noticed after a big storm blows through often there is a mess of debris remaining? A big storm damaged the roof of my home several years ago. When the roofers came to remove the old roof, they found rotted wood underneath that needed to be replaced. I remember my mind shifting and comparing this situation to an emotional storm I was experiencing at the time. I felt the Lord was showing me in the physical realm how sometimes He allows storms in our lives to stir things up so that we can see what needs healing. The emotional storm going on in my life at the time allowed the “roof” of my heart to be removed so that I could see what was rotting on the inside.

Perhaps you are currently experiencing a storm in your life. I encourage you to stand firm as the wind blows around you. Allow God to use the experience to bring anything to the surface that needs cleansing and change. There were times during that particular storm in my life that I felt like the pain was so great I could no longer stand firm during it. I felt so weak. That is when I called upon trusted prayer warriors to pray for me and encourage me through God’s Word.
  
Storms will come and go in our lives. If we trust that He has allowed it to blow in for His purposes, then we can trust Him with the outcome. Our job is to be obedient in the midst of it and trust. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). If you are experiencing a storm, use this as an opportunity to trust and believe that God has allowed it to blow into your life for His purposes. Do not try to understand all the “whys” but rather trust that God has allowed it to refine you and your situation.

Storms never last long. Stand firm and trust that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). That is a promise we all share. Praise His Holy Name!


Carrie Wright

The Rocking Chair

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7


I sank into the overstuffed rocker and massaged my throbbing forehead.

For the past few days I’d been obsessing over a difficult situation. Not only did I think about it all day long, I woke up during the night to think about it some more. I kept chewing on the situation like a dog gnawing on a bone.

As a result I was fighting a tension headache. I leaned back in the chair and began to rock. I need to relax and stop worrying about this, I thought.

To distract myself, I rocked faster. However, I soon noticed no matter how fast or how long I rocked, I wasn’t going anywhere. Unlike riding a bike, I stayed in the same place.

Whoa, I thought, worrying is a lot like this rocking. It gives me something to do, but it isn’t getting me anywhere. No matter how much effort I put into it, nothing changes.

I knew the Bible suggests an alternative to worry. 1 Peter 5:7 advises, Cast all your anxiety on him. Instead of being anxious, I could give the problem to God and trust Him for the outcome.

I was tired of fretting. I decided to try 1 Peter 5:7. Bowing my head I prayed, Lord, You know all about the situation that’s bothering me. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m giving it to You.

As I prayed, I even pictured myself handing the problem to God. When I opened my eyes, I must admit, I felt good, free of the burden.

However, as you know, old habits are hard to break.

I still sometimes catch myself starting to worry.

When I do, I repeat the process; I pray and hand it over to God.

Father, may we trust You in every situation.

Carol

Help, I’m a Mess!

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Luke 12:15


I can’t find anything after I put it away. I know I need to organize, but I just don’t know where to start. I want to invite friends over, but my house is such a mess. I want less clutter, but I just can’t figure out how to get started. Sound familiar?

Although we live in larger homes and have fewer children, our attics, basements, closets and rooms are overflowing. Storage units are becoming more popular.

We need to remember that more is not necessarily better. Things can’t bring us happiness. Peter Walsh, a pro at decluttering, said, “If your house is full of clutter, all the blessings that could fill your house can’t get in.”

A friend recently shared that she cleaned out her bedroom drawers and felt so much better about the whole room. She is now going to tackle the boxes of clothes piled around the room. Good for her! She has set a goal. One of the main obstacles in removing clutter is the overwhelming thought that you have to make so many decisions.

The University of Illinois has wonderful information on dealing with clutter on their web site. I really like their idea of a Clutter Emergency Card. Use the following questions to help you decide what is important and what’s not.

* How long has it been since I used this?
* Do I like it?
* Does it work properly – is it broken?
* If I keep this, what will I get rid of to make room for it?
* Can I locate this information somewhere else (probably on the internet) if I need it?

Don’t tackle the whole house at once. Get three boxes and start with one room. Put broken or throw-away items in one. Fill the other with items to donate to charity or friends. The third one should be the one you are left with. Now you are ready to make decisions concerning the items you need and plan to keep.

I promise you, decluttering will go a long way in sweeping frustration out the door. You will enjoy life more with an organized home.

As you are getting rid of the clutter in your home, remember to keep your mind free from clutter so that you can hear words from God. We are so busy that we sometimes use all our twenty-four hours without talking to the Father who loves us so much. Take time to clear your mind, get away from noise and talk to your Heavenly Father. It seems that the more time-saving devises we have, the less time we have.

I want to leave you with a scripture that helps me. I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants (Psalm 85:8).


Janice Yandell

Rules


My favorite movie of all time is Steel Magnolias. I feel that, because it's set in a small town not too far from my own, I can relate to much of the southern humor. Without a doubt, Shirley MacLaine takes the prize for her portrayal of Ouiser Boudreaux.

One of Ouiser's best lines comes when she explains why she grows tomatoes if she doesn't like to eat them. She claims, "I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know WHY. I don’t make the rules."

Have you ever felt like Ouiser? You keep on doing what you're doing, simply because that's what you're "supposed" to do? You really have no justification, or calling, or mission. Instead, you're just going through the motions because that's the rule. I can certainly relate.

Sometimes, in my relationship with God, I get lazy. I fail to truly focus on Him or to give Him the time He requires. I still read my Bible, pray, and go to church, but I do those things because it's the rule, not because my heart desires them. Surely, some of you can identify with me on this!

The Bible says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

I don't see anything in that passage that indicates that Jesus died so that I would follow the rules. Dear one, He has so much more for us! He wants us to have full, abundant, overflowing life! That sounds a bit more exciting than obeying a law.

Today, as we go about our days, let's seek the Lord before we act. There's no telling what exciting things He'll allow us to do, simply because we love Him, not because we followed the rules.

Thank you, Father, for sending your Son, Jesus, to free me from rules. God, as I go about my day, prompt my heart to act out of love for you.


Lindsey Pond