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.

Follow the Leader

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said.
 Mark 1:17


I pulled into the rest area and looked around. The people I observed were as varied as the vehicles. Where were they all going? The adventurist in me began to imagine several possible scenarios. For some reason we had all converged in that one location at precisely the same time. Momentarily, we each would continue on our individual routes. 

Years ago I had read an article by a woman who found herself careening down a path she hadn’t chosen. Her child had been diagnosed as special needs. She listened to stories of those traveling on the well-traveled thoroughfare of life with longing. She would never journey that way again. In time, she came to realize that her road was not better or worse. It was just different. God had many wonderful blessings for her along the way.

Shortly before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told Peter that he would be led down an avenue he didn’t want to travel. Like we often do, Peter glanced behind him as he asked Jesus, But Lord, what about this man (John 21:21)?

Jesus answered, “…What is that to you? You must follow Me” (John 21:22).

Peter would later write, Cast all your anxiety on [Jesus] because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). He had learned that Jesus is faithful in all things.

I have had my share of unexpected journeys in life. Through them all, Jesus has never left my side. Although I wouldn’t have opted for some of these roads, I have grown so much in ways I would never have otherwise. By leaning on Jesus to get me through, our relationship has become sweeter and sweeter.

What unexpected path have you found yourself on? Divorce? Financial hardship? Loss of someone special? Addiction? Unfulfilled dreams? Whatever the road, it may be tempting to long for a different route. Instead try to look for the jewels God has placed along the roadside as you follow Him.

Jesus, whatever path you have for us to travel, help us to look to you as you navigate us through.


Terri

What is That Smell?

…through us [God] diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14


“What is that smell?” my husband asked as we entered the resort where we were vacationing. “Whatever it is, I want it!” he exclaimed.

What is it about a pleasing aroma that stops us in our tracks and makes us look for its source? In 2 Corinthians 2:14, the Bible says that God diffuses his knowledge through us. Just think about it! When we walk into a room, the beautiful fragrance of Christ permeates the atmosphere. People may not know what exactly they perceive, but they do know that something has changed.

How could they not? Jesus was always changing the circumstances as He walked the earth. Crowds were drawn to Him wherever He went, evoking the response, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54). Through Him the hungry were satisfied, the sick were healed, and the oppressed were freed.

God entrusts us with sharing Jesus. We are…Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20). He still draws people to Himself through us. The power of the Holy Spirit emanates to those around us. Our mere presence is a witness for Christ. Others may be attracted to Christ by the words we say, the things we do, or just because we showed up. 

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15).

The fragrance of Christ is repulsive to those who are perishing. Jesus had those who wanted to push Him away, belittle Him, and even kill Him as He spoke the truth to them. We may also encounter resistance as the knowledge of Jesus wafts through the air.  We are not responsible for the results, but we are responsible to share what we have.

Next time you get a whiff of something scrumptious, remember that you are radiating the glorious aroma of Christ into the atmosphere around you. Ladies, that is the best perfume!

Terri

Simply Because You Love Me

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
 Lamentations 3:22-23


I could hardly believe it! I was moving into my new house that I had never even seen. My husband had called me a month prior saying he was putting a contract on a house. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to see the house first.

I loved the house, the size of the yard, and the beautiful, towering trees. However, I noticed the landscaping was rather drab, and the shrubs were rather spindly. I had previously lived in a warmer climate where a variety of flowers and plants blossomed much of the year. 

Late summer turned to fall; fall turned to winter. I looked out my window one cold, January day. Much to my surprise, a single yellow flower had pushed through the snow. Before long, my yard was alive with lovely daffodils. Dainty, white lilies soon joined in the march.

Looking at this breathtaking array of flowers, I thought of Lamentations 3:23 that states God’s mercies are new every morning. The spindly shrubs suddenly burst into a bountiful mass of gorgeous pink and white azaleas.

I began to look forward to the surprises God had for me each day in this new yard with which he had blessed me. As the days and months progressed, I beheld many more varieties of flowers – hydrangeas, irises, day lilies, flowering vines, dogwoods and many others.

Day after day, God shared something new and beautiful with me. He waits to do that with each of us. God has wonderful blessings anew each day. We just have to open our eyes and look around. 

Each new day is a gift from God. His compassions and mercies for us are new every morning. We may mess up, but we have the opportunity to start each day afresh, enjoying all that God has planned for us.

Thank you, Father, for loving me and blessing me each and every day without fail.


Terri

Garde Bien … the great Amen!

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Jude 24-25



This week, in Jude, I have been amazed at the ways of God, at the sensitivity of Jude, at the words of love and mercy, at the hope we share, at the timeless relevancy. And now Jude’s doxology reverberates deep down in the soul. It is pure icing on the cake. I am reminded, ladies, that studying God is not an end in itself. It is the doorway to worship.

So let us worship: God, You are able. You are so able. Amen!

Lord, we know the folks in the time of Jude were being bombarded by raw immorality and outright denial of Jesus as Lord. So are we. They were in danger of falling into sin. So are we. But You God are able to keep us from falling. Even when we’re being blindsided and don’t know it, You are able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We will enter into Your glorious presence at the end of time perfect, without fault in Your eyes. As we build ourselves up in the faith, we are being transformed into (Jesus’) likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the LORD, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The joy in heaven will be grand. Amen!

You, God, are the only God! You are our Savior! Amen!

O God, we recognize that glory and majesty and power and authority belong to You alone. One day we will join the elders before the heavenly throne and say with them: “You are worthy, our Lord and God…for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11). Amen!

In the meantime we wait Lord Jesus. We wait, secure in Your loving arms. We wait knowing You have cut off the head of death and will one day bring us into eternal life. How great is Your mercy! We live to bring You glory. We guard, we cherish the faith.

For You Jesus, You are the Christ. You are our Lord. You were there before all ages. You are with the Father now. You will reign forevermore. Amen! And Amen! 

Garde Bien, ladies. Watch well. 



Nancy P

Garde Bien … be merciful

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 22-23


The more I study Jude’s writing, the more impressed I am with its fluidity in light of the known illiteracy of the Galileans. Hmmm—inspired or what! At this point Jude reminds his friends they are not of the world, but they have a purpose in the world. I wonder if he was on the edge of the crowd of disciples when Jesus prayed His priestly prayer: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” Yet, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-16,18).

As we keep ourselves in God’s love ladies, we too take on the character of love. We learn to fulfill the “new command” of Jesus: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 14:34).

And love involves mercy. There were those who doubted in Jude’s time; there are those who have honest doubts now. Don’t avoid them. Be patient. Maybe begin a Bible study in your neighborhood. Be the kind of friend whose lifestyle invites conversation about the things of God.

Know your story with God so you can share it: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1Peter 3:15). You each have a story. Take the time to write it down, then share it with some friends to work out the kinks. I have a necklace of charms which remind me of all the times God has intersected my story. You could do that too.

With others, those who are heading for the pit, you might have to be rather blunt in order to snatch them from the fire. And then there are those whose corrupt practices you need to steer clear of so they do not rub off on you. Sin is sin as measured by God. But all people have dignity in the eyes of God. Remember, be gentle and respectful at all times, and above reproach. Don’t be surprised that all eyes are on you.

God’s mercy runs deep. In the end it will bring us to eternal life. In the meantime a little mercy on our part may just bring someone to Jesus.


Nancy P