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.

Let the Sonshine

Let the light of Your face shine upon us, O Lord.
Psalm 4:6b


God spoke light into being at creation. He then created the sun to give us light and life. The sunlight helps plants to grow, keeps us warm, and helps us know when it is daytime. The sunlight also enables our bodies to produce vitamin D. I didn’t know much about this little vitamin until I was told that I was deficient in it.

I soon learned that a lack of vitamin D may result in fatigue, muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, weight gain, headaches and poor concentration, to name a few. It is implicated in several diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, bone diseases and even asthma.

Few foods contain vitamin D. We mostly get it from the sunlight. Fifteen minutes a day in the sun is all it takes to receive sufficient amounts vitamin D.

The physical and spiritual parallels are striking.

I suffer spiritual heart disease that is unaffected by what I eat. The only remedy is a little Sonshine. For God made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). As I sit at Jesus’ feet, He changes my heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

If I stay away from God’s word too long, my mind wanders from edifying, positive thoughts to destructive, negative ones. I become fearful, irritable and distracted. The prescription? A good dose of the light of God’s Word to renew my mind.

Without God’s light to energize me, everything I do becomes laborious and dull. But the joy of the Lord is [my] strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

God wants to bless us with both physical and spiritual light proceeding from His radiant face. 

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).



Terri

Out of Season

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:2

  
The sun is shining radiantly. The warm mid 70’s temperature beckons me outside. The spring flowers are blooming brightly - only it isn’t spring. It is the middle of winter. 

The faithful flowers are responding to the unseasonably warm weather we are experiencing this year. That they are out of season doesn’t deter them. They just keep popping open in beautiful splendor.

I’ve often wondered why Jesus cursed a fig tree for not bearing figs when it wasn’t even the season for figs. Although the passage in Mark 11:12-14 can be taken symbolically, it also has a practical side. Looking at the facts, Jesus is hungry. He is looking for food. The tree is full of leaves. He expects figs to be on the tree. There are none. It is not the season for figs.

So why does Jesus expect figs on the fig tree when they aren’t in season? Like my flowering plants, the fig leaves had come out earlier than usual. Since the tree was full of leaves, it should have produced at least some figs. There were none. The fig tree was not fulfilling its God-ordained purpose for existence, bearing figs for nourishment.

Unlike the fig tree, the spring flowers were bursting forth as God had created them to do, regardless of the season.

Paul encourages us in 2 Timothy 4:2 to be ready in season and out of season to share the nourishing Word with the spiritually hungry. I find it easier to be ready in season - prepared to teach a class or speak or write. I like to know what I am going to share ahead of time. I am very uncomfortable on the spur of the moment. But God is faithful. The more I draw close to Him, the more He prepares me to fulfill His purpose for my life. 

Father, may I display Your beauty and glory whatever the season.



Terri

Hide and Seek

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7


My children loved to play hide and seek when they were young. Each time my daughter hid in the same location, behind a large cushioned rocking chair. My husband and I smiled at each other as we heard sweet little giggles emanating from behind the shaking chair. We played along. “Is Kristina under the table?” “No.” Is she behind the curtains?” “No.” Finally, as we peered behind the chair, she squealed with delight at being found.

Life isn’t always full of fun and laughter. Sometimes we are blindsided by unexpected situations. In those times we need a place to hide until the storms of life pass.

You are my hiding place. When circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, Jesus invites us to run to Him. The everlasting God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27a). He is precisely what we need. In His presence we find complete love, peace, comfort and acceptance.

You will protect me from trouble. In the mighty arms of Jesus nothing can touch us. No evil, fear, sickness, or sorrow is able to penetrate the barrier He erects. We are promised His supernatural protection. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, “Destroy them” (Deuteronomy 33:27b). I know of no safer place to be!

And surround me with songs of deliverance. Songs have a way of getting God’s truth into our minds and hearts so it can be retrieved at the proper time. As we wait to be set free, we can confidently sing songs of deliverance. They reassure us that God hasn’t forgotten or abandoned us. Just as my daughter waited expectantly to be found, we can rest, knowing that one day we will be saved. 

Struggles and trials are temporary. We will not have to hide indefinitely. Once Jesus rescues us, we will laugh and shout for joy once again!

Thank you, Jesus for being my hiding place.



Terri

An Ounce of Prevention

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Psalm 34:19


“Your dog tested positive for heartworms,” the veterinarian said. I listened as he laid out the treatment plan. It would be a 5 month long process of injections, daily medications and limited activity. That was the short treatment. The other could take up to seven years!

How could that have happened? She has been on heartworm prevention for a year. The test was negative a year ago. I had done all I knew to protect my dog, and she still contracted heartworms.

The safeguards we put in place do not always prevent problems. We may be stricken with a disease in spite of eating well and exercising. We may have a rebellious child even though parenting with love, discipline, and prayer. We may wreck the car while following the rules of the road.

We are not alone. God encourages us through the stories of others that have endured unjust treatment. Job suffered greatly although he was blameless, upright, and God-fearing. David, described as a man after God’s own heart, encountered many setbacks in his life.  Joseph, an obedient and much loved son, was betrayed and torn from his family for many years.

Suffering can be hard to understand. Shouldn’t troublemakers and the undisciplined be the ones suffering? Yes, but we are also warned that a righteous man may have many troubles (Psalm 35:19). 

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:20-21). If anyone deserved a problem-free life, it would be Jesus. But He was called to suffer, as are we.

Job, David, Joseph and Jesus all magnified the Lord in the midst of difficulties. We can as well. We are promised that even when we go through hard times, the Lord will deliver us from them all (Psalm 35:19).



Terri

Will You Be My Valentine?

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

 
February! The month of love and romance. Stores come alive with hearts, candy, cards and flowers all designed to express one’s love.

Merriam-webster.com defines love as
1.    a strong affection for another
2.    a beloved person
3.    an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
4.    a score in tennis.
That last one is not very romantic.

God’s love varies greatly from human love, which is often conditional and fickle. His love endures forever (Psalm 107:1). It is unchanging despite our actions.

God’s love is
      great (Nehemiah 13:2)
      unfailing (Psalm 6:4)
      abounding (Psalm 8:5)
      priceless (Psalm 36:7)
      enduring (1 Chronicles 16:34)
      lavish (1 John 3:1)

We all have a deep longing to be loved. People desperately search for things or others to fill this vast emptiness. This elusive love can only be found in God. Only He can satisfy because He is love (1 John 4:8). 

God sent us our own personalized valentine - the Bible. The love of God pulsates throughout each page. His heart beats wildly as He pours out His love for us.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you (Isaiah 43:5). You are precious and honored in My sight, ...I love you (Isaiah 43:4). I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness (Jeremiah 31:3). Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken (Isaiah 54:10). I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands (Isaiah 49:15b-16a).

To prove His love, God sent His Son to die for our sins so we could be with Him. For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Lord, I open my heart to your extravagant love.


Terri