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.

Not My Leaves

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful
but the workers are few.”
Matthew 9:37


The season of autumn is here! The world is ablaze with color reminding us of the handiwork of God and all His creation. 

Each autumn as the leaves begin to fall, I am reminded of a funny story about a neighbor we had a few years ago. We lived in a neighborhood with many beautiful trees. When the leaves fell, it was a constant battle to try to keep your yard clean. Some raked their yards daily. Others chose to let the leaves fall and blow with the wind. 

One neighbor was obsessed with not having any leaves on his lawn. He spent a great deal of time raking and bagging leaves. He would also blow many of the leaves to the street where they became a large pile. Someone stopped and asked why he was blowing some of his leaves in the street. To which he replied, “Those are not my leaves. Those are the leaves that blew in my yard from the trees of other neighbors.” What a laugh we all had about his reply.

That story made me stop and think about how we view all the people that God places in our paths. Are we willing to witness to all of them, or are we sorting through our opportunities to share the gospel story just as my neighbor was attempting to sort through the leaves in his yard? 

Our scripture reminds us that the workers that are needed are few because most people are not willing to do what God is asking them to do. Where is the harvest? Is it the people in far away lands that have not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? Yes, but it is also right where we live—at the office, at school, at the gym, in our home, and in our neighborhood. 

Many churches post this slogan at their exit, “You are now entering your mission field.” That sums it up. Where God leads us and the people He places in our path are our harvest. 

Father, help me to see those you place in my path. Give me a willing heart to work in your field. The harvest will be great.


Janet

Keep it Simple

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
Isaiah 46:10


A few months ago we sold our home. We wanted more time to discern what God’s plan was for our future, so we are living in our farmhouse. It is much smaller that our former home, about half the size. Many of our things are in storage because the farmhouse was already furnished. I am realizing just how many extra things I had in our larger home. We are living comfortably with a lot less stuff.

This move and time of transition has made me think about the need for keeping my life more peaceful and not so full of the stress and chaos. I am spending more time focusing on my real purpose and evaluating my priorities. I want to be able to spend more time being still and knowing God. God wants to be first in my life. He wants me to grow closer to Him each day. In order to accomplish His will and not mine, I needed to simplify. 

Let me share some of my experiences on this journey.
  1. I had to confess that my life was cluttered and out of order.
  2. I had to make my relationship with Him a top priority.
  3. I had to evaluate my schedule of activities. Saying “Yes” to some and “No” to others.
  4. I had to get organized. I got rid of clutter. I planned and shopped wisely to be a better steward of my time and money.
  5. I am turning off the computer, phone, and TV more often to spend more quiet time with God and quality time with my family. 
Jesus paid a high price so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He offers peace, joy, and contentment. What about you, dear friend? Is there an area of your life that you need to simplify? What needs to stay? What needs to go? What needs to change?

Father, help me to be still and know you. Help me to keep my life simple and focus on the purpose and plan you have for me.


Janet

Somebody’s Listening

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14


My 2-year old grandson and I had returned from a trip to the grocery store. I was putting away the items, and he was “helping.” As he pulled items from the bags, he found the receipt. He unfolded the receipt and began to repeat something over and over. I stopped and listened carefully, and heard him saying, “Thank you, have a nice day!” Those are the words I say to the checker each time as we leave the grocery store. Even though I had never taught him those words, he had learned them by observing my behavior.

Wow! What a reminder this was to me as a Christian and a grandmother. Just as my grandson is observing my words and actions, so are all the other people that I encounter each day. How I desire to use words and have thoughts that are pleasing to my Lord. 

Our scripture is a prayer by the psalmist, David. He, too, desired to speak words and meditate on those things that were pleasing to His Lord. What are some practical things we can do every day to help us speak pleasing words and have pleasing thoughts? 
  • Daily cleanse your heart of sin so that there are no hindrances or barriers between you and God.
  • Read God’s Word. Listen for Him to speak. He will speak through His Word to teach us, rebuke us, and train us for righteous living.
  • Pray about the truths that God reveals in His Word. Prayer is our talk to God after He talks to us through His Word. 
By following this plan daily our hearts and lives will be Spirit filled. As we encounter people that God places in our paths each day, we will be ready to offer words that are pleasing to our Lord. Remember . . . somebody’s listening. What will they hear from you today?

Father, how many times I mess up every single day! Please keep my focus on you. I want my words and thoughts to be pleasing to you.


Janet

The Cure for Idleness: Work!

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:27


As I think about my grandmother’s day, I get tired. 

She got up early enough to make a full breakfast before my Papa went to work. She scrambled the best eggs I’ve ever tasted, toasted bread and fried up bacon and sometimes sausage too.

When breakfast was over, she washed the dishes by hand and started the laundry. Mid-morning, she hung the first load of laundry out to dry and started washing another load.

In the summer, she went out to the garden to pick vegetables. Then, she cleaned them and used them for lunch and dinner. Lunch was a full spread too. I remember cantaloupe, tomatoes, peas, corn and mashed potatoes plus a meat. Oh, I can’t forget the homemade cornbread or biscuits – sometimes both!

After lunch, she cleared the table, washed the dishes and put any leftovers away for supper.  Then, she went back to the laundry, garden or some other household chore. She never complained though.

She just kept working.

Sometimes that meant shelling peas or snapping beans, watering the garden, raking leaves, quilting, preparing a Bible lesson that she would teach that week, hanging out more laundry and preparing for supper.

Supper was another full meal with a spread of fresh vegetables, meat and homemade bread.

I don’t know about you, but my day looks very different. Modern grocery stores and restaurants make food prep a whole lot easier. Electric dryers and prepared foods make my day a lot less hectic. 

I wonder if sometimes my time on social media counts as the bread of idleness. Yes, Pinterest helps me plan meals. Yes, Facebook helps me keep in touch with friends. However, it’s easy for me to spend too much time on these sites and enter into idleness when I should be actually working.

My Granny didn’t have time for idleness. Perhaps that was a blessing of her generation. 

Lord, help me not to eat the bread of idleness during my day. Keep me away from things that distract me from the work you’ve given me.


Stacy

A Heaping Helping of Hospitality

She gets up while it is still night; 
she provides food for her family…
Proverbs 31:15
  


Some of my favorite memories of Granny include food.

She made the best cornbread dressing I’ve ever tasted. It’s almost impossible to duplicate because she didn’t use a recipe. She just poured some of this, a little of that, stirred and added more till it tasted right.

One Thanksgiving, I watched her make the dressing, and I wrote down everything she used. Yet I can’t make it taste like hers.

Christmastime meant cookies. And lots of them. Chocolate chip. Sand tarts. Haystacks.  Snickerdoodles. Peanut Butter cookies. Sugar Cookies. Just to name a few. In her cooking heyday, she started making Christmas cookies right after Halloween.

By Christmas, she brought out about 12 different kinds of cookies for us to enjoy. That’s sheer delight to a child!

She earned blue ribbons at the county fair for her pickles, recipes and jellies. She loved cooking, and everyone around her benefitted.

Granny used ordinary things like mixing bowls, measuring cups, pots and pans to do God’s work. She used them to show love to her family, friends and church members. People loved coming to her house.

Each year, she invited her Sunday School class into her home for a Christmas dinner. She decorated every room for Christmas, brought out her Christmas china and shared whatever she had. At age 92, she was scheduled to host this year’s Christmas gathering.

I’m not near as good of a cook as my Granny. My husband wonders how the talent escaped my generation. Yet still, I can make a few good items. And I have access to a great bakery!

So I might not be able to cook like Granny, but I can still show hospitality to others. I can use what I have and welcome others into my home for fellowship just like my Granny did.

I Peter 4:9-10 tells us to offer hospitality to others and to use whatever gifts we have to serve others.

What gifts do you have?  How are you using them to serve others?


Stacy