{re}fresh

Month: September, 2012

Kick the Discouragement Habit

by mandyade

It’s possible to be in the worst predicament and still win. David and his men returned home to find their worst nightmare; their homes burned down and their wives and children stolen by their enemies. David and his men wept until they had no more strength to mourn. Pain turned to anger and David’s faithful men turned against him wanting to kill him.

In this terrible moment David didn’t run or get angry, instead he strengthened himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). This is a key for us, not only for a bad day but a key for every day. David lived in a place of self- encouragement. He was used to encouraging himself in all situations; good times and bad. When the enemy showed up, David flowed out of a place that was familiar to him. Though he was weak and in pain, his instincts knew what to do. These ‘good instincts’ were formed in David through his partnering with God during all seasons of his life. David didn’t first learn how to encourage himself on this terrible day. He had learned this during the ‘normal days’ of his life.

We train ourselves every day by partnering with God. If we allow our minds to continually slip off what God says, we fall into the bad habit of discouragement. We can get prayer and be healed, but if we keep living in a pattern of habitual discouragement we train ourselves to be self-discouragers- undoing what God is doing in our lives. The way we react on good days and stress days is how we train ourselves to react when we are faced with a giant. The key is to train ourselves to be self-encouragers on good days.

Learn to kick discouragement:

We all need encouragement, every day (Hebrews 3:13), no exceptions. But it’s unrealistic to rely on people to encourage us. That’s why it is critical we learn self-encouragement. David encouraged himself in The Lord. He made a decision to set his mind on God’s love and faithfulness even when he felt God had forgotten him. He deliberately focused his soul (his mind, will and emotions) on God; remembered Gods promises and past victories.

Self-encouragement is not selfish. It is Godly. When David encouraged himself he enquired of God and heard God, and spread strength  throughout the whole camp. A broken army rose up under the catalyst of David’s self-encouragement in the Lord. These men defeated their enemies and rescued all their loves ones! When you live in self-encouragement you change atmospheres and are used as a catalyst for others’ victories. If David sunk into disillusionment with the rest of the army think of what would have happened? Good is waiting and heaven needs our partnership.

Train yourself. You can create your own weapons of self-encouragement:

1.Your EYES. Focus on God’s strength and power for your life. This adds courage to the heart. (Make your greatest goal to know His goodness personally. We must know His love by experience; another’s experience is never enough. David knew God, he had a history with God. He had invested everything into knowing God; his time, resources and his life.)

2.Your MIND is a tool. It either builds you or undoes you. Remember what God has done personally for you. Let your good stories rule and dominate your mind. We don’t have to pretend bad never happened, but that shouldn’t dominate our thinking. Philippians 4:8 instructs us to think about good things every day, not only when times are difficult. This does not mean we must set our mind on pretty sunsets and butterflies, but on the concrete goodness of God that is shown personally to us (and the world).

3.Your MOUTH. Thank God aloud for the good in your life. Our own tongues will stir up hope and encourage our hearts.

4.Your MOMENTS. Practice being in His presence as much as you can, not only in designated times with Him, but at other times too, (try this at the store, a sports game, at work; practice knowing His presence in ordinary places). We need to be self -encouragers while we live life and not only when we are in church or prayer. The Holy Spirit is our source of all self-encouragement. When we are hearing His voice during our day we are training ourselves to become aware of His encouraging voice above other voices. Excellent habit!

Tip: The Holy Spirit’s voice will always encourage you. He will never condemn you. He will always give you hope to move forward in your life. He will always flow in forgiveness toward you. He will always encourage you to do good and believe for greater and higher.

To learn more about Mandy, visit her blog at MandyAdendorf.com

Where We Belong

by Dawn Aldrich

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

“There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they’ll take you. Mine took me here…where I belong.” Beatrix Potter, the greatest children’s author of the 20th century, belonged at Hill Top Farm in rural England. She found inspiration and freedom to write about the many adventures (and misadventures) of her animal friends surrounded by beautiful, lush, rolling hills. It’s where she was most herself and where her passion as an artist flourished. 

We all long to find where we belong, don’t we? As small children we belong to a family. We live where they live, find our identity in who they are and take our rightful place in the birth order amongst our siblings. As we mature, we find everyone in our family is different. Our eldest brother likes sports and our middle sister lives for fashion while we find we are most ourselves playing the piano. We’re shy. They’re social. We like solitude. They like crowds. We’re most obviously different. And so, our journey of belonging begins.

In part, the journey can answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we’re first asked, we usually don’t have a clue. To some extent it answers “What do you like to do the most?” But more so, it’s a journey of the heart and soul.

Belonging, is knowing your purpose – doing what God created you to do – where your heart soars. It’s a place that feels like Paradise.

So how do you get there?

  •  Deal with your heart-wounds alone with God. Once you do, you can put the past behind you and move forward on your journey.
  • Surrender your passion, your deepest desire before God in prayer.  Ask God if what your passion is truly His desire for you. Most usually, His desires align with our greatest passions, but how we are to exercise our talents/passions needs to come into alignmenet with His will. This may take time listening to God and examining our own hearts.
  • Obey God’s leading.

Our passions make our hearts soar and create a place in this world where we belong. When we’re doing what God purposed us to do we’re welcoming the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth – a bit of Paradise.

What’s your heart’s desire/passion? How do you live it out? What steps are you taking to discover God’s purpose for your life or the life of your children? What’s stopping you?

To learn more about Dawn please visit our contributors page or visit Dawn’s New Day.

Standing Firm in the Shaking

by Julie

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for He who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23

I grew up in southern California where shaking is not uncommon. Earthquakes are a normal part of life. They are so normal that in school we had just as many earthquake drills as we did fire drills. When the ground shook it seemed like time stopped. Thirty seconds felt like an eternity. Panic striken as the shaking began, some wondered if this was “the big one.” My whole life I heard of the impending doom that there was an earthquake coming much bigger than anyone could imagine.

I reflected on how we responded to the shaking in our own lives. When financial issues pile up and our relationships grow more difficult, where do our thoughts go? When bigger things happen like losing someone we love or receiving a pink slip, where do we put our hope? Do we resort to anxiety and fear or do we put our trust in the One who is our hope? Do we react out of what our circumstances are telling us or do we ask for a heavenly perspective so God can show us what He sees?

It’s so easy to view our circumstances and let it shake us, but there is a better way.

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

This is not a suggestion but an invitation to peace.

In the midst of shaking we need to remember who God is. We need to remember that He is our rock and our deliverer,  our stronghold and our fortress. He is our home. In Him we are not shaken, destroyed or abandoned. Scripture tells us to stand firm and to remain steadfast. Why? Because God is much bigger than the shaking of our lives! When we hold fast to the hope we profess, we are saying that God is faithful is who He says He is.

What’s shaking you today? Won’t you accept God’s invitation to peace?

Always Choose C

by Rob Dunne

One year ago I lost my job. It has been a trying time that has required me to lean heavily on the Lord. At times I ask, “What can I do or what resources do I have available to help in this situation?” Every time I choose Jesus as my response; He proves Himself incredibly generous!

Examples of God’s faithfulness include $2,000 in Whole Foods gift cards, $100 in Stop & Shop gift cards, $500 cash in the mail and $4,000 cash. All of this was completely anonymous! In addition, our COBRA health insurance was paid for three months. While organizing our basement, I found paperwork from my old company indicating that I had a savings plan with $3,500 in it.

In Luke 9, Jesus sent the apostles out to preach the gospel and heal the sick. After returning, He took them to a deserted place for some rest. The multitude, starving for truth, managed to track them down. Ever gracious, Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed the sick.

Recognizing that the day was quickly ending, the apostles suggested that Jesus send the multitude away so that they could get dinner. In typical fashion, Jesus suggested that the apostles feed them. This situation was seemingly impossible. How on earth were they going to feed five thousand plus people?

When faced with a problem, often our response is to look at the resources currently available to us. For the apostles, they could a) buy bread to feed the five thousand or b) somehow feed the masses with five loaves and two fish. Completely lacking from their choices was option c) Christ.

The apostles’ response to the dilemma baffles me. Hours earlier, they had returned from a trip in which Jesus gave them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick. During a recent boating excursion across the lake, Jesus bailed them out by rebuking the wind and the waves. Curiously, they didn’t factor Jesus into the equation when He suggested they feed the multitude.

There have been countless times over the last twelve months when I was tempted to rely on my own resources to get me out of trouble. Though it has been difficult, I have worked hard to lean on God rather than trust in myself. As the numerous gifts attest, God feeds us with manna on a daily basis.

Are you facing what appears to be an insurmountable situation? If so, look beyond your resources and choose option c). Christ is faithful and will always come through for you if you allow him.

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