Tag: bible

His Encouragement: Psalm 37:3

His Encouragement: Psalm 37:3

Welcome, welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a small group of bloggers will each bring you a new Bible verse and a little discussion of hope and encouragement. We welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your daily verse as well.

We pray that these Thursday posts become a source of encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” — Psalm 37:3, ESV

Last week I ended with the first part of this verse: “Trust in the Lord, and do good…” so today I figured we can take a slightly deeper look at the verse in its entirety.

The first thing that popped out to me is the curious wording of the second part. “…dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” What does “befriend faithfulness mean”, I wondered. That is when I noticed the Bible I was using had a little footnote attached to the end, and the footnote read: “Or and feed on faithfulness, or and find safe pasture.”

The imagery that this phrasing brought to my mind was very reassuring. I was reminded of a video I saw not too long ago of shepherdesses in the desert of southern Israel who lead their sheep among the hills. At first glance, the hills appear to be barren; nothing but dirt and rocks; however, as you go closer you see tufts of green grasses poking up here and there.

Since there is not enough to eat in one place, each goat or sheep has to rely completely on their shepherdess’ knowledge of the landscape ahead. It is not a lush green meadow like we are used to seeing, but nestled among the dirt and rocks of those forlorn-looking hills is enough grass to nourish their little flocks… as long as the flocks keep trusting the shepherdesses and follow their leading. Nibble here, move along, nibble there, move along.

Notice that the beautiful promise in Psalm 37:3 is conditional? We too will “find safe pasture” and “feed on faithfulness” in the land we dwell in as long as we “trust in the Lord” and “do good”. We must let go of our need to control and rely completely on our Shepherd, the Lord, trusting that He will always care for us. We also must not neglect to obey His teachings about loving and caring for others, for doing good in the world around us. (See Micah 6:8; Galatians 6:9; and Philippians 2:13 for starters.)

We, like those little flocks, may not have an overflowing abundance of material wealth nor will we always avoid danger and trials, but we will have the most important thing of all: a Shepherd who protects us and loving guides us through the challenges to safe pasture.

Now it is your turn! What Bible verse is getting you through your day today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday:

His Encouragement: Psalm 147:3

His Encouragement: Psalm 147:3

Happy Thursday, dear friends! Welcome to His Encouragement. Every Thursday, a small group of bloggers will each bring you a new Bible verse and a little discussion of hope and encouragement. We welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your daily verse of encouragement as well.

We pray that these Thursday posts become an encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” — Psalm 147:3, ESV

There have been a lot of tragic events in recent days, weeks, and months both here at home and also around the globe. Throughout the Gospels but especially in Matthew 24:21-22, Jesus warned us that there will be times of great trouble and His followers will experience great challenges. However, it is one thing to read about what might happen in the future or hear about trouble happening in far-away places. It can be jarring when we see such trouble starting to take place around us, effecting our immediate communities and our families.

How do we cope with the tsunami of emotions that such traumatic events bring? Immense sadness at the loss of life, righteous anger at the evil behind it, and perhaps even fear and anxiety. If you are feeling any of these emotions or notice members of your family, especially children, trying to process the evil and sad events that are happening more and more frequently, do not try to walk this road alone.

First and foremost, take your all of your concerns and anxieties to the Lord in earnest prayer. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “…cast all your anxieties on him [God], because he cares for you.” Bear your heart to Him and let Him take your burdens and fears away. Because “…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) No matter what is happening, remember that God promises to “heal the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds“.

Claim that promise and hold on to it. Take comfort in the knowledge that this broken, sin-filled world is not our home and one day evil will be completely and utterly vanquished. Until then, as the psalmist wrote: “Trust in the Lord, and do good…” (Psalm 37:3)

Now it is your turn! What Bible verse is getting you through your day today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday:

His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for your Thursday

His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for your Thursday

Good morning, dear friend! And welcome to my inaugural His Encouragement post. His Encouragement is the brainchild of friends and amazing bloggers: Trisha of Joy of Reading and Nicole of The Christian Fiction Girl.

Lets be honest, the middle of the week can be a challenge. So every Thursday, a group of us bloggers will be sharing a new Bible verse and a little discussion of hope and encouragement. We welcome you to join the conversation by adding your daily verse of encouragement as well.

Trisha and Nicole decided on calling this series “His Encouragement” because our real source of peace, strength, and security can only come from Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, is our constant! We pray and hope that these Thursday posts become a real encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” — Psalm 46:10, ESV

The average modern life is filled with hectic activity, busy schedules, stressful situations. It seems society has trained us to need to be constantly doing something or we feel useless and under-productive. We run ourselves ragged trying to keep up a pace that is near impossible to manage. I am guilty of this and perhaps you are too. I long for a slower paced life, a quieter life, one with less outside obligations so I can focus more on my relationship with the Lord and my family.

That is why this verse means a lot to me. I have it posted at my desk at work so I can be reminded of its wisdom whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. “Be still and know that I am God…” No matter what challenging situation you may be facing today or this week, take a moment to just pause. Pause, be still, and remember that God is God, the Almighty, the Creator of the entire universe.

And, here is the real kicker, this most amazing and powerful God loves you, far more deeply than any love we can truly comprehend on earth. He really does cares about you and what you are going through! Nothing you are facing is too big or too small for Him.

So be still, take a deep breath, praise the Lord for His everlasting love, and ask for His peace to enter your heart today. He will help you through.

Now it is your turn! What Bible verse is getting you through your day today?

 

Bloggers participating in His Encouragement:

Review of “You Are: A book of declarations”

Review of “You Are: A book of declarations”

A little while ago I entered a giveaway over at Homemaking for His Glory. I have entered many such giveaways before so I did not expect to win anything. Imagine my surprise when I received an email announcing I was the winner! The prize?

A gorgeous, brand new board board called “You Are: A book of declarations” by Emily Assell over at Generation Claimed.

Yesterday the gift arrived in the mail, beautifully wrapped with a nice little note. I was quite impressed with level of care and thought given to the packaging. How cute is the thank you sticker? I love Generation Claimed’s styled logo and how she used it as a background on the paper itself. It is giving me so many ideas!

The prize I won in a drawing is Emily Assell's new board book You Are.

I was very excited to unwrap the book and flip through it. The book is sturdy and about 6 inches by 6 inches, so a really great size for little hands. The board pages are smooth and feels nice.

Cover of Emily Assell's You Are

Each spread has a powerful declaration and is accompanied by at least one Bible verse on that topic. The verse is carefully selected from various easy-to-understand Bible versions and translations. I love the idea of sharing the Lord’s promises with little ones as early as possible.

The artwork is simple, fun and features mother and baby animals. I know my little Peanut will definitely love pointing out all of the animals, especially since he is getting really good at word recognition. Yesterday morning while playing with his Little People toys, I would ask for a specific animal and he would bring the correct one to me.

All of the art in You Are is adorably precious, but here is my favorite spread:

 

Where to purchase

If you are interested in this gorgeous board book for your child(ren), grandchild(ren), as a gift, or for your classroom, you can purchase your own copy of “You Are: A book of declarations” for $9.99 (plus sales tax and shipping/handling) directly from Generation Claimed.

Buy yours today!

Raising children on the principle of love

Raising children on the principle of love

My husband and I are Christians, meaning we are followers of Christ Jesus and strive to live according to His teachings. We both grew up in Christian households that shared similar foundational principles and, as a result, our beliefs have shaped our worldview, guide our thought processes, and influence our actions on a daily basis.

Before getting married — and long before children entered the picture — my husband and I talked about our overarching ideas and plans for raising any future children we might be blessed with. But, as when many things, parenting styles, goals, and philosophies tend to be more abstract until a little one is actually present.

Then it becomes real.

Since becoming parents to our son, we have had numerous discussions on how to parent. Not just the when and how to discipline conversations, though it is very important for both parents and any additional caregivers (like grandparents) are all on board with the decided methods of discipline. No, we began talking about the far-reaching results — some might even say consequences — of certain parenting styles, attitudes, behaviors, etc. Then we compared our childhoods and our parents’ parenting styles with all of the positives and negatives we could recall.

Every time we had one of these deep, self-evaluating discussions, we found ourselves circling back around to very simple but crucial questions:

  • How do we want to raise our children?
    • What kind of childhood and home environment do we want to provide for them?
    • What character traits do we want to nurture in our children?
    • What kind of people do we want them to grow up to become?
  • What parenting methods would achieve these goals?

In continuing my exploration into the idea of a heavenly home, I will attempt to share some of our answers to the above questions.

First and foremost, the type of childhood we desire for our children is one of joy, love, laughter, and learning in a home environment that is warm and nurturing.

To achieve that goal, we decided that we want to raise our children on the foundation of love. Deep, self-sacrificing, understanding, patient, resilient, courageous, unconditional love as modeled by Christ Jesus.

Out from this foundation of love grows other important character traits, such as respect for oneself and respect for others. We want our children to grow up with an understanding that, in spite of their flaws and mistakes, they are precious, valued, and loved for who they are as uniquely individual human beings.

Their worth and self-esteem is not based on what they do, how well they do it, how much they succeed or achieve, nor based on the opinions of others. That does not mean we will not have expectations for them, but we want to give them realistic expectations that encourage them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

By extension, we want to instill in them a respect for others as precious individuals. We want to demonstrate this love and respect every day in our interactions with each other, with our children, and with those outside our family.

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8, ESV

We want to raise our children with the knowledge that God is love. We believe in a loving Creator who originally created this world perfect and intended for humanity to live perfect lives in peaceful harmony with Him, each other, and the nature around them. Because He is love, He did not create us as robots pre-programmed with a specific set of directives that must be followed.

He gave humanity the freedom of choice: free will. Because of free will, we each have the freedom to choose whether to love God and obey Him or not.

It is our hope that our children will come love God as we have but not out of fear or obligation or tradition. We desire for them to have an intelligent faith of their own and love God as a personal response to His love for them.

 “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19, ESV
From this love, they will choose to follow His example and apply His teachings in practical ways in their daily lives. All of the teachings of the Bible can be summarized in these two principles:

“And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:36-40, ESV

Next time I will share some of the specific character traits and values we hope to instill in our children.

Join the discussion

What are the principles that guide your parenting style and philosophy? What type of childhood are you aiming to give to your children?

Our children are watching: a response to hate

Our children are watching: a response to hate

Personal note from Jacquelyn: I have written and re-written this post a dozen times over the last few days. It is time to share it. I know this post is imperfect and, in spite of my humble efforts, cannot hope to grasp the entirety of the situation. Many books can and have been written on this topic! However, this is the coherent part of what has been weighing on my heart and mind over the last few days. (I have been a bit sleep deprived due to a teething baby.) My only hope is that it provides comfort and encouragement to those who need it and prick the hearts of others to take time to seriously re-evaluate their opinions and beliefs.

A response to hate

The violent and tragic acts of hate groups in recent days have deeply sadden me. It has taken me time to be able to put my thoughts into words. First, let me start by saying that my heart goes out to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a man filled with hate and evil, and all of those who were injured in the same attack. Heather gave her life standing up for what she believed in: that all people are equal and should be treated with respect. I also pray for the family and friends of Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates of the Virginia State Police killed in a helicopter crash while responding to the situation. They gave their lives while serving and protecting their community, fulfilling their duty and serving with honor.

Let me be very clear: anyone who embraces ideology steeped in hatred, intolerance, and violence is NOT patriotic. White supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazis… these people are pathetic COWARDS, filled with hate and fear — fear that they displace on others. Their contemptible words and vile actions reveal to the world that they have embraced evil.

We need to stand firm against hatred, fear, and intolerance. We need to stand for justice, equality, and freedom. However, remember that the world, the country, and our children are watching. We need to resist the temptation to return hatred for hatred, violence for violence, fear for fear. If we behave as they do and commit our own acts of violence against them, we become no better than the very groups we condemn.

We need to rise above knee-jerk, anger-filled reactions. The emotional response of anger itself is not necessarily wrong, but anger needs to be controlled or it will control us. We need to take the high road. Hard though it will be, we need to show compassion for hatred, peace instead of violence, love and unity in response to fear and division. Let us put aside arrogance and superiority, and start to esteem others as equals. Let us win with our words and actions, through our voices and our votes. Let how we respond lift up those who are downtrodden, encourage the discouraged, seek true justice, and show mercy towards the poor and vulnerable.

Our children are watching.

You CANNOT be a Christian (a proclaimed follower of Christ Jesus) and harbor hatred for others, especially whole groups of people based on arbitrary or imagined differences (skin color, ethnicity, religion, etc.). Let me repeat myself: you cannot be a Christian and a racist.

The Bible is very clear: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8, NKJV)

Christ Jesus Himself said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NKJV)

And He also admonished His followers: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:43-45, NKJV)

Our children are watching.

The Declaration of Independence, though written by flawed men, states a truth that is vital to be reminded of, especial at times like these: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

And I would like to add that among these unalienable Rights endowed by the Creator is the right of ALL people, especially those who have historically been marginalized and greatly mistreated, to respect and being treated as a valued human being. Native American, African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, Arab-American, certain minorities among European-American have all experienced turmoil in our country’s history (including recently), though some groups (such as the Native Americans and African-Americans) have born more atrocities, persecution, degradation, and disenfranchisement than others. Sadly, to this day many communities still struggle with the aftermath of bias government policies and social prejudices.

We need to admit that our country is not perfect and has made many mistakes… Some downright and absolutely horrible, such as the removal of native people from their lands, the enslavement of Africans, the internment of American citizens of Japanese heritage, and more. We need to stand firm on the side of Truth and Justice for ALL and move forward together to fix what is broken in our country.

Hatred and violence is learned. So is peace and compassion. Let me repeat: We need to resist the temptation to return hatred for hatred, violence for violence, fear for fear. How about we try leaving the world — or even just our small piece of it — a better place?

Our children are watching. What are our words and actions teaching them?

Our children are watching. What are our responses and reactions to times of great upheaval saying about our hearts and our characters?

Our children are watching. What legacy are we leaving for them?

Our children are watching.

Week of Gratitude: Day 7

Week of Gratitude: Day 7

Week of Gratitude – Day 7

I am grateful for the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath is a special time set aside by the Lord Himself at the end of Creation week as a sacred day of rest. It includes physical rest from our usual daily duties, but even more importantly, it offers a spiritual rest. A full twenty-four hour period, from sunset to sunset, to spend in time with the Lord in worship, prayer, study, and fellowship with family and friends. Discovering the Sabbath in 2002 completely transformed my life, and now I eagerly look forward to Sabbath each week. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Exodus 20:8-10a

Week of Gratitude: Day 3

Week of Gratitude: Day 3

Week of Gratitude – Day 3

I am grateful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To believe in a Creator God who not only made the world but continues to love and care for His creation brings me peace and comfort. He is also a God of justice and mercy; He risked everything to take the consequences of our sin on Himself in order to offer redemption to fallen humanity, and one day, when sin has run its course and revealed the ugly truth that the enemy had lied about God’s character, He will come to rescue the good, punish the evil, and remove sin from the universe forever. And there will be “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain.” Revelation 21:4

Make Happiness Your Habit

Make Happiness Your Habit

Make happiness your habit, nurture it daily.
Happiness.

Some believe that happiness is merely an emotion, a feeling, that can be easily influenced by outside factors. What if it can be a conscious state of being instead? What if we could nurture a happy, joyful, contented mindset?

Sure, there are times when we cannot help but be swayed by the things that are going on around us. Maybe you had a bad day. Perhaps your boss yelled at you or a project you worked extremely hard on was rejected. Maybe the kids are rowdy and not listening to you. Even in the midst of “life”, we can choose to stay angry, depressed, or moody or we can say: “No, not today. I’m not going to let this ruin my whole day and sour my attitude.”

It will not always be easy. The apostle Paul wrote: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Even when we face challenges and trials, we can overcome by not allowing these experiences to drag us down emotionally or render us anxious.

Isaiah 26:3-4 encourages us: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” And Jeremiah 29:11 promises: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

What a beautiful promise to hold on it! No matter what your life may look like to you right at this moment, if you trust in the Lord, He will take control and guide you to a future and hope. So what do we actually do?

There are many ways that we turn happiness from an emotional response into a habit. Here are just a few simple ones that we can start putting into practice right now:

1. Keep a journal and make a note of what makes you happy so you can see what events in your life are influencing your emotions. If certain things make you happy, try to do them more often. If certain things give you stress or anxiety, try to limit or avoid exposure to them.

2. Eat healthy and exercise. Following a nutritional diet, drinking plenty of water, getting fresh air, and doing moderate exercise on a daily or weekly basis helps our bodies and minds stay balanced. When our minds are balanced, we can handle stressful or difficulty situations more calmly and rationally.

3. Spend time with God every day to help fulfill your spiritual needs and desires. Doing a devotional, reading the Bible, and praying are all calming experiences that can ease tension, fear, and worry. When you relinquish the control and allow God to work in your life, not only will He change you but He may guide you in new ways you did not anticipate.

4. Help others by volunteering your time and talents. Many have realized that helping others cultivates compassion, but it also prevents the development of selfishness, which is often a major source of unhappiness!

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” I choose to make happiness my habit and nurture it every day. How about you?

Think on these

Think on these

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
-Philippians 4:8, KJV

I have created a word search puzzle featuring Philippians 4:8. The difficulty level is easy, though a more challenging version may be added later.

Download your free Philippians 4:8 Word Search now!