Discover Encouragement and Determine Reality

sticky-notes-1159958Discussing Discouragement

Lack of progress. Politics. Stupidity. Illness. Aging. Unemployment. Failure.

These things continuously discourage me. If I dwell on them too often and too deeply, I become depressed. Before I reach that point, though, I try to focus on what Scripture says about encouragement.

My visits usually begin here:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9)

If we focus on remembering God’s activity in our lives, on what His Word tells us and on His promises, we too receive encouragement from the Lord just as Joshua did.

Discovering Encouragement

sticky-notes-1159969God gives us encouragement in countless ways. We choose to be a part of it simply when we accept it.

Encouragement from God comes through…

  1. Prayer, scripture and progress. (Psalm 138:3, Romans 15:4 & Philippians 1:6) Prayer gives us strength to live as God desires and refocuses us on the encouragement He offers. God’s word offers encouragement through stories, guidance and hope. And the progress He works in us keeps us motivated for continual growth.
  2. Remembering. (Joshua 24:16-17Do you regularly remember what God has done in your life? Scripture certainly sets that as a necessary pattern for the lives of men. Through it, we see that God never changes, and that certainly is encouraging.
  3. Reflection in our eternal hope and our position in Christ. (1 Peter 1:6 & Philippians 2:1-2Think about what the Bible says God has in store for us. Exciting and encouraging, right? Plus, belonging to Christ encourages in a profound way as we regularly experience God’s grace and mercy.
  4. Through visible faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:7)
    How often does seeing another person’s faith in action encourage you? The reverse is also true. Look around!
  5. Through other Christians. (1 Thessalonians 4:18, Romans 1:11-12,
    1 Thessalonians 5:11, Acts 14:21-22 & Hebrews 10:24-25
    We can help each other refocus on eternity. We can gather regularly encourage one another through faith. Encouragement also comes as we strengthen and motivate one another.

When you are encouraged in these ways, doesn’t it feel like anything is possible? That’s kind of the point, actually.

Determining Reality

sticky-notes-1159963When I seek encouragement because I feel sorry for myself, I’m always disappointed. Doing so just focuses me more on my own discouragement and cultivates depression.

When I let God encourage me, I’m never disappointed. When I purpose to encourage others, I’m also always encouraged.

Focus determines reality, after all. When I seek out encouragement, I focus on myself. When I let God encourage me and when I look to encourage others, I focus outside of myself. One results in regular discouragement, the other growing encouragement.

Wondering where to start? Not sure how to specifically live this out?

Begin with what encourages you. Do that to encourage someone else. Sure, everyone is different, but we’re a lot alike too. Plus, as the old adage goes, it’s the thought that counts.

How to… Live Grace

What comes to mind when you read these words:

2-4-13 grace

Perhaps a song came to mind. Or maybe you thought of the prayer many of us say before each meal. Maybe a verse like this one came to mind.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Chances are, though, that you didn’t think of perfume. Yet, these words – amazing grace, living grace, pure grace, and inner grace – each give name to fragrances from the company philosophy.

The ad for their newest fragrance, living grace, says,

2-4-13 grace 2

While I don’t appreciate their lack of capitalization, I do appreciate their tag line for living grace. I also like the idea of wearing grace as a scent, though I have not personally tested these fragrances and do not know if I like their particular scents. But I like the idea of smelling like grace.

The Ancient Romans had three different meaning for the word “gratia” from which we get our word grace. For them, “gratia” could mean:

  1. A pleasing quality – something you have or don’t have
  2. Favor or goodwill – something you give or get
  3. Gratitude or thanks – when you have something to be thankful for

These three meanings for the original Latin word for grace get at why I like philosophy’s idea of living grace. If we can connect with what grace truly means, if we can learn to live grace, our aroma will be pleasant to others.

God’s grace – His unmerited favor – really incorporates all of these meanings of the word, and it gives us the foundation we need to live grace in our own lives.

How, then, are we to live grace? Not only do the above scripture describe our God of grace and the qualities He possesses, they also give us direction for how we to can live grace in our own lives BECAUSE of His unmerited favor.

  1. Accept His gift of grace. It’s a gift; you can’t earn it. This truth is essential in order to live grace.
  2. 2-4-13 grace 3Be slow to anger. Learn The Logic of Patience and keep Battling the Unbelief of Impatience.
  3. Be abundant in loving-kindness. Start by deliberately looking for ways to Instantly Make the World Better.
  4. Be abundant in truth. Take Every Thought Captive to the truth.
  5. Get wisdom and understanding. Learn How to… Develop Wisdom and focus on understanding.
  6. Take time to think. Learn How to… Develop Good Judgment that will help you think clearly.
  7. Develop self-control. The only way I have found to do this is by the increasing of the fruits of the Spirit in me.

At the end of Genesis 8, just after getting off of the ark after the great flood, Noah built and altar to the Lord and made a sacrifice to God. The NIV says in verse 21 that “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma…” God then went on to promise He would never curse the earth again.

I desire for God to say that about my sacrifices too, and I want my sacrifices to result in God’s blessings. And while I can wear perfume that smells pleasing, that even smells like grace, I know that it is my purposeful obedience to live grace that is truly a pleasing aroma to the Lord.