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Encouragement for Today
devotions for everyday living
By Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries
All rights reserved.
Don't Despise the Small Stuff
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
What seems small in your world? By small, I mean that place where your vision is grand but your reality isn't. Is it your influence? Your opportunity? Your business? Your ability to give? Your ministry?
Look at that small place. What do you see?
If what you see is less than encouraging, might you take the bold step of looking at it again? Because hidden within that smallness is a gift—one that will yield wisdom you can't get any other way. If you look closely enough at what seems small in your world, you'll begin to see how "deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom" will create something new in you.
This small place in your world is where humility is birthed. Humility is that glorious and rare quality that doesn't take too much credit. Humility knows real success is laced with heavenward glances, bent knees, and whispered praises to the One. The only One.
He who gives.
And He who withholds. Not out of spite, not out of ignorance, not out of deafness, and certainly not out of comparisons in which others are found to be more deserving. No. He withholds out of protection. With loving restraint, He withholds the big to protect the hidden workings of the small. The small we should not despise. It is in these humble places where we experience the quiet nurture, the holy unfolding, the deep stirrings that draw us closer to the heart of God.
Soon, the soul must choose: haughtiness or humility.
If that soul has never tasted small, it will never develop a humble palate. It will crave only big, until it is so full of big that being big inflates and distorts and never satisfies.
But for the soul that has dined on what is small, humility becomes the richest fare. The taste that satisfies. The thing most desired to be consumed. All things humble will eventually be made great.
Oh, the beautiful gift of small!
There is great delight in knowing the truth about what small really is. Small isn't a belittling of one's calling or a diminishment of one's future. It's simply a place—a grand but unnoticed place. A place we need to protect and remember because it keeps all things big in proper perspective.
Small isn't what keeps us from our grand vision. Small is what keeps us for our grand vision.
Dear Lord, help me to embrace the small. I want to see with Your eyes what You have planned for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
This small place in your world is where humility is birthed. Small isn't what keeps us from our grand vision. Small is what keeps us for our grand vision.
When in the past have you "dined on what is small"? How did it feel in the moment? How do you feel about that experience now? What have you learned? How have you grown?
Choose one thing today that you will do "small." Fold and put away your husband's laundry. Bring your boss coffee. Pull your neighbor's trash to the curb. Whatever you choose, ask the Lord to increase your taste for the "small" while you're performing it.
Proverbs 22:4; Psalm 37:11
Lord, I Want to Know You
Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
(PSALM 9:10 GW)
I had heard great things about LeAnn, but I didn't really know her until we worked together. And the more I was with her, the more I discovered traits I admired and enjoyed—especially her dry sense of humor and unique way of making people feel noticed and loved. As our friendship deepened, I also learned LeAnn was dependable—something I discovered only when I needed her help and she came through for me.
I've found my relationship with God grows in a similar way. Whatever I may know about God, I won't really know God personally until I spend time with Him and depend on Him. I learn to trust His heart by interacting with Him and experiencing His character in personal ways.
The book of Judges features a fascinating story that illustrates how this same dynamic happened in the life of a man named Gideon. No one expected much of Gideon, including Gideon himself. He belonged to a weak tribe and described himself as the least important member in his family (Judges 6:15). So it was not surprising that he was somewhat skeptical when the angel of the Lord appeared to him, called him a mighty warrior, and announced he would defeat a powerful enemy army. At this point, Gideon only knew about God. He had heard of God's faithfulness in other people's lives, but he didn't know God personally.
Asking for a sign that it really was the Lord talking, Gideon obediently set out a meal of bread and meat. When the angel touched them with the tip of his staff, fire flared from the rock on which the meal sat, consuming the food. Instantly, Gideon realized this individual was indeed the angel of the Lord. "Alas, Sovereign Lord!" he exclaimed, "I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!" (Judges 6:22).
Gideon was terrified. Immediately, the Lord said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die" (Judges 6:23). Then "Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace" (Judges 6:24). God revealed His character by demonstrating His power and by giving Gideon peace. Now Gideon not only knew about God, he knew God personally.
Just like my relationship with LeAnn has deepened as I've gotten to know her better, my relationship with Jesus has grown over time. I've come to love Him more as I've experienced His unfailing love for me. I've learned to trust Him as I've gotten to know His heart and His character. And it's much easier to trust someone I know.
One way to know God better is to focus on one of the Bible's names for God. For example, if we want to know God as our healer, we pray to Jehovah Rapha and ask for the healing we need—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically. If we want to know God as our provider, we pray to Jehovah Jireh, ask Him to meet our needs each day, and then look for His provisions.
We will grow in our relationship with Jesus and our confidence in Him will deepen as we live in this promise: "Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help" (Psalm 9:10 GW).
Dear Lord, I want to know You by name and experience the fullness of all that You are. Help me trust and follow You more and more each day. In Jesus' name, Amen.
We learn to trust God's heart by interacting with Him and experiencing His character in personal ways.
What captivates you about God's names?
Keep a list of God's names with you to remind you of who He is.
Proverbs 18:10; Genesis 22:13–14; Judges 6:24
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (ROMANS 15:4 NASB)
We were out of options the day the sheriff 's car pulled into our driveway. After a series of unfortunate events, things had gone from bad to worse to hopeless.
The officer's smile did nothing to relieve the discomfort of this dreadful moment. As she handed me the papers, I began to cry. Acknowledging the baby in my arms and the toddler peeking out from behind me, she kindly said, "I'm sorry."
"Thank you," I whispered, as I slowly closed the door.
I read through the official documents. Elaborate legal terms, laws I didn't understand, and words in bold letters conveyed the dreadful news: "You must vacate the premises within thirty days."
It was unwanted and unavoidable. It felt shameful and embarrassing. It launched our family into an aching process of letting go.
The carefully painted mustard-yellow walls: I would miss them. How would I survive without the afternoon play dates with my neighbor and her children? And what about all those economical hot dog dinners my husband and I ate so we could save just a little more to buy this home?
Any hope I had left faded fast. Hope wasn't something I could muster on my own. I knew I needed access to a greater hope—the kind of hope the apostle Paul describes: "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4 NASB).
During this devastating season of broken dreams, I needed the deep, historical roots of hope the Bible offers. I could find hope because Abraham and Sarah found hope by believing God would give them a child in their old age (Genesis 15, 17–18). I could find hope because Ruth and Naomi found hope by trusting God would provide for them after they lost their husbands (Ruth 3). I could find hope because Mary and Martha found hope when Jesus raised their brother from the dead (John 11).
As I closed the door to our home for the last time, I accepted this place of brokenness. But I also made a choice to find hope no matter what. I found hope when my daughters excitedly explored our new rental home. I found hope when my mom cheerfully helped unpack our boxes. I found hope when my husband's heart drew closer to mine through this difficult experience.
Hope is at the core of our faith in Christ. As we allow His hope to flow into us, it will flow through us even in the most difficult circumstances. If you are struggling today, take heart. Look back at those in the pages of Scripture who had hope. Allow their hope to give you courage and hope for your future. Hope heals our broken dreams.
Dear Lord, thank You for the hope You give me to heal the broken places in my life. I ask that You would give me the strength to find hope today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
When life's broken places lead us to Jesus, ultimately we will find hope.
Why do you think it is so challenging to find hope in the midst of our dark circumstances?
If you are feeling hopeless, reach out to a friend or two. Ask your friends to share an experience in which God gave them hope.
1 Peter 1:3; Romans 5:5
Into Her Pain
"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him." (LUKE 10:33 MSG)
My friend was suffering. She didn't have to say a word; I could see it all in her eyes: I need someone to crawl into my pit with me. I need someone to help me out of the pain.
I felt a lump in my throat as she poured out her grief. Circumstances had beaten her down and left her emotionally half dead on the side of life's road. Obvious quick-fix phrases darted across my mind: Time heals all wounds. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. God's timing is perfect. I recognized them for what they were—a way to ease my own discomfort and bypass her pain.
"But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by" (Luke 10:31 NLT).
I didn't want to disrespect my friend with a walk-by—stepping over her pain with thoughtless words. Words withheld are better than careless words. Clichés offer no comfort. Be still. Listen. Administer mercy.
"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him" (Luke 10:33 MSG).
Comfort comes from a still presence, a listening ear, a merciful hand. Comfort couples the truth of God's Word with merciful deeds. Comfort answers the call to step into the pit.
"He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable" (Luke 10:34 MSG). The Good Samaritan loved with what resources he had.
My friend's healing journey began that night as we sat together and she poured out her pain. I didn't have much to give her, but a simple offering from a willing heart is capable of great things. I listened and administered mercy. "You will learn to trust again, to believe in goodness again." Later, others offered counsel, covered her in prayer, and spoke words of truth. Together, we tucked arms under our friend, lifted her up and out of the pit.
Excerpted from Encouragement for Today by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer. Copyright © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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