• zmi1-squished
  • zmi2-squished
  • zmi3-squished
shadow

Gifted To Give

 
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  
2 Corinthians 9:15
 

Gifted To Give

 

soup-kitchen-300x180Everywhere I look, I see the same message.  Every song, every sermon, every blog post, every article seems to shout the subject of giving. Well, of course, you say! It’s Christmas! No, it’s November 1. Doses of Encouragement are written and submitted weeks ahead of time so our incredible staff—editor Betty and uploader Janice—can make sure they appear in your inbox on time!

As I’ve journeyed with the Lord for some thirty plus years now, I’ve noticed a pattern in His teaching style with me. First, there’s the Word from the Word approach; next, there’s the Word from everywhere else approach; and finally, there’s the Word from the woodshed approach. Personally, I’d like to get the lesson BEFORE going to the woodshed! Therefore, my ears perked up as soon as the subject of giving became obvious. Maybe yours will, too!

The Lord asked me questions like this:  Do you embrace giving as an act of worship, obedience and faith? Or do you view it as generosity prompted by feelings of love, compassion or even obligation?

Think with me for a moment.

The problem with the second question is that feelings come and go with the wind!  You’ve had it happen, I know! One minute you’re ready to open up the coffers and lavish your most treasured possessions on one of your children. The phone rings. They answer. They give you the cold shoulder and BAM! No special gift for you, Sweet Thing!

How grateful I am that God’s love isn’t withheld because we ignore, embarrass or even disappoint Him. He has lavished His love on us and His love is spelled G-I-V-E! You know the verse—“For God so loved the world that He GAVE … ” He gave His best: Jesus. And we’re never more like Jesus than when we are moved by His Spirit to meet other humans in their moments of need.

The Apostle Paul commends the churches of Macedonia because they gave beyond their ability, of their own accord, and out of their poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Why is it that we so often struggle to give out of our prosperity, yet they gave BEYOND their ability AND out of their poverty?  That brings conviction to my heart.

Let’s not get so caught up in the merriment of this Christmas season that we miss real opportunities to respond to God’s indescribable gift through worship, obedience and demonstrative faith, which produce a wealth of generosity!

From my heart to yours,

Tami

When God Speaks: When Words Don’t Come

 
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
―Isaiah 55:11, NIV 

In the Scriptures, God expressed the fountain of His heart through prophetic scribes. Their writings continue to stand as a witness of His everlasting love and promises to humanity. Due to the faithful diligence of a few, the written Word of God speaks to and transforms the hearts of humankind to this day. This week, we’ll talk about hearing the voice of God through His Word and through the practice of journaling.

 

When Words Don’t Come

 

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me.” Habakkuk 2:1, NIV 

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAStaying in tune with God can be difficult. Especially when we don’t hear anything.

As I drove my daughter, who has Down syndrome, to an appointment, she listened to her favorite station through her headphones like she normally did. Before long, she huffed and began thumping on her radio.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She gave no reply as she continued to thump her radio in frustration.

“What’s wrong? Isn’t your radio working?”

“No.”

“How long has it not been working?”

No answer.

“Did it work yesterday?”

“No.”

“Did it work the day before?”

“No.”

“Did you wear your headphones at work anyway?”

“Yes.”

My heart broke.

After my daughter’s appointment, I stopped at the store for batteries, replaced the old ones in her radio, and drove her back to work. When I left, she was wearing her headset and was working to the beat of the music once more.

As I took my seat behind the wheel of my car, God whispered: “She didn’t hear anything, but she kept on listening. You should too.”

Once again, my daughter was the teacher; I was the student.

Day_5,_Photo_2,_Girl_in_PinkSometimes, God is silent. During those times, the temptation to change the channel is great. We want to remedy the situation ourselves: search in other directions, fill the dead air with the sound of our own voice or the voices of others, or simply “thump” in frustration.

Although the words of today’s text may not be the words we want to hear, they do give us some much-needed insight: Listen. Keep watch. Remain steadfast. Live in expectancy.

God will speak. He won’t remain silent forever. Although He may not rush in with His answer as quickly as I supplied the batteries for my daughter’s radio, His timing will be perfect.

So don’t grow weary and lose heart, my friend.  Keep. On. Listening. God’s words will come, and you’ll be dancing to the rhythm of their beat once more.

“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, 
for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” 
Habakkuk 2:3, NLT  

In His Love,

Starr

When God Speaks: Hold On for the Ride

 
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
―Isaiah 55:11, NIV 

In the Scriptures, God expressed the fountain of His heart through prophetic scribes. Their writings continue to stand as a witness of His everlasting love and promises to humanity. Due to the faithful diligence of a few, the written Word of God speaks to and transforms the hearts of humankind to this day. This week, we’ll talk about hearing the voice of God through His Word and through the practice of journaling.

 

Hold On for the Ride

 

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.”
 Psalm 55:22, MSG

Day_4,_Photo_1,_WagonAs a child, I loved to pile my favorite dolls and stuffed animals into my little red wagon, plop myself in the middle of them, and charm my father into pulling me around. It was a lot more fun than pushing or pulling someone myself.

“Hold on! Here we go,” he’d warn.

With his big strong arms and long strides, he’d lean forward pulling me up the gravel drive in my wagon piled high with toys. The ride was bumpy, but it only added to the adventure. When he turned at the end of the drive, I’d squeal, “Faster, Daddy, faster!” Then with the breeze brushing my face, I’d open my mouth wide and say, “Ahhhhh,” just so I could hear the vibration of my voice as the wagon bounced along the gravel.

The fun was always over much too soon―much faster than when I was the one doing the pushing or pulling.

When was the last time you were simply along for the ride? There are times when God requires us to participate in our circumstances, asking us to draw upon his strength as we push or pull through. At other times, he asks us to relax in the process and wait on His timing.

Positioning myself in the presence of my Father through journaling helps me to discern my role as I travel through rocky situations. To pause and write out my concerns as I lift them up to the Lord helps fix my focus on Day_4,_Photo_2,_CupHim as I seek the answers I need. As I read in His Word of His marvelous works and His love for me, I’m reminded that my trials pale compared to His unmatched ability to carry my load and pull me through.

If you’ve never tried journaling, are you ready to give it a whirl? Grab a cup of coffee or tea and find a cozy place to curl up. Then, with a pretty journal and your Day_4,_Photo_3,_Write_Journalfavorite pen, write away. After you pour out your heart, don’t forget to listen for God’s voice. Give Him time to speak. Pull out the Word or a cherished devotional. As you study, listen for key words that leap off the page, phrases that relate to what you’ve written, or a running theme. Above all, pay attention to the gentle tug of the Holy Spirit upon your heart. If you fail to get clarity or receive peace concerning your issue, continue daily to bring your petitions to God and trust in His timing.

Until then―hop in! There’s room in my wagon for you.

“Faster, Daddy, faster!”

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.”
Isaiah 46:4, NLT  

In His Love,

Starr