Encouraging Yourself in the Lordposted on August 31st, 2012 / by Celeste Barnard / 10 Comments
There are very few things more harmful than to expect from another human being what only God can supply.~Ken Davis
Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know what I’m talking about. Your kids know what I am talking about. Let me start off by telling you about my morning. Actually, let’s back up a few days.
First day of school. I was over prepared (so proud). We left way early. Everyone was at peace. Day two was about the same as day one. I had pre-packed their lunches the night before. I laid out their uniforms. I packed their P.E. clothes in their backpacks. I put their names on their water bottles for P.E. I knew what I was making for breakfast and had all the ingredients needed to make pancakes. Day three was pretty good.
Then came today. Day Four. I should have done a laundry load with uniforms, but I didn’t. I should have gone to the grocery store the night before, but I didn’t. I should have purchased my sons uniform shorts like I was going to–but I didn’t. I should have at least pre-packed lunches (then I would have realized our food shortage) but, you guessed it, I didn’t! And as you can only imagine, I had one of those mornings!
I awoke (thank goodness I had my quiet time or who knows how bad it could have been!). I quickly realized we were out of milk for cereal and eggs for, well, eggs. My pancake recipe called for eggs, so that didn’t work. I was out of fresh fruit, so I resorted to yogurt. Complete with pre-teen attitude and all: “Ugh, yogurt mom?” Yes, hunny, yogurt–eat it! (Of course, said in love. Ha!)
My eight-year-old son Joel was wearing shorts that obviously were not his size and came near his ankles, but luckily, a belt kept them intact. I then decided to rummage through the dirty clothes to find his one pair that sort of fit (suck it in baby!). Then comes the assembling of the lunches. I always put in five items: drink, fruit, small sweet item, chip, and main item like sandwich. Today, I wasn’t out of everything (thank you Lord!) but I did have to make Nutella sandwiches & peanut butter and jelly, which I’ve already done this week and we’re only on day four (and also comes with no shortage of pre-teen attitude, “A sandwich again?” God bless her).
So finally, 8:00 comes and we are ready to run (literally) out that door. We heard the train and that’s never a good sign because that means we have to wait an additional 7-10 minutes if the train is coming. And wouldn’t you know it, but as we opened the front door (no joke) it started raining cats and dogs (not literally). What’s worse, my van is old and both (yes, both) of the door handles are broken off of the kid’s sliding doors.
Stay with me here. We were nothing short of a comedy scene for the average observer! So thankful God isn’t posting this one on Youtube! The kids ran out. I also ran out to click unlock on my key ring, and then run back in to look for their rain jackets. The kids ran back in, and I ran out and yelled, “it’s unlocked, go!” But usually they have to climb over the driver seat to unlock the sliding door to the back- let’s just say, we were all a little wet and frazzled by this point! And just like Humpty Dumpty, it felt as if my morning had come tumbling down. And then as I drove, I said, “wow, what a morning!” My kids didn’t even need to say a word–their silence was loud enough. Then I prayed for their day as I always do on the way to school, but included myself in that prayer today.
So, back to my original question, have you ever had one of those mornings or one of those days? I think we can all answer, unequivocally, shout it from the rooftops–yes! Unfortunately for Humpty Dumpty, there was no one that could put him back together again. But fortunately for us, there is! I know for some of us we have days where we would like to hide under a rock, and just see if we could start all over again tomorrow.
But I want to challenge you today, just as I have had to challenge myself. What if instead of crawling under a rock and just ‘hoping’ tomorrow gets better, what if we crawled under The Rock and put our hope in Him?
Psalms 18:2- The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalms 31:2- Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Truth is, we all go through stuff, whether self-inflicted or others-inflicted. We are humans, imperfect, living in a fallen world. I am not here to show people that I live a perfect life, because I don’t. I am here to show people I serve a perfect God who is more than able to meet my every need. I know sometimes when we’re going through something our first impulse is to look to people to meet those needs. We scour the blogs, Facebook, and Twitter searching for something to hold on to. And don’t get me wrong- God uses people. I believe God uses their writings and scriptures posted as a source of encouragement, but I also believe God would want us to look to Him for ourselves (not always depending on other people). That we would know for ourselves, not just because of someone else, but for ourselves, that we would taste and see that the Lord is good and that He truly is who he says He is.
Hebrews 5:12- You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s Word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.
Please know my heart here. I am preaching to the choir. I know me (okay, that sounds weird!). I know that I can be prone to pick up the next big book, or the next best Christian this or Christian that. I wonder if God ever looks down and says, “Okay Celeste, just let Me know whenever you’re done looking to everyone else for advice, I’m here.” I believe God has blessed us with an abundance of amazing tools to ‘help’ us in our walk like teachings, blogs, books, and articles. And I will always be a fan–always.
But the question I have for you today is this: what is your source? Or, better yet, ‘who’ is your source? At what point will we seek Him first for guidance, wisdom, direction, and ultimately peace? And usually, if we seek Him first, we see different things throughout our day that confirms what He’s already spoken to us, whether it is a scripture someone’s posted or an article that really hit home.
Matthew 6:33- But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Right there in God’s Word, BUT SEEK HIM FIRST.
I am going to tell you something that might shock you, so listen closely. You are just as able to hear from God as a pastor or someone in an area of ministry. True story. Before you decide to throw out all of your Joyce Meyer CD’s and stop going to church, listen: as the body of Christ we need these people, and we need each other. Ephesians 4:11- Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers (and we could add writers, bloggers, etc.) Why, do we need them you ask? Ephesians 4:16- He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. So, in a nutshell, in order to be healthy and growing, we will always need each other. But don’t ever discount your ability to seek the Lord for His encouragement, guidance, and direction for yourself.
Ok, let’s get practical here because I’m a practical girl who needs practical steps! These are just some ways to hear from Him on your own.
1) Time- Set side time each morning to spend with Him.
2) Location- Have a spot where you always keep your quiet time essentials so your not wasting time on gathering items.
3) Reading plan- Whether it’s a one-year Bible, or a book in the Bible you want to read all the way through (there are many reading plans online too). The point here is to have some direction in your quiet time.
4) Study- There are many study helps out there that help us if we are unclear what a particular passage means. Online, Bible Gateway is one of my favorites. A commentary is used right alongside your Bible. If you’re not sure who wrote the book, or the date, or unsure of the meaning, you can usually look it up in a commentary. This just helps to have deeper meaning of the scripture.
5) Record your journey- Have a pen and journal handy. If a certain scripture pops out, write it down. Thank Him for His Word for you that day! Sometimes it helps to have a journal to reflect back on the journey.
6) Pray- Talk to Him about your needs and the needs of others. Just be real. He already knows us even better than we know ourselves!
7) Worship- I like to put on praise and worship and just sing to Him. It’s amazing what happens when we just let go and give Him the glory, thank Him, and love on Him for a bit. Invite His presence.
8) Listen- Sometimes I will just sit there after talking and be still. We need to shut the world out and get quiet before the Lord. There have been times when He comes in and just fills me up with such a peace. It takes practice to quiet our hearts before the Lord, but He will bless that time.
9) Meditate- If you like me had your quiet time and still had a rough morning, it is ok. Find scriptures to chew on throughout the day. Write down scriptures that remind you of God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness, God’s promises. His Word is powerful and as we meditate on His Word, it changes us. His Word changes our perspective and the way we view things.
These are just some suggestions of ways that you can hang out with Him and hear from Him. There is no set formula, no wrong or right way. He knows our hearts. I am desperate for Him and for more of His presence. I want to be a person that runs to Him when I’m feeling anxious or nervous or insecure (or if I’ve had a bad day). I want Him to be my portion; my more than enough. I want to cultivate that seeking of Him in my own life. If you’re like me, hungry and thirsty for more of Him, just know that He has promised us that if we seek Him, we will find Him. If we get in the habit of seeking Him first, everything else will just be confirmation.
Are you done drinking the milk yet? Rumor has it there is plenty of meat to be had!
Lord, I thank You for the many people You have gifted in the area of speaking and writing and encouraging. What amazing gifts they have! But I do pray that You would help us to seek You first before always running everywhere else, and that You would teach us how to find our encouragement in You. I pray that You would open our ears to be able to hear from You. Help us to set aside time to cultivate our hearts towards You and the things of You. Let us grow in wisdom and understanding of Your Word. We will thank You Lord for Your peace, for Your presence, for the power Your Holy Spirit in us. We love You Lord! We are hungry and thirsty–fill us up with more of You and less of this world. Thank You that You are our Rock and our refuge–and it is You who puts us back together again. Amen
Isaiah 45:19- I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.