True Positive: Day 21 – Encourage Others

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Are you an encourager or a discourager? The word “encourage” means to give strength to another person. The root word, “cor” is the Latin word for heart. When we use our words or actions to sincerely encourage others, we offer strength for their heart. Let’s be honest, this world is full of sadness and hurt, and most people are hungry for an uplifting word or a kind acknowledgement.

James M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan wrote, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.” It’s true! When we take the time to honestly and specifically build up another person, we ourselves are strengthened and uplifted. Yet, if we use our mouths to grumble and criticize, our personal joy is diminished. Let’s be builders, not destroyers!

Solomon said, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” How will you use your words today to make a positive difference in the life of another person?

Pick a Few and Get Started!

 

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When I was a young girl, my parents took us to Barnhill’s Restaurant in Akron, Ohio. It was our favorite place to eat dinner because the entrance of the store was filled with barrels and bins of every kind of candy you can imagine. After dinner, our parents would give us a little money to spend on candy, and we had a blast figuring out how we wanted to spend our money. It was overwhelming! How do you choose when there are so many options? Well, that’s the way you may feel about choosing Bible verses and passages you want to memorize. There’s so many good rich passages that it’s hard to know where to start. Yet if we want our minds to be filled with the beautiful truths of God’s Word, we need to choose a few passages and begin the process of committing them to memory.

Last week, as we examined healthy self-talk, I mentioned I would share with you some of my favorite verses. These are verses that I recite by memory every morning. I encourage you to begin keeping your own personal list of passages that will help you replace negative thoughts with positive truths from God’s Word. You will see that I use different translations for different passages. Generally, I like to memorize in New International Version, but sometimes I will memorize in New Living Translation or English Standard Version. Here’s the list of my daily seven:

 

 Psalm 37:23-24 (nlt)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.

He delights in every detail of their lives.

 Though they stumble, they will never fall,

for the Lord holds them by the hand.

 

Psalm 62:5-8

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,

for my hope is in him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress where I will not be shaken.

My victory and honor come from God alone.

He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.

O my people, trust in him at all times.

Pour out your heart to him,

for God is our refuge.

 

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

 

Ephesians 3:16-21

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Psalm 23 (nlt)

The Lord is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me

in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord

forever.

 

Hebrews 10:23-25

 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

2 Peter 1:3-4 (nlt)

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

 

 

Perhaps you liked some of these verses. I know they make a difference in my thinking –  changing defeat into hope and fear into strength. I encourage you to find verses that will encourage you and commit them to memory. For practical tips on memorizing Bible verses, check out Becoming a Woman of the Word.

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Healthy Self Talk

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What are the voices that tend to creep into your mind? Maybe it’s the voice of fear that whispers, “What if ……happens?” Or perhaps it’s the voice of self-doubt which scolds you and says, “You’ve made so many stupid mistakes – you can’t do anything right.” Maybe it’s the voice that continually beats you up in your brain sniveling, “You’re not smart thin enough, you’re not good enough, you never do enough.” The voices we hear come in many forms and fashions, but we don’t have to allow them to grow into weeds and overtake our minds. Instead we can pull them out by the roots and replace these thoughts with the seeds of truth.

Whether we are weeding a garden or weeding out the negative thoughts in our brains, we can apply the three R’s: Recognize, Root out and Replace. It’s amazing how quickly a weed can grow in our minds without us even realizing it. When it comes to the real flower garden in front of our house, I literally think weeds pop up overnight. Given a few days, and some of those pesky plants can grow to become the size of small trees! So we must be vigilant and alert, recognizing weeds at the point when they first appear. The apostle Peter wrote, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).”

It’s inevitable – doubts, discouragement and lies will pop into our heads. How do we recognize them? We need to take a moment to consider our own personal reoccurring thoughts – the ones that seem to grow in our own garden. For me personally, I struggled many years with self-doubt in every area of my life, from my physical appearance to my capabilities to even my relationships. I first needed to recognize that these were unhealthy and destructive thoughts. They were doing more harm than good. Often we grow comfortable with our fears and doubts, and fail to identify them as weeds. We must recognize that they are not based on God’s truth, and have a negative drain on our lives. These negative thoughts also prevent good seeds from growing.

Stop for a moment and consider, what are some of the destructive voices you are allowing to grow in your mind? Once you begin to recognize your own personal brain-weeds, then it is time to root them out at the core. If you have ever tended a garden you know that if you just whack weeds off at the surface level, then they will return. We must dig them out from the roots! For me, at the core of my self-doubt was really the doubt the God loved me. I didn’t believe that He created me for a purpose and had equipped me with gifts and talents. It was time to weed out the deep roots of doubt.

What is at the root of the negative voices that pop into your head? Dig deep for a minute and consider the core. Dealing with the root system of the weeds in your mind, allows you to dig them out and then turn in a new direction. We must replace the old ugly weeds with healthy, vibrant truth. Where do we find that truth? The Bible reveals that God is love. His very nature is love. He is good, and He is faithful. He is able to do all things. Oh what powerful and life-changing seeds we plant in our brain when we know God’s word! I recommend choosing at least one verse to memorize in order to help you crowd out the weeds that want to grow in your mind. Ask God to lead you to just the right verse to help you.

Next week, I will give you some of my favorite verses which I have memorized to help me plant seeds of faith and strength in my mind.

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This is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women  on sale this month for $5!

How Deep is Your Faith?

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When the Robersons moved into a house not too far from ours, we were thrilled.  It’s always fun to have dear friends living close by, and especially if they give you their trees. Let me explain. You see, they didn’t like the landscaping around their house and wanted to get rid of a few Savannah holly trees. Being the kind and thoughtful friends that we are, we volunteered to take the trees off their hands and plant them in our own yard.  Wow, what a deal!  Free trees!  We found just the right spot for them.  Our house backs up to a pleasant little creek, and so we planted them near the creek to enhance the beauty of the area. Five lovely Savannah hollies lining our creek! We were so proud of ourselves.

The water in our creek tends to rise when we have a rainstorm, and boy did we have a gulley washer one night right after we planted those hollies. On the morning after the storm, we woke up and looked out our window toward the creek. Hmmm, we wondered, what were those large holes in the ground? Wait a minute, and where were our hollies? Three of them were completely gone! Yes, swept away! We had another storm soon after that, and guess what. The other two were swept downstream too. Oh well, easy come, easy go.

Now if the hollies had been given the time to take root in the ground they may have stayed around, but since they were newly planted there was nothing to hold them in the ground as the water rose and the current flowed. If you have ever watched flood waters rise, then you know the strength and power of the water’s current.  It will sweep away anything and everything that is not deeply rooted or firmly founded in the ground. In a moment, large objects can be swept away and carried for miles downstream. The same is true with the flow of life and the current of our culture.  If we are not deeply rooted in the truth of Christ and the assurance of His love, we can easily be carried away by the latest philosophies or our own whims and feelings.

There is a constant flow of ideas that “sound right,” and “seem good” in our culture today. But we must know The truth – God’s truth.  Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31,32).” As we hold to God’s teaching and are rooted and built up in Him, then we will be free from the pull and drag of man-made rules and fine sounding philosophies. Here is Paul’s encouragement to the Colossians:

 

Colossians 2:6-8

 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

 

No more shallow Christianity! Let’s be intentional about letting our roots grow down deep into Christ as we study His word and get to know Him. We don’t want to be guided by the latest fads or our finicky feelings. When we get to know what the Bible has to say about Christ, our faith is made strong to weather the storms of life and discern the philosophies of our culture. Take some time to read God’s Word for yourself each day.

 

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from Karol’s book A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.

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Chasing Happiness

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Spring in Dallas just doesn’t make sense to me.  On any given day we may have a freeze warning at nightfall and 80 degree temperatures by the very next afternoon.  It’s crazy! They say if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just stay around for a couple of hours and it’ll change.

One March morning several years ago,  I stepped outside to get the newspaper and was hit with blizzard-like conditions. Well it may not have been that extreme, but it was one of those take-your-breath-away cold fronts that felt like a blizzard to this thin-blooded Southern girl.  By mid-afternoon of that very same day I was sitting out in the garden reading and enjoying some good ole Texas sunshine.

Personally, I love to be outside and love to read, so when I can find the time to enjoy both it is a happy afternoon. On this particular spring day, my personal reading agenda was the book of Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible.  Written by the apostle Paul while he was a prisoner in Rome, one could easily assume Philippians would be a real downer of a book.  On the contrary it is quite a delightful and uplifting read. In fact, the theme of joy sort of oozes through the pages from this unlikely author.

As I relaxed and tried to picture how Paul could possibly write such a positive message from a prison cell, I glanced up to see a white butterfly dancing around our garden. It was amusing to watch this fluttering creature touch a flower here, then off again to another flower there, then here, then there, then back to where it started again. It never stayed in one place for more than a few seconds as if it were pursuing something it would never find. Just as quickly as it appeared in my garden, it was off to the next field of flowers.

Observing the illusive dance of the white butterfly made me think about how illusive life’s pleasures can be. Just like this flitting creature, I realized how easy it is for me to flit, flutter and fly from one activity or person to another trying to find sweet nectar to satisfy my longings for significance and joy. I’m guessing you have felt those same feelings a time or two as well. The pursuit of happiness is common to us all.  The question is where does the chase stop, or does it? Are we fooling ourselves into thinking that there is something out there that will enrich our being and fill the hunger of our souls?

The irony of my butterfly encounter on the Spring day in Dallas, was that I was sitting there reading a book which highlights enduring qualities which transcend shifting circumstances and fleeting feelings. Paul (yes, from his prison cell) described a resilient joy, a consistent contentment and a peace which passes all understanding in his letter to the Philippians. Unlike the flitting butterfly, Paul taught the early Christians how to experience a true satisfaction of the soul.

So we must ask ourselves, “Does God call us to pursue happiness or to pursue Him and His purposes in our life?” I am convinced that our pursuit of Him leads us to experience a heart full of joy and true contentment as we live out His purposes in our lives. I want to encourage you to read the book of Philippians this week and consider what God teaches you about Himself.

“To seek God is to desire happiness; to find him is that happiness.”

Augustine

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This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. The DVD is on sale this month for $5. Click Here for more information.