Overcoming Discouragement

“Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14

I get excited when I think about God’s calling on my life. Don’t you? To think He has chosen us to do specific work that He designed just for us—for our unique personalities and abilities. It can fill our hearts with joy.

So why is it that we so easily become discouraged? Sometimes the littlest things can bring us down and plant seeds of doubt in our minds. Did I hear God right? Does He really want me to do this? What if I mess up? What if I fail? Do I really have what it takes?

I’ve asked myself all those questions this last month. And every one of them threatened to stop me in my tracks.

That’s what discouragement has the potential to do—get our focus off our God-given goal and render us useless.

Discouragement is a temptation to give up. It takes courage to move forward—to strain toward what is ahead—when what is ahead is difficult or frightening or unknown. And that courage comes from our faith in the Lord.

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Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:13-14 above is given after many years of pressing on through immense hardship and suffering for His devotion to Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 he mentions prison, floggings, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, treading water in the open sea, constant moving from one place to another, dangers from nature and dangers from people with evil intent, hunger, thirst, nakedness, hard work, and sleeplessness.

I look at this list, and I am humbled. It takes so little sometimes to get me down.

But Paul did not let any of those hardships keep him from pressing on toward the goal of completing God’s call on his life. There is no doubt he was tempted by discouragement. How could he not be with all he went through? He is an inspiration to us all when we face our own discouraging feelings.

Even greater than Paul’s example are his specific instructions on how we too can overcome discouragement and keep pressing on with God’s work. He encourages us to…

Pray, Be Alert, Be Thankful

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:18

Put On God’s Armor and Stand Firm

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:10-11

Do Everything for God’s Glory

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17

Trust God to Do His Work in You

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen!” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Trust God to Supply Everything You Need

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Trust God to Give You Strength

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

Trust in God’s Sufficient Grace

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Trust God to Work Good Out of Every Situation

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Trust God to Show You What to Do

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Give Your Worries to the Lord – Rejoice in Him

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7

Focus on God’s Truth and Promises

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

If we follow these words of wisdom, we should be able to carry on in the work the Lord has called us to do, even when we face hardships or obstacles that threaten to take us down, including our our doubts and fears.

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When the pressure of discouragement threatens to overwhelm you, press on with the sure Word of God’s overwhelming love and grace.

I’ve prepared a PDF printable of these scriptures, just to have for easy reference. If you’d like to have a copy for yourself, you can download it by clicking the link below. And the next time you start feeling discouraged, pray through these verses and ask God to encourage you with His truth.

Using Scripture to Overcome Discouragement (PDF)

Using Scripture to Overcome Discouragement

Do you have certain scripture verses that help you? How do you overcome the temptation to give up or stop working when discouragement comes your way?  Please share your answers in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

Precious Father, thank You for all Your promises and Your faithfulness. Thank You that You are working in us and through us by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us, Lord, when we face feelings of discouragement to keep pressing on in the work You have called us to do by placing our trust in You and relying on Your strength and provision. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra

 

All Scripture from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Image by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Discouragement, God's Works, Success, Thankfulness, Trust, Uncategorized, Work

Five Minute Friday – {fill}

“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

 

I need you, Lord. Show me my wayward self.

O God, fill my heart…

…with Your love

…with Your truth

…with Your peace

…with Your direction

…with Your amazing grace

…with humility

…with obedience

…with hope.

Lord, You are speaking. Fill my ears to hear Your voice.

Lord, You are here. Fill my eyes with Your perspective.

Lord, fill me with You and empty me of me.

All for Your glory.

In the holy name of Jesus, Amen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” — Psalm 139:23-24

 

Praying the Lord will speak to Your heart today and fill you with all His goodness.

Blessings,
Sabra
 
Joining Five Minute Friday today with Kate Motaung and friends at
the link below. We write for five minutes--raw and real--no 
editing. The word for this week: fill.

 

All Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.

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Filed under Five Minute Friday, God's Presence, Grace, Healing, Humility, Love, Prayer, Self

Could You Use a Nap?

“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” – Mark 6:30-32

 

When I read Michael Hyatt’s blog post “5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day,” I was elated.

Finally–statistical research that validates my desire to nap.

I’ve taken Sunday afternoon naps as long as I can remember—on God’s ordained day of rest. But napping every afternoon always seemed too self-indulgent…lazy.

Now, it seems a nap might actually be beneficial to our work, as long as we do it for the right reason and apply safeguards to keep from napping too long.

I’m a morning person. So I set my alarm for 5:00. This is my most productive time, so I try to schedule accordingly. By early afternoon, though, my energy level drops, like some wind-up toy that slowly winds down until it gives out. Not good when there’s more to do than time to do it.

Do you ever feel this way—sluggish and sleepy?

Could it be that taking a 20-30-minute nap every day could be just what the doctor ordered? Oh, say it’s true!

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Michael Hyatt’s research supports this. But does God’s Word?

Proverbs 6:9-11 says:How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” I often use this passage to remind myself not to be lazy and it seems to speak against sleep during the day.

But Proverbs 6:6-8 gives more of the picture: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

This tells the difference between being lazy and being productive. A nap, taken in this context, would only be sinful if the purpose is to keep from doing work. But if a nap is for restoring energy and alertness to be more productive, it would be beneficial and, therefore, not sinful.

Taking an Afternoon Rest

Song of Songs 1:7 mentions sheep that rest at midday. This sounds like a nap to me. And God’s Word often calls us sheep.

Then in Mark 6:30-32, Jesus tells His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” They had just told Him about all the work they did, so this rest followed a productive time.

So, taken together, these verses suggest hard work should be followed by rest to renew our energy and be refreshed…and not only at night.

Thanks for Naps

To nap right, though, we need some guidelines…

  • Work hard first
  • Lay down in a quiet place
  • Give thanks for the work you’ve done and ask God to refresh you
  • Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes
  • When the timer goes off, get up!
  • Give thanks for rest and ask God to bless your work
  • Refreshed, go get busy again

God’s Word doesn’t say we must rest each afternoon. But when those dragging moments come, it’s nice to know God provides a quick way to rejuvenate.

A rest following hard work allows more hard work to follow.

So what do you say? Could you use a nap?

Dearest Father, thank You for providing the ability to work and time for needed rest. May we be faithful to serve You and Your purposes in both. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
 
All Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Napping image by Meredith Bernard at www.meredithbernard.com. Used 
by permission.(Thanks, Meredith!)
Other images by Sabra Penley.
 

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Filed under Rest, Work

Cheering for You!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

 

My friend Meredith called me a great cheerleader the other day. It made me laugh.

You see, in high school, the cheerleaders were the popular girls. The ones who could do splits and flips and jumps. The ones who seemed to have rhythm in their every move–who always looked so cute in their little purple and white uniforms and pony tails. They were the ones the guys always paid attention to, and they were always front and center.

Next to the cheerleaders I felt small and insignificant. They were the ones most teenage girls compared themselves to…and silently wished they were.

I’ve never been able to do splits or flips or jumps. And I’m more known for klutziness than rhythm. You’d never find me in one of those little uniforms (not then, and especially not now). Staying in the background is my comfort zone, and that’s often where I’ll be.

Me…a cheerleader?

I knew Meredith didn’t mean that kind of cheerleader. But the thought was funny nonetheless.

Thumbs Up

Thinking more about it, Hebrews 10:24-25 came to mind. For indeed, we are all called to be cheerleaders…to encourage one another in our walk with the Lord.

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We as believers are to support each other as we tackle the difficulties of this life and the work God has for us to do. Sometimes we cheer each other on from the sidelines, and sometimes we encourage one another in the middle of the action ourselves.

We need each other. We’re all in this together. We’re a team.

100_6176So, yes, I’ll pick up my pom-poms and cheer on my brothers and sisters as we fight against our opponent in this world and seek to be victorious for the Lord.

But I won’t just cheer. I’ll put on the player’s uniform as well and get out there and fight the good fight myself. Only then can I know how best to cheer the players on and encourage those in the stands to do their part.

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Sometimes I’ll be on the field and need encouragement. Sometimes I’ll be on the sidelines, cheering you on. And other times I’ll be in the locker room getting instruction and motivation from the Coach. But no matter where I am, my heart will be for our team—Jesus’ team!

Prayer CircleI’ll not be timid, sitting in the stands all alone, not paying any attention to what’s going on in the game. I’ll be a part of it–in whatever way, at whatever time–player, learner, cheerleader. All for His victory and glory!

So my fellow cheerleaders, are you ready for action? Let’s pick up our pom-poms, put on our uniforms, and get busy encouraging one another to live for the glory of the Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank You that we don’t have to fight this fight alone. You are with us always. And we have each other. Help us to be supportive, to cheer each other on and do our part as we press on to bring You glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 

Cheering for you today!
Sabra

Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley

A BIG THANKS to my sweet brothers and sisters at Lamar Baptist Church in Arlington, TX for their patience with my picture-taking. They were so kind to hang around after choir. Not all the pictures were blog-worthy or needed. So, here are some of the others. (Photography is definitely something I need to work on!)…

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Don’t Wait Too Long

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12

 

How could I have lost sight of it? That life can change in the blink of an eye. One moment all seems well. The next? Something breaks your heart and sends you reeling.

He was fine. Nothing out of the ordinary–his usual begging, whining, ploys for attention. How did we not notice?

He behaved a little strangely at first–laying in places and ways he never did before, his constant down and up, being away from where we were. But he suddenly plopped down, and I knew. Something was really wrong.

When I saw his almost lifeless body as my son picked him up and placed him in the car, I knew in my heart we would be coming home without him.

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He was just a dog…I know. But he was so much more to us. A faithful companion—a part of the family—for twelve years.

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As I tried to process what had suddenly happened, it struck me hard that we never took him walking on that trail we talked about. And now we never would. And as I looked through his photos, why were there so few of him with us? We had a lot of him alone, but where were the photos of our family with him? It was too late now.

Yes, in the blink of an eye, life can change forever. 

And when faced with that change, as we try to wrap our heads around what just happened, we think of things we wish we had done. Maybe things we had planned…maybe things we thought about doing…maybe a conversation we’d been putting off. But the reality sets in that we will never be able to do them now.

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Oh, how God is working to teach me this lesson! My Dad’s death, my husband’s life-changing illness, and now my sweet dog, Jerr-Bear. Somehow I keep forgetting.

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Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

We never know how much time we have with the ones we love. So let’s determine to do those things that are important now and not put them off for another day. Another day may not come.

God’s Word tells us that there is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). But we don’t know how long those seasons will last. That is for God alone to know. We must, therefore, strive to live each day to the fullest and always let others know how much we love them.

Don't wait too long to do what's

So spend time together. Take those pictures. Have that conversation.

Don’t wait too long…do what’s important while there is still time. For we don’t know how many days we have.

Sovereign Lord, thank You for the time You give us with those we love. Help us to cherish every precious moment. Give us wisdom to do what’s important with them now, while they are still with us, for only You know what the future holds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Change, Enjoy Life, Expectation, God's Timing, Lessons, Love, Relationships

How to Thrive, Not Just Survive

Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” – John 7:37-38

Do you feel drained, like your energy and strength has evaporated, and you wonder how you’ll get through the challenges of the day? Maybe you’re going through a difficult period in your life, and it’s taking more out of you than you ever dreamed. Would you like to know how to have renewed strength and not just survive, but thrive?

Drink water.

That’s right. We all need it—a lot of it.

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Without water our bodies can’t function. We slow down. It becomes hard to think straight. We get weak and our emotions get the best of us.

Oh yes, we need water.

Recently my daughter and her friend—both beautiful twenty-somethings—were singing the praises of drinking three liters of water a day and the smoothing effect it had on their skin. Feeling like a dried prune next to them, I thought, “I really need to drink more water.

Water. Oh, no! Suddenly I remembered I had forgotten to water the plants on the patio that morning. Not good. We’re in melting season here with afternoon temps close to 100. I was afraid when I got home my plumbago would be well-wilted. If I don’t water it every morning, the heat of the day causes it to wither and those beautiful blue blooms close up and fall to the ground.

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Sounds a lot like me some days–when life weighs heavy and I start to wither. I feel drained of energy, lifeless. I close up and whatever was beautiful in me falls off. It’s in those moments I realize I need more water…the Living Water. I need Jesus.

Oh, how we need Him—a lot of Him–throughout the day.

While plants can usually make it okay with a morning watering, we need more. Our bodies must be replenished with water all through the day to function properly and flourish. And in the same way, our spirits need to drink in the Living Water throughout the day to not just survive, but thrive.

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We know our daily quiet time with the Lord is vital to our spiritual health. But to stay vibrant and able to withstand the pressures of the day for God’s glory, we need a constant refilling of His life-giving water.

Here are some ways to drink in more of Him throughout the day:

  • Stop and pray.
  • Read, listen to, or quote Scripture.
  • Write down thoughts of what God is teaching you.
  • Be still and take time to enjoy His presence.
  • When He reveals something you need to do, do it.
  • Pray constantly—through all your activities.

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty for God. Drink Him in throughout the day.

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So how about it? Will you join me in a new commitment to drink more water, both for our bodies and our spirits?

Precious Lord, some days are just difficult. So often we press through trying to make it on our own and we end up drained, with nothing left to give. These are times You remind us how much we need You—the Living Water. Fill us, Jesus. Help us be faithful to drink in more of You and stay strong and vibrant…all to Your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible.
Images by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under God's Presence, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Overwhelmed, Prayer, Strength, Transforming

Why Wives Need to Unstop the Fountain

You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon. — Song of Songs 4:15

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My sisters, doesn’t it make you feel great to hear your husband call you a sweet name? To tell you how much you mean to him? How would you like to hear him say something like these words from Song of Songs…

“How beautiful you are.”
“How delightful is your love.”
“You have stolen my heart.”

I imagine all of us love to hear words like these from our husbands. They might not say it like Solomon, but isn’t it always a blessing to hear our husbands say we are delightful and beautiful? When they tell us how wonderful we are? When they whisper those sweet everythings in our ears?

These words are like a fountain that flows right into our hearts. And you know what? Our husbands need these refreshing words as well.

So, is your fountain flowing?

Today I have the blessing to guest post for a sweet friend, Meredith Bernard, on her blog http://www.meredithbernard.com. Please join me over there and read this post in full.

Simply click here: “Why Wives Need to Unstop the Fountain”

Hope to meet you there!

Blessings,
Sabra
Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Image by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Blessing, Doing Good, Encouragement, Grace, Love, Marriage, Wife, Woman-to-Woman