Monday, October 12, 2015

3 Points of Encouragement

Well, I've missed another A+A post, but with good reason!  It is again postponed for another week--at least.  This past weekend was the start of the first two performances of Lucifer's Lies: Plenty of Time.  And it's been a great couple of days.  Aside from some mic issues, the performances went rather well, and we had a great turnout for the reservations.  If I had to guess, I would say approximately 1200 people have now seen our "world premier" of this drama.  :]

I wish to request your prayers for this ministry, dear friends!  The cast and crew of this production need strength, courage, and energy to pull this off.  Our hope is to plant the seeds of the gospel and allow God to work from there.  If you could pray that the cast will remember their lines, places, and props, and that the backstage/lighting/sound crew will have no difficulties whatsoever, I would be in your debt.  Thank you, dearies!

Well, moving on. . . Earlier this week I was asked to prepare a brief devotion for the cast and crew Friday evening, as is custom among us to uplift and encourage before our group prayer time.  And while I was typing it up, I decided it might be good to share with you all here.  A great deal of thanks goes to Evan for his encouragement as I tried to figure out what in the world I was going to talk about.  Needless to say, I was a little down and stressed because I didn't know what I had to offer.  But his prayers and encouragement helped more than he may ever know.  

And yes, it's a lousy title, but I didn't have time or brainpower to come up with something--er, creative, or catchy. . .

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3 POINTS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

          There are three different points I wish to share with you today. And in them, I hope you find encouragement.

          First, in living each day for Christ, we need to look past the suffering.
          If you have kept up with the 40 Days of Prayer (a daily email sent to church members) as I have tried to do leading up to this drama, you will know that today marks Day 40. And of them all, today's devotion hit close to home for me. I don't have the time to read it all right now, but in it we were reminded of the many prayer requests affecting a good number of our cast and crew, which were closely followed by the amazing praises of answered prayer. However, all too often we dwell more on the suffering and sorrows of this life than on the blessings. In doing so, we give the Enemy far more credit than he deserves. Yes, he may have had a hand in our trials and troubles, but we know how this battle ultimately ends, and more importantly SO DOES HE. God is in control. And I believe it's time our focus was kept solely on Him.
          Scripture says to “Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. Carefully consider the path for your feet and all your ways will be established. Don't turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” (Pro. 4:25-27) If we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, those blessings come to the forefront and we find the strength and courage to press on amidst the suffering.
          I love this Jewish proverb that says, “I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders.” Our prayers these days should be for strength to stand for our God in this fallen world.
          In 1 Peter 4:16 we are encouraged in that “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (NIV) When you accept Christ as your Savior, you gain a new name. Maybe not one that goes on your legal documents, but a new name nonetheless: Christian, which essentially means “little Christ.” This is probably our ultimate calling. You may serve as the only image of Christ that your friends, family, or co-workers will ever see in this lifetime.
          Here's something else to ponder: “What if you woke up tomorrow morning with only the things you thanked God for today?” That serves as a great reminder, at least for myself, to never take for granted the little things in this life that I have been given.

          My second point is this: Spend your days in ceaseless prayer.
          Now, this is not to say that we should be on our knees all day long, though there is absolutely no wrong in that. To me, ceaseless prayer is beginning the day with a brief word of thanks to my God, with perhaps a specific prayer request for how the day will go, and strength to live it for Him. But instead of closing with a typical “Amen,” I leave it open and add to that prayer as I go about my day.
          In Ephesians chapter 6, we find the challenge to put on the full armor of God. But those verses continue in saying “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV) And Romans 12:12 puts it rather simply, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful (or persistent) in prayer.” (NIV) But I can't say it any better than Max Lucado, who writes “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”

          And finally, as Christians, I believe we are called to live fearless.
          Here's a little fact for you: The phrase “Do not be afraid,” is found in the Bible (respectively) 365 times. This is a daily reminder that God wishes us to live every day FEARLESS.
Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (ESV) And in chapter 56, verse 3, we find “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
          If we can learn to count our blessings more than our sufferings, clothe ourselves in prayer and, like the Proverbs 31 woman, in strength and dignity, then we can “laugh without fear of the future” and rest in the knowledge that this battle, both physical and spiritual, is already won.

Photos via Pinterest.
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Thanks for reading!  Hope you have a delightful week.

Happy Monday!

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3 reflections:

Blue said...

These are excellent points. Timely, too. Thank you.

Nightingale said...

That is such a beautiful and encouragement devotion, Sarah! Thank-you so much for sharing it with us! God has definitely just used your words to meet a need in my life. So again, thank-you!
I am praying for you and all of your church during your performances. "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on {you}; establish the work of {your} hands for {you} — yes, establish the work of {your} hands." Psalm 90:17
Love and prayers,
Risa

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Blue: Thank you! I am so glad you think so. It gives me pleasure to know God can use me to help encourage others in their walk with Christ.

Nightingale: Thank you, dear girl! It is my absolute pleasure. So glad to hear this has encouraged you. You are always in my prayers! And thank you for your own. Love ya bunches!! <(^-^)> <3