Friday, April 27, 2012

Words for Me

"Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up..." 1Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

"Are you a praying grandmother?" asked the young woman. Her name was Alicia.

"Yes," I replied.

"I just wanted to encourage you." She explained that after God heard her grandmother's prayers, God answered, rescuing the girl from danger and destruction.

I thanked and hugged her. Her sweet words brought tears to my eyes.

And then,  she said it again... "I just wanted to encourage you."

As I drove home from the meeting, the impact of Alicia's words hit me.

"I just wanted to" 

Alicia's words were for me. Not a generality. Not for the masses. They were personal. Specific words spoken at a specific time to a specific person. Me.

"Encourage" means to help, comfort, strengthen by consolation, to call for someone for aid, to exhort, to admonish.

While praying 1 Thessalonians 5:11 for our descendants, somebody's granddaughter encouraged me.

Allow these words to comfort and strengthen you today...God hears your voice (Psalm 6:9; 18: 6; 34: 6; 116: 1). And not only does God hear, God turns (bends down) His ear to us, and saves (Psalm 116). The psalmist responded with praise, thanksgiving, and commitment  (Psalm 116: 17-19). 

May we rejoice in the LORD, draw strength from His Word, and encourage one another.

And to Alicia's grandmother, wherever you are, because of your prayers...I was touched. For that, I thank you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Necessary Ingredients

Have you ever totally messed up a recipe you believed to be tried and true? I have.

As a young adult, I taught a five-year-olds' Bible class. One Sunday's lesson was "God's Word is a recipe book for our lives, and following God's recipe keeps us going in the right direction." I illustrated the lesson by making play-dough, using a simple recipe that included one optional ingredient...cream of tartar. Not knowing what cream of tartar was, or did; I opted to leave it out.

Unfortunately, I did not test the recipe first. As eager eyes watched, I dumped flour, water, salt, oil, and food coloring into the bowl. Much to my surprise, the unusable, messy mixture lacked cohesion! I discovered cream of tartar was a necessary stabilizing ingredient.

The following week,  repeated the process. With cream of tartar in hand, I explained that when you leave out part of God's ingredients, life gets messed up, just like useless play-dough.

Colossians 4: 6 gives us a three-ingredient speech recipe: "Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone." (Good News Translation.) Pleasant, interesting, and right are all necessary ingredients.

The first essential ingredient, "pleasant", translates "grace" in the King James Version, and means "gracious", "kind", "sweet". Every day drop generous amounts of pleasant, sweet words into your conversation bowl.

The next significant ingredient, "interesting", translates "seasoned with salt" in the KJV. Salt is used as a preservative, and adds flavor to food. Add flavor with life-preserving words that build up and encourage others, rather than tear down.

The third vital ingredient is "right". Speak words that are right, proper, and true according to the Word of God. Words of truth instruct and give wisdom. Right words yield hope, strength, and comfort (Psalm 119).

The psalmist David wrote, "I will be careful about what I do and will not let my tongue make me sin..." (Psalm 39:1). Begin each day by giving the Lord control of your tongue. Then combine the necessary ingredients to your conversation- words that are gracious, words that build up, and words that are true.

Cream of tartar is a necessary play-dough ingredient. God has given us a recipe for our speech. Making substitutions or omitting one of the pleasant, interesting, and right ingredients will not produce beneficial conversation.

Our Father God in Heaven, daily may we surrender our tongues to You. Please remind us to speak words that encourage and build up others. Use us to speak words that are kind, true, and give hope to those who are weary and discouraged. In the sweet Name of Jesus, the hope of the world...amen.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Prayer

Our Father God in Heaven,

We thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. We rejoice that Jesus is risen and reigns forever!

Help our grandchildren to comprehend your great love. May each one confess that "Jesus is Lord" and believe in their heart that you, God, raised him from the dead. May they all call upon your name and be saved, and live the abundant life that you have promised. In the name of our risen Savior I pray...amen.