January 1, 2021 Word of Encouragement

Post by Dyane Forde

Featured Image by Ben White on Unsplash

I just finished reading a YouVersion devotional called “Meeting With God” (see link below). I love Day 6. It talks about prayer and how Christians sometimes try everything except prayer, when they face problems.

An explanation about why this is came to me while I was reading: we don’t pray because we don’t believe God really cares for or hears us, or we fear He won’t answer. Taking the latter point further, maybe we fear that when He answers, we won’t like His response.

During these extremely difficult times, it’s easy to feel defeated, discouraged, even helpless. The world is on edge, and we may be fearful for the future. I have been on vacation from my work as a social worker these last two weeks, but my subconscious has been fighting back waves of stress and worry about going back to work next week. I feel dread and anxious. I’m worried. But deep down, I know that God has me there for a reason, which means I have a purpose there. My struggle is to trust that He will carry me through whatever I will face upon my return. To do that–to grab hold of His strength and to deepen my faith in Him–I must pray.

In truth, regardless of what we think or feel, God is true. He is the Lover of our souls, and He works on our behalf for our good.

I hope these words encourage and support you, if you are struggling with something in your life. Let’s trust God today. As His children, let’s cry out to Him. Let’s pray to Him today.

Blessings!

The Nature of Freedom

Opinion by Anna Jensen

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]. (Galatians 5:1, AMP)

Over the last few months, governments have exerted their authority in ways unfamiliar to many of us, citizens have taken to the streets in protest at the curtailing of their rights, pent up frustration has led to disorder and chaos, questions have been asked and hearts have been searched. My own response has been to question the nature of true freedom a little more deeply.

Paul declares in Galatians that, “Christ has set us free, completely liberating us” from the law of sin and death. However, in his letter to the Corinthians he also explains that, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (1 Corinthians 9:19 NIV).

True freedom, then, is when I have all the rights and freedoms of a child of the living God—no government, friend, or enemy can steal them from me— and yet, in order that others may come to know the Jesus who has completely saved and liberated me, I can choose to lay them down in favour of another.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13 KJV).

True Freedom

Poem by Anna Jensen

Free to—

live large and loud

      laugh rambunctiously

Spread wide, enlarge far.

To dance wild and run fast,

scale heights

conquer mountains

capture sunrise.

Bask in summer’s warmth

       play in spring’s promise.

To do or don’t

To touch or not

To speak with bravery of conscience

Free to— 

tread softly

                 leaving little more than silent footprints

To sit beside

    to wait, to hold

Or wipe a wayward tear.

To gather close beside your autumn heart

be still in winter’s pause.

To do what brings you calm

bestows peace

        offers hope

Or simple reassurance.

To be, for you, 

a refuge and a comfort

        a boundaried place of safety

A friend who lays down freedom

in preference to yours.

About Anna Jensen

image002

Jensen is a British ex-pat who has lived in South Africa for nearly as long as in England. Under its wide-open sky, Jensen writes in response to a call from Jesus to “write what she sees in a book.”  Her first book, The Outskirts of His Glory, was published in May of this year.

Contact Jensen at: Website, Twitter (@annalouj) and Instagram (@annaloujens).


For more inspirational content, please visit our Spotlight Blog and visit our Magazine Issues page to download your free copy of Lost Pen Magazine.

Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond

Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond 

by Faith Rogers

photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

During this difficult season, many people have been launching their brands, starting a business, investing, studying for exams, writing books, or just growing in God. All of those ventures are wonderful. However, fighting to get back up when you feel discouraged is difficult. Many people look at the results of their efforts and begin to rethink their choices. Some begin the task and then fear convinces them they will fail. If that is you, trust me, you are not alone.

Keep Moving Forward

There are times when the past looks more appealing than the effort of moving forward. New ventures are not for the faint of heart. There are times when hopelessness creeps in. However, remembering that what we are called to do is bigger than us and that we are not just working–our work will be a blessing to others. There is an audience waiting for you.

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV.

Discouraged but Don’t Quit

There are many successful individuals who have struggled to achieve their goal. The emotions of being discouraged or the thoughts of quitting crossed their mind, too. However, when God births an idea within, he will provide the means that will lead to prosperity. When you are following him, trust his plan because he will never leave nor forsake you. It’s not always easy but that’s why communicating with him is important. If you are battling with whether to give up, talk to God first and follow his leading.

Below are some ideas that may help you if you feel discouraged:

  • Meditate on God’s promises
  • Don’t forget why you decided to make that particular
  • Put on worship music, and rest in God’s presence
  • Share what you’re feeling or experiencing with those you trust
  • Wait for God to guide your footsteps 
  • Ask God to lead you to Godly mentors
  • Know that it’s ok to feel what you feel

Reasons to keep going

When we do all these things, God gives peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that He will give clarity and guidance to you about what to do next. You may not see the results you want but keep going in order to glorify God. I also pray that He gives you strategies and resources. Trust the process and know that the results will grow. 

Another important point is that we have to put in the work to become knowledgeable about our God-given assignments. When we commit our plans to the Lord they will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). He never said when, but He said they would bear fruit. He is with you and has already gone before you. God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change His mind. God always keeps his promises (Numbers 23:19 CEV).

About Faith Rogers

Faith Rogers is an assistant teacher who loves working with kids. She is a lifestyle blogger and aspiring author. Rogers is the youngest of three children in a family of five. She loves spending time with her family and sharing God’s Word to enrich the lives of others. Visit her website for more.

Inspirational Post: The Remedy for Discouragement

Photo by Rod Long (Unsplash)

The Remedy for Discouragement

by Nicole Byrum

It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic Christmas movie loved by many for the last seven decades. I hadn’t seen it for quite some time and enjoyed watching it with my family this past holiday season. It was the first viewing for both my kids (then 11 and 8), and I was so happy they enjoyed it. For those who may not be familiar with it (or if it’s been a while), the story begins by introducing Clarence, the angel who will intervene in George Bailey’s life. Clarence, eager to earn his wings, is told by God of a man in need of help. He responds by asking God if the man is sick. God answers, “No, worse. He’s discouraged.”   

That answer resonated with me. Nobody enjoys experiencing sickness of any kind, and being downtrodden in spirit is a particularly terrible woe.

Discouragement is defined as, “A loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.” How does this happen? What is it that leads us into this barren state of being? 

Often, the culprit comes in the form of unmet expectations or not making progress with our goals despite great effort. Discouragement can creep its way into every aspect of our lives—financial, relational, occupational, spiritual, emotional, and physical. And while people experience discouragement to varying degrees, they share one central theme: a loss of hope. 

For instance, we lose hope of mending a relationship, that our bank account will be sufficient, that our ailments will be healed, or that we will find purpose and fulfillment in life. We even lose hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God. When there is no perceivable light at the end of the tunnel and all seems lost, discouragement takes root within us. Such was the case with George Bailey. He could see no hope for the future and came to believe it would have been better if he had never been born. This demonstrates the ultimate depth of discouragement.  

The voice of discouragement yields destruction by breeding doubt, uncertainty, and fear. If you have experienced these effects, know you are in good company, for so did John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas.

John the Baptist was the man who announced to the world, “Behold, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He was the man who proclaimed he was unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandal straps. And it was he who held the Son of Man in his arms as he heard the voice of God and saw the Holy Spirit. While in prison, this same man became discouraged, and he doubted. He asked the disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). Those words could only have been spoken out of deep uncertainty and despair. 

joshua-earle-yi6dvuynEuo-unsplash
Photo by Joshua Earle (Unsplash)

In the wake of Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter, the disciple who had boldly declared he would always stay by Jesus’ side, denied him three times. Although Peter loved his Lord and was devoted to Him, he failed to grasp Jesus’ real reason for coming to the world. Peter hoped that Jesus would overturn the Romans’ power to gain freedom for the Jews. He did not comprehend that Jesus had come to offer something better—freedom from sin. When Jesus did not resist arrest by the Roman guards, Peter’s discouragement—triggered by unmet expectations—led him to fear for his life and to deny his Saviour.  

While Jesus was dead and buried, His followers were left in the throes of discouragement and angst. Despite the prophetic words Jesus had spoken about His return, nobody expected an empty grave. Upon hearing of the resurrection, Thomas stated he would only believe if he were to touch Jesus’ hands and side. Again, bitter discouragement prevented belief.  

Have you felt the same? Can you relate to George Bailey, John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas? I think we all can. Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us:

 

“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.” (NIV)

 

Nobody is immune to discouragement and its ugly effects. And while discouragement may be inevitable, there is a remedy: hope and grace. 

Lexico defines grace as “the free and unmerited favour of God.” In other words, it is freely given and completely unearned. Instead of a harsh, condemning lecture, Jesus responded to John the Baptist by saying to his disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:4-6). 

Then there was Peter. I can’t imagine the anguish he felt the day Jesus was crucified. When he denied Jesus, he must have been consumed by unbearable guilt. How the tears must have fallen when he heard the rooster crow! What ran through his mind at the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection? What did he feel? Joy? Hope? Most likely. But I’m sure there was also a terrible sense of anxiety about facing the One he denied. Perhaps he expected Jesus to say, “Peter, how could you?” or “Didn’t I tell you that you would deny me?!” Or maybe worse: “Peter I want no part of you.” Instead, Jesus simply asked if he loved Him exactly three times. For each denial, Jesus gave Peter glorious and gracious redemption.   

What was His response to “Doubting Thomas?” Jesus could have ignored or chided him for his lack of faith. But when He appeared to Thomas a week after his resurrection, He said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” (John 20:27). Jesus honoured Thomas’ request. We aren’t told what Thomas did next, only that he said, “My Lord and my God!” Undoubtedly, Jesus’ grace strengthened Thomas’ faith for the rest of his life.    

And what about us? Amid our discouragement, Jesus invites us to lean hard into His infinite grace. When we’re swimming in the waters of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, He extends the same grace to us as He did to our brothers in Christ discussed above. His grace increases our faith and restores us from the valley of guilt and shame. His grace bids us to love Him and to trust His promises. His grace is forever sufficient.    

 

sea-2777839_640
Photo by hpuppet (Pixabay)

Finally, true and lasting hope extinguishes the flames of discouragement. Far too often, we place our hope in the things of this world: money, jobs, status, relationships, and health. We are blessed to be stewards of these things, but they are not to be our greatest treasures. When we make them so, we create misplaced hope which always leads to despair. It seems David, the Old Testament poet and king, reminded himself of this when he wrote: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” (Psalm 42:5). Because God never fails us, our hope in Him will never be in vain.  

To be sure, there will be days when all feels lost. In those times, we can rest soundly in the grace of God and the hope of our Saviour. And when needed, we can read the following words and take heart: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” These are the words written by a man who would know—a man forever changed by the grace and hope of Jesus. You can find them in 1 Peter 5:10.    

 

About Nicole Byrum

Byrum is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 13 years of experience in community mental health.  She is the author of Remade: Living Free, a book written for women in recovery from substance abuse and unhealthy relationships.  NBNicole also maintains a blog at nicolebyrum.com as well as a podcast, 5 Minute Word.  Both focus on topics related to faith, relationships, and recovery.  She lives in northwest Ohio with her husband and two children.  When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, running, or cooking.  

You can also find her on social media: 

Nicole Byrum- Facebook page, nicole.j.byrum- Instagram , Nicole Byrum- YouTube Channel

 

 

How Do You Handle the Whirlwind?

Image by Elisa CB (Unsplash)

Since being back at work after 6 weeks of rest, life has been a whirlwind. The magazine went out, submissions are coming in for the third issue, and I have a steady stream of editing projects on hand on top of my full-time job. There were days I felt like I wasn’t going to make it–days I told God that something had to give.

Sometimes, we really are doing too much. Other times, the pressure lasts for a time before it eases up. Discernment tells us which of those places we are in, and wisdom tells us how to properly handle the load.

Right now, thanks to God, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and by His strength I’ll get through. I’ve had to sacrifice things like my social media presence, newsletters, and outreach, but a human can only do so much. I’ve had to remind myself that I must give my energy to the things God has for me to do and let Him handle the rest.

Where are you at? Are you trusting in Him for wisdom, discernment, and perseverance? If you know you are holding on to too many things, then seek Him to know what must be let go. If you are on the verge of giving up when you know you must endure a little longer, cry out for strength.

God gives wisdom and strength to those who ask. So, just ask.

Blessings!

Special Note: The Lost Pen Magazine BLOG is open for submissions on an ongoing basis. If you would like to submit a piece (ex. a devotional, a testimony, an exhortation or a word of encouragement, or something similar), visit the Contact Me page to learn how.

%d bloggers like this: