Go back to Bethel!

2020-12-30
Genesis 35:15 NLT

What should you do when you’re discouraged and afraid you’ve lost your way? That’s the question Jacob was facing. And when he turned his heart toward God, here is the answer he got: “‘Go up to Bethel…build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.'” So Jacob said to his household and all who were with him, ‘Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone'” (vv. 1-3 NIV).

Now, you may not be into idol worshiping, but what do you need to “get rid of”? Bethel means “the place where God dwells.” So Jacob went back to the place where he had met God, where he had received a vision of his future, and where he had first experienced the joy of living in a covenant relationship with the Lord.

Have you made a mess of your life? Then go back to Bethel, to where you first met God. Build an altar and place your life on it. Do what the Scripture says: “In view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).

Soul food: 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Matt 3:1-10; Ps 116; Prov 31:30-31

Moenie ontmoediging versprei nie

2020-12-29
Numeri 13:32 NLV

Ontmoediging het veroorsaak dat die Israeliete aan God se belofte begin twyfel het, hulle drome opgegee het en in die wildernis gesterf het. Ironies genoeg was hulle net ‘n paar dae se reis van die Beloofde Land af! Hoe het dit gebeur?

Nadat hulle veertig dae in Kanaӓn, ‘n land vol sulke oorvloed dat dit twee manne geverg het om een tros druiwe te dra, bestee het, het tien van die twaalf verkenners teruggekom en gesê: ‘…’Ons durf nie teen hulle optrek nie. Hulle is sterker as ons.’ Hulle het toe ‘n gerug begin versprei oor die land wat hulle gaan verken het…’ (verse 31-32 NLV). Sal jy graag wil weet hoe God oor mense wat sulke ontmoediging versprei voel? ‘Die tien mans… wat teruggekom het en die gemeenskap teen God opgemaak het met die slegte gerug wat hulle oor die land versprei het, het gesterf vanweë ‘n plaag wat die Here gestuur het’ (Numeri 14:36-38 NLV).

Wat van jou? Wanneer jy sien dat ander mense voor negatiewe situasies te staan kom, spreek jy jou twyfel oor hulle vermoë om sukses te behaal uit? Kan jy na iemand se planne luister sonder om teleurstellende opmerkings te maak? Dink aan al die mense wat jou gedurende jou leeftyd al moed ingepraat het! In ‘n wêreld wat deur negatiwiteit en slegte nuus geteister word, het almal ‘n bietjie bemoediging van tyd tot tyd nodig.

Maak dus ‘n bewustelike poging om opregte woorde van bevestiging, ondersteuning en inspirasie teenoor die mense in jou sirkel van invloed te spreek. Wanneer jy ‘n ontmoediger teëkom, moenie toelaat dat hulle jou van stryk bring nie. Herinner jouself en hulle dat God ‘…mag het om… oneindig meer te doen as wat ons vra of dink om te vra’ (Efesiërs 3:20 NLV). Omdat Hy kan!

Sielskos: Mal 3-4; Matt 2:16-23; Ps 139:13-24; Spr 31:28-29

Discouragement


Numbers 13:32 NLT

Discouragement caused the Israelites to doubt God’s promise, give up their dream, and die in the wilderness. And ironically, they were only a few days away from the Promised Land. How did it happen? After spending forty days in Canaan, a land of such fruitfulness that it took two men to carry one cluster of grapes, ten out of twelve spies came back saying, ‘We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites’ (vv. 31-32 NLT). So how did God deal with the spies who had spread such discouragement? ‘The ten men…who incited rebellion against the LORD with their bad report – were struck dead with a plague…only Joshua and Caleb remained alive’ (Numbers 14:36-38 NLT).

We need to ask ourselves whether we are sometimes tempted to spread discouragement. When we see others facing negative circumstances, do we express doubts about their ability to succeed? Can we listen to someone’s plans without making disheartening remarks? Even if we can’t quite envision their dreams, we can still agree to stand in faith with them for God’s perfect will to be done in their life.

As we saw in yesterday’s reading, everyone needs a little encouragement from time to time. So let’s make a conscious effort to speak sincere words of affirmation, support, and inspiration to those within our circles of influence. And when we encounter a discourager, we mustn’t let them derail us. We should remind ourselves, and them, that God is ‘able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). Because He can.

Mal 3-4; Matt 2:16-23; Ps 139:13-24; Prov 31:28-29

Don’t spread discouragement


Numbers 13:32 NLT

Discouragement caused the Israelites to doubt God’s promise, give up their dream, and die in the wilderness. Ironically, they were only several days’ journey from the Promised Land! How did it happen?

After spending forty days in Canaan, a land of such fruitfulness that it took two men to carry one cluster of grapes, ten out of twelve spies came back saying, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites” (vv. 31-32 NLT). Now, would you like to know how God feels about people who spread such discouragement? “The ten men…who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report – were struck dead with a plague…only Joshua and Caleb remained alive” (Numbers 14:36-38 NLT).

So how about you? When you see others facing negative circumstances, do you express doubt about their ability to succeed? Can you listen to someone’s plans without making disheartening remarks? Even if you can’t quite envision their dreams, at least agree to stand in faith with them for God’s perfect will to be done concerning the proposed endeavor. Think of all the people who have encouraged you during your lifetime! In a world plagued with negativity and bad news, everyone needs a little encouragement from time to time.

So make a conscious effort to speak sincere words of affirmation, support, and inspiration to those within your circle of influence. And when you encounter a discourager, don’t let them derail you. Remind yourself and them that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). Because He can!

Soul food: Mal 3-4; Matt 2:16-23; Ps 139:13-24; Prov 31:28-29

The gift of encouragement

2020-12-28
Romans 12:6, Romans12:8

Did you know that there’s such a thing as “the gift of encouragement”? There is! The Bible says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is…to encourage, then give encouragement.”

And you don’t have to be talented or have a high IQ to demonstrate this gift. Every day you meet people in need of encouragement. They may not show it on the surface, but underneath they’re struggling to keep their head above water. Some of them are at the point of despair, and your words can lift them. Even a smile can do it.

Job said, “When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them” (Job 29:24 NLT). Solomon said, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25 NKJV).

Don’t assume because people exhibit the trappings of status and success, that they don’t need encouragement. David was a best-selling author whose psalms are still read around the world. He was Israel’s most popular king. His victories in battle are the envy of every military academy strategist. But he had days when he felt so low that he was reaching up to touch the bottom: “I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain” (Psalm 38:17 NLT). It’s not just average people who need encouragement – best-selling authors, kings, and generals need it too. Everybody does! And that’s good, because when you have the gift of encouragement you will never be without a job.

So today be sensitive to God’s leading, and when He prompts you to encourage someone – do it!

Soul food: Mal 1-2; Matt 2:9-15; Ps 139:1-12; Prov 31:25-27