God’s “words of encouragement” for 2008

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It seems that for the many years, every January, God has given me a word of encouragement to help get me through the year ahead. Then when trials and troubles come my way, as they inevitably do, He graciously brings those words of encouragement to the forefront of my memory. They always tend to sooth my weary mind and bring peace to my spirit. I suppose it is His way of letting me know that I am not alone in my trials, that He cares about every detail in my life, and that He is in total control even when all else seems out of control.
Several years ago I noticed this pattern from my past and therefore asked God to show me what His “words of encouragement” would be for that year, 2005. Well He didn’t waste time, every time I turned around, this particular verse would show up! “And my God will fully supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” [Phil. 4:19] This promise may not sound all that profound to you, but if you knew the financial strain we were under that year you would understand how this verse encouraged me and gave me hope in place of despair. You see, He kept His promise that year, and has kept it ever since, and in the process has taught me that I can depend on Him for all my needs. Yet there was more! I joyfully observed that this promise was not limited to my financial and physical needs, but to my every spiritual need as well.
In 2006 God had these “words of encouragement” for me. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” [Jer. 29:11] Throughout that year the Lord continually showed me that His grace is sufficient for me, He was not out to punish me, but to teach me a better way, and secure a hope for the future. Finally I was able to put to rest, any remaining notions I had that God was out to punish me for my weakness and inability to live perfectly before Him.
Then in 2007 God had this to say, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. [Isa. 43:18-19] Praise the Lord, I did perceive it, and I was able to put my past behind me. This enabled me to embrace the “new things” that God had for me. Though I still must walk through the wilderness, I now know the way, and when I cross through life’s deserts, I no longer thirst.
Now in 2008 I was given this verse. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” [Josh. 1:9] At first this didn’t sound very encouraging, it sounded more like a forewarning that there was something scary up ahead. Turned out there was! Lots of very scary, you could only have imagined in your worst nightmare, kinds of things, and it’s only April! Yet God in his amazing grace prepared my heart and strengthened me. These turned out to be very encouraging words, indeed! Again God Has kept His promise and “is with me where ever I go”, and we have already been to some pretty undesirable places this year. I am learning that God, in His infinite wisdom does not keep us from going through the “undesirable” places in life. Instead, He strengthens us for the journey and continually walks by our side, sometimes He even carries us. Through these journey’s He helps us to grow, puts us where we need to be to help others, and displays His glory and grace for all to see.
January is long gone, and you may have, like me, already failed at this years first attempts at self-improvement. So you might as well join me also, in asking God for this years “words of encouragement”. Then be prepared to be encouraged and edified in God’s Spirit, as well.

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” [Josh. 1:7-9]

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