Encouragement – my word for the Holidays

Christmas & New Year’s can be overwhelming.  Made-for-TV Movies & commercials show lots of happy families & romance.  But let’s face it, the singles and/or never marrieds are statistically growing.  The folks who are struggling financially and can’t afford a trip back home for Christmas this year are all over the place.

But I have a few words of encouragement for you.  I did a Bible keyword search on the word ‘Discouraged’ and found multiple references to the phrase.  Most of which began with the statement ‘Do not be afraid’.  I love that.  See, God knows us and how often we have to fight fear.

When Moses turned over the reigns to Joshua, he literally told him not to be afraid.  (In front of the entire nation of Israel, I might add!)  Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Joshua used that same phrase to encourage others.  So did David, so did Jahaziel.  I’m sorry, who’s he?  Exactly.

Check out this excerpt from 2 Chronicles 20: “14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’

18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

I’d never heard of Jahaziel before.  For all I know he was a renowned scholar and Rabbi who spent hours in the Torah every day.  But part of me likes to think that he was just an ordinary man who loved God, his family and wanted to fulfill a greater purpose, but wasn’t quite sure how he exactly fit into the grand scheme of things.  Like most of us.

However, he was in the right place at the right time, and was close enough to God to be willing to step out of his comfort zone to obey Him.  God moved in his heart, and he opened his mouth to let the ‘Spirit of the Lord’ speak through him to encourage everyone – including the King!!!

“To the world, you may be another face in the crowd, but to someone you may be the world” (paraphrased from Brad Paisley.)  Don’t worry about the folks who don’t care about you.  Let’s face it, you are just a supporting character (if that) in the stage play of most people’s lives.  But here’s a happy thought and & some perspective: Some folks really like you!  Seriously.  In life you may only have a few close friends who really know you (and like you anyway.)  Cherish those relationships – steward them well.

Don’t waste time worrying about what you don’t have, but be grateful for what you do have.  And when you have the opportunity – reach out to those around you.  People you see at the gas station, at the grocery store or even at church are hurting, maybe even struggling with hopelessness.  Try to listen to that ‘still small voice’ and encourage those around you.  A smile, a ‘Merry Christmas’, or an honest compliment can make someone’s day.  It takes only a few minutes, can mean SO much, & as a nice side-effect, it makes you feel better about your own purpose for being here.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

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