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Monday Morning Encouragement -- Soul Talk


"Why are you in despair, O my soul? 
And why have you become disturbed within me? 
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him 
For the help of His presence." Psalm 42:5

Have you ever felt so discouraged that you had to talk your soul into hoping in God? This is what David does in Psalm 42. He had seen the faithfulness of God in the past and had experienced great heights of joy. And yet, at the time of this writing, he is depressed. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- The End of the Law


"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness  to everyone who believes,"  Romans 10:4

Two decades ago the Barna Research Group conducted a survey of professed Christians. At that time, "half of all adults (50%) argued that anyone who 'is generally good or does enough good things for others during their life will earn a place in Heaven.' Almost half of the non-evangelical born again Christians adopted this view, in spite of the fact that they have prayed for the forgiveness of their sins and asked Jesus Christ to be their savior – actions which they believe were the basis of their assurance of salvation. Apparently, large numbers of the non-evangelical born again adults believe that people have a choice of means to salvation, either the grace-alone or the salvation-though-works approaches."

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Compassionate Savior

"Jesus wept." John 11:35

While reading through the eleventh chapter of John, which gives the account of Jesus' raising Lazarus from the dead, I was especially struck by verses 33 - 35. Here John gives us a glimpse into the compassion of our Savior. 

Mary, Martha and their companions were gathered together to mourn the death of their brother and friend Lazarus. Jesus clearly knew that in just a few short minutes Lazarus would be revived by a shout from Him, commanding his dear friend to come out of the tomb. Yet even knowing this, Jesus wept. And we should take special note of this.

Verse 33 tells us regarding the grief expressed by Mary and the mourners:

"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit, and greatly troubled."

Then we read in verse 35 that "Jesus wept."

I believe these few short verses are extremely important to our understanding of the heart of Jesus. He wasn't weeping for Lazarus. He was weeping for the gut wrenching grief of Lazarus' family and friends. He heard their laments, felt their pain, and shared in their sorrow and their tears, so much so that He wept, too.

Our Savior is deeply compassionate. Of course, it was His compassion for lost sinners that drove Him to sacrifice His own life so that all who receive Him would be saved from sin and given eternal life. And that in itself is enough. The Lord doesn't need to do anything beyond Calvary to show us His compassion. 

And yet, He does. 

He grieves when we grieve. He weeps when we weep. His heart hurts when our heart hurts. He feels everything we feel, and His arms are wide with comfort. He beckons us to come to Him and experience His love and compassion.

Honestly, this brings me to tears. 

What a wonderful, merciful Savior is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today's music video Wonderful, Merciful Savior by Selah is one of my very favorite songs of praise. I pray it will stir your heart to worship.

I love you, I'm thinking of you, and I'm praying for you.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Imitate The Father



"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1 ESV)

One of my favorite things to do is watch YouTube short videos of children doing cute things, especially little boys imitating their fathers. There's just something endearing about it, and I think it illustrates the confidence the child has that he is loved by his father, and which compels him to imitate what he does.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Three Things

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, 
be constant in prayer." 
Romans 12:12 (ESV)

Today's scripture verse is quite short, yet in these eleven words we find tremendous power for living the Christian life. What's more, they were written by a man, the Apostle Paul, who serves as an example of what it looks like to faithfully follow Jesus under extreme pressure.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Waiting on God


"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Psalm 27:14

In my opinion, the ability to wait patiently has become a lost art. Just spend some time in an airport and within minutes you'll find someone who's experiencing a meltdown over having to wait for service from a busy airline customer rep.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Far More Abundantly


"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

In September 1853, a twenty-one year old named Hudson Taylor sailed from Liverpool to China. His desire was to reach the people of China with the Gospel of Christ. At the time only a few dozen missionaries were stationed there. By the time Taylor died a half century later, he had established the China Inland Mission, which still operates today, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with East Asians.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Our Unchanging God


"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

There's an old saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." But I say, "The more things change, the more they change." Change is inevitable. We know this. And let's face it, a lot of the changes that took place in 2023 were not good. There's a lot of bad out there.

Even with all the bad news, I have to admit I'm entering 2024 more hopeful than ever. There's absolutely no human reason for my hope. My hope isn't built on what takes place in Washington, DC or what the United Nations thinks or does. My hope is built on Jesus Christ, the Unchanging One. He is an unshakeable foundation for those who have placed their trust in Him.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Merry Christmas!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Merry Christmas, my friends!

It's a quiet morning here at A Joyful Cottage. I won't celebrate Christmas with my family until later this week when all of us will be able to gather at one time.

This is fine with me because it's been a hectic retail season for me (it's how I make my living) and I need some time to just sit quietly and reflect on the true reason for the season. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- God's Perfect Timing


"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4-5

There is an old adage which states, "Timing is everything." Nowhere is this more true than in God's timing of the birth of Jesus. Out of all the dates in history, God chose that particular one to send His Son to earth.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Prince Of Peace


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

It's impossible to turn on the news these days and not hear about the unrest in the world, and a constant urging to make peace. According to the Council on Foreign relations there are currently 27 wars and conflicts worldwide. We are living in days where peace is talked about more than ever, yet it has never seemed more out of reach. Jesus warned that in the last days there would be "wars and rumors of war" (Matthew 24:6), so we Christians should not be surprised by any of this.