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Monday Morning Encouragement -- Soul Longing


"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God." (Psalm 42:1 ESV)

For most people, celebrating Christmas includes time spent with family and friends. Meals are shared, gifts are exchanged, and once more lasting memories are made. It's a time of celebration, and for Christians it's especially meaningful as we acknowledge and honor our Savior's birth. 

And yet, for some of us -- even Christians -- this season is a lonely time. We may be separated from loved ones, either by distance or by death. This may be the first Christmas without a spouse, a child, or a parent. Or maybe we're feeling overwhelmed and anxious this year. We want to celebrate. We want to feel the "Christmas spirit", but in reality we don't. If we're honest, we just want to skip Christmas entirely. If you're feeling this way -- or have ever felt this way -- you know what I'm saying. You understand.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- The Humble King


Source: Heartlight.org

"And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

One of the astounding facts of Jesus' birth is that of where He was born. To think that the King of Kings would begin His life in the humblest of places: a space meant to house animals, His bed a manger. . .a trough, is mind boggling. 

There is some debate about whether the actual place was a stable or a cave. In either case, we know that His birthplace was not palatial. There were no royal attendants to welcome Him into the world. Only a mother and father, both commoners.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Come Into His Presence With Thanksgiving


"Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!" Psalm 95:2

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation designating the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. At the time our nation was steeped in a brutal civil war, yet Lincoln enumerated the many blessings God had bestowed on the American citizens.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Assembly Required


"and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

One day I passed a church with a sign outside that read, "What goes on here, leaves here." 

What a great quote! Jesus never intended for Christians to gather in His name as a kind of social club. Keeping what they have learned and experienced to themselves in elite membership. Nor did He want His children to neglect getting together for worship. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- From Every Nation


"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands," Revelation 7:9

This past week I watched a video of worship and prayer for Israel in Amsterdam Square. It was filmed live, no editing, just an amazing gathering of Christians from all over the world who had joined together to praise God and remember Israel.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Love Your Enemies


"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus challenges His followers to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." 

At the time He spoke those words the Roman Empire occupied Jerusalem and the Jews were under severe persecution. So, we can only imagine how shocking His words would have been to those gathered on the mount.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Righteousness Wins


"But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."

2 Peter 3:13

I remember watching Saturday morning TV shows with my brother; The Long Ranger being one of our favorites. In each episode, there were good guys and bad guys. The good guys -- like the Lone Ranger -- wore white hats, the bad guys wore black. No matter how much the bad guys seemed to be winning, in the end the Lone Ranger had them behind bars. Righteousness always prevailed. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Steadfast Love


"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds." (Psalm 36:3)

I had a conversation with my brother last night about life and death. His oldest son, my nephew, is in the final weeks of his life. He is dying. Yet in the midst of this tragedy my brother and sister-in-law are firm in their belief that God is good, and that His love is eternal. That truth is what gives them hope. That truth is what gives their son hope. He knows the Lord Jesus personally, and is looking forward to an eternity in His presence. No more pain. Nor more suffering. God Himself will dry every tear.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- The Battle Is Already Won


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Before Moses died he chose Joshua to take his place, and to lead the Israelites into the promised land. Joshua had a history of faithfully following and serving God, and that never changed. I find so much encouragement in reading the story of Joshua, and how God fought the battles for Joshua and the Israelites. God already had the victory in His plan, and His direction to Joshua was to be "strong and courageous."

Monday Morning Encouragement - Body Building


"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:15-16

(Monday Morning Encouragement is taking a short break. Today's devotional is a repeat of one of my favorites. See you in two weeks, Lord willing!)

It is a mystery how Christians together function as Christ's body. It is supernatural. He spiritually indwells each Christian, and when those individuals join together, the result is the body of Christ. 

Without proper nourishment, the human body will remain immature. As with the physical body, so it is with the spiritual body. It must be nourished in order to mature.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Morning Meeting

"I rise before dawn and cry for help. I wait for your words."  Psalm 119:47

I'm a morning person. Morning is my favorite time of day. It's when I have the most energy and the clearest mind. Things that seemed overwhelming the day before somehow become more manageable in the morning light.