Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.
Trisha, my blogger friend at Joy of Reading, and I decided on calling this post “His Encouragement” because our real source of peace, strength, and security can only come from Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our constant! We pray and hope that these Thursday posts become a real encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!
Today’s Thursday Encouragement:
You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
In Hosea 5:15, God states, “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” Back in Hosea’s day, God was not thrilled with His kids. His kids had become hardhearted jerks. If you read Hosea, you see that the people had stopped seeking God and had saturated themselves with the practices and cultures and ideologies and religions of the world. So God gave His kids what they wanted — life without Him. As an almost 40 year old woman, this breaks my heart for God and scares me for the people. I can’t imagine life without God. It’s just too scary. Today, I am a diligent seeker of God (hopefully the kind referred to in Jeremiah 29:13). It is my life’s goal to be the person who seeks God with her whole heart so I can find Him. BUT, I didn’t always used to be this way.
When I was 20 years old, a woman I worked with told me to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. At the time, I was an arrogant Christian. I thought I knew everything there was to know about God, and I felt I lived my life the right way cause I was a good person who obeyed rules and paid taxes and went to church as often as I felt was necessary. I didn’t understand why this random woman at my work wanted me to read this Christian novel. “Were Christian novels even any good?” I asked myself. Hindsight tells me this lady was doing her best to try to get me to correct my “Worldly Christian” ways without being overbearing, but at 20 I didn’t get it.
Anyway, if you’ve ever read Redeeming Love then you know it is quite the novel! Did it change my life at 20? No, I definitely needed to do some growing up and life needed to throw some punches my way. But it is a book that has always stuck with me.
When I was 20, I was just like the Israelites during Hosea’s time. OK, so maybe I could justify I wasn’t as bad as the ancient Israelites because I wasn’t worshiping the gods of other cultures, but sin is sin to God. I may not have been worshiping gods at the time, but I definitely wasn’t doing a good job of worshiping THE God. I was selfish. I did life on my own terms. In some ways, I truly was Angel from Redeeming Love.
The greatest single thing that I have learned in the last few years since becoming a real God-seeker is that Jeremiah 29:13 is absolute TRUTH. When I spend my time Bible Studying and praying I truly do find God. I can feel our relationship becoming just that — a relationship. I have a relationship with the God of the known and unknown universes. It’s utterly astounding that He would even want that with me, but He does! Here are some of the things I have learned since becoming a seeker of God:
- That He is love and compassion and forgiveness.
- That He is a Dad who scolds when necessary, but mostly He’s a holder of my heart and my tears and my feelings.
- That He is all powerful, in total control, and long suffering.
- That He is always the Strong Tower I can run to for refuge.
- That He is King and Ruler over all.
- That He loves women and doesn’t see us as a burden.
- That He isn’t a big meanie in the sky.
- That He is so much more than I can put into mere words.
God is so, so good. I implore anyone reading this post today who may not fully recognize these things about God to pull out your Bible and immerse yourself in God’s Word. I promise, Jeremiah 29:13 can be as true for you as it is for me!
Redeeming Love: A Spotlight
On October 13, 2020, Francine Rivers and Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers released a keepsake edition of her beloved novel, Redeeming Love. This was to honor the fact that this novel has been influential to readers for the past 30 years! I will say that the keepsake edition of the novel is beautiful and I’m super stoked I have a copy for myself!!!
What’s super cool, and what I feel applies to this Encouragement post, are the two companion pieces Rivers released to coincide with her 30th anniversary keepsake edition of Redeeming Love. As we start a new year, many often search out quality Bible studies to complete throughout the year. These companion pieces are two Bible studies that I think could take a God-seeker through Bible topics and concepts in a fresh and compelling way.
The first is the Redeeming Love: The Companion Study Guide. This is a six-week study written in conjunction with bestselling author Angela Hunt that allows readers to explore the novel’s Biblical ties. Specifically, it delves deeper into Michael and Angel’s relationship as a metaphor for the love relationship between God and those He calls His own. This study is broken down into six sections: Child of Darkness, Defiance, Fear, Humility, the Bride, and the Bridegroom. Each section is broken into three studies. A study contains a passage from the novel Redeeming Love, a brief commentary from Rivers and Hunt, some study questions to ponder, and a brief Bible passage that illustrates the topic of study for the section. Personally, I really love how Rivers and Hunt take key passages from Redeeming Love and then take the reader through the concepts Rivers was hoping to get across to her readers. I like this uniquely interactive Bible study and highly recommend it.
The second companion piece, written with Karen Stock Buursma, is A Path to Redeeming Love: A 40-Day Devotional. This book is a 40-day devotional broken down into six thematic sections: Rejected, Resigned, Rescued, Redeemed, Reconciled, and Restored. Each section begins with a tiny introduction. Each day begins with a passage from the novel Redeeming Love, followed by a brief commentary from Rivers where she reflects on the significance of these themes based on her own life experiences, and concludes with a scriptural task to complete. I appreciate how Rivers connects to key biblical ideas through her stories and character experiences and through her own personal experiences. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a Bible study devotional quite like this one and I highly recommend this devotional.
In no way am I trying to peddle books in this Encouragement post. The focus for these posts is always God and His Truths. However, I know that people seek out quality Bible studies. There are a lot of studies out there. Some are great, some are mediocre, and some are awful. It can be overwhelming to try to find something of quality, and often it’s just easier to give up the search. However, I believe Rivers’s two studies are well worth the time and are high-quality for sure, and that’s why I’ve included them in my post today.
NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!
WHAT BIBLICAL VERSE IS ENCOURAGING YOU TODAY?
Check out more Thursday Encouragement from my fellow blogger friends:
Trisha @ Joy of Reading
Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home
Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective
Becca @ The Becca Files
Gina @ Stories by Gina
Rebecca @ Rev. Rebecca Writes
Andi @ Radiant Light
Leslie @ Words of Hope
Claudia @ Claudia Moser
Keneesha @ Women Loving God’s Way