Contaminated| By Jasmine Beard

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“Empty me of me, oh Lord.” This is a prayer I pray very often.

Have you ever been confronted with yourself and did not like what you saw? Like you didn’t even recognize yourself in your reflection?

So many times, our hearts and actions can detour from the character of Christ. It is not natural for us to have the same heart and character of God, but as believers, we count our natural character dead and our new character alive in Christ.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NIV)

Picture yourself as a piping system with water, pure water flowing in and out of you. This is a picture of what God desires to do in us and pour out of us in this world. The water is His love.

The Bible tells us that God is LOVE.

You see, our culture likes to paint a very different picture of what love is. Culture tells us love is self-acceptance, self-seeking, and lives true to every fleshly desire our heart leads. In Jeremiah 17:9, the Bible tells us that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked without God.

Paul gives us a great description of what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT):

4 “Love is large and incredibly patient.Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.

5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.

6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.

7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.”

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy the love that God desires to flow through His people. He wants to contaminate the water that flows through us.

To contaminate means to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.

If you drop one grain of sand in pure water, the water becomes dirty. Something that was once drinkable and ready for consumption becomes tainted and undrinkable.

Today examine your heart and ask the Lord if you are contaminated, tainted, or even have a grain of sand inside your heart. He is faithful to purify us time and time again, all we have to do is ask.

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” John 7:38 (NLT)

The Power of Encouragement| By Rachel Lukinovich

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Have you ever gone through something and felt like no one could possibly understand?

And if you were to tell anyone, they would judge you and think less of you?

Well, that makes you human.

Right after my second child was born, the first few months seemed pretty relaxing and easy. Several people warned me about how hard the transition from one to two children would be, but it honestly didn’t seem that hard to me. It wasn’t until my sweet Emmy turned 4 months that things became a little more challenging. Until then, all she did was eat, sleep, and poop, just like the perfect baby you hear about it.

Naturally, she became more awake and alert, making it hard to even go to Walmart without it ending with a poo or throw up explosion, or loud crying. I did not want to even leave home, which was hard for me, so very hard. I am not a home body, and even though God was doing a work in my heart, as He always is, I didn’t really feel so great about it. It was in this moment that I truly needed someone to understand me and encourage me through it. I needed someone to recognize that this truly was hard for me, and not just put a blanket over it with a statement like “trust Jesus and it will get better.”

Yes, those are words of truthful, but I needed something deeper. I needed someone that acknowledged that this is real and hard and although it WILL get better because of Jesus’ faithful promises, the present circumstances still were worthy of how I felt. I needed someone to acknowledge that I was not alone and it was okay to have hard times, but also to speak truth into my heart and help me along the way.

Thankfully, I had those people in my life who were already there to encourage me. Before letting the lies of the enemy steal too much of my joy and time, I chose to reach out to people in my life, and I will never forget some of the moments or words that happened during that hard time.

You see, the devil wants us trapped in those moments of difficulty. He wants us to believe the lie that no one cares, understands, or may judge how you feel. He wants us to become isolated and alone, where he can continue to speak those lies into our ears.

Only we have control of how we handle our own lives and situations. Unfortunately, we can not make others reach out for help when they are hurting or feeling dry. Sometimes, it is truly hard for someone to do this.

However, we do have the power to reach out to them and always encourage them, regardless of feelings or situations. We are all doing life together, through the good, the bad, and ugly.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The fact that my people acknowledged the difficulty of my situation, but yet encouraged me in the faith, greatly increased my perseverance and even helped me look at things a little differently.

This tells me that our encouraging words have the power to cancel a thousand lies constantly being spoken in our sister’s ear.

Life can be so busy, hard, lonely, you name it, but we have the power to encourage others through it!

Sometimes it is as simple as:

“You did a really great job!”

“Your hair looks great, did you get a cut?”

“you have such a wonderful personality”

…and genuinely meaning it.

There is always something we can find positive about a person, regardless of who they are.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet 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

Your friend, your mom, your sister, your pastor…they all could use a good word of encouragement. I challenge you to use every opportunity to not only address real life, but to love and encourage them through it. Because our words have more power than you think.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17