Encouragement for Today Podcast

In today’s episode, you’ll hear a devotion written by Jenny Wheeler based on James 1:17, which says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (NIV).

We hope today’s devotion reminds you that God loves you deeply and no prayer is too small or too big for Him to answer.

Related Resources: 
  • The gift of salvation is available to all who confess and believe, made possible through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. If you’d like to know more about a relationship with Jesus, click here.
  • If you’re lacking “comfort and joy” this holiday season, find Truth and encouragement when you download our free resource, “He’s Never Absent, We’re Never Alone: 5 Ways Jesus Meets Us in the Middle of Our Worst Days.”
  • For more from Proverbs 31 Ministries, head to our website at proverbs31.org, where you can subscribe to Encouragement for Today Devotions in written format, delivered to your inbox each weekday.
  • Click here to download a transcript of this episode.
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What is Encouragement for Today Podcast?

Life can be so challenging sometimes — we each understand this all too well. It’s not only the big things that seem out of our control, but it's also the little things we face each day. We forget our keys. A friend cancels on us. Our bank card gets declined. We wake up anxious. Negative thoughts fill our mind. It doesn’t take much to leave us feeling hopeless, confused, exhausted or stressed. We wonder what God has to say about what we’re experiencing, but sometimes just getting through the next few hours is hard enough. That’s why Proverbs 31 Ministries created the Encouragement For Today Podcast — a collection of 50 devotions to help you start your day with a biblical perspective you can carry with you no matter what lies ahead.

Ever since I was small, I’ve been enamored with the Christmas season. Family getting together from near and far, hopes for a wintry blanket on Christmas morning, twinkling lights, the smell of a freshly cut tree, hot cocoa … I love all the things and all the events and all the details.

Not that it’s all gumdrops and sugarplums.

Warm, fuzzy feelings can easily get avalanched by added stress or busyness. And wonderful family gatherings can quickly go from fun to done. So, it’s not surprising that I found myself just a tad grumpy, sad and overwhelmed one rainy Tuesday night in December as I drove from work to church.

Usually I’m a planner who finishes my gift shopping by October and gets my tree up by the day after Thanksgiving, but life’s cadence had been a frenzy that year. I found myself in a rush to get the church decorating done.

Stuck in endless traffic with the glare of red brake lights piercing the night, my mind began to race. How ironic that I’m headed to God’s house to put up the tree and decorate, yet my own home is tree-less and looks more like the Grinch lives there.

Honestly, we didn’t really have the money for a fresh tree that year. Frustrated and deciding it wasn’t even worth the hassle to get one, I uttered a plea-filled but half-joking prayer: Dear God, why can’t You just send me a tree? I know You have better things to do, but …

What a dumb and selfish prayer, I thought. Have you ever heard of anyone just showing up at a stranger’s door with a free tree two weeks before Christmas? Besides, with your stinky attitude, you don’t even deserve a tree, girl.

But like that very first Christmas, sometimes miracles show up in the middle of the mess.
The next morning, a co-worker stopped by to ask if a lady who had a free tree could drop it off, thinking maybe someone would want it. She said it was a gift, but they didn't need it, so she thought a staff member might.

My heart raced as I suddenly remembered that silly, half-muttered prayer from the night before. Then as quickly, I began to wonder if it could really be God, my mind rifling through all the reasons it surely couldn’t be for me.

Someone else must need a tree … I can’t be selfish and say I want it before asking anyone else.
By early afternoon, the donated tree was in my car. And guess what? God outdid Himself! It was a beautiful Fraser fir, tall, fragrant and full — exactly what I would have picked out three weeks earlier.

It was perfect.

A familiar verse welled up in my heart as tears began to fall: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

I heard Him loud and clear. God had graciously (and unexpectedly) sent me a Christmas tree. I did nothing to earn or deserve it. It simply arrived, just in time.

And that’s exactly what happened the very first Christmas. But unlike my casual prayer one rainy Tuesday night, there was nothing accidental or half-hearted about God’s provision for us, friends! The Savior of the world showed up in Bethlehem, wrapped in flesh, cradled in a manger, later sent to hang on a cross.
Christmas had come. And it was the perfect gift.

I’ve learned well in my time on earth that God doesn't always answer the way we pray or precisely how we want. But every now and then, sometimes when we least expect it, God provides a tangible reassurance of how very much He loves and cares for us. And as we approach this Christmas season, may we remember: The perfect gift is already ours through Christ.

Lord, whether we have a tree or any gifts under it this year, may we remember You, the perfect One offered to us thousands of years ago, before we even knew we’d need You. And may we never take for granted the perfect gift that’s already ours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.