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A Woman Who Builds

18 May 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

 Written by Kelly Elders

Women Who Build Themselves

Jude 20-21 But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

When you know you are accepted and loved then you will be able to love and be accepting of others. So many times when we are rejected or mistreated we think its about us but the truth is, its more about the other person. We need to resolve that we are loved and accepted by the One who really matters! Build yourselves strong in His Holy Spirit and no one will be able to tear it down.

Colossians 3:12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

There are some things we never leave home without like our underwear! I can only hope. He is telling us to make Love the “must have” in our wardrobe. The Love hat is the first thing we put on in the morning before we put on mom hat, business hat, work hat, ministry hat or anything other hat. Put on love and wear it well!

Women Who Build One Another

When I think of success in ministry, it is when others find success. Ministry is about others not ourselves. If you aren’t lifting others and moving them forward are you really doing ministry? We need to be cheering others on and forward. We don’t have time to compete, compare or criticize. Understand, your destiny has your name written on it and no one else can replace you. It was created and designed with you in mind. What God gives you, no one can take from you and what God takes from you, let it go. Insecurities will keep you from propelling others forward and in turn limits God’s ability to use you.

Women Who Build The Kingdom 

There are two types of builders. First, you have the Demo Builder. She has a hammer in one hand and a sledge hammer in the other. She designs and builds and it looks like its coming along very well but soon she is frustrated and begins using the sledge hammer to tear down all she has built. Sometimes it’s because what she has began to build doesn’t seem enough, she second guesses herself, or someone begins to criticize what she is building. If that person was building they wouldn’t have time to criticize what you are building. So its a constant starting over to either please others or impress others. God isn’t looking for cookie cutter homes but for a custom built home that no one else can build.

1 Chronicles 7:20-27 Descendants of Ephraim

20 The descendants of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered, Tahath, Eleadah, Tahath,21 Zabad, Shuthelah, Ezer, and Elead. These two were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers near Gath. 22 Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him. 23 Afterward Ephraim slept with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Ephraim named him Beriah because of the tragedy his family had suffered. 24 He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah.

Next, you have the Bold Builder, Sheerah. When her father, who was Joseph’s son, lost his sons he was so defeated. His sons were thieves and taking what didn’t belong to them. They were trying to succeed by taking from others and they lost their lives in the process.

Through all the grief of Ephraim you never read that he clung to his daughter or even looked to her ability but the chronicler mentions her name in the middle of a genealogy in which most of the women are never recorded. It contains fathers and sons yet we get this small and brief mention of a woman who dared to build! God will always make your story read by someone.

She was the granddaughter of Joseph who knew something about overseeing a city. Building was in her DNA! Sheerah had a vision and a dream and was able to build 3 cities. Can you imagine, during the time when women were not empowered and she builds not one but 3 cities! What could we build if we had a vision? She may have not had the cheering from her family but apparently she had a vision others believed and helped her bring to pass. She must have orchestrated contractors, mason workers and others to do the work. They trusted her ability to see a city that did not yet exist.

It says she built in the low and high place. No matter what situation you find yourself today high or low, choose to build. She built a city in the Lower Beth-Horon, a low place. You can build in a low place. Candice Lightner who lost her daughter due to a drunk driver chose to build in a low place. She developed MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, which helped bring awareness and change laws. She knew how to build in the low place.

Maybe today you are in a high place of position and influence, build! Use your place to build. Sheerah built Upper Beth-Horon, a high place. Every First Lady of the U.S. uses their position to make a difference whether in human rights, education or equal rights. Many have paved the way women enjoy today. If you are in a high place do as Esther did, use your influence to build. She saved the people of God just by using her influence with the king. She was born for this cause to save much people alive. You were born to build!

All you need is a vision, a will to do and love and nothing can stop you from building that dream, that child, that marriage or the kingdom! There is a Builder within us all.

For more from Kelly Elders, please visit KellyElders.com

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Brighter and Brighter

11 May 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Four years ago I lost my Mom. On the day she died I remember thinking, “who’s gonna pray for me now?” I know that’s an extremely selfish thought, but it’s the truth.

My Mom and I fought regularly. Still, she prayed for me relentlessly. There is nothing like the power of a praying Mom, a Mom that declares the Word of God over her children. James 5:16 NLT reads the earnest prayers of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Praying parents emulate Jesus because Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). There is power in prayer and in the promises of God.

I experienced the power of His promises even as I grieved. We grieve when we lose someone we love, and we grieve when we lose something that we love such a job or exciting opportunity. Even so, grieving eventually ends because we have the promises of God. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is a time to mourn and time to dance, and God promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind up our wounds (Psalms 147:3). Jesus promises that we have the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, and Strengthener (John 14:26 AMP), and the Word promises that our path shines brighter and brighter until it reaches its full strength and glory (Proverbs 4:18 AMP).

Mourning passed as I walked through the grieving process with God, and realized that I could trust Him with my future. Mourning passed as I realized I could trust Him to heal my heart and wounds. He was and is my Comforter and Ever-Present Help even when the pain felt unbearable and never-ending. As I grieved I felt pain like I’ve never felt before and my mind was nearly consumed with crazy-making thoughts because I just wanted to make the pain end. For the first time in my life I could understand how mental breakdowns occur.

Guilt, anger, and loss nearly crushed me. But God IS His Word and He flooded me with His Truth and counsel. He reminded me that I have the mind of Christ, that He loved me, and He told me to start expressing my emotions. God’s voice is unparalleled because it is absolute Truth always motivated by unconditional love. I knew that if I was not obedient I would likely lose my mind. It was challenging, yet God had already led me to a support group, surrounded me with supportive praying family and friends, and His grace secured me. Mourning passed because God promised that my path shines brighter and brighter. No matter what happens, He has already guaranteed that my future is brighter than my past. It was hard to believe that when I was grieving, however God has been beyond faithful to me.

How could my life grow brighter after death and loss? Only God can do that, and He did it for me. He placed three faithful women in my life that call me daughter. They cover me in prayer and nurture my growth. I’ve known two of them for nearly a decade, and one since I was eight years old. Last week, I remembered how I asked “who’s gonna pray for me now?”  The next day one of women told me “you are my daughter and I cover you in prayer.”

I cried when she said that she was covering me in prayer because I knew that God was answering me. Mom is not replaceable, yet God graciously provided loving people just for me ahead of time. One of the other women proudly calls me her daughter every time I see her and when she introduces me to others. It means a great deal to me because despite our quarrels, Mom was always proud of me and she believed in me. It’s not a coincidence that I still have a motherly figure in my life that is genuinely proud of me. Not because of what I do, only because I am her daughter. She was placed in my path to make it brighter.

My path is brighter than it was when Mom died because mourning has passed and I will see her in Heaven. My path is brighter because I know that God is still answering the prayers that she prayed for me. Mom always prayed for my protection and favor, and I have never had a broken bone or surgery, and I frequently enjoy favor and God-given opportunities. My path is brighter because I am growing closer to Him- my God who answers prayer, heals my heart, and keeps His promises.

Mom’s, may you be wildly celebrated and honored this Mother’s Day and always. Thank you for praying and declaring God’s promises over your children. Thank you for showing them who Jesus is and thank you for your unrelenting love. God loves you and your children. Your path, and the paths of your children will grow brighter and brighter. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you and your children all the days of your lives, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6). Happy Mother’s Day!

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Guard Your Mind

20 Apr 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Beverly Richardson

Well, just this morning I felt like giving up on my God ordained assignment. I start thinking about every reason why I should not be on the assignment. Why God, did You choose me for this job? It is so hard, I cannot do it. I do not have time. I began thinking about how far I had to drive. I watched the daily news that said the price of gas was going to increase. I tried to think of all kinds of excuses why I wanted to quit my assignment before the assignment was complete. I had allowed these thoughts to fill my mind. Fear and worry set in, and I had no reason to be fearful or worried about anything. Then I realized that I had not spent enough time with God, in His word lately. I had to cast all of my cares on God because he cares for me.  I repented and asked God for forgiveness, and then I as able to get back on track.

We should be well aware of the various ways in which Satan works. He attacks believers when he thinks it will be to his advantage. Especially after a great experience, or right before someone is going to begin a new opportunity. He also attacks when believers are vulnerable physically or mentally, and when Satan believers when are alone. Christians, therefore, must always be on guard.  How do we guard our minds against the attacks of the enemy:

Action 1: Pray

Our first response to a spiritual attack should not be panic, but prayer. We can’t fight effectively in our own strength. But when we ask God for help and seek His power we experience victory.

Action 2:  Speak And Believe The Truth

Jesus personifies truth. In John 14:6 Jesus says I am the truth. Satan is a liar. Jesus said this about him: He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars (John 8:44). Satan’s native tongue is deceit. One of the best ways to combat his untruth is to surround ourselves, our families, and our minds with truth.

Action 3:  Choose Not To Fear

The natural reaction to a spiritual attack is first fear, then worry. If we stay in that place of panic, we forget to do the first two actions: pray and speak the truth. And if we camp in fear’s tent, we shrink back from the joy and power Jesus wants to give us in the midst of the battle. Ultimately, this comes down to a question of our trust in God. Do we believe God is bigger than our worry? Than Satan’s attack against us? Than the fears that keep us up at night? We have a choice to give into fearful thinking or surrender it to God, and trust His word.

Action 4: Let Go Of Control

When we encounter a spiritual battle, we tend to want to make everything right immediately. We want the fight to stop, so we try to fix the situation. We can’t micromanage stressful situations. We can’t orchestrate outcomes. We are not God, yet we can utilize the guidance, strategy and grace that He liberally provides.

We must always be aware of the thoughts that travel through our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:5 Cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. In Proverbs 23:7 we read For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

To stay free, we must vigilantly guard our thought life and choose to give our burdens to God.

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Dirty to Daughter

14 Apr 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Kelly Elders

My dad loves to grow hot chili peppers and jar them for the winter. If you’ve ever worked with hot peppers before you understand how important it is to use gloves. The oils from the peppers seep deeply into the skin and can cause burning and tingling. Yes, I am telling you from a bitter experience. Once you have these oils on your hands everything you touch becomes subject to its potency.

It can be the same with our mistakes. If we don’t know how to walk forgiven and in freedom we can continue to allow it to taint every goal and dream for our lives. It’s that one moment that should have cancelled our call, stopped the gift or removed the position but thank God for Jesus! I’m not talking about living in B.C. (before Christ) but while you have lived this Christian life. I look back at times when I taught things out of ignorance, when I gave up on the inside and made horrible decisions or when I was full of anger and strife all the while attending church every Sunday. I had to learn to clean up and continue learning even when everyone was watching. Don’t ever assume a person should be beyond sin. No one is ever too holy, too godly or too Christian to not make a mistake or sin. We are only too empowered to live in it. We sometimes only see what others want us to see and may not know the hidden struggles of people that we see every Sunday. When a person can’t tell a trusted person their weakness or themselves then they too have only blinded or chained themselves to it. Part of conquering sin is confronting sin. Every person should be able to identify their own strength and weakness in order to conquer what needs to be confronted in their life.

We can not allow these moments of failure, set back or sin to seep so deeply that we live a limited life with a limited view of our future. 

The Woman with the issue of blood takes us on a journey from Dirty to Daughter.

And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:24-34 ESV)

The only thing standing between her and Jesus, were people.

Are your decisions are based on People or Purpose?

Is it because of where God is taking you or because you don’t want others to think less of you?

Religion serves to please people, Purpose serves to please God.

The People who stand in between:

The people who think you don’t deserve the call or position.

The people who don’t mind pushing you down so they can rise.

The people who only see your issue not your call.

The people who gave up on you along the way.

She was a woman who understood disconnection and loss. By law she was to stay separated from people and considered unclean (Leviticus 15:25). She was defined by her issue. Have you ever been defined by your issue? Jesus took away that label on the cross and we need to leave it there. There is not one issue in your life that you are not empowered to loosen from your life.

When Faith is the connection to reaching Jesus

In one moment of faith she went from dirty to daughter. She had only “heard” of Jesus and believed even before He arrived. She knew she could trust Him to heal if she could just touch Him. Jesus had never called a woman daughter anywhere else in the bible but here. He chooses the woman who was an outcast, who was separated and unclean. Reminding us that there is no sin or failure that can keep us from reaching out to Christ in faith and Him not respond.

Understand her life was at risk. It was not legally allowed for an unclean woman to touch anyone especially Jesus. She had to have touched many others in her quest to touch Jesus. The law says that anyone who touches an unclean woman is now considered unclean. Thank God, you are never too dirty to become His daughter. There is nothing too dirty that God can’t wash away completely.

This story is a reminder of His great compassion to stop, listen and respond to our hearts. He responds to faith not our issue. So instead of telling Him your issue, which He already knows, reach out to Him in faith. Take what He has made available to you which is freedom. He is waiting for someone to reach out to Him and know that He is the only answer.

Because of her faith she went from Dirty to Daughter. It’s what you believe about yourself as to how you think God views you. The freedom is in your faith! Jesus has already conquered the issue in your life.

You are a Daughter or Son not the issue, not the struggle and not the label.  Reach out to Him in faith and He will respond with freedom and wholeness.

Please visit: KellyElders.com for more from Kelly Elders

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The Middle

07 Apr 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

I was a daring, and nearly fearless child, raised on a farm. I would pick up snakes, climb trees, and distress my Grandmother. Concerned for my safety, she went through great lengths to instill a tremendous fear in me of snakes and heights. To this day, I am still a little wary of both.  I have asked the Lord to help me overcome these fears because I know that I am strong in the power of His might, and fear is not of God according to Ephesians 6:10 and 2 Timothy 1:7.

I know God helps me overcome fear because Psalms 34:4 reads: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” I eventually touched a snake again and even rode roller coasters. Just as God helped me with those fears, I am confident He is healing and moving me past my deep hurts and issues as I consistently pray to Him.

Everything we undertake in life has a beginning and an end, therefore we should aim to start strong and finish well. Typically, we are excited at the beginning of an opportunity such as a relationship or a new venture; and we’re also happy in the end when we can celebrate our achievements and taste the satisfaction fulfilled desires.  The middle is another story because somewhere between the beginning and the end we face our greatest challenges.

The middle is where we develop the determination necessary to overcome and grow. We learn to finish what we start, and we become increasingly grateful that we don’t have to endure alone! Whenever we find ourselves frustrated, tired, or facing the temptation to give up, we can ask God for His strength and wisdom. We can decide in our heart to take authority over every fear that attempts to creep back in when we face difficult situations.

What fears are you struggling with today? Perhaps the fear of financial security? Fear of failure? Fears concerning your children? Is the fear so intense that you are hindered from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promises to His followers? Fear stands for: False Expectations Appearing Real. What unreal expectation are you living under that is keeping you in fear?

Get in the presence of God and trust Him. Don’t be afraid for He is your strength and song. His power is unlimited! When we are completely surrendered to Him it draws His power into our needs. However, fear can block the flow of His strength into us. Concentrate on trusting Him fully.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

Start strong, continue trusting, and finish well.

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Distractions

24 Mar 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Beverly A. Richardson

I woke up this morning and it was raining outside. I grabbed my bible and my blanket, and lay on the couch to study the word. A thought came to my mind to check my Facebook page for comments, distraction #1. I then checked my Instagram, distraction #2. After checking Facebook and Instagram, I was compelled to watch the news, distraction #3, and then I started thinking about dinner so I got up to take something out of the freezer, distraction #4, and then answered the phone, distraction #5.

Before I realized it, the day was almost over and I had not given God first place in my life. I was not seeking God’s Kingdom. Matthew 6:33 states, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Media, texts, work obligations, and family duties demand our attention almost every minute of every day, and lately I’ve been distracted by world issues and events in my own life.

Yet the word of God says that this world will pass away, and Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that we should keep our eyes on Him and then we will obtain peace. The Lord does not want us in a whirlwind of distraction or to lose sight of the purpose that He has for us.

I had to evaluate my relationships to determine if any of them were a distraction because we can unintentionally allow any kind of relationship to distract us from God. We need relationship with others, but if a relationship becomes more important to us than God, the relationship becomes a distraction. God calls us to love one another in 1 John 3:11 therefore love is an act of obedience to God. But we cannot forget about God in the process. We need to make sure we are giving God ample time every day.

I discovered that in order to grow in Christ, I needed to feed my spirit daily. Television, social media, and talking on the phone did not profit my life. They were distractions feeding my flesh. As John 6:63 states, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” I need the life of God’s word, daily.

I realized that I had allowed distractions to steal my time with God; I will not get that time back. Now I intentionally spend more time praying, reading the bible, meditating on His word and confessing the word over my life.

I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the times I had allowed distractions to prevent me from handling responsibility or facing difficult situations. I chose to renounce the spirit of distraction, take authority and use the keys of the kingdom to get rid of the distractions in my life. Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” I repented for allowing distractions to creep into my life and steal time from my relationship with God. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I had to ask the Holy Spirit to help me control my thought life and help me prioritize my time and schedules. Something that helped me was writing my to-do list for the following day each evening.  

It seems that distraction and procrastination are intertwined. It’s rare to find one without some trace of the other. When we procrastinate, we succumb to the distractions around us, putting off work as we choose instant gratification. The quickest way to break the procrastination? Realizing that emotions should not guide our choices. If we only do what we “feel” like doing, we miss opportunities to mature, develop, and discover purpose.  

Choosing to remain focused will limit distractions. Psalms 86:11: Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. Colossians 3:1-2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Distractions are inevitable, however we can choose to stay focused on God and His ways. We learn to do this by studying His Word and praying for His guidance. We then apply the truth of His Word, remain mindful of the areas and ways that tend to become distractions, and make the decision to faithfully manage our time. It’s not always easy, but we have God’s help.

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Everyday Irritations

16 Mar 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Lawanda Martinez

What has you inflamed and irritated? Is your mind racing? Do you feel as if you’re banging your head against a wall or do you just plain have a headache? Are you frantic with fear, panicking in an attempt to escape? Are you longing for relief? Psalms 23 could contain the very remedy that you’re searching for. Psalm 23 is generally narrated during times of death and grief, and often recited at funerals. Yet that depiction is only one facet of the Psalm. Think about the signature Life Builder bracelet that all first time guests receive. This bracelet reflects a great deal of light because it is multifaceted. The 23rd Psalm has many facets. One of the facets in the illustration of how the good shepherd cares for his sheep may be the very remedy that beautifully reflects the light needed to calm irritations.  David was a good shepherd who paid careful attention to his sheep. He noticed when his sheep were troubled. Sheep are especially bothered by nasal flies. These little flies buzz around the sheep’s head, attempting to lay eggs on the sheep’s nose. If the eggs hatch it will form a worm-like larvae. The larvae worm then works its way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head, creating intense irritation and inflammation.

To relieve these agonizing irritations, sheep deliberately beat their heads against trees or anything nearby. They will rub their head in the muddy soil and smack their head against wood. In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself. Advanced stages of nasal fly infection can even lead to blindness. When nose flies hover around the flock, some of the sheep become frantic with fear and panic in their attempt to escape their tormentors. As a result, those fearful sheep create a disturbance amongst the flock. There are times we may respond to irritations in the same way. Maybe it started with being nosy, getting in other people’s business. It could have been a situation that overwhelmed you with fear and anxiety. Maybe you continued focusing on the negativity in your life and a larvae worm was formed. You may have tried many ways to get relief like the sheep, but only found yourself muddied and dirtied. In your fear you may have even disrupted the flock and caused them to become fearful too.

 It is a good thing that the shepherd knows the season when the flies are amongst the flock. This reveals another facet of this Psalm- a remedy for the irritation. During fly season the shepherd applies an antidote to the sheep’s head. He prepares a homemade oil remedy to smear over the sheep’s nose and head to protect the sheep from the nose flies. If the sheep were chaotic and frantic this oil remedy would cause the sheep to calm down and feed quietly again, in peaceful contentment. This cure could very well be what David meant when he wrote, “Thou anointest my head with oil,” as it was the only antidote to the sheep’s irritation. What are you smearing or saturating your mind with. Is it thoughts of panic, worry or fear? Is it fault-finding, judging or criticizing others? Is it lies about your identity? If that is the case, keep this in mind, we too can apply an oil antidote to our heads named Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61:1 KJV describes the Holy Spirit as oil, The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.

 The irritation can start by judging others or getting offended and irritated with people. However we should not dwell on negativity. We are to love; in fact we are commanded to love one another. One of the prescriptions and instructions that teach us how to love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:5-6 NKJV Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 If a person who causes irritation, it would be so much more beneficial to love them to life instead of judging them to death. Loving them to life empowers both of you with love.  Let us draw closer to the Good Shepherd and allow him to anoint our head with oil today. Let us abide in His peaceful contentment and rest, this way we can assemble together in peace and feed with the flock.

The Pursuit of Excellence

10 Mar 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Amber Lawton

Fun. The concept isn’t new. Every generation has experienced a message projected at them regarding the subject. Millenials and Z’ers are no different. One thing that has changed is the clever campaigning. As media, and marketing become more advanced so do their messages. How do they get young people to buy into what they are selling? By spreading the message of fun. 

Interestingly enough as we pursue purpose we should find elements that are enjoyable. We should be filled with joy. Our purpose is interwoven with the nature of who we are, and if becoming who you are supposed to be is drab, then something is off track in our pursuit. 

As Christians we live a disciplined life, that is full of joy. There are elements of fun built in. However, there is a balance we want to reach. Let me explain. I was in a classroom the other day filling in for the assigned teacher. The students were given their assignments, and directives of working together. Each group of students were different. Some chose to do the work, but take their time socializing between questions. Some chose to primarily socialize, figuring they could do the work at home. A few did not select to work in a group, but worked independently and completed a majority of the work before the class ended. 

Observing the students, I thought: “How much could we achieve if we were disciplined, and focused on the task at hand?” Theoretically speaking we can achieve as much as we desire if we were able to set aside our own desires. Take these students, most of them have a relatively good GPA. Of course when the teacher’s away, the students desire to play. As I contemplated this illustration in front of me I considered this: “What would it take to achieve a 4.0?”

I have to ask myself, “when God gives me an assignment am I aiming for a 4.0?” When I am given a specific time to complete a task am I aiming toward excellence? Am I distracted by the idea of fun? Do I fall into the trap of laziness, or complacency? In Luke 9:23 when Jesus said to pick up our cross daily and follow Him, He wasn’t giving us a burden. He was instructing us so that we would give over our own desires to live a better suited life. A disciplined life is selfless, and joyful. A disciplined life causes us to exceed our own limitations. Think about it, if we spent time really assessing how we spend our time, we would not only grow exponentially, but we would excel. We would reach the greater reward. 

I read a quote once that said “What do Bill Gates, Beyonce, and You have in common? They all have 24 hours in a day.” I don’t know about you, but that shook me. I heard the ringing of my friends voice saying ‘play time is over’ as I slowly turned Netflix off. So today, I encourage you to find where there are time wasters in your life. What are the things that are stealing your joy? What are the things that are inhibiting your excellence? What is potentially keeping you from achieving a 4.0+ in your life? Find ways today to say yes to the needful things, and I promise a greater level of joy and fun will be had in ways you couldn’t even imagine. 

Immediately

02 Mar 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Judy Smith

The past rainstorms here in California got me meditating on Peter and Jesus and when they walked on water. They performed this feat in the midst of high winds and with high waves. Over the years I have studied and learned a great deal from the life of Peter; it seems we have much in common.

Matthew 14:30-31 NIV reads, “But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him…” How many seconds lie between the thought of sin and sinning? How many seconds between life and death? It could be a few seconds or less. And here in Matthew we see how even more swiftly Jesus moves in love. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The word “immediately” has been life and peace to me lately. One moment the disciples are in a storm, and the next moment Jesus was immediately walking on those troubled waters, walking to them in the midst of the winds and the darkness. Immediately, Jesus took Peter’s hand to rescue him!

There are times we endure a storm for a long period of time and the Lord will show us how to navigate the storm and keep our eyes on Him. And there are times He immediately rescues us and calms the storm. Whether we endure the storm for a time, or Jesus rescues us immediately, we witness firsthand that God is faithful and His love for us is unfailing. Our testimony is that He is mighty to save, and that He never leaves us or forsakes us.

Knowing that our Father is good, let’s immediately worship Him! Let’s not hold back our worship until the storm is over. We can worship Him now, He is worthy. Oftentimes we pray, “Lord send confusion into the camp of the enemy.” I believe that we send confusion to enemy when we offer the sacrifice of worship while we are yet in battle. While we are yet in the storm. Imagine: the enemy is doing his best to cause us to blame God, loose hope, and give up. All hell seems to raging, and even so we immediately choose to worship God!

Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV) But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” There is immediate power and freedom in our worship.

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I’m Included

17 Feb 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Kelly Elders
For more from Kelly Elders please visit: kellyelders.com

GOD IS INCLUSIVE!

One of the many reasons I love God is that He is inclusive. He is always including us into His story. We sometimes believe that God needs us to carry out His plan and purpose. The truth is God is God all by Himself. If He wanted, He could call forth an army of angels and clothe them with skin and they could save, deliver and heal as they spread the Word of God all over earth, yet He included us. He doesn’t even have to subject Himself to our economy, He is a creative God and could just make things appear, but He included us.

God is not limited to us but His desire is to move through us!

He includes us in His vision and invites us to take part. His hope is we will grab ahold of every opportunity set before us and run.

It’s time to partner with Him and carry out His purpose. We need to change our way of giving to get and instead start giving to further His vision. He wants to share heaven, power, provision, favor and so much with us and all we need to do is link up with His plan. We bring our obedience and God brings everything else! For our own lives, we need to link up with Him and step out into whatever He has for us. I no longer have to be focused on the outcome just focused on my obedience. The outcome is up to God. He says one plants, one waters but He brings the increase or growth (1 Corinthians 3:7). We just obey by being available, willing and doing all that He says. Sometimes God isn’t so concerned with the outcome as much as He wants to see if you will do what He asks, when He asks. Don’t get me wrong God is all about increase but wants us to obey and trust in Him no matter the outcome.

I have decided to change my focus from the outcome to obedience. I don’t need to look at the outcome to decide if I have succeeded. I succeed when I am obedient to Him. How freeing is that? Don’t measure your success by your outcome but by your obedience. We tend to measure victory by how many people showed up, by how many people responded, by how much money did it produce but what if it was just about you being obedient?

In Ezekiel 3:11 God instructed Ezekiel to go and say no matter the outcome.

“And go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel’s obedience wasn’t based on the outcome but on his obedience to God. God wants us to be included through our obedience. He wants to fulfill His purpose on this earth and He has invited us to take part!

Choose today, to be determined to just obey and let God be responsible for the outcome!

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