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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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God Is Able To Save Our Children

03 Feb 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Lawanda Martinez

As parents, we grieve over the poor choices our children make. But never fear, there is great power in prayer! Know that God draws near to the brokenhearted. Not too long ago my young son was lost in addiction and chose to live on the streets. Yet through the entire journey the Lord was faithful. He steadily comforted me through various passages found in The Bible.

The book of Lamentations 2:19 states, “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner.” 

This passage spoke directly to my situation as I that parent, crying out through the night for my child. My mind would wonder off imagining if he was hungry or begging for money or food on the street corners. My heart was spent with aches, prayers and tears. In this trial I had to remain confident in the Lord’s ability to save him. It wasn’t about being angry at the Lord for the choices my son made or about putting myself down wondering what I did wrong. I just missed my son, I wanted him home safe.

We live in this world with enemies all around us.  Being able to recognize the strategies of the enemy is important. The enemy was the attempting to take me out and accuse God for my son being gone. Here I am a faithful mother raising my children in the faith and now my son leaves the safety of his home and becomes a prodigal. In times past I may have gotten angry and blamed God but not this time; I had come too far with God to blame him. I had to recognize where the schemes were coming from and make a choice to stand firm in my faith in God rather than blame God. I chose to believe God is good and that He is for me and my son. I didn’t question why this was happening. I chose to wake up and recognize who my enemy was and stand up and fight for my son because he was in darkness and headed for serious trouble. I reminded myself what the book of Ephesians chapter 6 states, “when you have done everything you can to stand, stand therefore.” The position of standing is there for a reason.  It didn’t say quit or complain, it said to stand. It also says the shoes you stand in is the readiness of the good news in peace.  

So I positioned myself to stand in the scriptures that brought me peace and comfort, one of which was the parable of the Lost Sheep found in Luke 15:4 wherein Jesus told this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one… ” Jesus is the Good Shepherd and I believe He will go after that one, your special one.

While my son was gone, moment by moment throughout my day the Lord would fill me up with strength to endure this trial and stand. Yes, I missed my son so much. I prayed he come to the end of himself, wake up and come to his senses. I remember creating a private prayer group on Facebook for my son where just certain family and strong believers were invited to pray for him. This platform helped me to write out my prayers. It also provided a place for other to encourage me but more importantly partner with me in prayer to stand for his liberation. As I reflect back on it today I the faithfulness of God.

Though my son was not home, I was able to be filled with hope, faith, joy and expectation. I know our God is good. I believe He is a good Father and He never leaves us. I believe He never forsakes us and He knew where my son was. So during my trial I continued to press into God to know His character. I found certain worship songs that would elevate the greatness of our God and this would encourage me to have more faith. Worship also filled me with the confidence to stop worrying about my son. Instead I held onto God’s promises and celebrated in advance his homecoming. I faithfully attended woman’s bible studies and surrounded myself with believers who actually believed God could save my son. When negative people would speak against my son and his past reputation of failure rather than on God’s reputation of faithfulness, my position to stand for truth was to quickly forgive them and separate myself. I had keep a clean heart to stand strong in believing God could save him. There were moments when my broken mother’s heart would fail yet I had to remind myself God, He never fails. I couldn’t rely on people to build me up if they were not relying on God to build them up. Instead I needed to draw closer to God.

When adversity hits your family, stay connected to God in worship and be filled up and encouraged through scripture. If you’re a parent grieving over the choices of your children, I would encourage you to forgive them for their choices. Forgive yourself for any shortcomings and get realigned with God. Ask Him to forgive you if you had any doubt in His ability to save your children and then strap up in your holy armor and stand in prayer to battle for the lives of your children. Know that there are more for you than against you. God is for you, you got the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the blood of Jesus, the keys to the kingdom, angels, the living Word and a company of women who will partner in prayer for your children. 

Today, I am happy to report my son is home safe and serving the Lord. To God be the glory. Great things He is doing and great things He will continue to do. I believe in the God of miracles for you too.  “And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:5-7

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Position

09 Jan 2017, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Amber Lawton

The morning of my niece and nephew’s winter performance at school I found myself circling the neighborhood for parking. After a lengthy trip in one direction I turned around and headed back towards a relative’s car five blocks past the school. I reached a long stretch of street parking that had a set of trash cans positioned in the middle of it. All of the cans were empty so I lined my car up to the part I could park in, but needed a few inches more. I didn’t think anything of adjusting one of the cans towards the others since it was haphazardly positioned in the road. This wasn’t the only house with cans out so it seemed as if maybe the garbage man had dropped it and went about his business. Apparently, I was wrong.

As I was heading back to my car the owner of the home came bouldering out of the front door. With a look of rage he yelled “you can’t park here, I got someone coming.” The space was large enough for two SUV’s and a midsize car. I drive a Honda Civic. You can imagine the baffled look on my face. I responded that I was going to the school performance which would be very short, and the stretch he was protecting is public parking. There are no signs stating parking is not allowed. After a few choice words on his part he positioned himself directly in front of my car and said I would have to run him over if I wanted the space. I was already in my car trying to figure out how to get away from him because the argument wasn’t worth it. I was there to see the kids. He continued on with such a fury that his words began to anger me. He did not own the street. However, instead of rationalizing in my mind how justified I would be to react, I decided to bless him.

You see friends, as a part of my mind renewal process a few years back I decided that no matter what, I would be mindful in what I say about or towards another. Coming from a place of negative thinking and victim mentality this way of responding has helped in the way I see people and my circumstances. Do I get it right every time? No, but I do my best to control my tongue. Words aren’t always necessary, but in some instances they are  a knee jerk reaction.

Sitting in my Civic, facing a man provoking me to hit him with my car, I felt the words escape my mouth: “I hope you have a very blessed Christmas. That regardless of how you have acted towards others, this holiday season I hope you experience the love of God and He tremendously bless you.” His face was astounded. He got quiet. As I backed up I confirmed it with “That’s right, God bless you.” Then, as if I cursed him, he began yelling again as I pulled away. Heading back toward the school, unsure of where I was going, a parking space had opened in a much closer spot.

The occurrence of that morning reminded me of Luke 6:28 (AMP) “bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” How difficult this instruction is  when an opportunity of seemingly justifiable revenge presents itself. How easy it becomes to forget that we are to show kindness to those who curse us. We want to clear our name, when the Lord says vengeance is His. What would have happened had I continued to argue with the man? I could have fallen into the trap of anger and told him off. Or worse, I could have actually hit him with my car! Had I done those things I would have put myself in a worse position, and missed the favorable parking space ahead.

There are times when people position themselves against us for whatever reason they choose. Sometimes they have claimed ownership to some position, person, or thing illegally. Our job isn’t to fight with them or remove them from the place they have unrightfully claimed as their territory. We are to bless them. We are to pray for them. We should trust that our Heavenly Father will do a work within them to open their eyes and change their hearts. We must also trust that what He has for us is for us. No matter the improper positioning of another, as long as our heart is pure before Him, He will reward our faithfulness to Him with great favor. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:34 NIV

Just One of Them Days

17 Nov 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Lawanda Martinez

How often do we look at the circumstance around us but forget to look for the Lord in it. Have you ever had just one of them days? You know those days I am referring to, the ones where it seems like nothing is going right.

Back in my BC (Before Christ) days, I used to like this R & B song called “Don’t Take It Personal” by Monica. A portion of the lyrics states

Just one of them days

That a girl goes through

When I’m angry inside

Don’t want to take it out on you

Just one of them days

Good new, God has a good plan for your life and for times when you’re having just one of those days. Jesus knows about those days and He has provided a prescription for us, in Jeremiah 29:12-14 NLT.

He says in verse twelve In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

How reassuring it is to know that when you have just one of those days, the Lord is ready to listen to you and you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart.

Also did you notice He said in those days when you pray I will listen. He already knows that we are going to have one of them days. Notice that God said He will listen. That right there should comfort you because most of the time all we really want is for someone to listen to us I mean really listen to us and not interrupt.

When you’re having one of them days, just vent to Jesus.

I have been in the office and have seen and heard of people who have had a bad day. As they are filled with so much frustration they declare this is the day from hell. They begin to praise the enemy with songs of disaster stating, “first I locked my keys in the car, then my son bumps me and I spill coffee all over my dress, I have to go inside to change and the button pops off my blouse, then my daughter forgets her backpack in the car so I have to turn around, then when I arrived at the school if that wasn’t bad enough the teacher comes out to tell me how my child is not working to her full potential, was using a cell phone in class, fails to turn in assignments timely, OMG. Then when I arrive at work, someone just cut me off and stole my parking place; can you believe the nerve of these people, so I had to find parking elsewhere and walk half a mile to get here, and of course I’m late.”

Heaven is not at all surprised at what has happened to you today. There is no frustration in heaven. In those days let’s not give the devil any place by saying this is the day from hell. Because hell cannot create anything. Remember what God’s word states “This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Remember what James says to Count it all joy. When? When you are in various trials and situations.

Instead of saying, “why this happening to me?” a better questions to ask would be to ask the Lord, “How do I count it all joy?”  The question “How” invites Holy Spirit into the situation to create destiny and possibility.

Look at what James has to say on this. James 1:2 NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. The NIV translation of James 1:2 states: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. How do we consider it pure joy? Have you ever thought when you’re having just one of them days to consider it an opportunity for great joy. We should then look at a definition of joy.

Joy is defined as cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight — gladness, greatly, (be exceeding) joy(-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous). Remember when you have one those days,  that this is the day the Lord has made, you are empowered to walk in calm delight.

Let’s turn it around and recount the events of the day with joy:

The events of today have greatly opened my eyes to see that I need to slow down and take more time for the people and things that matter in my life. God thank you for changing my outfit and redressing me today, for showing me to slow down,  that my mind is all over the place and I need you to trust you. I have been forgetful and busy. I see your grace by showing me that my busyness & forgetfulness is transferring to my children. I am so glad I was able to get my daughter her backpack that she forgot. Today, I was able to learn some of her shortcomings in class. I know you will show me the way to handle this situation with her, with understanding and grace instead of guilt shame and ridicule. I really needed that front parking and I was upset because that person took it from me.

Lord forgive me for allowing my anger to get disproportionate to the situation and allowing these little things to ruin my day. This is not the day from hell, this is the day you have made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. I am glad that you care for me and that you have so much grace for me even when I am so hurried and making a mess. I am glad that I could cast all this on you and trade this frustration for peace and calmness. Calmness is joy, I delight in you. Lord Jesus, I am glad for the things you’re showing me. Bless the person who stole my parking, and help them slow down to see you in their morning. I am glad I was able to walk that ¼ mile and get some extra steps in on my Fitbit and get some exercise in.

That unplanned walk sure did me good because it helped me spend time with you and give you all this stuff, this time alone, you trained my tongue. I would have been a hot mess coming into work cussing and stuff. You oh Lord are able to turn this day around and you are bigger than anything the enemy would throw at me. Help me Lord to be better prepared tomorrow and to allow more time to enjoy you and the goodness all around me.

Remember, when you are having one of those days, Pray! He promised to listen. Also, stop and look for Him, wholeheartedly, and you will find Him. He will restore you and bring you home again to your own land.

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Small Foxes

03 Nov 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Amber Lawton

Secretly I have an affinity for cats. I can’t say that I am a total cat person. I am definitely a dog person. Yet, I can’t escape the little furry face of manipulation when a cat wants a good petting. Seriously. The creators of the animation ‘Puss in Boots’ got that face and response down to perfection. Who can resist those sad eyes? I surely can’t, and I absolutely should. As much as I have a liking to cats I also have very bad allergies to the little fur balls.

Recently I was invited to cat sit for a friend. My response was an immediate yes. No question about it, I was sure I could do the job without any reaction. Unfortunately I was wrong. In just a few short hours I found myself at the whim of this little creature. She literally mewed and sad eyed her way into my heart. What started as a light pat turned into minutes of petting. I walked away, and washed my hands. As the first sneeze hit I looked down, and saw one hair on my shirt. Just one hair! Then I noticed a cluster of hair on my pant leg where she sat next to me. After showering and changing I still had congestion, and itchy throat, and eyes. Not one for allergy medicine I sat waiting for the symptoms to subside.

If only I had stayed away from the cat. I knew the end result. On the other hand I have done an incredible job over the years of staying away from cats that I hadn’t considered how easily affected I would be. Nor did I think that one hair would set off a chain of events like this. That is until I remembered “the small foxes.”

Song of Solomon 2:15 says “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.”

This scripture is making reference to the small things that could harm the love of the bride and bridegroom. In a precautionary way the bride is being protective of her love for her groom, by asking for the foxes to be caught. Foxes are sneaky little creatures that can get into much trouble quickly.

Over the course of the last few months I have found temptation to pop up in unusual ways. These temptations were all minor judgement calls. Nothing that goes outside of the will of God, yet options that could definitely be a distraction. With each distraction a bigger adverse reaction could be around the corner. At this time of my life I have made the decision to fall wholeheartedly into relationship with the Lord. I am determined that nothing can be bigger, or stand brighter than His love for me. My vineyard is growing, and beginning to bloom. So, as I looked down, and sneezed at this one piece of hair on my shirt, I was reminded of the foxes. As funny as this sounds some of the greatest lessons are in the simplest of moments. Go there with me for a minute. Here I am, knowing I am allergic to cats, and yet I am pulled into a pit of empathy for this creature that wants attention. Then I give in for one brief second, sure that I can stop after a second, without experiencing an allergic reaction. Of course, when that time has passed I am still standing there thinking of a good time to walk away. Once a reaction hits then it’s time to move on, but by then I can’t control the negative reaction. Plus, I have the residue of what caused the reaction all over me.

Therein lies the reason the little foxes- distractions and temptations- need to be caught. If we allow our eyes to be diverted, even momentarily,  our vineyard will be ruined.

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3 Things About Marriage

07 Oct 2016, Posted by admin in Weekly Encouragement

Written by Kelly Elders

 

Recently, we celebrated 29 years of marriage and it’s been eventful! We have had the opportunity to grow through some hard times whether it was financial hardship or staying committed we came through stronger and much wiser. I thought I would share some things I tell my daughter about marriage and things I wish someone would have told me when I got married.

 

Never Marry Someone’s Potential

 

So many times I may hear a person talk about how much potential someone has and though I believe everyone has potential I wouldn’t recommend you marry their potential. The problem is that not everyone will fulfill their potential. When you choose to spend forever with someone you have to accept them for who they are in that moment. It’s funny how men will marry a woman and never want her to change and a woman will marry a man hoping they will change. Ask yourself, if they never changed for the better would that be okay? Do you love them without trying to fix or repair them? You cannot always be the hero of their story. I married at the young age of 18 (which I don’t recommend) and thank God we were able to grow up together and accept the changes and the unchanged. Neither of us had any idea what our changes would look like or what areas would stay unchanged but one thing both of us had was commitment even though it was shaky at times. Our commitment first to God helped us never give up and here we are  29 years later and I am grateful for the good and even the worst of times. It’s made us stronger and much more appreciative and it helped me to learn to be a protector of our marriage. You will protect what you value.

 

Love & Forgiveness

 

I had this understanding that marriage was all about staying in love and if you had love you would always be together. Every romance movie gave the impression it just works out in the end with no morning breath and a beautiful sunset into happy ever after. No one mentioned the many opportunities to forgive and the perseverance marriage takes. There is no greater relationship to learn to forgive than marriage. It’s not only because of the love you are able to forgive but the choice to forgive. If you can’t forgive the one you should trust the most in this world then you need more understanding of the fullness of God’s love. Things will be said that you can never take back, you will be disappointed at times and even wonder if it’s worth it but if both people can keep a servant’s heart, I guarantee it will be worth it. I wish I would have been free to love and be loved without holding back. Always testing the boundaries, not believing I could be loved forever and believing something bad was just around the corner seemed to hurt our relationship. It took many years to believe he would never leave or that he really could love me with all my flaws. So many of us go into relationship with abandonment and rejection issues that we begin to sabotage our relationships and then when they don’t work out we use it as proof that we are not worthy of love. You are worth being loved so much so that God even told husbands how they treat you is important.  

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 NLT

God loves you so much that He cares how you are treated! Can you believe He says this? He won’t even answer some prayers if you are not treated well by your spouse. I believe this goes both ways. In this time and culture women were not revered by men so He highlights it for the men but I am sure God would also tell the women that our prayers can be hindered if we mistreat our husbands. So be vulnerable to love knowing God cares about how you are loved.

 

Same Love, Same Team

 

“Let love make you serve one another” Galatians 5:13 (TEV)

Sometimes we can forget that we are on the same team. There’s no winner unless both win. If you are so set on always winning then you truly love yourself more than anyone else in the relationship. Marriage is all about serving one another and meeting each other’s needs. You can be the best volunteer in church and serve every Sunday but if you don’t serve your spouse you might not understand servanthood. Serving starts in the home. If both husband and wife lived meeting the other’s needs you will have found the secret to a happy marriage. It has to start with someone so why not you? Remember, you are fighting for the same thing, a healthy marriage. Somehow we need to get rid of the feeling that we are going to get misused or it’s never going to work in our favor. That would be manipulation if you are only loving for something in return. The scripture says, “Perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18. If you still carry some fear to freely love your spouse then you need to grow in God’s love. No one is keeping count on who loves who more and shows it more often. Sometimes we just need to realize we love each other differently and accept love differently. The best way we learned to understand our love languages was when we read the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. I was loving the way I wanted to be loved instead of loving the way my husband needed to be loved. He was showing me love the way he desired to be shown love. When we have a heart to serve we will go to great lengths to learn to love in their language.

Whether you are single, married or starting over it’s never too late to improve your relationships or future relationships. Be Loved & Love Freely!

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