Category Archives for "Weekly Encouragement"

November 3, 2016

Small Foxes

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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October 7, 2016

3 Things About Marriage

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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September 30, 2016

Pray It Loud

Written by Remaliah Evans

It’s been said, “if we really believed in prayer, we would pray a lot more.” Each time that I hear this I am convicted because I realize that there are times when I don’t pray because I am not fully convinced that praying will solve the problem. This thought is false because James 5:16 in the Message Version tells us that the prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. The New King James Version reads that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

We know that prayer is powerful but what kind of prayer? Do we need to pray out loud by verbalizing our prayers, or can we pray silently? I’ve been asked this question several times over the years and while I believe that we have the liberty to pray silently within ourselves, I have found that verbalizing prayer is more effective. Praying out loud increases our faith when we pray using scripture.

Romans 10:17 Then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Therefore, as we pray the word of God, our faith increases. It is entirely possible to pray without faith. We might pray something like, “Lord please help me, I really need your help right now. I know that You are able and that You are willing.” The words here are fine, yet it is more effective and it will build more faith to pray the scriptures out loud.  Instead, we can pray “Lord I am asking You for help because You are my strength and my refuge and a very present help in times of trouble (Psalms 46:10) and You promised that You never leave me or forsake me so I say boldly that You are my Helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6) Father God I know that You are faithful to help me because You perfect that which concerns me (Psalms 138:8) and I know that You will give me wisdom to handle this situation because in James 1:5 You said that I can ask for wisdom and You will give wisdom to me liberally.” When we pray the verses out loud we are building our faith because we are hearing the word of God.

            There are many voices that influence us – our spouses, parents, friends, children, pastors, mentors, God, bosses etc. Of all these voices there is one voice that we believe the most, our own voice. Others may have great influence however it is our own voice that we hear most. What we say within ourselves, and what we say out loud shapes our lives. Proverbs 18:21 death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it shall eat it’s fruit. Praying and speaking the word of God releases life.

What we say aloud also reveals what is in our heart. Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. When we consciously listen to what we think and what say, we will hear faith or we will hear doubt, and we will also hear who we believe God is and what we believe God will do. Many times we hear doubt and we hear ourselves accusing God of failing us or not keeping His promises. This is another reason why praying aloud is critical.

            When we pray the scripture out loud daily, we build our faith and begin to believe what we are saying. In doing so, our thoughts start to align with the word of God. Praying out loud makes it easier to recognize when our thoughts, beliefs, or words contradict the truth of God. When we recognize this misalignment we can cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 10:5. A preacher once said, “you don’t replace a thought with a thought. You replace a thought with a word.” We must verbally declare the word and/or pray when our thoughts are incorrect.

            Growing up my parents always told me that I was smart. I honestly believe that I did well in school simply because I believed my parents. As I grew older and entered the workforce I encountered many situations that required me to learn new skills quickly. Years ago I was promoted to operations manager in a sales company, and I had to learn operations, sales, office management, and contract negation simultaneously. I was overwhelmed and then I began to pray Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I would pray this verse everyday and say it several times per day when needed. God answered this prayer by sending me co-workers who graciously trained me and helped me whenever needed.

            Later I began managing two locations. Again, I was overwhelmed and consumed with fear of failure. I kept praying Philippians 4:13 and I also began praying Daniel 1:17 Lord I thank You that You have given me knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom, and You have given me understanding in all visions and dreams. The funny part about this prayer is that when I first started praying this verse I was not concerned about understanding dreams and visions, but then I started thinking that it would be nice to understand dreams. For years I have prayed Daniel 1:17 and the Lord has faithfully helped me learn many new things, including interpreting dreams.

            Job 22:28 instructs that we shall declare a thing, and it will be established for us; so light will shine on our ways. When pray the scripture out loud we are declaring. Likewise the Lord says in Isaiah 55:11 that His word that goes forth from His mouth, it shall not return to Him void, But it shall accomplish what He pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing for which He sent it. There is power in praying the word. In Romans 10:9 we see that we receive salvation by confessing with our mouth.

            Dilemmas and conundrums will arise, and when they do we must choose to pray the word of God out loud despite peril or disillusionment. Last November my doctor told me that I could not get pregnant under any circumstances. I was 32 years old with no children. At that moment fear and sorrow consumed me. What if died before I could marry and have kids? What if no one wanted to marry because I could not have kids? Why was this happening to me? It was a horrible moment and I cried…until I remembered what God had promised me through the Bible and through prophetic words. I remembered that He promised me health, a husband, and children. I still had to make a decision though, and I needed to make it quickly. I chose to trust God and pray the word. I see my doctor regularly and follow her instructions as I pray and trust God for my health and my children. I have not had a baby yet. Even so, I continue to pray the word aloud and declare life to my body because I know that the Father will fulfill His word and His promises to me.

In Genesis God speaks the world into existence. We are made in His image, and He also gave us the ability to speak life and change into existence. We speak life and change into existence by praying the word of God out loud. 

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September 15, 2016

Through It All

Written by Judy Smith

Through it all I have learned to trust in Jesus. Even so, adversity comes, and we and usually to find ways to avoid opposition. Our search for an easy life is nearly impossible, and this searching masks our need for Jesus. Instead of avoiding adversity we can allow Christ work in us as we walk through it.

 As the Lord directs our steps, He teaches us about Himself and we become more like Him. He empowers us to live on a supernatural level by depending on Him. When we are weak, we can encounter His strength. As we trust in Him we begin to understand that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. We will face situations that are literally beyond our ability to handle on our own. The reality of our inadequacy is not something we should try to avoid. We can’t. When we face our inadequacy and weakness, this is the perfect place to encounter God’s glory and power! Because at those moments, we know He is moving on our behalf.

 Watch Him working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of His almighty presence! Psalm 91:1 says: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” We take refuge in His shadow when we abide in His secret place. He towers over our problems, and is strong comfort in our sorrow.

 In the busiest of times, issues whirl around me so quickly they become a blur. I quietly whisper His name recognizing He is still with me, all while maintaining my activities. I find strength and peace through praying His name. Later, when the issues that I faced have run their course, I talk with Him in depth. I show Him gratitude for bringing me through and express my thankfulness for all He’s done.

 Let’s learn to accept each day as it comes and not to waste time and energy on wishing for a different set of circumstances. Instead, let’s trust Him enough to yield to His design and purposes. Remember, nothing can separate us from His loving presence. Say daily: “I am His and He is mine.” Rejoice with heaven. Revelation 19:1 says: “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!”

 It will be worth it all!

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September 1, 2016

What is Your Tree?

Written by Kelly Elders

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Genesis 2:6 Message Bible

Eve woke up every morning in total bliss. She was with the man that God had custom designed for her, surrounded by beauty with so many choices of fruits and smells and then visited by God daily. Who could ask for more?  Who wouldn’t love to wake up every morning surrounded by a beautiful garden, with the perfect man and walks with God? Yet, it would only take one conversation to change her world.

Sometimes you don’t know you are missing something until someone tells you. Growing up our dad worked for General Motors and made a decent salary but with 8 kids it didn’t always show. We all had chores, shared clothes, bedrooms and one bathroom. One day I went to a friend’s house and it was beautiful and grand. She had two closets full of clothes, a dishwasher, her own bathroom and no chores! That was it, I knew I was missing out on something better. I had never felt poor in all my life until that day. When I returned home nothing was the same. I now hated to wait for the bathroom, resented the fact I had nothing new, and hated washing the dishes. It changed my entire perspective from content to discontent in one moment. Just as Eve had access to so many trees all she could focus on was the one tree she couldn’t experience.

The Enemy tries to convince us of two things; to focus on what you don’t have and to believe that God is holding back His best.


Eve was surrounded by trees and the enemy came in to change her focus on the one tree she wasn’t to eat from. The enemy is using the same tricks on us and trying to convince us that we are poor. At first, Eve could see God in everything around her and with one conversation she changed her perspective. In order for the enemy to gain access to her life he had to get her to buy into a lie. The lie?

That you are poor in some area of your life and you must leave what you have and search for what is missing.

I hear so many people who break up with someone and say “What was I thinking?”, “What did I ever see in them?”. At first, everything they did was cute. You only focused on the good things and never even noticed the big nose, the crooked teeth, the little belly or the flaws and you married it. Now the things that attracted you now repel you. Now you are convinced you deserve a better husband/wife instead of working on the relationship you currently have you begin to change your focus on someone or something new. The tree that is off limits starts to look better than your own tree.

What if your tree represents your church? First you were so happy to connect and run with the vision but now you are convinced there’s a better tree out there. The enemy will try to convince us to leave the church where we are planted in order to stop our growth process. We encounter a offensive situation in church with people and think that by leaving it will keep us from ever experiencing hurt again. Instead of allowing the situation to mature us we choose to uproot and slow down the growth process. Church is full of imperfect people and it’s possible you could experience offenses, hurts and disappointments but you also experience those things on the job, in families and at school but we don’t easily walk away. Don’t allow the enemy to convince you that growth is suppose to be easy. It stretches you beyond your limits. You must forgive when your feelings are slow to catch up and persevere when you can’t see clearly ahead. Maturity requires a stretching. The only way your roots will become strong is to stay long enough for them to spread out. Before checking out ask God where you can grow though instead of just going through.


The enemy challenged Eve to change her view of God. She knew God, walked with Him in the cool of the day and had conversations with God. The enemy convinced her she was not only missing something better but that God was holding back His very best.

Have you ever believed that God could answer your desire or need but wondered if He would? You know He has the capacity but not sure if He will. The enemy has no new tricks he is still trying to convince us that God is holding out on us. We start to doubt that He has our best interest at heart and we begin to move out into our own efforts as Sarah did with Abraham. We think God needs our help when He really needs our surrender. He created us and knows us through and through and he has designed a plan to grow us and to bless us! Be convinced that you are not forgotten, overlooked or dismissed by God. He wants you to walk in His blessings more than you do but He is also wanting both our soul (mind, will & emotions) and spirit to prosper. The trees that God has provided are everything that you have need of and it’s enough to prosper you in every area of your life. Be convinced that God wants the very best for you and His best is better that we could ever ask, think or imagine.

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August 25, 2016

The Storm

Written by Petra Rodriguez

A storm is a violent disturbance of the atmosphere, which brings strong winds, rain, thunder, snow and lightning, such as an uproar or controversy.  At times, we are stressed and we feel like we are living in a cyclone so we give up and begin to drift away.

There is an account in Acts 27 which tells of Apostle Paul and other prisoners being taken away on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean. They had not seen sunlight in fourteen days. They were in total darkness and they didn’t see any stars. Not knowing where they were, they just kept drifting with the storm.

When we stay in the storm instead of the eye of the storm where it is calm, we begin to drift, and all we see is total darkness and hopelessness. We give up traveling toward any destination.  We begin to throw our cargo over board thinking it will help us from sinking, yet we throw away the things we need because the storm seems too tough.

This is a common reaction to difficulty. When the heat is on and the pressure is unbearable, we start to throw away the things we need to survive in the storm.  We may throw away faith in God, hope, courage, peace, dreams, goals, or purpose. We may even sacrifice the values and relationships that we would not normally guard.

We say things like, I’m throwing in the towel, I’m giving up on this marriage. I’m abandoning this relationship, etc. Are you facing a storm in life? Do you feel battered, like you are going to break down, or fall apart by the banging of the waves?

Don’t give up and become anxious and afraid. Don’t give up on your dreams and goals. Don’t throw away what you need to make it through the storm- God, always being your main focus.  God is the eye of the storm. He has complete control and His love surrounds calms and our souls. Let’s not drift with the storm, throw away  our focus and trust in God, abandon ship, or lose hope. We can weather anything as long as we stay calm in the eye of the storm. It will soon pass.

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August 18, 2016

Patience Isn’t A Bad Word

Written by Lawanda Martinez

I have heard people say, don’t pray for patience as if patience is a bad word. The idea is that if we pray for patience then our patience will be tested constantly. The bible says patience is a fruit of the Spirit. How can anything the Spirit produces be bad? Fruit takes time to grow and the time needed for growing is considered waiting. Are you waiting patiently? Anytime I think of waiting, I not only think about fruit growing, I imagine waiting in a doctor’s office for an appointment. Are you in a waiting room right now? Are you being told to wait?  

I am no stranger to being told to wait. I’ve had my variety of struggles and hard times. Recently, I was homeless and displaced. I wanted to look for a place to live or settle for just any place to rent for me and my kids. I also wanted what God would have for me. When I inquired of the Lord for His direction He asked me to trust Him and to wait. I actually wanted proof in writing that He wanted me to wait. He was faithful and confirmed His word when I read a something I wrote from a message at church. The note stated “a patient waits in the waiting room.” As I began to think about my situation, I rewrote the note to state “patience waits, in the waiting room”.

I began to ponder the idea of a patient waiting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, waiting to be called. Once the patient is called, the patient is directed to a room where more waiting occurs as the patient waits to be seen by the doctor. Once seen, the patient may be referred to have tests done or obtain a prescription. Both involve more waiting.

My waiting room experience happened over the course of three months. I was living my everyday life- going to work, church, the gym, the grocery store and simultaneously I was in a waiting room, waiting. During this time the fruit of patience was developing. Through seasons of suffering the roots of patience were growing deep. As my trials continued, the fruit of patience was finally maturing. The greatest part of waiting for the fruit of patience was when I was able to taste God’s faithfulness and His blessings.   

I was in need of a place to live. I had looked for rentals and homes for sale and it only frustrated me to see homes that were not in my budget, the wrong size, or in the wrong area. There were pressing issues at work and with my sons that needed my focus, and looking for a place to live was an additional burden. A burden that God did not want me to carry. I prayed for direction and I pleaded with God for an answer. God had already answered me. He said wait.  And the revelation from the note said “patience waits, in the waiting room.” If love is patient, then love waits. If God is love, then God waits too.

During this time I had shared with my son that the Lord told me to “wait.” Later, I said, “should I be looking for a place?” and he replied to me “looking is not waiting, wait means wait.”  Again, I thought to myself what does it mean to “wait”?

I was reminded how all throughout the Bible we are told to wait on the Lord. At the doctor’s office you know at some point you will be called. Sometimes we approach the receptionist to make sure we haven’t been forgotten because we’ve been waiting for so long. Yet we really have no alternative if we want to see the doctor, except to wait. While waiting at the doctor’s office, I usually bring things to occupy my time while my main focus is listening for when my name is called. I am waiting but I am not bored. There are other things I can get done while I am sitting down, this waiting time is the perfect opportunity to rest.

I could have disobeyed God and continued looking and getting bitter; instead I obeyed. I had peace about God’s instructions to me. I stopped looking and I waited. Since the burden was lifted, I began to enjoy my situation, discovering the good and the opportunities available to me. By not having household chores or expenses to deal with, I had more time to visit family and time for myself. I made a budget, I paid off necessary debt, my credit score increased and then one day out of the blue I received an email asking me if I was still in need of a home. It was a 4-bedroom home that I now own. When escrow closed I already had equity in my home.

What I learned through this waiting room experience was that it was impossible to wait well, until I had total confidence in the Lord’s faithfulness. I knew He had the ability to bring about a good resolution because I had a promise from God. Jeremiah 29:11 He has a plan and it is for good, to give me a future and a hope. My job was to believe God meant what He said. I had to stay in the position of waiting so that I was ready when He called my name.

God said He knows the plans He has for me and they are good. My outward situation seemed devastating, however inwardly I knew my foundation was my relationship with the Lord. I had been through hard times before and God had always seen me though. In similar past  experiences I had always waited in fear. This time there was no fear. I had grown with God to know that He was not oblivious to what was happening in my life. I knew He had the answers and I needed to trust Him. God said wait and so I said ok.  

Even though I may not know the appointed time, I know that to wait means carving out time, believing God will answer me within a specified time, and that He will help me, even after hours if necessary. God doesn’t always share how long we are required to wait. That is where faith comes in. Remember faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Having the confidence in God’s ability to bring about a good plan within His appropriate time is our responsibility. Then we will taste the sweetness of His faithfulness because we took the time to wait and we allowed patience have its perfect work in us.   

Do you find yourself in a waiting room experience? This is your chance to allow more faith to develop, as you trust in Him every minute of the waiting. Remember to put your total confidence in God’s faithfulness. Know that God has a good plan for your future (Jer 29:11). He is trustworthy. He loves you, put your hope in Him again. Even in waiting- believe God and believe His word. Jeremiah 29:11 is for you.

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August 4, 2016

More Than Enough

Written by Judy Smith

Every month as I sit to do my bills I find my faith tested. Not that I haven’t planned. I have actually become quite good at pinching pennies. Yet, there always seems to be something that comes up to throw off my carefully calculated budget. Expenses continue to go up, but my income has not. These unexpected bills make me want to throw out my careful calculations and say “forget it”! Instead, I do the math, think, and pray. At times, the situation feels impossible. How in the world are we going to pay for everything that we need to pay for? I must lay it all down and ask Jesus for help.

In Mark we see Jesus split a small quantity of fish and loaves to feed a large crowd. Mark 6:41 (NIV) says: “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.” Jesus has a different kind of math. Where we see little, He sees much. Things don’t add up the way we think they should, but Jesus answers prayers and He is working all things to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Take the feeding of the five thousand. When I add up five loaves and two fish, it equals a meal for a small family. When Jesus adds up five loaves and two fish it equals a meal for a hillside of people with twelve baskets left over. How do you start out with a sack lunch and end up with a fish fry for five thousand? I don’t know, but Jesus does. Psalms 46:1 He is our refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble.

This is why we should trust Him with our daily lives. We should trust Him with our worries, concerns, bills, grocery lists, and doctor visits. He has ‘divine math’. When He works in our lives, miracles become everyday occurrences. Thank Jesus for what He has already done in your life, and invite His divine math into any problems you are facing today. He is Jehovah Jirah, our provider! I see it every month. You will too, as you continue to obey His word and trust Him. 

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July 21, 2016


Written by Kelly Elders

I’ve never met a person who hasn’t been disappointed, betrayed, rejected or hurt by someone or something. We will never be able to avoid these moments. So instead of living separated from people, in a constant prison of loneliness or avoidance we can learn some of the best lessons even through pain.

Be Resilient

I bought a pair of Ugg boots when I came to California and took them back home to Michigan during the winter. Even though they are furry and very warm on the inside the outside couldn’t handle the rain or snow. They had no traction for walking on ice which I learned the hard way, and the water from the snow seeped right in and ruined them. They “look” like they are made for the elements but as I discovered they are best used in sunny California when the temperature is a mere 65 degrees!

The same is true with our hearts, we can’t just look like a Christian on good days. We need to keep the elements of this world from seeping in and that includes when people intentionally or unintentionally hurt us. The enemy knows if he can get you to walk offended, rejected and unforgiving that he stops you from moving forward. If you have been dealing with the same hurt for months or even years it’s time to get moving and start forgiving. What happens to you doesn’t have to happen in you.

God is your resilience and He will protect your heart like Rain-X!

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18

Be Forgiving

Many Christians believe God should go after the person harshly for the hurt they have caused. They want the God of Mercy when they’ve caused the hurt but the God of Judgement to those who have hurt them. Forgiveness is leaving God as the Judge and trusting Him to know what is best. When we sit back and wait for God to cause their destruction it’s silent revenge.

“Do not be happy when your enemy falls, and do not feel glad when he stumbles. The Lord will see it, he won’t like it, and he will turn his anger away from that person.” Proverbs 24: 17-19

 God did promise us this:

“You make ready a table for me in front of my haters: you put oil on my head; my cup runneth over.” Psalm 23:5

We can trust God because regardless of who doesn’t like us or who doesn’t think we deserve promotion, position or blessings we know that God is the one who promotes or sets down another. He will make sure all your haters will see how merciful God is towards those He loves and restores. He will bless you in front of your haters. All you have to do is come to God’s table and allow Him to feed you, cover you and take care of all the rest.

Don’t be your own hater. You may not think you deserve to be used or blessed by God but go to the table anyways and all those wrong thoughts will be cast down when you allow God to be your Host with the Most!

Be Oily

It was in the presence of enemies that God prepared a table. That means you can sit at the table and He will cover you with oil like a welcomed guest of honor while your enemies look through the window and see all that God has done! He is actually protecting you from your enemies while you are eating in peace. Oil is used on sheep and other animals to keep flies away and in the same way God protects us from those things that pester us and cause us frustration. Our enemies are not always other people, sometimes its ourselves and sometimes it’s just life at it’s worst but notice God prepared a table during difficult times. In difficult times it’s important to sit at the table and allow His fresh oil to cover you and protect you.

You can’t hold on to much with oily hands! Disappointment, unforgiveness and bitterness will all slip out from you so stay oily!

Continue to sit at the table and enjoy His blessings.

More from Kelly Elders at her blog

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July 14, 2016

Recognizing Pride & Control

Written by Amber Lawton

Pouring fresh pressed juice into a glass bottle with a small opening, I became frustrated as I had to carefully pour to not lose any of the juice. Impatience began to kick in as I stood there holding the container in place attempting to not spill and waste any of the juice. After a few minutes of doing this I was reminded that we did have a funnel which would make this pouring process much easier. With the bottle three quarters of the way full I decided the funnel was futile, and continued to pour by hand. Of course, without fail I did end up spilling and losing some of my precious juice. Cleaning up the mess I began to regretfully think about not using the funnel. I could have rationalized the loss of a bit of juice. Seriously, it’s just juice. But I was not happy about the outcome. That mess on the counter though wasn’t just a loss of juice. The mess spoke to a bigger issue with control. Had I used the funnel I would have completed the task in less time, and not wasted an ounce of juice. Pridefully I decided I was better off without it. In the same way, when we don’t fully rely and trust God with everything in our life we cut ourselves off from His abundant resources.

When we neglect seeking God, then we are telling Him we don’t trust Him. We are essentially saying “I can deal with this better than the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”Control comes in many forms. There are times we don’t even recognize that we are trying to control a situation, person, or circumstance,in our lives until we have a mess that needs cleaning up. As a result, we have two issues to deal with: the main issue and the mess. We essentially remove the protection we would have had, had we not decided to exclude God.When we go to God we can trust and believe for a favorable outcome because He promises good to His children. In the case of the juice, it may seem like I had to exude more patience by pouring alone.In reality if I had been patient in the beginning I could have taken the time to consider ways to complete this task. I would have thought of the funnel much sooner.

Control is deceptive. We are convinced that we will know the outcome when we take charge. We believe we can handle everything if we keep our hands in the mix. However, we end up escalating the issue instead of diffusing the problem. When we take situations into our own hands we open the door for the enemy. We know the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Why do we continue to leave a way of entry for him? Like any thief the enemy is calculating. Robbers case houses to determine a pattern in the homeowner’s activity. They watch to see where they will have unseen, easy access. Experienced robbers have a well thought out plan. They have strategy for their entry, movements, timing, and exit, in hopes of plundering as much as possible. The same can be said about satan. He is waiting at the back door and watching windows to find an easy entry. He’s hoping you forget what happens when you open any area of your life to him. He’s counting on you to leave him room to have a foothold.

I watched a video on a pretty popular blog aimed at millennials to gain understanding and perspective on how young people are being targeted. The video was of a “modern” witch explaining magic. By all accounts this video was created to make witchcraft appear harmless. In the beginning of the video was exactly what is wrong with control. When asked why she was a witch, the young lady responded: “I don’t want to wait for God to answer my prayers. That’s why I’m a witch. It’s a way for me to effect change in my life, but isn’t necessarily a belief in a higher power that I’m devoted to that I pray to.” She didn’t want to wait on God. She wanted change in her life without devotion. This is the problem with trying to maintain control. This is the very reason we should steer clear of control, and instead commit our devotion to God. Control can be seen in possessiveness, dominance, and manipulation. All are considered forms of witchcraft. You may consider yourself to be very devoted to God, but I would dare ask how devoted are you if you can’t hand over everything to Him?

In my twenties I purchased a book from a famous book club that was described as enlightening in the way we see God and purpose. I watched as many Christians gave great reviews and esteemed this book as highly motivating in drawing them closer to God. As I read the book I was disturbed to find many principles that had nothing to do with God but continuously led back to self. Ego was the greatest factor in this book.The author encouraged readers to discover ‘the god within’ them. Masked with spirituality, and dripping with a hint of new age appeal, this book was teaching pride. The more I read the more I could see how control and pride go hand in hand. The book was teaching how to gain control of the now by seeking inward. Matthew 6:34 says: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We are to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first. Before we settle on a plan, we should desire to consider God’s will and purpose. After all, every day ‘has enough trouble’. Proverbs 3:5­7 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding& in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes&fear the Lord and shun evil.” The scripture says to trust with all of our heart. When we lean on our own understanding we are missing key elements that only God could know and see. He may not reveal everything to us, but he will steer us clear of danger and crooked paths. Trust is the opposite of maintained control. When we are wise in our own eyes we are prideful. Yet, the fear of the Lord is what prompts us to fully trust Him and stay away from evil of any manner.

Today, be willing to open up to God about where you are in the area of control. Share with Him all your fears, or disappointments. Allow Him to release you from this bondage so you can walk freely on the straight path He places before you.

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