Encouragement

God's Focus is On YouPremium Content

Psalm 89:5 NRSV
Let the heavens praise Your wonders, O Lord, Your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.

I work in a very small, rural community. Often, when my husband and I go to the grocery store, we see students from one of the two school in which we work. The younger students are often amazed that we are there, as if they believe (which I think some do) that we should live our lives only and always at school. That's where they know us; that's where we belong. In their eyes, we are simply teachers with no other roles (such as spouse, parent, or friend) and teachers belong at school. I've even had very young ones run to the nearest aisle and peer out at me, wonderingly, afraid to talk to me outside of my "regular" sphere of influence.

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Are You Being Forced to Wait?

"I'm sorry, but you're fired," Pete's boss told him. "You've missed too many days, and you've come in drunk or high just as many."

Pete cringed, gathered his tools, and left. The bills continued to come. He heard plenty from his wife about the lack of money and the other jobs he lost.

He had to stop drinking and drugging. He couldn't go through this agony again. He couldn't go to the same places or hang around the same people. He'd give in to the pressure and drink or use again.

Pete told almost everyone he knew he needed a job. Hopefully one of them could help him obtain one. He and his wife prayed and waited.

Do You Know the Meaning of "God's Steadfast Love?"

Psalm 89:1-2 (NRSV)
I will sing of Your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that Your steadfast love is established forever; Your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

There is a great deal wrong with our society and within each person (since social ills begin within the individual heart). As a believer who lives in an extremely secular (and sinful) society (California), I could spend my days focused upon how much is wrong with all around me, bemoaning my fate and wondering what shoe will fall next. Or, I can choose with the psalmist to focus instead upon the Creator and Master of all, trusting that God is going to work out and win out in the long haul.

Father God's love is steadfast. The Hebrew word checed translated thus is interesting. Vine's expounded on its meaning:

    "In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: 'strength,' 'steadfastness,' and 'love.' Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. 'Love' by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet 'strength' or 'steadfastness' suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.

Quilter from Texas

Quilter from Texas

Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem?Premium Content

Hebrews 7:21-22, 24-25 NRSV
"The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,‘You are a priest forever' " -- accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant. . . . He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem, that illness, that sin? Can Jesus save? I think the answer ("yes") is something I believe intellectually, but not always something I believe in faith. I do have the choice of trusting (having faith) or observing (looking at what I believe are the facts) and often I choose the "facts" over faith.

I like optical illusions. But I have to admit, sometimes I don't get them. I look and look and just can't see what it is I'm supposed to see. It's the same with jokes. Often I listen to them and then... nothing. I just didn't hear the humor (while my husband is bent over laughing). Both are, in a sense, illusions for a reason. They take "fact" and twist it for a purpose (to amuse). So, I think, facts are not static. Facts are not, then, the same as truth because facts can obviously be manipulated.

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How You Can Get Sober and Stay Sober For GoodPremium Content

Have you ever tried to quit drinking only to go back to it again and again? When you get sober are you getting sober for you or for someone else? It is my firm belief that the alcoholic must "want" to stop drinking and get their life back together for themselves BEFORE true sobriety will ever happen. When we are not convicted in our heart and mind to give up the addiction for ourselves we will have a difficult time staying sober.

Let me tell you a little bit about my situation when I first quit drinking and then you can decide for yourself. When I first got sober, about 16-years ago, I did it for my husband. I thought I wanted to quit so I could save my marriage, but I realized later, when reality hit, that I really didn’t want to quit drinking, but only wanted to appease husband and extended family.

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Resting in His Righteousness

Have you been struggling with feelings of despair, fear, and anxiety? Do you think you let God down so He cannot possibly love you anymore?

I remember when I was so paralyzed by fear that I could not get out of bed in the morning. What seemed like endless nights tormented me as I lay awake through torturous hours filled with anxiety and loneliness. Yet the shafts of early morning light were only painful reminders to me that another long, empty day was ahead of me. I had lost the ability to look at anything through a positive lens, and my incessant negativity had driven away the few friends that I had known. I longed to be near the Lord, but I did not know how to reach Him. For I had given up on the promise of God found in Hebrews 13:5 Amplified Bible:

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!].

Fear and What to Do About It Premium Content

Everybody in this world who has any understanding of the world, experiences fear, likely everyday. There are the common fears such as: living in a safe city - you don’t want to be murdered, raped, robbed or beat brutally. These are understandable fears. But who controls the fears you have? Do your fears control you or are you in control of your fears? This is a huge question and one that needs to be discussed and clarified. Because there are actually 2 different types of fear for those who walk in the way of God, we need to differentiate between the two. The fear or reverence of God is a good fear, but not the one we will discuss here. Daily fear and fear that burdens us is the fear we will be discussing.

The Bible contains dozens of people who were afraid. Some of them experienced more fear than others, but just because someone does not fear as much as another, does not mean their fear is any less legitimate.

A small list of people who feared in the Bible include, but are not limited to:

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Being Victorious Over Your Enemies

Deuteronomy 28:7
"The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways."

Every believer has enemies. In fact, every believer has three enemies: Satan and his hoards, sin, and our own mortal flesh. Notice that I didn't mention other people... precisely because our warfare isn't against other people (for whom Christ also died), but against principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). But we do have enemies and we should be doing battle everyday against those enemies. The wonderful thing is that those enemies are already defeated. In fact, they don't simply skulk away from the direction they came. The Lord routes them in seven different directions! They fly pell mell, unable to even chart a course, due to their fear of the Lord's armies.

New Year's Resolutions

written January 1st but applicable to any new beginning

Today is traditionally a day of resolutions: I will eat more healthy. I will exercise more. I will spend more time with my family. To be honest, I’m just horrible with resolutions. Even if I make just one, I can do that one thing regularly... for a while... and then life comes crashing in and I find that my resolution (and all my good intentions) go right out the window. I just can’t handle looking at life over a long period of time. Too many things happen that make demands upon me... demands on my time, on my emotions, on my energy, on my focus.

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