ENCOURAGEMENT FOR 2019 – the double-sided Mirror

Good morning,

In just about every carnival, there is usually a “fun house” in which there are many different mirrors of various sizes, material composition, and refraction. These mirrors are altered in such a way as to grossly misrepresent what the person standing in front of the mirror looks like. People go to these Fun Houses for entertainment value. In similar ways, our adversary, the Devil, leads us through fun houses “our daily life” placing mirrors which play on our ego or weaknesses for his entertainment and our emotional demise. It was this side of the mirror that led David to call for a census that would ultimately lead to the nation being decimated (1st Chronicles 21 and 2nd Samuel 24).

Unlike carnival Funhouses, the mirrors the Devil uses plays on our minds like a broken record. Consider David’s indiscretion with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). When David first saw her bathing, the mirror of “lust” played on David’s mind long before they spent the night together. Once the wheels were in motion, the Devil simply replaced the mirror of lust with the mirror of guilt; from guilt to desperation; from desperation to murder which is the reverse of 2nd Peter 1:5-7. Like a master play director, he changes the mirrors seamlessly and always in the dark. In the same way that David was led down the primrose path, the Devil leads us also. For this reason, we see otherwise intelligent people committing the most unthinkable things.

The part that the Devil does not want you to know about his fun house is that there is an opposite side. This side of the mirror is how God sees us and the circumstances surrounding our life. God does not give us a different set of mirrors nor does he sell us on a dream. He tells us the truth about who we are right where we are. The reason he does this is to grow us and help us to conquer the pitfalls of our life. Consider Peter in the days following the biggest flop of his life. From this big flop, he was restored and would be asked to take care of the fledgling group through the storms to come which was a special honor for Peter. In the same way that Peter was restored, many millions over the past 2000 plus years have come to know this savior and have not regretted it (John 21: 1-19). The good thing about both sides of the mirror is that we see ourselves with much greater clarity; that is, we can see our weaknesses and can come to grips with our failures; it is these very weaknesses, after all, that brings us to the throne room of God. We may not like what we see and may even try to run away from it or try to justify it away sort of like when Jonah ran away from his assigned mission (Jonah 1). Yet, when we come to God, he turns the mirror around so that we can see that our fall, however bad as it appears to be or as painful as it is, it is no match for God’s grace and forgiveness.

You can look in the mirror and find a million things wrong with yourself. Or you can look in the mirror and think, ‘I feel good, I have my health, and I’m so blessed.’ That’s the way I choose to look at it.” Isla Fisher “If you do not like who you are, you will never like what you will become.” Mike Krier

Father,
Thank you for helping me to see who I really am in you. The world looks for perfect people and encourages people to change our natural beauty for a made-up look in order to win approval. Yet, you see our flaws and all and still love us. Help me never to forget that even the Devil’s lies have an element of truth however small or twisted it might be; in view of this, help me to pray through those areas and not try to hide them. Please help me to see others as well as myself through your side of the mirror; while it does not make the bad go away, it will help me to deal with the issues in the light of truth and make inroads to healing. Watch over my family, friends, and nation today and every day.

Mike
All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

Encouragement for 2019 – Stories and the True Story

Good morning,
Over the past few days, I have been listening to the “Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. The book captivated my imagination because of fast action and how the author tied references to pieces of art, historic landmarks, and talks about ancient organizations in order to maintain verisimilitude. Where I struggled with the book was that it belied everything we have been taught about our Savior. As a born again Christian, I know in whom I have believed and nothing this book has to say would ever change my mind. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same mindset as I do or are not as strong in their faith and this is the point I want to bring out. When we are not strong in our faith for whatever reason, books like this tend to cause confusion; or, as Proverbs puts it, “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet (Proverbs 27:7). For this reason, the Devil leverages stories against mankind; look at what he did to convince Adam and Eve that fatal day in the garden (Genesis 3:1-4). In Proverbs7, we see a young man going down the street towards the prostitute. Notice how the exuberant woman spins the tale of a “night in paradise”, “no one is home so no one will ever know”, “I have paid my vows” so what we are doing is ok, “I have food offerings at home”, “I came out to look for you” this makes the young man feel pretty special. in the end, he walked off with the woman not knowing just what awaited him and just how many have fallen for the same trap. As you know, the Devil never comes out in a scary outfit to frighten his target, he uses conversation to disarm his target. When he tells you things, he gives you just enough information to make the whole conversation seem genuine or to be genuinely concerned for you. There is a caveat to this conversation, though, and that is “Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle.” (The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis)

In scripture, we hear the word “idol” and it conjures images of items that are made from wood or stone; however, there are many things in our lives that can become idols and as such will be used by the Devil to lead us down roads that we don’t want to go. As an example, I heard other people talking about the Cisco certification track and I wanted to get certified. I spent plenty of money trying to get it but always coming away empty. Every time I failed the test, I became resentful and this caused problems in my life and in my home. I envied people that were able to take tests and pass successfully. The Devil will use whatever medium he needs to get the child of God spun in the wrong direction and it always starts with a simple conversation. Unfortunately, we will not always know we are on the wrong road until we are hopelessly trapped. My encouragement for you today is for you to become fully versed in the true story of Jesus, his love for you, and the desires he has on your life.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NLT. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Martin Luther King Jr.

Father,
Thank you for all that you do in our lives. Help me to banish from my life the lies which hamper the words of encouragement to lost and hurting world. Grant that my eyes, ears, hands, feet, and heart be always open to you so that you may use them. The Devil is a roaring lion seeking to destroy of that there is no doubt. Yet, he is no match for you. The Devil will always have a story to tell and knows just how to twist the words in such a way as to persuade even the most intellectual of people; Yet, his lies will not stand up in your court. May your lead and direct our lives today.

In his Name
Mike
All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

GOD OF IMPERFECT PEOPLE


Good morning,
Those who know me, know how I struggle with self-esteem and it shows in ways I do not care to mention. In Junior High School, I carried a picture of my older sister in my books and would look at it to get a little bit of courage when school and homework became unbearable; probably wasn’t her best picture but, it was all I had to hold onto. You see, I struggled in school especially in math and art; everyone else did better than me and each low grade brought me that much was closer to the end of my rope. To add to my misery, my peer group picked on me a lot. I so desired to be like the successful kids who seemed to be enjoying school, asked to be a part of groups, and mentioned in the School yearbook; I even imagined what it would be like yet, it was only a fantasy because I was not like them by any stretch of the imagination and thank heavens for that. My Father, like my older sister, could do just about anything and could talk to anyone and get a good conversation going; so, I tried to be like them and what a mistake it was! I would find out later in life that when we try to be like those we idolize, we lose our identity and it creates further confusion in our life. The other part of the problem with people is that we do not always know what is going on in the background. When these so-called perfect people fall and they all do, those who followed them become disillusioned sort of like what happened with King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).
As I said, my father was amazing, he never seemed to make a mistake. Years later, though, I asked him, “how on earth did you always obtain perfection; you never made a mistake”? He laughed and said, “I was just a little bit quicker to clean things up before anyone found out”. This was an epiphany for me because, I then understood that just because someone had success in something by no means implies, “they never made a mistake”; it just means that the mistake may never have been found out. You see, our perceptions are warped when all we see is the outside and we as humans tend to fall into this trap many times throughout our life. It is a truth, that no one knows what the other person is going through and just because that other person is smiling and laughing, doesn’t imply, “life is at its best”. Consider the late Robin Williams whose charismatic personality brought laughter to millions all the while, he suffered with severe depression leading to his suicide; or, as proverbs so accurately puts it, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains (Proverbs 14:13 NLT)”. Only until we enter the throne room of God do, we actually find out that the only perfect person is God himself (Psalms 119:96). For these same reasons, I believe scripture is open and transparent about how sin ruined lives and no one was beyond God’s red pen of correction. Imagine, if you will, that the only records in scripture were of perfect people, it would be a mere work of fiction and be devoid of hope because there is no way you nor I could ever measure up and there would be no pathway for me to the Kingdom of God. The events and snippets of scripture are there so that we can learn to avoid sin and to know without a doubt that if God can love a David in view of the debacle with Bathsheba if he loved a womanizer like Solomon, he loves us and desires the best for or life. My encouragement for you today is to look past the veil of perfection as the world shows it and see God’s love for you exactly as you are.
I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for. Perfection is God’s business Michael J Fox. “I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus[f] be with you” (Romans 16:19-20 NLT).
Father,I pray for my friends and family today. May you guide us by your eyes and lead us by your Spirit. Help me to ever keep my eyes on you in all that I do. I pray for those facing steep medical issues, financial issues, and personal issues. Help them to sense your presence about their life. Please help me as I face my life to always know with firm conviction that I cannot be like others and walk free in your kingdom. Doubtless, there will always be the perceived epitome of perfection help me to pray for that person that their pride did not get in the way of walking with you. May your good Spirit lead and guide my friends and family today.
Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

 

 

 

Encouragement for 2019 – Keep Your Eyes on The Prize

Good morning,

A few days ago, I had the chance encounter to talk to a Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and his wife while at a business meal. I walked over and thanked them for their service. As we talked, he mentioned that he is in the state for recruiting. This was their first time in the state of Minnesota so, I told them about the fall colors on the North Shore of Duluth; this was met with exuberance as they had plans to go see them. Early this morning, I thought about the conversation and reflected back on my days in recruiting. When I first graduated from recruiting school, I was looking forward to the tour with great joy because I was in my home state. While in recruiting school, I heard nothing but “this is the best job ever”. My previous tour was extremely successful thanks to prayer and the support of my local church and I thought I could use that same model in this job. At first, I earnestly worked towards that goal however, within six months, things began to unravel both at home and on the job. I would work longer hours thinking, “I am doing this for my family”. I began to also focus on “getting promoted” and did so by listening to bad advice without one time considering what it would cost me. In the end, I did not get promoted and walked away from recruiting to do menial work at the Recruiting District office until my retirement in 1997.

In a way, I felt like Naomi who left the land of Judah to go live in Moab due to a famine. Prior to her departure from Judah, Naomi was content and happy, but situations dictated a change in venue. During the time in Moab, Naomi became despondent due to the harsh conditions, the loss of her husband and her two boys. In the end, Naomi did return to Judah but, she wasn’t the same person who left Judah (Ruth). Prior to Recruiting, I walked with the shout of the King and the Devil shook when I prayed. While recruiting, I became infected by the grime of corruption. In the end, I walked with a hobble and my prayers were ineffective and the Devil laughed when I sought God’s favor. The point I want to get across to you and my encouragement for you is, don’t ever let the good that you have seen in life or the good you have done be eaten away by the harsh conditions for which you find yourself in. Always, keep your eyes on the prize. Life is unfair and it can be bitter, but we do not need to be defined by it; rather, define our world by our outlook. It is true, we cannot always live mountain-top lives, sometimes we have to live in the valleys in order to grow our faith in God[1].

 “All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” —John Wooden. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.  Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2nd Peter 3:17-18).
Father,

Every day of our life is present from you. Help us to ever keep my eyes on you. The Devil has made it his goal to destroy every place where your Spirit has dwelt in order to bring all of mankind into submission. When we chose to look past the darkness of sin and see the beauty of life, we deny the Devil and upend his quest. The previous work that we do in life breeds hopes for a future generation. For this reason, help us to never allow the bad things in life to eat away at the beautiful parts of our world. Watch over the people on my prayer list and keep each and every one.

In Jesus Name

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net


[1] Hannah Hurnard. Hinds Feet on High Places. Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA (1993).

Encouragement for 2019

The Next Chapter

Good morning,

On a recent trip, I noticed how the sun was shining at 10,000’ while all below it was gray clouds and blustery winds. It is hard to believe but, the sun never stops shining, its lights never go out and it always shines with the same intensity. The earth, though, rotates on tilted access; so, we get the changes in seasons. For the past month now, the nation has endured the longest stretches of cold and snowy weather not to mention the extended number of gray days. In this time, it has been very hard on me because, I never do well when the sun doesn’t shine; the medical term is, “Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder” (SAD). In these days, it is easy for me to become depressed just as it is when the rain clouds fill the sky for days on end. What I have to remind myself is, “the winter will pass, and spring will come eventually”.

In the same way, the world’s sinful ways press hard against people to conform to its pathway or be the recipient of hateful terms like racist, homophobe, and xenophobe. In these days, it is very hard not to feel, “this is the new normal” and forget the promises of God or the grace he has bestowed on us. In the time of Elijah, the evil king Ahab and the tyrant queen Jezebel ruled Israel with an iron fist. Anyone who did not fall in line with Jezebel was put to death by the worst means possible. Remember, Elijah had just killed all of the priests of Baal, convinced the spectators of the power of the Almighty God, called down rain, and ran a from the mountain of God to the gates of the city; one word from Jezebel sent Elijah running for his life.  At the mountain top, Elijah’s word to God was, “I am all alone and I want to die”. After God relented and granted Elijah’s request, it was what he said next that should have sparked a change of heart; that, was “I have still reserved 7,000 men of God who have not bowed a knee to Baal, go anoint Elisha son of Shaphat in your place and, anoint the Jehu king over Israel (1 Kings 18). in doing so, God was setting the stage for the next chapter; something he wanted Elijah to be part of, but Elijah had refused. In the end, Ahab would die from a battle wound, Jezebel was would be assassinated and then reduced to mere bones. What I want to get across to you, is that although the sins of this world appear bigger than life, they all have a shelf life and will go the way of the Edsel, Zoot suits, and lava lamps; only God is from all eternity. My encouragement for you today is to grasp hold of the hand of God and never let go. When life appears the most dismal know this, you are one step from victory.

“O Babylon, the unconquered, come sit in the dust; for your days of glory, pomp, and honor are ended. O daughter of Chaldea, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate.  Take heavy millstones and grind the corn; remove your veil;[a] strip off your robe; expose yourself to public view.  You shall be in nakedness and shame. I will take vengeance upon you and will not repent (Isaiah 47:1-3 TLB).”

Father,

All the ways of the world no matter how dark, depressing, or oppressing they may be, will end. Only you are from all eternity. The enemy of our soul tells the foolish man, “this is what you need to do” and man does it. He has convinced the foolish man that he is a “god” knowing all the while how very short man’s life really is. Lord Jesus how we need you in our life as we face the next chapter of our life. May your good spirit guide us today in the pathway laid before us.

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

Encouragement for 2019 – Happy New Year

Morning Encouragement

Happy New Year

Good morning,

Happy New Year 2019! It is time again to make your New Year’s Resolution(s); time to go back to the gym, give up a bad habit, and/or change your diet.  Resolving to make changes in your life at the start of a new year is an age-old tradition that dates back to the Babylonian period (approximately 1720 – 539 BCE)[1]. Making resolutions sounds good and we do, for the most part, fully intend to see them through. The problem is, they are as Mary Poppins put it, “cupcake promises” easily made and easily broken. You see, we break promises to our self-first because we accept our own justification however flimsy it may be. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, came up with a better idea in 1720 when he enacted the “Covenant Renewal Service”; The purpose of the service is to set a time for the people to reaffirm their vows that they had made to God[2]. During one of these services on New Year’s Eve 33 years ago in Atsugi Japan, at the Pastor’s prompting, I asked God for one thing in 1986 and that was for God to choose a wife for me and to start a family. I did not ask God for a person by name, I did not have one in mind, and I was not seeing anybody. God did not ask for me to make any promises nor, did he demand a sacrifice of any type simply, that I will be obedient and wait for him. Because I was obedient in waiting for him and not following Abraham’s misguided attempt at helping (Gen 16), he came through for me. When I got back from Japan in late April of 1986, I was lying in bed and an angel spoke in a loud audible voice proclaiming that I would marry Janine Christians and the name of my first-born son would be Joshua. I had met Janine two years earlier prior to going to Japan. Prior to the angel speaking to me, Janine and I had not dated nor spoken to each other with the exception of two letters (one from her and one from me) and that was to ask for a Kimono. We went out on a date a day or so later and I fell head over heels in love with her and asked her if she would marry me; we married in May of 86. We have been happily married for now 33 years this May. I am nobody special and what God did for me, he can do for you. The secret is not where you recommit your life nor, is it when you recommit it; simply that you be obedient and wait for him; if you ask God to do something in your life with no preconceived notion He will come through (Psalms 37:4)! My encouragement as you look to 2019, is that you recommit your life to God and then ask him to do something wonderful for you this year.

God said to Solomon, “Because you have asked for wisdom and have not asked for yourself a long life nor for wealth, nor for the lives of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to recognize justice, 12 behold, I have done as you asked. I have given you a wise and discerning heart (mind) so that no one before you was your equal, nor shall anyone equal to you arise after you. 13 I have also given you what you have not asked, both wealth and honor, so that there will not be anyone equal to you among the kings, for all your days (1st Kings 3:11-13).

Father,

You do not ask for our riches nor, do you want our stuff; simply, you want us to be obedient to you in all that we do. You have plans for our life that we cannot possibly comprehend. The problem is, many of your plans for our life go undone because we try to help instead of letting go and getting out of the way. Help me to be obedient in this new year 2019 to what you have called me to do. May each and every one of you has the best year of your life.

May God richly bless you this year

Mike

Encouragement for 2019 – Victory

Encouragement for 2019

Victory

Good morning and Happy New Year!

As the New Year starts, I’ve decided to change the title of my writings from “Morning Encouragement” to “Encouragement for 2019” with the emphasis on “Victory”. I believe it is God’s cry on my heart to speak to this term and how it applies to all of mankind. Of all of the things we need, the one most needed is “Victory”. Many live defeated lives simply because, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”; which, is an act of surrender or the pathway of least resistance. At issue is the fact that the way we live today is passed down to the next generation and gradually declines over time. In the papers, news, and online access, we hear nothing but of the bad things that are going on across the land like, daily shootings, drug battles, and opposing opinions leading to riots and ultimately to incite fear. There is a word for this problem and that is “defeat”. Anywhere people gather, the Devil will always be right there to incite a listening ear; consider the case of the rebellion in the Israelite camp in the time of Moses (Exodus 32).  The Devil wants us to live defeated because then we can be controlled. Once we are controlled, then the Devil’s desire will become our mode of living and it gets worse as time progresses. Remember this, the Devil has an end game and that is your demise; as long as you live, you are a threat to his rule in this world. If he can get you ensnared by the trappings of this world, it makes him laugh hysterically knowing that you can take none of it with you. My encouragement for you today is that you will take firm hold of the horns of God’s alter and seek his rule over your life. You might say, “I’ve gone too far, my life is near the end, there is no hope for me”. I will tell you, and most assuredly, there is no one on planet earth that is too deep in sin, too old to be healed, nor too destroyed to be of any use to God; because he does not redeem you because of what you have to offer his kingdom, he redeems you because of how much he loves you.

“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel (Hosea 1:10 NIV).

Father,

If there is anything, we need in our world today, it is a victory not over each other but over the one who creates the problems. Help us today to walk in your love and seek your best for our life. Doubtless, the tragedies of our world will spin all the days we live; yet, in you, there is hope and restoration no matter how far or wide we have gone in sin.  May your Holy Spirit guide us today and every day of our life.

Mike

Encouragement for 2019 – At Party’s End

Good Morning,

In Christian magazines and in self-help books, the term “victorious living” is tossed around like a catchphrase. According to scripture, it should be the goal of every child of God to live victorious lives (1 John 5:4). The question is, “what does it look like” or how will you know you have achieved it? Does “victorious living” mean you succeed in everything you start, never facing defeat or, experience loss?  Victory, in my view, doesn’t imply being the best but rather, giving it your best through the process.  What is your best and who should define it? The first and most popular choice is “me”; but the real answer is “history”. History, unlike man’s view, is not swayed by public opinion nor, can it be bought; because it is an uninterested third party. History records everything! We see its records written in the way lives are affected positively or negatively by our actions. The recorded history I am speaking of is not written in books but in the hearts of the people that are alive or that remain. In the time of Babylon when it was at its Zenith, nations flocked to be allied with it; every nation was a friend of Babylon. After Nebuchadnezzar passed away, the unintended seeds of sin began to take root in the lives of the present and future kings. The end result, all of the wealth of the kingdom was gone and the people attending the party fled for their lives. It is an unpopular truth that everything we do or say, will play out at some point in time and often to our dismay; let’s call these “end of times” or better yet, “the end of the party”. My encouragement for you today is, live your lives in such a way as to please God in and out of the process. Living victorious living is not a mere goal, an item on a checklist, nor a one-time event, it is a culmination of our choices that breeds hope in others or, contributes to their disaster.

 Only let your manner of life be worthy[h] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents (Philippians 1:27 ESV).

Father,

What is it about living a victorious life that is so endearing to your heart? Your word compels us to live righteous lives not because it makes you look good but, because it leaves a pathway for others to follow. You are not looking for perfect people; rather, for imperfect people who will rely upon you and follow you. Your son Jesus came, lived, died, and was resurrected so that whatever we are facing in life, no matter how dire it is, it would be washed irrevocably by the blood that was shed so that we could go forward from the cross to live victorious lives.

Mike

Encouragement for 2019 – Timshel

Encouragement for 2019

Timshel – Genesis 4:3-7

Good morning,

For 14 years now, I have read the bible cover-to-cover. When I read the account of Cain and Able, I always thought that God was castigating Cain because his offering paled in comparison to Able’s; sort of like saying, “Able’s offering is the gold standard and you should be more like Able”. If this assumption was correct, then God would be complicit in Able’s murder because of the mere appearance of favoritism. The Bible, as good as it is, does not fill in all of the pieces in a single verse add to the mix the issues of translating one language to another sometimes yields to misunderstandings; this requires the reader to do some research to find out exactly what was really said and what was the intended meaning (Acts 17:11). In verse 7 the King James version says, “Thou Shalt overcome” which sounds more like a command “put on your big-boy panties Cain and get over it”. in the original language, though, the term is “Timshel” which means “thou mayest” which, changes the scope of the statement to sound more like, “You have the choice, let it consume you or let this situation grow you. “Thou Shalt” is a moral imperative; the implication is that, “if I am a member of ______ then I must obey the laws of _____. “Timshel” leaves the listener with a choice in how he/she will respond to a situation. In Cain’s case, he had two choices, “get angry about the perceived unfairness and let the situation consume him” leading to murder and self-destruction or, “Check his heart to see if he really gave God his very best”. if Cain could say in his heart, “I gave it my best” then his conscience would be clear, the Devil would have no inroad to control him (Romans 5:1-11).

It must be understood that it is not wrong to be upset about a perceived unfairness. What is wrong, is to accept any given situation at face value without one time checking our facts in the light of truth; this requires checking our heart, re-evaluating what we heard, and consider our contribution to the problem. Self-destruction and sin are rampant in our world today because, mankind more often than not, will take the easy way out by blaming someone else for his/her misfortune.  In every family from the first family to present day, bad things have happened, hearts have been broken, feelings have been hurt, and moral failure has occurred; there is no generation that can proudly say, “we were morally upright”; each generation had its skeletons. The question to ask our self is, “how will I respond to ______”? Will I be just another tragedy or be the one to end the cycle destruction?  My encouragement for you today is, consider the word “timshel” when you are at the crossroads between right and wrong. Remember this, the Devil is very crafty and has the innate ability to twist words in order to get us to do his bidding under the guise of “a concerned friend”. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we need no longer continue in the cycle of abuse. If you would like to get a better picture of this verse, I would encourage you to read “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck as it brings this verse to life in a way only a novelist can do.

16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His[One and] [a]only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17 Amp)

Father,

Your love for us transcends time itself. It would be very nice if all we ever knew was “love but, in this world, we also have “hate” to deal with. It would also be nice if everything we brought to you, you showered us with gratitude and praise; yet, there is a danger in that because we would never strive to do better or ever seek to sharpen our skills for the next offering. When you reject an offering, it is not because you dislike the giver rather, because we did not do our very best or not what we were called to do. Watch over my family and families today. Be with those who are suffering, in trouble, and/or need a special touch from you. Timshel is the word.

Mike

Encouragement for 2019 – What’s Shaking Your Tree

Encouragement for 2019

What’s Shaking Your Tree Today?

Good morning,
For the past few days, the nation has endured the coldest winter in more than a decade.  Now, I am not one for cold weather and would prefer temps in the mid 70’s early 80’s with 10% or less humidity. Nobody likes it when storms come around because it disrupts our life and plans that we had previously made. I would believe every Christian on planet earth if asked, would prefer to always have times of prosperity, gentle rains, and pleasant temperatures. But storms that bring change also come with benefits. For example, hurricanes, help to rejuvenate the barrier reef, kills off the red tide and bacteria that destroy fish, redistributes rain-fall, and cleans the beaches[1]. The sub-arctic temps kill the emerald ash borer and other plant pathogens[2]. Similarly, when bad things like illness, conflicting ideas, and struggles on our shores come about, at first it looks like the worst possible thing to happen at the worst possible moment. As time passes, though, we find within us new talents and abilities and we go on to accomplish great things despite the storms. When you read the reports about the damage caused by storms, one would believe that storms are God’s form of judgment. When, in reality, they sometimes answer to prayer, healing for the land, and they shake us from complacency. It is also my firm belief, that God uses the issues of our day to test the fabric of our faith and redirect the course of our lives in ways we would never think possible.  Trials are a good thing because, when life is good all of the time, people become lackadaisical in their ways sort of like what happened to Solomon in his later days (1 Kings 11). More importantly, if our faith never endured trials, we would be little more than a toy soldier in a pressed uniform with a polished weapon; More importantly, we would become very arrogant in our systems of belief; Consider Paul’s testimony as an example. My encouragement for you today, is that when trials come, struggles pull at the fabric of your life, and you feel at your end, I want you to consider that God gives us good days and bad days (Ecc 7:14); if God is able to guide in good times, he is also able to guide us in bad times; both days benefit our lives. I believe God wants us to embrace our struggles and not run away from them.
In the crazy storms, the shipwrecks, the starless nights and sunless days, we don’t know how God will save us. But we do have his promises. And when we get to the end of our lives, we will be able to say, “I had no idea how he would save me, how I would make it to the end. But never once did he fail to keep his promise.” Chad Ashby
Father,
When life shakes our tree, we as humans do not always see your hand upon our lives; this requires faith. When the crew aboard the rowboat were quaking in their shoes over the storm that was upon them, Jesus did not add to the fear rather, he simply said, “Peace be still” and the boat was brought to the shore (Mark 4:39). My prayer for my family and friends today who are knee-deep in storms is that you will speak to their lives, “Peace be still”.
Mike
All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.org


[1] Heba Soffar. Hurricanes & Tropical Storms Advantages & Disadvantages. Earth and Universe (6/18/2018). Accessed https://www.online-sciences.com/earth-and-motion/hurricanes-tropical-storms-advantages-and-disadvantages/
[2] Suzan Vinskofski. Sub-Zero Weather can Benefit Your Garden & Landscape. Home Organic Gardening. Accessed https://learningandyearning.com/sub-zero-weather-can-benefit-your-garden-and-landscape.