The writers of Encouraging.com are celebrating their fifteen year landmark by making their 365 daily devotional book, God Moments, available as a free digital download! A total of thirty-six GABC writers have faithfully captured “moments of God’s presence” in their lives to encourage your own spiritual journey. You can find God Moments on amazon.com, iTunes, and BarnesandNoble.com.

I Want To Be a Pear

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Romans 8:11


I love to read cookbooks and will spend time perusing them. As I read a recipe I have the ability to taste it. Believe me, that is, much kinder to my waistline than gobbling down the actual described dish.

An interesting tidbit I recently gleaned from a cookbook stated that pears ripen from the inside outward. 

Now, isn’t that just like the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells all of us believers in Christ Jesus? HE ripens us from the inside out.

Some words in my Roget’s Thesaurus for the word “ripe” are: enlighten, enrich, fit, informed, in readiness, maturing, perfecting, and usable. Those sound like part of the Holy Spirits’ ministries in believers. The Holy Spirit helps us bear fruit---His Fruit of the Spirit.

But, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galations 5:22-23).

What would our day, week, month, or year be like if we “co-operate” with the Holy Spirit’s ripening us from the inside out? Then we could be used by Him to scatter pieces of sweet, ripe Fruit of the Spirit all around us to a sour, bitter, unwholesome, unpleasant, world.

Yeah, I want to be a pear!


Claudia Jackson

Weighty Gold Necklace

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Matthew 11:29-30


Like a lot of women I like jewelry----the bigger the better!

Several months ago, while perusing the goodies at a flea market, I spied a vintage-faux-gold-multi-chained-ox-yoke of a necklace. Wow and just my size! I knew immediately which outfits it would enhance. I could not get my money out fast enough to pay for my prize “find.” That night I wore it out to dinner with friends. After about 2 hours the weight of the faux-gold-multi-chained-ox-yoke of a necklace became very uncomfortable on my neck. With every tick-tock of passing minutes the discomfort increased, and I could not wait to get it off.

My necklace fiasco brought to mind biblical warnings of chasing after worldly things and ignoring spiritual things of greater value. After time, the things of this world become weighty and burdensome, while things of spiritual value bring inner joy and eternal rewards.

Jesus offers us His yoke to wear. His yoke is light and comes with His rest.

Lord, help me look beyond the worldly baubles and focus on the greater value of spiritual gold that is eternal.

Claudia Jackson

Wrong Paths

Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.
Proverbs 15:10


Here in Colorado, where we vacation, hiking to beautiful alpine meadows, trudging up rugged majestic peaks, or riding numerous scenic trails are major recreational activities.

There are maps, apps, brochures, and books galore with the right directions to get you from point A to point B. But, every once in a while, the Alpine Rescue Team is called out to search for or rescue someone who has gotten themselves lost or in a life-threatening situation because they chose to ignore the maps, apps, brochures, books, and warning signs.

How often we treat God’s Word, the Bible, with the same arrogant disdain. We say, “Oh those words applied to people a long, long time ago! They have no relevance to our modern society.” Or, as one person said to me, “You don’t believe everything in the Bible do you?  Just use the parts you agree with and ignore the rest.”

God’s Word comes as a whole package---like a map to get us from point A to point B. If we use it regularly and trust in its’ truth and guidance, we find it is a treasure map that can make all the difference in our life journey.

Lord, stop my first steps on wrong paths. Fill me with discernment, sorrow, and repentance.


Claudia Jackson

Is There Hope for my Peace and Care as I Grow Older?

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:19-21



            
As I have gotten older I have seen more friends and relatives grow old and infirm so that they can no longer care for themselves. Those that are fortunate have family that can help them and adequate resources to cover their needs  It is sad to see so many who do not have close friends or family that can help them, or will help them. Many seem so sad and so lonely. It is a scary future to contemplate.

More and more people are living longer with fewer and fewer younger ones around. As life expectancy goes up, families are growing smaller and are no longer living close to their elderly relatives. It creates more of a burden when the family is expected to help with an older parent or relative.

It is not something that most people want to think about, much less discuss, but it is something that definitely needs to be discussed. Will I have friends and family that care enough about me to put up with my idiosyncrasies? Will I remember to be kind and loving to others? Will my mind still function to remember these things? Will I still be "special" to anyone?

As I think about it, I try to look at the problems that could arise and think about solutions.  Who will I rely on? As I think about this, I ask myself, Who do I rely on now? Is it my husband? Myself? My kids and grandkids? Or do I mainly rely on my Lord? I need a close relationship with the Lord now if I expect to rely on Him later. My prayer life needs to get deeper and my life more saturated with prayer.

Do my actions now cause people to be turned off, or do I draw them to me? As most people get a more exaggerated personality as they age, I need to cultivate those traits and characteristics that draw and not repel others now and not wait until later. I need to become more Christ-like as I age. I need to study my Bible in order to cultivate this personality.

I need to do what I can financially and otherwise to prepare, and then turn loose of the worries and let my loving Lord carry them. Somehow I think He is large enough to carry them quite nicely! I need to study my Bible and claim all the promises that He has just for this time of my life. Thank you, Jesus, that you care for me, reallyreally care for me!

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in  you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing  (Zephaniah 3:17).

Pat Eppler                                                                                                          

Is There Hope for Christianity as It is Attacked on Every Side?

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived. 
2 Timothy 3:12

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 
1 John 5:19


Christian beliefs and ideals are being attacked on every side. The ACLU has brought more law suits against Christianity than any other entity I know. As clients they have the atheists who say there is no god and many other kinds of religions and individuals as they seek through our legal system to stymie the very roots and foundation of our country. We are a country founded on Judeo/Christian beliefs. It is written into our original documents and carved on the buildings in our capital. Our laws have their beginnings in the ten commandments. All of this is under attack.
           
Much of the world seems to hate us. Radical Islamists have vowed to wipe out our country as well as Israel because we believe in the one true God and get our belief system from the Bible. Jesus saidIf the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you (John 15:18-19). Why does the world hate us? Because it hates Jesus. That is not going to change.

Christians are not perfect by any means, but they follow a perfect Savior who teaches things that are contrary to human nature and are indictments that make them feel guilty and takes the fun out of a lot of the activities they want to indulge in. Sinfulness is no longer acknowledged in our country by many. For example, look at the movies and popular songs that glorify every sin. Our heroes are movie stars, athletes, and singer/songwriters who glorify sinful lives in many cases. Our mantra is, "If it feels good, do it!"

What can we as Christians do? Stay close to Jesus. Pray. Study the Bible. Live by its precepts. Prayerfully intercede for others. Witness to them. Stay faithful. Pass our faith on to our children and grandchildren. Ask the Lord's help.

But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:24-25). Be able to say with the Apostle Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Pat Eppler