World Watch Today

Encourage One Another

There are many ways in which we can be a source of godly encouragement to each other. Proverbs 27:17: ” as iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”. We must be an encouragement to those around us! We affect people by our actions and moods and attitudes. Each day is a battle in which we must prevail over our human nature and Satan’s constant efforts to steer us down his path of sin and selfishness. We can encourage each other to win the fight.

Be prepared to be a source of encouragement. We are not alone in this fight. Isaiah 41:10 ” fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand”. We do not ever have to feel alone or weak in our daily endeavors. Build your relationship with God on a daily basis through prayer and bible study. You will be encouraged by His word and you can then be a beneficial source of encouragement to others.

Be approachable. When someone confides in you a struggle or difficulty, you must be a trustworthy source of encouragement. Proverbs 11:13: ” A tale barer reveals secrets but he who is of a faithful sorority conceals a matter”. Do not gossip about other people’s private struggles. That person came to you seeking to be uplifted with good advice or understanding. Sometimes your efforts to help are the perfect encouragement needed for that person.

Use “right” words. Your words can lead a conversation to be encouraging or discouraging. Proverbs 16:24: ” pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones”. Stop yourself from contributing to a conversation unless it is edifying. One rude, sarcastic or foolish comment can quickly ruin somebody else’s countenance. Lead with words of encouragement and do not let others steer the interaction toward nonsense. Our words should be pleasing to God and in turn will be an encouragement to those listening.

We must spend positive, uplifting time together. Hebrews 10:24, ” And let
us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching”.
We only have a certain amount of time in this life. Joy and struggle will both come. We must draw closer to God in preparation for Christ’s return. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We can strengthen each other through encouragement.

Will the UK stay in the European Union?

A widely publicized study by an influential UK “think tank” has concluded recently that the British are better off in the EU than outside of it. The basic rationale of the report is that the economic consequences for the UK, should it decide to discard membership in the European Union, would be far too severe. Nevertheless, it is now widely speculated that the EU will have to come to a different arrangement than the present in order to survive. This event may coincide with the current anti-EU mood of the British public to create a chance for the UK to renegotiate its membership. A quote from the study, published in a recent story by the online EU Observer, notes the following:

“As the Eurozone is likely to need a new set of EU Treaty arrangements to move towards further integration, which the UK must approve, Britain will have a unique opportunity to stake out its own model for EU membership.”

Yes, but will anyone permit the British to have their unique model and eat the EU cake too? As the strains on the European Union, caused by the inability of its leadership to deal effectively with the economic crisis, continue to manifest, one certainly gets the sense that there will be little tolerance for diversity in the future. The whole reason why the EU is not working properly, according to some, is that there is too much diversity, too much decentralization and far too much choice permitted amongst the member nations. Angela Merkel, and others, who want to reform the current structure, envision a new Europe that will have a stonger, central governance structure. Such a future ultimately requires member nations to give up greater sovereignty to a European super-state, which many believe will be capable of finally pulling Europe out of the economic ditch.(See our earlier commentary on the 10 Horns of the Beast and Revelation)

If the future of the EU is tilted towards reform, it is difficult to imagine that a future union will be one which permits a lukewarm Britain to hang around the edges, yet still play a central role. If so, with current sentiment in the UK running against greater involvement in Europe, it is improbable that David Cameron, or any other British politician, will be able to take their country into a tightly woven EU super-state. Thus if presented with such a scenario, it may well be that the UK will be offered the choice to get fully in or fully out of a new union, with the ultimate outcome being Britain’s exit from the EU.

Eye on Europe

A Two Speed Europe

Veteran observers of European affairs know that the proposal for a “two-speed” Europe has been bantered about European capitals for over a decade. The idea is essentially this: there is a “core” group of European nations who should form a more integrated, closely knit union, and an “outer” group of European nations that, because of their unwillingness to give up national sovereignty, will become EU members of lesser status.

The “two speed” or “core Europe” concept has never been fully accepted within Europe out of fears that it might lead to a politically divided EU. Moreover, this approach has been seen widely by many to be an anti-English initiative, aimed at reducing London’s influence in order to punish its reluctance to hand over sovereignty to the EU. But the current economic circumstances may require the two-speed Europe plan to become reality.

Germany, who is largely footing the bill to bail out its Mediterranean (and Irish) partners in the European Union, seems now convinced that it must push for greater control over the national budgets and banking systems of other EU nations. The only true means of doing this is by seeking further integration of the EU member states into a single economic governance system. Naturally, this is opposed by the UK and other nations, however, as Germany presently holds the gold it seems well placed to make the rules. The Financial Times web site today featured a piece updating the story:

“Angela Merkel said a core group of states needed to press on with European integration to fight the eurozone crisis, a rebuke to David Cameron, UK prime minister, who has called for more short-term crisis measures. Only hours before Mr Cameron’s visit to the federal chancellery, Germany’s chancellor said nations ‘in a currency union have to move closer together’, reinforcing the shift to ‘a multi-speed Europe’ which began with the introduction of the single currency. ‘We cannot just stop [the process] because one or other doesn’t want to join in yet.’” To read this story visit FT.com.

Can the UK or other nations really resist German plans to push for a “core Europe”? As the economic crisis deepens, it appears that this will be increasingly difficult to do as Greece, Spain and perhaps Italy, Portugal and even France will have to seek German financial help to stave off a deeper recession. With each passing day of worsening economic news, the possibility of the emergence of a new, smaller union of European countries dominated by Berlin, appears to grow.

Eye on Europe

Iran Stalling, Israel Angry...

Steven LeBlanc

The next talks with Iran over its nuclear program are scheduled to take place in Moscow on June 18th. David S. Cohen, a U.S. Treasury Department under secretary who oversees financial sanctions, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure.”

But Israel believes those negotiating with Iran are being too soft on the Iranians. In recent days Jerusalem has stepped up its criticism of the negotiation stance taken by the world powers – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany.

Frustration is mounting inside Israel. Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman expanded on his frustration at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, stated it was “obvious to all that Iran is trying to hide proof of its nuclear program, but we can see proof in satellite photos.”

Israel continues to believe that Iran is using the talks with the West as a stalling mechanism; that Iran has no desire to change its nuclear plans. On the political front, it is believed that Israel will be patient through the summer, but Israel’s patience regarding the Iranian nuclear crisis is running thin. The big question continues to remain: Will Israel attack this fall? Ecclesiastes chapter 3 speaks of a time for everything. Israel’s time to do something about Iran may be just months away.

Who's first?

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the cover of Essence Magazine sporting a fashionable dress and a wide smile. The teaser title? “Why You Should Put Yourself First.”

This title is not uncommon today; in fact, it seems that everywhere you look, there are messages such as, “treat yourself!” or, “pamper yourself!” There is this idea that we must tell people to take care of themselves, otherwise they may just neglect themselves. But is this really the message we need to hear? Do we really need someone ELSE telling us that we should come first– before all others? After all, our loudest voice is the one urging us to take care of ourselves.

Certainly there are many people that are frayed, harried, tired, and frankly worn out. They are the single parents, the working poor, the caregivers. Some shoulder enormous burdens and do it without help from anyone else. But this is not because of a breakdown in their priorities–it is a breakdown of our social support- our friends and families that step in when times get rough.

When divorces destroy half of marriages, 40 people are murdered every day and $35 million dollars of merchandise is shoplifted per day in our country, we need not look too far to see the effects of our selfishness.

James 3:16– For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

2 Timothy 3:2–For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…

God also has something to say on this subject, and it is not a popular view for us inherently selfish beings:

Philippians 2:3-4–Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

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