Activated

Feeling Close to Jesus

By Maria Fontaine

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Quite a few times I’ve heard people say things like, “I must not be close to Jesus because I don’t feel close to Him.” But the Bible makes it very clear that we’re not supposed to go by our feelings or how things appear to be on the surface. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

If we rely on our feelings as an indicator of how well we’re doing spiritually, we’re going to be very unstable. We’ll be continually tossed to and fro by every feeling that happens to come along, and we’ll never know how we’re going to be doing tomorrow, because that would be determined by how we feel when we get up in the morning.

Regardless of how we may happen to feel, if we love Jesus and are walking by faith and obeying His Word, then we know that our relationship with Him is still firm. And we certainly know that His love for us is unwavering. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” “The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you,” and “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Jeremiah 31:3; Isaiah 54:10; Hebrews 13:5).

 
Walking by feelings invites discouragement

If you’re running on your feelings, then the Devil is going to do his best to get you feeling terrible most of the time! He knows if he can just get you feeling down, then he can actually get you down! He’ll flood you with his negative thoughts, trying to convince you that you’re a failure, until he’s got you totally defeated, discouraged, and in despair. Then he’ll say, “You certainly aren’t close to Jesus! In fact, you must not even love Him, and He must not love you either, because look how terrible you feel!”

When you’re relying on your feelings, the Devil can play with your emotions and make you feel very far from the Lord. When he sees that you’re walking by sight, you’re an easy target for his doubts. When besieged with such doubts, you’ve got to “fight the good fight of faith” and resist the Devil and his lies (1 Timothy 6:12; James 4:7).

 
If you don’t feel close to Jesus, don’t worry about it

Some people do feel close to Jesus. For example, when my daughter was small and I would tuck her into bed, she would say, “I’m going to snuggle up in Jesus’ arms now.” She could imagine that, and I’m glad she could, but I’ve never had that ability. I don’t feel like I’m resting on Jesus’ breast when I go to sleep. I’m not that imaginative, and that’s just the way I am.

Some people are able to picture in their minds and enjoy things like that, whereas others of us can’t. We all have certain personality traits, and some of us are much more emotional and “feely” than others. But just because I don’t feel a big emotional closeness to Jesus, I can’t sit around moping. If I were worried about that all the time, I’d be constantly down in the dumps and I would be in a mess! I’m enough of a mess as it is, without having worries and problems like that! I just have to take things by faith. There aren’t too many verses in the Bible about feelings, but there are a lot about faith and trusting the Lord and believing His Word.

You can know if you’re close to Jesus by applying His Word, which says that if you “draw nigh to God” by your submission and obedience to Him, “He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). Even if you can’t feel any closeness at all, you can still know you’re close to Him if you’re doing your best to love and please Him. We’ve got to go by the facts, by the Word. Your faith in His Word should have nothing to do with your feelings, so it doesn’t really matter whether or not you feel close to Jesus.

 
What if you’ve made mistakes?

Of course, when we know we haven’t lived up to what Jesus expects of us, it’s easy to feel guilty. “Oh, I can’t possibly be close to the Lord because of all my faults and shortcomings!” But you must not let the Devil—or even your own heart—condemn you (1 John 3:20). Even if you have willfully disobeyed the Lord, if you’re sorry for your sins and you sincerely desire to be close to Him, He will be merciful and gracious to you (Psalm 103:8). And though you fall, you will not be utterly cast down, for the Lord will uphold you (Psalm 37:24). For “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). A broken and a contrite heart, He will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

A lot has to do with your heart, with your attitude. If you sincerely want to please Jesus and do His will, to love and live for Him, then He will certainly “draw nigh unto you” when you call out to Him. The Bible promises, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth,” and, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 145:18; 34:18).

So regardless of any feelings of discouragement, guilt, or remorse that the Devil may try to barrage you with, if you know you’re truly seeking to love and please Jesus, to obey His Word and follow Him, then you’re close to Him—whether you happen to feel close to Him or not!

In fact, sometimes people are the closest to Jesus when they feel the furthest from Him. For example, when we’re humbled by our own mistakes and shortcomings, we don’t usually feel so inspired or close to Him, but we may actually be very close to Him. So just because you’re feeling down does not necessarily indicate that you’re far from the Lord. You can be very close to the Lord even if you’re feeling terrible. There are also times when some people may feel that they are very close to the Lord when in fact they may not be close to Him at all—particularly if they’re self-righteously trusting in their own so-called goodness instead of the Lord and His goodness, grace, and mercy.

Although we’re not ignorant of the Devil’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and we know that he frequently tries to use our feelings to discourage and get us down, we can’t say that all bad feelings are from him. Sometimes we feel bad because the Lord is speaking to our hearts, convicting us of a sin or trying to warn us about something. So when we’re feeling bad, we should examine our hearts and actions to find out why we’re feeling that way, or what the Lord’s trying to show us (2 Corinthians 13:5).

 
The keys to closeness: fact, faith, and obedience

So how do you know if you’re close to Jesus? How do you get close to Him? You get close to Jesus by obeying His Word and by yielding to His will, that’s how! Jesus has promised, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep [obey] My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). So if you’re loving Him and obeying what He says in His Word, then of course you’re close to Him. He’s made His home in your heart, and that’s pretty close! It’s as simple as that. It’s not a matter of feelings at all.

The point is, we can’t trust or put our faith in our feelings. We don’t walk by our feelings! Whether you feel close to Jesus or not is beside the point! His Word says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). You have to go by faith! “The just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38).

 
Being close to Jesus

We may sometimes experience certain thrills of the spirit—the spiritual high that we often feel when we’ve helped someone find Jesus, or when the Word has spoken loudly and clearly to us, for example—which are a token of the Lord’s love and a special encouragement from Him. He knows we like to feel these things, so He gives them to us as pleasurable experiences. But even at such times we can’t expect those feelings, and we shouldn’t get discouraged or feel that something is wrong with us or our connection with the Lord if they don’t happen.

You’re not always going to be excited and feel inspired and be jumping up and down for joy. Sometimes you’re hungry or tired. Sometimes you’re sick. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep your mind on the fact that Jesus loves and cares about you, and that if you hang on long enough, He will pull you through.

So sometimes you might not feel close to Jesus, and other times you might. But don’t let that worry you. Even if you don’t feel close to Jesus, you can still be close to Him, because closeness to Jesus is much more than a mere feeling!

Those who often feel close to Jesus aren’t necessarily any closer to Him or more spiritual than those who don’t. Feelings are nice if they happen, but they aren’t the gauge of spirituality. What we want to do is to be close to Jesus! If you do happen to feel close to Him, be thankful. But if you don’t happen to feel close to Jesus, don’t be discouraged. And remember, you can know you are close to Jesus if you love Him and are trying your best to please Him.

*

Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing!

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For lack of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken!

I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever;
For, though all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever!

—Martin Luther (1483-1546)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Answers to Your Questions: Who Should Get the Credit?

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Q: Several times I have heard or read about people who did something extraordinary or heroic—set a world record or rescued a child from a burning building, for example—saying something like, “Praise God!” or, “Jesus is the One who did it,” or, “Don’t thank me—thank God!” When people have worked hard or risked their lives to do what they did, are they just trying to sound modest by saying God or Jesus deserves the credit? Why can’t they just enjoy their well-deserved moment of recognition?

A: The fact is, most people today don’t acknowledge or give credit to God for His part in their accomplishments.

But is that right? According to the Bible, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from Heaven (John 3:27), and “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). So God does deserve at least a large share of the credit. And when you think about it, the same is true for all of us, in everything we do.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but we’re actually doing ourselves a favor when we pass the credit on to God, because that pleases Him and makes Him more ready to help or work through us again. It’s also important for others’ sakes that we set the record straight, because that strengthens their faith.

A good example of giving credit where credit is due is found in the book of Acts, chapter 3, when the lame man was healed on the temple steps after asking alms of Peter and John. “Silver and gold I do not have,” Peter told the man, “but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Peter took the man by the hand and lifted him up, and immediately the man was healed and entered the temple with Peter and John, “walking, leaping, and praising God.” When an awestruck crowd gathered, Peter asked the people, “Why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? God has glorified His Servant Jesus. Faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:1-16).

To be all we can be, we must rely on the Lord’s help, because our real strength comes from Him. A teenage shepherd named David did just that when he boldly accepted the giant Goliath’s challenge to a one-on-one fight to the death.

Before engaging in battle, David cried out to Goliath so that all would hear, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). And when God caused little David to triumph over the giant, everyone knew that it was God’s doing, because David had given Him all the credit, even before Goliath was defeated.

So if you really want God’s blessing and help, be like David and boldly declare His greatness. You glorify the Lord every time you acknowledge His help. Every time you say “Thank the Lord,” you are giving God the credit. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Psalm 107:2).

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Talents and Gifts, Strengths and Weaknesses

By David Brandt Berg

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Most of us don’t consider ourselves particularly strong or capable, and we feel we lack certain strengths or abilities that we wish we had. That’s when it helps to remember that God specializes in using people who aren’t great in themselves.

The apostle Paul wrote, “You see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Why does God purposely choose weak people?—Because the weaker we are, the better God can show what He can do. It’s in our weakness that He is able to manifest His mighty power, overcome our human limitations, and perform miracles. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

When we don’t feel capable or sufficient for the task God has set before us, then He has a chance to take over and do things to suit Himself. In fact, the weaker we get in ourselves, the stronger we can be in His Spirit, because that’s when His strength comes in (2 Corinthians 12:10).

The very fact that we feel incapable is one of the best things possible, because then we depend on the Lord and He has a chance to work—and He will. “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Lord likes for us to be dependent on Him, to know that we need His help, and to ask Him for it. It’s then that “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

 
The weakness of strength

The biggest temptation for people who have a lot of natural ability and drive is to push things through in their own strength, but that has its limits and dangers. “Men of force are men of faults,” and their biggest fault is when they keep on going in their own strength, their own force, instead of letting the Lord work through them.

Having so much natural ability, strength, and drive is often the very thing that stands in the way of the Lord showing His strength. It’s more difficult for such people to depend on the Lord because they’re used to depending on themselves.

My mother, for example, had a lot going for her in the natural—a lot of God-given talents, abilities, drive, personality, looks, and so on. But it wasn’t until after she broke her back in an accident and was bedridden and in a wheelchair for five years that the Lord was able to use her the way He wanted to. After she and her doctors had tried everything they could with no success, when she didn’t have anyone else to turn to and no more strength of her own, the Lord stepped in and healed her miraculously—and she knew the Lord had done it! She still had the natural traits and abilities He’d originally given her, but through this experience she learned to lean on Him, to let Him use those traits and abilities for His glory, and to give Him the credit for whatever got accomplished—and that’s when He was finally able to use her to the full. Of course, all of us depend on our natural abilities to some extent at different times, so to rely more on the Lord and His strength is a lesson we all need to learn.

 
How to win spiritual victories

It’s been said that “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Well, that certainly is the truth, because when you’re weak in yourself, that’s when you can be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). However, the Devil might not tremble so much if you’re one of those people who think that they’re “strong.” If you’re too self-confident, that in itself is a major spiritual weakness. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). As Martin Luther wrote:

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing.
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is He!
Lord Sabbaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle!

We cannot strive in our own strength. We must look to the Lord, and He must win the battle. We don’t have to try to win victories by our own striving, struggling, and working in the flesh. We just have to do our part by putting our will on God’s side, and God will do the rest, which is virtually everything!

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Strength from Weakness

By Virginia Brandt Berg

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“Have you not known? Have you not heard?” the Bible prophet Isaiah asks in chapter 40 of the book that bears his name. Not known what?—“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth … gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31). The central promise there is, “He gives power to the weak.”

The apostle Paul said something similar. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). It’s interesting to note that Paul wrote those words to the Greeks, who exalted intellect and physical beauty and prowess—man and his achievements—and had no use for a weakling. Yet we know that Paul had some physical impairment, his “thorn in the flesh,” as he called it (2 Corinthians 12:7), and the Greeks said of him, “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10). The fact that he had been scorned, stoned, whipped, and imprisoned didn’t help his reputation either. In short, Paul did not at all measure up to the Greeks’ ideas of strength.

What the Greeks didn’t understand is that God frequently works contrary to human logic and natural expectations. He says in His Word, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). What the Greeks called weakness, God calls strength.

It’s very often people who are not particularly gifted, nor highly trained, nor learned in man’s wisdom that God is able to do the most with. Because they are humble, emptied of self, weak in themselves, and depend on God for strength, He can work through them. He supplements such weakness with His strength, and they become truly strong. “To those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

All of God’s spiritual giants have been weak men and women who became great by God’s power. Moses was such a poor public speaker that God said his brother Aaron could do his speaking for him. But because Moses had learned to depend completely on God, he became the greatest lawgiver the world had ever known. Most of Jesus’ disciples were uneducated, but the influence of those weak men is felt to this very day. God was able to use them because they realized their weakness and put no confidence in themselves.

But when we are so sure of our own strength, so confident of our own powers, the Lord leaves us to walk alone in the strength we are so sure of. I’m reminded of my daughter when she was just learning to walk. She was naturally very impulsive, and she insisted on trying to walk by herself rather than let me hold her hand and guide her. She really couldn’t walk well yet, but in her independent spirit would pull away, over and over, to launch out by herself, falling, bumping, and bruising her way along—and she nearly always bore the marks of her independence on the end of her little nose.

How many of us bear the marks of our independence—our wanting to lean on our own strength until, sometimes broken, defeated, and disappointed, we learn to depend on God’s strength instead of our own? What a pity that we should depend on the human when we can have the divine, that we should draw only on our natural resources when we can have all of Heaven’s resources at our command! How strange it is that we should insist on depending on our own strength and wisdom when we can have the power of Almighty God!

God wants to be our ally. He longs to give us His strength, but if we insist on walking by ourselves in our own strength, just as I’ve said, He’ll leave us to stumble around till we find how little strength we actually have. He’ll walk off the stage of our lives and leave us to ourselves until the foundations of our pride and confidence in the human strength have been shaken and we at last come to the realization that our supposed strength is weakness.

Look to God for strength. He says, “I dwell with him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). Ask God for His wisdom and His strength, and He will give it to you, “that the excellence of the power may be of God” and not of you (Matthew 7:7; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Then you will be able to say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

You Are Unique!

By David Brandt Berg

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Do you know who the happiest people are? Those who accept themselves the way God made them, who learn to be happy with what they have and are not overly concerned about what others think. Struggling to live up to what you think others expect of you puts a real weight on you, but there’s freedom in humility.

If you were honest, I think you’d admit that you really admire people who have the courage to just be themselves, rather than try so hard to be something they’re not in order to fit in or impress others. Of course, those who make such decisions and take such stands often face loneliness and a feeling of isolation from others around them, which is sad.

You know, when I was young I didn’t like the way I looked. I thought my nose was too big and that I was too skinny and ugly. I had quite an inferiority complex about that, and it took me a long time to get over it. Part of it was my pride, and part of it was comparing. But then as I grew older, I realized it really didn’t matter. I understood that the Lord made me the way He wanted me, and that He made me that way because He loved me.

He loves you the way He made you, and you’re beautiful in His eyes. We’re all unique and special. In His eyes there is no ugliness, no matter what we look like.

Building self-esteem often has a lot to do with your relationship with the Lord. The closer you draw to Him and the more at peace you are with Him, the more content and at peace you’ll be with yourself, the happier you’ll be, and the more relaxed you’ll be. When you’re living close to the Lord, you’re handsome or beautiful because His love and His light shine through.

I have a suggestion for you: Sit down sometime and let the Lord speak to you about yourself. Or ask someone else to pray and ask Him to tell you how He sees you, what your inner beauties are, what your inner strengths are, and what gifts and abilities He likes to bring forth in you, that He likes to see shine for others. Let Him encourage you, and you’ll find that you can actually be quite happy being His unique creation.

 
 

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Anchor

God’s Help Through Life’s Storms

Words from Jesus

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!”
—2 Corinthians 4:16–17 (TLB)

No matter what hardships the world may throw at you, you have—in Me—everything you need to persevere. Despair is a deep pit, and sometimes you totter around its edges, precariously close to falling in. Your only hope at such times is to fix your eyes on Me. The more perplexed you are—bewildered by complex circumstances—the easier it is to lose your balance. To keep from falling, you must change your focus from your circumstances to My presence. This requires strenuous effort on your part, because you have not fully accepted the limitations of your mind. Your natural tendency is to keep thinking about a difficult situation ad nauseam—trying to figure it out. However, I am always nearby, eager to help you change your focus time after time.

Though you may be hard pressed on every side, you need not be crushed by difficulties. You are not alone in your battles, because I will never, ever abandon you. Even if you are struck down by a fatal blow, you will not be destroyed. I am the shepherd and guardian of your soul—the part of you that is indestructible. I give you eternal life, and you will never perish. No one can snatch you out of My hand! (Sarah Young, Jesus Lives )

 
I want you to make it

“Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
—Hebrews 12:1 (TLB)

Just keep hanging on, no matter how difficult it seems and no matter how little progress you feel you’re making. I see your heart and I know what you are experiencing, and I’ll help you each step of the way. As long as you’re holding on and fighting, you’re making progress in My eyes and I’m pleased with you.

I know this is a very trying time for you; it’s confusing, and you’re faced with some very import­ant decisions. You’re battling to know what you’re supposed to do. You feel so unprepared and worn out spiritually that you feel like you can’t possibly do it. But I’ve promised that I won’t allow you to face more than you can take. I won’t allow one speck more than you can handle. You can trust Me completely on this, because I know exactly what you’re going through right now, and I won’t fail to pull you through if you keep fighting and keep trusting.

I know it all seems overwhelming right now, but I promise that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and if you just keep going one step at a time, you’ll come to the end of the tunnel and into the light. Things will not always be this way. You won’t always feel discouraged or worried, wondering what to do, because I will pull you through this battle and you will rise above to victory, as long as you hold on to Me.

I want you to make it! I don’t want to see you hurt or unhappy, and I’ll help you make it. But you have to understand that at times it will hurt a little, and at times you’ll need to make sacrifices. I can’t protect you from every single bit of hurt in life; there’ll be some hurt, but I promise that as you come to Me for comfort, I’ll comfort you. My comfort will wash away the feelings of hurt.

Come to Me whenever you feel discouraged or down. Don’t wait for days, or even for half a day. Come to Me and let Me speak to you and comfort your heart and give you words of encouragement to help you to keep going.

I won’t fail you. I’m here for you, and I promise to love you, to comfort, to encourage, and to give you the anointing and power to carry on, no matter what you are facing, if you come to Me.

 
I go before you

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
—Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

I Myself go before you—opening up the way. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Therefore, you need not be afraid or discouraged. I realize, though, that feelings often fail to submit to logic. So don’t be surprised when your emotions rebel against your will. David—who was both a mighty warrior and a gifted poet—expressed fearfulness, trembling, and even overwhelming horror in one of his psalms. Yet his trust in Me was genuine and deep. His life and His writing demonstrate that fear doesn’t “trump” trust: They can coexist. This is why David could proclaim, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3)

Trust is a relational word. It’s one of the prime ways you can draw near Me. When you are afraid, don’t blame yourself for having that very human emotion. Instead, acknowledge what you’re feeling; then affirm your trust in Me—out loud or in a whisper. This affirmation protects you from the lie that feeling fearful means you don’t trust Me. Even better, it brings you consciously into My presence, where you can find comfort and hope. The light of My presence illuminates the vast dimensions of My love for you—empowering you to grasp how wide and long and high and deep My love is. (Sarah Young, Jesus Lives)

 
Don’t hesitate to ask for My help

“I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm—I will come to you. In just a little while I will be gone from the world, but I will still be present with you.”
—John 14:18–19 (TLB)

Weakness is not something you are to be afraid of. When you’re tired, when you’re worn, when you’re feeling under the weather, don’t be ashamed or afraid to come and ask Me for help. Don’t try to get through, struggling the whole morning or the whole day—or longer than that—when you can come to Me and ask Me to help you. It saddens Me to see you become spent and discouraged because you try so hard to do something yourself when you don’t have it within you to do it alone, when you need extra help.

Come to Me whenever you need an extra boost, and I’ll carry you through. You won’t need to try to carry the burden; I’ll help you carry it. You won’t need to have to try to think everything through on your own; I’ll help you do that. The challenge won’t seem as big anymore as we tackle it together. With Me, you may still have to weather the storm, but at least you can rest assured that you have a good Pilot and your safety is guaranteed, even if it is a violent storm. I have promised that I will never leave you comfortless.

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Activated

See the Good

By Maria Fontaine

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Everyone has times in their past that they look upon as “dark nights”—tragedies or difficulties that were largely beyond their control and sometimes the direct result of other people’s wrong choices or unloving actions. How people react to those wrongs determines whether they become bitter or better for them.

Those who have a hard time seeing any good in the difficult times they’ve been through usually become resentful and make themselves even more unhappy. Perhaps they were wronged, but if they love Jesus and know that He loves them, He could have and would have used those situations for their good in some way if they had let Him. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Lord was probably trying to use those circumstances to help them in some way, but they’ve missed the point or haven’t benefited as He intended. It’s very possible that in many of these cases that people look back on as “mistakes,” the circumstances were used or even engineered by the Lord in order to bring out the best in them, or to draw them closer to Him, or to teach them something valuable, or even just as a test. It’s not that the Lord wanted these things to happen; He wants only the best for His children. But since they did happen, He wanted to turn them to good. That’s the way the Lord is—He can and will turn anything to good, if we’ll let Him.

Finding the good in a bad situation isn’t just a “glad game” exercise or a good idea; it’s vital to our spiritual health. If we can’t accept that there could be a silver lining to some of the rain clouds of our past, then we’ll probably never fully forgive and forget those things, and that can lead to bitterness, which is severely debilitating to your spirit.

For this reason it’s vital that we not allow ourselves to look back at any situation, no matter how terrible it was, remembering only the bad. It may not be our favorite memory, it may even be painful, but if we’ll reject the Devil‘s negative spin and ask the Lord specifically how He would like to use that situation for good, then He can set us free from that bitterness or other ill feelings and bring about beautiful victories.

What greater triumph is there than to bring good out of bad? That’s the ultimate way to conquer our past hurts—not by bitterness and thoughts of revenge, but by allowing the Lord to make us better on account of it.

 
 

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