Anchor

Triumphant in Christ

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorOverwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.
—Romans 8:37–39 TLB

*

Triumph is fleeting. Hardly does one taste victory before it is gone. Achieved, yet now history. No one remains champion forever. Time for yet another conquest, another victory. Perhaps this is the absurdity of Paul’s claim: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

The triumph of Christ is not temporary. “Triumphant in Christ” is not an event or an occasion. It’s not fleeting. To be triumphant in Christ is a lifestyle … a state of being! To triumph in Christ is not something we do, it’s something we are.

Here is the big difference between victory in Christ and victory in the world: A victor in the world rejoices over something he did—swimming the English Channel, climbing Everest, making a million. But the believer rejoices over who he is—a child of God, a forgiven sinner, an heir of eternity. As the hymn goes, “Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”

Nothing can separate us from our triumph in Christ. Nothing! Our triumph is based not upon our feelings but upon God’s gift. Our triumph is based not upon our perfection but upon God’s forgiveness. How precious is this triumph! For even though we are pressed on every side, the victory is still ours. Nothing can alter the loyalty of God.

A friend of mine recently lost his father to death. The faith of his father had for years served as an inspiration for many. In the moments alone with the body of his father, my friend said this thought kept coming to his mind as he looked at his daddy’s face: You won. You won. You won!

As Joan of Arc said when she was abandoned by those who should have stood by her, “It is better to be alone with God. His friendship will not fail me, nor his counsel, nor his love. In his strength I will dare and dare and dare until I die.”

“Triumphant in Christ.” It is not something we do. It’s something we are.

—Max Lucado

 
I will come to you

What does Jesus do when you’re at your moment of desperation? Mark 6:48 says, “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.” Notice he didn’t tell the disciples to come to him. He knew they couldn’t get to him. He went to them. When you’re at that point of desperation, Jesus comes to you!

I love the fact that Jesus did not stand on the shore and shout instructions. When you’re in a storm, you don’t need advice. You need a miracle! You need somebody to show up, and this is what Jesus did. He intervened in the disciples’ storm.

This is the gospel—that God doesn’t stand on the shoreline telling us what to do. He comes out and meets us in our pain, our fear, our depression, our storm, and our discouragement. He comes to us. What a God!

You may feel abandoned right now, but you’re not. The Bible says in John 14:18, “I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm—I will come to you.” You can count on it!

—Rick Warren

 
Faith praises no matter what happens

Job had obviously lived a godly life for many years, but it took the implosion of the power of God from without to put the pressure on by means of the trials and afflictions of the Devil, before the power that was within exploded into a mighty atomic chain reaction of some of the most beautiful poetry in the Bible—the Song of Suffering which has echoed down through the ages to encourage countless millions with its reverberations of faith, patience, and praise in the midst of adversity. When everything goes wrong and seems contrary to God’s Word and the usual, those with great faith can say with Job, “even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15) Real gold—no matter how hot the fire or how long the fire, how hot the test or how long it lasts—will still come out gold, even finer gold!

God has a purpose in everything He allows, even if it is only to compel us to exercise our faith … and to demonstrate it for the encouragement of others, to inspire the faith of others and to encourage their trust in the Lord. How can we be more than conquerors when everything goes wrong and seems contrary to the Word and the usual? By being good losers, and even praising God in the midst of our losses. God often gets His greatest victories out of seeming defeat, and He often brings them along the neglected path of praise. Praise is the voice of faith!

—David Brandt Berg

 
All-inclusive love

David said we should give thanks because “the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 NIV) The Lord is good. What an important statement this is. The world is often evil. But God is good. His love never wavers. We may waver in our love for Him, but He never wavers in His love for us. Max Lucado has written:

How wide is God’s love? Wide enough for the whole world. Are you included in the world? Then you are included in God’s love.

It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough, and sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough.

But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you. When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and one to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know he died loving you.

But isn’t there a limit? Surely there has to be an end to this love. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But David the adulterer never found it. Paul the murderer never found it. Peter the liar never found it. When it came to life, they hit bottom. But when it came to God’s love, they never did. They, like you, found their names on God’s list of love.

David tells us that God’s faithfulness extends to all generations. When others fail us, He does not. When others desert us, He stands with us. When we declare our anger, He continues to declare His love. God is consistent. He is good. He is loving. Even when we don’t understand the circumstances of life, we should give thanks for the God whose character is without question. This character is what we rely on.

We give thanks for a sure Hope beyond the grave. How do people survive who see this life as all that there is? The Bible tells us that when we die, we go to be with the Lord. We are given a home prepared by God’s loving hands. We are given bodies that will never decay, malfunction, or embarrass us. We are reunited with loved ones who have died before us. And we will be with Jesus. Heaven is described by taking the most precious things of this life: gold, silver, precious stones … and making them the common things of Heaven. It is a reminder that this life is nothing in comparison to the splendor of the world to come. Heaven is depicted as a place of joy, singing, celebration. It is a place where wrongs are made right, where good is rewarded.

We give thanks for the Savior who made this hope possible… We give thanks for Jesus in every circumstance because He is our reason for hope. It is faith in Him that has made us new.

—Bruce Goettsche (http://www.unionchurch.com/archive/111900.html)

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

Reflection on Mercy from Psalm 51:1

By David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

What is mercy? We use a word and we know what it means, but sometimes it’s hard to explain it.

One example of mercy is if God forgives us and doesn’t give us the punishment that we deserve. He loves us and forgives us instead of punishing us. Because we’re sorry, we repent and we ask the Lord to forgive us and ask Him to help us not to do it anymore, then He gives us another chance. Mercy, in a sense, is like another chance. God gives you another chance by not chastising you the way you deserve. So that’s what David is praying here and what we all need to pray: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness.”

So lovingkindness must have something to do with mercy. Lovingkindness is really two words; it’s loving and kindness. If you’re loving, you’ll have lots of kindness.

What are transgressions? Sins. Sometimes there are signs up around ranches and farms that say “No trespassing.” Trespassing is a transgression. It means you’re going somewhere you don’t belong and you’re doing something you shouldn’t do. That’s why we pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In another Gospel it uses the word “sin.” (Luke 11:4)

I was talking about this with Brother Brown, who helped me build the church in Arizona. He didn’t believe that he could sin, because he was a holiness man. He believed he’d been wholly sanctified and could not sin because he had received the Holy Spirit. He figured that made him perfect and that it was impossible for him to sin.

He claimed to have had what he called the “second work of grace” that eradicated all of his sinful nature. His bad self was gone and therefore he was now sinless and he couldn’t do any wrong. So I said to him, “But every once in a while, even while we’re building here, Brother Brown, you’ve made a mistake. You’ve done something wrong, even accidentally.” He said, “Oh, that wasn’t a sin. That was just a mistake.” I said, “In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’” He said, “A trespass, that’s just a mistake; it’s not a sin.” I said, “Well, then how come in the other Gospel it says ‘forgive us our sins, like we forgive others who sin against us’?” He didn’t have an answer for that.

Transgressions are sins, like trespasses; they are when we’re doing something wrong. But the Lord is very merciful, and if we’re sorry and we sincerely ask Him to forgive us and try to not do it anymore, He will forgive us.

The Lord has mercy with us like we parents have mercy with our children. Justice means to give you what you deserve. If you deserve a punishment and you receive that punishment, that’s justice; you get judgment.

David is asking for mercy. He deserved to be punished; he even deserved to be killed under the Mosaic Law. He deserved to be stoned to death because he’d stolen another man’s wife, and then he killed the man on top of it. (See 2 Samuel 11) But he asked the Lord to forgive him; he’s pleading for mercy here. The Lord did punish him, but He didn’t kill him. That’s mercy. David deserved death, but the Lord forgave him because he repented. My mother used to say that he had a great sin but he had a great repentance, so he received a great forgiveness. He got mercy because he was very sorry and prayed and asked the Lord to forgive him.

When we’re very sorry and we ask the Lord for forgiveness and we try not to do it anymore, the Lord has mercy. There’s a time for mercy and forgiveness. In fact, what did the Lord Himself say? His disciples asked Him, “How many times should I forgive my brother? Should it be seven times or what?” And the Lord said, “Seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22) That’s 490 times.

The Lord is very merciful to us to forgive us for all of our sins, many more sins than 490, having real mercy on us and lovingkindness for us. That is mercy. He took our punishment for us so that we could be saved. Not because we’re perfect or because we never do anything wrong, but because He loves us. That’s real mercy. That’s forgiveness and lovingkindness.

We cannot save ourselves by our own works or goodness, even our own attempts to keep God’s laws and to love Him. We cannot be good enough or perfect enough to earn, merit, or deserve the heavenly perfection of salvation by His grace, love, and mercy! It is impossible for anyone to be saved without the miracle-working power of God.

Accepting salvation through His Word is a work of God’s grace. It’s free; it can only be received. It’s the gift of God—you can’t work for it. You can’t earn a gift or else it wouldn’t be a gift. You haven’t got anybody’s righteousness except Christ’s, and He’s the only one that can give it to you.

God can’t help you save yourself, since He doesn’t help those who think they can save themselves but only those who know they can’t. God’s idea of goodness is godliness—a sinner who knows he needs God and depends on Him for salvation. God’s idea of saintliness is not sinless perfection, self-righteousness. It’s a sinner saved by grace, a sinner who has no perfection, no righteousness of his own, but is totally dependent on the grace, love, and mercy of God by faith. Those are the only saints there are—there are no others!

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

No Room for Boasting

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.”
—Romans 3:27 NLT

What you boast in is what gives you confidence to go out and face the day. It is the thing of which you say: I am a somebody because I have that. I can beat what comes against me today because I am this. What you boast in is what fundamentally defines you; it is where you draw your identity and self-worth from.

Now, in the gospel, boasting is “excluded.” Why? A great way to understand what Paul means is to look at his own experience. In Philippians 3:5–11, Paul tells us what, before he became a Christian, he had confidence in; what he boasted in: “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” That is quite some list! It includes family pedigree, racial background, professional and educational attainments, and religiosity/morality. Then he says, “I consider them rubbish!” (Philippians 3:8) He has no confidence in them; he doesn’t boast about them—quite the opposite. He says: “I don’t need any of these things. None of these things help me at all!” What has he given them up for? “That I may gain Christ.” Paul is saying that boasting and believing are opposites; you can’t do both. The principle of faith excludes boasting (Romans 3:27) because faith understands that there is nothing we do that justifies us.

If we are to receive Jesus, we must give up boasting. … We only exclude boasting when we realize that our best achievements have done nothing to justify us! To boast in them is like a drowning man clutching a fistful of hundred-dollar bills and shouting, “I’m OK! I’ve got money!”

If you understand the gospel of righteousness received, you will never boast. Or rather, you will never boast in yourself, but you will boast only in someone who is not you, and exclusively about something you did not do: Christ, and him crucified. Paul says he will “never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14) Christians know they are saved solely and wholly by Christ’s work, not their own. They take no credit for their standing with God, nor for their blessings from God. Their boasting is transferred from themselves to their Savior, because everyone will always “boast” in—draw confidence and hope from—the object of their faith. If you know you are saved by Christ’s work alone, you have great confidence, but it is not self-confidence in your own works; rather, it is Christ-confidence in his death. You face the day, even the day of your death, saying to the world: “I have Christ. His death means that when God looks at me, he sees his beautiful child. World, I need nothing from you, and you can take nothing from me. I have Christ.”

—Timothy Keller

 
Not by works of righteousness

“Not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
—Ephesians 2:9 ESV

It’s encouraging to people to see that you’re not perfect, or that even their leaders are not perfect, they’re human. Look at Moses. Look at King David. Look at Joseph. There is a long string of imperfect people in the Bible and in church history. They were all men. Men of faith, but all of them had feet of clay and all of them made mistakes, and the Lord had to show that they were flesh and blood and just as weak as we are and made mistakes like we all do, and anything good that was accomplished was all the Lord.

It had to be all the Lord, for they became shining examples—not of their own greatness but of their utter dependence on the Lord. God was glorified, because sometimes they were dandy bad examples, which showed it was only the Lord that pulled them through. It was only the Lord that saved them. It was only the Lord that gave them the final victory. And it wasn’t of themselves, but of the Lord.

Just like salvation; it’s “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8–9) “Faith cometh by hearing the Word of God,” (Romans 10:17) but we’re saved by grace through faith. And it’s not of ourselves, lest any man should boast; it’s the gift of God. An awful lot of our preaching and teaching sometimes may seem to be like “we did it” and “we made it, and you should too.” We have to keep reminding ourselves and others (and if we don’t, God will) that it was all the Lord, that He’s the one that did it, and “without Him we can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

—David Brandt Berg

 
Degrees of glory

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
—2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

I fear sometimes that a doctrine which is popular in the church, about degrees of glory, is not altogether unassociated with that old self-righteousness of ours which is very loath to die. “One star differs from another star in glory” is a great truth—but this the stars may do without differing in degrees. One star may shine with one radiance, and another with another; indeed, astronomers tell us that there are many varieties of color among stars of the same magnitude!

One man may differ from another, without supposing a difference in rank, honor, or degree. For my part, I do not see anything about degrees in glory in Scripture, and I do not believe in the doctrine; at least if there are degrees; mark this, they cannot be according to works, but must be of divine grace alone! I cannot consider that because one Christian has been more devoted to Christ than another, therefore, there will be an eternal difference, for this is to introduce works …” Oh, brothers and sisters, I think we can serve God from some other motive than that base one of trying to be greater than our brethren in heaven!

If I should get to heaven at all, I do not care who is greater than I am, for if anyone shall have more happiness in heaven than I shall, then I shall have more happiness, too; for the sympathy between one soul and another will there be so intense and so great, that all the heavens of the righteous will be my heaven, and therefore, what you have, I shall have, because we shall all be one in fellowship far more perfectly than on earth. The private member will there be swallowed up in the common body. Surely, brothers and sisters, if any of you can have brighter places in heaven, and more happiness and more joy than I, I will be glad to know it. The prospect does not excite any envy in my soul now, or if it did now, it certainly would not then, for I should feel, that the more you had, the more I should have!

Perfect communion in all good things is not compatible with the private enrichment of one above another. Even on earth, the saints had all things common when they were in a heavenly state, and I am persuaded they will have all things common in glory. I do not believe in gentlemen in heaven, and the poor Christians behind the door; I believe that our union with each other will be so great that distinctions will be utterly lost, and that we shall all have such a joint communion, and interest, and fellowship, that there will be no such thing as private possessions, private ranks, and private honors—for we shall there, to the fullest extent, be one in Christ!

—Charles Spurgeon

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

The Amazing Love of Mothers

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorA mother’s love is like a circle; it has no beginning and no ending. It keeps going around and around, ever expanding, touching everyone who comes in contact with it. Engulfing them like the morning’s mist, warming them like the noontime sun, and covering them like a blanket of evening stars. A mother’s love is like a circle; it has no beginning and no ending.
—Art Urban

*

Motherhood is a hard job! There’s just no way to make it easy. It takes the strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the faith of Abraham! He had an awful lot of faith: He was the father of faith and the father of the faithful. It also takes the love of God, that’s for sure! And you could also say the insight of Daniel and the courage of David. At least the administrative ability of David, that’s for sure. David was a fighter, and it takes a lot of fight to be a mother. What a job!

I think motherhood is just about the biggest calling in the world, the greatest calling in the world! Mothers of the next generation. They are the ones that are molding the future. The world of tomorrow is what the mothers of today make it, according to the way they raise their children.

They used to say, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” And that’s the truth! My mother had the greatest influence over me of anybody in my whole life.

—David Brandt Berg

*

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
—Abraham Lincoln

*

Men are what their mothers made them.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

*

The future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.
—Napoleon Bonaparte

*

A little boy went up to his mother and he handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. This is what it said:

For cutting the grass: $5.00
For cleaning my room this week: $1.00
For going to the store for you: $.50
Baby-sitting my kid brother while you went shopping: $.25
Taking out the garbage: $1.00
For getting a good report card: $5.00
For cleaning up and raking the yard: $2.00
Total owed: $14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there expectantly, and you could see the memories flashing through her mind. So she picked up the pen, turned over the paper he’d written on, and this is what she wrote:

For the nine months I carried you while you were growing inside me, no charge.
For all the nights that I’ve sat up with you, doctored you and prayed for you, no charge.
For all the trying times, and all the tears through the years, there’s no charge.
For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead, no charge.
For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose, there’s no charge, son.
And when you add it all up, the full cost of real love is no charge.

When he finished reading what his mother had written, there were great big tears in his eyes, and he looked straight up at his mother and said, “Mom, I sure do love you.” And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: “ALREADY PAID.”

—M. Adams, adapted (http://www.frtommylane.com/stories.htm)

*

A mother is the truest friend we have. When trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us, when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
—Washington Irving

*

Mother is the bank where we deposit all our hurts and worries.
—Author unknown

*

Don’t nothin’ come before my kids. My kids always come first. If I had food and I didn’t have enough, I would let them eat first. If they left anything, I’d eat. If they didn’t, I would just wait until next time.
—Lillie Jackson

*

She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to the children, who ate with avidity.
“She hath kept none for herself,” grumbled the sergeant.
“Because she is not hungry,” said a soldier.
“Because she is a mother,” said the sergeant.
—Victor Hugo

*

There were two warring tribes in the Andes, one that lived in the lowlands and the other high in the mountains. The mountain people invaded the lowlanders one day, and as part of their plundering of the people, they kidnapped a baby of one of the lowlander families and took the infant with them back up into the mountains.

The lowlanders didn’t know how to climb the mountain. They didn’t know any of the trails that the mountain people used, and they didn’t know where to find the mountain people or how to track them in the steep terrain. Even so, they sent out their best party of fighting men to climb the mountain and bring the baby home.

The men tried first one method of climbing and then another. They tried one trail and then another. After several days of effort, however, they had climbed only several hundred feet. Feeling hopeless and helpless, the lowlander men decided that the cause was lost, and they prepared to return to their village below.

As they were packing their gear for the descent, they saw the baby’s mother walking toward them. They realized that she was coming down the mountain that they hadn’t figured out how to climb. And then they saw that she had the baby strapped to her back. How could that be?

One man greeted her and said, “We couldn’t climb this mountain. How did you do this when we, the strongest and most able men in the village, couldn’t do it?”

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It wasn’t your baby.”

—Jim Stovall (You Don’t Have to Be Blind to See (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), copied from http://storiesforpreaching.com)

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

Spiritual Buoyancy

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorWhen thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
—Isaiah 43:2

*

When Mrs. Booth, the mother of the Salvation Army, was dying, she quietly said, “The waters are rising but I am not sinking.” But then she had been saying that all through her life. Other floods besides the waters of death had gathered about her soul. Often had the floods been out and the roads were deep in affliction. But she had never sunk! The good Lord made her buoyant, and she rode upon the storm!

This, then, is the promise of the Lord, not that the waters of trouble shall never gather about the believer, but that he shall never be overwhelmed. He shall “keep his head above them.” Yes, to him shall be given the grace of “aboveness.” He shall never be under, always above! It is the precious gift of spiritual buoyancy, sanctified good spirits, the power of the Christian hope. When we are in Christ Jesus, circumstances shall never be our master. One is our Master, and “we are more than conquerors in Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”

—J. H. Jowett

*

Joy is a spiritual buoyancy that comes when we are rejoicing in God.
—Tim Keller

*

In 2 Corinthians 4:7–9 we read: “We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great [extraordinary; transcendent] power is from God, not from us. We have troubles and trials all around us, but we are not defeated or crushed. We do not know what to do, [are perplexed/bewildered], but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted and pursued but God does not leave us, He does not abandon or leave us behind. We are hurt sometimes, struck down, knocked over, but we are not destroyed.”

This joy, this buoyancy, does not mean we are impervious to suffering; it means we are unsinkable. We are constantly getting wet, we are constantly being pushed down. However, we do not stay down; we don’t sink.

—Tim Keller

*

Our buoyancy comes from a focus on the unchanging privileges that we have in God, namely complete access to our gracious loving Forever Father.
—Author unknown

*

God seems to ask greater depths of experience of us as we go along the heavenly pathway. First the water of trial is ankle deep, then knee deep, and later loin deep with waters to swim in. Swimming on top of trouble would never be possible in ankle-deep waters. How good that the Lord graduates our trials, which though severe all issue well.
—W. M. Wadsworth

*

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
—Isaiah 40:31

*

Here is the analogy that comes to mind: it feels as if I am floating on the top of water in a swimming pool on one of those inflatable cushions. When you lie on one of those, and one of your friends tries to push you down under the water level, they can do it, but only for a little while. Why? I believe you call it BUOYANCY.

The definition of buoyancy in Wikipedia (it is on the World Wide Web, so it has to be accurate, right?): “an upward acting force, caused by fluid pressure that opposes an object’s weight.” It goes on to say, “If the object is either less dense than the liquid or shaped appropriately (as in a boat), the force can keep the object afloat.”

Okay, so there you go. Prayer is God’s UPWARD-ACTING FORCE! As God’s people were praying for me, I simply did not, could not, and will not go under for good. He doesn’t allow it to happen.

When you add in the fact that as believers, we are less dense—Jesus lives in us—and we are shaped appropriately—we are in Christ—you can’t be in a better position! Right? Add those two huge things together and you get spiritual buoyancy.

Again, all of us are human. This doesn’t mean that you don’t go under. It just means that with prayer and Jesus, you don’t stay there.

And, in fact, the lower you go, the faster you shoot up because of upward-acting forces. Try to push a beach ball far under the water and you will see what I mean. It shoots up out of the water with great force.

I am learning that this upward-acting force is always more powerful than any weight—including cancer and all the scary unknowns that go with it—that tries to push me down.

—John D. Talbert

*

A little brown cork
Fell in the path of a whale
Who lashed it down
With his angry tail.
But in spite of its blows
It quickly arose,
And floated serenely
Before his nose.
Said the cork to the whale:
“You may flap and sputter and frown,
But you never, never, can keep me down;
For I’m made of the stuff
That is buoyant enough
To float instead of drown.”
—Author unknown

*

I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth.
—Isaiah 58:14

*

Those who fly through the air in airships tell us that one of the first rules they learn is to turn their ship toward the wind, and fly against it. The wind lifts the ship up to higher heights. Where did they learn that? They learned it from the birds. If a bird is flying for pleasure, it goes with the wind. But if the bird meets danger, it turns right around and faces the wind, in order that it may rise higher; and it flies away toward the very sun.

Sufferings are God’s winds, His contrary winds, sometimes His strong winds. They are God’s hurricanes, but they take human life and lift it to higher levels and toward God’s heavens.

You have seen in the summertime a day when the atmosphere was so oppressive that you could hardly breathe? But a cloud appeared on the western horizon and that cloud grew larger and threw out rich blessing for the world. The storm rose, lightning flashed and thunder pealed. The storm covered the world, and the atmosphere was cleansed; new life was in the air, and the world was changed.

Human life is worked out according to exactly the same principle. When the storm breaks, the atmosphere is changed, clarified, filled with new life; and a part of heaven is brought down to earth.

—Streams in the Desert, Volume 1

*

Obstacles ought to set us singing. The wind finds voice, not when rushing across the open sea, but when hindered by the outstretched arms of the pine trees, or broken by the fine strings of an Aeolian harp. Then it has songs of power and beauty. Set your freed soul sweeping across the obstacles of life, through grim forests of pain, against even the tiny hindrances and frets that love uses, and it, too, will find its singing voice.
—Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Activated

The Sound of Silence

By Daveen Daniels

free-bible-studies-online-activated-the-sound-of-silence

My morning routine is a bit like this: My alarm goes off and I lie in bed a moment longer to pray for the day ahead. After getting up, I’ll give my inbox a quick scan, and then read or listen to something devotional and inspiring, sometimes distracted by my mail or to-do list. Then I’ll get dressed, eat breakfast, and then I’m off to work.

My day is full of sounds and action; I’m listening, thinking, speaking, typing all day long, and when the day is over, I relax by reading or talking with a friend or watching something humorous. I even listen to audiobooks as I fall asleep. Life is constant mental processing. I’m receiving input and information and reacting and thinking all the time. I don’t experience silence unless I carve out space for it, which I try to do daily.

For me, meditation is taking time to still my mind, to be silent, to breathe deeply, to be grateful and reflective. It’s not a time when I try to accomplish or achieve anything mentally. Meditation is something I’m naturally drawn to, and if I go for a few days without some form of meditation, I begin to feel it.

I grew up in a large family of 10 with lots of bustle, excitement, and noise. So from an early age I sought out solitude and quiet. During my teen years, I would climb onto a small ledge adjoining our balcony that overlooked our garden and giant jackfruit tree. There I would read and write, or sometimes just sit and think.

Lately, however, I’ve chosen to multitask my meditation with my exercise routine. While running or walking, usually in a beautiful, peaceful place, I slip into meditation mode.

The world is full of information, music, media, and distractions. There’s so much that can take you away from thinking—like watching something lighthearted after an especially grueling day. And while activities that take your mind off the day or your troubles can be relaxing, the purity and beauty of meditation is that it not only relaxes you, but it can also energize you to face the challenges of life.

I once read that meditation is a bit like pouring liquid into a strainer. Sometimes you have to wait for a liquid to pass through the strainer slowly before you can add more. As we meditate and reflect on God’s Word, it’s as if those words and that information is being poured into our hearts and minds slowly, and its reach is thorough and deep. This allows His Word to get beneath the surface of our mind and seep into our heart, and there water the seeds of change and growth.

Much like with eating, our body needs time to digest and assimilate the nutrients from the food in order for us to benefit from it. Meditation on God’s Word is like spiritually digesting what we read so that we can benefit from it fully.

The Bible talks a lot about meditation, especially in the book of Psalms, as King David was obviously an avid meditator: “I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.” (Psalm 63:6 NLT) “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:12 NIV) “I will meditate on your precepts, and contemplate your ways.” (Psalm 119:15)

Here’s something I read recently:

Moses also knew a thing or two about getting alone with God. He had several million people sitting out in the middle of the desert, waiting on him and tearing their hair out, wondering, “What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? Where are we going? What are we going to do?” And what did Moses do? He climbed to the top of a mountain and stayed there alone with the Lord for 40 days! (See Exodus 34:28)

Jesus also had to take time away from the crowds, and even away from His disciples and friends to commune with God and receive the strength He needed to go forward and accomplish His purpose: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV) (David Brandt Berg)

 
It can be hard work getting quiet!

God says to us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “in quietness and confidence is your strength!” (Isaiah 30:15 NLT) We have to make time to be quiet, though. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 even says that we need to “study to be quiet.” (KJV)

Maybe you’ve tried taking some quiet time with God, and the minute you’re still and waiting, your mind gets hit with hundreds of thoughts, worries, or reminders. If that’s the case, it may help to have some props to help you to get into that restful mode. I’ve found that music clears my mind, so I’ve put together a playlist of songs that help me do this. Each person is different, though, and you’ll have to discover how you enjoy meditating and what works best for you right now. Just realize that those preferences or methods may change as you or your situation changes.

For example, if sitting still and doing nothing makes you antsy, then you could try meditating while on a walk or a bike ride. Or if being outdoors doesn’t do it for you, find a cozy spot in your house or someplace else you enjoy being, and take your quiet time there. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you are when you’re meditating, the idea is to take some time alone, where it is just you and God. Don’t put pressure on yourself to accomplish anything during this time or to experience any specific feelings; just enjoy the quiet, think on God’s love and goodness, and see what it does for you.

Here’s a meditation exercise you could try, to help you to get into that quiet mood:

Imagine a scene of a confusing, noisy city in rush hour, with horns blaring, hundreds of people rushing along the sidewalks and crossing the streets, just general mayhem and confusion. But now close the door on that scene and open another door that introduces you to a scene of fields of grass and beautiful flowers, or a scene of undiscovered waterfalls where everything is lush and pure and clean. Or a scene of towering majestic mountains with their snowcapped peaks, where views are breathtaking and there is always a refreshing breeze.

The world is here for you to enjoy, to appreciate, and to help you connect with God. He is in all of the beautiful creation around you‚ and by appreciating it, you are appreciating Him. (Maria Fontaine)

I think there is something magical about meditation. When I’m alone and silent with God, I feel Him nearer. Meditation helps to bring my mind and heart closer to God’s. It gives me greater understanding of His Word and helps me align my perspectives with His and live my life as I believe He wants me to.

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses.
And the voice I hear,
Falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share, as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
—Charles Austin Miles (1868–1946)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Anchor

Taking Our Burdens to Jesus

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchorWe have all been through some very difficult times of testing at different points of our lives. Each one of us has had our special tests, and as a result, had special opportunities to be strengthened in our faith and walk with the Lord. Maybe you’re still in the midst of battle and you’re feeling weary and wondering what good all of this testing is doing, and you’re wondering when this is all going to stop.

But no matter what is going on in your life, the Lord wants you to know that He loves you, He cares; everything is in His hands. Whatever He allows to come into your life will somehow work together for your good. And though you can’t see it now, you will be able to see it in the future. Can you believe this?

Maybe you’ve suffered a heartbreak in a relationship recently, and you feel broken, crushed, alone, insecure, and unlovable. The unfailing love of Jesus is there for you even through your darkest and loneliest nights, and He can help you have faith in love once again. He won’t leave your heart and life broken; even if it’s shattered in a million pieces, He’s able to find and gather each piece‚ to make you complete, and make something beautiful of your life.

Jesus understands it all. Even if no one else understands how your heart is aching, He truly understands. It may take time for the hurt you are experiencing to heal, but it will heal because He has promised that He will not leave us comfortless. (John 14:18) He wants to comfort us through everything that we experience. He’s touched with the feeling of our infirmities‚ and He understands. (Hebrews 4:15) He will ease your burdens. He will soothe the pain. He will answer your prayers. You will see the sunshine again one day soon, so don’t give up in despair, but talk to your Best Friend and let Him give you the comfort that you need.

Maybe you feel overworked or overloaded right now; you feel that you just can’t keep up with the pressure of all that there is to do. If you’re feeling worn out spiritually, physically, mentally, or all three, remember Jesus’ promise, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

When the Lord asks you to do something and it’s very difficult for you‚ you may be tempted to think, “That’s too hard, Lord; I’m not capable of that,” or “I don’t have the physical or mental or emotional or spiritual talents and capabilities”—but we have to believe that if the Lord asks us to do it, then He’s going to make it possible. So you have to go ahead by faith and just do it. You put yourself out on a limb, saw it off‚ and see Him catch you.

It might seem impossible to do everything that is on your plate, and it is, and that’s why you just have to ask the Lord for His strength and guidance as to what to do and what to leave undone. If the burden becomes too much for you to bear, talk to Jesus about it and ask Him for the solution. He will show you how to pace yourself. He’ll tell you when you need to stop for a while and just pray, or read His Word, or meditate, or take some downtime away from work when you just enjoy life and your family and loved ones.

Maybe you’re discouraged about your efforts in your service for the Lord and the apparent lack of fruit‚ or you’re discouraged about your personal spiritual progress, feeling that you aren’t doing enough or growing in your relationship with the Lord. In times like this, you can know that the Lord is helping you to build endurance, and that if you patiently persevere and do the will of God, you will receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:36)

Maybe you’ve landed in a temporary situation where you seem to be getting stuck for a long time, or you simply can’t find a place, a job, a home, or a calling or career that seems right for you. Please don’t despair, because Jesus is preparing a place for you—not only a place in heaven, but a place on earth here and now. Remember too that God doesn’t make mistakes, and if He has seen fit to place you somewhere, it may be that where you are right now is the best place for you to be for this time and for His purposes.

God’s great men and women didn’t look for the places of service that suited them, but rather for what they could do for others. They looked for the need and they were honored to be chosen to fill that need. They were visionaries who believed that they could make a difference in the world, and they set out to make that difference‚ and many of them achieved their goal because they didn’t give up.

I recently read something that I thought did a good job of describing the character of the visionary.

 

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for some underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
—From The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent Keith

 
Doing the right thing anyway, in spite of opposition or your own feelings, is the making of great men and women; it’s the path to success. And when you walk His road, He won’t fail to take care of you and your children. He’ll meet all your needs. You can count on His promises.

The Lord has promised to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, (Philippians 4:19) and He’s promised to strengthen you out of His unlimited resources with power through His Spirit in your inner being. (Ephesians 3:16) We know that He will never fail to do so as we keep trusting Him and claiming His promises!

He is going to take care of you, no matter what! And one day you’re going to be so thankful that He brought you through each and every thing you experienced in this earth life and gave you the grace to be faithful to Him and to love others.

Thank you for being faithful to the calling the Lord has given you in spite of the difficulties. He will not fail to give you everything you need to fulfill His will for your life.

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.