Activated

Appearances and the Big Picture

By Maria Fontaine, adapted

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Do you sometimes feel like a failure? Things haven’t turned out the way you thought they should have or the way you wanted? Your expectations have been disappointed, your goals haven’t been reached?

Well, let me tell you about a man who felt like a failure.

He was sickly, often depressed to the point of wanting to give up on life completely. Both of his parents had died by the time he was 14. He was expelled from college, which meant that his dreams of higher education and his goal of being a minister were out of the question. He struggled with loneliness and isolation. He battled with fear of death. He died at a young age in poverty after severe illness, with what seemed like few accomplishments to his name.

He was a failure in his own eyes and in the eyes of many others at the time. Yet his story has inspired many missionaries and workers for God, both past and present. His converts went on to witness to others, and his missionary work influenced many. Generations of Christians have been inspired through his prayer journal.

He died not knowing if he had accomplished anything, except for gaining a handful of converts. His life was only distinguished after his death.

It was his life’s struggles on this earth—his so-called failures—in the form of his doubts and depression, his anguish of spirit, that helped many other missionaries and encouraged and strengthened them in their missions.

Was it truly failure? Or did God want to use his life as a candle—however small the light and however briefly it would shine before being extinguished—to bring illumination and encouragement to future generations of workers for God?

Did God make a mistake? Is it possible to look like a failure and still be a success in God’s eyes?

His name was David Brainerd. Here’s a brief overview of his life, which I’ve compiled and condensed from several books and online sources:

David Brainerd, missionary to the North American Indians. Born April 20, 1718.

By the age of 21, he had received Jesus as his Savior and determined to be a witness. In September of 1739, he enrolled at Yale College. It was a time of transition at Yale. When he first entered the school, he was distressed by the religious indifference he saw around him, but the impact of evangelist George Whitefield and the Great Awakening soon made its mark. Prayer and Bible study groups sprang up overnight—usually to the displeasure of school authorities who were fearful of religious “enthusiasm.” It was in this atmosphere that young Brainerd made an intemperate remark about one of the tutors, commenting that he had “no more grace than a chair,” judging him to be a hypocrite. The remark was carried back to the school officials, and David was expelled after he refused to make a public apology for what he had said in private.

Brainerd persisted in his efforts to spread the gospel, even though, by almost every standard known to missionary boards, he was considered a risky candidate for missions. He had by his own description a melancholy disposition. He was physically weak, experienced frequent bouts of illness and depression, and had to take frequent furloughs.

In 1742, he obtained a commission as a missionary among the Native Americans. His first year of missionary activities wasn’t particularly successful. He couldn’t speak the language of the natives, nor was he prepared for the difficulties of life in the wilderness. He was lonely and deeply sad. He wrote:

“My heart was sunk. … It seemed to me I should never have any success among the Indians. My soul was weary of my life; I longed for death, beyond measure.

“I live in the most lonely melancholy desert. … My diet consists mostly of hasty-pudding [ground-up grain mush], boiled corn, and bread baked in ashes. … My lodging is a little heap of straw laid upon some boards. My work is exceeding hard and difficult.”

His first winter in the wilderness was filled with hardship and sickness. His second year of missionary service he considered a total loss, and his hopes of evangelizing the Indians faded. He seriously considered giving up his work.

His third year, he moved to a different area and there his meetings began to attract as many as seventy Native Americans at a time, some of them traveling 40 miles to hear the message of salvation. There was a religious awakening, and after a year and a half, the traveling preacher had about 150 converts, some of whom went on to witness to others.

Brainerd’s first journey to one ferocious tribe resulted in a miracle that left him revered among the natives as a “prophet of God.” Encamped on the outskirts of the native settlement, Brainerd planned to enter the community the next morning to preach. Unknown to him, his every move was being watched by warriors who had been sent out to kill him. F. W. Boreham recorded the incident:

When the braves drew closer to Brainerd’s tent, they saw the paleface on his knees. And as he prayed, suddenly a rattlesnake slipped to his side, lifted up its ugly head to strike, flicked its forked tongue almost in his face, and then without any apparent reason, glided swiftly away into the brushwood. “The Great Spirit is with the paleface!” the Indians said; and thus they accorded him a prophet’s welcome.

That incident in Brainerd’s ministry illustrates more than the many divine interventions of God in his life—it also illustrates the importance and intensity of prayer in his life. On page after page in Life and Diary of David Brainerd, one reads such sentences as:

“God again enabled me to wrestle for numbers of souls, and had much fervency in the sweet duty of intercession.”

“Spent much time in prayer in the woods and seemed raised above the things of this world.”

“Spent this day in secret fasting, and prayer, from morning till night.”

“It was raining and the roads were muddy; but this desire grew so strong that I kneeled down by the side of the road and told God all about it. While I was praying, I told Him that my hands would work for Him, my tongue speak for Him, if He would only use me as His instrument—when suddenly the darkness of the night lit up, and I knew that God had heard and answered my prayer.”

“In the silences I make in the midst of the turmoil of life, I have appointments with God. From these silences, I come forth with spirit refreshed, and with a renewed sense of power. I hear a voice in the silences, and become increasingly aware that it is the voice of God.”

After all the hardships Brainerd had endured, his health was broken. He died at the age of 29 on October 9, 1747. His selfless devotion, zeal, and life of prayer inspired other missionaries, like Henry Martyn, William Carey, Jonathan Edwards, Adoniram Judson, and John Wesley. His influence after his death was greater than any results achieved during his lifetime. His journal became a classic that has inspired many to engage in missionary service. His influence is proof that God can and will use any vessel that is willing to be a tool in His hands, no matter how fragile and frail.

 

 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Anchor

Never Ever Quit!

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorLife is hard sometimes.

When you’ve worked as hard as you possibly could and yet you failed to make the grade, your dreams remain out of reach, and you feel you just can’t do it anymore, you can feel like giving up.

All of us have probably felt that way at some time or another. Maybe you’ve been in that situation recently. In fact, maybe you feel that way right now.

When you’re getting pounded and slammed again and again, how do you get through it?

I know how. You do too.

You keep going!

No matter what, you just keep going! As Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Okay, that might be oversimplifying a complex issue, but really, in order to accomplish anything significant, you have to keep fighting day after day, no matter what roadblocks you run into. In the face of disappointment or even failure, that’s the time to try again, work harder, study more, and pray desperately.

All great accomplishments take a lot of work and time; they don’t come easily. When progress is slow and our plans or dreams are not coming together as quickly as we’d hoped, it’s easy to wonder if something is wrong. More often, however, I believe that when we hit a brick wall we’re simply going through the normal paces required for progress and success. It’s not that we have to give more or sacrifice more than most others. No, that’s just the road to accomplishment.

If we embark on a new adventure and expect quick results, if that doesn’t happen, or more likely when that doesn’t happen, we can become disappointed and even disillusioned. And even worse, we can be tempted to quit. If we can realize that God’s path for us isn’t likely to be an easy road, then we’ll face the challenges with enthusiasm, and we won’t be caught off guard or derailed when working toward our goals is much more confusing, taxing, and time-consuming than we anticipated.

God works with each of us differently. We are each on our own personal paths that can lead us to both beautiful vistas and dark valleys at different stages of our journey.

Tony Snow explained the challenges of life as follows:

God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don’t. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

Tony Snow, age 51 and father of three, declared those inspiring words when he was in the midst of fighting cancer.

There are many different approaches to facing setbacks and disappointments. I don’t think there’s one perfect formula for overcoming difficulties. There’s no set list of “must do’s” if you’re looking to muster up courage and strength to endure fear, stress, heartache, frustration, or any of the other challenges that accompany the dry spells in our lives. Some things that can help us get through the worst of times are praying and asking others to pray with or for us; seeking the advice of a trusted friend or mentor; taking some time away from the situation to think, regain perspective, and get a better overall understanding of what our options are; hearing from the Lord; reading the Word and inspirational or comforting writings; or having a heart-to-heart talk with a loved one.

I often find inspiration from true stories about people who have accomplished great things in the face of hardship or handicap. Sports provide some great examples along these lines because they’re such public examples and there’s a clear means of measuring their accomplishments. For example:

During a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton, the Bears’ running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage. The other announcer remarked, “Yeah, and that’s with somebody knocking him down every 4.6 yards!” Walter Payton, the most successful running back ever, knows that everyone—even the very best—gets knocked down. The key to success is to get up and run again just as hard.

Sometimes great athletes have overcome tremendous odds. This adds to their amazing stories of courage and perseverance, such as the story of Wilma Rudolph.

[She] didn’t get much of a head start in life. A bout with polio left her left leg crooked and her foot twisted inward so she had to wear leg braces. After seven years of painful therapy, she could walk without her braces. At age 12 Wilma tried out for a girls’ basketball team, but didn’t make it. Determined, she practiced with a girlfriend and two boys every day. The next year she made the team. When a college track coach saw her during a game, he talked her into letting him train her as a runner. By age 14 she had outrun the fastest sprinters in the U.S. In 1956 Wilma made the U.S. Olympic team, but showed poorly. That bitter disappointment motivated her to work harder for the 1960 Olympics in Rome—and there Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals, the most a woman had ever won.

Sports isn’t the only arena that requires vision and persistence. You can find great examples in all walks of life, including business. Here’s a fairly well-known story.

Automobile genius Henry Ford once came up with a revolutionary plan for a new kind of engine which we know today as the V-8. Ford was eager to get his great new idea into production. He had some men draw up the plans, and presented them to the engineers. As the engineers studied the drawings, one by one they came to the same conclusion. Their visionary boss just didn’t know much about the fundamental principles of engineering. He’d have to be told gently—his dream was impossible.

Ford said, “Produce it anyway.” They replied, “But it’s impossible.” “Go ahead,” Ford commanded, “and stay on the job until you succeed, no matter how much time is required.”

For six months they struggled with drawing after drawing, design after design. Nothing. Another six months. Nothing. At the end of the year Ford checked with his engineers and they once again told him that what he wanted was impossible. Ford told them to keep going. They did. And they discovered how to build a V-8 engine.

I think we can minimize a lot of the frustration or confusion we might encounter if we adopt the attitude that reaching our goals will take time, there’s no way around that. And it’s a sure thing there will be setbacks, but if we persist through them, eventually we’ll find success.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4 ESV)

Let’s remember, too, that setbacks are not indicative of God’s displeasure or that you’re missing the mark or out of His will in some way; they’re simply the natural course of life and part of the journey to any accomplishment. So it helps to not catastrophize when we run into problems or delays, because thinking negatively about our challenges dampens our faith and the positive action that’s required to push through the difficulty. Instead of lamenting how hard our lives are or how terribly everything is going, it’s more effective to fill our minds with God’s faith-building Word, encouraging stories of overcoming, and empowering thoughts and positive statements.

Sometimes I set goals, but then whatever I’m working toward ends up taking so much longer than I planned or expected. Often things don’t happen according to our timetable; but maybe God has a different timetable, in accordance with His overarching plan. If we have faith and determination, then we won’t just quit and make excuses when something doesn’t work out as we had hoped. That would be a cop-out, and that’s not going to bring about the end goal of our living the lives we’re hoping for. As Helen Keller reportedly said: “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Unless you fail to make the turn.”

Life can’t always be balanced. Sometimes you’ll find that you’re doing double or triple time; there’s work, the children, studying, managing the house, caring for a sick or disabled loved one or child, and on and on it goes. Those really tough times are what a friend of mine calls “the kill years.” That’s when you’re way busier than you want to be, you’re getting very little sleep and exercise, you have almost no free time, and you’re absolutely exhausted. And on top of that, you often don’t see the progress or success you had hoped for.

Yep, those are the “kill years.” It’s hard. And yet you just have to push through. You just have to keep going.

Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.
―Theodore Roosevelt

Whether you’re studying, starting a business, pursuing a new career, learning a new skill, or whatever you’re busy doing, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll face challenges—a lot of challenges! And this certainly applies to those who are pioneering or building a mission work. Often it takes a long time before you see fruit, and you might face difficulties or opposition along the way. Sometimes we hear or read about men or women who accomplished great things for the Lord, and we might conclude that they found success and favor easily. But we are likely not seeing the full story. Take this example from the diary of the great evangelist and founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley:

Sunday, A.M., May 5 Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore.

Sunday, P.M., May 5 Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said “Get out and stay out.”

Sunday, A.M., May 12 Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either.

Sunday, A.M., May 19 Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.

Sunday, P.M., May 19 Preached on street. Kicked off street.

Sunday, A.M., May 26 Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.

Sunday, A.M., June 2 Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.

Sunday, P.M., June 2 Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me.

There are many true stories, like this one, that illustrate the magic that happens when you refuse to surrender in the face of difficulty. Each of those stories is a testimony to the power of perseverance.

The takeaway for our lives is this: When we don’t quit, anything is possible.

“Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give in. Don’t ever stop trying. Don’t ever sell out. And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off. But never, ever, ever give up.”

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Why Persecution?

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg

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“If the World HATES you,” Jesus told His followers, “you know that it hated ME BEFORE it hated YOU! If you were OF the WORLD, the World would LOVE its own. But because you are NOT of the World, but I have chosen you OUT of the World, THEREFORE the World HATES you!” (John 15:18,19) This explains why CHRISTIANS who are really following Jesus are frequently LIED about, VILIFIED and outright PERSECUTED by the forces of “this present evil World”! (Galatians 1:4)

“But come now!”, some may object. “This is the TWENTIETH CENTURY, a modern, enlightened and civilised age! Aren’t things different now?” Well, sad to say, NO, they’re NOT! The heart of Man is the same today as it always was! In fact, if anything, “Wicked men and deceivers have grown WORSE and WORSE”, just like the Bible said they would! (2Timothy 3:13)–And the Devil is just as real and evil as ever, and his people are just as vicious and against God’s people as ever! In this regard, times have NOT changed!

WHY did the World hate JESUS? He was PERFECT, the Son of God. He never committed a sin or did anything wrong, but look what happened to HIM! The RELIGIOUS LEADERS of His day were so infuriated with Him that they not only LIED about Him and actively campaigned against Him, but they actually had Him ARRESTED, TRIED and publicly and shamefully EXECUTED like a common criminal, crucified on a cruel cross!

WHY did they do this to Jesus? Because He EXPOSED them! They SAID the reason they wanted to get rid of Him was because He broke their RELIGIOUS laws, traditions and conventions. But the REAL reason that they wanted to kill Him was because He EXPOSED their HYPOCRISY and their SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, He showed the public what absolute HYPOCRITES they were! “White-washed TOMBS which APPEAR beautiful and clean OUTWARDLY, but within are full of wickedness, filth and dead men’s bones!” (Matthew 23:27)

Jesus PREACHED what they WEREN’T preaching, DID what they WEREN’T doing, and showed great LOVE and MERCY to others, exposing how LITTLE love these religious leaders had! His simple life of healing, teaching, loving and reaching the common people in the streets, markets, gathering places etc., exposed and condemned the religious leaders for their selfishness and lack of love!

If you preach the TRUTH, you cannot help but make ENEMIES! Jesus said, “If I had not come and SPOKEN unto them, they had not had sin. But NOW they have NO CLOAK, no COVERING, for their sin!” (John 15:22) Which is why the ones who SHOULD have been His FRIENDS, who were supposed to be of His same religion–the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Chief Priests–were the very ones who KILLED Him! Because He EXPOSED their religion for the empty, hollow, shallow sham that it really was! (Read Matthew 23!)

Another major reason that the religious leaders violently turned against Jesus was because His liberating message of, “All you have to do now is LOVE God and your neighbours as yourself!” (Matthew 22:37-39), destroyed their dictatorial control over the people! Jesus’ doctrine of GRACE gave the people FREEDOM and made them realise that they didn’t NEED the old laws, ceremonies and traditions of their former religion any more! OUR message of Love and freedom has likewise caused many religious leaders today to accuse us of being “immoral breakers of God’s Laws”, when all we’re actually doing is accepting and practicing the liberty that the NEW TESTAMENT talks about from cover-to-cover! God’s LIBERATING Law of Love!

Jesus told some compromising hypocritical religionists of His day, “The World CANNOT hate YOU, but it hates ME.–Because I speak the TRUTH against it, EXPOSING its evils!” (John 7:7) The reason why we true Christians today have so many enemies is the same: We have uncloaked and exposed the enemies of God with the bright and searing light of His Truth!

In our PUBLICATIONS–which we have distributed throughout the World literally by the MILLIONS to the BILLIONS–we have repeatedly exposed the ANTI-CHRIST FORCES that are taking over the World! The so-called “ONE-WORLDERS”, the international big money boys who control and manipulate this World’s financial and political systems!

In HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of pages of publications, we have exposed their plans to bring on the great ECONOMIC CRASH in order to destabilise things enough for them to be able to put their man on the throne of the World! The long-foretold “ANTICHRIST” who will ultimately demand the World’s obeisance and worship, forcing men to be branded like cattle with his soul-damning credit mark and number, 666! The Mark of the BEAST! (Revelation 13). The propagators of this plot have frequently used their enormous influence and financial resources to orchestrate massive media campaigns against us.

(For more on this topic, visit The Signs Of The End site)

Our uncompromising stand against the evils of COMMUNISM–an integral PART of the Antichrist’s scheme for World domination-has also caused many to turn against us and persecute us with a vengeance! Nevertheless we feel it is our God-given duty to expose the anti-Christ forces that are at work in this World, so that people can know the TRUTH, and BEWARE, and have their eyes opened to the “Signs of the Times” that are clear indications that we are NOW living in the TIME OF THE END, and that Jesus Himself will soon return to take over this crooked World to set things STRAIGHT!

Our challenge to the established CHURCHES to obey Christ’s command to “GO into ALL the World and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature!” (Mark 16:15), has also brought the wrath of many conservative RELIGIONISTS down upon us! Because we have given our ALL to obey Christ’s command, our lives have put other Christians to shame who REFUSE to do so, so they have either got to start obeying THEMSELVES, or somehow DISCREDIT US to ease their OWN guilty consciences! This is the REAL reason that so many supposedly religious people take it upon themselves to persecute and campaign against us!

Also defectors and backsliders, who, like Judas who betrayed Jesus, have lied about us and tried to stir up trouble against us to justify themselves! Actually, MOST of them chose to leave because usually they found they were unable to sacrifice and endure the hardships and rigors of our way of life. But SOME who have left us, rather than ADMIT and confess failure on THEIR part, turn against us in order to excuse and justify themselves for leaving. A few have even been paid and manipulated by our powerful religious enemies to write and speak against us.

Another reason we have often been vilified is because we have uncompromisingly proclaimed and exposed the evils of modern, decadent AMERICA! Warning them that, “The wicked shall be turned into HELL, and EVERY nation that FORGETS God!” (Psalm 9:17) Infuriating many Americans by telling them that God would soon judge and destroy their once-Christian nation for their sins against Him and the poor of the World! The Worldfamous evangelist, Billy Graham, has said the same of the U.S.: “If God does not judge the U.S., He will have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah!”

We have continued to warn America of her sins, yet she has continued to turn her back on God! She has become even MORE materialistic, MORE anti-Christ, MORE perverted and MORE vicious and cruel, not only in her relentless nuclear arms build-up and unprecedented weapons sales to the rest of the World–fueling the fires of war around the Globe–but also in her creation and exportation of absolutely sickening VIOLENT and PERVERTED horror movies and so-called “thrillers”, as well as her “punk”, “heavy-metal” and other demonic music that is corrupting the youth of the entire WORLD!

Not to mention her appalling example to the rest of the World, pretending to be so righteous and “Christian” while she annually slaughters millions of innocent unborn babies through ABORTIONS, has abolished and made PRAYER, GOD and the BIBLE illegal in her public schools, and refuses to make fair and JUST TRADE AGREEMENTS with the developing nations of the World etc. etc.! Our clear-cut Biblical stand against other perverted modern trends such as HOMOSEXUALITY, so-called “WOMEN’S LIB” etc.–trends which are becoming more and more prominent and acceptable in modern Man’s twisted society–have also caused many to rise up and fight against us! Nevertheless, NONE of these forces have been able to STOP us to SATURATE the World with the Gospel of God’s Love, as well as our warnings against these anti-Christ evils of our day!

So is it any wonder that we have many jealous and hateful ENEMIES, that we are viciously PERSECUTED, that there are many who would like to do anything they could to DESTROY our work for the Lord entirely? Jesus Himself warned His followers, “Ye shall be HATED of ALL nations for My Name’s sake!” (Matthew 24:9) So why should anyone be surprised if a little persecution and opposition is raised by those whom we expose with the light of God’s Truth?

Jesus told us, “WOE unto you when ALL men shall speak WELL of you!–For so did their fathers of the FALSE prophets!” (Luke 6:26). In other words, if you’re always so POPULAR, and everyone is always thinking and speaking WELL of you, then something must be WRONG with you! This is why the Bible says that, “ALL who will live GODLY in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer PERSECUTION!” (2Timothy 3:12). If everything is always so smooth and you never have any problems or persecution, then you’re NOT living GODLY in Christ Jesus!

Of course, very few of our enemies ever give the REAL reasons WHY they persecute us. Just like JESUS’ enemies never told the Roman Governor, Pilate, the real reason why they sought to slay HIM! If they’d said, “This guy is EXPOSING us, BREAKING our TRADITIONS, and LIBERATING the people from OUR CONTROL!”, Pilate would have thrown the case out of court! So they LIED and leveled POLITICAL charges against Him: “We found this man SUBVERTING the NATION and OPPOSING payment of TAXES to Caesar, claiming that He Himself is a KING! If you release Him, YOU are not a friend of CAESAR!” (Luke 23:2; John 19:12) But despite their lies and their futile attacks against us, they will NEVER be able to stop us, even if they KILL us! We’ll keep on going and keep on winning souls and prospering and multiplying until Jesus returns, because that’s God’s plan! In fact, our enemies could even KILL any one of us or even a LOT of us, and our work would STILL go on, because the LORD is our Leader and they can’t beat HIM no matter how hard they try! “If this work were of MAN, it would come to NOTHING! But if it be of GOD, then NO man is able to stand against it! Lest they be found to be fighting against GOD!” (Acts 5:38,39).

NO ONE can stop our work for the Lord, and we will keep on witnessing His Truth to the World’s BILLIONS, and winning and loving MILLIONS into His Heavenly Kingdom until HE HIMSELF finally stops us for our VICTORY CELEBRATION in HEAVEN when He returns! Hallelujah! (Revelation 19)

But until THEN, we’ll keep on fighting evil and “going into all the World, preaching the Good News of His Love to every creature!” Until the END! Praise the Lord! Are you fighting EVIL or GOOD? Or GOD! Beware!

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

Slate Wiped Clean

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorYou were redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ.
—1 Peter 1:18–19 NIV

*

The expression, a clean slate, comes from a slate upon which a tavern’s daily bill of fare was written in soft chalk to be easily erased for a new day’s menu, and from a previous generation of schoolchildren who wrote their lessons or answers in chalk on a small slate—or chalkboard. The slate could easily be wiped clean and ready for another use. Since the mid-1800s the expression has been used figuratively to describe a fresh start, a new beginning without old baggage, or the act of wiping out old offences or debts.

The entire record of everything—unintended or unimagined—that ever was done by you that was unworthy and unholy is wiped clean when you invite Jesus into your life as Savior. (See John 3:16–17 NKJV) God’s forgiveness gives you a clean slate—a new, fresh start. …

Think of how wonderful that is. All the things that you cannot forget that you have done, let alone forgive yourself for ever doing, have been erased forever—once and for all—by the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, on a cross. The slate has been wiped clean; you are given a fresh start. A redemption that you could never have purchased yourself is freely afforded you in salvation. …

The Bible asks a rhetorical question whose answer is obvious and certain, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies! Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33–34 NIV) There is no accuser left standing for the truly redeemed. Here’s Paul’s description of your clean slate, “Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority and marched them naked through the streets.” (Colossians 2:14–15 The Message)

—Allen Randolph

 
Life and Tetris

I’m a fan of Tetris, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a tile-matching puzzle video game. The reason I like it is that I can plan it all out by looking at the pieces that will come up next, and as they come down, I can fit them all in place evenly and lower the stack. At least, that’s the idea.

Even better than that is solving the mistakes I make. Sometimes I plunk a piece down right in the wrong spot, then I have to figure out how to work around that mistake to get rid of the problem spot. It doesn’t always work out like that, though. I do great for the first few levels, but as things speed up and pieces are dropping faster and faster, I can’t control them as well anymore. Pieces end up in the wrong places, and the stack gets closer and closer to the top.

Soon enough, “GAME OVER” is blinking on the screen, and my excitement for the game is tinged with frustration.

Sometimes life can feel like that. We make one mistake after the next, and suddenly it seems like there is nothing we can do to fix things. Sometimes even our best plans end up in a mess, and no matter what we try or how we maneuver things, problems pile up and it feels like the game is over.

But the best thing about a game like Tetris is that there’s always a chance to play again. It doesn’t matter how many times you lose; you’ve always got a fresh start when you want it.

That’s what Jesus does for us. He knows we’re not perfect. He understands our limitations and weaknesses. He designed us, and He understands that we can’t “win” every time.

Jesus has promised to remove our mistakes and sins “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) That means they’re gone; we’ve got a clean slate and we can start over. And this doesn’t just apply to your spiritual life. No matter how well you try to plan out your life, there will come times when you’ll need to start all over.

Perhaps you’ve invested time in certain goals and suddenly things have changed. You’ve put a lot of time, thought, and energy into something you thought was the way to go, but now everything’s different and you’ve got to start from scratch. When that happens, it can be discouraging. All you can see is that big “GAME OVER” sign blinking in your mind.

But after the game is over, there’s always a chance to play again.

A clean slate is an awesome thing. It means the past is done and gone. When you start a new game of Tetris, it won’t refuse you the chance to play again if you’ve lost one too many times. It just gives you a fresh game, no questions asked. When Jesus gives you a clean slate, it’s really a clean slate. He’s not looking back at your past record of mistakes and failings. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

You’ve probably heard the saying “where there’s life, there’s hope.” That’s what I’m talking about here: as long as you’re alive and you keep “playing,” as long as you keep getting up and trying again, there’s always hope, there’s always a fresh start, and sooner or later you’re going to win.

Do you feel like your plans have gone up in smoke, and you don’t know how to start rebuilding? Or are you just discouraged because your first attempts have gone nowhere? Remember that you’ve always got a chance to start a new game. Jesus has a plan and a goal for your life, and He’ll use even the mistakes you make to bring you closer to that goal.

King Solomon tells us that a righteous man falls seven times and gets back up. (Proverbs 24:16) There’s no way around falling. It’s getting up and starting again that matters.

—Marie Story

 
Under construction

Every human being is under construction from conception to death. Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting, and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. At the end of construction—death—we have completed the process.

You formed my inward parts…
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought…
The days fashioned for me.
—Psalm 139:13, 15–16 NKJV

Death says, “This is the finality of accomplishment.” While we cannot add anything more to our experience, believers in Christ have the hope of hearing the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christian being “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Colossians 2:7 NKJV) This is part of our ongoing construction in this life. But the Bible assures us that “if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV) …

Life can be like traveling a treacherous road. There are potholes that jolt us, detours that get us off course, and signs warning of danger ahead. The destination of the soul and spirit is of utmost importance to God, so He offers us daily guidance. Some pay close attention to God’s directions; others ignore them and speed past the flashing lights. But everyone eventually arrives at the final destination: death’s door…

No one escapes life without difficulties. Some experience bad health even in their youth. Some born into wealth lose everything. Some seek love and find only rejection time and again. Without a firm foundation, life’s load is harder to bear.

God has a purpose for each of us, and He desires that we build upon Him, the very foundation He has put in place. Scripture speaks of craftsmen fastening the work of their hands with pegs “that it might not totter.” (Isaiah 41:7 NKJV) When Christ’s hands were pierced by spikes and fastened to the cross, He became our secure foundation.

—Billy Graham

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Building Spiritual Endurance

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. In your patience possess ye your souls.”
—Hebrews 10:36; Luke 21:19

As a part of our spiritual growth and Christian development, we inevitably experience the process of learning how to endure difficulties and delays. At different points in our lives, we may find ourselves having to get used to fighting more long-term battles. And in the process, we learn what it means to really hold on, not just for one day or one week or one month, but perhaps for many months or even years at a time. Through these experiences, we learn to truly cling to God’s Word and “endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)

We may not have had to learn such heavy lessons of patience and endurance before, and it may seem like a hard saying when these lessons come knocking at our door. In our personal battles and trials, in many cases we may have experienced shorter struggles with quick victories in answer to our prayers. We’ve seen lives changed and souls won so easily. We’ve finished projects and have gotten quick answers to our prayers. We’ve seen rapid healings.

However, we all will face times in life where we have to make up our minds that we may have extended periods of not seeing any evidence of victory or even improvement at all, times when, if anything, you may be feeling pretty rotten. There may be times when you won’t be able to go on your feelings at all, but will have to cling to the promises of His Word, that God still loves you and God still cares. He is expecting you to go on for Him, no matter what you feel like, and no matter how long you don’t feel like it. It may come down to having to learn to keep going even if you feel like you’re just going through the motions, just doing what you’re supposed to do because God says so in His Word.

The Word tells us, “Blessed is the man that endures temptation.” (James 1:12) “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:11) “Endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5 NKJV) “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience; and patience, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3–4 NKJV)

Knowing that God’s Word tells us that we are blessed when we endure can give us courage to keep on going in the face of seemingly hopeless situations. You may have to keep going even when it seems like everything has turned against you, believing that God will never fail in one of His good promises. You may have to choose to wait on the Lord and rest in Jesus’ arms with those unbreakable promises in your mind and heart, like many of the hymn writers expressed, who learned to endure. We have to ground our faith in His Word and trust that His purpose for each one of us will be fulfilled, as we continue to believe and trust in His promises.

You can’t look at faith the way that a lot of people look at marriages nowadays, “Oh well, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get a divorce.” You’ve got to be “fully persuaded” in your own mind and heart that God is able to do whatever He promises. (Romans 4:21) You’ve got to have the attitude of “to whom shall we go; no one else has the words of eternal life!” (John 6:68) If you have consecrated and dedicated yourself and have made that kind of a commitment to the Lord, then no matter how hard things get, you’ll keep going by His grace and keep living for the Lord in whatever way He has called you.

Should we cower and tremble and hide our faces at the prospect of enduring hardness? No! We should be challenged and excited at the wonderful things the Lord is going to do through us.

If you are worried or fearful of the future and its uncertainties, the secret lies in increasing your faith through His Word and the wonderful promises that the Lord has given. Even if you find yourself in a time of suffering or enduring hardship in this life, you can rejoice that it is your destiny and your calling to be victorious over it, whether in this life or the next! The thing you have to realize when you go through trying times is that as a Christian there is a purpose in everything you experience in your life.

We don’t have to fear! Although we may have lots of problems, at least we know there’s a good reason for it, a purpose behind it all. We understand that we are in a spiritual warfare, and that most of our problems are a result of that, and they ultimately teach us lessons and make us strong. So just the fact that we know that these trials have a valuable, eternal purpose makes it a lot easier for us to bear them.

We have God’s Word, we have prayer, we have the Lord’s promises, we have a vision, we have a purpose, we have Holy Spirit power, and we know God’s plan for the future and where we’re going after this life. We have a reason for patient endurance during times of tribulation.

As Christians, we should not only believe it but we should preach it, even when what we believe and practice and preach is in opposition to much of what the world believes and practices. We’re called to preach the gospel, in season and out of season. It’s our calling as Christians to stand up for what we believe, even when God’s truth is unpopular. How much better to suffer affliction now with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season. (Hebrews 11:25)

So let us rather “boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) He has promised that His grace will be sufficient!

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Why Evolution!

“The FOOL hath said in his heart,’There is no God’!” (Psalm 14:1)

By David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-why-evolution

It’s so ridiculous for Man to NOT believe in GOD!–Because Man can’t help but believe in God if he just looks at CREATION! If you’re not an absolute FOOL, if you have a reasoning mind at all, all you have to do is LOOK at the Creation to know SOMEBODY had to design it, PLAN it & FIGURE it out, because it’s all so beautiful, so orderly, & works so perfectly!

If you haven’t got enough sense to know that there is a GOD, just look at His CREATION! Just look at the sea, the sky, the clouds, the mountains, the valleys, the trees, the flowers, everything! They’re all virtually shouting, “There IS a God! Look what He MADE! Look what a beautiful World He made for you to live in!”

The greatest PROOF of the existence of GOD is His CREATION! And that’s why EVOLUTION is so DAMNABLE & Devil-inspired, because it tries to explain away Creation by saying that it just happened by ACCIDENT & that God had nothing to do with it, that it somehow just threw ITSELF together!

The Bible says that, “The INVISIBLE things of God from the Creation of the World are clearly SEEN, being understood by the things that are MADE.” (Romans 1:20). The existence of our invisible God is proven by His visible Creation!–It’s “clearly seen” through the beautiful World He made. That’s why the Scripture says that only “the FOOL hath said in his heart ‘There is no God’!” (Psalm 14:1). Only an absolute fool, an idiot, would actually believe in his heart that there is no God! Most people who CLAIM not to believe in Him really DO believe, but they’re in REBELLION against Him!

THAT’S why the World wants to reject Creation & say it’s all just a meaningless chaotic Evolution!–Because if the World & its inhabitants ARE God’s Creation, then they are HIS property.–And if they are HIS property, then HE’S the BOSS & they DON’T WANT God to be Boss! Therefore the Scripture says, “they do not LIKE to retain God in their knowledge.” (Romans 1:28).

“Because, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, but became VAIN in their IMAGINATIONS, & their foolish heart was DARKENED. Although they claimed to be wise, they became FOOLS!” They got so smart they thought they could do without God, so they became what?–Absolute FOOLS, who “changed the glory of the immortal God into an image like to that of corruptible MAN, & BIRDS, & four-footed BEASTS, & REPTILES! Who changed the truth of God into a LIE, & worshipped the CREATURE more than the Creator!” (Romans 1:21-25).

So WHY did the Devil & Man COOK up this ridiculous, idiotic scheme of evolution? To try to get rid of God & the knowledge of God, “as they did NOT like to retain God in their education!” (Romans 1:28). And since they threw God & Creation & the Bible out, they HAD to cook up something new! They didn’t want the TRUTH, so they figured out a BIG LIE! EVIL EVOLUTION!

Dr. Robert A. Millikan, the great atomic physicist who pioneered the splitting of the atom, said, “If you’d say that a watch just put ITSELF together, invented itself, you’d be crazy! And just as there had to be a WATCHMAKER behind the synchronised perfection & order of every WATCH, so there had to be a CREATOR behind the synchronised PERFECTION of the Universe!”

There is NO PROOF for evolution! It has to be BELIEVED, therefore it’s a RELIGION! Even the founding father of this false faith, CHARLES DARWIN himself, confessed that “the BELIEF (note the emphasis on belief) in Evolution must at present be grounded entirely on general considerations. When we descend to details, we can prove that NO one species has changed, NOR can we prove that the supposed changes are BENEFICIAL, which is the GROUNDWORK of the THEORY.” Ha!

The very first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the RIGHT Book says, “In the beginning, GOD created the Heavens & the Earth!” (Genesis 1:1). Now either you believe that, what GOD’S Book says, or you’re going to have to believe what some LIAR says instead!

“And GOD created Man in His Own image, He created him in the image of God; He created them male & female.” (Genesis 1:27). And God formed Man out of what?–Previous forms?–Apes?–Beasts? “And God formed Man of the DUST of the GROUND, & breathed into his nostrils the BREATH of LIFE; & Man became a living soul!” (Genesis 2:7). This is the TRUTH of GOD’S Word!

CREATION is the basic FOUNDATION of the entire Bible! If you DON’T believe THIS, you won’t believe ANYTHING! Because when you doubt ONE word of the Bible, you’ll soon doubt the WHOLE thing! Jesus said, “Had you believed MOSES, you would have believed ME! But if you believe not HIS writings, how shall you believe MY Words?” (John 5:46,47). Now, what’s the FIRST of Moses’ writings, upon which all of his writings are based?–GENESIS! All about Creation!

If they had believed GENESIS, all about Creation, then they would have accepted JESUS CHRIST as their Saviour! So what did the Devil do to try to prevent people from believing in Jesus? He tried to destroy their belief in the writings of Moses, & in the book of GENESIS in particular, the story of the glorious Creation! And how did the Devil do that? By what big lie?

EVOLUTION! That was his greatest lie & most diabolically clever piece of teaching! EVOLUTION! As ridiculous & idiotic as anything you could possibly study, because it has NO foundation in FACT whatsoever; there’s NO evidence for it; no discovery has been made to prove it! It’s just a bunch of GARBAGE & ROT!

But even garbage doesn’t stink as bad as the lies of Evolution, of which the Bible warns, “BEWARE of the LIES of SCIENCE FALSELY SO-CALLED! For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They shall turn AWAY their ears from the TRUTH, & shall be turned unto FABLES!” (1Timothy 6:20; 2Timothy 4:3,4). This time has COME & these days are HERE, & their ears HAVE turned from the truth & are turned to fables! Like EVOLUTION! Don’t let the Devil & his Evolutionists fool you! Stand up for JESUS and His TRUTH TODAY! God bless you!

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

How to Become a Hero

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorI can remember reading The Hiding Place (the story of Corrie ten Boom, a woman who risked her life to save Jews during World War II) and desperately praying that I would have Corrie’s courage and self-sacrifice when I’m eventually confronted with a time that requires it.

How does one become such a person? Jonathan Parnell has some thoughts about this on the Desiring God Blog, where he writes about Jon Meis, a young man who risked his life to save his fellow students during the shooting at Seattle Pacific University:

The person who’d be willing to put the good of others before himself in the event of great loss is the one who puts the good of others before himself in the hundred events of little losses every day. “We are always becoming,” as Joe Rigney puts it, “who we will be. Right this minute, we are headed somewhere, and sooner or later, we are bound to end up there” (Live like a Narnian, 52).

The person of great sacrifice, therefore, must be the person of little sacrifices—the person who has discovered that the life of sacrificial love is the life of greatest joy. The response of sacrificial love in the midst of panic is the end of a trajectory that gets played out as sacrificial love in the midst of normalcy….

The big moment of courageous action doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but has behind it tiny moments of simple sacrifice that have been trending that direction all along. In other words, if we can’t wash dishes and change diapers, we shouldn’t kid ourselves with the idea that we’d step in front of a bullet. If we are stingy with our time and money toward those in need, we’ll be stingy with our lives when a gun gets pulled on innocent people.

Stories like Jon’s should make us pause and ask whether we’d respond like he did. But the question isn’t what we’d do in a particular situation; it’s about what we’re doing now.

We won’t truly know who we’ve become until we’ve been tested. Until then, pray the Holy Spirit enables us to give up our lives in the everyday moments. “The person of great sacrifice must be the person of little sacrifices.” Now is the time to practice dying by His power, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43–45)

—Amy K. Hall

 
The heart of a hero

I remember memorizing Hebrews 11 as a child, which detailed quite a few gruesome ways to die: “They were stoned; they were [sawn] in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and [in] mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:37–38 NIV)

It made me wonder how much it hurt to die. I knew that I was quite a pansy when it came to pain, so I tried to figure out, if one had to die, what would be the least painful way to go—as I’d opt for that. You see, I really didn’t want to disgrace God by being a total wimp.

Today I can look back at my childhood worries with amusement. I realize now that the real issue was that I’ve always felt lacking in courage. In the Bible there are countless stories of men who did courageous things. Open to almost any book and you read of brave deeds galore. Again, Hebrews 11 lists many of these courageous folk. “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32–34 NIV)

Looking at the brave men listed in this chapter, the origins of the word “courage” take on greater meaning—their hearts were in the right place. These men who did such courageous things had something wonderful in common—which was the source of their courage. In Psalm 37:31 King David says this about a righteous man, “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.”

There’s the famous Bible account of three Hebrew boys who were told to either worship a golden image or be thrown into a furnace. But, no, these boys stand there and they say they’re not going to bow down. This is what they probably thought were their last words in response to an angry king:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold[en] statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16–18 NLT)

I read this account in the safety of my house, separated from this scene by thousands of years—but still the strength of their belief is loud in their words; there isn’t any faltering or trying to negotiate something less mortally dangerous for themselves. But to have the courage to face an experience like this, I think you have to go back a bit. You see, I don’t think their parents ever told them, “You know, one day you’re going to be brought before a scary king, and there’s going to be a furnace, and you’re going to choose between your life or worshipping an idol—when that happens, remember to choose the furnace.”

Instead, I think they told these boys something more along the lines of, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV) And, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

I doubt that the parents of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what lay in store for them, or when and how they might be faced with needing to act courageously. But there is one thing they knew they could control—what was stored up in their children’s hearts. Proverbs 4:23 explains this concept well: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The New Living Translation has translated this same verse into these words: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Everyone loves a good hero story; the ones with the good guys in capes and tights are a particular favorite of mine. The thing is, in real life, you don’t get to decide whether you will have the opportunity for a huge heroic moment—if you get to rescue someone, or somehow or another save the day—but what you do have control over is what you put in your heart. That’s how you can be prepared for these larger-than-life moments, as well as those everyday moments that require courage.

—T. M.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.