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.

Activated

Feeling Close to Jesus

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-activated-feeling-close-to-jesus

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

If we rely on our feelings as an indicator of how we’re doing spiritually, we’re going to be unstable. We’ll be tossed to and fro by the various feelings that happen to come along, and we’ll never be able to anticipate how we’re going to be doing tomorrow, because that would be determined by how we feel when we get up in the morning.

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

 
Walking by feelings invites discouragement

If you’re operating according to your feelings, you might be feeling terrible a lot of the time because there’s a lot of negative in the world today, not to mention the lies and doubts of the devil! When you are flooded with negative thoughts, you can begin to think you’re a failure or a hopeless case, until you end up totally defeated, discouraged, and in despair. Then it’s easy to think negative thoughts such as, I certainly am not close to Jesus! In fact, He must not love me, because look how terrible I feel!

When you’re relying on your feelings, your emotions can wreak havoc and make you feel very far from God. When you’re walking by sight (See 2 Corinthians 5:7) instead of faith, you’re more vulnerable to doubt. When besieged with such doubts, you’ve got to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and resist the devil and his lies. (See James 4:7)

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

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

Some people are able to enjoy things like that, whereas others of us can’t. Some of us are much more emotional and “feely” than others. But if I allowed myself to be worried just because I don’t feel a big emotional closeness to Jesus, I’d be constantly down! I just have to take things by faith. There aren’t too many verses in the Bible about feelings, but there are a lot about faith and trusting God and believing His Word.

You can know if you’re close to Jesus because His Word promises that if you “draw nigh to God … He will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8) Even if you can’t feel any closeness at all, you can know you are close to Him if you’re doing your best to draw close to Him and to love and please Him.

 
What if you’ve made mistakes?

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

If you sincerely want to please Jesus, He will certainly “draw nigh unto you” when you call out to Him. The Bible promises, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth,” (Psalm 145:18) and “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

So regardless of any feelings of discouragement, guilt, or remorse that you may be experiencing, if you know you’re truly seeking to love and please Jesus and follow His Word, then you can trust that you are close to Him—whether you happen to feel that way or not!

In fact, sometimes people are the closest to Jesus when they feel the furthest from Him. For example, when we’re humbled by our own mistakes and shortcomings, we don’t usually feel so inspired or close to God, but we may actually be very close to Him. There are also times when some people may feel that they are very close to Him when in fact they may not be close to Him at all—particularly if they’re trusting in their own works or goodness instead of His goodness, grace, and mercy.

Sometimes we feel bad because God is speaking to our hearts, convicting us of a sin, or trying to warn us about something. So when we’re feeling bad, we should examine our hearts and actions to find out why we’re feeling that way or what God may be trying to show us. (See 2 Corinthians 13:5)

 
The key to closeness

How do you know if you’re close to Jesus? How do you get close to Him? You do that by reading and following His Word. Jesus promised, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) So if you’re loving Him and keeping His Word, then of course you’re close to Him. He’s made His home in your heart, and that’s pretty close! It’s as simple as that.

*

 
Being close to Jesus

We may sometimes experience certain thrills of the spirit—the spiritual high of helping someone find Jesus, or when God’s Word has spoken loudly and clearly to us—which are a token of God’s love and a special encouragement from Him. But we can’t expect those feelings, and we shouldn’t get discouraged or feel that something is wrong with us or our connection with the Lord if they don’t happen.

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

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

What we want is to be close to Jesus! If you happen to feel close to Him, be thankful. But if you don’t happen to feel close to Jesus, don’t be discouraged. And remember, you can know you are close to Jesus if you love Him and are trying your best to please Him.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Anchor

The Hope of Glory

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorTherefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
—Romans 5:1–2 NIV

*

[T]here is the hope of the glory of God. This is a definite anticipation of sharing God’s future glory. The word “hope” in English is rather weak. To “hope” means to want something without certainty. But the Greek word underlying it, elpis, means a conviction.

Christian hope is not a hopeful wish—it is a hope-filled certainty. … The more we experience our peace and access with the Father, the more desirous we are to see him face to face, and the more certain and thrilled we become about the prospect of glory and heaven.

By itself, “heaven” can be an abstract and unappetizing idea. But if you come to taste “access” with God and realize how intoxicating it is just to have a couple of drops of his presence on your tongue, you will desire to drink from the fountainhead. That desire, focus, and joyous certainty of the future is called the “hope of glory.”

In Christ, we have been freed from our past (our old record of rebellion and sin is put away and we have peace with God); we are free in the present to enjoy personal relationship with God; and we will one day most certainly experience the freedom of life lived in the full, awesome presence of God’s glory.

—Timothy Keller

*

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
—Colossians 1:27 NIV

 
It’s not in you

The crux of the matter is this: You can’t do it yourself. You just have to turn your life, your mind, your heart, everything over to the Lord and let Him do it. When people finally get to that point where they just give up and let go and let God, then God has a chance to step in and do it. He wants to do it and He wants to show you that you can’t do it, and He wants the glory.

This is what it’s all about; it’s all for the glory of God. Of course you can’t do it. You can’t save yourself, you can’t live a Christian life, you can’t be good, you can’t do anything without Jesus! He Himself said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Let’s face it, every one of us is a hell of a mess, and if we don’t keep our eyes on the Lord and our mind on His Word, we’re doomed to defeat, doubt, disillusionment, and final failure. None of us can stand the sight of ourselves. We’re a mess and nothing without the Lord, and only He can do it, if we’ll just yield to Him.

When Peter started looking at himself, he started to sink (Matthew 14:28–31). It was no use. If you start looking at yourself, you’re going to sink. You have to keep your eyes on Jesus.

You are never going to make it, but God will make it in you. “For it is God which worketh in you, to will and to do of His good pleasure. For ye are dead, and it is Christ which liveth in you, the hope of glory.” (Philippians 2:13; Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27) That’s what it’s all about. “For where sin doth abound, grace doth much more abound.” (Romans 5:20)

It’s all got to be a miracle of the grace of God. Your work for the Lord, your daily tasks for the Lord, your thoughts and your love for Him and for others and unselfishness and sacrifice and a life of service, all of it is a miracle of God. It’s God’s work.

God doesn’t expect you to do it. All He expects you to do is trust, obey, and yield, then He’ll do it through you. If you come to the end of yourself, that’s when God has a chance to take over and do things to suit Himself. This is why I’ve found that it’s a lot better to think you’re worse than you are than to think you’re better than you are. “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Galatians 6:3)

It’s better that we be weak in ourselves so that He can be strong in us. “For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) The weaker we are in our own strength, the more it shows His power, His excellency, and His strength in such weak vessels. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

—David Brandt Berg

*

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

—Edward Mote, 1834

 
One way to glory

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
—Ephesians 1:18 NLT

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Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Mohammed, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. But Jesus refuses to share the page. He declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 RSV) He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, “I know the way,” or “I show the way.” Yet, he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: I am the way.

His followers refused to soften or shift the spotlight. Peter announced: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NLT) Many recoil at such definitiveness. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds. The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion. All roads lead to heaven, right? But can they? The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate? Can all approaches to God be correct?

Islam says Jesus was not crucified. Christians say he was. Both can’t be right.

Judaism refuses the claim of Christ as the Messiah. Christians accept it. Someone’s making a mistake.

Buddhists look toward Nirvana, achieved after no less than 547 reincarnations. Christians believe in one life, one death, and an eternity of enjoying God. Doesn’t one view exclude the other?

Humanists do not acknowledge a creator of life. Jesus claims to be the source of life. One of the two speaks folly.

Spiritists read your palms. Christians consult the Bible.

Hindus perceive a plural and impersonal God. Christ-followers believe “there is only one God.” (1 Corinthians 8:4 NLT) Somebody is wrong.

And, most supremely, every non-Christian religion says, “You can save you.” Jesus says, “My death on the cross saves you.”

How can all religions lead to God when they are so different? We don’t tolerate such illogic in other matters. We don’t pretend that all roads lead to London or all ships sail to Australia. All flights don’t land in Rome. Imagine your response to a travel agent who claims they do. You tell him you need a flight to Rome, Italy, so he looks on his screen. “Well, there is a flight to Sydney, Australia, departing at 6:00 a.m.”

“Does it go to Rome?”

“No, but it offers wonderful in-flight dining and movies.”

“But I need to go to Rome.”

“Then let me suggest Southwest Airlines.”

“Southwest Airlines flies to Rome?”

“No, but they have consistently won awards for on-time arrivals.”

You’re growing frustrated. “I need one airline to carry me to one place: Rome.”

The agent appears offended. “Sir, all flights go to Rome.”

You know better. Different flights have different destinations. That’s not a thick-headed conclusion but an honest one. Every flight does not go to Rome. Every path does not lead to God. Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner. We enter his way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds. He offers a unique-to-him invitation in which he works and we trust, he dies and we live, he invites and we believe.

—Max Lucado

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

Positively Positive

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchorIn this post‚ I’m going to address a subject that touches each of our lives at some point—negativity, and how to rid our lives of it and replace it with positiveness and praise!

If you struggle with negative thinking, chances are it has become a habit for you. So breaking this habit and replacing your thought patterns with the positive will require determination, willpower, and effort on your part. It will take work to train yourself to think on the positive.

If you’ve been negative about yourself or your circumstances in the past, you can turn over a new leaf in your life and ask the Lord to transform you into someone who is praiseful and positive and able to influence others’ lives for the better. What was once your weakness can become your strength! The Lord can change your heart‚ your mind, your desires‚ your very nature, if you’ll just give it all to Him. That’s what it takes—ask Him to transform your life, and He will.

The power of praise and positiveness is contagious. So let’s all be carriers!

I hope the following words from Jesus are an encouragement and blessing to you.

 
Positive anything is better than negative nothing

There is a rule of thumb that is helpful to remember in fighting negativity: Positive anything is better than negative nothing. Anything you do that is positive is going to be better than what comes from giving place to negativity. Take the word “negative” and overwrite it with the word “positive.” They have the same number of letters, but the results of putting them into action are worlds apart.

Negative thinking in someone’s life can be devastating. It robs that individual of the potential that I have created within them. Negative thinking is really just old-fashioned pessimism. It is manifested in different ways and in varying degrees in different people, but the result is the same. Negativity hinders the fulfillment of My good purposes in people’s lives.

A negative outlook on life is so different from the optimistic‚ positive outlook that I wish for My children to have. It is the antithesis of faith. Faith is seeing the good and possibilities that others cannot see. Faith grows as you use it. Faith believes even when circumstances and conditions point to the opposite. Faith stands no matter what. Faith continues on even when something negative happens in your life.

So many people want to do great things. So many people dream of being a person who changes the world through some great work written, a great deed of courage performed‚ or great acts of compassion rendered to those in need. But the negative feeling of “I just can’t do it” robs people of the chance to make good on their dreams and the courage to step out and try for fear that their attempts will fail.

Negative thinking cripples a person’s life to one degree or another. It robs people of the opportunity to live up to their full potential and to achieve their greatest desires and aims. It can bring depression and other mental disorders, and that in turn can lead to physical disorders.

I call My children to rise above negative thinking. The it-can’t-be-done attitude hits at the very core of My children’s faith, that they can do all things through Me and that nothing is impossible for Me. (Philippians 4:13; Mark 10:27)

There is so much to be positive about! If My children lack self-esteem‚ they have only to remind themselves that I, the Son of God, died for them. They are so valuable in My sight‚ and in My Father’s sight, that I took on human form and suffered torture and humiliation to die for them.

When you are tempted to doubt your self-worth and value, take some time to ponder on that truth.

Negative thinking takes away the wonderful joy and feeling of usefulness that I wish to give you. Some of My poor children have this negative thinking so ingrained in them that they walk about as half the women and men of God that they could be.

So make a conscious effort to think positively as you focus on Me; think positively about yourself, and also think positively about others. Have faith in Me and in My Word‚ and faith in yourselves, that I knew what I was doing when I chose you to be My follower. Live up to your full potential. Look up‚ for your redemption draweth nigh!

 
Tips for victory

If you’re a chronic negative thinker, chances are you’ve already exhausted your resources in trying to change, so now it’s time to step back and let Me do it for, with, and through you—My way. I may tell you to do something that will initially seem illogical to you, but once you take the plunge and follow through, you’ll find that it’s that very path that leads you to victory.

There are many steps you can take that will get you going in the right direction, and later on, help you to stay on that path, such as:

  • Spend time in My Word, strengthening your faith and enjoying My Presence.
  • Set goals—little ones at first—and then celebrate when you reach them. Even if your first goals are small, and all you can do is stay positive and praising Me one day at a time, that’s progress, and progress is worth celebrating! Choose something beforehand that you like to do, and decide that you will do that once you’ve reached your first goal.
  • Keep a log. Start a special file or notebook where you keep records of your progress—everything from the day you first decided to take a renewed stand against negative thinking, to your first goals, when you reached them‚ your next goals, praise quotes and promises that help you, etc. That will encourage you to keep striving for even greater victories.
  • Ask Me for a plan of how you can actively reach out to help and encourage others, and go out of your way each day to make at least one person’s day better. There’s nothing that will lift you more and bring on positiveness than when you’re actively brightening someone else’s day. Happiness thrives when you’re not thinking only about yourself.
  • Set a daily time to praise Me. Take this time to specifically turn all your worries, burdens, cares, and fears into praises. Even if you’re having a difficult day, you can still praise and thank Me for the good things.

 
Rising above

Your life will never be perfect. Things will never be exactly as you want them to be. There will always be disappointments that come your way. Don’t let the chain reaction of discouragement set in. One thought of discouragement can lead to two, then three, and then more. Pretty soon you feel as if you’re surrounded by a haze of discouragement, that dark clouds are overhead and there are no blue, sunny skies at all anymore. Many times you do have a “right” to be discouraged, but that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged!

Feelings such as discouragement and negativity are natural, inborn reactions to things that happen—difficult situations or things that go wrong. These kinds of reactions are part of the nature of man.

That’s why rising above difficulties is a supernatural reaction. When something goes wrong, or you feel unloved or unneeded, or whatever the particular battle is, it’s human nature to get discouraged. But what you want to do is will yourself into rising above these natural responses by making the decision to surrender fully to the power of My Spirit.

Victory and happiness don’t come because everything in your life is free from troubles or problems. You’re happiest when you choose not to allow the things of this earth to get you down, when you choose to rise above.

Will you allow disappointments or difficulties to make you negative and discouraged, or are you going to say, “Praise God!” and then go on to walk in the positive lane? It takes a conscious decision to walk in the positive lane, to make room for positiveness and the gifts of My Spirit that give you the power to rise above.

Make a continual and consistent effort to fill your mind, heart, soul and spirit, and even your body—your eyes, your ears, and your mouth—with fervent, sincere, and liberating praise to Me. Praise Me even through the tough times. As you sing songs of praise to Me, you make room for victory.

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

Let God Engineer

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorOswald Chambers coined one of my favorite mantras: “Let God engineer.” Those three words captured his trust in the overarching sovereignty of God. And it’s that kind of trust that gives us a holy confidence.

Most of our emotional problems are symptoms of one deep-rooted spiritual problem: lack of trust in the sovereign God. It’s our lack of trust in Him that results in high levels of past-tense guilt, present-tense stress, and future-tense anxiety. And if we allow it to, that three-headed monster will deplete every ounce of holy confidence we possess until we lose our sense of destiny.

Many of us find our confidence in the things we can control, but it’s a false sense of confidence. Holy confidence isn’t circumstantial. It’s providential. Too often we allow our circumstances to get between God and us. Holy confidence puts God between us and our circumstances. And when we do that, the Almighty One dwarfs the giants in our lives.

Let’s face it: we are control freaks. We want to control our circumstances. We want to control others. And ultimately we want to control God Himself. We do this in the name of sanctification, but it’s pseudo-sanctification. It’s nothing more, or maybe I should say nothing less, than a futile attempt at self-help. Lack of trust is more than refusing God’s help. It’s a prideful attempt to help God by doing His job for Him. We play God by trying to control everyone, everything. But God hasn’t called us to be God. He’s called us to be ourselves. And our control issues are really trust issues. The less we trust God, the more we have to control.

Nothing is more spiritually, emotionally, or relationally exhausting than pretending you hold the planets in orbit. And the flip side is true as well. The greatest freedom in the world is relinquishing control and submitting your life to the Sovereign One.

—Mark Batterson

 
Getting there

“Come ye after Me.”
—Mark 1:17

One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of temperament. We make our temperament and our natural affinities barriers to coming to Jesus. The first thing we realize when we come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatever to our natural affinities. We have the notion that we can consecrate our gifts to God. You cannot consecrate what is not yours; there is only one thing you can consecrate to God, and that is your right to yourself (Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you. God’s experiments always succeed.

The one mark of a saint is the moral originality which springs from abandonment to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water springing up, perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus. Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.

If you abandon to Jesus, and come when He says “Come,” He will continue to say “Come” through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned and come to Jesus.

—Oswald Chambers

 
God’s chess game

When the God of the chess board picks up a chess piece and moves it to a new square, the chess piece doesn’t argue about it. It doesn’t protest; it doesn’t try to keep the Chess Player from doing it. It doesn’t say, “No, I don’t want to go to that space. I’d like to stay here. No, I want to go to that space over there. No, I’m a knight and I don’t want to hop this piece. I want to hop that piece over there.”

The pieces don’t argue with their Maker and Creator or their player; they yield and settle where He places them, and go where He sends them. Do you believe that? Well, then why worry? You’re in His hands! Think about this when you’re tempted to be anxious and worry about the future. Why worry? You’re in the hands of the Master Player, and if you let Him, He’s going to place you where He wants you to be, and you should trust your heavenly Father that He has your best interests in mind. God just has to move you or circumstances in your life around to position you where He needs you the most at any given time.

Throughout my life, I’ve served Him in all kinds of ways. You couldn’t imagine how many. I have just gone wherever His hand moved me, to whatever square He wanted me to go, and I have tried to be the piece He wanted me to be.

How many times have I made a decision to do something and the Lord stopped me? It’s really embarrassing! I wanted to do a lot of things I didn’t get to do. I wanted to go a lot of places I didn’t get to go. We’ve planned to make even more trips than we have. One of these last times God stopped me and gave me something much better and more important to do, that ended up reaching many more people. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

We ought to thank God for all the mistakes we don’t make! Why don’t you thank God for all the mistakes you don’t make instead of bemoaning the mistakes you do make, and saying, “Why did You let me do this, Lord? Why didn’t You stop me?” Maybe He wanted you to learn the lesson that the most important decision you have to make is to be yielded to the Master of the chess board. You can choose not to be yielded. You’re a free moral agent. It’s a free country. It’s your choice whether to place your life in the hands of the Grand Chess Master, and if you choose not to, you can do so.

Why not choose to place your life in His hands? You have chosen to follow and serve the Lord, and to seek God’s will for your plans and your future. He is the Master Chess Player, and you can trust that whatever moves He makes in your life, He will cause all things to work together for your good.

—David Brandt Berg

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

The Hope of Heaven

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorI am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.
—Jesus, John 11:25–26 KJV

*

When you suffer unjustly, hold on to your faith, lest the sadness of the world settle on your heart. The assurance of a better world to come will see you through even the darkest days.

Keep your eyes on your eternal home in heaven—that wonderful place where you will be reunited with those you love and where all will be love, light, joy, and happiness. You will know then that it was worth it all, for on that day the pain will be erased.

If it’s hard for you to have that kind of faith, ask Me to help you see things as I do. Ask Me to show you what I have in store for you and your loved ones in heaven, and I will. I do this so that you may be encouraged and find the strength to bear the troubles of the present. I am not able to reveal all that I have prepared for you, but I can reveal some of it to you now (1 Corinthians 2:9–10). Keep your eyes on heaven, and the troubles of this present world will seem small by comparison—and they are.

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

*

The movie Amistad tells the story of a group of African slaves who seize control of their slave ship and demand to be returned to their homeland. The captain instead takes them to an American seaport where they are imprisoned.

As they await the judge’s verdict one of the men, Yamba, sits in a corner of the prison cell thumbing through the pages of a Bible.

Cinque, the leader of the group, looks over and says, “You don’t have to pretend to be interested in that. Nobody’s watching but me.”

After a brief moment Yamba looks up. “I’m not pretending. I’m beginning to understand it,” he says. He cannot read the writing—English is foreign to him—but he can make sense of the pictures.

When Cinque comes over to see for himself Yamba explains the story in their native language. “Their people have suffered more than ours,” he says. Showing Cinque a picture of Jews being attacked by lions, he continues, “Their lives were full of suffering.”

Then Yamba flips the page and points to a picture of the baby Jesus, crowned with a halo of light, “Then he was born and everything changed.”

Cinque asks, “Who is he?”

Yamba replies that he doesn’t know, but that the child must be special. He moves through the pictures of Jesus. He points to a picture of Jesus riding on a donkey, praised by onlookers. A golden orb forms a halo around Jesus. “Everywhere he goes,” says Yamba, “he is followed by the sun.”

Picture after picture, the same theme emerges. Light surrounds Jesus as he heals people with his hands, as he protects an outcast woman, as he embraces children.

But this is not the end of the story. “Something happened,” says Yamba. “He was captured, accused of some crime.”

Cinque shakes his head back and forth and insists, “He must have done something.”

Yamba says, “Why? What did we do? … Do you want to see how they killed him?”

Yamba is now getting very emotional. Cinque reminds him, “This is just a story, Yamba.”

Yamba shakes his head in protest. This man’s death was real. “But look,” he says, “that’s not the end of it. His people took his body down from…” Yamba pauses and draws a cross in the air.

“They took him into a cave. They wrapped him in cloth, like we do. They thought he was dead, but he appeared before his people again … and he spoke to them. Then, finally, he rose into the sky.”

“This is where the soul goes when you die here. This is where we’re going when they kill us.” Stroking a picture that depicts heaven, Yamba concludes, “It doesn’t look so bad.”

—From storiesforpreaching.com

(Note: If you wish to watch this portion of the movie, check this YouTube clip.)

*

As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
—1 Corinthians 2:9–10 KJV

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The same God who loves us enough to create us, this life, the universe, and heaven has made it very easy for each of us to be assured of a place there. It is best summed up in a very simple, but very important verse from the Bible: “For God so loved the world [each of us], that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

God loves each of us in a very special way. He knows that the only way we’re going to be truly happy and personally fulfilled is to live with Him forever. To make this possible, He sent His Son, Jesus, to show us how to live and love, and to die for us. Jesus is the bridge between this life and heaven.

And don’t ever think that you are too “bad” to go to heaven. God knows everything you have ever done or said or even thought, and He still loves you unconditionally. Heaven is full of sinners—that is, people who have done bad things, but asked God for His forgiveness. All He wants you to do is to tell Him you’re sorry and invite Him into your life.

You can know for sure that you’re going to heaven. If you wish, you can sincerely pray this simple prayer: “Jesus, I want to know You and to live forever in heaven. I know I’ve made mistakes and done bad things—and I’m sorry. I know I don’t deserve it, but I accept Your love and ask that I can be with You in heaven. Please come into my life and help me, and give me peace.”

God has promised to answer your prayer, so you now have a home in heaven! God bless you with a wonderful, fulfilling eternity! See you there!

—Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

 
 

Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Anchor

Three-in-One Relationship

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSince the Trinity doctrine is so crucial for Christians, and since it is so often distorted or misunderstood by various critics, it is important for believers to be able to define this basic Christian doctrine. Even though the Trinity doctrine is not fully comprehensible to the finite human mind, what Christians believe about the doctrine is clear and distinct in the church’s creeds and statements of faith. The truth of this doctrine, however, can only be clearly and cogently communicated if believers take seriously their responsibility to study and show themselves approved. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Too many Christians, living as functional Unitarians (Unitarians maintain that God is one being, rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity), fail to recognize the Trinity’s relevance to their Christian faith and life. The Trinity doctrine is crucial because it reveals What and Who God is (one God in three persons), and this insight allows Christians, though in an obviously limited way, to view the inner working of God’s nature and personhood.

Furthermore, the Trinity doctrine brings together in a coherent manner the great truths about God’s historical, redemptive actions (completed in and through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). For example, (1) the Father (the first person of the Trinity) sends the Son into the world to offer a propitiatory sacrifice on the cross; that is, a sacrifice that both appeases the Father’s just wrath against sin and extends the Father’s love and mercy by allowing repentant sinners to escape divine judgment. (2) The Incarnate Son (the second person of the Trinity) is able to provide this atonement because he is both God and man. The God-man conquers death, sin, and hell through his glorious resurrection from the dead. (3) The Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) is directly responsible for the repentant sinner’s new birth in Christ through regeneration, and the believer’s life journey of sanctification. The three divine members of the Trinity make the entire plan of redemption possible.

Redemption, therefore, in historic Christianity is initiated by the Father (Galatians 4:4), accomplished through the Son (1 Peter 3:18), and is applied by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). The doctrine of the Trinity is important because there is no salvation apart from the Triune God. And the more we reflect upon God’s Triune nature, the more we can learn to love and appreciate God for Who and What he truly has revealed himself to be.

—Kenneth Samples

 
God in three persons

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same in their being as God; they are equally God, each possessing all the attributes of God. One is not more God, or more powerful, or more wise, than the other. If one were, then they wouldn’t be equally God, which would deny the truth of the Trinity.

While they are all equally God and there is no difference in their being, there is a difference in their relationship to one another. There is a specific arrangement in their relationship within the Trinity. The Father is unique in the way He relates to the others as Father. The Son is unique in the way He relates as Son. And the Holy Spirit is unique in relating to the Father and the Son as the Holy Spirit. The difference in persons is one of relationship, not one of being. The Father is always the Father, the Son is always the Son, and the Holy Spirit is always the Holy Spirit.

The relationship of the Son to the Father is always as Son. The Father is not begotten by the Son, and He does not proceed from the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The relationship of the Son to the Father is such that the Father directs and the Son obeys and is responsive to the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit responds to the directives of both the Father and the Son. They all are exactly the same in being, essence and nature; they are all fully and completely God, but they are different in relationship and in their roles.

In the way of analogy, this could be looked at as two football players who are (a) both human and (b) both football players on the same team but who play different positions. They are both human, so they have the same essence; they are both equally human. On the team, though, one may be the quarterback who calls the plays, and the other has a different position and thus a different job on the team. His position on the team means that he obeys the plays the quarterback determines. He obeys the quarterback because the position he holds requires him to follow the quarterback’s instructions, but in essence there is no subordination. This is similar to the Trinity; it’s like a team, and they each have their roles to play, but they are all equally God in essence.

The begetting of the Son and the proceeding of the Holy Spirit happen in eternity. There was never a time when the Son wasn’t begotten, nor that the Spirit didn’t proceed. The Father would not have been eternally Father without the eternal Son. This generation of God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, is not something we can fully comprehend. It is part of the mystery of the Trinity, something beyond our full comprehension, considering that we are material creatures living in time and space, and God is the eternal Creator who is the source of everything. While we can understand the concept, the mechanics of it are a mystery.

—Peter Amsterdam

 
Three-in-one redemption

Who was God loving before He created the world? Who was God speaking to before He created the world? If love is the heart of existence, and God is love, it is within the Trinity itself that we hunger for relationship. You hunger for relationship, I hunger for relationship, and existentially it is revealed in the Trinity itself where the Father loves the Son, where the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit. There must be relationship in the First Cause in order to explain it in the effect.—If God or Allah is a monad, there is no foundation for relationship, no community in the First Cause. For God to have no lack in relationship, to have no lack of love or the expression of it, He must exist, from eternity, as a being in community. Is it one and three? No. It is one in one sense, three in another—it’s not a mathematical issue, it is the very nature of being, unity and diversity in the community of the Trinity. There is both majesty and mystery.
—Ravi Zacharias

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The Bible teaches that God is one being and three persons. This is not a contradiction, because ‘being’ and ‘person’ are two different things. Your being is that which makes you what you are; your person is that which makes you who you are. For instance, I am one being, a human being, and one person, Nabeel Qureshi. Yahweh is one being, God, with three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Complex? Yes. Unique? Yes. Nonsensical? No.
—Nabeel Qureshi

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Personal relationships did not come into existence when God created finite personal beings (angels and humans). Relationship has always existed in this triune divine family. Christians should not think of God apart from His self-revelation as true, and this should inform us in our worship of God and in our life in the world. Unlike many philosophical conceptions of God as “wholly Other,” an “Unmoved Mover,” “First Cause,” or the “Ground of all being,” the Christian understanding rejects such nonrelational abstractions in favor of a God who is personal, intrinsically relational, and history engaging. This tri-personal God, though “over all” (transcendent), is also “in all” (immanent) and “not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27)
—Paul Copan

 
 

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