Peace!–In the Midst of Storm!

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg

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Have you ever been in a big storm, a powerful hurricane, earthquake or typhoon? Were you afraid or scared or worried? Well, most people ARE when caught in such storms because they never know if they’re going to get blown away or if the lightning is going to strike them or the wind will rip the roof off their house or somehow hurt or even kill them!

But this little family is peaceful and unafraid, even though all around them a terrible storm is raging! The wind is howling, big trees are being uprooted and blown down, lightning is flashing and thunder is crashing! But they don’t look worried at all! They’re perfectly at peace and at rest!

Do you know what a mother hen does with her little chicks whenever danger is near? She gathers them under her wings and covers and protects them there. Well, the Bible says that the Lord does the same thing with HIS children. “He shall cover you, and under His wings you can trust. There you need not fear the terror by night, nor the destruction by day, for the LORD is your refuge and place of protection.” (Psalm 91)

If we belong to the Lord and stay close to Him, He will take care of us.–ALWAYS! So that even if we’re in the middle of a terrible storm like we see in this picture, His strong and loving Heavenly hands will be there to keep, protect and take care of us. Even when all is dark and stormy OUTSIDE, we can have the sunshine of His love and rainbow of His blessings and peace INSIDE!

Did you ever hear the Bible story of Rahab? A long time ago, there was a city called Jericho which was so wicked that God was going to punish and destroy it. But within the city was a dear little woman named Rahab who was kind and helpful to God’s children. And because she was good to God’s people, God was good to her!

The huge protective walls that ran around Jericho were very high and very thick–so thick that many people actually had their houses ON the walls, as did Rahab. When the day of God’s judgements came, He shook the city and caused the ENTIRE WALL to COLLAPSE to the ground! Except for ONE tiny little part of it that remained standing all alone–and that was the house of Rahab! Because she had faith and because she had received and been good to God’s children, when He destroyed the entire city and everybody else in it, her little house didn’t fall and she and her family were spared and protected! (Joshua 2 and 6)

So why worry? If you’re the LORD’S child, HE will take care of you! His children who stay close to Him live in a CHARMED CIRCLE of His protection! It’s like a special FORCE-FIELD that nothing can get through without His permission! Of course this doesn’t mean that the Lord will NEVER allow us to be harmed or tested, but He’ll never allow us to have any INSUFFERABLE harm or any UNBEARABLE damage, and He promises to always save us out of our troubles. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord DELIVERS him out of them ALL!” (Psalm 34:19)

If He doesn’t deliver us any other way, He delivers us by DEATH! Because for the CHRISTIAN, the one who loves the Lord, death is no problem! It’s our HOMEGOING to HEAVEN, and you couldn’t go to a better place than Heaven! Then all your worries will be over and you will have graduated from this life! He will either take CARE of you or He will TAKE you, so you’ve got it made one way or the other!

So the most important thing is to make sure that you belong to HIM. Then you’ll KNOW that everything will be all right and that WHATEVER happens to you will be for your GOOD. He says that “ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) If you are His child, you’ll know that everything that happens in your life comes from Him and is somehow for your good!

Then even if there’s a terrible storm and great destruction all around you, you won’t need to fear! The Lord says, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, I am thy God! You shall be SAFE in the midst of storm, in the hollow of My hand, for underneath you are MY Everlasting Arms.” (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 33:27) He is ALWAYS there, He’ll NEVER EVER leave you, for He promises, “I am with you ALWAYS, even to the End of the World!” (Matthew 28:20)

If you would like to have such peace and assurance and heavenly protection, all you need to do is receive and love God’s Son, JESUS! Then, no matter WHAT difficulties or hardships arise in your life, HE will help you to BRAVE the storms and FACE the winds and NOT be swept away! No matter HOW dark the clouds become that may sometimes overshadow you, the Light of His Love will ALWAYS come bursting through to encourage you and to give you hope and strength to pull through!

He and His Love are just that WONDERFUL! He will brighten your life and give you peace that the Bible says even “passes your own understanding–PERFECT peace, because you TRUST in Him!” (Philippians 4:7; Isaiah 26:3) No matter HOW dark or stormy or difficult the outward conditions may be, in your HEART the sun can always be shining, the birds can always be singing, the flowers can always be blossoming, and all can be well and happy in Him!

So may God bless you with His PEACE and His LOVE through the one and only “PRINCE of peace”, JESUS CHRIST! He LOVES you and will come into your life right NOW if you’ll just ask Him into your heart! He says, “Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I WILL come into him.” (Revelation 3:20)

Simply pray: “Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died for me. Please forgive me for all my sins. I ask You, Jesus, to please come into my heart and give me Your free Gift of Eternal Life! Help me to love You and to love others by telling them about You and Your Love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

God BLESS you! We LOVE you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

The Parable of the Sower!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

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When speaking to the multitudes, Jesus often taught them in PARABLES, simple stories about common events, circumstances and things that His listeners could easily relate to. Most of the people that Jesus addressed were simple folk, and He knew that even the CHILDREN would be interested in His message if He presented it by using such illustrated stories.

The “PARABLE OF THE SOWER” is one of the few parables that is found in three different Gospels: In Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. This wonderful parable reveals the four different states in which the hearts of men can be classified. As we now read Jesus’ Own words, you could ask yourself which of these four categories describes YOU!…

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, (1) some fell upon the PATH, and the BIRDS of the air came and ATE it up. (2) And some fell upon STONY GROUND where there was not much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the SUN came up, the plants were SCORCHED, and they WITHERED, because they had NO DEPTH of ROOT. (3) “Other seed fell among THORNS, and the thorns grew up WITH it and CHOKED the plants. (4) But other seed fell upon GOOD GROUND, and it came up, grew, and produced a crop–thirty times, sixty times, or a hundred times what was sown.

“And when He had said these things He cried, ‘He that has ears to HEAR, let him HEAR! Listen to what the parable of the sower means.'”

Now Jesus is going to interpret and explain for us exactly what this parable is all about: “The SEED is the WORD OF GOD. Those along the path, are the ones who HEAR, but then comes the DEVIL and TAKES AWAY THE WORD from their hearts, lest they should BELIEVE and be SAVED.”

When the life-giving seed of the Word of God is sown on this FIRST kind of ground, this kind of heart, what happens? Paths are usually hard and packed earth, and before the seed is able to sink in, Satan comes along and snatches it away before they even understand it, before they can receive it, before they even get saved!

Oh, how the Devil FIGHTS against the Word of God! The Bible tells us that, “FAITH comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), so to try to prevent people from believing in Jesus and getting saved, he’ll do all that he can to keep them from hearing or receiving the Truth of God’s wonderful Word! The Apostle Paul says, “If our Gospel is HID, it is hid to those who are LOST, in whom the GOD OF THIS WORLD (the Devil) has BLINDED the MINDS of those who do not believe, so that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ cannot shine unto them!” (2Corinthians 4:3,4)

We trust that YOU who are reading this are ALREADY born again, that you have ALREADY received the precious seed of God’s Word and have asked His Son, Jesus, into your hearts. If you have received Jesus, then you don’t need to worry about being this FIRST kind of ground, thank the Lord!

But what about the SECOND kind of ground that Jesus describes? He says, “Some, like seed sown on STONY ground, hear the Word and at first RECEIVE it with JOY. But these have NO ROOT, and for AWHILE believe, but when TROUBLE or PERSECUTION arises because of the Word, they are OFFENDED and quickly fall away!”

This second kind actually receive the Word joyfully and begin to grow, but when a time of TESTING or TRIAL or PERSECUTION for the Word’s sake arises, their enthusiasm wanes, their faith withers and they fade away! This doesn’t mean that they lose their salvation, because once you have received Jesus into your heart, you are His FOREVER. He says, “I am with you ALWAYS, I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) But these kind of Christians simply “have no ROOT”, no DEPTH, they are SHALLOW, and they never really STAND UP and GROW and become FRUITFUL. They just sort of die out spiritually and fall away when a time of testing comes, when the hot sun of persecution or tribulation arises. They’re weak and they can’t take it.

How many Christians are like that! They’re happy to receive Jesus, but they never really study and feed on God’s Word and let His Truth sink deep down in their hearts. They are “easy believers” who gladly accept God’s Gift of salvation; a very convenient fire-escape from Hell and a sort of “life-insurance” for the next life. But when the time comes that they should really STAND UP for their faith and tell OTHERS about Jesus, and be willing to endure reproach, rejection, humiliation, or even downright suffering and persecution for the Gospel, they just wither up and fade away!

Now here is Jesus’ explanation of the THIRD kind of ground: “Others, like the seed sown among THORNS, hear the Word; but the CARES and CONCERNS of THIS life, the DECEITFULNESS of RICHES and the DESIRE for other THINGS enters in and CHOKES out the Word, making them unfruitful.”

Being choked-out by the cares, riches and concerns of this life is probably the greatest pitfall for most Christians in the World today! The wonderful way that God could use them is absolutely smothered and choked-out by the MATERIALISTIC cares of THIS temporal life. They get so busy with so many things besides the Lord and His Word and His Work–the “affairs of this life” (2Timothy 2:4)–and their spiritual growth is severely stunted, their strength is sapped, and the thorns of this World choke out their fruitfulness and render them USELESS to God’s eternal Kingdom!

This is not to say that riches are evil. It is “the LOVE of money” that is the root of all evil. (1Timothy 6:10) It is when we value riches and wealth and material things MORE than the LORD that we begin to be choked and fruitless and deceived by “the deceitfulness of riches”!

Finally, the FOURTH kind of ground that Jesus describes: “They who receive the seed that fell on the GOOD GROUND are they who, in an HONEST and GOOD heart, hear the Word and RETAIN it, and with PATIENCE produce a crop yielding thirty, sixty or an hundred times what was sown!”

Unlike the other unfruitful grounds, this fourth kind of ground receives the Word and KEEPS it, RETAINS it, and PATIENTLY PERSEVERES until it grows and matures and becomes FRUITFUL for God’s glory!

* * *

What is the ground of YOUR heart like? Even though SAVED, a good many Christians become like the SECOND kind of ground, stony, rocky and shallow because of their DISOBEDIENCE to the Lord. Their hearts become “HARDENED through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13), and they never become the strong plants for the Lord that they COULD be, they never grow or mature spiritually or become fruitful. So when the “fiery trials” of temptation arise, their faith withers away because they have no DEPTH, and have never been “ROOTED and ESTABLISHED in the faith” as they should have been! (1Peter 4:12; Colossians 2:6,7)

Or like the THIRD kind of ground, they allow their potential usefulness to God to be CHOKED OUT by the thorny material cares of this life. They never seem to find time–to MAKE time–to prayerfully read and feed from God’s Word, thus they lack the “spirit and life” that His Word would give them. (John 6:63)

How different is the Bible’s description of the man who, like the FOURTH kind of ground, gives the LORD and His WORD FIRST place: “His DELIGHT is in the Word of the Lord, and in His Word he meditates DAY and NIGHT. He shall be like a TREE planted by the rivers of water, which yields its FRUIT in season and whose leaf does NOT wither.-WHATEVER he does shall PROSPER!” (Psalm 1:2,3)

Oh, if we will only realise the ETERNAL IMPORTANCE of yielding to God’s Word and God’s Will–like good, fertile, receptive ground yields to the farmer’s plow, receives the seed he sows and patiently yields a crop–then surely we will DESPISE the thought of allowing our usefulness to God to be choked out by passing material things! And we certainly won’t allow our faith to wither or fade away because of a little opposition, trouble or persecution for the Gospel!

If your desire is to please the Lord and be fruitful and useful for Him, then YIELD your heart to Him TODAY and let Him make you what HE wants you to be! If you faithfully read and draw strength from God’s life-giving WORDS, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you will grow spiritually. And if you obey Jesus’ command to “preach the Gospel” and you tell OTHERS about His Love, then the seed of God’s Word that you sow in THEIR hearts will take root and grow, and you will win OTHERS to Jesus, and thus bear FRUIT, thirty times, sixty times or even one hundred times more than was originally sown in your life! And God Himself will reward you with EVERLASTING saved SOULS and you’ll shine as the stars FOREVER! (Daniel 12:3)

* * *

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we sincerely ask You to please help us to yield to You, to be obedient to You, so we can be the good fruitful kind of ground that You desire! You said, “BLESSED are they who do HUNGER and THIRST after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” So please help us to really HUNGER for YOU and Your life-giving WORD, to read it faithfully and to share it with others so they too can find You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

Near to the Heart of God

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorThe great passion of the writer of Hebrews is that we “draw near” to God. (Hebrews 4:16, 7:25, 10:22, 11:6) Draw near to his throne to find all the help we need. Draw near to him, confident that he will reward us with all that he is for us in Jesus. And this is clearly what he means in Hebrews 10:22, because verse 19 says that we have confidence “to enter the holy place,” that is, the new heavenly “holy of holies,” like that inner room in the old tabernacle of the Old Testament where the high priest met with God once a year, and where his glory descended on the ark of the covenant. So the one command, the one exhortation that we are given in Hebrews 10:19–22 is to draw near to God. The great aim of this writer is that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God, that God not be a distant thought, but a near and present reality, that we experience what the old Puritans called communion with God.

This drawing near is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel, by your achievements, to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going into a church building, or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. … It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven, and yet as near as the door of faith. He is commanding us to come, to approach him, to draw near to him…

“We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:11) This is the center of the gospel—this is what the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday are all about—that God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near. He has sent his Son to suffer and to die so that through him we might draw near. It’s all so that we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for his glory.

He does not need us. If we stay away, he is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But he magnifies his mercy by giving us free access through his Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, himself. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

—John Piper

 
Keep going for God

You’ve got to keep going for the Lord in this life! No matter how many mistakes you make, how many stumbles and falls and how many times you get off the track, you’ve just got to keep trying. You’ve got to keep going! Even if you keep on crying, you’ve got to keep on trying. Keep going for God! Hallelujah!

To love someone more dearly every day,
To help a wandering soul to find his way,
To ponder o’er His holy Word and pray,
And pray when evening comes,
And smile when evening comes: This is my task.

To follow truth as blind men long for light,
To do my best from dawn of day till night,
To keep my heart fit for His holy sight
And answer when He calls
And answer when He calls: This is my task.

And then my Savior by and by I’ll see,
When faith hath made our task on earth complete,
And lay my homage at my Master’s feet,
Within those jasper walls,
Within those jasper walls: This crowns my task!

(My Task,” Maude Ray (1903), adapted)

God bless you and make you a blessing! May that be your task, in Jesus’ name, amen. Whatever you do, keep going for God! Jesus never fails!

—David Brandt Berg

 
Bigger than anything

Bigger than all my problems, bigger than all my fears,
God is bigger than any mountain I can, or cannot, see,
Bigger than all my questions, bigger than anything,
God is bigger than any mountain I can, or cannot, see.

God is far bigger than I can ever imagine! God is a “doing” God! He is a God who is well able to do anything! He is able to do anything, far beyond our every human thought or imagination. The Bible says in Ephesians 3:20, “Unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.”

There is no impossible circumstance too far gone that God cannot minister to,
No problem too big that God cannot solve,
No sickness He cannot heal,
No miracle which God cannot do,
No prayer which He cannot answer,
No sinner too lost in their sin that God cannot save,
No backslider too far from God that God cannot restore,
No city too hard that God cannot bring a mighty revival to.
For our God is well able to do far above all that we ask or think … He is able to do!

If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we, more often than not, tend to fix our eyes on the problem. Then as we dwell on it, we allow it to grow until it becomes to us this huge mountain before us. However, in the eyes of our great and awesome God, it is but a speck of dust, which He can blow away by the gentlest breath…

Our God is able to do whatever it is you need Him to do.
Our God is able to heal you.
Our God is able to rescue you.
Our God is able to save you.
Our God is able to meet all your needs.
Our God is able to turn things around for you.
Our God is able to restore you.
Our God is able to heal your broken marriage.
Our God is able to forgive you.
Our God is able to show you mercy and grace.
Our God is able to answer all your prayers.
Our God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.
Our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
Our God is a great big God, bigger than all our problems; He is bigger than anything.

We may never grasp how awesome God is, or the enormity of God. Or even how omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient He is. However, may we grasp the fullness of this promise from the Lord in Ephesians 3:20: “Unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think,” because our God is an awesome God!

—Matthew McDonald

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Overcoming Vices!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

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We all have habits, both good and bad. Anything you do automatically without consciously thinking about it, or without specifically deciding to do it, is a habit. Good habits or practices–such as tidiness, courtesy, good manners etc. are a real blessing. But when the habits you’ve picked up are BAD or DESTRUCTIVE, and you find them hard or almost impossible to change, they are known as VICES.

There’s a true story about a man who owned an eagle, and for many years had chained him to a stake. Over the years, the eagle had walked around and around that stake so much on the end of his chain that he’d worn an actual rut in the ground. Finally, he was getting old and his master felt sorry for him and thought, “These are his last days, so I’m going to set him free!” So he took the metal ring off the eagle’s foot, took him up in his hand and tossed him into the air. But what do you suppose happened? The old eagle had almost totally forgotten how to fly! He flip-flopped right back down to the ground, walked back over to the old rut and started walking around the rut like he had done for years! No chain or birdband held him! Just the habit!

It has been said that “The chains of bad habits are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken!” EXCEPT by the Lord! And “Habit is a cable; you weave a thread of it every day, and at last you cannot break it.” These are very true.

How many times have you tried to quit a bad habit, but found yourself almost powerless to get rid of it or stop doing it, no matter how much you tried to exert will power against it? The fact is that, in one area or another, we are all weak and very human and fallible, and subject to many different problems which can turn into bad habits and vices.

What most people do not realise is that a vice or a bad habit is often MORE than just an ingrained natural reaction. When you have a certain weakness, and you entertain and give in to it for a prolonged period of time, very often evil spirits–demons–are BEHIND these habits, playing them up and trying to keep you addicted to them, especially if they are bad habits which endanger you or your health, or your relationship with others.

According to God’s Word, there are definitely demons who play up certain sins and vices and try to destroy us through them. Such as demons of gluttony, demons of alcohol and drugs and cigarettes, demons of gambling, demons of sexual perversions, of homosexuality etc. These are some of the most OBVIOUS vices, but what many people do not realise is that things like hatred, guilt, bitterness, worry, pride, jealousy, self-righteousness, fear, lying and deception are also bad habits and vices, and the spiritual powers that bind people to them can be just as strong and destructive as the addiction that drives someone to compulsive gambling, drugs or alcohol abuse!

There are demons that will try to harm and destroy you in almost every phase of your life if you let them. This is especially true if you have a TENDENCY or a BESETTING SIN along some line, say, for example, a strong inclination to be jealous or to critically judge others. Or if you have a WEAKNESS towards alcohol or anything else. The Enemy can play on that and tempt you with it constantly.

ALCOHOLISM is a vice that has plagued mankind for millenniums, and though drinking wine in moderation was very common in Bible times, the Bible has much to say against the constant ABUSE of and OVER-indulgence in wine and other alcohol. (See Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; 31:4, Ephesians 5:18; Titus 2:3) The Lord can not only set you free from the spirit behind alcoholism, but He can also give you the will power to continue to resist it once He’s delivered you.

We all know, of course, that the nicotine and tar in TOBACCO is very bad for our health and has been proven to be a major cause of cancer! Even most smokers recognise that smoking is a vice and a bad habit, but the point is, how can they STOP? As it can have such a grip and be so addicting! The solution to stopping is to desperately pray for the Lord to free you from the physical dependence on the nicotine, and to rebuke any bad spirits which could possibly be aggravating and adding to the addiction. Ask the LORD to DELIVER you, and He WILL!

DRUGS are also very addicting and very harmful. This includes not only the illegal drugs, but also the “legal” prescribed drugs that millions of people buy across the pharmacy counter. Many are addicting, and whatever “benefits” they give–whether escape from reality or relief from pain–almost all of them have bad side-effects, are harmful and expensive! But the good news is that the Lord has DELIVERED untold thousands of people from drug addiction of all kinds! MIRACULOUSLY! And often without any withdrawal symptoms!

GAMBLING is a vice as addicting as alcoholism or drugs, and is clearly a case of deceptive evil spirits compelling someone to gamble their hard-earned savings away at a toss of the dice, the turn or a wheel, the speed of a horse or a chance good hand of cards. The principle behind gambling is that you can make easy money without labour, just the opposite of the values of diligence, hard work and thrift that the Bible teaches. Also, the dependence on “luck” is nothing more than wishing for the blessing of the Devil, as the word “LUCK” comes from his name, “LUCifer”. It’s bad enough that some people are foolish enough to take RISKS or CHANCES in gambling, but those who are actually “good” at it or “lucky” are even MORE in need of deliverance!

HOMOSEXUALITY–or Sodomy, as it is known in the Bible–has been more fully covered in another article in this site, “The Doom of the Sodomites”. Please read this story and its “Food for Thought” if you have a problem with homosexuality.

Many Christians who self-righteously condemn others who are caught up in the obvious vices of alcoholism, drugs or sexual perversion think nothing of over-eating and obesity. Yet GLUTTONY, or COMPULSIVE EATING are often spiritually induced vices as well, and a compulsive bad habit that takes real prayer and determination to overcome. Gluttonly is often as strong and as bad a habit as drug addiction or alcoholism, and God’s Word gives ample warning against it. (See Proverbs 23:2,20-21; 1Peter 4:3.)

Speaking of SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS and a condemning CRITICAL SPIRIT, these are definitely very serious spiritual problems and vices also. If you find yourself constantly judging and critical, looking down on others, thinking you are better than they are, then you should definitely seek for deliverance from the negative, divisive spirits which cause you to be that way.

Self-righteousness is very closely related to PRIDE, and stems directly from it. And though we all have the besetting sin of pride and a love and concern for ourselves, the Enemy of our soul can often play on that natural human weakness and blow it up into the worst of all problems! Pride is the root of ALL sin, and was the cause of SATAN’S downfall. (Isaiah 14:12-15) The Lord HATES pride! (Proverbs 6:16-17)

Two other common vices that countless millions of people are afflicted with are HATRED and BITTERNESS. Like other sins of the mind and of the heart, these are definitely weaknesses brought on by evil spirits. For what the Bible has to say about bitterness, read Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:19; Hebrews 12:15; James 3:14-15. For hatred, read Proverbs 10:12; 15:17; 26:26; Galatians 5:19-21. Not only are these bad habits detrimental and even dangerous to others, but medical science has proven that they cause all kinds of psychosomatic illnesses to the one who is bitter or hateful by releasing actual poisons into the bloodstream.

FEAR and WORRY are related negative emotions which cause no end of bad effects to the one who is plagued by them. Being deeply fearful or constantly worrying are usually more than just ingrained habits or the result of some bad childhood experience. Fear especially is a terrible bondage, and the Bible clearly states that “GOD has NOT given us the spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a sound mind!” (2Timothy 1:7) (See also Proverbs 29:25; Luke 21:26; 2Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:15; 1John 4:18)

GUILT or a feeling of condemnation is also definitely spiritual, and brought on by the Devil, whom the Bible calls “the Accuser of the Saints”. (Revelation 12:10) People usually suffer from guilt because they are either disobedient and “have a certain fearful expectation of judgement” (Hebrews 10:27), or because “their conscience is weak” and therefore susceptible to the lies of the Enemy. (1Corinthians 8:7; Titus 1:15) The solution to breaking such an oppressive habit is to study the truth of GOD’S WORD to know what is WRONG and what is RIGHT, and then to OBEY and do the RIGHT THING! (Hebrews 10:22; John 15:3)

Some people have a compulsive bad habit of LYING or of practicing DECEPTION. The Bible makes it clear that this is also a serious vice. For Bible verses on lying, see Psalm 119:163; Proverbs 6:16-17; 10:18; 12:22, 13:5; 26:28; Ephesians 4:25. For deceitfulness, see Proverbs 12:5,17; 14:8,25; 26:24. There are many more bad habits and vices which we could list, but these are just a few examples of some of the most common ones. But remember, ANY bad or negative habit you have that hurts yourself or others is a VICE, and it is very possible that the Enemy of your soul is behind it, using it to try to defeat or hinder you.

It’s interesting also that a VICE is a workman’s TOOL that GRIPS something so it cannot move!

If you’re a Christian, evil spirits cannot permanently possess you, but they can try to put thoughts in your head to motivate you to do things which you shouldn’t. They try to INFLUENCE your mind and your spirit, and try to get you to yield to them. And if they can get you to yield to their influence or to decide to do their will, they get control and can almost bind you into vices or bad habits. If you get into a bad habit and do it continually, you can wind up in total defeat to where you’re obeying and listening to the Devil instead of the Lord.

Even born-again Christians who love the Lord are sometimes subject to evil spirits. Not permanently possessed, but OPPRESSED or under their influence. A Christian is the LORD’S property and possessed by the LORD and HIS Spirit. But of course, if you have some besetting sin, some dark corner of your life or bad habit that you’re not willing to yield to the Lord, the Enemy can bother you and plague you on that point. He can use that thing to weaken you or to cause defeat in that particular area of your life. This is why God’s Word says, “Neither give PLACE to the Devil!” (Ephesians 4:27) The Scripture calls them “BESETTING SINS” because they are SPIRITS that ATTACK you, “WEIGHTS” you must “lay aside”. (Hebrews 12:1)

When you “give place” to the Enemy in your life, it’s like having an evil boarder in your house: He’s not in control of the house, but he annoys you and causes you trouble and all kinds of damage. You tell him to leave several times but he won’t leave, so finally by the authority and the law–in this case the authority of the WORD and the Name of JESUS–you literally THROW him out! Otherwise he just won’t leave!

It’s sad that many Christians go so long without getting complete DELIVERANCE from deep-seated vices and bad habits! They just sort of harbour them and allow them to hang around without really getting RID of them. They don’t recognise that their problems are SPIRITUAL as well as physical, so they don’t take SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY over these spirits and REBUKE them and get RID of them.

You have to first of all be willing to RECOGNISE that there is a SPIRITUAL FORCE binding you into that vice, and you have to want to be FREE of it enough that you are not only willing to CONFESS it to the LORD and cry out to HIM for help, but you have to be willing to confess to OTHERS that you need help and prayer to overcome your weakness and bad habit. Because some vices have such a strong grip on people–even Christians–that they’re almost powerless to overcome them on their own.

If you have a real serious problem and you cannot seem to get deliverance through private prayer or trying to resist some vice on your own, then you need to contact other Spirit-filled Christians whom you know and trust and let them know you have a serious problem and ask for their united prayer! Never be ashamed to ask for help or prayer when you need it.

Remember, God’s Word says: “ONE can chase a THOUSAND, but TWO can put TEN THOUSAND to flight” (Deuteronomy 32:30), and it helps greatly to have someone else pray with you when you feel oppressed or distressed or attacked by the Enemy. “Where TWO or THREE are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” And, “If any TWO of you shall AGREE on Earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven.”(Matthew 18:19-20)

“If there is any SICK among you (SPIRITUALLY as well as physically), let him CALL for the ELDERS of the church and let them pray over him, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick. And if they have committed any sins, they shall be forgiven them. CONFESS your FAULTS one to another, and PRAY one for another, that ye may be HEALED.” (James 5:14-16) When you pray, quote and remind the Lord of the Promises that He has made in His Word. When you remind God of His Word, it shows you have faith in it. He has promised to keep His Word, so remind Him of it, cling to His Promises, memorise and quote them continually, and never doubt for a moment that God is going to answer–and He WILL! He HAS to! If you sincerely WANT deliverance and PRAY for a real victory over any bad habits, the LORD will help you! Jesus never fails! He always answers when we call upon Him with a WHOLE HEART.

“ALL power is given unto Me in Heaven and in Earth,” Jesus said (Matthew 28:18), and we have JESUS, so we have HIS power, so even the evil spirits and demons are subject unto us! (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1; 10:17-19, Acts 8:7). If there are demonic powers behind your bad habits, you can rebuke them in the name of Jesus, and they HAVE to DEPART!

To overcome a vice or bad habit, you first or all have to get delivered of the spiritual power that is behind the bad habit. Before you’re delivered, the binding spirit may pretty much have control, but after you are DELIVERED, it will be within your power to RESIST its re-entry!

But even after prayer and spiritual deliverance, it sometimes takes awhile to completely break free from the HABIT. Although you are delivered of the SPIRIT, you still have the ingrained HABIT, and the spirit may keep trying to come back to tempt you for awhile and play up on your weakness or tendencies along that line. Especially if a certain weakness or vice has been a big problem or habit for many years. It makes you much more SUSCEPTIBLE to attacks along that line. So for some time after prayer you may still have some battles with it. But don’t give up! It’s a real battle to overcome a strong bad habit you’ve had for years, but you need to resist even thinking about doing those things again. Rebuke the very THOUGHT of temptation, quote Scriptures and praise the Lord continually!

It’s not YOUR fault that you get TEMPTED. Nobody can keep temptation from coming, but you don’t have to YIELD to temptation! “You can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can CERTAINLY keep them from building a NEST in your hair!” Attack and hit the Devil back every time he tries his tactics on you! The Devil can only win if you SURRENDER! He can NEVER win as long as you keep FIGHTING. “RESIST the Devil and he will FLEE from you!” (James 4:7). As long as you keep resisting, he’ll keep fleeing. But if you stop resisting, he uses his lies and temptations and persuasion to win. When JESUS WAS TEMPTED by the Devil, He fought him with SCRIPTURES! (Luke 4:1-13). So quote the Word of God and rebuke the Enemy!

Some changes are instantaneous, overnight, and others take awhile. You can’t get over some habits in one day necessarily, because the Enemy doesn’t very willingly surrender territory which he has controlled so long. When people have had weaknesses and had channels open to the Enemy before, he tries to get back in if he can. But if you keep praying and asking the Lord to protect and deliver and give you the complete victory, and you claim and quote His Word, He WILL! “Whom the Son shall set free is FREE INDEED!” (John 8:36).

One of your best protections is to KEEP BUSY for God and others, doing what you know you SHOULD, as well as filling your mind and heart with positive, encouraging, strengthening and faith-building thoughts from His Word, remembering, memorising and continually quoting to yourself and even to the Enemy when he attacks you. And “pray without ceasing!” (1Thessalonians 5:17). As the poem says: “The Devil flees when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees!”

“Ye are of GOD, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is HE (JESUS) that is IN YOU, than HE (THE DEVIL) that is in the WORLD.” (1John 4:4). The power of the Lord is far greater, and is able to break all the chains that may bind you!

WHATEVER your bad habit is, JESUS can set you FREE! Are YOU free? Or do you need HELP? “ASK and ye SHALL RECEIVE!” Amen?

* * *

The following is a sample of a prayer for deliverance that you might find helpful, as it offers you an example, not only of how to call out to the Lord for His help to overcome vices, but also how to CLAIM and QUOTE Scriptures as you rebuke the Enemy:

(PRAY:) “Lord Jesus, I call out to YOU now with my whole heart and ask You, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to FREE me from the terrible grip that this vice has on my life! YOU said in Your WORD, Jesus, ‘Greater is He that is in me (YOU in my heart, Lord!) than he that is in the World (the Devil)!’ So I KNOW that YOU are GREATER than the Enemy and CAN overcome this vice! You said, ‘ALL power is given unto Me in Heaven and on Earth’ and that `if ye shall ask ANYTHING in My Name, I WILL DO it’! So I ask You right now, Jesus, to BREAK every hold the Enemy has in my life and DESTROY the power of this bad habit! I REBUKE the Devil and ALL of his influence, right NOW, in Jesus’ name!

“Your Word says, ‘Give NO place to the Enemy’, and I don’t want ANYTHING that’s not of YOU, Jesus! Your disciples said, ‘Even the evil spirits are SUBJECT unto us!’, so I CLAIM that promise, I claim that SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY over the power of the Enemy–right NOW! And I REBUKE the Devil in the Name of JESUS CHRIST! I claim Your Promise, Lord: `RESIST the Devil and he will FLEE from you!’ I RESIST you, Satan, in the Name of JESUS CHRIST! I BIND and REBUKE any hold you might have on my life, any power you might have over me, in the Name of JESUS!

“JESUS, You PROMISED that “When ye shall call unto Me with a WHOLE HEART, I WILL answer thee!’ And Jesus, I AM crying out with ALL my heart for You to deliver me! And I EXPECT you to do it! You promised, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on Earth SHALL be BOUND in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Heaven’, so I BIND the power of the Enemy in YOUR NAME and I loose the grip he has on me and I ask You to cast him far away from me, NEVER to return! In JESUS’ name! I count it DONE, Lord! Thank You, Jesus! Thank You for setting me FREE! Help me now to take a stand of faith against the Enemy’s devices! Please give me the spiritual power to do what I can to resist temptation, and STAY free from the ingrained habits, Lord! In the Name of Jesus Christ! AMEN!”

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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Countercultural Christianity

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
—1 Peter 2:9

*

Every generation must face this quandary of how to maintain cultural influence, and in our changing world, the conversation has been resurrected again.

In an effort to appeal to outsiders, some Christians simply copy culture. They become a Xerox of what they perceive as hip in hopes that people will perceive them—and their organizations, ministries, and churches—as “cool” and give them a chance. Unfortunately, this pursuit of pop culture removes the church from its historically prophetic position in society. Relating to the world by following the world is a recipe for disaster.

The next generation of Christians aren’t separatists, antagonists, or striving to be “relevant.” Instead, they are countercultural as they advance the common good in society. The next Christians see themselves as salt, preserving agents actively working for restoration in the middle of a decaying culture. They attach themselves to people and structures that are in danger of rotting while availing themselves of Christ’s redeeming power to work through them. They understand that by being restorers they fight against the cultural norms and often flow counter to the cultural tide. But they feel that, as Christians, they’ve been called to partner with God in restoring and renewing everything they see falling apart.

Paradoxically, in our current cultural context, this not only opens up more people to personal salvation, but it also sustains a God-glorifying testimony to the world of His restoration power at work. It’s truly good news to the world. Rather than fighting off culture to protect an insular Christian community, they are fighting for the world to redeem it. …

A commitment to being countercultural rather than being removed or “relevant” isn’t always easy. Living differently can be hard. Going against the ebbs and flows of culture can create friction and sometimes provoke a hostile reaction to the good we are trying to create. Theologians Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon remind us that this should be expected, for “whenever a people are bound together in loyalty to a story that includes something as strange as the Sermon on the Mount, we are put at odds with the world.”

Yet, it is through maintaining this cultural orientation that the world can experience God’s restoration power and people will be convinced that our faith is all we claim, all that Jesus commissioned His followers to. As the apostle Peter encourages, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12 NIV)

Is a countercultural community the answer to restoring the soul of the world, winning the skeptics, and revitalizing our faith? We’ll have to wait and see. For now we know that the clear call of Jesus is for the Christian community to be salt on a rotting world and light in the dimmest places.

—Gabe Lyons

 
God’s new nation

God called His people a new nation, a holy nation. That means a whole new culture, a whole new way of life, a brand-new people. We come from all races, creeds and colors, but now we’re all one in Christ Jesus, and that is a miracle in itself. (Galatians 3:28) No matter what nationality, race, or place we originally came from, we all now have the same faith, love, wonder-working power, and changed lives.

There are many different governments and kingdoms of man, but only one kingdom of God. We are a people without a permanent country on this earth because we seek one to come, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 13:14; 11:10) We seek a country established by God Himself, and it is certainly not any of the nations on the face of this earth. Not even the most Christian ones could be called His country.

We belong to the kingdom of God; that’s our country. We seek a better country, a country which we already have in our hearts, thank the Lord, the kingdom of heaven! That’s our country—the best country in the entire universe, one that has never persecuted the poor or oppressed the weak, a country that’s never lost a battle, and never fought a war for the wrong reasons!

We are strangers and pilgrims here on this earth, God’s representatives and ambassadors of His soon-coming kingdom of love, the greatest kingdom the world is ever going to know.

—David Brandt Berg

 
By this everyone will know

There are some ways in which we don’t want the church to be countercultural. Churches accommodate themselves to culture in a whole number of very good ways. It’s a good thing, for instance, that Christians around the world use a word in their local language for God …

Being countercultural is a strong theme in the Bible. Jesus told his followers that they “do not belong to the world.” (John 15:19 NIV) St. Paul told the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world.” (Romans 12:2) But it is quite another thing to figure out just what that means. There are a bewildering array of cultures and subcultures which proclaim and embody different values, ideas, and intuitions. How do we decide what we are to be counter to?

The Bible makes clear that the most significant way in which Christians demonstrate their distinctiveness is in the nature of their life together. How the Christian community’s members interact with one another, engage in discourse, and welcome others, for instance, are all part of their witness to God. This is what Jesus was getting at when he told his followers that “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35) The apostolic church was noted for its distinctive relationships. The life of the early Christians—“all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44)—was countercultural in the context of a Roman society stratified by divisions of wealth. A central part of St. Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians is that, if they want to follow Jesus, all Christians actually need one another—no matter how unlikely that may seem and how much the world presses them to think otherwise.

Interdependence, relatedness, community: these are ideas that strike me as pretty countercultural in our contemporary society.

—Jesse Zink

 
Sent to be a witness

The particular notion that we are “in the world but not of the world” is based on the prayer of Jesus in the Last Supper discourses in the Gospel of John. Jesus said, “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world,” and “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” (John 17:16, 18 NAB)

We are sent into the world to witness and share the good news that we have come to know in Christ. Peace is possible. Love is real. All creation has dignity and is sacred and can bring us closer to God.

This loving witness is costly. We may stick out or be misunderstood. We could end up like the one we follow, and so we must embrace the cross. We may have to pay a major price for proclaiming prophetic messages. Christ, after all, is our model for countercultural gospel living.

In his prayer recorded in John 17:22, Jesus declares that the ultimate aim of all countercultural Christian living is not actually division and separation, but unity: “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

As we live our countercultural Christian lives, may we remain rooted in this vision. May we always remember that we witness Christ’s love in order to more boldly manifest the union and love that is found in God alone.

—Julia Walsh

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Open Up!

by Maria Fontaine

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“When I was in my first year of college, I started going out with a real sweet boy. We went many places and had a lot of good times together. He was very sweet and loved the Lord, but he was the silent type–very into himself, shy and untalkative. I liked him very much and I THINK he liked me a lot too! I have to say I THINK he was quite fond of me; I wasn’t really SURE because we never really communicated very much. We hardly ever spoke together about anything other than the time of day or what we were doing or where we were going or about college. We never had any really deep conversations or talked about matters of the heart at all!

“I didn’t realise that this was a problem until finally I began developing rather serious feelings about him! He had gotten to the final year of his studies without getting married or too involved with anybody, and I THINK he was really shy and scared of getting too serious. So he started to cool things off, and this broke my little heart! I then started thinking and praying about what went wrong, and it finally dawned on me that I didn’t really know what HE thought about our relationship, and HE didn’t know what I thought! That’s when I realised that during the entire time we had been together, we hadn’t had any kind of deep heart-to-heart communication at all!

“After we had broken up, I was still wondering why, and I thought, ‘Why didn’t I ASK him? Why didn’t we just honestly TALK about the things we felt and thought?’ If we HAD, it would have been so simple and prevented the whole problem of me not understanding and not knowing his feelings and him not knowing mine! It was just RIDICULOUS to be that close to someone and still know hardly a thing about what they felt and what they thought!

“So, I learned a good lesson! I learned to ASK! And I learned the importance of honest, open, humble communication. I learned the importance of ASKING when I don’t understand things, and trying to get the OTHER person to be honest and express what he feels and thinks, and that I need to be honest about MY feelings too!” So writes the author of “The Importance of Good Communications!”

 
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE KEEP THEMSELVES TO THEMSELVES?

Why is it that my friend found it so difficult to communicate? Why do some people keep a curtain over their mind and heart, so that others cannot even catch a glimpse of their innermost thoughts and feelings? There are a number of different reasons:

Some people are brought up from childhood to believe that it’s a sign of WEAKNESS to show your emotions, or to talk too much about your feelings. They are suffering from the classic British condition of “the stiff upper lip”! Consequently, they have never developed the ability to talk meaningfully with another person. They have never learned how to share openly with someone else and they have difficulty finding the words to say.

Others are fearful of exposing what they feel or think. They do not want to run the risk of being rejected or hurt if someone else disagrees with them.

Others have the attitude that talking won’t do any good, so why bother? They may have tried at some point to get through to another person, and it didn’t work, so they stopped trying altogether.

Some people do not believe that they, as a person, have anything to offer. They do not think that their ideas are worthwhile. They have a low opinion of themselves, and as a result, they withhold their comments and personal feelings.

Hangups and fears such as these keep us at a shallow level of communication. But if we can be freed from these negative and restrictive attitudes, then we can move to deeper, more meaningful levels. There are many different levels of communication between people, ranging from shallow cliches and chit-chat to deep personal honesty and baring of the soul.

 
LEVELS OF COMMUNICATION:

TALKING IN CLICHES is the most common type of communication between people. This type of talk is very safe! We exchange niceties such as, “How are you?”, “How is your family?”, “Where have you been?”, “I like your dress!” etc. In this type of conversation there is no personal sharing. Each person can remain safely hidden behind his screen.

Then there’s the type of conversation in which we simply REPORT FACTS. In this kind of conversation we share gossip and the news of the day, but we don’t commit ourselves as to how we FEEL about them.

“Did you hear about Joy? She’s pregnant again.”

“Really? That reminds me. I think the cat is about to have her kittens.”

But REAL communication begins when we’re willing to step out of our solitary confinement and risk telling others of our IDEAS AND DECISIONS and how we FEEL about them! If a person is to really SHARE himself with another individual, then he must get to the level of SHARING HIS PERSONAL FEELINGS. Sharing heart-to-heart, and not just superficially, helps draw people closer together, and makes us more honest and humble. All deep relationships, especially marriages, must be based on this kind of openness and honesty in order to succeed and grow.

“I really have something on my mind that I need to talk to you about, John!”

“Sure! Let’s go for a little walk together! I always appreciate these times when we can share heart-to-heart.”

 
HOW TO HELP OTHERS OPEN UP MORE!

Most people who are very quiet and withdrawn don’t really want to be that way. They know they NEED to be freer and they don’t really WANT to stay behind their walls, but they need SOMEBODY to be LOVING and UNDERSTANDING enough to help pull it OUT of them. If you’re INTERESTED in people and you LOVE them, then YOU need to learn how to get them to come OUT of themselves and try to respond and to communicate. (Proverbs 20:5; Isaiah 50:4a)

One way to do this is to gently probe and ask specific QUESTIONS. “Well, what do you mean by that? Could you explain that to me?” And if they were to say, “Well, I’d like to but I don’t want to get involved”, you could ask something like, “Well, WHY don’t you want to get involved?” With most people, if you really probe and question and really press them, then usually they’ll eventually come out of themselves and be more specific because they WANT to. They just NEED HELP!

 
THE “SILENT SUFFERERS”:

There are also the “silent sufferers”! Those who hold their feelings and emotions in and suffer in silence because they don’t expect that others would want to listen to all their problems and woes! To suffer in silence is, in a way, admirable, that they are able to take it and suffer on their own. But wouldn’t it be better if they would just honestly ASK for HELP and PRAYER? When you’re suffering in silence, it just makes everybody miserable, because they can usually sense that you’re suffering and that something is wrong, and they become worried about you. They don’t know if you’re upset or angry at them or sick or what! Granted, in some cases it is better to BEAR troubles rather than BARE them! (Galatians 6:5). But in MOST cases, it’s much more healthy just to let it all spill out and let others help you! (Galatians 6:2; James 5:16) It prevents a lot of misunderstandings and gets you some PRAYER and SYMPATHY and all the things that you need and would probably like to have when you’re feeling down! (Proverbs 12:25; 27:9)

In fact, lots of times it really helps to talk about the things you’re going through, even if the person you’re talking to DOESN’T have any solution! Often a person will say, “Oh, it just really helped to talk about it, just to get it sorted out in my mind”. Of course, for a Christian, one of the MAIN benefits of sharing your heart with others is that you can ask them to PRAY with you. You can ask for prayer, and that does a LOT of good! “One can chase a thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight!” (Deuteronomy 32:30)

 
COMMUNICATION WITH GOD:

One thing that is sure to help our communication with others is if we have good communication with GOD. What kind of level do we communicate with JESUS on? Do we strip away all cover-ups and honestly lay our hearts bare before Him? Or are we like the native woman with the bundle of dirty washing? She had taken it to the riverside with the purpose of washing it, but was ashamed to open it for fear someone would see how dirty it was! So she just plunged the whole bundle into the water, joggled it up and down several times, and then took it home. Wet, but still dirty!

Are we ashamed to bare our hearts before the Lord and others, for fear that they will see what a mess we are? Jesus knows our hearts, He knows our faults and weaknesses and He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY the way we ARE, and not the way WE think we OUGHT to be. (Psalm 139:4) He’s just waiting for us to open our hearts to Him so that He can “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9)

As we surrender and open up our lives to JESUS and tell Him everything on our hearts, we will find it easier to open up to OTHERS! When we KNOW that Jesus accepts and loves us in spite of OUR failures and defects, then this helps us to accept and love and have compassion on OTHERS. This then leads to a desire and a willingness to lend them a sympathetic ear and to want to share our hearts with them and give them the same answers that WE have found in JESUS!

So if you have problems and you have something on your heart, get it out in the open! Talk about it with someone you love and trust! You’ll never have any chance of dealing with the matter unless you get it OUT! There would be far fewer misunderstandings in the World if people would just honestly and openly communicate with one another and be more open about themselves! It may be a little difficult at first, but if you work at it, it becomes much easier! The Lord always seems to bless HONESTY and GOOD COMMUNICATION! And maybe He wants to bless YOU for it too! Why don’t you TRY it and see?

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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Be Enthusiastic!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-anchorIf there’s anything that catches people’s attention and causes them to take notice of what you’re saying or doing, it’s enthusiasm! The word enthusiasm is derived from two Greek words: en, which means in, and theos, which means God. So enthusiasm literally means “in God,” or “God in us.” Thus the truly enthusiastic person is one who acts and speaks as if he were possessed by God.

God’s Word tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord!” (Romans 12:11 NIV)

The same driving passion, the same irresistible compassion that motivated the apostles and martyrs and every great man or woman of God throughout the ages should motivate every child of God in everything they do, everything they say, everywhere they go, with everybody. The apostle Paul summed it up in these few famous and ringing words which have cried out from the heart of every true Christian in every true good deed he has ever done, and for which indeed he is willing to die: “The love of Christ compels us!” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Regardless of what you may lack in the way of natural talents, abilities, or even material goods, if you obey God’s Word and let Him live in you and through you so that your heart burns with His love, then He will be able to greatly use you and make you a blessing to many.

As a young man, David Livingstone faced an important decision. “I have found that I have no unusual endowments of intellect,” he wrote in his diary, “but this day I resolve that I will be an uncommon Christian.” He “purposed in his heart” to give his all to the Lord, and determined to become an enthusiast for the truth—and he was! He became one of the greatest missionaries the world has ever known.

The British historian Arnold Toynbee said, “Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.”

What greater ideal could anyone have than to bring everlasting salvation and eternal heavenly life to a lost and dying world that is perishing without it? And what better “intelligible plan” could anyone have than that given by Jesus to His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”? (Mark 16:15) As Christians, we should be the most enthusiastic people in the entire world!

The apostle Paul was another of God’s great enthusiasts. Even before his conversion, he showed a great deal of enthusiasm—though with the wrong ideal and the wrong plan.

But as soon as Paul’s eyes were opened, he became an enthusiast for the right side. When others saw his total dedication and enthusiasm for the Lord, they got on fire for God too. The work he started spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

Nothing could quench Paul’s enthusiasm. At one point he testified, “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day [adrift] in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from the Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers! I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11:24–27 NIV) Did Paul let these difficulties and obstacles stop him? No! He went right on serving God no matter what hardships or difficulties befell him.

Nothing can stop the man who is on fire for God. He will keep going no matter what, because he knows he is doing the right thing for the right cause and for the One who is always right!

So where do we get such enthusiasm, this inspiration that fills a life with fire and fervor for the Lord? From the Holy Spirit of God! The Bible says, “Our God is a consuming fire,” (Hebrews 12:29) and repeatedly compares His Spirit to a fire or flames of fire. (See Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3–4; Revelation 4:5) So if you want to be enthusiastic for the Lord, full of His fiery anointing and inspiration, just pray and ask Him to fill you with the power of His Holy Spirit, and He will.

Someone once asked a great man of God what was the secret of his success, and he replied, “I just get on fire for God, and the world comes out to see me burn!”

As Christians, our hearts should be so full of the love of Jesus that we want to overflow and share it with others. You’ve got to be alive and enthusiastic to be able to show others that what you’ve got with Jesus is better than what they’ve got without Him.

Why did people listen to Jesus? Jesus spoke from His heart, from the Spirit, and it brought life; it moved people. It didn’t just tickle their ears, but it reached and touched their hearts. He said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) The words the scribes and the Pharisees (the religious leaders of Jesus’ day) spoke were well-educated, but they were dry and dead and only brought death. Why? Because they only spoke from their heads.

That’s the difference! You cannot kindle a fire in any other heart until it is burning within your own.

Of course, we should not only be enthusiastic in presenting the gospel to others, but in everything we do. Whatever task is set before us, the Bible tells us we’re to “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23) In everything you do, even the most menial tasks, you can be happy, inspired, and full of enthusiasm. If you’re asking the Lord to inspire you, He will give you that divine spark of His Spirit that will make every little task a joy!

Let’s get on fire for God by earnestly praying and faithfully reading His Word. Let’s ask for His Spirit to inspire us with the vision of the great things He wants to do through us. And then let’s do our part by putting our whole heart into whatever He asks us to do for Him and others.

Come, let’s set the world afire for God and enlighten the hearts of all men everywhere! “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

 
 

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