Can You Tame Your Tongue?

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Have you ever thought much about your tongue? It’s really an amazing little member! It’s such a wee, small thing, only about three or four inches long and a couple of inches wide, yet it can cause complete havoc and wreck your whole day and your relationships with others if it gets loose! Of all the weapons of warfare, the tongue has been the most destructive!–That is, a tongue out of control, an unkind tongue, a bitter tongue, a tongue that says harsh critical things and lashes out at others.

When a bad tongue is turned loose, EVERYBODY suffers! As the Bible says, “The tongue is a small part of the body, but what great damage it can do! Consider how a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a flame of fire, full of wickedness among the parts of the body! It can corrupt the whole person, set the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell!” (James 3:5,6).

But on the other hand, “A WHOLESOME tongue is a tree of LIFE.” (Proverbs 15:4). Your tongue can be inspired by HEAVEN instead of being set afire by Hell! You can comfort, strengthen, encourage, inspire and uplift others with your tongue by speaking words of love, wisdom and encouragement!–GOD’S Words!

Solomon said, “The tongue has the power of LIFE and DEATH.” (Proverbs 18:21). Think of that! The words formed by your tongue are REAL THINGS! They can BLESS or CURSE, they can lift up or knock down, they can save or damn! The old saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, is not true at all! Some time ago a girl named Jesse Pepper, 18 years of age, was convicted of manslaughter because through her malicious gossip about a girl by the name of Mary Ellen, Mary Ellen was so hurt and discouraged that she committed suicide! It was called a “gossip slaying” because Mary took her life as a result of the gossip.

That’s an extreme example, of course, but honestly now, is it THAT extreme? Have there ever been times when you’ve felt so LOW and DISCOURAGED that you felt like DYING because of someone’s cruel, unkind words? Or maybe YOU have wounded someone ELSE that way! Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty at some time or another of dealing blows with our words, and there’s been many a time when we have wounded someone with our tongue. Maybe unintentionally, maybe intended in fun, but unkind just the same, leaving a wound in someone’s heart.

What a pity that we should ever wound a heart that may already be close to breaking, that may already be carrying a heavy burden that we don’t know anything about! Maybe at that very moment they were longing for some kind word of encouragement, but instead our cutting words wounded deeply and left an ugly scar.

As the words to this old poem say:

“If I knew that a word of mine,
A word not kind and true,
Might leave its trace
On a loved one’s face,
I don’t think I’d speak it,
Would YOU?

If I knew the sting of a word
Might linger and leave its mark,
With a deep dark scar
On a loved one’s heart,
I don’t think I’d speak that word,
Would YOU?”

But sadly, we often DO, and it only takes one sentence hastily spoken to start things going wrong, doesn’t it? So how can we guard against that thoughtless unkind word that can leap so quickly from the lips? What can we do to tame our tongues? Well, try as we may, there’s often nothing much that we can do! The Bible says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man. But NO man can tame the TONGUE!” (James 3:8). Only GOD can tame it! For “with MAN it is IMPOSSIBLE, but with GOD, ALL things are POSSIBLE” (Matthew 19:26), even the control of our tongues! That’s the ONLY way to tame the tongue, by allowing GOD to change our HEARTS, “for out of the abundance of the HEART the MOUTH SPEAKS.” (Matthew 12:34). If your heart is overflowing with God’s Love, then the words of your mouth will be filled with love and tender compassion, because “God IS Love!” (1John 4:8).

There’s only one way to change the untamed tongue, and that is to change the SPIRIT that CONTROLS it! You can never control it yourself. JESUS is the only true source of love, kindness, goodness and sweetness, and as you allow Jesus to take control of your life, He also takes control of your tongue. His Spirit in you will inspire you and even speak through you His wonderful words of love, light and life!

Do you faithfully read and study God’s Word? His Words can’t very well abide in you unless you read them, can they? Do you take time for prayer, spending time loving Jesus and waiting in His presence? If you don’t do this, then your words will lack the power, inspiration and life that only HE can give! “There is a spirit in Man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding.” (Job 32:8). But if you neglect to spend time with Him, your words will come out as insincere, powerless and spiritually dead. Or even worse, they’ll be sharp, cutting, unkind and cold, because they don’t come from a surrendered heart that’s overflowing with God’s LOVE!

Your tone of voice can’t have love or sweetness in it if there’s no sweetness or love in your HEART. There’ll be an emptiness, a hollowness, and people will be able to sense it. Jesus teaches that our words reveal the characters of our hearts. How TRUE that is! WHATEVER the quality of your heart, it will be reflected in your words. If your SOUL is shallow, superficial, egotistical and mean, all those qualities are going to permeate your WORDS as they flow from your lips.

But if the HOLY SPIRIT has possession of your heart, the words spoken will be clear, kind and filled with love and light! There will be no deceit, sham or double meaning. Your words will have a magnetic drawing quality, and a rare warmth that will draw others to them. And when your heart is on fire with Jesus’ Love, you don’t need to TRY to put tenderness or sympathy into your voice. It will just BE there naturally! Your words will have a divine spark of life and power in them that can only come from the inner depths of the Holy Spirit living within you!

The Bible says, “A man has joy in giving an apt reply, and a word spoken in due season (just at the right time), how GOOD it is!” (Proverbs 15:23). And, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver!” (Proverbs 25:11). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to spontaneously speak words of love and encouragement and helpfulness to those who need them at just the right moment and just the right way, with lasting effect? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to speak words of faith and comfort that will be eternally written in others’ memories and bear an abundance of good fruit in their lives? Then just open your heart to JESUS, yield yourself completely to Him, and ask Him to come in and fill you with His Holy Spirit!

Then read His WORD, the BIBLE, and bury the most beautiful, loving and profound Words in the World deep into your heart so that they will be able to flow forth upon others! Then you’re BOUND to speak with love because “God IS Love!” (1John 4:8). “He who believes in Me, out from his innermost being, streams and rivers of LIVING WATER shall flow continuously!” (John 7:38). Such wonderful words of life and love flow from the tongue of the one who has surrendered his heart to Jesus!–Have YOU?

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Born Again!–Are You?

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Jesus came to try to make Salvation as EASY as He possibly could!–And that’s why the Religionists crucified Him, that’s why they killed Him, because the Church System of the day as good as said it couldn’t be done without THEM, without following all of their complicated laws, traditions & religious rigmarole!

But Jesus came and showed them that they didn’t have to go to church on Sunday–or Saturday or Friday or any other day of the week! They didn’t have to follow the Church laws and rules and regulations and the Ten Commandments and all the rest. All they had to do was simply confess that they were sinners and needed Salvation and ask Jesus to give it to them!

The whole idea is so simple and so childlike that Jesus said that you must become as a LITTLE CHILD to enter God’s spiritual Kingdom of love, joy and happiness here and now in this life–as well as a beautiful, wonderful and thrilling Eternity in His Heavenly Kingdom in the next life! He said, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven!”, and “Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he cannot see or understand the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 18:3; John 3:3).

Of course, nobody can really FULLY understand Salvation.–That’s why Jesus said that you must be like a little child and just accept it by faith! The Bible says that the love and peace of God “PASSES all understanding”. (Ephesians 3:19; Philippians 4:7). It’s a love which passes your understanding and lands right down in your heart!–You don’t have to understand all about God to know His wonderful love and Salvation in Jesus. All you have to do is RECEIVE it! Don’t try to FIGURE Him OUT–just LET Him IN! It’s just that simple!

Jesus said, “I am the DOOR”–into His Father’s House, the Kingdom of God–“by ME, if any man enter in, he shall be SAVED.” (John 10:9). So if you want to get to Heaven, you need to walk through JESUS, the open Door. All you have to do is believe in the Door, walk through it by faith, receive Jesus into your heart, and you’re saved!–You’ve entered the Heavenly sphere of Salvation, Heaven on Earth, the Kingdom of God!

The Bible tells us that “God is LOVE”! (1John 4:8). And what did God do to prove that He is Love, that He loves us?–“God so loved the WORLD”–you and I–“that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). God loved you so much that He gave His Own Son, Jesus, to suffer for your sins. Jesus is the manifestation of God’s Love for us.

“Oh, why can’t you just leave JESUS out of it?” some people ask. “Why do you have to use that name? Why does He always have to be the symbol? Why can’t you just say GOD, and speak of God only? Then we could accept it much easier, if you wouldn’t insist on using that Name of JESUS!”

“Well,” I usually reply, “why NOT?” If He really IS God’s Son and God has chosen Jesus to reveal Himself to the World and to show His Love, then God Himself has insisted on it!–“Love Me, love My Son!” These are GOD’S conditions, not ours. “Whosoever denieth the SON, the same hath NOT the FATHER: But he that hath the Son hath the Father also.” (1John 2:23). Jesus Himself said, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but by ME!” (John 14:6).

So all you need for Salvation is Jesus! We can’t even comprehend God the Father, He’s too great a concept for us to even DREAM of! “As high as the Heavens are above the Earth, so high are His ways above our ways and His thoughts above our thoughts; and even the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain Him”! (Isaiah 55:9; 1Kings 8:27). None of us can really grasp how great and how marvellous and how wonderful God our Father is, far beyond the mind of man and our wildest imaginations, for He and His Spirit surpass the whole Universe! But He has stooped to send us His Son, Jesus, to SHOW us what HE Himself is like.

This then, is the MOST important will of God for you: that you recognise Jesus as the Son of God and believe on Him as your Saviour and receive His Love and forgiveness and gift of Eternal Life from God!

WHY do you need to be forgiven?–Because we are all sinners. The Bible says, “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. For the WAGES of sin is DEATH, but the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Romans 3:23;6:23).

So we must first confess that we know we’re sinners. But some folks say, “Well, I’M pretty good! God will surely give me credit for being pretty good, at least a lot better than many others!”–No, I’m sorry, that’s not good enough! Because you can’t go to Heaven unless you’re PERFECT, and NOBODY’S perfect!

The King James Version of the Bible says that “all our OWN righteousness is as filthy rags”. (Isaiah 64:6). In the original Hebrew, this passage literally says that our own self-righteousness, our own goodness, is like “filthy menstruous rags”.–That’s how God looks on the so-called “good” people, those who pride themselves in being better than others: “I’m good! I don’t do this, I don’t do that, I don’t do so-and-so!” What we all need to do is just honestly admit, “I’m just no good! I’m bad, of course I make mistakes!”

THAT’S why Jesus died, because we’re all sinners and it’s impossible for any of us to be good enough, it’s impossible for us to keep God’s perfect laws like the Ten Commandments.–It’s just IMPOSSIBLE! Only JESUS is perfect and that’s why only He could pay the price for our sins and God could forgive us, because HE took OUR punishment FOR us. That’s why He could give us Salvation as a GIFT, because we could never earn it or deserve it ourselves.

It’s just like a PARDON: God has offered pardon to the guilty, and it doesn’t matter HOW bad you are or WHAT you’ve done–it doesn’t matter to God! If you’ll just humbly confess that you’re a sinner and ask Him to forgive you and take Jesus into your heart, He’ll save you!

You couldn’t lift yourself up by your own bootstraps, you couldn’t save yourself, you couldn’t be good enough, it’s IMPOSSIBLE! We CANNOT save OURSELVES by our own WORKS, our own goodness, our own attempts to keep His laws and to love Him, or even our own endeavours to find and follow His Truth! Salvation is a GIFT of God!

“For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that NOT of YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT of God!–NOT of WORKS, lest any man should boast!” (Ephesians 2:8,9). You cannot save yourself no matter HOW good you try to be! You can’t be good enough, you can’t be perfect enough to earn, merit or deserve the Heavenly perfection of His Own Holy Salvation by His Own grace, love and mercy!

There’s nothing you can do to get it except just RECEIVE it by FAITH!–That’s all! You can’t be good enough, you can’t work hard enough, you can’t get it on your own no matter HOW hard you try! You just have to humble yourself and admit that you don’t deserve it, that you’re just a lost sinner, and that there’s no other way for you to make it to Heaven except by the grace of God! Salvation is purely a GIFT, and all we have to do is just believe and receive it, nothing else!

But many people are too PROUD to accept a gift, they want to WORK for everything they receive. In fact, that is the belief of most religions, that if you’re good enough and you follow all their rules and rituals and regulations, etc., then YOU can save YOURSELF. But that’s a lie! No amount of religious rigmarole or church-going or masses or services or prayers or anything else is going to save you!–Only JESUS saves! “NOT by works of righteousness which WE have done, but according to His MERCY He saved us.” (Titus 3:5).

Only JESUS can free us from sin and its power and its condemnation!–“For if we CONFESS our sins, He is faithful and just to FORGIVE us our sins, and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness! For the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from ALL sin!” (1John 1:9,7).

God will forgive you for EVERY sin in the book, except ONE, and that’s rejecting JESUS!–His Word calls that “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”, the Spirit of Truth. (Mark 3:28,29). The only unpardonable sin is the sin of rejecting the Holy Ghost, of refusing to heed the Voice of God and of spurning His Love and His Salvation in Jesus. This, He says, won’t be forgiven in this life, nor even in the World to come. (Matthew 12:32).

So the great condemnation is not that men are ALREADY sinful, which God CAN forgive and DOES forgive if we receive His pardon through His Son. But the great condemnation is rejecting Jesus Christ!–“THIS is the condemnation, that Light is come into the World, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).

But if you COME to the Light, Jesus, “the Light of the World” (John 8:12), “there is no CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), to them that have received Christ and His forgiveness! The Lord says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will abundantly pardon. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow! Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool!” (Isaiah 55:7;1:18).

You can start all over with the Lord! When you let Jesus into your life, He will “blot out your sins as a cloud, and as a thick cloud, He’ll put them behind His back, and will remember them against you no more.” (Isaiah 44:22;38:17; Hebrews 8:12).

And once you have received Jesus, you cannot lose Him, He will never cast you out! “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in NO WISE cast out.” (John 6:37). If you have Jesus, if you have the Lord, then you have life, ETERNAL Life, and you can never lose Eternal Life!

Salvation is FOREVER! Once saved, you are ALWAYS saved, because God cannot lie or go back on His Word! God doesn’t change His mind! Once you’ve received Jesus Christ and you believe on Him as your Saviour, you are a saved child of God and you’re going to live FOREVER! Once you are “born again” as His child, you will ALWAYS be His child! You can’t be unborn!

“He that believeth on the Son HATH Everlasting Life.” (John 3:36).–Right NOW! No ifs, ands or buts about it! It doesn’t say you’re GOING to have it, it says you HAVE it right NOW!–“HATH everlasting life!” It wouldn’t be EVERLASTING if it only lasted a few minutes, till your next evil thought or next evil deed, as a lot of misguided preachers and churches teach!

How can you be saved and unsaved, saved and unsaved, 100 times a day like some of these poor, ignorant Christians believe? They say, “Well, I won’t know if I’m going to make it to Heaven until I’m dead and the Lord balances up and measures all my good deeds against my bad deeds. If the good ones outweigh the bad ones, well then maybe I’ll make it.” They never really know when or where they stand or how or if or what! It’s enough to make a nervous wreck out of you, and that’s what a lot of them wind up becoming–nervous wrecks!

But thank God, “They that BELIEVE have entered into REST!” (Hebrews 4:3). We can have REST and PEACE of mind, knowing that we don’t have to worry about whether we’re good enough or if we’ve been too bad or if we’re going to make it or not, every day wondering whether we’re going to be saved or not.–We KNOW we are, if we’ve received Jesus!

True, you can keep yourself in His WILL and in line with His BLESSINGS by obeying the Lord, doing His work, being fruitful and so on. But you can’t keep yourself SAVED! JESUS did that once and forever, and His gift is ETERNAL Life! If your Salvation is not ETERNAL Salvation, it’s not Salvation! If you’re not saved FOREVER, you’re not saved!

GRACE plus FAITH plus NOTHING!–THAT’S Salvation! You don’t have to be good to GET saved and you don’t have to be good to STAY saved! But this does not mean that you can just live as you please once you are saved. If you commit sins against the Lord and others which are unconfessed, unrepented of and not made right, you will suffer for them in some way, “for whom the Lord LOVETH, He CHASTENETH, and scourgeth every SON whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6). But even if you are disobedient, rebellious and chastened of the Lord for your sins, if you are saved, you’ll ALWAYS be saved!

Once you have received Jesus into your heart, that’s it!–You’re saved FOREVER! He doesn’t keep popping in and out of your heart! He is there to STAY! He says, “Lo, I am with you ALWAYS, even unto the end of the World! I will NEVER leave thee nor forsake thee. For I give unto them ETERNAL life; and they shall NEVER perish, neither shall ANY man pluck them out of My hand!” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; John 10:28).

So thank the Lord that we can be saved and KNOW it! And of course, if you really are, you’ll SHOW it too. You’ll no longer be like everybody else, you’ll be DIFFERENT! You’ll be a “NEW CREATURE in Christ Jesus: old things will be passed away; behold, all things will become new!” (2Corinthians 5:17).

When you receive Jesus, your whole life will be changed like a newborn baby born into a whole new World with a new spirit as a new child of God! So don’t be surprised if you actually FEEL different and even THINK differently and are happier than you have ever been before! Jesus said it is like being born again, becoming a new person, much better and happier than ever before!–With an utterly different outlook on life, a new way of looking at the World. (John 3:1-8).

It’s impossible for men to really change themselves, but it’s possible for GOD to change ANYONE! It’s never possible for US to change our hearts, it’s only possible for us to ASK. And when Jesus comes into your heart, everything is changed–EVERYTHING! You are a “new creature”, a new creation in Christ Jesus!

If you’re not changed, you don’t have Jesus, because He changes people! No matter how good you are, He’ll make you BETTER! YOU don’t have anything to do with it, all you do is ask Him to come in and HE does it all! So expect things to be DIFFERENT!–Not totally different perhaps, as you’re still human, you’re still in the flesh. But you’ll find a change in your spirit, in your thoughts, in your heart and in your direction. You’ll be HAPPY and overflowing with LOVE! Because if you have JESUS, you have LOVE!–For “God IS Love!” (1John 4:8).

Do YOU have Jesus? Have you taken Him into your own heart and been born again by His Spirit? Has His Love changed your life and made you a new person, a new creature, “old things passed away and all things become new”? You don’t have to walk down to an altar, you don’t have to stand up, sit down, turn over, stand on your hands, or pray in this position or that position.–It has nothing to do with the position of your body or your eyes or your head! It’s all in how you position your HEART! If your heart is humble before God and you know you’re a sinner and need His help, all you have to do is ASK Him into your life!

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man HEAR My voice, and OPEN the door, I WILL come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus’ Love is all-powerful, but He doesn’t FORCE you to receive it. He simply ASKS to come in, and you have to INVITE Him. That is the limitation He has set and the condition He requires: You have to open your heart’s door and LET Him come in.

So please take Him now! He WANTS to give you His love and peace and happiness, but He can’t unless YOU want Him to. You have to ASK Him to come in. Jesus stands there, meek and mild, in loving patience, and perhaps has been for years, waiting at your heart’s door.–Knocking again and again by His Word, by His Love, perhaps by some sad incident or the parting of a loved one, a death or sickness or pain. But God has left the majesty of choice up to YOU, and nobody can ever force you to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour! You alone can make that decision, if and when you want to. He’s left that choice up to YOU!

Do you have God’s Love through Jesus Christ in YOUR heart?–Then you are SAVED FOREVER and bound for HEAVEN and will never be lost! Are YOU saved?–If you’re not SURE, make sure right NOW and RECEIVE Him PERSONALLY as your OWN LORD and SAVIOUR by sincerely praying this simple prayer:

“Lord Jesus, please forgive me for all my sins. I believe You died for me. I believe You are the Son of God, and I now ask You to come into my life. I open the door and I invite You, Jesus, to please come into my heart. Help me to love You and to love others by telling them about You and Your Love. Help me to read Your Word and understand it by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!” (Acts 16:31). God BLESS you with His LOVE and SALVATION!–NOW and FOREVER!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

The Blessings of Giving!

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W. L. Douglas, the shoe manufacturer, is nationally known. From his early struggling years comes this story. He had been unemployed so long that he was down to his last dollar. Nevertheless, he put half of it–fifty cents–in the collection basket of his church. Next morning he heard of a job in a neighbouring town. The railroad fare to that town was one dollar. To all appearances it would have been wiser if he had kept that 50 cents. However, with the half dollar remaining he bought a ticket and rode half way to the desired place. He stepped from the train and began to walk to the town.

Before he had gone one block he heard of a factory right in that town where they were employing men. Within 30 minutes he had a job at a salary five dollars more a week than he would have received had he gone on to the other town.

*

A good analysis of our finances is not how much of my money do I give to God, but how much of God’s money do I keep for myself.

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The Christian who tithes will be surprised:

  1. At the amount of money he has for the Lord’s work.
  2. At the deepening of his spiritual life in paying the tithe.
  3. At the ease in meeting his own obligations with the nine-tenths.
  4. At the ease in going from one-tenth to a larger percentage.
  5. At the preparation this gives to be a faithful and wise steward over the nine-tenths remaining.
  6. At himself for not adopting the plan sooner!

*

A. A. Hyde, a millionaire manufacturer, said he began tithing when he was one hundred thousand dollars in debt! Many men have said they considered it dishonest to give God a tenth of their incomes while they were in debt. Mr. Hyde said he agreed with the thought until one day it flashed upon him that God was his first creditor. Then he began paying God first, and all the other creditors were eventually paid in full.

If a man owes you money, it would be wise business policy on your part to encourage him to pay his debt to God first!

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Once when Mr. LaGuardia, the famous ex-mayor of New York, was presiding at a police court, they brought a trembling old man before him charged with stealing a loaf of bread. He said his family was starving. “Well, I’ve got to punish you,” said Mr. LaGuardia. “The law makes no exception, and I can do nothing but sentence you to a fine of ten dollars.”

Then he added, after reaching into his pocket, “and here’s the ten dollars to pay your fine. And now I remit the fine.” Then, tossing the ten-dollar bill into his famous outsize hat, he said, “Furthermore, I’m going to fine everybody in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a man has to steal bread in order to eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines, and give them to this defendant.”

The hat was passed, and an incredulous old man, with a light of Heaven in his eyes, left the courtroom with 47 dollars and fifty cents.

*

A man had a dream in which God said to him, “I have decided how much your income will be each week. I will observe how much you give to Me each week and then I will provide for you an income of exactly ten times that amount.”

Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.

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In the fourth century, Augustine, in a harvest sermon, said: “Our forefathers abounded in plenty because they gave God the tithe and to Caesar tribute. But now, because our devotion has receded, the imposition of taxes has advanced. We are unwilling to share with God, giving Him the tenth, and now, behold…a tax gatherer takes from us that which God receives not.”

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Money MEASURES men. It measures their capacity and their consecration. In some instances money MASTERS men. They become its slaves. In other instances, money MULTIPLIES men. Through the ministry of the money given by such men, missionaries have carried the Gospel to every continent. The Gospel is preached in thousands of pulpits, and tomorrow’s leaders are taught and trained.

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I was preaching one night when at the close of a service a well-dressed man approached me and said, “Dr. Smith, I owe you everything I have in life.” I looked at him in amazement. Then he told me this story.

“I was down and out,” he began. “I had lost my job. My wife and two daughters had left me. I was dressed in rags. One day I happened to stroll into the People’s Church during one of your Missionary Conventions. You were speaking, and you were making some of the most astounding statements I had ever heard in my life. You were saying, ‘You cannot beat God giving. Give and it shall be given unto you. Square with God and God will square with you.’ I sat up and listened.

“Just to test your sincerity,” he continued, “I filled in one of your cards, promising to give God a certain percentage of all He might give me. That, of course, was easy because I had nothing. To my amazement, within a few hours, I got a job. When I received my first pay, I sent in the amount I had promised. Before long I got a raise. Then I contributed more. Soon I had a new suit of clothes. In due time I got a better job. Presently my wife and daughters came back to me. I continued giving.–Before long, all my debts were paid. Now,” he exclaimed, “I own my own home here in Minneapolis and I have money in the bank. All that I owe to you. I found that you were right. I discovered that God was as good as His Word.”

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There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money.–“How much of my money shall I use for God?” Or, “How much of God’s money shall I use for myself?”

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A well-to-do lady who had become a Christian late in life was one time walking along the city street accompanied by her granddaughter. Presently a beggar accosted them. The old lady listened to his tale and then, putting her hand in her purse, took out a half-dollar and placed it in his palm. At the next corner a woman of the Salvation Army was waiting and the old lady dropped a dollar in her kettle.

As she did so her granddaughter looked at her curiously and then said: “Grandma, I guess you have lost a good deal since you have become a Christian, haven’t you?” “Yes,” said the old lady, “I have. I have lost a hasty temper, a habit of criticising others, a tendency to spend all my spare time in social frivolities and pleasures that mean nothing. I have also lost a spirit of avarice and selfishness. Yes, indeed, I have lost a good deal.”

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If you don’t give away something God wants you to give, you don’t own it–it owns you.

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The tithe is not meant to be a ceiling at which we stop giving, but a floor from which we start.

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

The Argument Against Arguments!

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A boy once asked his father, “Dad, how do wars begin?”

“Well, take the First World War,” said his father. “That got started when Germany invaded Belgium.”

Immediately his wife interrupted him, “Tell the boy the truth! It began because somebody was assassinated!”

The husband drew himself up with an air of superiority and snapped back, “Are you answering the question or am I?”

Turning her back upon him in a huff, the wife stormed out the room and slammed the door as hard as she could! When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard an uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the boy: “Daddy, you don’t have to tell me how wars begin; I KNOW now!”

Arguing! We all do it sometimes! We all know what it is to walk away from an argument with the mouth dry, tummy in a knot, head hot and spinning, and heart sick–wishing that it had never happened, deeply regretting the unkind words that were said! Believe it or not, more homes are destroyed by arguments than by fires or funerals!

We all know that arguing for the sake of arguing is a pointless waste of time! We have absolutely NOTHING to gain, and our time, energy and someone’s friendship to LOSE! It’s said that the only people who really LISTEN to an argument are the neighbors! What do you get out of an argument? Exactly what you put into it–a lot of hot air! So what can we do to avoid them? Or, once an argument has started, what can we do to stop it? Or if already over, what can we do to make amends? We’re going to explore these questions!

 
THE BENEFITS OF NOT ARGUING!

Some people love to argue, and will do anything to prove a point! They’d rather lose a friend than an argument! For others, arguing has become a HABIT, an automatic reaction of saying something contradictory to whatever is being said!

One compulsive arguer was the early American statesman, philosopher and author, Benjamin Franklin. As a youth he loved nothing more than a good argument until a close friend took him aside and said, “Ben, you are impossible! Your opinions have a slap in them for everyone who differs with you! Your friends enjoy themselves better when you are not around! You think you KNOW so much that no one can TELL you anything. Indeed, no one is going to try, for the effort would only lead to discomfort and hard work! So you are not likely ever to know any more than you do now–which is actually very LITTLE!”

Ben Franklin was BIG enough and WISE enough to accept these stinging truths, and to realise that he was headed for failure and social disaster! So he immediately began to change his bigoted, argumentative ways! He became one of the best loved, wisest and most diplomatic men in American history, and was actually remembered for saying:

“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes. But it will be an empty victory, because you will never get your opponent’s good will!”

 
YOU CAN’T WIN AN ARGUMENT!

NO ONE ever really wins an argument! You can shout and scream and argue until you’re blue in the face, but people are not going to believe that you are right unless they WANT to believe it! And even if they would LIKE to agree with you, your tone may have put them so much on the defensive that it would be like an utter humiliation, defeat on the battlefield, for them to confess you’re right or even partly right! And remember, no amount of logic or argument will make anyone change his mind if he doesn’t want to! Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each side more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right!

You can’t win an argument, because if you lose it, you lose it!–And if you WIN it, you LOSE it! Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other person and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he’s an absolute idiot. Then what? You’ll feel fine, smug and satisfied. But what about him? You’ll have made him feel inferior. You’ve hurt his pride. He may resent your triumph, and–“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still!”

The “Boston Transcript” once printed this little poem:

“Here lies the body of William Jay,
Who died maintaining his right of way!
He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong!”

You may be right, dead right, as you speed along in your argument, but as far as changing someone else’s mind, it will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong! So which would you rather have?–An academic, theoretical victory or a person’s good will? You can seldom have both!

 
HOW TO WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING WITHOUT HAVING AN ARGUMENT!

In Aesop’s fables there’s a story about the sun and the wind. In the story the argumentative wind boasted to the sun that he was the stronger. The sun maintained that he was. So the wind said, “I’ll prove I am! See the old man down there with the coat? I’ll bet I can get his coat off of him quicker than you can!”

So the sun went behind a cloud, and the wind blew and blew until it was almost a tornado! But the HARDER it blew, the TIGHTER the old man clutched his coat to him! Finally the wind calmed down and gave up!

Then the sun came out from behind the cloud and SMILED KINDLY on the old man! And after awhile he mopped his brow and pulled off his coat! The sun had shown the wind that GENTLENESS and FRIENDLINESS are stronger than FURY and FORCE!

So, scolding parents, domineering bosses, husbands and nagging wives ought to realise that people usually don’t want to change their minds! They can’t be FORCED or driven to agree! But they may possibly be LED to, if we are gentle and friendly! Showing love and consideration can make people change their minds far more easily than all the bluster and storming in the World! The best way to get somebody to do something is by making them WANT to do it!

In his famous book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie tells this story: “Years ago Patrick J. O’Haire joined one of my classes. He had little education, and how he loved a scrap! He came to me because he had been trying, without much success, to sell trucks. A little questioning brought out the fact that he was continually scrapping with and antagonising the very people he was trying to do business with. If a person said anything derogatory about the trucks he was selling, Pat saw red and was right at the customer’s throat. Pat “won” a lot of arguments in those days. As he said to me afterward, `I often walked out of an office saying, I told that bird something. Sure, I had told him something, but I hadn’t sold him anything.’

“My first problem was not to teach Patrick J. O’Haire to talk. My immediate task was to train him to REFRAIN from talking and to avoid verbal fights.

“Mr. O’Haire eventually became a star salesmen for the White Motor Company in New York. How did he do it?–Here is his story: If I walk into a buyer’s office now & he says, What? A White truck? They’re no good! I wouldn’t take one of those if you gave it to me. I’m going to buy the Whose-It truck.’ I say, `The Whose-It is a good truck. If you buy the Whose-It, you’ll never make a mistake. The Whose-Its are made by a fine company and sold by good people.’

“He is speechless then. There is no room for argument. If he says the Whose-It is best and I say sure it is, he has to stop. He can’t keep on saying, It’s the best’, when I’m agreeing with him. We then get off the subject of Whose-It and I begin to talk about the good points of the White truck.

“`Before, a remark like his first one would have made me see scarlet and red and orange. I would start arguing against the Whose-It; and the more I argued against it, the more my customer argued in favor of it; and the more he argued, the more he sold himself on my competitor’s product.

“`As I look back now, I wonder how I was ever able to sell anything. I lost years of my life in scrapping and arguing. I keep my mouth shut now. It pays.'” So remember that if you want to convert someone to your way of thinking: Obnoxious arguing will often make the other person cling more firmly to his old position. You must first be willing to LISTEN to him and try to understand HIS point of view, before he will consider listening to YOURS! Then you must indirectly guide him towards discovering your point of view, rather than taking a bossy “THAT’S the way it is, take it or leave it” approach! As the great French mathematician, writer and Christian, Blaise Pascal, pointed out, “People are usually more convinced by reasons they discover themselves, than by those found by others!”

 
11 WAYS HOW NOT TO START AN ARGUMENT!

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”
–Proverbs 17:14

It’s been said that there’s only one way to get the best of an argument–to AVOID it! But how? How can we ensure that we ourselves are not the instigators of any unnecessary disputes?

(1) REALISE THAT YOU MAY NOT ALWAYS BE RIGHT. It’s POSSIBLE you might be wrong! Remember, there are three sides to every story!–YOUR side, MY side, and the whole TRUTH!–Which neither you nor I may FULLY see! As the Apostle Paul said, “We know that we ALL have knowledge. But knowledge (merely) puffs up, while love edifies. And if any man THINKS that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he OUGHT to know.” (1Corinthians 8:1-2).

(2) ADMIT VERBALLY AT THE START THAT YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING AND MAY BE WRONG! That’s one sure way to avoid an argument and inspire the other fellow to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are! It will make him want to admit that he, too, may be wrong! Jesus said, “Agree with thine adversary quickly.” (Matthew 5:25). In other words, don’t argue needlessly! Use a little LOVE and consideration and diplomacy!

So if someone makes a statement that you think is wrong–even that you KNOW is wrong–isn’t it better to begin by saying, “Well, now, look! I thought otherwise, but I am often wrong.–And if I’m wrong, I want to be put right. Let’s examine the facts.” No one in the whole wide World will ever object to your saying a magic phrase like, “I may be wrong. Let’s examine the facts!”

(3) NEVER TELL A PERSON STRAIGHT OUT YOU DON’T AGREE WITH HIM. Instead say, “Do you think it might be better done this way?” “Do you feel this would save you more time?” This way you’re telling a person in a COURTEOUS way what you think, and at the same time asking him to respond with his opinion or idea! Try it! It gets much better results than saying, “Do it THIS way, period!”

(4) SHOW RESPECT FOR THE OTHER PERSON’S OPINIONS. Try to see his point of view and understand his reasons for the views he holds! Never just bluntly, flat-out tell a man, “You’re wrong!”–And you can tell people that they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as emphatically as you can in words. And if you tell them that they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? No! For you have struck a direct blow at their judgement, their pride and their self-respect! That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds! As Lord Chesterfield said to his son, “Be wiser than other people, if you can. But do not tell THEM that you are!”

(5) NEVER BEGIN A DISCUSSION BY ANNOUNCING, “I’M GOING TO PROVE SO-AND-SO TO YOU.” That’s the same as saying, “I’M smarter than you are! I’m going to tell you a thing or two and make you change your mind!” That is a challenge. That arouses opposition and makes the listener want to battle with you before you even start! You can avoid arguments by not embarrassing people or belittling people, and always letting them have the benefit of the doubt!

(6) AVOID ARGUMENT-STARTING WORDS! Stop using phrases such as: “Is that so?”-“That’s ridiculous!”–“You and who else?”-“That’s a lot of baloney!”–“Where did you get that crazy idea?”

Any such expressions BEG for an argument! Cut them from your vocabulary, and you’ll cut down the time you spend arguing if you do! “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1).

(7) AVOID SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS such as: “You’re never on time!”–“You always say things like that!”–“All women are emotional!”–“All men are like that!”–“Everyone thinks you are that way, and so do I!”

(8) DON’T EXAGGERATE OR INSINUATE! “Speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15). It pays to PRAY before you SAY! If you don’t say it, you won’t have to UNSAY it!

(9) AVOID FRIVOLOUS TALK ABOUT SENSITIVE SUBJECTS. If you voice unnecessary opinions to others who don’t have similar views, it’s a sure way to start an argument!

(10) NEVER TELL SOMEONE, “YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL THAT WAY!” Everyone has feelings that are uniquely their own, and they DO feel that way, or they wouldn’t have said it! Instead, ask them to tell you WHY they feel the way they do, or simply say, “I understand.” This will avoid argument and keep the conversation rolling.

(11) A GOOD MOTTO TO AVOID STARTING AN ARGUMENT: “If I am wrong I will say so. I if I am right I will shut up!” There ARE, of course, matters that ARE important to set straight, but if you must point out someone’s error, make sure you do it in a humble, courteous spirit.

Also, right at that moment may not be the very best time to tell them. Wait until they are in a receptive frame of mind. “A fool utters all his mind (immediately), but a wise man keeps it in till AFTERWARDS.” (Proverbs 29:11). So be discerning and sensitive to others’ feelings! “A wise man’s heart discerns both TIME and JUDGMENT.” (Ecclesiastes 8:5).

 
7 WAYS HOW TO STOP THE OTHER PERSON ARGUING WITH YOU!

“As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.”
–Proverbs 26:21

When Voltaire arrived in England in 1727 he found the French were so unpopular, that he was in great danger when he walked the streets of London! One day during a walk, a crowd of angry citizens shouted, “Kill him! Hang the Frenchman!” Voltaire stopped, faced the furious crowd and cried, “My friends, have mercy! Am I not punished enough that I was not born an Englishman!” The crowd cheered wildly, and gave him safe escort back to his hotel!

(1) REMEMBER, IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE AN ARGUMENT! Never answer an angry word WITH an angry word. It’s the SECOND one that produces a quarrel! As they say, “It takes two to tango!” Refuse to involve yourself in the games of the critic, moralist, cynic or whoever tries to needlessly waste your time and energy in an argument! Some people get in the hottest arguments about the smallest trivial things! But it takes TWO people to play these games, and if you refuse to play the role, they have no one to argue with!

(2) STAY OUT OF SUCH CONVERSATIONS AS: “No, I don’t!”–“Yes, you do!”–“No, I don’t!” Remember the proverb, “When an argument flares up, the wise man quenches it with silence!”

(3) MAKE DELAY YOUR FIRST STRATEGY FOR AVOIDING A POTENTIAL CONFLICT. The first thing to do when someone acts negatively toward you or gets angry is to keep your cool! The best initial reaction you can give is to ask the other person what he means. You may not have heard or understood him correctly. Then, if you decide that you are indeed being attacked, ask yourself these questions: “Is it really in my own best interests to answer tit for tat? Is getting angry the most effective thing I can do? What will my anger accomplish?” If you take time to think and pray about a situation BEFORE you react to it, you will avoid many unnecessary skirmishes! “A man’s wisdom postpones his anger; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11).

(4) FORM THE HABIT OF CLOSING YOUR MOUTH WHEN ANGRY. “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silence, & discerning if he holds his tongue.” (Proverbs 17:28). The best thing you can do is to listen. Then ask questions, so you can find out what the other person’s view is before replying. If you tell him what you think first and give him your opinion, you may suddenly find yourself at odds with him, and lose all possibilities of getting your point across! Give the other person a chance to talk, and let him finish. Don’t interrupt! Don’t start resisting, defending or debating. This only raises barriers! Try to build bridges of understanding!

(5) BE ENDLESSLY PATIENT WHEN FACED WITH AN ARGUMENT. Keep your emotions and impulses firmly under control! Control your temper. Remember, you can measure the size of a person by what makes him angry! “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” (Proverbs 15:18).

(6) WHEN ANOTHER PERSON IS ANGRY, THE WORSE THING YOU CAN DO IS TO SAY, “Now don’t get angry!” When you say this, it has just the OPPOSITE effect! Instead, try saying as gently as you can, “I’m sorry, something is making you angry? If it’s me, I apologise! What can I do to help?”

(7) REMEMBER ALSO THAT OUR SPIRITS ARE CONTAGIOUS! If we show the right spirit and the right attitude–peaceful, trusting, patient and restful, full of faith–this is how OTHERS will react. But if we get flustered and impatient and ranting and raving and sharp-tempered and sharp-tongued, this is apt to be the same way that others will also answer us, sad to say!

 
HOW TO STOP AN ARGUMENT!–ONCE IT’S ALREADY STARTED!

What do you do if you find yourself caught up in an argument? How do you take control of a heated discussion that is fast flaring up into an all-out brawl? Here are some tried and proven ways:

Carl Rogers, the famous psychologist, suggested the following technique for resolving misunderstandings: “Before either person can make a point, he must first repeat the opinion of the OTHER person, to that person’s satisfaction. This rule forces each person to LISTEN to the other party and have to try to understand his point of view! The discussion then tends to become less EMOTIONAL and the opponents find themselves doing more THINKING and LISTENING! The more rational people become, the greater are the chances for an agreeable solution!”

STAY ON THE SUBJECT! Always try to discover exactly what you are arguing about and STAY on that subject! Don’t bring in matters that are irrelevant or unimportant. At times you may have to say something like, “Let’s stop this conversation and really see WHAT it is we’re arguing about. YOU start again, and I will listen. Perhaps I have misunderstood something!”

WATCH YOUR VOLUME! Most of us tend to raise our voices during serious discussions! When we do this, we are really saying, “I can’t get through to you in a normal voice because you seem to be deaf to what I say. So I will turn up the volume!” Raising our voice puts others on the defense and can even convey that we have lost control of our temper or the situation. DON’T USE CRITICISM TO BE A COMEDIAN! While it’s true that a joke or a dry remark might relieve the tension in some disagreements, it’s always best to use humor with care. Questions to ask yourself before using humor are: “Will this increase tension, or relieve it?”–“Can I laugh at myself, or am I just trying to poke fun at the other person?”–“Am I trying to win points for my side with cute remarks?” Never try to be funny by criticising someone else.

DON’T EXAGGERATE. It’s very tempting to add more weight to our point of view by altering the facts or “dressing them up a little bit.” This will only exasperate the situation and make matters worse!–Especially if the other person KNOWS you are exaggerating! Then they’ll be CONVINCED you’re wrong about everything!

ATTACK THE PROBLEM, NOT EACH OTHER! Do your best to keep the discussion impersonal. Try to attack the problem instead of attacking each other with innuendos, slurs and “smart” remarks.

EMPHASISE THINGS YOU AGREE ON! Don’t emphasise the things on which you differ! Keep emphasising that you are BOTH striving for the SAME end and your only difference is one of METHOD and NOT purpose! Dwell on the positive, not the negative! Discuss the things you have in COMMON, not just your differences, and try to establish as many points in common as possible instead of picking out the flaws! Get the other person agreeing and saying, “yes, yes”, and immediately he’ll find it much harder to say “no”!

BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE! One of the most important trips a man can make is to meet the other fellow half-way! When the conversation is deadlocked, see if you can change the subject, or find a different way to approach the problem. Perhaps a COMPROMISE would work that recognises all points of view, or a way that lets someone give in and change his opinion without losing face!

HAVE THE HUMILITY TO BACK DOWN, even if you still think you’re right and the other person is wrong. The famous Swiss reformer, Zwingli, learned a lesson along this line from two goats he saw making their way over a narrow path on a steep mountain in the Alps. One was ascending the trail, the other descending. Zwingli noticed that they must pass at a point where the trail was so narrow that there was room for only one goat.

The animals rounded a turn in the path which brought them in full view of each other. They backed up, as though ready to charge one another, and then the most amazing thing happened! The goat on the trail below knelt down in the path, while the goat above him walked over his back. The first animal then arose and continued his journey up the trail.

The noblest thing you can do in an argument is to have the humility to be the one to back down. Don’t be afraid to say something like, “Let’s stop, because I’m saying things I don’t really mean and I don’t want this to happen!” “It is to a man’s honor to cease from strife, but a fool can’t stop quarrelling.” (Proverbs 2O:3).

IF YOU’RE WRONG, ADMIT IT! Say something like, “You know, I do think I am to blame here. I’m sorry that I said that, and that I hurt you! What can I do now to make up for this?” When you honestly own up to knowing that you’re wrong, and that the other person is right, you improve communication a thousandfold and deepen your relationship with that person! Anyone can try to DEFEND his or her mistakes, but it takes Godly humility to ADMIT your mistakes, “to confess your faults one to another”! (James 5:16). And if the other person wants to let off a last bit of steam and continue to chide you for a little while more–as sometimes happens–humbly agree or restate your error or keep silence, whatever is appropriate.–“YIELDING pacifies (even) great anger” (Ecclesiastes 1O:4), and they’ll soon be won over and lose all their hard feelings towards you.

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF REFEREEING AN ARGUMENT, and you have to express an opinion, pray and think carefully, and before speaking ask yourself, “WHAT is right?”, not “WHO is right?” During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was asked whether he thought God was on his side. Lincoln replied that God was on the side of the right, and hopefully, so was the Union!

In almost every case, no side is always all right and the other all wrong. There’s almost always some good and bad on both sides!–But it takes wisdom, discernment and humility to be able to SEE that.

DON’T GET INVOLVED IN OTHER PEOPLE’S ARGUMENTS! Proverbs 26:17 says, “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears, so is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own!”

 
HOW TO MAKE UP AFTER AN ARGUMENT!

EVEN IF YOU WERE RIGHT, TAKE THE INITIATIVE TO FORGIVE AND FORGET! When it is appropriate, always ask for FORGIVENESS! In the Bible, we’re told to admit our faults to one another and pray for each other! (James 5:16). Also, when the OTHER person confesses THEIR faults and admits error, be sure to tell him or her of YOUR forgiveness! Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense, promotes love!”

NEVER HOLD GRUDGES! Colossians 3:13 says that we should “be gentle and ready to FORGIVE; never hold grudges”! Some people “bury the hatchet” but never forget where! If you find it hard to forgive, remind yourself that it takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge, and that there is great freedom in forgiveness.

YOU CAN SUGGEST THAT YOU PRAY TOGETHER AFTER AN ARGUMENT. It is hard to hold bad feelings about someone you pray with!

 
ARGUMENTS IN MARRIAGE!

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up!
–Ogden Nash

Sadly, it’s human nature that we often hurt most the ones we love the most and are the closest to. People who are married often argue with their partner more than with anyone else! If you’re having problems with arguing in your marriage, then of course all the above pointers will apply. But here are some extra tips:

Opera tenor Jan Pierce, after being married nearly 50 years, said: “My wife and I made an agreement long ago, and we’ve kept it no matter how angry we’ve grown with each other! When one is letting off steam, the other should listen–because when two people are peeved and trying to get their point across at the same time, there is no communication, just noise and bad vibrations!”

Do not walk out in the middle of an argument. And, “never let the sun go down upon your wrath!”
–Ephesians 4:26

Continually remind yourself of all the positive things about your partner! List all of their good qualities, the reasons for which you married him/her in the first place. Then put the list in your wallet or purse and go over it every time you get irritated with him/her!

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything has any virtue or is praiseworthy–think about THESE things!”
–Philippians 4:8

One wife who admitted that she constantly criticised her husband and caused almost daily quarrels, gives this advice: “After praying that God would stop our arguing, He showed me that HE is the Author of my husband’s personality, and that what I viewed as faults are really the means God uses to make me cling closer to Him for solutions! Since then I’ve begun to trust God, through my prayers, that He is able to make any alterations to my husband if they are needed!”

If you have a major discussion on an important topic coming up, try to arrange a time and place where you won’t be interrupted.–For instance, after the children have gone to bed, and not during dinner.

Parents do not usually succeed in hiding disagreements and arguments from their children. Let them know that you do disagree sometimes and that all family members will have times of disagreement. But it’s nothing that can’t be resolved through quiet discussion and prayer. Keep in mind that your children will learn their pattern for disagreeing and arguing from you!

To have a few occasional personality clashes is understandable, but LOVE NEVER FAILS, and these should be healed through humility, love and the oil of God’s Spirit!

Marriage should be as equal as possible, and as sharing as possible. You should talk together, pray together, love together, discuss together and then decide and agree together! But when it comes to having the last word, if he’s a Christian and is trying to serve the Lord and do what’s right, the husband is the boss when it comes to decisions about the home and family. God’s Word clearly says that women should obey their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24,33; 1Corinthians 11:3,8-9; 1Peter 3:1,5-6). If most Christian wives would do this, there would be a lot less fusses, disagreements and arguments! And if you can’t trust your husband, at least you can trust the Lord!

In fact, you BOTH have to trust the Lord if you’re going to have peace, unity and harmony in the home! If you can’t trust your wife or your husband, at least trust the Lord and HE’LL work things out somehow!

 
“WHAT CAUSES FIGHTS AND QUARRELS AMONG YOU?” (JAMES 4:1)

James goes on to say, “Don’t they come from your lusts and desires that battle within you? You want something, but don’t get it…so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1-2). So greediness and SELFISHNESS can be one of the root causes of arguing, trying to get the things you selfishly want.

Other arguments are caused by PRIDE. Proverbs 13:1O says, “Only by PRIDE come quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

Also, as we’ve clearly seen, many arguments are caused by SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.–Pushing your point, thinking that you’re so right, putting yourself up and the other person down by contradicting them!

And what it all boils down to is a lack of LOVE! Arguing isn’t the real problem, it’s just a SYMPTOM!–A LACK OF LOVE is the REAL problem! That’s one of the major lessons that the Lord wants us to learn–how to LOVE people, how to work with them, how to treat them, how to give the other person the advantage and the benefit of the doubt, how to build them up unselfishly, instead of selfishly tearing them down through contention and argument! All this is a part of LEARNING TO LOVE, to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” (Matthew 7:12).

So pray and ask Jesus to give you more LOVE, and help you to overcome the habit of arguing! It will help if you try to apply all the practical pointers that are covered in this post, but only JESUS can really give you the SPIRITUAL solutions and change your heart and spirit and fill you with His Spirit of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). Only HE can give you the strength and grace to LOVE and NOT to argue!–So stay close to HIM!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Are You Lonely?–Here’s the Cure!

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Everything was perfect for Adam in the Garden of Eden! Everything except…what it was he couldn’t quite find words to describe. He certainly had no complaints. God had lovingly provided everything for him in this heavenly paradise. Everything was beautiful, wonderful, except…there was this strange empty aching feeling deep inside.

The Lord understood that deep emotion. And He had allowed it to show Adam that he was never going to be truly happy with these beautiful things that the Lord had created until he had someone like himself with whom he could SHARE them. And so God decreed that “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone; I will make him a companion.” (Genesis 2:18). And not long after that, Adam got his Eve!

So God didn’t intend for people to be lonely or to live alone. He intended for us to live, love and share our lives TOGETHER with OTHERS in FAMILIES. “God sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6). So, with the great fragmentation of family life that has taken place in modern-day culture, it is hardly surprising that loneliness is a greater problem than it has ever been since the beginning of history!

With “the love of many growing cold”, as Jesus predicted it would in the Last Days (Matthew 24:12), loneliness is on the increase. And it is no longer just a problem confined primarily to the aged. It is also a serious concern among children and teenagers. In the U.S., a recent study showed that the main complaint among urban elementary school children was LONELINESS! The medical profession can attest that more and more doctors now view loneliness as actually being DANGEROUS to one’s health! Research shows that people who live alone require medical treatment much more frequently than do married people.

Loneliness also can bring on self-destructive behaviour such as increased smoking and drinking, and can make people more prone to risk-taking behaviour such as reckless driving. The suicide rate of people who live alone is FIVE TIMES HIGHER than “the norm”.

But the cure for loneliness is not a pill, & certainly not suicide, but rather another PERSON! The lonely need companionship, someone with whom he can share his life. No one has trouble understanding why Adam couldn’t live alone in Paradise, but in today’s World people somehow tell themselves they can make it alone!

This myth of independence, which we see exalted every day in advertising and other media, makes it appear that to admit we need each other is a sign of weakness. We are told that individuals should look out for THEMSELVES first and foremost, and, above all else, live for “ME FIRST”, not caring about others.

So, is it any wonder that so many people today are lonely?–Especially in cities, where city life has been aptly described as, “Millions of people being lonesome together”. Just having a lot of people living AROUND you won’t necessarily relieve loneliness, because loneliness comes from being INSULATED from others, not only ISOLATED. Loneliness, sad to say, is often self-inflicted.–People build walls around themselves and then complain of their loneliness. They build WALLS instead of BRIDGES! How do we “cure” loneliness? The solution is simply summed up in this little proverb: “To love others makes us happy; to love ourselves makes us lonely.” Consider this true story:

There was a very lonely woman once who was always seeking a new lover, a new love, but never finding one that satisfied or lasted or that relieved her loneliness. Why? Because she was always seeking to GET love, to RECEIVE love, to BE loved! But when it was suggested to her that perhaps she needed to learn how to GIVE love, and to love UNSELFISHLY for the benefit and happiness of ANOTHER, after years of searching, this struck her as an entirely new idea that had never occurred to her before! She went out and soon found what she was looking for all the time–true love!–By trying to find someone SHE could make happy by GIVING her love to THEM!

So there’s the key, the simple solution to loneliness!–The same as it’s been since Man was first created: If you GIVE love, you’ll GET love! If you’re sincerely concerned about OTHERS and show THEM love, they’ll be concerned about YOU and show YOU love! Of course, as Christians we can share with them the Love of ALL loves from the Lover of all lovers, Jesus Himself!–And as Christians, that is HOW we should love and reach out and help others, by telling them about JESUS, Who alone can satisfy that DEEPEST yearning of every human heart for TOTAL love and COMPLETE understanding! For we know that only in JESUS will anyone find COMPLETE and PERMANENT fulfillment, as HE is the ONLY One Who can truly satisfy that empty lonely feeling that we ALL sometimes feel, no matter HOW many friends or loved ones surround us.

The Lord has created a special place in our hearts that only HE can fill. For although the BODY is of this EARTH and is satisfied with the THINGS of this Earth, the human SPIRIT, that intangible personality of the real you that dwells in that body, can never be completely satisfied with anything but utter union with the great and loving SPIRIT Who created it.

Of course, Jesus wants us to love and be close to others, but that first place in our hearts must be reserved for HIM! As the old song says, “Only Jesus, only Jesus! Only He can satisfy!”–And even when we have someone dear and close to us physically, there will always be that certain deep feeling inside that can only be satisfied by giving HIM our whole heart and drawing closer to HIM!

Actually, this is another side to loneliness!–There are times when it may even be good for us to feel somewhat lonely. There are times when the Lord allows us, His children, to feel a little lonesome in order to enrich and deepen our relationship with Him!

It reminds me of the story of the famous Christian songwriter, George Matheson. He was deeply in love and soon to be married, when he was told by his doctor that he was losing his sight and would be a blind man within six months! He was heartbroken of course, but he didn’t think it fair to his sweetheart not to tell her and give her the choice whether she still wished to go ahead with the marriage or not. He felt that if she really loved him she would still want to live with him and take care of him.

So he went to her house that night and they sat on the couch holding hands and chatting about this and that, until finally he plucked up the courage to tell her, “Honey, I have some very, very sad news. The doctor tells me that by our wedding date I will be completely blind!” All of a sudden he felt her hand quiver and loosen its grasp. Then icily, coldly, it was withdrawn from his as she turned away and burst into tears and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, George… but I COULDN’T be married to a BLIND man!”

Crushed, and heartsick, his whole world falling apart, he walked despondently back to his home where he sat down alone at his desk and thought about how the only thing that he had left in the whole World now was JESUS. Then he took a piece of paper and his old quill pen and he wrote the famous hymn that has since been a comfort to millions, “Oh Love that will not let me go”!

“Oh Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be!”

That’s the wonderful thing about being a Christian!–You’ll never again be completely alone because you’ll ALWAYS have JESUS! Even when everything else is passed away, you’ll STILL have JESUS! When all others forsake you, there’ll STILL be JESUS! When the loves of this World and your friends or lovers desert you because they’re not willing to become Christians, you’ll still have JESUS! Jesus promised, “I am with you ALWAYS, even unto to the END of the World!” (Matthew 28:20). When the WORLD has nothing left for you, you’ll still have JESUS!–And Jesus is ALL you really NEED!

So there are two main reasons why the Lord allows Christians to be lonely: Number One, so you will look to JESUS for your DEEPEST satisfaction and companionship. And number Two, so you will reach out to OTHER lonely hearts with Jesus’ Love and comfort! There are so many OTHERS around you who are just as lonely and longing for love as YOU once were, and just waiting for you to make the first move!

So step out by faith and talk to someone today about Jesus and God’s Love and help THEM to be FULLY satisfied and COMPLETELY happy FOREVER, not just with HUMAN love and companionship, but with the Love of GOD, because God IS Love and He will satisfy your & their need for love FOREVER! (1John 4:8).

So love someone TODAY! Find out what wonders love can do! You’ll find a whole new World of love you have only dreamed of! There are wonders of love that you yourself can enjoy along with other lonely hearts-if you will only try!

Remember, however, the purpose in showing the Lord’s Love to others is NOT just to win them to YOURSELF so that they can merely satisfy YOUR personal needs for companionship, but to win THEM to the LORD, Who is the ONLY One Who can TRULY satisfy the DEEPEST longings of their hearts! So let them know clearly that it is the LORD’S Love IN you that makes you show such love and outgoing concern for them; otherwise, they may be tempted to put all their emphasis on their relationship with YOU and leave the Lord OUT of the picture. The result: They will STILL be lonely when you’re not around and not find TRUE fulfillment.–And if you are not strong in the Lord and in His Word, and you ALLOW them to do so, it could even eventually cause YOU to fall away from putting the Lord first in YOUR life!

So make sure that YOU put the LORD first in your life, and then THEY will TOO!–Otherwise, your relationship could wind up being just another case of two lonely people trying to fulfill their selfish desires and needs in each other, and will end in disappointment. 2Corinthians 6:14 warns us, “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.”–In other words, don’t allow yourself to get into a relationship with someone who only loves you physically, but wants nothing to do with the Lord. Make it CLEAR that the LORD and His WORD are FIRST in YOUR life–that they can’t pull you away from HIM!

The KEY is to get them hooked on the LORD and on the WORD like YOU are, if you want them to keep things in their proper perspective. TRUE happiness–yours AND theirs–comes from sharing the Word and the Lord with others. So if you truly want to help someone, make sure to ground their life on the right foundation. Amen?

We hope these words of love will help you find the love YOU need to make YOU happy and no longer lonely, and that OTHERS will find happiness through your love too! God bless and keep you and make you a blessing with His Love! Remember: All the BEST things in life are SHARED!–LOVE isn’t put in your heart to STAY, Love isn’t LOVE till you GIVE it away!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anger!–One Letter Short Of Danger!

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I spoke a word in anger to one who was my friend.
Like a knife it cut him deeply, A wound that was hard to mend.
That word, so thoughtlessly uttered, I wish we could both forget,
But its echo lives and memory gives the recollection yet.

A Christian writer relates the following true story: “During early childhood I had a fiery temper which often caused me to say and do unkind things in the heat of anger.

“One day, after I had bawled out one of my playmates and sent him home in tears, my father told me that for each thoughtless, angry word I said, he would hammer a nail into our gatepost. And each time I was pa­tient and said something kind and gentle, one nail would be taken out.

“Months passed. Each time I entered our gate, I was reminded of the reasons for those ever-increasing nails! Until finally, I decided that to get them out would be a challenge and I’d try my best!

“At last the day I longed for arrived! Only one more nail! As my father pulled it out, I danced around proudly exclaiming, ‘See, Daddy, the nails are all gone!’

“I remember Father gazing intently at the post riddled full of holes, and he thoughtfully replied, ‘Yes, the nails are gone, but the scars remain!'”

How true the saying, “The anger of today is the remorse of tomorrow”. How deeply we regret words spoken in angry impatience, words that we wish we had never said. Uncontrolled anger can be a vicious and terrible thing! Someone has said, “When anger was in Cain’s heart, murder was not far off!” You are never so vulnerable to the thoughts of the Devil as when you are unreasonably angry. Self-control is at an all-time low, reason decreases, and common sense usually forsakes you! Anger is just one letter short of danger!

It was in a sudden burst of anger that Moses killed an Egyptian and had to flee for his life! (Exodus 2:11-15). It then took him 40 years of patiently, humbly tending sheep in the wilderness, with time to listen to the Voice of God instead of his own impulses, before he was ready for the slow, la­borious, patient work of delivering the Hebrews from Egypt.

The Bible has a lot to say about anger–mostly against anger! At least against un­loving, impatient, selfish, proud, hurtful, unjustified human anger! Paul tells us to “Get rid of your bitterness, rage and anger.” (Ephesians 4:31). Solomon warns us, “Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). God’s Word also warns, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24,25) because an angry person is apt to become violent and cause you and oth­ers harm and trouble!

 
Righteous Indignation!

But all anger is not necessarily wrong. After all, anger is a natural, God-given emotion, and is, in itself, neither right nor wrong. The rightness or wrongness depends on our reason or motivation for being angry. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, rightly wrote, “It is easy to fly into a passion–anybody can do that–but to be angry with the right person at the right time and with the right object in the right way–that is not easy, and it is not every­one who can do it!”

Most Christians today seem to think that anger is a sin, and sad to say, in most cases it usually is. But sometimes it is ac­tually a sin not to be angry! God Himself frequently gets very angry, particularly with the rebellious, Truth-rejecting wicked who oppress, persecute and mistreat others! In fact, His Word says, “God is angry with the wicked every day!” (Psalm 7:11).

Wise King Solomon wrote, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). and there are definitely times when we should be angry! Otherwise, how are we going to have the fight and the spirit, the ardor and the compulsion to “fight the good fight”, “war a good warfare”, “resist the Devil”, “preach the Word, reprove, rebuke and exhort”, and do all the many other things that we as ac­tive Christian soldiers must do in order to resist and fight sin, evil and the forces of the Devil! (1Timothy 8:12; 1:18; James 4:7; 2Timothy 4:2).

Although there are many examples in the Bible that clearly illustrate the bad effects of uncontrolled anger, there are also many examples of men of God who became angry for good reasons, for the right reasons, and their Godly anger compelled them to fight evil, right wrongs and set things straight!

The New Testament tells us that even Jesus Himself was frequently stirred up with Godly anger, or righteous indignation. In Mark Chapter 3, we read that Jesus went into a synagogue of the Jews and found a man there with a withered or shriveled hand. Some of his hypocritical religious enemies were watching closely to see if He would break the Laws of Moses by healing this poor man on their holy day, the Sabbath. Jesus ordered the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone!” He then turned towards the hypocritical religionists and asked them, “Which is lawful to do on the Sabbath: To do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

They were silenced by His question. “And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” And the man’s hand was completely restored and healed! (Mark 3:1-5). So here we see an example of Jesus Himself being angered and grieved at the hypocrisy and the hardness of His accusers’ hearts.

Another time that the Bible says Jesus became angry was when the people were bringing little children for Him to touch and bless. But His disciples rebuked and tried to send away those who brought the children. “But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant. And He said to them, ‘Let the little chil­dren come to Me! Do not hinder them, for of such is the Kingdom of God!'” (Mark 10: 13,14). The sight of His Own disciples trying to prevent small children from coming to Him, angered Jesus. And it was no doubt with an “indignant” tone of voice that He ordered, “Let the little children come to Me!” So why should we not also be angered at anything or anybody who would try to hin­der or stop folks from coming to Jesus?

Of course, the crowning example of Jesus’ anger was when He launched an all-out attack against the falsehood, fakery and Pharisaical phoniness of the religious lead­ers of His day! When He found the religionists robbing and exploiting the poor in the name of God. He made a whip with His Own hands, stormed into the Temple and personal­ly beat and drove out the money changers, overturned their tables, poured out their money and loudly rebuked them, saying, “You have turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves and robbers!” (John 2:14-16 Matthew 21:12-13).

Later that day, Jesus delivered His final message to the Pharisees, in which He became so infuriated at their self-righteous hypocrisy, their merciless oppression of the poor and their rejection of God’s Truth, that He absolutely exploded with a blast of Truth that exposed, condemned, cursed and literally damned them to Hell! A message that so stung them, that from that moment on, they were determined to murder Him, and had Him crucified only a few days later!  (See Matthew 23)!

These, and many other examples from the Bible, make it clear that there is a time to be angry, and that such “righteous indignation” is of God! His Word even tells us, “Be ye angry and sin not!” (Ephesians 4:26). So the Lord actually instructs us to be angry if it’s for the right reasons and about the right things. Such as against hypocrisy, injustices or against innocent people being hurt or taken advantage of. Such Godly anger should motivate us to try to correct injustices and right wrongs and take positive action to remedy needy situations!

This is the difference between Godly anger and the “wrath of Man”, of which the Bible says, “the wrath of Man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20). Whereas righteous wrath, or Godly anger, brings about good results.

 
How To Handle Anger

Sad to say, we do not usually become angry for such noble reasons as those mentioned above. Often our anger simply results from concern about ourselves, from selfishness. We don’t get our own way, our pride is wounded or we somehow feel slighted or mistreated by others, so we become frustrat­ed, upset and angry.

When you realize and recognize that you are becoming angry or upset like this and that it is obviously not “righteous indignation”, you should try to consciously take an effort to keep such anger under control instead of letting your bad feelings spill out in uncontrolled actions or words! The Bible says, “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James 1:19).

To “be quick to hear” is another way to say, “Listen carefully”. If you can patient­ly listen to what’s going on and hold back long enough to think and pray about what you’re going to say or how you’re going to respond, you can usually control your anger and express your feelings in a healthy way. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control”. (Pro­verbs 29:11). Do not talk when you are angry and upset in your own spirit, but after you have calmed down. Hot words never result in cool judgment. A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes, hurts those who we love and destroys friendships!

Anger is a strong emotion and it does need to be expressed in some way. But it’s a sad thing about your temper: You can’t get rid of it by losing it! It’s true that expressing anger with violent passion–yelling, sharp words and high emotions does get results, but the results are usually not too positive! “Hitting the ceiling”, as they say, “is a poor way to rise in the World!” And, “People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing!”

Of course, we are referring here to the “wrath of Man” that is generated by our own spirits, not about righteous indignation, which is inspired by the Lord. Because if you are stirred up with righteous anger, then sharp words and high emotions can get positive results, as you stir others up and take them aware of the sin, evil or injus­tices that have stirred you up in the first place! As the Lord told His Prophet Isaiah, “Cry aloud, do not hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet and show My people their sins!” (Isaiah 58:1).

God’s Word even tells us, “You that love the Lord, hate evil.” And, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride, arrogancy and the evil way!” (Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 8:13). If you really love and fear the Lord and have genuine conviction and Godly en­thusiasm, you will not sit idly by and remain silent about or respond passively to outright evil, wrongdoings and injustices, but you’ll stand up and speak out against such things. Angrily if necessary!

Such righteous anger is healthy and should be expressed. The Prophet, Jeremiah, when beholding the rebellion and iniquity of his backslidden people, said, “I am full of the fury of the Lord!–And I cannot hold it in!…If I say, ‘I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name’, His Word is in my heart as a burning fire, a fire shut up in my bones! I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot!” (Jeremiah 6:11; 20:9).

However, if you know that your anger is merely the result of your own hurt feelings or pride, you still need to do something about it if it has built up inside of you. But as we’ve already shown, it is usually very unwise to vent such anger on others.

One solution that many people have found works for them is to redirect their anger. Redirecting the pent-up energy that their anger has generated by cutting the grass, working in the garden, taking a walk, exercising, washing the car etc… gives them something to get their mind off of what made them angry in the first place, thus giving them time to “cool off”, to think and pray about a solution to the problem.

Of course, a lot of Christians feel guilty for being angry, so they simply try to ignore the fact that they’re upset and pretend that they’re not. But ignoring anger can be like taking a waste-paper basket full of burning paper and hiding it in the closet! True, the fire may burn out. But more likely, it may eventually burn the house down! Pent-up, unexpressed anger is un­healthy and has been medically proven to cause all kinds of problems ranging from ul­cers, anxiety and headaches to even depres­sion!

So if you recognize that you are getting unreasonably angry with someone, try to con­fess it before your feelings get out of control! For instance, you might say to your mate when a conversation is heating up and getting a little tense, “You know, with the way this discussion is going, I’m afraid I’m starting to feel upset. Now, I don’t want to get angry, and I know you don’t want me to get angry, so perhaps we could stop and pray and start this discussion over again later, after we’ve asked the Lord to help us solve this situation.” This is an excellent response, to confess your anger in such a way that will let the other person know that you’re getting angry, without them getting angry too! You might say, “I’m sorry but I’m getting upset. What can I do now so we can work this thing out? Could you please pray with me?”

If it’s too late and you’ve already been unjustifiably angry with someone, don’t be too proud to say you’re sorry! Temper gets people into trouble, but pride keeps them there! And if someone’s been unjustifiably angry with you, forgive! The best cure for a short temper is a lengthy prayer! Pray and ask Jesus to help you if you have a problem controlling your anger! You can even ask others to pray unitedly for you, for there is great power in united prayer together! Memorize Scriptures that speak of anger, and how we as Chris­tians should behave towards others! Proverbs 16:32 says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that controls his temper than he who conquers a city.” Ask Jesus to help you today!–He never fails!

Of course, there are times when we are justifiably angry or upset with someone, such as when they willfully, purposely wrong or harm us or others. Jesus said, “Whoever is angry with his brother without cause, shall be in danger of judgment” (Matthew 5:22), which shows that sometimes there is a “cause” or reason to be angry, even with your “brother”. Which is why the Lord said, “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3). “Rebuke”, according to the dictionary, means “to reprove sharply, to reprimand”.

But remember, love, humility and prayer solve all problems, and that “as you forgive others’ sins, so your Heavenly Father will forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14,15). “And as you wish that others should do to you, so do unto them” (Matthew 7:12), for this is God’s Law of Love! So may God help you to be loving, kind and forgiving, and only to get stirred up and angry if and when the Lord moves you to! Amen? God bless you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

All Things Work Together For Your Good!

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One of the most encouraging and comforting things that a Christian needs to realise and constantly remember–particularly when he’s going through times of trouble, trials and tribulations–is that our Heavenly Father LOVES us, and is in absolute and total control of our lives!–And that NOTHING can happen to us without HIS will or HIS permission! So even if WE don’t always understand exactly why we’re going through such trials, GOD knows what He’s doing! He knows all the purposes and reasons behind every test, trial, affliction etc.

He promises us in His Word, “ALL THINGS work together for GOOD to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28). A-L-L, ALL! He will never let anything happen to you, His child, except that which is for your GOOD! Of course, you may be tempted to feel like, “Goodness gracious!–A LOT of things have happened that don’t look very good to me!” Well, I dare say that you finally found out sooner or later that somehow or another they WERE good for you.–Or you will YET!

The following true story beautifully illustrates this principle:

One chilly winter morning, a fishing fleet launched out from a small harbour on the east coast of Newfoundland. In the afternoon there arose a great storm. When night settled, not a single vessel of all the fleet had found its way back into port.

All night long, wives, mothers, children & sweethearts paced up & down the windswept beach, wringing their hands & calling on God to save their lost loved ones. To add to the horror of the situation, one of their cottages caught fire. Since the men were away, it was impossible to put out the blaze & save it.

When morning broke, to the joy of all, the entire fleet had returned safely to harbour in the bay. But there was one face which was a picture of despair–the wife of the man whose home had been destroyed in the fire.

Meeting her husband as he landed, she cried, “Oh, Honey, we are RUINED! Our home & everything in it was destroyed by fire!” But the man exclaimed to her surprise, “THANK GOD for that fire! It was the light of our burning cottage that safely guided the whole fleet into port!”

Jesus has told us, “I am with you ALWAYS, even unto the END of the World.” (Matthew 28:20). He also promises, “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!” (Hebrews 13:5). Even through the DARKEST and most trying times, the Lord is always “a Friend that sticks closer than a brother!”(Proverbs 18:24). “Yea, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of DEATH, I will fear no evil, for THOU art WITH me!” (Psalm 23:4). No matter WHAT hard turns your road may take, Jesus is WITH you, He CARES and He will somehow work even the seemingly darkest and most discouraging circumstances and conditions together for your good.–He’s PROMISED to!

Sometimes we stand at at life’s crossroad,
And view what we think is the END,
But GOD has a much BIGGER vision
And He tells us it’s only a BEND.

–For the road goes on & is smoother,
And the pause in the song is a rest,
And the part that’s unsung & unfinished
Is the sweetest & richest & best!

So rest & relax & grow stronger,
Let go & let God share your load,
Your work is not finished or ended,
You’ve just come to a BEND in the road!

We know that the Lord loves us and that He is always willing to do His best to help us if we are doing our best to obey Him. Therefore, when things aren’t going quite right, we know it’s not God’s fault, but that He is probably trying to teach us some thing; or perhaps we are missing the mark somehow, failing in some area or mistaken in some way about the way we’re doing things.

So the first thing to do when things begin going wrong is to look to the Lord and PRAY, ask Him what we could be doing wrong, or how we could do things BETTER, or if we’re making some kind of mistake or in some way actually DISOBEYING Him.

God’s Word tells us that “the curse undeserved shall not come” (Proverbs 26:2), which means that troubles, accidents, problems etc. don’t just “happen” to Christians!–A Christian doesn’t HAVE accidents! If seemingly bad things befall us, God allows them for a PURPOSE, a REASON, although it may not always be revealed or understood by us immediately!

Things don’t just happen to Children of God,
They’re part of a wonderful PLAN;
The troubles, reverses, the sorrows, the rod
Are strokes of the Great Sculptor’s hand

Things don’t just happen to Children of God,
The blueprint was made by HIS hand;
He designed all the details to conform to His Son;
So all things that happen are PLANNED.

No matter what happens to those called “His Own”,
Events that are awful or grand;
Every trial of your life He sends from His throne;
Things don’t just happen, they’re PLANNED!

The Lord often allows seemingly “bad” things to happen to us to draw us CLOSER to Him, to keep us HUMBLE & more DEPENDENT on HIM, such as what the Bible calls “CHASTENINGS”, or spankings from the Lord. Like any good father, it hurts Him to see His children disobey and go astray, because He loves us, and He knows that our disobedience and wrong-doings hurt US. So He tries in love to correct us.

If a sheep insists on wandering away from the Shepherd and away from the fold, away from the right path, a loving whack from the shepherd’s rod is often what it takes to cause that sheep to return to where it belongs.

Of course, most of us don’t usually feel that a spanking is very GOOD news, but the Lord says, “Whom the Lord LOVES, He chastens, and punishes every son whom He receives. And though no chastening AT THE TIME seems PLEASANT, but PAINFUL, nevertheless AFTERWARDS it produces a harvest of RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE for those who have been trained by it!” (Hebrews 12:6,11).

So even though a spanking or chastening from the Lord certainly doesn’t feel like a good thing when you GET it, it’s good FOR you!–Especially if it causes you to repent of your erring ways and return to the Lord. The Lord uses chastisements because He LOVES us and He knows that they are needed to keep us in line, to keep us in shape and to keep us close to Him. And though they are hard for us to take sometimes, they are a token of His LOVE, His “intolerable compliment”, and are a necessary part of our training that definitely works together for our good!

Sometimes God has to let things happen to us just to get our ATTENTION!–Particularly if we are too distracted and thinking about too many other things, “the cares, the riches and the pleasures of this life.” (Luke 8:14). When we’re too concerned or worried about this, that and the other, and our minds are off of the Lord, He often allows things to happen to sort of JOLT and wake us up to the real ETERNAL values: HIM and His WORD and His WORK!

The great Psalmist, King David, realised this when HE was chastened and afflicted, and he wrote, “BEFORE I was AFFLICTED, I went ASTRAY; but NOW have I kept Thy WORD!–It is GOOD for me that I have been afflicted, that I might LEARN Thy STATUTES!” (Psalm 119:67,71).

Of course, sometimes the Lord allows things to happen that disappoint or look bad to us, not as a chastisement, but because He mercifully wants to SPARE us from serious danger or trouble that we would get ourselves into were things to go OUR way. Often he does not answer our prayers the way we want Him to because He sees AHEAD, and knows that our desires would hurt and harm us were we to get them.

The Lord’s answers to our prayers are infinitely perfect, and they will show that often when we were asking for a stone that looked to us like bread, He was giving us bread that to our shortsightedness looked like a stone! (See Matthew 7:7-11.) The following story illustrates this perfectly:

One stormy winter night in 1910, a group of travelling Christian musicians arrived at the city of Riga, on the Baltic Sea, to fulfil a concert engagement. The weather was so bad, however, and the concert hall so far out of town, that the conductor of the orchestra tried to persuade the manager of the music hall to cancel the concert. He felt that no one would venture out on such a terribly stormy and wild night.

The manager refused to cancel, but he agreed that if no one turned up, the orchestra could leave early in order to catch the night boat for Helsinki, Finland. When the musicians arrived at the concert hall, they found only ONE person sitting in the audience, a stout old gentleman who seemed to smile at everyone. Because of this old music-lover, the musicians were forced to play the entire concert. They were, therefore, unable to leave early and catch the boat.

After the concert was over, the old man continued to keep his seat. Thinking he was asleep, an usher nudged his shoulder. Only then was it discovered that the old man was not alive. The musicians had played an entire concert for a DEAD man! But in doing this, they also had saved their lives. For the boat they would have taken to Helsinki went down that stormy night, & all crew members were drowned.

So although His children in that orchestra had earnestly hoped to avoid playing in that concert so they could catch the boat, the Lord knew better than they did, & used these seemingly disappointing circumstances to spare them from disaster!

Another reason that the Lord sometimes allows seemingly bad things to happen to us is simply to HUMBLE us and BREAK us so He can REMAKE us into what HE wants us to be.

Many times the Bible likens the Lord unto a POTTER, and us unto the CLAY in His hands. (See Isaiah 45:9; 64:8; Romans 9:20,21).–Clay which He desires to form into a vessel that is “fit for the Master’s use!” (2Timothy 2:21). But often when a potter is working with clay, when he is forming a vessel and discovers an imperfection or a mistake, a lump or a mar, he will take that same clay and CRUSH it, then add water to soften it again so he can knead it, rework it and remake it. He mashes it, crushes it and squeezes it until it’s nice soft moldable clay again.–Then he can remake it into a NEW and a BETTER vessel since the first one didn’t turn out quite right.

“And the vessel that the potter made of clay was MARRED in the hand of the potter: So he made it again into ANOTHER vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it.–`O My people, can I not do with YOU as the POTTER does with his clay? Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are YOU in MY hand!'” (Jeremiah 18:4,6).

At first, it probably doesn’t seem like a very good thing to that vessel, when its maker suddenly starts mashing and smashing and crushing and remaking it, but in the long run it becomes a BETTER vessel for it.–It “works together for its good”!

The Lord often allows some things to happen to us to TEST us and TRY us, to PURGE us and to make us BETTER vessels, so we will be more useful for His service, more humble and more loving. He puts us through FIERY trials to burn out the DROSS, and through the STORMS of testing to blow away the CHAFF, and through DEEP WATERS so we can learn to SWIM! The Lord uses such tests to give us great victories, even out of seeming defeats, because the trials cause us to draw closer to Him and to cry out to Him and really seek Him with ALL of our hearts.–Otherwise we have a tendency to sort of rock along with business as usual.

So the storms and the fires and the trials and tribulations of this life are all GOOD for us because they test our strength and determination, and give us a chance to FIGHT the Devil!–To see if we’ll give up and lose faith, or if we’ll keep on “FIGHTING the fight of faith” and trusting the Lord in spite of it all! (1Timothy 6:12). He often allows us to have our faith and our patience tested to see how much we will really “STIR ourselves up” to CALL upon HIM for HIS help and HIS strength. (Isaiah 64:7).

Of course, when the Lord allows us to go through a big trial or trouble, it’s a real TEST, and sad to say, it often ends in COMPLAINING and MURMURING, and people sometimes hold it against God! Instead of really LEARNING the LESSONS that He wants to teach them from their troubles or sicknesses or whatever He has allowed, they murmur and ask, “God, WHY did You do this to ME?”, instead of, “Lord, why did I DESERVE this?–Why did I NEED it?” They’re almost OFFENDED at God for letting things happen to them, instead of realising that God is DEALING with them and trying to SHOW them something.

Some people are so self-righteous, they wonder, “How could God do such a thing to ME? How could the Lord treat ME this way when I’M so GOOD to HIM?” They actually RESENT it, just like JOB did when the Lord first started dealing with him. Look what the Lord had to put Job through before he was finally humbled and confessed that he wasn’t more righteous than God!

SELF-RIGHTEOUS people always blame GOD for all their problems instead of themselves, or instead of accepting it for whatever reason God is allowing it and thereby learning their lessons. Some people with problems or troubles are always going around saying, “Why? Why?–WHY has God done this to me? WHY does God let me suffer like this?–I’ve tried to be good & do this and that for God, but I’m STILL suffering! He STILL hasn’t delivered me! Why NOT?” Well, when people start asking God why in THAT kind of spirit, it is pure SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS!

God HATES such murmuring, complaining and self-righteousness, and He destroyed a whole generation of MILLIONS of Jews in the Sinaitic desert because of their murmuring and pretending to be more righteous than God! “WE wouldn’t have done this, God. Why did YOU do this to us, God? WE would have been GOODER than YOU are, God!”

It’s the DEVIL’S business to use such tests and trials to try to convince you that God doesn’t love you and that He doesn’t answer prayer! The Lord ALLOWS the Enemy to do it in order to test your faith and to see how much you really love the Lord and what PRICE you’re willing to PAY to serve Him!–To see if you will “CURSE God and DIE”, as Job’s doubting wife told him to do, or if you will love the Lord ANYWAY and proclaim, “Even though He SLAYS me, yet I will still TRUST Him!”, like Job did!–DESPITE the trials! (Job 2:9; 13:15).

Trials and tests will either make you HARDENED and BITTER, or HUMBLED and BETTER!–One or the other! So when faced with tests, trials and tribulations, watch out that you don’t harden your heart, that you don’t get bitter and resentful against the Lord. His Word says, “Look diligently, lest any man fail the grace of God, lest any ROOT OF BITTERNESS spring up and TROUBLE you, and through it, MANY be DEFILED!” (Hebrews 12:15).

HARDENING your heart is NOT the solution! He says, “Harden NOT your hearts!” (Hebrews 3:15). But rather, “Cast your burdens upon the LORD, and HE shall sustain you! SEEK the LORD while He may be found, CALL upon HIM while He is near! For the Lord is CLOSE to them that are of a BROKEN heart, and SAVES such as be of a BROKEN and HUMBLE spirit!” (Psalm 55:22;34:18; Isaiah 55:6).

WHATEVER God does, He always does it in LOVE.–And as we said earlier, He will never allow ANYTHING to happen to you that is not for your GOOD, for truly, “ALL things do work together for good to them that love God!” (Romans 8:28).

So when things look DARKEST, DON’T look DOWN.–Look UP! Don’t murmur and complain! But start PRAISING the Lord, and you can often praise your way right out of the pit of doubt, defeat and discouragement into which the Devil is trying to cast you! The Lord LOVES praise and thanksgiving. His Word says that He DWELLS in the PRAISES of His people!–Psalm 22:3.

Doubt, fear, discouragement and murmuring KILL! But faith, trust, courage and praising the Lord brings LIFE! So let’s try to TAKE our testings and our temptations graciously, and even gratefully! The Lord promises that He will NEVER give you more than you are able to BEAR, and that He will always make a way of ESCAPE.–Somehow He will always make it easier for you or at least help you to bear it if you call on Him for help. He says, “There has no temptation come upon you except what is COMMON to man. But GOD is FAITHFUL, Who will NOT allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to ESCAPE, that you may be able to BEAR it!” (1Corinthians 10:13).

“But oh!” you may say, “I don’t see how I can possibly bear THIS trial, THIS chastening, THIS test, it’s TOO BIG for me to handle!” Well, look at the trial the Lord let His Prophet, JONAH, go through after he refused to obey the Lord and go and warn the wicked city of Ninevah as God had commanded him. A gigantic WHALE swallowed him up, and he thought that he was FINISHED!–But that same whale that gobbled him up was the means whereby God brought him safely to land!–It was a BLESSING in disguise! For three long days and nights Jonah was in the belly of that whale, but when he finally quit complaining, yielded to the Lord and began to THANK and PRAISE God, the Lord commanded the whale to spit Jonah out on dry land, and he was DELIVERED! (See Jonah 1 and 2.)

So always remember, the Lord LOVES you, and life’s DARKEST hour is often just before DAWN! WHATEVER trials may befall you, don’t despair, don’t give up, don’t lose hope!–But look to JESUS in your time of trial, claim and cling to His promises and believe His Word–that whatever it is you’re going through, He will truly work it together for your GOOD–and He WILL! He HAS to, it’s His PROMISE! He NEVER fails! Amen? GOD BLESS YOU!

 
 

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