Category Archives: Anchor

Anchor

In Partnership with God—Part 2

From the Roadmap series

If you haven’t yet read Part 1 go here. In Partnership with God—Part 1

 
free-bible-studies-online-anchorIf we hope to have a deep, enduring, intimate relationship with the Lord, we need to be willing to spend time with Him. This time can be spent in a number of ways—reading the Word, praying, hearing from Him in prophecy, meditating, praising, listening to uplifting music, or simply being quiet in His presence and resting in Him. There’s no perfect formula that you have to follow to “make it happen” for you. We each have to discover what works for us personally.

Building our walk with the Lord takes an investment of time. We don’t develop a deep and mature relationship with Jesus by giving Him scattered minutes of our attention here and there. Our quiet time with the Lord doesn’t have to be the same time each day, or the same plan, but whatever we do, it will cost us something as we’re all busy people.

If we’re serious about having a life partnership with God, we need to dedicate time to building it. And it’s likely that that will mean giving up something else in order to make the time. We’re all busy, many of us to the point that each day is a race against the clock where we’re constantly reassessing our priorities and schedules, sometimes hour by hour. Extra time is probably nonexistent in your life, too; hence, the concept of “making time” may require some effort.

Obviously, in our busy lives, “making time” for something is not so simple. It’s challenging to find the time for the things that we have to do, much less something that can be seen as an “extra.” We can sometimes be tempted to feel that we don’t need to spend time in God’s Word or prayer, or that we can make it through our day just fine without it. However, stopping to take time with the Lord always pays off—if not immediately, certainly over time.

It’s a matter of priorities and what we put first.

Here’s a story that you might be familiar with, but it illustrates the principle so well that it’s worth reviewing.

An expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students. He stood in front of these high-powered overachievers, pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar, and placed it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied. And he again reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

Then he looked up at the class and said, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the “big rocks” in your life? Are you putting them in first?

—Author unknown

 
What could be some of the “big rocks” for those of us who want to grow spiritually and bear good fruit in life or service to the Lord? Of course, we’d each need to figure out the details on this for ourselves, but some of the main ones to consider are:

  • Connecting with the Lord by giving Him quality time and our full attention.
  • Intercessory prayer.
  • Taking time to love others by showing concern, interest, sympathy, and understanding.
  • Spending time with our spouse and children.
  • Exercising and maintaining our physical health.
  • Our service for the Lord.

The gravel could be things such as:

  • Our work or study.
  • Maintaining our home and household.
  • Attending diligently to our responsibilities.

The sand or water could represent activities like:

  • Television, movies, novels, or other entertainment.
  • Blogging or online chatting.
  • Surfing the internet.

Having the conviction to organize your schedule and priorities so that you can protect your connection with God is a matter of Christian values. Of course, the application of those values is sometimes easier said than done. You might really want that time with the Lord, but it can be a struggle to prioritize it with the many responsibilities of everyday life that compete for your time. If you find that you are easily distracted and regularly neglect your commitments to your spiritual growth, then it may be time to reassess your priorities and how you invest your time.

*

Many people go skimming over the surface things of life, without any sense of values: just living off the nonessentials, while the inconsequential things of life are crowding out the things that are worthwhile, and robbing them of the things that are in the long run really worthwhile.

No man or woman will ever be great in life or soul if they haven’t any real sense of values!

Trivial, temporal things so often are put first while God and His Word are crowded into a secondary place. When this happens, all of life is thrown out of balance, and the result is only disharmony, disruption, and confusion.

Are the great realities of life in the proper perspective in your life? Do you have a sense of values? Or do you let little trivialities and material things come before the reading of God’s Word and prayer? And do you excuse yourself by saying, “I’m busy, I don’t have time”? If that happens to you, it’s time to check your heart and your values.

There is life in the Word; it’s food for your soul. It’s absolutely essential to the growth of your soul! If you don’t have time for it, then your soul’s going to starve and you’re going to be a dwarf spiritually.

Prayer is communion with God. Without prayer, you walk unempowered in your own strength and wisdom. God’s Word says, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” On the other hand, it says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13.)

And that strength comes only through prayer and the reading of God’s Word. You can hardly expect to get the strength needed through a weak little hurried verse, or a little tiny prayer just before you hop into bed half asleep and sort of dazed! You can’t call that “seeking first the kingdom!”

I had an acquaintance who spent all of her years scraping, digging, slaving to build and decorate a little cottage where she could be comfortable for a few years. Just a few months after it was finished, she became seriously ill. At her bedside she said to me, “Time is closing in on me! There isn’t any left for me, and I spent the little I had on things that have not a bit of value in the place where I’m going.” She had a sense of values too late! Is it going to come too late to you?

I wish sometimes we could see all the events of life framed in the ultimate results they lead to. What a change there would be in our lives! We wouldn’t make such silly excuses for putting our Word-reading and prayer in the secondary place, and we’d not give ourselves to trivialities when eternal things are calling.

The one that lives for the present instead of eternity has no sense of values. It happens every day that someone will say, not by their word perhaps, but by their actions: “I just don’t care about getting the mansions in heaven and I’m not so interested in the eternal things! Give me rather a mansion here and a crown here, with a little fame and glory here, and perhaps a few trinkets here, and the favor of man and the pleasures of sin for a season—and I’ll be a little satisfied here.”

And the King of kings, who has offered them a robe of righteousness, a crown of glory, an eternal home among the many mansions there is put aside for these “other things” that really have no value!

—Virginia Brandt Berg

 
Our time with the Lord should rank as our highest priority, our most critical appointment. We can schedule a rendezvous with the Master of the universe, the mentor of all mentors, the wisest life coach, the most knowledgeable consultant ever. All He has to offer has been promised to us, if we seek first His kingdom and love Him with all our hearts, minds, and spirits and give Him our time on a regular basis as we work in partnership with Him. Pretty amazing trade-off, don’t you think?

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Our Identity in Christ

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSome things never change—the question “Who am I?” for example. That search for self is a universal, God-created experience. One thing that has changed in the last generation or two, though, is where people are looking for the answer. For many it’s not so much a search to find values and a purpose to base their lives on as a search for an identity, an image, with a heavy emphasis on individuality.

Never has there been so much importance put on expressing individuality as in today’s commerce and media-driven world. I did a quick search on the Internet and found 153,000 sites telling me how I could express my individuality—and most of them were selling something. There were the obvious ways (choice of clothes, hairstyle, music, diet, or car) and the more extreme (tattoos and body piercings). These days, anything marketable is fair game. Advertisements pitch items as diverse as custom cell phone tones, artisanal metal urns, hand drumming, and charity fund giving—all as means of expressing individuality. What consumers don’t seem to realize is that in their quest for individuality, they end up models of conform­ity—walking advertisements that promote other people’s ideas, tastes, creativity, and enterprise.

What was once a teenage rite of passage now follows us from cradle to grave—literally! A gift card company says, “You want your birth announcement to express your individuality in a special way.” A funeral home says, “Prearrangement means you can express your individuality in a funeral service.”

But stop and think. Are those surface things what make up the real you? Or is it the inner you, your spirit and the values motivating you and guiding your actions that determine the real you? What do you want to be known and remembered for—the image you project, or the positive influence you have on others? Who are you?

—Keith Phillips

 

Who does God say I am?

We all want to know who we are. We seek and search and try to “find ourselves.” Many of us have taken personality tests and other assessments. We learn that we are a lion, a beaver, an ENFP, an activator, a competitor, a high I, high D.

But as helpful as those tests can be, have you ever stopped to ask, “What does God think about me? Who does he say that I am?”

In all my years as a Christian, I had never asked the question quite this way until recently. And what I found is that God has a lot to say about what he thinks about us—a whole Bible full. But if we could summarize it in a short space, here’s how it might sound.

 
You are valuable

I am the Creator and you are my creation. I breathed into your nostrils the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7) I created you in my own image. (Genesis 1:27) My eyes saw your unformed substance. (Psalm 139:16) I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) I know the number of hairs on your head, and before a word is on your tongue, I know it. (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:4) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) …

However, from the very beginning, you exchanged the truth about me for a lie. You worshiped and served created things rather than me, the Creator. (Romans 1:25) You have sinned and fallen short of my glory. (Romans 3:23) …

And yet, in my great love, I gave my unique Son, that all those who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) While you were still sinners, Christ died for you. While you were still hostile toward me, you were reconciled to me by the death of my Son. (Romans 5:8, 10) Sin doesn’t have the last word. Grace does. (Romans 5:20)

Now everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. (Romans 10:13) You who have believed are born again. (1 Peter 1:3) I have adopted you. (Ephesians 1:5) You are children of God, heirs of God. (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:16–17) …

One day you will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet sound. (1 Corinthians 15:52) … You will be delivered from your body of death through Jesus Christ, and your dwelling place will be with me. (Romans 7:24–25; John 14:3) And I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. (Revelation 21:3–4) … You will enter my rest, inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you, and step into fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. (Hebrews 4:9–11; Matthew 25:34; Psalm 16:11)

But most of all, you will see my face and be with me where I am. (Revelation 22:4; John 14:3)

—John Rinehart

 

Righteous, holy, and loved

Where do you find yourself seeking identity outside of Christ? Do you find yourself holding tightly to something, in fear that you’ll be lost without it? Sometimes in God’s grace, he allows the very thing we fear losing the most to be taken away to reveal that we have sought our identity in something other than him. As he grows us in understanding our true identity is in him, we are then freed to enjoy and glorify him in the unique ways that he has created us.

In my flesh, I have gifts that are riddled with pride and imperfection, I have desires that often seek my own will more than God’s, and I have blessings that I’m prone to hold tightly to rather than use for God’s glory. But that is not my identity anymore. I am righteous, holy, loved, and able to bring Christ glory through the gifts and blessings he has given me. Not by anything of my own doing, but by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Praise God that he loves us enough to take our broken, rebellious hearts and, because of the sacrifice of his son, offer us a new identity in Christ. Let’s not settle for anything less.

—Sarah Walton

 

Reconciled to God

In our new identity in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, (Romans 6:6) but we are reconciled to God. (Romans 5:10) This new identity completely changes our relationship with God and our families, just as it changes the way we see the world. Our new identity in Christ means we have the same relationship with God that Christ has—we are His children. God has adopted us as sons. We are able to call Him “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15–16) We are both joint heirs (Galatians 3:29) and friends (John 15:15) of Christ. And this relationship is even stronger than those we have with our earthly families. (Matthew 10:35–37) Instead of fearing God as judge, we have the great privilege of coming to Him as our Father. We can approach Him with confidence and ask of Him what we need. (Hebrews 4:16) We can ask for His guidance and wisdom (James 1:5) and know that nothing will take us from Him. (Romans 8:38–39) …

We are no longer citizens of the world, but apart from it. (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1) We understand that we are a part of a heavenly, God-ruled kingdom. Things of the earth no longer draw us. (Colossians 3:2) We don’t fear or overemphasize suffering on earth or the trials we face, (Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:12–14) nor do we place importance on things the world values. (1 Timothy 6:9–11) Even our bodies and our actions reflect that our minds are no longer conformed to the world (Romans 12:1–2) but are now instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:13) And our new kingdom perspective means we understand that our enemy is not the people around us but the spiritual forces that endeavor to keep the people from knowing God. (Ephesians 6:12) …

One of the greatest blessings about our identity in Christ is the grace we’re given in order to grow into the spiritual maturity that truly reflects our new identity. (Philippians 1:6) Our lives in light of our identity in Christ are filled with a heavenly Father, a large, loving family, and the understanding that we are citizens of another kingdom and not of this earth.

—From gotquestions.org

 

In Christ, God has given us a new identity

I know better, but sometimes I feel like God loves me more when I’m keeping my raw emotions in check and less when I’m a little unglued. Do you ever feel that way? Well, God made a powerful statement about Jesus that encourages me in this regard: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 NIV) I found a new perspective in this verse when I realized that Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, performed miracles, or led the masses. God loved His Son and was pleased with Him not based on how He was performing but simply because Jesus is His Son. His Father established and affirmed Jesus’ identity before Jesus began His ministry. Jesus heard God, believed God, and remained filled.

In Christ, God has given us a new identity. (Romans 6:4) But unlike Christ, we tend to forget who we are. We look to fill our days and our lives with activities and performances, hoping to please others and even God. Our humanity makes us vulnerable and in need of daily reassurance. It’s similar to the phenomenon of being satisfied with a large dinner, only to wake up the next morning feeling famished. Truth comes in and fills us up. But our cracks, crevices, and circumstances allow the truth to drain right out of us, leaving a hollowness that can haunt.

Therefore, we must stand moment by moment in the reality of our identity before we throw ourselves into any activity. Grasp the truth and rub it deep. Let it sink in quickly and resist the drain of the day’s performances. Hear God say, “You are my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Well pleased because of who you are, not because of what you do. Well pleased because of an unfathomable, unconditional love—not earned but simply given.

 
—Lysa TerKeurst

You are God’s masterpiece ( Ephesians 2:10)

His perfect love is not based on our perfection or anything except Himself. (See 1 John 4:8) … He says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) He says that nothing can separate you from His love. (Romans 8:35) Don’t let the enemy steal your identity. You are God’s masterpiece. Believe it!

—Joyce Meyer

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

In Partnership with God—Part 1

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorRelevance. That’s a word we hear frequently. Relevance is often described as the information you have and the skills you have acquired, measured against the need or the market for that information and skills. In order to remain relevant and increase our chance for success in today’s rapidly changing world, we need to continually be learning, improving, and progressing.

The definition of “success” for a Christian is not limited to practical matters, such as advancement, position, efficiency, skill, discipline, wealth, and reaching our practical goals. Those are, of course, important elements to success in any walk of life, but for a Christian, those things are not the whole picture.

Other aspects of a well-balanced life for a Christian would include such things as:

  • Having a deep, growing, alive relationship with the Lord that results in the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
  • Being a faithful witness and a consistent representation of Jesus’ love to those we come in contact with.
  • Manifesting honesty, integrity, generosity, and reliability.
  • Raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
  • Being a loving husband, wife, coworker, friend, and individual.

It’s worth taking the time to reflect on these points and to consider how strong these elements are in our lives. It’s also worth considering any additional values the Lord would lead us to focus on that would contribute to our personal “success factor” as a Christian.

These qualities cannot be developed and maintained through willpower and discipline alone. Our relationship with the Lord, and our personal connection with Him through His Word, prayer, hearing His voice, and resting in Him, play a vital part in how we live our lives. Like most good things in life, a close relationship with God doesn’t come easily.

Just because things move faster in today’s society does not mean that achieving excellence is easier or requires less work or time. The saying “anything that’s worth something costs something” is just as true today as ever. Developing our relationship with the Lord is of enormous value to our lives, but it also costs a lot. We can’t expect a deep closeness with God to grow out of a few shallow, unplanned minutes here and there, or even a solid block of time that is full of distractions.

As Christians, we’ve entered into a life partnership with God. There are a few key habits or attitudes that will ensure that this partnership blossoms into its full potential.

To begin with, if we are to truly love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind, we need to put the Lord in first place in our lives, and make a conscious effort to keep Him there. Jesus wants us to love Him, hunger for His truth, and be willing to fulfill His plan for our lives. We can tell whether He has first place in our lives by looking at such things as how much time we spend with Him, how much we care about what He says and what He thinks about things, and where He and His will stand in our priorities.

The Lord doesn’t force us to love Him or spend time with Him. He doesn’t make us obey Him. He wants our love, time, and devotion to be a freewill offering, given from our hearts, not out of obligation. Devotional plans, schedules that facilitate progress in our spiritual lives, and a disciplined approach to our spirituality can be helpful for us to ensure our time with Him is quality time. In fact, He will assist us in coming up with effective plans for our spiritual growth, but He still wants our efforts to be done out of love for Him and because we sincerely want to be close to Him.

Another important aspect of our partnership with God is to walk in the fear of Him. We know that the Lord loves us unconditionally and He forgives us for our sins. At times we feel the Lord’s presence intimately and are keenly aware of His love, grace, and mercy. This doesn’t mean, however, that He’s so chummy with us that He will turn a blind eye if we repeatedly, intentionally, and on an ongoing basis, step outside His will, disobey His Word, ignore His still, small voice speaking to our hearts, and disregard the principles He’s put forth in His Word.

We need to maintain a healthy fear of the Lord in our lives. We should be afraid to do things we know are wrong and displeasing to Him and contrary to His Word, knowing that the blessings we receive from the Lord—which include physical protection, provision, health, and happiness—depend on our obedience to Him.

Part of having the fear of the Lord is keeping our hearts free of unconfessed sin. If we have sinned, we need to ask the Lord to forgive us, and sometimes we also need to ask others to forgive us. Striving to keep our hearts and spirits right with the Lord can strengthen our faith to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” in prayer to receive His mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (See Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

In order to have spiritual success, we also need to have humility. Growing in our relationship with the Lord requires genuine humility. We have to realize that no matter how smart we might be, how much fruit we bear or the success we enjoy, how fit and healthy we are, or how wonderful a family we have, we still need the Lord’s help and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to help us fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Understanding our need for the Lord is a lifelong process, and we grow in our humility before Him as we endure the battles, setbacks, and difficulties of life. The more we cling to and depend on the Lord through a sincere awareness of our weaknesses and limitations, the more we’ll be able to recognize His anointing in our lives and in the lives of others. The more we acknowledge the Lord working in our lives, the more we’ll glorify Him.

To have this kind of humility might not be the first thing on our priority list, but as we grow in the Lord and mature, we’ll realize how true it is that we’re all pretty weak and fallible without the Lord’s miraculous anointing.

 

*

 
Start your day with time with Me, and then let that time and My presence linger throughout the day. Before your day begins, commune with Me in quietness and confidence. There, in those quiet moments with Me, you will find your strength, your peace, your power and love and anointing for the day. (See Isaiah 30:15)
—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

 
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
—Luke 10:38–42

 
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to the Lord. That’s the only thing that’s really necessary: listening to the Lord, sitting at His feet and hearing Him and hearing His Word. Help us to remember, Lord, that Your Word comes first, that Your love comes first, and Your love is manifested in Your Word, Your loving Word on which our lives and work for You stand. This is our whole duty and our whole obligation and our whole job: to love You and to love others, to love Your Word and love others with Your Word.
—David Brandt Berg

 
 
Continue reading here. In Partnership with God—Part 2

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

“Pray Without Ceasing”

A compilation

What does it mean to pray without ceasing?

free-bible-studies-online-anchorPaul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing” can be confusing. Obviously, it cannot mean we are to be in a head-bowed, eyes-closed posture all day long. Paul is not referring to nonstop talking, but rather an attitude of God-consciousness and God-surrender that we carry with us all the time. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions.

When our thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement, and anger, we are to consciously and quickly turn every thought into prayer and every prayer into thanksgiving. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul commands us to stop being anxious and instead, “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV) He taught the believers at Colossae to devote themselves “to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV) Paul exhorted the Ephesian believers to see prayer as a weapon to use in fighting spiritual battles. (Ephesians 6:18) As we go through the day, prayer should be our first response to every fearful situation, every anxious thought, and every undesired task that God commands. A lack of prayer will cause us to depend on ourselves instead of depending on God’s grace. Unceasing prayer is, in essence, continual dependence upon and communion with the Father.

For Christians, prayer should be like breathing. You do not have to think to breathe, because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, we enter into a spiritual atmosphere where God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on our lives. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers, we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.

—From gotquestions.org

 
Lessons on candles and prayers

I have to admit that there are some verses in the Bible I have had a very difficult time with. One of them is “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV) That verse is often on my mind, and I have learned how important it is to pray. I pray often, I pray a lot, but I have to confess that I do not pray continually, so I have often felt guilty about not praying enough.

No matter how good my intentions are, my mind often gets caught up in other things. I will shoot up a quick prayer before I drive, before I eat, or sleep, or when I wake up. I will pray when someone asks me to pray for them. I will often have a prayer list of things I pray for every day. I will pray for someone when they come to mind and I pray for whatever they are going through. But no matter how much I pray, or how long I pray or how well I pray, I know it is never enough. I just can never reach the goal of praying continually.

Recently my daughter flew to Europe. It was a long flight with various connections and I really wanted to keep praying for her all along the way until she arrived safely at her destination. I found a little candle called “Angel’s Whispers” and felt that it really spoke to me that even if I failed to pray continually, her angels would keep praying for her. So I put the candle in a safe, visible place, lit it, prayed for her trip, and then I went about my day. Every time I walked by the candle I would pray for her, and every time I noticed the fragrance in the air, I thanked the Lord for answering my prayer. The candle just kept burning until I heard she arrived safely.

Maybe our prayers are a lot like that candle. Our faith and trust in the Lord is like sweet-smelling incense rising to His throne. Maybe He enjoys the fragrance of our prayers like I enjoyed that candle. The aroma of the candle filled my home. It is a beautiful picture to think that maybe the fragrance of our prayers fills the halls of heaven.

So I decided I will stop worrying about all the times I haven’t prayed. I will do what I can and try to be as prayerful as possible. When there are times that I am desperate, I will light a fragrant candle and give my thoughts and prayers to Him, as much as I am able. Then I will just trust Him with all the rest, with my life and the lives of those I love, casting all my cares on Him because I know He cares for me. Then I will put the verse, “Pray continually” in context. I will try to always rejoice. I will try to pray continually and I will give thanks in every circumstance, because I know that is His will.

—Joyce Suttin

 
Be in constant communion with God

You can carry on a continuous, open-ended conversation with him throughout your day, talking with him about whatever you are doing or thinking at that moment. “Praying without ceasing” means conversing with God while shopping, driving, working, or performing any other everyday tasks.

A common misconception is that “spending time with God” means being alone with him. Of course, as Jesus modeled, you need time alone with God, but that is only a fraction of your waking hours. Everything you do can be “spending time with God” if he is invited to be a part of it and you stay aware of his presence.

The classic book on learning how to develop a constant conversation with God is “Practicing the Presence of God.”It was written in the 17th century by Brother Lawrence, a humble cook in a French monastery. Brother Lawrence was able to turn even the most commonplace and menial tasks, like preparing meals and washing dishes, into acts of praise and communion with God.

The key to friendship with God, he said, is not changing what you do, but changing your attitude toward what you do. What you normally do for yourself, you begin doing for God, whether it is eating, bathing, working, relaxing, or taking out the trash.

Today we often feel we must “get away” from our daily routine in order to worship God, but that is only because we haven’t learned to practice his presence all the time. Brother Lawrence found it easy to worship God through the common tasks of life; he didn’t have to go away for special spiritual retreats.

This is God’s ideal. In Eden, worship was not an event to attend, but a perpetual attitude; Adam and Eve were in constant communion with God. Since God is with you all the time, no place is any closer to God than the place where you are right now. The Bible says, “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” (Ephesians 4:6b NCV)

—Rick Warren

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

What Is Trust?

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorQuite often the words faith and trust are tossed about in religious circles. These words are used like salt, seasoning any dialogue with a distinctly “Christian” flavor. But what do they mean? Is faith the same thing as trust? If not, what is the difference?

Faith is a noun. It is something we have. As He reveals Himself and His love to us, this “knowing” of Him in our head (knowledge), and in our heart (beliefs), is the substance, our evidence, of Him and His love. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith says, “I know Him, and I believe!” But faith is not trust.

Trust is a verb. Trust is something we do. Trust is faith in action! It is the manifestation of our faith in our thoughts and actions. While faith says “He can,” trust says “He is … and I will think and act accordingly!”

It is far easier to have faith in God; there are unbelievers who have this. It is a lot harder to exercise trust in Him.

—Ben (http://christianity.yoexpert.com)

 
What does the Bible say about trust?

The words translated “trust” in the Bible literally mean “a bold, confident, sure security or action based on that security.” Trust is not exactly the same as faith, which is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8–9) Rather, trusting is what we do because of the faith we have been given. Trusting is believing in the promises of God in all circumstances, even in those where the evidence seems to be to the contrary. Hebrews 11 talks about faith, which is accepting and believing the truth that God reveals about Himself, supremely in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the practical consequence of faith in God is trust, which we prove by living out our full acceptance of God’s promises day by day. Furthermore, it is by this trust that we are promised peace: “You will keep in peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

The classic verse regarding trust is Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” This verse sums up the Bible’s teaching on trust. First, it is the Lord in whom we are to trust, not ourselves or our plans, and certainly not the world’s wisdom and devices. We trust in the Lord because He and He alone is truly trustworthy. His Word is trustworthy, (Psalm 93:5; 111:7; Titus 1:9) His nature is faithful and true, (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 25:10; 145:13; 146:6) and His plans for us are perfect and purposeful. (Isaiah 46:10; Jeremiah 29:11) Further, because of God’s nature, we are to trust in Him with all our hearts, committing every aspect of our lives to Him in complete confidence. Finally, we are not to trust in ourselves, because our understanding is temporal, finite, and tainted by our sinful natures. Trusting in ourselves is like walking confidently across a rotten wooden bridge over a yawning chasm thousands of feet deep. Disaster inevitably follows.

Trust in God is a feature of many of the psalms of David. There are 39 references to trust in the Psalms alone, whether referring to trusting in God and His Word, or to not trusting in riches or the things of this world. It is on the basis of this trust that David finds deliverance from all the evil he encounters. Many of David’s psalms describe situations when he was pursued by Saul and his army, as well as his other enemies, and always the Lord came to his aid. One thing that can be noted about biblical trust is that it always engenders further trust in our God. The man of God never stops trusting in God completely. His faith may be knocked, he may stumble, or he may fall into the foulest of sins, but “though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:24) The man of God knows that, though trials will beset in this life, his trust will not waver because that trust is based on faith in the promises of God: the promise of eternal joy with the Lord and the promise of an inheritance that “can never perish, spoil and fade.” (1 Peter 1:4)

—From gotquestions.org

*

Where does trust come from? Hint: it never comes from the good times and from the easy projects.

We trust people because they showed up when it wasn’t convenient, because they told the truth when it was easier to lie and because they kept a promise when they could have gotten away with breaking it.

Every tough time and every pressured project is another opportunity to earn the trust of someone you care about.

—Seth Godin

*

Some people assume that once you become a Christian and put your trust in the Lord, that He automatically protects you from any and all bad things. That’s not how trust works. Trust doesn’t eliminate problems, stress, or difficulties that might arise, but it does provide us a firm foundation for our confidence: God. It gives us an outlet for our anxiety: God.

I find it helpful to review God’s promises to remind myself of His unconditional love for me. He loves me. He loves you. He cares. He wants to help us. He has promised to take care of us. When we put ourselves and our loved ones in His hands, we can know that they are in the best place possible.

Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” I believe that aligning our spirits with God’s Spirit is the most important aspect when we are in dire need of peace, hope, faith, and trust.

—Peter Amsterdam

*

What is trust? Well, I think I know,
It’s having faith to just let go.
It’s walking by faith, not by sight,
It’s hope in dawn, in dark of night.
It comes in when your faith runs out,
It holds on when you start to doubt.
It knows, God knows what He is doin’
When you’re sittin’ there a stewin’.
And it’s not domineering,
Cause it knows the One who’s steering.
It’s believing He’s in control,
When tests and trials rend your soul.

It’s not leaning to your own understanding,
Nor is it pushy and overdemanding.
It doesn’t fear what man can do to you.
It brings peace, unity, harmony—love too!
It’s hope in light at the end of the tunnel,
When your soul is being poured down the funnel.
It’s accepting the place that He’s put you in,
Then doing whatever’s required with a grin.
It’s even accepting the way you are made,
And then not questioning the part you’ve played.
I think it’s faith when you’re stretched to the limit
And you still have confidence that God is in it.

—Philip Martin

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Thank God for Moms

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorMother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.
—William Makepeace Thackeray

*

Her children rise up and call her blessed.
—Proverbs 31:28

*

To a child’s ear, “mother” is magic in any language.
—Arlene Benedict

*

Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother.
—St. Clare of Assisi

*

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.
—Isaiah 66:13

*

My prayer for you, mother.

Heavenly Father,
Hold my precious mother close to Your heart as I hold her close to mine.
Let her know today and every day how much I love her.
Lord, comfort her mind and reassure her
that her motherly care was everything I needed and wanted, and that I love her dearly.
Lord, comfort her body as she ages and grant her health and vitality as she goes through her days here on earth.
Bring all good things to my mother, dear God, and bless her every day, in every way.
In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

—Author unknown

*

She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to the children, who ate with avidity.

“She hath kept none for herself,” grumbled the sergeant.

“Because she is not hungry,” said a soldier.

“Because she is a mother,” said the sergeant.

—Victor Hugo

*

What Dinah Craik wrote about friends can be beautifully applied to mothers: “Oh, the comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
—Abi F. May

*

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
—Strickland Gillilan

*

I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.
—John Wesley

*

A wise woman once said to me: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”
—Hodding Carter

*

Old-fashioned motherhood never goes out of style, because it’s all about love. I made people to need love, and I intended for them to first experience that love through their mothers. Mothers are the embodiment of love and care and tenderness—love that even the tiniest baby can feel and respond to.

Love is the best thing in life! It’s the most important lesson anyone can ever learn and the greatest gift anyone can ever receive—and mothers teach it and give it like no one else. Life would go on fine without many things, but not without mothers. Old-fashioned motherhood is here to stay!

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

 
Why God Made Moms

Answers given by second-grade schoolchildren to the following questions:

 
Why did God make mothers?

  1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
  2. Mostly to clean the house.
  3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

 
How did God make mothers?

  1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
  2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
  3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

 
What ingredients are mothers made of?

  1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

 
Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

  1. We’re related.
  2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

 
What kind of a little girl was your mom?

  1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
  2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
  3. They say she used to be nice.

 
What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

  1. His last name.
  2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
  3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

 
Why did your mom marry your dad?

  1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
  2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
  3. My grandma says that mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

 
Who’s the boss at your house?

  1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goofball.
  2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
  3. I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

 
What’s the difference between moms and dads?

  1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
  2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
  3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
  4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

 
What does your mom do in her spare time?

  1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
  2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

 
What would it take to make your mom perfect?

  1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
  2. Diet. You know, her hair. I’d dye it, maybe blue.

 
If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

  1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that.
  2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it, not me.
  3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

—Source unknown

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Self-Control and Avoiding Temptation—Part 2

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSome people are strongly affected by their emotions. That’s not altogether bad, unless the emotions are negative. If you have a tendency to get angry and blow off steam, speed when driving because you’re frustrated or upset, binge-drink when you’re sad or lonely, or other such actions, it’s important to learn to control your emotions. Managing your emotions doesn’t mean you stop feeling or expressing yourself.

 
 
Managing your emotions means:

You don’t overreact to situations.
You take a moment to put things in perspective.
You remain firmly in control, so that your emotions enhance your life, rather than ruin it.
You make your emotions work for you. Not against you.
—Burke Hedges, You, Inc.

Consider this true story.

When the athlete was only a boy, it was obvious to everybody that he was blessed with special physical gifts. He loved all sports, and excelled at every one he ever tried.

When he was nine years old, his father handed him a warped wooden tennis racquet. From the first swing of the racquet, the boy was hooked! It wasn’t long before he was beating all the kids his age throughout the country.

By the time he was 12 he was regularly beating the best adult players in his country, and he could give tennis pros a run for their money. Everyone predicted he would be a world champion one day; that is, if he could only learn how to control his temper.

You see, when something went wrong, like when he missed an easy shot or if an umpire made a bad call, the boy had a fit. His temper got so out of control that he began losing matches he should have won.

One day his father came out to watch him in the finals of a big tournament. Sure enough, the boy started losing his temper, shouting, cursing, throwing his racquet. After 10 minutes of witnessing this obnoxious behavior, the father walked onto the court, and announced to everyone present, “This match is over. My son defaults.” And with that he walked over to his son and said in a stern voice, “Come with me.”

When they got home the father placed the racquet in a closet and said, “You are not to touch this racquet or any other racquet for six months, end of discussion.”

At the end of the six months, his father handed the racquet to his son with these words: “If I hear so much as one curse word, or see so much as one toss of your racquet in anger, I’ll take it from you for good. Either you control your temper or I will control it for you.”

The boy was so overjoyed to be able to play that he took to the sport with more passion than ever before. By the time he was 16, he was winning professional tournaments all over Europe.

With each tournament, the young man was getting better and better, and the press started calling him “teen angel”! You see, after his father’s suspension, the boy learned to manage his emotions even under the most stressful conditions.

Whether it was the first point of an easy match or the last nerve-racking point of a hard-fought final, his expression and demeanor remained the same. He was in complete control of his emotions.

He went on to become what many experts consider the greatest player ever. He won 14 major championships in all, including six French Open titles, the first when he was only 18 years old, and five straight Wimbledon titles. The one-time tennis brat, later known as “Teen-Angel,” was Bjorn Borg.

Borg would be the first to admit that learning to manage his emotions was the turning point in his tennis career,if not his life.Whether you are five years old or 55 years old, managing your emotions means understanding that you can’t always control what happens to you. But as Bjorn Borg learned, you CAN control your emotional response.

—Burke Hedges, You, Inc. (adapted)

Bjorn Borg learned to control his emotions as a teenager, and the results were tremendous success and excellent character. Borg’s father stepped in and brought the lessons home for him. Our heavenly Father may, in some cases, do the same, if necessary, in order to teach us self-restraint and self-control. At other times, however, He may allow us to continue in the wrong direction we’ve chosen until eventually we see for ourselves where our lack of self-restraint has taken us, which is usually not where we had originally intended to go. If we want to be “quick studies,” we won’t wait for the Lord to intervene, or expect that He always will. Sometimes—often, in fact—the Lord is willing to let us learn the hard way. So it’s important that we learn to be responsible for our actions and emotions, personally.

Acting on runaway emotions will have consequences. To not think things through can have life-altering repercussions. And unfortunately, often those consequences can never be undone, nor those repercussions reversed.

Today’s society offers more freedom and more choices. We also face more temptations, more distractions, and more permissiveness. Therefore, it’s crucial that we fully understand and respect the power of our emotions, and that we learn to take responsibility for them and manage them well.

It’s never too late to learn to control your temper or manage your emotions. There are many practical tips on this, which can be effective, but the most effective way to grow in this area is through communion with the Lord, in prayer, reading God’s Word, and committing our lives and emotions to Him.

 
Live without regrets

Another part of self-control is related to discipline. For example, do you have enough self-control to walk away from something appealing or “fun” when it’s not the right thing to do? Or to resist doing something crazy, like accepting a dangerous dare from a friend? Do you have enough self-control to keep from overdrinking so as to avoid making a fool of yourself, or worse yet, causing some serious damage? Maybe your drunken antics hurt your relationship with your significant other. Or maybe you wrecked your car, hurt someone, or lost your job. Perhaps you flunked out of school or caused people to question your character.

Taking charge of your life requires discipline. Yes, tons of it. But discipline is neither readily attained nor easily maintained. It demands the mental stamina to overcome empty passions and faulty habits. It also requires the fortitude to resist the pull of so many temptations that otherwise might lure us toward meaningless sideshows. But more than anything, it demands a relentless focus on what matters most.
—Stephen Covey

Researchers have found twenty things that people do when they are young that they will likely regret when they are forty. Some of the things noted include smoking, posting risqué photos on the Internet, unwise social networking, getting tattoos in visible places, body piercings and plugs, overspending and getting into debt, random unprotected sex, dropping out of school, and being too busy or disinterested to spend time with the people they love.

There is a wide range of opinions on the validity of these actions, and some people might not agree with these points being a risk or something to avoid. But the point is this: You will not always have the mindsets, attitudes, or approach to life that you have today, and one day you might look back on what you’re doing now, on certain actions that you can’t take back or undo, and say, “What in the world was I thinking?!”

Leaders ought not to worry greatly about occasional mistakes, but they must vigilantly guard against those things that will make them feel ashamed.
—Jon Huntsman

We are making choices now that will affect the course of the rest of our life. Undoubtedly, we want that course to be a good one. That is why it’s important that we first of all know what the Lord wants, as well as where we’re headed and why, in order to then develop the right habits and the proper disciplines needed to help us follow that path. We each hold our future in our hands; we determine what it will be by our daily choices.

God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. But what I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it! When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, and not loss; good, and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price that I have paid for it.
—Attributed to W. Heartsill Wilson

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.