Category Archives: Bible

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.

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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.

There Is No Limit!

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-there-is-no-limit

Moody had no more than a 5th-6th grade education and did poorly even at that. When he attended his first Sunday School class, he thumbed through Genesis looking for John. When applying to join Mt. Vernon Congregational Church, he was rejected because of his utter ignorance of Christian teaching. His friends thought that seldom was anyone seen more unlikely to fill any sphere of public or extended usefulness. But God can take what seems small and insignificant and use it greatly, if it is given over completely to Him.

At the age of 17, Dwight L. Moody left his poor widowed mother’s farm to set out on his own in the big city of Boston, where he began working in his uncle’s shoe store as a clerk. The year was 1854. Then one day, the most significant event that ever happened in his entire life took place:

Edward Kimball, a dedicated Christian who had met young Dwight when he first came to the city, felt that he needed to witness to him and tell him about Jesus and God’s plan of Salvation. So Kimball went to the store where Moody worked, and finding him in the back room wrapping shoes, told him how he could receive Jesus as his personal Saviour. Moody listened attentively and prayed with him to receive Jesus on the spot!

Shortly afterwards, Kimball challenged his young new convert with these stirring words: “Dwight L. Moody, there is no limit to what God can do with a man who is YIELDED and WILLING to do His will!” Moody looked him in the eye and replied, “By the grace of God, Edward, I am DETERMINED to be that man!”–And he WAS! A short while later he moved to Chicago where he began preaching the Gospel and witnessing to others, and was soon so thrilled to be able to lead other folks to Jesus, that he quit the shoe business and began serving the Lord fulltime! He went on to become one of the World’s greatest evangelists, with literally tens of thousands of eternal souls won as a result!

But what if Moody had NOT determined to yield to the Lord?–What a sad loss it would have been not only to himself, but to literally MILLIONS who heard the Gospel through his ministry! Well, the same holds true for each of US: If we are not yielded and open to God’s will in our lives, and willing to do WHATEVER He may ask of us, we’ll NEVER become what God wants us to be!–And if we’re not what HE wants us to BE, we will never be able to ACCOMPLISH what He wants us to DO.–Which could be very sad, not only for US personally, but also for all those that the Lord wants us to somehow help or reach with His Love.

“But,” you may object, “I could never do anything great for the Lord like MOODY did!–I’m no great evangelist or soul-winner!” Well, neither was Moody to begin with! He was just a poor farm boy and a below average student who became bored with life on the farm and so moved to the big city. After several weeks in the city, he set a new goal for himself–to become a big businessman and to make $100,000. Giving his life to God’s service was the LAST thing on his mind!

But when he received Jesus as his Saviour, and he knew how much the LORD had given for HIM, then he determined to give HIS life to the LORD. “How do I give my life to Jesus?” you may ask. Well, the first step is to make sure you have asked Him into your heart. Then you need to YIELD yourself to Him and, as the Bible says, “Draw close to GOD, then HE will draw close to YOU.” (James 4:8) This is the secret of success of EVERY great man or woman of God whom He has ever used: They drew close to the Lord and relied solely upon HIM and HIS power and His Word for guidance, strength and inspiration.

God’s Word tells us, “Present your body as a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy and acceptable unto God, for this is your REASONABLE service. And do NOT CONFORM yourself to THIS World, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your MIND. THEN you will KNOW what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God!” (Romans 12:1,2) When we really submit ourselves to the Lord and yield ourselves to Him for His service, THEN we’ll know His Will for our lives!

Despite all of our faults, weaknesses and inabilities, there really is NO LIMIT to what God can do with us if we will simply turn our lives completely over to Him and be willing to let Him make us what HE wants us to be! Of course, that is a very BIG “IF”, because we each have our own free will, and we can CHOOSE to either yield to Him and “seek FIRST the KINGDOM OF GOD” (Matthew 6:33), or we can seek first our OWN desires and our OWN plans and our OWN ways. The choice is ours–and whether or not we have His full blessing and His help will depend on whether or not we are willing to give HIM first place in our lives.

One thing that many folks don’t seem to understand is that when the Bible speaks about, “Seeking first the Kingdom of God”, it’s not merely talking about the “RELIGIOUS” part of our lives. The Lord is talking about our ENTIRE life, our FUTURE, our PLANS, what we actually DO with ourselves. It is not enough for us to say, “Yes, Lord, I know that I need to be yielded to You, so I will spend a certain amount of time every day reading Your Word and praying.–BUT, Lord, I really must proceed with MY plans to do thus and thus with my career, or to do this or that with my future, etc.!” To turn our lives over to the Lord–to really present ourselves as LIVING SACRIFICES upon His altar–means that we put our will, our plans, our future, our desires, our ambitions–EVERYTHING–completely in the LORD’S hands. We know that His Kingdom is made of SOULS, and that He wants us to “preach the Gospel to EVERY creature” in order to win as many souls as we can. (Mark 16:15) So to be yielded to His will is to be willing to do whatever we can to reach OTHERS with His Word and His Love. To give ourselves to Him like this, He says, is only our “REASONABLE SERVICE”.–It’s the LEAST we can do for Jesus, considering what HE has done for US. (Romans 12:1)

So are you willing, not to present YOUR program to God for HIS signature?–Not even to be presented with GOD’S program for YOUR signature, but are you willing to sign a BLANK SHEET OF PAPER and let GOD fill it in without your even knowing in advance what His program is going to be? Think about it. Are you willing to honestly and sincerely turn your life over to Him and then do WHATEVER He wants you to do? If so, God has a WONDERFUL and GLORIOUS future in store for you!

You can be sure that once you yield your life to the Lord, He will bless and use you as much as He can! Of course, not everybody is called to be a D.L. Moody, or an Apostle Paul. But God has a special calling and place in His Kingdom for each of us. A thorough reading of the Gospels makes it clear that He calls different people in different ways. Jesus and His fulltime disciples had many FRIENDS who didn’t always give up their businesses or their professions, perhaps because they could do more good for the Lord and His work from their positions of influence.

It’s a high privilege and a special calling to be one of His fulltime disciples.–Jesus had only 12 to 70 fulltime disciples who were with Him & followed Him around almost continuously. But He also had many thousands of others who received His Words and believed and spread them to others, who were important and necessary friends, helpers and protectors whom God had ORDAINED for such a ministry!

But WHATEVER you do, make sure you do it with the RIGHT MOTIVATION–because you want to serve the LORD and WIN OTHERS into His Kingdom. If you believe that God’s highest calling is to, “Go into all the World and preach the Gospel to every creature”, and THAT’S what you really want to do–or make it possible for OTHERS to do–then you are “seeking first the Kingdom of GOD”, & the Lord will BLESS and be WITH you!

“He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing His Truth can dim.
He gives the very BEST to those,
Who leave the choices up to HIM!”

Will YOU leave the choices up to HIM? If so, He will mightily bless you beyond your wildest dreams and imagination!–“There is no limit!”
 

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One summer morning a child stood in a great cathedral watching the sunlight stream through the beautiful glass windows. The Bible characters in the windows were bathed with the brillant colours that resulted. When she was asked, “What is a saint?” she replied, “A saint is a person who lets the Light through.”

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) 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.

Take a Trip Out of This World!

–And into the Fifth Dimension!–And See the Spirit World!

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-take-a-trip-out-of-this-world

Most church-oriented Christians, Pastors and Bible teachers today tend to shy away from the subject of the Spirit World because they feel that it borders on spiritualism or spiritism, and that talking about the personal appearances of Angels or of Saints who have departed from this life sounds to them too much like having to do with “familiar” spirits, or dealing with evil spirits and devils!–Practices which the Bible warns against. But just because God’s Word condemns dealing with evil spirits, this does not mean that we are supposed to ignore and shut ourselves off completely in ignorance of God’s Own marvellous Heavenly Spiritual World in which He Himself dwells with His Son Jesus, His Holy Spirit, all of His Angels and ministering spirits, and all of the good spirits of the countless millions of departed Saints!

We should not be left in darkness regarding the wonderful World of God’s Spirit, the only real World there is, the eternal, everlasting World, the Spirit Realm, the Heavenly Plane, the Fifth Dimension, that thrilling, exciting, marvellous, glorious and great unseen World of the Spirit!–Unseen that is, by the natural eyes of Man. (1Corinthians 2:14).

Even a lot of scientists today seem to have more faith in it than many modernistic unbelieving preachers, and are speaking of ESP–extra-sensory perception–telepathic communication, deja vu etc. Science can no longer deny that these things exist. They’ve been proven by actual experience and experimentation, and been found to be real beyond a shadow of a doubt! Science even says that it is entirely possible that there is another dimension–another World–which could be quite scientifically co-existent with this one, and even all around us!

A lot of people today, especially searching youth, are awakening to the fact that the Spiritual World is real, God is real and the Devil is real. In their pursuit of genuine spirituality and real religion and the actual supernatural and the miraculous, many have gone into drugs, ancient mysticism and the Spirit World. The reason that so many people have such incredible and sometimes frightening experiences when they take LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs is that they sometimes actually see spirits and demons, and get glimpses into different spiritual planes! But they’re really playing with fire!–Going into the Spirit World without the Lord’s protection is a very dangerous thing!

Let’s now take a brief look at some of the different inhabitants of the mysterious, unseen Spirit World, beginning with God Himself:

 

Almighty God!

Jesus told us that “God is a Spirit” and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” (John 4:24). He is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere-present, in everything, around everything–everywhere!–He says, “Even the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain Me!” (1Kings 8:27). He is not confined to the Earth nor our Solar System nor the Milky Way Galaxy nor even the entire Universe!–Much less some ridiculous little man-made temples, church buildings or so-called “houses of God”! He is all and in all and everything!–Far beyond the limited mind of Man and our human understanding!

The Bible also speaks of Him as “the Father of spirits” in Hebrews 12:9, and “the God of the spirits” in Numbers 16:22 and 27:16. So He is a spiritual God Who dwells and operates in the Spiritual Realm, and from there conducts His behind-the-scene labours almost totally invisible and unseen.

We usually think of God as a Person, because the Bible has no other simple way to present or depict Him to us except in the sense of a Person.–Otherwise, we couldn’t personally relate to Him. But obviously, He is not a mere Person like we are. He is the Power of the Universe, the Power of Love, and in a sense, He is everything, everywhere.

How are we, mere mud-bound mortals, going to picture, visualise or grasp any kind of conception of the Eternal Power of the Universe?–How can you picture Love? The only way we can grasp these abstract concepts is to visualise them in such a way that they are personified, characterised or symbolised.–Which is why the Bible does picture God in the form of a Person, a loving Father-figure that we can better relate to.

He is the great Basic Power and Guiding Light of the Universe Who has brought us all into being, and as our benevolent Fatherly Creator, has a benign purpose in store for us, a final fulfilment of all of our aspirations for love, life, liberty and happiness!

The Bible not only tells us that “God is a Spirit”, but also that “God is Love”! (1John 4:8). Therefore God is the Spirit of Love.–And how did He show us His Love? “God so loved the World that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16).

 

The Son of God

God sent His Son, Jesus, into the World to personify God and to show us what God Himself is like, in a sense to show us Who God is–to bring God down to our human level of comprehension, our human level of perception so that we could somewhat understand Him.–In other words, to bring Him in a sense out of the Fifth Dimension down to our lowly physical plane to show us what God is like!–And we see Him in Jesus, His Son!

Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30). Prior to His being born and living in a fleshly human body here on Earth, He and the Father were together in a very close personal Heavenly fellowship, which He had to forsake while He was down here on Earth. “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …And the Word was made flesh, and lived among us.” (John 1:1,14). God is a Spirit, unseen by our natural eyes, but Jesus, in coming to Earth and becoming a Man, became “the image of the invisible God. For in Christ all the fullness of God lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 1:15; 2:9).

Jesus came down here to our lowly Earthly plane in order to show us God’s Love and to die on the cross for our sins. But He didn’t leave the Halls of Heaven to come and stay down here forever! Nor is He still asleep in the grave since His crucifixion!–He is risen!–And, having been transformed at His Resurrection, He now lives forever in a glorious and powerful immortal body! (For a description of it see Revelation 1:13-18.) He is now “seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty of God in the Heavens.” (Hebrews 8:1). (See also, “The Lover of All Lovers!”)

 

The Holy Spirit!

The third, and perhaps most mysterious member of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. Shortly before His departure from this life, Jesus told His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. For unless I go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But when the Spirit of Truth comes, you will be guided into all Truth!” (John 16:7,13).

There is something about God’s communication system that required Jesus’ personal presence at the right hand of God, at Headquarters, the Throne of the Father, the main broadcasting and data processing center, the principal communication center–something which required Christ’s personal presence there to direct operations in order that all of us might be reached equally, fairly and simultaneously by His power, through the marvellous power and communication of His Holy Spirit!

Jesus had to leave His handful of disciples–the few–that He might send His Holy Spirit to the multitudes–to the many–who have received & believed on Him through the ages! He had to remove His bodily presence from the handful in order that He might be with all of us in the power of the presence of His Own precious Holy Spirit.–With all of us–with the untold millions, even hundreds of millions and billions of His born-again children through the ages!–Something He never could have done in bodily, personal, physical presence!

Another amazing fact that surprises many people is that the Holy Spirit is portrayed in the Bible in the form of a Woman!–As the comforting Spirit of Love, the Mother-figure of the Trinity! In the first chapter of the first Book of the Bible, Genesis 1, the story of Creation, it says, “And God said, `Let Us make Man in Our image, in Our likeness.’ So God created Man in His Own image, in the image of God He created him; male & female He created them!” (Genesis 1:26,27). Here we see God the Father obviously speaking with someone as He’s talking about making Man in “Our” image, after “Our” likeness. And then to show you what “Our” image & likeness is, it says, “male and female He created them!” So obviously one of the parties of the Trinity must be female! And we know God the Father & Jesus, the Son, are male!–So Who does that leave to be the Female of the Trinity?–The Holy Spirit!

A clear confirmation of this feminine portrayal of the Holy Spirit is also found in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, where God’s Spirit is portrayed as “Wisdom”: “Does not Wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise Her voice? She cries aloud, `To you, O men, I call; I raise My voice to all mankind. Hear, for I will speak of excellent things, and I open My lips to speak of right things. For My mouth shall speak Truth! The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the Earth existed! When He prepared the Heavens, I was there, when He marked out the foundations of the Earth. Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always in His presence!” (Proverbs 8).

Of course, as with God Himself, the Holy Spirit is just that–a Spirit, which is merely represented or pictured as having a bodily form.–In this case, female, being the Mother-figure of the Trinity, just as God is pictured as a Father-figure. But this does not necessarily mean that God actually looks like most artists have tried to portray Him–as an elderly gentleman with long flowing white hair and beard.–Nor does it mean that the Holy Spirit is an actual woman. These are mere portrayals, representations, illustrations to help our finite, child-like, human minds to somehow grasp and personify our Heavenly Father and His precious Holy Spirit of Love!–But strictly theologically speaking, only Jesus is an actual Person with an actual body like ours! (For more on the Holy Spirit, see “The Spirit of Love!”)

 

Angels!

Besides God the Father, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, there are countless multitudes of other good spirits who are serving the Lord and helping us in the Spirit Realm. Speaking of His Heavenly Hosts, His Word asks us: “Are they not all Angels, ministering spirits, sent to serve and minister to them who shall inherit Salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Indeed they are! The word “Angel” means “messenger”, and they are frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as ministering to and giving Heavenly messages to Men. Angels are usually invisible, but can materialise and appear in human form, and even frequently walk among us without our being aware of it! (Genesis 19:1-2; Judges 6:11-22; 13:2-21; Hebrews 13:2).

Angels are powerful immortal spiritual beings (Psalm 103:20; 2Peter 2:11a) who were present at Creation (Job 38:4-7), and whom the Lord has assigned to watch over Men, to protect them (2Kings 6:15-18) and to minister to the Lord’s children! Thank God for His Angels, who are watching over us and guard and protect us continually, even your personal Guardian Angel, whose job is you!

“The Angel of the Lord encamps round about those that fear Him, and delivers them! He will command His Angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. The Lord makes His Angels spirits; His ministers flames of fire, ministering spirits.” (Psalm 34:7; 91:11,12; 104:4; Hebrews 1:7,14).

 

Departed Saints and Holy Ghosts!

In several cases in the Bible, the spiritual messengers sent to convey a message to a Prophet or a man or woman of God were not Angels, but the spirits of some former men of God! One example of this is when the Prophet Samuel, who had died, appeared to Saul to give him a message from the Lord! (1Samuel 28:13-20).

In the Book of Revelation, when the Apostle John was astonished by the great mysteries of God that a “ministering spirit” was showing him, he wrote, “And when I had heard and seen these things, I fell down to worship at the feet of the Angel which had been showing them to me. But he said to me, `Do not do it! For I am a fellow servant, with you, of your brethren the Prophets. Worship God!'” (Revelation 22:8,9). This messenger whom John mistakenly thought was an “Angel” was not an Angel at all, but a departed Prophet, in a supernatural spiritual body!

Two departed Saints even appeared and ministered to Jesus, God’s Own Son! Shortly before His crucifixion, “Jesus went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning! Then two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus, and spoke of His death.” (Luke 9:28-33). These two former Prophets, Moses and Elijah, had departed from this life many centuries previously, yet God sent them to counsel and confer with His Son! So God can and does use His human servants who have already passed on from this life to minister to and help those of us who are still here!

The Holy Spirit uses these holy spirits, these departed saintly spirits, to lead and guide God’s children. In fact, I believe that one or more of them are assigned to each of us who receive the anointing or empowerment of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, we also receive, at the same time, specific good spirits who have specific gifts, hence, the “gifts of the Spirit” described in 1Corinthians 12:4-11. In other words, God uses these spirits as His agents in imparting not only messages but also the particular spiritual gifts that each of us are given when we receive the Holy Spirit.

This makes it easy to understand how a person receives a gift of tongues, for example: The ability to fluently speak in an unlearned language. God lets another spirit, a departed Saint, speak through you in another language, the native tongue of that particular individual departed Saint. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels”! (1Corinthians 13:1).

These departed saints are they of whom Paul speaks in Hebrews 12:1 “as a great cloud of witnesses” which surround us–here and now! “We are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses!” So thank God for His Spirit & for all of His good spirits who are helping us!

God’s Word welcomes and introduces His born-again children to this marvellous Spirit World, saying: “You have come to the City of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of Angels, to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” (Hebrews 12:22-24). Hallelujah!

 

Satan, The Fallen Archangel

Sad to say, there is also a dark side of the picture which we don’t care to talk too much about, because when people do, it tends to glorify the Enemy. However, God’s Word does tell us not to be ignorant of the Devil’s schemes and devices. (2Corinthians 2:11). It doesn’t pay to try and say that there’s no Devil or no demons or no such thing as evil, and just try to ignore the facts!–Especially when God’s Book, the Bible, warns us explicitly against such demons and evil spiritual forces.

These wicked spiritual powers are led by a fallen archangel, Satan, whom the Bible calls “Baalzebub, the Prince of the devils” (Matthew 12:24) and “the god of this World”. (2Corinthians 4:4. See also Luke 4:5-7.) Jude speaks of his demonic forces as “the angels which abandoned their original positions in Heaven, and left their habitation.” (Jude 6).

Before becoming the Devil, Satan had been Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, the mightiest of all archangels! He was the right hand of God. He ruled the Universe, second only unto God! But he wasn’t satisfied with that. He wanted to be the Light!–To be God! So in pride he rebelled against God and lost it all! He wanted to be God! He did not have to fall–he chose to, because of his lust for power! You can read the account of his downfall in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:13-17.

Obviously the majority of the Angelic forces are opposed to his rebellion, for when he is finally cast out of Heaven at the start of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 12:4), he’ll only take one-third of them with him! So he and his demons are in the minority, thank God!

Unlike God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, the Devil is not omnipresent. He’s limited in his scope of operation, because he is merely one of God’s creations and is bound to being in one place at any one given time. Therefore, he has to carry on most of his worldwide business through his demons, fallen angels; and through these–his various Satanic princes–he manages to rule much of the World. (See Daniel 10; Luke 4:5-7.)

He and his evil spiritual forces are bent on trying to stop, interfere or hinder the Lord’s Will and work of winning souls into God’s Kingdom of Light. Therefore, we–and all active Christians–are engaged in a perpetual warfare with Satan and his dirty demons. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this World, against wicked spirits in Heavenly realms!” (Ephesians 6:12).

But we have nothing to fear from Satan and all of his forces, for he has already been defeated by Christ on the cross (1John 3:8), and through the name of Jesus we have absolute power and authority over him! Jesus told us, “Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the Enemy: And nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19). (See also “How To Fight The Devil!”)

 

Spooks, Ghosts and Familiar Spirits!

Just as the good spirits of departed Saints of God continue to serve Him in the Spirit World after they die, there are also billions of people who die without the Lord’s Salvation. As is brought out in our lesson, “Heaven, Hell and In-between”, such folks do not go straight to Hell when they die, but they await their final judgement in “Hades”, the Ghostly state, the unseen Spirit World!

Some of them, because of their previous bad deeds & evil lives, suffer by being assigned to remain at the scene of their death or the house where they lived. Down through the centuries many people have reported encounters with ghosts in haunted houses. These ghosts are not necessarily all evil–although some no doubt are–but, as a form of punishment, are simply not allowed to leave the place where they are confined.

However, there are other departed human spirits which are definitely evil!–People who were in rebellion against God and serving the Devil in this life, who, after they die, continue to serve Satan and do evil! This is why the Bible warns us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try (test) the spirits whether they are of God, because many (spirits of) false prophets have gone out into the World!” (1John 4:1-4). These are “seducing spirits” or “familiar spirits” against which the Bible clearly warns! (1Timothy 4:1; Acts 16:16; Leviticus 20:6,27: Deuteronomy 18:10-12). If they do not freely confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He has come in the flesh, rebuke them and have nothing to do with them!

Christians who love the Lord should also have nothing to do with witchcraft, wizardry, the occult, using magical arts or participating in such things as seances, “divining” to know the future, or dabbling with Ouija boards etc. All of these are avenues for the Devil that can result in demon-possession (if you’re not saved) or at least in you being “haunted” and troubled by an unclean familiar spirit. Hypnosis, where you yield your will and spirit to another, as well as so-called “transcendental meditation” where you open your mind wide to spiritual influences, are also very dangerous! As God’s saved children, we should be filled with His Holy Spirit, satisfied with Christ’s Kingdom of Light, & should “give no place to the Devil” by dabbling in or being curious about any doubtful spiritual influences. (Ephesians 4:27).

 

Heavenly Councils and Court Sessions

It is far beyond our comprehension to fully understand how God runs the Government of the Universe, but we do know that He conducts some kind of Councils in Heaven, report sessions, according to Job 1:6, 1Kings 22:19-22 and other passages. There are Court Sessions in which Jesus Himself is called a Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6; Romans 8:34), and Satan, “the Accuser of the Saints”. (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5).

In these Court sessions, God apparently hears cases and representations, witnesses for both the Prosecution and the Defense, and makes Judgements accordingly. We are not just referring to the final Great Judgement of the World of Revelation 20:11-12.–The Lord conducts current Court Sessions in which He judges the living now, like He did Job and others.

We also know that God calls in His chief counsellors and spirits and Angels and asks them their opinion and counsel on different situations. He listens to their different plans and suggestions, and then He makes the final judgements and decisions! (1Kings 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12, etc).

In these sessions when the Devil accuses us to God, God is the Judge, Jesus is the Defense Lawyer and the Devil is the Prosecuting Attorney who constantly reminds the Judge of the law. In fact, the Devil is the most legalistic creature in the Universe! Anybody that breaks the law, he wants God to crack down on them and punish them! The Devil is all for justice and the law! He provokes people to do evil, then comes before God’s Throne and condemns them for doing it! (See Revelation 12:10, Zechariah 3:1, Job 1:9-12).

But it’s God–Who even made the laws and the rules–Who wants to show mercy to you and give you forgiveness and Salvation! “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those that fear Him. For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13,14).–And this is why He sent Jesus, so that Jesus could know how it is to be human, and therefore could understand us better and have more mercy on us and could be our Intercessor and Mediator. Jesus defends us, He intercedes for us and He pleads to God for mercy. (Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:14-16; 7:25). He sits at the right hand of the Father, pleading our cause with sympathy, empathy and understanding.

 

War in the Spirit!

Another dramatic occurrence that is taking place behind the veil of the Fifth Dimension is an all-out War of the Worlds!–A war between good and evil, God and the Devil, goodness and wickedness, Angels and devils–a constant conflict between the good spirits of Heaven and the evil spirits of Hell, contending for the souls as well as the bodies of men!

As we’ve already seen, multitudes of Heavenly helpers–both God’s good Angels as well as the spirits of Saints who have already gone on to be with the Lord–are at our disposal to inspire, strengthen and enable us to do the Lord’s work here on Earth. We have also seen how the Devil and all of his demons seek to oppose, obstruct and stop our work for the Lord.

Of course, we who have received Jesus into our hearts are God’s eternally-saved children, and the Devil can never lay claim on us, we’re the Lord’s forever! But he tries hard to keep us from serving the Lord and accomplishing God’s purposes. So there is a great battle being waged in the Spiritual Realm between the good forces of God who are trying to inspire, empower and help us to go the right way, and the evil forces of Satan who are trying to tempt, hinder and influence us to go the wrong way!

The battle is over us!–And the outcome of the battle is entirely dependent upon us and our decisions and the way we go! It is not the spiritual forces of Heaven nor the spiritual forces of Hell who are deciding the outcome of this battle. They are merely fighting either for us or against us, helping us or hindering us! It is what we do and how we do it and the choices we make–the right or wrong that we do–that unleashes either force!

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven! And whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven!” (Matthew 18:18). He did not say that what is loosed in Heaven will be loosed on Earth, or what is bound in Heaven would be bound on Earth.–What Heaven does is dependent upon us and what we do!

We are the ones whom God has given the power to unleash the forces of Heaven against the Enemy’s forces of Hell according to our decisions, our choices, our prayers and actions! What they do is entirely dependent upon what we do! If we do the right things & make the right choices and go the right direction, then we have the power to literally call in the forces of Heaven to assist us, to literally command them to overcome and overpower the forces of evil! (Isaiah 45:11).

But if we make the wrong choices and go the wrong direction and do the wrong things, then the Enemy has the power to defeat us, in spite of all that the forces of Heaven would like to do to help us!–Those are the Rules of the Game!

The Bible gives us an amazing glimpse behind the scenes in the Spirit World in Daniel chapter 10, where we read how one of God’s “ministering spirits” or messengers was commissioned to deliver a vitally-important prophetic message to God’s Prophet, Daniel, but was delayed by one of Satan’s demon princes, “the prince of Persia”, who resisted and fought against him. But because of Daniel’s faithful and persistent prayers, the powers of Heaven moved on his behalf, and the great Archangel Michael himself was sent to defeat the hindering demonic spiritual prince of Persia, thus the ministering spirit reached Daniel with God’s important message! (See Daniel 10.)–So the warfare depends upon us and our prayers and our willingness to “fight the good fight of faith”! (1Timothy 6:12).

If we are doing the right thing, going the right direction, praying and making the right choices, then we can use the spiritual weapons which God has given us to overcome and defeat the Enemy completely! “For the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons, but they are mighty through God, for the overthrow and destruction of spiritual strongholds!” (2Corinthians 10:4). If we stay close to Jesus, prayerful, obedient and doing our best to please and serve Him, the Bible tells us that, “The God of peace shall crush Satan under our feet!” (Romans 16:20).

God’s Word assures us, “Greater is He (Jesus) that is in you than he (the Devil) that is in the World!” (1John 4:4). So we don’t have to worry about or fear Satan’s puny power because we are protected by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is far greater than the power of the Enemy! If we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we are overshadowed and protected by God’s supernatural protection which is just like a force field around us and the Enemy cannot penetrate it!–Which God likens to a “strong tower wherein the righteous run in and hide”! (See Psalm 91:1-4,9,10; Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 144:2).

So stay close to Jesus and full of God’s Holy Spirit and you’ll have nothing to fear! With God’s mighty Angels and departed Saints watching over you, guiding you and giving you messages from Heaven, you can constantly stay in close communication with the Lord!–And enjoy all the wonderful experiences of God’s good Spirit World! Hallelujah!

 

In Conclusion…

A lot of people seem to think that God’s spiritual kingdom is some faraway place in outer space called Heaven, only to be reached when you die! But Jesus Himself proved that this was not so when He said, “The Kingdom of God is within you!” (Luke 17:20,21). You don’t have to wait till you die to enter it! In fact, it has already entered you if you have Jesus and are filled with His Holy Spirit!–And right now, you can experience all of its exciting sights, sounds, visions, voices and even resultant physical thrills in the wonderful World of His Spirit, where God Himself dwells!

In that wonderful Realm, everything is much more real, more beautiful and more lasting than the World that you can now see with your natural eyes! “For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal! Therefore set your affection on things Above and not on things on the Earth! For no eye has seen, nor any ear heard, nor has any mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.–But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit!” (2Corinthians 4:18; Colossians 3:1,2; 1Corinthians 2:9,10).

The wonders of the wonderful World of the Spirit are all for you, and you can personally experience their thrilling and ecstatic joys right now, and even take a trip into that World with Jesus’ Own Holy Spirit as your Guide, as did the Prophets of old! Enjoy it! Experience it! “Be filled with the Spirit!” (Ephesians 5:18).–And then you’re safe to make the trip!

Would you like to take a trip “Out of this World”?! Then receive Jesus and His Holy Spirit right now!–Just pray this little prayer:

“Dear Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died to save me. Please forgive me for all my sins and come into my heart and give me Your free gift of Eternal Life. And please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me to always love and follow You! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Sweet Dreams Tonight!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-sweet-dreams-tonight

My Saviour, hear my prayer
Before I go to rest;
It is Your little child
Who comes now to be blest.

Forgive me all my sin,
And let me sleep this night
In safety and in peace
Until the morning light.

The final thing we should do at night as we lie down to sleep is to thank Jesus for a good day, and pray for a good night’s rest! He has promised to keep us in PERFECT PEACE if we keep our minds stayed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3). So you’ll find it very conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep if you’ll get your mind off your worries and problems and think about JESUS, and read something short and soothing and comforting from His Word. In fact, there are many precious promises in His Word that we can claim for a good night’s sleep:

 
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
–Psalm 4:8

 
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
–Exodus 33:14

 
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid: You shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet.”
–Proverbs 3:24

As we go to sleep, it’s a good time to “commune with our own heart upon our bed” (Psalm 4:4), to take stock of things and to reflect momentarily on the day’s events and accomplishments, and perhaps sometimes even its failures. Ask yourself if it has been a day in which you’ve done God’s Will in obedience and yieldedness. Has it been a day that you’re thankful for because you’re sure the Lord is pleased with it? “What have I done with my life?”, is a good question to ask yourself as you lie down to sleep at the end of every day. “What have I done with my life THIS day? Did I live it for JESUS so that I can lie down happy and contended, thankful and satisfied that I have done my best this day and can now rest peacefully?”

“Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray Thee Lord, my soul to keep.
Thy Love guard me through the night,
And wake me with the morning bright!”

 
“GUARDIAN ANGELS ROUND MY BED….”

“The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
–Psalm 34:7

Jesus never sleeps! He watches over you all the time! “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you.” (Psalm 121:4,5). And so do all of His Angels and Saints!–Isn’t that a comforting thought?

Thank God for His Guardian Angels who make it possible for us to lie down in peace and go to sleep and not worry about enemies or troubles or anything! They never sleep, they’re always awake! They don’t need to rest, because they’re not affected by gravity or weariness or hunger!

Our guards, the hosts of Heaven surrounding us, are on the job fulltime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, ALL the time! Isn’t that wonderful? Even this World has never been able to furnish any guards like that!

Praise the Lord! As the famous opera star, Mario Lanza, sang:

Guardian Angels around my bed
Joining me in my prayers;
They hush the shadows when they dance about!
They shoo away the bears!

Guardian Angels around my bed
Standing by till I rise.
There’s one with shining wings who holds my hand
And shows me Paradise!

 
OUR HEAVENLY EDUCATION!…

“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; THEN He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.”
–Job 33:15,16

Believe it or not, your SPIRIT, the real YOU, doesn’t need sleep! While your physical body is having to rest, your immortal spirit is constantly busy and thinking and dreaming and having spiritual experiences all the time in your sleep. It doesn’t have to sleep because it’s immortal, eternal, spiritual. “The things that are seen are temporal, the things that are not seen are eternal!” (2Corinthians 4:18). The physical dies away but the spiritual is forever, and even in your sleep, it’s busy all the time, having experiences, learning lessons, making decisions and exploring!

Sometimes the Lord allows us to remember those spiritual experiences and dreams. But it’s undoubtedly a blessing that He doesn’t allow us to remember everything that our spirits experience while we’re asleep! It would be too much of a burden on our conscious minds to have to remember all that, when we have enough in our present physical lives to think and be concerned about!

Sometimes the Lord lets us be TESTED in our dreams to see what we WOULD do under such circumstances! It’s a pretty realistic test under dream conditions, because you don’t know you’re in a dream! You think it’s really happening, so your reactions are very realistic and genuine as to what you would REALLY do under such circumstances!

Then, many times when you have to make a certain decision when you’re awake, it’s much easier to make the right decisions, because hopefully you learned the lessons while you were sleeping and making choices under similiar conditions in your dreams. So, thank God for our dreams! They’re part of our Heavenly spiritual education!

“I will praise the Lord, Who has given me counsel: Even in the night He instructs my heart.”
–Psalm 16:7

 
“THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID FOR THE TERROR BY NIGHT…”–PSALM 91:5

Though we tremble in the dark
In need of help and cheer,
We have a tender Father’s Word,
“Fear thou not, for I am here!”

There are a lot of different reasons why people sometimes have bad dreams. It could be something you ate, or something you were worrying about when you went to sleep, and you just subconsciously carried that train of thought on in your sleep. Sometimes bad dreams are a warning from the Lord about something that’s going to happen–or is already happening that you don’t know about. But WARNING dreams from the LORD usually have something good and meaningful in them. They are usually not ENTIRELY bad and always have some kind of LESSON to be learned.

Some bad dreams could be a definite implantation of thoughts in your mind from evil spiritual sources, in an attempt to try to influence your thinking and scare you. The evil spirits try to fight us in our dreams just like the good spirits are trying to HELP us in our dreams!

When you have nightmares, your spirit is actually battling evil spiritual forces! The Lord sometimes ALLOWS it to see what you will DO, and what effect it will have on you. He wants to see if you’ll make the right decision to really call on HIM for HELP! So bad dreams too are all a part of your spiritual life and experience which continues in your sleep! Of course, it is NOT God’s Will that we have bad dreams all the time! If your sleep is troubled and you are continually having nightmares or bad dreams, you should pray and rebuke the Devil and ask the Lord to DELIVER you from such hindering dreams!

It’s often helpful to have a NIGHTLIGHT on in your room because evil spirits don’t like the light! They are lovers of darkness because their deeds are evil, so they flee from the light! (John 3:19). So it’s good to always have a little light on and not sleep in complete darkness.

You also need to specifically PRAY and ask the Lord to give you good dreams! Sometimes we have bad dreams because we forget to PRAY and ask the Lord for good ones! As James 4:2 says, sometimes “we HAVE NOT because we ASK NOT”. The Lord wants to be recognised. He wants you to know that you need Him! That’s why He wants you to pray!

If you know the Lord, then you’re HIS child, and you don’t have ANYTHING to fear or worry about! You KNOW that the Lord is protecting and keeping you! He hallows you around about and gives His Angels charge over you! (See Psalm 91:11).

 
THE BEAUTY OF THE NIGHT!…

Why fight insomnia with a pill?
Why dread to meet the night?
There is no better time to find
The everlasting Light!

Those times in the night when you can’t sleep are a wonderful time to PRAY and PRAISE the Lord! King David said “I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6). The night is so quiet and still! You can reach right up to God and hear His Voice so plain–the still small voice in the wee hours of the night!

He likes to whisper like a lover in your ear in soft, sweet tones! He likes to woo you in the night with His tender, gentle, loving Voice, whispering in your heart, when the slightest whisper can be heard! It’s often so hard to hear Him in the daytime with the clatter, the noise, all the other voices, all the racket of the World pounding on your eardrums! But in the cool and quiet of the night, it’s all so peaceful and still. You can see the tiny stars twinkling away so quietly, so sweetly! Like watching Angels, they just wink at you, they whisper to you, they talk to you without a sound!

While the Scriptures speak many times of DARKNESS with an evil connotation, the physical NIGHT, created by God Himself, is NOT evil, and is often spoken of as a blessing! Jesus arose a great while before it was day, so obviously He rose during the NIGHT to pray! The Lord appeared to Solomon in the NIGHT and granted him wisdom and knowledge as he had requested! And David in the Psalms speaks so much of communing with God in the NIGHT seasons! (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 1Kings 3:5-15; Psalm 77:6).

So, if you wake up at night and can’t go back to sleep, maybe God wants you to PRAY! As soon as you get prayed up, you’ll probably go right back to sleep! TRY it!

When at night you sleepless lie,
And the weary hours drag by–
Lift your thoughts to God above,
Bending down to you in love!

Feel His presence by your bed–
His soft touch upon your head.
Let your last thought be a prayer,
As you nestle in His care!

Ask Him all your way to keep,
Then–why then–drop off to sleep!

God bless you! Good night and SWEET DREAMS!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Stand Up and Stand Out for Jesus!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-stand-up-and-stand-out-for-jesus

There was once a young man who was a lumberjack. He worked chopping down trees in the vast forests of northern Canada. One day he went for a few days leave to a nearby town where a Christian pastor witnessed to him on a street corner and led him to Jesus.

“Now that you’ve asked Jesus to come into your heart, Jake, your life is going to change,” the pastor said.

“How?” asked Jake, leaning over to take a closer look at the Scriptures that the pastor was showing him from his Bible.

“Well, look, it says right here in God’s Word, `If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, all things have become NEW!’ (2Corinthians 5:17). So I want to warn you, Jake, that when you go back to that lumber camp, it’s going to be very difficult for you!”

“Why’s that, pastor?”

“Because, as you know, most of those lumberjacks are tough, hard, wicked men, and they don’t like Christians!”

“That’s for sure!” agreed Jake, eyeing two of his friends engaged in a drunken brawl at the other end of the street.

“But, Jake, you’ll no longer be the same as you were before, cursing God, speaking foul language and doing evil things!–You’re going to be so different they’re going to PERSECUTE you!”

“Oh!” said Jake.

So Jake went back to the camp and a few months passed before he came back to the town for his next leave. He wondered if he’d run into the pastor again, and yes, there he was, standing on a street corner passing out tracts. One could hardly miss him, his happy smiling face seemed to light up the whole street, as he beamed the Love of Jesus on all who passed by.

“Hey, pastor! Nice to see you!”

“Hi, Jake!” exclaimed the pastor, very glad to see the converted lumberjack again. “Tell me, how did it go at the lumber camp?”

“Oh, fine, just fine!”

“I told you it was going to be difficult to live a Christian life there, didn’t I?”

“No, no,” replied Jake, “it wasn’t hard!–Not at all!”

“You mean they didn’t persecute you or make it tough for you?” the pastor asked, surprised.

“Oh, no! You see…they never even found out that I WAS a Christian!”

* * *

THAT kind of a sample is NOT being a real CHRISTIAN! Something you BELIEVE in, you TALK about! If you believe in your football team, you talk about them! If you believe in your political party, you talk about it! If you like your work, you talk about it!–And if you really believe in and love JESUS, you’re going to talk about HIM and share His Love with OTHERS!–Like Sophie, the washer-woman, who was made fun of one day by someone who said they had seen her talking about Jesus to a wooden Indian in front of a cigar store! Sophie perked up and replied, “Maybe I did; my eyesight isn’t so good any more! But talking to a wooden Indian about Jesus is not as bad as being a WOODEN CHRISTIAN and never talking about Jesus to ANYONE!”

Jesus said, “If men have a candlestick, they don’t hide it under a bowl or a jar.”–They don’t sit alone in some corner and hope nobody will find out that they’ve become a Christian.–But “they put the candlestick on a STAND so that it will give light to the WHOLE HOUSE!” (Matthew 5:15; Luke 8:16). They stand up and TELL others why they’ve had such a miraculous change in their life! Once you’re saved it should be IMPOSSIBLE to hide the Love of God and the Truth of Jesus! If you have Him in your heart and you have His Love, He wants you to SHOW it and to try to SHARE it with OTHERS! It’s the LEAST you can do for Him Who gave His LIFE for YOU!

Look at most COMMUNISTS today! Look how much you hear about THEM and THEIR cause. They’re certainly dedicated, often very sacrificial, determined and active, willing to even lay down their LIVES to reach their goal of World domination! Can the same be said of the vast majority of CHRISTIANS?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of so-called Christians today are afraid to do anything that would make them stand out as being peculiar or different from the crowd. They’ve lost their TEETH, they’ve lost their CONVICTIONS, they’ve lost their BOLDNESS to take a definite stand for Jesus and be utterly fearless about what people say or think about them! So many try to figure out just how far they can go and yet not hurt their reputation. They’re like some of the man-pleasing Jews in Jesus’ day, of whom the Bible says, “Among the leaders, many believed on Jesus. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise from MEN more than the praise from GOD!” (John 12:42,43).

They don’t want to be real outstanding Christians for fear of being called fanatics, or “fools for Christ’s sake” (1Corinthians 4:10), like the Christian businessman who walked down a busy street in London with a sign pinned to the front of his hat which said, “I’M A FOOL FOR CHRIST!” When passers-by turned to have another look at the man they thought must be a religious fanatic, they saw another card on the back of his hat which said, “WHOSE FOOL ARE YOU?”!

How sad that so many Christians rarely dare to be different, or venture to vary from the norm. They try to tiptoe along very daintily in their walk with the Lord and not disturb anybody! How unlike the Christians of the Early Church, of whom it was said, “These are they that turned the WORLD UPSIDE DOWN!” (Acts 17:6). They were called disturbers alright! But names like Paul and Peter and Stephen and Philip live on to this very day, and their influence is still felt, while the passive compromisers–like so many half-hearted Christians that are drifting around today–just faded into oblivion!

Naaman is a dandy bad example of just such a compromiser: He was a man who, if he had stood up for his faith, could have converted the entire nation of ancient Syria to faith in the true God. Naaman was the second most important man next to the King. He was the top general, the Minister of Defense. He had gotten miraculously healed from leprosy when he went down to see Elisha in Israel, and he even started witnessing to his wife and handmaid and a few close friends that there was no other God but the God of Israel. But when the King of Syria asked him to worship with him in the Temple of Rimmon, the heathen, pagan, devil-god that the Syrians worshipped, he failed to stand up for his new-found faith, and he weakly apologised to Elisha, “The Lord pardon Thy servant in this one thing that I do.” (2Kings 5).

What kind of witness was that to the nation when they saw him walking into the Temple of Rimmon with the King? They must have doubted the stories they’d heard about him being healed by the God of Israel. “Maybe it was the god, Rimmon, who healed him. After all, we see him worshipping there every day with the king!”

There is no such thing as “neutrality” or compromise in the Christian life! Jesus said, “He that is not FOR me is AGAINST me!” (Matthew 12:30). The Christian life should be an on-fire, all-out, 100%, dedicated life devoted to the cause of winning the World for Jesus! The day has now come for Christians to stand up and give bold expression to their convictions, to rise up and FIGHT the forces of darkness that are at work in the World and that are pressing in on us at such an alarming speed! But there isn’t any place in the battle for “chameleon” type Christians who change colour with every crowd and melt into the surrounding World without any convictions or moral courage! That’s the real problem of Christianity today–all the supposedly “secret” Christians who are merely trying to smuggle their own souls into Heaven without anyone else finding out!

Do YOU practice your religion secretly for fear of the opinions of men?–Or do you have the conviction and Christian courage to stand openly with the other great Christians of all ages, to stand up for your faith at every opportunity no matter WHAT the cost in popularity or position! Jesus says, “I wish that you were HOT or COLD!–But if you are LUKEWARM, I will spew you out of My mouth!” (Revelation 3:15,16). With God, it’s usually ALL or NOTHING at all! There’s no halfway with the Lord! He abhors the halfhearted, the lukewarm, the indecisive, the compromisers, the “so-far-and-no-further” folks!

Jesus Himself “made Himself of no reputation, was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:1-3). Yet most Christians today are not willing to be the least bit despised for Him and speak out when and where they should for Jesus, to shun the opinions of men and to dare to take a stand for the right, for the TRUTH of God’s Word! Look how much JESUS suffered for US, and yet how little many of us are willing to suffer for Him!

The Bible says, “This is how we know what God’s Love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And WE ought to lay down OUR lives for our BROTHERS!” (1John 3:16). We ought to be willing to lay down our lives to do WHATEVER we can to win as many lost souls as we can while we still can in these last dark days! There’s NO greater work in the World than to witness the Words of God, to preach the Gospel, to tell people about God’s Love, to show them the Love of Jesus!

There is a very meaningful true story about an old lady whose son was appointed “the Ambassador to the Court of St.James”, meaning he was appointed to be American ambassador to England. That was always considered to be the greatest ambassadorship in the World, especially in the days of the zenith of the British Empire’s glory. But when friends came to her with the great news, instead of being overjoyed she nearly wept. She just sadly shook her head and said, “To think that he might have become an ambassador of the GOSPEL, and he dwindled down to nothing but an ambassador to England!”

Think of that! He could have been an ambassador, not of the United States, but of the Kingdom of HEAVEN!–Of the GREATEST King of all, the King of Kings, JESUS! He could have been an ambassador not just to a little country like England, but to the whole WORLD, an ambassador from the greatest Kingdom there will ever be, and could have had a palace forever On High!

THAT’S an appointment that’s open for YOU! Will you TAKE it? In this whole World there is no higher position than to be a child of God, and no greater honour than to stand up for Jesus and be a witness for Him!

Stand up for Jesus TODAY!–You’ll be GLAD you did, and so will God!–And all those who receive your message of His Love!

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International