Category Archives: God

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

Self-Control and Avoiding Temptation—Part 1

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorHave you heard that expression, “All that glitters is not gold”? Well, that can certainly be true of many of the temptations that come into our lives. Some things look good or attractive at first glance, but the immediate situation can be misleading. For example, when the desire to have a good time is coupled with a careless, “anything goes” attitude, the combination can be dangerous and have weighty consequences.

There are all kinds of ways the Devil tries to trip us up so that we lose perspective, make rash decisions, get out of balance, and then fall prey to excesses or binges, or to emotional outbursts that can have negative repercussions. But as we know from the Word of God, and from history, and our own life experiences, self-control and moderation is important if we’re going to maintain a happy, well-balanced, and centered, productive life.

The Bible tells us to “let our moderation be known.” Temperance is also one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians. Temperance is synonymous with self-control. (See Galatians 5:22–23)

Self-control is the ability to control your behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses. Temperance is self-restraint in the face of temptation or desire. Temperance also has to do with having moderation in all things.—Peter Amsterdam

As Christians, we need to be on guard against things that can damage our testimony, hurt our witness, and hinder us from fulfilling the mission, by tarnishing our personal example and reputation. Sometimes little overindulgences or lacks of moderation that aren’t in line with the Bible don’t seem like a big deal. We can think it’s just a little thing. But even small actions can have significant repercussions, so it’s important to measure our actions by the standard of the Christian values we’re committed to living by. The goal is to strive to do the Lord’s will to the best of our ability and to make the right choices—to live right, and to align our actions and choices with our core values.

If we as Christians have an active relationship with God, we can count on the fact that His Spirit will faithfully speak to our conscience when we’re tempted to overreact or overindulge. But if we consistently resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, pretty soon we won’t hear the Lord’s voice clearly.

The more someone disregards the leadings of the Lord’s Spirit, the easier it becomes to go further down that slippery path of disobedience. Hence the seriousness of failing to exercise restraint when needed, even in small ways.

There are numerous common temptations in the world today, which, when not resisted, lead to sin, including:

  • failure to control negative emotions towards others, angry outbursts, jealous rages
  • overdrinking or binge drinking
  • substance abuse
  • crossing the boundaries for appropriate sexual conduct
  • gossiping, lying, or cheating
  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • pornography

That’s just to name a few of the obvious ones.

It is, of course, much easier and safer to avoid getting into trouble with these temptations by avoiding taking steps in that direction in the first place. The Enemy wants to wreak havoc in our lives, so it’s best to take it seriously and protect ourselves from the steep downward grade that wrong decisions can lead to. It’s like the well-known saying: “It’s better to build a fence at the top of the cliff rather than a hospital at the bottom.” That “fence” is self-control, and each of us decides how strong or weak it is by the choices we make.

We can strengthen our self-control by:

  • taking more responsibility for our lives.
  • understanding the dynamics of choice—its repercussions and consequences; counting the cost of our decisions.
  • not just living for the moment or today, but thinking about tomorrow and the future.
  • being true to our convictions, and keeping our spiritual life and connection with the Lord and His Spirit strong.
  • seeking professional help or counsel, if needed.

Of course, no one is above temptation. The Bible says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

One of the ways we can avail ourselves of that “way of escape” is through maintaining a strong connection with the Lord, which will give us a healthy fear of stepping outside of the circle of His protection through disobedience. Also, as a result of our relationship with the Lord, we will have the personal conviction to measure our actions against our values and Christian ethics.

We each decide what we will or will not do, and we’re the ones who live with the consequences of those decisions. Some people are naturally more reckless or prone to taking risks. If those risks are within reason, and we exercise reasonable restraint and ask the Lord to guide us and give us wisdom, then we’ll be able to stay on a safe path and learn as we go. Even if we make mistakes here and there, if we are walking in the fear of the Lord and praying about our decisions, we can trust that whatever He allows or brings into our lives will somehow work for our good, whether in this life or the next.

Here are some of the overall principles of self-control that come into play for leading a balanced, safe, productive life, that will help us to make good, safe decisions.

Spiritually speaking:

  • Study God’s Word to know the Lord’s counsel on issues.
  • Stay close to the Lord and strive to follow what He tells you in His Word, through prophecy, and via His still small voice.
  • Avoid making impulsive or rash decisions.
  • Base your decisions on the principles in His Word.
  • Ask the Lord to speak to you about your decisions, personal standards, and life choices.
  • Recognize when you’ve made a mistake and ask the Lord—and others, if necessary—for forgiveness and safeguarding, and then strive to not let it happen again.
  • Work to develop good character. Then be true to your personal convictions and moral ethics. This is closely tied to integrity, taking responsibility for your life, and not allowing yourself to be influenced negatively by others.

Practically speaking, here are some tips:

  • Choose your friends wisely. It’s an indication that you’re in good company if you “like who you are” (related to your Christian example) when you’re with someone.
  • Avoid placing yourself in situations where you know you’ll be tempted to sin. For example, if you have a tendency to overdrink, avoid partying with heavy drinkers.
  • Think about what you’re doing. Count the cost. Ask yourself if you might regret a decision you are making or action down the line.
  • Be aware that anyone can develop addictions. Don’t think it could never happen to you.

Regarding resisting temptations, it might not be as easy as one would assume, without the Lord’s help. Research conducted by the Kellogg School of Management and the University of Amsterdam concluded that “individuals believe they have more restraint than they actually possess, which ultimately leads to poor decision-making. … The research found [those tested] … miscalculated the amount of temptation they could truly handle, in turn leading to a greater likelihood of indulging impulsive or addictive behavior. … The key is simply to avoid any situations where vices and other weaknesses thrive and, most importantly, for individuals to keep a humble view of their willpower.”

You might argue that the temptations in life are too difficult to avoid. Here is some food for thought on that topic:

Someone [once] said that the temptations in life [are] just too great! Well, too great for whom? Of course they are too great for you!—But not for the God who wants to strengthen you in your time of need. It’s only by His help that anyone can resist temptation. You were never supposed to resist it alone. That’s why you need to get in touch with God! Because you can’t have the victory in yourself!
—Virginia Brandt Berg

 
Temptation is the feeling we get when encountered by an opportunity to do what we innately know we shouldn’t.
―Steve Maraboli

 
Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.
—Billy Sunday

 
Too often we think of being tempted as being enticed to do big things like stealing, murdering or committing adultery. But most often we’re tempted to be impatient, stingy, jealous, greedy, or any number of other things that we consider lesser sins.
—Joyce Meyer

 
When Christians find themselves exposed to temptation they should pray to God to uphold them, and when they are tempted they should not be discouraged. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is to fall into temptation.
—D. L. Moody

 
Every conquering of temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.
—William Butler Yeats

 
Temptation may even be a blessing to a man when it reveals to him his weakness and drives him to the almighty Savior. Do not be surprised, then, dear child of God, if you are tempted at every step of your earthly journey, and almost beyond endurance; but you will not be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, and with every temptation there will be a way of escape.
—F. B. Meyer

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Activated

Joy, Fulfillment, Happiness

By Peter Amsterdam, adapted

free-bible-studies-online-activated-joy-fulfillment-happiness

We all have many opportunities and possibilities to move forward in our faith, our relationships, our work, our inner lives, and more. Of course, making progress in any area requires determination, discipline, effort, sacrifice, and hard work, but the results are worth it.

I believe that joy, fulfillment, and happiness are intrinsically connected to being strongly attached to God. This doesn’t mean that we are focused on God alone, that we are on our knees praying during all our waking hours, or that we’re “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good,” as the saying goes. We each have God-given responsibilities that need to be attended to. We’re to care for ourselves and our family and loved ones, and to fulfill the duties of our work or calling, all of which involve a myriad of details each day.

Living a life that is strongly attached to God is living a life in relationship with Him. It’s inviting Him into the daily details of our lives, our responsibilities, our family, our relationships with friends and coworkers. It’s allowing Him to be an integral part of our lives.

It’s in this interactive relationship with God that we find joy, fulfillment, and happiness. When we live in partnership with Him, we let Him use us for His purpose, and doing so places us in the path of His blessings.

Unfortunately, however, we may often find ourselves on “autopilot” in our relationship with God, where we go about our lives with Him seemingly hovering in the background. He’s there, and when we feel the need for Him, we ask for His help or guidance. But that’s not the kind of relationship that allows Him to have the role He desires in our lives. He’s not our “cosmic bellhop,” at our beck and call to clean up our messes or make our wishes materialize. He wants—and deserves—to be an active partner in the business of our lives, and the more we partner with Him, the more we benefit from that partnership.

A key component in this partnership is being available to Him and for Him. To Him, in the sense of being sensitive to when He wants to communicate with us, and being available to listen to what He has to say. For Him, in the sense that we open ourselves to being agents of His purpose in the lives of others, acting as a means for Him to communicate with others who aren’t yet in relationship with Him.

Making ourselves available to God requires intentionality on our part. We consciously decide that we’re going to be attuned to God, that we will give Him opportunity to communicate with us—by making time for Him, by seeking out a quiet place, and quieting our inner selves so that we are in the right frame of mind to listen to Him. We make ourselves spiritually available to hear whatever He may want to say to us or show us. We also make ourselves available in a practical sense by being determined to let His Spirit use us as His representatives to others. It’s through our lives, our love, our examples, our words and witness, that others can be introduced to Him and brought into the orbit of His love.

Our spiritual and practical availability is our declaration to God that He is a full partner in our lives and we want His involvement in all we do. It’s an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to not just dwell within us but to actively engage in our thoughts and actions. Of course, such an invitation has repercussions. When God’s Spirit connects with those who have made themselves available, the Spirit moves in their lives. Things happen, opportunities arise.

When we’ve truly made ourselves available to Him, we are open to receive His guidance and direction. When we are available for Him, we follow His leading, as He directs us in ways which are in alignment with His purpose, where He can use our gifts and talents to be a blessing to others—whether our personal family, those we work with, or complete strangers. While being open to and accepting whatever guidance He may give might not always immediately result in the outcomes we are hoping for, it does put us on the path to fulfilling the purpose He intends.

Making ourselves available to and for God is a manifestation of His reign in our lives. It’s the application of what Jesus expressed when He said to pray, “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NLT) Our availability aligns us with God’s will, reign, and Spirit. It’s within this alignment with our God, Creator, and Savior that we find satisfaction and experience well-being and contentment.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Just Do It!

By Peter Amsterdam, adapted

free-bible-studies-online-just-do-it

Every day, when you step out the door to go to work or on an appointment, or to take the kids to school or the park, or when you’re at home working or cooking or cleaning, if you’re praying as you do so, you’re going to “the market,” so to speak, and you should take along a pretty big “basket” of faith and expectancy for God to work in and through your life to fulfill His purposes. Through our prayers we create a vacuum for God to work, and we should expect that He is going to respond according to His will.

The key is doing. Staking out the land and catching the train of golden opportunities. Being flexible and willing to change as needed—whether that means changing yourself, changing your plans, or changing your schedule.

Here are a few concrete actions we can take:

 
Have faith

Faith and trust in God and a willingness to follow where He leads. When we ask God for opportunities and open doors, He will not fail to bring them along in His time. Thank Him for them and then actively pursue them—even if they are new, different, or unexpected.

 
Begin

To follow in the direction God leads us, we’ve got to be willing to try new things and follow through. We have to show God that we mean business and we’re serious. If you do that, you can bet your bottom dollar that He is going to come through, sweep away the obstacles, and do over and above His part of the bargain.

 
Recognize opportunity

Some of the opportunities that come your way won’t pan out. Some of the risks you take won’t bring forth any spectacular or visible fruit, at least not immediately. Sometimes you might have to keep going with something for quite a while before it blossoms.

Sometimes the risks you take might even cost you. Not every single venture or opportunity will be immediately successful. Some might not be successful at all. But it’s better to try something new and discover that it doesn’t work than to never try anything different or outside the box. It’s better to boldly seize an opportunity—even if you’re not quite sure where or how it’s going to go—than to play it so safe and walk with such hesitancy that you miss the open doors and setups that God wants to engineer.

If you jump at an opportunity and it doesn’t seem to be working well, you can put it on pause and commit it to prayer. If something doesn’t pan out, you can close the door and move on to something else. That’s not failure. That’s experience. That’s trying the new. When opportunities come around, if you hesitate, you might not get a second chance. So don’t be afraid to give new things a try.

Being willing to experiment and try new things is exactly what it takes to be in tune with the needs of today. You have to be able to endure a bit of failure too. Pioneers, explorers, inventors, and entrepreneurs often face setbacks and failures—sometimes many—before they hit their eureka moment. It’s not a bad sign if you don’t strike gold immediately. Finding out where it isn’t can be just as valuable in some cases as finding out where it is!

 
Seize the moment

What if Lazarus’ family had said to Jesus, “Well now, Jesus‚ we’re not quite ready for Lazarus’ resurrection! We haven’t got his room ready yet, and we’ve got to get his clothes back from the people we gave them to. Wait till tomorrow and we’ll roll away the stone. You can come back tomorrow, Lord, and raise him from the dead.” Jesus would probably have been far gone from there by that time, and it would have been too late.

The secret is following God and moving with His Spirit, which includes being ready to take advantage of His setups. And His setups sometimes defy human logic and earthly conventions, meaning they will happen on God’s timetable, not ours.
 

* * *

 
The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881)

*

Often, the most extraordinary opportunities are hidden among the seemingly insignificant events of life. If we do not pay attention to these events, we can easily miss the opportunities.
—Jim Rohn (1930–2009)

*

It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.
—Whitney Young (1921–1971)

*

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, “Certainly I can!” And get busy and find out how to do it.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Secrets of a Happy Marriage!

free-bible-studies-online-secrets-of-a-happy-marriage

Marriage is the most satisfying, most strengthening and most lasting human relationship on this Earth, an illustration of God’s relationship with Man! Marriage ought to be more than just sex or friendship and certainly more than a mere business partnership!–It is intended by the Lord to be the most intimate, humbling, loving and self-sacrificial relationship between human beings!

Marriages, it has been said, are made in Heaven, but the maintenance is done down here! More important than how much two people love each other or how happy they are BEFORE their wedding, is how well they talk and share and work out their problems AFTERWARDS!–And how much time and effort and self-sacrifice they’re prepared to put into their marriage to make it work!

Here we’d like to share some tried and proven tips, some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of marriage that we pray will help you and your mate avoid some of the common pitfalls, so you can grow together in love!

THE “DO’S” (of a Happy Marriage)!

  • INVEST TIME, attention and love in making your relationship work, or you may lose it!
  • Treat all disasters as incidents, and none of the incidents as disasters!
  • When you feel there’s something bothering your mate, lovingly probe and get them to talk it over with you.
  • Share your innermost feelings with each other, but temper your honesty with wisdom to avoid hurting each other’s feelings!
  • Be sensitive to each other’s needs and try to fulfill them if you can!
  • Say “I love you!” 100 times a day!
  • Spend time with your children TOGETHER!
  • Pray and discuss together about your children’s needs, and be united about their discipline!
  • Kiss each other hello and goodbye!
  • Always say “please” and “thank you” to each other!
  • Make yourself beautiful/handsome for each other!
  • Wear perfume/cologne or aftershave all the time!
  • Husbands, compliment her! Tell her she’s beautiful and she’ll BE beautiful! Tell her she’s wonderful and she’ll BE wonderful!
  • Husbands, don’t forget to say, “I love you!” Words can sometimes do more for a woman than anything else!–Especially when they’re spoken with love, tenderness, meaning and sincerity!
  • Start the day with a kiss and cuddle!
  • Make love regularly! If you need sex, ASK for it!–Sexily! Wives, dress up in something sexy for him before lovemaking! Dress excitingly for exciting times!
  • Be expressive in lovemaking! Set the scene with soft lights and music!
  • Massaging is marvellous, a touch of Heaven from your Heavenly touch!
  • Husbands, if you want her to be dynamite in bed, you’ll have to light the fuse!
  • Wives, dress in what HE likes, not only what YOU like!
  • Be affectionate in public and private!
  • Compliment each other. Constantly tell your mate how thankful you are for them and how wonderful they are!
  • Call each other sweet names!
  • Write each other little love notes of appreciation!
  • Surprise each other with little love gifts and treats, like flowers etc.!
  • Do little favours for each other to make one another’s life and work easier!
  • Husbands, tidy up after yourself and try to make her job easier!
  • Husbands, volunteer for odd jobs, don’t expect her to do everything in the house all the time!
  • Tell him/her that they’re beautiful/handsome often and what things you especially like about them!
  • Make a point to say nice things about your mate to others in front of your mate, and also when he or she is not present!
  • Listen to each other’s suggestions and advice!
  • Remind yourself of all the GOOD qualities of your mate and try not to think about the bad ones. Pray to see the good in each other!
  • Have faith that the Lord can change your mate’s faults and weaknesses. Commit them to the Lord!
  • Remember to avoid doing things you know annoy each other!
  • If you want to have the last word, apologise!
  • Make up quickly after arguments. Pray together for the victory, especially in the middle of a disagreement.
  • Say “I love you, you rascal”, when you’ve had a fight or argument. It helps break the ice!
  • During times of marriage problems, make it a point to be alone with just each other–no problems to tend to, no work and no kids. Have a special meal together at home, just the two of you!
  • Go out together sometimes for the extra romance and the time alone with each other and the Lord!
  • Show interest in one another’s projects and work!
  • Show love and affection even if you don’t feel like it!
  • Learn to be aware of his/her “signals”–insinuations, hints, needs!
  • ASK what your mate likes and dislikes or what bothers him/her!
  • Be sure to respond to and return affection!
  • Pray and read the Bible together.
  • Put God’s will and His work first!

THE “DON’TS” (of a Happy Marriage)!

  • Don’t judge your wife too harshly for her weaknesses! If she didn’t have them, chances are she wouldn’t have married YOU!
  • Don’t think about all the things your partner is or isn’t doing for the relationship. Focus on what YOU can do to make it better!
  • Don’t dwell on the past or any past failures or mistakes or offenses by your partner or in your relationship.
  • Never say, “You ALWAYS do this or that wrong” or “You’ll NEVER change!”
  • Don’t hold grudges!
  • Don’t hide your feelings or trials from each other.–For example, if you are offended or have misunderstood something the other one has said or done. Bringing things out in the open will help resolve them!
  • Don’t nag–watch your tone of voice. Write “reminder” love notes instead.
  • Don’t raise your voice unnecessarily!
  • Don’t answer back hastily!–Think and pray before you answer!
  • Don’t take out your frustrations on each other!
  • Don’t try to make your mate “conform” to your “image” of what he or she should be!
  • Don’t be persistent in asking questions when the other is busy or not in a good mood!
  • Don’t talk about problems right before going to sleep!
  • Don’t stop talking to each other!
  • Don’t take each other for granted!
  • Don’t let lovemaking become routine!
  • Don’t embarrass your mate in public about private matters!
  • Don’t correct each other in front of others!
  • Don’t make fun of or belittle each other, especially in front of others!
  • Don’t be too proud to listen to each other’s suggestions and try them, even if they’re not an expert in that subject.
  • Never argue, dispute or complain in the presence of children–the damaging effects can last forever!
  • Don’t show disunity or argue in front of others.
  • Don’t interrupt each other when talking!
  • Don’t be too proud to say, “I’m sorry!”
  • “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath”–Ephesians 4:26. Always resolve your differences as soon as they occur, and especially before sleeping!
  • Don’t go to sleep without kissing good night, praying together, and saying, “I love you!”
  • FINALLY…Don’t forget that without good communication with JESUS, there cannot be much good communication between YOU! The most important thing in a marriage is for both of you to have faith in Jesus! With faith, everything is possible!–Including a HAPPY MARRIAGE! God bless you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

The Unchangeable Nature of God

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorThe immutability of God—or His unchangeableness or constancy—is part of His divine nature. It means that God doesn’t change in His being, His perfections, His purposes, and promises. He doesn’t change in His nature or character.

The universe and all that is in it changes. There is transition, movement from one state to the next. People, for example, age; and as they do, they change. They grow or diminish in size, as well as intellectually and emotionally. Someone can also change morally, going from being a bad person to being a good one, or vice versa. Someone can study and practice a skill, and in the course of doing so, learn and eventually become proficient in what they have studied. These are all examples of change, which is part of life within creation.

However, God transcends creation. He doesn’t change. If He did, He would become either better or worse. He’d either grow in His intelligence and knowledge or diminish in it. He’d become more loving or less loving, more holy or less holy. But as God, He is infinite in all of these things. He therefore doesn’t improve or deteriorate in them. If He did, He wouldn’t be God.

All of creation is “becoming”—it’s becoming something different than what it presently is. God, in contrast to this, is “being.” He is. Always. He doesn’t change. (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)

God’s character, His attributes or perfections, don’t change. He is always good, loving, just, righteous, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc. There is never any varying in these things. He is constant.

If God’s character varied, then we couldn’t be certain that the God we know to be good and loving would remain that way. If God was subject to change, then at some point He could start thinking that sin isn’t so bad after all; He could eventually degenerate to the point where He would begin to do evil things Himself, and even eventually become an all-powerful evil being. But His character and attributes do not and cannot change. They are constant; there is no variation.

God doesn’t change in His purpose, His will, and His plan. Once He has decided that He will bring something about, He does it. His plan of salvation is something that He determined before the foundations of the world, and He carried out His plan as promised. Prophecies, predictions, and judgments throughout the Old Testament were fulfilled. His purposes of saving people through Jesus, of Jesus’ return, of eternal life for believers, of judgment, of heaven, don’t change; they remain firm. (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)

God doesn’t change in regard to His Word and His promises. If He stopped honoring His promises, if He acted contrary to His Word, then He couldn’t be trusted. The promise of salvation, of eternal life, and His willingness to answer prayer, would all be in question. If God could change, then these bedrock foundations of our faith could change. But His promises and Word remain forever. “Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89 NIV)

 
Does God change His mind?

When God’s unchangeableness is presented, the question often arises about the times God seems to have changed His mind, such as when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to announce that in forty days the city would be destroyed. (See Jonah 3:3–10) Another example was when He gave the ailing king Hezekiah fifteen more years of life, after having told him he was going to die. (Isaiah 38:1–5)

When considering these examples where it looks as if God changed His mind, we must remember that God is a personal being who interacts with humanity. Within this interaction, God responds to man’s choices and decisions. When someone is doing evil, God is displeased with that person’s actions, but if the person repents and changes, then God’s relationship with that person changes. His overall love for the person never changes, but there is a response from God depending on the choices made by the person or people. In the case of Nineveh, because they were wicked, God’s response was that He rightly was going to destroy them. He told Jonah to tell them so. When Jonah did, the people repented, and God’s response to their repentance was mercy.

With Hezekiah, God declared he was going to die, yet when Hezekiah prayed and wept, God responded to his prayer and healed him.

In these cases, God was responding in mercy and love to changes made and prayers prayed by the people involved. In neither example did God change His character or nature, nor His overall purpose and plan. God didn’t change, but the people changed, and God responded in accordance with His divine nature.

Author and theologian Wayne Grudem explains it this way:

These instances should all be understood as true expressions of God’s present attitude or intention with respect to the situation as it exists at that moment. If the situation changes, then of course God’s attitude or expression of intention will also change. This is just saying that God responds differently to different situations. The example of Jonah preaching to Nineveh is helpful here. God sees the wickedness of Nineveh and sends Jonah to proclaim, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The possibility that God would withhold judgment if the people repented is not explicitly mentioned in Jonah’s proclamation as recorded in Scripture, but it is of course implicit in that warning: the purpose for proclaiming a warning is to bring about repentance. Once the people repented, the situation was different, and God responded differently to that changed situation. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 165)

Another factor to keep in mind regarding the scenarios above is that the Bible uses anthropomorphic descriptions of God, such as the mention of God having “relented” in the story of Jonah. These are best understood as descriptive language within human comprehension.

On this matter of anthropomorphic language, William Lane Craig says:

It’s vital that we understand the literary genre, or type, of most of these biblical stories. The Bible is in the form of narratives—they’re stories about God told from the human point of view. So a good storyteller will tell his story with all of the vivacity and color that he wants, to enhance his narratives. And so you’ll find stories in the Bible about God told from a human perspective, where God not only lacks knowledge of the future, but even lacks knowledge of what is going on presently. God comes down to Abraham and says, “I’ve heard the outcry in Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m going to go see if what I’ve heard is really happening there.” (Genesis 18:20–33) Well, that would deny not only God’s foreknowledge but His knowledge of the present. And there are other passages where God is spoken of in other anthropomorphic terms as having nostrils and eyes, arms and other sorts of bodily parts, wings, and if you take all these literally, God would be a fire-breathing monster. These are anthropomorphisms. They are literary devices that are part of the storyteller’s art and shouldn’t be read like a philosophy of religion or systematic theology textbook. (Video transcript excerpts from interview “Can God Change?” PBS “Closer to Truth” show)

In each of these situations, God didn’t change in His nature, character, purpose, or promises. In fact, He was constant in all of these by being just, loving, righteous, and personal, and acting within His overall purpose.

God’s immutability—His constancy and unchangeableness—is central to our faith in Him. If He was inconsistent, if His nature or character was regularly changing, if He improved or deteriorated, then we couldn’t trust Him. We couldn’t trust His Word or His promises.

But God doesn’t change in His Being, nature, character, purposes, promises or plan. He can be counted on, for He is faithful and true. He is the rock that we can build on, the one we can trust in this ever-changing world, because He is the unchangeable God.

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

The Message of the Cross

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorWhen you go throughout the world, you see many churches with steeples. When the Communists tried to outlaw religion in Russia and in Eastern Europe, they forgot that the cross was on many of their churches and cathedrals. The cross is worn on the necks of so many people, but they don’t know what it means. What does it mean to you tonight?

First, the cross shows us the depths of our sins. We don’t realize what sin is in the sight of God—how deeply it offends Him and how it separates us from Him. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed in Gethsemane. He was agonizing, sorrowful. He prayed to God, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV) He looked into the cup, and what did He see in that cup? He saw the sins of the whole world! He saw murder, war, racial prejudice, adultery, lying, and fraud.

People ask the question, “What is sin?” Sin is coming short of God’s righteousness. God is righteous and holy. He cannot look upon sin. A diamond may be perfect to the natural eye. But if you take it to a specialist and he looks at it through a glass, he sees a defect in it. And God looks at us that way… The Scripture says all have sinned. We have all come short of God’s requirement…

The Bible says that we are sinners by nature and by choice. James 4:1–3 says: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We are all that way. Sin has affected our minds. The Scripture says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

Sin also affects your will. Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34 NKJV) There’s something of which you are guilty. You can’t break this habit. You would like to, but you have no power to do it. You are a slave. You cry for freedom, but there is no escape. But Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV) Then He said that He was the truth. (John 14:6)

Sin also affects your conscience. Every one of us has a conscience. Sometimes it’s a little red light that comes on every time we sin against God. But you can have a conscience that doesn’t work any longer. You have gone against your conscience for so long that it’s dead. You are no longer shocked or offended by sin around you or sin in your own life.

There’s a penalty to sin. The wages of sin is death. The Cross says to the world tonight, “You are a sinner. You are under the sentence of death.” That means spiritual death, eternal death. But not only does the Cross show us our sins, it also shows us the love of God. God is saying tonight, “I love you. No matter what you have done—how bad you have been—I love you.” And the death of Christ is what makes the good news. God is saying to you, “I love you. I forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross.”

The Cross is a pardon; it’s a reprieve from death for people who don’t deserve it. None of us deserves to be saved. None of us deserves to go to heaven. But God is love, (1 John 4:8) and God is grace and mercy. “Grace” means something that you don’t deserve, something that God just gives you. God offers you a pardon tonight. He offers you forgiveness; He offers you assurance of heaven if you die. And that can happen right here tonight. “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 KJV) …

Jesus died on the cross for you, and the Scripture says that you can never be the same once you have been to the Cross: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

Do you feel that your life has been a failure? Is your life turned upside down? Do you wonder which way to turn? The choice you make tonight will affect your whole life. It will also affect where you spend eternity. Where will you be a hundred years from now? You won’t be here, but the Cross guarantees a future life. The Cross is followed by the Resurrection. The death of Christ was not the end. There’s a Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Scripture teaches that Christ is reconciling the world unto Himself. He’ll reconcile you. You are separated from God by sin. But when you come to the Cross, you are united with God, and you become a partaker of His own nature.

—Billy Graham

 
Symbol of our faith

Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer, look no further than the cross itself. Its design couldn’t be simpler. One beam horizontal, the other vertical. One reaches out like God’s love. The other reaches up as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love, the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection of both. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standard.

How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there. “God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG) Or as another version reads, “Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 CEV)

Envision the moment. God on his throne. You on the earth. And between you and God, suspended between you and heaven, is Christ on his cross. Your sins have been placed on Jesus. God, who punishes sin, releases his rightful wrath on your mistakes. Jesus receives the blow. Since Christ is between you and God, you don’t. The sin is punished, but you are safe, safe in the shadow of the cross. This is what God did, but why, why would he do it? Moral duty? Heavenly obligation? Paternal requirement? No. God is required to do nothing. Besides, consider what he did. He gave his Son. His only Son. Would you do that? Would you offer the life of your child for someone else? I wouldn’t. There are those for whom I would give my life. But ask me to make a list of those for whom I would kill my daughter. The sheet will be blank. I don’t need a pencil. The list has no names.

But God’s list contains the name of every person who ever lived. For this is the scope of his love. And this is the reason for the cross. He loves the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16) As boldly as the center beam proclaims God’s holiness, the crossbeam declares his love. And, oh, how wide his love reaches. … It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough, and sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough. But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you.

When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know, he died loving you.

—Max Lucado

 
God’s altar

Moses said that without the shedding of blood, there’s no remission of sins. (Leviticus 17:11) That was the Law, but Jesus said, “This is the new testament in My blood.” (1 Corinthians 11:25)

Jesus died on God’s altar, the cross, believed upon by every Christian, trusted by every son and daughter of God who believes Jesus Christ for their salvation and His blood shed for their sins. He was the final ultimate sacrifice for sin. He was the final ultimate Lamb of God slain for the remission of your sins. He took the punishment of your sins in His own body on that tree, the cross, and that was the last sacrifice of blood for sin as far as God was concerned.

It cost a priceless gift for you to get saved, and that was Jesus and His blood. That’s the highest-priced gift anybody could ever receive, the highest cost anybody could pay for your salvation, and only Jesus could do it. No matter how much you sacrifice and try to pay for it by your own works, the price is too high for you. Only Jesus could pay it! God Himself spared not His own Son, Jesus Christ, but let Him die on the cross in order that He could freely give us all things. Such love!

—David Brandt Berg

 
Revelation of God

The cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in time or eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made redemption the basis of human life; that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” … The cross is not the cross of a man but the cross of God, and the cross of God can never be realized in the human experience. The cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the cross is the gateway.

The center of salvation is the cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God.

—Oswald Chambers

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.