Anchor

Never Ever Quit!

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorLife is hard sometimes.

When you’ve worked as hard as you possibly could and yet you failed to make the grade, your dreams remain out of reach, and you feel you just can’t do it anymore, you can feel like giving up.

All of us have probably felt that way at some time or another. Maybe you’ve been in that situation recently. In fact, maybe you feel that way right now.

When you’re getting pounded and slammed again and again, how do you get through it?

I know how. You do too.

You keep going!

No matter what, you just keep going! As Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Okay, that might be oversimplifying a complex issue, but really, in order to accomplish anything significant, you have to keep fighting day after day, no matter what roadblocks you run into. In the face of disappointment or even failure, that’s the time to try again, work harder, study more, and pray desperately.

All great accomplishments take a lot of work and time; they don’t come easily. When progress is slow and our plans or dreams are not coming together as quickly as we’d hoped, it’s easy to wonder if something is wrong. More often, however, I believe that when we hit a brick wall we’re simply going through the normal paces required for progress and success. It’s not that we have to give more or sacrifice more than most others. No, that’s just the road to accomplishment.

If we embark on a new adventure and expect quick results, if that doesn’t happen, or more likely when that doesn’t happen, we can become disappointed and even disillusioned. And even worse, we can be tempted to quit. If we can realize that God’s path for us isn’t likely to be an easy road, then we’ll face the challenges with enthusiasm, and we won’t be caught off guard or derailed when working toward our goals is much more confusing, taxing, and time-consuming than we anticipated.

God works with each of us differently. We are each on our own personal paths that can lead us to both beautiful vistas and dark valleys at different stages of our journey.

Tony Snow explained the challenges of life as follows:

God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don’t. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

Tony Snow, age 51 and father of three, declared those inspiring words when he was in the midst of fighting cancer.

There are many different approaches to facing setbacks and disappointments. I don’t think there’s one perfect formula for overcoming difficulties. There’s no set list of “must do’s” if you’re looking to muster up courage and strength to endure fear, stress, heartache, frustration, or any of the other challenges that accompany the dry spells in our lives. Some things that can help us get through the worst of times are praying and asking others to pray with or for us; seeking the advice of a trusted friend or mentor; taking some time away from the situation to think, regain perspective, and get a better overall understanding of what our options are; hearing from the Lord; reading the Word and inspirational or comforting writings; or having a heart-to-heart talk with a loved one.

I often find inspiration from true stories about people who have accomplished great things in the face of hardship or handicap. Sports provide some great examples along these lines because they’re such public examples and there’s a clear means of measuring their accomplishments. For example:

During a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton, the Bears’ running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage. The other announcer remarked, “Yeah, and that’s with somebody knocking him down every 4.6 yards!” Walter Payton, the most successful running back ever, knows that everyone—even the very best—gets knocked down. The key to success is to get up and run again just as hard.

Sometimes great athletes have overcome tremendous odds. This adds to their amazing stories of courage and perseverance, such as the story of Wilma Rudolph.

[She] didn’t get much of a head start in life. A bout with polio left her left leg crooked and her foot twisted inward so she had to wear leg braces. After seven years of painful therapy, she could walk without her braces. At age 12 Wilma tried out for a girls’ basketball team, but didn’t make it. Determined, she practiced with a girlfriend and two boys every day. The next year she made the team. When a college track coach saw her during a game, he talked her into letting him train her as a runner. By age 14 she had outrun the fastest sprinters in the U.S. In 1956 Wilma made the U.S. Olympic team, but showed poorly. That bitter disappointment motivated her to work harder for the 1960 Olympics in Rome—and there Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals, the most a woman had ever won.

Sports isn’t the only arena that requires vision and persistence. You can find great examples in all walks of life, including business. Here’s a fairly well-known story.

Automobile genius Henry Ford once came up with a revolutionary plan for a new kind of engine which we know today as the V-8. Ford was eager to get his great new idea into production. He had some men draw up the plans, and presented them to the engineers. As the engineers studied the drawings, one by one they came to the same conclusion. Their visionary boss just didn’t know much about the fundamental principles of engineering. He’d have to be told gently—his dream was impossible.

Ford said, “Produce it anyway.” They replied, “But it’s impossible.” “Go ahead,” Ford commanded, “and stay on the job until you succeed, no matter how much time is required.”

For six months they struggled with drawing after drawing, design after design. Nothing. Another six months. Nothing. At the end of the year Ford checked with his engineers and they once again told him that what he wanted was impossible. Ford told them to keep going. They did. And they discovered how to build a V-8 engine.

I think we can minimize a lot of the frustration or confusion we might encounter if we adopt the attitude that reaching our goals will take time, there’s no way around that. And it’s a sure thing there will be setbacks, but if we persist through them, eventually we’ll find success.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4 ESV)

Let’s remember, too, that setbacks are not indicative of God’s displeasure or that you’re missing the mark or out of His will in some way; they’re simply the natural course of life and part of the journey to any accomplishment. So it helps to not catastrophize when we run into problems or delays, because thinking negatively about our challenges dampens our faith and the positive action that’s required to push through the difficulty. Instead of lamenting how hard our lives are or how terribly everything is going, it’s more effective to fill our minds with God’s faith-building Word, encouraging stories of overcoming, and empowering thoughts and positive statements.

Sometimes I set goals, but then whatever I’m working toward ends up taking so much longer than I planned or expected. Often things don’t happen according to our timetable; but maybe God has a different timetable, in accordance with His overarching plan. If we have faith and determination, then we won’t just quit and make excuses when something doesn’t work out as we had hoped. That would be a cop-out, and that’s not going to bring about the end goal of our living the lives we’re hoping for. As Helen Keller reportedly said: “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Unless you fail to make the turn.”

Life can’t always be balanced. Sometimes you’ll find that you’re doing double or triple time; there’s work, the children, studying, managing the house, caring for a sick or disabled loved one or child, and on and on it goes. Those really tough times are what a friend of mine calls “the kill years.” That’s when you’re way busier than you want to be, you’re getting very little sleep and exercise, you have almost no free time, and you’re absolutely exhausted. And on top of that, you often don’t see the progress or success you had hoped for.

Yep, those are the “kill years.” It’s hard. And yet you just have to push through. You just have to keep going.

Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.
―Theodore Roosevelt

Whether you’re studying, starting a business, pursuing a new career, learning a new skill, or whatever you’re busy doing, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll face challenges—a lot of challenges! And this certainly applies to those who are pioneering or building a mission work. Often it takes a long time before you see fruit, and you might face difficulties or opposition along the way. Sometimes we hear or read about men or women who accomplished great things for the Lord, and we might conclude that they found success and favor easily. But we are likely not seeing the full story. Take this example from the diary of the great evangelist and founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley:

Sunday, A.M., May 5 Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore.

Sunday, P.M., May 5 Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said “Get out and stay out.”

Sunday, A.M., May 12 Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either.

Sunday, A.M., May 19 Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.

Sunday, P.M., May 19 Preached on street. Kicked off street.

Sunday, A.M., May 26 Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.

Sunday, A.M., June 2 Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.

Sunday, P.M., June 2 Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me.

There are many true stories, like this one, that illustrate the magic that happens when you refuse to surrender in the face of difficulty. Each of those stories is a testimony to the power of perseverance.

The takeaway for our lives is this: When we don’t quit, anything is possible.

“Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give in. Don’t ever stop trying. Don’t ever sell out. And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off. But never, ever, ever give up.”

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Slate Wiped Clean

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorYou were redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ.
—1 Peter 1:18–19 NIV

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The expression, a clean slate, comes from a slate upon which a tavern’s daily bill of fare was written in soft chalk to be easily erased for a new day’s menu, and from a previous generation of schoolchildren who wrote their lessons or answers in chalk on a small slate—or chalkboard. The slate could easily be wiped clean and ready for another use. Since the mid-1800s the expression has been used figuratively to describe a fresh start, a new beginning without old baggage, or the act of wiping out old offences or debts.

The entire record of everything—unintended or unimagined—that ever was done by you that was unworthy and unholy is wiped clean when you invite Jesus into your life as Savior. (See John 3:16–17 NKJV) God’s forgiveness gives you a clean slate—a new, fresh start. …

Think of how wonderful that is. All the things that you cannot forget that you have done, let alone forgive yourself for ever doing, have been erased forever—once and for all—by the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, on a cross. The slate has been wiped clean; you are given a fresh start. A redemption that you could never have purchased yourself is freely afforded you in salvation. …

The Bible asks a rhetorical question whose answer is obvious and certain, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies! Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33–34 NIV) There is no accuser left standing for the truly redeemed. Here’s Paul’s description of your clean slate, “Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority and marched them naked through the streets.” (Colossians 2:14–15 The Message)

—Allen Randolph

 
Life and Tetris

I’m a fan of Tetris, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a tile-matching puzzle video game. The reason I like it is that I can plan it all out by looking at the pieces that will come up next, and as they come down, I can fit them all in place evenly and lower the stack. At least, that’s the idea.

Even better than that is solving the mistakes I make. Sometimes I plunk a piece down right in the wrong spot, then I have to figure out how to work around that mistake to get rid of the problem spot. It doesn’t always work out like that, though. I do great for the first few levels, but as things speed up and pieces are dropping faster and faster, I can’t control them as well anymore. Pieces end up in the wrong places, and the stack gets closer and closer to the top.

Soon enough, “GAME OVER” is blinking on the screen, and my excitement for the game is tinged with frustration.

Sometimes life can feel like that. We make one mistake after the next, and suddenly it seems like there is nothing we can do to fix things. Sometimes even our best plans end up in a mess, and no matter what we try or how we maneuver things, problems pile up and it feels like the game is over.

But the best thing about a game like Tetris is that there’s always a chance to play again. It doesn’t matter how many times you lose; you’ve always got a fresh start when you want it.

That’s what Jesus does for us. He knows we’re not perfect. He understands our limitations and weaknesses. He designed us, and He understands that we can’t “win” every time.

Jesus has promised to remove our mistakes and sins “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) That means they’re gone; we’ve got a clean slate and we can start over. And this doesn’t just apply to your spiritual life. No matter how well you try to plan out your life, there will come times when you’ll need to start all over.

Perhaps you’ve invested time in certain goals and suddenly things have changed. You’ve put a lot of time, thought, and energy into something you thought was the way to go, but now everything’s different and you’ve got to start from scratch. When that happens, it can be discouraging. All you can see is that big “GAME OVER” sign blinking in your mind.

But after the game is over, there’s always a chance to play again.

A clean slate is an awesome thing. It means the past is done and gone. When you start a new game of Tetris, it won’t refuse you the chance to play again if you’ve lost one too many times. It just gives you a fresh game, no questions asked. When Jesus gives you a clean slate, it’s really a clean slate. He’s not looking back at your past record of mistakes and failings. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

You’ve probably heard the saying “where there’s life, there’s hope.” That’s what I’m talking about here: as long as you’re alive and you keep “playing,” as long as you keep getting up and trying again, there’s always hope, there’s always a fresh start, and sooner or later you’re going to win.

Do you feel like your plans have gone up in smoke, and you don’t know how to start rebuilding? Or are you just discouraged because your first attempts have gone nowhere? Remember that you’ve always got a chance to start a new game. Jesus has a plan and a goal for your life, and He’ll use even the mistakes you make to bring you closer to that goal.

King Solomon tells us that a righteous man falls seven times and gets back up. (Proverbs 24:16) There’s no way around falling. It’s getting up and starting again that matters.

—Marie Story

 
Under construction

Every human being is under construction from conception to death. Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting, and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. At the end of construction—death—we have completed the process.

You formed my inward parts…
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought…
The days fashioned for me.
—Psalm 139:13, 15–16 NKJV

Death says, “This is the finality of accomplishment.” While we cannot add anything more to our experience, believers in Christ have the hope of hearing the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christian being “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Colossians 2:7 NKJV) This is part of our ongoing construction in this life. But the Bible assures us that “if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV) …

Life can be like traveling a treacherous road. There are potholes that jolt us, detours that get us off course, and signs warning of danger ahead. The destination of the soul and spirit is of utmost importance to God, so He offers us daily guidance. Some pay close attention to God’s directions; others ignore them and speed past the flashing lights. But everyone eventually arrives at the final destination: death’s door…

No one escapes life without difficulties. Some experience bad health even in their youth. Some born into wealth lose everything. Some seek love and find only rejection time and again. Without a firm foundation, life’s load is harder to bear.

God has a purpose for each of us, and He desires that we build upon Him, the very foundation He has put in place. Scripture speaks of craftsmen fastening the work of their hands with pegs “that it might not totter.” (Isaiah 41:7 NKJV) When Christ’s hands were pierced by spikes and fastened to the cross, He became our secure foundation.

—Billy Graham

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

God’s Masterpiece

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorWe are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
—Ephesians 2:10 NLT

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The reason you have value is because of what God says about you, not because of what other people say about you.

Many people lack self-esteem. They don’t feel good about themselves because they’re always trying to pump themselves up by the kind of clothes they wear, the kind of car they drive, and the things they say. They’re always trying to pump themselves up to make them feel better about themselves because they really don’t accept themselves—which is rebellion against God.

If God wanted you to be somebody else, you wouldn’t exist. But he wanted you! He made you to be you. Real self-esteem comes from three facts:

  1. God created you.
  2. Jesus died for you.
  3. God’s Spirit lives in you.

The Bible says, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) The New Testament was written originally in Greek. The Greek word for “masterpiece” is “poema.” It’s the word we get “poem” from. God says, “You’re my poem. You’re my masterpiece. I don’t want you copying somebody else. I’ve put gifts in you—heart, abilities, personality, and experiences—and I want you to use them.” You have worth because of what God says about you and has done for you.

You’re not just wanted; you’re needed! The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6, “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.”

You are needed. You’re needed in your church. You are needed in your community. You are needed in this world. If you weren’t needed, God would not have made you. He didn’t create you to just sit and soak and sour. He brought you here to make a contribution with your life. And everybody is needed.

There are no little people in the family of God. Every part is necessary. Do you know what the most important light is in my house? It’s not the big chandelier in the dining room. It’s the little dinky light I turn on every night so that when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I don’t stub my toe.

Every role is important. You are important. You have value because God said so and because he paid such a large ransom for your life when he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you.

—Rick Warren

 
God’s unfinished business

On a rare day that I actually had a bit of time to do some organizing, I came to a realization about myself (not the most impressive one): I have a lot of “unfinished business,” at least with personal projects. I often wonder why so many of my personal projects or work is left undone. Why does it seem difficult to complete even one? And why do I operate this way?

Is it procrastination? Busyness? Lack of organization? Too many pies up there in the sky? All of the above? What’s the solution to getting projects or other to-dos from “pending” in my brain to the complete version where they can actually make a difference?

In his book, The Weathering Grace of God, Ken Gire writes of the importance of “stillness.”

Poets know the importance of … stillness. They know that if they are still enough, long enough, the art they are working on will speak to them, tell them what it wants to be and what it needs from them to become it. All artists know this, whether they work with paint or clay, words or musical notes.

Michelangelo knew how to be still before the stone and listen to the David within it. Strauss knew how to be still before the Danube and listen to the waltz that was eddying about in its waters. Monet knew how to be still before the pond and listen to the lilies sunning on its surface. … Our culture knows little of this kind of listening.

The best ideas, and the completion of them, require not only time to do them, but also stillness and quietness of body, mind, and spirit. The Lord encourages us in the book of Psalms to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) The finishing work, whether of a small project or of life itself, requires stillness in mind and soul.

It’s easy to start something. It’s good to start something. Well begun is half done, they say. But to finish something—to see it through to the end—that’s not always easy.

It takes time. Patience. Faith. And those aren’t always easy to come by. We don’t always find them by looking within or looking around. But when we look up, and with peace and quiet of mind, listen to the still, small voice of God that whispers to us when we take time to listen, we will know the path to take. We will know how to complete what we have begun … and what He has begun in our lives.

We are all, in a way, God’s unfinished business. He has started a lot of “projects” that are well begun, even perfect in their own right, but they are not complete. The work of the Master on His creation continues: the molding, the shaping, the cutting, the polishing. It all comes with the promise, “He makes all things beautiful in His time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

—Jewel Roque

 
A perfect work of art

I was getting a haircut one day when the guy cutting my hair suddenly stopped and said, “Look at that!”

I looked over my shoulder, and there was one of the most stunning sunsets I had ever seen. Several people got up out of their chairs and walked outside to take a look. It was such an incredible sunset that people stood there in awe.

Of course, it is a reminder that “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 NKJV) God is a great artist; there is no question about it.

But God’s greatest masterpiece isn’t some of the sunsets you may have had the privilege of seeing, or the Alps (as spectacular as they are), or the islands of Hawaii and Tahiti (as gorgeous and beautiful as they can be).

God’s greatest masterpiece of creation is you. And it is me. We are God’s greatest masterpieces.

In fact, we read in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” That word workmanship could be translated as “we are His work of art.” We are His poem. Or as another translation puts it, we are God’s masterpiece. …

In addition to “workmanship” speaking of a poem or a work of art, it is a word that speaks of something that is perfect. It carries the idea of rhythm, orderliness, and beauty. When I look at my life, I don’t necessarily see rhythm, orderliness, or beauty. And I can guarantee that I don’t see perfection. When we see ourselves, we tend to see our flaws. We see so many things that need to change. But God says, “You are my work of art. You are my poem. You are my masterwork.”

God is not like a doting father who’s oblivious to his child’s faults. Rather, He is your all-knowing, yet all-powerful Father in heaven who can envision what you will be when it is all said and done. God can look at you and can see what you will become before you have actually become it.

We look at ourselves and say, “I don’t get it. This doesn’t look like a perfect person. This doesn’t look like a work of beauty.”

But you are a work in progress. It is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. It is going to take all of your life on earth. It won’t be completely finished until you get to heaven.

Then you will see that you indeed are a perfect work of art—God’s masterpiece.

—Greg Laurie

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Activated

Oasis of Peace

free-bible-studies-online-oasis-of-peace

Six Steps of Meditative Prayer

Step 1: Choose an appropriate location. Most people find that meditation is best in quiet, uncluttered surroundings, ideally away from where they work or spend most of their waking hours. A secluded spot outside can be especially conducive. Fresh air not only renews us physically, but it also helps to illustrate how God’s Spirit can clear our minds and spirits.

Step 2: Take time to wind down. It’s nearly impossible to immediately go from the affairs of a busy day into a state of deep meditative prayer. Sometimes it helps to spend a few minutes on a transitional activity to phase out the material world, such as listening to soothing music, taking a short walk, or breathing deeply. As you try different things, you’ll find what works best for you.

Step 3: Leave your cares at His feet. If problems are distracting you and weighing you down, they’ll hinder the peace you could receive through meditation. Take a minute or two (or as long as you like) to give your present cares to Jesus in prayer. Be specific. Describe to Him what is troubling you, and ask Him to lift and bear it. Focus on God’s ability to bring solutions, rather than on the problems themselves. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Step 4: Get relaxed. Several minutes of gentle stretches and deep breathing, followed by a relaxation exercise (concentrate on relaxing your face and neck, then your entire body, part by part), can help. If you’re feeling especially tense, a shower or a bath or a short walk in nature might help you relax. Or if you’re very tired, a nap may be just the thing, because if you’re exhausted, you may not benefit as much from your time of meditation.

Step 5: Select a comfortable position. In meditation, the position of your spirit matters much more than the position of your body. You don’t have to sit a certain way—or even sit, for that matter—except of course you should be comfortable, so you can more easily focus your thoughts and mind.

Step 6: Meditate. You’ve found an appropriate spot and wound down physically. You’ve put your problems and cares into Jesus’ very capable hands. You’ve disconnected from the affairs of the day and are relaxed and comfortable. Now you’re ready to begin a time of meditation.

You might choose to focus on Jesus Himself, thinking about one of His attributes, or on some special blessing He has brought into your life. A specific thought from God’s Word can also be a subject for meditation. Reading a passage from the Bible or some other short devotional material may help get you started.

 

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You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
—Isaiah 26:3 NLT

 
If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.
—Thomas Watson (c. 1620–1686)

 
Meditation is simply talking to God about His Word with a desire that your life and those you pray for come into agreement with it.
—William Thrasher

 
When we find our souls at all declining, it is best to raise them up presently by some awakening meditations, such as of the presence of God, of the strict reckoning we are to make, of the infinite love of God in Christ and the fruits of it, of the excellency of a Christian’s calling, of the short and uncertain time of this life, of how little good all those things that steal away our hearts will do us before long, and of how it shall be forever with us hereafter, as we spend this short time well or ill. The more we make way for such considerations to sink into our hearts, the more we shall rise nearer to that state of soul which we shall enjoy in heaven.
—Richard Sibbes (1577–1635)

 
In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him, that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him—totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.
—Chuck Swindoll (b. 1934)
 

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Peace on the outside comes from knowing Jesus on the inside. You can do that by simply inviting Him into your heart:

Dear Jesus, I want to know You and enjoy Your peace. Please come into my life, give me Your peace, and help me get to know You better and grow in the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of Your Word. Amen.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Anchor

Looking for Inspiration

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorInspiration is a wonderful, God-created thing. It is intangible but powerful. Some synonyms for inspiration are encouragement, enthusiasm, genius, insight, vision, awakening, creativity, spark, spur, and stimulation.

Inspiration infuses you with renewed zest for life. It influences, moves, or guides you to action. It provides a fire in your soul, so to speak. We all have times when we hit the inspiration skids; when we not only lack inspiration, but might even doubt that we’ll ever feel inspired again.

Maybe you’re facing a big challenge at your workplace. Perhaps one of your children is going through a rough patch and you’re overcome with worry. If you just had some unexpected expenses and your finances are tapped out, that can bring a lot of anxiety. Or maybe you have become estranged from a close friend or loved one and you feel awash in guilt and sadness. Or maybe nothing “bad” has happened but you just feel flat. Without inspiration.

When you feel like you’ve lost inspiration, or lost hope, or are just feeling so very blah, like the wind has gone out of your sails and you don’t know how you’re going to get it back, there are some things that can help. God, in His foresight and great love for us, created many things that can serve as sparks to boost our sense of personal happiness and well-being and reignite our inspiration flame.

Whether you’re trying to make it through a tough spot or seeking creative inspiration for a project, these sources of inspiration can serve as recharging stations to your spirit.

Reading God’s Word is paramount. The Bible is a direct source of divine inspiration. Jeremiah said of God’s Word: “Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV) Communing with God should be your first priority when your inspiration has run dry and you need spiritual renewal. The truest and deepest inspiration comes when we are in relationship with our Creator. This results in the wonderful “joy of the Lord” referred to in the Bible, the inspiration that does not fade. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Meditating and reflecting on God’s Word, and the writings of other inspired Christians, brings faith and focus to your spirit. Spending time in worship and adoration can also be a powerful way to lift your spirit.

Friendship is not to be overlooked. Good company and fellowship are central to a happy life. We all need the support of others, and most of life’s best experiences are shared with those we love. And when we’re feeling low or facing hard times, friends are even more important. If you find yourself living far away from your friends and it’s not easy to have face-to-face fellowship, it works to pick up the phone or have a Skype call to keep in touch. True friends not only provide support, they also inspire us to be our best selves. Friends encourage us to keep going. They remind us that the best is yet to come, and that if we hang in there, we’ll pull through, as we have so many times before.

Nature is a magnificent source of inspiration. God’s creation is a constant and amazing proof of His power and design. Not only is nature, in its many forms, breathtakingly beautiful; it also showcases God’s power and His love for humankind. The majesty of creation is an ever-present reminder that the God who made everything is sovereign and more than capable of caring for every burden, fear, worry, and prayer that we entrust to Him. When we are reminded of that great truth, we can more easily cast our cares on God, (1 Peter 5:7) which can result in a lightening of our spirits and a sense of inspiration and hope for the future.

Seek out good news. This is an effective way to lift your spirit. As the verse says, “Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” ( Philippians 4:8 ESV)

You can pay more attention to the good news in your life by pausing in the morning or evening to think about the things you’re grateful for and noting them in your gratitude journal. Science shows that people who keep a gratitude journal or make a practice of counting their blessings are happier and more content.

Appreciate the arts: music, painting, sculpture, literature, dance, photography. There are countless beautiful expressions of human creative skill, and when we take time to appreciate these things, we can be inspired and uplifted.

Enjoy life’s simple gifts. It doesn’t always take something significant or amazing to boost your mood. One small thing enjoyed fully at just the right time can have a big effect. Like a hot shower. A perfect cappuccino. A kiss from a child or grandchild. Vine-ripened tomatoes in a fresh salad. An ice-cold glass of water.

There are countless small gifts that we receive daily from God and others that can bring us a lot of joy and a sense of well-being if we are mindful of them.

Stay alive with exercise. Science has proven that exercise is good for your body and your emotional and mental health. It’s a mood-booster. So when your inspiration is lagging, get your body moving. I’ll admit, this isn’t always something that I feel eager to do, especially if my mood is a little blah or I’m feeling tired. But once I’ve done it, I feel energized and generally more inspired.

Try something new! New scenery and new activity bring new inspiration, so when you can, do new things, explore new places. Break out of your routines. New environments can bring new insights. God made each of us to be creative in some way, and activating your creative processes through learning something new can both be enjoyable and can open a pathway to new inspiration. Do something you haven’t done before. Consider a new hobby.

Make time for silence. God made us to need quiet. We need white space in our lives. We have to schedule time for God. We have to carve out “me time.” Sometimes we just need to shut down our devices and unplug, and get away from all the hustle and bustle and seek out silence.

You can gain a sense of purpose and joy from times of quiet, thought, reflection, prayer, and communion with God. Sometimes we need to think about our lives, where life is headed, and what our goals are. Many people shy away from being alone or being in a place of quiet or silence. If you feel that way, I encourage you that a place of silence can be the birthplace of fresh hope, renewed priorities, new perspectives, and godly inspiration.

Each of us is different. And at different times in your life, different things can help to boost your inspiration, to rekindle the flame, so to speak. So while you may have your “go-to” inspiration primers, don’t get stuck in a rut. Try new things! Let’s keep ourselves open to the many beautiful ways in which we can be renewed.

Don’t fret or despair if you’re going through a dry spell, or if you don’t seem to be bouncing back as quickly as you had hoped. If you’re in that place right now, God wants you to reach out to Him, trust in His promises, and have patience, regardless of your feelings or low inspiration level. Sometimes we feel inspired and sometimes we don’t, but we can always trust in the promise of Isaiah 40:31 that heavenly inspiration will come: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

I find those words “soar on wings like eagles” to be a beautiful picture of inspiration and freedom from the cares of the world that threaten to pull us down.

We can bank on God’s promises, on His unconditional and never-ending love for us.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV).

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you are in God’s hands? That He wants you to prosper and to have hope? We can draw great peace and inspiration from the assurance that we are in His strong, capable, and loving hands.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Sweet Dreams Tonight!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

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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

Activated

A Tale of Two Brothers

Author unknown

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According to legend, there was once an abbey which had a very generous abbot. No beggar was ever turned away, and he gave all he could to the needy. The strange thing was that the more he gave away, the richer the abbey seemed to become.

When the old abbot died, he was replaced by a new one with exactly the opposite nature. One day an elderly man arrived at the monastery, saying that he had stayed there years before, and was seeking shelter again.

“Our monastery cannot provide for strangers like it used to when we were wealthy,” the abbot said. “No one seems to make gifts towards our work nowadays.”

“Ah, well,” said the stranger, “I think that is because you banished two brothers from the monastery.”

“I don’t think we ever did that,” said the puzzled abbot.

“Oh, yes,” was the reply. “They were twins. One was called ‘Give’ and the other, ‘It will be given to you.’ (See Luke 6:38) You banished ‘Give,’ so his brother decided to go as well.”

 

*

 
Freely you have received, freely give.
—Jesus, Matthew 10:8

 
I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.
—Joyce Meyer (b. 1943)

 
I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance, but by our disposition.
—Martha Washington (1731–1802)

 
The more you give, the more comes back to you, because God is the greatest giver in the universe, and He won’t let you outgive Him. Go ahead and try. See what happens.
—Randy Alcorn (b. 1954)

 
In all of my years of service to my Lord, I have discovered a truth that has never failed and has never been compromised. That truth is that it is beyond the realm of possibilities that one has the ability to outgive God. Even if I give the whole of my worth to Him, He will find a way to give back to me much more than I have given.
—Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892)

 
 

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