Category Archives: Inspiration

Activated

Yolo or Carpe Diem?

By Tina Kapp

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Most people have heard the acronym “YOLO” thrown around for the past couple of years. It stands for “you only live once.” Pop stars and celebrities have made it a catchphrase to promote doing crazy things or taking risks because, hey, “You only live once!”

It’s an attractive thought. Why worry about the future? Why subscribe to having to answer for decisions we make when we can pretend it all doesn’t matter anyway? Why can’t we only be concerned about what makes us happy right now?

Well, when you get older, you realize that life doesn’t work like that, and you start having to pay for the decisions you made earlier. In most cases, those who live life with that motto begin wishing they had thought about the long term a bit sooner.

I remember struggling with my weight as a teenager. I hated feeling overweight. I didn’t get chosen for local school dance teams and often felt insecure. I thought about it constantly. Did that stop me from overeating unhealthy food when I had the opportunity? Not a chance! At that moment, all I cared about was that it tasted good and I wanted it! When confronted with some delectable delight, all thoughts of being healthy magically disappeared … until later when I’d get depressed that I couldn’t lose weight. That was me living strictly in the moment with no thought for the long term.

Now that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy life. God doesn’t want us to be miserable. “Happy are the people who are in such a state;” the Bible says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15) “Do not sorrow,” it tells us, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Jesus wants us to experience God’s love and the many blessings that He gives us every day.

Since we only have one life, what do we want to do with it? What do we want to be remembered for? What would be a life that we can look back at and be proud of? The well-known saying “Carpe Diem” (Latin for “seize the day”) has a positive feel to it. It’s the same rationale that you only live once, but rather than taking it as a reason to do crazy things, ignore consequences, and live for the now, it means to go further, to do more, and to not waste time.

Life is made up of lots of days. Some will be fun and chilled, while others will be hard work. Think of Olympic gold medalists. The day that they compete and win will go down in history, and I bet it will remain as one of the best days of their lives. But to get there, it takes years of training, hard work, and focus. Think of your favorite musician playing to a massive audience. Again, they only got there through countless days of faithful practice, rehearsals, and playing for anyone who would listen until they got their big break.

All our favorite Bible characters experienced something similar. Think of Noah building the ark or Joseph saving Egypt from starvation. The good days didn’t come from them sitting around only doing what they felt like and enjoying the YOLO days. It took hard work and planning so that when the time came, their single life would save many more and leave its mark on the world.

The prodigal son believed you only live once. (See Luke 15:11–32) He didn’t want to wait for his inheritance. He wanted to party and have fun now. He pestered his father for his share of his inheritance and then immediately “set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13 NIV) I’m sure he had a fabulous time … until the money ran out, and with it, all his so-called “friends.” They left him in rags, begging for food, when he had nothing left.

Ecclesiastes warns us, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

All of the choices we make have consequences—from little things like eating vegetables, to studying and working hard toward a goal, to living a godly life. Understanding that now can help you make wise decisions and have something wonderful to show for it at the end of your days.

Don’t let life pass you by. Make the most of it so that you can look back and be encouraged by what you’ve accomplished.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Proof That Jesus Is the Messiah!

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Hundreds and even thousands of years BEFORE Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Old Testament Prophets predicted His coming. Their predictions were not just general ones that “a Messiah, a Saviour, will come” etc., but SPECIFIC prophecies about places, times and events that have been fulfilled in only ONE person who has ever lived–JESUS of Nazareth! In this brief lesson we have chronologically arranged several of the most outstanding Old Testament Messianic prophecies in the actual verbatim text of the Scriptures and followed them with their New Testament fulfilments.

 
HIS BIRTH

PROPHECY: Nearly 750 years before Christ’s birth, the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah prophesied: “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a VIRGIN shall CONCEIVE, and bear a SON, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).

FULFILMENT: In exact fulfilment of this prophecy, Mary was a young VIRGIN engaged to be married to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her saying that she would bear a child. “Then Mary said to the Angel, How shall this be, seeing I have not laid with a man?’ And the Angel answered, The HOLY GHOST shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you! Therefore that holy One which shall be born of you shall be called the SON of GOD.” (Luke 1:26-35). (Immanuel means “God with us”, and for those of us who have received Jesus into our hearts, that’s Who He IS: God is WITH us!)

PROPHECY: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: And the government shall be upon His shoulder: And His NAME shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the MIGHTY GOD, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!” (Isaiah 9:6). (Prophecy given 740 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: This shows that the ancient Jews, unlike most modern ones, believed that God had a SON–Who was to be born in the flesh and Whom the prophecy said was to be called “The Mighty GOD”.

PROPHECY: Micah, prophesying in the eighth century B.C., predicted the exact village where the Messiah would be born: “You, BETHLEHEM, though you are small among the clans of Judah, yet out of you shall He come forth unto Me that is to be RULER over ISRAEL; Whose existence has been of old, from EVERLASTING.” (Micah 5:2). (Prophecy given 710 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: The Gospel says “Jesus was born in BETHLEHEM of JUDEA.” (Matthew 2:1). Although the Jews knew that their Messiah was to be born there (Matthew 2:4-6), they didn’t, as a nation, accept Jesus as their ruler. Nonetheless, the prophecy says that He “IS to BE ruler”. This takes place spiritually now for those who voluntarily accept His Messiahship, and will SOON take place LITERALLY by FORCE at His Second Coming!

Jesus’ existence, as the prophecy says, “has been of OLD, from EVERLASTING”. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was (around 2,000 B.C.), I AM.” (John 8:58). He was here referring to Himself as the eternal God Who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush as: “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14), the eternal Son of God! (See also John 1:13,14.)

 
TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM

PROPHECY: The Prophet Zechariah commanded the people by the Spirit of the Lord to: “REJOICE GREATLY, O daughter of Zion! SHOUT, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your KING comes unto you: RIGHTEOUS, and having SALVATION; meek, and riding upon a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9). (Prophecy given 487 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: Five days before His crucifixion, as Jesus neared Jerusalem, He told His disciples, “Go into the village ahead of you, and at once you shall find a donkey tied there, and her colt with her: Untie them, and bring them to Me. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the donkey and the colt…and Jesus sat on them…and the multitudes that went ahead, and those that followed, SHOUTED, saying, `Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Matthew 21:2-10).

Imagine!–The King of kings, God in the flesh, came riding into Jerusalem, meekly sitting on the lowly colt of a donkey, just as God’s Prophet, Zechariah, had predicted over 500 years earlier! And not only did JESUS fulfil this part of the prophecy, but the MULTITUDES of Jerusalem who “REJOICED GREATLY” and “SHOUTED” praises to Him as He entered the city were further proof that indeed, Jesus of Nazareth was “the KING” of whom Zechariah had prophesied!

 
HIS BETRAYAL

PROPHECY: Again Zechariah predicts: “And I said unto them, If you think good, give me my PRICE; and if not, keep it. So they paid me THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER.” (Zechariah 11:12). (Prophecy given 487 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said to them, ‘What will you give me, if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out for him THIRTY pieces of SILVER.” (Matthew 26:14, 15).

PROPHECY: “And the Lord said unto me, `Cast it unto the POTTER! The handsome price at which they priced Me!’ And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and CAST them to the POTTER in the HOUSE of the LORD.” (Zechariah 11:13). (Prophecy given 487 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: “Then Judas, which had betrayed Him (Jesus), when he saw that He was condemned, repented, and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders…And he CAST DOWN the pieces of silver in the TEMPLE, and went away and hanged himself. And the chief priests picked up the silver pieces, and said, It is against the law to put this into the treasury, because it is the price paid for blood. So they decided to use the money to buy the POTTER’S Field, to bury foreigners in.” (Matthew 27:3-6). The thirty pieces of silver WERE literally “CAST to the POTTER…IN the house of the Lord”!

 
HIS TRIAL

PROPHECY: “By arrest and judgement He was taken away: And who shall speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living: For the transgression of my people was He stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8). (Prophecy given 712 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: Jesus was ARRESTED by the soldiers of the High Priest. (Matthew 26:57). After judging Him in their religious court and condemning Him to death, they bound Him and handed Him over to Pilate, the Roman Governor. (Matthew 27:1-2). “While Pilate was sitting in judgement…the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd…to have Jesus executed.” (Matthew 27:19-20). “Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified.” (John 19:16).

Pilate himself knew that Jesus was INNOCENT and had done nothing worthy of death, and that the Jewish religious leaders only wanted Jesus executed because of their religious jealousy, yet the religious leaders used their political leverage to force Pilate to have Him crucified anyway. (John 18:28-40;19:1-16; Luke 23:13-25; Matthew 27:18).

 
HIS CRUCIFIXION

PROPHECY: Around 1,000 B.C., King David prophesied: “Dogs have surrounded Me: A band of wicked men have encircled Me: They PIERCED My HANDS and My FEET. I can count all My bones. People stare and gloat over Me. They DIVIDE MY GARMENTS among them, and CAST LOTS upon My CLOTHING.” (Psalm 22:16-18). (Prophecy given around 1,000 B.C.) (See also Zechariah 12:10;13:6.)

FULFILMENT: That was written by King David, who died a natural death (recorded in 1Kings Chapter 1), so he wasn’t talking about himself. But being a Prophet, he predicted the type of death that CHRIST would die! As it says in the New Testament, “then the soldiers, when they had CRUCIFIED Jesus (pierced hands AND feet), took His GARMENTS, and divided them into four parts, a part to every soldier; His undergarment remained. Now this garment was without seam, woven in one piece from top to bottom. They said therefore to one another, Let us not tear it, but let us cast LOTS for it, to see whose it shall be.” (John 19:23,24).

Crucifixion, incidentally, was not practiced by the Jews of David’s time. (They killed criminals by STONING!) But David PREDICTED this type of death for the MESSIAH–a method of execution that was to become one of the principal means of execution by the Roman Empire ten centuries later!

PROPHECY: Here is another prophecy by David regarding “The Righteous”, or the Messiah: “Many are the afflictions of The Righteous, but…He (God) keeps ALL His BONES: Not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20). (Prophecy given about 1,000 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: MANY of God’s righteous servants have had their bones broken, especially in their martyrdom. But Jesus was “THE righteous”, “My righteous Servant”, as God called Him, Who through His death would “justify many” or make them righteous. (Isaiah 53:11-12). And to PROVE that He was “THE Righteous” Who would “justify many”, God didn’t let ANY of His bones be broken!

Jesus was crucified on the eve of the feastday of the Passover. To ensure that the bodies of the two thieves and Jesus wouldn’t be hanging there on the cross during the Jews’ holy day (death by crucifixion sometimes took days), they BROKE the LEGS of the thieves, causing their bodies to sag, cutting off their respiration and bringing a quick death. “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they did NOT break His legs.” (John 19:31-33).

Jesus was “the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the World” (John 1:29), and was crucified at the time of the Jewish Passover, a religious festival when all the Jewish households killed a lamb as a sacrificial sin offering. Right at that SAME time, Jesus, “THE Lamb of God”, died for the sins of Mankind. The Lord had commanded that NONE of the Passover lamb’s BONES were to be BROKEN (Exodus 12:46), and Jesus’ death fulfilled this specific point also!

 
HIS BURIAL

PROPHECY: “And He was given a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.” (Isaiah 53:9).

FULFILMENT: In the eyes of His bitter religious enemies, Jesus was a criminal, a WICKED man, and as He died, there were “two ROBBERS crucified WITH Him”. (Matthew 27:38). After His death, “a RICH man…named Joseph…went to Pilate and pleaded for the body of Jesus. And when Joseph had taken the body, he…laid it in his own new tomb”–A GRAVE with the RICH!!! (Matthew 27:57-60).

 
HIS RESURRECTION

PROPHECY: “For You will not leave My soul in hell (the grave, death); neither will You allow Your Holy One to see CORRUPTION (decay). (Psalm 16:10). (Prophecy given around 1,000 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: King David, who gave the prophecy, died and was buried in a grave and his flesh saw corruption and decay. But Jesus was RAISED from the grave and hell THREE days AFTER His death, and “His soul was not LEFT in hell (or in the grave), neither (did) His flesh see corruption (decay).” (Acts 2:27-31). As the Angel said to the mourners who came to Jesus’ tomb, “He is not here, but is RISEN! Why do you seek the LIVING among the DEAD?” (Luke 24:6,5).

Jesus is ALIVE! The Scriptures show that He walked the Earth for 40 days after His Resurrection and was seen by HUNDREDS of followers! (Acts 1:3; 1Corinthians 15:4-6). He then ascended up to Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. (Mark 16:19).

 
EXACT YEAR OF HIS CRUCIFIXION

PROPHECY: “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall be seven sevens, and 62 sevens (or a TOTAL of 69): The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after 62 sevens shall the MESSIAH be CUT OFF, but not for Himself.” (Daniel 9:25,26). (Prophecy given 538 B.C.)

The city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the armies of Babylon when the Jews went into captivity and exile in 586 B.C. But 133 years later, in 453 B.C., Artaxerxes Longimanus, King of the Persian Empire, gave the Jews the commandment to go forth (from captivity into the land of Israel), “to restore and to build Jerusalem”.

We know his decree was issued in 453 B.C., and that Jesus was “cut off” in 30 A.D. Therefore, if we add the 453 years B.C. to the 30 years A.D., it equals 483 YEARS. Let’s see now if Daniel’s specific time prophecy coincides with this:

The prophecy predicted that from the time of this decree until the death of the Messiah the Prince would be–HOW long?–“7 sevens plus 62 sevens”–or 69 SEVENS. 69 sevens would be 69 x 7, which equals 483. So Daniel predicted that 69 sevens of YEARS, or 483 YEARS, would pass between the issuing of the decree to build Jerusalem and the “cutting off” of the Messiah. And that’s EXACTLY how many years DID pass between 453 B.C. and Jesus’ death in 30 A.D.! What an amazing EXACT FULFILMENT of prophecy! And this astonishing prophecy was given in the year 538 B.C.–almost 600 years BEFORE Jesus the Messiah was crucified! It’s also interesting to note that this 483-year period was divided into two periods: First a period of 7 sevens (49 years), then a period of 62 sevens (434 years). History reveals that it did take the Jews 49 YEARS from the time the decree was issued to “rebuild the walls and streets of Jerusalem”. Once Jerusalem was rebuilt, it was exactly 434 years (62 sevens) later that Jesus the Messiah was crucified!

Daniel’s prophecy continues with undeniable PROOF that this MESSIAH had to be JESUS:

 
DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AFTER HIS COMING

PROPHECY: “At the end of 62 sevens shall the Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: AND the people of the RULER that SHALL COME shall DESTROY the CITY (of Jerusalem) and the SANCTUARY (the Jewish Temple).” (Daniel 9:26). In other words, according to this prophecy, AFTER the Messiah’s death, the city of Jerusalem AND the Jews’ Temple would be DESTROYED! Was it? YES! Only 40 years later!

FULFILMENT: After Jesus was cut off (or crucified in 30 A.D.), “not for Himself”, but for the sins of the WORLD, do you know what happened to Jerusalem and to the Jews’ Temple? In 70 A.D., the Roman legions of the Emperor Vespasian (“the people of the ruler”), under his son, General Titus, marched in and burnt Jerusalem to the ground and so utterly destroyed their Sanctuary that not one stone was left upon another!

Jesus Himself, in a set of amazingly detailed prophecies given 40 years before these catastrophic events, predicted EXACTLY what would happen! (See Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 19:42-44;21:20-24.)

 
SHUTTING OF EAST GATE AFTER HIS COMING

PROPHECY: “Then he brought me back to the outer GATE of the SANCTUARY, the one facing toward the EAST; and it was SHUT. Then the Lord said unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and NO MAN shall enter in by it; because THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, HAS ENTERED IN BY IT, therefore it shall be SHUT.” (Ezekiel 44:1,2). (Prophecy given 572 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: When Jesus (“the Lord, the God of Israel”) made His TRIUMPHAL ENTRY into Jerusalem on the back of the colt of an ass, He came from the Mt. of Olives and entered into Jerusalem’s EAST Gate (Matthew 21:9-12), the gate which led into the TEMPLE COURTS, as it says here, “the OUTER gate of the SANCTUARY which faces toward the EAST.”

In 70 A.D., the city of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed and it remained in ruins for centuries after. But in 542, the Moslem Sultan Sulieman rebuilt the walls of the city. Because the Jews who had rejected Jesus believed their Messiah was STILL to come and was YET to make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Sulieman (who wanted to avoid the Jews rallying around a “Messiah” and rebelling) WALLED the “East Gate” completely SHUT, and thus unwittingly fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Ezekiel, “It shall be shut…because the Lord (Jesus), the God of Israel, HAS ENTERED in by it.” And the East Gate REMAINS sealed shut until this very day!

Most Jews believe that the Messiah has not yet come, but according to these two FULFILLED HISTORICAL FACTS: 1) The destruction of Jerusalem, and 2) The walling up of the East Gate, the Messiah has ALREADY come! And if it wasn’t JESUS of NAZARETH, who WAS it?

WHO ELSE was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, was called God, rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on an ass, was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, was proclaimed innocent yet condemned unjustly to be crucified while soldiers parted His garments, was associated with the wicked in his death, was buried in a rich man’s tomb and rose from the dead–all in FULFILMENT of Messianic PROPHECY! The answer, of course, is NO one else but JESUS CHRIST! And the prophecies that we have quoted here are only a FEW out of nearly 300 specific Old Testament prophecies which Jesus fulfilled!

 
WHY (did Jesus die on the cross)?

WHY did Jesus die on that cross? Because He LOVED you! He loved you enough to take your punishment, to die and be separated from His Father for a while so that He could bring YOU the LOVE of God and ETERNAL LIFE! As another prophecy says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; each of us have turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all. There was no deceit in His mouth, yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer. HIS soul (Jesus’) shall be made an offering for SIN, and by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant JUSTIFY (make righteous) many; and HE shall bear THEIR INIQUITIES!” (Isaiah 53:6,9-11). (Prophecy given 750 B.C.)

Jesus died for YOU! And God gave all these prophecies and had them written down and preserved down through the centuries and millenniums so that your faith might be strengthened by them enough to BELIEVE that “God so LOVED the World, that He gave His only begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Do YOU?

God LOVES you and Jesus is just WAITING at your heart’s door for you to open to Him. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If ANY man hear My voice, and OPEN the door, I WILL come in to him and WILL sup with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20). Would YOU like to receive Jesus into your heart? If you would, sincerely pray from your heart this simple prayer:

Dear Jesus, I know that I’ve done wrong things and I’m sorry. I believe that You died for my sins and I ask You to please come into my heart and forgive me. And please help me to live for You and others by reading Your Word and telling others about Your Love! In Jesus’ name, amen.

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

Hope in Suffering

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSuffering is designed to make us better, not bitter. God brings men into deep waters not to drown them, but to cleanse them.

Everyone has tests and temptations and trials and tribulations of some form or another, but it’s how you handle them that makes the difference. We can avoid becoming bitter or resentful about our trials and suffering if we realize that our great heavenly Father, the Spirit of love of the entire universe, will never allow any evil to come into our life unless He can in some way make it turn out for good.

This is the wonderful secret that makes burdens become blessings, and trials become triumphs, and crosses become crowns—the knowledge that no matter what we go through, it will somehow turn out for our good. This is the wonderful plan that God has for us and the gift that He has given us who believe in Jesus and are His children. If we are saved, we can trust through problems and suffering, because we know there’s a good reason for our tests and trials.

Everything that happens to the child of God always has a ray of hope somewhere. The storm always has a rainbow. The night always has its stars. The clouds always have a silver lining. God’s loving care is always present in any circumstance. And even when it cannot be seen, faith knows that God is there. For the child of God there is always a good and wonderful purpose behind suffering—a blessing in disguise.

Nevertheless, problems with all of their advantages and lessons and blessings sometimes do tend to discourage us and weigh us down and often tempt us to despair. One of the best ways for keeping our cheerfulness and our balance in times of stress and adversity is the attitude we take toward our problems.

For an example, let’s take the story of the small boy who sat quietly in a seat of a train running between two of the Western cities in the United States. It was a hot, dusty day, very uncomfortable for traveling, and that particular ride was perhaps the most uninteresting day’s journey in the whole land. But the little fellow sat patiently watching the fields and the fences hurrying by, until a motherly old lady, leaning forward, asked sympathetically, “Aren’t you tired of the long ride, dear, and the dust and the heat?” The lad looked up brightly, and replied, with a smile, “Yes, Ma’am, a little. But I don’t mind it much, because my father is going to meet me when I get to the end of it!”

What a beautiful thought it is that when life seems wearisome and monotonous and burdensome, as it sometimes does, we can look forward hopefully and trustingly, and like the little lad, “not mind it much” because our Father, too, will be waiting to meet us at our journey’s end. The Lord will meet us at the end of life’s journey—thank God!

And let’s not forget that Jesus suffered everything that we suffer. The Bible says that He was tempted in all points just like we are. There were times when He was sick and He was tired and He was hungry and He was thirsty and He was discouraged. Think of that.

Jesus Himself knows what it’s like to suffer. In fact, He suffered more than any of us can ever even imagine! He suffered for all the sins of all the world, because He loves us so much and was willing to even die for us! And someday soon, God’s Word promises us, all the suffering for those who love God will come to an end, and He “shall wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for all the evil of this world shall be passed away!”—When Jesus Himself returns to earth to right all wrongs and establish His eternal kingdom of love and peace!

Until that day, we will have to endure some suffering. But if you have Jesus in your heart, if you do your best to love Him and follow His teachings, as written in the Bible, you will find that the joy and happiness that will pervade and fill your life will far outweigh any temporary times of sorrow, suffering, testing, and trial. And that as we have seen, God will work all of these things together for your good.

And when hard times do come, the Lord promises us in His Word, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” And you’ll find that no matter how deep the floods of pain and sorrow, or how hot the fires of trial and affliction, Jesus is “a friend that sticks closer than a brother,” and if you put your hand in His, trust in Him, and depend upon His Word, He will lovingly lead you and safely see you through it all!

God’s love does not always keep us from suffering and trials, but it is a love that always keeps us through sufferings and trials. Let’s never forget that the trials and storms of life no more indicate the absence of God than clouds indicate the absence of the sun!

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Peace!–In the Midst of Storm!

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg

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Have you ever been in a big storm, a powerful hurricane, earthquake or typhoon? Were you afraid or scared or worried? Well, most people ARE when caught in such storms because they never know if they’re going to get blown away or if the lightning is going to strike them or the wind will rip the roof off their house or somehow hurt or even kill them!

But this little family is peaceful and unafraid, even though all around them a terrible storm is raging! The wind is howling, big trees are being uprooted and blown down, lightning is flashing and thunder is crashing! But they don’t look worried at all! They’re perfectly at peace and at rest!

Do you know what a mother hen does with her little chicks whenever danger is near? She gathers them under her wings and covers and protects them there. Well, the Bible says that the Lord does the same thing with HIS children. “He shall cover you, and under His wings you can trust. There you need not fear the terror by night, nor the destruction by day, for the LORD is your refuge and place of protection.” (Psalm 91)

If we belong to the Lord and stay close to Him, He will take care of us.–ALWAYS! So that even if we’re in the middle of a terrible storm like we see in this picture, His strong and loving Heavenly hands will be there to keep, protect and take care of us. Even when all is dark and stormy OUTSIDE, we can have the sunshine of His love and rainbow of His blessings and peace INSIDE!

Did you ever hear the Bible story of Rahab? A long time ago, there was a city called Jericho which was so wicked that God was going to punish and destroy it. But within the city was a dear little woman named Rahab who was kind and helpful to God’s children. And because she was good to God’s people, God was good to her!

The huge protective walls that ran around Jericho were very high and very thick–so thick that many people actually had their houses ON the walls, as did Rahab. When the day of God’s judgements came, He shook the city and caused the ENTIRE WALL to COLLAPSE to the ground! Except for ONE tiny little part of it that remained standing all alone–and that was the house of Rahab! Because she had faith and because she had received and been good to God’s children, when He destroyed the entire city and everybody else in it, her little house didn’t fall and she and her family were spared and protected! (Joshua 2 and 6)

So why worry? If you’re the LORD’S child, HE will take care of you! His children who stay close to Him live in a CHARMED CIRCLE of His protection! It’s like a special FORCE-FIELD that nothing can get through without His permission! Of course this doesn’t mean that the Lord will NEVER allow us to be harmed or tested, but He’ll never allow us to have any INSUFFERABLE harm or any UNBEARABLE damage, and He promises to always save us out of our troubles. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord DELIVERS him out of them ALL!” (Psalm 34:19)

If He doesn’t deliver us any other way, He delivers us by DEATH! Because for the CHRISTIAN, the one who loves the Lord, death is no problem! It’s our HOMEGOING to HEAVEN, and you couldn’t go to a better place than Heaven! Then all your worries will be over and you will have graduated from this life! He will either take CARE of you or He will TAKE you, so you’ve got it made one way or the other!

So the most important thing is to make sure that you belong to HIM. Then you’ll KNOW that everything will be all right and that WHATEVER happens to you will be for your GOOD. He says that “ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) If you are His child, you’ll know that everything that happens in your life comes from Him and is somehow for your good!

Then even if there’s a terrible storm and great destruction all around you, you won’t need to fear! The Lord says, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, I am thy God! You shall be SAFE in the midst of storm, in the hollow of My hand, for underneath you are MY Everlasting Arms.” (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 33:27) He is ALWAYS there, He’ll NEVER EVER leave you, for He promises, “I am with you ALWAYS, even to the End of the World!” (Matthew 28:20)

If you would like to have such peace and assurance and heavenly protection, all you need to do is receive and love God’s Son, JESUS! Then, no matter WHAT difficulties or hardships arise in your life, HE will help you to BRAVE the storms and FACE the winds and NOT be swept away! No matter HOW dark the clouds become that may sometimes overshadow you, the Light of His Love will ALWAYS come bursting through to encourage you and to give you hope and strength to pull through!

He and His Love are just that WONDERFUL! He will brighten your life and give you peace that the Bible says even “passes your own understanding–PERFECT peace, because you TRUST in Him!” (Philippians 4:7; Isaiah 26:3) No matter HOW dark or stormy or difficult the outward conditions may be, in your HEART the sun can always be shining, the birds can always be singing, the flowers can always be blossoming, and all can be well and happy in Him!

So may God bless you with His PEACE and His LOVE through the one and only “PRINCE of peace”, JESUS CHRIST! He LOVES you and will come into your life right NOW if you’ll just ask Him into your heart! He says, “Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I WILL come into him.” (Revelation 3:20)

Simply pray: “Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died for me. Please forgive me for all my sins. I ask You, Jesus, to please come into my heart and give me Your free Gift of Eternal Life! Help me to love You and to love others by telling them about You and Your Love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

God BLESS you! We LOVE you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Open Up!

by Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-open-up

“When I was in my first year of college, I started going out with a real sweet boy. We went many places and had a lot of good times together. He was very sweet and loved the Lord, but he was the silent type–very into himself, shy and untalkative. I liked him very much and I THINK he liked me a lot too! I have to say I THINK he was quite fond of me; I wasn’t really SURE because we never really communicated very much. We hardly ever spoke together about anything other than the time of day or what we were doing or where we were going or about college. We never had any really deep conversations or talked about matters of the heart at all!

“I didn’t realise that this was a problem until finally I began developing rather serious feelings about him! He had gotten to the final year of his studies without getting married or too involved with anybody, and I THINK he was really shy and scared of getting too serious. So he started to cool things off, and this broke my little heart! I then started thinking and praying about what went wrong, and it finally dawned on me that I didn’t really know what HE thought about our relationship, and HE didn’t know what I thought! That’s when I realised that during the entire time we had been together, we hadn’t had any kind of deep heart-to-heart communication at all!

“After we had broken up, I was still wondering why, and I thought, ‘Why didn’t I ASK him? Why didn’t we just honestly TALK about the things we felt and thought?’ If we HAD, it would have been so simple and prevented the whole problem of me not understanding and not knowing his feelings and him not knowing mine! It was just RIDICULOUS to be that close to someone and still know hardly a thing about what they felt and what they thought!

“So, I learned a good lesson! I learned to ASK! And I learned the importance of honest, open, humble communication. I learned the importance of ASKING when I don’t understand things, and trying to get the OTHER person to be honest and express what he feels and thinks, and that I need to be honest about MY feelings too!” So writes the author of “The Importance of Good Communications!”

 
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE KEEP THEMSELVES TO THEMSELVES?

Why is it that my friend found it so difficult to communicate? Why do some people keep a curtain over their mind and heart, so that others cannot even catch a glimpse of their innermost thoughts and feelings? There are a number of different reasons:

Some people are brought up from childhood to believe that it’s a sign of WEAKNESS to show your emotions, or to talk too much about your feelings. They are suffering from the classic British condition of “the stiff upper lip”! Consequently, they have never developed the ability to talk meaningfully with another person. They have never learned how to share openly with someone else and they have difficulty finding the words to say.

Others are fearful of exposing what they feel or think. They do not want to run the risk of being rejected or hurt if someone else disagrees with them.

Others have the attitude that talking won’t do any good, so why bother? They may have tried at some point to get through to another person, and it didn’t work, so they stopped trying altogether.

Some people do not believe that they, as a person, have anything to offer. They do not think that their ideas are worthwhile. They have a low opinion of themselves, and as a result, they withhold their comments and personal feelings.

Hangups and fears such as these keep us at a shallow level of communication. But if we can be freed from these negative and restrictive attitudes, then we can move to deeper, more meaningful levels. There are many different levels of communication between people, ranging from shallow cliches and chit-chat to deep personal honesty and baring of the soul.

 
LEVELS OF COMMUNICATION:

TALKING IN CLICHES is the most common type of communication between people. This type of talk is very safe! We exchange niceties such as, “How are you?”, “How is your family?”, “Where have you been?”, “I like your dress!” etc. In this type of conversation there is no personal sharing. Each person can remain safely hidden behind his screen.

Then there’s the type of conversation in which we simply REPORT FACTS. In this kind of conversation we share gossip and the news of the day, but we don’t commit ourselves as to how we FEEL about them.

“Did you hear about Joy? She’s pregnant again.”

“Really? That reminds me. I think the cat is about to have her kittens.”

But REAL communication begins when we’re willing to step out of our solitary confinement and risk telling others of our IDEAS AND DECISIONS and how we FEEL about them! If a person is to really SHARE himself with another individual, then he must get to the level of SHARING HIS PERSONAL FEELINGS. Sharing heart-to-heart, and not just superficially, helps draw people closer together, and makes us more honest and humble. All deep relationships, especially marriages, must be based on this kind of openness and honesty in order to succeed and grow.

“I really have something on my mind that I need to talk to you about, John!”

“Sure! Let’s go for a little walk together! I always appreciate these times when we can share heart-to-heart.”

 
HOW TO HELP OTHERS OPEN UP MORE!

Most people who are very quiet and withdrawn don’t really want to be that way. They know they NEED to be freer and they don’t really WANT to stay behind their walls, but they need SOMEBODY to be LOVING and UNDERSTANDING enough to help pull it OUT of them. If you’re INTERESTED in people and you LOVE them, then YOU need to learn how to get them to come OUT of themselves and try to respond and to communicate. (Proverbs 20:5; Isaiah 50:4a)

One way to do this is to gently probe and ask specific QUESTIONS. “Well, what do you mean by that? Could you explain that to me?” And if they were to say, “Well, I’d like to but I don’t want to get involved”, you could ask something like, “Well, WHY don’t you want to get involved?” With most people, if you really probe and question and really press them, then usually they’ll eventually come out of themselves and be more specific because they WANT to. They just NEED HELP!

 
THE “SILENT SUFFERERS”:

There are also the “silent sufferers”! Those who hold their feelings and emotions in and suffer in silence because they don’t expect that others would want to listen to all their problems and woes! To suffer in silence is, in a way, admirable, that they are able to take it and suffer on their own. But wouldn’t it be better if they would just honestly ASK for HELP and PRAYER? When you’re suffering in silence, it just makes everybody miserable, because they can usually sense that you’re suffering and that something is wrong, and they become worried about you. They don’t know if you’re upset or angry at them or sick or what! Granted, in some cases it is better to BEAR troubles rather than BARE them! (Galatians 6:5). But in MOST cases, it’s much more healthy just to let it all spill out and let others help you! (Galatians 6:2; James 5:16) It prevents a lot of misunderstandings and gets you some PRAYER and SYMPATHY and all the things that you need and would probably like to have when you’re feeling down! (Proverbs 12:25; 27:9)

In fact, lots of times it really helps to talk about the things you’re going through, even if the person you’re talking to DOESN’T have any solution! Often a person will say, “Oh, it just really helped to talk about it, just to get it sorted out in my mind”. Of course, for a Christian, one of the MAIN benefits of sharing your heart with others is that you can ask them to PRAY with you. You can ask for prayer, and that does a LOT of good! “One can chase a thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight!” (Deuteronomy 32:30)

 
COMMUNICATION WITH GOD:

One thing that is sure to help our communication with others is if we have good communication with GOD. What kind of level do we communicate with JESUS on? Do we strip away all cover-ups and honestly lay our hearts bare before Him? Or are we like the native woman with the bundle of dirty washing? She had taken it to the riverside with the purpose of washing it, but was ashamed to open it for fear someone would see how dirty it was! So she just plunged the whole bundle into the water, joggled it up and down several times, and then took it home. Wet, but still dirty!

Are we ashamed to bare our hearts before the Lord and others, for fear that they will see what a mess we are? Jesus knows our hearts, He knows our faults and weaknesses and He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY the way we ARE, and not the way WE think we OUGHT to be. (Psalm 139:4) He’s just waiting for us to open our hearts to Him so that He can “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9)

As we surrender and open up our lives to JESUS and tell Him everything on our hearts, we will find it easier to open up to OTHERS! When we KNOW that Jesus accepts and loves us in spite of OUR failures and defects, then this helps us to accept and love and have compassion on OTHERS. This then leads to a desire and a willingness to lend them a sympathetic ear and to want to share our hearts with them and give them the same answers that WE have found in JESUS!

So if you have problems and you have something on your heart, get it out in the open! Talk about it with someone you love and trust! You’ll never have any chance of dealing with the matter unless you get it OUT! There would be far fewer misunderstandings in the World if people would just honestly and openly communicate with one another and be more open about themselves! It may be a little difficult at first, but if you work at it, it becomes much easier! The Lord always seems to bless HONESTY and GOOD COMMUNICATION! And maybe He wants to bless YOU for it too! Why don’t you TRY it and see?

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

Be Enthusiastic!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-anchorIf there’s anything that catches people’s attention and causes them to take notice of what you’re saying or doing, it’s enthusiasm! The word enthusiasm is derived from two Greek words: en, which means in, and theos, which means God. So enthusiasm literally means “in God,” or “God in us.” Thus the truly enthusiastic person is one who acts and speaks as if he were possessed by God.

God’s Word tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord!” (Romans 12:11 NIV)

The same driving passion, the same irresistible compassion that motivated the apostles and martyrs and every great man or woman of God throughout the ages should motivate every child of God in everything they do, everything they say, everywhere they go, with everybody. The apostle Paul summed it up in these few famous and ringing words which have cried out from the heart of every true Christian in every true good deed he has ever done, and for which indeed he is willing to die: “The love of Christ compels us!” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Regardless of what you may lack in the way of natural talents, abilities, or even material goods, if you obey God’s Word and let Him live in you and through you so that your heart burns with His love, then He will be able to greatly use you and make you a blessing to many.

As a young man, David Livingstone faced an important decision. “I have found that I have no unusual endowments of intellect,” he wrote in his diary, “but this day I resolve that I will be an uncommon Christian.” He “purposed in his heart” to give his all to the Lord, and determined to become an enthusiast for the truth—and he was! He became one of the greatest missionaries the world has ever known.

The British historian Arnold Toynbee said, “Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.”

What greater ideal could anyone have than to bring everlasting salvation and eternal heavenly life to a lost and dying world that is perishing without it? And what better “intelligible plan” could anyone have than that given by Jesus to His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”? (Mark 16:15) As Christians, we should be the most enthusiastic people in the entire world!

The apostle Paul was another of God’s great enthusiasts. Even before his conversion, he showed a great deal of enthusiasm—though with the wrong ideal and the wrong plan.

But as soon as Paul’s eyes were opened, he became an enthusiast for the right side. When others saw his total dedication and enthusiasm for the Lord, they got on fire for God too. The work he started spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

Nothing could quench Paul’s enthusiasm. At one point he testified, “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day [adrift] in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from the Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers! I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11:24–27 NIV) Did Paul let these difficulties and obstacles stop him? No! He went right on serving God no matter what hardships or difficulties befell him.

Nothing can stop the man who is on fire for God. He will keep going no matter what, because he knows he is doing the right thing for the right cause and for the One who is always right!

So where do we get such enthusiasm, this inspiration that fills a life with fire and fervor for the Lord? From the Holy Spirit of God! The Bible says, “Our God is a consuming fire,” (Hebrews 12:29) and repeatedly compares His Spirit to a fire or flames of fire. (See Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3–4; Revelation 4:5) So if you want to be enthusiastic for the Lord, full of His fiery anointing and inspiration, just pray and ask Him to fill you with the power of His Holy Spirit, and He will.

Someone once asked a great man of God what was the secret of his success, and he replied, “I just get on fire for God, and the world comes out to see me burn!”

As Christians, our hearts should be so full of the love of Jesus that we want to overflow and share it with others. You’ve got to be alive and enthusiastic to be able to show others that what you’ve got with Jesus is better than what they’ve got without Him.

Why did people listen to Jesus? Jesus spoke from His heart, from the Spirit, and it brought life; it moved people. It didn’t just tickle their ears, but it reached and touched their hearts. He said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) The words the scribes and the Pharisees (the religious leaders of Jesus’ day) spoke were well-educated, but they were dry and dead and only brought death. Why? Because they only spoke from their heads.

That’s the difference! You cannot kindle a fire in any other heart until it is burning within your own.

Of course, we should not only be enthusiastic in presenting the gospel to others, but in everything we do. Whatever task is set before us, the Bible tells us we’re to “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23) In everything you do, even the most menial tasks, you can be happy, inspired, and full of enthusiasm. If you’re asking the Lord to inspire you, He will give you that divine spark of His Spirit that will make every little task a joy!

Let’s get on fire for God by earnestly praying and faithfully reading His Word. Let’s ask for His Spirit to inspire us with the vision of the great things He wants to do through us. And then let’s do our part by putting our whole heart into whatever He asks us to do for Him and others.

Come, let’s set the world afire for God and enlighten the hearts of all men everywhere! “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Jesus Loves Me!

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorGive thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
—Psalm 136:26 ESV

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Occasionally, all too occasionally, I sense the truth of grace. There are times when I study the parables and grasp that they are about me. I am the sheep the shepherd has left the flock to find, the prodigal for whom the father scans the horizon, the servant whose debt has been forgiven. I am the beloved one of God.

Not long ago I received in the mail a postcard from a friend that had on it only six words, “I am the one Jesus loves.” I smiled when I saw the return address, for my strange friend excels at these pious slogans. When I called him, though, he told me the slogan came from the author and speaker Brennan Manning. At a seminar, Manning referred to Jesus’ closest friend on earth, the disciple named John, identified in the Gospels as “the one Jesus loved.” Manning said, “If John were to be asked, ‘What is your primary identity in life?’ he would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, an apostle, an evangelist, an author of one of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.’”

What would it mean, I ask myself, if I too came to the place where I saw my primary identity in life as “the one Jesus loves”? How differently would I view myself at the end of a day?

Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?

Brennan Manning tells the story of an Irish priest who, on a walking tour of a rural parish, sees an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying. Impressed, the priest says to the man, “You must be very close to God.” The peasant looks up from his prayers, thinks a moment, and then smiles. “Yes, he’s very fond of me.”

—Philip Yancey

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As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you. …

I know you through and through. I know everything about you. Each hair of your head is counted. There is nothing unimportant to Me about your life. All these years I have followed you, and even in your strayings I have always loved you.

I know each of your problems, I know all of your needs and all of your wants, and yes, I also know all of your sins. Still, I will repeat again that I love you, not because of what you have or haven’t done, but because of you yourself, for the sake of the beauty and the value that My Father has given you, creating you in His own likeness. That value that you so often forget about, that beauty that you have covered with sin. I love you as you are, and I have poured out My blood to win you again. …

I care for you, more than you can even imagine—even to the death of the cross for your sake.

I thirst for you. Yes, this is the only way that I can express to you My love. I thirst for you, thirst to love you and thirst after your love. You are very precious to Me. I thirst for you. Come to Me, and I will fill up your heart and heal your wounds. I will remake you into a new creation, and even in all your trials will I give you peace. I thirst for you.

Never doubt My mercy, My desire and will to forgive, My yearning to bless you and live in you. I thirst for you. If in the world’s eyes you are of little importance, that means nothing. In this world, I have no one more important than you. I thirst for you. Open up to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me. Give Me your life and I will show you how much you mean to My heart.

It doesn’t matter how far you have strayed, it doesn’t matter how often you have forgotten Me, it doesn’t matter how many crosses you are able to carry, there is just one thing that you have to remember that is true, that will never change: I thirst for you, just as you are.

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy, as penned by Mother Teresa

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The Bible tells us, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) He is not a cruel tyrant, not a monster who is trying to frighten everyone into hell, but a God who is trying to love everyone into heaven! He’s so close, so intimate, so personal, so loving, so kind, so tender, so gentle, so concerned. He is the great Spirit of Love who created you and me and this beautiful world and the entire universe! To show us His love and to help us understand Himself, He sent His own Son to earth in the form of a man—Jesus Christ.

God loves you so much that He gave His most priceless possession, the most cherished thing He had for you, Jesus, “that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) He shared His love with the whole world.

God is pictured in His Son, Jesus, a man who loved everybody, even the poorest and the worst of all. He came for love and lived in love and died for love that we might live and love forever. His death brings life, forgiveness, and eternal joy to those who love Him in return.

He loves you dearly, more dearly than the spoken word can tell! You can never understand the love of God. It’s too great, it passes all understanding. You just have to receive it and feel it with your heart. (Ephesians 3:19)

—David Brandt Berg

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For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—Romans 8:38–39 ESV

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.