Category Archives: Life

Anchor

In Partnership with God—Part 2

From the Roadmap series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

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

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

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

“No!” the class shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

—Author unknown

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

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

The gravel could be things such as:

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

The sand or water could represent activities like:

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Virginia Brandt Berg

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

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Our Identity in Christ

A compilation

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

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

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

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

—Keith Phillips

 

Who does God say I am?

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

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

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

 
You are valuable

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

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

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

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

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

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

—John Rinehart

 

Righteous, holy, and loved

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

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

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

—Sarah Walton

 

Reconciled to God

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

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

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

—From gotquestions.org

 

In Christ, God has given us a new identity

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

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

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

 
—Lysa TerKeurst

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

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

—Joyce Meyer

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

In Partnership with God—Part 1

From the Roadmap series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 
 
Continue reading here. In Partnership with God—Part 2

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Activated

A Tale of Two Brothers

Author unknown

free-bible-studies-online-avtivated-a-tale-of-two-brothers

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.”

 

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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)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Anchor

“Pray Without Ceasing”

A compilation

What does it mean to pray without ceasing?

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

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

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

—From gotquestions.org

 
Lessons on candles and prayers

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

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

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

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

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

—Joyce Suttin

 
Be in constant communion with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Rick Warren

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

The Sultan and Satan–A Lesson for all!

free-bible-studies-online-the-sultan-and-satan-a-lesson-for-all

An ancient legend from the East tells how a great Sultan–who was known for being a devout man of God–overslept and didn’t awaken at the hour of prayer. When the Devil saw that the hour was passing, he came and waked him, urging him to get out of bed and pray.

“Who are you?” said the startled Sultan, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“Oh, it’s not important.” replied the shady figure. “The important thing is that I woke you up in time! Otherwise you would have missed your prayers for the first time in ten years!–And it IS very good to pray, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that is true!” replied the Sultan smugly. “I wouldn’t dream of missing my prayer time.–Not even ONCE!

“But wait a minute! I think I recognise you. Yes, I know your face. Of course, you are Satan, and no doubt you have some evil motive for your appearance.”

“I’m not really as bad as you think!” exclaimed the intruder. “After all, I was an angel once.”

“That is all very well,” replied the wise old Sultan, “but you are the Deceiver, THAT is your business! So I demand in the name of God to know WHY you, of all people, want me to get up and pray!”

“Well,” huffed the Devil, having grown impatient with the Sultan’s persistence, “if you must know, I’ll tell you. If you had slept and forgotten your prayers, you would have felt very SORRY for it afterward, and would have been quite PENITENT. But if you continue on as you have, without missing a single prayer for ten years, then you will become so SATISFIED with yourSELF that it will be worse for you than if you had missed one and had repented of it, asking God for forgiveness! God loves your FAULT mixed with PENITENCE much more than your VIRTUE seasoned with PRIDE!”

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What an important lesson this old story imparts. Often it is actually GOOD for us to make mistakes! If we didn’t make some mistakes, we’d most likely become so proud of ourselves and self-confident, that we’d no longer feel we needed God nor the help of others. But in reality, when we feel so PROUD and SELF-satisfied, it is because we are NOT closer to GOD, but closer to OURSELVES!

Of course, in this modern World of today many people are taught to believe that pride is quite a virtue.–But in GOD’S eyes, pride and self-righteousness are recognised for what they really are–SINS of the heart! In fact, the Bible says that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall!…and God RESISTS the PROUD, but He gives GRACE unto the HUMBLE” (Proverbs 16:5,18; James 4:6)

Quite frequently, the way God helps us keep our pride in check is through our MISTAKES, which serve to keep us humble and broken, more needy of the Lord’s help and more dependent on HIS strength and not our own. It may surprise you to know that the Lord even WANTS us to fail in some things so that we don’t get to thinking too highly of ourselves, thinking that we are so perfect!

Out of what seems like defeat come some of God’s greatest victories!–“Victories? But what kind of victory is that?” you may ask. Well, God very often uses humiliating experiences to make of you a better person, more compassionate and understanding of the errors of others, more loving and patient, when otherwise you might not have been so.

Isn’t it encouraging to realise that your failures can be looked on as something positive, to see them from a positive viewpoint?–Not as though the Lord were merely trying to crush you to the ground, but that He’s using your mistakes to teach you many important lessons that perhaps you would not learn otherwise WITHOUT such humbling!

Of course, in order to do this, we must be honest with ourselves and willing to confess our mistakes and attempt to rectify them. But as they say, the hardest words in any language are, “I was wrong!” And the hardest one to CONFESS our faults to is usually OURSELVES. This takes humility of the kind that only God can give, because it is the inborn sinful nature of man to want to appear perfect and faultless, and consequently he becomes unable to confess his mistakes.

But if we want the truth, and we desire God’s blessing, then we’ll honestly and humbly admit and confess our faults and failings, taking comfort in knowing that we are wiser today than we were yesterday. Contrary to what some folks think, an admission of error is a sign of strength rather than a confession of weakness!

Besides, God knows you’re anything but perfect. In fact, He knows you CAN’T be perfect and will NEVER be perfect. So the crux of the matter is NOT whether you are perfect or not, but if you depend on the LORD totally, trusting in HIM and HIS grace and His Love and mercy. Do you give HIM all the glory and credit for anything GOOD that you do? Whenever you accomplish something good, do you say, “Just thank JESUS, don’t thank me!–If I have done anything good, it’s only because of the Lord’s help!”

A good rule to follow is to give GOD all the glory for anything GOOD you do, and yourself the blame for anything BAD. And it will help keep you from falling into that horrible trap of self-righteous PRIDE, which is the BASIS of virtually ALL SIN!

So whenever you make a mistake and are tempted to get down and discouraged, just remember what was said to that Sultan: “God loves your FAULT mixed with PENITENCE, more than your VIRTUE seasoned with PRIDE!”

PRAYER: Lord, help us to realise that even our mistakes are good for us. Help us to be honest with ourselves and others about our faults and shortcomings. We confess that without You we are nothing (John 15:5). Help us not to fight Your breakings and remakings, which actually help us to become more yielded, more humble and most of all, more useful for Your service. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

What Is Trust?

A compilation

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
What does the Bible say about trust?

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

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

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

—From gotquestions.org

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

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

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

—Seth Godin

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

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

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

—Peter Amsterdam

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

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

—Philip Martin

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.