If you are an executive or a supervisor, you are probably familiar with bottlenecks. Well, the first place to look for bottlenecks is on your own desk, in your own “pending” file, keeping in mind that bottlenecks are usually found at the tops of bottles! Delegating is getting that paper off your desk and on to someone else’s.
The ability to skillfully delegate tasks is one of the keys to success. There simply isn’t enough time in one lifetime to do everything personally. However, there is enough time available to get most things done if you utilize the help of others. Even the ancients in the Old Testament recognized the need to delegate! (See Exodus 18:13-26.) Knowing what to personally do and what to assign to others is important for everyone.
The best way to get the job done isn’t necessarily to do it yourself. Firstly, you may have limitations. Next, doing it yourself can dilute your effectiveness. Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing. This leaves you unable to concentrate on those few projects that only you can do and that have the biggest payoff per investment of your time and energy.
Teaching others to carry more responsibility is initially time-consuming, but in the final analysis it’s a time and energy saver. Being too busy to delegate is like being too busy to plan.
And if you consider your helper too incompetent to delegate to, remember that most of us tend to underrate what our colleagues or subordinates can do. The only way to find out is to give them the ball and let them run with it. It’s also the only way they will get the necessary experience to become competent.
Keys to Delegating.
Assign tasks by requesting rather than ordering. How you go about assigning tasks is often as important as what you assign.
Make sure the person assigned the task has the right perspective and capabilities for the job.
Clearly and accurately define the nature of the job.
Don’t waste their time by failing to promptly attend to any matters that require your approval before work on the project can continue.
Give credit to those who do the job.
Make the task worthy of their time and effort.
Help them persevere until the task is done, rather than throw it back in your lap prematurely.
Delegate the right to accomplish tasks differently. The key to delegation is trust.
Follow up. As long as you are ultimately responsible for a task, it is your job to ensure that it is carried out properly.
MANY CHRISTIANS today find that something is still missing in their lives. Even though they have come to know Jesus, “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and they have received Him and His wonderful love into their hearts, their relationship with Him is somehow incomplete. They are lacking the full measure of life, love and joy that He has promised to all who love and follow Him!
Such Christians often become weak, unmotivated and powerless. Therefore they settle for a cold, lifeless, traditional Christianity which has very little to do with the thrilling and challenging life that Jesus offered His disciples, that we read about in the Gospels of the New Testament!
It is sad that many Christians are ignorant of the fact that God could fill their lives with His love and joy and power in such a way that would thrill, fulfill and completely satisfy their spirits. Jesus promised this power to His disciples when He told them that after His resurrection they would “be filled with power from on High,” that He would send a special “Comforter” to comfort, lead and guide them, as well as give them the power and strength to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Luke 24:49; John 14:26; Mark 16:15). This wonderful power that God has provided for His children is the Holy Spirit.
Of course, everyone who has ever received God’s gift of eternal life, by praying to ask Jesus into their heart, has also received a measure of the Holy Spirit. The Bible calls this “being born again of the Spirit” (John 3:8). But receiving the complete infilling, or what the Bible calls “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, is usually a separate experience that happens after you have received Jesus.
A glass of water makes a good illustration. A glass may not be full, but if it even has some water in it, it’s still a glass of water. That’s how a lot of Christians are. They have just a little bit of water, a little bit of God’s Spirit, just enough to get them into Heaven.
But being baptized with the Holy Spirit is as if the water was poured in till the glass was filled up and running over. Jesus said, “He that believes on Me, out of his innermost parts shall flow rivers of living water.” John explains, “This spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive” (John 7:38,39).
This baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of love–love for God and love for others; love enough to reach out to others, to tell them about God; so great a love that you can love and help anyone!
In fact, the Holy Spirit of God is love because “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the love of God. At the same time it is also a baptism of the power of God, the power that enables you to tell other people about Jesus and to share His love with others.
Just before leaving this world and ascending into Heaven, Jesus told His disciples, “You shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me in all the world” (Acts 1:8). Receiving the power of His Holy Spirit will make you want to obey His command to witness and tell others about Jesus, and show them that He loves them!
Being filled with the Holy Spirit not only gives us more of His love and power than we had before, but also gives us what the Bible calls “gifts of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12). These gifts include wisdom and knowledge, gifts of healing, working of miracles, the ability to prophesy, speak in new tongues, etc. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-10.) Not everyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit will immediately receive these, but most people will eventually receive one or more of them. These marvelous gifts which we read so much about in the New Testament are still as real and available today as they were in the days of the Apostles, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Have you received this overflowing power of God’s love in your own life since you received Jesus? Do you have any of the beautiful “gifts of the Spirit,” the tools for your work for Him? You certainly need to be filled with His Holy Spirit if you want to be a lively, active Christian who obeys the Lord, is a sample of His love and shares it with others, thereby laying up for yourself an eternal crown and reward because of your faithfulness to Him. You can have the Holy Spirit right now! All you have to do is ask.
Jesus promised, “If you know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13). When you ask God for the Holy Spirit, you’ll know that you’ve received it because of His promise.–Just like when you received Jesus into your heart, you knew He came in because the Bible said He would. (See Revelation 3:20.)
Receive God’s Spirit of love and power now by simply praying this little prayer:
“Dear Jesus, I love You, and know that I need more of Your love and power in my life. So I ask You to please fill me with Your Holy Spirit right now, to give me the strength to do Your will and tell others about You, and be a sample of Your love. Amen.”
BIBLE BASICS: THE PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
(All verses quoted below are from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.)
The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness:
Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.”
The Holy Spirit brings forth virtues in our lives:
Galatians 5:22,23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control [temperance].”
The Holy Spirit teaches us the truth:
John 16:13: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”
The Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s Word:
John 14:26: “The Holy Spirit … will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts:
1 Corinthians 12:9: “To another [is given] faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy … to another different kinds of tongues.”
The Holy Spirit intercedes for us before God:
Romans 8:26: “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
The Holy Spirit comforts us:
John 15:26: “But when the [Comforter] comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father … He will testify of Me.”
IN THE TOWN of Capernaum in Israel, there lived an officer of the Roman army, a centurion by the name of Marcus (or so we shall call him here), responsible for a garrison of one hundred soldiers. Marcus and his men had kept watch on Jesus’ activities in the town ever since He began His work there. As part of their duty to maintain law and order, they were to make sure that this man from Galilee wasn’t doing or saying anything that could incite rebellion against Rome’s rule.
After hearing Jesus teach the people on several occasions about God’s heavenly kingdom of love, Marcus had come to respect Him. He realized that the kingdom Jesus talked about was a spiritual one, and was therefore hardly a political or military threat to Rome. In fact, Marcus knew that despite its power and greatness, Rome was sorely in need of this love that Jesus spoke of!
One day, when his most trusted servant became gravely ill, Marcus thought of all Jesus had done for the sick, the lame and the blind, and of the local townsfolk who had been miraculously healed by Him. “Could it be that He might heal my servant too?” Marcus wondered.
Marcus was generally respectful of the Jews’ way of life, and had even financed the building of a synagogue in Capernaum, to the delight of the local Jewish elders. But the decision to approach Jesus for help was still difficult: How could he, being a gentile and a Roman, ask a Jew for help, when most Jews shunned not only foreigners, but especially the armies of Caesar? Could it be that this Jesus, known for His love and care for others, would be willing to reach beyond His own race to help an officer of the army that had conquered and occupied his country?
Hoping for the best, Marcus set out to find Jesus. The crowd listening to Jesus parted as Marcus approached, and whispering could be heard as they speculated about what was to happen next. It came as a surprise when the people heard Marcus ask Jesus to come and heal his servant. After all, it must have been humiliating for a powerful Roman to ask a Jew for help in front of so many people. But Jesus, full of compassion, readily agreed to help the centurion, and asked Marcus to lead him to the house where his servant lay ill.
To everyone’s amazement, Marcus replied, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself to come to my house. I am not worthy that You should even come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man in authority, with soldiers under my command, and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes, and to another, `Come,’ and he comes. And if I tell my servant, `Do this,’ then he does it. Even so, I know that if You simply command that a thing be done, it will be done as You have spoken.”
The Bible tells us that when Jesus heard Marcus’ words, He marveled, and declared to those standing by, “I have not found such great faith, no, not in all Israel!” It was a shocking statement for Jesus to make in front of His own Jewish countrymen–that this Roman gentile had stronger faith than anyone he had met in all Israel, including the most pious people of His day, who strictly adhered to their traditions and rituals!
Jesus turned to the centurion and said, “Go back to your house. As you have believed, so be it done for you.” Marcus, still full of faith in Jesus’ words, returned home, and the Bible tells us his servant was healed “that same hour.” And the centurion was catapulted into God’s Hall of Fame for all time, because he humbly trusted in the Lord’s willingness and ability to answer his prayer!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
1. This story provides a wonderful illustration of how we get answers to prayer: They’re a result of our faith in God’s ability to perform the miracle. The centurion’s faith was in the words of Jesus. He didn’t have to see Jesus work the miracle in order to believe, nor have Jesus enter his house to see his sick servant. Jesus said, “As you have believed, so be it done for you.” This is something Jesus often repeated in the Gospels, emphasizing that His answers to people’s requests–or prayers–was directly related to how much faith they had that He would answer. (See Matthew 9:29; Mark 10:52; Luke 17:19.)
2. It didn’t require years of religious training for that officer to obtain the answer to his prayer. He just believed with childlike faith, and God blessed him!
3. The centurion’s declaration of faith was expressed in specific, concrete terms. He didn’t just think, “Well, maybe Jesus can do something.” He said with full confidence, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” And he not only professed his faith to Jesus, but to the surrounding crowd as well, thus being a witness and testimony to others of his belief and trust in the Lord, which no doubt inspired them to have faith in Jesus too!
4. The centurion’s great faith in God’s ability to help him did not come from a sense of his own greatness or worthiness. In fact, he felt unrighteous and undeserving that Jesus should even come to his house. Neither did the fact that the centurion was of another race, religion and cultural background make any difference to Jesus, who the Bible says is “the savior of all men, specially them that believe” (1Timothy 4:10). Often we feel small and unworthy of God’s assistance, but His love and power through prayer are available to us all! Jesus promises, “Whoever comes to Me, I will not reject” (John 6:37). His love is just that wonderful!
5. It’s a shame that many Christians today put these stories of Jesus in the past, thinking, “It’s all far away. God is far away, Heaven is far away. Jesus has long been dead, such things can’t happen today!”
God can still do miracles today–and He does for those with faith enough to simply believe that God means what He says! He’s just as real as ever! He says, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
6. Remember, you’ve got all the promises of God in the whole Bible at your disposal. So when you pray, bring those promises with you, and remind God of what He has written. When you remind God of His Word, it shows you have faith in it, that you believe in it. It’s a positive declaration of your faith in God’s Word that pleases God and brings the answer to your prayer. (See Hebrews 11:6.)
7. If you need assurance and faith to believe God will answer your prayers, here are some wonderful verses to read and claim before God when you request His help: “If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). “And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we shall have the petitions we have desired of Him” (1 John 5:14,15).
Question: Is there a general solution to the complex problems of our modern society?
Answer:Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39), but when people don’t treat others with much love, they’re going to have problems.–And they have. Believe it or not, it is possible to say that all of the evils in the world today have their root cause in people’s lack of love for God and each other. Nevertheless, the simple love of God and each other is still God’s solution, even in such a complex, confused and highly complicated society as that of the world today. If we love God, we can love each other and respect each other as creations of God. We can then follow His rules of life, liberty and the possession of happiness, and all will be well and happy in Him.
So ask God to help you love your neighbors with His love. And remember, “neighbor” doesn’t only mean the one that lives next door.–It is anyone we meet who needs our help, regardless of their race, creed, color or nationality.
A little love, understanding, tolerance and sharing could go such a long way in solving the world’s problems. In fact, this should be the goal of every Christian, to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.–Do you? Love will solve all your problems too!
–David Brandt Berg
The best plans remain only daydreams until you bring them to life through action.
A mistake at least proves somebody stopped talking long enough to do something.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
If you do what you can, God will do what you can’t!
Don’t profess to believe in something if you’re not doing it.
The kindness planned for tomorrow doesn’t count for today.
If you see it needs to be done, do it!
Do more than exist–live! Do more than look–observe! Do more than read– absorb! Do more than hear–listen! Do more than listen–understand! Do more than think–reflect! Do more than plan–act! Do more than talk–say something!
GETTING THINGS DONE
Managing Your Time
Effectiveness: Effectiveness means selecting the best and most important task to do from all possibilities available and then doing it the best way. Making the right choices about how you’ll use your time is more important than efficiently doing whatever job happens to be around.
Self-discipline: Working wisely requires an investment of thought, self-discipline and change. You must be willing to carefully examine your feelings, attitudes and habits about work, and then you must be willing to change your thinking and behavior to that which is most beneficial.
Management by Objectives: This means thinking in terms of specific goals rather than in terms of procedures and regulations. It encourages the asking of such questions as: “Exactly what are we trying to accomplish?” “Why should we be doing this?” “Is there a better way?”
Few things are more important in achieving success than learning how to set goals and how to plan to reach those goals. One of the first things you should do is stop, think and spell out your goals. Writing down your goals–long-range, middle-range and short-range–requires you to be specific and will help you determine how to achieve your objectives.
Keep your goals practical and attainable. Be realistic about them. And remember that while some goals may be realistic when you set them, life and circumstances change. You haven’t “failed” if you shift a goal or change a plan when necessary, so don’t hesitate to modify your objectives or approach to accommodate new circumstances or needs.
One suggestion on how you can help yourself determine your priorities and stick to them is to write, in brief form on an index card, your top five goals and the necessary steps to achieve them. Tape this card to your mirror (or by your work area) where you can see it every day. Write out a second copy and put it in your pocket or purse. This way you will be thinking daily, both consciously and unconsciously, of these five goals, and will be more likely to make the best use of your time to reach them.
Of course, in planning and striving for our daily goals, we should bear in mind that our primary objective and priority should be to love God and give His love to others, by loving, caring, and sharing words and deeds of kindness with those in need.
ONE OF THE MOST illustrious personalities of the entire Bible is Simon Bar-Jona, commonly known today as Saint Peter the Apostle. One of Jesus’ first disciples, Peter was a very colorful character–a rough and rugged fisherman–bursting with energy and action.
During his years under Christ’s personal leadership and teaching, Peter often bulldozed his way around like the proverbial bull in a china shop, and did whatever he thought was right or should be done, with little thought of the consequences. By far the most outspoken of the twelve Apostles, Peter did not hesitate to speak his mind, although quite often contradicting himself in the process. But men of force are men of faults, and despite his strong personality, Peter’s strength, self-confidence and opinions of how things should be done often hindered him and resulted in him making serious blunders.
However, shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter underwent a dramatic change. This transformation is what our story is all about. We begin at the closing hours of Jesus’ ministry on earth, at the last supper that He ate with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion.
Knowing that He would soon suffer torture and death for the sins of the world, Jesus looked upon His disciples and said sadly, “You will all be offended and leave Me this night. For as it was foretold, ‘I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’” (See Zechariah 13:7.)
Upon hearing this, Peter impulsively proclaimed, “Though all men desert You, yet I will not!”
Knowing what was to come, Jesus answered Peter quietly, “Before the cock crows, you will have denied Me three times.”
Peter was shocked at such a prediction and even more adamantly insisted, “Though I should die with You, yet will I not deny You!” The other disciples quickly joined in, affirming with Peter that they, too, would stand by Jesus come what may.
But to Peter’s chagrin, Jesus’ prediction was soon fulfilled. That very night, as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying with His disciples, a band of temple guards, sent by the chief priests and religious leaders, came with a large crowd carrying swords, clubs and torches. They seized Jesus who, knowing His time had come, peacefully went with them, alone. Jesus’ disciples panicked at His arrest, quickly forgot their vows of loyalty to death, and fled for their lives into the night.
As Jesus was taken away to be tried by a religious court hastily assembled at the high priest’s house, Peter, trying to muster his courage, followed from a distance, careful not to be seen by the temple guards who had seized Jesus. Arriving at the courtyard outside the house, Peter stood by the door, hoping to catch a glimpse of the proceedings from a distance. A woman near the entrance noticed the nervous and distraught figure, and looking suspiciously at him, asked, “Aren’t you one of that man’s disciples?” “No! I’m not!” Peter brusquely replied, as he moved away towards a fire built in the courtyard by some of the night guards.
Moments later, as Peter stood warming himself by the fire, a man who had been present when Jesus was captured pointed out Peter and loudly questioned him, “Didn’t I see you in the Garden of Gethsemane with Him?” “I swear I don’t know the man!” Peter emphatically answered.
There was a tense silence. Peter, while trying to act normal, was feeling increasingly uncomfortable. But soon others standing around joined in the accusation: “You are one of them! We can tell by your accent that you’re from Galilee, just like Jesus; you must be one of His disciples!”
Fearing his life might be in danger and desperate to get out of a threatening situation, Peter began to curse and to swear, vehemently insisting, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t even know this Jesus character!”
Peter had barely finished his third denial when a rooster began to crow loudly. At that moment, Jesus, who was being led by His captors through the courtyard to another building, turned and looked directly at Peter. Immediately Peter recalled Jesus’ words, “Before the cock crows, you will have denied Me three times.”
Overcome with remorse for what he’d done, Peter could barely control his grief. As tears began to well up in his eyes, he stumbled out of the courtyard, then ran blindly into the night. Finally, in a deserted alley of the city, he sank to the ground and wept bitterly.
It seemed like the end. The next morning Jesus was led off to be crucified. His disciples were huddled in a small hidden room, fearing for their lives.
But three days after His crucifixion, Jesus victoriously arose from the dead and reappeared to His disciples. Lovingly, he forgave Peter and the others for their fears and denials, and His words filled them with renewed strength and faith. The greatest transformation of their lives was about to begin.
For forty days following His resurrection, Jesus continued to appear to His disciples, encouraging them and explaining details of the mission before them. On the fortieth day, just before ascending into Heaven, He instructed them to return to Jerusalem: “Wait for the promise of the Father, until you are strengthened with power from on High. For you shall receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon you, and you shall be My witnesses” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).
The Apostles returned to Jerusalem, and with over 120 other disciples and their wives and children, remained together to pray and wait, in obedience to Jesus’ final command before His ascension. Their prayers were answered ten days later, with a sudden and awesome manifestation of God’s power. The Bible describes it in these words: “A sound like the rushing of a mighty wind filled the whole house where they were, and they saw the appearance of many tongues of fire that rested upon every one of them. And they all were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).
This was it!–This was what they’d been waiting for–supernatural strength from the Lord to empower them to continue His work, now that He had departed! Suddenly, the fear, worry, and inability to act on their convictions was gone. And Peter, his entire heart and life instantly transformed by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, led the disciples in one of the most spectacular witnessing experiences of all time!
The Jewish Feast of the Harvest, a major religious festival, was being celebrated in the streets of Jerusalem, and Jewish pilgrims from many nations had come for the annual event. Peter stepped into the street with the other disciples–having just been filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit–and they all supernaturally began to fluently speak in the foreign languages of the multitudes visiting Jerusalem that day, each in a language they had never spoken before! As news of the miracle spread through the city, multitudes quickly gathered. Boldly, the disciples proclaimed to the crowds the wonderful news of God’s love and salvation through Jesus.
Suddenly, Peter climbed up the steps of a nearby building, and raising his hands, he shouted to the now enormous crowd, bringing a hush over them all. He began to speak to them with such authority and conviction that an astounding 3,000 people were not only converted, but committed themselves that very day to become disciples of Christ!
Peter had changed. Here was a man who had acted so cowardly after the arrest of Jesus that he denied Him three times. Now he stood before thousands, in the very city where Jesus had been arrested, tried and executed a few weeks earlier, boldly proclaiming God’s message to all! What caused this sudden transformation? The supernatural power and might of the Holy Spirit! As the Lord had promised, the disciples had received power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them.
Peter had gone through the most severe testing of his life only a few short weeks before, and had made what he probably considered his worst offense. But now there was no time for remorse. A tremendous wave of evangelization–spreading the message of God’s love–was underway, and the Lord was working through Peter to accomplish things he had never dreamed would be possible. In the past he’d been so impulsive, always seeming to say the wrong thing at the wrong time; but now he had become a leader, “strengthening his brethren,” just as the Lord had prayed he would (Luke 22:32).
Not only was Peter encouraged, but all the disciples were overjoyed to see the miracle God’s Spirit had performed in their lives! Even though they had all forsaken the Lord in His most desperate hour, they knew that Jesus still loved them and had forgiven them. And the strength and boldness they now possessed even surpassed that which they felt when Jesus walked among them.
It was as if Jesus was no longer gone, but was closer than ever. They remembered the words He had spoken to them at their final meal before His arrest, “It is necessary that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, will not come unto you. Right now the Spirit lives with you, but then shall be in you. And he that believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also. And greater works than these shall you do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12,16,17; John 16:7).
Shortly after that miraculous day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John prayed for and healed a man who was lame from his birth, before an astonished crowd. And when Peter spoke to the thousands that had gathered upon hearing of the miracle, 5,000 more were converted and joined ranks with the disciples, increasing their number to over 8,000 men, not counting women and children! Truly these were the beginning of the “greater works” Jesus had said His followers would perform. Why? Because Jesus was no longer merely with them; He was in them by way of the Holy Ghost!
In the days that followed, Peter and John faced a wave of persecution from the same jealous religious leaders who had crucified their Savior. But this time there was no fear, no cowardice, no denial. After being arrested with John, Peter stood before their council and testified with such unflinching courage and authority that the Bible observes, “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated and ignorant men, they marveled at them and knew that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Why did they marvel? Because they saw the same power manifested in them that they had seen in Jesus when He walked the earth.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Even though Peter was already a believer in Jesus, before he was filled with the Holy Spirit he lacked the power to stand up for Jesus, which led to his greatest offense–denying Jesus! But the contrast in Peter’s life before and after receiving the Holy Spirit clearly demonstrates that whatever Peter did accomplish was not the result of his own abilities or forcefulness, but because of Jesus, who first lived with him, and then in him by filling Peter with His Holy Spirit. The Bible explains, “For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us” (2Corinthians 4:7).
The wonderful message in this story is that you, too, can have this power by being filled with the Holy Spirit of God! Although it’s not essential to receive the Holy Spirit to be “saved” and go to Heaven, we all certainly need the infilling of God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit in order to have the strength to accomplish God’s will in our lives.
The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to give you the power to be a “witness,” meaning one who shares God’s message and love with others. The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit also helps you greatly in your personal relationship with the Lord. It gives you a stronger contact with Him, and better communication through prayer, as well as a much greater understanding when you read God’s Word. The Bible promises that the Holy Spirit will “guide us into all truth” as we study God’s Word (John 16:13).
Have you received the overflowing power of God’s Holy Spirit in your heart? All you have to do is ask! You can’t earn it or be good enough to deserve it, any more than Peter could. It’s a gift, you just have to pray and receive it! “Ask and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7). Receive His power today!
THE BIBLE and the words of God’s prophets are actually the only real newspapers or news books in the world! All other newspapers tell you what already happened yesterday, so they are not really newspapers, they are history papers! But the Bible tells us what is going to happen tomorrow. It is full of thousands of detailed prophecies, describing specific people, places, times, situations and events thousands of years before they came into being. (See Isaiah 34:16; 42:9; 2Peter 1:19-21.)
Many of these prophecies are about the final period of world history just before Jesus will return to put an end to all of today’s injustices and to set up His own kingdom of love and peace on earth. These last final days of man’s kingdoms on earth are known in the Bible as the “Time of the End,” the “Latter Days,” the “Last Days,” etc.–the time in which you and I are now living! (See Daniel 2:28; 8:23; 12:4.)
Signs of the Times!
When Jesus’ disciples wanted to know the future and asked Him, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” He didn’t tell them of only one sign, but many! In fact, the Bible gives us scores of “signs of the times,” signs and signals that we are to look out for so that we can know exactly how close to the very end we are. (See Matthew 24.)
These signs include: a dramatic upsurge in “famines, disease and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7); “the Gospel being preached in all the world for a witness to all nations” (Matthew 24:14); a drastic increase in international travel, with “many running to and fro, wandering from sea to sea, as knowledge is greatly increased”(Daniel 12:4; Amos 8:11,12); a great “falling away” from the Lord (2Thessalonians 2:3) as “evil men and seducers grow worse and worse, deceiving many” (2Timothy 3:13); “the love of many growing cold” (Matthew 24:12); resulting in “distress of nations upon the earth and men’s hearts failing them for fear” (Luke 21:25,26)–signs which are all obviously being fulfilled today more than ever before.
One of the most important and final signs of the very end that many prophets have predicted is the rise of a totally anti-God world government led by a demonic dictator known as the “Beast” or the Antichrist, who will be possessed and controlled by Satan himself. This man will come to power with a seven-year agreement, a “covenant,” in which he will promise world peace and religious freedom. He will also be instrumental in rescuing the world from its present worsening economic crisis, which many predict will soon escalate into a full-scale global financial crash.
For a while, most of the world will hail the Antichrist as a political savior; he will have brought peace, restored the world’s economy, solved the Middle East crisis, etc. But suddenly, three-and-a-half years after the enactment of the seven-year covenant, he will repudiate it, and will forbid and abolish all traditional religious worship, declaring that he himself is God and demanding that all the world worship him! (See Daniel 9:27; 8:9-12; 11:21-24,28-31,36; 2Thessalonians 2:3,4,8,9; Revelation 13:2-7.)
At this time, Scripture indicates he will place an extraordinary idol, an image of himself, in the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem, referred to in the Bible as the “Abomination of Desolation.” This could very likely be a high-tech computerized robot or a telecommunications system for his global regime, as it will speak and somehow even cause those who refuse to worship it to be killed. Jesus Himself said that when you see this image, this Abomination of Desolation, standing there in the temple, then would begin a time of “Great Tribulation”–a terrible persecution of those who refuse to submit to the Antichrist’s regime and worship him. (See Daniel 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 13:14,15.)
The Mark of the Beast–666!
During the Tribulation period–the second half of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign–his government will adopt a universal credit system, replacing the cash system presently used. He will require that everyone be issued a credit number, referred to in the Bible as the “Mark of the Beast.” This mark will most likely be a microchip, containing everyone’s personal identification, medical and financial records, etc., which will be implanted under the skin of their right hand or forehead. (See Revelation 13:16-18.) The technology for such a chip and credit system already exists and according to news reports is presently being tested in some American and European cities! (See an upcoming Living Waters issue for more fascinating details on this!)
The Antichrist government will use this new credit system to try to force everybody to worship the Antichrist or face starvation, because no one will be able to buy or sell without it. But the followers of God will refuse to worship him or receive his “mark.”–And the Bible promises that the Lord will take care of them, even if He has to supernaturally drop bread from the heavens to feed them! (See Revelation 12:6,14.)
Seven years after the Antichrist’s rise to power, and exactly 3-1/2 years after he breaks the “covenant” and imposes his “mark,” Jesus will suddenly return “in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” Jesus will snatch all of His children–those who believe on Him and who have received Him in their hearts–out of this world in this climactic event commonly referred to as the Rapture. Just after that darkest night in world history we are going to have the brightest dawn! (Matthew 24:29-31.)
All of God’s saved children will be instantly changed, transformed, as they receive new, miraculous, powerful, supernatural, “resurrection bodies”–just like Jesus’ body after He was resurrected! We’ll be supernaturally taken up, “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord!” (1Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:21).
Shortly after rapturing His children from this earth, Jesus Himself, along with His resurrected, glorified, heavenly forces, will return from Heaven on what the prophet described as supernatural white horses, to utterly defeat and destroy the Antichrist and totally annihilate his forces in the catastrophic Battle of Armageddon. At this time, Jesus and His forces will also rescue the unsaved people who were resisting the bestial Antichrist. Though they had not previously believed in and received Jesus, those who resisted the Antichrist–perhaps because of their own religious convictions–will live on into the coming Golden Age of one thousand years of Christ’s reign on Earth, when they will all be given a chance to know and love Him. (See Revelation 9:13-21; 19:11-21; 17:14; 16:12-21.)
God’s New World Order
Then we, the followers of God, along with our King, Jesus Christ, will take over the world and organize it and rule it and run it the way it should have been run if man had yielded to God! We are going to set up the Kingdom of God on Earth and restore the earth to the peace and beauty of the Garden of Eden. This amazing period will last for one thousand years and is therefore known as the Millennium. (See Daniel 2:44; 7:18,26,27; Revelation 20:4.)
At the end of the Millennium, God’s great heavenly city will descend from above to the Earth, which will have been recreated into a beautiful Garden-of-Eden-like paradise.–And God Himself will dwell with us right here on earth! It will be like God taking over the world by invading it from outer space–bringing down His heavenly city and restoring Himself as the King of kings forever! This great “Space City” is 1,500 miles long, 1,500 miles wide and 1,500 miles high! (See Revelation 21 and 22.)
It will be a better world, with better people who will have learned to live by God’s loving laws and will be happier than ever before. Only the most wicked of all, such as Satan, the Antichrist, his false prophet and their most ardent Christ-rejecting followers will have been sent to the Lake of Fire to be punished and purged of their diabolical rebelliousness!
Some of this may astonish you, but it’s the truth from God’s Word! You can read it in the Bible for yourself if you wish, if you truly want to know the things that will shortly come to pass!–You’ll be fascinated with the future that awaits God’s children! God bless you and keep you to the end!
THE SOLUTION to all of man’s problems of today, as well as to his problems of the past, is love, true love, the love of God and the love of fellow man–the Spirit of God’s divine love which helps us all to fulfil His great commandment to love one another. This is still God’s solution, even in such a complex, confused and highly complicated society as that of the world today.
For it is man’s rejection of the love of God and His loving laws that causes him to be selfish, unloving, vicious, cruel and unkind to his neighbor.–This results in man’s inhumanity to man, so apparent in today’s weary world with its enslavement by oppression, tyranny and exploitation, robbery by the rich, people suffering from hunger and malnutrition, disease and ill health, poverty and homelessness, overwork and abuse, the tortures of war and nightmares of perpetual fearful insecurity.
All of these evils are caused by man’s lack of love for God and each other and his defiance of God’s laws of love and faith and peace and harmony with Him, each other and His whole creation. “For he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1John 4:20.)
This is why Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love–to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . and the second is like unto it,” it’s almost equal, almost the same: “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 10:27.)
A lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” And with the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tried to show us that our neighbor is anyone who needs our help, regardless of their race, creed, color, nationality, or condition! Many people today say of those who need help, “Oh, I’m so sorry, how sad!” But compassion must be put into action! That’s the difference between pity and compassion: pity just feels sorry; compassion does something about it!
Love can seldom be proven without tangible manifestation in action. To say you love someone and yet not try to help them physically in whatever way they may need–food, clothing, shelter and so on–this is not love! True, the need for real love is a spiritual need, but it must be manifested physically in worksp–“faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).
In fact, this is why God created man to begin with: to love–to love and enjoy Him forever and to try to help others to do the same. It was God who created love and gave man the need to love and be loved, and it is He alone who can satisfy the deepest yearning of every human soul for total love and complete understanding.
So although the temporal things of this earth can satisfy the body, only God and His eternal love can ever fill that aching spiritual void of every person’s heart which He created for Himself alone! The human spirit, that intangible personality of the real you that dwells within the body, can never be completely satisfied with anything less than utter union with the great and loving Spirit that created it.
God is pictured in His Son Christ Jesus, who came for love and lived in love and died for love, so that we might live and love forever! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He’s the only truth, the only peace, and the only way!
Love never fails, for God is love!
—David Berg (Excerpts from Mountain Streams, Vol.1, No.10.)
SOMETIMES the sorrows, discouragement and disappointments of this life can weigh heavily on our hearts. When things don’t work out, or when we suffer personal defeats or losses, the strain of it all can sometimes make us wonder if anything we do is worthwhile. Can godly individuals truly succeed in creating a better society in a world where evil, corruption and man’s selfishness seem to prevail most of the time? When we are down and discouraged, the outlook doesn’t seem very bright. But it is then that we must continue to trust in God’s Word and His promises, because a better world is coming soon! “Sorrow may endure for a night,” the Bible says, “but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)–the glorious morning of Heaven that will rise after the shadows and the night of this life! So keep your eyes on the Lord and His wonderful promises of Heaven hereafter! You will find it easier to bear the burdens and trials that you’re facing now when you realize these are only for a moment compared with eternity to come.
All the disappointments, broken dreams and deep dark experiences will soon be forgotten and blotted out like a bad dream when that glorious dawn of Heaven arrives! “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Revelation 21:4 says that God will “wipe away all tears from our eyes.” Isn’t that wonderful? He’s going to wipe away all those tears, all that heartbreak and discouragement, and there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more death, no more sorrow!
Despite the fact that Heaven is the ultimate paradise, strangely, most people don’t seem to be planning to go there. Even though this life is often full of pain and sorrow and problems, they accept their present existence here as the end, and refuse to believe in a better life to come! Why? Perhaps it’s because the idea many people have of Heaven–lying around on a cloud playing a harp all day, doing nothing except being “holy”–does not sound very appealing! Thank God that is not what the Bible says Heaven is like!
Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2,3). It’s been almost two thousand years since Jesus said that. Do you think it has taken Him that long to fluff up enough clouds for us to lie on, or to turn out a few million harps from some heavenly harp factory? Of course not! That whole concept of Heaven is contrary to the Scriptures! If you want an idea of what Heaven is really like, read the 21st and 22nd chapters of the book of Revelation in the Bible!
The Heavenly City, the home of all the saved Christians of all ages, as described in those two final chapters of the Bible, is so amazing, so breathtakingly beautiful, that it is almost beyond description! Imagine, if you can, a Heavenly City with streets made of scintillating crystal-clear gold, a city 1,500 miles high, 1,500 miles wide and 1,500 miles long! Within its shimmering gates of pearl is the Paradise of God, where the River of Life winds gracefully through lush parks where laughing children and gentle animals play–and where departed loved ones await our coming!
Can you visualize a world with no more death, no more pain, no more fear, no more sorrow, no more crying nor sickness, a world where everything is a joy and a pleasure?–A society where everybody works together in harmony, cooperation and love? It’s more than our finite human mind can fathom. As the Bible says, “Eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the wonders that God has prepared for them that love Him” (1Corinthians 2:9). Yet, though it is so much more wonderful than anything we have known here on earth, in many ways Heaven is like the pleasurable aspects of this life we are presently living, only much, much better! It has all the best things of this life, without any of the trouble, pain, sickness, worry or death. A world of roses without thorns. On this old earth, we still cannot fully enjoy all of the joys and pleasures of life, but Heaven is the place where all of our heart’s desires will be fulfilled. Anything good you ever desired, anything you ever dreamed of, will be yours in Heaven.
God’s Word tells us, “And [God] said, `Behold, I make all things new. And he that overcomes will inherit all things'” (Revelation 21:5-7). “Who is he that overcomes the world? He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1John 5:5). Those who believe in Jesus will inherit all things, for it is God’s delight to give you the desires of your heart! He says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalms 37:4); “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
In Heaven there will be every pleasure and excitement you have ever experienced on earth, only far better! Beautiful love, the joys of wonderful children, as well as variety, change, the challenges of new horizons, new work, new tasks to perform, even the adventure of pioneering new worlds. And every thrill, every excitement, every beautiful love or fulfilling work that you heard about and longed for in this life, but were never able to have, will be yours in that heavenly realm–if you love Jesus and believe in Him now! Do you?
Are you going to experience that wonderful Heavenly City? The Bible says, “Only the saved [those who receive Jesus as their Savior] shall walk therein” (Revelation 21:24). Receive Jesus now if you haven’t already done so, so you can be sure that that heavenly mansion Jesus promised His children, as well as all the pleasures of paradise, will be yours too!