Category Archives: Love

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.

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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.

There Is No Limit!

Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-there-is-no-limit

Moody had no more than a 5th-6th grade education and did poorly even at that. When he attended his first Sunday School class, he thumbed through Genesis looking for John. When applying to join Mt. Vernon Congregational Church, he was rejected because of his utter ignorance of Christian teaching. His friends thought that seldom was anyone seen more unlikely to fill any sphere of public or extended usefulness. But God can take what seems small and insignificant and use it greatly, if it is given over completely to Him.

At the age of 17, Dwight L. Moody left his poor widowed mother’s farm to set out on his own in the big city of Boston, where he began working in his uncle’s shoe store as a clerk. The year was 1854. Then one day, the most significant event that ever happened in his entire life took place:

Edward Kimball, a dedicated Christian who had met young Dwight when he first came to the city, felt that he needed to witness to him and tell him about Jesus and God’s plan of Salvation. So Kimball went to the store where Moody worked, and finding him in the back room wrapping shoes, told him how he could receive Jesus as his personal Saviour. Moody listened attentively and prayed with him to receive Jesus on the spot!

Shortly afterwards, Kimball challenged his young new convert with these stirring words: “Dwight L. Moody, there is no limit to what God can do with a man who is YIELDED and WILLING to do His will!” Moody looked him in the eye and replied, “By the grace of God, Edward, I am DETERMINED to be that man!”–And he WAS! A short while later he moved to Chicago where he began preaching the Gospel and witnessing to others, and was soon so thrilled to be able to lead other folks to Jesus, that he quit the shoe business and began serving the Lord fulltime! He went on to become one of the World’s greatest evangelists, with literally tens of thousands of eternal souls won as a result!

But what if Moody had NOT determined to yield to the Lord?–What a sad loss it would have been not only to himself, but to literally MILLIONS who heard the Gospel through his ministry! Well, the same holds true for each of US: If we are not yielded and open to God’s will in our lives, and willing to do WHATEVER He may ask of us, we’ll NEVER become what God wants us to be!–And if we’re not what HE wants us to BE, we will never be able to ACCOMPLISH what He wants us to DO.–Which could be very sad, not only for US personally, but also for all those that the Lord wants us to somehow help or reach with His Love.

“But,” you may object, “I could never do anything great for the Lord like MOODY did!–I’m no great evangelist or soul-winner!” Well, neither was Moody to begin with! He was just a poor farm boy and a below average student who became bored with life on the farm and so moved to the big city. After several weeks in the city, he set a new goal for himself–to become a big businessman and to make $100,000. Giving his life to God’s service was the LAST thing on his mind!

But when he received Jesus as his Saviour, and he knew how much the LORD had given for HIM, then he determined to give HIS life to the LORD. “How do I give my life to Jesus?” you may ask. Well, the first step is to make sure you have asked Him into your heart. Then you need to YIELD yourself to Him and, as the Bible says, “Draw close to GOD, then HE will draw close to YOU.” (James 4:8) This is the secret of success of EVERY great man or woman of God whom He has ever used: They drew close to the Lord and relied solely upon HIM and HIS power and His Word for guidance, strength and inspiration.

God’s Word tells us, “Present your body as a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy and acceptable unto God, for this is your REASONABLE service. And do NOT CONFORM yourself to THIS World, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your MIND. THEN you will KNOW what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God!” (Romans 12:1,2) When we really submit ourselves to the Lord and yield ourselves to Him for His service, THEN we’ll know His Will for our lives!

Despite all of our faults, weaknesses and inabilities, there really is NO LIMIT to what God can do with us if we will simply turn our lives completely over to Him and be willing to let Him make us what HE wants us to be! Of course, that is a very BIG “IF”, because we each have our own free will, and we can CHOOSE to either yield to Him and “seek FIRST the KINGDOM OF GOD” (Matthew 6:33), or we can seek first our OWN desires and our OWN plans and our OWN ways. The choice is ours–and whether or not we have His full blessing and His help will depend on whether or not we are willing to give HIM first place in our lives.

One thing that many folks don’t seem to understand is that when the Bible speaks about, “Seeking first the Kingdom of God”, it’s not merely talking about the “RELIGIOUS” part of our lives. The Lord is talking about our ENTIRE life, our FUTURE, our PLANS, what we actually DO with ourselves. It is not enough for us to say, “Yes, Lord, I know that I need to be yielded to You, so I will spend a certain amount of time every day reading Your Word and praying.–BUT, Lord, I really must proceed with MY plans to do thus and thus with my career, or to do this or that with my future, etc.!” To turn our lives over to the Lord–to really present ourselves as LIVING SACRIFICES upon His altar–means that we put our will, our plans, our future, our desires, our ambitions–EVERYTHING–completely in the LORD’S hands. We know that His Kingdom is made of SOULS, and that He wants us to “preach the Gospel to EVERY creature” in order to win as many souls as we can. (Mark 16:15) So to be yielded to His will is to be willing to do whatever we can to reach OTHERS with His Word and His Love. To give ourselves to Him like this, He says, is only our “REASONABLE SERVICE”.–It’s the LEAST we can do for Jesus, considering what HE has done for US. (Romans 12:1)

So are you willing, not to present YOUR program to God for HIS signature?–Not even to be presented with GOD’S program for YOUR signature, but are you willing to sign a BLANK SHEET OF PAPER and let GOD fill it in without your even knowing in advance what His program is going to be? Think about it. Are you willing to honestly and sincerely turn your life over to Him and then do WHATEVER He wants you to do? If so, God has a WONDERFUL and GLORIOUS future in store for you!

You can be sure that once you yield your life to the Lord, He will bless and use you as much as He can! Of course, not everybody is called to be a D.L. Moody, or an Apostle Paul. But God has a special calling and place in His Kingdom for each of us. A thorough reading of the Gospels makes it clear that He calls different people in different ways. Jesus and His fulltime disciples had many FRIENDS who didn’t always give up their businesses or their professions, perhaps because they could do more good for the Lord and His work from their positions of influence.

It’s a high privilege and a special calling to be one of His fulltime disciples.–Jesus had only 12 to 70 fulltime disciples who were with Him & followed Him around almost continuously. But He also had many thousands of others who received His Words and believed and spread them to others, who were important and necessary friends, helpers and protectors whom God had ORDAINED for such a ministry!

But WHATEVER you do, make sure you do it with the RIGHT MOTIVATION–because you want to serve the LORD and WIN OTHERS into His Kingdom. If you believe that God’s highest calling is to, “Go into all the World and preach the Gospel to every creature”, and THAT’S what you really want to do–or make it possible for OTHERS to do–then you are “seeking first the Kingdom of GOD”, & the Lord will BLESS and be WITH you!

“He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing His Truth can dim.
He gives the very BEST to those,
Who leave the choices up to HIM!”

Will YOU leave the choices up to HIM? If so, He will mightily bless you beyond your wildest dreams and imagination!–“There is no limit!”
 

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One summer morning a child stood in a great cathedral watching the sunlight stream through the beautiful glass windows. The Bible characters in the windows were bathed with the brillant colours that resulted. When she was asked, “What is a saint?” she replied, “A saint is a person who lets the Light through.”

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

The Sultan and Satan–A Lesson for all!

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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.

Stand Up and Stand Out for Jesus!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-stand-up-and-stand-out-for-jesus

There was once a young man who was a lumberjack. He worked chopping down trees in the vast forests of northern Canada. One day he went for a few days leave to a nearby town where a Christian pastor witnessed to him on a street corner and led him to Jesus.

“Now that you’ve asked Jesus to come into your heart, Jake, your life is going to change,” the pastor said.

“How?” asked Jake, leaning over to take a closer look at the Scriptures that the pastor was showing him from his Bible.

“Well, look, it says right here in God’s Word, `If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, all things have become NEW!’ (2Corinthians 5:17). So I want to warn you, Jake, that when you go back to that lumber camp, it’s going to be very difficult for you!”

“Why’s that, pastor?”

“Because, as you know, most of those lumberjacks are tough, hard, wicked men, and they don’t like Christians!”

“That’s for sure!” agreed Jake, eyeing two of his friends engaged in a drunken brawl at the other end of the street.

“But, Jake, you’ll no longer be the same as you were before, cursing God, speaking foul language and doing evil things!–You’re going to be so different they’re going to PERSECUTE you!”

“Oh!” said Jake.

So Jake went back to the camp and a few months passed before he came back to the town for his next leave. He wondered if he’d run into the pastor again, and yes, there he was, standing on a street corner passing out tracts. One could hardly miss him, his happy smiling face seemed to light up the whole street, as he beamed the Love of Jesus on all who passed by.

“Hey, pastor! Nice to see you!”

“Hi, Jake!” exclaimed the pastor, very glad to see the converted lumberjack again. “Tell me, how did it go at the lumber camp?”

“Oh, fine, just fine!”

“I told you it was going to be difficult to live a Christian life there, didn’t I?”

“No, no,” replied Jake, “it wasn’t hard!–Not at all!”

“You mean they didn’t persecute you or make it tough for you?” the pastor asked, surprised.

“Oh, no! You see…they never even found out that I WAS a Christian!”

* * *

THAT kind of a sample is NOT being a real CHRISTIAN! Something you BELIEVE in, you TALK about! If you believe in your football team, you talk about them! If you believe in your political party, you talk about it! If you like your work, you talk about it!–And if you really believe in and love JESUS, you’re going to talk about HIM and share His Love with OTHERS!–Like Sophie, the washer-woman, who was made fun of one day by someone who said they had seen her talking about Jesus to a wooden Indian in front of a cigar store! Sophie perked up and replied, “Maybe I did; my eyesight isn’t so good any more! But talking to a wooden Indian about Jesus is not as bad as being a WOODEN CHRISTIAN and never talking about Jesus to ANYONE!”

Jesus said, “If men have a candlestick, they don’t hide it under a bowl or a jar.”–They don’t sit alone in some corner and hope nobody will find out that they’ve become a Christian.–But “they put the candlestick on a STAND so that it will give light to the WHOLE HOUSE!” (Matthew 5:15; Luke 8:16). They stand up and TELL others why they’ve had such a miraculous change in their life! Once you’re saved it should be IMPOSSIBLE to hide the Love of God and the Truth of Jesus! If you have Him in your heart and you have His Love, He wants you to SHOW it and to try to SHARE it with OTHERS! It’s the LEAST you can do for Him Who gave His LIFE for YOU!

Look at most COMMUNISTS today! Look how much you hear about THEM and THEIR cause. They’re certainly dedicated, often very sacrificial, determined and active, willing to even lay down their LIVES to reach their goal of World domination! Can the same be said of the vast majority of CHRISTIANS?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of so-called Christians today are afraid to do anything that would make them stand out as being peculiar or different from the crowd. They’ve lost their TEETH, they’ve lost their CONVICTIONS, they’ve lost their BOLDNESS to take a definite stand for Jesus and be utterly fearless about what people say or think about them! So many try to figure out just how far they can go and yet not hurt their reputation. They’re like some of the man-pleasing Jews in Jesus’ day, of whom the Bible says, “Among the leaders, many believed on Jesus. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise from MEN more than the praise from GOD!” (John 12:42,43).

They don’t want to be real outstanding Christians for fear of being called fanatics, or “fools for Christ’s sake” (1Corinthians 4:10), like the Christian businessman who walked down a busy street in London with a sign pinned to the front of his hat which said, “I’M A FOOL FOR CHRIST!” When passers-by turned to have another look at the man they thought must be a religious fanatic, they saw another card on the back of his hat which said, “WHOSE FOOL ARE YOU?”!

How sad that so many Christians rarely dare to be different, or venture to vary from the norm. They try to tiptoe along very daintily in their walk with the Lord and not disturb anybody! How unlike the Christians of the Early Church, of whom it was said, “These are they that turned the WORLD UPSIDE DOWN!” (Acts 17:6). They were called disturbers alright! But names like Paul and Peter and Stephen and Philip live on to this very day, and their influence is still felt, while the passive compromisers–like so many half-hearted Christians that are drifting around today–just faded into oblivion!

Naaman is a dandy bad example of just such a compromiser: He was a man who, if he had stood up for his faith, could have converted the entire nation of ancient Syria to faith in the true God. Naaman was the second most important man next to the King. He was the top general, the Minister of Defense. He had gotten miraculously healed from leprosy when he went down to see Elisha in Israel, and he even started witnessing to his wife and handmaid and a few close friends that there was no other God but the God of Israel. But when the King of Syria asked him to worship with him in the Temple of Rimmon, the heathen, pagan, devil-god that the Syrians worshipped, he failed to stand up for his new-found faith, and he weakly apologised to Elisha, “The Lord pardon Thy servant in this one thing that I do.” (2Kings 5).

What kind of witness was that to the nation when they saw him walking into the Temple of Rimmon with the King? They must have doubted the stories they’d heard about him being healed by the God of Israel. “Maybe it was the god, Rimmon, who healed him. After all, we see him worshipping there every day with the king!”

There is no such thing as “neutrality” or compromise in the Christian life! Jesus said, “He that is not FOR me is AGAINST me!” (Matthew 12:30). The Christian life should be an on-fire, all-out, 100%, dedicated life devoted to the cause of winning the World for Jesus! The day has now come for Christians to stand up and give bold expression to their convictions, to rise up and FIGHT the forces of darkness that are at work in the World and that are pressing in on us at such an alarming speed! But there isn’t any place in the battle for “chameleon” type Christians who change colour with every crowd and melt into the surrounding World without any convictions or moral courage! That’s the real problem of Christianity today–all the supposedly “secret” Christians who are merely trying to smuggle their own souls into Heaven without anyone else finding out!

Do YOU practice your religion secretly for fear of the opinions of men?–Or do you have the conviction and Christian courage to stand openly with the other great Christians of all ages, to stand up for your faith at every opportunity no matter WHAT the cost in popularity or position! Jesus says, “I wish that you were HOT or COLD!–But if you are LUKEWARM, I will spew you out of My mouth!” (Revelation 3:15,16). With God, it’s usually ALL or NOTHING at all! There’s no halfway with the Lord! He abhors the halfhearted, the lukewarm, the indecisive, the compromisers, the “so-far-and-no-further” folks!

Jesus Himself “made Himself of no reputation, was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:1-3). Yet most Christians today are not willing to be the least bit despised for Him and speak out when and where they should for Jesus, to shun the opinions of men and to dare to take a stand for the right, for the TRUTH of God’s Word! Look how much JESUS suffered for US, and yet how little many of us are willing to suffer for Him!

The Bible says, “This is how we know what God’s Love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And WE ought to lay down OUR lives for our BROTHERS!” (1John 3:16). We ought to be willing to lay down our lives to do WHATEVER we can to win as many lost souls as we can while we still can in these last dark days! There’s NO greater work in the World than to witness the Words of God, to preach the Gospel, to tell people about God’s Love, to show them the Love of Jesus!

There is a very meaningful true story about an old lady whose son was appointed “the Ambassador to the Court of St.James”, meaning he was appointed to be American ambassador to England. That was always considered to be the greatest ambassadorship in the World, especially in the days of the zenith of the British Empire’s glory. But when friends came to her with the great news, instead of being overjoyed she nearly wept. She just sadly shook her head and said, “To think that he might have become an ambassador of the GOSPEL, and he dwindled down to nothing but an ambassador to England!”

Think of that! He could have been an ambassador, not of the United States, but of the Kingdom of HEAVEN!–Of the GREATEST King of all, the King of Kings, JESUS! He could have been an ambassador not just to a little country like England, but to the whole WORLD, an ambassador from the greatest Kingdom there will ever be, and could have had a palace forever On High!

THAT’S an appointment that’s open for YOU! Will you TAKE it? In this whole World there is no higher position than to be a child of God, and no greater honour than to stand up for Jesus and be a witness for Him!

Stand up for Jesus TODAY!–You’ll be GLAD you did, and so will God!–And all those who receive your message of His Love!

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International