Anchor

How to Become a Hero

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorI can remember reading The Hiding Place (the story of Corrie ten Boom, a woman who risked her life to save Jews during World War II) and desperately praying that I would have Corrie’s courage and self-sacrifice when I’m eventually confronted with a time that requires it.

How does one become such a person? Jonathan Parnell has some thoughts about this on the Desiring God Blog, where he writes about Jon Meis, a young man who risked his life to save his fellow students during the shooting at Seattle Pacific University:

The person who’d be willing to put the good of others before himself in the event of great loss is the one who puts the good of others before himself in the hundred events of little losses every day. “We are always becoming,” as Joe Rigney puts it, “who we will be. Right this minute, we are headed somewhere, and sooner or later, we are bound to end up there” (Live like a Narnian, 52).

The person of great sacrifice, therefore, must be the person of little sacrifices—the person who has discovered that the life of sacrificial love is the life of greatest joy. The response of sacrificial love in the midst of panic is the end of a trajectory that gets played out as sacrificial love in the midst of normalcy….

The big moment of courageous action doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but has behind it tiny moments of simple sacrifice that have been trending that direction all along. In other words, if we can’t wash dishes and change diapers, we shouldn’t kid ourselves with the idea that we’d step in front of a bullet. If we are stingy with our time and money toward those in need, we’ll be stingy with our lives when a gun gets pulled on innocent people.

Stories like Jon’s should make us pause and ask whether we’d respond like he did. But the question isn’t what we’d do in a particular situation; it’s about what we’re doing now.

We won’t truly know who we’ve become until we’ve been tested. Until then, pray the Holy Spirit enables us to give up our lives in the everyday moments. “The person of great sacrifice must be the person of little sacrifices.” Now is the time to practice dying by His power, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43–45)

—Amy K. Hall

 
The heart of a hero

I remember memorizing Hebrews 11 as a child, which detailed quite a few gruesome ways to die: “They were stoned; they were [sawn] in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and [in] mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:37–38 NIV)

It made me wonder how much it hurt to die. I knew that I was quite a pansy when it came to pain, so I tried to figure out, if one had to die, what would be the least painful way to go—as I’d opt for that. You see, I really didn’t want to disgrace God by being a total wimp.

Today I can look back at my childhood worries with amusement. I realize now that the real issue was that I’ve always felt lacking in courage. In the Bible there are countless stories of men who did courageous things. Open to almost any book and you read of brave deeds galore. Again, Hebrews 11 lists many of these courageous folk. “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32–34 NIV)

Looking at the brave men listed in this chapter, the origins of the word “courage” take on greater meaning—their hearts were in the right place. These men who did such courageous things had something wonderful in common—which was the source of their courage. In Psalm 37:31 King David says this about a righteous man, “The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.”

There’s the famous Bible account of three Hebrew boys who were told to either worship a golden image or be thrown into a furnace. But, no, these boys stand there and they say they’re not going to bow down. This is what they probably thought were their last words in response to an angry king:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold[en] statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16–18 NLT)

I read this account in the safety of my house, separated from this scene by thousands of years—but still the strength of their belief is loud in their words; there isn’t any faltering or trying to negotiate something less mortally dangerous for themselves. But to have the courage to face an experience like this, I think you have to go back a bit. You see, I don’t think their parents ever told them, “You know, one day you’re going to be brought before a scary king, and there’s going to be a furnace, and you’re going to choose between your life or worshipping an idol—when that happens, remember to choose the furnace.”

Instead, I think they told these boys something more along the lines of, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV) And, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

I doubt that the parents of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what lay in store for them, or when and how they might be faced with needing to act courageously. But there is one thing they knew they could control—what was stored up in their children’s hearts. Proverbs 4:23 explains this concept well: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The New Living Translation has translated this same verse into these words: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Everyone loves a good hero story; the ones with the good guys in capes and tights are a particular favorite of mine. The thing is, in real life, you don’t get to decide whether you will have the opportunity for a huge heroic moment—if you get to rescue someone, or somehow or another save the day—but what you do have control over is what you put in your heart. That’s how you can be prepared for these larger-than-life moments, as well as those everyday moments that require courage.

—T. M.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Why Does God Allow Sin and Suffering?

By David Brandt Berg

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I was talking to a pretty young travel agent the other day, and during the course of our conversation we began to talk about God.

“Oh, I don’t believe in God!” she said. “If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the World today? Why do thousands die of starvation every day in Africa? What kind of God would allow a terrible disease like AIDS to run rampant? Why was my best friend just crippled in an automobile accident?”

“Well,” I replied, “you can’t blame GOD for all the suffering in the World! He’s not some kind of monster that enjoys making people suffer. It’s not GOD Who causes all these things. A lot of it is the evil work of a powerful being called Satan, or the Devil, and he just loves to hurt Man and see him suffer! In fact, that’s one of his main tactics to try to turn Man away from God. He tries to give GOD the blame for his OWN dirty deeds!”

The young lady was quiet for a moment as she pondered this, and then she shot back with the atheists’ trump card question which they always try to stump Christians with! “Well then, if there is a God, and He’s ALL-POWERFUL, why doesn’t He STOP the Devil and not allow him to cause all this suffering? Why does He ALLOW evil in the World? For example, why didn’t He stop Hitler?”

“Well, that’s a very good question!” I answered. “But you see, if God had put a stop to Hitler, He also would have to put a stop to YOU!–Because YOU’RE a sinner too, aren’t you? I’m sure you’re not as bad as Hitler, but we’ve ALL been bad sometimes, haven’t we? The Bible says, `ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23). So He would have had to stop everybody in the whole World from doing ANYthing bad! Right at the very beginning God would have had to step in and use FORCE to stop Adam and Eve from eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. He would have had to interfere with our FREE WILL and the majesty of PERSONAL CHOICE that He’s given each of us to choose good or evil!”

“But wouldn’t it have been BETTER if He had MADE us all to be good?” she challenged.

“If the Lord had wanted ROBOTS, yes, He could have MADE everybody do good and love Him. But He made us with FREE choice and FREE will, so we could CHOOSE to love Him! You wouldn’t enjoy YOUR children much if they were FORCED to love you, would you?” I questioned.

Puzzled, she replied, “Well no, but what does this have to do with suffering?”

I explained, “Because Man was put here to make a CHOICE between good and evil, between doing things GOD’S way or his OWN, and THAT’S the ROOT CAUSE of why there is so much suffering, misery, pain, ill health, wars, economic troubles and so on in the World today.–Because instead of choosing to love and obey GOD, Man has chosen to REBEL against His loving rules that were made only for our health and happiness, and do things his own way, and so he is suffering from the consequences of his own wrong choices! `There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death!’ (Proverbs 14:12).

At that point she was called away to attend to a customer, so that was the end of our conversation. But I was thinking later about how much of the World’s suffering is not even caused by the DEVIL, and certainly not because GOD wants to be mean to people, but rather through MAN’S OWN FOOLISHNESS. Man is his own worst enemy!

Look at the untold suffering that Man has caused himself by continually fighting terrible wars in which millions have been slaughtered and maimed! Martin Luther called war “the greatest scourge that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states and it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it!” But is GOD to blame for Man’s wars? The Bible says, “What causes wars and fightings among you? Don’t they come from your OWN LUSTS that battle within you?” (James 4:1). God is not to blame for the suffering caused by war, but rather Man’s own selfishness, greed, pride and competitive spirit–the destruction of others for greed or selfish gain–THIS causes wars!

But, believe it or not, even more lethal than war is the death and suffering Man inflicts on himself through car accidents! AUTOMOBILES have killed more Americans, for example, than were killed in all of its wars put together!–56 THOUSAND deaths every year in the U.S. alone, and half of those caused by drunken driving!

Far too many of Man’s inventions, such as weapons of war, too-rapid transportation, towering skyscrapers, pesticides, lethal chemicals, drugs etc., are death-dealing and destructive and cause all sorts of suffering. When Man starts wilfully following his own way and building things that God never wanted in the World, what else can you expect?

If there were no automobiles, there would be practically no deaths and injuries resulting from highway accidents. Our air would not be polluted with smoke from factories and automobile exhaust if there were no cars and factories. Our MODERN unnatural LIFESTYLE is a large contributor to much of the World’s suffering! Up until about the last hundred-and-fifty years, the main form of land transportation was horses and carriages.  And most of the World went at a more peaceful, leisurely and healthful pace as a result.

It’s the unnecessary stress and rush and anxiety and tension of modern-day living that brings on so many of the various psychosomatic diseases like severe headaches, stomach ulcers, heart troubles etc. We have not learned to cast all our cares upon God, as we are advised to do in 1Peter 5:7, and so we let our worried and harried minds make us sick!

Also, much of the suffering brought about by SICKNESS is man-made and comes from a poor diet. God gave us natural sugar, but we bleach out its nutrients and make it unhealthy and white. We eat white bread when whole wheat is much better for us. We disobey God’s health rules by eating all kinds of junk foods, sugary sweets, chemical preservatives etc., instead of the delicious natural fruits, vegetables and foods that God has so abundantly provided. We also make ourselves sick voluntarily by smoking, drinking and taking drugs that harm our minds and bodies. Is it GOD’S fault if we voluntarily abuse ourselves in this way?–Of course not!

For another example of how Man causes his own suffering, look at the millions who are starving in countries like Sudan and Ethiopia. The deserts of Northern Africa used to be a beautiful, fertile, wooded area. But over several centuries people cut down all the trees! As a result, the topsoil eroded and there was nothing left but desert. As the people moved south, seeking fertile land, they continued to cut down the trees, and so of course the desert moved southward too!

Today there are THREE-AND-A-HALF MILLION SQUARE MILES of desert in the Northern part of Africa because men have disturbed the ecological balance of nature. As a result, untold numbers of people are dying of starvation there every day!

Can you blame GOD for this? Problems like these are caused by MAN’S own foolishness over a number of years, often centuries! Problems which have steadily grown over successive generations.

Also, there is a huge surplus of food in other parts of the World–MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS OF TONS A YEAR–so God has provided more than enough so that NO ONE needs to go hungry! But while the Western World spends hundreds of millions of dollars on storing or destroying these surpluses and on exercise and diet programmes to lose weight, and pay farmers NOT to grow crops, the poor nations of the World starve!

There are other forms of suffering that men bring on themselves. Take AIDS for example, which is particularly rampant among homosexual men. Homosexuality or SODOMY, as GOD calls it in the Bible, is strictly FORBIDDEN by God as being unsanitary, unhealthful, unnatural and cursed! “Men committing indecent acts with other men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:27). AIDS, as well as a good many other diseases, are caused and spread by abusing the body in a way that is contrary to God’s Word and His health laws. So is it God’s fault when men suffer the consequences of their own sins? No! As the Word says, they receive “the DUE penalty for THEIR perversion.”–By LAW they were STONED!

Another cause of misery and suffering is the pitiful poverty and squalor of the poor in the Third World’s huge cities. Shanty towns have sprung up around cities from Bombay to Cairo to Rio de Janeiro to Manila, where millions of squatters live in little shacks and lean-to’s, in the midst of foul water, garbage, sewage, filth and the most unsanitary conditions imaginable!

But God didn’t intend for people to live that way! They never should have come to the city in the first place! They would have been much better off to stay out in the country, where there’s fresh air and food, plenty of good hard work and exercise, fewer people, beautiful clean flowing streams, and plenty of place for the children to play, and where they can have animals and enjoy all the other benefits of good healthful country living. This is the good wholesome, healthful country life that God designed for Man!

But the poor see the fine cars and beautiful homes and all the fancy material luxuries and useless bric-a-brac that the rich own in the cities, and they think that those things will make them happy! They think that in the city they will be able to work less and make more money and live in luxury!

So they swarm to the cities, and soon their families fall apart, their children get into drugs and crime, they can’t find work and they suffer from terrible disease and malnutrition. In many instances, they wind up virtually living in their own excrement–washing in, cooking with and even drinking horribly foul polluted water!

Is it any wonder thousands die from typhoid and cholera and every other kind of disease? “Cities,” as the great historian Toynbee said, “are the festering sores on the World.” But they’re not GOD’S fault! They’re a MAN-MADE curse!

In some countries, the poor crowd into the cities to escape civil war, guerilla activity or criminal groups and bandits in the countryside, so their suffering is sometimes brought on by OTHERS’ greed and oppression and Man’s inhumanity to Man in WAR.

Of course, much of the reason that millions of people around the World suffer deprivation, want and squalor is because of the selfishness of the RICH. Most of the rich simply do not share their wealth or lands as they should, or invest it in jobs and industries to employ the poor.–Or pay the poor decent wages or fair prices for their labor and produce so that they can make a decent living. If they did, there would certainly be enough to go around, as the Lord INTENDED for there to be. In His Word He REPEATEDLY advises and even COMMANDS the rich to share with the poor because He doesn’t want the poor to suffer!

So MOST of the suffering in the World is not GOD’S fault at all, but MAN’S fault, because of disobedience to God’s Own loving laws! And believe it or not, the rich ALSO suffer! In some ways even more than the poor! The poor at least have the HOPE that riches could one day make them happy. But the rich have it all and are STILL not happy. In fact, a good many of them got their riches by robbing and cheating the poor. This is contrary to God’s laws for happiness and SPIRITUAL prosperity, which say that we must show love and concern and give and share with our fellow man.

Consequently, the rich usually suffer from a bad conscience as well as fear that someone will try to take away their riches. So they have to live like prisoners in their own homes, behind the high gates and walls that they’ve built to keep out thieves and robbers and their enemies! But the demons of Hell are able to pass through those walls and gates and enter into their homes with fear and sickness, worry and death!

Another very difficult kind of suffering that God allows is the PERSECUTION that His followers suffer at the hand of the godless Gospel-rejecting wicked. For millenniums the righteous have suffered pain, persecution and deprivation at the hands of a wicked World! In fact, any Christian who courageously stands up and actively fights the evils of this World is bound to suffer persecution. “For ALL who live GODLY in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer PERSECUTION!” (2Timothy 3:12).

If we were to try to cover ALL the causes of suffering in this World, it would probably take a book! But we hope we’ve at least given you SOME answers to one of the great eternal questions of this life: “Why does God allow suffering?”–Because WE’VE brought it on OURSELVES! Though we can understand MANY of the reasons through reading God’s Word and through prayer, we probably won’t know ALL the answers to that question until we get Up There, as there are some things we won’t understand until we see things as God sees them.

A very fitting illustration of this is the story of Doctor Handley Moule, when he visited a coal mine immediately after a terrible underground explosion. At the pit’s mouth was a large crowd, among whom were the relatives of the trapped and suffering miners.

“It is very difficult,” he said, “for us to understand why God should let such an awful tragedy happen. But I have at home an old bookmarker given me by my Mother. It is woven in silk, and when I look at the wrong side of it, I see nothing but a tangled mass of threads. It looks like a big mistake! One would think that someone had made it who did not know what she was doing. But when I turn it over and look at the right side, I see there, beautifully embroidered, the letters, ‘GOD IS LOVE!'” “We are looking at this today,” he continued, “from the wrong side! Someday we shall view it from another standpoint and we shall understand.”

God ALWAYS has a purpose and a plan in suffering, even though we can’t always see it right away! Sometimes, “His ways are past finding out” (Romans 11:33), and we just have to TRUST God, knowing that whatever He does, He does it in LOVE, and that if we don’t understand NOW, we will LATER!

Lastly, we must also mention the BENEFITS of suffering. Suffering is often GOOD for you! The ancients Greeks believed this, and this is why the Greeks put a lot of sorrow and suffering in their Tragedies. They called it “catharsis”, a purging or purifying. They believed that deep emotion and weeping washes away the impurity, the silliness and foolishness in you, and makes you honest and pure. Like an old poem says:

I walked a mile with Folly,
She chatted all the way,
But never a thing I learned from her,
For all she had to say!

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And never a word said she,
But oh, the things I learned that day,
When Sorrow walked with me!

It’s amazing how suffering often brings out the sweetness and goodness in people! The sorrow, the suffering, the sacrifice and sadness brings out the best in them, the compassion, the love, the tenderness, the brokenness, the love and concern for others! Suffering is meant to be a strength-giver to you, and to equip you for giving strength to others. The Bible says, “We comfort others with the comfort that we ourselves are comforted with of God!” (2Corinthians 1:4). And for us who are Christians, it gives us the desire to give OTHERS the answer that WE’VE found that can solve ALL their problems and suffering–JESUS!

Many times suffering turns people to God and inspires them to plead with Him for forgiveness and to repent and ask God to save them. They realise that God is dealing with them and they ask, “Lord, what did I do wrong? Why did I need this?” As King David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but in my suffering I cried unto the Lord and He saved this poor man out of all his troubles!” (Psalm 18:6; 34:6; 119:67). Suffering and affliction drive us closer to the Lord!

And finally, let us never forget that “we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but He was in all points tempted like we are.” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus Himself knows what it’s like to suffer! He suffered more than any of us! He suffered for ALL the sins of ALL the World, and some day soon, God’s Word promises us, all the suffering for those who love God will come to an end, and He “shall wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things are passed away”! (Revelation 21:4).

Until that perfect day, we will have to endure some suffering, but our compensation, our reward waiting for us in Heaven, far outweighs the temporary pain and suffering we may experience down here. As the Apostle Paul said, “For I judge that the sufferings of this present time are NOT WORTHY to be compared to the GLORY which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).

Are YOU saved and ready for that Day?

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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God’s Love for Humankind

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorGod loves unconditionally. What does unconditionally mean? We could say that God’s love has no bounds, is unchanging, and without limitations. Unconditional love is sometimes defined as a love that is “given freely” to the loved one “no matter what.”

Each of us has sinned, and sin brings separation from God, and there is nothing we can do by ourselves to repair that breach. Nevertheless, God loves us. His love isn’t dependent on us, as we can’t earn His love. He loves us despite our sinful nature. He loves those who don’t love Him. He loves us all “no matter what.” It doesn’t mean He loves all that we do, but He loves us. In fact, He loves humanity so much that He made it possible for the breach caused by our sins and wrongdoing to be bridged through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. Though we are sinners, God, because of His love for us, made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him.

As it says in Romans, chapter 5: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8 NIV)

God loves us not because of who we are but because of who He is. He is the creator of all things. He’s the Almighty. He is all-powerful and knows everything, and yet He loves you and me. In fact, not just you and me and those of us who are Christians and who appreciate the great sacrifice He made in giving His only Son to die for us, but He loves every single person in the whole world equally and unconditionally. He loved us before we believed in Him, before we loved Him. Even if someone has never heard of God the Father, even if someone says they hate Him, He still loves that person unconditionally. God’s love is unfathomable. It is perfect. It is unconditional.

The foundation point for us as Christians in helping to meet the needs of those we come in contact with, regardless of whether those needs are physical or spiritual, is the understanding that every person is precious to God, regardless of age, race, nationality, physical appearance, economic status, religious belief, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. None of that matters; everyone is loved by God. He loves the beggar on the street as much as He loves the richest man in the world.

God asks that we value every individual, that we see humankind through His eyes of love, which means that we will look at others without bias, prejudice, or preconceived negative opinions. By embracing God’s perspective and seeing others as He does, we will avoid stereotyping people, or thinking of ourselves as better than others.

We don’t have to like every person’s belief system, lifestyle, or choices. We may not agree with them. They may live without regard to God’s moral standards, they may live lives of grave sin, but no matter what their state, God loves them. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

Each person on earth is God’s creation just as we are, and God loves them just as He loves us. We are all equal in God’s eyes. God loves each human being, and Jesus died for each human being. We are instructed to love people, and to show God’s love in both practical and spiritual ways, to the best of our ability.

Jesus said that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:37–40) When we remember that Scripture says that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, that love is of God, that God is love and He loves us all, (Genesis 1:26–27; 1 John 4:7–8) then the awesome love of God becomes our touchstone; it’s an example of how we should love others. When we look at this benchmark, we understand that we are to emulate God’s attributes of love, compassion, and mercy, just as Jesus did.

We are told to let our light so shine that others may see our good works and glorify God. (Matthew 5:16) This is a call to action, as it expresses the understanding that God intends for us to interact with others in a manner that reflects Him. It’s a call to emulate Him, to treat others with love, compassion, and mercy. We’re called to be conduits of His beautiful, unconditional love to others. This, like many other things on the path of discipleship, often requires some sacrifice. But when you think about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, there really is no comparison.

This touching story makes the point well:

The story has been told of a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated only for a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

The little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

What a tender and beautiful example of love! The Bible says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

James, the brother of Jesus, expressed that the true practice of our faith consists of both outward and inward action. Outward toward others in practical ways, and inward through our devotion to God. He said: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27 NAU)

Manifesting our faith is not only inward activity; we are called to express it through our Christlike, Christ-emulating actions. This calls for sacrificing time we would use for ourselves, and instead giving it to others. It’s letting go of previously made plans in order to help others in need. It’s living our faith by intentionally doing things for the benefit of those in need.

In his book Well Done, Thomas said, “Roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, [they] study Scripture with devotion, [they are] super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word.”

As Rick Warren said in The Purpose Driven Life: “In heaven God won’t say, ‘Tell me about your career, your bank account, and your hobbies.’ Instead he will review how you treated others, particularly those in need.”

Jesus set the example of the “roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves” concept. He constantly showed love to others. He felt compassion for those in need and was moved to loving action. He was merciful. He showed kindness. He fed the hungry and healed the afflicted. He fought against evil and unrighteousness.

Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Let’s do what we can to be tangible examples of God’s love for humanity, by following what He shows us to do to share Him and His love with those in need, spiritually through introducing them to Jesus, and practically through ministering to their other needs.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

When We Should Not Forgive!

by David Brandt Berg

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The love and mercy and forgiveness that God offers us through Jesus Christ is so great, so wonderful, that we can’t really fully understand it! We certainly don’t DESERVE it! None of us are “good” enough to deserve forgiveness of sins and His gift of Eternal Life to us! Yet it is ours for the asking if we will only believe on Him, repent of our selfish, wrong ways and ask His forgiveness.–Such love!

This love and forgiveness that He has extended to us, Jesus commands us to show it to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be KIND one to another, tenderhearted, FORGIVING one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.” Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer, instructed us to pray: “Forgive us OUR trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He then added, “For if you forgive men THEIR trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive YOU. But if you forgive NOT men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive YOUR trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12,14,15). Jesus said we are even to love and forgive our ENEMIES.

That is, providing they are SORRY. The Bible does NOT instruct us to forgive people who are NOT sorry and DON’T repent. After all, God does not even forgive US OUR sins unless we are sorry for them and repent of them. Yet some people have the mistaken picture of God as a “soft” over-indulgent Father who automatically forgives everyone on Earth for their sins, even if they hate Christ and never repent of their evil deeds!

There are CONDITIONS to God’s forgiveness: As Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked FORSAKE his way, and the unrighteous man his (evil) thoughts: and let him RETURN unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon Him; and let him return to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” God WILL have mercy and abundantly pardon, but FIRST the wicked must FORSAKE his evil thoughts and deeds, REPENT and ASK to be forgiven!

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and do good to them that persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44). But how far are you to go in loving and forgiving those who are vicious enemies who HATE you and want to rob, enslave or even SLAUGHTER you and your loved ones?

Look at the example God Himself sets with HIS enemies: At first, He gives them time to repent. He shows them Love, He shows them the right way and gives them time to change and see the Truth. But after a certain time limit, His patience runs out and He says, “My Spirit will not ALWAYS strive with Man!” (Genesis 6:3). And eventually He SLAUGHTERS His enemies if they keep on being rebellious and doing evil!–As He did in the great worldwide FLOOD when all of Mankind was drowned except Noah and his family! There are countless other examples of this all the way through the Bible.

So we are to give our enemies TIME, we are to be patient, show them love and forgiveness, that we’re READY to forgive them IF they will REPENT. But God Himself does not forgive people who DON’T repent. It is naive to believe that we’re to love and forgive enemies who do NOT repent and who insist on CONTINUING to do evil and harm to us and our loved ones and our nation! As Christians, yes, we are obligated to show love even to our enemies. But that does NOT rule out the fact that we are to DEFEND ourselves from their cruel attacks! It does not even rule out us ATTACKING them to STOP them from killing innocent people!

We must not be so “forgiving” that we lose all moral values and lose all sense of right and wrong, and by standing back and doing nothing to stop them, CONDONE them in their evil deeds! We may show them love to try to win them over, but we must NOT in ANY way condone their evil deeds! And, if necessary, we should not hesitate to STOP them if their evil, violent actions threaten our lives or the lives of others! And we certainly should NOT forgive them for criminal acts of murder, terror, intimidation or the torture of innocent victims!

When Jesus was dying a painful death on the cross, He showed GREAT forgiveness and love even to those who crucified Him, and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Who was He asking God to pardon?–The hypocritical Pharisees and high priests, the religious leaders who had condemned Him to death?–NO! THEY knew EXACTLY what they were doing in crucifying Jesus! Jesus was praying for the poor, ignorant ROMAN SOLDIERS who were simply carrying out their orders, and who really didn’t know what was happening. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive THEM, for THEY know not what they do.”

Christ WANTED to forgive even His wicked religious enemies! He WANTED to, but they REFUSED Him! Jesus had WEPT over Jerusalem and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who KILL the prophets and STONE to DEATH those who are sent to you, how OFTEN I WOULD have gathered you, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings.–But YOU would NOT!” Therefore, because His bitter religious enemies REJECTED His love and forgiveness, Jesus said to them, “WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You SERPENTS, you generation of VIPERS! How can you possibly escape the DAMNATION of HELL? You are children of HELL, and shall receive GREAT damnation!” (Matthew 23:37,29,33,14,15). Clearly, Jesus did NOT forgive such wicked enemies!

Some people will ask, well, what about the verse of Scripture that says you should forgive your enemies “seventy times seven”? (Matthew 18:22). Well, that’s NOT what Jesus said at all! Sad to say, a lot of people MISQUOTE that verse. What it actually says is: “Then came Peter to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my BROTHER sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I say not until seven times, but until seventy TIMES seven.'”

In this passage, Peter and Christ were talking about offences committed by a BROTHER, a fellow CHRISTIAN, in other words.–Not a bitter ENEMY who is trying to rob you, kill you or violate your wife! In the case of a Christian brother, the offense would not usually be something as bad as that. It would normally be some minor offense, because certainly true Christians wouldn’t normally do any major harm to each other. So when Peter asked, “If my brother comes to me and says he’s sorry, how many times should I forgive him?” The Lord as good as said it’s UNLIMITED!–PROVIDING he is SORRY and ASKS for forgiveness!

And you will note that even in the case of a brother–if the offense is SERIOUS enough and not just some LITTLE thing that you should be able to overlook and forgive and let pass–that you are NOT obligated to just AUTOMATICALLY forgive them. Let us look at Luke 17:3, where Christ instructed His Disciples, “Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, REBUKE him; and, IF he repent, FORGIVE him. And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day TURN to you, saying, ‘I REPENT’, you shall forgive him.”

In other words, IF he comes to you and says he’s SORRY and REPENTS, you are to forgive him. But you are NOT expected to automatically overlook (and do nothing to try to rectify) SERIOUS OFFENCES or actual CRIMES!–Not even if it’s a brother who committed them.–And you are CERTAINLY not expected to meekly “forgive” a devil-inspired, anti-Christ ENEMY who is trying to violently overthrow and enslave your country!

So let us not be naive in our concept of the forgiveness and mercy of God, especially in relation to Christ-hating, anti-God ENEMIES! This passage of Scripture from Isaiah 1:18-20 can very well apply to such antiChrist forces: “COME now, and let us REASON together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” He promises a complete pardon, but then warns: “IF you be WILLING and OBEDIENT, you shall eat of the good of the land: BUT, if you REFUSE and REBEL, you shall be devoured with the SWORD! The mouth of the LORD has spoken it!” REPENT or PERISH!–Which will it be?

 
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Lord Jesus, You told us to PRAY for our enemies, and we have. Thank You for those who HAVE repented of their evil ways and have been reconciled. But wicked men and evil-doers who CONTINUE to reject Your Love and fight against Your people, we now commit them into Your hands. JUDGE them, O God! Amen!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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Blessed Above All People

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSometimes our struggles can seem so difficult, so monumental. In fact, sometimes they are difficult and monumental. Life is certainly not easy for any of us! But the thing to remember is that when compared with the heartbreaks, devastating loneliness, frustration, hopelessness, and lack of love and purpose that many people who do not know the Lord face, without the promise of an eternity with God, our problems seem less significant!

As God’s children, we’re blessed with the constant companionship of His Spirit, and fellowship with our friends and loved ones who share our faith. We have confidence in the Lord’s unconditional love, and we know that even though we make a lot of mistakes, His forgiveness is readily available to us if we will just come to Him and ask for it. Many of us haven’t yet learned to not succumb to guilt, remorse, and condemnation despite our knowledge of the Lord’s unconditional love and forgiveness, but we’re learning, and we know by faith that we don’t have to be weighed down by regrets, bitterness, guilt, and condemnation. We have His Word to claim, that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1–2)

So if you’re weary with the trials and tribulations of life on earth, if you’re tempted to grumble about how bad you have it, remind yourself that compared to the poor lost people of the world who don’t know the Lord, and sometimes don’t even have anything to eat or a place to live—as His children, we are blessed! Jesus died to save us so that we could help Him to save others. We are called to love and comfort others with the same comfort and love He gives to us. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Each of God’s children has a unique calling. The Lord has a plan and purpose for each of us. If we question or become bitter about His plan for our lives, it can cloud and hinder the precious time that He has given us on this earth to live for Him.

As His disciples, we are called to go out into the sea of humankind, seeking those who are lost, sinking, and drowning, to offer them life, hope, and truth. We have the vastness of His riches to share with a lost and dying world—we have His wonderful comfort, the power of His Word, our knowledge of the future He has promised for all His children. We are called to share what we have received with the dying and desperate of this world who have lost hope of any comfort or who lack the knowledge of God who loves them or the heaven that awaits them. They desperately need God’s love and truth, these who die a thousand deaths before their physical body is laid to rest in the grave. Won’t you do everything possible to share with them the lasting joy and peace of mind and eternal life that you have in Jesus?

The Lord has given each of us our assignments for our time on earth. God’s Word says that Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Jesus said, “As My Father has sent Me, so send I you.” (John 20:21) His Father sent Him to the earth to die that we might live. Our job is to “die daily” to self for others that they may live—giving of our selves every day that others might find eternal life in Jesus.

Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) If you will look at both Jesus’ life and Paul’s life, you’ll see they weren’t very easy. Jesus never promised us a life of ease, but He did say that this life is but for a moment, and if we suffer for Him, we’ll also reign with Him. (2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 2:12) However, He even says that He will give us things right here and now in this life that will make our lives fulfilled and joyous! (1 Peter 1:8; John 15:11)

The Lord is able to use even the sadness we feel when we lose someone to become aware of His sadness for His loved ones who are lost to Him. He tells us to weep with those who weep and let our hearts be broken for those who don’t yet know Him. These are dying spiritually every day without His love. Just as our hearts ache and we are engulfed with sadness at missing those who are gone from us now, so does His heart long for His lost children. You know how it is when your heart is broken and you’re devastated by some tragic experience or loss. You can feel it physically—you sometimes feel sick to your stomach; your heart actually aches.

Just as we as parents miss our children when we are away from them, and just as we are desperate to know that they are safe and happy and well, so does the Lord care for His children. He wants them in His arms, close to His bosom and safe in His home—all the same things we wish for our children.

Do you remember what it was like before you found the Lord, when all seemed lost to you, you were in great despair, and your life seemed meaningless, empty, and void of understanding? Do you remember how unhappy and desperate you were? The Lord heard your heartcry, and He reached out to you and took you in His arms in your time of need. And to do this, He probably used some person, someone who was a faithful witness, who was overflowing with thanksgiving and joy for the wonderful love of the Lord in his or her heart.

Even if you grew up all your life with the knowledge of the Lord ever since you were a little child, you likewise are probably the fruit of someone’s faithfulness to witness to your parents, or their parents before them. How convicting it is to think of what the Lord has done for us, and how He used some faithful messenger, someone like you to do it! He beseeches us to do the same for others, for those who are lost and lonely in the cold and darkness—to imitate His example by sharing His love and Word and truth with others.

What if you had no purpose in life, no hope for the future, no one to go to when you were fearful, no one to comfort you when you were sad, no one to help you when you were confused, no way to get rid of your burdens of condemnation, no way to deal with the death of loved ones, no way of knowing where they had gone or if you would ever see them again, no way of dealing with loss or injury or illness or catastrophe, no one to help you when you are lonely? If someone helped each of us to know Jesus and His salvation, how can we fail to do the same for others? If Jesus loved you so much that He died for you, He also loved them so much that He died for them. Someone made it possible for each of us to know Jesus, and it’s now our responsibility to pass the message on!

The Lord wants us to have great concern for others, realizing that they live in turmoil and confusion and lack of love, and we have the answers in Him and His Word that they’re looking for. The Lord promises great returns if we’ll give unto others. “Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” (Colossians 3:24 NLT)

What a marvelous cycle! As we give to others, the Lord promises to give to us—strength, faith, and joy. As a result, others will see us and they’ll know we’ve been with Jesus, and they’ll want Him too. And so the cycle will go on and on. Praise the Lord!

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

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Looking for Inspiration

By Peter Amsterdam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

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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

For Part 3 of this series, go here. In Partnership with God—Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

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

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

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

“No!” the class shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

—Author unknown

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

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

The gravel could be things such as:

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

The sand or water could represent activities like:

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Virginia Brandt Berg

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

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.