Anchor

The Greatest Story Ever Told

By David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-anchorThe basic events, characters, and conditions of the future have already been revealed in the Bible and by His prophets, the foretellers of the future. (Ephesians 1:9; Isaiah 42:9; Numbers 12:6) God has already revealed them in His Word and prophecies—some of which have already come to pass and been fulfilled, proving that God’s Word is true. Therefore we can just as surely expect that the remaining prophecies of God’s Word about the future will be completely fulfilled, too, just as those in the past have been. (2 Chronicles 20:20b; John 16:4a; Isaiah 34:16, 40:8; Ezekiel 33:33)

There are thousands of prophecies in the Bible which have already been fulfilled, including prophecies about the history of nations, the rise and fall of empires, even the names of great kings and the amazing fulfillments of prophecies in the little land of Israel, particularly those concerning Jesus Christ, the Messiah, about whom hundreds of prophecies in the ancient writings of the prophets have all been fulfilled in His birth, life, and death for you and me. (Isaiah 44:28; Daniel 8:20–21; Isaiah 9:6; 11:1–5; 53:2–4)

His was a life of love! Born in love, living in love, and dying in love for you and me, so that we too might live in love for Him and others. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9–10; Ephesians 3:19; Romans 8:38–39; 1 John 3:16) But His story does not end there, because He rose again! And He made many other promises and predictions to His disciples before He finally ascended on high, caught up in the clouds in the air to depart to be with His Father God in heaven and His precious Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:1–7, 18–20; Mark 16:16–18; John 11:25, 26)

Before He went away, He promised His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also.” For He said that “In My Father’s house are many mansions, and if it were not so, I would have told you.” ( John 14:2–3) That place that He is going to prepare for us, that heavenly city is specifically described in detail in His holy book, the Bible, in its last book, the book of Revelation. (Revelation 21–22)

Dear John, the beloved disciple, Saint John the Revelator, described it in prophecy exactly as being 1,500 miles long, 1,500 miles wide, and 1,500 miles high—the greatest, most enormous city ever built, that could only have been built by God Himself. It is surrounded by a beautiful over-200-foot-high wall composed of 12 layers of precious jewels and having 12 gates, each gate a single gigantic pearl, and filled with beautiful dwelling places for His beloved children who have loved Him and been saved through faith in Jesus’ death for them on the cross.

Only they will be permitted to live within it, in its heavenly beauty of gorgeous splendor and paradise! Free forever from pain or sickness or death or evil, to live with Him and each other forever in eternal happiness. (Revelation 21:4; 22:5,14) Only they can walk its crystal golden streets and dwell in its gorgeous mansions in the presence of God forever. (Revelation 21:24, 27)

Each gate is guarded by a mighty angel, for outside, upon the surface of a new earth without seas but watered by rivers and lakes, there are still nations with kings, populated by people who are not yet ready to enter that beautiful city. (Revelation 21:24–26) They are not yet prepared for its purity and holiness, as they at first did not receive Jesus as their Savior because they had never heard of Him. (John 1:12; 3:16–17; Acts 4:12; 10:35; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 11:13, 16) They are the resurrected good of all ages who did not rise in the first resurrection at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the beautiful rapture of His saints, the bride of Christ, after the terrible Tribulation. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Revelation 20:4–5)

They are the unsaved dead of the first 6,000 years of world history who have been brought back to life and placed upon the earth’s new paradisiacal surface because their names were found written in the Book of Life and therefore deserve their first chance to hear the gospel of Jesus and His love and of the wonderful love of God, His Father, who created all things and made all things for our benefit and our pleasure to know and to love Him.

Here on the surface of the new earth they will be taught to know the Lord. (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; Philippians 2:10–11; Hebrews 13:14) Meanwhile, they live on this paradisiacal new earth with all of its unspoiled, re-created beauty like the Garden of Eden of old. Perfect in every respect, with no evil, no curse, no thorns, no evil varmints and poisonous serpents and insects and the horrors of the cursed earth that had gone before. (Revelation 22:3) Here in this perfect environment they are learning about Jesus and finding Christ as the Son of God. (John 14:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9–10)

But before they arrive in this beautiful paradise of God, several great periods of world history will have passed by. There was the fall from grace of man and woman, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden for disobedience in eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12–14) Driven out then into a hostile world full of curses and a difficult environment, they now must eat of their bread by the sweat of their brow, and work hard to earn a living, because they had lost the favor of the Lord through disobedience. Tempted by Satan, the king of evil, they passed on to all mankind the vicious sin of unbelief and disobedience to God. (Genesis 3:19; Hebrews 3:12, 19; 10:35–39; Romans 5:12)

Finally man became so evil that God decided that He must send a great flood of water upon the earth to destroy them all! All, that is, except one man and his family alone. That man was Noah and his wife and his three sons and their three wives. Eight souls in all were all that were saved from that great Flood, in an ark which God told Noah how to build. (Genesis 7; 1 Peter 3:20) After the Flood, over a year later, the ark landed upon the top of Mount Ararat, on the border of Turkey and Russia. And as the earth’s surface became dry enough to walk upon it, Noah and his family and all of the animals that they had saved left the ark and spread down the River Euphrates toward the Persian Gulf.

But they had not gone far or lived long before people had become evil again, this time building a mighty tower which they thought was going to reach up to heaven so that they would be like gods in their pride and their earthly might! God was angry with them for it, and He confused their tongues and their languages and divided them into all the various languages that are spoken upon the earth today. So they could no longer communicate with one another or understand each other to finish the tower. So they left off building the Tower of Babel and drifted on down the River Euphrates and began to spread out further across the surface of the earth in all directions. (Genesis 8, 11:1–9)

And it seemed the more man multiplied and populated the earth, the more wicked he became, so that they even worshipped devil gods and idols and images, and practiced worship of these demons, even including human sacrifice and the sacrifice of their own children to these false gods. (Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 17:14–17; Jeremiah 32:35; Psalm 106:35–39)

Finally God decided He had to do something about these descendants of the two creatures that He had created in the beginning. So He selected a people who would receive His words and write the Bible—the Jews of Israel—and produce the Messiah, Jesus Christ. But then again even the religious leaders of these chosen people, sons and daughters of Abraham the faithful, had the Son of God crucified, who had been sent to them only to show them love and explain God to them! They also tried to destroy His disciples. (Matthew 27:17–25; Acts 8:1) But God blessed Jesus’ disciples, and the Christians multiplied and spread throughout the earth until the gospel had finally conquered the Roman Empire, and Christianity became the official religion of the Western world. (Acts 8:4; 28:30–31)

But as the Christians became rich and powerful and corrupt, they too began to build temples to worship their God, like the temples of other gods, and developed a priesthood who wrote their own laws and rules and traditions. (Acts 7:48–50; 17:24–25; Mark 7:6–13) Again God sent great men of God and reformers such as Martin Luther to preach the truth throughout the world and reveal again the free gift of God’s salvation by grace through faith, and that not of themselves but the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast, but the free gift of salvation paid for by Jesus Christ with His blood shed on the cross of Calvary. (Romans 10:9–10; Ephesians 2:8–9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; Revelation 3:20)

These new Protestant Christians began to spread throughout the Roman Empire and throughout Europe and to North and South America and throughout the known world, until there were many Christian missionaries going to heathen nations. And there these missionaries gained many converts and won many of them with the love of God into true faith in the true Messiah, the true Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. (John 14:6; Acts 10:34–35)

However, it seemed that sin and evil will multiply even more rapidly and spread into every nation on earth. Finally the world will choose a completely godless government, an anti-Christ government and an Antichrist dictator, a false messiah who will pretend to be their savior but who will be the Devil incarnate! And he will declare that he is God and that all must worship him or die. (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4) He will establish a worldwide government and insist that there be no other religions but the worship of himself and his own image, which is set up by the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem where he is on a throne inside, claiming to be God.

This evil tyrant will then begin to persecute all who will not worship him, and kill and slaughter and martyr them, fighting great wars against the religious nations who oppose him, and trying to conquer the entire world, bringing great Tribulation to the earth. (Matthew 24:15, 21; Daniel 11:31–37; Revelation 12:13–17, 13:6–7)

But suddenly there will appear in the heavens the sign of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, and He Himself will appear in the sky in the clouds. And there will be a great shout and the trump of God and the voice of the archangels calling the people of God to “Come up hither to your heavenly reward to be with your King forever!”

Suddenly all those who had died as Christians will rise from their graves with new heavenly bodies and begin to fly skyward, followed by the living Christians, who are instantly changed in the twinkling of an eye at that last trump and will rise together with them to meet the Lord in the air—Jesus with His bride, the true church of Jesus Christ from every faith and denomination all over the world. (Matthew 24:29–31; 1 Corinthians 15:51–52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)

While they are feasting and rejoicing in their great salvation and receiving their rewards for faithfulness, having done their Master’s will, God is raining judgments and His great wrath upon the wicked left behind on the face of the earth through great scourges and plagues. The Bible says that the ungodly gnaw their tongues for pain and yet repent not of their evil deeds. ( Revelation 19:6–9; Revelation 15–16; Isaiah 13:11–13)

God mounts His children upon heavenly white horses of great power and supernatural strength, and with this mighty army of saints and angels they ride out of the heavenly city through the skies to destroy the evil empire of the Antichrist in the Battle of Armageddon! Until only the good, and the people who had resisted the Antichrist and resisted his mark are left, even though they do not yet know Jesus nor have been saved in the time previous. Yet the Lord is going to give all these living their opportunity to hear the gospel about Jesus and His love and His salvation. (Revelation 19:11–21; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; Philippians 2:10–11)

He will send His angels and His saints to rule over the earth and clean up the mess that has been left behind by the Antichrist and his reign and all of the remnants of man’s unrighteousness, to make it a new world, a cleansed earth! It is the same earth, but its surface purified and with the curse of God against evil lifted, and the Devil and his demons bound in hell for a thousand years! The earth is again restored to the beauty and perfection of the Garden of Eden. (Revelation 20:1–4) For a thousand years the earth is restored to its original beauty and purity and wonder and pleasure, so that all mankind rejoices in the kingdom of God on earth ruled by its King of kings, Jesus Christ, and His saints and angels. (Revelation 2:26–27; Revelation 5:10, 20:4)

All men still living are given an opportunity to know and love Him and to follow Him, and many are saved and regenerated, made new, living wonderful lives of righteousness and unselfishness and love for one another. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

But even in this perfect world with the perfect King of kings, there are many who still reject Him and resent Him and desire to go their own willful, wicked ways, as they had before. So that at the end of that thousand years, many will still not be regenerated and have rejected the Lord and resented His will. (Isaiah 26:10) So He allows Satan to be loosed from the pit of hell and to come back with his evil angels to go abroad through the earth and deceive as many men and nations as he possibly can, until Satan gathers followers from all nations to follow after him in a great war against the saints of God, the rulers of the earth.

God again rescues His saints from the earth, but this time He finishes off Satan and his followers and demons once and for all and forever, and destroys the surface of the earth and all of Satan’s evil rebels with a great flood of fire which completely burns up the surface of the earth and its atmosphere, the polluted heavens and junk-filled space. (Revelation 20:7–10; 2 Peter 3:10–13)

Then He renews the earth and completely remakes it into a new earth, more beautiful and more perfect than ever. (Revelation 21:1–5; Isaiah 60:19–22, 65:17–25)

Once the surface of the earth is purified and made perfect again, the Lord will see fit to permit His beautiful heavenly city to descend from the heavens and settle upon the earth, so that His habitation could be with His beloved people on this new earth in the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city—their home forever. (Revelation 21:2; Hebrews 12:22–23)

In the great White Throne Judgment of God, He has raised from the dead all of the other people of the earth who have ever died, and, sending the wicked to hell, He saves the righteous to live upon the surface of the earth to learn about Him and His love and His Son Jesus and His wonderful salvation from sin so that they too might be saved. (John 10:16, 27–29; Acts 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:10; 2:7)

And all the saved peoples of the earth and heaven live happily with the Lord and His angels in the beautiful paradise of the new earth and the city of God with Him forever in an eternity of love and life eternal. (Revelation 22:3–5)

That is very briefly the story of God and the earth and man’s history and the endtime of man’s rule on earth, and the establishment of the kingdom of God in the thousand years called the Millennium, and that final destruction of the surface of the earth and its atmosphere and all its pollutions and evil in a flood of fire, only to be remade anew for God and His children and their heavenly city forever!

However, many of the details and actual experiences of His children during some of these periods have not been made completely clear. Some of these secrets have not yet been revealed, of the experiences that we are actually going to live through and feel and see in the wonderful world yet to come. (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 13:12)

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

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Anchor

Patience and God’s Plans
A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSuppose you … simply don’t know what God wants you to do here and now. Don’t give up on yourself or God. God is answering you, but his answer for now is: Wait. God will fulfill all his promises, but in his time. He gave us promises, not timetables. He’s a lover, not a train.

Patience is the art of waiting. It is not necessarily the art of waiting patiently. Job is a famous example of patience, and of the distinction between patient waiting and waiting patiently. Poor Job cannot discern the meaning of his sufferings. He does not know what he has done (to provoke God to let him suffer so), nor what he can do (to find God or to understand his situation). He searches for thirty-seven agonizing chapters, without finding God, or answers, or comfort. Yet he holds on, and hopes. That is his patience.

I used to think that only those who never read his book could call Job patient. I thought Job was the most impatient man in the Bible. But then I realized that the Bible itself calls Job patient, (James 5:10–11) so I had to rethink what patience meant. I concluded that it did not necessarily mean a calm emotional state, for Job certainly didn’t have that, yet Job had patience, according to James. So patience has to be something deeper than an emotional state.

I think patience is simply waiting, enduring, holding on. This is all some of us can do. But it is enough. When you can do nothing but hang on and keep trying and losing, or suffering and dying, know that that is something more precious than winning—that is patience.

God had patience with us. He stuck it out with us. He stayed with us, even after we rejected him. It’s the least we can do for him when he seems to forsake us, as he seemed to reject Job, because he has promised us that he will never leave us or forsake us, no matter how much our situation seems to tell us that he has. Faith believes God’s promises, beyond appearances. Faith holds on, like an anchor, even in the murky depths, even when discernment and light are not possible. Discernment is not always necessary, but faith is.

On the last day, when God calls the rolls, when he gets to your name he will ask, like your old grade school teachers, Present? Are you still here? Are you still with me? If you can honestly answer yes, if you are “present,” if you are still seeking God and his righteousness, then you will have all other things added unto you, including the gift of discernment. All the things you failed to discern during your time on earth, you will discern in the light of eternity. In this life, discernment sheds a little light on the future; in the next life, it will shine Godlight on the past.

—Peter Kreeft

 
Waiting and learning patience

Look at the examples in the Bible of patience: Job, Moses, and David!

Job lost everything: his family, fortune, and finally his health! But he just kept on believing and obeying, saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15) He hung on and would not give up. “The patience of Job” ( James 5:11) served as an inspiring example for generations to come.

When Moses was in a hurry to deliver the children of Israel, he killed an Egyptian and had to flee alone for his own life. But after 40 years of patiently, humbly tending sheep in the wilderness, with time to listen to the voice of God instead of his own impulses, he was finally ready for the slow, laborious, patient work of the Exodus—slow, but sure!

David spent 17 years working under King Saul, and the Lord taught him important lessons as he watched how Saul tried to do things in his own strength, without waiting on the Lord, and he found he wasn’t strong enough. David learned that you have to wait for God.

Learning patience is one of God’s most frequent lessons to us all. So “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)

—David Brandt Berg

 
His master plans

In 2007, the Netherlands instituted a two-hundred-year plan for adapting to and preparing for climate change. With two-thirds of the Dutch population living below sea level, changes in climate can have a drastic and tragic effect on this nation—hence the extreme caution. The plan, from my understanding, consists of 20 billion dollars being put toward the research and construction of better water defenses along their shoreline—the scope of this plan reaches till the year 2200. Their reason for this elaborate plan is simple: without it, due to changes in climate—and greater risk of floods—there is no guarantee that the Netherlands will continue to exist in 200 years unless such measures are taken now.

There is someone else, though, who leaves all other plans and planners in the dust. In Acts 17:26 the apostle Paul talks about a plan that encompasses every plan ever made. He said, “From one man, [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” In other words, from the very beginning, God had a plan: the act of creation wasn’t haphazard. God wasn’t in need of something to do on a Sunday afternoon, so bang—the earth! There is an overarching plan that is being played out every day of mankind’s existence on planet earth.

But there’s something even more personally awesome in this for you and me: every human put on earth was an intentional act of creation. God is a planner; He has plans for everyone. King David affirms about God, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16 NIV) And in a talk Job gives describing God’s nature, Job says to God, “You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.” (Job 14:5 NLT)

Imagine God planning out Moses’ life. Chapter One doesn’t have Moses parting the Red Sea; it actually doesn’t even start with Moses receiving God’s directives at the burning bush on Mount Horeb. There are roughly 80 years’ worth of chapters and pages that come before either of those events. When studying Moses’ life it’s easy to marvel at the 40 years Moses spent tending sheep—we think of how patient he must have been at the end of that ordeal. I’m realizing now that it was really God who exercised patience in this story. Imagine creating a character and knowing that he’d only be ready to do what you wanted him to do 80 years after his creation.

Somehow, I’m comforted at the realization of God as a planner. Here’s why: even if you feel like nothing is happening for you right now, and it’s hard to wait, it could be that you’re only at the beginning pages of God’s plan for your life and the really great stuff is on page 492. Or perhaps your “awesome” is a life simply filled with days lived well and to God’s glory. Whatever the case may be, the great thing about God’s plans for you is that even when nothing seems to be happening on the surface, God has all these intricate plans going on. His Spirit is at work even on ordinary days. His Spirit is working in your life toward you reaching page 492 of your book, and beyond that page as well.

In a letter to the Romans, Paul calls God “the God of patience.” (Romans 15:5) God is described as patient and longsuffering in the Bible; it’s one of the characteristics attributed to Him. If God was that patient with His plan for Moses, and His plans for all of mankind, I’m thinking it’s not a far stretch to imagine that God wants us to also be patient with what He is doing in our lives. If God believes we’re worth the wait, then we should believe that, too.

—T.M.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Becoming Your Best You—Part 1
From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorOur lives are the result of the choices we make each day. Every day is a chance to make decisions that will guide our future. Every day is a chance to make decisions to perform the tasks before us with a commitment to excellence, or decisions to invest the minimal effort necessary and to settle for mediocrity.

We consciously make decisions each day whether to pursue life in a mediocre way, doing only the minimum necessary, or to rise to the occasion, work hard, and make our goals a reality. Every one of us can just sleepily live life half throttle, being content to drag ourselves through life, one lazy, uneventful day at a time. Or we can attain new levels of success by vigorously evaluating and improving our life, day by day, week by week, year by year.

Let’s explore how to deal mediocrity a lethal, below-the-belt blow, and in so doing, put ourselves in a better position for a life of fulfillment.

 
We each choose

We make many choices every day, one after the other after the other that ultimately set the course for our lives and future. The quality of our lives doesn’t just appear like magic. The magic lies in making good choices that will set us on the right course for the future. But not only that, it’s in realizing that our choices will ultimately shape what our lives become. Will they be full of passion, commitment, and determination, in spite of the bad stuff that comes our way? Will we take advantage of opportunities and progress, even if our resources and finances are limited?

Your choices will ultimately guide the path of your life. That’s a pretty amazing concept, but it’s true. We each determine how circumstances will affect us by the decisions we make in response to our circumstances.

This is sometimes a difficult concept to accept, as often we want the circumstances to change before we’re willing to make the right choices. Yet if we can embrace it, our lives can change regardless of our circumstances, if we choose to commit these to God and trust in His plan for our lives. We will begin to feel more empowered, less victimized, and that the Lord is in control of our lives.

When we feel trapped and as if we aren’t making our own choices, we feel like victims. From time to time, many of us fall into the trap of believing that our circumstances are entirely beyond our control, and that there is no use in attempting to change them. Taking responsibility for the choices that we can make, however, takes us out of the victim mentality and into an empowering “all things are possible with God” mindset.

Contrary to popular opinion, God does not usually choose for us. We have to choose for ourselves, find His will for ourselves, and seek Him diligently to know His will. This is why He put us here, this is what we’re here to learn, and the major part of our training: how to make the right decisions through our personal contact with Him, our knowledge of His Word and His will, and our love for Him and others. We must do what we know is right, and be willing to live and to die for what we know is the truth.

But as He says, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Be sure you’re right, and then go ahead and do what you know is right, no matter what anybody says, and not because anyone has said it, but because you yourself are personally convinced it’s God’s will.

—David Brandt Berg

If we accept that we are responsible for our own choices, then we won’t blame others or our circumstances for any difficulties or hardships that arise from those choices. We’ll take responsibility for our lives—how we live, how we fulfill the Great Commission, and how we make a living—which will ultimately be a reflection of the decisions we make each day.

 
The role of discipline

It’s pretty easy to decide that we want to be successful at whatever we choose to pursue in life and to set lofty goals for where we want to be in a few years. But it’s much more difficult to actually get there. Accomplishment is not just about thinking, wishing, hoping, or even planning. It’s about doing! Planning is important, but a great plan and a tremendous destination is not much help if we never get started, persevere, and work to reach that destination. It takes self-discipline to get to where we want to go and achieve what we want to achieve. We have to evaluate our life, our priorities, our schedule, our off-hours, and take a good, hard look at what we are doing that is not productive, so we can change what needs to be changed, and then commit to the self-discipline needed to reach those goals.

We each need to kick our own butt! What a concept! This means that if we want to achieve success in life, in any endeavor, it’s going to require self-discipline. Achieving our goals is not necessarily synonymous with just taking life as it comes. If we want to mature and grow and reach our goals, if we want to pursue a profession or career or field of study, or devote ourselves to the mission; if we want to be responsible and make a difference, then self-discipline will be an important quality to cultivate.

If you never seem to be reaching your goals, or worse, if you don’t have any goals, there is something you can do about it. You can kick your own butt.

This takes developing self-discipline. Self-discipline—a bad word? No. It might be a painful or uncomfortable word, but really, it’s a powerful word when you consider that discipline is a key to achieving success. Self-discipline is not easy. It can be hard, even grueling. But if you want to be all you can be, if you want to be your best you, that’s the price.

Discipline derives from disciple—disciple to a philosophy, disciple to a set of principles, disciple to a set of values, disciple to an overriding purpose, to a goal or a person who represents that goal.

In other words, if you are an effective manager of yourself, your discipline comes from within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a follower of your own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, and your moods to those values.

One of my favorite essays is “The Common Denominator of Success,” written by Albert E. N. Gray. He spent his life searching for the one denominator that all successful people share. He found it wasn’t hard work, good luck, or astute human relations, though those were all important. The one factor that seemed to transcend all the rest [was] putting first things first.

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” Mr. Gray observed. “[Successful people] don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”

—Stephen R. Covey

The good news is that the better you get at self-discipline, the easier it becomes.

No one who achieves greatness does so without discipline. [But] … when you discipline yourself to do the things you need to do, when you need to do them, the day’s going to come when you can do the things you want to do, when you want to do them. It’s also true that life is tough, but when you are tough on yourself, life will be infinitely easier on you.

Discipline yourself today so you can have a better life tomorrow.

—Zig Ziglar

Success is rarely luck. Sure, there is the rare case when someone just happens to be at the right place at the right time and stumbles onto a gold mine. But for most of us, success in whatever goals we set for ourselves comes as a result of self-discipline and methodical plodding, so that when an opportunity presents itself, we are in the position to reach out and grab hold of it.

In his book, The Life God Blesses, Gordon MacDonald tells a story about his experiences on the track team at the University of Colorado in the late fifties. In particular, he remembers the difficult workouts he did with a teammate named Bill. “To this day I have anguished memories of our workouts each Monday afternoon,” says Gordon. “When those Monday workouts ended, I would stagger in exhaustion to the locker room.” But Bill was different. When he was finished, he would rest on the grass near the track. But after about 20 minutes, while Gordon showered, Bill repeated the entire workout!

Bill didn’t consider himself to be an exceptional athlete in college. “I was not a great athlete,” observed Bill. “But I had a ‘bag of tricks theory,’ that is, there is no one big move you can make in your training or in competition, but there are thousands of little things you can do.”

Bill might not have made a great impact during his college years, but his discipline and desire paid off over time. Through disciplined effort and continual improvement, the unspectacular college athlete who had worked out with Gordon MacDonald became the world-famous athlete, Bill Toomey, the decathlete inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984.

What elevated Bill to such high accomplishments was his discipline. Gordon MacDonald’s insight says it all: “The difference between the two of us began on Monday afternoons during workout. He was unafraid of discipline and did the maximum; I was afraid of discipline and did the minimum.”

—John C. Maxwell

 
“I don’t have time…”

One of our most common excuses is “I don’t have time.” We’ve all said that on numerous occasions. And at first glance, this might seem like a solid excuse. It’s true we are busy.

But how are we spending our time? Let’s look at an everyday example: watching TV. According to a recent survey, Americans now watch an average of five hours of television every day, 35 hours a week. The average American television viewer is watching more than 151 hours of television per month. If someone works 40 hours a week—the average American work week—that means they spend almost as much time watching television as working.

Okay, let’s say we don’t watch that much television. But what about computer games? Blogging and chatting online? Surfing the internet? If we add up those hours, how do we fare?

You’ve probably heard the concept that if you devote one hour a day to studying a topic, after about 10,000 hours, or in about five years, you’ll be a master or expert. What do each of us want to be an expert at? Does how we spend our time prove that?

Do we read and study to become the professional that we want to become? If we’re not reading and studying on our particular field of interest or what we’re hoping to excel in, then it’s likely we’re not reaching our full potential.

Consider this example:

Before becoming a full-time writer, John Grisham was a lawyer. Like most successful lawyers, he put in long hours at the office, often 60 hours a week, sometimes 80! Despite his grueling schedule, Grisham wanted more than anything to write a novel.

However, Grisham had countless ready-made excuses as to why he could NOT write a book, excuses like the fact he had no “creative” writing experience, that he had obligations to his wife and two kids, that he didn’t have time because he was working 10-hour days, six days a week, that he was under incredible stress at work.

But Grisham knew that he had a choice. He could either find reasons TO write a novel or he could find reasons NOT TO write a novel and then justify to himself why he couldn’t do it. Fortunately, Grisham chose to find reasons TO write his first novel.

He wrote his first book, A Time to Kill, by making one simple adjustment in his life. He started getting up at 5:00 a.m. and working on his novel. In effect, he didn’t have time to write. So he made the time by getting up a couple of hours earlier each day. Less than one year later, Grisham had a completed manuscript to send to publishers.

Only one problem. The first publisher said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” So did the second, and the third, and the fourth, and so on. But Grisham was determined, so he kept submitting his book until, finally, publisher number 26 said, “yes!”

The publisher had so little faith in the book that only 5,000 copies were printed. At the time it seemed like 4,000 too many! The book was a flop.

So Grisham made another choice. He bought 1,000 copies and decided to market the book himself. It took months before his habit of giving talks and signing books on weekends began to pay off.

Word of mouth kept building and building until, finally, after nearly a year’s worth of weekend personal appearances, John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, exploded onto the best-seller list, where it stayed for 100 weeks! To date there are more than 10 million copies of Grisham’s first novel in print.

Grisham was able to accomplish what he did because he changed his habits. … Grisham’s new habit of getting up at 5:00 a.m. allowed him to accomplish a lifelong dream. The habit of adding two productive hours a day can make a world of difference; over the span of a year, you could add 15 work weeks of productive time to each and every year of your life.

—Burke Hedges, adapted

Having self-discipline pays off over time. This can happen in our lives as well.

With self-discipline most anything is possible.

—Theodore Roosevelt

 

With God all things are possible.

—Jesus, Matthew 19:265

 

 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Would You Like to Know Your Future?

free-bible-studies-online-would-you-like-to-know-your-future

David Brandt Berg

The Bible and the Words of God’s Prophets are actually the only real NEWSpapers, or NEWSbooks, in the World!–All other newspapers tell you what ALREADY happened YESTERDAY, so they’re not really NEWS papers, they’re HISTORY papers! But the BIBLE tells us what is GOING to happen TOMORROW! It is full of thousands of detailed PROPHECIES, actually describing specific people, places, times, situations and events thousands of years before they came into being! (Isaiah 34:16; 42:9; 2Peter 1:19-21.)

Many of these prophecies are about the FINAL period of World history, just before Jesus returns to stop all of today’s wickedness and to set up His Own Kingdom of Love and Peace on Earth. These last final days of Man’s kingdoms on Earth are known in the Bible as the “TIME OF THE END”, the “LATTER DAYS”, the “LAST DAYS”, etc.–the time in which YOU and I are NOW living! (Daniel 2: 28; 8:23; 12:4.)

When Jesus’ Disciples wanted to know the future and asked Him, “What shall be the SIGN of THY COMING and of the END of the World?”, He didn’t reply with only one sign, but with DOZENS! In fact, the Bible gives us HUNDREDS of “signs of the times”, signs and signals that we are to look out for so that we can know exactly HOW close to the very End we are! (Matthew 24:All)

These signs include: A dramatic upsurge in “famines, pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places” (Matthew 24:7), “the Gospel being preached in ALL the World for a witness to ALL nations” (Matthew 24:14), a drastic increase in international travel, with “many running to and fro, wandering from sea to sea, as knowledge is greatly increased”. (Daniel 12:4; Amos 8:11,12)–A great “falling away” (2Thessalonians 2:3) from the Lord as “evil men and seducers grow worse and worse, deceiving many”. (2Timothy 3:13)–“The love of many growing cold” (Matthew 24:12), resulting in “distress of nations upon the Earth and men’s hearts failing them for fear”! (Luke 21:25,26)–Signs which are all obviously being fulfilled TODAY more than ever before!

One of the most important and final signs of the VERY END that many Prophets predicted is the rise of a totally Godless ANTI-CHRIST WORLD GOVERNMENT led by a demonic dictator who will be possessed by SATAN himself! This man will come to power with a 7-YEAR AGREEMENT, a COVENANT (which COULD be in effect secretly already!) in which he will promise the World peace and religious freedom, and will settle the Mideast crisis, working out a compromise between the Jews and the Arabs to enable the Jews to reinstitute their traditional Temple worship in Jerusalem. (Daniel 8:23-25; 2Thessalonians 2:1-4; Daniel 9:27) Also, the World is ABOUT to go through a great ECONOMIC CRASH!–And HE will promise to RESTORE the economy!

For awhile, most of the World is going to think that this man, the Antichrist, is wonderful, as he will have brought peace, restored the World’s economy, solved the Mideast crisis, etc. But suddenly, toward the end of his reign, after having BROKEN the Covenant, he will INVADE ISRAEL from the NORTH, and will forbid and abolish all traditional religious worship, declaring that HE himself is GOD and demanding that all the World worship HIM! (Daniel 9:27; 8:9-12; 11:21-24,28-31,36; 2Thessalonians 2:3,4,8,9)

At this time he will place an idol, an IMAGE of HIMSELF, in the Temple, an “ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION” which could very likely be some kind of a computerised robot or telecommunications system for his Antichrist regime, as it will SPEAK and somehow even cause those who refuse to worship it to be KILLED! Jesus Himself said that when you SEE this Image, this Abomination of Desolation, standing there in the Temple, THEN would begin a time of “GREAT TRIBULATION”! (Daniel 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 13:14,15.)

During the last part of the Antichrist’s reign, people won’t use paper money any more because the Antichrist government is going to set up a ONE-WORLD-CREDIT SYSTEM, and all members of the System who reject Jesus and worship this Antichrist will be issued a credit number, marked in their HANDS or FOREHEADS! The Antichrist government will use this new credit system to try to force everybody to either worship the Antichrist or starve to death, because no one will be able to BUY or SELL without this number or “MARK of the BEAST”!–But GOD’S CHILDREN will REFUSE to worship him or receive his Mark!–And the LORD will take CARE of us, even if He has to drop manna from Heaven to feed us! (Revelation 13:16-18; 12:6,14)

And while the Antichrist and his followers are persecuting and trying to get God’s children, God is going to let loose PESTILENCES and PLAGUES and even strange MONSTERS which will ATTACK these wicked people of the Devil! These days of the Tribulation will be like the last days of the children of Israel in Egypt!–God’s prophets will be doing great and mighty SIGNS, WONDERS and MIRACLES to defend the Gospel and God’s children! (Revelation 7:3; 9:1-11; 11:3-6.)

Near the END of the Tribulation period, 10 “KINGS” will join the Antichrist and together they will DESTROY and “devour with fire BABYLON, the GREAT WHORE”.–A final judgement which, according to many Scriptures, sounds like the 10 leading nations of EUROPE, such as we find in the EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY, uniting with RUSSIA and turning on AMERICA in a nuclear first-strike that will destroy her in ONE HOUR! (Daniel 11:38,39,43; Revelation 17:12,16,17; 18:1-10,17-19.)

The Antichrist’s worldwide suppression and persecution of all who refuse to worship him, plus the horrific Nuclear War, will make this Great Tribulation period a time of TROUBLE such as the World has never known! In fact, Jesus said, “Except those days be shortened (come to an end), there should no flesh be saved. But for the elect’s (Christians’) sake, those days shall be shortened (come to an end).” (Matthew 24:21,22)

Right at the END of the Last 7 Years, just when the fiendish Antichrist thinks he has the World in his grasp, then suddenly–BOOM!–Like a bolt from the blue, JESUS will RETURN and snatch all of His children out of this World! Just after that DARKEST NIGHT in World History we are going to have the BRIGHTEST DAWN!–Jesus is going to come back and rescue His Own, His Church, His people, EVERYONE who loves Him and knows Him and has Him in their hearts! (Matthew 24:29-31)

All of the Christians who have ALREADY died and gone on to be with Jesus will come back with Him to pick up their new, resurrection bodies!–And “the Earth shall cast out her dead!” (Isaiah 26:19) Then we who are alive and remain, having miraculously survived and kept witnessing for Jesus throughout the Antichrist’s reign of terror, will instantly be changed, TRANSFORMED, as we receive our new, miraculous, powerful, supernatural, resurrection bodies–just like JESUS’ body after HE was resurrected!–And up we’ll sail towards the sky, “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we EVER be with the Lord!” (1Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:21.)

All of our anti-Christ enemies will be SHOCKED as they see the Lord coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory, lighting up the whole sky like permanent lightning!–The powers of the Heavens shaken!–The Lord descending with a great shout!–A terrific blast on the trumpet of God!–Graves of the Saints bursting open as the dead are raised!–And all of God’s children who are still alive transformed before their eyes, flying upwards to meet Jesus! “EVERY eye shall SEE Him and ALL the kindreds of the Earth shall WAIL because of Him!” (Matthew 24:27-31; Revelation 1:7.)

Jesus will come back to catch His Bride, His Church, out of the evil clutches of the Enemy and then whisk us away to the grandest, most glorious and thrilling wedding party that’s ever been held, the great MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB in Heaven!–At which time we will feast our eyes upon the spectacle of God’s Judgements being poured out upon the unrepentant, wicked World below! Right after the Lord has rescued and raptured us to be with Him, the horrific Vials of the great WRATH OF GOD are going to be poured out upon the Antichrist and his people in horrible, terrible PLAGUES such as the World has never known! (Revelation 19: 6-9; 14:14-20; 16:11-21.)

God’s going to pour out His Judgements and horrors and Wrath upon the Antichrist and his forces to punish and sock it to them with what they deserve!–Until the FINAL Wrath of all, when the wicked gather together at ARMAGEDDON in Israel to try to fight the remaining nations of Earth, who though unsaved, are still trying to resist his evil rule! Then JESUS HIMSELF, along with His resurrected, glorified, Heavenly forces, will return to Earth again on majestic white chargers out of Heaven to utterly defeat and destroy the Antichrist and utterly annihilate his forces in the supernatural, catastrophic BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON, and to rescue the unsaved people who were opposing him! Though they were never saved, Jesus will mercifully allow them to live on into the coming Golden Age of the Millennium so they can have a chance to know Him and believe on Him! (Revelation 9:13-21; 16:12-16; 19:11-21; 17:14; 16:12-21; Daniel 12:12.)

Then we, the Saints of God, along with our King Jesus Christ, will TAKE OVER the World and ORGANISE it and RULE it and RUN it the way it SHOULD have been run if Man had yielded to God! We’re going to set up the Kingdom of God on Earth and restore the Earth to the beauty of the Garden of Eden again! This amazing period will last for ONE THOUSAND YEARS and therefore it is known as THE MILLENNIUM! (Daniel 2:44; 7:18,26,27; Revelation 20:4)

He says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the FIRST Resurrection (the Rapture): On such the second death hath no power, but they shall be PRIESTS of God and of Christ, and shall REIGN with Him a THOUSAND YEARS!” (Revelation 20:6) Jesus also promised to His faithful ones, “He that OVERCOMETH, and KEEPETH My works unto the End, to him will I give POWER over the NATIONS (of surviving unsaved people): And he shall RULE them with a ROD OF IRON (authority).” (Revelation 2:26,27)

The DEVIL will be BOUND and cast as a prisoner into the Bottomless Pit for this Thousand Year period, and GOD is going to be SUPREME and JESUS will REIGN from shore to shore and WE will rule and reign WITH Him!–And those who live on into the Millennium will be FORCED to do what’s right and forced to obey for a thousand years! Then and ONLY then, under the supreme and powerful rule and reign of Christ and God’s children, will all wars finally cease and the World will at last be governed fairly and well with TRUE justice, liberty, peace, plenty and happiness for ALL! (Revelation 20:1-3; Isaiah 2:2-4; Psalm 22:27,28; 42:2,3,7,8)

The CURSE will be partially LIFTED, which will mean a lot of different and better conditions.–The Earth will be like it was during the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden! “And NOTHING shall HURT nor DESTROY in all His holy Kingdom!”–No more stinking automobiles belching fumes, nor big smokey smoke-belching factories! The World is going to go back to animal transportation and carriages and wagons and beautiful, majestic, wind-powered sailing vessels! (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:2O-25)

During the Millennium, WE–the born-again, saved, resurrected Saints–will be in our new SUPERNATURAL BODIES, with amazing miraculous powers such as indestructibility, no pain, sickness or death, but power to destroy enemies at a thought or a glance or a motion, the abilities to appear and disappear, fly, change our appearance into inscrutable disguises to spy on our enemies and invade their most secret hideouts and even their very thoughts with our mind-reading ability and x-ray eyes to see through walls and across vast stretches of distance to detect their plans and operations! Meanwhile we can communicate with each other by mental telepathy without speaking a word, even over great distances, etc., whereas our enemies will have none of these advantages, so it will be fairly easy to rule over them with the wisdom, power, justice and love of Jesus and His personal leadership!

But the REST of the World, those who have been spared and blessed enough to survive into the Millennium, are going to still be in their old NATURAL bodies. EVERYONE on Earth will SEE His glorious power and Kingdom and EVERYBODY will believe THEN! So there won’t be any UNBELIEVERS, but I’m afraid there will still be some UNRECEIVERS who won’t yield and won’t obey and will STILL be stubborn and rebellious and defiant! These wicked rejectors will probably move to distant corners of the Earth in order to live independent of Jesus’ benign rule, and as long as they do not bother the receivers–the GOOD citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom–we will leave them to their own devices. (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 29:18, 19;32:1; 4O:5)

Then, as a final TEST and a final SIFTING, at the end of the Millennium, Satan is going to be RELEASED from his prison in the heart of the Earth for a “little season”, just long enough to deceive the unconverted wicked who have rejected Christ’s Kingdom of Love. These rebels will again follow him to the full, in open rebellion against the Lord and His Government, and will attack “the Camp of the Saints”, the normal Earthlings who are citizens of Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom. This will result in the catastrophic BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG, at which point God is so fed up with them that He just sends down FIRE out of Heaven to DEVOUR them COMPLETELY! (Psalm 2:All; Isaiah 26:9-11; Revelation 2O:7-1O.)

In fact, He will cause SUCH a horrible fire to come down that it will completely wipe out the entire Earth and the heavens shall be rolled back like a scroll and depart with a great noise! It’s all going to explode and be burned up, and the entire surface of this planet is going to be completely melted. After the World has been totally cleansed, it will be RECREATED into a beautiful NEW Earth! (2Peter 3:1O-13)

After this climactic Battle of Gog and Magog, all the UNsaved of all ages will be resurrected for the final GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT! All of the UNSAVED DEAD will finally be raised to stand before God Himself in the final Judgement in which “the books are opened”, and they will all be given their final sentences according to their works and will be assigned to their final places in the hereafter. (Revelation 2O:11-15) God’s great Heavenly SPACE CITY will then DESCEND from above to the beautiful, recreated, Garden-of-Eden-like NEW EARTH!–And God Himself will dwell WITH us right here on Earth! It will be like God taking over the World by invading it from Outer Space–bringing down His Heavenly City and restoring Himself as the King of kings forever! This great Space City is 1,5OO MILES LONG, 1,5OO MILES WIDE and 1,5OO MILES HIGH!–The greatest space vehicle ever created, the most wonderful Spaceship ever conceived, built by the LORD and on its way down to Earth now! (Revelation 21:All!)

The ENTIRE “CITY is PURE GOLD, like unto CLEAR GLASS”! (Revelation 21:18) It’s like clear golden-colored glass, a beautiful CRYSTAL GOLD! So you’ll be able to see out of the City through those transparent walls, out onto a beautiful, fully-restored and recreated New Earth which will be populated by NEW NATIONS and kings and peoples who will then learn the righteousness, goodness and love of God, even though they will be OUTSIDE the Golden City and its jewelled walls! (Revelation 21:1,24-26)

It will be a BETTER WORLD then with BETTER PEOPLE who will have learned their lessons of the law of the Love of God and will be happier than ever before, because at last they will be purged and purified of their sins of rebellion against Him and healed by the LEAVES of the TREES OF LIFE which WE shall minister to them from where they grow by the RIVER OF LIFE within the City! (Revelation 22:1,2)

Only the MOST wicked of all, such as Satan, the Antichrist, his False Prophet and their most ardent Christ-rejecting followers, will have been sent to the Lake of Fire to be punished and purged of their diabolical rebelliousness! If they repent even there, perhaps they may be released and allowed to live on the surface of the New Earth. But if they do NOT repent, God may see fit to just completely DESTROY them! (Revelation 21:8; 22:14,15; Philippians 2:1O,11; 1Timothy 2:4; Ephesians 1:1O; 2Peter 2:12)

Some of this may be a shock to you, but it’s the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD! You can read it in the Bible for yourself if you wish, if you truly want to know the things that will shortly come to pass and if you hunger for the righteousness of God and thirst for His living waters that bring Eternal Life through His Love and the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ! For He has promised that if you DO, you TOO shall be filled and satisfied to overflowing upon others who need Him also! Hallelujah! (John 5:29; Acts 17:11; Matthew 5:6.)

So if YOU want a NEW WORLD and a NEW LIFE under a new GOOD GOVERNMENT by GOD HIMSELF and would even like to help run it with peace and plenty and happiness for all, why not ASK JESUS into YOUR HEART today and JOIN US NOW and work with us to tell the World of His Love and show them what a wonderful World it’s going to be from the Bible and your own happy smiling face and heavenly living together in love, a present-day sample of the Heaven to come! (John 1:12; Revelation 3:2O; Matthew 5:16.)

Prepare for the future TODAY by receiving Jesus NOW! Simply pray,

“Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive me for all my sins. Help me to love and live for You, to hunger for Your Truth, to learn Your Word and to tell others about Your Love.–In Jesus’ name, amen.”

 

 

 

Source: Would You Like to Know Your Future?

 

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

The Windows of Heaven!

A dramatisation of Malachi 1:6-14; 3:6-12; Nehemiah 10:35-39; 12:44-47; 13:4-13

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

free-bible-studies-online-the-windows-of-heaven

The sky was dark and gloomy, and turbulent clouds rolled over the dry Judean hills as a man came striding down a rough slope through the tall dry grass, leading a heavily-laden donkey behind him. With him was a young lad with a basket in his hand. The man was thin, almost gaunt, and he clutched his rough mantle tightly around himself to keep out the wind. As they came around a giant boulder, ahead of them in the darkened valley was a small village. At its edge was a collection of farmhouses huddled together.

In a few moments they arrived at the door of a humble little mud house. A couple of dry trees, their bare branches rattling in the wind, stood in the yard. From inside the house came the sound of voices. Tying his donkey, the man lifted the heavy baskets off its back. Entering the small dwelling, he found a crowd of people dressed in tattered clothing and a young Levite was reading to them from a worn old scroll.

Looking up from his reading, he greeted them: “Malachi! Little Johanan! What a nice surprise! And what is this you have?”

Setting the basket down, Malachi greeted him and answered, “Grain, fruit, dried figs, a side of lamb!–And there’s more outside.”

“But you already brought your TITHE a few weeks ago!” the Levite responded.

“Yes! And this is a FREEWILL offering above that!” Malachi smiled. We had it to spare and thought you might need it.”

“NEED it?! My good man!–You are an answer to our PRAYERS!” he exclaimed as he and his young wife went to help bring in the rest of the produce. “Why, you are one of the few families who are faithful to give!”

Outside the house, he whispered gravely to Malachi, “These days, most people give very few freewill gifts!–Let alone faithfully give one-tenth of their goods in a tithe. When the poor, the widows, the orphans and the strangers come to me, I offer them what few crumbs I can, but it’s very little. But I can still read to them from God’s Word, so they come for that.”

Malachi pounded the wall and turned away, shaking his head. “And you’re doing such a GOOD job, Eleazar! It’s not right that the people don’t give to you as they should when you’ve dedicated your life to serving the Lord and helping others! I mean, are we the Lord’s people or are we not? If people truly love Him, why do they not give to His servants as they’ve been told to?”

“Papa,” little Johanan asked, “is EVERYONE supposed to tithe like WE do?”

“Yes, they are!” his father answered. “The Lord richly blesses His people, gives them rich harvests and protects them all year round, and He has requested that we, in return, give Him a mere one-tenth of all the increase that He has blessed us with.

“The Lord commanded: ‘Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase that your fields produce.–A tithe of everything from the land BELONGS to the LORD; it is HOLY to the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 14:22; Leviticus 27:3O)

“If it’s GOD’S, then why do we give it to the LEVITES?” the little lad asked.

“That’s HOW we give it to GOD,” Malachi answered, smiling at Eleazar. “Because the Levites are SERVING GOD full-time, every day. So the Lord said, ‘I give to the Levites all the tithes that the Israelites present to the Lord, in return for the WORK they do while SERVING Me!’ (Numbers 18:21,24) The Lord also said, ‘Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in the land.’ (Deuteronomy 12:19)–But look at dear Eleazar. He’s skinny as a rail. He barely has enough for himself and his wife, let alone to give to others!”

“Really … we manage to …” Eleazar began to protest humbly.

“Nonsense!” Malachi replied. “How can you keep on serving the LORD if the Lord’s PEOPLE don’t help you by giving as they should? We OWE it to you! As He said in His Word, ‘It is your WAGES for your WORK!'” (Numbers 18:21)–And you shouldn’t be too shy to ask for your WAGES, should you?”

Eleazar looked intently at Malachi and said, “What a fire and devotion you have for the Lord! One would almost think that you were…well…a PROPHET!”

Malachi laughed, “I’m just a man trying to do good. But tell me, I’m going down to the Temple at Jerusalem. Is there anything I can do for you or get for you there?”

“Why yes, you can!” Eleazar answered. “Would you take my tithe there with you?”

“Certainly! By all means.”

They carried the last of the produce inside his house and his wife sorted through it, setting aside one-tenth of everything they had just been given, careful to make sure that they gave the BEST of everything. They then put it in a small basket on the donkey’s back, and Malachi and his son continued down the hills toward Jerusalem.

“Papa, why did they tithe the gift we gave them?” Johanan asked. “They have so little, and yet they tithe even that. Why?”

“Because even the servants of God who serve Him fulltime are required to tithe,” (Numbers 18:25-29) Malachi answered. “So because Eleazar and his wife love the Lord, they faithfully obey and tithe to Him!”

Within a couple of hours they’d arrived in Jerusalem and made their way through the narrow streets to the Temple. Accompanied by his son, Malachi carried the small basket to the storage rooms of the Temple and gave it to the steward; then he walked through the Temple toward the inner court. An aged man with a long white beard met him there.

“My lord, Ezra!” Malachi said reverently. He pulled out a bag of coins from his belt and quietly said, “I have saved up the money as I promised, and here it is: To be dedicated to support the servants of the Lord who work on making COPIES of His WORD.”

“Thank you. May God bless you!” the old man replied. “If only MORE of the Lord’s people gave generously as you do! But I’m afraid to say that no copies of the Lord’s Word can be made now. Gifts and tithes have been so few that we just can’t support the Lord’s servants who are needed for this Work. Most of our best copiers have gone.”

“GONE? Where have they gone to?”

“Most have gone to work on farms to support themselves and have enough to eat,” the old man replied. (Nehemiah 13:1O)

Exasperated, Malachi questioned, “But when Nehemiah was here as Governor of Judah, didn’t the people PROMISE that they would faithfully tithe and give gifts to support the Lord’s Work and His servants?”

Ezra answered, “Not only that, but they signed a written statement that they would not neglect to help the Lord’s Work. But in the years since Nehemiah has been gone, the people have forgotten their promises. In fact, the storerooms are practically EMPTY.” (Nehemiah 9:38; 10:28-29,35-39)

In a tired voice, the ancient Patriarch sighed, “And now, if you will excuse me, I am very weary.” As Ezra retired to his chamber, Malachi strode sadly towards the outer courts of the Temple, his son at his side.

“How can we reproduce the Word of God if people do not support the Lord’s workers?” he asked his tiny son.

Thinking a minute, little Johanan said, “Maybe you should REMIND people to give.”

“Maybe I should!” Malachi replied.

Coming to the outer courts where people were milling about, Malachi saw one of the rich nobles of Jerusalem bringing in his tithe. Nehemiah looked at the produce and knew it could be nowhere near one-tenth of his increase. Looking closer, he could barely believe what he saw. The fruit was the worst of the harvest: Bug-eaten and small.

He saw others leading in cattle and rams to be sacrificed. To his shock he saw that most of the animals being brought in were either BLIND or CRIPPLED or DISEASED! Instead of offering the BEST of their herds and produce to the Lord in thankfulness for His blessing, people were trying to get by by giving Him their offscouring and refuse.

Malachi stood there, tears welling up in his eyes. Then suddenly the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him and he leapt up on the Temple steps and cried out, “Thus saith the Lord: ‘When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them to Me, should I accept them? Try offering them to your Governor! Would HE be pleased with you? Would HE accept it?” (Malachi 1:8)

Turning towards the rich nobleman, Malachi continued, “The Lord commanded His people, ‘Bring ALL your tithes so that the Levites, the fatherless and the widows may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may BLESS YOU in all the work of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) (See also 1Corinthians 16:2.)

“How CAN I tithe?” a fat merchant complained. “I ALREADY have to pay TAXES to the government! The ‘King’s tax’ takes up the money I WOULD have given to the Lord!”

“One-tenth of your increase BELONGS to GOD!” Malachi shouted. “You owe it to the King OF Kings, and must pay it even BEFORE the ‘King’s tax’! If you would pay God’s tithe FIRST, He would bless you and see to it that you have enough for your tax AND plenty left over for yourself!”

A farmer protested, “How can I give? The locusts and other pests have eaten the produce of my land and fruit trees! There’s barely enough to feed my family! How could I spare to give one-tenth of it to God?”

“Don’t you see?” Malachi demanded, “your LACK of giving is what BROUGHT these problems upon you in the first place! God would BLESS you and prevent the pests from devouring your crops if you would honour Him and pay Him His tithe!” (Malachi 3:11)

Many of the people were visibly moved at these words, but others were still grumbling among themselves. How easy it would be for them to receive God’s blessing, yet by selfishly WITHHOLDING and NOT paying God his 1O%, they were not only missing God’s blessing, but they were robbing Him as well!

Tears streaming down his face, Malachi prophesied, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Will a man rob GOD?–Yet you DO rob Me!'”

“Rob God!?” a devout noblewoman retorted, “how do we rob God?” (Malachi 3:8)

“In TITHES and OFFERINGS!” the Lord’s answer rang out above the crowd. “Do you wonder why your land is under a curse, why you are not as blessed as you could be? It is because you are ROBBING Me. Bring the WHOLE tithe into the storeroom, that there may be FOOD in My house!” (Malachi 3:9-1O)

Then, raising his hands upward to the heavens to where beautiful rays of golden sunlight were streaming down through a break in the dark clouds, Malachi prophesied, “‘TEST me in this:’, says the Lord. ‘TEST Me! Give your tithes and gifts and see if I will not THROW OPEN the windows of Heaven and POUR out so MANY BLESSINGS upon you that you will not have room enough to contain them!” (Malachi 3:1O)

It was a beautiful promise!–And several of the people in the crowd were moved to tears and resolved to begin tithing.

It was not long afterwards that Nehemiah, the Governor of Judah, returned. Discovering how the Lord’s Work had suffered in his absence, he set the example by tithing himself, then publicly urged the people to do so also and give to help support the servants of the Lord! Then ALL the people of Judah began giving their tithes faithfully once again, and continued to do so all the days of Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 13:6-12; 12:47)

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

(1) God has always BLESSED people for GIVING to Him and His Work. This is God’s fundamental law of economics: If you put HIM FIRST, then He blesses you for it. Jesus promised, “GIVE and it shall be GIVEN YOU!” (Luke 6:38) That’s the way God is: He loves to outgive you, and He’ll never let you outgive Him! The more you give, the more HE’LL give BACK! “Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your income. THEN your storehouses will be filled with PLENTY, and your vats will OVERFLOW with new wine!” (Proverbs 3:9,1O)

God may not always reward you in mere dollars and cents; it may be in protection, His saving you from accidents, misfortunes or serious illnesses that would have cost you a hundred times more than whatever you have given! But in whatever way it comes, He WILL reward you!

(2) God’s message through Malachi challenged the people to put HIS PROMISE to the TEST! The Lord said, “PROVE ME now (by tithing 1O% of your income) and see if I will not open up the windows of Heaven and pour out such a BLESSING that there will not be room enough to contain it!” (Malachi 3:1O)

It takes FAITH to give, because at first all you see is what you’re sacrificing.–It looks like it is going to hurt and that you’re losing, but when you do give, acting in simple faith, appreciation and thankfulness for all the Lord has already given you, then the Lord blesses you even MORE! When it comes to God and His Work, it’s good business to give to the LORD. It’s a sure investment earning the highest possible rate of INTEREST and DIVIDENDS of anything you can invest in.

(3) Like the Levites of old, we too are actively SERVING GOD FULL-TIME, and without the financial help of our friends and supporters, we would simply not be able to continue our Ministry. Even Jesus Himself had supporters who gave to help Him and His work. (Luke 8:1-3) There were people from all walks of life who, although they weren’t active full-time disciples travelling with Him in His Mission, helped by contributing whatever they could to supply Him and His disciples’ physical needs so that their vital spiritual ministry could carry on.

(4) The Apostle Paul explained, “The Levites which work in the Temple get their food FROM the Temple. In the same way, those who PREACH the Gospel should receive their living FROM the Gospel. If we have SOWN SPIRITUAL seed among you, it is only natural that we should REAP a MATERIAL harvest from you.” (1Corinthians 9:7-14)

(5) Every one of our dear friends who faithfully supports our work plays a vital role in reaching the World for Jesus! Every gift they send to help further our Worldwide missionary effort is a PART of their lives which goes out to the mission field! It is the hard-earned product of their blood, sweat and tears shed for the Lord and His Work, resulting in literally millions of souls saved–lives changed by the Love and power of God!

Would YOU like for God to open His windows of blessing on YOUR life, and to discover the joys of investing in His Work? If so, contact us today! We’d be happy to explain how, by giving on a regular basis or tithing each month, you can become a partner in the GREATEST work on Earth!–And reap ETERNAL dividends in Heaven by helping other lonely souls to find Salvation in Jesus!

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) 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

Activated

Oasis of Peace

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Six Steps of Meditative Prayer

Step 1: Choose an appropriate location. Most people find that meditation is best in quiet, uncluttered surroundings, ideally away from where they work or spend most of their waking hours. A secluded spot outside can be especially conducive. Fresh air not only renews us physically, but it also helps to illustrate how God’s Spirit can clear our minds and spirits.

Step 2: Take time to wind down. It’s nearly impossible to immediately go from the affairs of a busy day into a state of deep meditative prayer. Sometimes it helps to spend a few minutes on a transitional activity to phase out the material world, such as listening to soothing music, taking a short walk, or breathing deeply. As you try different things, you’ll find what works best for you.

Step 3: Leave your cares at His feet. If problems are distracting you and weighing you down, they’ll hinder the peace you could receive through meditation. Take a minute or two (or as long as you like) to give your present cares to Jesus in prayer. Be specific. Describe to Him what is troubling you, and ask Him to lift and bear it. Focus on God’s ability to bring solutions, rather than on the problems themselves. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Step 4: Get relaxed. Several minutes of gentle stretches and deep breathing, followed by a relaxation exercise (concentrate on relaxing your face and neck, then your entire body, part by part), can help. If you’re feeling especially tense, a shower or a bath or a short walk in nature might help you relax. Or if you’re very tired, a nap may be just the thing, because if you’re exhausted, you may not benefit as much from your time of meditation.

Step 5: Select a comfortable position. In meditation, the position of your spirit matters much more than the position of your body. You don’t have to sit a certain way—or even sit, for that matter—except of course you should be comfortable, so you can more easily focus your thoughts and mind.

Step 6: Meditate. You’ve found an appropriate spot and wound down physically. You’ve put your problems and cares into Jesus’ very capable hands. You’ve disconnected from the affairs of the day and are relaxed and comfortable. Now you’re ready to begin a time of meditation.

You might choose to focus on Jesus Himself, thinking about one of His attributes, or on some special blessing He has brought into your life. A specific thought from God’s Word can also be a subject for meditation. Reading a passage from the Bible or some other short devotional material may help get you started.

 

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You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
—Isaiah 26:3 NLT

 
If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.
—Thomas Watson (c. 1620–1686)

 
Meditation is simply talking to God about His Word with a desire that your life and those you pray for come into agreement with it.
—William Thrasher

 
When we find our souls at all declining, it is best to raise them up presently by some awakening meditations, such as of the presence of God, of the strict reckoning we are to make, of the infinite love of God in Christ and the fruits of it, of the excellency of a Christian’s calling, of the short and uncertain time of this life, of how little good all those things that steal away our hearts will do us before long, and of how it shall be forever with us hereafter, as we spend this short time well or ill. The more we make way for such considerations to sink into our hearts, the more we shall rise nearer to that state of soul which we shall enjoy in heaven.
—Richard Sibbes (1577–1635)

 
In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him, that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him—totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.
—Chuck Swindoll (b. 1934)
 

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Peace on the outside comes from knowing Jesus on the inside. You can do that by simply inviting Him into your heart:

Dear Jesus, I want to know You and enjoy Your peace. Please come into my life, give me Your peace, and help me get to know You better and grow in the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of Your Word. Amen.

 
 

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