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“Pray Without Ceasing”

A compilation

What does it mean to pray without ceasing?

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

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

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

—From gotquestions.org

 
Lessons on candles and prayers

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

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

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

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

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

—Joyce Suttin

 
Be in constant communion with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Rick Warren

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

The Sultan and Satan–A Lesson for all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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What Is Trust?

A compilation

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
What does the Bible say about trust?

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

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

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

—From gotquestions.org

*

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

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

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

—Seth Godin

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

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

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

—Peter Amsterdam

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

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

—Philip Martin

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Stand Up and Stand Out for Jesus!

Based on the writings of David Brandt Berg

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

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

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

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

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

“Why’s that, pastor?”

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

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

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

“Oh!” said Jake.

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

“Hey, pastor! Nice to see you!”

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

“Oh, fine, just fine!”

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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Thank God for Moms

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorMother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.
—William Makepeace Thackeray

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Her children rise up and call her blessed.
—Proverbs 31:28

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To a child’s ear, “mother” is magic in any language.
—Arlene Benedict

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Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother.
—St. Clare of Assisi

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As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.
—Isaiah 66:13

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My prayer for you, mother.

Heavenly Father,
Hold my precious mother close to Your heart as I hold her close to mine.
Let her know today and every day how much I love her.
Lord, comfort her mind and reassure her
that her motherly care was everything I needed and wanted, and that I love her dearly.
Lord, comfort her body as she ages and grant her health and vitality as she goes through her days here on earth.
Bring all good things to my mother, dear God, and bless her every day, in every way.
In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

—Author unknown

*

She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to the children, who ate with avidity.

“She hath kept none for herself,” grumbled the sergeant.

“Because she is not hungry,” said a soldier.

“Because she is a mother,” said the sergeant.

—Victor Hugo

*

What Dinah Craik wrote about friends can be beautifully applied to mothers: “Oh, the comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
—Abi F. May

*

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
—Strickland Gillilan

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I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.
—John Wesley

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A wise woman once said to me: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”
—Hodding Carter

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Old-fashioned motherhood never goes out of style, because it’s all about love. I made people to need love, and I intended for them to first experience that love through their mothers. Mothers are the embodiment of love and care and tenderness—love that even the tiniest baby can feel and respond to.

Love is the best thing in life! It’s the most important lesson anyone can ever learn and the greatest gift anyone can ever receive—and mothers teach it and give it like no one else. Life would go on fine without many things, but not without mothers. Old-fashioned motherhood is here to stay!

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy

 
Why God Made Moms

Answers given by second-grade schoolchildren to the following questions:

 
Why did God make mothers?

  1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
  2. Mostly to clean the house.
  3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

 
How did God make mothers?

  1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
  2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
  3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

 
What ingredients are mothers made of?

  1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

 
Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

  1. We’re related.
  2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

 
What kind of a little girl was your mom?

  1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
  2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
  3. They say she used to be nice.

 
What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

  1. His last name.
  2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
  3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

 
Why did your mom marry your dad?

  1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
  2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
  3. My grandma says that mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

 
Who’s the boss at your house?

  1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goofball.
  2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
  3. I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

 
What’s the difference between moms and dads?

  1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
  2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
  3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
  4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

 
What does your mom do in her spare time?

  1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
  2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

 
What would it take to make your mom perfect?

  1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
  2. Diet. You know, her hair. I’d dye it, maybe blue.

 
If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

  1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that.
  2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it, not me.
  3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

—Source unknown

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Self-Control and Avoiding Temptation—Part 2

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSome people are strongly affected by their emotions. That’s not altogether bad, unless the emotions are negative. If you have a tendency to get angry and blow off steam, speed when driving because you’re frustrated or upset, binge-drink when you’re sad or lonely, or other such actions, it’s important to learn to control your emotions. Managing your emotions doesn’t mean you stop feeling or expressing yourself.

 
 
Managing your emotions means:

You don’t overreact to situations.
You take a moment to put things in perspective.
You remain firmly in control, so that your emotions enhance your life, rather than ruin it.
You make your emotions work for you. Not against you.
—Burke Hedges, You, Inc.

Consider this true story.

When the athlete was only a boy, it was obvious to everybody that he was blessed with special physical gifts. He loved all sports, and excelled at every one he ever tried.

When he was nine years old, his father handed him a warped wooden tennis racquet. From the first swing of the racquet, the boy was hooked! It wasn’t long before he was beating all the kids his age throughout the country.

By the time he was 12 he was regularly beating the best adult players in his country, and he could give tennis pros a run for their money. Everyone predicted he would be a world champion one day; that is, if he could only learn how to control his temper.

You see, when something went wrong, like when he missed an easy shot or if an umpire made a bad call, the boy had a fit. His temper got so out of control that he began losing matches he should have won.

One day his father came out to watch him in the finals of a big tournament. Sure enough, the boy started losing his temper, shouting, cursing, throwing his racquet. After 10 minutes of witnessing this obnoxious behavior, the father walked onto the court, and announced to everyone present, “This match is over. My son defaults.” And with that he walked over to his son and said in a stern voice, “Come with me.”

When they got home the father placed the racquet in a closet and said, “You are not to touch this racquet or any other racquet for six months, end of discussion.”

At the end of the six months, his father handed the racquet to his son with these words: “If I hear so much as one curse word, or see so much as one toss of your racquet in anger, I’ll take it from you for good. Either you control your temper or I will control it for you.”

The boy was so overjoyed to be able to play that he took to the sport with more passion than ever before. By the time he was 16, he was winning professional tournaments all over Europe.

With each tournament, the young man was getting better and better, and the press started calling him “teen angel”! You see, after his father’s suspension, the boy learned to manage his emotions even under the most stressful conditions.

Whether it was the first point of an easy match or the last nerve-racking point of a hard-fought final, his expression and demeanor remained the same. He was in complete control of his emotions.

He went on to become what many experts consider the greatest player ever. He won 14 major championships in all, including six French Open titles, the first when he was only 18 years old, and five straight Wimbledon titles. The one-time tennis brat, later known as “Teen-Angel,” was Bjorn Borg.

Borg would be the first to admit that learning to manage his emotions was the turning point in his tennis career,if not his life.Whether you are five years old or 55 years old, managing your emotions means understanding that you can’t always control what happens to you. But as Bjorn Borg learned, you CAN control your emotional response.

—Burke Hedges, You, Inc. (adapted)

Bjorn Borg learned to control his emotions as a teenager, and the results were tremendous success and excellent character. Borg’s father stepped in and brought the lessons home for him. Our heavenly Father may, in some cases, do the same, if necessary, in order to teach us self-restraint and self-control. At other times, however, He may allow us to continue in the wrong direction we’ve chosen until eventually we see for ourselves where our lack of self-restraint has taken us, which is usually not where we had originally intended to go. If we want to be “quick studies,” we won’t wait for the Lord to intervene, or expect that He always will. Sometimes—often, in fact—the Lord is willing to let us learn the hard way. So it’s important that we learn to be responsible for our actions and emotions, personally.

Acting on runaway emotions will have consequences. To not think things through can have life-altering repercussions. And unfortunately, often those consequences can never be undone, nor those repercussions reversed.

Today’s society offers more freedom and more choices. We also face more temptations, more distractions, and more permissiveness. Therefore, it’s crucial that we fully understand and respect the power of our emotions, and that we learn to take responsibility for them and manage them well.

It’s never too late to learn to control your temper or manage your emotions. There are many practical tips on this, which can be effective, but the most effective way to grow in this area is through communion with the Lord, in prayer, reading God’s Word, and committing our lives and emotions to Him.

 
Live without regrets

Another part of self-control is related to discipline. For example, do you have enough self-control to walk away from something appealing or “fun” when it’s not the right thing to do? Or to resist doing something crazy, like accepting a dangerous dare from a friend? Do you have enough self-control to keep from overdrinking so as to avoid making a fool of yourself, or worse yet, causing some serious damage? Maybe your drunken antics hurt your relationship with your significant other. Or maybe you wrecked your car, hurt someone, or lost your job. Perhaps you flunked out of school or caused people to question your character.

Taking charge of your life requires discipline. Yes, tons of it. But discipline is neither readily attained nor easily maintained. It demands the mental stamina to overcome empty passions and faulty habits. It also requires the fortitude to resist the pull of so many temptations that otherwise might lure us toward meaningless sideshows. But more than anything, it demands a relentless focus on what matters most.
—Stephen Covey

Researchers have found twenty things that people do when they are young that they will likely regret when they are forty. Some of the things noted include smoking, posting risqué photos on the Internet, unwise social networking, getting tattoos in visible places, body piercings and plugs, overspending and getting into debt, random unprotected sex, dropping out of school, and being too busy or disinterested to spend time with the people they love.

There is a wide range of opinions on the validity of these actions, and some people might not agree with these points being a risk or something to avoid. But the point is this: You will not always have the mindsets, attitudes, or approach to life that you have today, and one day you might look back on what you’re doing now, on certain actions that you can’t take back or undo, and say, “What in the world was I thinking?!”

Leaders ought not to worry greatly about occasional mistakes, but they must vigilantly guard against those things that will make them feel ashamed.
—Jon Huntsman

We are making choices now that will affect the course of the rest of our life. Undoubtedly, we want that course to be a good one. That is why it’s important that we first of all know what the Lord wants, as well as where we’re headed and why, in order to then develop the right habits and the proper disciplines needed to help us follow that path. We each hold our future in our hands; we determine what it will be by our daily choices.

God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. But what I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it! When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, and not loss; good, and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price that I have paid for it.
—Attributed to W. Heartsill Wilson

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Self-Control and Avoiding Temptation—Part 1

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorHave you heard that expression, “All that glitters is not gold”? Well, that can certainly be true of many of the temptations that come into our lives. Some things look good or attractive at first glance, but the immediate situation can be misleading. For example, when the desire to have a good time is coupled with a careless, “anything goes” attitude, the combination can be dangerous and have weighty consequences.

There are all kinds of ways the Devil tries to trip us up so that we lose perspective, make rash decisions, get out of balance, and then fall prey to excesses or binges, or to emotional outbursts that can have negative repercussions. But as we know from the Word of God, and from history, and our own life experiences, self-control and moderation is important if we’re going to maintain a happy, well-balanced, and centered, productive life.

The Bible tells us to “let our moderation be known.” Temperance is also one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians. Temperance is synonymous with self-control. (See Galatians 5:22–23)

Self-control is the ability to control your behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses. Temperance is self-restraint in the face of temptation or desire. Temperance also has to do with having moderation in all things.—Peter Amsterdam

As Christians, we need to be on guard against things that can damage our testimony, hurt our witness, and hinder us from fulfilling the mission, by tarnishing our personal example and reputation. Sometimes little overindulgences or lacks of moderation that aren’t in line with the Bible don’t seem like a big deal. We can think it’s just a little thing. But even small actions can have significant repercussions, so it’s important to measure our actions by the standard of the Christian values we’re committed to living by. The goal is to strive to do the Lord’s will to the best of our ability and to make the right choices—to live right, and to align our actions and choices with our core values.

If we as Christians have an active relationship with God, we can count on the fact that His Spirit will faithfully speak to our conscience when we’re tempted to overreact or overindulge. But if we consistently resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, pretty soon we won’t hear the Lord’s voice clearly.

The more someone disregards the leadings of the Lord’s Spirit, the easier it becomes to go further down that slippery path of disobedience. Hence the seriousness of failing to exercise restraint when needed, even in small ways.

There are numerous common temptations in the world today, which, when not resisted, lead to sin, including:

  • failure to control negative emotions towards others, angry outbursts, jealous rages
  • overdrinking or binge drinking
  • substance abuse
  • crossing the boundaries for appropriate sexual conduct
  • gossiping, lying, or cheating
  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • pornography

That’s just to name a few of the obvious ones.

It is, of course, much easier and safer to avoid getting into trouble with these temptations by avoiding taking steps in that direction in the first place. The Enemy wants to wreak havoc in our lives, so it’s best to take it seriously and protect ourselves from the steep downward grade that wrong decisions can lead to. It’s like the well-known saying: “It’s better to build a fence at the top of the cliff rather than a hospital at the bottom.” That “fence” is self-control, and each of us decides how strong or weak it is by the choices we make.

We can strengthen our self-control by:

  • taking more responsibility for our lives.
  • understanding the dynamics of choice—its repercussions and consequences; counting the cost of our decisions.
  • not just living for the moment or today, but thinking about tomorrow and the future.
  • being true to our convictions, and keeping our spiritual life and connection with the Lord and His Spirit strong.
  • seeking professional help or counsel, if needed.

Of course, no one is above temptation. The Bible says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

One of the ways we can avail ourselves of that “way of escape” is through maintaining a strong connection with the Lord, which will give us a healthy fear of stepping outside of the circle of His protection through disobedience. Also, as a result of our relationship with the Lord, we will have the personal conviction to measure our actions against our values and Christian ethics.

We each decide what we will or will not do, and we’re the ones who live with the consequences of those decisions. Some people are naturally more reckless or prone to taking risks. If those risks are within reason, and we exercise reasonable restraint and ask the Lord to guide us and give us wisdom, then we’ll be able to stay on a safe path and learn as we go. Even if we make mistakes here and there, if we are walking in the fear of the Lord and praying about our decisions, we can trust that whatever He allows or brings into our lives will somehow work for our good, whether in this life or the next.

Here are some of the overall principles of self-control that come into play for leading a balanced, safe, productive life, that will help us to make good, safe decisions.

Spiritually speaking:

  • Study God’s Word to know the Lord’s counsel on issues.
  • Stay close to the Lord and strive to follow what He tells you in His Word, through prophecy, and via His still small voice.
  • Avoid making impulsive or rash decisions.
  • Base your decisions on the principles in His Word.
  • Ask the Lord to speak to you about your decisions, personal standards, and life choices.
  • Recognize when you’ve made a mistake and ask the Lord—and others, if necessary—for forgiveness and safeguarding, and then strive to not let it happen again.
  • Work to develop good character. Then be true to your personal convictions and moral ethics. This is closely tied to integrity, taking responsibility for your life, and not allowing yourself to be influenced negatively by others.

Practically speaking, here are some tips:

  • Choose your friends wisely. It’s an indication that you’re in good company if you “like who you are” (related to your Christian example) when you’re with someone.
  • Avoid placing yourself in situations where you know you’ll be tempted to sin. For example, if you have a tendency to overdrink, avoid partying with heavy drinkers.
  • Think about what you’re doing. Count the cost. Ask yourself if you might regret a decision you are making or action down the line.
  • Be aware that anyone can develop addictions. Don’t think it could never happen to you.

Regarding resisting temptations, it might not be as easy as one would assume, without the Lord’s help. Research conducted by the Kellogg School of Management and the University of Amsterdam concluded that “individuals believe they have more restraint than they actually possess, which ultimately leads to poor decision-making. … The research found [those tested] … miscalculated the amount of temptation they could truly handle, in turn leading to a greater likelihood of indulging impulsive or addictive behavior. … The key is simply to avoid any situations where vices and other weaknesses thrive and, most importantly, for individuals to keep a humble view of their willpower.”

You might argue that the temptations in life are too difficult to avoid. Here is some food for thought on that topic:

Someone [once] said that the temptations in life [are] just too great! Well, too great for whom? Of course they are too great for you!—But not for the God who wants to strengthen you in your time of need. It’s only by His help that anyone can resist temptation. You were never supposed to resist it alone. That’s why you need to get in touch with God! Because you can’t have the victory in yourself!
—Virginia Brandt Berg

 
Temptation is the feeling we get when encountered by an opportunity to do what we innately know we shouldn’t.
―Steve Maraboli

 
Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.
—Billy Sunday

 
Too often we think of being tempted as being enticed to do big things like stealing, murdering or committing adultery. But most often we’re tempted to be impatient, stingy, jealous, greedy, or any number of other things that we consider lesser sins.
—Joyce Meyer

 
When Christians find themselves exposed to temptation they should pray to God to uphold them, and when they are tempted they should not be discouraged. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is to fall into temptation.
—D. L. Moody

 
Every conquering of temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.
—William Butler Yeats

 
Temptation may even be a blessing to a man when it reveals to him his weakness and drives him to the almighty Savior. Do not be surprised, then, dear child of God, if you are tempted at every step of your earthly journey, and almost beyond endurance; but you will not be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, and with every temptation there will be a way of escape.
—F. B. Meyer

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.