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Page 28 of 31

Facing Tomorrow With Joy

Breathe deeply. Do it again, please. Now, touch the most solid object near you and answer this question: Which of these two is most important in sustaining your life—breath or material things?

Simple to answer, isn't it? Breath, of course. Without breathing we cannot live. Our bodies need a constant supply of oxygen, and it's important for our lungs and respiratory system to work efficiently.

It's the same with God's Spirit, infused with His Word, which together are the source and sustaining power of our spiritual lives.

The one thing in this world that you and I can touch with our fingers that has "eternity" written into its fabric is the Word of God. Every time I take a Bible in hand, I hold eternity, because the life force inherent in the Word exceeds all time and space. Jesus said, "'Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away'" (Mark 13:31, NKJV).

Those words hold the seeds of life. Your life becomes durable, fulfilling and successful in direct proportion to the degree that the Word of God becomes as vital to you.

The Gospel of John says of Jesus that "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14). The Word of God is the source of all substance and life. "In the beginning God created ... " (Gen. 1:1). He did that with His Word. Christ was there at Creation: "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1).

All that is, as well as all that ever shall be, flows to man by Jesus Christ through the Word of God!

I want to do my utmost to ensure you that you know how to keep on receiving the Word of God. I don't mean how to read it, how to memorize it, or how to study it, though all those practices are very important. My primary concern is that your input and application of the Word—as the life-giving breath of God, the very Spirit of the Word—will fill and fulfill your soul continually. It's the only way to keep the "rebuilt you" built up and expanding.

The Word of God is not simply information or facts. It is a living Word, and it is life giving, healing, protecting and invincible. You need to know how to let it work in you. If the Word's reality is at work in you, there is no way you will ever be less than filled with abundant life and fruitful living (see 2 Pet. 1:4,8).

"No word from God shall be without power"(Luke 1:37, The Amplified Bible). This verse, translated elsewhere, "For with God nothing shall be impossible," is a mighty statement. It tells us that every word God speaks contains the power needed to actuate it. Every word of His that directs our behavior also makes the new behavior possible.

This is why Paul assures the Philippians, "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13, NKJV) And again, "He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it" (1 Thess. 5:24)—a promise that when God gives an assignment to us, His words include enablement.

This is truly a reason for joy. It builds our repentance upon the foundation of deep, trusting faith rather than upon guilt and emotionalism.

A few years ago in my pastorate at The Church On The Way, a new understanding began to dawn on my soul. I was seeking the Lord for guidance concerning my own teaching ministry and inquiring of Him specifically concerning the mood and manner of our congregation's worship services.

The result of my quest was a slow but definite transformation in my approach to leading our services. The continued call throughout the psalms is to praise and rejoice before the Lord: "In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11). In the same spirit, Paul insists of the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4, KJV).

The Word that created all the worlds is the Word that is completing you. Rest in that assurance, and rejoice in His Word as He "rebuilds the real you," the "you" He intended when He created you. Rebirth, redemption, restoration and recovery are only a part of His mission. He wants to bring you to the full realization of God's purposes, patterns and promises for your life. You can face tomorrow with joy.

Book Cover

Adapted from Rebuilding the Real You by Jack Hayford, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This book is a handbook on personal growth and restoration; it unfolds a clear picture of how the Holy Spirit works to help build you up and make you all God intended you to be. To order a copy click on this link: read more

The True Princess

While walking through the Publisher's Outlet in the lobby of our building where we sell all the items we publish here at Strang Communications, I was surprised to see a book I had bought a copy of about 14 years ago at a Christian bookstore. I found that our company had secured the copyright to this wonderful book.

When I had first seen the book, my daughters were 5, 13 and 15, so I was always looking for something that might be of interest to them and at the same time, make a positive impact on their lives. The book, The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt, looked like something the girls may want to read, and the pictures were beautiful.

I picked it up and started reading the story, which was about a King who had a beautiful little girl whom he loved very much. She had everything any little girl could ever want. Poets wrote poems and musicians sang songs about her. There were maids to dress her and jokers to make her laugh. And she had a caregiver, Nana, who took care of her, and her father, the king, who loved her.

Her father suddenly had to go away and was leaving her in the care of Nana. The princess was worried because she didn't know who would feed her, dress her, sing for her or make her laugh. The king explained that one day she would help rule the kingdom but she had to learn many things first. He comforted her by telling her that Nana would be with her and that because Nana was following his wishes, the princess would never be out of his care.

The King and Nana knew the princess had to be kept safe so they put her in regular clothes and hid her away from the palace in a little bakery house because "no one would expect the child of the king to be living as a servant."

Nana taught the princess how to dress herself and sing songs from her heart, and when the little girl put too much yeast into a loaf of bread and the dough exploded all over the kitchen, the princess learned to laugh at herself.

One day, news reached the kingdom that the king would be returning soon. Everyone had looked all over for the princess, but she could not be found. Many girls in the kingdom thought they could take her place so they spent hours making themselves ready.

When the king returned and was ready to receive his daughter, the guards opened the door and the king surprisingly found 25 little girls waiting for him, 24 beautifully dressed and one in a patched dress at the back of the crowd.

The king smiled at the crowd and asked the first little girl to help his servant put on his cloak. The little girl refused and said, "A true princess has maids to do that." The king stopped in front of the second little girl and asked her to sing a song for the kitchen helpers. That little girl frowned and said, "A princess hires singers to sing for them." The king paused in front of the third and asked her to tell his soldiers a funny story. She told him to "Call the royal jokers. That's what a REAL princess would do."

The king looked at the group and asked if there was anyone who would be willing to serve him in any way. The quiet girl in the patched dress spoke up and said, "I'd be happy to, Sire," she whispered. "Because I love you." The king hugged the little girl close and said, "It is love that marks the true daughter of the king."

Tears streamed down my face the first time I read the story, and it still touches my heart deeply whenever I read it. Why? Because it's the love story that I have come to know so well through my relationship with God.

I have told it to my children and will tell it to my grandchildren. The King went away but He left His Holy Spirit to teach us all things, "to guide [us] into all truth" (John 16:13, NKJV), so that we will be ready when He returns for us. We must be diligent to learn all He wants us to know. And when He returns, He will know us by our love! read more

Yell

Speak Up for Christ

On one of my trips to Washington, D.C., I prayed with a prayer group at various sites and memorials dedicated to our veterans who had given their lives for the cause of freedom.

All around me from newspaper stands I read glaring headlines of bombings in the Middle East, rapidly spreading genocide in Sudan, and threats and more threats from terrorists. The voices for violence, genocide and terrorism seemed to be overtaking the voices for freedom.

As I glanced at the papers, I saw other headlines reporting men and women being imprisoned, beaten or put to death for their faith in Christ. In this dark hour of the church, the voices for Christ are surely threatened, held hostage and being snuffed out.

"Lord, what's next?" I asked in desperation. "What's to become of the voices for Christ?

Then came that still small voice of His Spirit: "Is a voice not made for the purpose of speaking?"

I had my answer. Jesus has given us His Great Commission to make disciples the world over (see Matt. 28:18-20). Isn't His Great Commission still in effect even today?

I was reminded of Peter who had been imprisoned for his outspoken faith (see Acts 12:4-8). Behind prison walls, Peter had been placed under the terrorism of four squads of soldiers, bound tightly with two chains and secured between two soldiers. In Peter's darkest hour, it seemed as if his voice for Christ would be silenced forever. It appeared that all hope was lost-that his cause for Christ was too weak a match for the enemy.

But in that darkest hour, voices were still speaking out for Christ. Acts 12:5 states that, "Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church" (NKJV). The results were miraculous—an angel rescued Peter and led him to freedom.

You and I must not be thrown by the persecutions and threats that come against believers today. We must not be discouraged to the point of not praying or speaking out as voices for Christ. After all, God's Word reveals we might be persecuted, but we are not forsaken (see 2 Cor. 4:9).

In John 10:10 Jesus warned us that "the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." Jesus also stated that He had come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Was not the second part of His statement our promise of victory over all threats of the enemy? So why should we be thrown by the threats and attacks against our Christian faith?

You and I need to keep on speaking out for Christ, never ceasing to be thankful for the freedoms of this great country that still allow us to do so. read more

Woman_Prayer

My Destiny is Fulfilled at His Feet

The power of choice that God has given to every person cannot be overestimated. How dramatically our right to choose affects the course of our lives! Naomi's choice to return to Bethlehem-Judah would ultimately result in her personal restoration. Ruth's choice to follow Naomi and serve Naomi's God brought her to a wonderful destiny.

Orpah's name means "stiff-necked or skull." The decision Orpah made to stay in Moab reflected the inflexible, unyielding character described by her name and resulted in her death in obscurity—she was never heard of again. Such is the end of stiff-necked people. It is better to have a harnessed heart than a stiff neck.

Ruth's name means "friend." She proved her friendship to Naomi and to God by her willingness to leave all she held dear to follow Naomi and serve her God. This beauty of character is to be revealed throughout the rest of the narrative as Ruth gains a reputation in the whole city of Bethlehem-Judah as a virtuous woman.

Ruth's treatise was a sevenfold declaration that revealed her heart's determination. The key words in Ruth's treatise were "I will." These two words expressed the intent of her heart and formed the basis of her decision. As we observe Orpah's tearful decision not to follow Naomi, we understand that Ruth's choice was not based on emotion or sentiment, but on a decision of her will.

Decision itself is exhilarating and refreshing. Some people never know the joys and delights of walking with God because they do not choose to make decisions in favor of God, His Word and His ways. Decisive people are seldom the subject of continued despair; they are steadfastly minded. As we decide to follow God's will, our decision will have wonderful results in our lives, as Ruth's did.

The treatise of "I wills" made by Ruth consisted of seven elements: "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16-17, KJV).

This last "I will," though not explicitly expressed, is understood, for Ruth was declaring in essence, "I will seal this treatise with a covenant. The Lord do so to me and more also if ought but death part thee and me."

Ruth's resolve is a classic for all of literature. As an expression of love and loyalty, these words cannot be surpassed. Here is supreme devotion; here is love to the uttermost, not only passionately expressed, but as history declares, determinedly fulfilled. The beauty of its form and the utter devotion of a genuine and self-conquering love has made Ruth's vow one that never shall be forgotten. The secret of such love and loyalty is kinship in the matters of the soul and of eternity. There can be no true love, no lasting loyalty, without this kinship of soul and spirit.

Ruth's vow has stamped itself indelibly on the heart of the church. Believers throughout history have followed her example in choosing to live, and die, for God alone. How many have gained their courage to face martyrdom from reading the testimony of Ruth!

Like Ruth, we should resolve to pursue God to the end, casting our lot with the separated, sanctified people of God, cleaving to the eternal God of the Bible. Like Ruth we should enter God's field and be willing to serve. Like Ruth, we should abandon ourselves to our glorious, heavenly "Boaz," and stay at His feet until morning.

Adapted from the book From Our Hearts to Yours, copyright 2008, published by Charisma House. This book is a compilation of articles written by strong women of God that will cause you to see how much God really loves you, and empowers you to become a better mother, wife, woman and friend. To order a copy click on this link: read more

Armed With His Might

The days in which we are living are some of the most turbulent in history, and they are not without peril. The kingdom of God suffers violence (see Matt. 11:12), yet these are still times of hope and peace for those who know who they are in Christ. In order to survive the onslaught of the enemy against us, we had better learn to become women who are mighty in spirit. During the course of my life, I've found six practices to be very effective in overcoming the power of the enemy and walking in victory.

1. Be confident in your calling

When you are confident in your calling, you don't have to seek anyone's permission or approval. You know you are called because of the witness of the Holy Spirit inside you, but Satan will try to make you doubt that your calling is real.

God never told us that we were going to float along on this journey to become all that He destined for us and never have another problem. But He did promise us this: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you" (Is. 43:2, NKJV). You must decide now that you're going all the way.

2. Have strength in adversity

When I left home to pursue God's call on my life, I knew it was not going to be easy. On the day I was preparing to leave I suddenly thought, Maybe I should go to church, one more time. At the close of the Wednesday night service, my pastor called me onto the stage and said to me, "God says to tell you, ‘You are not your own; you have been bought with a price. I have chosen you and appointed you to go to the nations of the earth, so you can't do what you want to do."

Without anyone touching me, I was slain in the spirit. Hours later, when I got up, I had a new confidence, a greater boldness and a determination to go on that hell could not touch.

Jesus said: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you" (John 15:16).

You too are not your own. Be strong and don't abandon your calling.

3. Develop godly character

You must be painstakingly conscientious about everything-attitude, lifestyle, personal worship and gifts. The enemy of your destiny has already been defeated; so don't allow yourself to be sidetracked by his devices.

4. Practice violent faith

I believe that sometimes we come up against things in our lives when simply believing won't be enough. Violent faith combines determination with spiritual aggressiveness and raw, if you will, guts. As you practice it, your prayer life and hunger for God will increase, and there will be a determination forged in you that nothing can shake.

5. Be persistent in prayer

Taking back what is yours from the forces of darkness takes courage and is not for those who are passive or faint of heart. It is for the person who would say: "This is it. I am drawing the bloodline today. I will never be the same again." You can choose to say, "I know what the outcome of this thing is going to be, so I am going to lift my head up and rejoice, because right now the Father God is working it all out."

6. Praise God

One thing I have learned and am still learning is that you don't praise God when the answer comes; you praise God until the answer comes. Something happens when you lift your hands and your voice to praise God in the midst of all hell surrounding you.

Begin to rejoice in God. See yourself mighty in spirit and walking in victory. What you can see with spirit eyes in the supernatural, you can believe to come forth in the natural.

I see the devil fleeing in terror because you and I are rising up now, and we know that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down [Satan's] strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4). We are women, mighty in spirit, who are strong in the strength of our Lord. And in His power we are victorious!

Adapted from the book From Our Hearts to Yours, a compilation of articles written by powerful women of God intended to help you know the love of God, deepen your relationship with Him, and become a better mother, wife and friend, copyright 2008, published by Charisma House. To order a copy click on this link. read more

Mother Praying

The Power of a Mother's Prayer

I remember seeing my mother kneeling at the side of her bed and praying aloud for each of her children and grandchildren. That memory is forever etched in my mind and I will never forget sensing a strong presence of God through her intercession. I came away with a sense of reverential fear and trust that no matter what would happen to any of us, God would honor her prayers on our behalf.

My mother is in glory now and it's a comfort to know that the Lord continues to honor those prayers. It encourages me to continue to pray for my own children and grandchildren no matter how uncertain their futures or what they are currently facing.

I am sure that there are bittersweet moments for each of us whose parents have gone on to be with the Lord. We remember them. We miss them. We now realize how wise they really were. Our hope in the Lord is that we will see them again and enjoy His presence together.

Except for Eve, the mother of all living, we've all been blessed with mothers. Our mothers helped shape who we are today—for good or not so good. We learned from their example and from their mistakes. And when we had children of our own we realized what a challenge they faced raising us.

Some of us are privileged to have our moms around to help us with our own children. They bring the wisdom of experience and offer their time, love and energy to the task. What a blessing to have a doting grandma to pour unconditional love on our offspring!

But even with all that, the Holy Spirit is our best adviser, teacher and counselor. He knows what's best for each child and can give us the insight to know what each needs and how to pray His will concerning each one. God hears a mother's prayer.

I am thankful for His instruction and "coaching" as I grappled through years of raising an autistic son in a ministerial fish bowl filled with well-meaning parishioners giving "expert" advice concerning things they knew nothing about. Without the Lord, we would not have made it. Time and time again, He would admonish me to trust Him with our son.

That was not an easy task. We would place him on the altar so to speak, and then quickly take him off, load ourselves with worry, then place him on the altar again. Then we'd call on the Lord for help and take one day at a time doing as He directed. The result was miraculous! Today, he's a grown man who loves and serves the Lord, is gainfully employed and active in the men's group at church. Surely, God is worthy of our trust.

Surely, He knows what's best for us and for our children. He is totally trustworthy.

Sometimes we worry when we don't see our children going in the direction we feel would be best for them. Yet we have His promise that if we raise them and train them in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from them (see Prov. 22:6). Though they may stray as they try to find their own way in life, they will return to what was instilled in them (see 2 Tim. 3:15). It's a promise.

Perhaps you are a single parent wrestling with raising your children and working full time. You feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You wonder how you are going to make it through another day. Take heart. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit will provide and direct you each step of the way. Our Father hears a mother's prayer. Trust Him.

If God has blessed you with a special-needs child, know that He has given you a treasure. It may not feel that way sometimes. You may feel as if you are the only one carrying the responsibility relating to your child, your spouse, your other children and the household. And if you also work outside the home it's a balancing act like no other. But His grace will enable you to do all He requires of you. You will learn the meaning of unconditional love and enjoy deep fellowship with Him. His love and grace is available—and it's free.

Perhaps your children are grown and your mom is in her golden years and needing care. The tables have turned and you are now the caregiver and she is the one needing your help. It's difficult for her to transition from total independence to needing care and provision. Do you struggle with the demands of your own family and her needs? Well, you are not alone. Honoring your mom in this season takes as much grace as handling a household of kids, a special-needs child, a full-time job and a cranky husband. But God is able to sustain you and go even beyond your need. He is there to give you His sufficiency, rest and restoration as you take time to get alone with Him.

No matter what season of life you are walking through, the Lord is there for you. As a daughter honoring her mother, a mother enjoying her children or one who is pulled in many directions at once, our God is more than able to provide you with everything you need to make this the most wonderful season of your life. Remember that God answers a mother's prayer. Happy Mother's Day! read more

Reflection

Redeem Your Esteem

Of all the eternal truths declared in God's Word, one prominent reality is essential to grasp: God made us in His image. We have been exquisitely designed by Him to reflect His image and reveal His likeness. As the "grand finale" of all God's unique creation, mankind stands unequaled, elevated as the Creator's crowning achievement, showing forth His radiance and splendor. Simply put, we're awesome!

 

Yet in spite of our resident worth and inherent value, many of us deeply struggle to feel a sense of acceptance and love. The recognition of our real significance escapes us, exposing a profound emptiness, leaving us with an acute awareness of unfulfillment. The problem is we were created with an inner desire to be needed and have meaning, with the desire to leave our mark on the world. Consequently, this wanting condition is a set-up for trouble.

Our longing for more feeds the natural obsession to find authentic value through a faulty system involving our own schemes and methods. Although we should be looking to God and His Word to validate our existence, we have, instead, looked to our own ability and human strength to somehow prove our merit. But this striving at importance will prove futile because God has not designed us to find significance through any other means than Himself. Yet the struggle for acceptance continues and the addiction for approval intensifies as we try to fill the void.

So what's up? If we really are so intrinsically valuable and precious, why do we spend so much time trying to improve our self worth? Why are moments of complete self-acceptance so rare and attempts at personal improvement more of the norm? The answer is simple. Our quest for significance is a result of mistaken identity. We have failed to discern, or believe, who we really are and have settled for a self-appraisal with an "as is, scratch and dent" price tag. We are selling ourselves on clearance because we are unable to see that our approval does not come through what we achieve, how much we earn or the amount of accolades we receive from others. Nor are we rejected because we experience difficult personal failures, traumatic childhood events or because we lack certain talents and abilities. Not so!

God loves us unconditionally because we are His possession … not only by creation but also by redemption. Although it is true that in ourselves we fail and fall short of God's original purpose for us, the good news is we are not in ourselves. If we have been redeemed by God's Son, Jesus, through the provision made for us on the cross, then we are no longer "in" ourselves, we are "in" Christ.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." (Eph. 1:3-4, emphasis added).

We are His dear children, washed and forgiven by His sacrifice and made blameless and holy in His sight. This truth boldly confronts the subtle deception that has so many people bound. They have become slaves to the approval of others and captive to the drive of selfish ambition, all in an attempt to feel good about themselves. But Christ has set us free from this fruitless endeavor and has given us the right to say with confidence:

  • I am loveable because of who I am in Christ, not because of what I do.
  • I do not have to strive to earn my acceptance because God has made me accepted in the beloved.
  • I am not accepted based on my performance or my ability to get someone to like me.
  • I do not have to keep up with today's so-called standards of living to be worthwhile or credible.
  • I can have opinions that differ from others without fear of being disqualified from love because God's love makes me secure in Him. Therefore, I can risk being me.
  • I am free to explore and develop all the uniqueness of my God-given personality without penalty.
  • I no longer have to struggle or perform to fill the gnawing void that tells me I am nothing without accomplishments, awards or popularity.

Remember God accepts and loves you not just because He's God but also because He created you, He knows you and He is intimately involved in everything you do. Won't you accept His unconditional love today? read more

Just Listen and Obey

I don't consider myself a normal person. I don't think or act like most normal people. That's probably why the Lord doesn't talk to me like a normal person. He uses all kinds of strange and funny ways to get my attention.

For example, one Sunday morning during church when I was playing the piano, I happened to notice the reflection of my hands in the black, shiny surface. I have been playing for years, but in the natural, I'm not quite sure how I do it. Once a music major told me that it seems what I hear bypasses my brain and goes straight to my fingers. It does! What I know has been taught to me by the Holy Spirit. One thing I AM sure of: I know that I can't do it without Him. read more

The Fragrance of Christ

If you've ever gone to a public high school, you know there are different groups with which kids associate. Some groups are formed on the basis of social status, some on intelligence, some on common interests. But whether it's the wealthy, the brainy or the golf pros, within each group, certain individuals stand out. They are the popular ones, the ones people are drawn to. When they walk into a room or down the hall, there is always a crowd of people following them.

Why is this? Probably because they are more beautiful or more gifted or have more bubbly personalities than the rest. Whatever the trait, there is something that distinguishes them from everyone else. read more

Revival Girl

Revival Begins With You!

Have you ever wondered why there are so many professing Christians in America, yet so few cities that have been truly transformed for Christ? Why, in prayer meetings and conferences, we passionately cry out for nations to be saved in a day; yet our local spheres of influence remain largely unchanged year after year?

The answer can be found by examining the historical seeds of past revivals. For example, legend has it that Jonathan Edwards, before the birthing of the Great Awakening, made a covenant with God. Standing on a riverbank, he cried out to God for revival in the land. Drawing a circle in the sand, he pledged that before God could take the city, the region, the nation, He must start here—and he pointed to the circle. Then Edwards stepped into the circle. read more

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