One of the best examples of self-pity is the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda (see John 5). Jesus knew his full condition and then, through Peter, asked the man if he wished to be healed. The man began to explain why he had not and could not be healed. Jesus seemed to quit listening to his self-pity and healed him anyway.
Self-pity is the opposite of confidence and worth. Self-pity happens when we feel we are warranted to receive but get passed by. This can occur in our natural or spiritual life. Self-pity helps define our moment or, may I say, cause us to miss our moment. We feel we are deserving or entitled to a blessing, and we lose faith when we see a blessing slip past our life. read more
When God is first in your life and your greatest desire is to do His will, then every resource you have is available to Him because you understand it all belongs to Him anyway. The moment God sees you are a person who can be trusted with possessions, you suddenly qualify to receive more than you had before!
Do you know what made Abraham great? He trusted in God. Even to the point that when he didn't have a clue what God was doing, he still trusted Him. Abraham's ability to trust the Lord is what made it possible for him to go so far as to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God required it. Abraham understood that the child God had given to Sarah and him was actually not theirs at all.
Isaac came from God, and he belonged to the Lord. If the Lord required him to be sacrificed, then Abraham was simply responsible to manage the task that he was given. Not every chore you are asked to do in your role as a manager will be pleasant, but your willingness and obedience will determine how much God can trust you. In Genesis 22:12, the angel of the Lord told Abraham, "'Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me'" (NKJV).
Was Isaac precious to Abraham? Without a doubt! He was so loved that Abraham named him the son of laughter. However, although Isaac was terribly loved, Abraham knew he could trust God with what he loved the most. It was this kind of trust that enabled Abraham to be the recipient of blessings that others could only dream about.
Abraham was called "the friend of God" (James 2:23). He was blessed in his life to the point where you would have to number the stars in the sky and the sands in the earth to calculate all that he received. He was described as being very rich in livestock, silver and gold. Abraham was increased in his life, and the lives of his descendants and heirs were increased because God could trust him.
When your priorities are centered in your source, and God can trust you with His resources, your priorities will get you where you want to go.
The next priority in your life, after the Lord, should be other people—those in the world around you. For me, that list includes, in this order: my wife and children, my extended family, and my church. Once you've decided to reconnect with God, the next place to start reconnecting is at home.
The desire to live for ourselves is an epidemic. It seems we have adopted this mindset: if it is to our benefit and someone else's detriment, so be it. What is so horrifying about this mindset is that it means no relationship is safe.
There has been a notable increase through the years of the disenchantment with marriage. Without a doubt, the root of divorce is selfishness. But consider these latest trends in our society: parents are harming and abusing their children, children are being arrested for atrocities committed against parents, and siblings are being indicted for murdering their brothers and sisters—all for the sole purpose of having what they want when they want it. From all appearances, it seems there is no limit to selfish men.
The evening news carries one story or another of a mother or a boyfriend or a relative who is being arrested for some monstrosity committed against a defenseless child. Why? Because other people no longer have a place of priority in our lives. We have truly lost touch with one another. We have devalued life to the point that it is considered expendable for the sake of convenience.
However, if you are ever going to be the person of influence that you were created to be then others will need to take their proper place of priority in your life. You can begin by identifying ways that you can be a blessing to others. Place their needs in front of yours, and consider it a joy when those around you succeed.
Answer these questions honestly: Where do others fit in your life? Are you there for them, or are they there for you? You will never truly know the power that relationship possesses until you decide to be there for the other person—no matter what. Can God trust you with His stuff? read more
Do you realize that there is a connection between love and power? We know this is true because God's Word says that "love comes from God" and that "the hand of the Lord is powerful " (1 John 4:7; Josh. 4:24, NIV).
The Bible also tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16) and describes the ways God expresses His love to us. God says of Himself in Jeremiah 9:24, "I am the Lord who exercises kindness." Paul writes to the Corinthians of the "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:1). And Isaiah 63:15 refers to the Father's "tenderness and compassion." read more
The Bible tells us "when words are many, sin is not absent" (Prov. 10:19, NIV). That's because the tongue can cause quite a storm. Though only a small member of our bodies, it is very unruly and can create havoc in just moments.
Like a swirling tornado of ruinous words, a tongue twister can wipe out a relationship in seconds. One brief "touchdown" from this destructive verbal cyclone can instantly blow the roof off a peaceful household or tear down a bridge of trust that took years to construct. As dangerous and untamable as a rogue wind, the tongue, when unleashed, can create devastating -- even irreparable -- damage.
But what can we do about it? The Bible also declares "the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8, "The Amplified Bible").
Does that mean we are helpless to control it? No! Though the tongue may be as impossible to tame as the wind and waves, we do have a responsibility. In fact, the apostle James wrote, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26, NIV).
We may not be able to "tame" the tongue so that it permanently obeys us, but we are instructed to "keep a rein on" or "reign over" the tongue. Our religion is worthless and ineffective if we cannot measure our words and discipline our tongues to speak only those things that are edifying, gracious and truthful. Sometimes keeping silent is better than even good words. "He who holds his tongue is wise," Proverbs says (Prov. 10:19).
The Bible is full of scriptures that teach us about the incredible force of the tongue and our obligation to "reign over" it. It is clear that God is concerned about the way we speak.
But there's more. It is not just the actual choice of words God is interested in; it is the motive behind the words. The condition of the heart, which cultivates our speech, is His primary concern.
Jesus confirmed this truth in one of His dialogues with the Pharisees. He told them, "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34).
Jesus didn't mince words. He let us know that if we store up evil things in our hearts, the poison will overflow into our mouths and be released through our conversations. Conversely, if we store up good things in our hearts, the flowing river of our words will be uncontaminated and full of life.
The Lord made it clear that it is not what enters into our mouths that defiles us, but what proceeds out of our mouths (see Matt. 15:11). In other words, we are not corrupt because we speak bad words; we speak bad words because of the corruption in our hearts. Our mouths and our hearts are linked together in an inseparable way. If we are unsurrendered in our hearts, we will be unsurrendered in our speech. God's solution is for us to submit both heart and tongue to Him.
That is why David wrote, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Ps. 19:14). Solomon, too, acknowledged the connection between the head and the heart when he admonished: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips" (Prov. 4:23-24).
Since the real heart of the issue then, is the issue of the heart, it is important that we guard our hearts with all diligence and continue to submit to God's probing and testing. He alone knows our true condition. As long as we seek to please Him, as David did, and allow Him to purify our hearts, we can avoid the devastation tongue twisters bring. read more
I love trees! I have always loved trees. So it was only natural that after my husband, John, and I moved into our new house, I developed the habit of sitting in our screened room in my spare moments and staring at the majestic live oak in our backyard.
On one occasion when I was enjoying its beauty, a typical Florida storm began to form. The wind built to a high intensity in moments. As I watched the branches of the mighty oak sway in the strong breezes, I made some observations. read more
"You have the choice of resigning or being terminated, effective immediately." My heart sank. The president of the company had just walked into my office, pointed his finger at me and uttered those words. How could this be happening to me, and what was I going to do? As the director of a retirement community, I lived on the property, so I was losing my job AND my home.
What was the incident that had cost me my job? Reading the Bible and praying for a needy Christian resident on my day off. As a result, I was suddenly without a job, homeless, threatened with a lawsuit, betrayed and slandered. Great fear bombarded my mind. WHAT was I going to do? read more
I came home from a women's leadership meeting at church one night to find everyone had already gone to bed. Feeling hungry, I went into the kitchen and fixed myself a bowl of fresh blueberries. They were in season and they were magnificent.
Then I heard it. It was a strange noise I had never heard before. It sounded like the lower notes of a cello and it was occurring at five- and 10-second intervals. Not only was this unusual but my dishwasher and the entire kitchen counter would vibrate at each interval. read more
One of my most poignant memories of my late father is of him seated at his desk with his Bible open, studying. My dad wasn't a highly educated man, but he was devoted to Jesus Christ and had an insatiable hunger for biblical knowledge.
I remember watching him many times as he pored over passages and prayed for understanding. Years later, I had the privilege of getting a seminary education, and one day during a class lecture, I thought of him.
Surrounded by my fellow graduate students in a stately lecture hall, my eyes began to water. I was imagining how much my father would have loved being in this class.
He never made it to seminary, but because he held out before me the example of someone who "trembled" at God's Word, studying it became my own desire. I observed what he did, and I sought to emulate him.
My behavior was not unusual. Children who are nurtured and trained in the safety of their parents' love seek to embrace the parents' qualities throughout their lives.
Not every one of us has the experience of love and protection in an earthly sense. But in a spiritual sense, we can all attest to having that experience with our heavenly parent--God, the Father.
We are commanded to imitate Him: "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]" (Eph. 5:1, The Amplified Bible). As His beloved children, we should resemble Him and act like Him.
There's a good reason for this. Our nation and the world are longing to see the reality of God in the lives of His people.
The apostle Paul wrote, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8:19, NIV). There are many for whom a demonstration of the reality of the One we worship is long overdue.
If only they could see Him reflected in His church! If only our brokenness didn't cause us to reflect so poorly on our precious Lord!
What is the creation waiting to see? I believe above all things, the unsaved desire to see the reality of Christ's sacrificial love.
Sadly, it seems harder for us to exhibit unconditional love toward those in the family of God than to those on the outside. We hear too many stories about brothers and sisters who are wounded by other members of the body of Christ.
This kind of behavior isn't lost on those who are looking for God. The unbeliever may not have any great knowledge of who (or what) God is, but he or she is quite adept at identifying who (or what) He is not. I believe the biggest beef unbelievers have with us is our lack of real, sacrificial love for one another.
We simply must love one another more. Now is a moment when hearts are being taken captive to fear. Men and women are desperate to know if there is any hope--any security out there.
Let's tell them, "Yes, there is hope, peace, protection!" Better yet, let's show them the evidence of the hope we have: Let's show them how we love one another. read more
I have been ministering in churches, in home fellowship groups, at Aglow meetings and at conferences for more than 25 years. From the very beginning I have prayed for the sick and have always seen healings and miracles. But there has been an increase in the last nine years.
About ten years ago I found an interesting passage in Isaiah 35 while sitting in church waiting for a meeting to start. I felt as if God said to hide verses 3-6 in my heart and let them incubate. Throughout the next year I read them over and over and looked up some of the more significant words. read more
In order to gain God's greatest blessings, we must embrace His highest purpose. My sincere conviction is that if this happens in our cities, God's blessing will spread to entire regions, and healing to our land will occur. Without the abiding fullness of Christ in the church, we will have no more impact in the world than a political party, whose strength rests in numbers and finances and not in God.
Consequently, every serious Christian must recognize two priorities. We need to return to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ, and we desperately need divine intervention—or our nation will perish.
In Psalm 90 Moses utters a prayer that everyone who has had enough of his own feeble efforts should pray. In somber and earnest supplication he implores, "Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your majesty to their children. And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands" (vv. 16-17, NASB).
This is a heartfelt prayer, one that is full of deep thought and candid reflection. Moses was not willing to "try something" and ask the Lord to bless it. He prayed, "Let Your work appear." He appealed to God to confirm the works of His hands. What is divine confirmation? It is when the Lord works with you and fulfills your words with His power (see Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:4). God identifies Himself so completely with what you are doing that He backs you up with power. It is endorsement of the Almighty upon an individual's life.
I want to underscore that we have peace with God through Christ's sacrifice. We are not looking for divine acceptance but divine endorsement. The question is not one of salvation but of power in this life to change our world. How, then, can we truly know that we have found God's highest purpose for us? How can we, like Moses, obtain the endorsement of Almighty God?
If we want our works to have permanence, then they must be the eternal works of God and not more of man's ideas. Jesus said, "'For the works which the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me'" (John 5:36). Ultimately, we only glorify God when we, like Jesus, accomplish the work that He has given us to do (John 17:4).
You may ask, "Does God have eternal, enduring assignments for me?" Yes, but the first "work of God" that is accomplished in us is not our work but His, that we "'believe in Him whom He has sent'" (John 6:29). We must abandon all hope of finding true spiritual success apart from dependent, steadfast faith in the person and power of Christ.
This forsaking of our ideas to embrace simple obedience to Christ is the "work of God." We must see that we cannot attain to the works of God unless we first become the workmanship of God, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). At this very moment there are eternal, powerful works prepared for each of us. Yet, until we see that the Father's highest purpose is to reveal in us the nature of Christ, we will not qualify for the power of Christ, which is God's full endorsement on our lives.
If we will find the eternal works of God, we must know His eternal plan. He desires to bring the living Christ into each of us as individuals; then as Christ-filled individuals, we can transform our congregations. Finally, from the launching pad of a Christ-filled congregation, we will see things impacted and cleansed with the Spirit of His Son.
Satan has sought continually to hinder and delay this "summing up of all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:9-10). Yet such is our mission, and, in knowing the plan of God, such is our victory. Therefore, in battling for the soul of our cities and our nation, our victory is not in knowing how to command demons but in knowing the commander Himself. We triumph in being rightly aligned with the supreme plan of God, which is to fill all things with Christ.
Therefore, if we want to obtain the endorsement of God upon our lives, Jesus must become as real to us as the world was when we were sinners. He must become our mind, and we must become His obedient body. My prayer is that the vision of attaining the likeness of Christ will be branded upon all our hearts and that, as sincere followers of God's Son, the Father Himself will back our lives with power for His purpose.
Adapted from When the Many are One by Francis Frangipane, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This book demonstrates how Christians of every color, culture and denomination can work together to transform our communities. It calls us back to oneness with Christ, so that the power and character of Christ will flow through us to bring transformation. To order a copy click on this link: read more