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Who Are We to Pass Judgment?

Few of us really understand the role that our critical thoughts play in our relationships. Nor do we realize how our opinions or prayers can shape or influence another person's behavior.

Often we can be extremely merciful with ourselves while at the same time being merciless, unforgiving and impatient with other people.

Our struggles may be different, but God is at work in all of us. Not one of us has achieved perfection; only Christ. read more

Responding to the Patriarchal Spirit

Any woman who has served in Christian ministry has observed it. The patriarchal spirit seeks to prohibit the release of women into leadership roles.

Today there are scores of men who are championing the cause of women in the church. Yet the theological and cultural debates go on.

Christ elevated the status of women. He will continue to do so as long as our hearts are pure and our focus is on Him! read more

Watching and Waiting

God blesses and energizes those who sacrifice by fasting sleep in order to pray. Special grace accompanies this experience, along with the privilege of witnessing miracles, healings and visitations of God's Spirit.

Being available to God all through the evening hours and denying the flesh produces an environment that welcomes His manifest presence, provokes intercession and brings clarity of His will. Once God reveals what is on His heart, the waiting watchman is invited to intercede in agreement with His purposes. read more

Unconditional Trust

No more profound biblical example of costly obedience and trust exists than in the figure of Abraham. His trust in God was resolute, and his worship was expensive--it cost him everything.

He was asked to sacrifice not only his son but also his interpretation of what God had promised in the generations that would come through him. Nevertheless, he was willing to trust God with the consequences of what He required, and he established a testimony of faithful obedience by which all followers of Jehovah could be inspired. read more

Good and Perfect Gifts

The book of James admonished first-century Jewish believers to forgo the lure of worldliness and, in spite of persecution, to hold fast to their faith.

More than an epistle of trials, testings and temptations, James is a book of assurances and promises from the God of love to those who would choose to walk in the freedom of knowing Him. read more

The Psalm of Rest

To be a follower of Christ is to enjoy the blessings of His fellowship, His protection and His provision. For it is His duty to preserve the lives of those in His care.

As in nature, a disobedient or unruly sheep is subject to danger and appointed for chastening by the Shepherd. But along the paths of obedience reside provision, peace and rest from enemies within and without.

The very presence of our Shepherd refreshes and restores us. His persistent love and kindness will pursue us forever. read more

Woman to Woman

In her moment of greatest rejoicing, Mary, the mother of Jesus, sought the maturity and wisdom of her older cousin, Elizabeth, who had also received a miraculous visitation.

But upon Mary's appearance, the older Elizabeth became subject to the younger woman, because of the magnitude of Mary's assignment from God.

These two women's lives were strategically intertwined; they were family, but more. Their relationship was eternally significant. The same would be true of the relationship between their sons--John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah. read more

Leading Children into Worship

Children naturally seem to welcome the reality of God. In their innocence, once they are introduced to the Lord, they accept His existence and, unless they are hindered, readily begin to relate to His presence.

Adults need the freedom to worship, sing and dance with the abandon of children. Our natural reserve makes it all the more important that we embrace and encourage the enthusiasm with which our children interact with the Spirit of God. read more

The Requirement of Absolute Surrender

In each of us the ongoing work of the Spirit is the cultivation of a yielded heart, obedient to His most subtle promptings. More than an act of the will, it is a continual dying to self that releases in us the power to overcome the flesh and surrender to God.

Andrew Murray acknowledges our role in willing our lives to be yielded to God's purposes but de-emphasizes it. He stresses instead our dependence on our faithful God to supply both the desire for surrender and the power to activate it. read more

The Heart of a Worshiper

Worship is an attitude of the heart that expresses itself in a lifestyle wholly given to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Only a heart that is yielded to His will and purposes can truly worship Him.

Yet, worship is why we are here. For the Almighty, who created all things, finds pleasure and delight in us when we turn our hearts to Him and away from all that He has made for us to enjoy. read more

Grace in Conflict

Because we aren't thoroughly convinced of God's unconditional love, we place enormous demands on others and ourselves. When the standards of performance aren't met, we have difficulty accepting God's love and forgiveness, and we withhold those things from others.

In order to protect ourselves, we tend to shy away from conflict. Often we choose to forfeit relationships or settle for less than adequate ones rather than risking the unpleasantness of confrontation and change.

But with God's help, we can learn to benefit from the very relationships that seem the most troubling. In resolving difficult issues, we don't have to allow conflict to drive us apart. We can use it as a catalyst for growth. read more

The Praying Life of Jesus

The life of ardent, incessant prayer is one of supernatural power, provision and peace. In essence, it is the life of Christ formed and activated in us.

Jesus, who lived a life of total dependence on His Father, was at all times at rest in God's will and firmly anchored in His purpose. Even when He went to the cross, Christ's life was open to the Father so that He was able to pray that God would be glorified.

The praying life is connected to the divine flow of God's Spirit at every moment. It is an existence in which there is rest and continual access to the supernatural life of God. read more

The Quest for Glory

We were created in the image of God in order that we might respond to Him, fellowship with Him and reflect His love, glory and holiness. As carriers of the Spirit of God, we are to exemplify His nature in our interactions with other people. For this is how we bring glory to His name--by being filled to overflowing with His presence and allowing Him to be seen in us.

But how do we become fit vessels to contain the glory of God? Not surprisingly, God will be pleased to fill us with His glory when we humble our hearts to pray, worship Him and walk in obedience to His will. read more

What's Keeping Your Family from God

Most believers can attest to the difficulty in winning loved ones to Christ. With so many underlying emotions at work, it can be a daunting task that involves great personal risk.

A lover of God has no recourse but to utilize every means of making Him known to others. Any risk is worth it when we consider the calling to follow Christ's command to spread the gospel.

Ultimately, every individual must decide to accept or reject Christ. Each situation requires sensitivity to God and wisdom from Him to communicate the gospel to members of our family. Through Him, we can be effective witnesses and overcome any fear of rejection or loss of relationship. read more

The Witness of the Spirit

How awesome it is to have the ministry of the Spirit informing us, guiding our decisions and revealing the truth when it would be outside the reach of our natural sensibilities. Discernment is a gracious offering from God to His children to protect them from deception. But discernment works by faith and must be cultivated like any other gift through use.

We must choose to operate from a spiritual mind-set rather than a carnal one. When we are open to the leading of God's Spirit, He will give us discerning wisdom that may be totally hidden from us otherwise. The more we use our powers of spiritual discernment, the more keenly developed they will become. read more

Nothing Shall Hinder Us

The storms that we encounter in life can so devastate us that we fail to remember there is One present with us upon whose strength we can draw. Amy Carmichael and others believed that even dark clouds attest to the presence of God with us in life's storms, for they are but the shadows of His hand.

God will deliver us from every peril. But we can know this only through experience.

George Matheson wrote: "There is a life stronger than natural life. How could we learn this if natural life never failed us? How could faith begin if sight were perfect?" read more

The Fruit of Your Confession

Through carefully chosen words, we can encourage, counsel and edify ourselves and others. Conversely, words can also be used destructively both in our self-talk and in our communication with other people.

What we say bears witness to what we believe and defines our reality. This is why we must live the truth, asking God to help us align our thinking and speaking with what His Word says. read more

Paying the Price to Follow Christ

Elisabeth Farrell's compelling article graphically reminds us of the cost millions must pay in order to say yes to Christ. Often, due to our longheld kinship with freedom, we can't imagine the depths of suffering that others around the world endure for their faith.

It infuses our perspective with a healthy dose of realism when we recall that the freedoms we enjoy don't apply to everyone. However, because we are free to enjoy God's blessings and have the liberty to pray, the mandate to remember those saints who are enduring persecution falls to us. Let us be faithful to uphold them in our thoughts and prayers. read more

Submitting to God in Everything

True spiritual authority should operate in an environment of godly wisdom and mutual support that releases individuals to fulfill their callings in every area of their lives. God's Word directs us to humbly submit our lives to Him, and in so doing, find lasting freedom.

Submission to God or to His delegated authority is not to be feared, but embraced. God promises to reward us richly when we surrender our right to carve out our own destinies in order for His will to be done in and through us. read more

Rejoicing Comes in the Morning

Grief has the ability to destroy not only our present joy but also our future hope. Enduring heart-wrenching loss for which there can be no explanation is the greatest challenge to faith and trust in God.

What C.S. Lewis referred to as "the problem of pain" is the common thread that links all of humanity throughout the ages. No amount of questioning "Why?" will settle the issue and restore what has been lost.

There is peace to be had--but only through relinquishment of our right to understand. Our hope is re-established by trusting in the assurance of the ever-present Helper--the Savior--who knows what it means to suffer and can therefore comfort us, even when there is no explanation. read more

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Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit