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Christ's Advancing Kingdom

We should not be surprised when we see tremendous blessing and great evil appearing side by side. As believers today, I think we often look at the spiritual condition of our country and the rest of the world and we're given to think that God's kingdom is not advancing as it should be.

The other day, I heard someone say that the apparent worsening of the world's condition is not the result of our lack of spiritual authority and influence. Rather, the rise in hostility toward Christianity is a response to the power of God making inroads into the devil's domain.

Reading 2 Corinthians 1 in a contemporary version really opened my understanding on this subject. Paul wrote: "We don't want you to be in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. 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

Love Rules Over Legalism

One of the very first Bible passages most of us came to know was the parable of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37). In the story, a wounded man was left to die by the side of the road.

Two members of the religious hierarchy came upon him and, perhaps supposing that he was dead, dared not touch him for fear they would transgress the law. So they passed by, and the man was left there until a Samaritan came along who ministered compassion and kindness to him.

Adherence to the law caused the religious leaders to withhold help. But the higher law of love compelled the Samaritan to show the man mercy and to go out of his way to see that his needs were met. read more

Mary's Prophetic Journey

We're not told much in the Bible about the early days of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her life was undoubtedly quite common. However, the encounter with Gabriel changed all that.

Her life was extraordinary from the moment of the angel's visitation until her spiritual experience in the upper room. Through her experiences of tremendous joy and immense sorrow we see a portrait of the reality of a pure faith.

Mary's journey was prophetic in that it is also the journey that every believer takes who says yes to the divine calling. Mary was singled out for an enormous task, but upon dutifully obeying God, she became a party to the miraculous time and again. So can we. read more

The Tangled Web

Marital infidelity ranks extremely high on the scale of devastating life experiences. But it isn't the only relationship in which we can find our trust in people betrayed.

In Battlefield of the Mind, author Joyce Meyer writes that in following the example of Jesus, we should "trust God completely and man discreetly." Our trust in people, unlike our trust in God, must be tempered with the knowledge that we are all subject to disappoint one another.

Only the unfailing love of God can rescue us from despair when those close to us can't honor their commitments. We can stand up under the most severe, deliberate betrayal when we know without a doubt that Jesus never fails. read more

Living in God's Presence

Most of us live life at a dizzying speed that makes it increasingly difficult to experience the genuine peace that God intends. Often we forfeit His wisdom and direction because we're too distracted to slow our pace long enough to hear from Him.

We mistakenly believe that certain things don't require God's intervention. But this creates the problem of fragmentation. When we compartmentalize the sacred and the secular aspects of life, we often fail to understand that God wants us to be complete--wholly surrendered to Him and totally empowered by His Spirit in every area of life. read more

Taking Delight In Obedience

(Part 1)

The Lord is always looking for willing vessels of His love. Simply start reaching out to others, and you will begin to experience greater intimacy in Your worship and a more meaningful relationship with Him. read more

No More Office Nightmares

(Part 1)

Unrealistic expectations about your workplace will bring tremendous disappointment. Nevertheless, the love of God will find you and bring you back to a place of peace, if you surrender your will to His. read more

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