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Wisdom for Adversity

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. —Psalm 91:1

An elderly man stood up in a testimony service, waved his handkerchief, and said, "I've been serving the Lord for fifty years, and I want to testify that in that fifty years I have never been down-.-.-.-not one day-.-.-.-not one time."

There was also a young man in that service who had recently given his life to Jesus. He stopped the old man as he was leaving and said, "I don't understand. I gave my life to Jesus, and it seems like all hell broke loose. How can you say you have never been down?"

The old gentleman replied with words of wisdom, "Son, I've never been down, because I have always either been up or getting up."

If you are fighting a little adversity, dance longer, shout louder, and pray harder. Tell the devil you are not giving up; you are enduring to the end. Born-again, Spirit-filled believers may wobble, but they don't fall down. Claim His promise today: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand" (Psalm 37:23-24).

Lord, whenever I stumble, lift me up by
Your hand. Uphold me in Your arms.
Cover me with Your wings. Shelter me in
the Rock. Amen. read more

I'll Never Become a Christian Because...


People who resist the gospel almost always use one of five generic excuses. Here's how you can respond.

All of us who follow Christ are called to the task of evangelism. Sadly, witnessing to unbelievers about the Christian faith is a scary prospect for many churchgoers.

I often hear their worries expressed like this: "But what if I get into a discussion and don't know the answer?" or "What if they get angry with me?" or "What if I end up looking stupid?"

We all struggle with the fear of being rejected. We also are afraid we will "lose" the argument. But we must understand that evangelism is not arguing.

First Peter 3:15 says: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (NIV).

In Philemon we are encouraged to "be active in sharing [our] faith, so that [we] will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ" (v.6). Note that both of these verses are intended to be applied within the context of active evangelism--not passive religious discussion or arguing.

Jesus never argued with anybody. He certainly had His differences of opinion with the Pharisees, but He didn't fight with them.

The Bible says we are called to be witnesses--not debators. To be effective in evangelism we must simply learn to rely on the Holy Spirit's power--and be prepared to respond to the questions others have about our faith.

In my many witnessing experiences on college campuses, I've learned to lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance in my conversations. I've also learned that most people have the same common excuses.

But rest assured, God is not looking for expert witnesses who have doctorates in theology. He is looking for faithful witnesses who are willing to share their faith with others. Here are five of the most common objections people will express when you share the gospel with them:

1. Don't all religions teach basically the same things but just use different names for God?

Because of my father's job with the Canadian Embassy, I have traveled to and lived in more than 40 nations. I encountered a number of world religions, philosophies and ideologies in my own search for truth.

Looking beneath the surface similarities, the world's religions are significantly different. One major difference is the contradictory view of the nature of God.

For example, some forms of Buddhism do not teach about God at all. Hinduism teaches that multiple gods exist and that even rocks, trees and animals are part of these gods. Christianity teaches that God exists but that He is separate from all creation.

Because various world religions offer mutually exclusive definitions, they cannot possibly be descriptions of the same God.

Most religions see Jesus as a prophet from God but not as who He claimed to be--the incarnation of God Himself. The Bible describes Jesus in an unprecedented fashion found in no other sacred text--as "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14).

Other religions also deny that Jesus' mission was to give His life on the cross as a payment for our sins. Jesus is unique in that He not only claimed to be God but also proved it through His resurrection.

People who think all religions are the same usually ask, "As long as you are sincere, what difference does it make what you believe?" Consider Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. Were these men not sincere? Sincerity is never a measure of truth.

And sincerely believing something doesn't make it true. You can be sincere and wrong at the same time.

2. Isn't it narrow-minded for Christians to think they're the only ones who are right?

I hear the "Christians are narrow-minded" argument all the time. Modern pluralists say they want a "tolerant" society that embraces all religions and lifestyles. They want a world where anything goes.

Yet Jesus never talked about tolerance but rather commanded His followers to demonstrate a far higher objective--to show love to all people. Though it is possible to tolerate someone without loving him, the reverse is impossible.

Jesus was not a model of tolerance. He was so intolerant of our lost condition, in fact, that He came to Earth to do something about it! He was intolerant of a number of things, including sin, hypocrisy and selfishness.

The issue is not really with us. It was Jesus Himself who said: "'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'" (John 14:6, NKJV).

Jesus claimed to be the unique pathway to God and to eternal life. The important question is whether or not we have good reason to accept His position over all the other options.

I say this to people who think Christianity is narrow-minded: "Do you believe that 1+1=2? Do you believe that water boils at 212 F at sea level? If so, should you be considered narrow-minded, or do you have good reason for believing these are the only acceptable answers?"

3. I don't believe the Bible. It is a book of myths and legends put together by pre-scientific men marked by superstitions and fears.

When people bring up this objection, I usually ask them, "Have you ever read the Bible?" Unfortunately, most haven't. If they respond positively, I ask them, "How much of the Bible have you read?" Typically they have read very little.

If they claim to have read the entire Bible I ask them, "What do you believe the central message of the Bible is?" At this point most get it wrong. The vast majority of people who have a negative opinion of the Bible have formulated it before reading the text.

We must remember, however, to be gentle when reminding people of their inconsistencies so that we don't discourage them from further dialogue as we direct them toward the cross.

The Bible stands head and shoulders above any work of antiquity for both trustworthiness and bibliographical accuracy. The New Testament, in particular, offers a greater number of surviving manuscript copies (about 24,000) and a shorter time span between copies (about 50 years) than any other bibliographical work in the world!

Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix comment in A General Introduction to the Bible, "For all practical purposes the modern critical editions of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible represent, with their footnotes, exactly what the autographs (original documents) contained--line for line, word for word, and even letter for letter."

The Bible tells us that "above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:20-21, NIV). Like most other sacred texts, Scripture claims to be divinely inspired.

The uniqueness of the Bible is that it is the only holy book in the world having substitutionary atonement as its core belief. Jesus satisfied the demands of justice from a holy God, enabling the guilty parties (you and me) to be forgiven and experience true freedom through His death and resurrection.

No other religion in the world can offer you that. As you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit makes the text come alive, giving new understanding and revelation in a personally applicable way.

Because it is divinely inspired it consequently is authoritative to all areas of life. It speaks beyond the intellect to the depths of the heart, empowering us to make positive inner choices (repentance and faith) that produce beneficial lifestyle changes (regeneration and sanctification).

4. If a loving and all-powerful God really exists, why doesn't He do something about the evil in the world?

This is a difficult question. We must come to the realization that evil is not just some vague force that hovers around somewhere; instead it is personal and lives within each of us. If God wanted to get rid of evil, He would have to get rid of us as well!

God created us with a free will because He loves us. We can each choose to love and follow Him or to reject and turn away from Him. Without free will there would be no love.

We all have chosen at various times in our lives to rebel against Him and follow our own inclinations. Realizing we are part of the "evil" that people say God "should do something about" gives us a new and humble perspective.

With free will comes consequences for the things we choose. We live in a culture that cries out for freedom of choice but hates the responsibilities that come with it.

Consider the many lawsuits that have been initiated against fast food restaurants because people chose to eat there but then got fat. This "passing the buck" mentality is symptomatic of our fallen nature (see Gen. 3).

If God were to limit the consequences of evil, our free will would disappear, and moral consequences would become a mere game. Suffering often teaches us life's greatest lessons. In fact, the Bible says that even Jesus learned through what He suffered (see Heb. 5:8).

The Bible does tell us that God is both "just" and "merciful." In His mercy, He is patiently giving us time to turn to Him and receive the forgiveness and life He offers. God also promises that He will put an end to all evil and one day will execute final judgment.

Ironically, the existence of evil should lead us toward belief in God, not away from it. Without God there would be no standard of right and wrong.

The concepts of both "good" and "evil" are moral values or judgments that denote the existence of a moral governor (God). Without God, we would have come into existence by chance, and whatever we do would have no meaning or moral value, positive or negative.

Some people claim to believe this is the case, but their responses to life often reveal inconsistencies in their own convictions. As soon as they complain about some "injustice" or "unfair" situation or claim that someone has "wronged" them, they are making moral judgments about what is "right" and "wrong."

These judgments betray their belief in standards that are ultimately above us all--standards that come not from us but from God.

5. I don't believe in God. What kind of proof can you offer me that He exists?

Science points to the highly complex order in the universe. We also see complexity and order in the human body. Elementary logic tells us that any type of design demands a designer.

At this point another question often arises: Where did God Himself come from?

According to the Bible, God is the uncaused cause of all things. He has always existed.

In the Bible, His existence is considered an axiom (a self-evident truth). Because of the abundant evidence of Him in nature, He in no way attempts to justify that He exists.

But evidence is found in written history. Jewish, Roman, Greek and other sources all support the miraculous events of Jesus' life. Examples include His fulfilling more than 330 specific prophecies recorded hundreds of years earlier and performing numerous miracles.

The single biggest reason I know that God exists is that 23 years ago He changed my life in a way that was humanly impossible. I found that in spite of doing well both academically and athletically, there remained a distinct lack of overall purpose and direction to my life.

The ultimate fulfillment I sought was finally realized when I accepted Christ. His forgiveness and love has completely altered the course of my life. His peace and joy are now a daily reality.

Like me, most Christians have a testimony about the ways in which Jesus has changed their lives. If you learn to share your story effectively and to answer the objections unbelievers may pose, you will find evangelism easy and will bring many souls to faith in Jesus.

Darwin Dewar is associate pastor of Church on 99 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is also a chaplain at the University of Alberta. read more

Talk Your Way Out of Difficulty

The tongue is the red carpet we throw out to Satan to walk right into our lives with his special delivery of troubles.




Psalm 50:1-23 There is one promise of God that will be fulfilled in every life. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Because we live in a fallen world, there will always be trouble.

This psalm reveals two important responses we should have when trouble comes our way. Verse 15 exhorts us to call upon the Lord in our day of trouble. Verse 23 exhorts us to praise the Lord and to order our conversation aright.



If we will call upon the Lord in the day of trouble, the promise is He will deliver us. If we will praise the Lord and order our conversation aright in the day of trouble, He will show us His salvation.



The moment we enter troublesome times, we should first pray—and then we should be careful about what we say. God will be glorified when we do these two things. If we fail to call upon God in our troubled times, the hope of being delivered through or out of the trouble will be slim.



Preventative medicine is better than a cure. A lot of the trouble we find ourselves in is self-inflicted. We have submitted to fleshly lusts instead of following the Spirit. The preventative medicine to keep us out of trouble is God’s Word and prayer. We can prevent the majority of troubles in our lives if we are not anxious about anything, but instead pray about everything. If we stay in God’s Word daily, chances are we will be able to discern the origin of the thoughts we have throughout the day. Our thoughts usually come from three sources: God, our own flesh or the devil. We will only be able to recognize the counterfeit if we know the Truth, and we find that in God’s Word. We only can take those thoughts captive to Jesus if we recognize who gave us those thoughts.



Another preventative medicine is to be careful about what we speak. There is a proverb that says, “He that keepeth his lips is wise; he keeps his soul from troubles.” We get into trouble many times just because we have not been wise in our speech.

David, when he wrote this psalm, knew that the only way God could be glorified in our lives was if we learned to order our conversations aright. The tongue is the red carpet we throw out to Satan to walk right into our lives with his special delivery of troubles.



Even if we guard our tongues, pray about everything and stay in God’s Word, some troubles will come our way simply because we live in a corrupt world. Tribulation is in the world and always will be until the Lord sets up His kingdom on earth. The moment trouble comes knocking on your door, you need to begin to praise the Lord because you know He is in control. His plan is to work good out of what Satan means for evil.

The moment you begin to praise the Lord, a glory shield is placed around you because you have ordered your conversation aright. You will not be overwhelmed by whatever trial is facing you. You will be at peace and can even experience fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord. read more

Is Something Missing?

Many Christians follow all the "right" rules and carefully live "the Christian life," but inside they are wondering: Is this it? Is this all there is? I experienced that same emptiness in 1976 when as a young Christian I realized that doing the right things brought temporary happiness but not deep, satisfying joy.

In those early days of my walk with God, I could only see Him from a distance. Even though I was doing what I thought He required of me, I still felt that I needed change in my life. I was searching, but I didn't know what I was searching for. read more

Purified by the Fire

This is a message from Matt Sorger, founder of Matt Sorger Ministries, who received prophetic insight for the body of Christ at a service in Chesapeake, Va. We are presenting an abbreviated version of the second part of his message, which emphasizes God’s desire for a pure bride who has been refined and who has learned the secret of complete satisfaction and joy.

God is not looking … for gifted individuals. God is looking for pure, clean vessels that have been refined in the fire of God. … [He is] getting the bride ready. He’s getting the bride ready for His coming. He’s calling. He’s calling the bride. “Get your garments ready. Get your wedding dress ready.” … He’s coming back for a pure, spotless, clean bride. read more

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