DOES GOD EVER ASK HIS SERVANTS TO WALK WITH HIM IN PLACES THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE AND EVEN UNDESIRABLE? THE SCRIPTURES AND HISTORY TELL US, YES.
One of the most stunning comments I ever heard, almost a throwaway remark, came from one of the most famous ministers in the world. He said to me, "R.T., the more God uses me, the less I am able to enjoy it."
This may be incomprehensible to some, but I know exactly what he meant. God has many ways of ensuring that while we enjoy His blessing, we do not become conceited.
WHETHER YOU'RE A PARENT OR NOT, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LOOKING TO YOU FOR GUIDANCE. LET'S STEER THEM INTO GOD'S PURPOSE.
"Lord, have mercy on our souls," I mumbled to myself as my friend Marvie turned the key in the ignition. She was 16, did not have a driver's license and was behind the wheel of my father's car. I was 15, was a nervous wreck on the passenger side and had just pulled off an unlikely scheme to fool my Dad into handing over the keys.
Our mission was to make it to a gospel concert at Detroit's Northwest Activity Center. We were determined to fulfill that mission. After all, we both loved good singing, and it wasn't as if we were sneaking off to a Jackson 5 concert. It was a gospel concert, for goodness' sake.
Needless to say, it didn't take long for the whole plan to unravel. Although we made it to the auditorium, we never heard one note of that good singing.
IF WE WILL FOCUS ON GOD, HIS TRUTH WILL STRIP AWAY THE SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO DEPRESSION AND BEGIN THE HEALING PROCESS
God has a potent, supernatural prescription for depression—His Word! Hebrews 4:12 says, "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (NKJV). The Word will not only diagnose our condition, it will also prescribe a potent treatment program that drives depression out of our lives and sets us free! God's Word is the ultimate antidepressant.
God's plan for dealing with depression is very different from the world's plan. The world wants us to reopen our wounds and recall every injustice from the past. The Word tells us to focus on the Healer.
BEFORE YOU CONQUER YOUR JERICHO, YOU MUST SEEK GOD FOR HIS WAR STRATEGY.
Joshua never had to face the kind of fearsome threats that challenge believers today. When he led Israel into the promised land, he didn't have to worry about the likes of Saddam Hussein, chemical weapons or suicide bombers. On the home front, he didn't have to concern himself with job layoffs, rising gas prices, a shaky stock market or the loss of his retirement portfolio.
But Joshua did have to face his own set of giants. Just across the Jordan River were real threats that had many of his fellow Israelites shaking in their boots.
How did he approach these giants and ultimately defeat them? By pressing into the Lord to gain a fresh strategy for each new battle.
NEW TRENDS IN BIBLE STUDIES CATER TO THE TIME-DEPRIVED AND THE INTERNET SAVVY.
Women have long been known to be the backbone of Christian congregations in America. According to a 2000 report from Christian researcher George Barna, one out of every five Christian women—or 20 percent—belong to a small group that meets regularly for Bible study, prayer or Christian fellowship. The same statistic among men is only 13 percent.
Unfortunately, family and jobs tend to dictate how much time a woman devotes to study of the Word. As women progress through different life stages they desire Bible studies that are tailored to their interests, schedules and spiritual maturity.
"There will always be new moms looking for new-mom studies and a new batch of empty nesters looking for empty-nester material," says Jennifer Leo, marketing director for Tyndale House Publishers. "The same woman will look for different things at different points in her life."
Authors have stepped up to the plate and created Bible studies that cover all areas of the spectrum: some require no homework, others include daily assignments; some are designed for personal study and others are for groups; and some studies are self-contained while others guide users to utilize encyclopedias, concordances and different translations of the Bible.
Here are some trends to consider when looking for your next Bible study and ideas to make current study more meaningful.
She was the wife of a young pastor with a thriving congregation. Heavily involved in the church, she had been a vital key to its spiritual vibrancy and growth. She was also the soon-to-be mother of her second child.
"Before I heard your message, I felt frustrated and guilty," she admitted to me. "On the one hand, I saw the ministry needs of the people around me. On the other, I knew I had a new baby on the way who would need my attention and nurture.
Seeing your son or daughter choose to follow the Lord is a christian parent's greatest joy. Here's how to help your kids embrace their spiritual journeys.
One of the most memorable moments for Christian parents is their child's awakening to faith. What God wants, and what any clear-thinking Christian parent wants, is for children to come to the place where they "own" their relationship with God.
Some children take the long route on their journey of faith and make their commitment to the Lord in their teen-age years--or later. While this may be nerve-racking to the Christian parent, not every soul is on the hoped-for evangelical timetable of "accept the Lord in the preschool years, rededicate or get baptized in the teen-age years and serve the Lord for life thereafter."
Helping your child own a strong faith in Jesus Christ begins with you, the parent. You must embrace the journey each child is on and get comfortable with the fact that you are not in control of this process. If you do try to control it, you may be ensuring that your child gets to his destination the long way.
In every person's life, there are defining moments that stand out in such relief that the course of our individual lives will never be the same. Rarely, however, is there a moment of such cataclysmic proportions that the collective heartbeat of a nation seems to stop—a supremely defining instant after which our collective lives will forever be changed. Such an event was the real and symbolic 911 call that arrested the world's attention at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.
This unspeakable act of barbaric cruelty left us in a state of primal shock and fear for ourselves, our children, our way of life, our nation and our world. Our emotions ranged from blood-red rage, righteous wrath and an indiscriminate cry for revenge to a grief too powerful and profound to be spoken—and in many instances even shared.
The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings. —Prov. 1:2, NLT
Are you looking for “ancient wisdom” with a modern application? Look no further; the book of Proverbs contains your answer! Proverbs is a unique collection of short, pithy sayings designed to impart wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
Proverbs is undoubtedly one of the most practical books in the entire Bible. Why? Because it deals with the practical, everyday issues of life. Oddly enough, little if any mention is made in the book about heaven or the afterlife. Rather, it is packed with information about living in the here and now.
Lisa Bevere shares her testimony of how God took her out of her comfort zone so she would be equipped to bring other women comfort. She discusses how facing our fears can make us stronger, godly women.
In a marriage, finances are often seen as a place where you can win or lose. Many women spend a great deal of time trying to wield the upper hand in this area because they don't understand their husband's financial philosophy and don't appreciate the way he manages money.
Whether you see your husband as a cheapskate or a spendthrift, you may think it seems logical to counter his approach in order to balance him out. If you decide to beat the cheapskate by talking him into buying something or to conquer the spendthrift by nagging him into saving, your celebration is likely to be both lonely and brief.
How comforting it is to know that the Lord's Prayer covers every aspect of the Christian life! I have stated many times that if all we had was this small portion of the Bible as given from the lips of Jesus, we would have enough gospel to know how to be saved and how to live victoriously. This prayer includes every facet of a man's physical and spiritual life.
It's no surprise, then, that it includes the phrase "Lead us not into temptation." Jesus knew the difficulties we would face and the temptations that would lure every human being.
Everywhere we go we are in relationship with other people—at home, at work, at church. Being involved in good relationships is one of the things that makes our lives enjoyable. But in order to experience the fullest potential they have to offer, we must build them on a strong foundation.
I have discovered that the strongest foundation for good relations is love. Jesus said, “By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]” (John 13:35, AMP).
In Genesis 13 (Read Genesis 13), Lot chose selfishly and moved his family to the choicest land—near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose inhabitants sinned greatly. Abram, Lot’s uncle, generously let him go; and for his generosity, God blessed Abram and allowed him to settle his family in a safe area.
Later, God used Abram to rescue Lot from the evil cities before He destroyed them. Abram learned the blessings of being generous and following God’s plan.
We often think of giving as being limited to money or things. We need to give our time or talents to the Lord as well. The abilities the Lord has given you can be offered as a special gift.
On occasion, the most important thing we can give to help others is our time. Giving with a cheerful heart comes when we give our time, money or talents as if we were giving them directly to the Lord.
Though others may not receive these thankfully, God will add His blessing to our willingness to give.
A missionary learned this when he agreed to minister to the congregation of a poor church. Not expecting a significant offering, he nevertheless was excited to meet and talk with the people on the front porch after the service.
As he was leaving for the night, a woman approached him and handed him two $1 bills. “This is all I have but I want to give it to you so you can tell others about the love of Jesus,” she said. The missionary carries the two bills to this day to remind him of her perfect example of sacrificial giving out of a heart of love.
We never should give with the intention of gaining something in return from the Lord. We should give only as an act of love. The study note for 2 Corinthians 9:11 from the Fire Bible: Global Edition puts it this way:
“In order for us to express true generosity outwardly, our hearts must become rich in true love and compassion for others. We should always pray and ask God to give us this kind of heart for others. Giving of ourselves and our possessions results in (1) supplying the needs of those who are lacking in some way, (2) praise and thanksgiving to God (v. 12) and (3) love from those who receive our help (v. 14).”
Consider your attitude toward giving. How can you give of your (1) time; (2) talents; (3) money/resources?
Hide the Word in Your Heart memory verse: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
Struggling with the voices in your mind leads to weariness. You can silence them instead with God's Word.
The time we live in is unlike any the world has ever known. I call it the "age of terror" because in this season fear has launched a massive assault on mankind. New dangers and diseases are looming on the horizon. There are major wars being fought abroad, and even on the home front, civilians feel unsafe as they go about their daily business.
But the outward threats are nothing compared to the inner turmoil with which many struggle. Warfare in both the natural and the spiritual realms is taking place on a scale the church has never experienced. Will we be overcomers, or will we be overcome?
When times are tough, it’s easy to feel that God has abandoned us. We must learn that His presence is a promise.
More than once during your spiritual journey, particularly when you were facing difficult circumstances, you have undoubtedly asked yourself, “How can I know God’s presence in my life?” This is the type of question that often draws a cliché and leaves the inquirer feeling somewhat guilty for having asked it. Among those clichés may be the quoting of various Scriptures such as Matthew18:20: “‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them’” (NKJV) or Psalm 22:3: “But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.”
The inference is that one need only gather with others to pray or sing praises to the Lord to be assured of His presence. Add Psalm100 to these verses and you will be given the key to entering His presence: Begin with thanksgiving, progress to praise and ultimately be swept through the veil, standing before Him with singing.
Have you ever heard the expression "going to hell in a handbasket"? Doesn't it sometimes seem—at least, judging by our leaders—as if that's what the body of Christ is doing? We have high-profile charismatic preachers divorcing their wives to marry someone else, evangelical pastors falling prey to Internet pornography, mainline denominational priests sexually abusing their congregants' children and, more recently, a homosexual priest being raised up to the position of bishop. As a Christian journalist, I hear the reports—and I cringe.
But I have learned that if we focus on what we see, we can easily become discouraged. So I choose to keep my eyes on Jesus, the magnificent Bridegroom, and my heart anchored in His Word, which tells us that Christ gave Himself for the church "that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27, NKJV, emphasis added). His plan is for us to be a glorious church—a beautiful, wrinkle-free bride.