THE CHURCH HAS NOT ALWAYS RECOGNIZED THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS OF WOMEN. BUT GOD HAS FASHIONED THEM TO BE KEY PLAYERS IN HIS KINGDOM.
Let's imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.
Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything's painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.
GOD'S GOAL FOR EVERY BELIEVER IS ONENESS WITH HIM. TO REACH IT, WE MUST TAKE ON THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
All the dealings God has with the soul of the believer are to bring it into oneness with Himself, that the final prayer Jesus prayed before He died may be fulfilled: "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us....I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:21-23, NKJV).
This divine union was the glorious purpose in the heart of God for His people before the foundation of the world. It was accomplished in the death of Christ. It has been made known by the Scriptures. It is realized as an actual experience by many of God's dear children.
GOD'S GRACE AND MERCY CAN COVER US AND EMPOWER US TO CHANGE, EVEN WHEN WE'VE BLOWN IT BADLY.
At this very moment, an ancient battle continues to wage between Satan the enemy of our souls, and the daughters of Eve. Since the Garden of Eden, this enemy has been unrelenting in his attempts to shame, strip and dishonor women in order to challenge God's work in their lives.
Sadly, his most vicious offensives are often launched under the guise of religion. Nowhere in the Bible is this more evident than in the story of the woman caught in adultery. This account, found in John 8:1-12, is an incredible and telling example of the cruelty of law and religion as well as the beauty of God's mercy and love.
I'm sure you are already familiar with this story. But I invite you to look at it again in a fresh light by imagining that you were there.
When Jesus was on Earth, He made an incredible promise to His disciples regarding prayer that is recorded in Mark 11:24: “‘Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’” (NKJV). This promise of answer to prayer is one of the most wonderful in all Scripture. But in how many hearts has it raised the question: However can I attain the faith that knows it receives all it asks?
It is this question our Lord would answer today. Before He gave that wonderful promise to His disciples, He spoke another word, in which He points out where the faith in the answer to prayer originates and ever finds its strength:
“‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever...does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says’” (v. 23). “Have faith in God.” This word precedes the other, “Have faith in the promise of an answer to prayer.”
The power to believe a promise depends entirely on faith in the promiser. Trust in the person begets trust in his word.
If you were once in the river of God but have gotten out, you can go back. Here's how.
Stephen Thompson played defensive tackle for the New York Jets during the heyday of Joe Namath. He even has a Super Bowl ring and flashes it occasionally if someone tries to intimidate him. But tackling the problem of staying in the river of God—the current flow of His Spirit— proved to be an even greater challenge than tackling football superstars.
After his days as a pro football player Stephen and his wife, Starla, entered the ministry. He became pastor of a church near Seattle in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination founded by Aimee Semple McPherson, the famous woman evangelist of the early 1900s. The denomination's Pentecostal roots, however, did not seem to prepare the members of Stephen's church for the current move of the Spirit.
If we are to see the church strengthened and the nation healed, we must learn how to approach the throne of God in humble, reverent worship.
America is in a time of crisis. During the last several decades, more and more people have turned away from God, no longer wanting to hear what He has to say about their lives and circumstances. The result has been a frightening moral decline that threatens to destroy our country from the inside out.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, however, many ears have begun to open again. Fearful and uncertain about the future, many people are more willing than ever to listen to what God, through His church, has to say about the evil that has befallen our nation.
What a profound opportunity we have to see this nation turn back to God and to bring in a great harvest of souls! If we will cooperate with Him, God will turn the present evil to good and use it for His glory.
Everyday we pass up opportunities to reveal Jesus to others. But with a little creativity we can seize those moments for eternity.
One of the last things Jesus said to the disciples was, "'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature'" (Mark 16:15, NKJV). This Scripture applies to His followers today as well, but it doesn't mean we all have to leave our jobs and homes and go into full-time ministry. It simply means we are to act as Jesus acted.
Jesus deposited His life in us, the church. Now we are commissioned to do just what He did--and He gave us the power and authority to do it. He said, "'I give you the authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you'" (Luke 10:19).
The problem is that we often put limits on God. We acquire wrong mind-sets about the ways in which He works--or the ways in which He will work through us. We need to ask Him to remove the mental "box" that limits our faith and to help us believe that the same Spirit who was in Jesus is in us, making it possible for us to operate in the same types of ministry He did.
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.