All posts by webadministrator

Peace!

“Seek peace and pursue it.”

— Psalm 34:14

What creates stress? Nowadays there are many situations that produce stress within us. We have stressful jobs, stressful relationships, stressful responsibilities. But listen to what one doctor says: “Since stress comes from the way in which you think, and not from the situation or people involved in your stress, you can begin to practice mind control.” Well, now, isn’t that news. Three thousand years after King David told us to “Seek peace and pursue it,” we discover that we can find the antidote for stress in our own minds.

The apostle Paul knew the importance of peace. He began many of his epistles with the words “Peace be unto you.” He ended many of them with “Grace, mercy and peace be yours.” Peace is the alpha and omega of the Christian’s well-being. As children of God, peace should be our normal state, and it will be the totality of our mental state in Heaven. But right now, unfortunately, many people fail to find it.

How sad it is to see unbelievers struggle—in vain—to find peace by turning to Eastern religious practices such as transcendental meditation or yoga. But even many believers don’t seem to find the peace they need. Instead, we all experience anxiety, stress, and a lack of serenity to some degree.

We need to seek the peace of God and pursue it in the morning, at night, throughout each day, in the midst of stressful situations. We need to recover weekly so that we don’t build up an accumulation of ever-growing stress in our lives. Do you feel stressed out, as if you can’t take any more? Then take time to lie “beside the still waters.” Take time out once a week for a restful, worshipful Sabbath. Above all, take time to really hear God’s words: “Be still and know that I am God.”

“It is not adversity that kills, but the impatience
with which we bear adversity.”
Anonymous

The Mirror Of The World

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

— Philippians 4:8

Whatever we hide in our hearts reflects in our behavior, and our behavior reflects our hearts to the world. If you could see your heart in a mirror, what characteristics would that mirror reflect?

A family decided to move to a town across the river from where they lived. They could only cross the river by sailing on a large raft. The family members asked the man who operated the raft, “What kind of people live in our new town?” He said, “Well, what kind of people did you find in your old town?” They said, “Oh, these were the most wonderful people—loving, caring, kind, and thoughtful. We really hate to lose them.” The man replied, “Well, I think you’ll find that the people in your new town are the same kind of folks.”

A week or so later, another family sailed across the same river on the same raft. The family members asked the man the same question as the first family, and they received a similar response: “What kind of people did you find in your old town?” This family said, “Oh, those folks. What a bunch of no-good, low-down cutthroats. They would lie about you, talk about you behind your back, and gossip. They’re malicious and vile. We couldn’t wait to get away from them.”

Each family had attracted people who mirrored their own behavior and would continue to do so no matter where they moved. In the same way, what we reflect to the world affects the environment around us. If we want to impact people to become loving, truthful, noble, pure, and virtuous, then we need to reflect those characteristics from our hearts.

Here are some Scriptures to hide in your heart that will reflect well in the world. “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24).

Today ask God to show you how you can better reflect godly characteristics to those around you. Then put into practice anything He asks of you. As you obey, God will use you to impact your world.

“The world is a looking glass and gives back to every
man the reflection of his own face.”
William Thackeray

Transforming Prayers

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

— James 4:3

Unanswered prayers are a stumbling block. Often when people pray but don’t hear answers from God, they believe that God doesn’t listen, that He doesn’t care, or even that He doesn’t exist. But God is most definitely there, and He wants to answer our prayers. However, we often get in His way. God doesn’t answer some of our prayers because we ask “amiss,” as James puts it. In other words, there’s something wrong with the sender (us), not the hearer (God), of the prayers.

If you’ve persistently asked God to answer a prayer, yet you haven’t heard an answer from Him, you might have “static on the line,” an obstruction in communication with your heavenly Father. I’d like to share with you five prayers that can put you back on course to an effective prayer life:

  1. “O God, slay me.” As new creatures in Christ we constantly wrestle with our old wretched selves. As long as the old nature prevails, God will not answer our prayers. Thus, we should ask God to slay our old nature.
  2. “O God, cleanse me by Thy blood.” If we expect God to answer our prayers, we should not come into His presence stained in sin. Instead we must confess and turn away from our sins.
  3. “Fill me with the Holy Spirit.” We need to pray that the Spirit will fill us and empower us to live for God daily and to overcome temptation.
  4. “God, lead me this day.” God has a perfect plan, a far better plan for our lives than we can create. We must allow Him to lead us in His will daily.
  5. “Dear Lord, use me this day for your glory.” We must make ourselves available to God as His bond servants, willing to do whatever He asks of us.

I encourage you to sincerely pray these prayers, meditate upon them, and use them to present yourself to God as a clean and willing servant. As you pray this way, Christ will surprise you with joy as He makes Himself known more fully in your daily walk. You’ll no doubt find that as you pray according to His will, you’ll experience some incredible answers beyond your wildest dreams.

“Heaven is never deaf but when man’s heart is dumb.”
Francis Quarles

Transforming Your Prayer Life

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss . . .”

— James 4:3

What do the following bestseller titles communicate to you about our society: The Virtue of Selfishness and Looking Out for Number One? What does it mean to you that we buy books like these in droves?

Tragically, selfishness characterizes our age. Our society has hurled God from the throne and crowned self as monarch. Then we’ve turned around and treated God as the conduit to all our desires. We “conjure up” God as if He were a genie in a bottle, commanding Him to manipulate the world to our liking.

But we shouldn’t treat God as a means to whatever we want. He isn’t a means to our own ends; He Himself is the end we should seek. If we think otherwise, we should ask the Lord to change our selfish hearts.

Selfishness is at the root of many an unanswered prayer. When we “ask amiss,” we ask for fulfillment of our selfish desires, not for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. But Christ showed us, through the Lord’s Prayer (found in Matthew 6), that we must seek God’s kingdom first, not our own. The first petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “Hallowed be thy name.” We should make it our priority to praise and honor God when we pray. The second petition reads, “Thy kingdom come.” We should diligently beseech Jesus Christ to bring His kingdom into this world and into our lives. The third petition is “Thy will be done.” We need to lay our will at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to fulfill His purposes through our lives.

Today pray, “Lord, what would you have me do this day?” Then make yourself available to do His will and further His kingdom in whatever way He desires. Pray every day, focusing your petitions not on yourself but on your King.

“Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”
Allen E. Bartlett

Your Thought Life

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he . . .”

— Proverbs 23:7

Many people constantly dwell on negative thoughts. They dwell on their fears, hurts, and problems. They focus on the fly in the ointment, never seeing the ointment but only the fly. With their negativity and destructiveness, these people can ruin the lives of those who have the misfortune of living with them and around them. Most of all, these pessimistic people destroy their own bodies and souls with their negative thoughts. And so their lives shrivel.

What kind of thoughts do you dwell on? Are you a positive thinker, or do you most often find yourself dwelling in the pit of despair?

Echoing a Biblical truth, Marcus Aurelius once said, “The most important things in life are the thoughts you choose to think.” The Bible says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Many people believe that they don’t choose their thoughts at all, that instead their thoughts choose them. Thoughts rush at them in a stream, like a rolling script going across a TV screen, and no one can control them. But this is not so.

We do choose our thoughts. We choose what we think, and what we choose to think impacts our lives. Our thoughts determine what we say and how we say it. They determine what we are and what we become. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” We are the outward embodiments, the incarnations, of our thoughts, and because of this, we need to choose well what we think.

Take notes from the apostle Paul. He was beaten and imprisoned for the Gospel’s sake. Because of all his trials, he could easily have had a gloomy outlook. Instead he chose to think good and positive thoughts, beginning with thoughts of the Lord. We should heed Paul’s instruction: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Do you need to make a thought adjustment today? Let me encourage you to counteract your negative thoughts with positive ones. And as you do this, watch how you and your life change.

“Every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought.”
James Allen

Debtors

“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.”

— Romans 1:14

Are you in debt? These days, it seems, who isn’t? But financial obligations are one thing. We also incur spiritual debts. Paul claimed he was a debtor to the Gentiles, the barbarians, the wise, and the unwise. Yet how could this be? What had those people done for him? Nothing at all. At least, nothing good. In fact five times they beat him with forty stripes minus one. Three times they beat him with rods, and once they stoned him and left him for dead. So what debt did he owe?

Just the same debt that pertains to every single person who claims to believe in Jesus Christ. Everyone who has received the gospel of Christ has received it as a steward, responsible to God, who gave it, and to the rest of humankind, for whom it’s intended.

“I am a debtor,” cried William Carey as he launched the modern missionary movement, setting sail for India to bring the Gospel to the Hindus.

“I am a debtor,” cried David Livingstone as he plunged for the first time into the interior of Africa to open the dark continent to the light of Christ’s gospel.

“I am a debtor,” cried William Wilberforce as he devoted his entire life to ridding Great Britain of the onerous slave trade. On his deathbed he received word that he had finally succeeded.

“I am a debtor,” cried Florence Nightingale as she went to far-flung battlefields to begin the noble profession of nursing, to bind up the wounded, and to care for the dying.

“I am a debtor,” cried William Booth as he started the Salvation Army to reach the downtrodden of the world.

And how about you, my friend? Are you a debtor? Does the realization of what Jesus Christ has done for you compel you to serve Him and others? Today ask God to use you to share the Good News.

“That land is henceforth my country which most needs the gospel.”
Count Zinzendorf

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

“. . . Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice . . .’”

— 1 Samuel 15:22

Do you ever dread going to the doctor or dentist, fearing what he or she might find in the exam? Well, every once in a while, we need to have a spiritual checkup, as painful as it may seem. Let’s search our hearts today.

Have you neglected any duty in your life that God has called you to perform? God wants us to obey Him. To obey (follow Him in whatever He asks) is better than sacrifice (the confessions we offer to Him). Husbands and wives, have you neglected duties to each other? Do you have that tender relationship of love and intimacy that Christ calls us to? Or have you let it sit on the back burner for a while? As children, do you honor your parents? Do you fully obey that commandment, or do you do it only when it’s convenient? What about the other commandments in the Bible and the whisperings of God to your heart, calling you to some great work—have you obeyed?

We also need to search our hearts for any evil. Have you persisted in evil habits contrary to God’s will? We need to allow God’s Word to convict us so that we might obey Him in all He asks. One of our church members told me that a few years ago I really convicted him when I talked about his addiction to cigarettes. This man was absolutely bound to smoking despite Scripture’s admonition against bondage to anything. I wonder how many condemn drug addiction in the young yet themselves nurture an addiction to cigarettes? Some four hundred thousand Americans will die this year from smoking-related diseases. Others are in bondage to the bottle and refuse to obey the Lord, refuse to see their bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yet others habitually look at pornography in magazines, movies, television, or videos, all of which surround us like a polluted swamp.

Consider your life today. Have you avoided a duty God has called you to? Do you not want to hear some passage of Scripture because you know you are disobeying it? Then face it today. Ask God to forgive you, then purpose in your heart to obey. Remember: “To obey is better than sacrifice.”

“Yes, Lord.”
Motto spotted above the sink of a joyful,
well-respected, active christian

Our Footprints

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

— Daniel 12:3

When your time comes to leave this earth, what would you like others to remember about you? Have you thought of how you could make a lasting impact on this world? Most of us would like to know that we’ve made some enduring contribution and that people will never forget us. We hope that our lives will not have been just footprints in the sand along the edge of the water, washed away by the next wave to hit the shore.

Ever since the beginning of humankind, people have desired to make a memorable stamp on the world. Some people have attempted to leave great monuments to secure their names in the annals of history. Have they succeeded? Consider the Great Pyramid of Giza, no doubt one of the most massive structures in the world. Someone built that pyramid as a memorial to himself. “Who?” you ask. He was King Khufu, not exactly a household name. The Shah of India had a similar wish, desiring that his wife would be remembered by others for centuries. So the shah built the Taj Mahal. Yet he, too, built in vain; after all, who knows the name of Arjumand? How about the Great Wall of China? The Wall is the largest man-made structure in the world. Astronauts say you can even see it from outer space. Yet no one remembers the name of Chin She Whon Tea, the man initially responsible for this incredible structure.

While these people are forgotten by the masses, we can make a permanent imprint on the world. In fact, God placed the desire in our hearts for significance and permanence. Why? Because we’re bound for eternal life. So how can we make a name for ourselves for eternity? By bringing others to a saving knowledge of Christ’s grace that they may have eternal life.

Do you know someone who needs to discover God’s gift of grace? Those saved through you will be ever grateful that you took the time and made the effort to bring them into God’s presence. If you bring others to Christ, you shall shine like the stars of the firmament forever.

“He who has no vision of eternity has no hold on time.”
Thomas Carlyle

Two Options

“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts . . .”

— Hebrews 3:15

There are two groups of people: those who are on their way to Heaven and those who are not. The first group comprises people who have trusted in Christ alone for their salvation, gaining eternal life for their souls through Christ’s death on the cross. The second group consists of people who haven’t committed their lives to Christ, including (ironically) those who may be trying to work their way into Heaven, hoping to gain entrance by their own merits.

Which group are you in today? Have you made the decision to give your life to Christ? Many decisions in life offer only two options. And often we find that while we’re deciding which option to choose, we’ve already chosen one by default. For example, suppose your car is stalled on a railroad track, and before you’ve restarted it, a train approaches at high speed. Two options now loom before you. You can leap from your car and save your life, or you can stay in your car and try to save both your life and your auto. As you weigh the dangers and gains of both options, you’ve made a choice with life-impacting consequences: You’re still in your car, and the train is still coming.

Likewise, you have two options today: life or death. But while you consider your options, you’ve already made a choice, for if you’ve never accepted Christ, you’re still in that state of death into which every soul was born. And every second you put off that decision, the judgment train of God continues to roll.

Christ’s gift of salvation is the greatest offer ever made. Someday God will rescind His offer, and this period of grace will end forever. But now, the sun of His grace shines, and the offer of His free gift is still available. I urge you this day, at the dawn of this new year (if you have not already), to repent of your sins, to place your faith in Jesus, and to accept Him as your Savior and Lord. Your life will never be the same again.

“Salvation is free for you because someone else paid.”
Anonymous

The Folly Of Shortsightedness

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

— 2 Corinthians 5:7

Is your spiritual vision 20/20? Sadly, many of us suffer from spiritual shortsightedness. For example, Adam and Eve exhibited shortsightedness as they contemplated only the immediate delight and satisfaction that would come from eating the forbidden fruit. They didn’t consider the long-term, disastrous results.

Abraham, on the other hand, was a man of great vision. The Bible says that Abraham sought a city whose builder and maker was God. Though he passed through many of the cities of this world, he knew his long-term search would be worthwhile.

Moses is also a prime example of a man with farsighted vision. He endured seeing Him who is invisible. That takes very long vision, and God calls us to the same effort. We must look not merely upon the things we can see—short-lived, temporal things—but upon the things we cannot see—the long-term, the eternal. Yet most people spend more time planning a party than they do planning where they’ll spend eternity. How many people have told me that they’re ready to die because they’ve made out their wills and have bought their burial plots. How utterly deceived people can be. No wonder the Bible calls sin folly and the sinner a fool, because our shortsightedness is foolishness.

If God had called us to climb Mount Everest in order to gain eternal life, millions would line up to try it. But He calls us to no such arduous task as that but instead to simple trust in Christ as our Savior. Doing that humbles us because we must acknowledge our sin and our unworthiness, casting ourselves upon Him and His mercy.

Sometimes people criticize Christians for not living in “the real world.” And yet ultimately two real worlds exist: Heaven and Hell. We must focus on eternity, cultivating a long-range view on life.

“A little faith will bring your soul to heaven;
a great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”
Charles Spurgeon