Strength For Your Struggle

Being a single parent when my son was young was difficult on many levels. Most of the time I felt tired and overwhelmed by all my responsibilities. There
was no one to share concerns with—no one to worry with, plan with, or give a bath to my son when I needed a break. To make matters worse, we lived in an upstairs duplex. When my son was a baby, it was a challenge getting him, his diaper bag and the groceries upstairs at the same time. I didn’t want to leave him in the house or the car alone so I piled on the items. Once I climbed to the top of the stairs, my next challenge was unlocking the door with my arms filled to overflowing. Most days I felt like the whole world rested on my shoulders. While I tried to carry the load, I was too weak. It was crushing me, and yet, I continued to fight. I tried harder. I had to. I had to be strong. If I put down the load, who was going to pick it up?

One day, I came across what the Apostle Paul said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a) Hope awoke in my heart when I realized my situation was an avenue to experience God’s strength. I didn’t have to put on a brave face, or pretend to be made of steel. I simply needed to surrender my weaknesses to God in exchange for His strength. An interesting way to view His power is by taking a look at this verse in its original Greek. The word “rest” literally means “a tent or covering.” Christ’s power over our circumstances and in our weaknesses is a shelter in which to rest, take refuge from the storms, and is our protective covering.

When I began praying to God about my situation asking for help, my circumstances didn’t change right away. But I had a renewed sense of God’s presence and power in my life, and no longer felt alone. Through the assistance of others, I began to see God’s activity in the life of my son and me. He had always been there offering help. I just needed to swallow my pride and receive it. When I let my friend cut my grass and the teenager next door play with my son so I could do household chores, I felt equipped to press on with all the other challenges of daily life.

That’s not all. Paul not only surrendered his struggles to God, but he had a positive attitude as well: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9b). Looking for and acknowledging God’s strength in my weakness was better for my attitude than grumbling. Complaining was a dead end. However, boasting in what God can do in me infused my faith, causing me to depend on His strength more and more. His promise became a reality in my life. For when I am weak, He is strong!

In facing our struggles and fears, it’s vital that we yield completely to God. When we do, God can use our burdens as an avenue for His power and grace.

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Lessons From The Life Of Noah

Preaching the Gospel with perseverance: As we look around us, we see tremendous similarities with the time of Noah and our time. This is the time when it becomes harder and harder to preach the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. Sometimes, our effort may yield insignificant results, but we must not lose heart. We must draw encouragement and inspiration from the life of Noah. According to II Peter 2:5, Noah was a “preacher of righteousness”, and he could have preached to the people for at least 100 years! As the days turn to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years, Noah could have all the reasons to quit preaching to the people. Imagine, after preaching to the people for at least 100 years, no one has believed his message, except his family who eventually joined him in the ark.

So whenever you feel like quitting, remember the example of Noah. Remember his perseverance. Most importantly, remember that God’s Word will not return to Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing where He sends it (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Finding grace in the eyes of the LORD: Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8). This simply means that Noah found favor and having the favor of God led him and his family to safety. They were delivered from the great flood that fell upon the earth.

But of all the people, why Noah? It is worth noting that no matter what we do and how much righteousness we accomplish during our lifetime, God is not obliged to give us salvation or in the case of Noah, rescue him from the flood. God’s grace is the unmerited favor that God bestowed upon us, not because of our own doing, but because of His great love to us. Nevertheless, we must NEVER use grace as a license to sin. The people around Noah abused the grace of God to the point that God was forced to reluctantly send the flood and mercifully end their lives. Therefore, we need to realize that God’s grace is not given for us to sin, but for us to be given the chance to repent and turn from our wicked ways (Romans 6:1-23).

Fully obeying God: The Bible mentioned this twice in the account of Noah’s obedience: “Thus Noah did; according to ALL that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22; 7:5).

We must consistently be obedient to God and not just when it is convenient for us. The world of Christianity today has become a religion of convenience, only following the commandments of God that will not directly contradict to their own will. As what Jesus Christ said, “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength” (Mark 12:30). Loving God is manifested through our devotion in keeping His commandments.

We live in a world similar to Noah’s. Noah did not find grace in the eyes of men but in the eyes of God. Instead of being influenced by the world around him, he chose to be influenced by the commandments of God. Will you live like Noah? Or will you eventually find yourself outside the ark? (JOSHUA INFANTADO)

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Are You A Risk Taker For Jesus?

We have often heard the motivating words of Jesus: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Indeed, the field is ready for the harvest, and the Lord of the harvest wants you and me (everyone of us) out in the field. God wants us to take hold of the countless opportunities and challenges around us to bring Glory to the Lord of the harvest.

But, the church sometimes taken a lazy approach to reaching out to those who are searching for the deeper meaning of faith. There is an old story of a farmer who said lightning struck an old shed and saved him the trouble of tearing it down. Then it rained and saved him the chore of washing off his car too. When someone asked him what he was doing now, he replied, “I’m waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes out of the ground.” Unlike the farmer, the Church of Jesus Christ cannot afford to wait for an earthquake to shake the unchurched out of their hiding places and into the church.

We tend to associate evangelism mainly with the work of missionaries overseas. When I was younger I had this image in my mind of white North American missionaries bringing the Gospel to monkey-eating natives in the African jungle. Lately, I have come to see outreach more as talking to my neighbor across the fence, whose wife of many years passed away last spring.

Jesus has sent us out as His disciples among the people we meet in our daily lives. Although we do not always know where our journey with Christ will lead us, he gives us the gifts we need for the tasks ahead and enables us to be part of a great adventure – namely the coming of God’s kingdom. You and I, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are part of the mission to share the Good News of God’s Kingdom with others. We are privileged to be part of God’s way of turning the whole world upside down!

Someone said the following about taking risks: To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to risk exposing our true self. To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try at all is to risk failure. But to risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The man, the woman, who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

As we strive to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, may we confess before God the greatest barrier that hinders our witness – namely apathy, that is, the lazy attitude of the farmer waiting for an earthquake. And may we be motivated by the passion and the sense of urgency that Jesus had for your and my salvation.

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Stress Management – Taking Jesus’ Yoke

Jesus invites all burdened individuals to come to Him for rest, yet so often we misunderstand what He is offering. When stresses and problems weigh us down, the most natural response is to ask God for relief: “Lord, I can’t carry this anymore. I’m going to leave it here with you.” Having dumped the burden like a bag of garbage, we walk away but remained unchanged inside.

God doesn’t operate that way. Christ’s invitation is to join Him in the yoke so you can walk and work together. He doesn’t want just your burden; He wants you! The yoke of Christ is a symbol of discipleship, characterized by submission and obedience to Him. God’s goal isn’t simply to give relief by removing a weighty trial or affliction; He longs to draw you to Himself in a close and trusting relationship. Those who take Him up on His offer will be transformed and won’t ever return to their old ways.

The process of lightening the load begins with learning to know and understand the Lord. The burden is not necessarily removed, but our thoughts and responses are changed as we begin to love Him, trust Him, believe His promises, and rely on His power. Then, as the weight of the affliction shifts from our shoulders to His, we will discover relief, although the situation may remain unchanged.

Being yoked with Christ results in rest for your soul. Life’s pressures may not lessen, but if you are intimately linked with Jesus, your soul is free from churning anxiety, and His peace is ruling in your heart. Jump into His yoke. You have nothing to lose—except your weariness—and much to gain.

Are you trying to bear your life burdens by yourself?

When was the last time you explicitly turned to Jesus in prayer and said something like this: “I am weary and have many burdens. My soul needs rest. I trust in You. Help me Jesus.” (CHARLES STANLEY)

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Others’ Faith

Our faith, the Christian faith is not dependent on whether things are going well for us or hard. My faith doesn’t depend on whether crazy, amazing, powerful things are happening in my life or whether crazy, horrendous, awful things are happening. My faith should not be rocked if God doesn’t come through how and when I want. We need to learn stop looking at our circumstances to see if God loves us, to see if He’s good, to see if He’s true.

Faith looks not at visible circumstances but at the invisible God revealed in His Word – His character, His actions in history, His promises. Character: God is all-good and all-powerful and all-wise. We trust Him. Actions: God has orchestrated a big picture plan with twists and turns, and ups and downs, but moving to a good ending. Look at Hebrews 11: 39-40 – “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” He has a bigger plan. Promises: God has promised that this world is not all there is. There is an eternity ahead. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

If God is working in your life through success – thank Him, enjoy it, and give Him all the glory. If God is working in your life through suffering – you can still thank Him, endure it, and give Him all the glory. I’m not saying you can’t lament or feel. In fact, it’s good to feel; we need to feel the sorrows of sin, the deeper we feel the sadness the higher we can feel the joy when it comes. “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Faith is not erased by those feelings of sadness. Real faith is not lost when disappointments come. Faith looks not at circumstances but at God’s character, actions, and promises.

Faith also doesn’t look at others. We can’t focus on our current situation or compare ourselves with other people’s stories. Here’s the thing: everybody, even if their lives look successful in some ways, will experience severe disappointments and suffering. Often the success is coupled with suffering. Think back to Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. Though they had great victories, if you read their stories carefully they also suffered great defeats and had heartache of varying degrees. I often tell people to be careful not to judge other people’s suffering or think that your suffering is unique and unmatched. We all will experience deep sorrow in this world, even if we also see great success.

The question is: what is your faith in? Is your faith dependent on present circumstance? If so, your faith will not last. Or is your faith in God’s Word? That is real faith. (NATHAN CARTER)

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5 Areas Of A Woman’s Life That Need God’s Touch

After surveying nearly 100 women, I found several common areas in which women, myself included, need the touch of God to be whole and complete. Ladies, see if you can relate to
needing God’s healing touch in these areas of your life, as well:

1. Our Hearts – So They Can Be “Set On Things Above”: Women often stress over the temporal – bills that must be paid, whether or not a man will come into our lives, if we’ll be able to have a child, what someone is saying about us, how our body looks, and so on. It takes God’s touch to clear our hearts of what this world says is important and focus it on the things above.

2. Our Minds – So They Are Transformed and Renewed: It’s amazing how many women profess to know God and follow Him, yet their thinking patterns are just like those of anyone else in the world. Scripture commands us: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” (Romans 12:2). What mental anguish we would spare ourselves from if we would let God transform our mind and renew our thoughts to think as He would.

3. Our Mouths – To Be Wholesome and Pleasing to God: Because women tend to be communicators, we can cause much damage with our mouths if we do not bring them under God’s control. Whether it is gossip, criticism or unkind remarks, our mouths can be instruments of righteousness or unrighteousness. God’s touch on our lives can make us women whose words heal and encourage, rather than distract and destroy.

4. Our Bodies – To Be Pure and Holy for Him: Are you one to worry and stress about what the scale says, how many calories you took in, and whether or not you can still fit into a certain size? It is important that we keep our bodies healthy and in good shape (as we are His temple), but God says our most prevalent concern should be that we keep our bodies holy. In fact, God calls keeping our bodies holy our “spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). One of the ways we can keep our bodies holy is by how we choose to dress. If the way we dress says “Look at me!” we may want to rethink how we dress so that others can see Christ through us.

5. Our Emotions – To Be Calmed with the Peace of God: There are days when, hormonally or just circumstantially, we need God’s touch to calm our frazzled emotions and level out our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and request to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel”. A woman who is controlled by God’s peace is not on the edge, but in the spacious place of His embrace.

I believe if we seek God’s touch in those five areas of our lives we would rarely have reason to feel we are going over the edge. (CINDI MCMENAMIN)

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Caring For Aging Parents

Philippians 2:3–8 stresses becoming a kind of person who is oriented on what others need, not just on our private desires. This is the great issue of life. Would we be selfish or would we be servants? The beautiful life, the Christ-honoring, Christlike life, is the life of serving others — not ignoring others or using others while we just go about our self-satisfied way. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others” — Now, that would include parents — “more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4). That includes aging parents.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5–7). He stoops from being the King of the universe to being a Servant, being born in the likeness of men, being found in human form. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.

That is one of the most convicting, one of the most beautiful, one of the most transforming texts in the Bible. The great mark of the Christian, Paul says to the adult Christian child, is that they look not just to their interests in midlife as their careers reach their capstone. They look towards the interests of others, including aging parents. They count others, like their parents, as more significant than themselves. They don’t sit atop some pinnacle of privilege, but like Jesus, they come down to where the need is and serve even on to death. There’s a basic principle and a call in it.

Now, Jesus linked that love command with parents by putting them side by side in Matthew 19:19. He said, “Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” One way of honoring your parents is to love them as you love yourself.

One of the most beautiful examples of this is John 19:26. Despite Jesus’s unspeakable sufferings on the cross, He did exactly what Paul said; namely, He looked not to His own interests or His own pain. He looked to His mother’s. He was the eldest son of Mary. Joseph, evidently, was gone now. Custom would dictate that the firstborn takes special responsibility for his mom in her old age. He looks down from the cross and says to His mother, “Woman, behold your son,” and then He said to His disciple, “Behold your mother.” And “from that hour, the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26–27).

Are we ready to make sacrifices for our parents? Or are we resentful that they are becoming a burden? That’s the real test. All of this may or may not mean that the parents come to live with us or near us. There are innumerable variables that make one situation right for one family and another situation right for another. The main issue for the Christian child of aging parents is not the precise circumstances. The main issue is, are we servants or are we selfish? Are we ready to sacrifice and trust God with the joy to meet every need? (JOHN PIPER)

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The Method Of Missions

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…
Matthew 28:19

Jesus Christ did not say, “Go and save souls” (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said, “Go…make disciples of all the nations….” Yet you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. When the disciples returned from their first mission, they were filled with joy because even the demons were subject to them. But Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20). The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God, and realizing that his one and only purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus. Remember that there is a passion for souls that does not come from God, but from our desire to make converts to our point of view.

The challenge to the missionary does not come from the fact that people are difficult to bring to salvation, that backsliders are difficult to reclaim, or that there is a barrier of callous indifference. No, the challenge comes from the perspective of the missionary’s own personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. The one great challenge to us is— do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? Am I wise enough in God’s sight, but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world, to trust in what Jesus Christ has said? Or am I abandoning the great supernatural position of limitless confidence in Christ Jesus, which is really God’s only call for a missionary? If I follow any other method, I depart altogether from the methods prescribed by our Lord— “All authority has been given to Me….Go therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

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