When The Bubble Bursts

What do we do when “the bubble bursts”? When a job we held for years disappears and a new job is hard to find, when a teenaged child turns his or her back on our parental guidance, when a family member or close friend passes away, when a longed-for pregnancy doesn’t happen, when a ministry we had put our hearts into fizzles and fades out—there are many reasons why believers today face the grief of disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment.

The Bible does not teach that believers will never face disappointment. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of believers who experienced disappointment—the disappointment of opposition, the disappointment of need, the disappointment of rejection, the disappointment of loss and loneliness. When it happens, not if it will happen, is how the Bible handles the problem of disappointment. Although the Bible does not guarantee freedom from discouragement and disappointment for the believer, it does guarantee a cure for every possible form of disappointment.

The author of Psalm 42 experienced extreme disappointment, but it never resulted in despair because he turned to the Cure—the Lord Himself. We, too, can endure discouragement and disappointment when we cease trying to cope in our own strength and turn to the Lord.

Suffering and disappointment can cause us to despair and become bitter, or they can become opportunities for us to grow and mature. James 1 tells us that God uses all kinds of trials and difficulties to bring our faith to maturity. “Consider it pure joy… when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything” (James 1:2-4). Perseverance means to “hang in there” in spite of opposition, discouragement, loss, or any kind of oppression.

But where can distressed believers find the strength to persevere? By leaning on God! When we are at our weakest, His strength will provide support and keep us going. The psalmist was learning to lean on God. He had come to the realization that God alone was his hope for deliverance. God alone would be his Savior. He found courage and confidence for the future in the belief that God would indeed come through for him. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Believers who lean on God when oppressed will not be disappointed. (RON REID)

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

Joseph Of Nazareth: Lessons For Men From A Carpenter

Everyone knows that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter and that Matthew calls him “a righteous man,” but we seldom think about the wisdom he handed down to Jesus. As a carpenter, Jesus must have learned many tricks of the woodworking trade from Joseph.

While tools and techniques have changed a great deal over the past 2,000 years, three simple rules that Joseph lived by still hold true today.

1. Measure Twice, Cut Once: Wood was scarce in ancient Israel. Joseph and his apprentice Jesus couldn’t afford to make mistakes. They learned to proceed with caution, anticipating the consequences of everything they did. It’s a wise principle for our lives, too.

As Christian men, we need to be careful in our behavior. People are watching. Nonbelievers are judging Christianity by the way we act, and we can either attract them to the faith or drive them away.

Thinking ahead prevents a lot of trouble. We should measure our spending against our income and not exceed it. We should measure our physical health and take steps to protect it. And, we should measure our spiritual growth from time to time and work to increase it. Just like the timber in ancient Israel, our resources are limited, so we should do our best to use them wisely.

2. Use the Right Tool for the Job: Joseph wouldn’t have tried to pound with a chisel or drill a hole with an ax. Every carpenter has a special tool for each task.

So it is with us. Don’t use anger when understanding is called for. Don’t use indifference when encouragement is needed. We can build people up or tear them down, depending on which tools we use. Jesus gave people hope. He wasn’t embarrassed to show love and compassion. He was a master at using the right tools, and as his apprentices, we should do the same.

3. Take Care of Your Tools and They’ll Take Care of You: Joseph’s livelihood depended on his tools.

We Christian men have the tools of prayer, meditation, fasting, worship, and praise. Our most valuable tool, of course, is the Bible. If we sink its truths deep into our minds then live them out, God will take care of us, too.

In the body of Christ, every Christian man is a carpenter with a job to do. Like Joseph, we can mentor our apprentices–our sons, daughters, friends and relatives–teaching them the skills to pass the faith on to the generation after them. The more we learn about our faith, the better a teacher we’ll be.

God has given us all the tools and resources we need. Whether you’re at your place of business or at home or at leisure, you’re always on the job. Work for God with your head, your hands, and your heart and you can’t go wrong. (JACK ZAVADA)

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

How Is The Fear Of The Lord The Beginning Of Wisdom?

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Basically, this verse teaches that the fear of God is foundational to true wisdom; all other types of learning are worthless unless built upon a knowledge of the Lord Himself.

Fear of the Lord can be defined as “the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, and do. As Jesus told each of the seven churches in Revelation 1—2, “I know your works.” Nothing escapes His attention.

In order to develop the fear of the Lord, we must recognize God for who He is. We must glimpse with our spirits the power, might, beauty, and brilliance of the Lord God Almighty. Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him, and sincere commitment to obey Him.

The link between the fear of God and wisdom means we cannot possess wisdom if we recreate God in our own image. Too many people want to “tame” God into a non-threatening nobody. But, if we redefine the Lord as a god that makes us feel comfortable, a permissive “buddy” who exists simply to bless us and give us what we want, we will not fear Him in the way He deserves to be feared. The Lord God Almighty is far greater than that, and the fear of the Lord begins when we see Him in His majesty and power.

When the reality of God’s true nature has caused us to fall down in worship, we are then in the right position to gain wisdom. Wisdom is merely seeing life from God’s perspective and responding accordingly. Wisdom is a priority, and we are told to seek it above all else.

Until our hearts are in a right relationship with God, we are unable to have the wisdom that comes from heaven. Without the fear of the Lord, we may gain knowledge of earthly things and make some practical choices for this life, but we are missing the one ingredient that defines a wise person. In the parable of the Rich Fool, the rich man had a “wise” and practical plan for his profits, but God said to him, “You fool!” because the farmer’s plans were made with no thought of God and eternity (Luke 12:16–21).

Without the fear of the Lord, we make final decisions based on our faulty human understanding. When we incorporate the fear of the Lord into every moment of our lives, we make decisions based upon His approval. We live with the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move. He sees, knows, and evaluates all our choices, and we will answer to Him.

Our respect for God’s majesty causes us to honor Him. Our gratitude for His mercy causes us to serve Him well. And the understanding that our God of love is also a God of wrath inspires enough fear to help us stay away from evil. Sin is foolish; righteousness is wise. When we live righteously, we are on the path to wisdom, and everyone in our lives benefits. (GOT QUESTIONS MINISTRIES)

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

Loving Others

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?   For even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32).

For many people, loving others is a nebulous concept. Fortunately, agape love is very clearly defined in the Scriptures. When love is used as a noun in Scripture, it is referring to character. For example: “God is love” (1 John 4:8); “Love is patient, love is kind,” etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love is the highest of character attainments: “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Love is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the means by which a true disciple of Christ is identified (John 13:35). The attention given to love in passages such as 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 reveals its importance to God in our interpersonal relationships of which the family is primary.

Agape love is not dependent on the person being loved, but on the lover. You may like someone because of who he is; but you love him because of who you are. God loves us not because we are lovable but because God is love. If it was any other way, God’s love would be conditional. If you performed better would God love you more? Of course not. God’s love for us is not based on our performance but on His character.

Love is also used as a verb in Scripture. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Used this way. Love is grace in action. It is giving unconditionally to meet the needs of another.

If you say you don’t love someone, you have said more about yourself than about that person. Specifically, you’re saying that you haven’t attained the maturity to love him unconditionally (Luke 6:32). The grace of God enables you to love others in a way that people without Christ cannot. God doesn’t command you to like your family, your neighbors, and your coworkers, because you can’t order your emotions to respond. But He does instruct you to love them. You can always choose to do the loving thing and trust that your feelings will follow in time.                         (from DAILY IN CHRIST by NEIL

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

An Everlasting Love

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness (Jeremiah 31:3)

One night I came home from work and my wife Joanne met me at the door. “You better go talk to Karl (my son).” She said solemnly. “I think Karl threw his hamster, Johnny, this afternoon.”

I went to Karl and asked him point-blank, “Did you throw Johnny this afternoon?” He denied it firmly. Unfortunately for poor Karl, there was an eyewitness that afternoon. Again I confronted Karl, this time with one of those oversized plastic whiffle bats which make a lot of noise on a child’s behind without inflicting too much damage. “Karl, tell me the truth. Did you throw Johnny?”

“No.” Whack! No matter how much I threatened, Karl wouldn’t confess. I was frustrated. Finally I gave up.

A couple of days later Joanne met me at the door again. ‘You better go talk to Karl. Johnny died.”

I found Karl in the backyard mourning over his little hamster. Karl and I talked about death and dying, then we buried Johnny. “Karl, I think you need to pray now,” I said.

“No, Dad. You pray.”

“Karl, Johnny was your hamster. I think you need to pray.”

Finally he agreed. This was his prayer: “Dear Jesus, help me not to throw my new hamster.” What I couldn’t coax out of him with a plastic bat, God worked out in his heart.

Why did Karl lie to me? He thought if he admitted to throwing his pet, I wouldn’t love him. He was willing to lie in order to hold onto my love and respect, which he feared he would lose if he admitted his misbehavior. I reached down and wrapped my arms around my little son. “Karl, I may not approve of everything you do, but I’m always going to love you.”

What I expressed to Karl that day is a small reflection of the love that God has for you. He says to you, “No matter what you do in life, I’m always going to love you. I may not approve of everything you do, but I’m always going to love you.” (from DAILY IN CHRIST by NEIL T. ANDERSON)

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

Renewal And Revival

Do you want a blueprint for joy in your life? Do you want a formula for renewal, revival, and spiritual growth? Do you want to understand the secret of godly contentment and confidence?

Nehemiah reveals all of that and more to us in Nehemiah 7 and 8, giving us powerful life lessons as he leads his people to:

1. Assemble together with other believers. God didn’t design us to be Lone Ranger Christians. When believers assemble together and unite their hearts in prayer and worship, something miraculous takes place. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). When we gather together, we encourage one another, support one another, and challenge one another to a deeper faith experience.

2. Affirm the authority of God’s Word. In order for revival to take place in one life, or in the life of a church, or in the life of a nation, it must begin with a hunger and thirst for the Word of God. The Bible is not just a collection of old stories and inspirational quotations; it is the guidebook to victorious living in Christ — the key that unlocks the door to revival. Until churches boldly proclaim the Word of God and Christians obey it, there will never be revival and healing in our land.

3. Adore the God of grace. When the people stood in the square together at the completion of the walls and listened to the reading of the Book of the Law, they wept, rightly mourning their sin that had led to such shameful circumstances. But once they had repented, it was time to adore God, rejoice in His strength, and celebrate His goodness, mercy, and amazing grace. You cannot experience the authentic joy of the Lord until you have expressed sorrow over your sin.

4. Honor God by surrendering all to Him. When Ezra read from the Book of the Law, the people of Israel heard the Word of God, they honored the Word of God, they heeded the Word of God, and they put God’s Word into action. The people consecrated themselves to God, surrendering completely.

God’s goal for your life and mine is that we would enjoy our faith and experience the joy of a vital relationship with Him. When we surrender everything we are, we gain everything God is. If we truly grasp the practical power of these four principles, we will be renewed and reenergized to impact the world for God in the twenty-first century. (DR MICHAEL YOUSSEF)

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

A Gift Mothers Must Give

Mother’s Day is upon us once again, a day to honor the most important person in our lives: the one who gave us birth, brought us through infancy, celebrated each milestone, answered our questions, put up with our misdeeds, and through it all gave us love. My mother did all this for me, and for this I thank her. But as wonderful as these things are, my mother gave me a more wonderful gift still. She raised me to become the person God intended me to be, that I use my life to serve Jesus and my neighbor. And this happened because she let go of me.

I often think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Jesus was twelve years old, Joseph and Mary took him up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Unbeknownst to them, Jesus stayed behind when they returned home. After searching three days they found Him back in the temple courts in Jerusalem, sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions. They were astonished. Upset, Mary asked her Son why He had disobeyed so. Jesus replied, “Why have you been searching for Me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” After returning to Nazareth with His parents, the Gospel of Luke says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.”

What a marvelous response! Mary “treasured these things in her heart,” just as she did in awe when the shepherds came to worship at the manger, and in pain at the old prophet Simeon’s words: “a sword shall pierce your own soul too.” In her heart she released her Son to do the will of God, even to death on the Cross. This is not only true faith, but the truest love of a mother.

So it must be with me, and with each of us mothers. God has a plan for each and every child born into this world. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart,” writes the prophet Jeremiah. Isn’t this our task as mothers, together with our husbands, to help our children to discover God’s purpose?

Mothers, our most vital obligation, the most loving deed we can perform, is to let our children go. Our motherly desire to nurture must be submitted to the higher task of surrendering our children to God. Just think how much more effective prayer would be! Granted, this is never easy, but true love never is. Even so, when I pray for my children this not only helps them along life’s way but it brings me the peace and assurance that they are truly in God’s hands. Only by giving over each child to God can our children freely blossom and find faith of their own. Yes, I have to let go again and again. I’m human. However, in doing this, of one thing I am sure: our children will love, honor, and thank us most of all for this one gift.

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment

Forgiveness From The Heart

How do we learn to develop a forgiving heart? It certainly doesn’t seem to come naturally. Today I will mention three principles from the Scripture about developing a forgiving heart.

First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a choice. In Matthew 18:35, Jesus tells us, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” He says to forgive from your heart.

In the Jewish mind-set, the heart was not the center of emotion; it was the center of intellect. The bowels were the center of a person’s emotion. If Jesus were teaching that forgiveness is an emotional choice, He would have said, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your bowels.” Jesus is not talking about emotion. He’s talking about the intellect. He’s teaching that forgiveness is a choice we make. We decide to forgive. Isn’t that what the Scripture says? “As he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). Forgiveness is not denying that somebody has wronged you. It’s not rationalizing. It’s not sweeping under the rug. It is a choice.

There are three key words to understand what forgiveness is. First of all, recognition. Forgiveness requires a recognition that indeed you have been wronged. Now, that seems un-Christian to some people. “Well, I’m not supposed to say I’ve been wronged.” But you can never forgive people you’re not first willing to blame. You have to recognize that you’ve been wronged. Remember what Joseph said to his brothers? He said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Forgiveness requires a recognition that we’ve been wronged.

Second, forgiveness involves a realization that a debt exists. Before you can release a debt, you have to acknowledge that a debt exists. In Matthew 18:23-35, when the slave came to the king saying, “Oh, please forgive me of my debt,” the king didn’t say, “Debt? What debt? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” No, the king acknowledged that a debt existed.

In the same way, if we’re going to forgive somebody of what they owe us, we first of all need to calculate what it is that they owe us. When somebody comes to me and wants to go through the forgiveness process, I encourage them to calculate what their offender owes them. How much is that offense worth? What do they deserve to pay? That offender may deserve jail time. They may deserve the ending of a relationship. They may deserve death for what they have done to you. Calculate and realize the debt that exists.

And then third, the word release. Forgiveness is a releasing, a letting go of the debt that somebody owes you—not because the person asked to be forgiven, and not because they deserve to be forgiven. We forgive because of the great forgiveness that God has extended to us. (DR ROBERT JEFFRESS)

Posted in All Entries, Weekly Reflection | Leave a comment