Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. In a world where we are told that it’s alright to stretch the truth, cut corners, lie, gossip, and/or cheat to get ahead it’s often hard to maintain your integrity. Maintaining your integrity could result in you not getting that job you want, not getting that mortgage for the dream house, not convincing that man or woman to enter into a relationship.
As a child and young adult I was taught that the primary message the Old Testament book of Job was patience. I was told that I should have the patience of Job, to hold out when things were tough. As I got older I realized that the real message of Job was his integrity. Yes he was patient, but he could have been patient, and done what his wife suggested;
Job 2:9-10 NIV His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Yes he exhibited patience after all that his friends said about him and the untruths they encouraged him to admit, but he maintained his integrity.
Job 27:1-6 NIV And Job continued his discourse: “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not say anything wicked, and my tongue will not utter lies. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.
Like Job we can maintain our integrity by trusting in our relationship with the Lord and standing on the promises of His Word.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Romans 8:31-39 NIV What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Six Ways to Maintain Integrity
By Rick Warren
“We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open” (2 Corinthians 4:2 The Message).
Integrity demands that every area of your life is treated with the same intensity. You have the same commitment to excellence in your marriage as you do in your career. You have the same commitment to excellence in ministry as you do in your parenting.
Let me give you six ways you can work this week to pursue integrity. You become a person of integrity by . .
1. Keeping your promises.
People of integrity keep their word. If they say they’ll do it, they do it. If they say they’ll be there, they show up. The Bible says in Proverbs 25:14, “People who promise things that they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain” (GNT).
2. Paying your bills.
You may not think this is a big deal, but it’s a big deal to God. Do you spend more money than you make? That is a lack of integrity. Do you get yourself in debt for things that you can’t pay off? That is a lack of integrity. Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrow and never pay back” (GNT).
3. Refusing to gossip.
God is looking for men and women of integrity who know how to keep a secret and not pass it around on social media. Don’t talk about people behind their back. Don’t even listen to gossip! “A . . . gossip can’t be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence” (Proverbs 11:13 The Message).
4. Tithing faithfully.
Wherever you put your money first is what’s most important to you. Malachi 3:8-10 says, “Is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not, yet you are cheating me. ‘How?’ you ask. In the matter of tithes and offerings. . . . Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple . . . Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things” (GNT).
5. Doing your best at work.
The Bible says in Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (NLT). If you’re a believer, your real boss is God, and whether or not anybody else sees your work, God does.
6. Being real with others.
A person of integrity doesn’t act one way in church and another way at work and another way on the golf course. “We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open” (2 Corinthians 4:2 The Message).
You probably know most of the prophets in the Bible like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, and the others with Old Testament books named for them, but the bible identifies many more prophets. In this blog series we will get to know most of the prophets of the Bible, the ones with books named after them, and those whose names you may not know at all.
The English word prophet in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy” which means “spokesman” or “speaker”. The Greek word for prophet is “prophētēs”, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.” Prophets are also called “seers,” because of their spiritual insight or their ability to “see” the future, as directed by God.
Zephaniah’s name meant “concealed of God” he was a prophet to the nation of Judah and was a contemporary of Jeremiah the Prophet.
Zephahia introduces himself as a descendant of Hezekiah one of Judah's good kings.
Zephaniah 1:1 NKJV The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
He was also very familiar with Israel’s religious culture.
Zephaniah 1:4-6 NKJV “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests— Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord , But who also swear by Milcom; Those who have turned back from following the Lord , And have not sought the Lord , nor inquired of Him.”
The reference to “this place” in Zephaniah 1:4 indicates that he prophesied in Jerusalem. The fact that he was of royal lineage and his knowledge of the religious culture is an indication that he was at the center of Judah’s political and religious life, and a person close to those in power. This would have given his shocking message an even greater impact.
Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah, the king of Judah from 640 to 609 BC. He predicted the fall of Nineveh, which happened in 612 BC.
Zephaniah 2:13 NKJV And He will stretch out His hand against the north, Destroy Assyria, And make Nineveh a desolation, As dry as the wilderness.
The fact that he quoted from the Law; (Deuteronomy 28:30, 39 NKJV “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.)
Zephaniah 1:13 NKJV Therefore their goods shall become booty, And their houses a desolation; They shall build houses, but not inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.”
This indicates that Zephaniah prophesied in the latter part of Josiah’s rule, after the high priest discovered the scrolls of the Law in 622 BC
II Chronicles 34:3-7, 14-18 NKJV For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem. Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord , Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses. Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord .” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. So Shaphan carried the book to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “All that was committed to your servants they are doing. And they have gathered the money that was found in the house of the Lord , and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen.” Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.
Zephaniah would have grown up as a young man the reign of Josiah’s predecessors: Josiah’s grandfather, the evil king Manasseh, and Manasseh’s son, the young and evil Amon. This would have been a time of great evils; idolatry, child sacrifice, and unjust killings.
II Kings 21:16 NKJV Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord .
II Chronicles 33:1-10 NKJV Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord , according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Lord , of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord . Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord , to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers—only if they are careful to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen.
Why Is Zephaniah So Important?
The book of Zephaniah mentions the Day of the Lord more than any other book in the Old Testament, clarifying the picture of Judah’s fall to Babylon and the eventual judgment and restoration of all humanity in the future.
Zephaniah saw in the Day of the Lord the destruction of his country, his neighbors, and eventually the whole earth.
Zephaniah 1:2, 4 NKJV “I will utterly consume everything From the face of the land,” Says the Lord ; “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests--
Zephaniah wrote that the Day of the Lord was near.
Zephaniah 1:14 NKJV The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out.
The Day of the Lord would be a time of wrath
Zephaniah 1:15 NKJV That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness,
The Day of the Lord would come as judgment on sin
Zephaniah 1:17 NKJV “I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the Lord ; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.”
Ultimately, the Day of the Lord would result in the blessing of God’s presence among His people
Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
The writings of Zephaniah follows a pattern of judgment on all people for their sin followed by the restoration of God’s chosen people. Zephaniah’s primary target for God’s message of judgment, the nation of Judah, had fallen into grievous sin under the reign of their king, Manasseh. Zephaniah’s prophecy shouted out for godliness and purity in a nation sinful to its core. The people of Judah had long since turned their backs on God, not only in their personal lives but also in their worship. This reflected the depth of their sin and the deep need for God’s people to be purged on their path to restoration.
They had had turned the worship of God into a fiasco. Today we also make worship of God a mockery when we live in open sin. Do you come before the Lord looking the part without acting it?
Isaiah 1:11-15 NKJV “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord . “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. “When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.
Allow Zephaniah to remind you how seriously God takes your life and your relationship with Him. And if you have failed, remember the message of Zephaniah God is always a God of restoration and hope.
Zephaniah 3:14-20 NKJV Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord , is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, Who are among you, To whom its reproach is a burden. Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, And gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame In every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will bring you back, Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes,” Says the Lord
THIS IS THE LAST POST IN THE GET TO KNOW THE PROPHETS OF THE BIBLE SERIES
Psalm 109:1-31 (NLT2)1 O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof2 while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me.3 They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason.4 I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them!5 They repay evil for good, and hatred for my love.6 They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial.7 When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins.8 Let his years be few; let someone else take his position.9 May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow.10 May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes.11 May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned.12 Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children.13 May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in a single generation.14 May the LORD never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record.15 May the LORD always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory.16 For he refused all kindness to others; he persecuted the poor and needy, and he hounded the brokenhearted to death.17 He loved to curse others; now you curse him. He never blessed others; now don’t you bless him.18 Cursing is as natural to him as his clothing, or the water he drinks, or the rich food he eats.19 Now may his curses return and cling to him like clothing; may they be tied around him like a belt.”20 May those curses become the LORD’s punishment for my accusers who speak evil of me.21 But deal well with me, O Sovereign LORD, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good.22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain.23 I am fading like a shadow at dusk; I am brushed off like a locust.24 My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones.25 I am a joke to people everywhere; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.26 Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love.27 Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, LORD.28 Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing!29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak.30 But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising him to everyone.31 For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
A Plea For Vengeance
In this Psalm David, the author, is clearly an expression of grief and sorrow for something that is going on in his life. He considers his antagonists are also enemies of God.
He begins with a terse statement which includes an appeal for help and the complaint against his enemies. He says his enemies, people to whom he has shown goodness and love, have lied and slandered him, and God has been silent through all of this.
He then asks for retribution. The picture that David paints is a court of law in which a wicked person (the accuses) is to be judged. He details the sentence the accused deserves.
David ends with a prayer for deliverance. He prays that God will have mercy on him, and vindicate him, so that his enemies realize that God's hand has delivered him. He ends confident that even in this trouble he will have opportunity to praise God for answered prayer.
But I Thought God Was All About Love
We Christians have trouble reconciling this and other Psalms in which the author prays that God destroy their enemies along with their families, often in very graphic ways, with a God who we describe as love who calls us to love even our enemies.
1 John 4:8 (NKJV)8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
The message of the Gospel is that the vengeance for which the psalmist, and we often pray is not on us. Jesus came to the earth to take upon Himself our sins and our punishment. God placed upon His Son the punishment which David petitioned God to bring upon his enemies. No one who places his trust in the solution to sin—the Savior, Jesus Christ—need suffer the consequences of sin. It is only those who resist and reject God’s solution who suffer His temporal and eternal wrath. The psalmist who prayed for God’s justice for his enemies also petitioned God for His mercy and loving kindness. God offers mercy and forgiveness to all, but He also promises justice and judgment to all who reject His Son. I encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, the sin-bearer who died in your place and suffered even more than Psalm 109 describes. From Psalm 109: A Prayer for the Punishment of the Wicked
Romans 12:19-21 (NKJV) 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
When your world is falling apart and you're uncertain of the future, you can turn to the One who holds the future. To assure that He will always be there when you need Him even when it seems that you are all alone He’s left you His Word, and His promises.
2 Peter 1:3 NIV His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
10 Verses to Help in Times of Uncertainty
By Anne Peterson Poet and Author
*Complete Scripture text and BOLD emphasis by me
You just got the call. Your test shows something questionable and they’d like you to come in for further testing. You can feel your stomach tie in familiar knots.
Or maybe you are standing over the bed of a loved one. They were perfectly fine just hours ago and then this car came out of nowhere and hit them head on. You wait, praying that somehow they will pull through. You pray that God will bring them out of this coma and that they will be able to resume their life. You’re just not ready to say goodbye.
We all have things happen in our lives that cause uncertainty.
Here are 10 verses to help when your future is uncertain.
1. God directs our paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
You try hard to trust God with your whole heart, but sometimes, like Peter, the wind and the waves become huge. We try to keep our eyes on the Master, but we feel shaken. And then you remember that God asks us to let him know what is going on in our lives. He said in all your ways acknowledge him. God is concerned about test results that seem questionable. He is concerned about anything that concerns you.
Loving fathers listen to their children when they are afraid. They reassure them that they are there, that they don’t need to worry. And little by little, the child begins to trust his father, the one he knows loves him so completely. Like a child who is carried off to bed, we can nuzzle our heads into our father’s neck resting our whole weight to the all-powerful one. The one who holds the whole world has no trouble carrying one of his children.
2. God's ways are higher.
We look around and hear the messages the world tells us.
You can do it.
You’ve got this.
And somehow when something happens to us we try desperately to be strong. After all, aren’t we supposed to handle our lives? Aren’t we supposed to be large and in charge?
But God’s ways are different than our ways.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord . “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
His ways are much, much higher. Doesn’t it make sense then, that we turn whatever we are worried about over to him. His view is much clearer from up there. Plus God is sovereign. He knows everything. He’s never sitting around thinking, “Oh, what should I do now?”
Turning over our uncertain situations to the one who is all-knowing is the only thing that will give us peace. We can know that God can handle anything that comes our way. Nothing is too big. He is the one who is large and in charge. And all he asks us to do is to believe that. To take whatever faith we have, albeit small at times, and place it in him. And then, to leave it in his capable hands, not grab it back because we are impatient.
3. God gives us good things.
But what if we are waiting to hear about a promotion our family needs? One that will help us get out of this debt that threatens to crush us. Isn’t that a time when worry is acceptable? Doesn’t God see the importance of this thing before us? At times, we think that if we worry enough, God will see how much this matters to us. How important it is that he answer this prayer with a yes. And once again, we need the reminder that he is God and we are not. He is well aware of not only what the job could do for us, but if it would be good for us.
Psalm 84:11 NIV For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
We need to get to the point where we trust that God does know best, no matter what we think. We must learn that if we do not get the job that we are hoping and praying for, it is because God knows it would not be good for us. If it were, then maybe he would have answered that prayer with a yes. We have to remember that God knows not only the past or the present we are in, but he also knows what lies ahead. Yes, we may think we know what is good for us, but only God truly knows.
4. God gives us peace.
The enemy of our souls is the only one who tries to discourage us, especially when we have made the decision to trust God with our uncertainty. We get to the place where we have handed it over to God. We patiently wait for his answer, though sometimes we get a little shaky. We made a decision and when we start to falter, we go to the God of all strength, the one who can uphold us. And we once again have our faith bolstered. We know it’s God because nothing in our circumstances has changed and yet, we are at rest. It’s almost unexplainable.We feel all wrapped up in God’s blanket of peace. Read
Philippians 4:7 NIV And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Whenever we feel with certainty things are going to be okay, without one shred of evidence, we can be sure God is involved. When we went through my sister’s murder trial, I remember being led to a room before I would testify. Then I was left alone to wait until it was my turn. I sat there and started praying and before I knew it, I started singing. I may have been sitting in the courthouse in Chicago, but I saw myself sitting on God’s lap in his throne room. When the police officer returned to escort me into the courtroom, God went with me.
5. God's not done.
But what if things don’t turn out the way that we wanted? What then? Was putting our faith in God wasted? Did he choose not to answer? No. Sometimes God’s answer is “no.” But we have to remember whatever the outcome, God is still involved. He tells us in Romans 8:28, that the answer we got was no mistake. God is not done yet. He has a bigger purpose than what is before our finite eyes.
Romans 8:28 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
When I waited for the doctor to come in after I had an ultrasound, I was full of hope. I just knew that it was a miracle that I had not miscarried as I thought. So that week I waited for the ultrasound I was full of joy and faith. But when the doctor returned and said, “I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Peterson, there is no baby.”
I had a decision to make, the same decision we all have to make when things do not work out as we wanted them to. Would I stop trusting God or would I believe that he is still at work? The choice is up to us. I knew God was not done; I decided to trust him.
6. God knows the way.
This world and everything we see is not all there is. Oh, the world will tell us it is. The world will try to get us to put down deep roots. But the Bible tells us there is more than we see here - much, much more. And we need to exercise our faith and believe it when things try to blur our vision. We can thank God that he never loses his way.
Psalm 143:8 NIV Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
When we go to God and pour out our hearts to him, we know that he is listening. We also know that he will guide and direct us.
When our lives look like they are in a fog, it is only that way to us. We can trust the God who sees through the fog. The God who can see in the dark when we see nothing. The God who knows what path we should take and has promised he will get us there. When we are unsure, we can rest in the fact he is always certain. And isn’t that the kind of person you want leading you? At times we can’t take another step, he will carry us. Yes, he’s that strong.
7. God strengthens us.
When the uncertainty is becoming like a monster under your bed, it threatens to overtake you and all you feel is afraid.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
We are gently reminded we are not in that situation alone. He has promised that he is with us. He is aware of what is before us, and he will help us. There is a comfort that comes when we know we are not alone. But when we realize that it is God who holds our hand and God who is looking out for us, there is a peace like no other.
Even when the ground seems too shaky and uncertainty overtakes our thoughts causing us to become anxious, God tells us that he will reach out his right hand and hold us up. The God of the universe, who created the mountains and everything we see before us, tells us not to worry. He will make sure we don’t fall. He will be right beside us. Like a father who holds the hand of his toddler, we can trust that God will not only lead us, but make sure we get there unharmed.
8. We walk by faith. What if we can’t see what is before us? The results of the doctor’s reports, whether or not we will be able to make the rent this time, etc. What about those times?
2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV For we live by faith, not by sight.
This is the reminder we need. We don’t walk by sight, but instead we walk by faith. This is where trust comes in. Here on earth, this is the only place we will be able to exercise our faith. This is our opportunity to trust God implicitly. And when we struggle with doubts, God will encourage our hearts. He will remind us of what is true so we can hold onto the truth when our feelings overwhelm us.
Faith is trusting in God without seeing any proof. And the only reason we are able to do that is because he empowers us to do it. It’s like how we believe that Jesus died on the cross and paid for our sins. Were we there? No. We had to accept that by faith. And then when we started walking as Christians, we were faced with many opportunities to trust God. You are faced with some today. And we have the choice to believe God even though we have no idea how he’s going to work things out. We still have the choice to put our faith in him and know that he is at work, even when we can’t see a thing. If we could see something, we wouldn’t need faith.
9. There is a purpose to suffering. Sometimes we wonder why we have to go through hard things. “God doesn’t love you,” the enemy whispers to us. “If God loved you, he wouldn’t allow hard things in your life.” We have to remember that Satan is a liar and he will tell us anything so that we will not trust God. He tries to convince us a loving God wouldn’t let us suffer. And yet, if we read Romans 5:3-5, we find just the opposite is true. Because God loves us he allows suffering. Tribulation brings about perseverance, and that will develop character in us. And God wants us to have character.
Romans 5:3-5 NIV Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
One day we will be in heaven and we won’t have trials and tribulations, but here on earth, we do experience them. But why should we be surprised? God’s own son suffered on this earth. And he did nothing to bring it on. Suffering is something God allows because of his love for us. And when God’s children suffer, God doesn’t step back. He is right there with us.
10. God meets our needs.
God is our provider. We are told that over and over in Scripture. Whatever your need, God can take care of it.
Philippians 4:19 NIV And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
God has promised something that we can hold onto with both hands. And this is a verse we need to really read carefully. First of all, God says he will meet all our needs, not just some of them. We can have confidence that if we have a legitimate need, God our Father will meet it. What a sense of peace that can give us when our money is small and our bills are big. God is bigger still.
And he doesn’t do it according to how much faith we have, or how much we serve him; he does it according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. What unbelievable love.
Father God, we come before you and we pray that you will help us meditate on what’s true when we have uncertainties in our life. We thank you that there is nothing in our future that is unseen by you. And we thank you that you do not leave us alone, but you are our guide, our strength, and the one who will uphold us. Give peace, Lord, to those who are unsure what lies ahead. Thank you for your Son. It is in his precious name we pray. Amen.
Philippians 4:7 NIV And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever had one of those day, weeks, months, or years where you are running at break-neck, non-stop speed. You are so exhausted at the end of the day that you fall into bed expecting to sleep through the night waking up ready for the next day. But knowing everything that needs to be done tomorrow and trying to figure out how to get it all done keeps you awake. All this activity, anxiety, worry, and stress takes a toll on us and sends us careening toward burnout.
Every evening, millions of people crawl into bed and struggle either to go to sleep or stay asleep through the quiet hours of the night. What’s worse, lying awake during those dark and silent times can bring on a busy mind and anxious thoughts that make sleeping seem even more impossible. Instead of recharging and resting peacefully before the alarm rings, the early morning sunbeams are met with exhaustion and difficulty focusing.
I thank God that even with all the stuff that has gone on in my life including; divorce, multiple job losses resulting in multiple times of financial lack, a rebellious child, death of children, and finally the death of my wife after many years of depression and physical illness, I never had trouble sleeping at night. I never had trouble because I knew that after doing all that I could do, I had to leave the things out of my control to the One who is always in control.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Isaiah 45:5-7 NIV I am the Lord , and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord , and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord , do all these things.
Psalm 46:1-3 NIV God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
1 John 4:18 NIV There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
God’s Peace for When You Are Anxious About Tomorrow (and Can't Sleep)
by Christina Vinson, from God's Peace for When You Can't Sleep
As you sink into bed tonight, exhausted, are you already thinking about tomorrow’s meetings, next week’s obligations, next month’s deadlines?
You’re anxious about tomorrow… and the next day… and the next.
Whether you’re a busy mom who’s worried about your child’s future, an overwhelmed college student in the throes of midterms, or a rising executive with demands pulling from every direction, it’s difficult not knowing what tomorrow will bring. This anxiety is something that keeps many people awake at night — but does it do any good?
One result of anxiety is that it can certainly make you feel productive. At least you’re keeping a running tally in your mind of things to do, scenarios that could go wrong, or new ideas to explore, right? But the problem is this: you can’t keep going all the time. Your mind and body need a break. You need a break. Your boss needs a break. Even the president needs a break sometimes.
The best thing you can do for yourself is take time to rest. True rest doesn’t look like collapsing into bed, nerves fried and adrenaline pumping, either. It looks like letting your mind, body, and soul rest in the palm of the Lord.
True rest always involves surrendering to God.
God doesn’t tell us to rest for His own good — He tells us to rest for our own good. God worked six days and rested the seventh. He was — and is — the mastermind behind the entire world, yet He took time to give Himself a break. To cease from working, to cease from creating, cease from doing.
Emulate the Lord’s pattern of work and rest tonight.
While you are in bed you can’t work efficiently and you certainly can’t get anything done. Nighttime calls for rest. There may be unforeseen challenges ahead tomorrow, and there might be things that have been left undone today. But the Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).
Sink into your bed letting a wave of relief wash over you; tomorrow is not yet here. You have nothing on your agenda right now except for sleep.
Ask the Lord to lift the burden of anxiety off your shoulders.
As sure as the stars twinkling in the night sky, He will answer your request. As gently as the crickets sing throughout the evening, the Lord will come to you. Rest tonight, dear one. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. — Philippians 4:6
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. — Psalm 55:22
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. — Psalm 34:17 ESV
But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. — Leviticus 25:4 ESV
I come to You with a troubled, anxious heart, Lord. I ask You now to take away my anxiety and fear so that I can rest deeply tonight. Please answer my prayer quickly!
Excerpted with permission from God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep, copyright Thomas Nelson.
Philippians 4:4-7 NIV Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Don't let sleepless nights rob you of peace God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep is a wonderful means for calming the mind and soothing the spirit during those drawn-out periods of restlessness. There are words of encouragment, quotes, Bible verses, blessings, praise and prayers to help direct your thoughts toward a serene and tranquil place of rest—a place full of God’s presence of peace. It’s the perfect companion to keep within reach for any time of night or early morning hours. Regular Price: $9.99
Compassion - sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
What is Compassion?
The word ‘compassion’ comes from two Latin words, ‘suffer’ and ‘with’. To show compassion means to suffer with someone, to enter into a person’s situation and become involved in that person’s suffering. Compassion is not a theoretical attitude, put a practical involvement. It involves doing, not just thinking or saying. ‘A compassionate response to suffering requires that one be moved by the suffering of the other, act to remove the immediate effects of the suffering, and respond at length to correct the structures which may have given rise to the suffering itself.’ (New Dictionary of Christian Ethics, ed. D. J. Atkinson & D. F. Field [Downers Grove, Illinois, InterVarsity Press], p. 244).
There are two aspects of compassion. They are emotion and action. The emotion of compassion, expresses a desire to relieve a person’s suffering. But that emotion must lead to action. Compassion is an act of will - a decision to become actively involved in alleviating that person’s suffering.
Jesus’ whole life demonstrated compassion. He left His home having no place to lay His head;
Matthew 8:20 NIV Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He became the friend of the outcast;
Matthew 11:19 NIV The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
He had compassion for all of the people who flocked to see, hear, and be healed of physical, mental, and emotional sickness and demonic possession.
Matthew 9:35-36 NIV Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Even when He tried to get away to be by Himself after the execution of John the Baptist, the crowds follow Him. Seeing their desperation He has compassion on them, healed their sick and then fed them.
Matthew 14:13-21 NIV When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
He even disregarded His own safety when in His compassion He touched lepers and didn't forbid them from coming near him.
Mark 1:40-42 NIV A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Compassion for Sinners
Jesus’ compassion was not confined to cases of physical need or suffering. Let's take Jesus’ disciple, Matthew the writer of the Gospel that bears his name. Matthew was working as a tax collector, and hated by his fellow Jews. At a dinner party at his house where he invited Jesus along with others identified as sinners.
Matthew 9:9-11 NIV As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees was one of compassion.
Matthew 9:12-13 NIV On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Then there’s the time the Pharisees brought a woman actually caught in an adulterous act to Jesus to see how he would react. He responded with compassion not judgement.
John 8:9-11 NIV At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus’ Statement Of Compassion
Luke 4:16-21 NIV He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus brought hope, where people had abandoned hope. He declared forgiveness, where people were tormented by guilt. He brought inner release, where people were oppressed by evil spirits. He brought healing, where there was sickness. He fed the hungry, where there was hunger. Compassion is concerned for people’s spiritual and social problems.
1 John 4:7-12 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We are challenged by Jesus to be compassionate and merciful, as he was. What follows is an example of compassion that Jesus had for us and wants us to have for others. There is no evidence that the story is true but the message of compassion is crystal clear.
A Story Of Extraordinary Compassion
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man.
She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night, the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength.
Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then, she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.
"Who was that man?" he asked.
The nurse was startled. "He was your father," she answered.
"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in my life."
"Then why didn't you say something when I left you with him?"
"I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed." (from Cybersalt Digest)]
Rest and you’ll be more productive.
Busyness is today’s badge of success. We even carry this over to ministry, thinking the busier we are for God, the more He must be blessing our church, our business, or our ministry. But God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him.
Yes, we are to work hard when we work
Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
But we are commanded to rest;
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (NKJV)12 'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
The Commandment about the Sabbath Day says as much about rest as it does anything else, in fact this Commandment is the one with the most written about it.
Psalm 127:2 (NKJV)2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.
He gives to His children even in their sleep.
That means that as you rest and trust in Him, He can provide for you.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Renew Your Spirit
Church, people, schedules and taking on the devil head-on is depleting. If you are exhausted you won't be able to fight and resist the devil. When you are feeling discouraged, stop yourself for a moment and release the burden to God. On your bad days, you should rest and on your good days, you should rest.
When you don’t feel like you can make it another day, turn to the Scriptures to drown out depression, anxiety, doubt and anger. God promised to renew our strength like the eagle, and we will run and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Also, go to the Bible, a devotional, enter into prayer, or play worship music to encourage yourself and to keep your spirit energized. You need to come to Jesus and just humble yourself before Him.
Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV)29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Serve God out of love for Him, not to earn His love for you, and not in order for Him to bless you. When you take time to rest and to remember that you were created to love God and enjoy Him forever, He brings a satisfaction to your soul and a joy to your heart and a productivity to your work.
Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 107:9 (NKJV)9 For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
That is restful and successful living.
We have all gone through a number of crisis in our lives. At the time it was the absolute worst thing that ever happened. Remember when that first elementary school crush dumped you, then that middle school crush, then the love of your life high school sweetheart. At the time you felt that your heart would break and you would never recover.
What about that time you lost your job and you had tons of debt. That time you learned that your spouse was cheating. When you got the news that your mother or father has gone to be with the Lord, or your spouse had a terminal illness, your child has just had a serious accident. I could go on and on and the crisis could get even more serious.
No matter how much we say that we love the Lord and know that He will never leave or forsake us, no matter how much we read the Bible and pray, at those times we don’t think we’re to get through this. Whether you want to admit it or not that’s doubt. For some the feeling passes quickly, for others of us it takes a lot longer and some of us may never get over it.
Having gone through all the examples that I gave you I can tell you it’s not easy but you can and will survive. The key for me was realizing that no matter how bad the situation or how long it lasted that God was in control even if it meant that the crisis may not end in this lifetime.
For those of you in the middle of one of those crisis right now you are not alone. Author Eva Piper has been through the fire. However, she learned valuable lessons. She shares 5 things that she discovered that helped her survive her crisis. They may help you get through yours or help someone you know who is going through theirs.
Eva Piper is a speaker and author the book A Walk Through The Dark. Eva has a unique insight into the trials of heartache and the triumph of overcoming. The wife of best-selling author Don Piper, Eva was the glue that held her broken husband and her family together. Don's story, recounted in the New York Times bestseller90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death, is Eva's story too.
5 Secrets to Surviving Anything
God is in control!
Like it or not crises and tragedies are parts of life. It may be as massive as a tornado in Moore, Okla., or a Super Storm Sandy. It may be a single car accident or diagnosis of life threatening illness. Some face the crisis of broken relationships, lost jobs, or financial ruin. When faced with such trials we can shake our fist at God, insist He is not in control, or cry out to Him to shine a light in our darkness. In her book, A Walk Through the Dark, Eva Piper shares her story of finding her way through the darkness following her husband's tragic car accident. In overcoming her ordeal, she found God never left her and He won’t leave you either.
Secret 1. You shouldn’t try to face the crisis alone. “When cast into the midst of a crisis you often feel alone and isolated,” says Piper. Our Savior knew we would face difficult times. “In this world there will be many trials, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” Jesus has provided for us in our most difficult times. Allow people to minister to you by accepting their offers to help. Often we don’t want to impose or be thought weak. As a good friend taught “You are robbing people of a blessing when you don’t allow them to help you.” Christians are to act as the body of Christ, reaching out to those in need. Allowing others to help you will bring you comfort and give them the chance to minister.
Secret 2. Allowing others to help allows you to take care of yourself. Piper continues: "The hour to hour, day in day out struggle of recovering from a crisis puts an incredible burden on the victim and their family. There is little time for rest during the recovery process. Limited rest results in your brain being on overload. Often you will be making serious decisions. It’s difficult to think things through when you are tired. Allowing others to help lets you take a break, a chance to recharge. That may be a simple walk down the hallway, a drive around the block, or a chance to go home for a much-needed nap. There is truth in the statement 'You can’t help your loved one if you don’t take care of yourself.'”
Secret 3. Seek God in Honest Communication. It is a humbling thought to believe that the creator of the universe wants to communicate with us. That is why we were to created, to have fellowship with God. In times of crisis God is there to listen to our deepest fears, our anger, our frustration, and our questions. He is never offended by our honest communication with Him. God would rather you be engaged and mad at Him than ignore Him. While dealing with crisis you can be completely honest with God. He never fails to answer. That answer may be yes, no, wait, or I have something better. He loves you and knows what’s best. Many have found a new, fresh, fulfilling relationship with God during their most trying times
Secret 4. Don’t Second Guess Yourself. After a crisis the tendency is to ask “What if_____?” It is normal for humans to wish bad things hadn’t happened. But during a time of crisis you can’t waste time wondering ‘what if?’ you have to spend your energy on the recovery.
Secret 5. Keep a Journal. “During times of crisis you are hit from all sides with questions and decisions,” writes Piper, author of A Walk Through the Dark. “It feels like you are in a storm with problems coming from all directions. Just trying to sort things out came be overwhelming. Keeping a journal can help you organize your thoughts. It’s private, just for you. In the journal you can list pros and cons of a decision and write about your feelings. Some people find buying a simple spiral notebook and writing down facts…medications, surgery dates, and doctor notes is a good way to start. Later they begin more personal writings. I found that keeping a Bible verse journal is also helpful. I write down verses that speak to me in a special way. Later, I go back and reread those pages of verses to bring peace during a difficult time. Journaling is a one way to provide shelter from the storm brought about by crisis."
Just a few days ago I published “Dealing With Doubt”. In it I give you six tips on how to deal with your doubt. One of those tips was to “make the main things the main things” in other words don’t dwell on the things that are secondary, but dwell on the things that actually shape your moral convictions. So don’t dwell on things like how and when God created the world or the details of Christ’s return. What’s really important is how we live our lives surrendered to the will of God for us as individuals. That’s where our core convictions that shape our ongoing relationship with God become more important than anything else.
The Daniel Dilemma: Core Convictions Shape the Way We Live Our Lives
by Chris Hodges, from The Daniel Dilemma
Convictions require you to decide what’s right ahead of time. They’re not based on what feels good or seems right in the moment. They are, instead, the unmovable foundation upon which our lives are built. We don’t need to be mean or judgmental when we share them with others, but we do need to be sure of them.
Our beliefs, values, and moral convictions provide a starting point for what we think and feel, the decisions we make, and the actions we take. They shape every aspect of our lives.
We can see how our convictions influence our lives most clearly in our relationships. For instance, my wife, Tammy, and I have been married for more than thirty years, and I’m the only guy who has ever kissed her. You know what that makes me? The best kisser in her world!
Seriously, we decided early in our lives how we wanted our relationships, especially with the opposite sex, to honor God. As a result, when we married we were both virgins and could give ourselves to each other fully, knowing we got to open God’s gift of intimacy together without having to compare, complain, or compete with anyone else. I’ve talked to many people in the church who have struggled with the aftermath of giving their sexual purity away before marriage. But the good news is, it’s possible to become pure again in the eyes of God. If you’ve had that same struggle, know that God wants to restore you and heal you. That process can begin when you come before Him, ask for forgiveness, and lift up your hurt.
Another thing Tammy and I agreed to when we got married was to take our vows as seriously as God takes them. We defined “till death do us part” as a lifetime commitment — no matter what. Consequently, we agreed to throw out two words from our dictionary: impossible (because it’s not in God’s vocabulary) and divorce (because it’s not an option).
I won’t presume to tell you exactly what your core convictions should be, since a range of different convictions can all be rooted in the Word of God, but because I’m frequently asked about my own, I would like to explore a few areas of conviction that are crucial to how one engages with the surrounding culture.
1. Worship, or placing worth and value on who God is, tops my list.
Scripture is crystal clear about God’s preeminence, the way He surpasses all others:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. — Colossians 1:15-18
When we worship God, we embrace His attributes. We see Him as omnipresent (everywhere at once), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), totally good, and totally loving. Worship is not about responsive readings or singing hymns. Worship is surrendering yourself to the power, majesty, and goodness of your Creator, letting God be God — even when you don’t understand what He’s doing or when you disagree.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. — Romans 12:1
When we surrender ourselves to God in all things and acknowledge His headship, we don’t question Him, even when the culture does.
2. God’s word, or placing worth and value on the Bible and believing it is the infallible Word of God, comes next.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:16-17
With any situation you face, let God’s Word settle it. Don’t let society explain away what God says is true.
We must stay full of the Word of God, using it as the guiding light for our daily lives and the moral basis for our value system. We must be careful to rely solely on truth, avoiding gossip, hearsay, and the opinions of others.
When asked what I think about current events or some particular issue, I often respond, “What makes you think my opinion matters? It’s what God thinks that counts.”
3. Holiness raises the standard of personal purity as we honor the lordship of Christ. God’s character, Christ’s example, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance provide our understanding of personal holiness. It’s being set apart from the world in a way that distinctly reflects who God is and what he’s about.
You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God. — 1 Thessalonians 4:2-5 MSG
Holiness requires us to maintain a standard of salt-and-light leadership to those around us. It acknowledges God’s lordship over our lives and demonstrates our willingness to follow in the sacrificial footsteps of Jesus. It means we think through our words, actions, habits, and attitudes at all times. Holiness prevents us from conforming to cultural changes and moral relativism.
4. Family carries worth and value as a sacred institution created by God. We are made in His image and designed for relationship. This begins with our families and extends when we marry and start a family of our own. As children, we’re instructed to honor our fathers and our mothers and to obey them; as parents, we are warned not to provoke or harm our children (Ephesians 6:2-4). Families take care of one another.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. — 1 Timothy 5:8
One relationship that is central to the family is marriage. God considers marriage to be a lifelong sacred covenant between a man and a woman. He hates divorce, because marriage is designed to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. According to Ephesians 5, husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the Church, leading through sacrificial service, and wives must love their husbands with respect, honoring them through sacrificial devotion (Ephesians 5:22-26).
Strong families grow out of strong marriages in which husbands and wives love and respect each other, serve and honor each other.
5. Life has intrinsic value in all forms, reflecting this most precious gift from God. Therefore, no person has the right to terminate human life, their own or anyone else’s.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’. — Jeremiah 1:4-5
God knew each person even before he or she was conceived, so we must value each life as a gift from God. In light of this truth, we must face the fact that abortion is murder — there’s no nice way to say it — and taking one’s own life — including euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide — is not our decision to make.
Life is precious, and only God has the right to control when we live and when we die — not human beings.
6. Humility reflects an attitude of service, compassion, and strength. It’s the quality of placing the needs of others above your own, refusing to grandstand and draw attention to yourself. Truly humble people always reflect the glory of God, reminding us that He is the source of life. The opposite, of course, is pride — our human tendency to want the praise, adoration, and attention of those around us, to take all the credit and shift all the responsibility. Yet God’s view on human pride is clear:
God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. — James 4:6
Humility serves as the remedy for prideful self-centeredness. It reflects simplicity and sincerity, a willingness to sacrifice one’s ego. My family and I keep our lives and our ministry simple so we can do more for God. Living simply lowers costs and frees up our time so resources can go to the work of the Lord. We reach people for the glory of God, not for our own egos. Sincerity keeps us real and touchable, and it makes sure our words and thoughts match. Humility keeps our hearts tuned to God and not ourselves.
These core areas of conviction probably don’t surprise you, but if you don’t know what you believe about any of them, then I encourage you to explore God’s Word and commit to His truth. Culture will continue to be our Enemy’s smokescreen for obscuring truth and confusing God’s people.
But if you keep your eyes on the firm ground of God’s truth, deciding what you believe before you’re tested, then you will stand strong no matter how many bow down to the cultural pressure around you.
Excerpted with permission from The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges, copyright Chris Hodges.
Christians today face a dilemma: in a world that seems to reject everything we believe, how do we walk closely with God without caving to pressure or alienating those we hope to reach? In this eye-opening new book, Chris Hodges provides a solution by examining the life of the prophet Daniel, who persevered in a corrupt culture that closely resembles our own—and emerged as an influential force in God’s redemptive plan. Full of scripture and seasoned with Hodges’ candid personal insights, The Daniel Dilemma shows us that we can hold firmly to biblical beliefs without becoming obnoxious, insulting, or mad. We can stand strong while loving others well. Because standing for truth isn’t about winning the argument; it’s about winning hearts. And when we learn the secret of connecting before correcting, we discover that we can respond to today’s hard questions without compromising grace or truth. With fresh insights and practical ideas, Hodges encourages Christians struggling with our cultural reality to hold God’s standards high and his grace deep—just as Jesus did, and just as his followers today are called to do. $16.99
I recently preached the sermon The Mind Is The Battlefield Of Spiritual Warfare. In it I say that Satan's most effective tactic is to establish strongholds in your mind. A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, pretending to be bigger or more powerful than God.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Strongholds are built by the “ imaginations, speculations and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God.
These imaginations can be a superstitious belief, an addiction, wrong thoughts, or despair over the loss of a loved one or relationship or many other things.
They can consume our emotions, cause us to become overwhelmed, and sap our mental strength. If we try to ignore them we will never be able to live the life of victory promised by Jesus.
The devil’s chief target is the mind, because the most effective way to influence behaviour is to influence our thinking.
God has given us armor for protection and a powerful and effective weapon in the “sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God (the Bible).
Ephesians 6:13-18 NKJV Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--
We must have the whole armor of God protecting us at all times so we can stand successfully against the enemy’s attacks and plans.
To “take your stand” literally means to stand in front of and in opposition to the forces and plans of evil. It means to be the one standing after the battle. It also means to stand ready for the next battle which will come. You need this armor to stop any attack in your life.
To win this war against Satan, we need to take control of our thought life – “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We take those thoughts captive with the Word of God the “sword of the Spirit”.
Here are more weapons and ammunition to use along with your sword so you will continue to win battle after battle.
6 Ways to Beat the Devil
Learn how to conquer your foe
By Corine Gatti
Since the dawn of time, the devil has been out there scheming to take down the believer. We can't see him, but this does not mean he's not there. The devil whispers those lofty temptations into our spiritual ears and into our minds. He was present was Jesus was born and showed up at Calvary. He loves to torment us and is pretty good at tempting us into sin since he was the first sinner! Satan rebelled and was cast out of Heaven and this became a domino effect as sin emptied into the Garden of Eden. The Bible said that Satan is angry. No wonder why, he was God's chosen one and fell from the skies in disgrace. Look at Ezekiel 28:13-15, which described Lucifer as a precious stone and was "The anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee." The enemy desires to remain supreme above God. Are you powerless? No! You have weapons that you can use.
Prayer gives you a covering against the devil and is the opportunity to share our wants and needs with God. Prayer in our daily lives is important as it protects us. "The Bible reminds us that our battle is not people-based, it’s spiritual. Identify your opponent, his strategies and tactics and be empowered through the Holy Spirit to thwart them," author Joel Osteen wrote. Additionally, Jesus prayed often. In Matthew 14:23, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. In Mark 1:35 we know that he prayed in the morning. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Prayer is mentioned a lot in the Bible and there is a reason.
Cast Down Thoughts
So when you're attacked by depression, hate, anger, division, addictions and all of those nasty thoughts that come into the heart, that could be the devil. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world's darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms," the Bible warned. In this case, you want to combat these thoughts by casting aside things that are not true. Jesus was tempted in the desert and was tempted to give up on the cross, but He focused on the power of God and God's Word. The tempter came and said to Him, ‘If indeed you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread,” it said in Matthew 4:2-3. Again, Jesus prevailed.
If you are exhausted in every sense of the word, you won't be able to combat the devil on the spiritual plane. Get rest and build yourself up. Church, people, schedules and taking on satan head-on is depleting. The author of Hebrews mirrors this by instructing us to cease from weariness. “Let us, therefore, be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest of God, to know and experience it for ourselves.” When you are feeling discouraged, stop yourself for a moment and release the burden to God. On your darkest days, you should rest and on your good days, you should rest. Israel wandered across the wilderness for 40 years and felt depleted. According to Psalms 95:10-11, "For 40 years I loathed that generation and said, 'They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.' Therefore I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"
Renew Your Spirit
When you don’t feel like you can make it another day, turn to the Scriptures to drown out depression, anxiety, doubt and anger. God promised to renew our strength like the eagle, and we will run and not faint. Also, go to the Bible, a devotional, enter into prayer, or play worship music to encourage yourself and to keep your spirit energized. You need to come to Jesus and just humble yourself before Him. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," Jesus reminded us.
Know You Are Loved
The devil knows how much you are loved because he once had the love of the Father. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” John 3:16 said. Ask the Lord to show you His love to you, so you can enter into His rest. When we experience His love it will flow to others. On your darkest days when there is nothing to keep you going, He loves you. No wonder the devil is mad at you and everything that is good. God so lovingly created men and women to reflect the beauty of their Creator and the devil is mad over this.
We can't go into any battle without confidence and you need to know who you are in Christ. To do this, start affirming yourself through Scripture. Your words are powerful and are impactful. Think of it as one of the most powerful weapons that you own, which is your mouth. The Bible says out of the abundance of the heart the "mouth speaks and also as a person thinks so they are. Change your thoughts, change your words and God’s power will change your life," Osteen added. Once you build up your confidence you can take on the devil and show him who is the boss. If you lack self-confidence, the devil will walk all over you and use people to keep you down as well. Speak life and power into your situation, not doubt.
Dealing with the devil can be a troublesome ordeal, no matter where you are. There will be times that you will want to give up and walk away for good. But there are tools at your disposal. By using faith, prayer, Scripture and some determination, you will beat the devil at his game.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.