I bet the title of this blog post shocked you. How could a person who says that he loves God and follows Jesus’ command that we should love others stop saying “I’ll pray for you?
I was shocked too when I saw this as the subject of one of the devotions I get every morning in my email. This one from Prayer.full from FaithGateway is an excerpt from the book Moving Mountains by John Eldredge. I wondered how a Christian author could actually write about not not saying "I'll pray for you. That is until I read why he stopped saying it.
Now that I understand his reason I may stop saying it too. (To get the book click on its image after the post).
Why I Stopped Saying ‘I Will Pray For You’
by John Eldredge from Moving Mountains
I’ve come to the place where I have had to stop telling people, “I’ll pray for you.”
I simply know that despite my good intentions — and these promises are almost always spoken with good intent — I know that nine times out of ten I just don’t remember to follow through. Not until maybe a week or two later, and then I feel guilty that I forgot. I don’t like promising something I probably won’t live up to.
You know how these stories go: Someone you care about tells you of their pain, need, or struggle, and you respond with, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that; I’ll pray for you.” But then, most of the time, we never do.
If all the prayers that were promised were actually prayed, this would be a different world by now.
So instead of promising future prayer, what I try to do nowadays is stop, right there in the moment, and pray. Right then and there. It’s funny how many Christians this actually throws off guard. “You mean, right now?” “Yes — absolutely. Let’s pray.”
In the restaurant, in the car, on the plane, wherever. If it’s a text or e-mail request, I’ll start praying as I type my response, typing out a prayer for them right then and there. Not only does it help me follow through, but it helps them to agree right along with what I have prayed, and agreement is mighty powerful, as we know.
I’m thinking of St. Patrick, how he would pray through the course of the day as he worked: “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly through the daylight hours. The love of God and the fear of Him surrounded me more and more — and faith grew and the spirit was roused, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and after dark nearly as many again.”1
He simply did it right there, in the moment. For the truth is, there is no “later.”
Now is the time to pray, for now is all we really have.
“Jesus, come into this — we invite You into this” is a great place to start. Whatever the need — guidance, direction, encouragement, healing, protection; the cancelled flight, the report from the doctor, the tension in relationship — this is the place to start. Invite Jesus right into the heart of it all, right there, in the moment. “Jesus, come into this — we invite You into this.”
We do this often in our meetings at Ransomed Heart. Someone will say, “I think we ought to pray about such-and-such,” and I’ll reply, “Go for it. Lead us. Right now,” and we’ll stop what we are doing and pray. Because if we don’t, we rarely get back around to it. I don’t know how many Christian meetings I’ve been in — board meetings, elder meetings — when all the time is used talking about what needs prayer, and we find we have barely a few minutes left at the end for one quick, little, rushed prayer.
It’s a brilliant ploy of the enemy — keep God’s people talking about it, debating, conjecturing, worrying over it, speculating, so they never really get around to praying.
By all means, pray when you have time and space to devote yourself to it, time to truly seek God. But pray now too — because you don’t know that you will get to it later.
1. Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (New York: Anchor, Doubleday, 1996), 102.
Excerpted with permission from Moving Mountains by John Eldredge, copyright John Eldredge, 2016.
Before I get into any discussion of Astrology and Christians let’s first look at a couple of definitions.
Astronomy - The branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole.
Astrology - The study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.
Astronomy In the Bible
The Bible has much to say about the stars. Most basic to our understanding of the stars is that God created them.
Genesis 1:16-19 (NKJV)16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Psalm 8:3 (NKJV) When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
Psalm 147:4 (NKJV) He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
The Bible also teaches that God arranged the stars into recognizable groups that we call constellations.
Job 9:9 (NKJV)9 He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south;
The Bible says that God gave the sun, moon, and stars as “signs’ and “seasons” to mark time for man
Genesis 1:14 (NKJV)14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
The sun, moon and stars were used for navigation.
Acts 27:20 (NKJV) Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
God used the stars when He promised Abraham that his seed would not be able to be numbered. So every time that Abraham looked into the heavens he was reminded of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Genesis 15:5 (NKJV)5 Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."
There will be astronomical events at the final judgement of the earth.
Isaiah 13:9-10 (NKJV)9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
Matthew 24:29 (NKJV)29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
What About Astrology?
Astrology is a belief that the position and movement of the sun moon and stars have some impact on human character, nature, and destiny. This is a false belief.
Astrology is offensive to God because it attributes to planets and stars the power that belongs to God alone and because it tries to find the will of God by other means than God has appointed. Throughout the Bible God tells us that He will guide us.
Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)4 Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 16:33 (NKJV) The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
Psalm 32:8 (NKJV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
The nation of Israel was forbidden from worshiping the sun, moon, or stars as other nations.
Deuteronomy 4:19 (NKJV)19 And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.
Deuteronomy 17:2-5 (NKJV)2 "If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing His covenant,3 who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded,4 and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel,5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones.
Here is what the Bible says about those who prepare and follow the horoscopes
Isaiah 47:12-14 (NKJV)12 "Stand now with your enchantments And the multitude of your sorceries, In which you have labored from your youth-- Perhaps you will be able to profit, Perhaps you will prevail.13 You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels; Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, And the monthly prognosticators Stand up and save you From what shall come upon you.14 Behold, they shall be as stubble, The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver themselves From the power of the flame; It shall not be a coal to be warmed by, Nor a fire to sit before! (Bold mine)
Don’t Get Caught Up And Fooled By Horoscopes
Horoscopes can’t tell you what you’re like; they can however influence youand make you into what you read and study. People, including Christians who get caught up into believing the horoscope and not the Word of God start to pattern their lives after the zodiac and their horoscope for the day. They become literally transformed into their horoscope. A Christian has no need of astrology with its futile hints because believers can turn instead to the guidance of God’s Word.
We should acknowledge the Creator of the heavens. Our wisdom comes from God, not the stars. The stars and the universe point to God’s power and wisdom. We should use the stars to keep track of time and place and to remind us of God’s faithfulness.
James 1:5 (NKJV)5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. The Word of God, the Bible, is our guide through life not the stars, not our horoscope.
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
All of the Psalms are not songs of praise. Some of them are songs that describe deep despair. Psalm 141 is one of those songs. The writer, David, has suffered at the hands of the ungodly in Israel but rather than pray for deliverance from them he prays that God keep him from sin.
In His prayer David asks for strength to overcome temptation. He asks God for the power to guard his tongue, to keep him pure, and to keep him from taking part in the things, and pleasures of the wicked. He is certain that God will continue to strengthen him. He is also certain that God will turn the plan of the wicked back on them and they will fall into their own traps.
In order to apply this Psalm to us today we must change our perspective in times of adversity from our view to t God’s perspective. We should seek the Lord on and depend on Him to deliver us. We need not fear the because we know that God is good, that He loves us, and that He will never leave or forsake us.
Psalm 119:68 (NIV) You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
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.”
Protection From Sin And Sinners
Psalm 141:1-10 (NIV) I call to you, Lord , come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Set a guard over my mouth, Lord ; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken. They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.” But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord ; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.
“The Kingdom of heaven is within you” is not in the bible. The Kingdom of God is synonymous with the Kingdom of heaven so this phrase may be a misquote and misunderstanding of
Luke 17:21 (NKJV)21 nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
This was the last part of Jesus’ response to a question asked by the Pharisees.
Luke 17:20 (NKJV)20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
The Jewish leaders were looking for the Messiah to come and lead the nation of Israel to a in a successful liberation from their captors the Romans. Instead here was Jesus talking about a Kingdom that called for repentance and loving your enemies.
The Greek word translated “within”, in this scripture is entos, which is translated various ways. It is translated “within” in the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, and NET. It is translated “among you” in the NLT and HCSB, and “in the midst of you” in the ESV. Earlier versions of the NIV had “within you” with a marginal note suggesting “among you.” Since Jesus was answering the Pharisees “within you” is not the best translation because Jesus was surely not saying that the Kingdom of God was within the Pharisees’ hearts. These people opposed Jesus and had no relationship with God. Jesus even called them hypocrites.
Matthew 23:27 (NKJV) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
So the best translation of entos, in the context that Jesus used it is “in the midst of you” or “among you”
What Is The Kingdom Of Heaven?
The Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are synonymous. The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs 68 times in 10 different New Testament books, while “Kingdom of heaven” occurs only 32 times, and only in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus even uses the two terms interchangeably.
Matthew 19:23-24 (NKJV)23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Bold mine).
Broadly speaking, the Kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal, sovereign God over all the universe.
Psalm 103:19 (NKJV) The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His Kingdom rules over all.
Daniel 4:3 (NKJV) How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.
Romans 13:1 (NKJV)1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
However, the Kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who become part of His Kingdom and to willingly submit to His authority. Jesus told Nicodemus how to become a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
John 3:3-6 (NKJV)3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Once a citizen of His Kingdom you must submit to His authority.
Matthew 7:21 (NKJV) "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
The Kingdom Of God Is Not Just About Heaven
A big misconception many Christians is that the Kingdom of God is all about a place called heaven, our home after death. However, the Kingdom of God is not all about the future and strictly speaking it’s not a place.
Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of God, but Jesus demonstrated what the Kingdom really is. He healed people, He blessed people, He comforted people. He brought us face-to-face with the Kingdom in the present.
The Kingdom Of God Is Not Just A Place
When we hear the word "Kingdom," we think a nation or empire controlled by officials This can certainly be true on the return of Jesus. And while this was certainly part of the ancient imagination that gave birth to the idea of "the Kingdom of God," it cannot fully encompass it. The Kingdom is not a place, really. It’s more what the Kingdom is like instead of where it is.
The Kingdom of God is found wherever and whenever God meets the gathering of the faithful. God has promised to meet us wherever we gather, whenever we call on God's name.
The kingdom of God impacts actions, thoughts, relationships, families, institutions, and governments. In the end, it will touch everything on earth. Like a tiny mustard seed grows into a great bush, the Kingdom of God which started with Jesus and a small group of men has grown all over the earth and is still growing and conquering the heart and minds of men, women, boy, and girls.
Matthew 13:31-32 (NKJV) 31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
If the kingdom of God is neither up in heaven nor limited to human hearts, but is something we ought to experience in all aspects of our earthly life
The Kingdom Of God Is Not Just About The Future
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount talks about the present reality of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 5:3, 11 (NKJV) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10 (NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
In His first sermon in Luke, at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus said;
Luke 4:18-21 (NKJV)18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.21 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Jesus commissioned all of His disciples, that includes us today as well, to proclaim the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Matthew 28:16-20 (NKJV)16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
So Where Is The Kingdom
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. He begins that model prayer by asking that His Father’s Kingdom come and be on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10 (NKJV)9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.10 Your Kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Heaven On Earth
I want to share a devotion, about the Kingdom of Heaven, that I recently read in the YouVersion Living For Heaven Reading Plan by Craig Denison and First15 titled Heaven on Earth
Heaven on Earth
Scripture: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
To seek God’s kingdom coming to earth is to declare our great need for God’s presence, provision, love, and redemption. We have been given a mandate of the highest importance from our King of kings. We are to carry the Kingdom of God with us everywhere we go and release this Kingdom through everything we do. We are called by Jesus to bring heaven to earth.
In Matthew 16:19 Jesus tells his disciples, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” What would it look like for the people of God to release the Kingdom of heaven everywhere they go? What would it look like for even just a few of us to truly say yes to the calling of God on our lives to live for more than just worldly pleasure and comfort, to step outside of ourselves and live with an eternal perspective?
You are made to make an eternal impact far greater than you can imagine. God has placed within you keys to the doors of heaven, and he longs to use you to release his love, grace, peace, mercy, and redemption to others in desperate need of him. He longs to call you out from the daily grind of life into a higher pursuit of seeing the earth transformed by his goodness.
Seeing heaven come to earth all starts with declaring your need of God. It all starts with drawing a circle around yourself and allowing God to transform you from the inside out. You are not called to minister to others in your own strength. You are not called to figure out how to best love people. You aren’t even called to muster up a desire to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. All the weight of eternal impact rests on the shoulders of your heavenly Father. All that is required of you is to take time to let God love you, fill you with the desires of his heart, and follow his leadership into the fulfillment of those desires.
God wants to take your five loaves of bread and two fish and multiply it to feed the souls of thousands. Say yes to partnering with the Holy Spirit, and allow God to use you to change the world by bringing his Kingdom to earth through simple acts of love and obedience. Take time in guided prayer to allow God’s word and his Spirit to teach you, empower you, and release you into the calling of bringing heaven to earth today.
God wants to bring the kingdom to earth through you. No matter who your friends are or where you find yourself, God wants to bring the Kingdom to earth everywhere around you. If you will say yes every day to the adventure of being used by God, your life will begin to take on a whole new purpose so much more fulfilling than anything you’ve previously experienced. May you live to see God’s Kingdom come to earth through your life today.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
According to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, 92% of Americans believe it’s important to get an annual physical, but only 62% actually do.
Just as everyone has different medical needs, your ideal physical schedule depends on your situation. If you’re generally healthy, you may only need occasional preventive screenings based on your age.
General adult physical schedule:
Regardless of your circumstances, regular visits help you build a relationship and history with your primary care provider. And routine blood tests establish your unique health baseline. We’re all a little different, and what’s normal for you is not necessarily what’s normal for others. So having your own track record for blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels will help you quickly spot any early signs of trouble.
Only you and your doctor can determine your best checkup and screening schedule. - From ComprehensivePrimaryCare.com
Your Spiritual Checkup
To detect health problems before they become serious, doctors recommend a routine physical exam. We can do the same for our spiritual health by asking a few questions rooted in the great commandment. .
Mark 12:30 (NLT)30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’
You don’t need to go to a doctor, church, pastor, friend, or anybody for a spiritual checkup. You can do it yourself. In other words, are you really a Christian? Or are you just pretending? You are really a Christian when you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone to save you, and you are trusting in Him and walking with Him. It will show itself in the way that you live.
Use this list for your spiritual checkup. Then evaluate your spiritual health and prayerfully seek God’s help in areas where you sense that He wants you to improve and grow.
When People Ridicule, Persecute, Ignore, Or, Run From You Because Of Jesus Remember That One Day They Will Kneel Too
Most of us who are not ashamed of our personal relationship with God have, at times, faced ridicule, been laughed at, called nuts, been called ignorant, stupid and much more. Since I started writing a posting my blog posts on social media I’ve been call all of those things and more, often with very colorful language. I’ve learned that it is useless to argue or to respond in kind. I’ve learned that we must have thick skin and to remember what Jesus said to His disciples.
John 15:18-25 (NLT)18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me.22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father.25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
When that happens be of good cheer.
Matthew 10:22 (NLT) And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.
John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Those who ridicule you today will one day kneel before Jesus who is the reason they ridicule, laugh at, persecute, ignore, or run from you.
Romans 14:11 (NLT) For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’”
Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT)9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Daniel 7:13-14 (NLT) 13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence.14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.
The following devotion by Rick Warren is for you.
Focus on Your Future to Get Through Temporary Troubles
By Rick Warren
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV).
When we follow Jesus, we will face trouble. The Bible says that’s guaranteed. You’ll be harassed, persecuted, rejected, and ridiculed because of your faith.
But that’s not the end of the story. The Bible also says that Jesus endured the torture of the cross “for the joy set before him.”
You, too, must focus on your future reward if you want to get through your temporary troubles.
Imagine the scene at the end of history. Everyone who has ever lived will one day kneel before Jesus Christ. Everyone will say, “Jesus is Lord.” Some will praise him because they’ve done so all their lives. Others will praise him in judgment to themselves because they’ve denied him all their lives.
Every professor who ridiculed you because of your faith will one day praise Jesus. Every friend who tried to convince you to abandon your faith will praise him. Every entertainer who made a mockery of his name will praise him. Every politician who opposed his ways will one day praise him.
The Bible describes it like this: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV).
Everyone will one day bow before Jesus.
At that time God will also reward you for staying true to him despite the harassment and criticism you face for your faith today.
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV).
Whenever you face persecution, you’re in the same category as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Moses.
Just like those great prophets of old, you’ll one day experience an eternity with God, full of unimaginable joy. The harassment, persecution, rejection, and ridicule you face now for Jesus’ sake won’t compare to the reward of eternity with God.
God did not create us to be Lone Rangers, but to have fellowship with others, first with Him, then because he saw that it wasn't good for the first person, Adam, to be alone He created Eve.
Genesis 2:18, 21-23 (NLT) 18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.23 “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”
Then there were children and a family.
Genesis 4:1-2 (NLT)1 Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the LORD’s help, I have produced a man!”2 Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.
Then tribes, nations, groups, clubs, fraternities, sororities, religious organizations, and the Church, , which started on the Day of Pentecost.
Acts 2:1-4, 38-41 (NLT) 1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
We humans, even those who say they are loners, need to have interaction with other humans. In order to be a member, or a part of some these groups you must go through an initiation, which is the action of admitting someone into a secret or obscure society or group, typically with a ritual. Some of these initiations are expensive, sometimes painful, and time consuming. We go through these initiations because it's good for our careers, our businesses, our lifestyles, or our egos. At the end of these initiations we become a one of them. I’m was initiated into Kappa Alpha Psi a Greek Fraternity so I’m a Kappa. If you went through the initiation process for the Masons you are a Mason. If you went through the process for the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority you’re a Delta.
If you went through the initiation of salvation you are a Christian, a joint heir with Christ, the Son of God the Creator, and the Founder of this group.
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Romans 8:15-17 (NLT)15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
The benefits of being a member of this group include a one-on-one personal relationship with God the Creator of the universe. With membership in this group comes forgiveness of all sin. With membership in this group comes eternal life in the presence of God Almighty.
Have you been initiated by God?
I recently read an excerpt for Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. The excerpt is titled “How God the Father Initiates a Man”. The excerpts says a man but it could be a woman, boy, or girl.
How God the Father Initiates a Man
Desperate for Initiation
A man needs to know his name. He needs to know he’s got what it takes.
And I don’t mean “know” in the modernistic, rationalistic sense. I don’t mean that the thought has passed through your cerebral cortex and you’ve given it intellectual assent, the way you know about the Battle of Waterloo or the ozone layer — the way most men “know” God or the truths of Christianity. I mean a deep knowing, the kind of knowing that comes when you have been there, entered in, experienced firsthand in an unforgettable way. The way “Adam knew his wife” and she gave birth to a child. Adam didn’t know about Eve; he knew her intimately, through flesh-and-blood experience at a very deep level. There’s knowledge about and knowledge of. When it comes to our question, we need the latter.
In the movie Gladiator, set in the second century A.D., the hero is a warrior from Spain called Maximus. He is the commander of the Roman armies, a general loved by his men and by the aging emperor Marcus Aurelius. The emperor’s foul son Commodus learns of his father’s plan to make Maximus emperor in his place, but before Marcus can pronounce his successor, Commodus strangles his father. He sentences Maximus to immediate execution and his wife and son to crucifixion and burning. Maximus escapes, but too late to save his family.
Captured by slave traders, he is sold as a gladiator. That fate is normally a death sentence, but this is Maximus, a valiant fighter. He more than survives; he becomes a champion. Ultimately he is taken to Rome to perform in the Colosseum before the emperor Commodus (who of course believes that Maximus is long dead). After a remarkable display of courage and a stunning upset, the emperor comes down into the arena to meet the valiant gladiator, whose identity remains hidden behind his helmet.
COMMODUS: Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don’t believe there’s ever been a gladiator that matched you... Why doesn’t the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name? (Maximus is silent.) You do have a name?
MAXIMUS: My name is Gladiator. (He turns and walks away.)
COMMODUS: How dare you show your back to me?! Slave! You will remove your helmet and tell me your name.
MAXIMUS: (Slowly, very slowly, he lifts his helmet and turns to face his enemy.) My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius; Commander of the Armies of the North; General of the Felix Legions; loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius; father to a murdered son; husband to a murdered wife; and I will have my vengeance, in this life or in the next.
His answer builds like a mighty wave, swelling in size and strength before it crashes on the shore. The man knows who he is, what he’s made of.
Where does a man go to learn an answer like that — to learn his true name, a name that can never be taken from him? That deep heart knowledge comes only through a process of initiation. You have to know where you’ve come from; you have to have faced a series of trials that test you; you have to have taken a journey; and you have to have faced your enemy.
But as a young man recently lamented to me, “I’ve been a Christian since I was five — no one ever showed me what it means to really be a man.” He’s lost now. He moved across the country to be with his girlfriend, but she’s dumped him because he doesn’t know who he is and what he’s here for. There are countless others like him, a world of such men — a world of uninitiated men.
The church would like to think it is initiating men, but it’s not. What does the church bring a man into? What does it call him out to be? Moral. That is pitifully insufficient. Morality is a good thing, but morality is never the point. Paul says the Law is given as a tutor to the child, but not to the son. The son is invited up into something much more. He gets the keys to the car; he gets to go away with the father on some dangerous mission.
Where do we go? To whom can we turn? To a most surprising source.
How God Initiates a Man
A number of years ago, at a point in my own journey when I felt more lost than ever, I heard a talk given by Gordon Dalbey, who had just written Healing the Masculine Soul. He raised the idea that despite a man’s past and the failures of his own father to initiate him, God could take him on that journey, provide what was missing. A hope rose within me, but I dismissed it with the cynicism I’d learned to use to keep down most things in my soul.
Several weeks, perhaps months later, I was downstairs in the early morning to read and pray. As with so many of my “quiet times,” I ended up looking out the window toward the east to watch the sun rise.
I heard Jesus whisper a question to me: “Will you let Me initiate you?” Before my mind ever had a chance to process, dissect, and doubt the whole exchange, my heart leaped up and said yes.
“Who can give a man this, his own name?” George MacDonald asks. “God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is.” He reflects upon the white stone that Revelation includes among the rewards God will give to those who “overcome.” On that white stone there is a new name. It is “new” only in the sense that it is not the name the world gave to us, certainly not the one delivered with the wound. No man will find on that stone “mama’s boy” or “fatty” or “seagull.” But the new name is really not new at all when you understand that it is your true name, the one that belongs to you, “that being whom He had in His thought when He began to make the child, and whom He kept in His thought throughout the long process of creation” and redemption. Psalm 139 makes it clear that we were personally, uniquely planned and created, knit together in our mother’s womb by God Himself. He had someone in mind and that someone has a name.
That someone has also undergone a terrible assault. Yet God remains committed to the realization of that same someone. The giving of the white stone makes it clear — that is what He is up to.
The history of a man’s relationship with God is the story of how God calls him out, takes him on a journey and gives him his true name. Most of us have thought it was the story of how God sits on His throne waiting to whack a man broadside when he steps out of line. Not so. He created Adam for adventure, battle, and beauty; He created us for a unique place in His story and He is committed to bringing us back to the original design.
So God calls Abram out from Ur of the Chaldees to a land he has never seen, to the frontier, and along the way Abram gets a new name. He becomes Abraham. God takes Jacob off into Mesopotamia somewhere, to learn things he has to learn and cannot learn at his mother’s side. When he rides back into town, he has a limp and a new name as well.
Even if your father did his job, he can only take you partway.
There comes a time when you have to leave all that is familiar, and go on into the unknown with God. Saul was a guy who really thought he understood the story and very much liked the part he had written for himself. He was the hero of his own little miniseries, “Saul the Avenger.” After that little matter on the Damascus road he becomes Paul; and rather than heading back into all of the old and familiar ways he is led out into Arabia for three years to learn directly from God.
Jesus shows us that initiation can happen even when we’ve lost our father or grandfather.
He’s the carpenter’s son, which means Joseph was able to help him in the early days of his journey. But when we meet the young man Jesus, Joseph is out of the picture. Jesus has a new teacher — his true Father — and it is from Him He must learn who he really is and what he’s really made of.
Initiation involves a journey and a series of tests, through which we discover our real name and our true place in the story.
Most of us have been misinterpreting life and what God is doing for a long time.
“I think I’m just trying to get God to make my life work easier,” a client of mine confessed, but he could have been speaking for most of us. We’re asking the wrong questions. Most of us are asking, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Or, “God, why won’t you just...” (fill in the blank — help me succeed, get my kids to straighten out, fix my marriage — you know what you’ve been whining about). But to enter into a journey of initiation with God requires a new set of questions:
What are You trying to teach me here? What issues in my heart are You trying to raise through this? What is it You want me to see? What are You asking me to let go of?
In truth, God has been trying to initiate you for a long time. What is in the way is how you’ve mishandled your wound and the life you’ve constructed as a result.
Editor’s Note: The italicized sections of this post are from Greg Laurie Daily Devotion - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 all other text is by the writer of this post.
Do you know the favorite scripture of nonbelievers?
Matthew 7:1 (NKJV) Judge not, that you be not judged.
The nonbeliver and some believers quote this verse after we say something like, “I don't think what you’re doing is right” or ,”You shouldn't be doing that?”
The Greek word translated “judge” in this passage is “krinō”:which means “properly to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish :- avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.” - Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
A better translation of Matthew 7:1 would be: "Do not condemn others, and you will not be condemned."
Translating “judge” to condemn here makes perfect sense when taken in context. Believers must stop short of final condemnation, because we can’t judge motives. Only God can do that.
James 4:11-12 (NKJV)11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
This verse is not telling us that we should not make judgments, because in other passages we read that as believers, we are indeed to make evaluations, to be discerning, and yes— to even make judgments.
Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Christians need to judge themselves and offending members
1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 12-13 (NKJV)3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
The Bible says this about believers;
I Corinthians 6:2 NKJV Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
I Peter 4:17 NKJV For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Believers are not in position to condemn a person. But are in a position to make judgments about things, situations, viewpoints, and even about people to some degree.
Jesus warns us not to assume God's prerogative to condemn the guilty; he is not warning us not to discern truth from error. Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit.
Matthew 7:3-5 (NKJV)3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Matthew 18:15-18 (NKJV)15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Galatians 6:1-5 (NKJV)1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5 For each one shall bear his own load.
"Don't judge!" is said by people who don't like it when we dare to have a Christian worldview. In fact, I have found that the most narrow-minded people are those who claim to be the most broad-minded. Those who claim to be the most accepting are often the least accepting. Because when a Christian has an opinion, a nonbeliever will say, "How dare you say that! Who are you to judge?"
There is a living God, and He has revealed himself in the pages of Scripture. Therefore, as believers, we accept the fact that we have absolute truth from God. And we develop our worldview from what the Bible teaches.
Copyright © 2010 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV ) 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This passage of scripture tells us to pray and not worry about anything, and when we do God will give us peace. That sounds great but we need to be able to keep that peace until God answers our prayers. That’s very hard when the things we are trying to not worry about are things that can have very negative impacts on our lives.
We need the help of the Holy Spirit to get our thinking straight. There’s too much going on in that brain of ours. We can’t think two or more things at the same time. When we try to do that we become anxious, we’re being pulled in multiple directions -- toward "good" thoughts or toward "bad" thoughts. We can’t think straight or make a decision we become, anxious, and do nothing.
What we need to do is to start thinking about something other than ourselves and our current situations. When we think about things that are; true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, the result is praise instead of anxiety and fear.
Max Lucado in his book Anxious For Nothing gives us an example of what happens when we change our thinking.
Think About What You Think About
by Max Lucado
In her short thirteen years Rebecca Taylor has endured more than fifty-five surgeries and medical procedures and approximately one thousand days in the hospital.
Christyn, Rebecca’s mom, talks about her daughter’s health complications with the ease of a surgeon. The vocabulary of most moms includes phrases such as “cafeteria food,” “slumber party,” and “too much time on the phone.” Christyn knows this language, but she’s equally fluent in the vernacular of blood cells, stents, and, most recently, a hemorrhagic stroke.
In her blog she wrote:
This past week’s new land mine was the phrase “possible hemorrhagic stroke,” a phrase I heard dozens of times used by numerous physicians. Over and over and over that phrase filled my mind and consumed my thoughts. It was emotionally crippling.
This past Sunday our preacher, Max Lucado, started a very fitting series on anxiety. We reviewed the familiar Philippians 4:6 verse: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I presented my requests to the Lord as I had so many times before, but this time, THIS time, I needed more. And so, using Philippians 4:8-9 as a guide, I found my answer:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true...” What was true in my life at this particular moment? The blessing of all family members eating dinner together.
“Whatever is noble.” The blessing of enjoying each other’s presence outside of a hospital room.
“Whatever is right.” The blessing of experiencing my two sons’ daily lives.
“Whatever is pure.” The blessing of all three children laughing and playing with each other.
“Whatever is lovely.” The blessing of watching Rebecca sleep peacefully in her bed at night.
“Whatever is admirable.” The blessing of an honorable team working tirelessly on Rebecca’s care.
“If anything is excellent.” The blessing of watching a miracle unfold.
“Or praiseworthy.” The blessing of worshiping a Lord who is worthy to be praised.
“Think about such things.”
I did. As I meditated on these things, I stopped the dreaded phrase “hemorrhagic stroke” from sucking any joy out of my life. Its power to produce anxiety was now rendered impotent. And when I dwelt on the bountiful blessings in my life happening AT THAT VERY MOMENT, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,” DID guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. A true, unexpected miracle. Thank You, Lord.
Did you note what Christyn did? The words hemorrhagic stroke hovered over her life like a thundercloud. Yet she stopped the dreaded phrase from sucking joy out of her life.
She did so by practicing thought management. You probably know this, but in case you don’t, I am so thrilled to give you the good news: you can pick what you ponder.
You didn’t select your birthplace or birth date. You didn’t choose your parents or siblings. You don’t determine the weather or the amount of salt in the ocean. There are many things in life over which you have no choice. But the greatest activity of life is well within your dominion.
You can choose what you think about.
For that reason the wise man urges,
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. — Proverbs 4:23 NCV
Do you want to be happy tomorrow? Then sow seeds of happiness today. (Count blessings. Memorize Bible verses. Pray. Sing hymns. Spend time with encouraging people.) Do you want to guarantee tomorrow’s misery? Then wallow in a mental mud pit of self-pity or guilt or anxiety today. (Assume the worst. Beat yourself up. Rehearse your regrets. Complain to complainers.) Thoughts have consequences.
Healing from anxiety requires healthy thinking. Your challenge is not your challenge. Your challenge is the way you think about your challenge. Your problem is not your problem; it is the way you look at it.
Satan knows this. The devil is always messing with our minds.
He comes as a thief, with the sole intention of stealing and killing and destroying. — John 10:10 (Phillips Bible)
He brings only gloom and doom. By the time he was finished with Job, the man was sick and alone. By the time he had done his work in Judas, the disciple had given up on life. The devil is to hope what termites are to an oak; he’ll chew you up from the inside.
He will lead you to a sunless place and leave you there. He seeks to convince you this world has no window, no possibility of light. Exaggerated, overstated, inflated, irrational thoughts are the devil’s specialty.
No one will ever love me. It’s all over for me. Everyone is against me. I’ll never lose weight, get out of debt, or have friends.
What lugubrious, monstrous lies!
No problem is unsolvable. No life is irredeemable. No one’s fate is sealed. No one is unloved or unlovable.
Your challenge is the way you think about your challenge.
But Satan wants us to think we are. He wants to leave us in a swarm of anxious, negative thoughts.
Satan is the master of deceit. But he is not the master of your mind. You have a power he cannot defeat. You have God on your side.
So fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Philippians 4:8 NLT
The transliteration of the Greek word, here rendered as fix, is logizomai. Do you see the root of an English word in the Greek one? Yes, logic. Paul’s point is simple: anxiety is best faced with clearheaded, logical thinking.
Turns out that our most valuable weapon against anxiety weighs less than three pounds and sits between our ears. Think about what you think about!
Here is how it works. You receive a call from the doctor’s office. The message is simple and unwelcome. “The doctor has reviewed your tests and would like you to come into the office for a consultation.”
As quickly as you can say “uh-oh,” you have a choice: anxiety or trust.
“I’m in trouble. Why does God let bad things happen to me? Am I being punished? I must have done something wrong.”
“These things never turn out right. My family has a history of tragedy. It’s my turn. I probably have cancer, arthritis, jaundice. Am I going blind? My eyes have been blurry lately. Is this a brain tumor?”
“Who will raise the kids? Who will pay the medical bills? I’m going to die broke and lonely. I’m too young for this tragedy! No one can understand me or help me.”
If you aren’t already sick, you will be by the time you go to the doctor’s office.
Anxiety weighs down the human heart. — Proverbs 12:25 NRSV
But there is a better way.
Before you call your mom, spouse, neighbor, or friend, call on God. Invite him to speak to the problem.
Capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. — 2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV
Slap handcuffs on the culprit, and march it before the One who has all authority: Jesus Christ.
Jesus, this anxious, negative thought just wormed its way into my mind. Is it from You?
Jesus, who speaks nothing but the truth, says, “No, get away from here, Satan.” And as the discerning, sober-minded air traffic controller of your mind, you refuse to let the thought have the time of day.
Lay claim to every biblical promise you can remember, and set out to learn a few more. Grip them for the life preservers they are. Give Satan no quarter. Give his lies no welcome.
Fasten the belt of truth around your waist. — Ephesians 6:14 NRSV
Resist the urge to exaggerate, overstate, or amplify. Focus on the facts, nothing more. The fact is, the doctor has called. The fact is, his news will be good or bad. For all you know, he may want you to be a poster child of good health. All you can do is pray and trust.
So you do. You enter the doctor’s office, not heavied by worry, but buoyed by faith.
Which do you prefer?
Christyn Taylor discovered calmness. Recently she and her family went back to Rebecca’s doctors in Minnesota. Seven months earlier Rebecca was barely surviving. Now, one day before her thirteenth birthday, Rebecca was vibrant and full of life. She had gained a remarkable thirty pounds. Her health was improving. She was named the hospital’s “walking miracle.”
Christyn wrote: “I watched these interactions with a silent sense of awe. It is easy to praise God during seasons of wellness. But it was during my greatest distress when I felt the Lord’s presence poured upon me. And it was in those heartbreaking moments I learned to trust this God who provided unimaginable strength during unimaginable pain.”
He will help you as well, my friend. Guard your thoughts and trust your Father.
Excerpted with permission fromAnxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
Psalm 6, written by David, is a clear picture of a man in considerable distress because of a severe illness. Although he refers to his enemies, he’s really crying out for relief from his sickness. He believes that he is suffering because of God’s wrath resulting from sin.
A Cry For Relief
Psalm 6:1-10 NIV Lord , do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord , for I am faint; heal me, Lord , for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord , how long? Turn, Lord , and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
When you feel that your life is falling apart, you’re discouraged, confused and in trouble, when you're helpless and everything seems hopeless, don’t give up. It may not be an illness, it could be the end of a relationship, an eroding marriage, financial distress, a church hurt. It may be the result of your sin, or somebody else’s sin. It may be the result of living in a fallen world. No matter what the struggle, it causes groaning, tears, and grief. When you find yourself in these circumstances pray the words of Psalm 6. God has not left you alone.
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.”
Jeremiah 29:11-12 NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
God cares for us when we are hurting, so cry out to Him and allow Him to give you His peace
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV 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.
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.