Summary of Programs
EXPRESSING AND DEALING WITH ANGER
Most psychologists agree that unresolved anger is at the top of the list of most of our problems in our life. Many marriages are weakened and broken by not discussing angry feelings. Like a normal sex drive, anger is a human passion and should not be denied. Many people are afraid to get angry or even express this God-given emotion. At times we fear our anger will get out of control. When we suppress our anger we become our own victims. We feel if we can’t control our anger it must be wrong. But we must learn to vent our anger in a constructive way, releasing our feelings at the moment of agitation.
We must start with our children, and teach them at an early age how to deal with their feelings of anger. Some parents will not allow their children to express their anger. In school the child is told by his teacher, “I will not tolerate anger!” Even in Sunday school his Bible teacher might say, “Boys and girls we should never get angry—we must love everyone.” By these examples, we are teaching a child to deny part of his human personality. As the child grows he has learned that expressing his anger is wrong and begins to repress his feelings and become frustrated.
We cannot hide our anger. The passion of anger was given to us by God to protect us from people or situations that threaten our safety. Anger is a form of self-protection. Anger can help us to correct an injustice in our lives and our world.
God’s profound wisdom teaches us, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (See Ephesians 4:26) God is teaching us to deal with our anger at the agitation level. We now know that anger has three stages. Agitation is the first stage when we are aware of our anger but don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes we say, “I can handle it!” But we don’t. This stage lasts between 12-24 hours. The second stage of anger is hostility. This stage usually lasts up to two weeks. Someone has wronged us. We want to strike out at them in some way. The feelings may go away then come back again. This stage is the tension building stage where angry feelings are reinforced. Rage is the final stage of anger and the most dangerous. The angry feelings that have been stacked and not dealt with are now expressed through violent behavior. In this stage the thought of taking someone’s life is not uncommon. Mass killings have taken place at this stage of anger.
When we suppress our anger is not unusual for us to wake up one morning and feel depressed and not know why. Not dealing with our angry feelings in our marriage may cause us to fall out of love with our spouse. By stacking our angry feelings, they may cause us to break out in a major outburst over something that’s really not that important. Anger cannot be stuffed away. When we attempt to hide or mask our anger it may surface when we least expect it.
Jesus is a good example for us on how to deal with our anger at the moment of agitation. Jesus did not hide his anger, but expressed it when His Father’s house was violated. Jesus entered the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and those selling doves. (See Matthew 21:12-13) Jesus didn’t go to the apostles and say, “See what these people are doing?” Rather, He dealt with the people who angered Him at the moment.
When we suppress our anger it turns into hate. And hate is the exact opposite of love. Because Jesus was able to express His anger on the agitation level He was able to love everyone. Jesus is teaching us how to have a more understanding and loving relationship with the people we encounter in our lives. When we express our anger in the normal course of action, healing takes place in our lives. We can no longer experience the angry feelings. We have expressed our anger. We have uprooted the angry feelings and they have been removed from our consciousness. If we have expressed our anger to the person we are angry with at the moment, these feelings of anger cannot surface again. Because we have vented our anger at the agitation stage, we are no longer victims of unresolved or unexpressed anger.
DEALING WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL GUILT
Guilt feelings are common to all people. If we say we don’t experience guilt or have any guilt feelings we deny a God-given passion. God has given us the ability to feel guilty so that we can recognize our sin problems and make changes in our lives. Just as we must deal with our anger we must process and deal with our guilt feelings God’s way. Though we live in a liberated culture we are not released from our guilt, unless we take care of the problem of guilt.
In our democratic society and in our spiritual life, we are taught and follow a value system. When these values are violated we experience guilt or should experience guilt. When we deny guilt we justify ourselves and might say, “It’s not wrong. I didn’t do anything or say anything I shouldn’t.” Though we learned positive values growing up, we begin to unteach ourselves concerning our guilt. As God said to the people in the Old Testament, “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.’ (See Jeremiah 6:15) The scriptures remind us and convict us of our guilt. We must learn to “face up” to our guilt, recognizing the feelings and taking them to our Father.
When guilt is disallowed, we fool ourselves and set up possible dangerous circumstances in our lives. All feelings must be dealt with or we find ourselves running away from our realities. We must be honest with ourselves and learn that healing therapy begins when we accept our reality. One of the danger signs of denying guilt is an increasing low self-esteem. We know we should feel guilty about certain things, but cannot recognize the signs of guilt. Again, we have untaught ourselves a real feeling. Our self-concept drops to a new low. At this point we don’t even know who we have become or what we believe in.
Jesus can help us reclaim our identity, when we acknowledge Him. To find our true life we need to know our loving Savior. (See John 1:10) As children of God, our Father desires that we confess our sins to Him. He then forgives us and we are released from the guilt of our sins. With God’s help we must first recognize our sins. (See I Thessalonians 5:21-22, Hebrews 2:1) Once we understand how we sinned we must repent. (See II Corinthians 7:10, Psalm 51:4, Proverbs 28:13) Part of repenting is rebuking our sin. (See Ephesians 6:12, II Corinthians 10:3-6) As part of mental therapy in dealing with our sin of guilt, we replace negative thoughts with the healing words of scripture. (See Colossians 3:2, Philippians 4:8)
On our own we can do nothing to rid ourselves of guilt. All the insights we gain concerning our guilt problems will not help us to eliminate our sense of guilt. The guilt will not go away on its own.
When offering God as a solution to someone else concerning their guilt, we must be certain they are ready to receive this counsel. We must remember that as Christians we are walking in the Light of Christ. But people in the world are still in darkness. Though we are not perfect, God can and does release us from our guilt. God does not want us to be burdened with the load of guilt. When we put off the weight of guilt, we can better run the Christian race. (See Hebrews 12:2-3)
Forgiven and released from our guilt, we can celebrate peace in our lives. (See Philippians 4:6-7) Through our faith in God we learn to trust Him, knowing He can do all things to help us live a better life. Through the power of prayer we can learn how to transfer our intellect and speech to our heavenly Father so that He can touch and heal our damaged emotions. If we don’t believe God can do what He says, we might have a serious faith problem. Perhaps, we feel we are not worthy of His forgiveness and healing. Again, our lack of faith and low self-concept may be due to attempting to handle things on our own. We must believe by faith that God can help us with our guilt, and we must be ready to thank Him and glorify Him at all times.
Sustained guilt feelings can lead to hopelessness and possible depression and the worst possible scenario, suicide. When we are plagued by the same sin problem over and over again we may wonder if there is any forgiveness left for us. But the scriptures teach us to forgive one another unlimited amount of times. So we can be assured that if we are taught in the scriptures to forgive one another, how much more will our heavenly Father forgive us. Thanks be to God that we are under His grace. (See Romans 3:21-24) By keeping our eyes on the cross we will be able to recognize our sin of denying guilt. (See Ephesians 2:1-5) God loves us so much that He allowed His Son Jesus to die for our sins. (See John 3:16) With that kind of love we know our God cares very much for us. If we continue to sin and deny our guilty feelings, we will waste away. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledge my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” –and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (See Psalm 32:3-5)
PUTTING GOD FIRST IN OUR LIVES
As Christians we need to strive for a balanced life. By putting God first in our lives we become in perfect harmony with our Creator. As we draw closer to God, He is able to carry out His divine will for our lives. If we make a conscious decision to put God first, we are less likely to get caught up in the ways of the world. Our focus should always be on God. When we take our eyes off God we get into trouble.
As they re-entered the promised land of Canaan, Joshua reminded the Israelites, “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. (See Joshua 24:14) Joshua also made a promise to serve the Lord himself in spite of the godliness of his own people. Joshua was reminding the Israelites that God protected and fed them when they worshipped Him. In order to make the right choices in life, God must be in the center of our thinking and actions. Though the God of the universe is unseen, we must never lose sight of His awesome power displayed in creation and in His Son Jesus, who saves us.
Studying God’s word will bring us in a right relationship with our Creator. Searching the scriptures daily we will come to know God as He really is. God is our friend and He desires for us to know Him better. Through the power of prayer we can talk to the creator of the universe and know Him personally. God wants us to talk with Him through prayer. By reading His inspired word and praying, God reveals Himself to us. Committing our lives in the study of God should be our focus. As in any process, getting to know God better is an on going commitment. Our relationship with God may be compared to a marriage. In a marriage we begin with courtship, and develop a deeper bond through lifetime commitment.
God desires to be worshipped. Our commitment to worship God allows us to know Him one day at a time. As New Testament Christians, our daily praise of our Creator becomes our sacrifice. As we honor God through praise, God is pleased. By praising God we acknowledge his presence and summit to His will. By remaining in God’s presence, His blessings help us to cope with life’s pressures. Alone, we can do nothing to live a Godly life. As we surrender our will to God, He lifts up our weak minds and bodies and strengthens our walk with Him. He is with us in the valleys as well as our mountaintops. When we get to know God in the valleys, we get to know ourselves through His intervention. Because God created us, He understands our most personal needs.
God is always there for us. But, we must put our full trust in Him in order for Him to rule our life. God is our Rock. He is faithful and never leaves us. As a faithful God, He is committed in the forgiveness of our sins. Turning to God for forgiveness of sins, we are cleansed over and over again with the blood of Christ. God cannot overlook evil. When we sin we separate ourselves from God. A bridge must be built to get back to God. That bridge is Christ! Through faith in Christ, God helps us to deal with our sins and we appear before God once again. Forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ must become a humbling experience for us. Christ did for us, what we could not do for ourselves.
Humbling ourselves and submitting to God’s will we experience an unconditional love. God’s love gives joy beyond our imagination. Living under God’s love we experience His peace as well. (See Philippians 4:4-7) God is always looking to help us and take care of us. When we live a Christ like life, we turn our worries and stress over to God. God wants us to be happy, but more than that He wants us to depend on Him, for He loves us in spite of who we are or what we have done. As a loving God, God takes care of his children. (See Matthew 5:1-12) Putting God first means, fearing Him, obeying His commands and loving Him more than anything else. God is life, and God has given us life through His Son Jesus who died on the cross for our sins. We should not ask God for all things that we may enjoy life; rather we must remember God gave us life that we might enjoy all things.
FAMILIES ARE FOREVER
God’s plan for families is first of all to love and obey Him and to love one another. (See I Corinthians 13:1-13) However, the love of many has grown cold. In spite of God’s command to love one another, the world’s divorce rate is still very high. Wives have orders of protection from their husbands. Children of broken homes are often raised without the nurturing and guidance of both parents. God’s plan for marriage and family has been violated.
God is very clear on how important is his Word and encourages us to remember His commands. (See Deuteronomy 6:6-9) Today however, many people still don’t know God or His teachings. Because of our lack of Godly wisdom many families are in ruin. For example, over time we have come to believe a fractured family is one kind of family. Unbelievers of God’s word have redefined the true definition of family. Many families are in despair, confused, and have lost their way. However, in God’s eyes a marriage between a Christian man and woman is still the highest spiritual state on earth. We strive to understand earthly relationships in God’s plan. It was God’s intention from the beginning for a man and a woman to be married and remain so until death. (See Genesis 1:27, 2:21-24)
In the bond of marriage both the man and woman must submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (See Ephesians 5:21-30) Submission is not a very popular word in our culture. By submitting our will to God we demonstrate our trust and love for our Creator. In order to have a Christ-like marriage, husbands and wives must remain obedient to God’s laws. God has blessed us with the love of His Son Jesus. As partners in marriage, a man and a woman must learn and experience unconditional love. God loves us with an “Agape love”. As God reveals His love to us, we must share and pass on His love to our families.
Now however, with new family pressures and blatant temptations in the world, families are torn and dwell on the ways of this world rather than spiritual insights. In many ways we have separated ourselves from God and isolated our families from the love that was placed in our hearts when we became Christians. This is not what God intended. As part of God’s plan, in time, natural death will separate us. But the love of God will never leave us as long as we remain faithful while on this earth. God is our friend. As a good friend, God will never leave His children unattended.
In order to strengthen our earthly relationships in a family, we must learn to be a friend to each other. Being a friend like God, we must learn and practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is central in the teachings of Jesus. Being human we are going to make mistakes with family members. As we forgive one another and confess our sins to God and to one another, the blood of Christ covers our sins and strengthens our earthly relationships.
Our families should never be taken for granted. Rather, families should grow in love and understanding and be united with one another and Christ. After all, while we live on this planet, families are forever.
FACING OUR FEARS
The Bible teaches us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. (See Psalm 111:10) As God’s creatures in His creation, we have learned to fear His awesome power. But our fear is one of respect for our Creator. The fear we share for our God is not the same as the fear we have for a person, place or thing. Our fear of the Almighty is demonstrated in our attitude towards God. This kind of fear (spiritual fear) is a healthy fear. We might call our fear of God a “positive fear”, as well. There is another type of fear that is not positive.
“Negative fear” as we will call it, debilitates us when we allow it to get out of control. For example, when we are very sick, we fear even the “thought” of dying. Many people fear snakes and spiders and even have nightmares of being attacked. Children and some adults fear being in the dark and alone. Howard Hughes had the fear of catching germs. Though the above fears are natural to humans, they are unhealthy and these types of fears cause us to punish ourselves. When these fears overcome us it should be a sign to us that we lack something internal that could help us to override our natural fears. As Winston Churchill once said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Sometimes our fear of certain people is so great we go out of our way to avoid them completely.
The scriptures instruct us not to fear any man, though we can be harmed. There is one greater to fear! (See Matthew 10:28) Fear nothing but God. God has taken our fears away. His love can cast out our fears if we allow Him to. (See I John 4:18) With God’s help we can overcome our negative fears. By His awesome power, we gain “His power” by becoming children of God. Perhaps, we need to remain optimistic in all situations when we know God rules our lives, even with our worst fear as mentioned above, our fear of dying .If we are not Christians, we should fear death, since we are out of Christ and our future “spiritual life” will not be spent in heaven. This should be a real fear to all of us!
Christ nailed our fear of death to the cross. (See II Corinthians 5:14) As Christians we have been set free from our fears. (See Romans 8:1-2) Through Christ Jesus, we have become conquerors of our greatest fears. (See Romans 8:37) God showed his love for us through the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus. (See I Corinthians 13:13) God is love! The love of our Savior empowers us to look and live in the future. Again, there are many things to fear in this life, but we are not to focus on the present (physical life.) As we look toward heaven we envision our future home, a perfect home.
But, as we live now on this planet, it would be encouraging to us to dwell on God’s power in the present. For we know that God strengthens us to deal with every circumstance that might come our way. And we must believe that strength includes overcoming our fears. (See Philippians 4:13) When we accept that we are under God’s control, He gives us assurance that He is with us, and His protection is certain.
When my father was dying with cancer, I would go to the hospital each night and read the 23rd Psalm to him. My Dad was a Christian but like many of us, he didn’t want to let his life go. Each night I would say to him, “God is waiting for you. Pop, God can give you peace.” Finally, one night through his parched vocal chords (due to excessive radiation) he raised his arms and with a strained voice uttered, “I want peace, I want peace.” He died the next night. Most people, who are not Christians, have heard or read the 23rd Psalm. This psalm is the most quoted scripture from the Old Testament. The psalm’s last verse is perhaps the most powerful, “Surely, goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (See Psalm 23)
When we depend on God’s love and care, our unhealthy fears are removed and we are able to live life up to our full potential. With God at our side no only can we accomplish great things when we give our fears to Him, but we live our lives as He designed, in perfect peace. Without God there is no peace, only fear!
WE HAVE AN ENEMY
Our common enemy in the world is Satan. Satan is a schemer and takes on many forms to disguise himself. We should never underestimate his wicked power and influence, especially when we are in a weak state of mind. Satan’s work is to undermine the work of God in our lives and to deceive us. He roams the earth like a roaring lion to see whom he can devour. (See I Peter 5:8) Since all his work begins in darkness, he can hide himself and then manifest his evil deeds in different ways to fool us.
Satan desires to have our souls with him in his dark domain. The entire world is his. But, he is not satisfied with just the people of the world. Satan wants those souls back that he has lost. He wants Christians to fall back into his hidden traps. Satan will pull us away from God if we allow him to. Since Satan knows all of our weaknesses, we must be on guard at all times and not place ourselves in tempting situations. He is also called the great deceiver. When we give in to our weaknesses and sin, Satan is there to convict us. He throws our failures in our face and pours on tremendous guilt.
The Devil as he is also known is a robber of truth. He will attempt to convince us of a lie, so that we worship him. He will lead us to believe we are unable to do God’s work. He will try to persuade us that we are lost and not forgiven for our sins. The Devil will beat us down day and night to submit to him. If we allow him to, he will try his best to convince us we have no hope and are condemned people and must dwell with him. His goal is to drag us further and further from the loving arms and protection of our God.
Thanks be to God that He prepared a body for His Son Jesus who came down to earth and died for our sins. Jesus defeated the Devil at the cross. Death no longer has a grip on the children of God. For Christians there is hope and the promise of eternal life. As we grow closer to God, He is near us. (See Hebrews 10:22-23) Through our faith in God, His loving power and cleansing keep us pure and safe from the evil ways of Satan. In order to defeat the evil one in our life, we must learn to trust God and obey His word.
God’s word is powerful and is life itself. Our life is one of battle. We are in a spiritual battle everyday. Christ has won the war for us by defeating Satan. Yet, the battle goes on. With the sword of the word we must continue to fight as we arm ourselves with the full armor of God. (See Ephesians 6:11-17) Satan’s battle lines are drawn in the streets as well as in the hearts of men. Satan never gives up. He will attempt over and over again to worm his way back to win us over.
Many times, the Evil one will cloud our thinking as he whispers his diabolical plans in the secret regions of our minds. But, we have a choice. We can listen to Satan’s evil radio waves or stay tuned to God’s frequency. We need to remind ourselves that God’s “Word” is more powerful than Satan’s speech. God’s word not only protects us from the Evil one, but also encourages us to pray in all circumstances.
Prayer is our direct line of communication with our Creator. By living a prayerful life, God sustains us through His awesome strength that moves throughout the universe. Though Satan is a real threat, we must remember he is powerless when we live a Christ-like life and resist his evil deeds. If we live our lives as “Children of God”, Satan is no match for our Holy God. Perhaps, we can compare Satan to a vicious Lion caged up. As long as we obey the sign to keep away from the Lion’s cage there is no danger. The Lion cannot hurt us. However, if we get too close to his cage he may bring his jaws down on our hand and pull us into his den and devour us.
KEYS TO MARITAL INTIMACY
The bond between man and woman in marriage was established in (Genesis 2:23-25) God created man and woman to be together in marriage for life. Yet, for as many people who take their vows before God in marriage, there is almost the same number who divorce their spouse each year. God created man and woman to be attracted to each other physically. However, as we appreciate the beauty in the opposite sex our love for that person should move from attraction to dedication of our hearts, minds and body to each other. An emotional closeness and mutual trust should develop in our relationship as we grow to love one another with agape love. This agape love is the highest form of love, the love that God has for us. Agape love is unconditional.
As the marriage bond is strengthened further, the man and the woman are blessed with children. Now the couple are carrying out God’s command to contribute to His creation through His blessings. Under God’s blessings the couple rejoices and the bond of marriage is strengthened even further. The love that is shared between the husband and wife reflect the love God has for each one of us. A definition of God’s love and the love we should have for each other is commanded in scripture. (I Corinthians 13:1-13)
This level of love will help keep the married couple together as they share the meaning of God’s word with each other. The marriage will remain clean and unbroken as the husband and wife obey what God has taught them. Practicing God’s love in our marriage will hinder any barriers or separations from occurring. Both the man and the woman will remain true to their vows as long as they remain close to their Creator. When we move away from God’s teachings in marriage, there is a danger that either the man or woman will step out of the bond of marriage and commit sin through adultery.
To help keep our marriages strong and committed before God, we must remain in God’s word daily and give Him the glory for our spouses. We must learn that our wife or husband is very special and must be willing to give our lives to them—even to die for them if the Lord wills us to do so! Jesus revealed the depth of His love by dying on the cross for us. This is the type of loves that holds a Christ like marriage together. (John 15:13) if we are willing to die for our spouse, then we should be willing to live for them and love them as God loves each one of us.
Loving one another with the love of Christ means forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven us. The agape love spoken about earlier is the hallmark of New Testament Christianity. Loving each other means forgiving one another when we hurt or sin against our spouse. There are times when we might get angry with one another. The Lord teaches us to deal with our anger before the sun goes down. (Ephesians 4:26 ) We don’t want to give Satan a foothold in our marriage; therefore we must talk with each other and confess our sins to each other.
A strong healthy marriage is one filled with compassion and understanding. A healthy marriage also, is one that is guided by the Holy Scriptures. A holy marriage is one that adheres to holy living. (Colossians 3:1-10) When we live our lives in marriage as God commands us, our marriage will continue to experience blessing upon blessing. Husbands should love their wives, for example, like Christ loves His church. Wives out of love for Christ and their husbands, should submit to their spouse. Scriptural instructions are given to both the husband and wife on how to live their lives in marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-23) God is very clear how He feels about marriage and it is evident from His word how He wants us to feel about our commitment we have made before him on our wedding day. Let’s continue to love our spouses and keep the bond of marriage strong, till death parts us! May God bless your marriage!
HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR HUSBAND
Wives were created to encourage their husbands. Wives need to be helpmates and compliment their husbands. The woman was created for man, not the other way around. Man was created in the image of God. Man was created first. God created the woman out of man. In fact the word woman means “out of man”. A wife is not to be subservient to her husband but submissive. Everyone has to submit to someone in life, on the job, in school, etc.
Though the wife maintains a submissive attitude towards her husband, they are equal. They just have different roles. Women must reflect the love of God, so husbands see Christ in them. Wives help husbands to renew and refresh themselves. They provide friendship and companionship to their mate. In a Christian marriage women listen to their husbands since he is the leader in the family.
Outside of the Christian marriage all the above must sound awful to the women of the world who feel totally liberated from their husbands. But, this is God’s plan for a Christian family. Women in a Christian marriage must learn their role and manifest discernment in that role. A wise woman builds her house upon the Lord. See (Proverbs 14:1).
As the leader of his family, the husband must provide for and protect his wife and family. His responsibility to his wife is an awesome task. The Christian woman is relieved of many of the responsibilities of the family since the man is the head of the house. Christian women appreciate this about their husband’s role. Yet, the man and woman are equal in God’s eyes. The woman is to put God first in her life, then her husband and then the children.
If each person in this relationship does not follow their respective place in God’s plan or follow their proper role, the marriage will become unsatisfactory to both the man and woman. A woman could learn to pray more for her husband as he makes decisions that affect the entire family. A wife should do her best to go the extra mile to look attractive for her husband and not take his presence for granted. A wife could wake up when her husband rises and prepare his favorite breakfast. Sending your husband off with a kiss is a good start of his day. And the greeting at the end of the day should be one of joy and gladness at his return.
A man’s soul needs much encouragement and the woman in her God likeness can provide what is needed. A wife needs to stay in God’s word in order to understand her submissive role. Her needs are met by the Lord’s instruction so that she can carry out her role in the marriage. See (Philippians 4:19). Only when the woman puts her faith and trust in God can she successfully do God’s will in the marriage.
A man should observe his wife studying God’s word; for this is a great encouragement to the man and is a great way to begin the day and to begin conversation. When God is at the center of the marriage, the relationship is stronger. God teaches the woman to admire her husband. Wives need wisdom to provide for their husband’s physical, sexual and special needs of his soul. Because these teachings are sometimes difficult for newlyweds, the younger women should plan to spend time in prayer with the older women. Through role modeling, the younger women can learn the ways of a Christian wife from more mature Christian women. Perhaps, the ultimate test God has presented to married women is in the Old Testament. See (Proverbs 31:10-31).
BECOMING A SPIRITUAL MAN
Before we can become a spiritual man we must have a good concept of being spiritual. Our lives should reflect God’s teachings. See (Galatians 5:22-23). As Christians, we always want to do the right thing. And, our spiritual life must become personal to us in order to grow. Through trust in God our Christianity becomes real to us. Remembering that Jesus died for us helps us to appreciate and enjoy our life with Christ.
God is working on us to perfect us and He will complete His work so that we become more spiritual. God has blessed us with His Spirit of love and in love there is no fear. Fear is only punishment. Focusing on fear will stunt our Christian growth. Rather we need to use fear to project us out and do God’s work. By doing God’s will, we honor God and show that we trust Him.
Becoming a spiritual man also means praying without ceasing. Prayer should be our first resource and not our last resort! Going to God with an honest heart and expressing our weaknesses is what God desires for us so that He can lift us up. Confess, “Lord this is who and what I am.” We need to open ourselves up to God in everyway. God can work through us as long as we maintain an honest heart. We might ask ourselves what is a good prayer life? First, we must have an attitude that drives us closer to God through prayer. Secondly, our prayers and their goals should reflect a desire to be more Christ-like. And lastly, we must feel comfortable talking to God. Talking to God should become natural to us since He is not only our savior but a friend as well.
Sometimes our pride stands in the say of spiritual life and growth. We need to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. Humble Christians are people who are drawn closer to God. As Christians living on earth, we must strive to be a Christ-like example to the people of the world. To become more spiritual is to become more childlike and dependent on God. Our age has nothing to do with our spirituality. Abraham was still a spiritual man in his old age. David was a spiritual person in his childhood. What matters to God is that our light shine and that we always remain faithful to the Lord of our lives. Becoming a spiritual man is God’s plan. And “When God is for us who can be against us?”
THE ULTIMATE JOURNEY
Every person is born into this world and lives till death. For the Christian person however, he lives forever through a “new birth” in Christ. The term “born again” sounds strange to people in the world but not to Christians who understand the meaning of life after death. See (John 3:5-8). In order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be born again through the water and the spirit.
This miraculous change takes place when we confess our sins, repent of our sinful life, confess Jesus as the Son of God and are buried with Christ in full submersion water baptism. In baptism our mortal bodies are cleansed of our sins and God’s Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. Our body now becomes the kingdom of God, prepared for a prepared place in heaven. Now we have risen to new life and begin our ultimate journey as a Christian.
Now, as a spiritual person we begin to undergo changes in our emotional state, psychological state and most important our spiritual self. God is a trinity, consisting of God the father, Jesus His only Son, and the Holy Spirit. In one sense, man is also a trinity, composed of a mind, body and spirit. In order for our multi-level self to experience the miraculous changes discussed above, we must be guided and live our life by the Holy Scriptures, which controls our lives. When we develop a passion for Christian living our Christ likeness helps us to overcome negative feelings like hate, envy, and jealousy. Our redeemed soul now reflects the love of Christ. And we will live with Christ in peace in the heavenly realm.
When we hurt emotionally, we must depend on God’s love to heal our wounds. Through prayer and meditation on God’s word we will get through the difficult times in our lives. When we seek outside counseling, we need to remind ourselves that the very nature of psychology is rooted in the Bible, and that the definition of psychology means the “study of the soul”. The understanding of our intellect and emotions must come from a daily study of God’s word. Through the understanding of self, we are better able to understand other people in our life.
As born again Christians we develop the mindset of Christ. And, though we live in a physical world we live our lives as spiritual beings. The guilt of our sins and the punishment thereof, has been removed, as we grow in Christ daily. As we develop a spiritual focus, there is nothing we cannot do in Christ. See (Philippians 4:13). Trials and temptations will still come our way but with the Lord Jesus guiding our lives, in everything we do, we will not fail. The only thing that could stand in our path would be our own prideful spirit. In that too, God will make us see the error of our ways.
When we demonstrate our ability to live our lives according to God’s word, life becomes a joyful experience, in spite of the trials and temptations we might be going through. In this mortal life, our dependence must be fully on our Creator so that growth can take place as we continue on our ultimate journey. With our faith in God and guided by His Spirit our humanity is continually undergoing a transition from self to becoming a fully spiritual person.
The gift of a spiritual life should be envied by the people of the world. As Christians living in Christ, we need to think and pray for those outside the church. The love we enjoy through Christ needs to be shared with lost souls. Along our ultimate journey there will be many people left behind as we reach our final destination. We need to reach out to others now before it is too late for them. Christ’s love should be reflected in our actions here on earth. As Christians sojourning along our ultimate journey, we become transformed in the newness of our mind and are no longer victims but victors. And through Christ’s power over death, we live a life free of guilt and worry and receive God’s promise of eternal life. In heaven, our ultimate journey takes on a whole new meaning.
WHY WE BELIEVE IN HELL
In our world, and among the world’s people Hell is not a popular subject. Scriptures teach us that Hell is a reality. The Bible teaches us that God is love, but God is also a God of wrath. The subject of Hell is bad news and scares us, and it should! We know that death is a reality and we must be prepared to join God in Heaven. Some people deny Hell and the thought of such a place upsets them, but those of us who lead life outside of Christ are doomed to Hell. Not believing in Hell is to deny the truth of God.
By not believing in Hell, is to take God for granted. God’s love is real, so is His justice. If we don’t repent of our sinful life we will perish. And perish really means living in Hell for eternity. God placed Adam and Eve in paradise and yet they denied God’s commands and disobeyed His warnings. The wrath of God came down on Adam and Eve and punishment became a way of life for them. In Genesis we read about Noah and how he preached to the people for 120 years about God. They did not listen. But God gave them time to repent through His loving patience. Still, they did not listen. Their punishment was catastrophic.
Sodom and Gomorrah is another example in the Old Testament of how the people of those cities disobeyed God’s warning and perished. In the New Testament, Jesus is very vocal and clear about the subject of Hell. See (Matthew 10:28). We are not to fear man, but we are commanded to fear God. When we deny the reality of Hell, in a sense we deny the love of God. Because He loves us, God has placed many roadblocks in our lives so we will avoid going to Hell. Because His love is greater than anything else, He seeks to keep us out of Hell. We have to remind ourselves that Hell was not created for us but for the Devil and his fallen angels.
Hell is the place for people who reject God’s son Jesus! Hell is a place for people who are indifferent to the needs of others. Hell is a place where people go who decided to do their will and not God’s. Perhaps these three examples will help us put Hell into proper perspective. First, Earth is a place where God’s will is debated. Secondly, Hell is a place where God’s will is rejected and thirdly, Heaven is a place where God’s will is done. If we consciously deny God, God’s wrath is being stored up for us and used in the Day of Judgment against us. See (Romans 2:5). God is a fair God and He will only punish those who have rejected Him and caused trouble for us who believe in Him. See (II Thessalonians 1:5-9). God is very clear in His word concerning what will happen to those who reject Him. See (Revelation 20:11-15). God grieves for those who reject Him, because He is a loving God not wanting any to perish. Our sins will condemn us before God. Without the forgiveness of sins through Christ, there is no hope for us: only damnation and destruction of life. See (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Note that anytime Hell is mentioned in the Bible the connotation is always negative. Also note the terms that are used to describe Hell—damnation, destruction, raging fire, etc. Hell is a place of eternal judgment that destroys life and hope. In reality, those who are sent to Hell have no hope in Christ, since they rejected God’s offer of eternal salvation and life. For those who are sent to Hell there is no return. The end has come to those who decided for themselves that their will be done and not God’s. Hell is also described as a place of eternal darkness. God’s light does not shine on those who choose Hell. In Hell, darkness and gloom prevail.
Those who choose to go to Hell hate the light of God and have renounced His glory. See (John 3:16-21). God provides a way for us to escape Hell through His son Jesus. God is clear in His word: what He says, we must do or perish. See (Mark 16:15-16).
THE STING OF GOSSIP
Gossip is a problem for Christians and people of the world. Gossip is often used to actively destroy a person’s character. A person who plans to gossip has developed destructive and hateful feelings towards another. Gossipers will often say—“I’m only telling the truth!” In reality, gossipers many times do not know the truth. Gossipers tend to satisfy themselves with foolish lies. God’s truths are the only truth! And God’s truth says that gossiping is a sin.
Gossip causes major damage to the victim of gossip. Lies are spread behind a person’s back. A person who gossips is a coward at best. When Christians have a problem with gossiping they should seek the word of God. See (James 3:5-12). Instead of tearing people apart behind their backs perhaps, we should focus on the positive virtues in a person’s life. And if we have anything to say to a brother or sister in Christ, we should ask them face-to-face. A sample question might be: “Is what I’m hearing about you true?”
We must learn to love and appreciate one another more. To build rather than tear down a person when they are in trouble. However, there may come a time in our Christian life where we might have to confront a person who we are in doubt of. In a situation like this perhaps we should seek the wisdom of the Bible. Listen to Paul as he writes to the Corinthians—“I always thank God for you because of His grace given to you in Christ Jesus.” Notice that before Paul confronts the Corinthians, he builds them up in Christ and demonstrates the love both he and Christ have for them. See (I Corinthians 1:1-9).
Let’s look at some motivating factors as to why people gossip. Sometimes we have negative thoughts or ideas about a person, due to envy or jealousy and our imaginations just run wild. In other situations we may want to deliberately “hurt” this person because we don’t like them. We can talk ourselves into believing our negative thoughts about a person and use these as an attack by constructing lies that could destroy that person’s reputation. Other examples of why we gossip might be we are just looking for a scapegoat so that we can vent our own unresolved anger and dislike for the other person. In (Proverbs 16:27) we read: “ A scoundrel plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.” Like the wild forest fires we hear about on the news, gossip spreads out of control.
To confirm a truth or a lie when told to us, perhaps we should ask ourselves four questions. One, is there valid evidence behind what is being said? Secondly, we must ask, what is the source? And thirdly, has the speaker, in the past, had any problems with the other person he’s talking about? Lastly, is this person a loving person with only Christ like motives? And to help us further as the communicator, we can learn to test our words before we use them. For example, we can ask ourselves: What I am about to say is it true? Is it kind? And is it necessary?
Most importantly, we must become better listeners. See (James 1:19-21). By listening to each other on an “active level” we will have less problems with misunderstandings and false information. Gossip should not be part of our communication with others. Perhaps, we should remind ourselves that our words must be seasoned with salt--because someday we may have to eat them! Our conversations must be in love in order to be truthful. And all our words must be chosen carefully before we attempt to utter them. See (Colossians 4:6).
PREPARING YOUNG WOMEN FOR MARRIAGE
Marriage should be an exciting time for young couples. A growing marriage is one where a variety of things bring joy to the man and woman. Marriage should never be viewed as a boring institution. But, rather as a loving bond between a man and woman. Experience tells us many young women are not prepared for marriage. Many women and men as well, are focusing on their careers and making money.
In preparing for marriage, a young woman must have training to become a good wife. Modeling a relationship after studying successful marriages will help young women to prepare for marriage. A strong friendship can lead a couple into a stable relationship in marriage. Mothers can set positive examples for their daughters to follow when they seek to marry.
Sex is too open today and many young people are having sex before marriage. Some young people also live together before marriage. But research shows that living with someone before marriage does not mean that the partners will have a good marriage. Sharing a house with a man offers no security and is against God’s will. We must learn to please God in all that we do. A premarital situation can lead to destruction of a friendship. Partners have no commitment to each other and therefore premarital partners are not giving people. Married people work harder staying together because marriage is a gift from God.
When young women marry they make a commitment to God and put Him first and their husbands second. The focus is on the marriage and not careers and money. Entering a marriage, a young woman has special needs, which must be met by her husband. But at the same time she must be prepared to meet her husband’s needs. Her husband must meet her family before marriage and become a part of her family. Older women in the woman’s family should serve as role models for the younger women to follow.
Selecting the right man to marry is something a woman should pray about while dating. Many women choose the wrong man to marry because they are unable to recognize a growing relationship. A good marriage is one that is growing in spite of everyday hardships. A good marriage is one that is sustained with prayer and hard work. Some young people are lazy about relationships. Relationships need cultivating constantly and this takes time, love and patience. Relationship building is hard work! But if God is at the center of the marriage the marriage has a strong foundation.
Young women must realize that marriage is a two way street and both partners need to put 100% into their relationship. Women need to realize that men are not as sensitive as they are. Men are driven by goals and women are led by love and sensitivity. It has been said that women are like butterflies and men are more like buffaloes. Before entering the marriage bond, a young woman should know her man almost as much as she knows herself. In reality, this knowledge of your future husband is just a beginning, since a marriage must be a growing situation. As the married years go by we can expect that the partners in marriage will grow in love and become one.
Companionship is vital in a marriage. Couples must do things together and enjoy each other whatever and wherever life’s road leads.
CHRISTIANS NEED TO LEAD THE WAY IN OVERCOMING HATE
We must learn and understand that God created each one of us to be one with Him and each other. God has given each of us life in Him to be the light of the world. There should be no division between the people God has created. We are all one. See (Isaiah 42:5-6). We are God’s servants and love instruments in the world. And yet, hate exists in the world today, it takes many forms and destroys lives; lives that God created.
People of different races do not understand each other’s differences, which leads to mistrust and fear. We need to seek the will of God in our lives. And, God wants us to love everyone as we love ourselves. To love as God commands means unconditionally. All people, whatever their race are our neighbors. But not only are we to love our neighbors, but our enemies as well. To most of us this might be a hard teaching. But, we must remember that God created all people to live in harmony, through Christ.
We are all related through Adam and Eve, thus we have many cousins all over the world. God is love. And His love is manifest in our hearts and lives. We need to love as God loves. We need to understand and appreciate our differences. We need to humble ourselves like little children and love like little children. The love of God is in the child and a child does not hate but loves. Children hate when people teach them to hate and not love. We are all created in the image of God and God does not hate, but loves.
When the Christian church was established in the book of Acts, God drew people who were very much unlike and brought them together through the common bond of Christ. Just as Christ accepts each one of us, we must accept each other. See (Romans 15:7). When we die to Christ, our conversion gives us a Christ-like mindset that commands us to be one as He is one. We learn to value and appreciate one another as Christ values and appreciates us. We must change our wicked ways and be reconciled to God and people.
Sweet fellowship with others can only be accomplished when we follow God’s teachings on loving one another. See (John 2:7-11). If we hate our brother, we live in darkness. If we love as God loves, we walk in the light of God. God’s word should be our standard for living and loving. Hatred is negative energy. We need to turn our hateful feelings around into positive thoughts and actions towards people who we fear and are not like us. We don’t want to repeat what Jonah did in the Old Testament. He refused to accept people God had already decided to have mercy on. If we follow the ways of the world and continue to hate, we will become very bitter people and stop loving. Christ’s blood was shed on the cross not just for you and me, but also for all the world. Christ died so that we could be free of hate and injustice. As free men, we are no longer slaves to the sin of hate. But, are free men who strive to overcome hate and are slaves to righteousness only. See (Revelation 5:9).
A CHRISTIAN’S VIEW OF DEATH
Out of the three worst fears in western culture death, snakes and public speaking, the fear of death is on the top of the list. Death for Christians and people of the world is inevitable. We must learn to face death and not be afraid. For the Christian, physical death brings hope for a better future. See (Psalms 116:15) For the Christian also, death should be viewed as a positive change from the physical to the spiritual. Death for the Christian should be a wonderful experience. In death, we join our Heavenly Father who we have longed for since creation. See (I Corinthians 2:9).
As Jesus reveals to us in the Gospels- His Father has prepared a place for us and our room is reserved and waiting. Though we know we are going to a better place, still our loved ones left on Earth remain sad at our departure. But for the Christian who leaves this world, his pain and suffering are left behind as well. Now, he has crossed over from death to life. He has fought the food fight and can rest at last in God’s peace. He has run the race and won the crown of life.
Each of us must face our own death when God calls us home. Our time will come and we must be prepared to meet our Creator. Let us not forget that Jesus is waiting for us on the other side of the river. Unlike people of the world, we must not be apprehensive concerning our death. Rather, we must be confident in God’s promises. But, like a child in the womb expecting to be born, we can only wonder what life is going to be when we truly arrive. Our transition to new life in Heaven should provide hope and peace for us now. Remembering the words of the apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” See (Philippians 1:21). Even though we may be hard pressed on every side, God’s promises still stand.
Living in the physical world now, we should develop a zeal for the coming day of our death, knowing we will be with our Lord. Our ultimate journey takes us from physical life to physical death to spiritual life and eternity. As Christians, we already have a residence established for us, as our names are written in Heaven. See (Luke 10:20). In this we can rejoice! Jesus defeated death for us, so that we may have life to the fullest. Christians have been delivered form the fear of death. We must remember also, that this life is only a shadow of the reality. The best is yet to come! Christ died for our sins so that when we die we are able to join Christ through our own resurrection. See (Romans 6:1-10).
God wants us to live eternally. And, God desires that all His children join Him in Heaven. Understanding Hell is a reality: that’s what we should fear. Heaven should be on our minds now as our final destination. Though Heaven should be our focus, many Christians are eager to be with the Lord, but don’t want to die to get there. Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves that we are aliens on this planet, and this Earth is not our home.
Remembering that Jesus is far greater than anything in this world, should give us the motivation to not fear death and welcome its coming. Death has been swallowed up in victory through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians have been redeemed through the blood of Christ. And as Jesus was resurrected, we too will be resurrected to new life. See (I Corinthians 15:12-28).
Since our citizenship is in Heaven, we will enjoy a new body unlike the body we now occupy. Our present body is perishable. In Heaven we will be adorned with an imperishable body. Through our death we have immortality. See God’s promise of our resurrection and life eternal (I Corinthians 15:35-58).
SCIENCE AND THE
(ORIGIN OF THE RACES)
Racial disturbances exist all over the world even though the Bible teaches that all men descended from one man, Noah and his three sons and prior to Noah, Adam. According to the Bible, we are descendants of Adam and Eve, our parents who lived East of Eden. Having been created, we were made in the image of God. Evolutionary thought places us in an evolving form and a descendant of a lower form of animal. In reality, we are not animals at all but human beings who are able to discern our origin through the wisdom of God’s word.
As humans, created by a super natural being, we are commanded to subdue the earth and populate its surface with our kind. However, within the human species we see various skin colors which causes us to wonder about our true origin. The pigment melanin is present in our genes and recorded by God before creation in our DNA. The amount of melanin in our genes determines the color of our skin. For example, an albino person has no melanin and a Caucasian person has some, but a black person has the greatest amount of melanin. Melanin reacts to sunlight. For example a light skin person will sunburn easier than a dark skin person.
Getting back to our discussion on DNA. In simple terms our DNA may be defined as a long chemical chain with enormous amounts of information intact. Our DNA is like a computer program, but unlike a computer program, our DNA is written by God. In creating our DNA, God programmed certain changes to take place at a certain time in our bodies. Every detail was planned out during creation and was manifested in us while we were still in our mother’s womb. Whatever happens in our lives does not happen by chance or accident. For example, at the time before the Tower of Babel, all people on earth had one language and a common speech. As these people moved eastward they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
The sins of these people were great and they believed they would be scattered over the earth. Having one language and common speech, in their pride, they planned to build a city and a tower to reach the heavens. God was angry with these people so He came down to earth to frustrate their plans. God confused the language of the people and scattered them over the face of the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9) Forced to leave Shinar, the people settled in every part of the earth, taking their gene pool with them. Living in different environments and climates, the people began to develop different skin colors and unique languages and speech.
God is the Creator of the origin of man. And Adam being created by God probably had the best set of genes. The human race was created to rule over the earth. And, all people on earth regardless of skin color are equal in God’s eyes.
THE SEARCH FOR PERSONAL PEACE
The one real thing the world desires and does not have is peace. The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Rome, reminds his readers that it is only through our faith in Jesus Christ that we experience real peace. (Romans 5:1) Only when we are obedient to our Lord do we enjoy His peace. In our world sin prevails, therefore there is no peace. Sin separates man from God, and that wonderful peace that transcends all understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) Jesus paid the price of our sins with His death so that through Him we might live and experience His peace.
Where there is sin, there is no peace. When sin is absent from our lives, we experience peace even in the midst of trouble and sufferings. Sin is responsible for the lack of peace in the hearts of people still caught up in the ways of the world. Our culture is filled with drugs, violence and all kinds of immorality from a people who don’t know God. What the world calls social problems are really sin problems of the heart. Sin cannot be masked by fancy terms. Sin is still sin! The results of sin are a mind filled with guilt and a spirit guilty of sin.
In order to achieve peace in our lives we must deal with sin God’s way. Only through the blood of Christ can our sins be taken away. Then, with the cleansing of baptism can we now enjoy the fruits of peace. Our lives have been purchased through Christ’s actions on the cross. We can’t purchase our peace in the world, because the world does not know the real peace we desire. By committing adultery and murder, King David separated himself from God through his sins. David eventually experienced guilt feelings and depression. His sinful condition affected him not only spiritually but physically as well. Through his sinful actions, David robbed himself of the Lord’s gift of peace. However, once David confessed his sins to the Lord, the peace of God returned to him.
God’s peace is a by-product of our faith in Christ Jesus. We have been justified. God’s plan for man was that all mankind accept his peace and that through His peace we would experience His joy! God’s peace is a precious gift which is long lasting. God’s peace comes to us through His forgiveness as we are reconciled to Him and suffer no more from the guilt of our sins. Our relationship to God is one of peace—His peace! Many people today in the secular realm find peace in psychological counseling. While this therapy is a help to some, we must remember this kind of peace is only temporary and depends on the emotional strength of the patient. God’s peace is not psychological, but spiritual and does not depend on a person’s place in life but on the person’s place in Christ. The peace spoken of here can only be found through a right relationship with the Creator of the universe.
As we trust our lives to Christ we experience a subjective peace, unlike the world could ever offer or know. The Bible teaches that in this world we will experience trouble and that Satan will attempt to rob us of our peace. The Bible also teaches that we are not to be anxious about anything or worry for these things are the devil’s schemes to separate us from God and steal our peace. Over the centuries, people from all parts of the world have come to the United States to find peace in a democratic society like ours. But, even the type of peace America offers its citizens cannot protect its people from going to hell! Only the peace that comes from our Creator can guard our hearts, mind, soul and body as we seek a closer relationship with the author of our lives!
THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
What is your purpose in life? Have you ever asked yourself if your purpose in life is aligned with God’s purpose for you? In order to find our true purpose in life we must consult the wisdom of God’s word. When we attempt to seek our own purpose for life without God’s spiritual insights, we face the danger of falling into a “default” direction. Not knowing our true purpose for our lives, we select a path that is the most obvious, seemingly easiest and yet unknown and dangerous.
Reflecting on our life and its direction perhaps we should ask ourselves: Are we truly happy and content? Is our perception of happiness an accurate one? Unfortunately many people today are living their lives according to worldly standards and following a path of least resistance. People traveling down this road find their journey many times leads to a dead end. God desires that we find our way in life with His purpose in mind. God wants us to experience “real joy” in life through His son Jesus Christ. In this life God has provided the necessary things in life both physical and spiritual to help us enjoy our lives and be fulfilled in all that we do.
God wants us to be successful in this life and has blessed us with various gifts and talents to help us support our families and meet their needs. But, at the same time He warns us not to focus on material blessings. If we live for God and His purpose, we will be blessed with eternal life. But, many people in the world have not accepted God’s promises and have been fooled by the world’s strong influence in riches and material things. Jesus warns us in (Luke 12:15) where our focus in life should not be. In the parable of the rich young ruler (Luke 12:13-21) God reveals that anyone who puts his trust in material possessions and is not rich towards God and His teachings will lose his life and all he had accumulated.
The rich ruler focused on himself and his own purpose for living without consulting the wisdom of God. When we place our lives totally in God’s hands, our true purpose in life is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. On God’s path, we can be assured that all things will work out for the good (Romans 8:28). When we become conscious of God’s purpose for our lives, we live life to the fullest and are blessed in many ways. (Matthew 6:33) By seeking and finding the kingdom of God, God’s ways become our ways, His purpose our purpose. As we draw closer to God our true purpose in life is made known to us—to glorify God.
As we learn to trust in God and not in self, the desires of our hearts are given to us, according to God’s will. (Psalm 37:3-6) As King Solomon was blessed with Godly wisdom, so too are we when we accept God’s commandments and His purpose. (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Without God in our lives, everything is meaningless. God knows us better than ourselves, since God made us. Our purpose for life was laid out before creation. (Ephesians 1:4-6) As Christians, we are living examples of God’s grace and love. If we come to God on His terms, our lives become transformed and our purpose for living becomes real.
As we demonstrate our love for God, and worship Him,
we find our love for others as well and feel comfortable reaching out to them.
God has not called us to be good people, but to be holy as He is holy! Serving
our God, means serving His people as well, by putting others first. And if
called, be willing to die for others. When Christ lives in us through His
Spirit, we die to self and live for God. By putting our bodies on the cross
daily, we learn to live a life that our Lord died for. This then is our true
purpose—to live a life worthy of our calling!
RENEWAL THROUGH BIBLE STUDY
Reading and studying God’s word strengthens our faith and enriches our spiritual growth. The Bible is God’s inspired word to man. As we read and meditate on His word, God’s plan for our lives is placed on our hearts and minds. God's word is “empowered” by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is our owner’s manual and teaches us how to follow the pattern God has laid out for us before creation. See (John 12:48-50). Jesus teaches us how we should listen and obey the commands of God leading to eternal life. In the Old Testament book of Joshua we are taught the importance of meditating on God’s word daily. See (Joshua 1:8).
To succeed and be prosperous in our faith, we must delight in God’s commands and focus on their importance for holy living. Like a willow planted by a running stream, we are refreshed and grow to maturity when we study God’s word on a daily basis. The Bible encourages us to listen to its teachings and not follow the rules of man. When we approach God’s word with a humble frame of mind, we are exalted by the power of its wisdom. By living our lives according to God’s will, we live a blessed life.
The Bible is the all time best selling book on the market. Most homes have at least one copy of God’s word. Yet, many times the Bible is left on a shelf to collect dust. Though it is a best seller, sadly it is also the least read book. Today there are many translations of the Bible available. Some are written in conversational style for ease of reading and understanding. In selecting a translation, choose one that is an accurate translation and contains the vocabulary level you comprehend and relate to. Remember also, the physical pages of the Bible are not holy; rather it is the content of God’s word that makes the Bible holy! Before reading the Bible, it is suggested that you spend time in prayer, asking God for wisdom and understanding, as the scriptures are unfolded to you
Throughout the Bible, God reveals the “mystery” of His word through revelation. See example (Ephesians 3:1-6). Though God’s word the Bible, is not a history book; it portrays the history of the world within its inspired writings. The Bible also reveals the future and how the world will end. When reading the Bible for the first time many Bible scholars recommend you begin with the Gospel of Luke. The inspired writer of the Gospel Luke is “Luke the physician”. Luke was a first century doctor and writes from an historical approach., illustrated with many details about people and places. It is suggested you read the Gospel of Luke in its entirety before going on perhaps to the Ephesian letter or the writings of James the Lord’s brother.
As your Bible reading progresses, a complete reading of the Bible should be undertaken from Genesis to Revelation. Perhaps, a yearly reading Bible program would be helpful. The Bible is a living book. The Bible is alive with fresh insights on how to resolve everyday problems in our lives. By the spiritual wisdom of God’s word, we are also judged. See (Hebrews 4:12). In order to be renewed through Bible study, we need to approach God’s word with no preconceived ideas or convictions. Our minds and hearts should be completely open to the “truth” and allow the Bible to interpret us rather than the other way around. As we read the Bible we quickly realize God’s word is countercultural and against our previous thoughts on life.
We need to strive to conform our lives with the teachings of the scriptures. The Bible is everyone’s book, and has something for every reader. Whatever the need, the Bible prescribes scriptural answers to all our problems. For example, if we desire real peace in our lives the Bible reveals how to find the peace that “transcends all understanding”. See (Philippians 4:6-9). There are also commands for husbands, wives, single women, and children that tell us how to live a more prudent and joyful life.
Perhaps the most read scriptures in the Bible are (Psalm 23), read at most funerals to comfort those who are grieving and (I Corinthians 13:1-13) the love chapter, read at many wedding ceremonies today. Learning to live our lives around God’s word will introduce us to the “instrument of life”, Jesus the Christ. God’s word is truth. And, the truth will set us free. See (John 8:31-32). The New Testament is God’s personal love letter to all His people who desire a relationship with His son, Jesus. God’s word has the power through baptism to find us and bestow life to our souls.
OUR STRUGGLE WITH PURITY
When we fear God and obey His commands we are able to live a pure life. See (I Peter 1: 13-16). As Christians, if we stray from God’s word we become spiritually weak and are in danger of falling into the ways of the world. Perhaps, we should remind ourselves everyday, that although we are in the world we are not of it. The world has no firm standards to live by.
The world’s standards are subject to change by the “Prevailing winds” of culture. God’s standards never change! We cannot live a pure life in this world without God’s help. Like military discipline, God’s word (the Bible) gives us directions in the form of commands on how to live our lives in purity. When we live a Godly life our Father bestows His peace on His children. See (Philippians 4:4-9). The world does not know this “peace that transcends all understanding”.
The Bible teaches us that we are aliens on this planet—we don’t belong here. As Christians, since we are very different than the people of the world we must obey the commands of God and not live our lives according to man’s traditions. Because of our unique personhood we are at spiritual war with the ways of the world. As Christians, we must remember our attempt to live a pure life will always be challenged. We constantly need God’s counsel to remain faithful and pure. Jesus lived on this earth for thirty-three years and remained faithful to the teachings of His Father. Jesus is our example for “pure living”. Today, Christians have the Holy Spirit to encourage purity in our lives.
As we strive to live a pure life, we are fully prepared to carry our commission—to spread the Gospel to a lost world. The Bible is our sword to fight and defend God’s commands. If we listen to the counsel of the Spirit, God’s word equips us to live in the world with all it’s corruption and yet remain unstained. The challenge to live a Godly life is set before us every waking hour. We must accept the challenge and survive! Though sin is always crouching at our door, living a pure life on this planet with God’s help is possible. We have been prepared to “fight the good fight ”.
Living a sinful life is the opposite of purity. When we were saved through baptism we were forgiven for all our sins. We were cleansed by the blood of Christ, through immersion and received the promised Holy Spirit. See (Acts 2:38). Walking in the light of Christ gives us strength and hope, as we pass through this dark world and look forward to the eternal light of heaven. Sin separates us from God and creates a “sick condition” in our hearts and minds. Jesus came into this world to heal the “sinfully sick”.
When we are physically sick we call a doctor. When we are “sinfully sick” we need to call upon Jesus the Christ the “great physician”. Only Christ can heal our sinfulness through His awesome grace, which leads us to purity. In Christ we are dirty no more! Though our sins were the color of Christ’s blood, shed on the cross, they are now as white as snow through the grace of God. Only through salvation through Christ is real purity possible. In this life with Christ we strive even harder to live a pure life. With the comfort and encouragement of brothers and sisters in Christ and the power of prayer we are able to live and remain pure.
EXAMINE THE WORD
In thinking about and examining God’s word we strive to understand the mind of God. God is a loving God and we are the most important element in His creation. His commands are written for our personal safety and freedom. God desires that all His children read His word on a daily basis. The word of God is “Truth” for our lives. When we approach the Bible as a student willing to learn, we have an opportunity to glean God’s wisdom. When we learn God’s ways, we have positive direction for our future.
Studying God’s word also teaches us how to live our lives day by day and prepares us to recognize the evils of the world. See (I John 4:1-4) (II Peter 2:1-3). God’s word is important in our lives because it also will judge us at the end of time. See (John 12:48). We must be careful and not attempt to interpret God’s word, but allow God’s word to interpret us through His Spirit. See (II Peter 1:20-21). By allowing the Spirit of God to interpret our lives through the living word our search for truth will always be fruitful.
When we examine the word, we don’t just read it, rather we meditate on its meaning for our lives and live out its commands. Since God’s word is unchangeable, we can never go wrong following it faithfully. We can be certain our walk on Earth is close to God’s when we keep His commands. God’s word is “inspired” and was laid down at creation. The Bible gives us instructions on how to live life and reveals the will of God. See (II Timothy 3: 16-17). Being inspired, the words we read in the Bible are the actual words of God. When we listen and obey the word, we can obtain wisdom that leads to eternal life. However, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.
In order to live a blessed life of freedom in Christ, we must do what the word tells us. See (James 1:22). In approaching the study of God’s word we need to develop a mind and heart of humility. Daily reading of the Bible will encourage understanding and help us to develop a stronger faith. The mysteries of God’s plan for His people are revealed within the pages of His word. See (Ephesians 3:1-6). We need to be in the word daily to understand God’s awesome commands.
Jesus, as the only Son of God, is the central focus of God’s word. Jesus was with God at the beginning. And the teachings of Jesus bring us into creation’s light. See (John 1:1-5). He is the living word. God’s word teaches us many truths through vivid illustrations, commandments to live by and inferences. God attempts to reach us by any means of instruction so that the learning of His word can take place. Like any good mystery, God’s word is written in a style that invites the reader to probe deeper to reach the conclusion. When words in the scriptures are repeated over and over, perhaps God is telling us to look at them more carefully and determine their special meaning. Also, like any good writing the Bible verses each contain a subject and verb. We should strive to understand their relationship to determine the full context of the verse.
The total content of God’s word represents what He has said and is saying to us today. What He has said is truth, whether we believe it’s true or not. As believers, we conform to God’s message and put aside our human beliefs. See (John 17:20). To examine the word means we take a life long journey through the Bible everyday and eventually discover the light of life.
FORGIVENESS LEADS TO A HEALTHY LIFE
We are born into a cursed life and world. We all need God’s mercy and His wonderful grace to forgive our sins. God's forgiveness on His people is the foundation of His awesome grace. God’s grace is our “gift of life”.
In the Old Testament God’s grace was extended to His people through a promise that life on earth would not end again through a flood. God placed a rainbow in the clouds as a sign between man and Himself to seal the covenant. God has also placed His word on our hearts and minds through His Holy Spirit. The spirit is our counselor and reminds us to do right! But, sometimes we don’t listen! God’s forgiveness is necessary in our lives. His forgiveness is unconditional and immediate and extends to all His people who have obeyed the gospel through baptism.
In order to fully understand the power of God’s forgiveness, we must learn to accept this awesome gift and believe the promise ourselves. To accomplish God’s work of forgiveness, we must surrender our lives to Christ and surrender our will as well. Part of the surrender is putting our trust in God that forgiveness has taken place for our sins. By doing so God can remove our feelings of guilt. The Apostle Paul reminds us in (Philippians 3:13)…”But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”… Just as God has forgiven our sins, we need to forgive others when they sin against us. Only when our relationship with God is right, are we able to forgive others. If we are unable to forgive, we focus on the “poison of life” and lose our sense of spiritual wellness!
Perhaps we need to become more Christ like and focus on our love for others by living a more positive life and developing a sense of goodness through our thinking and actions. Paul’s inspired words in (Philippians 4:6-9) will help us to create a Christ like mindset. As Christians we need to love as Christ loved us, and maintain a “spirit of forgiveness.”
Forgiveness leads to a healthy life because God bestows His blessings on those who are forgiven and those who forgive. Spiritual, emotional, and physical healing are some of the benefits of forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that if we don’t forgive others, then our sins will not be forgiven. Without forgiveness we experience a “crushed spirit”. Sin separates us from God and brothers and sisters in Christ. Sin drives us away from God. We need God’s forgiveness in our lives, to bring us back in the arms of our savior. In (Psalms 51:1-15) we read about King David and his pain and suffering because of his sins.
Like David, our sins bring about consequences in our lives. As we read in the writings of David, we might relate to his physical, emotional and spiritual pain he experienced: see (Psalms 38:1-14). David also had the prophet Nathan to remind him of his sins when David did not face up to his sinful life. See (IISamuel 12: 9-14). As we live with consequences of our sins through suffering, we may feel that God has not forgiven us. But, focusing on our feelings is wrong and not justified. Many times our feelings lead us astray. Rather than focusing on our feelings, we must focus on God and his promise of forgiveness.
When we confess our sins to God, He forgives us and remembers our sins no more. In God’s mind our sins are washed away, now our mind set must conform to God’s and trust his promise.
HEALING DEPRESSION THROUGH THE BIBLE
Depression is a serious illness and is a major health problem in our society today. Depression destroys families and daily performance. There are different forms of depression. Depression can be caused by unresolved anger or guilt of past sins. David the Psalmist, a man of God, sinned. He suffered from guilt due to his sins but knew God was his real strength and hope. (Psalms 73:26). Job also experienced loneliness and separation from God and friends. He was made to realize he could not live his life without depending on God.
When we have a belief system that is dysfunctional there is no peace in our lives. Jesus died on the cross for our sins that we might have the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) Through Christ there is hope. We are to live life to the fullest as Christians. When we feel we are not important, God can lift up our spirit. The stress of worry and apprehension so prevalent in our world today is removed through time spent in prayer. Depression allowed to flourish robs us of daily energy. We may find ourselves practicing negative self-talk and making illogical statements about our present and future.
An example from the New Testament might be the crippled man by the pool. Did he have the will to be healed? Could he have lowered himself down into the pool? Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-9). As Christians we must remind ourselves daily, the truth has set us free. In a chronic state of depression our joy is removed and it appears there is no hope. God has given us standards to live by and has great expectations for us.
God has given us instructions on how to live life and remain positive so His will might be accomplished through us (Philippians 4:8-9). When we experience peace in our lives, God’s expectations for us become a reality for daily living. Through the encouragement of church family we receive the comfort needed for this life through fellowship and prayer. Our lives are empowered; we develop an “I can do attitude.” (Philippians 4:19).
With the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, we are lifted spiritually and isolation and loneliness of depression gives way to refreshment. When our joy is complete, our will to live through Christ is magnified. We now have a desire to reach out to others and share our joy. Through Christ, we are now able to get out of self. And through the refreshment of others we are refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
This program teaches that a person receives the Holy Spirit after rising from the waters of baptism. Now a Christian, he is empowered with God’s Spirit and is given the fruit of the Spirit as written in (Galations 5:22). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Having the Holy Spirit living in our mortal bodies, we now experience God’s son, Jesus. As we communicate with other Christians, we will see the Spirit of God in them, as well. With the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, we are spiritual beings and no longer physical beings. We have been transformed. As baptized Christians we are now a child of God with the counsel of the Holy Spirit. We are able to discern the works of the spirit from the works of the flesh.
Because God’s love is unconditional, (agape love) He allowed His son to die on the cross for our sins. Continuing to live the Christian life as taught in the scriptures, we enjoy the free gift of salvation, and the joys of God’s love. Faith in God fills us with hope, knowing well that we will join Jesus in heaven and live eternally with God. For now, however, as Christians, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we have the knowledge that happiness is only fleeting, but the joy of knowing God through His Spirit is eternal.
COPING WITH STRESS
Stress and coping with stress is a universal problem. Stress can be brought on by a negative event in our lives or a happy occasion. For example, we can experience anticipation beyond our control, when we are preparing for a new job or marriage. The place where we live, a large city for example, can induce high stress levels. Congestion, high noise levels, competition, worry and lack of self-control can all bring on increased stress.
We can experience stress in families and other relationships when we take our focus off God. Worrying about our physical or social needs being met can also lead us into a stressful condition. Very important things in our lives cause us to worry about their outcome. At times like this it is important that we realize that we must learn to reach outside ourselves and seek advice from good friends and be in faithful prayer to God.
Emotional upsets can lead to communication breakdown and cause people to become violent, use drugs or alcohol. Stress can also lead (when out of control) to child abuse or even taking our own lives. In addition to emotional problems, stress can also cause physical ailments. In the medical profession it is well documented how stress induces heart attacks and elevates blood pressure, causes digestive problems, headaches and more. When we experience life and take everything personal, (such as comments from others) we may be setting ourselves up for stressful conditions, which can affect both our body and mind.
Perhaps we need to focus on our “spiritual therapy”, Reading God’s word on a daily basis, being in prayer several times a day and meditating on what God has done for us. And praise Him, for his goodness. Listening to Christian hymns can fill our minds with positive thoughts and actions and eliminate our negative mental tapes we play over and over again in our heads. In order to survive in this life we need God’s help and guidance through His spirit. We need both physical and spiritual strength to accomplish His plan for our lives. An example from the Old Testament is Elijah when he was being pursued by Jezebel. God instructed Elijah through an angel of the Lord, to rest and eat before he continued on his journey. (I Kings 19:1-9).
Knowing we are not in control of our lives reduces anxious feelings as we give control of our life to God where it belongs. (See Psalms 51:1-12) Knowing that our sinful ways cause us problems and that stress from these sins brings heartache and strife, we need a place to turn. God is always there for us. Anxious moments should be given over to God for His love and resolution. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). God should be our source of strength to bring us through the valleys and also appreciate the mountaintops when He lifts up our spirits.
Alone, we cannot survive the stress this world introduces. Through His Holy Spirit, God provides us with His prescription for stress in our lives. (Read Galatians 5:22-26). When we live a Christian life, we experience a positive direction, which takes us through the storms of life reducing stressful moments. (See Psalms 46:1-3, Luke 8:22-25). With God in our lives we can face life and its troubles knowing God will see us through anything this world could present to us. Through all, we need to remain positive, not from our own doing, but remain focused on God to lead us. Our thinking should be more like the mind of God. Only then, can we truly be positive in thought and action. (See Philippians 4:4-9).
We can rejoice knowing God is the most important person in our lives. Placing our stress in the hands of the “Living God” can bring about the peace that truly “transcends all understanding.” As we praise Him, for what he has already accomplished in our lives, we are blessed! We now realize God is bigger than our problems. He is the author of life and He determines the course of history and events in our lives. God does not want us to worry. Worrying is a sin. When we worry we are showing God we do not trust Him and are displaying weak faith. (See Matthew 6:25-34).
The apostle Paul suffered much in the hands of nonbelievers but his faith did not waiver. Like Paul we need to remember if God is for us who can be against us? With God’s strength we can withstand the stress of this world, and accomplish great things. (See Philippians 4:13).
A CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO CONFLICT
In relationships conflicts are going to take place. Some conflicts are caused by greed. Jesus gave us an example of greed in (Luke Chapter 12:13-16.) Two brothers were arguing over their share of an inheritance. In (2 Timothy 3:1-4) the apostle Paul reveals conflict in a family setting, where individuals became self-centered and loved the things of the world and despised the things of God.
In this life we are going to have trouble and trouble breeds conflict. “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1) Jesus and His apostles presented a message that was contrary then and now to worldview. The gospel is opposed to the philosophy of this world. Therefore, the message of the cross for those who don’t accept its teachings will bring conflict. (Matthew10:34-36)
A conflict can start from a small problem which allowed to fester can grow into a major situation. Unlike interests in a relationship or self-centeredness can rise to a conflict. Unresolved anger can lead to resentfulness and a “get even attitude.” The Bible teaches: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Resolution of conflicts can help us to grow in a relationship, knowing our bond with the other person is strong and can withstand the storms of life. Conflict can be positive, can bring about change for the better. When we are angry with our brother or sister in Christ, God is displeased with us. However, there is a way to remedy the situation. (See Matthew 5:21-24) Learning to guard our tongue and to think before we speak will help us to avoid conflict. Our speech needs to be seasoned with salt. We must learn to love and display a gentle attitude in our conversations with others. (Proverbs 15:1) We need to learn how to diffuse a volatile situation before it starts. To learn how to resolve a conflict with a brother or sister in Christ see (Matthew 18:15-17).
Remember, it takes two for a conflict to begin and two to resolve the conflict. Each person in a conflict must take personal responsibility for his or her actions and strive to develop a humble attitude of reconciliation. Conflict that is unresolved can put undue strain on a relationship causing eventual separation. Many times we believe there is a conflict with another because our needs were not met by the other person. Our perceptions may be wrong if we base our observations purely on feelings. (See Proverbs 3:30) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
The Bible teaches us to love our enemies and not to take revenge. Love is a tool we can use to win over our enemies. Agape love is the highest form of love: it is unconditional. God has this kind of love for us. Jesus displayed this level of love to Judas Iscariot when he washed his feet along with the other eleven apostles. Jesus taught us to love our enemies through agape love. (See Matthew 5:43-44) The resolution of conflict can reduce the tension that so quickly rises in a heated argument. Step back, take time out, ask questions, paraphrase your understanding of a situation and most important develop better listening habits. Listen to trustworthy people. Don’t be a: “know it all”. (See Proverbs 26:12) Learn to give mercy and forgive, release the other person of guilt and wrongdoing. When we take the initiative and forgive, we are asking for a response from the other person and a positive response from another will bring about the needed resolution to the conflict. (See Ephesians 4:32)
BAPTISM THE ESSENTIAL DECISION
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation circulating concerning baptism. Baptism is the essential decision a person must make in order to be a “saved” person. It is our prayer that this program and these writings based on the Holy Scriptures, will convince our viewers/readers the true importance of this act of faith known as baptism.
Baptism is not an option but rather it is a command from God (Acts2:38). Through etymology, (the study and development of a word) we can study the word baptism and its original definition as defined in the Greek language. In the Greek language, the word baptizo, a verb, is a word of action meaning to immerse, or to surround or cover. As an act of obedience to the Gospel we make our decision to be baptized. The baptism consists of immersing a person in a pool of water. However, the importance of the rite of baptism is that we are washed with the blood of Christ when we are “washed” with the water by the word and Jesus is the Word!
Through baptism our whole body is washed as we are submerged or put under the water. As we leave the depths of the water, our sins remain of the bottom of the pool. Jesus paid the price of our sins through His blood shed on the cross. Baptism and the salvation that comes through Christ, is a free gift that we receive only by making a conscious decision and commitment to follow Christ. Once baptized, we receive the promised counselor, God’s Holy Spirit.
As Jesus died on the cross for our sins, once baptized, we die to our sin through death, burial and resurrection to new life through Christ. (Romans 6:1-14) We are born again. (See John 3:1-6) Baptism is necessary because sin destroys or separates us from a relationship with God’s son, Jesus. Once sin invaded God’s creation in Genesis chapter three, a savior was needed to forgive sins from those who call upon the Name of the Lord. God became flesh in the form of Jesus, the man of God and became a living sacrifice for the sins of the world. Only by the grace of God are we saved. Baptism is a symbol of our obedience through faith; knowing God by His love will fulfill His promises of forgiveness and eternal life with Him in heaven. Through baptism, we are bonded with Christ and become one in mind and Spirit. Our old life is passed; our new life with Christ begins. (Ephesians 2:1-5) As true followers of Christ, we are now called Christians.
MORALITY AND GOD
Morality and God focuses on people’s thoughts and feelings today, about God, and how we live our lives in modern times. Various polls were taken over the last few years to determine people’s understanding of good and evil, present moral climate, guilt, sin and moral standards in America today. These polls showed most people believe there is a God but these same people don’t believe in the standards God has laid down for us. When we have a faith in something existing, we must live by the standard set forth by the origin of that faith. The two cannot be separated. Our standard of behavior reflects our faith and the trust we have in that faith.
We might conclude from the surveys that God and His standards are misunderstood by our culture. It appears from the moral climate of America today most people do not believe in a unified standard. The standard set forth by God reflects His love for His people. Throughout history God has displayed His love for us. He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. God desperately wants a loving relationship with each one of His children. God’s morality grows out of His awesome love for us, and God’ commands are standards for all His creation to believe in and follow.
However, it is common today to hear people say they cannot follow God’s plan because they don’t want to give up anything good. But God is not asking us to give up something that is good. He is asking us to give up the things He knows that are bad for us. And God created everything and only He knows what is best for His creation. God knows our past, present, and even our future. He and only He can reveal to us (if we allow) the things that can hurt and destroy us. God can tell us how the story ends. God’s standards grow out of His love for His creation.
Like ancient Rome, which defied the standards of God, America is in danger of falling into the same false sense of self and all-knowing mindset through blatant sinful behavior. God created man in His own image, so when we violate God’s laws we sin and break our bond with our creator. Violation of God’s commands lead to hostility, violence and death. Today in America, we see so much hate and violent behavior even in our children. Immoral behavior also breeds selfishness and greed and discord between people.
God’s son Jesus wants us to take up our cross and follow Him. Following God’s direction we will have the knowledge to make the right decisions as we get out of self, and turn our lives over to the one who created us. We have to deny self. When we live for self, we deny God and His love for us. Living for self, we begin to justify our behavior as right and just. Perhaps, then, we are guilty or creating our own sense of morality. America has always prided itself on being an individualistic society and doing things “our way”. Living for ourselves we forget others and only live for today. Perhaps, we need to focus on our moral behavior today, and be mindful of and think about others who will follow us on this earth and carry on God’s creation. A guide for living a moral life and how to treat others can be found in (Matthew: Chapters 5,6, and 7.)
Since the fall of man in the garden, mankind has disobeyed God’s laws and God has revealed in His word how He has dealt with ancient peoples who chose to worship the creation rather than the creator. Does the same fate await us today? (See Romans Chapter 1:18-32). We cannot deny God since He made us and He is part of us and we are
Part of Him. God’s fingerprints are all around us in His creation: the smile in a child’s eye, the beauty of the four seasons, and the gifts and talents we possess. When we forget God and His standards, we become gods in our own eyes. We measure our actions and deeds by the standards we create and “if it feels good do it”. There are no absolutes and truth is what we define it as. We measure ourselves by ourselves. Therefore we cannot do any wrong. Our thinking and actions become our “truths” and our standard of morality. Somewhere along the way we lost the real truth. God! Our truths are based on lies we have come to believe. God cannot lie. His truths are eternal. If we continue to follow our own ways we will become victims of our own destiny. In the Bible, sin is always compared to living in darkness. God is a loving God but it hurts Him when we disobey His commandments. God hates sin. (See Habakkuk 1:13). As a culture that prides itself on individualism perhaps we can ask ourselves, “Are we doomed to fail because we don’t recognize the standards God set before us?”
BECOMING A SPIRITUAL WIFE AND MOTHER
Becoming a spiritual wife and mother is a personal story featuring Rene Casto, married to Tim Casto and mother of two children. Rene and Tim Casto worked as house parents for Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead, Long Island for several years. Rene admits that life is a learning experience and many times she has had to stretch herself to meet the needs of her husband Tim, their two children and the ten teen boys in their care. She admits that sometimes it is hard to keep her focus on her real priorities.
However, through her personal Bible Study, worship with believers and her prayer time with the Lord, she gets back on track. Rene shares how important it is to realize our true focus in life, to love the Lord first. She knows as a Christian wife she must work constantly to cultivate a relationship with her husband and together meet the needs of their two children. She explains the importance of quality time spent with her family and discusses how difficult at times life can be with all our daily responsibilities.
Some of the boys she and Tim take care of have never witnessed a working marriage. At one point, when the boys were discussing among themselves how to “keep their woman in line’, they asked Rene “Has Tim ever hit you?” Rene replied, ”No.” Then they asked Tim the same question, whose reply was the same as Rene’s. The boys did not believe either Tim or Rene, at first. Weeks later after closely observing Tim and Rene’s relationship, one of the boys replied: “Now I know why Tim has never hit you. It’s because he loves you!’’
During her early years, after studying the Bible with a friend, Rene gave her life to Christ. As a Christian, she not only serves her husband and children but her Lord who always comes first in her life. She has learned much about becoming a spiritual wife and mother by observing older women who lived spiritual lives. She has read many books besides the Bible on spirituality but admits most of her spiritual influence comes from watching and listening to women that were special to her. Rene adds “Following Christ commits me to my marriage and my children.” She realizes that pain and suffering are something she must deal with in this world. But she also realizes her life is filled with joy knowing Jesus on a personal level.
Rene understands her real enemy is Satan and that being idle is her downfall. Like many of us Rene sometimes gets into self and can easily fall behind in her Christian walk. To help her stay focused on God and her responsibilities as a spiritual wife and mother, she goes back to the Bible and to the book and verses shown her by one of the spiritual women in her life. Rene reads (Proverbs 31:10-31) and finds that she is reminded by God how she should live her life as a spiritual wife and mother. Rene feels she must remind herself what she should be doing and God’s word is her help.
When Rene first came to New York prior to her work as a House parent, she believed she wanted to be an actress. She had formal training in acting, but God had different plans for Rene. She admits today: “I love what I’m doing now. I wouldn’t change it for the world!” Through her work with the boys she has learned the importance of refreshing others. (See Proverbs 11:25) Rene knows the way she lives her life will affect how Tim and their children respond to Christian examples she displays. Rene gains her strength knowing God directs her life and that she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her. (See Philippians 4:13)
She knows there is a time for everything and she reminds us to become better listeners. Rene practices better listening by looking in the eyes of her own children and giving them time and attention. She realizes her children have souls and she wants to be a Christ-like example to them as well as her husband, Tim. Lastly, Rene reminds us “This world is not our home. Our hope is in heaven.”
COUNSELING PEOPLE WITH SEXUAL SIN
The subject of sexual sins is a very important concern for the Christian. Sexual sins are very sensitive areas and difficult to talk about. For the Christian, sexual sin is a sin against God’s Holy temple, our bodies. Christians who struggle with this type of sin feel a strong sense of guilt and a feeling of helplessness at times. Some Christians have confessed in counseling, that their faith was shaken and they wanted to give up on God. Many people, when young, were taught that sex is bad and dirty and violates God’s sacred commands. But in the proper context as in marriage between a man and a woman sex is beautiful and bonds the two in flesh.
A man or woman, who has been abused sexually as a child, might withdraw from sexual contact or become very promiscuous as an adult. Teens growing up in a dysfunctional home where separation and divorce have taken place may develop very poor sexual habits and find it difficult to develop a monogamous relationship later on in life. Children who are victims of incest might become frigid and unable to be sexually active in marriage. Victims of incest must realize they are not to blame and must release their guilt in order to be a survivor of incest.
Today “sexual freedom” is a very popular buzzword among teens and young adults. Society has placed undue pressure on young people in believing sex before marriage is all right. God says it is sin and calls sex before marriage fornication. Many worldly people are experiencing a sense of guilt as they enter into the marriage bond having been with “lovers” before their husband or wife to be. As Christians, it is not up to us to judge the fornicators, but listen to them in love and encourage them to repent of their sins. The person involved in fornication must realize his or her wrongdoing and experience Godly sorrow. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Whether the sexual sin is adultery, fornication, prostitution, homosexuality or other unnatural relationships, we must learn to accept the sinful person, love them, and at the same time reject their lifestyle. When a person realizes their sin, the guilt of that sin will weigh heavy on them and this is not a time for us to judge. A worldly person who is a victim of judgment could become so overwhelmed with guilt that they may attempt suicide. Christians who are struggling with sexual sins and feel helpless should contact a Christian counselor and seek Biblical answers to this growing problem. Note: See sample Bible references relating to this program.
DEVIANT OR NORMAL
Many people are asking what’s happening in our society today? Things that were unacceptable are now very acceptable. Christians believe since Christ ascended to heaven that we are in the “last days”. And, the Bible predicts Godlessness will be in the world.
Some of the things we witness in the world today were predicted thousands of years ago. The following might sound very familiar: lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (II Timothy 3:1-4) Our standards of what is moral have drastically been altered by a tainted society. When standards change, people change.
When we extract God from our life we begin thinking only what is right and true in our own eyes. Hearts are turned cold towards God and our thinking becomes futile. (Romans 1:21) Our imaginations become discolored and out of focus with the ways of God. Our picture of life becomes distorted and corrupt. We can’t depend on the schools or government to uphold our values. Godly values must be upheld and taught in the homes. Our sense of right and wrong must be adjusted to fit into God’s plan, not ours.
God’s values are not depicted in the media. Violence and graphic sex are just two of the offerings of contemporary media. Where do we draw the line? When does the cold water (when heated) get too hot at a point where we need to jump out of the bath of filth? Many people have asked since 9-11 “Where was God?” As Billy Graham’s daughter stated recently, “To be sure God was saddened by the events of that day. He didn’t make it happen. We did! We have taken Him out of our homes, schools and government. We asked Him to leave and like the gentleman He is, He obliged.”
In Senator Moynihan’s book he discusses the concept of a “critical mass”. When a certain behavior reaches the masses at the 26% level it is accepted and becomes the norm. For example, the illegitimate birth rate in this country has now soared above 29%. Hollywood stars having children out of wedlock send a negative message to our young teen girls that it’s OK to get pregnant and not be married. Now this pervasive conduct is an epidemic in our society.
Even the home has been a victim of negative social change. We now have alternative homes and nontraditional families. The divorce rate has produced many single parent households, but are they really still homes? God’s plan for the family laid down for us in Genesis was to consist of a man and a woman united in flesh and becoming one. (Genesis 2:24) To raise a child today has become more challenging as we attempt to rear and discipline our children in many cases with only one parent. It takes a family to bring a child up in the admonition of the Lord. Single parenting is a most difficult task to do right in the eyes of the Lord.
The Bible teaches us to be sober minded and self-controlled in all matters of life. Our sex drive is a normal passion given to us by God to be practiced in the bonds of marriage. We have a responsibility as God’s people to demonstrate self-control in all areas of our lives. (Titus 2:11-12) As people of God we need to recognize evil in the world and in our lives and not think of evil as something good or something to follow. (Isaiah 5:20)
In the world’s philosophy, we have what is called “situation ethics” or do what “you” think is right. Can we really determine right from wrong with this type of thinking? A sociopath has no sense of right and wrong—he just promotes and lives a deviant lifestyle. Many “sins” committed today by people in our contemporary culture would have put those people in mental institutions years ago. For example, the “James Bond” syndrome of having sex with a different woman each day is something to aspire to in today’s society. This type of behavior is really sexual deviance, out of control and is abnormal by any standard. What messages are our children getting? How is the youth of this generation going to survive in a world so perverse with sin and corruption? What are they to think? How are they to behave? Where are they to go for guidance if it is absent in the home and family? If God has been removed from the home and family—what’s left?
The local church must work at being there for these wanderers—our children. But shouldn’t raising our children be our responsibility first? Doesn’t God charge us parents to be more responsible in our parenting skills? A child learns more from the home than anywhere else. And the formative years are an opportunity for the parents to raise their children God’s way! We need to demonstrate love and a caring attitude towards our children and spend time with them saying and doing the right things.
Many children are not receiving this type of nurturing today and are self-destructing through drugs, sex and suicide. Many college age people do not want to get married because a high percentage of them come from a divorced household and don’t want to repeat what they have witnessed in their homes. Some of these young adults are afraid to grow up and face the responsibilities of this world because it all seems too much to grasp! As parents are we to blame for our children’s attitudes towards life? Maybe in some ways we are. Is it too late for us or our children to change the wrongs in our lives? As Christians we must never stop believing in God and His power to change any situation—that is, when we allow Him to be a part of our lives.
HELPING LOVED ONES WHO ARE FACING DEATH
I Thessalonians 3:13 encourages us as Christians to depend on God to strengthen us when our time comes to die and join God in heaven. Death is a fact of life, one we need to face as a reality. When a friend or family member dies we need to be there to lift up and encourage those left behind. Hebrews 9:27 reveals that we are to die a physical death. As humans on this planet, we all have to face our own death as well as losing our loved ones.
However, when a person is terminally ill there is still hope when we have faith in God that He can alter a situation if it is in His will to do so. As Christians our bodies must die. But, our spirit lives on in eternity. Like a seed must die first before the plant can grow—we must die in order to experience a spiritual life.
Christians can help loved ones prepare to die by being there and praying a prayer of comfort. Sometimes just listening to the person share their intimate feelings is helpful. We become a sounding board for the ill person. This might be a good time to express your feelings of love for this person and tell them they will be missed greatly. Don’t say to them I know how you feel- because you don’t! Perhaps, you can tell them that even God’s only Son had to die and how that grieved God to see His Son suffer so on the cross.
For the Christian person facing death however, hope should never fail. Encourage the person to dwell on the positive side of death—that through death they will live on! Family members dealing with the death of loved ones must focus on the spiritual side of life. This isa time to draw closer to our Lord. Many people however experience anger towards God at first, then after a period of time they accept the reality of death and understand what must take place in our bodies here on earth.
People of great faith experience death as well as people with no faith system. We all must suffer, so as to recognize the fruits of suffering and the fruits of life as we live it now. God has revealed to us how His Son suffered for our sins—so we can prepare to suffer before our own death. As life is a part of living, “suffering” is a part of death. Some people suffer greatly before their death comes. Others suffer only a little then join God. Our time of suffering is not in our own hands. God determines our time of death and how we should die. The key to a full life while we have it is to draw closer to God, increase our faith and pray without ceasing. After all, our life and death are in God’s hands not ours!
PUTTING GOD FIRST
By seeking the kingdom of God first, busy Christian women will have Christ-like direction and wisdom to take care of the needs of their families. Knowing that God is looking after their families a wife and mother feels safe and secure. (Matthew 6:33) Titus 2:3-5 gives clear instructions to older and younger women with children. Women should take care of their families, be self-controlled and remain pure. Wives are commanded to love their husbands, but must learn to like them as well. By seeking a Christ-like relationship with your husband, you will develop the common ground needed to establish a Christian marriage. Wives should take time out of their busy schedule and spend time with their husbands doing things they both enjoy.
A Christian wife should always be approachable for her husband and children. A wholesome wife can make a house a home. A Christian home is one where children are trained in discipline and love of the Lord. At times Christian mothers are charged with circumstances far above their physical or emotional reach. Knowing God is always with us is reassuring and strengthens our faith. Sometimes, God works through other people to help a mother meet the needs of her family. Christian wives and mothers should praise God every day and thank Him for always being there for our families.
Wives and mothers can help establish a spiritual atmosphere in the home by playing or singing Christian hymns and encouraging their husbands and children to listen to and watch Christian based programs. Spiritual women are those who strive to live a life of Christ and believe in the power of God. By demonstrating their faith in our Lord women develop a deeper relationship with God and have the knowledge that He will always look after their families. By having and sharing their faith, women show their great love for God and He is there for them. (Romans 8:28)
Christian women also know that God commands them to put their husbands and children first. Also, knowing that a Christian wife and mother lives to serve and refresh her loved ones by putting her family first she is demonstrating her love for God and is blessed for her efforts. The love shown by a woman towards her family is like a gentle breeze which passes in and around her home and those she loves.
Seeking God first also means being in constant prayer. When the woman of the house prays she sets an example for her children to follow. By praying with those around her, her children are encouraged and witness the faith she demonstrates. A Christian mother encourages her family to worship God and seek His guidance and protection. Through prayer, a Christian woman is drawn closer to God and is enriched by His loving instructions. (See Proverbs 31:10-31)
WORKING OUT SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem levels vary from person to person. But, people who feel good about themselves are people who have a high self-esteem from their Lord. The love of parents and friends also helps us to achieve a higher level of self-esteem.
A person with a good self-esteem enjoys life more and is better prepared to cope with life’s problems. These people have a positive outlook on life and love the good things life offers. Knowing that God loves us increases our self worth and encourages us to go on. When we search God’s word we realize God loves us unconditionally and we must demonstrate this level of love to others. Knowing that God loves us we must first love ourselves, before we can reach out to others in love.
A good self-esteem helps us to know that God is always with us, by showing He cares for us. His care and love increase our self-worth and bring about peace in our lives. The peace that passes all understanding helps us to feel good about our lives and its direction. (Philippians 4:6-7) When we push away from God and family that peace is threatened and we experience ups and downs in our self-esteem. In order to maintain a consistent self-esteem we must obey God’s commands and live a life worthy of our calling. (Colossians 1:10)
As Christians with a Christ-like self-esteem, we must remember that people of the world are hurting spiritually and need our sense of esteem to be shown to them as an example of a balanced secure life. Our high self-esteem needs to be shared with the people of the world so that they can see what Christ has done for us and can do for them as well. As God refreshes our spirit we need to refresh others. (Proverbs 11:25)
In order to maintain our level of self-esteem as Christians, we need to refresh ourselves daily with God’s word and associate with other Christians who, like us, are Christ –centered. Our self-esteem comes from the promise that God has made to us—that we will see and experience greater things with Him in heaven. We have hope knowing we will live forever in eternity. Knowing we have been accepted by God and loved by Him gives us assurance and positive direction. The happiness we now experience in our earthly life can in no way compare to the joy waiting for us. This joy raises our self-esteem to new heights, heights that cannot be reached by secular means.
Our self-esteem as Christians, allows us to reach out to others because of who we are and whose we are. When we belong to a Christian family and worship God, as He deserves, we experience a sense of power. The power we feel is not one of arrogance but one of confidence and security, knowing the God of the universe loves even us. This love, and only God’s love is the real source of our self-esteem.
COUNSELING DRUG USERS
Many questions come to mind when we think about the possibility of a loved one using drugs. How can I tell if my son is using cocaine? What are the signs of someone leaning towards alcoholism? And, there are many other drugs and even more questions.
Are we put in the position where we are making excuses for these people? Are we missing money from family funds? Is the person staying out all night? Do they have a difficult time remembering where they spent the night? The above signs could represent a person who is addicted to some form of drug use. Addiction of any kind is a serious type of illness. When does the addicted person seek help; when they hit bottom? Experience shows that dysfunctional families have a higher level of tolerance to addiction. Many time for members of these families the addiction is full blown and recovery becomes extremely difficult.
For many people in addiction, their life revolves around their addiction. For them it appears there is no way out, and no other life style. When there is an addicted drug user in the home everyone suffers. Children of parents who are drug users do badly in school. They have problems socializing and making relationships long-lasting. Many children in this situation are put into special education classes and find it difficult to relate to mainstream children. The effects upon the family are monumental.
Treatment must be introduced and become an effective healing device for individuals and their families. Jesus as the great physician can help to introduce the healing process. The victim of drug use must realize there is help for them whatever the situation. The church fellowship is a good source of encouragement to people who need to talk. By praying with a person caught in the trap of drugs, we can strengthen their faith and through Christ offer hope.
The road to recovery is long and hard for most addicted people. Love, time and patience are needed to lift up the addicted person. Many times drug users are suffering from depression as well and feel they are in the lowest pits of life. Their self-esteem is destroyed and they feel there is no way out for them. People in these situations need to know that God is there for them and want to help them heal! As Jesus said so well—“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
THE RULER OF LIFE
Isaiah 9:6-7 speaks of the coming of Jesus. Jesus will rule in our time and in His time forever. The spiritual government of His reign will never end. And through Jesus, peace will increase. His kingdom will rule with justice and righteousness. There should be no doubt in our minds that Jesus as the Son of God meets the requirements of the “Ruler of Life”.
The peace that is promised by Jesus is one we cannot experience in the world unless we are Christians. As Prince of Peace, Jesus’ peace is from within, everlasting, and goes beyond all human understanding. (See Philippians 4:7) In Isaiah, Jesus is also called Wonderful Counselor. In the New Testament, the Spirit of Truth (counselor) is promised to believers. Our counselor, the Holy Spirit, dwells in our hearts and is the third person of the Trinity, God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The Counselor is our spiritual teacher and source of encouragement. The Holy Spirit talks to us through the word of God. His instructions for living are on our hearts. When we learn to listen to Him, He teaches us to obey and live a Godly life. (See John 14:16-17) The teachings of Jesus are passed on to us through the Gospels and the Holy Spirit as God’s witness, counsels us to remember. The Holy Spirit is called upon to testify about the “truths” that Jesus presented when He walked on earth. (See John 15:26) It was the will of God to give up His Son on the cross. After His resurrection, Jesus talked to His disciples and encouraged them with words of spiritual strength.
He spoke of His departure. He told His disciples it was time for Him to leave. At the same time, He lifted their human spirits and explained that unless He leaves, the Counselor will not come to them. (See John 16:7) As a member of the Godhead, the Counselor is given to us to rule in our lives. The Counselor is the invisible expression of God and is always near us as we carry “God’s Spirit” in our spiritual bodies. Jesus (the Word) dwelt among the people during His days on earth. (See John 1:14) The Counselor is given to those who accept Christ through baptism.
The Counselor as God and Jesus His Son has always been and always will be with us for God as ruler of life is the “Great I Am”. God created all things from nothing. He is outside the dimension of time. Yet God rules in the destiny of man. As Lord, He is the supreme ruler of the universe He created. Under His government, you and I are not civil servants but spiritual servants. As Master of our lives, God loved us even when we were still sinners. (See Romans 5:8) As our High Priest, Jesus paid the debt for our sins. (See Hebrews 7:26-28) God humbled Himself and made Himself a servant. Though He is a king He appeared on earth in human likeness. As a man, Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. (See Philippians 2:5-11)
Jesus was obedient. During His three and a half years of ministry on earth, Jesus taught the people the ways of His Father. God gave Jesus all authority. Jesus is ruler of the church. He is the head and we as His disciples make up parts of the body. (See Colossians 1:18) We are reminded that this earth is not our home. As we center our focus on God as ruler of life, our future is made more certain and perfect. We are empowered by the Spirit of God to look to our ruler and live a Christ-like life.
LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD
In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded by God not to eat the blood of any creature. The life of every creature is in the blood. The blood of sacrificed animals poured out on the altars was to make atonement for the Israelites life. (See Leviticus 17:10-14) The hundreds of thousands of animals sacrificed in Old Testament time could not remove or forgive sins.
The cleansing of blood through animal sacrifice under the old covenant was only an outward cleansing. The sins of the heart were not taken away or forgiven. Only the perfect sacrifice of Jesus can take away and forgive our sins. The blood of Christ cleanses our minds and hearts of sin as we are covered by the blood of the lamb. (See Hebrews 9:11-15) The blood of Christ seals the new covenant and offers freedom from sin. (See Mark 14:24)
As we accept the blood of Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, we must also accept His cup of suffering. Jesus paid the ultimate price by dying on the cross. The blood of Jesus was shed on the cross to pay the debt for our sins. There’s power in the blood! In ancient times, most of the pagan world understood the spiritual power of blood. But only Christians understand that the blood of Christ has redemptive cleansing power. The blood of Christ not only saves us but also blesses us with eternal life. Just as our human blood cleanses our mortal bodies, the spiritual blood of Christ cleanses our spiritual bodies and removes our sinful nature.
In order to be forgiven for our sins, when we do sin, we must confess to God the sins we commit. Only God can purify us from all unrighteousness. By living a Godly life, we continue to walk with God in His awesome light. (See I John 1:10) when God looks down on us, He sees our bodies covered with the blood of His Son. Our contact with the blood of Christ takes place in our water baptism. Baptism is an action to receive God’s forgiveness, as we accept His gift of life through His Son’s blood
REJOICE IN THE LORD
When we are in the Lord, we have reason to be joyful. Our joy is complete in the Lord. Money in the bank and worldly things can produce happiness, but material things and worth cannot give us the joy of a Christian life. We can have all the riches in the world and still not be joyful. The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote the Philippian letter. His response to his imprisonment—“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
As Christians we become children of God. We have a personal relationship with God’s son Jesus. Now, we are forgiven for our sins and enjoy the promise of eternal life. That’s joy! You and I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. (See Ephesians 1:3-8) We now have a future in Christ and Christ-like direction in our lives. When we are called home, we have the best retirement system waiting for us. Wow! What could be better?
But why wait? Christians should be joyful living the Christian life here on earth. Rejoice now! If we can’t rejoice here, how will we know how to rejoice in heaven? (See John 10:10) To enjoy our lives now we must be poor in spirit. That is, you and I must realize we are in need of a spiritual attitude and heart. Knowing we depend on God humbles us as we realize we can’t go it alone. We must also mourn at times. Situations get us down. We sin. We repent and are sorry for our sins. We weep. Our mourning lasts for a while, then in the morning we rejoice. (See Psalm 30:5)
The Lord is good. For even in our times of grief, we still have hope. The promise stands. (See I Thessalonians 4:13-14) We know where we are going when time for us is no more. Until that day the Lord desires us to be meek but not weak. To be meek is having strength that’s under control. When our thoughts and actions are directed by the Lord we can be sure our path will be lit along the way.
Rejoicing in the Lord also means that we hunger for righteousness. Because we fall short of the mark, we must hunger and thirst for something better. A right relationship
with God is what we should pray and aim for. Desiring God’s will in our lives is one of the keys for real joy. And also, remember to be merciful in our walk with Christ. Part of God’s will for us is to be more forgiving. In order to receive mercy we must give mercy. God blesses us with mercy so that none of His children will perish. Some Christians have a difficult time forgiving. God commands us to make peace with others whenever possible.
Peacemakers are God’s people who understand His peace that goes beyond understanding. To be a true peacemaker, we must practice inner peace. God’s inner peace transforms us as He uses us as His instruments of light. Sometimes our inner peace is threatened. When we experience persecution can we still rejoice? Yes, because God blesses us even in times of persecution. When Stephen was being stoned God blessed him with strength to pray and forgive those who were trying to kill him. (See Acts 7:54-60)
The Bible teaches that our faith is going to be tested. (See James 1:4) Our faith must remain strong. Faith of real strength is a reality only when our faith is in Christ. So we learn from our Lord our joy can still be complete even in times of trouble. It is said that Christianity is an unnatural religion because suffering is part of the Christian life. The world hates suffering. The world does not understand the ways of a Christian and why we must share in the sufferings of Jesus. But, even in the face of suffering we can rejoice because we know how the story ends. God called us. We answered the call. If we love Him, His purpose for us is only good. Rejoice in that! (See Romans 8:28)
WOMEN AND THE POWER OF PRAYER
Our word pray comes from a similar word in several ancient languages and means to ask, to entreat. Pray: to ask for or ask urgently. Other words that are similar to pray: beg, appeal, beseech, implore, plead, and supplicate. When we pray, we make requests of God, addressing Him with reverence and with adoration, and not overlooking the need to give thanks for his goodness toward us.
Beginning with Enos (Enosh), men began to call upon the Lord. (See Genesis 4:26) When we talk to God in prayer, God reminds us that whatever we ask for, providing we believe, we shall receive. God answers prayers. His answers may be Yes, No or Wait. But God will answer and we must accept His answer to our prayers. Sample prayers by women in the Old Testament include Hannah’s prayer for a son. (See I Samuel 1:9-18) and Rachel’s prayer for a son through her servant Bilhah. (See Genesis 30:3-6)
A New Testament example of prayer of praise is “Mary’s Song” (See Luke 1:46-55) Prayer is communication with the Creator of the universe. We have a direct connection to God through prayer. God’s desire is for us to call out to Him in prayer. (See Jeremiah 33:3) Because prayer is an open line to God, prayer is not limited to space or time. We can pray silently when in a crowd of people. We can shout out our prayers or pray through our thoughts. We can pray to God under any circumstances. The Apostle Paul, while in prison, began to pray and great things began to happen. (See Acts 16:25-33)
God’s voice is comforting. God is pained when we do not talk to Him in prayer. Prayer is a privilege, a gift from God to help meet our spiritual needs. In times of envy, bitterness and strife, our prayers are hindered however. Our relationship with God and our fellow man must be a right relationship for our prayers to be answered. For example, husbands must be considerate of their wives and treat them with respect so that their prayer life is not hindered. (See I Peter 3:7)
Jesus was and is a man of prayer. Many times in the four Gospels we read that Jesus arose early in the morning and prayed to His Father. Jesus retreated to a quiet place to be alone. Peace comes through prayer. Prayer is good “spiritual” medicine for a mind experiencing stress brought on by anxious moments. (See Philippians 4:6-7) Remaining in a covenant relationship with God will help us sustain a healthy prayer life. (See John 15:7)
Some practical lessons learned through prayer are trust and learning to wait. Learning to be patient. Not to worry. Not to fear the evil schemes of man. Refrain from anger. We are encouraged to hope in the Lord. (See Psalm 37:7-9) We are instructed to pray when we are in trouble, sick, or when we sin. And, we are encouraged to pray for one another so that we may be spiritually healed. Lastly, remembering that the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective. (See James 5:13-18 for other examples of faithful and answered prayers.)
The following is a true story of a faithful Christian woman, Fern Hill, who lost her son, Timothy, in an accident when he was only twelve years old. Being a very spiritual woman she continued to be faithful to God even in her grief. Having a very strong prayer life she spoke to God about her pain and God instructed her in His ways and gave her much encouragement. All through this time and years later she learned many lessons through the avenue of prayer.
She learned that children are a precious gift from God and are presented to God even before their death. In her grief, Fern also learned that her son was only loaned to her for a period of time. She realized, her son must be given back to God. And because her son was a Christian and called by God, she would not pray to call him back. She remembered when Timothy was alive she would pray that he would be close to God as he grew and that God would use her son in great ways.
After her son’s death, the Lord moved Fern to write a book about Timothy’s faithful life and his dream to start a ranch for homeless children. In time the book, “Graduation to Glory” sold thousands of copies and money was put aside to fulfill Timothy’s dream. With the help and prayers of so many people the ranch became a reality. Today, the ranch is home to at least twenty boys and is still growing. Indeed, Fern Hill prayed and God heard her prayers. In life and in death Timothy was a treasure to God and God used Timothy in great ways even after his death to fulfill His will in the life of Fern Hill and her son Timothy.
IS ABORTION EVER RIGHT?
Abortion is a very controversial subject for most people in the world. For the Christian however, abortion is a religious and moral issue. 1.5 million abortions a year mean that 1.5 million unborn babies lose their right to life. When a woman has an abortion some of her moral fiber erodes and in some way other aspects of her life are affected in a negative way as well. Killing an unborn child is wrong and it undermines the sanctity of life.
Not only is abortion wrong but is is evil and against the teachings of God’s word, the Bible. Abortion is a sin! People in the world, as well as Christians must be able to distinguish good from evil and not call evil good since evil in the world represents sin and good symbolizes light. (See Isaiah 5:20) Let’s not forget that God destroyed the whole world with the flood. Violent acts by men and indifference to human life were the cause of God’s anger. Remembering we are created in God’s image should encourage us to live a Godly life. As creations of God, we are very special, out of all He created.
Since we are endowed with life by our creator, we must honor Him and respect the lives He creates for us. Each person of God has value. The unborn child in a mother’s womb has value. As God’s creation, we are His property. We belong to Him. The unborn child is a person and desires a spiritual relationship with his Holy Father. The unborn child must have the right and opportunity to live, think, reason and have fellowship through life in Christ. When the unborn child is aborted all his rights and opportunities are taken away.
Life is a precious gift from God. No person has the right to take away God’s gift of life. God bestowed life on each one of us even before creation. (See Psalm 139:13-16) Since God created us, He foreknew our life’s journey He had planned for us. By aborting the unborn child, we are interfering with God’s plan for that child’s life. God knows all He created and has given life and purpose. (See Jeremiah 1:5)
In His Godly wisdom, God gave each one of us unique personalities. Time on earth is needed to develop our personalities through the normal growth process. When a child is born, he or she is presented with the opportunity to become their full self through Christ. John the Baptist’s zealous personality is demonstrated in the Gospel of Luke when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth (and John in his mother’s womb) “leaps for joy.” (See Luke 1:39-40) We must remind ourselves, that each child is special and must have the opportunity to live and develop the unique gifts God has blessed them with.
Yes, abortion is a sin like any other sin. Sin is sin! Many women who have had an abortion experience guilt and suffer from depression, sleeplessness and ghost like visits from the aborted child. For the woman who commits the sin of abortion—there is hope. Since our God is a merciful God all sins including abortion can be forgiven. The negative feelings experienced after having an abortion can lead to worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow, if the woman’s heart is repentant, will lead to Godly sorrow. Godly sorrow will offer the woman an opportunity to come to Christ on His terms. If she repents of her sin of abortion and accepts Christ through baptism, her sins will be washed away and forgiven by the blood and grace of our Savior. Then in Christ, the woman will enjoy the love, peace, joy and hope of eternal life with other believers in heaven.
God loves all people. God wants everyone to be saved and enjoy eternal life in heaven. His desire is that no one perish! (See II Peter 3:9) God’s salvation applies to all people no matter what sin they have committed. We are all in need of God’s salvation, since we all have sinned. (See Romans 3:23)
In the New Testament parable a man’s younger son runs away with his inheritance and lives a wild life. In time he realizes he has sinned against his father and God. Returning to his home, with a repentant heart, his father welcomes him with open arms. The man’s father forgives his son and their relationship is strengthened. (See Luke 15:11-24) Sin is a violation of God’s law. And no one is good except God alone. No one is righteous. We have all violated God’s plan and are in need of His love and forgiveness. (See Romans 3:10-12)
Every person struggles with some kind of sin. (See Psalm 143:2) We are all guilty of sin in our lives. (See Ecclesiastes 7:20) Because everyone is a sinner, God has provided salvation. Salvation is a universal need. (See Romans 8:1-2) God offers all sinners equal opportunity to come to Him through His grace. Sin separates us from God. You and I need to be in a right relationship with God. (See Isaiah 59:2) God has gone to extremes for us by sacrificing His own Son on the cross for our sins. (See John 3:16-18) Jesus had to die for us because we cannot save ourselves. Through His Son, God offers the gift of life to all who accept him. All people are children of God when we accept Christ through faith as our savior. (See Galatians 3:26-27)
God wants all His people to regret their sins and repent. This is not a request from God: it’s a command. (See Acts 17:30) Christ died on the cross so that man could be saved from his sins. This positive message of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection brings new life and is offered to all nations of people. (See Luke 24:46-47) In order to receive the gift of salvation and enjoy the counsel of the Holy Spirit, we must die to sin in our watery grave. We must be baptized. God loves the world but hates all sin. In baptism our sins are washed away through the blood of Christ shed on the cross. Baptism is a decision we make. Baptism is an action by faith.
Now, (as new babes in Christ) each one begins to walk with God. We are commanded to love as God loves. That means we love all sinners. As we study God’s word, His Spirit teaches us that homosexuality like other ungodly behavior is a sin. But the sins of the homosexual are not worse than our sins. Remember sin is sin! Often Christians are guilty of condemning homosexuals as being worse sinners than themselves. Judging and condemning others for their sins, takes the focus off of our own sinful life. This is wrong thinking and ungodly behavior. As Christians, we must pray for the homosexuals and teach them the way of God.
All wicked behavior is sin. No one who is unsaved and continues to live an ungodly life will go to heaven. (See I Corinthians 6:9-11) Our bodies are not meant for sexual immorality. We are commanded to honor our bodies as the temple of God. (See I Corinthians 6:12-20) Homosexuality, among other sins against the body, is sinful. Homosexuality is unacceptable in God’s eyes. All sin is a transgression of God’s laws. (See I John 3:4) Any sin against the body outside of the marriage bond (between a man and woman) is wrong and sinful. Homosexuality is not tolerated by God. His word is clear when it comes to homosexual behavior. (See Leviticus 18:22) We are to worship God with our bodies and praise Him as the God of creation. By not following the ways of God, God will give us over to our shameful lusts, and we will have to suffer the consequences. (See Romans 1:26-28)
God is just. Through Christ, God offers opportunity to rid us of sinful behavior. No matter what our sin, there is hope for the sinner. Homosexuals have a choice. They can go on living a life of sin or come to God on His terms. For the homosexual, as with any sin, change is not easily won. A homosexual must have a desire to change and the will to carry out his convictions. No one is alone in his or her sin. The homosexual cannot bring about change in his behavior on his own. Christians as Christ’s disciples must display not only their love for homosexuals but also their willingness to encourage and teach them the word of God. The homosexual must feel that he is loved and no worse sinner then we are. Remembering that Christ died for the ungodly, that means you and me as well as the man caught in the sin of homosexuality.
THE BONDAGE OF BUSYNESS
Some people must be busy all the time. Being busy makes people feel important. Busy people must have a full agenda. In our time of busyness, Satan takes away our focus and can steal our lives. Satan keeps us busy, and removes the essential things in our lives to the rear of our thinking and actions. Time was created for us by our Creator to measure our experiences on earth. Time and busyness must not become our master. In life, there is a time for everything. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
We live in a fast paced world. We must realize that the wheel we are on is in constant motion. It’s time for us to get off! Busyness robs us of our badly needed quiet time. Each person needs time to relax, dream dreams and pray about our future. Busyness and lack of patience can drive us away from God by putting time between Him and us. We must learn to wait on God since He created time and is outside the realm of time. (See Acts 7:39-43) By not having trust in God we put our own salvation on the line.
When we are able to master time, we can see things more clearly and develop a proper perspective on our life’s journey. We realize our present, have a sense of our past, and can look forward to a positive future in Christ. The building of our life in Christ takes time, His time. But God is with us to encourage balance in our lives. With balance in our lives, we can adjust to different situations and feel secure with our actions. With God, we should not feel anxious. He is in control! In a word- let go, let God! (See Matthew 6:25-34)
Instead of keeping busy doing things, we should focus on building family and interpersonal relationships. Take time to care for people. Learning to separate the important things from the essential will help us to regain our focus. Jesus should be our model, as one who put spiritual and emotional needs of people high on His list. Worldly things like the love of money can drag us away from our Christ-like focus. (See Proverbs 23:4-5) By putting our faith in anything else but God, we demonstrate our lack of trust in Him.
A life kept busy doing worldly things is a life without rest. A Christian leading a spiritual life is busy doing the work of God and his time is managed by God. He experiences rest through the intervention of his Creator even while he goes about his work. With a Christ-like direction in our lives, we don’t waste time; rather we use time as a tool to do God’s work. When our energy is expended in a positive way we are able to accomplish great things. In order to live a life of worth, we need to depend on God to build upon our very existence. (See Psalm 127:1-2)
Rest comes to those to have balance in their lives and sleep in peace. Our rest and sleep should be sweet! God blesses those who love Him and follow His commands with sweet sleep. Seek God and His kingdom and He will not only give us rest but a future as well. Seeking the Lord of the universe will enable us to see the big picture more clearly. Our time will not be robbed by outside influences like TV, computers and cell phones when our focus remains in focus with God’s.
In reading the New Testament, we find (what might be called) religious people refusing to help a man in distress. It takes time to help people. Like the priest and the Levite who were too busy to help the man, are we too guilty of that sin, when we see a motorist stranded alongside the road? Or are we more like the Good Samaritan? (See Luke 10:30-35)
Busyness robs us of our joy. We get so busy doing things that we forget why we are on this planet. God put us here for a purpose. When we are involved in the great commission we experience a God given joy. We take out time to pray. We meditate on God’s word. And we enjoy a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding. God does not want us to be anxious about anything. And, He reminds us too that worrying is a sin. If we are so caught up in the ways of this busy world and forget God, we cannot experience all of the virtues God has to offer. Our attitude as Christians should be of rejoicing while we focus on God’s teaching. (See Philippians 4:4-9)
The following is a list of practical things we could learn to do to help eliminate some of the busyness in our life.
. Organize each day’s tasks by importance.
. Scratch off things accomplished that day.
. Be satisfied with your performance each day.
. Learn to live on less and be content.
. Take time out for recreation.
. Enjoy the free things in life.
. Remind yourself you cannot solve all problems.
. Learn to trust other people and delegate work to them.
. Learn to become more humble.
. Always seek the kingdom of God.
. Do not worry about things you cannot change.
. Remind yourself God is in control.
(See Matthew 6:28-34)
Acknowledging God’s control in our lives gives God the opportunity to regulate our lifestyle and not burden us with more that we can handle.
RAISING CHRISTIAN TEENS IN A SECULAR WORLD
In a Christian marriage both moms and dads need to focus on the importance of family. To raise teens today in our unsettled world takes the combined effort of both parents. Moms and dads need to live a balanced Christian life. Balance means not to be obsessed with any particular aspect of life. Being able to spend the time needed for our children, be active in our church life, and hold down a job at the same time takes Christ-like balance.
Our families must come first. If we are unable to strengthen families, how can we expect to be effective as Christians in the world or in our churches? Dinnertime should be an important time for families, especially when the children are still young. Turn off the TV, radio, telephones and computers. Pray before each meal. Discuss positive things around the table to make eating an enjoyable experience.
Become a real person to your children. Let them know you make mistakes too. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong and display a humble attitude before your children. Sometimes, parents have an ego problem thinking they’re always right. Saying you’re sorry to your children can go a long way in building realistic relationships. If we display a Christian attitude towards life, our children will see the difference between us and the world around them. God is a perfect parent to His son. As earthly parents, we must strive to be better parents than what we see in the world. We are not perfect, so we need God’s help in raising our children.
Christian parents must be fully committed to God and consistent in their Christ-like behavior. We must show our children that we must first please and seek our Lord. By being grounded in the Bible, our children will realize that our lives are molded by the teachings of God’s word. In order to find common ground with our children from a Christian perspective, we must instruct our children in the ways of God.
Sharing special moments with our children is important as well. Get involved in their interests and know what they’re capable of achieving. Deal with each teen at their level of maturity. Build up their confidence by telling them you love them. Demonstrate respect in your home and your children will respect you as a parent. Becoming a friend to your children will help build trust and stronger bonds. When children trust you as a parent, they will share their lives with you.
Christian parents should speak to their children in the way they would like their children to speak to them. Learn to listen to your teen. Many times teens will not verbalize their feelings. As parents, we need to monitor our children’s nonverbal communication. Christian girls should be taught by their parent’s rules and guidelines for dating. For example, girls raised in a Christian environment must learn before they date that they must make friends with a boy and get to know him. When a solid friendship is built, then they may begin to date. By establishing a friendship first, teens will be less likely to hurt each other in the relationship.
As Christian parents, God has placed a tremendous responsibility on our shoulders. But we are not alone. By observing and living a Godly life, Christian parents can be successful in raising teens in this world if we constantly seek God’s wisdom in prayer and follow God’s word ourselves.
KEEPING OUR CHILDREN FAITHFUL
In keeping our children faithful, the Christian parent must reflect a Christ-like attitude. As parents, we must demonstrate to our children our lives are focused on God and we depend on Him for life’s instructions and teachings. Being a Christian parent is an active ministry. We pray that our children’s interest is in a Christ-like life.
Each Christian family is a congregation held together by the teachings of the Bible. Through God’s word, the spiritual and emotional needs of each member of that family are met when faithfulness is at the center of our lives. Every parent experiences torment and depression when a child drifts away from God. Parents are frustrated and upset and can’t help wondering what or who went wrong. There are many challenges for the Christian parent. Perhaps, the most important, are the teachings of Christ. Our children are students of life and we are their teachers. We must learn how to train up a child God’s way, so that someday the student will become a Christ-like teacher to his own children. (See Luke 6:40)
The challenge of parenting is further complicated by outside influences of the world. Children are distracted by media influences and peer pressure. Children’s values must be shaped in the formative years by loving parents. By parents setting clear and concrete examples, children will be able to compare the impact of secular teachings and the teachings of Christian parents guided by the word of God. Our children must see and hear Christ in our lives.
Christian parents must remind themselves daily, that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Our children must witness our Christ-like lifestyle in order to model it. Our children should be excited about Christianity and desire to hold on to the “Spirit of God”! We must show our children that our Christian faith is one of love, joy, peace and salvation. Our trust in God must be evident to our children in order for them to follow our lead. Christian parents must be truthful and become real people in the eyes of their children. Let our children know that we make mistakes too. Children must witness the grace and mercy of God demonstrated in not-so-perfect parents.
Christian parents must maintain a degree of control in the lives of their children. Control, however, is never to be forceful or abusive. For example, we should never have to force our children to go to church. A child’s heart must be shaped by love and discipline. A parent who does not discipline a child demonstrates a lack of love for that child. Any control in a child’s life must be guided by love and that should become the child’s motivation. Love helps to balance the child’s perspective on life when love is reflected in a Godly way in the parents. (See I Corinthians 13:1-13)
Parents must be aware of the growth and maturity of each child. For example, one child in a family may be ready to date and another may not understand the problems of interpersonal relationships. Children of all ages must learn to trust the Christ-like judgment of their parents. In order for parents to enjoy respect from their children, rules of family life must be obeyed. And, at the same time parents should not frustrate their children, instead they must bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. (See Ephesians 6:1-4)
Parents should be involved in as many aspects of their child’s life as possible. Children must learn that parents not only love them but are interested in their activities as well. When children are neglected, they will have a tendency to look to the outside world and be influenced by its teachings. Our children should become the center of our lives. Parents should think of their children as precious gifts from the Creator of life. Our children must feel a part of our lives and ministry. Children are living souls, souls we want to meet again in heaven. We must love and guide our children through Christ so that they reach their goal and receive the crown of life.
SEEING THE FACE OF GOD
There are many ways to see and sense the presence of God. As Christians we should have a strong desire to be in the company of our Holy Righteous God. The ultimate closeness begins between God and His children when we go down into the water in baptism and contact the blood and forgiveness of Christ. The stronger our relationship with God, the closer we become in His holiness. Drawing near to God strengthens our faith. As we move closer in his righteousness, our need to be in an intimate relationship with our Creator satisfies our innate desires.
As our faith in God grows, so does our confidence in the author of our faith. (See Hebrews 13:5-6, 12:2-3) Remaining near our Lord, we feel His presence and witness the wonders of His protection. Together, we stand in the garden of His tender love. In the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed a very special relationship with God in the Garden of Eden. He blessed them as partners in creation. (See Genesis 1:27-28) Before they sinned, Adam and Eve were safe and secure living in the caring hands of God. As long as they obeyed their Maker, God’s peace was upon them. Then one day God had to come down to Earth to see what His children had done. The man and woman “heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day”… Sin caused Adam and his wife to feel ashamed. They hid among the trees in the garden. (See Genesis 3:8-16). The meeting that took place that day between God and Adam and Eve was one of rebuke. Peace in the garden was replaced by strife.
To help to fulfill our need today to see God, the scriptures encourage us to be in the word. As you and I read the Bible we meet God in His word. As we continue to grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers us to be more like Christ. Now we can feel and see God working in our lives. The joy we share being in close relationship with God radiates through our bodies. Others can see God in our actions and words. We too can see God in the faces of those who have obeyed the Gospel. God’s light is seen in all God’s children…a sparkle in the eye…a word of kindness…an act of forgiveness…spreading God’s message.
God always needs messengers. Because God needed a messenger for His people Israel, He chose Moses. God allowed Moses to see and converse with Him. Moses saw God’s image as God walked past. Moses did not see God’s face, only His back. But Moses was blessed as he shared an intimate moment with God. Jacob encountered God during a wrestling match. Jacob refused to let “the man of God” go until He blessed him. Jacob’s struggle was real. He came in contact with God on a physical level. Jacob received the promised blessing. There are many more examples in both testaments where people from all walks of life either spoke with God or saw a representation of His glory. But no one had seen the actual face of God until God decided to manifest Himself in the physical form through His son Jesus.
In the New Testament many lives were transformed when they heard or saw Jesus face to face. And Jesus said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (See John 14:19) When we obey God in reverent fear, God encircles us with His spiritual wisdom. Perhaps, to see God as we really desire, you and I must humble ourselves to receive God’s presence fully in our lives. Then and only then can we see God through the innocence of a child.
DEPRESSION CAUSES AND EFFECTS
As a Christian psychologist, Dr. Claudius Davis believes that the Christian message is one of hope for the person suffering with depression. The “Good News” is that Jesus wants each of us to “have life to the full”. When Jesus died on the cross, one of the seven things He said was, “It is finished.” When we accept the message of the cross, sin and death no longer rule over us. For Christians, life has real meaning. If our life is filled with Christ, when tragedies strike, we will be able to cope and heal.
However, if we become unfaithful and pursue our worldly desires, sin will trap us. Depression is sure to follow. In the Old Testament, King David loved God, but his sin of lust got in the way of his walk with God. He was tempted by the beauty of a woman, committed adultery and murdered her husband. His guilt eventually convicted him. His sinful acts caused him to become deeply depressed. David prayed to God—“my guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to share.” (See Psalm 38) David’s transgressions weighted him down. His hope and joy diminished. King David fell into a chronic state of depression. Another example from the Old Testament is Job. When God allowed Satan to test Job, Job’s children and worldly possessions were taken away from him. Job’s wife even deserted him and told him, “Curse God and die.” Job, like David, fell into the pit of depression. Job believed God had left him. Hope for Job at that time seemed lost.
Perhaps each one of us has said, “I feel depressed today.” Clinical depression however, does not last only a day or two. Clinical depression is a serious and debilitating disease. People who suffer from clinical depression need some sort of intervention. They need professional help. Depression of this kind can be caused by a serious illness like cancer, heart, liver and kidney disease, to name a few. If the victim of clinical depression is not resilient, he or she will have a more difficult time “leveling out” or developing coping skills. When a Christian suffers with this type of depression, they must reinforce their prayer life even when they don’t feel like praying. We should always remind ourselves that our God never leaves us. We can put our hope in God’s healing power to take us through the down times in our lives.
Another cause of clinical depression could derive from a divorce. Loss of a job can also be a factor for this disease. When self-worth is gone and replaced with a sense of hopelessness, depression often follows. In times like these many people turn to drugs and alcohol for answers. But substance abuse is no cure at all as it is a product of depressive behavior. Some early symptoms of depression are reflected in the patient’s communication with themselves and others. They complain that nothing good ever happens to them. Many victims of depression experience a lack of energy, motivation and drive. A feeling of “deadness” fills their bodies. Feelings of failure dominate their thinking. Focus becomes a real problem with people who suffer from depression. Victims of depression feel like outcasts, unable to interact with people around them. Some patients will sleep through the day, avoiding people and situations. Loss of sleep is also common in some cases. Some depressive people completely withdraw from society. Others experience a decline in patience and a raised hostility level due to frustration surrounding their illness.
Family members also become part of the depressive person’s piece. Depression affect not only the patient but loved ones who try their best to encourage victims of depression. Without any help, the depressed person may reach their lowest point and think about suicide as a way out. The suicide rate is very high in America in teens and young adults who are from dysfunctional families. Depression and suicide that follows know no age barrier. In some circles, depression is viewed as fashionable. Depression on different levels is very common in our society. While older adults discuss their feelings, many children try to hide their feelings and depression ensues. Reinvented therapies such as Art and Music have been used in private and clinical settings with a good success rate among mildly depressed people. As Christians we know from the Old Testament that when King Saul got depressed David would play his harp and the music refreshed Saul’s mood.
Concerning our loved ones, we must become very perceptive of the feelings and mood changes of the people we care about. Focus on other people. Let’s encourage those around us to accept Jesus as their Savior. A strong faith can help us to deal with struggles in life that otherwise might lead to depressive thoughts and actions. Knowing and accepting God as the ruler of our life takes the burden off our shoulders. Perhaps prayer is the best medicine to avoid and combat depression. Many people have attested that when they prayed to their Creator, their Spirits were lifted and they were able to continue living a hopeful life. Without God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit life becomes a routine grind with no purpose. God gives us purpose and hope. Without hope—there is no life.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AS COUNSELOR
there is great interest in “finding ourselves: and learning who we really are.
Many people are exploited by TV talk shows, which have become their counselors.
We tend to seek others who have similar problems. We want to know how others
resolved situations. Self-help books are best sellers. It appears everyone is
an expert on human behavior today. These so called professionals tell us what
we want to hear. They tell us who we are.
They tell us how to live our lives. We want to join together with people who are like us. We seek a common ground and safe haven.
Christians share a common bond in Christ. Each year many Christians in America come together for our National Day of Prayer. In prayer, be it national or individual, we find God and learn His direction for our lives. God reveals to His children His plan for our lives and fills us with Godly wisdom. We must remind ourselves from lessons learned that man’s wisdom is limited at best. As humans we need something greater than our short sightedness. Our lives are not to be governed by the world, but by the Spirit of God. Christians have the Holy Spirit in their hearts. He dwells in our bodies. Our body is a Holy temple where God resides. If we believe God lives in our bodies, why would we not obey Him? God’s wisdom and understanding go beyond human experiences. God has all the answers to our questions.
When we seek the counsel of God through His Spirit, He blesses us with understanding. (See Job 32;8) The Spirit of God is our personal teacher. (See Isaiah 54:13) God’s Spirit is also our comforter and seeks to protect us from the world. (See John 14:16-21,26) The Holy Spirit keeps us pure and constantly reminds us of the teachings of God. God sent His Spirit in our hearts because He loves us and knows our hearts and minds. (See John 16:7) In this world, sin is crouching at our door. Sin brings trouble. The Holy Spirit talks to us in many ways to help us live a Godly life. He talks to us through God’s word. He talks to us when we are awake or asleep. He knows our needs before we ask. He is sensitive to the fears we experience and grants us peace.
The Holy Spirit has blessed us with many gifts. (See I Corinthians 12:4) To each, He has given special gifts and talents. At His will, God has spread His gifts to each of us according to His plan for our lives. (See Hebrews 2:3) Our gifts from God through His Spirit are to lift up and encourage others in the ways of God. The fruit God offers will be manifested in all God’s people who accept His Spirit through baptism. (See Acts 2:38-39) God is very plain and to the point as he defines the virtues of His spiritual gifts. (See Galatians 5:22-23) In order for our lives to be revealed, God’s presence in our bodies is not only necessary but it is commanded. When the Spirit occupies our bodies, our lonely bodies are transformed into the likeness of Christ’s. We are no longer flesh. We become a spiritual body and unite with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. We experience newness of life. Our direction and function in life are made sure. The Spirit reveals to us we were bought at a price and now we are of great worth.
The Holy Spirit counsels us to walk as children of God’s light. Our goal through the Spirit is to live a pure life, to fear God and obey His commands. The indwelling Holy Spirit offers hope and greater things to come. Heaven is waiting for you and me. The Spirit helps prepare us for our prepared place in God’s eternal light. With the Holy Spirit as our guiding light, there is no guesswork on who we are and where we are going. Christians do not depend on the people of the world to define their past, present or future. Our destiny was and is in the hands of our God. Only the Spirit of truth can lead us in the way we should go.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
“Against All Odds” is the personal story of Yvette Young. Yvette’s life, beginning with her childhood, was filled with personal trials and family struggles. Her mom was constantly in poor health. Poverty plagued their home. As a child Yvette experienced another horror. In their anger, a close family member grabbed her hand and plunged it into a pot of boiling water. Yvette was teased throughout her school years by mean children who made fun of her and called her “broken hand”. Later Yvette married. She became pregnant with her first child. Nearing the birth of her child, her husband suddenly died. She became depressed and at that time she found herself crying out, “I can’t take anymore.”
Around the same time, Yvette longed to be a career woman. She earned a degree in Psychology and worked as a corporate analyst. With the loss of her husband and reflecting on her past, she felt alone and discouraged, especially now as a single mom. In Yvette’s own words, “There is very little I did not experience”. Eventually she realized corporate America was not her calling. She cared for people and wanted to help children. After many more disappointments she earned a masters in Social Work. While attending Stony Brook University she met her second husband. He encouraged Yvette to accomplish her goals and dreams.
Yvette became concerned when she studied the type of counseling offered through the Mental health system. She realized in secular counseling that a faith system was missing. As Yvette’s faith in God grew, she realized God had greater plans for her life. She began her work with the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead Long Island as their resident Social Worker. It was there where Yvette met Fern Hill, Timothy’s mother. Fern was always there for Yvette. The two women prayed many times together. And Fern always reassured Yvette that her blessings would continue to come. And they did! Before and after this time, Yvette met many Christian people who not only encouraged her, but also took her in their homes when she was homeless and lonely.
When Yvette reflects back on her life today and remembers the bad years, when she said to herself many times “Why me?” Yvette now says, “Why not me?” God has brought Yvette Young through her difficult years. Yvette admits—“Without my faith in God I could not have survived those days.” Yvette tells the children she counsels today to find something you’re good at and build on it. With God’s help, Yvette Young has built her life and has filled the cracks in her life with lessons learned so that she can help others like herself.
When we think of seductive sins our thoughts turn to sins of a sexual nature, sins of the flesh, for example, “lust”, when we look at a woman with sin in our heart. For example, when we desire someone we are attracted to sexually, we know it is wrong if it is someone other than our spouse. (See Proverbs 6:25-26) When our thinking becomes unspiritual our minds focus on natural desires. (See Ephesians 4:19) Any kind of sin leads to death and separation from God. We need to develop self-discipline. Sin must be put in its place, behind us! (See Colossians 3:5) Only God can help us to deal with sin. We can’t do it alone!
Our desire should be for God and to please Him. Living a Godly life should be our goal. (See I Thessalonians 4:1-8) God has called us out of the world to carry out His will. If our hearts and minds constantly lean to the world’s philosophy, we will be slowly seduced. We will give in to whatever tempts us. When sin wins us over, one sin follows the next. With God’s help we can change our evil ways. (See I Peter 4:3) Let’s remind ourselves too, that seductive sins are not only of the flesh. We can boast about our careers, or lust over a new car. (See I John 2:16-17) When we lust for something we don’t have, we sin. Seductive sins of all kinds draw us away from God. Sin leads us down a dead-end. We lose sight of God and the bigger picture. We need to demolish sins in our lives and use the spiritual weapons of God to help us win the battle. (See II Corinthians 10:4-5)
Seductive sins like other sins, scar our hearts and minds. However, people in the world don’t acknowledge sin. They laugh at sin. To people outside of Christ there is no such thing as sin. To identify sin, we must be alert and contrast the ways of sin to the teachings of Christ. Seductive sins are not blatant. Rather, seductive sins are sneaky. They creep up on us and catch us off guard. For example, humanism has become a standard of living for many Americans today. God is out. Humanism is in. Humanism has a long history. It didn’t happen overnight. Humanism has infiltrated American society over time. It was a gradual process. We might compare humanism to taking antibiotics, it takes time for the medicine to work and feel its effects. Humanism has impacted our culture without hitting us over the head with its secular doctrine. When we take a detour away from God, we are seduced by the gods of this world and our journey becomes very uncertain.
Because seductive sins are cloaked in disguise, we are deceived and drawn in. Having wisdom to discern right from wrong comes from God. In order to recognize evil, we must be able to identify its signs as they approach. Man’s wisdom cannot bring about change in our lives. Only God can effectively strengthen our hearts and minds to overcome. (See I Corinthians 1:19-20) When we puff up ourselves with great learning, we are led away from the wisdom of our Maker. When we pull away from God and boast—“We have all the answers”, God is there to straighten us out. Focusing on God’s supreme power to transform our lives to greatness deters seductive thoughts.
Christians have an internal voice and it is not our conscience. Sometimes warnings come to us through a whisper. For some, it must be like a policeman blowing his whistle to warn us of impending danger. The warning device that resides within lives in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is our personal counselor who guides us and helps us to remove ourselves from temptations. The Holy Spirit yearns for us to listen to Him. The voice of the Holy Spirit is real and instructs us to avoid the evil schemes of Satan through seductive sins. LISTEN!
In (Genesis 2:24) the bond of marriage between a man and a woman is firmly established by God. The New Testament reaffirms that bond in Paul’s writings to the Ephesians. (See Ephesians 5:3) Marriage is a sacred institution created by God. God takes marriage between a man and a woman very seriously. In marriage, the man and the woman become one flesh and unite with God and one another.
Unfortunately, divorce rates in the 2000’s are still very high. When problems arise in a marriage, that otherwise might be resolved, many couples seek divorce as a way out of their situations. Marriage was designed as a partnership. Both the husband and wife must give 100%. Many couples today enter the marriage bond unaware of their respective roles in their new relationship. Sometimes the partners in marriage do not understand the needs of their spouse. Developing a strong marriage takes time and patience. Since marriage between a man and woman is a blessing from God we should work harder to hold it together. Divorce is not an easy way out of marriage. And it is certainly not an option, especially for the Christian except for marital unfaithfulness. In short, God hates divorce of any kind. (See Malachi 2:16) When divorce occurs, God’s greatest gift of love is violated. As love fails, other, more negative feelings are displayed in the marriage. Love many times is replaced by hate. Hate is the direct opposite of love and defies God’s definition of love. (See I Corinthians 13:4-7)
However, when love feelings are replaced with emotional abuse or adultery, divorce may be the only option. In a Christian marriage however, if the husband or wife confessed their sins to God the marriage may be saved if the spouse is willing to forgive his or her partner. But even for Christians, forgiveness for the sins of their spouse may not come easy. God however offers divorce if adultery is the sin. (See Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:32) Recovery is a difficult time for the victims of divorce. The man and woman, though out of love as the marriage fails, experience an emotional vacuum. Suddenly their physical and emotional needs are not met by the person they relied on to fulfill their marital responsibilities. Through divorce the man and woman are torn apart. They hurt deeply. The psychological and emotional hurt travels deep within their bodies. That hurt goes down to the pit of the stomach. The man and woman become an empty shell. Not only do they become isolated from each other, but also in many cases they separate themselves from God as their strength and faith are put to the test. As a spiritual bond, marriage is made comfortable by God and offers security. Marriage should be an extension of the man and woman’s past life. Now, it appears through divorce the link of life is broken. A void is generated. Loneliness begins. For the man and woman, the need to find their new identity becomes a difficult challenge. With the commitment of marriage broken, often times, negative behavior follows. Drug or alcohol abuse becomes an outlet for loneliness, confusion and depression. Sexual behavior may manifest itself in multiple affairs during the separation period to spite the other partner.
As a dysfunctional pattern of behavior develops during and after the divorce, new coping skills are needed to survive emotionally. During the separation period, if the couple is not willing to seek outside counseling the problems seem to grow larger and it appears there is just no way out but divorce. If divorce is chosen by the couple, recovery must begin as soon as possible. The scars of divorce not only affect the man and woman, but the children as well. The children share the cost of the high emotional price of a divorced family. Children are usually isolated from one parent. Sometimes the children are thrust in the middle of divorce and blamed for the break up of the marriage. Children of divorced families may also experience depression, especially if the divorce occurs during their formative years. They may begin to do badly in school and cut themselves off from their peers, modeling the behavior of their parents.
Victims of divorce must seek professional help for themselves and their children in order to lessen the trauma involved in destruction of their family. The man and woman of divorce must seek God and remind themselves that God still loves them and His Son died for their sins. Only God, through prayer and meditation on His word can rebuild a life shattered by divorce. When a marriage is destroyed God hurts. Christians must be willing to stand before God and confess their sins so God’s healing process can begin. The divorced couple must kneel before their Creator in fervent prayer for spiritual strength. The Christian man or woman of divorce is encouraged also to turn to the church and seek forgiveness and comfort from other Christians as they lay their life and new direction as a single person at the foot of the cross.
Though the Christian man or woman may have violated God’s commands concerning marriage (if the divorce was for other than reasons of adultery) God can mend the broken lives of the man and woman if the individuals seek the intervention of God’s Holy Spirit. The Christians who become victims of divorce must humble themselves before their Creator and seek God’s comfort and guidance through this difficult time in their lives. God will help the hurting in ways that we could never imagine. We will go to Him and speak to Him and He will answer. (See Romans 8:26-27) Because God is a passionate and merciful God, His love for us never ends. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit will create a new beginning for the divorced person as long as we seek God and remain faithful He will bless us with untold strength to endure the hardship of divorce. (See James 5:11)
WORDS THAT HURT
Words are powerful. Positive words can build up character. Negative words tear at our self-esteem. Encouraging words motivate us to accomplish great things—even beyond our expectations. Discouraging words stop us dead in our tracks. Discouragement could mean we will never challenge ourselves again. Mean people use mean words. Mean unhappy people usually dislike themselves. People like this use words that are not positive or helpful to anyone.
Cruel words penetrate to our bones and wound us internally. In the early years of school I (producer of this program) suffered a learning disability. I could not read and I was not very coordinated. My first grade teacher called me “stupid” when I couldn’t tie my shoes. Fifty-six years later, the word stupid still rings in my ear. However, becoming a Christian in 1980, has taught me many things, one of which is forgiveness. I “forgave” my teacher. But I will never “forget” the word she used to describe me. That one word has been the motivation to drive me to do great things, now in Christ. Words like stupid, shut-up, and I hate you can damage our self-image for life if we allow them to. Some people in the world cast self-fulfilling prophecies on us to carry out their negative outcomes in our lives.
For the Christian however, there are very stern warnings for those who don’t tame their tongue. (See James 3:5-12) We need to become more sensitive to others emotional needs by selecting words that communicate love. God’s word is love. And God’s word encourages us to live a fuller richer life by fearing Him and obeying His commands. The Ten Commandments are some of the most important words we have to live by. (See Exodus 20:1-17) However, the people of this world do not live by God’s commandments. For example, in some circles of the corporate world it is fashionable to demean and step on others who complete with us for better high paying positions. TV comedians constantly slander and curse other people today. Movies are also filled with negative verbal messages and images. Hate, jealousy, and revenge are popular themes in films.
Some people use demeaning words to elevate themselves, having others become scapegoats for their failed dreams and misfortunes. Our lives are shaped by the words we use and hear. Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves that other people judge us by our words and actions. Our word choices define our level of maturity. Mature people in Christ desire to encourage. Example of encouraging words might be: commend, reassure, compliment, and satisfy. The negative trend to bury people with destructive words must be reversed. Christians must lead the way and communicate God’s loving message to the world as never before. For example, instead of agreeing with the world when someone is put down, we can correct the situation by lifting the person up. By using scripture to inspire and teach, we can encourage worldly people to find a better way to accomplish their hopes and dreams. For example, one of my favorite verses in the Bible is (Philippians 4:13) “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” In this verse, we can change the I to you and show people what God can do for them if they accept His word implanted in them..
We must encourage others to think about their words before they utter them. And encourage people to set positive examples by using wholesome words. Wholesome words strengthen character. (See Ephesians 4:29) By using the words of God, God’s love and the love we have for each other will be displayed in the people around us. We want to encourage others with our words, so that they will listen. When they listen, they will learn. And when they have learned the truth they will speak the truth. Then the lying words of the world will remain where they belong—in the sewer of the world.
THE CHRISTIAN CONFRONTS CULTURE
As Christians we are in this world but not of it. In (I John 2:15) we are taught not to love the world. If the love of the Father is in us, we can’t love the world, or anything in it. Our true purpose in this life is to glorify God and hate the things that cause us to sin. As aliens on this planet, this world should be foreign to us as we hope for our permanent home in heaven.
The philosophy and the culture itself are drowning in a sea of darkness and sin. (Ephesians 5:1-18) Rather than being filled with the sins of this world, we are commanded to be filled with God’s Spirit. Yet, as Christians we are not to hide from the people of the world, but to be a shining light. We are warned however, not to take part in the world’s ways and evil schemes. Separating ourselves from the ways of the world, we uphold the laws of God in our lives.
In order to reach the lost, however, we must strive to develop common ground, being all things to all men. (I Corinthians 9:19-22) Our goal as Christians is to share the Good News with as many people as possible. Living and sharing the gospel in this world, we are also careful to obey and respect our worldly leaders. But, at the same time we should not expect leaders in the world to bring about change we seek through Christ. Culture teaches people the need to change from the outside in. With the teachings of Christ, people are taught and encouraged to change their hearts.
Sharing the Gospel will prepare people to withstand the evil ways of the world and save them from going to hell. The sins of our culture are strong and persuasive, pulling in the weak and those struggling with temptation. As followers of Christ we need to help the lost of this world to find Christ and be transformed in the renewal o their minds. (Romans 12:1-2) Investing our time and patience with people in Bible study will help bridge the gap between an unsaved person and one who is going on to heaven, through the baptism of Christ Jesus.
Since, however, the devil knows all our weaknesses, there is always the temptation to fall into Satan’s traps; even those who are saved must guard their hearts. Our love and dedication to Christ must be our strength and encouragement. Christians confronting culture should not focus on the norms or values of the culture in order to live their lives. Rather, the Christian should strive to live a Christ like life and come to the foot of the cross daily.
Es la voluntad de Dios que (sepamos mas de El) y que comprendamos la sabidurea de su palabra inspirada. La Biblia nos hace provisiones con la palabra espiritual. Dios ha escrito sus pensamientos y acciones con la communicacion de Su Espiritu Santo.
Cuando uno se compra un automovil nuevo le dan un manual del dueno para aprender a manejar su automovil. La Biblia es un manual del dueno por nuestra vida, que nos ensena como vivir una vida piadosa. El plan de Dios para nuestras vidas esta revelado par su hijo, Jesus, y la Biblia muestra a Jesus como Salvador del mundo.
“Parque Dios tanto amo el mundo que El dio su unico Hijo, que cualquiera que creyera en El no va a perecer, pero tendra vida eterna.” (Juan 3:16)
ENSENANDO LA BIBLIA
El poder de la gracia salvadora de Jesus es ensenada en la Biblia. Cuando conocemos a Dios por su hijo, Jesus, tenemos la sabiduria del Unico Sagrado y estamos asegurados de la vida eterna. Para ensenarle a la gente la palabra de Dios, tenemos que vivir una vida fiel y continuar estudiando la Biblia nosotros mismos. Cuando la palabra de Dios nos bendiga con la sabiduria (como ministros de la Palabra) estamos estimulados a compartir las Buenas Noticias con atros.
Sin embargo, ensenando exige que amemos a todas las gentes y que revelemos la paciencia divina con personas incredulas. Cuando ensenemos, es importante que ensenemos solo a Jesus y no las filosofias mundiales. Tenemos que recordarnos que solamente la “Verdad” va a liberar a la gente, y eso es lo que debemos ensenar.
Atra vez, recordando que Dios ha puesto todas sus promesas en Su Palabra, no debemos leer solamente Su Palabre, pero tenemos que vivir su Palabra tambien. Como Cristianos estamos comisionados a compartir las “Buenas Noticias” con todos los que escuchen.
EL PODER DE LA BIBLIA
Dios nos habla por su palabra, tenemos que aprender que hay que oir su consejo sabio. Las escrituras presentan el “poder” de la verdad para ayudarnos a vivir una vida piadosa. Cuando estudiamos la Biblia, El Espiritu Santo de Dios nos ayuda a entender la voluntad de Dios para nuestras vidas cuando continuamos practicando (viviendo una vida piadosa). Para ayundarnos a entender la palabra de Dios, tenemos que conocer a su hijo Jesus por el bautize y recibiendo el Espiritu Santo.
Las escrituras nos revelan la manera propia de vivir de aquerdo con Dios por las ensenanzas de Jesus. Cuando nos quedamos completamente confiando en Dios por la fe y las acciones, recibiremos todas las bendiciones de la palabra inspirada de Dios. Recordando que nada es imposible para Dios (con su guia Espiritual) podemos vivir en el mundo por el ejemplo Cristiano, y convencer a atros que examinen el “poder” de la Biblia.
The Annointing of the Holy Spirit
When we obey the Gospel, and unite with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:28-39). The Spirit of God indwelling in our bodies is one of the greatest themes presented in the New Testament. Since we cannot rescue ourselves from our sinful nature, the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Word of God was given to us to help each Christian live a Christ-like life. The Holy Spirit is a living Spirit. As the third member of the Godhead, He was placed in our hearts to strengthen us spiritually. Residing in our bodies the Holy Sprit turns our human bodies from dead tombs into living temples.
Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, we are to use our God-given gifts to serve our Creator and glorify Him. Living a Christian life, we strive to be pure in God’s site. When we walk by the Spirit, we are doing what God expects of us. Walking in the Light of Christ, the Spirit helps us to remain in His Light by His power within our mortal bodies. There is one Lord and one Spirit (Ephesians 4:2-6). That One Spirit draws us closer to the Father by remaining a faithful reminder that He is the source of our spiritual strength. The Spirit is there for us even when we don’t know what to pray. He groans for us. His transcends human words. He intercedes for the Saints (Romans 8:26).
When we walk by the direction of the Holy Spirit, we are drawn by the love of Christ in Christian unity with our brothers and sisters. The creative measure of the Spirit produces not only unity but also a power to grow as Christians. As Christians, we have the power and faith to edify and encourage others in the Lord. We are endowed with the fruit of the Spirit with nine Christian virtues to help us live a Christ-like life (Galatians 5:22-23). Once we are in Christ the Holy Spirit helps us to manifest the spiritual qualities of our Lord to perfection as we continue to walk in the Light of Life.
In Search of Joy
“Real joy” is something we all need in our busy lives. Many search for joy in haste, but never find it in this life. We all desire good things in our lives that bring contentment and encourage our human spirit. Christians are blessed with “authentic joy” when they turn their lives over to God through His Son Jesus. Some people will tell you, “Life is good. We’re happy!” However, happiness is not joy. The joy that comes from above when we have a relationship with our Creator is long lasting. “Real joy” is grounded in the Spirit of Christ. Happiness on the other hand is fleeting. It’s based on how we feel at any given moment. Happiness can be taken away when we lose someone or something we treasure or enjoy. The joy that endures, is one of the nine blessings that are part of the “Fruit of the Spirit, see (Galatians 5:22-23). We receive these nine virtues when we make our commitment to Christ in baptism.
Joy is the opposite of despair. People with low self-esteem, suffer greatly without the emotional healing balm of joy. Spiritual joy is a state of mind, heart, and soul. Knowing as Christians, we have been affirmed by the love of Christ, our human spirit is lifted up and rejoices in our “new life,” see (Philippians 4:4). Joy helps us to create a predisposition of wellness ahead of negative experiences. In our state of joy, we are prepared through the love of Christ to deal with situations that may come our way. It’s helpful to say: “I’m going to be joyful in spite of circumstances.” Joy like love is a passion. Godly passions need to be experienced. Lack of the love that derives from our relationship with our Savior hinders real joy from taking place. God works in our Christian lives to fulfill His desires for our good. He gives us what’s best for you and me in this life and beyond. God has given us joy because He cares for us. He wants us to enjoy the time we spend on earth. Joy experienced here, is a foretaste of what is to come in heaven.
Living on earth, if we raise our level of expectations too high, we tend to have unrealistic goals. Unrealistic goals and expectations rob us of our joy. Rather, we should rely on God’s wisdom to move us from one experience in life to another and not worry. God’s will was given to us so that we don’t second-guess His direction for our lives (see Romans 8:28). Putting more on our shoulders than we can handle brings unwanted stress and destroys our “real joy.” Joy is not found in wishful thinking. The realism of joy is found only in the Lord of the universe. Since God created all things, He has the key to total fulfillment, Christ; who gave us the joy we need through His grace. Find joy through Him, and by His grace, you will be complete.
Pain Is Essential
Three types of pain affect man: bodily pain, emotional pain of the mind, and spiritual pain of the heart’s soul. All three sources of pain are harmful to the human spirit. The different types of pain are essential if we are to experience life to the fullest. However, we don’t like pain. Pains of any kind tear at our human spirit and bring us down. In the throes of pain, we hurt. However, through the pangs of life, the many types of pain can and often are a time of spiritual growth. When we violate God’s Law, it causes us to sin. Sin causes all kinds of pain through its consequences. Even a saved person does not live a sinless life. It’s inevitable we will sin in some way, because sin is in the world through the Evil One. Not being perfect people, sometimes we leave ourselves open to sin when we fall away from the presence of God’s protection.
Pain of any kind can be a wake up call, telling us (if we are willing to listen), that something is wrong. For example, if we move away from God, our faith in our healing Savior will weaken and our resolve to deal with the stress of this life will be compromised. God uses pain to cause us to grow spiritually and know Him better (see Psalms 119:71). Through pain, we are given an opportunity to reach out to our healing Savior for strength, and draw nearer to Him as we pray for His intervention. Through pain and painful moments, we don’t appreciate fully the hold pain has on us at the time. But, pain of all kinds can produce positive out comes when we view pain as a time of growth. In hindsight, we can appreciate painful moments after they pass. Our Creator reveals the purpose of emotional, physical, and spiritual pain to us down through the days of our lives. Pain at times, is used as a period of testing by God to search the depth of our faith. Relying on God’s strength brings us through the difficult times in our lives.
When we hurt, God can identify with us, because His Son suffered more pain then we could ever experience in our lifetime. Jesus never complained concerning His pain when He died on the cross for our sinful nature. Yet, many times we find ourselves complaining about the minute heartaches of life we suffer. However, nothing can compare with what our suffering Savior went through for us so that we could experience peace in the midst of pain. Is it possible to experience love, joy, and peace while going through painful times? Yes! But, only when we know and understand God’s true purpose for us revealed in His Word. When pain in this life is gone, those who obeyed the Gospel will enjoy a time of refreshment, which awaits them in heaven. However, at this moment, on earth, as we go through times of pain, can we find relief and solace from human suffering? Yes! We are renewed here as well, when by faith we believe the God of the universe is walking with us in the valleys as well as the hilltops of life.
God's Rx For Healthy Living
People who obey the Gospel become Christians. They are “born again” through baptism. Their sins are washed away through the saving blood of Christ. In the water of baptism, their sinful life dies. As “new creatures” in Christ, they move from death to life and follow God’s plan for a healthy spiritual and physical existence.
Our “renewed bodies” are on loan from our Creator. God blessed our bodies and instructed us to take care of them. Our bodies are living vessels where God Himself resides by His Spirit. What can we do to take care of our bodies spiritually and physically?
Since our bodies are a temple where God’s Spirit resides, we want to treat our bodies with love and care. We need to stay in the Word of God, by striving to become more Christ –like in all we do and say. We need to focus on the healing words of scripture to help us live healthy and productive spiritual lives. When we focus on praying for the things we read and receive in God’s Word, we have the benefits of His beautiful peace as our hearts and minds are transformed into His likeness (Philippians 4:6-8). Reading the Bible brings joy to our lives. We gain a positive outlook concerning our present and future. When we follow our “Master Teacher’s” Word, we grow spiritually, and learn and understand the ways of the world and what God has in store for those who obey the Gospel.
Since our bodies are physical as well as spiritual, we need to know how to treat our bodies properly to live physically healthy lives. We don’t want to defile our bodies with drugs or alcohol, which destroy the normal functions of human bodies over time. We must eat properly remembering that breakfast is a foundation meal that begins our day and prepares us for our busy lifestyle. Exercise is important as well, for people of all ages. When our bodies age we tend to slow down. Even the elderly need to be active in some form of daily physical exercise. Modern research reveals that those who lead active lives live longer. Physical exercise not only relieves stress, but also provides a more positive outlook on life as some forms of physical pain are lessened. When we feel good physically, our minds find rest. Rest of minds and hearts brings other benefits as well.
We learn to smile more. We focus less on depressing situations. Even though we are in the world, we don’t allow the world to drag us down with its depressing ideas and ways. Rather, we get angry about injustice in the world and strive to overcome the world with the power of “God’s Truth.” However, “our anger” should not become our reason for living, knowing our God will provide the healing our world needs, in His time. God’s righteous anger brings about positive change. But, unresolved anger on our part, can lead to various forms of depression if allowed to persist longer than a day. We need to manage our anger God’s way or suffer the consequences. (See Ephesians 4:26-27) Anger not managed, can result in serious health problems leading to prolonged emotional sickness. The stress induced by unresolved anger saps our energy and wears down the body and mind. Life will be more pleasant when we live a Godly life filled with wisdom that comes to us from a thorough search of scriptures. Then, we gain the strength we need to reach out to others helping them with their physical, spiritual, and emotional struggles. Life is good when we are in Christ. Spiritual well-being is the source of a healthy physical and emotional life. With God living inside us through His Spirit, how can we go wrong!
Intimacy With God
We might ask, how can a God so big relate to us while in spite of His love, we are so small in stature in His eyes. Our God can and does relate to us because of the fellowship He created between Himself and all believers. “ I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12). For those who are not believers, the God of the universe seems far removed from human consciousness. For them, God doesn’t exist in their world. However, God has always existed. He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He was before all things created. God has made Himself known also through His Word, Jesus. The Spirit of God residing in our bodies of those who made a decision to become a “child of God.” are a living witness of His love and care. Because He loved us first, our Father initiated a special relationship with His children through the death and resurrection of His only Son.
When we desire a spiritual hunger to have healing in our lives, we grow nearer to our Savior, and He draws near to us. Then we will find the rewards of His love and care for His followers (Hebrews 10:19-23).
To accomplish His goal for our salvation, God allowed His Son to die for our sins, but also in Jesus’ death, Jesus felt the pain and suffering for everyone’s sins for all time. He paid for our sins by His blood even when we were not worthy. Never, should we take what Jesus did for us lightly. Though Jesus did not sin, He was tempted in all ways. Some of the emotional, physical and spiritual pain Jesus experienced on the cross, we will never experience in our lifetime.
To be intimate with our Creator we must have a willingness to be open to God’s intervention in our lives. Taking off the mask and realizing that we are not perfect and that we need the special fellowship we enjoy with a Holy God should be our goal. Being honest with God, we confess our sins to Him. Mourning over our sins, we go to our Father with a humble attitude. God knows our sins already. However, He desires we come to Him in prayer and make our confession of faith knowing our sins are forgiven by His grace. When we are forgiven for our sins, comfort and peace come. The Christian life is one of progression. As we grow in our walk with God, He runs to our side to heal and strengthen our relationship with Him.
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