World conditions are intensifying. As we look around we see news flashes of violence, disasters, doom, gloom and despair. Others and ourselves are being bombarded with sickness, tragic family or friend loss, financial stress, and mental pressures. We feel like we are living in a battle zone that's never ending.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1 "But know this that in the last days perilous times will come." Listen up children of God, we are living in the final days, before Jesus returns. We are facing dangerous, unpredictable, high risk times. Some of you may be asking, how can we persevere?
Let me reassure you that there are conquering strategies for every believer. The basis to being an overcomer is found in the Bible. This is a time we can not afford to live with the notion that everything will resolve itself and settle down. The devil knows that his time is nearly ending and he's unleashing all that he has to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) This is the moment that we, born again, spirit filled, sword wielding Christians rise up to the occasion. Fear, dread and defeat will try to overpower you. Don't let it! Ps. 138:7 says, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revived me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies. And Your right hand will save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever..."
Peace, comfort and victory comes from trusting in the Lord. He IS the 'All Sufficient, El Shadday'! Experiencing His sustaining strength requires that we must run to Him first in all situations! We have to make His Word the place we go for security, assurance, and direction! Then no evil will conquer us nor any disease come near. The following scripture is one that is our anchor for safety in troubled times. It's time to realize that His deliverance will come in our time of need, when we trust, believe and rely upon Who He is! The problem with most people, is that they don't call upon the Lord in the midst of difficulty. It's much easier to try to figure it out on our own or depend on another method to alleviate our distress. Let this scripture resonate within your heart and spirit becoming the stability for faith in God's safety and deliverance!
Ps. 91 Those who live in the shelter of the Most HighThis I declare about the
In the next few weeks we will be talking about how to live, be skilled, and persevere during perilous times! It's time to arise from lethargy, put on the armor of God, engage active faith, fight the good fight of faith, lay aside fear, discouragement and defeat to become the victor in Christ you are called to be! If you need prayer of agreement, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are here for you!
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
Let's pretend that you hired me as an executive assistant for your swiftly advancing business. Because you desire to expand the company, a decision is made for you and your family to move to Europe and establish a division there for the next year. You tell me that you will write each week and give me all the necessary directions and instructions needed to run the corporation in the states. Months pass and the letters come flowing in with expectations and guidance to manage the business.
After your year term in Europe, you return and drive to the office. As you approach you are shocked to find the grass and weeds have taken over the yard. Windows are broken out and the place looks a mess. As you enter the building you find the receptionist is sitting at her desk doing her nails, reading a magazine and snacking. Upon observation you discover the waste baskets are running over, the carpet is filthy, and not one person is interested that you, the owner has returned. You then ask for me, to which they reply by pointing to a room that's been converted to a game space. Troubled by this you continue to proceed towards that area and coincidentally come across me as I have finished a game of chess with the sales director. We then progress to your office, which has been converted into a television/movie room. Our conversation is as follows:
You, "Can you explain what's going on?"
Me, "What do you mean?"
You, "Well, take a look around. Didn't you get my letters?"
Me, "Yes, we sure did. We got all of them. Actually we began a 'letter study day', every Friday night right after you left. We designated personnel to attend small groups to discuss the contents of the letters. Many of us have literally committed to memorizing some of the sentences and even the paragraphs. Several even know by heart and entire letter. You really wrote some great things."
You, "Alright, you received my letters, you read, discussed and even memorized them, but what did you DO about them?"
In the book of Matthew chapter 24, beginning in verse 44 Jesus talks about His return saying, "You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. Who then is the faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household to give to the others the food and supplies at the proper time? Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is that servant whom, when his master comes, he will find so doing."
It's easy to become lackadaisical in our work with the Lord as well as our walk with Him. Consumption with our every day life gets in the way of praying, getting into the Word, serving at church or often going to church. Loosing focus can cause us to get bored, tired, cranky, and do inappropriate things unbecoming to a Christian. Listen people, the signs of the times are all around us, Jesus IS coming soon. No, I don't know the day nor the time, but I do know it's soon.
Our job is to be about the Lord's business:
1) Being a Christian witness to friends, family and acquaintances; Phil. 2:15 "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
2) Remaining steadfast in prayer and rightly dividing the word of truth; 1 Pet. 4:7 "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." and 2 Tim. 2:15 "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
3) Prevailing as an overcomer in trials and tribulations; Rom. 8:37 "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
4) Staying faithful to assemble with our brothers and sisters in the Lord for encouragement; Heb. 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much to more, as you see the day approaching."
5) Serving Him as our part of the Body of Christ. Heb. 6:10 "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister."
Let the Lord find us busy doing His Word not just busy with our business. Luke 12:37 "Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are those servants whom the Master finds awake and alert and watching when He comes. Truly I say to you, He will gird himself and have them recline at table and will come and serve them!"
It's so easy to give up. If you have ever waited for something to happen or change and the delay was lengthy, you probably wanted to stop believing that it would occur. The desire to quit can be quite pressing, if you've longed for something a great while. Getting tired and the expectation waning makes one think there's no hope of a promised conclusion. Regardless for what you are holding on, despair almost always seems to creep in. Still as we look about we can see others that seem to get their victory, although we remain clinging to hope. We begin to question ourself, then doubt and fear enter, and we decide to throw in the towel. That's it, it's impossible, we say!
Remaining steady and intent may be difficult, but not out of the question! 1 Cor. 15:58 says, "Therefore my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Faith is what pleases God. Often to stay in faith we must encourage ourself. After all we are with ourself more than anyone else. The chances for others to stir us up is highly doubtful. They will probably tell us we might as well give up, because we've been waiting "forever", and if it was going to happen, it would have by now. When Paul wrote the Corinthians this letter, he was trying to stimulate their faith to have an unshakable attitude. The perspective that it doesn't matter how prolonged the situation, belief will not falter. It's like taking a glass and super gluing it to a table, so that when the table is shaken, it will not fall over. One could pick the table up and hold it upside down and the glass will not be moved! That's the type of attitude we need when believing God. Convinced to the point that whatever tries to rattle us, mentally or physically, we continue to be anchored to the Word of God and His promise.
Paul again wrote in Philippians, to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7) Persistent thankful prayer to God, helps activate faith, by expressing we believe we have already received the request. Therefore bringing God's peace that exceeds anything our heart or mind can produce. Because when we believe we are in possession of faiths end, there is perfect peace.
Our desire is to encourage you to stay super glued to the promise to which you are believing! Don't give up! With all your might grab onto faith and know that you will receive if you do not quit! Resolve to hang on like you've never done before. Like Paul says, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)
Have you ever felt as if everyone and everything was coming against you? Your thoughts being bombarded with condemnation, telling you it's all your fault and that you're a complete mess up! And no matter how hard you try to fix it, you're not getting out of it? Let me tell you right now, you have invisible enemies! Ephesians 6:12GWT tells us, "This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world." Our opposition isn't coming from people. It's what's behind the problem - unseen forces trying to kill, steal and destroy your hopes, dreams and faith. (John 10:10)
1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." One of my favorite minister teachers said, interpreted the verse like this: "You must be constantly alert and on your guard! The devil, like an accusing lawyer, will try to charge you will all kinds of arguments and accusations. You need to know that he is like a lion on the prowl, constantly walking around, roaring, with a deafening sound, earnestly seeking the kind of person he can completely consume and slurp up!" (from Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)
These powers from the supernatural realm are assaulting with depression, defeatist attitudes, hopelessness, worry, fear, discouragement, distress and the like. Does this sound like you? The problem is that most people don't recognize 1) it's coming from the devil and 2) there's a way of escaping this! (1 Cor. 10:13)
If you want to become free from any attack of the devil, here's what you can do!
1) James 4:7 "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you." Submitting to God means, prayer and reading or studying the Word. We must know about the authority God and Jesus has given us and how to operate in it. (Luke 10:19) Just sitting in your room and thinking God's going to zap the devil, isn't going to change anything. He is not in control. If He was, He would have control over the evil. God has done all He's going to do through the power of the cross and Jesus' resurrection. Resisting something takes determination and a firm stand. A great example would be a dieter that is refusing to eat cake. Closing his eyes and pretending the cake will go away won't work. He must strongly fight against the urges to eat the dessert. To combat the tactics of satan's attacks, it requires a purposeful persistent opposition. The decision to cast down all imaginations that don't line up with the Word and a commitment to remain dedicated to confessing the scriptures. With this type of perseverance you can win every time!
2) Walk in the Spirit! Galatians 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." By saying walk, we are implying that we need to live our life, make it our behavior or habit to be in the Spirit. One who 'walks in the Spirit', is asking the Holy Spirit for direction, listening and heeding His instruction! Saying what God's Word says, rather than talking about the problem. Walking in the Spirit means we're not participating with things that are contrary to the Word of God! It's control over the flesh!
3) And when we've done all to stand, stand! (Eph. 6:13-18) In other words, after doing everything in the Spirit we know to do, taken our authority, prayed in the Holy Ghost, and resisted the devil, we stand convinced that things have already changed. Why? Because we've acted in faith. And faith is the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is calling those things that be not as though they were, running the course with endurance, and never let go strength. It keeps it's eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. Praise and Worship is in our mouth because we believe we have already obtained victory. And when the invisible enemies come, we are already convinced that we are more than conquerors through Christ!
We encourage you to fight the good fight of faith, stay true to your course, never give up, know that you're an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony above the invisible enemies!
Many years ago while in Arkansas ministering, we visited a secluded farm. The sole purpose of going there was to get some blackberries. Fresh picked fruit is the best. We each sought out a bush and began to pick. Pastor Michael found an extremely large one that had the biggest berries, we'd ever seen. He began to choose the choicest ones and his small container filled fast. While gathering, he noticed deep within the giant bush there were even bigger berries. As he carefully tried to move the vines to avoid the thorns in order to reach in, an unsuspecting branch swung over and hit the hand holding the container. Just then all the berries, he had so thoughtfully gathered spilled to the ground, in the middle of the bush. Now all the huge fruit, he so cautiously harvested was scattered and his receptacle was empty. What had taken him twenty minutes to collect was gone in seconds. So disappointed in the loss, he looked around and found an abandoned fence post. He took that post and began to beat the bush, until he made a hole wide enough for him to crawl into. He picked up his little can and on his hands and knees, he wriggled into the bush to begin picking up all his lost fruit. He began to say, "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" All of a sudden an audible voice, that only he heard spoke to him and said, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." When he heard this, he paused, but within a second later was back in picking and saying "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" Again the voice spoke a little bit louder to him, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Once more he paused and listened, but quickly began pressing in to get all that fruit he so much longed for. Then the third and final time the voice spoke, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Just at that moment he realized he had heard the voice of God. It wasn't until much later that evening that he became aware of thorns that had pierced him in his ears, legs and arms that he hadn't noticed during his berry quest. If one desires something, a focused determination will bring it about, although there are 'thorns' trying to hinder.
Some learning aspects of this experience, would be:
1) "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Mat. 6:33) Just like in this illustration, what a man seeks is the direction that will be leading him. Becoming so ingrained in something, can be positive if seeking the right thing. God first! If one is on the hunt for their own desires, success, fame or fortune, they can get off course and self driven, which leads to trouble. And when God speaks, it's often difficult to hear Him because the attention is based on our own passions. Grasping the attitude of Kingdom business and righteousness first, means all the things that God has for us will fall in line. Our needs and wants will be fulfilled if we give Him and His desires priority.
2) Being extremely committed and focused, to the direction God has for you, will desensitize distractions. Heb. 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Pastor Michael was zeroing in on his task at hand: "Pick the berries". His intention was to get the biggest and best at any cost. It didn't matter that the bush had thorns or that they were piercing his flesh. With tenacity and purpose he pressed in despite any obstacle. We should be that persistent when it comes to our faith! Regardless of what comes against us, others conversation, deceptive speculations, or discouragement, our resolve to keep on keeping on should prevail.
Listen people of God, life has many distractions and lots of daunting events. There's going to be 'thorns' along the way. It's what we do in the midst of them that determines what kind of person we're going to be. We can notice every little "owie" or chose to keep our vision centered on God and His Word. One thing we do, is believe what God said above any circumstance, despite how we feel or what we see. We purpose to live daily in agreement with God, which means saying what He says and thinking what He thinks. Is it easy? NO! But if you resolve to be consistent and tenacious, you will not only grow up in Christ, but not even notice the "Thorns".
Think back to all the gifts you've ever received. This might be difficult for some. Like me, you've probably received many gifts over your lifetime. Can you remember the greatest gift you've ever received?
When I was a child, gifts were something only given on very special occasions, like Christmas or Birthdays. It was rare to get a gift for no apparent reason. My most memorable gift was a much wanted doll house. I lived with my grandparents when I was young, and they had a very meager life. They didn't put up a Christmas tree or buy Easter baskets or even bake birthday cakes. Yet on one Christmas I recall the metal doll house with furniture that they gave me. It wasn't sitting under a tree, but perched on a small table by the front door. I was a delighted at that gift.
Over the years, I've been given many wonderful gifts from friends and family. Many of which were very memorable and valuable. The value being, the heartfelt sentiment from the giver. If you were to consider the worth of a gift, how would you measure it? Some would probably say the significance would be in the cost. Others might say it would be calculated by the usefulness of that gift. For instance a person who was given a coat, who had no coat, would more likely value that gift better than one who had several coats. And of course, there are those who value a gift by the sincerity of the giver. Let me just say that, in whatever way you measure the value of a gift it's usually due to its importance at the time.
This Christmas season I would like to inspire you to consider in all the gifts you've ever been given, the Greatest Gift of all is Jesus Christ. Is. 9:6 (GNT) says, "A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
There is much value in the gift of this Savior. And, just as with any gift, it's worth is in the eye or the heart of the receiver. You choose how valuable He is to you. To me He is my peace in the midst of all troubles and turmoil. And my healer, Who heals ALL my diseases, infirmities, and sicknesses. Jesus is my provider for all my needs. He is my gift of eternal life. I'm assured I have a place with Him in Heaven. What does this Wonderful Gift of our Savior mean to you? Do you daily place value on this gift by giving Him priority in and over your life? Let this be a reminder of how great a gift we have been given.
Perhaps the most important question for some, have you personally accepted this gift of Jesus Christ, as Savior? To receive the Greatest Gift, repeat this prayer: "Lord Jesus, I ask You to come into my life and forgive me of all my sins. I confess my sins before You this day. I denounce Satan and all his works. I confess Jesus as the Lord of my life. Thank You for saving me. I believe with my heart and I confess with my mouth that You rose from the dead. I am saved. Write my name in the Lamb's book of life. Today is my God-day with the Lord Jesus! I pray this prayer to the Father in the name of Jesus. Amen."
If you just prayed this prayer, please e-mail, mail, or call us to let us know. We'd like to send you a free booklet to to help you understand a little more about this new life in Christ.
Breathe, just breathe! Don't let the pressures of the holiday's get to you. Right now it's easy to look at your finances and feel the stress of it all. Wondering how you're going to buy Christmas presents, donate to those favorite charities, and pay all your bills on time. Or perhaps you're considering how much time you've got to get everything done. What ever your dilemma, take a deep breath and trust God. The devil wants to get you anxious and frustrated about things. And the more bothered you are, the less peace you have.
So how can you eliminate troubled thoughts? If you will begin to do the following you will experience the peace of God.
1) Cast all your care upon the Lord for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7) This means to throw, toss, or fling your worry over to the Lord. This does not mean in prayer we rehearse all the problems and woes. We must take the thought of concern in prayer to the Lord with the answer from the Word of God. For instance, if you're afraid that you're low in money, in prayer you would find a scripture that confirms God's answer to your need. Phil. 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." would be one of the scriptures you could validate for God's provision to you. Praying using this scripture not only builds faith in God, but proves His answer to your problem.
2) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." (Ps. 3:5-6) Full trust is confidence in someone. It's believing without any doubt that they will do what they said. We must arrive at the place of taking our perceptions and view them through the Word of God. That means if you are looking at your situation through the eyes of past insufficiencies, you have to cast those imaginations down, bringing your thoughts into focus with God's promise. Remember, "He is able to make all grace abound unto you that you having all sufficiency in all things, will abound to every good work." (2 Cor. 9:8) By recognizing your need for God's intervention you unlock the paths of His direction.
3) "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." (Heb. 13:15) Now it's time to exercise faith. When we believe something we act like we do! We need to give praise and thanks to God for something, even if it hasn't happened yet. This exercises our belief that we already have received it by faith. Since God operates by faith, just as He releases faith in His words, so must we. Declaring His Word over our circumstance is proving we believe and agree.
Remember the thief (the devil) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus said He came to give life and give it more abundantly. This 'Life' comes from the Word of God - it's our source to live in victory. Using these scriptures will activate faith, reveal your submission to God, and help you resist the devil's stress. Thus JOY and peace come and you have deflated the Holiday pressures.
Anyone out there ever made a mistake that you were embarrassed about? A bad decision or a fall into a sin? Then right after the realization that you fell short of the grace of God, remorse set in. All the repenting didn't seem to help you feel better. And the devil, who is quick to bring up past sins, guilt or condemnation was right there on your tail. Even some friends or family seem to constantly rehearse the mishap, which doesn't make the situation better. Getting past the hurt and guilt is extremely difficult. Forgiveness from yourself and those you hurt, generally seem a long time coming.
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Of course the first thing we need to do is confess to the Lord we messed up. The second, is to ask for forgiveness. Then the scripture says, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us! That means He cleans us up. It's as if we never sinned. Now, the hard part, in our mind is, we must forgive ourself! Yes, we have to let it go, just as if we never sinned! (A word of caution, all this forgiveness and cleansing, doesn't give us freedom to sin again. Rom. 6:15) Forgiveness is not condoning the sin or even the lack of accountability, it's letting go of the anguish or resentment of the sin. It's coming to realize that Jesus himself took our sin, guilt and iniquities. Is. 53:5 NIV "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole." We can be free from pain of guilt and condemnation only by receiving it by faith from God, when we truly repent!
Now let's talk to the people that were hurt by the offense. I am reminded of the story in the Bible where, Jesus spoke to the accusers of the woman caught in the act of adultery, "he who is without sin cast the first stone". I believe that everyone of us at one time has committed a sin that affected others. I can already hear "but my sin wasn't as grave as the one committed against me"! Listen people of God, sin is sin! Lying is the same as stealing, sexual sin is the equilvalent of anger, unforgiveness is synonymous of murder. One sin is not greater than another! And if Jesus can forgive us of any sin we commit, then how simple is it that we forgive others! Holding grudges, animosity or someone hostage for their sin hurts us as much it does the one who committed the infraction. First of all it keeps us from being forgiven. (Mat. 6:14-15) Secondly, the bitterness that comes from unforgiveness keeps the blessings of God from flowing to us because we grieve the Holy Spirit. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:29-32)
How many times are we suppose to forgive, you ask? Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4 "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” I know some of you are saying, 'How can I forgive this person that has done this dastardly deed against me? My feelings are hurt. Trust is broken. How do I know they won't do it again?' The answer to forgiveness is LOVE. Agape Love which is unconditional Love, like the love Jesus gave us. He forgave us even before we were born. He paid the price for our sin and forgiveness 2000 years ago. The only way to get past this hurt is by faith in the Lord. Through prayer, praying like you would for yourself and faith, forgiveness will flow. Every time you think of the pain you must forgive by faith, until one day you realize it's no longer tormenting you. That's when forgiveness is established.
If you are one of these two kinds of people I urge you to operate in the Love of God and forgive. Allow the healing power of God to come into your life and minister to you. Remember 2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Trust the Lord for a new beginning. All things are possible with Him.
Prayer #1: Father, in the name of Jesus I come to you repenting for my actions. I ask for Your forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit to help direct me and lead me in the path of righteousness. Open my ears and seal Your Word, that I may do what I have heard. Amen.
Prayer #2: Father, I come to You in the name of Jesus praying for the person that sinned against me. I forgive them as Christ forgave me. I loose them from my anger and allow the Holy Spirit to minister healing to them and to me. I ask forgiveness for anything I may have done to cause this transgression. And I choose to operate in the Agape Love towards them. Amen.
Of all the creatures on earth I believe the less stressed is the snail. Seriously, think about it, the snail, as slow as he is, still made it to the ark before the flood. He wasn't stressing about making it! The pressures of daily life, whether it be the job or family oftentimes can be overwhelming. With the need to accomplish what's been set before us or the tasks we've chosen, stress can enter in to affect us causing illness. Too often people tend to put more on their plate than they can effectively handle. Or because of the tender nature of some, responsibilities are often added to them by leadership. All this adds stress related emotions.
The work before us, isn't easily ignored, especially when it involves others, assignments or impending target dates. The tension of fulfilling the mission usually mounts as more duties are assigned and the schedule narrows. So how does one handle stress on a day to day basis?
I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:7, of which I like the Amplified version, "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." I liken casting to 'heaving, throwing, or flinging'. And of course Peter didn't say, just throw part of your care...he said the 'Whole of your care'! That's all the 'how's it going to turn out, how's it going to get done, IS it going to get done, and how am I going to do it' thoughts. Then he indicates 'once and for all'! In other words, do it once and leave it! Don't take back the worry or questions. Leave them in the Lord's lap.
Doing this is very difficult for a lot of people, because they want to be in control. I think some people believe God's not interested in the 'little' BIG stuff in our life. I call it 'little' BIG stuff, because in the scheme of it all, there are bigger and grander problems than these things we call BIG! Our nature is to make mountains out of mole hills, thinking the world will fall off of its axis if we don't complete something. If the truth be said, generally it's us that determine the degree of significance. (I'm not talking about those large events with time constraints involving hundreds of people. In those cases, we just need to activate time management or delegation. Remembering we can't do everything ourself.) Regardless of the measure of importance, we should cast the whole of our care, once and for all over on Him!
Here are some helpful points to rid yourself of stress or anxiety in your life.
1) Pray! Yes, it's come to that! Prayer IS 'Casting'. It's taking whatever's confronting you and giving the guardianship of it to God. Pro. 3:5-6NIV "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." In more ways than not, God has the perfect way to accomplish your task at hand! You just might be surprised at the answer He has for getting it done!
2) Thank God for taking your care! Phil. 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Thanksgiving is where faith is activated. When we thank Him for the answer before it arrives, that means we believe He's given us the answer.
3) Renew your mind to the Word. In other words, find some scripture to meditate on. Phil. 4:8 "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." Instead of thinking about all the problems and all of what you cast over to God, find the good things about your situation to reflect on.
and 4) Praise the Lord. Praise is acknowledging what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do! It's important to know that Praise always precedes God's power. (Read 2 Chron. 20:21-22) Your praises to God will open the door for things to change and answers to come in behalf of your situation. God always sits upon the throne of praise we build. (Ps. 22:3)
I know that if you incorporate these points in your life, your stress will leave, peace will come and the help you need will arrive. Praise the Lord!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."