Book Details. Language : English. Format : Softcover. Dimensions : 6x9. Page Count : ISBN : Format : Hardcover. Format : E-Book. About the Book. About the Author. She and her family are active members of the Azalea City Church of Christ. If your walk with God has slowed or even stopped, it's time to get back into shape and start walking with Him again. This year determine that you're going to build spiritual muscles by maintaining a strong, steady walk with God.
Changes: From Spiritual Hopelessness to Spiritual Hope
Life places many demands on us. We struggle to balance work, school, sport's practices, church activities, family needs, and the list could go on and on. Life is just plain busy and, sometimes, we become so busy with life that we forget Who we are living for. One of the greatest needs of our lives is balance, and this can only be achieved as we keep Christ at the center of all other activity. How can you have balance in your life? Find a place where you can daily spend time alone with God. Look at the beautiful picture of the sweetness of God's presence the hymn writer paints through this song: "I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses.
And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. Schedule a specific time to read God's Word and talk to Him through prayer.
God's Word will encourage and strengthen you throughout the day. Read it, meditate on it, and memorize it. When your day seems too hectic to control or too hard to handle, bring your problems to the Lord. God doesn't want you to get stressed out or frustrated; He wants to help you with all of your problems every day. Make a plan to keep Christ as your center. Ephesians says "Redeeming the time, because days are evil. Focus on His priorities for your day, and watch Him turn wasted time into eternal treasure. When you make Christ the center of your life, the cares of this world become less weighty, and you will discover His joy and peace.
What is success? The world tells us that success is being wealthy or popular, but God's Word shows us the true definition of success: a fruitful Christian life. Delight in God's Word. Think back to the time when you first accepted Christ as your Saviour.
God's Word was so fresh and new, and you couldn't wait to read it whenever you had the opportunity! It seemed like God was with you in person and speaking directly to you. Reading and hearing God's Word was a delight to you. As we become older Christians, it is easy for our devotions to become a ritual rather than a real relationship with God. But we need to realize that when we choose to delight in God's Word, He will give us true success. Meditate on God's Word. What's on your mind throughout the day? Is it work, family problems, or financial strains? Instead of dwelling on the negative issues of life, focus your mind on God's Word.
Memorize encouraging promises from God, and think about them throughout your day. Post notes with verses that God has given you throughout your home and in your car, listen to preaching as you drive or exercise, or hang pictures of your favorite verses in your house.
Meditating on God's Word will transform your mind and give you God's perspective on life. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. I have the privilege to pastor in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. Our arid terrain is actually similar to that of Israel, so it is easy for me to see why a lush tree serves as a fitting symbol of blessing in Scripture.
A thriving tree in the desert can only mean one thing-strong roots. There is no true or lasting growth where there are no roots. In our culture, we're often far more focused on the outward evidences of progress than on the roots that support true growth. Even in spiritual growth, we tend to believe that if we look good on the outside, we must be okay. This makes for a shallow Christianity that will not sustain through the desert times of life.
We may have external evidences of growth. But if we are not firmly rooted in Christ, we will eventually wither. Sometimes we need to step back a moment and consider our roots. Ask yourself, do I have a growing relationship with Christ? Am I delighting more in Him and in His Word? David knew the importance of having a real and growing relationship with God, and he prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" Psalm More than looking good to others, David wanted to be sure his heart was right with God-that he had real roots.
How long has it been since you asked the Holy Spirit to take a spiritual inventory of your heart? God desires for you to prosper spiritually-not just today, but for the rest of your life. To do so requires that you firmly root yourself in Him. Do you desire an abundant Christian life? The first concern is not how much I might serve the Lord, but how my inner man might be nourished. I may share the truth with the unconverted; I may try to encourage believers; I may relieve the distressed; or I may, in other ways seek to behave as a child of God; yet, not being happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, may result in this work being done in a wrong spirit.
The same is true for us. We could spend our entire lifetime soulwinning, serving the pastor, and doing good deeds for others, but without a daily walk with God, we would never know the abundant life that God wants to give. God wants us to serve others and minister to their spiritual and physical needs. But He wants to first meet our need for daily fellowship with Him. He wants us to spend personal time in His Word and talk to Him in prayer. Start fellowshipping with God daily to experience the abundant life that you desire.
And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. A young salesman was disappointed about losing a big sale, and as he talked with his sales manager he complained, "I guess it just proves you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
Your job is to make him thirsty. There are people all around us thirsting for the water of life-only, they don't know that this is what they need. They search for something to fill the emptiness inside, but nothing satisfies. They strive to quench their inner thirst with pleasure, money, or good works, but they still feel parched inside.
As Christians, we have experienced the refreshing, thirst-quenching of the water of life-Jesus Christ Himself. The blood of Christ has cleansed us from every sinful stain of the past and has given us the assurance of a heavenly home. But, how good are we at inviting others to the water of life? When others look at our lives do they want what we have?
Do we make lost souls thirsty for the Gospel? Too many Christians who preach the Gospel with their lips, do not live with the power of the Gospel in their daily lives. Such inconsistency actually serves to repel people from the very Gospel they need. Jesus said, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" John We as Christians have the amazing privilege to tell hopeless, thirsting souls about the water of life.
Remember, though, as you share the water of life, to live in such a way that others will want what you have. Growth and victory in the Christian life is the fruit of faith. Faith is what enables us to live in the victorious reality of the promises of God, rather than in our feeble efforts that sooner or later bring defeat. Faith is vital to our Christian lives. How can we develop faith? Read and meditate on the Word of God. The primary nourisher of faith is God's Word. Romans plainly says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Maintain a right conscience toward God. A person who is living in private sin or even open rebellion will always have doubts of what God may do for him. No matter how he hides or justifies his sin, he knows he cannot claim God's promises with confidence. Psalm says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. Do not run from your trials of faith. God sometimes allows trying circumstances into our lives that He intends to use to strengthen our faith. James challenges us to not run from these but to allow God to do His work through them: "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Let God be your deliverer. Faith refuses to see only the surrounding circumstances and looks past them to God's mighty power. Every time we experience God's deliverance, our faith is strengthened, and our God is glorified.
Victory in the Christian life is not based on our strength. It is the product of faith, and faith comes as we choose to know and claim the promises of God. One unknown author wrote, "Has it ever struck you that we trust the word of our fellow-man more easily than we trust God's Word? We take at face value the statements of our friends, co-workers, family members, doctor, news announcers How is it then that we fail to believe the words of our God?
Hebrews 11 records many of the heroes of the Old Testament. But it reminds us that the great exploits for God by these heroes were all accomplished "by faith. They were ordinary men and women who had faith in their great God. They simply took God at His Word, and they acted in obedience to His commands. Do you find yourself paralyzed and seemingly unable to obey God because you are afraid of the outcome? Mark it down, you can count on God's promises. Trust Him. Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China in the s once said, "God is not looking for men of great faith, only some common souls like you or me who are willing to trust in His great faithfulness.
Faith is simply trusting God. The Christian who walks in faith is not necessarily talented or gifted-just someone willing to trust God. We each face temptation every day. Sometimes it even seems as if there is no escape. Yet, Joseph in the Old Testament provides a sterling example for all of us. His purity, even in the face of great temptation, shows us how we can resist wrong and overcome temptation.
Joseph refused to do wrong. Over and over he said "no" to Potiphar's wife. I Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. To resist wrong, you must continually say, "No! Joseph set boundaries against wrong. Joseph knew his moral boundaries, and in Genesis he told Potiphar's wife, "Neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife.
Don't wait until Satan tempts you to establish biblical boundaries. Rather set boundaries for your life before you are in the place of temptation. Joseph was conscious of God's presence. He viewed sin as a direct offense toward God. This is why he said, " The best motivation for avoiding sin is realizing that sin is ultimately against God. Avoiding sin for your family or job is good, but avoiding sin for God is best! Joseph may have lost his coat, but he kept his character. You and I can likewise resist temptation by following Joseph's example.
What a wonderful privilege to know Jesus Christ personally! Because of salvation we will someday enjoy a home in Heaven, a sinless body, and eternity with Christ. We all look forward to our future with Jesus Christ, but it's easy to forget about the benefits of salvation for today. Let's take a moment to remember a few of the many blessings we can enjoy every day as Christians. We have access to God's power. In Romans , the Apostle Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
As we yield to His work in us, His power transforms us to the image of Christ. We have access to God's presence. Andrew Murray once said, "My prayer receives worth from being rooted in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Remember that you don't have to wait until Heaven to talk to God—you can talk to Him right now and enjoy His presence. We have access to God's plan. People around us are wandering aimlessly through life because they have no real purpose without Jesus.
As Christians we know that God's plan is for us to bring Him glory with our lives. Take joy in knowing that God has a purpose for every day of your life, and follow Him as He leads you. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. A faithful churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of his newspaper complaining about going to church every Sunday. He wrote, "I've gone for thirty years now, and in that time I have heard something like three thousand sermons.
But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. In that time my wife has cooked some thirty-two thousand meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. Biblical preaching nourishes our souls and strengthens us spiritually.
It gives a spiritual charge to face trials or temptations throughout our week. It focuses our hearts and minds on the Lord and renews thinking through His Word. God wants to nourish and strengthen you through His Word, and preaching is one of God's methods of giving His children the nutrients they need. God's Word says, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained" I Timothy God desires to speak to us through the preaching of His Word.
But we must make it a priority in our lives, listening with an open heart. Ask yourself, do I go to church to hear from God? Or do I think of church attendance as just another weekly obligation? Preaching is a powerful tool that God uses to grow us spiritually. Make preaching a priority for you and your family. At one church, coffee was always served after the sermon. One Sunday the pastor asked a child if he knew why they had coffee hour. Without hesitating, the youngster replied, "To wake people up before they have to drive home.
A truly born again child of God delights to be with the people of God. But when we forget the value of the church, church attendance becomes more of a duty than a delight. How can you keep your love for your church strong? Remember that Christ died for the church. Acts says, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.
That alone speaks volumes as to its value! Realize that Christ loves the church. Ephesians , reminds us how much Christ loved the church: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Give of yourself to your church.
You will find that the more of yourself that you invest in your church, the more you will love it. Fully commit yourself to faithful attendance. Pray for your pastor, and look for ways to encourage him.
Give financially to the Lord through your church. Ask for an avenue of service in the church. In short, invest yourself in your church. One of God's most precious gifts to us is the local church. Thank Christ for giving His life for the church, and ask Him to help you love it like He does.
Someone once said, "Every church is filled with willing people-some willing to work, and others willing to let them. As Christians, we have the privilege of serving the Lord by laboring in our local church.
And what's more, when we serve others, the Lord sees and promises to reward us for it. Here are three ways you can invest yourself in laboring for the Lord. Labor in your ministries. Whether you teach a Sunday school class, serve on a bus route, or clean the church, do it with all your heart. The work of the Lord is an eternally enduring work, so why not give Him one hundred percent? Labor in your witness. A wise person said, "Every saved person this side of heaven owes the Gospel to every lost person this side of hell.
Keep Gospel tracts handy to give to those you meet throughout the day, and always be ready to share the Gospel with those you meet. Labor in your giving. Giving to the Lord in tithes and offerings not only provides for the work of the Lord, but sacrificial giving also increases our faith. When we trust God with our finances, we will see Him bless us and meet all our needs. Whatever you give to the Lord's work is an eternal investment, so labor in your giving and watch the windows of heaven pour out blessings on your life.
By laboring in your church you can encourage your pastor, strengthen your church, and experience the joy of the Lord in your own life. Give yourself wholeheartedly to serving the Lord. A man dialed a wrong number and got the following recording: "I am not available right now, but I thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep.
If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes. Isn't it wonderful to know that our God never changes? He's never too busy to listen, never too weak to help, and never too unloving to care. He is the same God of yesterday. The same God who delivered Daniel from the lion's den, David from Goliath, and the children of Israel from Pharoah is our God right now. We can look back through the pages of Scripture and see that God has always been faithful.
He is the same today.
Encounter with Jesus on the moon left astronaut changed | God Reports
Things all around us change every day. Our friends change, our jobs change, politics change, economies change, our bodies change, the weather changes. Our life is full of constant change. But what a comfort to know that God never changes. He is always faithful, always present, and always loving.
He will be the same forever. No matter what trial you face in your future, God will be there with you. We can be comforted in knowing that God will never leave us. Hebrews says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. God will be the same for all eternity, and we can rest in His faithfulness.
What a privilege it is to serve a God who never changes. Anchor your hope in Him, and claim His promises for today. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Bob Hughes spent his life spreading God's Word as a missionary in the Philippines. Once while home in the States, he spoke to a group of college young people. Hughes had been diagnosed with cancer, and the doctors had given him little time to live. He said to the young people, "I have gone. I have given my life, but it looks as though the Lord will call me home soon.
I need someone to go and replace me in the Philippines. Rick Martin committed to follow God's leading to the Philippines, where he ministers even today. As a Christian, your life is guided by the Holy Spirit's work in your life, but if you aren't careful, you can often tune out God's leading. God desires to speak to you through His Word and by His Spirit. If you aren't in tune with God and daily walking in His Spirit, you can miss His leading.
Acts 16 shows us how the Holy Spirit led Paul to minister in Macedonia which led to a great work in that region. Rick Martin listened to the Holy Spirit through the preaching of Dr. Hughes and has seen over three hundred churches started in the Philippines. Are you daily listening to the Spirit's leading? Are you reading God's Word and attentively listening to it being preached? Keep a tender heart to God's work and follow whatever direction He leads you. You'll never go wrong by following the Holy Spirit.
Lydia worked hard as a businesswoman who ran a textile company. She had a busy life, yet the Lord had been working in her heart. Lydia did not know the Lord, but she had an open heart and was seeking for peace and meaning in life.
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As Paul preached in the region of Macedonia, Lydia listened to his preaching and her heart was opened by the Lord. The word heard in Acts is a past imperfect tense verb, which indicates that Lydia had probably heard the Gospel message more than once. Many people are at different points of spiritual receptivity. God calls us all to minister to other people and spread His Gospel. But it is He alone who works in hearts to affect change.
As often as we go soulwinning or as passionate as we are to see souls saved, only God can change hearts and bring people to salvation. Being faithful without seeing immediate results can become discouraging, but God promises that as you follow Him, He will bless your faithfulness. Rather than becoming discouraged, pray that God will work in the hearts of those around you.
Be faithful to share the Gospel, and trust God to convict hearts of His truth. And she constrained us. Early in our years as a married couple, Terrie and I had the opportunity to drive out to Salton Sea, California, each weekend to preach to a small group of people who met in one of their homes. The group expanded, and eventually we planted a church there. The first people we saw saved in that area were Fred and Alice Riley.
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One Sunday morning as I was late coming in for the prayer meeting before the service, Fred, with a caring heart asked, "Pastor Paul, how come you're late? After lunch, Fred approached me, "Pastor Paul, Alice and I have a nice motorhome that we'd like to bring down to this house. You could stay here on Saturday night, and you won't have to drive so much. The first to receive Paul's message in Macedonia, Lydia, was likewise willing to share of her resources.
After she trusted Christ, she immediately offered Paul and his companions her hospitality. She didn't know everything about the Bible nor was she well versed in Christianity, but she gave of what she had to help others. Perhaps the most basic of God's commands is to love your neighbor. No matter who someone is or what they have, God desires that you would love them and show that love through giving. God desires that His children would show His love through being a blessing to those around them. Who can you be an encourager to by sharing your resources?
Follow Lydia's example of hospitality, and be a blessing to others. Right after Paul and those with him saw Lydia saved, they faced opposition. Acts 16 says they faced a demon-possessed girl who began mocking their ministry. This girl had the "spirit of divination" meaning she was similar to our modern day fortune tellers. She followed Paul around town, mocking him and those preaching Christ's message. It is not uncommon to face opposition in life. Even right after a victory or a joyous event, the devil can strike at your joy and seek to shift your focus.
Weak Christians are thrown with every up and down in life, but the rooted Christian will recognize the devil's attack and remain focused on God's work. Our country had much religious influence in her younger days. Even schools like Dartmouth, Yale, and Harvard had the original purpose of teaching God's Word but have since shifted focus. If we aren't careful, we can allow people or circumstances to shift our focus from God. Whether you're a missionary in a foreign land or a teacher in the public school system, every one of us will encounter people who have rejected Christ and resist our message.
They may not come in the form of witch doctors or demon-possessed people, but there are people who wish to mock your faith and divert your focus from serving God. Has the devil been seeking to steal your focus off God's plan? It can come in many different ways, but be wise to the devil's tricks and determine to remain focused on God through all of life's variations.
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. My uncle serves as a county commissioner where he lives in Colorado. He told me recently of legislation that mandates that cities and counties must give money for re-training the local Native Americans in the spirit beliefs of their ancestors. The government is so consumed with trying to be politically correct that they are helping to put people back into the practices that spiritually enslaved them for so long.
For years Christians have worked to free people from the bondage of false religion and sin by preaching Jesus Christ, yet now the government is leading people right back into bondage. God gave clear instructions in Deuteronomy that the children of Israel were to enter the Promised Land but were not to take on the customs of the unsaved inhabitants.
They had their belief in God and followed His commands, and although they lived in a sinful land, they were to remain true to God's Words. We have been given a task as God's children. He desires that we would serve Him here on earth and remain faithful to His call and commands. It doesn't take much to see the sin rampant in our world, but while we are living in this world, God calls us to be separate from the practices of the world.
Just as God commanded the Israelites, He desires that you would abstain from the sinful practices of this world. Daily seek His protection from sin's attacks and remain rooted in His truth. When Terrie and I first moved to Lancaster we lived in a small apartment that smelled of the previous tenants' pets. One summer day, the temperature was about degrees outside and the swamp cooler was broken.
When I came home for lunch, I noticed that Terrie was pale in the face. Thinking it was the heat or the smell of the apartment, I asked her what was wrong. Terrie told the lady that we were the new residents and that's when the lady flipped out onto the floor.
She started rolling around and screaming while foaming at the mouth. It could have been a medical condition or it could have just been the devil's opposition to what God was about to do in the city of Lancaster. The devil has a very real presence in this world. While he cannot keep you from heaven if you're saved, he still seeks to keep you from following God's will for your life. He will do whatever to keep God from being glorified. Every day, the devil seeks to attack and destroy you.
While this might seem daunting, remember, you have God's power at your disposal! Hebrews 4 tells us that God's Word is powerful enough to ward off even the most powerful of Satan's attacks. Don't overlook the importance of studying God's Word each day. It's your protection against Satan. Take time to protect your heart with Scripture, and commit to answering each of Satan's attacks with God's truth.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. In June of , things went terribly wrong for missionaries Martin and Gracia Brunham as the couple were captured by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines. The terrorists kept the Brunhams in jungle captivity for days while the Philippine army pursued the terrorists and eventually surrounded the group.
As the Scout Rangers opened fire, Martin and Gracia sought shelter. Both were caught in crossfire. Gracia was shot in the leg, but Martin was fatally hit in the chest. After being taken back to the States, Gracia shared how just before the shootout and while both were in captivity, Martin told her, "The Bible says to serve the Lord with gladness. Let's go out all the way. Let's serve Him all the way with gladness.
Most of us will never know the level of persecution and terror that Martin and Gacia Brunham experienced, yet we all face trials and difficult times in life. Our trials might come in the form of a wayward child, a lost job, a health crisis, a cross-country move, a dying loved one, a financial meltdown, or another burden to carry. The unsaved person has no hope during trials and is left to face them alone, but as God's children, we have reason to rejoice in even the darkest of nights. Whatever your trial, you can still rejoice even through the pain. Psalm tells us to serve the Lord with gladness and approach God with singing.
Those commands aren't based on how well life is working out for us, but based on the inherent goodness of our God. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. When Paul started preaching God's message in Macedonia, people began to take notice.
Most notably, the owners of a demon possessed girl who trusted Christ took notice, and they didn't like what was happening. Christ had changed the girl's life and these men were left without a means of income. These men made all sort of false accusations against Paul and had him thrown in jail. Roman imprisonment was preceded by being stripped and then beaten until the prisoner was bloody.
Most cells were dark and damp. Unbearable cold, lack of water, cramped quarters, and sickening stench from few toilets made sleeping difficult and waking hours miserable. Because of the miserable conditions, many prisoners begged for a speedy death. Others simply committed suicide. If anyone faced opposition, it was Paul.
The irony? Paul was a Roman citizen which made his imprisonment against Roman law. Paul had reason to curse what was happening yet he kept his faith. When God's work abounds, the devil's work goes down. Most people don't mind if you're religious. People don't mind if you attend church or believe the Bible.
It's when you actively live out God's commands and spread His Word that feathers get ruffled, and the devil sends opposition. You can't control what opposition you face but you can control how you react to it. God desires for you to remain faithful even during opposition all to His glory. What opposition are you facing today? Commit to keeping your testimony and remaining faithful even during hard times. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
Oswald Chambers once wrote the following about trials, "Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace. We all face trials and times of persecution. Even Paul was wrongfully imprisoned and beaten unlawfully as he preached the Gospel. But whether the persecution is unwarranted or even illegal, God shows us that we can give Him praise during difficult times.
First Peter is a needful passage for those facing difficulties, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. How can someone sing praise during a time of sorrow?
Praise often comes after prayer. During trials, your best course of action is to spend much time in God's presence. Pour your heart out to Him. Tell Him of your trials and seek His help. God alone can help you during difficulties and He should be the first one you turn to. As Oswald Chambers noted, God doesn't always remove trials. Sometimes His work can only be accomplished as you face the difficulty.
So more than praying for God's deliverance, pray for God's strength to praise Him. Have you praised God during your trial? Bathe yourself in prayer and glorify God's goodness in your life despite the outside circumstances in your life. Many colorful floats are built by companies to entertain guests and promote their business. But one year, the entire parade was held up as one of the floats ran out of gas in the middle of the event.
Ironically, the float was built by the Standard Oil Company. A company known for powering vehicles had their own vehicle run out of power. When you think about the power of God, you can become overwhelmed at just how great our God is. He formed the world from nothing, orders everything that happens, and takes notice of even the smallest of changes in the world. And that doesn't even begin to describe how powerful God is. In the grand scheme of the world, we are but minute beings on the face of earth, yet God shows that He cares about every detail of our lives.
God cares if you're facing a trial. He cares if you're going through a tough time. He cares if you need wisdom to make a life-changing decision. God cares about you. Never take for granted the fact that God is interested in every aspect of your life. God has the power to change the world, and He engages that power on your behalf if you will but ask Him for help. No one in this world loves you as much as God does and no one can help you like God can.
He's promised to help. All you must do is seek His power. Take some time today to seek God's help in your life. He has the power to help in your difficult situation, and He delights to help you. A pastor of a large church was dedicated to preaching God's Word as he began his ministry. As the ministry began to grow, he realized that not everyone agreed with the strong preaching of God's Word. Every week he'd receive letters criticizing his messages.
Some said they were too strong. Some said they should be mellowed out to appeal to a wider base. And some said the pastor should take a more loving approach. As time went on, the pastor soon noticed that the letters became fewer and the criticism was less. Convicted that this was a sign he had not been challenging his congregation enough, he stated, "I'm afraid that when I'm pleasing everybody, I'm not pleasing the Lord and pleasing the Lord is what counts.
Church is a great place to gather and fellowship with like-minded people. It's great to develop friendships with people who are saved and seeking to live holy lives. But when attending church, there should be a focus on preaching. Sometimes we can become so caught up in the events of church that we forget the focus of church-listening to God's Word. The preaching of God's Word is one of the most important weekly activities in our lives. It strengthens us for battles, cleans us from the world, equips us for living, and guides us on our journey.
Value the preaching of God's Word. Open your heart to God's leading before every message and make preaching a priority. God's Word is a great asset in life, but it does no good if you aren't actively listening to it and heeding its commands. Evaluate your attitude toward preaching. While working in the activities of the church is great, keep your focus on the meat of God's Word during preaching.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. Paul and Silas were faithfully following God. They hadn't strayed from God's calling like Jonah. They hadn't modified God's plans like Saul. They were preaching God's Word when they were thrown into prison. From a human standpoint, Paul and Silas had every right to be upset, to question God, and to wonder why.
Yet these men spent their time in prison honoring God. In the midst of pain, confusion, uncertainty, and injustice, they praised God. As a result of their testimony, the Philippine jailer and his entire household came to know Christ. Had Paul and Silas focused on their own problems they would never had experienced the blessing of seeing this man saved. Had they not been singing and praising God, they would have missed out on the miracle of salvation. When we're wronged it's easy to focus on the circumstance and ask why. Human nature wants us to fight back, to figure a way out, and to seek revenge.
But God calls us to trust Him with the problem and continue serving Him. We have the choice of either becoming upset and bitter during injustice or trusting God and seeing His ultimate plan. When you experience injustice, realize that God has a greater purpose in your hurt. He wants to work through you to show His goodness to those around you. People notice when you respond to hate with kindness. God wants to use you. How will you react to injustice? Like Paul and Silas, sing God's praises and continue serving Him.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. The verb rejoice is found ninety-six times in the New Testament including those times when used as a greeting. Also, the noun joy is used another fifty-nine times. It's easy to see that God puts a priority on joy and on the believer experiencing a life of joy. Joy isn't a feeling or emotion based on circumstances; it is a state of being, a gift from the Holy Spirit. God has given us joy through the Holy Spirit and we must look to Him for joy each day.
God points to Himself in John 15 as the source of joy. Because of who He is, what He's done, and where you're going one day, you can have joy. Schedules frustrate, meetings bore, problems anger, responsibilities overwhelm, and life is hectic. But even when you are swamped or things don't go your way, God desires for you to experience His joy. Unconditional joy is not found in yourself, your surroundings, or others; it is from God. What situation on earth is so terrible that it overshadows the joy of knowing one day you'll live with God forever in Heaven?
What can be so bad that knowing Christ cannot bring you joy? If we were truthful, we'd have to admit that our lack of joy comes from focusing on earthly problems rather than God's goodness. Take a few minutes to consider the goodness of God. Focus on Him today and allow His joy to fill your life. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
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