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Enduring Faith

Everyone has faith. You have faith that the lights will come on when you flick the switch, and when you turn the door knob, you have faith that the door is going to open. Christians and non-Christians alike have that kind of faith. However, not everyone has faith in God.


The kind of faith the Bible talks about is centered on believing in God. Hebrews 11:6 says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Here we see three elements of a faith that pleases God: (1) we must believe that He exists; (2) we must believe that He rewards; and (3) we must believe that He will reward us when we seek Him.


Faith Is
“Faith is,” Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It is the confidence that things yet unseen will happen as God said they will. It involves accepting God’s perspective as He reveals it in the Bible.


When there was nothing, God created everything. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Colossians 1:16-17 builds on that same thought, saying, “All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”


This is our God. He is the One who created the entire universe. He is all-powerful, and nothing is too difficult for Him; yet, He cares about you and will reward you when you earnestly seek Him. He holds the universe together, and He is willing and able to see you through the problems you face.


Faith Goes Through
No one has the luxury of going through a problem-free life. The psalmist wrote, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19). Just knowing that God’s plan is to deliver you from every trouble you face should make it a bit easier to have an enduring faith.


In Isaiah 43:1-2, God said, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Water and fire are sometimes used in the scriptures to represent calamity; water, because it overwhelms and fire, because it consumes. Though these promises were spoken to Israel, they also have implications for us today. God wants you to know that no matter how overwhelming or consuming your problems are, He will be with you and will help you safely through to the other side.


Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were the three Hebrew men who would not bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Daniel 3:8-25). There is no doubt that God had the power to prevent these godly men from being thrown in the fiery furnace, but instead, He chose to join them in the fire. Not only did they all survive, but we learn from Daniel 3:27 that not a single hair on their heads was singed – and they didn’t even smell like smoke when they came out!


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made it through the fire unscathed because they placed their faith in God. They said, “We know our God is able to deliver us…but even if He doesn’t, yet will we serve Him!” They were so steadfast in their faith that even the threat of a certain death could not persuade them to give up.


Faith Doesn’t Doubt
Your faith in God will help you rise above any hardship you face. 1 John 5:4 (NKJV) says, “…this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” Faith overcomes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that God will always immediately intervene when we call on Him. Sometimes God changes us on the inside first, helping us develop an enduring faith by focusing on Him and His Word.


There was a couple who wanted to have children. They had been married over nine years and had undergone years of unsuccessful medical procedures. Despite the fact that doctors gave them no hope, they didn’t give up on their faith. They believed that the same God who rewarded Abraham and Sarah’s faith by giving them children when they were well past childbearing age (Genesis 21:2, Hebrews 11:11), would reward their faith as well.


On a daily basis, this couple faced the choice that every believer faces when in the midst of adversity: “Do I believe what the circumstances say, or do I keep on believing God?” It was not always easy, but they learned to consistently rely on God’s promises rather than to give in to discouragement and doubt. God rewarded their faith and intervened where medical science could not. Their two daughters are wonderful testimonies of God’s faithfulness.


Just as their faith sustained them, your faith is designed to help you endure anything. That is how the Apostle Paul could say that he was “content” no matter what state he was in (Philippians 4:11) His faith gave him a vision of victory in his heart so he could endure until his circumstances changed.


Faith Endures Hardship
Speaking of Paul, his life is an excellent example of how faith in God can help a believer endure hardship. He wrote, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea, and I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).


Even through the worst of all those circumstances, Paul did not lose sight of his victory. He even encouraged others saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Despite tremendous hardship, Paul’s enduring faith helped him remain confident in God through every trial.


Finally…
Your enemy, the devil, wants to discourage you and make you doubt God. He does his best to convince you that your marriage will never improve… that your kids will never come back to the Lord… that you will always be sick… that you’ll never have enough money, etc. Far too often, we believe the devil’s lies.


Christians must resist the devil and develop an enduring faith in the God who can do the impossible. No problem, difficulty, or struggle that you face is bigger than God, so in the midst of trouble, draw even closer to Him. The closeness of His presence will enable you to remain strong through more than you thought possible. Rest assured that He will not allow you to be tried beyond the strength He gives you. Just as sure as the trial comes, you can be sure God will provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).


By faith, release your concerns, cares and worries to God through prayer. Trust Him. He is faithful to do what His Word promises, and He will give you the faith to endure until your victory is complete!

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Overcoming Offenses

Everyone has opportunities to be offended from time to time. For those who are quick to forgive, such offenses are no big deal; but those who are unforgiving often live with continually hurt feelings. Some walk around like time bombs, ready to explode – or implode – whenever their short fuses are lit.


So many people are affected by the bitterness that can result from unresolved offenses that I was prompted to write the book, “Get the Junk Out of Your Trunk.” God has used it to help many people receive healing from the crippling effects of bitterness. It’s my prayer that this article, written in the same spirit as the book, will help you live your best life: a life that is free from the pain of past, present and future offenses.


Offenses Will Come
In Luke 17:1, Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come.” He wanted us to know that stumbling-blocks, traps, and hindrances are inevitable so we would be quick to forgive when we are criticized, mistreated or abused.


Jesus also addressed the serious side-effects of allowing ourselves to be offended. He said that in the end times “…many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10-12).


There are always consequences when we don’t forgive. Did you notice the progression that Jesus said accompanies being offended? After the offense comes betrayal, then hatred, lawlessness, and finally, love grows cold.


No one wakes up one day and says, “Today, I’m going to hate them,” or “Today, I’m going to let my love toward God grow cold.” But gradually, the spiritual consequences for harboring offenses will take a toll.


James 3:16 says, “Where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” Believe me, you don’t want to live with “confusion and every evil thing” in your life! That’s why the Bible instructs us to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV).


As you strive to live in peace with God and those around you, God’s grace can keep offense from dividing your family, wrecking your friendships, breaking up your marriage, or destroying your church.


Dealing With Offenses
Matthew 18:15-17 instructs us what to do when someone offends us: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”


As we follow the steps Jesus outlined, it is possible to live a peaceful life. Let’s study these steps:

1. Go to the one who has offended you. Jesus said in Matthew 18:15 that we should go to them. Our motive should not be just to seek justice, but to believe the best and seek restoration. Remember, “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” (1 Corinthians 13:7 AMP).


Notice that Jesus told us to go by ourselves. Often, what seemed like an offense may have simply been a misunderstanding. By not involving others, we show God’s love and concern for the offender. If they repent, their reputation will have been spared. At that point, express your forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4) and let the matter be forever settled in your heart. If they don’t repent, forgive them anyway, and continue to seek restoration.


2. Go again, taking someone with you. This fulfills Matthew 18:16 which tells us to take “one or two more” with you. Having an impartial witness helps bring out the truth. If they repent, only the two of you and one other person know what has happened, and their reputation has still been salvaged.


3. Talk with church leadership. If the offender still has not repented, Jesus said in Matthew 18:17 that we should “tell it to the church.” This does not mean that we should talk about it with everyone we meet! Jesus was referring to us going to a pastor or church leader so they can help reconcile the offender with God – and you.


When You’ve Offended Someone
Even though you are seeking to live a pure and godly life, people will sometimes be offended by your words or actions. As soon as you become aware that someone has been wounded, you should do what you can to initiate reconciliation.


We read previously that Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come…” but He continued on to say, “…woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2). The consequences for offending others are severe, and those who habitually offend others will eventually reap what they have sown.


Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:23-24 that our relationships should be reconciled before we worship. It says, “…if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Even if it was a misunderstanding and you did not mean to cause harm, it is Biblical for you to go to them.

It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for their response. Whether or not they choose to forgive you, your part is the same: go to them with a sincere heart for restoration.


Finally…
We should always remember that love is the answer for offenses as we’re told in 1 Peter 4:8 that “love will cover a multitude of sins.” It’s unfortunate that offenses occur, but Isaiah 26:3 indicates that when we keep our focus on God and His Word, He will keep us in perfect peace.


It’s our prayer that you will resolve issues quickly with the following points in mind:


Peace and Unity. In Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV), Paul urges us to “…live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”


Issues left unsettled destroy marriages and families, keep people from coming to the Lord and even grieve the Holy Spirit. That’s why Ephesians 4:30-32 commands us, “…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.”


Spiritual Well-Being. In 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NIV), Paul wrote, “If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” Forgiving others is vital to our own spiritual well-being and can affect the well-being of others. When we resolve issues quickly, we shut the door on Satan.


Restoration. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God’s heart is always for restoration, so we should always do our best to restore those who are offended.


It’s obvious that hurtful things will still occasionally happen, but we don’t have to let ourselves be offended by them. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive…and let the Lord be your source of peace in every situation. Remember: “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165 KJV).

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Miracles in Your Mouth

For years, the world’s largest circulated magazine, Reader’s Digest, has offered its valuable feature, “IT PAYS TO ENRICH YOUR WORD POWER.” The column has stood the test of time because everyone always has room to expand their vocabulary. The editors once quoted H.D. Hoover, director of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, as saying, “A well-developed vocabulary is at the heart of all learning and at the heart of every test.” It is true in the natural, and it is true in the supernatural.


When it comes to our faith, it is not the size of our vocabulary, but the source of our vocabulary that is important. Think about the common expression, “words fail me.” In the natural, this happens when the speaker has a thought to convey, but just cannot seem to find the right way to communicate it fully to his audience. In the supernatural, our words fail us when they do not reflect the thoughts of God on any given subject.


The words we speak are like the rudder of a ship and will determine the direction our lives take. When we learn to agree in our hearts with God and say what He says about our situations, we will pass the tests of life with flying colors!


Power to Change Situations

When people are in situations where breakthrough is needed, they often hope for a miracle. Really, what they are looking for is a quick fix to a problem they are stuck in as a result of their words. Fortunately, if they turn their hearts in the right direction and align their words with what God says, a miracle can begin in their mouths.


The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4:12, “the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword.” The Word has the ability to change situations. In fact, that is exactly what happened when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. If you remember, Lazarus had been dead four days by the time Jesus came to the place where his body lay. After the stone had been rolled away, Jesus acknowledged the fact that His Father always heard Him, and then cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” John 11:44 records the result that “he who had died came out!” It was the power of God’s Word that changed the situation.


Your church, your pastor, your doctor, or your friends cannot change you. You can even pray for hours, but if you are only telling God the details of your problem, change will not come. When you pray, agree with what God says and pray the solution instead of the problem. Just as it was the Word of God that brought Lazarus out of the grave, it is the Word that will affect your situation. God’s Word is more powerful than any problem or bondage, and it becomes powerful in your life when it is spoken.


You Get What You Say

Spiritually speaking, words are always powerful. Proverbs 18:20-21 says, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” In James 3:5, it says our words act like dry wood to a fire when he wrote, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” You need to understand and harness the power of what you say.


When you speak negatively, you are helping the devil strike the match to bring about destruction in your life. Sometimes people even die as a result of their words. They say things like, “Everybody in my family dies of cancer. My grandfather died of cancer, my uncle died of cancer, and my brother died of cancer. I’ll probably get cancer and die just like they did.” However, when you speak positively, agreeing with what the Word of God says, you are lighting the fuse of God’s dynamite power to bring about victory in your situation. Now, faced with the same family medical history, you can proclaim, “He Himself took my infirmities and bore my sicknesses,” and “by His stripes I’m healed!” The choice is yours.


What you say opens or closes the door to God’s promises being fulfilled in your life. Jesus said, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘be removed and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:22-23) He literally said, if you believe in your heart, and don’t doubt, and you keep your confession right, you will have it. Think about this: God says in Isaiah 57:19, that when you speak something, He creates the fruit of your lips. Imagine that! God literally makes what you say happen!


Abraham’s Example

Abraham is one of my favorite examples of God’s faithfulness, but the thing I want you to notice is that God’s promise didn’t “just happen” in his life. As you may recall, Abraham and Sarah tried diligently for seventy years to have a child – with no effect. God had promised him he would be the father of many nations, but all the physical evidence was stacked against him. Only a miracle could bring God’s promise to pass.


The miracle didn’t come until Abraham began speaking forth what God promised. He openly declared that God was going to make him the father of many nations, and he stood firm as is written in Romans 4:20, “Abraham did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief.” He agreed with what God had spoken in spite of all the circumstances that seemed against him. Then, despite the impossibility of the situation, God “called those things which were not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17) Isaac was born, and Abraham received his miracle!


Receiving Your Miracle

Here is how miracles happen:
1. You receive a promise from God.

2. A situation arises saying what God has promised can’t come to pass. (The devil is trying to steal the Word.)

3. You choose to believe God’s promise.

4. You stand on His promise and confess His promise.

5. God brings the promise into manifestation in spite of everything that was opposed to it.


God has a promise for everything you will ever need. The devil has a plan to try to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) – he’ll do whatever it takes to keep you from receiving God’s promise. If you do nothing, the devil will get his way. But if you choose to believe God and stand on His promise, saying what He says, God will bring it to pass and you’ll experience abundant life.


Suppose your checkbook says, “You’re broke!” and your financial advisor tells you that you’re going to have to file bankruptcy. Yet, you know God says He will provide for all your needs. Who are you going to agree with? What are you going to say? What if the doctor tells you there is no cure for what you have, yet you know the Bible says God will heal all your diseases? Who will you believe, and what words will come out of your mouth?


The next time you are faced with adverse circumstances, remember God is faithful, He loves you, and He is watching over His Word to perform it. Open up your Bible and find the promise God has in place to cover your need. Believe it and begin speaking it. Don’t let your words fail you – the miracle you need is in your mouth!

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Freedom through Forgiveness

One of the best things you can do to have a good and happy life is to take a few minutes each night to forgive everybody of everything they did that affected you adversely during the day. When you do this, you keep yourself free from all the emotional and spiritual stress that comes from holding on to unforgiveness.

Unfortunately, when someone has offended you, forgiveness is usually the furthest thing from your mind – and the hardest thing to do. Because you feel angry, hurt and betrayed, your flesh would rather find a way to make them pay for what they have done.

While forgiveness may be far from your mind, it is never far from God’s. How could He forget that He has given you forgiveness of all your sins – past, present and future – through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ? According to Romans 6:6, Jesus broke the power of sin over our lives so we wouldn’t have to live as slaves to sin. He also forgave us so that we can forgive others.

Why Should I Forgive?
If for no other reason, you should forgive because Jesus said to. You’ve probably recited the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 many times, but if you are like most people, you like the “forgive us our trespasses” part a lot better than the “as we forgive those who trespass against us” part. Like it or not, though, the Biblical pattern is, “Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

You and I should also forgive because a lack of forgiveness spoils lives. Hebrews 12:14-15 tells us we should pursue peace with all people “lest a root of bitterness spring up causing trouble, and by this many become defiled.” When you don’t forgive, an ugly root begins to form inside you. As you carry the grudge, that root begins to grow and cause trouble for you, for your family and for everyone around you.

You might think that by not forgiving someone, you are getting even or causing them some of the same pain you’ve felt. Actually, the person you hurt the most is you. By refusing to forgive, you open the door for Satan to have access into your life. Depression, fear, sickness, problems with your family, and financial problems are some of the many common results of unforgiveness.

I once knew a man who had become extremely angry and refused to forgive someone who had offended him. Since the incident, a tumor had developed in his body, and he faced a serious surgery. When confronted with what God’s Word says about forgiving others, he realized that he needed to make the choice to forgive. Within an hour of praying to forgive the man who had hurt him, the tumor left his body – he was completely healed!

The effect of forgiving someone isn’t always seen that quickly, but freedom always comes when you choose to forgive.

Who Should I Forgive?
In Mark 11:25-26, Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” This scripture covers it all. There are no other options. Anytime anyone hurts you, no matter how deep the hurt, you are to forgive.

Think about what happened to Joseph. In Genesis 37 and the chapters that follow, you can see many reasons why Joseph could have become a very bitter man. His brothers hated him and sold him as a slave. Next, his master’s wife falsely accused him of a serious crime, and he ended up in prison. Then, a government official promised to help him but instead left him in prison to rot. Regardless of all these things, Joseph didn’t allow unforgiveness and bitterness to take root in his life. He forgave everyone who did anything against him and went on to fulfill the destiny God had for him.

Understanding Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not a feeling. Like Joseph, you must make a decision to forgive by faith. If you wait until you feel like forgiving, you may never forgive anybody for anything. Also, forgiveness is not merely pushing a memory to the back of your mind; that’s denial. Offenses and hurts must be dealt with so you can be free from them and the trouble they cause.

Forgiving someone does not negate their wrongdoing, but it puts the responsibility of judgment for their actions into God’s hands. That’s what Jesus did. Despite everything that had been done to Him, 1 Peter 2:23 tells us that “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Forgiveness is a choice. The Bible says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV). When you think about how much God has forgiven you, forgiving someone else seems much smaller!

Don’t be alarmed if your feelings don’t immediately line up with your choice to forgive. The same devil who tells you you’re no good because you haven’t forgiven someone will try to keep harassing you once you’ve chosen to forgive. Feelings are fickle, but they will stabilize as you follow through by speaking and acting out your choice to forgive.

Forgive Now
Choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The longer you carry a grudge, the more damage it does to you. Why risk a physical or emotional breakdown when you can choose to forgive now?

No matter how long ago you were hurt, whether the ones who offended you are living or dead, choose to forgive them. Don’t let unforgiveness and bitterness remain locked up inside your soul. As you line your will up with God’s, you’ll experience the freedom that comes through forgiving.

It doesn’t have to take days or weeks or years to forgive. You can do it right now, right where you are by praying this simple prayer out loud:

Father, I choose to forgive _____________ for everything they did that hurt me. I release them to you because you are the One who judges righteously. I trust you to work in their life and to draw them to you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Then What?
People often say, “All this sounds good, but what do I do once I’ve chosen to forgive?” Here are some helpful tips from God’s Word:

- Surrender the right to get even. “Do not avenge yourselves…vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

- Surrender your thoughts about the person “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

- Surrender your words regarding the person. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:29-31)

- Surrender your own resentment, anger, bitterness, self-pity, etc. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Finally…
Every human being has a deep, sometimes hidden, desire to be forgiven. Ernest Hemingway’s short story about the broken relationship between a Spanish father and his teenage son, Paco, highlights this desire.

Paco ran away from his home to Madrid, and his grieving father looked everywhere for him. In desperation, the father placed an ad in the Madrid newspaper that read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” The next morning, 800 hopeful men named Paco were standing in front of the newspaper office!

Someone needs your forgiveness right now, but even more, as you choose to forgive and surrender yourself to your loving heavenly Father, you’ll begin to experience the freedom that comes through forgiving.

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Dealing With Depression

With today’s economy Depression is on the rise. While doctors prescribe anti-depressants like candy to address the feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, and hopelessness that accompany depression. God’s word gives us insight on how to fight depression and walk in the joy and peace of the Spirit of God.


This article looks at depression as a spiritual issue and uses the Bible as our reference book. We acknowledge that some depression is medical and should be treated with prescriptions. Most is spiritual and needs to be treated from a Biblical and spiritual perspective.


In Acts 10:38 we are told that “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”


Illness, whether physical, mental or emotional, is oppression from the devil. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” If something is stealing, killing or destroying your quality of life, it must come from the devil since the Bible says Jesus wants you to have abundant life.


The spirits of depression and despair are evil. God’s will for you is to experience peace and joy. The Bible tells us “by his stripes, you are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Healing – even from depression and discouragement – is available to you now. Choose to receive it!


If this is true, why are so many people still depressed?

• Lack of knowledge. Many people do not realize that God wants them healed from depression and that His Word promises freedom.


• Rejecting God. If you depart from the Lord in your heart, depression can easily move into the vacant room in your heart. That is what happened when Saul rejected God. It says in 1 Samuel 16:14 that, “…a distressing spirit…troubled him.” The Living Bible said it was a “tormenting spirit” and that it filled him with fear and depression.


• Sin. Sin opens the door for the devil to attack. In John 5:14, we’re told that after Jesus healed a man and told him to pick up his bed and walk, He said, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” In Mathew 9:2, Jesus again related healing to sins being forgiven when he healed a paralyzed man and said, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” Remember this: Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and the only power Satan has over you is the power you let him have.


• Unbelief. In Mathew 9:22, Jesus told a woman who had been sick 12 years, “Your faith has made you well.”


• A broken heart. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” A broken, hopeless heart is ripe for depression.

“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Ps 29:11)


Strength and peace are blessings God promises His people, but you must receive them by having faith in God’s Word. You can’t pick and choose which scriptures you are going to believe. If you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross for your salvation, then believe all of God’s word. Choose to have faith in what the Bible says more than in what doctors say, what you have experienced, or what you’ve read elsewhere.


How You Can Get Free From Depression

1. Believe that Jesus Christ is your healer.


2. Decide that you don’t want to live with depression any longer. Deciding involves yielding to a willingness to give up everything that was used to steal, kill or destroy from you in exchange for the abundant life God says is yours. Anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety and the desire for retribution must go to make room for new, healthy thoughts. Remember: what controls the mind controls the man.


3. Identify the relationships and actions (or failures to act) of people that have hurt and disappointed you or caused hopelessness to invade your life. If there have been several, take them one at a time. Be Honest and identify how their actions or failure to act influenced you.


4. Choose to Forgive those who hurt you. You don’t forgive people because they’ve apologized or because they deserve to be forgiven, you forgive because God has forgiven you. You forgive because a lack of forgiveness develops bitterness that will effectively rob your life. You forgive because a lack of forgiveness will only cause you to stay sick and stuck in the place of depression that you hate.


5. Repay Evil with Good. Praying for those who have wronged you will set you free from bitterness, anger and resentment. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” It unlocks the prison doors in your mind to help set you free.


6. Repent. If you have sinned, confess your sins to God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. 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.”


7. Exercise your God-given authority. In the name of Jesus, rebuke spirits of depression and despair that may be tormenting you. Command them to leave in Jesus’ Name and they must go. Fill the area that they vacated with Truth from the Word.


8. Release all these things to God and receive His healing now! “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV) Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Choose today to move towards God, and away from despair.


Staying Free

1. Don’t revisit the old places in your heart and mind where hurt has come. Demons are territorial; they live in those old places. Don’t rehash the issues that opened your heart to depression. You’ve given them to God; now leave them with God.


2. Pray constantly. God wants a close relationship with you. Don’t limit your conversations with God to a few minutes here and there or visit with Him only for an hour on Sunday in church.


3. Praise God. If you sense the spirit of depression is knocking on your door, don’t answer it! Instead, glorify and praise the name of the Lord. Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isaiah 61:3) Listening to worship music will create a positive environment for God to move.


4. Spend time with other Christians who will help you stand if you become weary. Do not hang around with bitter, angry, depressed people or seek the counsel of the ungodly.


5. Renew your mind every day. Take control of your thoughts. Your focus will determine your future. God’s Word is your manual for everyday living; you need to read it every day because, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) God says you should, “keep them (His Words) in the midst of your heart for they are life and health to your flesh” Proverbs 4:20-23.


6. Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23 cautions us to diligently keep our hearts because all the issues of life flow from them. Also, Philippians 4:8-9 tells you to guard what you think about. Think about what is true, honest, pure, just, lovely, or of good report, then it says that the God of peace will be with you.


7. Watch your words. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” You are going to eat the fruit of what comes out of your mouth, so don’t let words of darkness, death, sin or instability come out of your mouth.


8. Finally, make a concerted effort to keep your eyes off yourself. Isaiah 58:10 says, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”


We trust that you will experience freedom from depression and despair as you apply these truths from God’s Word!

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Establishing an Affair Proof Marriage

Affection, intimacy, fulfillment – everyone wants to experience these in life. Single or married, young or old, you have an inner longing to be close to someone. This would not be a problem except our society has been flooded with false information about intimacy and sex. People have come to believe that God is a prude, so they neglect His advice and end up in adultery.


God is not trying to keep something good from you. He’s trying to get something good to you. He’s looking out for your best interests so you can enjoy an intimate relationship with your spouse. Be wise, and take steps now to build an affair-proof marriage.


WHAT CAUSES AFFAIRS?

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:14 that adultery is a trap. The reason a trap works is because it takes its victims by surprise. People fall into the trap of adultery when they don’t recognize and address the unmet needs of their spouse or when there is unresolved conflict in their marriage. Unfulfilled or unrealistic expectations and self-image problems can also make people vulnerable to an affair.


PREVENTING AFFAIRS

You can avoid the trap satan has set by applying the truth of God’s Word. Here are some important steps to affair-proof your marriage:


1. Commit to God’s Standard

Proverbs 5:15 makes God’s standard very clear when it says, “Be faithful to your own wife and give your love to her alone.” Sex is not an unmentionable subject with God. He created us giving the sexual relationship to His people as a gift.


Sex in marriage is holy and right. But it is only holy and right within the confines of marriage. Satan’s lie says, “We love each other so it’s okay to have sex.” That’s not what God says. His standard is that sex is for you and your spouse to enjoy after you are married, not before marriage and not outside marriage.


2. Consider The Consequences.

Think of the consequences you will face if you are unfaithful to your spouse. Proverbs 6:32 says, “The one who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul.” Proverbs 6:26 says, “A prostitute will bring a man to poverty, and an adulteress may cost him his very life.”


God does not want you to have sex outside the safety of marriage. Beyond the obvious potential of sexually transmitted disease and unplanned pregnancy, adultery will hurt your spouse and your children. And it will tear you up on the inside, destroying your very soul.


3. Maintain Your Marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:3 says, “A man should fulfill his duty as a husband and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other’s needs.” When the emotional and sexual needs of our spouse are not being met, it is easier for them to be attracted to someone else who will meet them.


The Bible tells men in 1 Peter 3:7 to “live with your wife according to knowledge.” Literally it means you should find out what her needs are and meet them. This is written to men, but the same is true for women.


Most husbands and wives don’t have a clue as to what their spouse needs. Basically, men are looking for sexual fulfillment, a recreational companion, an attractive spouse, domestic support and honor.


Women, on the other hand, need non-sexual affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial support and family commitment. Love each other on purpose and choose to do your part to meet your spouse’s needs.


4. Manage Your Mind.

Affairs always start in the mind. James 1:14-15 says, “Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes. These thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards the death penalty from God.” Your own thoughts have the potential to set you on a destructive path. When you repeatedly follow that path in your mind and actions, a habit of sinful actions is set in motion in your life.


Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: Let him return to the Lord.” People often think something is wicked only if they do it, but notice it says that both the ways and the thoughts must be forsaken. Keep your thoughts pure and your actions will also be pure.


If you allow yourself to fantasize about someone, the next thing you know, you will become emotionally involved with them. That type of an emotional relationship can easily escalate to physical involvement. Pretty soon you are head over heels in an adulterous relationship and are rationalizing the affair.


Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” You may think and say things like: “I just married the wrong person; If only my spouse met my needs I wouldn’t need someone else; Just one more time; God will forgive me, He wants me happy; This is my spiritual spouse.” These are all just rationalizations, and each one puts you deeper and deeper into the pit.


5. Keep Relationships Right.

It’s your responsibility to keep your relationships right. Here’s how:

- WATCH who you associate with. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “bad company corrupts good character.”

- NEVER listen to a member of the opposite sex’s marriage problems.

- BEWARE of “electricity” with anyone other than your spouse. Ephesians 5:3 says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.”

- STAY AWAY from anyone who flirts.

- AVOID inappropriate touch or hugs.

- MINIMIZE the opportunities to be drawn away from your spouse. Malachi 2:15 says, “Guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with your wife.”

- Finally, REALIZE that most affairs happen between friends; DON’T put yourself where you will be tempted.


You will be assured of a stronger marriage when you and your partner both walk closely with the Lord. As you appreciate that your marriage is a covenant made before God and welcome Him into your relationship – putting Him first in everything – you can have an affair-proof marriage!


HOPE FOR RESTORATION

If you have fallen into the trap of adultery, there is hope for restoration. Here are four steps to help you find your way back to sexual purity:


1. Acknowledge Sin. What you keep hidden in darkness cannot be healed. Confess the relationship as sin (see Psalm 51:1-4) and turn away from it. Pre-marital and extra-marital sex are unacceptable to God as are homosexuality and pornography. Repent and forsake the sin, and you will find God’s mercy.


2. End the Relationship NOW. Your natural tendency will be to say, “I’ll end the relationship tomorrow.” Tomorrow never comes. The Bible says in Psalm 95:7-8, “Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart.” It will not get easier if you wait. Today is the day of freedom. You MUST end the relationship NOW.


3. Avoid ALL Contact with that person from now on. Change jobs, hang up on phone calls, get an unlisted number. Do whatever it takes! 2 Timothy 2: 22 says, “Turn your back on lustful desires and give your positive attention to goodness, integrity, love, and peace…” You must make a complete break – anything else will not be successful.


4. Rebuild Trust. Proverbs 31:11 says, “The heart of her husband safely trusts in her.” The foundation of marriage is trust. You must begin to live in a trustworthy manner. Purpose to demonstrate love and take time to build a good foundation for trust.


Your marriage will be restored as you commit yourself to God’s will and consistently choose to invest your time and affection in your spouse.

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The Power of Prayer

The greatest weapon you possess is the power of prayer. If you have an effective prayer life, it will keep you from being fearful and at the mercy of evil as it abounds in these last days. But if you are prayerless, you will also be powerless.


Answered prayer is God’s idea. The Bible tells us that the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) That means whenever someone who has been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ prays, there is every reason to expect an answer. It makes a difference when you pray.


For your prayers to be effective, you need to believe that God exists and that He will answer you when you wholeheartedly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”


The Bible instructs us to pray – over 250 times – and mentions “prayer,” “prayers,” and “praying” another 280 times. Prayer must be important to God! He wants a close relationship with you. He wants to be the one you run to with your problems and all of the situations you face. When you take your concerns to God, it makes a difference.


3-D’s of Prayer
God will never make you into a person of prayer. Your desire to pray is a good starting point, but if you are going to be strong in prayer, discipline will be required. It’s not always convenient or easy to pray, but it’s always the best choice you can make. When spending time with God becomes your top priority, you will find that praying becomes a delight.


Your heavenly Father wants you to know that when you delight yourself in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) He literally places His desires inside you, and you’ll find yourself asking for the things He wants for you. When your will begins to line up with His in this way, your prayers become more powerful and filled with faith.


Pray the Promises
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God; if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15) You can be confident that God hears you and will answer when you pray “according to His will.” But how can you presume to know the will of God?


God’s Word is His will. If it’s in the Bible, you can be sure it’s what God wants for you. So when you have a need, find the promise – there are over 7000 of them in the Bible – that applies to your situation, and pray that promise. When you do, you will be praying according to the will of God. In Jeremiah 1:12, the Lord says, “…I am watching over my Word to perform it.” When you pray His Word, He will hear and bring it to pass.


Effective Prayer
Effective prayer can’t be reduced to a formula, but there are some keys from the Bible that will help you receive answers when you pray. Always remember though, that God doesn’t respond to your requests because of some ritual or pattern you follow. He is much more interested in your heart than your method.


Prayer connects you with your heavenly Father’s presence, and in His presence is everything you need. His wisdom, peace, confidence, and strength come to you as you pray. When your will lines up with God’s, your prayers are powerful and effective, releasing God’s power into the situations and the lives of the people you are praying for.


God is not reluctant to hear you and help you. He’s listening and waiting for you to call out to Him, and He is most willing to answer your prayers. When you pray effectively, you can receive the answers you need!

Here are some scriptural responses to questions about prayer:


WHO DO I ADDRESS WHEN I PRAY?
Jesus said, “…Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.” (John 16:23)


DOES GOD HEAR WHEN I PRAY?
“But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him.” (Psalm 4:3)

“But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him.” (Psalm 4:3)


WHAT SHOULD MY ATTITUDE BE WHEN I PRAY?
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)


WHAT SHOULD I PRAY ABOUT?
“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.” (Philippians 4:6-7)


HOW DO I “PRAY THE PROMISE?”
God said, “Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together…” (Isaiah 43:26) The Living Bible puts it this way: “Oh, remind me of this promise…” You “pray the promise” by speaking forth what God says in His Word as you pray. You can say something like, “Lord, thank you that your Word says…”


WHEN SHOULD I PRAY?
“…pray without ceasing…” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)


WHERE SHOULD I PRAY?
“I desire therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting…” (1 Timothy 2:8)


WHAT IF I CAN’T PUT MY PRAYER INTO WORDS?
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)


In Conclusion…
One of satan’s greatest fears must be that Christians everywhere will one day rise up and pray with the authority of God’s Word. If all of God’s power was released at once, sin, satan, and all his demonic hosts would be totally destroyed. It’s time for you to arm yourself with God’s willingness to perform His Word. Pray and release God’s power through your prayers.

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Wisdom for Finances

What would you ask for if you knew God would give you anything you wanted? Would you request money, a long life, or some kind of prominent position?


When God appeared to Solomon and allowed him to ask for whatever he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. God was so pleased with his request that He not only made him the wisest person who ever lived – apart from Jesus – He also made him the richest person. This set in motion a principle that we need to be aware of in dealing with our finances: wisdom always precedes wealth.


There are over 200 verses in the book of Proverbs that deal with money, and each of them fall into one of seven categories. Proverbs 9:1 says, “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.”


When the seven pillars of godly wisdom are in place in your life, they provide support for your financial success. If even one of them is weak or missing, you will have trouble with money.


Here are the seven pillars:

1) Honor God with your money.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”


God wants you to have money, but He doesn’t want you to trust in riches. He wants all your confidence to be in Him. When you honor God by giving Him the first of whatever you get, it breaks the power of the love of money off your life.


God says that, when you release what you have in your hand, He will release blessing back into your life. That’s why tithing (giving God the first 10% of all your increase) never hurts you financially. God blesses what you have left, and you are able to live better on the 90% than you would have on the 100%.


2) Be diligent and have a good work ethic.
Proverbs 10:4 teaches: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes him rich.”


Laziness and idleness always lead people into poverty. God wants us to do everything we do with diligence and excellence. That means you should work hard, have a good attitude, and do the best you can with what you have.


No matter how old you are, God has things for you to do. If your goal is to get rich, retire and do nothing, you are probably not going to be very prosperous. But if your goal is to glorify God in everything you do, you will let Him be the driving force of your life. Then you will be successful in every area of life – including your finances.


3) Be careful of debt, and don’t co-sign.
Proverbs 22:7 reveals a very important truth. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”


When you take out a loan, you become someone’s servant. Until it’s paid off, you spend part of your time each week working to pay the lender instead of enjoying what God wanted you to have.


What about credit cards? They aren’t evil; just make sure you use them as a convenience, not as an alternative to saving. And always pay them off 100% each month so you don’t end up paying outlandish interest on them.


A debt mentality will prompt you to borrow for things like VCRs and TVs, or for vacations and going out to eat. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if an item depreciates in value the minute you take it out of the store, don’t borrow money to purchase it. There are some exceptions – like borrowing to get a car when the interest rate is low or at 0%. Generally, though, you will be much better off waiting and saving.


Proverbs 22:26-27 (NLT) says, “Do not co-sign another person’s note or put up a guarantee for someone else’s loan. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.”


What a shame it would be to lose something vital to your family as a result of co-signing for someone else’s loan. The spiritual principle  involved is that you should never assume    responsibility for something you have no     authority over. Since the Bible says that it is unwise to co-sign, don’t do it!


4) Be generous; give to the poor.
Proverbs 11:24-25 teaches: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and He who waters will also be watered.”


Don’t have an arrogant attitude or be greedy. God will bless you when you love people and are generous with those who have less than you.


5) Seek counsel from those who have proven their wisdom.
Proverbs 13:18 says, “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.”


The most prosperous people – those who get wealth and keep it – are teachable concerning financial matters.


Some people won’t accept advice either because they think they know it all or because they are afraid of looking foolish. They’d rather go broke than get help. It’s much better to seek counsel from a financially successful person than it is to keep reproducing costly mistakes!


6) Be financially faithful and avoid get-rich-quick schemes.
Proverbs 28:20 teaches us that “a faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.”


It is better to be faithful with what you already have than it is to get involved with the latest get-rich-quick scheme. Faithfulness is important to God. Besides, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  There is no greater insult to you and your family than to gamble your money away. You’ve worked hard, exchanging your time and your life to get it, why risk spending it knowing there may not be a return?


Before you buy that lottery ticket, remember whose money it is you’re using. Ultimately, it belongs to God, and you are the steward over it. Be faithful.


7) Walk in honesty and integrity.
Proverbs 15:6 says, “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.”


Don’t compromise what you know to be right in order to get ahead. All the money in the world is not worth dishonoring God or losing your reputation. What good is it to be rich if you lose your spouse, your children, or your health?


You will be blessed as you put God first and apply these seven pillars of wisdom from His Word.

“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

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Dealing with Anger

People are like pressure cookers. When anger is bottled-up inside and not dealt with, the pressure increases. With the pain of each new offense – if not dealt with – it is either vented in little bursts, or it builds up until it erupts like a volcano. Either way, venting anger solidifies a pattern of losing self-control.


Maybe you don’t struggle with anger, but you certainly know someone who does. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” That’s why millions of people walk around with smiles on their faces, but just under the surface, anger is waiting to explode. It rests in them, causing them trouble with things most people would hardly even notice. When they get mad, their reaction isn’t proportionate to the size of the issue. They aren’t reacting to the current situation, but to an accumulation of unresolved anger.


God makes it clear that anger can be defeated. Colossians 3:8 tells us, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” He certainly would not tell you to put something off without providing the means to do it.


Here are some keys to keep anger from dominating your life.


ADMIT YOUR ANGER

Just like a smoke detector ensures the safety of your family, anger serves as an indicator that something is wrong. But lives are never saved by smoke detectors unless someone acknowledges that the alarm is sounding!


Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Notice that it doesn’t say anger is a sin or that it’s wrong to be angry, but it does say you are responsible to deal with anger before it opens the door to evil in your life. Proverbs 14:17 tells us that an angry, quick-tempered person acts foolishly. When you don’t take control of anger, the devil uses it to lead you into sin.


If you grew up around anger, you may have a problem with your temper and not even realize it. If so, you are still responsible for how you handle it. No one makes you respond out of anger; you make the choice to throw things, hit people, swear or say things that hurt people.


Minimizing anger or making excuses for it only perpetuates the problem. You won’t get free until you admit you are angry and take responsibility for your angry actions.


STOP AND THINK

Whenever emotion rises, the ability to think clearly decreases. Nehemiah 5:6 states Nehemiah’s wise response after he had been told of a serious injustice that had taken place against the people. He said, “I became very angry when I heard their outcry and words. After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers…”


Nehemiah was angry, but he kept his anger within bounds. Even when provoked, he chose not to say or do anything in haste. Before deciding to rebuke the nobles, he took time to stop and think. He carefully considered what to say, when to say it, and how to proceed so God’s plan of justice could come forth.


You will never end up with God’s best in a situation if you say and do things hastily out of anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” You need to remind yourself to stop and get your emotions out of the way so you can think clearly before making decisions.


ASK GOD FOR HELP

There are many causes of anger including fear, frustration, insecurity and hurt. No matter what’s at the bottom of your anger, you can take it to the Lord and receive His help.


After all, He loves you and wants your relationship with Him to be strong. He wants to be at the center of everything you think, say and do. Even when you are angry, you can choose to ask Him for His help. Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22) Pray, putting your trust in Him, and He will help you defeat anger.


FORGIVE

We need to forgive people as much for our sake as for theirs. Jesus made this very clear when He said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25) Anytime anyone hurts you, no matter how deep the wound, you need to forgive them. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they did, whether they are living or dead, just forgive them.


When you choose to forgive, you’re released on the inside. The ones who offended you may never acknowledge their wrongdoing, but when you forgive them, the anger and wrath in your heart melt away.


WALK IN THE SPIRIT

Even after taking these steps, you can’t just say, “I’m not going to get mad anymore,” and think that will be the end of it. Victory doesn’t come when you stop doing negative things; victory comes when you start doing positive things.


In Galatians 5:20, Paul identifies anger as a work of the flesh.


Fortunately, in verse 16, he gave us the remedy for defeating our fleshly works. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Simply put, you walk in the Spirit by reading, praying and meditating on the Word of God and then doing what it says.


As you become stronger in your spirit by focusing on the love of God, the things people do will no longer have the same effect on you. When something happens that would normally cause your flesh to respond in anger, your spirit will rise up and you will respond in love!


You don’t have to be dominated by anger. Take action now!

- Admit your anger.
– Stop and think.
– Ask God for help.
– Forgive.
– Walk in the Spirit.

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Overcoming Stress

Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7

What is it in your lifestyle that stresses you? Perhaps you’re a single mom trying to make ends meet and still be a good mother. Perhaps your company is downsizing and your job is on the line. Or maybe you have an aging parent who needs special care. Despite all our convenient amenities, no one’s life is easy, and stressors are only getting more complex. We are all trying to find answers and relief from stress. Suicide and divorce are all too common today, and stress plays a heavy role in these. But there are real answers for life’s tough questions.


You can give your care over to God, and He will never fail you. He will destroy every yoke that will try to weigh you down. A counselor can bring temporary relief, but only God can permanently remove the care. What so many people have a hard time doing is letting go of the cause of stress and pain and giving it to God. I know that is hard to believe, but it is true. They ask, “Why is it like this? Does God have an answer? Is there a way out?”


Disappointment and setbacks are two of Satan’s most successful attacks against us. When promises are not kept, and dreams are shattered, people’s hearts are broken. Whether your heart was broken as a result of someone else’s sinful or treacherous behavior, or whether a self-inflicted blow broke it, does not matter. Too many broken hearts create a broken world, no matter how the damage was done in the first place.


The answer is found in the dumping ground. You do not have to carry your pain. By holding on to it, you are telling God you can handle it. Decide today to turn your care upon Him and leave it there.


God wants to use our stresses to bring change to our lives so that we align ourselves with His purposes, walk in the destiny He has for us, and be filled to overflowing with His joy, His peace, and His love. In order to embrace the changes God wants to bring in your life, start by examining yourself on the inside-your attitudes, motives, unresolved issues. As you examine yourself, you will begin to see glimpses of the greatness God has deposited in you. You will begin to see yourself as a treasure chest filled with possibilities, and you will begin to long for God to change you as He sees fit so that He can turn your possibilities into realities.

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