Counseling Archives

31 Days of Praying for Your Pastor

This was taken from Revive Our Hearts website…Take the 31 Days of Praying for Your Pastor Challenge

Day 1: Pray that your pastor will love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Pray that God’s Spirit will work in his heart in power and that he will value and follow biblical priorities. (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 6:33)
Day 2: Pray that your pastor will cultivate strong character and uncompromising integrity. Pray that his testimony will be genuine, and that he will never do anything that he would need to hide from others. (1 Tim. 1:5, 3:7; Eph. 6:10-12)
Day 3: Pray for his personal walk with God—that his soul and spirit will be nourished and strengthened in his quiet time with God, beyond sermon preparation. Pray that he will spend more time in the Word of God. (Mark 1:35; 2 Tim. 2:15-16)
Day 4: Pray that your pastor will counsel and teach with discernment through the wise use of Scriptures and faith in God’s power to work. Pray that he will be protected from the effects of sinful or negative attitudes that he encounters as he counsels. (Mal. 2:7; James 1:5-6; John 17:15)
Day 5: Ask God to protect your pastor’s marriage and keep it strong as a model of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Pray that your pastor will tenderly cherish and lead his wife, and that she will respect and encourage her husband, submitting to his leadership. (Eph. 5:23-33)
Day 6: Pray that God will protect your pastor’s wife from bitterness when her husband is criticized. Pray that her prayer and devotional life will be consistent, and that she will guard her mind and heart. (Heb. 12:15; Prov. 4:23)
Day 7: Pray for your pastor’s children, and especially that the pressures of the ministry will not discourage or embitter them. Pray that your pastor will provide godly leadership in the home, not based on fear of what others will think, but according to scriptural truth. (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20-21)
Day 8: Ask God to protect your pastor from evil plots of Satan. Pray that he will not be corrupted as he rubs shoulders with the world in the course of the ministry. ( Isa. 54:17; 2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Pet. 3:12; Ps. 9:9,10, 91:9,10)
Day 9: Pray that God will build a hedge of protection around your pastor’s family. Pray that your pastor will guard from any improper relationships and that their family time will be protected. (Ezek. 22:30a; 2 Cor. 10:4,5; Matt. 19:6)
Day 10: Pray that your pastor will use discernment in use of emails, internet, texting, and other media sources. Ask God to protect his heart concerning the use of his free time. Pray that he will be morally pure and that he will wear the armor of God so that he will not fall to temptation. (Rom. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; Eph. 6:10-18; 2 Cor. 10:4)
Day 11: Pray that God will bring godly friends and encouragers to your pastor and his family, to strengthen them for the ministry and provide meaningful fellowship with times of rest. (Phil. 2:19-25)
Day 12: Pray that your pastor will be humble and authentic in his faith, not given to pride or hypocrisy. Pray that he will have pure motives and give God glory for every gain and victory. (Micah 6:8; Gal. 6:14; John 7:17,18; 1 Cor. 10-13)
Day 13: Pray that your pastor will make wise lifestyle choices in order to protect his health, especially in the areas of exercise, eating moderately, and getting sufficient rest. Pray for times of relaxation and renewal to balance the stress of ministry. (Rom. 12:1,2; 1Cor. 6:19,20; 9:27, 10:13; James 3:1,2)
Day 14: Pray that your pastor will focus on the Word of God and walk in the fear of the Lord, instead of the fear of man, as he prepares his message. Pray that he will seek to please God rather than men and pursue holiness rather than the praise of men. (Prov. 19:23; Acts 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Tim. 4:1,2; Heb. 11:6)
Day 15: Praise God for your pastor’s leadership and pray that he will make godly decisions. Pray that he will lead with a shepherd’s heart and that he will always speak the truth in love. (1 Kings 3:9; Jer. 3:15; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 5:2)
Day 16: Pray that your pastor will be courageous in the pulpit in proclaiming Christ and confident in his use of the Word of God. Ask God to help him speak with insight, transparency, and humility. (Col. 1:28, 4:3a; Eph. 6:19)
Day 17: Pray that your pastor will be a “Great Commission Man”, committed to personal evangelism and equipping the saints to seek the lost. Pray that he will have a heart to develop a thriving missions program in his church. (Matt. 28:19,20; Luke 19:10; Rom. 10:15)
Day 18: Pray that your pastor will be a man of prayer, worship, and lead by example—teaching the congregation how to walk in a close relationship with the Father. (Matt. 4:10; Mark 1:35; Luke 22:36; Acts 1:14a; 1 Thess. 5:17)
Day 19: Pray that your pastor will use wise time management, seeking God’s perspective for his schedule, and guarding his time against unnecessary interruptions. (Ps. 90:12; John 9:4; Eph. 5:15,16; Col. 4:5)
Day 20: Pray for fresh divine anointing on your pastor’s ministry. Pray that God’s working will be powerfully evident in his personal life and the spiritual life of the congregation. (Rom. 15:18,19a; 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Tim. 1:7)
Day 21: Pray for your pastor will not give in to discouragement. Let him deal with inevitable criticism and conflict by committing himself into the hands of God, who judges righteously. (1 Pet. 2:23)
Day 22: Let him edify the congregation with wisdom and serving with God’s “agape” love. (Luke 9:23,24, 10:43b-45; John 13:5-9; Gal. 5:13b; Phil. 2:3,4)
Day 23: Pray for spiritual unity in the church staff and among the spiritual leadership of the church. Pray that the enemy will not be allowed to create division, strife, or misunderstanding among church leaders. (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 12:25)
Day 24: Pray that God will give your pastor clear, biblical vision of what your church can be and should be doing for His glory. Pray that he will communicate that vision clearly and confidently to the church. (Prov. 29:18; Mal. 3:11; John 15:16, 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:5)
Day 25: Pray that your pastor will seek God for personal revival, and for the revival in your church and community. (2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 69:32)
Day 26: Pray that your pastor will think biblically, with the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16; Eph. 4:17; Col. 2:6-8)
Day 27: Pray that he will earnestly seek God’s will and be committed to instant and complete obedience—ready for God to work powerfully in and through his ministry. (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Luke 9:23,24)
Day 28: Pray that he will strive for personal excellence and will believe God for all He wants to do in the congregation and pastor’s life. (Col. 3:23,24; 2 Pet. 1:3)
Day 29: Pray that your pastor will be a man of faith and passionate for the love of God, not given to worry, fear, or an uptight or anxious spirit. (Prov. 3:5,6; 1 John 4:18)
Day 30: Ask God to provide for the financial needs of your pastor and family. Pray that he will be a wise steward of his finances as well as the finances of the church. (Ps. 37:25; Phil. 4:19; 1 Tim. 6:11; Heb. 13:50)
Day 31: Ask God to heal any hurts that your pastor has suffered in the ministry. Pray that he will serve the Lord with gladness, and encourage the congregation to worship God with a joyful, surrendered spirit. (Is. 61:3)

© Revive Our Hearts.Used with permission.Take the 31 Days of Praying for Your Pastor Challengehttp://www.ReviveOurHearts.comInfo@ReviveOurHearts.com

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Am I Really Hearing God’s Voice?

Have you ever wondered, “How do I know if I am really hearing God’s voice?

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord’s voice. The young man couldn’t help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?” After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o’clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, “God…If you still speak to people speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.” As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, God is that you?” He didn’t get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn’t recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. “Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.” It didn’t seem like too hard a test of obedience.

He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, “Turn down that street. This is crazy he thought and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half-jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will”.

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in semi commercial area of town. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst of neighborhoods either the businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.” The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat.

“Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.” Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don’t answer right away, I am out of here. “He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man’s voice yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?” Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face, and he didn’t seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.

“What is it?” The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, “Here, I brought this to you. “The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn’t have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.” His wife in the kitchen yelled out, “I asked Him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?”

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man’s hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers.

There have been days that I have been working around the house, and then suddenly a thought will come to me, “Stop what you are doing…pray for ______” I firmly believe that thought was the Holy Spirit telling me to pray for that person.

When I was attending Bible College, I had a dear friend who had been a missionary in the Congo. She related a story about a terrible time in her ministry. Here is story as she related it to me:

The rebels were outside our house. We had to hide under the bed to avoid bullets flying through the walls. When we heard the rebels stomping up the front steps, we ran out the back way and climbed over a fence to escape. Some months later, when my husband and I returned to the states, we related the incident to our pastor. As we talked with our pastor, we coincided the time…the pastor then told us that it was during that same time period, he stopped preaching in the middle of his sermon and told everyone to get on their knees. The pastor said he couldn’t explain why…but he instructed the congregation that they must pray for us.

Did God speak audibly to that pastor…no, but it was a sudden urging from the Holy Spirit that told that pastor to pray for those missionaries because they were in trouble.

When God lays people on our hearts, we must become still so that we can sense the Holy Spirit’s flow of thoughts in our spirits.

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Habakkuk knew that to hear God’s quiet voice, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions.

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still and know that He is God. The average Christian’s life is so busy that he isn’t can focus his spirit on hearing God’s voice.

It’s in stillness, not busyness, that we can tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. Although the Lord always speaks to us in that “STILL, small voice”, there are many times His voice is drowned out by all the noise around us.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore, if we want to hear the voice of God, we must study and know the teachings of Jesus.

John describes Jesus in 1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

If we are going to hear the voice of God, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus.
In an ordinary conversation, we speak, then listen for the response of the other person. It’s the same with God! Once we’ve prepared our hearts to listen through prayer, we’re more likely to hear the voice of God when He speaks to us through His Word.

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To Know God’s Fullness

When I was completing my degree, I wrote this paper. I was reading it again the other day, and I thought it might be a blessing to some of you ladies. Feel free to use it in your teachings.

A SEARCH TO KNOW GOD’S FULLNESS

How is it that some Christians seem to be able to live above their circumstances and are able to fare well as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, even though they are living in an evil adulterous generation?

How was the apostle Paul able to experience peace and joy in the midst of turmoil and trials? Today, more often than not, when a Christian experiences turmoil or trials, he is ready to change the direction of his life and give up sound Bible principles. He becomes so fretful and so full of anxiety that he loses sight of eternity. Why does a man hunger to know God more fully, yet he allows himself to become distracted by the conditions and people around him that he forgets to recognize God’s working in his life?

This paper will explore some great Christians who have hungered to know God more fully and their successes. It will also examine some reasons why Christians today have difficulties coming to know the Lord in His full revelation.

God is a person. In His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires, and suffers as any other person. God’s Word says in Revelation 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” God did not make us robots just to move around on this earth with no direction or purpose. He wants us to bring glory to Him and have close fellowship with Him as a Father.

There is a great difference between “knowing” God and “knowing about” God. Knowing Him is an experience that flows from a personal, intimate relationship; it’s having first-hand information. To know about God, on the other hand, is quite another thing. We may get facts from books, sermons, and the Bible, and all of this data may be completely accurate and true. This kind of information is not to be discredited. In fact, the Bible says, “…He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But this knowledge, which is purely intellectual, must become a possession of the heart as well as the head.

Many expressions such as, “I’ve truly found God…I have accepted the Lord…He’s my Lord and Savior,” prove that people have little information about Christ and God, but they have all had an experience with Him. The first thing about knowing God is to know Him through His son Jesus Christ.

Why is it important for man to get to know Christ better? Because salvation is a living relationship, and we can’t grow as Christians without having personal fellowship with Him. Every book we read, every meeting we attend, every spiritual contact we make must in some way add to our knowledge of knowing about Jesus Christ. The better we get to know Him…the more we learn to know Him in His fullness. God created man to bring glory to Himself. In Isaiah 43:7 it says, “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

The better we know God, the more we will love Him. When we begin to understand the glory of Christ’s person and the wonder of His work, we will want to worship and adore Him. As we begin to love and to obey Christ more, the more He will become the preeminent one in our lives. Tozer wrote in his book In Pursuit of God:

Twentieth-century men seldom seek God because far too many have come to accept turbulence of soul as the norm and have ceased to seek God with their whole hearts. In the preface of In Pursuit of God it is said of Tozer:

“A.W. Tozer educated himself by years of diligent study and a constant prayerful seeking of the mind of God. With Tozer, seeking truth and seeking God were one and the same thing. For example, when he felt he needed an understanding of great English works of Shakespeare, he read them through on His knees, asking God to help him under-stand their meaning. This procedure was typical of his method of self-education. With no teacher but the Holy Spirit and good books, A.W. Tozer became a theologian, a scholar, and a master craftsman of the English language.”

It is clear in David’s writings of the Psalms that he experienced this deep hunger to know God’s fullness because in Psalms 42:1 he writes, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”

I believe that God has put a hungering and a deep longing in our souls to sense His presence. Through the years, many Christians have used different terms to express those longings. Some called it the “abiding life”, some called it the “exchanged life”, some called it the “Spirit-filled life”, yet others called it the “highest life”. Andrew Murray was one of those hungering souls who desired to know God’s fullness. In his own words he expresses his hunger and his enlightenment.

“Some of you have heard how I have pressed upon you the two stages in the Christian life, and the step from the one to the other. The first ten years of my spiritual life were manifestly spent on the lower stage. I was a happy minister, I may say, as zealous and as earnest and as happy in my work as anyone, as far as love of the work was concerned, Yet, all the time there was a burning in my heart a dissatisfaction and restlessness inexpressible. What the reason? I had never learnt with all my theology that obedience was possible. My justification was as clear as noonday. I knew the hour in which I received from God the joy of pardon. I remember in my little room at Bloemfontein how I used to sit and think. What is the matter? Here I am, know that God has justified me in the blood of Christ, but I have no power for service. My thoughts, my words, my actions, my unfaithfulness–everything troubled me. Though all around thought me one of the most earnest of men, my life was one of deep dissatisfaction. I struggled and prayed the best I could. Murray continued: “One day I was talking with a missionary. I do not think that he knew much of the power of sanctification himself–he would have admitted it. When we were talking and he saw my earnestness he said, ‘Brother, remember that when God puts a desire into your heart, He will fulfill it.’ That helped me; I thought of it a hundred times. I want to say the same to you, who are plunging about and struggling in the quagmire of helplessness and doubt. The desire that Good puts into your heart, He will fulfill it. “Well, God helped me, and for seven or eight years I went on, always enquiring and seeking, and always getting. Then came, about 1870, the great Holiness Movement. The letters that appeared in The Revival touched my heart; and I was in close fellowship with what took place at Oxford and Brighton, and it all helped me. My mind became much exercised about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I gave myself to God as perfectly as I could to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Yet there was a failure; It was somehow as if I could not get what I wanted. Through all these stumblings God led me, without any very special experience that I can point to; but known it better. I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life. In the first place, I have learnt to place myself before God every day, as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His work in me. If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is the; that is God who worked all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realize this!… “You ask me, “Murray said, “are you satisfied? Have you got all you want? God forbid. With the deepest feeling of my soul I can say that I am satisfied with Jesus now; but there is also a consciousness of how much fuller the revelation can be of the exceeding abundance of His grace. Let us never hesitate to say, this is only the beginning. When we are brought into the holiest of all, we are only beginning to take our right position with the Father.”

The deep dealing of God with His children varies in detail, but the general pattern seems much alike for individual cases. Into each life, there arises an awareness of failure, a falling short of all that one should be in the Lord; then surrender of heart, which is indeed death to self. There follows an appropriation by faith of His resurrection life through abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result, there is realized an overflow of life likened by the Lord Jesus to “rivers of water.” (John 7:37-39)

The way to heart satisfaction and rest for the spirit for Hudson Taylor, he learned through a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. In a letter to Mr. Taylor he wrote:

“To let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving not struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; trusting Him to subdue all inward corruption; resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the conscious joy of a complete salvation, a salvation, a salvation ‘from all sin’ (this is His Word; willing that His will should truly be supreme; this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the first dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a sea which is boundless; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy. May He lead us into the realization of His unfathomable fullness.”

The Lord used this letter literally to lead Mr. Taylor “into the realization of His unfathomable fullness.” It was read in the little mission station at Chin-kiang on Saturday., September 4, 1869. The missionary was always reticent about telling details of his transforming experience; but he did say, “As I read, I saw it all. I looked to Jesus; and when I saw, oh how the joy flowed!”

His fellow missionaries said of him, “Mr. Taylor went out, a new man in a new world, to tell what the Lord had done for his soul.”

Hudson Taylor writing to his sister in England said:

” As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps, the happiest of my life; and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful–and yet, all is new! In a word, ‘Whereas once I was blind, now I see…’ “When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before.
McCarthy, who had been much exercised with the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):’But how to get faith strengthen? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.’ As a read I saw it all! ‘If we believe not, He abideth faithful.’ I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh how joy flowed!) that He had said, ‘I will never leave you.’ ‘Ah, there is rest!’ I thought. ‘I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has He promised to abide with me–never to leave, never to fail me?’ And dearie, He never will! ” But this was not all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness out of Him. I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine now I see, it not the root merely, but all –root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit; and Jesus is not only that; He is more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.”

In Torrey’s book The Holy Spirit he writes:

“So, it is clear that every regenerate man has the Holy Spirit. But in many a believer the Holy Spirit dwells away back in some hidden sanctuary of his person, away back of conscious experience. So just as it is one thing to have guest in your house living in some remote corner of the house where you scarcely know that he is there, and quite another thing to have the guest taking entire possession of the house, just so it is one thing to have the Holy spirit dwelling way back of consciousness in some hidden sanctuary of our being, and quite another thing to have the Holy Spirit taking entire possession of the house. In other words, it is one thing to have the Holy Spirit merely dwelling in us but we not conscious of His dwelling, and quite another thing to be filled or baptized, with the Holy Spirit. So we may put it with perfect accuracy in this way; Every regenerate person has the Holy Spirit, but not every regenerate person has what the Bible calls “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” or “baptism with the Holy Spirit,” or “the Promise of the Father.”

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness. This scripture gives us a vivid example of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Charles Stanley experienced a long search for the Spirit-filled life. In his book The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life he states:

“The Spirit-filled life begins once we are absolutely and thoroughly convinced that we can do nothing apart from the indwelling strength of the Holy Spirit. Notice I didn’t say it begins when we say we are convinced. It begins when we are convinced. And of us are harder to convince another. The Spirit-filled life begins with an overwhelming realization that we are absolutely helpless and hopeless apart from the empowerment of the Holy spirit. Until that one simple truth grips us at the core of our being, we will never experience the full-blown power of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we will always be out there doing things for god in our strength. And when we fail, we will promise to do better next time. Without meaning to, many Christians live independently of the Holy Spirit every day. They never give Him a second thought. He is nothing more than a theological category. They have their assignment. You, love your neighbor, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, and so on. They go about their business committed to doing the best they can do. Then you have to come to the point of total surrender. We were given a fresh look at surrender during the Gulf War. Do you remember the faces of the Iraqi soldiers who surrendered in the first few days of fighting? They didn’t come out of their foxholes and trenches in the spirit of rededication. They didn’t march out promising the Americans what they were and were not going to do. They simple surrendered. Their raised hands signified their willingness to do whatever they were instructed to do. There has to come a time in your life when you accept the fact that it is impossible for you to control anything in your life apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Until we give up, we aren’t in a position to be helped. We will work against Him rather than with Him.”

Raymond Edman in They Found the Secret describes Oswald Chambers search for this higher life and spiritual fullness.

Oswald Chambers aspired to the alpine peaks of spiritual victory. He discovered that climbing in the Spirit is accomplished by kneeling, and not by running; by surrender, and not be determination. Despair of self leads to utter desperation; but beyond these mists lies the sunshine of God’s presence. Many a soul will turn back to accustomed marshlands of defeat rather than brave the fogs of frustration; but the mountain peaks rise high above the rain and gloom.

This pattern in the crisis of the deeper life, followed by its wide outreach, is almost identical with the experience of countless others of God’s children. First, there is the hunger of the heart, often followed by a sense of desperation that leads to utter surrender of self. Thereafter The Almighty is pleased to reveal Himself to the desperate seeker who, like Jacob at Jabbok, will not let Him go until there is blessing. To Oswald Chambers there came the day of utter yielding and absolute abandonment to God on every point. As a lad he had come to the Savior and had enjoyed the presence of the Lord Jesus. Years passed, however, before he came to the plateau of spiritual fullness from which he could continue climbing in the sunshine to God’s highest for his life.

“I was in Dunoon College as a tutor in philosophy,” he recalled, ‘when Dr F.B. Meyer came and spoke about the Holy Spirit. I determined to have all that was going and went to my room and asked God simply definitely for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, whatever that meant. From that day on for four years, nothing but the overruling grace of God and kindness of friends kept me out of an asylum. God used me during those years for the conversion of souls, but I had no conscious communion with Him. The Bible was the dullest, most uninteresting book in existence, and the sense of depravity, the vileness of the bad-motiveness of my nature, was terrific. I see now that God was taking me by the light of the Holy Spirit and His Word through every ramification of my being. “The last three months of those years things reached a climax. I was getting desperate. I knew no one who had what I wanted; in fact, I did not know what I did want. But I knew that if what I had was all the Christianity there was, the thing was a fraud. Then Luke 11:13 got hold of me–‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’ ” But how could I, bad motivated as I was, possibly ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit? Then it was borne in upon that I had to claim the gift from God on the authority of Jesus Christ and testify to having done so. But the thought came if you claim the gift of the Holy Spirit on the word of Jesus Christ and testify to it, God will make it known to those who know you best how bad you are in heart. And I was not willing to be fool for Christ’s sake. But those of you who know the experience, know very well how God bring someone to the point of utter despair, and I got to the place where I did not care whether everyone knew how bad I was; I cared for nothing on earth, saving to get out of my present condition.”

Although there is a deep hunger in many Christians lives, there seems to be many reasons for failure. The first reason Christians are not able to fulfil these hungerings is that they enjoy the pleasures of this life too much. In Neil Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker he asks:

“What would you accept in trade for the fruit of the Spirit in your life? What material possession, what amount of money, what position or title would you exchange for the love, joy, peace, and patience that you enjoy in Christ?” ‘Nothing,’ we all probably agree. But how does your day to day practice answer those questions? Where is the majority of your time, energy, and money being invested: in temporal or eternal endeavor?”

Jesus discussed this very conflict with two of His closest friends, Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). During Jesus’ visit, Martha was caught up in material things, focusing on meal preparation and service, while Mary centered her attention on Jesus and His words. Martha’s tendency was to love things and use people, but Jesus indicated that Mary had chosen “the good part” (verse 42) by loving people and using things. Victory over self comes as we learn to love people and use things, and not get those two activities mixed up.

Possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards. Hebrew 11:24-26 say: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” It is far better to know that we are the children of God than to gain anything that the world calls valuable. Even if following Christ results in hardships in this life, He will make it right in eternity.

Satan is another reason for a Christian’s failure to know Christ and His fullness; Christians believe Satan’s lies. Neil Anderson states:

Satan’s ultimate lie is that you are capable of being the god of your own life, and his ultimate bondage is getting you to live as though his lie is truth. Satan is out to usurp God’s place in your life. And whenever you live independent of God focusing on yourself instead of on the cross, preferring material and temporal values to spiritual and eternal values, he has succeeded. The world’s solution to this conflict of identify is to inflate the ego while denying God the opportunity to take His rightful place as Lord. Satan couldn’t be more pleased–that was his plan from the beginning.

Satan has launched an all-out battle for the minds of Christians. The age-old question comes to us, “Who will control our minds?” Tim LaHaye in his book The Battle for the Mind says:

Ever since God spoke to Adam and Eve, explaining to them how to think to live successful and happy lives, there has been a consistent battle over who will control the thought processes of man’s mind–man or God. Sooner or later, every human being makes that decision and the result of his philosophy of life. Until this generation, parents were the most influential force in helping a child formulate his philosophy. That is no longer true. Modern technology has found ingenious ways to assault the mind of man and child with incredibly beautiful sound, colors, and visual imagery. Millions of parents have already lost their children’s minds to rocks stars, atheistic-humanistic educators, sensual entertainers, and a host of other anti-God, amoral, anti-man influences. Since you are what you think, your thought processes today are largely the result of the input that has come to your mind via your eyes and ear. If you are not careful, you will lose the battle for control of your mind and the minds of your children.

In Romans 7:23 the verse reads, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Through this verse it is visible that a war raging in the mind. Neil Anderson in his book The Bondage Breaker states that all spiritual bondage is in the mind.

Romans 7:23 and 8:5-7 show that the center of all spiritual bondage is in the mind. That’s where the battle must be fought and won if you are to experience the freedom in Christ which is your inheritance. Paul wrote: “For thought we walk in the flesh, we don not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Some fortresses (strongholds” in the King James Version) of bad habits and sinful thought patterns were established when you learned to live your life independently of God. your non-Christian environment taught you to think about and respond to life in a non-Christian way, and those patterns and responses were ingrained in your mind stronghold. But when you became a Christian, nobody pressed the “CLEAR” button in your mind. Your old fleshly habits and patterns weren’t erased; they are still a part of your flesh which must be dealt with on a daily basis. Thankfully, however, you are not just a product of your past; you are a new creature in Christian (2 Corinthians 5:17), and now you are primarily the product of the work of Christ on the cross. Old strongholds can be destroyed. Just because you are a Christian, don’t think Satan is no longer interested in manipulating you to his purposes through your mind. Satan’s perpetual aim is to infiltrate your thought with his thoughts and to promote his lie in the face of God’s truth. He knows that if he can control your thoughts, he can control your behavior.

Satan wants to fill a Christian’s mind with negative thoughts. He wants him to think only on negative thoughts about circumstances and other people. If a Christian has been hurt, Satan wants that person to mull over his hurts and continually think on those things. He knows that if he can get a Christian’s mind full of self-pity and negative thoughts, that Christian will not be able to live in the fullness of God’s power.

Nancy Missler in her audio set Way of Agape, gives us a daily formula for turning our self-life over to God.

• Recognize negative thoughts and emotions as they come.
• Confess them as sin and repent of them.
• Give over to God all that He has shown you concerning hurts or injustices.
• Get into the Word and reprogram the truth back in the place where Satan has placed lies.
• Now walk by faith that God has cleansed you and has restored you. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Every day we must:
Present our bodies-Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
• Deny ourselves-Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
• Be willing to do what God asks us to do-Philippians 3:8-15 and Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
• Continually take our negative thoughts captive-II Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Elizabeth Brown in her book The Joy Choice gives a comparison of wrong thoughts verses right thoughts.

Wrong thoughts make you self-centered; right thoughts make you other centered. Choosing actions and thought that build character is not always easy, for unhealthy thought come in through logical doors. Holes in our character are caused as we justify what we want to do when we know it is not what we should do. We are never tempted to do wrong by things that seem unreasonable. The first instinct against wrong is rejection, but if is nursed in the mind long enough, the mind begins to find ways to rationalize that it is acceptable. Christ said that it is not only adultery that is evil, but lustful thoughts as well, because he knew that mind games can influence character and allow an evil seed to grow into a wrong action King David is a solid example of the way thoughts begin to warp character. No one in the Hebrew nation had a stronger sense of right and wrong that David did as a young man. People respected his ability to stand up for right in the midst of danger, threats, injustice, and persecution. As a young man David was firmly planted in God’s will. David never meant to close God out. He certainly did not recognize he was moving away from God’s direction. David did not move away from God in one big jump. He edged slowly. In 2 Samuel 6:16,20-23 Michal condemns him. He rejects her at that point. His loneliness begins to build thoughts. As the thoughts begin to grow, the rationalization builds, and the morals come down. His eyes become centered on self. If happened so slowly that he did not even recognize that his values had changed until the prophet Nathan came to him after his affair with Bathsheba and rebuked him. “Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:9). After we find our thought have led us into negative thought or wrong actions, we can change at any time. Thoughts may alter our character or change its nature, but we never lose the ability to re-center on what’s right and shine again.

Although sometimes it seems impossible to have this fullness, history and personal testimonies give examples of men who hungered for this fullness and experienced wonderful transformations in their Christian lives. Is this some miracle that God gives only to a select few or can this be obtained by men today? It is said of Andrew Murray, after experiencing this fuller revelation of the Almighty, that he was a changed man. Amy Carmichael in her book Though the Mountains Shakes speaks of her experience with Andrew Murray:

Andrew Murray knew for himself the Spirit-filled life and his life encouraged others to know this way of preaching and power for themselves. In 1895 when Andrew Murray of South Africa was in England taking part in various conventions, and because of physical breakdown in Japan I had returned home. At one time we were both guests in the same house. I knew his books were very good; not that I had read one of them, but a neat row of them dressed in sober grey, lived in my mother’s room, and she and everybody said how good they were. I wondered if he was as good as his books. I found that he was even better. There was not only goodness; there was a delicious dry humor, dauntless courage, and the gentleness and simplicity of a dear child. And he was very loving. He never seemed to be tired of loving.”

Miss Carmichael records in her book about Murray when he went through trials or something painful would happen to him in his life…this is what he would do:

“He was quiet for a while with his Lord; then he wrote these words for himself: “First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place; in that fact I will rest. Next, He will make the trail a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in the grace He means to bestow. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again–how and when He knows. Let me say I am here,
(1) By God’s appointment,
(2) In His keeping,
(3) Under His training,
(4) For His time.”

From Andrew Murray’s The Secret of Adoration comes this exhortation:

“Take time. give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what He asked of you and what He promised you. Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a heavenly light, in which you will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.” Such indeed is the abiding life that draws its sustenance and strength from the Vine. By the refreshing and reviving flow of the Holy Spirit through that life there is prayer that prevails, preaching that is powerful, love that is contagious, joy that overflow, and peace that passes understanding. It is the adoration that is stillness to know God one one’s self. It is the obedience that does the Savior’s bidding in the light of the Word. It is the fruitfulness that rises spontaneously from abiding in the Vine.

It is said of Hudson Taylor after he experienced this possession of the “exchanged life”, he was not the same man. In his own words he expressed this transformation:

” The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full
identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God places me in great perplexity, he gives me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this spring from the believer’s oneness with Christ. and since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! I wish I could tell you, instead of writing about it.”

Charles Stanley relates time in his life when he earnestly sought the filling of the Holy Spirit. He was asked to teach in a seminary, and he felt so unqualified he relates:

It was four o’clock Friday afternoon and my first class was to begin the following Monday. I had done everything I knew to do. I had read, memorized, fasted, prayed, begged, bargained, pleaded, and bordered on threatening a few times. Nothing had changed. Nothing had changed. From my vantage point, stretched out on the floor in our den, I was just as far away from understanding the Spirit-filled life as I had ever been. But I was only moment away. I had been praying for almost an hour. I was reading and meditating on two verses in I John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. I was at the end of my emotional rope. I glanced at my watch and then buried my face in my hand. “Lord,” I prayed, “You will hear me. I know it’s not Your will for me to be frustrated and overwhelmed with this feeling of inadequacy. I believe it’s Your will for me to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. I have done everything I know to do. And nothing has worked. I know You don’t want me to go in there unprepared on Monday. And I know You don’t want me to quit. So, I’m just going to trust You because I don’t know anything else to do.” Immediately, I was overwhelmed with an amazing sense of confidence and assurance. It was a feeling. But it was in such stark contrast with what I had been feeling for the past three months that I knew something had happened. My heart was gone. It had vanished completely. I didn’t see stars or hear a voice. I didn’t speak in tongues. In fact, that was the point. I didn’t do anything–except trust Him. Then it hit me. I had been consumed with a desire to do something, to somehow win the Holy Spirit. I had been trying to convince God with my sincerity. Furthermore, I had been seeking some kind of physical manifestation to confirm that He had done, or was doing, something. I wanted to see something. As I sat there thinking all this through, two verses ran through my mind. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29). The Spirit-filled life is a life of faith. I had missed the obvious. I had been looking all over for something that was right in front of me. I didn’t need to beg. God wanted it for me more than I want it for myself. All I needed to do was believe and move out in faith. I woke up early Monday morning. I couldn’t wait for that first class to begin. As the men filed in, the devil whispered in my ear, “Charles, what do you think you can teach these men? You are the youngest one in the room!” I whispered back, “Maybe so, but I’m filled with the Spirit of truth, and He can handle anything these men throw at Him”

Oswald Chambers learned that implicit obedience which is found in Luke 11:13 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Is all that is needed to live the “highest life?”

He learned that by faith a Christian receives the fullness of God’s Spirit… just like by faith he received Christ as his Savior. Many who knew Chambers spoke of his disposition after this revelation:

As one of the prophets of old, Chambers was a man of God, but not unapproachable nor other-worldly. He was personable and practical, and yet a dreamer, a thinker with a long-range view. One pastor wrote of him: “In friendly intercourse he was one of the most genial and attractive of men. The children in the home loved him and his boyish ways…Yet he was a might unflinching messenger of God. He never obtruded his view upon others, but when men sought further knowledge, they soon found they were in the presence of a master mind.” He was a man of prayer, interceding, imploring, and believing. He had rare insight into the meaning of the Scripture, and from this came pointed and practical preaching. Derogatory speaking on the part of others did not deflect his spirit from following the Savior, who likewise knew what it means to be “despised and rejected of men.” He was literally “a bond slave of Jesus Christ”; and yet none knew more glorious liberty as a child of God…The absorbing passion of his life was utter abandonment to the Lord Jesus and to His will. That abandonment gave him an inner calm and quiet that was constant and consistent. Outwardly he was tireless in teaching, writing, witnessing, praying. He was led to service for the Savior in American and in Japan where God used his Spirit-filled messages to transform many lives.

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Pray for Your Pastor and His Family

If I were the devil, I would devise a scheme to destroy churches. My number one target would be to attack the pastor. How would I do that? Knowing that his family has the area of greatest vulnerability, I would seek to destroy the church by attacking his family. Paul uses clear battle imagery to describe the challenges and issues we face as Christians because of Satan and his demons.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Some church members might be thinking, “I would never allow Satan to use me to destroy our church.”

All church families are under attack, but particularly pastors’ families.

Below are some ways you might be involved in battles that are taking place in your churches, and you don’t even realize it.

Many churches have unreasonable expectations of the family members of pastors. Because pastors’ children and spouses often feel pressure to live up to the expectations of some church members, it often creates resentment toward the church, their husband, and their father. As we were raising our children, one man in the church would tell his boys, “I don’t care what the Pastor allows his son to do…you’re not doing it.” It’s ironic that today sons don’t want to have anything to do with church…yet our son is a pastor.

Many pastors put church members’ needs before his family. The pastor’s family should have a high priority in his ministry. Some pastors get so busy ministering to the needs of others that they neglect their own families. I truly believe a pastor’s family is his greatest disciples. He is training them to be the future leaders of the church.

Many church members are critical of the pastor’s spouse. I just heard this last week, of a pastor who had to leave his church because of his wife. This pastor’s wife had been criticized and hurt so much by the women in the church that she could no longer endure to stay in the church.

Many pastors’ children rebel. The reason many pastors’ children rebel could be related to the criticisms or expectations of church members. Whatever the reason for their rebellion…this is a great distraction for pastors.

Many pastors get too involved with women in the church. A woman will come to a pastor and think that he is more compassionate and more understanding than her husband. As the pastor begins to counsel, it can lead to unplanned circumstances that eventually lead to the pastor’s ruin.

Many pastors’ low finances put stress on his family. Most church members don’t realize it, but usually pastors are the largest givers in the churches. Jealousy among church members is one of the reasons some church members don’t want their pastors to prosper. Someone once told me that he overheard another member say, “I lived in the nicest house in the church, until that pastor moved into that place.”

Church members do everything you can to protect your pastor’s family. Above all, pray for him and his family every day.

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Importance of Developing Godly Friends

Friendships are a gift from God. Good friends can help us grow in many different areas. Developing lasting friendships takes time and sacrifice.

Develop a friendship with a missionary, a pastor, or an evangelist: One good way to develop a lasting friendship is to open your home to God’s servants. Some of our greatest friends are missionaries. At different times in our home, my husband and I have enjoyed Korean and Filipino meals, and we have learned many different customs by hosting missionary friends. At other times, we have gained valuable advice from pastors and evangelists we’ve had in our home.

Develop a friendship with a child: Sometimes we forget how valuable our influence can be in a child’s life. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:33…evil communications (companionships) corrupt good manners. Today many children are growing up in families without any moral direction. When you develop a friendship with a child, you might be the very person God will use to sow seeds of faith and encouragement into the heart of a future pastor, pastor’s wife, or missionary wife.

Friendships are very important to our lives: My daughter and son-in-law moved to Texas a few years ago. After living in New England all their lives, it took some time for them to make friends in a new area. Recently, they found a church where they made some wonderful new friends. These new friends relieved their loneliness and gave them a new sense of belonging and purpose. One great thing about friends is that they can spur us onto good works. In fact, it was a good friend who inspired me to write my first book.

Someone once did a survey asking several different people of various ages to write a brief description of a good friend. Here are a few of those descriptions:

“Someone you can bare your soul to and not be afraid it will get around.”
“Someone who has ‘tactful truth’ and is not afraid to tell you.”
“One who knows you well, but still loves you.”
“A person, who understands you, appreciates your view and is loyal to you.
“Someone who enjoys being around you, accepts you for who you are, and is faithful to you when the chips are down.”

…But the definition I like the best is: A friend is a trusted confident to whom I am mutually drawn as a companion and an ally, whose love for me is not dependent on my performance, and whose influence draws me closer to God.

Consider the friendships you have developed through the years:

Casual friends: We all have casual friends. These are people that we have met at different times in our lives, but we didn’t develop lasting friendships with them.

Close Friends: Someone once said, “You only make a few close friends in your lifetime. Our close friends are the friends we have developed through ministry or work, and we desire to stay close to them because of a special bond we’ve experienced. It is these friends that we feel safe enough to share our deepest feelings. Although we don’t see them often, we always look forward to spending time with them.

Counseling Friends: Maybe there was a time in your life that you went through a deep trial or suffering, and you had a friend who counseled you and guided you through your crisis. This friend will always be special to you.

What Does It Take to Develop Lasting Friendships?

First, it takes time and patience: Developing lasting friendships can take months or years. Some people want to make temporary friends with people who have money, position, or power. Friendships built on those criterions will eventually dissolve through time.

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.

Second, it takes love and sacrifice: Sacrificial love means giving up important things for things that are less important. A person who sacrifices his time and resources to develop a friendship is a person who truly loves. Sacrifices may be as small as sending an email, texting a message, or mailing card.

I read an illustration about a man who lost a good paying job. He was able to get a new job, but it paid much less than his previous one. At the end of the month, this man found it difficult to pay his bills. He reconnected with an old friend who had once been a missionary. This man’s friend, now a pastor of a growing church, realized his friend’s predicament and gave him money to pay his rent. This pastor’s generosity so moved this man, that he remembered thinking at the time, “I have just seen Jesus.”

Matthew 25:40 …Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Third, it takes listening and acceptance: Being a good listener is the largest part of acceptance. Proverbs 18:13 tells us that we must not answer a matter before we truly listen to what others have to say. If a friend is struggling in a certain area, he should feel safe enough with a friend to voice his thoughts without negative criticism or a judgmental opinion.

A good friend can be cheaper than therapy: A judgmental attitude slams the door shut to a friend sharing a problem. It is important not to give a friend advice before hearing all the facts of his situation. I just heard a saying this week, “Unasked for advice is seldom taken.” We all have a tendency to give our “opinions” without fully listening to a person’s problem or circumstance. There are times when our friends just need someone to listen to them without judging them or giving them advice.

One of the first verses I first learned in my counseling training was: Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

John 8 gives us a wonderful example of this in the story of the woman taken in adultery. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.” Jesus does not expect us to accept or approve of sin; but like Him, we must show His love to our friends without condemning them.

Fourth, it takes encouragement and spiritual edification: Friends either drive us away from the Lord or draw us into a deeper walk with Him.

God’s goal for our lives after we first get saved is our spiritual growth and sanctification. As God begins to mold and transform us, He may begin to take away our old friends because He doesn’t want us to have friends who will be a negative influence in our lives. Many times, it is our old friends who will try to hinder us in our spiritual walk with the Lord.

We need to make friends with other Christians who are godly and Spirit-filled. These are the friends who will help us grow in the Lord.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

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1. Admit to the offended person that there is a problem.
2. Always focus on the problem…not the person.
3. Admit to being part of the problem. You could say, “I realize that you have a problem with me. Can we talk about it?”
4. Don’t assume that you are innocent in the problem.
5. Point out the goodness and value in the offended person.
6. Try to resolve problem by seeing the offended person’s point of view.
7. Ask the offended person’s forgiveness for your part in the problem.
8. Divide the problem into areas where you both agree.
9. Satan’s tactic is to escalate a problem. If the offended person says something to aggravate the problem, keep a calm and relaxed voice and good eye contact. Don’t retaliate with your words. You could say, “Would you give me time to think about this and process it in my mind?”
10. Don’t be so full of pride that you that you can’t learn anything from the offended person.

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God’s Timing Is Always Perfect

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him. We must remember that God’s timing is perfect.

Psalms 18:30 tells us As for God, his way is perfect. From the time we are born until the moment we die, God is accomplishing His divine purposes on this earth.

Waiting on God’s perfect timing is not always easy. Human nature makes waiting for God’s timing a difficult thing to do. Because we live in a microwave society, even Christians find it difficult to wait for anything or anyone…they want what they want…and they want it right now. Psalm 37:7a Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

When we wait on the Lord, it reveals our trust in the Lord and His timing. As mature Christians, we understand that God operates according to His perfect and foreordained schedule, not ours. Our heavenly Father knows exactly where we are in our lives at every moment. Remember, everything that happens in our lives is for our good and for His glory. God often uses our trials to strengthen our patience. It is our patience which allows our Christian faith to mature and become complete.

God has a plan for each one of us as His children, and He wants what’s best for us. He always answers our prayers in three ways…No…Yes…and…Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before He gives us the desires of our hearts. Even though it is in our nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength, the following story is a great illustration about waiting:

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life God was with him. He was with him in the pit…He was with him in the prison, and He was with him in Potipher’s palace. God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther…God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what’s best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing. When we wait on the Lord, we will see miraculous things happen. Why? Because it’s God’s timing and not ours.

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Counseling: Crisis of Life

SURVIVING THE CRISIS OF LIFE

Everyone experiences crises in their lives. When we choose to love someone, we must accept the possibility that we may lose that person to death or separation. Since crises are an inevitable fact of life, it’s important we know how to survive them. We must prepare for them and be prepared to help others when they go through them.

The Crisis Opportunity: During a crisis, we are thrown off balance, and the crisis represents a turning point for better or worse. If we cope effectively, we can strengthen our potential for a rewarding life. It can be an opportunity that enriches our personality by helping us shake off old habits and establish new ones.

Crisis and Illness: 93 percent of all major illnesses were associated with life changes whose value totaled at least 150 points annually. Not every major life change or crisis produced illness, but several of them together could add up to do so. Of persons with life changes totaling 150-199 points, 37 percent had an illness. When changes totaled 200-299, it was 51 percent; over 300 points, 79 percent became ill. Life events that appear to affect our health, with the point values assigned to these events, are listed here:

Life Event Values

Death of spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Jail term 63
Death of close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Fired at work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain of new family member 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of close friend 37
Arguments with spouse 35
Mortgage over $10,000 31
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Son or daughter leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Wife begins or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in work hours or conditions 20
Change in school 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Mortgage or loan less than $10,000 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in family get-togethers 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Minor violations of the law 11

First Stage: Denial. The doctor tells a wife that her husband is dying. “No, not me — it cannot be true” is her first reaction. Our first response is usually denial: “It can’t be true.” We say to ourselves, “It won’t happen! It just can’t happen! God wouldn’t let this happen to us after we’ve faithfully served Him.”

Second Stage: Anger. “Why me?” usually follows the denial stage. Someone asked a widow, “Why are you so angry over your husband’s death?” The widow quickly and angrily replied, “I am not angry. Why do you say that?” After arriving home, she pondered her friend’s statement and recognized that she really was angry. Admitting her anger helped her move on to the next stage.

Third Stage: Bargaining. After dealing with anger, an individual may think that if he talks nicely or bargains with God, God may change His mind. Bargaining is often used when divorce is involved. An individual may say, “I promise I won’t step out on you again if you will give me another chance.”

Fourth Stage: Depression. This is the most difficult stage. The depressed individual needs careful attention because he believes he cannot do anything to relieve his suffering. Depression may involve retreating, shrinking or withdrawing, or even committing suicide. An individual going from one lifestyle to another descends into a valley that may be compared to the “valley of the shadow of death” mentioned in the Twenty-Third Psalm. The Psalm says that we do not walk through this valley alone because God is with us. Though a husband or a wife is gone, we are never alone. God is with us during each stage of life’s journey.

Fifth Stage: Acceptance. If a patient has had enough time (i.e., not a sudden, unexpected death) and has been given some help in working through the previously described stages, he will reach a stage in which he is neither depressed nor angry about his ‘fate. Acceptance should not be mistaken for a happy stage. It is almost void of feelings. It is as if the pain and struggle is over, and there is a time of rest before the long journey. There are a few patients who fight to the end, who struggle and keep a hope that makes it almost impossible to reach this stage of acceptance. They are the ones who will say one day, ‘I just cannot make it anymore.’ The day they stop fighting, the fight is over. In other words, the harder they struggle to avoid inevitable death — the more they try to deny it — the more difficult it will be for them to reach this final stage of acceptance with peace and dignity.

Counseling Those in a Crisis: A crisis is a disruption in a person’s state of stability by a disturbing situation. Just as we need to talk about death, there is a need to discuss divorce because divorce is the death of a relationship. Understanding where we are in a crisis helps us evaluate our emotions. It helps to vent our emotions into nondestructive channels. Life changes such as death and divorce have a stressful effect upon people. Negative responses to these stresses lead to physical illness, emotional illness, or possibly suicide. Positive responses can strengthen our potential for a rewarding life and enrich our personality. Reaching the stage of acceptance in a crisis helps our faith to grow and develop. As Christians, we have a certain or “sure” hope. In Hebrews 6:19, we read: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast …”

There is nothing — no circumstance, no trouble, no testing — that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory.

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Trials Prepare Us To Be Good Soldiers

Taken from Streams in the Desert (September 30)

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11-12).

Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”
There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times.

Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?–Spurgeon

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Am I Really Hearing God’s Voice?

Have you ever wondered, “How do I really know if I am hearing God’s voice?

Habakkuk knew God was speaking to him (Hab. 2:2).

Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).

There have been days that I have been working around the house, and then suddenly a thought will come to me to pray for a certain person. I firmly believe that thought was the Holy Spirit telling me to pray for that person.

When I was attending Bible College, I had a dear friend who had been a missionary in the Congo. She related a story about a terrible time in her ministry. Here is story as she related it to me:

The rebels were outside our house. We had to hide under the bed to avoid bullets flying through the walls. When we heard the rebels stomping up the front steps, we ran out the back way and climbed over a fence to escape. Some months later, when my husband and I returned to the states, we related the incident to our pastor. As we talked with our pastor, we coincided the time…the pastor then told us that it was during that same time period, he stopped preaching in the middle of his sermon and told everyone to get on their knees. The pastor said he couldn’t explain why…but he instructed the congregation that they must pray for us.

Did God speak audibly to that pastor…no, but it was a sudden urging from the Holy Spirit that told that pastor to pray for those missionaries because they were in trouble.

When God lays people on our hearts, we must become still so that we can sense the Holy Spirit’s flow of thoughts in our spirits.

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Habakkuk knew that to hear God’s quiet voice, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions.

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still, and know that He is God. The average Christian’s life is so busy that he isn’t can focus his spirit on hearing God’s voice.

It’s in stillness, not busyness, that we can tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. Although the Lord always speaks to us in that “STILL, small voice”, there are many times His voice is drowned out by all the noise around us.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore, if we want to hear the voice of God, we must study and know the teachings of Jesus.

John describes Jesus in 1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

If we are going to hear the voice of God, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus.

In an ordinary conversation, we speak, then listen for the response of the other person. It’s the same with God! Once we’ve prepared our hearts to listen through prayer, we’re more likely to hear the voice of God when He speaks to us through His Word.

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