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Archive for March, 2011

Hold on for the Joy.


Joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5

You may be walking through the driest, darkest, most desperate situation of your life, but hold on—joy comes in the morning.

Remember, weeping lasts only for a night.

The army of God goes forth in the morning and marches under the banner of light (John 9:5).

Jesus declares, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

Stop drinking from the old wells of your past traditions and worldly pre-occupations.

Refuse to drink the stagnant, sin-infested, putrid waters of this world, and dig new wells deep into the pure waters of God.

Sing a new song unto the Lord as Israel did: “Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it” (Numbers 21:17).

Christ is the well of living water springing up within us.

We must allow His well to flow continually and eternally from within us through the Holy Spirit.

“He that believeth on me [Jesus], as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive)” (John 7:38-39).

Jesus, fill me with Your living water.

No longer will I be content with the night or with a dry season.

I long to live in Your light and drink Your living water. Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

Ultimate Joy.


“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34-35

Jesus drew His strength from His obedience; it was His sustenance.

That is what excited Him, just being obedient.

Similarly, what makes a Christian a consistently committed person is that he gets his joy in doing what he knows pleases the Father.

When he is obedient, that is his joy.

When we are obedient, too often it is because we say, “Well, later on I’ll get something out of this.

” But what happens when this is our motivation is that we give up when the going is rough; we give up if things do not work out.

We want some evidence that this obedience counts for something.

We must come to the place where we get our joy from obedience.

Joy is the unlooked-for reward that Jesus certainly knew was the outcome of His humility.

Although we know that Jesus is God, He allowed Himself to be considered as other than God: He allowed Himself to have another identity in peoples’ eyes.

We will sometimes use the expression projecting an image.

Everyone has an image.

Sometimes it is an image we want; sometimes it is one we dislike.

What image did Jesus project?.

There was one identity, and it was one that if they said it, He considered it a compliment.

Do you know what it was?.

It was the identification as a prophet.

In truth, Jesus is said to be prophet, priest, and king.

Jesus embraced the role of a prophet, and this is the image He conveyed.

It is interesting that the one undoubted characteristic of a prophet is that vindication always comes later, after death, when they get to heaven.

This is the problem.

Jesus was a prophet, and to be a prophet means no vindication until you are dead, and then, when you are safely out of the way, the next generation will praise you.

My fellow Christians, we are called today to become prophets.

Expect no recognition; do not even expect a decent burial.

But great will your reward be in heaven!

Excerpted from Meekness and Majesty (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1992, 2000).

By R.T.KENDALL.

{ Day 90 }:


But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ1 Thessalonians 5:8-9

It is this revelation of Jesus’s ravished heart for us that awakens our hearts to fervency for Him.

It ignites holy passion in us.

It is His love for us and our response of love and devotion back to Him that act as a breastplate of love, guarding our hearts with holy affections in times of temptation.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

If Your love is so passionate for me, dear Father, then I am filled with such an intense longing to devote my heart and life to pleasing You.

Guard my heart, dear Father, and draw me ever closer to You.

Jesus yearns for you with a longing for an even more intimate relationship with Him.

By MIKE BICKLE:

When God Speaks.


When was the last time you heard a word from God?.

When was the last time He communicated to you in a way that you were absolutely certain it was God communicating to you?.

Has it ever happened? Can it ever happen?

I believe hearing God’s voice can be a regular occurrence in your life.

Because the Holy Spirit of God lives within us, we can have conversations with God that are as clear as the ones the disciples had with Jesus.

Those conversations may be different, but they can be just as clear.

How is that possible?.

How do we know when we’ve heard from God?

The Bible is the primary way that God speaks to us today, although He certainly confirms His Word to us through His Spirit, our prayers, and the fellowship of other believers.

But there’s one condition for our hearing: we must come to His Word in earnest.

Unconditional Love, Conditional Guidance

If you’ve ever tried to make conversation with someone who won’t respond, you eventually quit speaking.

It isn’t that you don’t care, but why waste your breath?.

God also expects a response from us. But when we hear His Word in honesty and respond to what He has told us, we will hear Him more and more frequently—and clearly.

It’s a solid, scriptural principle that if you shun the light He gives you, no more comes.

But if you respond to the light you have, He’ll give more.

God is more than willing to reveal Himself and His will if we have ears to hear Him.

God speaks personally, clearly, and specifically if we have met this one condition.

It won’t be a subjective voice that causes you to wonder where it came from or what it means.

He will speak to you about your life, your relationships, your work, your future, His plan for you, and your dreams—if you come prepared to follow His lead.

But the question remains: how does He speak?.

Exactly how can you have this honest, actual relationship with an invisible Jesus who will communicate with you and let you know His will?

I believe there are three approaches to the Bible that we need to take

: (1) come to it as a love letter; (2) come to it as an instruction manual; and (3) come to it as a road map.

The Love Letter

Years ago, my wife and I were going through a difficult time.

We had conversation after conversation, and still weren’t quite seeing each other’s point of view clearly.

One day she wrote me a letter that explained how she really felt about the issues in our relationship. I carried it in my briefcase for years.

Why did I do that?.

Because that letter conveyed her heart.

I didn’t just want to read it, I wanted to savor it and drink it in.

I wanted to understand the motivations behind the things she said, to be touched by every nuance of every sentiment.

So I carried it with me to many cities and continents to read over and over again.

Whenever I thought about our relationship, I could pull it out and remind myself of what she felt.

That letter was more than just words; it was the heart of the woman I married.

If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to read His Word like a love letter—not just study it systematically to get through our daily devotions.

There may be times when we read the Bible out of obligation, but if you are really seeking the heart behind the words, the sense of obligation vanishes and the joy of relationship begins.

You’ll recognize His Word as a note of love from a God who wants to draw you closer.

The Instruction Manual

I have a friend who used to let me borrow his mountain home on occasion.

With a large window overlooking a beautiful lake, it was the greatest place in the world to get refreshed.

The only problem is that the home was built in stages on three or four different levels, and to turn on the water you practically needed a Ph.D.

There was an instruction sheet on the refrigerator for visitors to turn on the water.

I normally don’t read directions—I don’t even like them—but I had to follow these to the letter.

If you don’t have water, you can’t cook, eat, use the bathroom, do the laundry, and a whole lot of other important things.

These instructions were not exciting reading, but they were necessary.

The Bible is an instruction manual on how to live.

It isn’t always going to give us warm emotions and teary eyes, and there won’t always be a special verse jumping out at us.

But 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that it is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

” If we want to know what’s true and how life works, the Scriptures will teach us.

God will show what’s right about our life and what needs correcting.

He will give us direction and set us on the right path.

He will guide us in how to mend that broken relationship or how to make things go right at work.

The Bible is the comprehensive equipment for the servant of God, and it equips us fully for all kinds of work.

In order to get the benefit of the instruction manual, we need to read it—to have a plan and be systematic about it.
And we should do it over and over, because while the Bible never changes, we do.
Different parts of the Word will instruct us over different seasons of our lives.
We should read it regularly.

The Road Map

I went to Phoenix to look at a college with one of my sons, and found the city fascinating: All the streets go in one direction and all the avenues in another.

It’s supposed to be very easy to get around.

But my method for getting around is a lot like the way many people approach their Christian life: They go from gas station to gas station asking for directions.

Instead of getting the map, they ask one person who happens to be a Christian and then another, until they have all the advice they need to make a decision.

The problem is that they are putting their destiny in the hands of other people with different experiences.

There’s nothing wrong with good counsel, but it should come in the context of a personal relationship with God and His Word.

We need the road map. When I finally bought a road map of Phoenix, everything became clear.

The way to use a map is to study it.

We need to come to God’s Word and study what He says about forgiveness, about relationships, about work, about parenting or singleness, and about other areas of our lives.

When we study the Bible topically, we equip ourselves to understand specific areas in depth.

God will speak to us when we come to Him with open ears and a readiness to follow His will.

He will especially speak to us if we approach His Word in these three ways: as a love letter, an instruction manual, and a road map.

If you do this, I am convinced you will look back over the course of your life and see ways that God has specifically led you through difficult circumstances or hard decisions.

In your heart, His voice will become real.

By Chip Ingram.

First and Foremost.


A group of seminary students were given the task of organizing the Ten Commandments in their perceived order of importance.

Interestingly, these students felt that the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” should be number-one on the list.

The seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” was also placed near the top.

But the group relegated the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” to the bottom of the list.

They didn’t think it was all that important.

In God‘s listing, however, it is a different story.

He puts this commandment at the top of the list.

But why is it the number-one offense to God?.

It comes down to this: If you have broken this one, then everything else will fall apart.

One day a man came to Jesus and asked Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28 NLT).
Jesus responded,

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel!

The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’

The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

‘ No other commandment is greater than these.” (verse 29, NLT)

With that statement, Jesus essentially summed up the Ten Commandments: Put God in His rightful place.

Make Him number-one in your life.

Could this be said of us today?.

A survey revealed that 76 percent of Americans believed they had been completely faithful to the first commandment.

In other words, they might have problems with some of the other commandments, but for them, the first commandment was not a problem.

But is that true?.

It’s hard to say.

You see, everyone has a god.

Everyone, including atheists, bows at some altar.

We don’t all worship the true God, but we all worship.

Everyone has something they believe in, some passion that drives them, something that gives their life meaning and purpose.

For some, their god is possessions or money.

Others worship their bodies.

They worship at the church of the perfect physique.

Still others worship success or pleasure or relationships.

But we all worship someone or something.

With the first commandment, God was establishing the fact that He is our God and was showing us His place in our lives: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:2-3 NLT).

It is amazing how much can be revealed by a simple little pronoun such as “I.

” Only one letter long, it conveys a profound and fundamental truth about who God is.

When He said, “I am the Lord,” He was, in effect, refuting all other belief systems, including pantheism, polytheism, deism, and new-age thinking.

When God says, “I am,” He is revealing that He is a being, not a mere force of nature.

He says, “I am. . . . I feel. I think. I care.”

God is not an impersonal force, as pantheism would teach.

Nor is He one of many gods, as polytheism claims. God said, “I am the Lord your God” (emphasis mine).

As 1 Timothy 2:5 reminds us, “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity-the man Christ Jesus” (NLT).

In contrast to the teaching of deism, which says that God has no interest in the affairs of men, the first commandment shows us that we have a God who sees and hears and cares.

God reminded Israel that He had blessed and protected them up to this point: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.”

The Bible says that God is a jealous God. By “jealous,” it doesn’t mean that God is one who is controlling and demanding and flies into a rage without the slightest reason or provocation.

The jealousy the Bible is speaking of is the jealousy of a loving Father who sees the possibilities and potential of His children and is brokenhearted when those things are not realized, or worse, are wasted and squandered.

Jesus said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?.

Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NLT).

Is God number-one in your life today? Or, are you allowing other gods to crowd Him out?

By Greg Laurie.

 

Discover Your Personal Battle Plan.


Woman WarrioeBEFORE YOU CONQUER YOUR JERICHO, YOU MUST SEEK GOD FOR HIS WAR STRATEGY.

Joshua never had to face the kind of fearsome threats that challenge believers today.

When he led Israel into the promised land, he didn’t have to worry about the likes of Saddam Hussein, chemical weapons or suicide bombers.

On the home front, he didn’t have to concern himself with job layoffs, rising gas prices, a shaky stock market or the loss of his retirement portfolio.

But Joshua did have to face his own set of giants.

Just across the Jordan River were real threats that had many of his fellow Israelites shaking in their boots.

How did he approach these giants and ultimately defeat them?.

By pressing into the Lord to gain a fresh strategy for each new battle.

In the perilous times in which we live, many people are filled with fear.

There are giants in the land.

As Christians we need to follow Joshua’s example.

By seeking God each day for fresh words of divine strategy for ourselves, our families and our nation, we can defeat the giants.

DON’T BELIEVE THE BAD REPORT

Before the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the promised land, Moses sent a team of 12 men to spy out the territory.

When the spies returned, 10 of them gave a fear-filled report.

They had seen giants in the land.

Next to these giants, they had seemed like mere grasshoppers.

Israel could never go up against them and win.

But two spies—Joshua and Caleb—came to a different conclusion.

Yes, the giants were big and strong, they said; but they could take the land because the God of Israel was more powerful than any giant.

Unfortunately, the people of Israel chose to believe the report of fear.

Never mind that they’d witnessed God’s powerful signs and wonders during the course of their escape from Egypt.

Their “grasshopper mentality” resulted in their refusal to battle the giants and take the land God wanted to give them.

Instead they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness for 40 years.

Joshua ended up leading an entirely new generation into the promised land.

When we look at the dangers facing us in the world today, do they appear to be giants, while we seem like grasshoppers?.

Or do we, like Joshua, have faith that our omnipotent God is greater than any enemy we might encounter?

JOSHUA’S SECRET: THE SECRET PLACE

Joshua spent 40 years in the wilderness with the rest of the nation of Israel.

His time was not wasted, however.

He spent his days in the “secret place” of God’s presence, getting to know the Lord in an intimate way.

Whenever Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to meet with the Lord, Joshua would linger nearby (see Ex. 33:11).

Joshua loved being near the presence and the glory of God.

God used this wilderness period in Joshua’s life to prepare him for the monumental battles that lay ahead.

By the time he was chosen to be Israel’s new leader, he was known as “a man in whom is the spirit” (Num. 27:18).

To overthrow the giants, Joshua would need to draw on the intimate relationship with God that he’d developed in the desert.

He would need to seek fresh revelation on a daily basis.

GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS

On their way into the promised land, the Israelites faced many challenges.

Yet with each new challenge, God gave Joshua a unique strategy for success.

Many of the strategies didn’t make sense from a military perspective.

But as Joshua and the people followed God’s ways and not their own, they experienced victory.

The first challenge came before Israel even crossed the Jordan.

Under God’s divine guidance, Joshua sent two men to spy out Jericho, the first city that Israel would have to conquer.

Once inside the city walls, the two spies were directed by the Lord to a very unlikely hiding place: the home of Rahab the prostitute.

It was probably the last place the men expected God to send them.

But the Lord knew that Rahab was the one person in Jericho who would take them in.

Because the spies followed God’s unusual strategy, they were kept safe.

In the process, Rahab came to faith in God and was saved from Jericho’s destruction.

When the spies returned to Joshua, they were flush with victory.

They immediately filed this faith-filled report: “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are faint-hearted because of us” (Josh. 2:24, NKJV).

With that first challenge successfully behind him, Joshua moved on to the next one: how to get the entire population of Israel across the Jordan.

The timing could not have been worse.

It was flood season, and the river was overflowing its banks.

Joshua could have said, “Lord, can’t we just wait a little longer, until the waters recede?”

Instead he listened for God’s divine strategy.

The Lord’s instructions were specific.

First, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant would step into the river.

As their feet touched the water, the current would be held back supernaturally, and the rest of Israel would cross on dry land.

The priests would remain in the riverbed until Joshua appointed one man from each tribe to pick up a stone from the spot where the priests were standing.

Then the stones would be used to build an altar to God so that, as Joshua declared, “all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty” (Josh. 4:24).

Israel’s supernatural crossing of the Jordan made a powerful impression on their enemies.

According to Joshua 5:1, “their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.”

WHEN WE’RE WEAK, HE’S STRONG

The Israelites must have been thrilled with their success and eager to hear God’s next miracle strategy.

But the divine instruction that followed was probably not a welcome one.

That generation had been born in the wilderness, and the men had never been circumcised.

Now God said each man would need to be identified as a child of Abraham, qualified for covenant blessing, through the act of circumcision.

Here they were, about to go into battle to take the city of Jericho, and the Lord was commanding them to do something painful, something that would make them vulnerable and weak!

How could they defeat Jericho if they could barely walk?

But God’s strategy was perfect.

He would show Himself strong in their weakness.

Circumcision was only the first step.

Through a special visitation from heaven, Joshua was given more divine instructions that must have stumped Israel’s military minds.

Can you imagine this scene? Joshua, Israel’s fearless leader, steps up to the platform.

A cheer goes up.

He clears his throat.

“The good news is, the Commander of the Lord’s army has just appeared to me,” he says.

The people whoop and yell, waving their shields and jabbing the air with their swords.

Then he continues: “The bad news is, He gave me the battle plan.” Kicking the sand with his toe, he mumbles, “Uh, priests march, trumpets blow, everyone shouts, walls fall down.”

The confused soldiers scratch their heads.

No commander on Earth would plan for a battle like that!

True. The strategies that God gave Joshua for overcoming obstacles and defeating giants were, to say the least, unusual and creative.

Yet the Lord knew the timing and strategy necessary for each victory.

When Joshua and the people trusted the Lord’s wisdom above their own and obeyed His direction, God moved with supernatural power to bring them to victory.

SLAYING OUR OWN GIANTS.

Like Joshua, you and I are challenged by many giants.

New and potent dangers are all around us, both in the world and in our personal lives.

But we don’t have to shrink in fear.

Just as God guided Israel supernaturally, He will also guide us if we learn to be like Joshua and seek Him on a daily basis.

We can have fresh revelation and know God’s divine strategy for each new battle—no matter how big or how powerful the enemy might be.

How do we do this? Here are eight keys:

1. Return to your first love.

Spend intimate time alone with God—not attending church, not serving in ministry, not reading the current Christian best seller.

Be together, just the two of you.

Cut fluff from your schedule.

Lop off any areas of your life that don’t correspond with God-given assignments.

Spend long hours waiting in His presence.

2. Intercede.

Through prayer, fasting and worship, go into the heavenly war room and get fresh strategies and weapons for each day’s new battles.

Take comfort knowing that Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for you (Heb. 7:25).

3. Lay aside differences.

Do a personal inventory of your relationships with family and friends.

Where necessary, relinquish your rights, forgive and love one another as an act of worship to God.

4. Trust Jesus.

Identify your fears.

Do you see yourself as more than a conqueror, or are you a grasshopper hiding in the giant’s shadow?

The issue is your trust in Christ’s eternal character.

Ask the Lord to show you the strongholds of fear in your life and how, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can bring them down.

5. Have an ear to hear.

Hearing the voice of God is a survival mechanism for us all.

The Lord promises that His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him (see John 10:3-4).

Press in to hear the voice of God, confident that He wants to speak words of deliverance to you.

6. Rest in Him.

Did you know that rest is a form of spiritual warfare?.

Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

” God wants to give you rest and peace in the midst of turbulent times.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus promised (Matt.11:28).

7. Ask for the lost.

Ask God how to knock down the fortified walls in your heart and in your world.

And while you’re at it, ask Him to show you the Rahabs in your workplace, school or community that He wants to pluck from the rubble.

Don’t be surprised if He uses them to communicate divine strategies that will save your life as well as theirs.

8. Feed your spirit on the goodness of God.

Meditate on Psalm 91 and keep a journal of God’s faithfulness in your life.

Remember His faithfulness as you approach each new battle.

Declare that by grace and faith in the finished work of Jesus, you are an overcomer.

God will crush the enemy under your feet!

He has done it before; He will do it again.

Before Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, the Lord told him: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you…

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:3,9).

You and I have that same promise today.

Don’t be afraid!

Our giants are nothing more than grasshoppers in the eyes of our omnipotent God.

By Jill Austin.

Choose Your Attitude.


sad womanIF WE WILL FOCUS ON GOD, HIS TRUTH WILL STRIP AWAY THE SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO DEPRESSION AND BEGIN THE HEALING PROCESS

God has a potent, supernatural prescription for depression—His Word! Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (NKJV).

The Word will not only diagnose our condition, it will also prescribe a potent treatment program that drives depression out of our lives and sets us free!

God’s Word is the ultimate antidepressant.

God’s plan for dealing with depression is very different from the world’s plan.

The world wants us to reopen our wounds and recall every injustice from the past.

The Word tells us to focus on the Healer.

When depression tries to come upon you, determine to look at Jesus—not at your distress.

When you focus on God and His Word, the cause of your depression becomes irrelevant.

God’s answer is the same: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3-4).

Depression has many causes—in both the spiritual and the natural realms.

Spiritually speaking, generational curses in a bloodline can predispose members of certain families to suffer from depression.

In the physical realm, medical treatments, chemical or hormonal imbalances, fatigue, and just plain stress can be the culprits.

Additionally, unresolved emotional issues or abuse can bring overwhelming sadness, anger and the inability to function normally.

The bottom line is: Depression is a supernatural spirit of destruction straight from the devil, and as such, needs to be treated like an enemy.

We must take a strong stand against it and refuse to give it any power in our lives.

Depression stems from an underlying root of unbelief—unbelief in God’s care, goodness, faithfulness, presence in your life or ability to get you out of seemingly “impossible” situations.

Unbelief is more than simply harmful to you; it is sin. In Mark 16:14, Jesus rebuked the disciples’ “unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe.

” We cannot afford to make excuses or convince ourselves we have a right to be depressed.

Instead, we need to take the supernatural prescription God has provided.

BIBLICAL EXAMPLES

The saints of old had to do the same thing.

The Bible indicates in 1 Kings 18 and 19 that Elijah was at the pinnacle of his “career” as God’s prophet.

Yet, at the end of chapter 19, he has plummeted from his highest high to his lowest low, sinking into a deep, suicidal depression.

Elijah began to look at his circumstances and feel very sorry for himself.

This opened the door to destruction and caused him to cry out to God, “I’ve had enough….Take away my life.

I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be now” (1 Kin. 19:4, The Living Bible).

Elijah focused on the past and on the unfair treatment he had received from Jezebel.

He forgot about the amazing things God had done in his life and now found himself hiding in a cave, alone and depressed.

I love God’s response to Elijah: “Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.

‘ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kin. 19:11-12, NKJV).

God came to Elijah and spoke in a still, small voice—the voice of the Spirit.

When depression comes to your door, don’t open it!

Listen to what God says to your spirit.

As He did for Elijah, God will give you a truth that will take you through despair.

Freedom occurs as you listen to His quiet voice.

“‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:32).

When you find yourself physically and emotionally exhausted, His gentle Spirit will remind you of His faithfulness—past, present and future.

King David struggled with depression throughout his life.

Sometimes it was self-induced, brought on by his own sin.

On one such occasion, he said, “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity” (Ps. 31:10).

At other times David’s despair was the result of his enemies’ treatment of him.

This was the case in 1 Samuel 30.

Before David became king of Israel, he and his 600 men were on the run from both King Saul and the Amalekites.

They took up residency at a place called Ziklag (which means “overwhelming despair”).

Once, after David and his men had been away, they returned to discover that the Amalekites had attacked the city, set fire to it, and taken their wives and children captive.

“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters.

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam. 30:6).

This was one of the worst days of David’s life.

All seemed lost.

There was no one around who could help him or lift him up out of the horrible pit he was in.

That’s what depression does.

It isolates us from others and steals our joy.

David cried out, “I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses!”

(Ps. 25:16-17) Yet, in the midst of his despair, David took God’s prescription for his depressed state and “encouraged himself.”

How did he do this? Listen to Psalm 25:5-6: “On You I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old.”

As David spoke of God’s faithfulness to him, he was literally speaking his deliverance from the depression and oppression threatening to destroy him.

In Psalm 32:3 he wrote, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old.

” David knew the importance of speaking the Word in order to walk in victory.

How can you “strengthen yourself in the Lord” when depressing thoughts and circumstances rise against you? .

Read the Word and say what it says.

Refuse to speak negatively.

Instead, agree with the Word.

What does the Word say about you?.

That you are more than a conqueror…that you can do all things through Christ…that you always triumph through Christ…that all things will work together for your good…and so much more! (See Rom. 8:37; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 8:28).

Revelation 12:11 confirms that we overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of [our] testimony.”

It was the Word of God that spoke to David’s heart!

It was the spiritual “secret weapon” that set him free from the overwhelming circumstances of Ziklag.

If you read the rest of 1 Samuel 30, you’ll see that David gained a mighty victory—he rescued his wives and children, and recovered all the spoil that had been taken!

Jeremiah is another Old Testament prophet who dealt with depressing thoughts and situations.

For 37 years, he preached to the unrepentant Israelites.

They had turned away from God to worshiping idols, and Jeremiah was called to confront them.

His heart was broken for Israel’s sins and the judgment of God that was coming upon the people (see Jer. 8:21-9:1).

Yet Jeremiah used the supernatural weapon of the Word to resist depression: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).

He was set free from the depression and filled with joy.

How did Jeremiah get his joy?.

He ate God’s Word! When we are attacked by depression, we need to take our “faith pills.

” We need to “eat” God’s Word—to read it, meditate on it and speak it.

If circumstances pile up, simply “eat” more Word.

Unlike a traditional prescription, there are no adverse side effects from the Word and you can take it as often as needed!

The truth will not only set you free from depression, despair and hopelessness; it will give you joy in their place.

Jesus said, “‘These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full’” (John 15:11).

He promises us a double portion of joy—His and ours!

What is the source of your joy? .

Circumstances?.

Money?.

Health?.

Your spouse?.

Your job? .

No, the Word is to be the source of our joy, and God’s supernatural double-portion joy will defeat depression every time!

YOUR WORD PRESCRIPTION

Depression is of a supernatural origin.

Therefore it’s going to take the supernatural—a greater truth and stronger anointing—to gain the victory and keep depression out of your life.

Here are some important steps to take.

Repent.

If you’ve allowed unbelief into your heart, causing you to become depressed, the first thing you must do is repent.

Accept God’s forgiveness and ask Him to give you faith in place of your unbelief.

Then you can claim with the psalmist: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.

I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5).

Speak your deliverance by speaking God’s Word.

You must refuse to speak the negative, doubt-filled lies the enemy tries to get you to agree with, and instead agree with God’s Word—out loud.

Accept the Word above your circumstances.

As you look to Jesus and the Word, not your troubles and trials, you’ll find the victory you need.

The Bible tells us He is our Deliverer.

As the psalmist declared: “He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.

They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support” (Ps. 18:16-18).

Make a choice to rejoice.

As you “eat” the Word, God will replace your depression and despair with peace and joy.

Make Psalm 103:2 your daily confession: “I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things He does for me” (The Living Bible).

A FINAL PRESCRIPTION.

Have you ever noticed that depression and anxiety often come at night?.

God in His mercy has given us a nighttime prescription in Psalm 4:4,7-8: “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still….

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (NKJV).

You can go to bed and have sweet dreams; you can lay your head down and not be depressed.

What about when you wake up?.

Have you ever faced discouragement in the morning?.

God has written a prescription for that too! Psalm 5 is your morning dose of the Word: “Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (Ps. 5:2-3).

Morning, noon and night, you can take your supernatural antidepressant.

As you focus on God’s Word, listen to the Spirit’s voice and allow Jesus to give you a double portion of joy, you can walk in victory over every spirit of depression that tries to disable you or sidetrack your life!

God’s prescription for joy will keep you depression-free!

By Marilyn Hickey.

Claiming the Next Generation.


Teen with a tudeWHETHER YOU’RE A PARENT OR NOT, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LOOKING TO YOU FOR GUIDANCE. LET’S STEER THEM INTO GOD’S PURPOSE.

“Lord, have mercy on our souls,” I mumbled to myself as my friend Marvie turned the key in the ignition.

She was 16, did not have a driver’s license and was behind the wheel of my father’s car.

I was 15, was a nervous wreck on the passenger side and had just pulled off an unlikely scheme to fool my Dad into handing over the keys.

Our mission was to make it to a gospel concert at Detroit’s Northwest Activity Center.

We were determined to fulfill that mission.

After all, we both loved good singing, and it wasn’t as if we were sneaking off to a Jackson 5 concert.

It was a gospel concert, for goodness’ sake.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the whole plan to unravel.

Although we made it to the auditorium, we never heard one note of that good singing.

One of my brothers was in the audience and spotted us right away.

The questions came fast and furiously.

We were totally busted.

Within the hour, I was back in my bedroom on Woodingham Street.

When Dad found out that Marvie had showed him a fake ID and that I had lied to him, he didn’t say anything; he simply shook his head.

The look of disappointment on his face as I told him the entire story made me want to run and hide in shame.

That adolescent prank happened more than 25 years ago.

But lessons learned from the experience have stayed with me to this day and are helping me to impact the next generation, including my own two teenagers.

The first lesson I learned is that the heart dispenses its own retribution.

My father didn’t have to punish me with a whipping or a verbal tirade.

I had been raised in a godly, decent home.

I had been taught what the Bible said: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1, NKJV).

I knew that I had brought dishonor to my family’s good name and (at least for a moment) had lost the favor of my dad.

It made me want to cry for days. Guilt from betraying a loved one’s trust has its own sting.

The second lesson I learned is one of forgiveness.

I had disappointed a wonderful man who had placed his trust in me.

Dad could have shunned me or made me walk around in disgrace for weeks, but he didn’t.

Instead, he chose to be an example of what it means to forgive someone you love.

My parents knew the power of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

” Growing up with the last name of Winans meant more than growing up in a house full of music.

Mom and Dad worked hard to create a home in which love took priority over things.

Discipline was second to love.

And laughter ran a close third.

Regardless of all the hustle and bustle involved in bringing up seven boys and three girls, my parents consistently pointed their children in the direction of holiness.

In a nutshell, this meant honoring your parents, respecting your elders, not talking back and having a fear of God.

Throughout the years, they gave us a firm foundation.

As each of us matured and set out on our own journeys, we took with us the truth of God’s principles and the assurance of His grace.

Now as I look back on that incident of teenage rebellion in my own life, it seems rather innocent.

The current temptations and dangers facing my two teens, Alvin and Ashley, are overwhelming—even scary—at times.

The young generation of today is literally bombarded with negative and disturbing messages from all corners of the culture.

Music, movies, television and the Internet seem to invade our families with ungodly and anti-Christian influences.

Instead of talking about the joys of romance, fidelity and commitment, teens are using phrases such as “casual sex,” “friends with benefits” and “hooking up.”

They enter a sports arena and, instead of finding heroes or role models, they’re introduced to athletes who have violent outbursts, use dangerous drugs and live immoral lifestyles.

Even a simple trip to the mall can turn into a moral dilemma.

Teenage girls who still believe in modesty and purity receive little help from the marketing and manufacturing professions.

Being stylish without being suggestive is difficult these days.

I look into the eyes of these precious young people and think how unfair it is for them to be faced with such choices.

Although I’m disheartened by it all, I believe there are ways to counteract the coarsening of our culture—and it’s up to us to get involved.

SHARING THE RESPONSIBILITY

Recently, I heard about a small county just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, in which half the young female residents are suffering from HIV/AIDS.

At first I was astonished, then heartbroken, then convicted.

This wasn’t a big city statistic or news from a foreign country.

This was coming from my own backyard.

As my heart was stirred, I began to think about my own generation and its relationship to the next.

I believe we’re letting the young people down.

In many ways, we’ve missed the mark.

The Bible tells us, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach” (Titus 2:7-8, NASB).

Every mature believer should be a good example—a godly role model—for those who are younger.

As a parent, I’ve never understood the idea of trying to be your child’s best friend.

Alvin and Ashley have many friends but only one set of parents.

My husband and I love them with all our hearts.

We know it’s important to show our love, not just by having fun with them, but also by nurturing, teaching and protecting them.

Every adult believer can do this for the youth around him.

Nurturing involves showing young people their true worth.

They must be taught to see themselves the way God sees them.

He valued their lives so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to save and redeem them.

Real self-esteem comes from knowing Him and believing the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

Teaching involves introducing the next generation to the importance of God’s Word.

I’ve been thrilled to watch my children develop a real appetite for the ways of the Lord.

They’re beginning to experience a revelation of Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

But this desire didn’t grow by accident.

Consistent exposure to the power of the Scriptures came through attending church services, Sunday school, youth group and Christian summer camp.

I believe seeds were planted in Alvin and Ashley even when they weren’t aware of it.

Honest study of the Bible reveals that God’s Word is alive and active in our lives.

Psalm 119:105 says it this way: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

” When the next generation becomes full of the Word of God, they’re also going to become the leaders God created them to be.

Protecting our teens in this day and age can be a real challenge.

But we must make every effort to offer them clear guidelines.

Establishing parameters can prevent many a broken heart and damaged spirit.

I’ve told my children often, “Anything that God does not smile upon is not good for you to listen to or watch.

” It’s a simple yet powerful reminder that we’re to keep our senses sanctified.

The opportunity to nurture, teach and protect is not available only to parents.

We all have a responsibility to encourage the next generation to be bold for the Lord.

I know from personal experience that it requires help to raise a godly child.

I clearly remember how the saints of Mack Avenue Church of God in Christ made an impact on my life when I was young.

They showed me love, gave me correction and prayed for me.

Church was a place where God-fearing people surrounded me: preachers, mothers, deacons, trustees, teachers, elders and friends.

We loved one another as family, and we were taught to be accountable for one another’s care.

The adults felt responsible for one another’s children.

And everything my parents taught me at home was reinforced at church.

I grew to appreciate being surrounded by that kind of love and protection.

When believers take the time to sow truth and grace into a child’s life,

whether that child is theirs or not, they are blessed.

These saints are investing in their own future by helping to shape the values of generations to come.

TURNING THE TIDE

There are four practical steps Christian parents and the church community can take to help empower the next generation to live for the Lord.

Talk to them.

Don’t be afraid to approach them about every aspect of their day.

If you sense something is wrong, ask questions—lots of them.

My children know I plan to “stay in their business.

” I make sure they understand that it’s my love for them that compels me to be involved.

Pray over them.

I remember hearing my mom and dad pray over all their children at night.

I can still hear their voices as they lifted each one of us to the throne of grace.

James 5:16 tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (NKJV).

I have no doubt their earnest prayers played a powerful role in my life.

Today, I find myself doing the same thing on behalf of my family.

When I stay on my knees and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me, I receive guidance and counsel.

It’s one of the most valuable gifts I can ever give my children.

Set the rules.

Help them guard their eyes, ears and hearts from influences that will negatively affect their spirits.

This takes effort and consistency, but it’s extremely important.

At the same time, allow them to enjoy acceptable entertainment that’s fun and exciting.

Plan family events and look for wholesome movies.

Encourage their creative, athletic and musical abilities.

Thankfully, there’s a great deal of uplifting gospel and Christian music being recorded today.

It’s a wonderful alternative to what’s being offered in the secular marketplace.

Encourage them to make right choices.

Remind young people that each time they stand up for what’s right in the eyes of the Lord, they gain strength.

The more strength they gain, the better leaders they will become.

Eventually, they’ll be the ones influencing others to make godly choices.

Most teenagers feel different from their peers in one way or another.

Let them know that being different on behalf of the Lord is a blessing, not a curse.

I’ll always be grateful that my parents provided a moral compass for my siblings, my friends and me.

I’m convinced that the biblical truths and ethical principles they stood on a generation ago still work today.

They were steady and wise.

Looking back, I realize I could always depend on Mom and Dad for certain things.

Although the household rules were very strict, I knew that I could trust their discipline.

They were fair and reasonable.

Even in the midst of being punished, I never doubted their love for me because they showed it in so many ways.

Church was my family’s second home. We had to go.

When we weren’t at church service on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, we were attending summer church camps, going to revivals, or off somewhere singing in the young people’s choir.

We were submerged in the things of the Lord and discovered what it was like to be in His presence.

It was a life-changing discovery.

The Bible tells us, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11).

Mom and Dad kept us motivated.

They encouraged each of us to achieve our full potential.

Dad in particular never lost sight of the fact that we were young and needed something to do.

He showed us that a saved life was not a bored life.

When we weren’t bowling, we were skating.

When we weren’t skating, we were playing baseball or running track.

If we weren’t playing sports, we were having concerts.

Life was busy, and my parents were always involved.

Many times, our instinct is to shield the next generation from every ungodly thing.

But that’s impossible.

Instead, we must equip them for whatever they may face.

Whether we’re parents or not, we have a responsibility to plant a seed—say a prayer—get involved—be a role model.

There’s a generation counting on us…and the time to start making a difference is now.

Read a companion devotional.


CeCe Winans is an award-winning vocalist, including 11 Grammy Awards and 20 Dove Awards.

By Cece Winans.

Did the Jews Expect a Messiah?.


Strictly from the gospel accounts, the expectation of the Jewish Messiah comes through clearly.

For example, Simeon and Anna (Luke 2) both understood the importance of Jesus’s birth, and Simeon in particular detailed the Messiah’s role as “a light of revelation to the Gentiles [non-Jewish nations].

” When the magi arrived (Matthew 2), the scholars in Israel directed them to Bethlehem as the Messiah’s birthplace.

John the Baptist, in answer to the priests and Levites sent from Jerusalem, immediately confesses he is not the Messiah (John 1:20).

The apostle Andrew calls his brother, Peter, to Jesus by saying, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).

Later, the Samaritan woman at the well knows the Messiah will come (John 4:25), and the crowds listening to Jesus argued not about the reality of a Messiah, but His place of origin and what signs were appropriate (John 7:27-31).

In Acts 5:36-37, Gamaliel hints at the Messiah “fever” of the age.

Two other men at around the time of Jesus had gathered a following by claiming to be the Christ.

Neither, however, could fulfill the prophetic requirements, and consequently their followers dispersed.

Beyond the Bible, Jewish rabbis had long expected and made reference to the Messiah based mostly on Old Testament prophecies.

A review shows that their statements align with the New Testament fulfillment: His existence before the creation of the world; His preeminence over Moses and the angels; His sufferings; His violent death for His people; His kingdom; and others.

However, their expectations also included speculation beyond Scripture, which is why many rejected Jesus as Messiah.

In addition, several works written prior to, concurrent with, and soon after Jesus’s life and ministry make reference to a coming Messiah.

These works, called the Pseudepigrapha because the authors wrote under false names, offer glimpses into the expectations of the Jewish people scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.

Adapted from The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (Book II, Chapter V) with additions from the lecture notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition atShepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

By Alfred Edersheim.

 

When Will Jesus Return?.


During a radio interview two days after an earthquake and tsunamis wreaked so much devastation, the host asked if this could be a sign of the Second Coming of Christ.

It is a relevant question in light of what Jesus said inMatthew 24.

When the disciples asked, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (v. 3), Jesus offered six “signs” of the Second Coming (vv. 4-14).

We can call the third one Natural Disasters (vv. 7b-8): “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

When a woman is pregnant, she knows from the calendar the general time when the baby is due.

Her body begins to send specific signals as the day approaches.

Those signals are called labor pains.

They begin with low intensity and low frequency.

Sometimes they can go on for several days and then suddenly stop.

They may start and stop several times (so-called “false labor“).

But eventually the labor pains start in earnest.

Even then the tempo is slow and steady.

As time passes, the pains come more frequently and with greater intensity.

In the end the pains come rapidly and finally in one great burst the baby is born.

Something like that will happen at the end of this age.

The coming kingdom of Christ will be preceded by an unprecedented period of seven years of suffering and worldwide travail.

The clearest picture of that seven-year period is found in Revelation 6-19.

The “signs” we see around us remind us that there is much evil in the world.

And the picture of the “birth pangs” teaches us that there is a flow or tempo to world events that is controlled by our Heavenly Father.

We simply cannot be certain how the current tragedy fits into the larger prophetic picture.

To say “I don’t know” may not satisfy our curiosity, but it is far better than pretending to know something that God alone knows.

Taken from “Earthquakes and the Second Coming” by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).

Dr. Ray Pritchard.

 

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