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Posts tagged ‘NLT’

How Gratitude Is the Key to a Healthier Life.


Thanksgiving prayer
An attitude of gratefulness is important to all areas of your life. (Paul Armstrong/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Simply saying the word fills the air with the comforting aroma of my mom’s homemade stuffing and floods my mind with images of orange-yellow leaves drifting down from treetops and forming crunchy piles underfoot. I can envision the gigantic Turkey Float making its way through Manhattan during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and hear the men of my family cheering on the Dallas Cowboys in the TV room.

But what if Thanksgiving was more than just a holiday revolving around festive parades, football games and the daylong activity I like to call “Gobble ‘til you wobble”? What if it was more than an elaborate meal around which we say grace and thank God for the blessings of friends, family and freedom? What if we made Thanksgiving—or, in verb form, “giving thanks”—a daily exercise?

As it turns out, showing gratitude is more like exercise than we might expect. It offers a cornucopia of health benefits that can radically improve our mental, emotional and physical states. Here are a few reasons you should consider making “Thank you” a favorite phrase:

1. You’ll Exercise More
In an experimental comparison, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCollough found that those who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised more regularly and felt better about their lives as a whole. They were even more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to the non-journaling group.

Being optimistic, as many of you may know, is a biblical principle that teaches us to seek the good in life and to focus on it. Making a concerted effort to think on our blessings and give thanks for them automatically places our hearts and minds in a position poised to exude life-altering positivity.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8, NLT).

2. You’ll Have a Greater Sense of Well-Being
Emmons and McCollough also noted that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction and vitality and lower levels of depression and stress. It’s pointed out that grateful people don’t deny or ignore the dreary aspects of life, but their thankful attitude overpowers unpleasant emotions and enhances positive ones.

Job was a righteous man who lost everything: all of his possessions, his health, even his 10 children and the faith of his wife who told him to “curse God and die.” But somehow, despite his physical suffering and spiritual affliction, Job lifted up his shaven, sore-covered head and steadfastly praised God. Even though his faith was challenged, it was never destroyed. After everything had been stripped away, he chose to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Because we’re told in chapter 1 that Job was upright and blameless when he had much, it’s safe to assume he was probably also a thankful man. Being grateful in the good times gave him faith to endure the hard times and place his hope—his very life—in God’s hands. We can likewise equip ourselves to weather life’s storms when we show gratitude while sailing on smooth seas, when we look up at the clear night sky and thank our Captain for His guidance, protection and provision.

3. You’ll Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
What is also interesting about Emmons and McCollough’s research is the striking evidence that grateful individuals place less importance on material goods. The participants’ weekly records of gratitudeshifted their focus from possessions to personal goals and from anxiety to appreciation. The result was that they became less envious of others. They were even more likely to be more generous with their own possessions than their “less grateful” counterparts.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul began comparing himself to the other apostles, calling himself the least among them. He said he was not even worthy to be called an apostle because of his shameful past as a persecutor of the church. This unhealthy comparison swiftly comes to a halt when Paul’s thoughts return to thankfulness:

“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Paul remembered how blessed he’d been by the grace of God, and the burden of condemnation that had crept onto his shoulders quickly evaporated. When we replace words of self-pity with songs of praise and rebuke toxic thoughts of comparison with reminders of our righteousness through Christ, the roots of envy are suffocated and the fruits of the Spirit begin to blossom once again.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Prov. 14:30, NIV).

This Thanksgiving, when you’re gathered around the family and friends (and food!) you hold dearest, I challenge you to commit to carrying the spirit of gratitude and gratefulness with you, long after the holiday season has faded into the dawn of the new year. I challenge you to make thanksgiving a daily celebration of God’s grace, an endless feast upon His eternal promises, and a constant chorus of thanks for the finished work of His Son.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Ps. 118:1, NLT).

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

DIANA ANDERSON

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House’s Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness. Her popular website can be found at fit4faith.com, and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be reached on Twitter. This article was originally posted to her blog.

Vampires in the Bible.


 

Grave at NightImage: © Bill Fairchild

What Does the Bible Say About Vampires?.

You won’t actually find a vampire in the Bible. Werewolves, zombies, vampires, and other such fictional beings are creatures originating from medieval folklore and ancient mythology.Legend suggests that vampires are corpses who leave their graves at night to drink the blood of sleeping humans. Another term for vampires is the undead. Although technically dead, they have the ability to animate.In today’s culture, especially among young people, fascination with vampires is very much alive. Wildly popular Gothic novels, television shows, and romance films like The Twilight Sagaseries have transformed this traditionally repulsive creature into a mysterious and seductively powerful (albeit dark) hero of our day.

A Vampire Theory in the Bible

One rather imaginative theory claims that vampires originated from two verses in the book of Genesis:

The legend of Lilith derives from a theory that Genesis has two creation accounts (Genesis 1:27 and 2:7, 20–22). The two stories allow for two different women. Lilith does not appear in the Bible (apart from a debatable reference comparing her to a screech owl in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 34:14). Some rabbinic commentators, however, refer to Lilith as the first created woman, who refused to submit to Adam and fled from the garden. Eve was then created to be Adam’s helper. After their expulsion from the garden, Adam reunited for a time with Lilith before finally returning to Eve. Lilith bore Adam a number of children, who became the demons of the Bible. According to kabbalistic legend, after Adam’s reconciliation with Eve, Lilith took the title Queen of the Demons and became a murderer of infants and young boys, whom she turned into vampires.Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (5). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Among respectable Bible scholars, this theory would never see the light of day.

Christians and Vampire Fiction

Perhaps you’ve come here wondering, Is it okay for a Christian to read vampire books? I mean, it’s only fiction, right?Yes, from one point of view, vampire tales are only stories. For some they are just harmless entertainment. But for many teenagers and young adults, the vampire attraction can become an obsession. Depending on the person’s mental and spiritual condition, self-image, and family relationships, an unhealthy and potentially dangerous interest in the occult might easily develop.

Indeed, most scholars include vampirism in the occult category, along with witchcraft, astrology, spiritualism, Tarot card and palm reading,numerology, voodoo, mysticism, and the like. Over and over in Scripture God warns his people to stay away from involvement with occult practices. And inPhilippians 4:8, we have this encouragement:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (NLT)

Dabbling in Darkness

In spite of our current-day glamorized vampires, it’s difficult to deny the connection between their “world of the dead” stories, the powers of darkness, and evil. So, another clear peril in delving even casually into this shadowy fantasy world is the tendency to become desensitized to the real powers of darkness in our world.Ephesians 6:12 states:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (NLT)

Jesus Christ is the light of world, and he asks us to walk in his light:

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)

And again, in John 12:35 our Lord said:

“Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.” (NLT)

Parents are wise to prayerfully consider the risks of allowing a child unsupervised exposure tovampire fiction. At the same time, labeling this a forbidden topic may create even greater temptation for a child.Ultimately, the best response for a parent whose child shows an interest in vampire tales, might be to allow the child to discover through thoughtful discussion both the merits and the damaging elements in these stories. As a family you might talk about the details of the plot, and then hold those details up to the light of truth in Scripture. In this way, the allure of vampirism is dispelled and the child can learn to wisely judge truth from fiction, light from darkness.

By 

A Lost Art: The Ministry of Encouragement.


Encouragement

Who are you encouraging? Who are you building up?(Tim Dorr)

When our home phone would ring on Saturday morning, I knew it was probably my future wife’s grandfather, Hubert Sparks, calling. He called my dad almost every Saturday morning. He didn’t call to complain, make a suggestion or ask for anything; he called because he was genuinely interested in the welfare of his pastor.

“Sparks here, Pastor. Just calling to see how you and your family are doing. How can I be praying for you today?” The conversations were always short and to the point, and my dad always hung up feeling better. Hubert Sparks was the most encouraging man I’ve ever met.

The ministry of encouragement seems to be a lost art, replaced by the art of networking. Every relationship needs to be milked for all it’s worth. Who does this person know? What can they teach me? How can they help me or my organization get ahead?

Lip service is given to a person’s well-being, but what we really want is information and connection. I love networking and helping others, but I find myself getting cynical when every email, text or phone call begins, “I was wondering if we could get together? I have something I want to run past you.”

This week I had the chance to catch up with some old friends in Charleston, S.C. None of them wanted or needed anything from me, and I wasn’t trying to learn, grow or network. We were just friends swapping stories, hurts and prayers.

I walked away from each conversation refreshed and encouraged. It made me wonder, “Who am I encouraging? Who loves to get my call or text because they know I’m just checking to see how they’re doing? Who looks forward to getting together for coffee because they know they will walk away encouraged?”

The interesting thing is that encouragement is a biblical imperative:

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (1 Thess. 5:11, NLT)

Who are you encouraging? Who are you building up? Who do you connect with on a regular basis with no agenda other than a genuine interest in their life? We all need a Grandpa Sparks in our lives.

Geoff Surratt has served as the pastor of church planting at Saddleback Church and pastor of ministries at Seacoast Church. He is the co-author of The Multisite Church Revolution and The Multisite Church Roadtrip as well as the author of Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing. Geoff blogs here and Twitters here, but he juggles for no man.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

Written by Geoff Surratt

What Does the Bible Say About Hell?.


Vision of Hell

Engraving ‘Vision of Hell‘ (Circa 1650).

Photo: Getty Images

Hell in the Bible is a place of future punishment and the final destination for unbelievers. It is described in Scripture using various terms such as eternal fire, outer darkness, a place of weeping and torment, the lake of fire, the second death, unquenchable fire. The most terrifying reality of hell is that it will be a place of complete, unending separation from God.

Biblical Terms for Hell

The Hebrew word Sheoloccurs 65 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “hell,” “the grave,” “death,” “destruction,” and “the pit.” Sheol identifies the general abode of the dead, a place where life no longer exists.Example of Sheol:

Psalm 49:13–14
This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah. Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)

Hades is the Greek term translated “hell” in the New Testament. Hades is similar to Sheol. It is described as a prison with gates, bars, and locks, and its location is downward.Example of Hades:

Acts 2:27–31 
‘For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (ESV)

The Greek word Gehenna is translated “hell” or “the fires of hell,” and expresses the place of punishment for sinners. It is usually associated with the final judgment and depicted as being an eternal, unquenchable fire.Examples of Gehenna:

Matthew 10:28
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (NKJV)Matthew 25:41
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels …’ ” (NKJV)

Another Greek term used to indicate hell or the “lower regions” is Tartarus. Like Gehenna, Tartarus also designates the place of eternal punishment.Example of Tartarus:

2 Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment … (ESV)

With so many references to Hell in the Bible, any serious Christian must come to terms with the doctrine. The passages are grouped in sections below to help us understand what the Bible has to say about hell.

Punishment in Hell is Eternal

Isaiah 66:24
“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (NIV)

Daniel 12:2
Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (NLT)

Matthew 25:46
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV)

Mark 9:43
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. (NLT)

Jude 7
And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. (NLT)

Revelation 14:11
“And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (NKJV)

Hell is a Place of Separation from God

2 Thessalonians 1:9
They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. (NLT)

Hell Is a Place of Fire

Matthew 3:12
“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NKJV)

Matthew 13:41–42
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NLT)

Matthew 13:50
… throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NLT)

Revelation 20:15
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. (NLT)

Hell Is for the Wicked

Psalm 9:17
The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. (ESV)

The Wise Will Avoid Hell

Proverbs 15:24
The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below. (NKJV)

We Can Endeavor to Save Others from Hell

Proverbs 23:14
Physical discipline may well save them from death. (NLT)

Jude 23
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (NLT)

The Beast, False Prophet, Devil and Demons Will Be Thrown into Hell

Matthew 25:41
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’ ” (NLT)

Revelation 19:20
And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (NLT)

Revelation 20:10
… and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)

Hell Has No Power Over the Church

Matthew 16:18
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will buildmy church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (NLT)

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (NKJV)

By 

The Key to Power.


“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.” 1 John 3:24a NKJV

Tired of weak religion, repetitions with no life? You and I need the power of God to be more than just ordinary Christians.

What do we do to generate more power, supernatural power ? We need the discipline of obedience.

The word “obey” comes from the Greek “hupakouo” which means to listen attentively, fully compliant; to hearken to a command or authority, to submit absolutely. (Strong’s Greek) “This word conveys the idea of actively following a command. There is no choice in the matter, it is to be done whether one agrees with it or not.” (WhatChristiansWanttoKnow)

It takes an obedient life to trust God’s wisdom and do whatever He says to do. That obedience deepens our relationship with God and it is in that link that we receive the power He has for us. When you show God how serious you are about your relationship with Him and that you are willing to follow Him wherever He leads, then you will experience His transforming power.

Obedience shows like no other the great trust and love you have for God. “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.” (John 14:15 The Message)

Our obedience to God allows Him to demonstrate His awesome power in our lives.

First you need to obey God’s word. If the BIble says don’t do it, don’t do it. If it says do it, then do it. And focus first on the things you understand. You may not understand what God may be wanting from you through the instructions given to build the temple, but you surely understand pray for them that hurt you, forgive your enemies, sing to the Lord a new song.
Secondly you need to obey and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. Not every detail of what you need to do for your life is written in the Bible. This is why you need to be lead by the Spirit of God. And God doesn’t lead everyone the same way. This is why your personal relationship with Him is crucial.

Don’t wait till you have all the answers from God before doing what He says do. Step out in faith and the Holy Spirit will meet you right there.

Tired of weak religion, repetitions with no life? Discipline yourself to obey God in every area of your life and release more power, more righteousness, peace and joy in your life!

“This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’” (Jeremiah 7:23 NLT)

Wishing you a Blessed Week!


I have told you this, that His joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full! (John 15:11)


By Anita Antwi

Faith Building Bible Verses.


Inspirational Bible Verses to Fortify Your Faith

The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:3 that as we grow in our knowledge of God, through his divine power he gives us everything we need for life and godliness. Jesus relied on the Word of God alone to overcome obstacles, including the devil. God’s Word is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12), useful for correcting us when we are wrong and teaching us what is right (2 Timothy 3:16). So, it makes sense for us to carry God’s Word in our hearts through memorization, to be ready to face any problem, every difficulty, and whatsoever challenge that life can send our way.

Faith Building Bible Verses

Presented here are a number of problems, difficulties and challenges that we face in life, along with corresponding answers from God’s Word:

Anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

      Philippians 4:6-7

(NIV)

      • More on

Anxiety

Brokenhearted

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

      Psalm 34:18

(NASB)

Confusion

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace … 

      1 Corinthians 14:33

(NKJV)

Defeat

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair … 

    2 Corinthians 4:8 (NIV)

Disappointment

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

      Romans 8:28

(NLT)

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Disappointment

Doubt

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

    (NIV)

Failure

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.

    Proverbs 24:16 (NLT)

Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

      2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
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Fear

Grief

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

       (NIV)

• Read Psalm 23 in several popular translations.

Hunger

Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4

    (NIV)

Impatience

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

      Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

• More on Patience

Impossibilities

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

      Luke 18:27 (NIV)
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Postive Thinking

Inability

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

     (NIV)

Inadequacy

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

       (NIV)
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Feelings of Inadequacy

Lacking Direction

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

      Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
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Seeking Direction

Lacking Intelligence

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

    James 1:5 (NIV)

Lacking Wisdom

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

      1 Corinthians 1:30 (NIV)
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Wisdom

Loneliness

… the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

      Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
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Loneliness

Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

    Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

Poverty

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

    Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

Rejection

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Romans 8:39 (NIV)

Sorrow

I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.

    Jeremiah 31:13 (NASB)

Temptation

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

      1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
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Temptation

Tiredness

… but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

    Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Unforgiveness

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

      Romans 8:1 (NLT)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)

• More on Unforgiveness

Unloved

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

    1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Weakness

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

    2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Weariness

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

    Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Worry

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

        1 Peter 5:7(NLT)
        By

        , About.com Guide

When a Christian Dies.


Christian DeathPhoto: Deborah Harrison / Getty Images

Eternal Life Begins.

Don’t mourn for the cocoon, for the butterfly has flown. This is the sentiment when a Christian dies. While we sorrow over our loss at the death of a Christian, we also rejoice knowing our loved one has entered heaven. Our mourning for the Christian is mixed with hope, and joy.

At Home With the Lord

When a Christian dies the person’s soul is transported into heaven to be with Christ. TheApostle Paul spoke of this in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8:

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing … we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life … we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (NLT)

Speaking again to Christians in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul said, “…we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (NLT). Because of Jesus Christ who died and was raised to life again, when a Christian dies, we can grieve with the hope of life eternal. We can grieve knowing our loved ones have been “swallowed up by life” in heaven.

American evangelist and pastor Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) once told his congregation, “Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”

When a Christian dies he is greeted by God. Just before the stoning death of Stephen in Acts 7, he gazed into heaven and saw Jesus Christ with God the Father, waiting for him: “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56, NLT)

If you are a believer, your last day here will be your birthday in eternity.

Jesus told us there is rejoicing in heaven when one soul is saved: “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10, NLT). If heaven rejoices over your conversion, how much more will it celebrate your coronation?

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

Zephaniah 3:17 declares:

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV)

The God who takes great delight in us, rejoicing over us with singing, will certainly cheer us across the finish line as we complete our race here on earth. His angels, too, and perhaps even other believers we’ve known will be there to join in the celebration.

On earth friends and family will be grieving the loss of our presence, while in heaven there will be great joy!

Parson of the Church of England Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) said, “It is not darkness you are going to, for God is Light. It is not lonely, for Christ is with you. It is not unknown country, for Christ is there.”

The Eternal Love of God

The Scriptures do not give us a picture of a God who is indifferent and aloof. No, in the story of the Prodigal Son, we see a compassionate father running to embrace his child, overjoyed that the young man has returned home (Luke 15:11-32).

“…He is simply and altogether our friend, our father—our more than friend, father, and mother—our infinite, love-perfect God…He is delicate beyond all that human tenderness can conceive of husband or wife, homely beyond all that human heart can conceive of father or mother.” –Scottish Minister George MacDonald (1824-1905)

The Christian death is our going home to God; our bond of love will never be broken for all eternity.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)

When the sun sets for us on earth, the sun will rise for us in heaven.

Only the Beginning

Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) had it right when he said, “Death—the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.”

“Think of how powerless death actually is! Rather than rid us of our health, it introduces us to ‘riches eternal.’ In exchange for poor health, death gives us a right to the Tree of Life that is for ‘the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2). Death might temporarily take our friends from us, but only to introduce us to that land in which there are no goodbyes.” —Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer

“Depend upon it, your dying hour will be the best hour you have ever known! Your last moment will be your richest moment, better than the day of your birth will be the day of your death.” —Charles H. Spurgeon.

In The Last BattleC.S. Lewis gives this description of heaven: “But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world … had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

“For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure but a doorway from a world where dreams and adventures shrink, to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.” –Randy Alcorn, Heaven.

“At any point in all of eternity, we can say ‘this is just the beginning.’ ” –Anonymous

Perhaps one of the most exciting promises for believers to look forward to in heaven is described in Revelation 21:3-4:

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (NLT)

From 

Elaine Morse, a contributor to About.com’s Christianity site, is well-acquainted with loss. After the death of her father and several close relatives and friends, Elaine was prompted to create a website for grieving Christians. Her uplifting poems, verses and printed materials are designed to give comfort and encouragement to hurting families. To contact her or for more information, visitElaine’s Bio Page.

Confronting Domestic Violence with Love and Authority.


Dawn Walker

“So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused.” –Ezekial 34:22 (NLT).

As the woman approached me I could tell instantly that she was hurting. But when she rolled up her sleeve and showed me some serious black and purple bruises, I felt something rising up in me that said, this is NOT OK with God!

I asked her questions and listened to her story. Based on her hopeless demeanor, the severity of the injuries she showed me, and the pattern of violence she described, it was clear that this was not an isolated “accident.” I explained to her that when there is a pattern of ongoing abuse, it typically does not stop until there is a boundary upheld and a consequence initiated. I asked, “If you don’t take action to protect yourself today, will anything get better?” She said no.

On any given Sunday women just like this are sitting silently in churches across this country. They don’t know a moment’s peace (Isaiah 59:6-8) and they are worried that their only protectors have left the building. They have no hope for how they will overcome the fear and darkness they live with. The only ‘strong protectors’ they can really count on are those out in the trenches, wearing bulletproof vests and packing weapons.

While most of us would agree that God has called us to be peacemakers, if we’re honest, we prefer that our peacemaking looks like fellowshipping over coffee and donuts or teaching children songs in vacation bible school. This is all good. But sometimes being a peacemaker means flat-out confronting evil. And one great big evil that needs to be confronted by the Church today is domestic violence.

Why is domestic violence such a threat to the Body of Christ? Because it’s an enemy we have given untold power to by keeping it hidden. We don’t talk about it with our teens. We don’t talk about it in premarital counseling. And we certainly don’t talk about it on Sunday mornings. National campaigns to end domestic violence tout the phrase “Break the Silence.” Yet the place where the silence often gets most strongly upheld is in church. Maybe we avoid the topic of domestic violence because if it’s happening within a marriage we consider it off-limits territory. Maybe we shy away because we are uneducated or haven’t had any personal experience dealing with it. Or maybe because confronting it makes us too uncomfortable and calls out of us a relational discernment and spiritual authority we’re not sure we have. Whatever the reason, our silence is costly.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Seventy-five percent of all 911 calls are domestic violence related. One in four women will personally experience domestic violence in her lifetime. It is an evil that pervades all ages, ethnicities and religious denominations.

God was never silent on the issue of violence, yet generations of women have given up on Him because the Church, either through its silence or its misinterpretation of scripture, has told them God does not care about the cruelty and abuse they suffer. Somewhere along the line, these women were convinced to grimly stick it out in marriages where they were emotionally, verbally and physically abused, at the expense of letting their hearts die and shutting out the possibility of a God who lavishly loves them. Most domestic violence victims don’t consider the church a relevant place to go for help, because when they tried asking for help in the past, the response they got was weak or passive at best.

Sure, it’s human nature to want to avoid potentially explosive situations. But we can’t avoid the fact that Jesus never backed down from them. He didn’t back down from uncomfortable conversations or violent people and always offered strong protection to women being mistreated or needing refuge (John 8:1-11). Think about His confrontation with the demon-possessed men in the region of the Gadarenes who were “so violent that no one could go through that area” (Matt 9:28). Or what about the crowds in Capernaum for whom he “cast out many demons” (Mark 1:34). Also, consider the story of Joanna, the wife of Cuza, Herod’s business manager, who was one of the women who followed Jesus (Luke 8:3). If the wife of one of King Herod’s highest ranking leaders was seeking refuge with the Messiah, who was a threat to the king, how do you think that marriage was going? Jesus did not send her back to her husband, so we know there must have been a good reason.

With his Father’s love and authority, Jesus stepped right in the middle of hostile situations time and time again. He stepped in to confront and He stepped in to protect. And with His Spirit, He gives us the love and authority we need to do the same. When we really understand God’s heart on this issue, it becomes clear how we’re supposed to respond:

“He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.” Psalm 72:12-14

In his mercy, God does not allow violence and oppression to continue unchecked. He will eventually intervene to execute His justice. Also, cruelty toward one’s wife is the same as unfaithfulness in God’s eyes. For any woman who has felt compelled to stay in an abusive marriage because she’s been told that adultery is the only biblical grounds for divorce, that is a misinterpretation of God’s heart. When God spoke about divorce in the Bible, he was usually speaking to men with a heart to protect women. In Malachi 2:16 the men of Israel are whining to God about why He wasn’t responding to their dramatic prayers and offerings. God responds, “I’ll tell you why!” and proceeds to chew them out for making a great show of religion while at the same time overwhelming their wives with cruelty.

The bottom line is, God is Love and Love always protects (1 Corinth 13:7). As God’s ambassadors here on this earth, we are also called to protect the weak. A church leader’s number one priority in a domestic violence situation should be taking steps to protect the women and children from danger. They should equip themselves and their church to help victims acquire legal protections if necessary, and help them navigate the financial and logistical challenges of escaping an abusive situation. Second to that, they should stand up to evil by confronting abusers and expect perpetrators to demonstrate real repentence by confessing, taking ownership and engaging in sustained recovery and accountability programs over time before ever advising the woman to reconcile the marriage relationship. They must understand that sometimes God’s redemption of an abusive marriage means reconciling the relationship and sometimes it doesn’t, just as sometimes His deliverance for a childless couple means giving them a biological baby and sometimes it means comforting them through infertility or adoption.

Here are some other things Pastors and church leaders can do and not do to protect and minister to women who are victims of domestic violence:

DO take her seriously when she comes to you for help. Usually by the time she is naming it or saying she is done, she was done years ago.

DO ask questions, listen attentively and believe her (unless the Holy Spirit clearly directs you otherwise).

DON’T tell her to be more submissive or more loving as a solution to the abuse in her relationship.

DON’T say “God hates divorce.” She will shut down and not trust you. She may even leave your church and never return.

DON’T suggest marriage counseling. She needs separate counseling for safety and autonomy.

DON’T send her to file a protective order by herself. This is an overwhelming process to face alone.

DO try to determine how at risk she is of serious physical harm.

DO help her understand that setting boundaries and allowing her partner to experience consequences is a biblical model of addressing oppression and abuse (Exodus 7-14).

DO follow up to make sure she and her kids are safe and doing ok.

DO have a list of crisis phone numbers, local shelters and an action plan to help her in any transition.

DO have a plan in place with church families who are willing to provide temporary housing for women and kids who may not be in immediate physical danger, but who have to leave an abusive environment.

DO be prepared with grocery or gas cards to cover her immediate needs if she has no money.

DO equip several key leaders who can come alongside these women and provide prayer and support during crisis situations.

DO commend her for her courage. Understand she is taking an enormous risk and has a godly instinct to protect herself and her children from further harm.

DO speak words of life and affirmation over her to rewrite the lies she’s been hearing.

DO offer her hope and purpose…she needs to know God’s got a good plan for her.

DO give her ongoing practical help…financial, housing, childcare assistance, and support as a single parent.

DO offer her spiritual reassurance; declare that the violence done against her was wrong and that seeking protection, even from her own husband, is biblically warranted.

Leaving an abusive relationship is usually a frightening and overwhelming process for a woman. She needs to know that someone will come alongside her, that she will be loved and protected, and that God will not abandon her, but will stay close and provide for her and restore her as she continues to trust in Him.

We as the Church can make sure she knows this by bringing the evil of domestic violence out into the light, confronting it openly and taking decisive action against it. When we do this, we will strip away the enemy’s power to continue oppressing. We must recognize that as the Body of Christ we are uniquely and POWERFULLY positioned to be the Strong Protector who will end the tyranny of domestic violence, in individual lives and across our nation. Yes, it is a dark and risky place to go, but who better to go there than those who have been given ALL power and ALL authority to confront, protect and rescue in Jesus’ name!

Dawn Walker is a single mom and lives with her 9-year-old son in Paris, KY. She is the Founder and Director of Single Parent Missions, a ministry dedicated to raising up single parent families to transform generations. She is also a speaker and works with churches to envision and equip them for effective single parent ministry. To subscribe to her daily “Hope Notes” for single parents, visitwww.singleparentmissions.org.

Publication date: August 16, 2013

The Choice to Love God.


“That you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days” Deuteronomy 30:20 NKJV

You’ve certainly heard of the story of the prodigal son who in his rebellious mind took his part of the inheritance and went to squander it in the world.
You’ve also surely heard of how when he came back to his senses after loosing everything, he returned to his fathers’s house where his father welcomed him back with rejoicing.

This story though told many times is not such a big deal in the sense that it is just the story of man. Rebellious in nature, wanting to do things his way and waiting till he had come to end of himself before acknowledging that there is something better.

What is so surprising here is that the father listens to him gives him his share when he asks for it and let him have his way.
“And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.” (Luke 15:12)
Which earthly father would do that while he is still alive?

Now we understand that this story is more about our heavenly Father who loves us so much that He wouldn’t force us into obedience. He loves us so much that He wants us to love Him back the same way, by choice.

But didn’t the Father know that the son was going to waste all the money? That’s the heart of our heavenly Father. He will never force us to love Him, He is therefore willing to take the risk of seeing us get lost in order to win us.

God wants you and me to choose to love HIm. Let’s not wait till we’ve lost everything before we make that choice.

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16 NLT)

Wishing you a Blessed Week!


I have told you this, that His joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full! (John 15:11)


By Anita Antwi.

Tony Morgan: Jesus and Football.


Jesus photo

Football season is right around the corner, and so it’s been one of the hot topics of conversation around our home.

I have one son, Jacob. He’s a sophomore this year. When he graduates, I’m guessing the conversations in the Morgan household will be very different. For now, though, I will take advantage of every opportunity I can get to feed my football fix.

In one recent football conversation, Jacob took things in a very odd direction. He likes to share his opinions. (I don’t know where he got that.) He likes to debate. (Again, this must come from his mother.) In this instance, though, I have no idea what he was thinking. The conversation went something like this:

Jacob: If Jesus played football, I don’t think he would be very good.

T-Daddy (That’s what my kids call me.): Have you had one too many of those brain-stunting Monster drinks? What would make you think that?

Jacob: Have you seen the pictures of Jesus? He’s meek and mild. He wears a robe and sandals. The man has feathered hair!

T-Daddy: Don’t believe all those pictures of Jesus that you see. Just because he wore sandals doesn’t mean he isn’t strong. Just because artists show him with long, flowing, feathered hair doesn’t mean he isn’t powerful.

Jacob: You can’t convince me. If Jesus played football, he would be a kicker … for the Bengals.

You need to know the Morgans are Cleveland Browns fans. Because of that, we’re nurtured from an early age to believe anyone who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals is rather wimpy.

Or, for those who prefer political correctness, they are people who are biologically challenged. Thusly, if you are going to be relegated to being a placekicker, the Bengals would be the lowest of the low.

Of course, as Jacob and I are having this conversation, my daughter, Brooke, is right beside us taking it all in. She’s eight, but she knows both Jesus and football.

She listened for a few moments, and then pipes in with this:

“You know–He can hear you.”

Like I said, Brooke knows both Jesus and football. And she was right. Jesus was listening.

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (Psalm 139:1-4, NLT)

That was the day that my eight-year-old reminded us that Jesus is with us. He’s listening. He’s watching. His desire is to be fully engaged in our lives.

With that in mind, I’m going to talk to Jesus … and find out if he knows anything about fantasy football.

Tony Morgan is the chief strategic officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck.

For the original story, visit tonymorganlive.com.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

TONY MORGAN/TONY MORGAN LIVE

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