How Strong Is Your Faith? – by Joyce Meyer

The Faith You Already Have

As Christians, we all have faith to some degree. The Bible says in Romans 12 that each of us is given “a measure of faith.” We operate in faith all the time and don’t even think about it.

For example, some of you reading this article have teenagers you send off to school every day. That requires some faith. And we all need a little faith every time we drive in traffic.

Even if you don’t feel like a spiritual giant of faith, you can take hope in God’s Word that says that as a believer, you have a measure of faith planted inside you.

Is Your Faith All Talk?

Some of you might say, “Well, I have faith. I believe in Jesus.” Frankly, it’s one thing to say you have faith, but it’s an entirely different matter to apply your faith to life’s challenges.

When the storms of life come (and they do for all of us), do you stay calm, cool and collected? Or do you allow fear to overpower your faith? Do you give the situation completely over to God, or do you try to figure everything out?

Stuff Happens

It’s easy for us to feel like we’ve got great faith when things go well or play out like we want them to. And it’s easy for us to have faith when something new comes along and life is exciting.

But stuff happens. And when stuff happens, how does your faith respond?

“ We operate in faith all the time and don’t even think about it. ”

I’m not just referring to big dramatic events that take place…I’m also referring to the little things that pop up and can easily sidetrack you.

For example, recently I was at a conference, and I had a Starbucks coffee waiting for me after one of the sessions. I absolutely love Starbucks coffee. And the coffee was inside one of these big, double-walled Starbucks mugs that keep your coffee warm for a long time. The mug is a copper color, and I really love to use it when I drink coffee.

Anyhow, after the session I went back to drink the coffee, and somebody had stolen it! The mug, even the creamer…everything was gone.

You see, stuff is going to happen. And years ago I would have thrown a fit if that had happened. I would have cried, “Oh God, why does this stuff happen to me? The devil is always picking on me! It’s not fair!”

But I kept the faith and decided that the whole incident was actually quite hilarious. And then I started thinking, Well, somebody might have been cleaning up and thought they were doing something good. You see, I practiced something else the Bible tells us to do: to think the best of people. That also requires faith.

How to Release Faith

Faith is something that must be released. You can possess faith, but you must put it to use. A muscle that is not used gets weak and shrivels up. If you don’t use your faith, then it’s no different than not having any.

When you sit down in a chair, you have faith that it’s not going to collapse. You don’t start sweating and trembling with fear saying, “Oh, I’m afraid to sit in this chair. I don’t know if I should be doing this!” It’s a silly illustration to make the point: You just go plop down in the chair because you do have a measure of faith.

But what about when you have a problem? Do you go plop down in the arms of Jesus and say, “I’m asking You to take care of this and I believe You will.”

Do you release your faith through prayer, line up what you speak with God’s promises, and do whatever He asks you to do without trying to figure things out? Now that’s the way to release your faith!

Give your circumstance over to Jesus and be confident that He’s got it all under control. Your life will change dramatically once you unleash your faith. Don’t just have it in your heart—let it out, put it to the test and be amazed at what God does through your life!

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims

22 Then came the Festival of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[d]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

What the bible says about same sex marriage.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)

“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
Genesis 2:18-25 (NKJV)

The image of God is both male and female and is reflected in a godly union between male and female where the creative power of God, His life-giving, His self-giving and His moral nature are perfectly expressed. This is only possible in a heterosexual union.

When God created a partner for Adam He created Eve—not another Adam. This means that perfect partnership requires some level of difference as well as a level of similarity so great that Adam could cry out loudly, ”This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman is the normal method of male/female bonding (emotionally and physically) because it corresponds to the design of our bodies and because it is the normal means by which offspring are created.

If God had intended the human race to be fulfilled through both heterosexual and homosexual marriage, He would have designed our bodies to allow reproduction through both means and made both means of sexual intercourse healthy and natural. Homosexual anal intercourse carries a high risk of disease, this is recognized in Scripture where gay men are said to receive in their bodies the due penalty for their error (Romans 1:27).

Editor’s Note: Various studies indicate that homosexual behavior makes both men and women more vulnerable to disease and decreases lifespan. See: R.S. Hogg, S.A. Strathdee, KJ Craib, M.V. O’Shaughnessy, J.S. Montaner and M.T. Schechter, “Modelling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay and bisexual men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 26 (Oxford University, 1997), pp. 657-661. (“If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday”) / Executive Summary, “Health Implications Associated with Homosexuality,” Medical Institute of Sexual Health (1999) (”Homosexual men are at significantly increased risk for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, anal cancer, gonorrhea and gastrointestinal infections.” “Women who have sex with women are at significantly increased risk of bacterial vaginosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer than are heterosexual women.”) / L.A. Valleroy, D.A. MacKellar, J.M. Daron, et al, “HIV prevalence and associated risks in young men who have sex with men,” JAMA, 284 (2000), pp. 198-204. (Discusses the prevalence of HIV infection and high-risk behaviors in study group of 3,492 young men who have sex with men.) / D. Binson, W.J. Woods, L. Pollack, J. Paul, R. Stall, J.A. Catania, “Differential HIV risk in bathhouses and public cruising areas,” American Journal of Public Health, 91 (2001), pp. 1482-1486. (demonstrates that high risk behaviors are still quite common among homosexual men).]

 

Starting a New Chapter in Your Life

What does it mean to start a new chapter in your life?

How do you know when one chapter ends and another begins? Is it a physical boundary that you cross, or a mental boundary that you cross?

For many people, we identify “starting a new chapter in our lives” with major life events such as graduating school, starting a new career, getting married, moving to a new place, having kids, or retiring – but the truth is we can “start a new chapter in our lives” whenever we want.

We can have an infinite amount of new chapters in our lives. It all depends on when you’re willing to let something go, and when you’re willing to step in a new direction.

Starting a new chapter is ultimately something created in your mind. It’s the meaning you attach to the event that allows you to perceive the event as something that changes you or opens up a new door in your life.

One interesting thing I’m discovering more and more in psychology is the use of rituals or “symbolic behavior” to help people get over the past and open up a new chapter in their lives.

For example, there was a fascinating study published this year in The Journal of Experimental Psychology that looked at the many different ways people use rituals to help themselves overcome feelings of grief and loss.

They looked at 2 groups of people: individuals who had just experienced a failed relationship or a break up, and individuals who had just experienced the death of a loved one.


“Failed Relationship” Rituals:

  • Burning old pictures and letters.
  • Stopped listening to old music that reminded them of the person.
  • Returning to an old location, like where they had their first date, to “reflect” on the relationship.
  • Writing a letter expressing your feelings to the person (but never sending it).


“Death of a Loved One” Rituals:

  • Doing activities that they used to enjoy doing with that person.
  • Creating a song, poem, or piece of art and dedicated it to them.
  • Watching movies and listening to music that reminded them of the person and brought up positive memories with them.
  • Still setting up the dinner table for the lost family member or relative.

Rituals like these can be a very effective way to alleviate grief and loss, because they help the person find more “closure” with the experience – and once they have that, they have an easier time moving on and embracing the future.

Another really interesting thing about rituals, and using rituals to “start a new chapter in your life” is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way – all that matters is that they meansomething to the person doing them.

To an outside person, a ritual can seem silly, ridiculous, or just plain stupid, but if the person doing the ritual finds meaning and comfort in it, then it’s a valid method toward helping them create a new chapter.

Our minds are extremely sensitive to meaning. And often times, something that we see as meaningful can have a much greater impact on our lives than something we only see as rational or logical.

So to really create change in yourself and your life, you have to play more with meaning. And this entails creating “rituals” for yourself, or acting in more “symbolic” ways – because the truth is that is what our brains really respond to.

 

by

Do not Conform.

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord.20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

A Graduation Challenge by Rex Yancey

Congratulations! You have come to a time of transition. It is the biggest transition you have faced in your life up to this point. It is reminiscent of the lad who visited the Grand Canyon with his family. His Dad gave him a diary and asked him to make an entry each day of his insights and observations.

The lad stood on the edge of a very high cliff and spit as hard as he could. He seemed to get a thrill out of the experience. That night, he made his entry in his journal of the days activities.

His father slipped into his room after he had gone to sleep. He saw his journal and could not stand the temptation. He opened the diary and this is what it said, ”Today I spit two miles!”

That was quite an accomplishment. But you also have made quite an accomplishment. Yogi Berra said ”When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” Well, you have come to a fork in the road.

Psalm 32 can be divided into three sections: 1-5 contains confessions and forgiveness; 6-7 speaks of deliverance and preservation; and 8-11 offers guidance for life’s journey.

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. In one of the chapters Christian and Hopeful leave the City of Destruction in pursuit of Mt. Zion. They meet many obstacles and temptations along the way-and so will you.

What are some steps you can take to finish the journey? You cannot arrive at the right destination unless you travel the right road.

1. CELEBRATION

Breathe a sigh of relief. Some of you thought you would never make it. You have! We need to celebrate significant goals in life. We can do that without the presence of mind altering drugs.

When I graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with my doctor’s degree, someone sent me a card that pictured a dog climbing stairs. He had made it to the top of the stairs and there was a bone. I had faced one obstacle after another until I finally made it. It was a time of celebration for me. You have reached the bone. There will be other bones; however, this is a significant one.

I heard about a senior who was about to hand his father his failing report card. He said, ”Before I hand you this, I want you to look at your old report card I found in the attic!”

This is a time of celebration for you, your parents, your teachers, and your spiritual leaders. So celebrate!

2. CONTEMPLATION

This is a good time to have some serious thoughts. One fourth of your life is over if you live to seventy. What will you do with the rest of your life? What you do in the next four or five years will set the stage for the rest of your life.

1. You have a journey to make that is planned by God.

-Jeremiah 1:5 says ”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

-Acts 9:15-16 says ”He is a chosen instrument of mine…”

-Ephesians 2:10 says ”For we are His workmanship, created in Christ J …

Whom Shall I Fear.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safein his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

HE PROMISE OF PEACE IN THE MIDST OF STORM

GREAT PROMISES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Isaiah 26:3)

This promise was given by God in the darkest period of Israel’s history, yet it will be a great help to us now when we are surrounded by much gloom and depression, constantly threatened with the three enemies of doubt, fear and worry. When all is going well it’s easy to read a promise like this in a superficial way, but when disappointment and trial comes these words become precious. There is no promise in the Bible to suggest that here on earth we shall ever experience freedom from trouble, war, trial, temptation, anguish, loss etc., but something far better is promised: it is the promise of perfect peace in the midst of all these. Of what value would freedom from these troubles be if we had no inward peace? Yet it’s possible in the fiercest battle for the trusting soul to experience a deep-down calm, an inward peace and a quiet confidence –- look up Isaiah 30:15. Do you long to experience perfect peace?

1. NOTICE WHAT THIS BLESSING IS THAT IS OFFERED TO US

It is described as ““perfect peace””, but can we define that? Yes, it is a condition of freedom from disturbance; it isperfect harmony reigning within us. The Hebrew word ‘‘shalom’’ has in it the idea of soundness of health, so that to be filled with perfect peace is to be spiritually healthy and free from discord within our souls. There can be no room for jealousy, envy, uncontrolled temper, selfishness, pride, intolerance, harsh criticism, fear or anxiety in the soul that is filled with peace; all these things are disturbing factors in our hearts and discordant notes. The peace which God offers and which by His grace we may experience is very practical. It is a great calm which He commands (Mark 4:39). God calls His peace ““perfect peace””. In what sense is it perfect?

  1. It is perfect in its quality. That is to say, it is perfect in the kind of peace it is. There is an imperfect peace; there is the imperfect peace of ignorance when we imagine that all is going well, whereas in fact all is not well (Jeremiah 6:14). There is the imperfect peace of stagnation. The pool of water may be calm and peaceful but underneath it is foul and green with slime. Many men and women know only a peace like that, and one day the shock of God’’s judgment will stir up their pool and they will find that they have no real peace at all (Isaiah 57:14). Then there is the imperfect peace of dependence, which is a peace dependent upon some thing or some person in this world. The ‘‘thing’’ may fail, the ‘person’ may die –- and where then is their peace? In contrast, God’’s peace is perfect.
  2. It is perfect in its quantity. That is to say, the supply of it is sufficient and it exactly meets our need. The marginal rendering of “perfect peace” is “peace, peace” –- that is double peace. Notice the significance of this in Philippians 4:7 where we read that this double peace is the peace of heart and of mind; and that is the kind of peace we need, a peace that garrisons our mind and calms our heart. It is also double peace in the sense that it is peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the peace of God (Philippians 4:7), and we can never know the peace of God until we know peace with God.
  3. It is perfect in its constancy. It is permanent and not intermittent. The promise says, “”You will keep…”” –- compare Psalm 121:4.

 

2. HOW DOES THIS PERFECT PEACE COME TO US?

  1. By Christ Jesus. In Philippians 4:7 we read that the Lord Jesus Christ is the source from whom God’’s peace flows into our souls. It is the possession of the Christian alone; there is no peace for anyone who does not possess Christ and who is not resting on the finished work of Christ for salvation, thereby ““making peace through his blood, shed on the cross””. Read Colossians 1:19-20.
  2. By the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ procured peace on the Cross of Calvary and it is offered to us by Him as the source; but it is conveyed to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). As the Holy Spirit fills and floods our lives, so He produces this fruit within us.
  3. By His Word. Have you ever noticed the great promise made in Psalm 119:165? A better rendering of ‘’stumble’’ is ‘‘disturb’’. How often things and people disturb us! But here is a promise of perfect peace to those people who love, meditate in and obey the Word of God.
  4. By our obedience. Please look up Leviticus 26:3-6 and be sure to notice that the most important word here is the word ‘‘If’’’. God guarantees to us that if we will do our part He will surely do His part.
  5. By plenty of prayer and praise. Notice that the promise of Philippians 4:7 is preceded by the conditions mentioned in verse 6.

 

3. TWO CONDITIONS MUST BE MET IF WE WOULD EXPERIENCE PERFECT PEACE

Who will God keep in perfect peace? The one ““whose mind is steadfast” and the one who ““trusts””. Both these expressions denote faith but one is a head word and the other is a heart word. What is the difference? With the head we believe that God is the author and giver of peace and that He is able and willing to give it; and with the heart we trust Him to do it, so receive it by faith.

Isaiah 26:3 begins with God and ends with God; it begins with ““you”” and ends with ““you””, and the trusting soul goes in between. Perfect peace is the Lord Himself within us –- not an experience, a doctrine, an ‘’it’’, a code of belief –- but the Lord Himself!

Read This When You Are Having A Bad Day.

1. No one promised life would be perfect.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” -Leo Tolstoy

Don’t condition your happiness on meeting every expectation you set for yourself. It is good to be ambitious, but you’ll never be perfect. If you expect otherwise, your life will be rife with disappointments.

2. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” -Molière

Don’t kid yourself into thinking success will come quickly. It isn’t easy to be patient, but anything worth doing requires time (often, lots of it!). If you get frustrated, remind yourself why your goal is important.

3. There is a lesson in every struggle.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
-Haruki Murakami

Don’t complain about how terrible your life is. It is tempting to do, but stressing out won’t make you feel any better. If you search for the lesson in your present struggle, you’ll be able to make positive changes that would prevent similar situations in the future.

4. Without hard times, you wouldn’t appreciate the good ones.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

Don’t get sad if you lose. It is hard to find much to smile about when you fail, but how else would you improve yourself? If you look at failure as a part of your evolutionary process, you’ll stay positive and pursue your goals for as long as it takes.

5. It’s okay to cry sometimes.

“Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

Don’t be afraid of crying. It isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather an acceptable way to let go of your upset feelings. If you let those feelings build up without release, you’ll have a much harder time dealing with them later.

6. It’s not okay to worry forever.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” -Corrie ten Boom

Don’t worry about everything. It is human nature to obsess with all the things that could go wrong, but this will result in a self-inflicted mental nightmare. If you forget about the things you can’t control, you’ll be empowered to to concentrate on the things you can.

7. No one’s life is as picturesque as it looks.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” -Marcus Aurelius

Don’t compare your life to what another person reflects online. It is okay to interact with your friends online, but don’t believe everything you see. If you feel like your life pales in comparison, realize that you are comparing yourself to a highlight reel of their lives.

8. It takes courage to ask for help.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It is tough to put yourself in a vulnerable position, but opening up to a friend will help you deal with your troubles. If you feel like a burden, remember that no one would have achieved much if they didn’t ask for support when they needed it.

9. You deserve love and happiness.

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

Think of something you are thankful for right now. It could be the cup of coffee you had this morning, the sweet puppy you’ll be going home to tonight, or the healthy set of eyes that allowed you to read this article. It’s so easy to lose sight of these little things when we’re upset. I challenge you to break that trend. The next time you get upset, think about something that makes you happy. Repeat this behavior until it becomes second nature. Your negative thoughts will have no power over you if you learn to stop lingering on them.

“What does the Bible say about war?”

Many people make the mistake of reading what the Bible says in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not kill,” and then seeking to apply this command to war. However, the Hebrew word literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice; murder.” God often ordered the Israelites to go to war with other nations (1 Samuel 15:3; Joshua 4:13). God ordered the death penalty for numerous crimes (Exodus 21:12, 15; 22:19; Leviticus 20:11). So, God is not against killing in all circumstances, but only murder. War is never a good thing, but sometimes it is a necessary thing. In a world filled with sinful people (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Sometimes the only way to keep sinful people from doing great harm to the innocent is by going to war.

In the Old Testament, God ordered the Israelites to “take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites” (Numbers 31:2). Deuteronomy 20:16-17 declares, “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them…as the LORD your God has commanded you.” Also, 1 Samuel 15:18 says, “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.” Obviously God is not against all war. Jesus is always in perfect agreement with the Father (John 10:30), so we cannot argue that war was only God’s will in the Old Testament. God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).

Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

It is an error to say that God never supports a war. Jesus is not a pacifist. In a world filled with evil people, sometimes war is necessary to prevent even greater evil. If Hitler had not been defeated by World War II, how many more millions would have been killed? If the American Civil War had not been fought, how much longer would African-Americans have had to suffer as slaves?

War is a terrible thing. Some wars are more “just” than others, but war is always the result of sin (Romans 3:10-18). At the same time, Ecclesiastes 3:8 declares, “There is…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” In a world filled with sin, hatred, and evil (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Christians should not desire war, but neither are Christians to oppose the government God has placed in authority over them (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:17). The most important thing we can be doing in a time of war is to be praying for godly wisdom for our leaders, praying for the safety of our military, praying for quick resolution to conflicts, and praying for a minimum of casualties among civilians on both sides (Philippians 4:6-7).