Archives for : Being Yourself

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.

Biblical Steps to inner healing

God wants to take your wounds, pain, hurts, and sorrow! Before we begin, I want you to know that God desires to heal our wounds and take our pain and hurt from us. You know how you can love somebody so much, that you wish you could take their pain or suffering from them? That’s how Jesus feels about us… He loves us so much that He paid the price for our emotional healing in the work on the cross! Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” He carried our sorrows in His work on the cross. The NT Greek tells us that the word sorrows here literally refers to anguish, affliction, grief, pain, and sorrow. Jesus took these things and paid the price with His own blood for us! You need to know that God desires to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. This is what the Bible tells us: Psalms 147:3, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Do you want to receive healing from emotional wounds, pain, sorrows, grief, and anguish? It is vital that we take advantage of what Christ has done for us, and learn to cast our cares upon the Lord. Not some of them, but ALL of them; knowing that He cares for you and wants to take those things from you. 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Release those hurt, painful and fearful emotions into the hands of Jesus Hanging onto fear, hurt and pain can actually block the healing power of the Holy Spirit in your soul. It is vital to open up and allow the Lord to heal your wounds. Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Jesus paid the price for the healing of our souls and to set us free from the bondage that we have come under from the bruises that we’ve received. It is important to God that we receive this inner healing… His Son paid a costly price for it! Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In the above verse, it’s not speaking about a heavy physical burden, but a burden in a person’s soul. This is made evident in the later part of this passage where it says, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Jesus is telling us to come unto Him and give Him our heavy burden, and take His yoke which is light and easy to bear. Allow your painful emotions to be released as you give them to the Lord. It’s okay to cry, sob and let the damaged emotions come out as they are given to the hands of the Lord. Holding on to the pain and hurt will only prevent you from be healed. James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” If you can find a person to confide in, it can also be very helpful to share your burden with them and receive prayer for healing. There is tremendous healing that can take place as you share your pain with a fellow brother or sister in Christ! Realize the love of God for you; this will help you open up and receive inner healing Knowing the true nature of our heavenly Father will help us to trust Him and open ourselves up so that we can receive the healing that only the Holy Spirit can provide for us. Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” After Christ has suffered and died for us, why would He withhold healing our wounded souls? We can confidently open up to Him and know that He has our best interests in mind simply by looking at what He went through on the cross for us. You are loved by God, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child! Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus said that the greatest love a man can show for his friends, is when he lays down his life for them. Jesus laid down His life for us – that is how valuable and dear we are to Him! John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Did you know that God loves us with the same love that He had towards Jesus Himself? Yes, believe it or not, this is true! I want you to look up this verse in your Bible: John 17:23, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” It is absolutely essential that we learn of and realize the love that our heavenly Father has for us. Without knowing the love of God for us, we cannot be filled with His fullness: Ephesians 3:17-19, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Realize God’s will for your mind and receive it! 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Abuse, trauma, hurt and pain are all works of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and restore His children to the fullness to which He created them to fulfill. When Jesus was here on earth, He went about doing the will of the Father in heaven, and this included healing all who were oppressed of the devil: Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Jesus desire for you is to heal your broken heart and set you who have been bruised at liberty: Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” He wants to restore your soul from all the damage that has been done to you: Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Extend forgiveness towards those who have hurt you Unforgiveness will hinder or block the healing power of the Holy Spirit. It will bind you up and separate you from God’s forgiving and healing power. It is vital to release those feelings that you have against others, so that the Holy Spirit’s healing and forgiving power can heal and restore your soul. Unforgiveness is a deadly poison that separates us from God’s forgiveness in our own lives and gives us over to tormenting spirits. It is hard to receive healing when one is in such a position. Consider these passages in scripture concerning the deadliness of unforgiveness and bitterness in our lives: Mark 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” As we can see, unforgiveness will block God’s forgiveness from operating in our own lives. Inner healing requires God’s forgiveness. Matthew 18:32-35, “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Unforgiveness will put us into the hands of tormenting spirits. This is the last thing we need when we’re seeking healing for our souls! As if that isn’t enough, unforgiveness also puts a person in spiritual darkness and separation from God, and defiles us spiritually: 1 John 2:11, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” It is absolutely essential to release feelings of bitterness and unforgiveness, in order to fully receive healing for our souls. Forgiving others will welcome the healing power of the Holy Spirit into our lives. Realize who you are in Christ Realizing your identity in Christ is absolutely vital to our healing process. You need to know that you are a new creation in Christ, freed from the darkness of your past, forgiven of your sins, and freedom and healing are yours because of the Blood that Christ shed for you! I encourage you to go through my teaching entitled, “Who we REALLY are” for more information. Stop feeding on lies of insecurity, guilt, and pain (Jesus took your pain!) My father often uses the story of two men on our shoulders, and whichever one you listen to will crowd the other one out. This is absolutely true concerning how we handle God’s voice and the devil’s voice. Just recently the Holy Spirit gave me a powerful revelation, here’s what He said to me: “You need to be discerning of the voice of the devil… it is your responsibility not to give consideration (or pay attention) to it!” (Wording may be slightly different, but that is the exact message) It is absolutely vital that we NOT listen or pay attention to the voice of the devil in our minds. God’s Word tells us that we need to be taking every thought captive to the obedience to Christ: 2 Corinthians 10:4, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” One thing you can look out for is condemnation and fear. Both of these come from the enemy. “What if” thinking is always a giveaway that there’s a demon doing the speaking. For more information about condemnation, I recommend reading my teaching on Condemnation vs Conviction. Forgive yourself – see yourself as God sees you Forgiving yourself is a vital step that we must take while seeking inner healing. We need to love and appreciate the person that Christ has made in us! It is vital to see ourselves for who we really are in Christ. If you continue to beat yourself up for your past failures, after the Blood of Christ has washed them away, then you are, in reality, denying the very work of the cross! Here are a few (of many) good verses to mediate on in God’s Word: Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Hebrews 10:22, “…draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Colossians 1:22-23, “…he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.” (NLT) For more information on forgiving yourself, I recommend going through my teaching entitled, “Forgiving yourself.” I also highly recommend my teaching entitled, “A love relationship w/Jesus.” Speak to the pain and release it into Jesus’ hands Lastly, go to the pain, the emotional wound that is hidden within you, and confront it with the healing love of Christ. Knowing that Jesus has paid for your emotional wounds, hurts, pains, and sorrows, tell the inner hurt, painful memories, and emotional affliction to leave in the name of Jesus. Then call upon Jesus to remove those things from you. You might pray something like this, “Lord Jesus, I love you, thank you for bearing my burden on the cross. I ask that take these inner hurts, painful memories, and emotional wounds from me right now. I submit them to you, and accept your peace in place of those things which I am giving up.” The next step is to seek deliverance from any spirits that are involved in your mind or emotions. These spirits must be confronted and cast out in Jesus’ name. You may attempt this yourself as a self-deliverance, or seek a qualified deliverance minister to help you with this step. If you begin to experience overwhelming or strong demonic reactions from the below prayer, or if the spirits aren’t coming out, then it is recommended to seek deliverance from a qualified minister. If you are not yet a believer in Christ, then I do not recommend confronting any evil spirits until you do. Without Christ, the demons are nothing to mess with, they are powerful spiritual beings, and without Christ, they are not yet disarmed in your life (see Colossians 2:13-15). If you would like to accept Jesus right now as your Lord and savior, go before Him now with a prayer like this, “Lord Jesus Christ, I realize I am a sinner. I believe you died and shed your blood for the remission of my sins, so that I may have eternal life. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask that you come into my life, changing me into a new person and washing all my sins away. I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior. Amen.” A simple self-deliverance prayer might go something like this, “I now come against any unclean spirits that have been influencing my mind, will and emotions, and I take authority over these spirits

 

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

 

Recently I was talking with a group of women about body image issues and the strain our culture places on women as desperately try to become “beautiful” in the eyes of society standards. One woman brought up the fact that there was a country that once had no television, and no real issue with anorexia. Apparently, once that country became media-ready and televisions invaded the land, they noticed an increase (up to 30%) of girls who were showing signs of anorexia. The “image plague” struck their society and began to change the girls in their midst. Body image, and the perception of beauty, changed.
The reality of “beauty” in our culture is quite deceiving. Just walk down your local toy store doll aisle, and look at the unrealistic proportions of the fashion dolls; each one modeling perfect hair, long legs, and overall body measurements that if translated to the average woman’s shape would look pretty silly in real life. Yet somehow, today’s girl looks at these dolls and craves similar curves, and sometimes even starves herself to achieve the tiny waistline, and plans for surgical procedures to augment her shape in other ways.
Also, think about the periodical displays at our local check out counter, look at the airbrushed pictures on the latest magazines. The young starlets that show up on the covers of these magazines are not exactly as they appear in print. A photo shopped nip here, a graphic tuck there, and voila! Perfection. We understand that what we see is not always what truth, but the impact of the media’s message is heard loud and clear by today’s girl. Strive for extreme perfection. Unfortunately, even in this airbrushed age, we can get caught in the trap feeling inferior to the false presentations on the newsstand.
Beyond the intangible expectations of our society, we as Christian women answer to a higher calling. We look to the Lord for our worth, and our acceptance. The only expectations and approval we should seek are that of our Father in heaven. And there is great news for us: God loves us. He adores us! He created us to be wonderful, diverse, and not anything like the media’s call to be an unattainable shape. God calls us to be His daughters. His followers. His servants. And you know what? The Almighty God loves us – loves you – just the way you are. And you are beautiful to Him!
In this women’s issue package from Jennifer Devlin, readers will understand the root of true beauty and happiness, the dangers of comparison, and receive practical helps for feeling beautiful in God’s sight.

You are Beautiful to God

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Familiar saying, but do we understand the magnitude of this thought in relation to the way God sees us? God looks upon us with love, and sees us as a beautiful creature He created. He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to provide a way for us to enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.
Somehow, on our worst hair day, or the time of the month when our clothes fit a bit tighter and our nerves are on edge, it is hard to imagine that the God of all creation would consider us beautiful. But He does. Even on our bad hair days! Society, on the other hand, will try and tell us that beauty is only skin deep – and that the newest procedures, products, and pills will be the answer to our most pressing image issues. Which will we believe? The cosmetic industry’s marketing mantra, or the Father who created us in His image?
God is head over heels in love with you and me, and desires for us to reflect His light to the world. Can you imagine? We can stand firm on this truth, knowing that God will always look to the beauty within us; the Spirit’s presence that guides us and helps us reflect the true beauty that comes from being a child of God Most High. Don’t toss to and fro to the tide of advertising schemes and skewed image requirements – stand strong on God’s Word, and delight in the promise that it is our inner beauty that pleases God. — JD
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge\u2014that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Comparison Trap

A friend once told me that women dress up to impress other women more than to receive approval from men. You know, I think she was right! Just look at how we, as women, plan our clothing and accessories — intentional and thoughtful. Thinking, rethinking, changing, and constantly assessing the outcome. Most men don’t even notice the details we spend hours planning. But women; they notice right away! Typical conversations may sound something like this:
New earrings?
Yes, they are! Nice shoes, where’d you get them?
Oh, at the store down the street. Thanks for noticing…
That sweater is a great color on you.
Have you lost weight? You look terrific!
Yes, I’ve been on the latest diet plan. Let me tell you all about it…

The niceties of conversation move from one topic to the next, but women somehow always incorporate image and presentation. Deep within, behind those acknowledgments and compliments, potentially lays another layer of observation – comparison. The earrings are better than someone else’s. The shoes must have been expensive. She looks so much nicer than another friend. Or, the comparisons may actually include the tragic comparison over weight issues. As women continually compare, compete, and cry over their current state of appearance, we fall into the snare set by the enemy. Today’s culture can hold us captive as we compare ourselves to others, the world, and the standards society sets for us…if we’re not careful to avoid the comparison trap. — JD

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Practical Steps to Beauty

Friend, you are beautiful to God. You matter to Him, no matter what your shape or size. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and as a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and guides you into all truth.
And yet, as you and I live in the world, we constantly hear messages that can make us feel a level of discontent. As we end this package’s sessions together, and have looked into comparisons, culture, and contentment, what’s a woman to do? How can we live victoriously as a believer and a woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes?
Here are some easy steps to understanding your true beauty:
  • Turn off the television when programs air that support unhealthy self image messages and stop buying magazines that promote unhealthy body shapes — keep away from the messages and media images that perpetuate culture’s unattainable standards.
  • Stay in the Word of God – especially seeking out verses that describe our worth to God, our beauty in His sight, and our standing in victory through Jesus Christ. Understand that those verses apply to you, your life, and the shape you are today.
  • Understand what you want to change about yourself and why – are you seeking change because of society’s demands, or because of a true inner desire? Evaluate motives, and only act on your desires if they will lead to personal goals being met instead of pressure from outside forces.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself daily with the truth that you are beautiful to God! — JD
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

 

image

1 Peter 5-Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The Flock of God

5 Now I have something to say to the elders in your group. I am also an elder. I myself have seen Christ’s sufferings. And I will share in the glory that will be shown to us. I beg you to 2 take care of the group of people you are responsible for. They are God’s flock.[a] Watch over that flock because you want to, not because you are forced to do it. That is how God wants it. Do it because you are happy to serve, not because you want money. 3 Don’t be like a ruler over those you are responsible for. But be good examples to them. 4 Then when Christ the Ruling Shepherd comes, you will get a crown—one that will be glorious and never lose its beauty.

5 Young people, I have something to say to you too. You should accept the authority of the elders. You should all have a humble attitude in dealing with each other.

“God is against the proud,
but he is kind to the humble.”

6 So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up when the right time comes. 7 Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you.

8 Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. 9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.

10 Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in his glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. 11 All power is his forever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 Silas will bring this letter to you. I know that he is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote this short letter to encourage you. I wanted to tell you that this is the true grace of God. Stand strong in that grace.

13 The church in Babylon[b] sends you greetings. They were chosen just as you were. Mark, my son in Christ, also sends his greetings. 14 Give each other a special greeting[c] of love when you meet.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

James 1.

1 Greetings from James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To God’s people[a] who are scattered all over the world.

Faith and Wisdom

2 My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. 3 You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. 4 If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be.

5 Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. 6 But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind. 7-8 People like that are thinking two different things at the same time. They can never decide what to do. So they should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.

True Riches

9 Believers who are poor should be glad that God considers them so important. 10 Believers who are rich should be glad when bad things happen that humble them. Their riches won’t keep them from disappearing as quickly as wildflowers. 11 As the sun rises and gets hotter, its heat dries up the plants, and the flowers fall off. The flowers that were so beautiful are now dead. That’s how it is with the rich. While they are still making plans for their business, they will die.

Temptation Does Not Come From God

12 Great blessings belong to those who are tempted and remain faithful! After they have proved their faith, God will give them the reward[b] of eternal life. God promised this to all people who love him. 13 Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. 14 You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. 15 Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.

16 My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled about this. 17 Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. 18 God decided to give us life through the true message he sent to us. He wanted us to be the most important of all that he created.

Listening and Obeying

19 My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. 20 Anger does not help you live the way God wants. 21 So get rid of everything evil in your lives—every kind of wrong you do. Be humble and accept God’s teaching that is planted in your hearts. This teaching can save you.

22 Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves.23 Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror 24 and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked. 25 But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard.

The True Way to Worship God

26 You might think you are a very religious person. But if your tongue is out of control, you are fooling yourself. Your careless talk makes your offerings to God worthless. 27 The worship that God wants is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. This is the kind of worship that God accepts as pure and good.

4 Ways to Stay Strong in Your Christian Faith

1. Remember that God is Always There

Even in the driest times, when you just don’t feel God’s presence, you need to remember that God is always there. He does not forget you. True faith is developed even when you don’t feel God.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NIV)

2. Do a Daily Devotional

Developing long-term habits is important to maintaining your faith. A daily devotional will keep you in the Word and enhance your prayer life. It will also keep you closer to God even when you struggle in your faith.

Philippians 2:12-13 – “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (NIV)

 

3. Get Involved

Many people become apathetic over time, because they do not feel connected to a church body. Some churches do not offer ways to connect. Yet, there are a lot of activities on campuses and in the community. You can even look into other ministries. The more connected you are to the body of Christ, the more likely it is that you will maintain your faith.

Romans 12:5 – “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (NIV)

4. Talk to Someone

If you feel separated from God or you find yourself backsliding, talk to someone. Try your oldyouth leader, a pastor, or even your parents. Talk through your issues and pray with them about your struggle. They can offer insight into how they have worked through their own struggles.

Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (NIV)

Escaping Sexual Sin Befor It’s To Late

Why are so many strong Christians succumbing to sexual sin? We must remember that we as Christians do not live in a vacuum but in a culture filled with temptations that stir lust. Many people have fallen because they underestimated the power of sexual temptation.

Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth has the strongest teaching about sexual sin because Corinth, like our culture, was saturated with sexual temptation.

The Bible declares that God is faithful and no matter what temptation we face, He will provide “a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

God’s will for us is to overcome temptation, but it will cost us dearly, especially our pride. The preceding passage (1 Cor 10:12) warns us: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” God is telling us that the first step in overcoming temptation is to beware of the attitude, “It couldn’t happen to me.”

As the wisdom of Proverbs says, pride sets us up for a fall.

The Rev. Gordon MacDonald, a wonderful pastor and at one time president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, shares in his book Rebuilding Your Broken World about a time when he was asked about how Satan might get him. He answered:

All sorts of ways, I suppose; but I know there’s one way he wouldn’t get me. “What’s that?” He’d never get me in the area of my personal relationships. That’s one place where I have no doubt that I’m as strong as you can get. A few years after that conversation my world broke wide open. A chain of seemingly innocent choices became destructive, and it was my fault. Choice by choice by choice, each easier to make, each becoming gradually darker. And then my world broke — in the very area I had predicted I was safe — and my world had to be rebuilt.

He goes on to quote from My Utmost for His Highest: “An unguarded strength is actually a double weakness.” Here is a man of God with a good marriage who had written books on family life and yet fell into adultery. Why? Because he thought it couldn’t happen to him and left this part of his life unguarded.

If David, who was “a man after God’s own heart,” Gordon MacDonald, and many other strong men and women of faith yielded to sexual temptation, it could happen to you. God is telling us through these words of Paul — “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12) — that our vulnerability to sin increases when we think it could not happen to us.

Almost all Christians, especially Christian leaders, who have fallen to sexual temptation would tell you that they did not think it could have happened to them.

1 Corinthians 6:18 warns us, “Flee from sexual immorality.” It is easy for pride to convince us that we don’t really need to FLEE, and that this instruction is for weaker Christians. We mislead ourselves into thinking that instead of fleeing we can stroll away, looking back once in awhile, because we are strong enough to resist or flirt with temptation. Admitting that we need to flee takes real Christian humility. Remember, overcoming sexual temptation will cost your pride dearly.

When do you need to flee?

When you find yourself thinking about a “friend, co-worker, ministry partner, counselee” and how much you enjoy being with this person — FLEE!
When you look forward to spending more time with this person and you make sure you look especially nice if you know you might see your “friend” that day — FLEE!
If you begin to fantasize about being with this person or knowingly start touching your “friend” in “innocent “ ways — FLEE!
When you become more secretive about your interaction with your “friend” because people like your spouse might “misunderstand” your friendship — FLEE!
If you receive cards, e-mails or presents from this person that you would not want your spouse to see — FLEE!
When you find yourself comparing your spouse in an unfavorable way to your “friend”– FLEE!
If you start confiding in your “friend” about your marital problems — FLEE!
Anytime we feel we must keep something secret, this would indicate that sin is crouching at our door. If you are experiencing sexual attraction to someone – or experiencing some other kind of temptation over a few days – go to your spouse or someone you can trust in the Body of Christ. Bring the secret out into the light of day and ask for prayer and accountability.

Satan loves it when we keep secrets in the dark because of shame, fear, or pride – but remember, darkness is overcome by light. Often this alone can break the power of temptation, but it will cost you your pride.

Many are unwilling to sacrifice their pride by admitting their struggle with sin to get the help they need. There is great wisdom in these words by Rick Warren:

If you’re losing the battle against a persistent bad habit, an addiction, or a temptation, and you’re stuck in a repeating cycle of good intention-failure-guilt, you will not get better on your own. You need the help of other people. Some temptations are only overcome with the help of a partner who prays for you, encourages you, and holds you accountable.

Tragically, too many people – because of family background, having experienced sexual abuse or abandonment, or having a long history of struggling with lust – need significant ministry, yet are unwilling to get help until they are forced to do so after yielding to sin.

Yes, there is a price that your pride must pay to overcome temptation – but please take a moment and consider the much greater price of yielding to temptation. Consider the damage to the cause of Christ, to your family, and to your Christian witness, along with the pain you will cause yourself and the ones you love the most.

God has given us everything we need to overcome temptation, but it will cost our pride dearly. However, I plead with you to consider the even greater cost of yielding to the temptation.

20140118-224536.jpg

How to Avoid Temptation to Sin

Human beings are naturally inclined towards sin. Everyone feels the urge to sin at some point because sinning gives us tangible yet fleeting benefits at the cost of moral and spiritual ones. Temptation is the urge to sin. We’re judged by the degree to which we thwart our temptations. Because of humanity’s sinful nature, everyone, at some point, fails to resist their temptations. Luckily, we’re never alone in our quest to thwart our temptations. In the words of the Bible: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 English Standard Version) In this guide, you’ll learn strategies for avoiding temptation and for combating it when it does find you.

STEP 1–Identify your temptations and the personal flaws that create them. Everyone has their own temptations. Though Jesus never sinned, even he was tempted to. (Hebrews 4:15) Spend a few moments self-reflecting to identify your personal temptations. Then, pin down the personality traits that lead you to temptation – maybe you’re insecure or you’re never satisfied with yourself. Perhaps you prioritize pleasure over responsibility. No two people are exactly alike. Your temptations might resemble those of your friends, family, or other associates, but there’s also a chance that they’re unique to you. A priest, counselor, or other trusted person can help you discover your unique temptations and the flaws from which these temptations developed.If you’re having a hard time defining exactly what your temptations are, begin by pinpointing the things in your life that make you sad, then try to find a thought process or habit you possess that leads to these things. For instance, let’s say you’re in a committed relationship with a woman you love but you frequently feel intense guilt because you flirt with other women. Search your heart. Ask yourself, “what do I think or do that makes me want to act like this?” After some reflection, you may find, for instance, that you’re worried about whether you’re still attractive. The source of your temptation in this case is your sense of insecurity.

STEP 2—Set reasonable goals for fighting temptation. Your aim when fighting temptation should take into account the fact that, as a human being, you’re incapable of perfection. Don’t set an un-achievable goal like “I will never sin again.” If you do, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Realize that you will inevitably sin again (and again and again). Set a realistic goal that takes this into account.For instance, if you’ve been neglecting your child’s vocal recitals in favor of nights spent at home watching TV, you might set a goal of never missing another vocal recital (except for emergencies) and of reducing your time spent watching TV every week by four hours. This goal is well within your grasp.
For a few very serious sins, it is absolutely necessary to set a zero-tolerance goal – for instance, you should obviously never commit murder or marital infidelity. These sins can cause irreparable damage to others’ lives.

STEP 3—Take responsibility for yourself. You were blessed with free will for a reason. Don’t waste your opportunity to act decisively against your personal temptation by giving into the separate temptation of inaction! Stand up and take action now. Make it your goal going forward to not give in to your temptation. The hardest part of overcoming your temptation can be getting started. Don’t sabotage your journey before it’s begun by telling yourself you can’t do it.When Jesus died, he gave us authority over the forces of evil. (Mark 16:17) Never fear or run from the forces of evil in your own life. With hard work and sincere faith, nothing is beyond your grasp.

20140117-191340.jpg

James 1-Trials and Temptations

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4
New International Version (NIV)
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.