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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!

Forgiveness of Sin

 

Forgiveness of Sin

 

Introduction: Forgiveness of sin is truly a great Bible truth. Forgiveness is great because of the enormity of sin (that which is forgiven), the one who forgives (in the case of God), the cost of forgiveness, and the unworthiness of the one forgiven. There are three areas involving forgiveness: God’s forgiveness of man’s sins, man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general, and the one sinned against forgiving the offender.

I. The enormity of sin. Sin (hamartia) is lawlessness (I Jn. 3: 4, ASV)

A. The enormity of sin is seen in the fact that sin separates man from God (Isa. 59: 1, 2).

a. James presents the sequential progression which eventuates in man’s separation from God (Jas. 1: 14, 15). Sin will cause people to suffer the unimaginable agony of hell for an eternity (Matt. 25: 46).

II. The blood of Jesus, the means and cost of forgiveness

A. Animal sacrifices were not efficacious in the permanent remitting of sin. In fact, there continued to be remembrance of sin – sin was “continued forward,” if you will (Heb. 10: 1-4).

B. Jeremiah prophesied that the days would come when God would make a new covenant that would offer “total” forgiveness (Jere. 31: 31-34).

a. The writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah and shows its fulfillment is in the new covenant that has Jesus as its eternal sacrifice (Heb. 8: 6-13, 1-5, chs. 7-10).

C. Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26: 28). We are sanctified by “the blood of his covenant” (Heb. 10: 29). Moreover, Jesus’ blood reconciles the estranged (Rom. 5: 10), redeems the enslaved (Eph. 1: 7), and justifies the guilty (Rom. 5: 9). Jesus’ blood is not only presently effective but his blood flowed backward “for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant” (Heb. 9: 15). Let us now turn our focus to the three areas involving forgiveness:

III. God’s forgiveness of man’s sins

A. As indicated, man is an unworthy recipient of God’s forgiveness (Rom. 5: 6-9). There was (is) no way man could earn or procure forgiveness through a system of meritorious works (Rom. 11: 6, Tit. 3: 5). We are saved (forgiven) “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2: 8). The word “forgiveness” (aphiemi) means “to send forth, send away…to remit…” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine). Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3: 19). “Blotted out” is derived from exaleipho which means “…to wipe, signifies to wash, or to smear completely” (Vine). Remember, when God forgives he “remembers no more” (Heb. 8: 12). We must also not forget that man has sinned against God and it is man’s responsibility to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5: 18-21).

B. Some believe and teach that God’s forgiveness of man’s sin is unconditional. If this be true, all men would be saved because God is not willing that any perish (2 Pet. 3: 9). However, only a few will be saved (Matt. 7: 13, 14). The scriptures also present man in need of reconciling himself to God, as seen; hence, man is not passive in the matter of his forgiveness.

C. The simple way of arriving at how man procures God’s forgiveness is to observe teaching which mentions how to have “forgiveness” or “remission” of sin. It was prophesied “whosoever believeth in him (Christ, dm) shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10: 43). This belief, however, is not passive or dead (Jas. 2: 19-26). “Believeth” (pisteuonta) is in the accusative case, singular in number, masculine in gender, participle, and present tense (The Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 326). The contemplated belief, then, which leads to forgiveness is on going and active (see “John 3: 16, A Great Statement,” located in the archives). Furthermore, the scriptures enjoin acts in addition to the initial act of belief – acts which are “for the remission of sin” (Acts 2: 38, repentance and baptism). The totality of the teaching of the New Testament regarding how the non-Christian obtains the forgiveness of sin or salvation is: Belief (Jn. 8: 24, Heb. 11: 6), repentance (Acts 2: 38), confession of Jesus’ deity (Rom. 10: 9, 10), and water baptism (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16, see “Salvation,” accessed from the home page). Water baptism is the consummating act which puts one into Jesus Christ, where salvation is enjoyed (Gal. 3: 26, 27, 2 Tim. 2: 10). “I do not agree,” one objects. Remember, God is the offended and it is man’s responsibility as the offender to humbly comply with God’s terms of forgiveness – not argue and substitute his own plans and means!

IV. Man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general

A. The Christians at Corinth were commanded to forgive the member who had been in sin (2 Cor. 2: 7, 6-9, I Cor. 5). The situation at Corinth did not involve a personal infraction against the individual members, as such (I Cor. 5, cf. Matt. 18: 15-17). It will be observed in this scenario, just as in the case regarding God’s forgiveness of man’s sins, the forgiveness was conditional – the sinner had repented (2 Cor. 2: 6).

V. Man’s forgiveness of man in cases of personal offences

A. One can personally sin against another (Matt. 18: 15-17). In such cases, there is a prescribed procedure that must be followed (ibid.). This forgiveness, however, is also conditional. “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him,” Jesus teaches (Lk. 17: 3). If there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness!

a. Hence, in all three possible areas of forgiveness – God’s forgiveness of man, man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general, and man’s forgiveness of man in cases of personal offences – forgiveness is conditioned and contingent on the sinner complying with God’s terms of forgiveness.

Conclusion: The prophet said, “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1: 18). To be forgiven means to be released and free of guilt! “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1: 5).

 

 

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.

 

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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.

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.

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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.

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Please Forgive Me Father

Praise God, that you feel the burden of your sins and that you feel the desire to repent! Be glad at this: your soul is not dead, your heart is not empty and your conscience is not numb or your sins would not weigh on you.

So it’s time to give it up! Whatever has happened, has happened. God lives to forgive. Any sins up to this very moment have been cast into the Sea of Forgetfulness once you turned them over to God. There are no “same sins” with God. They are erased. The slate is clean and you start fresh.

Relax in that. God is not looking at you and holding your past against you. He sees you through the loving and forgiving eyes of Jesus. The second you relied on Jesus, the power of forgiveness was granted.

Each time you turn to Him, it’s granted. Each time you turn to Him, you’ll see less of your sin and more of God.

May you know the depth and breadth of His peace and love.

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Micah 7- Fest upon the Word

7 I am upset because I am like fruit that has been gathered,
like grapes that have already been picked.
There are no grapes left to eat.
There are none of the early figs that I love.
2 By this I mean that all the faithful people are gone.
There are no good people left.
Everyone is planning to kill someone.
Everyone is trying to trap their brother.
3 People are good at doing bad things with both hands.
Officials ask for bribes.
Judges take money to change their decisions in court.
“Important leaders” do whatever they want to do.
4 Even the best of them is as crooked
as a tangled thornbush.

The Day of Punishment Is Coming

Your prophets said this day would come,
and the day of your watchmen[a] has come.
Now you will be punished.
Now you will be confused!
5 Don’t trust your neighbor
or trust a friend!
Don’t even speak freely
with your wife.
6 Your enemies will be the people in your own house.
A son will not honor his father.
A daughter will turn against her mother.
A daughter-in-law will turn against her mother-in-law.

The Lord Is the Savior

7 So I will look to the Lord for help.
I will wait for God to save me.
My God will hear me.
8 I have fallen, but enemy, don’t laugh at me!
I will get up again.
I sit in darkness now,
but the Lord will be a light for me.

The Lord Forgives

9 I sinned against the Lord,
so he was angry with me.
But he will argue my case for me in court.
He will do what is right for me.
Then he will bring me out into the light,
and I will see that he is right.
10 My enemy said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
But my enemy will see this,
and she will be ashamed.
At that time I will laugh at her.[b]
People will walk over her,[c] like mud in the streets.

The Jews to Return

11 The time will come when your walls will be rebuilt.
At that time the country will grow.
12 Your people will come back to your land.
They will come back from Assyria and from the cities of Egypt.
They will come from Egypt
and from the other side of the Euphrates River.
They will come from the sea in the west
and from the mountains in the east.

13 The land was ruined by the people
who lived there and by what they did.
14 So rule your people with your rod.
Rule the flock of people who belong to you.
That flock lives alone in the woods
and up on Mount Carmel.
That flock lives in Bashan and Gilead
as they did in the past.

Israel Will Defeat Its Enemies

15 I did many miracles when I took you out of Egypt.
I will let you see more miracles like that.
16 The nations will see those miracles,
and they will be ashamed.
They will see that their “power”
is nothing compared to mine.
They will be amazed
and put their hands over their mouths.
They will cover their ears
and refuse to listen.
17 They will crawl in the dust like a snake.
They will shake with fear.
They will be like insects crawling
from their holes in the ground
and coming to the Lord our God.
God, they will fear and respect you!

Praise for the Lord

18 There is no God like you.
You take away people’s guilt.
God will forgive his people who survive.
He will not stay angry with them forever,
because he enjoys being kind.
19 He will come back and comfort us again.
He will throw all our sins into the deep sea.
20 God, please be true to Jacob.
Be kind and loyal to Abraham,[d] as you promised our ancestors long ago.

 

Revelation 21-The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared. Now there was no sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,[a] coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, “Now God’s home is with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone.”

The one who was sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted.”

The one on the throne said to me, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega,[b] the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. All those who win the victory will receive all this. And I will be their God, and they will be my children. But those who are cowards, those who refuse to believe, those who do terrible things, those who kill, those who sin sexually, those who do evil magic, those who worship idols, and those who tell lies—they will all have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

One of the seven angels came to me. This was one of the angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues. The angel said, “Come with me. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 The angel carried me away by the Spirit to a very large and high mountain. The angel showed me the holy city, Jerusalem. The city was coming down out of heaven from God.

11 The city was shining with the glory of God. It was shining bright like a very expensive jewel, like a jasper. It was clear as crystal. 12 The city had a large, high wall with twelve gates. There were twelve angels at the gates. On each gate was written the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 The walls of the city were built on twelve foundation stones. On the stones were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod made of gold. The angel had this rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city was built in a square. Its length was equal to its width. The angel measured the city with the rod. The city was 12,000 stadia[c] long, 12,000 stadia wide, and 12,000 stadia high. 17 The angel also measured the wall. It was 144 cubits[d] high. (The angel was using the same measurement that people use.) 18 The wall was made of jasper. The city was made of pure gold, as pure as glass.

19 The foundation stones of the city walls had every kind of expensive jewels in them. The first foundation stone was jasper, the second was sapphire, the third was chalcedony, the fourth was emerald, 20 the fifth was onyx, the sixth was carnelian, the seventh was yellow quartz, the eighth was beryl, the ninth was topaz, the tenth was chrysoprase, the eleventh was jacinth, and the twelfth was amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each gate was made from one pearl. The street of the city was made of pure gold, as clear as glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city. The Lord God All-Powerful and the Lamb were the city’s temple. 23 The city did not need the sun or the moon to shine on it. The glory of God gave the city light. The Lamb was the city’s lamp.

24 The peoples of the world will walk by the light given by the Lamb. The rulers of the earth will bring their glory into the city. 25 The city’s gates will never close on any day, because there is no night there. 26 The greatness and the honor of the nations will be brought into the city. 27 Nothing unclean will ever enter the city. No one who does shameful things or tells lies will ever enter the city. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will enter the city.