Take Courage In A Frustrating World (Video)

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

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Winning The War

Ephesians 6:10-18 is a favorite passage of Scripture for many believers. These are Paul’s final words to the church in Ephesus, but they for us today as much as it was for them back then. He starts of his closing remarks by saying, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Vs 10)” He us reminding believers that we won’t win fighting battles in our own strength. Our strength is limited and runs out, but God’s strength is perfect and limitless. We use the strength of the Lord when we pray to Him about our problems instead of using words of hurt and anger against others whom we perceive are attacking us.

He next tells us to put on God’s armor so that we will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil (vs 11). The devil is constantly looking for ways to steal your joy, kill your testimony and destroy your walk with God. Paul understood this and told us to put on defensive gear. He knew that we would be attacked so we need to put on God’s armor that will help us to stand when we are attacked by the enemy. It’s not a matter of if the enemy will attack you, it’s when and how often.

I love this next portion. He reminds us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against evil rulers, authorities of the unseen world, mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (vs 12). One of the biggest strategies of the devil is to confuse us about who our enemy is. He uses other people to attack us and our beliefs so that we will attack them instead of him. He takes a spiritual battle and causes it to be played out in the physical realm because he knows we will fight in our physical strength. We always lose fighting a spiritual battle in the physical because it uses our strength instead of God’s. 

Paul then tells us to put on every piece of God’s armor so that we can resist the enemy in the time of evil and then tells us what they do (vs 13). He says we are to stand our ground with the Belt of Truth and the Body Armor of God’s Righteousness (vs 14). To be fully prepared, we need to put on the peace that comes from the Good News in the form of shoes (vs 15). Next he tells us about the shield of faith that protects us from the fiery arrows the enemy shoots at us (vs 16). Our heads are protected by the Helmet of Salvation and our weapon to advance is the Word of God (vs 17). Truth always defeats the enemy. Jesus used the truth of God’s Word to defeat Satan and we can too. 

The final thing Paul tells us in this passage is probably the most important. In verse 18, he says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” If we are going to win a spiritual battle, we must use our words to pray to God instead of using them to attack people. Our power and defense come from prayer. Spending time with God is the only way we can survive the attacks of the enemy. We should be praying for ourselves as well as believers everywhere. We are always under attack in this world and this passage tells us how to win the war. 

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10 Scriptures On Virtue

 

1.   For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face. (Psalms 11:7 NLT)

2.   A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman–who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls. (Proverbs 31:10 AMP)

3.   If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it. (Proverbs 19:11 GNT)

4.   The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act. (Proverbs 21:29 NLT)

5.   For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

6.   Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 AMP)

7.   Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)

8.   Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 MEV)

9.   You have loved righteousness [You have delighted in integrity, virtue, and uprightness in purpose, thought, and action] and You have hated lawlessness (injustice and iniquity). Therefore God, [even] Your God (Godhead), has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions. (Hebrews 1:9 AMP)

10.   Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. (Titus 2:1-6 MSG)

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Living Unbelievably

Brennan Manning, author of “The Ragamuffin Gospel” said, “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” I’m reminded of this saying all too often as I see pictures and posts on social media from “Christians”. The life they show the world through the lens of social media shows no difference between how they live and nonbelievers live. 

John the Beloved said the same thing this way in I John 2:4-6: “If someone claims, ‘I know Him (Jesus) well!’ But doesn’t keep His commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words… Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived. (MSG)” He saw the same thing then that we see now. There are too many people who claim to know God, but don’t live a life that shows it. Their lives lack love for others and a commitment to living a holy life and that’s what turns off the ones we are to be reaching.

What John and Brennan are both saying is that there’s a difference in slipping up every now and then and living a lifestyle that contradicts what you say you believe. There’s not a single person in the world today capable of living a life without sin, but every one of us are capable of living a lifestyle that Jesus lived. Psychologists will tell you that you act in accordance with what you believe. That’s why we have the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” If your life doesn’t reflect how Jesus lived, then you have to wonder what your actions are telling not only others, but God.

I know I quote it often, but Romans 12:2 is huge for us as believers. It says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (NLT)” Paul is telling us that our behavior should be different when we know God. Our lifestyle should be transformed into one that reflects how Jesus lived. It starts with changing how we think. God knows that there can be no change in how we love until He changes how we think. Our hearts and minds have to be given over to him or we end up like the person Paul describes in Romans 7. We say we want to live a godly life, but we can’t do it.

I received an old challenge this week and I’m going to pass it on to you. If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? A lawyer would go to your social media feed, he would look at how you lived your life to present evidence. Would it just show that you talk a good game or would it show that your life actually reflects what you say you believe? We aren’t called just to believe in God though. We are called to live like Him. When we do that, the unbelieving world will want to know what we believe.

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How To Never Stop And Still Find Rest

This is a guest post from Chris Brown, Missions School Director with Coreluv.org. You can visit his site BrownsMission.com to follow his journey.

Hebrews 11:6 reads, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (NLT). In Chip Ingram’s book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes, he points out that the later half of the verse is as equally important as the first. When we step out in faith, to fulfill the work He called us to do, our lives must be marked with an active faith. It is the only way to truly know Him and have a genuine, intimate relationship with God. While his love is unconditional and unending, His pleasure in us is limited by our faith in Him. 

We must seek Him first (Matt 6:33) and stop seeking the things, career, people, and possessions that only serve to ensnare. Yes, it goes against our very nature, but we must resist the urge to take a break from God, and instead, fan the flame of our love for Him and smother-out our love of self. Solitude with God is the fuel of longevity and success in the Kingdom. As we pour ourselves out in service to God, we must not give into the desire to take a break and escape – for fear of burnout. Instead, we must withdrawal only to “sincerely seek Him” and to receive the rewards of endurance, peace, faith, strength, restoration, and joy that He gives. 

Live your life seeking Him above all things and never let anyone or any circumstance tell you that HE is not enough or able to be all you will ever need. Vacations and sabbaticals will come and serve to make us stop the busyness of life, regroup, and connect with friends and family. But they should never entail absence from God or our service to others. They should actually provide us the time and opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the biggest possible way! So GO – pursue God and find your rest in Him.

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He Is Near

  
If you’ve ever had a baby who slept in a different room than you, you’ve probably used a monitor of some kind. My son is four and we still use one with him. If something happens in the night, he can call out to us and we will head to His room to help him. Even though he can’t see us, he knows that we are close enough to hear him. He has faith that when he needs something, if he calls out to us, we will come meet that need. It’s not so different for us as believers. Our Heavenly Father monitors us and hears us when we call out for help.

Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth. (AMP)” There are times in life when we can’t see God or feel his presence. We may be walking through one of the darkest times of our life, but God has not abandoned us just because we can’t see Him. He is there watching over us, listening to our hearts as we make our way. Often, we try to do it on our own. We want to prove we are strong enough to handle anything, but we don’t have to.

God is waiting for us to call out to Him in our time of need. In Matthew 14, after Jesus fed 5,000 with the five loaves and two fish, Jesus sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee by themselves. Verse 24 says, “Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land. (NLT” It was about three o’clock in the morning. It was pitch black and they found themselves in a storm scared to death. You’ve got to know they cried out to God for help in their time of need. They couldn’t see Jesus because of the rain and darkness, but He never lost sight of them.

Verse 25 says that Jesus came walking toward them on the water. Then He spoke the words that He speaks to you and I today, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here! (NLT)” Just like when my son calls out in the night and I call back to him, so Jesus does with us. His voice reassures us we are going to be ok even if we can’t see Him. We can take courage because He will never leave you or forsake you. He won’t let you face the unknown alone. He is near to those who call on Him.

I’m not sure what you will face today or have been facing, but I do know that you are not alone. In your darkness, in your storm of the unknown, Jesus is walking on water calling out to you, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.” He sees you even when you can’t see Him. He is working for your good through all of turmoil, through all of the uncertainties and problems. His voice is louder than the storm you’re in. His spirit can give you peace no matter what you’re up against. All you have to do is call out to Him and know that He is near. He won’t let you face this alone.

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Build Something Of Value (Video)

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.

I Corinthians 3:13

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