Faith Moves Mountains

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1 JOHN 5:4 NKJV

Because we live in a demanding world, all of us have mountains to climb and mountains to move. Moving those mountains requires faith. And the experience of trying, with God’s help, to move mountains builds character.

Faith, like a tender seedling, can be nurtured or neglected. When we nurture our faith through prayer, meditation, and worship, God blesses our lives and lifts our spirits. But when we neglect to commune with the Father, we do ourselves and our loved ones a profound disservice.

Are you a mountain-moving person whose faith is evident for all to see? Or, are you a spiritual underachiever? As you think about the answer to that question, consider this: God needs more people who are willing to move mountains for His glory and for His kingdom.

Every life—including yours—is a series of wins and losses. Every step of the way, through every triumph and tragedy, God walks with you, ready and willing to strengthen you. So the next time you find your character being tested, remember to take your fears to God. If you call upon Him, you will be comforted. Whatever your challenge, whatever your trouble, God can handle it.

When you place your faith, your trust, indeed your life in the hands of your Heavenly Father, you’ll receive a lesson in character-building from the ultimate Teacher. So strengthen your faith through praise, through worship, through Bible study, and through prayer. And trust God’s plans. With Him, all things are possible, and He stands ready to open a world of possibilities to you . . . if you have faith.

Trials are not enemies of faith but opportunities to reveal God’s faithfulness.  ~Barbara Johnson

It may be the most difficult time of your life. You may be enduring your own whirlwind. But the whirlwind is a temporary experience. Your faithful, caring Lord will see you through. ~Charles Swindoll

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, sometimes this world is a terrifying place.
When I am filled with uncertainty and doubt, give me faith. In life’s dark moments, help me remember that You are always near and that You can overcome any challenge. Today, Lord,
and forever, I will place my trust in You. Amen

God's Promises For Your Turbulent Times

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will support you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

PSALM 55:22 HCSB

These are times of great uncertainty. As we have become accustomed to, and at times almost numbed by, a steady stream of unsettling news, we are reminded that our world is in a state of constant change. But God is not. So when the world seems to be trembling beneath our feet, we can be comforted in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is the rock that cannot be shaken.

Every day that we live, we mortals encounter a multitude of changes—some good, some not so good. And on occasion, all of us must endure life-changing personal losses that leave us heartbroken. When we do, our Heavenly Father stands ready to comfort us, to guide us, and—in time—to heal us.

Is the world spinning a little too fast for your liking? Are you facing troubling uncertainties, difficult circumstances, or unwelcome changes? If so, please remember that God is far bigger than any problem you may face. So, instead of worrying about life’s inevitable challenges, put your faith in the Father and His only begotten Son. After all, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV). And it is precisely because your Savior does not change that you can face your challenges with courage for today and hope for tomorrow.

Are you anxious about situations that you cannot control? Take your anxieties to God. Are you troubled? Take your troubles to Him. Does your little corner of the universe seem to be a frightening place? Seek protection from the One who cannot be moved. The same God who created the universe will protect you if you ask Him . . . so ask Him . . . and then serve Him with willing hands and a trusting heart.

When I am secure in Christ, I can afford to take a risk in my life. Only the insecure cannot afford to risk failure. The secure can be honest about themselves; they can admit failure; they are able to seek help and try again. They can change.  ~John Maxwell

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, because of You, I can face the uncertainties of life with courage, with hope, with wisdom, and with faith. So today and every day, Father, I will study Your Word; I will trust Your promises; and I will follow Your Son. Amen

God's Plan and Your Turbulent Times

“For I know the plans I have for you”—[this is] the Lord’s declaration—“plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a Hope.”
JEREMIAH 29:11 HCSB

It’s an age-old riddle: Why does God allow us to endure times of uncertainty and pain? After all, since we trust that God is all-powerful, and since we trust that His hand shapes our lives, why doesn’t He simply rescue us—and our loved ones—from all hardship and pain?

God’s Word teaches us again and again that He loves us and wants the best for us. And the Bible also teaches us that God is ever-present and always watchful. So why, we wonder, if God is really so concerned with every detail of our lives, does He permit us to endure emotions like grief, sadness, shame, or fear? And why does He allow tragic circumstances to invade the lives of good people? These questions perplex us, especially when times are tough.

On occasion, all of us face adversity, and throughout life, we all must endure life-changing personal losses that leave us breathless. When we pass through the dark valleys of life, we often ask, “Why me?” Sometimes, of course, the answer is obvious—sometimes we make mistakes, and we must pay for them. But on other occasions, when we have done nothing wrong, we wonder why God allows us to suffer.

Even when we cannot understand God’s plans, we must trust them. And even when we are impatient for our situations to improve, we must trust God’s timing. If we seek to live in accordance with His plan for our lives, we must continue to study His Word (in good times and bad), and we must be watchful for His signs, knowing that in time, He will lead us through the valleys, onward to the mountaintop.

So if you’re enduring tough times, don’t give up and don’t give in. God still has glorious plans for you. So keep your eyes and ears open . . . as well as your heart.

Every misfortune, every failure, every loss may be transformed. God has the power to transform all misfortunes into “God-sends.” ~Mrs. Charles E. Cowman


TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear Lord, even when I am discouraged, even when my heart is heavy, I will earnestly seek Your will for my life. You have a plan for me that I can never fully understand. But You understand. And I will trust You today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen

In Turbulent Times, God Protects

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

ISAIAH 43:2-3 NKJV

As life here on earth unfolds, all of us encounter occasional disappointments and setbacks: Those occasional visits from Old Man Trouble are simply a fact of life, and none of us are exempt. When tough times arrive, we may be forced to rearrange our plans and our priorities. But even on our darkest days, we must remember that God’s love remains constant.

The fact that we encounter adversity is not nearly so important as the way we choose to deal with it. When tough times arrive, we have a clear choice: we can begin the difficult work of tackling our troubles . . . or not. When we summon the courage to look Old Man Trouble squarely in the eye, he usually blinks. But, if we refuse to address our problems, even the smallest annoyances have a way of growing into king-sized catastrophes.

As believers, we know that God loves us and that He will protect us. In times of hardship, He will comfort us; in times of sorrow, He will dry our tears. When we are troubled, weak, or sorrowful, God is always with us. We must build our lives on the rock that cannot be shaken: we must trust in God. And then, we must get on with the hard work of tackling our problems . . . because if we don’t, who will? Or should?

Troubles we bear trustfully can bring us a fresh vision of God and a new outlook on life, an outlook of peace and hope. ~Billy Graham

If things are tough, remember that every flower that ever bloomed had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there. ~Barbara Johnson

The sermon of your life in tough times ministers to people more powerfully than the most eloquent speaker.  ~Bill Bright

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, when I face the inevitable disappointments of life, give me perspective and faith. When I am discouraged, give me the strength to trust Your promises and follow Your will. Then, when I have done my best, Father, let me live with the assurance that You are firmly in control, and that Your love endures forever. Amen

He Offers Peace

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
John 14:27 NASB

These are turbulent times, difficult days when worries are easy to identify and peace may be a scarce commodity. But no times are too turbulent for God. And if you sincerely desire the peace that passes all understanding, you’ll find it in Him.

The familiar words of John 14:27 remind us that Jesus offers us peace, not as the world gives, but as He alone gives. Have you found the genuine peace that can be yours through Jesus Christ? Or are you still rushing after the illusion of “peace and happiness” that the world promises but cannot deliver?
When you welcome God’s love into your heart, your life will be transformed as the Father’s peace will become yours. And then, because you possess the gift of peace, you can share that gift with family members, with friends, and with coworkers.

This day, complete with its assortment of ups and downs, is a gift from the Creator. This day will contain many blessings. This day will provide quiet moments for prayer and praise. And, this day offers yet another opportunity to welcome the Father into your heart and to share His good news with the world. So honor Him and thank Him: It’s the right thing to do—in good times and in hard times—and it’s the peaceful way to live.

Sometimes we get tired of the burdens of life, but we know that Jesus Christ will meet us at the end of life’s journey. And, that makes all the difference.
BILLY GRAHAM

God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C. S. LEWIS

Christ alone can bring lasting peace—peace with God—peace among men and nations—and peace within our hearts.
BILLY GRAHAM

“My peace I give unto you”; it is a peace all over from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, an irrepressible confidence.
OSWALD CHAMBERS

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, I will open my heart to You. And I thank You, God,
for Your love, for Your peace, and for Your Son. Amen

Animals or Image Bearers?

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Genesis 1:24-28).

Most Bible scholars and theologians do not equate the image of God with any one human attribute. To be sure, the image of God is evident in that humans are intelligent, rational beings, capable of complex thought and self-awareness, and of amazing ingenuity. We are also highly emotional creatures, at our best capable of great love, compassion, altruism, sympathy, and even empathy. Moreover, we are moral agents; again, at our best we know that right and wrong are realities, and that beauty is more desirable than ugliness. We are also the world’s only ‘language animals,’ able to communicate with each other with stunning precision and depth, but more importantly, able to understand and respond to God’s address (thus humans are ‘response-able’ creatures). All these attributes should be taken into consideration when pondering what it means that humans bear the image of God.

As this text from Genesis makes clear, however, the chief byproducts of being made in God’s image are dignity and dominion. That is to say, as God’s representatives, or vice-regents on earth, we are to exhibit responsible stewardship over his creation, cultivating and consuming the garden that is the world—including the animals within it—with a dignity that befits our exalted creaturely status, that reflects our Creator’s character, and that enhances his glory.

But as the biblical account of our origin fades from the collective memory, or at least from the collective worldview of Western civilization—having been replaced either explicitly or implicitly in the minds of many by Darwinian evolutionary theory—that civilization becomes increasingly
less civilized. That is because evolutionary theory denies both the human status of being responsible subjects under God, as well as the human status of being dignified stewards over animals. For the Bible acknowledges a ‘solidarity of the sixth day’ between humans and animals, whereas  evolutionary theory effectively removes any such distinction, equating rather than relating humans and animals. Is it any wonder, then, that the history of the twentieth-century Western world betrays the two-fold phenomenon of exalting animals and degrading humans? Can you not see such a process at work by considering radical animal-rights activists such as PETA, oppressive political systems such as those under Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and popular agendas in American culture such as the sexual revolution, abortion on demand, and euthanasia?

My friends, the biblical worldview elevates humanity by affirming human responsibility, human dignity, and most of all, human life itself! Sadly, if you’ll look seriously and honestly at the recent history and present predicament of the Western world, I think you’ll find that alternatives to the biblical worldview have served to dehumanize humanity, and render civilization less civilized.

For more help on this subject see: Being Christian

Set Self Aside

Excerpted from the book 21 Days to a Great Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Have you ever found it difficult to make needed changes in
yourself for the good of your marriage? 
Today you’ll meet that obstacle in person: it’s you!  We know, because we battle ‘self’ in our own
marriages.  So let’s take ‘self’ to the
mat together.

Remember the days before you were married?  Remember the freedom of doing whatever you
wanted, whenever you wanted?  You
answered only to yourself, and that was pretty much it.

Then you fell in love. 
All of a sudden you had to say no to yourself with respect to freedoms,
choices, and preferences that you enjoyed in your previous life.  You had to consider someone else’s feelings
and desires, which can be a painful way of life.

This way of life is called self-denial.  Simply put, self-denial is the practice
of postponing, or even giving up, activities and attitudes that block love and
connection.
  In great marriages,
self-denial is a daily way of living, relating, and thinking.  And it’s one of the most important keys to
love.

 

What Self-Denial Looks Like

A loving and well-thought out attitude of self-denial will
mean giving up things like these:

The comfort of detachment.  Love requires the effort of making an
emotional connection, even when you least feel like it.  It’s very natural to disconnect when you’re
stressed, tired, or upset with your spouse, and at times you do need ‘me’
time.  But more often, you need to deny
yourself the choice of withdrawing from the relationship.  Getting out of your comfort zone and
connecting on the relationship’s terms, not your own, helps generate love and
close feelings.

Your dreams and desires.  At times, one partner will need to postpone a good dream or
legitimate desire for the sake of connection. 
For example, a wife might delay developing her career while she raises
the kids.  Or a husband might live in a
city that is not best for his career, but best for the marriage and family.

The right to demand fairness.  When both partners insist on playing fair,
they enter into legalistic, loveless emptiness.  Give more than you receive in your love life, and deny yourself the
demand of fairness.  Don’t get put out
if you end up going to the basketball game with him more than he goes to the
symphony with you.  Love gives up
keeping score in order to gain connection and compassion.

Saying whatever you want.  Learn to deny the strong urge to say to your mate exactly what
you feel when you feel it.  Partners
hurt each other deeply when they assume carte blanche to say anything to each
other.  Instead, first ask yourself,
‘How would I feel if he said that to me?’ 
This sort of approach also includes denying yourself the privilege of
confronting every little thing your mate does. 
As Proverbs 19:11 says, ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his
glory to overlook an offense.’

Self-denial is like the economic laws of saving and
investing money: Those people who can be patient and wait will always reap the
greatest payoffs in the long run.

 

For more help see all of our books and CDs on Marriage.

Also, join one of our marriage groups at our next New Life Weekend!

Continuing in the Father's Strength

Excerpted from the book More Jesus, Less Religion by Steve Arterburn

After many years of service to Christ, Cliff’s wife developed a quickly spreading cancer. Many people joined Cliff in fervent prayer for his wife, but she failed rapidly and soon died. Through it all, however, Cliff did not break his determined gaze on Christ. Instead of allowing the tragedy to shake his faith, he allowed his deep experience of pain and suffering—and even depression and confusion—to push him even deeper into the arms of the living God.

This grieving servant of God knew only two things to hold on to, and he held on to both with all his might. The first was his unshakable conviction that God was a good God. And while he didn’t understand this particular circumstance or why his wife had to suffer and die, he did know that God was good and that there had to be a reason he would come to understand one day. Second, he knew beyond all doubt that God loved him. In spite of everything. No matter what. Through it all.

Cliff clung to those twin truths, refusing to take his eyes off the Lord even when he was wracked with grief. When you’re in severe pain or distress, life becomes pretty simple. You’re in survival mode, and you have neither the heart nor the strength to spread around your emotional energy. Instrument certified pilots know what this is all about. When visibility drops to nil and storms rage around them, it is second nature for them to focus on the ‘artificial horizon’ gauge on their instrument panel. No matter what their senses might tell them or what weird phenomena they see through the windscreen, they know that gauge will give them their true position and keep them flying level. They may feel as though they are in a steep dive–’or even flying upside down. Yet their eyes must lock onto that gauge, and they must respond accordingly. When it comes to survival, it doesn’t really matter what they feel like; what matters is what their instruments say.

Many travel through this world basing every decision on how they feel and what they experience. They do not study God’s Word or spend time with Jesus; they have no real knowledge of this Guide who begs us follow him, no matter how we feel and regardless of our circumstances. If we stay focused on him, if it becomes second nature to look to him and not to ourselves, we will not get lost in the dark. Jesus will be that instrument that keeps us headed toward the horizon. Our faith in him can keep us from alternating our direction based on momentary discomfort–and it can prevent needless tragedy.

So it was with Cliff. Although his emotions sometimes raged and other times fell dead flat, although his thoughts were at times confused and he felt his equilibrium slipping, he focused on the ‘Jesus gauge.’ He knew that no matter how his circumstances changed, his Lord would neither change nor fail. As the Lord told Israel, ‘I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendents of Jacob, are not destroyed’ (Malachi 3:6).

As a consequence of such focus, Cliff enjoyed a daily supply–an artesian well–of God’s love through those days of sorrow and distress. He was not only comforted himself, but he became a surprising source of comfort to others.

Our faith, when focused on the true God, will not be shaken by adversity or unexpected turbulence. As long as we, like Cliff, hold tight to our faith in God’s goodness and love, we can come through pain and struggle with a deeper and richer relationship with Jesus, rather than a faith strained beyond its limits because we failed to focus on the true God.

For more help please see More Jesus, Less Religion.

Also, please prayerfully consider joining us at our next New Life Weekend.

Charity

Excerpted from the book The Joyful Christian by C. S. Lewis

In the passage where the New Testament says that everyone
must work, it gives as a reason ‘in order that he may have something to give to
those in need.’ Charity’giving to the poor’is an essential part of Christian
morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats is seems to be
the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity
ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be
producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite
right in saying we ought to produce that kind of society. But if anyone thinks
that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then that person
has parted company with all Christian morality.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give.
I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other
words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the
standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably
giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I
should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do
and cannot do because our charitable expenditures exclude them. I am speaking
now of ‘charities’ in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your
own relatives, friends, neighbors, or employees, which God, as it were, forces
upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering
of your own position.

For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in
our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear’fear of
insecurity. This must often be recognized as a temptation. Sometimes our pride
also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the
showy forms of generosity’such as tipping and hospitality’and less than we
ought on those who really need our help.

 

A Person’s a Person

Excerpted from the book The God of Second Chances by Steve Arterburn.

In college I dated a woman for whom I really cared. She was a Christian—bright, gentle, beautiful, and energetic. I believed we had a lot in common. Because we loved each other, I had an easy time convincing her to sleep with me. I justified my sin—and hers—by believing that loved covered everything. Yet, I discovered it was less love for her and more love for myself that lead me to seek sexual gratification. How shameful that I didn’t see what I was doing until it was too late. She missed one period, and then another. She was pregnant.

Although I loved my girlfriend, I selfishly did not want to shatter my musical career. Never once did I consider any options. Never once did I drop down on my knees and seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to show me a responsible way out of the problem. She had to have an abortion.

I was deeply immersed in the philosophy of the world. If something is inconvenient–say, a broken radio, a bad marriage, or a baby—just get rid of it. So there we were, my girlfriend and I and the baby growing in her womb. I carefully laid out my plan with all the details already put together: go here at such and such a time, they will do such and such to you, and then it will be over. We can go on with our lives. I’ll even pay half the cost of the procedure.

My heartless and unbending pragmatism overwhelmed her. I never really gave her an opportunity to respond. No unwanted baby was going to stand in the way of my career. So she went because I convinced her it was the best way out of a bad situation and because she thought I loved her.

The guilt, shame, and remorse had emotional, physical, and spiritual consequences that had such a devastating effect on me that I almost lost my life. I fell into a deep depression, went on antidepressants, and began to feel as old as a grandfather. Within six months of convincing my girlfriend to have an abortion, I was diagnosed with eighty-three ulcers. My doctor told me that I would have to make some serious life-style changes or have my intestines or my colon removed. Within a year I had dropped out of my music major and abandoned my dream. At the time I had no idea what was causing me such misery.

Fortunately I came to an end of myself. In my depression I was able to acknowledge that I had made a complete mess of my life and that I needed God’s forgiveness and strength. I turned back to the narrow path. I found God’s surprising grace there. We all have wounds that never seem to heal—from childhood, from our sinful behavior, from living in the world. But the answer is not to pretend that they don’t exist or believe the world’s lies that we can alleviate them with self-gratifying pleasures.

We must face our wounds honestly, repent before God, and let Him surprise us with His amazing and healing grace. It is only then that we can begin to experience what God has intended and desired for us all along.

If you have taken part in an abortion and have never healed from this pain, you are probably today living with frustration, sadness, or pain in your relationships. I hope you will find encouragement from someone like you:

After attending our New Life Weekend, Maryann wrote: This weekend has blessed me by helping me to explore some  painful hurts and feelings that have surfaced about post abortion that I never talked about. I discovered the anger and unforgiveness in me. I leave here surrendering this to God so I can live under his power now, and find a self worth to be free, to be me. Steve, you and your radio staff have been in my life for 12 years. You have given me laughter, tears, and hope. You gave me a message one day when I was listening. If anyone had ever had an abortion and doesn’t think that’s their ‘it’ it is. I’d like to thank  you for that, thank God for giving me ears to hear that, and thank the person who have the scholarship who thought I was worth it.

If you’ve had an abortion, that’s what I call your ‘it.’ And until you find healing, ‘it’ will keep you from the forgiveness and joy your heavenly Father wants you to receive. Join us at our next New Life Weekend. We’d be honored to help.