Developing Self-Control

Be self-controlled and alert. – 1 Peter 5:8a

Developing Self-Control

Developing self-control will help you tremendously as you seek to follow and become more like Jesus. And what we learn in the Bible is that self-control is both a fruit of the Spirit and a part of a larger progression of spiritual growth.

Peter, who learned some difficult lessons about self-control himself wrote this: “Your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Where are you struggling to exert some self-control? Are you struggling to control your temper with your husband, wife, or kids? Are you struggling to work diligently? Or maybe you work so diligently on the job you feel you’re entitled to spend your evenings playing video games, watching TV, or closing the door of communication with your family. Are you having a hard time living without that drink? How about your eating or spending habits? I could go on and on, but I think you catch my drift.

Self-control is a “fruit” that grows in your life when you cling closely to God, allowing his Spirit to flow through you. As you persevere, God will develop his own character in you, including self-control. And remember, you’re not alone. Seek help from your pastor, a wise friend, or a counselor–God has put these people in your life to help you in your efforts to be faithful.

– Steve Arterburn

The greatest strength and wealth is self-control. – Pythagoras

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Banishing Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . . – 1 John 4:18a

Banishing Fear

When we feel threatened in relationships, we tend to become defensive and guarded. On the other hand, when we feel safe, we’re far more willing to be open and vulnerable. This is true of our relationships with other people, and it’s also true in our relationship with God.

The apostle John wrote: “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that [God’s] love has not been perfected in us. We love each other as a result of his loving us first.”

If Jesus hadn’t paid the price for our sins on the cross, there would be every reason for fear and defensiveness before a holy God. But, God showed His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins and free us from them. As a result, it’s safe to open yourself to God.

Jesus has his arms wide open, calling you to come and receive His love. Could there be anything better? His love is real, and waiting to embrace you. His love is ready to transform you and drive the fear from your heart. God is love, and He shows Himself to you in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

When you open yourself to God’s love, you’ll become open to seeing the truth about God and yourself—and you’ll no longer need to be afraid.

– Steve Arterburn

Never take counsel of your fears. – Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

Called by Name

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. – John 10:3-4

Called by Name

There’s no group discount for the kingdom.  Instead, God tugs at your heart as an individual, calling you one by one.  When God calls someone, He calls him or her personally.  It’s a biblical pattern repeated time and again.

The Lord called young Samuel by name until he responded. (1 Samuel 3) Jesus stopped at the fishing boat of Peter and Andrew and said, “Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus halted Saul of Tarsus in his tracks in the middle of the highway, again calling him by name. (Acts 9:1-9)

And so it’s been through all of time. The manner and circumstances of the call are radically diverse, but its personal nature is the same. The Bible compares such a relationship to a shepherd’s intimate knowledge of his flock. The shepherd knows the peculiarities and habits of every one of his lambs.

Jesus Christ knows you intimately. He calls you by name. Listen for Him today!  When you hear Him—respond to Him!

– Steve Arterburn

 A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be. – Rosalynn Carter

The Key to Success

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. – Psalm 42:1

The Key to Success

Looking for an edge in life?  Consider this: God is the key to any success you may have in learning to control your desires.  He must be your strength, your counselor, and your sure foundation.

Why is God so important?  Because He’s the source and fulfillment of all human life, including yours.  In other words, you were created by God as well as for God.  We often forget the latter.

St. Augustine made this beautiful confession nearly seventeen centuries ago:  “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You, O Lord.”  It was true for him then, and it’s true for you now.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2)

Whoever drinks the water I give Him,” said Jesus, “will never thirst…[it] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 14)

I am the bread of life,” said Jesus, ‘He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’.” (John 6:35)

Behind all your cravings is a craving for God.  And this craving can only be filled through a relationship with Jesus Christ—your true food and drink.

– Steve Arterburn

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. – Michelangelo

Rest For The Weary Soul

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. – Psalm 38:4

Rest For The Weary Soul

There are plenty of roads in life that promise joy, health, peace, or transformation. Most of them, however, don’t lead in that direction. You can literally exhaust yourself seeking spiritual refreshment. And that doesn’t make any sense.

We work hard at building a good life, but instead of joy on the journey, we often feel weighed down by life. Have you grown weary going down one wrong road after another?

Proverbs tells us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12) The fact that a way looks right at first glance doesn’t mean it’s leading toward spiritual renewal . . . it could be leading to a dead end. If you’re someone who has taken many paths but still finds yourself weary, turn to Jesus. He said these words for you: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Any spiritual path that doesn’t lead to Jesus Christ won’t lead to true spiritual renewal . . . no matter how right it seems at first.  In fact, Jesus Christ Himself is our way. Remember, the burden He calls you to bear on your journey is light, and the yoke of His expectation fits you perfectly. When you do this, He promises rest for your soul.

– Steve Arterburn

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. – George Müller

We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, “I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my world, the whole world.” – Bruce Larson

If we believe that God is always at hand, always ready to hear, surely we should take delight in telling Him all our little cares, and woes, and hopes, as they flit by. – H.L. Sidney Lear

A Promise in the Pain

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout hearted. – Psalm 138:3

A Promise in the Pain

About five seconds outside the womb I think we all discover that this life isn’t easy. And it seems that the older we get the tougher it becomes. Some people have problems or are attracted to difficulties like fleas to a dog. Others make it through life with relatively little difficulty.

But most likely, you’ll face some tough times in life, and it’s not important how your challenges stack up to the challenges of others. Sometimes you might wonder if you are going to be able to make it through, and you will if you hold onto God. He’s promised to see you through.

Are you weighed down? Do you feel overcome with grief or alone in your struggle?

You can choose to take steps to walk through your challenges and come through them a stronger person.

Remember, believing in God and in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. But it does mean you have resources, people, and God’s Spirit who will see you through your problems. What could be better?

– Steve Arterburn

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” – William A. Ward (1921-1994)

Accepting Forgiveness

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – Luke 5:24a

Accepting Forgiveness

Many of us struggle with a sense of guilt that won’t go away, even after we’ve confessed our sin and know in our minds that we’re forgiven. It’s hard–sometimes too hard–to accept that God has forgiven us. When you ask God to forgive your sin, he does. The Bible says he removes your sin “as far as the East is from the West.” Do you know what that means? It means that the second time you ask forgiveness for a sin, God says, “What sin?” Because he already erased it from your record, forever.

Mistakes aren’t sources of shame in your life; they are avenues for grace. God’s grace is not reserved solely for our salvation. God gives his grace to us day in and day out.

Your weakness or failure shouldn’t disqualify you or discourage you from making an effort in the first place. Don’t think: If I try harder, I will never fail again. Instead, think: Even though failure’s a possibility, by God’s grace, I will go forward.

When you find yourself struggling with accepting God’s forgiveness, try this: Write a letter which says to your spouse, your children, or a good friend who struggles with not feeling forgiven. If you need some help, search the Bible . . . it’s full of stories and instruction on forgiveness. When you finish, read the letter to yourself, and ask the Holy Spirit to apply the truth of God’s promises to your heart.

– Steve Arterburn

Always forgive your enemies–nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

Finding Their Voices

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5
Finding Their Voices

As its founder, I’ve participated in several focus groups, surveys, and brainstorming sessions associated with the Women of Faith Conferences. Their objective? To identify and address areas where women felt they needed help becoming all God desires of them.

Perhaps the most common theme is that women need to “find their voices.” In other words, Christian women today must discover who they are in Jesus Christ, and express that in their lives in such a way that glorifies God.

One of the reasons so many women need this kind of help is that so many men pressure and push women to be silent—to neglect their voice. Sadly, many men secure their own position by stifling or ignoring the identity, and unique gifting of women. Consequently, many women sense that their role is perceived as insignificant; they feel that their voice isn’t recognized, valued, or welcomed.

It’s the challenge of every man to help the woman in his life find her voice, and then, be respectful and receptive when that voice speaks. Men, I challenge each of you: guard the voice God’s given to the woman in your life, whether it’s your wife, your daughter, your sister or your mother. Stop and listen to her.

– Steve Arterburn

Before God we are all equally wise–and equally foolish. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” – Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

A Sober Request

No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:6

A Sober Request

I’ll never forget the night I was listening to Chuck Swindoll address about ten thousand Christians. Right in the middle of his message, I heard a
statement that virtually sucked the air right out of the room.

He proclaimed, “I know some of you are having sex with your children. And I’m telling you to stop it. I’m asking you to stop it. You must consider the impact on your child. You must stop having sex with your children.

Why on earth would he say that? Because he was the pastor of a church and heard the confessions of people who’d been involved in incestuous relationships.

It is reported that the trauma of child abuse actually rewires parts of the brain in both function and structure. The effects are quite serious. The abnormalities can last right through adulthood, leaving the victim with such problems as aggression, poor emotional control, memory and attention disorders, and serious mood and personality disorders.

The nature of this sin is such that all of us would rather leave it in silence. But we simply cannot. Therefore, I repeat what Chuck Swindoll said that night: “You must stop having sex with your children.” And I would add, “I beg you to get the help you need.

Steve Arterburn

“If you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.” – Unknown Author

 

A Perplexing Life

I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

A Perplexing Life

In his book, The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn tells the story of his family’s trip to Egypt. While driving through the hot and dusty streets of Cairo, they passed a graveyard for American missionaries and decided to enter. One sun-scorched tombstone in particular caught their attention. At the top it read: William Borden, 1887-1913.

What makes Borden so interesting is that he was a Yale graduate, and the heir to great wealth. Yet he rejected a life of ease in order to help bring the gospel to Egypt. He gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions, and after only four months of ministry in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at age twenty-five.

At the bottom of William Borden’s tombstone is the powerful little statement: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

The gospel doesn’t merely take the world’s wisdom and “clean it up.” It doesn’t teach us to simply sing the world’s song dressed up in a religious vocabulary. No, the gospel sets the wisdom of the world upon its head, and counts it as foolishness. The gospel introduces an entirely new set of values and concerns, and an entirely new way of looking at life.

Steve Arterburn 

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis (1895–1963)