The Key to Success

The Key to Success

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

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.

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


 

Rest For The Weary Soul

Rest for the Weary Soul

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

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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.

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

Redeeming Power Of Love

Faith in God’s transforming power means you have hope in His redeeming love. People struggle to imagine a love that doesn’t regard actions or attitudes’men especially struggle to understand this type of love. Our love is so often a response to the conditions surrounding it that using the word unconditional to describe it, to describe love, seems like an oxymoron.

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But with God, it’s not. God’s love for you is beyond human understanding; you simply can’t grasp it. Yet that doesn’t stop it from transforming your heart, your mind, and your entire life.

It’s hard sometimes to understand how much God loves me or why He loves me. But the idea that He loves those we consider our enemies just doesn’t make any sense at all. Yet that just shows the depth and extent of God’s love.

When you place your hope in a love of such magnitude and manner, you’ll finally see that whatever sin you’ve committed, whatever evil has been done to you, or whatever good thing life has taken from you can be used by God for good.

You can’t redeem your own life. Redemption isn’t pulling yourself up by your own spiritual bootstraps.  Aside from the fact that it’s utterly futile, it doesn’t glorify God. On the contrary, it insults Him. God is ready and willing for you to accept His gracious work of redemption. The only thing He requires is that you receive Jesus Christ with the open hands of faith. It’s a simple act of surrender.

What is 12-Step Recovery?

 

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As a seminary graduate and pastor, I was skeptical about much of psychology and recovery programs. I did learn a little more when I watched My Name is Bill W.–the story of the man who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous–but not much. I suspected that group meetings were touchy-feely, superficial gripe sessions that allowed addicts to blame everyone else in their lives for their problems. My greatest reservation stemmed from the commitment to speak of the generic ‘higher power’ instead of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the true life-changing power.

My views changed immediately and dramatically when a new job required a visit to a substance abuse rehab center. I found myself sitting in a group therapy session with men and women from their late teens to 60′s. They came from upper class homes, middle class working families, and the streets. I was amazed that they treated each other as true peers. Their pointed questions and frank confessions scared me, but I recognized that this is what real conversion looks like’people struggling with real guilt having no other hope than experiencing genuine rescue through faith in Jesus Christ. In short, they were living in true Christian community.

12-step recovery is biblical:

In my personal Bible study, I have found the principles that supported the steps. I finally became convinced that the steps were biblical when I recognized that Paul made his confession in 1 Timothy 1:15 as the result of completing the work of the 4th step: ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ In verses 8-11, Paul outlines the basis for a searching moral inventory: the 10 Commandments. He then confesses, ‘I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man’.’ In verse 15, Paul then explains why he can complete his moral inventory without fear: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’of whom I am the worst.’ Later, I recognized the prodigal son experienced the admission expressed in the first step when he came to his senses. The 5th step is completely in keeping with James’ instruction in his letter: ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ The 12 Steps help addicts face their sin and apply the remedy of the Gospel.

12-step recovery is progressive:

Working the steps requires following a process that moves the addict from a life of isolation to healthy relationships with others. In working the first 3 steps, you recognize the futility of your efforts to overcome your addiction by your own efforts and acknowledge your total dependence upon the Lord for help. In steps 4 through 6, you face the reality of your own brokenness due to sin and declare your readiness to have God transform you through the Gospel. In steps 7, 8, and 9, you work to repair the relationships that have been broken as a result of your addiction. In the final 3 steps, you work to advance the work already by growing in your knowledge of God and sharing what you’ve experienced with other addicts

12-step recovery is not self-help:

Anyone who hopes to end addiction must work the steps personally, but cannot work the steps without help from others. Groups urge members to find a sponsor/mentor who has already worked the steps or a partner who can work them at the same time in order to provide accountability for working the steps. Demonstrating a willingness to be in relationship through the steps is one of the most important foundations for completing the work. You are choosing to end the hiding and isolation. You must begin by deepening your relationship with God first. If I don’t really trust Jesus, then I won’t be able to trust His people. In the group meeting, you invite the other members to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing the God Who has walked that valley first is essential.

12-step recovery is an adventure:

The function of a 12-step group is not a precise science, as group veterans will attest. There are healthy and unhealthy groups. A healthy group fosters wholeness as the members progress through the steps. An unhealthy group permits members to repeat the same confessions they have made previously. Healthy groups can have unproductive meetings and unhealthy groups can have productive meetings.

The single greatest factor influencing a group’s health and effectiveness is the commitment of each member to work the steps. Members must help each other face the external and internal triggers that make up their patterns of addiction. Each person experiences moments of strength and of weakness’moments when it seems much easier to return to the life of denial and blame-shifting than to keep growing by answering that difficult question that has just been posed.

Following the well-trod path outlined by the 12 Steps will help you to escape the pattern of self-defeating behavior that has dominated your life and prevented you from experiencing wholeness through faith in Christ.

If you have a struggle with alcohol or drugs, we can help. Please see contact New Life Ministries at 800-639-5433.
If you’re struggle is with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Temptations Everywhere

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 NIV

If you stop to think about it, the cold, hard evidence is right in front of your eyes: you live in a temptation-filled world. The devil is out on the street, hard at work, causing pain, stress, and heartache in more ways than ever before. Here in the 21st century, the bad guys are working around the clock to lead you astray. That’s why you must remain vigilant.

In a letter to believers, Peter offered a stern warning: “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NASB). What was true in New Testament times is equally true in our own. Satan tempts his prey and then devours them. As believing Christians, we must beware. And, if we seek righteousness in our own lives, we must earnestly wrap ourselves in the protection of God’s Holy Word. When we do, we are secure.

The devil’s most devilish when respectable.    ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Do not fight the temptation in detail. Turn from it. Look ONLY at your Lord. Sing. Read. Work. ~Amy Carmichael

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus went through agony of soul in His efforts to resist the temptation to do what He felt like doing rather than what He knew was God’s will for Him. ~Joyce Meyer

Temptation is not a sin. Even Jesus was tempted. The Lord Jesus gives you the strength needed to resist temptation. ~Corrie Ten Boom

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, life is filled with temptations to stray from your chosen path. But, I face no temptation that You have not already met and conquered through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One who empowers me with His strength and His love. Amen

Counting Your Blessings

Blessings crown the head of the righteous . . . .
PROVERBS 10:6 NIV

Because we have been so richly blessed, we should make thanksgiving a habit, a regular part of our daily routines. But sometimes, amid the stresses and obligations of everyday life, we may allow interruptions and distractions to interfere with the time we spend with God.

Have you counted your blessings today? And have you thanked God for them? Hopefully so. After all, God’s gifts include your family, your friends, your talents, your opportunities, your possessions, and the priceless gift of eternal life. How glorious are these gifts . . . and God is responsible for every one of them.

So today, as you go about the duties of everyday life, pause and give thanks to the Creator. He deserves your praise, and you deserve the experience of praising Him.

God’s kindness is not like the sunset—brilliant in its intensity, but dying every second. God’s generosity keeps coming and coming and coming.   ~Bill Hybels

When you and I are related to Jesus Christ, our strength and wisdom and peace and joy and love and hope may run out, but His life rushes in to keep us filled to the brim. We are showered with blessings, not because of anything we have or have not done, but simply because of Him. ~Anne Graham Lotz

Do we not continually pass by blessings innumerable without notice, and instead fix our eyes on what we feel to be our trials and our losses, and think and talk about these until our whole horizon is filled with them, and we almost begin to think we have no blessings at all? ~Hannah Whitall Smith

God is more anxious to bestow His blessings on us than we are to receive them.   ~St. Augustine

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, I have more blessings than I can count, and I praise You for Your gifts. Let me use my talents and my possessions for  Your glory . . . and for Your Son. Amen

Neighbors in Need

Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”  That’s exactly what Jesus did.
ROMANS 15:2-3 MSG

Sometimes, it’s not you, but instead your neighbors, who are experiencing stress. And, of course, we know that we’re instructed to love our neighbors, and yet there’s so little time . . . and we’re so busy. No matter. As Christians, we are commanded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love our neighbors just as we love ourselves. Period.

This very day, you will encounter someone who needs a word of encouragement, a pat on the back, a helping hand, or a heartfelt prayer. And, if you don’t reach out to your friend, who will? If you don’t take the time to understand the needs of your neighbors, who will? If you don’t love your brothers and sisters, who will? So, today, look for a neighbor in need . . . and then do something to help. Father’s orders.

The truest help we can render an afflicted man is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy, that he may be able to bear the burden himself.   ~Phillips Brooks

Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say: “I have made one human being at least a little wiser, or a little happier, or at least a little better this day.” ~Charles Kingsley

Encouraging others means helping people, looking for the best in them, and trying to bring out their positive qualities.   ~John Maxwell

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. ~John Wesley

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, help me be a Good Samaritan to the people You place along my path, today and every day. Amen

Too Busy?

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.
PROVERBS 21:5 MSG

Has the hectic pace of life robbed you of the peace that might otherwise be yours through Jesus Christ? Are you one of those people who is simply too busy for your own good? If so, you’re doing everybody a disservice by heaping needless stresses upon yourself and your loved ones.

God offers you a peace that passes human understanding, but He won’t force His peace upon you; in order to experience it, you must slow down long enough to sense His presence and His love.

Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your world, invite Christ to preside over every aspect of your life. It’s the best way to live and the surest path to peace . . . today and forever.

Often our lives are strangled by things that don’t ultimately matter.   ~Grady Nutt

This is a day when we are so busy doing everything that we have no time to be anything. Even religiously we are so occupied with activities that we have no time to know God.   ~Vance Havner

Being busy, in and of itself, is not a sin. But being busy in an endless pursuit of things that leave us empty and hollow and broken inside—that cannot be pleasing to God.   ~Max Lucado

We often become mentally and spiritually barren because we’re so busy.   ~Franklin Graham


TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear Lord, when the quickening pace of life leaves me  with little time for worship or for praise, help me to reorder  my priorities, and let me turn to Jesus for the peace that only He can give.  Amen

Finding Peace

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
JOHN 16:33 NKJV

Oftentimes, our outer struggles are simply manifestations of the inner conflict that we feel when we stray from God’s path. Jesus offers us peace, not as the world gives, but as He alone gives. Our challenge is to accept Christ’s peace into our hearts and then, as best we can, to share His peace with our neighbors. When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, we are transformed by His grace. We are then free to accept the spiritual abundance and peace that can be ours through the power of the risen Christ.

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? Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your friends, claim the inner peace that is your spiritual birthright: the peace of Jesus Christ. It is offered freely; it has been paid for in full; it is yours for the asking. So ask. And then share.

Prayer guards hearts and minds and causes God to bring peace out of chaos.   ~Beth Moore

Before God changes our circumstances, He wants to change our hearts.   ~Warren Wiersbe

When we do what is right, we have contentment, peace, and happiness.   ~Beverly Lahaye

Peace with God is where all peace begins.   ~Jim Gallery

To know God as He really is—in His essential nature and character—is to arrive at a citadel of peace that circumstances may storm, but can never capture.   ~Catherine Marshall

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, let me accept the peace and abundance that You offer through Your Son Jesus. You are the Giver of all things good, Father, and You give me peace when I draw close to You.
Help me to trust Your will, to follow Your commands, and to accept Your peace, today and forever. Amen

The Struggle Against Worldliness

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
ROMANS 12:2 NASB

We live in the world, but we should not worship it—yet at every turn, or so it seems, we are tempted to do otherwise. As Warren Wiersbe correctly observed, “Because the world is deceptive, it is dangerous.”

The 21st-century world we live in is a noisy, stress-filled, distracting place, a place that offers countless temptations and dangers. The world seems to cry, “Worship me with your time, your money, your energy, your thoughts, and your life!” But if we are wise, we won’t fall prey to that temptation.

C. S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.” That’s good advice. You’re likely to hit what you aim at, so aim high . . . aim at heaven.

The Lord Jesus Christ is still praying for us. He wants us to be in the world but not of it.   ~Charles Stanley

Our fight is not against any physical enemy; it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We must struggle against sin all our lives, but we are assured we will win.   Corrie Ten Boom

The more we stuff ourselves with material pleasures, the less we seem to appreciate life.   Barbara Johnson

All those who look to draw their satisfaction from the wells of the world—pleasure, popularity, position, possessions, politics, power, prestige, finances, family, friends, fame, fortune, career, children, church, clubs, sports, sex, success, recognition, reputation, religion, education, entertainment, exercise, honors, health, hobbies—will soon be thirsty again! ~Anne Graham Lotz

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, this world is a crazy place, and I have many opportunities to stray from Your commandments. Help me turn to obey You! Let me keep Christ in my heart, and let me put the devil in his place: far away from me! Amen

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries