A Book Unlike Any Other

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.
ROMANS 1:16 HCSB

The Bible can be a powerful tool for defeating stress. George Mueller observed, “The vigor of our spiritual lives will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our lives and in our thoughts.” As Christians, we are called upon to study God’s Holy Word and then apply it to our lives. When we do, we are blessed.

The Bible is a priceless gift, a tool for Christians to use as they share the Good News of their Savior, Christ Jesus. Too many Christians, however, keep their spiritual tool kits tightly closed and out of sight. Jonathan Edwards advised, “Be assiduous in reading the Holy Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Therefore let not this treasure lie by you neglected.” God’s Holy Word is, indeed, a priceless, one-of-a-kind treasure. Handle it with care, but, more importantly, handle it every day.

God gives us a compass and a Book of promises and principles—the Bible—and lets us make our decisions day by day as we sense the leading of His Spirit. This is how we grow. ~Warren Wiersbe

I am certain that the Bible is the Word of God. Either it is or it isn’t, and either all of it is the Word of God, or we never can be sure of any of it. It is either absolute or obsolete. If we have to start changing this verse, toning down that, apologizing for this and making allowances for that, we might as well give up, so we must take it as it is or leave it alone. ~Vance Havner

The instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. The truth is our sanctifier. If we do not hear or read it, we will not grow in sanctification.   C. H. Spurgeon

The Bible is the one Book to which any thoughtful man may go with any honest question of life or destiny and find the answer of God by honest searching.  ~John Ruskin

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, the Bible is Your gift to me. Let me use, let me trust it, and let me obey it, today and every day that I live. Amen

His Promises

As for God, his way is perfect.
All the LORD’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.

PSALM 18:30 NLT

What do you expect from the day ahead? Are you willing to trust God completely, or are you living beneath a cloud of doubt and fear? God’s Word makes it clear: you should trust Him and His promises, and when you do, you can live courageously.

For thoughtful Christians, every day begins and ends with God’s Son and God’s promises. When we accept Christ into our hearts, God promises us the opportunity for earthly peace and spiritual abundance. But more importantly, God promises us the priceless gift of eternal life.

Sometimes, especially when we find ourselves caught in the inevitable entanglements of life, we fail to trust God completely.

Are you tired? Discouraged? Fearful? Be comforted and trust the promises that God has made to you. Are you worried or stressed? Be confident in God’s power. Do you see a difficult future ahead? Be courageous and call upon God. He will protect you and then use you according to His purposes. Are you confused? Listen to the quiet voice of your Heavenly Father. He is not a God of confusion. Talk with Him; listen to Him; trust Him, and trust His promises. He is steadfast, and He is your Protector . . . forever.

Joy is not mere happiness. Nor does joy spring from a life of ease, comfort, or peaceful circumstances. Joy is the soul’s buoyant response to a God of promise, presence, and power.   ~Susan Lenzkes

The meaning of hope isn’t just some flimsy wishing. It’s a firm confidence in God’s promises—that He will ultimately set things right.   ~Sheila Walsh

Gather the riches of God’s promises which can strengthen you in the time when there will be no freedom.   ~Corrie Ten Boom

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear God, the Bible contains many promises. Let me trust Your promises, and let me live according to Your Holy Word, not just for today, but forever. 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

The Need to Forgive

All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another,  forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
EPHESIANS 4:31-32 HCSB

It has been said that life is an exercise in forgiveness. And it should be added that forgiveness is an essential step in overcoming tough times.

Christ understood the importance of forgiveness when He commanded, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV). But sometimes, forgiveness is difficult indeed.
When we have been injured or embarrassed, we feel the urge to strike back and to hurt the ones who have hurt us. But Christ instructs us to do otherwise. Christ teaches us that forgiveness is God’s way and that mercy is an integral part of God’s plan for our lives. In short, we are commanded to weave the thread of forgiveness into the very fabric of our lives.

Do you invest more time than you should reliving the past? Are you troubled by feelings of anger, bitterness, envy, or regret? Do you harbor ill will against someone whom you simply can’t seem to forgive? If so, it’s time to finally get serious about forgiveness.

When someone hurts you, the act of forgiveness is difficult, but necessary. Until you forgive, you are trapped in a prison of your own creation. But what if you have tried to forgive and simply can’t seem to do so? The solution to your dilemma is this: you simply must make forgiveness a higher priority in your life.

Have you sincerely asked God to forgive you for your inability to forgive others? Have you genuinely prayed that those feelings of anger might be swept from your heart? If so, congratulations. If not, perhaps it’s time to move past your own particular tough times by freeing yourself from the chains of bitterness and regret.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.   ~C. S. Lewis

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, forgiveness is Your commandment, and I know that I should forgive others just as You have forgiven me.  But, genuine forgiveness is difficult. Help me to forgive those who have injured me, and deliver me from the traps of anger  and bitterness. Forgiveness is Your way, Lord; let it be mine. Amen

Make Peace With the Past

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
JOHN 14:27 KJV

Some of life’s greatest roadblocks are not the ones we see through the windshield; they are, instead, the roadblocks that seem to fill the rearview mirror. Because we are imperfect human beings who lack perfect control over our thoughts, we may allow ourselves to become “stuck” in the past—even though we know better. Instead of focusing our thoughts and energies on the opportunities of today, we may allow painful memories to fill our minds and sap our strength. We simply can’t seem to let go of our pain, so we relive it again and again . . . with predictably unfortunate consequences. Thankfully, God has other plans.

Philippians 3:13-14 instructs us to focus on the future, not the past: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NKJV). Yet for many of us, focusing on the future is difficult indeed. Why? Part of the problem has to do with forgiveness. When we find ourselves focusing too intently on the past, it’s a sure sign that we need to focus, instead, on a more urgent need: the need to forgive. No amount of anger or bitterness can change what happened yesterday. Tears can’t change the past; regrets can’t change it. Our worries won’t change the past, and neither will our complaints. Simply put, the past is, and always will be, the past. Forever.

Can you summon both the courage and the wisdom to accept your past and move on with your life? Can you accept the reality that yesterday—and all the yesterdays before it—are gone? And, can you entrust all those yesterdays to God? By God’s grace, you can.

So if you’ve endured a difficult past, learn from it, but don’t live in it. Instead, build your future on a firm foundation of trust and forgiveness: trust in your Heavenly Father, and forgiveness for all His children, including yourself.

If you are God’s child, you are no longer bound to your past or to what you were. You are a brand new creature in Christ Jesus.   ~Kay Arthur

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, free me from anger, resentment, and envy. When I am bitter, I cannot feel the peace that You intend for my life. Keep me mindful that forgiveness is Your commandment, and help me accept the past, treasure the present, and trust the future . . . to You. Amen

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.

The World’s Biggest Loser

Steve Arterburn

At first thought, it may puzzle you, startle you, or even offend you to think of Jesus Christ as the world’s biggest loser. It should. But those reactions don’t make the claim untrue. They only help us grasp just how counter-intuitive, how grand, and how scandalous the gospel really is. Here’s some food for thought, which I hope you’ll take some time to meditate on:

Being conceived by the Holy Spirit—that is, virgin born—was certainly an occasion for scandal. So much so, in fact, that Mary’s husband-to-be, Joseph, nearly terminated their engagement. Our Lord came into this world—his world—under the meanest of circumstances. His parents were insignificant people from an insignificant town. The world had no room for his coming. He was born in a barn, placed in a feeding trough for animals, and welcomed by lowly shepherds.

Jesus’ upbringing was not one of privilege or social prominence. When he began his public ministry, he sought and attracted the so-called dregs of society: the poor, the sickly, the uneducated, tax collectors, prostitutes, widows, and fisherman. His family and friends were perplexed by him. Many others were outraged by him. On the night of his arrest, Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends, and abandoned and denied by the rest of them. He was beaten and mocked by the Romans, and stood bloodied before his own Jewish people, only to hear them cry for his death. And then, on a hill outside of Jerusalem, a hill reserved for dumping garbage and executing criminals, Jesus was stripped nearly naked and nailed to a cross. In pain of body and distress of soul, he hung as a spectacle and an object of ridicule, as one who was abandoned by God and despised by humans.

Since that time, Jesus Christ has not attracted many of the world’s perceived winners—those who are rich, powerful, and well-positioned. In fact, it has been the case from the beginning that the church has been composed of mostly those whom the world has not esteemed. Even now, as the peoples of the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing unprecedented advances in their standards of living, they are cooling to the bedraggled Jew from Nazareth while those who suffer—those in Africa, South America, and  Asia—are presently flocking to the Kingdom.

In his amazing mercy and meekness, Jesus Christ has entered into the darkest, ugliest, and most broken places of human existence, and reflected a picture of the human predicament that is quite staggering. But it’s a predicament that we all share. Therefore, he continues to call all those who feel the burden of life East of Eden, those weighed with grief, fear, confusion, regret, loneliness, and addiction. To such as these, Christ is, and will always be, matchlessly beautiful. To the rest, however, Jesus will remain One of little account or consequence; that is, the world’s biggest loser.

Would you like to know Jesus Christ? Please see our New Life Every Day Devotionals and New Life Bibles.

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

The Truth About Anger

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

Despite what you may have been taught, even anger can be a
legitimate emotional response to a broken world.Christ became angry, expressed it, and did something about
it.Consider the story from the gospel
of Mark.The text says, ‘a man with a
shriveled hand was there.Some of them
were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see
if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of
everyone.’Then Jesus asked them,
‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or do evil, to save life or to
kill?’But they remained silent’ (Mark
3:1-4).

What a terrible silence that was!It reeked with hypocrisy, hatred, jealously, and a stubborn
refusal to believe.The text says, ‘He
looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts,
said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’
He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored’ (verse 5).

Now Jesus knew very well what sort of world he would enter
when he stepped through the gates of heaven to be conceived in the womb of a
teenage girl and born in Bethlehem.He
was under no illusions about the intransigence, cruelty, hatred, and
woodenheaden obstinacy he would encounter during his earthly sojourn.He knew very well that the sins of earth
would cost him his life.Even so, when
he came nose to nose with such sin and stubbornness in his teaching ministry,
it caused him deep frustration’even to the point of burning anger.

What then does Scripture have to say about anger in our
lives?It can certainly be sinful and
out of control, even dangerous.But it
doesn’t have to be.The Bible gives us
guidelines for expressing that anger in a healthy way.Paul writes, ”In your anger do not
sin.’Do not let the sun go down while
you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold’ (Ephesians
4:26-27).What great counsel!Yes, you and I will experience surges of
anger from time to time.And that anger
isn’t necessarily sinful.The key lies
in dealing with that anger before it finds a place to lodge and take root in
our hearts.We need to deal with
relational problems right away and not allow them to fester or seethe within
us.That’s where Satan finds a foothold
in our lives.

James reminds us to be ‘slow to become angry.’Why?
Because ‘man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God
desires'(James 1:19-20).In other words, anger should not dominate
our lives so that we’re living with a perpetual chip on our shoulder, ready to
fly off the handle at the slightest provocation.But neither James nor Paul says we should never be angry.

Of course, in some expressions of the Christian faith, anger
is a no-no for both men and women.Some
believe that everyone must be completely nice and pleasant at all times
and that anyone showing anger is not a good Christian; he or she should work on
the sinful attitude at the heart of the anger.
But such a belief distorts how Christianity and reality are to be
joined.Everyone, Christian or not, is
going to get angry.The sooner this
anger is expressed and resolved, the better.
Yet many angry Christians don’t acknowledge they are angry, even as they
seethe with bitterness and resentment.
Their denial of their feelings is both ineffective and unnecessary.

Without our anger we are unable to cleanse the temple of God and maintain its sanctity. Without anger, we cannot get those people who violate the sanctity of our beings out of our lives. Without our anger, we are relegated to playing the role of enabler and victim.

Anger can be a mechanism of self-defense; those who deny its
presence are vulnerable to manipulation and all forms of exploitation.People who don’t have the right to be angry
become powerless, unable to stand for what is right.

Some of us are walking paradoxes: The emotions we are
willing to show don’t match what we’re actually feeling.We are in a constant state of denial when it
comes to our emotions.Women, though
angry on the inside, feel safe if they only show their misery and
depression.Men, feeling sad and
depressed, will not risk being labeled weak by expressing their sadness.So they mask their depression by pushing
people around through their anger.

Genuine healthy Christianity, however, is able to embrace
who we are as human beings.God knows
your struggles, your heartache, your brokenness.He doesn’t reject you because you have needs or feel strong
flashfloods of emotion.Instead, he
wants to point you to godly resources to meet those needs’and ultimately, to
himself.He made you.Who understands you better than he?God created us as emotional beings.He created us with needs.The key is that he wants every one of those
needs to point us back to him.

Genuine Christian experience encourages believers to
‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn'(Romans 12:15).It validates and honors the whole range of human emotion.

In healthy faith there is no need to hide our feelings. We
can rejoice that God has given us emotions by which to experience the extremes
of life.We should acknowledge them,
confess them when they are based on a wrong view of God, and express them as
they develop.

Healthy faith allows us to embrace all aspects of our
humanity.It acknowledges our capacity
to sin and make mistakes.There is no
illusion of perfection, no need to be perfect or to hide when we fail.Healthy faith allows us to experience God’s
mercy and grace’and pass it along. As
Paul noted, we who experience suffering and hurt and then feel the comfort of
Christ are the ones best qualified to administer first aid to others.

We become wounded healers…just like Jesus.  Need some help with your anger? 

Join us at our next New Life Weekend.