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beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Darkness—oppressive darkness. It was all Emma could see. No matter which way she looked, there it was staring back at her. Each path she could take led to the same thing: more darkness. What had become of light? Did it even exist anymore?

Perhaps it did, somewhere. Emma knew at the end of her journey there’d be light. But there was no more light onthe journey, of that she felt sure.

Emma’s last several miles had been filled with obstacles. Now all she could see were dark shadows stretching out before her.

“It’s just so discouraging,” Emma moaned to her traveling companion, Sarah. “I’m not sure why my father set me on this journey in the first place.”

“Okay, I know it seems discouraging,” Sarah replied. “But you’re not seeing the truth, Emma. Yes, there’s darkness, but there’s light too. There’s night, but there’s also day. You’ve got to put those glasses on.”

“Glasses?” Emma asked listlessly.

“Yes, you know, the ones your father gave you.”

Right—the glasses. Her father had given her glasses to help her see the world as it really was. Emma was pretty sure the glasses wouldn’t change anything—that she was already seeing everything accurately—but she pulled them out and dutifully held them up to her eyes anyway.

Wait—there was light amid what before had seemed only darkness! What a difference it made to look at the situation through the lenses of truth.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:7 (ESV)

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31-32 (ESV)
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Jesus said that we are to be the salt of the earth, so what did He mean by this?

Worth their Salt

In ancient times, salt was a valuable commodity. So much so that it became a currency of sorts. Sometimes people were paid with salt or paid for something with salt. If someone didn’t work hard enough, or their character seemed questionable, they might be thought of as “not being worth their salt.” In fact, the word “salary” comes from the word salt.

For example, a Roman soldier’s salary specifically meant the amount of money allotted to that soldier to buy the amount of salt he would need, but sometimes they paid the Roman soldiers wages along with a provision of salt. The salt was actually worth more than the wages they receive, because salt was an expensive, but it was essential. Salt is not just vital to the human body, but before there was refrigeration or preservatives, it was the only way they could preserve food.

Just about everything was salted. If not, spoilage would occur and food supplies were sometimes scarce, but salt does a lot more than just protect against spoilage. Salt enhances the flavor of food. Job asked, “Can something tasteless be eaten without salt, Or is there any taste in the white of an egg” (Job 6:6)? Not for me there isn’t. Until I use a little salt, the white of an egg tastes a little like unflavored gelatin; without taste. A lot of things taste better with salt.

Salt of the Earth

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matt 5:13), but what did He mean by saying salt that’s lost its taste is “only good to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet?”

When salt becomes mixed with impurities, it’s basically worthless for human consumption, but there is one purpose that corrupted salt has, and that’s to be trampled on. Salt wasn’t even good for cleansing wounds when it had impurities in it, so the bad salt would be spread out over the roadways and walkways.

The salt repelled water and hardened the ground over time. Since the impurities of the salt rendered it useless for humans to use, it was only good for one thing; being “thrown out and trampled under people’s feet,” meaning it is no good to anyone…unless that is, you want something to walk on, but what did Jesus mean by saying we’re the salt of the earth?

Salted Speech

The Apostle Paul mentioned the idea of saltiness when he wrote to the church at Colossae: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” (Gal 4:6), but what is speech seasoned with salt?

Paul states the desired outcome as knowing how “to answer each person,” and hopefully like the Apostle Peter said, “with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pet 3:15), so salty speech is gentle speech. It is giving the right and godly response, regardless of what was said. Salted speech contains words that show respect and dignity for others.

We don’t focus on what response people deserve to hear, but a response people need to hear. We know that harsh words stir up anger, but soft answers can calm things down (Prov 15:1), so our words should not respond in kind, but when insulted, “answer each person…with gentleness and respect.”

That is speech seasoned with salt. Salted speech contains words that edify, encourage, and exhort. They build upward and not tear downward. That’s the reason Paul commanded Timothy to, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (2 Tim 2:14). As someone has said, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink, but you can feed them salty peanuts (1 Pet 3:15).

Preservative and Cleanser

I remember in one of the first jobs of my life, my boss would sometimes wash out the coffee pot. He used crushed ice and salt water to do it, and by the time he was finished, it was crystal clear. He also said it disinfected it because salt water is a cleanser and acts as a germicidal.

He also used a bit of salt in making his coffee by adding some salt to the coffee grounds before brewing, and it did make it smoother. As a kid I remember gargling with warm salt water and my sore throat going away or my toothache easing up.

There are lots of things you can do with salt besides spice up the taste of food. In fact, you can’t get away from salt because there’s salt in just about everything you eat. Some of it acts as a preservative, but most of it is supposed to help give improve the taste of the food.

Of course, the bad thing is, too much salt can kill you. If you’re lost at sea, don’t drink the seawater! Drinking saltwater might help temporarily, but it rapidly increases your thirst, and the more you drink, the closer and closer you’ll get to dying from dehydration.

Too much salt can increase the risk for many things, like stroke and high blood pressure. And adding too much salt on food will ruin it, so if we are to be salt in this world, using speech that is salted with gentleness and respect, we can’t overwhelm people to the point of being obnoxious. Too much can leave a bitter taste in people’ mouth. Too much of anything is usually not good.

Conclusion

In the context of Jesus’ saying we are the salt of the earth, I believe He was saying, we are to be an example for the world, set upon a hill for everyone around us to see, like He mentioned in this same paragraph (Matt 5:13-16).

We are to be a light that shines in the darkness, but a light that we don’t hold in someone’s face, but neither do we leave it at home (under a basket), so Jesus’ comment about our being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, was in the context of letting our “light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).

It was a matter of having our speech salted with kind words of grace, even to those who hate us and abuse us. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). In short, be the salt of the earth. But first, you have to get out of the shaker.


 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Your crime

I should think of You more often
When I’m drowning in despair
But sometimes I’m just down so much
It seems nobody cares.

I’m lost in a world of bitterness,
Pain and suffering too
But if these people only knew
What You were going through.

You prayed that God would let You go
And miss the chance You had.
You knew He couldn’t do that
Because He was Your Dad.

He had a plan for You that day
The day You wore my crown
And I should think of You
Every time that I am down.

You suffered at the hands of those
Who wanted You to die
They took a vote and guess who won?
That big Barabbus guy.

Then they stripped You of Your clothes
And everything else they could
They spit on You and called You names
That really weren’t good.

They laughed and scorned and mocked Your name
You knew it must be done.
Because they didn’t believe You are
God’s One and Only Son.

Then they beat and whipped You ’till You bled
And no one shed a tear.
They placed the crown upon Your head
And again began to jeer.

They made You trudge on down that road
Each step a painful one.
I can only imagine how You felt.
That cross must have weighed a ton.

You arrived at the hillside dripping
All beaten and half dead
They laid You out upon the wood
The crown still on Your head.

They took each of Your loving arms
And nailed them to the tree
Then they made You a spectacle
A sight for all to see.

They nailed a sign above Your head
And waited for the time
When You would breathe Your final breath
Though You hadn’t done a crime.

As You hanged upon that rugged cross,
God’s One and Only Son
You cried out to the Father
“Forgive them, they don’t know what they’ve done.”

Closing Your eyes You breathed once more
Your last and final breath
You did all this to save the ones
Who choreographed Your death.

And here I am feeling down and out
Afraid no one will care
After all that You’ve been through for me
That’s not really fair.

I’m sorry Lord, for what I’ve done
And all the times I’ve strayed
I can’t believe that I am worth
The expensive price You paid.

I promise Lord, that I will change
Though I know it will be tough
Please help me to rid myself
Of all that yucky stuff.

The hurt, the pain, the bitterness
That lingers deep inside,
The lust, the lies, the suffering
And my precious pride.

Please help me Lord, to be like You
In every way I can
Help me Lord, to do Your Will
And not the will of man.

And Lord, when I am down and out
Remind me of the time
That You suffered a painful death
Because of Love . . . Your crime.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
His Love

Have you ever stopped to wonder
Why they called Good Friday “good”?
It seems to me that sad, black day
Could be misunderstood.

How His Father must have anguished
As He watched His dear Son die,
And not for crimes that He had done,
But for sinners such as I.

What kind of love could be so great,
To suffer willingly
The penalty for someone else;
His blood was shed for me.

But then when Sunday came around
And death had lost its sting,
That glorious morn’ was victory
For Jesus Christ, the King!

Now He’s alive for evermore.
The Father’s will was done.
Forgiveness, pardon, full and free,
By trusting in God’s Son.

It was a “good” Good Friday
For the thief who died there too;
He took his place in Heaven
When that long, dark day was through.

I am grateful to my Saviour:
My life to Him I owe.
I’ll serve and love Him always,
Because He loved me so.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
The Roman soldiers.

In the cool predawn darkness, three battle-hardened Roman soldiers in full armor are guarding Joseph’s tomb where Jesus was buried three days earlier. Despite strict army regulations, they are talking softly, almost at a whisper, between themselves.

“All men die the same,” one mutters.

This apathetic tone ignites a spark of anger from another. “Not like he did!” was the intense whispering reply. “We spiked him to the cross-bar and hoisted it onto the upright, but I’ll never forget the words that he said during his execution.” Turning his head and looking at the others with fire in his eyes and a narrowed brow, he said with slower more precise diction, “I was responsible for killing him, and he forgave me!”

A third insensitive voice quickly responds, “Haven’t you been a soldier too long to be troubled by a guilty conscience?”

The troubled guard continues to blurt out what he can no longer hold within himself. “The thief next to him asked this Jesus from Nazareth to remember him. Oh, his voice while in this nightmare of sure death and torture! He said, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” and in that instant the sky grew dark. Everyone felt the cold chill in the air then, like all the evil forces in the world were gloating when he cried. He sounded like the loneliest man in the world hanging there. The earthquake knocked me to the ground for a moment, and then the darkness began to lift. That was no mere man I crucified I tell you. He was more than just a mere man! Rarely a tomb is sealed as this one is, let alone guarded.”

In the dull light of the dawn, suddenly appears an angel enveloped within a fiercely bright pure light painful to the eyes as if looking directly into the high noon sun. The air reverberated like a crack of vicious thunder lifting the three Roman soldiers off their feet and throwing them to the ground , rendering them dumbfounded and motionless. Turning toward the six foot stone covering the opening of the grave, this immensely strong creature rolls the stone away from the entry of the tomb. The battle-hardened Roman soldiers sit there trembling, each gazing in unbelief yet knowing they have all seen the same thing.

“Sir! It’s gone! The body is gone!”

“Shut your mouth soldier!” the other shouted, scrambling to his feet.

“I tell you, he’s alive! What are we going to tell the Centurion?”

“You didn’t see anything! We fell asleep or something! You don’t know anything! Got it?” demanded the third.

“But I do know, and I did see, Captain! Jesus is out there alive I tell you! More than alive!”

The other two begin shoving, slapping, and shouting at the believing soldier with panic stricken voices, “Forget this ever happened, Marcus!”

A shaky voice on the verge of tears replies, “Forget it if you can sir, but with all due respect, Jesus is alive, and that changes everything.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
During World War I, families with a son in the war would place a star in the window. A man was walking along with his grandson when his grandson asked “Why do all these homes have stars in the windows?” The grandfather explained to the son what the star symbolized.

They walked along and every time they passed a home with a star in the window the boy would smile and clap his hands together. Then the boy pointed up to the sky and pointed to a star. “Look,” he said. “God must have given his son too!”

Many gave their lives for their country, but God gave his son for the world.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Could you?

Could you love someone with all of your heart?

Would you love them despite all of their flaws?

Could you love that someone no matter what they did?

To you?

Or others?

Would you do everything you could to fix their problems and take away their hurts?

If they hurt you deeply, could you still love them and want them to be a part of your life?

What if they treated you like you didn’t exist? Except when they needed something from you.

What if they totally ignored you? Except to blame you for the bad day they were having.

What if they made fun of you in front of all of their friends?

What if everytime you tried to talk to them and help them- they turned their back on you and walked away?

What if they did everything that you dissapproved of, knowing that you didn’t approve of it?

Could you still love someone like that?

Would you risk your life for someone like that?

Would you die a painful death for someone who’s love is not returned?

JESUS did…….

why?

BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU THAT MUCH!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
The evil voice came over the loudspeaker, with a hideous laugh.

Sam shuddered. It did indeed seem as if he was trapped. Hedges surrounded him on every side, looming above him and alongside him, as if they were about to devour him. All around was darkness. It was hopeless. Despair gripped his heart.

“I’ll always provide a way of escape”—his father’s words rang through his mind.

Sam looked around. He sure didn’t see a way to escape this. But his father never lied. “Father, show me the way of escape,” he cried. He looked closer at the hedges. Was that an opening he saw? There seemed to be a faint light coming through.

Sam moved closer to investigate. Sure enough, where before all had appeared to be darkness, he now could clearly see a small tunnel in the hedge. It wasn’t necessarily easy fitting through it, but Sam could make it. He got on his hands and knees and crawled through the hedge. The branches poked him, but on the other side—yes, it was true—he was free!

His father had indeed provided a way of escape—he just had to look for it.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Doth Job fear God for nought?”

Job 1:9

This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, but there are many in the present day concerning whom it might be asked with justice, for they love God after a fashion because he prospers them; but if things went ill with them, they would give up all their boasted faith in God. If they can clearly see that since the time of their supposed conversion the world has gone prosperously with them, then they will love God in their poor carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house. As for the true Christian, he expects to have his reward in the next life, and to endure hardness in this.

The promise of the old covenant is adversity. Remember Christ's words — “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit” — What? “He purgeth it, that it may bring forth fruit.” If you bring forth fruit, you will have to endure affliction. “Alas!” you say, “that is a terrible prospect.” But this affliction works out such precious results, that the Christian who is the subject of it must learn to rejoice in tribulations, because as his tribulations abound, so his consolations abound by Christ Jesus. Rest assured, if you are a child of God, you will be no stranger to the rod.

Sooner or later every bar of gold must pass through the fire. Fear not, but rather rejoice that such fruitful times are in store for you, for in them you will be weaned from earth and made meet for heaven; you will be delivered from clinging to the present, and made to long for those eternal things which are so soon to be revealed to you. When you feel that as regards the present you do serve God for nought, you will then rejoice in the infinite reward of the future.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Martha was cumbered about much serving.”

Luke 10:40

Her fault was not that she served: the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. “I serve,” should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had “much serving.” We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head, and heart, and hands, be engaged in the Master's service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement.

Her fault was that she grew “cumbered with much serving,” so that she forgot him, and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another. We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands.

The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear: the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate. Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus. See to it that sitting at the Saviour's feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing him service. The first thing for our soul's health, the first thing for his glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
When people think of God, one of the first things they think about is forgiveness, so here are 6 of the most powerful Bible verses about forgiveness, offered only through Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Since we’ve been forgiven so much, it stands to reason that it’s important that we learn or choose to forgive others, so maybe these Bible verses about God’s forgiveness will help us to be able to forgive others more easily. In the Book of 1 John, we read about the fact that we are all sinners. The Apostle John mentions our cleansing of sins, but this verse (1 John 1:9) is placed just before and after a clear statement about us being sinners, and that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), and again, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10), so the first point of being forgiven is acknowledging the fact that we are sinners in need of forgiveness. If someone claims to not be a sinner, then they have just called God a liar. Not a very tenable position to be in.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
The forgiveness or cleansing that John wrote about (1 John 1:9) is only possible because of the redemption we receive through the blood of Christ. We are not redeemed by doing anything “but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19). This is the very reason Jesus came. He said that, “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18), so here is the very righteousness of Christ offered to all who come to Him and put their trust in the Son of God.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
It may not be as much of a statement that if you don’t forgive others, you won’t be forgiven, but rather, if you are forgiven by God, you should naturally want forgive others because you’ve been forgiven infinitely more than we could ever forgive others for. It doesn’t seem natural for a believer to be forgiven and then not forgive others. If we are not confessing our sins and being cleansed from all unrighteousness, we may not care about forgiving others. That’s why it’s important to confess sin right away and not let sin go unconfessed. God already knows it anyway, even if no one else does. The person who cannot forgive others may have to question whether they’ve been forgiven or not.


Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
It’s difficult to be kind to one another, having a tender heart, and forgiving of one another if we don’t recognize the magnitude of our own sins and just how much we’ve been forgiven. The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:13 that we are to be “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Notice it said “you also must forgive,” as if it’s conditional. If we properly understand how much we’ve been forgiven, it should be easier for us to recognize how much “God in Christ forgave” us.

Luke 6:35-36 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
One of the most difficult things we can ever do as human beings is to love those who hate us and pray for those who persecute us, but that’s just what we’re called to do. Remember that “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels” (Rev 3:5), so this means we should forgive others who mean us harm. The mercy that we receive should be the mercy we extend to others because He was merciful to us. Since “we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:9).

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 is perhaps the best known of all Bible verses and it is powerful indeed, but to complete this thought, John continues by stating that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17), so neither should we be condemning others. It is Christ Who will judge, not us, but after this gracious verse (John 3:16) and the statement about not being condemned, Jesus is not finished, as He adds a warning that “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). Its one thing to quote John 3:16, but it should be in the context of John 3:17-18. God’s mercy is not as relevant until God’s wrath is revealed.

Conclusion
It’s not easy to forgive others, but neither is it for others to forgive us, but God’s forgiven us, so we must do the same for others. When we compare just how much we’ve been forgiven and the things that we must forgive others for, then we can understand that our forgiveness of others is incomparable to that which we have been forgiven. The saints of God “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14), so how can we not forgive others who have sinned against us? Why not share these top 6 Bible verses about God’s forgiveness, so that others can know how much God has forgiven them, and why it’s necessary that we forgive others.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
One man


One man, kneeling
alone in the night
Blood and sweat mix
outflowing in fright
Kneeling, praying
prone on the grass
“From my lips, Father,
let this cup pass.”

One man, standing
scorned, flogged, and beat
Harsh words still echo
there in the heat
“He is no king,”
he heard them cry
“Give us Barabbas!
and him — CRUCIFY!!”

One man, hanging
dying with thieves
Of the thousands who followed
for him, who grieves?
Friends watch at a distance
afraid to go near
Their whole worlds are shattered
their hearts filled with fear.

One man lived and died
in a rich grave was laid
For His blood was shed
that our debt be paid.
But death could not hold Him
resurrected He stands
To him who is weary
outstretched are His hands
In Christ there is rest
a requiem from strife
To him who believes
He will grant eternal life.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
The tree

He Created the Tree
He molded and built
A small lonely hill,
That He knew would be
Called Calvary.

Then He made the seed,
That would grow to be thorns
That would make
His Son bleed.

Then He made a green stem
Gave it leaves and then
Gave it sunshine and rain
And sheltered it with moss.

With tears in His eyes,
God looked down in time
Saw Him spat upon,
Beaten and mocked.

Still, He grew the tree,
That He knew would be
Used to make
The old rugged cross.

Nothing took His life.
With love He gave it.
He was crucified,
On the tree
That He created.

With great love for man
God stayed with His plan
He grew the tree,
That He knew would be
Used to make
The old rugged cross
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Hope for addicts

If there is someone you know who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may be the person God intends to help them.

The False Hope of Human Might – John 15
A good place for many alcoholics to start to overcome their addiction is to admit that they are an alcoholic, and the same applies to those addicted to drugs. That is usually step one in many recovery programs, and it is a step in the right direction in trying to overcome an addiction. To admit defeat is to be honest enough to acknowledge your need for help. There is certainly no shame in asking for it. Sometimes, they admit what everyone else already knows about them, but the humility that it takes to admit to a drug or alcohol addiction is also opening the door for God’s grace to come in. God says He resists the proud, but gives His grace to the humble (James 4:6). The Apostle John reminds us that we have no hope outside of Christ. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). A branch that is severed from the vine can do absolutely no good except to make for a good burn pile (John 15:6), so we can do nothing of significance without Christ…and nothing is not even a little “something.”

Hope in God – Psalm 42
Even in all of the turmoil of our lives, we who have hope in God can praise Him even when things around us are falling apart because we know that God can even use evil for good (Gen 50:20; John 3:16). We might reach a point where we ask ourselves, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me” (Psalm 42:5a), but the psalmist already knows the answer. He says it is “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5b). He says, when my “soul is cast down within me,” are the times when “I remember you” (Psalm 42:6a). That’s great advice. The psalmist knows from experience that “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8), so even though things might not look hopeful at the time, it doesn’t matter because our hope is not in circumstances…our hope is in God.




The Hope of Grace – 1st Peter 1
In 1 Peter chapter one, you can read how Peter’s encouraging words remind us that we have hope through this life and beyond the grave. We can rest assured that it’s not we who have to hold onto God’s hand, but the Father and Jesus who are holding onto us (John 10:28-29), and talk about a rock-solid promise…Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.

Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this”
(John 11:25-26)? With no separation from God, even by death (Rom 8:38-39), the Apostle Peter can write with assurance that it is not by our power, but God Who “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3b-4), and who, “by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” What hope that is!

Hope is our Anchor – Hebrews 6
The author of Hebrews shows us that our hope is not a hope-so but a know-so hope, because we have assurance in the God Who saved us. The author of Hebrews writes, “when God made a promise to Abraham” (Heb 6:13), “he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”
(Heb 6:17c-20). It’s not like a promise from one person to another because that promise might be broken by circumstances or a change of mind. Not so with God. We know His promises are “sure and steadfast,” like an “anchor of the soul.”

No Shame in Hope – Romans 5
If you seek to have hope, camp out in Romans 5, because the Apostle Paul tells us that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and this character produces a hope that never puts us to shame, but it all begins with being at peace with God. You cannot have the peace of God until you’re first at peace with God, but that peace comes like a river through the blood of the Lamb of God.

That’s why Paul can so boldly say, that since “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1), so it is “into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2). People can try to put you to shame for what you’ve done or are still doing, but they are not the ones you have to worry about. Don’t think, “What will people think of me,” but rather, “What does God know about me?” He’s the most important audience of all.

Conclusion
If you know of someone who is battling an addition, the last thing they need is more shame. They have enough of that already. What they don’t have, and what they’ve probably have not received from others, is someone who won’t judge them but help them. We can offer them help and our prayers, but also help with their physical needs. Jesus’ step-brother asks us all, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him” (James 2:14)? For example, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that” (James 2:15-16)? A good example is a friend or acquaintance who needs help, but the person says, “I’m so sorry, I will pray for you,” and then closes the door to help. What good is that?

I know. It’s good for nothing, because what we do for the least of these, we actually do to Christ Himself (Matt 25:40), or nothing, and that’s worthless to Christ, and to others (Matt 25:41-46). I’ve been an accountability partner for a few men. Was I busy at the time? Oh yeah, but…I thought about Jesus, and thought, if someone came up to Jesus to ask for help, would He be too busy? No, I don’t think so. Truly, we all need one another, and even more so as the Day of Jesus’ coming nears (Heb 10:24-25).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Think about it

Have you ever thought about it
Or tried to comprehend
Nailing your child to a cross
To die for other’s sins
Then to have those same people
Denounce you and your son
And go along with their sinful lives
And ignore what you have done

That’s what we all do
When Easter comes around
We hunt candy and eggs and celebrate
A bunny coming to town
And while all those things are good and well
We should concentrate on the cross
And remember the pain and suffering
When Jesus died for us

Have you ever thought about it
Or tried to comprehend
Having your child die for others
But at his memorial -none attend
And go along with their sinful lives
Like it’s just another day
And forgetting the ultimate price
That Jesus had to pay

That’s what we all do
When Sunday comes around
We sleep in late or go to the lake
Or simply lay around
And while all those things are good and well
We should concentrate on the Lord
And remember him each Sunday
By worshiping in one accord

Have you ever thought about it
Or tried to comprehend
Your child being able to save souls from hell
But no one tells their friends
They go along with their sinful lives
Never trying to help save a soul
And make money, success and having fun
Their primary goal

That’s what we all do
When we don’t witness to others
We’d rather speak of sports or gossip
With our sisters and out brothers
And while that’s all good and well
We should concentrate on salvation
And remember to spread God’s wonderful news
And his gracious invitation.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Imagine

Can you just imagine
How Jesus felt that day
When they hung him on the cross
And took his life away
Can you imagine the Roman soldiers
As they mocked and pierced his side
And as the blood flowed from Him
Jesus bowed his head and died

Can you imagine how His mother felt
As she knelled at the feet of her Son
As the angry mob was crying
Crucify him, it is done

Can you imagine the two Mary’s
When they went to the tomb that day
And found that the grave was empty
And the stone was rolled away
He’s not here, He has risen
It was all in God’s great plans
And the only proof that He ever died
Was the nail prints in His hands

Now, can you imagine what we’d have done
If that had been me or you
Could we have said “Father forgive them
For they know not what they do”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Spiritual Warfare

There is a spiritual war going on and with an invisible enemy, so how do you resist these attacks and what’s the enemy’s tactics?

Family Relationships
In this final installment about spiritual warfare, I wanted to discuss some things that people have experienced in the flesh. Several people talked to me about their experiences with demonic attacks. Several of their accounts shared similar experiences, but some were unique to the individual, but for the most part, it seems there is a spiritual war going on, and the prime target is the family.

Satan or his demons have no problems with unbelievers because they’re already headed down the broad path of destruction. Remember they are still unaware that they’re dead in their sins (Eph 2:1-2), because they cannot understand the gospel, not being able to see “the gospel of the glory of Christ” behind the veil (2 Cor 4:3-4), so the enemy will focus on Christian families.

If he and his minions can destroy family relationships, they can undermine what is the bedrock of society…the family. If tempers flare, then relationships can be hurt, so families must understand that, even “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh” (2nd Cor 10:3). That’s because our enemy is invisible to the human eye (Eph 6:12), so when tempers begin to flare, remember the admonition to be patient with one another because God is with us and in us.

Prayer Life
If you’re not on your knees, you’re standing on your own, so one way the enemy can hurt us is to try to keep us off our knees. If they can keep us busy with all the distractions of life, then they are helping us to cut off our only true source of help and hope. In this way, we won’t have time for God. Being too busy for God is Being Under Satan’s Yoke (BUSY).

Experience has taught many, and I include myself, that when prayer seems the most difficult, and there is little time to do it, it is the very time we need it the most. Otherwise, we become self-focused. Many years ago, I counseled a young man about some major difficulties in his life. He told me his story, but I think there must have been thirty “I’s” and “me” in his conversation.

And, I only noticed one mention of God. Any of us are susceptible to getting a severe case of “Me-it is,” or navel gazing, so once again, I was reminded that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). The only way the Apostle Paul learned contentment (Phil 4:11) was to go through suffering. Contentment is a choice; it is what we choose, even in less than contenting circumstances.





Feelings
Some the most frequent causes of spiritual attacks come when you have overcome a major sin, you’ve just had a huge success, you’ve just been generous to someone, and you are consistently sharing the gospel. This brings to mind the Prophet Elijah. Immediately after a huge success over the false prophets, there he was…running for his life from one person, Jezebel, and so he prayed, “Lord, it is enough…take my life” (1 Kings 19:4). What is noticeable is that there can be feelings of defeat, right after a great victory…but, that could be the enemy.

The enemy hates to lose and will come after someone who’s yielding to God’s Holy Spirit, so when you’re experience feelings of worthlessness, the slanderer might be trying to make you feel worthy, but who is? The point is, there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1). He is our worthiness. Feeling unworthy?

Ask yourself these questions: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (Rom 8:31-38).

Hypocrite
Have you ever thought of yourself as a hypocrite? The demons would love you to question your own sincerity, asking, “Who do you think you are? How can you share the gospel with someone when you’re such a wretch? How dare you pray to God!”

The truth is, we’re no better than the lost; only positionally and relationally are we better off, but not because we’re better people (Rom 3:10-12), but because of Christ (Rom 5:6-10) and a good God. The problem with guilt is it’s not necessary; confess it and move on (1 John 1:9). When we feel we’ve said or done something wrong, confess it immediately.

Don’t let unconfessed sin linger because the longer you put off that prayer of confession, the harder it will get, and the harder it will get to pray, and when we experience times of prayerlessness, we are losing our most important means of help. For me, it seems that when I try to pray, the phone rings, someone knocks on the door, the washing machine decides to do its dance, and all kinds of things start to come into my mind. I had thoughts that were anything but godly, so that’s likely the enemy.

Maybe it’s because the only time that Satan and the demons really fear is when we are praying in Jesus’ name. Prayer is not easy…it’s hard work, at least for me. For some, prayer seems to come easy, but not when you’re under spiritual attack. When you’re under attack, and with feelings of guilt, the last thing you want to do is to pray…but, in reality, the believer can only move forward in life on their knees.

Facts
This might be the hardest thing to do when you are under spiritual attack or feeling unworthy: Read your Bible. If it’s hard, try praying back the Word of God like Psalm 103, 51, and 34. We put far too much stock in feelings and not enough in facts. Don’t believe your feelings….believe what God’s Word says. Feelings are overrated, so tap the power of God’s Word, and stay in the Word. Make a daily Bible reading plan and stick to it. Listen to an audio Bible in the car or while you’re exercising.

It’s a great weapon to use in spiritual warfare, but also in putting facts over feelings. Feelings are highly subjective, while facts are objective. One is believable (the Bible) while the other can be wrong (feelings). God, in His wisdom, left us with about 365 mentions of “fear not,” or something very similar, in the New Testament alone. That means that we have at least one “fear not” for every day of the year, but again, you might be under spiritual attack when you feel unworthy. The way to deflect these finery darts is to get into the Word of God, armor up (Eph 6), and fall on your knees. Believe God’s Word and don’t trust your feelings. Human feelings are highly unreliable, but God’s Word is always true.

Isolation
Many that I counsel feel that God has let them down and they fall away from church or their belief in God. They also stop reading their Bible. They might even pull away from their Christian friends, but that is just what Satan has been hoping for because that’s where Satan is most dangerous. He would love nothing more than to try and isolate you.

He’s described as a roaring lion who is roaming about, seeking whom he might devour (1 Pet 5:8), and just like in the wild, a lion will attack the straggler, the one who becomes separated from the herd. If you feel like separating from other believers, take warning. You are more vulnerable when you are walking the Christian life as a solo act than when you’re with the Body of Christ.

Conclusion
Paul commands us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11), and this includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:14-17). In this way, “you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Eph 6:13b).

Isaiah the Prophet was inspired to write; “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you” (54:17a). Even though this was written to Israel, there are still applications for the believer because there is no weapon that the enemy can forge against you that will prevail against you, for God is for you and will never leave you (Rom 8:31) or forsake you (Heb 13:5b). Remember Job’s spiritual warfare, but as for his life, the enemy couldn’t touch it (Job 1:11-12). His life was safe.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
I wish to be your tears
The tears that comforted me after my dark year of wandering
The tears that prayed with fervent passion in solitude
The tears that came upon me with a radiant smile and soft voice
Tears like the morning dew made after a long eternity’s wait
Tears which I can embrace with my small heart

I yearn to share the love You showed
When You saved me in the lion’s lair
Protected me from the valley of death
Led me in the desolate wilderness
Shined upon me in the dark world

I wish to share the love You shared with me in times of despair
I want to walk in your path
Though it may be rough, Though it may be painful
Though I may encounter storms of hardship, the sorrow of parting
I believe in Your peace
I have faith in Your blessing

I wish to walk in the path You walked, bearing the cross in solitude
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
3 examples of spiritual warfare.

There is a war on…a way against Christians, so what can we learn from others who have battled Satan and his demons?

Job and Satan
In the Old Testament, “there was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1), so we know that Job was “one who feared God and turned away from evil” and was “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil,” but that can create a self-righteous person.

Job was declared righteous by God, but Satan believed it was only because God had blessed him, so Satan answered, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:10-11), however, if you read Job 29 and before, you can see that Job had become, the great “I am” as he boasted, “I did this and I did that.”

Notice Job says, “I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:15-16), so Job began to justify himself before others, and really, before God, even though Proverbs 16:8 warns us all that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” This is why we must remember that we can do nothing without Christ anyway (John 15:5), and the reason we must give Him all the glory. God Himself has appointed works for us to do, if only we walk in them (Eph 2:10), but to boast on doing this or doing that for others is only going to lead to a prideful attitude, and that pride is just what the Enemy wants. You’re playing right into his hands.





Peter and Satan
Pride is subtle and can sneak up on us without our even realizing it. A good example was when Peter said he would go so far as to die for Jesus, but Jesus told he will deny Him three times, then telling him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

Notice, Satan “demanded to have” Peter and he may have had every right to demand him, knowing he would deny Jesus…not once, or twice, but three times. I think Satan knew the prophecy that he would “strike the shepherd, and the flock will be scattered” (Zech 26:31). Jesus Himself said, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” (Matt 26:31).

It didn’t matter…Peter still believed he would be willing to die with and for Jesus. In fact, he told the others the same thing, but remember, Satan demanded Peter so he could sift him like wheat, meaning he must have had the ability to do that. We must realize that Peter (like us) is no match for Satan, but that’s just why Jesus prayed for Him.

If Jesus had not prayed for Peter, he would have been putty in Satan’s hands, however, Jesus did pray for him, saying, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” (John 17:20), so Jesus prayed for Peter, but He also prays for us. This shows that Jesus is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).

Paul and Satan
There is a connection between knowledge and pride and it’s a surprising connection too, but in many cases, suffering is to pride what water is to fire…it extinguishes it. Suffering seems to humble us…even those with great knowledge, and Paul knew that, so he said, “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Cor 12:7).

Make no mistake about it; Paul had plenty to be proud about, having been “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (Phil 3:5-6), so clearly, the knowledge that Paul had surpassed all in his day and ours too, I believe. That’s because Paul was actually taught by Jesus Himself and had more revelations than any other human on earth.

That’s why God allowed Satan to be his thorn in the flesh. It would keep him humble, and from becoming conceited. It was like Satan saying to Paul: “Knock, knock…here I am…your constant thorn and your constant reminder that you can’t do anything in your own strength,” and that’s good because “God is opposed to the proud” (James 4:6a). The Greek word used for “opposed” is “antitassom,” which means, “to range at battle with” or “be at war” with, so when pride surfaces in our lives, God is opposed to us. Suffering erodes our pride and that’s good because God cannot use a man or woman greatly until they have first humbled themselves deeply.

Conclusion
Jesus took on Satan Himself, face to face, and yet Jesus conquered Satan by His obedience, by not tempting God, and by sticking to the Word of God. When we are in a spiritual war, we must make sure we’re not aiding the enemy by being filled with pride, having a self-righteous attitude, and letting our head-knowledge puff us up, as knowledge will tend to do.

We must remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). We are no match for Satan and his demons. We must armor up and be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph 6:18a). When you begin to feel a bit proud over what you’ve done or are doing for the Lord, or when you feel like you would even be willing to die for Christ and state it publically, the enemy’s got you just where he wants you. Keep in mind that pride comes…just before the fall. And sometimes that fall is hard and fast.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Tell them.

Some 14 years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our opening session in the theology of faith.

That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. My quick judgment wrote him off as strange – very strange.

Tommy turned out to be my biggest challenge. He constantly objected to or smirked at the possibility of an unconditionally loving God. When he turned in his final exam at the end of the course, he asked in a slightly cynical tone, “Do you think I’ll ever find God?” “No,” I said emphatically. “Oh,” he responded. “I thought that was the product you were pushing.”

I let him get five steps from the door and then called out. “I don’t think you’ll ever find Him, but I am certain He will find you.” Tommy shrugged and left. I felt slightly disappointed that he had missed my clever line.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was grateful for that. Then came a sad report: Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to me. When he walked into my office, his body was badly wasted, and his long hair had fallen out because of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice, for the first time, was firm.

“Tommy! I’ve thought about you so often. I heard you were very sick,” I blurted out.

“Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer. It’s a matter of weeks.”

“Can you talk about it?”

“Sure. What would you like to know?”

“What’s it like to be only 24 and know that you’re dying?”

“It could be worse,” he told me, “like being 50 and thinking that drinking booze, seducing women and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life.”

Then he told me why he had come.

“It was something you said to me on the last day of class. I asked if you thought I would ever find God, and you said no, which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But He will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging against the bronze doors of heaven. But nothing happened. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of my desperate attempts to get some kind of message, I just quit. I decided I didn’t really care about God, an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more important. I thought about you and something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you loved them.’ So I began with the hardest one: my dad.”

Tommy’s father had been reading the newspaper when his son approached him.

“Dad, I would like to talk with you.”

“Well, talk.”

“I mean, it’s really important.”

The newspaper came down three slow inches.

“What is it?”

“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that.”

Tommy smiled at me as he recounted the moment. “The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I couldn’t remember him doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning.

“It was easier with my mother and little brother,” Tommy continued. “They cried with me, and we hugged one another, and shared the things we had been keeping secret for so long. Here I was, in the shadow of death, and I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

“Then one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him. Apparently He does things in His own way and at His own hour. The important thing is that you were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.”

“Tommy,” I added, “could I ask you a favor? Would you come to my theology-of-faith course and tell my students what you told me?”

Though we scheduled a date, he never made it. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of humanity has ever seen or the mind ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. “I’m not going to make it to your class,” he said. “I know, Tommy.”

“Will you tell them for me? Will you . . . tell the whole world for me?”

“I will, Tommy. I’ll tell them.
 
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