Obedience

A Prayer for the New Year (by Matthew Henry)

"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15

Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me...

    health or sickness,
    peace or trouble,
    comforts or crosses,
    life or death--

may His holy will be done!

All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus--and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor--that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

The Under-Discussed Damage of Spiritual Abuse (Part 2)

This is a two part article. See: Part One

Therefore, concerning what is being asked of or expected from us, which approach are we seeing from the particular leadership in question?

This?

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity. Titus 2:7

Or this?

And many will follow after their sensuality, through whom the way of the truth will be maligned. 2 Peter 2:2

The Under-Discussed Damage of Spiritual Abuse (Part 1)

This is a two part article. See: Part Two

When someone mentions the term, "spiritual abuse" today, sexual molestation of a child often comes to mind. We have too many accounts of priests, pastors and Sunday school teachers preying on the children in their care. And yes, sadly, that is spiritual abuse.

But this kind of abuse can also take on a more subtle form as well. Its definition hinges on the manipulation of power enforced by a spiritual authority figure, with the abused party feeling helpless and coerced.

Children, of course, spring to mind as the most vulnerable. But the net spreads wider.

And a heartbreaking reality emerges: loving God does not exclude us from being hurt, even in the seemingly Godly setting of church. We are all susceptible when it comes to spiritual abuse.

"...Many spiritual abuse victims find themselves struggling to make decisions, and may even have a hard time disciplining themselves to do basic everyday functions such as getting out of bed and brushing their teeth. For so long, we allowed the group/leader to think for us, formulate our opinions for us, and make decisions for us. No wonder so many of us struggle for many years learning how to find ourselves again after leaving a spiritually abusive situation..."
"Spiritual Identity Crisis?" www.churchabuse.com
Used with permission.

Are You Cheating Yourself and Others by "Saving?"

“Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” Haggai 1:9

Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses.

Our God has a method in providence by which he can succeed our endeavours beyond our expectation, or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of his hand he can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the liberal and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding tendeth to poverty.

In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have been always the most happy, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the liberal giver rise to wealth of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous churl descend to poverty by the very parsimony by which he thought to rise.

Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; he gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed the Lord makes the little much by the contentment which the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which the tithe has been dedicated to the Lord.

Developing Biblical Financial Skills

“Twenty-five years ago most churches just taught people how to handle 10 percent of their income-the area of giving-and left the other 90 percent un-addressed. As a consequence, many Christians suffer financially because, by default, they adopt our culture’s perspective of handling the rest of their money.” Larry Burkett

Developing Biblical Financial Skills

Skill # 1 EARN

“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to people, no, we command them; settle down and get to work. Earn your own living.” 2 Thess. 3:12 (NLT)

Some practical Principles of Acquisition:

    1. Be diligent
    2. Be ethical
    3. Be wise
    4. Be intentional
    5. Be careful

How Should You "Run?"

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

It's important that, as wise scholars, we not apply every analogy in the Bible literally (as would be unwise), but that we do ferret out the truth that we might apply it to our lives.

Paul says: "one receives the prize." We know that there will be more than one Christian, so this isn't a matter of competing against each other in order to gain heaven. Thankfully, the Lord hasn't created such a system, but rather offers salvation to any and all who will receive Him, who will believe on His name.

What then is the kernel of truth that we should grasp from this passage? "Run in such a way that you may obtain it (the prize)." The point is that there are those who run but don't obtain the prize, those who will live as Christians, but won't persevere to finally end seeing the face of Jesus as Savior (though all will see the face of Jesus as Lord).

So how should one "run," how should one live her life? What does it take to gain the prize?

"I don't want to do this."

Gethsemane: Code For... "I don't want to do this."

We've uttered that statement frequently in our lives.

This time of year, there's a great deal of emphasis on Jesus. As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, we read and remind ourselves just how this whole thing came to be: hope, salvation and reunion with God. It didn't just happen.

And a large part of it depends on Gethsemane.

Yes, Jesus is amazing and loving. But He still had a night of decision. Hours away from being crucified, there was a real moment; He didn't want to do it.

Keeping Things in Focus

I do a lot of long distance driving and there are many things I have learned to keep me alert. It is important for me to realize just how quickly things can go horrifically wrong if I take my eyes off of the road or "zone out" for just a second or two.

Recovery has parallels to that. I can think I am sailing along just fine, been in recovery for years. No problem.....

I start zoning out....

and not paying attention to the details.....

life is good.....

W-H-A-M !!!!!!

Peer Pressure & Sin

In Haggai 2:12-19, God drives home a very telling point to the prophet. If we place an unclean thing together with a clean one, the cleanness of the latter will not rub off onto the former. If I rub my dirty and ink-stained hands on a clean towel, the cleanness of the towel will not rub off onto my hands: rather it is dirt that is transferred, and the towel becomes dirty.

By this means the Lord made clear to Haggai and Judah that sin is contagious, but righteousness is not. We are not Christians simply because we belong to a good church, a good family, or a fine community. Moreover, a good profession of faith does not make us holy or godly.

What happens when we sin?Premium Content

If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.1 John 2:1

From time to time we hear - sometimes even in the secular media - of some prominent Christian who has fallen into scandalous sin. I remember when Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart very publicly got caught in sin, and they were neither the first nor the last people to endure those circumstances. When we see such famous people - famous, at least, in Christian circles - fall into sin, many questions can come into our minds.

Obviously we wonder whether these people are actually Christians - a legitimate question, though we have to be careful not to condemn on partial evidence, for what would someone think of us if he had no more hard facts than we receive through the media? There is also the question of what happens to such people if they are in fact truly regenerate. Sometimes it might seem that a sin is so public, and so egregious, that surely the person involved must have lost his salvation if he ever had it.

Of course to create doctrine based solely on our reason is dangerous - our minds are as fallen as any other part of us, and are as subject to malfunction as our hearts or eyes. We simply don't think clearly in this world - the most brilliant preachers and theologians in history (I think offhand of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and J.I. Packer - with a little work I could extend the list a long way) have not been as brilliant as they would have been had there never been a fall. Every one of us, from little children just born to certified geniuses, suffer from the effects of the fall on our minds. This is one reason why we must always derive our doctrine from the Scriptures, and subject our doctrine to the Book, for there is no human mind capable of infallibly reasoning its way to the truth.

And when we think of the

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