Balance In Life

MARK 6:31 NIV 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Balance is a difficult thing to achieve.

Success usually requires discipline, a large commitment of time, and a lot of hard work.

But sometimes what’s needed is to take a vacation!

Taking a trip is not always necessary, but taking a break from your normal routine is.

You need time to think, and time to listen to what God is saying to you — as well as physical rest. Without taking time to “recharge your batteries” you will never be your best.

People who face relentless responsibilities, such as pastors, mothers of young children, care givers, and owners of small businesses, especially need an occasional break.

(Be creative. It doesn’t have to be expensive.)

We want to lead productive lives and be fruitful in our walk with the Lord, but we cannot take the place of God. We cannot do everything. We are not God.

Burning out is not a good witness for the Lord, as it makes Him look like a hard taskmaster.

Humans require rest. To continue to be healthy and productive for many years, we must live a balanced life which includes rest and taking time off.

Always keep the big picture in mind. That includes eternity.

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All Things Are Possible

MARK 9:23 NKJ 23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

From our early years we are educated in what is impossible.

But progress continues to be made by people who attempt the impossible and achieve it.

Some have said that mankind’s only real obstacle is between our two ears.

We ARE limited by what we believe, according to Jesus.

So, how can we change what we believe? Only by getting new evidence, which is available from the Word of God.

MATTHEW 17:20 NKJ 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

A conventional approach will not achieve the “impossible.” It will require being different from the crowd, who probably won’t understand you or support you. Speaking to things and telling them to move, as Jesus taught, is certainly not conventional.

Acting differently than everyone else can be scary. It’s like getting out of the boat to walk on water. But do you want conventional results?

As you read the Bible and see the instructions God gave us, you will usually find them unconventional. But the person who acts on God’s Word will be blessed.

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What Is Bible Hope?

ROMANS 8:24 NASB 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?

When the word “hope” was used in the New Testament, it meant something different than the word “hope” as we use it today. Today when we use the word “hope” we usually mean something which is only a desire or a wish — not something we are actually expecting.

Most Bible teaching on faith and hope uses this modern meaning of hope, instead of the Bible meaning. And that has made it difficult for us to understand the Bible teaching on hope and faith.

In the New Testament the word hope means “a positive expectation.” It is a positive image of what we actually expect in the future. Hope always deals with the future, never the past.

Because what we hope for is always in the future, that means it cannot be seen yet. Remember, Romans 8:24 says, “hope that is seen is not hope.”

The only way humans can “see” anything that has not yet happened is by using our imagination. So there is no possibility of Bible hope without involving our imagination. To hope, we must use our imagination.

Fear is actually the opposite of Bible hope. Bible hope is a positive expectation based on and supported by a belief in God’s Word. Fear is a negative expectation based on and supported by a belief in something bad. Both involve the imagination, the seeing part of our thinking, the ability to visualize something before it happens.

Faith in God produces Bible hope – expecting good to happen. Faith in bad things produces fear – expecting bad to happen. Faith is the support, the foundation, the underlying thing under both hope and fear.

You cannot have hope (which is a positive vision of what you expect) without faith (which is a choice to believe) in something. You cannot have fear (which is a negative vision of what you expect) without faith (which is a choice to believe) in something bad.

Our beliefs are the foundation, the solid footing which support our hopes or fears, and enable them to exist. So when your beliefs change, your hopes and fears will also change.

All your beliefs are a choice you made at some point in time, allowing them to become part of your belief system, which provides the basis for your hopes or your fears.

Many think Bible faith is an attitude, outlook, or state. But those describe Bible hope. Faith is primarily a decision, based on evidence we judge worthy of being acted upon.

A literal meaning of Hebrews 11:1 is “Faith (in God) is the support for our hoping, a refutation of things, not coming from the senses.” (Hebrews 11:1 does not give a definition of faith, although it seems like it in our English translations. It simply tells us something faith does, which is to give support for our positive expectation of the future.)

So our faith in God undergirds our hope. The foundation upon which our hope rests is faith in God. We expect (and imagine, of necessity) good things to happen because of our faith in God.

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Hang On To Your Confession

Your confession is what you say. The Bible tells you to hang on tight to saying God’s Word.

HEBREWS 10:23 NKJ 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

God has no reason to tell us to hold fast, or hang on tight, to our confession, unless someone, or something, will be trying to get us to turn loose of it — and say something else.

HEBREWS 3:1 NKJ 1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,

HEBREWS 4:14 NKJ 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

Jesus is the High Priest of our confession — what we say. He represents us before God with the words we speak.

The Bible says:

You are righteous in Christ. Romans 3:22

You are forgiven. Colossians 2:13

You are healed. 1 Peter 2:24

You are delivered from the devil. Colossians 1:13

You can do all things through Christ. Philippians 4:13

You are strong in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10

The Greater One is in you. 1 John 4:4

The Lord is guiding you. John 16:13

God is working in you. Philippians 2:13

The Lord is your helper. Hebrews 13:6

Jesus became poor to make you rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

You may wonder why you should say what God says in the Bible about you. First, God is looking for faith, and second, it is the Word planted in your life that will make you free. Speaking God’s Word is a way of planting it in you.

Yes, it can take faith to say what the Bible says about you. Especially when you don’t feel like it and the circumstances don’t agree, either. But we have to choose: will we rely on our feelings, or God’s Word? Do we trust the circumstances more than God’s Word?

But you may say, “What the Word says is just not true in my life.” You are the establishing witness. God has said something about you. Now when you come into agreement with Him, it will become manifest in your life.

MARK 11:23 NKJ 23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.

Jesus told us that we will have whatever we say — if we believe it. It will come to pass. So you see why the devil tries to get us to quit saying God’s Word, which will set us free.

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Do You Want To Be Happy?

What are you waiting for?

Most people are waiting for something — something “special” that will make their life great, so they can be happy.

Ask yourself: have others had this, and are they all happy? No, they’re not, and it won’t give you lasting happiness, either.

Happiness is not determined by external circumstances, but by internal circumstances.

Everyone chooses how happy they are by what they choose to think about.

Your attitude is determined by your perspective, which is determined by what you think about — your focus. You choose your focus, so ultimately, you are the one who chooses whether to be happy, or not.

Perspective is what the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) are about. Seeing a bigger picture than just this one small moment of time. (The Beatitudes are where Jesus explained how some are blessed, or happy — even in difficult situations.)

(The word we translate as “happy” in the New Testament is usually translated as “blessed.”)

You won’t get happiness by chasing what the world has to offer. It has already been tried and found wanting.

And, you will never be happy as long as you are self-centered. A focus on self is guaranteed to prevent happiness.

Right after Jesus performed the menial task of washing his disciple’s feet — akin to cleaning toilets today — He told them:

JOHN 13:15,17 ICB 15 I did this as an example for you. So you should do as I have done for you. 17 If you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.

You will be happy if you help others. If you take your focus off yourself. That’s what Jesus taught.

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The only thing necessary to change heaven into hell — if God were to allow it — is selfishness.

Selfishness is mankind’s fundamental defect. Selfish means: self-centered, self-serving, self-important.

At the root of every problem is selfishness.

JAMES 3:16 TEV 16 Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil.

Every selfish person is potentially your enemy.

All sin is selfish. No one ever sins for someone else — we do it for selfish reasons.

Divine love is the opposite of selfishness. Giving is the opposite of acting selfishly.

We are products of a corrupt culture that teaches selfishness, so it’s not unusual for us to think it’s not so bad.

But you must die to selfishness — or self-destruct. However, you’re unable to change by yourself. You can’t change the fruit without changing the root. That’s why you must be born again! Only by receiving Jesus Christ and letting Him change you inwardly can you become a truly unselfish person.

No other “religion” teaches putting others first even to the point of loving your enemies. Only Christianity teaches you can be totally changed and become a person with a new nature. There is no cure apart from Jesus!

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When You Stand Praying Forgive

MARK 11:25 NKJ 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a choice — not a feeling. Your feelings may not change while you are praying, but you can choose to forgive at any time. It does not take long to make a choice.

How long does it take to forgive? How long can you stand and pray?

Jesus never said anything about the person deserving forgiveness. Nor did He say to forgive only after they asked for forgiveness.

Anytime you talk to God, Jesus said to forgive if you had anything against anyone. That would include people who hurt you without even realizing they hurt you. Even people who were still trying to hurt you. “Anyone” in this verse includes everyone, no matter what their attitude may be.

Why should you forgive them? Not because they deserve it. But because of the harm it will cause you if you don’t forgive. Unforgiveness acts like a poison inside you. The reason you are to forgive others is because God has forgiven you, and He asks you to forgive them.

Jesus indicates there is something about us refusing to forgive others that hinders our relationship with God and the free flow of blessings God desires for us to receive.

I understand that forgiving someone who horribly wronged you is not easy, especially if they are not even sorry for what they did. But Jesus makes it clear that you have no real option. You MUST forgive if you want God’s forgiveness. I need not tell you how vital that is.

If Jesus appeared to you right now and asked you face-to-face to forgive someone who hurt you — would you do it for Him? We should respect Jesus’ Word just as much as we would respond to Jesus appearing to us face-to-face.

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Salvation Is A Completely Free Gift

EPHESIANS 2:8-9 NLT 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

If salvation is based on our performance — on what we do — then it is not by grace. Our salvation is based on what Jesus Christ did. Our part is simply to receive the gift!

ROMANS 4:1-4 NLT 1 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? 2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. 3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 4 When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned.

Salvation cannot be a free gift and also be something we must earn. Either we earn it, or it is a gift. It cannot be a mixture of the two.

If you claim to give me a gift, but you ask me for any payment — no matter how small — then it is not a gift but something I am buying for a reduced price. Buying something on sale does not make it a gift. If there is any payment involved, by definition, it is not a gift.

ROMANS 11:6 NASB 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Today, just as in Bible times, there are those who teach that being right with God can only be achieved by keeping their list of rules. But this is not the true teaching of the New Covenant.

ACTS 15:5,10-11 NLT 5 But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.” 10 So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? 11 We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

ROMANS 4:14,16 NLT 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

TITUS 3:5 NLT 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Those who present a plan of salvation based on your performance are not rightly dividing the Word. Yes, many Scriptures give instruction on what we are to do. But they are instructions for how to live, not how to be saved and enter the family of God.

Will there be rewards and consequences for our actions? Yes! Scripture makes that clear. But our entrance into God’s family and our home in Heaven is not based on our performance, but on our faith in what Jesus performed.

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The Inner Witness

COLOSSIANS 3:15 AMPLIFIED 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

God has revealed His will to us in many areas through His written Word, the Bible. But there are many things the Bible does not specifically tell us, such as what person to marry, what job to do, or where to live. (While the Bible gives us some principles, it does not tell us individually and specifically what to do in these types of things.) But God has made provision to guide us in these areas of life also.

The peace of God is the umpire to determine our direction.

Understanding the “peace of God” (which I also identify as the “inner witness”) can sometimes seem difficult. Inexperienced believers can mistake feeling good or comfortable in their flesh for the inner witness. But, just like everything in life, we learn, even when we make a mistake.

While this may be open to misunderstanding and abuse, it’s what Scripture teaches. God desires a growing relationship with us, and obviously is not too concerned about us never making a mistake while we grow spiritually and learn by experience how to better discern the “inner witness.”

We are not talking about having “peace” in your flesh, but an “inner” peace deep within your spirit. It is not fleeting, but grows stronger the more we draw near to God by spending time focused on Him and His Word.

Normally, with the inner witness, thoughts will just come to you. But thoughts can come from sources other than God. We need a way to judge which thoughts are from God and which ones are not.

There are two criteria by which we can determine whether a thought is from God. The first is a knowledge of the written Word of God, the Bible. God will never lead us contrary to His written Word.

The second criteria is the inner witness.

ROMANS 2:15 NKJ 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)

How can you determine the inner witness?

First, it is important to realize that it is not usually a voice, but a witness. Some words to define it are intuition, impression, idea, hunch, knowing, or peace.

The inner witness is something we learn to recognize better as we grow in our relationship with the Lord. It is best to learn on things that are not life-and-death issues. God is interested in every detail of our lives and will help us in everything. He will even lead us in things we would consider small things, such as locating misplaced objects.

The inner witness (along with Scripture) is also how God confirms the most important thing in this life: knowing we are a child of God.

ROMANS 8:16 NKJ 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

To be sensitive to the Lord’s leading, we must look to the Lord and spend time focused on Him. Prayer, praise, giving thanks, and acknowledging God in all our ways are part of it. The better we know the Lord, both through His Word, and through walking with Him, the easier it will be for us to discern the inner witness of the Spirit, and know God’s will for us.

We must walk in the light we have, and make our decisions prayerfully and humbly, always being ready to change and admit we were wrong.

God promises that if any of us lack wisdom, we can ask Him and He will give it to us (James 1:5).

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The New Testament Message

Mankind has a fatal defect, which manifests as selfishness.

There is a cure — but only one which is effective permanently.

The cure requires injection of new life into your inner being. This life is called eternal life, because it is the life that God, the Eternal One, has.

The cure is free, but the only way to obtain it is to receive and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.

Freedom from this defect requires two things. First, the gift of eternal life, which can be obtained now by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, knowing that God loves you greatly — even more than you love yourself.

Therefore, you no longer have to live a self-centered life, worrying about and seeking your own welfare — because you know that God Himself watches out for you.

God will protect you and provide for you — not just enough to barely make it — but an abundant, joy-filled life.

All people who reject this freely offered cure, must soon be placed in quarantine, to be kept from spoiling life for those who do partake of God’s cure.

To receive Jesus and His new life, you basically do it the same way you get married. You say: I want to, and I do.

Jesus is listening now, waiting for your decision. He loves you enough to die for you.

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