Trinity of God

TRINITY OF GOD

 

DEFINITION:  The Bible reveals that God is one, with three distinct natures, each with different functions.  This concept is known as the Trinity of God–meaning three distinct persons, yet a single being who is one.

FACTS ABOUT THE TRINITY OF GOD:

God has a triune nature.  This means He has three distinct personalities–God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  The three are one God, with different functions (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Scriptures that verify the triune nature of God.  John the Baptist speaks of it at the time of the baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:16-17). Prior to returning to God and Heaven, Jesus spoke of sending the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).  The Apostle Peter spoke of the triune nature of God (1 Peter 4:14), as did the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:2-3; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18). The book of Acts also verifies the triune nature of God (Acts 2:33).

A natural example that best illustrates the Trinity of God is an egg which is composed of the shell, the white, and the yolk.  Each have different functions:  The shell can be decorated. The white whipped into meringue topping, the yolk can be hard-boiled–but it is still one egg.

The Trinity of God is eternal.  This means God has no beginning or end (Psalm 90:1-2). The eternal nature of God is best illustrated by a circle.  A perfect circle has no visible starting point or ending point, yet it exists.

The Trinity of God is a spirit. This means God is without flesh and blood and therefore invisible to the natural eyes of man (John 4:24).

The Trinity of God is the sovereign, almighty power over all the universe  (Ephesians l and Romans 9).

The Trinity of God is omnipresent, meaning God is present everywhere (2 Chronicles 16:9; Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 139:7-8; Isaiah 66:1).

The Trinity of God is omniscient, meaning He knows all things (Psalm 139:4; 1 John 3:20; Hebrews 4:13).

The Trinity of God is omnipotent, meaning He is all powerful (Genesis 17:1; Matthew 19:26; Revelation 19:6; Psalm 62:11).

The Trinity of God does not change.  He does not change His basic nature, person,  or purpose (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).

The Trinity of God is holy.  He is sinless and never sinned  (Leviticus 19:2).

The Trinity of God is just, meaning He is fair and impartial in judgment (Deuteronomy 32:4).

The Trinity of God is faithful.  He keeps His promises and is absolutely trustworthy (2 Timothy 2:13).

The Trinity of God is benevolent. He is good, kind, and desires your welfare (Psalms 145:9).

The Trinity of God is merciful.  He shows mercy to sinful mankind (Exodus 34:6-7).

The Trinity of God is gracious.  He shows undeserved kindness to sinful man  (Psalms 145:8).

The Trinity of God is love.  He extends His love to you and through you (1 John 4:8).

The Trinity of God is wise.  God shows understanding and keen discernment. He created the world by His wisdom (Proverbs 3:19).

The Trinity of God is infinite.  He is not subject to natural and human limitations or the limitations of space or time (1 Kings 8:27; Exodus 15:18).

DEALING WITH  THE TRINITY OF GOD:

Accept and acknowledge the work of the Trinity in your life.  God the Father wants you to accept Jesus Christ, His Son, as your Savior.  When you do this, your sins are forgiven and you are given eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit of God.

Study more about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They all have additional names in scripture, and numerous functions.  Study more about these in the Harvestime International Network publications “Spiritual Strategies:  A Manual Of Spiritual Warfare” and “The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit” available at http://www.harvestime.org

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT THE TRINITY OF GOD:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image…”  (Genesis 1:26)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  (Deuteronomy 6:4)

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  (John 3:16-18)

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me,  but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:25-30)

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:16-20)

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” (John 15:26)

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.  Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.  (Acts 2:32-33)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,    in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  (2 Corinthians 13:14)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,  and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

(Ephesians 2:14-18)

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  (1 John 4:13-16)

 

Trials, Troubles, and Adversities

TRIALS, TROUBLES, ADVERSITIES

 

DEFINITION A trial is an examination by testing. Biblically, it is a test of faith in which you experience trouble or adversity.  Trouble is sometimes referred to as “tribulation” in the Bible.  Adversity is similar to trouble, meaning extremely unfavorable experiences.

FACTS ABOUT TRIALS, TROUBLES, AND ADVERSITIES:

A trial is not a temptation.  A temptation is something that entices you to sin (see the topic of “Temptation” in this database).  A trial is an adversity you are experiencing that tests your faith.

Trials, troubles, and adversities are experienced by all believers.  In fact, the apostles taught believers that they would only enter the Kingdom of God through adversity (Acts 14:22).  Peter said not to consider it strange or unusual when you encounter trouble (1 Peter 4:12).

God uses both positive and negative experiences for your good.  Joseph told his  brothers:  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).  The Apostle Paul declared:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

 DEALING WITH  TRIALS, TROUBLES, AND ADVERSITIES:

Expect to experience adversity.  Peter said not to be surprised by  it (1 Peter 4:12-16).  The apostles taught the early church that it was to be experienced as part of living in the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

Pray about your trials, troubles and adversities.  The Bible says that God has promised to hear before you call and even while you are yet speaking  (Isaiah 65:24).   Confess your total dependence on Him.   Instead of asking “What am I going to do in this adversity?” ask God, “What are You going to do?”

Immerse yourself in the Word of God.  The Bible brings comfort and direction during trials, troubles, and adversities.

Use your spiritual weapons.  Trials, troubles, and adverse circumstances must be faced with your spiritual weapons.  Study Ephesians 6:10-18.  See also “Spiritual Warfare” in this database.

Remember that good things comes from God.  If something comes to rob, steal, or destroy in your life, do not blame God.  It is from the enemy.  Jesus said:  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).   James said:  “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).

Remember that there is divine purpose in adversity.  Your faith is being refined (1 Peter 1:6-7)  and spiritual qualities are being developed in your life:  “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope”  (Romans 5:3-4).

Focus on eternal benefits.  The Bible indicates that trials actually work for you when you are focused on the eternal benefits of the trials instead of the temporary problems: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Rejoice in times of adversity.  The Bible commands you to rejoice and give thanks to God in times of adversity.   You may not feel like doing this, but do it as an act of your will    (See 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12-17).  You do not give thanks for the adversity, but in the midst of and in spite of it.

Remember these six “p”s of adversity.

  • Purpose:  God has divine purpose in your trial.
  • Profitable:  Your trial is profitable if you submit to God and trust Him.
  • Presence:  God will be with you in your trials.
  • Prove:  Your faith will be proven by the difficulties.
  • Produce:  Your trial will produce positive spiritual qualities in your life.
  • Perspective:  You will emerge with a new perspective.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT TRIALS, TROUBLES, AND ADVERSITIES:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.  (2 Chronicles 15:4)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:9)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. (Psalm 22:11)

The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. (Psalm 25:17)

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.  You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. (Psalm 31:8)

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.  (Psalm 34:6)

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:17-19)

May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion. (Psalm 35:26)

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

because they take refuge in him. (Psalm  37:39-40)

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. (Psalm 40:12)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

…call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.  (Psalm 50:15)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  (Psalms 59:16)

Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.  (Psalm 69:17)

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.  (Psalm 86:7)

He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (Psalms 91:15)

Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. (Psalms 102:2)

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless.  With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (Psalms 108:12-13)

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.  (Psalm 119:143)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands. (Psalms 138:7-8)

I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.  (Psalm 142:2)

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. (Psalms 143:11)

If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! (Proverbs 24:10)

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand  and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  (Isaiah 41:13)

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)

… no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. (Isaiah 54:17)

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.  (Isaiah 65:24)

The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,  strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.  (Acts 14:22)

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  (Romans 5:3-4).

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

… that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. (1 Thessalonians 3:3, NKJV)

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:16-17).

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. (James 5:13)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Peter 4:12-17)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  (1 Peter 5:7-10)

Study the story of Job–especially chapters 1-2 and chapter 42–to understand more about the purpose of trials.

Tithes and Offerings

 TITHES AND OFFERINGS

 

DEFINITIONThe biblical definition of tithing is setting aside for the work of the Lord a tenth of all one earns or receives.  Offerings are special gifts above the tithe that are given to the work of the Lord.

FACTS ABOUT TITHES AND OFFERINGS:

The first record of tithing was when Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20).

Tithing was not just done under Old Testament law.  Abraham’s tithing was done more than 400 years before the law was given.  New Testament believers also tithed and gave offerings from their income  (1 Corinthians 16:2.  See also Luke 18:12-13).

Tithes and offerings are important to God.  If a person fails to tithe, it is considered robbing God:  “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’  In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8.).

You can borrow from the tithe, but if you do you must include 20% interest when you repay it (Leviticus 27:31).

God blesses those who tithe.  Those who do not tithe are under a curse:  “You are under a curse–the whole nation of you–because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”  (Malachi 3:9-10).

DEALING WITH  TITHES AND OFFERINGS:

Ask God to forgive you if you have not been tithing.  The prophet admonished the people to consider their ways, repent, and renew their covenant of tithing with the Lord (Haggai 1:5-11).

Set aside 10% of all you earn to give to the work of the Lord.  Do this first before you pay any bills or spend money on anything else.  In some cultures, as in Old Testament times, people tithe off of the produce of their land when there is no monetary exchange operative.

Set aside funds above your tithe to give as offerings to special works:  Missions, the poor, specialized ministries, etc.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT TITHES AND OFFERINGS:

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.  If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it.  (Leviticus 27:30-31)

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;  then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.  (Proverbs 3:9-10)

Consider your ways (and set your mind on what has come to you).  Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways (and set your mind on what has come to you). You have sown much, but you have reaped little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have your fill, you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages has earned them to put them in a bag with holes in it…You looked for much (harvest), and it came to little; and even when you brought that home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of My house which lies waste, while you yourselves run each man to his own house (eager to build and adorn it). Therefore the heavens above you (for your sake) withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its produce. And I have called for a drought upon the land and the hill country, upon the grain, the fresh fruit juice, the oil, upon what the ground brings forth, upon men and cattle, and upon all the (wearisome) toil of men’s hands. (Haggai 1:5-6, 9-11, AMP)

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty.  (Haggai 2:8)

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse–the whole nation of you–because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  (Malachi 3:8-10)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  (Luke 6:38)

…The Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…(1 Corinthians 16:2)

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work  (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

(See also “Finances” in this database.  For detailed teaching regarding finances obtain the Harvestime International Network publication entitled “Divine Provision” available at http://www.harvestime.org)

Time

TIME

 

DEFINITIONTime is a limited period during which actions, processes, or conditions exist or take place.  It is a measure of the duration of events and the intervals between them.  Time encompasses the past, present, and future–and for the believer this includes eternity.

FACTS ABOUT TIME:

Time is a gift from God.  You are a steward of  this gift from God and accountable for how you use it each day. Time is a precious and limited commodity.

The biblical day was from evening to morning.  People began the day in weakness (tired in the evening) confessing their reliance upon God.  Conversely, we begin or day in the morning relying on our energetic selves.

Your activities reveal your priorities.  You only have so much time.  What you do with your time reveals your priorities.  You usually make time for what you really want to do.

A balanced day includes communing with the Heavenly Father in prayer, worship, and the Word; working on your job, at school, or in volunteer work; time spent building relationships with friends and family; and finally, some time spent relaxing.

DEALING WITH TIME:

Commit each day to the Lord.  Begin with prayer and the Word and by asking God, “What are your priorities for me today?  What do you want me to do with my time today?”  If you commit your day to the Lord, a plan will emerge and your tasks for the day will be established (Proverbs 16:3).

Make a plan.  Under the guidance of the Lord, make a plan for your day and jot down the details.  Who do you need to contact?  What do you need to do today?  What can you delegate to others to do?  What tasks can be postponed?   What is the main priority for this day?  If you “aim at nothing, you hit it every time”.  With no plan for a day,  you probably won’t accomplish much.

Submit your plans to God’s sovereignty.  His will is sovereign over your plans.  Your day may not turn out exactly as you planned  (James 4:13-15).  Be open to redirection.

Deal with interruptions wisely.  Make “faith statements” regarding your plans for the day, but be aware that your day can be interrupted by unexpected events or people.  Learn to deal with these wisely.  Sometimes interruptions are God’s divine appointments where His plan overrules the plans you have made (Proverbs 16:9).  Accept these graciously and fulfill the obligations involved.  However, do not allow petty interruptions to keep you from accomplishing what is worthwhile–for example people that want to aimlessly chat with you during your work time.

View each day in light of eternity“So often we think about life in terms of what’s happening today, this week, or next month.  We need to try to look at things as God does, with an eye for eternity.  Is what you are doing now making a lasting impact?  Will it matter in another year, another decade, another century?  Begin dedicating yourself to things that will still be important long after you are gone.”  (John Maxwell)

Do not procrastinate.  Do not put off doing important things that contribute to God’s purpose for your life.  “I find myself thinking, ‘When life settles down I will…’  But I should have learned by now that life never settles down for long.  Whatever I want to accomplish, I must do with life unsettled.”  (Jean Fleming)

Balance your day.  Commune with the Heavenly Father in prayer, worship, and the Word.  Work on your job–including school or volunteer work.  Spend time building relationships with friends and family, and finally, spend some time relaxing.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT TIME:

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.  My times are in your hands.”  (Psalm 31:14-15a)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.  (Psalm 32:8)

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm;  though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  (Psalm 37:23)

You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.

Each man’s life is but a breath. (Psalm 39:5-6)

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (Psalm 90:12)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  (Psalm 143:8)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.    (Proverbs 3:5-6)

When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. (Proverbs 4:12)

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.   (Proverbs 6:10-11)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.  (Proverbs 16:3)

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing. (Proverbs 20:4)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.  (Jeremiah 10:23)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.  (John 9:4)

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

Study the story of the talents in Matthew 25.  Time is like one of these talents, a resource with which God has entrusted you.  What will you do with it?

Temptation

TEMPTATION

 

DEFINITIONBiblically, temptation is a physical and/or mental desire to sin–a deep craving for something that is contrary to the Word of God.

FACTS ABOUT TEMPTATION:

God does not tempt you.  You are tempted when you are drawn away by your own carnal desires.  “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15). The process of temptation is desire, conception, birth, sin, and death.

The battle with temptation begins in your mind.  It starts with desire which conceives evil and gives birth to sin.

Temptation arises from three major sources. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

Everyone experiences temptation.  No one is exempt. Even Jesus, when He was in the flesh, experienced temptation, but He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Temptation is not sin.  Being tempted is not sin, but yielding and acting upon it is sin.

One purpose of temptation is to glorify God.  “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).

There is always a way of escape.  You do not have to yield to temptation.   In every temptation, God provides a way of escape  (1 Corinthians 10:13).

DEALING WITH  TEMPTATION:

If you have yielded to temptation, repent.    Temptation is sin only when it is acted upon.  If you have sinned by acting upon temptation, you must repent (1 John 1:8-9).

Avoid places of temptation.  Do not go places where you are tempted to sin.  Be careful about what you hear and see, as the ear-gate and eye-gate are how temptation often gains access to your life. Do not associate with people who tend to lead you in to temptation.

Pray the daily prayer which appeals to God to “lead us not into temptation”  (Matthew 6:13).

Reprogram your mind. Temptation starts with desire, then sin is conceived and birthed.  Stop tempting thoughts the minute they enter your mind before sin is conceived and birthed.  Rebuke the thoughts and tell them to go in the name of Jesus!

Read the Bible and pray.  Prayer and Bible study are essential to living a life of victory over temptation.  Jesus said to be prayerful, lest you enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41).  David declared that he hid God’s Word in his heart to keep him from sin (Psalm 119:11).

Meet temptation with the Word of God.  Study the temptation of Jesus recorded in Matthew 4:1-11.  He met every temptation with the Word of God.  You can do likewise.

Use the escape hatch.  The Bible says that in every temptation there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).   Look for the escape hatch and use it!  Readjust your thoughts.  Walk away from the errant group or the sinful pleasure.  Remove yourself from temptation.  Look for the way out, and take it!   Escaping temptation may be immediate or a process, but there is always a way out.

 

WHAT GOD’ WORD SAYS ABOUT TEMPTATION:

I have hidden your word in my heart  that I might not sin against you.  (Psalm 119:11)

Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  (Matthew 6:13)

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

And lead us not into temptation. (Luke 11:4)

When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:40, NKJV)

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  (Romans 6:6-18)

For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:2, TLB)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:1-2)

If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  (Ephesians 6:11-18)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:2-3)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one].  (2 Thessalonians 3:3, AMP)

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  (Hebrews 2:18)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.   (James 1:13-15)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”   (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  (1 Peter 5:8-10)

Now if [all these things are true, then be sure] the Lord knows how to rescue the godly out of temptations and trials, and how to keep the ungodly under chastisement until the day of judgment and doom,  (2 Peter 2:9, AMP)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Suicide

SUICIDE

 

(Note:  If you are ministering in a telephone counseling center and someone calls who is threatening suicide, a life depends on your actions.  First, get their name and location.   Keep them on the line while another person dials to dispatch emergency response personal to their location. The person calling for emergency assistance should relay the exact location and the nature of the emergency–suicide in progress, threats of suicide, etc. Keep the caller talking with you, listening and encouraging them.  Do not panic.  Take control, believing that the Holy Spirit will speak through you. Tell the caller that you will remain on the line until the emergency workers arrive at the location.  The primary objective is to prevent the suicide.  Prayer and biblical counseling can follow.  The type of counseling that asks “What do you think you should do about this problem” is not appropriate.  You already know what they think. They believe the answer is death!  Take authority on the basis of the Word of God and show them suicide is not the answer, but that God has an answer.  Minister hope for the future.) 

DEFINITIONSuicide is when a person chooses to end their own life and deliberately kills themselves.  Assisted suicide is when you help someone commit suicide.

FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE:

Suicide destroys, so we know the thought of it and acting upon are not from God.  John 10:10 confirms that it is the enemy who kills, steals, and destroys.

People consider suicide when their problems or sins seem greater than their coping mechanisms.  That is why salvation through the blood of Jesus is so important.  He forgives and bears your sin, grief, and pain so that you no longer have to cope with these feelings alone

Suicide attempts are usually a result of emotional issues.  A great loss or tragedy can trigger suicidal thoughts–death of a loved one, loss of a business, finances, or a significant relationship, and chronic health problems are examples.  Depression and unstable mental conditions also result in suicidal thoughts or attempts.  Anger at others can cause thoughts of suicide to “show them” and make those who have wronged them feel guilty.

How does someone get to the point of suicide?  Everyone goes through periods in their lives when they feel down. In time, the feelings usually depart and life goes on. But sometimes,  difficult situations lead to feelings of depression, guilt, shame, and unhappiness that do not go away.   Life becomes a great struggle filled with gloom, despair, emptiness, and hopelessness. Eventually, a person feels there is nothing to live for and seeks a way out of his pain.

Assisted suicide is sometimes requested by people who want to die because of a devastating illness.  They ask someone to help them or a doctor to provide lethal  medications.    Some governments have made laws against this, while others endorse it as a way to “die with dignity”.  This practice is also called “euthanasia”.  But it is God who gives life (Job 33:4) and He who has numbered our days (Job 14:5).  Hebrews 9:27 indicates that the time of one’s death is appointed.   When you decide to end your own life for any reason, you are arrogantly saying you know better than God.    There is nothing in the Bible that says we have to keep someone alive for as long as possible, however.  If someone is terminally ill and in great pain, they should be made as comfortable as possible and comforted by the Word of God and prayer.  The same God that sustained you in life, will sustain you in death.     (Note: Having an order of “do not resuscitate–DNR”  is not suicide or assisted suicide, nor is disconnecting life support when someone has been declared brain dead.  In cases of terminal illness, mental disorders, and advanced age, such orders are merely expressing a desire for doctors not to intervene in the natural process of dying or to be kept alive artificially.  God is greater than any DNR order or any disconnect of life support systems.  He can still intervene and supernaturally restore life.

Suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness.  The person committing suicide is thinking only of himself and what he perceives to be an end to his problems.  He does not think about the mental and emotional pain and possible financial hardships he will cause in the lives of friends and relatives who are left behind.  Suicide is a waste of the gift of life that God intended be used for His glory.  It is a frightening finality that results from unresolved hopelessness, despair, and tragedy.

Attempted suicide is a cry for help.  Suicide is an act taken by one who actually wants to die, but futile attempts at it are cries for help.  Take them seriously.

Suicide is not a problem of a specific class of people.  Educated and uneducated, rich and poor, young and old–all are affected by it.  The tendency towards suicide cannot be inherited and does not run in families.  It can, however, be a learned behavior, i.e., a person considers it because their parent dealt with their problems by ending it all.

Symptoms of suicide can include hinting about it, making a threat, actual attempts, and not rebounding properly after a significant loss or tragedy.  Isolation, abandoning previous interests, and giving away cherished possessions are also signs.  Increase in drug and alcohol use, depression, and hopelessness are other symptoms that a person is considering suicide. Sometimes, however, a person who has been extremely depressed seems to be happier than they have been for some time. Often, this is  mistaken as a sign that the person is getting better and no longer suicidal.  In truth,  their seeming happiness is resulting from having made a decision to commit suicide and knowing there will be an end to their problems.

Suicide is murder, and murder is sin.  It is spiritually and morally wrong for a person to rebelliously decide they have the right to end their own life by murdering themselves. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you must respect  that (1 Corinthians 6:19).   Assisted suicide–where you help someone commit this act–is also sin.  You are aiding in the death of a human being, and according to the Bible murder is sin.  In many nations, the law views this as a crime and there will be legal ramifications.

Suicide is not an unpardonable sin.  Just as murder can be forgiven, suicide is not the unpardonable sin.  God is merciful and He knows our weaknesses.  If a believer had just told a lie and then dropped dead,  would he be eternally lost?   No.   Thus, God’s grace can forgive

suicide by a professing believer–someone who loses hope and in a moment of anguish makes a terrible decision.  There is nothing in the Bible that specifically addresses whether someone who commits suicide is eternally lost, but we know that salvation is not by works–it is by grace.  And nothing can separate you from the love of God.

Believers are not immune from suicide.  We live in a fallen world, and Christians suffer great losses and tragedies just as unbelievers do.  Sometimes a believer may be so emotionally fragile that they cannot deal with their problems and they consider suicide as a way out.  We cannot understand the depth of someone else’s suffering or the tragic reasons that could drive someone to commit this act. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart.

People sometimes refer to the Old Testament character, Samson, and claim that he committed suicide, but that is not true.  Samson sacrificed his life to free his nation from a powerful and evil enemy.  It would be similar to jumping in front of a speeding car to save the life of your child.  That is sacrifice, not suicide (Judges 16).  This is why Samson is  listed as a hero in the Bible=s record of faithful men and women (Hebrews 11:32).  Suicides in the Bible were committed by sinful men acting in desperation and disgrace.  They included Abimelech (Judges 9:54); Saul and his armor bearer (1 Samuel 31:3-6); Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23);  Zimri (1 Kings 16:18); and Judas (Matthew 27:5).

DEALING WITH  SUICIDE:

If you do not know God, become a believer.  Although believers are sometime tempted with suicidal thoughts, most often a suicide spirit manifests itself in unbelievers.  Becoming a believer in Jesus Christ will make you a new creature in Christ and give you hope for the future.  As a child of God, you will have God working in your behalf in difficult times.  If you have never made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you can do that right now and take the first step toward a new life. Simply pray this prayer and mean it in your heart:  “Lord Jesus, I ask you to come into my life. I want to turn from living my life under my own control. Come now and live your life in me. Jesus, forgive me for my sins. I receive you as my Lord and my Savior. I will live for you and serve you all the days of my life. Amen”.

Determine what is causing thoughts of suicide.  Is it a recent loss?  Is it a health issue?  Is it depression in general?  Deal with the root causes in prayer. People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Jesus Christ bore your pain–as well as your sins–on the cross, so why are you bearing your own pain?  Ask God to heal your pain.  Do not minimize the issues that are causing your thoughts of suicide.  Acknowledge and deal with them in the name of Jesus.

Share your feelings with your spiritual leader.  Christian leaders can provide guidance, prayer, and encouragement through this difficult time.

Rebuke the spirit of suicide from operating.  Suicide is a Satanic spirit that would take your life!   Don’t let it!  Rebuke every thought of it in the name of Jesus.

Know that no matter how dark things seem at the time, there is hope in the future.  Things will get better.  You will come through this dark time of your life.  God did not promise that you won’t have problems, but He gives you the ability to face challenges through His supernatural power.

Formulate a plan for the future.  With the help of a biblical counselor or Christian friend, make plans for the future.  Your plan should include Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.  It should also include steps to deal with issues that have contributed to the thoughts of suicide.  A plan will give you hope for the future.

Read the following passages and make them your declarations of faith: Psalm 23; Psalm 28:7; Isaiah 43:2; Romans 8:28; and Philippians 4:13.

Start a gratitude journal.  Each day, write down something for which you are grateful.  This  will keep you focused on the positive things in your life instead of the negative.

If you are a relative or friend of someone who has committed suicide, take solace in the Word of God, prayer, and comfort of Christian friends.  Do not withdraw from others.  Release your anger and disappointment at the person for this act, and believe that God was merciful to him/her in their desperate time of need.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT SUICIDE:

You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13)

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years… (Deuteronomy 30:15)

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart  and wait for the Lord.  (Psalm 27:13-14)

Read Psalm 73 where the Psalmist expressed his despair, but ends by expressing his trust in the Lord.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.  The Lord will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands.  (Psalm 138:7-8)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

(Ezekiel 18:32)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  (Luke 18:1)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Suffering

SUFFERING

(Adversities, Disasters and Tragedies)

 

DEFINITION:  Suffering is pain that is experienced physically, mentally, or emotionally.  It is distress that results from physical affliction, psychological and emotional troubles, loss, adversities, and tragedies.

FACTS ABOUT SUFFERING:

Suffering entered the world because of sin.  From the time of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17-18), evil entered the world and suffering has been part of its tragic manifestations.

Suffering is not always due to personal sin.  While it is true that you can suffer from the consequences of personal sin, all suffering is not caused by personal sin. That is one of the key revelations of the book of Job.

The ways suffering comes into the life of a believer include the following:

-Persecution:  Some suffering comes through persecution because of a person’s faith in God or their ministry.  Saul pursued David because of his calling as king (1 Samuel 23).  Haman attempted to annihilate the Jewish race (Esther 3:5-6).  Daniel and his three friends suffered for their faith (Daniel 3:6).  The Apostle Paul suffered intensely during his ministry  (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  History records that many of the disciples of Christ died as martyrs.

-Consequences:  Some suffering comes through consequences of not listening to good advice or rejecting the Word of the Lord.  An analogy of this is found in the parable of the foolish man who built his house on sand and then had it collapse in the storm  (Matthew 7:26-27).  A modern-day example would be building your house in a known flood zone and suffering flooding because of your poor decision.

-Others:  Sometimes you suffer because of those around you who create circumstances that cause difficulties for you.  The relationship between Abraham and Lot is a good example.  Abraham was constantly having problems because of Lot’s poor decisions (Genesis 12-14).

-Judgment:  God judges personal sin.  Cain suffered for the murder of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:13-14).  Joab was executed for killing two innocent men (1 Kings 2:32).  God judged Adoni-Bezek for his inhumane treatment of enemy kings (Judges 1:7).

-Discipline:  The purpose of discipline is to correct sin and restore a believer to right relationship with God.  Nathan confronting David’s sin and its subsequent judgment caused him to repent of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11-12; Psalm 51).

-Ministry:  Adversity prepares you to fulfill God’s purposes and sometimes results from your ministry.  Joseph suffered as a slave and a prisoner in order that the entire world could be saved from a great famine (Genesis 50:20).  Jesus suffered and died so that the world could be saved from sin.  The disciples were persecuted, imprisoned, and martyred for their ministries.

-Circumstances of life:  Natural circumstances of life like tornados, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., can cause undeserved suffering.

-Satanic attack:  Job chapters 1-2 illustrate how Satanic attack can be a cause of undeserved suffering.

Three important things to remember about suffering.

-There is a spiritual reason behind the suffering of the righteous: Job l:6-l2; 2:l-6.

-Satan cannot afflict a believer without the permission of God:  Job l:6-l2; 2:l-6.

-God knows how much you can bear and will not let Satan go beyond this point: 1 Corinthians l0:l3.

Suffering takes many forms.  It includes physical pain and the grief and sorrow caused by  losses in life.  Mental suffering can be caused by  negative emotions like guilt, shame, remorse, anger, and unforgiveness.  Suffering can also be manifested through depression and oppression caused by the enemy.

The normal responses to suffering include  grief and sorrow which are intense emotional reactions to  tragedy, suffering,  and bereavement.

The call of Jesus to His followers was one of denial and suffering.  See Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21; Luke 9:23; 14:27  In each of these verses, Jesus calls His followers to deny themselves, take up their cross of suffering, and follow Him.

Suffering always has divine purpose.  “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).   You learn that testing strengthens your character (James 1:2-3) and refines positive qualities in your life (Job 23:10).  The writer of Hebrews says that trials and chastening prove that you are God’s child (Hebrews 12:6-8).

Here are some positive benefits of suffering.

Your faith is tested:  Everything in the spiritual world is based on faith.  This is why the strength of your faith must be tested through trials (1 Peter 1:7).

You are able to comfort others:   When you are comforted during trials, you learn how to extend that same comfort to others. ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

You learn not to trust your own self:  Paul spoke of the purpose of his sufferings in Asia, explaining that through them he learned not to trust in himself (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Positive qualities are developedQualities that conform you into the image of Christ are developed through suffering (1 Peter 5:10, Romans 8:28-29; Hebrews 2:10,18).

The works of God are manifested:  When the disciples saw a man who had been blind from birth, they asked who was responsible for his condition.  Was it the sin of his parents or those of the man himself?  Jesus said that the man was suffering so that the works of God could be manifested in him  (John 9:3).

The power of God is perfected:  God’s power is perfect despite your weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).

That which is unstable is removedSuffering results in all that is unstable being shaken out of your life.  You cease to depend on people, programs, or material things because these all fail in your time of need   (Hebrews 12:26-27).  During the storms of life, everything crumbles that is not built upon God and His Word  (Psalm 119:89 and Matthew 7:24-27).

Your focus is changed:  When you experience suffering, you often focus your attention on cause and effect. You are concerned with what caused the difficult circumstances and the terrible effect it is having in your life.  In suffering, God changes your focus from the temporal to the eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18; 1 Peter 4:12-13; 2 Timothy 2:12).

God prepares you for ministryYou want to be used by God, you desire to be more like Jesus, and to be a chosen vessel for His use. God answers your prayer through suffering because He chooses His ministers in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10).

You are prepared to reign with Christ: The Bible says if you suffer with Him, you will also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).

You receive spiritual blessings:  Jesus said your reward will be great in Heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).

You learn obedience:  Even Jesus, who was sinless, learned obedience through suffering  (Hebrews 5:8).  Even a person who is righteous, good, and moral can learn more about obedience by suffering.

You are humbled:  The Bible says that the nation of Israel was humbled because of the suffering experienced in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:15-16).

You come to know God more intimately: Job, who suffered much, learned this truth and declared that because of his suffering, he really came to see God in a new way  (Job 42:5-6).

The important thing is to realize is that regardless of the reason for suffering, God is sovereign over it.  Nothing happens of which He is not aware.  He is merciful, ready to forgive and restore, and will help you through corrective, punitive, and undeserved suffering.  Every day of your life was written before you were even born.  No difficulty, suffering, or tragedy comes as a surprise to God (Psalm 139:13-18).

DEALING WITH  SUFFERING:

Do not focus on reasons for your suffering.  This was the original sin–wanting to know.  Eve wanted to become as God and know all things (Genesis 3).  For some tragedies, there are no good answers.  The reason for some things will be revealed, others will not.  You must learn that  the secret things belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29).  Commit your suffering and your unanswered questions to God.

Realize that Jesus bore your suffering.  The Bible says Jesus was not only familiar–acquainted with grief–but that He also bore your grief and sorrow (Isaiah 53:3-5).  Jesus bore your sin so that you no longer have to bear it.  If He also bore your grief and sorrow, so why are you bearing it?

Release your feelings to God.  Tell the Lord how you feel.  Release your sorrow, grief, and questions to Him. If you are angry about your suffering, confess it to God.  Ask God to heal your emotions.  Know that the feelings you are experiencing are common in times of suffering but you do not have to continue having these feelings.  God is able and ready to heal them.

Call upon the Holy Spirit to comfort you.  One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to comfort in times of suffering, grief, and sorrow. When you are overwhelmed with suffering, call upon the Holy Spirit to come and fulfill His purpose of supernatural comfort (John 14:6).  As a believer, you have the Comforter resident within you.  He is always available in times of need.  You are never alone.  The Lord is near those whose hearts are broken (Psalm 34:18).

Focus on eternal things.  If you focus on eternal things, your suffering actually works in your behalf (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  Do not focus on the circumstances of your suffering.  Focus on God, His Word, His promises to you, and what He is doing in your life.

Know that all things are working together for your good.  God takes all things–even the bad things, the losses, and sorrows–and weaves them together for good in the fabric of your life (Romans 8:28).

Remember these six “p”s of suffering:

-Purpose:  God has divine purpose in your suffering.

-Profitable:  Your suffering is profitable if you submit to God and trust Him.

-Presence:  God is with you in your suffering.

-Prove:  Your faith will be proven by the difficulties.

-Produce:  Your suffering will produce positive spiritual qualities in your life.

-Perspective:  You will emerge with a new perspective.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT SUFFERING:

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever… (Deuteronomy 29:29)

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  (Job 23:10)

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. (Proverbs 3:25)

When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge. (Proverbs 14:32)

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. (Psalm 10:17)

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19)

For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (Psalm 22:24)

Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. (Psalm 25:18)

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. (Psalm 30:11-12)

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (Psalm 31:7)

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.  (Psalm 31:9)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;  (Psalm 34:18-19)

Why are you downcast, 0 my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5)

For he has delivered me from all my troubles. (Psalm 54:7)

In God I trust; I will not be afraid. (Psalm 56:4)

I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)

In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. (Psalm 118:5)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. (Psalm 119:28)

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50)

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.  (Psalm 119:67)

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.  (Psalm 119:71-72)

Preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.  (Psalm 119:107)

Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. (Psalm 119:153)

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. (Psalm 120:1)

The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:7-8)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. (Psalm 138:7)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  (Psalm 147:3)

If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!  (Proverbs 24:10)

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. (Isaiah 25:8)

Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. (Isaiah 38:17)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  (Isaiah 43:2)

I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10)

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely He has borne our griefs  And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5)

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. (Isaiah 58:9)

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:10)

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.   But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.   Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer;   for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.  (Luke 21:12, NKJV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.

(John 14:16)

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me

(John 15:20-21)

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (John 16:20)

“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)

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.  (Acts 14:20-22, KJV)

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

(Acts 20:23)

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

(Romans 5:3-5)

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be joy revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-38)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  (Romans 12:13)

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;  when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.  (1 Corinthians 4:12-13)

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  (2 Corinthians 1:5-7)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.   (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;  in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;  in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;  through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;  known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;  sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.  (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, (Philippians 1:29)

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

…so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4)

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.  God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you  and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3)

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (2 Timothy 4:5, NKJV)

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.  You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in just a very little while,

He who is coming will come and will not delay.  But my righteous one will live by faith.

And if he shrinks back,  I will not be pleased with him.  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.  (Hebrews 10:32-39)

Hebrews chapter 11:  The hall of fame for faithful men and women of God who suffered.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:7-11)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  (James 1:12)

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.  (James 5:10-11)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  (1 Peter 2:19-22)

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1)

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  (1 Peter 4:12-14)

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)

And the God of all grace, who called you to  his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

(See also “Grief And Sorrow” in this database.)

Submission

SUBMISSION

 

DEFINITION:   Submission is a willingness to yield or surrender to somebody and the act of doing so.  Biblical submission is expressed in both attitude and conduct and occurs under leadership that is set in order by God.

FACTS ABOUT SUBMISSION:

Authority comes from God.  Romans 13 indicates that all legitimate authority is given by God.  God-given authority provides organization and direction in society, government, the church, and the home.

You are to obey authorities.  Hebrews 13:17 indicates you are to submit to those over you because they must give an account to God.  You are to obey and submit in a way that it will be a joy and not a burden for them.

Rebellion is the opposite of submission.  Romans 13 indicates that all legitimate authority is from God, so when you rebel against authority you are actually rebelling against God.

You learn submission by submitting  to God.  James 4:7 indicates if you submit yourself to God, the devil will flee from you.  As you submit to God, it will be easier to submit to others–your spouse, authority, your employer, etc.

Leaders in the Kingdom of God are to be servants to those who are under authority, not to “lord it over them” (Luke 22:25-26).  A biblical attitude exhibited by a leader makes it easy for those under him to submit to his direction.

When the divine order of submission is instituted, relationships are set right, rebellion ceases, and harmony and unity result.

Submission is not abuse.  When submission becomes destructive and abusive, it is an affront to true biblical submission. Discipleship–submission as it has also been called–has often been abused in the Church.  Discipleship and biblical submission are not the same as when a leader controls every aspect of your life and excludes from the fellowship those who do not conform. Never submit to abuse in any situation.  That is not a scriptural concept of submission.

Submission in the home.  The wife is to be in submission to the husband, the husband is to be in submission to God (Ephesians 5:22), and the children are to obey their parents  (Colossians 3:20).  Husbands are told to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church.  If a man really loves with the self-sacrificing love with which Christ loved the Church, his wife will desire to please him in all things just as a true believer desires to please Jesus.  Christ is perfect in His love for the Church, even though the Church is not perfect in its submission to Him.  The husband should demonstrate similar love towards his wife, even if she is not perfect in her submission to him.  A wife who is a true believer whose husband loves her in this manner, will seek to please him and submit to his leadership, even as she does to Christ. A man should not force his wife into submission.  She is to submit voluntarily because of the Christ-like love shown by her husband.   Biblical submission does not mean submission to a godless man.  It is describing married life between two Spirit-filled believers who have a natural relationship similar to the spiritual one between Christ and the Church.  Paul is saying that if a woman is married to a Christian man who has this type of love for them, then they should be in submission to him (Ephesians 5:22).   The husband is to cherish and nourish his wife because they are one flesh and they are both members of Christ’s Body.  The wife is to be the most important person in the husband’s life.  He is to leave father, mother, and all others and be joined to his wife.  He is to love his wife as he loves his own body.  This makes her submission to him a joy. She can submit easily to him, just as she submits to the Lord

We are to submit to one another in the Lord.  Believers, both male and female, husband and wife, are to submit to one another, desiring to please each other:  “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).

Submission does not justify sin.  In Acts chapter 5, a woman named Sapphira agreed to her husband’s plan to defraud God and the church and she was held personally accountable for her sin.  You cannot excuse sin by saying you were forced to do something by someone in authority.  If you are asked to do something contrary to God’s Word, you must decline.  As the disciples who were forbidden to preach the Word, you must obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20).

DEALING WITH  SUBMISSION:

Pray for any improper submissions to be broken.  Do not allow a leader to dictate how you live your life.  It is good to accept biblical counsel, but that is different than someone dictating decisions that should be made between you and God alone.   Do not accept abuse from an ungodly mate in the name of “submission”.  Do not allow abuse of children.  Remove yourself and your children from abusive situations.

Pray a prayer of submission.  Submit yourself to God first, then ask Him to help you be properly submissive to authorities in your life.

Lead with love and compassion. In your home, on the job, or in the church–if you are in a position of leadership, lead as becomes a true believer, serving with love and compassion.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT SUBMISSION:

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-26)

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  (Acts 4:18-20)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  (Romans 12:10)

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.    For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.  For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. (Romans 13:1-5)

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Galatians 5:13-14)

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.   This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”-which is the first commandment with a promise–that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.   Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.  Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.  Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,  because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.  And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.  (Ephesians 6:1-9)

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.  Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.  Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:18-24)

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness  and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.  Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,  and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.  (Titus 2:1-10)

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.   (Hebrews 13:17)

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  (James 4:1-3)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,  or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.  Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.  Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. (1 Peter 2:13-19)

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,  like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.  Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  (1 Peter 3:1-8)

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.  (1 Peter 5:5-6)

(See also “Authority” in this database.)

Stress

STRESS

 

DEFINITION:  Stress is a physical, mental, or emotional response that causes physical, mental, or emotional tension.

FACTS ABOUT STRESS:

Stress can be internal, resulting from an illness, a medical procedure, and negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and worry.  Unconfessed sin can cause spiritual stress.

Stress can be external, resulting from the environment or social situations.

Stress can result from both positive and negative circumstances.  Things like a geographical relocation, a new job, a new baby–though positive experiences, may also be stressful.  Negative circumstances such as a prolonged illness, the death of a loved one, a poor working or living situation may also cause stress.

Stress is related to other conditions including depression, high blood pressure, unresolved anger, etc.

Stress results from a lack of trust in God.  If you trusted really Him to take care of your circumstances, you would not be stressed out about them.

DEALING WITH  STRESS:

Analyze why you are stressed.  Like David, question yourself:  “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?”  Then, whatever the reason for your concern, tell yourself by faith: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and  my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you …” (Psalm 42:5-6)

Boldly declare that the Lord will help in any situation causing stress.  He is your source of strength (Philippians 4:13). “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be seized with alarm-I will not fear or dread or be terrified. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6, TAB).

Cast your cares on God.  The Bible says to cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22).  The word “cast” implies a continuous action. You may cast your cares on God, yet stressful thoughts return.  When they do, cast again!

Pray instead of thinking about stressful circumstances. The Word says: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:6-7). Turn every stressful thought into a prayer.

Praise and worship God.  It is impossible to remain stressed when you give yourself wholly to praise and worship.  Put on some meditative Christian music and give it a try!

Take practical actions.  If there is something you can change that will alleviate the stress, do so.  For example, perhaps you could trim some of your commitments or seek a job change.

Replace stress with the Word.  The Word of God is effective in dealing with  stress.  Following are some excerpts to get you started.  In addition, go through your Bible and mark all of the promises of God and His faithfulness.  Review these when you feel stressed.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT STRESS:

Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5, NKJV)

Do not fret–it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)

I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.  (Psalm 37:25, NKJV)

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and  my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you … (Psalm 42:5-6)

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22)

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  (Psalm 103:1-5)

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25)

The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:30-31)

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:28-34)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   (Matthews 11:28-30)

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes. (Luke 12:22-23)
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  (Luke 21:34)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  (John 14:27)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:7)
(See also “Anxiety and Worry” and “Fear” in this database, as these are often causes of stress.)

Spiritual Warfare

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

 

DEFINITION:    Spiritual warfare refers to the battles waged by believers against our spiritual enemies–Satan, demons, and the spiritual forces of evil.

FACTS ABOUT SPIRITUAL WARFARE:

There are two spiritual kingdoms. The Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:5-6).  The Kingdom of Satan consists of Satan himself, spiritual beings called demons, and all people who live in sin and rebellion against God.  God’s Kingdom consists of the Trinity of God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), angels, and all people who live in loving submission to Him.

Every person alive is a resident of one of these two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Satan or the Kingdom of God.  There is no neutral ground (Matthew 12:30). You become a resident of God’s Kingdom by being born again and becoming a believer in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Spiritual warfare began when Lucifer, who was originally a beautiful angel of prominence, rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-19; Revelation 12:7-8).

The spiritual battle was manifested on earth when Adam and Eve yielded to Satan in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).

All the battles that you face in life, whether spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, or relational are outward manifestations of a direct or indirect spiritual cause.  Although in the natural world things often appear to be simply “circumstances” of  life, the basis of these natural events originate in the spiritual world.  Spiritual warfare is a spiritual battle which is manifested in the natural world.

Spiritual warfare is not against flesh and blood. The battle is against the evil forces that would hinder your walk with God, the Word of God manifested in your life, your worship of God, and your work for Him.

DEALING WITH  SPIRITUAL WARFARE:

Prepare for effective spiritual battle by arming yourself with spiritual weapons.  These include:

-The belt of truth by gaining knowledge and understanding (Ephesians 6:14).

-The breastplate of righteousness–spiritual protection that comes by living the way the Word mandates (Ephesians 6:14).

-Spiritual shoes–protection that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:15).

-The shield of faith which stops the fiery darts from the enemy (Ephesians 6:16).

-The helmet of salvation, which protects your mind, soul, and spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

-The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

-Prayer (Ephesians 6:18).

-The blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11).

-Your testimony (Revelation 12:11).

-The name of Jesus (Mark 16:17).

-Praise and worship (Psalm 59:16-17).

-Fasting (the books of Esther and Jonah).

Use these biblical strategies to win spiritual battles.

Submit and resist.  If you submit yourself to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you (James 4:7).  To resist means to “stand firm against and oppose the enemy at every point.”

Do not give place to the devil.   Do not leave room for Satan to operate (Ephesians 4:27).

Giving “place” to the devil is providing him a foothold from where he can operate in your life–for examples through alcohol, drugs, pornography, immorality, witchcraft, cults, rebellion, etc.

Recover yourself from the devil. You have a responsibility to recover yourself from Satan’s snare.  You must cooperate with God for deliverance (2 Timothy 2:26).

Abstain from fleshly lustsTo “abstain” means “to deliberately refrain evil practices.  The lusts of the flesh are listed in Galatians 5:19-21 as conduct from which you must abstain.  Fleshly lusts war against your spirit (1 Peter 2:11).

Try the spirits.  Be alert for the deceptions of the enemy (2 Peter 3:l7; 1 Timothy 4:1).

Reject false teachers. A false teacher is one who teaches incorrect doctrines and fails to live up to the mandates of God’s Word  (2 John l0-11).

Lay aside worldly entanglements. To be a good solider for Jesus, you must lay aside worldly affairs  (2 Timothy 2:4).

Arm yourself with the mind of Christ.  The mind of Jesus is not automatically developed in you.  You must “let” or “permit” it to be developed (1 Peter 4:l; Philippians 2:5-8; Romans l2:1-2).

Pull and cast down strongholds.  One of the goals of offensive warfare is to pull and cast down the strongholds of the enemy (2 Corinthians l0:4-5).  To “pull down” means “to take down by effort or force.”  To “cast” means “to throw or hurl.”  You are told to cast off the works of darkness (Romans l3:l2) and cast out demon powers (Matthew l0:8).  You are to demolish arguments and pretensions and to take captive any thought that is contrary to the thoughts of Christ.

Bind and loose.  You have the power to bind the forces of evil and loose the forces of good (Matthew  16:19).  For example, you can bind the spirit of iniquity at work in the life of a lost loved one and release the spirit of adoption (a ministry of the Holy Spirit) to work in that person’s life.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT SPIRITUAL WARFARE:

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.   I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.  (Isaiah 14:12-15)    See also Ezekiel 28:12-19.

“He who is not with me is against me…” (Matthew 12:30)

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.   (Mark 16:17-18)

Read about the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13.  Note that strategies used by Satan and how Jesus met each one with the Word of God.

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18-19)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.   (Romans 12:1-2, NKJV)

…Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

…and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  (2 Timothy 2:26)

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude… (1 Peter 4:1)

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.  (1 John 3:8)

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. (2 John 1:11)

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.  (Revelation 12:7-9)

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.  (Revelation 12:11)

Read the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:8-22 for further insights into spiritual warfare.

(For detailed instruction on spiritual warfare, obtain the Harvestime International Network publication entitled “Spiritual Strategies: A Manual Of Spiritual Warfare” available at http://www.harvestime.org)