Fruit of the Spirit

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

 

DEFINITIONThe fruit of the Holy Spirit refers to the nature of the Spirit revealed in the life of the believer, spiritual qualities which should be evident in the lives of all Christians.

FACTS ABOUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:

Spiritual Fruit comes through the Holy Spirit.  It is the “Fruit of the Spirit”, not the fruit of self-effort.  Developing spiritual fruit is a continuing work of the Holy Spirit in your life as a believer to conform you to the image of Christ.  Like fruit in the natural world, you must continue to cultivate it.

Spiritual Fruit is evidence of spiritual maturity.  Like fruit in the natural world, spiritual fruit it is a product resulting from the process of life.  It is Christian character that is manifested in both personal and social conduct and is the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.   Just as fruit takes time to develop in the natural world, spiritual fruit also takes time to develop.  It is the product of growth in the life of the Spirit.

Spiritual Fruit is singular.  The word “fruit”  is singular.  It is not plural.  Spiritual fruit can be understood by the natural example of grapes.  A cluster of grapes has individual grapes on it, but it is one cluster.  In the natural world,  when grapes are picked from the vine they are picked in a cluster.  This cluster of  grapes is called the “fruit” [singular] of the vine.  Spiritually, there is one cluster of fruit with many individual facets.

You are chosen to bear fruit.  Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

Jesus placed great emphasis on fruit bearing.  Read the parable of the vineyard that did not yield fruit (Luke 13:6-9) and the fig tree which had no fruit (Matthew 21:18-19).

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit consists of these qualities.

-Love, an emotion of deep affection, care, and concern, an unconditional giving of self to others.

-Joy, a quality of gladness, delight, and jubilance.  Happiness depends on the world around you and your circumstances.  Joy originates with the Spirit of God and is not dependent upon what is going on in the world or your outward circumstances.

-Peace,  a condition of quiet, calm, tranquility, and harmony.  Peace is the absence of strife, anxiety, and concern.

-Longsuffering is the quality of patience, the ability to cheerfully bear an unbearable situation and patiently endure.

-Gentleness is the quality of  having a mild manner that is not severe, violent, or loud.  It is a quiet and respectful kindness.

-Goodness, which is demonstrated through holiness and righteousness.

-Faith,  a strong confidence in God which is manifested through a lifestyle of godly works.

-Meekness, which is controlled strength.

-Temperance, which is self-control, moderation in emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Developing the Fruit of the Spirit.  Jesus used the term “fruit” of the Spirit as a natural parallel of a spiritual truth.  Certain conditions are necessary to produce fruit in the natural world that are symbolic of things necessary for production of spiritual fruit.  In the natural world, as well as the spiritual realm, specific conditions are necessary  to assure growth.  These include:

-Life:   Just as life in the natural world comes through seed, life in the spiritual world came through the Seed of Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15).

-Water:  Water is necessary to produce fruit in the natural world and the water of the Holy Spirit is necessary to produce fruit in the spirit world.  It quenches your spiritual thirst and brings spiritual growth (John 7:38-39 and Isaiah 44:3).

-Light:  It is response to light that stimulates growth in the natural fruit bearing process.  It is your response to the light of God’s Word that produces the fruit of the Spirit (1 John 1:5-7).

-Air:  Carbon dioxide is drawn in by a plant from the air which surrounds it and is necessary for growth and fruit production.  The Word of God compares the Holy Spirit to air or wind (John 3:8).  The “wind” of the Holy Spirit blowing across your life is much like the wind in the natural world.  It scatters the seeds of the Word of God, separates the wheat from the chaff in your spiritual life, and fans the dying coals of your spiritual zeal to set you ablaze for God.

-Space:   In Matthew 13 in the parable of the sower,  competition for space choked out some plants.  The believer who develops spiritual fruit will discover he must be set apart from the competition of the “weeds” of the  world (Matthew 13:22; Romans 12:1-2).

-Roots:   Roots are necessary to anchor and supply nutrients to the plant.  Psalms chapter explains how to develop the root system in your spiritual life.

-Rest:  Dormancy (rest) occupies a specific season in the natural growth cycle of plants.  Dormancy is a period during which the plant may appear to be dead because there is no growth.  Dormancy usually occurs right before a  period of very rapid growth.  One of the purposes of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to bring spiritual rest and refreshing.  This spiritual refreshing results in rapid growth of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 28:11-12).

-Soil:  Both in the natural and spiritual worlds, in order to produce fruit the ground must be properly prepared.  In the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 it was the condition of the soil that affected the growth of the seed.  Your heart is like soil in the natural world.  If your heart is hard and filled with things of the world that choke out the Word of God, you will not bear spiritual fruit (Hosea 10:12).

-Death:  Every time you plant a seed to produce fruit, it does not come to life unless it dies first  (John 12:24; 1 Corinthians 15:36).  Spiritual life depends on death to the things of the world.  It requires death to sin, worldly desires, and pleasures.  Death to the world results in the development of the fruit of Christ-likeness in your life.

-Attachment to the vine:  In order to bear fruit in the natural world, a branch must be attached to the main plant.  If the branch is broken off from the main, life-giving vine it will not bear fruit.  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  In order to bear spiritual fruit we must maintain our relationship to Him (John 15:1-5).

-Pruning:  Pruning is necessary in the natural world if a plant is to remain productive and bear fruit.  When a farmer prunes a plant he cuts off the unproductive branches in order to make the plant produce more fruit.  He removes everything which would hinder the growth of the plant.  Pruning is also necessary in the spiritual world. Spiritual pruning is correction by God. The Bible also calls it chastisement.  When God “prunes”, He removes from your life everything which would hinder your spiritual growth.  This process is necessary if you are to bear spiritual fruit (John 15:2).

-Climate:  Climate is important in developing good fruit. In the natural world, many types of fruit are developed in environments that are specially controlled.  They are grown in buildings called “hot houses” at specific temperatures.  They are protected from the real environment of the outside world.  If you take a “hot house” plant and move it outside, it will soon die because it has lived only in a controlled environment and it cannot withstand the environment of the real world. Spiritually speaking, we do not want “hot house” Christians who look good in controlled settings but wilt on contact with the real world.   Spiritual fruit should be just as evident in your contacts with the world as in the controlled settings of Christian friends and the church.

DEALING WITH  THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:

Analyze your life.  Which manifestations of the Fruit of the Spirit are apparent?  Which are lacking?  Which need to be strengthened?

Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you.  The Fruit of the Spirit does not develop through self-effort.  It develops from the resident power of the Holy Spirit within you.   The Holy Spirit works with you by convicting you when you violate scriptural principles that will impede your spiritual growth.

Provide the proper environment for spiritual growth.  Review the conditions for developing spiritual fruit in the preceding section and make sure you are providing a proper environment for fruit-bearing.

Remember that fruit-bearing is a process.  In the natural world as well as the spiritual world, fruit develops over time with proper care.   Do not become discouraged if you don’t always seem to manifest the spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit in challenging situations.  Ask God for forgiveness when you fail, and then ask Him to strengthen you in the areas in which you are weak.

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30)

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.  (Matthew 3:8)

Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.   A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.  (Matthew 7:17-20)

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.  But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  (Luke 8:14-15)

He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’   But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.   And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'” (Luke 13:6-9)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  (John 15:1-6)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:15-16)

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  (Galatians 5:16126)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name (Hebrews 13:15)

(For further study obtain the Harvestime International Network course “Ministry Of The Holy Spirit” available at http://www.harvestime.org)

Friendship

FRIENDSHIP

DEFINITIONFriendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people.  It is a strong bond that exceeds a mere association with someone.

FACTS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP:

The two greatest commands in the Bible, upon which all others depend, are concerned with relationships:  “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’    This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).  Amazingly, the whole message of the Word of God is summarized in these two commandments–your relationship with God and others!

There are three basic types of relationships.

-A mentor friendship:  This is a relationship in which you are the mentor and you disciple a friend in God’s Word and help them grow spiritually.

-A mentee friendship:  In this relationship, you are the one being mentored by a godly friend who is helping you grow spiritually.

-A mutual friendship: Mutual friendships are when you are closely aligned with another person on the same spiritual level, and you minister to each other back and forth.

Do not be unequally yoked in friendship. The Bible says:  Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  We are warned not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers in any type of relationship (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Christian friendships are based on Jesus Christ.  That mutually significant factor provides a sound foundation upon which to build a friendship. He is the one who …” …has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,  having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,  and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity”  (Ephesians 2:14-16, NKJV).

Christian friends love one another unconditionally. When difficult times come in the relationship, they continue to love and accept one another despite faults and differences:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” ( Proverbs 17:17).

Romans 15:7 indicates that you are to accept others as Christ accepts you–unconditionally.

Christian friends love sacrificially.  They are not selfish, rather they give freely of their time, energies, and abilities to their friends:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  Jesus is the best example of a true Christian friend. His love for you is sacrificial, never selfish. He demonstrated this not only through miracles of salvation, healing, and deliverance, but also by the humble service of washing the disciples’ feet, and ultimately when He gave His life for you.

Christian friends do not use one another.  Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  By placing your friend’s needs before your own, you will gain a true friend.

Christian friends edify one another.  “Edification” means to build another person up emotionally, spiritually, and physically.   This is done by encouragement  based upon God’s Word (1 Timothy 5:11).

Christian friends are honest with one another.  Proverbs 27:6 indicates that “the wounds of a friend are faithful”–meaning that even when your friend says something difficult to you that is true, yet painful, they are being a faithful friend.  Christian friends can be honest and confront one another when necessary without fearing loss of relationship.

Christian friends respect confidences.  You are free to share anything with your friend, knowing that it will be kept in confidence.

Christian friendships are mutually rewarding.  If you feel used, abused, or even smothered in a friendship, something is wrong. Seek to correct it if possible.  If not, back off on the relationship.

Christian friends respect boundaries.  Christian friends will never come between you and God or you and your spouse.  They will respect boundaries you set in regards to time spent together and will recognize your need to develop other relationships.

DEALING WITH  FRIENDSHIP:

Pray about your relationships.  Ask God to bring new friends into your life that will be in harmony with His will and purpose for your life. Ask God for a mentor and ask Him to send people that you can mentor as well. Ask the Lord to show you any negative relationships you might need to sever–people who pull you down or back into the old life.

Frequent places where you can develop good friends. Excellent places to find friends is in Church, Bible studies, or prayer groups.  If you develop a friend at a local bar, what kind of friend do you think it will be?

Take the initiative to make friends. The Bible says:  “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV).
Develop qualities in your life that foster good relationships.  In Galatians 5:16-26 Paul contrasts the qualities of character that result in bad relationships with those that foster good relationships. Attitudes and actions that abort positive relationships are hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.  Positive relationships are supported by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit being manifested in your life:  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Always remember–your friendship with God is most important.  You cannot be a friend of the world and remain in intimate friendship with God.  (James 4:4)

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  (Psalm 1:1)

A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.(Proverbs 12:26)

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.  (Proverbs 16:28)

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.  (Proverbs 17:9)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17 )

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24)

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered,or you may learn his ways  and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25)

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:6)

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.  Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you.  (Proverbs 27:9-10)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down,his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered,  two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  (Ecclesiastes. 4:9-12)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’    This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (John 15:13)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate,  says the Lord.  Touch no unclean thing,  and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,  says the Lord Almighty.”(1 Corinthians 6:14-18)

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

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  (Philippians 2:3)

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.”  (James 2:23)

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

Do not be friends with:

-Gossips: Proverbs 20:19

-The bad tempered: Proverbs 22:24-25

-Those given to change: Proverbs 24:21-22

-Those given to drinking (addiction) and gluttony: Proverbs 23:20-21

-Liars, untrustworthy, and those who are inconsiderate: Proverbs 25:18-20

-Those given to violence: Proverbs 1:10-19

The types of friends to foster.

-Those who display wisdom: Proverbs 13:20

-Those who give wise counsel: Proverbs 27:9; 13:14

-Those who are comforting instead of dragging you down: Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 18:24

Things to avoid in friendships.

-Repeating everything you hear: Proverbs 17:9; 26:20

-Senseless arguments: Proverbs 17:14; 26:21

-Overstaying your welcome: Proverbs 25:17

-Bad jokes at the expense of your friend: Proverbs 26:18-19

-Meddling in affairs that do not concern you: Proverbs 26:17

-Insincere flattery:  Proverbs 27:14

Solving problems in friendships.

-Be slow to anger: Proverbs 16:7

-Be slow to respond: Proverbs 18:13

-Avoid quarreling: Proverbs 20:3

-Speak gently: Proverbs 15:1

-Speak briefly: Proverbs 10:29

-Be quick to show love: Proverbs 10:12

-When necessary, it is better to rebuke than to flatter: Proverbs 28:23.

The biblical emphasis on relationships is evident when we note the number of times the words “one another” occurs, particularly in Paul’s letters.  We are commanded to:

-love one another: John 13:35

-be devoted to one another: Romans 12:10

-honor others above yourself: Romans 12:10

-live in harmony with one another: Romans 12:16

-comfort one another: 1 Thessalonians 4:18

-encourage one another: Hebrews 3:13

-stir up one another to love and good works: Hebrews 10:24

-show hospitality to one another: 1 Peter 4:9

-employ the gifts of God for the benefit of one another: 1 Peter 4:10

-clothe yourself with humility towards one another: 1 Peter 5:5

-pray for one another: James 5:16

-confess your faults to one another:  James 5:16

-speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs: Ephesians 5:19

-submit to one another: Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5

-consider others better than yourself: Philippians 2:3

-be concerned about the interests of others: Philippians 2:4

-bear with one another: Colossians 3:13

-teach one another: Colossians 3:16

-build up one another: Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11

-be likeminded towards one another: Romans 15:5

-accept one another unconditionally: Romans 15:7

-admonish one another:  Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16

-care for one another: 1 Corinthians 12:25

-serve one another: Galatians 5:13

-bear one another’s burdens:  Galatians 6:2

-forgive one another: Ephesians 4:2, 32; Colossians 3:13

-be patient with one another: Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13

-be kind and compassionate to one another: Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

 

DEFINITION: Forgiveness is the act of pardoning someone for an offense.  Reconciliation is the ending of conflict between two or more people and the renewing of relationship.  Included in the biblical concept of forgiveness is receiving forgiveness from God for sin, extending forgiveness to others, and forgiving ones’ self.  Forgiveness includes the releasing of grudges and bitterness over past offenses.

FACTS ABOUT FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION:

Forgiveness and reconciliation come through Jesus Christ.  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

God promises forgiveness for your sin.  When you confess your sins to God and repent, you are forgiven because He promises this in His Word (1 John 1:8-9).  By repenting and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for your sin, you are reconciled to God.  You may not “feel” forgiven, but the Christian walk is by faith not by feeling.  God promised, and He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).   Jesus said:  …”whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).

Broken relationships result in additional problems.  Bitterness, grudges, resentment, anger, etc., all result from broken relationships. These negative emotions affect you mentally, physically, and spiritually.  They are all sinful emotions that must be dealt with in order to receive and extend forgiveness.

The Bible teaches forgiveness.  You need forgiveness from God and you are required to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).  You also need to forgive yourself.

DEALING WITH  FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION:

Be reconciled to God.  A proper vertical relationship with God makes positive horizontal relationships with others possible.  Confess your sins and ask God to forgive you.  Read Psalm 51.  You do not need to repeatedly ask forgiveness for a sin.  Once you have confessed and asked forgiveness, God forgives and forgets (Isaiah 43:25). Remain reconciled to God by praying the model prayer, designed to be prayed daily, which includes “forgive our sins as we forgive others”  (Matthew 6:12).

Repent of your unforgiveness.  Repent of bitterness, anger, resentment, and holding grudges.  These are all sin and must be dealt with as such.

Forgive others.  You may not feel like it, but by an act of your will you must forgive others. Follow the directives given in Matthew 18:15-19.   Forgiveness is not:

-Justifying someone else’s wrongs which they have done to you.

-Denying you were hurt in the first place.

-Accepting with resignation what was done to you.

-Waiting for time to heal the hurt. (It doesn’t).

True forgiveness comes by:

-Recognizing what was done to you was wrong, the result of sinful men in a sinful world. It is not necessary to go back and relive the event mentally, but neither can you deal with it by denying it.  Acknowledge what happened and how it affected you.

-Confessing the hurt to God and asking Him to heal you of the harmful emotions.  You may never forget the facts of the incident, but what is needed is healing for the negative emotions relating to it.

-Asking God to help you forgive others, even as Christ forgives you.   Recognize that God extends forgiveness to you as you forgive others: “Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us.” 

If others offend you again,  forgive them again.  Peter asked Christ how many times he was required to forgive someone.  Jesus answered:  “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). He was actually saying that your forgiveness must be unlimited.

Forgive yourself.  Distinguish between true remorse and guilt and shame.  You are right to feel remorse, but guilt and shame are not from God.  Jesus bore your sins, your guilt, and your shame on the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  You do not have to bear these things (1 John 3:20).  If you have confessed your sin to God and sought forgiveness and reconciliation with others, then you must also forgive yourself.  See yourself as God sees you, a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Here are some guidelines to help you forgive yourself.

-Acknowledge the sin that is causing your feelings of guilt.  Confess your sin to God, and  repent.  Ask God to forgive your sin and heal your emotions.

-Recognize when God forgives, He forgets–He casts your sins as far as east from west (Psalm 103:12).

-Claim the promises of 1 John 1:8-9 and  Romans 8:1.

-By an act of your own will, release yourself from condemnation.  Control future thoughts by casting down “vain imaginations” of guilt and shame and “forgetting those things behind”  (2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philippians 3:3).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT  FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  (Psalm 32:1)

Read David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.  (Psalm 86:5)

He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us after our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his lovingkindness toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12)

Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.  (Proverbs 10:12)

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.  (Proverbs 28:13)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.”Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  (Isaiah 43:18)

“I, even I, am he who blots out  your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  (Isaiah 43:25)

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.   If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”   (Matthew 18:21-22)

The parable about forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35 illustrates how your forgiveness by God is related to forgiving others.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.   (Mark 11:25-26)

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Luke 6:27-31)
Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.(John 6:37)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  (John 13:34-35)

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  (Acts 3:19)

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.   (Romans 4:7-8)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  (Romans 8:1)

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

…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 2:15-18))

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (Colossians 1:13-14)

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (Colossians 1:19-20)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15)

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.  (1 John 1:8-10)

Finances

FINANCES

 

DEFINITION:  Finances involve the gaining, exchange, and management of money.  A barter trading system is also a type of finance.  Financing is the act of managing available resources like money, assets, and investments. Problems with finances may include an inability to meet financial obligations, excessive debt, and an inability to provide for basic needs.

FACTS ABOUT FINANCES:

Chief causes of financial problems include not honoring God with tithes and offerings; living beyond one’s income; credit buying; lack of a budget;  laziness or refusing to work; co-signing for the debts of others–all of which are violations of God’s Word.

God’s Word is our financial guide.  As  believers, we do not look to the strategies of the world for principles to govern finances. We look to the truth of God’s Word.  Financial blessing comes through keeping the Word of God in every area of our lives, including finances (Deuteronomy 28:2).

There are five principles that should distinguish the believer’s attitude from that of the world:

-The master of our money is God.  We are guided by obedience to His Word in regards to our finances.  As a steward, you are responsible for your resources, and God holds you accountable (Matthew 25:14-30).

-Our motivation is different from that of the world.  Instead of amassing wealth for selfish purposes, we are motivated by a desire to use our resources for God’s glory.

-Our mindset differs from that of the world.  We seek contentment with what we have and we own our possessions instead of being owned by them.

-Our means of attaining finances differ.  Scriptural mandates are honored to prevent fraud and deceit and we are governed by principles of honesty and integrity.

-Our management of money differs from that of the world.  Our budgets include categories like tithes, offerings, and gifts to the poor.

Tithes and offerings are part of the financial plan of true believers.  A tithe is 10% of your income.  Offerings are gifts to the work of the Lord above the 10% tithe. The first record of tithing was when Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20).  New Testament believers also tithed and gave offerings  (1 Corinthians 16:2; Luke 18:12-13).  If a person fails to tithe, it is considered robbing God (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 give tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:10).

Why should believers give tithes and offerings?  We give because:

-We want to pattern ourselves after our giving God.  God  gives lavishly. We want to be like Him, so this means that we follow His example and give generously.

-We want to obey God’s commands to give.  God commanded Israel to make giving central in their personal, family, and national lives. New Testament teachings in the Gospels and Epistles emphasize giving as well.  Examples in the history of the first church recorded in the book of Acts also illustrate this.  God commands us to give by precept and example, and as His children we respond in obedience.

-We love the world with the love of God.  God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16).  We  give to the work of the Lord because we are filled with that same love and in so doing we help extend the Gospel to the world.

-We are thankful.  The Jews gave sacrificial gifts to express gratitude for God’s provision for their needs. We also express our thanks by giving to God.

-We want to address legitimate need.  Some of our brothers and sisters in emerging nations struggle in difficult conditions, while those in western nations live in relative ease. The Bible teaches that we cannot truly have God’s love manifested through us if we ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.  The Bible repeatedly addresses the importance of giving to the poor, to widows, orphans, and the nation of Israel.

-We know it is more blessed to give than to receive.  This Kingdom principle is totally opposite of the world’s advice which is to get all you can, get it any way you can, and then horde it.

-We want to lay up heavenly treasure.  We want to be among those who receive the awesome blessings which God has promised for those who invest in heavenly rather than earthly treasures (Luke 12:33-34).

-We want our needs supplied.  Some people spend years clinging to their money in a vain attempt to meet their own needs, only to see God provide miraculously as soon as they start to give. Sadly, many never learn to give and remain in need their entire lives.  God promises to supply all of your needs out of His infinite riches when you are obedient to His commands to give.

The Bible mandates how we should give.  We are to:

-Give generously.   “Generosity” means “giving widely”.  Do not measure your generosity by what you give.  Measure it by what you retain (Proverbs 11:25; 22:9).

-Give creatively.  Giving in Bible times included tithes, sacrifices, free-will offerings, gleanings, hospitality, funds for widows, collections for famine relief, expensive jars of oil, and even a burial tomb.

-Give willingly.  God asks that people give willingly (Exodus 25:2; 2 Corinthians 8:12; 1 Chronicles 29:9).

-Give cheerfully.  God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

-Give proportionately.  Every believer should give as he is able, in proportion to his income and how God has blessed him (Deuteronomy 16:17).

-Give with simplicity and without seeking recognition.  Don’t give with fanfare or seeking recognition (Romans 12:8; Matthew 6:1-4).

-Give sacrificially. Sacrificial giving is measured by what you retain rather than by what you give (Mark 12:43-44).

-Give with a pure motive.  Ask yourself: Why am I giving?  If you are giving because you were pressured to do so or because you want to look good before others, your motive is wrong.  Your giving should be from a heart filled with love (1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 Samuel 15:22).

-Give expecting God to meet your need.  This is not a wrong motive.  You are simply claiming God’s promises and taking Him at His Word (Proverbs 3:9-10; Philippians 4:19).

-Give your best.  In Old Testament times, God’s people were instructed to bring their best  and were forbidden to offer sick and injured animals or polluted offerings (Malachi 1:6-14).  You also should give your best.  The woman who offered her alabaster box of expensive ointment gave the very best she had,  as did the widow woman who gave all that she had (Mark 26:7-10 and Mark 12:42-44).   If it doesn’t cost you something, it isn’t your best gift.  David said,  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God of that which costs me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).

The Bible indicates to whom we should give.   Here are some scriptural directives to guide your giving.

-Give to the local church.  The first priority in giving should be to allocate a tenth of your income to your local church. Your tithes should be used to support the modern equivalents of priests and Levites–people who are involved in some form of  ministry like pastors, missionaries, teachers, prophets, evangelists, church secretaries, musicians, youth workers, counselors, and caretakers of God’s house.  Your gifts should also be used for rent, utilities, maintenance, etc., of the local church.

-Give to the poor.  In addition to financial gifts to the poor, your giving might include assisting orphanages, taking clothes and food to the homeless, giving your time to organize care facilities for poor children, establishing job centers for the unemployed, or delivering meals to the elderly.   A portion of your tithes and offerings should go into a specific fund so that the church can help their local poor.   (For examples, see Deuteronomy 15:10; Proverbs 19:17; 28:27; 22:9; and Psalm 41:1).

-Give to ministries that mentor you.  You should support the ministries which bless you and help you grow in the Lord.  In the New Testament, the Macedonian believers were committed, long-term financial partners of the Apostle Paul. They had been brought to faith in Christ by Paul and were blessed and mentored spiritually by him, so in return they helped support his ministry.

-Give your spiritual gifts, talents, and time to worthy causes.  These should be offered to the Lord as well as your finances.  Consider volunteering in your church or for a Christian organization.

-Give to Israel.  Paul made it clear that we owe a spiritual debt to the Jews.   Almost all of the Bible was written by Jews.  Jewish believers first brought the Gospel to the Gentiles and they were the first to spread the Good News across the world.  God prospers those who love Israel, and giving is one way to demonstrate your love (Psalm 122:6).

-Give hospitality to other believers.  As our communities disintegrate, families break up, and the number of elderly people multiplies, hospitality among believers becomes ever more urgent. Our towns are increasingly filled with lonely people who would value a meal in another person’s home. Many believers live alone and have empty rooms that could be used help others.  For example, in America, many believers opened their homes for temporary shelter to the homeless after a terrible hurricane called Katrina ravaged a portion of the nation.  Perhaps you could host a missionary who is home on furlough or provide temporary housing for someone who has been displaced from their own residence due to a disaster.

-You can expect to receive when you give. When you give consistently and scripturally, then you can expect to receive:

-Provision for your earthly needs. Both the Old and New Testaments contain clear promises that God will bless us in tangible ways when we give of our resources.  In Deuteronomy 14:29 and 24:19  and Malachi 3:10, God promises overflowing blessing upon those who give biblically. When we give freely to the poor, we can expect God to bless us (Proverbs 19:17).  The Prophet Isaiah explains the amazing blessings you will receive when you give God’s way  (Isaiah 58:7-11)..  You will receive in the same measure that you give (Luke 6:38).

-Supernatural growth and miracles.  The staggering growth in the early church was clearly related to their generosity. Miracles of salvation, healing, and deliverance cannot be separated from the sacrificial lifestyle of  believers in the early church. When our churches give God’s way, we will see miracles and dynamic growth such as the early church experienced.

-Heavenly treasure.   You convert your earthly wealth into heavenly treasure by giving God’s way  (Matthew 10:42) .

DEALING WITH  FINANCES:

If you have not been tithing, ask God to forgive you.  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 may tithe off of the produce of their land when there is no monetary exchange for goods operative.

Set aside funds above the 10% to give as offerings to special works like missions, the poor, etc.

Get your eyes off of your lack.  Take your eyes off of your difficult circumstances and, by faith, look to God for His divine provision  Your faith must be fixed to the infallible, impregnable Word of God and His unlimited resources.

Believe that God wants to prosper you.  If you are going to effectively war against the enemy’s attack on your finances, you must believe that God wants to prosper you (Deuteronomy 28:2,11-12; Malachi 3:10).  He has promised to provide all of your needs–not every selfish want or desires that would not be good for you, but all legitimate needs through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19).

Face your financial problems armed with the Word of God.   To effectively war against the devil’s attack on  your finances, you must face your problems head-on with a solid scriptural foundation concerning God’s will for your finances.  Learn what the Bible says about finances, and live by these mandates. Eliminate any scriptural violations regarding finances.

Identify the real enemy.  The enemy of your finances is not your boss or the government. Get your eyes off your employer. Get your eyes off the economy.  Your employer, the economy, or anyone or anything else in the natural world are not your enemies. Satan is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  You are not fighting against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) so you must battle with spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Ephesians 6:13-18).

Take control of your mind.  Take captive the thoughts that you will go under financially and that you are going to lose your house or your job.  Reject these ideas in the name of Jesus!  Cast down such “vain imaginations”.

Make a budget.  Ask God for wisdom to make and live within a realistic budget (James 1:5).  Here are the  steps to take.

-Create a list of monthly expenses. This might include a mortgage payment or rent, car payments, gasoline, telephone,  trash service,  insurances, auto repairs, public transportation, groceries, eating out, tuition,  utilities, entertainment, laundry and dry cleaning, clothes, house and medical insurance, property and income taxes, baby-sitting, subscriptions or dues, alimony or child support, medical and dental, home repairs, money spent on pets,  haircuts, etc.   Use your check book, credit card statements, and receipts to make this list.

-Divide this list of expenses into two categories. The first category lists fixed expenses which are  the same each month.  For example, your rent and car payment are fixed.  The second category is variable expenses that change from month-to-month.  Examples are gasoline, groceries, utilities, etc.

-Total your expenses.  Total your fixed expenses. Total your variable expenses.  Then add them together for a grand total.

-Total your monthly income.  List every source of income, how much you receive from each source, and then total it.

-Compare your expenses and income. You will have one of two results:

-If your results show more income than expenses you are off to a good start. This means   you can designate extra money to reduce debt or put into savings for emergencies and future needs.

-If you have more expenses than income, then you must make some life-style changes.

-Make adjustments to your expenses.  Examine your expenses and list areas where you can cut costs.  Usually you can’t cut fixed expenses like a mortgage, etc., so look closely at variable expenses to see where you can reduce expenditures.  What can you live without?   For example, could you give up your cell phones for a cheaper home phone? What can you cut out completely?  Could you eliminate entertainment costs and eating out for awhile?  What expenses could you lower?  For example, perhaps you could use less gasoline by combining errands or walking when possible.  By lowering each variable expense, you will come closer to your goal of balancing income and expenditures.

-Set a realistic monthly budget.  The budget should focus on your actual needs instead of extras you desire.

-Review your budget each month.   This review will show you where you did well and where you need to improve.

Note:  If you have large credit card balances, here is a strategy to help you retire those debts. Transfer your credit card balances to the card with the lowest interest rates.  As an incentive for the credit card company to allow this, tell them they can make an automatic deduction from your bank account each month to assure they will be paid.  Once you have moved your credit card debt to the card with the lowest interest rate, do not pay only the lowest monthly payment required.  Keep your monthly payments as large as they were before you transferred everything to the one card.  This way you will have a higher  payment on the principal and be able to pay off your debt in a shorter time.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT FINANCES:

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).

Financial principles in the Psalms.

The book of Psalms opens with a promise that whatever you do will prosper: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3, KJV).     Here are the steps to prospering in all you do:

-Refuse to walk in the counsel of  the ungodly.

-Stop hanging out with sinners.

-Stop scorning God’s promises.

-Delight in the Word of God.

-Meditate on God’s Word day and night…

…and you will prosper in all you do!

Here are some other key principles from the book of Psalms:

-God cares for the poor, as should we: 22:26; 9:18; 12:5; 14:6; 35:10; 40:17; 41:1; 68:10;

69:33; 72:4,12-13;19; 107:41; 109:31; 112:9; 113:7; 132:15; 140:12.

-God promises blessings when you give to the poor: 11:1-3.

-God delivers the poor and needy: 72:12-14; 132:15.

-If you regard iniquity in your heart, God won’t hear you–which means He won’t hear your

  prayers for financial blessing:  66:18.

-Do not charge a Christian brother interest or accept bribes: 15:5.

-Do not trust in wealth: 49:6-7, 10-12, 16-17; 52:7.

-Wealth and riches will be found in the house of one who serves the Lord:  112:3.

-It is better to have little than to have much and dwell with the wicked:  37:16.

-Do not borrow and fail to repay: 37:21.

-The righteous will never be forsaken and his children will never beg: 37:25.

-God provides for the righteous because of their generosity: 37:25-26.

-God provides lavishly for His people: 105:37-45.

-God bless those who give generously: 112:5.

Financial principles in Proverbs.

-Warnings against ill-gotten gains: 1:13-15; 10:2; 11:16, 18; 12:11 13:11; 21:5-6; 23:4;

28:8,16, 19-20;  28:24.

-Wisdom is more important than wealth:  2:14-16; 8:11,18; 16:16; 4:15.

-Admonitions to give tithes and offerings: 3:9-10.

-Admonitions to be generous and rewards for generosity: 3:27-2; 11:24-25; 22:9.

-The danger of co-signing for the debts of others: 6:1-11; 11:15; 22:26-27.

-Avoid bribery: 6:35.

-The importance of saving:  6:6-8.

-Acknowledge God’s divine provision: 10:3; 11:4.

-Warnings against laziness and admonitions to be diligent: 10:4-5; 13:4; 18:9;

20:4,13; 21:5; 21:20, 25-26; 21:17; 23:21; 24:30-34; 28:3.

-Warnings against trusting in riches: 11:28; 18:11; 20:21; 23:4-5; 27:24.

-Warning against hording: 11:26.

-The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous: 13:22.

-Admonitions to care for the poor: 14:21, 31; 17:5; 18:23;  22:22-23; 19:17; 21:13;

22:9,16,22-23; 28:27.

-Warnings against greed:  15:27; 28:25; 28:4.

-Honesty in business is required: 11:1; 16:11; 20:23.

-Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth: 22:4.

-Avoid borrowing:  22:7.

-Don’t be stingy: 21:26; 23:6-7; 28:22.

-There is value in being neither rich or poor: 30:8-9.

-Wealth obtained by fraud disappears: 13:11.

-Don’t oppress the poor:  22:16.

-Reasons for poverty: 11:24; 13:18; 20:13; 23:21; 24:34; 28:19; 28:22.

Financial principles in Ecclesiastes. 

Despite the fact that Solomon–the author of Ecclesiastes–had great riches, he found them to be meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2:8-15).  Read chapter 2 for his exhortation on the meaninglessness of riches apart from God.  He acknowledges God as the source of wealth and of any joy that one might gain through riches (Ecclesiastes 5:19). In chapter 5 verses 4-5, Solomon emphasizes the importance of keeping vows made to God–which, of course,  includes financial vows.  He observes that one who loves money never has enough of it.   He also presents the concept that the wicked store up wealth for the righteous (Ecclesiastes 2:26) and that if you give to others, in due time you will receive (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

Financial principles in the prophetic books.

Isaiah:

Providing for the poor is important to God, so you are blessed when you give to  the  poor: 1:23;10:1-2; 41:17-20; 58:7.

Jeremiah:

Do not glory in riches: 9:23.

Pay fair wages: 22:13.

A promise of restoration: 33:10-11.

Do not oppress the poor: 18:17.

Ezekiel:

Divine restoration is promised: 1:17.

Hosea:

If you sow to the wind, you will reap the whirlwind: 6:6.

God does not bless dishonesty:  12:7.

Joel:

Divine restoration is promised: 2:25-27.

Amos:

Divine restoration is promised: 9:11.

A tremendous end-time harvest will occur: 9:13.

Jonah:

Divine provision was evident–even for God’s errant prophet: 1:17; 3:6-7.

Micah:

Do not defraud others: 2:1-2.

Ill-gotten gains will not last: 4:13b.

Habakkuk:

Stealing and extortion is forbidden: 2:6-7.

Haggai:

Priority should be given to the work of the Lord:  1:5-11.

God blesses you financially from the moment you begin to obey His Word: 1:18-19.

Malachi:

Do not offer blemished sacrifices: 1:9,11.

Pay workers a fair wage: 3:5.

Do not rob God by refusing to pay tithes:  3:7-12.

Some extravagant givers in the New Testament.

-The wise men. They gave valuable gifts to Christ (Matthew 2:9-12).

-Anointing women. Each of the gospels reports a story of a woman who worshiped Jesus by anointing Him with expensive fragrances. Read these accounts in Luke 7:36-50; Matthew 26:6-13;  Mark 14:3-9;  and John 12:1-11. What extravagant gift can you give to God?  For sure, you can offer sacrifices of praise and worship.  Don’t let your giving become routine.  Give as an act of worship.

-Generous women.These women offered hospitality to Jesus and His disciples during His earthly ministry: Luke 8:1-3 and 19:38-42 and John 11:1-45 and 12:1-12.

-Joseph and Nicodemus.   Matthew 27:57 introduces a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who was Jesus’ disciple.” Mark 15:42-47 and Luke 23:50-54 describe Joseph’s visit to Pilate, his request for Christ’s body, and the gift of his own tomb for His burial. John 19:38-40 indicates that Joseph was helped by Nicodemus, who gave 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes for embalming the Lord’s body.

-Zacchaeus.  Read his story in Luke 19.  Financial restoration to those he had cheated was the first response of this dishonest tax collector after he came to Jesus.  Is there restoration you need to make to others in order to be blessed financially?

-A small boy with a small lunch. The boy in John 6 gave what he had and a multitude was fed. What do you have that you can give to God to be supernaturally multiplied?

-The poor widow. This lady is one of the greatest biblical givers.  We do not know her name, but her story is recorded in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4.  She gave all she had!

-Luke’s commendations to extravagant givers. John the Baptist (Luke 3:10-11); the Capernaum centurion (Luke 7:5-6); Joanna and Susanna (Luke 8:1-3); the good Samaritan (10:25-37);  Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8-10); the widow (Luke 21:1-4); and Joseph (Luke 23:50-54)  How would Luke view your generosity?

Financial Principles In The Book Of Acts.

In Acts chapter 2,  new believers in the first church manifested immediate changes in their financial practices and made giving central to their lives (Acts 2:42-45). Acts 4:32-37 describes the believers’ generosity.  In Acts 9:36-39, Luke describes Dorcas as a giving person.  Cornelius was introduced in Acts 10:1-2 as one who… “gave much alms to the people”  and in Acts 16:15 a woman named Lydia gave hospitality to Paul and Silas.

Acts 5:1-11 tells the story of a man and his wife who gave deceitfully and suffered severe judgment for doing so.  Acts 8:18-24 records the story of a man who thought he could buy the gifts of God with money and learned it cannot be done.

Acts 11:27-30 records an important development in giving. Barnabas and Saul were teaching Gentile believers in Syrian Antioch when some prophets visited them and told of a famine that was to come.

Acts 20:35 emphasizes the teaching of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Financial principles in the Epistles.

Romans.

-One who works is worthy of his wages: 4:4.

-God, who gave His Son, will graciously give you all things: 8:32.

-The greatest gift you can give to God is to present your body a living sacrifice: 12:1-2.

-When you give, do it liberally: 12:8.

-Owe nothing to anyone: 13:8.

-The early church cared for the poor, as you should also: 15:25-27.

1 Corinthians.

-You already have all you need and are rich in Christ: 4:8.

-You should work hard with your own hands: 4:12.

-Those who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel–a minister can be supported by the church:  9:14.

-You should offer the gospel free of charge: 9:18.

-Each believer should give tithes and offerings in keeping with their income: 16:1-2.

2 Corinthians.

-The command not to be yoked together with unbelievers applies to business associates as well as other relationships: 6:14.

-Generosity is encouraged: 8:1-12.

-Jesus became poor that you might become rich: 8:9.

-You should give willingly: 8:12.

-Believers should help one another when in need: 8:13-15.

-If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly: 9:6.

-Believers should purpose in their hearts what to give and give cheerfully, rather than grudgingly or out of  necessity because they have to do so: 9:7.

-God wants you to abound in all things at all times so that you can accomplish good works: 9:8-9.

-God supplies your need so that you can sow more seed and reap a harvest so you can sow again: 9:10.

-God wants you to be made rich in every way so you can be generous and through your generosity God will be      glorified: 9:11-13l.

Galatians.

-Paul remembered the poor, as should we: 2:10.

-You reap what you sow: 6:6-9.

-You should not grow weary in sowing: 6:9-10.

Ephesians.

-As a believer, you are blessed with spiritual blessings: 1:3.

-You have unsearchable riches in Christ: 3:8.

-He is able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or think according to the power within you:  3:20.

Philippians.

-Worldly profit is viewed as loss to a believer:  3:7-11.

-The Philippians gave to Paul, who mentored them in the faith.  You should give to those who mentor you in the faith as well: 4:14-17.

-Believers may experience times of need as well as plenty, but God ultimately supplies your needs: 4:11-12.

-The secret in any circumstance is to be content with what you have:  4:12.

-Your offerings are a sweet-smelling scent before God: 4:18.

Colossians.

-You have immense riches through Jesus Christ: 2:2-3.

-Avoid greed, which is actually idolatry: 3:5.

-Whatever you do, you should do it as if you are working for the Lord instead of men, for it is

from  Him you will receive your reward: 23-24.

1 Thessalonians.

-Paul worked with his own hands in order not to be a burden to anyone while he preached the Gospel.  There may be times that it is necessary for you to do this also: 1:9; 4:11.

2 Thessalonians.

-Paul worked with his own hands while sharing the gospel, so as not to be a burden on the people to whom he was ministering: 3:8-9.

-If a person does not work, he should not eat: 3:10.

-You must earn the bread which you eat: 3:12.

1 Timothy.

-You should not be a lover of money: 3:3.

-You should not pursue dishonest gain: 3:8.

-If a person does not provide for his family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an

unbeliever: 5:8.

-Believers should help widows in their family: 5:16.

-The church should help widows in need who do not have family to help them: 5:16.

-Workers are worthy of their wages: 5:17-18.

-Godliness with contentment is great gain:  6:6.

-You brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out of it: 6:7.

-You should be content with having your basic needs met–food and clothing: 6:8.

-People who pursue riches often fall into traps: 6:9.

-The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil: 6:10.

-The love of money has caused some to wander from the faith and experience much grief: 6:6-10.

-Those who are rich should not trust in their riches, but they should invest in eternity: 6:17.

-Those who are rich should be generous and willing to share:  6:18.

-You lay up treasures in heaven when you give to others: 6:19.

2 Timothy.

-In the last days, people will love money more than they love God: 3:2.

-Have nothing to do with those who love money: 3:5.

Philemon.

-God uses us to meet the needs of others: 1:18.

Hebrews. 

-Tithing was instituted when Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek: 7:1-10.

-If your heart is not set on riches, the “spoiling of your goods” will not affect your faith in God:

10:34-35.

-Men and women of faith from biblical history are listed in Hebrews 11.  They all are givers,having given up something, performed dangerous tasks for the Lord at personal risk, and/or laid down their lives as martyrs.  The greatest gift you can give is to offer your life to Jesus Christ to fulfill His purposes:  Hebrews 11.

-You should continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God.  It is not a sacrifice when everything is

going well.  It is a sacrifice when you are struggling with difficult circumstances: 13:15.

-God equips you with divine provision so that He can work in you and through you: 13:21.

James. 

-God generously gives wisdom to govern every aspect of our lives–including finances: 1:5-7.

-You cannot be double-minded and expect to receive anything from God: 1:7.

-You should not show partiality to the rich: 2:1-9.

-Giving necessities is a good work of faith: 2:15-16.

-If you ask and do not receive, perhaps it is because you have a wrong motive: 4:2-3.

-You should guard against divisions that arise out of covetousness and  materialistic desires: 4:1-3.

-The rich should not horde, withhold fair wages, live in luxury, or be unjust: 5:1-6.

1 John.

-The Father’s lavish love for us is one of His greatest gifts: 3:1.

3 John. 

-John’s prayer for believers was that they would prosper and be in good health even as their soul

prospered. God wants you to prosper in every area of your life–body, soul, and spirit: 3:2.

Jude.

-The gift of divine preservation will keep you from falling and present you faultless in the presence of the Lord:  1:24.

Financial principles in the book of Revelation.

-The church at Laodicea is chided by God for trusting in their riches.  They did not recognize their spiritual poverty.  True riches come from God: 3:17-18.

-“Hurt not the oil and the wine.”  The oil is a type of the Holy Spirit and the wine is a type of Christ’s blood.  The command here is to not touch God’s people with the end-time economic chaos that is caused by the rider on the black horse: 6:6.

-God will create all things new–a new heaven and a new earth–and give this lavish gift and eternal life to His people:  Chapter 21.

Summary of Biblical financial principles.  To get the full benefit of this summary, look up each reference in your Bible and read the entire passage.  This will enable you to study each teaching within the context it was given.

Asking:

-Ask, and you shall receive: Luke 11:9-10.

-Your Heavenly Father always responds to your appeals: Matthew 7:7-12; Luke 11:5-18.

Covetousness:

-Covetousness is sin: Mark 7:21.

-You should beware of covetousness:  Luke 12:15.

-Be content with your wages:  Luke 3:14.

Fairness:

-The Father is fair in bestowing rewards to His servants:  Matthew 20:1-13.

-Those who experience true change in their lives will set their finances in order.  Zacchaeus, the   

  tax collector, is an example:  Luke 19:1-9.

Financial planning:

-Plan wisely before you begin a project so you know that you have sufficient funds to finish it:  Luke 14:28-30.

-God expects you to be a good financial manager.  See the parable of the good manager:   Luke 16:1-12.

Forgiving debt:

-You should be merciful and forgive others their debts, even as you have been forgiven.  The   parable of the unmerciful servant:  Matthew 18:21-35.

Giving:

-Do not give to be seen by others:  Matthew 6:1-4.

-Store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth: Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:32-34.

-When you give what you have, God multiplies it:  Matthew 14:13-21; 15:29-38; Mark 6:30-44;   

  8:1-21;  Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-13.

-Whatever you give up to follow God, you will receive it multiplied back to you in this life and

  in eternity:  Matthew 19:27-29; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:28-30.

-Jesus takes note of your giving.  The widow who gave all: Mark 12:41-43; Luke 21:1-4.  The

  extravagant gift from Mary: John12:3-8.

-Give to those who ask of you: Matthew 5:42;  Luke 6:30.

-You are to help those who are suffering, even as the good Samaritan did:  Luke 10:25-37.

-The smallest act of giving does not go unnoticed:  Matthew 10:42.

-Give and it will be given to you in abundance:  Luke 6:38.

-When you give to those in need, you are giving to the Lord:  Matthew 25:35-45.

-Giving does not absolve you of keeping the other laws of God: Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:10-14.

-You should give alms (offerings to the poor) based upon what you have:  Luke 11:41.

-Give to the poor: Luke 14:12-14.

Hindrances to giving and receiving:

-If you have anything in your heart between you and a brother or sister, make it right before presenting your gifts to God:  Matthew 5:23-24.

Possessions:

-Your life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things you possess:  Luke 12:15,23.

-Own your possessions, don’t let your possessions own you:  Mark 10:17-27.

Priorities in regards to money:

-Following the Lord, not money, must be your priority. The rich young ruler:  Matthew 19:16-

  22; Luke 18:18-27.

-God’s house should be a house of prayer, not merchandising:  Mark 11:15-17; John 2:13-16.

-Your eternal destiny is more important than amassed riches.  The rich fool:  Luke 12:13-21 and the rich man and Lazarus:  Luke 16:19-31.

-Seek first God’s kingdom, and all other things will be added to you:  Luke 12:31.

Riches–their danger:

-It is difficult for rich people to be saved when they trust in their wealth: Matthew 19:23-26;  Mark 10:23-27.

-You should guard against the deceitfulness of riches:  Mark 4:19.

Stewardship:

-If you are not a good steward, what you have will be given to others: Matthew 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 19:11-26; 20:9-16.

-God has given you talents, spiritual gifts, and finances for which you will be held responsible  when Jesus returns:  Matthew 24:45-51;  25:14-30; Mark 13:34-37; Luke 14:42-48; 16:1-12.

Taxes:

-You should pay your taxes:  Matthew 22:19-21; 17:24-26.

-Give to the government what is required and give to God what is His:  Matthew 22:16-23;  Luke 20:20-26.

Theft:

-Theft is a sin: Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21-23.

-You should not steal: Matthew 19:17-18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Trust in God’s provision:

-Do not worry about food, clothing, etc, because God will take care of you:  Matthew 6:25-34;Luke 12:6-7; 22-31.

-Seek first God’s Kingdom, and all else will be provided:  Luke 12:31.

-Don’t be limited by your own resources but trust in God’s provision: Luke 22:35.

Work:

-When you do your work God’s way, supernatural multiplication occurs: Luke 5:4-11;   John 21:1-6.

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

Fear

FEAR

 

DEFINITIONFear is a sense of alarm or apprehension of danger.  For a believer, fear is an expression of unbelief in God or a lack of understanding of His ways.

FACTS ABOUT FEAR:

All fear is not bad.  The “fight or flight” response that is common to all people is not negative.   “Fight or flight” is a normal response that protects you in the face of perceived danger.  For example, if you are threatened by a dangerous beast your “fight or flight” response will kick in so you can either escape or successfully confront the animal.  This is a rational response to danger that differs from irrational and tormenting fears.

Fear was first manifested when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.  When God came seeking them in the cool of the day, Adam replied:  “…I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid…” (Genesis 3:10).  One of the first negative emotion  resulting from sin was fear.

Fear is a spirit.  The Bible declares that God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  If the spirit of fear is not from God, then it is from Satan.

Fear is a tormenting emotion  According to 1 John 4:18, fear has torment.

Fear fosters irrational phobias and negative emotions.  Its most severe manifestations causes people to withdraw from society and become agoraphobics–confined in their own home where they think they are safe.  The spirit of fear will make you a slave to fear (Romans 8:15-16).

Medical science has proven that fear results in stress, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. The Bible speaks of men’s hearts failing because of fear (Luke 21:26) and of people living in bondage all of their lives because of the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).

Fear is sin and leads to other sins.  You are either functioning in fear or in faith, and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).  There are numerous biblical examples of fear leading to additional sins. Abraham was so afraid of Abimelech that he lied to save his own life, saying Sarah was his sister (Genesis 20:1-13).  Isaac feared for his life and committed the same sin (Genesis 26:7).   Ten of the twelve spies who investigated the promised land were terrified of the giants and their fear resulted in Israel’s disobedience and the death of a whole generation (Numbers 13).   Saul tried to murder David because he feared him (1 Samuel 18:12,15,29) and later Saul sinned by offering a burnt offering because he feared the people would scatter (1 Samuel 13:11-12).  Acting in fear cost Saul the kingdom.  What will fear cost you?

Fear focuses on the future–whether it be today, tomorrow, or in the distant future.  God designed the universe to run on a 24-hour period of time.  That is why the prayer Jesus taught His disciples was to be a daily prayer for needs to be provided, forgiveness, etc.  Fear enters in when you violate this principle and begin to worry about the future (Matthew 6:25-34).

DEALING WITH  FEAR:

Ask yourself, “Why am I so fearful?”  Jesus asked His disciples this question (Mark 4:40).

Deal with fear spiritually.  Because most fear is irrational, it cannot be dealt with through rational means.  Fear must be dealt with spiritually.  David said:  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Repent of fear.  Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).  Fear is not faith, so it is sin.   When you fear, you are functioning in unbelief–not trusting God to care for you and your concerns,

Make your fears a matter of prayer.  When David sought the Lord, he was delivered from all of his fears (Psalm 34:4).  Philippians 4:6-7 directs us to make every concern a matter of prayer instead of worrying, and we will function in God’s peace instead of fear.

Focus on God instead of the fear.  Isaiah 26:3 promises: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”   David said he sought the Lord, and He delivered him from all of His fear (Psalm 34:4).

Do not fear the future.  Claim God’s promise instead:  “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).

Eliminate things that feed your fear.  These include scare tactics generated by others and media violence viewed through news reports, horror movies, the Internet, or violent video games.

Overcome fear by God’s power, His love, and a sound mind.  These are the keys given in 2 Timothy 1:7:  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.   

You overcome fear by:

-Power.  Jesus delegated to believers power over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).  Face your fears in the power of the promises of God.

-Love. You eliminate fear by really coming to understand the love of God.  His perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:16-18).

-A sound mind.  Irrational fear is just that:  Not rational.  It is the result of  irrational          thinking, so you cannot deal with fear by trying to be rational.  You must develop a sound mind that cannot be tormented by fear (Romans 12:1-2).  You do this by living by the Spirit rather than by the flesh (Romans 8:5-6). Fear begins in the mind, and it is in the mind where you must conquer it.  Fear is a battle that starts with lies instigated by the god of this world and the father of lies, Satan (John 8:44). This is why the scriptures direct you to cast down vain imaginations.  “Cast down” means to conquer, pull down, and hold under one’s power.  The word “imaginations” means logic.  Your mind can develop strongholds that result from logical reasoning.  A sound mind is one controlled by the Holy Spirit, rather than the logic of your own carnal mind. (For further study of the battle of the mind, consult the Harvestime publication entitled “Spiritual Strategies: A Manual Of Spiritual Warfare.”  See also  “Mind And Thoughts” in this database.)

Do not play the “what if” game.  “What if this happens, what if that happens?”  The power to face difficult situations is given when it is needed, not when you are worrying over the future  (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Reject the fear of death.  The fear of death is a major issue for many people (Hebrews 2:15).  True believers need not fear death, because when you vacate your body you will immediately be in the presence of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:8).  The Apostle Paul said that to die would be gain (Philippians 1:21).  Peter refers to death as putting off an earthly tabernacle (2 Peter 1:14).  David wrote:  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me ” (Psalm 23:4).  When Jesus returns, you will be reunited with your loved ones (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Make this declaration daily.  “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.  In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me ..In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me”  (Psalm 56:3-4,11).

Be of good courage.  Courage is not the absence of fear, rather it is acting and persevering in spite of fear. God repeatedly told His people to be of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:6-7,23; Joshua 1:6,9,18; Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 28:20).   The psalmist said if you wait on the Lord and are of good courage you will receive the strength  you need to face the difficulties of life (Psalm 27:14; 32:24).

Praise the Lord in the face of fear.  David did so and God delivered him from all of his fears (Psalm 34:1-4).

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT FEAR:

The Bible is filled with references about fear–so many that we cannot include them all.  Use a concordance to study the subject of “fear” in the Bible.  Here are some key selected references.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.”  (Exodus 14:13)

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)

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life –of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.  Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.   I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:1-4)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3)

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3-4)

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,  nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,  but it will not come near you.  (Psalm 91:5-7)

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

The Lord watches over all who love him. (Psalm 145:20)

…but whoever listens to me will live in safety  and be at ease, without fear of harm.(Proverbs 1:33)

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

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. (Isaiah 12:2)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear, your God will come.” (Isaiah 35:3-4)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

“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)

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 6:31-34)

You of little faith, why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  (Matthew 10:28-31)

Don’t be afraid; just believe. (Mark 5:36)

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 10:19)

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]  (John 14:27, AMP)

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,  Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  (Romans 8:15-16)

… everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. (Philippians 1:27-28)

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)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15).

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).

The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. (Hebrews 13:6)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4, NKJV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 1:18, NKJV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.  (Revelation 2:10)

(See also “Anxiety” in this database.)

Fasting

FASTING

 

DEFINITIONFasting is the willing abstinence from or the reduction of food, drink, or both for a period of time.

FACTS ABOUT FASTING:

The purpose of fasting.  Fasting does not change God. It changes you. God relates to you on the basis of your relationship to Him. When you change, then the way God deals with you is affected.  Read the book of Jonah for an example of how this worked for the city of Ninevah.

There are two types of fasts.  The total fast is when you do not eat or drink at all. An example of this is found in Acts 9:9. The partial fast is a restricted diet. An example of this is in Daniel 10:3.

Public and private fasting.  Fasting is a personal matter between an individual and God.  It is to be done in private and not boasted about (Matthew 6:16-18).  Leaders, however,  may also call a public fast and request the whole church to fast (Joel 2:15).

God’s chosen fast.  Isaiah 58 describes God’s “chosen” or divinely approved fast. God’s chosen fast is one:

-Where you humble yourself before God: Verse 5

-To loose the bonds of wickedness: Verse 6

-Which undoes heavy burdens: Verse 6

-That frees the oppressed: Verse 6

-Done with unselfish motives and manifested charity: Verse 7

The results of fasting.  When you fast, God begins to reveal Himself to you.  The Father says, “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, `Here am I'” (Isaiah 58:9).  Other results of fasting revealed in Isaiah 58 are:

-Illumination:  Verses 8 and 10 declare that the dark periods of your life will become like noonday.  When others think they have extinguished your spiritual light, it will rise again and break forth like the morning.

-Direction: Verse 11 promises that  “the Lord will guide you continually.”

-Provision: Verse 11 declares God will “satisfy your soul in drought.”  This can apply to both material and spiritually lean times. Verse 11 also describes unlimited spiritual resources. You will be like a “well watered garden,” and “a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

-Rejuvenation: Verse 11 declares God will “strengthen your bones” and verse 8 proclaims that “your healing shall spring forth speedily.”

-Restoration:  Verse 12 indicates that you and your spiritual seed “shall build the old waste places…raise up the foundations of many generations…And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”

Prayer with fasting was practiced in the early Church  and Paul encourages us to “give ourselves” to it (Acts 14:23; 1 Corinthians 7:5).

DEALING WITH  FASTING:

Consider making fasting part of your spiritual discipline.  Perhaps a weekly, monthly, or annual fast–or as the Lord leads you.

Length of the fast.  How long you fast depends upon what God impresses on your spirit. He may lead you to fast a brief or lengthy time. Remember the story of Esau and Jacob? Jacob was originally making a meal for himself but denied himself in order to obtain the birthright. How much better if Esau had fasted that meal!

How to begin.  If you have never fasted, start by fasting one meal. Next you might try fasting from sundown one day to sundown the next night, which is the measure of the Old Testament day.  Then you might increase your fasting to more lengthy periods of time. You should always drink water on long fasts. You can go without food for long periods, but water is needed to maintain bodily functions.

 

WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT FASTING:

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. (2 Chronicles 20:3)

I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.  (Job 23:12)

Study Isaiah 58 which reveals God’s Chosen Fast.

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.  (Ezra 8:23)

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.  (Daniel 9:3)

The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth… When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.  (Jonah 3:5 and 10)

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.  (Joel 1:14)

“Even now,’ declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”  (Joel 2:12-13)

Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.  (Joel 1:14)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  (Matthew 4:1-2)

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.  (Acts 13:2-3)

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.  (Acts 14:23)

Study these Biblical examples of fasting.

-Abraham’s servant fasted while seeking the right bride for Isaac (Genesis 24:33).

-Moses fasted for 40 days and nights while receiving the revelations of the law and the tabernacle (Exodus 34).

-Hannah fasted for a child (2 Samuel 1:7-8).

-Nehemiah fasted for the restoration of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4).

-The Jews fasted for deliverance following Haman’s evil decree of death (Esther 4).

-The entire city of Ninevah fasted in response to Jonah’s call for repentance (Jonah 3:5-10).

-David fasted prior to assuming his God-given destiny as King of Israel (1 Samuel 31).

-Daniel fasted for 21 days and received the message from God that was the turning point for the Hebrews in captivity.

-Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast prior to battle (2 Chronicles 20:3).

-Ezra called a fast of repentance for the exiles by the river Ahava (Ezra 8-9).

-Jesus fasted prior to entering His ministry (Matthew 4).

-The Apostle Paul fasted after his conversion (Acts 9).

-It was during a time of fasting that Peter received his commission to share the Gospel with the Gentiles and Cornelius was prepared to receive the revelation (Acts 10).

-The disciples were fasting and praying when the Holy Spirit separated Paul and Barnabas for missionary service (Acts 13:2).

Reasons for fasting.

-In response to a message from God: Jonah 3:5

-During times of  testing: Luke 4:1

-During the threat of national calamity or war: 2 Chronicles 20:3

-When revelation was needed from God: Daniel 9:3-4

-When making decisions: Acts 13:2-3

-When making special requests before authorities: Esther 4:16

-To prepare for confrontation with demonic activity: Mark 9:29

-To humble one’s self: Psalms 35:13; 69:10

-To repent of sin: Joel 2:12

-To feed the poor, both physically and spiritually:Isaiah 58:7

-To be heard of God: 2 Samuel 12:16,22; Jonah 3:5,10

-To loose bands of wickedness, lift heavy burdens, set the oppressed free, and break every bondage: Isaiah 58:6