Don’t Give Up

Don’t Give Up

Don't Give Up!

My Dear Friends,

So many are giving up and giving in to despondency, discouragement, disappointment and depression. It is evident in their general “I don’t care attitude” resulting from a mistaken belief that what they are doing really doesn’t make any difference in life any way. This sense of failure is often the result of trying and praying only to have their expectations not met.

Life is a journey in which we frequently find ourselves sliding off the paths before us. It would be so easy just to lie there and give up. Many find themselves in situations where fear, failure, and frustration have paralyzed them until they have lost all desire to go on. How we need to hear what Jesus is saying to us at this moment when He says, “Arise, let us go on” (John 14:31).

There are so many things that can cause us to slide off the straight and narrow path of life. We must let Jesus, who has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), guide and direct us each and every moment. Disappointment, sickness,

or the death of a loved one can cause us to slide off the path of life to the extent that we feel like giving up. As we make this journey, we must never forget we are not alone. The wonders of creation are a constant reminder of God, the Creator who is forever with us. The Bible is the Living Word, which reveals to us a Savior who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

Paul, a man whose life was a slippery journey until he came face to face with the Living Christ, declared, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3: 7, 8).

Knowing about Christ is quite different from knowing Him. There are many great theologians who know a lot about Him but in a time of crisis or personal loss, they totally crumble because they don’t really know Him.

The Prophet Habakkuk, because he really knew the Lord, did not slide off the path of life. He not only declared in Hab.2:4, “The righteous will live by his faith,” but he also went on in chapter 3 verses 17-19 to show us how this is applied in times of difficulty. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He make my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”

Knowing God’s grace, love and power manifested through Jesus Christ and the wonders of creation enables us to not only stand firm but go on to new heights. In the Revised Standard Version, Daniel 11:32 states, “The people that know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Instead of slipping and sliding down the road of life, those who know God will stand firm, not paralyzed, by fear or frustration but posed for direct action.

In the book of Daniel we see how Daniel and his three friends, even when moved as captives to a foreign land, did not slip into depression but rose above their circumstances to do a mighty work for God. They prayed trusting God, and were delivered from the fiery furnace, the lion’s den and the tyranny of the age in which they lived. In the midst of adversity Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego and Daniel were fully persuaded that God had everything under control.

Psalm 40:1, 2 tells us what it means to know God and to be delivered from the slimy pits that we find ourselves all to frequently sliding into. “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Jesus is our solid rock. As we stand upon His word, He gives us a firm place to stand in this slipping age of greed and corruption.

Psalm 40:3-5 tells us the result of trusting in the Lord. “Blessed is the man (and the woman) who makes the Lord his (or her) trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”

Knowing God involves first humbling ourselves and honestly admitting how much we need Him and His direction in our daily lives. “This is what the LORD says: “The wise man is not to boast in his wisdom; the strong man is not to boast in his strength; and the rich man is not to boast in his riches. Rather, let the one who boasts, boast in this: that he understands and knows me, for I am the LORD who acts with gracious love, justice, and righteousness in the land. I delight in these things,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23 ISV).

God made it possible for us to know Him by sending His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world (John 3:16). For that reason Jesus could declare “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:6, 7).

Knowing the Lord allows us to see ourselves the way God sees us. We believe it when the Bible says, “The Lord is with you O valiant warrior,” (Judges 6:12).

Yes, you may have made mistakes in the past, but thanks be to God who through Jesus provides forgiveness of sins and the hope of a new beginning. It is a new day and God desires to do a new and powerful work in you and through you. Don’t give up. Stand steadfast and stop allowing your weaknesses and insecurities of the past to keep you from the greatness God is calling you to this day.

The Lord has said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” Now develop the same attitude that Paul did as he continues in 2 Cor.12:9, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.”

You don’t have to keep beating up on yourself every time you give in to that nasty habit that you are struggling with. Instead, further surrender that area of your life to Jesus Christ and pray, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Ps.17:8).

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph.6:14-15).

Stand steadfast as the scriptures say. Don’t give up but remember, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph.2:10).

You may not feel at this moment that you are God’s workmanship, created in His image. Maybe you even feel trapped in a rut, but there is hope. Christ is risen! Say to yourself at this moment, “God has lifted me out of the horrible pit, and He set my feet upon a rock and put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:2-3).

Let God put a new song of praise in your mouth today and fill your life with hope. He wants you to know He loves you more than you can ever imagine. “For God so loved the world,” (means you and me) “that He gave His only begotten Son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Right now you have a choice for “It shall be done to you according to your faith” (Matt.9:29). If you expect this year defeat, failure and mediocrity, that is what you will get. Or you can remember that it is just as easy to believe God for strength, success and victory, knowing that God has everything under control and that He loves you and wants His best for you.

The reason you can believe God for His best for your life is because you have dedicated your life to Him. You desire to serve Him, reaching out to those in need, sharing His love with others. Take God at His word and make Phil.1:6 personal by declaring, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

When we see that, with each passing day, in spite of the circumstances God is perfecting His work within us, we are free to believe that, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

When we believe God is working for our good and we know we have been called according to His purpose of sharing His love in word and deed with others, we are free to believe God’s best for our lives. This doesn’t mean we will allow ourselves to be trapped in a greedy materialistic lifestyle, for we know God’s best far exceeds filthy lucre (money) as Jesus referred to it. God’s best frees us to live in His presence, knowing that God is working daily for our good in spite of the circumstances.

When we realize that God is at work in every situation, life becomes an adventure in faith. What is faith? “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”(Heb.11:1)

Now instead of believing the worst, choose to “taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”(Psalm 34:8)

This past year as New Life Evangelistic Center faced a mountain of financial need, I found myself itemizing these needs on a piece of paper and putting them in my Bible at Phil.4:19 where it says, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” When worry and uncertainty would strike, I found myself turning to that passage, knowing that God would meet that need.

Now I want to invite you to join me in accepting Jesus at His Word when He says, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13, 17) Let us ask Jesus now to work in us to share His love by reopening the 1411 Locust building. Then we could once again provide from that location help for the homeless, food to the hungry, and good news of the eternal life Jesus has provided through His death and resurrection.

Now “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb.12:1, 2). Don’t give up. Give God 100% by doing your very best on every job He has given you. Your efforts for good do make a difference. Your labor is not in vain.

At this hour our Lord is telling us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Yours in Christ,

Overcoming Fear with Songs of Hope

Overcoming Fear with Songs of Hope

Dear Friend,

During the last five months of 2014 we saw the world focused on Ferguson and St. Louis.  Right before Thanksgiving national headlines read like a war correspondent’s report.  Fear had gripped the community.  People were afraid before Christmas to shop in the malls least they be confronted by protestors and reminded of the sins of racism which had festered for years in the hearts and minds of many.

If we are going to stop this disease from destroying our community and our lives, we must ask God to root out the cancer of fear which feeds racism daily. The only cure for this cancer of fear is 1 John4:18 which says “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fears.”

The fact is if we truly believe that we are loved, we will experience the powerful antidote to the poison of fear.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believeth in him shall not perish but have life everlasting” (John 3:16).  It is His love which frees us to live a life of faith and love that is not paralyzed by fear.

Because, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,” we can sing the songs of hope on the coldest, most fear filled nights that life may throw at us.  Not only does God proclaim, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), but He also demonstrated it through sending His Son, Jesus Christ into the world.  Jesus, through His death on the cross, personally revealed…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Overcoming Fear with Songs of Hope

Don’t Miss Jesus for the Manger

Don’t Miss Jesus for the Manger

Dear Friends,
It takes great faith to be obedient to God when you are unsure of yourself. None of us can say with certainty how our obedient actions will be understood and interpreted in days to come. We can want more than anything to be understood, accepted, loved, and welcomed by others. This often gets in the way of being obedient to God. During the seasons of Advent, Christmas,and Epiphany we can find wisdom to understand ourselves in God’s story from his servants in the Scriptures. Advent: means coming. We reflect on the prophecies ofthe Messiah and prepare ourselves for His Coming, not just in the Christmas season but for His Return. Christmas: A celebration of Christ’s birth. The fulfillment of prophecy. What we’ve prepared and waited for has arrived. Incarnation, Emmanuel: God with Us. The Shepherds are the first evangelists of Jesus’ birth. Epiphany: The Magi come and worship,Jesus revealed to all nations as King. People like Mary and Joseph,the unnamed shepherds,and the magi from the east. Over the next few months we are called to prepare ourselves for celebrating Jesus’ birth. Let’s ask for God’s help now.

Heavenly Father,

In me there is darkness,But with you there is light; I am lonely,but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness,but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways,but you know the way for me. {Dietrich Bonhoeffer,1943) Lord we pray you open our eyes to the seasons before us,that we might be prepared to rightly adore Jesus in celebration and to boldly proclaim Him in the New Year.

In the Name of Jesus we pray,Amen.

With the time that we have I’d like to take a bird’s eye look at the celebration of Christ’s coming,birth, and heralding that lies before us in the coming months. When we celebrate Christmas rightly, it comes with preparation. If Christmas is an annual event in your life you might be tempted to accept it as the crowning of the Consumer Price Index rather than as the fulfillment of prophecy that Christ is here…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Don’t miss Jesus for the Manager

Touching a Hurting World

Touching a Hurting World

Dear Friend,

As we think about Christmas, pictures of angels, wise men, a baby in a manger, and other images come to mind.  How we long for the peace on earth spoken of by the angels at that first Christmas.

The reality of this Christmas this year is anything but peaceful.  In fact, the reality we are presently facing more closely parallels that described in Rev. 12 than what we see in the first chapters of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

While Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the nativity events on earth, Rev. 12 tells us what is taking place in heaven as the Christ Child is born.  Verses 7-10 state, “and war broke out in heaven:  Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in Heaven any longer.  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, he was cast to earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  Then I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, “Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God, has been cast down.”

Realizing what was happening in Heaven while the first nativity scene was unfolding on earth helps us to put things in perspective as we read both the Bible and the daily news events.  It helps to understand why this Christmas…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Touching a Hurting World

Why We Need the Disturbing Voices of the Protestors

Why We Need the Disturbing Voices of the Protestors

Dear Friends,

As many of you know St. Louis is presently sitting on a powder keg. After the killing of Michael Brown, Aug. 9, 2014, by Officer Darren Wilson, people are taking to the streets expressing their anger in growing numbers. While this happens many in the church are praying for peace in their neighborhoods, not understanding that something much greater is needed and that is repentance resulting in justice.

The fact is there can be no peace without justice and there can be no justice without repentance. For that reason Jesus said over and over, “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance is a powerful theme throughout the Bible. It is not just about the admitting of wrongdoing but also committing to making changes that prevent further harm.

The Scriptures are filled with cries of the suffering, who are the disturbing voices in our affluent society. If we truly listen, these sounds of suffering can break through our walls of indifference enabling us to become the salt and light that Scripture speaks of. As discomforting as it may be…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Why We Need the Disturbing Voices of the Protestors

Something to Give

Something to Give

God gives each of us gifts right in that place where we feel weakest and most empty. All of our trials, understood rightly, can be used by God to transform us into people of worship and service. I have a friend who called me just yesterday, and his particular trial is physical, emotional, and spiritual. For many years he has struggled with his particular form of mental illness. He’s a very knowledgeable man, used to studying biblical history and theology. But his daily prayer is for God to simply help him cope with the trauma going on in his brain. He gets migraine headaches that cripple him for hours. He has panic attacks and anxieties that I can hardly understand. He has fitful periods of doubt, hurtful, mean-spirited, angry thoughts about God and bitterness toward people that eat at him.

I have stood beside him as he walked through a near suicidal period, followed by a hospitalization and then release after his decision to stop taking his medications. And as I listen and stand with him now, I realize that for my brother in Christ, every day is a testimony to me of the enduring grace of God. I ask him how…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Something to Give

Traveling the Highway of Life

Traveling the Highway of Life

Dear Friend,

The sun had just set, and darkness was spreading itself across the horizon as I approached the southern part of Dallas on highway 35. Suddenly, as if scattered by some truck weaving from lane to lane, large concrete blocks appeared on the highway. They looked like they were 2 ½ feet high and 2 feet wide. Although I swerved to avoid those in my immediate lane I knew impact had been made but was not aware to what extent.

As I moved down the highway I witnessed numerous disabled vehicles on the side of the road with their drivers standing outside their cars examining them.  Finally, after driving approximately fifteen miles, I pulled into a service station where I examined my own vehicle.  It was then that I noticed that a large plastic piece under the front bumper had been torn loose. Since it was a Sunday evening with no repair shops open all I could do was shove the detached piece back into place and continue on my journey throughout the night. Once I made it back to Missouri that piece was dragging to the point I had to remove it.

What I had encountered defied all human logic. My little car sits only six to eight inches off the ground. It was like the Hand of God, or a dozen angels, had literally lifted my car and myself up and over this obstacle with just the front belly of the car scraping the concrete block.

During the past week as I have encountered unexpected obstacles scattered across the highway of life, I have often thought about this experience on highway 35.  When it looked like a crash was certain it was so easy just to panic or radically turn to miss the obstacle or problem to the extent I crashed into someone by saying or doing something I shouldn’t have.

It is for that reason I couldn’t afford to just read II Timothy 1:7…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Traveling the Highway of Life”

Dealing with Anger

Dealing with Anger

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Anger is like a toxic waste.  Sooner or later it will come out.  When anger is turned inward, emotional exhaustion manifested as depression is often the result.

Eph.4:26, 27 gives us some very valuable steps for dealing with anger.  It states: “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

The first step in dealing with anger is to be honest and not deny your anger.  People usually relate to anger in one of two ways.  They are either intimidators or enablers.  The intimidator uses anger to intimidate, while the enabler keeps it all inside until an internal explosion has taken place.  Intimidators destroy other people with their anger, while enablers or internalizers destroy themselves and destroy other people by denying that anger exists when asked about it.  Eph.4:26 says: “Be angry but do not sin.”  In other words, you must be honest in admitting that you may be angry, but you may not have all the facts and, as a result, your anger may be on the wrong basis.  That is why Jesus said that if we had anything against anyone, we must go to them, one-on-one, and sort out the facts.

The second step we are given in verse 26 is to not sin in our anger.  We are not told never to get angry, nor are we told to feel guilty over our anger.  Instead we are told to not sin when we are angry. . .

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Dealing with Anger”

Naming Our Illusions

Naming Our Illusions

Dear Friends,

Each person is of extreme value and worth to God. There are no inferior human beings, for we are all His daughters and sons. Our texts today challenge us that there are people who cannot speak up, who cannot protect themselves, who are not protected. The Word of God challenges us to receive the truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for those people whose back is up against the wall. But are we, his people, willing to number ourselves among those who are wall-bruised?

Jesus proclaims freedom to the captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed, and Jubilee this year. Are we ready for all that? God is close to the broken hearted. The question is, are we close to the broken hearted?

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father,

We humble ourselves before you and come eager to hear from you. We thank you for freedom, for deliverance, for protection. We know that there are many who are less free, who are still bound, who need a voice, and the deliverance that all your children should enjoy. All that we need comes not from any earthly person or government, rather it comes from you. We pray your Kingdom come, your Will be done here on earth in us.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

What is sin?. . .

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Naming Our Illusions”

Starting the Day with the Inspiration and Wisdom of Two Powerful Letters

Starting the Day with the Inspiration and Wisdom of Two Powerful Letters

Dear Friends,

A few days ago I woke up feeling weak, worn, and weary. If that wasn’t enough, I discovered that while I was sleeping, a spider had bitten me on my right wrist.

It was one of those days where I had felt beaten even before I had climbed out of bed. I knew I couldn’t just lay there allowing a dark cloud of depression to settle over me, so I got up and grabbed my Bible and turned to the book of Ephesians.

This was actually one of two letters written to the church of Ephesus. One, the Book of Ephesians was written by Paul and the other by Jesus, is recorded in Rev. 2:1-7.

I didn’t have to read any further than verse 3 of Ephesians 1 to start getting my deflated, depressed spirit pumped back up again…

Click on the link to download and read the rest of this Bible Study: “Starting the Day with the Inspiration and Wisdom of Two Powerful Letters”