Daily Archives: August 19, 2019

August 19 Losing Your Peace

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:1–8

Key Verse: Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Our thoughts play a great role in the level of peace in our lives. When our minds are occupied with negative, nagging, and unproductive thoughts, we push peace away and invite anxiety and worry into our lives. Therefore, we must learn to recognize and replace negative thought patterns before they rob us of peace.

There are seven categories of thoughts that steal peace from us: sinful, negative, erroneous, unrealistic, rebellious, obsessive, and enslaved thoughts. Each category represents a different area in which Satan aims to establish a stronghold in our minds.

Whether you are plagued by one or several of these types of thoughts, it is important to properly extinguish the flames of their fiery path through your mind. Until they are put down, you will be unable to experience God’s gift of peace.

When these thoughts surface, first reach out to God in prayer. Confess that you are struggling with troublesome thoughts and ask Him to remove your burden. Then turn your mind’s energy to that which is positive, uplifting, and of God.

Philippians 4:8 encourages us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Allow God to quench your desire to ponder more negative concepts and ideas with positive thoughts of His plan for peace in your life.

Lord, keep me from bulldozing Your gift of peace into a corner when my spirit is driven by negative, nagging, and unproductive thoughts. Help me lift my thoughts to You.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 242). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 19 Living a Consistent Life

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14–21

Key Verse: Ephesians 3:16

He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.

Whether it has been several years or only a few days since you accepted Christ as your Savior, you can probably remember the dramatic changes that the Lord began to work in your life. It may even be difficult to comprehend all that you said and did before because your heart is so different now.

Paul described this as a literal night-and-day change in your very being, personhood, and identity: “This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God” (Eph. 4:17–18 nasb).

You now live in the light and are Christ’s new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). From darkness to light, you moved in a new direction full of hope and the promise of being made over in Christ’s image day by day.

What all believers face on occasion, however, is the roller-coaster feeling of spiritual inconsistency. One day you feel so close to the Lord, you could tell everyone about learning to abide in Him. The next day you struggle so much with basic sins, you wonder how the Lord will ever use you. Are you still a new creation? Absolutely.

You will continue to grow in Him for the rest of your life, and as you mature, the Lord smoothes out the rough places with His love.

O God, I want to get off the roller coaster of spiritual inconsistency. Let the reality that I am a new creation, growing and maturing in You, smooth out the rough places in my life.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 242). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Is God still “mad” at you? | Enjoying God Blog

I couldn’t help but sit up and take note when I read that “popular Texas megachurch pastor and author Robert Morris preached before hundreds of inmates at the state’s largest prison last week, assuring [them] that God is not ‘mad’ at them.”

According to the article on The Christian Post, “The H.H. Coffield Unit in Anderson County houses over 4,000 inmates in East Texas. Since the Southlake-based church opened up its Coffield Campus last November, hundreds of inmates have attended the service and over 1,000 have made decisions for Christ. At least 439 men gathered for the Gateway Coffield service held last Wednesday expecting to hear a sermon from the campus pastor, Stephen Wilson. However, they were excited when Morris appeared on stage. They greeted him with an ovation.”

Let me be clear about one thing. That Robert Morris and his church have reached out in this way to the inmates of this prison is wonderful. I can’t imagine anyone would object to this ministry. Would that other churches would follow suit.

But is it really the case that “God is not ‘mad’ at them”? One thing is certain. If they are born-again believers in Jesus Christ, Morris is right. God is not mad at them. The Apostle Paul couldn’t have stated it with greater clarity or force when he said in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The key here is that the reassurance of “no condemnation” is for those “who are in Christ Jesus.” Perhaps Morris made this point in his message. Perhaps he was careful to point out that this glorious truth applies only to those who have trusted in Christ as Lord and Savior. I don’t know what he said in the remainder of his message. Perhaps he told the crowd that God’s holy and righteous anger is directed only toward those who have refused the good news of the gospel. I hope that was the case.

But if not, it is potentially misleading to tell an entire crowd of men, whether prisoners or those who attend church on a Sunday morning, that God is not “mad” at them. Of course, the word “mad” is itself a poor way to express the anger that God has toward idolaters and unrepentant fornicators (only two among the many sins that provoke God’s anger). “Mad” suggests a petulant, short-tempered hot-head who flies off the handle whenever he is crossed. Perhaps we should speak of holy displeasure or righteous wrath.

That God is still angry and wrathful toward some, even many, is evident from numerous NT texts, such as John 3:36. Although we can’t be sure, it is most likely John the Baptist who said this:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

God’s anger or wrath or holy displeasure “remains” or “abides” or “continues” to weigh upon the man or woman who in disobedience spurns the gospel of Jesus Christ. Elsewhere the apostle speaks of those who are still “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” as being “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). We are the objects of a wrath that remains on us so long as we remain outside of Jesus Christ.

The good news of the gospel is that this “wrath” has been poured out on Jesus in our place. Praise God that Jesus Christ willingly, voluntarily, and with joy submitted himself to serve as our penal substitute, satisfying the justice and wrath of God that we so richly deserved. For those who have embraced this truth as their only hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, it is gloriously true that God is not “mad” at them.

But can we know for certain that every man in that audience is a believer in Christ? That would seem unlikely. I’m sure that Pastor Morris knows this. And as I said, perhaps he made this clear to them in his message. And I applaud Morris for his desire to reassure the Christian men present that day that in spite of their criminal past, and in spite of their sinful present, God is no longer angry or mad at them, and that his wrath against them (and against us) has been forever removed, having been endured and extinguished in the body and soul of our substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So what is it that we must be careful to communicate to any group of individuals, male or female, whether in a prison or those sitting in a pew on a Sunday morning? It is the incomparably majestic truth that God’s wrath has been forever removed from those who have repented of their sins and put their trust and confidence entirely in the person and work of Jesus Christ. But we must be diligent to declare, with no less urgency, that those who remain disobedient to the Son “shall not see life.” Indeed, the “wrath” of God “remains” on them.

I hope that every man seated at that service in that prison is “in Christ Jesus.” I hope that each would truly rejoice in hearing it said that God is not “mad” at them. But is God “mad” at those who persist in unrepentant sin and hard-hearted unbelief? Yes, he is.

My prayer is that we would all be diligent to make clear both sides of this biblical truth.

Source: Is God still “mad” at you?

Seven Ways Young Christians Can Stay Strong in Their Faith at College | LifeZette

As millions of college students — both brand new students and returning students — head to their campuses this week and over the next few weeks for their fall semesters, most of them are thinking of practical matters such as laptops, clothes, dorm room supplies and other such everyday items.

But for young Christians heading off to college, faith can and should be in their toolkit as well, advises Dr. Alex McFarland, a youth culture expert, author, and nationally syndicated host.

“We know from multiple studies that many young people do leave their faith in college,” McFarland said in comments shared with LifeZette on Monday morning.

McFarland regularly addresses thousands of young people each year through a variety of the programs, speeches and workshops he conducts.

“It may not be intentional, but slowly over four years, faith in Jesus can fade away in college,” he also said. “Students may find it difficult to connect with a new church or keep up with Bible reading and prayer without the support of their parents, youth pastors or Christian friends.”

“But there are specific actions students can take to make sure they stay close to Christ while in college,” he added. “Jesus longs for their soul at that very important time in their life, when they are making decisions and forming relationships that will impact the rest of their lives.”

Related: Bible Proclaims ‘God Is Love’ — Here’s What That Means for Us

Simple but important actions, he says, can help young people keep Jesus at the core of their college career.

He created a list of seven ways young Christians can keep their faith strong while they attend college — which can also set a foundation for their faith practices after college as well.

Check out these tips:

1.) Find a local church. Leaving a home church for a semester in college doesn’t mean young people should leave church altogether. They can find a local church near campus, commit to attend regularly and join small groups of peers within the church.

2.) Be part of a Bible study. Even secular campuses have many resources for Christian students. All students can find a small group or Bible study to join. This may be made up of young women, young men, athletes or residents of the same hall. And if students can’t find a Bible study to join, they can start one themselves.

3.) Make new Christian friends. Youth group and church friends are probably scattered across different college campuses now. Young people can be intentional about making new Christian friends who will be good influences in their lives — and help keep them accountable.

4.) Connect with a Christian mentor. Many young people appreciate a mentor who is more experienced in their faith journey and can offer guidance and wisdom. College students can consider a Christian professor, coach or even an older student for this important role.

5.) Join a faith-based group. Nearly every college campus has a long list of groups and organizations that keep Christ at their center. Joining up will allow young people to find events, make friends and deepen their faith. Examples include campus chapters of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cru, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Ratio Christi, Young Life or dozens of others.

6.) Open the Bible along with college books. As students begin their studies, they can dig into their Bibles as well. Even with heavy studying loads, they can make time to remain in God’s Word — it’s crucial. They can find a devotional that speaks to them or download a Bible reading plan through an online resource such as YouVersion.

7.) Pray for God’s wisdom. They can dedicate at least part of their day to prayer to God, whether in the morning, during a walk to class, or as the day comes to a close. They can ask God for wisdom, guidance and perseverance to serve Him and follow His will.

Related: Young People Need Older, Wiser Voices of Correction

McFarland and other leaders at Truth for a New Generation (TNG) Ministries watched young people make long-lasting friendships and strengthen their faith at an intensive Youth Apologetics Camp earlier this month. There, nearly 100 attendees learned to stand “unashamed” for Christ and invested five days to “go deeper with God.”

And on Tuesday of this week, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and “The 700 Club” will feature a report on Truth for a New Generation camp.

The segment will air on August 20 at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET (depending on region). Also, CBN recently did a story on McFarland’s youth apologetics camp.

Through Truth for a New Generation, made possible in part by Liberty University, McFarland also hosts national and regional conferences that aim to help students, parents, youth pastors and community members lift up this young generation, pray for them and empower them to stand strong in their faith. Two events in Richmond, Virginia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, are planned for this fall.

Source: Seven Ways Young Christians Can Stay Strong in Their Faith at College