Finding Peace in the Storm

Female driving car and using mobile phone

“For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”  ~ Ortberg

Consider when most trouble comes… is it not when we are distracted or our guard is down? A rising cause of injury is people distracted by their phones… have you seen the stories of those walking into things, falling in stairways or holes, or getting into accidents all becomes they were distracted?

Sometimes our problem is not that we are distracted, but that we are focused on too many things. Seneca writes, “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”  We cannot ‘effectively’ focus on multiple fronts. Or, how about focusing on the wrong things? When we choose to allow our focus to be on things of minor, or of no importance, we make a choice to miss the mark of the principle objective and purpose of our lives.

Jesus tells the story of several young ladies waiting for the coming of the bridegroom; five were focused on their objective and prepared for the wait by having appropriate supplies. The other five, distracted by lesser things, did not make good choices. At midnight when the Bridegroom arrived, those who had prepared by making wise choices were ready and where chosen, while the foolish young ladies were anxiously grasping for provisions for the trip and missed out.

Even in his naturalistic mindset, Aristotle referred to mans finding contentment as Eudemian which focused on virtue as the way to man reaching his purpose. The cardinal virtues by which this was achieved are discernment, self control, justice, and courage.  The basic principle necessary for these virtues to function is wisdom, or more simply, by what standard do you discern what is right and how to control yourself. You cannot just make these up, they must be principles that are consistent with reality and life’s design… or you will find yourself frustrated because you were focused on the wrong things. It doesn’t matter how just or courageous you are if you are operating by the wrong standard that is against design. The outcome of your choice, just like the foolish young ladies, will be chaos and loss.

Paul tells us… if you want to know a peace and contentment (eudemian) that surpasses all comprehension, and will guard your heart and mind, then focus on, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” (Phil 4:8)

Being distracted by lesser things is what breeds troubles. Aligning yourself with what is true, or that which corresponds with reality, and what is right… regardless of its consequences, will always end in peace, contentment, and the joy found in the presence of our Heavenly Father, and His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Choose wisely…

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 4:7)

Praying U choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Ezra 6-10| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “A man is hindered and distracted in proportion as he draws outward things to himself.” – Thomas a Kempis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

 

This is Just Amazing

iStock-871684324 (1).jpg

Good morning on this new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. We are so thankful that you are tracking with us.

I have shared things with you from Dr. Paul David Tripp’s devotional, NEW MORNING MERCIES. This was just too good to pass up. I DID NOT WRITE THIS!!!

One of the themes of this devotional is that biblical faith never requires that you deny reality. If you have to turn your back on what is real and true in order to have some temporary personal peace, you may feel better, but what you’re exercising is not the faith of the Bible. This realism applies to the sin that still remains in you and is being progressively eradicated by God’s powerful grace.

There is a great temptation to deny or at least to minimize our sin. However, you are never moving in a productive spiritual direction when, by self-atoning arguments, you make your sin look less like sin. You don’t protect the message of the gospel by denying your own spiritual struggles, and God surely doesn’t need you to defend his reputation by faking it.

This is not to say you should make your sin the focus of your meditation. It is simply a denial of the amazing grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ to treat yourself as an unworthy, impure, and incapable spiritual worm.

 You must not meditate on the judgment of God. You must not squirm at the thought of his presence. You must not allow yourself to wonder if he loves you. You must not see yourself as unworthy of his care. You must not work to measure up in his sight. You must not think that he acts more favorably to you when you are obedient than when you sin. You must not beat yourself up when you fail. You must not give yourself to acts of payment and penance after you have messed up in God’s eyes.

You must not envy the worthiness of the person next to you, as if he or she is more accepted by God because he or she is more spiritually mature than you. You must never run from God in fear as you think of the empirical evidence of remaining sin that you give every day.

What you and I must meditate on every day is the absolute perfection and completeness of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was perfect in his life, perfect in his death, and perfect in his resurrection. There is nothing we could ever think, desire, say, or do that could in any way add to the forgiveness and acceptance that we have received from God based on Christ’s work. You are perfect in the eyes of God because the perfect righteousness of Jesus has been attributed to your spiritual account. You are righteous before God even in those moments when what you are doing is not righteous.

You measure up in his eyes even on those days when you don’t measure up, because Jesus measured up on your behalf. Yes, you should acknowledge the sad reality of remaining sin, but you must not make that sin your meditation. Meditate on and celebrate the amazing grace that has completely changed your identity, potential, and destiny.

Wow! I trust this will encourage your heart today.

Rejoice, Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte
President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 20-22| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Think About This: “While sin is still a sad and ever-present reality in each of our lives, it is simply no match for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul David Tripp

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

 

 

Psalm 111 – A ‘We Get To’ Psalm (Part 5)

iStock-611215342.jpg

We have been digging into Psalm 111, and today I want to look at verses 4-6.

“He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord! He gives food to those who fear Him. He always remembers His covenant. He has shown His great power to His people by giving them the lands of other nations.”

My point today is this: WE GET TO REMEMBER ALL HE HAS DONE! Part of the Jewish tradition and narrative is to retell the story over and over again at how God worked in their lives. It took place as they celebrated the feasts and festivals, including Passover. It took place as fathers and mothers shared the story with their kids.

Think about the many different remembrance touchpoints:

Abraham built altars, and he went back to some of those altars as a reminder.

Joshua had the leaders of the Tribes place memorial stones in the river so that there was that continual reminder of God’s care and provision for the children of Israel.

Even the very celebration of the Lord’s Supper, whatever your tradition, is a way for us to be reminded of what took place on the cross for us.

Maybe, just maybe, we need these physical reminders because of our spiritual amnesia. For some of us – it’s not just chronic amnesia – it’s terminal.

How quickly we forget. God does something extraordinary in answer to our prayers, and five minutes later we are grumbling and complaining. I often say we forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget.

When was the last time you remembered how gracious and merciful (vs.4) he has been in your life? Not just once – but how many times? Dr. Warren Wiersbe says that “God in His mercy doesn’t give us what we DO deserve while God in His grace gives us what we DON’T deserve.” Ouch!

When was the last time you sat down and thought through the mercy and grace of God in your life?

Verse 5 reminds us that He ALWAYS remembers His covenant! Not sometimes. Not most times. ALWAYS!!! There have been times in my life where I made a promise to do something – with my wife – my kids – my staff. My intentions were good. I did mean it at the time. But then I forgot. Oh, how painful it is to be reminded that you blew it yet again.

But our God ALWAYS remembers His covenant. Every time you see a rainbow in the sky, it is a reminder of the covenant that God made with Noah that would never destroy the world again with a flood. HIS PROMISES ARE FOR SURE, FOR CERTAIN!!!

So what do you need to remember today? Might be good to write it down in your journal. Maybe it would be cool to share it with your kids and grandkids. And I would love to hear from you: bwelte@americaskeswick.org.

Next week we will unpack Psalm 111:7-9. Until then,

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte, President/CEO
America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 16-19| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Think About This: A private relationship with God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness. — Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

 

Listen Up

iStock-619521876.jpg

“For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them.” — 2nd Samuel 7:21

It never ceases to amaze me when something happens and God’s fingerprints are all over it. He steps in and does an amazing thing like causing a loved one to come to Christ or dissolving a crisis, and there’s no doubt that God stepped in. Then, I’m amazed that I’m amazed. Why shouldn’t I expect to be seeing God at work, especially when He promises to be with us?

This past summer I was sharing a devotion with our guest on our theme verse 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The focus was on Rejoicing, Praying and giving Thanks, when it came to giving thanks I talked about being able to be thankful for what God is going to do as opposed to what God has already done, because they’re the same. In 2nd Samuel David is told through Nathan the Prophet all that God will do concerning David, even after he is gone.

The chapter starts off with a time of peace and David thinks, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” David plans to build God a house, but instead God reveals to David His plans.

But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in?'” God goes on to tell David all He has done for him and all He will “continue” to do, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.” This is not only a promise to David, but for us also. The fulfillment of this great prophesy is in the Person of Jesus the Christ.

David finishes the chapter with a prayer of praise that I believe would solidify David’s faith for the rest of his life, Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord GOD; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?”

It’s when we are convinced that God is who He says He is and all that He promises is true that we can respond to the challenges of life and all of our mistakes by falling on the grace and mercy of God. I believe that David was able to pen the 51st Psalm after being confronted by the same Prophet about his sin with Bathsheba because of his identity in God.

Maybe today life has gotten the best of you, maybe it’s time to “Listen up” to what God is saying about your future. Like,

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Micah| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” – J.I. Packer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence. Psalm 140:13

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Victory

Man standing on the edge of darkness and light

Two key components of a maturing faith in Christ are ‘keeping’ the high standard of God’s Word and ‘Guarding’ it against any manipulation.

Paul writes to his young disciple, “Keep and follow the pattern of sound teaching (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim 1:13) His warning is to not water down the Gospel truths so as to make it easier or more like mans desires. The Gospel is designed to enable you to have a personal relationship with God through Christ. The requirement for this relationship is ‘to be holy as He is holy’ (Lev 11:44-45; 1Peter 1:16) If you do not retain the high standards of the Gospel, placing your faith in the completed work of Salvation thru faith in Jesus Christ… you may get along better with the world and have a large group of associates, BUT you will not enter into Gods rest or Heaven.

Paul goes on to tell young Timothy how to be victorious in retaining Gods high standard, he writes, “Guard [with greatest care] and keep unchanged, the treasure [that precious truth] which has been entrusted to you [that is, the good news about salvation through personal faith in Christ Jesus], through [the help of] the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14) Your greatest enemy is within! Your willful self loves ‘sin’ and desires autonomy, wanting to operate by its own standards and willfully rejecting God. I watched a friend do this just a few weeks ago… rationalized their actions and walked away from Gods hand that was stretched out to them… it breaks my heart. Especially knowing we are all one choice away from doing the same thing. That is why Paul tells young Timothy that we need to yield our will to The Holy Spirit, relying on Him to ‘keep’ and to ‘guard’ these truths that anchor our salvation. We cannot defeat the willful self and its love of sin on our own. Paul tells us we must crucify it with Christ daily and humbly submit our hearts, our minds, and our spirits to the leading and strength provided through His Spirit.

Do you want live a victorious life by operating within the design of God’s will, knowing peace, joy, and contentment? Then water down your willful self, drowning it into submission; and guard your heart that bears His truths, doing this by relying on the leading and strength of The Holy Spirit.

You can do this if you want to, so why not choose Christ today…

Choose wisely…

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

(Galatians 2:20)

Praying U choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 21-24| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “I’d rather die in the will of God than to live outside of it.” – Jack Hyles

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence. Psalm 140:13

 

Take a Minute Before you Hit Share

Man looking at laptop computer

I have addressed this particular issue many times in my entries for Freedom Fighter, but I want to share some additional thoughts with you this morning.

I thank you for joining us on this daily journey as together we desire to walk in victory. Our writing team appreciates your willingness to read our blog and especially appreciate it when you share it with others.

Social Media is a driving force in our world. In fact, what is scary is that Facebook has been even called a “country.” Several years ago, it was referred to as the second largest country in the world.

Many have expressed concern about all the bad things that take place on social media. Some people will spend their whole day on social media simply because they are lonely and bored. Some people couldn’t survive an hour without checking on their posts to see how many “likes” and “shares” they have.

I am concerned about a far greater issue, and that is the way we use our words when it comes to social media.

Lately, I have been embarrassed as I have read posts from well-meaning Christians. I have started to UNFOLLOW friends because it grieves me to see what they put in print.

Our words can be weapons of mass destruction. At 63 years of age, I still do battle with my tongue. Words leave my lips all too quickly, and I find myself hurting my wife, my kids, my co-workers and friends.

Yes, we are all entitled to speak our minds as American citizens under the provision of “free speech.” But we answer to a greater authority – God and His Word and the hundreds of Scripture references that talk to us about how and when we should use our words.

There are times to speak when there are issues that violate the clear principles in Scripture. Taking a stand is important and the right thing to do. But there is a right way to do it, and that is where many lack discernment.

Before you hit SHARE, I would like to suggest that you think about several of these verses:

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,  as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby  if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. James 3:67-12

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. Proverbs 15:2

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. Proverbs 17:28

Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook. Proverbs 18:4

Please hear me. I am not saying there is never a time to not speak up. But what I am saying, there is a godly and right way to use our words. What we post reflects first of all on the Lord, it reflects on you and your family, and in some cases, the ministries and organizations you represent.

You don’t have to like or agree with my thoughts. That is your right and privilege. But my prayer is that you will search and examine the Word of God, which is and should be the final authority on the use of our words.

The writer of the book of James wrote: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

If he were alive, I wonder if he would have penned: “slow to tweet, slow post, slow to share?” I want my words to reflect His image. How about you?

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte
President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 33-36| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Think About This: Whatever you verbalize, you give power to. When you voice negative thoughts, you’re reinforcing what’s wrong. Over time, it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever important thing rules your heart also shapes your words and behavior. — Paul David Tripp

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 106:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Water Boy

man offering a glass of water

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” — John 7:38

There is something to be said about a person who doesn’t withhold their refreshment when they know you’re thirsty. Some of my closest bonds to people are the ones made when they will look at you, wipe their germs off the lid and with outstretched arm ask, “Are ya thirsty?” At that moment not only did my buddy quench my thirst, he also comforted my soul.

What is it that causes a person to be reach out to another and fulfill their needs? I think one reason is first of all, we have to be aware that there is a need. I believe one of the greatest attributes of Jesus was His ability to see that we need a Savior. “Lost sheep without a Shepard” is one of His conclusions when reaching out to the nation of Israel.

Jesus also had this picture of us being thirsty, His observation of us is that we are thirsty people and He has the perfect thing to fulfill our thirst. In John 7:37, Jesus asks a question, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Of course we all become thirsty, so the division comes when the hearer questions the ability to quench their thirst. The answer comes in the next verse, “he who believes in Me.” A picture of the Holy Spirit satisfying our longing souls, quenching our longing hearts and giving us a life of being content.

But here lies the problem, I’m not always in this state of spirituality. I believe I have the Holy Spirit of God, but if I’m honest, I still thirst. Why? Well, I have come to believe that unless this Living water is flowing out, I have not properly engaged in the work of God. If I’m not like my buddy who after drinking is willing to reach out to those who thirst, I’ve become balloted and am more like the Dead Sea then an aqueduct. I’ve missed the point of being a flowing brook, I’m not seeing the purpose of the Gospel being used as a healing ointment both to the saved and the unsaved.

I want to be like a water boy, the guy who is able to bring refreshment to those who are thirsty. The issue I have is recognizing thirst, it can sometimes come in the form of ridicule, resentment and even anger from others, which if I misdiagnose, I fall into the trap of refusing to give a drink. Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

If your heart is not overflowing with Living Water find someone who is thirsty and give them a drink, Amen!

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Hosea 8-14| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “The revelation of Christ, for which our souls thirst, thrills us increasingly as we more clearly understand who He is in all His fullness and what He accomplished to reconcile us to Himself.” – Dave Hunt

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12

 

 

10 Signs You’re Raising a Kid with a Bad Attitude (Part 4)

 

Boy is shouting

Thanks for hanging in there for the past several weeks. Here is the last installment in this awesome article by Donna Jones (Crosswalk.com). I hope it is has been helpful.

  1. Your child has an “all-about-me” mentality.

All children are selfish some of the time, but a child with an attitude issue is selfish most of the time. Young children, of course, must learn to share (don’t despair if your two year old hasn’t mastered the concept yet!) But if your elementary school age child still struggles with selfishness, you need to take action.

At its core, selfishness reveals an “all-about-me” mentality, which bleeds into all areas of life. How do you know if your child has an “all-about-me” attitude? Look out for these behaviors: Your child has difficulty sharing her friends and is easily hurt if her best buddy spends time with someone else. Your child gets herself a snack without offering one to her friend. Your child has difficulty celebrating a friend or sibling’s success. Your child must get her own way to be happy. Your child talks more than she listens. Your child needs to be the center of attention. Raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children means helping them move past the “it’s all about me” mentality.

  1. Your child plays the victim card.

“I can’t do it.” “She’s mean to me.” “But it’s too haaaaaard!” If you’re a parent, you’ve heard these complaints, usually said with a whine that grates on your last nerve. While it’s sometimes easier to step in when your child’s insists he can’t, it’s vital to allow your child to learn to overcome obstacles on his own. When a child overcomes something that once overwhelmed him, he becomes empowered. He moves from victim to victor.

When your child hits a roadblock they’re sure is too hard, do this: First, coach your child up. Teach him how. Show him how. Talk to him about how. Don’t do the hard stuff for your child; show your child how to do the hard stuff for himself. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary for parents to do what a child cannot. How do you know when it’s time to step in rather than step back? Step in when you’re certain your child cannot handle a difficulty on his own.

  1. Your child feels entitled.

Notice I wrote your child ‘feels’ entitled. That’s because though kids may feel entitled, the fact is, they aren’t. Sadly, too many children in our culture are led to believe they are.

How do you know if your child feels entitled? If your child consistently displays an over-the-top emotional outburst when they don’t get their way, if your child rarely expresses gratitude, or if your child believes rules are for everyone else, but more like guidelines for him, you’ve got an entitled kid on your hands.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I deeply appreciate you.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte D.D.
President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 13-16| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Think About This: “If you have been freed from needing success and acclaim to feel good about yourself, you know grace has visited you.” — Paul David Tripp

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12

 

 

 

 

 

Strike ‘Til you can Strike No More

How big are your prayers?

Do they consider God’s infinite nature?

‘How we pray’ and ‘what we pray for’ reveal ‘what we know’ about God and ‘how much time’ we have spent in His Word. These are all tell-tale signs of the actual faith we have in Him. When He ‘says you have not because you ask not’, Jesus is expressing this truth.

Jehoash, king of Israel, went to Elisha on his death bed carrying his fears of being overrun by Aram. After illustrating that Israel would have victory over Aram by having Johoash fire on arrow from his bow, Elisha then said to him, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times” (2 Kings 13:18-19). How limited was Johoash’s view of what our mighty God can do? He only saw what was in his hand and not what God would accomplish through what God had placed in his hand… if only he had ‘known’ and ‘trusted’ our God…

So… what is it you see? Do you see and focus on the moments of pain you suffered, or do you comprehend the thousands of days God has provided and cared for you? Do you see the empty seats around you, or do you see the seats God has prepared for those who He is bringing to a knowledge of His Salvation? Are you preparing to minister to those God is bringing into your area of influence, or are you focused on making yourself more comfortable…? Do you only see what is in your hand, or do you see God at work?

Some tough questions, but the answer to each reveals how impactful your prayer life will be, and whether or not you have a maturing faith that knows God’s heart as it is revealed in His Word.

The key to prayer is to pray as Christ would pray. This means that prayer is not bending God’s arm to give us what we want. Prayer is the means whereby the Christian aligns their will to the will of God. Prayer is not asking God to move towards us as much as it is asking God to move us towards Him. John tells us, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14) When we ask in “Jesus’ name,”  we are asking as His ambassador, who as Jesus’ representative speaks Jesus’ words… not our own!  Why His words and not mine? Because His are the ‘perfect will of God’ and ours are driven by our weak desires and limited perspective. Which do you think is best?

God is at work! And He desires for us to share in the joys and blessings of His work. How much you participate in His work is depended upon how much you know of The One who gave His own Son so you could live! How many times are you prepared to tap what God has placed in your hand… 1 or 3 times? Or… will you strike the arrows until God has poured all He desires into your life… causing you to be His cup overflowing?

Choose wisely…

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (John 7:38)

Praying 4 U

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 15-19| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “Fervent prayers produce phenomenal results.” – Woodrow Kroll

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16-7

Dynamite The Mountain

iStock-613111906.jpg

“Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.’” — Mark 11:22-23 (NLT)

When the first transcontinental railroad was being constructed through the Sierra Nevadas, railroad crews had to find their own way through the mountains when going over or going around them was impossible. So, with that, The Central Pacific Railroad was challenged with the digging of what is called “The Summit Tunnel” which runs through the top of Donner Pass. Workers did what they could with picks and shovels and with a little smarts vertical shafts were drilled so that debris could be removed as the digging went on BUT then came good-ole’-fashion technology.

Nitroglycerin arrived on the scene and KA-BOOM!!! Rock and earth moved away real fast. Unfortunately many died because this stuff was unstable. The builders of the Central Pacific Line stopped using it for the remainder of construction. Granted, a problem may have been solved but it came with a huge sacrifice. That’s how it goes when men come face to face with mountains being in their way. Good thing Jesus does things differently.

If you’re familiar with the Gospel of Mark you know it’s a right-to-the-point Gospel. In the 11th chapter Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, the people are astatic, a fig tree gets cursed and when He shows up at The Temple, He sees what is going on and man is He upset.  “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves’” (Mark 11:17). Tables get turned over…night falls…morning rises…enter the fig tree. And Peter says, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died” (Mark 11:21).

By criticizing the worship in The Temple, Jesus denounces Israel’s worship of YHVH and with His cursing of the fig tree He is denouncing them as a nation. The Pharisees did a mighty fine job of negotiating with Rome in order to keep their place as religious leaders in The Temple, but they effectively became the very thing that separated YHVH’s people from YHVH. Hmm…so it’s back to the action, after all this is Marks Gospel account. Then Jesus turns to the Twelve and says, “Have faith in God.” Now maybe they didn’t get this right away but here is a tasty nugget for ya.

“I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.” We can think that because Israel has its mountains we are getting a lesson in the amount of faith we need to have in God and that isn’t off the mark but that isn’t all of it. Ya see, mountains happen in our life and they can separate us from God (like a bunch of Pharisees). They are those circumstances that overwhelm us and just stand right in our way of spiritual progress. (Just as a side note here, I’ve had those times in my life when I moved those spiritual mountains with metaphorical dynamite and relationships just went KA-BOOM!!! Be warned.)

Anyway…We know Jesus made a triumphantal entry into our lives and we celebrated His arrival, but when it got hard this mountain showed up and made it hard to see if Jesus was even still around to help us. Jesus encourages His disciples to keep their faith in God because that will be the key to drive us to prayer. God wants us to name the mountain, ask for it to be moved, then stand back and watch what He does, “But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.”

There is a risk in handling the way we tunnel through life’s mountains if we chose to handle it ourselves. Secularland has proven that metaphorical explosives do more damage than good, but God doesn’t do things our way and we gotta put our faith in that more and more each day. We do so much nonsense outta fear of the outcome that we prove ourselves pretty wreck less but we gotta be like The Central Pacific Railroad and eventually give up the way we are handling the tunneling.

The instruction is simple, “you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (Mark 11:24b-25). So many say “Jesus take the wheel” but so few will let “Jesus handle the fuse.” Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Daniel 7-12| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “How are we going to escape fear, when there are legitimate dangers that lie all around us? Well, here’s what the man of God says: “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” — Aiden Wilson Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7