VIDEO Focus on God, not your problems

In Touch Ministries
Dec 9, 2011

Don’t let your fears, your heartaches, or troubles overwhelm you – focus on the One who has control over everything. Dr. Charles Stanley offers encouragement and a personal example from his “In the School of Faith” series. See more: http://bit.ly/ITMsof4. In Touch Ministries, 2012

First Things Must Be First

Watch your life and doctrine closely. 1 Timothy 4:16

When you travel by air, before the flight takes off an airline employee presents a safety briefing, which explains what to do if there is a loss of cabin pressure. Passengers are told that oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above and they are to put one on themselves before helping others. Why? Because before you can help anyone else, you need to be physically alert yourself.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he stressed the importance of maintaining his own spiritual health before helping and serving others. He reminded Timothy of his many responsibilities as a pastor: There were false teachings to contend with (1 Tim. 4:1–5) and wrong doctrines to correct (vv. 6–8). But to discharge his duties well, what was most important was to “watch [his] life and doctrine closely [and] persevere in them” (v. 16). He needed to take care of his own relationship with the Lord first before he could attend to others.

Set an example … in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

What Paul told Timothy applies to us too. Each day we encounter people who do not know the Lord. When we tank up on our spiritual oxygen first through time in God’s Word, prayer, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we keep our relationship right with God. Then we will be spiritually alert to help others.

Lord, open Your Word to me now. Let me breathe in its freshness before I go out to be Your light to the world.

A Christian’s life is the window through which others can see Jesus.

By C. P. Hia 

INSIGHT

The importance of our relationship with God is also a prominent theme in the Old Testament. As Moses passed the leadership of the Israelites over to Joshua, he reminded his protégé that he must keep a right relationship with God. Joshua was to study God’s Word, “to meditate on it day and night,” and “be careful to do everything written in it.” Only then would Joshua successfully lead his people into the Promised Land (Josh. 1:7–8). Four hundred years later, David gave similar advice to his son Solomon: “Learn to know [God] intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. . . . The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work” (1 Chron. 28:9–10 nlt). Heeding his father’s wise advice, Solomon humbly sought the Lord and succeeded in building the temple (1 Kings 3:3–15; 6:14, 38).

What steps can you take this week to strengthen your personal relationship with God?

For further study consider the free online course Spiritual Life Basics at christianuniversity.org/SLBASICS.

Sim Kay Tee

True Pattern for Servanthood

Matthew 20:25-28

In the world’s thinking, great men are the ones with authority, prominence, and power. Though Jesus Christ had all that, He surrendered it to become a servant (Isa. 42:1; Phil. 2:7).

Jesus gave Himself completely to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption, even though the beneficiaries—namely, each of us—were undeserving. God, who is holy and righteous, has eyes that “are too pure to approve evil, and [He] can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). Therefore, He must separate Himself from those who are stained by wrongdoing. That includes all of humanity (Rom. 3:23).

Everybody is born captive to fleshly desires (Rom. 6:16-18). When someone claims to be living on his “own terms,” he is serving whatever his human nature craves. The penalty for that false sense of liberty is death (Rom. 6:23).

Jesus’ ultimate act of service was to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). The word ransom describes the price paid to set a slave free—Christ voluntarily purchased our liberation. There was only one way our holy God could remove our guilt yet remain true to His own law: Someone sinless had to pay our sin debt for us.

Jesus’ sacrifice spared us the penalty we deserve. Instead, we receive grace and have been declared not guilty. Moreover, we are elevated from slaves to children of the Almighty! Jesus served the Father’s purpose faithfully. He gave up His righteousness to carry our wickedness—and endured a crushing separation from God. To meet our needs, the Savior held nothing of Himself back, and thereby set a powerful example of servanthood for us to follow.

Yes, Be Diligent

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.” (2 Peter 1:5)

The importance of diligence is urged by Peter as basic in the development of the seven other virtues listed by him—that is, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity—as vital additions to our faith. Diligence is seldom considered as a particular Christian attribute, but it is essential if we really desire to develop the other Christian virtues in our lives. They do not come by wishing or hoping. Peter also exhorts us to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (v. 10), and then to “be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (3:14).

Essentially the same Greek word is also translated “study” and “labor” and “endeavor.” Paul commands, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). He beseeches us always to be “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We are even told to “labour therefore to enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4:11).

There are many other such exhortations in which Christian diligence is urged or shown in reference to other Christian virtues. There is one key verse, however, in which diligence itself is commanded as a Christian duty: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Here the word “business” is the same as “diligence.” That is, each Christian is commanded to “be diligent in diligence!”

Christian salvation is received solely by grace through faith. The Christian life, however, demands diligence. Can we not, as today’s verse commands, give all diligence in our service to the Lord who gave His life for us? HMM

The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth

2 Kings 9:1-7, 14, 21-26, 30-37

2 Kings 9:1-3

He was not to wait for fee or reward. Those who do the Lord’s business must not be loiterers or saunterers. God’s angels fly swiftly, and God’s prophets must go on his errands with speed.

2 Kings 9:14

He was probably the commander-in-chief and it was no new thing in the history of Israel for such persons to dethrone the monarch.

2 Kings 9:14

Therefore he had left Jehu in command in Ramoth-gilead, and Jehu, having revolted, hastened with all his cavalry to Jezreel, to attack Joram, who lay there sick of wounds received in battle. When Jehu was perceived by the watchmen on the walls of the palace, the king sent messengers who at once deserted to Jehu’s side. The king therefore resolved to confront his rebellious captain, but it was a foolhardy action, and ended in his death. The deadly encounter is thus described:

2 Kings 9:22

And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu?

Meaning, dost thou return defeated? Or hast thou conquered the Syrians and established peace? He little dreamed of the doom upon which he was rushing: the greatest sinners are generally the most secure, secure even on the brink of ruin.

2 Kings 9:22

What peace can any sinner expect to have with God while he lives in sin?

2 Kings 9:26

Thus the Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth. It was singular that he who had years before heard the prophecy, as it were by accident, should himself become the fulfiller of it.

2 Kings 9:31

Her haughty spirit quailed not. She taunted the Lord’s avenger, and perhaps hoped to intimidate him by her insolence; but he had a commission from God, and this made him bold to proceed to execute the wicked queen.

2 Kings 9:32, 32

Her murder of the Lord’s prophets thus came home to her; the body which she pampered was trampled upon as straw is trodden for the dunghill.

2 Kings 9:37

This had been the cry in her pompous days; her heralds cried, “This is Jezebel,” but they would say this no more. They could not even say, This is Jezebel’s body, this is Jezebel’s tomb, or, this is Jezebel’s heir. Thus the name of the wicked shall rot. Lord, we bow before thee in reverence, trembling at thy justice.

 

The Lord Jehovah reigns!

Let all the nations fear;

Let sinners tremble at his throne

Nor tempt his wrath severe.

 

Jesus the Saviour reigns!

Let earth adore its Lord;

As with an iron rod he breaks

The haters of his word.

 

How holy is his name!

How terrible his praise!

Justice, and truth, and judgment join

In all his works of grace.

 


O’er earth and wave our God is Lord,

Let all his saints confide in him;

The sunken axe His power restored,

And faith can make the iron swim.

 

O sit not down when efforts fail,

And weep beside the river’s brim,

Faith still is mighty to prevail;

Believe, and make the iron swim.

 


The fountain of Christ, assist me to sing,

The blood of our Priest, our crucified King:

Which perfectly cleanses from sin and from filth;

And richly dispenses salvation and health.

 

This fountain, though rich, from charge is quite clear;

The poorer the wretch, the welcomer here:

Come needy and guilty, come loathsome and bare;

You can’t come too filthy, come just as you are.

 

This fountain in vain has never been tried;

It takes out all stain whenever applied:

The water flows sweetly with virtue divine,

To cleanse souls completely, though leprous as mine.

 


Have I that faith which looks to Christ,

O’ercomes the world and sin,

Receives him, Prophet, Priest, and King,

And makes the conscience clean?

 

If I this precious grace possess,

All praise is due to thee;

If not, I seek it from thy hands;

Now grant it, Lord, to me.

 


Ourselves so skilful to conceal,

So exquisite our art,

God only knows the utmost hell

Of the deceitful heart.

 

But now with shame I clearly see

That but for sovereign grace,

In lowest deeps of infamy

My soul had found her place.

 

Ah, do not Lord, forsake thy child,

And I shall never fall;

By no transgressions be defil’d,

Though capable of all.

 

Is There Any Afflicted Among You?

James 5:13

Did you ever notice that sometimes people really don’t want to change or listen to counsel? Often they’d rather keep repeating all their struggles and problems to whoever will listen to them. Have you ever known a believer like this? Although you deeply loved that person, did it bother you to watch him habitually go from person to person, telling each about all his personal problems? Did he seem to relish every new chance he found to load down someone else with his troubles?

There is definitely a time when a person needs to have a friend in whom he can confide. Personally, I thank God for my friends who have allowed me to open my heart and talk to them about the various challenges this ministry has faced. But a spiritually mature person knows that in addition to pouring out all his aches and pains to a trusted friend, he must learn to stand up and take responsibility for himself in prayer.

A person who loads all his troubles on others and then expects them to do all his praying for him is revealing his own spiritual immaturity. A time eventually comes when every believer must learn to go to God in prayer and win some of his own victories by himself in the Presence of God.

Yes, it may seem so much easier to talk to people about your problems. However, if you talked only half as much to God as you do to others about those problems, He’d be able to give you the answers and solutions for every situation or dilemma that you’re facing.

James addressed this truth in his famous New Testament epistle. It’s important to note that the book of James possesses a unique quality, for it contains pastoral counsel that isn’t included in other epistles. The reason for this is that James was a pastor, whereas the other New Testament writers were apostles. Therefore, James frequently addressed certain issues differently than the other writers, speaking from a pastor’s perspective and giving the kind of counsel that can only come from a man who knows the needs and behavior of people.

It seems that some people to whom James was writing had discovered that their troubles could be used as a way to attract attention to themselves. So these people floated from person to person, repeating their story to anyone who would listen—probably in an attempt to fill an emotional deficit in their lives.

People who fit this description are like bees that extract all the pollen they can from one flower before moving on to do the same with the next flower and the next, etc. These individuals stay with one person as long as he will listen; then when that person has been drained dry, they move on to drain the next person. However, all they want to do is talk. They don’t ever apply any wise counsel that good-hearted people try to give them.

Although there is a time to talk, there is also a time when you need to stop talking and start praying! This is why James says, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray…” (James 5:13).

The word “afflicted” is from the Greek word kakopatheo, which is a compound of the words kakos and pathos. The first part of the word, kakos, describes something that is evil. In fact, it is so evil that it produces terribly negative effects in a person’s life. It is often translated as the words bad, evil, wicked, or vile, and it frequently denotes something that is hurtful or damaging, such as the personal devastation that results from one’s physical illness.

In Mark 1:32, 34 and in Mark 2:17, the word kakos is actually translated as “disease” and “sick” to convey the idea of people who were not only sick but whose lives had been devastated as a result of their poor health. The people in these cited verses were bearing terribly negative consequences in numerous areas of their lives due to their continual ill health. But in James 5:13, the word kakos doesn’t necessarily refer to sickness (although it could also include sickness). Instead, it refers to a person who is harassed by some problem that is weighing him down and producing devastating results in his life.

The second part of the word kakopatheo is the Greek word pathos. The King James Version generally translates this word as suffering. But although it can be used to picture a physical suffering, this word primarily conveys the idea of a suffering that occurs in the mind. It portrays a person who is affected by something that has happened and, as a result, suffers mentally or emotionally. Even if these troubles are tangible, material, concrete problems, the level of anguish produced in the mind and emotions as a result is a far greater strain than the actual problem itself.

When the words kakos and pathos are compounded to form the word kakopatheo that is used in James 5:13, it gives the idea of a person who is intensely suffering—perhaps physically but definitely mentally—due to the evil events that have occurred in his or her life.

There is no doubt, then, that James is speaking to people who have been through a bad experience or a series of bad experiences that have produced real trouble in their lives. Although they may need to initially share their pain with someone else, James says, “… Let him [the person with troubles] pray….” The strong Greek tense used in this verse means James isn’t suggesting that people take this action; he is commanding them to do it.

The word “pray” is the Greek word proseuchea compound of the words pros and euche. The word pros means toward and gives the idea of closeness. Nearly everywhere it is used in the New Testament, the word pros carries the meaning of close, up-front, intimate contact with someone else. The second part of the word proseuche is taken from the word euche. The word euche is an old Greek word that describes a wish, desire, prayer, or vow. It was originally used to depict a person who made some kind of vow to God because of a certain need or desire in his or her life. This individual would vow to give something of great value to God in exchange for a favorable answer to prayer.

In Greek culture, before people verbalized their prayer or offered a sacrifice to a “god,” a commemorative altar was set up and thanksgiving was offered on that altar. Such offerings of praise and thanksgiving were called votive offerings (from the word “vow”). These votive offerings were similar to a pledge. The person would promise that once his prayer had been answered, he would be back to give thanks once more to God. These votive offerings of praise and worship were elaborate and well-planned. Giving thanks to a deity was a significant event, so it was done in a serious and grandiose manner to outwardly demonstrate a thankful heart.

All of this is included in the background of the word proseuche, the word used more than any other for “prayer” in the New Testament. Keep in mind, the majority of New Testament readers were Greek in origin and knew the cultural background of this word; hence, they understood its full ramifications.

The word proseuche tells us that prayer should bring us face to face and into close contact with God. Prayer is more than a mechanical act or a formula to follow; it is a vehicle to bring us to a place whereby we may enjoy a close, intimate relationship with God.

This is an especially meaningful message for those who are prone to talk incessantly to people but who fail to speak to God about their troubles. For such a person, there comes a time when he must stop looking for people to talk to and begin to draw as close as possible to God in order to find a permanent solution to his dilemmas.

But the idea of sacrifice is also associated with this word for “prayer.” In this sense, it portrayed an individual who so desperately desired to see his prayer answered that he was willing to surrender everything he owned in exchange for an answer to his petition. Clearly, this describes an altar of sacrifice and an act of consecration in prayer whereby a believer’s life is yielded entirely to God.

Thus, this particular word for prayer tells us of a place of decision and consecration, an altar where we freely vow to give our lives to God in exchange for His life. Because the word proseuche carries this meaning of surrender and sacrifice, we can know that God obviously desires to do more than merely bless us—He wants to change us! He wants us to come to a place of consecration where we meet with Him face to face and surrender every area of our lives to Him; in exchange, He touches and transforms us by His power and Presence.

The tone used in James 5:13 reflects the idea of urgency, letting us know that James didn’t want us to take a long time to get into God’s Presence and allow Him to change us; rather, we are to get into this place of prayer as quickly as possible. You see, all the answers you and I need are found in the Presence of God. That is why it is so imperative that we come as close to His Presence as possible. And while we are in His Presence, He wants us to open our hearts to Him, tell Him what we feel, and be willing to surrender ourselves to Him completely. As we do this, God will give us the answers and the peace we need to victoriously face and conquer our various ordeals.

 

An interpretive translation of this portion of James 5:13 could read:

“Is anyone among you going through an extremely difficult time in life that is causing him a lot of grief? I urge that person to draw near to God, to pour his heart out to Him, and to be willing to give up anything and to do anything God requires in order for his situation to be changed….”

As I noted earlier, there is definitely a time when you will need to confide in others about your problems. Thank God for real friends in whom we can confide! But there also comes a time when you must go to God for your solution and stop relying on your friends and associates to give you relief.

Is God’s Spirit speaking to you today? Have you been going to people for your solutions instead of going first to God? Why don’t you take a little time today to quiet your heart and talk to the Lord about the things that are troubling you?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, today I am asking You to forgive me for the times I’ve talked to people about my problems more than I’ve talked to You. I confess that I have leaned on people more heavily than I have leaned on You when facing difficult situations that required solutions. Now that I realize what I have done, I am making the decision to change the way I respond to challenges. I thank You, Lord, for the friends You have given me whom I can trust and confide in, but I know I will only find my real help and most permanent solutions as a result of being in Your Presence. Therefore, today I purpose to run to You first whenever the problems of life try to assault me. Only after I have received comfort and direction from You, my primary Source of help, will I consider turning to others whom You have given me for support.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I run to the Lord whenever problems try to overwhelm me. He is my High Tower, my Strength, my Hiding Place, and the One in whom I trust. He has never failed me or forsaken me, and I know I can trust in Him. I thank God for the friends He has given me, but they can never take the place that only He has in my life. From this moment forward, I make the decision that before I pour out my heart to people, I will first pour out my heart to Him. I am willing to do whatever He asks and to give up anything He requires so that I may obtain the victory I need in my life.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of a person who habitually runs from person to person with his troubles but who never follows any suggestions that someone might give him to do? Does it seem that he just wants to spew his problems on everyone as a means of getting attention?
  2. Have you ever been guilty of doing this same thing at some point in your past?
  3. Are you presently spending time in the Presence of God on a daily basis? If not, is there a reason you have been avoiding the Presence of the Lord?

 

Four Corporate Goals Of A Christian-Based Company

Many adherents of Christ in the world of business see little correlation between living for Christ and dealing with the harsh realities in the marketplace. Thus, they have concluded that commerce is a nasty affair, but someone has to do it. Computer Management and Development Services (CMDS), (Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA) is demonstrating a healthy merge between Christian values and the business realm. Their four corporate goals are:

 

TO HONOR GOD

“We believe that our Christianity is something that is a part of all we do. Therefore, we commit ourselves to operate CMDS within our understanding of Christian ethical and moral beliefs. We believe Christ should be honored by all that we do and say.”

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Col. 3:23)

 

TO DEVELOP PEOPLE

“We believe that people employed by CMDS are our most important asset. We commit ourselves to pay fairly, treat one another honestly, and promote development of the individual. We believe that people we work for are also important and commit ourselves to training them in the operations of the system, treating them honestly, and assisting in the development of the individual in any way we can.”

We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5b) (See Matthew 22:39; Luke 6:31; James 2:8-16)

 

TO PURSUE EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE

“Service is our most important product. We recognize the importance of service to our customers and commit ourselves to responding promptly to requests and/or problems. We will continue to refine and improve our products. Only by providing an important service to our customers will we continue to exist as a company. We commit ourselves to excellence.”

Then God looked over all that he had made, and it was excellent in every way… ” (Genesis 1:31 – Living)

 

TO MAKE A PROFIT

“We recognize the need to make a profit in order to operate a viable business. We are nonetheless committed to meet goals one, two, and three and will sacrifice a larger profit in order to meet these goals.”

A man called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money The manwent at once and put his money to work and gained five more… ‘Master, he said, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more. His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things…‘” (Matthew 25:14-21 – selected)

 

QUESTION: Have you determined to personally incorporate Biblical values into your marketplace practices?

 

 

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