Handling Difficult Circumstances

Philippians 3:8-11
The apostle Paul understood how to handle tough circumstances. Even while confined in a prison cell, he kept his eyes on Christ and trusted firmly in the Savior. Therefore, despite being in chains, he was able to celebrate the Lord’s work in his life. In fact, the epistle he wrote from jail to the Philippians was filled with rejoicing and praise (Philippians 1:18; Philippians 2:18; Philippians 3:1).
Focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one. Our instinct is to dwell on the situation at hand, searching for solutions or stewing over the pain and difficulty. As a result, troubles look insurmountable and overwhelm us with a sense of failure.However, fear and defeat can’t live long in a heart that trusts the Lord. I’m not saying you will forget what you’re going through, but you can choose to dwell on His provision and care instead. He is the Deliverer (2 Corinthians 1:10). He is the Healer (Jeremiah 17:14). And He is the Guide (Proverbs 3:6). The believer who lays claim to divine promises discovers that God pushes back negative emotions. In their place, hope, confidence, and contentment take up residence (Philippians 4:11). You aren’t going to be happy about any difficult situation, but you can be satisfied that God is in control and up to something good in the midst of trouble.
The Lord’s principles and promises don’t change, no matter how severe or painful the situation is. Focus on Christ instead of the circumstances—God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial. Then you will be ready to answer Paul’s call to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
Bible in One Year: Isaiah 40-42STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

Fearing God

He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.  The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. – Psalm 147:10-11
In Psalm 147:10-11, David gives us insight into two things that please God–two things that may seem disconnected from each other.First, God delights in those who fear Him, those who have a reverential respect and awe for Him.  Second, God is pleased with those who hope in His mercy.

In today’s devotional, I want to focus on what it means to truly fear God.
Scripture constantly admonishes us to fear God.  But how do you do that?  I believe the Bible gives us at least four ways:
1.Through a hatred of evil.  Proverbs 8:13 says, The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.
2.Through radical obedience.  To fear the Lord means to radically obey Him, as Abraham did in Genesis 22 when he was willing to sacrifice his son.
3. With an awareness that God is always watching you.  Scripture makes it clear there is nowhere you can go that God does not see.
4. With the knowledge that one day you will have to stand before God as your Judge.  Jesus even tells us that one day, when we stand before Him, we will have to give an account of every idle word we have spoken.

Pray today that God will help you live your life by these four principles.  Because God delights in those who fear Him.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

TALEBEARING

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. – Proverbs 11:13

Test your integrity or faithfulness. Can you keep a secret? Will you hide it from those not needing to know? Tattlers or gossips have no integrity – they do not have a faithful spirit. If they know damaging information about another, they must tell it, quickly and widely.

What God called talebearing here used to be called tattling or gossiping. Now it is called social media, investigative reporting, or entertainment. Newspapers, television, tabloids, and Internet sites feed on it. People read it with glee; they tingle with curiosity hearing it; they beg for more details, especially sexual ones; they cannot wait to repeat it to others.

If the least rumour or unsavoury fact is found about a President’s personal life or family, it is spread far and wide and discussed to death. The same is true for business leaders, sports figures, and celebrities. The more negative the facts, that much more exciting to spread. This fascination with secrets is a sin and proves the perversity of a generation.

Family members, neighbors, office workers, and even church members love to spread news of negative events in the lives of others. They say, “Did you know they are divorced? Have you heard the latest about him? Can you believe she did that?” And off go wicked lips and ears to discuss the private details of others that should be concealed.

This sin is an abomination to God, and He hates it. His holy nature knows that spreading damaging news about others is to rape their reputations. The Bible does not know the word gossip; it uses talebearer, tattlers, whisperer, and backbiter – (KJV). Solomon taught here that good men with faithful spirits will not repeat private news they learn about others.

Talebearing is telling private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity. Tattling is talebearing. Whispering is quiet or secret talebearing. Backbiting includes talebearing behind a person’s back. God condemns these sins. (Do not go about spreading slander among your people.” ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. – Lev 19:16;  And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. – I Tim 5:13). Your character and wisdom are shown by how you handle negative news about others.

These four Bible terms all involve telling true facts about others that need not be told. That the information is true only means it is not slander, which is spreading lies about others. Talebearers will quickly justify themselves by saying they are only telling facts – but that is the very definition of talebearing, tattling, whispering, and backbiting. Slander is two sins – lying and spreading the lie; talebearing is one sin – spreading hurtful facts.

That the secrets are true does not mitigate the sin at all. The Lord knows there are only two reasons you are telling the secret – malicious hatred or idle curiosity. You damage another person’s reputation when you do so, and there is no godly reason for you to do it. Only by reporting facts for authorities to fulfill their office can you justify telling secrets.

Physical rape is a horrible crime, and it should be punished severely. Talebearing can be similarly harmful. Instead of violating a person’s body and creating painful and fearful memories, it can leave permanent scars or questions on a person’s reputation with others and the pain and trouble of defending ancient faults or sins by the person. Consider it.

The heart of man is desperately wicked and will do anything it can to defame or injure others. By nature all men are hateful and hating one another (For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. – Titus 3:3). One of the easiest ways to hurt another’s reputation is to spread private information that does not need to be told. It is this sin that the proverb condemns.

Faithful men will hide private information they happen to learn. They will conceal such things; they will not repeat them to anyone. They will do all they can to protect the reputations of others, no matter what their personal feelings about the person might be. Such integrity and faithfulness makes a man great in the sight of God and men.

This sin used to be widely condemned. Older readers can remember rules and punishment for tattling at home or school. But now it is a forgotten sin in this current profane generation. Instead of punishment, rewards are given for those who obtain the most salacious reports or revealing photographs or videos of persons at all levels of society.

Guard your tongue, reader. Do not let it spread secrets that should be concealed. It does not matter at all whether the information is true or not. If the matter is not needed for the proper exercise of authority, then bury it. If the matter could hurt a person’s reputation, then bury it. If the matter is not uplifting or commending or helpful, then bury it.

Guard your ears, reader. If someone else backbites in your presence, condemn him with an angry face or rebuke (Pr 25:23; I Thess 5:14). If it were not for willing hearers, talebearers would be out of business (Pr 17:4). If you allow a tattler to sin by putting sinful thoughts in your head about another person, you are an accomplice in his sin.

How important is it to avoid this sin? The proverb here teaches that faithful men will not do it. A mark or evidence of eternal life is not doing it (Ps 15:3). Since God hates it and mentions it often in Scripture, all fathers must include it in their training (Eph. 6:4). Great men and women, those that are faithful and having integrity, will work to protect others.

Jesus Christ is Faithful and True (Rev 19:11). He forgets the sins of His people forever (Heb. 8:12). He would never reveal them, for it is His glory to cover offences (Pr. 25:2; Ps 103:10-12). It should be your pleasure to love others with the same compassion and commitment to protect them from damaging reports (Pr. 10:12; 17:9; I Pet 4:8).

Stay blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sundays 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 Fm – Saturdays 7:30 pm; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymns and their Stories & every Thursdays for Bible Studies at the Salt & Light office, Abelemkpe.

A Godly Response to Criticism

Scripture: Proverbs 15:31-33
No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way. Although you might be tempted to become defensive or angry, remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said.

If we refuse to accept reproof, we’ll limit our potential for Christlike character development and spiritual growth. Some of life’s best lessons come through difficult experiences. If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He wants to use it in transforming you into His Son’s image. Whether the criticism is valid or not, whether it’s delivered with kindness or harshness, your goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord. Remember that you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other person is acting.

When a criticism comes your way, be quiet and listen until the other person has finished. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect. When your critic finishes, thank him for bringing his concerns to your attention, and tell him that you will consider what he’s said. Ask the Lord if the accusation is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or convict you.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. It’s a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing love to your critic. If he is angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord’s correction.​STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

Whole Life Worship

Scripture: Romans 11:33-36, Romans 12:1-8
For many Christians, the word worship is synonymous with the songs we sing in church services. This is often implied when those who lead music announce to the congregation, “Let’s stand and worship.” Singing praises to God is but one aspect of what the word means—it includes much more and is not limited to Sunday morning in a church building.

When the Samaritan woman spoke to Jesus about this, He told her a time would come when the place wouldn’t be important. In that day, worship would be done in spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24), as an integral part of everything in our daily life.

Let’s consider ways we worship God:
With our words (Rom. 11:33-36). Right after finishing a thorough explanation of doctrine to the church in Rome, Paul broke out in praise to the Lord. As our minds are filled with God’s truths, our worship will likewise overflow in prayer and songs of adoration, praise, and reverence.

With surrendered lives (Rom. 12:1-2). Instead of worshipping with animal sacrifices, we offer ourselves to the Lord through holy, obedient living. This is possible because God’s truth renews our mind, thereby transforming our life.

With service to others (Rom. 12:3-8). Everything we do can be an act of worship when it is done as unto the Lord. By His grace, He has even given us spiritual gifts that enable us to serve one another.

Think about your choices, actions, and words throughout the day—both to God and to others. How can they be transformed into worship?

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

Standing in the Gap

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.  So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him – Isaiah 59:14-16.

God is not pleased at injustice nor when truth and righteousness do not prevail.  Then He sees those who turn from evil becoming a prey, He is not happy.

I remember a young man who an had lived a particularly sordid life.  He heard the gospel and had an amazing conversion experience.  Within a month or so of accepting Christ, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

What happened?  He departed from evil and became a prey!  God was not responsible for his situation, nor was He pleased.

Why did it happen?  At least part of the answer is found in verse 16.  There was no man serving as an intercessor.  No one was keeping a hedge of protection around that young man through prayer.

Before and after people turn from evil we need to intercede to God on their behalf.
I challenge you today to be one of those who stands in the gap and makes up the hedge for new babes in Christ.  May God find pleasure in you and me as we take our position as intercessors.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk mail.

A Compass for Life’s Journey

Scripture: Proverbs 3:1-6
If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you know the concerns, confusion, and panic such a situation causes. Now think what a difference it would have made to know that a compass was in your pocket. Spiritually speaking, we have such a compass—God’s Word. But it does no good unless we let it guide us.
At times, we may fail to follow scriptural guidance because of …
Neglect. Sometimes we are so busy walking through life that we forget to look at God’s compass to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

Pride. We often want to determine our own destiny. Many of us prefer to plan a course of action by relying on our strength, wisdom, and abilities.

Distractions. The Lord’s path of obedience isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be extremely challenging. Satan offers other trails that promise pleasure and ease if we will just ignore the compass and follow him. Although these routes seem pleasant at first, they lead to heartbreak and discouragement.

Difficulties. Whenever obstacles appear on the trail, our natural tendency is to try and find a way around them. But by ignoring God’s compass and stepping off the path, we’ll miss the blessings He wants to give us through the rough patches—benefits such as strong faith and godly character.

Why should we wander when the Lord’s compass is available? Let Scripture be your guide on life’s journey. God promises productive days and fruitful years if you follow His path. He’ll direct each step of your way, and His peace will sustain you, even during the difficult times.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

Hunger

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” – Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

Jeremiah was given many difficult assignments, often delivering messages that were guaranteed to generate resistance, and make him unpopular.

Facing these struggles, he constantly found himself returning to God’s Word, where he found reassurance and confirmation. This is how he stayed in tune with Him. The Word became like food: the sustenance of his life. It wasn’t an option, but something he needed for his very existence. He could not live without it.

It gave him purpose and direction. It provided him with perspective and understanding. Strength and confidence. It kept him from evil and prevented him from drifting into sin. It gave him wisdom and discernment. It was the “joy and rejoicing” of his heart.

In contrast, many people today never read the Bible. Others only read out of a sense of obligation or duty. For them it’s not a joy or a priority. They do not understand that this is not an ordinary book. It is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12).

No matter how long we have been Christians, we need to remember the importance of hungering for the Bible. Making this a priority of every day. Never taking it for granted. Reading it. Studying it.
Ask God to give you a greater hunger for His Word. Approach the Word in the same way that you think about food: Something you need for your very life. Realize that, without it, you are lost and vulnerable.

This Word provides you with God’s wisdom. It will equip you to make the right decisions. It will give you discernment and understanding. And it will give you spiritual strength and equip you to face your challenges.

What a privilege! What a joy!

Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Father, thank You for the power of Your Word. It is precious to me. I need it every day to know what how to live. Reveal more of Your truth to me. I praise You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Further Reading: Jeremiah 15
STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. – Mark 16:15

INTRODUCTION

The word gospel literally means “good news” and occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word euaggelion, from which we get our English words evangelist, evangel, and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of Scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the good news concerning Christ and the way of salvation.

The key to understanding the gospel is to know why it’s good news. To do that, we must start with the bad news. The Old Testament Law was given to Israel during the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 5:1). The Law can be thought of as a measuring stick, and sin is anything that falls short of “perfect” according to that standard. The righteous requirement of the Law is so stringent that no human being could possibly follow it perfectly, in letter or in spirit. Despite our “goodness” or “badness” relative to each other, we are all in the same spiritual boat—we have sinned, and the punishment for sin is death, i.e. separation from God, the source of life (Romans 3:23). In order for us to go to heaven, God’s dwelling place and the realm of life and light, sin must be somehow removed or paid for. The Law established the fact that cleansing from sin can only happen through the bloody sacrifice of an innocent life (Hebrews 9:22).

The gospel involves Jesus’ death on the cross as the sin offering to fulfill the Law’s righteous requirement (Romans 8:3–4; Hebrews 10:5–10). Under the Law, animal sacrifices were offered year after year as a reminder of sin and a symbol of the coming sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:3–4). When Christ offered Himself at Calvary, that symbol became a reality for all who would believe (Hebrews 10:11–18). The work of atonement is finished now, and that’s good news.

The gospel also involves Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The fact that Jesus conquered sin and death (sin’s penalty) is good news, indeed. The fact that He offers to share that victory with us is the greatest news of all (John 14:19).

Elements of the Gospel

The elements of the gospel are clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6, a key passage concerning the good news of God: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living.” Notice, first, that Paul “received” the gospel and then “passed it on”; this is a divine message, not a man-made invention.

Second, the gospel is “of first importance.” Everywhere the apostles went, they preached the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Third, the message of the gospel is accompanied by proofs: Christ died for our sins (proved by His burial), and He rose again the third day (proved by the eyewitnesses).

Fourth, all this was done “according to the Scriptures”; the theme of the whole Bible is the salvation of mankind through Christ. The Bible is the gospel.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is a bold message, and we are not ashamed of proclaiming it. It is a powerful message, because it is God’s good news. It is a saving message, the only thing that can truly reform the human heart. It is a universal message, for Jews and Gentiles both. And the gospel is received by faith; salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9).

The gospel is the good news that God loves the world enough to give His only Son to die for our sin (John 3:16). The gospel is good news because our salvation and eternal life and home in heaven are guaranteed through Christ (John 14:1–4). “He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you”- 1 Peter 1:3–4.

The gospel is good news when we understand that we do not (and cannot) earn our salvation; the work of redemption and justification is complete, having been finished on the cross (John 19:30). Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). The gospel is the good news that we, who were once enemies of God, have been reconciled by the blood of Christ and adopted into the family of God (Romans 5:10; John 1:12). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1. The gospel is the good news that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – Romans 8:1.

To reject the gospel is to embrace the bad news. Condemnation before God is the result of a lack of faith in the Son of God, God’s only provision for salvation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” – John 3:17–18. God has given a doomed world good news: The Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Stay blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sundays 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 Fm – Saturdays 7:30 pm; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymns and their Stories & every Thursdays for Bible Studies at the Salt & Light office, Abelemkpe.