Living at Peace in a World of Hostility

Does it seem like the division, hatred, and pain in the world is getting worse? Satan, whom Jesus refers to as “the thief,” seeks to ruin this world and our lives. Consider the evil, turmoil, trouble, and destruction we see and hear about. Jesus said that Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” but, in contrast, our Lord continues by saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

We want to have the FULL LIFE that Jesus offers, including a life of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV); forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with others (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20); and the opportunity to serve Christ in our work and not simply humans (see Galatians 5:17, 23, 24), to name but a few examples of the full life Jesus offers.

But how do we turn our attention away from the sadness and pain of this world and ENJOY the life Jesus offers?

When the Apostle Paul wrote the letters to the church at Philippi, he was in prison. Some of his writings in what we know as the book of Philippians in the New Testament indicate he was facing death. Yet he wrote this beautiful, encouraging passage —

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)

Regardless of our circumstances, we can CHOOSE to follow this Scripture.

  1. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” The word “rejoice” means to recognize God’s grace (favor) and be glad about it.1 How has the Lord shown you grace or favor? If you are a Christian, you have been saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). [There are many Scriptures about His grace. Click this link to read more — https://biblescan.com/search.php?q=grace] There are many things to be cheerful about. We don’t have to be in a certain situation to rejoice in the Lord! He is the source of our joy.
  2. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” One of the ways we can humble ourselves before others is to be gentle. And remember the Lord is near! What joy and peace it brings to know that He said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV)
  3. “Do not be anxious about anything . . .” Whew! That’s a difficult task for some of us, me included! The word “anxious” can mean “worry” or “distracted.” Thankfully the Holy Spirit, through the writings of Paul, tells us what to do instead — “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” So instead of focusing on the things that disturb us and allowing them to lead us to worry, we are to PRAY in every situation, PETITION (ask) God in every situation, and GIVE THANKS in every situation.
  4. When we choose to pray, petition and give thanks, God’s answer is PEACE! “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace will guard (protect) our hearts and minds, so our thoughts and feelings do not need to feel pulled in many directions, as happens when we worry! Jesus is the solution. And His peace surpasses all understanding.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS OR SMALL GROUPS

  1. What part of this Scripture speaks to your heart or stands out to you? Why did you choose that part?
  2. What part is the most challenging?
  3. What part is most comforting?
  4. How will you put this Scripture into practice?

1 BibleHub.com. Discovery Bible, HELPS Word-studies https://biblehub.com/greek/5463.htm Retrieved 11/29/2022

by Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International

Take time to truly consider how much God loves you.

We have read Scriptures about God’s love.

We’ve heard sermons and lessons, read articles, and perhaps taught others about His love.

But do we take the time to GRASP, FULLY UNDERSTAND, REALIZE how much God loves us?

Perhaps.

Maybe.

**Take a break from reading and ask the Father to help you more fully grasp His love, then click on the Scriptures below to learn or be reminded of some of the ways He shows us His love.**

Would you and I purposefully die for our enemies?

We were once enemies of God because we did not follow Him; but He sent His son Jesus to die for us in order to save us from the punishment that our sins deserve. See Romans 5:7-8.

Can you imagine giving your only son to DIE for anyone? God the Father did. See John 3:16.

But Jesus was NOT forced to die; He made the decision to lay down His life. See John 10:17-18. Imagine the love Jesus must have for us that led Him to CHOOSE to die so that we can become God’s CHILDREN. See John 1:11-13.

Consider the benefits He gives when we give our lives to Him.

When anyone becomes a Christian, He forgives us of our sins and the Holy Spirit lives in us. See Acts 2:38.

As humans, it is our nature to try to preserve our lives. But we know we will not live on this earth forever. As Christians, however, we know that we will live FOREVER with God. See Romans 6:23.

We not only have the privilege of asking God for what we need in prayer, we are commanded to do so! See Matthew 7:7-11 and Philippians 4:6-7. This includes casting all our care on Him. See 1 Peter 5:7.

Do you need wisdom? He gives it to His children. See James 1:5.

He gives us grace, which we don’t deserve. See James 4:4-6.

All Christians are given one or more spiritual gifts. See 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

God provides a way for us to have purpose in our work. See Col 3:17 and Col 3:23-24.

The fruit of the Spirit, which He gives us, glorifies God and helps us in our everyday lives. Galatians 5:22-23.

We are part of the most important group in the world, the church, which is “the body of Christ” and we each have a purpose in that body. See 1 Cor 12:12-31.

He teaches us to rejoice and gives us peace. See Philippians 4:4-7.

What should we think about? He tell us. See Philippians 4:8. Consider the benefits of thinking on these things.

This is not a complete list of the good gifts our Father gives us, but each one demonstrates His deep love for you as His child.

What will you do to help you remember these truths so you can put them into practice and be blessed?

-Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International | nlbiministry@gmail.com.

Controlling Our Minds

by Jo Umberger

The more we grow in faith in Jesus, the more we learn about self-control (see 2 Peter 1:5-8). Each time we are tempted but choose not to sin, we are exercising self-control. When we have the opportunity to do good and do it, we are demonstrating self-control. If we stop ourselves before responding to someone with an ugly, ungracious, or sinful response, that’s an example of self-control.

After more than five decades of being a Christian, I have found one area of self-control to be the most challenging — controlling my thoughts. Perhaps you have experienced this struggle as well.

How can we GLORIFY GOD with our thoughts?

What problems are caused when we DON’T control our thoughts?

How will our lives be BETTER when we control our thoughts?

The answers are in the Bible. What does the BIBLE SAY regarding controlling our thoughts?

Here are seven strategies for controlling our thoughts taken from Scripture. Click each of the Bible verse links below and complete the sentences. (These verses are taken from the New International Version.)

1. 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Take ___________ every thought to make it ___________________________________________________. ” We must first BECOME AWARE of what we are thinking.

2. Hebrews 3:1b ” . . . ________ your ___________________ on Jesus.” This requires us to be INTENTIONAL about what we think.

3. Colossians 3:1-4 “. . . _______ your _________________ on things above . . . set your ______________ on _________________________________, not on ________________________________.” When we do these things, will our thoughts run out of control or remain steadfast?

4. Philippians 4:4 “_________________ in the Lord always.” The word in the blank means to recognize favor from God and be glad about it. What if we were to train our minds to BE AWARE OF favor from God and then MEDITATE on how glad we are about that favor?

5. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be _______________ about ________________, but in ________________________________________, by ___________________and petition, with _______________________, present your __________________________________________________. And the _______________________ of God, which ________________________________________________ will _________________________________________________________________________ in Christ Jesus.” This verse needs no further explanation. It tells us what NOT to do, what TO do, and what the RESULT will be!

6. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is _____________, whatever is ________________, whatever is ______________________, whatever is ___________________, whatever is ______________________ whatever is _____________________________—if anything is _____________________ or ______________________—_____________ about such things. Memorizing this verse is a great first step. Practicing it throughout the day will help us control our thinking.

7. Matthew 7:7-8 “_______ and it shall be _____________________________________, _______________ and you shall ________________, _______________ and the __________________ shall be _________________ to you.” Remembering this Scripture when we pray, and praying that God’s will be done, provides confidence that God can handle anything that our minds are concerned about.

After reading these Scriptures, ask God to help you obey each one. Consider putting these Scriptures on paper and placing it in a location where you can read it daily.

May God bless each of us as we seek to obey His will by being self-controlled in our thinking.

Rooted or Shallow?

by Jo Umberger

“A farmer went out to sow his seed . . . Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root . . . The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” Matthew 13:3, 5, 6, 20-21

What does the writer mean when he uses the word “root” in verse 21? Thayers Greek Lexicon explains that the word is “spoken of one who has but a superficial experience of divine truth, has not permitted it to make its way into the inmost recesses of his soul” 1

So the practical question becomes, “Have I allowed the divine truth into the innermost depths of my soul?”

Whew. What a question!

What steps can we take to allow His truth deep into our souls?

Perhaps we can begin by asking ourselves how we respond during trouble. If we are not obedient during “everyday” kinds of troubles, are we likely to stand fast if real trouble (such as persecution) comes as a result of our being a Christian?

Likely, the answer is no. We are not likely to stand firm during persecution if we don’t stand firm while facing simpler troubles.

“Everyday troubles” can be challenging. Not having the money we think we need. Illness. Emotional difficulties. Relationship struggles. Situations such as these can divert our attention from the Lord. Depending on our PERCEPTION of the difficulty, we may even stop depending on the Lord, or worse — walk away from Him.

If this is true, how much more likely are we to deny Him when trouble or persecution comes because of our belief in Him? Even as recently as this year, we have heard news of Christians been killed because of their faith.

Any Christian could face trouble for being a Christian, although it is not likely that every Christian will have extreme hardships. This leads us to two question for all of us.

  1. Are we willing to speak the name of Jesus or talk about Christianity at work, or in the community, among those who may not believe in Jesus?
  2. If we say we are willing, do we follow through?

Here is one way to start the process. Doing a good deed for someone who doesn’t know Jesus is a practical way to show them the kind of love Jesus offers. This can lead to opportunities to share with them how God has worked in our lives. By building trust with them, they are more likely to share their troubles with us. In my experience, this is the point at which they are most likely to be open to reading the Word of God with a Christian, which can lead to a Bible study about how to become a Christian. Not only does this help the person who has not been following Jesus, but this process can strengthen the Christian’s faith as well!

When our faith is strengthened, we are more likely to stand firm in the midst of trials.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Do you believe that witnessing about God’s love and sharing the Gospel with others strengthens the Christian’s faith in the innermost depths of our souls?
  2. What other areas of service have strengthened your faith in the past?
  3. What are some examples of situations that lead to a weak faith?
  4. What daily and weekly habits do we need to strengthen our faith?
  5. What daily and weekly habits do we need to help one another have a strong faith?

All Scriptures quoted are from the New International Version.

1 Thayers Greek Lexicon. https://biblehub.com/greek/4491.htm. Retrieved 6/24/22

Joy on Our Journey

by Jo Umberger

Have you ever noticed that some Christians seem to be joyful most of the time? Are they simply happy with their circumstances? Perhaps they have always made it a habit to smile, which makes them appear to be joyful, even if they are suffering inwardly. Or are they truly aware of God’s favor?

Because joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), it is only by the power of the Lord that can we have true joy! Nothing else — no amount of money, perfect health, a job that you love, or any other person — provides lasting joy. True joy is not a temporary emotion. Like love, peace, patience and the other fruits of the Spirit, we must grow in it.

So where do we start?

Jesus said, ” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). When Paul and Silas were in prison for the Gospel, Acts 16:25 tells us they sang praises to the Lord! Obviously we can choose our attitude when we are in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Another way to practice being joyful is to intentionally dedicate our work everyday to the Lord. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:17, 23, 24)

Whether we are cleaning the floor, taking care of a sick child, manufacturing an airplane, preaching the Gospel, typing a report, or leading a country, it is the Lord Christ we are serving. When we realize the significance of serving Christ throughout the day, it can increase our joy.

1 Thes. 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” To “rejoice” is “to delight in God’s grace (“rejoice”) – literally, to experience God’s grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace.”¹ To be conscious of something requires practice.

How do we practice rejoicing? Make it a habit to recognize favor from the Lord, then stop and say to Him. “Lord, this (specific blessing) is Your favor and I’m glad about it!”

Changing our mindset can be challenging, especially if we believe we must do it on our own. Knowing that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit assures us we are do not need to rely on our own strength. We can, however, choose to have an attitude of joy, dedicate our work to Him, and practice rejoicing. We all need joy on this journey of life!

All Scriptures quoted are from the New International Version.

Questions for Consideration

  1. When are you most likely to be filled with joy?
  2. Under what circumstances is it most difficult to recognize God’s favor?
  3. What are some ways you can remind yourself to practice rejoicing throughout the day?

¹ Strongs Concordance, HELPS word-studies. https://biblehub.com/greek/5463.htm Retrieved 6/21/22.

Here is a simple explanation of why and how to become a Christian.

https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/

Can I Be Free From Worry?

by Jo Umberger

There was a time in my life when I thought I would scream if one more person said to me, “Just don’t worry about it.” “Just,” I thought. “Apparently you think refraining from worry is a simple proposition!”

Honestly I had no idea how to stop worrying. “But what if we don’t have enough money? Or one of us is in a car crash? What if things don’t work out like we need them to work out?”

The roots of this kind of negative anticipatory thinking can be many. For me, worry was a way of dealing with unpleasant circumstances that were outside my control.

It’s twisted but here it is. Somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that analyzing the problem over and again would solve the problem. That’s a big, fat, lie!

When we worry, we are meditating on the negative.

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Ready for a new idea?

What will it take for us to control our thoughts?

Yes, there is personal responsibility in this matter. My job and your job is to take control of what we think.

Here are two very important strategies for controlling thoughts, which means we are to choose the thoughts on which we will meditate. Bottom line: we can control worry rather than allowing it to control us.

1. Study the Bible to know the Son of God and to learn the truth of God. If we truly believe (mentally accept and act on) these and other truths, we can use the truth of God as a weapon to combat the lies that Satan plants in our minds.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV (Emphasis mine)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NIV (Emphasis mine)

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I John 3:1a NIV (Emphasis mine)

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” I John 5:13 NIV (Emphasis mine)

2. When lies from Satan and negative thoughts (such as worry) come into our minds, we must take them captive.

 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholdsWe demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV (Emphasis mine)

When the thought enters your mind, “catch it.” Be aware of what you are thinking!

Question the thought. “Is this based on the truth of God or is it a lie from Satan? Will I continue to think about this, meditate on it, and think about all related possibilities?”

If the thought is not based on truth, take charge! We must replace what we are thinking with another thought. Memorize this verse to be ready for this spiritual warfare.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV (Emphasis mine)

This is one tool we can use to break a bad habit of dwelling on the negative and on thoughts that Satan plants in our minds.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one (Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV (parenthetical phrase and emphasis mine)

Jesus was tempted in every way, which means He was tempted to worry. But he did not give in to the temptation.

Jesus offers freedom from worry. We must believe him — mentally accepting His truth and acting on it!

You’re not invited.

by Jo Umberger

You’ve heard there’s an upcoming announcement about some incredibly good news and that everyone in your community has received an invitation to hear it.

You checked your

mailbox,

email,

and social media accounts

. . . but there is no invitation.

It hits you hard. “There’s some really good news and no one is willing to share it with me.”

Here’s a true story about a guy who needed the good news.

He was an important official in charge of the treasury for the highest official in the land. And he was very puzzled. He’d just read something that he did not understand, when suddenly, a stranger ran up to him.

“‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  . . . Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:30-35 NIV)

The good news changed everything  — the man turned his life over to Jesus! “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” (Acts 8:36-39 NIV)

Prompted by the Holy Spirit, someone had asked him a simple question.

Here’s another true story. My husband has worked in media for most of his career. The friends he has made in the industry — both men and women — are intelligent, beautiful, and outgoing.

The Lord prompted me to speak about Jesus with one of these intelligent, beautiful, outgoing women.

In my flesh, I felt intimidated. She was well-known, well liked and truly appreciated by her peers. She was highly intelligent and had an air of confidence. (My flesh was really talking to me!) “What will I say?” I wondered.

Knowing that this was in God’s hands, I asked her to meet me for lunch.

Fighting back the nervous feelings, I visited with her over a sandwich or salad or something. Soon — much sooner than I had expected — my new friend began to confide in me. At the end of our visit, I asked her a simple question I had been taught to ask.

“Would you like to read the Bible together?”

She jumped at the chance and we began meeting weekly at a restaurant near her home, Bibles in tote, reading the book of Matthew together. After reading just a few chapters, she looked up and said, “I want to be baptized.”

What?! We hadn’t even talked about baptism! She believed Jesus was the Son of God and wanted Him to be her Lord. Needless to say, we began looking at the Scriptures related to baptism.

In the next 3-4 months, my new friend, her best friend, and her best friend’s adult daughter had all given their lives to Jesus and been baptized, experiencing the same thing the eunuch had experienced in Acts 8. Every sin was washed away and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, beginning a new life.

Sometimes Christians just need a good question to get the conversation started

“Would you like to read the Bible together?”

Is there anyone in your life who needs this question? Perhaps this is someone who doesn’t understand what’s so good about Jesus dying on a cross. Maybe they just need to choose one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and start reading with you!

Maybe this is someone who has never received an invitation to hear the good news.

“O Lord Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Savior of our souls, help us to recognize opportunities to speak with people about you. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.”

If you have questions about how to follow Jesus or deepen your relationship with Him, email us at NLBIministry@gmail.com.

I Ask You for a Miracle, Father

by Beth Fore

“Ask and it will be
given to you; seek and
you will find; knock and
the door will be opened to
you.  For everyone who asks
receives; he who seeks
finds; and to him who
knocks, the door will
be opened.”

(Matthew 7:7-8 NIV)

I Ask You for a Miracle, Father

I ask You for a miracle, Father,
that You will give my loved one healing.
I pray for Your divine intervention,
that health to this body You will bring.

Mary and Martha asked You, Father,
to heal Lazarus as he lay on his death bed.
You waited to come until after his death,
but then You raised him from the dead.

Jairus sought You out, Father,
and asked You to heal his dying daughter.
After she died, You went with him
and took her by the hand and healed her.

I ask You for a miracle, Father,
for all things are possible with You.
Immeasurably more than we ask or imagine,
is what You are able to do.

You have told me to ask, Father,
“for everyone who asks receives.”
I ask for complete faith in You, Father,
for You bless the one who believes.

I ask You for a miracle, Father,
that You will give my loved one healing.
I pray for Your divine intervention,
that health to this body You will bring.

In the Mighty name of Jesus Christ,
I offer up this prayer!

by Beth Fore

*Everyone encounters difficult times in their lives when they have no control over their circumstances in life.  God has told us we can pray about anything and he will hear and answer our prayers.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  (Matthew 7:7-8)

One of the times people pray to God is in times of serious illness for themselves or someone they love.  We realize that we have no control over the healing, so we ask God to heal us or someone we love, recognizing that God is the only one who can heal.  God responds to our prayers in many ways.  He may do as we ask and heal the person.  He may not completely heal the person, but he may give him longer to live.  The person may die, and this could be a form of healing for the person’s spirit to be freed from his dying body.

Sometimes, it seems as though God does nothing; but we know that God hears our prayers, cares about us, knows what is best for us, and will eventually answer our prayers, though it may be in a way we do not recognize or understand. 

We have examples of God answering his children’s prayers in the Old and New Testaments.  God could and did perform miracles of healing for many people.  God has the power to heal anyone from anything, even death, and He delights when his children call upon him to perform miracles because he knows they believe He can do them and it shows their complete reliance on him!

God loves a grateful, thankful heart, so we should be like the one leper, out of ten, who returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  We should also give God all the honor and glory for these healings.  This is one way God shows non-believers his power and might, and it is one way a person witnesses for the Lord! 

Applications

  1. Do you really believe these words spoken in Matthew 7:7-8?  Can you share an example of a time when you received one of these promises from God?
  2. What was the purpose of performing miracles in the Bible?
  3. Do you believe God still performs miracles today?  Why, or why not?
  4. Do you think it is wise to follow your request to God with a statement such as, “if this is the will of God”?
  5. Have you, or anyone you know, ever experienced a miracle in your own life.  Explain.

If you have questions about how to follow Jesus or deepen your relationship with Him, email us at NLBIministry@gmail.com.

Here’s an article about becoming a Christian. https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/

3 Things to Make Your Heart Brighter

by Jo Umberger

If there were three simple things you could do to ease your mind and heart, grow closer to God, and increase your joy, how fast would you run toward them?

Consider how our lives would change if we were to practice this Scripture consistently and daily.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New International Version)

Rejoice always

To rejoice means to recognize God’s favor and be glad about it. God’s favor is abundant! From a spiritual perspective, He has expressed far greater love than we can imagine by giving His only Son, perfect in every way, as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus willingly went to the cross; He is an obedient son who loves His Father and us in a way that we cannot comprehend.

God also provides for our physical needs. Certainly we may not have everything we want, but He never promised that we would.

Certainly the circumstances of life don’t always lend themselves to rejoicing but we always have a choice about which perspective we will take. Up or down. Joy or sadness.

We can make it a practice to take time throughout the day and consider how God has blessed us then say to Him, “Lord, this blessing is favor from You and I’m glad. I rejoice in you!” 

Pray continually

A minister made this easier for me to grasp when he paraphrased it this way, “Stay in touch with God.”

We are bombarded with messages. How much time do we spend in conversation on the phone or in-person? How many times a day do we check social media, emails, or texts? What if we were to spend this much effort staying in touch with God?

Imagine how much peace we could have if we were to take our cares to the Father instead of pondering them over and over and over. How much more focused we would be if we were to seek His wisdom by praying over decisions instead of reacting to life’s challenges immediately!

Interceding for other people in the Name of Jesus is an important part of our prayer lives. Not only does God bless others, but we are also blessed when we focus on the needs of others. It gives us an opportunity to serve when we can as well as a broader perspective. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what’s happening in our own lives that we forget (or don’t make the time to learn) what others are going through. Praying for others benefits everyone involved.

One of my challenges of praying throughout the day is remembering to do so. It takes practice!

Give thanks in all circumstances

We are not told to give thanks FOR all circumstances. Jesus specifically said we would have trouble in this world. But is there anything for which we can choose to be thankful — even in the midst of trouble?

Giving thanks to God is one way to glorify God, to worship Him. Giving thanks demonstrates that we are paying attention and that we are not taking God’s blessings for granted. Giving thanks centers our minds on the blessings He continually pours on us.

Psychologists say that focusing on the things for which we are thankful provides multiple benefits. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, identifies 7 benefits of gratitude.

When I focus on the spiritual blessings, people, situations, and things for which I am thankful, my mind and heart are happy. Let’s choose to focus on these things instead of negative, hurtful or even painful thoughts.

When we rejoice, pray, and give thanks, our spirit has an opportunity to rise above the hurtful and ugly things in this life. Our minds and hearts are more at ease, we grow closer to God, and our joy is increased.

Will you or I allow anything to keep us from running toward God in these ways?

If you have questions about how to follow Jesus or deepen your relationship with Him, email us at NLBIministry@gmail.com.

Crossing Over to the Other Side

By Beth Fore

“One thing I ask of
the LORD, this is what
I seek:  that I may
dwell in the house of the
LORD all the days of my
life, to gaze upon the
beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in
his temple.”

(Psalm 27:4 NIV)

Crossing Over to the Other Side

Holy Father, as I rest here quietly
in sweet repose upon my bed.
My mind wrestles with consciousness,
and my thoughts go where they are led.

I can vaguely hear distant voices
of loved ones attending to me.
I feel the warmth of their gentle presence
as they touch my body lovingly.

Sometimes I see the smiling faces
of loved ones who are now a memory.
Sometimes I hear joy and laughter,
precious moments with friends and family.

And then I see the kind face of Jesus,
shining brightly aglow with light.
He speaks softly with a smile on His lips,
“Child, you are precious in my sight.”

I feel the essence of life slip away
as I breathe my last breath of air.
I see Jesus extending His hand to me,
as He answers my last earthly prayer.

by Beth Fore

*One of the greatest motivations for Christians choosing to accept Jesus as their Savior and to live a life of love and obedience to Him, is that they know they will one day be in heaven with Him and will be able to worship, praise, and adore Him all the time.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to see him in his temple.”  (Psalm 27:4 NIV)

Every person has a unique journey with God, and we can’t know for sure what a person experiences in the last few months, weeks, days, or minutes of his life.  I have been present with my parents and my sister when they were dying, and I’ve witnessed some very interesting things.  Sometimes you see people squirming and getting agitated in their sleep, as though they are hashing out some things about their lives with God.  Sometimes, you see a person smiling and calling out to loved ones who have already died.  It is as though the person sees their loved ones in heaven and they look forward to going to heaven to be with them.

I think that there are times in the weeks and days before a person’s death when they are in an altered reality, or a semi-conscience state.  They know what’s going on here on earth, but they also seem to know what is going on in the world beyond the grave.  It seems as though God is preparing them for what is yet to come.

Unfortunately, many people are in great pain before they die.  They are usually given much stronger doses of pain medicine to relieve them.  They may have hallucinations about their death and their destination after death.  This may be very pleasant or very unpleasant depending on their destination.  Sometimes people who are dying talk about what they see in these dreams , or hallucinations, and it can be very frightening if they are seeing hell rather than heaven.

The Christian’s greatest desire is to see God in all His power and holiness and to stand before Him in heaven and gaze upon His face as he worships and praises Him.  The Christian looks forward to the beauty and perfection of heaven and the fact that there will be no sickness, sadness, or sorrow in heaven.  The Christian waits to hear the voice of Jesus and knows that his Savior will take him by the hand and lead him to his new home in heaven!

Applications

  1. Even though the Bible teaches us that there is a heaven and a hell, many choose not to believe in either of them, or, at least, not hell.  Why do you think this is so?
  2. How do you picture God in all of his beauty?
  3. Have you, or anyone you know, experienced some things that seemed supernatural, or very revealing, at the time of a loved one’s death?  Share them.
  4. What do you fear about death?
  5. What do you think a Christian’s attitude toward death should be?

If you have questions about how to follow Jesus or deepen your relationship with Him, email us at NLBIministry@gmail.com.

Here’s an article about becoming a Christian. https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/