In 1976, every person who attended the weekend workshop at the Williamstown Church of Christ received a “Don’t Quit” badge. Not only did it remind us of the theme of the workshop, but it encouraged us to PERSEVERE as Christians.

“Don’t Quit” needs to be the theme of every Christian in every age! Worldwide events of the last three years – a pandemic, wars, famine, inflation, an increase in violent crime, and many other such calamities – have impacted everyone to an extent.

According to Professor Barbara Stottinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, “brittle” and “anxious” are two words that are commonly used in business today to describe the world after 2020. She writes, “Brittleness is not just about volatility anymore, it is about a sudden and unforeseen shock to or even the destruction of a seemingly stable system, which may lead to a global ripple effect . . . With increasing brittleness, the world is also becoming more terrifying. This can lead to feelings of power- and helplessness, turning people rigid with fear. Anxiety can also be triggered by misinformation and fake news spread online.”¹

How can Christians persevere, no matter what happens in the world or in their personal lives? Holy Spirit, in the book of Hebrews, gives specific instructions on how to stay on course.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 New International Version)

Throw off all hindrances and sin.

What weighs you down and distracts you from Jesus? It’s a tough question but it is certainly worth considering.

Think about what would happen if a baby were playing with a fishing net. At first it looks very interesting to the child, who crawls toward the net, gazing carefully at it as she tries to understand what it is. Then she crawls onto the net, around the net, and eventually finds herself under the net. And then come the tears and loud cries. If she could speak, she would say, “GET ME OUT OF THIS THING!”

Holy Spirit tells us to throw off sin that entangles us. Anything that is pulling our hearts away from Jesus, whether thought or action, is entangling us and we are told by God to throw it off. Are you struggling with any sin? Take time to speak with the Lord about it. If you realize there is sin in your life, repent of it. Repentance is more than simply saying, “I’m sorry.” True repentance is about seeking to not engage in that sin again.


The Greek word translated “perseverance” means “a remaining behind, a patient enduring,” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.²

The writer refers to the Christian life by using the illustration of running, perhaps referring to a marathon. It’s a very long race. Sometimes there’s bad weather. Sometimes the runner is in pain. Sometimes it’s a bright and beautiful day. Regardless of the circumstances, a successful runner stays in the race to the end.

How are we, mere humans, supposed to persevere under the trials and trouble we face?

Focus on Jesus.  

The word “fix” is translated from the Greek word “apharaὁ,” which means “to look away from all else at.”³

If our focus is on anything of this world – money, power, position, or anything else – then we will be distracted from the race. What happens to a distracted runner? Often he falls.

How do we keep from being distracted on a daily basis? The Bible gives many strategies. We can read the Word of God, meditate on His truth, pray throughout the day, give thanks, purposefully rejoice in Him, sing to Him, and worship Him by the way we live our lives. If we do these things, or others li ke them, we are more likely to keep Jesus in our sights – “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Consider him who endured such opposition.

Jesus persevered through a betrayal by a close friend; an accusation at a trial that had no honest witnesses; being spat on, hit with fists, and slappeddisowned by one of the three closest friends; floggedstrippedmocked and struck on the head several times; and then crucified. He endured all this so that He could be a redeeming sacrifice for the sins of everyone who has or will ever live.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:20-26) Does that mean we will have trouble in this life? John 16:33 assures us we will, but He also assures us that He has overcome the world and that we can have peace in Him.

Why are we to persevere? The conclusion of the matter is stated in the last sentence – so that we “will not grow weary and lose heart.”

What is the outcome?

Later in this same chapter of Hebrews 12, verse 28 says, “. . . we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken . . .” The reason we persevere is because of His great love, God has made us a part of His kingdom and will provide a home for us with Him forever!

-Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International NLBI.net | NLBIministry@gmail.com


¹Stottinger, Barbara. “BANI vs. VUCA: How Leadership Works in the World of Tomorrow.” WU Executive Academy, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), https://executiveacademy.at/en/news/detail/bani-vs-vuca-how-leadership-works-in-the-world-of-tomorrow. Retrieved 2/24/23.

²Bible Hub. “Hebrews 12:1.” Strongs Concordance Greek #5281. Accessed February 24, 2023. https://biblehub.com/greek/5281.htm

³Bible Hub. “Hebrews 12:2.” Strongs Concordance Greek #872. Accessed February 24, 2023. https://biblehub.com/greek/872.htm

⁴Aina, Joshua. [Joshua Aina]. (2022). Turn your eyes upon Jesus // Acapella [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbD_6QnJ6wc. Retrieved 2/24/23.

Jesus said, “Take Heart!”

In John 16:33 (New International Version), Jesus addresses two conflicting themes when he said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

PERHAPS the reason we feel somewhat overwhelmed when trouble comes is because deep down in our hearts we believe that a “life of peace” means we should not have any trouble. We KNOW IN OUR MINDS that this is a lie but MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, we are struggling with this idea.

Let’s explore some of the many Scriptures about the peace God offers as we live in this world full of trouble.


APPLICATION QUESTION: What do we learn from these Scriptures about the peace that Jesus promises?


Why do Christians have trouble in this world? Even though we sometimes bring trouble on ourselves by not following Jesus’ teachings, being a Christ-follower puts us at odds with this world.

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 says Satan is the “prince of the power of the air” and he works in those who are disobedient, as all of us once were.
  • Satan wants to destroy us (John 10:10, I Peter 5:8).

Yes, there is trouble in this world but Christ came to save us from following Satan, which is what we are doing when we do not follow Jesus. Hebrews 10:10 tells us, ” . . . we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The Holy Spirit was addressing Christians in this context.

We have a choice. We can follow Jesus or follow Satan. There are no other options. If we are not following Jesus, then anything else we follow is of Satan. Here are a few examples.

  • If our greatest passion is money instead of Jesus, then we are by nature following Satan.
  • If we are focused on having our own way instead of following Jesus’ way, then we obviously are not Christ-followers. We are following Satan.
  • If the lust of our eyes or the lust of our flesh (which describes many different kinds of sin) is our way of life, then we are doing the opposite of what Christ commanded and are falling right into Satan’s trap.

When we become Christ-followers, we make a decision to die to self (Galatians 2:20), which is the same as dying to sin, are buried through baptism (immersion in water) and then are raised to live a new life (Romans 6:1-14). WE ARE FREED FROM A LIFE OF SIN! As we continue to walk in His light, confessing our sins, his blood continually cleanses us from our sin (1 John 1:5-10).

APPLICATION: Read each of the following promises and make a note regarding what He offers.

As Christ-followers, we will have trouble in this world. He most certainly had trouble. BUT HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD and He will give us everything we need to remain faithful to Him, even during trouble. The apostle Peter told his readers that God will restore them and make them ” strong, firm and steadfast” after suffering “a little while” (1 Peter 5:7-11). And when our time here is finished, we will LIVE FOREVER IN A TROUBLE-FREE, GLORIOUS PLACE RULED BY GOD (John 14:2-3, Revelation 21:1-4).

In the meantime, remember Jesus instructions, “. . . take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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

What Are You Focusing on This Year?

Do you make new year’s resolutions? While the beginning of a new year is a good time to set new goals and create new plans, it is also a great time to examine our hearts and minds with the set purpose of growing closer to the Lord Jesus, Father God and Holy Spirit.

What will our hearts and minds be focused on in 2023?

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 NIV

In the previous chapter, Paul refers to the fact that Christians have died with Christ. Romans 6:1-4 explains it further by stating that we have died to sin, were buried through baptism, and live a new life. The passages we are discussing today, Colossians 3:1-4, outlines strategies for living this new life.

Strategy #1: Seek things above, where Christ is.

God wants us to want Him more than anything on this earth. The passage could mean that we are to set our hearts on spiritual matters in general or on heaven specifically. Focusing on both of these will help us, but let’s consider the latter, setting our hearts on heaven.

When we set our hearts on heaven, we desire heaven and all the blessings God has in store for us. In John 14:1-3, Jesus tells us that He will prepare a place for us, then come and get us so we can be with Him forever! There will be no more tears, pain, mourning or death in Heaven, as John explains in Revelation 21:4. Christians will be rewarded according to 1 Corinthians 3:8.

Based on the Scripture, how do you envision heaven?

Strategy #2: Direct our minds to heavenly things rather than earthly things.

In Col. 3:2, the Greek word translated “set your mind on” is the same word translated as “mindset”1 in Philippians 2:5-11, where Paul tells us to “have the same mindset as Christ.” He goes to explain that Jesus was a servant, humble, and obedient — even to the point of dying.

1 John 2:16 explains that there are three types of sin — things our eyes long for, desires of our flesh, and what our selfish pride wants. These temporary longings draw our hearts away from God; however, if we do not intentionally set our minds on the things of God, we will fall prey to these temptations.

What are some ways for us to have our minds set on spiritual things? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Pause throughout the day to praise God and to thank Him for specific blessings.
  2. Memorize Scripture and recite it to yourself.
  3. Read the Bible every day or several times throughout the week.
  4. When we realize that we are paying so much attention to our jobs, our stuff, or even our relationships that we are not focusing on God, repent and turn our minds to Him and His love.

Our lives will reflect what we treasure. How is a person’s world different when their heart is set on spiritual things instead of the things of the world that ultimately bring pain, destruction, sadness, and eternal death?

Strategy #3: Remember that we have given our lives to Christ and will be with Him in His glory.

Ponder this truth. Pray about it, asking God to fill your mind with it.

What’s next?

How many articles have you read this week? Probably a few (or a lot!). In order for the truth of the Word as outlined in this article to make a difference in your life, it has to be put into practice. So you may need a reminder, such as printing the Scriptures and placing them in a prominent place where you can read them on a daily basis. Consider memorizing one or more of the Scriptures mentioned and reciting them to help you remember to put them into action. Reading is good, but unless we put Jesus’ teachings into practice, we will not be changed.

– Jo Umberger | Vice President | NewLife Behavior International

1 Strongs. “5426 phroneo.” Biblehub.com, https://biblehub.com/greek/5426.htm. Retrieved 01/06/2023.

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.


  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?



**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.


  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.


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



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.