CHARISMA

THE ANSWER TO FEAR | SUPERNATURAL FAVOR | PASSING THE TRUST TEST LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

CELEBRATING

THIRTY YEARS WITH JOYCE MEYER
MINISTRIES
CHARISMA’S TOP 30 FAVORITE TEACHINGS fROM JOYCE MEYER

WHEN wILL GOD ANSwEr MY PraYEr?

If your prayers remain unanswered, maybe it’s time to ask yourself a few questions
them], the finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and every form of false, harsh, unjust and wicked speaking” (AMP). So, God’s saying it’s just as important to glorify Him through the words you speak when you’re not praying as it is when you are praying. I encourage you to examine your speech regularly so that you can experience even more success in prayer. 3. Is my love walk lacking? I believe the mouth is such a major part of the love walk. I don’t think we truly realize how much we can do for people by building them up with our words. And we need to be even more careful not to say things that tear them down. The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all else (see Jer. 17:9). We want to believe we have a good heart, so to learn the truth about ourselves we need to give our tongues a real close examination. Do you remember when you went to the doctor and were asked to open your mouth and say, “Ahh”? The reason you were asked to do that is so the doctor could examine your tongue. The tongue tells a physician a lot about physical health. Likewise, the tongue tells us a lot about spiritual health.

When I trusted God and began exercising (even though I didn’t want to), I learned a life-changing principle

GETTINg RESULTS
I still continue to this day to have challenging times with the workout program. I still get sore, and some days I have to go to the gym by sheer determination, but I refuse to give up. At one point after I had been working out for three or four months, my coach put me on circuit training. I didn’t even know what circuit training was, but I quickly found out that circuit training is doing five exercises in a row, as quickly as you can. It took me 35 minutes to do 75 lunges on each leg, 100 bench presses, 75 dumbbell dead lifts, 75 abdominal crunches and 75 exercises with a pulley. After that, I was so sore I thought I might not survive. When my coach had originally told me what he wanted me to do that week I quickly said, “That is going to be too much for me.” I reminded him of my age and that working out was fairly new to me. He said: “Don’t let your mind get in your way; you can do whatever you decide to do. Our motto here is: ‘No excuses, only results.’ ” With that encouragement, I thought: OK, I’m going to get a good mindset about this. I can do this. I had to tell myself over and over again, “I can do this.” I got started and did OK, but by the fourth set, I began to get dizzy. I told my coach, “I’m getting dizzy,” and he responded: “Then you don’t have to do all five sets. You can stop with four.” Something rose up in me when he said that, and I answered: “I am not quitting with four sets. I’m going to do the fifth one.” And when I did, I was so proud of myself! The same principle that applied to me as I began working out also applies to many other areas of life—getting out of debt, cleaning and organizing your house, solving marriage problems, disciplining your children, being on time for work or completing a project. Whatever you need to do in life, you can do it. Remember, Philippians 4:13 says you are ready for anything and equal to anything because God gives you strength. Nothing is too much for you when He is on your side.

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ave you ever spent weeks—even years—praying about one specific thing and still found yourself wondering, When is God going to answer this prayer? If so, I know exactly how you feel. When I pray, I really want my prayers to be answered. I know faith, patience and timing all are in the mix, but sooner or later I need to hear from God. The fact is, He gives us some pretty outrageous promises in His Word about prayer. If you’re not seeing the fruit of those promises and if you’re still in the waiting period, I encourage you to simply ask why. At several times in my life I’ve had to get honest with myself and say: “OK, God, I see what the Word says. Why isn’t it working for me?” Each time, God has led me to ask myself three very direct questions. I believe they can also help you to find the answers you’ve been seeking. 1. Am I really praying for God’s will? John 15:7 (AMP) says: “If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” Well, I thought I knew that Scripture up and down. But it turned out there was a word in that verse I hadn’t paid much attention to: abiding. It means “to live in, dwell in and remain in.” When you have that kind of close relationship with God, you get to know His heart and you have a greater sense of the things you should pray for, and what His will truly is. We can never assume we’re praying the will of God. We need to test and approve our prayers by abiding in God’s Word and seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit. 2. Am I self-sabotaging my prayers? For at least 25 years, I’ve been praying for God to move so that people will receive miraculous healings at my conferences or while watching my TV program. I was standing on Psalm 107:20 when God led me to another verse: Isaiah 58:9. Now, that scripture shows a clear connection between answered prayers and the words of our mouths. It says, “Take away from your midst yokes of oppression [wherever you find

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ntil I turned 64, I’d never exercised in a serious way. I had walked and done a few things to stay in decent shape, but I was not dedicated to exercise. I had reached into my excuse bag many times over the years and come up with all kinds of “reasons” I could not exercise. But, the Lord spoke to me and encouraged me to begin a serious workout program so I could be strong for the last third of my journey through life.
I already had good eating habits, but when it came to going to the gym several times a week, I used the excuse that I simply could not do that because of my travel obligations. I truly couldn’t figure out how I could manage to put serious workout time into my already busy schedule. I finally decided to do what I could do instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do. The thought of getting started with a serious workout routine was overwhelming to my mind, so I had to put Philippians 4:13 to work in a very practical way and discipline myself to say: “I can do this. I can do whatever I need to do in life, and God says I need to be on a serious workout program.” I had to take the challenge one day at a time because if I looked at my calendar for the year, it appeared as if I was attempting something that was truly impossible. I strongly urge you to face your challenges one day at a time. Looking too far down the road only tends to overwhelm us. Trusting God requires that we believe He gives us our “daily bread”; that is, we receive what we need as we need it and usually not before. As I started seeing the benefits of working out regularly I felt it was important enough to me that I needed to eliminate a few other things I was doing that cluttered my schedule to make room for the exercise. I quickly discovered that if we want to do something strongly enough, then we find a way to do it.

We can never assume we’re praying the will of God.

The Antidote
Learning to abide in God—focusing on His heart and His desires—will bring you to a higher level of spiritual maturity and help you discover the amazing authority you have in prayer.
Speaking in line with His Word can move mountains in the Spirit, and growing in your love walk opens powerful opportunities to show others who God is. I encourage you to search your heart in these three areas. As you do, I believe you will begin to experience a much more effective, fulfilling prayer life. In His perfect timing and way, He will always answer you.

aFraID OF FEar?
Don’t be. God is with you.

GOD IS PrO-CHOIcE

No, not like that—His choice is for you to fulfill your destiny
Every common person can be used mightily by God. You just have to believe God can use you and be daring enough to embrace the goals or vision He puts in your heart. What He wants you to do probably won’t make sense to you. But God isn’t expecting you to accomplish His goals in your strength or by your own understanding. He wants to do them through you. We simply need to cooperate with Him. As I stepped out in faith to pursue God’s call on my life, I faced a lot of adversity. Here are several things I learned that helped me to keep going: » God’s Word is a border for my life. As long as I stay within the guidelines laid out in Scripture, I’ll have what I need— wisdom, understanding of God’s promises to me, righteousness, peace and joy—to do what I need to do. God is faithful and true to His Word. » I have to be willing to finish what I start. God uses committed people who aren’t led by emotion. It’s easy to be excited in the beginning when something is new, but the ones who cross the finish line are the ones who hang in there when no one else is excited anymore. » When no one is there to help me, I get to know Jesus very well. The narrow road of living for God and not conforming to the ways of the world is often lonely (see Matt. 7:13-14). But the trade-off of gaining real intimacy with Christ is worth more than anything you could ever get from the world. » God’s plan is a possibility but not a “positively.” I can choose to trust God and cooperate with Him, but if I don’t, His plan won’t just happen on its own.
You have a destiny. Ephesians 2:10 tells us God created us to do good works that He planned for us in advance. His plans are great—not average or mediocre. We just have to be willing to do some things that are uncommon by the world’s standards to achieve them.

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here are many types of fear we could name or count, but they all have the same source and the same purpose. They all are from Satan and they all are intended to steal the life Jesus died to give us.

We often think fear is simply an emotion or feeling, but it also affects us physically. In Who Switched Off My Brain? author Caroline Leaf notes, “[Fear] triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses, and activates more than 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters.” Fear, she says, is at the root of all stress. When fear causes a stress reaction, it actually “marinates” the body in toxic chemicals. This, of course, is terribly unhealthy and threatening to our physical well-being. There are many ways Satan uses fear to steal from us. For example, the fear that we will not be accepted as we are causes us to develop phony personalities that stifle our true selves and hide who God has made us to be. The fear of failure prevents us from ever trying new things or stretching ourselves to do more than we feel comfortable doing. The fear of the future can cause us not to enjoy today. Even something like the fear of flying can prohibit our being able to discover and enjoy the beauty and excitement of places we would like to visit. Fear can absolutely paralyze us, and in its more advanced stages can drive us to do things that are completely irrational. It can even cause mental and emotional problems. Time magazine printed a story in August 1989 that shows how utterly destructive and controlling fear can be. It reported that Charles Bodeck, a retiree who had received several tick bites during fur-trapping expeditions, grew fearful that he had contracted Lyme disease. He was also concerned he had transmitted it to his wife. Despite many medical tests and repeated assurances from doctors that he was not infected and passing the disease to his wife was impossible (because he didn’t have it), Bodeck remained terrified. His fear so completely controlled him that

he eventually killed his wife and himself with a shotgun. When police searched his mailbox after the incident, they found it crammed with information on Lyme disease—and a note confirming yet another doctor’s appointment for a test. Fear can be a powerful influence in our lives. I fully believe it is the devil’s tool to keep us miserable and out of the will of God. It drains our courage, presents everything from a negative viewpoint and prevents us from making progress. Destinies are destroyed because of fear—fear of pain, fear of discomfort, fear of lack, fear of sacrifice, fear that life is going to be too hard, fear of losing friends, fear of being alone, fear of losing your reputation, fear that no one will understand you, fear that you’re missing God, and on and on. Fear is the enemy’s perversion of faith. He says to us: “Believe what I’m telling you. This is not going to work. Your prayers aren’t any good. You don’t have right standing with God. You are a failure.” Fear always tells you what you’re not, what you don’t have, what you can’t do and what you’ll never be. But Romans 8:15 says: “For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!” (AMP). You do not have to live in bondage to fear or allow fear to control your life. You can be bold, courageous and adventurous. The word Abba was a term little children used in addressing their fathers. It would be similar to our word Daddy. It is less formal than Father and denotes a comfortable closeness between a child and his or her father. Jesus said we could call God “Abba” because He had delivered us from all fear. He will always take care of His beloved children, and we can approach Him without fear of rejection. When we run to Him with any problem or pain, He’s waiting with open arms to comfort and encourage us.

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od chose me. He didn’t just get stuck with me, and He didn’t settle for me because there was no one else He could choose. He deliberately chose me. And the same is true for you too. I didn’t have a special talent when He chose me. The thing I do best is talk, and He’s made me a mouth in the body of Christ. My voice is unusual and unique—not the kind of voice you would think He would choose to broadcast all over the place. But God has given me the opportunity to speak to billions of people around the world. And I don’t always use correct grammar or pronounce words just right, but we don’t have to be polished according to the world’s standards to be used mightily by God. People listen to me because God has anointed me to speak for Him—it’s part of His destiny for my life. And God will anoint whomever He chooses to work through. That includes you. So whom does God use? He uses common, ordinary people like you and me. First Corinthians 1:27-28 says: “God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are” (The Amplified Bible). When I started to preach the gospel, some of my friends rejected me—they didn’t think I should do that because I’m a woman. In fact, they told me I couldn’t do that. I was doing it because God told me to do it, and I trusted that if He told me I could do it then I could do it. If you too are willing to have an uncommon goal, God can do something great through you!

STarT TO DO GOOD

A GrEaTEr LOVE

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amed philosopher and orator Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It’s true. Doing nothing is easy, but it’s also dangerous. Where there is no opposition to evil, evil will multiply. We all fall into the trap of complaining about the things that are wrong. But complaining does nothing except discourage us even more. It changes nothing because there is no positive power in it. Imagine what a mess the world would be if all God did was complain about everything that has gone wrong since He created it. But the Father doesn’t complain. He continues to be good and work for justice. Evil is powerful, but good is more powerful. We need to stop and realize that God has chosen to work on this earth through His children—you and me. It’s humbling to realize that He could do so much more if we would be committed to love and do good at all times. We need to remember Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 5:16, “ ‘ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ ” (NKJV). The more we respond to evil with evil, the more it increases. I am reminded of a movie titled El Cid, the story of the man who united Spain and became a great hero using the principle I’m talking about. For centuries the Christians had fought the Moors. They hated and killed each other. In battle, El Cid captured five Moors but refused to kill them because he realized that killing had never done any good. He believed that showing mercy to his enemies would change their hearts, and then both groups could live in peace. Although he was initially labeled a traitor for his actions, they eventually proved to work, and he was honored as a hero. One of the Moors he captured said, “Anyone can kill, but only a true king can show mercy to his enemies.”

It’s humbling to realize that God could do more if we would do good at all times.

Because of El Cid’s one act of kindness, his enemies offered themselves to him as friends and allies from that point on. Jesus is a true king, and He is good, kind and merciful to all. Can we do any less than follow His example? Right now, can you think of anyone to whom you could show mercy? Is there someone who has treated you wrongly that you can be good to? Being merciful and good, especially to your enemies, may be one of the most powerful things you have ever done. Imagine how different the world would be if each one of us who claims to know Christ would do one kind thing for someone else every day. The results would be astonishing. The world would change rapidly because we really could overcome evil with good if we all made a commitment to live the way Jesus tells us to live. I have three friends with whom I sometimes go to lunch or have coffee. We often talk about things God has put on our hearts to do for others, or creative ideas for fresh ways to be a blessing. I believe conversations like this are very pleasing to God. I would like to challenge you to take a lead role in the “love revolution.” Enlist people you know and invite them to a planning session on practical ways to meet needs. Find someone who needs help and make a group effort to help them. The idea of encouraging others to be aggressive in doing good works is not new. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” We should actually study and think about how we can stir others to do good works and loving, helpful deeds. And remember, doing the right thing will require forming new habits and developing aggressive acts of love. The results will be wonderful!

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ne of the most beautiful things the Bible says is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (see Rom. 5:8). He did not wait for us to deserve His love. He loves us unconditionally. To be honest, that’s hard for many of us to comprehend because we are so accustomed to having to earn everything in life. Because of His great, wonderful and intense love for us, God poured His life out for us freely (see Eph. 2:4). That is revolutionary love! Real, revolutionary love must give itself because it can never be satisfied doing anything less. Just as it is God’s unconditional love that draws us to Him, so it is our unconditional love toward others in His name that draws others to Him. He wants us to love people the same way He would if He were here in bodily form. It’s impossible for human love to be unconditional, like God’s love. But as believers in Jesus Christ we have the love of God in us. We can let that love flow freely, without conditions. Our love fails, but God’s does not. Our love comes to an end, but God’s does not. Sometimes I find that although I can’t love a person in my own strength I am able to with God’s love. I was hurt repeatedly for years by someone. Recently, this person asked me how I felt—if I loved them. I was honestly able to say that although I didn’t have the fond feelings for them I could have had if things had been different, I did love them as a child of God and would help them in their need. The true love of God doesn’t depend on feelings—it’s based on decision. I will help those who need help, unless helping them would ultimately hurt them. They don’t have to deserve help. In fact, sometimes the less they deserve it the more beautiful the act of extending love is. It is absolutely freeing to be able to love people without stopping to ask if they deserve it. Human love depends on feelings. We love people because

When human love ends, God’s love is still available to finish what needs to be done.

they have been good to us or they loved us first. They make us feel good about ourselves, or they make our life easier, so we say we love them. Or we love them because we want them to love us. But that type of love is based on what they do, and if they stop doing it, we will probably stop loving them. That kind of love comes and goes. Many marriages and other personal relationships are based on that kind of love. We love ice cream because it tastes good, and we love people because they give us nice Christmas gifts. God’s love is totally different. It isn’t based on anything except God Himself. And when we receive Christ as our Savior the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 5:5). When we become partners with God, He expects us to be His representatives and equips us with the love we need to do the job He asks us to do. When human love ends, which is often, God’s love is still available to finish what needs to be done. I heard about a teenager who was drinking and caused an accident that killed a man’s wife and child. The man knew God wanted him to forgive the young man who caused the accident, and through much prayer he was able to let the love of God flow through him. That man was a love revolutionary! We should learn also to look at what people have done to themselves instead of looking just at what they have done to us. Usually, when a person hurts someone else, he probably has hurt himself at least as much and is suffering some fallout as a result. That’s why Jesus said, “ ‘ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ ” (Luke 23:34, NKJV). The love of God can’t be grasped with the mind—it is a matter of the heart. There is no reason for Him to love us while we are sinning, but He does. God’s love is unconditional.

BE aN ENcOUragEr

NEVEr GIVE Up

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ne of the easiest ways to fuel a “love revolution” is to decide to make others feel valuable. Mother Teresa said: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody: I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” I have discovered that most people we meet or come into contact with in our everyday lives don’t have a sense of their infinite value as children of God. I think the devil works very hard to make people feel devalued and worthless, but we can neutralize the effect of his lies and insinuations by building up, encouraging and edifying people. One way to do this is with a sincere compliment, which is one of the most valuable gifts in this world. Offering a sincere compliment may seem like a small thing, but it gives tremendous strength. I believe in having goals, and as I was working with God to develop good habits in the area of encouraging others, I challenged myself to compliment at least three people each day. I recommend that you do something similar to help you become an aggressive encourager. God speaks frequently in the Bible of our responsibility to the oppressed, widows, orphans, fatherless and foreigners. He mentions those who are lonely, neglected, forgotten and devalued. He cares deeply for the oppressed and the hungry. People can be hungry in many ways. They may have plenty of food to eat but be starving to feel valuable. God lifts up those who are bowed down with sorrow; He protects the stranger and upholds the fatherless and the widow (see Ps. 146:7-9). How does He do this? He works through people. He needs committed, submitted, dedicated people who live to make others feel valuable. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to making the outcasts feel loved and valuable. The things she did were simple, yet great. She said: “Do not think that love, in

God needs committed, submitted, dedicated people who live to make others feel valuable.

order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” A verse that has encouraged me is Psalm 27:10: “Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]” (The Amplified Bible). My mother was deeply afraid of my father, so she was unable to rescue me from the abuse he perpetrated against me. I felt very alone, forgotten and abandoned. I decided that nobody was going to help me, so I “survived” my circumstances until I could escape them. I have come to understand that many people we encounter daily are just trying to survive until someone rescues them— and that someone could be you or me. The Bible says that God in His love “chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). He planned in love for us to be adopted as His own children. God adopts the forsaken and lonely, and He lifts them up and gives them value. He works through His Word, through the Holy Spirit and through Spirit-led people who live to help others. Mother Teresa felt that each person she met was Jesus “in disguise.” Just try to imagine how much differently we would treat people if we really looked at them the way she did. Jesus said that if we do good or bad to even “the least” of people, we do it to Him (see Matt. 25:45). In other words, He takes our treatment of others personally. If someone insulted, slighted, ignored or devalued one of my children, I would take it personally. So why is it so hard to understand that God feels the same way? Let us all strive to build people up, make everyone we encounter feel better and add value to their lives. Let’s really live a love revolution.

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o be successful in accomplishing God’s will for our lives, we must have determination. One definition of “determine” is “to settle a dispute by an authoritative decision or a pronouncement.” This definition encourages me because I make “pronouncements,” often as a way of building my determination in certain areas. Sometimes the best way to overcome the temptation to give up is to say to yourself: “Oh, no you don’t! Stop your whining and straighten up right this minute!” Over the years, when I have felt like giving up and had no one to encourage me, I’ve said to myself: “Joyce, you can make it! It may be hard, but you can make it and don’t you dare think you can’t!” At one point in my life, I went through a 10-year period of suffering from various physical problems. Ten years! I had lots of symptoms, some of which involved low blood sugar, but most of which were rooted in stress caused from working too hard. I was also going through the “change of life”—hormone changes caused migraine headaches, and at one point in 1989, I even had breast cancer and needed surgery. I can’t count the number of times during those 10 years I walked onto a platform to preach thinking, I wonder if I can stand here long enough to preach my message. I prayed fervently for God to heal me. He did not take away my problems completely, but He did give me strength to do what I needed to do in spite of them— every single time. But I didn’t want the strength to press through; I wanted the problems gone. Trying to keep myself going through those years was really hard, but I was determined not to be defeated and not to give up. I realize now that my faith became strong during those years and I gained a genuine compassion for the sick. I thank God for giving me a solution to my problems after 10 years. Now I’m doing great, and it’s wonderful

Trying to keep myself going was really hard, but I was determined not to be defeated.

to do what I do and feel good. But many times I had to say, “I would rather do my job and feel good, but hear this devil: I will do it, whether I feel good or not.” While I was suffering, I had to speak words of determination out loud: “Doing this is hard, but I am going to fulfill God’s call on my life no matter how I feel. I’ll do everything God wants me to do and be all He wants me to be.” Each time I made a decision like this, the devil was losing and God was winning. The primary reason I was so determined to obey God’s will whether I felt good or not was because I love God. I also knew I would be miserable if I tried to do anything less than everything He called me to do. You may not always want to make the effort to be determined, but I guarantee that you do not want to risk being outside God’s will simply because you will not commit to doing everything required to obey it. Remember, the definition of “determine” carries the idea of settling a dispute. This is important because if you are going to commit to anything, you will have to settle the never-ending dispute between your flesh and your spirit. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other]” (The Amplified Bible). This verse is basically telling us the flesh and spirit never get along; they’re always fighting. I’m convinced we miss many blessings in our lives because we try to understand so much instead of simply allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us. But we must be determined to settle the dispute between the flesh and the spirit and obey God. And no matter what, we must never give up!

THE ANSwEr TO FEar

FIgHT FOr HOpE

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any of us struggle with fear. Yet those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ have no need to fear. Why? Because He is always with us. Because He loves us with a perfect love. And as 1 John 4:18 states: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but fullgrown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!” (Amplified Bible). God knows that fear is the first emotion to typically hit us the moment He calls us to do something that will move us to a new level in life. Whether it’s low-level nervousness or fullblown panic, the degree of fear varies, but most of us experience some form of it. We might be changing careers, getting married, having children, leaving all that’s familiar for the mission field, going back to work after 20 years as a homemaker, becoming serious about diet and exercise, and so on. Our minds fill with excitement, yet we think: What if? What if? What if? Any time we step out to do something new, especially for God, we almost always—and almost immediately—face a negative circumstance that tries to discourage us or convince us we cannot do what God asks of us. Something will come up to tell us it is too hard, does not make sense, or will not work; or that we are not qualified to do it. The enemy uses such words and thoughts to discourage us, hoping fervently we will never accomplish what we set out to do. Revelation 12:4 gives insight on how the devil tries to plant fear in us before we even get started: “And the dragon stationed himself in front of the woman who was about to be delivered [give birth], so that he might devour her child as soon as she brought it forth.” The dragon (who represents Satan) had stationed himself in front of her so he could devour her newborn child. This scene represents a dynamic that often happens in our lives as believers. Every time God puts a fresh new idea in our

I can promise you, fear will not go away. So you must learn to overcome it.

hearts or gives us a dream, vision or new challenge for our lives, the enemy will be there to oppose us. I am not referring simply to the times we want to do “big” things for God; the enemy is not selective. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, that’s a new level. When we begin to move into a deeper walk with God or begin to pray bolder prayers, those are new levels. When we begin to give time, money and energy to God’s kingdom, we are moving to a new level. God constantly calls us to new levels. Some seem big and important; others seem relatively small or insignificant. Whatever the case, when we reach a new level with God we face a new level of opposition from our enemy, the devil. Along with opposition, however, comes opportunity (see 1 Cor. 16:9)—but God is always with us, and we have no need to fear. Some things may seem too great for us, but nothing is impossible with God. He is not surprised or frightened by anything. If you are determined never to give up on your dream, then you have to take chances; you have to be courageous. When you face situations that threaten or intimidate you, you do not need to pray as much for the fear to go away as for boldness and courage so you can move ahead in spite of the fear. I can promise you, fear will not go away. It is not something you can get rid of, so you must learn to overcome it. The spirit of fear will always try to keep you from going forward. The enemy has used fear for centuries to try to stop people, and he is not going to change his strategy now. But you can defeat fear; you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us (see Rom. 8:37). Courage is not the absence of fear; it is pressing forward while the feeling of fear is present. I want to encourage you to be determined to face fear when it comes against you. Stand firm, trusting God and knowing He is always with you.

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hen you think about the future, are you hopeful? Or do you struggle with a sense of dread? People who have seen God’s faithfulness in the past tend to be very hopeful about the future. They know a bad situation can turn into a wonderful testimony in a matter of minutes. They know how to hold on to hope and they refuse to give up. On the other hand, people who have lost all hope view life from the perspective of dread. A close cousin to fear, dread steals the ability to enjoy ordinary life and makes people anxious about the future. It keeps them from looking forward to the next day, month or decade. Their thoughts about the present are negative and their outlook on the future is filled with fear, pessimism, doubt and worry. Hope is the opposite of dread—and a close relative of faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us faith is “the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for” (The Amplified Bible). When we have hope, our outlook on life and the future is positive. We can have hope because we trust in God’s love, His power to provide for us, and His ability to lead us in every situation. Hope allows us to leave our unanswered questions in God’s hands; it empowers us to remain at peace; and it enables us to believe the best about the days to come. Generally, people who have hope are happy, optimistic, and full of inner strength and courage. Because hope is such a powerful force, the devil goes after it with a vengeance. If he can steal your hope, he can set you on the path to total despair and depression—and that’s his intention. He will work hard to plant thoughts like these in your mind: “You have always been this way. You will never change.” “No one will ever want to marry you.” “You might as well buy some larger clothes—you’ll never lose weight.”

Self-pity is a destructive, negative emotion that blinds us to the possibilities before us.

“Your children will never amount to anything.” “You will not have enough money for retirement.” “No one in your family has lived more than 70 years, so you cannot expect a long life.” “You will never get out of debt.” If you read these statements carefully, you will notice they have a common thread running through them: self-pity. The devil puts thoughts in our minds to make us feel sorry for ourselves and resent the people who have what we are convinced we can never have. Self-pity is a destructive and negative emotion. It blinds us to our blessings and the possibilities before us—which means it steals our hope for both today and tomorrow. People who pity themselves think: Why should I try to do anything? I’ll just fail. I used to love to sit and drink my coffee, feeling sorry for myself and thinking about how mistreated I was. But I finally realized that my self-pity is actually idolatry because it is self-focus carried to the extreme. When I allow myself to fall into self-pity, I am essentially rejecting God’s love and His ability to change things for me. I encourage you to be determined not to waste one more day of your life in self-pity. When you lose hope and begin to feel sorry for yourself, stop right that minute and say: “I refuse to feel sorry for myself. I may be in a difficult season of life right now, but I will not stop hoping for better things!” The enemy wants you to be consumed with hopelessness and will tell you all sorts of lies about yourself, your life, other people, and even about God. But you must remember that the devil is a liar. You must not believe anything he says. God has thoughts and plans for your good, to give you hope for your future (see Jer. 29:11). If you will hold on to your hope and fight for it when the enemy tries to take it away, you will see amazing things take place in your life.

OVErcOmINg TrIaLS

CHOOSE WELL

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e often think of trusting God for things we need or want, such as financial provision, physical healing, restoration of a relationship, a promotion at work, a place to live, an opportunity or a big win in some kind of competition. A true relationship of trust in God extends beyond trusting Him for something. We need to learn to trust Him through the process of attaining those things we desire. There was a time in my life when I focused intensely on trusting God for things, saying, “I want this, God,” and “I need such-and-such, God.” He began to show me that getting all those things was not the most important issue in my life. He wanted to teach me how to trust Him enough to walk through situations with stability and with a good attitude on a consistent basis. He needed me to learn that He may not always rescue us when we want out of circumstances, but He is always with us as we walk through them. God does not always deliver us from everything when we think He should. Throughout His Word, we read about people who had to go through things. One familiar passage to many people is Psalm 23:4, “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me” (The Amplified Bible). Psalm 66:12 says, “You caused men to ride over our heads [when we were prostrate]; we went through fire and through water, but You brought us out into a broad, moist place [to abundance and refreshment and the open air].” And the prophet Isaiah, speaking for God, says: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you” (Is. 43:2, emphasis added). One of the most amazing stories of trusting God through trouble is the account of the three courageous

Going through difficulty with absolute trust in God has inspired generations of people.

young men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The Old Testament king Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a blazing furnace where they were sure to be burned alive if they did not worship his idols. They responded to him: “If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up!” (Dan. 3:17-18). The angry king threw the three men into the furnace—after ordering that the furnace be turned up to seven times its usual heat. The flames were so hot they incinerated the king’s men as they threw the three young men into it. When Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he said in astonishment, “Behold, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt!” (Dan. 3:25). The king called the three men out of the furnace, and when they emerged, not one hair on their heads had been singed, their clothes were not scorched, and they didn’t even smell of smoke. This testimony of going through difficulty with absolute trust in God has inspired generations of people. Today we can draw much encouragement from the fact that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced a terrifying situation, one we can assume they wanted to be delivered from. Many think it was the pre-incarnate Jesus who was the fourth man in the fiery furnace with them. As we follow their example, we can go through trials with stable, positive attitudes, trusting God completely, even against seemingly impossible odds. Your attitude, whether good or bad, is yours to command in every situation. But I encourage you to maintain an attitude of faith, praise, thanksgiving and positive expectation, and you will definitely come through your situation victoriously.

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ll of us have to make choices on a regular basis. They may be significant choices such as what career to pursue or whom to marry, or seemingly minor decisions such as what to wear to work and what to eat for lunch. Any time we have a choice, we have to make a decision. I realize that sounds simple, but my point is that when we have a choice to make we can commit to only one of two options. Sometimes we can choose between good and bad; other times we have to choose between a good option or a better option. But we need the skills to make good choices because our choices chart the courses of our lives. Deuteronomy 30:19 is one of the most powerful Scriptures in the Word of God. It says, “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (The Amplified Bible). I like this verse because in it God tells us what our options are and then He tells us which to choose. He says, basically, “These are your choices: life and blessings or death and curses,” and then He clearly instructs us to choose life. This is like taking a test in school and having the teacher write the answers on the blackboard! God wants to make it easy for us to experience the life and blessings He wants to give to us, but we must choose these things over things that bring death and destruction. Unfortunately, some people decide not to choose life. They make decisions that lead to strife instead of peace, to bondage instead of freedom and to misery instead of joy. I believe the primary result of wrong choices is regret, which means: “to feel sorry, disappointed, or distressed about something; to feel sorrow or grief over.” The world is filled with people who live with regret.

We need the skills to make good choices because our choices chart the courses of our lives.

Most of the time you can identify these people because they seem to have a sense of heaviness, sadness or grief about them for no apparent reason and for a long period of time. These are people who are sorry about everything. They are sorry they didn’t finish their educations, sorry they are in debt, sorry they messed up their marriages, sorry they did not spend more time with their children, and more. Wrong choices cause regret, and when we experience regret we need to deal with it and let it teach us how to make better choices in the future. I understand firsthand that wrong choices lead to regret. I looked at myself a while back and regretted never having been serious about exercise. I saw a marked difference between my husband, Dave, and me because he has exercised all his life and is healthy, strong and in good physical shape. When Dave and I return home from overseas travel, I struggle with jet lag for several days, but he can take one nap and be fine! That used to upset me, but I now realize he recovers more quickly than I do because he’s stronger than I am. Initially, I merely regretted that I wasn’t as strong as Dave, but then I realized I could do something about it. It is never too late to make good choices and start reaping good results. I now exercise regularly and have been amazed by how quickly my body has responded by losing fat, building muscle and producing more energy. If you find yourself regretting some of the unwise choices you have made in life, don’t be deceived into thinking it is too late to do anything about it. You can get out of debt and do anything else you want to do. All you need is to begin and then stick with it. We have the awesome privilege and responsibility of choosing to cooperate with God’s plan. Start making good choices so you can live a life in which you enjoy God’s blessings every day.

LIVE PUrpOSEFULLY

BE THaNKFUL!

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phesians 5:15 has always been one of my favorite Scriptures. It says: “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)” (The Amplified Bible). I have never had a problem with being purposeful. My purpose was not always what it should have been, but I got up every day with the intent of making my life count. It is frustrating to see wasted potential because waste leads to regret. I believe the first quarter of 2008 is a good time to take a serious inventory of what you are doing with your life, talents, energy, finances, time and everything in between. If you find that you are not doing your best, then make a decision to change. Have a plan for each day and work your plan. Don’t be legalistic and unwilling to bend if you need to alter your day, but don’t start out with nothing. Successful people are always disciplined, and undisciplined people are always unsuccessful. Are you easily swayed by what others want to do, or do you have a plan and stick to it? Are you doing what you love or just doing things to keep busy? Mark Twain said the secret of success was to be able to make your vocation your vacation. I like that thought. I have experienced that feeling with my work. I love what I am doing so much that even when I am on a so-called vacation, I have trouble not pursuing my vocation. It is not hard to be dedicated to what you love. Too many people never get around to fulfilling God’s purposes for their lives because they’re so busy keeping everyone else happy. The world is filled with people who think they know what you should be doing with your life. But the bottom line is it is your life, and when you stand before God, He will not ask anyone about your life except you.

It is frustrating to see wasted potential because waste leads to regret.

You will give an account to God of how you’ve lived, and if you’re not already doing so, start living in a way that will enable you to stand before Him without shame. Are you daring enough to follow your heart rather than the crowd? Are you focused even when many voices try to draw you away from your purpose? An interesting phenomenon occurs when someone has no purpose. They get very irritated with people who do. I am frequently told that I am too intense, and perhaps that is true. But I would rather be too intense about what I am trying to accomplish than to be so easygoing that I miss God’s best for my life. The term “whatever” seems to be especially popular these days. That response to a direct question tells me that this person really doesn’t care at all. Indifference is perhaps the greatest of all tragedies. I’ve also noticed that the word “whatever” comes out when they don’t agree with me. Instead of standing up for what they believe is right, they often cave in. That’s not a good attitude. I don’t like to see people being rebellious, but neither do I want to see them not care about what they believe is right. We need to be intentional. We need to live life on purpose. We must not just wait around to see what everyone else is going to do and then follow the crowd. We must take a stand and set a standard that others will reach to achieve. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who wait for something to happen and those who make things happen. Don’t say, “I wish they would do something about this problem.” You are they—you do something! Stir yourself up, make a decision, get going in a direction, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are our best teachers. Dedicate yourself to excellence and don’t let your feelings run your life. Remember, you will always have them, but they don’t have to have you.

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hank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]” (1 Thess. 5:18, The Amplified Bible). When our minds flow with thanksgiving and praise, we develop immunity to the enemy’s infectious ways. But the more we complain, the more defeated we feel. A wise pastor once told me: “Praise fills the heavens and the earth with God’s presence and drives away the darkness. So if you want to live in the sunshine, praise the Lord.” When good things happen to us, we turn to praise. It’s easy to lift our hands and our voices when God answers prayer and delivers us from problems. It isn’t always easy when things go wrong. What do we do when we’re sick, when we lose our jobs, or when people talk against us? How do we fill our minds with joyful thanksgiving in those situations? If we read the verse above and add to it Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!” then we see that we have options. The negative option is the attitude of Job’s wife, who was so distraught at the loss of her children and possessions that she cried out to Job: “Do you still hold fast your blameless uprightness? Renounce God and die!” (Job 2:9). Job answered with great wisdom: “You speak as one of the impious and foolish women would speak. What? Shall we accept [only] good at the hand of God and shall we not accept [also] misfortune and what is of a bad nature?” (v. 10). Job understood that a righteous life doesn’t mean everything runs smoothly and that only blessings fall on top of blessings. We have two positive options available to us in this new year, and most of us can practice the first, but not all of us can accept the second. The first is to praise God in spite of what’s going on in our lives. Or another way to say that is, in

In the midst of our hardships, we can rejoice over the things that are not wrong in our lives.

the midst of our troubles and hardships we can rejoice over the things that are not wrong in our lives. It may take effort, but if we can turn our eyes way from the immediate problems, we can see that not everything in life is bad. We also can rejoice because God has faithfully taken us through the turmoil of the past, and we can rejoice and know He will do the same thing again. The second option is to ask: “God, what can I learn from this? What do You want to teach me through this so that I may be closer to You and rejoice more fully in your goodness?” Those are not easy questions, and the answers are often hard. Sometimes we grasp the important lessons in our lives only when we encounter difficulty. The psalmist says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now Your word do I keep [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]” (Ps. 119:67). God loves us enough to give us the opportunity to change our ways and to follow Him. Through the years, I’ve heard many stories from people who had wonderful jobs or great ministries or made a great deal of money—and then their lives fell apart. One man—someone who had once been a millionaire—came to our meetings after he had spent three years in prison. The first words that came out of his mouth were: “I’m glad I was convicted and sent to prison. I had run from God for a long time. The Lord finally got my attention when someone gave me a copy of your book Healing the Brokenhearted.” Not everyone can rejoice and give thanks for their suffering, but we all can give thanks in the midst of it. Let’s pray this prayer together and start this new year right: “God, I’m thankful for Your love and Your presence. Forgive me for grumbling when things go wrong, and remind me of how many things go right in my life. Enable me to rejoice in You always. Amen.”

LIVE AmaZED!

TrUE WOrSHIp

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re you excited about being a Christian? Do you enjoy being with and worshiping with other believers, and talking about what God is doing in your life and in the lives of others? Or have you become accustomed to the idea that you will live eternally and God is watching over you? God once spoke to my heart that I should always live amazed and not get blasé about things that once thrilled me. I remember how excited I was when God revealed His love to me. Wow! God loves me—and just because He wants to. His love is unconditional and everlasting. I was so excited and enthusiastic I felt I was going to burst. But after a while, I got used to the fact that God loves me, and I didn’t feel the same passion. Are you experiencing the same thing? If so, I believe there is something you can do about it. Paul told Timothy to stir himself up, to fan the flame and rekindle the embers of the fire he once had (see 2 Tim. 1:6). Paul was talking about Timothy’s faith, which had been passed on to him by his grandmother and mother. Timothy let himself become afraid, and the message from Paul was “Stir yourself up.” Apparently it was Timothy’s responsibility, not someone else’s. What can we do to keep ourselves passionate about God’s purposes for our lives? We can be careful about how we live and think and with whom we spend our time. All these things affect our attitudes and emotions. If we think about something in the right way, it will fill us with enthusiasm. Likewise, if we think the wrong way, we can dread doing what we should be excited about. Stop thinking this way: I’m so tired of doing the same old thing all the time. I go to church, but nobody appreciates the effort I make. I have volunteered in the nursery for three years, and nobody has even thanked me. That kind of thinking will depress you and make you feel resentful.

Doing things to impress people and to be admired are not good motives for serving God.

If you are serving to be thanked, then your motives are wrong. God is not impressed with what we do or how much we do. He is impressed only with why we have done it, and it must be for a good, godly reason. Doing things to impress people and to be admired are not good motives. Serve God, not man, and your reward will come from Him. Instead, think like this: I am looking forward to going to church today. I remember when I was miserable and didn’t even know if I would go to heaven when I died. I am so glad to have an opportunity to serve God by working in the nursery. God sees everything I do, and none of my labors go unrewarded by Him. If we spend a lot of time with people who have no vision for their lives, no purpose, no passion and no enthusiasm, we will probably start to be like them. The Bible says unholiness is infectious, but holiness is not (see Hag. 2:12-13). For example, we can catch a cold from someone else, but we cannot catch good health—that must be chosen. When we have our whole hearts committed to something about which we’re passionate, we don’t just drift along and go with whatever comes along. We pray, think things over and make purposeful choices. Stay focused. It is easy in society today to get sidetracked and begin drifting in a direction that will be detrimental to your future. Be determined to serve God wholeheartedly. I imagine some of you may be thinking, Joyce, I wish I felt that passion you’re talking about, but I just don’t. Let me remind you: Passion is a decision about how we will approach life before it becomes a feeling. Those who purposefully pursue their passions are people who will glorify God and be long remembered. As Christians, let us wake up every morning excited about the relationship we have with our Creator and what He’s going to show us and teach us today!

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he worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture,” according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. I believe the reason for this is because worship cannot be defined. Worship comes from such a deep place within us. It is such a powerful outpouring of our hearts toward the Lord, and it represents such love, gratitude and devotion that we cannot put it into words. In fact, worship is so personal and intimate that maybe we should not even attempt to define it. Vine’s does say that worship “is not confined to praise; broadly, it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims” and that it can mean “to serve,” or to “do service to.” Some sources also say that to worship means “to kiss,” which connotes great affection and intimacy. Although we cannot find a definition of worship in the Word of God, the Scriptures are clear in their instructions and observations about it. For example: »  “Give to the Lord the glory due His name. ... Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (1 Chr.16:29, NKJV). »  “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker [in reverent praise and supplication]” (Ps. 95:6, The Amplified Bible). »  “Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill, for the Lord our God is holy!” (Ps. 99:9). »  “I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!” (Ps.138:2). Worship is so much more than just singing songs. It is a condition of the heart and a state of mind. We can be worshiping passionately without singing a single note. It is born in our hearts, it fills our thoughts, and it is

We can dance and lift our hands, but our actions are a reflection of what is in our hearts.

expressed through our mouths and through our bodies. For example, we can worship God by dancing, clapping, lifting our hands, playing an instrument, giving tithes and offerings, marching around, or sitting perfectly still, but our actions or our positions are simply reflections of what is in our hearts. One posture often used in worship and prayer is kneeling. Kneeling is a posture of humility, but it is also a position of incredible power. As an act of humility, kneeling affects us in a positive way because it allows us physically to express our total dependence upon the Lord. To kneel is to say to Him: “I need You, God. I want to follow You and obey You. I am desperate for You!” The world often thinks of worship as “religion,” which could not be further from the biblical concept of worship. It’s about a personal relationship, spiritual intimacy and passionate expressions of devotion from people who love God with all their hearts. This is true worship. John 4:23 says God is looking for this kind of worshiper and this type of worship: “A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.” I have always been a bit saddened by the fact that God has to seek true worshipers. There should be an abundance of them who are dedicated to Him. I find it interesting that He does not want just anybody to worship Him. He wants true and genuine people. He does not want to be worshiped out of fear, obligation or religion. True worship is a result of intimacy with God. That is why worship is so important to our prayer lives. Our hearts have to be connected, and we have to be focused on Him. We cannot give God lip service. We must express the worship that abides in us.

CHaNgE YOUr MIND

NO MOrE MaSKS

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ife is no fun when it is controlled by feelings because feelings change from day to day, hour to hour, even moment to moment. They cannot be trusted, not only because they change so often, but also because they lie. Our feelings influence us because we are “soulish” creatures. Too often we allow ourselves to be guided by our soul—our mind, will and emotions—rather than by the Holy Spirit. Although we cannot keep negative thoughts completely off our minds, we don’t have to dwell on them. We have a will, and we can choose not to give in to our thoughts. As Christ followers, we must live by truth and wisdom, not by our emotions. There was a time when I did not resist negative feelings and, as a result, I had an unstable, miserable life. Now when those feelings rise up to cause me fear and misery, I stop and say to myself: “Joyce Meyer, knock it off! You know that is not true!” So even though I may occasionally feel bombarded by less-than-lovely thoughts, I do not allow my feelings to dictate to me and spoil my life. That is part of being emotionally mature. Let me give you some examples. Perhaps you have found yourself in a crowd of people and felt as though everyone was talking about you. That doesn’t mean they were. Maybe you feel that nobody understands you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. You may feel misunderstood, unappreciated or even mistreated, but that doesn’t mean you are. These are only feelings. We need to be mature, disciplined, Holy Spirit-controlled people, determined to walk in the Spirit. It takes a constant act of the will to choose to do things God’s way rather than our way. My husband, Dave, is a portrait of emotional stability. He often reminds me of a rock, which is one of the names of Jesus. The Bible tells us the disciples “drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them [produced by the sole power of

I feel bombarded at times by less-than-lovely thoughts, but I don’t let them dictate my life.

God Himself without natural instrumentality], and the Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4, The Amplified Bible). One way of explaining the nature of Jesus would be to say that He has emotional maturity. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us “Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages)” (Heb. 13:8). Do you really believe Jesus allowed Himself to be led around by His emotions, as we so often do? Of course not. We know that He was led by the Spirit, not by feelings, though we have seen that He was subject to all the same feelings you and I experience in our daily lives. I used to get aggravated with Dave because he never got excited or upset about anything. It was just part of his personality not to show much emotion. On the other hand, I constantly went from one extreme to the other. I was up one day, laughing and feeling good, then down the next, weeping, whining and feeling sorry for myself. I would bounce back the next day, only to turn around and fall right back into misery. This emotional roller coaster finally leveled off when I made a determined decision that with the help of the Holy Spirit I was not going to live that way anymore. I needed emotional stability. Dave provided an excellent example of what that was. The Bible tells us that the Lord our God who resides within each of us is mighty (see Zeph. 3:17)—mighty to help us overcome our emotions and be led by His unchangeable Word and Spirit. Our God is able. Why not trust Him to help you develop the same kind of emotional maturity and stability that marked the life of His own Son, Jesus Christ? You can learn to take control of your emotions and avoid the mood swings that will keep you from enjoying the continual calm delight that God has planned for you. Why not start today?

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o many times we struggle to be real. We act one way on the outside, but we’re actually different on the inside. Because we have weaknesses, faults and fears—things that we think make us less likable or desirable—we’d rather hide them from other people. Over time, we devise masks to effectively hide our blemishes and give others a different perception of who we really are. In fact, we’ve become so comfortable with our masks that we forget we’re wearing them. But pride, shame or fear keeps us from taking off the disguises and revealing our true identities to others—even those we love. The thought of shedding the layers of deception and defenses and standing exposed to the world is more than many of us can bear. The desire to be accepted and liked is so strong in us that we will do almost anything to feel validated. When we were children, if we felt that we were not being loved or accepted for who we were, we would change. We would completely reinvent ourselves. Like a chameleon, we would change our outer appearances and attitudes so we could fit in better with our surroundings. But inside that chameleon stays the same—it can’t change what it is. The same is true of each of us. We can change the outside, but we can’t revise who we really are deep down inside. The danger of wearing a mask, of course, is that it misrepresents us. What other people see is a lie. It’s not who we are or who we were born to be. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve had years of experience in role-playing and covering up. Our masks have become as comfortable as an old pair of slippers— and we’ve lost touch with who we really are. We have spent so many years hiding that we’ve forgotten those things about ourselves that make us different and special. What a waste! A loving Father who rejoices in our individuality uniquely created each of us. In fact, it’s the distinctive

We can change the outside, but we can’t revise who we really are deep down inside.

things about us, not our “sameness,” that make us special to Him. The little girl with freckles, the young man with dimples and the beloved gray-haired grandparents with the sweet smiles—they all stand out because they are special. And you are special too! We all have fears and weaknesses. We’re all less than perfect and wish we were better. But we need to realize that God loves us just the way we are right now, and His love for us will never diminish. And there’s more good news. Second Corinthians 3:18 says that “all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another” (Amplified Bible). This means that when we believe and cooperate with God’s good plan for our lives, He will help us to let down the defenses we’ve had up for so long. God knows how badly we want to fit in, but His love is powerful enough to reach beyond our willingness to hide our faults in our effort to gain acceptance. Trust Him enough to take off your mask and look into the mirror of His Word. You will find as I have that you are being changed, little by little, into the very image of your Lord. Eventually, all the good things that God has done in us will begin to show on the outside and cause others to become hungry for what we have. As we continue to follow Jesus as our example, people will want to follow us. This is the higher standard that we are called to live by as Christians. God wants us to honor Him with our lives and our love toward others. As genuine worshipers of the Lord, let us resist the temptation to “play the imposter” and endeavor to be real.

SpEaK THE WOrD

YOU ArE UNIQUE

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s believers, we need to be trained to understand the soul, which is made up of the intellect, will and emotions. Since it is full of “self” and does not want to submit to the Holy Spirit, it must be purified (see 2 Tim. 2:2). Because we are free moral agents our own minds tell us what we think, but our thoughts are not necessarily God’s thoughts. Our wills dictate what we want, despite what He desires for us. And our emotions govern our feelings, but our hearts should instead be subject to Him. As the soul is purified it is trained to carry God’s thoughts, desires and feelings, and then we become mouthpieces for Him. I do not believe we can live in victory unless we realize there is power in what we say. We usually talk about the “mountains” in our lives, but God’s Word instructs us to talk to them, as Jesus did in Mark 11:22-23. In saying that we are to speak to the mountain, commanding it to be lifted up and thrown into the sea, Jesus was making a radical statement that merits further study. It is obvious that we are not to hurl our wills at the challenges in our lives; we must respond to them with the Word of God. In Luke 4, when Satan was trying to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, the Lord responded to every trial by speaking Scripture. He repeatedly said to Satan, “It is written,” and quoted verses that met the lies and deceptions of the devil head-on. We have a tendency to try this for a while, but when we do not see quick results we stop speaking the Word to our problems and begin once again to speak our feelings. Persistence is a vital link to obtaining victory. We must know what we believe and be determined to stick with it to the end. To make sure we maintain balance in this teaching, let me say that speaking the Word is powerful and absolutely necessary in overcoming any problem or negative

I do not believe we can live in victory unless we realize there is power in what we say.

situation. However, it is not the only doctrine in God’s Word. For example, obedience is extremely important. If a person thinks he can live in disobedience but speak to his mountains, he will be sadly mistaken, as Jesus clearly stated in Mark 11:22-26: “And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. “For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings” (Amplified Bible). Multitudes of people who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior fall into the deception of trying to operate in one of God’s principles while completely ignoring another. We must take the time to learn the Word of God and know the Father’s heart. Although many things are clearly defined in Scripture, other spiritual matters require that we make decisions about them even when they are not spelled out in black and white. It takes time to know God as well as our own hearts. Learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and see God’s will accomplished in your life. Remember, words are containers of power and they bind us. Our hearts must be right before the Lord, for it is out of the of the heart that the mouth speaks—for good or evil.

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s we begin a new year, I want to remind you of something I consider to be important to your wellbeing: You are no surprise to God. He knew what He was getting when He chose you, just as He knew what He was getting when He chose me. The Bible says, “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4, The Amplified Bible). God already knew our weaknesses, every flaw we would have, every time we would fail, and He still said, “I want you.” Ephesians 1:5 declares He foreordained us to be adopted as His own children. God is our daddy! With Him on our side things are bound to work out all right in the end. We need to refrain from comparing ourselves to anyone else, because God doesn’t want us to be frustrated and feel unworthy of the blessings He so desires to give us. Comparing our lives with other people’s lives is unfair—to them and to us. We can look at others and wonder why we don’t look as they look, know what they know, own what they own or do what they do. But it’s interesting to note that Satan never points out what they don’t have, only what they do have that we don’t have. God, on the other hand, never reminds us how far we have to go. He always reminds us how far we have come, how well we are doing, how precious we are in His sight and how much He loves us. I spent many unhappy days comparing myself with other people. Why couldn’t I just cast my care on God like my husband, Dave? Why couldn’t I be sweet, merciful and submissive like my pastor’s wife? Why couldn’t I sew like my neighbor? Why couldn’t I have a faster-working metabolism so I could eat more and not gain weight? Why? Why? Why?

When your value is firmly rooted in Christ, you are free from the agony of comparisons.

God never answered me except with the same answer He gave Peter when he compared himself with John. Jesus had told Peter that he was going to enter a time of suffering. Jesus was speaking of the kind of death Peter would die and thereby glorify God (see John 21:18-22). Peter’s initial response was to ask what was going to happen to John. Jesus promptly said: “If I want him to stay (survive, live) until I come, what is that to you? [What concern is it of yours?] You follow Me!” (v. 22). It sounds to me as though Jesus was politely telling Peter to mind his own business and not to worry about John. The Lord has an individual plan for each of us, and often we can’t understand what He is doing or why He is doing it. We look at others as the standard for what should happen to us, but God has a unique standard for each person. That we all have a different set of fingerprints is proof enough we are not to compete with one another. It isn’t fair to compare ourselves with others. It says to God, “I want to limit You to this and nothing else.” What if God ends up giving you something far greater than anyone you know? Galatians 6:4 says to do “something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison” with our neighbors. In other words our goal should be to be the very best we can be. When your value as an individual is firmly rooted in Christ, you are free from the agony of comparisons and competition. That kind of freedom releases joy, and joy is the result of being thankful for every single thing that you have, counting yourself blessed just to be alive and to know Jesus as your Lord. God wants you to know that His hand is upon you, that His angels are watching over you, that His Holy Spirit is in you and with you to help you in everything you do.

THE POwEr OF CONVIcTION

FEar NOT!

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often wonder how any human being can get through a single day without God. If I feel that I am missing God’s intimate presence, I can hardly stand it. I’m like a little kid who has lost his mother in a store. I’m frantic! All I can think about is trying to find my parent. I never want to be out of fellowship with the Lord. I must have Him to get through every single day of my life. That’s why I’m so grateful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He lets me know if I’m doing something that grieves God or interferes with our fellowship. He is faithful to show me if I’ve done something wrong and helps me get back to the place I need to be. He convicts and convinces me, but He never, ever condemns me. The Bible says: “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him” (John 3:16-17, The Amplified Bible). God loves us even more than we love our own children, and in His love He disciplines us. I remember how I hated to take privileges away from my children. But I knew they were bound for trouble if they didn’t learn to listen to me. God has the same concern for us, but He is patient. He tells us again and again what we ought to do. He may tell us 15 different ways, trying to get our attention. His message of convicting love is everywhere. He wants us to listen to Him because He loves us. If we persist in our ways, He withholds privileges and blessings from us. But He does so only because He wants us to mature. If God freely gave us His Son, Jesus, surely He won’t

If you heed conviction, it lifts you out of sin and leads you back to the heart of God.

hold back anything else we need. He wants to bless us radically and outrageously. Every single day of our lives we need forgiveness. The Holy Spirit sets off the alarm in our spirits to recognize sin, and He gives us the power of the blood of Jesus to continuously cleanse us from sin and keep us in right standing with Him. But if we are overcome with condemnation, we can be certain it is not from God. He sent Jesus to die for us—to pay the price for our sins. Jesus bore our sin and condemnation on the cross (see Is. 53). When God breaks the yoke of sin from us, He removes the guilt too. He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins and to continually cleanse us from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9). The devil knows that condemnation and shame keep us from approaching God in prayer so our needs can be met and we can enjoy intimate fellowship with Him. Feeling bad about ourselves or believing that God is angry with us only separates us from His presence. He doesn’t leave us, but often in fear and shame we withdraw from Him. That’s why it is so important to know the difference between conviction and condemnation. Remember, if you heed conviction, it lifts you up and out of sin and leads you back to the heart of God. Condemnation only makes you feel bad about yourself. Ask God to convict you of your sin, realizing that conviction is a special blessing, not a problem. If only perfect people could pray and receive answers, nobody would be praying. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to be cleansed of sin. Conviction is vitally necessary if we are to walk with God properly. This precious gift is one of the important ways we hear from God. Don’t make the mistake of allowing condemnation to take hold of your life. Instead, let conviction lift you to a new level in God. Don’t resist it; receive it!

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ave you ever thought how great life would be if we didn’t have to deal with fear? Of course, there are healthy fears that alert us to danger—and these are good because they protect us. There is also fear of God, which means to have a holy, reverential awe and respect for Him. But there is a debilitating fear that Satan tries to put on us every day. I call it False Evidence Appearing Real. It is intended to keep us from having the power, love and sound mind God wants us to have. If you struggle with anxiety, you know about the worry, stress and feeling of heaviness that come with it. Many people struggle with fear that has no obvious cause or source. They wonder why they are always afraid and can’t change no matter how hard they try. Others spend every minute worrying about what might happen. “What if …” is their favorite phrase. “What if I can’t pay the bills?” “What if my child gets hurt?” “What if my husband loses his job?” The endless list of possible tragedies keeps these unfortunate people bound up and miserable every day of their lives. There are many serious things going on in the world, and we need to be aware of them and prepare for them. But we also need to learn to resist fear when it rises up against us. The Word tells us, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7, The Amplified Bible). Sometimes we think of fear as an emotion, but it is actually a spirit. In fact, fear is one of Satan’s favorite tools, and he particularly loves to harass Christians with it. At every possible opportunity he will whisper in your ear, telling you God has forgotten you and there is no hope. It makes sense that Satan would try to intimidate us with fear. But Jesus said, “All things can be (are possible) to him

Fear is one of Satan’s favorite tools for harassing Christians.

who believes!” (Mark 9:23). There is nothing worse for the enemy than an on-fire, Bible-believing Christian who is fearless! God didn’t promise us that everything would be easy. The truth is, we all will face problems and challenges in this life. But the outcome depends on whether we trust God—or give in to fear. Psalm 23:4 says, “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” The psalmist David said he walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace, but God brought them safely through the fire (see Dan. 3). God’s Word says He will provide that same protection and deliverance to all who put their faith and trust in Him. But the more we focus our eyes and our mouths on the problem, the more fearful we become. Instead, we should focus on God, who is able to handle anything we will ever have to face. No matter what problem or difficulty may occur in our lives, we must allow God to guide us through it. He has given us the power to confront fear and break its hold over us. When the devil says, “You’re trapped,” boldly say to him: “Wrong! I’m just passing through!” It has been said that fear is the opposite of faith, and that is true. We can’t live in faith and fear at the same time. Fear paralyzes us and keeps us from receiving God’s promises. It keeps us from stepping out and obeying what God has called us to do. It neutralizes our effectiveness for the kingdom of God. Fear is a spirit that must be confronted head-on—it will not leave on its own. We must proclaim the Word of God and command fear to leave. The Bible assures us that “there is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror” (1 John 4:18). So the next time fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer!

THE FLESH IS WEaK

DON’T LET FEELINgS FOOL YOU

Following God is easier when we are led by His Spirit rather than BY our emotions.
shouldn’t do. As a result, we commit to things that God doesn’t want us to commit to, we quit doing things that God wants us to remain a part of, and we say things that damage our relationships. When we follow our feelings instead of following God’s Spirit, we are living the life of the flesh, and it keeps us out of God’s will. Romans 8:8 says that “those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him” (The Amplified Bible). This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us. What it does mean is that He is not satisfied with nor will He accept fleshly behavior. It is imperative that we learn how to walk in the Spirit. When we “walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then [we] will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God)” (Gal. 5:16). How do we learn to walk in the Spirit? I believe one of the best ways is to understand the differences between the natural man, the carnal man and the spiritual man.

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he night before Jesus was crucified, He gathered the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane and made just one request: “All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41, The Amplified Bible). It seemed like such a simple thing— all the disciples had to do was stay awake and pray. Jesus told the disciples to pray with Him because He wanted to prepare them for the trial that was coming. But they kept falling asleep. Jesus, on the other hand, did pray, and as He did, an angel strengthened Him in spirit, enabling Him to endure the cross. The disciples didn’t pray—they slept—and proved that the flesh truly is weak. This is why prayer is so important. As Christians, many of us have the idea that everything in our lives will be perfect simply because we are Christians. But Jesus clearly warned us, “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you]” (John 16:33). That’s not to say we should be negative. But we need to be realistic and understand that very few things in life are perfect. Jesus said we would have to deal with temptation, tribulation, trials, distress and frustration. These things are part of life on this earth—for the believer as well as the unbeliever. When temptation comes, our spirit is willing to do what is right, but our flesh will not help us. Our flesh will pull us under if we don’t pray and ask God to strengthen us in spirit and to circumcise our hearts to resist temptation. Crucifying the flesh is never a particularly enjoyable experience, but as followers of Christ, we are called to suffer as He suffered. First Peter 4:1 tells us, “So, since Christ

When temptation comes, our spirit is willing to do right, but our flesh is not

suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God].” It is important to understand the difference between suffering in the flesh and suffering demonic affliction. Giving up the selfish appetites of our flesh does not mean we are to suffer from sickness, disease and poverty. Jesus died to deliver us from the curse of sin. But unless we are willing to suffer in the flesh, we will never walk in the will of God. The apostle Paul wrote, “But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]” (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul is speaking here about self-discipline. Self-discipline is keeping ourselves going in the right direction without being pressured by someone else. The problem is that somehow we have gotten the wrong idea that everything in life is supposed to be easy. We need to be people who are self-motivated and selfdisciplined. We must do what is right because it is right, not because someone is forcing us to comply. When we get up in the morning, we should set our thoughts on walking in God’s will all day long. We might even say to ourselves, “Even if I need to suffer in order to do God’s will today, I purpose in my mind and heart to be obedient.” Remember—even in the face of our suffering, there is hope, for Christ has overcome the world! Paul wrote, “Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). Decide ahead of time that you will face each day with the determination to please God, whether your flesh is willing or not.

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t is God’s greatest desire that, as believers, you and I progressively learn how to be led by His Spirit. However, there is a powerful enemy that stands in the way: our emotions. Satan is the most powerful enemy we face externally, but internally, it’s our emotions that give us some of the biggest problems. Emotions are strong, complex internal responses that result in bodily changes. They are sometimes helpful and at other times hurtful. They come in positives and negatives. They are not evil, but they also are not holy. Emotions can make you laugh one hour and cry the next. Not wanting them doesn’t stop them from coming, and wanting them doesn’t make them come. They are apt to quit on us when we need them most and flare up when we wish they would go away. The truth is, we are always going to have emotions, and it’s not a sin to have them. It’s when we follow them that we often get into trouble. But I believe through the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I can learn how to recognize our feelings and realize where they are trying to take us. Then by His grace, we can learn how to manage our emotions instead of letting them manage us.

It’s not a sin to have emotions. It’s when we follow them that we get into trouble.

Understanding Our Emotions
Emotions, or feelings, are part of our soulish realm. We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. Our soul is the intangible area between our spirit—the place where God lives—and our physical body. It is made up of our mind, will and emotions—it tells us what we think, what we want and how we feel. Of these three areas of the soul, it’s our feelings that get stirred up the fastest and can lead us into temptation the quickest. Once our emotions get stirred up, they can quickly deceive our mind. After this happens, the voice of our conscience, which operates out of our spirit, is denied its normal standard of judgment. In other words, our God-given inner voice of insight and understanding becomes drowned out by the cries of our emotions. In this unstable state, we don’t know God’s will for our lives. We become confused about what we should and

The Natural Man and the Carnal Man
In 1 Corinthians 2 and 3, the apostle Paul talks about two types of people that are led by their fleshly desires—the natural man and the carnal man. The natural man is the person who is not saved—his spirit is dead and totally devoid of God’s Spirit. He “does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them (of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them) because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated” (1 Cor. 2:14). Since God is a Spirit and the things about Him are spiritually discerned, the natural man cannot understand anything about God. Why? Because his spirit is dead in sin (see Eph. 2:1). The carnal man, on the other hand, has experienced

new birth in Christ. But although his spirit has been made alive through his faith in Jesus, his life is dominated by the desires of the flesh—the combined cravings of his body and soul. He does what he wants and is aimlessly led around by his feelings. The carnal man is a people-pleaser who cares more about what people think than about obeying God. This was the case with many of the Corinthians. It is also the way many Christians are living today. Look at what Paul says: “For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you ­ not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?” (1 Cor. 3:3). In other words, Paul is saying that these carnal Christians were immature and operating out of their emotions—whatever they felt like saying and whatever they felt like doing, they did. Carnal Christians are easy to identify. They are usually in strife, discontent, easily offended and lacking peace. For many years of my early walk with God I had very little peace with myself or others, even though I was a Spirit-filled Christian. If I didn’t get my way, I would argue, pout, throw a fit, have a pity party or not talk to people for weeks at a time. Basically, I acted like a child. At the time, I had no idea my behavior was wrong or that I was being led by my fleshly desires. I went to church regularly and heard Bible doctrine, but I wasn’t hearing any practical teaching on how to get along with others and exercise self-control over my emotions. When I finally got fed up with not having peace in my life, I made a decision to do whatever I needed to do to get it. I went to God and asked Him what was wrong, and He responded, “Joyce, you’re shallow. You need to begin living on a deeper level.” Over time, God made it clear to me that the deeper level I needed to live on was the level of the Spirit. In order for us to truly enjoy the abundant life Jesus died to give us, we need to stop living by what we want, think, and feel and start following the promptings of His Spirit. This is the level that the spiritual man lives on.

The Spiritual Man
The spiritual man is the mature Christian who follows diligently after the desires of the Spirit. He is not someone who just prays the sinner’s prayer and then never feeds his spirit with the Word. Nor is he someone who keeps God in a “box” and lets Him out only on Sunday mornings. The spiritual man has a full-time commitment to follow

Christ, and he lets the Lord into every area of his life. He walks in integrity, humility and peace. He knows how to get along with others. His life displays the fruit of the Spirit, and he enjoys the favor of God. First Corinthians 2:15 says, “But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him].” What Paul is saying here is that the spiritual man doesn’t live his life on a whim—impulsively following his fleshly desires for what he wants, thinks and feels. Instead he lives by discernment. What is the difference between feelings and discernment? Feelings are of the flesh—they are shallow and constantly subject to change. Discernment, on the other hand, is a knowing in the spirit—something that comes from deep inside and is given to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus lived His life by discernment. Isaiah 11:2-3 says, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him...and shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears.” So Jesus’ discernment was not based on the superficial senses of His flesh—it was the result of a knowing deep within His spirit. And this same gift of discernment is available to you and me. How does it work? Before the spiritual man does anything, he quickly checks with his spirit to see if the thing he is about to do is OK. If he has peace, he proceeds. But if he is uncomfortable, confused or frustrated, he remains still. For instance, there have been times when I had a strong desire to give a word of correction to one of our employees. But before I opened my mouth, I checked with my spirit to confirm that it was what God wanted. If I felt a peace and a release to do it, I did it. There have also been situations when I’ve been at the mall getting ready to purchase something, but before I could get to the checkout counter, I sensed an irritation, frustration and pressure in my spirit. In this case, my spirit was not bearing witness with the Holy Spirit that what I wanted to do was of God. So I didn’t buy anything. You see, every time you and I choose to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings, our spirits grow stronger, and a little bit more of our flesh dies. As a result, more and more of God’s power is released in our lives to operate in the fruit of the Spirit. By yielding to the Holy Spirit rather than being controlled by our emotions, we honor God and put ourselves in a position to be radically blessed.

Developing discernment and being led by the Spirit is not something that happens overnight—it is a learning process that takes time. Little by little, one experience after another, God tries, or tests, our hearts, emotions and thinking (see Ps. 7:9, The Amplified Bible). How does He do it? He allows us to go through difficult situations that stir up our emotions. In this way, you and I are able to see for ourselves how emotionally unstable we can become and how desperately we need His help. Psalm 94:12-13 says, “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity.” This Scripture lets us know that God allows things in our lives to affect us emotionally so that we can learn how not to be led by our feelings. His ultimate goal is to get us to the point that, no matter what is going on, we remain calm. Who’s going to keep us calm? We are going to keep ourselves calm. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. All God wants us to do is to get in the habit of running to Him for grace (supernatural inner strength) to

exercise self-control over our emotions. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” I encourage you to stop bowing down to your feelings— stop depending on and placing more value on how you feel than on the Word of God. Exalt the Word over your feelings—believe what the Bible says. Instead of saying, “I don’t feel as if God loves me,” “I don’t feel as if I’m forgiven,” or “I don’t feel as if I have a future,” say, “God does love me, and nothing can separate me from His love. He has heard my confession of sin, and He has forgiven me and cleansed me. And God has a positive plan for my future because His Word says so” (see Jer. 29:11; Rom. 8:38-39; 1 John 1:9). Every time feelings come up to try and steal your righteousness, peace, and joy, find out what the Word of God says, and then open your mouth and speak the Word. Eventually the truth will override and change your feelings.

ArE YOU RELIgIOUS?

SUpErNaTUraL FaVOr

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ome people say, “God never talks to me.” But I believe it’s more likely that they don’t listen, are not aware of the ways God speaks or have become desensitized to God’s voice. Religious activity is one thing that can keep us from hearing God. In the early days of my walk with the Lord I was very enthusiastic and eager to serve Him, so I signed up for everything that seemed even remotely interesting to me. One result was that I quickly discovered what I was not anointed to do. Because of my busy life, I didn’t take time to tune in to God’s voice. As a result, I often spent frustrating time on works of the flesh. “Works of the flesh” are things we do without God’s power flowing through us. They are difficult, they drain us, and they produce no joy or fulfillment. They are often good things but not God things. People can literally burn out on religious activity as they struggle to serve God under the law. Religious people frequently follow formulas and do good works to earn God’s favor but don’t have a relationship with Him. Jesus did not die so we could have religion—He died so we could be one with God through Him, so we could have a deep personal relationship with the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus became very upset with the religious people of His day. He said: “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything impure. Just so, you also outwardly seem to people to be just and upright but inside you are full of pretense and lawlessness and iniquity’” (Matt. 23:27-28, The Amplified Bible). The scribes and Pharisees were the most religious people of their day, yet they were not pleasing to God. They followed all the rules and made laws for others to follow, but they did not attend to more important matters—such as helping people—out of right motives. God has always been more interested in the condition of people’s hearts than the works of their hands.

Religious activity is one thing that can keep us from hearing God.

The Bible says we must be born again (see John 3:1-8)— it doesn’t say we must be religious. People can go to church for years and do religious things all their lives without ever knowing Jesus as Lord. It is frightening to realize that there are probably thousands of people sitting in churches every week who won’t go to heaven. As I often say, “Sitting in a church won’t make a person a Christian any more than sitting in a garage will make him a car.” We must let Jesus come into our lives and sit on the throne of our hearts to rule and reign over every step we take. Jesus said: “ ‘Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’ ” (Matt. 11:28-30, NIV). Religious rules and regulations can be harsh, hard and pressing. You can easily become overburdened if you don’t do everything you believe is expected of you. But here Jesus is saying: “My system is not that way. It isn’t harsh, hard and pressing. It is comfortable, gracious and pleasant.” If someone asks us, “What religion are you?” we should talk about our personal relationship with Jesus instead of what church we attend. I like to answer that question by saying: “Thank you for asking. I don’t have any religion, but I do have Jesus.” We need to start asking people: “Do you know Jesus? Is He your friend? Do you have a personal relationship with Him?” Before you become busy doing good works, take time to seek God about what He is leading you to do, rather than just doing things in an effort to please Him. Jesus leads us to a place that is comfortable, gracious and pleasant. It is easy to serve God—if we learn to hear from Him before we struggle to do things He never asked us to do.

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hen I first began my ministry, I was scared. In those days, women were not as widely accepted in the pulpit as they are today. Afraid of being rejected, I bent over backward to behave in the way I thought would please people. The only problem was that I was trying to earn approval, and it didn’t work. At the time, I knew nothing about supernatural favor. I didn’t realize that favor is a part of grace. In fact, in the New Testament the words grace and favor both are translated from the Greek word charis. The grace of God is the favor of God. And the grace of God causes good things to happen in our lives through the channel of faith. It is not by human power or might but through God’s Spirit of grace that we find favor with God and man. There is a distinction between natural favor and supernatural favor. Natural favor must be earned, but supernatural favor is a gift. Natural favor says, If you work hard enough and long enough, some people will like you some of the time. But that acceptance must be maintained, and having to say and do all the right things becomes a form of bondage. God doesn’t expect us to run around trying to earn favor with Him or with others. He wants us only to do His will—whether it is popular or not. Just do your best and leave the results to God. From childhood, Jesus walked in the supernatural favor of God and men. In fact, He was so popular He could hardly find time alone to pray and fellowship with His heavenly Father. Even those who did not believe in Him recognized that He enjoyed the favor of God. The guards sent by the Pharisees to arrest Jesus returned saying, “Never has a man talked as this Man talks!” (John 7:46, The Amplified Bible). Right up to the end of His life, even on the cross, that special favor was recognized (see Luke 23:47-48). Psalm 8:5-6 says: “You have made him but a little lower than God [or heavenly beings], and You have

God has crowned man with glory and favor, giving him dominion over the works of His hands.

crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” In these verses, honor and favor have the same meaning. We might say that God has crowned man with glory and favor, giving him dominion over the works of His hands and placing all things under his feet. We must never forget that no matter what happens, we can have favor with God and with other people (see Luke 2:52). But like so many good things in life, just because something is available to us does not mean that we will partake of it. The Lord makes many things available that we never receive and enjoy because we don’t activate our faith in that area. For example, if we go to a job interview confessing fear and failure, we can be almost certain we won’t get the job. On the other hand, even if we apply for a job we aren’t fully qualified for, we can still go in confidence, knowing that God will give us favor in every situation that is His will. First Samuel 2:7 says, “The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and He lifts up.” A perfect example of this is found in the life of Esther. God raised her up out of obscurity to become the queen of the entire land. He gave her favor with everyone she met, including the king. Esther drew upon that favor to save herself and her people from being murdered by the evil Haman. She may have been afraid to go to the king and ask him to intervene, but Esther knew she had favor with God and pressed on with complete confidence in Him. We don’t have nearly as much fun with the Lord as we should. We should have more freedom and liberty and less fear and legalism. Regardless of the circumstances that come into your life, believe God for supernatural favor. Despite how hopeless things may seem, God can lift you up. If your life is in His hands, the light of the Lord shines upon you. It is time we believe the words of our Father: “You are the apple of My eye. You are My favorite child” (see Deut. 32:10, NKJV).

PaSSINg THE TrUST TEST

WHO arE wE TO PaSS JUDgmENT?

Being unduly critical of others is a behavior pattern that not only destroys our relationships but also blinds us to our own weaknesses
those things. If we go out to shop for household things together, it seems Dave always likes one thing, and I like something else. His opinion is just as good as mine, and mine is just as good as his; they are simply different. It took me years to understand that there wasn’t something wrong with Dave just because he did not agree with me. Of course, I usually let him know that I thought there was something wrong with him. Obviously, my attitude caused much friction between us and hurt our relationship.

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ave you found yourself wondering lately if the condition of this world can get any worse? Perhaps you pray as David did in Psalm 7:9, “Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the [uncompromisingly] righteous [those upright and in harmony with You]; for You, Who try the hearts and emotions and thinking powers, are a righteous God” (The Amplified Bible). Life is filled with challenges that test our determination and our faith in God. Whether faced with the impending threat of evil or with everyday hassles, the quality of our character is sure to be tested on a regular basis. It would be a great mistake to overlook the fact that God tests our hearts, our emotions and our minds. What does it mean to test something? It means to put pressure on it to see if it will do what it says it will do. Will it hold up under stress? Can it perform at the level its maker says it can? Is it genuine when measured against a true standard of quality? God does the same with us. One of the tests we can expect to encounter in our journey with God is the trust test. How many times do we say to God: “What is going on in my life? What are You doing? What is happening? I don’t understand.” If you are in a place right now where nothing in your life makes sense, trust God anyway. One lesson I’ve learned through the years is this: There is no such thing as trusting God without unanswered questions. There are always going to be things we just don’t understand. Psalm 62:8 says: “Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” Notice we are not to have faith and trust in God once in a while or from time to time, but at all times. We must learn to live from faith to faith, trusting the

There is no such thing as trusting God without unanswered questions.

Lord when things are good and when things are bad. It is easy to trust God when things are good, but when things are not going well and we determine to trust Him, anyway—that is when we develop character. I have a feeling that in these last days we will need to be reminded of Paul’s encouraging words to Timothy about being willing to sacrifice and suffer to fulfill the call of God: “I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness), [a faith] that first lived permanently in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am [fully] persuaded, [dwells] in you also. “That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:5-7). Paul was saying: “Timothy, you may feel like giving up, but you have everything you need to succeed. Don’t forget that the Holy Spirit gives you peace and the power to face all life’s trials and tribulations. Press on without fear!” Regardless of whether we understand what is going on in the world around us or we feel overwhelmed by the tests we face every day, we must trust God through it all. We can pray and ask God for answers, but I have learned that when heaven is silent, I need to stay busy doing what God has told me to do and just keep trusting Him. God will make all the pieces work together for His purpose, even when we don’t see tomorrow clearly. Tomorrow’s answers usually don’t come until tomorrow!

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uch torment comes to people’s lives because of judgmental attitudes, criticism and suspicion. Multitudes of relationships are destroyed by these enemies. In the area of judgment, the mind is the battlefield. Thoughts—just “I think”—can be the tool the devil uses to keep a person lonely. People do not enjoy being around someone who needs to voice an opinion about everything. Being judgmental, opinionated and critical are three sure ways to see relationships dissolve. Satan, of course, wants you and me to be lonely and rejected, so he attacks our minds in these areas.

Judging Defined

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, one of the Greek words translated “judge” is partially defined as “to form an opinion” and is cross-referenced to the word “sentence.” God is the only One who has the right to condemn or sentence; therefore, when we pass judgment on another, we are, in a certain sense, setting ourselves up as God in his life. That puts a little “godly fear” in me. I have a lot of nerve, but I am not interested in trying to be God! These areas were once a major problem in my personality. I was critical because I always seemed to see what was wrong instead of what was right. Some personalities are more given to this fault than others. Some of the more jovial personality types do not want to see anything but the “happy” or “fun” things in life, so they really don’t pay much attention to the things that could spoil their enjoyment. The more melancholy personality or the controlling personality often sees what is wrong first; generally, people with this type of personality are generous in sharing their negative opinions and outlook with others. Thousands of things we encounter every day are neither right nor wrong but are simply personal choices—choices that people have a right to make on their own without outside interference. My husband and I are extremely different in our approach to many things. How to decorate a house would be one of

When we pass judgment on another, we are, in a certain sense, setting ourselves up as God in his life.

The Problem Is Pride

Judgment and criticism are actually the fruit of a deeper problem—pride. The Bible repeatedly warns us about being highminded (see Rom.12:3). Whenever we excel in an area, it is only because God has given us a gift of grace for it. If we have an exaggerated opinion of ourselves, it causes us to look down on others and value them as “less than” we are. This type of attitude or thinking is detestable to the Lord, and it opens many doors for the enemy in our lives. We must have a holy fear of pride and be very careful of judging others or of being critical of them (see Gal. 6:1-3). Each of us belongs to God, and even if we have weaknesses, He is able to make us stand and to justify us. We answer to God, not to each other; therefore, we are not to judge one another in a critical way (see Rom. 14:4). The devil stays very busy assigning demons to place judgmental, critical thoughts in people’s minds. I can remember when it was entertaining for me to sit in the park or the shopping mall and simply watch all the people go by as I formed a mental opinion of each of them—their clothing, hairstyles, companions and so on. We cannot always prevent ourselves from having opinions, but we do not have to express them. I believe we can even grow to the point where we do not have so many opinions, and those we do have are not of a critical nature. I frequently tell myself, “Joyce, it’s none of your business.” A major problem is brewing in your mind when you ponder your opinion until it becomes a judgment.

The problem grows bigger the more you think about it until you begin to express it to others or even to the one you’re judging. It has then become explosive and has the ability to do a great deal of harm in the realm of relationship as well as in the spiritual realm. You may be able to save yourself future problems by simply learning to say, “This is none of my business.” Judgment and criticism were rampant in my family, so I “grew up with them,” so to speak. I wanted to do things God’s way, but I couldn’t. It took many years of misery before I learned about the strongholds in my mind that had to be dealt with before my behavior could change. Matthew 7:1-5 are some of the classic Scriptures on the subject of judgment and criticism. When you are having trouble with your mind in this area, use these Scriptures and others as weapons against the devil who is attempting to build a stronghold in your mind. He may be operating out of a stronghold that has already been there for many years.

We make excuses for our own behavior, but when someone else does the same thing we do, we are often merciless. Doing unto others as we want them to do to us (see Matt. 7:12) is a good life principle that will prevent a lot of judgment and criticism, if followed. A judgmental mind is an offshoot of a negative mind— thinking about what is wrong with an individual instead of what is right. Being positive and not negative will benefit others, but you will benefit more than anyone.

Be Suspicious of Suspicion
First Corinthians 13:7 reads: “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (The Amplified Bible). I can honestly say that obedience to this Scripture has always been a challenge for me. I was brought up to be suspicious and to distrust everyone. In addition, I had several very disappointing experiences with people, not only before I became an active Christian but afterward as well. Meditating on the components of love and realizing that love always believes the best has helped me greatly to develop a new mind-set. When your mind has been poisoned or when Satan has gained strongholds in your mind, it has to be renewed according to God’s Word. You renew it by learning the Word and meditating on it—pondering, muttering to yourself and thinking on it (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary). We have the wonderful Holy Spirit in us to remind us when our thoughts are going in the wrong direction. God does this for me when I am having suspicious thoughts instead of loving thoughts. The natural man thinks, “If I trust people, I’ll be taken advantage of.” Perhaps, but the benefits will far outweigh any negative experiences. Trust and faith bring joy to life and help relationships grow to their maximum potential. Suspicion cripples a relationship and usually destroys it. God condemns judgment, criticism and suspicion, and so should we. Love what God loves, and hate what He hates. Allow what He allows, and disallow what He disallows. A balanced attitude is always the best policy. That doesn’t mean we are not to use wisdom and discernment in our dealings with others. We don’t have to throw open our lives to everyone we meet, giving every person we encounter a chance to crush us. On the other hand, we don’t have to look at everyone with a negative, suspicious eye, always expecting to be taken advantage of by others. One time after I had been involved in a disappointing church situation, God brought John 2:23-25 to

Sowing and Reaping
The Scriptures plainly tell us that we will reap what we sow (see Matt. 7:1-2; Gal. 6:7). This also applies to the mental realm. We can sow and reap an attitude as well as a crop or an investment. Many times we are reaping in our lives what we have previously sown into the life of another. The devil loves to keep us busy, mentally judging the faults of others. That way, we never see or deal with what is wrong with us! We cannot change others; only God can. We cannot change ourselves either, but we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do the work. When we have our thoughts and conversation on what is wrong with everyone else, we are usually being deceived about our own conduct. Therefore, Jesus commanded that we not concern ourselves with what is wrong with others when we have so much wrong with ourselves (see Matt. 7:3-5). Allow God to deal with you first, and then you will learn the scriptural way of helping your brother grow in his Christian walk. Besides reaping judgment ourselves when we criticize others, the Scriptures tell us that we ourselves do the same things for which we criticize others (see Rom. 2:1). The Lord gave me a good example once to help me understand this principle. I was pondering why we would do something ourselves and think it was perfectly all right but judge someone else who does it. The Lord said, “Joyce, you look at yourself through rose-colored glasses, but you look at everyone else through a magnifying glass.”

my attention. It speaks of Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. It plainly says that Jesus did not trust Himself to them. It does not say that He was suspicious of them or that He had no trust in them; it explains that because He understood human nature, He did not trust Himself to them in an unbalanced way. I had been hurt badly in the situation at church because I had become too involved with a group of ladies and had gotten out of balance. I had been leaning on the ladies in this group and placing in them a trust that belongs only to God. We can go only so far in any human relationship. If we go beyond wisdom, trouble will brew, and we will be hurt. Some people think they have discernment when actually they are just suspicious. Suspicion comes out of the unrenewed mind; discernment comes out of the renewed spirit. True spiritual discernment will provoke prayer, not gossip. If a genuine problem is being discerned by a genuine gift, it

will follow the scriptural pattern for dealing with it, not fleshly ways that only spread and compound the problem.

Pleasant Words Are Sweet
“The mind of the wise instructs his mouth, and adds learning and persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body” (Prov. 16:23-24). Words and thoughts are like bone and marrow—so close, it is hard to divide them (see Heb. 4:12). Our thoughts are silent words that only we and the Lord hear, but those words affect our inner man, our health, our joy and our attitude. The things we think on often come out of our mouths and sometimes make us look foolish. Judgment, criticism and suspicion never bring joy. Jesus said that He came in order that we might have and enjoy life (see John 10:10). Begin to operate in the mind of Christ, and you will step into a whole new realm of living.

Do you enjoy running your own life—without help from God? He wants to free you from the subtle power of an independent spirit.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31, The Amplified Bible). I thought the offering would be larger if all the people got the opportunity to give. But God wanted me to trust Him with the entire matter and believe that He was able to get to me whatever He wanted me to have no matter how He did it. As a minister of the gospel, my job is not to spend time trying to figure out how to get money to pay bills and erect buildings. My job is to teach and preach, to pray and bless people. It is God’s job to bring my provision to me. My part is to share the Word with people concerning giving, let them know our needs, trust God to work in their hearts and believe He will

STOp DOINg EVErYTHINg ON YOUr OwN

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his is what Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer who asked them, “What must I do to be saved?” This is what salvation really means—giving ourselves up to God, taking ourselves out of our own keeping and entrusting ourselves into His keeping. God wants to take care of us. He can do a much better job of that if we will avoid a problem called independence, which is really self-care. The desire to take care of ourselves is based on fear. Basically, it stems from the idea that if we do it, we can be sure it will be done right. We are afraid of what might happen if we entrust ourselves totally to God and He doesn’t “come through” for us. The root problem of independence is trusting ourselves more than we trust God. We love to have a back-up plan. We may pray and ask God to get involved in our lives, but if He is the least bit slow in responding (at least, to our way of thinking), we are quick to take control back into our own hands. What we fail to realize is, God has a plan for us too—and His plan is much better than ours (see Jer. 29:11).

It is insulting to God when we go through life planning everything without consulting Him, yet expecting Him to make everything work out.

commitment. He tests us by asking us to lay down our most treasured blessing. In my case, the Lord brought me to the point where I had to say, “Yes, Lord, I’ll do it. If that’s what You want, I’ll go down to the riverfront and minister to 50 people for the rest of my life. I love You enough to do that.” I was weeping when I said it, but I meant it. I fell to my knees and cried out in tears, “Lord, I have nothing to give You but myself, my will and my love. Your will be done, not mine.” When we get to the place where we can honestly make that kind of commitment, God will begin to honor us and work out His plan for our lives.

Doing unto others as we want them to do to us is a good life principle that will prevent a lot of judgment and criticism, if followed.

get to us enough to meet every need we have. If we become concerned with looking out for ourselves, we will fail to do what we are called to do, which is to minister to the needsof others. Whatever happens to us, however we may be treated or mistreated, we must continue to do the work God has set before us. We must give ourselves to Him totally and completely, trusting Him to justify us and vindicate us, to protect and provide for us, to help us and keep us.

Trust God to Provide

Overcoming a Spirit of Independence
God puts wisdom into us in the form of His Holy Spirit for us to walk by that wisdom step-by-step. But the Lord wants us to know, recognize and acknowledge Him. He wants us to be aware of His Spirit and to walk in quiet confidence, trust and obedience to Him (see Prov. 3:5-7). It is insulting to God when we go through life planning everything without consulting Him or caring what He thinks, yet expecting Him to make everything work work for God—become more important to us than God Himself. To keep that from happening, from time to time God calls upon us to lay it all on the altar as proof of our love and

God may not always do everything exactly as we would like it done. But whatever He does will be right, the thing that is best for each situation. One time I was invited to preach in a certain church and was assured I would receive a love offering at the end of my series of meetings. Later, just before the meetings were to begin, the church suddenly called and informed me I would receive an honorarium, but no love offering. Although I didn’t say anything to the church, I got upset and began to mouth off to my secretary: “If those people think for one moment they’re going to pull that kind of thing on me, they’ve got another think coming! I won’t go! You can just call them back and tell them that!” In just a few moments the Lord spoke to me and said, “Yes, you will go, and you will not say anything about this matter. You will not be concerned about the money. You will go and minister as you promised, and you will do it sweetly and kindly. You will trust Me to take care of you.”

THE CUrE FOr a STrESSED-OUT LIFE

Until I learned how to rest in God, I was constantly unhappy and hard to get along with
us. We don’t have to worry, struggle or be frustrated about trying to change things we can’t change, such as ourselves, other people or circumstances. We can give it all to God and trust Him to do what we can’t do. Face it, there’s only so much we can do, and we need to know when we’re finished. We need to do what we can, then back off and let God work, because trying to do something about something you can’t do anything about is one of the most stressful things you can do!

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ow would you like to live every day like you were on vacation, as if it were a day away from work? You can, if you’ll learn how to really enter God’s rest. My life used to be one big struggle. I was unhappy about almost everything and difficult to get along with because of the abuse I endured during my childhood. In the early years of my marriage, I wanted Dave to be miserable because I was miserable. And it just about drove me crazy when he stayed happy while I was unhappy. He refused to join my pity parties and accept my negative perspective of life, and it made me mad. But eventually, his example became a great witness to me, and I began to hunger for the peace, joy and stability he lived with. I wanted to enter God’s rest. What is God’s rest? It is not actually a resting, or ceasing, from physical work; it’s the ability to trust God and rest in Him no matter what you’re doing or what’s going on in your life. When we enter His rest, we can remain stable in every circumstance. We need this rest because we live in a stress-filled world. And the bottom line is, life is not worth living if you’re going to be upset, frustrated and worn out from stress. This kind of stress causes health problems—headaches, high blood pressure, heart issues, anxiety, fear—and it steals our peace, joy and stability. But we have to learn how to rest in God, and the first step is sitting down. It’s kind of like watching babies grow and develop. They don’t just jump out of the crib and start running. First they learn how to sit; then stand, walk and run. Ephesians 2:6 says that when we accept Christ as our Savior, God makes us “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Now, physically, we’re still on the earth; but spiritually, we’re seated in Him. This means our position is with and in Christ—what He’s done for us and has for us is accessible to us and belongs to

How to Get There
Before I knew what I know now, I was stressed-out trying to do what God was leading me to do. For several years during the beginning of my ministry, I led a small, weekly Bible study in my home for about 25 people. And it stressed me out! I didn’t like how they acted and wanted to change them. They messed up my house! They used up my toilet paper and never offered to buy any! Until I understood that the root of the problem was in me and only God could change me, it was hard. But I have changed. Now I’m leading a worldwide ministry with offices in multiple countries and a potential audience of two-thirds of the globe—and I enjoy it! Two key things happened that led to my freedom from a stressed-out life: (1) I learned God loves me unconditionally; and (2) I learned to love myself. See, we can’t give someone else what we don’t have. So we have to believe God loves us and that there’s nothing we can do to make Him stop. It’s the love of God that heals our wounded souls, makes us secure, gives us confidence and enables us to live without fear. And when we are loved and love ourselves, we can really love others, trusting God to do what we can’t do for them. We can live in His rest!

Are you trying to do something about something you can’t do anything about? Then let God work.

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SEPTEMBER 20-22, 2012 E D WA R D J O N E S D O M E S T. L O U I S , M I S S O U R I

Be part of a life-changing experience. Volunteer for upcoming trips at joycemeyer.org/ medicalmissions

Excitement is in the air! September 20-22, 2012, join thousands of ladies from around the world to worship God and grow. CELEBRATE THE POWER OF HOPE

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R E G I S T E R T O D AY !

Throughout the year our medical and dental volunteers travel to some of the poorest areas of the world to provide much needed care. And we hope you’ll join us!

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Spanish Translation Available Ladies, this weekend is just for you, so leave the men and children at home and enjoy a few refreshing days away!

Jesus said to [him], “I will go and heal him.”
MATTHEW 8:7 NCV

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