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FaithNaija: Confidence before God through forgiveness

‘…Your sins are forgiven.’

Matthew 9:2

Photo: freechristianwallpaper

Photo: freechristianwallpaper

Jesus said to a quadriplegic lying on a bed, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’ Perhaps you’re asking, ‘What sins could a quadriplegic commit?’ There are three ways to sin: 1) Commission: the things we do. 2) Omission: the good we fail to do. 3) Disposition: our wrong attitudes.

Why didn’t Jesus just say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’ Because when you know that your sins are forgiven, you have the confidence to ask God for what you need, and the courage to rise up in faith and do what He tells you. Knowing his sins were forgiven enabled this man to do what everybody thought was impossible.

There’s an important lesson here. After Adam sinned he hid from God. When God said to him, ‘Where are you?’ he replied, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid…’ (Genesis 3:9-10 NKJV). How can you know when something is wrong for you? When it causes you to hide from God! When it makes you avoid prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship with God’s people.

The Bible condemns sins such as stealing and lusting, but what about other things that are not so clearly spelled out in Scripture? To know whether something is right or wrong for you, you need only ask one question: ‘How will this affect my confidence before God?’ You’ll never go wrong asking that question.

‘If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight’ (1John 3:21-22 NKJV).

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Read this article in UCB Word for today

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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FaithNaija: 4 fears every pastor faces

By Paul Tripp
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Four fears tempt every pastor. They are:

1. My fear of me.

Few things better reveal the full range of sin, immaturity, weakness, and  failure than ministry. Few things will expose your weaknesses so consistently.  Few endeavors will put you under such public expectancy and scrutiny. Few things  are so personally humbling. Few endeavors have the power to produce in you such  deep feelings of inadequacy. Few things can be such a vat of self-doubt. There  is a great temptation for your ministry to be sidetracked and harmed by your  fear of you.

God finds Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress, because he was afraid of the  Midianites, and greets this fearful man with one of the most ironic greetings in  the Bible: “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Gideon essentially  says, “Well, if you’re with us, why is all this bad stuff happening?” God  responds, “I have chosen you to say Israel from the Midianites.” Gideon says,  “You have to have the wrong address. I am from the weakest clan in Israel, and I  am the weakest person in my father’s house. You can’t really mean me.” And God  said, “I will be with you.”

God’s response to Gideon’s fear of Gideon is very helpful. He didn’t work to  pump up his self-confidence. He didn’t work to help Gideon see that he brought  more to the table than he thought. Gideon’s problem was not first that he feared  his inadequacies. His problem was awe. Gideon failed to fear God in the sense of  “God is with me, and he is able.” So Gideon was terrified at the thought of  leading Israel anywhere.

My pastorate in Scranton, Pennsylvania, exposed the full range of my  immaturity and weakness, and in ways that had been very painful, these were  often on public display. I thought I was so ready. I had done very well in  seminary, and I was ready to take on the world. But God called me to a very  broken, very difficult place, and used this place to yank me out of my pride and  self-righteousness to a place where I would find my hope in him. I was hurt,  disappointed, tired, overwhelmed, angry, and a bit bitter. I felt God had set me  up, and people had treated me unkindly. All I wanted to do was run. I had an  education degree and thought I would move somewhere far away and run a Christian  school. I had announced to my board my plan to resign. They pleaded with me not  to go, but I was determined. So the next Sunday I made my announcement and had a  momentary sense of relief. My little congregation was not relieved, so I had  many conversations after the service. Much later than I normally left the  church, I made my way out the door only to be greeted by the oldest man in our  church.

He approached me and asked if we could talk. “Paul,” he said, “we know that  you’re a bit immature and need to grow up. We know you are a man with  weaknesses, but where is the church going to get mature pastors if immature  pastors leave?” I felt as if God had just nailed my shoes to the porch. I knew  he was right, and I knew I couldn’t leave. In next several months I began to  learn what it means to minister in weakness but with a security-giving,  courage-producing awe of God. I am still learning what it means to be in such  awe of him that I am no longer afraid of me.

2. My fear of others.

Most of the people you serve will love and appreciate you and will encourage  you as they are able. But not all of them. Some will love you and have a  wonderful plan for your life. Some will assign themselves to be the critics of  your preaching and leadership. Some will be loyal and supportive, and some will  do things that undermine your pastoral leadership. Some will give themselves to  the ministry in sacrificial acts of service, and some will complain about the  way they are being served. Some will approach you with loving candor, and some  will give way to the temptation to talk behind your back. Some will jump in and  get involved, while others will always relate to the church with a consumer  mentality. You will connect with some easily, and with others you will find  relationships much more difficult.

Because your ministry will always be done with people and for people, it is  vital that you put people in the right place in your heart. You cannot allow  yourself to be so afraid of them that you are closed to their perspectives or  unwilling to delegate ministry to them. At the same time you cannot be so afraid  of them that you let them set the agenda and wrongly control the direction of  the ministry to which God has called you. You cannot allow yourself to minister  with a closed door, and you cannot be so sensitive to the opinions of others  that you are unable to lead.

Because all the people you minister with and to are still dealing with  indwelling sin, relationships to them and ministry with them will be messy.  People will hurt you and damage your ministry. People will demand of you what  they should not demand and respond to you in ways they should not respond. In  the middle of all this, particular people – the influential and vocal – will  loom larger than they should in your thoughts and motives. They will be afforded  too much power to influence you and the way you do ministry. Rather than working  for the glory of God, you will be tempted to work for their approval. Or, rather  than working for the glory of God, you will work to disarm or expose them. In  both cases your ministry is being corrupted by an ancient human fear: the fear  of man.

The power of the fear of man to divert or delude ministry is vividly  portrayed in Galatians 2:11-14. Peter not only compromises, but he actually  forsakes the ministry to the Gentiles to which God has called him (Acts 10)  because he was afraid of “the circumcision party.” Paul observed Peter’s conduct  “was not in step with the truth of the gospel,” so he confronted Peter. How much  ministry is diverted by actions, reactions, and responses not rooted in fear of  God but fear of man? How often does this compromise the work of the gospel? How  often does this cause people to stumble? How often are we tempted to act in a  way that does not accord with what we say we believe? How much is fear of man  setting the agenda in our churches? With openness and humility we need to keep  asking these questions.

I wish I could say I am free of this fear, but I’m not. There are times when  I have found myself thinking, as I was preparing a sermon, that a particular  point would finally win over one of my detractors. In that moment my preaching  was about to be shaped, not by my zeal for God’s glory, but by my hope that what  I said would cause someone to finally see my glory. I understand that this is an  ongoing war for the rule of my heart for which I have been given powerful,  ever-present grace.

 3. My fear of circumstances.

Since you don’t author your own story, and since you haven’t penned the  script of your own ministry, life and ministry is constantly unpredictable. In  this world of the unexpected, you are always living in the tension between who  God is and what he’s promised and the unexpected things on your plate. In the  intersection between promise and reality, you must guard your mediation. You  have to be very disciplined when it comes to what you do with your mind. Permit  me to explain.

Abraham had been told by God that his descendants would be like the sand on  the sea shore, and he had staked his life on this promise. Normally his wife,  Sarah, would give birth early and often. But that did not happen. All throughout  Sarah’s child-bearing years she could not conceive. Now both she and Abraham  were old – way too old to seriously think they would be blessed with the  promised son. Old Abraham was now living in the tension between God’s promise  and his circumstances. When you’re in the intersection between the promises of  God and the details of your situation, what you do with your mind is very  important. In this intersection, God will never ask you to deny reality. Abraham  did not deny reality. Romans 4 says that he “considered the deadness of Sarah’s  womb.” Faith doesn’t deny reality. It is a God-focused way of considering  reality.

But the passage tells you more. It tells you what Abraham did with his  meditation. He didn’t invest himself in turning his circumstances inside out and  over and over. He considered his circumstances, but he meditated on God. And as  he meditated on God, he actually grew stronger in faith, even though nothing in  his circumstances had yet changed. For many people in ministry, waiting becomes  a chronicle of ever-weakening faith. Meditating on the circumstances will leave  you in awe of the circumstances. They will appear to grow larger, you will feel  smaller, and your vision of God will be clouded. But if you meditate on the  Lord, you will be in greater awe of his presence, power, faithfulness, and  grace. The situation will seem smaller, and you will live with greater  confidence even though nothing has changed.

Have the circumstances captured your meditation? Are there ways in which you  have grown weaker in faith? Or do the eyes of your heart focus on a God who is  infinitely greater than anything you will ever face?’

4. My fear of the future.

You always live and minister in the hardship of not knowing. In both life and  ministry you are called to trust, obey, and believe that God will guide and  provide. You and I do not know what the next moment will bring, let alone the  next month or year. Security can never be found in our attempt to figure it all  out or in trying to divine the secret will of God. His secret will is called his  secret will because it is secret! Yet we still desire to know, to figure things  out ahead of time. The more you concentrate on the future, the more you’ll give  way to fear of the future, and the more you’ll be confused and de-motivated in  the here and now.

Not knowing is hard. It would be nice to know if that elder is going to  succumb to the temptation of being divisive. It would be nice to know if the  finances of the church are going to rebound. It would be nice to know how that  new preaching series will be received, if those young missionaries will make all  the adjustments they need to make, or if you’ll get the permits to build that  needed worship space. We find questions of the future hard to deal with because  we find it difficult to trust God. The One we promise to trust knows everything  about the future, because he controls every aspect of it. Our fear of the future  exposes our struggle to trust him, and in trusting him, to rest in his guidance  and care, even though we don’t really know what comes next. Awe of God is the  only way to be free of fearing what is coming next. When my trust of God is  greater than my fear of the unknown, I will be able to rest, even though I don’t  have a clue what will greet me around the corner.

Do you load the future on your shoulders, with all of its questions and  concerns? Or do you give yourself to the work of the present, leaving the future  in God’s capable hands? How much are you haunted by the “what ifs”? Do you greet  the unknown with expectancy or dread? Do God’s presence and promises quiet your  unanswerable questions about the future?

Meditate on the questions posed on this article, honestly answer each one,  then humbly cry out for the grace that can free you from the fears you have not  yet escaped. Then celebrate the patient King you serve, who lifts your burden of  fear rather than condemning you for it.

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Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and  international conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. For more resources, visit www.paultripp.com.

Read this article on the Christianpost

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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#FaithNaija: God’s delay is not his denial (TESTIMONY)

by Rachel Ogbu

restinginchrist

restinginchrist

Whenever we are going through any tough situation in life, the bible reminds you that God’s delay is not his denial. The bible tells us to hold on to his promises and he’ll always come true for us.

Especially young people who are out of jobs or believing God for a breakthrough, it is important to know that God doesn’t work like a fast food restaurant. Isaiah 30:18 promises “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!”

Read this inspiring miracle story and start praying today:

I have been unemployed for most months of 2010. At first, it was by choice that I left my job, then after entering the workforce again in only 2 months, our office closed and I found myself out of work again.

By this time, my husband and I were concerned that should my situation continue, our future can end in uncertainty. I’ve always prayed to God although admittedly, not regularly, but when the time came for me to start my job search, I started my novenas and daily rosaries.

After a few job rejections, I started feeling downhearted. I continued to pray but doubt started to creep in that I only got interviewed but never got hired. I became frustrated and  thought that God won’t answer me.

Around noon one day, I started to prepare for an interview scheduled in the afternoon. That morning, I attended an interview and although it went well, I expected that I would get rejected as I had always been.  Feeling “down-spirited”,  I prayed to God to guide me as I go on another  interview.

I said that I will persevere in the job search but if He would be so merciful to answer my prayer for my husband’s sake as he is more worried than me about my situation. My words were: “God, please end my husband’s suffering.”

I then opened my Bible at random and it opened at Isaiah 62 “God’s spirit is in my heart.” It spoke of God’s good news to the oppressed. The reading renewed my spirit and thanked Him for inspiring me as I go into another interview.

Not 5 minutes later, I received a call from the person who interviewed me in the morning and offered me the job. I immediately called my mother who told me she was praying a novena to St. Pancratius for intercession in my job search and that it worked for 2 other people before me. St. Pancratius is the patron saint of the unemployed and the youth.

I just want to say that God does answer our prayers and His delay is not His denial. I hope other people get to read this especially those in the same situation as myself and renew their hope and always remember that God and His Saints are here for us. Praises and thanks to God who never loses faith in us.

 

FaithNaija: Pastor Lamar’s old school songs turn into a Praise Party (WATCH)

by Chi Ibe

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Pastor Lamar Simmons of the Love & Faith community Church is said to always teach the congregation old school gospel songs to help sustain the heritage of gospel music.

During this Sunday service, was moved to start a praise part. He gave the church a quick rehearsal and “took the congregation on a journey of traditional songs like ‘The Lord Is Blessing Me’, ‘Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus’, ‘Heavy Load,’ ‘Pay Day Is Coming’, ‘I Believe I’ll Run On’. ”

Today, join Pastor Lamar and the church as a “few old songs turns a Sunday morning worship service into a praise party!!”

Watch the praise video here:

FaithNaija: Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday (Watch Catholic Mass)

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Sunday, April 07, 2013
Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday

First Reading:
Psalm:
Second Reading:
Gospel:
Acts 5:12-16
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19
John 20:19-31

Belief in the Eucharist is a treasure we must seek by submissiveness, preserve by piety, and defend at any cost. Not to believe in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest of misfortunes.

— St Peter Emyard

Yesterday’s Catholic Mass.

Saturday, April 06, 2013 Saturday in the Octave of Easter

First Reading: Psalm: Gospel: Acts 4:13-21 Psalm 118:1, 14-21 Mark 16:9-15It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

–  Dei Verbum

Patrick Fitzpatrick celebrates Daily Mass from St. Basil’s Church in Toronto, produced by National Catholic Broadcasting Council.

Photo: Adani

FaithNaija: Direct dial to heaven

by Rachel Ogbu

Photo: Adani

Photo: Adani

Most times in hopeless and very bad situations, a little act of faith or a short prayer can make a difference. We’ve all heard the phrase that “God works in mysterious ways.”

For Tammy G, the phrase wasn’t just words, God came through for her in a very mysterious way.

Read her miracle here and be encouraged because as the song goes;”…he’ll always come through for you.”

It all happened when my son was seven years old; he is now 16. He had gone out behind our house to play in a small creek while I was in the house cooking. Suddenly he staggered through the door screaming. I turned around and could see that one of his eyes was bleeding – not just around the eye, but the actual eyeball itself.

I covered his eye with a dish towel and ran to the front door to scream for my sister-in-law to come help. Thank God my husband had just gotten home from work. We rushed as quick as possible to the hospital. I sat in the back seat with my son on my lap, he and I both crying, while I prayed.

A CAT scan showed he had bleeding behind the eye and into the brain. The doctors didn’t believe the eye could be saved and did not know if the bleeding in the brain could be stopped. They said he would need to be flown to a larger hospital more than an hour and half away from home. It was the worst time in my life.

My sister immediately left to go to the other hospital to be there when the plane arrived, while my husband and I stayed with my son until the plane lifted off.  Then we went home to pack clothes to stay at the hospital.

While we were there, my sister-in-law came over and told us my husband’s cousin Timmy had heard the news and called. I dialed the number and asked to speak to Timmy. As soon as he said hello, I said, “Timmy, they think Bub will have to have his eye removed and they are worried about the bleeding in the brain.”

The voice on the other end asked, “Who are you trying to get a hold of?”

“Isn’t this Timmy?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “but I don’t know Bub or you, ma’am.”

I apologized for having dialed the wrong number.

He answered, “I don’t know who you are, but I am a preacher at a local church and I will pray for your son. May God bless you.”

Not thinking much of the call, I hurried to my son’s side.

After a week in the hospital, the bleeding around the brain had subsided, the broken facial bones were fixed, and my son had not lost his injured eye – although he had lost his sight in the eye. We praised God for His goodness.

Once my son was home, my dad said he would like to take him to his church to have the preachers anoint him with oil and pray for him. Upon entering the church, a young preacher arose and said, “My name is Timmy. I have been at this church for over a year and know this young boy’s grandpa quite well. When he told me his grandson had been injured, I asked what had happened and he said his grandson had an eye injury where an older child had hit him with a large rock.”

Timmy the preacher then explained that it was he who had received my phone call the day of the injury, instead of my husband’s cousin by the same name. “it was at that time I realized God had dialed that number for this mother,” he continued, “because they needed my prayers. Although her son has lost his sight, God answered my prayer to please heal this child and return him safely home to his parents.”

I know God dialed the number of a holy man to pray for my child’s life and safe return home! I was truly blessed by a guardian angel. I prayed for God’s help in the back seat of that car on the way to the hospital and he sent it in a man named Timmy.

 

A version of the story was first published on touchedbythehandofgod.com.

 

 

 

 

Faith Naija: “Relationship” by Tre Nelson [LISTEN]

by Rachel Ogbu

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Living as a Christian is all about relationship and not about religion. The bible says it’s not by might nor by power but by the Spirit says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6).

All you need to do is to break out of tradition and break into his vision. These are the inspirational words of Tre Nelson in his gospel song, ‘Relationship’.

Listen to this lifting song here:

Relationship Lyrics

(Produced by Jason Nelson & illoquint, written by L. Wilder)

Verse 1

I hope you’re not discouraged, and I hope you’re not ashamed
May God give you the courage, to stop placing the blame on yourself and make a change
You will never be perfect; he knew all of your mistakes
Before you even made them, and he still loves you the same that’s what makes him so great
Don’t think about the bad things you think that you deserve
Don’t think that God don’t still want to use you for his work
Don’t think that you’re the only one that messed up in the church
Believe the most important thing is knowing what your worth

Chorus

It’s all about relationship, it’s not about religion, just
Break into his vision and, Break out of Tradition, It’s
All about relationship, it’s not about religion, just
Break into his vision and, Break out Tradition, and
Love, Love, Him. With your whole heart
That’s all he really wants you to do
Love, Love, Him. With your whole heart
That’s all he really wants you to do

Verse 2

If you already feel bad, don’t let them people make you fell badder just because of your sin
Mama used to say they don’t have a heaven or hell, a throne or a cell to put you in
Ain’t nothing worse than going to church, to hear the word, and you uncomfortable in your skin
In Christ there’s supposed to be freedom, Not locked up, feeling like you’re in a pin
If you’re desire is for him to take you higher, Ask for him to purify ya, but be ready for the fire
You already know that most change is not an overnighter, Don’t be weary don’t be tired
To whom much is given, much is required

Chorus

Lyrics from Tre Nelson’s official website.

#FaithNaija: Financial stress? Why not go into partnership with God to become more profitable?

by Rachel Ogbu

Millions of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day so its common place to see a lot of people depressed and stressed about money difficulty. It’s good to know you are not alone and trusting God could help alleviate the situation.

‘…I am the Lord…who teaches you to profit…’ Isaiah 48:17 NAS

Word for today says best way to overcome financial anxiety is by trusting God to meet all your needs. You say, ‘That’s nice, but what does God know about my business?’ More than you think! He’s the CEO of the whole world. When it comes to successful systems, nobody knows more than He does. He created the universe in precise order. He asks Job: ‘Can you lead forth a constellation in its season…?’ (Job 38:32 NAS)

If one star could move even just a little out of orbit without His permission, the whole thing would dissolve into cosmic chaos. Yet when He needs to move a star, He can do it like He did for the wise men that first Christmas. ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.’

(Isaiah 48:17 NAS) If you want to become more profitable, go into partnership with God. Does that mean you can just stay home from work, go fishing, and God will pay your bills? No, God doesn’t reward laziness and inefficiency! The story’s told of a pastor who stopped by to admire the garden of one of his parishioners. ‘Isn’t God’s handiwork wonderful?’ he said. The parishioner thought about it for a moment and then replied, ‘Yeah, but you should have seen it when God had it all by Himself.’ Understand this: (1) You’ve got to get up and go to work. (2) You’ve got to consult God before you make decisions. (3) You’ve got to honour God with your tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8-12). (4) When you’ve done your best, you’ve got to trust God with the rest.

Num 3:1 – 4:33, Mt 10:21-31, Ps 104:1-23, Prov 3:9-10

A letter from God to women…

When I created the heavens and the earth, I spoke them into being. When I created man, I formed him and breathed life into his nostrils. But you woman, I fashioned after I breathed the breath of life into man because your nostrils are too delicate. I allowed a deep sleep to come over him so I could patiently and perfectly fashion you. Man was put to sleep so that he could not interfere with the creativity. From one bone I fashioned you. I chose the bone that protects his heart and his lungs and supports him, as you are meant to do.

 Around this one bone I shaped you. I modeled you. I created you perfectly and beautifully. Your characteristics are as the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile. You provide protection for the most delicate organ in man, his heart. His heart is the center of his being; his lungs hold the breath of life. The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart. Support the man as the rib cage supports the body. You were not taken from his feet, to be under him, nor were you taken from his head, to be above him. You were taken from his side, to stand beside him and be held close to his side.

You are My perfect angel. You are My beautiful little girl. You have grown to be a splendid woman of excellence, and My eyes fill when I see the virtues in your heart. Your eyes – don’t change them. Your lips – how lovely when they part in prayer. Your nose, so perfect in form, your hands so gentle in touch. I’ve caressed your face in your deepest sleep; I’ve held your heart close to mine. Of all that lives and breathes, you are the most like Me.

 Adam walked with Me in the cool of the day and yet he was lonely. He could not see Me or touch Me. He could only feel Me. So everything I wanted Adam to share and experience with Me, I fashioned in you: My holiness, My strength, My purity, My love, My protection and support. You are special because you are the extension of Me. Man represents My image, woman My emotions. Together you represent the totality of God.

So man – treat woman well. Love her, respect her, for she is fragile. In hurting her, you hurt Me. What you do to her, you do to Me. In crushing her, you only damage your own heart, the heart of your Father, and the heart of her Father. Woman, support man. In humility, show him the power of emotion I have given you. In gentle quietness show your strength. In love, show him that you are the rib that protects his inner self.

- Heavens Inspiration

FaithNaija: Overwhelmed by negative feelings?

by Elfrieda Nikkel

There is Something you can do about it.

Paul found himself in a difficult situation one day. He had been so faithful in serving the Lord. He had given his life to share the Good News of the gospel. His heart was passionate to see people come to a faith in his risen Lord. But here he was, in prison,

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by negative feelings.  They may be there because of a conflict in your marriage, difficult work situations, problems with your children, financial difficulties or just a feeling of hopelessness because life seems so unfair.

Is there anything that can be done about these negative feelings?  Can we control our feelings?  Can we change them?  If you were asked to make yourself feel happy you would probably think of a wonderful experience you have had like winning a prize or experiencing a special celebration.  On the other hand if  you were asked to feel sad you would think of a very devastating or sad experience. This tells us that our feelings are usually connected to our thoughts.  Often we cannot control the circumstances that lead to our thoughts but we can choose how we want to think about them and that in turn affects our feelings.

Paul found himself in a difficult situation one day.  He had been so faithful in serving the Lord.  He had given his life to share the Good News of the gospel.  His heart was passionate to see people come to a faith in his risen Lord.  But here he was, in prison,  probably with his feet in stocks.  Paul could have said, “It’s not fair”  We might say, he had reason to complain. He could have blamed God for his difficult situation.   He could have been overcome by negative thoughts and feelings because of his circumstances but we see Paul making a choice.  He chose to focus on the good things, the blessings in his life.  We read about this choice in the book of Philippians.

Even though he was in prison he made a choice to think about things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, what is excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4. 8-9) and encourages his readers to do the same.

Paul made a choice to see the good that could come out of his imprisonment.  He saw how his fellow Christians were encouraged to speak the word of God without fear, how the gospel was being shared in the prison, how his fellow Christians responded with kindness and we know how this also led to the writing of the book of Philippians  in the Bible that has been so precious to Christians over the centuries.

Paul could rise above the negative circumstances because he chose to focus on the Lord.  He chose to rejoice in all that the Lord offered him – his presence (v.s 5), peace when he gave his anxieties to the Lord (vs.6), contentment in all circumstances (vs.11 &12), strength to do all things (vs.13), and have all his needs met (v. 19)

We too have a choice like Paul did.  Difficult circumstances can so easily cause us to focus on negative thoughts which create   negative  feelings and also actions.  This sets in motion a negative cycle that only leads to unhappiness, darkness and despair.  In the same way, as we choose to focus on the blessings and the resources we have in the Lord, as Paul did, feelings of peace and rejoicing in the the Lord will follow.

Joan and Diana both faced the difficulty of having their marriage end in divorce.  Joan spent years thinking how unfairly she had been treated, blaming her husband, complaining to everyone who would listen and mistrusting men because of it.  She ended up feeling miserable and unhappy.  Diana decided to make the best of her situation by going back to school and starting a career so she could support her family.  She chose to forgive and focus on the positive things in life and on her faith in God.  Her positive attitude helped her to do well at her job, be a good mom and eventually she attracted a wonderful Christian husband.  It was all about how each chose to think about a difficult situation.

What do you choose to do with your difficult circumstances?  You can choose to rejoice in the Lord as outlined in Philippians and dwell on the positive thoughts.  These positive thoughts will produce positive feelings and also lead to actions that will bless and encourage others.

Philippians 2:13 tells us that God is work within us and helps us to want to do what He wants and then empowers us to do it.  This means thinking positive thoughts. You may have God in your live, but not the Director of your life.  I would encourage you to pray the following prayer asking Him to be the One who empowers you to think positive thoughts.

Dear Father, I need you. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you by directing my own life. I thank you that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saying this prayer is the first step–Jesus, in the person of the Holy Spirit will guide and encourage you every step of the way.
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