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THE POWER TO CHOOSE


by Neil Anderson

 

July 23
 
Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. . . . As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD
 
Adam and Eve’s sin also affected the area of their will. Do you realize that in the Garden of Eden they could only make one wrong choice? Everything they wanted to do was okay except eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16, 17). They had the possibility of making a myriad of good choices and only one bad choice– only one !
 
Eventually, however, they made that one bad choice. As a result, you and I are confronted every day with a myriad of good and bad choices. You can choose to pray or not pray, read your Bible or not read your Bible, go to church or not go to church. You can choose to walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. You and I face countless choices like that every day, and we eventually make some bad ones.
 
Other than the Holy Spirit in your life, the greatest power you possess is the power to choose. Someone has said that pure Christianity lies in the exercise of the will. The animal kingdom operates out of divine instinct. But we are created in the image of God, which means we have a self-operated, independent will. The essence of temptation is to function independently of God. The basis for temptation is legitimate needs.
 
Sinful behavior is often a wrong attempt at meeting your basic needs. The real issue here is are you going to get your needs met by the world, the flesh and the devil, or are you going to allow God to meet your needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)? It’s an issue of identity and maturity. The more you understand your identity in Christ, the more you will grow in maturity. And the more mature you become, the easier it will be for you to choose to live your life in dependence on your heavenly Father.
 
Prayer: Lord, I determine to exercise my great power of choice to live in moment-by-moment dependence on You today.


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BEHAVING YOUR WAY INTO GOOD FEELINGS


by Neil Anderson

 

July 22
 
John 13:17 
If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them
 
What happened to mankind emotionally as a result of the Fall? For one thing, we became fearful and anxious. One of the first emotions expressed by fallen humanity was fear (Genesis 3:10). Today fear is crippling our relationships and activities. Fear is a result of the Fall. If fear is controlling your life, then faith is not.
 
Another emotional by-product of sin is shame and guilt. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25). God created them as sexual beings. Their sex organs and sexual activity were holy. But when they sinned, they were ashamed to be naked and they had to cover up (Genesis 3:7). Many people mask their inner self in fear that others may see them for who they really are.
 
Mankind also became depressed and angry after the Fall. Cain brought his offering to God and, for some reason, God was displeased with it. As a result, “Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?’” (Genesis 4:5-7).
 
I believe God established a principle here which echoes all through the Bible: You don’t feel your way into good behavior; you behave your way into good feelings. There are tons of things you don’t feel like doing, but you do them. I never feel like going to the convalescent hospital to minister. And the moment I step in the door, the smell alone does away with any positive feelings of wanting to continue on. But I always leave feeling great; I’m glad I went. Good feelings follow right behavior. Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).
 
Prayer: Lord, help me do what You want me to do even when it seems unpleasant. I seek Your blessing for obedience.
*Hope Image


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Hope

“Where do you find hope, and in what shape or form does it rest?
I say to you now that absolute and genuine hope is found only in Christ Jesus. He is never far way and always within your grasp. He expects you to seek Him, but when you do He is quickly found. Only upon your discovery of Christ will you recognize the desperate condition of your soul, and through glorious and supernatural revelation comprehend that it was this living Hope who graciously discovered and delivered you.”
~ Cheryl Zelenka-Author
From upcoming book Facing Storms.

*Hope Image
Available books now on Amazon…
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3ACheryl%20Zelenka


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A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP


by Neil Anderson

July 21

John 1:14 
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth
 
What effect did the Fall produce in Adam’s mind? He and Eve lost their true perception of reality. We read in Genesis 3:7, 8, that they tried to hide from God. Doesn’t that reveal a faulty understanding of who God is? How can you hide from God? After the Fall, Adam and Eve weren’t thinking straight.
 
In essence, when Adam and Eve sinned, their minds were robbed of the true knowledge of God. In God’s original design, knowledge was relational. Knowing someone implied an intimate personal relationship. You can see it in Genesis 4:1: “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived” (KJV). Yet we don’t generally equate a knowledge of someone with personal intimacy.
 
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve knew God, not sexually of course, but in the intimacy of a close, personal relationship which we associate with marriage. They knew God by being with God. When they sinned and were banished from the garden, Adam and Eve lost their relationship with God and the knowledge of God which was intrinsic to that relationship. And you and I inherited Adam and Eve’s darkened mind. Before Christ, we knew something about God, but we didn’t know God because we had no relationship with Him.
 
The necessity of being in relationship to God in order to know God comes into sharp focus in John’s announcement: “The Word”– logos in the Greek–”became flesh” (John 1:14). The word logos represented the highest form of philosophical knowledge. For the Greeks, saying that the logos became flesh was the same as saying that ultimate knowledge became personal and relational. God was announcing to the world through John: The true knowledge of God, which can only be discovered in an intimate relationship with God, is now available to the world through God in the flesh–Jesus Christ. In Christ we are able to know God personally, not just know about Him.
 
Prayer: Lord, I thirst for deeper intimacy in my relationship with You. I want to know You more personally today.


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PERCEPTIONS AND EMOTIONS


by Neil Anderson

 

July 20
 
Lamentations 3:22, 23 
The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compasssions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness
 
In a general sense, your emotions are a product of your thought life. If you are not thinking right, if your mind is not being renewed, if you are not perceiving God and His Word properly, it will be reflected in your emotional life.
 
One of the best scriptural illustrations of the relationship between perceptions and emotions is found in Lamentations 3. In verses 1-6, Jeremiah expresses despair as he wrongly perceives that God is against him and that He is the cause of his physical problems. In verses 7-11, 18, he vents his feelings of entrapment and fear. If your hope was in God, and these words were a correct portrayal of God, you would probably feel bummed out too.
 
What was Jeremiah’s problem? His perception of God was way off center. God wasn’t the cause of his affliction. God isn’t a wild beast waiting to chew people up. But Jeremiah wasn’t thinking right, perceiving right, or interpreting his circumstances right, so he wasn’t feeling right or responding right either.
 
Suddenly, Jeremiah’s countenance changes: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (verses 21-23). What a turnaround! Did God change? Did Jeremiah’s circumstances change? No. His perception of God changed and his emotions followed suit.
 
You are not shaped so much by your environment as you are by your perception of your environment. Life’s events don’t determine who you are; God determines who you are, and your interpretation of life’s events determines how well you will handle the pressures of life. In reality we have very little control over our emotions, but we do have control over our thoughts, and our thoughts determine our feelings and our responses. That’s why it is so important that you fill your mind with the knowledge of God and His Word. You need to see life from God’s perspective and respond accordingly.
 
Prayer: Lord, continually adjust my perception of my environment to match Your perspective found in Your Word.
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Fear: The Absence of Peace

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When fear is present, peace is absent. Fear robs our peace of mind, weakens our resolve, disturbs our rest, and even causes us to question the presence of God. Fear is an emotion that will hinder our walks with Christ unless we learn to face it and overcome it with the grace of God.

In Isaiah 26:3 we read how God keeps those whose minds are steadfastly transfixed on Him in perfect peace. When we take all thoughts captive and trust God with our well being, fear departs. Our faith in His power will remove our insecurities, wobbly uncertainty, and unstable nervousness.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Because God knit each one of us together, He understands our nature and individual weaknesses. He lovingly calls out, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV). It is His desire for us to rest in His peace. God longs to give us rest. Faith requires trust, and peace is the fruit of that trust in God.

Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. When He walked the earth as the Son of Man, He told us that in this world we will have tribulation. But He also told us to be of good cheer since He had conquered the grave. This fact alone should produce peace in our hearts. The battle has already been won. Eternal peace is our guarantee, but peace while on still on earth is also available. In fact, we are told to pursue it!

“Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14 (NKJV)

How then do we pursue peace? Through Christ and Christ alone! With supplication and petitions we enter the very throne room of God and while in His very presence, we witness a mediator who intercedes on our behalf both day and night, for He never sleeps. By knocking on His door and seeking Him out, He will accept our offer of fellowship and dine with us. While in His company, He fills us with a hope, inexpressible joy, and comforting peace. Trusting in His love for us produces peace.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)

Psalm 23 speaks of how God provides peace even when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. With our eyes focused on Him, not concentrating on our problems, He leads us beside still waters and makes us lie down in green pastures for a peaceful rest.

When we walk in the Spirit of God, the fruit of the Spirit will be very evident in our lives. Peace, not fear is a component of this fruit. We must crucify our flesh, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (NKJV). By doing this, God blesses His people with peace.

“God incarnate is the end of fear; and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst… will be quiet in the middle of alarm.” ~ F.B Meyer

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“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NKJV)

“And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”   Daniel 10:19 (NKJV)

“The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 (NKJV)

“It is good to remind ourselves that the will of God comes from the heart of God and that we need not be afraid.” ~Warren Wiersbe


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CONFESSING WHAT WE BELIEVE


by Neil Anderson

 

July 19
 
Romans 10:9, 10 
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
 
One primary means by which we express our belief is confession–verbally expressing what we believe. In fact, God requires us to take our stand in this world. Jesus says, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
 
In rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus said, “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). And in Mark 11:23, He said, “Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.” Notice that Jesus does not say we shall have whatever we believe, but we shall have whatever we believe and confess. Confession gives expression to what is believed. The confession of the mouth must accurately express the belief of the heart.
 
To defeat Satan, we must speak forth the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). In our English translations, two different words are used for the “Word” of God. The most common is logos and it indicates the whole revealed Word of God (John 1:1). The other word is rhema . There is only one Word of God, but the emphasis of rhema is in its expression. We are to hide the whole Word ( logos ) in our hearts, and when Satan attacks, we stand against him by confessing God’s Word ( rhema ).
 
Confessing what we believe gives proof to our faith. Confession doesn’t create faith; faith makes possible true confession. Confession is agreeing with God. It is living in the light by letting our life and our mouth demonstrate what we believe in our heart.
 
Prayer: Father, I desire that what my heart believes and what my mouth confesses today line up with the truth of Your Word.


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DEMONSTRATING WHAT WE BELIEVE


by Neil Anderson

 

July 18
 
James 2:17 
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself
 
Faith is an action word. We cannot passively respond to God. You may have heard the story of the circus performer who strung a wire over a river and proceeded to ride across it on a unicycle. When he returned, everyone applauded. Then he asked, “Who believes I can do that with a man on my shoulders?” Everyone responded in affirmation. He said, “All right, who will hop on?” The person who hops on is the person who really believes. Faith is not just giving credence to something or someone. Faith is demonstrated reliance upon something or someone.
 
Faith has the same operating dynamic as agape love. When we refer to love as a noun, we’re talking about character: patience, kindness, etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). When we say that God is love, we are describing His character. Paul says the goal of our instruction is love (1 Timothy 1:5); therefore, the goal of Christian education is character transformation.
 
When love is used as a verb, it is expressed by action: “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” (John 3:16). If we say we love someone and do nothing on their behalf, it’s only sentimentality and not agape love. True love is expressed by meeting the needs of others.
 
Faith has a similar dynamic. When using faith as a noun, we’re talking about what we believe. But if we’re talking about faith as a verb, then it is expressed in the way we live. James says it like this: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:17-19).
 
The devil believes in the existence of Jesus and knows that God’s Word is true. But he doesn’t seek to glorify Jesus or to obey Him. He seeks his own glory, being a rebel at heart (Romans 1:25).
 
We demonstrate what we believe by how we live our lives. If we believe it, we will do it. If we don’t, then what we believe is just wishful thinking.
 
Prayer: Lord, help me put feet to my faith every day and not rely on past accomplishments.


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SUCCESS COMES IN CANS, PART II


by Neil Anderson

July 17

Romans 1:17 
The righteous man shall live by faith
 
Believing that you can succeed at Christian growth and maturity takes no more effort than believing you cannot succeed. So why not believe that you can walk in faith and in the Spirit; that you can resist the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil; and that you can grow to maturity as a Christian. Allow the “Twenty Cans of Success” you began yesterday to encourage you.
 
Twenty Cans of Success (continued) Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that there is liberty where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17)? Why should I feel condemned when the Bible says I am not condemned because I am in Christ (Romans 8:1)? Why should I feel alone when Jesus said He is with me always and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)? Why should I feel accursed or that I am the victim of bad luck when the Bible says that Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law that I might receive His Spirit (Galatians 3:13, 14)? Why should I be discontented when I, like Paul, can learn to be content in all my circumstances (Philippians 4:11)? Why should I feel worthless when Christ became sin on my behalf that I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)? Why should I have a persecution complex knowing that nobody can be against me when God is for me (Romans 8:31)? Why should I be confused when God is the author of peace and He gives me knowledge through his indwelling Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:33; 2:12)? Why should I feel like a failure when I am a conqueror in all things through Christ (Romans 8:37)? Why should I let the pressures of life bother me when I can take courage knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and its tribulations (John 16:33)?
 
Prayer: I rejoice in Your eternal promises, Lord. You are a Rock that never crumbles.


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Two Sisters

Expectations. What we project on others; expecting them to behave, say, do as we think they ought to; which results in us being disappointed, upset, offended and angry when they do not behave as we want them to.

So often, we think that other people should be like us. We assume that they have the same perceptions and way of thinking that we do and become frustrated when it becomes apparent that they do not think like us. I was thinking of Martha and Mary in the infamous Luke 10:38-42 story. Jesus and everyone in His entourage descends on Martha’s house and this throws Martha into a frenzy of preparing food to be hospitable for everyone who walked through her door. I can understand Martha at that moment. I would probably do the same, except that maybe, I now have the option of ordering pizza. But, if Jesus walked through my doorway, I would worry if the house was all clean for Him, if my floors had been mopped or if they are sticky. And, I would definitely rope my husband into helping me make everything acceptable for Jesus.

So, I can understand Martha’s frustration with Mary. Of all the times to go and do nothing, this was not it! The injustice of having to do everything and not being given help to do it. I wonder if Martha was upset at Jesus for showing up and expecting her to do everything without help especially since He was encouraging Mary to sit and do nothing. Perhaps that was why Martha directed her question at Jesus, to ask Him to say something to get Mary up and moving. I can only surmise. But, Jesus did the opposite and instead, basically told Martha to do the same thing as Mary. Be still and know that He is God. 

Martha had been projecting her expectations on Mary, thinking that she should respond to Jesus’ arrival in the same manner as Martha did. She wanted Mary to do what she thought was the correct thing; doing based on her own ability and capacity. Martha probably figured that she had to do it all if it was going to get done at all and if she was not doing it, who would feed Jesus and His entourage? She had forgotten that Jesus is more than capable and able to make miracles happen. Martha was relying on her own ability and expected that Mary do the same thing, rather than to lean on and draw from Jesus’ strength and ability to get things accomplished. Which was why she was frustrated and flustered.

She had also forgotten that Jesus did not ask her nor expect her to do what she was doing.

Jesus, being the Son of God, was more than capable of feeding them all if He had to and by doing things in her own manner and by her own ability, Martha might have forfeited herself from being part of a miracle Jesus could have and might have performed right there in her house. She had thought that it was expected of her to do as she was doing, perhaps because society and good manners dictated it; but not only that, she had expected her sister to be like her and to behave in the same manner.

So often, we act like Martha, doing things because we thought we should as Christians because of others’ expectations, and then we think that others should do the same as us (I am not referring to sin here, or being disobedient to the Word of God) and when it does not happen in the way we expected, we get frustrated and upset. Or become self righteous. Instead, we need to find out what the better way is and do that, lean on Jesus and rely on His abilities rather than our own and rest in Him to know that He is God and more than able to accomplish that which He said He would do in our lives. Let us not get all riled up, frustrated, offended and upset because we have chosen to do things in our own abilities or based on other’s expectations and are now expecting others to do the same when they have chosen to go a better way.

Like Mary, let’s sit at His feet constantly, waiting for His direction, and His timing instead of working ourselves up in a frenzy and possibly missing out on a miracle that He would have done had we just waited on Him.