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A COMPASSIONATE COUNSELOR

By Neil Anderson

 Neil Anderson

February 27
 
Matthew 9:13 
But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice”
 
I used to ask my seminary students two questions: What attributes, strengths and characteristics would you look for in a person with whom you could share your deepest personal problems? Would you be willing to commit yourself to become that kind of person–someone others could confide in?
 
The essential prerequisite for a Christian counselor is to become the kind of person with whom others feel confident in sharing the problems of their present and past. Christian counseling doesn’t require a college degree, although those who counsel professionally can be greatly helped by receiving Bible-based training. Whether you sit on the platform or in the pew, whether you sit at a desk in a counseling clinic or at a dining room table, God can use you to minister to people with problems if you are compassionate.
 
You can’t really help a person unless you hear his whole story, and you won’t hear it unless you are the kind of person he can trust. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Compassion is not a question of learning a professional technique; it’s a question of Christian character and love.
 
Counseling seeks to help people deal with the present by resolving conflicts from the past. Many of these conflicts relate to areas of bondage where Satan-induced strongholds have been erected in the mind. People cannot grow and mature because they are not free. The goal of Christian counseling–whether done by a pastor, a professional counselor, or a friend–is to help people experience freedom in Christ so they can move on to maturity and fruitfulness in their walk with Him.
 
Prayer: Lord, increase my compassion so I can be an effective counselor of others. Keep me from jumping to self-righteous conclusions.


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HE’S ALWAYS THERE

By Neil Anderson

 Neil Anderson

February 20
 
Matthew 28:20 
I am with you always, even to the end of the age
 
In the early 1980s I counseled a Christian young woman who was languishing in deep spiritual, mental and emotional torment. She wrote:
 
Dear God,
 
Where are You? How can You watch and not help me? I hurt so bad, and You don’t even care. If You cared You’d make it stop or let me die. I love You, but You seem so far away. I can’t hear You or feel You or see You, but I’m supposed to believe You’re here. Lord, I feel them and hear them. They are here. I know You’re real, God, but they are more real to me right now. Please make someone believe me, Lord. Why won’t You make it stop? Please, Lord, please! If You love me You’ll let me die.
 
A Lost Sheep
 
Many Christians I deal with are filled with such confusion that their daily walk with Christ is unfulfilling and unproductive. When they try to pray, they begin thinking about a million things they should be doing. When they sit down to read the Bible, they can’t concentrate. When they have an opportunity to serve the Lord in some way, they are brought up short by discouraging thoughts of self-doubt.
 
Having found freedom, “The Lord Sheep” penned a response to her own prayer based on her new understanding of God’s provision in Christ.
 
My Dear Lost Sheep,
 
You ask Me where I am. My child, I am with you and I always will be. You are weak, but in Me you are strong. I am so close that I feel everything you feel. Be crucified with Me and I will live in you, and you shall live with Me. I will direct you in paths of righteousness. My child, I love you and I will never forsake you, for you are truly Mine.
 
Love, God
 
Prayer: Loving Shepherd, thank You for tending me and feeding me daily, showing me that I am precious to You.


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AN EVERLASTING LOVE

By Neil Anderson

 Neil Anderson

February 14
 
Jeremiah 31:3 
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness
 
One night I came home from work and my wife Joanne met me at the door. “You better go talk to Karl,” she said solemnly. “I think Karl threw his hamster, Johnny, this afternoon.”
 
I went to Karl and asked him point blank, “Did you throw Johnny this afternoon?” He denied it firmly. Unfortunately for poor Karl, there was an eyewitness that afternoon. Again I confronted Karl, this time with one of those oversized plastic whiffle bats which make a lot of noise on a child’s behind without inflicting too much damage. “Karl, tell me the truth. Did you throw Johnny?”
 
“No.” Whack! No matter how much I threatened, Karl wouldn’t confess. I was frustrated. Finally I gave up.
 
A couple of days later Joanne met me at the door again. “You better go talk to Karl. Johnny died.”
 
I found Karl in the backyard mourning over his little hamster. Karl and I talked about death and dying, then we buried Johnny. “Karl, I think you need to pray now,” I said.
 
“No, Dad. You pray.”
 
“Karl, Johnny was your hamster. I think you need to pray.”
 
Finally he agreed. This was his prayer: “Dear Jesus, help me not to throw my new hamster.” What I couldn’t coax out of him with a plastic bat, God worked out in his heart.
 
Why did Karl lie to me? He thought if he admitted to throwing his pet, I wouldn’t love him. He was willing to lie in order to hold onto my love and respect which he feared he would lose if he admitted his misbehavior. I reached down and wrapped my arms around my little son. “Karl, I may not approve of everything you do, but I’m always going to love you.”


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THE GREAT ETERNAL CONSTANT

By Neil Anderson

banner_secondary_who i am in christ

December 27

1 John 3:1  
See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God

Have you ever felt that God is ready to give up on you because, instead of walking confidently in faith, you sometimes stumble and fall? Do you ever fear that there is a limit to God’s tolerance of your failure and that you are walking dangerously near that outer barrier or have already crossed it? I have met a lot of Christians like that. They think that God is upset with them, that He is ready to dump them, or that He has already given up on them because their daily performance is less than perfect.

It’s true that the walk of faith can sometimes be interrupted by moments of personal unbelief or rebellion, or even satanic deception. It’s during those moments when we think that God has surely lost His patience with us and is ready to give up on us. The temptation is to give up, stop walking by faith altogether, slump dejectedly by the side of the road, and wonder, “What’s the use?” We feel defeated, God’s work for us is suspended, and Satan is elated.

The primary truth you need to know about God in order for your faith to remain strong is that His love and acceptance is unconditional. When your walk of faith is strong, God loves you. When your walk of faith is weak, God loves you. When you’re strong one moment and weak the next, strong one day and weak the next, God loves you. God’s love for you is the great eternal constant in the midst of all the inconsistencies of your daily walk.

God wants us to do good, of course. The apostle John wrote: “I write this to you so that you will not sin” (1 John 2:1 NIV). But John continued by reminding us that God has already made provision for our failure so His love continues constant in spite of what we do: “But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (verses 1, 2 NIV).

Prayer: Lord, give me grace to correct my character defects and to help meet the needs of others.


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One Woman’s Amazing and Selfless Christmas Gift After Her Death

Vine Of Life News

Brenda's Love

A woman who died more than two years ago has given her family an incredible post-humous Christmas gift.

Brenda Schmitz, wife and mother of four, passed away in September 2011 after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 46.

A month before she died, Schmitz wrote a letter addressed to a Des Moines, Iowa, radio station and instructed a friend to wait to mail it until her husband, David, had fallen in love again.

The station, Star 102.5, invited David, who recently got engaged, into the studio last week to share the letter with him.

“When you are in receipt of this letter, I will have already lost my battle to ovarian cancer,” Brenda wrote in the letter. “I am writing this letter to be sent to you by a dear friend who has instructions to do so when it was the time. I had to type this because I can hardly type anymore because of my shakiness. I told her once my loving husband David had moved on in his life and had met someone to share his life with again, to mail this letter to all of you at the station.”

“As I was thinking about my last months on earth,” she continued, “I told David my wishes after I was gone that I believed he’d follow through with the attitude and courage I know he possesses, what a great husband and father he is. I know all of this is extremely hard on him. He is the one making the best decisions from here on out for my family and ultimately finding a caring and compassionate woman in time to help raise the boys. She must be quite a lady.”

Every year, the radio station solicits Christmas wish letters from listeners, picks the best and, with the help of sponsors, grants them.

Brenda’s first wish for “David’s new lifelong partner” was “a day, or better yet, a week of pampering, in all aspects of her life. …  She deserves it.”

“Thank you,” she added. “I love you, whoever you are.”

Brenda also asked for a “magical trip” for the family of 8, and a “night out full of drinks, food and fun” for her cancer doctors at Mercy Medical Hospital.

Local businesses chipped in to help the station grant all of Brenda’s wishes, including the trip — a four-day vacation in Disney World.

“In more than 20 years of granting Christmas wishes, we’ve never received a wish quite like the one we received from Brenda Schmitz,” the station wrote on its website.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when we got [the letter],” station manager Scott Allen told the Des Moines Register.

“It’s not surprising,” David said of his wife’s posthumous surprise. “The last year and a half she’s shown so many signs that she’s [here].”

SOURCE: Yahoo News


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Believe in God’s Goodness Towards You

God is Good All the Time Pic[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!Psalms 27:13 (Amplified)

Often, I hear people say that whatever they are ‘going through’ is the will of God and I beg to differ. David, in the verse above, tells us that it was his believing in God’s goodness that kept him going in tough times. How could we have faith in God’s goodness if it is His will that we suffer? The things we often go through or experience, in my opinion, is not the Will of God but it is due to the sin that is in this world. Not your sin necessarily, but sin in general.

For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived mePsalms 51:5 (New Living Translation)

David, in his pleading with God, puts it plainly. He understood where the problem rested…in sin. To say that God made you sick to teach you something, or He made you poor to keep you humble, is to go against everything the Word teaches. If this was true, then why attempt to get delivered…it is difficult to get delivered from anything we presume God is the source of. In fact, it is wrong to expect God to take something away that He gave you! Please understand this; God is not the one who blesses and curses…God is not double-minded, for He says: A double minded man is unstable in all his ways…James 1:8.

Remember,Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). God gave us His Son to bring us into right standing with Him (righteousness), His Word to transform us into His image, and His Spirit to keep us and guide us into His Truth. With all this, how could also be the source of every ill and discomfort we face? The answer is: He is not, because God is good! This is why we absolutely must exercise faith in His Goodness and His willingness to bless us and bring goodness into our lives.

God was in Christ. He was working through Christ to bring the whole world back to Himself. God no longer held men’s sins against them.2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLV)

Many will tell you that God is punishing us for this or that; when you hear that…RUN! Jesus took the curse as a final sacrifice and penalty for our sin. Thereby, allowing everyone who receives Him by faith to become righteous. In other words, because of Jesus, God has adopted us and gave us His righteousness! That excites me to no end. God is so good and loves us so much that He did not leave it to chance but settled it all forever. We just need to receive His gift of righteousness by faith and start a daily walk with Him…having faith in His goodness.

30 As He said these things, many believed in Him [trusted, relied on, and adhered to Him].

31 So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.

32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.John 8:30-32 (Amplified)

Have Faith1st
 

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Do We Truly Accept Or Do We Only Want To Receive?

Many people “receive” God’s love without wanting to accept it with all that it entails. They want God’s blessings without having to be responsible on their part. It is the same as a woman receiving an engagement ring from a man and thanking him for the pretty ring and then going out on a date with someone else the very next day. To accept an engagement ring is to agree to all that it entails and to decide to be responsible to keep our part of the bargain. In this case, we would say covenant. To accept God’s love is to agree to all that it entails which means that in response to His immense love for us and His wanting the best for us (Jeremiah 29:11), we cannot help but love Him back. With all our hearts, minds and souls (Matthew 22:37). That means a decision to trust  and obey (submit to, surrender to) God in all these areas of our lives: our minds which denotes our logical and intellectual human thinking; our hearts which represents our emotions; and our souls which represent our own strengths and desires.

To love God is to obey His principles (John 14:15, 21). To obey is to submit to, to surrender to; which means that we must surrender all of ourselves to the Lord. This might sound daunting to some as they do not know that they can trust God to direct their lives. What if God does something bad with it? This is when we need to realize how much God loves us. No good parent wants horrible things for his/her child. We need to realize that God wants the best for us. (Jeremiah 29:11). We need to realize that He is good (Psalm 31:19). And because He is good and wants the best for us, we can trust Him with all areas of our lives. We can surrender ourselves over to Him in obedience to His principles. Because He is good.

The first commandment to love our God is not one built on fear or a threat. It is the heart’s cry of an all powerful God who loves us so much that He longs for those who accept His love to also reciprocate in kind. To not only receive His love but to accept it with all that it entails in every area of their lives because He wants to protect them and help them realize the future and purpose that He has for them; and to love Him back because He loved us first. How can we not love someone back if we know how much they love us? God decided to love us; He made a commitment to love us. I am sure, in my opinion, that it is not a butterfly in the stomach lovey type of feeling that God feels in His love towards us because we as the human race are not very lovable. All we need to do is look at our selfishness throughout history. Yet, He chose to love us. Commiting to us through a covenant He chose to make with us.

People who do not understand the depth of His love will keep rejecting Him; by way of insisting on doing things their own way and using excuses to justify it. Unfortunately, they will never come into the fulness of their calling and purpose in the Lord if they constantly insist on doing things their own way and will not submit themselves to His principles. In fact, if they keep insisting on rejecting God’s love, they will end up on the path of destruction in one way or another, in one area of their life or another because the bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

“Trust the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge (submit to; obey) Him and He will make STRAIGHT your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6