Are You Bi-Polar?

Two days back, i started soon from my office and I was walking towards the main gate to catch the bus. I felt like God insisting me that I would be getting a bus in five minutes, but in my thought, I was thinking, “Where would the bus come at this time? Let me wait for 5 minutes and book a cab to my house”. I didn’t trust the inner voice and had my own execution plan. But, as insisted, I got my bus in 5 minutes while waiting. Similarly, sometimes, we act ‘bipolar’ when it comes to our faith. While I was reading Matthew Chapter 16, I was stuck with this verse for a long time. Christ asks His disciples in verse 15 that,

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

I was thinking, If Christ would be asking the same question to me today, what would I answer? The answer to this question reveals our spiritual condition and eternal destiny. Christ didn’t ask this question to raise identity crisis or curiosity as to what would other people think about Him. Instead, His question forced the disciples to have to grapple with their own beliefs concerning Him.

“Faith that is untested is no faith at all.” Some would have head knowledge but that is not going to help them spiritually. When it comes to responding such a question as Peter did in verse 16,

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

We will come to know that our faith is well-founded in Christ.  Jesus’ affirmation to his response was favorable for Peter which we can see in the verse 17,

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

But, did Peter really understand who Jesus was? This salty-tongued, former sailor, after the interaction was reproved by Christ that Peter was thinking, talking and acting like devil himself from verses 21-23,

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Even Peter forsook Jesus three times as predicted by Jesus. I am not sure what would I have done if I was in Peter’s shoes. Sometimes, our faith is bi-polar.

We also can see Elijah, who called down fire from heaven and disposed 850 false prophets and praying for rain, was running from a wicked woman.  Like Elijah, one minute we’re calling down fire from Heaven and the next minute sitting down under a juniper tree, feeling all alone and wishing we were dead (I Kings 18:1-19:4). He was sitting under the Juniper tree wishing he were dead.  Unbelievable right! When I was reading about Elijah in the Bible, I was so hard on him – how can he behave like this? Where did his faith go? But, don’t be so hard on him – we often are just like him.

One minute we’re so close to Heaven that we could almost reach out and touch God; the next minute we’re down-in-the-dumps, mournfully singing “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” And remember, if we are not careful, we will act the same way. This is how our faith remains sometimes – bi-polar. We often live by sight and not faith –we try to attempt things which can be done only from our strength and forget that in our weakness He is our strength. Hence, we are afraid to sign on the dotted line of a blank sheet of paper and leave the blanks up to God to fill in. We are afraid what He might put there.

Sometimes, we like Peter and Elijah, might be on the top of spirituality and fall the next second when we are asked to follow Him, without knowing where we need to go.

But, it need not be that way, IF we’ll remember to “cast down our imaginations and anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God by bringing every thought into obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).  Or, another way to say it is “Refusing to dwell on suspicions and speculations by making sure nothing blots out God’s Face from view as I lasso every wayward thought and bring it under Jesus’ Lordship.”

Ups-and-downs.  Highs and lows.  Delights and despair – Such is so often our rollercoaster ride of faith.  That’s why we must daily spend time alone with the Savior, “renewing our minds” (Rom. 12:2) by “studying to show ourselves approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15) as we “hide His Word in our hearts” (Ps. 119:11).  Help us, O Lord.

Can you say ‘God is good’ as Asaph did in Psalm 73:1, even though you’re about ready to cave into the pressure?  Never forget the three most important words in the Bible are “God loves you” (John 3:16), “God is faithful” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Always rest in His sufficient grace and unchanging nature. Then, even in the midst of tears (and fears), we can say as Job said in Job13:15,

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
    I will surely defend my ways to his face.”

God bless you. Continue to trust and sustain on Him!!

This message is published by an IT professional who works for an MNC in Madurai, India.

Kairos – Seize your opportunity

   

“But when the time had fully come God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Galatians 4:4

 

 

If you have ever organized or coordinated a nativity play you know what I am talking about. I worked as a Sunday school teacher for nearly 4 years and we used to put nativity play every year with small kids. I am telling you it’s not one of the easiest job in the world. It is very frustrating at times because we cannot have all the kids playing their part in correct timing. When its “Joseph’s” turn to enter the stage he will be crying and sitting in mamas lap. When its shepherds’ scene, two shepherds will be fighting and one would have gone for a “wee” break. The wise men will be arguing over their gifts. And you will lose your energy shouting “Joseph… its your turn now”, “Shepherds… its your turn”…

But look at Anna in the bible:

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Underline the words “coming up to them at that very moment”. One translation put it this way: “She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God.”

It’s almost like God is orchestrating a grand nativity scene here. Timing is everything. Anna had to be present in the right place at the right time to do her part. God planned his characters for the birth of his Son in a grand way. Anna and Simeon’s role are very crucial in the birth of Jesus.

Deuteronomy 19:15 says “By the mouth of two or three the matter shall be established”.

Once Jesus said to the Pharisees “In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

Therefore, the testimonies of two or three are very important to confirm the birth of Messiah. And Simeon and Anna were chosen as the two witnesses. Anna had to be there in the temple when Mary and Joseph were there. She had to be there when Simeon was there.

The bible says “Coming up to them at that very moment…while Simeon was talking..”, Anna entered the grand stage of God’s nativity and played her part.

Isn’t that great? She was in tune with God and she fulfilled her role in an impeccable way. She was not in a huff with God. She didn’t wake up in the wrong side of the bed. She didn’t frustrate God by her tantrums. She was not late to church that day. She didn’t take her phone and informed her pastor “I am not feeling great today, I am feeling depressed because nothing interesting is happening in my life. So I won’t be coming to the temple”. If she had done that she would have missed playing her part in God’s nativity!

TIMING IS EVERYTHING IN GOD’S KINGDOM! Christmas is all about God’s timing.

Galatians 4:4 says

“But when the time had fully come God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

In the Greek language there were two words for time: one is “Kronos” from which we get chronology and other is “Kairos” which means “opportune time” – you seize an opportunity that comes your way.

Kairos – You seize an opportunity that comes your way.

Anna must not have had a clue that she was part of this grand play. She had a bad past as her husband died when she was very young. But she didn’t get stuck to her painful past. She could have easily blamed God and lived in bitterness. She could have played a pity party all her life. She had reasons to get depressed. But she moved forward to be part of this God’s grand nativity play. Imagine if Anna had not moved forward from that past she would have been mourning and complaining to God. She would have been at home depressed. She would have been thinking over the death of her husband again and again and asked God “WHY”? And probably when Simeon was in temple Anna would have missed her part in God’s nativity play!

Anna moved forward to be present at the right time to see God’s miracle!!! You need to be in the right place and at the right time to see God’s miracle. For that, you need to be in tune with God. For that you need to move forward.

Jesus arrived late to the home of Mary and Martha and by that time Lazarus was already in the tomb. Mary struggled to move forward and she lived in the “past”. She didn’t even realize that Jesus has arrived and is in the “present”. She said “If you had been here this tragedy would not have happened”.

How many of you are crying to God like this? How many of you are struggling to move forward like Mary? But Jesus replied, “If you believe you will see the glory of God.” Jesus must have reminded Mary that He is the God of NOW and FUTURE and we should not dwell in the PAST.

You might have had a bad past like Anna. May be a bad marriage, a divorce. May be a bad experience in workplace. May be a loss of loved one. But God is saying “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. I am doing something new in your present. Can’t you see it?”

Therefore be faithful to God even in tough times like Anna. Anna was praying, worshipping God even amidst tough times. Just play your part daily and do it cheerfully. Be in tune with God. Trust God’s timing and be part of God’s timing. Stop regretting your past and move forward to be part of Gods timing. Just like Anna one day you will see God’s miracle at the right time.

Kairos!!!  Seize an opportunity that comes your way…

This message is written by Bro. Davidson Samuel who is an IT Professional /  Subject Matter Expert in Banking domain, based out of Scotland, UK.

 

 

The Grasshopper Syndrome

One of the great challenges in our life is to see things in God’s perspective and stop seeing it from our view. Each one of us has that challenge to visualize our life in line with God. And our decisions depends on how we focus on it and many times the decisions are crossroads. We need to get hold of our decisions seriously as we cannot reverse what we have taken.

Let us look into the story of Israelites. They were brought out of the land of Egypt by God and they witnessed how God has been miraculously leading them to the Promise Land. And when they finally arrived at the border of the land, they faced a big challenge blocking their way into the Promised Land. What was that? We will learn from the story of the Israelites and how are we facing the same today!

Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Geul, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Suthur, Nahbi….. Have you ever heard these names before? Does it sound familiar to you? No! Have you heard of Joshua and Caleb? Now you might relate to the people I am referring to. Those were the names of the ten spies who got into the Canaan to spy the land. They came back with the negative report scaring the Children of Israel and influencing them to disobey God’s instruction to enter into Canaan and possess the land. Only Joshua and Caleb came up with the positive report. God has already given the land of Canaan to the children of Israel. God has promised them and the only thing the people of Israel has to do is, go into the land and possess it. They have to just claim the land which was already provided by the Lord.

Read Numbers 13:27 – 28:

Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified andvery large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.

The ten spies first acknowledged that what God was about to give us is indeed a land of milk and honey. And their report followed a ‘but’ clause. But we cannot claim it as the people living in it were giants…

In verse 33, the spies say, “we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” God knows already that these people living in Canaan were giants. He didn’t ask for the report. The problem is, they focussed on themselves instead of focussing on the promises of God. They have seen the plagues in Egypt. They have seen the Lord bringing them out of Egypt. They have seen the Lord parting the red sea for them. They have seen God providing them food in the desert. But still…

And we too sometimes, fall into the same category. We have seen God leading us miraculously in our life. But nevertheless, when we face a problem we get discouraged seeing the giants before us and forgetting the God who is greater than others.  We sometimes get the ‘Grasshopper syndrome’ and we stop from proceeding further. Have you ever been felt this way? Are there areas of your life where you have not yet lived by faith because you fear what seems difficult or impossible by your own abilities or resources?

In this incident, there were two persons who gave a positive report as they had faith in God.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

Caleb and Joshua focussed on the words of God and had a desire to obey it and their confidence was in doing the God’s will. (Numbers 14:8-9)

There were two reports from the 12 spies and sadly, the Israelites murmured against God heeding their ear to the 10 spies who gave a pessimistic report.

This is what the grasshopper syndrome does. Many times, I have failed to carry out the task given by the God only because of the fear to face the challenge. When God gives us a task to do, He has already prepared us for that task. But, unfortunately, we behave like the Israelites seeing the giants before us.

Now, these are the symptoms of the ‘Grasshopper Syndrome’:

1. Doubted heart:

In spite of the God’s promised words to the Israelites, they always had a doubt in their heart always looking the positive as negative. They had witnessed God’s doing in their physical eyes. They have been overshadowed by the cloud by day and warmed by the pillar of fire at night. Besides seeing these things, they have a doubted heart. When things do not come out the way we hoped for, we start doubting and we lose our trust in God.

Hebrews 3:12(NIV)

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

2. Double minded:

If you have noticed the Grasshoppers, they keep on hopping from one place to place rather than sitting in one place. And the same does our mind. It keeps wandering from place to place without being steady. Hence, it is easier for the devil to attack our mind if it is not kept steady. When this syndrome affects us, we just can’t focus on the promises of God. Though we see the things that God has done in our life, the next minute, fear fills our mind thinking about our future and the failures in the past. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was filled with happiness as God has promised us with so many things about her. At times, I would be happy and suddenly, a fear would fill my mind thinking about the stillborn child in the previous pregnancy. That’s how the devil plays with our mind trying to make us believe that, God’s promised would fail which is a total lie. The Grasshopper syndrome causes us to doubt God’s word and His faithfulness. Instead of acting like children of the king, we live as if we were paupers unable to fulfill God’s will. We lack faith, are double minded and unaware of who we really are in Christ.

James 1:6-8

but let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let, not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

3. Inferiority Complex:

See what the ten spies said. They reported that “we look like grasshoppers”. And that’s what the Satan does. He tries to convince us that we are unworthy and make us believe that he is stronger than us. I remember the day when I started writing for God. The first thing that Satan tried to implant in my mind was, “my writings are not good and I am unfit to write”. If I have heard those voices in my mind, I would have stopped writing and penning it down what God wants me to. This syndrome will always make us feel inferior to others and try to destroy our self-image in God.

So, what should we do if we are affected by this syndrome?

First thing is we need to heed our ears to the positive reports from God as Joshua and Caleb did. Remember that they are the only two people from their generation to enter into the promise land.

The second thing is we need to remember that the battle starts from our mind. The areas of our thoughts are the main battleground. That’s why Paul asks us to renew our mind in God (Romans 12:2)

Thirdly, remember that God has already provided us the weapons to win on the battlefield. We need to just use our weapons to fight against the enemy instead of looking them as giants and staying out of the Promised Land. So, what are these weapons? It is none other than the Word of God. Paul says about the armor of God in Ephesians. We are instructed to ‘Take the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.’ (Ephesians 6:17)

We know the outcome of the disobedience of Israel. Instead of entering into the Promised Land, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. In our life as well, when we are reluctant and fail to battle the giants we face, we end up in wandering in the spiritual wilderness. The Israelites, by running away from the giants, didn’t escape from them. Once the generation of disobedience died, they came and stood at the same point to face the same giants to enter into the Promised Land. So friends, instead of running away from the giants we are facing, stay strong and face them and they are not greater than the One who is living in us. Yes, we cannot win the battle alone. But when the Captain of our ship is our God, we are on the victory side.

Friends, I don’t know what giants you are facing in your life today. It might be fear, depression, discouragement, loneliness, bitterness, weakness, health issues, and financial problems. Whatever it is, remember, it is not bigger than our God. He is Greater than everything. When you are on God’s side, you can determine who the grasshopper is!  Only thing is “The CHOICE is YOURS”. It is time for us to stand up and confront the giants and win the battle. God bless!

(This article was written by Carol Yasin and is reposted here with permission)

5 Things That Cause Discouragement & 5 Steps To Overcome It

Have you ever been discouraged while doing the work of God? Have someone criticized you and that made you to discontinue the task that was presented to you? Have you been frustrated and feel like giving up the work?

Discouragement is the biggest tool that our enemy uses to defeat us. That makes us feel that we are unworthy, hopeless and it steals the joy of our heart. If it is not knocked down, it will unfold and it will bring all it’s other friends doubt, depression, loneliness, anger…. In the Bible, even the strong men had faced discouragement from time to time. Elijah was discouraged when Jezebel sent him a death warning. Though he was strong enough to face the Baal prophets, a fear in his heart discouraged him and he started complaining to God. The consequence of discouragement might be sometimes bigger. The discouragement of 10 among the 12 spies, when spying Canaan, resulted in God forbidding them to enter Cannan except Joshua and Caleb.

I have been in various places and groups, where I have been criticized and was discouraged even by my loved ones. When I feel like giving up, somehow, God reminds me, “Are you working for them or for ME?”. God has given me courage to overcome this discouragement and I wanted to share the message in today’s reading the reasons for discouragement and how can we overcome it?

In today’s reading we will read from Nehemiah, how the people of Judah were discouraged while building the wall (God’s work) and how Nehemiah, as a leader helped them to take down this discouragement.

After the exile, the Jews were permitted to return to their city during the period of King Cyrus and they were allowed to rebuild the wall. God set up leaders like Nehemiah to lead them. But, at times, these people were often discouraged while doing the work of God!

Let us discuss about some of the factors that cause discouragement from Chapter 4.

  1. Disappointment from people

Nehemiah 4: 1 – 3

“But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”

Critique from other people, is the first that comes in.  Sometimes, there will be a group of people, only to mock us when we do our job. Here, in the above verse, we see Sanballat and Tobiah, mocking the Jews and criticizing them with their speech.

Dear friends, have you been mocked by someone? Do not hear their words. Remember, not all the advices are from God and not all the criticism are equal. There are people who tell us our mistake to correct us, but there are people who just wanted to mock us for what we are doing. We are the sons and daughters of the King of kings and satan just brings these kind of words precisely to make us feel that we are unworthy. When people criticize about what we are doing, we might feel like giving up and hide ourselves from them. When I started writing for God, there were many who criticized me about my writings.  When I wrote my first poem, some of my friends in my closed circle teased me saying, “Even a person who doesn’t know to write will write better than you”. Some commented, “Even the dog’s bark conveys a better rhyming than your language”. Tears rolled by when I heard such comments, and even I felt like I shouldn’t write any longer. But, God sent me a friend to boost me. If it is God, who has called you for that purpose, and when you hear people mocking you, remember that, satan is getting afraid of your entry and he doesn’t want you to go on with your work and that is the reason.

Criticism is a tool of discouragement that sometimes penetrates deep into your soul. Forget it and forgive.

  1. Tired and Worn out:

Nehemiah 4: 10

Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

The people of Judah were in a half way in construction (Nehemiah 4:6). It occurs always that in our halfway point discouragement sets in. When we progress to the midway, negative thoughts begin in our mind and the things which seemed to be possible for us will be impossible. Discouragement comes at the point of no return, where we cannot start over or we cannot relinquish. Tiredness also comes in half way.

When I was into my first project, I was over excited, that I started overworking for hours. But when time went by, I felt a sudden fatigue in my soul and I started feeling like I lost my energy and I couldn’t proceed further.  Sometimes, when we are at the commencement of the work, we give our 100% and when time runs by, it gets decreased proportional to our tiredness.

Weariness is the next tool of discouragement which our enemy uses against us. The people of Judah also, started complaining to Nehemiah when they began losing their strength.

  1. Trash/Rubble:

Nehemiah 4:10

……. there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.” (NLT)

People started complaining to Nehemiah that, there were rubble(waste or rough fragments of stone, brick, concrete, etc., especially as the debris from the demolition of buildings) all around. Hence, we are not able to build the wall.

We all have rubble in our life. We have family rubble, financial rubble, work rubble.  These all factors discourage us. We start thinking self-centered than being God-centered such that, we focus on those rubbles the most than God who can work out with our rubbles. Yes, when we set about working something new, we can see that the thrash getting stacked up in a row. When it is not handled properly and periodically, it blocks up our ongoing process. Do you have rubble in your life? What is that unwanted thing in the trash, which you haven’t cleared? It will forbid you from accomplishing what God has called you to do by wasting your time.

  1. Fear of people/Focus on people:

Nehemiah 4: 10-11

Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.”  The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!”

The next thing, which brings discouragement to us is when we focus more on people than  on God.  Here, the people started concentrating on their adversaries than on God.

We start taking heed to our adversaries than talking to God. It says that, the jews warned them again and again. In the NKJV, it says “Then the Jews who LIVED NEAR THEM came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”  The one who was afraid are the people surrounded by the negative voice. When we are surrounded by negative people, then whatever step we take will result in discouragement and that makes our things look larger when compared to God. They were more afraid of the people than doing the work of God. They began counting their trouble more, than casting their burdens upon God.

Besides, sometimes, we may expect praise from people, which, when doesn’t happen, that leaves us discouraged. At the beginning of my writing process, I was sharing with my friends, whatever I wrote and when I didn’t get the praises from them, I felt so discouraged. But one day, I received this question in my mind, “Am I writing for the praises of these people or for God to say at the end, “Well done, good and faithful servant”

  1. Loss of confidence:

When all the factors, which we got a line above takes its place, the final one is losing our confidence level and quitting. In Nehemiah 4:10, they said they won’t be able to do for what they are called. When we lose our confidence, we start saying, “Lord, I cannot move further”, “It is enough”, “I will fail if I continue”, I will not succeed”, “I cannot finish it”…. These words will start haunting your mind, and it will cause us to discontinue from our work.

Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you start focusing on God and start travelling again?

Now we’ve examined some of the factors that cause discouragement in us through the life of people in Nehemiah. Nehemiah, being their leader, made them to come out of discouragement and rebuild their wall.  Now, let us focus on the lessons from Nehemiah, how he handled the situation.

Steps to Overcome discouragement:
  1. Call on God

When discouraged, we need to focus on God and pray to Him.

Nehemiah 4:9

Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

Throughout Nehemiah, we can realize that, Nehemiah cried out to God whenever trouble came than sitting and being discouraged. Prayers has the power of breaking everything and make us renewed. Prayer brings victory. Prayer is the best antidote for discouragement.

  1. Take a rest and reorganize:

Nehemiah 4:13

Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

The next step to come out of discouragement is to have a break. Rest for some time. Step out from where you are and make yourself free from everything in your mind.

The first step Nehemiah did was, he reorganized the people. We can see the people being discouraged by negative thoughts and negative talking by the people around. So, Nehemiah placed them guard by their households.  When you are discouraged, run to the fellowship or family. Draw nearer to them. Get yourself plugged with the family of God.

  1. Think about God than our problems:

Nehemiah 4:14

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome,…..”

Remember that God is with you always, when you are in trouble.  We need to focus on God who is bigger than our problems. The Jews were concerned about their problems around. They didn’t have time to think about God. And, that is the way we think. When we are discouraged, we examine it as big mountain and hid ourselves from seeing God.

Get your eyes off your fears, and with all your strength, with all your mind and with all your soul, remember God and trust in Him. He is powerful, majestic and awesome. Read the Word of God every day. Spending time in reflections and meditations of the word of God will facilitate us so the God can illuminate our hearts and minds about his purposes and plans for our lives.

Corrie Ten Boom, who suffered in a Nazi camp, explained how to overcome discouragement:

 “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest!”

  1. Be strong and Fight

In verse 14, Nehemiah says the next step to overcome discouragement.

“Fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

We cannot let the discouragement take over without fighting it. We cannot choose what we are undergoing but we can choose how we can respond to that. Satan will do whatever that stops us from doing the task. Simply remember, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”. Don’t allow the giant take you off the purpose of God. Be an overcomer and fight against it. You are a child of God, you are an heir of the kingdom, you have been made complete in Christ – Reject discouragement for what it is, a desperate attempt from a false messenger to steal from you the joy in Christ.

  1. Return to work

The final step to overcome discouragement is to return back to work.

Nehemiah 4:15

 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work

I have a list of tasks undone because of discouragement. That is not how it should be, though. After we take a rest, reorganize, fight and start concentrating on God, we should return back to our work. That will be the defeat of our adversary.

Discouragement is the greatest weapon of our enemy to lose our track from our purpose. Everyone in this world, at some period, faces discouragement. But, what counts most is how are we, the children of God are handling it. Are we suppressed by depression or are we overcoming it? When discouragement knocks you down, remember how David faced Goliath, the giant who laughed at him. When discouragement drags you down, when it makes you unproductive, remember God. Remember His promises. God promises to renew our strength and even take away our discouragements if we will just wait and reflect on God.⁠⁠⁠⁠

God Bless!

This article is written by Carol Yasin and was first published in RootedInHisWord.com

 

How To Handle Money – A Biblical Perspective

Prosperity, Wealth, Riches, Money… 

The most contemplative question among Christian believers is: Prosperity or Wealth or riches, is it a blessing or a curse?

The answer should be obvious, it’s not a curse. Wealth can be a blessing or curse based on our attitude towards in accumulating it. Making money as security is not the right motive. There are plenty of wrong motive in saving money. If you are accumulating wealth, out of fear of the future, it shows you are not really trusting God to provide (Prov 3:5-6; Luke 12:24; Psalm 34:10; John 14:1, 27; II Tim 1:7).

Prosperity and abundance are the divine natures of God (Deu 28:1-14). God created Adam and placed him in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17). God had provided every blessing for his life. However, God reserved the tree of knowledge for Himself. It was a free will for the man to either respect His command or to violate it. Man disobeyed God’s command and brought curse upon the earth. Poverty or lack is the result of curse (Deu 28:15-17). A born again child of God, should no longer live under the curse of poverty. Over and over, through the scriptures, God has revealed to His people that it is His will to prosper His children and His blessings makes his children rich (Gen 39:3,23; Deu 8:6-18; Deu 29:9; Deu 30:8-10; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 35:27; Psalm 84:11; Prov 10:22; Ecc 5:19; 3John 2;).

God sent His beloved son Jesus Christ to redeem us from the curse of the Law so that the blessings of Abraham might come upon us (Gal 3:13-14). Jesus Christ preached good news to the poor and delivered those who were in captive and oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). It is very true that Jesus Christ spoke against covetousness and the desire for wealth for the purpose of hoarding it, but He never said that the believers should avoid material possessions and seek poverty. He taught to seek the Kingdom of God first and God will meet the needs in abundance in due time (Matt 6:31-34). Always remember, Jesus Christ became poor, so that through His poverty, you might become rich (II Corin 8:9) and the Lord your God has given you the power to make wealth and He delights in your prosperity.

Believers in Christ should keep themselves from being polluted by the world, share their resources and be a blessing to others (James 1:27). A poverty stricken believer cannot meet his own needs and extends his hand to support the preaching of gospel, needs of spiritual leaders and the church. God doesn’t take pleasure on seeing His children grovelling and worried about how to pay the bills, barely managing to get by, and feeding from hand to mouth or just to manage living their whole life. God is willing to give you good things and meet all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Matt 7:11; Phil 4:19). Remember, you are not serving a God of poverty but a God of abundance. The abundant life promised by God isn’t for just a few; it is for every believer in Christ. Prosperity, riches, abundance, and money are blessings, but come with responsibility of giving and the purpose of expanding the Kingdom of God. You should develop heart of gratitude. You are stewards in the kingdom of God to manage the resources given by God and be a blessing to others.

There are financial principles found in the Bible that educate you in conducting financial affairs. If you are obedient to God’s Word, practice those principles and honour His word, you will live in a land of abundance, lend to many nations, and no longer be under debts.

  1. God is my source and He Owns it all

Always remember that God is your source of everything you need. He owns it all. You are just a steward! Everything you have owned, represent His gifts entrusted to you. So, you don’t need to worry about the future. God has plans for you and they are for good and not for disaster (Jere 29:11). He has prepared good things for those who love him (I Corin 2:9).

(Deu 10:14; I Sam 2:8; I Chron 29:11-12; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 33: 18-19; Psalm 50:10,12; Prov 8:20,21; Haggai 2:8; I Corin 10:26; II Corin 9:8; Heb 2:10-18)

  1. Tithing

“Tithe” means a tenth or 10 percent. Tithing was first recorded in the book of Genesis. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High and the King of Salem (Gen 14: 18-20). Jacob promised to give a tenth of his possessions to God (Gen 28:22). The law of tithing was explained in details in Mosaic covenant. It was a reminder to Israel that God provided the harvest and this first part was returned to him to show their thankfulness to God for His provision. God declares that the tithe is holy unto the Lord. The ultimate purpose of tithing was to teach God’s children to put God first in their life, acknowledge His blessings in their land and to learn to fear the Lord (Lev 27:30-33; Num 18:21-24; Deut 14: 22-29).

The New Testament is a fulfillment of the covenant made to Abraham. We are called the children of Abraham and have received the blessings of Abraham (Gal 3:7,13,14). It is very true that you are no longer under the old law, but under grace (Rom 6:41). Jesus said the greatest commandment in the law is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and great commandment and the second is: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27-28). You are not called to nullify the law on the contrary, you establish the law by the love of Christ (Rom 3: 21-31). Love is the fulfilment of the law and doesn’t demand its own way (Rom 13:10; I Corin 13:4-8).

Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees were very careful about tithing and neglected the more important aspects of the law: justice, mercy. He then said that they should in fact tithe, but shouldn’t neglect the more important things (Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42). Jesus also emphasized to give back to God the things that are God’s (Mark 12:17). What you do with your money shows where your heart is (Matt 6:21). Paying tithe is giving a portion of blessings that belonged to God almighty, who owns everything, out of your love towards Him. It shows that your heart isn’t tied to money and you love God more than your money. Holding back or not paying tithe of all sources of blessings signify robbing God. It is foolishness to meddle around with tithe (Mal 3:8). Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce (Prov 3:9-10). Personally I do believe, by giving to God out of love and thanksgiving, will help you to escape the curse that is already in the world.

(Deu 26:12-13;Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42; Heb 7:1-2 & 5-9)

  1. Offering/Giving

The principle of offering differs from tithing. Offerings are given out of your free will apart from tithing. Offering determines the measure by which you receive God’s blessing as you are giving out of faith that belongs to you (Luke 6:38). When you remember and give generously to the poor, you are lending to God. By giving freely, you grow riches as God will repay for your deeds and remembers you when Jesus comes back in His glory (Prov 11:24; Prov 19:17; Prov 28:27; Matt 25: 34-40). Every believer should be generous and willing to share according to their ability. God loves a cheerful giver so give expectantly and cheerfully (I Tim 6:18; II Corin 9:6-13). The motive of giving and doing charitable deed is very important. Lord Jesus warned not to do charitable deeds for the sake of being admired by men (Matt 6:1-4). Develop right attitude and motive in giving offerings and gifts so that you receive reward from your Father in heaven. (Deu 16:16-17; Acts 20:35; I Corin 16:1-2; II Corin 8:12-15)

  1. Seek Godly counsel and trust God

Seeking God’s counsel in handling financial affairs is the most important aspect in financial management. God is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isa 9:6, Isa 28:29). Treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus (Colo 2:3; Psalm 139: 1-2). So, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Go boldly to the throne of grace in time of need, ask God to give you wisdom to know the right course of action (Pro 3:5-6; Heb 4:15-16; James 1:5). God knows the way that you should take as He is watching all your paths (Job 23:10; Psalm 142:3; Prov 5:21)

Believers who figure out things on their own and violate the principles of God, often get into financial difficulty. A child of God should be prudent who heeds counsel and considers his way (Prov 12:15; Prov 13:6; Prov 14:8,12). God may speak to you in one way or in another: in a dream, in a vision of the night, through His word, in still voice, or through His children (Gen 8:15; I kings 19:11-13; Isa 38:4; John 10:27; II Tim 3:16-17; I Thess 2:13; Heb 1:1-2). Learn to be sensitive to recognise God’s voice. If you fear the Lord, meditate on Scriptures, make yourself available to God by spending quality time through prayer and learn to be still in His presence, you will be able to access His wisdom and hear His voice. If you have not developed the habit of hearing God’s voice, take help from two or three godly financial advisors who apply biblical principles in their financial affairs and have good testimonies (Prov 11:14; Prov 15:22; Prov 24:6; Psalm 119:24). After obtaining the counsel, it is your responsibility to pray to God to give you His wisdom to move forward. Always remember, God’s plans are for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). (Psalm 32:8; Psalm 119:105; Prov 8:17-21; Prov 16:3; Prov 19:20; Jer 32:19; Jer 33:3)

  1. Keep Records, Budget and plan

Budget helps you to plan, organise and control your financial resources. It helps you to decide the amount of money that can be spent and how it will be spent apart from tithe and offering. Keep an eye on your values and priorities. Plan your expenditure based on your net income after deductions.

Needs are the basic necessities of your life; wants are the choices about the quality of goods and desires are the goods we dream about having but they are not essential to your survival and well-being. Identify your needs, wants and desire before every purchase. Be aware of your financial conditions before stepping into any financial transaction for riches are not forever (Prov 27:23, 24). Good planning leads to prosperity (Prov 21:5). Pray and seek God’s wisdom in managing your finances without wasting your possessions (Luke 16:1). Build your house through the wisdom and understanding of God (Prov 24:3). Submit your spending decisions to the Lord through prayer as only the counsel of Lord will stand (Prov 19:21).

  1. Saving and investment plan

God owns everything and he provides the needs of His children. Saving money exhibits good stewardship of the resources given by God. It helps us to keep something aside for a rainy day (Prov 6:6-11; Prov 30:24,25). Every believer must prayerfully find the right way of saving the resources given by God. Squandering your money doesn’t honour God. God expects you to be faithful with the small things given to you (Matt 25:23). A wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets (Prov 21:20). Spend less than you earn (Eccl 5:11). Develop a right attitude in saving money and don’t make money as your security (Eccl 5:10). Discipline of saving avoids debts. Save atleast 5% of your income (Gen 41:34, 36). Gather little by little and make it grow by trusting God as your provider (Prov 13:11).

Saving and investment plans should be based on God’s priorities. A prudent man foresees the evil and takes precautions (Prov 22:3; Prov 27:12). Divide your wealth into several portions and don’t risk it all in one place (Prov 31:16; Eccl 11:2). As your savings grow, make sure that your diversification grows in proportion to it. Diversification reduces the risk involved in investment. Consider your grandchildren and leaves an inheritance to them also (Prov 13:22).

God is your provider and don’t be anxious of saving or boast about tomorrow but do the right thing, you ought to do (James 4:13-17). Always seek guidance from God and implement a biblically based saving or investment strategy that reflects God’s specific will for your life. Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice (Prov 16:8)

  1. Keep out of Debts

Bible offers many warnings of getting into debts. Debts impose both financial and physical costs. It increases stress and brings negative impact on relationships. God wants you to be obedient to His commandments and also to make wise choices in your life. The minute you go into debts; you lose a portion of your freedom and become servant to the lender (Prov 22:7). This includes money owed to bank loans, credit card companies, relatives, friends or due bills. Seek guidance from God to keep out of debts and owe nothing to anyone (Rom 13:8). It is a sin to borrow and not repay (Psalm 37:21). God’s desire is that all His children are free of debts and they should lend to nations and give generously. Ungodly attitude such as envy, greed or selfishness or lack of contentment drives people to spend more than the income that God has entrusted them. Keep yourself free from the love of money and be content with what you have.

If you are already under the bondage of debts, get out of it by following these steps: pray and seek God’s counsel; establish a budget; list everything you owe; make a debt repayment plan; control the use of credit cards; be content with what you have; have commitment and work hard; don’t give up your faith in God. Remember, God has promised to meet your needs, but not necessarily your wants and desires.

  1. Contentment

Contentment is an approach to live under God’s will, regardless of the circumstances. God wants you to be free from the bondage to debts and greed. So, learn to be content with your financial conditions. Keep your life free from the love of money. Let your needs be made known to God through prayer and do not be anxious about your needs. God will never leave you, nor forsake you (Heb 13:5, 6; Phil 4:6-7). Love of money is the root cause of all evil and causes you to be unsatisfied with your income (Eccl 5:10; I Tim 6:10).

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked (Psalm 37:16). A believer should live a life of godliness with contentment and it brings great gain in their life (I Tim 6:6; Titus 2:12). Ask God for His grace and wisdom to live a life with what you have.

  1. Honesty, Integrity and paying taxes

God is pleased with hard work and integrity. He expects you to do the best using the gifts, skills and talents given to you. Bible doesn’t encourage wealth from ‘Get-rich-quick-schemes’. Wealth gained dishonestly quickly disappears and brings grief to the whole family. Hence, you should gather wealth from hard work and surely it grows over time (Prov 15:27; Prov 13:11). Don’t try to attain wealth by evil means. God despises lying lips and delights in those who act truly (Prov 12:22). Your efforts in getting of treasures or wealth by lying tongue are wasting time and even unto destruction (Prov 21:6).

Bible also encourages every believer to pay taxes. You are expected to be submissive to the authorities and government. Pay all the taxes imposed by the government. Jesus and His disciples paid tax to Roman government. Authorities are ordained by God and whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has ordained and incurs judgement (Roman 13:1-7; Matt 17:24-27; Matt 22:21).

Hence, the mandate of every believer in Christ is to reflect Christlikeness to the world. As a child of God, you should pay taxes, hate dishonest gain, not to show partiality and accept bribe (Deu 10:17; Exo 18:21; Exo 23:8; Prov 10:2; Prov 11:1; Pro 15:27; Prov 17:23; Prov 21:14; Ezek 13:19; Ezek 22:12,13). If you want to have a breakthrough in your finances, get the counsel from God and be willing to put in some hard work. Diligent work helps you to earn more money.

  1. Never Co-sign for strangers

Bible cautions you in terms of surety or co-signing and shaking hands with others. Co-signing relates to debts. Anytime you co-sign, you become legally responsible for the debt of another. You should understand that the lender is unwilling to lend money to the person requesting the loan so, he asks for co-signer. Bible says whoever guarantee to pay somebody else’s loan will suffer (Prov 11:15). Whenever a stranger asks you to co-sign, you can say ‘co-signing’ is not your principle. If your family members or trusted people ask for co-signing: you should discern their needs for taking loan, commit the situation to God through prayer and follows Lord’s leading. Help them as per God’s guidance by giving them money or co-sign provided that you will be able to pay if ever become necessary. Don’t deviate from God’s leading (Prov 6:1-5; Prov 17:18; Prov 20:16; Prov 22:26-27).

Trust God for your blessing. God gives you power to attain wealth and everything in this world belongs to Him. Obey his voice diligently and observe all His commandments. God will make you the head and not the tail. He will open to you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and bless all the works of your hand. You shall lend to many nations but you shall not borrow. Remember, blessing of the Lord brings wealth and there shall be no sorrow or painful toil for it.

(This article is written by Evelin Suji, a teaching professional working in Bangalore)

 

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