During the weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday there are many who seek to make changes in keeping with the new life that is promised to all who believe in the crucified and resurrected Christ. But too often any experience of change is short-lived, and this leads to frustration and a loss of hope.
Is it possible for lasting change to take place for those who desire to grow in character? It certainly is. But for lasting change to occur, we must experience an inward transformation. Temporary, external change may result from a focused exertion of will power, but change that endures must come from a renewal of the inner life.
The foundation of this renewal is union with Christ Himself.
The Bible tells us that those who have faith in Christ are partakers of His death and resurrection. This means that they have been crucified with Him, and also raised up with Him (Rom.6:4,5). As a consequence, believers are to live as dead to themselves, but alive to Christ.
Do you understand what this is saying? If you are a believer in Christ, you must regard your old self as dead, with your new self being that of Christ living in you. This reality is the basis from which all Christian spiritual formation proceeds. Read more…
One of the consequences of our difficult economic times is that many marriages are experiencing greater stress. This stress can lead to a whole new set of consequences, ranging from coldness of heart and harsh words to divorce and even crimes against one’s spouse.
As any couple faces economic hardship, they need to be conscious of the threat that this hardship poses, and take appropriate measures to protect the marriage.
What measures can a couple take to ensure such protection?
The first thing is to recognize that if economic stress seems to be leading to marriage problems, the economic situation has not really created the problems, but has only revealed problems that the marriage already had.
Economic stress does not automatically lead to marriage difficulties. There are many couples who experience financial hardship, and the marriage actually grows stronger. So, if the stress of finances appears to be bringing more arguments, it’s good to recognize that this stress is only revealing issues that already existed, and now would be a good time to address them.
Another measure that can be taken is to focus together on the problems at hand, rather than focusing on each other as the problem. When financial difficulties arise, it’s common for a husband or wife to blame his or her spouse for the situation. Indeed, a husband, wife, or both may be responsible for the financial woes they face, but the solution to these woes is not to blame one another, but to get about solving the problems at hand.
This means a husband and wife should sit down together and peacefully work out a plan that will improve the situation that they face. Such a process will involve taking an honest look at specifics, and deciding what changes must be made — and who will be responsible for them. When such a plan is drawn up, it is of great benefit, because clear action always brings hope that a problem can be overcome.
As a couple deals with its financial problems, both the husband and wife will likely face particular temptations. Read more…
The Bible repeatedly exhorts all who hear it not to fear. One of the best examples of this is when Jesus addressed an anxious crowd and told all who were there, “Do not fear. . .” (Mt.10:28,31).
The Bible’s emphasis on resisting fear exists as it does because to live in fear is so contrary to God’s design for us. God designed us to live with total confidence in His loving care and provision. The devil, conversely, wants us to live in fear.
The devil seeks to bring this state about by first causing us to fear that we are somehow missing something in life by following God’s way. Then, after listening to his lie – by going our own way – he constantly reminds us of our guilt, and assaults us with fears of God’s judgment.
Once fear begins to take hold, it has a tyrannizing effect. Fear makes you want to hide, and it immobilizes you from productive work. Fear causes you to be preoccupied with yourself, and leads you to abandon your love for others and pursue sin instead. Fear creates confusion, bringing weakness that causes you to flee rather than stand firm and serve God.
When fear becomes predominate in a culture, these consequences are only multiplied. Widespread fear leads people to isolate themselves from one another, and seek their own interests without care of the effects on other people. When fear strikes a population as a whole, that population falls for quick fixes, rather than pursue the principled change that brings lasting good.
Acting out of fear, though, only leads to wrongdoing, which brings greater misery.
Because fear can so easily overtake us, and has such dire consequences, we need to know how to escape its grip. How is it that such an escape can take place?
The Bible tells us that it is “perfect love that drives out fear” (1 Jn.4:18). God alone possesses this perfect love, and He has shown it by sending His own Son to die for those who believe Him (Rom.5:8).
This means that by the love of God, Jesus Christ came to deliver us from our slavery to fear. He did so by giving His own life so that we would be restored to God, and be able to live by trusting Him.
Having been released from our fear, we are able to live as God calls us. We are free to love and serve others because we are secure in Him. We are strengthened to do what is right because we know that God is able to deliver those who stand with Him.
As God delivers us from prevailing fears, it does not mean we will not face troubles or be tempted to fear again. But in such occasions we must look beyond the storm to see Jesus, to be reminded of His love and remain confident in His provision.
To live in fear is to believe the devil more than God. But God is greater than our fears through the love given in Jesus Christ. Fear not.