The Spirituality of Work

By Don Whitney

Bill often wonders whether he is a second-class Christian because of the less-than-Christian atmosphere where he works. His occupation is good and necessary for society, but it’s also one in which liars, cheats and thieves seem to flourish. Vulgar and blasphemous language typically fills the air of Bill’s workplace.

For other believers, the problem at work is not a godless environment; it’s the gnawing lack of meaning to their labor. They trudge through tedious days on a job that often feels intolerably unimportant.

Can followers of Jesus work in these conditions and still maintain a close relationship with Him? Or is the Lord somewhat disappointed in them because of where they work or what they do?

God ordained work. Before sin entered the world, "the Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (Genesis 2:15). All kinds of work - paid and unpaid - are necessary in the world for us "to subdue it" according to God’s will (Genesis 1:28). People must grow food, care for children, make clothes, tend the sick, construct buildings and roads, transport goods, govern the cities and so forth.

Obviously, therefore, God intends for most people to devote themselves to what’s often called "secular" employment. Only a small percentage should be vocational pastors, church-planting missionaries and the like (even though more are needed). Otherwise, who'd work the fields, deliver the mail, build ships and cars, develop water systems, and make medicines?

Because God has ordained it, all work has a spiritual dimension. The Bible repeatedly commends useful, honest labor (see Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10), which shows God's intense interest in it. When we actively recognize His presence in our workplace, we acknowledge His sovereignty over all of life. And that’s basic to true spirituality.

Even if your daily responsibilities may seem dull and unimportant or cause you to associate with worldly, God-hating people, remember that "the Lord takes pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4). And He takes pleasure in us not just at church, but at work as well. He’s as attentive to us in our work routines as He was to Joseph in his service as Potiphar’s slave, to Jesus in the carpentry shop and to the Apostle Paul when he was making tents.

Work is not a hindrance to spirituality; it is a part of it. Even slaves were instructed by Paul not to fear that their awful condition in any way diminished their spiritual standing with God (see 1 Corinthians 7:22). Our spirituality depends upon who we are in Christ, not the circumstances of our workplace. God’s presence and favor are not limited by co-workers or job descriptions.

Enlarge your vision of your spiritual life to include your daily work. "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24). Present your work to God. You are working for Him.


Leave A Powerful Legacy

By Whitney Hopler

The following is a report on the practical applications of Jeff O'Leary's new book, Footprints in Time: Fulfilling God’s Destiny for Your Life, (Nelson Books, 2006).

Of the billions of people who have lived throughout history, many aren’t remembered. But some have lived such remarkable lives that time can’t erase their legacies. They were just ordinary people, yet they lived in extraordinary ways that inspired future generations. Such a legacy is within your own reach if you follow their examples of faith.

Here’s how you can leave a powerful legacy:

* Seek God. Make it your top priority in life to pursue God and grow closer to Him with each passing day.

* Find and follow your calling. Ask God to reveal what contributions He wants you to make to the world. Invite Him to use your life in powerful ways. Then obey His will and set out to fulfill His purposes for your life.

* Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Know that there’s much more to life than just making money to pay bills and putting together some harmonious relationships. Don’t just get by; choose to live with passion. Focus beyond the mundane to the eternal. Pursue eternal values so your life will have lasting significance. Learn what’s truly important and what’s not, and don’t waste time or energy on pursuits that don’t really matter.

* Defeat hopelessness with courage. When you encounter a situation that’s morally wrong, refuse to accept it and decide to do something about it. Be willing to place other people’s needs before your own. Consider the victory of your cause more important than even your own survival, and be willing to pay whatever cost you need to pay to right the wrong. Remember that death is not the end, but the beginning of a better life. Throw yourself into the fray rather than cowing before it. Do whatever is necessary to protect your honor.

* Act with the integrity of a clear conscience. Listen carefully to the quiet inner voice of the conscience God gave you -- and heed what it says. Realize that God often speaks to you through your conscience. Understand that integrity is formed one decision at a time. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you constantly as you make choices. Live to please God alone, regardless of what other people think of you. Recognize that your daily decisions will create habits, which in turn will create your future self. Make the kinds of decisions that will help you reflect Christ more and more. Expect to experience discord when your integrity makes others uncomfortable with their own choices. Be willing to endure friction and persecution so that you can inspire others when you stand strong, and ultimately cause them to examine their own lives. Keep a clear vision of the finish line of faith -- the moment you meet Christ in person at the end of your life -- and strive to live in a way you’ll be pleased with then. Whenever you make mistakes, pray for fresh forgiveness and the grace to keep growing.

* Focus your energy. Fight back against distractions that keep you from fulfilling your God-given destiny. Don’t let your dreams be crushed under the weight of your mundane responsibilities. Instead, develop a fierce and tenacious concentration on what God is calling you to do. Pray for the discipline you need to stay focused on your calling and devote yourself to it -- no matter what your circumstances -- so your energy doesn’t get dissipated. Don’t try to walk both God’s path and the world’s path; choose to stay on God’s path by giving Him your whole heart. Recognize that you can accomplish more than you can imagine when you focus your energy. Stretch yourself on a regular basis as you pursue your mission. Remember that if you’re diligent, God will ultimately bring about good results from your dedication, and you won’t be disappointed.

* Face failure with tenacity. Ask God to help you develop an indomitable spirit and an unbreakable will. Understand that dogged persistence will aid you greatly in the face of seemingly impossible problems or overwhelming odds. Don’t despair when you encounter misfortune; instead learn from the experience so you can become a stronger person. Remember that many people who came before you have survived and even thrived under enormous pressure. Overcome fear. Decide to act with courage, even when you don’t feel courageous, trusting that God will than build courage into you. Keep pressing ahead with confidence until you break through the barrier that has been stumping you. Pray persistently. Learn from your mistakes, and try again. Know that success will often come after many failures, and if you give up, you’ll never know how close you were to success. Never give up!

* Pursue wisdom with a passion. Recognize that great value in wisdom, and know that it’s worth pursuing, whatever the cost. Know that God is the source of all true wisdom. Pray daily for Him to give you a passion for learning, renew your mind, and help you discern all He would like you to understand. Be willing to work hard at whatever tasks God calls you to undertake, giving your very best and being alert for what God wants to teach you through your experiences. Know that you should never stop learning, no matter how old you become. Keep asking questions, listening, reading, and seeking out wisdom until you die. Spend more time on education than you do on entertainment. Strive to be contributor more than a consumer. Stay current and competitive in your field of work. Discuss current events and biblical issues with your family and friends on a regular basis, such as at mealtimes and in the car. Learn how to listen well to other people. Pass on your own wisdom to others, such as your kids.

* Dare to do the impossible. Honestly consider whether or not your dreams are too small -- and if they are, enlarge them. Ask God to reveal His big dreams for your life, and embrace them. Be bold about taking risks to make those dreams come true. Be willing to make sacrifices necessary to pursue God’s vision for your life. Remember that Christ is worth everything it costs you to follow Him to change the world.

* Take the long view. Ask God to give you His perspective on challenging situations in your life. Expect suffering in our fallen world, but look beyond that to see how suffering helps you become more mature and sensitive to Christ’s love and other people’s pain.

* Don’t squander time. Remember that every moment you live is a gift, and decide to use it as well as you possibly can.

* Beware of idols that can cause you to stumble. Regularly take inventory of your thoughts and behaviors to make sure you’re not devoting yourself to fame, beauty, power, wealth, or possessions more than you are to God. Keep your relationship with God your top priority. Forsake everything that threatens to take your attention away from Him.

* Say "no" to self and "yes" to Christ. Be willing to pick up your cross and follow Christ by giving Him full authority in every area of your life -- with no exceptions. If God allows challenges like economic deprivation, physical ailments, or persecution in your life, accept them and do all you can to learn from them. Trust God to provide all you need. Embrace the whole Gospel message, even when it makes you uncomfortable, and let it stretch you to become the person God intends you to be.

* Be faithful to the end. Realize that fulfilling God’s plans for your life may involve great personal costs. Don’t shrink back from what He asks you to do; trust Him. Don’t stop short of completing the work God has given you to do. Be willing to lay down your pride, reputation, possessions, and even your life so that God’s will can be accomplished through you. Hold onto your life with an open hand, ready to give whatever you need to give to serve God faithfully. Ask Him to help you commit your heart fully to Him. Remember that anything you might lose for His sake in this life means nothing compared to the treasure that awaits you when you meet Christ face to face.


God's Purpose in the Storm

By Charles Stanley


Violent storms have devastated our world in recent times. Tragic images of destruction flowed across your television screen and mine. As I watched the news reports with sadness and compassion, I was reminded of other storms -- the quieter storms that trouble people in their everyday lives. These trials may bring no rain or winds but the danger is just as great. What is God's purpose in personal storms?

This subject quickly brings to mind the familiar words of Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." These powerful words are misunderstood and misquoted when people claim that "everything works for good." It does not! Almighty God causes everything to work together for good, for those who love Him. Therefore it is very important how you and I respond to the circumstances we face.

What about you, my friend? How do you behave during the storms of life that have nothing to do with weather?

Key Passage: Romans 8:28-29

Supporting Scripture:
Psalm 119:67,71
Psalm 57:1
2 Corinthians 1:4
2 Corinthians 12:9

Scriptural Principles:

1 God commands our attention through cleansing. Six simple words help us understand God's purposes for the storms of life. The first is cleansing. God oftentimes sends the storms when you and I are not walking in His will. If you are rebelling against His plan for you, then you can count on the coming of some kind of storm. The psalmist wrote, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word" (Psalm 119:67). Four verses later, the psalmist added that the storm helped him to learn obedience. If some troubling crisis in your own life drives you to depend more upon Him, wouldn't you agree that the crisis turned out to be a good thing? We must understand that sometimes God sends the storm because He loves us. It is painful and we suffer, but the end result makes the suffering worth every tear we shed.

2 God wants us to walk intimately with Him in companionship. God blesses us so often and so graciously that His very blessings become distractions to us. It is easy to be so involved with our gifts that we forget the Giver. Sometimes when a storm comes God will use it to help us return to a loving relationship with Him. When you turn from Him, you will experience a "divine loneliness," an emptiness that will cause you to seek Him more intimately. If it takes a storm for you to recognize your need for God's companionship, He is willing to send it. David wrote, "In the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by" (Psalm 57:1). You and I may not like the dark clouds, but God loves us enough to bring us home through them. He longs for the intimate friendship that difficult times make possible.

3 God is reshaping us to the likeness of His Son by conformity. Romans 8:29 tells us that in using all things to work together, God's great goal is that we "become conformed to the image of His Son." Conformity explains His purpose for all of the storms in your life. We are poured into the mold of worldliness by the books we read, the television shows we watch, and the friendships we cultivate. God wants to mold us into the shape of His own Son. We are influenced most by the person upon whom we gaze most often. It could be a movie star or a sports hero. The human imagination is one of the most powerful aspects of our identity. If I want to resemble the Lord Jesus Christ, I will gaze upon Him. The storms help to shape us, and cause us to take our eyes away from the world and place them upon Him.

4 God wants to do something special with us through comfort. The Lord wants to use you every day of your life "so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:4). We will not have that comfort to give unless we have first received it ourselves. God's storms prepare us to support His other children when they are battered by storms of their own. When our hearts are broken, our hands become stronger through comforting others. He props open the doors of our hearts, and we become more sensitive and compassionate to those around us in difficult circumstances. Then we become living, caring tools in the hands of a loving God who wants to bless everyone who needs to be blessed. Remember, the deeper the valley and the darker the storm, the greater blessing we will become to others. Ours is an awesome God with awesome purposes for you and for me.

5 God helps us determine what we believe about Him through convictions. When the storms of life come, we discover exactly what kind of faith we have. It's not difficult to have conviction when the sun is shining, but what about when a crisis arrives? Storms reveal our doubts, but they also deepen our dependence. When we have no refuge in this world, trusting in Him teaches us how present, powerful, protective, and providing He is when we need Him the most. We emerge as changed people, more trusting and faithful when the next storm appears on life's horizon. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 how he learned, through terrible trials including beatings, stonings, and imprisonment, that God's grace was sufficient for Him in any crisis. The times of torment served not to diminish his faith but to make it stronger. Can you say that about the storms of your life?

6 God wants to rescue us from our own disobedience through change. How terrible a crisis will it take for God to get your attention? Look at the New Testament example of Paul. Did Paul turn to God when he witnessed the tragic stoning of Stephen, a loving and obedient Christian? No, for Paul persisted in attacking the church. It took blindness and helplessness during a journey to Damascus, when Paul finally saw Christ face to face. A terrible, humbling calamity was required for Paul to change into someone who could be useful to the Lord -- and how useful Paul became! The intensity of the storm and the depth of the valley is based on the intensity and depth of your rebellion against God. The deeper the hole you dig for yourself, the deeper He must reach to rescue and bless you.


My friend, I want to challenge you to hold these six words close to your heart in the coming days: cleansing, companionship, conformity, comfort, conviction, and change. It could be that a storm of some kind will appear in your life. How will you respond?

Could this storm have risen because you have strayed from God? Is there some sin that needs to be cleansed? Is your faith strong enough to walk with Him even in the midst of dark times?

You can be certain that whatever storm you may face, God has a purpose for it, and His purpose is loving and just. In the end, you will be able to say that because He is so good, the storm that He allows to happen is good as well.


The Gift of Giving

By Charles Stanley


You may have many talents, but if you are a Christian there is one gift that defines your life. Once you are saved your entire personality is driven by one of the seven motivational gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8. You will be most joyful and productive when you operate in the strength of your spiritual gift.

If your gift is giving, your life may resemble that of Matthew, the disciple and author of the lengthiest gospel. Although Matthew was a tax collector, he came to understand godly giving and he wrote more than any other gospel writer about the wise use of money and resources.

Key Passage: Romans 12:6-8

Scriptural Principles:

1. Those with the gift of giving are able to identify resources. These believers have the ability to see resources that others would overlook. Therefore they can make the wisest use of their money in giving for the Lord's work. Where others will feel they have nothing to give, the giver will always find some way to free up resources for a godly gift.

2. Those with the gift of giving desire to feel a part of God's work. Givers give of themselves, and they feel a rewarding sense of involvement in ministry through their giving. They are not interested in giving in an impersonal way; they must give from the heart, and therefore they need the personal assurance that their decision to give is one that comes from God.

3. Those with the gift of giving desire to give high quality. Where others might economize in their giving, believers with this gift want to offer the best they can make available. They want their gift to have lasting value, so they are often very careful about their selections and purchases. They give generously and wholeheartedly, and they insist that their gifts should always reflect the highest values.

4. Those with the gift of giving hope the gift is an answer to prayer. This is a gift that is practiced carefully. Givers are motivated to find and fill needs, and they will give to do so without being asked. It is their deep pleasure to know that the Spirit of God has led them to minister through giving to fill a need.

5. Those with the gift of giving desire to give secretly. When was the last time you gave an anonymous gift? Those with the gift of giving are not concerned about receiving credit or gratitude. They want only to know that they have clearly heard God's voice, been obedient to Him, and given just the thing that best served His kingdom.

6. Those with the gift of giving prefer to give without pressured appeals. Actually, most of us don't like being pressured to give. Believers with the gift of giving wait upon God for giving decisions rather than responding to pressure from people. They realize that if God wants something done, He will impress our hearts with the burden to do it.

7. Those with the gift of giving are concerned that giving may corrupt. These believers know that money is neither good nor bad; it is a tool for godly use. Yet money can corrupt through the way it is used by people. Givers want to be certain that their gifts will be used in the way that most glorifies God, and never in a way that would dishonor Him.

8. Those with the gift of giving exercise personal thriftiness. Debt is a destructive force among God's children. Thriftiness is a discipline that allows us to create an abundance in our resources. Then we have a wonderful freedom to give generously to God's purposes. Believers with this gift are creatively economical with their resources in order to serve God better.

9. Those with the gift of giving give to motivate others to give. One of the most exciting results of our giving is our ability to positively influence others. Givers are thrilled when they find the opportunity to motivate other believers to share their joy. They frequently use their personal testimonies of giving, trusting God to use them for the encouragement of others.

10. Those with the gift of giving see financial needs that others overlook. Gifted givers can quickly recognize unused resources and make them available to serve God's purposes. They might sell personal items such as property or jewelry, for example, to create more finances for giving. They never make these decisions spontaneously, but seek confirmation through prayer and godly advice.

11. Those with the gift of giving confirm amounts with godly counsel. Believers with this gift are always generous but never impulsive. They respect the potential for God to use their resources, so they seek wise counsel for deciding upon the amount for a significant gift. They are particularly careful about their financial legacy to ensure that it provides for the continued work of God.

12. What are some misunderstandings of the gift of giving? Givers pay attention to finances, so they may be misjudged as materialistic. They make sure their gifts are used properly, so they may seem to be trying to control the work or the worker. As they encourage others to give, they may seem overbearing, though their own lack of response to pressure may seem like a lack of generosity. Givers are frugal, which could be misinterpreted as stinginess or insensitivity to their friends' desires.

13. What are the results of walking in the flesh for those with this gift? Godly givers are grateful people, but in the carnal life this trait becomes ingratitude. The punctual giver becomes known for tardiness, and tolerance becomes prejudice. Thriftiness gives way to extravagance, resourcefulness vanishes, and wastefulness takes it place. The contentment of giving becomes a covetous discontent. These believers are cautious when living in the Spirit, but rash when walking in the flesh.


Would you like for God to bless you financially, so that you can experience the many blessings of giving? The first principle to learn is that of discipline. In the coming week, I challenge you to ask God whether each potential purchase is wise or unwise. You will be surprised at the money you will save in one week as God guides your use of resources.

You will also be surprised by how much joy you feel as you find yourself giving more and more to purposes that have eternal value. God will multiply your resources. He will honor your giving heart. He will free you from the tyranny of financial debt. Trust Him in this, and you will discover that giving is among the greatest of gifts.


The Gift of Mercy

By Charles Stanley


Understanding your spiritual gift is key to living with joy and fulfillment. God created you in a unique way. Your gift defines the very purpose He gave you for living, not only in the church but in every area of your life. If you possess the gift of mercy, for example, you will be the most content and effective when you are serving others through this gift.

Romans 12:6-8 describes these motivational gifts, and tells us that we must exercise our gifts in the context of His purpose for us. The gift of mercy is absolutely essential among the people of God and should be used with cheerfulness.

Key Passage: Romans 12:6-8

Scriptural Principles:

1. The merciful feel the emotional atmosphere around an individual or group. The most obvious characteristic of the believer with this gift is an ability to sense joy or distress in others. Merciful people do not live by their own emotions, but they are especially sensitive to the feelings of others.

2. The merciful are drawn to those who are in mental or emotional distress. Spiritual gifts are always focused on service. Christians with the gift of mercy, therefore, are constantly attracted to people experiencing emotional distress, and often make friends with those in need.

3. The merciful seek to remove pain rather than find its benefits. Even when someone suffers as a result of his own disobedience, the gift of mercy concerns itself with soothing the sinner's pain. Those with the gift of prophecy or exhortation would focus on God's discipline or His other greater purposes. For this reason, the gift of mercy could actually interfere with God's work in some situations. The merciful should always exercise spiritual discernment.

4. The merciful are more concerned with mental distress than physical distress. Merciful believers are emotionally driven. They enjoy ministering to people in physical pain, but they respond especially to those who are in emotional or spiritual pain. These believers vicariously experience the feelings that others bear. This allows them to help others more effectively.

5. The merciful are sensitive to words and actions which could be hurtful. Merciful believers react negatively to critical statements about others, even when they are true. They take offense to hurtful words about someone else and may offer positive statements to offset the negative ones.

6. The merciful tend to react harshly when intimate friends are rejected. While merciful people are loving, kind, and gentle, they are also loyal and devoted. They rally to the defense of their close friends who feel rejection. They realize that rejection is one of the most painful emotions we can feel, so they are quick to come to a friend's defense.

7. The merciful sense genuine love, and are more vulnerable to unloving spirits. Believers with the gift of mercy can be easily hurt due to their deep sensitivity. Because the merciful are so sensitive, they may open themselves more readily to love despite the possibility of rejection.

8. The merciful need deep friendships with mutual commitment. Genuine commitment is always important to believers with the gift of mercy. They are willing to give themselves fully to their spouses, friends, or family members in loving devotion. When others fail to return the same level of devotion, the merciful will be deeply hurt.

9. The merciful measure acceptance by closeness and quality time together. Gifts, recognition, and other tokens might bring great satisfaction to other believers, but those with the gift of mercy value the sharing of time and togetherness. They yearn to be physically close to others, and they need plenty of quality time together. This is particularly true in marriage.

10. The merciful connect with those who are sensitive to others. These believers love being with others who share their special gift. They experience a special oneness with those who are attuned to the issues of love, acceptance, and the emotions of life.

11. The merciful tend to avoid firmness until they see the benefits involved. Parents with the gift of mercy may struggle to be firm with their children, because they hate for their children to be disappointed. In every area of life, however, there is a need to be firm at times.

12. The merciful often harden their spirits toward those who are insensitive. Just as those with this gift find joy with like-minded believers, they are appalled by people who lack love, gentleness, and compassion. Insensitivity is very difficult for them to understand and accept.

13. What are some common misunderstandings of those with this gift? A lack of firmness can seem weak and indecisive to others. Sensitivity to feelings can seem like an over dependence on emotion rather than reason. As the merciful gravitate toward emotional needs, they can be dangerously misunderstood by those of the opposite sex. When these believers react to hurtful words about others, they may appear to be taking the opposing side. Finally, a merciful believer who shuns insincere people seem unapproachable.

14. What are the results of walking in the flesh for those with this gift? As they live in the Spirit, the merciful are the most attentive of believers. Otherwise, they develop a lack of concern. Likewise they are sensitive as they serve Christ, but callous when they live in a worldly way. Their Spirit-led sense of fairness becomes an unjust partiality, while the natural compassion of the merciful can turn to indifference that isn't merciful at all in the flesh. Gentleness becomes harshness; deference becomes rudeness; meekness becomes anger.


I know you will agree that this world needs all the merciful, godly men and women it can get. Could it be that you have this gift? If so, these principles will help you understand why you think and act the way you do. If you have some other gift, these principles will help you love and support those with the wonderful gift of mercy.

Either way, the truth is that every single one of us needs the presence of mercy in our lives. We need to love, and we need to experience the warmth of love. Almighty God loves you and me more than we could ever imagine. The greatest gift of mercy came to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.


Living Godly in an Ungodly Age

By Charles Stanley


What do we mean when we talk about a "godly life"? The godly man or woman lives a life guided by the Holy Spirit. This person has a passion for God, seeks an intimate relationship with Him, and is always growing wiser and more mature.The godly person makes decisions based on biblical principles rather than personal preferences, and serves God faithfully.

How many people around you would be described in that way? How close are those words to a definition of your own life? Do you speak, dress, and relate to others in a way that conforms to that definition? In Titus 1:5-16, God’s Word shows us how to live a godly life in a world that grows darker with each passing day.

Key Passage: Titus 1:5-16
Supporting Scripture: Isaiah 40:8

Scriptural Principles:

1. We live in a world that opposes almighty God. Paul wrote to Titus with instructions about how to pastor a church in Crete.As we read about the conditions there, we are reminded of our own world. "For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers, deceivers" there (Titus 1:10). We notice several characteristics of an ungodly world. First, it is secular. For many of its people, there is no place for God in daily life. Second, we live in a materialistic world. The greatest driving force around us is the greed for money.Third, we live in a sensual world, filled with the uncontrolled pursuit of pleasure. Finally, this is an anti-Christian world in which some groups try to remove every reminder of God.

2. We live a godly life by clinging to the Word of God. How can you and I live a godly life in a world that is opposed to our Lord and Savior? Paul writes that a believer can do so by "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9). The Bible is the mind of God on the printed page; the story of His work in our world, and our guide for every day of life.

3. The power of God’s Word leads us to salvation. What happens when we hold fast to the faithful Word of God? First, it leads us to salvation. No other book can point us in the direction of forgiveness for our sins, rescue us from our own rebellion against God’s righteousness, and nourish our souls.The power of God flows through His Word, offering you the free gift of salvation.

4. The power of God’s Word guides our steps. This wonderful book, the awesome and eternal Word of the living God, gives us practical help for every day of life, and practical wisdom for every decision that we may face. We can come to the Word of God to seek answers, and He will give us those answers. Every problem of life has its solution in these pages.

5. The power of God’s Word lifts our burdens. David came to God’s Word when he felt deep sorrow, and the Word brought him joy. In the same way, there is no depression or despair so deep that we cannot find comfort in the healing words that are in God’s book. Whether we read the psalms of David or the writings of Paul, all of it is inspired by the Spirit of God.

6. The power of God’s Word brings us peace and joy. When we are troubled, our friends give us advice. But nothing they can tell us offers peace, unless they give us the Word of God and His promise never to leave or forsake us. What else but the Bible can bring you such joy? Whatever our circumstances may be,we can feel contentment when we cling to the Word of God.

7. The power of God’s Word keeps us from sin. Every moment that we read the Scriptures, we are being cleansed. His Word cleanses us from wrong thinking. It cleanses us from lust, anger, resentment, and doubt. Why? Because the Word of God reminds us that those emotions do not describe who we have become in Christ.

8. The power of God’s Word brings us physical health. Not only do the Scriptures clean the mind; they provide health for the body. Sinful emotions have a negative impact on our health, but the wholesome peace and joy of the Bible clears those negative emotions away and helps us to be strong and vigorous.

9. The power of God’s Word brings us back to God. When we get off track in life, it is His Word that can reach and restore us. Hearing the Word of God convicts us of our sin, leads us to repentance, and guides us in restoring the joy of our salvation.

10. The power of God’s Word exposes false doctrine. Many lies and error-filled teachings surround us. They are in the media, in the advice of our friends, and everywhere else. Held up to God’s eternal Word, these errors are exposed for the destructive lies they are.

11. How can we cling to the Word of God? Therefore, as Paul exhorts us, we must hold fast to the Word of God. We must read it carefully, meditate upon it daily, and study it seriously. Then we must believe it wholeheartedly and apply it personally. If we do all these things, we will be transformed by His Word. He will give us just the verse we need when we need it.

12. What are the consequences if we fail to cling to God’s Word? When we begin to think the way the world thinks, the world wins our affections. We begin to compromise our convictions as we find that worldly values dominate our conversation and redirect our focus from God. The world influences our dress and it steals God’s tithe. It alters our schedule and it feeds the mind with sensual thoughts leading to immoral actions. Finally, the world ruins our testimony and renders us useless to God’s kingdom.


These are dangerous times for the mind and soul, but we have the living Word of God to sustain us. It is our handbook for every moment of life. The Word is our assurance of salvation. It pulls us through our earthly trials with confidence.

As the prophet Isaiah wrote, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). If we cling to it faithfully, we will also stand.We will experience joy, hope, and peace. May we stand as a testimony to the living Word!


Integrity in the Life of the Believer

By Charles Stanley


How does the world look upon your life? Do people see you as a person of integrity? Can they consistently rely upon you to uphold the highest standards of honesty and trustworthiness?

Some of us worry a great deal about our public standing in terms of our physical appearance, the car we drive, or the career we pursue. None of that matters if people believe you lack integrity. Character counts in the long run. Consider our news media. Television reporters may have an impressive appearance. Magazines may have glossy covers. But if their message fails to tell the whole truth, the outer appearance becomes irrelevant.

My friend, the question is a simple one. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Do you use words deceptively and hypocritically? Integrity is a major issue in the eyes of God. Nothing in this universe has greater integrity than His inspired, inerrant Word. We too should be reliable in every word that proceeds from our lips.

Key Passage: Psalm 15:1-5

Scriptural Principles:

1. Your integrity is at the core of who you are. When we refer to this whole issue of integrity we are discussing a subject that should be of urgent importance to every single believer. Your integrity is your identity; it is the content of your character. The first few verses of Psalm 15 tell us that "he who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart" is the one who is eligible to live in a close relationship to God. We also read in these verses that the person of integrity honors those who honor God. He refuses to cheat others financially. Such people are reliable, trustworthy, sincere, upright, and honest. The world discovers it may count upon them to fulfill a commitment or keep a promise. Live in such a way and you "will never be shaken" (v. 5).

2. You lose your integrity when you compromise the truth. When exactly do we lose our integrity? We do so when we fail to honor the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with our lives and our words. We do so when we tell only part of the story, or when we give a tailored version of the facts in order to manipulate others. Some people think in terms of "little lies" or "white lies," but in the eyes of Almighty God, every lie is a big one, and no lie is "white." Integrity is about living and speaking in such a way that we can hold to the truth, as well as be dependable and sincere at all times. Problems of all kinds begin with simply compromising the truth in some small way. Once a person has done this, he or she will do it again and again. Finally, dishonesty becomes a way of life -- with devastating consequences.

3. You lose your integrity when you begin to rationalize. Sometimes people begin to create their own version of events because they believe it serves them better. In other words, they make rationalizations. They might say, "I don't need to pay this money back because of what this person did that other time," or "It's okay for me to do this thing this time, because the situation is unique." Any time we alter our standards out of convenience, we are rationalizing -- which is just another word for dishonesty. What happens when we rationalize? Other people understand exactly what we are doing. Our children in particular take note of our strategies to avoid clear standards of integrity. Today we see people compromising all around us: in business, in politics, in the world of entertainment, and in the media. Even in the church, we find pastors who fail to live upright and trustworthy lives.

4. Reasons people lose their integrity. One of the primary causes of a loss of integrity is fear. We fear being found out; we fear rejection or risking the loss of something we want. People who are basically insecure are motivated by fear. Secondly, people compromise their standards in order to avoid conflict. They want to go along with the crowd or avoid criticism. People alter their standards simply to please someone else. A third reason for the loss of integrity is selfishness. Because people want to fulfill some personal desire, their self-absorption makes it much easier for them to avoid being honest and trustworthy. A final reason for the loss of integrity is an unwillingness to trust God. When we have the assurance that our righteous God is in control, we have the courage to be upright, reliable, and trustworthy. Knowing He can be trusted, we live in such a way that we can be trusted, too.

5. Consequences of a lack of integrity. Compromise begins with seemingly inconsequential issues and "small" lies. But when we follow that path, the consequences will be terribly destructive in our lives. My friend, giving up your integrity erodes your self-esteem. You will have no respect for yourself when you live by lying. Your character will be damaged. It separates you from your friends, because it causes conflicts in all your relationships. Having no integrity also causes a lack of opportunities in your life, because no one wants to deal with someone who is unreliable. It also causes guilt and confusion. There is an absence of peace that comes with consistent dishonesty. The loss of integrity inspires prideful boasting as a cover-up. Worst of all, it causes estrangement from God. As we have seen, "he who walks with integrity" can abide with God. (Psalm 15:2) Finally, dishonesty causes self-destruction in every part of life. Honesty is not only the best policy, but the safest one as well.

6. Maintaining your integrity. The wise believer wants to abide with God. He wants to avoid all the terrible consequences of the loss of integrity. How, then, can you maintain an upright and honest lifestyle? First, decide what your convictions are. Know what you believe about all the important questions of life. Second, submit yourself to God to walk in righteousness. Ask Him what He would have you do, then make your decisions based on His standards and His perfect will. Third, build relationships with people of integrity. If you want to have a certain standard of life, you should surround yourself with people who will help you do so. Fourth, simply trust God. When you encounter the temptation to compromise or rationalize, stand firm in your faith. If you trust Him, He will uphold your courage. Fifth, confess your failures. We all stumble at times, but God forgives us. Finally, make amends. You must restore a relationship by making it right with those you hurt.


Living the life of integrity can be difficult at times. As the psalmist points out, an upright individual "swears to his own hurt, and does not change" (Psalm 15:4). That means we must be courageous enough and strong enough to suffer the consequences of doing the right thing. Our Savior Jesus Christ did no less than that when He died on the cross for our sins.

This lifestyle requires courage, but it brings good results. We will never be shaken. We will build better relationships with people and a good name in our community. Best of all, we will abide with God Himself. That is the greatest privilege ever given to any human being.

My friend, this is a world where integrity is rare. The world needs to see you walking in righteousness and living a life that is reliable, trustworthy, sincere, upright, and honest. This question of integrity is about your very life and your entire future. I pray that you will be a person who in every way honors the only standards worth living for, the eternal standards of God's Holy Word.


When Life is Less than Perfect

By Ruth Haley Barton

Every life has difficulties. It may be a difficult marriage, chronic pain, depression, painful childhood memories, past mistakes, or emotional pain. Maybe you have begged God to take it away, but it's still there. One thing is true: God has the power to change your circumstances - so it is acceptable to ask Him to do just that. Paul asked the Lord three times to take away his thorn in the flesh. Christ prayed the night before He was crucified, My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me. Even in their willingness to do God's will there was an expressed desire that God take the hard thing away. In both cases God chose not to grant their requests because there was a more important good to come.

When bad things happen:

* See things from God's perspective. A "no" from God allows you to step back and look at the larger picture, perhaps even to understand His reasons.

* Depend on God. Pain and weakness keeps you in touch with your vulnerability - and in touch with your need for God and others. Turn your attention and your trust to Him.

* Let difficulties provide character. Just as physical muscles are developed in the hard work of pulling or pushing against weight or gravity, so, too, your spiritual muscles are developed in the hard work of living in less-than-perfect circumstances. There is no other way for some character traits to be developed. We also exult in our tribulations; knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope (Rom. 5:3-4).

* Allow difficulties to bond you with others. When we open up our pain to others, it can level the ground between us as human beings and allow us to see each other more clearly. You have the choice about whether to experience it in isolation - or to open it up and find the bond it can create with others. When you share your pain, the beauty and strength you see in each other is nothing less than inspiring.

* Expect God to use it. He will use areas of weakness and vulnerability in your life for His purposes. It's more natural to hide those things rather than risk misunderstanding, embarrassment, or disrespect from those who don't know how to respond to the reality of human limitations - theirs or yours. But Paul said that God wants us to boast about our weaknesses - putting them right out there in plain view - so that God's power can come shining through.


A Life-Changing Prayer

By Charles Stanley


Can you pray for a friend without knowing the details of his need? A friend may simply ask you, "Just pray for me." Other times, the Holy Spirit may burden you with a desire to pray for someone. How can we ask God for something when we don't know what it is?

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to talk with God. (Luke 11:1) We have the incredible opportunity to converse with the Creator of this universe, so naturally we want to know how. The awesome truth is that we can have a positive and powerful impact on the life of someone else, even when we lack all the information we think we need.

My friends, we can bless the life of anyone through prayer. God will hear us and answer us, and we will have an impact on that life that will, in turn, impact countless other lives.

Key Passage: Colossians 1:9-14

Supporting Scripture:
Luke 11:1
Ephesians 4:1
John 15:7-8

Scriptural Principles:

1. What is the life-changing prayer? Most of us know the magnificent Lord's Prayer, the one that Jesus taught His disciples. The Scriptures offer us another amazing prayer that we can offer on behalf of others. While writing to the Colossian church, Paul revealed his prayer for that fellowship of believers. We can accommodate this model prayer for our own uses, interceding for everyone we know while being confident that God will answer it every time. This prayer is found in Colossians 1:9-14. Paul prayed for his friends' wisdom, for their daily walk, for the bearing of fruit, and for their strengthening.

2. What makes this prayer so powerful? This prayer is powerful because, first, each part is in perfect line with the will of God as revealed in His Word. We already know this will be answered positively. Second, this is a prayer that can be prayed for anyone on earth. There is no one who isn't in need of the blessings that are listed here. Third, this is a prayer that fits every single need we can have in life. Fourth, Paul's prayer for the Colossians is an encouraging one. Simply hearing that someone is praying it for us, we feel new strength. Finally, this is a God-centered prayer. There is nothing selfish about any part of it, but every word magnifies the Lord.

3. We pray for the knowledge of God's will. In Colossians 1:9, Paul prays that his friends "may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." This is his first request; what does it mean? Paul is asking that the Colossians would clearly know God's will for their lives. Oftentimes we see that our children or loved ones are experiencing difficult times, and we can use this prayer to help them clearly see God's desire for their lives. Again, we need not wonder if we should make this request. At all times, He longs for every one of His children to have the wisdom and understanding of His will.What a joy to be able to make this request for others!

4. We pray for a walk that is worthy of the Lord. Paul's second request is that his readers "will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects" (v. 10). This is the whole idea of living in a manner worthy of our Lord.We are extensions of the life of Jesus, exhibitions of His character and demonstrations of His power. Our actions, our words, our attitudes and our relationships reflect the God we serve, so that we must walk in a manner worthy of the life to which He has called us. Considering all that He has done for us, how could we do otherwise?

5. We pray for the bearing of fruit in every good work. Also in verse ten, we find the next request: that Paul's friends might always be "bearing fruit in every good work." This is not a question of merely being busy, but productive in the things that matter to God. In John 15:7-8, Jesus tells us that He desires us to bear much fruit as proof of being His disciples. That means that as each week goes by, we should be asking ourselves, "What have I done this week that has eternal significance? How have I borne fruit for God's kingdom?" We should also be praying for God to help others bear fruit. Particularly as parents, we should pray each day that our children would be involved in "every good work."

6. We pray for an increase in the knowledge of God. Can you honestly say that you have a hunger to know God? If you have that desire for yourself, you will also pray for the same result in the lives of those you care about. Most people are hungry to learn trivia about sports or entertainment, but what about matters of eternity? We should yearn to have greater knowledge of God by reading and applying the Word, and then by observing the results. Our wisest action each day is to feed the spirit before feeding the body, because no source but God can satisfy our deepest desire.

7. We pray for strengthening with God's power. Paul prays that the Colossians would be "strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience" (v. 11). The prayer means simply this: that the power of God would work in someone's life. Perhaps a couple is going through a divorce, or someone has just lost a job. When someone we know is living through difficult times, we pray that our friend would feel God's power released in the midst of their struggles. Sometimes the Lord is simply waiting for one person to make that prayer. We all want to have others pray for us in that way, so we should do the same for them.

8. We pray joyfully in giving thanks. Finally, Paul asks God to fill his friends with joyful gratitude, "joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints" (vv. 11-12). We ask God to show our friends all the good things He has done for them. We want our friends to have joyful, thankful hearts. Our motivation for giving thanks is fourfold, as we read in verses 12-14. First, we have been qualified to share in God's inheritance. Second, we have been rescued from darkness. Third, we have been transferred to the kingdom of His Son. Fourth, we have been forgiven. We are the sons and daughters of God -- how can we help but have joyful, grateful hearts?


It should be very clear that the prayer in Colossians 1:9-14 is one of life-changing power. Wouldn't you like to know that someone is offering it to God, with your name on it, every single day? Parents, can you think of a more awesome gift to your children than to make this prayer over them each morning before they leave for school?

Think of someone whose life you would like to see blessed. Mark this prayer in your Bible, commit it to your heart, and begin to bring the name of your friend before God every day. Then you enjoy watching God work, because this prayer is always His will.

Finally, what about your own life? Give this prayer to a godly friend, and ask that person to pray for you. It will mark the beginning of countless blessings for every day of your life.