Real Friends Show Up In A Crisis

“A friend should treat a troubled person kindly, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14

Do you know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance? A real friend shows up when you’re in a crisis. When everybody else walks out, real friends walk into your life.

If you’re not sure who your real friends are, wait until your next crisis. Your acquaintances may disappear pretty quickly. But your real friends will keep showing up no matter what.

Did you know the Bible says that, even when people turn their backs on God, they still deserve to have friends? Job 6:14 says, “A friend should treat a troubled person kindly, even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty”.

The first thing everybody needs in a crisis is other people. You need a support group—mature Christian brothers and sisters who will love you, care for you, comfort you, encourage you, support you, meet your needs, and counsel you. That kind of person will gently steer you back to Jesus when life’s difficulties tempt you to abandon your faith.

Build a safety network in your life so, when the rogue winds come, you have genuine friends who will be there for you. When a crisis happens, these are the first people you’ll turn to.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But wait a minute! Don’t you need to pray first in a crisis rather than turn to other people?” Well, yes, that’s great if you can. But the truth is that in a crisis you’re often in so much stress and shock that you don’t even know what to pray. It’s at that point that you need other people praying for you.

You need your real friends to say, “We’ll pray for you. We’ll believe for you. We’ll be there for you. No matter what.”

Choose to be a true friend to your Christian brothers and sisters in crisis today. And when you go through hard times, you’ll find yourself held up by those same people.

Five Things To Do In A Storm

“But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” Matthew 14:30

When you’re going through a storm, God is not distant or uninvolved. He is with you, and he is working in your life for your good.

If you feel like you’re sinking in a storm, here are five things God wants you to do:

Have courage, because Jesus is with you.
Don’t ever argue with a fear. Just tell it where to go! Tell it to go talk to Jesus.

Take a risk in faith.
Don’t ask God to bless what you are doing. Instead, do what God is blessing. Ask him what he wants you to do, and then be willing to do it with him.

Stay focused on Jesus.
The moment you take your eyes off the Lord, you’re going under. Matthew 14:30 says, “But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” . If you focus on the wind and the waves—your circumstances—you’re going to sink, just like Peter.

Don’t doubt.
You don’t need great faith to make it through the storm in your life. You just need faith in the right person—Jesus Christ.

Praise God.
Even in the storm, even when you feel like you’re sinking, even when you’re scared to death—praise him all the time. Thank God in the middle of the storm.

What storm is scaring you right now? What storm is sinking you? Why do you think God is letting you go through this storm?

He’s letting you go through this storm for the same reasons he sent the disciples into the storm. He wants you to know: “I’m all you need. I can handle anything. And I’ll come walking on the very thing that scares you the most. I’m not asking you to come to me. I’m going to come to you.”

If you feel like you’re sinking today, don’t fear. Just call out to Jesus. You’ll find he’s with you.

Who Controls Your Career

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33

If you want your life to turn from emptiness to overflowing, then give Jesus complete control of your life, including your career.

An example of this is when Simon Peter let Jesus get into his boat so he could teach some people standing on the shore. The Bible says, “When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon [Peter], ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’” (Luke 5:4-5).

Then the Bible says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” (Luke 5:6-7).

If you want your life to turn from emptiness to overflowing, you’ve got to get Jesus in your boat.

What’s your boat? It’s how you make a living. Simon’s business was his boat because he was a fisherman. The boat represents your career, your profession, your job, just like it represented Simon Peter’s entire livelihood.

What does it mean to have Jesus in your boat?

It means you dedicate your career to God. I’m not talking about salvation here. You may have Jesus in your life, but have you given him control of your career?

You’ve trusted him for salvation and serve faithfully in your church. But when you go back to work during the week, is Jesus who you trust in your job? Or do you put Jesus on the shelf?

When Simon Peter gave his job to Jesus, he was blessed with incredible results. But don’t miss the sequence. We sometimes think, “God, make me really successful in business, and then I’ll serve you with the success.” Wrong! It’s the exact opposite. Peter first gave Jesus control of his job. Then Jesus blessed Peter’s job with enormous success. That’s the order.

The Bible says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.

When you want God to bless something, put him first in that area. You want God to bless your time? You give him the first part of every day. You want God to bless your money? You give him the first 10 percent of your income, no matter how small it is. You want God to bless your job? Give him control, no matter how successful you are.

Get Jesus in your boat, and you’ll see your life turn from empty to overflowing.

In A Storm, You Need “I Am”

“When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:49-50

It’s only in the storms of life that you learn what Jesus is really like. You see that he’s not a mere man. He’s not just a nice teacher or an ethical leader. He is God, the Creator of the universe.

In Mark 6, Jesus noticed the disciples were in distress. They were in the middle of a lake, where the wind and waves were pounding their boat and keeping them from making any progress. And so Jesus walked out to them on the water. “When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’” (Mark 6:49-50).

The disciples still had some nagging doubts—maybe Jesus was just a nice prophet who could do some miracles. But by walking on water, Jesus revealed he was far more than just a man. He showed them he was God.

He also gave them a challenge: “Don’t be afraid.” And he reassured them: “It is I.”

In Greek, the language this part of the Bible was originally written in, the phrase “It is I” is actually two words: ego imaEgo ima simply means “I Am.” Why is that important?

The name of God is “I Am”—not “I was” or “I will be” or “I hope to be.” When Jesus says, “I Am,” he is saying that you don’t need to be afraid. You don’t need to sweat it. He is God. And that is enough.

If you’re going through a storm, you don’t need a job—you need Jesus. You don’t need a plan—you need a person. You don’t need a system—you need a Savior. You don’t need a new goal—you need God.

When you’re going through a storm, remember that God is not distant, apathetic, or uninvolved. He is “I Am.” And he will get you through the storm.

How Pride Puffs You Up

“Then Jesus left the Pharisees and went in the boat to the other side of the lake. His followers had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat; they had forgotten to bring more. Jesus warned them, ‘Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, ‘He said this because we have no bread.’” Mark 8:13-16

In the Bible, yeast is often a metaphor for pride and arrogance. Why? Because both pride and yeast make things puff up.

When you put yeast in dough, the yeast puffs up the dough. It only takes a small amount for this to happen.

Pride in people is similar. Just a little pride can puff you up and quickly take over your life, getting you in all kinds of trouble.

We all do this. When you’re filled with pride, you blow things out of proportion. All of a sudden, little things get you really upset. When that happens, you know you’re dealing with pride. Wherever you find conflict anywhere in the world, pride is always involved.

When you’re filled with pride—when you have the “yeast of the Pharisees”—guess what? You can’t see life clearly. Pride even blocks you from seeing what God is doing in your life.

Beware the “yeast of the Pharisees” so that you can more closely follow God. As you clear the pride from your life, you’ll start to see how God is working. You may even realize he’s working a miracle in your life.

Why Your Focus Matters

“His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, ‘He said this because we have no bread.’ Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you talking about not having bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your minds closed?’” Mark 8:16-17

When you focus on the wrong things, you miss what God is doing in your life.

When your attention is only on the here and now, you miss God’s long-term plan. When you just think about comfort, you miss out on character. When you concentrate on happiness, you forget holiness. When you just want to enjoy the moment, you may not prepare for eternity.

When you’re thinking is short-term, you miss seeing the spiritual work God is doing all around you.

This is what happened to the disciples in Mark 8. The Bible says, “Then Jesus left the Pharisees and went in the boat to the other side of the lake. His followers had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat; they had forgotten to bring more. Jesus warned them, ‘Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod’” (Mark 8:13-15).

But the disciples missed the point: “His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, ‘He said this because we have no bread.’ Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you talking about not having bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your minds closed?’” (Mark 8:16-17).

Using yeast as a metaphor, Jesus was trying to teach his disciples a lesson about pride. But they didn’t understand the deeper meaning—they thought he was talking about lunch!

While Jesus was talking about the need for maturity, his disciples were talking about their next meal. That’s short-term thinking.

Whenever you’re thinking short-term, you can’t see the larger picture of what God is doing in your life. So ask God today to give you a glimpse into eternity and to help you experience the hope that comes from seeing his long-term plan.

Great Shepherds Lead with Character and Competence

“I will sing of your love and justice, LORD. I will praise you with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life.” Psalm 101:1-2

Integrity is a requirement for leadership—because all leadership is based on trust, and all trust is built on truth.

Israel’s King David was one of the greatest leaders in history. The Bible says about him: “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72).

David was an effective leader because he possessed two things: character and competence. Both are absolutely essential to leadership. One without the other is disaster! You can be a good person and still be an incompetent leader. On the other hand, if you have really great gifts and skills but bad character, you won’t be an effective leader.

David had both character and competence. He shepherded his people—that means he cared for them. And he led them with skillful hands—that’s competence. David was effective in competence and character because of his commitment to personal integrity.

In fact, he wrote down his commitment in Psalm 101: “I will sing of your love and justice, LORD. I will praise you with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions” (Psalm 101:1-6).

If you want to live a life of integrity and see God make you a more effective leader, then you need to make Psalm 101 your personal covenant.

When you don’t know where to start in developing a life of integrity, start with worship, like David did. Praise the Lord with songs, aloud or in your heart. Tell him how great he is. Thank him for his character. Worship him for who he is, not just what he has done for you.

Then, look to your home. King David said, “I will lead a life of integrity in my own home” (Psalm 101:2). This is often where it’s hardest to live with integrity! You must choose love, patience, and kindness with the people in your home.

Make choices every day that honor God, in the big and small ways. That will help you lead a life of integrity.

Are You Really Speaking the Truth in Love?

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”Ephesians 4:15

Christians often use the truth as a weapon. But the Bible never says God wants you to use the truth as a club. He doesn’t want you to beat people up theologically, politically, or personally. You must use the truth tactfully—in other words, use truth in love.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:15).

Think of somebody that you would like to help make a change. You need to realize people change faster and more easily when the truth is wrapped in love. Without love, truth is always seen as an attack. If you say something offensively, guess what? It’s going to be received defensively. You’re never going to get anywhere!

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.

If it’s not helpful, don’t say it. If it’s only for your benefit, don’t say it. If you want to just get something off your chest, don’t say that you’re speaking the truth in love. If you want to put somebody down and club somebody with the truth, don’t say that you’re speaking the truth in love.

Speak only what is helpful for building people up according to their needs, so that it benefits them. Those are the qualifications of speaking the truth in love.

Now, just because you’re ready to share the truth doesn’t mean the other person is ready to hear it. Ask yourself if someone is ready to receive a truth; that’s part of loving them. The Bible says, “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal” (Proverbs 12:18).

Do you want to heal, or do you want to wound? Do you want to help, or do you want to hurt? When you’re in a conflict, the solution is not deception but tact. You have a choice to either hurt or heal, to either make a point or make an enemy.

How do you know when you’re speaking the truth in love? It’s pretty simple: Just ask yourself for whose benefit are saying something. If you’re speaking the truth for someone else’s benefit, then God will honor your words and use them for good.

How to Speak the Truth Plainly

“Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Otherwise you will be condemned.” James 5:12

When James tells us not to swear, he’s not talking about profanity. He’s talking about making an oath by referring to something else, as if you don’t have enough integrity in yourself to keep your own word.

Swearing “to God” is taking his name in vain. But you should also never say, “I swear on a stack of Bibles” or “I swear on my mother’s grave.” You cheapen your own integrity when you have to appeal to something besides your own character.

As a follower of Jesus, your word should stand on its own. Just speak the truth plainly! Don’t embellish it. Don’t shade it. Don’t twist it. If you mean yes, say “yes.” If you mean no, say “no.” Do this even when it feels like very few people in politics, the media, or even in your own circle are doing it.

James was not the first person to say that speaking the truth plainly is the foundation of all integrity. In fact, his half-brother, Jesus Christ, said it, and Paul said it too. (Anytime God says something three times in Scripture, you better believe it’s important to him.)

Paul says, “Do you think I am like the people of the world who say ‘Yes’ when they really mean ‘No’? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’” (2 Corinthians 1:17-19).

When so many people seem to be speaking lies or half-truths, then speaking plainly, with integrity, will make you countercultural. It will also make you more like Jesus; he never wavered between yes and no. Being more Christlike should be your motivation for having integrity.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:34-37).

If you’re going to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, you need to have integrity. You can start building integrity today by speaking the truth plainly.

Any Believer Can Pray For Healing

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16

You don’t have to be an elder, a pastor, or a super-Christian to pray for healing for yourself or for other people. Any believer can pray for healing—and God wants you to be a healing agent!

First, make sure your heart is clean from sin. Holding on to unconfessed sin will always hinder your prayers for healing. That’s why James says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). You’re never going to be sinless, but you can sin less. Confessing your sin is the first step in asking God for healing. When you confess, it’s like you’re cleaned inside out.

Second, be specific when you ask for healing. Too many people are afraid to put God in a box, so they just say, “Lord, be with this sick person, show them your love, and help them to know you’re with them.” But how are you going to recognize God’s provision when you don’t ask him for anything specific? Name the thing you are asking God for—not because he needs to know the details but because he wants you to see how he works in those details.

Finally, ask in faith. James 1:6 says, “But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind”.

Pray with the expectation, trusting God will answer your prayers in his time and his way. The person you’re praying for may never be healed in this life. But you can still pray for healing—without doubt and in faith—because you know God never stops working out his purposes. He hears you, and he cares about the person you’re praying for or about the sickness that may be burdening you.

Get your heart right with God. Confess your sin. Ask him for the specific thing you want him to do for you and others. Then watch how he works.

It will be beyond anything you can imagine!

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