The Art of Acceptance

Come to terms with God and be at peace;  in this way good will come to you. – Job 22:21

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Sometimes, we must accept life on its terms, not our own. Life has a way of unfolding, not as we will, but as it will. And sometimes, there is precious little we can do to change things.

When events transpire that are beyond our control, we have a choice: we can either learn the art of acceptance, or we can make ourselves miserable as we struggle to change the unchangeable.

We must entrust the things we cannot change to God. Once we have done so, we can prayerfully and faithfully tackle the important work that He has placed before us: doing something about the things we can change . . . and doing it sooner rather than later.

Can you summon the courage and the wisdom to accept life on its own terms? If so, you’ll most certainly be rewarded for your good judgment.

– Steve Arterburn

Surrender to the Lord is not a tremendous sacrifice, not an agonizing performance. It is the most sensible thing you can do. – Corrie Ten Boom

He does not need to transplant us into a different field. He transforms the very things that were before our greatest hindrances, into the chief and most blessed means of our growth. No difficulties in your case can baffle Him. Put yourself absolutely into His hands, and let Him have His own way with you. – Elisabeth Elliot

Ultimately things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out. – Barbara Johnson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, the events of this world unfold according to a plan that I cannot fully understand. But You understand. Help me to trust You, Lord, even when I am grieving. Help me to trust You even when I am confused. Today, in whatever circumstances I find myself, let me trust Your will and accept Your love . . . completely. Amen

The Right Places, the Right Friends

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. – Proverbs 13:20

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Peer pressure can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon your peers. If your peers encourage you to make integrity a habit—and if they encourage you to follow God’s will and to obey His commandments—then you’ll experience positive peer pressure, and that’s good. But, if you are involved with people who encourage you to do foolish things, you’re facing a different kind of peer pressure . . . and you’d better beware. When you feel pressured to do things, or to say things, that lead you away from God, you’re aiming straight for trouble.

Are you satisfied to follow that crowd? If so, you may pay a heavy price unless you’ve picked the right crowd. And while you’re deciding whom to follow, be sure you’re determined to follow the One from Galilee, too. Jesus will guide your steps and bless your undertakings if you let Him. Your challenge, of course, is to let Him.

To sum it up, here’s your choice: you can choose to please God first (and by doing so, strengthen your character), or you can fall prey to peer pressure. The choice is yours—and so are the consequences. When you’re torn between trusting your peers and trusting your conscience, trust your conscience.

– Steve Arterburn

There is nothing that makes more cowards and feeble men than public opinion. – Henry Ward Beecher

Tell me what company you keep, and I’ll tell you what you are. – Miguel de Cervantes

Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. – Rick Warren

Surrender or Fight

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. – Joshua 24:15a

Surrender or Fight

Saul was the first king of the Israelites. He was a man with great potential for leadership. Unfortunately he failed miserably. He allowed his fearfulness, disobedience, and self-sufficiency to come between him and God’s plan for his life. I think we can all resonate with Saul’s struggles, so why not learn from him.

At the beginning of his career, Saul was a shy and reluctant leader.  He was found hiding in the baggage when Samuel called the people together to publicly anoint him as king. Saul’s humble, restrained style worked well in the early days of his rule, but he came to a point that many of us come to:  he had to decide to either follow or fight against God’s authority in his life. Unfortunately, Saul made the wrong choice.

During his reign, Saul had great successes when he obeyed God.  His greatest failures resulted when he acted on his own. Even his weaknesses, though, could have been used by God if Saul would’ve confessed them and left them in God’s hands.

Just like Saul, you’re faced with the choice of surrendering your life and will to God or continuing to fight God’s plan for your life. Saul was a people-pleaser. He surrendered to outside pressure rather than surrendering to God and it cost him his kingdom. Today, you are faced with the same choice. Will you surrender to God or go your own way? Just like Saul, your answer to that question will set the course of your life.

– Steve Arterburn

I surrendered unto Him all there was of me; everything! Then for the first time I realized what it meant to have real power. – Kathryn Kuhlman

Past boldness is no assurance of future boldness. Boldness demands continual reliance on God’s spirit. – Andy Stanley

Who’s the Boss

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. – Romans 13:1

Who's the Boss

Jane’s five-year-old neighbor must have seen Jane giving her kids treats because he was over in a flash. “My mom said I can have a Popsicle,” he bellowed. And that reminds me of the story of another little boy who would show up on his neighbor’s doorstep at 9 o’clock in the morning and say, “My mom said I can stay until dinner.”

As we grow up we hopefully grow in our understanding of authority. For instance, you wouldn’t walk into your boss’s office and declare, “My wife said I can have a raise.” But sometimes we try to usurp God’s authority. There are many people out there who know the truth, but in order to achieve their own selfish desires, they will use the truth or present the truth in an untruthful way.

It’s not all that difficult to understand that God has and God is the ultimate authority in life. How that plays out in life can be confusing, unless you’re willing to surrender your will to His.

– Steve Arterburn

“The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice. Any choice will be the right one.” – A. W. Tozer

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” – Abraham Kuyper

 

Fellowship with God

When you have an appetite that asks to be fed, you have a choice as to how you’re going to feed it. At almost every point of decision, you’ll be tempted to satisfy your appetites in a way that does little more than nourishes your sinful desires and strengthens your resistance to God. However, you have another choice: you can choose to feed your soul and strengthen yourself from the inside out.

Fellowship with God

There are many skills and strategies that can help you fight temptation and control your appetites, and you would be wise to learn them all well. But none are more important, more effective, or more rewarding than fellowship with God!

As we spend time with our heavenly Father, we gain wisdom and understanding. We grow stronger spiritually. As a result, we become more able to utilize the resources He makes available to us. Through this growth, we become better equipped and better prepared to fight the good fight of faith by standing firm against the temptations that assail us.

It’s through fellowship with God that we open ourselves to the fulfillment we were designed for, a fulfillment that satisfies our cravings and our desires better and longer than any other alternative.

As you fellowship with God through time spent in His Word, through relationships with other believers, and through loving service to others, you gain the accountability, structure, and support you need to control and redirect your appetites for redemptive ends.

– Steve Arterburn

A Series of Choices

A Series of Choices

The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and  doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you. – Matthew 6:33 NCV

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Your life is a series of choices. From the instant you wake up in the morning until the moment you nod off to sleep at night, you make countless decisions—decisions about the things you do, decisions about the words you speak, and decisions about the way that you choose to direct your thoughts.

As a believer who has been transformed by the love of Jesus, you have every reason to make wise choices. But sometimes, when the stresses of the daily grind threaten to grind you up and spit you out, you may make choices that are displeasing to God. When you do, you’ll pay a price because you’ll forfeit the happiness and the peace that might otherwise have been yours.

So, as you pause to consider the kind of Christian you are—and the kind of Christian you want to become—ask yourself whether you’re sitting on the fence or standing in the light. The choice is yours . . . and so are the consequences.

The greatest choice any man makes is to let God choose for him.   ~Vance Havner

Every step of your life’s journey is a choice . . . and the quality of those choices determines the quality of the journey.   ~Criswell Freeman

Life is pretty much like a cafeteria line—it offers us many choices, both good and bad. The Christian must have a spiritual radar that detects the difference not only between bad and good but also among good, better, and best.    ~Dennis Swanberg

Every day, I find countless opportunities to decide whether I will obey God and demonstrate my love for Him or try to please myself or the world system. God is waiting for my choices.   ~Bill Bright

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, I have many choices to make. Help me choose wisely as I follow in the footsteps of Your only begotten Son. Amen

The Choice to Forgive: Healing is a Choice Part 1

healingisachoiceThe Seventh Big Lie: ‘Forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it.’

The fact that you are even reading these words is a miracle, because you have read a lot of stuff on forgiveness and understand everyone’s angle on it, and none of it does one bit of good for you and your situation. You have been abused, mistreated, or neglected in such a severe way that you believe that forgiveness of that person or persons is impossible for you to experience. You are a good and kind and loving person, but there is one person that you harbor a grudge against, and you plan on keeping it. The person does not deserve to be forgiven by you or by God. Anyone looking at what happened would say that you are totally entitled to your feelings.

If what I have described above is the way you feel, or you feel that way to a lesser degree, I am hoping and praying right now as I write this that this could be the time when everything changes for you. I am praying that as you read on I can help you walk through some steps and help you make some choices that lead you to the choice to forgive the unforgivable. And if you are someone who has not been hurt deeply, I pray that you will use these words to minister to someone else who is struggling because he or she is unable or unwilling to forgive. I pray that in the future if you are ever hurt deeply, you might come back to this and use it to walk out the anger, bitterness, and resentment.

The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth

We live in a world where danger and terror are all around us. We live with uncertainty each new day because we never know what might befall us. Since 9/11 most of us have a little more fear of terror in the world that might one day intersect with our personal world. There is something much more dangerous than a terrorist somewhere out there in the world that may or may not harm us one day. There is something worse, much worse than that. It is worse because it can exist within us and affect everything we do and the very person we become. That internal terrorist is called a ‘justifiable resentment’.

A lot of people have resentments. Some just seem to have a bad attitude about life, and they lean toward resenting everything. They resent paying taxes, paying more than a dollar for a gallon of gas, or being asked by their church to give money to support the new building campaign. They resent the person they are living with. That person is not bad, but the ‘resenter’ collects little things done over time and walks around with a huge collection of little things to hold against the person. It makes him feel a bit superior, so he hangs on to everything he can find. Resenters go through life pretty negative on anything and everything. They have a problem, but it is nothing like what I am going to describe. These petty resentments are real resentments, but they are not the type that will kill you.

A justifiable resentment is the type of resentment that will kill you. It is not about anything petty. It is about real and horrible abuse or mistreatment. It is about a real life event that anyone would say was terribly wrong, and most anyone would tell you that you are totally justified in feeling the way you do. Tenderhearted people will cry with you over it, and many probably have. All the evidence supports your feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, and unwillingness to forgive. The other person does not deserve it, and no one wants him or her to have it. That is what I call a justifiable resentment.

Do you have a justifiable resentment? We’d like to help you. Call us at 800-NEWLIFE (639-5433).

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Prayers of Gratitude for God’s Healing Hand

Thank you Lord for saving me, a child worn and tattered. I never thought my life was worth, anything that mattered. “I gave you breath! How dare you, child! My choice to give you life, and nurture you each day through, until you had a voice. You’re not so worn as you might think, your edges needed rounding. So through my grace and loving hands, you have a voice that’s sounded. For when you pray, I hear your soul, and in my heart, you’re home. So keep on praying – needfully – because you are MY OWN!!!

The Long Dusty Road

You’ve called me back from the long dusty road
That I traveled so long carrying quite a large load.
Guilt was my cargo and shame tied the knots,
On every bag of garbage I believed was just my lot.

It somehow seems strange that today when I looked,
The baggage seems lighter, and my back is not so crooked.
Is it possible that God could see, I’d grown bent beneath the weight
Of all the burden I believed was mine, and maybe it’s not too late?

To come home to the Master, while His arms he’ll open wide
To let me in so I can know, I no longer need to hide.
His grace is bigger than all the earth, and a drop of it he gave,
When I prayed, “Dear father, help me please”, and then I did obey.

He reached right down and with his hand, he loosened all the knots,
And what fell out was all that shame, and the guilt rolled out on top.
The pile was high, I could barely see, and I feared the worst would come,
“You’re not good enough, I’ll throw you back, I’m looking for the One –

Who’s clean inside and has no sin – it’s not you I’m looking for!”
But just then when I looked again – the pile fell to the floor.
The pile now was only dust, no more, the guilt and shame were gone.
With one deep breath, God blew away the burdens I had worn.

On my back were angel’s wings, I felt lighter than a feather –
And when I looked into His face, I clearly saw my Father.
“Child”, he said, “it saddens me, the road you walked was long –
But my heart leaps today with joy, for your burdens now are gone!”

So each day when the load feels heavy
And you’re weighted down with stuff,
Look into God’s glorious face
And know you are enough!!

Forgiving

There are several words in the bible that people tend to cringe at when they hear them. Forgiveness is one of those words. It is a difficult concept to think about releasing someone who has hurt us. There are some drawbacks to holding onto hurts. These include, but are not limited to, giving our own sense of power away, physical ailments such as high blood pressure or headaches, the enemy can set up strongholds, and God will not forgive us (Mt. 6:14-15). There are also benefits to learning to forgive others and ourselves.

Jesus came to provide a way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins. So this seems to be pretty important to him. We want to be free from the weight of our regrets and mistakes and yet, we struggle with the idea of extending that same release to others. We either want justice or revenge. They should understand the pain they caused us. (MT 18:23-30)

The word ‘forgive’ is thrown around as if it is cheap and easy. What Jesus did on the cross to allow forgiveness to happen was not easy. He did not even want to do it, he said “Father if there is any other way, take this cup from me.” MT 26:39 But he made the hard choice and wants us to do the same. Notice, forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. If you wait until you feel like forgiving, it will never happen and you will be stuck carrying the burden forever.

Many people have a misperception that forgiveness is a one time action that “let’s perpetrators off the hook” We are not taught that forgiveness is a process. This process starts with identifying the wound. If we are not aware of what is hurting us, it is extremely difficult to seek healing for it. If you go to the doctor for a cut on your hand but show him your foot, he will have a hard time stitching up the cut and it will be unlikely to heal properly. It will possibly become infected and hurt worse.

Next we need to confess anything that has become sin in relation to the memory of the experience. This is where bitterness, anger, revenge, taking things into our own hands, and selfishness needs to be acknowledged. Wait a minute, are saying I have to let go of my feelings of being hurt? What about the other person? If I forgive them, they will get away with hurting me, why do I have to confess?

This is where one of the corrections to the forgiveness myth comes in. Forgiveness is not for “them”, it’s for you. If you confess your sin first, you are making space for the Holy Spirit to fill you and heal your hurt.

If you try to get back at the person who hurt you, that is the only discipline they will receive. If you choose to forgive them, God will say ‘Ok I’ll take it from here.’ His justice and correction are better than anything I could come up with, so I prefer leaving the discipline, or teaching, to him. After acknowledging the hurt and confessing your own sin, you are now ready to release the person into God’s care. Remember, it is for your freedom and health that you are forgiving them. Be specific. Say “I choose to forgive_______ (name of person) for_______ (what they did) in Jesus’ name. I release them in Jesus’ name” The first time is to break enemy strongholds and the second is so that it comes from the heart. (Mt 18:35)

Finally ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, seal you, and make you the person God designed you to be from the beginning. You are a treasure and you bring glory, honor, and pleasure to God when you forgive others. He sings over you. (Zeph 3:17)

Steps of Forgiveness

  • Acknowledge hurtful situation
  • Confess your sin
  • Choose to forgive and release the person who hurt or upset you
  • Ask Holy Spirit to fill you

Unforgiveness hurts a lot of people. It removes you from relationship with others, yourself, and with God. Making the choice to forgive those who have wronged you allows God to be bigger than the hurt. He wants to bring you healing and freedom. More than that, he wants you back in relationship with Him. There are many reasons to learn how to forgive. It is possible to gain freedom from the burdens you carry. Forgiving is the vehicle to remove the bricks from your backpack so you no longer have to lug them around with you. Your heavenly father wants to relieve the weight you carry as it is too heavy for you. There is hope.