< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: June 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Red Sea Rules – Part 4

Exodus 14:10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.

Pray! That’s Rule #4. Matthew Henry a well known Bible commentator wrote, “God brings us into straits that He may bring us to our knees.” We can panic, but prayer is the means by which we can if we choose, stay even-tempered, self- possessed and strong spirited even in a crisis.

In a time of uncertainty, Jacob said:
Genesis 35:3 “Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone."

Referring to his days as a fugitive, David wrote
2 Samuel 22:7 “In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.”

In this chapter the author is talking about crisis time prayers. Not our daily talks with God, but prayers during life-threatening or soul-shattering events. The Israelites prayer was urgent and united! They cried out! There are many prayers recorded in scripture which are cries.

This is storming heaven. Or praying through. Sometimes there’s little you can do, but plead with God. And in James 5:16 it says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results."

And it’s even more powerful when two or more pray. The author wrote that God won’t always say yes to all our requests, just like we don’t always say yes to everything our children ask us, but He listens with unusual attentiveness when two or more unite in prayer and responds in His own way and time with power and wisdom.

Also, the Israelites weren’t reciting some prayer from a book or church bulletin. They were panicked and their prayer was real and from the heart.

Here are some of the prayers like that in the Bible:

Job 8:5-6 But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.

Mark 5:22-23 "Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live."

Luke 7:44 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this,

Luke 22:44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

Back to the Israelites – even praying to God like that, they didn’t really expect Him to answer. Look what happened. “The children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses “Because there are no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?”

We often pray all our fears. Just listing our problems, instead of claiming God’s promises as we should. Pray in faith!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Red Sea Rules - Part 3

Rule #3 Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.

Exodus 14:5-9 5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, "What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!" 6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8 The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9 The Egyptians—all Pharaoh's horses and chariots, horsemen [a] and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

The Exodus story is also a story of what Jesus did for us. He brought us out of captivity. He freed us from our sins. But, like Pharaoh, Satan has not forgotten us and wants to capture and re-enslave us. In Ephesians 6:11 Paul warns us against the “wiles” of the devil. Pharaoh lost a lot of people that were working for him for free! And he was angry!

Satan is also angry. Pharaoh gathered up all his soldiers and pursued them. If you’ve ever felt like Satan was after you – what we learn from this passage is –“Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.”

Neither Pharaoh nor Satan realize how defeated they already are.

The Bible likens Satan to 5 different animals. In Genesis 3, he’s a serpent trying to deceive God’s people; in Matthew 13, a bird trying to spoil God’s harvest. In John 10 Jesus calls him a wolf, attacking God’s flock. In 1 Peter 5 he’s a lion trying to devour God’s children and in Revelation 12 he’s a dragon wanting to destroy God’s Son.

But Jesus said in John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

The blood of Jesus Christ forgives our sins and resolves our guilt. His resurrection frees us from the fear of death and it satisfies our need for eternal significance. The presence of the Lord surrounds us and the promises of the Bible sustain us.

But Satan’s still going to try to get us back. He’s going to try to discourage us. He may use old friends. He may show us a hypocrite in the church; send us a temptation right to our weak spot. He may trap us in a difficulty or corner us in impossible situations. The author says, “Acknowledge his activity, but don’t be intimidated by him. You can resist him in the power of God and by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Latch on to one of these verses:

Daniel 11:32 "With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him."

James 4:7-8 "7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

1 Peter 5:9 "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Ephesians 6:13 "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

We can rebuff the enemy in the name of Jesus. We can claim the victory of faith when we shake off discouragement in the name of our Lord. When we do that, the author says that Satan falls from heaven faster then lightening and is drowned in the Red Sea of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Every time we resist the slightest temptation we honor God!!!

Every time we overcome even the slightest problem by trusting and obeying Jesus, God is glorified!

When we choose character over convenience, faithfulness over ease, honesty over deceit, we bring honor to the Lord.

Satan’s work against God and His church is mentioned often in the Bible:

Acts 13:10/Acts 26:18/ 2 Timothy 2:26/ Ephesians 4:26-27/ Colossians 1:13-14/2 Corinthians 12:7/1 Thessalonians 2:18 to name just a few!

Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12 that, “Our fight is not against any physical enemy. It is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen powers that control the dark world and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” How do we respond?

We draw near to Christ and keep ourselves under His protection of grace.

Pharaoh could chase and threaten and terrify, but he was powerless to actually harm the Israelites as long as they remained under the protective cloud of God’s glory and grace.

If you’ve ever been walking and had a dog come out of nowhere barking and angry at you, only to have him be stopped by an electric fence – the author says that’s what Satan is like to a Christian. He can bark and growl, lunge and threaten, but when we are enclosed by the grace of Jesus we’ll see in tomorrow’s post what we need to do!

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Red Sea Rules – Part 2

Exodus 14:3-4 3 Pharaoh will think, 'The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.' 4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." So the Israelites did this.

The author says this is Rule #2 - Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief. Sometimes we can’t find the answers to our dilemmas because we’re asking the wrong questions. Say we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness or have a child in crisis or lost all our money. Our natural instinct is to ask: “How did I get into this mess? And how can I get out of it?” Or, “why me?”

These may be natural questions, but they are the wrong ones. The right question results in an entirely new way of looking at our difficulty. The right question is “How can God be glorified in this situation?”

And it changes everything.

In these verses in Exodus we see God deliberately orchestrated these events to demonstrate the power He wields over both His enemies and the elements. He parted the seas and it was written about in the Bible so generations later we know that our God can do anything!

Remember the story in John 7 when Jesus’ disciples met a man blind from birth and they asked, “How did this man get into this situation? Why did it happen? Who sinned, the man or his parents, that he was born this way?” And Jesus told them they were asking the wrong question. That “this man was born blind so that the power of God could be displayed in his life.” Jesus healed him so we would know who Jesus is!

God doesn’t waste suffering. If He leads us into impossible spots, He will deliver us in His own time, in His own way and for His name’s sake. Our job is to say, as Jesus did during the week before he was crucified:

John 12:27-28 27"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!"

That is, after all, what our lives are all about. To Him be the glory!

God will deliver His people from every trial and trouble. It may not be my way or your way, but in His own way, He will deliver for His name’s sake. In this Exodus story the Lord intended from the beginning to gain glory for Himself by saving His people at the last minute. If you think about it God often saves us in the nick of time. Just when we think we can’t hang on anymore, He’ll provide an escape route. And His way is the best way. And it leads to worship.

Psalm 50:15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

Psalm 34:19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

I think when He gets us through something we need to give Him the credit. To thank Him and tell others what He did.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan

This book uses the story of the parting of the Red Sea to show us that when our past seems implausible and our future impossible God is working in ways we cannot see. That He will make a way of escape for His weary, but waiting children.

Isaiah 11:15 And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; and He will wave His hand over the river with His scorching wind; and He will strike it into seven streams; and make men walk over dry-shod.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

The author writes, “No sea is deeper than the ocean of His love. There is no army stronger than His hosts, no force greater than grace, no enemy who can overcome His direct and indirect work in our lives.”

Rule #1 Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

Exodus 14:1-2 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.

God told them exactly where to go. And this put the sea in front of them with Pharoah’s army behind them and the mountains around them! And of course we know from other Bible stories that sometimes God allows us, or even puts us, in an “impossible situation” so that when He gets us through it there’s a bigger miracle; showing His great power.

Think about when Lazarus died and Jesus waited 4 days before going to him. If Jesus had come right away it would have been just another healing. But after 4 days it became a resurrection!

We sometimes go through long periods of pain and pressure. Trapped by circumstances; hurting and afraid. Facing impossible odds. Sometimes we can’t talk to anyone about our problems – making them even worse.

Sometimes circumstances are beyond our control. And we worry. Sometimes worry takes over our life. But –

A preacher, John R. Rice said, “Worry is putting question marks where God has put periods.” And Bishop Fulton J. Sheen called worry “a form of atheism, for it betrays a lack of faith and trust in God. “

We worry any.

But God wants us to be able to say “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.”

God wants us to turn our worries into prayer and our fears in to faith.

The Israelites were following God. God who took them out of captivity and deliberately into a place where they were trapped. In trouble. They had thought their problems were over when they left Egypt and started following God.

These 2 verses, Exodus 14:1-2 tell us that the Lord took responsibility for leading them into peril.

God will occasionally do the same with us. Testing our faith, leading us into hardship, teaching us wisdom, showing us His ways. Even though we feel like panicking when this happens we need to learn to consult the Bible for guidance and realize that if we are in a difficult place, God has either placed us there or allowed us to be there – for reasons perhaps known for now only to Himself. And that the same God who led us in will lead us out.

When we realize this, our whole perspective of the situation changes.

Many great people in the Bible found themselves in bad situations when they were following God. Joseph, Moses, David, the apostles…Jesus! Dying on the cross.

Christians shouldn’t be surprised when, in seeking to do God’s will, we find ourselves trapped in painful, frightening, difficult or impossible situations. Life is hard! Especially for Christians because we have a determined enemy out to get us.

Jesus warned us in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation. But he added, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

AW Tozer said, “To the child of God, there is no such thing as an accident. He travels an appointed way…accidents may appear to befall him and misfortune stalk his way, but these evils will be so in appearance only and will seem evil only because we cannot read the secret script of God’s hidden providence.”

An African pastor, Andrew Murray was facing terrible crisis’s and after much prayer wrote this in his journal:

1. God brought me here. It is by His will that I am in this place and in that fact I will rest.
2. God will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child.
3. He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn and working in me the grace he means to bestow.
4. In His good time He can bring me out again – how and when – He knows.

So we can say, “I am here”
1. By God’s appointment
2. In His keeping
3. Under His training
4. For His time

God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. Never forget us, never abandon us and never stop loving us.

Realize that if we are where God has placed us, then there is no better place to be.

Now, you might ask, but what if the trial I’m having is clearly my fault? J.I.Packer wrote, “Our God is a God who not merely restores, but takes up our mistakes and follies into His plan for us and brings good out of them.”

So when we are in a trial because of our own selfishness or stupidity; serious and sincere repentance routes us back to God’s will. When we genuinely repent of our sins, our hearts are cleansed and our fellowship with God is restored. Certain consequences many linger, but the Lord will somehow use them for good.

Healing may still be needed, but the Great Physician will apply the salve so we can endure.

God’s forgiveness allows self-forgiveness. We can stop being angry with ourselves because He has forgiven us and will use it for good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God even causes the influences of our self-chosen circumstances to work for our spiritual benefits.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Prayer for Everyone

This prayer was sent around by email. I cleaned it up a little and think it's a great one to pray daily:

Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I'm blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me.

Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Help me clear my mind so that I can hear from You.

Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through Your eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrongdoing, and receive Your forgiveness.

And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus' example -- to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It's the best response when I'm pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can't pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.

Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can't find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don't know You intimately. I pray for those who don't believe. But I thank you that I believe.

I believe that You change people and things. I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met.

I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than You. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly.

This is my prayer.
In Jesus' Name,


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Something all Sunday School Teachers and Pastors should read

Acts 29:17-26 17From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.
18And when they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,
19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house,
21solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
22"And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there,
23except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
24"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
25"And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.
26"Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
28"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31"Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
32"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33"I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes.
34"You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.
35"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
36When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

Paul’s prayer tells us we should serve the Lord with all humility and not shrink from declaring God’s truth. Verse 24 reminds us not to put ourselves before others or God and to put God’s work (sharing the Gospel) first.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 13

Chapter 16 – Live Forever

John 14: 1-3 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

2 Corinthians 5:1 1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

1 Corinthians 15:53-55 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
55"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

These are messages of life and joy. We live forever!

When we die on earth, we immediately meet our loved ones who were also believers and we will know them and will never be separated again. Jesus’ resurrection is proof of this.

John 14:19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

John 11:25-26 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

You may have heard the example of an unborn baby warm and safe inside its mom: dreading birth. “I know this place – I don’t know what’s out there.” But the day comes when the baby “dies” out of that prenatal world and passes from a known form of life to an unknown and it would seem like death, since it’s the end of that existence as he knows it. But what happens then? He finds himself in the loving arms of someone who’s been waiting for him.

How silly he was to fear.

Death is simply another birth. Jesus Christ has the truth about life and death. He will help us throughout life and then guide us across to Heaven when it’s time.

1 Corinthians 2:9 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

Read the Bible, pray and fill your life with love and goodness. Trust in God – His promises are true. You can live your life fully ALL your life!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 12

Chapter 14 – Self-Confidence and Achievement

The strength of your belief is the key to self-confidence.

Romans 8:31 says “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

No difficulty needs to defeat you. But this must be a humble faith in God, not a bumptious faith in your own power. Faith is the greatest power in the world.

Matthew 17:20 “He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Matthew 9:29Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"

Mark 9:23'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes”

Successful living depends upon acquiring confidence. Practicing faith will free you from your weaknesses and fears, let you see you untapped resources and make possible the releasing of your hidden abilities.

Psalm 118:6 says “The Lord is on my side. I shall not fear” Shift your thoughts from the things that are against you and focus on the vast power that is for you.

God’s will – God centered. Condition your life to His will.

Luke 18:27 “Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Put your problem in the past tense and affirm that God is helping you now. We have to give ourselves to God because when we do He gives Himself to us!

Chapter 15 – Living Above Pain and Suffering

Life can be tough if you have pain. But Dr. Peale says that difficult as it is, pain is not without value. Paul talks about this in the Bible when he says it gives us empathy for others; so we can go out and help them get through what we’ve gotten through. And it also helps us turn to and depend on God.

But Dr. Peale also says you can manage pain a lot with your mind by always picturing yourself as healthy and vigorous. No matter how you feel, keep that picture of yourself in your mind.

Don’t concentrate on the ache or pain or sickness. It doesn’t mean the pain will always go away. His dad had arthritis and told him, “Learn what you can about your disease, know what to expect, learn to do what you can about it and then beyond that just get along with it.”

Sometimes you have to pray for the strength to meet the inevitable with courage. The faith becomes any instrument for getting insight into the fundamental meaning of suffering and for bearing it. In the end, the secret of life isn’t in what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.

The condition of your body isn’t as important as the condition of your mind and soul. There are many stories of people who rose above suffering: Helen Keller, Joni Erikson Tada, Amy Carmichael… You can live a great life within your limitations. Sometimes you have to get along with your pain and focus on other things instead.

Even if you don’t get rid of your pain completely you can lose it temporarily when you become more interested in something else.

There is an enormous power in the human spirit to rise above pain and suffering when the spirit is determined.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 11

Chapter 13 - How to Feel Well and Have Vibrant Health

Dr. Peale starts this chapter with a short sentence. “Stop dying and start living.” And goes on to say, “And live vitally all your life.”

Either you are growing or you are dying. The secret of growing may be as simple as making up your mind to put the accent on life.

Jesus Christ is not only the healer of our souls, but of our minds and bodies as well. What He did on earth 2000 years ago He can still do. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Dr. Peale says God works in at least 2 ways in healing people: through His servant the Dr. or nurse and through spiritual faith.

The chemical balance within the body is governed mainly by 3 tiny glands: the pituitary and the 2 adrenals. The pituitary is at the base of the brain and the 2 adrenals lie astride the kidneys. Together they weigh no more than 1/3 of an ounce and their principal job is to adapt the body to all manners of stress. If you are cold, the arteries constrict and raise the blood pressure to warm you. When bacteria invades the body, the glands provide hormones to fight it. In severe injury they cause the blood to clot. They increase blood sugar when you need quick energy. They decrease sensitivity to pain.

In today’s hurried up, stress-filled world we’re causing these glands an overload of work! The constant stress thrown at the body eventually breaks them down and arteries harden, blood pressure rises and stays high, heart disease develops and arthritis strikes.

The author interviewed an eye, ear and nose specialist who said 1/3 of his patients had ear, nasal or sinus trouble because of their resentments, anxieties and other conflicts. That he had one man who kept coming in with colds and finally figured out that before every cold he had had a fight with his wife.

Ill will, fear, anger, hate, resentment…. Bad stuff!

He interviewed another man who at the time was the National Country Doctor of the year and asked him what the chief cause of sickness was. The Dr. replied, “Nerves and tension.” Here’s his advice for staying well:

1. Live each day as it comes: don’t worry about next week
2. Learn to live instead of trying to get rich
3. Never remain angry
4. Begin each day by liking everyone you meet
5. Go to church: practice your religion. Really use prayer and your faith
6. Live a quiet, serene life

Another doctor was quoted as saying that 77% of his patients were “draining back into their bodies the diseased thoughts of their minds.” He places religious books and copies of the Bible in his practice’s waiting room.

The people who came to Jesus to be healed had faith that He could heal them and He did.

Now I don’t want to say that the people who aren’t healed who have prayed didn’t have enough faith. Sometimes what happens is part of a bigger plan than we can see now. And remember if that person was a Christian he or she is happy and whole in God’s presence right now.

Look for the good in others. Pray for those you don’t like. And mean it! Also, we must share God’s blessings. We are blessed so we can bless others.

Dr. Peale suggests saying both the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer daily. And to meditate on them. And then during the day send up little prayers of thankfulness.

Stretch daily, move around and breathe deeply. And then remember John 14:27, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 10

Chapter 12 – Peace of Mind – A Source of Power and Energy

When we control our emotions we have power. A nervous, excited mind cannot produce orderly thought processes. The author quotes someone who said, “Real power to meet life is developed in those deep centers of inner quietness where the soul and the mind meet God.” Make room for silence in your life. A life with a peaceful center can weather all storms and develop great strength.

This is not a very quiet world. Lawn mowers, airplanes, things that ring, beep and talk to you! No wonder everyone’s stirred up all the time. We are over tense, high strung, competitive people. We’re rushed and get angry. No wonder heart attacks are a major killer.

Even though God can give us peace, we have to DO it ourselves (if that makes sense!) Get in a quiet place. Picture a peaceful place. Like a squirrel hoarding nuts, store up moments of happiness and triumph so that in a crisis you can draw on those memories for help and inspiration.

You can also picture yourself responding calmly to a problem.

And don’t nurse a grievance. Let it go! Dr. Peale says it’s not worth the emotional effort. Live in harmony with God’s teachings and you will gradually build up a strong consciousness to His presence and you will have a peace that nothing can shatter.

He ended this section with a little chart of how to have peace of mind.

1. Conserve your energy: don’t race your motor. Don’t rush! Work, eat and play leisurely. Don’t get overtired at work or play. Be moderate in all you do. Do not take on unimportant, burdensome tasks.
2. Stay calm and serene. The past is past. Do your best today and let it go at that. Do not worry about tomorrow. Most worries never come to pass. Put your trust in God and forget all fear. He has a plan for you and in such a situation – who can be against you?

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 9

Chapter 11 – Lift Your Depression and Live Vitally

British weather forecasts are a little different. A typical one might be “cloudy, rain, fog, with occasional bright intervals.” This, unfortunately, describes many lives too. But, this is one climate we can control.

Depression may be serious or mild. The marks of serious depression are a perpetual sadness, slow reaction of mind and body and bitter self-criticism. And a person suffering like this would need profound therapy. But this chapter is about mild depression, which is much more common. In fact 1 out of 3 people suffer from mild depression. These symptoms are discouragement, loneliness, feelings of inferiority and just getting no fun out of life. These are people who say “Oh, what’s the use.”

An effective cure for depression is the practice of hope. And it’s very similar to what he suggested for joy. Get up in the morning and say, “This is going to be a great day!” If you think and say hopeful things eventually it will force out all depression. Your mental attitude is very much affected by the words you say. (And you have to substitute good thought for bad. Don’t leave your mind empty!)

This section goes on to say we also need body, mind and soul revitalization. Right eating, right exercising, right thinking, right praying, right living. Replace every weak thought with a strong one, every negative thought with a positive one, every hate thought with a loving one and every gloomy thought with a lifted one.

Dr. Peale suggests actually writing down your thoughts and reading them to see if they are creative or destructive. Then go about replacing the destructive ones.

Everyone gets depressed sometimes. Many have absolute despair. But when you let go to God and He takes hold, great things happen.

JC Penney made a great fortune. Then he lost much of it, went into debt and suffered a nervous breakdown. He actually was in a sanitarium. One night he was certain it was going to be his last night on earth and he wrote farewell letters to his family. He felt totally alone and totally beaten. But to his surprise, he was still alive the next morning! He lay in bed and heard voices singing a hymn. He got up and went down the hall and a religious service was being held and people were singing, “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you.” And he thought, “I was reared a Christian. Will God take care of me?” He went back to his room and in a moment of complete surrender gave his life to God. And the fog began to lift. In the days that followed he felt deep joy. Life and zest returned. He started traveling around talking about what God can do for human beings and became one of the most constructive men in the U.S.

So…turn to God. But then care for people like God cares for them. The Bible says love is the greatest. You won’t be lonely if you are really interested and love others. You won’t be bored and alone if you volunteer.

Love and help people and you will be happy your whole life, even when life is painful and hard. Love God and love people – the 2 greatest commandments.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 8

Chapter 10 – Your Life Can be Full of Joy

Joy increases as you give it. Joy can give you better health and stimulate your enthusiasm. There was a study done by a physician and a writer who found that 35 – 50% of ill people were sick principally because they were unhappy. There’s a curative power in getting patients to find some joy.

The Bible tells us often to rejoice. Joy and harmony are synonymous concepts. When you are in harmony your mind, body and soul operate as one.

How do you begin a practice of joy? How do you train yourself to live in joy?

First, simply learn to think joy. If you wish to live a certain way, think that way over a long period of time. Whether you want to be more calm or more courageous or funnier – it works for anything. Think persistently along the lines you desire and then begin to act on the supposition that you are just that. Act as though you felt the way you want to feel. Wake up thinking it’s going to be a great day and that you are glad to be alive. Think joyfully, talk joyfully, act joyfully and pretty soon you will be joyful!

But it’s not just thinking. You have to do too. If you are determined to improve yourself, your mind must be controlled by you instead of controlling you. The person who is used to thinking negatively may find this hard at first. Dr. Peale suggests they make a list of every joyful experience they’ve had at the end of each day. Then they should think about the experiences and relive them as they read their list.

Instead of thinking in terms of dissatisfaction, discontent and gloom, look for the joy in things so you’ll have something to write down! Here’s a great Bible verse to consider: John 13:17 “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” This means that the Bible tells us how to live right. If we aren’t obeying, if we live in fear or hate or doing things we’re ashamed of, we aren’t going to be happy. “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” We need to –

Quit hating people – start loving them.
Quit being mad at people – start liking them
Quit doing wrong – do right
Quit being fearful – trust God
Quit thinking of only yourself – go out and do something for others

We really do know how to be happy. We just have to do it!
And then – have Jesus in your life.
Christianity is a joyful faith. Look through the New Testament for references to joy. There are many. Share that joy with others.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 7

Chapter 9 - De-stressing

You may have read the inspirational magnets that say things like “Don’t try to control the wind – just control the sail.” Or “Don’t fight the waves – just get a surfboard and ride!”

Isaiah 30:15 says, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” So meditating, which we often hear is a stress reducer, is Biblical. Sitting in silence slows you down, lowers your blood pressure, gives you an opportunity to let problems settle and lets God’s healing quietness work.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Mental stress keeps us from thinking clearly. We need to think with our minds, not our emotions when it comes to solving problems.

Besides meditating: reading scripture daily can distress us. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.”

Guilt can make us tense. It can fester inside. We need to do whatever we can to remove the guilt, whether it’s forgiving someone, asking for forgiveness, keeping a promise, or whatever. Be absolutely honest with yourself and ask yourself, “Am I doing something that is wrong according to the laws of God and the teaching of the Lord Jesus?” Stress will leave when the moral wrong goes away. Ask God’s help to stop the wrong doing and for forgiveness and to make it right and to live right.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

There are also people who are just really negative. They complain all the time. They’ll give you a million reasons why something won’t work or why it’s not a good day. Sometimes they’re just stuck in that attitude. They don’t really enjoy being that way, but it’s habit. They don’t know how to change. But God is in the business of transforming minds and when you change your mind, you change your activity.