God’s Grace

A story is told of a poor lady who could not pay all her bills. Hearing of this woman’s distress, a kind-hearted gentleman came to her home intending to give help. After knocking at the door for some time and receiving no answer, he concluded that she was not at home and he went away.

Meeting this woman later that week he told her that he had stopped by her home to see her. “Oh,” she replied, “was that you? I am sorry. I thought it was the landlord who had come for the rent, and I was afraid to answer the door as I do not have the money I owe him.”

Just as this poor lady failed to open her door to the one wanting to help her, so thousands are treating God today. They think that when He knocks at the door of their hearts He has come to demand something from them, but what a mistake!

He comes to give, not to claim the debt you owe. He comes to deliver you from your distress and to grant you an eternal inheritance in heaven. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NKJV).

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20).

Will you open the door of your heart to the One who wants to help you with your every need? He is knocking right now, but for how long will He stand and wait? We can tell you how.

A Few Thoughts On Prophecy – Part Five

By Alfred Bouter

Having considered the greatness of our God and aspects of prophecy earlier in this Series, we turn our attention to the order of future prophetic events. We will consider them briefly, but further study is encouraged to the glory of God. 

Overview Of Future Prophetic Events

1. We witness the nation of Israel partly re-established, and in 1948 it became a political power. Part of Judah and Benjamin,1 with a portion of the Levites and some from the other tribes, re-gathered in the Promised Land, but mainly in unbelief with regard to the Lord Jesus as the Messiah (Isa. 18; Ezek. 37:1-14). The temple will be rebuilt, perhaps even before the rapture (1 Th. 4:16-18). In our century, a Sanhedrin – the Council of the religious leaders – was reinstituted in Galilee and then moved to Jerusalem. However, as long as Israel rejects the true Prince of Peace, there can be no real peace. We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).

2. Because of Israel’s hardening, having rejected the true Messiah and continuing to do so, a great apostate leader, rebellious to God, will arise with vast political, economic, military and religious powers – ultimately affecting the whole world (Dan. 11:36-39; Isa. 57:9; Zech. 11:15-17; Jn. 5:43; 2 Th. 2:3-12; 1 Jn. 2:18,22; Rev. 13:11-18). This leader is the “beast” that comes “out of the earth” presenting himself as Messiah, although he will be a counterfeit. We already see many preparations of these coming developments as shadows of coming events.2

3. At a certain moment after the rapture, a seven-year covenant will be imposed and signed between the leader of Israel (called “the many” and not including the true believers) and the leader of the Western world, or the revived Roman Empire, the beast out of the sea (Rev. 13; Dan. 9:27; Isa. 28:15, 57:9-11; Mt. 24:4-14).

4. Around the middle of those seven years Satan will be cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:9). The leader of the reinstituted Roman Empire, revived in a miraculous way, will make himself the object of worship in his empire, including Israel. At the same time Israel’s leader (the second beast) will have a share in this idolatry and will declare himself to be god, displaying himself as god in the temple and enforcing the worship of a counterfeit trinity (Satan, 1st beast and 2nd beast). All this is in opposition to God. Social, economic, religious and other means will be used to enforce worship and submission (2 Th. 2:4-12; Dan. 9:27, 11:38, 12:9-11; Mt. 24:15; Rev. 13:11-18; see Dan. 3-6).

The service of the true God in the temple will be stopped and replaced by the idolatry the Lord Jesus predicted (Mt. 24:15). According to His instructions, the believing remnant in Judea will flee (see Ps. 42-72). At the same time an important remnant will remain in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:1-14 – the two witnesses; see Zech. 4:11-14).

5. Because of this heinous idolatry, God’s chastisement will come over Israel – called His “indignation” – as He will send “a consumption” and “a flood” in the form of invasions by the kings of the South and of the North, in alliance with several nations (Ps. 83; Isa. 8:5-8, 10:5,28-32, 28:2,14-19; Dan. 9:27, 11:40; Zech. 14:1).

6. The alliance against Israel from the north will be supported by another power in the far north (Dan. 8:24; see Ezek. 38:1-8). Psalm 83 describes some aspects of such an alliance, possibly in preparation already.

7. This “axis of evil” is an alliance of attacking nations under the leadership of the king of the North and it will occupy Israel, even Jerusalem, in part or for a time. Then it will continue against Egypt (Isa. 10:24,32, 28:14-19; Dan. 11:40-43; Zech. 14:1). However, an alliance under the king of the South will attack Israel even before the king of the North does (Dan. 11:40). Daniel 11:1-35 details past historical events while verses 36-44 predict future events: the false king of Israel, the king of the South, the two attacks of the king of the North and his end.

8. The armies of the allied Western power (revived Roman Empire), according to the terms of the covenant with Israel, will finally arrive to help Israel. However, their ultimate goal is against the Lamb, so He will come (with us – the believers of the day of grace) from heaven to destroy the Western armies in the valley of Armageddon, which is the Jezreel valley in northern Israel. He will cast the two beasts – the western leader and the false prophet – alive into the “lake of fire” (Rev. 16:13-16, 17:7-14, 19:19-21; Dan. 2:34,44, 7:7-14; Isa. 31:8). Sometime earlier, the apostate church will be judged, first its religious power (Rev. 17) and then its political, economic and social powers (Rev. 18).

9. The king of the North with his armies will come back to Israel to besiege Jerusalem again (Dan. 11:44; Isa. 29:1-4), but he will soon perish because of the Lord’s intervention.

10. The Jewish nation and its leaders, under the pressure of the terrible attacks from the North, will turn to the Lord in true repentance and finally call for His return (Mt. 23:38; Zech. 12:10-14). Then the Lord Jesus will come down from heaven, together with His saints (Rev. 19:11-21), and His feet will stand on Mount Olivet (Zech. 14:3-7; Acts 1:11; Col. 3:4; 2 Th. 1:6-10).

11. The Messiah will destroy the king of the North and his armies at or close to Jerusalem (Isa. 10:5-27, 29:1-8, 30:27-33, 31:4-8; Dan. 8:20-26, 11:44). This coming destruction was illustrated in the annihilation of the armies of the king of Assyria in Hezekiah’s day (2 Ki. 19:35).

12. The apostate Jews, or “the many,” will be judged (Isa. 6:10-13, 17:4-6; Zeph. 3:11,15; Zech. 13:8, 14:1-15). No unbelieving Jew will enter the glorious millennial reign, but all the preserved ones of Israel will. They are the 144,000 sealed ones from all of Israel’s tribes (Rev. 7:1-8; Dan. 12:2).

13. The faithful remnant among the Jews, having passed through the great tribulation (the 144,000 of Rev. 14:1-5), will be rescued by the Lord (Isa. 10:20-27, 28:16, 29:1-8, 30:18-26; Mic. 5:1-8; Zeph. 3:12-20; Zech. 12:1-14) and then joined to the restored nation of Israel (Dan. 12:2-3). With them the Lord will start implementing His reign, as pictured by David and his heroes. The martyrs will rise and reign from heaven (Rev. 20:4).

14. This remnant will attack, judge and subject the surrounding nations, including the Palestinians (Isa. 11:11-16; Joel 3:4-8; Zeph. 2:5-7; Zech. 9:5-8). The Lord will judge the nations and separate “the sheep” from “the goats,” or the believers from the unbelievers of that time period (see Mt. 25:31-46). The “sheep” will enter the public reign of the Messiah on earth, and they are represented by the innumerable “great multitude” of Revelation 7.

15. A remnant of the Ten Tribes will be brought back to Israel (Ezek. 20; Isa. 49:22-25) after the unbelievers among them have been judged while they were still living among the nations. All this may occur within 45 days (Dan. 12:12).

16. After this, a tremendous power from the extreme north (Gog and Magog, with their supporters) will attack Israel shortly after the beginning of Christ’s reign. However, the attackers will fall on the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 38-39). This is not the same attack as described in the last part of Revelation 20, which will take place at the end of the thousand years of peace.

17. The Lord’s reign over Israel will be acknowledged by the whole world, after the spiritual and national regeneration of Israel. That is why there can be no peace before Israel submits to the Prince of Peace; and it is why all human efforts, as in our days before the rapture, are doomed to fail. His blessed reign is described in many Scriptures (for example: Isa. 2:1-5, 11:1-10, 29:17-24, 30:1-8, 35:1-10; Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 36-37; Zech. 8, 14; Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 20:1-6). During that rule of peace, Satan and all his forces will be bound and have no influence on earth (Rev. 20:1-3). Furthermore, all public sin and rebellion will be judged immediately (Ps. 101:8; Isa. 65:20).

18. Special restoration is predicted for Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Persia. Also the Palestinians will live in peace with Israel (see Isa. 19:16-25; Jer. 46:25-26, 48:47, 49:6,39).

19. The functions of the Church with its heavenly calling and position, as well as the restored nation of Israel on earth during the millennial reign, are summarized in Revelation 21:9-27 and 22:1-5. The Old Testament prophets were not instructed in the things about the Church, but other aspects of that period are described in many portions of the Old Testament (Isa. 66; Ps. 2, 8, 45, 72; Zech. 8 and many more). The blessings of this reign are also called “new heavens” and “a new earth” (Isa. 65:17, 66:22) because righteousness will reign (see Phil. 2:10-11). This is not to be confused with the eternal state (Rev. 21:1-8). Today, grace reigns through righteousness(Rom. 5:21).

20. After the thousand years of peace, Satan will be released from prison and will seduce the nations – his last seduction. This will affect all who are under 100 years old, because those who will not publicly confess the Lord will be killed by the age of 100 years (Isa. 65:20). This global uprising represents the final attack against Jerusalem (Rev. 20:1-10), which is the city of the great King (Ps. 48).

21. At the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15; see Acts 17:31, Jn. 5:22) earth and heaven will flee away. A new and eternal order, the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:1-8) will be entirely in tune with God: righteousness will dwell – true harmony. All unrighteousness will be restricted to the “lake of fire” (see 2 Pet. 3:7,10,13). God will be all and in all (1 Cor. 15:28)!

In connection with the new heaven and new earth, the Church (the Bride) will have a unique public role in the eternal state (Rev. 21:2-3).


By Leslie M. Grant

“And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” —Zechariah 12:3 NKJV

Zechariah, meaning “Jehovah remembers,” served the Lord at the same time as Haggai and focused his writing on Jerusalem. He reminded the people of God’s displeasure with their fathers as the reason for the punishment and bondage they had already experienced, an evident warning of what the city would yet suffer if they were like their fathers (1:4).

The prophecy then goes on to show how the eyes of God take account of the guilt of Jerusalem and of those nations who “would heave it away” (12:3). Jerusalem is God’s earthly center, and He will not tolerate the proud interference of men, whether in antagonism or patronizing protection of the city. It is God who will deal with and purge Jerusalem. The great Messiah whom the people had pierced will appear to them in the city and produce a profound repentance that nothing else could create (12:9-14). Then He will go forth and fight, and Judah will fight with Him against their oppressing enemies. Jerusalem will be the great center of all the earth, with every nation yielding allegiance to her – the city of the great King (14:1-21).

Let this speak to our hearts today, understanding that God’s center for His Church is not on earth but in heaven. That center is the blessed person of the risen Lord. God will tolerate neither rivals nor substitutes for this glorious Center.

Resolving Family Conflicts

By Emmanuel V. John

Last month we considered several techniques to aid in resolving family conflicts using the “REL” in the word “RELATIONSHIP.” As a reminder, the acrostic is shown below. This month we continue by beginning with the letter “A.” 

RRespect the person, recognize the conflict and draw resources from God.
EEvaluate the situation and establish new principles for marital and family relationships.
LLet go of resentment, initiate love and clarify roles.
AApproach the situation with a positive attitude and be accessible to one another.
TTackle the problems and put on virtues.
IImprove communication skills.
OOvercome criticism and negativism by intellectual and spiritual intervention.
NName the problem and nurture the family relationships.
SStart again to build the relationship.
HHelp each other in a humble manner.
IIntervene early in the conflict to begin positive changes.
PPromote problem solving skills.

Approach The Situation With A Positive Attitude And Be Accessible To One Another
One’s approach, attitude and accessibility to another are very important in resolving relationship conflicts. Knowledge without love may cause one to say the right thing but in a wrong manner. This is not communication! We live in a world where everyone has something to say but no one has time to listen. As a result, the family has difficulty in resolving conflicts. It is important for the husband to be available and accessible to the wife and children, and vice versa. The heart cry of so many is not for loved ones to give presents to compensate for their lack of availability, but it is for their presence in order that communication and sharing of emotions can take place.

Many husbands are busy with their jobs to such an extent that the family is given the leftovers. The situation is like a husband going to a restaurant, enjoying a delicious meal and then asking the server to put his remaining food in a bag to take home as a gift to his wife. Such husbands spend most of their time immersed in their jobs and hobbies and then have no time for their wives and children.

In order to resolve conflicts, husbands and wives should be available and accessible to each other and to the children. This accessibility can promote enjoyment between family members. If the husband is home he is available to demonstrate spiritual leadership, can listen to and show respect for his wife and children, and is able to properly discipline the children. When conflicts are resolved in a calm, cooperative and prayerful manner, a healthy relationship is maintained.

Tackle The Problems And Put On Virtues 
Deal with conflict as soon as possible by attacking the problem, not the person! It is often “the little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song 2:15 NKJV). When small, seemingly unimportant incidents are left unresolved, they accumulate and result in an explosion which can lead to a breakdown in the family’s relationships.

Tackling conflicts in an early stage can slow or even prevent worse things from developing. Instead, there can be a continued development and display of virtues – things that are good and profitable – in the relationship. When we turn our wills and lives over to God, He gives us the power to work through the conflicts and overcome the old patterns of dysfunctional behavior. We then are encouraged to tackle and eliminate the emotional disturbances in our own lives and thus promote harmony. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another” (Col. 3:8-9). This means that God insists that we recognize our own weaknesses, renounce and release them by receiving God’s forgiveness, forgiving each other and ourselves. We may not forget the hurt experienced from past conflicts, but in fulfilling these verses we will not dwell on the past failures or repeatedly remind each other of them.

Therefore bad behaviors and practices can be replaced by virtues to promote family relationships, and these virtues should be implemented as soon as possible. Put on the following virtues:

  • Compassion – displaying mercy or tenderness instead of being judgmental or rigid.
  • Kindness – the opposite of selfishness.
  • Humility – as opposed to pride.
  • Gentleness – in contrast to self-assertiveness.
  • Patience – not overreacting to conflicts, but reflecting love in action in conflict resolution.
  • Forbearance – demonstrating tolerance in working through conflicts.
  • Forgiveness – not holding any charges against the person who has confessed his or her faults. Remember, this is not optional – it is God’s command.
  • Love – looking beyond faults while recognizing needs and initiating the necessary sacrifices to improve the relationship.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (vv.12-14).

Improve Communication Skills 
Communication is vital in all family relationships. We are always communicating, whether with spoken or body language. The important thing, however, is what and how we communicate. The breakdown in communication continues to be the major underlying conflict in relationships, and gossip should always be avoided. Four simple ways of effective communication are:

  • To say what we mean and mean what we say,
  • To attack the problem and not the person,
  • To agree to disagree so there is no power struggle, and
  • To communicate in love.

As human beings we need to communicate our feelings, objectives, expectations, goals and the like. Hence, a breakdown in communication has significant consequences. Such a breakdown can occur in a number of ways. Sometimes family members verbalize their negative feelings in the wrong manner which then triggers more conflicts. At other times they express positive feelings but with the wrong attitude, arousing defense mechanisms or anger. Further, two family members may be so occupied with negative actions that they are not tuned in to hear what the other person is saying. In his book, Speaking From The Heart, Ken Durham presents five suggestions for conflict resolution that show the importance of communication:

  • Focus on one issue at a time.
  • Deal with conflict before things reach the boiling point.
  • Open up and talk about it.
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • No cheap shots.1

In my own work with families, I have discovered four patterns of communication:

  1. Confrontational communication occurs when one family member attacks another instead of attacking the problem. This is typically seen when the husband stands face to face with his wife and threatens her. Remember that Cain was angry and envious of Abel his brother because Abel’s gift was accepted by God: “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and … Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him” (Gen. 4:8).
  2. Conflicting communication is when, for example, the father says one thing with words while the mother gives the opposite message by her posture. The conflict may be heard and seen in one person as well, as shown in the communication of Lot with his family. He tried to convince his sons-in-law concerning the pending judgment of Sodom. “So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, ‘Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!’ But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking” (19:14). Lot’s behavior at that time did not match his words. Moreover, while Lot was escaping and looking ahead, his wife looked backward, resulting in her immediate death (v.26).
  3. Conspiring communication is manifested when, for example, the wife and children agree to attack the father. We are reminded of Miriam and Aaron who conspired against Moses, their brother, because he chose a wife who was from a different ethnic background. As a result of the conspiracy, they suffered significant consequences: “Suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper” (Num. 12:10).
  4. Cooperative communication takes place when the family attacks the problem together. This means that the husband takes the leadership role and the wife stands by his side, being very supportive of what is right. Both the husband and wife remain side by side, looking at the same problem and verbalizing their ideas of how the conflict should be resolved. They are able to listen to each other, accept differences of opinion and agree on the best solution. This reminds me of Eve who was taken from Adam’s side to facilitate togetherness as displayed in side by side communication.

The most effective ingredient in communication is love. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). One of the great experts in communication, Howard G. Hendricks, said that communication must not be faked, but it should be done in love. He concluded, “You cannot communicate in depth to a person until you love him. And the more you love him, the more you will communicate.” 2 Thus, one of the powerful techniques in conflict resolution is being able to communicate one’s feelings when necessary, in truth and love.

Overcome Criticism And Negativism Through Intellectual And Spiritual Intervention 
Many family members focus on each other’s negatives or weaknesses rather than on the strengths. Society focuses on negativism. In the family, constant criticism leads to feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, inadequacy and fear of rejection. However, criticism can be eliminated by restructuring one’s cognitive, or thinking process, to respect others – highly valuing the family and giving approval, acceptance and encouragement.

It is possible to overcome criticism by the power of the Holy Spirit. One does not ignore his or her weaknesses, but he focuses on strengths to overcome them. Hence, instead of worrying about things that are not done, one appreciates the good that is done. By doing this, one can maintain a positive attitude and compliment rather than criticize. Josh McDowell concluded “that relationship with God is the starting point to find love, for I will never be separated from God’s love.” 3 Thus, criticism and negativism can be overcome by accepting God’s healing love and by proper thinking.

Name The Problem And Nurture The Family Relationships 
Because of the complexities of family relationships and the constant changes of life, conflict resolution is a continual process. Therefore, instead of using the defense mechanisms of denial and avoidance, one should name the problem, confront each situation calmly and provide moral support for each other. This means sharing the various aspects of family life between husband and wife. H. Norman Wright stresses that “the presence of Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and intense effort and work dedicated to the application of Scripture can bring stability, growth and mutual satisfaction into a marital relationship.” 4 This technique identifies the problem and reassures continued support to help speed conflict resolution without any fear of rejection or abandonment.

Start Again To Build The Relationship 
Starting over requires both spouses to work through the “pain of holding on” to past conflicts and “the panic of letting go” of them. It may be difficult for a wife and husband to forgive each other. However, once the process of forgiveness has begun, it is important not to bury a dead dog with its tail hanging out, as the old saying goes. Although it takes time for damaged emotions to heal, one should be willing to commit to the Lord the entire painful situation that has been resolved and not dwell or hold on to it. Some family members are afraid to let go of their painful experiences because retaining them seems to justify their present negative reactions. Letting go does not simply mean forgetting the hurt (which is essentially impossible), but laying hold on God’s promises and “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

Starting over also implies a reflection on the family’s past joys and pleasant experiences. It recognizes the time and conditions when the relationship began to weaken and conflicts were left unresolved. But one begins where one currently is in the relationship, knowing that he or she cannot change the past. A person can only prevent the past conflicts from affecting the present.

When driving a car it is important to glance in the mirror to see the past – the traffic behind. But to be preoccupied with looking in the mirror could result in a crash. Glancing at the speedometer to see the present speed is also important, but to simply focus on the speedometer also can be dangerous. One has to spend most of the time looking where one is going. So, like driving a car, a spouse needs to glance at the mirror to see the past and at the speedometer to see the present, but he or she needs to spend most of the time looking ahead in the direction the family situation is going.

One should not use today’s energy to regret the past or be overly concerned about tomorrow, but use it to solve today’s conflicts. Charles Swindoll concluded that if one knows the Lord Jesus, then “fix your eyes on Him and refuse to give up or turn back. If not, STOP! Give Him your struggles and receive Him as Lord and Savior by faith. He has all the strength you need to keep you on your road.” 5

Help Each Other In A Humble Manner 
Many families are too proud to face the reality of their problems. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Hence, humility is vitally important in conflict resolution. Ego needs to be deflated and a person feel powerless before there is full dependence on God. The center letter of “pride” is “I,” whereas with “humility,” the letter “U” comes before “I.” Helping each other in the problem-solving process encourages trust and a strong support system. Members are able to share all their joys, sorrows and expectations together.

Intervene Early In The Conflict To Begin Positive Changes 
Many spouses have conflicts that result from problems earlier in their lives. A husband or wife might have been brought up in a miserable family setting that abounded with resentment, explosive anger, abuse, addiction and abandonment. That person may struggle with low self-esteem, sensitivity to rejection, fear of abandonment and repressed feelings of anger. No matter if one was brought up in a miserable or a happy family, internal changes are needed because of the sinful nature of all humans.

When one turns his or her life and will over to God, He produces changes within the heart which are manifested in behavior. These changes create a feeling of intimacy with God and the family. As a result, the negative emotions which were experienced in the early family system are not transferred into the present relationship with the same intensity. When negative emotions still surface, the individual is able to take control of them with God’s help. The family therefore experiences a transformation which produces intimacy, openness, honesty and love.

Many families attempt to resolve conflicts superficially, but it is vital to work through the cause of conflicts and not just the symptoms. One needs to face the reality of his or her internal life, identify the problems and seek God’s help in making positive changes.

Promote Problem Solving Skills 
The things which break our bodies and crush our spirits are not necessarily our daily tasks, but our tensions and worries about our future. I have found that prayer, devotion and Christian counseling can play a vital role in resolving tensions within the family system. Be encouraged to pray to God! “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn. 16:24).

It is said that “the family that prays together stays together.” It is truly therapeutic to pray sincerely to God at any time, anywhere, under any circumstance and in any position, whether verbally or silently. Prayer diminishes despair. In addition to personal prayer, family prayer and devotions help resolve conflicts and maintain a healthy family relationship. Regardless of the conflicts, the Lord Jesus Christ understands and cares. “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Remember that God also uses others to help us resolve our conflicts. When one stands close to a tall building the top seems almost insurmountable, but when the building is viewed from a distance, it doesn’t seem as tall because the perception changes. Similarly, when one is close to a family problem, it seems overwhelming. Therefore, when the family is unable to resolve the conflict they should seek out a Christian counselor who is able to help them work through the problem from an objective, biblical perspective.

It is not our action but our reaction to problems that is important, and conflict resolution demands time, energy, sacrifice and some pain. But the end result is always worth it because of the restored joy in the family.

Our society is swamped with information on the family yet starved for wisdom in resolving conflicts. Knowledge may be acquired from books but wisdom comes from God. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge properly. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Jas. 1:5). We need help from above to deal with the problems below. As we draw resources from God we are able to break down long-standing barriers in our lives.

Concluding Thoughts 
The family remains the foundation of our society. If the family is weak then the whole nation is weak. Factors which cause conflicts date back to the fall of man, and that seed of deception has been the dominant force in the destruction of the family. Our problems have their roots in sin and our sinful nature (Rom. 5:12-21), but there is hope.

Perhaps, with all of a family’s problems identified, one might say, “God can’t really resolve all the conflicts in the relationship.” But, God can! How? The answer is found in this same word “HOW.” Be …

  • H-onest with God, with yourself and with each other,
  • O-pen to God’s will, and
  • W-illing to initiate changes in the relationship.

These techniques, when put into operation, will maintain and move the family along in the right direction on the highway to a happier relationship – and one that pleases God.

Now that I am saved, what should I do?

By H. Kempton Smalling

QUESTION:Now that I am saved, what should I do?

ANSWER: Your recent confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior has brought joy to our hearts and to the angels in heaven (Lk. 15:7). The Bible refers to conversion as “new birth.” You are therefore now an infant in Christ. The Lord wants you to grow into a mature Christian, and to assist in that process He has provided “the sincere milk of the word,” which is the Bible (1 Pet. 2:2).

While your conversion might not have been as dramatic as that of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9), it was just as effective. As a work of the Spirit it may be likened to the activity of the wind (Jn. 3:8), which sometimes comes in the form of a hurricane and sometimes as a gentle breeze.

Let’s look at some of the things that followed the conversion of Saul, who was later called Paul.

  • He was no longer able to act in his own power. Someone had to lead him (Acts 9:8).
  • He prayed (v.11). This activity is going to be as important to you as it was to Paul. Be a praying Christian. While Paul was praying the Lord directed Ananias to him (v.12). You will find that the blessings and effectiveness of a life of prayer are amazing and wonderful! For some examples, read Acts 4:31, 12:5-11 and 16:25-29.
  • Paul needed spiritual help from one who was more mature in the faith. God provided this through Ananias. Perhaps you too will have questions concerning the Bible and the Christian life. Do not hesitate to ask someone wise in the faith.
  • Because of Paul’s past conduct, others doubted the reality of his conversion (v.13). This could also be your experience. If this happens do not become discouraged and give up. Paul did not. In fact, like him you are a chosen vessel (Eph. 1:4). All you need to do now is to show by the way you live that you are a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • Notice that the Christian experience is not without suffering (Acts 9:16).
  • Paul’s baptism is mentioned in Acts 9:18. You too should get baptized. It is both a testimony and act of obedience.
  • He needed Christian fellowship. That is why he found himself in the company of other believers (v.19). It is very important that you find others with whom you can enjoy times of fellowship. This will help to strengthen you spiritually.
  • Later, when he returned to Jerusalem, he did not seek the company of religious leaders or the high priest but of the true followers of Jesus Christ, His disciples (v.26). Always make an effort to seek the fellowship of other believers.
  • Acts 9:20 tells of Saul’s preaching the Word of God at Damascus. This was quite a change for a man who had set out for Damascus to persecute any who followed Christ. You too are encouraged to share with others the fact that you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. It could mean hardships, but the Lord will help you (v.25).
  • Paul returned to his home at Tarsus (v.30). This is sometimes a big challenge: to return to your own home and family and to witness to them (Mk. 5:18-19). It takes a lot of courage since we are often fearful of the reactions from those who know us best. It is true that some will ridicule and maybe ostracize you, but make a start. These difficulties will soon disappear or be reduced to a point where you can handle them. This is a part of the growth process.

The Lord bless you. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

Hannah And Samuel


By Ernst-August Bremicker

Many readers of the Bible know the story of Hannah and Samuel as it is told to us in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah had prayed for a son, and God answered her prayer. Therefore she named him Samuel, meaning “heard by God.” For a time, until he was weaned, Hannah kept him at home with her; then she fulfilled a vow she had made by bringing Samuel to Eli the priest at Shiloh. It was there that Samuel was to appear and remain before the LORD (v.22).

Let’s see what we can learn from Hannah with regard to our children. I would like to refer to the great objective of a biblically oriented upbringing and then point out four steps to this goal. In doing this we do not merely want to see Hannah as a picture of a mother who is a believer, but we want to consider what she did and apply it to us who are parents or youth workers.

The Great Objective Of Biblically Oriented Upbringing Of Children 
Hannah had a great desire: Samuel should be brought into the house of God and there appear before the LORD. He should remain and be useful. Hannah’s desire was fulfilled and Samuel became a servant of the LORD, worshiping Him at Shiloh. Samuel also became a prophet, through whom God spoke to His people and who spoke to God on behalf of the people.

In the New Testament, God demands that we bring up our children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4 NKJV). This instruction is given especially to fathers for they bear this responsibility before God, but of course it applies to mothers as well. Bringing up children has various objectives. Naturally we would like to see them learning what is useful for living here on earth. General knowledge, specific skills and social competence are all indispensible for life. Virtues such as thankfulness, courtesy, kindness, diligence, orderliness and punctuality should not be missing from the teaching program. That we should be examples in these things goes without saying. But this is not the most important objective. The story of Hannah and Samuel teaches us what matters most about our children:

  • They should be brought to the Lord Jesus. When the Lord Jesus was here on earth He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them” (Mt. 19:14). We have the lovely task of bringing children to Jesus, causing them to come into contact with Him early and be blessed by Him. This is our first and most important objective. Our children should receive Him as their Savior, yet each child must get saved personally. As parents we can either support and help them, or – for example, by unloving, selfish behavior – be a hindrance or stumbling block to them.
  • They should remain with Him. If our children have received the Lord Jesus as their Savior they should get to know Him better. To remain with Him means to learn to know and treasure fellowship with Him. We should guide our children to read God’s Word and carry on a personal prayer life. Thus they will get to know Him more and more.
  • They should be useful for Him. The service of God has two major aspects. First of all, there is the aspect of worship in the narrow sense, meaning that our children learn to worship the Lord. Samuel already was doing this at an early age (1 Sam. 1:28). While children learn what worship is during meetings of the local church, the principal place of such learning is at home in the presence of their parents. Secondly, service for God consists of being useful instruments for Him, at His disposal for whatever tasks He may give. Our children and young people should not just come to know Jesus as their Savior; they should also know Him as their Lord, whom they follow and serve.

Hannah’s longing was fulfilled. The Scripture says, “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men” (2:26) and, “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli” (3:1).

Four Steps To The Goal 
We may now ask how Samuel’s parents reached their goal of having their son become a man of God. At the same time we fully understand that God had His hand in the matter. For Samuel to become what he became was pure grace. If our children’s upbringing shows the result we desired, this is nothing but grace. We did not do even one thing to merit it. But may we never use grace as an excuse not to live up to our responsibility. Let’s look at Hannah and her responsibility, for it is no different with us:

  1. Hannah nursed her son (1:23). This is nothing unusual of course, but at that time this was the only possible way of nourishing a little child. In application to ourselves we learn that spiritual nourishment is absolutely necessary for our children. We cannot begin too early to acquaint our children with the “pure milk of the Word” of God (1 Pet. 2:2). Only then can they make spiritual progress. 
    Let’s keep in mind that mother’s milk is something that has first been formed within the mother herself. We don’t give our children “spiritual canned goods.” Instead, we want to give them what has become important to us and that we are happy to practice ourselves. We do not give the food meant for them to another, having carefully provided the right amount, adjusted to the child’s age and appetite.
  2. Hannah weaned her son (1:23). Important as nourishing children with their mother’s milk may be, it is equally vital that the time come when they are weaned from it. Children must learn to eat by themselves. Applying this practically we must pay attention that our children not only learn to do their daily tasks by themselves, but they must learn as early as possible to establish their own relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is good for us to help them pray and read the Bible for themselves as soon as possible. Even if they have not yet been saved, this is ever to be desired. Weaning the child should not be done abruptly, but it should be a process over a period of time.
  3. Hannah accompanied her son (v.24). The day came for Samuel to leave his parents’ home to stand on his own two feet, but Hannah went with him. As parents we know such moments in our natural lives. We remember our children’s first school days, first workdays and their wedding days. The time comes when we must let go bit by bit. This is not always easy, but in this way we help our children to become independent. 
    It should not be different in their spiritual life. The moment when children receive the Savior and want to serve Him, the time has come in which they start to lead their own spiritual lives and make their own experiences with the Lord. Let us encourage them in this and attentively walk with them. Going along with them on the one hand consists of giving counsel and support, and on the other hand of praying for them. We find something similar in the lives of Moses’ parents. They committed their son to the protection of the little basket – a picture of the Lord Jesus who alone can take care of our children – but at the same time they did not neglect to keep a watchful eye on it (Ex. 2:1-10).
  4. Hannah let go of her son (1 Sam. 1:28). We can easily imagine how difficult it must have been for Hannah to leave her son behind at Shiloh as she had promised God. Children are not given to us as an end in itself. They are a wonderful gift of God – but only for a time! We cannot keep them for ourselves. Therefore let us gladly give them to Him, even if it is difficult for us. When Samuel no longer was living at home, Hannah did not forget her far away son. She regularly looked in on him, bringing a new garment year by year (2:19). When he was still little, she had nursed him and had provided for his inner growth; now she was mindful of the testimony that he bore outwardly. May we let go of our children when they get older, yet at the same time continue to care for their well-being.

After we read of Samuel’s beginning his service before God and for God, Hannah eventually disappears fully from our view. In 1 Samuel 2, besides her annually making a robe for Samuel, only two things are mentioned about Hannah: her profound prayer (vv.1-10) and the fact that God gave her five additional children (v.21). The Lord did not let this faithful woman’s faith go unrewarded. Then we read no more about her. We should not lose contact with our grown children, nevertheless we should step back and fully let them go when the time has come that they are leading their own independent spiritual lives.

To Sum Up 
What Hannah did she did out of love. She had a clear perspective with regard to her son, and what she had promised God she kept. Her love for her son was expressed in carefulness, wisdom and self-denial.

God identifies Himself with this God-fearing woman and His actions give us direction. May He still grant us as parents and youth workers this perspective as we consider the children and young people He has placed in our care!

Growth And Change

By Stephen Campbell

What does a caterpillar think when it sees a butterfly? We might imagine that the caterpillar can’t wait to get its wings! For that to happen, there is an amazing process of change. Through a quiet, private time of development, an earth-bound crawler becomes a beautiful, independent, free-flying creature. This natural process is an excellent metaphor for the development which every Christian ought to experience as we move out of childhood, through our teen years and into adulthood. It is challenging to take on new responsibilities and see the world through more mature eyes, recognizing the reality of life’s complications and the world’s evils. But where there are challenges, there are opportunities! The Bible presents very helpful guidelines about these aspects of life as we grow and mature.

A Moral Contest 
One of the most significant principles spreads itself like a shade tree over much of our Christian lives. Hebrews 5:14 defines mature Christians this way: “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (NKJV). This type of exercise refers to intense, dedicated athletic training. Athletes who participate in competition will rearrange their entire lives in order to compete successfully. Christians should anticipate a moral contest of even greater intensity, and therefore we need to train our senses to determine what is good. We do not define what is good because God has done that in His Word; but we must discern what is good, applying His Word to our circumstances and beliefs about life. This is a Spirit-guided habit of mind as we learn to evaluate the options we face. Some alternatives are truly evil, and some are inherently good. Other choices may simply be a waste of time since even certain activities that are acceptable in themselves can become a weight on our spiritual lives (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23).

Notice how our verse in Hebrews 5 emphasizes that this discernment develops only through frequent use. Christians who merely float with the current of life, accepting what comes without ever flexing this muscle of spiritual analysis, will never advance to maturity. This happens often, unfortunately, and many Christians reach older ages physically without developing at the same pace spiritually. It is healthy for young Christians to resolve, or deliberately decide, never to become lazy, indifferent middle-aged Christians. God will always provide guidance for that kind of determination. The teenager Daniel purposed in his heart to follow God’s Word, and as a result God established Daniel’s service into his old age (Dan. 1:8,17,21). Even though Daniel was immersed in Babylonian culture in many ways, he knew how to identify and avoid the things that were sinful.

Connected with this habit of discernment is the reality that the world is always changing. Every generation of Christians will be confronted with obstacles that the previous generation did not experience in the same way. Careers change, technology develops, cultural norms shift and morality is redefined. Some of these alterations are not bad, just different; but others actually attack the underpinnings of the Christian faith. As we develop Christian maturity we learn to make distinctions between the changes.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about this process in 2 Timothy 3:10-17. Timothy had already received good teaching from Paul and others, which formed his foundation. However, because evil would continue to advance, Timothy had to understand how to continue in what he had learned (vv.13-14). Every believer needs to develop a Christian perspective that properly applies the Scriptures to new situations. It is a process of continual renewal that identifies what those biblical principles mean in the contemporary world.

Growth Areas 
Among all the experiences of the Christian life, this aspect of moral development is perhaps the most essential. It starts with the smallest of decisions, such as being honest and becoming known as a person of integrity. Keep your promises; be a dependable worker; avoid impure conversations and flee sexual temptations. Just as you might be diligent in a habit of physical exercise, remember that daily spiritual exercise is the only way to train your senses so they can discern good and evil.

Other aspects of maturity grow out of this moral development. Here are a few of them:

  • Develop financially. Learn to manage money, saving it wisely and spending it well. Don’t buy junk or be tempted by luxury. Realize that cars, apartments and adult responsibilities are a constant money drain; prepare for those future demands. Learn to be generous when others have needs. Many sorrows come to those who hoard money because they love the idea of being rich (1 Tim. 6:9-10); but the Lord blesses those who have learned to be generous stewards of what He has provided (Prov. 11:25).
  • Develop relationally. Be kind. Learn to make conversation with both friends and strangers. Show interest in others by asking about their lives rather than talking about yourself (Phil. 2:4). Compliment and thank those who accomplish good things. Learn to handle conflicts by addressing rather than ignoring them. Furthermore, if the Lord brings a potential spouse into your life, identify important spiritual qualities before seeking to deepen that relationship. If the Lord continues to guide you together, don’t shy away from marriage (Prov. 18:22).
  • Develop physically. Take care of your health. Eat well and stay in good physical condition. Accept the body God gave you, but don’t make excuses that lead to bad physical habits. Understand that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and therefore avoid drunkenness and other influences which damage that dwelling place (Eph. 5:18). Stay physically active; laziness is a habit that feeds on itself and leads only to ruin (Prov. 24:30-34).
  • Develop spiritually. This is the culmination of mature development. Learn the major doctrines of the Bible and their relevance to daily life. Recognize that the Scriptures are as important to the spirit as milk and food are to the body. Distinguish between living by faith and living by sight, and obey God’s instructions despite outside influences. Seek to know your spiritual gift; then stir it up so you become a giver in the body of Christ, not just a receiver. Whether you are a man or a woman, learn what it means to be a spiritual priest, cultivating a spirit of worship as you fulfill all roles the Lord has given you (1 Pet. 2:5-9).

As you develop in all these aspects of life it may surprise you that many of your Christian friends might be unwilling to travel that road with you. They may even disapprove of your focus and determination. In reality it has always been that way. For instance, the apostle Paul deeply appreciated Timothy’s companionship in service, but he added that very few people had matured to the extent of this younger believer. To paraphrase Paul’s words in Philippians 2:19-21, “Timothy truly cares about the Lord’s people, but it seems at though no one else does. Everyone else pays more attention to their own concerns than to the interests of Christ Jesus!” It may sometimes seem to you that remaining devoted to the Lord is a lonely life, but be encouraged! When your ordinary life is yielded to Him, He will accomplish lasting results through you in the lives of others.

A Note For Teachers 
It would be good at this point to add a few encouragements for older Christians too. While those who are older often have a genuine desire to assist younger believers, we often act as if we believe they are second-class Christians. For example, have you ever heard the sentence, “Here is a point I would like to make for the young people”? Although well-intentioned, statements like this imply that teenagers and college students are somewhat immature and therefore have probably not been able to understand the previous comments – but now, at last, here is a thought that is finally simple enough for them. That is actually rather demeaning, isn’t it? On the other hand, if the previous comments have indeed been obscure and hard to understand, it might surprise the speaker to know that the young people are not the only ones who have been waiting for clearer teaching!

Along the same lines, it is helpful to recognize that the principles which benefit young people are important for all Christians. When believers of different ages are assembled together to hear God’s Word, those who teach the Scriptures would do well to avoid preaching specifically to the young people. If a point is presented in the context of teenagers and their decisions, it should also be specifically applied to other ages and stages of life. A few Bible passages do indeed emphasize younger believers, but for the most part all Christians need the same spiritual guidelines. Remember that lambs primarily need food, while it is the mature sheep who need oversight and guidance from the shepherd (Jn. 21:15-16). Adults have many more opportunities to go astray! Let’s not focus our teaching on young people in a style that implies we can barely trust them to make spiritual decisions. In fact, it is more likely that older brothers and sisters need to be reminded to live not for this world but for the world that is to come.

Moreover, those who speak to young people often review their own experiences when they were the same age. While this can be helpful, it is important to remember that every generation faces unique circumstances. Categories of temptation and sin are always the same; but the world which teenagers, university students and young adults inhabit is not the world of 50 years ago or even 15 years ago. Therefore it is important to acknowledge that the spirit of the age has changed; things previously considered shameful are celebrated today, and vice versa. Recognize that young people have to apply the Scriptures in their world, not ours. However, it’s beautiful to offer the eternal Word of God as the changeless foundation for every generation! What a privilege to establish students and twenty-somethings in their faith and in “the present truth” which is relevant in every era (2 Pet. 1:12).

The Biblical Worldview 
Returning to our encouragement for students and young adults, it is a powerful thing to recognize that God is at work in your life at every age. Reviewing the aspects of moral, physical and spiritual development, we see clearly that not one of them requires a special calling. Instead, all of them are simply normal aspects of life that have been brought under the authority of Christ – and that is a lifestyle which every believer can pursue.

No caterpillar ever becomes ready in an instant for butterfly wings. Metamorphosis is required, and it’s a transformative process that initiates a complete turnabout in focus, habit and lifestyle. But that transformation is precisely the proof that God is at work! When the butterfly emerges it is no longer a creeper upon the earth, rather it is a creature of the sky. In the same way, with the help of the Lord, every Christian who develops a biblical perspective of the world will live for God effectively and powerfully in daily life. May the Lord guide your daily activities as you seek Him.

Advice For Youth

By Richard Barnett

The Bible prophesied that “knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12:4 KJV). This truth is evident in the large numbers – more than ever before – of colleges, universities and other institutions for learning as well as in the millions of students, young and old, enrolled in various programs of study.

Congratulations, if you are getting ready to enter high school or pursue a post-secondary education. I cannot stress enough the value of a good education, especially in a very competitive work environment where the most qualified get the best jobs. Your decision to go to college or university may have been influenced by your parents who want to see you excel academically, or it may be tied to a goal you have set for yourself. Skills are in demand, and those with a preferred college diploma can usually expect their earning capability to increase significantly. There are, however, three areas in which you should be on guard, whether you are in high school, trade school, college or university.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” —2 Timothy 3:14

Many college students who grew up in Christian homes and went to Sunday school and church meetings will stop gathering with believers. Some even abandon their Christian beliefs. This alarming fact may be the result of the atheistic and philosophic teachings of some professors, which can only be resisted by being solidly grounded in the Christian faith. One’s departure may also be the result of pressure to be accepted by fellow-students or an act of rebellion against parents.

On the other hand, a Christian upbringing has helped many students maintain their faith while furthering their education. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, with the exception of the Lord Jesus, and his advice to you as a young man or woman is: “Hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Prov. 1:8). Young Timothy had been taught the Holy Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5, 3:15). At a time when many were turning away from the faith, Paul encouraged him to hold fast and to continue in the things which he had been taught and heard.

Daniel, a teenager who was forcibly taken from his country, home and family, had to learn a new language and was educated in a corrupt, Babylonian system. He could have reasoned like others have done, “Why do I have to be so careful about my upbringing? After all, I am in a strange country and no one knows me here. I will get by much easier if I conform to the culture and embrace their godless teaching.” That, however, was not the path Daniel chose in his new surroundings. In fact, he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat or with the wine which he [the king] drank” (Dan. 1:8). The king’s “meat” and “wine” represent the best that this world has to offer, but “what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36). Nothing in this world can be compared with the blessings God has bestowed on us through Christ. Daniel took a stand for God in a godless environment, and God blessed him for it. Furthermore, he refused to submit to the idols of the land, continuing his exemplary habit of praying to the Lord three times a day.

Many idols such as power, possessions and pleasures exist today, and care must be taken that they do not draw away your love for the Lord. Therefore I urge you not to compromise by giving up what you have been taught in the Word of God. Rather, let that instruction be your safeguard while you pursue your education, and God will honor you for it.

“Flee also youthful lusts.” —2 Timothy 2:22

It is not unusual to hear of sexual harassment and attacks on college campuses. The use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs is often directly related to these incidents as well as to other immoral decisions among young people. This connection is not surprising because the very wise and up-to-date Word of God showed long ago the link between drunkenness and sex: “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling [shallow, foolish talk]? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse [wrong, shameful] things” (Prov. 23:29-33, italics added for emphasis).

Therefore, I encourage you to receive the excellent advice that the Word of God freely gives, namely: “My son, attend unto my wisdom … for the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword … Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof [correction]; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” (Prov. 5:1-13).

Like alcohol, pornography is very addictive and will lead to a wrong perspective of sexual relations, leading to all kinds of sinful lusts. Therefore it should be persistently shunned and avoided. Disobedience to the Word of God gets us into all kinds of trouble, but obedience to it keeps us from trouble.

Last but certainly not least, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, are often the result of sexual activity outside of marriage. “When thy flesh and thy body are consumed” (v.11) is a dreadful but accurate description of what HIV/AIDS does to the body, eventually leading to death. Practicing “safe sex” is taught by so-called experts, but God teaches what is far better: abstinence!

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” —Proverbs 13:20

In light of the previously mentioned topic of sexuality, it is not difficult to see the value of seeking out good company. Let’s look at the example of Daniel once again. In Babylon he had three very good friends: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. They were his companions because they were of the same faith and shared the same moral values. Furthermore, because Daniel made a vow of faithfulness to God, He even brought him into favor with Ashpenaz, who was “the prince of the eunuchs” and a Babylonian. This man, although he admitted that he feared the king, granted Daniel his request not to defile himself by eating the king’s food, allowing him instead to eat pulse, or crushed grain, and drink only water. In a typical way the pulse and water speak of Christ, who said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35). Read Daniel 1 to get all the details.

Daniel and his friends proved the faithfulness of God, who had said hundreds of years before, “Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30). Faced with a further crisis in Daniel 2, we read that “then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven” (Dan. 2:17-18). They brought the life-threatening matter before God in prayer, and God granted their request. Getting together with your Christian friends on campus to ask the Lord’s help in your studies and struggles is definitely something for which you will be greatly rewarded.

David is another example of one who recognized how important it is to walk with those of like mind. He said, “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:63) and, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (1:1). Getting mixed up with the ungodly is often a gradual process: “walking,” “standing” and finally “sitting.” Once you are in association with them, you have lost your moral power to witness to them.

Ponder one additional quote from Paul the apostle: “Be not deceived: evil communications [company] corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). What did Daniel, David and Paul have in common? They knew the corrupting influence of bad company and were determined to stay away from it. On the other hand, there is strengthening and encouragement in the companionship of those who love the Lord and want to please Him.

I have sought to give you the best advice possible, which can only come from the Word of God. It is for you to prove for yourself the truthfulness of it. God’s Word can withstand any test, and God Himself will be true to His own Word.

May the Lord help you to avoid the pitfalls of sin. If you find that you have been walking in disobedience to His Word, it is not too late to change direction. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). May He bless you in your studies to their completion, for “the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul” (Prov. 13:19). Then go forward into the workplace and be the best that God wants you to be.

Finally, if you are not yet a Christian you need to repent of your sin, open the door of your heart and ask the Lord Jesus to come in and save you. Do it now.

God loves you so much that His Son, Jesus, died to take the punishment for your sins: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16 NKJV).§ There is no way you can earn your way to heaven. Trying your very best cannot make you good enough. You must believe that Jesus died for your sins. Only God can forgive your sins. That is His gift of love to you. “You have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works” (Eph. 2:8-9).§ Would you like to be ready for heaven? If so, talk to God something like this: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I know you died to take away my sins. I am trusting You to forgive my sins and make me ready for heaven. I know You will help me to live for You. Thank You!”
—L. Abercrombie

Brief Thoughts For Youth

By Emmanuel V. John

Looking at young people today we see some living a pure life because they have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and have purposed in their hearts not to defile themselves with any sinful attraction. They are reading their Bibles, praying and participating in Christian fellowship. Their spiritual light is visible in their conversation, conduct, compassion, confidence in the Lord and chastity. Paul said to Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12 NKJV).

However, in these times the tide of peer pressure seems stronger, and many young people are being pulled into the ocean of substance abuse, sexual immorality, pornography and cravings for even more destructive pleasures. Satan’s motive is to destroy their lives; and his method is to deceive them – being the father/originator of lies (Jn. 8:44). He is destructive and deceptive, yet Jesus Christ has already defeated him. Therefore the youth in Christ no longer need to feel as captives, for they are more than conquerors through Christ who loves them (Rom. 8:37).Some Suggestions
Most teenagers desire to be treated as adults rather than children. As a Christian teenager, wherever you are, always recognize

Who you are,• Whose you are, and• Where you belong.

You are valuable and special because your awesome God loves you and you belong to Him. What God knows about you is more important than what others think about you.

Remember where you belong and your true home address. Heaven is your lasting home and you should set your priorities in light of that fact. Always stand for the truth even if you must stand alone. The more of heaven you cherish, the less of earth you will covet, or desire.

Redeem your time by being disciplined in your studies, class assignments, Bible reading and prayer. You must use your time to develop your gift and to dedicate your life to the Lord. You can never go wrong in doing what is right in God’s sight.

Refrain from negative peer pressure and bad company as they can lead you into saying and doing things which seem pleasurable to the flesh but will affect your studies, goals and life in a dreadful way. You should witness to these individuals about the Lord Jesus, but never become like them. Therefore select friends who share your values, can be trusted, will stay with you even when you are in trouble, desire to encourage you and give good counsel. Always be conscious of the presence of Lord Jesus, your best Friend: “A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17)

Refuse to compromise your moral values or faith in Christ. Instead, choose to take sides with the Lord and His people even though there may be consequences. “Moses when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26). It is better to be faithful than famous.

Rest on the promises of God and maintain open communication with your parents and family. Never forget that God will never forget you. “He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (13:5).

have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior …

• You are a child of God – John 1:12
• You are forgiven and justified – Colossians 2:13, Romans 3:24
• You have new life from God – 2 Corinthians 5:17
• You are saved for eternity – John 5:24
• You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 1:13-14
• You have peace with God – Romans 5:1

Gods Pattern For Me

There’s a pattern in the heavens of my life down here on earth.God, my Father, made the blueprint, long before my time of birth.
Every step of it was visioned, every thought and word and deed;Long before I had existence He provided for my need.

I have often groped unheeding, all unconscious of a plan,While a blueprint has been fashioned by my God, the Artisan.
I have lived my life at random; I have tried to live alone;I have blundered in my living; heaven’s blueprint lay unknown.

Why do I neglect my birthright, stumbling, bungling endlessly,When my Father on the mountain has my life planned out for me?
Patiently He long has waited, Lover, Architect and Friend;He would make my life successful; on His strength I may depend.

In God’s Word I am instructed how to mold my life aright;Let God take it, and He’ll make it good and comely in His sight.
If I yield my life completely to the Spirit’s full control,He will form and make resplendent God’s own pattern in my soul.
—Lewis H. Jamison

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
—Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV