Always… Be Prayerful

Need some help to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17)? Here are a dozen good reasons for praying seven days a week:

#1: Jesus asks us to be – Effective prayers are persistent prayers:  “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).

#2. God blesses us everyday: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

#3. God’s love is experienced everyday: “He that loveth not knoweth not God;  for God is love” (I John 4:8).

#4: Our leaders make difficult decisions everyday: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1-2a).

#5: Something will likely worry us everyday: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

#6: Everyday someone is troubled by a health problem or physical concern:  “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray” (James 5:13).

#7: Everyday we sin: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1).

#8: Everyday someone somewhere would benefit from a missionary for Christ: “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest , that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

#9: Everyday someone needs encouragement:  “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Romans 15:1-3).

#10: We need God’s wisdom every day:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

#11: Today could be our last day: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).

#12: Everyday someone misses an opportunity to answer the Lord’s invitation:  “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:1-2).

See more about daily prayer in our YouTube video: “Always … Be Prayerful”

Always… Be Joyful

At the end of the Book of First Thessalonians, Paul gives a list of instructions for attitudes and behaviors to be developed by Christians.  What makes these verses more meaningful is the circumstances of the people who were the initial recipients of this book.

The Thessalonians were experiencing lots of problems, and Acts 17 explains how the church started there and how Paul’s life had been in danger:

“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. 5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. 10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.” – Acts 17:1-10

Knowing the situation, Paul nevertheless gives these three pieces of instruction for enduring trying times:

Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The first command, in verse 16, is ALWAYS BE JOYFUL:

The text is easy to interpret, but perhaps not so easy to implement:

Rejoice: “chairō; a primary verb; to be “cheer”ful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; impersonally, especially as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: — farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hall, joy(- fully), rejoice.” (Strong’s Dictionary)

evermore: “pantote… every when, i.e. at all times: — alway(-s), ever(-more).” (Strong’s Dictionary)

[Trivia that’s not so trivial – “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) is the shortest in the English NT; but “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16) is the shortest verse in the Greek NT (the original language)).

Christians should be people of joy: 

  • We are full of joy for our Savior: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33.
  • Our Salvation brings us joy: “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:2.

The book of Psalms has some great passages about being joyful:

  • “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” – Psalm 34:1-2 KJV
  • “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.” – Psalm 145:1-2 KJV
  • “While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.” – Psalm 146:2 KJV

This passage (1 Thess 5:16) teaches us how this joy makes a difference for us.

Following this command to be joyful will have its challenges. Because we are commanded to be joyful (and this is one of about six dozen commands in the New Testament to express joyfulness),  it means this is a choice we make. We are to adjust our attitude to be joyful at all times, no matter what the circumstances are. 

Paul also wrote this about being joyful:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4 NKJV

Our joy does not come from our situation, but from our Savior and His salvation – “Rejoice in the Lord.” Our relationship with God equips us for any circumstance.

Make a daily commitment to being reshaped by God’s word about this.

Remember: “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

These resources supplement our video at Always…Be Joyful at YouTube


Coping with a Crisis: Habakkuk 3:17-19

Habakkuk (pronounced “hah-BACK-uck”) is one of a set of a dozen books found at the very end of the Old Testament. He’s one of the Minor Prophets, which refers not to the importance of the book, but its length. Even though these books are small in comparison to the other Old Testament writings, including the much longer Major Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, they contain some powerful teaching. 

One of the most inspiring passages in all of the Minor Prophets is found at the conclusion of Habakkuk’s little book. His writing focuses on the seeming injustice that God would permit Judah to be conquered by a more ungodly nation like Babylon. After he considers this enigmatic issue, he concludes that he will nevertheless always defer to God’s plan: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Consider three components to this passage, which can teach us how to cope with a catastrophe:

(1) THE DISASTERS WE EXPERIENCE: “the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls” (ESV). In verse 17, Habakkuk gives a catalog of devastation that a military invasion – or any natural or man-made disaster for that matter – would leave in its wake. Perhaps the first step in maneuvering through misfortune is coming to terms that hardships exist in our world and sometimes – for perhaps no reason we can discern – they become an uninvited part of our lives. Job shared this observation: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).

(2) THE DEVOTION WE EXPRESS: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk resolves in verse 18 to nevertheless trust in God and to rejoice in Him. This was suggested with his opening verse 17 with “although” – the problems were not going to deprive him of his joy. We can choose that our circumstances will not define us. This type of reaction is also seen in Job: “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 2:21) and in the New Testament, when Paul and Silas were “thrust … into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:24-25). When we grasp that every experience is designed to glorify God (and not us), we will be able to sing praises to Him through the calamity. 

(3) THE DELIVERANCE WE EXPECT: “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Habakkuk’s  faith was fueled by his confidence in God’s sustaining him through any hardship. Life on the other side of the struggle could be very different from what we might have preferred, yet we can endure. The way we cope, Habakkuk says, is by taking on the persona and special ability of the hind, a mountain deer. This creature is associated in Hebrew literature with swiftness and agility: “He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places” (II Samuel 22:34). A similar thought is in the saying, “When God sends us over stony ground, He will give us strong shoes.” The Lord will equip us with the mindset and spiritual resources to adapt our inner world to His way for life; and the Lord will provide in the material world those things that are needed for us to fulfill His purpose through our situation. In this way, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).

The Lord hasn’t promised to change our circumstances to suit us, but to suit us to our circumstances. He changes us so that we are equipped for any condition or circumstance. Let’s allow Him to reshape and mold us through our submitting to His word.

“Perhaps This is Why:” A Closer Look at Esther 4:14

One of the most powerful passages of Scripture about God’s providence never mentions His name, but it’s filled with His presence. It’s found about midway through the suspenseful book of Esther.

Esther was a beautiful woman who was selected by the King of Persia to be his wife; however, as detailed in the book, he didn’t know she was a Jew (Esther 2:9-10). At the request of his jealous assistant Haman, the king unwittingly issued an edict that the Jews were to be put to death (3:8-10).

Esther chapter four recounts Esther’s decision to approach the king about the Jews impending demise. This was risky, because it would violate protocol to approach him uninvited, could be considered a security threat and, not the least, would expose her as a Jew.

In our text, Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, urged urged her to take action: “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV). Consider four spiritual principles from this passage:

1) Evil can intimidate good people into doing nothing: “If you remain silent.” Peer pressure urges those who are younger to do things they shouldn’t, then as we get older it pulls at us to not do things we should. Peter was lured to deny Jesus by those beside him (John 18:25-27). Barnabas found it too hard to go against the group mentality (Gal. 2:13).  When it is within our power, we must help those who are in distress.

2) God is so powerful, versatile and persistent that evil cannot thwart His providence when His people call for it: “relief will arise from another place.” Ezra later said the Lord gave them more than relief – He gave them a revival (Ezra 9:9). God’s plans baffle the enemy: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:7-9).

3) God’s providence will not compensate for our unfaithfulness to Him: “your father’s house will perish” (cf. v. 13). For Esther to benefit from God’s providence, she could not sit idly by and be confident of any benefit. The Lord Who sends “our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11) has not promised to provide “if any would not work” (II Thess. 3:10).

4) Perhaps God has placed us where we are for a good purpose. The meandering path of life could have actually been a journey to exactly where God wants to use us:

  • “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Prov. 24:12). God is not surprised by any developments in human activity.
  • “For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever; 16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord?” (Philemon 15-16). The Lord is able to turn misfortune into fortune when we place our activities under His direction.
  • “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me” (Phil. 2:30). When we are consumed with serving God’s purpose, He can turn our shortcomings into a blessing.

God’s providence is appropriated through our faithfulness to Him. Faith requires a willingness to risk our security. 

Born Again Believers

It is essential for every believer in Jesus to be “born from above” in order to come under God’s rule as part of the Kingdom of His dear Son: “Jesus answered and said unto (Nicodemus), Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

Consider what is involved in the “new birth:”

1. It involves a simultaneous renewal of the inner man and a coming forth to a new lifestyle from immersion in water: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is being born again “with the word of truth” (James 1:18). It is a washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).  

Peter expressed it in a different manner:  “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (I Peter 1:22-25). Those who responded by attending to Jesus’ teaching and following His example in baptism are part of God’s family. John wrote, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). Those who believed in Christ were given direction on how to come into His kingdom (see Acts 2:36-47).

2. Those who are born again have a wonderful future: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:3-4). Those who “obey the gospel” will receive rest when Jesus returns (II Thess. 1:6-9).

3. Those who are born again have a clear path for how to live: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9). Jesus calls us to live godly (Titus 2:11-14).

4. Those who are born again have a loving spirit: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him (1 John 5:1).  Those who are born again love God, His word, worship and work and His creatures.

Jesus is Lord

Every child of God has experienced the moment where they’ve recognized that Jesus is Lord.

The designation as “Lord” is the Greek word kurios (κύριος), “an adjective, signifying “having power or authority,” and is used of kings; or one who owns or has the disposal of anything; or one to whom service is due on any ground (Vine’s Complete Expos. Dict.).

Peter proclaimed in the first gospel sermon: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). Paul praised Jesus as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:15).

Jesus is deserving of this title, because He is:

  • Lord by Creation (all things were made by Him, John 1:3; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2-3); and
  • Lord by Calvary (He became human so He could die as our substitute to redeem us from sin, John 1:14, 29; Rom. 14:9; I Peter 1:19).

Jesus holds all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). Our faith is founded on the truth that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11). Our mission is to represent “Christ Jesus the Lord” (II Cor. 4:5).

Hudson Taylor pointed out that “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” Take a moment to reflect on this question: Does Jesus have ownership and control of every area of my life?

We Choose the Path

One of the earliest non-inspired Christian writings was The Didache. Compiled around A.D. 100 to 130, it was designed as a how-to guide on becoming and being a Christian, written in Old Testament fashion for New Testament believers. The New Testament is compiled in a recognized literary style – epistolary, in which we read the entire collection and then reconstruct the character, plot and story through assimilation to gather the complete message. The Didache was an attempt to condense and compile the New Testament’s teachings into black-letter form.

Here are it’s opening words:  “THERE are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference is great between the two paths.”

What a powerful yet simple statement. 

Many people spend their lives focusing on matters other than their relationship with God. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt. 7:13-14). That’s a bold statement, too. Ignoring God does not change the fact He exists.

Consider a half dozen reasons every person must reflect on his relationship with God:

1.  The Mortality Factor:  I won’t live forever. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb. 9:27).

2. The Morality Factor: I can’t do enough good things to ensure I’ll live forever. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

3. The Meaning Factor: I need purpose in life. “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?” (Eccl. 6:12).

4.  The Management Factor:  I need guidance. “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Prov. 30:13).

5.  The Messiah Factor: Jesus gave His life on Calvary for me. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” (John 12:32-33).

6.  The Mercy Factor:  I need peace of mind from anxiety, guilt and fear. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Your Bible’s Bells & Whistles

Your copy of the Bible is likely chock full of extra features to help you study more efficiently. Let’s take a few moments and get familiar with them, like learning the buttons and gadgets on a new automobile. Here are a few:

Concordance: This is usually near the back. It’s an index of significant words with the passages where they can be found. It doesn’t contain every place a word is located, so you’ll need to refer to a separate concordance, such as Strong’s, Young’s or Cruden’s, to see a complete listing. If you are looking for passages with the word “pastor,” for example, check the concordance. Keep in mind these are usually case-specific, meaning you won’t find verses with synonymous terms – such as bishop or elder – listed under the heading for pastor, even though from a doctrinal standpoint these terms are interchangeable.

Marginal references or footnotes: These are often indicated by tiny, superscript letters in a passage. Depending on the Bible you’re using, these will provide more literal or alternative translations of a word, or perhaps clarify a phrase by providing its historical usage or explaining an idiom. This information helps us dig deeper into the meaning of the text.

Cross-references: These appear at the end of a verse or chapter, in a column in the middle of the page, or along the outside margin of the page. These point us to passages addressing similar subjects. Rarely will we learn all God says about a topic in a single verse. It’s also helpful to mark these when we learn something new. For example, in my Bible at Romans 10:13 (“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”), I have written in a cross-reference to Acts 22:16 (“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”).

Maps: These provide a geographic perspective on events in Scripture. For example, the phrase “from Dan even to Beersheba” (II Sam. 24:2) takes on new meaning when we locate those two sites on a map of ancient Israel. [Now, use your concordance or cross-references and see how frequently that phrase appeared in the Old Testament.]

Study notes and commentary: These are explanatory comments by a teacher or writer which elaborate on the text, and, while sometimes helpful, are not authoritative. Treat these like you would statements by any modern teacher, weighing them against the actual teaching of Scripture (see I Thess. 5:21 (“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”) and I John 4:1 (“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”). Examining these to see “whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11), can help us clarify our understanding of a passage and uncover God’s truth on the matter.

A Dozen Ways to Sleep Better at Night

Rest and recovery is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. So how can we improve the quality of our sleep and get more Vitamin Zzz? Here are a dozen ways to rest easier at night:

1) Don’t sleep too much during the day.

Solomon points out that one of the problems of the habitually lazy person is he is getting far too much sleep while the sun is up.

Proverbs 6:9-11: “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”

2) Get more active during the day.

Move more. Get some exercise. Find something productive to do. Break a sweat!

Ecclesiastes 5:12: “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

3) Unplug at bedtime.

Yes, this means that when it’s time for sleep, set down the smartphone or the tablet. Aside from the lighting, the over-sensitization will made it more difficult to relax. Notice how Paul urges a transition to a quieter lifestyle:

1 Thessalonians 4:11: “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”

2 Thessalonians 3:12: “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”

4) Get ready for the next day, then put it away.

The verse from the earlier point about working hard ends with pointing out what can interrupt sleep – preoccupation with all that needs to be done – Ecclesiastes 5:12: “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

The last part of that verse could be referring to how greed can be infectious and disrupting (see I Tim. 6:6-10). But it also, in its best light, points out the heavier burdens of those who are in charge of a lot of responsibilities. If that’s the case, prepare for what’s important for the next day, then put it aside and get some rest.

5) Jot down anything that is on your mind that is Urgent or Important. 

Can’t you identify with this explanation for how a soldier lost a prisoner: 1 Kings 20:40a: “And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone.”

Our restlessness could be because there was something we needed to do or remember to do, and we feel as if we’ve forgotten it.

Develop your own system for keeping track of what needs attention. When it occurs to you, “I’ve got to remember to….” Or, “I need to pick up….” Or you catch yourself telling someone, “Don’t let me forget too…..” THOSE are probably the moments when you should add that item to a list or calendar that you use to keep track of all those urgent or important matters. Write it out, put it down, and get some rest.

6) Listen to music.

This worked for King Saul in the Old Testament:

1 Samuel 16:15-16: “And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. 16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on a harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.”

7) Pray and meditate.

Prayer is when we say something to God; meditation is when we think about what God has said to us.

Psalm 4:8: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

8) How’s your diet?

It is well-documented that caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine interfere with nightly sleep. For example: Six Ways Coffee, Cigarettes, and Booze Can Affect Your Sleep

Take care of the temple (I Cor. 6:19).

9) Keep a clear conscience.

If regret or remorse is gnawing at your spirit, take steps to clear up your conscience about the matter.

Isaiah 48:22: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.”

10) Be a congruent Christian. Live out what you know to be right.

Don’t try to lead a double life. Let your lifestyle be consistent with what you truly believe and know to be right. When we’re doing the good and right thing for you and me and others, for now and the future, we can rest easier:

Proverbs 3:21, 24: “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:… When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.”

11) Count your blessings.

Counting sheep? Maybe. Reflecting on all the good and joyful things from the day that have passed through your life? Yes!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ASV):  “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.”

12) Get right with God.

All our best efforts to find rest are truly incomplete until we have found God’s love and our love for Him:

Psalm 127:2: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Super-focused Faith

After the Dallas Cowboys won the 1993 Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills by a landslide (52-17), a reporter asked Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson what he had told his players before the big game. 

“I kind of told them a story that you have a two-by-four,” he said, “and you lay the two-by-four across the room and most everybody in the room — and I did say there were probably a couple of players that couldn’t do it — but most everybody in the room could walk across that two-by-four and not fall, because their focus was that they were going to walk that two-by-four.

“But you take that same two-by-four and put it up 10 stories high between two buildings, then there’ll only be a few of us that’ll make it. We’ll be stumbling and grabbing on and holding on and going back to the start, because our focus is going to be on falling. The negative thoughts will be so strong that we’ll be thinking about falling rather than thinking about what the job is at hand.” (New York Times, “Johnson Goes to Great Heights to Get Point Across,” January 25, 1993).

Johnson explained that he told the team not to focus on the possibility of failing against the Bills, but to approach every play as if it was a practice session.

That approach can help us in every facet of life. Every one of us struggles with being distracted by failure, or falling, or things that can hurt us, to the point our life may not be as fulfilling as God intended. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Needless anxiety robs us of that.

Someone said, “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat…worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.”

The Bible teaches us to overcome worry by replacing it with faith in eternal, unconquerable things. Here are some of those things we are encouraged to focus upon:

1. The passionate Savior: Jesus Christ

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2)(emphasis added in bold).

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:6-7). Set your sights on Christ.

2. The positive side: Good things

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things(Phil. 4:8). Are you looking for the bright side, or focusing on the shadows?

3. The perfect salvation: Heaven

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). No one is a failure who reaches heaven.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).