‘Confess your faults one to another.’ James 5:16 KJV
It’s usually only when addicts ‘hit bottom’ that they’re willing to embrace a twelve-step program of recovery, and submit to the guidance of a ‘sponsor’ who will help them by holding them accountable. Where did the twelve-step principles originate? From Scripture! The Bible says, ‘Confess your trespasses one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.’ (James 5:16 NKJV)
Have all the years you’ve spent hiding your problem only made it worse? If so, an important step towards your deliverance is having someone in your life who understands, wants to see you set free, will stand by you, identifies with your struggle, and knows how to keep your confidence. And it needs to be someone you trust and respect; otherwise you won’t take them seriously.
There must be an agreement between you that you’ll work together until lasting change takes place. That means finding someone who won’t be shocked by your problem and who won’t ‘shame’ you, no matter what. It’s the broken who become masters at mending, so find someone who has won the battle you are fighting. And make sure they share your faith and values.
Why do you need to share your struggle with someone? Because we are only as sick as the secrets we keep! Jesus said, ‘Very truly I tell you, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name… Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’(John 16:23–24 NIV) By opening up to another person and asking for help, you’ve taken a major step towards a better life.
‘Be patient with all.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:14 NKJV
You’ve probably heard the joke about the lady who prayed, ‘Lord, give me patience; and I want it right now!’ That’s not so funny when it reflects how you live. If you get annoyed at having to wait for anything, your impatience can hurt you. The only person who has the power to make things happen the way He wants them to, is God. But even He is gracious, and respects our will and waits for us to get in line with His will. And since we’re not God, think how foolish it is to become upset with the supermarket assistant, the bank cashier, or the slow driver who doesn’t move at warp speed.
Jesus said, ‘By your patience possess your souls.’ (Luke 21:19 NKJV) Here the word, souls, refers to our emotions. Jesus is saying, ‘Take control of your emotions and show a Christlike attitude.’ Your ability to handle delays, disappointments, and detours will determine your level of joy and peace. When you discover that you cannot control what’s going on around you, decide to control what’s going on within you.
Overcoming impatience involves three things:
(1) Admitting you have the problem. As long as you rationalize and justify your attitude, you won’t grow.
(2) A commitment to allow the Holy Spirit to produce patience in you. Patience doesn’t come by making New Year’s resolutions or counting to ten; it’s the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit, and it grows with your cooperation (see Galatians 5:22).
(3) A decision to ‘be in the moment,’ rather than obsessing over what must happen next.
‘A gentle answer turns away wrath.’ Proverbs 15:1 NIV
If you’re an organized, time-conscious, purpose-driven, make-it-happen kind of person you can get upset with incompetence and low productivity in others. And you can end up speaking words that hurt them and don’t bring the result you hope for.
In Proverbs chapter thirty-one here’s how Solomon describes a wise woman: ‘On her tongue is the law of kindness.’ (Proverbs 31:26 NKJV) Speaking kindly to and about others was one of this woman’s core principles. And when you think about it, there’s never any justification for being harsh or unkind in your communication. Certainly not if you’re a Christian!
Hasn’t God been gracious with you? Then extend that same grace to others. The old adage, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’ isn’t true. Harsh words can impact a person for a lifetime. Many so-called ‘social outcasts’ have been victims of verbal abuse at some point in their lives. They have suffered at the hands of parents, teachers, insecure spouses, and others battling their own emotional issues. If you find you’re prone to speaking harshly to people, pray for God’s help. Whatever it takes, including seeking help from a pastor or counselor, do it.
The Bible says, ‘He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.’ (Proverbs 16:32 NKJV) Decide today to ‘rule your spirit’ and make kindness a hallmark and guiding principle of your life.
‘Adjust yourself to [people].’ Romans 12:16 AMP
A woman who was about to become a mother-in-law wrote to columnist Abigail Van Buren: ‘My son will marry his girlfriend this summer. She’s a lovely girl…already a cherished member of our family. I remember a prayer you ran; a pep talk from a woman to herself as she approached mother-in-law status.’
… Here’s the prayer: ‘Lord, let me be glad when my son picks a mate. If he brings home a girl with two heads, let me love both of them equally. When he says, “Mum, I want to get married,” forbid that I should blurt out, “How far along is she?” Help me get through the wedding preparations without squabbling with the “other side”. Drive from my mind the belief that had my child waited, they could’ve done better. Remind me when I become a grandmother, that my kids don’t want advice on raising their children any more than I did. If you’ll help me with these things, perhaps my children will find me a joy to be around, and I won’t end up writing another letter complaining about them neglecting me.’
Just because another person doesn’t do things the way we do, doesn’t necessarily mean their way of doing things is wrong. Different people have different ways of achieving the same ends. A sign of maturity is the ability to get along with someone who thinks and acts differently—without getting offended. Paul says, ‘Adjust yourself to [people]… Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.’ It takes humility to keep your own counsel and resist giving unsolicited advice to your adult children.
‘He departed to the mountain to pray.’ Mark 6:46 NKJV
Before Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee, He climbed a mountain to be alone with His Father in prayer. He left the demands of the crowd at sunset, prayed until dawn, then came down the mountain in the power of God’s Spirit and stilled a raging storm. (Wouldn’t you love to know how He prayed that night?)
Prayer is a mountain; you have to climb it. ‘Peter and John went up together…at the hour of prayer.’ (Acts 3:1 NKJV) If you wait until you feel like it, you won’t pray consistently. It’s a discipline. And the more you pray the more you want to pray, and the more rewarding it becomes. But first you must turn your back on the ‘crowd’.
Because Christ knew how to walk away from life’s demands and distractions, He was able to still the storm that threatened His disciples. So before you get caught up in the daily rat race, go to the mountain of prayer. It’s a place of stability in an uncertain world; a place where the view is unobstructed and the frantic pace of life is left behind. There you gain perspective. There Christ reminds you that there’s nothing you’ll face today that He hasn’t already handled, and He’ll give you grace to do the same.
It’s easy to recognize people who’ve been to the mountain of prayer. Their struggles are no different from yours—some are even more challenging. But they’ve an inner peace that transcends family problems, health concerns, budgetary shortfalls, etc. You can endure hard times with grace when you know that the summit is just a prayer away!
‘If we walk in the light…the blood of Jesus…purifies us from all sin.’ 1 John 1:7 NIV
Twice in Scripture God spoke into our darkness. In Genesis chapter one He said, ‘Let there be lights.’ (Genesis 1:14 NIV) And in John chapter three Jesus declared, ‘Light has come into the world.’ (John 3:19 NIV)
To walk with God you must reject the ways of darkness and walk in the light. Fungus grows best in the dark, but when you turn on the light it withers and dies. This is more than a metaphor—it’s a spiritual fact of life! Jesus said, ‘People loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’ (John 3:19 NIV) As Ester Nicholson says, ‘Secrets keep us sick. They keep us in shame and uncertainty.’
Secrecy is the ideal environment for sin to grow until ultimately you’re taken captive by thoughts, deeds, and habits. And staying in darkness intensifies your cycle of secrecy and slavery to sin. ‘If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.’ (1 John 1:6 NIV)
Once you step into the light everything changes! So confess your secret sins to God, and, if necessary, to a trusted friend or counselor who can pray with you. Then through God’s strength reclaim your power to overcome sin and live victoriously. Once you’ve turned on the light, the fungus begins to wither. Its grip loosens, and freedom dawns.
Each time sin comes knocking at your door bring it into the light immediately. When you do, cleansing and fellowship with God will be yours. The Bible says, ‘If we walk in the light…we have fellowship…and the blood of Jesus…purifies us from all sin.’
‘Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’ Proverbs 4:7 NIV
The third thing you must overcome on your way to success is ignorance. As the ancient writer Aristophanes pointed out, ‘Ignorance can be educated… but stupid lasts forever.’
Far too often we don’t think realistically, or we fail to seek out the information and expertise we need. Edison failed many times, but his eventual success didn’t come from luck—it came from preparation. Many of us undervalue knowledge. For example, because computers allow us to try and to fail so many times, we don’t take time to read the manual. Because we’re so rushed, we’re reluctant to stop and find out what we really need to know. Because young people feel pressured into getting a job, often they fail to see the value of investing time in higher education.
Golf champion Jack Nicklaus said, ‘Learn the fundamentals of the game and stick to them. Band-Aid remedies never last.’ You may be fortunate enough to get promoted beyond your level of competence. But if your knowledge doesn’t keep up with your position, you’re doomed to fail.
Here are some Scriptural words to live by: ‘Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honour in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.’ (Proverbs 3:15–18 NLT)
‘I discipline my body… Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.’ 1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT
The second issue you’ll have to address is your emotions. While they can be a gauge of how you feel and a clue to what needs to be changed in your life, never let emotion alone dictate your decisions.
Ask anyone who has to perform at the top of their game, and you’ll find that much of their time is spent overriding their emotions. However, listening to your emotions to get to the core of what’s bothering you can be a very revealing indicator of your condition.
Consider these two statements:
(1) I don’t feel like working today. Why not? Did you stay up too late last night? Perhaps you need to change your schedule. Are you eating well? Maybe you need to adjust your diet. Not motivated? Talk to God, read His Word, spend time with an encouraging friend, etc. Don’t just sit there, do something!
(2) I’m a little depressed. Are you getting enough relaxation? Have you taken a break lately? Our moods generally swing up after exercise, so start moving and get into shape. You can’t afford to live life based on your emotions. They’ll delay you, stop you, and create detours on your journey to success.
You say, ‘I’m waiting for inspiration!’ As novelist Jack London said, ‘You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.’ Follow Paul’s example: ‘So I run with purpose in every step… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.’ (1 Corinthians 9:26–27 NLT)
‘Do not turn…to the right or…the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.’ Joshua 1:7 NIV
Sometimes we’re so afraid of mistakes we avoid situations where they might occur. Yet that could be the biggest error of all. For the next few days let’s look at some things you must overcome to succeed in life.
Situations. Do you feel like you’re mired in a dead-end one? Maybe you’d like to train for a higher position but can’t afford it. Or change jobs, but you feel trapped by your salary or the fear of forfeiting your retirement pension. Perhaps you feel trapped by a physical handicap or illness. The secret to overcoming is to divide your circumstances into situations you can change and those you can’t. Nearly everything in life can be changed, or approached in a different way. But it can’t always be done right now.
Make a list of things you can change. Too many of us fail—and keep failing—because we persist in trying to change what can’t be altered. Stop banging your head against a wall, and practice realistic thinking. Understand the difference between faith and fantasy.
Somebody said, ‘For every problem under the sun, there is a remedy or there is none. If there’s a solution go and find it, and if there isn’t, never mind it.’ God has given you certain gifts. When you discover, develop, and deploy them He’ll give you success in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Ignore what you can’t change, focus on what you can, and opportunities will reveal themselves.
As Hannibal said during his famous march across the Alps, ‘We will either find a way, or make one.’ You need that spirit too!
‘He made…a woman, and…brought her to the man.’ Genesis 2:22 NKJV
Patience is a difficult skill to practice when it comes to relationships. This is particularly so when you feel lonely, empty, and incomplete. When that happens you can jump the gun, and make a choice based on your limited perspective rather than the larger picture that would emerge if only you had sought more information and waited patiently.
To keep you from making a mistake that can negatively impact the rest of your life, here are three important steps you should take when it comes to forming a relationship:
(1) You must ask the right questions. Be curious, inquisitive, and hungry for all the pieces of the puzzle. Always, always, ask!
(2) You must find the answer to those questions. Sift through the surface impressions of what you see and hear and you’ll soon see a clearer picture emerging. This picture must harmonize with two things: (a) your participation in this particular relationship; (b) God’s will and purpose for your life.
(3) You must act when the time is right, and know that you are acting on the best and most comprehensive information available. If it doesn’t work out, you can relax in the knowledge that you did everything possible to make a wise decision.
Statistically, about half of all marriages today end in divorce. But if you take these three steps, you could finish up in the right half.
Even if a friendship fails, you can carry into your next relationship the wisdom gleaned from the last one. ‘He made…a woman, and…brought her to the man.’ God knows just what you need, so seek His guidance.