INDEX ON VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG ARTICLES IN ACTIVATED ARTICLE Streams that Never Run Dry Christmas Rush, or Christmas Reason? A Sense of Values Put God on the Spot The Choice The True Christmas Beginning Again Finding Faith for Miracles Rest and Repose The Light Breaks in Conformity or Conviction? The Lower Lights Strength from Weakness Sickness – Punishment or Plan? The Tongue Baca New Beginnings How to Have a Happier Home Be Still It’s So Because God Said So Thoughts Blackout The Measure of Faith Boomerang Forgiveness Forgetting the Past Renewing Your Mind Year by Year, Day by Day Co fort i Life’s Dark Hour The Extra Allowance Loneliness and the Cure The Healer Portrait of Love The Miraculous Wings from Weights God Does ’t Cha ge with the Years Fixed Determination The Road to Happiness Transformed
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ALPHABETICAL INDEX ARTICLE A Sense of Values Baca Be Still Beginning Again Blackout Boomerang Christmas Rush, or Christmas Reason? Co fort i Life’s Dark Hour Conformity or Conviction? Finding Faith for Miracles Fixed Determination Forgetting the Past Forgiveness God Does ’t Cha ge with the Years How to Have a Happier Home It’s So Because God Said So Loneliness and the Cure New Beginnings Portrait of Love Put God on the Spot Renewing Your Mind Rest and Repose Sickness – Punishment or Plan? Streams that Never Run Dry Strength from Weakness The Choice The Extra Allowance The Healer The Light Breaks in The Lower Lights The Measure of Faith The Miraculous The Road to Happiness The Tongue The True Christmas Thoughts Transformed Wings from Weights Year by Year, Day by Day
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can never forget the day when it dawned
upon my consciousness as a reality, a fact, that the promises of the Bible were practical, that they could actually be applied to my everyday needs. It was a revelation to me that God meant exactly what He said in the numerous promises given in His Word, and that He would fulill them to the very letter if I, in faith, would reach out and claim them in a deinite manner. God’s Word said that I had been given “exceedingly great and precious promises,” that through them I might be “partaker of the divine nature.”1 But to my limited understanding, those promises were only beautiful scripture language, never meant to be taken seriously or applied practically. I was like the very ignorant woman many years ago who had lived most of her life hidden way back in the highlands of Scotland, and who was so poor that her church had to pay her rent for her. One day when her pastor brought the monthly rent, he said, “Mrs. McKintrick, why is it that your boy does not support you? I understand he has a very good job in Australia, and that he is a good boy who loves you dearly. Is this not the case?” “Oh yes,” said the mother, “and he never forgets me. Every week he writes me the most loving letter.” Curious to know more about a son who could so love his mother and yet leave her without support, the pastor asked to see some of the letters. Soon the woman returned with two packages. “hese are his letters,” she said, handing him the irst package, “and these are the pretty pictures he
By Virginia Brandt Berg
Little did I realize just how literally God wanted me to take His promises sends me with every letter. hey it nicely in the letter, and it shows he thinks about me.” “A picture in every letter.” he pastor was more curious than ever. “May I see them also?” “Oh, surely,” she answered. “Some are of a man’s head, some of a man sitting on a horse, and some have the king’s picture on them. See, this one here has the King of England. Long live the king!” “Long live your son!” said the astonished pastor. “Why, my dear friend, do you know that you are a rich woman? his is money. You have wealth here! And to think of how you have sufered and done without, when right here in the house all the time you had riches that you thought were just pretty pictures!” his was surely my trouble when it came to the promises in God’s Word. I thought they were just pretty pictures, just beautiful language. Little did I realize just how literally God wanted me to take His promises! In God’s Word you and I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises—and there are hundreds of them. Limitless resources! Streams that never run dry. 1
2 Peter 1:4
EXPECTANCY Christians are divided into two types: those who pray and really expect something to happen, and those who just pray and do not expect anything to happen. Prayer is irst a means to an end, a connecting link between our human needs and God’s divine resources. Prayer is not meant to be a “pious reverie” that has only a subconscious efect on us. Prayer is an intensely practical thing, as real, as uniform, as genuine as using the telephone. And the party at the other end of the line—God Himself—says to us, “Ask and it will be given to you. You do not have because you do not ask.”2
ACCEPTANCE It is our part to do the taking, His to do the giving. he Scripture says, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”3 When we ask in prayer, then is the time to believe—and if we do, we will receive. “Now this is the conidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”4 It does not say we are going to have, but it says we have. We have it now, not because any of our senses testify to it, but because God has said so. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”5 Faith is believing that God is going to answer, even if you can’t see the answer yet. It is not what we think about it, but what God says about it that counts. It is not what we feel, but what faith claims.
APPROPRIATING FAITH Attempting to teach the principle of appropriating faith to the members of his church, a preacher once ofered his expensive pocket watch to a group of boys sitting on the front row. “Sonny, would you like to have this watch?” he asked the oldest boy.
“You can’t fool me! I know you don’t mean it,” answered the boy. he question was repeated to the next boy, and again and again down the line. Each time came a similar answer. At last the preacher ofered the watch to a little fellow about ive years old, who was sitting on the edge of his seat, his bright, eager eyes focused intently on the preacher’s face. “Little man, would you like ...” hat was enough. A chubby hand quickly grabbed the watch and instantly pocketed the gift. While wiggling back on the seat, the boy said with a satisied, grown-up sigh that it was just what he had been wanting all the time. After the service, the other boys crowded around the preacher and protested. “How were we 2
Matthew 7:7; James 4:2 Mark 11:24 4 1 John 5:14–15 5 Hebrews 11:1 3
supposed to know you really meant it?” “hat’s just the kind of watch I was wanting.” “If you really meant it, why didn’t you put it in my hand, or ask me again, so I’d know?” Only the youngest boy had appropriating faith, and he put his faith into action.
ACTION Many people believe the promises of God, but in sort of an impersonal, indeinite way: “Oh yes, they apply in general, but not speciically to me or this situation.” Whereas the person who gets results is he who, when he has asked God for something, acts on his faith and proceeds as if he possesses. He takes
When faith goes to market, it takes a basket along
God at His Word on some promise and counts it done. his is often called the “stand of faith.” A splendid illustration of this is found in the Bible passage where Jesus told the lepers who came to Him for healing to go show themselves to the priest for cleansing. Jesus hadn’t healed them yet, but the scripture says that, “As they went, they were healed.” As they put their faith into action and obeyed, even though they hadn’t yet seen the answer to their prayers, God met them.6 When we put forth the efort of a believing will, God honors that step and meets us. As someone once said, “When faith goes to market, it takes a basket along.”
THE STAND OF FAITH One time I had prayed and done everything else that I knew to do, yet there was no answer to my prayer. I had come to the end of myself and could do nothing more. Why didn’t God answer? As I turned the pages of my Bible and prayed, my eyes fell on these very words: “Having done all, stand.”7 Immediately I saw the truth. I had been virtually blaming the Lord for not answering my prayer, when I had not been doing my part at all. I hadn’t taken the stand of faith. So I began to praise and thank Him that the answer was on the way. Within six hours I saw that answer, but it was no more mine then than when I had irst taken the stand of faith. It had already been mine by faith. We see because we have believed, not believe because we have seen. Faith is not some great thing, not some glorious feeling, not some wonderful sensation, as many think, but it is simply taking God at His Word. Just as your hand reaches out and takes ahold of something, so faith is the spiritual hand that reaches out and takes ahold of the promises of God and appropriates them. So make the connection with God today through prayer, bringing your requests to Him and claiming His promises. He never fails! 1 (Excerpted from Virginia Brandt Berg’s book of the same title.) 6
Luke 17:12–14 Ephesians 6:13
Rush, or Christmas
Reason? BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG 4
was standing in the doorway of a department store a few Christmases ago, enjoying a lovely nativity scene in a store window, when a mother and her little girl came hurrying by. Catching a glimpse of the beautiful scene, the child grabbed her mother’s hand and exclaimed, “Mama! Mama! Please let me stop for a minute and look at Jesus!” But her mother replied wearily that they weren’t even half through with their shopping list and didn’t have time to stop—and walked on, dragging her disappointed daughter behind her. The child’s words rang in my heart for a long time after that. Please let me stop for a minute and look at Jesus. I thought of all the minutes that had sped by me that busy Christmas in the mad rush of life that is accelerated at the height of the shopping season. How many minutes had I spent shopping and buying presents and preparing decorations and food in the great wind-up to Christmas, and how many had I spent with the One whose birth and life is the true meaning of this celebrative season? Jesus is always so very close to us. He is “at our right hand” and “closer than a brother” (Psalm 16:8; Proverbs 18:24). He is within speaking distance. His birth is the essence of Christmas. His gifts to all—peace, love, and joy of heart—are the essential magic of Christmas. With arms outstretched He holds out these gifts to us and says, “Come to Me. I will give you rest. Learn from Me, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–30). But these we will never receive if we forge on, endless shopping and to-do lists in hand, too busy to stop and even notice He’s right there. Like the old saying, “Dew never falls on a stormy night,” we rarely experience the sweetness and joy of time spent with Jesus while in an anxious and feverish rush of accomplishment. But the dew of Heaven and the blessings of Christmas fall peacefully on our hearts and lives when we stop activated December 2001
for a moment to get quiet and remember Him. To go on without Him is forfeiting the only real, lasting joy and perfect love that can be experienced in this life and shared forever. Why don’t we stop and enjoy—really enjoy—what Christmas means? Cut down our task lists. Enjoy the beauty. There are so many wonderful things about Christmas and so many beautiful things to see. It would be a shame to miss it all, wrapping this and wrapping that, rushing for this last thing and that, cooking and preparing so much for a feast, cluttering our Christmas with so many unnecessary things. And should we not stop to enjoy anything of life until after Christmas, the fury with which we proceed will send us reeling into the New Year sighing, “I just survived Christmas!” Jesus came to bless our lives. That is why we have Christmas. He said He came to bring us life, and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). And the apostle Paul tells us, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace and life in all their
fullness need not elude us. They are ours to enjoy this Christmas if we’ll give Jesus a chance in our lives and a place in our hearts. Let me take a minute with Jesus. The true presence of Christmas is found with Him. Let the celebration of His birth touch my heart in a new way this year. Let me learn more about the gifts He gave me so long ago on Christmas. Let me be a part of Christmas itself by being more like Him. Let me stop and look at Jesus. Dear Jesus, I want each day that comes To share some part with You, Where I can sit, receive Your peace, And hear You speak to me. A place where I can turn aside And leave the cares of life, Where I can get the strength I need To banish storm and strife. A quiet, serene, and trusting place Where You alone can give The very blessing that I need— Here would I rest and live. ★
“LORD, FORGIVE!” The day before Christmas had been full of incidents, some of them unpleasant. Father seemed to be burdened with worries as well as bundles. Mother’s anxiety had reached the breaking point on many occasions throughout the day. Wherever the little girl went, she seemed to be in the way. Finally she was hustled off to bed. The feverish excitement of the Christmas planning had completely unnerved her. As she knelt by her bed to pray the Lord’s Prayer, she got all mixed up and prayed, “Forgive us our Christmases, as we forgive those who Christmas against us.” As we watch the tense, nervous shoppers this season, we might feel like praying as the little girl did, “Forgive us our Christmases.” —AUTHOR UNKNOWN activated December 2001
A sense of values By Virginia Brandt Berg
I WAS SITTING IN A LITTLE COFFEE overlooking the ocean, watching the boats far out to sea. Suddenly I became conscious that a man at the next table was saying something interesting, and loudly enough for everyone around him to hear. His companion had asked him the question, “Why did you dismiss Henry from your office staff?” “Because he had no sense of values,” the man replied. “He didn’t value life, health, or money, and this began to affect my business. Whenever I wanted him, he was taking a coffee break. It seemed to me that he valued a cup of coffee more than his job—and I warned him about that a number of times.” A light wind had risen, and the little sailboats on the horizon skimmed over the water. As I watched them and thought about Henry, I wondered how many people like him just skim over the surface of life, never having any sense of values and living off the nonessentials while the things that are truly worthwhile in life get
crowded out. Can you imagine someone ruining an expensive pair of gloves by picking up a penny from an oily driveway, or lighting a dollar bill to find a lost penny in the gutter? Well, there are people like Henry who do that with their lives, and they do it because they lack a sense of values. I wonder sometimes if that’s what’s the matter with our confused world. On a stupendous scale, we have put the emphasis on material things instead of spiritual things. Jesus’ emphasis was always on the spiritual. What’s the great, outstanding purpose of life? What are we here for? God has entrusted us with the sacred responsibilities of loving Him, pleasing Him, and loving others, but do we truly put those things first? Too often we shove God and the things of the spirit aside in order to give some trivial, momentary interest first place. When that’s the case, all of life is thrown out of balance and the result is only disharmony and confusion, activated August 2002
No one will ever be great in life or soul without a sense of values.
and the only remedy is to put God back in His rightful place. Are the things that really matter in the proper perspective in your life? Do you have a sense of values? Or do you let little trivialities and material things come before your relationship with God or finding His best for you through reading His Word and prayer? The Bible contains the Word of God. There’s life in that Word. It’s food for your soul and absolutely essential to your spiritual growth. If you excuse yourself by saying you don’t have time for it, then your soul will suffer; you will be stunted spiritually. Prayer is communion with God. Without prayer, you go through life powered only by your own puny strength and wisdom, when you could have His. God’s Word says, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), but it also says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). The Lord’s strength comes only through prayer and reading His Word. A friend of mine spent all of her years scraping, digging, and slaving to build and decorate a little cottage where she could be comfortable for
a few years, and just a few months after it was finished she was stricken with an incurable disease. While I was at her bedside she said to me, “Time is closing in on me! I spent the little time I had on things that don’t have a bit of value in the place where I’m going.” She had a sense of values, but too late. How sad! I wish sometimes we could see all the events of life framed in the results they lead to. What a change there would be in our lives! We wouldn’t give priority to trivialities when eternal things are calling. The one that lives only for today instead of for eternity has no sense of values. Every day someone will say, not in words, perhaps, but by his actions, “I just don’t care about getting a mansion in Heaven. I’m not interested in eternal things. Give me a mansion here instead, or a little fame and glory. I’ll take my satisfaction here.” And the King of kings who has offered him a crown of glory and an eternal Home among the mansions of Heaven is put aside for these “other things” that really have no value. Please don’t let that be you! •
LOOKING FOR LIFE? If you’re looking for meaning in life and want to put priority on things of eternal value, the first step is to receive the most precious gift ever bestowed—salvation, the promise of eternal life in Heaven. All you have to do is open your heart and life to the gift-giver, Jesus, by sincerely praying a prayer like this one: Thank You, Jesus, for the great gift You are offering me—forgiveness for my sins and eternal life with You in Heaven. I open my heart to You and accept this gift that You paid for with Your own life when You died for me on the cross. Please give me a new life, a fresh start, with Your sense of values. Help me to learn to know You better, find Your plan for me, and to love You and others more. Amen. • activated August 2002
Proceed as if possessing By Virginia Brandt Berg
After you have asked God for something, take action. Act on your faith. Put God on the spot by showing Him that you believe so strongly that He is going to answer that you are going ahead as if He had already answered. When I was the pastor of a church in Wagoner, Oklahoma, there was a girl named Etta, who wanted very much to go to college to prepare for Christian service. For two years she prayed for money to pay her tuition, and during the second year she got deeply in debt. The situation looked impossible. She came to me in tears and much discouraged. I asked her if she knew that it was God’s will for her to go, and she answered that she was absolutely sure it was. “Then I would certainly not wait any longer,” I said. “You’ve been asking the Lord for the money for two years, but you have never shown by your actions that you really expect Him to send it. If you really believed He was going to answer your prayer and give you the funds you need, what would you do?” “I’d get my clothes ready, write the school that I was coming, and make all the other arrangements,” Etta answered. “Then that is exactly what I would do if I were you. Stand on His promise and make the necessary arrangements, just as you would if you had the money in your hand. Real faith would proceed as if it 8
PUT G OD GOD ON THE SPOT
You are coming to a King, Large petitions with you bring; For His grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much! —John Newton (1725–1807)
activated VOL 3, ISSUE 10
had already happened. If someone were to promise you the money, you would believe them, but God Himself has already promised in His Word, in Psalm 37:4, to give you the desire of your heart, yet you don’t believe Him.” “But Mrs. Berg,” the dear girl answered, “I do believe Him! I’ll prove it! I’m going home to pack my clothes and get ready. School opens in a very short time, and I’ll have to hurry.” Etta never wavered from that moment on. She went straight ahead with her preparations, just as if she already had the funds. She was positive that the Bank of Heaven would open its windows at just the right time. The day before she was supposed to leave, she phoned me to say that her clothing and other belongings were all ready to pack, but she had no suitcase. Over the phone we claimed the Scripture promise, “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). Then I went about my work and forgot the incident. About an hour later a friend phoned. She was cleaning house, she said, and found a number of things she didn’t need any longer and wanted to get rid of, including a large suitcase. She wondered if I could use it. “You’re filling an order from Heaven,” I said with a laugh, “only you have the wrong address. The Lord wants the suitcase sent to Etta’s home.” activated VOL 3, ISSUE 10
The next night a number of us went to the train station to see Etta off to college. “Mrs. Berg,” she whispered, “the money hasn’t come yet, but I am not the least bit frightened. I absolutely know the Lord has heard my prayer and I know that I have what I asked Him for” (1 John 5:14–15). I thought there must have been a mistake somewhere. Some friends had told me they had taken a collection amongst themselves to help Etta, but... Just then I heard the train whistle in the distance and saw the glow of the headlight. Etta searched my face for a clue. What could I say? Suddenly one of the people who had taken the collection came running up to us. “I was doing some work at the office, when I remembered the money the others had given me to give to Etta,” he said. “And here is some more—a gift from my wife and me.” “And here is more,” said another friend who had also just come to see Etta off. “All aboard!” called the conductor. “All aboard!” “All aboard God’s promises!” I said to Etta. “It pays to believe, doesn’t it?” “It’s wonderful,” she answered, “simply wonderful, what faith can do!” •
PRAYER PRAYER FOR FOR T THE HE DAY DAY Prayer for the day
When I am with You, Jesus, I know that everything’s going to be okay; You’re going to work everything out. I know You’re going to take care of all the other things I thought I should be doing instead, because when I put them all aside to be with You, that’s when You tell me, “Now I can do them for you. ” Thank You for carrying the load and handling all the problems I would be struggling with right now on my own if I weren’t here, bringing them to You. •
HAVEYOUEVERTHOUGHTABOUTthe choiceMoseshadtomakewhenhe forsookEgypt?Thatchoiceiswhat madeMosesgreat.Solomonisknown forhiswisdom,Danielforhisvision, Davidforhispsalms,andPeterforhis zeal,butMoseswasgreatbecauseof thechoicehemade. WereadinHebrewschapter11 thatMosesisincludedamongthe heroesoffaithinGod’shalloffame: “ByfaithMoses,whenhewascometo years,refusedtobecalledthesonof Pharaoh’sdaughter;choosingrather
tosufferaflictionwiththepeopleof God,thantoenjoythepleasuresofsin foraseason;esteemingthereproach ofChristgreaterrichesthanthe treasuresinEgypt:forhehadrespect untotherecompenseofthereward” (Hebrews11:24–26KJV). Moses,whomasababePharaoh’s daughterhadfoundinabasketintall reedsalongtheNileRiver,wasreared inPharaoh’spalaceinwealthand privilege.Butwhenhecameofage, hehadtomakeachoice.Hewasa Hebrew,notanEgyptian:Wouldhebe activated VOL4,ISSUE10
Ifhechoseto beoneofthem, hewouldhave toforgetallthe comfortand luxuryhehad alwayshad.
truetoEgyptandwearthecrownof thepharaohs,orwouldhechoosehis ownpeople? Whatacrisisitwasforthisyoung man,Moses!Imaginehimclimbing tosomehighplaceandlookingatthe lightsofthepalaceastheytwinkled fromtheimperialcity—thepalace withallitsrichesandbeauty,the thingsthathehadbeenusedtoall hislife.Thenhelookedsouthtoward thepyramids,wherehisownpeople workedasslavesofPharaoh,making bricks.Astheyworkedtothesoundof theslavedriver’swhip,Moses’heart burnedwithinhim.Theywerehis people,butifhechosetobeoneof them,hewouldhavetoforgetallthe comfortandluxuryhehadalways had;hewouldwearthedespisedgarb oftheslavesandrenounceforeverhis fostermother,Pharaoh’sdaughter. Buthemadehischoice,asGod’sWord says,“tosufferaflictionwiththe peopleofGod[rather]thantoenjoy thepleasuresofsinforaseason.” Nowthese“pleasuresofsin”were moretemptingthanonemightthink fromthissimplestatement,because Egyptatthattimewasthemost attractivespotonearth.Hergranaries wereburstingwithgrain,andthe wealthoftheworldpouredintoher treasury—andMosescouldhavebeen heirtoitall! Moseshadbeeneducated“inall thewisdomoftheEgyptians”(Acts 7:22),soheknewexactlywhatsuch achoicewouldmean:turningfrom thepossessionsofthemightiest empireonearthtoslavery.Buthewas notonlyeducatedandwise,hewas farsighted;hewaswillingtosacriice presentpleasureforfuturegain.“He hadrespectuntotherecompenseof thereward.”Inotherwords,heknew thatthepleasuresofsinwereonly
foramoment,butGod’srewardfor choosingrightlywasforalleternity. Mosesunderstoodthatwithout God’sfavoramillionaireisonlya pauper.TheapostlePaulwroteof Jesus,“ThoughHewasrich,yetfor yoursakesHebecamepoor”(2Corinthians8:9).Thisisthechoicethat Mosesmadetoo. Moses’choiceentailedpovertyand sufferingandterriblehumiliation, buthedecidedhewouldratherbe theleastofGod’schildrenhereand wearacrownforeverinHeaven (James1:12;Revelation2:10).Andso hetookastandwithGod’schildren, thathemightstandwiththembefore theeternalKing. StandingwithMosesonthesteps ofthepalaceitmayhavelookedlike afoolishchoice,butstandingonthe stepsofthethroneofGodinHeaven, asMoseslooksback,whatawiseand gloriouschoiceitwas!Hebecameone oftheworld’sgreatestleaders,andhis inluencereachestothisveryday. Somanytodayareshort-sighted whentheymaketheirchoices;they canseeonlythepresent.Theysell outthefutureforthepresent.They’re blindtotherewardthatcouldhave beentheirs. Whataboutyourchoices?Doyou sufferfromshort-sightednessofthe soul,spiritualmyopia,whereyou’re livingmostlyforthepresent?Ordo youkeepyourheartandmindonthe greatrewardGodhaspromisedto thosewhoputHimandHiskingdom irst? Arepleasuresblindingyourvision tothegreatrewardGodhasinstore foryou?Therealitiesofeternityare pleasuresforevermore!Godlovesyou andhasgreatplansforyourlife,but Heleavesthechoicetoyou.Makethe rightone.• 5
ThetrueChris THETRUECHRISTMAS BYVIRGINIABRANDTBERG
SOMEPEOPLECANNOTUNDERSTAND howGodcouldhavecomedownand beenwrappedinhumanflesh,but Hecame.Thatisn’tstrangetome.In fact,itisquiteeasyformetobelieve becauseIseeJesusborninhuman heartseveryday.Hecomesandlives inheartsandtransformslives,andto methat’sagreatmiracle—thatHecan beborninyourheartandmyheart andlivethereinourhearts,identifyingHimselfwithusthatway. God’sWordsaysthatJesusshallbe called“wonderful.”“UntousaChild isborn,untousaSonisgiven;and thegovernmentwillbeuponHis
shoulder.AndHisnamewillbecalled wonderful,Counselor,MightyGod, everlastingFather,PrinceofPeace” (Isaiah9:6). WonderfulHisnamebecauseHe waswonderfulinHislife,goingabout everywheredoinggoodandhealing allthatwereoppressed(Acts10:38). WonderfulHisdeathbecauseHedied foryouandme,thatwemighthave eternallife(1Peter2:24;1John4:9). WonderfulHisresurrectionbecause Herosefromthedead,thatwemay alsoberesurrected(1Corinthians 15:20–21).Andwonderfulnowin HislifeafterdeathbecauseHe livestointercedeforus (Hebrews7:25). Butitisnotenough thatChrist,theKing ofkings,wasbornin Bethlehembeneath thestarthatheraldedHiscoming; Hemustbeborn withinyourheart beforeHefindsHis throne.Won’tyou letHimcomeinto yourheart? Perhapsyou’ve seenthefamous paintingbyWilliam HolmanHuntin whichJesusisseen standingbeforea activated VOL4,ISSUE12
stmas closeddoor,withalanterninhand. SometimeafterHunthadfinished whatwastobecomehismostfamous work,someonecametohimandtold himthathe’dmadeamistake:There wasnodoorknob.“Ididn’tmakea mistake,”Huntanswered.“Thedoor mustbeopenedfromtheinside.The doorknobisontheinside.” Jesus,theSavior,canneverenter adoorunlessitisopenedfromthe inside.God’sWordsays,“Asmanyas receivedHim,tothemHegavethe righttobecomechildrenofGod” (John1:12).ReceiveHimthisChristmas!Hewilltransformyourlife. WelcomeHimintoyourheart! Ifyouhaven’tyetreceivedGod’s mostwonderfulgift,Jesus,youcan rightnowbyprayingthefollowing prayer: ThankYou,Jesus,forcomingto earthandlivinglikeoneofus,for sufferingallthethingsthatwego throughsothatIcouldknowmy heavenlyFather’slove.ThankYoufor dyingforme,soIcanbereconciled withHimandhaveeternallifein Heaven.IreceiveYouasmySavior now.Pleaseforgivemeforallthe wrongsI’veevercommitted,andhelp metogettoknowandloveYouina deepandpersonalway.Amen.h activated VOL4,ISSUE12
AsyouandyourlovedonesgatherthisChristmas, youmaywanttotaketheopportunitytothanktheLord forallHegaveuswhenHecametoearthasababyso longago. Herearesomeshortprayersofthanksgivingthatcan bereadprivatelyorinagroup,takingturns. MayGodblessyouwithapraise-illedChristmas!
Christmas!—Howspecial thistimeis!ThankYou, Jesus,forgivingusthis specialoccasiontolove andenjoyYouandeach other. Itwasthesongofangels thatledtheshepherdsto Yourside.Somaywe,by thesoundsofChristmas, beledtofallonourknees inpraisefulworshipof You. ThewonderofYourlove, thetreasureofYourSpirit, thewarmthofYourtouch, thejoyofYourpresence, salvation,happiness,purpose,peaceofmind,and somuchmore—thank Youforfreelygivingusso manygifts! Happybirthday,Jesus! WeloveandpraiseYou forallYouhavedone forus,andforbeingour specialfriend. YouarethesweetestOne weknow.Helpustolove YounotonlyonChristmasDay,buteveryday throughouttheyear.
ThankYouforleaving Heaventobringabitof Heavendowntous. Youaremorebeautiful thananyChristmastree, morewonderfulthanany present,moreexciting thananyChristmasparty! Yougivemeaningtoour lives. JustlookwhatYou started,Jesus,bysaying yestoYourFatherwhen HeaskedYoutocome hereforoursakes!Help metoalwayssayyesto Youinreturn. WithYouinourhearts, Christmastakesonanew andwonderfulmeaning. HelpustogiveYourlove tootherssotheycan enjoyChristmaslikewe do. ThankYouforChristmas. ThankYouforgivingus thisspecialdaytoenjoy Youandeachother. ThankYouforlivingand dyingforus.ThankYou fortheunendinggiftof lifethatwecanshare withothers. 5
eginning Again BYVIRGINIABRANDTBERG
TheLandofBeginningAgain Iwishthereweresomewonderful place Called“TheLandofBeginningAgain,” Whereallourmistakes Andallourheartaches Andallourpoorselishgreed, Couldbedropped Likeashabbyoldcoatatthedoor Andneverputonagain. Iwishwecouldcomeonitall unawares Likethehunterwhoindsalosttrail, AndIwishthattheone Whomourblindnesshasdone Thegreatestinjusticeofall, Couldbeatthegate Likeanoldfriendwhowaits Forthecomradehe’sgladdesttohail. —LOUISEFLETCHERTARKINGTON
I’MGLADTOSAYTHEREISSUCHAPLACEasThe LandofBeginningAgain,andyoucaninditno matterwhoyouareorwhatyourpasthasbeen.You’ll indthatplaceintheseversesfromtheBible: “Thisisthemessagewhichwehaveheardfrom Him[Jesus]anddeclaretoyou,thatGodislight andinHimisnodarknessatall.…Ifwewalkinthe lightasHeisinthelight,wehavefellowshipwith oneanother,andthebloodofJesusChristHisSon cleansesusfromallsin.Ifweconfessoursins”—here isthatplacewhereyoucandroptheshabbyoldcoat ofyourpastlife—”Heisfaithfulandjusttoforgiveus oursinsandtocleanseusfromallunrighteousness” (1John1:5,7,9). Thatpassage,likesomanyothersintheBible,containsawonderfulpromisefromyourheavenlyFather toyou,HischildwhoHedearlyloves.Godhasgiven you“exceedinglygreatandpreciouspromises,that throughtheseyoumaybepartakersofthedivine nature”(2Peter1:4). GodwillbackHispromiseswithallofHispower andability,butthereareconditionsattachedtothese promises—conditionsthatyoumustmeet.God setsHisownterms,buthowblessedyoubecome whenyoumeetGod’sterms!Whenyousubmitto Hisconditions,thewealthofHisblessingsandriches cometumblingdownonyou.Thesearethekeysthat unlockthetreasurevaultsofHeaven:knowingand meetingtheconditionsattachedtoeachpromise. Godnotonlywillsbutlongsforyoutohaveyour everyneedsuppliedandthedeepestdesiresof yourheartfulilled.KingDavidwroteinthePsalms, “DelightyourselfalsointheLord,andHeshallgive youthedesiresofyourheart”(Psalm37:4).Butnote thecondition:“DelightyourselfintheLord.”Godwill giveyouthedesiresofyourheart—Hesaidsoandit isso—butthetermsmustbemet.Firstyoudelight yourselfinHimbylovingHimirstandforemostand doingyourbesttopleaseHim,andthenHegrants yourdesires. God’stermsaren’thard.Jesussaid,“CometoMe, allyouwholaborandareheavyladen,andIwill giveyourest.TakeMyyokeuponyouandlearnfrom Me,forIamgentleandlowlyinheart,andyouwill indrestforyoursouls.ForMyyokeiseasyandMy activated VOL5,ISSUE1
burdenislight”(Matthew11:28–30). Somanywonderfulthingsarepromisedyouinthe Bible—forgivenessofsin,joy,peace,eternallife—that Icouldn’tbegintolistthemall!Thosepromisesare thereforyouandcouldchangeyourlifecompletely. Butyoumustmeettheconditions,andtheirstconditionisthatyoucometoGodandhumblyconfess thatyouneedHishelpandforgiveness(1John1:9). Hecanandwillforgiveanything,butonlyifyouask Himto. God’sWordsays,“Hewhocovershissinswillnot prosper,butwhoeverconfessesandforsakesthem willhavemercy”(Proverbs28:13).Don’tbelikeEmmy themaidwho,whenthewomansheworkedfor askedher,“Emmy,didyousweepundertherug?” answered,“Yes,ma’am,Isweepeverythingunderthe rug!” Thingssweptundertherughaveawayofcoming backtohauntus.Itdoesn’tpaytopretendalliswell whenit’snot,butifyouwillhumblyacceptGod’s
“CometoMe,allyouwholaborandare heavyladen,andIwillgiveyourest.” termsforforgiveness,you’vegotit!Assoonasyou confessyouareasinnerandturntoJesusChrist,the Savior,forhelp,Hewillcomeintoyourlifeandgive youchangeandfreedomlikeyou’veneverknown! “HewhodidnotspareHisownSon,butdelivered Himupforusall,howshallHenotwithHimalso freelygiveusallthings?”(Romans8:32)—includinga newbeginning! — Ifyouhaven’tyetexperiencedGod’sloveand forgiveness,youcanrightnowbysincerelyprayinga simpleprayerlikethefollowing: ThankYou,Jesus,forpayingthepriceformy mistakesandwrongs,soIcanbeforgivenandput mypastbehindme.ThankYouthatYoucleanseme fromallsin—pastsin,sinnow,andfuturesin—by faith.IaskYounow,dearJesus,topleasecomeinto myheart,forgiveme,andgivemeYourgiftofeternal life.Amen.• 5
It took a miracle to put the stars in place. It took a miracle to hang the world in space. But when He saved my soul, Cleansed and made me whole, It took a miracle of love and grace. —JOHN W. PETERSON
FINDING FAITH FOR MIRACLES BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
The power of God hasn’t changed, so whenever that power is met by the faith of some sincere believer, you can expect to see a miracle.
I CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW ANYONE CANNOT BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, when the Bible contains so many accounts of miracles. Of course, you meet some intellectuals who contend—often in an inflated academic style and supercilious language—that the miracles recorded in the Bible either never happened or can be explained scientifically, or if they did happen, such miracles are impossible today. Well, those miracles did happen just like the Bible says they did, and in every case it only took two elements: the power of God and someone’s faith. The power of God hasn’t changed, of course, so whenever that power is met by the faith of some sincere believer, you can expect to see a miracle. It happens all the time! Faith in the Bible creates faith in the miraculous. The Bible not only reveals the acts of the supernatural God, but it also imparts faith to anyone who reads it with an open heart (Romans 10:17). The Bible has a miraculous, transforming effect on our lives, and that gives us faith for other miracles. Faith in God and His
Son Jesus Christ, faith in the Christ of the Bible, makes for faith in our everyday lives. That’s because real faith believes in the changeless Christ, and His power brings the same results today as it did during His earthly ministry and through His original followers. Shortly before His crucifixion Jesus promised, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). Then after His resurrection, when He appeared to His disciples, He said that signs (miracles) would follow those who believed in Him, and miracles did follow (Mark 16:17–18, 20). It wasn’t long before others were saying of the first Christians, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6). Those first followers and the ones who were to come had such confidence that the supernatural power of God was at their command that they dared to challenge the mighty Roman Empire and shook it to its very foundations. activated
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If Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), why is it so hard to believe that He, in answer to prayer, will do the same kinds of miracles today? Wherever you find real faith manifested, you will find miracles. God’s faithfulness to His Word absolutely compels Him to perform miracles. So when you don’t see miracles it must be due to an absence of faith, not because Christ or His promises have changed in the very least. If you live in His Word, if you dig out His promises and build your faith on them, if you trust Him to keep His word even when it seems impossible, you’ll see things come to pass that are impossible in the natural realm. You’ll see God at work in the realm of the supernatural. I pray that God will help you discover a sense of the supernatural and learn to have complete confidence in the reality of divine power that’s yours through the miraculous Word of God. “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). It’s been my practice for many years, whenever some desperate need arose, to trust God to work a miracle. I didn’t always get the miracle I was praying for, but that was never through any fault of God’s—and He did send miraculous answers to prayer many more times than He kept me waiting or said no. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect”—full of faith—“toward Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 KJV). His compassion and love for you, His willingness to come to your rescue in times of need, and His faithfulness to His promises are just the same today. He longs to see faith and meet your needs. The next time you need a miracle, claim this promise in utter confidence: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). His power is just the same today, and it’s there for you. God is still on the throne, and prayer—wholehearted, full-offaith prayer—changes things! • activated
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THE FAITH CONNECTION A certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” —MARK 5:25–34 5
BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
HE COULD THEN REFRESH OUR SOULS, CLARIFY OUR THOUGHTS, AND TAKE AWAY THE STRAINED FEELING.
hardly stand it—the pressures are so great!” People talk about the strain they’re under, and it can be seen on their faces. We are living in the rapids of time. The speed and relentlessness with which we move is most remarkable, but it takes its toll on our bodies, minds, and spirits. As I tried to get quiet in my soul today, I realized how much stress and pressure had gotten into me. But I know where I can find repose. Webster’s Dictionary defines repose as “a state of being at rest.” Other meanings are “freedom from worry; peace of mind; calmness; tranquility.” That sounds so nice, but how does one get to that state? How are people going to find such repose when they’re on the run and in a rush all the time? 4
take time in God’s presence, when I read His Word and search the Scriptures, and when I search my own heart and spend time in prayer, the peace that He promises is restored—sweet rest and repose that only God can give. The remedy takes all that strain out of the spirit; it relieves unrest of mind and tension of body. So many people in this jet-propelled age have to take tranquilizers to calm themselves down. I read recently of a man
from work and said to his wife, “I can’t believe all the things that happened in the office today! I’ve been under such strain, such tension, that I can hardly stand it! Give me one of those pills to calm me down.” So she gave him the pill, but just about that time the phone rang and he was ordered to come back to the office because a very important customer was ready to give a big order. So he said to his wife, “Where are those pep pills? I’ve got activated
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to have one!” People take one pill to pep up and another one to calm down. Pressures are many, and some people have no other recourse but to pop pills. But the Christian does have another recourse! The Christian has his quiet time—the time of meditation with God that will cool the fever of this hectic rush. But we have to do our part to get quiet with the Lord. Here are some verses that demonstrate this reality. “Moses said to them, ‘Stand still, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you’” (Numbers 9:8). He had to get those around him quiet before he could even hear what the Lord wanted to say to them. In 1 Samuel 9:27, the prophet Samuel said to King Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us. … But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the Word of God!” In counseling and praying with people, it can be so hard sometimes to get them quiet enough to listen to God’s Word. A wonderful verse about that is 1 Samuel 12:7, where the prophet Samuel says to the people, “Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord.”
WHAT I NEED
In Job 37:14, God says, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” David talked about meditating and communing with God at night or fi rst thing in the morning, before the rush of the day begins. “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). And God says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). If only we would get to this quiet place so we could seek God’s presence and read His Word! He could then refresh our souls, clarify our thoughts, and take away the strained feeling. Some people think it’s a waste of time to
stop to meditate, to stop and pray, yet millions throughout the ages have found that only in the presence of God could they fi nd rest and peace and subdue every symptom of pressure. Prayer makes available the power of God that can take all the strain out of life. Won’t you think about it? His Word says that they who believe enter into the Lord’s rest (Hebrews 4:3). God’s Word goes on to say, “There remains therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). You don’t have to wait for Heaven to get that rest! You can have it right now! God bless you and bring you into His place of perfect peace. •
MARCIA, AGE FOUR, was my Sunday morning commit-
ment. Today Marcia had exhausted my surprise bag of coloring books and puzzles in the first seven minutes. Even the candy failed to hold her attention for more than thirty seconds. I took Marcia’s face in my hands and, looking into her eyes, whispered, “What do you need to make you happy today?” Returning my gaze, she whispered, “I need to sit on your lap!” I took her in my arms. She nestled down until her soft cheek rested against the skin of my neck, and she barely stirred for the next hour. I remember days when my own behavior was an adult version of Marcia’s. I was restless, dissatisfied, impossible to please. When that happens again, I hope I will be as wise as Marcia and as honest about my needs. My restlessness melts away when I rest in Jesus. —AUTHOR UNKNOWN
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(At the time of this experience, Virginia Brandt Berg [1886–1968] was a helpless, hopeless invalid. Paralyzed from the waist down in an accident, she had been confined to bed for most of the previous five years. She also had life-threatening heart and lung problems, and suffered various other side effects from numerous unsuccessful operations to try to restore the use of her legs. Her condition had steadily deteriorated until she weighed only 78 pounds [35 kg].)
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ONE EVENING AS I LAY ALONE on my sickbed, there suddenly came into my heart an intense longing; I felt compelled to cry aloud to some unseen power for help. I could not raise my voice above a whisper, so in an earnest whisper I pled, “If it could be possible that there is a God out there somewhere, reveal Yourself to me.” I seemed driven by some power beyond myself to call and call, so over and over I repeated, “If You are there, please, oh please, for mercy’s sake, reveal Yourself to me.” As though in response to my plea, a deep conviction of sin came over my heart. I felt as though I were the vilest of sinners. This was unusual for the simple reason that I had always been rather self-righteous. I had lived a very moral life and was quite proud of it—very self-satisfied. It was as though my eyes had suddenly been opened and I saw myself in my true condition for the first time in my life—my past good works appeared as nothing. The burden of sin and self increased until it seemed greater than I could bear, and at length I began to weep. activated VOL 5, ISSUE 10
RAN INIA B
G BY VIR
I was not alone any longer, for I felt His presence in that room as real as if some member of my family were standing by my sickbed, and I was talking to Him as naturally as a little child talks to a parent. I told Him all about it, and I knew He heard and understood, for a sweet, indescribable peace and a cool restfulness came over my troubled spirit. I had seen no vision, heard no voice, nor otherwise evidenced anything with the natural senses, but had made such real, personal contact with Him that I could truly say, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him” (2 Timothy 1:12). All my unbelief had fled. God was real indeed, and I was a “new creature” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV). The light had broken in! • (THE ABOVE IS AN EDITED EXCERPT FROM THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT, THE LIFE STORY OF VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG. THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT IS AVAILABLE AT: WWW.ACTIVATED.ORG.)
O NE OF THE MOST COMPELLING STORIES in the Bible is the one about four teenagers, found in the first chapter of the book of Daniel. After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar instructed Ashpenaz, the chief of his eunuchs, to “bring some of the children of Israel in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:3–4). In other words, the king’s eunuchs were to take these outstanding young Israelites—four of whom were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—and make them real Babylonians. 4
It goes on to say, “The king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank” (verse 5). After three years of instruction and this special diet, these young servants in training were to stand before the king. But because the Israelites were forbidden by Old Testament laws to eat certain foods, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (verse 8). “And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, ‘I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces
BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
CONFORMITY OR CONVICTION?
looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king’” (verse 10). But Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had made up their minds that they would not compromise their convictions, so Daniel asked if they could eat their own food for 10 days. “‘Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.’ … And at the end of the ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies” (verses 13,15). It goes on to say, “As for these four young men, God ACTIVATED VOL 6, ISSUE 2
gave knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” At the appointed time, King Nebuchadnezzar interviewed the young men, and “among them all none was found like Daniel, [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego]; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm” (verses 19–20). How courageous these young men were! It seemed as though much more could have been theirs if they had been willing to conform to the Babylonian way of life, but they wouldn’t. As a result, God was able to use them mightily for His glory, and in the long run Daniel was exalted above all the king’s other counselors. As has been the case throughout history, many people today are willing to compromise their principles in order to be accepted or more successful. But this story shows how one such seemingly small decision can have a great effect in the years to come. If Daniel and his friends had compromised early in life, they would not have stood their ground later. Daniel would not have triumphed in the lions’ den (Daniel chapter 6), or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (Daniel chapter 3). They were in a difficult position and took a stand. We ACTIVATED VOL 6, ISSUE 2
today who love God and want to stay true to Him are in a similar position, as all around us people try to rule God out of their lives and thoughts and programs. Rock-solid realities—God’s sovereignty, the truth of His Word, and godly standards of moral conduct—are being replaced by the shifting sands of apostasy, rationalism, and materialism. What about you? Will you stand up for your convictions, or go along with the crowd? Will you stand out for Jesus Christ and the only real standard for today, the Word of God, or will you do that which seems more expedient and compromise? Will you take a stand against the world, or cut the corners of bedrock principles and make dim and shadowy the Word of God? The Kingdom of God is founded on absolute things— absolute truth and candor and sincerity. And always there is the kingdom of evil that is no less absolute in its falseness. The question is whether or not you are going to see that the issues of Christian living and Christian duty are sharply defined. Will you take a definite stand today? You can’t conform to both the things of God and the things of the world. The Christian life is a transformed life, not a conformed life! God’s Word says, “They trusted in the Lord and were never confounded” (Psalm 22:5). You will not be confounded if you trust in Him fully and never conform at the price of compromise.
HAVE CONVICTION, HAVE COURAGE!
To deny self is to become a nonconformist. The Bible tells us not to be conformed to this world either physically or intellectually or spiritually. BILLY GRAHAM You have to have conviction, or you have no reason to live. And then you have to do something about your conviction, or you can’t stand to live with yourself. D.B.B. There’s an allegiance that is one and undivided in the Christian. It’s a devoted, dedicated life—a life surrendered to the Christian ideal. Therein lies its power. V.B.B. The fanaticisms that we should fear most are those that could be confused with tolerance. FERNANDO ARRABAL Have courage—moral courage, the courage of one’s convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the ageold struggle—the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other. GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR
The Lower Lights BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
When my husband’s health was declining and I was visiting him at the hospital, I would see other patients in waiting rooms or in their beds and think about what they must be suffering. Some of them, especially the very aged, would be lying there all alone, day after day. I visited the hospital daily for about a month, and no one ever came to see them. No one cared enough to come. After awhile, this bed or that bed was empty, and still no one had come. Then I would look out the window of my husband’s hospital room, out to the highway where cars were rushing back and forth, and I would think about poor, lost humanity—so many lonely, sorrowful people, so many broken hearts. I realized then how much everyone—whether dying or rushing through life—needs the Father’s love and mercy. I realized, too, how much the Lord needs us as lights to point people to His heart of love. There in the hospital this hymn would come to me, and I would sometimes sing it to my husband, sitting at his bedside:
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy From His lighthouse ever more, But to us He gives the keeping Of the lights along the shore. Let the lower lights be burning, Send a gleam across the wave. Some poor fainting, struggling seaman, You may rescue, you may save. Dark the night of sin has settled, Loud the angry billows roar; Eager eyes are watching, longing, For the lights along the shore. Trim your feeble lamp, my brother, Some poor sailor, tempest tossed Is trying now to make the harbor, And in darkness may be lost. —“The Lower Lights,” music and lyrics by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the upper lights, but we are the lower lights along the shore. God has entrusted us with some sacred responsibilities—certain things that should have the first priority in our life. Lots of things demand our attention, and there is so little time for them all. If we’re not careful, we will put off or miss what is truly important. What a blessing you could be to your family and neighbors—your “neighbor” being anyone God puts in your path who needs His love and your love, anyone He wants to love and help through you.
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STRENGTH FROM WEAKNESS
we a k n e s s B Y VIRGINIA B R ANDT B ERG
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?” the Bible prophet Isaiah asks in chapter 40 of the book that bears his name. Not known what?—“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth … gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31).
The central promise there is, “He gives power to the weak.” The apostle Paul said something similar. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). It’s interesting to note that Paul wrote those words to the Greeks, who exalted intellect and physical beauty and prowess—man and his achievements— and had no use for a weakling. Yet we know that Paul had some physical impairment, his “thorn in the flesh,” as he called it (2 Corinthians 12:7), and the Greeks said of him, “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10). The fact that he had been scorned, stoned, whipped, and imprisoned didn’t help his reputation either. In short, Paul did not at all measure up to the Greeks’ ideas of strength. What the Greeks didn’t understand is that God frequently works contrary to human logic and natural expectations. He says in His Word, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). What the Greeks called weakness, God calls strength.
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It’s very often people who are not particularly gifted, nor highly trained, nor learned in man’s wisdom that God is able to do the most with. Because they are humble, emptied of self, weak in themselves, and depend on God for strength, He can work through them. He supplements such weakness with His strength, and they become truly strong. “To those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29). All of God’s spiritual giants have been weak men and women who became great by God’s power. Moses was such a poor public speaker that God said his brother Aaron could do his speaking for him. But because Moses had learned to depend completely on God, he became the greatest lawgiver the world had ever known. Most of Jesus’ disciples were uneducated, but the influence of those weak men is felt to this very day. God was able to use them because they realized their weakness and put no confidence in themselves. But when we are so sure of our own strength, so confident of our own powers, the Lord leaves us to walk alone in the strength we are so sure of. I’m reminded of my daughter when she was just learning to walk. She was natu-
rally very impulsive, and she insisted on trying to walk by herself rather than let me hold her hand and guide her. She really couldn’t walk well yet, but in her independent spirit would pull away, over and over, to launch out by herself, falling, bumping, and bruising her way along—and she nearly always bore the marks of her independence on the end of her little nose. How many of us bear the marks of our independence— our wanting to lean on our own strength until, sometimes broken, defeated, and disappointed, we learn to depend on God’s strength instead of our own? What a pity that we should depend on the human when we can have the divine, that we should draw only on our natural resources when we can have all of Heaven’s resources at our command! How strange it is that we should insist on depending on our own strength and wisdom when we can have the power of Almighty God! God wants to be our ally. He longs to give us His strength, but if we insist on walking by ourselves in our own strength, just as I’ve said, He’ll leave us to stumble around till we find how little strength we actually have. He’ll walk off the stage of our lives and leave us to ourselves until the foundations of our pride and confidence in the human strength have been shaken and we at last come to the realization that our supposed strength is weakness. Look to God for strength. He says, “I dwell with him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). Ask God for His wisdom and His strength, and He will give it to you, “that the excellence of the power may be of God” and not of you (Matthew 7:7; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Then you will be able to say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). ■
FAITH OR WORKS ? It’s a dilemma that all Christians face at one time or another: How much does our success depend on faith, what we trust God to do, and how much depends on our works, what we do ourselves? What’s the balance? A rowboat makes a good analogy. Label one oar “faith” and the other oar “works,” and see how far you can get with only one or the other. Drop the oar labeled “faith” and row with the one labeled “works,” and you’ll find yourself going around in circles. Drop “works” and row with “faith,” and you’ll go the opposite direction, but still in circles. But if you apply equal pressure to both oars, you’ll find yourself moving forward in a straight line toward your goal. It takes both!
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GOD WANTS TO BE OUR ALLY. HE LONGS TO GIVE US HIS STRENGTH.
—PUNISHMENT OR PLAN?
SICKNESS W GOD KNOWS THE WAY THAT I TAKE ; WHEN HE HAS TESTED ME, I SHALL COME FORTH AS GOLD
By Virginia Brandt Berg
HEN AN OLD FRIEND VISITED ME IN MY HOME—a people who, like Job, had their faith man who had been a noted writer, purified in the furnace of affliction. Job teacher, and radio broadcaster—I was said, “God knows the way that I take; shocked at his physical state. It had when He has tested me, I shall come been some years since I’d last seen him, forth as gold” (Job 23:10). God someand in the meantime he’d had a number times uses sickness or some other hardof strokes. He walked with much difship to draw us closer to Him or get us ficulty, and could hardly speak. back on track if we’ve gone astray, but After he left, someone else who had when He does we have this promise: also been visiting at the time remarked, “Afterward it yields the peaceable fruit “What do you suppose he did, for God of righteousness to those who have to let such a thing happen to him?” The been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). question struck me as rather harsh and It’s the “afterward” that God is judgmental, and as I thought about it interested in. Afterward, many times later, I realized that this is actually a there is a great deliverance. It may fairly common reaction. When someone not always come in the form we have suffers from a debilitating sickness or prayed for or expected—it may not accident, others often wonder what sin come in the form of physical healthe person committed to bring such a ing—but if we let God accomplish His punishment upon them. purpose through it, we’ll come out But is that necessarily the case? I better for it. “In all these things we are believe that in many cases a better more than conquerors through Him explanation can be found in the Bible’s who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “And we book of John, chapter 9: “As Jesus know that all things work together for passed by, He saw a man who was blind good to those who love God, to those from birth. And His disciples asked who are the called according to His Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this purpose” (Romans 8:28). man or his parents, that he was born People often think of God in terms of blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this judgment, retribution, and punishment, man nor his parents sinned, but that whereas the Bible tells us that “God is the works of God should be revealed in love” (1 John 4:8). He deals differently him’” (John 9:1–3). with each of us and very often His ways We also seem to forget that many of are past finding out (Romans 11:33), the greatest examples of faith down but we always have the assurance that through the ages have been those of whatever He does, He does in love. www.activated.org
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THE TONGUE IN HER POEM “AN EVENING PRAYER,” C. MAUD BATTERSBY CAPTURED WHAT SHOULD BE THE PRAYER OF EACH OF US EVERY DAY. If I have wounded any soul today, If I have caused one foot to go astray, If I have walked in my own willful way, Good Lord, forgive. If I have uttered idle words or vain, If I have turned aside from want or pain, Lest I offend some other through the strain, Good Lord, forgive. Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee. Forgive the secret sins I do not see. That which I know not, Father, teach Thou me— Help me to live.
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The Bible has a lot to say about the power of the tongue for good or evil. “We all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kinwww.activated.org
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WHY DO THOUGHTLESS, UNKIND WORDS LEAP FROM OUR LIPS LIKE THEY DO? IS THERE ANY REMEDY?
dles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body” (James 3:2–6). Also, in the book of Proverbs it tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Proverbs 12:18), and, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). So if you want a long, useful, healthy life, “keep your tongue from evil” (Psalm 34:13). For your own sake and everyone else’s, watch your words! How often we wound someone with an unkind word— maybe unintentionally, but unkind just the same! Some of us carry scars on our bodies from wounds and cuts. Usually they don’t bother us, but they remind us of something that happened perhaps years ago. But how different it is with the scars left on the heart by a bitter, angry tongue! Here’s another poem that continues that thought: If I knew that a word of mine, A word not kind and true, Might leave its trace on a loved one’s face, I don’t think I’d speak it, would you? If I knew the sting of a word Might linger and leave its mark With a deep dark scar on a loved one’s heart, I don’t think I’d speak that word, would you? —George Matthas Adams You’ve probably heard or said yourself some time, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” Well, that isn’t true! Sticks and stones can make surface wounds, but words can wound even deeper and take a long time to heal. Wounds to the heart are hidden deep, and often no one but the one who carries them knows—no one, that is, except the heavenly Father. He sees them and understands, but what a shame that we should ever be the one to inflict that wound and cause that ugly scar! ACTIVATED VOL 7, ISSUE 8 | www.activated.org
YES, THERE IS! Why do thoughtless, unkind words leap from our lips like they do? Is there any remedy? Yes, there is! Thank God, there is! The remedy begins with a change in the heart—our heart— because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). There’s only one way to change the unruly tongue, and that is to transform the heart, the spirit that controls it. The remedy begins with praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we live in the Spirit, every word will be loving and true, for God is love (1 John 4:8). So open your heart to Him. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. Then as you make a habit of reading and absorbing God’s Word, you’ll come into a deep, abiding relationship with Him, and that relationship will manifest itself in your words and actions. When His Word abides in you, you can’t gossip or say unkind or bitter words. We can never control our tongue ourselves. “No man can tame the tongue” (James 3:8), but God can! “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Trust God to change you! Believe that His Word will not fail. He can come in with His Spirit, and cause kindness to flow through you because He possesses your tongue and your life. You’ll become a stream of blessing to all about you. God bless you and help you in this. He will bring you through to victory, because God is still on His throne and prayer changes things!
Yo u c a n t ra n s f o r m y o u r “d e s e r t ” into a beautiful place.
BACA By Virginia Brandt Berg
NPSALM84,KING whenever we pass through such DAVIDDECLARED,“BLESSED a place, we have an opportunity ARETHOSEWHOSESTRENGTH to turn that difficulty or ISINGOD. Who passing through disappointment, that sorrow or the Valley of Baca, make it a hardship, whatever it may be, well; the rain also covers it with into a blessing. pools. They go from strength I’m reminded now of a friend to strength” (verses 5–7, of ours who has done just that. paraphrased). Some time ago he became You won’t find the Valley of gravely ill, and it looked like the Baca on modern maps of the end of the active, productive life Holy Land, and it isn’t clear he had always led. It looked like whether David was referring to the end, but he turned his Valley an actual geographical location of Baca into a great blessing. He or using Baca (derived from “dug a well there,” and as a result the Hebrew word bakah, which he has become even more loving means “weeping”) figuratively. and patient and sympathetic If figuratively, Baca is a place and an even greater blessing to where all of us have been at others. He let his “Baca” bring some time or other. It’s a place out the best in him. of suffering, a place of sorrow, When you find yourself in the a place of hardship. It’s a dry, Valley of Baca, get down and dig dusty, desert place, this Baca. deep in your heart to find out The rest of the Psalm brings why God has brought this thing out the beautiful thought that into your life, and if He wants 10
to say something special to you about it. Do some real digging. Dig a well there, and then dig in God’s Word until He reveals His precious truth to you. You can become victorious in any situation, even one as seemingly hopeless as this Valley of Baca. You can transform your “desert” into a beautiful place, like my friend did. Someone has said that a well doesn’t look very appealing beside a running stream, and I would have to agree. I once sat by a mountain stream in a magnificent forest, and I can’t imagine any well looking nearly as refreshing as that beautiful, bubbling, crystal clear stream did. But if you put any well out in a dry, dusty desert, the water in that well will look mighty good! When, in time of sorrow and distress, you can stand on the
fearof failure FEEDING READING promises of God and trust in His goodness, others will see your faith, and it will be to you and them as a well in a hard, dry, dusty place. That’s when your faith shines brightest: when it causes you to rise above difficulty. But some people just settle down in their sorrows, they sort of luxuriate in their misery or “martyrdom.” They stay in the valley of weeping, in the Valley of Baca, like one woman who came to me for sympathy. True, she was having terrible troubles, but she saw only herself, only her sorrow. She wasn’t dwelling on God’s faithfulness or His promises or stirring up her faith at all. Her faith could have transformed her valley of suffering into a place of blessing and refreshing, but she didn’t let it. The Christian life is supposed to be one that is superior to circumstances. We can live above it all, because we have a loving, all-powerful God and all of His wonderful promises. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We are not to stay in that dry, desolate valley, nor are we to merely endure troubles. Just to endure isn’t victory! We are to praise God and shout the victory even before we see it. We are
Fearoffailureisa lackoffaithand canactuallycause failure;onlyfaith succeeds. Isaiah7:9b Matthew13:58 Matthew17:19–20 James1:6–7 Ifwerelyonlyon ourselvesandcarnal means,wehave everythingtofear becausewevery likelywillfail. 1Samuel2:9b Psalm33:16–17 Psalm127:1a Jeremiah17:5 John15:5 Whenwetrust theLord,wehave
nothingtofear, becauseHenever fails. Numbers23:19 Psalm37:5 Jeremiah32:27 Matthew19:26 Philippians4:13 Godcanwork throughuseven betterwhenwefeel weakandincapable. Isaiah40:29 2Corinthians4:7 2Corinthians 12:9–10 Ifwebelieveand obeyGod’sWord, successisassured. Deuteronomy29:9 Joshua1:8 2Chronicles20:20b
to stand upon God’s Word and prove His promises. That is how we get victory out of seeming defeat! And when we overcome that way, we find many divinely given living waters springing up. “The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength.” So the next time you find yourself in the Valley of Baca, reread this passage from Psalm 84 and put it into practice.
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Psalm1:2–3 Matthew7:24–25 James1:25 Keepyoureyeson Jesus. Psalm27:13 Matthew14:25–31 Hebrews12:2–3 Aslongasour desireistoplease andfollowtheLord, Hewillseetoit thatHispurposeis accomplished. 2Chronicles16:9a 2Chronicles31:21 Psalm37:23–24 Ecclesiastes8:12b 2Corinthians3:4–5 Philippians1:6 2Timothy1:12b
We c a n l i v e above it all , because we have a l o v i n g, all- powerful Go d and all of Hi s w o n d e r f u l p ro m i s e s .
BEGINNINGS A New Year’s Challenge By Virginia Brandt Berg
S WE STAND BEFORE THE NEW YEAR, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S IN STORE FOR US. But there’s one thing we do know, and that is that we can leave the past behind with all of its cares, pains, heartaches, and mistakes. We can’t undo one single act and we can’t unsay one single word, but if we will give our grief and regrets to God, He can make this New Year a thing of joy and beauty. The Bible promises, “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord” (Romans 8:28)—even our past. Every day of the past year is beyond our reach, and we should leave it there. God has the past in His keeping, and we should not go back and be tormented with regrets. It’s sad how some people say they’re trusting God, yet they worry about the blots and stains on the pages of their past. Once we have turned to God and confessed our mistakes and wrongdoings and asked for forgiveness, then we must not go picking around in the past and bringing up those
things again. God says of your past sins, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). If God doesn’t even remember them, why should we? The Bible calls the Devil “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10). He loves to accuse us about our past, because he wants to make us feel guilty and condemned. But God’s Word says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Rather than going back into the past and regretting this and that and weeping over things that we can’t change, we should remember www.activated.org
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God’s comforting promise, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). I once read a poem that went something like this: “If I could find the road to yesterday, I’d write the page with cleaner pen and wipe out yesterdays.” Well, I don’t want to find the path to yesterday, because I can’t wipe out anything! Only God can cover those mistakes of the past, and when He looks at us in light of the sacrifice that Jesus has already made, that makes all the difference! It isn’t God’s way to make us relive the past, and who wants to when the future is as bright as the wonderful promises of God? When I think about the year that is set before us, I think about all of the promises in God’s Word and about the wonderful things that can happen because those promises are unfailing, unchanging, and meant for each of us personally. With all of those promises, why would anyone want to go back and retrace the past, to walk the road to yesterday? The cross of Christ, like outstretched arms, stands blocking the way to the past. Because Jesus has already paid the penalty for our wrongdoing, we can and ought to say with the apostle Paul, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14). Forget those things which are behind! Forget them! Press onward and upward toward the goal and the prize! You can’t make the sands in the hourglass run backwards, and even if you ACTIVATED VOL 8, ISSUE 1 | www.activated.org
IT ISN’T GOD’S WAY TO MAKE US RELIVE THE PAST, AND WHO WANTS TO WHEN THE FUTURE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE WONDERFUL PROMISES OF GOD? had the wealth of the whole world, you couldn’t retrace the path to yesterday, you couldn’t go back. What a pity if we carry the burden of the past when the Lord paid such a price to lift that burden and set us free! “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe,” as the old hymn so beautifully expresses. A young man once came up to me after I’d spoken to a large group about that. He was an ex-convict just out of prison, and he couldn’t believe that it was so easy, that God would cleanse his past if only he would confess his wrongdoings and ask Jesus to come into his heart and be his Savior. He kept talking about all of his wrongs. It was just too much for him to believe that God could forgive such an awful past, but that night he gave his heart to Jesus, and Jesus lifted that load. Jesus forgave that man and gave him freedom he’d never known. After that, the man never stopped talking about the mercy of God and how God had rid him of the torment of the past. He would often repeat the words of a hymn that he fell in love with: “My yesterdays so filled with guilt and shame, my yesterdays are gone, oh praise His name!” Is there anything more wonderful than the miracle of forgiveness and the assurance of having our wrongdoing forgiven? This wonderful forgiveness is for all of us. Jesus died for all of us. All we have to do is accept His forgiveness and receive Him as our Savior. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). That’s His unqualified, unbreakable promise to you. If you haven’t met the One who can lift the burdens of your past and give you a bright future now and eternal life in the world to come, you can today. He stands meekly at your heart’s door, waiting for you to invite Him in. Simply pray, “Jesus, please come into my life, forgive my sins, fill me with Your love, and give me Your gift of eternal life.” Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was the mother of Family International founder David Brandt Berg (1919–1994). 5
HOW TO HAVE A HAPPIER HOME
Adapted from Virginia Brandt Berg
hat is the greatest weakness in most families? According to Dr. James H. Bossard, a former professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who spent 40 years probing what he called “neglected areas of family life,” it is the way parents talk in front of their children.
After studying extensive recordings of table talk, he wrote, “I had no idea I would discover a real pattern in the [mealtime] conversation of families. I just wanted to learn what families talked about, but to my amazement I have found that family after family had definite, consistent conversational habits, and that the critical pattern was the most prevalent. 4
“These families rarely had a good word to say about anyone. They carped continuously about friends, relatives, neighbors—almost every aspect of their lives, from the lines of people in the supermarket to the stupidity of their bosses. “This constant negative family atmosphere had a disastrous effect on the children, because a high percentage of [these
families’] children were antisocial and unpopular. And this pattern of the family’s hostility many times turned to quarreling amongst themselves. Without fail, their meals were a round of insults and bickering. The children absorbed that pattern, and it caused the children trouble. “Long ago,” Dr. Bossard continued, “a great Teacher pointed out that what comes out of the mouth is a great deal more important than that which goes in to it.” That Teacher was Jesus, and that wisdom is found in Matthew 15:11. Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If your soul is superficial, egotistical, and mean, all those qualities are going to permeate your words as they flow from your lips. But if the Holy Spirit has control, the words you speak will be filled with divine light, just as Christ is light (John 1:4; 8:12). Words flowing from a soul filled with God’s Spirit of love will have a magnetic quality that will draw others. When the heart is burning with divine love, you don’t need to try to put pathos or tenderness into
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your conversation. All your innermost being shall words will have a savor and flow continuously springs a power that comes from and rivers of living water” an inner depth. (John 7:38 Amplified Bible). Do you want to always So the root of the speak just the right words problem isn’t actually the at just the right moment in tongue, but the heart. just the right way so that Words only convey what’s they will have a lasting in the heart. Jesus taught good effect? That probably that our words reveal our seems almost impossible— heart’s character. “A good and it is humanly impossiman out of the good treable. But it’s not impossible sure of his heart brings when you let the Spirit of forth good things, and an the living Christ speak evil man out of the evil through you. treasure brings forth evil How can this be? How things” (Matthew 12:35). can you be so filled with There is no way under the Spirit of Christ that He the sun to change the can guide you in all that quality of our words except you say? It can only happen to change the spirit from through you taking time which those words flow. with Him, getting filled There has to be a change with His Spirit and His of heart. love. You must take time If you need such a to read His recorded Word, change of heart, begin by the Bible, and partake of praying, “Create in me a His Spirit by letting Him clean heart, O God, and speak to you personally in renew a right spirit within prayer and reflection. me” (Psalm 51:10). Then But if you don’t do as you spend time with those things, then just Jesus, the fountain of all when you want and need goodness and kindness them most, the right and gentleness, your words will not come forth. relationship with Him will What will come forth will deepen and you’ll soon more likely be shallow, find your words to be lukewarm, or negative. conductors of His Spirit, But if you let Jesus live in making you a greater you and take time in His influence for good in the presence, soaking up His lives of those nearest and love and Spirit, “from your dearest to you. ◄ ACTIVATED VOL 8, ISSUE 5 | www.activated.org
JUMP- START A Me s s a g e f ro m Je s u s The surest way to help your loved ones get off to a great start each day is by starting the day with love. Easier said than done, you might say, when you’re just waking up yourself! But if you pray for that extra oomph you need and give it a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Don’t just eat breakfast together in silence, staring at your plate, the newspaper, or the back of the cereal box. Count your blessings together. Thank Me for the wonderful things you’re sure I’m going to do for you that day in answer to prayer and because I love you. Read a short passage from the Bible. Pray for each other and the different things you expect to face that day, and claim a promise from My Word for each victory you need. Tank up on Me! I am love and light, My strength is unfailing, and all things are possible for Me. Fill up on Me first thing, and you and your loved ones will be ready for any challenge the day may bring your way. Those few minutes you have together in the morning are also a great time to give encouragement. Tell her how nice she looks. Tell him you’re sure he’s going to do great in school. Give a parting hug or kiss that conveys “I can’t wait to be with you again!” Start the day with love, and love will carry you through the day. ◄ 5
“Be still” by virginia brandt berg
“be Still and Know tHat i am God” (Psalm 46:10). The Lord once used that Bible verse to drive home a vital lesson, as well as to demonstrate His ability to give specific, immediate guidance as we listen to Him in prayer. I needed to get in touch with a woman whose address I did not have, and it was an emergency. Every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety. I felt as though I would fly to pieces if I didn’t get some word to her. As I prayed about what to do next, suddenly a paraphrase of Scripture came to me. Just be still. Get quiet and know that I am God. When I sat down, quieted my spirit, and
asked the Lord to do something to avert disaster, He spoke to my heart. Just write a note and take it to the apartment where she lived before. Maybe she will have some reason to go back there or someone who knows where she moved will find your note and tell her to contact you. So I wrote the note and went over to the apartment to deliver it. Just as I arrived, note in hand, up drove the very person I had wanted to reach but couldn’t! Isn’t it wonderful how God is able to work things out? I learned then that, as God’s Word says, my “strength is to sit still” (Isaiah 30:7 K JV). In this mad rush that modern living has become, we
have an even greater need for this divine stillness to bathe our souls in quietness. It is only when our minds and spirits are quiet and serene that we can come to know God. “Be still and know that I am God.” How did my getting still make me “know that He is God”? His answering prayer in such a miraculous way demonstrated once again the wonderful truth that He is God. Many people have the mistaken idea that the stillness this verse speaks of is a sort of controlled tension, a practiced poise, and that they can compress anxiety in some way. They may be able to do that sometimes, but if they do, it’s only a surface calm; inwardly they are a boiling cauldron. That isn’t the kind of stillness we are
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What shall the believer do in times of darkness? Sit still and listen. Let him talking about! The stillness trust in the name of the of God isn’t mere passivity. Lord and rely upon his It’s a genuine stillness of God. Let him just sit still, spirit that brings about the as the Scripture says—be greatest clarity of thought, still and listen. The first and it is in that stillness thing to do is to do nothing, that we come to know to stand still. That goes God’s will and plan. against human nature, but I know from experience that’s the wise thing to do. that divine stillness often There’s a saying, “When comes through trials and you’re rattled, don’t rush.” testings. How can that be? In other words, when Trials and tests subdue the you aren’t sure you know soul, and suffering humbles what to do next, don’t the spirit. Are you going rush blindly into anything, through a difficult time hoping for the best. right now? Then get quiet There have been times and be still before the Lord, when I have run into a and He will show you how spiritual fog and I have to get sweetness out of that wanted to do something so difficulty. He will teach you badly in my own strength. wonderful lessons from it, I’ve felt that I had to but you’ve got to get quiet. unsnarl the tangled wires It is in that sweet, still or find the solution to a devotion that He is able to problem; that I had to do speak to your heart. something. My human energy felt like it had to Not in the earthquake or rush out and take care devouring flame, of the problem. But I But in the hush that could have learned that while all fear transform, sometimes human energy The still, small whisper to may help a little, it is far the prophet came. better to anchor my boat Oh soul, keep silence on and let it swing upon its the mount of God! Though cares and needs throb around like a sea From supplication and desires unshod, Be still and hear what God shall say to thee.
moorings for a while and simply trust God! Be still and see what God will do. It is when we are quiet and trusting in God that He can work. Worry often prevents Him from doing all that He can. If our minds are distracted and our hearts are stressed, we’re not in a position where He can do much for us. The peace of God must quiet our minds and bring rest to our hearts. Put your hand into the hand of God, and let Him lead you out into the bright sunshine of His love. Be still. Let Him do the work for you. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving”—by getting still before God—“let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
—mary rowles Jarvis aCtivated vol 8, iSSue 7 | www.activated.org
By Virginia Brandt Berg
IT’S SO BECAUSE GOD SAID SO T
HE WORD OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD CANNOT FAIL; you can depend upon it. When I first learned that, I realized that through the years the Bible had never been a living, vital thing to me, but rather a sort of combination of creeds, doctrines, wise sayings, and printer’s ink. I hadn’t known the power in the Word of God, that it could bring miracles to pass. I don’t know 4
why someone hadn’t told me the truth of these things before, but suddenly a deep conviction dawned on my soul that God could not fail to keep His promises! I had considered myself a Christian all my life, but I had never really believed God’s Word, nor had I met Christ personally. It was through a little gospel tract that I had that glorious experience. Christ came into my life to fully satisfy. Gone was my unbelief and the accompanying sense of futility and disappointment in life, and there arose in my heart an unfamiliar hunger. I was an invalid at the time, and had been for the past five years—utterly helpless and a hopeless case, according to a number of physicians. But after I received Christ and my faith came to life, I began to look to Him to restore my health. I prayed to be healed and waited for God to let me see some evidence that He had heard my prayer and was going to answer. Like many other people, my faith was the “seeing is believing” kind. But the Bible teaches just the opposite: Believe and you will see. God brought certain verses from the Bible to my mind to show me that I must believe a certain thing simply because He said it was www.activated.org
so, not because of anything I saw or felt. I suddenly believed that God had heard my prayers and had already answered, that He had reached down and had healed me, even though my physical condition appeared to be unchanged. It was so simply because God said so. That was enough! My heart leaped for joy at that realization, and in that moment there was born in my soul something that has never changed from that day to this: an abiding, unshakable faith in God’s Word. Again and again, lying there helpless in bed, I whispered over and over, “It is the Word of God—it cannot fail! It’s God’s Word, and He cannot lie!” It was as though I could see the marvelous Word of God marching down the centuries, invincible, infallible, inexhaustible, and |
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THERE IS LIFE-GIVING POWER IN WHAT GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD
DRAWING POWER unchangeable. What joy came into my heart as I realized I had such a strong anchor to hold on to. I believed the work was done, for I had met His conditions. There was His promise, very plain and sure, that He could not and would not fail to keep His Word, and I was not going to doubt that promise. Then it happened, exactly as He had promised it would. I was completely healed! How wonderful it was when I found out that Jesus Christ was “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). That was many years ago, and I’m still going strong. [Editor’s note: Virginia Brandt Berg was 29 years old at the time of her healing and lived another 54 years, to the age of 83.] Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit,
and they are life” (John 6:63). When we come into the realization that there is life-giving power in what God says in His Word, then we have hold of the truth that makes all things possible. “God is not a man, that He should lie. ... Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). And 1 Kings 8:56 says, “Not one word has failed of all [God’s] good promises.” Take that to heart! Put your finger on a verse, some promise, and say, “It’s so because God says so!” Whatever the need is in your life right now, He will meet it! He will guide your life daily, faith will spring invincible, and you too will shout triumphantly, “It’s so because God said so! What He has promised He is able also to perform!”
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God’s Word is as full of promises as the heavens are full of stars, and all of them are payable according to the conditions named. They are made freely and they are paid fully. [Nineteenthcentury British preacher Charles] Spurgeon called the book of God’s promises “the checkbook of the Bank of Faith.” We do not have checkbooks for an ornament or for meditation, but for use! A promise of God is given to be presented and paid in full. The believer’s capital for the King’s business is all lodged in the Lord’s treasury, and the only way to secure it for use is to make daily drafts upon the unfailing supply. God writes no names upon these promises, only conditions upon which they will be honored. Put your name in, fulfill the conditions, and draw upon God for all He promises. Some promises are payable upon demand, while others are dated further on. But a long-term promise of God is as sure of payment as one payable on demand! —MRS. CHARLES E. COWMAN (1870–1960), MOUNTAIN TRAILWAYS 5
H T H GT T H OU GH T S by Virginia brandT berg
Jimmy said, “Well, I’m sitting down, but I’m still standing up on the inside!” Often it’s that inward struggle of the mind that’s the hardest to win. That’s why God’s Word makes it so plain that we’re supposed to take control of our thoughts: “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” (Philippians 4:8 KJV). I once heard someone say that he believed the greatest power God has
JuST CannoT oVerCoMe My bad ThoughTS,” a woman wrote me, asking for advice. “As you may remember, I wrote you before about someone near to me who is very spiteful and says such unkind things, and I told you that I had overcome my urge to say anything back. I have been able to control my tongue, but I haven’t changed my thinking any. I may have self-control outwardly, but I’m seething on the inside.” That letter reminded me of a story about a little boy named Jimmy who was punished for doing something that his mother had told him again and again not to do. At last she said, “You sit in the corner until I tell you that you may get up.” Jimmy sat there, but he was very angry and willful about the whole thing. After a while his mother asked, “Jimmy, are you ready now to obey?” And
given us is the power to think. Our thoughts are a vital part of us, and they accompany us wherever we go. We can no more get away from our thoughts than we can get away from our shadow. When our thoughts are positive and principled, they become the best of traveling companions, but when they aren’t, they dog our steps and rob us of happiness and peace of mind. It’s the old foundation principle that our desires, which are what motivate us, are the direct result of our thinking. We exhaust our energies dealing with those results, while failing to deal with the source, which is the mind; we fail to “think on these things.” All high and holy aspirations come from high and holy thinking. When we stop to consider the miracle of life, the world God created for us, and the marvel of His love, we realize that we’re surrounded with so much that’s beautiful and wonderful. It’s an awful shame when our thoughts go wandering among weeds and brambles, when they turn to ungodly and ugly things. We get so busy that we don’t take time to think properly, to meditate. It reminds me of another story about a mother who went to visit her son in the big city. He was so busy rushing here and there that all he had time for was, “Hello, Mother!” and “Goodbye, Mother!” One day she said to him, “Son, when do you do your thinking? ” Many of us are like that. We get too busy to stop and think, to turn our thoughts toward God and the life-giving truth of His Word, to “set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). The battles of life are first fought on the battleground of the mind, and the issues of life are determined there. Murder is first committed within the precincts of the mind, before the shot is
fired. The thief puts out his me when I was a little hand and steals the watch, girl, “Sow a thought and but first he has stolen it you reap an action. Sow an within the precincts of his action and you reap a habit. mind. We teach our chilSow a habit and you reap dren that they shouldn’t do character. Sow character this and they shouldn’t do and you reap a destiny.” that because it’s wrong, but God’s Word says that as we do we teach them to think? think in our heart, so are Do we teach them to center we (Proverbs 23:7). their thoughts on things Thoughts may seem to that are “true, honest, just, be the most insignificant of pure, lovely, virtuous, and things, known only by ourpraiseworthy”? selves, but psychologists Thinking seems to be a tell us that each thought lost art these days. People influences the total of our don’t take the time to think consciousness. If a thought things through. If they did, is repeated enough times, God would show them a it becomes a thought plan; He would show them pattern. Those who train how to get the thing done or their minds to think kind, how to unravel the problem gentle, loving thoughts will situation if they would just grow to be kind, gentle, stop, look to Him, and give and loving. But those who Him a chance. habitually think negative Getting back to that thoughts will develop ugly woman’s letter, it seems temperaments and be ruled almost unpardonable to by feelings of resentfulness, allow our minds to linger bitterness, and anger. Their on thoughts of hate and life will shape itself, not criticism and resentment. in a way that is beautiful, But how do we overcome but in one that is debasing. such thoughts? They will find their soul The only way to get bending downward in a rid of impure thoughts is sort of a permanent moral to overthrow them with curvature, while those who thoughts that are “pure “set their minds on things and lovely.” The way to get above” grow straight and rid of malicious thoughts tall and true. is to overthrow them with Ask God to help you “set loving, positive thoughts. your mind on things above,” The only way to reap a and as you continue to look to proper harvest from the Him, He will transform you fertile garden of the mind through the renewing of your is to carefully sow good mind (Romans 12:2). That’s seed and carefully tend the the secret to overcoming crop. As my father taught bad thoughts!
BLACKOUT BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
In the Northeast Blackout of 1965—the largest blackout in U.S. history—at least 25 million people in Ontario, Canada, and the U.S. Northeast, including New York City, lost electricity for up to 12 hours. Such outages were commonplace in other parts of the world and still are, but this one was totally unexpected and caught everyone unprepared. This article is taken from a talk given shortly after the incident.
WAS LISTENING TO A NEWS REPORT ABOUT THE BLACKOUT IN THE NEW YORK AREA, when one man who had been there said he could never express the feelings he had when the power, which he had always taken for granted, suddenly came back on. It made
me think of the personal blackouts I’ve been through, such as a severe accident from which it seemed I would never recover. When I did, how glorious it was to be out of that darkness and into the light once more, free from the pain and ill health! Only those who have been through such blackouts know how wonderful it is when the lights come on again. When you’re in the midst of darkness, the thing that makes it blacker still is the thought that you may never come out of it. I want to assure you, though, that the lights will come on again if you will put your trust in God and not waver. This is where those with faith in God are at a great advantage, for they know the day will come when God will send deliverance. Faith is the victory.
It was pretty dark for the apostle Paul when he was in prison, but he had such faith that he was able to live above his circumstances and conditions, so much so that he wrote in Philippians 4:11–13: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The joy of the Lord was his strength (Nehemiah 8:10). No wonder Paul could say, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24). I’m sure there were those in that blackout who felt just that way. The blackness didn’t strike terror into
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their hearts or take from them their feeling of security. They had an inner source of strength, a supply that was above all circumstances. Paul did too, and that is why he could write, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). There is an old saying, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!” When Paul came to the end of his rope, he took a promise from God’s Word—“God will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5)—and held on. God has given so many wonderful promises to hang on to, and they can shine like stars in your blackout. And by the way, that’s another thing that someone said who went through the blackout. The thing that impressed them
most was that they could fallen and sprained her see the stars. It had been ankle. She was weeping a long time since anybody with pain, so I hurried to in New York had seen the her home and took her to stars. Let me give you a few the hospital. I prayed for “stars” to help you through her complete and speedy the next dark place you recovery and for the pain pass through: to subside, but the whole “The angel of the Lord time she didn’t stop talking encamps all around those about how bad things kept who fear Him, and delivers happening to her, and about them” (Psalm 34:7). how God must not love her “Many are the afflictions because He didn’t treat of the righteous, but the her right. I don’t think she Lord delivers him out of heard a word of my prayer. them all” (Psalm 34:19). She didn’t have any stars “Oh, fear the Lord, you in her night at all. The His saints! There is no lights didn’t come on for want to those who fear Him. her, no matter what I said. Those who seek the Lord She never let God have a shall not lack any good chance. How sad! thing” (Psalm 34:9–10). How we handle everyday “The name of the Lord difficulties prepares us for is a strong tower: the bigger or more important righteous run to it, and are future events. If we can safe” (Proverbs 18:10). learn to live above the cir“The Lord also will be a cumstances and conditions refuge for the oppressed, a that cast dark shadows refuge in times of trouble” over our days, we will be (Psalm 9:9). ready for any big blackout What a wonderful feeling that may come. He says, when in the dark to know “My grace is sufficient for that God is there! you, for My strength is I received a phone call made perfect in weakness” from a woman who had (2 Corinthians 12:9). •
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the measure of
BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
In the spiritual life, faith conveys to us evidence
To know God is to be sure that He keeps every promise He has made. of spiritual truths, just as our five senses convey Abraham knew God and “did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but evidence of physical things. was strengthened in faith … being fully convinced that what He had promised friEnd of minE aSkEd tHE man- He was also able to perform” (Romans agEr of a SupErmarkEt if he had 4:20–21). ever cashed a bad check for a stranger. Some people think of faith as something “No, I never did,” he said, “because I never very mysterious and far beyond their look at the check—I look at the man. If I reach. Others think of faith as a gift that can trust the man, I take his check.” What some people are born with; some have it a lesson in faith! to a great degree, but others don’t. Both of In Hebrews 10:23 we find these words: those are misconceptions. “He who promised is faithful.” Who makes God has dealt to each one a measure the promises in God’s Word?—God does. of faith (Romans 12:3). Everyone who has Look at the Maker of the promises, and received Jesus has been given a meathen there can be no question as to their sure of faith, but many people don’t use absolute validity. God’s Word says, “Now their faith. If you don’t use your faith, it acquaint yourself with Him, and be at becomes flabby, just like muscles when peace; thereby good will come to you” you don’t use them. For faith to grow, (Job 22:21). you’ve got to keep exercising it.
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Faith is not gained through scholarly analysis; it’s not to the wise and prudent that the deepest secrets of God are revealed (Matthew 11:25). It’s to those who dare to take God at His word. Those of childlike faith push right through all the arguing and doubting. They put the intellectuals to shame as they reach out and take from God the fulfillment of some promise that the intellectuals don’t seem to be able to grasp. Faith operates in an entirely different realm from our five senses, but some of the same principles apply. When we taste something sweet, we have evidence that it is sweet because our taste buds tell us so. No matter what anyone else says, we know it’s sweet because we have evidence. In the spiritual life, faith conveys to us evidence of spiritual truths, just as our five senses convey evidence of physical things. Just as we accept what our five senses tell us, we must accept as evidence what our faith tells us. When we do, our faith brings that thing to pass and makes it real to us. As you have believed, so let it be done for you (Matthew 8:13). Take God at His word. When the troubles and trials come, instead of letting
Just as an unseen force of attraction holds the material world together and the unseen principle of confidence holds the financial world together, so the unseen law of faith is the underlying force that holds the spiritual world together.—V.B.B. them grow and grow, get your Bible, find a promise, and claim it in Jesus’ name. Here is one that is surely too big for me to comprehend, but I often claim it: “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). And here’s another one: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). No wonder the Word calls these promises exceedingly great and precious and tells us that through them we can become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). All you need is simple faith! t
MEET THE AUTHOR Adapted from David Brandt Berg A college student was assigned to read a certain book, which she quickly concluded was boring and academic. She would read it some other time, she told herself as she tossed it into her closet. Some weeks later, a guest lecturer visited the college, and the girl went to hear him. Immediately she was captivated by his good looks, personality, knowledge, and enthusiasm for his subject matter. Halfway through the lecture, she realized that he was the author of the book that she had so quickly dismissed. As soon as she got home, she dug the book out of her closet and read it cover to cover. Why had the book suddenly become so interesting?—Because she had met and been love-struck by its author. If you think the Bible is dry and uninteresting, maybe you just need to meet its Author. You can right now by praying this simple prayer: Jesus, I want to meet and get to know You. If You really are who people say You are—the Son of God who died in my place so I could be forgiven my wrongs and have eternal life—please show me. I open my heart to You now and invite You in. Amen.
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boomerang BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
HEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL, I went to my first circus. There, before my awestruck eyes, were three rings in full action—performing animals in one, and acrobats leaping and flying through the air in another. What interested me most, though, was taking place in the third ring. A girl and a boy were flinging brightly colored missiles, which, after they had crossed the ring, turned and returned to the very hands that had flung them. No matter which direction they were thrown, the things curved and came back swiftly to the young performers, who would catch and fling them again. I watched in amazement. What made those things change their course and circle right back to where they began? “They are boomerangs,” someone beside me said. It was the first time I had ever heard the word, and I tucked it away in my young mind. I’ve heard the word many times since, of course, and I’ve also seen the principle 1
behind it play out in life. In fact, life itself is a boomerang. Everything we do comes back to us, sometime, somewhere. God’s Word says, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”1 Every word or action we fling out comes back some day. It is uncanny how a boomerang circles and returns to the one who threw it out, and that is the way it is with the spiritual law of retribution. Whatever a man throws out into the world, the same shall return to him. If he throws out the bread of kindness, kindness will come to him; if he throws out a curse, a curse will come upon him. Whether good or bad, it
will return to us, and it often gains momentum as it does. Sometimes it happens immediately, like the case of a mother who I overheard in a supermarket, speaking to her child in irritable, impatient tones. When the child railed back in the same tone of voice, I thought, That mother’s boomerang is coming back to her. Other times it may take years. I once met another mother who asked me to pray with her for her grown son, whose life had gone all wrong. “At the time, it was so different,” she told me. “When he was small, I gave no thought to how
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my actions were affecting his values. I thought I was just having fun. But when I heard prison doors close behind my boy, I couldn’t help but think that what I was really hearing was the distant echo of my own life.” Her child’s life, like metal when it’s molten, had flowed into the mold and hardened there. The boomerang had come back. One morning I visited two women in the same hospital. One room was filled with flowers and cards and all sorts of beautiful little gifts from friends and acquaintances. The sufferer was surrounded by those thoughtful gestures of love and concern, kindness, and sympathy. That was a reflection of her life, for she had sown love and thoughtfulness into others’ lives throughout the years, and now it was all coming back to her in her hour of need as she lay sick in that hospital room. In a room down the hall, another woman lay alone. Bitterness, resentment, and suspicion were etched on every feature of her face. Selfishness had ruined her life. Still as self-absorbed, suspicious, and critical as she had always been, there she lay with her face turned to the wall—a wall as hard and cold and bare as the ones she had built around herself all her life. Now she was alone as she faced death. Oh, what a difference there was in those two rooms! The boomerang had come back to both women, but in very different ways. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom, for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” 2 Anyone who lives unselfishly, caring for and lifting the burdens of others, easing their pain, and helping to supply their needs, surely will see that boomerang come back in the form of blessings some day!• 1
how to find love BY DAVID BRANDT BERG
If you show people real love, you won’t have a hard time winning friends. If you’re sincerely concerned about others and you show them love, they’ll be concerned about you and show you love. Love begets love. If you sow love, you’re going to reap love. If you sow friendship, you’re going to reap friendship. 1 Love cannot fail. It makes no difference where it is bestowed, it always brings in big returns. You can’t give without getting, you can’t show true love and concern without receiving love in return—and the more you give, the more you get. Many others around you are just as lonely, and they’re longing for love as much as you are. They’re probably just waiting for you to make the first move. Step out and try to make someone else happy, and you’ll find a whole new world of love you’ve only dreamed of. If you give love, you’ll get love! That’s God’s system; that’s God’s rule. God will make you happy if you make others happy. It’s that simple! 1
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BY VIRGINIA BRANDT BERG
forg iveness “LORD, MAKE ALL THE BAD PEOPLE GOOD,” a young boy prayed, “and then make all the good people nice.” Unfortunately, in this imperfect world, sometimes we have to live around people who aren’t always good, and other times we have to live around generally good people who aren’t always nice. We’ve all been in situations where we feel we’ve been unjustly treated or misjudged, and we almost certainly will be again. At times like that, it’s good to remember that we, too, haven’t always been good or nice. “Judge not, that you be not judged,” the Bible says, “for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”1 That should make us a little more thoughtful about our attitudes toward others, especially those who have wronged us, for exactly what we give will be exactly what we receive. “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” 2 Perhaps you feel that you have to do something about the wrong that’s been done to you, to hurt others as they’ve hurt you, but don’t do it; don’t bear a grudge. Nothing will sour your disposition and ruin your happiness like letting bitterness creep into your heart. Beware “lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become ACTIVATED VOL 9, ISSUE 10 | www.activated.org
defiled.” 3 It is far better to forgive and forget that injustice you’ve suffered. Pity and love and pray for those who hurt you, and then leave matters in God’s hands.4 God knows all about it, and His Word speaks with finality regarding our forgiving those who wrong us, no matter how unfair it all seems. Jesus said, “If you do not forgive men their [wrongs], neither will your Father forgive your [wrongs],” 5 and “My heavenly Father also will [punish] you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his [wrongs].”6 You can’t do that yourself; it’s not in your human nature to forgive. It has to be Jesus working in and through you. Tell Him about it, ask Him to cleanse your heart of any animosity or bitterness that may be festering, and turn the situation over to Him completely—and don’t take it back the next time you think about that person or situation. Only then is He able to go to work on your behalf, to heal your spirit and help you move on. This usually isn’t what we feel like doing, but it’s God’s solution. If you’ve been hurt, He waits to help you, He wants to help you, and He will. But you must set things in motion. You must forgive.• 1
Matthew 7:1–2 Romans 2:1 3 Hebrews 12:15
Matthew 5:44–48; 1 Peter 3:9 Matthew 6:15 6 Matthew 18:35 5
Forgetting the pat By Virginia Brandt Berg
s we stand before the portal of the New Year, we don’t know what it’s going to bring, and I’m glad for that. I’m glad we can’t pull aside the curtain of time and see what the future has in store. But there is one thing we do know, and that is we can leave the past behind, with all of its worries and cares, pains and heartaches, mistakes and blunders. Isn’t that wonderful? All of that is forever in the past, beyond our recall. We can’t undo one single act or unsay a single careless word, but we can make a fresh start in the coming year. If you’ve received Jesus as your Savior, you don’t have to bear the burden of guilt or regret; all of the mistakes, regrets, and sorrows of the past year are in God’s almighty hand, covered by His love. God can give you in this next year “a crown of beauty instead of
ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”1 He can bring honey out of the rock and sweet waters out of the bitter desert of the past, no matter what it was.2 All of this is promised you in His Word, if you are His. “All things work together for good to those who love God.”3 He can make it all work out for your good! Many people say they believe in God’s mercy and forgiveness, yet they worry about the stains on the pages of their past. hey never fully rejoice in the fact that God has blotted them out.4 Who wants to live in the past when the future holds such wonderful promises? “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.5 3 Regardless of your past, Jesus can make your future so bright that you’ll want it to never end— and it won’t! Heavenly happiness here and now and for all eternity is just a short prayer away. If you haven’t yet received Jesus as your Savior, you can right now by sincerely praying the following: Dear Jesus, I want to know You. hank You for giving Your life for me. Please forgive me for all the wrongs I have done. I now open the door of my heart and I ask You to come in. Give me Your gift of eternal life and ill me with Your love. Amen. 1 1
Isaiah 61:3 NIV Deuteronomy 32:13; Isaiah 41:18 3 Romans 8:28 4 Isaiah 43:25 5 Philippians 3:13–14, KJV 2
RENEWING YOUR MIND 2
By Virginia Brandt Berg
Hebrews 11:1 Romans 12:2 3 2 Peter 1:4 4 2 Corinthians 10:5 5 Matthew 6:6 2
Ioncetalkedwithawomanwhosaidshetriedvery hardtothinkonlypositivethoughts,butshewasnever abletokeepitupforlong.Evenwhenshemanaged toappearoptimistic,inwardlyshewasofteninturmoil. Herself-helpapproachtopositivethinkingexcluded God,sowhenthingswentwrong,shedidn’thaveanythingsolidtoholdonto. Thatmayseemparadoxical—faithinGodbeing somethingsubstantial—butit’strue.“Faithisthe substanceofthingshopedfor,theevidenceofthings notseen.”1Inthefaceofdificultyanddisappointment, faithisfarmoreeffectivethanmerementalexercise becauseitisbackedbypromisesthatGodhasmade inHisWord—promisesthatbringabouttangibleresults whenbelievedandappliedtoreal-lifesituations. Thesepromisesnotonlyhavethepowertochange problemsituations;theyalsohavethepowertochange us.TheBibletellsusto“betransformedbytherenewingofthemind.”2Itisthroughthose“exceedinglygreat andpreciouspromises”thatwe“maybepartakersof thedivinenature.”3 Wecan,byanactofourwill,takeourmindoffof negativethoughts.Unlessweillthatvoid,however,the negativethoughtswillrushbackin.Whatshouldwe replacethosenegativethoughtswith?Whatismore positive or more powerful than the living Word of the livingGod?Whencoupledwithprayer,theuplifting, transformingWordofGodcangiveyouvictoryover everyugly,negativethoughtanditsconsequences. Asyoumakeaconsistentefforttoreplacenegative thoughtswithpositivethoughtsfromGod’sWord,it willbecomeahabit;youwilllearnto—astheBibleputs it—“bringyourthoughtsintocaptivity.”4 Thisisverydificulttoaccomplishinthetumultofthe world.Wedon’tindthemindofGodonthestreetsof sociallifeorinthehobbyshop.ToconnectwithHim, indaplacewheretherearenodistractions.“Whenyou pray,gointoyourroom,andwhenyouhaveshutyour door,praytoyourFatherwhoisinthesecretplace;and yourFatherwhoseesinsecretwillrewardyouopenly.”5 Thereisnoplacewherethemindcanbeasfully renewedasinthesecretplaceofprayer,alonewith God.Whenwecomeasidefromthetemporalthingsthat distractandharassus,andthereinthepresenceofGod weputourmindonthethingsofGod,thetransforming powerofGodthenbeginstoworkinus,andweare changed,renewed.1
Year by year,
Day by day
By Virginia Brandt Berg
Someone asked me the other day, “Why do you so often tell
Old age can also be a glorious adventure, especially for those who have a personal relationship with Jesus.
your age?” Well, I think it’s wonderful how God has kept me through so many years. I’ll tell it again.—I’m in my 80th year [in 1966]! I wouldn’t fear old age, if I were you. Some people think that old age brings on all sorts of troubles and inconveniences. here is some of that, of course, but old age can also be a glorious adventure, especially for those who have a personal relationship with Jesus. Without Jesus, I imagine my life would have been humdrum and illed with disappointments and failures, and I’ve talked to many people who are like that—people who are haunted by a sense of emptiness and futility because they don’t have faith or a living relationship with a living Jesus. How many people do you know, especially older people, who have radiant, joyful faces? So many of the faces of old people we pass on the street are unhappy and ridden with fear, and the reason for that is their lack of faith. hey don’t have an anchor in times of storm; they don’t have Jesus to depend on. here is no joy on their faces because there is no joy in their hearts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. One of my friends described the face of one lady he knew as “an old cathedral lit up for evening worship.” I’ve met other older people who talk about what a wonderful life they are experiencing in their old age, and inevitably that positive
Age is opportunity no less Than youth itself, though in another dress; And as the evening twilight fades away, The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
outlook and those positive outcomes are because they have strong faith. hey say, “he Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? he Lord is the strength of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”1 or, “I don’t fear the years! Come what may, I’m in God’s hands,” or, “God is a loving Father, and I know that all things will work together for my good because I love Him.”2 What a glorious standard to live by! A lot of people get bogged down with the cares of this life; they worry about whether or not their physical and material needs will be met in the future. “O you of little faith,” Jesus chided some of those people in His day. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”3 We have this assurance: “God shall supply all [our] need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”4 When the years come upon us, God understands our needs just as well as He does when we are young, and He is just as capable of meeting them. he Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”5 He and His promises don’t change with the years. hey are just as true and just as much for us when we are old as when we were young. “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”6 will work just as well when we are 80 as it did when we were 18. “So we may boldly say: ‘he Lord is my helper; I will not fear.’”7 “[God] Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”8—He will not fail us in our old age, in other words. hat’s the God I know. hat’s the God who has proven Himself to me year after year under all conditions, and He’s standing ready at this moment to meet your needs also, whatever they may be. No matter what your age and no matter what your need, you are a unique concern of His at this very moment and always. Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968), was a foremost evangelist of her time and mother of David Brandt Berg (1919–1994), founder of the Family International. 1 6
Revelation 22:12 Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6
THE BEST TIME OF LIFE By David Brandt Berg Old age should be the greatest time of life. If you’ve filled your days with love, lived a good life, and done your best to please God, it’s a time when you can see the good fruit of your labors. That should give you a feeling of genuine permanent accomplishment, and you can look forward to eternal rewards.9 It’s really sad that so many people view old age as a terrible time of life, when really things should be getting better and better. Old age only becomes a disappointment if we find ourselves growing older in years without growing closer to God. That’s like walking in a circle; it’s motion without progress. But God didn’t give us the gift of life intending the first half to be the best. What God begins, He completes and brings to perfection.10 So neither fear old age nor fight it, but take hold of this stage of life and make something beautiful out of it. 5
COMFORT IN LIFE’S DARK HOUR By Virginia Brandt Berg
Never have I been so glad that I had faith as when my husband died. Oh, the comfort, the blessing, the peace in the hour of trial that those of us who believe can draw on. Many of the condolence cards that I received had messages based on this Bible verse: “We sorrow not as those that have no hope”1—and that is so true! When I was visiting my husband in the hospital, I talked with people who had no faith, who were standing by the bedsides of dying loved ones without any consolation or hope. I thank God for His wonderful plan of redemption that makes me know that I’m going to meet my husband again in a better place—a plan that was worked out in God’s mind from the foundation of the world, that though we die, we shall live again.2 I thank God, too, for the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and the third day arose so that we could do likewise.3 God gives a special dispensation of grace when we need it. We don’t have it beforehand, but when we come right up against what would otherwise be a time of severe heartbreak, there He is. When my husband was sick, I would often sing to him, standing by his bed. I don’t have a beautiful voice, but the hymns were beautiful, and his favorite was a verse of “How Firm a Foundation.”4 Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand. And when through deep waters I call thee to go, he rivers of sorrow shall not overlow. How God upheld me! I’ve seen that promise from His Word proven true once again. I came to deep water, but it did not overlow me.5 You know, life isn’t complete without faith in God. He says that He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly.6 How true that is! It’s such an abundant life when we have faith. When going through my husband’s things, I found this poem that he kept in his Bible.
A FRAID ? By E.H. Hamilton Afraid? Of what? To feel the spirit’s glad release? To pass from pain to perfect peace, he strife and strain of life to cease? Afraid? Of that? Afraid? Of what? Afraid to see the Savior’s face, To hear His welcome, and to trace he glory gleam from wounds of grace? Afraid? Of that? Afraid? Of what? A lash—a crash—a pierced heart; Brief darkness—Light— O heaven’s art! A wound of His a counterpart! Afraid? Of that? Afraid? Of what? To enter into heaven’s rest, And yet to serve the Master blessed? From service good to service best? Afraid? Of that?
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.”—homas Moore (1779–1852)
My dear husband wasn’t afraid to move on, and if you have received Jesus as your Savior you won’t be afraid either, because you’ll know that He will be with you. hough you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He says, “I will be with you.”7 He will be there to comfort you. Never has God’s love proved so great, never His mercy so sure and His grace so abundant as during the week after my loss. I praise Him with all my heart for fulilling His Word and for His faithfulness. Virginia Brandt Berg (1886– 1968) was an evangelist, radio ministry pioneer, and the mother of Family International founder David Brandt Berg.1 1. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 2. John 11:25–26 3. 1 Corinthians 15:4 4. John Rippon, 1787 5. Isaiah 43:2 6. John 10:10 7. Psalm 23:4 8. Revelation 21:4
T E A R S I N H E AV E N BY DAVID BR ANDT BERG The Bible doesn’t say there aren’t going to be any tears in heaven. When we get to heaven and face God, we will no doubt all have a few tears to shed for mistakes we made and opportunities we missed and loved ones that we’ll wish we’d loved more and been kinder to. We will all have something to be sorry about and ashamed of then. But isn’t God wonderfully loving and merciful? He says He’s going to wipe away all those tears. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”8 The Bible says, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”9 When we think about that, it helps us bear some of the things we have to go through now. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”10 We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and the end of life’s road. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”11
9. Romans 8:18 10. Psalm 30:5 11. 2 Corinthians 4:17 5
the extra allowance By Virginia Brandt Berg
Our heavenly Father is always there, only a prayer away, waiting to forgive and give us that extra allowance.
Have you ever been away from home and found yourself without cash? I had that experience when I left home to attend university, and I got so distressed that I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly it occurred to me to write my father. I should have budgeted more carefully, of course, but I knew he would understand. What a relief it was when I made that decision! My father had helped me many times before, and I knew he would help me again. I had perfect assurance during the days it took that letter to reach home and the answer to come back. [Editor’s note: his took place over 100 years ago, before email and even widespread use of the telephone.] I had needed to ask for an extra allowance, but I knew it would come. And it did. We’ve all experienced days when sudden trouble swept down on us and our strength gave way. We looked around, but there was no way out. hen we turned to God and asked Him for an extra allowance. Perhaps you know what it is like to have His help from day to day, and you depend upon that help and are grateful. But when God tells us, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you,”1 He is speaking of something beyond that. his is extra help in extraordinary circumstances—extra
strength when we are especially weak, extra material supply when we have extra needs, extra grace when we’re under extra strain, extra wisdom when we need it, and extra love when others need to feel God’s love through us. We turn to our heavenly Father, and He gives the extra allowance we need at the time to overcome that particular trouble. I’ve heard people say, “God has promised to be with us in trouble, but He never promised to free us from trouble.” hose people need to read that verse more carefully. He may not free them as quickly as they would like or in the way they expect, but He does promise deliverance: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” He promises both. Surely God was with Daniel in the lion’s den, but He also delivered him out of the den.2 We know He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the iery furnace because King Nebuchadnezzar said he saw four igures in the lames—“and the form of the fourth [was] like the Son of God”3—but God also delivered them out of it. When we have troubles that God doesn’t deliver us from immediately, it’s usually because we aren’t ready to be delivered; there is something we need to do irst, or some lesson we need to learn. Once we have found and
done or learned that, He does deliver us. I’ve gone through times when I was so discouraged about my failures that I couldn’t call on God at that moment. But when I got my eyes of of my faults and weaknesses and onto God’s promises, He delivered me; the extra allowance was mine as soon as I asked for it. here is lots of advice loating around about how to overcome diiculties. “Dance your troubles away.” “Just keep smiling.” “Look for something pretty every day.” “Do something nice for someone else.” Well, I certainly believe in being positive and doing nice things for others, and those will get your mind of your troubles, but they won’t necessarily get you out of deep trouble. here was a time, before I had a personal relationship with Jesus, when I was a helpless invalid. Someone who had even less faith than I did kept telling me, “Hold on. Just hold on.” But that was the trouble—I didn’t have anything to hold onto! But thank God, as believers we don’t just have something to hold onto; we have someone to hold onto! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”4 One day my car stalled on a lonely road. I was alone and quite desperate, when suddenly I remembered that not far away lived a former friend. I say
“former” because although I often thought about this woman, it had been quite awhile since I’d made time to visit or phone her. I knew she would be happy to help, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk up to her house and ask because I had neglected her for so long. I sat in the car and tried to get up the courage, but I never did. It can be like that when we fail to include God in our thoughts and activities day after day, when we fail to ask His advice and help in the little things, or thank Him for His goodness, or make time to draw inspiration and learn from His Word. If we’ve been neglecting Him, it’s pretty hard to call on Him in the day of trouble. It’s hard and it’s humbling, but it’s a whole lot better than continuing to struggle. Our heavenly Father is always there, only a prayer away, waiting to forgive and give us that extra allowance. Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was the mother of Family International founder David Brandt Berg and a renowned evangelist and pastor. For 15 years she hosted the gospel radio show M EDITATION M OMENTS . This article is an edited transcript of one of her broadcasts.1
1. Psalm 50:15
3. Daniel 3:24–25
2. Daniel 6:16–23
4. Psalm 46:1 5
loneliness —and the cure God put a little sign on the table of your heart that reads, “Reserved for Me.”
There is a mystery in human hearts: to every one of us, from time to time, there comes a sense of utter loneliness. Some of the loneliest people in the world are those who are constantly surrounded by others, yet they feel that no one truly knows or understands them. hey may even have an abundance of material things—everything to satisfy every physical need—yet they complain of loneliness. hey long to share their interests with someone, to ind someone who will listen to their problems and sympathize with them. We may have a lifelong companion or dear friends who love us, but even they will never know or understand us completely. We may climb the heights of success or accomplishment, yet there is no one who can fully share the emotion of that moment when we inally reach our goal. Our dearest friend is a stranger to our supreme joy and cannot realize our most bitter pain. Some tears are always shed alone. No other human being can ever enter the deepest recesses of our mind or soul.
“here is no one who really understands, no one to share all I feel!” Such is the cry of each of us, in turn. We wander in a solitary way, no matter what or where our lot may be. Each heart, mysterious even to itself, must live its inner life in solitude. But why? Why do we all have this deep craving to be understood by someone? Why this intense longing to have another share our joys and triumphs, sorrows, and defeats? Did God, who made us a living soul, make some mistake in this, His masterpiece, humankind? Has He left some void in our makeup? He made provision for every other hunger of life: bread for the hunger of the body, knowledge for the hunger of the mind, love for the hunger of the heart. Has He then left the soul unsatisied, with this longing for deepest understanding and truest companionship unfulilled? Has He left this loneliness of ours unanswered? here is an answer to these questions. his incompleteness that we feel is a need of our soul for God. He knew that when we found human sympathy lacking, we would seek the divine. He knew that this
By Virginia Brandt Berg
very sense of isolation, of not being understood, would drive us to Him. God made us for Himself. He desires our love. He put a little sign on the table of your heart that reads, “Reserved for Me.” In every heart, He wishes to be irst. He therefore keeps the secret key Himself, the key to open all our hearts’ chambers and to bless with perfect sympathy and peace each solitary soul that comes to Him. God Himself is the answer, the fulillment. He who made us is the only One who can ill every part of our life. God’s Word says He is our “satisfying portion.”1 Not until He ills that inner longing will we ever be truly satisied or completely free from loneliness. God wants to satisfy that need, but He and His love are so big, so great, that they are beyond our comprehension. hat is why He needed to make someone who could show us His love in terms we could understand, someone who was within our realm, someone we could experience, one Man who was like Himself, His Son. Jesus is touched with our every longing, and He will satisfy every longing of our heart. As He enters
our life, He becomes our satisfaction. He is complete companionship, ideal and perfect friendship. here’s no need to ever be lonely. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and “I am with you always.”2 So when you feel this loneliness, it is the voice of Jesus saying, “Come to Me.” And every time you feel that no one understands, it is a call for you to come to Him again. And when beneath some heavy load you faint and say, “I cannot bear this alone,” you say the truth. he grief that no one understands conveys a secret message from the King, entreating you to come to Him again. You cannot come too often. His presence satisies the lonely soul, and those who walk with Him from day to day can never know a solitary way. Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was an evangelist and pastor, and the mother of Family International founder David Brandt Berg (1919–1994).1 1. Psalm 107:9; Psalm 73:26 2. Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20
Can you spare some love? By Evelyn Sichrovsky
Last Christmas a doctor invited my family to perform a show for about a dozen of his elderly patients. As it turned out, only ive were well enough to attend. It was the smallest audience we had ever performed for, but the beautiful smiles on those wrinkled faces made it worth the time and efort. Afterwards, we visited a few more frail seniors in their homes. One woman with a walker greeted us outside and led us into her dark little house, where I sat with her on her bed and we sang Christmas carols together in the local dialect. When we left, she waved through her one small window and gave us a smile that brought tears to my eyes. As we drove home, I thought about her and the others— alone, poor, ill, yearning for love—and my own problems seemed petty. It’s Christmastime again, and I’m reminded that there are millions like that woman. Can you spare a little love for one near you? Evelyn Sichrovsky is a member of the Family International in Taiwan. ■
Portrait of Love Adapted from Virginia Brandt Berg
The Christmas season is here again. Christmas decorations are up in the streets and shopping areas, Christmas music ills the air, and store windows are illed with Christmas displays and gift ideas. As I stood in front of one store window and watched a band of animated elves dance and play on little tin horns, I wondered what such a scene had to do with Christmas, the birthday of Jesus, God’s Son. Why had the store chosen elves over a nativity scene? hen it struck me: many people fantasize about Santa Claus and elves because they ind it hard to believe the Christmas story. Why would God choose to reveal Himself to us in human form? hat seems irrational, illogical, but that’s exactly what God did. When God wanted to manifest His ininite love for us, He sent it in a tiny baby, who in manhood would teach us God’s ways and lead us back to Him. hat is a deep and wonderful truth—and something we can really celebrate. Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968), was the mother of Family International founder David Brandt Berg.
There is a beautiful stained glass window in the historic Wesley’s Chapel in London, inscribed with these words: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”1 People have always wanted wings—a way to be lifted above their earthbound lives and troubles. It seems to be human nature to feel conined and discontented with “here.” hings surely must be easier, brighter, better, freer “there,” just over the next hill. here’s another verse where the Psalmist echoes the get-meaway-from-it-all sentiment. He says, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would ly away and be at rest.”2 But he also knew the secret to inding that wonderful place away from it all, and he shared that secret with us: “he Lord sustained me.”3 God sustained David through all his diiculties and tests, and He transformed his weights into wings. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”4 When we turn to God’s Word and wait in
WINGS rom WEIGHTS
prayer until God touches our soul, we mount up to realms of peace and rest and are truly “sustained by the Lord.” his old world daily strives to pull us down, but there is an upward pull that will lift us to the very heart of God. If you read God’s Word, share your heart with Him, and wait for Him to speak to you, you will ind all the strength you need. But many people try to run on their own strength, hoping that they will somehow surmount their diiculties that way. hey put the feet before the wings. But read that verse again. he running and walking come after the renewing. What chance does your soul have if you never take those moments to connect with God and draw strength from Him? “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.”5 Evangelist and pastor Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was the mother of David Brandt Berg, founder of the Family International.
By Virginia Brandt Berg
1. Psalm 139:9–10 KJV
4. Isaiah 40:31
2. Psalm 55:6
5. Psalm 27:14
3. Psalm 3:5
6. See Isaiah 26:3.
God can solve your problems in one little glimpse. He can refresh your spirit with one deep breath. He can clarify your thoughts with just one sweet strain of heavenly music. He can wipe away your fears and tears with just one little restful moment in that perfect peace He gives when your mind is ixed on Him and Him alone.6 —David Brandt Berg
By Virginia Brandt Berg
In times of supreme test, God has revealed Himself to me and I have found Him so real that I could shout with absolute conidence, “I know whom I have believed!”1 God has promised, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overlow you. When you walk through the ire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the lame scorch you.”2 “So we may boldly say: ‘he Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”3 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”4 In sudden emergencies and prolonged trials, God fulills His promises today just as surely as He did in the past. He is saying, “I will
not fail you. When you are in the midst of trouble or under great stress, just keep courage. I will not under any circumstances forsake you.” And He means that for you. hat’s the God I know, the God whom I have proven year after year under all conditions, and He’s standing ready at this moment to meet you in any trial that you may be passing through. He’s speaking to you now. If you feel that you can go no further unless your load is lightened, this message is for you. God is faithful. No matter what your age, no matter what your trouble, you are a particular concern of God’s at this very moment. You are the one that He longs to help. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”5
ALWAYS , IN AL L WAYS A Prayer of Thanksgiving O Lord, you made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!6 ■
1. 2 Timothy 1:12, emphasis added 2. Isaiah 43:2 3. Hebrews 13:6 4. Romans 8:31 5. Matthew 11:28 6. Psalm 139:13–17 NLT
Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was the mother of David Brandt Berg (1919– 1994), founder of the Family International. ■ 7
FIXED DETERMINATION By Virginia Brandt Berg
For years I nearly always closed my Meditation Moments radio show with the words “God is still on the throne, and prayer changes things!” Someone once wrote in and said, “I don’t ind those words in the Bible.” No, they’re not in the Bible, but they’re certainly scriptural and express an important truth. If prayer doesn’t change things, then let’s quit praying. But if prayer does change things, then we ought to devote more time to prayer, for all around us there are many things that need changing. If prayer does change things, then let’s get busy praying and changing the things that need changing. Just think what could happen if you really believed that! Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.”1 If you’ve prayed and things haven’t changed, then this little talk is for you. 1. Mark 9:23 2. Psalm 28:6–7 3. Psalm 6:8–9 4. Psalm 66:19 5. Psalm 116:1–2 6. John 14:14 7. John 16:23 8. Galatians 6:9 9. See Hebrews chapter 11.
A common expression among some Christians is “praying through.” hat means you keep praying until you receive a deinite assurance that God has heard the prayer and will take action. Perhaps you’ve felt that assurance at times—that you didn’t need to continue praying for a certain situation because you were sure that God had heard your prayer, the matter was in His hands now, and He would work it out as He knew best. he Bible is full of accounts of those who prayed through, particularly King David in the book of Psalms. I get a thrill in my soul whenever David emerges from prayer and comes out with a bold expression of assurance: “he Lord has heard my prayer!” At the beginning of one psalm, when David began to pray, he was almost in despair over some great trouble, but it wasn’t long before he came away declaring, “Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices.”2 Another time David was overwhelmed with discouragement, but he poured out his heart to the Lord and came away with the sweet assurance: “he Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. he Lord will receive my prayer.”3 And another time David comes away from prayer with the words, “Certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”4
hat assurance became so ixed in David’s heart and mind that he began one psalm with the words, “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”5 He knew God was going to hear and answer. Years ago I was injured in a terrible accident that left me a total invalid, paralyzed from the waist down, and I was mostly conined to bed for the next ive years. I also had life-threatening heart and lung problems, and sufered various other side efects from numerous unsuccessful operations to try to restore the use of my legs. It was this ixed determination—this praying through—that brought the fullness of faith that I needed, and the result was that I was miraculously and completely healed. hrough Jesus Christ you too can have your prayers answered just as wonderfully. Hold on to His promises. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”6 “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.”7 Have this ixed determination. “I’m going to hold on until the answer comes.” Don’t give up! How badly do you want your prayer answered? Are you willing to meet this condition, this ixed determination, or will you let delays discourage you and cause you to give up? Will you allow obstacles to block your way to
victory? Will you let others’ doubts frustrate and foil your faith? here are many ways of meeting a crisis, but only one way guarantees victory, and that is to pray straight through it. he Bible says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good”—in this case, praying—“for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”8 May your faith be strengthened as you think of King David and others in the Bible who through this ixed determination brought down the walls of Jericho, marched through the Red Sea on dry ground, and wrought many other miracles.9 Take God’s promises and march straight through any diiculty, saying like the saints of old, “I’m determined that nothing shall cheat me out of what God has promised me in His Word!” here are many reasons why God does not always answer immediately or in the way we expect, but He does eventually answer every prayer. Do you want your prayers answered badly enough to keep praying until God assures you He’s going to answer? hen you won’t be disappointed, because God is still on the throne, and prayer does change things! Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was an evangelist and pastor. ■ 5
The Road to Happiness Adapted from the writings of Virginia Brandt Berg
Regardless of whatever else we may be looking for in life, we all have one aspiration in common: we all want to be happy. Happiness is diferent things to diferent people, of course, but some seem to think that it is as simple as having a good time. As children, we all do that. We think that happiness means doing as we please, having lots of fun and not much work. Eventually, after getting into plenty of mischief and sufering many stomachaches, most of us learn that happiness does not come from grabbing everything we want—that happiness is not the product of idleness and chocolate creams. Unfortunately, some people never do seem to learn that. hey spend their lives looking for happiness in all the wrong places, only to realize too 1. John 13:17 2. See Matthew 11:28–30; Isaiah 26:3; John 15:11.
late that they have been chasing shadows. Meanwhile there are others who do not make the quest for personal happiness their top priority, their holy grail, but they ind it just the same. Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote a poem about this search: I’ve lost the road to happiness, Does anyone know it, pray? I was dwelling there When the morn was fair, But somehow I wandered away. I saw rare treasure And scenes of pleasure And ran to pursue them when, lo, I had lost the road to happiness And knew not whither to go. Where can true happiness be found? It is found in living in harmony with God. Many people think they are unhappy because of their circumstances, but that is not it—something is wrong in the heart. When the heart is right, all is right, but when the heart is wrong,
all is wrong. hey are at war with themselves because they are out of harmony with God. Jesus told His disciples, “If you know these things”—the keys to right living that He had taught them—“blessed are you if you do them.”1 he King James Version translates the Greek word makarios “happy,” rather than “blessed.” hat makes the point even more clearly, and there is a world of truth in it! Joy is a result of right living. When we try our best to do things God’s way, we can stop struggling to ind happiness, because happiness comes to us. If our hearts are right with God and our will is in line with His, we ind rest of spirit, peace, and joy—chief building blocks of happiness.2 Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was an American pastor and pioneer radio evangelist through her radio program Meditation Moments, which aired for 15 years. ■
Transformed By Virginia Brandt Berg
I once attended a meeting where a 16-year-old boy sang several gospel songs, and as he sang, his face shone with joy. I learned later that he had grown up in a horrible home environment. From the age of 12, he had been forced to steal to support his family, and within a year, he was also stealing to support his own drug habit, which his life of crime had led to. He had been arrested and spent years in and out of juvenile correctional centers. But one day, some young people met him on the street and led him to receive Jesus, and his life was completely transformed. How had that transformation taken place? he Bible says, “All of us who have had that veil removed 1. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT 2. John 15:4
3. See Romans 12:2.
can see and relect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”1 he transformation takes place by beholding Jesus. Many people try to transform their lives with human striving and carnal willpower, but through self-efort they can never experience the kind of transformation that boy did— never! It can only happen as we behold Jesus. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and let Me abide in you.”2 his is the secret of the transformed life: Jesus abiding in you and living out His life through you. He’ll do the transforming and change your life for the better if you give Him the chance! Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was an American evangelist and pastor. ■
If you haven’t yet asked Jesus to help change your life for the better, you can do so right now. Simply pray a prayer like the following: Jesus, I want to share my life with You. Please come in and transform me into a new person.3
All I know is this works. It’s not only worked for me, but I’ve seen it work for literally thousands and thousands of people. I have seen the transformation on people’s faces when they receive Christ. I’ve seen the glory come on them, the light.—Joyce Meyer (b. 1943) The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.—Adrian Rogers (1931–2005) 13