Forgive Yourself To Grow

If you are on a path of purposeful personal growth, you will have to learn how to forgive yourself to see progress.

Now, before you start balking at the idea, let me give you an example.

Remember when you learned to ride a bicycle? I’m pretty sure you didn’t just hop on and ride away into the sunset. Instead, you fell off, probably several times until you learned how to balance and push the pedals at the same time. Once you mastered balance, you may have had to perfect your steering so you could turn corners or turn around without crashing.

Granted, most people would not consider forgiveness a requirement for learning how to ride a bicycle, but it is there, nonetheless. What would have happened if the first time you fell of the bicycle, you labeled yourself “an uncoordinated loser” and never tried again? Ridiculous, I know. But, you didn’t do that, and the reason is you forgave yourself the mistake and got back up and tried again.

It seems to be more of a given when learning a new skill that we’re not going to get it right the first time. We know we will make mistakes. So, why are we so much more willing to forgive our mistakes in learning new skills like bike riding, than in learning a new skill in creating and living a happy life?

Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we are on others, and we tend to hold grudges with ourselves for much longer, as well. But how are you supposed to learn if you don’t allow yourself the room to make mistakes along the way? If you forgive yourself for not being perfect from the start, for not getting it right the first time, you allow yourself to try again and make progress. If you don’t forgive yourself the mistakes you make along the way, you stunt your growth and remain stuck where you are.

Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human. It happens. Holding yourself and your growth hostage by not forgiving yourself your mistakes serves no useful purpose. You certainly don’t benefit, and neither does anyone else. So if you want growth, learn to forgive yourself.

Psalm 103:10-11 ESV
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.

Forgive To Live: Free Yourself Of Emotional Baggage

Forgiveness is difficult for many people because, too often, we think to forgive is also to condone, to say, “Oh, that’s OK.” We put up barriers to forgiving others because of this notion. Many times, in fact, most times what needs to be forgiven is NOT OK. It was not OK to have happened, it is not OK to do again — it’s just simply NOT OK. So, unless the offender asks for forgiveness with sincerity and remorse (and sometimes even when they do,) we often find it difficult to forgive.

If you look up the word ‘forgive’ in the dictionary, one of the definitions you’ll find is: to cease to feel resentment against. Forgiving, ceasing to feel resentment against, someone or something benefits who? You. Forgiving benefits YOU.
Forgiving, ceasing to feel resentment against, that’s all about you, not them. Granted, they might also benefit if you no longer feel resentment toward them, but the change occurs within YOU when you forgive another, not the reverse. The decision to forgive is yours. The act of forgiving is an act YOU undertake, and the feelings changing as a result are yours, as well.

For a very long time, I was unwilling to forgive certain people in my life. I held close the feelings of anger and resentment over how they had betrayed me and wore them like a protective shield. I vowed no one would EVER hurt me like that again. Over time, my protective shield began to prevent me from connecting with new people, new friendships and extending my friendship to others. Ultimately, who did this hurt? Me. I had unknowingly allowed my unwillingness to forgive to control and shape my life – and not in a positive way, I might add.

Today I look at forgiveness as a way to set down the emotional baggage of past hurts and walk away stronger than before. If you think about it – how can you receive the blessings of today if your hands are holding tightly to resentments of yesterday? You can’t go back and change what happened or force the offender to make amends, but you CAN decide to live a happy life.

The person I’m forgiving may or may not even know of my forgiveness – that is not the point. I am the one miserable with my negative feelings and emotions – not them. They may or may not even know I’m harboring resentments. Meanwhile, I’m seething and miserable. By forgiving, I set myself free.
If the whole idea of forgiving feels beyond you at the moment, either because you are still too angry and upset (and likely wanting your pound of flesh) or because forgiving still feels to you like you’re saying, “Oh, it’s ok…” then try replacing the word ‘forgive’ with the words ‘cease to feel resentment against’ and see if that makes a difference for you.” I cease to feel resentment against you for what you did,” might be a more empowering way for you to say, “I forgive you for what you did.

Mark 11:25
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Cleaning Out Your Attic: The Fundamental Advantage of Forgiveness

“Forgiveness means that you do not hold others responsible for your experiences.” ~Gary Zukav

If you’re like me, you have a garage or attic or basement full of junk–old clothes that don’t fit or that are outdated, boxes of children’s toys, paperwork you’ll never need or even look at again. We have sentimental attachments to things that are just taking up space.

These items, while maybe not physically holding you back, may be psychologically holding you back. They are definitely weighing you down. And yet, unless you have a real problem with an overabundance of ‘stuff’, it’s probably not that much of an issue.

What about the things you store in your mind? You’ll find some memories there of the pleasures of living–weddings, anniversaries, births–maybe some sadnesses–deaths and loss. These are what make up a complete life, the highs and lows, ebb and flow. You’ve also got knowledge and appreciation up there, as well as all of your abilities–how to bake a cake, change your oil, ride a bicycle.

We’ve also got some junk up there. One of the fastest ways to get rid of this junk is the act of forgiveness. In an upcoming article I’ll give you some specifics on how to use forgiveness to dispose of some of this useless garbage.

The ultimate purpose of forgiveness is not to make you a better person, it’s not to benefit the person you’re forgiving, and it’s not even to make you right with God or work out your karma (though these are all side benefits of forgiving).

The real purpose is to clear out your other than conscious mind, to free it up from any negativity that is holding you back and preventing you from achieving everything you ever wanted.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV) 18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”‘ That’s one of my favorite Bible quotes.

This means, that the more you focus on, the more you are going to become what that focus is. Are you focusing on creating money or on debt? Are you focusing on health or on sickness?

If we focus on bitter feelings and hard knocks and tough life lessons, then that becomes a piece of us. One of the reasons we’re here on planet earth, the school called earth, is to learn to understand we are in dominion, not domination, and we are able to have everything we ever wanted.

Try this: imagine you’re dividing your unconscious into sections and lump all of the ‘bad’ parts–the troubles, difficulties, problems, resentments–into one section.

What percentage of your unconscious is being consumed by that mental garbage?

If you took it all and assigned it a value. . .a percentage, as in, well, 5% of my unconscious, or other than conscious, is taken up by this junk. How does that affect you to think of that large a chunk of your mind is engaged in negativity? What if you had to give 5% of your income to a really negative cause? I’m assuming that would not please you.

When we employ the process of forgiveness, we clear out that 1 or 5 or 15% and make space for more of what we want.

Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”


Key Verse:  “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   (Isaiah 40: 31)

The object of this series of studies has been to share some of the biblical secrets of radiant Christian living, and the verse before us tells us what might well be called the over-all secret.  If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that there is very much failure in our Christian living and service:  (1) The Word of God convinces us of our failure.  Do we not oftentimes “faint” and have “no power” (verse 29)?  Do we not often “grow tired” and do we not frequently “fall” (verse 30)?  This is God’s description of the failure which so often characterises the lives of His children. But: (2) Observation also convinces us of our failure.  We know it is true that we fail because our eyes tell us so as we look at ourselves.  Our own heart tells us that it is true.  How faint and weary we become, and how slow we are to learn the way of victory and power! – look up Proverbs 14:10.

  2. The primary cause is Ignorance of the Resources which are at our Disposal.  Yes, ignorance! – look up Hosea 4:6, and compare Matthew 22:29, and then see what Isaiah 40:28 says: “Do you not know…?”  What are the resources at our disposal?  In verses 28 and 29 we read that “The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator…” is offering to give us power and strength.  So, against the sad background of our failure is the promise of God to turn our failure into glorious triumph.  This God, this mighty Lord, is placing all His unlimited resources of strength and power at our disposal;  but we must tap these resources, and this indicates the second cause of failure.
  3. The secondary cause is Failure to Tap those Resources.  That is, failure to appropriate them.   Verse 29 says, “He gives…”, and in response to His giving we must receive.  How does this giving and receiving take place?  How can this mighty enabling become mine?  What is God’s method of transferring His power to me?  In the Authorised Version verse 31 gives the answer – “They that wait upon the Lord…”  But what does it mean to “wait upon the Lord”?  Does it mean to pray, worship, attend services, read the Bible?  Yes, but not primarily.   From Isaiah 41:1, we learn that it means to “Be silent before me” – compare Psalm 62:1 (AV), where the word “waiteth” means “be silent”.

Waiting upon God means to be cast upon Him in utter dependence, ready to hear His voice and do His bidding, having our whole expectation from Him.  It implies complete confidence in the Lord, and absolutely no confidence in self or in human help.


There is a four-fold result, as indicated in verse 31, and as emphasised by the repetition of the four “wills” in this verse.  This is “life on the highest plane”, the truly successful Christian life.

  • We shall have God’s strength in place of our weakness.  The word “renew” may be translated “change” or “exchange”.  Have you realised that your greatest weakness is your own strength, and that if you will go before the Lord in utter weakness He will exchange your weakness for His strength?  What kind of strength does He give?  (1) Physical strength?  Yes, certainly He can and does renew our physical strength when we wait upon Him – look up Romans 8:11.  (2) Mental strength?  Yes, He is the fountain of all wisdom and He certainly quickens our minds when we wait before Him – look up Romans 12:2;  Ephesians 4:23 and 2 Timothy 1:7.  (3) Moral strength?  Most certainly He gives this, and how we need this, living as we do in a world which is full of tempting voices and sights! – look up Ephesians 6:10 and 2 Timothy 2:1.  (4) Spiritual strength?  Yes – look up Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:25 and Isaiah 30:15.
  • We shall enjoy life above the average.  We shall “soar on wings like eagles”, far above earth’s level, where, “the things of earth…grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”   The eagle is the only bird which flies so high that it is lost to sight, and that is where we belong.  We belong to Heaven now (Philippians 3:20).  Here and now we are “raised up with Christ” (Ephesians 2:6) – look up Colossians 3:1-2.  Yet, how many Christians are earth-bound, hopping on the ground like a bird with a broken wing, instead of flying in the heavenly heights like an eagle!  We have been made to fly, not to hop!
  • We shall do supernatural things.  We shall “run and not grow weary.”  It is not natural to keep running and not feel weary.  God promises supernatural power for the accomplishing of supernatural tasks.  We are a supernatural people because we are linked to a supernatural God! – look up John 7:38;  14:12.   Are the “streams of living water” flowing through us and are the “greater things” being accomplished through us?
  • We shall live victoriously in the hardest place of all – in the daily routine of life.  We shall “walk and not be faint”.  Notice, it does not say that we shall “run and not faint.”   Sometimes it is much easier to run than to walk!  The most testing place for each one of us is that place where we engage in the “trivial round and common task” – look up Genesis 5:24 and Psalm 37:23.

Dr A. B. Simpson used frequently to get alone in the presence of the Lord and say,  “I’m a failure.  I have no strength and no life.  But Thou art my Life, Thou art my Strength, Thou art my Victory!”  Then, by faith, he would take in the life of his risen Lord for body, mind and spirit.  Surely this is what it means to wait upon the Lord!  And the result? – “Life on the highest plane” – true spiritual success.



Key Verse: “…a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume,
made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head.”
(Mark 14: 3)

The incident recorded in Mark 14:3-9 is a very touching one. Simon had provided a feast in his house out of gratitude to the Saviour for the blessings he had received, and Jesus, His disciples, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were all there. Quite suddenly, Mary moved towards the Lord. She was holding in her hands a beautiful alabaster box which contained very precious delicately perfumed ointment, and to the surprise of everyone there, she broke the box and poured its contents over the head (Mark 14:3) and the feet (John 12:3) of our Lord and anointed Him. The alabaster box and the ointment were worth a considerable amount of money. But what did Mary’s act signify? It signified that she was giving her very best to the Lord Jesus – indeed her all, for as she broke the alabaster box and poured out the precious nard she was saying, in effect:-
“Take my love: my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store;
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
In those days, every young woman would prepare a box of precious perfume. This she would keep until the time came when the man she loved would ask her to marry him, and if she were willing and could give him her love and devotion, she would break the precious box of ointment and pour it at his feet. No matter what she paid for the box, it was counted as her best, and this is what she gave to him. That is what Mary did with her Lord, the One who loved her so much that soon He would die for her upon the cross. Mary wanted to be spiritually betrothed to Him (Isaiah 62:5; Hosea 2:19), and therefore she gave her very best, her all, to Him.

    We have no alabaster box of precious ointment, so what can we give? There are at least three gifts which all of us can bring to Him:-
    (1) We can give Him the best of our Love. This, supremely, is what Mary did; though the ointment was costly and the box was of great value, the real gift she brought to Him was that of her love. We can all give Him our love, and it is this above everything else which He most desires. Have you given Him the very best of your love? – compare Matthew 10:37 with John 21:15-17.
    (2) We can give Him the best of our Years. What a privilege it is for anyone to give to the Lord his or her whole life in all its freshness and vigour! Is He not worthy of our best – the best of our strength, our manhood or womanhood? It is possible to know that we belong to the Lord and yet to keep the best of our strength, time and gifts for ourselves instead of giving them to Him.
    (3) We can give Him the best of our Talents. Everyone has some talent. What is yours? Whatever it is, the Lord wants to use it. If you will only place it at His feet and yield it wholly to Him, He will use it in a most wonderful way. Have you ever read through Frances Ridley Havergal’s “Consecration Hymn”, and really given over to the Lord your “moments…days…hands…feet…voice…lips…silver…gold…intellect will”?
    Here again, there are three answers to this question:-
    (1) Because He is worthy of our best. Who is He? He is the eternal Son of God (John 1:1 and 14); the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8); the Saviour of men (1 Timothy 1:15); our Saviour (Galatians 2:20). Is He not worthy of the very best that we can give to Him?
    (2) Because He has given His best for us. He has given His all for us and has shed His precious blood upon the Cross for us in order that we might be redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19). It was when Mary realised all that her Lord had given and would give for her that she was constrained to give her best, her all, to Him. From Mark 14:8, we learn that it was Calvary that constrained her – 2 Corinthians 5:14.
    (3) Because only by giving Him our best shall we enjoy His best. This moment of dedication was for Mary the happiest moment of her life, and from now onwards she would know deep joy (John 15:11), and abiding peace (John 16:33), for she had given her very best, her all, to the Lord. If we give Him little we shall only have the capacity to enjoy a little (of Him); but if we give Him our very best, our all, He will become to us unspeakably precious (1 Peter 2:7).
    (1) Some people will object. Immediately Mary gave her best to the Lord there was indignation, murmuring, criticism and misunderstanding – look up John 12:5. Judas was very quick to speak of Mary’s act of dedication as “waste”, and this is how the world often assesses the dedication of a life wholly given to the Lord – look up Matthew 26:8.
    (2) The Lord Jesus will be pleased. The greatest thing in the world is to have His commendation – look at verse 6. Does it matter what the world thinks, so long as He is pleased with us?
    (3) Others will be helped. What a marvellous result there was from Mary’s simple act of devotion and dedication! – look at verse 9. Who can estimate the far-reaching influence of one life which is utterly given to the Lord? Is your life completely given over to Him?



Key Verses: “And when the men of that place recognised Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed.”
(Matthew 14: 35-36)

No Christian can live successfully who does not constantly and systematically seek to share the love of the Lord Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him, and no Christian will ever begin to do this until he or she feels a real concern, a burden for the salvation of the multitudes of men and women who are lost (Luke 19:10), condemned already (John 3:18), and are under the wrath of God (John 3:36). Do you feel any concern for the lost? Have you any passion for souls? Are you burdened as you think of your loved ones and friends and of the thousands of others who are not saved? How long do folk have to be in our company before, with the help of God, we tell them of our wonderful Saviour? Or are we unconcerned? Could those of our unconverted loved ones and friends say – Psalm 142:4? Notice the following in Matthew 14:35-36.

  1. We have a description of the many people around us for whose salvation we need to be deeply concerned.
    If we ask the question: What is the real need of the lost? – how does this portion of scripture answer it? It tells us three things about the people of that day which are true of people today.
    (1) They were Diseased (verse 35). Many people today may be religious, respectable and living morally decent and upright lives, but every unsaved soul is gripped by the disease of sin (Luke 5:12), and unless they are cured their prospect is indeed solemn (Romans 6:23). Man’s first need is to be made perfectly whole through faith in the Lord Jesus. Multitudes of people live and die in a diseased condition, without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12).
    (2) They were at a Distance (verse 35) – “the men of that place…sent word to all the surrounding country…”, which indicates distance. They were at a distance from the Lord in a geographical sense, and what was true of them in that sense is true of multitudes today in a spiritual sense. The young people of our day and generation are to a very large extent growing up without any knowledge of God and of the gospel of His grace, and there is an appalling ignorance of the Bible and of the gospel. How concerned we need to be for the multitudes! – look up Matthew 9:36.
    (3) They were Disabled (verse 35). They had to be brought into the presence of the Lord. It is true that every sinner is disabled by sin (Romans 5:6), but it is also true that beneath the outward cloak of respectability many are disabled by the sins of falsehood, drink, lust, drugs, immorality, etc. It is for these we need to feel and show a deep concern.
  2. When is it that we really begin to get concerned about the souls of others?
    Verse 35 gives us the answer to this question. It was “when the men of that place recognised Him” that “they sent word to all the surrounding country…” It is easy to see what happened. These men found the Lord for themselves, and they immediately became concerned that others might find Him too. That is what always happens; “knowing” and “going” go together. When we really know Him we shall go for Him, and the measure in which we know Him determines the measure in which we go – look up John 14:9 and Philippians 3:10, and compare Psalm 126:6 and Daniel 11:32. Here, then, is the qualification as well as the incentive to seek the lost; it is knowing the Lord personally and intimately – look up John 1:41 and 49.
  3. When does this concern show itself?
    If we really have a passion for souls and have a concern for their salvation, how shall we act? Verses 35 and 36 tell us that “when the men of that place recognised Him” they did three things:-
    (1) They Sought (verse 35). They went out into all the surrounding country in search of those who needed the healing and saving touch of the Lord Jesus Christ. They scoured the district for needy souls. This is the Lord’s commission to us (Mark 16:15). It was C. T. Studd who gave the following advice to the missionaries in Central Africa: “Get the simple gospel out into the whole of your vast district, and see that every soul knows the way of salvation and has a fair chance of being saved.”
    (2) They Brought (verse 35). The word “brought” is the most important word in this study. It indicates an emphasis which we must regain if we are successful to win others to Christ. It is important to go to them, but rescue work involves more than simply going to those who are lost. Souls must be brought to Christ. A fisherman is not content simply to fish; he is only satisfied when he catches fish – and you and I must not be content just to tell others of the Saviour’s love; we must seek His grace to bring them to Him.
    (3) They Begged (verse 36). They pleaded with Him that those whom they had brought might be healed – in other words, they prayed. A true passion for souls will quickly show itself in persistent prayer for their salvation. In prayer God shows us those whom He would have us seek to win for Him, and in prayer we become channels through whom the Holy Spirit effects His work of winning them.
  4. Where does this concern for others begin to operate?
    Verse 35 again gives the answer; it tells us that “…the men of that place…sent word to all the surrounding country.” They became evangelists to their own people! And when we get a passion for souls, we shall begin to be burdened and concerned for the salvation of those with whom and amongst whom we live. We shall begin “in Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).



Key Verse:  “David was greatly distressed…But David found strength

in the LORD his God”   (1 Samuel 30: 6)

In this study, which is based on 1 Samuel 30:1-6, we are to consider a period in David’s life when he was plunged into great distress and trouble, and we shall see what he did in his time of trouble and how wonderfully the Lord undertook for him.  Trouble is no respecter of persons (Job 5:7; 14:1).  Maybe you are passing through a time of trouble now?  If so, there is help in this study for you;  and if you are not in the midst of trouble today, here is ministry in advance which will prepare you for some future day, for trouble comes to us all, and it is a good thing when we know what to do in a time of trouble.  Notice, from           1 Samuel 30:1-6, that:-

  1. David’s trouble was very real.

There was nothing imaginary about it, as we learn from these verses.  How does your trouble compare with his?  Does yours have to do with some great loss in your life (verse 1); is it connected with your loved ones (verse 3); is it so great that you have wept until you have had no more power to weep (verse 4)?  How real our troubles are!  There is nothing imaginary about them, and it is not wrong to weep and to find relief in this way (John 11:35).

  • David was in trouble although he was a child of God.

It is very important for us to notice this.  The Lord loved David – look up Acts 13:22;  yet David found himself in the midst of these very distressing circumstances.  Because we are Christians we must not expect immunity from trouble.  Think how much the Lord suffered (Hebrews 13:12), and how much the apostle Paul endured (2 Corinthians 11:23-30)!  Indeed, can you think of one true child of God who has not experienced something of the bitterness of trial and testing?  We are not to think that God does not love us when trouble comes across our path – look up 1 Peter 4:12.

  • The Lord permitted David’s trouble.

He allowed it to happen.  He permitted distress to come into the life of His child, just as He did with Joseph (Genesis 39:20);  Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:15);  Peter (Acts 12:5-6);  and John Bunyan – and just as He has with many of His servants today.  When Job was overwhelmed with distress, his faith was so firmly established in the Lord and in the fact that God is sovereign, and that nothing had happened in his life, or would happen, without God’s gracious permission, that he was able to say – Job 13:15.  The Lord could have prevented Job’s trouble, and He could prevent all our troubles;  but He does not do so, and the biggest lesson that He wants us to learn is to trust Him where we cannot understand the “whys” and the “wherefores” of His dealings with us.  Romans 8:28 is true, and it always will be true.

  • David’s trouble was in a very real sense his own fault.

This is very solemn, for David had backslidden, and no child of God can do that and escape God’s chastening.  It seems clear that the Lord allowed trouble to come into David’s life in order that he might be corrected – look up Psalm 55:19, and compare Deuteronomy 8:2-3 and Hebrews 12:6.  Saul, whose story is told in this same First Book of Samuel, threw off the authority of God, as David did, “but in the two cases we see the difference between judgment and chastening.  In the case of Saul, his life and career were terminated as the punishment for his offences;  in the case of David, however, the rod was lifted to correct – not to destroy;  to bring him back, not to drive him away for ever;  to fit him for service, not to cut him asunder.”  It may be that your trouble is your own fault? – look up Genesis 42:21, and notice the words “that’s why this distress has come upon us”.  God only permits the testings and trials of life for His glory and always for our good.

  • David’s trouble was really a blessing in disguise.

You say, “How can this be, with wife, home and friends gone?”  It was a blessing in disguise because in verse 8 we are told that David enquired of the Lord;  and any experience which drives us to the Lord is worth while – look up Psalm 119:67 and Hebrews 12:11.  The one thing that God is seeking in your life and mine is a complete surrender of ourselves to Him.  He wants us to love Him and His will, and to trust Him completely.

What did David do in his time of trouble?  Verse 6 tells us he “found strength in the Lord his God.”  It is good to find strength in the Lord personally, but sometimes we need to help others to find this strength.   How can we do this?

  • Remind yourself that you belong to Him.  “David found strength in the Lord his God.”  Rest upon the assurance of this personal relationship.
  • Recall His past mercies – the wonderful way in which he has undertaken for you, led you, blessed you, provided for you and used you in the past (1 Samuel 7:12)
  • Turn to Him – in confession (1 John 1:9), and in petition (Psalm 34:6); humble yourself before Him and look to Him alone for deliverance (Psalm 69:17).
  • Enquire of Him (verse 8). Ask Him what you should do in your trying situation.
  • Obey Him (verses 9 and 10).  David obeyed, he “continued the pursuit”.
  • Trust Him.  At the end of verse 8 we read that the Lord promised David complete victory, and when he went forth (verse 9), he trusted the Lord to fulfil His word.  All God’s promises are made to us in order that we may take Him at His word and trust Him to fulfil in us and for us that which He has promised – look up Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 3:5-6;  Matthew 11:28;  Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:19.
  • Acknowledge His goodness (verse 23) – look up Psalm 9:9; 27:5; 46:1; 143:11; and Nahum 1:7.



Key Verse: “…that my joy might be in you and that your
joy may be complete” (John 15: 11)

These words were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is most important for us to notice when He uttered them. It was a very strange time to talk of joy and gladness, for in a little while He would be in dark Gethsemane, and shortly after that He would be facing His accusers and hearing the taunts and mockings of those who hated Him. Yes, it was just prior to facing the agonies of Calvary that He spoke of “My joy…”, and it is very significant that, so far as the scripture records are concerned, this is the only time He did speak of His joy. How unique the Lord’s joy must have been if it still remained with Him in the time of such great trial and testing! – and His desire and provision for us (that is, for every believer), is that His joy, which is so different from that of the world, should be our joy – “…that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

    Too often we are sad, gloomy and dejected; but as Christians we ought to be joyful in everything – look up Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16. The A-to-Z of our Christian experience should be marked by joy: joy at conversion (Acts 8:39); joy when reading God’s Holy Word (Jeremiah 15:16); joy in prayer (John 16:24); joy in the midst of trials (James 1:2); joy when suffering (Acts 5:41); joy when serving (2 Corinthians 1:24); and joy at the journey’s end (Hebrews 12:22). If we belong to the Lord we should always be rejoicing.
    (1) It is Christ’s Joy: “…that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11). “My joy…in you…” The Christian life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in a man or a woman – look up Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 3:4. Christian joy is Christ’s joy in a Christian, and this means that this deep-down, abiding joy is not found anywhere else except in Him. There are other kinds of joy found in other places, but His joy is found in Him alone.
    (2) It is Fulness of Joy: “…that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). There is a great difference between joy and fulness of joy. The vessel may be partly filled or completely filled. Our Lord’s desire for us is that we should experience fulness of joy continually – look up Psalm 16:11; John 17:13 and 1 Peter 1:8.
    (3) It is Abiding Joy: “…that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11). Notice the word “remain” in these verses – 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10. By “remaining” in Him and His “remaining” in us means that His joy will always be in us. Our joy is not an intermittent experience, but a permanent one. It is a joy which is unaffected by circumstances – see what the Lord said to His disciples in John 16:22. These first followers of our Lord were to pass through many trials and testings, but He told them that nothing could rob them of their joy – His joy in them. Consider the following three illustrations of the abiding nature of Christian joy, and of the fact that Christ’s joy in us is unaffected by outward circumstances:
    (i) John 15:11 – as we have seen, our Lord experienced this joy in the shadow of the cross – compare John 17:13.
    (ii) Luke 10:20 – surely our Lord meant by this: “Do not let your joy depend upon anything earthly or temporal, but let it depend upon that which abides…in Heaven.”
    (iii) Acts 16:25 – Paul and Silas, though in great trouble, were filled with Christ’s own joy which enabled them to sing praises at midnight – compare Isaiah 61:3; 2 Corinthians 8:2 and Hebrews 10:34.
    It is a remarkable and a wonderful thing that true Christian joy is not only unaffected by adverse circumstances, but it is actually promoted by such trials and testings – look up James 1:2.
    (1) By having Him. If this deep-down, abiding joy is Christ’s joy, we can only have it by having Him. In Acts 8:8, we read that – “There was great joy in that city.” Why was this? Verse 5 tells us! Verse 35 tells us! If we would possess His joy we must possess Him – look up John 17:13.
    (2) By reading His Word. When we read the Bible and receive the truth, we experience great joy – look up 1 John 1:4. This is akin to having a “burning heart” as the result of fellowship with the Lord as He speaks to us – look up Luke 24:32.
    (3) By submission to Him. Notice in Luke 10:21 that we are told two things: first, that “Jesus was full of joy…”; and second, that He was completely submissive to His Father’s will. His joy was the joy of complete and continual submission to the will of His Father in Heaven. It was Madame Guyon who said, “Oh, the blessedness of an accepted sorrow!” When we accept suffering from His hand, sorrows as well as pleasures, then our joy will be full indeed.
    (4) By the Holy Spirit. The literal rendering of Luke 10:21 is: “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit”, and one translation reads: “In that hour Jesus was filled by the Holy Spirit with rapturous joy” – look up and compare Romans 15:13.
    At this very moment the Lord Jesus is exalted, the perfect Man in a perfect human body, in Heaven. His desire is that His joy should be complete in us. How can this be, for He is there and we are here? He is in Heaven and we are on earth! The answer is – by the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is…joy…” – look up Galatians 5:22, and compare Acts 13:52 and Ephesians 5:18!



Key Verse: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26: 3)

This wonderful promise was given in the darkest period of Israel’s history, so it may well prove to be a special help to us today, when we are surrounded by much gloom and depression and when we are constantly threatened with the three great enemies of doubt, fear and worry. When all is going well, and the skies are bright, it is easy to read our key text in a very superficial way; but when clouds of trial, disappointment, fear and alarm drift across our sky and the sun is hidden, then how precious these words become to us!” There is no promise anywhere in the Bible which encourages us to believe that while we are in our earthly bodies we shall experience freedom from trouble; but there is something far better – there is the promise of peace in the midst of trouble. Of what value would freedom from trouble be if we had no inward peace? Yet how wonderful it is that in the midst of the fiercest battle, and while the storm is at its height, the trusting soul may experience inward peace, a deep down calm and a quiet confidence!

    It is described as “perfect peace”. But what is perfect peace? Can we define it? Yes, it is a condition of freedom from disturbance within the soul; it is perfect harmony reigning within. The Hebrew word “shalom” has in it the idea of soundness of health, so that to be filled with perfect peace is to be spiritually healthy and free from all discord within the soul. There can be no room for jealousy, envy, discontent, uncontrolled temper, selfishness, pride or intolerance in the soul which is filled with peace, for all these things are disturbing factors in the heart. They are discordant notes. The peace which God offers, and which we by His grace may experience, is very practical. It is none other than a great calm which He commands – look up Mark 4:39. God calls the peace which He gives, “perfect peace”. In what sense is it perfect?

(1) It is perfect in QUALITY; that is to say, it is perfect in the kind of peace it is. There is an imperfect peace, e.g. the peace of Ignorance, when we imagine that all is going well whereas, in fact, if our eyes were open to see the truth we would know that all is not well (Jeremiah 6:14). There is also the imperfect peace of Stagnation; the pool of water may be calm and peaceful, but underneath it is foul and green with slime. Many men and women know only a peace like that, and one day the shock of God’s judgment will stir up their pool and they will find that they have no real peace at all. There is also the imperfect peace of Dependence, which is a peace which is dependent upon some thing or person. How unsatisfactory this is, for the “thing” may fail and the “person” may die! Then, where is their peace? In contrast with these three kinds of imperfect peace, God’s peace is perfect.
(2) It is perfect in QUANTITY; that is to say, the supply of it is sufficient and it exactly meets our need. The marginal rendering of “perfect peace” is “peace, peace”, i.e. double peace. This is very significant when we turn to Philippians 4:7, for there we are told that this double peace is peace of heart and mind, and that is the kind of peace we need, a peace which garrisons our mind and calms our heart. This double peace is also double in the sense that it is: (i) peace with God (Romans 5:1); and (ii) the peace of God (Philippians 4:7).
(3) It is perfect in CONSTANCY; that is to say, it is permanent and not intermittent. The promise says, “you will keep…” – compare Psalm 121:4.

    (1) By Christ Jesus. Turn to Philippians 4:7 again and notice that the Lord Jesus Christ is the channel through whom the peace of God flows into our souls. This peace within is the possession of the Christian alone. There is no peace for anyone who does not possess Christ and who is not resting on the finished work of Christ for salvation. It is “the blood of Jesus (which) whispers peace within” (Colossians 1:20).
    (2) By the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ procured peace for us upon the cross of Calvary, and that peace is offered to us through Him as the channel; but it is conveyed to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit -–look up Galatians 5:22. As the Holy Spirit fills and floods our lives, so He produces this wonderful fruit within us.
    (3) By His Word. Look up the great promise which is made in Psalm 119:165. Things and people can so often disturb us, or even cause us to stumble, but here is a promise of perfect peace to those people who love and meditate in and obey the Word of God.
    (4) By our obedience. Look up Leviticus 26:3-6, and be sure to notice that most important word “If”. God guarantees to us that if we will walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, He will keep our hearts in perfect peace; if we will do our part, then God will surely do His part.
    (5) By plenty of praise and prayer. The promise of Philippians 4:7 is preceded by the conditions mentioned in verse 6.
    Who is it that God will keep in perfect peace? It is the one: (1) “whose mind is steadfast”; and (2) “who trusts in you.” Both these expressions denote faith, but whereas one is a head word, the other is a heart word. What is the difference? With our head we believe, with our heart we trust; with our head we believe that God is the Author of peace, the Giver of peace; with the heart we trust Him to bestow what He promises.

One concluding word: notice that Isaiah 26:3 begins with God and ends with God; it begins with “You” and it ends with “you” – and the trusting soul goes in between. Perfect peace is, by faith, to get between these two words, and to stay there; perfect peace is the Lord Himself within us, not an experience, a doctrine, an “it”, but the Lord Himself. Then, as the hymnwriter puts it, when we are “stayed upon Jehovah”, our hearts will be fully blessed, and then, and only then, shall we find that He has promised – “Perfect peace and rest.”


Finding God’s Plan for Our Lives

We shall base this study upon the question asked by Saul of Tarsus at the very moment of his new birth: “What shall I do, Lord?” Did Saul’s conversion just “happen”?; was it by “chance” that he was suddenly converted on the Damascus road, or was it according to a divine plan and purpose? Acts 9:15 tells us that it certainly was “according to plan” – God’s plan. But has God a plan for my life? If so, how may I know it and what is involved in finding it? These and many other questions demand an answer.

    There are three strong reasons for believing this:
    (1) It is reasonable to expect it. God is a God of order and method. If we are building a house or designing a dress, we work according to a plan, a pattern. God does the same.
    (2) It is according to experience. Think of Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10); Moses (Hebrews 11:24-27); David (1 Chronicles 17:7); Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5-8); Paul (Acts 9:15).
    (3) God’s Word teaches it. Look up Ephesians 2:10, and compare Psalm 27:11; 37:23; 73:24; 148:8; Proverbs 3:6; 15:19; 16:3; Isaiah 6:8-9; 30:21 and James 1:5.

Notice the following three characteristics of God’s plan for our lives:
(1) It is a personal plan. Notice the personal pronouns – “you” and “me” in Acts 9:4. There is no one else in the world like you, and therefore God’s plan for you is unique and personal – just for you! He has a purpose to fulfil in and with your life which cannot be fulfilled in and with the life of any other person.
(2) It is a perfect plan. In Romans 12:2 (which should only be read in conjunction with Romans 12:1), we are told that the will of God, or God’s plan and purpose in the lives of His children, is “his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
(3) It is a practical plan. It is workable and it is thoroughly related to everyday living and service. It is not a plan which only sounds “good, pleasing and perfect” in a theoretical sense, but it proves to be so in experience!

    This is obvious, but it is sadly true that some Christians fail to discover God’s plan and purpose for their life, and in consequence their whole life is filled with disappointment and defeat, frustration and failure. How wonderful to feel that we are achieving something really worthwhile and to know that we are doing it, not for ourselves, but in accordance with the will of our loving heavenly Father! Every unconverted person is living a self-planned life, as Saul was up until the time of his conversion – see Acts 9:5; but it is also sadly true that many Christians plan their own lives. We make decisions and choices which afterwards prove to be so wrong – compare John 21:3. There is nothing greater or more comforting than to know we are in the centre of God’s will, and every one of us can know just that.
    Saul entered the plan of God when he submitted to what the Lord told him to do – Acts 9:6, and compare with verse 8. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Saul, saying, “I am Jesus…” – that is, “Saviour” – look up Matthew 1:21. This is not to say that God was not interested in Saul and watching over him prior to his conversion, but it is true to say that Saul only really entered into the plan of God when he bowed at the feet of Jesus Christ and accepted Him as his Saviour and Lord.
    He has the whole plan of our life in front of Him, but He only reveals it a bit at a time – look up Psalm 37:23. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10). But the human condition which has to be met, if we are to know and to do God’s will, is complete submission to Him and a strong desire to obey Him – see Acts 22:10. This enquiry as to what God’s will is involves four things:
    (1) Communion with Him in prayer. A suitable prayer is recorded in Psalm 27:11; and it is when we know what it is to go regularly into the secret place that the Lord graciously reveals His plan to us step by step.
    (2) Studying and searching His Word. How wonderfully all the saints of God have been led as they have read and submitted their lives to the commands and guidance of the Word of God! – look up Psalm 119:105.
    (3) Prompt and unquestioning obedience. God reveals His will as we obey Him – look up 1 Samuel 15:22. He only does it a step at a time; Saul had to go into the city before the Lord told him the next step He wanted him to take (Acts 9:6).
    (4) Complete and implicit trust. We can rarely trace God’s working in our lives, for we are living by faith and not by sight. This means that we have to trust Him. The Lord chose Saul to be “a chosen instrument”, and Saul had to trust Him in all that He permitted in his life – sufferings, privations, stonings, imprisonments… (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). We must remember that God’s plan includes His permission of life’s testings – look up 1 Peter 4:12-13 and 19.
    Perhaps, as you have reached this last point in our study, you are saying, “What a thrilling theme for young people who have the whole of life before them!” But it is an equally thrilling theme for the most aged Christian, for all of us who belong to the Lord have a glorious eternity before us, and God’s plan has an earthly and a heavenly part. The earthly part is like the foundation of the building; the heavenly part can be likened to the structure of the building. We are apt to have a very limited conception of God’s plan. When a Christian dies at the age of 30 or 40, we say, “What a tragedy!” – which it is from earth’s limited viewpoint; but God’s loving plan for His children is an eternal plan – look up Ephesians 2:10; 1 John 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:7-8.