Christian Images

Life's Problems and Christian Solutions

The following 'Free Christian Illustrations' are written and illustrated by Ian Coate. They can be used without charge or obligation and can be downloaded, copied or distributed without permission as long as no cost is charged and source is recognized.

Wake-up Checklist

Free Christian Illustrations God is in ControlStep 1. Check you are still alive?  If Yes – continue to step 2.
Step 2. Is God still supplying your oxygen?  Take a deep breath.  If Yes – go on to step 3.            If No –you have only minutes to set your affairs in order – so get to it.
Step 3. Look out the window.  Is God still in control of gravity and governing all the laws of science and nature?  If Yes – continue to step 4.  If No – pinch yourself as you may still be dreaming.  Wake up and start again from Step 1.
Step 4. No matter what has gone wrong or how you have failed in the past, if you have completed Step 1, God can make all things right.  Proceed to Step 5.
Step 5. God still has a plan and purpose for your life. Advance to Step 6.
Step 6. Choose whose plan and purpose you wish to follow.  If you choose to follow your own plans, go to Step 7.  If you choose God’s plan, go straight to Step 8. 
Step 7. Stay in bed.  What’s the point of getting up - you’ll only be a test for yourself and everyone around you.  Anything you gain today will eventually be lost.  If you ever wake up again, start from Step 1. 
Step 8. Get out of bed.  If God is for you (and He is) who or what can stand against you.  Everything that happens in your day, good or bad, will be for your advancement and eternal profit.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:2

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Seeking Shortcuts

Christian Problems IllustrationsA shortcut is a deviation from an established route that enables one to arrive more quickly at a desired destination.  The problem with shortcuts is they often end in disaster.

Many seek a shortcut to JOY & INNER-PEACE by using alcohol and drugs. Many seek a shortcut to LOVE & SELF-ESTEEM through unrestrained sexual activity.  Many seek a shortcut to PROSPERITY & SUCCESS by lying, cheating and through criminal behaviour.   We may think these shortcuts will get us to our destination quicker, but such deviations always end in disaster.
God wants us to be fulfilled and happy, but to reach this destination we need to follow the established path He has ordained.  God’s way is long for a reason – capacity must come before blessing.  We often think God is trying to stop us from having fun.  This is not true – He is actually trying to lead us to the place where we can experience real JOY, LOVE and PROSPERITY. 
God knows that our shortcuts in life inevitably end in disaster (He’s been watching the human race for a long time).  When we seek shortcuts, we only hurt ourselves in the long run.  If we trust in God and follow His established paths (Biblical doctrines) and do our best not to deviate (sin), we will ultimately arrive at a place of true inner-happiness, integrity and self-esteem.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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Entertaining Visitors

Snow White Christian IllustrationsWhen good friends visit, we should welcome and entertain them and hope they’ll call again.  The same cannot be said about undesirable visitors.  If we warmly welcome them into our lives it can often be very difficult to get them to leave. 

Entertaining visitors is similar to entertaining thoughts.  We have to be very discerning about what thoughts we choose to let in.  If we welcome undesirable thoughts into our mind they’ll soon become unwelcome guests.  Entertaining thoughts like: worry, judging, jealousy, bitterness, lust, pride and so on, only encourages them to make themselves at home.  Once entrenched, it is immensely difficult to get them to leave.
God has given us a golden rule: Entertain noble, graceful and charitable thoughts, but should undesirable thoughts come knocking - best not to answer the door.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.Philippians 4:8

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Focusing on the Problem

Christian Problems Free Christian IllustrationsOne day a storm raged through a small community, flooding the river and destroying their only bridge to the outside world.  Next morning the people gathered at the wrecked bridge and began to worry about their plight.  ‘The river is impassable; how will we get to the markets now?’ cried one.  ‘Without the bridge we’re completely cut off,’ said another.  ‘It’s impossible to fix this bridge!’ a third added bluntly.  ‘If we can’t get across the river, we will all perish,’ prophesized the fourth.
Then as the people started panicking they became aware of their children playing on the other side of the river.  The parents shouted to their children, asking how they had crossed when the only bridge had been destroyed.  The children pointed down river.  Because the parents had so focused on the problem of the broken bridge they failed to notice a great tree had fallen across the river during the storm, making a better overpass than they’d had before. 

A problem in our life only becomes ‘a problem’ when that’s all we see.  Consequently, by focusing solely on the problem, we often don’t see the solution.  When this happens, our crisis usually overwhelms us. 
As problems arise, we must focus on the solution – God.  He is not caught by surprise.  He knows our situation and in fact may have allowed it so we will change directions.  God does not close a door without opening a window. 
When adversity strikes, we should endeavor to be more childlike – exploring all possibilities and regard our circumstances as new opportunities just waiting to be discovered.  
But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13b.

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The Desperate Plant

The waters of GraceIf a plant is under stress, it doesn’t take long for the signs to show.  First the leaves wither, followed by the branches and then finally, the roots themselves.  Even so, when death seems so near, there is still hope while there is life.  If the plant is given the right amount of water, fertilizer, light and time, small sprouts of life will appear and soon it will prosper again.

Plants are insightful illustrations of people.  When they are under stress, it doesn’t take long for them to show the signs.  Their interest in life withers.  Caring for themselves and for those around them dries up.  Eventually, their very roots (soul) become weak with depression.  Death may be just around the corner.  However, while there is life there is still hope.  If someone under such stress is given the right amount of light (intercessory prayer), fertilizer (a loving environment), water (encouragement) and time (grace without judgement), small sprouts of hope will appear. As God never gives up on us, we should never give up on them. But we must resist the temptation of smothering (over-watering is the quickest way to drown a plant). 
The Bible tells us of God’s concern for those who are overburdened; He wants to take our load from us and be a refuge in times of trouble. Interesting, most of our Biblical heroes suffered depression from time to time.  Many times God propped up those Biblical heroes when they were withered plants so they had a chance to become future great trees and bear fruit for many hungry souls to feed upon.
If we are personally dealing with depression, we must do what our Biblical heroes did by looking to the Lord and giving our worries to God to deal with.  Only when we are no longer weighed down by our dark thoughts and burdens can we rise up and start to grow again.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29.

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Lost in Life

Christian Problems  lost in lifeFor a cross-country backpacker not to become lost in the wild, they need to regularly orientate themselves.  Before satellite positioning, the backpacker would use a compass and a map. They would then find three fixed positions (such as a hill, a lake and a road).  If they took a bearing from their compass, adjust their map to the direction of the landscape and identify the three fixed positions on the map, the backpacker would soon find out exactly where they are.

We live in a time of information-overload, where hundreds of opinions and adverts are bombarding us with worldly advice from our many media devices.  It’s so easy to lose our way. Life has so many distractions and paths leading to nowhere – no wonder few people know where they are heading or have any true purpose. 
God doesn’t want us to walk aimlessly about in life; He has a great plan ready for each of us if only we’d stop wandering in circles seeking superficial things that we think will make us feel good about ourselves.
If we have lost our way, we need to pull out our compass (a positive desire to know and seek the truth). Then, we must identify three fixed positions (the immutable God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  Lastly, we need to relate it all to a reliable map (the Bible).   
If we travel through life, always keeping God in our sight and taking directions from our reliable Bible, we will never again become lost.  We will successfully navigate life’s swamps (adversities) and not fall from the mountaintops (prosperity).  Eventually, we will reach that place of quiet happiness and inner peace where we know our life is on the right path.  We will see God in every event and have confidence we are exactly where we should be.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalms 119: 105.

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Cleaning Dog Poos

Christian Problems dealing with sinsDog owners know the unpleasant reality of picking up after their dog.  It’s a continuous job.  If the poos are not picked up daily they soon mount up and mess the yard.  In our busy lives, we are often guilty of scooping up the big ones and leaving the little ones.  Usually, it’s those little ‘left-behind’ doggy-dos that are stepped on - at the worst possible moment.  

Everyone (except Christ) has a sin-nature.  Sins are the dog-dos the sin-nature produces and we just can’t leave them lying around.  We must deal with our sins daily or they will soon mount up and mess our lives.   Obvious sins need immediate attention or they will quickly become obstacles and obnoxious all round.  However, we must also deal with the little sins (sins of the mind) that don’t seem to harm anyone.  If we brush them aside, those seemingly harmless sins will haunt us later.  If they are not dealt with promptly when they first come to our attention, we are going to step on them at the worst possible moment. (1 John 1:9).

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The Unhelpful Helper

Christian Problems good intentionsA hungry boy sat on a river bank looking longingly across to the other side.  A canoeist paddling by asked why he looked so sad.  The boy explained how hungry he and his family were and how he could see this tree laden with fruit on the other side of the river but his father had forbidden him to ever cross.
The canoeist assured the boy his father was just being over-protective because he didn’t want his son to drown.   Wishing to be helpful, the canoeist then suggested the boy hop into his canoe so he could paddle him safely to the other side to pick the fruit and then row him back again.  He reassured the boy that his father would be so pleased when he saw the food to feed his hungry family.
The boy eagerly jumped aboard.  Soon he was safely on the other bank climbing the tree and picking fruit.  As the canoeist watched the grateful boy pick the fruit, a grin spread from ear to ear – he was happy to have done such a good deed.  Moments later, however, his grin disappeared when he saw a lion leap into the tree and devour the boy in a single gulp.

We can find it very difficult to understand the reasons why good people often go through bad times.  Why does God permit or withhold certain things that seem completely unfair or unreasonable?    We must remember, God has a reason for everything and often that reason is not made clear to us.
Understanding this, we must resist the urge to rush in with our good intentions. This is not to say we do nothing, but before we take action, have we considered what God is trying to do in that person’s life.  Is our well-meaning intentions going to rob that person of an opportunity to grow spiritually; or worse, put them in a lion’s den.
As Christians, our intercessory prayer and service are designed to help the spiritual advancement of others – never to hinder them.    If we are ever in doubt whether or not our good deeds will have dire consequences, we should do what the well-meaning canoeist should have done – consult the Father before he acted. 
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8.

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The Ripple Effect

Free Christian Illustrations Ripple effectIf a rock is thrown into a still pond we see the ‘ripple effect’, where circles of small waves ripple out from the centre of impact.  The ripples will continue to spread until they are stopped by an obstacle or encounter ripples moving in the opposite direction.

The world is no still pond; everyone is making ripples – mostly negative.  When a person is angry, they often spread their anger to the people around them – then in turn, those people spread it to others and the ripples go out. 
When we are victims of rudeness, intolerance or injustice, we usually react by being likewise in return.  We each add to the ‘ripple effect’ which collectively builds up causing destructive waves of anger and depression.
God has called us Christians to be a barrier to those negative ripples currently swamping the world.  If we are focused on Christ, we won’t react when faced with the world’s hostility; instead, we will start ripples of grace to offset the destructive one.  As Proverbs 15:18 states: A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. 
People are usually caught off guard when their rudeness is returned with kindness.  Unlike a hostile retaliation, a graceful attitude makes people stop and evaluate their behaviour.  Instead of reacting tit-for-tat, an honest smile; a bit of tolerance, a small act of compassion; or a kind word can change the direction of someone’s day.  This is one of the ways we live God’s Word and fulfil our role as ambassadors and imitators of Christ.
We should always question the sort of ripples we are sending into the world.  The ripples Jesus Christ sent out in His life were so gracious they will continue to ripple throughout eternity.  
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…  Galatians 5-22-23 NIV.

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The Heavy Rock

Growing in Grace Free Christian IllustrationsA farmer took his son to the top paddock.  He bent down, picked up an enormous rock and carried it to the other side of the paddock.  He then turned to his impressed son and commanded: ‘Do as I have done, lift that rock with your bare hands and carry it to the other side.’  
The boy tried but it would not move – no matter how he strained, the rock wouldn’t budge.  Eventually he fell down ashamed, saying: ‘It’s too heavy. I’m not strong enough.’   
‘Don’t worry,’ said his father.  ‘Every week – try it again and you will find that strength will come.  Just don’t give up.’
For many years the boy went back to the heavy rock.  As he grew in strength, the rock started to move.  Soon, he could lift and carry it a short distance.  When the boy grew into a man, he finally achieved the task his father had set for him those many years before.  On becoming a father, he took his son to the top paddock, showed him the heavy rock and gave him the same command. 

God gives us many commands.  Some commands we are not able to carry out effectively for many years until we have built the capacity.  God commands us to love Him – how can we truly love someone until we know them? We are commanded to be thankful, merciful, long suffering, joyful – how do we fulfill these commands when we’re just spiritual babies?  Furthermore, we’re commanded to love one another as Christ loves us – a seemingly impossible rock to lift.  There are so many commands that appear too difficult to accomplish.  However, when we grow in faith, always persevering – never giving up, we will find that God has given us the strength to fulfill all of His commands.  
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 40-31

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Plugged In

Plugged into God's PowerWhen we turn on an electrical appliance and nothing happens we generally look for the problem.  Most of the time, it is because the appliance has not been plugged in or switched on at the power point.  No matter how good the appliance, without power it becomes a useless piece of machinery.

If our spiritual life does not seem to be functioning, maybe we should check if we are plugged into the Divine power source.  A branch only produces fruit because it is connected to the tree.  If we abide in Christ we are plugged into God’s power source.  As a result we will naturally start exhibiting the traits of Christ.
Sadly, many try to produce the fruits of Christianity in their own power and then wonder why their burdens aren’t light, why they are constantly stressing and don’t have the joy promised in the Bible.  The truth is, if we are not abiding in Christ and plugged into the Divine power source, we are just like the unplugged appliance – taking up space and good for nothing.
“I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

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Christian Pictures Climbing AdversityRock climbing can be an immensely difficult undertaking.  It requires determination and a lot of patience.   It has a high casualty rate for those who are unprepared, ill equipped or go unaided.

During our lifetime, there will be stages when things go bad.  It may happen because of our own stupid mistakes or simply be the unfair result of life in the devil’s world.  Adversity can rise like an impassable wall and if we wish to move forward, we must climb.
Overcoming adversity is no easy task, particularly if we go it alone and start ascending without aid or support - one slip (into depression) can be fatal.  God never likes to see us fall - He wants us to rise above adversity.  For each of us He has given an unbreakable line of support (His promises), which we should attach to our harness (faith).  However, if we are without faith, God’s promises will be of little help. 
Climbing adversity can be a slow tedious journey.  We often tire and think we won’t make it.  For this reason we must continuously lock in our line of support (remember to claim God’s promises daily), then if we slip (get depressed) our fall will not be far.  Eventually, with much perseverance, we will rise above adversity and be a much stronger Christian for the climb. (Romans 8:28, Galatians 6:9)

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Christian Pictures ProsperityDescending is so much easier than ascending - it takes little effort on our behalf (gravity does most of the work).  However, if our descent is not controlled, there will be devastating consequences when we hit rock-bottom.

In so many ways, prosperity can be more testing than adversity.  It is natural to think: Test me with prosperity any day.  However, truth is the highest suicide rates and suffering from chronic depression occur in prosperous nations.  Almost daily, we hear of celebrities who have completely lost the plot and wrecked their lives.  Statistics reveal an overwhelming majority of lotto winners wish they had never won.
Prosperity wrecks more lives than it improves. The problem is that when things are going well we tend to let down our guard.  Most of us leap into times of prosperity thinking - we can fly.  Instead, we plummet.
When arriving at prosperity, we should approach with caution – if we simply leap in, it will end in disaster.  As with adversity, God gives us a life-line (His promises) to attach to our harness (faith).  When we start descending into an ‘opening of prosperity’ and feel we are moving too fast or out of control, we must lock in God’s life-line (promises) which will immediately control the descent.
When we finally reach the end of prosperity, we will not be ruined like so many others.  The experience will have refined and improved us.  At this point, many may wonder how we managed to go through prosperity without being affected.  That’s our opportunity then to point to God’s life-line and tell them how to connect (the Gospel). 3 John 2

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Peace of Mind

Christian Pictures Peace of MindThere was a very old saying coined in a time when strong nations constantly invaded weaker nations: ‘If you want peace – you must always prepare for war’.  It was understood the only way a nation could be left in peace was to be strong enough that no one could take their peace from them.
Children at school also learn the strong kids are usually left in peace while the weak ones are often a target.

Do we desire to have ‘Peace of Mind’?  If so, we must be prepared and develop a strong mental attitude.  The world is full of bullies and overwhelming circumstances and it’s easy to become a victim.  Whether we like it or not, there’s a spiritual war going on and if we are not armed and ready it won’t be long before we are a spiritual casualty knocked down with constant worrying, fear and depression.
God has given us the armaments to defend ourselves.  We must put on our spiritual armour (Eph 6: 13-18), we must exercise in God’s Word daily and rely on His promises within.  In a nutshell, God is our armour and our strength. When we actively employ God to work in our circumstances through prayer and faith, we can relax. He knows every aspect of what is going on and is hands-down the most powerful Being in the universe.  If God can create existence and keep it all bound together – even at a microscopic level, He can easily handle our little problems – but only if we let Him.  Romans 8:31b states: If God is for us, who can be against us?
When we trust in God, He will immediately start working into our situation. Sometimes He will bring immediate relief and resolution. However, at other times, God won’t change our circumstances – He will slowly change us so we rise above the trials and petty people (this is usually God’s preferred outcome as it builds strength and endurance).  Whatever the outcome, quick or slow, we can rest assured it is the best outcome (Roman 8:28). 
When we start using God to fight our battles, we will develop thinking like David when he was being hunted in the desert.  Even when surrounded by enemies and in dire circumstances, our ‘Peace of Mind’ will not be taken from us. Then we can state like David: I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

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The Roads We Travel

Your way or God's wayLife is a journey.  In regard to our physical, mental and financial wellbeing - where we find ourselves today generally depends on roads travelled yesterday.  And where we find ourselves tomorrow depends on roads taken today.
Common sense dictates, if we wish to reach certain destinations we must find the roads that lead there.  If we travel on paths going in the opposite direction to our destination it should be obvious we will never reach our desired goal.

Every day we make choices: some large – most small.  Those choices are steps heading in one direction or another.  If we choose to be lazy, self-absorbed, angry or bitter, we shouldn’t be surprised when we reach those miserable towns called: Failure, Loneliness and Depression.  No one plans to go to a wretched dead end, but if we are heading in that direction (by bad daily decisions) we shouldn’t be shocked when we end up there.
As Christians, we should desire to become a person of integrity, poise and inner-happiness – a strong, inspirational Christian who leads many people to the Lord.  To do this, we must travel on roads directed in God’s Word.  We must follow our Lord Jesus Christ.  His way leads us to Salvation and the eventual arrival at Spiritual Maturity.  His ways lead to a relaxed attitude where we are content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.  His ways lead to fulfilling a tailor-made plan that has eternal and glorious repercussions.
Every day we have the option of taking ‘our way’ or ‘God’s way’.  Of course we immediately think, ‘I want to head in God’s way’, but we must question if our daily decisions are taking us in the opposite direction.  If we realise we are heading the wrong way, it’s time to turn around.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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Unforgiving Prisons

Christian ForgivenessA prison is defined as a place of captivity – a position of confinement or restraint, be it physical or mental.  The worst ‘prisons’ are the mental ones we create for ourselves.  They can be the hardest from which to escape. 

When we don’t forgive other people’s trespasses against us (either real or alleged), we incarcerate ourselves in hatred and thoughts of revenge.  We are locked away in bitterness as we refuse to forgive and move on, waiting until the wrong-doer either apologises or compensates.  But if the offender does neither and is let off scot-free, we are the ones imprisoned and we can remain in our self-imposed prison of resentment for the rest of our life. (Matthew 5:24-26)
When God asks us to forgive the debts of offenders, it is primarily for our own benefit.  God does not want to see us trapped in a prison of our own making.  The only way for us to escape is to forgive as God forgives us.  Only when we are ‘free’ from our self-imposed prisons of bitterness and hatred can we find ‘peace of mind’.  Then, once liberated, we are in a position to help set others ‘free’.
Be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ. Ephesians 4:32 CEV

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Clearing the Land

Chopping down Sin Free Christian IllustrationsWhen early settlers were allocated land, they had to clear it before it could be farmed.  Trees and scrub were removed so the land could become productive and yield successful crops. 

As unbelievers and immature Christians, we plant many wild seeds such as: pride, jealousy, anger, lust or guilt.  These sins (undesirable thoughts and actions) take root and can grow into a forest (a way of life).  As Christians, we have a new spiritual life – a life that promises peace of mind, joy and contentment (John 15:11). 
Before this life can yield a successful crop, we must cut down the trees planted in the old life.  Some of our sins are small and easily uprooted, while others will have taken root deeply in our lives.  These sins will be obstacles as we start ploughing our fields with God’s plan. 
A deeply rooted sinful-life can be immensely difficult to remove, but we must start clearing or we won’t produce a harvest that glorifies God and lasts into eternity.  God has given us the tools: the Bible, the Holy Spirit and various teachers of God’s Word. We may have the tools, but it is up to us to start chopping and clearing.  This will take time, so we must be determined to roll up our sleeves and get to work.  Change in our life can be frustratingly slow, yet if we persevere, we’ll be so pleased with the final harvest – and so will those around us.
When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

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An Explosive Reaction

Science experimentWe soon learn in chemistry there are elements that are harmless, but when mixed with other elements an explosive reaction can occur.

Everyone (except Christ) has a sin nature.  All have their own personal areas of weakness.  One person’s area of temptation may be licentiousness (immoral depravity), while another is self righteous legalism (moral depravity).  Being temped is not a sin – even our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted.  Succumbing to temptation is the sin.
For example, if we have a compulsive nature and are tempted towards drugs or immoral sex, we must endeavour to keep our sin nature away from places with drugs or pornography.  If we have a tendency to judge and malign, we should avoid gossipy groups.  If we have a short temper, we should separate from elements that set it off.  The mixing of our sin-nature with corresponding temptations is like a powder keg waiting for a spark which usually results in an explosive situation that can make a devastating mess of our lives.
THE SOLUTION: Add God’s truth to our thinking and the outcome will be positive, resulting in a relaxed mental attitude that will defuse potentially hazardous situations.  Gradually, we develop a non-judgemental, inner happiness and self worth which will produce harmonious living and reflect the Glory of God.  (James 1:12)

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The Glass of Milk

Drinking a Glass of milk A son called his father desperately seeking advice on his troubled marriage.  He told his dad that his new wife and he were constantly arguing. 
His father thought for a while and then stated he had the sure-fix cure.  ‘Son, next time a quarrel starts sip a glass of milk – but don’t swallow it.  Hold it in your mouth until the entire situation calms down.  Repeat this whenever you are about to argue and you’ll soon see matters improve.’
A week later the son called his father, saying excitedly: ‘It actually worked – our relationship has never been better.  Tell me dad, what’s the secret behind the glass of milk?’
His father replied: ‘No big secret.  The milk does nothing – it’s keeping your mouth shut that solves most problems.’

In heated situations the appropriate thing to say is usually nothing; yet few of us have that control.  We feel we must constantly vindicate ourselves, matching insult for insult and never letting anyone get the upper hand.  But where does that get us?  People will believe what they wish no matter how we plead.  Furthermore, even if we win the insult match we certainly don’t win friends.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said very little when unfairly tried and condemned by antagonistic people, (…as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not his mouth. Acts 8:32).  Christ gave them no reason to justify their wrong actions.  He knew the power of silence.
As Christians, we should have absolute confidence that God will vindicate us, if necessary, (Psalms 5:11).  There is seldom a need to open our mouths with the many petty squabbles and disagreements in life.  We certainly don’t need to attend every argument we’re invited to trying to defend ourselves.  We can relax and practice tolerance and virtue-love.  We’ll soon learn that having a ‘Christ-like’ attitude resolves the majority of life’s problems before they have even begun.
He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.  Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive. Proverbs 17:27-28.

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Protecting us from Self.

God and SufferingWe all want to be safe from those who would harm us.  When our ‘way of life’ or safety is in jeopardy, we are quick to cry out for protection.  The police protect us from criminals within our community, and the military protect us from enemies beyond, but who is there to protect us from doing harm to ourselves.   

God wants to protect us from those who would hurt us.  Naturally, we also want this (we constantly pray asking God to keep us safe from harm); however, what if the person harming us the most is ourself?  Typically, it’s our own choices that prevent us from gaining true happiness and becoming everything God intends for us.  Sadly, it’s often our own foolish decisions that mess our lives and destroy future opportunities.  It is usually our own thoughts and actions (or lack thereof) that has led us to our unfit, or lonely, or depressed state.
So, when we are our own worst enemy, how can God protect us from self? He will do what He does with all enemies of Christianity, discipline them and frustrate their plans.  God is going to fight for us (Jer 15:20).  Often when we are chastised by our Heavenly Father, it is a gracious act of protection – divine intervention to save us from ourselves. For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12 
The upside to this is no matter what has happened in the past, every new day is a divine-gift where we have an opportunity to grow: mentally, physically and spiritually.  If we avoid thinking, consuming and doing things that hinder our growth, we will evade much discipline and slowly open up a world of new opportunities that continue into eternity.
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.  Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12).

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The Fickleness of People

Jesus Riding DonkeyProminent actors, sport personalities and musicians know all too well the fickleness of people.  One minute the crowd is cheering and you can do no wrong, then suddenly the media turns and the crowd becomes hostile.

Today, there is a real push in Christian circles to encourage each other.  This is certainly not a bad thing; however, it often leads to a lot of insincere reinforcement.  Churches are filled with well-meaning Christians encouraging others simply for encouragement-sake, not on the basis of genuine support of what others are doing, teaching or trying to accomplish.
While it is nice to be encouraged when doing Christian works, we must ask ourselves if people’s reinforcement and praise is our motivating factor.  What would happen if the crowd becomes indifferent, or worse – turns antagonistic?   If our eyes are on people, we will quickly drop-our-bundle and cease our good works. As the Bible states in Jeremiah 17:5: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength.’
Our Lord Jesus Christ certainly understood people’s fickleness.  One moment the crowd was cheering Him with palm leaves and shouting: ‘Hosanna’, and within a very short time these same people were shouting for His execution.  We should be eternally thankful that our Lord kept His eyes firmly on God and did not draw his strength from people.  We should do likewise and look to God for our true encouragement – and not trust in the fickleness of people.
For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5,6.

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The Frightened Child

Not Trusting GodIt is complimentary to you as a parent when your frightened child runs into your bedroom in the middle of the night, climbs into bed and promptly falls asleep peacefully by your side.  While too scared to sleep alone, the child has complete confidence in being safe in your protection. 

Similarly, we compliment God when we flee to Him with our worldly woes and our fears promptly vanish because we are confident in His safe presence.  God is glorified when we are at peace - completely assured that nothing can harm us. The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
On the other hand, we can conclude God is ‘not’ glorified when we don’t trust Him and remain scared when He has assured us there is nothing to fear. (Isaiah 43:1, 2)
What things are presently worrying us: the uncertain future; hostile people; health issues?  In this world there is unquestionably a lot one can worry about.  God knows all our problems and is waiting for us to place them in His capable hands.  He has the ability to turn bad things into good.  Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10
We either choose to keep our fears or hand them to God.  Our peace of mind will be determined by which option we select. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

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The Happiness Experiment

King Solomon not happyAn experiment is a procedure undertaken to make a discovery, observation, or demonstrate a known fact.  For the best results an experiment needs a suitable candidate tested under the right circumstances.

We all wish to be happy.  The big question is what will make us happy?  Is happiness found in riches, fame or power? An experiment is needed to truly find out. We can either spend a lifetime chasing these things ourselves or we can look at the results of the ultimate happiness experiment recorded in the Bible.
God supplied a perfect candidate that had it all: the looks, the power, the fame, and the riches.  Furthermore, King Solomon was a man historically noted for his wisdom.  God allowed Solomon to indulge in all the worldly things that many believe happiness is found. 
Very few people in the world have had the opportunity and resources to experiment like Solomon could, (read Ecclesiastes).  He was one of the wealthiest men of his age.  He was admired for his great accomplishments and envied for his power. He partied like few in history. On top of this he had one of the world’s largest harems.  So what did wise Solomon conclude?  Did any of these things bring him lasting happiness?
After many years experimenting and observing, Solomon concludes in Ecclesiastes that these things are: ‘meaningless vanity and chasing after the wind.  Those who have money never have enough.  Those who have power and fame are never satisfied’. He further concludes: ‘True happiness can only be found in knowing God and fulfilling His commandments’.
So, we have the option of accepting the results of the ‘Happiness experiment’ or, like a dog chasing his tail, we can continue pursuing happiness through the acquiring of ‘stuff’.
King David (Solomon’s father), concluded in Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore

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Living in Paradise Lost

Suffering in the Devils World Decisions made by a king affect his entire nation.  If good choices are made – his country prospered; bad choices – his country suffers.  If a frivolous king spends his country’s wealth, all citizens and generations that followed suffer the repercussions.  When a king declares war, he does not fight alone – he has made the decision for the entire country. 

Initially, God created a paradise for mankind.  It was never His design for us to live in a corrupt world, in a dying body.  He originally created perfect environment and in it placed man (with the power of free-will) to rule over it.  
Adam was the head of the human race.  When he chose against God, that decision did not just impact him; all future generations of humanity suffered the repercussions (expulsion from paradise and death – first spiritual, then physical).    
In times of adversity we are often guilty of pointing a finger heavenward saying: ‘How can God let disasters, illness and wars occur?’  We must remember that we are not in Eden anymore.  Because of mankind’s collective freewill, we now live in a dying, diseased world – in our dying, diseased bodies with our corrupted souls – making further stupid decisions that have further consequences.  This world is the bed that we have made for ourselves.    
If God is perfect righteousness, He must judge and condemn all mankind for all have sinned... (Romans 3:23).  However, God is also perfect love and He has never stopped working to bring us all back to paradise.  Still, there is a price to pay for our sins and God declared that he would pay our penalty.  He came down to Earth as a man (Christ) and took all the repercussions of sin unto Himself.  1 Corinthians 15:22 states: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
As a glorious result of Christ going to the cross, the path is clear for those who wish to return to paradise.  It is as simple as: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).  Adam may have lost paradise with one bad decision, but we are now free to find paradise (Heaven) with one good decision (John 3:16).  
We must stop seeking ‘Paradise’ in this world – it is lost.  God clearly tells us that it cannot be found on this corrupt and dying planet.  God has provided the eternal solution to our current mess – Christ.  It is now up to us if we personally accept Him to save us.  If we do, God guarantees our future will be paradise. 
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23.

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Facing Giant Problems

Giant Problems versus Gods PowerIf David measured his strength against the Goliath’s he would have quickly fled the battle.  Fortunately, David didn’t measure Goliath against himself but measured God against his giant opponent. 

At times the problems we face can be so gigantic they overwhelm us.  All we can see is our problems with no possible way to overcome them.  In truth, when we objectively measure our personal resources and abilities against our crisis, we may be right – defeat is inevitable. 
But what if we change our way of thinking?  What if we measure our gigantic problems against all-powerful God who has infinite resources at His disposal? Immediately, our huge problems become quite insignificant – God is far greater than any crisis we will face.  We need to stop being overwhelmed by the problem and look to the solution – we need to bring God into our fight.
When we invite God into our predicament by trusting in Him, He will work in our circumstances and help us overcome our giants.  Seldom, will God suddenly remove our problem because when our difficulty is removed so is the opportunity to grow spiritually.  God’s desire is for us to overcome our giants not in our own strength but by utilising His strength.  When David said: ‘The battle is the Lord’s,’ he didn’t just sit on the ground and do nothing.  He went into battle with complete confidence that God is in control of all outcomes.
As we battle our problems trusting in God, the more we focus on Him the less our problems will dominate us. We will be surprised by God’s unconventional ways of supporting us through our crisis.   When we finally overcome our giants, we will be spiritually stronger for the experience and God will be eternally glorified. 
“Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 14:47

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