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Southern Missionary Baptist  Church
Southern Missionary Baptist  Church
A Spirit Led And Bible Based Church
  • Our Church

    Southern Missionary Baptist Church
    921 Bissell St., P.O. Box 38 Map
    Madison, IL 62060
    Phone: 618-877-1305, Fax:618-688-4351, Pastor's Home Ph. 618-235-8299

    · Southern Missionary Baptist Church
    · Statement of Beliefs
    · Church History

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    Sunday School: 9:00 a.m.

    Sunday Worship : 10:45 a.m.

    Children's Church Is Open During Sunday Worship

    Prayer Meeting:  Tuesday 7:00 p.m.

    Bible Study: Tuesday 7:00 p.m.

     

    CHURCH IS NOW OPEN!

    PLEASE FOLLOW ALL GUIDELINES

    BIBLE STUDY WILL CONTINUE ON FACEBOOK

    SIMPLY GO TO "SHERRELL LAVELL BYRD JR."

     

    SUNDAY WORSHIP IS AT

    10:30 A.M. Central Time

    BIBLE STUDY EACH TUESDAY AT

    7:00 PM Central Time on Facebook

    DEVOTIONAL FRIDAY AT 7:00 PM Central Time on Facebook

    Simply go to our Pastor's Facebook page.

     

    SOUTHERN MEMBERS, YOU MAY SEND YOUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS BY:

    MAILING THEM TO SOUTHERN M.B. CHURCH, 921 BISSELL ST., P.O. BOX 38, MADISON, IL 62060

    OR MAIL THEM TO DEACON TERRYL CURRY, SR. OR SIS MARY TRICE

    OR USE OUR CASHAPP: $9446church

     

    We would like to welcome you to the Southern Missionary Baptist Church of Madison, Illinois.  We are a church with a warm heart and where no one is considered a stranger.  We believe in following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who exemplified love for all.  We believe in being led by the Holy Spirit in all that we do, praising God and giving Him the glory for His grace and mercy.  Here, at Southern, you will be greeted with open arms and you are invited to praise God with us.  Our Sunday and Bible Study is designed for all ages, with excellent teachers who exited about teaching and ready to answer your questions.  We have a mandate to win souls to Christ.  So if you're looking for a Spirit Led and Bible Based Church, come visit us.

     

    Pastor Sherrell and First Lady Mauristine Byrd

     

     

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  • 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

     

    2021 Theme: "Going Deeper In Christ!"

     


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      A LETTER FROM THE PASTOR

      July 21, 2021

      Dear Members of Southern,

       

      "THANK YOU!"

      I want to thank all of you for your continued support to the church.  You have continued to follow all guidelines in order to keep your Church Family safe and that takes great sacrifice. I know that it has been hard to reframe from hugging and shaking hands, but that will all return one day.  "Let patience have her perfect works." I also want to thank Sis. Tammy Kemp and Deacon Nicholas Wright for their work in our Media Ministry and the songs that they have played over the speakers during service.  I'm looking to have some kind of "Live Music" in the near future, using a small assembly of singers.  As you are aware, Sunday School have not restarted yet. We will focus on our Sunday Worship at this time.  Due to the new Corona Virus Delta Variant, please remember to wear your mask properly, covering your nose to your chin.  Keep hands sanitized and allow th ushers to seat you. 

      Bible Study will continue on Facebook for the remainder of the year.

      Our Sunday School lesson will continue to be available on our website.

      I'm still making hospital visits and will be with our Families during their loved ones surgeries, whenever possible.

       

      PLEASE, IF YOU ARE SICK, IT IS BEST TO STAY HOME.

      IF YOU HAVE A FEVER, STAY HOME.

      IF YOU'VE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO TESTED POSITIVE FROM COVID-19, STAY HOME AND QUARANTINE.

      IF ANYONE REFUSES TO WEAR A MASK AND IGNORE THE GUIDELINES, THEY WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE. 

      LET'S LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER.

       

      Sunday Worship will also continue on Facebook.  This will be beneficial to those members who are "Home Bound".

      Church van will not be used at this time.

      Again, thank yo for your patience and cooperation. Things will get better!  Now is the time to Renew, Refresh and Revive!

      Pastor Sherrell L. Byrd, Jr.

       

      For those who wish to send their Offerings and Tithes, You may mail them to Deacon Terryl Curry, Sr. or Sis. Mary Trice.  Or you may mail them to the church address: Southern Baptist Church, 921 Bissell St. P.O. Box 38, Madison, IL 62020.  Or use our CashApp: $9446Church.

       

      Yours In Christ,

      Pastor Sherrell L. Byrd, Jr.

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      SOUTHERN MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH

       

      THE GLORY OF GOD

      The author inserts personal comments when quoting Scripture which are indicated by square brackets. All biblical references are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

      The subject is the glory of God. Take your Bibles and turn to Exodus 33. It is a wonderful theme, the glory of God. The glory of God refers to what He is, all of His attributes, His greatness—that is His glory. That is a glory that we need. And by the way, that is a glory that we can receive. The Bible speaks about the transference of the glory of God to the glory that we need. But the glory of God also refers to what He deserves. We are to glorify Him. That’s something we give to God. We can give glory to Him.

      The psalmist in Psalm 29:2 says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due His name.”

      In 1 Chronicles 29:13, after David collected the money for the temple project that his son Solomon would build, he said, “Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.”

      Psalm 145:5 says, “I will mediate on the glorious splendor of your majesty.”

      “It doth not yet appear what we shall be [Praise the Lord for that] but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

      “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Glory time is coming. The glory time can also be here, but only in measure.

      Several years ago when we were in Argentina and seeing the blessing of God there and multitudes coming to Christ, the crowds would shout out, almost in utter abandonment and ecstasy, Gloria Dios! Gloria Dios! Everywhere you went everybody was saying it. Glory to God! Glory to God! This is the time to praise the Lord. All heaven breaks out in joy. The angels of God are rejoicing over one sinner who repents.

      Some of you may not know, but our current western culture was really baptized in revival and evangelism. And as it came into the last part of the 1800s, something like the Great Awakening that brought this United States of America into existence, it seemed to happen all over again. God took an uneducated man named Dwight L. Moody and began to turn the nation upside down for God. Over a million people came to profess faith in Jesus Christ. Men followed him, like Billy Sunday and others. Sunday was a great song man for Dwight L. Moody who used to move audiences so much that Moody would not preach. He would just give the invitation after Billy sang. And there was a song that captured all those great days of evangelism and revival. It was called, “The Glory Song.” It was my privilege to hear Ira Sankey on a cylinder roll with his voice singing this song:

      When all my labors and trials are o’er and I am safe on the beautiful shore,
      Just to be near the dear Lord I adore, will through the ages be glory for me.
      O that will be glory for me. Glory for me. Glory for me.
      When by His grace I shall look on His face, that will be glory, be glory for me.

      Charles Gabriel, who wrote that song also penned,

      When by the gift of His infinite grace I am accorded in heaven a place, just to be there, to look on His face, will through the ages be glory for me. Friends will be there I have loved long ago; joy like a river, around me will flow. Yet just a smile from my Savior, I know, will through the ages be glory for me. O that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me. When by His grace I shall look on His face, that will be glory, be glory for me.

      It was a past generation that spoke of the glory that is coming. It seems to me the present generation is interested only in our own glory.

      Let’s pray.

      Father, we desire that You be glorified. We desire to understand Your glory and the dimensions and extent of it. Lord, we know one day, You have told us, that glory will be a reality in our lives. Father, help us to focus on who You are. Help us to focus on the wonderful hope that we have in You. Help us, Lord, to be lifted out of the struggles now. To see You in all Your glory. Remember King David said, “I long to see Your glory as I once saw it in the sanctuary.” Remember Isaiah spoke of Your glory as the posts of the temple were moved at the voice of Him who cried and the place was filled with smoke. God, may we see and understand Your glory. Thank You, Lord, for what You are going to do. And it is in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.

      The glory of God is revealed in several ways and understood and seen in several ways. One of which is certainly in God’s power. In the power of God you see glory, especially in creation. Psalm 19:1 says,

      The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse shows the work of His hands.

      Psalm 8:3–4 says,

      When I consider the heavens and the work of Thy fingers, and the sun and the moon and the stars, what is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou would visit him?

      You see the glory in what God has made. Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 1 and we see an indictment against man who refuses to glorify God, for the glory that is seen in His power. In Romans 1 beginning at verse 18, the Bible tells us what happened to those who decided not to glorify God and wound up exchanging the glory of the Creator into the glory of something that that person had designed or made.

      18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress [or hold down] the truth in unrighteousness,
      19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
      20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
      21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
      22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
      23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
      24 Therefore God also gave them up.

      What is the real answer to this particular passage when we read of God saying, “I am through with them?” Verse 32 says that those who practice such things are worthy of death and deserve the judgment of God. We look at all this and say, “What brings this indictment from God against man?” And the answer is because they refused to glorify God for what they had in creation.

      The power of God displays, declares, reveals, the glory of God. Notice in verse 20 it mentions His eternal power. Whoever made this had to be in existence before it was made. This is eternal power. And whoever did it is obviously bigger than you and I. This is God’s eternal power and we are held accountable for those two facts no matter what else we know about God’s plan of salvation. The creation reveals a God of power. The heavens declare the glory of God.

      The second way in which we see God’s power is actually in His presence. This is very fascinating to me. Turn to Exodus 40. The presence of God was displayed and reveals the power of God in it. And I kind of wish that something like what we are going to read about would happen today. If it did, some of us would call 9–1–1 rather than realize it was the power and glory of God. In Exodus 40, after the Israelites had all the instructions about how to build the tabernacle and all the instructions about how to manage the worship of that facility, something interesting happens when they get all done with the project.

      34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
      35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

      Wow! Imagine what that was like. It was a cloud, a visible demonstration of the presence of the Lord. And it is called, “the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”

      Turn to Leviticus—the next book—just over to chapter 9. And look, please, at verse 22. The glory of God is revealed, not only in His power, but in His presence. And He demonstrated that presence in a visible manner to the children of Israel. In Leviticus 9:22–24,

      22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward his people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings.
      23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.
      24 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar and when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

      Can you imagine this? That giant bronze altar, which the priests had to climb up to and there are animals all over it. He has sacrificed them. They go for a moment into the tabernacle of meeting, stopping for a moment at the laver to wash their hands, then they to go into the presence of the Lord. And they come back out and say a blessing for all of the people. And all of a sudden, God displays His glory and fire shoots out of heaven and burns up everything on the altar. And all the people fall on their faces. Maybe we should have that happen here today, amen? We lose sight of the glory of God in a generation filled with the glory of man.

      Look at 2 Chronicles 7, please. It is interesting that it happened again when the temple was built. This was a temple far more beautiful, far more permanent it seemed, than the tabernacle. And yet it was not too long after this that it was destroyed. But Solomon had made a tremendous prayer of dedication, dedicating the temple for the worship of the Lord. And something happened when he finished praying. 2 Chronicles 7:1 says,

      1 When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
      2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house.

      Folks, the presence of the Lord is so awesome; it is like a thick cloud. Isaiah said it was like smoke. You cannot see and you cannot enter the building. And it is just filling the place. No wonder the people responded, “Gloria Dios! Glory to God!” God is visibly manifesting His presence among His people.

      Turn to 2 Corinthians 3 and let me show you a third way in which the glory of God is revealed. Not only in His power, especially in creation. Not only in His presence as it was visibly demonstrated to the children of Israel, but also in those principles that we call the law of God. Those principles that a lot of people would just as soon not read today or pay any attention to, but instead they reevaluate or reinterpret. The Bible says the glory of the Lord was there. You learn something about God by finding out what He believes is right and wrong. The law was never intended to save us, folks. The Bible says the law was a school master to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

      The Bible says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). The Bible says, “The law was added because of transgressions” (cf. Galatians 3:9). The Bible says that we did not receive the Spirit by the works of the law, but rather the hearing of the faith. And the Bible also says that we do not become mature or grow in the Lord by keeping the law, but rather by faith in what God says. I understand all of that. But in this generation we have decided the law has no purpose, no plan, no meaning, no significance to our life. Well, it certainly does. The law reveals what sin is from God’s point of view. And that is the only thing that makes sin be sin. It is not our view, it is what God says.

      And in 2 Corinthians 3, we have an analysis of the glory that was in the law, compared to the glory that is coming in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 3:7 it says, “But if the ministry of death”—now what that means is that the law simply condemned us. If you offend in one point you are guilty of all of it. The Bible says the soul that sins, it shall die. So it was a ministry, a service that God gave to us that really wound up in death. It tells you what is wrong and why you are going to suffer the consequence.

      7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, [The Bible said God wrote it with His own finger, right in the stone. Can you imagine being Moses and seeing that? It says, if that] was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away:
      8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
      9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, [and it did] the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
      10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
      11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
      12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech⁸
      13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
      14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
      15 But even to this day, when Moses is read [and he is every Shabbat] a veil lies on their heart.
      16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
      17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
      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 [presumably His] to glory— [presumably ours] just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

      Now that may be a little difficult to comprehend if that is the first time you have ever heard it or gone over it. But let me explain what it is saying. In the law there is glory. In Christ there is glory. In the law, it is passing away. In Christ it is permanent. The glory that we receive because of faith in Christ, though we do not see the visible demonstration of it, we will one day. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be,” the Bible says. But one day you are going to look at each other and say, “Man, glory!” But today you look at them and say, “You need help!” But one day it will be glory. The Bible says our body will be fashioned like unto His glorious body, the body of glory. It is going to happen one day.

      Now to illustrate that the glory of the law was there, it does reveal the character of God, but it is passing away. It does not achieve the purpose that we need to have done in our hearts. The glory of Christ does. To illustrate it, here is what God did. When He was talking to Moses and giving those Ten Commandments and other instructions on the tablets of stone, God caused the brilliant light of His own presence to reflect off of the face of Moses. Now it is very interesting. When he came down from the mount, it was shining so brightly it was like having a bright light right in your eyes. And the people could not look at him, so he had to put a veil over his face. The interesting thing is that would fade away after a while. And then they could look at him again. He could remove the veil.

      The law had glory in it. Does the law tell us about Jesus Christ? Oh, yes. In the law is the sacrificial system. In the law we learn that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. There was glory there in the law; but it is a glory that passes away because of the reality of what it was picturing has not come yet. And just like the fading face of Moses, that is what the glory of the law is. It does tell us about the Lord. But it does not give us the solution. It points to the solution. But the law itself does not save. Only Jesus Christ saves, who is the fulfillment of the law. All of the law pictured the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      It is fascinating, as Moses’ face would glow, so the law glows. It glows with everything man needs to know about sin and about sacrifice, but it pointed to them. It was, as Paul said in Galatians, “a tutor, a school master,” saying that it is over there that you need to go. It is Jesus Christ you need. He is the fulfillment. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to those who believe,” says Romans 10:4.

      The glory was there though. Turn back to Exodus 34. The glory was in the principles that God gave when He said, “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.” God’s glory is there.

      29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.
      30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
      31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them.
      32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
      33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.
      34 But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded.
      35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

      What a fascinating analysis of the glory of God. If you think about it, if you really start thinking about it, it makes a lot of sense in a lot of areas. One thing that really struck me, is that Moses simply reflects the glory of God. That is true of us as well. But did you know that according to the Bible, when you become a believer in Jesus Christ, you are not simply going to reflect the glory of God, which you do once in a while? Not always, but once in a while this happens and I call it “leaking out glory.” You dribble out something good and folks say, “That must have been the Lord.” But anyway, most of the time you look pretty much like everybody else and you do not look like you are shining in any way. But the truth is that God places within you the glory of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, and you have this treasure in you. And one day you are going to really shine. And it will not be a reflection anymore. It will be the glory of the Lord in your life forever. And I say, “May that day hurry because some of us are looking pretty crusty!” Amen? We look like we need help soon.

      Now turn to John 1 please. Not only do you see God’s glory in His power and in His presence and His wonderful principles we call the law, but you see God’s glory in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. In John 1:1, John refers to it and he said, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Then in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His [What?] glory; the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John, when did you behold His glory? What do you mean you beheld His glory? A lot of folks who saw Him did not see what you saw. What are you saying?

      Turn back to Matthew 17 please. The apostles went around in the early days of the church telling folks they had seen the glory of the Lord. John was a part of a special group of three men who were on the mountain of transfiguration with Jesus Christ. It says in Matthew 17:1–2,

      1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;
      2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

      By the way, if I were the devil and I wanted to counterfeit this, which the devil always does, then I would make you see lights. It is amazing to me how many experiences people have that talk about “near death” or “out of the body” or whatever, and they always see a light. And there is some tunnel and there is light at the end. Hey, it may be the lights of an oncoming train! You know, you may have had too much chili—that may have been your problem. Let me tell you the devil can deceive you. The Bible even says in 2 Corinthians 11 that his angels (his demons or his ministers) literally change themselves into angels of light. How interesting! The devil himself knows this light issue very well.

      The light we need is the light of Jesus Christ. The Bible says He was transfigured in front of them. Now something else happens. Verse 3 says, “Behold Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with Him.”

      I was talking one day with a Jewish friend and we were discussing the matter of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation. And I told him I thought it was Moses and Elijah. And I still remember his words, they were kind of cute. He said, “I will tell you what, Dave, if Moses and Elijah come back, I think I will believe along with a lot of other Jewish people.” Moses was the greatest law giver and Elijah was the greatest prophet. Can you imagine the joy that is in Peter, James, and John’s heart? Peter speaks up—he usually did. In verse 4 it says, “Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.’”

      Now, is that unbelievable? I mean, that is like saying the obvious. “Boy, this is great! Let’s not go anywhere else. I will tell you what, we will build three tabernacles; one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for You.” And all of a sudden the visible manifestation of the glory of the Lord comes. I did not make it up. Look at verse 5. “While he was still speaking”—perhaps Peter said—“Let’s get it organized. John, James, you guys go into town and get the nails. We will build this thing right here.” And while he is still talking [thunder sounded].

      “Man, it is getting cloudy here. You guys better get into town and get that stuff quick. Let’s not lose what we got here.”
      “Peter!”
      “Who said that?”

      “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

      I don’t know if he got the message or not, but it means—forget Moses and Elijah. You want to know what these guys thought of that event? Turn please to 2 Peter 1. Their lives were changed by what they had seen. John said, in John 1:14, “We beheld His glory.” And in 2 Peter 1:16–18 I read these words:

      16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
      [They saw it.]
      17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
      18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

      “We were eyewitnesses. We saw it. We beheld His glory,” they must have said.

      I do not know what happened during the transfiguration people. I really don’t. A lot of folks ask and I have studied it. I have preached sermons on it and I still do not think I know what I am talking about. I am serious. I know this: that God says one day we will not need the sun, the moon, and stars because the glory of the Father and the Lamb is all the light we will need. In some mysterious, powerful, and supernatural way, Jesus pulled back the curtain of His flesh (which made Him look like any other man) and all of a sudden the brilliant, glory of God appeared in terms of rays of light that came shooting out of His body. It literally was stunning to Peter, James, and John. When they finally opened their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only, and they never forgot the experience. The glory of God is in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. You talk about glory—that is Jesus.

      Now number five. Turn back to 2 Corinthians 3 again. The glory of God is revealed in His power, in His presence, His visible presence to the children of Israel, in His principles we call the law of God, and in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. But the glory of God, praise the Lord, is also revealed in His people, those who come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I can look at you and you can look at me, and we can say, “There is glory in them bones.” There is glory there. Sometimes you look at somebody and say, “I do not know. Are you sure they are a Christian?” At other times you look at them and say, “There is glory there, man, there is glory in that believer.”

      We read at the end of 2 Corinthians chapter 3 the words that, “We, with unveiled face beholding in a mirror [the Word of God itself is that mirror] the glory of the Lord.” You see who God is. The Bible says, while you are doing that and looking at who God, or who the Lord, is you are being transformed. That is the word “metamorphosis”—the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. “You are being transformed into the same image from glory (the glory that is the Lord’s) to glory, (the glory you now have) just as by the Holy Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18, paraphrased). The Spirit does it as you look into the Word.

      How does one get transformed? How does one change? To put it in our vernacular, how does one go from what looks like a bombed out, “grossville-type” person, into somebody that can be used of the Lord? How does it happen? It happens by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God, changing a person on the inside. The problem is, you see, it is not always visible on the outside. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

      Jump down into chapter 4 and I will show you what I mean. In 2 Corintians 4:3–7 it says,

      3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
      4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
      5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.
      6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
      7 But we have this treasure [this glory of God in the person of Christ—we have this treasure] in earthen vessels, [that is clay pots, not worth much] that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

      Now folks, in the ancient city of Corinth, as you head towards the judgement seat called the bema seat, still sitting there today, you walk down the main street on either side there are shops and a few little dwelling places. The remains are still there and in these shops we found clay pots from first century A.D. Corinth. And these clay pots were used in Corinth which was a very wealthy city—extremely wealthy—and in that city they would use clay pots to put their precious treasures in, of gold and silver and jewelry and so forth. They put it in a dumb-looking pot so that nobody would think to look there. If you put it in a very nice gold pot, then people would think that is where your treasures are kept. The point is then taken by the apostle Paul. He said, “That is a good idea; that is just like what God does.

      Do you know what you look like? A clay pot. That is not exactly thrilling to your self-esteem, I know, but that is what you look like. God says you are a clay pot, but inside there is a wonderful treasure. It is the glory of God and you have not yet seen how glorious it is. But one day you are going to see what glory is all about. We are going to shine in His brightness. We are going to explode with the radiance of God’s life within us. It is like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. And some changes do take place. We are being changed. And every now and then a little wing sticks out of the shell. And then he pulls it back in.

      Well, every now and then you do the same thing. You dribble out a little glory and somebody looks at you and says, “Boy, that must have been the Lord!” But then they look again and they say, “No, no. He is still a caterpillar.” They see the shell. That is all they see. And that is the game that we are in, isn’t it? It is a terrible way to live. I wish Christian people would live beyond that, but that is the game we are in. What we do, and what we say; we are into everything. We are into the outward appearance. That is what our whole life is all about and that is where we struggle. That is where we have hurts. That is where we have disappointments and frustrations. That is what it is all about. Listen folks, one day it will all be over, praise God! It will all be over and it will be glory day like you have never seen. But the truth is that the glory is there now, in the people of God.

      I love to look into the eyes of a precious saint who is just falling apart physically and near death in terminal illness. I have seen that many times in my life and I love to look into their eyes because I can see glory. I can see people wracked with pain who long to be with the Savior and have a joy and have a peace that is unexplainable in human terms. I have seen glory in their eyes. Let me tell you, I have not seen anything compared to what we will one day be. All of the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared—and what are we doing? We are comparing them all the time. That is what is big to us—all the hassles of life. It is not what’s coming. We don’t even like to live that way.

      We were programmed and taught—this generation more than any one in our culture—was taught to focus on itself. And you know that and I know that. We have been programmed constantly to think that. We are into appearances. We are into things. We are a materialistic generation and we have lost sight of heaven. We have lost sight of glory and that is why we cannot endure when things do not go right for us. That is why when trouble comes, we fall apart. It is because we have never learned where the glory lies. The glory does not lie in the pragmatic business matters of our life that you and I have to deal with every day. That is not where the glory lies. The glory is inside every believer and one day will fly forth like the butterfly. And one day you will see what you cannot see now, that we are filled with glory. And the next time you are ready to rag on somebody and put them down and criticize them, you remember that James said, “You better be careful. You are doing it to the glory of God.”

      There is glory in that person. Well did you see what they did? I know. Just wait. They are just caterpillars. But the DNA is not caterpillar. It is glory! It is a butterfly. And one day they are going to fly forth. One day.

      We need to look at each other in the light of eternity not in the light of the present. Some of us are going to make a miserable mess even today. Amen? You can go home from church, you can be so fired up, get in the car and something happens and your whole day is blown. Everything you heard in church is blown. And you are grumpy and miserable and upset the rest of the day. You can go home and rip your family apart and say, “Hallelujah” to the Lord. Listen folks, “It does not yet appear what we shall be.” I am so glad that one day it is going to be glory time, aren’t you? It is coming. Be patient, my fellow, beloved pilgrims. The coming of the Lord is drawing near.

      And that brings me to the sixth way in which God’s glory is revealed. Turn to Matthew 24. It is revealed in the promises of His coming. I do not know about you, but I am getting pretty excited over the Second Coming of Christ lately. I know this is not a series on prophecy, but I am going to slip it in wherever I can. I can remember sitting in a classroom in seminary, dreaming about what might happen in society that is happening right now. I pulled out a sermon I preached in 1963 when I was just a student preacher. And that sermon was on Revelation 13 on the mark of the beast. I told the audience— I remember it well because it is in there in my notes—that one day I could see a confederacy of nations in Europe who would have one common currency. I did not even know what I was saying. A lot of people responded, “Oh man, he is just a kid. He will learn.” And look at us. You know I can hardly keep from buying a newspaper every day. I do not know about you, but it is so exciting right now for me. You know it is almost like God’s writing the headlines. And that is something for me to say, knowing my attitudes toward the media. I mean, that is great. I mean it is like God is just putting it out there for us.

      I few months ago I read on the front page of the Jerusalem Post that Israel wants to have a security agreement with the United States of Europe to guarantee the peace and security of their borders. I said, “Hey, pack your bags, folks. We are going home. It is not going to be long.” Listen, that is spoken of in Daniel 9. Eighty percent of the agricultural products of Europe are coming out of the little agricultural nation that we call Israel. And they have got to have a pact. Listen, God set that whole thing up long ago.

      And look at the movement towards peace in our world. God told us, “When they say, ‘Peace and safety,’ then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). “It is a false peace,” God said. When it comes from the leaders of this world, watch out. Oh, we all desire peace. I am just telling you, folks, we are getting near glory time, amen? Hey the Lord is going to come.

      The other day a fellow told me, he said, “You are into escapist theology.”
      I said, “You bet. I am out of here. You bet.”

      Matthew 24:29–30, watch it says,

      29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
      30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great [What? What does it say?] glory.

      You want to know about the glory of God? You will see it when Jesus comes again. The whole sky will be filled with His glory. Man, what a day that is going to be!

      Turn to Colossians 3:4, please. The exciting news is that something is going to happen to us too. Not only will there be a glory displayed in the actual event of His return, but there will be glory displayed in the lives of every believer. Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ, who is our life, appears then you also will appear with Him in [what?] in glory.”

      Turn to Titus 2 and look at verse 13. You talk about glory! It says, “Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing [the appearing of glory] of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is glory time coming.

      I like Psalm 24:7–10 which says,

      Lift up your heads O you gates. And be lifted up you everlasting doors and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads O you gates. And lift them up you everlasting doors and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts. He is the King of glory.

      One day at a tour, for a little tour group we had on the temple mount, we were over by the eastern gate. And the eastern gate in Jerusalem is all walled up, as many of you know. And we were standing there with the tour group and the guide was, you know, talking to us about different things. And I asked him about those gates. I said, “Hey, why don’t we knock down those gates and open them up.” He said, “Oh no. Only the Messiah can do that. Only the Messiah can do that.” I said, “Where is that found in the Bible?” One little older lady in our group mentioned, she said, “I think it is in the Bible somewhere about meeting Him at the eastern gate over there.” That is a song, but it was a nice thought. It is a song, but the idea was that the gate is toward the east.

      When you build the tabernacle or the temple, you know, your gate is always toward the east. And the idea is that the Messiah will come. They are not going to build the temple there, they say, until Messiah comes. He is going to build the third temple. The first one, Solomon built. The second one, Herod built. The third one is going to be built by the Messiah. The dimensions of which are described in Ezekiel 40:4–8. And the glory of the Lord will come through the gates. We finally brought out the fact that it is in Psalm 24:7–10 where it says, “The King of glory is going to come through those gates. And who is the King of glory? He is the Lord of hosts. He is the King of glory.” One day the Lord is going to come and it is going to be glory.

      Turn to Philippians chapter 3. Now when the Lord comes, here is what is going to happen to you and me. Philippians 3:20–21. Our “citizenship,” that is the English word “politics.” It comes from that Greek word, our politics is heaven. It is good to remember that when we go to vote on something, isn’t it? Our politics is in heaven and I like what one writer said. “May heavenly politics govern our voting on earth.”

      20 For our citizenship [politics] is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
      21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, [the body of His glory] according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

      God is going to change our body. He calls it now, lowly—literally, humiliation or body of humiliation. You are into your body and God says it is not worth a dime. God says it is just a clod of dirt. Amen? Does that thrill you? I mean, that is what I think about all the time. Our world is filled with emphasis on the body. It really is. It is just filled with it. You know that and I know that. You know, pumping iron, doing aerobics. You know, eating well and all that stuff. Which, you know, if you want to enjoy life you probably should do that. But let me tell you something, in reality, you are falling apart. Amen? You are going down the tubes. It will not be long now till it is over for you. You may say, “Man, how thrilling. I am glad I came to church.”

      The good news is that one day God will take that body of humiliation that is in fact decaying, as we all know, and God will change it and it will never decay. One day there will be no more sin, no suffering, no sickness nor death. Our body will be fashioned like the glorious resurrection body of Jesus Christ and that day is coming.

      Look at 1 Corinthians 15 and notice please, verse 39. Talk about glory in the body! In verses 39–40 it says,

      39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds.
      40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

      Listen to me folks, in the Greek there is a play on words here that is not immediately observable in English. There are two Greek words for “another.” One is our word which we would say, “another of the same kind.” You are just like me. You are another one like me. There is another word that is our word heteros which means “another of a different kind.” Alos means the same kind. Heteros means a different kind. Heteros is on many English words, like heterogeneous. A culture that is heterogeneous is different, very different, or very distinct—not the same kind.

      Now I just thought it was kind of sweet of the Lord to show us that there are some kinds that are alike. But there are other kinds that are totally different. And when He said that the glory of the celestial is one kind and the glory of the terrestrial is another, He uses another of a different kind. I just want everybody in the audience to know that one day you are going to be different than what you are now. And I say, “Praise the Lord!” You are going to be different, totally different.

      41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, [they are the same] and another glory of the stars [that is the same]

      But when you compare the heavenly body with the earthly body it is totally different. So the illustration here is not only using the planetary sun, moon and stars—that is one kind of glory. They are all kind of the same. But they are different from what we have on earth, verse 39, birds and flesh and beasts, et cetera. And the point of it is remarkable in dealing with the resurrection body. Keep reading.

      42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.
      43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in [What? What does it say? It is raised in] glory.

      My dear friends, one day you are going to have a body that will never again be sick. One day you are going to have a body and you will never again face death. One day you are going to have a body that will not have to worry about diet. Amen? You talk about being delivered from bondage. There it is. One day you are going to have a body that is glory. And guess what? Your faith in Jesus Christ has already planted the DNA of that body inside of you. Is that not something? You are looking at me saying, “I know that guy.” What is he doing up there? I know exactly what he is like. I have known that guy from the past. And there are some ladies here that have known me since I was a little kid in Sunday school. And they know I am a miracle up here. They know that. And maybe you are thinking or saying, “Who do you think you are up there?” I don’t think anything, man. I just know there is glory coming.

      And let me tell you something. When you look in the eyes of somebody who says they are a believer and they know Jesus Christ as Savior, the next time you look at them you be very careful what you say about them or to them. They are glory. “And it doth not yet appear what they shall be.” It is going to all change soon, everybody.

      Turn to Revelation 15 for one last point. You see the glory of God revealed in a number of ways in the Bible. In His power, especially creation; in His presence, through a visible demonstration to the children of Israel; in His principles we call the law; and in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ; in His people who come to know Him; and in the promises of His Second Coming; but you also see it in the place where God dwells.

      In Revelation chapter 15 the scene is heaven. Verse 7 says,

      7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.
      8 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

      Obviously the visible demonstration of God’s glory in heaven was similar to what He had in the past in the tabernacle, in the temple. It was filled with smoke ushering out from His presence. Amazing!

      Look at chapter 21. In that city we call the New Jerusalem, the holy city, we affectionately refer to it as heaven. It says in Revelation 21:10–11, 22–23,

      10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
      11 having the [What? What does it say?] glory of God.
      22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
      23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

      Folks, the place where God dwells is nothing but glory.

      I read in Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Psalm, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” There is nothing but glory there. We do not need the sun, moon, and the stars anymore. They are only a reflection of the power of God. They are only the finger play of God. We will have Almighty God and all the light we need is God and Jesus Christ. That is all we need. Talk about glory!

      Well this message makes a couple of verses very interesting. Romans 3:23. “For all have sinned and come short of [what?] the glory of God.” There is the problem right there. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That is why you need a Savior. There will be no glory in your life until you get Jesus—none.

      The second verse I find very interesting for all Christians is this. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the [what?] the glory of God.” Everything, means things that are as menial and common and everyday as eating and drinking, do everything to the glory of God. Have you done everything today to the glory of God?

      Let’s pray.

      Father, You know how we come short of the glory of God. The psalmist said, “Not unto us but unto You give glory.” It seems like we are doing the opposite all the time. You said, “He who glories let him glory in the Lord.” And we keep boasting in ourselves and our own achievements. God, I pray for those in our audience that have never begun to experience the glory of God because they have yet to make a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God, help them to see that He is glory. And we will never begin to experience it until we know Him. God, I pray for those in our audience that are not sure if they died now whether they would be in heaven or not. God, help them to see the seriousness of this moment. You tell us, “If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we would be saved.” God, bring us to that place of commitment where we trust You and You alone, so that the glory of God in the person of Christ will now be in our lives, a treasure in earthen vessels.

      And God I pray for believers who are here, how easily we stray from Your glory. How easy we glorify ourselves. How easily we concentrate on our own feelings and attitudes and opinions. O God, thank You for the hope we have. Thank You that one day it will be all over. We will be with You forever. God help us now to focus on Your glory. As Paul said, “That the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us and that we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord.” That is the glory the whole world needs to see that has come to our lives, the joy, the peace, the love, everything He has brought, are all reflections of His wonderful glory and nature. It is all because of Him and our faith in what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. God, we do not always reflect it as we should. But one day, we will be revealed that we are truly sons of glory. And we thank You, in Jesus’ wonderful name we pray. Amen.

       

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      EVERY DAY, IS A DAY OF THANKSGIVING

      GOD'S BEEN SO GOOD TO ME

      EVERY DAY, HE'S BLESSING ME!

      EVERY DAY IS A DAY OF THANKGIVING

      TAKE SOME TIME TO GLORIFY THE LORD...TODAY!

       

       

       

       

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       ETTA BANKS......................................................NOVEMBER 4

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       REV. PHOENIX BARNES...................................NOVEMBER 15

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      OUR HIGHER CALLING DEVOTIONAL FRIDAY

      Each Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. on Facebook.  Central Time. Just go to the Pastor's Facebook page

       

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      What is the importance of praising God?

      Praising God is a normal response to what He has done for us and who He is. The book of Psalms, the largest book in the Bible with 150 individual psalms, is full of praise to God. In fact, Psalm 150, the last psalm in the book, concludes with the injunction, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 150:6Psalm 92 begins with the statement, "It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High", saying that it is good to praise.

      If we want reasons to praise God, we don't have far to look. First, God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins so that we could enjoy being in the presence of God forever. We cannot pay for our sins ourselves, so God paid for them. In addition to Jesus' sacrifice for us, we can look at the many attributes of God. God is all-powerful (Matthew 19:26), all-knowing (1 John 3:20), greater than anyone else (Colossians 1:18), love itself (1 John 4:8), merciful (Psalm 86:15), faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9), wiser than any other (Romans 16:27), and even more. A list of God's attributes would be as long as the Bible itself. Looking at these attributes makes it plain that He deserves our praise.

      An example of the importance of us praising God is Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:28–44). When the crowds of people were praising Jesus, some of the religious leaders in the crowd asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples because of their praise (Luke 19:39). Jesus' response, in verse 40 was, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." Praising God is so important that if people don't praise Him, creation would praise Him. Eventually, everyone will praise Him. Philippians 2:10 says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow. This is not restricted to those who love Him—it says everyone will bow.

      Since we all will eventually praise God, it is reasonable that we acknowledge His greatness now while we are not compelled to praise Him. Praising Him is His due, and we, as Christians, have the chance to praise Him now.

       
      Related Truth:

      How should I worship God?

      Why does God demand our worship?

      How can we bless God? What does it mean to bless God?

      How can I come to really know God?

      Why does obedience to God matter?
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      5 Qualities You Need to Be a Great Encourager

      As I walked up, I could see she was fighting back tears. A well of emotion rising up after hearing a message of encouragement. “I can’t remember the last time I felt truly encouraged—thank you,” she said.  She wasn’t alone—not today or any day.

      Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Our chief want in life is to find someone who will make us do what we can.” Life is breathed into the “can” we can do by the right person, with the right word, at the right moment, delivering an essential truth in a loving and gracious way.

      Encouragement breathes life into our souls.

      Life has a way of getting us to settle into what I like to call the “I am” zone (this is who and what I am). A place where daily routine numbs us of our need to give and receive encouragement. After speaking on Sunday, I received an email that sums this up well.

      “Jim - - I left the 11:00 service with several people on my mind, and a sense that I have not done enough (or in some cases, anything) to be an encourager to them. Thank you for a very thought-provoking sermon!

      Encouragement can change the course and trajectory of our lives.

      Everyone can be a great encourager by developing and nurturing five qualities.

      #1—A Genuine Heart for People

      Encouragers demonstrate a real and loving concern for people. They are keenly aware of when changing conditions and circumstances ignite fear, break hearts and rob you of your passion. Rick Warren says, “The first job of leadership is to love people.” The condition of your heart is a measure of your willingness and capacity to encourage.

      [shareable]“Real encouragement comes from the heart!”[/shareable]

      #2—An Empathetic Ear

      Encouragers actively listen with empathy. Meaningful encouragement is grounded in understanding—being able to accurately interpret what other people are saying. Great encouragers consistently seek to understand people. They are as comfortable with your fears and failures as they are with your hopes and dreams.

      #3—An Eye for Potential

      Encouragers see people as storehouses of untapped potential because they don’t see you where you are, but have a vision of where you can go. By looking at people as a work-in-progress they provide coaching, feedback and mentoring that enables the discovery and development of your unique gifts and talents.

      #4—A Consistent Source of Hope

      Encouragers see circumstances and conditions as changeable. They are prayerful problem-solvers and help you create solutions and pursue positive change. They know that resistance and failure are the inevitable companions of lofty goals and dreams and consistently deliver words of hope that support your race to the finish line.

      #5—Setting a Positive and Inspiring Example

      In every role of their life they are consistently the same because they are comfortable mixing with people from every area of their life because they are the same publicly, privately and personally. Great encouragers become pictures of humility, authenticity, compassion and action.

      Every important race in life will bring us face-to-face with adversity, resistance and challenges. They gang up with the hope of knocking you out of the race. While encouragement does not guarantee you immediate relief or victory it serves to push you towards creating a pattern of increasing effectiveness and impact.

      Everyone needs some help to nurture and develop these qualities.

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      Addiction Statistics In The United States 2021

      Substance abuse and addiction affect the lives of millions of individuals and families in the United States. Data from federal agencies shows concerning rates of drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents and adults in 2021.

      2021 US Substance Abuse Statistics

      Each year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health collects information on drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and addiction among people aged 12 and older in the United States.

      In 2019, about 20 million people in the United States had a substance use disorder in the past year, according to the most recent data report. Data for 2020 has not yet been released.

      Additional survey data during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has revealed higher reported rates of drinking and drug use among adults, as well as alarming spikes in fatal drug overdoses.

      What Is Substance Abuse?

      Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse or alcohol abuse, refers to a chronic pattern of frequent or excessive substance use in a way that is harmful to health and well-being.

      Examples of this include:

      • drinking excessively very often
      • taking drugs without a prescription
      • use of illicit drugs
      • taking drugs for reasons other than prescribed
      • taking higher doses than prescribed
      • taking drugs in ways other than prescribed (e.g. snorting, injecting, smoking)

      What Is Addiction?

      Addiction is a chronic but treatable disorder characterized by a compulsive need to use drugs or drink alcohol despite negative consequences. This can be physical and psychological.

      Addiction is different from physical dependence. Dependence is a physiological reliance on drugs or alcohol that can develop through chronic drug misuse or frequent, heavy drinking.

      What Are The Most Common Types Of Addiction?

      Substance misuse and addiction can refer to the misuse of a wide range of substances, some of which are classified as “legal” or “illicit”.

      Commonly misused drugs include:

      • alcohol
      • prescription painkillers
      • heroin
      • cocaine
      • methamphetamine
      • prescription drugs
      • marijuana

      Addiction can occur in people of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and gender identities, regardless of income or socioeconomic status. No one is immune.

      Alcohol Abuse And Addiction Rates In The United States

      Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance in the United States. While many adults drink in moderation, for some, this can become a compulsive and addictive habit.

      Rates that apply to the type of alcohol use disorder (binge drinking, problem drinking, etc):

      • About 24 percent of people over 12 report binge-drinking in the past month.
      • Nine in 10 adults who binge-drink do not have a severe alcohol use disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
      • About 55 percent of 12th graders reported drinking alcohol in the past year.
      • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 14.5 million people had an alcohol use disorder in 2019.

      Drunk driving rates:

      • More than 10,000 people die in drunk-driving crashes each year.
      • On average, 29 people die each day in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

      Alcohol-related fatalities:

      • Excessive alcohol use is the cause of about 95,000 deaths per year in the United States.

      Find the right treatment program today.

      Call to be connected with a treatment specialist. 100% Free and Confidential.

       (844) 640-0175

      Prescription Opioid Abuse And Addiction Statistics In The United States

      Prescription opioid drugs like oxycodone (OxyContin) have a high potential for misuse and addiction. Commonly prescribed for pain, these drugs can be misused for their euphoric effects.

      Prescription opioid misuse rates:

      • In 2019, more than 10 million people in the U.S reported misusing prescription opioids.
      • Nearly eight million were over the age of 26.

      Opioid overdose rates:

      • About 130 people in the U.S. die each day due to fatal opioid overdose.
      • From 1999 to 2019, nearly 500,000 Americans died due to opioid overdose.

      Rates by specific populations:

      • Although previously considered most common in white, rural populations, African Americans are now 2.5 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose compared to white Americans.

       

      Heroin Addiction Statistics

      Heroin is an illicit opiate drug that, due to crackdowns on opioid prescribing, has become easier and cheaper to acquire than prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin.

      Heroin use disorder rates:

      • About 50,000 Americans tried using heroin for the first time in 2019.
      • About 745,000 people used heroin at all in 2019, and an estimated 438,000 had a heroin use disorder.

      Rates that show the link between prescription opioid misuse and heroin addiction:

      • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
      • An estimated five percent of people with an opioid use disorder will use heroin.

      Heroin overdose death rates:

      • Overdose deaths involving heroin increased five-fold from 2010 to 2019, reaching over 15,000 in 2017 and decreasing slightly the following year.
      • From 2013 to 2019, the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving heroin increased 63 percent.

       

      Fentanyl Addiction Statistics

      Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid drug that is sometimes prescribed for pain. It is also illegally manufactured in forms that are sold on the street, sometimes mixed with other drugs.

      Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin, and about 100 times more potent than morphine.

      Scope of fentanyl misuse:

      • Over 250,000 people in the U.S. reported misusing prescription fentanyl products in 2019.

      Fentanyl-involved overdose death rates:

      • Synthetic opioids like fentanyl (mostly illicit forms) are involved in about 70 percent of drug overdose deaths each year—translating to more than 35,000 lives lost in 2019.

      Prescription Drug Misuse And Addiction Statistics

      Prescription drugs, like illicit drugs, can be misused for their effects. Some, like opioids, are more addictive than others.

      Some of the most widely abused prescription drugs include prescription sedatives, benzodiazepines (prescribed for anxiety), and stimulants such as Adderall and Vyvanse.

      Statistics On Prescription Drug Misuse And Addiction

      Overview of prescription drug abuse rates:

      • More than one million people misused prescription stimulants, 1.5 million misused tranquilizers, and 271,000 reported misusing prescription sedatives in 2017.
      • In 2017, an estimated 18 million Americans aged 12 and older reporting misusing prescription drugs in the last year.

       

      Sedative/tranquilizer abuse rates:

      • About 681,000 people had a prescription sedative or tranquilizer use disorder in 2019.

       

      Prescription stimulant abuse rates:

      • More than 550,000 people were dependent on or addicted to prescription stimulant drugs.

       

      Amphetamine misuse rates:

      • The misuse of prescription drugs like Adderall is highest among young adults, who will misuse these drugs to improve focus, boost energy, and suppress appetite.

       

      Cocaine Abuse And Addiction Statistics

      Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is illegal to buy, possess, and sell in the United States. In recent years, the rate of deaths involving cocaine has sharply increased.

      About 1 in 10 drug-related deaths in the United States involve psychostimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, or amphetamine.

      Overview of cocaine abuse rates:

      • About 671,000 people over the age of 12 started using cocaine in 2019.
      • Five and a half million people in the U.S. reported using cocaine at some time in the past year in 2019.
      • About one million people meet the criteria for cocaine use disorder.

      Rates of cocaine-involved overdose deaths:

      • Cocaine-involved deaths increased by 26.5 percent in the June 2019-May 2020 study period from the previous year.
      • Cocaine-involved overdose deaths are driven largely by a combination of cocaine with synthetic opioids other than methadone.
      • Cocaine is involved in an estimated 1 in 5 drug overdose deaths.

       

      Methamphetamine Abuse And Addiction Statistics

      Methamphetamine (meth) is an illicit stimulant that is surging in use across the United States, but especially among American Indians and Alaska natives, according to recent data.

      Overview of meth abuse and addiction rates:

      • An estimated one million people in the United States are addicted to meth or dependent on meth.
      • About 184,000 people reported trying meth for the first time in 2019.

      Meth overdose rates:

      • From 2011 to 2018, deaths involving meth increased five-fold, to 10.1 deaths per 100,00 men and 4.5 deaths per 100,000 women.
      • Deaths involving methamphetamine among non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska natives more than quadrupled from 2011 to 2018.

       

      Teen Drug And Alcohol Addiction Statistics

      Drug and alcohol abuse is a major concern in teenagers and young adults, largely due to the implications this can have for teenagers later in life.

      Beginning drug use or drinking at an early age is associated with a higher risk for developing a substance use disorder, as well as other developmental issues and life difficulties.

      Youth who drink alcohol have a higher risk of school problems, social problems, suicide, and misuse of other substances.

      Overview of drug use disorders and illicit drug use among teens:

      • Nearly 900,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 had an illicit drug use disorder in 2019.
      • About 37 percent of all high school seniors reported using illicit drugs (including marijuana, which is legal in some states) in the last year.
      • The perceived harms of drinking and drug use decreased from 2018 to 2019. This includes perceived risks associated with binge drinking, cocaine use, and heroin use.

      Overview of alcohol use disorders and alcohol abuse in teens:

      • About 414,000 teens were dependent on or addicted to alcohol in 2019.
      • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among young people in the U.S.

       

      Alcohol-involved deaths among teens:

      • Excessive drinking causes an estimated 3,500 deaths in people aged 21 and younger each year.

       

      Drug Overdose Death Statistics

      Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Drug overdose can occur in people addicted to drugs and those who are not.

      After the number of fatal overdoses across the U.S. fell in 2018, data from 2019 showed a sharp increase, with 2020 estimated to be the deadliest year on record.

      What recent data on drug overdoses in the United States shows:

       

      Rates for overdose deaths involving specific drugs:

      • Over 50 percent of psychostimulant-related overdose deaths involve opioids.
      • Synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as fentanyl, are involved in over 70 percent of all drug overdose deaths.

       

      The scope of drug overdose fatalities in the United States long-term:

      • Nearly 841,000 people have died due to fatal drug overdose since 1999.
      • From 2010 to 2019, drug overdose deaths have more than doubled, from 38,329 deaths in 2010 to over 70,000 in 2019.

       

      Increased drug overdose death rates in 2020:

      • Drug overdose deaths were up 11.4 percent in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year.
      • Approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred between June 2019 and May 2020, with the largest increase recorded between March and May of 2020.
      • The year of 2020—termed by some as the pandemic year—is estimated to be the deadliest year for drug overdose deaths on record in the United States.

      How The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Affected Substance Abuse

      Although national data isn’t yet available on substance use, addiction, and overdose for 2020, early estimates predict alarming trends—in part influenced by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

      The COVID-19 pandemic has affected substance abuse in a number of ways, including access to treatment, illicit drug access, social support, and how people are coping with pandemic stress.

       

      Highlights of COVID-19 and substance abuse:

      • More than 40 states across the U.S. have reported increases in opioid-related deaths over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Emergency department (ED) overdose visits in the U.S. increased up to 45 percent during the pandemic, despite a reduction in total visits to EDs.
      • In a CDC survey conducted in June, about 13 percent of adult respondents reported using drugs or alcohol to cope with pandemic-related stress.
      • Alcohol sales in stores were up 54 percent in March of 2020 compared to the same time the previous year, according to Nielsen.
      • Provisional data from the CDC predicts that over 88,000 drug overdose deaths occurred between July 2019 and August 2020.
      • Tracking substance use through household and school surveys has been complicated by the pandemic, making it difficult to identify the full scope of the problem.
      • Isolation during the pandemic is considered one of the primary contributors to upticks in increased drug use, alcohol use, and relapse.
      • Among over 1,000 people with substance use disorders surveyed in June 2020, more than 1 in 3 said they had experienced a disruption in accessing treatment or recovery support.

       

      How Many People Seek Addiction Treatment?

      While many people struggle with substance abuse, the vast majority of those who need treatment aren’t receiving it. And during the pandemic, the demand and need for treatment have increased.

      According to some estimates, only 1 in 10 people who have a substance use disorder receives treatment. And this varies by location, age, race, ethnicity, and income level.

      What recent data on addiction treatment admissions shows:

      • In 2019, about 4.2 million—or 1.5 percent— of people in the U.S. received substance use treatment in the past year.
      • About 1.27 million Americans are receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.
      • Over 21 million people were identified as needing substance use treatment—meaning less than one-quarter of those who needed it went on to receive it.
      • In a 2020 survey of over 300 treatment facilities, about 52 percent reported a rise in the need for treatment. Yet 65 percent reported having to cancel, reschedule, or turn away people in need.
      • Major barriers to seeking treatment include cost, insurance coverage, lacking nearby specialty care, and stigma.

      Addiction and substance abuse rates are ever-changing, yet treatment professionals are working tirelessly to help people recover with resources from treatment programs, free rehab centers, and more. Call today to find a drug rehab center near you.

       

       

      Written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff

      Medically Reviewed by
      Johnelle Smith, M.D on April 26, 2021

      This page does not provide medical advice. See more

       

       

       

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      10 Biblical Purposes for Fasting

       

      Throughout the Bible we most often find God’s people turn to fasting as the natural, inevitable response to a grievous sacred moment in life, such as death, sin and tragedy. But other times a fast is not a spontaneous reaction and we have time to prepare to respond both physically and spiritually.

      Fasting is not an end unto itself, but a means of focusing our minds and bodies for a spiritual reason. Whenever you fast, do so for a reason that is mentioned or modeled in the Bible. Here are ten primary purposes for fasting mentioned in Scripture:¹

      1. To strengthen prayer (e.g., see Ezra 8:23)

      Numerous incidents in the Old Testament connect fasting to prayer, especially intercessory prayer. Fasting does not change whether God hears our prayers, but it can change our praying. As Arthur Wallis says, “Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying, and to give force to our pleading in the court of heaven.”²

      2. To seek God’s guidance (e.g., see Judges 20:26)

      As with prayer, fasting to seek God’s guidance isn’t done to change God but to make us more receptive to his guidance.

      3. To express grief (e.g., see 1 Samuel 31:13)

      Expressing grief is one of the primary reasons for fasting. Ever notice that when you’re moved to tears by grief you lose the urge to eat? When we grieve, our family and friends often have to plead with us to eat because our body’s appropriate response to grief is to fast. A prime example occurs in 2 Samuel 1:12, where David and his men are described as having “mourned and wept and fasted till evening” for their friends, their enemies and their nation.

      4. To seek deliverance or protection (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 20:3 – 4)

      Another common reason for fasting in the Old Testament was to seek deliverance from enemies or circumstances. In Scripture, this type of fast is generally carried out with other believers.

      5. To express repentance and a return to God (e.g., see 1 Samuel 7:6)

      This type of fasting helps us to express grief over our sins and shows our seriousness about returning to the path of godly obedience.

      6. To humble oneself before God (e.g., see 1 Kings 21:27 – 29)

      “Remember that fasting itself is not humility before God,” reminds Donald Whitney, “but should be an expression of humility.”³

      7. To express concern for the work of God (e.g., see Nehemiah 1:3 – 4)

      As with Nehemiah, fasting can be a tangible sign of our concern over a particular work God is doing.

      8. To minister to the needs of others (e.g., see Isaiah 58:3 – 7)

      We can use time we’d normally spend eating to fast and minister to others.

      9. To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God (e.g., see Matthew 4:1 – 11)

      Fasting can help us focus when we are struggling with particular temptations.

      10. To express love and worship for God (e.g., see Luke 2:37)

       

      Fasting can show, as John Piper says, that “what we hunger for most, we worship.”⁴

      How should we equip ourselves when God calls us to “declare a holy fast”? Here are some things to consider as you prepare for fasting:

      Pray and confess your sins
      A necessary step before fasting is to humble yourself before God (see Psalm 35:13) and confess your sins (see 1 Samuel 7:6). Prayer should be our sustenance throughout the fast, but it is imperative we begin the fast with a contrite heart.

      Turn to Scripture
      Spend additional time meditating on God’s Word, before and during the fast.

      Keep it secret
      Fasting is unbiblical and even spiritually harmful when we do it to show off our spirituality (see Matthew 6:16 – 18) or when we focus more on our own fasting than on the clear needs of others (see Isaiah 58:1 – 11). Don’t boast about your fast; tell people you won’t be eating only if necessary. Fasting should not be done when imposed for false motives (see 1 Samuel 14:24-30).

      Prepare your body
      Fasting, especially for days or weeks, can have unexpected and even detrimental effects on your health. There is no scriptural warrant for harming yourself to undergo a fast. Be sure to consult a doctor before starting any fasting regimen to make sure you can fast in a healthy manner.

      Fasting is an appropriate bodily reaction to the grievous state of our soul. If it is done correctly you can expect many results, including growing closer to God, feeling more solidarity with those who suffer, and increasing self-control.

      For Reflection

      Rather than wondering whether you should fast, ask why you would want to miss out on the Father’s reward.

      ¹Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014).
      ²Arthur Wallis, God’s Chosen Fast (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1993).
      ³Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines.
      ⁴John Piper, A Hunger for God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997).

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      African American Gospel

      African American Gospel music is a form of euphoric, rhythmic, spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of the African American South. Its development coincided with -- and is germane to -- the development of rhythm and blues.

      The precursor to black Gospel music is the African American spiritual, which had already been around for well over a century before Gospel music began its rise to popularity starting in the 1930s. Songs written by African American composers in the decades following emancipation that focused on biblical themes and often drew from spirituals were the source for the development of Gospel. An example is "De Gospel Cars," by the popular composer Sam Lucas.

      When many African American communities migrated from rural to urban life during the first half of the twentieth century, they brought their worship culture with them. Echoing the ways of the single-room churches of the agrarian South, the storefront churches of the northern cities became the key setting for the development of Gospel.

      Gospel artist Mahalia Jackson. Carl Van Vechten, Photographer. 1962. Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-120855

      During the 1930s, Gospel music emerged from the coalescing of three types of musical activity: a) the hymn style of Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) a Philadelphia minister who composed hymns based on negro spirituals, adding instrumental accompaniments, improvisation and "bluesified" third and seventh intervals; b) the minimalist, solo-sung "rural Gospel" tunes that appeared as a counterpart to the rural blues; and c) the uninhibited, exuberant worship style of the Holiness-Pentecostal branch of the Christian church.

      The shift from spirituals to Gospel is evident in the recordings of African American religious songs recorded in the 1930s and 1940s. The Holloway High School Quartet of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, recorded by John W. Work, III in 1941, provides an example of a traditional spiritual arranged for four-part harmony in "Old ship of Zion,"  The same group in the same recording session demonstrated the sound of Gospel, as they sang an updated version of an old spiritual, "Daniel saw the stone." 

      A key figure in the development of Gospel was Thomas A. Dorsey (1899 -1993). Referred to today as the father of Gospel Music, Dorsey pioneered the form in Chicago. Before devoting his career to the development of Gospel, Dorsey, the son of a Georgia Baptist preacher, was a prolific blues and jazz composer and pianist. The energetic rhythms and primal growls of secular music heavily influenced Dorsey's sacred composing style.

      From its beginnings, Gospel music challenged the existing church establishment. Black religious leaders originally rejected Dorsey's approach because of its associations with the widely frowned-upon secular music styles of the era such as ragtime, blues, and jazz.

      "I know I've got religion," sung by the Golden Jubilee Quartet in 1943, is an example of an old spiritual arranged for Gospel quartet. The use of a rocking beat in Gospel began in the 1940s, as the secular form of what came to be called rhythm and blues was also catching on. An example is  "Death comes a knocking," performed by the Four Brothers, also recorded by Willis James in 1943.

      Thomas Dorsey teamed up with vocalist Mahalia Jackson (1912 - 1972) who, like him, had been exposed during her formative years to the Baptist church and the sounds of blues artists like Bessie Smith (through an aunt's record collection). Together, Dorsey and Jackson bypassed the establishment and took their new Christian sound to the street corners of Chicago and elsewhere around the country. Jackson sang Dorsey's songs while the composer hawked copies of his sheet music.

      Eventually, Dorsey and Jackson's vision spread through their alliance with a few likeminded musical pioneers to form of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, which is still thriving today.

      During its early development, Gospel music featured simple piano and organ accompaniment. Male vocal quartets were popular, having emerged under the auspices of African American universities like Fisk and Hampton. Originally these groups sang a cappella  spirituals, but started switching to the Gospel repertoire in the 1930s. In the 1940s, the quartets often added a fifth singer and guitar accompaniment.

      The sound of slide guitar sound from Hawaii began to influence many genres of American music shortly after Hawaii became a US territory in 1898. A style of Gospel music, called "sacred steel," emerged. View the concert starring Aubrey Ghent playing the sacred steel lap guitar.

      Although singers like Aretha Franklin had introduced Gospel style songs to the pop charts with songs like "Think" in 1968, church-centric Gospel music began to cross over into the mainstream following the release in 1969 of the recording of "O Happy Day" by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, a mixed-gender Gospel chorus based in the San Francisco Bay area. The song, which was based on a mid-eighteenth century English hymn sold more than a million copies in two months (well above average for a Gospel recording) and earned its composer, Edwin Hawkins (born 1943) his first of four Grammy Awards.

      Since Hawkins, other artists have emerged, taking Gospel music well beyond the black church. Today's Gospel songs are more harmonically complex than their traditional counterparts. Prominent names in the contemporary Gospel field include Andrae Crouch, Take 6, The New York Community Choir and the Cultural Heritage Choir.

      These days, Gospel songs are performed as solos or by small or large ensembles, and by men and women of all ages. Both blacks and whites sing the repertoire and the instrumentation possibilities are limitless, ranging from synthesizers and drums to full symphony orchestras. Hear, for example, Marion Williams's 1992 recording of "Amazing Grace,"

      The genre continues to make an impact on the popular music today. Its influence can be heard in the work of many secular performers, from the folk stylings of Simon and Garfunkel to the soul outpourings of Adele.

      Resources

      • The African American Civil Rights Movement (Songs of America)
      • African American Song (Songs of America)
      • Blues (Songs of America)
      • Blues as Protest (Songs of America)
      • Now What a Time: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943.  Consists of approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and Gospel songs, and related documentation from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia. The documentation was created by John Wesley Work III in 1941 and by Lewis Jones and Willis Laurence James in March, June, and July 1943. These recording projects were supported by the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center).
      • Darden, Robert. People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music. Copyright (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004)
      • Hitchcock, H. Wiley and Stanley Sadie. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. (London: Macmillan, 1986) pp 254-261
      • Koskoff, Ellen, Ed. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Volume 3: The United States and Canada. (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 2001) pp 629-636
      • Songs Related to the Abolition of Slavery (Songs of America)
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      How to Make a Will

      Here are the few simple steps you need to take to create your will.

      Updated by Valerie Keene, Attorney

      After you die, your will (if you have one) guides many important decisions—including who gets your property, who your executor is, who takes care of your minor children, and how your estate pays debts and taxes.

      Steps to Make a Will:

      1. Decide what property to include in your will
      2. Decide who will inherit your property
      3. Choose an executor to handle your estate
      4. Choose a guardian for your children
      5. Choose someone to manage children's property
      6. Make your will
      7. Sign your will in front of witnesses
      8. Store your will safely

      1. Decide what property to include in your will.

      To get started, list your significant assets. Then decide which items should (or must) be left by other methods, outside your will. Keep in mind that if you're married, each spouse makes a separate will. You can leave only your share of assets you own jointly with your spouse.

      2. Decide who will inherit your property.

      For most people, it isn't hard to decide who gets what. (But use caution if you are considering leaving your spouse or children out of your will.) After you make your first choices, don't forget to choose alternate (contingent) beneficiaries, too, in case your first choices don't survive you.

      3. Choose an executor to handle your estate.

      You can use your will to name an executor, who will carry out the terms of the will. The executor oversees the probate process, the distribution of your assets, and the payment of your debts and taxes. The person you name doesn't have to have any specific training because your executor can hire a lawyer to help. But be sure that the person you have in mind is willing to serve -- the job shouldn't come as a surprise.

      4. Choose a guardian for your children.

      If your children are minors, decide who you want to raise them in the very unlikely event that you and their other parent can't.

      5. Choose someone to manage children's property.

      If you leave property to children or young adults, you should choose an adult to manage whatever they inherit. To give that person authority over the child's inheritance, you can make him or her a property guardian, a property custodian under a law called the UTMA, or a trustee.

      6. Make your will.

      When it comes to how to make a will, you have several choices. You can:

      • Hire a lawyer. Many people choose to hire a lawyer to make their estate plan, and this is unequivocally the best choice if you need or want personalized legal advice--and you can afford to pay.
      • Use a statutory form. A few states provide a standard will form that you can fill out if you are a resident of that state. These states are California, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. On the upside, statutory wills are simple, easy to fill out, and familiar to the probate court. On the other hand, they are often too simple and inflexible to be useful to most people.
      • Make a will yourself. Those who have relatively simple estates can make their own wills using high-quality do-it-yourself materials. DIY wills are not for everybody—including those who have complex business holdings, complicated debt, or serious family conflicts. But if you have a relatively simple estate and straightforward wishes, a dependable product like can save you time, money, and hassle, at a fraction of the cost of hiring a lawyer.

      7. Sign your will in front of witnesses.

      After making your will, you'll need to sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses. If you're using a document called a "self-proving affidavit" with your will (to make things simpler when the will goes through probate court after your death), your signature must be notarized as well. Full instructions are included with Nolo's Quicken WillMaker software.

      8. Store your will safely.

      Your will won't do anybody any good if your loved ones can't find it after you die. Store it someplace safe and clearly labeled, and share the location with your executor. Ideally, you'll keep it with other important documents in a file cabinet or desk drawer—someplace your family would look for it. You do not have to keep it in a lock box, and doing so could delay the probate process after your death.

      Making a Will in Your State

      Learn more about making a will in your state through the links below. And to get more plain-English information about estate planning visit Nolo's Wills, Trusts & Probate Center.

      Alabama
      Alaska
      Arizona
      Arkansas
      California
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      STAYING HEALTHY

      Six simple ways to smarter, healthier eating

      February 13, 2021

      2dcc3eb9-7eae-4230-b183-3fd8f2e8cca3
      Image: Bigstock

      To eat a healthier diet, you need to combine nutritional science, a jolt of common sense, and pure enjoyment. Most of us know that fresh salad, berries, and slowing down when eating are better for us than wolfing down energy bars and sweets. But how to make that leap from our current habits to healthier ones?

      Here are six ways you can eat healthy, delicious meals, and really enjoy what you're eating.

      1) Ditch fats that are solid at room temperature

       

      This simple change reduces saturated fat in your diet.

      How: Switch to the healthy fats such as olive oil, sunflower oil and canola oil that stay in a liquid form when stored in the cupboard. But all fats have a high caloric density, so just use what you need for cooking and salad dressings.

      2) Harness the power of nuts (and seeds)/media/content/images/L1114j-1.jpg

      Almonds, cashews, filberts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios pack plenty of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Although many nuts are high in fat, the fat is mainly unsaturated — a great choice to help you eat healthy.

      How: First, put nuts on the grocery list. Nuts are high in calories, so it's best to enjoy them in place of other snacks, not in addition, and to keep serving sizes small.

      3) Taste food before you salt it

      Break the autopilot habit of reaching for the salt shaker to help you eat healthy.

      How: For two days, don't put any salt on your food at all. A short break can help reset your taste buds. Then, leave the salt shaker in the cabinet, so it becomes a bit of an effort to reach for it. Make a ritual out of truly tasting your food before you decide if it needs tweaking.

      4) Pack lunch once a week

      This makes healthy food choices readily available to you at work or on an outing. And since you are controlling portion sizes, you can make sure that you're not supersizing your meal. Plus, it saves you money.

      How: Once a week before you shop for groceries, write out a meal plan that leaves enough leftovers for one or two lunches.

      5) Eat five (or more) vegetables and fruits a day

      It's a nutrient-packed way to fill your plate that is generally low in calories.

      How: First, for one week, keep track of how often you eat fruits and vegetables. One serving equals one-half cup of chopped fruit or most vegetables; for raw leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, a serving is one cup. Once you have your baseline, try adding one fruit or vegetable serving a day.

      6) Plan meals that are delightful, delicious and healthy

      In an ideal world, food delights all our senses: it looks beautiful, smells heavenly, and tastes delicious, and its textures feel and even sound satisfying. Start thinking about food as something to really savor and enjoy.

      How: Pencil in time to prepare and savor one or two special meals a week. Once you've assembled great ingredients, set a gorgeous table. Take a moment to truly take in scents, companions, and surroundings, and if you like, give thanks.

      For 42 simple changes to help you exercise more, eat healthier, stress less, and live a happier, more fulfilling life, review Simple Changes, Big Rewards from Harvard Medical School.

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      Praying In The Spirit: Its Power and Benefits

      praying in the spirit

       

      Ever thought of praying the mind and the will of God concerning a matter?

      That’s where praying in the spirit comes in!

      In this post, we are going to be looking at a somewhat controversial topic that has divergent views among Christians – praying in the spirit.

      Amazingly, the bible instructs Christians to pray in the spirit always no matter what type of prayer they are doing! (See Ephesians 6:18)

      So that means praying in the spirit is important.

      Okay then, so what does praying in the spirit really mean?

      And what does the bible tells and teaches us about it?

      What are the benefits of praying in the spirit and how does one practice praying in the spirit!

      These and many more are what we are going to look into in this post.

      Praying In The Spirit

      Contents hide 

      1 What Is Praying In The Spirit?

      2 Benefits Of Praying In The Spirit

      3 How To Practice Praying In The Spirit

      3.1 1. Yield

      3.2 2. Listen.

      3.3 3. Respond

      4 Praying In the Spirit vs. Praying In Tongues

      5 Some Praying In The Spirit Bible Verses

      6 Final word

      What Is Praying In The Spirit?

      First things first, what is praying in the spirit?

      Against popular opinion, praying in the spirit is not speaking in tongues, yes, it does involve speaking in tongues, but it is more than that.

      Praying in the spirit is yielding, listening and responding to the impulses and leading of the Holy Spirit as you pray.

      It is actually allowing the Holy Spirit to direct, inspire and influence you prayers and the way you pray, such that you are able to pray the will of God (at the moment).

      One of the things the Scripture says of the Holy Spirit is that He helps us to pray because we do not know what to pray for and how to pray as we should. (Romans 8:26)

      So praying in the Spirit, is being helped of the Spirit to pray, being inspired of the Spirit to pray as against your own weaknesses and inability and limited knowledge and understanding of what and how to pray.

      In praying in the spirit, therefore, the Holy Spirit moves in, quickens your body, and helps your mind to grasp facts on prayers that are beyond your immediate knowledge and environment.

      He illuminates your mind with what to pray and how to pray it.

      Plus, the Holy Spirit takes it further by helping you to pray the inspired facts and knowledge (on what to pray about), through groaning and tongues.

      That way, the Holy Spirit is taking hold with you in prayer, helping you to pray the very will of God.

      Benefits Of Praying In The Spirit

      If what our elaborate definition above on what it means to pray in the spirit is correct, then what could be the benefits of yielding to the Spirit and letting Him inspire and direct your prayers.

      There is so much; praying in the spirit:

      1. Helps you to pray the will of God (the mind of God)

      2. Helps you in the prayer of intercession

      3. It helps you to pray correctly

      4. Helps you to pray with power

      5. Helps eliminates the doubts and the ‘ifs’ in prayer.

      6. Shuts the devil out of the way of your prayer

      7. Fills you with confidence that your prayers have been heard by God.

      8. Helps you to wait with certainly until you receive the physical manifestations and answer to your prayers since God has heard you.

      9. Fills you with faith and assurance that you will receive the answers no matter what and how long it takes the physical answer to come or arrive.

      10. Helps you with the divine presence of the Holy Spirit at such holy moments; you don’t want to miss out on the holy awe of the Holy Spirit that somewhat overshadows when you are lost in prayer by the Spirit.

      11. Helps to build up your faith (See Jude 1:20)

      READ ALSO: What Does The Holy Spirit Do?

      How To Practice Praying In The Spirit

      You see, there’s a lot to gain when you yield to God’s Spirit letting Him direct, inspire and influence your prayer.

      The results and answers to prayers are certain.

      Then to the discerning heart, it becomes a matter of utmost importance to then learn how to pray in the Spirit.

      All you need is practice; for ‘practice, they say, ‘makes perfect.’

      So here are simple steps on how you should practice to pray in the Spirit

      1. Yield

      Without the Holy Spirit, there’s no way you can pray in the Spirit.

      So the first thing to do to pray in the spirit is to learn to yield to the impulses of the Holy Spirit.

      For instance, may be you may have set out to pray on a particular matter, but then the Holy Spirit keeps bringing pictures of a different thing entirely to your mind as you pray, best practice is to yield to the Spirit by praying the things He’s inspiring in your mind at the moment, leaving your initial matter and plan behind.

      That’s how to yield to the Spirit. He knows what exactly you should be praying about and how to pray it correctly.

      After all, He is the spirit of grace and supplication.

      Yield to the Spirit.

      2. Listen.

      One way to practice to pray in the Spirit is by listening and paying attention to the impulses of the Spirit.

      It may be that the Holy Spirit wants you to pray ‘the word,’ a particular Scripture.

      And that Scripture is just the right bullet for that occasion.

      When you do not listen and you stick to your plan and already-made prayer points, you will miss out on praying the will of God.

      But the Holy Spirit is insistent, yet after a while, the Holy Spirit will stop nudging you on what to pray since you are not listening.

      That way, you have quenched the Spirit.  

      3. Respond

      Yielding to the Spirit and listening to Him is not complete until you obey.

      That’s to say you have got to be willing to respond to the light and impulses the Spirit is bringing to your mind as you pray.

      Response will mean praying in the direction He is leading you now.

      Response means praying the way He wants you to pray.

      Response means to pray.

      If you listen and know what the Spirit is asking of you and you still did not do it, you have not responded. 

      Praying In The Spirit

      READ ALSO: What Does Praying In The Spirit Mean?

      Praying In the Spirit vs. Praying In Tongues

      Earlier on, we stated that praying in the Spirit is more than praying in tongues.

      Yes, praying in tongues is part of praying in the spirit but it not all there is to it.

      Praying in tongues helps you to pray in the spirit well.

      It fills your prayer with more power and makes it far reaching.

      Having known the mind and the will of God by listening, praying in tongues will help you drive home the inspired prayers more effectively.

      It’s like hitting the nail at the head with the needed nail, or hitting the bulls eyes with the actual weapon.

      That’s what praying in tongues does.

      It really helps you to pray in the spirit correctly and well.

      Some Praying In The Spirit Bible Verses

      There are several bible verses on praying in the spirit but here are a few quick-referenced ones to help you drive home the point.

      1. Ephesians 6:18:

      “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

      2. Romans 8:26-27 (NIV):

      “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” 

      3. Jude 1:20:

      “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,”

      4. 1 Corinthians 14:14-15:

      “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” 

      5. Galatians 5:16-17:

      “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

      READ ALSO: How To Receive The Holy Spirit

      PS: Unless otherwise stated all scriptural quotations in this post are taken from the Authorised King James Version. And all scriptural quotations tagged NIV are taken online from the New International Version 2011published by Biblica.

      Final word

      There’s amazing power when you pray in the Spirit.

      Plus, so much is achieved when you add praying in tongues to your Spirit led, Spirit directed prayers.

      More so, there’s even more power when you add ‘praying the word’ and ‘praying in tongues’ to your Spirit inspired prayers.

      That way, you are sure that you are not praying amiss.

      And what about the assurance and confidence that fills your heart that you have touched the throne of grace.

      Answers to prayers all the way!

      And what about the holy presence that fills you at such moment of prayers, nothing compares to that atmosphere of heaven!  

       

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      What is a quick summary of each of the 66 books of the Bible?

      66 books of the Bible
      ANSWER


      Here are quick summaries of the 66 books of the Bible:

      Old Testament:

      Genesis — God creates the universe and fashions humans in His own image and places them in a perfect environment. The humans rebel against God and lose their paradise. The rebellion gets so bad that God wipes out humanity with a flood, but He graciously preserves Noah and his family. Later, God chooses and blesses the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (or Israel) and promises them a land for their many descendants. Through this family God plans to bring a Savior to reconcile the sinful world to Himself.

      Exodus — The children of Israel, now living in Egypt, are forced into slavery. God prepares an Israelite named Moses to lead the people to freedom. The king is loath to let the slaves go, so God sends a series of plagues upon the Egyptians. Moses leads the Israelites through the Red Sea, which God miraculously parts for them, and to Mt. Sinai. Camped at Sinai, the Israelites receive the Law of God, including the Ten Commandments. The Law is the basis of a covenant between God and people He has rescued, with promised blessings for obedience. The people promise to uphold the covenant.

      Leviticus — In the Law, God establishes a sacrificial system to atone for sins and a series of festivals for Israel to observe as days of worship. God gives Moses plans for a tabernacle, a tent where the sacrifices can be offered and God will meet with His people. God specifies that the rituals and ceremonies of the tabernacle are to be overseen by the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother.

      Numbers — The Israelites arrive at the border of Canaan, the land God had earlier promised to Abraham. But the people following Moses refuse to enter the land, due to their lack of faith and their fear of Canaan’s inhabitants. As a judgment, God consigns the Israelites to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, until the unbelieving generation passes away and a new generation takes their place. God sustains His rebellious people with miraculous provisions throughout their time in the wilderness.

      Deuteronomy — The new generation of Israelites is now ready to take possession of the Promised Land. Moses gives a series of final speeches, in which he reiterates the Law of God and promises that one day God will send another Prophet reminiscent of the power and mission of Moses. Moses dies in Moab.

      Joshua — Moses’ successor, Joshua, leads the children of Israel across the Jordan River (parted miraculously by God) and into Canaan. God overthrows the city of Jericho by knocking its walls down. Joshua leads the people in a successful campaign to conquer the whole of Canaan. With a few exceptions, the Israelites remain faithful to their promise to keep their covenant with God, and God blesses them with military victories. After the land is subdued, the Israelites divide Canaan into separate territories, giving each of the tribes of Israel a lasting inheritance.

      Judges — Joshua dies, and, almost immediately, the people begin to turn away from the God who had blessed them. Rather than driving out all the land’s inhabitants, they allow some of the Canaanites to survive, and the Israelites begin to worship the gods of the Canaanites. True to the terms of the covenant, God sends enemies to oppress His people. The suffering they endure causes them to repent, and God responds by sending leaders to rally the people and defeat the enemies, bringing peace to the land again. This cycle is repeated several times over a span of about 300 years.

      Ruth — During the time of the judges, a famine strikes the land, and a man of Bethlehem takes his family out of Israel to live in Moab. There, he and his two sons die. His widow, Naomi, returns to Israel along with one of her daughters-in-law, a Moabitess named Ruth. Back in Bethlehem, the two women face hardship, and Ruth gathers what food she can by gleaning in a barley field owned by a man named Boaz. Ruth is noticed by Boaz, and he gives her extra help. Since Boaz is related to Naomi’s late husband, he has the legal opportunity to redeem the family property and raise up an heir in the name of the deceased. Ruth asks Boaz to do just that, and Boaz agrees. He marries Ruth and purchases the property that had belonged to Naomi. Boaz and Ruth become the great-grandparents of Israel’s greatest king, David.

      1 Samuel — In answer to prayer, Samuel is born to a barren woman, who then dedicates her young son to the tabernacle. Samuel is raised by the judge and high priest, Eli. Early on, Samuel begins to receive messages from God and becomes known as a prophet. After Eli’s death, Samuel becomes Israel’s final judge. The people demand a king to make them more like other nations. Samuel advises against it, but the Lord directs Samuel to grant their request. Samuel anoints Saul as the first king. Saul starts out well, but he soon begins to act in pride and ignore God’s commands. God rejects Saul as king and instructs Samuel to anoint another person to take Saul’s place: that person is David, chosen while still a youth. David becomes famous in Israel for slaying the Philistine warrior Goliath, and Saul grows jealous to the point of madness. The king begins to pursue David, whose life is in constant danger as he takes refuge in the wilderness. Men loyal to David gather to him. Samuel dies, and, later, Saul and his sons are killed in a battle with the Philistines.

      2 Samuel — David is crowned king by his tribesmen in Judah, and they make the city of Hebron the capital of Judah. After a brief civil war, all the tribes of Israel unite under the leadership of David, God’s choice. The capital is moved to Jerusalem. God makes a promise to David that a son of his will rule on the throne forever. David seeks to follow God’s will, and God blesses David with victories over foreign enemies. Sadly, David falls into the sin of adultery and tries to cover his sin by having the woman’s husband killed. God pronounces judgment on David’s house, and trouble begins. David’s daughter is raped by her half-brother, who is then killed by Absalom, another of David’s sons, in revenge. Absalom then plots to overthrow David and take the throne. He gains a following, and David and those loyal to him are forced to flee Jerusalem. Absalom is eventually killed in battle, and David returns home in sorrow. Near the end of his life, David disobeys God and takes a census of the people, a sin for which God sends judgment on the nation.

      1 Kings — King David dies. His son Solomon takes the throne, but his brother Adonijah challenges him for it. After repeated attempts to usurp authority from his brother, Adonijah is executed. King Solomon is blessed by God with great wisdom, riches, and honor. He oversees the building of the temple in Jerusalem and dedicates it to the Lord in a grand ceremony. Later in life, Solomon forsakes the path of righteousness and serves other gods. After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam takes the throne, but his foolish choices lead to a civil war, and the nation is fractured in two. Rehoboam remains king of the southern kingdom, and a man named Jeroboam is crowned king of the ten tribes to the north. Both kings practice idolatry. Through the years, David’s dynasty in the southern kingdom occasionally produces a godly king; most of the kings are wicked, however. The northern kingdom is led by an unbroken series of wicked rulers, including the idolatrous Ahab and his wife Jezebel, during whose reign God sends a drought to punish Israel, along with a mighty prophet, Elijah, to point the people back to God.

      2 Kings — Elijah is translated to heaven, and Elisha takes his place as God’s prophet in Israel. Jehu becomes Israel’s king and wipes out the wicked family line of Ahab. In Judah, Ahab’s daughter becomes queen and attempts to kill all of David’s heirs, but she fails. Wicked kings rule in both nations, with the exception, in Judah, of a few reformers such as Hezekiah and Josiah. Israel’s persistent idolatry finally exhausts God’s patience, and He brings the Assyrians against them to conquer the people of Israel. Later, God brings the Babylonians against Judah as a judgment, and Jerusalem is destroyed.

      1 Chronicles — A genealogy traces God’s people from Adam to the kingdom years, with a focus on David’s family. The rest of the book covers much of the same material as 1 and 2 Samuel, with an emphasis on the life of David.

      2 Chronicles — This book covers much the same material as 1 and 2 Kings, with an emphasis on David’s dynasty in Judah. The book begins with the construction of the temple under Solomon, and it ends with the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians, with a proclamation, in the last few verses, that the temple would be rebuilt.

      Ezra — After 70 years of captivity in a foreign land, the people of Judah are allowed to return to their homeland to rebuild. A descendant of David named Zerubbabel, together with some priests, begins to rebuild the temple. Political opposition to the rebuilding forces a halt in construction for about 15 years. But then the work continues, encouraged by two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. About 57 years after the temple is completed, Ezra the scribe arrives in Jerusalem, bringing with him about 2,000 people, including priests and Levites to serve in the temple. Ezra finds that the people living in Judah have lapsed into sin, and he calls the people to repentance and a return to the law of God.

      Nehemiah — About 14 years after Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer in Persia, learns that the walls of Jerusalem are in a state of disrepair. Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem and oversees the construction of the city walls. He is opposed by enemies of the Jews, who try to thwart the work with various tactics, but the wall is finished with God’s blessings in time to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. Ezra reads the book of the law publicly, and the people of Judah rededicate themselves to following it. The book of Nehemiah begins with sadness and ends with singing and celebration.

      Esther — Some exiled Jews have opted not to return to Jerusalem and have stayed in Persia instead. Xerxes, the king of Persia, chooses as his new queen a young woman named Esther. Esther is a Jewess, but she keeps her ethnicity secret at the behest of her cousin Mordecai, who has raised her. A high-ranking official in the kingdom, a man named Haman, plots a genocide against all the Jews in the kingdom, and he receives the king’s permission to carry out his plan—neither he nor the king knowing that the queen is Jewish. Through a series of divinely directed, perfectly timed events, Haman is killed, Mordecai is honored, and the Jews are spared, with Queen Esther being instrumental in it all.

      Job — A righteous man named Job suffers a series of terrible tragedies that take away his wealth, his family, and his health. Even after losing everything, Job does not curse God. Three friends come to commiserate with Job, but they eventually speak their minds about the situation, advancing the notion that God is punishing Job for some secret sin. Job denies any sinfulness on his part, yet in his pain he cries out to God for answers—he trusts God, but he also wants God to explain Himself. In the end, God shows up and overwhelms Job with His majesty, wisdom, and power. God restores Job’s fortune, health, and family, but the answer to why Job had suffered God never answers.

      Psalms — This collection of songs includes praise to the Lord, cries of the needy, worshipful adoration, laments, thanksgiving, prophecy, and the full spectrum of human emotion. Some of the songs were written for specific occasions, such as traveling to the temple or crowning a new king.

      Proverbs — A collection of moral teachings and general observances about life, this book is directed to those in search of wisdom. Subjects include love, sex, marriage, money, work, children, anger, strife, thoughts, and words.

      Ecclesiastes — A wise older man who calls himself the Preacher philosophizes about life, looking back over what he has learned from his experiences. The Preacher, having lived apart from God, recounts the futility of various dead-end paths. Nothing in this world satisfies: riches, pleasure, knowledge, or work. Without God in the equation, all is vanity.

      Song of Solomon — A king and a humble maiden express love and devotion to each other through their courtship, leading to a joyous and affirming consummation of the marriage on the wedding night. The song continues to depict some of the difficulties faced by the bridegroom and his bride in their married life, always coming back to the yearning the lovers have for each other and the undying strength of love.

      Isaiah — Isaiah is called as a prophet in Judah and brings God’s messages to several kings. God proclaims judgment against Judah for their religious hypocrisy. The prophet then delivers messages of warning to other nations, including Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Syria, and Ethiopia. For all of God’s anger against His people in Judah, He miraculously saves Jerusalem from an attack by the Assyrians. Isaiah predicts the fall of Judah at the hands of Babylon, but he also promises a restoration to their land. Isaiah looks even farther ahead to the promised Messiah, who will be born of a virgin, be rejected by His people, and be killed in the process of bearing their iniquities—yet the Messiah, God’s righteous Servant, will also rule the world from Jerusalem in a kingdom of peace and prosperity.

      Jeremiah — Jeremiah, living during the time of the Babylonian invasion of Judah, prophesies Babylon’s victory over Judah, a message that brings him much grief from the proud kings and false prophets in Jerusalem. Continually calling God’s people to repent, Jeremiah is regularly ignored and even persecuted. Through Jeremiah, God promises that He will one day establish a new covenant with Israel. The prophet lives to see the fall of Jerusalem and predicts that the people’s captivity in Babylon will last 70 years.

      Lamentations — In a long acrostic poem, Jeremiah weeps over the destruction of the land of Judah. The reproach and shame of God’s people is overwhelming, and all seems lost. Yet God is just in His discipline, and He is merciful in not destroying the rebellious nation completely; God’s people will yet see God’s compassion.

      Ezekiel — This is a book of prophecies written in Babylon by Ezekiel, a priest-turned-prophet. Ezekiel deals with the cause of God’s judgment against Judah, which is idolatry and the dishonor Judah had brought upon God’s name. Ezekiel also writes of judgment against other nations, such as Edom, Ammon, Egypt, and Philistia, and against the city of Tyre. Ezekiel then promises a miraculous restoration of God’s people to their land, the reconstruction of the temple, and God’s rule over all the nations of the earth.

      Daniel — As a young man, Daniel is taken captive to Babylon, but he and three friends remain steadfast to the Lord’s commands, and God blesses them with honor and high rank in the Babylonian Empire. They have enemies, though: Daniel’s three friends are thrown into a fiery furnace, and Daniel into a den of lions, but God preserves their lives in each case and bestows even more honor upon them. Daniel survives the overthrow of Babylon and continues prophesying into the time of the Persian Empire. Daniel’s prophecies are far-reaching, accurately predicting the rise and fall of many nations and the coming rule of God’s chosen king, the Messiah.

      Hosea — Hosea’s mission is to call Israel to repentance, as God is poised to judge them for their corruption and idolatry. At God’s command, Hosea marries a wife who is unfaithful to him, and then he must redeem her from prostitution. This sordid experience is an illustration of Israel’s spiritual adultery and the fact that a loving God is still pursuing them to redeem them and restore them to their proper place.

      Joel — Joel ministers in Judah during a time of drought and a locust plague, events that are signs of God’s judgment on the nation. Joel uses the current judgment to point the people to the future, worldwide judgment of the Day of the Lord, and he calls on everyone to repent. Joel’s final promise is that the Lord will dwell with His people in Zion and bring great blessing to the restored land.

      Amos — Amos begins with pronouncing judgment against Damascus, Tyre, Edom, and Gaza, among other places. The prophet travels north from Judah to Israel to warn that nation of God’s judgment. He lists their sins and extends God’s invitation to repent and be forgiven. After the destruction of Israel, God promises, there will be a time of restoration.

      Obadiah — From their seemingly secure, rock-bound homes, the Edomites had rejoiced at Judah’s fall, but Obadiah brings God’s sobering message: Edom, too, will be conquered, and that without remedy. God’s people will be the ultimate victors.

      Jonah — Jonah, a prophet in Israel, is instructed by God to go to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh to prophesy against it. Jonah disobeys, attempting to travel away from Nineveh, but God intercepts him at sea. Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. In the belly of the fish, Jonah repents, and the fish spits him back on dry ground. When Jonah prophesies in Nineveh, the Assyrians humble themselves before God and repent, and God does not bring judgment upon them. Jonah is angry that God has forgiven the people he hates, and God reasons with his obstinate prophet.

      Micah — In a series of three messages, Micah calls on both Judah and Israel to hear the word of God. He prophesies of coming judgment on both kingdoms and foresees the blessed kingdom of God, ruled by a king who would be born in Bethlehem. Micah ends his book with a promise that God’s anger will turn and that God’s people will be restored.

      Nahum — Nahum’s prophecy concerns the destruction of Nineveh. Nahum gives the reasons for it and promises God’s judgment on this nation that had once terrorized the rest of the world. Unlike God’s judgment against Israel, the judgment against Nineveh will have no respite, and the destruction will not be followed by restoration.

      Habakkuk — The prophet questions God about something he cannot understand: namely, how God can use the wicked Babylonians to punish God’s own people, Judah. The Lord answers by reminding Habakkuk of His sovereignty and faithfulness and that, in this world, the just will live by faith.

      Zephaniah — Zephaniah warns of the coming Day of the Lord, a prophecy fulfilled, in part, by the invasion of Babylon and, more remotely, at the end of time. Other nations besides Judah are also warned of coming judgment, including Philistia, Moab, Cush, and Assyria. Jerusalem is called to repent, and the book ends with a promise from God to restore His people to favor and glory.

      Haggai — Haggai lives and preaches during the time of Zerubbabel and Zechariah. The reconstruction of the temple had begun, but opposition from the Jews’ enemies has halted the work for about 15 years. Haggai preaches a series of four sermons to spur the people back to work so that the temple can be completed.

      Zechariah — A contemporary of Haggai and Zerubbabel, Zechariah encourages the people of Jerusalem to finish the reconstruction of the temple, a work that has languished for about 15 years. Eight visions relate God’s continuing plan for His people. Judgment on Israel’s enemies is promised, along with God’s blessings on His chosen people. Several messianic prophecies are included, predicting the Messiah’s coming, His suffering, and His eventual conquering glory.

      Malachi — Ministering to post-exilic Israel, Malachi calls God’s people to repentance. The prophet condemns the sins of divorce, bringing impure sacrifices, withholding tithes, and profaning God’s name. The book, and the Old Testament, ends with a description of the Day of the Lord and the promise that Elijah will come before that dreadful day.

      New Testament:

      Matthew — The ministry of Jesus Christ is presented from the point of view that Jesus is the Son of David and thus the rightful king to rule from Israel’s throne. Jesus offers the kingdom to His people, but Israel rejects Him as their king and crucifies Him. Jesus rises again and sends His disciples into all the world to proclaim His teaching.

      Mark — The ministry of Jesus Christ is presented from the point of view that Jesus is the Righteous Servant of God. Jesus obeys the Father’s will and accomplishes all He had been sent to do, including dying for sinners and rising again from the dead.

      Luke — The ministry of Jesus Christ is presented from the point of view that Jesus is the Son of Man who came to save the whole world. Jesus shows the love of God to all classes of people, regardless of race or gender. He is unjustly betrayed, arrested, and murdered, but He rises again.

      John — The ministry of Jesus Christ is presented from the point of view that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus speaks at length of His nature and work and the necessity of faith, and He proves that He is the Son of God through a series of public miracles. He is crucified and rises again.

      Acts — This sequel to the life of Christ follows the ministry of the apostles following Jesus’ ascension. The Holy Spirit arrives to fill and empower Jesus’ followers, who begin to preach the gospel in the midst of mounting persecution. Paul, a former enemy of the Christians, is converted and called by Christ as an apostle. The church begins in Jerusalem, expands to Samaria, and spreads to the Roman world.

      Romans — This theological treatise, written by Paul on one of his missionary journeys, examines the righteousness of God and how God can declare guilty sinners to be righteous based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Having been justified by faith, believers live in holiness before the world.

      1 Corinthians — The church in Corinth is riddled with problems, and the apostle Paul writes to give them God’s instructions on how to deal with various issues, including sin and division in the church, marriage, idolatry, spiritual gifts, the future resurrection, and the conduct of public worship.

      2 Corinthians — The problems in the church in Corinth have for the most part been worked through, and Paul writes this letter to encourage them, to explain the love gift he is collecting for Judean Christians, and to defend his apostleship against critics who are speaking out against him.

      Galatians — False teachers have infiltrated the churches in Galatia, falsely suggesting that works of the law (specifically circumcision) must be added to faith in Christ in order for salvation to be real. In no uncertain terms, Paul condemns the mixture of law and grace, showing that salvation and sanctification are all of grace. Christ’s salvation has set us free. We rely on the Spirit’s work, not our own.

      Ephesians — Salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ, and not by our own works. The life Jesus gives, to Jew and Gentile alike, results in a new heart and a new walk in this world. The church is the Body of Christ, and marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. God has provided spiritual armor to wage spiritual battle.

      Philippians — Writing this letter from a Roman prison, Paul thanks the church in Philippi for the love gift they had sent him. The gospel of Christ is advancing in the world, despite hardship, and Christians can rejoice in that. We are urged to humble ourselves as Christ did, be unified, and press toward the goal of pleasing the Lord in all things.

      Colossians — Despite what false teachers might claim, Jesus Christ is the Savior, Lord, and Creator of all things. In Him, all believers are made alive and complete; they need not submit themselves to manmade regulations or the mandates of the Old Testament law. The new life we have in Christ will affect our relationships with spouses, parents, children, masters, and servants.

      1 Thessalonians — Paul reviews the start of the church in Thessalonica, and he commends them for their steadfast faith. Believers are encouraged to live pure lives and to maintain the hope that Jesus will return. When Christ comes again, He will resurrect believers who have died and will rapture those still living to be with Him forever. The Day of the Lord is coming, which will result in the judgment of this world.

      2 Thessalonians — The church of Thessalonica is enduring persecution, and some believers wonder if the Day of the Lord had already arrived. Paul assures them that what they are experiencing is not God’s judgment. Before that terrible day comes, there must be a worldwide rebellion, a removal of the Restrainer, and the rise to power of the man of lawlessness. But God will protect His children. Until the time that Christ returns, keep doing what is right.

      1 Timothy — Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus, is the recipient of this letter from Paul. A pastor must be qualified spiritually, be on guard against false doctrine, pray, care for those in the church, train other leaders, and above all faithfully preach the truth.

      2 Timothy — In this very personal letter at the end of his life, Paul encourages Timothy to hold fast to the faith, focus on what is truly important, persevere in dangerous times, and preach the Word of God.

      Titus — Titus, an overseer of churches on the island of Crete, has the job of appointing elders in the churches there, making sure the men are qualified spiritually. He must beware of false teachers, avoid distractions, model the Christian life, and enjoin all believers to practice good works.

      Philemon — In this short letter to Philemon, a believer in Colossae, the apostle Paul urges him to show the love of Christ and be reconciled to a runaway, thieving slave. Under Roman law, the slave could face severe punishment, but Paul urges grace for the sake of Christ. Philemon should welcome his slave back into the household, not as a slave now but as a beloved brother in Christ.

      Hebrews — There are Jewish members of the church who are tempted to return to the Jewish law. The author of this epistle urges them not to look back but to move on to full spiritual maturity, by faith. Jesus Christ is better than angels and better than Moses, and He has provided a better sacrifice, a better priesthood, and a better covenant than anything in the Old Testament. Having left Egypt, we must enter the Promised Land, not continue to wander aimlessly in the wilderness.

      James — In this very practical book, James shows what faith lived out looks like. True, saving faith will affect our prayer life, our words, our response to trials, and our treatment of others.

      1 Peter — The apostle Peter writes to believers under persecution in Asia Minor, addressing them as “God’s elect, exiles scattered” (1 Peter 1:1). He reminds them of the grace of God, assures them of their heavenly home, teaches them to exhibit holiness, instructs them on marital relations, and encourages them as they face suffering.

      2 Peter — With his death impending, Peter writes the churches, exhorting them to follow the Word of God, identify and avoid false teachers, and live in holiness as they await the second coming of Christ.

      1 John — God is light, love, and truth. Those who truly belong to Christ will seek fellowship with His redeemed; walk in the light, not in darkness; confess sin; obey God’s Word; love God; experience a decreasing pattern of sin in their lives; demonstrate love for other Christians; and experience victory in their Christian walk.

      2 John — The Christian life is a balance of truth and love. We cannot forsake truth in the name of love; neither can we cease loving because of a misdirected notion of upholding the truth.

      3 John — Two men are contrasted: Gaius, who shows his commitment to truth and love through hospitality; and Diotrephes, who shows his malice and pride through a lack of hospitality.

      Jude — The message of the gospel will not change. But there are men who attempt to pervert the message and teach false doctrines to benefit themselves and lead people astray. These men must be resisted in the truth.

      Revelation — Jesus is the Lord of the church, and He knows the condition of each local body of believers. The end times will be marked by an increase in wickedness, the rise of the Antichrist’s one-world government, and the fury of Satan against God’s people on earth. God pours out His wrath on a rebellious and unrepentant world in a series of judgments that steadily increase in severity. Finally, the Lamb of God returns to earth with the armies of heaven, defeating the forces of evil arrayed against Him and setting up His kingdom of peace. Satan, the Antichrist, and the wicked of every age are thrown into the lake of fire, while the followers of Christ inherit a new heaven and new earth.
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      Top 10 Social Issues Teens Struggle With Today

       Technology Has Changed or Amplified the Struggles Young People Face

      The prevalence of digital communication has changed the way teens interact with their peers and romantic interests.1 Because of this, many teens lack essential interpersonal communication skills like knowing how to pick up on social cues. Much of this dysfunction can be linked to the overuse of technology.2

      Teens' social media and texting habits as well as how they consume media is changing the way they communicate, date, learn, sleep, exercise, and more. In fact, the average teen spends over nine hours each day using their electronic devices.3

      Here are the top 10 social problems teens struggle with every day.

       

      Depression

      According to The National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3.2 million adolescents in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. That means about 13% of teenagers may experience depression before reaching adulthood.4

      An analysis by the Pew Research Center reported that depression rates grew among adolescents, especially in girls, over the previous decade when about 8% of teens reported being depressed in 2007.5 Some researchers blame technology for the rise in mental health problems.

      Spending too much time on electronic devices may be preventing young people from in-person activities with their peers such as sports, which can help ward off depression.6 They also experience new conditions like "fear of missing out" or FOMO, which further leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

      Depressive disorders are treatable, but it's important to seek professional help. If your teen seems withdrawn, experiences a change in his sleep patterns, or starts to perform badly in school, schedule an appointment with your teen's physician or contact a mental health professional. Do not delay getting help for your teen if you notice these symptoms.

       
       

      Bullying

      According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 20% of teens in the U.S. experienced bullying in 2017.7 One explanation the research has cited for this is the rise of social media use by teens, which has made bullying much more public and more pervasive. In fact, cyberbullying has replaced bullying as the common type of harassment that teens experience.8

      Talk to your teen about bullying regularly. Discuss what they can do when they witnesses bullying and talk about options if they become a target themselves. Being proactive is key to helping your child deal with a bully.

      It's also important to talk to your child about when and how to get help from an adult. Remind them that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead a show of courage. Talking about how someone has humiliated them is never an easy topic.

       
       

      Sexual Activity

      Based on the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance data, 39.5% of high school students reported being sexually active. That means sexual activity had declined slightly over the past decade.9

      Fortunately, the teen birth rate has declined over the past decade as well. Births to teens ages 15 to 19 accounted for 5.0% of all births in 2017.10 The decline in pregnancy doesn't necessarily mean teens are using protection, however.

      Of the 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases each year, more than half were among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.11

      Parents may not be aware that their children are sexually active, however. Talk to your teen about sex, even if you don't think your child is engaging in sexual activity.

       
       

      Drug Use

      In 2017, about 6% of seniors in high school reported using marijuana daily. Marijuana use exceeds cigarette use is in teens now.12 In fact, many teens believe marijuana is less harmful now than in years past. This new perception may be due to the changing laws surrounding marijuana.

      Meanwhile, other illicit drug use has held steadily at the lowest levels according to the Monitoring the Future Survey published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Teen use of illicit drugs in 2017 was the lowest since the study began in 1975.13

      Make sure you have regular conversations with your teen about the dangers of drugs. And don't forget to mention the dangers of prescription drugs, too. Many teens do not recognize the dangers of taking a friend's prescription or popping a few pills that are not prescribed to them.

      Unfortunately, teens often underestimate how easy it is to develop an addiction. And they don't understand the risks associated with overdosing. Be sure you are talking about these risks on a consistent basis.

       

      Alcohol Use

      As of 2017, alcohol use and binge drinking showed a significant decline among teenagers. Despite the decline, 29.3% of high school seniors still report drinking alcohol within the past month.12

      Talk to teens about the risks of underage drinking. Educate them about the dangers, including the fact that alcohol can take a serious toll on a teenager's developing brain.14 Also, do not shy away from expressing your disapproval of underage drinking. Saying you don't approve can make a big difference in whether your teen decides to drink.

       

      Obesity

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20% of 12- to 19-year-olds are obese, with Hispanic and Black children more likely to be overweight or obese.15 

      Aside from the fact that overweight children are often targeted by bullies, obese kids also are at a much greater risk of lifelong health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.16 They also may struggle with body image issues or develop eating disorders as an unhealthy way of changing their appearance. But parents are not always aware of these issues.

      In fact, surveys show parents are bad at recognizing when their kids are overweight.17 They tend to underestimate their child's size and the risks associated with being overweight.

      Talk to your child's pediatrician about the weight and body mass are appropriate for your teen's height and age and inquire about the steps you can take to ensure your teen is healthy. Then, if your doctor does recommend a healthier eating plan or exercise, find ways to support and empower your teen.

       

      Academic Problems

      About 5% of high school students drop out of high school each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.18 A high school dropout is likely to earn $200,000 less over his lifetime when compared to a high school graduate, which can have a significant impact on a young person's future.

      But, it's no longer just the "troubled teens" who are dropping out of school. Some teens feel so much pressure to get into a good college that they're burning themselves out before they graduate from high school.19 Stay involved in your teen's education. Provide support and guidance and be ready to assist your teen if he encounters problems.

       

      Peer Pressure

      While peer pressure isn't a new issue, social media brings it to a whole new level. Sexting, for example, is a major cause for concern as many teens do not understand the lifelong consequences that sharing explicit photos can have on their lives. But sharing inappropriate photos is not the only thing kids are being pressured into doing.

      More and more kids are being pressured into having sex, doing drugs, and even bullying other kids.20 To keep your kids from falling victim to peer pressure, give them skills to make healthy choices, and to resist peer pressure. Also, talk to teens about what to do if they make a mistake.

      Sometimes, kids can make poor choices and may be too afraid to seek help. Make sure your kids are not afraid to come to you when they make a mistake. Demonstrate that you can listen without judging or overreacting and instead find healthy ways for them to make amends and move on.

       

      Social Media

      FacebookInstagram, and Twitter can be great ways for teens to connect with one another; but social media can be problematic for several reasons. For instance, social media can expose your teen to cyberbullyingslut-shaming, and so much more.21 And, while there are some benefits to social media, there are a lot of risks as well.

      Social media can have a negative impact on friendships and is changing the way teens date. It can even impact their mental health.22 But, no matter what precautions you take, teens are still likely to be exposed to unsavory people, unhealthy images, and sexual content online.

      While there are measures being put into place to reduce the risks kids face online, it's important for parents to get involved. 

      Help your teen learn how to navigate social media in a healthy way. Talk about ways to stay safe online. And most importantly, know what your teen is doing online. Educate yourself about the latest apps, websites, and social media pages teens are using and take steps to keep your teen safe. You may even want to take steps to limit your teen's screen time.

       

      On-Screen Violence

      Teenagers are going to witness some violent media at one time or another. And it's not just TV, music, and movies that depict violence. Many of today's violent video games portray gory scenes and disturbing acts of aggression.

      Over the past couple of decades, studies have linked watching violence to a lack of empathy and even aggressive behavior.23 And other studies have shown the number one factor in determining how kids relate to media is how their parents think and act.24

      According to Common Sense Media, the more violence that parents watch, the more likely they are to think it's OK for their kids to view.25 Pay attention to your teen's media use. Don't allow teens to watch R-rated movies or to play M-rated video games. It's not healthy for them to consume that material in excess and unsupervised. 

      Also, talk to your teen about the dangers of being exposed to violent images and monitor your teen's mental state. It's also important to talk about sexual situations and racial stereotypes that your teen might see.

      Teens need to learn how to identify what is good and what is bad about the media. It helps them become a healthier consumer when they can think objectively about what they are seeing online, in the movie theater, or in a video game.

      How to Talk to Your Teen

      Bringing up any difficult subjects with your teen can feel uncomfortable. And your teen isn't likely to respond well to a lengthy lecture or too many direct questions. But having a conversation with your teen about difficult issues is not something you should shy away from.

      Even when it seems like they are not listening, you are the most influential person in your teen's life. It is important to lay a strong foundation before the window of opportunity closes.

      A good way to strike up a conversation about drugs, sex, juuling, or other uncomfortable situations is to ask a question like, "Do you think this is a big issue at your school?"

      Listen to what your teen has to say. Try not to be judgmental, but make your expectations and opinions clear. It is important that your teen understands that you don't condone certain behaviors and that they know the consequences of breaking your rules

        

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