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Does God really care about our social media numbers or how many "likes" we accumulate? The Bible states in Matthew 10:30 that God sees the number of hairs on our head and values us. And, in Chronicles 16:9, it says that God's eyes search the world looking for those who completely belong to Him.

Second Kings 5:2-4 reveals a story about a nobody, a young girl who changed the world of a powerful man. And what is even more significant is that she did it with just a few words. Her courageous spirit and knowledge of who God was allowed her to speak up when others failed to do so.

This no-name girl had been taken from her family who may have all been killed in the rages of war or perhaps had to abandon her. The fear and uncertainty she must have dealt with at such an early age reminds me of the many stories we read about of the plight of immigrants who have been enslaved due to war and economic hardships. What were her thoughts when she was captured and enslaved? How did she have such faith?

She knew Him and He knew her. She mattered. God used her humble heart to bring compassion and put her in position to heal Naaman. She could have even withheld her knowledge of God and His power to herself, but chose instead to care for those who had imprisoned her. She took her hopeless position and saw it from God's perspective.

This is such a great lesson for women who have been marginalized and enslaved in unjust circumstances or been put in prison today. It is an example of how women who would identify with the #MeToo and #WeToo movements could find a place of hope. It's a story of a woman who courageously stood in a chaotic situation to find her unique purpose. Just the few caring words she spoke changed the course of history and were recorded in the Bible forever.

Are you willing to stay faithful and stand in the knowledge of who God is and what He can do with no-name people? The world may keep count on social media, but God keeps count of our obedience and faithfulness. God is looking to see if we will be there, willing to walk through earthly suffering and uncertainty so His will might be accomplished. We matter to Him, and we can change the world.

We may sometimes think we're a nobody, but God has a different opinion. {eoa}

Kathleen Cooke's devotional Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture encourages readers to engage with God. As co-founder of Cooke Media Group (cookemediagroup.com) and The Influence Lab, she publishes a bi-monthly journal (influencelab.com/women). Find out more at kathleencooke.com or on Twitter @KathleenRCooke

This article originally appeared at kathleencooke.com.

For more on times when you feel you don't matter, listen to the podcast included with this article.

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As a victim of sexual abuse in her childhood by a music minister's son, Wendy Baisley Roche swore she would never walk into a church again. And for nearly two decades, she didn't.

But when she discovered many years after her own abuse that her second husband had raped her daughter on a continual basis, she realized only one solution for her life that had become a chaotic mess: Jesus.

Not really believing that He could rescue her from her brokenness, Baisley-Roche says she "screamed out to God from the top of her lungs." It took a while for God to convince her she was worthy to be loved by Him, but eventually Baisley-Roche began to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and the healing process began.

And now as a speaker and author, Bailey-Roche is helping other women to recover from similar circumstances through her own story.

"I was so insecure and such as broken woman, always trying to put on a façade that everything was good," Baisley-Roche says. "But then, with one call where I discovered a horrible truth about my daughter, my world just came crashing down.

"But my story is not just about the horrific events that happened that took everything in my world down. It's a story of what God can do in the midst of everything being swept away. God can rebuild, and He can rebuild bigger and better than we can ever imagine. Women can relate to my story because many have lost something, and some have lost everything along the way. But my story reveals how God can come in and heal your heart, no matter what your circumstance."

For the rest of Wendy Baisley-Roche's story, listen to the podcast below.

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I have great news for you today: God has given you an amazing, supernatural, empowering, life-altering gift that you don't want to live another moment without. This powerful gift is a game-changer on every level. What is it, you ask? It's praying in tongues!

I get so excited when talking about praying in tongues! It changed my life and it can change yours too—for the better. I want you to know about this wonderful gift of power from God and get excited about it. You do not want to go another day without these supernatural benefits. Here are six ways that praying in tongues can benefit you:

  • Equips you with power. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was risen from the tomb, the main thing He wanted them to know about was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He said, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).That same power is available to all believers today! If there's anything you and I need in these last days, it's God's power, equipping us for every challenge.
  • Reveals things to you. The Holy Spirit's main ministry to us as believers is revelation, revealing God's will to us. Paul said, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9-10). We can know what God has prepared for us by praying in the Spirit.
  • Charges you up. Jude 20 say we can "build ourselves up" by praying in the Spirit, and 1 Corinthians 14:4a says, "He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself." It's like recharging your cell phone when it runs out of juice. We all know what it feels like to run out of juice. We get tired and run down, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Thank God we can recharge and tap into all of His power, strength, peace, joy and rest by praying in other tongues.
  • Gives you a hotline to God. When you pray in tongues, no one understands it except God. You're talking right to Him; nothing is intercepting or scrambling the conversation. First Corinthians 14:2 says, "For he who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men, but to God. For no one understands him, although in the spirit, he speaks mysteries." The future is a mystery to us, right? But when you pray in tongues, you're talking right to God, and He knows the future. When we pray in tongues, we're praying out the future, so that by the time we get there, many things have already been set up for us.
  • Helps you pray when you're stumped. Romans 8:26a says, "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us." Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't know what to pray? You and I have limited knowledge about what's going on all around us, in the spirit realm or in the future. But the Holy Spirit has all knowledge about it. When we pray in the Spirit, we're letting Him pray for the perfect outcome of any situation.
  • Makes you bold. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." I used to be less than bold when it came to witnessing; I did not have the power to be a witness, neither in Jerusalem nor in all Judea and Samaria—or even in my neighborhood grocery store! But since I've fostered a habit of praying in the tongues, it's taken the "chicken" out of me, and I've gotten much bolder. The compassion of Jesus rises up in me, and I no longer care what anyone of thinks. I'm able to be a bold witness for Him. You can too! {eoa}

Karen Jensen Salisbury has been in ministry over 30 years. Formerly a lead pastor, then an instructor at Rhema Bible College, she is currently an itinerant minister and author of several books. Connect with her on her website, karenjensen.org, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

This article originally appeared at karenjensen.org.

For more about the gift of tongues, listen to the podcasts included with this article.

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Death hurts. A lot! The testimony of Scripture and of Christians during the last 2000+ years is that believing in Jesus does not eliminate grief. Death is an enemy.

Whether it's the death of a loved one or some other serious loss, the Bible has a lot to say about death and grief.

This week my new book, The Christian's Journey Through Grief, is officially released. I'd like to share some Scriptures for the journey through grief, and a few brief thoughts that are woven throughout this book. I think you'll find them encouraging and helpful if you're wrestling with loss and grief right now.

1. "But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13).

Grief may be especially painful for the believer. God's love has softened our hearts to the point that we care and love more, so the pain of death is especially excruciating. Deep grief is the price of great love.

Yes, we grieve. But we grieve differently.

As Christians, we experience excruciating pain and irrepressible hope at the same time.

It's OK to hurt. And it's OK to hope.

2. "Like a father who shows compassion to his children, so the Lord gives compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust" (Ps. 103:14-14).

God sees you with compassion as you are grieving. Jesus understands your human limitations.

Give yourself the kind of grace God extends to you as you journey through grief. You are a human being, with physical, emotional and mental limitations.

When others are busy or preoccupied, He's always available. When it seems you're all alone in your grief, remember that He is there, whether or not you can see and feel Him.

3. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was in every sense tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:15-16).

Jesus is not simply up in heaven doing other important business in the universe; you are His business. And through His Holy Spirit, He is right there with you this very minute.

You may not always feel Him with you. Grief can cloud your ability to sense His presence, just as the clouds obscure the sun. But He is still there.

In your darkest moments, simply pause and invite Him to be with you right then.

4. "When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. ... When Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died'" (John 11:20-21, 32).

The death of a loved one usually brings up questions about God, faith, life, death, heaven, hell, eternity and more. Whatever your previous relationship with God, walking through grief may challenge aspects of your faith.

In 21st-century English, Mary and Martha were asking Jesus why?

Asking why doesn't mean you've lost your faith. Bring your questions to God. You won't make Him mad at you. Doing so can often lead to an even deeper relationship with Him going forward.

5. "So then, as the children share in flesh and blood, He likewise took part in these, so that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were throughout their lives subject to bondage. For surely He does not help the angels, but He helps the seed of Abraham" (Heb. 2:14-16).

After the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote, "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" (A Grief Observed).

Human beings naturally fear death. That's part of the power the enemy attempts to wield over us. And grief itself often brings fear.

Remember that Jesus voluntarily entered the open jaws of death, walked up to the keeper of the prison house of the grave and wrested the keys of death from his hands. And then He walked out of His own grave, leading a train of freed captives behind Him.

Yes, friend, death is a defeated foe. While your feelings of fear are understandable, you don't have to remain bound by that fear.

6. "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. Instead, I say that we are confident and willing to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:6-8).

For the one who believes in Jesus, this is a very precious truth. The essence of your loved one, the real him or her, is safe in the presence of the Lord.

Because death is the entrance into eternity, we should not be surprised that we cannot understand everything about this. But we can accept that one day it will all be clear.

And until then, you can be certain that your loved one is safe in His hands.

7. "But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor to me. Yet I do not know what I shall choose. I am in a difficult position between the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake. Having this confidence, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your joyful advancement of the faith" (Phil. 1:22-25).

Paul preferred to go home and be "with the Lord." But as long as God needed Him for a purpose on earth, he was content to stay.

In your pain, you too may feel you would rather go home to be "with the Lord." But if you're still breathing, God has something here for you to do, even if you cannot see it right now.

Make the decision that you'll stick around as long as God has something for you to do, and trust that He'll make that clear to you.

8. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us (Rom. 8:18). " Our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17).

Often, especially during grief, it feels as though our troubles are anything but "light" or "momentary."

If this life were as good as it gets, we would be right to give up. But this is not the end. There is something beyond what we can see and experience right now.

And for those of us who are walking with Jesus, what is to come will be glorious. So glorious that we will consider our present pain to be so small in comparison that it won't be worth mentioning.

For that to be so, that glory will have to be pretty awesome!

9. "For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and 'He will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes'" (Rev. 7:17). "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.' Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Imagine the scene. You are standing in the new Jerusalem with others who have also believed in Jesus. Then comes this wonderful moment; God Himself makes His way toward you, puts His arm around you and with His heavenly golden handkerchief wipes your tears away with a touch so gentle and healing that you will never need to cry again.

And the sense of this is that not only will He wipe the tears from your eyes, but He will wipe them from your heart as well.

Don't quit now. Don't give up short of being able to experience that moment. Your tears will be wiped away!

10. "When this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then the saying that is written shall come to pass: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?'" (1 Cor. 15:54-55).

Knowing Jesus makes a difference here and now.

And yet this life, even with Jesus, is not enough. God has somehow encoded eternity in our hearts. And Jesus' resurrection assures us of that.

This grief journey is temporary. Your tears and pain, your loved one's resting place, your grief—it will all be over one day. Death will die!

Keep looking forward to the day when death will be swallowed up in victory.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For more about grief from Dr. Carol, listen to the podcast included with this article.

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

This article originally appeared at drcarolministries.org.

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Sometimes, believers reach a point in their lives where a paradigm shift must occur if they want to move forward, Pastor Mia Wright says. They must either take the initiative to make changes or continue to wallow in misery.

That's what happened in the biblical story of the woman with the issue of blood. After 12 years of suffering, she decided to touch the hem of Jesus' garment and be made well. She told herself, and the enemy, "Enough is enough."

This story inspired Wright, co-pastor with her husband of Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, to help shatter the ideals of her traditional upbringing where women had little to no voice in the church.

"We just have to get to the place in our lives that we say, 'I want something different, something I've never experienced before,'" Wright told Dr. Steve Greene on a recent episode of "Greenelines" on the Charisma Podcast Network. "All our lives we're trained to believe one thing, even if it's not what God wants for us.

"What do you believe? What do you believe God can do in your life? I want to trust God for something that He has told me about. Maybe it's a promise years ago that I haven't realized. We have to challenge what we think about those things so we can do it and see God's hand when we do it. When God begins to reveal his truth to us, we have to begin to open up our mindset to understand it and embrace it."

For more on how to make a radical paradigm shift in your life, listen to the podcast below.

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We've all been there. Those intense moments when we've poured our hearts out to God and heaven seems ... well, silent!

We know God promises to answer prayer, and there are many verses throughout Scripture inviting us to bring our requests before Him. But when the answers don't come quite as quickly as we expect, it's easy to allow doubt to creep into our thinking. How do we hang in there and allow the waiting to strengthen our faith rather than diminish it? One practice that is effective in helping us wait is clinging to truths promised in Scripture.

Here are three that I have found particularly helpful when I'm waiting for God to answer my prayer:

God bends down to listen.

"I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!"
(Ps. 116:1-2, NLT).

The psalmist reassures us that God bends down to listen to His children. I love this image of God because it reminds me of when I was the parent of four young kids. Sometimes I needed to bend down to really listen, look in their eyes and hear their hearts. This promise assures us that even though we don't see the answer yet, God is a gentle, loving parent who tenderly bends down to listen.

Jesus is praying for you while you pray.

"Therefore Jesus is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf" (Heb. 7:25, NLT).

It is incredibly comforting to know that while we are pouring out our hearts for a loved one, Jesus is pouring out His heart on our behalf. Not only that, but He loves our loved ones more than we do—so He is pouring out His heart on their behalf as well. When I am battling on my knees for one of my kids or grandkids, I love the reassurance that Jesus is fighting for them as well. What an amazing high priest we have!

Our perseverance pays off.

"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up" (Gal. 6:9).

You may be bone-weary from pouring out your heart to God, but His Word promises that at the right time, God will answer. As you faithfully persist, He will faithfully sustain you. I believe His Spirit often works in our hearts most powerfully when we are in seasons of waiting.

Friend, take heart. The prayers you've been lifting have not gone unheard.

God bends down to listen as a tender Father, Jesus intercedes with and for you, and the Holy Spirit strengthens your heart as you persevere. You've got the dream team on your side, so hang in there and keep praying! You'll see a harvest if you don't quit. {eoa}

Becky Harling, an author, certified speaker, leadership coach and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, is an energetic and motivational international speaker inspiring audiences to overcome their greatest life challenges and reach their full God-given potential. Her most recent book is How to Listen So People Will Talk. Her husband, Steve Harling, is the president of Reach Beyond, a nonprofit organization seeking to be the voice and hands of Jesus around the world. Connect with Becky at beckyharling.com, Facebook or Twitter.

This article originally appeared at beckyharling.com.

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To say keeping your weight at a level that is normal, or what feels normal, is a struggle is an understatement. The struggle is real, but so is the victory over that issue!

The struggle is real, but you are not alone. There are various statistics floating around about how many women are on a diet at any one given moment. The lowest I've seen is 50% of all women, and the highest, 91%.

Solutions?

Various organizations and associations say the obesity industry, which includes commercial weight-loss programs, weight-loss drug manufacturers and bariatric surgery centers, is over $315 billion, or 3% of the American economy.

The big problem is that none of these is a permanent solution to the problem. This is due to another interesting statistic that says 95% of diets fail, and most people will regain their lost weight in one to five years or sooner. I wholeheartedly concur with this as it was always my issue as well.

Although I haven't seen any statistics for regaining the weight after gastric bypass, I know that may be an even greater stat than dieting. Gastric bypass works to initially get the weight off. After that, doctors hope that patients will have learned how to keep it off. Almost all regain the weight because they think this procedure is all they need so they have not dealt with the core issues of their food addiction.

Temptation

Food addiction is insidious in that what you are addicted to is advertised on television, radio, internet and social media. I'm one who unfollows those who show tempting desserts as I scroll my Facebook feed. I'm not mad at those people. I still like them. I just can't be inundated with pictures of tasty and tempting treats. Pictures and smells of those kinds of foods moves me—and you—to salivate. This begins the process of the body getting ready to eat that food, which then tells your brain to expect that food.

When you don't indulge, you crave whatever it is, and in the next few hours, you may begin to make preparations to eat that or something similar. I have found I have to guard against that temptation by eliminating it because I dislike the feeling it sets up in me.

This feeling of struggle is real, and if all you are doing is barricading yourself against what is everywhere around you, you will be much more likely to fail.

So what do you do? Of course, I don't bring those things into my home, and when I go places where I know I will be tempted, I preplan by bringing something I can eat. But what can you do to get over the craving and giving into temptation?

Losing Weight Is Spiritual

To begin with, this is much more of a spiritual issue than it is a physical issue. If you don't get your priorities right, no matter what you do, you will never make it through changing your behaviors. After dealing with the spiritual, it's a mental and emotional issue. Only after that does it become how you manage your addiction physically. See, you first have to want this journey at the very core of who you are.

First and foremost, you must guard your heart. "So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life" (Prov.4:23, TPT).

Your heart has been said to be the seat of your emotions, but it is also what guides you. Who or what is on the throne of your heart? Taking an honest inventory of what you constantly want and desire if the first step in understanding what is the most important to you.

Jesus told us that our hearts will always "pursue what you value as your treasure" (Matt. 6:21, TPT).

What Do You Treasure?

You may not think you are valuing certain foods as treasure, but just try giving up sugar or bread or even cutting back on them. It will begin to show you how highly you value your comfort foods and believe they, and they alone, will save you from yourself.

When we try to give up certain foods or even cut down on them, that's when the rebellion starts welling up inside and you say, "No. I will not give that up. Maybe I'll just go on another diet. That will fix the issue." It may for a little awhile, then you find yourself right back where you were.

It doesn't really matter what you treasure, if it's not God, then, "Houston. You've got a problem." When you know God has given you boundaries with food for your good and not your disaster, you need to say, "Thank You, Father." Then, follow what He has shown you to do. This is not another diet. It is a total lifestyle change plan, and it will touch every part of your life, not just what you eat.

Doughnuts on the Throne

When you refuse to follow God in this you have just placed that doughnut, piece of cake or bowl of ice cream on the throne of your heart and kicked Jesus off. Got that mental picture? I hope it makes you sad. I hope it makes you want to repent and enthrone Him again, but for real this time!

The truth is, God does not give you boundaries to punish you, but to strengthen your body with good, nourishing food to make you better, not worse. He gives you boundaries so you learn how to follow Him in everything you do. Those are lessons you need to learn in order to step into God's destiny for you.

Fighting for the Real Me

It really boils down to the fact that in the struggle to have your way and eat whatever you want, you have lost touch with the person God called you to be, who the real you is. Barbara, a member of the Journey to Transformation course, expressed this well in her poem entitled "Fighting for the Real Me."

She said, "To trust Him and make Him the Lord of each bite/ with grateful heart, I rely on His might. It's a fight for the real me and the beauty concealed/The gold that was buried will soon be revealed."

When I weighed 430 pounds, I realized I had covered any good thing, any gold buried inside me, with pounds and pounds of fat. When I would think about losing weight and revealing what might be there, it scared me spitless.

What if during all this time, somehow the gold inside me had been stolen? What if it was never there in the first place?

Finding the Gold Inside

For me, the giant struggle became, "Am I willing to trust God to show me the gold He has placed inside me?" Unearthing those gifts and being willing to risk using them only came when I put Him on the throne and began excavating my life with His help.

You can do the same. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. The great thing is, you don't have to do it alone. There is help for you in the struggle. {eoa}

Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, Christian weight loss coach, speaker and author. Her newest book is Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy. She also has four other books, including Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Get free chapters of her books, plus many other free resources, on her blog at TeresaShieldsParker.com. Connect with her there or on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.

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Paul had spent two years in prison with no definite charges having been made against him. Festus didn't know what to do with Paul, so when King Agrippa arrived for a visit, he brought this terrifying Roman leader into the discussion concerning Paul's charges. King Agrippa was the great grandson of Herod the Great, who had slaughtered the babies of Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

King Agrippa, who was known as a cruel and ruthless ruler, agreed to hear what Paul had to say for himself.

I don't know about you, but if I had been in Paul's shoes, my knees would have been knocking, my blood pressure would have been rising and my heart would have been racing in fear. Dry mouth and anxiety may have prevented me from saying absolutely anything in front of the leader of the mafia of the ancient world.

Paul was in deep trouble with the governmental authorities and the words that came out of his mouth at this turbulent moment should change the way you and I face difficult people and undeserved accusations.

"I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews" (Acts 26:2, NKJV).

Did you read the first four words that came out of the mistreated Paul's mouth? "I think myself happy" was the declaration of this man who has influenced Christianity for nearly 2,000 years.

Paul teaches two distinct lessons with these four powerful words that he spoke with courage at one of the worst moments of his life.

First of all, his brave example demonstrates the fact that you are in charge of your own thought life even during the trials of life. You can change the way you think! Your thoughts do not have to reflect your circumstances, the events that you are dealing with or even your current imprisonment. Your thought life, especially when you are dealing with unfair treatment and adverse conditions, is of vital importance. If Paul can think himself happy, then so can you and I!

The second lesson that we are able to learn from the words of Paul is found hidden in the rich meaning of the word "happy." "Happy" is the Greek word makarios, which Jesus also used in the Sermon on the Mount in the teaching of the Beatitudes. Every time Jesus said, "Blessed are you, " He was using the word makarios.

Makarios does indeed mean "blessed" or "happy"—but it means more than that. Makarios also is defined as "joined to the names of God."

The authoritative reason that you are able to change the way that you think even when you despise your current circumstances is because you, my friend, are connected to the names of God!

If you are sick, you are connected to Jehovah Rapha—your Healer.

If you are in need, you are connected to Jehovah Jireh—your provider.

If you feel like you are going under, you are connected to Jehovah Nissi—your victor!

If you are confused, you are connected to Jehovah Shalom—your peace.

No matter what situation you have found yourself in today, you can think yourself happy because you are connected to the names of God.

You can change the way you view today! Listen as Carol McLeod reveals the secret.

{eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written 10 books, including The Rooms of a Woman's Heart; Defiant Joy!; Holy Estrogen!; No More Ordinary; Refined; Joy For All Seasons; Let There Be Joy!; Pass the Joy, Please!; Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue; and Stormproof, which releases on March 1, 2019. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at carolmcleodministries.com.

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Do you have a war room?

Maybe it doesn't look like Clara's wall or Elizabeth's closet. Maybe it's a binder or journal, or maybe like me, you make your whole house a war room.

Maybe you haven't created a war room yet. Today, we're going to discover why every Christian needs to have one.

Jesus talked about the war room in Matthew 6.

Yes, I know, the term "war room" doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible, but the concept does. In fact, the concept of having a war room appears throughout the Bible.

Most notably we see Jesus' instruction in Matthew 6:6. "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

Jesus called it "the secret place." Growing up, we called it "the prayer closet." Today, we know it as "the war room."

Honestly, the terminology doesn't matter nearly as much as what takes place behind that closed door.

3 Reasons Every Christian Needs a War Room

In recent weeks, I have learned just how valuable my war room is to my family and me.

I have learned just how important it is to recognize the strategy of the enemy and how to turn his strategy against him with the holy determination to win the victory through the strength and power of the Holy Spirit.

I have learned why it is vital that, as parents, we stand guard over our home and children.

John 10:10a says, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."

This is the enemy's singular goal every day for our family. Each day, he begins with a checklist of things he will do to ensure that this goal is accomplished.

This is why, as God's children and as warriors of the kingdom, we must be vigilant in our war room with a strategy for victory over the goal of the enemy.

1. Fellowship with God.

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus often pulling away to be with the Father.

He set an example for us, because if Jesus—the Son of God, perfect, sinless and blameless—needed to seclude Himself to spend time with God, how much more do we—humans, flawed, broken and in need of a Savior—need to pull away from the noise of the world to spend time with Him?

This fellowship, though, wasn't just sitting and chatting with God. In these times of secluded prayer and fellowship with His Father, He was listening to God's voice speaking to Him what His will was for Him.

Jesus said that He came to do the will of the Father. He also said that He did those things that God told Him to do—He was obedient to God.

These times of fellowship with God in our war room are essential to our Christian growth, because during these times we learn obedience and submission to God's will so that we aren't living according to our own will, but the will of the Father.

2. Gaining spiritual perspective.

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned in my war room recently is that suffering isn't always a negative thing.

Jesus promised that we'd have trouble. He said, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

He didn't say, "I have overcome the world, so once you're saved, you'll never experience tribulation (another word for suffering or anguish).

Peter instructs us, "Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).

Suffering is as much a part of a Christian's life as it is the life of someone who isn't saved. The difference is, as Christians, we are able to go to God in prayer to gain wisdom and a godly perspective about our suffering.

God doesn't allow suffering into our life for no reason: be it consequences for sin, pruning so that we'll bear more fruit or testing of our faith.

No matter the reason, in times of suffering, we retreat to our war room and cry out to God for wisdom so we can gain His perspective about our problem.

3. Spiritual warfare.

This is likely the most well-understood reason for having a war room (though definitely not the only one).

Just as suffering is part of the Christian life, so is battle. This is why we're told to be on guard, to clothe ourselves in the armor or God and take up spiritual weaponry.

Sometimes we battle for victory in our own lives, and sometimes we have to go to war on behalf of our family or friends.

For the child of God:

  • Retreat is not an option.
  • Passivity is not an option
  • Surrender is certainly not an option

God has given us protective gear, defensive weapons and a clear path to victory! There is no reason why a child of God should live in defeat!

In our war room, God gives us a winning strategy to go against our enemy, Satan, to utterly defeat him and nullify his plans for destruction. {eoa}

Rosilind Jukic, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together, they live with their two active boys in the country, where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an associate degree in practical theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of "A Little R & R," where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You may follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.

This article originally appeared at rosilindjukic.com.

To learn more about prayer, listen to the podcasts included with this article.

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Marriage is for our benefit here on earth. Marriage can sometimes seem endless and tedious, but it is temporary. And when it's over you will want to be able to look back without regrets.

Every now and then you see a story or video about a couple who was married for many decades and died in their 90s within minutes or hours of each other. Most of us, me included, will not be blessed with that experience. In most marriages, one spouse will precede the other in death by years or even decades.

In looking back at the years I was married, I'm grateful for the ways in which I loved my husband well. I also remember how hard it was on occasion to remember the "long view" during periods of fatigue, sickness or confusion. There are certainly things I wish I had done differently, though my regrets are few.

When your husband or wife dies, it's too late to love them well. Here are a few things I would encourage any married person to embrace, knowing you will want to look back at your marriage without regrets.

1. Say what needs to be said.

Hard conversations are hard! It's so much easier to let things slide. It takes courage to broach the difficult topics. That includes talking about things such as:

  • What's important to you about death and final arrangements.
  • Financial matters.
  • Your and your spouse's eternal standing with God.
  • Things you need to ask forgiveness for or forgive your spouse for.
  • What you love and appreciate about each other.

These are not topics to get past in a one-and-done conversation; they are things to prayerfully and tenderly talk about at the right times. Choose the setting thoughtfully, study your spouse to know how they will be most able to hear you and be courageous in bringing up the painful or difficult topics. Do a lot of listening.

There will come a time when you will wish you had said what right now seems too difficult to say. I'm so very grateful for the hard conversations Al and I did have. There are more things I wish I would have said, but now I hold on to everything we did say to each other. Don't put these conversations off because they are hard. Hard and uncomfortable is better than too late!

2. Deal with your stuff.

You can only love your spouse well to the degree you have dealt with your own junk: habits, false messages, addictions, trauma, selfishness and so on. None of us is perfect! But becoming functional means your stuff is not in charge; you are.

If you've been through trauma in the past (and almost every one of us has been), intentionally seek healing so that your scars don't continue to wound your spouse. Do whatever it takes to deal with your addiction so your spouse is not victimized also. If pornography, anger, food addiction, people pleasing or anything else is an issue for you, get serious and get help if you need to. While you must do this for you, perhaps realizing how it will benefit your husband or wife will give added fuel to your motivation.

The Holy Spirit will continue to work on you as long as you live. But getting past your dysfunctions will dramatically impact how well you can love your spouse. Do it now; that may be one of the best gifts you can give your husband or wife.

3. Love your spouse well.

That does not always mean being nice! It does mean being the person God needs you to be to your spouse in this season. As you get over your own stuff, you can do this better and better.

Be intentional. Take the time to pay attention. Study your spouse; who are they really? How are you showing up in your marriage? What's it like to be married to you? If your spouse were suddenly not there, would you be able to look back at the way you have been loving them and not have regrets?

Remember that both you and your spouse are sinners; those are the only humans available for marriage! In a healthy marriage God intends for both partners to find significant healing; are you being a vehicle of that healing for your spouse?

4. Say "I love you" often in both words and deeds. Don't make the mistake of thinking your words are enough if you sabotage or demean your spouse in other ways. And don't believe your spouse knows how you love them by your actions alone; they needs words as well. Love languages differ; it helps to know your individual love languages.

As the 6-year-old little girl said, "If you love someone, hurry up and show it!"

Love your spouse well while you can; you will be left with far few regrets.

Your Turn: If your spouse were suddenly not there, what kind of regrets would you be left with? Few? Many? Is there anything you would like to change now? Leave a comment below.

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksleyis both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

This article originally appeared at drcarolministries.com.

Hear more about living without regrets in this podcast about Dr. Carol's grief following the loss of her husband.

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