Peter Amsterdam has been active in Christian service since 1971. In 1995 he became co-director (together with his wife, Maria Fontaine) of the Christian community of faith known as the Family International. He has authored a variety of articles on Christian faith and theology. (Articles by Peter Amsterdam used in Activated are adapted.)
Each of us is a recipient of God’s love and care. Developing an attitude of gratefulness to God builds within us an attitude of gratefulness for life and for all that it brings our way. When we take a moment to stop and look around, when we see the birds, the sky, the view, the flowers, the greenery, when we reflect on the things we enjoy—the love that we have and that we share with others, our children, our experiences—we find plenty of reasons to be grateful. It’s not surprising that there is so much in the Bible about gratitude and thanksgiving.
He set himself to seek God ... and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.1
If you want to be physically fit, you have to eat right, exercise, and put some time and effort into building good physical habits. Similarly, if you want spiritual growth—if you want to be spiritually fit—it will require investing in a spiritual regimen.
Have you ever been faced with important decisions and needed explicit direction, only to feel as if God was in silent mode?—Right when you would most like Him to give a precise answer? I know I have, and during those times, it’s been a spiritual struggle. Once, while struggling with a decision, I so much wanted God to make the path clear, but He, in His wisdom, chose not to give a direct answer. Instead, I needed to forge ahead to do the pick-and-shovel work of investigating options, seeking godly counsel, weighing the open doors of opportunity before me, praying desperately, and most of all, committing my ways to Him. I had to trust that He would direct my path in the manner of His choosing.
Christians who are interested in spiritual growth recognize that spending time taking in and absorbing God’s Word is of utmost importance. It is within the Bible that we learn about God’s love for humanity, Jesus’ message, and how to live in harmony with God and our fellow human beings.
When Jesus rose from the dead, His resurrection was the first phase of God’s new creation, a new kind of existence—a human body was transformed by the power of God into one that is no longer affected by death, decay, and corruption. Nothing like this had ever happened! “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.”1
We all need to have faith in ourselves—or rather faith that God is in us and that He can use us. Since God uses individuals to do His work, we have to believe that we’re capable. We need faith in His ability to perform and work through us. We must dare to try, which means allowing God to try through us.
We are weak and faulty, but our God is invincible. We are earthen vessels, yet as we commit our lives and hearts to Him, He becomes one with us and can work through us. “The people who know their God shall be strong and do great things.”1
Our true treasures are not money and possessions. Our true treasures are the kingdom of God, His love and interaction in our lives, our salvation, God’s provision and care for us, and our coming rewards. Understanding this puts our finances and their use in the right perspective.
The beginning of a new year is such an interesting time. We often think back over our experiences of the past year as well as look ahead to what the new year will bring. It can be encouraging to see the challenges met, the victories won, the progress made, the commitments carried through, and the blessings we’ve had throughout the previous year. It’s also a time to assess areas where we had hoped we’d make headway but didn’t quite live up to our aspirations. Perhaps there’s something to learn from the hard times and difficulties—or even some outright failures—that we experienced.
Something I’ve always loved about Christmas is listening to and singing the beautiful Christmas carols that have been written over the centuries. I like them so much that I often listen to them at other times throughout the year. Many are masterpieces and deeply moving. Recently, when looking online for the words to some of my favorites, I was impressed by the beauty of their poetry as well as the power of their purpose in a way I hadn’t been before.
Recently I came across a familiar Bible verse, which I’ve read, heard, and even quoted hundreds of times, but when meditating on it, thinking of its practical application and the enormity of the consequences of ignoring it, I more fully realized its importance.
Matthew 6:14–15 says, “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”1