Not a Sermon only a Thought

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection, see Romans. 5:10.

Romans. 10:9 promises, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever!

Causes of Rebellion

Romans 6:12-14

In God’s eyes, anyone who sins is rebellious, and Scripture tells us we’re all guilty (Rom. 3:23). Now, it makes sense that an unbeliever would choose to act apart from biblical teaching. But what about those of us who have committed to follow Christ—what would cause us to stray from the will of our heavenly Father?

There are two powerful human tendencies that lead to disobedience: doubt and pride. Both can be dangerously misleading.

1. Doubt is a mental struggle over whether or not to believe God’s promises. From our limited perspective, we cannot understand how the Lord works. Sometimes His way does not feel like the right path, so in order to obey, we must step out in faith. Then it can feel as though we are jumping off a cliff and trusting God’s invisible rope to hold us. If we listen to our doubt, we will surely transgress.

2. Pride is the sin that caused Satan to fall from heaven, and it is a deceptive obstacle for believers as well. Pride has to do with thinking that our way is best, putting more faith in our ability than God’s promises, and desiring praise. Anything we do out of pride is rebellion against the Lord.

Whatever the cause, sin never leads to the Lord’s best for our life. God’s way is the only road resulting in fulfillment and peace.

The enemy wants to lure us with doubt and pride—both feel right and are easily justifiable from our human perspective. But believers should follow Joshua’s wisdom instead: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

A Tough Command

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Many divine commands seem perfectly reasonable. With the Ten Commandments, for example, we easily understand why God forbids adultery, idols, and murder. But elsewhere He gives instructions that ostensibly make little sense. Let’s look at why He calls us to the seemingly impossible task of giving thanks in everything.

The Scriptures clearly teach that giving thanks is meant to be a way of life, not just a seasonal event (Psalm 92:1-2; Phil. 4:6-7). The problem is that we often do not feel appreciative, particularly when facing painful circumstances or faith tests. In fact, expressing gratitude for bad news seems irrational. What seems logical to the human mind, however, cannot compete with God’s greater knowledge of what is best for His children. As a result, we live a successful Christian life only by choosing to thank Him for everything He sends or allows across our path.

The Lord knows that gratitude powerfully impacts the believer. Trials can leave us feeling isolated, but thanking God for His ongoing care or provision reminds us of His constant presence. Equipped with the knowledge that He is in full control, we can submit our will to His. Though our circumstances may remain the same, our attitude is divinely transformed through trust.

The Lord has a purpose for every circumstance He allows in our life, and thankfulness motivates us to seek His purpose. In God’s perfect time, the divine plan is revealed, and then we can tell Him with sincere hearts, “Lord, thank You!”

The Motivation for Gratitude

Psalm 111:1-10

Yesterday we say that God’s will is for us to give thanks in everything. How can we possibly do this? When something unpleasant happens, we certainly won’t feel thankful, yet Scripture says quite clearly that God wants His children to express gratitude in all situations.

If we hope to maintain a grateful spirit, we must find a consistent motivation. Otherwise, our thankfulness will ebb and flow according to our current conditions. Since the only constant in our life is the Lord Himself, that’s where our focus should be.

First of all, we can be thankful for the demonstrations of God’s power and wisdom as displayed in His creation. The mountains, seas, forests, and fields reveal His goodness and lovingkindness in the way He designed such a beautiful habitation for us. Then, by lifting our eyes to the heavens, we see the vastness of His power and creativity. And by gazing into a microscope, we observe His intricate design of even the smallest particles of creation.

Another reason for gratitude is God’s providential care. Every day, we are sheltered in His protection, guided by His Spirit, and nourished both physically and spiritually through His gracious provision and His unfailing Word.

Most of all, we should always be thankful for our redemption. Apart from salvation through Christ, we would be without God, both in this world and throughout eternity. So even when life lets us down or turns out differently than we hoped, we should remember there’s an inheritance reserved for us in heaven. That’s sufficient reason for continual gratitude!

Defending the Faith

1 Peter 3:13-16

Knowing God’s Word and understanding what we believe are essential for growth in Christ and protection from deception. However, these alone aren’t the final goal. We are not left on earth merely to know for ourselves what God has said. Rather, we’re to share His good news. In other words, we’re to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15).

The word defense means “an answer one gives to explain himself.” Believers should be ready to give an account of their motives and reasons for holding on to their hope in Christ. Because of busy lifestyles, many Christians have never taken the time to really think through their views and beliefs. When someone challenges them, they feel a sense of panic because they’re totally unprepared.

Giving an account for our faith must be accompanied by a gentle, respectful delivery. Aggressively dumping a load of truth on a questioning person rarely leads him to God, but a gentle answer opens hearts as well as ears.

And remember, people watch to see if all we profess is backed up with a life of integrity. A Christian who is living a hypocritical lifestyle will have a worthless testimony.

These verses were not written to scholars; they were intended for ordinary people with jobs and families. The task isn’t impossible, yet it requires time spent reading and studying God’s Word. In setting Christ apart as the Lord of your heart, you will find that time with Him becomes a joy, not a sacrifice.

Heirs to a Grand Inheritance

Ephesians 1:9-14

Did you know that you are an heir to unimaginable wealth that will never fade away? If you’re a believer, then God has an inheritance reserved for you in heaven. In fact, He says you have already obtained it. (See Eph. 1:11.) Your right to this treasure is not based on anything that you’ve done, but on the one to whom you belong. If you are a child of God, then the inheritance is yours and will be “revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).

No one can take our inheritance from us, because God has guaranteed it by sealing us with His Holy Spirit of promise. The transaction is complete and merely awaits the ultimate consummation when everything will be brought under the headship of Christ. This seal shows His ownership and authority over us, and one day our full redemption will come.

Naturally, we all want to know what we’re going to inherit. Much of that is beyond our earthly comprehension, but Scripture gives us a few hints. It will involve the transformation of both our body and soul. The goal for which God predestined us will be completed as we stand before Him, conformed to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2). And these weak, perishable bodies will be changed into strong, glorious ones that are free from sin and death (Phil. 3:20-21).

Why has God done all of this for us? Amazingly, He says it’s so that throughout eternity He can show us “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). In love and gratitude for such amazing goodness, let’s devote each day of our life to living for Him.

Peace With God

Romans 5:1-2

One day I posed a question to the waitress at a restaurant: “If you could ask God for anything, what would your request be?” Her answer was immediate. “I want to feel at peace.” She tearfully explained that her grandmother had died and emotional turmoil resulted.

Many in our world are like this woman, in that they desire inner calmness but have no relationship with the Lord. People often seek contentment by trying to improve their appearance, physical fitness, financial situation, or social status—or by abusing substances. But such things can’t bring tranquility of heart or mind. Only a relationship with Jesus leads to true peace.

Prior to salvation, we were slaves to sin and living in opposition to God (Col. 1:21). Our transgressions had formed a barrier of hostility between Him and us, and on our own, we were helpless to cross it. Without God’s intervention, we could not have found the way of peace. But our heavenly Father provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He sent His Son to pay for our iniquities and remove the separation that existed between us and Him.

When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we were reconciled to the Lord and no longer at odds with Him (Rom. 5:10). In Christ, we have peace with the Father.

Our triune God has provided everything we need for inner tranquility. The Father opened the way for us to be in His family. Jesus continually offers His peace so we can experience serenity of mind and heart (John 14:27). And the Holy Spirit cultivates the fruit of peace in our lives (Gal. 5:22).

Jesus: The Source of Peace

Colossians 1:15-20

Before we knew Jesus Christ, our life was full of godlessness and wickedness—we had self-seeking ways and stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Rom. 1:18; Rom. 2:5, Rom. 2:8). Like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed.

When we came to faith in the Savior, all of that changed. We were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into Christ’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). Every one of our sins—past, present, and future—was forgiven. Divine justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s wrath upon us was removed. We became a new creation, washed clean by Jesus’ blood (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Now that sin’s power over us has been broken, we can become members of God’s family rather than His enemies (Rom. 5:10). He sent His Holy Spirit to be our personal guide in this new life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (Rom. 8:6). We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (Rom. 14:17).

The story of the Prodigal Son’s return is a picture of our reconciliation with the Lord (Luke 15:11-32). The young man had chosen to leave his father, living instead to please himself. Repentant, the son eventually returned home; his father joyfully greeted and forgave him, and there was harmony between them. God has done all this for us.

Our unity with the heavenly Father came at a great price—the sacrifice of His only Son. Christ gave His life for us so that we could be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). Christian lives are to testify that Jesus is the source of our peace. Does your life communicate this message?

Finding Satisfaction

Philippians 4:11-13

God has provided us with many things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). But our lives are frequently filled with turmoil instead of contentment. Here are four practices that create dissatisfaction.

1. Busyness. We live in a hurry-up society, dashing from one activity to another. Jesus did not rush, yet He accomplished everything God gave Him to do. Rarely did He tell His followers to move faster. He even praised Mary for choosing to stop and spend time with Him (Luke 10:39, Luke 10:42).

2. Earthly perspective. Too often we live focused on our circumstances. Our minds are filled with what occurred earlier in the week, what’s on today’s agenda, and the activities happening next week, month, or year. No wonder enjoyment of life remains elusive. The solution is to have an eternal perspective, which acknowledges God is in charge and our goal is to please Him.

3. Self-imposed pressure. We have all experienced the unavoidable burdens of schoolwork, employment, and relationships. But we bring needless pressure on ourselves when we allow unnecessary “musts” and “shoulds” to rule us. The remedy is to turn to God, acknowledge His right to order our days, and ask for His plan.

4. Unhealthy attitudes. Things like perfectionism, false guilt, and apathy all undermine our enjoyment of life.

Satisfaction is found in a life that reflects God’s priorities—and time with Him comes first. Reading His Word, we become mindful of the Father’s great love, learn what He views as important, and experience the joy of belonging to Him. When contentment is elusive, it’s time to reexamine our priorities.

Preaching Like Peter

Acts 2:14-42

Peter’s first sermon takes less than five minutes to recite. Sharing the gospel doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy. In fact, Peter’s message contains a formula we can use to outline our own testimonies.

Preparation. The disciple relied heavily on the Scriptures to make his case for faith in Christ. But Peter knew there was another important element—after being miraculously enabled to proclaim the gospel in multiple languages, he must have realized the significance of the Holy Spirit. No matter how persuasive a man’s message is, only the Spirit can open the door to unbelieving hearts and minds.

The Savior’s credentials and purpose. Peter cited the “miracles and wonders and signs” that validated Jesus as the promised Messiah (Acts 2:22). Then the disciple made clear Jesus’ foreordained mission on earth: to die for mankind’s sin. Christ willingly and obediently submitted to the task assigned by His Father.

A personal invitation. Peter wasn’t shy about convicting the hearts of his audience. “This Man ... you nailed to a cross,” he said (Acts 2:23). The new preacher made sure listeners knew their responsibility in the Messiah’s death, but then gave the exciting news that Christ was alive. Those who believed were invited to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38). Any gospel message should finish by telling people how they, too, can be saved.

Witnessing to others can be intimidating. But if you are prayerful and prepared, you can trust the Holy Spirit to be with you and to handle the outcome.

Praising the Lamb of God

Revelation 5:1-12

In heaven, there is unceasing worship and praise of God. Revelation 4 and 5 describe John’s vision, in which four living creatures proclaimed God’s holiness day and night. The apostle then heard 24 elders respond with a declaration of God’s worthiness (Revelation 4:8-11). He listened as they sang a new song of praise, declaring that the Lamb of God had purchased men for God—and then witnessed multitudes of angels proclaiming Jesus’ worth (Revelation 5:9-12).

What was it about Jesus that motivated such heartfelt worship? It was who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. He is ...

God the Son, who laid aside His divinity so that He might rescue us (Phil. 2:6-7).

• The Savior who took on human form and died so that we might be saved (Phil. 2:8).

• The only One who revealed God the Father to us (John 14:9).

• The Son of Man, who chose to identify with us because of His great love (John 1:14, John 15:13).

• The Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

• The Lion of Judah, who will return as the judge, the ruler, and the authority over all (Revelation 5:5).

These same attributes should motivate our praise and worship of Jesus. Ask the Lord to help you establish a pattern of praising Him and responding in adoration each time you think of Him. Heavenly music is to be sung by the redeemed on earth for all to hear.

Walking in the Light

Ephesians 5:1-17

If you’ve ever lost power at night, you know how disorienting it can be to try and find your way to a flashlight or candle. You think you’re heading for a doorway but unexpectedly bump into a wall. This is what our life was like before we met the Light of the World. In fact, we didn’t even know what real light was and had become comfortable in the darkness because it kept us from seeing how sinful we truly were.

An amazing transaction occurred when we finally believed the gospel, repented of our sins, and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We were rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Light. And now Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, has come to dwell within us (Col. 1:13; Eph. 3:17). So how are Christ’s followers supposed to live? Today’s passage outlines three basic responsibilities:

1. Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2). As the Savior sacrificially loved us, so we are to love others. If we are at odds with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t claim to be walking in Light (1 John 1:7).

2. Abstain from sin (Eph. 5:3-7). Believers aren’t sinless, but they don’t habitually practice deeds of darkness.

3. Learn what pleases God (Eph. 5:8-17). The fruit of Light is goodness, righteousness, and truth. These are displayed in our character, conversation, and conduct when we are living out our faith.

Let’s make it our aim to move ever closer to the Light, letting Jesus expose and remove any areas of darkness so we can reflect His glory and goodness.

The Pattern for Servanthood

Matthew 20:25-28

In the world’s thinking, great men are the ones with authority, prominence, and power. Though Jesus Christ had all that, He surrendered it to become a servant (Isa. 42:1; Phil. 2:7).

Jesus gave Himself completely to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption, even though the beneficiaries—namely, each of us—were undeserving. God, who is holy and righteous, has eyes that “are too pure to approve evil, and [He] can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). Therefore, He must separate Himself from those who are stained by wrongdoing. That includes all of humanity (Rom. 3:23).

Everybody is born captive to fleshly desires (Rom. 6:16-18). When someone claims to be living on his “own terms,” he is serving whatever his human nature craves. The penalty for that false sense of liberty is death (Rom. 6:23).

Jesus’ ultimate act of service was to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). The word ransom describes the price paid to set a slave free—Christ voluntarily purchased our liberation. There was only one way our holy God could remove our guilt yet remain true to His own law: Someone sinless had to pay our sin debt for us.

Jesus’ sacrifice spared us the penalty we deserve. Instead, we receive grace and have been declared not guilty. Moreover, we are elevated from slaves to children of the Almighty! Jesus served the Father’s purpose faithfully. He gave up His righteousness to carry our wickedness—and endured a crushing separation from God. To meet our needs, the Savior held nothing of Himself back, and thereby set a powerful example of servanthood for us to follow.

God’s Viewpoint About Money

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Money plays a huge role in our existence. In fact, it’s impossible to live without it. How would we purchase food, shelter, and clothing? But it’s more than just a means for acquiring necessities. The quest for wealth has dominated mankind’s history. Wars have been fought over it, lives have been ruined by it, and people have died for lack of it. To gain a proper attitude about money, Christians must understand the Lord’s perspective.

God is the source. Since everything originates from the Creator, it all belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1). This means we are merely stewards of the wealth He’s entrusted to us. Even if we work for it, the Lord is the one who has given us the opportunity and capabilities to earn it.

God uses money for His purposes. We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity. The Lord doesn’t provide money for just our physical needs; He uses it to transform us spiritually. In times of need, He trains us to rely upon Him and proves Himself faithful by providing for us. Wealth is also a tool He uses to teach us self-discipline. Instead of indulging our desires, we must learn to seek His will and be content with what we have. In addition, God uses money to train us to be generous.

Take a dollar bill from your wallet and look at it. That piece of paper is a powerful instrument in the Lord’s hand when you give Him authority over it and submit to His spiritual transformation program. Anytime you open your wallet and see a dollar, be reminded that what you do with it will reveal your character.

Requirements of Walking by Faith

Genesis 12:1-9

We all know people who live according to their own desires and natural abilities. Sometimes we do it too. But as children of God, believers are called to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). That means we are to live based on a confident assurance that the Lord is true to His character and keeps every promise.

In the school of faith-walking, the first skill to master is listening. Because God’s Word is essential to our hearing from Him, we must cultivate the habit of biblical meditation. Through it, we will hear God’s Spirit speak to ours, illuminating the meaning of Scripture and showing us how to apply its truths to our circumstances. But recognizing the inner voice of the Holy Spirit does not come automatically; it takes practice.

A second skill to acquire is obedience—carrying out what the Lord commands and then doing it His way, in His time. Abraham left his homeland just as God commanded, but he “adjusted” the divine plan by bringing Lot along (Gen. 12:4). The life of faith is one of submission to God’s requests, methods, and time frames. As our listening skills improve, our faith in the Father will deepen, our commitment to Him will grow, and complete obedience will become easier.

Faith-walking also involves remembering what happened when we obeyed God in the past—He communicates with us not only for today but also to teach us for the future. Can you recall what He said to you last week? Have you put it into practice? Commit to being a better listener and a more obedient follower in the coming year.

Skills Needed to Walk by Faith

Genesis 12:10-20

Learning to walk by faith requires time. As we have seen, Abraham listened to God and obeyed Him. Then over the years he learned to master additional skills.

Dependence. The Christian life is one of reliance upon God. From the very start, Abraham recognized that his own knowledge was limited and the right way was not obvious. But he understood whom he could trust to meet his needs: God knew the plan perfectly and had all the necessary resources to accomplish His will through Abraham.

Waiting on God. This can be one of the hardest disciplines to master. Scripture shows that even Abraham, the great man of faith, had trouble in this area. While our human nature wants action, the Lord often asks His people to hold back (2 Chronicles 20:17). He wants us to let Him act first. Our part is to meditate on the Word, listen for God’s voice, and hold off until He instructs us to act. The Lord, meanwhile, promises to bless those who wait (Isa. 64:4).

Confession. Abraham was not perfect. When famine threatened, he headed toward Egypt, not toward God. Then he lied, which made trouble for others. Later, Sarah found it too hard to wait for the promised child, so she and Abraham took matters into their own hands (Gen. 16:1-3). We also will stumble. But when we return to the Lord in repentance and acknowledge our failure, we will receive forgiveness and can resume walking by faith.

God knows we are imperfect people. He will patiently and repeatedly teach us faith-walking lessons until we learn to trust Him. We just have to maintain responsive hearts and teachable spirits.

Requirements for Answered Prayer

John 14:12-14

Jesus taught many things about prayer and its central role in a believer’s life. He also promised that our petitions will be answered when we meet certain requirements.

One condition is mentioned in John 14:14: After receiving Christ as our personal Savior, we have the right to present requests in Jesus’ name, which means praying something that the Lord Himself might pray. To exercise this privilege, we must come to the Father, depending not on our own good works or character but on the merits of Christ alone. Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is the only basis for approaching God and being assured of receiving an answer to our petitions.

A second requirement is separation from all known sin. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” This refers to ungodly behaviors and thought patterns that we know are wrong but refuse to give up. Remember, God looks at our heart attitude. If we struggle against our sinful ways, grieve over them, and ask for forgiveness, He will hear our cries and respond. But when He sees a hard heart, He is not obligated to listen.

Next time you pray, start with words of praise to God for His sacrificial love and gratitude to Jesus for dying in your place (1 John 4:10). Express that you understand why your prayers are heard—because you have a relationship with the Father through Christ, and not because of anything you have done. Confess all known sin and ask for forgiveness. Then present your requests to God with anticipation, and trust His answers.

Receiving Answers to Our Prayers

1 John 5:13-15

In response to our prayers, the Lord uses His power to penetrate closed minds and hard hearts. In that way, He brings people to salvation and transforms unrighteous lives.

We all want our petitions fulfilled, so it is important to understand God’s conditions for answered prayer. Besides having a relationship with Him (John 3:3) and confessing all known sin, we must have faith that His Word is true and His promises reliable. The Bible, which was divinely written by God through man, is without error. In this amazing book, the Lord reveals His nature—holy, sovereign, and perfect—and presents His plan of salvation (Rom. 10:9). Because God’s promises are based on His perfect character, we can be certain He will do what He says; otherwise He would not be God. And Jesus’ promises can be trusted because He always spoke the Father’s words (John 12:49).

Another condition is that we ask according to the Lord’s purposes. We’re to pray for things that are in keeping with His divine plan and character. God wants us to discern His will, to pray for it to be carried out, and to do whatever our part might be in its fulfillment (Matt. 6:9-10). The Holy Spirit will help us know what to pray. And as we consider which petitions to make, we should ask ourselves, Is my request based on God’s Word? How will an answer to this prayer bring me or someone else closer to Him?

It takes an investment of time to meet God’s requirements for prayer. But in response, He will provide answers beyond anything we could ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

A Saving Faith

Matthew 7:13-29

The greatest tragedy that can befall someone is to think he’s saved, only to discover after death that he isn’t. We’d all like to believe the claims of those who say they’re Christians, but Jesus gives a harsh warning because He knows many will be deceived. They will sit in churches week after week, professing that Jesus is the Son of God, but won’t ever really enter into a personal relationship with Him.

Intellectual faith isn’t the same as saving faith. It’s not enough to know facts about Jesus or to believe He died and rose again. Even demons believe that (James 2:19). Salvation involves more than mere knowing. It requires trusting that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin, receiving His forgiveness, turning away from old sinful ways, and entering into a relationship with Him. What matters is not what we say with our mouth, but what we believe in our heart.

Although you probably won’t understand all that happens at the moment of salvation, when Christ becomes your Savior, He also becomes your Lord. As the Master of your life, He then has a right to govern what you do. His Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you are saved, and that means you will change—God’s Spirit continually works to remove sinful attitudes and behaviors, replacing them with His spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).

We recognize a person’s salvation not by his profession but by fruit. If you are truly saved, your character will become more Christlike over time, and your desire will be to obey the Lord. This does not mean you’ll never sin or stumble, but overall, your life will be characterized by obedience.

Keith posted:

God’s Viewpoint About Money

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Money plays a huge role in our existence. In fact, it’s impossible to live without it. How would we purchase food, shelter, and clothing? But it’s more than just a means for acquiring necessities. The quest for wealth has dominated mankind’s history. Wars have been fought over it, lives have been ruined by it, and people have died for lack of it. To gain a proper attitude about money, Christians must understand the Lord’s perspective.

God is the source. Since everything originates from the Creator, it all belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1). This means we are merely stewards of the wealth He’s entrusted to us. Even if we work for it, the Lord is the one who has given us the opportunity and capabilities to earn it.

God uses money for His purposes. We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity. The Lord doesn’t provide money for just our physical needs; He uses it to transform us spiritually. In times of need, He trains us to rely upon Him and proves Himself faithful by providing for us. Wealth is also a tool He uses to teach us self-discipline. Instead of indulging our desires, we must learn to seek His will and be content with what we have. In addition, God uses money to train us to be generous.

Take a dollar bill from your wallet and look at it. That piece of paper is a powerful instrument in the Lord’s hand when you give Him authority over it and submit to His spiritual transformation program. Anytime you open your wallet and see a dollar, be reminded that what you do with it will reveal your character.

We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity.

Is this where all your beloved Christian Ministers took their clue from? The fleecing of poor and unfortunate Christians. Be a Christian so we can keep you close to God who will tell you to give it all to the Christian church???

Ministry Friendships

Acts 18:1-19

A significant facet of the Christian life is the development of friendships that help both parties fulfill God’s will for their lives. This is the kind of friendship Paul had with Aquila and Priscilla. The relationship, which began from their common Jewish heritage and occupation, soon became a partnership in ministry.

Paul met Aquila and Priscilla when he first arrived in Corinth during his second missionary trip. After teaching and mentoring them for about 18 months, he brought them along on his return trip, leaving them to minister in Ephesus until he returned to help them on his third missionary trip.

Although they all eventually went their own ways in ministry, their friendship—which was founded upon their mutual love for Christ—never ended. A few years later when Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he expressed his gratitude for this couple because they risked their own lives for his and were faithfully serving the church, which met in their home (Rom. 16:3-5). While Paul was sitting in a Roman prison during his last days on earth, he wrote to Timothy in Ephesus, telling him to send his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila (2 Tim. 4:19).

God never intends that Christians live like “lone rangers,” who simply attend church without growing close to one another. Our common bond in Christ draws us together, forming a closeness not found in other associations. Ministry friendships are among the deepest relationships we will ever have. These friends are the ones who always point us back to the Scriptures, challenge us to walk in obedience to Christ, and encourage us to persevere.

Unjust Suffering

1 Peter 2:18-25

One of the hardest situations to bear is unjust suffering. We can expect to reap pain and trouble if we sow sin, but what if we haven’t done anything wrong? Even trials that seem to come for no reason are easier to bear than those resulting from someone’s mistreatment of us.

This is what Peter had in mind when he wrote today’s passage. Slaves in the Roman Empire had few rights if any, and abuse wasn’t uncommon. Becoming a Christian didn’t change the circumstances, but it did require a different response. Peter told them to respectfully submit to their masters and endure mistreatment because such a response finds favor with God.

Whoever has been saved by Christ is also called to follow in His footsteps. Although the Lord committed no sin, He suffered death on a cross for us. Jesus not only paid the penalty for our sins, but He also made it possible for us to respond to mistreatment as He did.

Christ’s responses are noteworthy, first because Jesus didn’t revile or threaten those who hurt Him. His silence was fueled by forgiveness rather than anger or thoughts of revenge. Even as He was being nailed to the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Second, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father, who judges righteously. The Lord had no need to fight for His rights, because He was doing exactly what God had called Him to do.

Our job is to make sure we’re following Christ and living in God’s will. Then if others mistreat us, we can simply hand the situation over to our Father, knowing that He will judge it rightly in His time.

The Gift of Teaching

Romans 12:6-8

God has given each believer at least one spiritual gift to build up the body of Christ and to minister in this hurting world. If our gift is prophecy, we’ll proclaim God’s view of right and wrong. If it is service, we will desire to meet others’ needs. The gift of teaching has these characteristics:

Organized. Whether in conversation or in a more formal setting, we will seek to communicate information clearly so the listener can follow. God has wired us to analyze material and present it logically.

Thorough. We want others to understand not simply the conclusion but the steps leading up to it. We also desire to help them think matters through.

Accurate. Our priority is to know the truth, so we ask questions in an attempt to validate the accuracy of what we learn. We will also inquire about the trustworthiness of our source of information.

Studious. We derive great delight from studying and researching and are strongly motivated to share what we learn. Truth is presented not simply to share knowledge but with the goal that God will transform the hearer’s life.

Bible-oriented. With this gift comes a strong desire to know what the Lord has to say. While we may recognize the value of others’ experiences, we are less motivated by personal illustrations than by the actual words of Scripture.

All of the spiritual gifts can be used in the workplace, in our communities, and in our homes. If your gift is teaching, allow the Spirit to direct your ability for God’s glory and others’ gain.

What’s Jesus Doing Now?

Hebrews 1:1-3

The New Testament tells us what Jesus did while He was on earth, but what is He doing now that He has ascended to the Father in heaven? His physical absence does not mean that He has abandoned us. Though we cannot presently see Him, His Word assures us that He is always acting on our behalf, to empower, lead, and complete us.

He gives us abundant life (John 10:10). Christ enables us to live with peace and joy as well as the strength and determination to persist in accomplishing whatever He calls us to do.

The Lord makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). Jesus hears our every prayer and is seated at His Father’s right hand, presenting our requests to Him.

Christ reveals the Father (Col. 1:15). Through the Son, we understand that God is our loving heavenly Father, who is personally interested in every aspect of our life. Scripture invites us to follow Jesus’ example of ongoing intimate conversation with God.

He’s preparing a place for us (John 14:2-3). One day He will come to take us home to heaven so we can be with Him forever

The Lord Jesus is also preparing for His return (Revelation 11:15). Christ will come back to rule and reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is definitely not a phrase that describes Christ’s relationship with us. He never forgets us and is continually working to complete His plans for believers’ lives as well as for the entire world. His constant care should motivate us to make sure that He’s not out of our sight and mind.

Basics of Effective Meditation

Psalm 46:10

You may wonder, How can I incorporate genuine meditation into my Christian life? I believe that there are several basics of meditating that will reap tremendous benefits in your walk of faith.

1. Season of time. Do you hurry through your prayer time so that you can get to other things? Think about the model Jesus gave us. Did He ever rush through His prayer time? No, He made communing with the Father His priority, and everything else fell into place around that.

2. Stillness. We read the call to stillness in Psalm 46:10 (NIV), yet we may wonder, What does it mean to “be still”? Simply put, it means that we stop everything else. This can be difficult for us in this fast-paced, multi-tasking world. We’ve gotten used to doing a dozen things at once! However, true meditation requires that we focus our minds on only one thing: almighty God.

3. Seclusion. This is something that the Lord really had to fight for in His ministry, as He was constantly surrounded by people. While attending to their needs, He also guarded His need for seclusion. Often in the gospels, we see Jesus retreating for some private, intimate time with the Father. No matter what else was going on, Jesus always made a point to safeguard chunks of time here and there to rest in the Spirit, focus on His relationship with the Father, and build up His strength.

Is your prayer life characterized by time set apart and safeguarded so you can be alone with God and still? Commit today to build these essentials into your day.

More Essentials of Meditation

Psalm 19:14

We have already explored three fundamentals of effective meditation. Today, let’s round out the list by adding three additional ones. Picking up where we left off yesterday, we will now consider:

4. Silence. What a struggle this one can be! How often do you sit down to pray and then end up doing all the talking yourself? The prophet Isaiah reminds us that “in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isa. 30:15). However, we’re not often quiet in prayer, are we? Sometimes we go on and on with our petitions but never actually give the Father an opportunity to respond. How can we ever truly know His heart unless we stop and listen to Him in silence?

5. Self-Control. This simply means admitting to yourself that you need to deal with some things in your life. God is continually refining us and shaping us into the men and women He wants us to be. As we surrender more and more to His will, we need to acknowledge these areas are no longer ours to control.

6. Submission. Finally, believers must submit to God. All of the prayer and meditation in the world will not make a difference in your life if you have a rebellious spirit. He desires to know you, use you, and mold you according to His best plan for you personally. This cannot happen if you do not intentionally submit to His work in your life.

Meditation can be hard work, but as with exercise, the rewards are well worth the effort. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, and make a commitment to start meditating today.

Keith posted:

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection,

This is funny given that while on the cross, Jesus spoke like he doesn't know God when he cried out "my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me". No person of God would ever question the actions of God for doing so indicates a gross lack of faith.

Putting Off Procrastination

Acts 24:24-27

Some people like to say they are “born procrastinators.” But according to Scripture, that is not acceptable for believers. Procrastination is a form of bondage in a person’s life, and God, who desires the best for us, didn’t design us to be enslaved.

Procrastination has two genuine causes. The first is “discomfort dodging.” Many people put off taking action because of the related anxious or uncomfortable feelings, as in today’s passage—fearing Paul’s talk about righteousness, self-control, and judgment, Felix sent the apostle away. The second cause for putting things off is self-doubt. If we consider ourselves inadequate to complete a task, we may well choose not to begin it.

In our spiritual life, we sometimes postpone Bible reading and meditating before God because He brings to the surface matters that we need to confront. When those subjects come up, we at times choose to put off dealing with them. Issues like pride, guilt, or self-control may not be comfortable to face, but dodging them obstructs God’s purpose in our life.

If we delay action, we can become preoccupied with the possibility of failure or fear of making a mistake. Then we tend to feel drained of the creativity and energy needed to tackle chores we should be doing. But putting God’s assignments on hold is the same as disobeying Him.

Procrastination is no laughing matter. Are you given to delay? Identify any problem areas in your life—as well as the feelings that accompany them. Then confess your procrastination to the heavenly Father, and rely on His strength to face what needs to be done.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection,

This is funny given that while on the cross, Jesus spoke like he doesn't know God when he cried out "my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me". No person of God would ever question the actions of God for doing so indicates a gross lack of faith.

I don't expect you to understand but lets try it's been a few weeks now so hopefully you found some understanding...First of all, Jesus quoted Psalm (Old testament written ~1500-444 BC) 22:1 which begins with, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" Jesus quoted this Psalm in order to draw attention to it and the fact that He was fulfilling it there on the cross. Read Psalm 22 verses 11-18:

"11: Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.
12: Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 
13: They open wide their mouth at me,  As a ravening and a roaring lion.  14: I am poured out like water,  And all my bones are out of joint;   My heart is like wax;  It is melted within me. 
15: My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;  And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 
16: For dogs ((Gentiles)) have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
17: I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;
18: They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots
." Now Read Matthew 27:35. Fascinating is it?

In 2 Corinthians. 5:21 says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." It is possible that at some moment on the cross when Jesus became sin on our behalf, that God the Father, in a sense, turned His back upon the Son. It says in Habakkuk (Old testament written ~7 century BC). 1:13 that God is too pure to look upon evil. Therefore, it is possible that when Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter. 2:24), that the Father, spiritually, turned away. At that time, the Son may have cried out.

skeldon_man posted:
We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity.

Is this where all your beloved Christian Ministers took their clue from? The fleecing of poor and unfortunate Christians. Be a Christian so we can keep you close to God who will tell you to give it all to the Christian church???

Look at you taking one sentence to show us how baseless your comment is. Here the paragraph in it's entirety:

God uses money for His purposes. We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity. The Lord doesn’t provide money for just our physical needs; He uses it to transform us spiritually. In times of need, He trains us to rely upon Him and proves Himself faithful by providing for us. Wealth is also a tool He uses to teach us self-discipline. Instead of indulging our desires, we must learn to seek His will and be content with what we have. In addition, God uses money to train us to be generous.

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection,

This is funny given that while on the cross, Jesus spoke like he doesn't know God when he cried out "my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me". No person of God would ever question the actions of God for doing so indicates a gross lack of faith.

I don't expect you to understand but lets try it's been a few weeks now so hopefully you found some understanding...First of all, Jesus quoted Psalm (Old testament written ~1500-444 BC) 22:1 which begins with, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" Jesus quoted this Psalm in order to draw attention to it and the fact that He was fulfilling it there on the cross. Read Psalm 22 verses 11-18:

"11: Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.
12: Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 
13: They open wide their mouth at me,  As a ravening and a roaring lion.  14: I am poured out like water,  And all my bones are out of joint;   My heart is like wax;  It is melted within me. 
15: My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;  And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 
16: For dogs ((Gentiles)) have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
17: I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;
18: They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots
." Now Read Matthew 27:35. Fascinating is it?

In 2 Corinthians. 5:21 says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." It is possible that at some moment on the cross when Jesus became sin on our behalf, that God the Father, in a sense, turned His back upon the Son. It says in Habakkuk (Old testament written ~7 century BC). 1:13 that God is too pure to look upon evil. Therefore, it is possible that when Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter. 2:24), that the Father, spiritually, turned away. At that time, the Son may have cried out.

My brother, I don't know why you thought that you would be adding clarity with your response above. Christianity is convoluted and no amount of apologetics over the past 2000 years will ever fix that. It is widely known and universally accepted by Bible scholars that in the compilation of the Bible, many documents were presented as parts of named books when they could not be so. I once posted two passages side by side where they were exactly the same passage inserted into the both books. There has also been wholesale copying (plagiarism) in the New Testament so I don't share your enthusiasm of Matthew 27:35 nor do I find it fascinating. The writers of the New Testament took old stories and associated them with Jesus and then claim that they were happening to Jesus and they never failed to add "so that the prophesy can be fulfilled". Adding this certification is done similar to Trump lying and then ending by saying "believe me". Your explanation about God temporarily turning his back on his son can only come from someone grounded in blind faith. It is as illogical as many other Christian teachings starting with how the Holy Spirit had to spread over Mary as in the missionary sexual position. God who created this grand plan that occurred on the Calvary cross can't deal with some of the circumstances of his own plan. And what sins of the world has Jesus abated since we are even more sinful now than we ever were. Even those who became 'born again' have ended up committing worse sins than what they did before they became 'born again'. So not only do 'born agains' don't know God. Jesus doesn't know God either. And based on Christian convoluted teachings, looks like even God does not know God. But since a sucker is born every moment, the charade will continue.

That said, Happy New Year. 

Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity.

Is this where all your beloved Christian Ministers took their clue from? The fleecing of poor and unfortunate Christians. Be a Christian so we can keep you close to God who will tell you to give it all to the Christian church???

Look at you taking one sentence to show us how baseless your comment is. Here the paragraph in it's entirety:

God uses money for His purposes. We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity. The Lord doesn’t provide money for just our physical needs; He uses it to transform us spiritually. In times of need, He trains us to rely upon Him and proves Himself faithful by providing for us. Wealth is also a tool He uses to teach us self-discipline. Instead of indulging our desires, we must learn to seek His will and be content with what we have. In addition, God uses money to train us to be generous.

I can accept your explanation above as even the Qur'an speaks of giving except that the charity mentioned in the Qur'an does not enrich the church or its leaders but rather for the poor. The charity in the Qur'an is 2.5% of net income as opposed to 10% of gross income in Christianity. Those charities are mostly given to poor as evidence from the very basic Muslim houses of worships and leaders who mostly don't get paid for their work. Never met a wealthy Muslim religious leader. One will surely find grand mosques around the world but those are generally built by state funds as opposed to funds collected through zakaah. Then you have the passage "they asked how much they should give in charity. Tell them everything that they don't need". Muslims are expected to use their resources to take care of their needs but bot be excessive. Then they are expected to give the rest to charity. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous Christian preachers take the very little that many poor Christian church goer has so that they can enrich themselves. If wealth is also a tool that he uses to teach us self discipline, it looks like he has a different set of rules for the preachers, ala Joel Osteen (how much does he really need) as well as others, and for the poor church goer who gives away the little that they have for a pipe dream. There are stories almost every day of preachers ripping off church goers. Looks like the folks that God chooses to preach the gospels are as flawed as the gospels themselves. 

ksazma posted:
 

My brother, I don't know why you thought that you would be adding clarity with your response above. Christianity is convoluted and no amount of apologetics over the past 2000 years will ever fix that. It is widely known and universally accepted by Bible scholars that in the compilation of the Bible, many documents were presented as parts of named books when they could not be so. I once posted two passages side by side where they were exactly the same passage inserted into the both books. There has also been wholesale copying (plagiarism) in the New Testament so I don't share your enthusiasm of Matthew 27:35 nor do I find it fascinating. The writers of the New Testament took old stories and associated them with Jesus and then claim that they were happening to Jesus and they never failed to add "so that the prophesy can be fulfilled". Adding this certification is done similar to Trump lying and then ending by saying "believe me". Your explanation about God temporarily turning his back on his son can only come from someone grounded in blind faith. It is as illogical as many other Christian teachings starting with how the Holy Spirit had to spread over Mary as in the missionary sexual position. God who created this grand plan that occurred on the Calvary cross can't deal with some of the circumstances of his own plan. And what sins of the world has Jesus abated since we are even more sinful now than we ever were. Even those who became 'born again' have ended up committing worse sins than what they did before they became 'born again'. So not only do 'born agains' don't know God. Jesus doesn't know God either. And based on Christian convoluted teachings, looks like even God does not know God. But since a sucker is born every moment, the charade will continue.

That said, Happy New Year. 

Happy New Year to you and the family.

I absolutely agree with you here my brother wow, Christianity is difficult because it expects a lot from us. The most difficult thing that is expected of us Christians is to loves one another just as Christ loves us. You know how difficult that is to do? I struggle with that a whole lot.

Addressing accusation of corruption/plagiarism
Some not all Muslims accuse Christians of corrupting the Bible. While this charge would explain the differences between the Quran and the Bible, the allegation has no credible evidence. The Quran praises the Bible, and scholars verify the Bible’s authenticity.

Islam teaches that the Bible has been corrupted. However, the Quran commends the Bible: "And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah—a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil)" (Surah 5:46). Muhammad was commanded by Allah to "recite what has been revealed to you of the Book" (Surah 29:45).

In addition, the Quran says that God’s Word cannot be changed (Surah 6:34; 10:34, 64), and it makes no distinction between the various revelations of God. "We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them" (Surah 2:136).

Scholarly evidence proves that nothing of doctrinal significance differs in the various Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. Aside from grammar and spelling variation, the Bible today is essentially the same Bible that Muhammad praised (Surah 3:3).

The New Testament was completed 500 years before Muhammad received the Quran. It is not enough to say, "The Bible and the Quran are different, and thus the Bible must be wrong." Proof of corruption must be forthcoming. If a modern author wrote a book on the Gallic Wars that was found to conflict with Julius Caesar's account of the same events, then the older, historically accepted text would carry more weight. Caesar, whose writing was contemporaneous with the events, would have more authority than the modern author. In other words, when discrepancies in a historical document are alleged, the burden of proof rests on the newer text.

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The Believer’s Transformation

Ezekiel 36:25-27

I marvel at the metamorphosis of a caterpillar. A crawling, slimy, and spiky bug disappears into a chrysalis spun from its own body, and before long, a delicate and graceful winged butterfly emerges. It is magnificent.

Our change at the moment of salvation is just as radical and miraculous. From a death-bound, sinful, and depraved heart, God brings about a brand-new creature—one that is forgiven, made righteous, and designed to be the place where He Himself resides (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 14:17).

Have you ever wondered why, then, we continue to struggle with sin after trusting Christ as Savior? Shouldn’t all the habits and tendencies of our old heart have vanished? The answer is that the term “new creature” refers to our position in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is true that believers are forgiven and eternally secure as children of the heavenly Father. Yet we remain in fleshly bodies, and as long as we are on earth, there will be an ongoing battle between spirit and flesh.

Throughout our life, God is transforming us to be increasingly like Jesus—His Spirit residing within helps us to combat sin and teaches us how to live. This process, called sanctification, is a journey that will last until we are called home to heaven.

While salvation is a one-time event, sanctification is a lifelong adventure. And though the Lord sees believers as righteous, we still have the capacity to sin. Thankfully, God’s Spirit guides and empowers us to become more like Jesus, and as we yield to Him, our behavior and thoughts will change.

God’s Guide to a Fruitful Life

Proverbs 3:1-4

Jesus Christ told His disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit” (John 15:5). As we carry out the Lord’s plans through the power of His Spirit, our lives will have significance, and two practices will characterize us.

1. Treasuring God’s Word in our hearts. When we value something, we think about it often, study it regularly, and learn all we can about it. By studying the Bible, we learn many important things about our God, including His character, plan, and promises. Regular Scripture meditation develops our ability to think biblically and deepens our relationship with the Lord. One of the indications that we treasure His Word is a change in behavior: Decisions will increasingly be guided by His principles, and actions will reflect the fruit of the Spirit. (See Gal. 5:22-23.)

2. Adorning ourselves with kindness and truth. These two virtues are to be our constant companions on the Christian walk. God’s truth has the power to expose ungodly attitudes and behaviors. When this happens, the presence of kindness helps to protect relationships from damage; it can also prevent discord and division in churches. The Lord wants us to speak the truth to one another—but to temper it with loving compassion.

The Christian life is a journey filled with temptations, obstacles, and difficulties that are common to man (1 Peter 4:12). At the same time, it is to be characterized by the fruitfulness that comes from following Jesus Christ, our guide.

Always Be Careful

Ephesians 4:1-7, Ephesians 4:14-16

Do you know for sure that what you believe has a rock-solid foundation? Far too many people of various faiths have been swayed by a leader with a charismatic personality—someone who is eloquent, persuasive, and smooth. Be careful! The Christian’s beliefs are to be grounded in what God teaches, so make certain yours are based on more than simply the ideas of an impressive communicator.

Paul warned his protégé Timothy to beware false doctrine and those who teach only what their listeners want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3). But how can we hope to recognize error unless we know the truth of God’s Word and can use it as a measuring stick?

Knowing the teachings of Scripture not only helps guard against being deceived by false doctrine but also protects you from intimidation by those who might attack your faith. Therefore, examine what you believe and why. Doing so will …

1. Prevent you from being misled.
2. Protect you from fear and intimidation.
3. Prepare you to answer questions from those honestly seeking truth.
4. Enable you to be persuasive in presenting what you believe.
5. Deepen your personal relationship with God.

By regularly spending time in God’s Word, you develop a biblical filter through which all new information passes. That filter in your mind enables you to distinguish between what’s false and what’s true. If that is firmly established in your mind and heart, you’ll be able to identify God’s truth.

Becoming a Prodigal

Luke 15:11-19

The Prodigal Son’s journey away from home began with a desire. Perhaps he wanted to leave behind some of the restrictions that come with living under a parent’s roof. Or maybe he wanted more money to pursue life’s pleasures with friends. Whatever the case, his desire gave birth to self-deceptive reasoning, which assumes, There’s no harm in what I am doing. I deserve this. That thinking led to a decision—to prematurely ask for his inheritance—and to his departure, both from home and from what he had been taught.

A Christian who has turned away from God follows a path similar to the prodigal’s. It begins in our mind with a craving for something other than what we have. The longer we allow the idea to linger, the stronger our desire becomes. When we cling to a yearning that is outside of God’s protective will, then we likewise deceive ourselves and find ways to justify what we want. We will base decisions on our faulty reasoning and move away from the Lord to fulfill our self-centered dreams. Like the wayward son, we may enjoy the pleasures of the world for a time, but ultimately, we will find ourselves without the essentials common to all mankind—unconditional love, security, and a meaningful purpose for living.

We have an enemy who seeks to divert us from the heavenly Father’s will, to a mindset that places desires above God and “flesh” tendencies that prefer pleasure over obedience. To avoid self-deception, make Scripture your basis for living—and adjust your thought life and choices accordingly. (See Rom. 12:2.)

Keith posted:

Becoming a Prodigal

Luke 15:11-19

The Prodigal Son’s journey away from home began with a desire. Perhaps he wanted to leave behind some of the restrictions that come with living under a parent’s roof. Or maybe he wanted more money to pursue life’s pleasures with friends. Whatever the case, his desire gave birth to self-deceptive reasoning, which assumes, There’s no harm in what I am doing. I deserve this. That thinking led to a decision—to prematurely ask for his inheritance—and to his departure, both from home and from what he had been taught.

A Christian who has turned away from God follows a path similar to the prodigal’s. It begins in our mind with a craving for something other than what we have. The longer we allow the idea to linger, the stronger our desire becomes. When we cling to a yearning that is outside of God’s protective will, then we likewise deceive ourselves and find ways to justify what we want. We will base decisions on our faulty reasoning and move away from the Lord to fulfill our self-centered dreams. Like the wayward son, we may enjoy the pleasures of the world for a time, but ultimately, we will find ourselves without the essentials common to all mankind—unconditional love, security, and a meaningful purpose for living.

We have an enemy who seeks to divert us from the heavenly Father’s will, to a mindset that places desires above God and “flesh” tendencies that prefer pleasure over obedience. To avoid self-deception, make Scripture your basis for living—and adjust your thought life and choices accordingly. (See Rom. 12:2.)

Christians should not think for themselves?? Enslave all of them. Make them robots.

God’s Blessings

Psalm 81:1-16

Our heavenly Father delights in meeting His children’s needs and fulfilling their desires. Yet many Christians walk through life with less than God’s best. How can we avoid missing out on His blessings?

Psalm 81 provides insight. The writer refers to a time when the Israelites missed the opportunity to receive God’s best. As we know from the book of Exodus, the nation gratefully praised Him for their release from bondage. But then they quickly forgot and worshipped other gods, complaining about their circumstances in the wilderness. This unhealthy pattern continued all throughout the Old Testament, as the people would turn to Jehovah in time of need and then drift away.

Psalm 81:8-10 reveals God’s perspective: “O Israel, if you would listen to Me! Let there be no strange god among you ... I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

We, too, might have needs and desires that are unmet because of disobedience. Today, most people don’t worship statues, as the wayward Israelites did. Our idols are less obvious—they might include a relationship, job, hobby, or anything else we put ahead of the Lord. Even making decisions based upon what others think can be idolatry; our choices should be made on the basis of biblical principle and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Ask the Lord to reveal anything that hinders your receiving His best. Listen carefully, and let Him help with the areas He brings to your attention. He is ready to guide and bless you.

Attaining God’s Best

Psalm 145:18-19

Yesterday we saw that idolatry involves giving something or someone priority over the Lord—and it leads to missing His best. Scripture also warns about other obstacles that hinder our receiving God’s blessings.

As followers of Jesus, we are to pray to our heavenly Father when we desire or need something (Phil. 4:6). Sadly, many of God’s children fail to do so. Some are “too busy” to bring their requests to the Lord. Others talk to the Lord in a general or mechanical way, without the genuine, heartfelt communication He desires.

Christians should come humbly before His throne, bringing requests with a submissive spirit (1 Peter 5:5-6). This means that we are to yearn for God’s will above all else—even above what we think is best. It is important to acknowledge that He may have something better in mind. Then, as we faithfully pray, God may remove or alter certain longings so that our desires begin to align with His.

Furthermore, the Bible tells us to approach God with confidence and faith (Heb. 4:16; James 1:6). In other words, when we pray and seek the Father’s will, we should anticipate that He will answer. As Isaiah 64:4 reminds us, God “acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

Our Father desires to pour blessing into the lives of His children. Don’t allow prayerlessness to prevent His best. Express your needs and wants to God confidently and specifically. Then submit your will to His, and wait expectantly. He is faithful—you will see!

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