skeldon_man posted:
 

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
 

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Unfortunately this does not answer Skelly's question about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
 

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Unfortunately this does not answer Skelly's question about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.

Not surprising that you cannot comprehend.

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
 

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Unfortunately this does not answer Skelly's question about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.

Not surprising that you cannot comprehend.

In your own words, tell us what your Bible teaches about what happens to a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, etc. after they have lived and died. Will they be in heaven too? 

I doan tink dey tink of the Christ as being the Godhead. Certainly they revered Him as a Holy Person, that is the Hindus and Buddhist. The Mohammadans on the other hand do some serious cursing of God's only begotten son. 

The reason for the Jews existence, has to be because of Abraham. When the whole world worshipped idols, this one man in the whole world knew that there is Being who has a Spirit. Unlike the idols that have mouths but cant drink or speak, limbs that cant move and cant bestown favors.       

Sagga bai, help yuh brother Keith out. Tell us what the Bible teaches about what happens to a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, etc. after they have lived and died. Will they be in heaven too? The good thing is that you are experienced enough to give a straight answer here whereas brother Keith can only cut and paste stuff.

The Work of the Believer

Romans 12:4-8

The world’s definition of success differs greatly from God’s. Take the role of a pastor, for example—it would be easy to accept accolades for church growth, as many people equate high attendance numbers with a minister’s effectiveness. But the Lord desires that we obey Him with humility. Whether we draw a crowd or not, success is measured by obedience.

This looks different for each believer. Some have very visible jobs, so their efforts are public and obvious. Others serve in quiet, less noticeable ways.

The gifts God bestows upon His followers are tailored to each one’s ordained assignments. The Holy Spirit reveals our calling, and we’re to give our best effort. Of course, no matter what the task may be, the result will be worthless unless the Father breathes life into it. In other words, we are entrusted with God-appointed work. He assigns the duty, provides the skills, and causes growth. The Lord deserves all of the glory. We are designed to achieve His plan.

As mere vessels that God uses, we should be thankful for anything He accomplishes through us. And by giving Him all the credit, we need never feel defeated with disappointment. Rather, in spite of how things may appear, we trust Him to achieve His good purpose.

Honor is misplaced unless it goes directly to the One who creates, sanctifies, and sustains. God created you for specific tasks to further His kingdom. He wants to use your life—and will allow you to watch His powerful hand at work. Listen for His leading, and praise Him for all He accomplishes.

ksazma posted:

Sagga bai, help yuh brother Keith out. Tell us what the Bible teaches about what happens to a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, etc. after they have lived and died. Will they be in heaven too? The good thing is that you are experienced enough to give a straight answer here whereas brother Keith can only cut and paste stuff.

Could you tell us what your koran say about those same people you are inquiring about and what about us Christians? We already know your moto on the Jews so we will exclude for the sake of this turning into a "sermon".

Unlike others you have this aptitude of not understand what you are reading. Assist your buddy in answering who are gentiles, while you at it read John 12, there you might find some insight to your brainless questions...then again the issue of comprehending. I hope this is not too much trouble for you to do.

Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
 

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Brother Keith, With all due respect, please answer the questions. I did not ask you to quote verses of the Bible. If I wanted to hear anything about the Bible, I would turn on the TV and surf to a Christian Fleecing Channel. I just asked you a couple of logical questions. And like many non-Christians, we all want to know why God was only present for the Jews and not the rest of the world. Is this too much for the brain to comprehend? I have not read any religious books and will not do so in my life time. I do believe in a God, but not a God with religion. I am still awaiting your answer. 

ksazma posted:

Brother Keith. Did Skelly ask me what the Qur'an says about people of other faiths or did he ask you about the position of Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, etc.? Why the anger from you so early in the morning?

Correction: Could you tell us what your koran say "teaches you" about those same people you are inquiring about and what about us Christians? We already know your moto on the Jews so we will exclude for the sake of this turning into a "sermon".

Unlike others you have this aptitude of not understand what you are reading. Assist your buddy in answering who are gentiles, while you at it read John 12, there you might find some insight to your brainless questions...then again the issue of comprehending. I hope this is not too much trouble for you to do.

Is that clear enough? There is no anger on my part.

skeldon_man posted:
Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
 

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Brother Keith, With all due respect, please answer the questions. I did not ask you to quote verses of the Bible. If I wanted to hear anything about the Bible, I would turn on the TV and surf to a Christian Fleecing Channel. I just asked you a couple of logical questions. And like many non-Christians, we all want to know why God was only present for the Jews and not the rest of the world. Is this too much for the brain to comprehend? I have not read any religious books and will not do so in my life time. I do believe in a God, but not a God with religion. I am still awaiting your answer. 

What I've observe from many of your post here is how quick you are to excoriate religious belief by generically laying the blame at the door of those who claim to be religious, without distinction. By the same measure, why is there not an equal enthusiasm to distribute blame for violence engendered by some of the irreligious?

Don't waste your time looking for answers from me until you answer my questions.

Bro Keith, I never believed in other forms of life on other planets etc..for me UFO's were just that, something flying by perhaps a secret machine being developed by us, our allies or even our enemies, but we cannot identify it hence UFO. Where do you stand on this? is there any reference of this in the Bible?

cain posted:

Bro Keith, I never believed in other forms of life on other planets etc..for me UFO's were just that, something flying by perhaps a secret machine being developed by us, our allies or even our enemies, but we cannot identify it hence UFO. Where do you stand on this? is there any reference of this in the Bible?

There is a reference to celestial beings.

1 Corinthians 15:39-50:
"39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.

48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

Brother Keith. Did Skelly ask me what the Qur'an says about people of other faiths or did he ask you about the position of Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, etc.? Why the anger from you so early in the morning?

Correction: Could you tell us what your koran say "teaches you" about those same people you are inquiring about and what about us Christians? We already know your moto on the Jews so we will exclude for the sake of this turning into a "sermon".

Unlike others you have this aptitude of not understand what you are reading. Assist your buddy in answering who are gentiles, while you at it read John 12, there you might find some insight to your brainless questions...then again the issue of comprehending. I hope this is not too much trouble for you to do.

Is that clear enough? There is no anger on my part.

Dude, whether you changed the word from 'say' to 'teaches', it still does not change the fact that Skelly did not ask me a question. He asked you and you have not answered him. All you want to do is preach even as you dishonestly claim that you aren't.

To your dismay, I do understand what I read. I don't drink soup from preachers whether they are Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. You mistakenly think you understand but in actuality you are just gullible.

And yes, someone with my insight can easily determine your anger.

Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:
Keith posted:
skeldon_man posted:

Brother Keith, Did God only care for the Jews? What about the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc.? Was God present only around the Jews to protect them? Was this God not the God of all the people in the world? Reading some of this stuff reminds me of Indian movies, heroes can beat up ten men without suffering any serious injury.

Answer my questions and I'll answer yours. Who are the gentiles? Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles? Have you read Romans 3:25-30? Do you understand what said in John 3:16?

How about Jeremiah 32:27 which says: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me" What is a "ALL FLESH"?

This remind me of individuals that like cherry picking verses out of the bible without reading the entire chapter to understand the passage/scripture.

Brother Keith, With all due respect, please answer the questions. I did not ask you to quote verses of the Bible. If I wanted to hear anything about the Bible, I would turn on the TV and surf to a Christian Fleecing Channel. I just asked you a couple of logical questions. And like many non-Christians, we all want to know why God was only present for the Jews and not the rest of the world. Is this too much for the brain to comprehend? I have not read any religious books and will not do so in my life time. I do believe in a God, but not a God with religion. I am still awaiting your answer. 

What I've observe from many of your post here is how quick you are to excoriate religious belief by generically laying the blame at the door of those who claim to be religious, without distinction. By the same measure, why is there not an equal enthusiasm to distribute blame for violence engendered by some of the irreligious?

Don't waste your time looking for answers from me until you answer my questions.

Irreligious people don't go around pretending to be holier than thou. People who claim to be religious do that. Sooner than later, they all get exposed. You have already been exposed.

ksazma posted:

Sagga bai, help yuh brother Keith out. Tell us what the Bible teaches about what happens to a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, etc. after they have lived and died. Will they be in heaven too? The good thing is that you are experienced enough to give a straight answer here whereas brother Keith can only cut and paste stuff.

The Ancients believe that after death, there commence a journey. And the treasures horded in their burial chambers were to appease the demons they encounter in there journey to the creator of life, the Father who has a begotten Son, who has all things. 

The Hindus and the Buddhists have a similar belief. There is this journey that is encountered while on a river. And as the ancients, gifts are offered to obstacles in nearing the Creator. Homer in his written works has also stated so in his accounts of Ulyses.

The Mohammadans on the other hand believe that their prominence in heaven is dependent on how many infidels they kill. As the Mughals put it, their place in heaven is secured, dependent on how much Hindus lands they invade.

ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS GETS TO THE HEAVEN, right of passage is not for everyone. It doan matter wah religion a person is. 

The Reward of the Believer

1 Corinthians 3:6-15

Our God-given purpose is to glorify our heavenly Father. Ephesians 2:10 sheds light on the means by which we accomplish this: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”

As believers, we are responsible to do God’s work. One day, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be held accountable for our service. “Judgment” can be a daunting term. Remember, though, that Jesus redeemed us by His death and resurrection and paid the penalty for our sins. He took our punishment, and we no longer face condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Christ’s judgment for Christians determines His rewards for each believer.

During this evaluation, God will test our actions. Today’s Scripture passage likens this to proving the quality of a substance through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Once the fire burns away impure motives and worthless tasks, the Lord will give recompense for that which remains.

From the outside, we may look as if we’re living obediently, striving to honor Jesus. So many tasks appear selfless and honorable, yet underneath the noble appearance, there can be ugly motives. We often deceive even ourselves about the reason for our actions. Since our desire should be to please Christ, we can ask Him to purify and change our hearts.

Consider your actions over the past few days. How much time and energy did you spend serving Christ for His glory? This can include any area of involvement—not just efforts related to church. Ask God to reveal whatever is driven by a selfish motive and needs to be brought under His authority.

ksazma posted:
seignet posted:
 

ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS GETS TO THE HEAVEN, right of passage is not for everyone. It doan matter wah religion a person is. 

Please expand on this.

I would have to disagree with the first part of your statement brother seignet. God is holy and perfect. Heaven, His dwelling place, is holy and perfect, too according to Psalm 68:5; Nehemiah 1:5 and Revelation 11:19. In Romans 3:10, "there is none righteous, no not one." No human being is holy and perfect enough for heaven. The people we call "good" are not good at all compared to the sinless perfection of God. If God allowed sinful humans to enter the perfection of heaven, it would no longer be perfect. What standard should be used to determine who is "good enough?" God's standard is the only one that counts, and He has already ruled. Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory." And the payment for that sin is eternal separation from God, Romans 6:23.

Sin has to be punished, or God is not just, 2 Thessalonians 1:6. The judgment we face at death is simply God bringing our accounts up to date and passing sentence on our crimes against Him. We have no way to make our wrongs right. Our good does not outweigh our bad. One sin ruins perfection, just as one drop of arsenic in a glass of water poisons the whole glass.

So God became man and took our punishment upon Himself. Jesus was God in the flesh. He lived a sinless life of obedience to His Father according to Hebrews 4:15. He had no sin, yet at the cross He took our sin and made it His own. Once He paid the price for our sin, we could be declared holy and perfect, 2 Corinthians 5:21. When we confess our sin to Him and ask His forgiveness, He stamps "Paid in Full" over our life of selfishness, lust, and greed, Acts 2:38; 3:19 and 1 Peter 3:18.

When we stand before God one day, we cannot beg entrance to heaven based on our own merit. We have none to offer. Compared to God's standard of holiness, not one of us is good enough. But Jesus is, and it is by His merit we can enter heaven. First Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." The sacrifice of Jesus covers it all.

The people who go to heaven are all alike in one way: they are sinners who have placed their faith in Jesus, John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9. They have recognized their need for a Savior and humbly accepted God's offer of forgiveness. They have repented of their old ways of living and set their course to follow Christ, you can find this in Mark 8:34; John 15:14. They have not attempted to earn God's forgiveness but have served him gladly from grateful hearts, Psalm 100:2. The kind of faith that saves a soul is one that transforms a life according to James 2:26 and 1 John 3:9-10 and rests fully on the grace of God.

PS: seignet I'm not a theologian nor am I a preacher so I encourage you to research the scripture references I provided to find understand and truth. God Bless.

If only perfect and sinless people can be in God's heaven, how did perfect and sinless Adam and Satan became imperfect and sinful while still in heaven. See how many holes are in your theory Brother Keith? Your preaching does not pass the logic test. The next time you go to church try to observe the actions of the preacher. He or she will spend the first part of their time whipping the crowd into a frenzy because that is the best time to pass off illogical arguments as beautiful preaching.

And yes. I don't mind an expanded explanation to a question. What I don't care for is a long drawn out mindless sermon.

ksazma posted:

If only perfect and sinless people can be in God's heaven, how did perfect and sinless Adam and Satan became imperfect and sinful while still in heaven. See how many holes are in your theory Brother Keith? Your preaching does not pass the logic test. The next time you go to church try to observe the actions of the preacher. He or she will spend the first part of their time whipping the crowd into a frenzy because that is the best time to pass off illogical arguments as beautiful preaching.

And yes. I don't mind an expanded explanation to a question. What I don't care for is a long drawn out mindless sermon.

This is the ignorance you kept peddling everyday showing how inept you are to understand. With all thy getting get some understanding.

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

If only perfect and sinless people can be in God's heaven, how did perfect and sinless Adam and Satan became imperfect and sinful while still in heaven. See how many holes are in your theory Brother Keith? Your preaching does not pass the logic test. The next time you go to church try to observe the actions of the preacher. He or she will spend the first part of their time whipping the crowd into a frenzy because that is the best time to pass off illogical arguments as beautiful preaching.

And yes. I don't mind an expanded explanation to a question. What I don't care for is a long drawn out mindless sermon.

This is the ignorance you kept peddling everyday showing how inept you are to understand. With all thy getting get some understanding.

Was Adam, Eve and Satan perfect when they first lived in heaven? Short yes or no answer please. I am not interested in your Koolaid. Just a simple answer as it was reported in the Bible. So again, was Adam, Eve and Satan perfect when they lived in heaven before they were sent down to earth? Lets take it step by step so you are able to stay on course.

By what I read by Bro Keith, only God is without sin, only God has a place in heaven. Those 14k+ souls who waiting for a spot got shafted they ain't going anywhere other than worm feed. I notice it even said men who bop other men aint going there..oh oh bum boys cork duck. God really pick and chose who going up there and by the looks of it he gonna be one lonely ole man.

RE: My question on UFO's and other beings other than humans. 

It is said God made man in his own image. According to sources we see pictures of beings that do not look anything like us so that could throw what we read in the Bible and even evolution, out the window, correct?

cain posted:

By what I read by Bro Keith, only God is without sin, only God has a place in heaven. Those 14k+ souls who waiting for a spot got shafted they ain't going anywhere other than worm feed. I notice it even said men who bop other men aint going there..oh oh bum boys cork duck. God really pick and chose who going up there and by the looks of it he gonna be one lonely ole man.

RE: My question on UFO's and other beings other than humans. 

It is said God made man in his own image. According to sources we see pictures of beings that do not look anything like us so that could throw what we read in the Bible and even evolution, out the window, correct?

This is one of the most illogical things that is being said. Let me expand on it a bit and the silliness becomes clearer. The preacher's argument is that God looks like people. He has hands, feet, mouth, eyes, ears, etc. Does he also have a BT? We see paintings of him having a penis. What about breasts and p ussy because it wouldn't be fair to deny our women folks some right also. Imagine a painting with a God with luscious breasts as well as a penis and p ussy in one. When I first came to America, I snuck into one of those peepshows in Times Square. The window went up and standing on the other side of that window was a woman with a fake penis stuck in her p ussy. Wonder if that is how this God who has the same image as man looks. The reality is that the writers of the Bible did not know who God was. They made up stories based on their surroundings. That explains all the inconsistencies. The other theme is how one set of writers would flatter the people of their times but condemn the people of the times gone. It was a constant feud as each generation jockeyed for their own advantage. When the Jews wrote the stories, the Jews were the favored by God. After the Romans took over and the writers began writing on behalf of the Romans (non-Jews), the tune changed and suddenly the Jews were not favored by God anymore but the Gentiles had been moved into first place. 

cain posted:

Dam! Please tell me Santa Claus is real.

I got a strong feeling Bro Keith gonna lose it an start cuss up.

Bro Keith which part of Guyana are you from?

If you got cool gifts from Santa Claus at Fogarty's, then Santa Claus is real. 

Bro Keith is going to be really pissed that he never got to those peepshows before they got shut down. 

I don't think Bro Keith is from Guyana. He doesn't seem to have our kind of sense of humor. I think he is here mainly to preach the Gospel. He probably thought we knew nothing about the Gospel. If I tell him we have Alter-bais here, he would be shocked.  He thinks we lack understanding. In particular, he thinks I am ignorant. How do I know that he thinks so? He told me so. 

From Failure to Restoration

Philemon 1:1-21

Sometimes a difficult situation can make us wish we could run away. Unless we keep our eyes fixed firmly on Christ and our trust anchored to God’s Word, desperation to find relief may tempt us to take matters into our own hands. That’s what Onesimus did. He was one of the millions of slaves in the Roman Empire, and the day came when he decided he’d had enough. Not only did he run away, but he also stole from his master.

Although Onesimus thought he was charting his own course by fleeing to Rome, God directed his path to the apostle Paul, who led him to Christ. In his attempt to become free, Onesimus discovered the joy of becoming a devoted slave of Christ. Now Jesus was his Master and Lord, and that meant he had to correct his wrongdoing and return to his earthly master. Since runaway slaves faced the death penalty, Paul interceded on his behalf with a letter to his master Philemon, a fellow believer whom Paul had apparently led to faith.

Until a certain point in his life, Onesimus had not lived up to his name, which means “useful” or “profitable.” (See Philem. 1:11.) But Christ changed his life, and he became a “beloved brother” who ministered to Paul during the apostle’s imprisonment (Philem. 1:16).

Onesimus’s story demonstrates how God’s sovereign hand works in our life even when we’re determined to be our own master. Once we repent and surrender to the Lord, He redeems our failures and uses them for His glory. The things we remember with shame now become examples of God’s grace and power to transform lives.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

If only perfect and sinless people can be in God's heaven, how did perfect and sinless Adam and Satan became imperfect and sinful while still in heaven. See how many holes are in your theory Brother Keith? Your preaching does not pass the logic test. The next time you go to church try to observe the actions of the preacher. He or she will spend the first part of their time whipping the crowd into a frenzy because that is the best time to pass off illogical arguments as beautiful preaching.

And yes. I don't mind an expanded explanation to a question. What I don't care for is a long drawn out mindless sermon.

This is the ignorance you kept peddling everyday showing how inept you are to understand. With all thy getting get some understanding.

Was Adam, Eve and Satan perfect when they first lived in heaven? Short yes or no answer please. I am not interested in your Koolaid. Just a simple answer as it was reported in the Bible. So again, was Adam, Eve and Satan perfect when they lived in heaven before they were sent down to earth? Lets take it step by step so you are able to stay on course.

 

ksazma posted:

I don't think Bro Keith is from Guyana. He doesn't seem to have our kind of sense of humor. I think he is here mainly to preach the Gospel. He probably thought we knew nothing about the Gospel. If I tell him we have Alter-bais here, he would be shocked.  He thinks we lack understanding. In particular, he thinks I am ignorant. How do I know that he thinks so? He told me so. 

I just don't think you lack understanding, I know so, it's displayed here day after day. You have made quite the spectacle of yourself with foolish comments such as, "When the Jews wrote the stories, the Jews were the favored by God. After the Romans took over and the writers began writing on behalf of the Romans (non-Jews), the tune changed and suddenly the Jews were not favored by God anymore but the Gentiles had been moved into first place."

What difference does it make where I'm from? What you need to do is to get some understanding which is lacking on your part.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

If only perfect and sinless people can be in God's heaven, how did perfect and sinless Adam and Satan became imperfect and sinful while still in heaven. See how many holes are in your theory Brother Keith? Your preaching does not pass the logic test. The next time you go to church try to observe the actions of the preacher. He or she will spend the first part of their time whipping the crowd into a frenzy because that is the best time to pass off illogical arguments as beautiful preaching.

And yes. I don't mind an expanded explanation to a question. What I don't care for is a long drawn out mindless sermon.

This is the ignorance you kept peddling everyday showing how inept you are to understand. With all thy getting get some understanding.

Was Adam, Eve and Satan perfect when they first lived in heaven? Short yes or no answer please. I am not interested in your Koolaid. Just a simple answer as it was reported in the Bible. So again, was Adam, Eve and Satan perfect when they lived in heaven before they were sent down to earth? Lets take it step by step so you are able to stay on course.

Here another good example of your foolish comment which clearly shows you either don't understand what being said or clearly didn't read to gain some understand about what was written.

So what you saying is that you are too afraid to say if Adam, Eve and Satan were perfect when they originally lived in heaven. Why? Is answering too thought provoking for you? 

Furthermore, above was a question from me, not a comment. Are you not able to decipher a question from a comment?

Lastly. I don't care where you are from. I didn't ask you that. Are you not able to determine who posed the question? As far as I am concerned, you are a fraud and that is what I do on this topic. I continue to expose you. I am not interested in your Koolaid and judging from the number of people enquiring from you about your preaching, not many are interested either. You generally speak to yourself on this topic. Maybe that is how you like it as you detest people questioning the quality of your Koolaid.

ksazma posted:

So what you saying is that you are too afraid to say if Adam, Eve and Satan were perfect when they originally lived in heaven. Why? Is answering too thought provoking for you? 

Furthermore, above was a question from me, not a comment. Are you not able to decipher a question from a comment?

Lastly. I don't care where you are from. I didn't ask you that. Are you not able to determine who posed the question? As far as I am concerned, you are a fraud and that is what I do on this topic. I continue to expose you. I am not interested in your Koolaid and judging from the number of people enquiring from you about your preaching, not many are interested either. You generally speak to yourself on this topic. Maybe that is how you like it as you detest people questioning the quality of your Koolaid.

What I'm trying to vocalize here to you on this forum is that you are too ignorant to understand that Adam and Eve did not "originally lived in heaven" as you stated. Clearly shows you don't know what you are talking about. I give you enough rope to correct your statement but it look like you plan to hang yourself with the rope by displaying your ignorance. Go get some understanding and then lets reason.

Having the image or likeness of God means, in the simplest terms, that we were made to resemble God. Adam did not resemble God in the sense of God’s having flesh and blood. Scripture says that "God is spirit" according to John 4:24 and therefore exists without a body. However, Adam’s body did mirror the life of God insofar as it was created in perfect health and was not subject to death.

The image of God refers to the immaterial part of humanity. It sets human beings apart from the animal world, fits them for the dominion God intended them to have over the earth, see Genesis 1:28, and enables them to commune with their Maker. It is a likeness mentally, morally, and socially.

Mentally, humanity was created as a rational, volitional agent. In other words, human beings can reason and choose. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom.

Morally, humanity was created in righteousness and perfect innocence, a reflection of God’s holiness. God saw all He had made (humanity included) and called it very good, Genesis 1:31.

Socially, humanity was created for fellowship. This reflects God's triune nature and His love. In Eden, humanity’s primary relationship was with God. Genesis 3:8 implies fellowship with God, and God made the first woman because "it is not good for the man to be alone", Genesis 2:18.

Part of being made in God’s image is that Adam had the capacity to make free choices. Although they were given a righteous nature, Adam and Eve made an evil choice to rebel against their Creator. In so doing, they marred the image of God within themselves, and passed that damaged likeness on to all of their descendants, Romans 5:12. Today, we still bear the image of God according to James 3:9, but we also bear the scars of sin. Mentally, morally, socially, and physically, we show the effects of sin.

The good news is that when God redeems an individual, He begins to restore the original image of God, creating a "new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness", Ephesians 4:24. That redemption is only available by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from the sin that separates us from God, Ephesians 2:8-9. Through Christ, we are made new creations in the likeness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

From Ordinary to Great

Acts 4:13

Anyone who studies God’s ways soon realizes they are quite different from man’s ways. Worldly wisdom tells us that extraordinary people and abundant resources are needed for great tasks, yet the Lord often chooses the small and insignificant to achieve His purposes on earth.

For example, Christ selected a rather ordinary group of men as disciples, yet after being filled with the Spirit, they turned the world upside down. During His ministry on earth, Jesus fed thousands with a child’s meager lunch, and He viewed the widow’s two small coins as a greater offering than all the larger amounts given (John 6:5-12; Luke 21:2-3).

To accomplish His tasks, God specializes in using people who aren’t naturally qualified. Moses was a verbally impaired 80-year-old shepherd who liberated a nation. After Gideon hid from the enemy, God made him a valiant warrior. David was the overlooked youngest son, yet he killed a giant with a small stone and became Israel’s king and a man after God’s own heart.

The Lord isn’t looking for impressive people; He wants willing ones who will bow the knee in humble submission. Being weak and ordinary doesn’t make you useless. Rather, it positions you for a demonstration of divine power in your life. God delights in using our dependence to display His glory.

Have you ever considered that your lack of ability, talent, or skill is the ideal setting for a great display of Christ’s power and glory? If you are willing to submit to His leading and venture into the scary yet rewarding territory of faith and obedience, He will do great things in and through you.

Keith posted:

From Ordinary to Great

Acts 4:13

Anyone who studies God’s ways soon realizes they are quite different from man’s ways. Worldly wisdom tells us that extraordinary people and abundant resources are needed for great tasks, yet the Lord often chooses the small and insignificant to achieve His purposes on earth.

For example, Christ selected a rather ordinary group of men as disciples, yet after being filled with the Spirit, they turned the world upside down. During His ministry on earth, Jesus fed thousands with a child’s meager lunch, and He viewed the widow’s two small coins as a greater offering than all the larger amounts given (John 6:5-12; Luke 21:2-3).

To accomplish His tasks, God specializes in using people who aren’t naturally qualified. Moses was a verbally impaired 80-year-old shepherd who liberated a nation. After Gideon hid from the enemy, God made him a valiant warrior. David was the overlooked youngest son, yet he killed a giant with a small stone and became Israel’s king and a man after God’s own heart.

The Lord isn’t looking for impressive people; He wants willing ones who will bow the knee in humble submission. Being weak and ordinary doesn’t make you useless. Rather, it positions you for a demonstration of divine power in your life. God delights in using our dependence to display His glory.

Have you ever considered that your lack of ability, talent, or skill is the ideal setting for a great display of Christ’s power and glory? If you are willing to submit to His leading and venture into the scary yet rewarding territory of faith and obedience, He will do great things in and through you.

What kind of God you are talkin' about Willis? Did God use Donald Trump to accomplish his task? Gimme a break bro?

Obstacles to Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness can be defined as letting go of both resentment and the right to return hurt. On the other hand, unforgiveness demands that the guilty one pay for the wrong he or she did.

According to these definitions, unforgiveness looks very much like justice, and forgiveness seems inequitable. That’s why we have such a hard time with it. Forgiveness goes against our natural sense of fair play. Yet God calls us to forgive those who don’t deserve it!

To avoid offering a pardon, we dwell on the wrongdoing until our desire to retaliate seems totally justified. Convinced of our right to be angry, we demand repayment, thinking, Releasing a person from deserved punishment is unfair!

The Father faced the same dilemma. All humanity had sinned and deserved eternal separation from Him. He couldn’t simply forgive sin arbitrarily, because He’d then cease being just. Our forgiveness is possible only because divine justice was satisfied by the Son’s payment for our sins. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, God is free to righteously forgive us.

When we accepted the Lord’s forgiveness, we gave up all rights to hold anything against anyone else. An unforgiving heart is miserable because it is far from God, who is the source of all peace and joy.

Does the thought or sight of someone arouse harsh feelings within you? Holding onto a grievance will keep you imprisoned in emotional turmoil, but letting go will set you free. Christ has provided the key of forgiveness. Take hold of it, unlock the door, and walk out into the light.

Keith posted:

 

The Father faced the same dilemma. All humanity had sinned and deserved eternal separation from Him. He couldn’t simply forgive sin arbitrarily, because He’d then cease being just. Our forgiveness is possible only because divine justice was satisfied by the Son’s payment for our sins. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, God is free to righteously forgive us.

 

How silly does someone has to be to accept this crock?

If God forgiving people is arbitrarily is unjust how can God arbitrarily sacrificing his son be just?

What use is a God if he can only become free to forgive others is his son dies. That same son who Christians insist is still alive.

The biggest con job ever pulled.

The Process of Forgiving

Matthew 6:9-15

Forgiving those who have seriously hurt us is one of our most challenging assignments as believers. And merely having a desire to obey God or say the right words does not necessarily accomplish the task. Old memories and pain can slip back into the mind, stirring up emotions of anger and injustice.

Though we have a responsibility to take the initiative soon after suffering harm, forgiveness for deep hurts is a process. Begin immediately to prevent a root of bitterness from developing. But remember: The deeper the hurt, the more time it will take to work through forgiveness. Never become discouraged—the Lord will walk with you each step of the way.

Confession to God is the beginning of the process. Come before Him, admitting any resentment and acknowledging it as sin. As you lay your anger and hurt before the Lord, let Him begin to heal your broken heart.

Sometimes the process can also involve going to the offender and confessing your sinful attitude toward him or her. This is a time not to build your case or itemize the culprit’s wrongs but simply to admit your own. Although the offense against you may seem greater than your unforgiving attitude, avoid the temptation to rank sins. And leave judgment to God.

Forgiveness brings freedom from the agitation that accompanies resentment. In working through the process, you’ll begin to see through God’s eyes—and with His compassion—when you look at the person who hurt you. Eventually, you will be able to thank the Lord for the opportunity to learn forgiveness and live in His lavish grace.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

 

The Father faced the same dilemma. All humanity had sinned and deserved eternal separation from Him. He couldn’t simply forgive sin arbitrarily, because He’d then cease being just. Our forgiveness is possible only because divine justice was satisfied by the Son’s payment for our sins. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, God is free to righteously forgive us.

 

How silly does someone has to be to accept this crock?

If God forgiving people is arbitrarily is unjust how can God arbitrarily sacrificing his son be just?

What use is a God if he can only become free to forgive others is his son dies. That same son who Christians insist is still alive.

The biggest con job ever pulled.

You are a waste of time trying to communicate with. You clearly don't read and understand anything about the bible. This fact is innumerable here on this forum. Previous of such was when YOU stated, "Adam, Eve and Satan were perfect when they originally lived in heaven" You are a laughing stock dude; clearly shows your ignorance towards understand. The biggest communication problem is YOU don't listed to understand YOU listen to reply.

Go read and get some understanding...for your own sake. While you at it ask yourself these few questions.

Are animals still being offer up as a sin offering, are the Jews, Christians or Muslims doing so? What changed or have not changed?

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

 

The Father faced the same dilemma. All humanity had sinned and deserved eternal separation from Him. He couldn’t simply forgive sin arbitrarily, because He’d then cease being just. Our forgiveness is possible only because divine justice was satisfied by the Son’s payment for our sins. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, God is free to righteously forgive us.

 

How silly does someone has to be to accept this crock?

If God forgiving people is arbitrarily is unjust how can God arbitrarily sacrificing his son be just?

What use is a God if he can only become free to forgive others is his son dies. That same son who Christians insist is still alive.

The biggest con job ever pulled.

You are a waste of time trying to communicate with. You clearly don't read and understand anything about the bible. This fact is innumerable here on this forum. Previous of such was when YOU stated, "Adam, Eve and Satan were perfect when they originally lived in heaven" You are a laughing stock dude; clearly shows your ignorance towards understand. The biggest communication problem is YOU don't listed to understand YOU listen to reply.

Go read and get some understanding...for your own sake. While you at it ask yourself these few questions.

Are animals still being offer up as a sin offering, are the Jews, Christians or Muslims doing so? What changed or have not changed?

What does your response have to do with your comment above?  What worth is God if he has limitations? He is not worth his plate of rice if he needs someone else to shed blood to make him free to forgive.

Secondly, from the beginning, those who sacrificed animals for some religious benefit were highly misguided. So are those who feel that God needs to shed a man's life for the same reason.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

 

The Father faced the same dilemma. All humanity had sinned and deserved eternal separation from Him. He couldn’t simply forgive sin arbitrarily, because He’d then cease being just. Our forgiveness is possible only because divine justice was satisfied by the Son’s payment for our sins. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, God is free to righteously forgive us.

 

How silly does someone has to be to accept this crock?

If God forgiving people is arbitrarily is unjust how can God arbitrarily sacrificing his son be just?

What use is a God if he can only become free to forgive others is his son dies. That same son who Christians insist is still alive.

The biggest con job ever pulled.

You are a waste of time trying to communicate with. You clearly don't read and understand anything about the bible. This fact is innumerable here on this forum. Previous of such was when YOU stated, "Adam, Eve and Satan were perfect when they originally lived in heaven" You are a laughing stock dude; clearly shows your ignorance towards understand. The biggest communication problem is YOU don't listed to understand YOU listen to reply.

Go read and get some understanding...for your own sake. While you at it ask yourself these few questions.

Are animals still being offer up as a sin offering, are the Jews, Christians or Muslims doing so? What changed or have not changed?

What does your response have to do with your comment above?  What worth is God if he has limitations? He is not worth his plate of rice if he needs someone else to shed blood to make him free to forgive.

Secondly, from the beginning, those who sacrificed animals for some religious benefit were highly misguided. So are those who feel that God needs to shed a man's life for the same reason.

Everything to do with your ignorance towards understanding.

Investing in Eternity

Matthew 28:18-20

The Christian life is an active life—one dedicated to working, serving, sharing, and helping. Too often we think that being a believer simply means showing up for church each Sunday morning and dropping something into the offering plate. That’s a good habit, but if it’s the sum of your commitment, you’ve missed the mark.

There is a call that the Lord put on everyone who would follow Him—namely, He’s called us to go into the world and make disciples. You may say, “Well, that applies just to missionaries and ministers, right?” No. Teaching others about the Savior is the responsibility of all who claim the name of Jesus.

Just look at the first word of Matthew 28:19. What does Jesus say? His charge to us is “Go!” In today’s terms, He’s saying, “Get out of your comfort zone. Go love someone who’s different than you. Get up, look at the world around you, and tell someone about Me.”

This is not a suggestion. Nor is it a word to only a handful of believers. If you’ve been saved by the blood of Christ, then Jesus is talking to you!

Making disciples doesn’t mean you must quit your job and become a full-time missionary to some remote region. But you could walk outside, knock on a neighbor’s door, and demonstrate the love of Christ to that person. You don’t need a show-stopping sermon to minister to others; you simply need a willing, open heart.

What can you do right now to make disciples? Think about the steps you can take today to respond to God’s call on your life.

cain posted:

Oi Kaz..BroKeith gonna make you a disciple if you drop your guard.

Cainsta bai, my guess is that bro Keith has not made any new disciples on GNI. If folks agree with his sermons that would only be because they were already followers of the Gospels. Sermons don't appeal to outsiders. Discussions and thought provoking arguments do. Bro Keith doesn't seem equipped for that.

It has been nearly a decade now since I decided that I will keep preachers and politicians at arms length.

Expressions of God’s Goodness

Lamentations 3:22-25

Imagine someone asking you if God has been good to you. What ideas pop into your head? Do you think about material possessions like a luxury car or a big house? Those things are nice, but even if you do not have any external signs of His blessing, you can still say that God has been good.

God’s goodness is expressed through His mercy. We usually talk about the Lord’s mercy in relation to His salvation plan, which provides for our rescue from slavery to sin. However, God is also concerned when we are suffering. The blind beggar Bartimaeus called out to Jesus for mercy, and the Lord responded by healing the man’s eyes (Mark 10:46-52). Nothing in Bartimaeus deserved mercy, but it is God’s nature to respond to the needs of His beloved children.

God’s goodness is expressed through His grace. None of us, no matter how well behaved we might be, deserve God’s favor. Yet because we are helpless to save ourselves, the Lord in His goodness took our guilt upon Himself and suffered the death penalty in our place. Upon salvation, we are invited to live by God’s grace and thereby constantly receive His support and help.

God’s goodness is expressed through His love. The Pacific Ocean, as vast as it is, seems like barely a drop compared to the Lord’s boundless love. No sin we can commit could ever place us beyond the reach of His faithfulness.

Think of all that the Father has done for you! He sent His son Jesus to die for your sins. Now He offers you mercy and grace to live by. The heavenly Father is indeed good.

A Model of Hospitality

3 John 1:1-8

After reading today’s passage, can you name the man to whom John addressed this letter? We’d be wise to take note of Gaius because John describes him as a beloved elder who walked in truth, acted faithfully in whatever he did, and loved strangers who visited the church as traveling evangelists and teachers.

Although this letter was written to Gaius around A.D. 90, the first mention of him in Scripture is over 30 years earlier, during Paul’s third missionary trip. He was originally from Derbe in Asia Minor—a town Paul visited on his first two journeys. Gaius apparently left home to accompany the apostle on his last trip; during that time he was dragged by a mob into a theater in Ephesus because of Paul’s preaching (Acts 19:28-32). He was also part of a group of men who traveled with Paul through Macedonia (Acts 20:4).

Since Gaius was a common name, some scholars wonder if the Bible’s referring to several men. But either way, his hospitality, love, and faithful service to the church are noteworthy. In Corinth, Gaius served as host not only for Paul but also for the entire church (Romans 16:23). And he was still practicing hospitality and serving as an elder when John wrote to him several decades later.

Hospitality isn’t reserved only for those who find it easy. Romans 12:9-21 contains a long list of commands that apply to all believers, and among them are admonitions to contribute to the needs of the saints and practice hospitality (v. 13). Gaius is a wonderful example for us because he was willing to be inconvenienced and open his home to the believers he knew as well as to those he didn’t.

The Passion to Obey

John 14:15

For a sermon I wrote several years ago, I jotted down a list and titled it “The Evolution of a Passion to Obey God.” A passion to obey the Lord doesn’t typically just spring up, full-blown, when we get saved. We do enter our new life in Christ with a desire to please Him, but a determined pursuit of His will develops more slowly and over time.

In fact, when we first believe, we’re typically motivated by fear concerning the consequences of disobedience. This barely qualifies as reverence for God, because it’s more about us than Him. But as we progress in our faith and form a commitment to obey the Lord, we develop a deep love for and devotion to Christ. Wouldn’t you rather follow Him out of love than out of fear?

Progressing from one motivation to the other begins with what you might expect: a growing knowledge of the Lord. As we dig into God’s Word, we learn who He is—His heart, His character, His will. We begin to see how He has provided in the past and trust that He’ll provide in the future. People like Mary, David, and Paul weren’t satisfied with what the world had to offer, and we won’t be either once we witness God’s hand at work. We’ll recognize the wisdom of obeying our heavenly Father—not just because of the promised blessings, but because He knows what’s best and loves us.

Where are you on the spectrum between fear and devotion? It is my hope that you’ve committed to obeying God and that you’re reading His Word daily to learn how to stay faithful to those intentions. God wants your best—your passionate pursuit of His will—and is giving His best to you.

Bro Keith have you checked any of the threads by yugi? The one on "Life's amazing secrets" wasn't too bad, only problem I had was on occasion another language was thrown in and I couldn't understand what was being said but the majority is in English.

A Commitment to Obey

Psalm 1:1-6

Scripture proclaims God’s great power and majesty while also revealing His deep mercy and love. He is worthy of wholehearted, passionate submission but doesn’t often get it. Are you among the few who offer themselves to Him without reservation?

Complete obedience is a choice to follow God regardless of the consequences. This means that we obey the Lord even if our friends choose a different path or when suffering and embarrassment are guaranteed. Seeing His will done is more important than our own comfort or personal ambition. We commit the consequences to God and cling to His promises: He will never leave us (Deut. 31:6), and He makes good out of every situation (Rom. 8:28).

Notice the word commitment in the title of today’s devotion. I’m not writing about obedience that is born of the moment (as in, I choose to follow God in this instance) but about total submission as a way of life. Setting restrictions on compliance is so tempting—we want to be able to change our mind when obeying upsets our lifestyle, the final result is unclear, or we’re just plain scared. But let me ask you this one sobering question: If Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, what right do you have to limit how and when you’ll do His will?

Believers have no right to set their own limits; their one criterion for making decisions should be, What does God want me to do? The answer at times may cause suffering, but obedience is always right. And following God in all things is the surest path to favor and spiritual growth.

cain posted:

Bro Keith have you checked any of the threads by yugi? The one on "Life's amazing secrets" wasn't too bad, only problem I had was on occasion another language was thrown in and I couldn't understand what was being said but the majority is in English.

I have not look at the entirety of the video. Why you asked?

Sufficient Grace

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I thought the Christian life was going to be easier than this. Have these words ever entered your mind? Sometimes we come before our heavenly Father, thinking that He will fix all of our problems and devote Himself to our happiness and comfort. However, that is not the reality portrayed in Scripture. The apostle Paul was a man whom the Lord used greatly, and yet his life was anything but easy.

In fact, at one point Paul thought his pain was too much to bear, and he begged God to remove it. There’s nothing wrong with asking the Lord to relieve our suffering, but what should our response be if He doesn’t? The apostle probably had no idea that His experience would find its way into the Bible, to comfort and guide believers throughout the ages. The promise God gave him applies to us as well: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God’s grace could be defined as His provision for us at the point of our need. The problem is, there may be times when it doesn’t seem the Lord is truly meeting our need. But He frequently sees deficiencies, outcomes, and complications that we don’t. His goals for us involve spiritual growth, the development of Christlike character, and strong faith. And trials play a vital role in achieving such things.

The important issue is how we respond. If all you want is relief, you could descend into anger and doubt. But if your desire is to become the person God wants you to be, you’ll see each trial as an opportunity for Christ to display His character and strength in you.

Keith posted:
cain posted:

Just wanted your take on it.

You are attempting to have me say something disparaging about Yugi videos or comments, it's not happening brother.

I beg your pardon!

Can you not converse on any other matter than what you copy and paste here? In that particular video the swami (or whatever the head dude is called)  made mention of being a good Christian which I found quite interesting coming from his teachings/religion.

Your post to me show you think in the negative, perhaps you should learn what it is to be a good Christian.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
cain posted:

Just wanted your take on it.

You are attempting to have me say something disparaging about Yugi videos or comments, it's not happening brother.

Why do you think that your response would have to be disparaging?

I don't have a need to critical of Yugi belief. Did he challenge me about my belief, No! So why should I make comments about what he's posting.

cain posted:
Keith posted:
cain posted:

Just wanted your take on it.

You are attempting to have me say something disparaging about Yugi videos or comments, it's not happening brother.

I beg your pardon!

Can you not converse on any other matter than what you copy and paste here? In that particular video the swami (or whatever the head dude is called)  made mention of being a good Christian which I found quite interesting coming from his teachings/religion.

Your post to me show you think in the negative, perhaps you should learn what it is to be a good Christian.

You should learn what is conjecture. As I stated before I never look at the video in its entirety. I've no intent on making any comments about Yugi post.

cain posted:

Conjecture is exactly what you are guilty of. 

Proverbs 18:2. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his own opinion.

Did you see where I mention I didn't look at the video in its entirety, so why should I comment without having full knowledge of what was being said.

cain posted:

Conjecture is exactly what you are guilty of. 

Proverbs 18:2. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his own opinion.

Proverbs 15:28. The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

Resisting Fleshly Appetites

Ephesians 2:1-7

The Holy Spirit guides believers to make wise and godly decisions. But when Christians fail to listen, they can instead make choices that appeal to the flesh.

After the serpent spoke to Eve, she no doubt took a long look at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17; Gen. 3:3, Gen. 3:6). Whatever she might have thought about the tree before, she now saw it with new eyes— flesh-focused eyes. Genesis 3 tells us that the forbidden tree appealed to Eve in three ways: It was good for food, delightful to look at, and desirable to make one wise.

In other words, the tree could fulfill three legitimate human appetites: the desire for tasty meals, beauty, and wisdom. There is nothing wrong with these God-given yearnings. The Lord created a variety of food and an earth filled with breathtaking sights so that people could enjoy them. He also offers the Holy Spirit as a source of His true wisdom and knowledge. In fact, it is the Spirit who teaches believers to keep fleshly appetites under control and in balance.

Meanwhile, Satan works hard to corrupt healthy desires. He abhors seeing people’s appetites satisfied. What he wants is to watch a person lusting after a good thing until he or she is controlled by the impulse to have it.

The devil is pleased when people make themselves slaves to a desire that—in the proper context—the Lord intended to be enjoyed freely. A believer walking in the Holy Spirit rejects gluttony, preferring desires that are within God’s boundaries instead. That’s how we get His very best.

Who Are “the Lost”?

Luke 19:1-10

Zaccheus worked as a chief tax collector for the Roman government. His profession caused him to be despised by his fellow Jews. When Jesus sought him out and asked to visit his home, the crowd was dismayed—the Lord was associating with someone whose conduct made him a sinner in their eyes. The Savior responded, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The word lost is a biblical term used to describe the spiritual situation of everyone who has yet to receive Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. In this state, a person is separated from God—there is physical life but no spiritual connection to the heavenly Father. Lost doesn’t have to do with physical location; it speaks instead of spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1), when the mind is blind to the truth of God.

Man’s sinfulness was established through the disobedient action of the first human being—Adam. When he supported Eve’s plan and disobeyed God, his nature became one of rebellion, and all generations from then on have inherited his sinful flesh tendencies. Everyone is born into this world with a nature bent away from God (Rom. 5:12).

Zaccheus was a sinner because of his lost condition, not because of his greedy profession. Good behavior doesn’t make us a Christian, nor does bad conduct disqualify us. The tax collector received salvation through faith in Jesus. By trusting in Christ as Savior, we, like Zaccheus, are no longer lost; we’re made spiritually alive. Hallelujah!

Loved but Lost

John 3:16-19

Through faith in Jesus, we move from our lost condition to adoption into God’s family. Unless we trust in Christ, we face permanent alienation from the heavenly Father. On judgment day, each person’s eternal destiny will be determined, based on that individual’s spiritual state. Members of God’s family will live in heaven with Him. But those who remain blind to divine truth, which is found only in Jesus, will be sent away to live in eternal torment (Revelation 20:12-15).

Many people struggle to reconcile this teaching with the concept of a loving God. They reason that love would not condemn anyone to torment. The truth is, the Father desires reconciliation with man—not separation. His love for us motivated Him to provide all we need to receive forgiveness and thereby be reconciled to Him. It is man’s choice to refuse or accept God’s provision of Jesus as the remedy to the sin problem. An unsaved person can’t blame God for his eternal state; his suffering will be due to his own rebellion against the Lord.

A second common objection says, “Love would accept people on the basis of their moral lives and good deeds.” This argument assumes that God ignores sin and bases His decision about heaven on behavior. But since He is holy and just, He won’t allow sin to go unpunished. Because of His great love, however, He provided a way for our sin debt to be paid—through Jesus’ atoning death.

God shows no favoritism. He extends love toward the whole lost world and invites everyone to come to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

God’s Answers to Prayer

Matthew 7:7-11

Too often, believers view God as a great cosmic Santa Claus: We think of our prayers not as petitions but as demands. Then, if God does not grant our request, we’re thrown into a faith crisis, believing He no longer answers us. The real problem, however, is that we misunderstand the Lord’s three answers to prayer:

1. Yes. We love this response! There is nothing more exhilarating or faith-inspiring than to watch the Lord move mountains to provide what we once considered impossible.

2. No. Here is where the problems begin for us. But we must accept the fact that God says no to some of our requests. This is certainly not because He’s greedy or uncaring—on the contrary, He is generous, loving, and concerned about His children.

Matthew 7:11 does not say God will give “everything to those who ask Him,” does it? No, it says that the heavenly Father will give what is good to those who ask. Quite often, giving “what is good” means that He doesn’t agree to things He knows are wrong for us.

3. Wait. This answer can be even harder than a flat-out no. Yet some things that are good and godly may still be wrong for us today. Remember, God is eternal; He sees all time at the same time. If He regards tomorrow’s blessing as a curse today, He’ll withhold it for a season until we’re ready to receive it.

Friend, do not be misled if God’s response isn’t what you expected—or wanted—to hear. Instead, praise the Lord for answering our requests the way He knows they should be answered!

Time for Success

Ephesians 5:15-17

Every night before falling asleep, I write down my goals for the following day. Upon waking, I read through the list in order to focus my energy on what is most important. If this were not part of my routine, the limited hours available would not be utilized effectively.

The Bible clearly teaches us to use our days wisely. Time is a gift. Almighty God has given each person a span of days to live on earth. But our life is fleeting and uncertain—James compares it to a vapor that “appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Time is also irrevocable—we cannot simply go back and start over.

Considering this, it is foolish to waste such a precious resource. Yet all too often we do. Let’s be alert so we can avoid the following hindrances to living fully and purposefully:

Misplaced priorities result in wasted opportunities. Our values will determine the emphasis we place on each activity and the amount of time we allot to it.

Procrastination and perfectionism soak up valuable time. Avoiding both will help us make the most of our contributions to the kingdom of God.

Lack of concentration drains time of its potential. For example, we have to train ourselves to focus on reading God’s Word and not to get sidetracked.

What values determine how you utilize your time? Is there something that keeps you from living each moment in a way that pleases the Lord? Since it’s not possible to redo days you wish had turned out differently, ask God’s guidance and live more intentionally.

Using Time Well

Matthew 25:14-28

The Lord gives us resources and abilities, and He desires that we use them well. One such gift is time.

In order to manage our coming days effectively, we should continually review the one we’ve just lived: What activities did we choose? How much time did each take? What were the results? This discipline will reveal what is most important to us.

In looking closely at our assessments, we can determine what drives our decisions about how to use time. Some people merely respond to circumstances for a majority of their day. They jump from one thing to the next, handling whatever appears in their world at the moment—whether personal, family, or business matters. But this style of living misses the mark.

Other people spend their time according to desires. They want to relax, so they get home and watch television for the evening. Or they love to hunt, so they use their time to research equipment and locate wildlife in the forest. Desires are not bad, but they should not drive the bulk of our actions.

Thankfully, there are also people who live according to what they deem important. Loving God and serving others, for instance, are two biblical values that should, ideally, determine what we do with our time.

If you itemize your activities and their time consumption over the course of a week, you might be surprised at which are the predominant events. Each moment is a gift, so set aside a few minutes each evening to plan the next day. Then revisit how you spent the last 24 hours. This will help you to live purposefully.

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!

The Rewards of Patience

Luke 11:9-10

Photography has taught me a great deal about patience. My team and I once spent four days waiting to photograph the Matterhorn in Switzerland—inclement weather kept the peak totally hidden. On the last night of my stay, I went to sleep praying. Very early the next morning, I opened my eyes to see that huge white mountain glistening against the pitch-black sky. I was amazed to discover the modest hotel we’d selected had a view of the mountain!

Rather than wait until we reach heaven, the Lord sends many blessings to us now. However, we must not get ahead of Him if we hope to receive His gifts. Several things happen when we choose to be patient.

1. We see God at work. His way is the best way, and we become more aware of this when we observe Him working out His plan in our life.

2. We can achieve our objectives. The Lord knows the right moment to provide what we want or need. If we give up too soon or try to manipulate circumstances, we miss out on the fullness of what He wants to bestow.

3. We have God’s favor. When we are patiently waiting for His will, then He can freely bless us. The heavenly Father certainly wants to pour out His love on our life.

We are blessed when we abide patiently in God’s will. Unfortunately, we will all face circumstances in which we are tempted to be impatient. What determines whether or not we express patience is the value we place on whoever else is involved—another believer, a friend, a coworker, or God. Do you value the Lord enough to be patient with His timing?

Keith posted:

The Rewards of Patience

Luke 11:9-10

Photography has taught me a great deal about patience. My team and I once spent four days waiting to photograph the Matterhorn in Switzerland—inclement weather kept the peak totally hidden. On the last night of my stay, I went to sleep praying. Very early the next morning, I opened my eyes to see that huge white mountain glistening against the pitch-black sky. I was amazed to discover the modest hotel we’d selected had a view of the mountain!

Rather than wait until we reach heaven, the Lord sends many blessings to us now. However, we must not get ahead of Him if we hope to receive His gifts. Several things happen when we choose to be patient.

1. We see God at work. His way is the best way, and we become more aware of this when we observe Him working out His plan in our life.

2. We can achieve our objectives. The Lord knows the right moment to provide what we want or need. If we give up too soon or try to manipulate circumstances, we miss out on the fullness of what He wants to bestow.

3. We have God’s favor. When we are patiently waiting for His will, then He can freely bless us. The heavenly Father certainly wants to pour out His love on our life.

We are blessed when we abide patiently in God’s will. Unfortunately, we will all face circumstances in which we are tempted to be impatient. What determines whether or not we express patience is the value we place on whoever else is involved—another believer, a friend, a coworker, or God. Do you value the Lord enough to be patient with His timing?

You must have been easily fooled growing up by the boys around. Did they ever take your marbles and ran home, telling you that tomorrow they will double what they took?

When Facing Life’s Mountains

Zechariah 4:1-10

Today’s passage describes a vision God gave to Zechariah. In it, the mountain is an illustration of a barrier or hindrance. We might wonder what these strange dreams can teach us today, but though the imagery is foreign, the principles are repeated throughout the Bible and are still relevant for our lives.

Zerubbabel, leader of Judah, and a group of 50,000 people had been released by their Babylonian captors to return to Jerusalem. There, God’s people began to rebuild the walls of the temple, but they were attacked by those living nearby. Consequently, the people became discouraged and were ready to give up.

In verse 6, God reminded Zerubbabel through Zechariah that progress is made “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” In other words, when God calls us to a task, He Himself assumes responsibility for removing hindrances. God went on to ask, “What are you, O great mountain?” (v. 7). Nothing but flatland would remain once He worked through Zerubbabel.

We are not to face seemingly insurmountable tasks in our own strength. Instead, we’re to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We are like the lampstand that was to be kept continually burning in the temple. In Zechariah’s dream, the olive trees on each side of the lampstand were pouring oil directly into its bowl, with no help from the priests. The Holy Spirit was acting as the olive trees—He was God’s promise of continual help to the weary people. We, too, can trust the Lord to pour His Spirit into our life for help when we face a mountain of an obstacle.

Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

1 Samuel 30:1-8

After an exhausting three-day journey, David and his men finally arrived home to find a scene of devastation. Their homes were burned to the ground, and their families were missing. Utter despair engulfed them. David’s distress soon increased when his men’s grief turned into bitter anger and they spoke of stoning him.

Most of us won’t experience this extreme a situation, but we can identify with David’s discouragement. Sometimes despair follows a personal tragedy or loss, but it can also result from the weariness of ongoing daily pressures. Family problems, financial difficulties, and health issues may make discouragement a constant companion. The same can happen with emotional struggles over feelings of unworthiness, failure to overcome an addictive habit, the pain of criticism, or fear of inadequacy.

Despair can afflict anyone unexpectedly, but the Lord doesn’t want us to linger in a fog of depression. We often can’t avoid the situations that lead us into discouragement, but we do have a choice whether to stay in that condition. Instead of caving in to misery, David chose to strengthen himself in the Lord. He recognized that God was the only one who could give him the proper perspective on the problem and provide the guidance he needed.

When you’re discouraged, where do you turn? Perhaps the last thing you want to do is read Scripture and pray—initially, the passages may seem like meaningless words, and your prayers might feel empty. But if you persist in crying out to God, you’ll eventually experience His comforting strength.

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!

Keith posted:

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!

I have been waiting for 50 years. I probably need to phone him and ask him what's taking so long.

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!

Expectation of Suffering

Philippians 1:27-30

One of the greatest gifts we can give new believers is the knowledge of what they can expect in the Christian life. After receiving the forgiveness of sins and being made new creations in Jesus Christ, they might expect that life will be wonderful from that point forward. And indeed, it is because we have the Holy Spirit and Christ’s peace and joy within us. However, there is also the potential for suffering.

Christ saved us from sin, not from trouble. All the pain, suffering, hardship, and problems in the world originated in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve’s transgression. From then on, mankind has lived in a fallen environment and in personal bondage to sin. Christ set us free from the guilt and penalty of our wrongdoing, but He has not exempted us from the pain and trouble that is common to man.

In fact, once we believe in Christ, an additional area of trouble becomes possible in our life: suffering for Christ’s sake. We’d like to think that everyone around us will be just as excited about Jesus’ offer of salvation as we are. But in reality, there are many opponents to the gospel. At times family members may disparage or reject us and people at work make fun of us. In some areas of the world, believers suffer physical and even fatal persecution.

So what are we to do, and how are we to behave? When the world stands against us, we desperately need the fellowship and encouragement of the church. Together, we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, stand firm in one spirit, and strive together for the faith.

Test Yourself

Hebrews 3:12-19, Hebrews 4:1-2

Many of us love the Bible because it’s filled with words of assurance, promise, and encouragement. However, it also contains warnings that we’d be wise to consider and heed. Like the nation of Israel in the wilderness, the church throughout history has also had some people who were characterized by unbelief.

Jesus said that although many call Him Lord, the proof of salvation is displayed in an obedient life (Matt. 7:13-23). You may have noticed the fruit of salvation—or the lack of it—in your church. Consider the following signs that may indicate a person in need of salvation:

• They are oftentimes involved in conflict and disunity in the church because they lack the fruit of the Spirit.

• Sometimes they prefer the spectator role and are reluctant to get involved or make a commitment to a local congregation of believers.

• If they are serving in the church, they may feel frustrated because they are trying to do the supernatural work of God without the power of His Spirit.

• They have trouble understanding the Bible but little desire to read it.

• Because they are resisting the Spirit’s conviction, they are uncomfortable or irritated when the pastor gives an invitation for salvation.

The purpose of God’s warning isn’t to have us judge the salvation of others; rather, He wants us to both examine ourselves and lead people to the truth. The consequences are eternal, so it’s important to do as Scripture says: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Pray that God will enable you to point others to Jesus—and that He’ll help you to grow ever more Christlike.

Misplaced Priorities

Luke 12:16-21

The Lord’s parable of the foolish wealthy man is a study in misplaced priorities. Modern believers can learn from three mistakes he made: providing for himself, not others; providing for his body, not his spirit; and providing for this life, not the one to come.

There is a penalty for misplaced priorities. This foolish man passed away with no opportunity to enjoy his goods. What’s even worse, he died with a bankrupt soul.

Serving the Lord and His kingdom is the key to setting correct goals. When believers make service for God a main concern, they will use a lens of righteousness to order their priorities. The question we ought to be asking is not “What shall I do?” but rather “Lord, what would You have me do?” The answer—which should be prayerfully sought and biblically evaluated—dictates which things we must put first in order to achieve God’s purpose for us.

Life is not something that simply happens to people. Where we are today is largely determined by the way we prioritized our concerns in previous months and years. This means that we can positively impact our future by organizing our priorities according to biblical guidelines. Then, unlike the foolish man in Jesus’ parable, we will learn the eternal value of providing for others so that our own soul is fed. More than that, we will “store up for [our]selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:20).

How to Set Right Priorities

Matthew 6:33

The Scriptures contain many cautionary examples of men and women who had misplaced priorities. Often, these are the otherwise godly people who had a momentary lapse. This should give every believer pause to consider the importance of taking captive detrimental thoughts and desires.

For good purposes or bad, we set priorities in one of three ways: by evaluating which things ought to carry the most importance; by succumbing to pressure and letting people or circumstances dictate how we should prioritize; or by drifting into habits and modes of thinking that become a way of life. Wise believers will certainly want to avoid the drifting option, as this approach accompanies a life that feels meaningless. And priorities ought to be in place before we face trying circumstances and people—in that way, we can be steadfast in our commitment. The only viable choice, then, is to prioritize deliberately. We do so by setting a goal to live in accordance with God’s purpose and plan.

The priorities we choose are determined by what we value. Sometimes, though, prioritizing can be frustrating since there are so many distractions diverting our focus.

If we consider a right relationship with God to be of utmost importance, then we will put first those actions and thoughts that strengthen our connection with Him. We need to be disciplined in following our goals, because living purposefully is rarely easy. However, the good news is that God knows our heart, and He will honor our sincere attempts to put Him first.

Responding to Closed Doors

1 Samuel 13:1-14

As believers, we want to follow God’s will for our life, but sometimes we don’t know which way to go. Perhaps we’re standing at a crossroads, wondering which pathway is the Lord’s. Or maybe after making good progress, we suddenly encounter a closed door. What are we to do when the path we want to travel is blocked?

Imagine yourself standing at one of these doors. First, you try the knob, but it won’t budge. So you pull out your keys and look for one that fits. When that fails, you call your friends to ask if they know how to open it. Finally, in frustration, you grab a crowbar and pry the door open. The problem with all these methods is that they won’t get you where the heavenly Father wants you to go.

King Saul found this out when he pried open a door the Lord had closed. He should have waited for Samuel, as only the priests were allowed to offer sacrifices. But Saul looked around at the circumstances, became frightened, and took matters into his own hands. Instead of standing at the door, trusting in the Lord, and waiting for Him to open it at the right time, Saul forced his way in, and as a result, lost his kingdom.

The costs of disobedience are always higher than the benefits of pushing through a closed door. If the Lord has sealed off an entry, it’s for your protection. The right response is to wait patiently and be faithful in your present situation. In time, He’ll either open the door or redirect you to the path that leads to His will.

A Spiritual Pottery Lesson

Isaiah 64:8

I decided to take a cue from the prophet Jeremiah, who visited a potter’s studio at the Lord’s request (Jer. 18:1-6). So I stopped by an art institute to observe a class—my sole purpose was to better understand the biblical metaphor of God as the Potter and people as the clay. Here’s what I learned when I walked into a room full of whirring pottery wheels.

The Potter has power over the clay. He can do what He chooses. We humans do have limited free will, but God’s will is greater. So even if we try to resist His sculpting hand, He continues to work toward His purpose. The master Craftsman has set out to achieve a particular design in us, and He has a plan to make it take shape.

The Potter works the clay with patience. Since God knows that spiritual maturity can’t be rushed, He forms our Christlike character slowly—one experience at a time. That means He must also have perseverance, as human clay sometimes shifts off-center and becomes misshapen. Just as clay can be fashioned only when it sits precisely in the middle of the wheel, Christians must be in the Father’s will to grow spiritually. The Potter maneuvers the drifting believer back into position and begins remolding. He never discards His vessels but tirelessly works to perfect them.

Our God is a personal Potter. His creations reflect His personality and character. And His Spirit is poured into each human vessel so He can be an intimate part of our life. The result is a work of true beauty—a saint wholly committed to Him.

Hindrances to Hearing

1 Kings 19:8-18

Have you ever put a seashell to your ear? The common belief is that if you do so, and if you stay perfectly still and quiet, then you can hear the sound of the ocean inside the shell. It seems unlikely, yet when we try it, we always seem to hear something, don’t we?

There are many things in life that we simply cannot hear until we become quiet and focus our hearing intently. When we concentrate on a shell, we hear the ocean. But what can we expect if we turn our attention to God?

In today’s passage, we see Elijah in desperate need of a word from the Lord. First a mighty wind blows through the mountains where he is resting, but God is not in the wind. Then an earthquake shakes the very ground, but God isn’t in the earthquake, either. Finally a brilliant, consuming fire appears, but Elijah knows this is also not God.

Then, after the dramatic occurrence of these three mighty forces—all of which could have been a fine representation of God’s power—the Lord approaches in a gentle breeze. And Elijah recognizes Him immediately.

God does not always speak to us in the way we expect. It is possible to expend so much energy searching for Him in the powerful, distracting “noise” of life that we can overlook His most intense call—which often comes through silence.

What might God be whispering to you today? Calm your mind and become quiet before Him; He may just shock your senses with His compelling, small voice.

Seeking the Lord

Hosea 10:12

As Christians, we all probably spend some time seeking the Lord, but to be truly successful at it, we must learn to adjust our focus. The reason focus is important is that what we behold, we become. If we fix our attention on the sensual and materialistic, it won’t be long before we ourselves start leaning in that direction. Try giving up television for a couple weeks, and see how it impacts your mind. While you might not notice its influence, it actually has a subtle but gripping effect on you and alters the way you think.

On the other hand, if you focus your love and attention on Jesus, you will become like Him. It’s almost like osmosis—we absorb His characteristics as He pours Himself into us. We can fix our mind on Him when we pray, when we study the Scriptures, and when we meditate on God’s truths.

But more than that is involved. We must go deeper, to the point that we are listening and sharing our hearts with Him. If we are open and transparent before Him, He will speak and fill us with Himself.

When we learn to receive from Him in this way, we’ll find that our hunger and thirst for everything else begins to diminish. It’s not that our desires will disappear, but instead, they become redirected.

You will discover you have a growing hunger for the Lord and a longing to know Him in a warm and personal way. And you will notice your joy bubbling up and overflowing so that it cannot be stopped or stifled. Why? Because once you have begun to seek the Lord, you will recognize Him as your all-in-all.

Resisting Compromise

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Yesterday, we saw how King Solomon’s life illustrated the peril of compromise. Concession begins in a seemingly insignificant way. For instance, someone might want you to make a financial decision that you know in your heart is unwise. But you go along with the plan because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. You have compromised the message of the Holy Spirit, who warned you.

Small compromises lead to more serious ones. With each successive concession, our conscience is weakened. Ultimately, whenever we give way to evil—whether we let go of a doctrinal belief or simply listen to music that taints our thoughts—we always lose.

We compromise for a variety of reasons. Many do so from a fear of rejection or of being unappreciated. Some choose this route to avoid conflict. Still others may begin to doubt God’s trustworthiness or goodness; as a result, they give up on Him, compromising their basic beliefs and undermining their reason for assurance.

To be men and women who are strong enough to resist making concessions, we need to develop some essential armor. First, we must have strong convictions about the Bible and depend on it as a guide for daily living. Next, we need to have faith in God’s promise to supply all of our needs. Finally, we must find the courage to trust in Him, even when we are misunderstood, persecuted, or falsely accused. When we surrender our life to God, He replaces enslavement to compromise with security in Him.

Called to Ministry

Colossians 4:7-18

The last chapter of Colossians contains a long list of people who served alongside Paul. What’s not highlighted in these verses is these individuals’ talents, skills, abilities, wealth, or position in society. Instead, Paul focuses their character, their service for Christ, and his love and appreciation for each one.

We are each called to ministry in one form or another. Although we tend to think of ministry as something that’s done inside a church, in reality it encompasses everything we do all week long, no matter where we are. In God’s eyes, there’s no division between sacred and secular activities.

For example, while Luke was a physician by profession, he was also an evangelist, a missionary, and a divinely inspired writer of Scripture. His career was not his primary source of purpose and self-fulfillment; rather, it was a means through which he served Christ by ministering to others. A faithful friend and traveling companion to Paul, Luke offered him encouragement and comfort until the day of the apostle’s execution (2 Tim. 4:11).

Luke was perfectly suited for the work the Lord planned for him. He had an analytical, detailed mind which made him a skilled doctor. It also served him in carefully investigating and writing an accurate account of Jesus’ life (the gospel of Luke) and the events of the early church (the book of Acts).

Each of us has been created and fitted by God to fulfill the particular ministry He’s chosen specifically for us. We have been placed on this earth not simply to enjoy ourselves, accumulate wealth, and achieve prominence but to serve the Lord. Our responsibility is to respond with obedience to His call.

A Passionate Faith

Romans 6:5-14

Paul served the Lord enthusiastically. The apostle’s zeal was motivated by three things: gratitude for the amazing but undeserved gift of salvation; conviction that the gospel message was true; and the realization that through the cross, sin’s power over him had been broken.

Before salvation, we were slaves to sin and unable to break free. But now, having been united with Christ in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:5-6), we have received the power to say no to temptation and can choose God’s way instead. Paul knew his old selfish nature had been crucified with Christ; sin no longer had control over him. This knowledge fueled his passion to follow Jesus and live for Him (Gal. 2:20).

Guided by his commission from Christ, Paul expressed his zeal through obedience to the Lord’s direction. Our heavenly Father wants us to focus our passion on carrying out His plan (Matt. 28:19-20).

Like Paul, we are called to live a crucified life—one in which we make the Lord first in our thinking, attitudes, and actions. Such a life includes learning how to walk by faith and stand firm against temptation. While we are unable to do this in our own strength, it is possible through the Holy Spirit. He empowers us to let go of self-centered ways and replace them with godly ones.

Paul’s faith and commitment to the Lord were integral parts of his thinking, conversation, and work. His passionate faith kept him moving forward, even in times of great adversity. The apostle knew that salvation brought forgiveness of the past and a way to live victoriously in the future.

True Ministry

2 Corinthians 3:4-8

What do you think it means to serve the Lord? We know this is something commanded in the Bible, but at times we’re just not sure what to do. Often, we don’t think we are adequate for the task. Or perhaps we’re so busy with all our other duties and responsibilities that finding the time or energy to serve God seems impossible.

Instead of looking at ministry through the lens of obstacles blocking our path, let’s see what God says about it. True service is not something we do for the Lord, but something He does through us. This pattern was set for us by Jesus Christ Himself, who said, “The Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). The apostles’ lives also show this is what God had in mind. When Jesus gave them the command to be His witnesses, He said to wait until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)

By regarding service as God’s work through us, we can have confidence—not in ourselves and our abilities, but in God, who makes us adequate for whatever He gives us to do. This perspective also keeps us from taking any credit for what we accomplish. Without the Lord’s directive and the Spirit’s empowerment, our service is worthless in God’s eyes, no matter how productive it looks from a human standpoint.

What makes an effective servant of Christ is not natural abilities, creativity, or human initiative, but total dependence on Him for both direction and adequacy. God uses those who are weak, humble, submissive, and obedient so that He alone gets the glory.

A Divine Guarantee

Matthew 6:31-34

Today’s passage contains one of the most amazing promises in all of Scripture. If we truly believed it and lived accordingly, our lives would be transformed, and worry would lose its grip on us. Yet if we keep seeking our security in the things the world values—bank accounts, stable jobs, and a strong national and global economy—we will be filled with anxiety at every fluctuation.

Instead, why not take God up on His guarantee in Matthew 6:33? Make Him your number one priority, seeking both His kingdom (His rule over you) and His righteousness (His transformation of you). What that means is obeying His instructions and submitting to whatever He uses to transform your character, whether it be hardship, suffering, or ease. What I’m talking about is not a sinless life but, rather, the desire to live in God’s will and become increasingly like Christ.

When we make a commitment toward that goal, the Lord promises to take full responsibility for providing whatever we need. Now, this doesn’t mean He will give us everything we ask for, but aren’t you grateful that He doesn’t? Just think back to some of the foolish things you’ve requested in the past. He alone knows what our true needs are.

God has a plan for each believer’s life, and the spiritual benefits of living in His will are amazing. But our loving Father doesn’t stop there—He promises to provide for our physical needs as well. So even though each day will have its own trouble (Matt. 6:34), you can rest in the faithfulness of the heavenly Father and trust Him to keep His Word.

Faithful Messenger

Ephesians 6:21-24

What’s the most valuable item you’ve ever transported? We usually associate value with an expensive physical possession, but Tychicus brought something far more precious than gold from a Roman prison to the church in Ephesus. He carried God’s Word, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the apostle Paul while he was imprisoned.

Tychicus is one of those behind-the-scenes people who worked with Paul. His home was originally in Asia Minor (Acts 20:4), and he is mentioned five times in the New Testament. In all but one of these passages, he is sent somewhere by Paul. Running errands may not seem like a glorious job, but his service for Christ was essential: He delivered Paul’s letters to the Ephesian and Colossian churches along with encouragement and information about the apostle’s circumstances (Col. 4:7-8).

These letters have been instructing, challenging, and encouraging Christians throughout the world ever since. And the job Tychicus had—to deliver Scripture—is a task still entrusted to believers today. God has given us His Word for our benefit but also so we can share it with others. It’s the only sure source of absolute truth because it came directly from God through men who were inspired by His Spirit. 

The Bible is our most precious possession. We should treat it with care and share it with fellow believers as well as those who need to know our great God and Savior. The next time you open the Scriptures, ask the Lord to make you like Tychicus, a faithful messenger of His Word.

God—The Greatest Lover of All

God’s love is totally different from ours. For one thing, His love is everlasting. He bestows it on us continuously, and there is absolutely nothing that can interrupt or interfere with it. This is because His love is not based on a feeling but flows from His very nature. Therefore, it is perfect, unchangeable, and trustworthy (1 John 4:8). In contrast, disagreements and other circumstances can cause human love to fluctuate or fail.

What’s more, God’s love is unconditional—there’s nothing we can say or do to either deserve or deter it. We never have to wonder if the Lord still loves us. Every day you and I walk under the canopy of His love, which remains unaffected by our behavior, whether good or bad. Even if we wander from His will or fall into disobedience, we don’t have to worry that the canopy will be removed. We did not build it, so we can’t dismantle it. The source of God’s love is God Himself, and His love is eternal, perfect, and without any conditions whatsoever.

Notice I did not say you would necessarily enjoy life because He loves you; nor did I say that God would overlook transgressions. Disobedience is a matter of grave consequence for the Christian. Yet even in our foolishness and sin, the Lord is our loving Father, who faithfully disciplines His children. We must always remember that sin does not affect God’s boundless love for us.

The heavenly Father has always loved you, and He always will. As you release any misconceptions about His everlasting love, you’ll be able to rejoice under His canopy.

The Love of God

Genesis 3:1-6

Signs on the highway show us many different sorts of things. Speed limits. Animal crossings. How to find a rest stop or avoid a construction site. Similarly, all of creation is a sign communicating God’s message to us. He speaks to us through a full moon, waves crashing against rocks, or a vividly colored aspen tree. As we look upon the wonders of nature, something inside us resonates with the glory, power, love, and beauty of the Creator.

The Lord expresses His message in still another way that may initially be hard for us to comprehend as love: through the fall of man. You might wonder, If God loves us, then why would He let the first couple sin, spoiling the perfection they enjoyed in the garden and breaking the fellowship they had with Him?

The connection between God’s love and man’s sin is freedom. In giving Adam and Eve the option to obey or disobey, God demonstrated that He has not created us as robots, incapable of making choices. His love does not restrict our freedom to do right or wrong—even if that involves our saying “no” to the God who created us. However, having the freedom to choose means we will make mistakes and disobey the God who loves us.

But the wonderful news is that God expresses His love toward those who have rebelled against Him, through His gracious offer of salvation and forgiveness. Jesus Christ, who paid our sin debt on the cross, is the ultimate expression of divine love. Have you responded to His love by believing in Christ and receiving Him as your personal Savior?

Answered Prayer: Our Assurance

John 16:23-27

Are you confident that the Lord will hear and answer your prayers? One of the reasons we may struggle with doubts is because we don’t realize all that God has done to make it possible for us to bring our requests before Him.

Association. Our sin once separated us from God, but Christ gave His life on the cross as payment of the penalty we owed. At the moment of our salvation, we enter into an intimate association with God the Father through His Son.

Access. With our new relationship comes access to the throne of grace, where we can boldly and confidently bring our concerns to God.

Authority. In the Gospels, the Lord’s prayers always carried the power of His divine position. Now, because of our association with Him through salvation, Jesus Christ has given us the privilege of praying in His name according to His power and authority.

Agreement. But prayer offered in Jesus’ name should always be in agreement with what He would ask. In other words, our requests must align with the character of God and the content of His Word. It does no good to tack “in Jesus’ name” on a petition for something outside His will.

Assurance. When Jesus told His disciples He would answer requests offered in His name, He was saying that we can pray with assurance because of our association and agreement with Him. 

When we’re uncertain whether our requests are in accordance with what Jesus would ask, we can take comfort in knowing that Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand, always interceding for us according to God’s will.

Encouragement in Every Season

Psalm 62:5-8

Maybe there’s not enough money in the bank to cover that bill. Or a loved one died. Or your family is facing hard times. In difficult or painful circumstances, many believers turn to the Bible in search of comfort and guidance. Within its pages, we find assurance that encourages us through every season of life: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

God truly is faithful. In other words, we can count on Him to be and do exactly what He says. For instance, the Bible assures us that the Lord is trustworthy, loving, and incapable of failure (Psalm 37:5; Rom. 5:8; Josh. 1:5). Out of deep love for us, He’ll  use any aspect of His multifaceted nature to provide exactly what He knows we need. He’s our Savior, Comforter, and Discipliner, who safely guides us through life’s changes and challenges.

No matter what hardships we face, we can trust God because He knows all things. He’s aware of the duration and intensity of our current season and uses His knowledge to offer us the best possible help and support. What’s more, the Lord is all-powerful, which means He is more than adequate to meet needs and change circumstances according to His plan. And our Father is everywhere, including right beside us in whatever we face. He promises, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

Difficulties may cause us to question God’s dependability. But if we’ll place our trust in our omniscient, omnipotent Father, we can begin each morning with a fresh sense of His faithfulness, which will carry us through the day.

Acceptable Worship and Service

Malachi 2:1-9

Malachi delivered a hard message to the priests of Israel. Many years earlier the Lord had chosen the descendants of Levi to have charge of the temple service and to instruct the people. This sacred duty was an honor—it should have caused them to stand in awe of the Lord and serve Him with fear and reverence. But in Malachi’s day the priests had dishonored Him with their attitudes and actions.

At first glance, it may seem that this Old Testament passage has nothing to do with us, but as believers in Christ, we are a holy priesthood who offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:5). This truth should cause us to pause and consider whether we are fulfilling this sacred duty with the right attitudes and actions. The failures of the priests in Malachi 2 warn us of attitudes that will lead us down the path of irreverence and disobedience.

• First, the priests dishonored God’s name by serving Him in a careless manner and offering unacceptable sacrifices. (See Mal. 2:1-3.)

• Second, they were ungrateful for God’s covenant, which gave them close access to Him through their priestly service. (See Mal. 2:4-6.)

• Third, they didn’t preserve knowledge of God’s Word but led people astray with their instructions. (See Mal. 2:7-9.)

Since we are now God’s holy priesthood, we must ask ourselves if we have dishonored His name with careless worship, ingratitude, or a failure to uphold His truth as revealed in Scripture. Salvation is a marvelous blessing, but it comes with responsibilities. Our worship and service are acceptable only if they are offered according to God’s desires and standards—not ours.

The Power of Love

Luke 15:11-24

The limitations of the English language at times diminish our understanding of scriptural concepts. For instance, there is only one word for love in English, but the New Testament uses two different Greek words. One of them, phileo, refers to brotherly concern and affection, but the more powerful term agape signifies a sacrificial commitment to another’s satisfaction, security, and development. This is the kind of love that God has for us—and that the Holy Spirit produces in and through believers.

Perhaps the best way to understand agape is to see what it looks like. In His parable of the prodigal son, Jesus describes a father’s sacrificial love for his wayward son. When the young man demanded an early inheritance, the father didn’t deny his request, though he knew it would lead only to bitterness. So despite personal and financial sacrifice, he gave the son his share. Then the father waited patiently while the prodigal learned a difficult lesson.

No doubt that was a trying time for the father because a good dad wants to protect his children from mistakes and the resulting consequences. But a wise man also knows that some hard truths must be learned through painful experience. At times the best thing we can do is trust the Lord to reach defiant hearts.

But agape love doesn’t just let go; it also forgives and restores. When the prodigal son returned home humbled and contrite, his father reached out to receive him and restore him to the family—just our heavenly Father does for us.

Avoiding Confusion About Salvation

God never intends to trick or puzzle believers. He wants us to be confident about our salvation and has clearly laid out the plan. So if uncertainty should arise in your mind, realize the problem isn’t with the Lord.

Someone else, however, does want us confused: Satan knows that doubts will make us less effective as Christians. Here are four major tactics he uses:

1. Sin When we give in to temptation, our enemy piles on feelings of guilt so we’ll think, How can I be saved when I’m living like this? But Scripture assures us there’s no condemnation for believers in Christ (Rom. 8:1).

2. Ignorance Unless we’re immersed in God’s Word, it’s easy to have just a hazy notion of what transpired when we came to faith. But if we’re well grounded, we’re less likely to question our salvation in tough times.

3. Feelings Once we are saved, nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). And yet sorrow and shame can make us want to hide instead of confessing and keeping lines of communication with God clear. (See Gen. 3:8; 1 John 1:9.) Be aware that feelings have nothing to do with the truth of our salvation.

4. Harassment Sometimes the devil comes at us like a roaring lion, other times like an angel of light (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14). Whatever his approach, he wants to take our eyes off Jesus. Scripture, however, promises that no weapon formed against believers will prosper (Isa. 54:17).

Spending time in God’s Word will help you to stand securely in your salvation. Then you’ll be better prepared to resist Satan’s strategies.

Where Battles Are Won

In today’s reading, we find the nation of Israel engaged in combat with the Amalekites. While Joshua led the troops, Moses went up onto a hill overlooking the battlefield and, in an attitude of prayer, observed the action. The Lord gave the Israelites success as long as Moses’ arms were raised, but whenever he lowered them, the enemy gained the advantage. So Aaron and Hur helped him to maintain the posture that assured victory.

This historical account teaches an important lesson for every believer: Life’s battles are won or lost in the place of prayer. We may think that conflicts are decided on the battlefield, but victory depends on children of God coming before their Father and seeking His face. It is not the size of our army or the strength of our opponents’ forces that ultimately determines the outcome. When we spend time alone with God, we will be equipped by the One who knows the end from the beginning and understands the reality of all circumstances, regardless of appearances.

God foresees every snare and temptation of Satan just as He discerns what people are thinking and plotting. So it is wise to trust His battle plan instead of our own instincts—and we can do so with confidence that we will not suffer defeat.

Faith will allow you to keep your eyes focused on the Lord, even in the midst of frightening circumstances. When you acknowledge Him as the source of everything you need, your sense of direction will become clear. No matter what enemy is facing you, God will reveal what needs to be done.

The Principles of Sowing and Reaping

Satan wants us to believe the lie that our actions have no natural results or consequences. But the truth is that you can’t rebel against God and not reap the fruit of that choice later. You also can’t obey God without eventually receiving the blessing. The choices you make are the seeds you plant, and they determine the kind of crop you’re going to harvest in the future.

The heart of this principle is that all our choices are important. How we think and act matters, and not only for ourselves. Our choices always impact those around us, for good or bad. Think about the seeds others sowed that affected your view of yourself and the world. You either rejected or accepted them, and the things you accepted eventually manifested in your life.

At some point, we all have made choices we’ve regretted. Since consequences never simply evaporate, you may find yourself harassed or even governed by things you’ve seen, said, or participated in. Yet God will forgive everything you genuinely repent of, and He will work with you to redeem those past choices. The road to redemption often includes obstacles, but the Holy Spirit can enable you to overcome. Lay your burden down before the Lord every time it weighs on you, and request that He cleanse and shape you into the person you were created to be.

Ask yourself the following three questions: What kind of life do I want to live? What do I want my character to be like? Who do I want to become years from now? Let God’s Spirit speak to you about your choices—past, present and future—and His plans for you.

Sowing to the Spirit

James 3:9-18

In all our daily choices, we either “sow to the flesh” or “sow to the Spirit” (Gal. 6:8). With our actions and thoughts, we plant seeds that affect what kind of person we’re growing into and the level of impact our life will have for God.

The “flesh” is the part of us that wants to live and act independently of the Lord. As humans, all of us have to deal with the pull of this attitude; we don’t lose it automatically when we’re saved. However, the Holy Spirit frees us from slavery to the flesh. He begins to change us so we can turn from the deceptive lure of living for self and instead start to live according to the truth. The choices we make contribute to the process of transformation, and when they’re in alignment with the Spirit’s work, they plant good seeds that result in even more new growth.

When you’re sowing to the Spirit, you are accepting God’s truth into your mind and heart. Then you will begin to experience eternal life, which comes from truly knowing the Lord (John 17:3). The fruit of the Spirit grows naturally from these seeds of godly truth and influences every aspect of your life. When you feed your spirit with the things of God, you’re going to become stronger, more Christlike, and more full of His life in your thoughts and actions.

Are you feeding your spirit and the wellspring of your life, or are you feeding the part of you that wants to act independently of God? Do your choices sow seeds that are building you up, making you different, and letting streams of living water flow from you to nourish others? (See John 7:37-39.)

Enjoying God

Psalm 5:11-12

The Scriptures are full of verses that speak of the enjoyment God’s people find in Him, and this sometimes leaves us wondering why our experience doesn’t match theirs. If we aren’t delighting in the Lord on a consistent basis, there may be some hindrances in our life.

We may not know God. No one can have a personal relationship with the Father except through His Son Jesus. But when we believe in Christ as Savior and Lord, we become children of God. Then through His Word, we learn He’s not a Father who is quick to punish us for breaking His rules, but He’s one who tenderly watches over us and restores us when we fall.

We may be afraid of God. When the Scriptures tell us to fear the Lord, it means to honor, revere, and obey Him as a child does a parent. But if we see Him as a tyrannical Father, we’ll be afraid of Him, and this kind of fear keeps us from experiencing joy in our relationship with Him. We must remember that our heavenly Father loved us so much that He sent His Son to rescue us and has placed us securely in His loving family.

Sometimes the problem is sin. When we disobey the Lord, our fellowship with Him—but not our relationship with Him­—is broken. If we confess our sins, then He is faithful to forgive us and restore our intimacy with Him. (See 1 John 1:9.)

When we really enjoy the Lord, we find ourselves slow to leave His presence and desiring to linger. Does this describe your relationship with your heavenly Father?

The Power of Christ Over the Flesh

Romans 6:14-18

Bookstores devote entire sections to self-help titles. However, the self-help concept is flawed, since people cannot get rid of their fleshly nature. We can clean up our attitudes and actions temporarily, but lasting change is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ. When His Spirit is living within us, we can be shaped into successful followers of God.

It’s critical to realize that the Law wasn’t intended for salvation. The commands given through Moses were designed to teach us what sin is and how mankind violates holiness. To lead a God-pleasing life, we must follow biblical principles, but doing so isn’t enough to get us into heaven. The Law was created to drive us to the Savior for salvation; through it, we understand our inability to adhere to the Lord’s rules without His help (Gal. 3:24).

The Law warns that the penalty of sin is death. (See Gen. 3:3; Rom. 6:23.) Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law since He took our sin upon Himself and died. When we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, we’re covered by divine grace, and the Holy Spirit comes to permanently indwell us.

Using Scripture, God’s Spirit challenges Christians to bring fleshly habits and thought patterns under submission. He illuminates the believer’s mind with regard to biblical meaning and application. Therefore, the Word is useful for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Lord doesn’t want us to go to the self-help section of the bookstore; He wants us to trust Him and surrender to the work of His Spirit. We are to depend on God’s strength, not our own, to conquer the flesh.

Finding Favor With God and Man

Proverbs 3:1-4

One of our basic human needs is acceptance. Without it, we feel alienated or maybe even rejected. In the Bible, acceptance is often referred to as “favor.” For example, when Joseph was sold into slavery, Genesis 39:4 says he “found favor” in the sight of his master Potiphar and was put in charge of the official’s entire household. Joseph found acceptance and approval because of his exemplary behavior.

Whose favor are you longing to receive? Do you desire God’s approval? Today’s text shows us how we can find favor with both God and man.

First, we should value the Lord’s teaching. God blessed us by giving us His Word, but not everyone makes it a priority. We should recognize Scripture as our most valuable earthly possession because it is God’s revelation of Himself and His instructions for us.

Second, we should make obedience to God a matter of the heart. Following His commands is about far more than just external rule keeping; it involves not only our actions but our attitudes and thoughts as well. 

Third, we are to let kindness and truth characterize our life. When we are wholeheartedly living in obedience to God’s commands, the effect will spill over into our relationships, as kindness and truth become the guardians of our words and actions.

Although the Christian faith may evoke a negative response from some, believers shouldn’t be discouraged. A life that reflects Christ pleases God. And in bringing light to a dark world, an obedient life will also bring the favor of many in its circle of influence.

Wait for God’s Peace

Many believers look for a sense of peace as a sign to help them determine God’s will in their life. However, a peaceful feeling may not be enough evidence to verify that a person’s decisions line up with the Lord’s plans. It’s wise to ask ourselves, Whose peace are we experiencing? Sometimes our sense of tranquility can be attributed to our own satisfaction about a choice we’ve made.

Today’s passage talks about letting “the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). This kind of settledness originates from Jesus Christ and is the umpire that determines whether your decisions fit with God’s will. The word peace indicates harmony and oneness. So to have God’s peace about a matter means your decision must be aligned with His will. The only way to determine this is by comparing your thoughts and choices with His Word. Are you thinking the same way He does? Did you make your decision using scriptural principles or your own human understanding?

One of the reasons we often make choices without the guidance of Scripture is because we want a quicker method for finding an answer. The Lord doesn’t just pour His thoughts into our brain without our cooperation. He molds us gradually, day by day, as we read His Word and let its truths sink into our mind.

Building steadily over time is the only way to internalize a foundation of God’s truth. With His instructions as your basis, you can make decisions with confidence, knowing you are following His will. Then you’ll have a sense of oneness with the Lord, and His peace will guard your way.

The God to Whom We Pray

What’s your view of God? Do you see Him as the One who can handle every challenge you bring before Him? Nehemiah knew the Father in this way. On hearing of Jerusalem’s destruction, he mourned, fasted, and prayed for intervention.

For a glimpse into how Nehemiah viewed the Almighty, let’s look at his supplication. Notice that in verses 5-11 of today’s passage, Nehemiah addressed God in different ways. For example, he first used the name Yahweh—a term that means “I Am” and indicates One who never changes. Then he referred to the Lord as Elohim, a name that speaks of sovereignty. In presenting his request, the prophet chose language that indicated his full confidence in God.

And the Lord answered that prayer in a powerful, dramatic way. As cupbearer in the palace, Nehemiah tasted food and drink first to protect King Artaxerxes from possible poisoning. For a servant in this position, to look sad was risky, yet the terrible news disheartened him (Neh. 2:1).

The Lord worked powerfully: When the king asked what was troubling his cupbearer, Nehemiah expressed concern for the Jewish people. Instead of punishing him, Artaxerxes let him go to rebuild what had been destroyed and even supplied the materials! God handled what seemed like an overwhelming, impossible burden for Nehemiah, and He can do the same for us.

Having the right view of the Lord will allow us to approach Him with absolute confidence. And we know that He will hear and answer our prayers (Psalm 86:7). Remember, He is absolute in faithfulness and infinite in power. Our heavenly Father is the ruler over all.

Developing Discernment

We live in a fast-paced culture that demands instant results. For many people, waiting has become a lost art. But God’s way of maturing us in our faith is different from how the world works. The character qualities He values take time to develop.

Discernment is one such trait. Far from being a ready-made skill, it is cultivated by saturating the heart and mind with Scripture. The transcendent Lord of the universe wants to share His thinking with us through His Word. What could be more important or valuable in life than having the capacity to know the mind of God?

Our lives are filled with situations that require discernment. Sometimes we can be so busy trying to determine God’s will and direction for our next step that we fail to hear His voice. He is calling us to come and spend some quiet, unhurried time absorbing the truth of His Word and listening to Him.

After listening to the Lord, we can begin applying what we have learned. Only as we put His Word into practice in our lives will we have our “senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). The Scriptures open our eyes to see all of our experiences from God’s perspective so that we are able to make wise choices.

Our challenge for today and every day is to make it a priority to spend time with the Lord in His Word. We may have to reorganize our schedule or wake up earlier. But it’s well worth the effort—discernment and wisdom await us if we put into practice the truths we absorb daily.

Intimacy With God

The length of a relationship is not always an accurate gauge of intimacy. You can spend a lifetime with someone yet never really know him or her. What’s required for an intimate relationship is mutual willingness to open up and reveal ourselves.

This same truth applies to our relationship with God. For His part, the Lord already knows everything about us: our thoughts, desires, ways, values, and priorities. He has also provided everything necessary for us to truly know Him—through His Son. But are we responding to His self-revelation, or have we settled for superficial knowledge of Him?

The prophet Isaiah had his understanding of the Lord dramatically deepened when God suddenly revealed Himself “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (Isa. 6:1). Isaiah’s mind was awestruck with the knowledge that He was in the presence of the majestic King. His ears resounded with cries of the seraphim calling out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). Nothing was ever the same for Isaiah after that. He was willing to do anything God said to do—no matter where he had to go, no matter what the task involved. (See Isa. 6:8.)

Although it’s unlikely that we will ever have such a vivid vision of the Lord, we hold in our hands something no less authentic—the Word of God. If we’ll submerge ourselves in His Word, spending time focused solely on Him and absorbing the truths He reveals about Himself, our intimacy with Him will increase. The result will be a mind and spirit attuned to God’s voice, sensitivity to His continual presence, and unrestrained obedience.

The Blame Game

As children, we all played “the blame game.” If caught doing something wrong, we accused a sibling or friend in hopes of escaping discipline. This tactic seldom worked, because the one we accused was quick to give a different account. No one wins by shifting blame and refusing to take responsibility. Sadly, though, many people continue to play the blame game, even as adults.

Shifting responsibility isn’t new. It began in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned. When God held them accountable for rebelling against Him, Adam claimed he ate the fruit because Eve gave it to him. She, in turn, accused the serpent, who had deceived her. Yet they both incriminated themselves with these words: “I ate” (Gen. 3:12-13). Blaming someone else didn’t alter the facts—they were each responsible for their choice and course of action.

So, if we know the futility of the blame game, why do we still play it? Do we think we can avoid the undesirable consequences? Is it an attempt to cause others to regard us more favorably? Sometimes it’s not even other people we blame but circumstances—the way we were raised or the way we were treated. Regardless of the cause, sin is never justifiable, and God always holds us accountable.

While it’s difficult to swallow our pride and admit that we are wrong, it’s always best to take full responsibility for our attitudes, responses, and behavior. That is the only way to walk humbly with the Lord, which pleases and honors Him.

Ending the Blame Game

Galatians 5:19-25

There’s something within our human nature that resists being controlled by others. Although we may outwardly submit to authority, submissiveness may not reach into our hearts. Inwardly, we could very well be acting like a child who is being disciplined by a parent: outwardly obeying by sitting for time out, but thinking, I’m standing up on the inside!

This is the attitude that leads to the deeds of the flesh described by Paul in today’s passage. Although we have no power to control what others do or say, we have the Holy Spirit, who can govern how we respond. Too often we try to blame our responses on the behavior of someone else. We justify our actions by saying, “But he made me so mad!” In reality, we chose to be angry—justifiably or not.

Whenever someone hurts or frustrates us, we can decide whether to react in a godly or worldly fashion. No matter how much blame we attempt to offload onto others, the Lord is not misled by our maneuvering. He looks at the heart. Each of us is accountable to Him for both our attitudes and responses.

We may think the blame game makes us look better, but God is not fooled. Followers of Christ are called to sow peace and bear the spiritual fruit of love, joy, and kindness (Gal. 5:22-23). If we are clinging to blame, all that is growing are the emotional “weeds” separating us from God. The responses He desires are forgiveness when we are hurt and repentance when we have sinned against another person.

God’s Loving Rescue

Christianity is unique among world religions—the others all require certain behaviors for people to become acceptable to their god. Therefore, they must perform intense labor, undergo self-denial, or observe specific rituals. But none of us can earn a place in heaven, because we can never reach the Lord’s standard of utter perfection and holiness.

God has provided an entirely different way of salvation. In His wisdom, He reached down to us by sending His Son. Jesus came to live a perfect life and then, by dying on the cross, paid the penalty our sin deserved. Why did God choose to rescue us? The reason was not that we deserved it but because of His great love and mercy. Instead of punishing us for our sin, God poured out His wrath on His Son, thereby satisfying divine justice. Now all who believe in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross are forgiven and accepted as children of God.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t require working or pleading for the heavenly Father’s acceptance. Our salvation comes through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ­—God’s only begotten Son, who went to the cross to die in our place, thereby paying our sin debt in full.

What do you believe about Jesus Christ? Choosing to trust in Him is the most important decision you’ll ever make. After this life is over, all people will have to give account to God for their life. (See Rom. 14:12.) There will be no condemnation for those who have received the Savior, but for anyone who has rejected Him, the outcome will be eternal separation from God.

Devotion to Prayer

Are you devoted to prayer? That’s a convicting question, isn’t it? Almost all of us recognize that our prayer life could use some improvement. Part of the problem is that we’re inundated with pressures and activities in this fast-paced world. As a result, prayer often becomes a quick sentence or two before rushing out the door, or it’s combined with some other activity in an effort to multitask.

However, lack of time isn’t an excuse for not sitting down quietly with the Lord to read His Word and talk with Him. The real problem is our priorities. We’re consumed with the urgent and have lost sight of what’s truly important. By neglecting prayer, we forfeit greater love for Christ, a deeper relationship with Him, and His power in our weakness.

But our lack of prayer also affects other people. When Paul told the Colossians to devote themselves to prayer, he requested that they include him and his ministry. As Christians, we have been given the responsibility and privilege of interceding for each other. This is one of the ways we contribute to God’s work in the world and display our love for fellow believers.

Knowing what’s at stake is a great motivation for faithful prayer. To make this a priority in your life, begin by setting aside a time and place to meet with the Lord each day. Then find scriptural passages about people praying, and model your requests, praises, and thanksgiving after these examples. Try keeping a written record of your requests and God’s answers, and you will see your faith strengthen, your love for Christ deepen, and your devotion to prayer increase.

Responding to Conflict

Matthew 18:21-35

Conflict is a part of life. It may originate from misunderstandings, a difference of opinion, or deep convictions. But that discord often stems from envy, pride, or hunger for power.

We can’t control another person’s response to conflict; we’re accountable only for how we handle it. Many people naturally have unhealthy reactions to disagreement. Some repress any discomfort, ignoring the issue or pretending it doesn’t exist. Others place blame while defending themselves.

These negative responses often indicate one of three underlying scenarios. First, past hurt can leave a person emotionally insecure and unable to handle criticism. Second, perfectionists set such high benchmarks that they can never live up to their own standards—then it’s hard to acknowledge mistakes. Finally, pride makes it hard for some people to admit when they’re wrong or to ask forgiveness.

Unless we respond correctly to conflict, we limit our potential to grow, because we aren’t learning what the Lord is teaching. Also, we develop an unforgiving spirit, which leads to bitterness and resentment. Eventually, such an attitude can destroy relationships.

There is a better way to handle conflict, modeled by our Savior. Luke 23:34 reveals how Jesus responded when He was wrongly accused, unfairly judged, and crucified despite His innocence. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

How do you deal with accusations and criticism? Forgiveness is the only response that will keep you from becoming a victim of bitterness.

Maintaining a Quiet Spirit

Proverbs 26:4

When conflict arises, we oftentimes want to rush in and defend our position. Perhaps we even feel justified in blaming others. However, James 1:19 gives different advice for dealing with tension and disputes: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” In other words, more can be accomplished through a calm approach to the situation. Scripture also suggests that we ...

Pray. First, we should ask the Lord to guard our mouth and give us the right words to say (Luke 12:12). Also, we ought to request discernment with regard to the root issue and insight as to whether we might be at fault.

See with divine perspective. Our sovereign Lord works every situation for the believer’s benefit (Rom. 8:28). Not only does God use difficulties to teach us, but He also allows us to demonstrate the life of Christ by the way we respond.

Forgive. Even if someone has hurt us by causing the conflict, we should forgive. Jesus died to pardon all of our sin, and we, in turn, should forgive others. In fact, if we don’t, our lives will become burdened by resentment and broken relationships.

Respond. If we have done something wrong, we must apologize and ask forgiveness. We should express appreciation that the other person took time to share his concern. Then we ought to acknowledge his feelings and carefully consider his comments.

How do you respond to conflict? Pray for the strength to stay calm and do what is right­—even during difficult, emotional situations.

Finishing Well

Hebrews 12:1

In a race, what’s most important isn’t how one begins but how one finishes. Prizes are awarded only for crossing the finish line, not for great starts. And this is also true for the Christian life. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” In 2 Timothy 4:9-11, we see a contrast between two runners: Mark (also known as John Mark) and Demas.

When Paul and Barnabas left for their first missionary trip, Mark went with them. But early in the journey, he left to return home (Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13). From Paul’s perspective, this seemed like a desertion, so a couple of years after that, he refused to let Mark come on a second missionary trip (Acts 15:36-40).

Although Mark had not begun well, Scripture shows us that the situation changed. On nearing death two decades later, Paul requested Mark’s company because the younger man was “useful to [him] for service” (2 Tim. 4:11). Mark had proven himself faithful by persevering in obedience and service to the Lord, and eventually he wrote the gospel bearing his name.

Demas, on the other hand, though also called a “fellow worker” of Paul’s (Philem. 1:24), deserted the apostle several years later because of love for worldly things (2 Tim. 4:10). It’s so easy to get caught up in the pleasures and pursuits of earthly life and forget that as Christians, we have a higher priority.

That’s why Scripture reminds us to lay aside every encumbrance hindering our race (Hebrews 12:1-2). Once we cross the finish line and see Christ face-to-face, all worldly pleasures will fade in comparison to the joy of hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21 NIV).

The Process of Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Many people act as if there’s no defense against temptation. With the first hint of desire, they immediately throw their hands up and give in to every little enticement. Can you relate to this? What we must realize is that temptation is a gradual process, and it can be short-circuited at any stage.

Temptation usually begins in the mind, where we live out imagined scenarios. The human mind has an amazing capacity to create entire exchanges and experiences out of nothing. Through fantasy, we can enjoy something without ever bringing it into the real world. Therefore, since it’s not real, we think it’s perfectly harmless.

But a fantasy world leads to a downward spiral of enslavement. Ultimately, our thoughts become so wrapped around the one temptation that it seems impossible to think of anything else. At this point, our minds are held captive by the desire. No matter where we go or what we do, we can’t outrun our own thoughts! And when our life becomes focused on anything other than God, we are trapped.

But the Lord is faithful and will provide the way of escape. Since temptation begins in the mind, that’s where the battle should be waged. The only way to disrupt the process is by filling our minds with the Word of God. As we continually feed on a hearty diet of Scripture, the Word will work in us— uprooting sin, transforming our thoughts, and overcoming the tempting fantasy. The Bible is powerful! We can trust it to set us free from the burden of temptation.

Protection Through Strengthening

While writing to Timothy, Paul was in prison experiencing physical discomfort, personal attack, and desertion. Why would God allow His faithful servant to endure such suffering? Why didn’t the Lord step in and protect him?

At times God doesn’t rescue us from suffering because He is providing something better. We may feel as if He’s abandoned us, but in reality, He is protecting us—not by deliverance but through strengthening.

When trouble pays you a visit, view it from the Lord’s perspective and ask yourself:

• Which is a greater demonstration of God’s power—changing something around me or changing something within my heart?
• Which is the greater faith builder—seeing the Lord’s deliverance from every difficulty or experiencing His presence and strengthening in the midst of trials?
• Which reward is greater—quick relief from pain or tested and refined faith that will result in praise and glory when Christ returns (1 Peter 1:7)?
• Which answer to prayer is greater—that the Lord has removed something and given me external peace, or that He’s left me in a trial and given an internal peace, which cannot be stolen even by painful circumstances?

Does the Lord have to fix something in order for you to be happy? If He removes a difficult situation, you may never learn that He truly is sufficient for everything you need. Instead, allow Him to change you, and you’ll discover genuine joy in whatever circumstance may come your way.

In Search of Wholeness

Take an honest look at your life. Do you feel whole and complete, or is there the sense that something’s missing? If you’re aware of an emptiness, what are you using to try and fill that void? Is it relationships with family and friends? Or have you opted for achievements, hoping they will bring a sense of significance? Maybe you use a substance or activity of some kind to deaden the ache or provide temporary comfort.

Jesus met a woman with just such an empty place in her soul. She was longing for a healthy relationship but had been repeatedly rejected. In those days, a man could divorce his wife simply because she displeased him in some way. The Samaritan woman had gone through this rejection five times and was now seeking to fill her soul with a man who wasn’t her husband.

She probably tried to cover up her hurt so those nearby wouldn’t notice, but when Jesus met her at the well and told all that she had done, her days of hiding were over. She had finally found the One who could bring wholeness to her life. Before you can fill the emptiness in your soul, you must likewise let Christ’s piercing gaze penetrate into the depths of your heart and reveal the root cause of your incompleteness.

We were created for God. All other pursuits are inadequate substitutes and will never bring the lasting satisfaction we are seeking. Life has a way of beating us down, leaving us depleted and disillusioned. But when we allow Jesus Christ unrestricted access to our hearts, He fills us up with His unfailing love.

The Fullness of God in You

Have you ever wondered if you are a “whole person”? We all have struggles in life that could make us feel incomplete, but the apostle Paul says we can be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). What does that look like?

A whole person is generally satisfied with life. He feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don’t devastate him, because he is able to go through them with confidence in God. He isn’t a complainer or someone who’s quick to blame others. A positive attitude guards his mind since he knows that the Lord will work everything out for good (Rom. 8:28).

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us feel complete. Fullness comes only when we experience God’s love. For many years, I knew theologically that the Lord loved me. I even preached about it, but I didn’t really feel it. Only after I took a deep look at my life and started dealing with events that had fractured my soul in childhood did I begin to experience His love in a personal way. Once I felt the security of His love for me, I discovered great joy from walking in obedience to His will. The reason was that I knew I could trust Him to meet all my needs in His time and way.

Do you feel the Lord’s love, or do you see it as just a biblical fact? If you long for wholeness, the key is to genuinely experience a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ. This is possible only when you are willing to open up and let the Lord search your heart. He will reveal what’s holding you back from accepting His love.

Is God Still Talking?

Have you ever noticed that children have selective hearing—the convenient ability to tune out an adult’s voice? Sometimes, if they don’t like what’s said, they ignore it. On other occasions, they may be so absorbed in their own activities that their minds don’t register the words. An adult is speaking, but you would never know it by the child’s response.

At times we behave the same way toward our heavenly Father, don’t we? Today the Lord speaks to us through His Word, just as He always has. The Bible contains the complete revelation of God; it was written by men who were under the control of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are inattentive to the Scriptures, then we have turned away from God’s voice.

But if we open His Word, we will hear what He wants to say to us. Sometimes He speaks words of admonishment and correction, but He’ll also assure us of His love. When we spend time fellowshipping with God in His Word, our relationship with Him deepens. And as He expresses His love to us, we love Him in return.

From Scripture, we also receive direction for our life (Jer. 29:11). Although the world, our own selfish nature, and Satan clamor for us to choose their ways, God provides us with His wisdom to make right decisions.

The Bible offers God’s comfort and hope, which we desperately need in our trials, failures, humiliations, and sorrows. And His Holy Spirit helps us understand and obey whatever He says. God is still speaking, but in order to benefit, we must listen.

God’s Sovereignty

Some people question whether the Lord is truly in control. They learn about tragedies in the world and wonder if perhaps God isn’t powerful enough to overcome all evil. Or they encounter what seems like an insurmountable obstacle in their own life and come to the conclusion, Maybe His power is limited.

My friend, we do not understand everything that happens in this life. But we know from Scripture that God has ultimate authority: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

Consider the far-reaching implications of these words. The Lord has complete control in all the universe—He reigns over everything and everyone, and His power is greater than all other strength. The terms omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient are frequently used to describe Him. In other words, our God is all-powerful, He exists everywhere, and He is all-knowing—which means there is nothing beyond His awareness or His ability to direct and manage.

And this limitless, unfathomable God, who is unhindered and fully in control, adopts us as His children. What an amazing thought! As we begin to grasp this truth, peace and rest will flood our soul.

If you believe the Lord is all-powerful, is that idea simply “head knowledge,” or does it affect the way you think and feel? When you realize that nothing happens apart from God’s awareness, direction, and loving purpose, it becomes possible to lay down worry and fear and truly experience His peace.

My Assurance: God Is in Control

During one of the most trying seasons of my life, I would sit by the fire with a dear friend and pour out my heart to him. Since this man was a good listener, he could sense when I felt discouraged, and he would remind me that the Lord is in control. This truth became an anchor in my life—no matter how much the adversity intensified, I found solace in knowing that my heavenly Father is sovereign.

The Lord has supreme and absolute rule, control, and authority over the universe and everything in it. The Scriptures state that there is “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

Consider the assurances that this truth provides for believers. First, if God created everything and has complete power over all, then nothing can happen apart from His direction and permission. Second, we know from the Bible that He is intimately involved in our personal lives and cares about the details of each day. Third, Romans 8:28 guarantees that He makes something beautiful for His children in every circumstance—even in situations that seem painful and wrong. If our loving Father protects us in this way, we can experience peace in the present and confidence about the future.

In painful times, how do you view the Lord? Especially during hardships and heartbreak, it’s important to remember that He is in control. Focusing on His sovereignty will give you the confidence to carry on. Reread today’s passage, and spend time meditating on the power, love, and ability of your heavenly Father.

The High Cost of Sin

Anyone who has read through the book of Leviticus can’t help but notice the emphasis on sacrifices. There were prescribed animals for different kinds of personal and national offerings, as well as for occasions like the Sabbath and feasts. Why did God require this? And why was He so specific about the details of worship?

There were three lessons God was teaching Israel through His law.

• God is holy and separate from sinful man.
• Sin is costly, requiring a payment or sacrifice.
• There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

All the laws, ceremonies, priests, and offerings in the Old Testament were a shadow of the good things to come. None of the animal sacrifices could actually take away sin. While serving as a reminder of sin, those offerings also pointed ahead to the Lamb of God: Jesus Christ came to be the final sacrifice. He gave His life at Calvary, bringing complete forgiveness for all sin.

We who live on this side of the cross may be tempted to think too lightly of our sins because we have never sacrificed an animal or seen blood flowing from the throat of an innocent lamb because of our wrongdoing. Nor did we watch the crucifixion of our Lord as He hung on the cross, bearing God’s judgment for our sins. The only cost we actually see involves the consequences we suffer for our rebellion and disobedience.

As difficult and painful as it may be, let’s seriously consider what our sins cost the Savior. If we allow our hearts to be broken, our worship and gratitude will overflow, and we’ll respond by living a holy life.

A New and Living Way

Have you ever considered what a privilege it is to live in the era after the cross? Today every believer has instant access to God through His Son Jesus Christ. We don’t need to adhere to any religious rites before coming to Him in prayer. Wherever we are, we can call on Him for forgiveness and help.

In the Old Testament, the law prescribed exactly who could approach the Lord and how it was to be done. The temple area was divided into a courtyard, an inner chamber called the Holy Place, and the innermost chamber called the Holy of Holies. Any Israelite could come to the temple to pray to God or to bring an offering, but only the priests could sacrifice animals on the altar or burn incense in the Holy Place. The Holy of Holies was entered once a year and only by the high priest to offer blood for his sins and the sins of the nation.

When Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross, the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom as God opened a new and living way to approach Him: through the blood of His Son. When we trust in Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, He cleanses us from all sins and invites us to draw near to Him.

The way to the heavenly Father is open, but are you drawing near to Him? Even those of us who have trusted the Lord for salvation may not be taking advantage of this invitation to come even closer. In James 4:8, the author makes a promise every believer should claim: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Going Against the Flow

A majority may rule in the culture, but in your personal life, there should be only one ruler—and that’s God. It makes no difference if 10,000 people tell you what you ought to do. Once you have decided to follow the Lord, it’s best to stand right where you are until you get marching orders from Him.

Does this mean we should never take godly counsel? Not at all. It simply means that when we know God hasn’t said to move, we shouldn’t yield to the temptation to please others by following their directives or timeline. In other words, while seeking scriptural advice, believers should also listen for the Holy Spirit’s promptings and warnings. For example, when dealing with your children, you may sense there’s a time to bring up an issue and a time to hold off (Eccl. 3:7).

Sometimes, however, a fear of failure may discourage us from doing things God’s way, making us think, What if things don’t turn out as I planned? What if I’m ridiculed by my peers? But ultimately, we must ask ourselves whether we’re going to listen to God or the world. Remember, you don’t have to fear failure when you obey the Lord. He’s the one who intervenes in times of hardship. And He promises to act in behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isa. 64:4).

Remaining steadfast takes courage. That’s why Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10). All the pressure in the world can’t make you budge when you trust the Rock upon which you stand. With God’s guidance, you can act with complete confidence of a successful outcome.

Loving God

If you ask a young man how he knows he’s in love with his girlfriend, there’s a good chance he won’t be able to explain but will simply say, “I just know it.” And those of us who have experienced the joy of falling in love will understand what he means.

But how do we know if we love God? Even though we can’t physically see, hear, or touch Him, our life should contain evidence that testifies to our love for Him.

Jesus’ love for His heavenly Father was perfectly demonstrated by His obedience. Every word, thought, and deed—from the time He left heaven to be born as a baby until His ascension—was done according to His Father’s will and instructions. Their relationship was so intimate that Jesus not only knew exactly what His Father desired but also delighted in obeying Him. (See Psalm 40:7-8; John 6:38.)

If we want to grow in our love for the Lord, we must draw near to Him through His Word. As we learn to know Him intimately, our love will increase and we’ll desire to obey. Unless we invest in Scripture, our fervor for the Lord will fall short of what it could be.

What does your lifestyle reveal about the depth of your devotion to Christ—can others see it clearly in your conversation, character, and conduct? And if you ever feel disappointed that your love for Christ seems small, open the Word of God and obey whatever He says. He will abide with you and disclose Himself, thereby increasing your capacity to love and know Him more.

Why Should We Love God?

Most of us are familiar with what is commonly called the Great Commandment—to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yet none of us feel adequate for such a task. Our hearts are fickle, our souls are often self-absorbed, our minds are easily distracted, and our strength falls short. We have an earthly existence that demands our time, attention, and energy. As a result, we often fail to focus on the One who is worthy of our wholehearted devotion.

So, what can we do to better obey this Great Commandment? In any relationship, love develops as we learn to know and appreciate the other person. Therefore, our starting place for loving God is His personhood—knowing who He is. The Old Testament provides magnificent views of His nature, power, and love, but the most tangible, understandable picture we have of God is His Son. When we examine Jesus’ character, words, and actions in the Gospel accounts, we perceive the heavenly Father more clearly.

The second reason to love God is because of what He has done. He’s not only our Creator but also our Savior. Through Jesus, the Father has rescued all believers from eternal destruction. We’ve been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His Son and made heirs with Christ (Col. 1:12-13).

What distracts you from seeking to know and love the Lord? Have you carved time out of your busy schedule to read His Word and talk to Him in prayer? By doing this, you’ll discover that the saying “to know him is to love him,” will prove true of your amazing God and His Son Jesus Christ.

The Gift of Love

Is there someone in your life you’re struggling to love? In other words, is there a person for whom—despite your good intentions, effort, and awareness of how you ought to act—it just seems impossible to muster any affection? Knowing that we should love doesn’t automatically make us adequate for the task. However, being a Christian opens the door for God to enable us by pouring His love into our hearts through His indwelling Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

First John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” What a relief to know that love is a gift from God and not something we must manufacture within ourselves. What’s more, the love He produces in us is not just for others but also for God Himself. He is aware that we have no resources within ourselves to love Him unless He enables us through His Holy Spirit.

The Lord doesn’t give us a command without providing whatever obedience requires. When we trust Christ as Savior, we receive not only forgiveness of our sins and adoption into God’s family but also the ability to love as He does. In fact, His love in and through us is evidence that we are born of God and know Him (John. 4:7). As we submit, Christ’s life is displayed in us through selfless, sacrificial care for others.

Although the Lord has richly poured His love into our hearts, we have the responsibility to grow in it. Every unlovable person in our life is an opportunity to let God teach us to love (1 Thess. 4:9-10). And every time we learn to know Him more intimately through His Word, our adoration of God increases.

Shortcutting God’s Will

In sports, construction, and travel, precision timing is essential. Rushing ahead of the plan could result in lost opportunities, future problems, or disaster. God’s plan for our life also contains time-sensitive elements. He orchestrates events to accomplish His will, bring Himself glory, and benefit us. This is why cooperation with His timing is so crucial. Instead of learning this lesson the hard way, consider what happened in the following situations from Scripture:

• Abraham and Sarah tried to gain the promised son through Hagar, resulting in domestic discord and anger (Gen. 16:1-6).
• Rebekah and Jacob used deception in an attempt to gain the Lord’s blessing, and Jacob became a fugitive (Gen. 27:1-43).
• Becoming impatient for Samuel’s arrival, King Saul offered the sacrifice himself, and God took away his kingdom (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Refusing to wait for God’s plan brings heartache and closes doors. But trusting in the Lord’s wisdom, believing His promises, waiting for His timing, and committing our way to Him will bring the blessings of obedience.

There are no shortcuts to God’s will, and His path for us may not be easy. To cooperate with Him, we must die to self, relinquish our own desires and plans in order to pursue His, and understand that we are His servants.

Coming up with a plan and rushing ahead may seem like the best approach, but who is better qualified to lead the way—you or God? One pathway is filled with fretting and uncertainty, but the other leads to rest and blessing. Which will you choose?

Praying in God’s Will

Paul fervently desired that the body of Christ—individually and corporately—become spiritually mature. Knowing the Lord had planned for such growth to impact the world, the apostle asked that believers would know God’s will and then ...

Live a godly life (Col. 1:10). Paul prayed for our character, conversation, and conduct to be consistent with the Lord’s. Christians are Jesus’ representatives, so our lives ought to be an extension of His—with eyes that look compassionately at others, hearts that offer forgiveness and love, and hands that are engaged in service. A believer’s character, while imperfect, should increasingly reflect Christ’s righteousness.

Make our life count (v. 10). In God’s eyes, not everything we do is fruitful—much of our activity stems from a desire to please self or others. All that truly matters is what’s done in obedience to our Father. Jesus spoke about the importance of bearing much fruit, which is possible only when we stay connected with Him (John 15:5).

Experience God’s power (Col. 1:11). Through the Holy Spirit’s presence, we have all we need for carrying out our Father’s will.

Remain committed and grateful (Col. 1:12). God answers according to His perfect timing. We must be steadfast in prayer and thankful for everything He’s done.

Whether we pray these verses for ourselves or for others, we can know that our petitions are in accordance with the Lord’s will. And 1 John 5:14-15 tells us praying in this way carries the wonderful assurance that God is going to respond affirmatively.

Our Financial Security

Feeling safe is a basic human need. Many people think they are financially secure until a little blip comes along in the economy or their personal circumstances. Then the reality that they are vulnerable hits home. Contrary to what the world says, financial security is found not in a bank account or a retirement fund but in a relationship with the One who owns everything in heaven and on earth.

God is not too busy running the universe to be concerned about your financial situation. The truth is, He cares about every detail of your life, including your need for economic security. By trusting His directions about how to acquire and use money, you can experience peace, contentment, and joy.

When it comes to finances, three basic truths should govern our thinking:

1. God owns it all.
2. We are managers of His possessions.
3. We are responsible and will one day give an account to Him for the way we used His resources.

True financial security comes only when we use God’s money His way for His purposes. He alone knows the future and has the power to provide for our needs, whereas any financial strategy we might devise is backed only by human effort and wisdom.

Don’t you want to experience the stability of internal peace, even during an economic earthquake? Trusting in the Lord’s provision and obeying His instructions will fill you with confidence when others are gripped by fear and uncertainty. Rest in the knowledge that God provides for His children.

A Heart for God

I sometimes like to walk through a cemetery and read the epitaphs. It’s interesting to see the words that have been chosen to sum up a person’s life. This may seem like a morbid pastime, but it’s actually a helpful way to reassess one’s own life. We’re each going to leave a testimony of some kind when we die. Have you ever wondered what your loved ones will remember about you? What words do you want inscribed on your gravestone?

In today’s passage, the apostle Paul tells us how God saw David—as “a man after My heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). What an awesome testimony of a life well lived! Though David wasn’t a perfect man, he was one whose life was centered on God’s interests and desires.

David’s many psalms attest to the fact that his relationship with the Lord was the most important aspect of his life. His passion was to obey God and carry out His will. However, that doesn’t mean he was always obedient. Who can forget his failure with Bathsheba? But even when he sinned by committing adultery and murder, his heart was still bent toward God. The conviction he felt and his humble repentance afterward proved that his relationship with the Lord was still his top priority.

If God wrote a summary of your life, how would He describe you? Does your heart align with His, or have you allowed it to follow the pleasures and pursuits of this world? Unless we diligently pursue our relationship with the Lord, we will drift away from Him. Maybe it’s time for a course correction.

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!

How to Develop a Heart for God

What is your response when you read that David was a man after God’s own heart? (See 1 Samuel 13:14.) Many of us look up to him as a spiritual giant and think to ourselves, I could never be like that.

But the Lord hasn’t reserved this title for just one man. He wants all of us to seek Him as David did. One of our problems is the tendency to focus on just part of his story. We tend to forget that the scriptural account gives a record of David’s lifetime. He had to begin pursuing the Lord the same way we do—one step at a time.

A hunger for the heavenly Father doesn’t ordinarily appear all of a sudden, fully matured, in one’s heart. Most of the time, it’s something that must be cultivated, and the best place to begin is the Bible. That’s where we listen to the Lord as He speaks to us in His Word.

Another essential element is prayer. As you read His words, start talking to Him. If it all seems dry and meaningless, ask Him to work in your life to make Scripture come alive. He loves to answer prayer in accordance with His will.

The next step is meditation. Don’t “put in your time” so you can say you’ve read your Bible. Slow down and deliberately think about what you’ve read, asking, What am I discovering about God?

The last step is to commit. A hunger for God may not develop right away, but remember, you’re working for a changed heart that will last a lifetime, not a fleeting emotional experience. Continue to fill up with the fuel that brings transformation—the Word, prayer, and meditation.

Voiding God’s Grace

In verse 3 of today’s passage, the apostle Paul raises a probing question for all who have believed in Jesus Christ for salvation. He says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The subtle shift from confidence in Jesus to confidence in the flesh (or self) can all too easily go unnoticed.

When we receive salvation through faith in Jesus and first experience God’s glorious grace and freedom from sin, we know we could never have produced these ourselves. We’re filled with gratitude and awe that He would give us the gift of salvation.

However, as we grow in grace and submit to the disciplines of obedience and service, we begin to accumulate a record of good deeds and Christlike conduct. If we’re not careful, we may begin to put confidence in our own righteousness and obedience instead of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.

There’s something within our fallen humanity that longs to take credit for the good we do. We’ll readily acknowledge that we are saved by grace, but then we assume that living the Christian life is now up to us—that God did His part by saving us, and now we must do ours. Such thinking elevates us and denies the power of the Spirit in us.

Only when we have a large view of God and a small view of ourselves will we be able to see that we add nothing to our salvation. Nor can we claim credit for the work the Holy Spirit does in and through us as He sanctifies and matures us in Christ.

Building Lasting Friendships

Genuine friends are rare treasures. In a very limited way, they are shadows of the perfect fellowship experienced within the Trinity. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27); one aspect of this truth is that the Lord created us for meaningful relationships. In fact, it’s difficult to flourish if we live in isolation. By God’s design, we are made to share life with others, as well as to give and receive love.

Friendships come in various degrees—from surface relationships to intimate fellowship. Although you may have many acquaintances, you might remain lonely unless you have at least one or two close friends. If God has blessed you with an intimate friendship, be diligent to devote time and effort to develop and cultivate it.

Jonathan and David exemplified this type of closeness. One was a prince and the other was a shepherd, so they seemed like improbable companions. However, status didn’t matter to them. Besides demonstrating humility, they also showed great respect for each other’s faith and love for Israel. They both felt as committed as brothers and gave generously of themselves. For example, the robe Jonathan gave David—a prized possession of the king’s son—was evidence of his loyalty and love (1 Samuel 18:4). He even risked his life and reputation in order to save David (1 Samuel 20:30-34).

Do you have a person like this in your life—someone with whom to share your joys and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses, fears and pain? Thankfully, Jesus is the best friend we can have, but we also need close relationships with others. What can you do today to build this type of friendship?

A Place Called Heaven

Because mankind is earthbound until death, misconceptions about heaven are common. Some people imagine it as an ethereal world of formless spirits who float about, whereas others flatly deny its existence. A few have returned from near-death experiences to describe what they saw. Amid all the confusing and contradictory views, we would do well to remember that our only sure source of accurate information about heaven is God’s Word.

Jesus had firsthand knowledge of heaven because He came from there to earth. Shortly before dying, He told His disciples that He would go to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them and then would come back to take them to their new home. Several weeks later the disciples watched the resurrected Jesus ascend, as foretold, into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Ever since that day, believers throughout history have been waiting for the Lord’s promised return. Each one will be given an immortal resurrection body similar to Christ’s. It will be physical, visible, and recognizable to others. We will even be able to eat. (See Luke 24:41-43.) Heaven is a literal place for actual, tangible bodies—a place to live, serve God, and worship and enjoy Him forever.

Knowing all the specifics of our eternal destination is impossible, but we can be sure that Jesus will fulfill His promise to come back for us. Stepping into our custom-designed dwelling places, we will each realize that we’re finally home—and throughout eternity can never be separated from our heavenly Father.

Our Heavenly Place: New Jerusalem

While Jesus was on earth, John heard Him promise to prepare a place for His followers (John 14:3). Years later, the apostle was given a vision of that place, and he watched the New Jerusalem come down out of heaven. The sight was beyond human description, but he did his best to put this heavenly vision into earthly language. (See Revelation 21:9-27, Revelation 22:1-5.)

John saw the brilliance of God’s glory radiating from the city's structure, whose foundation gleamed with the dazzling colors of precious stones. The gates were made of pearls and the street of transparent gold. This nearly 1500-mile-long cube-shaped city was designed by the Lord as a place for Himself and mankind to live in perfect intimacy for all eternity. In Revelation 22:3-4, he notes that “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face.”

Though we may have difficulty imagining the physical structure of the New Jerusalem, we understand and rejoice over the fact that certain things will be absent from this heavenly city—namely, there will be no pain, tears, mourning, or death. Sin and every one of its consequences will be removed. All frustration, boredom, and problems will cease. No one will have handicaps, and our bodies will never grow tired or sick.

When the difficulties you face become burdensome, focus on your glorious heavenly future. The only time you will ever experience trouble and pain is in this earthly life. When you walk on the streets of New Jerusalem with the Savior, all the old ravages of sin will be gone, and your joy will be full.

When We Feel Burned Out

What emotions come to mind when you hear the words burden and burnout? These terms make us sigh, don’t they? In this fast-paced, overworked world, most of us have felt the tiring numbness of carrying too much on our shoulders, in our schedules, and on our minds. Here are three ways a Christian should respond to these feelings:

Surrender to Christ. Jesus said to come to Him. There’s peaceful rest in surrendering our load to the Lord. His hands are large enough to hold anything and everything we need Him to handle. If we try to control and manage everything, we will wear ourselves out and eventually start dropping it all.

Depend on Christ. Jesus invites us to take His yoke and let Him bear our burdens. Although at first we may readily relinquish our concerns to the Lord, after a while we may try to take our burden back in an attempt to fix things ourselves. But by doing this, we interfere with the solution God wants to bring, and we end up wearing ourselves out once again. The truth is that only God has both the power and perspective to bring all matters to their proper conclusion (Rom. 8:28).

Trust Christ. The Savior encourages us to learn from Him. As we fill our minds with the truth of His words, our trust in Him grows. His yoke will become easy, and we’ll see it as the safest and happiest place to be. When we know we never have to carry burdens alone, they get lighter.

What do you have to lose by coming to Jesus, taking His yoke, and learning from Him? Nothing but your burdens of exhaustion, stress, and anxiety.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

Damn, brother Keith still carrying on his one man show heah. 

You bet brother. How are you and the family?

I deh heah bro. Family doing well too. Hopr you and family doing well too. 

All is well by God grace

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

 

What do you have to lose by coming to Jesus, 

One has nothing to lose by going to Jesus. They have nothing to gain either. Realistically, Jesus never had anything to give.

That's right, you have noting to lose by accepting Jesus Christ as savior. What you gain would be eternal life with the savior. 

To truly follow Christ means He has become everything to us; we have to apply the truths we learn from His Word and live as if Jesus walked beside us in person. As we acknowledging Christ as Lord and savior we gain eternity with Him but to forsake Him we would have a life apart from him, you don't want to be separated from Christ. So what you have to loose? You prefer spending eternity in Heaven/ away from Christ?

Jesus give His life so that you and I can spent eternity with Him and the father in heaven. He was the sacrificial lamb of God His father for our sins.

Philippians 1:19-24
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Keith posted:
 

To truly follow Christ means He has become everything to us; 

The only problem with this my brother is that Jesus is meaningless and can never be everything to me. I already have what I need and I didn't have to accept Jesus as savior. Most of the world's population throughout history has gotten by without accepting Jesus as savior. It is not wise to depend so much from one man. Especially from a man who had so little. 

The Moments That Sustain Us

Every believer experiences moments of challenge or discomfort. The question is, How do we deal with them? King David discovered that remaining strong and fruitful during trying circumstances begins with praising the Lord. Then, once his focus shifted upward, he was ready to meditate on the glorious splendor of God’s majesty and also on His wonderful works (Psalm 145:5).

Meditation involves Bible reading but goes far beyond skimming a section the way we might with any other book. Instead, we need to pray over the verses, asking God to show us by His Spirit what the passage means, what it says about Him, and how we can apply His words to our life.

What keeps us from meditating upon the Lord and His Word? We live in such a busy culture that it’s often difficult for us to slow down, settle our racing thoughts, and sit quietly with God’s Word before us. As we try to concentrate, our minds are bombarded with thoughts of all we need to do. Being with the Lord may not seem as urgent as our other tasks, but it’s much more important.

Meditating on Scripture increases our thirst for God, enlarges our perspective of Him, teaches us to think biblically, and increases our discernment. The insights we gain from His Word bring encouragement, reminding us of God’s constant presence and strengthening us for whatever lies ahead.

The spiritual benefits of time alone with the Lord are worth whatever sacrifice we have to make. Through meditation, our heart begins to digest the truths we know intellectually so they can impact our everyday life.