How To Study the Word

19 03 2014

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First and Foremost:  Read it!  It doesn’t matter where you start or how much your read in a day, but read it and keep reading it.  Plan on a specific time of day that you will read the Word of God.  What you don’t plan for will never happen.  A habit only takes 21 days to establish.  Reading the Bible on a daily basis will be the best habit you ever start.  (A relationship is only as good as the time spent together.)

  • A one-year Bible is a great way to begin a reading habit.  It gives passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs for each day of the year so that the entire Bible is read through in one year.
  • Read about three chapters a day and finish the Bible in a year.
  • Read five Psalms and one Proverb every day and you’ll finish all the Psalms and Proverbs in a month.
  • Choose a particular book of the Bible to read and study.

How to Study:  Study just implies a deeper look than a casual read.  As we read and continue to read the Word of God, we become more familiar with its contents.  As we study, the familiarity becomes part of our store of wisdom and knowledge, so that it a more permanent part of who we are.  Make a specific plan of study:  what and when you will study, as well as a method of recording what you learn.  (Intimacy in a relationship develops by sharing a deeper level of communication than casual time together.)

  • Prepared Bible Studies:  There are excellent online resources, as well as a plethora of written resources to help you study the word of God.  Some authors to consider are:  Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, Warren Wiersbe, Chuck Smith, Charles Stanley, A.W. Tozer and C.H. Spurgeon.  Always keep in mind, however, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, while Bible Studies (and/or commentaries) are written by fallible men.
  • Topical Bibles:  These break the Word of God into specific topics of study, so that it will list quite a number of verses that relate to whatever topic you have chosen to study.  Consider looking up some of the specifically Christian words so you know exactly what they mean from a biblical perspective:  Sanctification, Glorify, Praise, Holy, Love, Joy, Redemption, Truth, Peace, Righteousness…   Or look up specific attributes of God to increase your faith and your knowledge of your Savior:  Love, Holiness, Sovereignty, Omnipresence, Justice, Omniscience…
  • Group Bible Study:  Participating in a study of the Word of God with others makes the experience all the better.  It provides a measure of accountability, but also a forum for discussion so that the concepts learned are retained to a greater degree.
  • Practice Inductive Study on Your Own:  Whenever you read the Bible, always ask yourself, (1) What does it say? — Who? What? When? Where?   (2)  What does it mean?  — Why?  (3)  What does God want me to do with what I just read? — How do I apply it?

Words of Caution:

  • Always read in the context it was written.  The Bible was written in various forms of literature, including History, Narrative, Poetry, Prophecy, Parables and Letters.
  • Keep it simple.  Great theologians aren’t born in a day.  You won’t know everything there is to know about everything in the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit will reveal His Truth over time.  Take the time and don’t rush through it.
  • Always pray as you study and read.  It is God’s Word.  Let Him be your teacher, and you’ll do just fine.

(John 14:26, 16:13-14) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you… But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 





A Faith That Works

10 03 2014

Revelation 2:10  … Be faithful until death…

 

“An imperative command, be faithful literally means ‘keep on becoming trustworthy’ (Strong’s number 4103).  The word is used 62 times in the New Testament… It is the same word used of God in 2 Corinthians 10:13.  Our God is the sure and reliable foundation in which we build our trust.  He is Faithful.  True faith can be defined as believing in the Word of God (and His faithfulness) and acting upon it no matter how we feel because God said so, and because He promises a good result.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Faithfulness is simply faith in action.  We all act out of what we believe, and not just what we know…

 

Biblical faithfulness is not measured on a pass/fail scale.  It is based on the principle that each successive trial brings an increase in trust in the power of God, regardless of whether or not we feel we passed the exam.  In other words, the question is not ‘Did you pass?’ but, ‘Did you learn to trust the Lord more in it?’ Faithfulness, by its nature, must be developing, maturing and growing.  Believers who continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, increase in faithfulness, or they potentially fall victim to sin, apathy and/or apostasy.  Continual trusting and actively believing in the One who is faithful is how we keep on becoming trustworthy; it is a process that will continue until we die or meet the Lord in the air.” — , Margaret Opsal, Seven Letters

 

As long as I have breath in my lungs, I am to be faithful.  There is never an excuse that releases me from my responsibility to trust the One who is faithful and to act on His orders.  A believer can get into trouble when he begins to assume that his faithfulness is dependent solely on himself.  For some, this type of Self-Focused Faithfulness can result in a heart that completely despairs of ever being able to reach the goal of faithfulness, and it can wallow in fear and weakness, refusing to step out of the boat onto the waters where Jesus walks.  For others, this type of Self-Focused Faithfulness can result in a heart that grows large and hard, assuming that it is the only one capable of walking on the waters of its great faithfulness.  The first is paralyzed, refusing to faithful.  The second demands others follow it, not the Lord. 

 

John 14:12  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”

 

“Unbelief says:  Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us.  Faith says:  Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us!  With our feet on the ground, and our head cool, but with our heart ablaze with the love of God, we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey, God wants to work through us!”  — A. W. Tozer

 

Psalm 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

 

The Enemy is devious, diabolical and patient.  He knows the heart of the weak who responds in fear to the faithfulness of others.  He whispers words of condemnation, causing it to focus on the perceived strengths of others in order to make it believe that its own faithfulness will never measure up to others.

 

The Enemy also knows the heart who responds in envy to the faithfulness of others.  He whispers quiet words of encouragement to that heart, causing it to focus on the perceived weaknesses of others in order to make it believe that its own faithfulness is far more than any others. 

 

Both are destructive works of the Enemy. 

 

Okay, so that’s great, Margaret, but seriously:  how do I know if my faithfulness is of the Self-Focused variety or the God-Focused kind?

 

The test is two-fold:  How do you respond to difficult circumstances?  And, how do you respond to others?

 

But, I thought we were talking about my faithfulness to the Lord?  We are.  The Word tells us that, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)  In other words, if my focus is Christ and not myself, I am going to be doing what He says. I will keep my eyes on Him, not the waves crashing around me.  I am going to read the word and adjust my own actions accordingly.  I am going to allow Him to complete in me the work that He began:  the perfection of His love through me by the Fruit of the Spirit.  I am going to follow Him, trusting that He is taking me on a path that is best for me.  The greatest concern of my day to day living, breathing, and walking is going to be:  am I where He is?  I’m not going to care how weary I am, because as long as I am where He is, He’ll be the good shepherd who knows I need His help.  I’m not going to care what the grass looks like under my feet, because I know He is a good shepherd who is leading me to places that are good for me.  I’m not going to care whether or not you are where you need to be, because I know He is a good shepherd who cares for all His sheep, not just me. 

 

Philippians 2:13-16  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life…

 

“This thought is very convicting, Lord.  I know I’ve been guilty of praising You for Your power and goodness, while secretly doubting that You were really going to work in my present situation.  Forgive me that duplicity, Lord, and give me faith to believe You for now, for here, for me.  Amen.” — A. W. Tozer

 

And, Lord, I know that I’ve been guilty of praising You for the work You have done in my own life, while secretly doubting that You are really going to work in the present situations of others.  Forgive me the duplicity, Lord, and give me faith to believe You for now, for there, for others.  Fill me with Your Spirit and clean out my heart, so that any residual Self-Focused Faithfulness is removed.  May I follow You with the humility of knowing that I am Yours by grace alone and the confidence of trusting that You will take care of all that concerns me.  May I follow You all the days of my life.

 

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)  For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

 

Amen.





It’s Not Fair

23 09 2013

“In the natural life our ambitions alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, the beginning and the end are the same, viz., our Lord Himself.  We start with Christ and we end with Him…  The aim of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful, not to win the heathen; he is useful and he does win the heathen, but that is not his aim.  His aim is to do the will of his Lord.” — Oswald Chambers

1 Peter 2:19-24 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

In preparing for tomorrow’s bible study I was struck once again by the discrepancy between Truth and my own attitude.  God’s word says that favor or grace is found when I bear up under the weight of griefs that come from suffering things that are not at all due to anything I did or did not do. It clearly promotes the idea that no credit is given for being strong in the face of that which is fairly given.

It reminds me of a credit report.  If I decide to buy a car and need to borrow money to finance it, the dealership will run my credit report.  On that report there is listed all the opportunities I have had to exercise the discipline of debt and repayment.  I get “credit” for the times I have borrowed and repaid.  If I borrow and don’t repay then I get a deduction.  My final score is determined by both positives and negatives.  When it comes to our Suffering Credit Score, we get “credit” only when we bear up under that which is not fair.  If we sin and get what we deserve, and bear up under it, that does not count toward our final score.  Okay, so it’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the point:  if we want that grace upon grace principle at work in our lives than we need to look at the attitudes that might be blocking it from coming.

“Whether we like it or not, all Christians are an advertisement for Christianity; by their lives, they either commend it to others or make them think less of it.  The strongest missionary force in the world is the Christian life.” — William Barclay

Matthew 5:10-12  Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We have been called for the purpose of bearing up under the weight of unfair treatments because it gives us the opportunity to mirror Jesus to the world around us.  If I am just like the world in my attitude, why would anyone want my Christianity.  Jesus example was absolutely and completely counterintuitive to every other person EVER.  He suffered more utterly unjustly than any of us ever will, and yet, for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.  He despised the shame of it all but did not waver.  (Hebrews 12:2)

I have dug my feet into the big but of “It’s not fair!” more times than I can even begin to count.  And each time, I have lost out on a measure of grace that could have been mine.

“But, Margaret, if I have to DO something to get the grace, than it isn’t grace at all, is it?”

What a good question!

It is not the work of bearing up under that brings the grace, it is the positioning of a soul that brings it.  The spout of grace is already on, if I am a believer.  I don’t have to DO anything to turn it on, but I can choose whether or not to stand under it or not.

One of the things I love about God is that He is always, always, always faithful to the soul who bows low in humility and dependence on Him.  Even if I sin and bring consequences on myself, if I truly repent and turn to Him, He pours out His grace upon me so that even in those circumstances, I am able to glorify Him.  Too often, though, I am so set on my attitude of “It’s not fair” that I don’t see my need to repent and return to Him.

So, what does that
look like in real life?

How about the spouse who cheerfully sticks it out in a marriage that is not meeting his or her needs and does not stop doing the things that bless?

How about the employee who cheerfully endures ridicule by co-workers and continues to share the kindness of the Lord with them?

How about the parent who cheerful bears up under the weight of rebellious children and continues to pray and love on them?

How about the friend who cheerfully sticks by the friend who is unwilling or unable to return the friendship and never stops praying for them and being available to them?

How about the believers who cheerfully sustains a kind and loving spirit toward the ones who hate them and want their death?

I will never be able to do the last if I have not practiced the principle in other areas.  It is time for me to begin to build my Suffering Credit Score so that when the time comes (and it will come!) for me to stand firm in the face of death for my faith it will be such a habitual part of my attitude that all the Grace I need will be there and it will be a no-brainer.

Oh, Lord!  You alone know what a big whiner I am and how hard it is to move past the attitude of “it’s not fair”!  But You alone are the One who can so powerfully consume my heart and mind with Your grace and truth to set me free from it.  I submit my rights and my right to my rights to You.  I trust You, O Lord, to be faithful.  I trust You, O Lord, to be huge.  I trust You, O Lord, to be here with me so that like the three Jewish boys in the fiery furnace, the enemy will have to acknowledge that the fires have not hurt me but have brought Your presence and glory.





Have You Seen God Move?

31 07 2013

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.

God is moving today. He is moving powerfully and wonderfully. He is moving in the most unlikely of vessels. He is moving to make bold leaders from the fearful. He is moving to make bright lights from those hidden in the shadows. He is moving to make pillars of strength from the weak in character. He is moving to make vessels of honor for His use from the stained and dirty. He is moving to make victorious warriors from those who were bound and imprisoned. He is moving to make trumpets of joy from the depressed and grieving. He is making teachers of truth from the foolish. He is moving to make prophetic visionaries from the blind and myopic.

Luke 18:27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

Have you seen Him move lately? Are you looking for Him to move? Are you looking for Him to move in the right places?

He is moving to take the things that are not and make them so, because He can. It is those that are, and know it, that become unyielding vessels in which He cannot work.

Our God specializes in the impossible so I will stop praying for the mundane. I will stop waiting for the ordinary. I am going to pray for the AMAZING and wait for the MIRACULOUS. Why wouldn’t I? Nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17).

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the [crushed] and [depressed] of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the [depressed] And to revive the heart of the [crushed].”

When I see or experience a great deficit than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for His filling.

When I see or experience an overwhelming burden than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for Him to carry it.

When I see or experience incapacitating weakness than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for His strength to be perfected.

When I see or experience the sorrow of something dead or missing than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for Him resurrection to bring new life.

When I see or experience a complete and utter lack of love than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for His unfailing love to ignite a flame of passion that cannot be extinguished.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Lord is giving us a vision for our future and it is good, because it is ALL Him. We don’t have to understand it or try to figure out what it looks like in an ever disheartening view of our circumstances and culture, because faith is the principle by which we live. And that small window that He is giving us to Him moving in the weak, the foolish, the grieving, the fearful, and the despised is His Light reminding us that He isn’t done being a God of Miracles yet.

Numbers 11:23 The LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”





Hot Pursuit

24 07 2013

Psalm 105:4 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

 There are two separate words which are both translated “seek” in this verse.  In my opinion, it loses a lot of the vividness of the picture of the passion and method with which  the Spirit is telling us to seek our God:

 Follow the Lord and His strength in hot pursuit as one would a lover; search out His face specifically in worship and prayer without stopping.

 “Put yourselves under his protection. Regard him not as a puny God, but look unto his omnipotence, and seek to know the power of his grace. We all need strength; let us look to the strong One for it. We need infinite power to bear us safely to our eternal resting place, let us look to the Almighty Jehovah for it.

 Seek, seek, seek, we have the word three times, and though the words differ in the Hebrew, the sense is the same. It must be a blessed thing to seek, or we should not be thus stirred up to do so. To seek his face is to desire his presence, his smile, his favour consciously enjoyed.  First we seek him, then his strength and then his face; from the personal reverence, we pass on to the imparted power, and then to the conscious favour. This seeking must never cease — the more we know the more we must seek to know. Finding him, we must ‘our minds inflame to seek him more and more.’ He seeks spiritual worshippers, and spiritual worshippers seek him; they are therefore sure to meet face to face ere long.” — C. H. Spurgeon

 How much I need to remember to not be content with a glimpse of the Lord, of what He can do, of His personal and unfailing love.  May I want more, actively pursue more and never ever be satisfied with just a moment with my Lord!

 Psalm 27:8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”

 May the Lord take our faces, even now, in His loving hands and turn them gently to His.  May we spend our whole day with that vision in our hearts so that we may shine like lights in the darkness as beacons of His unfailing love and grace.  And may every difficulty, distress, insult and weakness be filtered through that clear view of His face so that we rest peacefully in who HE is. 

 





Does It Matter?

25 06 2013

DOES IT MATTER HOW WE LIVE?

It is unfortunate that sometimes the words we need to hear from the Lord are the ones that we are most familiar with and, so, we are quicker to dismiss them.  There is a deception circulating the body of Christ whose emphasis is Freedom in Christ, but whose end result is Freedom of the Flesh.

Are we free in Christ to do whatever we want?

In terms of losing our salvation?  Yes; yes, we are.

In terms of staying close to the Lord and maintaining the kind of anointing that furthers His kingdom, the answer is a solid “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”

(Titus 1:16)  They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

(1 John 3:1-3) See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

When the Apostle Paul exhorts us that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” he is referring to slavery to the kind of legalism that says a person must add to what Christ did on the cross in order to be saved (5:4).  The key thought of the Book of Galatians is “Salvation by Faith.”

The people who perpetuate the notion that Freedom in Christ means that we can do whatever we want because we are saved, tend to not continue on past the first verses of the fifth chapter of Galatians, because it clearly shows that true salvation walks in the Spirit, where the Spirit walks, and how the Spirit walks, and therefore, bears the Fruit of the Spirit.

(Galatians 5:16-25) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 

There are clearly two options for the believer:  walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit.  And that is where our freedom lies.  You the direction you want to go, but we must realize that the direction DOES matter.

(Galatians 6:7-9) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 

The seeds of the flesh sprout quickly and bear fruit that satisfies momentarily.  The fruit eaten, though, quickly turns to poison and begins to produce death.

The seeds of the Spirit sprout slower, because the roots are going deeper to produce a solid stalk on which to bear the kind of fruit that satisfies permanently; it satisfies the soul, and continues to bear more fruit, so that it becomes a source of life.

(James 1:14-15) But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 

According to James, it is our very own desire that gets us into trouble.  We falsely assume that lust refers only sexual desires so as long as we aren’t having actual physical sexual intercourse outside of marriage, these verses do not apply to us.  Not so, the word means “a deep longing for anything, especially for that which is forbidden.”  It is our desires that bait us, they seduce us.  We enjoy the flirty, never really intending to go any further with it; but by the nature of bait, it gets its hooks in and does not let go until we are lying in a pan as dinner for the enemy.

(Titus 2:11-14 ESV) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, looking for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.

The grace of God saves AND instructs us.  It teaches us to “just say ‘no'” to behavior that isn’t characteristic of the Lord (1 John 2:3-6).  It teaches us to “just say ‘no'” to the seemingly tasty morsels the world offers us (1 John 2:15-17).  The grace of God also trains us to live in such a way that we control SELF and choose to live the kind of lives that reflect our Savior (Galatians 2:20; 1 John 1:5-9).  The focus is not on what we do as much as on WHO we are doing it for.

(1 Corinthians 6:12, 20)  All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful to me, but I will not be mastered by anything… For you have been bought with a price:  therefore glorify God in your body.

Some would point out that there is no specific commandment from God regarding particular behaviors, and so they have freedom to exercise them if they choose.  That is when it is important to remember that sin is a direction, not a line that we cross.  Have you ever wondered how a solid believer can fall so hard and land so far from the things of the Lord without even seeming to care?  It is because they assumed they could dance so close to the line of sin and not fall victim to its lures.  This is foolishness and the enemy delights in it.

(Romans 13:11-14) Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Some will point out that they are very involved in church, that they love the Lord, and that they are still in their Word everyday, so a little smoking here, an inappropriate movie there, a tiny dip into the pool of fantasy through video games or daydreams… isn’t a big deal. What they don’t realize is that they have a tiny island of rock on which they have one foot standing, in the middle of acres of quicksand; and it won’t take but a little bit to blow them right off their foundation into the miry depths waiting for them (Matthew 7:24-27).

(Philippians 3:7-12) But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 

Any area of behavior that we feel the need to defend with a self-righteous argument of freedom in Christ should probably give us cause to wonder if the enemy has inadvertently found a place in which to put a hook.

(Philippians 2:14-16) Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…

What does your behavior say to the world around you?  Does it scream to the lost that you love the Lord enough to follow Him, even when it means not being able to do the things that you’d really like to do? 

(John 12:25-26) He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

If you are truly saved by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you were rescued from the land of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of God as His kid (John 1:12; Colossians 1:13-14); and you have the freedom to choose (Joshua 24:15).  Your choice in any given area reflects the whole of your choice.  Choose Life for your own sake and for the sake of those around you (Deuteronomy 30:15-17).

(Ephesians 4:1)  Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.





Psalm 145 in Action

24 06 2013

Psalm 145

(1) I will exalt You, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. (2)  I will praise You every day; yes, I will praise You forever.  (3) Great is the LORD!  He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure His greatness. (4) Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts; let them proclaim Your power.  (5) I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendor and Your wonderful miracles.  (6) Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness.  (8)  The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  (9) The LORD is good to everyone.  He showers compassion on all His creation.  All of your works will thank You, LORD, and Your faithful followers will praise You.  (10) All of Your works will thank You, LORD, and Your faithful followers will praise You.  (11) They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom; they will give examples of Your power.  (12) They will tell about Your might deeds and about the majesty and glory of Your reign.  (13) For Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  You rule throughout all generations.  The LORD always keeps His promises; He is gracious in all He does.  (14) The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.  (15) The eyes of all look to You in hope; You give them their food as they need it.  (16) When You open Your hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.  (17) The LORD is righteous in everything He does; He is filled with kindness.  (18) The LORD is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.  (19) He grants the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them.  (20) The LORD protects all those who love Him, but He destroys the wicked.  (21) I will praise the LORD, and may everyone on earth bless His holy name forever and ever.

Exalt [Him] I will lift Him up.

Praise [His name; Him] I will admire, honor and worship Him.

Tell [of His mighty acts] I tell others what He has done for me.

Proclaim [His power] I will tell others how His power benefited me.

Meditate [His majestic splendor and miracles] I will continually think of how wonderful and great He is, and of all the ways He has intervened on my behalf.

Thank [Him] I will be consciously grateful for all He has given me and done for me.

Speak [of the glory His Kingdom] I will tell others of the wonderful place He has provided for His people in eternity.

Give examples [of His glory] I will tell others specific stories of how He exalted Himself through circumstances in my life to His credit and for my good.

Call [on Him] I will call on Him and not on others when I am in need.

Fear [Him] I will honor and respect Him because He is God.

Cry [to Him for help] I will cry to Him alone when I need help, trusting Him to be there for me at all times.

Love [Him] I will love Him in a personal, devoted way that includes obedience and submission.

Bless [His Holy Name] I will walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am feeling like my life is out of control, I will remember that my God:

Is King

Is great

Is powerful

Is near

Answers my prayers

I will exalt Him, meditate on His majestic splendor and call on Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am feeling sad, I will remember that my God:

Is compassionate

Exercises unfailing love

Is close at hand

I will praise Him, meditate on His miracles, thank Him, cry to Him for help and love Him.

THEREFORE,

When I have sinned, I will remember that my God:

Is merciful

Is compassionate

Is slow to anger

Exercises unfailing love

Is good

Keeps His promises

Is gracious

Is righteous

Saves

I will exalt Him, fear Him, love Him and bless Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am worried, I will remember that my God:

Is God

Is King

Is Great

Exercises unfailing love

Is powerful

Keeps His promises

Is willing to help

Satisfies the hunger and thirst of His people

Is Near

Answers prayers

Saves

Protects

Destroys the wicked

I will exalt Him, meditate on His majestic splendor and past miracles, will proclaim His power and will cry out to Him for help.

THEREFORE,

When I am feeling lonely, I will remember that my God:

Is compassionate

Exercises unfailing love

Is good

Keeps His promises

Gracious

Is close at hand

I will praise Him, thank Him, love Him, call to Him, and bless Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am afraid, I will remember that my God:

Is God

Is King

Is Great

Exercises unfailing love

Always Keeps His promises

Is near

Answers prayers

Saves

Protects

Destroys the wicked

I will exalt Him, praise Him, tell of His mighty acts, meditate on His splendor and miracles, fear Him, cry to Him for help, love Him and bless Him.

THEREFORE,

When I am sick, I will remember that my God:

Is compassionate

Exercises unfailing love

Is good

Keeps His promises

Is willing to help

Satisfies those who have need

Is near

Answers prayers

Saves

Protects

I will proclaim His power, meditate on His miracles, give examples of His glory, cry to Him for help, and love Him.