image_pdfimage_print
How Do You Spend your Time?

How Do You Spend Your Time? part II, Loving God, part XXIX

image_pdfimage_print

Last time, in the post: “How Do You Spend Your Time? part 1“, we discussed giving God our best in regards to our time. I specifically addressed the “quiet time”, or “alone time” with Him. I believe that this “alone time” is the most important and primary element to obeying the greatest commandment:

Matthew 22:  37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Ideally, it’s also best not to put a limit on this time. When I start reading His Word and I have to keep looking at my watch it becomes a great distraction and I’m not able to focus on what I’m reading. Just like listening to my wife and continually watching a ball game or checking my watch. If it’s disrespectful and dishonors my wife, isn’t it the same for God? Just because the Living God is invisible doesn’t mean we should treat Him any different than a person in the flesh. When we are spending time with Him, take it as seriously as being with someone you deeply respect.

This week I’d like to focus on not only the first but also the second commandment which should not be overlooked:

Matthew 22:  39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Reading the Bible and spending time alone with God is not enough

God has wired us for relationships and the process of spiritual growth is no different.

One practical reason is to learn from a mature believer, read this incredible account:

Acts 8: 30 …Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. [They read from Isaiah]…
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.

You see, the eunuch needed instruction (verse 31) and he was obviously eager to learn. God called Philip to meet him so that he could understand and come to know God in the flesh, Jesus. I don’t know how many times that I thought I understood a passage only to find out that I had no understanding when talking to a mature believer. God was gracious enough to put people, mature believers, in my life that I can discuss the scriptures with regularly and this keeps me on a good path. They do not know everything, but they typically understand things more than me. They have been invaluable to my growth.

We teach each other

Colossians 3: 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I experience this every week on our Bible Team calls, with the exception of singing. The idea is that the individual reads the Bible, God will reveal a truth or make it plain to the reader, then they will share that truth with their brother or sister (in Christ) and there can be an even exchange between two people regarding what they have been reading and what they received from it. Two people will read the same verse, yet have two different perspectives of it, this is very dynamic and is exciting. In effect, everyone is a teacher and/or counselor in some aspect.

Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

As the believer continues to grow, with the acquired knowledge comes responsibility:

Luke 12: 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

I know that this is a general concept, but it certainly applies to wisdom and knowledge gained. You may be just starting out in studying the Scriptures and not much is required of you. Your assignment is to continue learning (Josh. 1:8). As the learning progresses there is a time to apply it or teach it.

Personal/informal beats impersonal/formal every time

Maybe it’s not teaching in a formal sense, but when discussing the Scriptures with others, this knowledge can be shared to encourage and equip the saints. I believe just like we love God through the investment/offering of our time, we also love each other by giving our time. This blesses the teacher even more than the student:

Acts 20: 35 And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Another element of these special, godly relationships, other than getting to know God, is getting to know each other. In that process, we learn about each other’s fears, weaknesses, strengths, desires, and backgrounds. This is true fellowship where we can build each other up and pray for each other. These relationships become safe havens where we can discuss things that we can’t share with most other people. Formal Bible studies are great, but I find these types of meetings to be much more fruitful and enjoyable. Where we not only discuss the Bible and what we learn but about each other.

Very small, intimate meetings are essential

If you are not enjoying a relationship or a meeting time with a small group or an individual then you are missing out on a most crucial element of being a believer. Where else can we exercise this command:

Galatians 6: 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Let’s face it, we all have baggage from abusive relationships, heretical doctrines, past mistakes, etc. These essential relationships which should be regular Divine Appointments are where we truly develop into mature believers, in combination of course, with our “alone time”. These meetings, which God sets up, should be taken as seriously as any meeting scheduled with a client or your boss. If we are truly seeking to please God, we should treat this time as serious as any other time.

Without Discipleship, our service will dry up

I am convinced that this time, spent in regular fellowship, is more important than time spent in ministry. This is where we get our bearings, restoration, and encouragement. If we miss out on this time, then any time in ministry or service becomes less and less effective. The more time in this intimate fellowship the more driven we become to minister to others and that’s the way it should be. The disciples hung out with Jesus and spent time learning about the Kingdom of God before they started ministering to others. Even beyond the three years of Christ’s ministry, the fellowship never stopped.

Here is a great verse that illustrates this beautifully:

Acts 2: 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

If you have no one to spend this time with, feel free to get on our call on Monday evenings. Details are on the theBibleTeam.com. I realize that it is over the phone and we focus mostly on Bible Reading, but it would be a start and for those of you that are isolated, it’s a great start.

Will you spend time with others?

“Dear Lord, I praise your name. Thank you for leading me. Lord, please guide me to the person or small group that you want me to be involved with. Open my heart so that I can receive new friends and see opportunities for friendship. Help me to balance my schedule to that I can figure out how to make the time for fellowship and change my heart in the process. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Do You Spend Your Time?

How Do You Spend Your Time? part I, Loving God, part XXVIII

image_pdfimage_print

Let’s talk about time, our most precious commodity. In my last message, “Are You Being Careful?”,  we discussed being careful when it comes to obeying God. When it comes to being a disciple of our risen Lord, if we take the calling seriously, we choose to be more careful when it comes to following Him.

This message will help you learn to be more careful.

The time we decide to spend with God, whether it be reading His Word or praying, it should never be considered “spare time”. I’m sure you know about spare time. That’s time not already allocated. The time in between meetings, maybe the time after eating and before returning to work. Maybe it’s time before going to bed.

Before I go any further, I want to make this clear. The decision to pray or read the Bible during spare time is ALWAYS a good decision, that is a precious use of any extra minutes to get caught up or to pray for a friend, or call a friend to reach out. That will keep us in touch with what really matters. What I am getting at is on a regular basis, schedule time with God, time that is not “left over”.

God desires our best

Gen 4: 3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

Why didn’t God accept Cain and his gift? I think that the difference is “Cain presented some of his crops” where “Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock” There was clearly nothing special about Cain’s gift, lackluster “some of his crops”. While Abel brought the “best”.

In the Old Testament…

Leviticus 23: 12 On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect

And in the New Testament…

Romans 12: 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

This verse reminds me to put Him first. Not only with the “first fruits” of my wages or profit, but also with my time.

The purpose of this message is to discuss the “quiet time” or “God time” as Jesus modeled:

Luke 5: 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

So if we strive to be like Jesus, let’s learn from this. Where do you think He got His power? And where do you think He got His direction? This is where the action happens. You can only live your life at work, or around family so long before needing to tap into the One that gives us strength and direction. When you daily decide to give Him your most precious gift, which is time, that is what leads to true change.

Never equate time with money.

This belief drastically devalues time. Try telling the life-long workaholic on his deathbed “Time is money, gotta go!” How ridiculous! This idea is one of our cultures greatest lies. Try telling a child that time is money as they wait alone for their mom and dad to come home from work. My point is that time is something we can never get back and until we understand that, life will leave us short changed. For those of you that find yourselves out of work, take this extra, most precious commodity to seek God. For you’d be much better off finding God than just another job that will consume your time. After all, if we are to work at anything:

Luke 13: 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.

and to keep things in perspective:

Matthew 6: 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

God, I really want to know you more

I could never tell you how much time you should spend alone with God. I can tell you a little about my daily time and maybe that will help. When I set out to read through the Bible on January 1, 2007, I did not have a good relationship with God at the time, but that was my desire. Along with trying to read every day, I would start with prayers such as “God, I really want to know you more”, which I still pray, and I would also pray, “God, please reveal yourself to me in your Word today.”

So for me, the Bible reading came first, along with my desire to seek Him. So my prayer life at the beginning was not much to speak of, but my reading kept me in touch with Him and eventually my prayer life began to develop. I have no set amount of time per day, but after seeking Him for a length of time, it is much easier for me to spend quality time with Him daily.

Daily quiet time doesn’t happen overnight.

Please do not compare yourself to me. But consider what you can do and pray that God will lead you in meeting with Him on a daily basis. This is where you will encounter spiritual warfare, this is the LAST thing the devil wants you to do. You’ll think of everything else you could be doing when you want to meet with God. At first, it might feel weird and you might not know what to say to God other than asking Him to take care of your current needs, which is fine. It might also feel like it is out of obligation as if you “have to do it”. But if you want to get to know Him, you do “have to”. There is no other way around it.

Have you ever had a relative or maybe a friend that at first you did not know them real well, and you didn’t know what to say and you did not feel comfortable around them? But later after hanging out with them and getting to know them better, you really enjoyed the time? God is no different. My life is a testimony that we really can get to know God personally. It used to be that I prayed most times just because I knew I needed to pray, but more recently I pray because I strongly desire to pray.

As pleaded from King David, the one who was “a man after God’s own heart”

1 Chronicles 16: 11
“Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.”

It is my prayer that you’ll take God as serious as King David did.

Will you make time for God?

“Dear God, I realize that I haven’t been spending the time with you as I probably should, please forgive me. Lead me to spend more time with you. It is my desire to get to know you more. Thank you for your Word and helping me to understand where my priorities should be. Thank you for your patience with me. In Jesus name, Amen.

The time we decide to spend with God, whether it be reading His Word praying should never be considered “spare time”. I’m sure you know about spare time. That’s the time that’s not already allocated for. The time in between meetings, maybe the time after eating and before returning to work. Maybe it’s time before going to bed. Before I go any further, I want to make this clear. The decision to pray or read the Bible during spare time is ALWAYS a good decision, that is a precious use of any extra minutes to get caught up or to pray for a friend, or call a friend to reach out. That will keep us in touch with what really matters. What I am getting at is on a regular basis, schedule time with God, time that is not “left over”.


Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You Being Careful?

Are You Being Careful? Loving God, part XXVII

image_pdfimage_print

Have you gotten closer to God so far this year? I know that the year is not over, but by now you should be able to reflect somewhat on your spiritual growth as you look back. Just like observing plants, it’s rather difficult to see growth from day to day. Over 6 to 8 months there should be some indication of growth or some notable lessons learned.

If you are disappointed or would like to do better, then this message is for you.

When I started TheBibleTeam.com I stressed the idea of reading the Bible in a year. After all, that’s what I thought set me on fire, so I put the emphasis on that, a complete reading in a year’s time. While I still think it’s a great idea to read through the Bible in a year, I realize now that it’s not for everyone. While the reading load is a heavy burden for some, I still think every believer should read through the Bible regardless of how long they take.

What I hold strongly to and will not waiver on is my belief that for the Christian that desires ongoing growth over a sustained period of time, daily, or at least regular Bible reading is a must. As I stated last week, this reading is not just to read for content like we do any other reading, but should be done with the conscious effort of seeking God in the process.

Prioritize God’s Word

Christian literature or nonfiction is no substitute for the Bible when it comes to spiritual growth. Although there is value in Christian writing it always comes from the author’s perspective, out of the author’s mind, and even when they use Scripture it is diluted.

God has preserved His Word over thousands of years through many scribes and a painstaking process. Everyone knows that it is Holy, but it seems that too often it takes a back seat to the “latest and greatest” Christian book that a pastor or author has written. We are then filling our minds with what these authors are saying about God or what God said to them, but we are missing out on what God wants to say to us.

It’s sort of like wanting to love your spouse only by spending time with people who know all about your spouse. They quote your spouse and tell you all about your spouse. You might learn something about your spouse, but do you know your spouse? It’s second hand and it’s never the same as talking to your spouse directly.

Go directly to God!

If the goal of being a Christian is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then wouldn’t it be a good idea to spend time with Him and His Book directly?

This is by far my favorite verse when it comes to daily Bible reading and it stands on its own:

Joshua 1: 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Let’s discuss the word “meditate” for a moment. What does that mean to you? To me, it means thinking and pondering about what I’ve been reading. Ideally, I like to bookend my days with Scripture, morning and evening. It starts off my day with Him in mind and it ends my day on a good note. This is a great idea, especially after a “bad” day!

What’s great about reading the Bible daily while conversing with the Author is that it has a wonderful way of keeping us on His path. God is constantly reminding us of what we need to be doing to stay close to Him.

Psalm 25: 8 The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.

We’ve all gone astray, isn’t this a comforting message?

What Moses said.

While reading Deuteronomy I noticed that Moses continually reminds the Israelites to “carefully obey” God’s laws. Here’s one example:

Deuteronomy 31: 12 Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions.

Here’s what Jesus had to say:

Luke 6: 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

 Does this make you want to be careful to obey?
 Luke 8: 21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

I think Jesus is giving us a clue on how to belong in His heavenly family. How often do you hear the Word of God? Is it just on Sundays? (Assuming your pastor teaches from the Word of God.)

It’s about taking responsibility for your faith.

What I love about learning to read the Word and discern what it says is that we are actually taking responsibility for our spiritual growth. We should not rely on our pastors for spiritual growth. I think it is far better to have a friend (that also loves God) read along with you and have regular discussions over it. This makes it that much more personal.
What does it mean then, to carefully obey?
I think it is about living your life deliberately. It means planning your days so that you set aside time to read God’s Word and prayer; rather than waiting until late at night when you’re too tired.
It is about being aware of your evil thoughts and not meditating on them:
2 Cor. 10: 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)
It is about taking the required time to spend with God. Then we can be still, hear His Words and get serious about growing in Him.

Will you be careful?

“Dear God, I admit I have not been completely serious about reading your Word and making time to meet with you. Change my heart, Lord, please teach me your ways and help me learn what it takes to be your disciple. You are my God and I choose to serve you. Thank you for what you are doing in my life and for a future spent with you. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You Learning To Trust?

Are You Learning How To Trust? Loving God, part XXVI

image_pdfimage_print

I love getting feedback, thank you! But there is one thing that I desire more than just knowing that people are reading these messages, and that is knowing that they are reading the Word. If you are a regular reader of God’s Word, would you let me know? I’d love to hear from you.

What is your greatest concern? We all have our fears, concerns, and worries at times. Life is difficult. Who can we count on? Who is truly reliable? Is there anything certain in life? Friends disappoint us, jobs dry up, and bad news comes in all forms. When I have these anxieties, and I have many, I recall this verse:

Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Don’t worry about anything!

It’s not some magical “hocus pocus” about this verse that takes all anxiety away, but it is the belief and trust in God as I recite this and then pray for whatever situation and ask Him for what I need. This is where the action is. The ability to trust in God does not happen automatically, it is developed over time like developing your muscle tone at the gym:

1 Corinthians 9: 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

If we can only develop the habit of trusting in Him, then He becomes our place of safety, and this pleases Him:

Psalm 62: 8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 91: 2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

How can we learn to trust Him?

If we are either moving closer to God or away from God, this correlates to how we trust in Him. I think it is safe to say that the closer we are to Him the more we know that we can trust in Him. How do we trust anybody? By getting to know them. Look at what happened to the Israelites that led them to be exiled:

Hosea 4: 6 My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.

Jesus addressed this very issue:

John 8: 19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”

As a reminder, who is Jesus?

John 1: 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God.

If we know the Word, we know God?

I say yes, with one qualifying statement, and this is hard to describe. There is a difference between reading the Word for content and reading the Word with the expectation of hearing God speak. This is why the prayer “Lord, please reveal yourself to me as I read your Word.” is so effective when we mean it. That being said, don’t skim the text just to get through it, read the Word as if to devour it, take it all in and chew on every sentence. Read as if your life depends on the grade for comprehension because it does!

Isaiah 55: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

Which is on par with this:

Jeremiah 29: 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

I am convinced that if we take this message seriously, we will develop a faith that is so strong that nothing will shake us.

Psalm 1: 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Did you comprehend that? That’s a pretty good promise.

Reading His Word day and night has dramatically changed my life. I’ve taken this seriously. God is teaching me many things and my faith is stronger than it ever has been. I’m seeing God’s presence in my life. He is answering my prayers and rescuing me when I call on His name. He’s also given me the best friendships and relationships that I’ve ever had. I know that He has a purpose for me and that makes me feel significant. He’s chosen me to partner with Him, just as He has chosen you:

For all who are reading this, God is speaking to you:

John 15: 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

Isn’t it about time you get to know the One who appointed you?

“Dear Lord, I long to know you. The more I know you, the more you will change my heart which will lead me to trust in you and rely on you. For nothing on this earth compares to your everlasting love and mercy. You alone are my God. You are the One I will trust in. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me and leading me into all truth. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Photo by Karan Varshnei on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life?

Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life? part 3, Loving God, part XXV

image_pdfimage_print

For the last two posts, part 1 and part 2, we’ve been discussing Samson and how He was prepared to “begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines” (Judges 13: 5)

The action started in Judges 14: 2 when Samson says “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.

But wait a minute! The law clearly states that the Israelites were not to marry foreigners:

Deuteronomy 7: 3 You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters

Just hold on, we’re about to read a truth that only the New Testament reveals.

Galatians 5: 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

Just so you know there are more than a few episodes in Scripture that we can see this happen.

It is no wonder Samson’s parents were so upset.

What Samson wanted to do and ended up doing was strictly forbidden by Mosaic Law. Imagine, if Samson wasn’t “filled with the Spirit” or “led by the Spirit” he probably would’ve kept in line with his parents. But it was God’s plan to use Samson to “work against the Philistines” and God is sovereign.

You can say all you want about Samson’s character and activities, but the fact that he made it into the “hall of faith” says a lot:

Hebrews 11: 32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.

If the Scripture writers didn’t condemn or put Samson in a negative light, why should we?

And now for Samson’s final act

What God was able to do through Samson’s death, after losing his strength and being enslaved, is nothing short of miraculous. Take a look at the end of his life:

Judges 16: 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, 30 he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.

And now, a reminder from the Apostle Paul…

Galatians 5: 1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Need I say more?

There is much more to be learned in Galatians 4 and 5.

Will you allow His Spirit lead you?

“Dear Lord, Please help me to learn all that you have to teach me. Lead me in such a way that I will desire more of you and recognize that I am on your path. This excites me Lord, but I don’t know what to expect. Please help me with my fears and thank you for all you are doing for me and leading me into truth. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

photo by Josh Marshall



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life?

Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life? part 2, Loving God, part XXV

image_pdfimage_print

If you recall from my last post, Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life? part 1, we started comparing Samson with John the Baptist. I know, an unlikely pair, right? Let’s continue…

We already mentioned the first fact:

  1. Both mothers were advanced in age and were unable to conceive.

Here are two other similarities between the two men…

      2. An angel appeared to both sets of parents.

Judges 13: 3 The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son.

Luke 1: 11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.

What is a Nazirite? (Numbers 6: 1-21)

      3. The Lord set apart Samson and John as Nazirites from birth:

Judges 13: 4 So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. 5 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.

Luke 1: 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.

Both Samson and John the Baptist are set apart as Nazirites

At this point, Manoah and his wife have got to be pretty excited knowing that their baby is to be set apart and used by God in a mighty way. I mean, what if you (as a couple) couldn’t conceive and an angel appeared to you with this news?

After given a few instructions (for being a Nazirite), they asked for more:

Judges 13: 12 So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?”
13 The angel of the LORD replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. 14 She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”

Of course, they want to raise Samson right and ask “Do you have any instructions that come with this special delivery?”.

It’s reasonable, right?

They want to know what rules they should enforce. But nope, just raise the boy as a Nazirite, “I’ll do all the rest”, is basically what God is saying here.

So Samson was born and sure enough, the Spirit begins to work in him:

Judges 13: 24 When her son was born, she named him Samson. And the LORD blessed him as he grew up. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s parents are shocked!

Judges 14: 1 One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. 2 When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”
3 His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?

But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.”

Can you imagine?! After the Lord sets apart your son that he starts lusting after some Philistine woman! What went wrong? Keep reading…

Judges 14: 4 His father and mother didn’t realize the LORD was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.

God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55: 9)

Nothing went wrong. God tells us what happened and why. Yet I hear many teachers using Samson as an example of what not to do. He was fulfilling His divine purpose, albeit unknowingly. This was prophesied in Judges 13: 5 and in 14:5 we know that God was at work in this.

To say that the direction Samson took (seeking foreign women) was a failure (or sinful) would be like saying God really screwed up. As if the Spirit didn’t guide him correctly or maybe God should have given rules.

But it’s not a failure because his whole life accomplishes what God intended to do. Following the Spirit of God won’t always makes sense to us and many times it’s counter intuitive.

There’s more to this story and the Bible has more to say about this issue, so stay tuned.

photo by Josh Marshall



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life?

Is The Spirit Guiding Your Life? part 1, Loving God, part XXV

image_pdfimage_print

This week I thought I’d highlight one of the more interesting characters of the Bible and tie his story to a New Testament truth. The whole message is quite lengthy so I decided to split it into 3 or more parts. Being led by the Spirit is something we each need to be learning to do daily, but it’s a difficult task while living in the flesh.

I remember learning about Samson in Sunday School. All I remember learning is that he had supernatural strength because of his long hair and he had a girlfriend named Delilah. Delilah gave him a hair cut and then he no longer had his strength. At least that’s what I remember.

I have learned that nothing replaces personal reading and study. When someone explains the Bible to you, without you reading it, it is from their perspective and their thoughts alone. When the “seeker” reads, with the expectation of hearing from God it leads to personal revelation, which is life changing. This is where the action happens. This is a far superior method of digesting God’s Word as opposed to devotionals and Christian books and magazines which are from the author’s perspective. For the individual to understand that God is the “only Teacher”, is invaluable.

1 John 2: 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Matthew 23: 8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.

What does this say about teachers of the Word?

They have their place, to help us learn, but it is always the Holy Spirit that teaches through them and so the glory always goes to God. The problem with pastors, authors, and Sunday school teachers, including myself, is that they can be off base. The listener can accept this “false teaching” as truth, which is problematic. This is why we need to continue reading the Word and taking new ideas back to God in prayer. He will help you discern what to do with the new teaching.

Take this word of advice from the Bereans:

Acts 17: 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

And now, back to our main topic, Samson and being guided by the Spirit

When I read the account of Samson today I realize that there is so much more to be learned about his life than what I was taught as a youngster.

The story of Samson’s birth is very similar to that of John the Baptist:

Samson’s parents could not conceive:

Judges 13: 2 In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children.
and neither could John’s:

Luke 1: 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

Next time we’ll continue comparing the early days of Samson and John the Baptist. It’s amazing how similar their lives started out.

photo by Josh Marshall



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You Free?

Are You Free? Loving God, Part XXIV

image_pdfimage_print

One topic that I think never gets old and something that I think should be taught more frequently is our freedom in Christ and how we are no longer under the law. Yes, we are free indeed!

Let’s review the old covenant:

Deuteronomy 30: 15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

This clearly says that if we love God, keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways, then we are choosing life if we obey Him. Just like the gospel message, the Israelites were given a choice and it was a matter of life and death, spiritually.

Why did Jesus come to earth?

Matthew 5: 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

This says that Jesus came to accomplish the purpose of the law, other translations say “fulfill the law”. We just read that if we are able to follow the law then we will have life. Which means that if Jesus accomplishes the purpose of the law, or fulfills it, then we no longer need the law.

So did He do what He said He came to do?

John 19: 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Absolutely! The work has been done. That’s why we are saved by grace and not by works.

Now let’s read this…

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Read verse 40 once more

It is quite liberating to know that we are no longer under the law. These two commandments cover all of them. Verse 37 blows me away (which I’m still trying to figure out). Let me be clear: Our salvation is not based on our efforts to follow these two commandments. We’ll always fall short.

To grow spiritually, however, I believe it is wise to live by these commandments. We should use them as our prime directives so that we can’t go wrong.

All I can say is that the more you seek God and get to know Him, the greater your desire to please Him will become.

Let’s close with this:

Titus 3:  4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Do you walk in His freedom?

“Dear Lord, I want to know you more. Your ways are so foreign to me. I easily lose focus on you and the work you completed here on earth. Thank you, Jesus, for paying the ultimate price by dying on the cross for my sins. Please help me to continue learning as I meditate on your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Enoch Hsiao on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You On God's Team?

Are You On God’s Team? Loving God, part XXIII

image_pdfimage_print

As we discussed being misfits last week I couldn’t help but think about some of the more popular misfits in the Word of God. So with a little “baseball” humor, let’s take a close look at some of the most famous misfits:

Let’s start with Joseph, our first misfit:

I classify Joseph as a misfit for two reasons:

  1. Because of the favor, he received from his father.

Genesis 37: 3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. 4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.

  1. Because of the dreams he had and the way he shared them.

5 One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. 6 “Listen to this dream,” he said. 7 “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”

8 His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.

Even his father scolded him:

10 This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?”

Joseph, son of Jacob, lines a single up the middle, runner on first.

The next misfit that comes to mind is Gideon:

Judges 6: 28 Early the next morning, as the people of the town began to stir, someone discovered that the altar of Baal had been broken down and that the Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. In their place a new altar had been built, and on it were the remains of the bull that had been sacrificed. 29 The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash.

30 “Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.”

It seems as though the whole town wanted to worship Baal, including Joash, his own father.

They wanted to kill him, but God had other plans for his life. Where did he get this boldness? You should read verses 1-27.

Gideon, son of Joash, hits a blooper into left field, runners on first and second. (organ plays: duh duh duh da da! charge!)

John the Baptist definitely fits into the misfit category:

Matthew 3: 1 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

4 John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food, he ate locusts and wild honey. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.

Where do I start? This is strange, here is a man that went to the wilderness, away from the people, and told everybody to repent, that’s not going to win any friends. If that wasn’t enough, he certainly wasn’t trendy when it came to fashion and he ate weird food.

But yet, he attracted the masses! If this isn’t the power of God I don’t know what is. People today try to make themselves trendy, fit in and hang out with the crowd. Not John the Baptist.

John the Baptist, son of Zechariah, bunts and gets an infield single, the bases are loaded. Batting cleanup, Jesus, son of God! (the crowd roars)

Now for the Sinless One, the ultimate Misfit:

Matthew 26: 3 At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, 4 plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him.

The Jewish leadership didn’t accept Him.

Matthew 9: 24 “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”But the crowd laughed at him.

Crowds laughed at Him.

John 6: 51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;”

He said the strangest stuff.

Luke 23: 18 Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd, and with one voice they shouted, “Kill him, and release Barabbas to us!”

The crowd turned on Him.

John 6: 65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”

66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

His disciples left Him.

Matthew 26: 55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Eventually, even the faithful 11 disciples left Him.

He was such a misfit that they had Him crucified:

Mark 15: 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.

And if that isn’t enough, when dead people normally stay dead, Jesus didn’t even stay dead!

John 21: 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

With one swing of the bat, that ball is long, long gone. It’s a home run! a grand slam! All runners are saved at home. (the crowd praises God)

Just a few thoughts on these four men:

  1. People around them wanted them killed, 2 of them were.
  2. They were each set apart for God’s special purposes in their own times.
  3. They were all very different. Joseph was simply favored and shared his dreams. Gideon was shown a few miracles and then was ready to obey the Most High God. John the Baptist had the spirit of Elijah. Jesus is God in the flesh.

If people don’t like you because you love Jesus, good. If you feel weird because you’d rather discuss the Bible rather than last night’s game, good. If your friends stop asking you out to the clubs so that you can watch them get drunk together, God is changing you and that is an awesome thing.

If God is calling you to be different, don’t think twice about it. Maybe He just wants you to be your true self and excel at the talents and gifts He’s already blessed you with. If He wants to give you new talents, that can happen. Like writing, for instance, I was not a writer until earlier this year and God has been giving me things to say.

So step up to the plate and get on base. The risen Savior has hit the home run that allows those that trust in Him to be safe at home (Paradise)!

To close us out, let’s hear from another famous misfit, Paul the Apostle:

Galatians 1: 10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Who are you pleasing?

“Dear Lord, I really struggle with wanting to please people more than you. It’s hard for me to be different. Please change my heart, Lord. Make me want to follow you at any cost. I desire to win your favor, as your servant Moses had. Thank you for leading me and teaching me new things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Photo by Frantzou Fleurine on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You A Misfit?

Are you a Misfit? Loving God, part XXII

image_pdfimage_print

I don’t know about you but I like to fit in and I don’t like being a misfit. I never wanted to be the last choice in a pickup football game and at times I’d laugh at jokes even if I didn’t think it was funny, just to “fit in”.

We all belong to groups, even beyond grade school. We are in groups for work, hobbies, Bible studies, church, school, networking and the list goes on. As our relationship with God grows, things start to change. The more we recognize our Lord’s voice the more we desire to change:

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Deuteronomy 30:6 “The Lord your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!

So the more we love God, the less we love the world.

1 John 2: 15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

As we continue to remain in Him, transformation happens

Our values change, habits change, friendships change, thoughts change, and desires change. If they’re not changing, then there’s no growth. Habits and long-time desires, of course, do not change overnight, so this is not necessarily evident in some areas but other areas should show it.

For me, I may pray for change in a specific area of my life that never seems to change, but I can see changes in other areas that I hadn’t realized needed changing. What this shows me is that God will change me on His terms, the way He prefers, not mine.

Jeremiah 18:6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.

So what impact does this have on the relationships in our groups? We become a misfit. Simply meaning that we no longer “fit in”. The desire to talk about real estate, work, baseball, TV all the time will change. The desire to hang out with the guys that disparage their wives will disappear. Instead of agreeing with people and sharing in their despair over the poor economy, you’ll want to share the hope we have in God and not participate in the meaningless, unconstructive conversation.

You may see this in your church as well. I remember as a young man there were the “good” kids and the “bad” kids. The bad kids did not take Sunday School seriously, and the good kids enjoyed church and had respect for instruction. So when I’d repent during a revival meeting (remember those?), the next week I’d be hanging around the good kids. I know there are adult versions of these groups as well.

It’s OK to be disliked.

As we change, some people in those groups may start disliking you. Some may keep their distance simply because “you’re not the same anymore” and they’re right. A few may be attracted to the change and may inquire about it.

These are good signs. For me, I remember feeling like going through a second adolescence. I felt weird, uncomfortable and not really sure of myself. Instead of being influenced, we are becoming the influencers:

Jeremiah 15:

19 This is how the Lord responds:

“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!

This is awesome. Isn’t it great that we can use this ancient passage that was meant originally for Jeremiah and use it for ourselves?

Misfits in the world, at home with God

I discovered that this is all a part of the process of being set apart.

Leviticus 20:26 You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.

I don’t know about you, but I can not relate to being holy, at least I don’t feel holy anyway, but I know that only through the blood of Jesus we are made holy, and that is a wonderful thing to remember. And I most certainly desire to be holy, at least on most days. 🙂

1 Corinthians 1:2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

I love to see New Testament verses that seem to directly relate to Old Testament verses.

And now for one of my favorite verses

Romans 12: 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

How will this transformation happen? Only through “reprogramming” our minds. Replace novels and/or TV with Bible reading, exchange gossip with going out with godly friends, and pleading to God to change your heart on a daily basis. If you truly want to change, seek the Lord with all your heart.

John 6: 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

Will you seek change?

“Dear Lord, I can begin to see the changes in my life and I thank you for putting me on this path. Please keep me from falling away and help me to understand what being set apart really means for me. I praise your name. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash



Did you enjoy this post?     Subscribe
If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.