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Who Are You Working For?

Who Are You Working For?

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Proverbs 1:
18 But these people set an ambush for themselves;
they are trying to get themselves killed.
19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
it robs them of life.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word greed as follows:

“a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed”

When our focus is on money it only means that everything else loses focus and is lost in the picture. This means that the object of our vision is money and nothing else.

Luke 16: 13 “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.”

Generally speaking, we all perform activities in exchange for money or needs to be met. This is known as employment or work.

Have you ever heard someone tell you “I just work here for the money.” Or “I need this job for the money.”?

If our motive for employment is money, then that is where our focus lies. That’s really why we get out of bed. Either the job or the compensation becomes our god or gods. This is because the job is looked upon as our provider.

Where is God in that equation? What is God’s role in that picture?

Genesis 22: 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

If Jesus is truly our Lord and Master isn’t He the Ultimate Provider? He is the One responsible for seeing that our needs are taken care of. That’s His role.

Matthew 6: 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

What has been dominating your thoughts?

Here’s another way He puts it:

John 6: 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” (NASB)

This tends to change our focus, doesn’t it? Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that you quit your job tomorrow. What I am saying is that you should work as if called for a higher purpose, which we are:

Colossians 3: 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

If we live by these verses and have them be our driving force, as if to say “Jesus wants me out of bed by 7:00 so that I can work for Him.” then our focus is placed on Him, not the job, nor the money.

The job then becomes the work or the service that He’s given us to do, whether we enjoy it or not. Again, not to be misunderstood, I’m not saying never to leave your job either, as this message is simply a concept to change our heart and look at our daily work activities from a spiritual perspective. Whether you change jobs or not is between you and your Master, but rest assured that His desire is that we learn to trust in Him, and not our employer or the money they pay us.

Psalm 34: 10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

When God is clearly in focus, money becomes a tool and simply a blessing (or curse), nothing more.

Looking back to the opening passage, “Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.” It’s no wonder that this is true. If our focus and motives are on anything but Jesus, who gives life, then we are robbed of that life.

To summarize these thoughts I think I can say “Don’t work for money but for God’s great purposes.” An eternal purpose and a healthy fear of the Lord is a more powerful driving force than money. After all, who wouldn’t want to report to the God of all creation every day? Doesn’t this perspective change our attitude about everything we do?

John 5: 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”

In a closing thought, ask yourself this, in this most famous of Psalms: “Can I recite this first verse personally?”

Psalm 23:
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.

Why do you work and who do you work for?

“In Jesus name, I pray that I can work for you with a willing and cheerful heart, giving my life in service to you. O God, thank you for calling me to be involved with your family business. It is for you that I get out of bed. Please help me to carry out all the work you’ve put in my life and change my heart so that I can be more obedient to you. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you, Lord”

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash



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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 Open To God's Teaching?

Are You Open To God’s Teaching?

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Are you allowing God to teach you? If only more people would seek God for His wisdom, personally, and learn from Him how to treat others the world would be a much better place wouldn’t it?

Today I’d just like to examine a few passages that I think are great for learning godly interpersonal and parenting skills.

Are you ready to learn from the Master?

This is probably one of the most famous of Christ’s teachings on treating others. We all know it as the “Golden Rule”:

Matthew 7: 12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

I think this one verse, if meditated on, can take us a long way towards being a loving person. It simply requires some careful thought when interacting with others in your life.

Thoughts such as “My wife’s had a rough day, perhaps I should clean up around the house so she won’t have to.”

Isn’t it amazing how this one sentence covers the essence of a vast portion of the Old Testament? Yet it’s so simple!

In this next passage, I love how we can learn from God’s example. Let’s read…

Genesis 4: 8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

What I love about this is that God knew all along that Cain killed Abel. Instead of accusations, condemnation, and anger, God simply asks a question: “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” He lovingly allows Cain to confess. He gives Cain a chance to repent. Perhaps you had or have a parent that is not so loving. A typical reaction for a parent to deal with a child who knowingly disobeyed is to yell, accuse and be quick to judge. God is not that way, isn’t that good news?

Here’s another great example of God’s perfect parenting skills:

Jonah 4: 6 And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

7 But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 8 And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

In verse 8 Jonah states that he’d rather be dead and he was angry. What comes to my mind are the typical responses such as “You shouldn’t be angry.”, “Why are you angry?” or “I can’t believe you’re angry.” God takes a different path and asks “Is it right for you to be angry?” This changes everything doesn’t it? It requires Jonah to think about whether his heart is right and does not invalidate his feelings.

Doesn’t Jonah remind you of a little kid? I find this exchange a bit comical, but I think it’s ignorance on my part as I cannot begin to relate to Jonah in this setting.

And then there’s Moses…

Exodus 5: 22 Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

Exodus 6: 1 Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!”

In this exchange, we read that Moses is frustrated, confused and exasperated. I’d think that God would want to defend Himself, but God does not bother. He simply tells Moses, if I may paraphrase: “Just wait, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

You may wish to read a similar exchange with His servant Gideon in Judges 6: 11-14.

This last verse sums it up, doesn’t it?

Psalm 103: 13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

What is God teaching you?

“Dear God, Thank you for your Word so that I might know how to live. Please keep me on your path so that I can continue to learn from you. In Jesus name, amen.”

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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.
What Does God Really Desire?

What Does God Really Desire?

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One day, while reading Psalm 30, the following verses caught my attention:

Psalm 30: 8 I cried out to you, O Lord.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
9 “What will you gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O Lord.”

What intrigued me is the question David asked: “Can my dust praise you?” Now, what kind of question is that? Then I re-read the first part of the verse “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave?”

I thought to myself, “What can we give God that He doesn’t already have? What could He possibly want from me?” But there in the same verse is the answer! It is our praise that He desires.

But does praise come automatically? If you meet someone for the first time, only spending a few minutes with them, will you be able to tell others about what a great person they are? Of course not.

We praise God because of the good things He has done for us, the mercy He has shown us, and the lessons He teaches us. These experiences are really only appreciated after trusting in Him long enough to experience them.

How do we trust in Him?

1 Chronicles 28:  9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.10 So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”

To know God is to love God, to love God is to trust God.

Only when we place our trust in Him will we obey Him.

It all starts with knowing God, and the more we do that, the more we desire to worship and serve Him. Praise will then naturally follow.

John 14: 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (NASB)

Consider this verse from Hosea:

Hosea 6:  6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

One reason I like this verse is because Jesus quoted it twice (Matt. 9:13; Matt 12:7)

I think this Psalm helps illustrate this:

Psalm 50: 
7 “O my people, listen as I speak.
Here are my charges against you, O Israel:
I am God, your God!
8 I have no complaint about your sacrifices
or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns
or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains,
and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls?
Do I drink the blood of goats?
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,
and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.”  …
23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
If you keep to my path,
I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, God created us and the world that surrounds us so He doesn’t really need anything. But think about why He created us:

Colossians 1: 16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.

If we’re created “for him”, shouldn’t we get to know Him?

Because we are stamped “Made by God”, is He not the One we should go back to in order to live a proper life? After all, He’s the only One who would know what a “proper life” really is.

2 Chronicles 16: 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

This is the “Heart of the matter” and is in accordance with the greatest commandment.

Doesn’t this simplify following Him? Not to say that it is easy, the Lord knows that there are so many things in life that can distract us and cause us to take our eyes off Him. But if we focus on getting to know Him and committing our hearts to Him I think we’re on the right path:

Psalm 32:
8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Here are some other applicable verses:

Psalm 51:  16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

1 Samuel 15:  22 But Samuel replied,
“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

Isn’t it a good thing that it’s not about our good deeds outweighing bad deeds? Wouldn’t that drive you crazy?

Ephesians 2: 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

He is not interested in the money you tithe, but the motive behind it.

He is not interested in the good deeds you do, but why you do them.

My friends, God doesn’t want anything from you, He just wants you.

1 Peter 1:9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Will you give Him all of your heart?

“Dear Lord, I confess that I have not always had a heart for you. In fact, at times my heart has been far from you. Please help me to focus on you. I will trust in you. Please help me to live my life in such a way that will honor you by continuously giving you thanks and singing your praises., You Lord, are my rock and my savior. You alone are my deliverer. Thank you for opening my heart and leading me on your path. In Jesus name, amen”

Photo by Łukasz Łada on Unsplash



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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 Available To Others?

Are You Available To Others?

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 What does being a Christian mean to you? Is it simply a label by which you claim your faith or does it mean something more to you?

Today I’d like us to consider the following passage in 2 Corinthians 5 to set up our discussion of making ourselves available to others.

2 Corinthians 5: 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

It seems to me that this applies to all believers, doesn’t it? I kind of like the title, Ambassador of Christ, don’t you? Could you imagine going to a business mixer or a social gathering and introducing yourself in such a way? I can see it now, “Hello, my name is Larry, I’m an ambassador of Christ, and you are?” I don’t currently do this, but I may start. I may tell people about LarryPittman.com on occasion, but I may change my primary “business” to “Ambassador of Christ” and see where the conversation goes.

But this is every believers’ title, from clerks and computer guys to doctors and dentists; for those whose identity is found in the risen Christ.

Being an ambassador means that we represent Him, we are here on His behalf. People who are genuine seekers should naturally want to hear what we have to say and we should always look for ways to invite those with “ears to hear” to hear more.

Are you available to the people in your life? Are you available to your neighbor? To make yourself available to others is to make yourself available to God.

In accordance with the greatest commandment:

Mark 12: 31a The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

These verses in John seems to clarify this verse.

John 13: 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

John 15: 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

The Word of God allows us to easily see how Jesus loved others.

Let’s peruse some passages and examine how Jesus made Himself available to those He came across.

Matthew 19: 13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Apparently, Jesus was doing something at the time and the disciples felt that He should not be bothered. This is a great illustration of Jesus accepting all who come to Him despite others that would send them away.

Mark 10: 46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

I think this is a similar example, but what I love is the sheer determination of this man who does not allow the crowd to become between Jesus and himself. Jesus could have ignored him easily and walked on, but He chose to address the man’s needs and be available.

This next example is one of my favorites:

Mark 6: 30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Notice that in verse 31 Jesus wants to rest and go to a quiet place. It also says that they didn’t even have time to eat.  Something changes His plan and redirects His attention. Note verse 34, “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Despite being hungry, tired and wanting a quiet place to rest, He sees an immediate, and more important need and starts teaching. You see He valued their spiritual hunger more than His disciples’ physical hunger.

I don’t know about you, but when I am hungry, I want to eat. I can easily forget about other’s needs for a minute while I get a bite to eat.

Proverbs 3:
27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.
28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,
“Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

This next example is a bit more extreme:

Luke 8: 41 Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. 42 His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.

As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. 43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. 48“Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Note that Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’ only daughter, who was dying. On the way to serve in this most urgent matter, He was interrupted. The woman touched Him so that she might be healed. He took the time to find out who she was and addresses her. In the meantime, if you read on you’ll see that Jairus’ daughter dies but it’s not too late for the Savior.

As we continue to seek God and continue to be transformed as we’ve discussed, we should start to see evidence that we are becoming more and more like Him.

How do you respond to these everyday, ordinary questions?

Can I run something by you?

Daddy, can you come see what I’ve made?

Do you think you could help me move this Sunday?

I need you to pick up an extra shift, can you help me out?

I got this huge favor to ask…

Could you run me to the doctor’s office?

Daughter, could you come out to visit your Dad and I this weekend?

Do you see questions, requests, or demands as an interruption? Or do you see them as an opportunity to serve? An opportunity to love someone as God would love them? Perhaps they are ways to fulfill your responsibility as an ambassador, which is actually working for God while serving others.

Note from this verse that Jesus developed quite a reputation:

Luke 7: 3 When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave.

How is your reputation? 

Do people come to you to ask for prayer or for advice? Do people come to you for comfort or for peace of mind?

Or do people think that you’re too busy or uncompassionate that they don’t bother going to you?

If you look at your life, are you available to others? Are you there to serve when needed? Have you considered God’s plan for you as a living sacrifice?

If we are truly ambassadors for Christ, doesn’t that make Him our employer? If we work for Him, doesn’t it make sense that he would have people come into our lives to give us a chance to bless them and perfect our love?

Before I close in prayer, meditate on these verses:

Romans 8: 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Romans 12: 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

1 Peter 1: 22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

1 Peter 3: 8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.

1 John 3: 18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Are you willing to serve when you are called?

“Dear God, it is my heart’s desire to please you. I confess to you that I’ve missed many opportunities to serve others only to look back with regret. Please help me to be more aware of my responsibility as your ambassador so that I can glorify you by serving others. Will you change my heart so that I may be more sensitive to the needs of others and help me to listen closely to your voice when the opportunities arise? Thank you for the privilege of serving you, please be patient with me. In Jesus’ name, amen”

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How Deep Do You Want To Grow?

How Deep Do You Want To Grow?

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I believe that the depth of our growth directly relates to the frequency of the fruit we bear.

Consider these verses:

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.

If we live a shallow life we shall yield shallow results. I think this is exactly what this verse means:

 2 Corinthians 9: 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.

In addition to daily Bible reading, I have set aside some time to read additional materials that further stimulate my spiritual growth. A very dear friend of mine encouraged me to read the book entitled “They Found the Secret” by V. Raymond Edman. The author of the book compiled mini-biographies of 20, mostly well-known, saints who have lived from the 1600’s through the 1900’s. Some of the lives he writes about include John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers, D.L. Moody, Amy Carmichael, Andrew Murray and J. Hudson Taylor.

The common thread throughout the book is that each of the subjects had a great love for God and were serving Him in the way they were led. In each of their stories, they share an experience of a deeper relationship with God or a greater presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I don’t know about you but this gives me hope!

It has led me to believe that there is more to learn and a deeper and much more satisfying experience to be found in this divine romance. (Thank you, Phil Wickham!)  Can any modern day saint actually relate to Jesus’ disciples? In some ways perhaps, but in many ways I think not, especially after the day of Pentecost. On this planet today I think there are very few if any. But those first-century saints spent time personally with the Messiah, of course, we couldn’t totally relate. Prior to His death and resurrection, however, I think much of what Jesus’ taught went over their heads. For example:

 John 17:  21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

I don’t think there is any way that the disciples could understand what Jesus is saying here. Do you understand what He means when He says “that they will all be one“? I am learning that this is a very advanced topic and that He has not yet led me to fully understand it. But I strongly believe that He will, as long as I continue to sit at his feet and long for more.

Referring back to the book I mentioned, those characters seemed to understand this verse. I think that only after the day of Pentecost could the disciples understand it. Have you ever had a “pentecostal” experience that took you to a deeper relationship with the risen Savior? This is not to be confused or limited to the Pentecostal denominations, by the way.

You will only grow as deep as those you surround yourself with.

If you are currently limiting your interaction with God and His Word on Sundays, Wednesdays and these messages, you will not grow as deep as those interacting with Him daily, seeking Him on a more frequent basis. If the believers you currently spend time with are not taking His Word seriously or are not wanting a deeper relationship with Him then you will either walk along with them or be so discontent that you will find others to “walk with”. If your pastor does not inspire you to seek a richer spiritual life then God may either be telling you to support him in prayer or to find one who has a closer walk with God.

The bottom line is that you can grow as close to God as much as you desire. It is up to you. The choice is yours. I am convinced that God desires this for your life, wherever you currently are.

James 4: 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

Jesus is alive and you can get to know Him and follow Him just as the great saints that have gone before us knew, from Abraham to Billy Graham. Jesus was there for each of them. What they all had in common was “close fellowship with God”, which you can experience today.

If your exposure to God’s teaching is limited only to and filtered by what one leader has to share, then you will only grow as deep as they can lead you. However, if we know Jesus personally and seriously acknowledge Him as The Teacher, the depths to which we can grow are limitless. God’s Word is inexhaustible and it knows no bounds. He will lead you down His perfect and pleasing path.

Consider the disciples of John the Baptist. They had much to learn from John, but he could only teach and show them so much.Whereas Jesus disciples were in the presence of the visible God. They learned far more than what their minds could comprehend at the time. This explains this verse:

Acts 4: 13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

This concept that I am addressing can be found in nature and I think makes complete sense when viewed in that light.

A couple of these examples are fish only grow as big as their surroundings allow. And a plant will only grow as big as the pot they are planted allows. Think about the trees planted along the riverbed as in Psalm 1 above.

When we are planted in the Branch, the everlasting, living God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, how deep do you think we can grow?

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

How deep do you want to grow?

“Dear Lord I want to know you more. Your Word speaks of peace and joy and I don’t always have that, in fact, there are many days that I don’t. How can I experience peace and joy more consistently? There is much in your Book that I cannot relate to or understand, will you teach me? Thank you for all that you have done for me, for you have blessed me more than I can remember. Your undeserving grace is amazing. Thank you also in advance for what you have in store for me. I look forward to seeing how you are shaping my life to carry out the work you have for me. I pray that you use me in such a way that will give you all the glory and the praise. In Christ’s name, amen.”

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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 Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 5

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Over the last four posts, we’ve been discussing the transformation process. The theme, in the form of a question, has been: “How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?”.

Have you been asking yourself this question? God will transform you if you offer yourself to Him. Consider this key passage:

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. 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.

If your definition of worship is limited to singing and praising God, let me suggest that you study these verses carefully. God deserves our worship, doesn’t He?

What does it mean to you to “give your bodies to God”? I must confess that this is a tough verse for me. What it means to me is to allow Him to totally take over my life. He wants me to yield my time, my activities, my attitude, what I eat, what I drink, who I spend time with, what I consume with my eyes, my ears, and even what I think about!

Consider this verse:

1 Corinthians 6: 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

That is what a “living sacrifice” is all about.

This means we can sing and worship in church all we want, but unless we are yielding our lives to Him with a soft heart, it is only lip service.

Can you relate to the following verse at all? Would you say it applies to many sitting in our pews today?

Isaiah 29:
13 And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

I can certainly relate to singing hymns of praise and walking out of church feeling far from God. I’ve had a hard heart before and that’s not a good place to be.

Of course, transformation cannot begin unless we have a soft heart. The very fact that you are reading this message would lead me to believe that you are open to change and that your heart is not hard. The key now is to make yourself available to God and pursue Him with all you’ve got.

Be careful that you don’t end up like so many incapacitated and powerless believers described in this way:

Luke 8: 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

Wouldn’t you rather be described like this?

15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

So while your heart is soft, follow through with the rest of it. “hear God’s Word” (read the Bible), cling to it (meditate on what you read), and be patient, the harvest in your life will come. All the while we can plead to God in prayer to change our hearts. I have first-hand knowledge that He likes to answer these types of prayers.

In order to be successful with a continual habit of reading the Word, it is highly recommended to associate and fellowship with others who do the same. In order to be successful at anything, it is required that you run with those seeking the same results. If you are not currently spending time with the likes of those seeking a closer walk with God, consider the Bible Team calls where some of them congregate on the phone.

As you continue to expose yourself to His Word, seeking Him in prayer and getting to know other like-minded saints you will be staying in good soil and spiritual growth will happen, He’s promised.

Always consider what God truly desires:

Hosea 6:
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

What better way to know Him that to read the Book He personally wrote?

We started this message with Romans 12: 1-2 which happens to be a very popular passage. Now let’s read the next three verses:

Romans 12: 3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Do you realize that your personal faith and relationship with God has a tremendous impact on the lives around you? People are watching you, believers and non-believers alike. We all have a responsibility to each other and we, by default, either encourage or discourage others with our daily choices.

I urge you to take the time to meditate on what I’ve compiled here and I’ll close with this:

Philippians 4: 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

How bad do you want to be transformed?

Pray this prayer (I couldn’t have written it better myself.) 🙂

Psalm 119:
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.

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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 Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 4

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Over the last three parts of “How bad do you want to be transformed?”, we discussed Bible reading and prayer for the purposes of being transformed. To me, these are essential for steady growth and formation. But they are not enough.

There is a third essential element to complete the trilogy.

You may be able to guess what this element is, I’ve mentioned it more than a few times in my posts… you got it! Fellowship

 The Bible reading and prayer I’ve discussed are individual events. Fellowship is where we can share what we’ve learned and combine all three elements. Besides, if all our Christian activity is done in a vacuum, how can we know whether or not we are on a good path, much less learn solid doctrine?

 Proverbs 16: 
25 There is a path before each person that seems right,
but it ends in death.

The personal and private knowledge from reading and praying is then shared and used to teach, learn and correct our theology.

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.

Let’s define fellowship for the purpose of this message.

There may be many thoughts that come to mind regarding fellowship. You might think of fellowship dinners, socials or simply hanging out with friends.

The fellowship I wish to discuss is a deliberate meeting among a very small group (2-6) of like-minded believers that meet with regularity.

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.

Note that this says “All the believers”.

Fellowship is for everybody.

The purpose of this very small group will be to get to know more about God and each other. They will have Bibles in hand, prepared to talk about what they’ve been reading. This is not a formal gathering by all means but the intent to draw closer to God will be a serious one.

I believe this is the ideal fellowship that any seeker that desires growth should be participating in.

It is in these meetings that their lives are shared and personal issues are discussed. The Bible and common spiritual sense will be used to lovingly counsel one another.

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

Such a group I believe should be constrained to one gender. Simply due to the more delicate nature that the conversation could lead to.

Hebrews 10: 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Be careful who you hang around with

Consider your current circle of “believing” friends. Do you have friends that enjoy talking about the Bible? It is my guess that if a person doesn’t favor discussing God’s Word in a Christian setting then there’s a good chance that they are not reading it. It is a human tendency not to discuss something that one is not engaged in. Especially when they might be embarrassed by their unfamiliarity.

So if you have Church friends that are more interested in discussing politics, sports or the latest movies than the Word of God that is a pretty good indicator that they are not suitable for the fellowship we’ve been discussing.

2 Corinthians 6: 14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?

I know this verse pertains to unbelievers, but should also apply to the lukewarm.

This may be the greatest reason for fellowship:

Matthew 18: 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Are you meeting on a regular business?

Are you meeting with a few people on a regular basis for the purpose of getting to know God more and each other? What better way is there to practice the two greatest commandments? This should be the heart of the Christian lifestyle. Finding and sharing with others that are serious about God will push you and encourage you to be a better follower of God.

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. 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.”

What else could be more important?

Will you share with others?

“Dear God, Thank you for all the friends you’ve placed in my life. Will you please help me find those friends that are serious about getting to know you? I desperately need fellowship, that’s how you made me. Help me get connected with others so that we can get to know you better and serve each other with companionship. Thank you in advance for transforming me into a new creation that will bring glory to you. In Jesus name, amen.”

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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 Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 3

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In the last two parts of “How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?” we’ve discussed reading the Word and Prayer in an effort to be transformed.

I thought we’d spend a little more time in prayer. In my next post, I’ll discuss fellowship.

As simple as prayer seems, I’ve often pondered prayer in many different ways. There are a lot of aspects to it. For example, The Lord’s prayer has a lot of components to it. Then there’s individual prayer and corporate prayer. There’s private prayer and what I call “conversational” prayer. Being the analytical type of person that I am, I used to spend much time in thought about all this. Call me crazy. 🙂

Bible Driven Prayer

I’ve always liked the idea of integrating prayer with Bible Reading. I think this is not only very practical but maximizes the reading and is ideal for transformation.

1 Samuel 12:  14 “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. 15 But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.

Do you take this personally? I sure do.

“O Lord, help me know what it means to fear you. Help me to listen to your voice so that I might follow your commands. When I start to rebel, please pull me back. Hold me tight, Lord.”

 Job 31

 1 “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman.
2 For what has God above chosen for us?
What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high?
3 Isn’t it calamity for the wicked
and misfortune for those who do evil?
4 Doesn’t he see everything I do
and every step I take?

“God, some days lust is a real problem for me. I know that you see all that I do, please help me to focus more on what you desire and not what my flesh wants.”

Revelation 3:  15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

“Lord, may it never be said that I am lukewarm. Please help me to stay passionate for you and never lose my zeal. Thank you for the inspiration that you give me!”

Another great idea is praying the prayers found in the Bible. The Psalms are ideal for this. Psalm 139 for example, is a great prayer to pray, yet too long for this message.

Conversational Prayer

There are plenty of verses that we can look at that are instructional regarding prayer so I thought I’d pick out a few to discuss:

1 Thessalonians 5: 17 Never stop praying.

When we go about our day I think God loves it when we consider Him in all that we do. This might result in these types of prayers:

“Lord, please keep us safe on the freeway today.”

“God, help me as I lift this heavy object.”

“God, give me the words to say as I discuss the terms of the contract today.”

“Thank you, Jesus, or working that problem out for me today!”

And for those of you living with or spending time with “difficult people”, this may be an appropriate prayer:

Luke 23: 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Private Prayer

Of all the ways and types of prayer, I believe this is the most important to be diligent at. I think this is where our power comes from.

Jesus modeled this for us, although He was in great demand:

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

It is in these verses that Jesus gives us basic instructions for private prayer:

Matthew 6 5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

For me I’ve felt the urge to pray in various places and, if I’m alone, I will get on my knees. Some days, although I desire communion with Him, I don’t have anything specific to say. So I’ll just kneel there, in silence, or I’ll just praise Him. Eventually, I’ll have something to say or to discuss.

Sometimes it’s quick, like when I get out of bed and have a busy day and I need to get going. However, I like to spend an undetermined amount of time, each day, on my knees with Him. To me, this and Bible reading are the best ways for me to “remain” or “abide in Him”.

Last, but not least, I don’t want to leave out what may be the most important type of prayer, which is intercessory prayer. This can mean the difference between life and death.

Read how Samuel understood this responsibility:

1 Samuel 12:  23 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right.

Read how God really felt about the golden calf that Aaron created, and how he lived on:

Deuteronomy 9: 20 The Lord was so angry with Aaron that he wanted to destroy him, too. But I prayed for Aaron, and the Lord spared him.

I hope these ideas inspire you in your walk with God. Thank you for taking the time to read this most important message!

Will you join me in prayer?

“God I praise your name! Thank you for the opportunity to write about you and your wonderful ways. You’ve taught me so much and I am excited about what you are doing in me. Please help me to stay on your path. Lead me as I live my life in a way that brings glory to you. In Jesus precious name, amen”

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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.