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Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 3

1 Corinthians 1: 26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

Most plants require 3 essentials for growth. For those of you that are not green thumbs, let’s review: They are water, sun, and good or fertilized soil. Most plants require all three.

For the past two weeks, we discussed two elements that are essential for our spiritual growth. They are reading God’s Word and prayer. But they are not enough for us to thrive.

3rd small thing: Christian fellowship

The third essential element (and small thing) is Christian relationships (fellowship).

John 15: 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.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. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

This conversation Jesus has with His 11 remaining disciples takes place during the last supper. Notice how intimate it is. This is the culmination of spending three years with each other. Jesus actually exercises this “great love” the next day! This was a very tightly knit group of tax collectors, fishermen, a zealot, and we don’t know so much about the one’s whose professions are not mentioned, but they were a mixed bag that for the most part did not have a lot in common with each other. It was their love for Jesus that made them tightly knit. They were, of course, brothers:

Matthew 12: 48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

We are to be known for our love for one another

It is through these relationships that prove to the world that we are His followers:

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. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Can someone look at your life and know that you are His because of your love for your friends?

These relationships are special and just like any other special relationship they take time to build. This is where believers become “Christ in the flesh” for each other. To me this is “fertile soil” that enables a believer to grow.

Matthew 13: 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

We can just call them “fellowship meetings”. 

These meetings of brothers and sisters should be a safe place where you are listened to without judgment. It should be a place where those issues that weigh heavy on your heart can be discussed openly without fear of laughter or shame.  They should be regularly occurring, consistent events that become typical of our lifestyle as believers. This is the only way for this love to grow, as we practice getting to know and love one another.  The fuel that keeps these meetings “alive” will be the reading of Scripture, discussion, praise and prayer. This can be between 2 or more people. I know this might sound like “just another church service”, but this is much more intimate with fewer people. It is OK to have several meetings a week other than the “regular church” service and I think it is vital.

Other than corporate worship, there should be a small group of the same gender as well as for couples if one is in a relationship.  A small group should be not much more than 6. The bigger a group gets the less likely certain people will share and the more frequently they’ll need to meet for the group to “gel” (grow closer together). The leadership of the group should ensure that the focus of the group stays on the Lord and that the conversation stays positive and encouraging making sure that what is being said is applicable to the whole group. This is not always easy to do and certain people might need to be reined in accordingly. All meetings should start in prayer which sets the tone, always asking for the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation, inviting Him to be present.

I am convinced that this should be the normal lifestyle for the Christian individual. 

For some I know this could be a radical change, but it is this radical change that I needed to get my life in line with His and keep it there.  It did not happen overnight, but over time I started to integrate meetings into my schedule until I had enough and was not overburdened.

These meetings can also take place over the phone. I don’t think its ideal, but it works. Just like any relationship or plant, you will reap what you sow.

These meetings are an investment well worth your time. It is in these meetings where relationships blossom which make our lives incredibly rich.  The more time invested, the greater the value becomes.

If you are not currently in fellowship on a regular basis then
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Ask Him to bring people into your life or help you to meet with others and you can be certain that He will answer a prayer like that. He wants His children to get together and anytime I pray for a great meeting with others He answers it.

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.

46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

These are the small, yet essential things.

These three regular activities of reading His Word, praying and God-centered meetings are simple, yet essential for spiritual growth. When all three are combined it is most powerful and dynamic. Participation from each individual is key. It is important to make sure each person is engaged and a part of it. The leadership or simply those most mature of the group should naturally pray for all members on a regular basis as well. The evil one does not want these meetings to occur and he will do all that he can to disrupt.

Once meetings are established, it should be considered as if God engineered it and it becomes the work He’s given us to do. This is not work in any negative sense, but work that yields much joy and is something to look forward to because we know that it pleases Him and greatly blesses us.

Keep in mind that the great purpose of these meetings is all about putting into practice the two greatest commandments: To love God with everything we’ve got and to love our neighbors as our selves.  These meetings prepare us for ministering to those in greater need and those that do not know God.

Hebrews 10:  24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 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.

Are you ready for true growth?

Dear Lord, thank you for the precious relationships that you have blessed me with. Thank you for my family and for those people in my life that make my life rich and blessed. Help me to invest my time where it matters most, which is relationships. I pray that these relationships make you the focal point and lead to greater service for 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.
Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 2

Are You Doing The Small Things? part 2

Psalm 112:

1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands…
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Does this describe you? How do you handle “bad news”? When you realize the last check you wrote will bounce. Or maybe when you’re called into your boss’s office after a day when you know you made a poor decision?  How about when you’ve had an ugly dispute with your spouse who brought up the “D” word and they were serious? Or when you receive an intimidating letter from the IRS?

Does the passage in Psalm 112 resemble you?

If it does, and bad news doesn’t phase you, then you have found the peace that truly passes all human understanding.

If this does not resemble you, and you cannot relate to it, then let’s discuss an additional “small thing” that is essential in bridging this gap from who you are now to this “gold standard” of a believer given in Psalm 112. This peace is not something one can get from reading self-help books. It cannot be found in a yoga class or a zen garden. While some methods, such as these, may provide temporary relief, they do not compare to the peace that only our Heavenly Father can provide.

Peace, of course, is a spiritual fruit:

Galatians 5: 22 There is no law against these things! But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

How is this fruit produced?

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.

Isn’t this a fantastic verse? We’re actually told how spiritual fruit is produced. But wait, what does it really mean to “remain in Christ”?

How do we “remain in Christ”?

I think I know, and I am convinced that it is in these “small things”, exercised day after day, week in and week out, after many months and in some areas only after years can significant growth be seen.

Consider the oak tree, which begins as a humble acorn. It takes many years to grow to its full height and you wouldn’t want to sit around watching it grow. It would be like watching paint dry. But it grows, little by little and over time it becomes gigantic. It was designed that way and so are we.

In this microwave, drive-thru, cell phone and ATM culture we seem to want to go to church, pay for a fully grown “tree of spiritual growth” and bring it home.  That “tree of spiritual growth” starts at home, daily.

Here is my favorite Psalm that illustrates this growth:

Psalm 1
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Do you see the connection to John 15? Last week the “simple thing” was reading the Word of God. Today it is prayer.

Prayer and Reading the Word go hand in hand.

They feed off each other. Reading His Word drove me to a greater, richer prayer life. God gave me a voracious appetite for reading the Word as a result of my sincere and diligent prayers. Prayer prepares my heart to receive His Word. The knowledge of Him, what He likes and dislikes have helped sharpen and enrich my prayers. Picture two vines growing together, intertwined as they continue to grow. This is how I see these two disciplines in my life. They are both maturing. I get more out of my Bible reading now than I did last year and my prayer life is more pervasive throughout my daily activities.

There are many different ways to pray and variations of it so I’d like to refer to a passage so that we are on the same page.

Matthew 6: 5 “ 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.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.

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him “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.

This is the type of prayer that matters most. Taking the time to be in His presence, seeking Him in prayer alone, can never be underestimated. But I know for myself it is what I lack the most.

How important is it?

Luke 10:  38 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

41 But the Lord said to her,  There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!

Reading the Word and meeting him alone in prayer is sitting at the Lord’s feet. What does Jesus say?

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”

This makes it clear to me, from my understanding Jesus’ statement, that if there is ANYTHING that I do that is worth being concerned about from day to day is “Did I spend time at my Lord’s feet today?”. How do you read it?

When I meet with Him I usually like to get on my knees, in a prostrate position. I don’t know why, but I think this helps me meet Him with humility. This is my conviction, not to put it on anyone else, but this is what works for me. You could sit, lie face down, kneel at your bed, whatever you feel most comfortable for you. Not comfort in a physical sense, but comfort in a spiritual sense. Some days I am too tired and just lie on the bed and pray. This is not something to be dogmatic or legalistic about. God simply wants you to meet with Him and meeting with Him on a regular, consistent basis is essential for spiritual growth.

“…let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2c

I don’t necessarily know what I want to say to Him or ask of Him. There are times that I don’t have anything to say, but I feel a great desire to meet with Him anyway. I close my eyes, am still and take deep breaths. Slowing down and being still like this helps me to think and maybe prepare my words for Him. I usually start with “I praise your name”, or it’s never a bad idea to just start thanking Him and let the list go on for everything you have to be thankful for.

Psalm 50: 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.”

Once you start a dialog with Him pray whatever comes to mind and let it go.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD

Psalm 55: 22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

If you are anxious, tell Him. If you are scared, let Him know. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, ask for His help. Don’t be in a hurry to leave. Pretend that you are a six-year-old that had a bad day with the other kids on the playground.  As a young child, you run to your Father with all your needs, anxieties, questions, and strange feelings that you cannot express.

Unload on Him as any child would and make it a habit. After a while, after you begin doing this, the idea to pray will change from “I have to pray” to “I really desire to pray.” You will find that you will desire it more and more, rather than as an obligation. Then if you stop doing it for any reason, maybe when taking a vacation, you will miss it dearly and He will teach you just how important it really is to maintain your peace of mind.

Remember that Jesus is humble, gentle and very patient.

He is not like some harsh taskmaster that likes scolding us. He has been good to me and I’m certain you’ll see that for yourself.

For those of you that are incessantly worrying about something right now, I want to give you an exercise that has helped me tremendously.

I’d like you to meditate on these two verses:

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. 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.

God promises that if you meditate on this verse, storing it in memory, you will take on a new way of living. A way that is peaceful. This is what letting go is all about.

Fall into the arms of a great and loving God, the One who created you uniquely for His good purposes.

Will you join me at His feet?

 “Dear Father in heaven, you are so good to me. Thank you for calling me to know you on a more intimate level. Help me to remain in you and hold me tight. I need you now more than ever and I thank you in advance for leading me to a closer walk with 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.

Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 1

Are you satisfied?

Do you know in your heart what the “abundant life” is? Is your life as a Christian what you’ve always expected it to be? Be honest with yourself. Are you content with your knowledge of God and the transformation that was once started in you? Do you think you’ve hit a plateau or are you progressing in your faith? Are you satisfied with your relationship with Him or do you want more?

I believe that we are to be content in any given situation. Perhaps we should be content with the spiritual growth we have to date. After all, if you are seeking Him daily (or abiding in Him), you can be sure that you are growing because He knows what He’s doing:

Philippians 1: 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

But I don’t think that means that we should not want more. I don’t know about you but the closer I get to God, the more deficiencies and inadequacies I see in myself. This is something that I am not pleased with; therefore, I continue to pursue Him because I know that He’ll continue to work on me. The motive here is not just about being more Christ-like, but being more Christ-like so that I can be of greater use to Him.

This is the slow and painful death of me.

John 3: 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less

If God is the CEO of a company called God, Inc. then I am a “sold out” company man, reading the Employee Manual diligently and constantly discovering what the CEO likes and dislikes and being willing to change accordingly so that my life will please Him and the Boss’s Son.

Consider these verses:

Matthew 22: “‘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.”

Have you ever thought about what it really means to carry out these commandments? Forget about the 10 commandments, Jesus says these are the greatest and that all of the law is based on these two commandments. We are commanded to love Him, and everyone else.  Before you start thinking “Really?… commanded to love? What kind of god does that?” Think about this: He’s never commanded us to believe in Him. He’ll never force you to follow Him. He doesn’t make anyone believe that He exists (He gave Nebuchadnezzar seven years to come to his own conclusion, read Daniel 4).

He loved us first:

1 John 4: 19 We love because he first loved us. (NIV)

God’s love for us is constant. He is the Rock. He will not move or be moved.  We cannot do anything to make Him love us more or less.  King David understood this:

Psalm 18
1 I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

Because He loves us, He’s given us free will. He is not some puppet master forcing us to trust in Him, otherwise, it would not be love. When we surrender our lives to Him, we make Him our Master. We are then His slaves because we have been bought for a price.

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.

Just One Thing

I’d like to focus on just one thing you can do, if you’re not already doing it, that will help you to pursue Him and obey His greatest commandments. What I’m about to tell you is nothing new. It’s something I’m sure you’ve been told many times before, but it is essential to spiritual growth and bearing fruit. Are you ready? OK, here is the secret (not really a secret, it just sounds cool to say that) that I’ve found that really works:

READ YOUR BIBLE DAILY AS IF YOU

AND YOUR LOVED ONE’s LIVES DEPENDED ON IT!

Follow my logic for a second in case this is not clear enough…

God created you, right? You’ve made Him the Lord and Master (CEO) of your life, right? He commands you to love Him first and foremost, right? If you said yes to all three questions then what is stopping you from doing a simple daily task that will help you to love Him more? This is called obedience and it pleases Him.

John 14: 15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.

To know Him is to love Him.

Before I started taking Him seriously I read His Word very little, very infrequently and with very little interest. I really didn’t know how to love Him. After taking Him seriously and reading the Word several times, I appreciate Him much more now that I know Him a whole lot better. The more I know him, the more I love Him, it is that simple. Now that I love Him and because I love Him, I read his Word in greater volume, every day, and with great interest. Do you see the shift that has occurred in my life? This has taken me from being shallow and lukewarm to a passionate man with a purpose.

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

Look, friends. Reading your Bible daily is one of the “small things” you can do. And if you can’t be faithful with the small things, do you think He’ll ever give you greater responsibilities? (Let me clue you in for a second, completing seminary or starting some ministry is not necessarily God giving you responsibilities.) There are not many things that I can control in my life, but I can control what I read and how much I read, can you?

Enough for now.

But I must tell you that reading the Word is not enough on its own. Over the next few weeks, God willing, I’ll be discussing other essential elements involved in spiritual growth. In the meantime, I’ve included a reading plan that you can use to start developing the daily habit of reading the Word today.

I’ll leave you with this one passage to meditate on. I’ve had the privilege of watching these words come to fruition in my life and you can have hope in this for yourself:

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.

Will you give your body to Him daily by allowing Him to teach you with His Word?

 “Dear God, thank you for giving me the privilege of serving you. Please help me to know you more. As I read your Word, open my heart so that I might savor each word that is read. Help me develop a greater appetite for your Word and to develop a habit that will last for the rest of my life. In faith, I give my time to you. Give me the wisdom and discernment I need to spend more time with you each day from this day forward. Thank you, Lord, for leading me in this way. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Reading Plan:
http://www.thebibleteam.com/plans/Matthew.pdf

Photo by Aaron Burden 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 Also Going To Leave?

When it is first heard, the Good News, or when we first realized that we were sinners and that we would face eternal judgment if we reject God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, a “believer” could easily think “Why would anyone reject or abandon God once they become knowledgeable?”

There are those that never receive Him in the first place…

Luke 8: 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

then there are those that believe at first, but then fall away…

 13And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

This is most troubling for me, how one can know the truth, and walk away. Everyone can hear it, at least physically for those that have the mental faculties. But isn’t that enough? Then again, why doesn’t everyone “embrace” salvation? It’s so strange to me. Why was Abel obedient and Cain insolent? You’d think that the first son of Adam, the one created from dust and walked with God, would know better.

No one can come, unless…

John 6: 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

This knowledge of the Good News or “awakening”, as I like to call it, is only the beginning. Being “born again” (see John 3) is just that, in a spiritual sense, anyway. We start out as these little seedlings that require tender, loving care. Our faith, at this point, is very delicate and prone to many dangers that can retard our growth or uproot it altogether.

 14And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Did you catch that? 

“their fruit does not mature.” Can’t we all relate to this in one way or another? The friend that seemed to answer the altar call one night, but he won’t even return your call the next? What happens to them?

 Romans 10: 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

1 Peter 4: 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

And what is the gospel?

Acts 17: 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

In even simpler terms:

Matthew 4: 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There’s that word: Repent

This is not a very popular word, but it is the Word that Jesus, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and all the other saints preached.

This is not something we do as one event. Repenting is something we do continually until we die. It is a command for the unbeliever and the believer alike. What kind of a believer says “Oh, I repented 3 years ago, but now I’m good, no need to do that again, whew! (as he wipes the sweat from his brow)”?  I think many do, in their minds, but they fool themselves.

Although we are made perfect through Christ, this is not realized while in these earthly bodies of flesh.

Allow me to make one thing clear about repentance.

I used to think that when I repented, it meant that I was somehow “turning from sin and vowing never to commit those sins again that I committed before”. That is no longer my understanding, thank God. That used to give me so much guilt that the devil used to keep me from doing much good because I hated myself.

Repenting, as I understand it now, is simply changing my mind about my sin, knowing that it leads to death, and feeling sorry about it. This is the godly sorrow that brings us back to His feet where we confess and seek restoration and healing.

1 John 1: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

James 4:  8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Do you see the difference?

When I focused on my inability to keep from sinning and thought that I must be a “bad Christian” because I kept doing the things that I knew I should not, it kept me from going to God.

Genesis 3:  10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Now that I continually seek Him, despite my sinful nature, I know that I will never meet His standard, although I strive for it. As I seek Him I am always repenting in prayer saying “Teach me your ways and change my heart. I am far from living the way you want me to live.” The closer I get to knowing Him, the more I realize how far I am off the mark. The closer we get to God, the worse we look in comparison. He is so merciful and patient with me that I cannot even begin to tell you.

Matthew 5:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Check out what the Apostle Paul had to say after many years of serving Jesus:

Can you relate to this?

Romans 7: 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This text is difficult for me as if things are hopeless, but it is always a breath of fresh air when I get to chapter 8:

Romans 8: 1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Isn’t this cool? “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” Is that Christ-like or what?

Compare that to:

Matthew 5: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

I take this to mean: The work He accomplished over 2000 years ago is still being fulfilled through our lives today. Pretty cool, huh?

Growth is essential.

Growth should be constant and consistent. At first, the seedling should be protected, taking extra protection against temptation. I believe that in many ways, God has great mercy for the new believer and at the same period, He expects growth.

This is Discipleship 101.

If the growth does not occur, the roots will not grow deep and the seedling will start to wilt and be easily uprooted.

Hebrews 6: 1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits.

Just like any relationship, like marriage, for example, it is always either moving towards one-ness or towards separation.

Are you moving closer to Him or further away from Him?

Growth yields a closer walk with Christ.

Consider how close Abraham was with God so that after 35+ years of walking with God he was obedient enough to sacrifice his only son, no questions asked! He wants this closeness with us!

My life over the past 10 years has been somewhat chaotic. (some of you reading know this to be true) Can anyone else relate to a chaotic life? Have you been greatly frustrated or has life made no sense at times? OK then, at least a few of you, or perhaps many, will understand this then.

A part of my testimony is this: The more life seems chaotic and things seem to be in complete disarray, the more following and focusing on Jesus Christ makes sense to me. 

Can I get an amen?

Hebrews 4: 7c “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Here is my ultimate “secret” for spiritual growth, at the very least it is the catalyst that got me started. Read and see what that seedling can become! The secret, of course, is found in verse 2, which helps me to live up to verse 1. The fruit of this obedience is mentioned in verse 3. The little seedling has grown up. 🙂

Psalm 1
1Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

 3He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Let me draw a conclusion that I’ve made as a result of this brief study. 

People fall away primarily because they fail to continue growing in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ.

Please do not let this be said of you!

I beg of you please, seek God with all you’ve got! Grow deep in God’s love so that you will have the same conviction that we see Peter have in verse 68:

John 6: 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?”

68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”

Will you grow with us in 2019?

Dear Lord, I don’t know what to say. After all the wonderful things you’ve taught me, I am speechless. My prayer is for those that don’t know you and for those that don’t share the same conviction that I do. You are the One that has the words of eternal life. Where else would I go? Teach me how to love you more.

Let my words, thoughts, and actions become your words, thoughts, and actions. I want to be more like you. Less of me is fine with me and more of you is greater. Thank you for all that you’ve done in my life and for what you continue to do. I know that you know what’s best for me and that gives me great joy. Please use these words you’ve given me to bless others and perhaps open some hearts. You are the God of all Creation and I am excited to be at your service!  In Jesus name, Amen.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven 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.
Will You Miss Out In 2019?

Will You Miss Out In 2019?

We are only a few days away from the New Year and sometime between now and then would be a good time to reflect on how the year went. Give yourself some time with a journal and consider asking yourself questions such as these: “What went right?”, “What went wrong?”, “Did I grow closer to God in 2018?”, “Did I work too much or too little?”, “Did I spend enough time with those I love the most?”, “Did I read enough?”, “Do I know the Bible anymore now than when I started the year?”

If you have never done it, this is a great time to stop and think “Where is my life heading?”, “If I continue on the path that I’ve been on in 2018, where will that lead me?”, “Am I living a life that is glorifying God?”, and here’s the question I like the best:

“What can I do in 2019 that will lead me to a closer relationship with Jesus?”

Can we ask ourselves a better question than that?

Luke 10: 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

“my sister just sits here”

By reading verse 42 I think it’s a great question to ask. What was Mary doing exactly?…

“Her sister, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.”

And what was Martha doing? “But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.”

Jesus was present. Mary had her priorities straight and was focused. Martha was distracted.

Mary “just sits here”, and Martha is “worried and upset over all these details”.

I can think of so many other things to be concerned about and I am sure that you can too, but Jesus makes it clear:  “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” And in the NASB: “but only one thing is necessary”

Remember who Jesus is?

 This is Jesus speaking, Son of the Living God. Shall we do a quick review of just who this man is?

Colossians 1:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
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.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Is that clear enough for you?

Let me get this straight as I review what the Bible is telling me:

Jesus, the Head of the Church and Supreme Being over all. The One who made all things seen and unseen is telling me that the only thing worth being concerned about and the one thing that is necessary is to just sit and listen to what He teaches.

Did I get that right? Read it again, I’ll wait.

WOW! I re-read it too. It seems to me that Martha didn’t get it. As far as Martha was concerned Mary was “just sitting there”. She saw no value in it. What she was doing had to have been far more important, or so she thought. After all, she was “working” to please the Messiah (Think of the self-righteousness here). I think Martha understood who Jesus was, but she was clearly missing out by being distracted.

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.

This message is about as “counter-cultural” as you can get today. Even within the church, it seems to be all about service/working and I don’t hear “sit and read/or listen” enough.

Psalm 46:  10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

 11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Being still is required

I don’t think this verse 10 can be overstated. In order to be transformed into “Christ-like” individuals being still is required.

Do you realize that we have the opportunity to sit and learn from Him every day? That is if we focus and purposefully make the effort to be with Him. The more I do this the better off I am. The more peace I have. I learn just a little more about Him each day. The more I can tell others about Him because I have a greater conviction and a better testimony.

It’s not like I spend all day reading His Word, but it is taking care of the one thing worth being concerned about and everything else throughout the day, as it turns out, is of little concern in comparison.

The great thing about reading the Bible daily, spending time with Him, is that every night when you lay your head on the pillow you can say to yourself “At least I did that which is most important, thank you Lord!” and you won’t miss out.

Did you miss out in 2018?

It is for this very reason that TheBibleTeam.com was created. The website has tools and tips to help the individual excel in this area. While the tools and tips are great, it will take a commitment from the disciple to “do the work”, which is to sit still and read, placing a higher value on it above all else each day.

http://thebibleteam.com

I know that for most, it is an ambitious goal to read through the Bible in a year, but it is so worth it. If it’s too much, there is a month to month plan or you can customize your own reading plan using the Reading Plan Creator.

http://thebibleteam.com/PlanMaker.asp

We also host a conference call once a week that gives readers an opportunity to discuss what they’ve been reading. This time of fellowship is priceless and goes a long way to ensure the disciples’ success with staying plugged in.

http://thebibleteam.com/news.asp

Will you sit still and read with me in 2019?

“Dear Lord, I am in awe of you. You constantly amaze me. When I read about what you like and dislike I learn more and more about you and how I can please you. I apologize for perhaps not taking you seriously enough in 2018. I commit to spending more time with you in 2019. Will you help me? I know that it will not be easy and that the devil will try even harder to distract me with things I might think is more important. Thank you, Lord, for the hope I have in the coming year. Please draw me near you and reveal yourself to me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Photo by Justin Veenema 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 Ready For Christmas?

Are You Ready For Christmas?

I don’t know about you but the year flew by so fast and 2019 is just around the corner. These days are going by so fast, you better not blink or you’ll miss it! The problem that causes a lot of people is that on top of a very busy life, December usually brings a lot more “busy” ness with it.  At a time when most people have no time to spare suddenly there are parties to attend, gifts to purchase, lights to hang, decorations to arrange, cookies to bake, eggnog to drink and preparations for travel or for hosting family from out of town. Did I cover everything?

I know it’s a crazier time than it should be, but what can we do? I’ve got some ideas if you’ve got just a few minutes to read about a way to get through this “most insane time of the year” with more peace and a heart that is truly “ready for Christmas”.

I know that the generally accepted definition among the secular populace and even Christians of being “ready for Christmas” is “Are all the gifts purchased?”, “Is the house decorated?”, or maybe “Are the travel arrangements in order?” or it could mean all the above.

What’s wrong with this picture?

It seems that everything but the birth of the Savior of mankind is given thought.

Isn’t it ironic that one of the many titles of our risen Savior is “Prince of peace” and most of us celebrate His birth during a time when there is anything but peace?

Isaiah 9

 6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

Everyone but Christ’s true disciples won’t understand the peace He has to offer, but we believers should. My great concern is that most Christians, or those that identify themselves as a Christian, do not know what real peace means. Have you ever stopped to wonder why the divorce rate among those who claim to be “born again believers” is not significantly lower than the other religions as well as the secular? The statistics of the divorce rate can be skewed in any number of ways mostly due to those being surveyed, the questions asked and how they are asked. But those even within the mainstream Christian community believe that the divorce rate is much higher than what should be expected.

Did he just bring the divorce rate into this?

Yes, I am relating the behaviors and customs of mainstream Christians at Christmas time to their divorce rate.

But here’s the point…

The point I am making is that for most of those that check off “Christian” on the list of religious groups are not really born again and do not truly worship the Lord of heaven in their heart. They might not even go to church at all, and if they do, they just attend once a week simply for social reasons. You know these people; they sit next to you in the pews and say all the right stuff or they work with you and might mention being a Christian but never discuss it. Jesus or the Bible is not on their mind much, but “American Idol” (or any other popular show) is. They might even talk about how they went to church on Sunday to one colleague and turn around and tell a course joke to some other colleague.

Matthew 7: 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Is it any wonder “they” think we’re hypocrites?

Is it any wonder why those that are “non-religious” are so outspoken about Christians being hypocrites? I suspect that we not only have many individuals like this, but entire churches could be categorized as such. Take the letter to Laodicea as an example:

Revelation 3: 14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:

 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.

Did he just call the church of America lukewarm?

Do you see the correlation between the people Jesus talks about in Matthew 7 and His message in Revelation 3? These “Christians” always claim to be believers in Christ (by the very label itself), they might even always attend on Sunday, “yep, I can do that at least, no one will have any doubts about my beliefs”. So they are not cold in that regard. But do they show up early to praise God in song or dance? Will he join the prayer team on Monday morning before work? Does she share with others their conviction about why they believe in God and that Jesus is the Way? Will they devote time each day to get to know God more through His Word and talk to God in prayer giving Him all their burdens? Do they congregate with other believers regularly, talking about what God is doing in their lives? So they are not hot, are they?

Malachi 3: 16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

 17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

It’s time to get practical

OK, now it’s time for the practical advice of giving this season true meaning and finding the peace that Jesus spoke of.

Matthew 11: 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

The key phrase I see here is “Let me teach you”. What do you think this means? Being a disciple of Jesus is not a passive activity, it is being deliberate and intentional with our time and attention. For me, letting Him teach me is reading the Word of God daily and expecting to learn something new each time. I will hover over the confusing passages long enough for them to soak in or at least put them before someone else that has followed God longer than I have and have them teach me via the Spirit of Jesus.

Are you letting Jesus teach you?

It also means attending regular meetings with others that have a similar zeal for following Him and sharing this joy with them as well as the trials. This “training” that I speak of, which is all about learning how to love Him and others (remember the 2 greatest commandments?), is simply being obedient to His commands. This is not going “above and beyond” as some might think. The Scriptures make it clear that this is the work He’s given to us all. It may start out as an obligation, but when it starts to soak in (assuming your heart is soft), you will enjoy it more and more.

To put it clearly and so that there is no misunderstanding…

In order to have the peace that Jesus promises, do this:

Follow Jesus with all your heart and allow nothing to distract you from doing these things.

  1. Diligently read His Word daily.

    1. 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.
  2. Never stop praying and be thankful. You’ll become more and more effective over time and with practice.

    1. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
    2. 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.
  3. Fellowship regularly with other believers that love God at least the same or more than you do.

    1. Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 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.

I can only speak from experience and this is what I know to be true. I am convinced that if you follow these activities in earnest and with persistence, you will be transformed and certainly become more and more like Him.

By doing these things you will find His wonderful peace and will be all the more eager to discuss how great God is with those that are willing to listen and desperately need to hear it!

I guarantee that you will find His peace if you follow Him closely

My friends, I am far from perfect and in fact, I am the greatest sinner I know. And yet, in spite of my sin, I do know this: Jesus has changed my heart and ever since I have determined in my mind to follow Him by reading His Word daily and taking His instructions of Loving Him and others seriously, I have a much greater peace than I’ve ever realized I could have.

I am ruined for all other work. ESPN no longer satisfies me and I get bored of it now when at one time I could never get enough of it! I am not the same man that I was when I committed in my heart and started to diligently follow Him. I am not someone special, but I made a very special commitment. While there are some that commit to physical training or financial training, I’ve decided to train in His ways and I plan on graduating with honors someday, God willing.

2 Timothy 2: 3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 5 And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules.

1 Corinthians 9:  24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 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. 26So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Will you train with me?

“Dear Lord, thank you for the wisdom you have given me, the Godly wisdom that only you can give. Thank you for making it clear to me what I should be doing regularly and the impact it has made on my life. You’ve greatly simplified things for me and although I have trials in my life you’ve given me a peace to endure them. I want all to know you more and experience your peace. Help me to get the word out that you are the Living God just as your Word states and that you have not changed since the days of Moses and are still in the reconciliation and transformation business. You are great and mighty and I will commit my life 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.
Are You Eating Right?

Are You Eating Right?

Before we discuss “eating right”, my last post, “What are you focusing on?” , was about the need to focus on Jesus rather than the law. The difference is day and night, white and black and according to the Apostle Paul, life and death.

Galatians 5: For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

In the same way, in the natural world, if we desire better health, we’ll put more focus on healthier food choices, which brings us to our topic today.

Everyone should know the concept of eating right for their bodies, right? The well-known saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” has a lot of truth to it, or at least there is good logic to it, given that it is “eating right”. What if we changed that saying to be “A candy bar a day…”? It wouldn’t end the same, would it? 🙂

Aside from getting hit by a bus, all things considered, I believe most will agree that the healthy diet leads to a healthy lifestyle, where the person lives longer, has a higher quality of life, and fewer ailments than those that don’t eat as well. I try to eat healthily, but I admit that most decisions I make are more for flavor than for health. I’ll choose bacon over broccoli any day of the week (not that I don’t eat broccoli at all), but I stay away from most fast food and do not drink sodas. But that’s just me!

Now let’s get to the good stuff, spiritual food.

Consider this passage from the Apostle Paul when giving advice to his apprentice:

1 Timothy 4: 7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Keep in mind that they did not have fast food those days (at least as we know it), so it wouldn’t have been mentioned. But apparently, they did have physical training. Here Paul gives value to physical training, but clearly values “training for godliness” much more. So I no longer worry myself over what people put in their physical bodies, but I am concerned about what people feed their souls with. Sure I want people to be physically healthy, but there will be physically fit people separated from Christ and unhealthy people meeting with Jesus on good terms.

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

While reading Ephesians I ran across some great verses that support the idea of living our lives with intention. You see if we wake up every day and commit the day to God, saying “Today I will commit myself to you, Lord”, that sets the tone for the day. And suddenly, before your day even begins, you have volunteered to serve Him and do as He pleases for the duration of the day. Would that change things for you?

Ephesians 5:  1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

…  10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

…  15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Do you get the idea here that God wants you to put thought into your day and think about what you ingest spiritually?

What is your great “distraction”?

Take music for example. I like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Rush, The Eagles, and Van Halen (today’s classic anyway), just to name a few. I grew up listening to these bands and I can easily play their tunes in my head. While I used to think of this entertainment as neutral I no longer do. God’s given me a conviction about this and I am much more careful about what I listen to. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to destroy all of your secular music unless God has convicted you as well in this area. I’m not saying “Don’t listen to this music.”, this is just my personal conviction, 

Romans 14: 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

So here’s the thing…

My flesh enjoys this secular music. It seduces me. When I listen to the Eagles “New Kid In Town”, it takes me to another place, and if I let it, it dominates my mind. Sometimes I can’t get the music out of my head. Am I the only person that this happens to? I can play an old tune that I loved 30 years ago and three days later it’s all I can think about! Is that crazy or what? This is what began to convict me; when I realized that this secular music dominated my mind.

I thought to myself “What if I could fill my mind with praise and worship music?” and that’s what caused me to reconsider what I intentionally listen to. I took this conviction seriously as though God was telling me “Larry, perhaps you shouldn’t be listening to so much secular music.” It’s like anything else that can dominate your mind, such as movies, TV, food, sports, exercise, shopping, work, sex, drugs, money, video games, etc.

“I am humble and gentle at heart” – Jesus

What I love about following Jesus is that He’s done this gradually and gently. First, it was my love for the New York Yankees; they used to dominate my mind. When I started to take God seriously, reading His Word gave me peace, more than I ever thought possible. Then April rolled around and Baseball season was in full swing. Just like an instinct (doing something without putting thought into) I started to follow the Yankees (just like every year prior). If they won, “Woo Hoo! the Yankees are awesome! ”, I was sky high. If they lost, “I can’t believe those stupid Yankees lost that game!, I am so bummed.” Keep in mind that there are 162 games in a season and the Yankees performance each day would determine my mood.

Isn’t that insane? It was an addiction for me. I would even watch the game online (simulated), waiting for every pitch! And this happened during work hours. That wasn’t healthy and this insanity started to rob me of the peace I was finding from spending time with God. So I could hear God nudging me “It’s time to distance yourself from baseball.” So I did. I am still a fan of the game, but a former Yankees addict. I am healed of that, but I know very well that I could get right back into it if I allowed it. They were clearly an idol to me, but no longer.

Isn’t that exciting how God changed me? 

Do you see how God has been gently working on me? He didn’t convict me of everything all at once. I have a long way to go and as I submit to Him daily in prayer and continue to read His Word and meet with other believers I’m certain that He will continue to work on my faults and what I spend my time doing. I have a long way to go as I have many faults still, but knowing what I know now, He will continue doing what He’s been doing.

Philippians 1:  6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

This change that I speak of was totally from God. I simply gave him myself each day in submission and read His Word diligently and this act of obedience has given the Spirit of God fertile soil to work in which led to spiritual growth.

Will this nourish me or harm me?

The things that fill our lives, whether they are relationships, books, activities, and substances we consume, can be either toxic or nourishing to our soul. Toxic is anything that leads us away from God by either poisoning our minds or taking the focus off of God. This is why baseball and secular music can be toxic for me. Nourishing is anything that leads us closer to God and promotes spiritual growth. This will include daily devotionals, sermons, Christian music, godly books, the Bible and genuine fellowship.

Just like certain plants need daily watering for growth, I believe we need to be nourished daily as well.

John 6: 32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

What will you purposely use to feed your soul?

Just like food, “Will you eat the Twinkie or the Taco?” Although Tacos might not be the best food (depending on how they’re made), they are certainly better than Twinkies.

Likewise, if there was only one source to choose from on a daily basis, would you consume Motor Trend/Field & Stream/a James Patterson Novel/People/Good Housekeeping or the Word of God?

I am convinced that if you are not in the Word of God each day, then you are, at the very least, missing out.  Don’t you realize that there are people in the world that crave the Word of God and don’t even have access to it? But here in the US, we have Bibles that collect dust, while we rely on daily devotionals, a sermon once a week and “The next great Christian book” (if we read at all). I think daily devotionals can be good, but it’s the Word of God interpreted through the mind of man. This can be great, but I think God wants you to learn to feed from His hand directly.

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.

Great habits are difficult to develop

That being said, I know that it is not easy to pick up the Good Book and just read. For those not accustomed to it, it is an acquired taste. Once you start the habit and develop it over time the Word of God comes alive. The more you read it, the more you’ll want to read it and the more you’ll know Jesus. The more you know Him, the more you’ll love Him. If it is a challenge to understand it, then find someone that might help you or send a message to me at Larry@KeepSeekingJesus.com and we can discuss it. Your spiritual growth depends on it.

My friends, this is “eating right” and feeding our souls daily from an organic source, which will lead to spiritual growth and produce much fruit. If you seek Him, you will get to know God in a way that you’ve never thought possible.

I’ll leave you with this:

Colossians 3: 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Will you eat with me?

“Dear Lord, help me to get to know you more. Thank you for all that you have taught me so far and thank you for giving me a voracious appetite for your Word. Also, thank you in advance for what you’re doing in my life and where you plan on leading me. I want all that you have to offer me and I rejoice in this relationship with you. You are my Teacher and my Creator and I will praise your name. In Jesus name, amen.

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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.
Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change: Are You Ready?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since diligently seeking and having a relationship with Jesus, it is this:

If we humbly seek Him, giving our lives to Him and asking that His will be done in our lives, change is inevitable. Not only is it inevitable, but it is always meant for our good and for His purposes. This is what He promises. It is His character that He always creates a win-win for all His people and for Him. He gets the glory out of our story and our transformation.

Romans 8: 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

The catch, so to speak, is that we humans typically don’t like change. Change always comes with uncertainties such as “Where will I work?”, “Where will I live?”, “What if I don’t get the job?”, “How will I move on from this tragedy?”, etc.

How can we prepare for change?

The best thing we can do in order to prepare for change is to develop a close relationship with the One who created us. In other words, to know the One we’re seeking, the Lord Jesus Christ. Without a close relationship (or “walk with Him”), we are subject to the waves and turbulence that come with change. We absolutely need Him to be our stabilizing force so that we can endure change without appearing to be a fraud or worry like an unbeliever. He needs to be our solid Rock for us to stand on otherwise we’ll be sinking in the sand.

Luke 6: 46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

How do we develop that close relationship with Jesus? (I’m glad you asked!)

It’s simple, we spend time with Him. Just like any other relationship, in order for it to grow and to develop into something more than just an acquaintance, time with the other person is absolutely essential.

Let me make this very simple and it is something that I learned first hand from the Lord Himself (That’s another story)

There are…

3 essential, regular activities that we must pursue…

in order to develop our relationship with God.

These activities are:

Spend time in His Word

This should be no surprise. When Jesus says “listens to my teaching“, either hearing the Word or reading it is how we listen to His teaching. And this is not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament is just as valuable. He wrote that Book as well, with the help of His friends, of course.

We need to devour it just as we devour any good book or novel. It is our daily Bread, for our souls. Our spiritual life depends on reading the Word of God. If you’re not reading His Word consistently then I don’t know how you can expect to grow much without it.

Spend time in Prayer

I shouldn’t have to tell you this. I think it is a given. But I know first hand that prayer is one of the most difficult things for a person to do, especially when they’re just starting to develop the habit.

There’s just something about prayer to a Holy and Righteous God that offends our flesh and we look for all kinds of distractions and/or excuses not to pray. It always seems to be a challenge, at least starting out.

Prayer is the simple act of conversing with God. Just talk to Him. When you’re driving, when you wake up, when you’re waiting in line or when you talk with a friend who’s losing their home, pray with them! And continue to pray for those that God has put in your life.

Once this habit is developed, a believer realizes just how important it really is and I’ve never met a believer who thinks they pray enough, honestly.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing” (ESV) or “Never stop praying”

Luke 10: 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Spend time in regular Fellowship

I define fellowship as spending time with other people that love Jesus. Where the focus of your conversation is about the Bible, sharing your lives and your burdens. It’s having meaningful discussions about living out our faith. Fellowship can come in many flavors but it is always worthwhile and never superficial. Maybe it’s over food, coffee, going on a road trip, in Bible Study, or prayer meeting. It’s going on a hike or after a long day at work sharing your life with someone over the phone.

This is how relationships are developed, real, meaningful relationships, with Christ being at the center.

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

We can’t do this without meaningful fellowship.

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.

After spending this time with Jesus, alone and with His family we will not only have a strong foundation in Christ, but we’ll also have a beautiful family that will also endure the seasons of change with us. That, my friends, is invaluable! Can I get an “Amen”?

Dear Father, thank you for leading me to you and opening my eyes so that I might know you, a Holy and loving God. You are magnificent and I want to know you more. Please help me to develop a closer relationship with you so that I can have confidence and a peace that the world couldn’t possibly understand. Thank you for leading me closer 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.
What Does God’s Sovereignty Mean To You?

What Does God’s Sovereignty Mean To You?

When I consider the whole of Scripture I think of a summary of what God has to say to us, in a nutshell. Many ideas come to mind and when I considered the constant theme of His sovereignty, I thought I’d write about it.

His sovereignty is best understood once we’ve read the entire Bible. We can see it in the New Testament, but the Old Testament drives this point home and it gives the reader a completely different perspective and understanding of God than the New.

Consider these definitions of sovereign as an adjective:

  1. Self-governing; independent
  2. Having supreme rank or power
  3. Paramount; supreme

Which of these definitions apply to the most high God? If you answered the missing number 4, “all of the above”, you’re absolutely correct!

Psalm 115: 3 Our God is in the heavens,
and he does as he wishes.

I believe to fully trust God we need to have an accurate perspective of Him. After all, what kind of God are we serving here?

Genesis 1:  1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This is the perspective we need to constantly keep. We see many prayers in the Bible referencing this very event, for example:

2 Kings 19: 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth.

I think this is so important to keep in mind because I get so caught up in my day to day life which causes me to focus on material things and the difficulties I have. Before too long I can lose sight of my God and start to lose hope or just become confused.

Isaiah 26:  3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

When I was young my Dad could do anything, he was all-powerful and took care of all my problems. That’s exactly how we should think about God, as our heavenly Father who is always there when we need Him.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

Knowing that our heavenly Father is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, gives us a great sense of peace doesn’t it?

Knowing that God is sovereign also gives me a healthy fear of God. For example, suppose a married man is working in an office. He’s been living right and fears God.  But one day he starts thinking of the cute, new secretary in the shipping department that smiles at him when he talks to her. He then has this thought to make up an excuse to go see her, “Just to talk”, he thinks to himself. Although this idea is not from God it keeps running through his mind and is very seductive. Before too long it’s time for lunch and he didn’t have a chance to act yet on this thought, but it’s still alluring to him. He takes his Bible to the lunch room and as he normally does he cracks it open and starts to read as he eats his meal. Suppose he reads one or more of the following verses after a prayer for discernment:

Ecclesiastes 12: 13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Job 31
1 “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman.

Proverbs 5:3-6
3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil.
4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 For she cares nothing about the path to life.
She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.

21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Hopefully, after reading any one of these scriptures, the man will humble himself before God because in his heart he knows that what he has been planning is wickedness, I think that when he reads any part of the Bible he’ll get convicted as the Holy Spirit works on his conscience. When he’s done reading he has a choice. He could simply forget what he’s read and continue as planned or he’ll have this renewed sense of fear of the Lord which will cause him to pray something like this: “O Lord, thank you for showing the deceitfulness of my heart and making it clear to me that I was going down a dark and dreadful path. Your ways are pure and righteous; please change my heart so that I’ll willingly obey you. Draw me close to you so that I’ll love my wife so much that I wouldn’t want to jeopardize this precious gift of marriage that you’ve given me, amen”

I think the more real our God becomes in our lives the more fear we have for Him and the more we wish to please Him. Just like the more a man loves his wife the more he wants to please her.

King David understood His sovereignty very well and it is illustrated beautifully in Psalm 139. I’ll end this message with just the beginning of this psalm and I encourage you to read the entire psalm as soon as you can.

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

What does His sovereignty mean to you?

“Dear Lord, I cannot even begin to understand you. You are far too wonderful for me to comprehend. My hope is that I can continue to know you more so that I can love you more and share your kindness and everlasting mercies with others. People need to know how great you are. Please help me to stay on your path. Thank you for your patience with me and calling me, to begin with. You are a great and mighty God, Creator of the earth and who am I that you even think of me? In Jesus’ name, amen.”

You can read Psalm 139 online using this link: Psalm 139

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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 Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

You can read part 1 here: “How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1”.

While watching a movie recently, I enjoyed observing the star character. It was played by the boy of a very famous actor. It was really incredible to watch his mannerisms and how he spoke. Many times throughout the film I found myself saying “He’s just like his daddy.”

I’m sure that most of you have heard that expression, haven’t you? Or perhaps you’ve been told “You’re just like your daddy”, or “You remind me so much of your momma.”  We really can’t help it, can we? When we’ve grown up in the environment of our parents we just become like them, not to mention DNA.

The same can be said about Jesus:

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.”

Colossians 1: 15a Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He’s just like His Daddy! Isn’t that cool? But check this out:

Genesis 1:  27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

(I’ve learned that the word Abba is an intimate, Aramaic term that a child would use for their father and can be translated as ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. )

Do you see the similarity? We were made in our Daddy’s image, that’s how human beings were designed.

Think about this for a moment and allow it to sink in: “I am designed to be like God, which is how I am supposed to be.”

I can recall a DVD player I once had. Its purpose was simply to play the DVDs, without problems. That is what it was supposed to do.  It didn’t. It failed to play my DVDs and for that reason, I got rid of it. Of course, I gave it a few chances to work, it was not my desire to throw it way, but if it would not work for me, I considered it useless, so into the trash it went.

Matthew 21: 18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Of course, the fig tree was designed to bear fruit, and when Jesus discovered that it was not, He quickly discarded it. He determined that it was useless and acted accordingly.

Isn’t it interesting that we are a lot like God without even trying to be? When something doesn’t work, we pitch it out. We like to create, He likes to create. We like to see progress, He likes to see progress.  He worked 6 days, I work 6 days. He likes to see people getting along, we like to see people getting along. This is the intrinsic nature of God that I think we all have, but when it comes to fruits of the spirit, they are developed only through our relationship with Him.

He is patient, I am…. wait. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me, at least not when I sit at a red light. He is humble, I am…. wait, that doesn’t work for me either. Let’s try He is loving, I am… wait, not always. This isn’t going so well now, is it? Then I am reminded of these verses:

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.

This makes me so glad that God is patient, although I am not. When I first realized this, I realized how far I am from His “factory specifications”.  I can hear God saying about me: “This one isn’t working very well. What will I have to do to get him in line with my plans?”

I am so glad that God has more patience with us than He did that fig tree, aren’t you?

We’ve been discussing finding greater peace lately and one thing not to be overlooked is found in these verses above. To paraphrase: “When we ‘remain in Him’ we produce much fruit” Then “When we don’t ‘remain in Him’ we can do nothing.”

Isaiah 9: 6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Just as Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we were designed to be People of Peace. After all, the human body works best when filled with peace.

If my life cannot be described as one of peace, that only means one thing: I have not been spending enough time with Daddy. It is that simple. We discussed this at the very beginning, a child becomes like their parents after spending years of intimate time with them. The greater the love a father has for his child, the more that child has peace. The child of a loving father feels secure.

Galatians 4: 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

God wants His children to feel secure so that they do not have to be pre-occupied with worrisome thoughts which hinder their ability to think and act as they should. This is where the greater faith we develop over time, the more at peace we will be.

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

Just like the bumper sticker says “No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.” This is not on an intellectual level and has little to do with Bible knowledge. I’ve read about many persecuted Christians in various parts of the world who had very little Biblical knowledge but they certainly knew their Lord very well and that was by relying on Him through prayer.

That’s enough for now; I’ll leave you with my favorite verse relating to prayer (One that I think should be memorized):

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.

Are you your Daddy’s child?

“Heavenly Daddy, you are so good to me. Thank you for teaching me so many things. You have provided for me and have answered my prayers in so many ways that I cannot count them. You are my provider and I know that every good thing comes from you. What will it take for me to really know you and love you as a child loves His father? What will it take for me to surrender my life in exchange for the Life you have to offer? Please hold me tight and keep me on your path. It is you, Lord, that I desire more than anything. 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.