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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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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.

Does He Know You?

We all should know, as believers in Jesus that “It really doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know.” But does He know you?

Matthew 7:  21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

From this passage, we discover that doing the “works” or miracles of God can be grievously overrated, but knowing the Lord on a personal level cannot. This is where the organized church can go painfully wrong.

John 6:  28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

It’s about your relationship with Jesus

If the relationship of the seminary student and his/her God is not the foremost priority of an educational organization, (Christian school), then they will more than likely produce “workers” who are driven more by numbers, doing works and acts of service than learning how to become “true disciples”. If these workers, at the core, do not learn how to be a disciple themselves, how can they (or why would they) teach others to do the same? And if these students, who will be the next generation of Christian leaders are not going to be making disciples, who will?

1 Corinthians 13: 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Therefore, I think the “true disciples” are those that truly know God and His son, Jesus Christ. They are disciples based on love, not based on works. As the passage above makes this point clear: Works, in and of themselves, do not count for anything.

He is after the friendship. That is His greatest desire.

His friends will do His works out of their love for Him and have great joy in doing so. This passage reinforces and gives clarity to the first:

John 15: 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

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

The “others”, those that might be mistaken as disciples, do works out of obligation.

John 14:  15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

This is why the “organized”, or should I say secularized church, has a rancid odor to so many because it is simply not bearing good fruit.

Beware of the leaven of modern-day teachers!

Matthew 7:  15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.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.

My friends, I love the body of Christ. I cherish my brothers and sisters who love God and are fighting alongside me. But I have some major, foundational concerns with what the organized church has established today. I see pastors caring more about their church activities than promoting their congregation to pursue God in daily devotion with Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship. It is these fundamentals that will make a healthy church that will bear good fruit. A church like this will not diminish, but be alive and growing.

Matthew 28: 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Does it get any clearer than this?

The great excitement I receive from this knowledge is that it puts everyone on a level playing field and any can grow in Christ and pursue Him just as much as any other. Going to seminary or a Christian School does not necessarily get you any closer to God than what you can do without the schooling. If you seek God with all your heart, He will use you wherever you’re at and this will not require a degree of any kind.

Will you be His disciple?

“Dear God, have mercy on us. We’ve messed up as a church in so many ways and we need your help to know how to follow you even closer. Please open our hearts and encourage each of us to examine our own motives and plans. Thank you for your Word and how it convicts each of us, keeping us on your path. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Have you seen my testimony?

http://thebibleteam.com/about.asp

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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.”

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash



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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.
Faith & Love

Faith & Love

Faith comes first.

A person comes to God in/through faith (belief):

Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Love comes after.

There is no way to love someone without knowing them. He already loves us as He’s always known us.

1 John 4: 19 We love, because He first loved us. (NASB)

By coming to Him in faith we are simply responding to His love. He is the initiator.

He promises time and again throughout His Word that when we seek Him, we will find Him. Here’s just one example:

2 Chronicles 15: 1 Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4 But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.

Here is another verse that sheds some light on God’s character:

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

Notice that He doesn’t seek after us. To get our attention, He can do any number of things. But for us to really know Him, we have to do the seeking and this takes time and effort as do all valued relationships.

The more I know God personally, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the greater my faith in Him becomes. Our faith and love for Him go hand in hand.

As a child, and like most children, I had implicit faith in my father. I could jump from the monkey bars and into His hands without wavering because I knew him and loved him. I had great faith that he would catch me. God wants the same from us, which is why He requires “child-like” faith:

Mark 10: 13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Faith in God does not happen overnight. If we are truly “born again” (of the Spirit), we all start off as babes in Christ and need to grow and develop into young men and women of God.

Keep in mind that Abraham walked with God at least 38 years before he was asked to sacrifice his only (legitimate) son.

David spent many years with God as a young adult working as a shepherd and was able to develop a great faith in God after experiencing God helping him kill lions and bears while watching the flocks.

1 Samuel 17: 34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”  Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”

Without a relationship with the Lord, which God requires (love the Lord your God), we will never grow in faith.

Yes, faith comes first which introduces us to God in the first place but in order to grow and have deep roots we must love Him and learn to love Him more and more.

Ephesians 3:  14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

This helps us to understand why the greatest commandments are:

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

Out of this relationship, obedience should come naturally.

God desires obedience more than sacrifice, which brings glory to Him:

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

John 14:  23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.

So how could we ever obey Him if we fail to hear His voice because we don’t know Him? It becomes our heart’s desire to obey Him when we love Him.

What does obedience mean to you on a day to day basis? Is it simply doing good things and making sure we don’t do wrong? I can tell you most assuredly that God desires much more than simply staying away from evil and doing good works.

He wants your heart, completely.

Jeremiah 29: 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD.

When you know Him and trust Him enough to give Him your whole heart, it will be your greatest desire to do what He want’s you to do. This does not mean that you’ll never be without sin, please don’t have that expectation. What can be expected, however, is a transformed heart and that, my friends, is the greatest!

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

1 Corinthians 13: 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

If you do not know how to seek Him or how to develop this relationship, feel free to reply to this message and I’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Will you take the time to know Him?

“Dear Lord, thank you for loving me. Thank you for getting my attention and letting me know that you desire a relationship with me. Please help me to get to know you more and help me to stay on your path. Draw me close as I’ll draw close to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash



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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.
Is There A Better Way To Pray?

Is There A Better Way To Pray?

Today I’d like to examine one of the greatest examples of prayer that we have in all of Scripture, and it’s very simple.

It is the prayer that Jesus prayed while in the garden of Gethsemane just after the last supper. To me, it is the perfect example of a surrendered prayer life. It is honest and He yielded to His Father’s will.

There is a lot to be learned from the words that were said that night, let’s take a look…

John 17: 1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.

Jesus knew what was coming next. It was the event that finalized His work here on earth, the crucifixion. Most of us know that Jesus is God in the flesh, but in these passages, we also see that He was also human.

When He first arrives at the garden He becomes filled with grief:

Mark 14: 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Isn’t this interesting? The overwhelming events ahead must have been unbearable to think about.

As anyone that is faced with fears or grief should do, He prays:

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Now it gets even more interesting.

Although He knows that He is to die and offer the atoning sacrifice for all mankind, He prays that the suffering be taken away from Him.

Hebrews 7: 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.

To me, when I began to understand that Jesus asked not to go through with it, it gave me much joy, mostly because I could relate to Jesus. Although He was perfect, He had this human element that we all share. So the next time we pray “I don’t want to go through with this.”, we can look back on this verse and feel OK, we’re in good company. He was faced with circumstances that He did not want to face. This is just being honest and transparent before His Father. Dare I say that this is the weakest moment of his ministry? But the prayer didn’t end there.

“Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

It was more important to Him to have His Father’s will done than His own. This was yielding to His Father’s will.

He not only prayed this prayer once but three times:

Matthew 26:  42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.

So like any child, He kept asking. (Practicing what He’s preached) He might’ve wanted to ask more, but time had run out, the “lynch mob” had arrived, led by Judas Iscariot (evil villain).

It’s in Luke we read that “an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him”:

Luke 22: 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Notice also in verse 44 we read that He was in such agony that we sweat drops of blood!

When the mob does show up, after these prayers, we see a different Jesus. After Peter slashed off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave, Jesus had these words to say:

Matthew 26: 52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

This is significant.

This is why the “Thy will be done” is so important. Jesus knew that if He would not have prayed for the Father’s will, and asked for protection, it would not have pleased His Father and Jesus would have none of that.

John 5: 19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

Just like anything, “Thy will be done” comes off the tongue real easy, but it is not easy for me to pray it like I mean it.

A hypothetical situation

For practical application, let’s read about Tom and his wife Barb (fictional characters)…

A hard-working, God-fearing man, Tom, makes a mistake at the office. Not just any mistake, but a doozy. He loses a huge account for the company he works for because of this mistake. He knows that the company will review the situation and hold a disciplinary meeting that could result in the loss of his job.

Tom is quite concerned at this point and is surprised that he’d even commit a mistake like that to begin with. So he prays “Lord, please help me keep my job, the idea of being fired is unbearable.” The Lord, being the generous God that He is, has the company find favor with Tom and they decide to keep him. Praise God, that is wonderful!

But what if God had other plans in mind? Here’s an alternative ending. Suppose Tom had prayed this prayer “Lord, anything is possible for you, can you help me keep my job? Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” The next day Tom gets fired. He’s gone. He gets the boot. He’s sacked. He’s absolutely miserable.

The next day and in the days to come, he has more time to read his Bible, spend time with his wife, Barb, and he starts to see things from a different perspective. “I’m not so tense, he says to himself”. Weeks go by and he actually grows closer to God and to Barb. Yes, there is a financial strain and some humiliation (which is good), but his relationships are better off.

He’s already better off, God already worked out a plan that is better for Tom. Even if Tom gets a job that doesn’t pay as well perhaps he won’t have the tension or the long hours, he’s found that it is more valuable to him to spend more time with God and with his wife. Maybe God has a better job in mind that will pay him more and have fewer hours.

You can see where I’m going with this and this can play out in many ways. Most of the time it is difficult to know the will of God, but I think we need to give Him a chance in our lives just to show how great He is rather than keeping control over it ourselves.

We serve a God who knows everything about our future.

Of course, Tom wants to keep his job, that’s all he knows and few people like the “unknown”. Perhaps it is God’s will for him to keep his job. God gave him the job and he’s got great friends there. If it’s God’s will to keep the job and he keeps it, then Tom will give God all the praise and thank God from the rooftops for His mercy and grace.

Suppose God has other plans. How is Tom to know what’s best for him? Does he know the future and can he figure out where he should be to maximize his potential and glorify God?

So if it is God’s will for Tom to be fired, doesn’t God know what’s best for him? Doesn’t God care more about their marriage than they do? (absolutely)

Remember Job? God not only knew what Job would have to endure but gave Satan permission to humble him, stripping everything away from him. Job had no idea why it happened and suffered greatly while experiencing tremendous loss. Little did he know at the time that God had it all planned out. At the end of the story, he was awarded twice what was lost and became a better man of God than before. What an amazing God!

Here are a couple passages that provide food for thought:

Isaiah 29:
16 How foolish can you be?
He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
“He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
“The potter who made me is stupid”?

Isaiah 55: 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Will you give God the chance to do what He wants with you?

“Dear Lord, You are my maker, why is it so easy for me to forget that? You are good, loving and only have what’s in my best interests. Please change my heart so that I will follow you more closely. You are the one that gives me life. Thank you for all that you’ve done in my life thus far, but I want things to change between me and you. I want your will to be done from now on, Lord. I plan on changing my prayer and allowing you to have your way with my life because I believe that you can do a better job with it than I can. It’s scary sometimes when I think about what might happen in the future but I will trust in you, thank you Father! In Jesus’ name, amen.”

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Why Should I Be Worried?

Why Should I Be Worried?

I don’t know about you, but I have more than a few things to worry about. Some big, some small. Some short term, some long term. A few things I have some control over and others that I have no control over. On top of that, I receive emails filled with details about additional things to worry about as if I should join the sender in their concern. There are a lot of things to worry about.

Can you relate?

If I choose to, I could worry about my car falling apart, my yard that needs mowing, a project that is really late, bills that are behind, the lack of money that is coming in and the fact that I have no health care. Oh, but that’s not all. I could also worry about my office that is a mess, or that many people, friends of mine, who struggle with little income and worse circumstances than I. While I’m at it I could also worry about our state and federal governments and everything else that is madness in the world.

My friends, all that I’ve listed here are genuinely a part of my reality.

Now I know that many of you have even longer lists than I. Some of you might be tempted to say “big deal, you think you’ve got problems, take a look at my list!” What I find fascinating is that I know people with long lists with poor circumstances that worry less than people with shorter lists and seemingly smaller issues.

Lessons I’ve learned

With this knowledge I draw these conclusions:

    1. Our worries and concerns are relative and in no way can be compared with someone else’s. People that live an “easier life” should not be put down or their problems minimized because they don’t “compare” to mine. Who am I to judge?
    2. It really is a choice to worry, but harder for some to break. I’ve been told by people that their mother worried so it became a learned habit for them, or even maybe a genetic trait, I don’t know.
    3. Some people can hide it well and some people wear it on their sleeve. Appearances can be deceiving, people don’t always “have it altogether” as you may think.
    4. Everyone’s worried about something, in various degrees. Everyone also has something to be thankful for. (Read Psalm 103)

What amazes me is that I can be out doing anything and can be in a cheerful mood when I suddenly have a worrisome thought enter my mind. If I ruminate (Beth’s word, not mine) on these thoughts without considering the sovereignty of God and His plans and purposes for my life then I’m left hopeless. It is that simple. Without God, there is no hope. If I fail to acknowledge my Creator then my cheerful mood quickly turns to despair.

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.

Nothing substitutes our time spent with God

This is just one reason why it is essential to spend time with God daily in prayer, His Word, and spiritually charged fellowship regularly if we want any hope of having a joyful life regardless of the circumstances.

I think worry or fear is the absence of or lack of faith. Is God truly sovereign? Is He in control? Does He want what’s best for me?

Based on this passage from Psalm 112 I think the measure that someone worries is an indicator of how well they know their God, personally and/or intellectually.

Psalm 112:
1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.

 6 Such people will not be overcome by evil.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
 7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
8 They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.

This passage in 1 John says it well:

1 John 4:16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

ALL things work together…

One thing that I’ve found is that God allows us to experience “rough spots” so that we learn to depend on Him more (which is what He desires most):

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.

And He stretches and matures us through the process:

Romans 5: 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Knowing this should excite us and then we can really shout with joy.

It tells us that there really is a purpose and that we’ll be better witnesses on the other end.

“Hard times”, when allowing God to work with us (remaining submissive), yields patience, compassion, joy, understanding, and perseverance. There are things you learn through difficulties that you simply cannot learn otherwise. Do you remember the book of Job?

Job was blameless from the beginning.

Job 1: 8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

He naturally went through a great period of despair. When God finally reveals Himself to Job He sets Job straight by making it abundantly clear that He is God and Job is not. What I think is really cool is how God showcased His creation to illustrate just how great He is. This humbled Job. It was this great experience with the Almighty and the revelation of things “far too wonderful” for him that led to his repentance and, after praying for His friends, concluded His test.

Job 42: 1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

One significant lesson to learn from Job is that being blameless is not enough.

If that is all you are seeking, you will miss out on Life Himself. What God desires most is for us to continually get to know and understand Him more which will only perfect our love and admiration for Him. This is why the greatest commandment is to “love God…” and not “Don’t sin and be blameless”. After all, it is our love for Him that ultimately gives us the power and desire to do good.

Here are some lessons from Job that will lead you to peace:

  1. Don’t count on advice or sympathy from ignorant friends, but pray for them.
  2. Spend time with people that know God personally more than you do. Usually, they are the older ones (not necessarily as in Job) at church that always seem to be full of joy.
  3. Continually strive to know God, both intellectually and personally (Bible reading, prayer, journaling to name a few activities).
  4. Do whatever it takes and pray that you stay humble and meek, keeping your heart soft.

I’m not at all suggesting that if you continue seeking God that you’ll ever be worry-free, for even Jesus was distressed in the garden of Gethsemane. What I am saying is that listening to and following these words will greatly reduce your worry, giving you peace, improving your witness and moving you towards godliness rather than bitterness.

These are great passages to memorize:

Philippians 4: 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
 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.

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

If God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, is for us, what do we have to worry about?

“Dear God, Let all that I am praise your name!, Thank you for teaching me so many things. My hope is in you and you alone, for you do not disappoint. Continue to lead me in your Truth so that I may grow in knowledge and understanding. Help me to know you better so that I can lean on you in dark times. You are awesome Lord and I thank you for loving me to begin with. Your loving mercies endure forever. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Take comfort from these closing words…

Job 23:
8 I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
9 I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.
I look to the south, but he is concealed.
10 But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

 

Photo by Nitish Kadam 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.
Have Your Friends Been Warned?

Have Your Friends Been Warned?

Are you familiar with the phrase, “You’ve gotta take the bad with the good.”?

I think that’s just the way life is, isn’t it? There is always good news and bad news. I find the Bible to be much the same way. Consider this selection of verses:

1 John 5:  12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

John 3:  18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.

2 Chronicles 15: 2b The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you.

1 Chronicles 28: 9b If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

Notice that each of these has the “good news” and the “bad news”.  Each passage contains 2 promises, one for the righteous and the other for the wicked.  Moses sang the same tune:

Deuteronomy 30: 15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.

It’s no wonder the Bible has lost its popularity.

In a day and age where the stories are sugar coated and most people are over-entertained, it doesn’t take long when reading the Word of God before it pierces your heart.

Paul has a great way of putting it, I’ll let him speak for himself:

Romans 11:  22 Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.

In addition, Paul adds:

2 Corinthians 2: 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

As believers and ambassadors for God, we know we have a message to deliver. In a nutshell, it is this:

2 Corinthians 5: 20b We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

There is also a time to warn others.

Read these verses carefully:

Ezekiel 3:  20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”

I’m not necessarily saying that we need to be going around warning everybody, but when the time comes and the conversation moves toward death, “end of the world” scenarios, and future events, I’d like to think I’d have the courage to say something like “Get right with God, because judgment day is coming.”

And if they say “That’s just a ‘made up’ fable, the Bible has said it many years ago, it won’t happen” You can tell them:

2 Peter 3:  8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

Great explanation, isn’t it?

My point is that people need to hear the whole truth, which is not all “good news”. Let’s learn from the master Himself, this is what He had to say about the future:

Luke 17:  26 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.

 28 “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Here’s another warning Message from the Messiah:

Matthew 7:  21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Don’t you think it’s time to tell the truth?

“Dear God in heaven, may I say the words you give me to say. My friends need to know about the coming judgment and I don’t know how make it clear, will you help me warn them somehow? I never know what to say or when to say it, but I know that if you live in me that my words will be your words and I can rest in that. Thank you for saving me from the coming judgment. I pray that I can continue trusting in you so that you can use me to share this news with others. In Christ’s name, amen”

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash



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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.
He Loves Me... He Loves Me... (not?)

He Loves Me… He Loves Me…(not?)

Does the title sound familiar? Of course, at least for some of you, I hope. In case you don’t, perhaps there are people reading this that are too young or from another culture that never heard it before.  I looked it up on Wikipedia and it seems to be of French origin.

Suppose a young girl daydreams about a boy, there is a simple game called “he loves me… he loves me not” which would determine whether the boy loves her or not. It is played by picking a daisy and then plucking the petals from it one by one. As each petal is removed the girl will say out loud “he loves me”, then the next petal is removed, “he loves me not”, next petal, “he loves me”, next petal “he loves me not” and so on until the last petal is picked which, whatever  phrase is recited, determines whether the boy loves her, or not. Suppose the last petal is “he loves me not”? Why she’d probably have to pick another daisy and try again. 🙂

Is it silly? Maybe, but cute.

Isn’t it nice to know that God always loves us and regardless of any “daisy game”, He still loves us?

But do we believe this? Day in and day out? Is this just intellectual knowledge of God’s Word or is it something that we know to be true in our hearts?

I think the greater understanding of His love for us is directly related to the less stress we have.

Here’s the real test:  Ask yourself these questions “Do I still worry?”, “Do I still have fear?” Or how about “When my bills are late, do I get anxious?”,  “Do I fear losing my job?”, “Do I worry about losing my home?”, “What do I worry about?”

If you said yes to any one of these that just means your normal. Everyone has fears and worries to various degrees. Although I believe this about people I’m convinced that that is not God’s plan for us.

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.

Matthew 6:  34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

He tells us not to worry about anything! Are you kidding me?

At the heart of this, I believe that worry is simply a word to mean “lack of faith”.

Matthew 8: 26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

I’ve learned that as I grow spiritually, I worry less and less, and although I still struggle with it, this knowledge gives me hope. Meditating on both Philippians 4:6 and Mattew 6:34 as seen above, has been really good for me. God is telling me not to worry. Eventually, I finally started to say to God “OK Lord, if you say so.” and I am amazed at how effective it was to meditate on these verses.

Another verse that really disturbed me and was helpful in meditating on was this:

Psalm 112: 7
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.

Who is “They” anyway and why wouldn’t they fear bad news, doesn’t everybody fear bad news? Can anyone relate to this? “They”, found earlier in the Psalm, is:

 1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.

Some days I’ll tremble with fear and others I seem to be at peace. It is the days of fear that I’ve really learned to cling to Him and go to Him constantly. It is also in these days of unrest that I find myself doubting what I know to be true. Is God really going to rescue me? Does He really love me? What I find fascinating is that after a day of gloom I can pray to my God and the next day, with the same circumstances, He gives me a renewed sense of hope and peace. It’s as if to say “He really does love me!”.

1 John 4:  16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

   God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

I think perfect love should always be our goal; this would enable us to overcome fear. This makes sense since the greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and neighbors as ourselves.

Isn’t this great news? You see, He loved us first:

1 John 4:19 19 We love him, because he first loved us. (KJV)

Then He commands us to love Him back, for our own good, of course:

Deuteronomy 10: 13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.

In the effort to love God and learning how to love Him; this is where true transformation really happens.

The more we understand God and the love He has for us the less fear we’ll have.

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

The closer God comes to you, the more you will realize just how much He loves you and your fears will start to fade away.

How do I grow spiritually and learn to love Him more?

  1. I read my Bible daily and follow a reading plan because I need one.
  2. I seek Him in prayer on an as needed basis(at least daily), telling Him about all my fears and asking Him to fill me with His Spirit and to teach me His ways. “Lord, how can I be one of those who doesn’t fear bad news? Please let that be said of me.”
  3. I regularly spend time in fellowship with believers discussing each other’s lives and focusing on the Word of God. In groups of 2-15 people (about 4-5 times a week)
  4. I read godly books. Personal biographies are great and those focused on spiritual growth.

Sermons at church and on the radio are great, but nothing beats “individual God time” and scriptural fellowship.

 Keep in mind that this is where I am now. When I first started to seriously seek God I read the Bible, prayed a little bit and met once a week with others. Since then my desire for fellowship grew and I find great enjoyment from these weekly meetings with the godly. The more I sought God, the more time I wanted to be with Him and His followers.

Will you join me on this journey to love Him more?

“Dear Lord, thank you for calling and loving me. I am so privileged to know you and have a heart for you. Will you help me know you better? Please help me to learn how to perfect my love and learn how to love you more. You have been so good to me and I thank you for what you’re doing today and in the future. In Jesus name, amen.”

 

Photo by Janice Gill 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.