Showing posts with label Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christ. Show all posts

Friday, December 29, 2017

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children - Book Review

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and today's culture isn't making it any easier. And when we feel like were struggling, it can be tempting to throw up our hands and simply declare, "All we can do now is pray!"

Once our kids have "flown the nest," our parenting will change dramatically, but our sons and daughters will always need our prayers.

Prayer is one of the most important parenting assignments we've been given. It is an eternal investment in our kids' hearts and souls, and we must never under estimate its impact.

The Battle Begins

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes. -- Nehemiah 4:14

The things you give to God in prayer - your worries, concerns, and needs - are the ties that bind your heart to his. Our struggles are his entry points.

The more we allow the Bible to shape our prayers, the more our requests will line up with God's plan.

There is no "perfect" family.

Everyone - even that beautiful woman who sits across the aisle from you at church, the one with the daughter who just got engaged and the son who just got promoted - has issues. When it comes to raising our children and pursuing God's best for their lives, we all need huge buckets of his grace, and we are all in this together.

It's never too late to start praying God's best for your children.

It doesn't matter how old your children are. You never stop being a parent. You never stop caring.

Blessing and Releasing Your Adult Child

Our adult children have different needs, but all of them can use the prayer of blessing.

A blessing is not the same thing as an endorsement. It's a way of handing our children's future over to God.

As you pray God's blessing on your children, release your plans and trust in God to accomplish his.

Praying for Your Child's Transition to Adulthood

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. -- 1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

God's ways are not our ways. Ask him to show you how to pray for your children.

As your children navigate the path to adulthood, ask God to help them be wise and make the most of every opportunity.

God gave our children unique talents and abilities. Trust him to put these attributes to good use.

A Year of Prayer

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -- Romans 12:12

Choosing one verse to pray all year long expands your time horizon and allows an awareness of God's faithfulness to take root in your prayer life.

When God gives you a promise to pray for your adult child, leave room for him to fulfill it in ways that go beyond anything you could have imagined.

Reading the Bible allows God's message to penetrate our minds, shape our desires, and give voice to our prayers.

Praying for Good Friends and Fellowship

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -- Proverbs 27:17

We are created for connection. Ask God to bless your child with rich and meaningful relationships.

Ask God to use your children's worldly interests to connect them to people whose passion is for him.

If your child is not going to church, ask God to prompt someone to invite him.

The Bible offers several portraits of friendships marked by loyalty, dependability, and faithfulness. Jonathan became "one in spirit" with David, giving him his robe (symbolic of his identity) and making a covenant of friendship that would last between their descendants forever. Let's ask God to give our kids faithful friends and to draw them into a life-giving relationship with Jesus, the one who gave up his life "for his friends."

Praying for a Future Spouse

"Let her be the one that the LORD has chosen for my master's son. -- Genesis 24:44

When the time came for his son to get married, Abraham had one main request: Issac's bride couldn't be a Canaanite; rather,he wanted her to be someone from his own country. He sent his servant off to do the picking, and when the fellow got to Abraham's hometown, he prayed a very specific prayer: "LORD ... make me successful today ... May it be that when I say to a young woman, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink; and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too' - let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Issac."

Rebekah showed up, gave the servant a drink, and then offered to fetch water for the camels too - all ten of them.

Almost everyone the author has talked to said they wanted their son or daughter to marry a Christian.

When you pray for your child's marriage partner, it's okay to be specific, but be prepared for God to surprise you.

Praising God changes our perspective and releases supernatural peace, hope, and joy.

Pray that your child's sense of identity and worth will be found in Christ rather than in being single or married.

Praying for a Young Marriage

A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery. -- Ephesians 5:31-32

We do the praying; God does the changing.

When your children get married, your prayers take on a new dimension. Now you're not just praying for him or for her; you're also praying for them.

Consider using the example of biblical characters - real people, with real relationships and real problems - to shape your prayers for your children.

With a Spirit-filled marriage, all good things are possible.

Praying through a Trouble Married or a Divorce

Be patient, bearing with one another in love. -- Ephesians 4:2

Destructive family patterns can be broken. Ask God to break these bonds and set your children free.

"Let's pray to break any generational bonds or patterns of evil."

When you pray for your child's troubled marriage, remember that his or her spouse is not the enemy.

When your children go through painful trials, ask God to use their suffering to produce perseverance, character, and hope.

Praying for a Good Place to Live

God begun by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live. -- Acts 17:26 NCV

Finding a good place to live can take time. Ask God to give your children (and you, if they are at home) the strength to "walk and not be faint."

Asking God to give your child wisdom is always a good starting place for prayer.

Sometimes the best way to help our adult children isn't to give them money or even advice; it's simply to pray.

Praying for a Job

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. -- Psalm 32:8

If we want to pray with faith, we must anchor our requests in God's promises.

We can make all the plans we want - and so can our kids - but God is the one who directs our path.

Trusting God with our children's future means being willing to trust his timing.

Praying When Your Children Have Children

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. -- Isaiah 44:3

Praying for your grandchildren strengthens your relationship with your children and their spouses.

Ask God to provide friends and mentors who will lovingly point your grandchildren toward Christ.

If you have concerns about your grandchildren or how they are being raised, take your worries to God and give his grace time to work.

Praying through a Health Crisis

This is what the LORD ... says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. -- 2 Kings 20:5

Trusting God when we don't know what the future holds opens the door to peace.

Sometimes the key to praying with perseverance is simply to stop looking at your problems and focus instead on who God is and what he has done.

Jesus offers this invitation: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." What a beautiful promise, particularly as we pray for our children's health and safety.

God doesn't just want to heal your child; he wants to take care of you too.

Praying for Mental and Emotional Health

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. -- Psalm 40:1-3

When you pray your child through a mental or emotional illness, don't let shame or fear keep you from enlisting trusted prayer partners to help you carry your burden.

God is in the business of transformation, and he has promised to renew - body, mind, and spirit - day by day.

An unforgiving spirit can hinder your prayers. Ask God to search your heart - and be ready to extend grace (even to yourself) and receive God's love.

Praying for Protection from Harm

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him. -- Psalm 34:7

If God calls your child to a place or a job that scares you, slip your hand into your heavenly Father's and pray, trusting him to guard what you give him.

Asking God to put his angels in charge of your child's safety encompasses more than just physical protection. We can trust him to stand guard over their hearts and minds too.

When you feel too frightened or overwhelmed to pray for your child's safety, remember that God's power is made perfect in your weakness.

Praying through a Job Loss or Financial Difficulty

When I said, "My foot is slipping," your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. -- Psalm 94:18-19

The Bible has a lot to say about money. Ask God to help your children to manage it wisely.

When we pray our kids through loss or rejection, it helps to remember that Jesus knows exactly how they feel.

God knows how our children are formed, and what they do with their lives matters to him.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 adds this: "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it."

Praying through the Struggles of Infertility

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. -- Psalm 145:16

As you ask God to fulfill your children's deepest longings, pray that they will be satisfied with the gift of his presence.

When God gives your children a promise, come alongside them and believe it.

Praying for Strength to Resist a Party Culture

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. -- Matthew 5:6

Your adult children may be out of your reach, but they are never out of God's sight.

Today's party culture offers counterfeit joy. Pray that your kids will want the real thing.

We cannot glory - steal from God.

Praying for Protection from Sexual Sin

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. -- Romans 12:2

God loves us unconditionally. Ask him to help you show that same kind of love to your children, even if you don't like what they do.

God's kindness leads us to repentance. Ask God to surround your children with people who will lovingly point them toward him.

Light scatters darkness. Ask God to turn your children from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

Praying for Recovery from an Addiction

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. -- Isaiah 61:1

Addiction is a formidable enemy, but the weapons we fight with - including prayer - have divine power to demolish strongholds.

God is always at work in our kids' lives, and he can use the worst things to bring about good.

We cannot control or cure our children's addictions, but we can hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, knowing that he who promised is faithful.

Praying for Your Prodigal

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. -- Jeremiah 24:7

Ask God to work in your prodigal's mind and spirit, demolishing arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.

God knows what it's like to grieve over a prodigal child - and to rejoice over his return.

Our struggles are often God's entry points.

Is Jesus Enough?

God doesn't want us to trust in an outcome; he wants us to trust in him.

Heavenly Father...

Whom have we in heaven but you? Work in us and in our children, so that nothing compares to the desire we have for you. Be the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Amen. -- Psalm 73:25-26

Jodie Berndt is the author of several books, including The Undertaker Wife, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, and Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens. She and her husband, Robert, have four grown children and two son-in-laws. A Speaker and Bible Teacher, Jodie encourages readers to pursue joy, celebrate grace, and live on purpose.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Sacred Slow - Book Review

In the beginning, "there was evening, and there was morning - the first day." Time has not changed: it remains one of the few unaltered, original residents of the garden of Eden. Demand it to speed up or beg it to stand still, time will remain steady because it bows to only One. (And we, too, are His servants.)

However, each slow, calm tick of time has ceased to be a sacred reminder of the gift of life (let alone of the Giver of life).

A handful of numbers in the Scriptures have solid significance, and the number seven is surely one of them.

Consider the significance of the number seven in the Scriptures:

Literally, a prime number between six and eight
Figuratively, a symbol with spiritual weight

Seven figures prominently in Scripture as a period of waiting, warring, warning, and wisdom. The number boundaries intentional times, set-apart spaces, moments kissed by the divine, and resting places.

We see further evidence of the Israelites' understanding that their exile was in part connected to ignoring the Sabbath Years when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall around 445 BC. Upon its completion, the community made a binding agreement with God. Among their commitments, they stated, "Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 is one of the most quoted verses in all of Scriptures, and Jeremiah 29:10 is not.

When seventy years are completed: one year for every Sabbath Year God's people refused to embrace.

Listening is an exercise in interdepence, which nurtures a teachable spirit.

Not listening is a posture of arrogance, which ignores the contributions of another.

By not listening, God's people "brought harm to (them) selves."

We still struggle to listen and obey, and not listening is still toxic for our souls and communities.

Since God breathed into us "the breath of life" our divinely touched dust has been honored with a standing invitation to listen for our Creator.

The Genesis narrative introduces God's voice not at the creation of our "formless and empty" planet but at the installation of light. Before the first "Let there be," there was earth, water, and God's Spirit hovering over all. The voice brought light - a light that preceded the creation of the sun.

The Revelation prophecy concludes with God's voice still bringing light. Over all the end-times images and earthly uncertainities rests the clear voice of the bright Morning Star as He assures listeners of His authority and His soon return.

Adam and Eve had heard God's audible voice. However, hearing has never been a synonym for heeding.

In Mark 4:34, we read that Jesus "did not say anything to them (the crowds) without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything."

Perhaps thorns such as the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things are the means to the Enemy's ends, not the ends in and of themselves. The Gospel state that the thorns were the means to a specific end: choking the Word to hinder it from maturing and, thereby, making it unfruitful.

We live in a fallen world. The Kingdom of darkness constantly bombards us with impure and untrue messages about life, faith, spirituality, and God.

The Word heard is not enough. It must be heeded.

We recognize the value of devotions and quiet times. However, these spaces are means to an end, not ends in and of themselves.

Through the door opened by Jesus' sacrifice, you and God are together in one place. In everything you do, God is with you.

God has named you as the work of His hands! Do you know what was in His heart when He created you?

God had tears of love in His eyes as He formed you in the womb. You are saturated with His fingerprints.

Psalm 119 is written to God about God's Word. When studying the psalm, three categories of content stood out to author of The Sacred Slow: the psalmist's relationship with God's Word, descriptions of the power of God's Word, and prayers about God's Word.

We may use a computer, but we must relate to the Bible because the Word of God is alive.

Pick up your Bible and pray. Thank God for the gift you hold in your hands. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead into truth.

The anonymous pen of Psalm 119 clearly admired, studied, and loved God's Word. As we have already seen, this psalmist - mentor talked to God about his commitment to God's Word (what the Word is) and about his belief in the power of God
s word (what the Word does). The third component of his psalm was to scripture - pray to God for an even greater relationship with His Word.

Psalm 119 is punctuated with many prayer requests, most of which are supported by God's promises.

May God increase our hunger and respect for His life - giving Word.

The Corinthians' early struggle is our daily struggle.

As the Corinthians were deciding what touched their bodies and infiltrated their minds, Paul counseled them to choose options that left a morally positive deposit in their souls.

In truth, everything we do affects all that we are.

In his letter, Paul explained that since Christ has purchased a believer's freedom, the exercising of that freedom must, therefore, honor Christ.

Consider the disciples who were called to be with Jesus. They walked with Him and talked with Him and proceeded to walk by others without saying a word.

Remember the Samaritan woman who spent time alone with Jesus by a well and then brought her whole town to meet Him? However, she was not the first person familiar with Jesus' presence to go into town that day.

The disciples had been there earlier.

We can read in John 4:8, "Jesus disciples had gone into the town to buy food." In town, they interacted with bakers, fishermen, and fruit sellers in the marketplace long enough to buy sufficient food t feed at least thirteen.

So twelve leaders who walked alongside Jesus 24/7 went into a town and said, "We'd like to buy six fish and a loaf of bread." How many people followed them back to meet Jesus?

Not even one.

One Samaritan woman who had spent perhaps less than an hour with Jesus went into the same town and said, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" How many people followed her back to meet Jesus?

The whole town!

The author of this book, Dr. Alicia Britt Chole is an award-winning writer. She is a speaker, author, and leadership mentor who enjoys thunderstorms, jalapenos, and honest questions.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Abram Called and Blessed ... Genesis 12:1-3

God promised to bless Abram and make him great, but there was one condition. Abram had to do what God wanted him to do. This meant leaving his home and friends and traveling to a new land where God promised to build a great nation from Abram's family. Abram obeyed, walking away from his home for God's promise of even greater things. God may be trying to lead you to a place of greater service and usefulness for him. Don't let the comfort and security of your present position make make you miss God's plan for you.

Abram moved out in faith from Ur to Haran and finally to Canaan. God then established a covenant with him. Not only would this nation be blessed, God said; but the other nations of the earth would be blessed through Abram's descendants. Israel, the nation that would come from Abram, was to follow God and influence those with whom it came in contact. Through Abram's family tree, Jesus Christ was born to save humanity. Through Christ, all people can have a personal relationship with God and be blessed beyond measure.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A New Covenant of the Heart - Jeremiah 31:31-34

God would inscribe his law upon their hearts rather than upon tablets of stone as were the Ten Commandments. This change seems to describe one experience very much like the new birth and God is making the initiative. When we turn our lives over to God he, by his Holy Spirit, builds into us the desire to obey him.

The Old Covenant, broken by the people, would be replaced by an new covenant. The foundation of this new covenant is Christ. It is revolutionary, involving not only Israel and Judah, but even the Gentiles. It offers a unique personal relationship with God himself, with his laws inscribed on hearts instead of on stone. Jeremiah looked forward to the day when Jesus would come to establish this covenant. But for us today, this covenant is here. We have the wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start and establish a permanent, personal relationship with God.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday - The Peaceful Kingdom - Isaiah 11:1-9 - 9/3/17

Assyria would be like a tree cut down at the height of its power never to rise again. Judah (the royal line of David) would be like a tree chopped down to a stump. But from that stump a new branch would grow - the Messiah. He would be greater than the original tree and would bear much fruit. The Messiah is the fulfillment of God's promise that a descendant of David would rule forever.

The Messiah is Jesus Christ.

How we long for fair treatment from others, but do we give it? Only Christ can be the perfectly fair judge. Only as he governs our hearts can we learn to be as fair in our treatment of others as we expect others to be toward us.

Judah had become corrupt, and now it was surrounded by hostile foreign powers. The nation desperately needed a revival of righteousness, equity, and faithfulness. They needed to turn from selfishness and show justice to the poor and the oppressed. The righteousness that God values is more than reframing from sin, it is actively turning toward others and offering them the help they need.

It is incredible to think of hostile animals living at peace. It is even more incredible for hostile people to live at peace with one another. And one day the whole world will acknowledge that Christ is Lord.

A golden age is yet to come. Not all of this was fulfilled at Christ's first coming. For example, nature has not returned to its intended balance and harmony.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Wheaton, IL

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sunday - Called To Witness - Acts 6:1-7 - 8/6/17

When we read the descriptions of the early church - the miracles, the sharing and generosity - we may wish we could have been a part of this "perfect" church. No church has ever been or will ever be perfect until Christ and his followers are united at his Second Coming. All churches have problems. Do what you can to make your church better.

The twelve are the original disciples and Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26).

As the early church increased in size, so did their needs. One was to organize the distribution of food to the poor. Each person has a necessary part to play in the life of the church (1 Corinthians 12). If you are not in leadership, you have gifts that can be used by God in various areas of the church's mission. Offer these gifts in service to him.

This administrative task was not to be taken lightly. Notice the requirements for the men who were to handle the feeding program: (1) good, with reputations for being honest, (2) full of the Holy Spirit, and (3) wise. We must look for honest, spiritually mature, d wise men and women to lead our churches.

Pastors should never try, or be expected, to do everything. Instead, the work of the church should be spread out among its members.

Spiritual leadership is serious business and must not be taken lightly by the church or the leaders. In the early church, the chosen men were commissioned (set apart by prayer and laying on of hands) by the apostles.

1 Timothy 4:14 (Instructions for elders. Paul gives guidelines for teaching). Timothy was a young pastor. Timothy's commission as a church leader was confirmed by prophecy (1 Timothy 1:18) and by laying on of hands by the elders of the church.

1 Timothy 3:10-13 ... Deacons means "one who serves." This position was begun by the apostles in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1-6) to care for the physical needs of the congregation, especially the needs of the Greek-speaking widows. Deacons were leaders in the church and their qualifications resemble those of the elders (bishops) in some churches today. Paul says men are to be tested with lesser responsibilities before being made deacons.

Some have translated wives as "women helpers" or "deaconesses." Paul expects the behavior of prominent women in the church to be just as responsible and blameless as that of prominent men. Phebe, the deaconess was mentioned in Romans !6:1.

Jesus had told the apostles that they were to witness first in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). In a short time, their message had infiltrated the entire city and all levels of society.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV; Tyndale Publishers, Inc.,; Wheaton, IL

Friday, July 21, 2017

6 of 6 ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

This fourth soil of the heart is what every Christian should strive for in their walk with God for this is the fertile ground that bears fruit for our Lord.

The other three soils were not allowed to dominate the heart. The heart did not allow any of the five thorns to take root, spread and dominate its soil to the point where it choked and suffocated the Word of God. To get the fourth point where it chocked and suffocated the Word of God.

We must hear the Word of God, gladly receive it into our hearts, understand its message of truth, then hold fast to it in order to bring forth fruit reaping a harvest thirty, sixty, a hundred times of what has been sown.

We must also receive this word into our hearts to enter into this blessed fourth soil. The Greek word for "receive" means to accept deliberately, willingly, favorably and readily and to embrace with favor and delight.

We are God's tilled field according to 1 Corinthians 3:9.

Simply being a Christian does not guarantee that the soil of the heart is in this fourth category. We have a responsibility before God to guard the soil of our heart and, as James says, "get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness."

The Word of God must also be understood if we are to abide in this fourth category of soil. All spiritual growth comes by the way of understanding the Word of God. Without understanding the seed cannot grow and produce fruit.

The next requirement of this fourth soil of the heart is that we keep and hold fast the Word of God in an honest and good heart.

The soil of our hearts is most fertile when it is living love by helping, caring for, rescuing and comforting others.

Secondly, the Word of God must be kept in a heart that is a beautiful representation of Jesus Christ so people can see our good deeds and glorify our Heavenly Father.

The last requirement of the fourth soil of the fourth soil of the heart is that it brings forth fruit with patience. The Greek word for "patience" means steadfastness, perseverance, and to remain or abide under.

Look at the patience of the farmer. He does not plant his seed and then rushes to his window the next day expecting to see a full harvest.

God's desire is that we bear much fruit, and this is His faithful promise.

Our heart needs steadfast patience and endurance to finish the race God has called us to and fully accomplish the will of God in our lives. Without this patient and endurance our heart's soil will fall into the second or third category of soil in the parable of the sower and the seed.

No one exercised more patience when he lived upon the earth than Jesus Christ.

Only when we look to Jesus can we run the appointed race with patience, steadfast endurance and not grow weary, faint, or lose heart. How many lives have been wasted by a lack of patience!

When all of the requirements of the fourth soil are met, Jesus makes an astounding promise that we shall reap a harvest thirty, sixty to hundred times what was sown. This is a yield of three thousand, six thousand and ten thousand percent.

Is this the return that we are having in the church?

Sadly, very few Christians have ever reached this forth soil. The world with all its philosophies, mantras, formulas, and education can never manufacture, replicate or create the fruit of the spirit in the human heart.

Idols have more influence on the condition of the heart than any other thing in the world! Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis and the introduction of sin into the human race, the heart has become an idol factory countless idols to love, worship and obey.

Isaiah 24:5 states that the entire earth has been polluted by idolatry and a curse has devoured the world.

The Bible is the life manual and instruction book on the ways of God and its urgent warnings against idolatry should not be ignored.

All humanity has been seduced into the snare of idolatry. Idolatry is based upon deception.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter therein" (Matthew 7:13).

Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

God never lies about about who He is and what He will do.

Perfect order, peace and joy are restored when the Almighty is exalted, praised and worshipped.

The Bible teaches that the heart is the battleground of idolatry.

The heart was never meant to be a place for idols. Idolatry turns the dwelling place of God into a pagan temple.

The heart becomes what it worship.

So what exactly is an idol? An idol is anything that is more valued, loved, sought after, desired and honored than God.

What are you most devoted to?

Your eyes guide your heart as all idolatry begins with the gaze of the eye.

How could Aaron, that stood by Moses and witnessed firsthand some of the most amazing manifestations of the power of God, be so easily persuaded to fashion a false god for the children of Israel?

You can never serve two masters.

It is too dangerous to leave even one piece of any idol in the temple of our hearts. We should never utter the name of any other god, but Yahweh.

Every idol has a spirit from the kingdom of darkness behind it that drives a person to love and worship it.

Baal was believed to be the giver of life, and entire nations were devoted to Baal because they believed he was the one who would sustain their farms, flocks, and families.

The first usage of the word "believe" in the entire Bible concerns the faith of Abraham in the name of Yahweh (Genesis 15:6).

Do you have a heart for God or an idol?

Too often we have honored God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him.

We will not be able to hold our ground as Christians and stand fast in the Lord, if we allow His mighty works, powerful words and glorious presence to fade from our conscious thinking.

The Spirit of God is always teaching, leading, comforting, encouraging, helping, enlightening, reminding and instructing our hearts so we live for Christ, and do not forget God or His precious words of life.

The old nature brings to the mind, the lusts of the flesh, and the seductive trappings of this world. The new nature exercises its influence to bring us to a place where God is supreme in all our thoughts, motives, and emotions.

Doesn't God deserve to be your first love?

Lord help me to never, ever forget you!

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate and bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, and classics. An attorney and author. President of Goodness of God's Ministries and lives in Indianapolis with his wife and son.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunday - Jeremiah's Call and Commission - Jeremiah 1:4-10 - 7/16/17

God knew you, as he knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He knew you, thought about you, and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and has had a purpose in mind for you.

Each Christian has a purpose in life, but some are appointed by God for a specific kind of work. Samson, John the Baptist, and Paul were each called to do a particular job for God. If God gives you a specific task, accept it cheerful and do it with excellence. If God has not given you a specific assignment, then seek to fulfill the mission common to all believers - love, obey, and serve God - until such time as his guidance becomes more clear.

Often people struggle with new challenges because they lack self-confidence. They feel they have inadequate ability, training or experience. Jeremiah thought he was too young and inexperience to be God's spokesman to the world. But God promised to be with him. We must never allow feelings of inadequacy to keep us from obeying God's call. He will always be with us. If God gives you a job to do, he will provide all you need to do it.

God's message to Jeremiah was like his message to Moses: the God who made our mouths can provide the words he wants us to speak.

Jeremiah predicted that after the destruction of the nation, God would send a new Shepherd, the Messiah.

God still restores his people by renewing their hearts. We can have assurance of a new heart by loving God, trusting Christ to save us, and repenting of our sin.

Jeremiah served God faithfully for 40 years. During that time the people ignored, rejected, and persecuted him. He remained faithful to God.

People's acceptance or rejection of us is not the measure of our success. God's approval alone should be our standard for service. We must bring God's message to others when we are rejected.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV; Tyndale Publishers Inc; Wheaton, IL

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wednesday - Grace Abounded through Jesus Christ - Romans 5:18-21 - 4/19/17

Acquittal and life for all followed upon Christ's perfect obedience. Law ... to increase the trespass, this is explained in 7:7-13.

Romans 7:7-13: The law & sin. Though the law is holy ... and good, it not only makes man conscious of sin (Galatians 3:19), but also incites to sin (coveteousness; compare Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). Probably a reminiscence of a thoughtless, carefree boyhood brought to an end (death) by the dawning sense of moral obligation & guilt. The real enemy is sin, which uses even what is good (the law) to make a man more sinful than he would otherwise be.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha Expanded Edition, An Ecumenical Study Bible, RSV

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday - God's Saving Love in Christ - John 3:1-16 - 4/9/2017

Verse 14 (crucifixion) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of man be lifted up:

Nicodemus personal name meaning "innocent of blood." John identifies Nicodemus as a Pharisee, "a ruler of the Jews," that is, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, & as a "teacher of Israel," that is, an authority on the interpretation of the Hebrew scripture. Nicodemus coming at night suggests his timid & his trek from the darkness of his own sin & ignorance to the light of Jesus. Nicodemus greeted Jesus with a title of respect, "Rabbi" (teacher), recognizing Him as a God sent teacher whose signs bore witness to the presence of God. Jesus replied that Nicodemus could never see the Kingdom of God without being "born again" or "born of water & Spirit." Nicodemus could only marvel at the impossibility of such a thing.

True to his name, Nicodemus defended Christ before his peers who were unaware that one of their number might have believed in him.

The reference to Nicodemus' initial coming at night highlights his later public participation in Jesus' burial. Nicodemus contribution was enough aloes & spices to prepare a King for burial, & so he did. On a deeper level it recognized that in His role as King of the Jews.

The Pharisees were the most devout of Jews. The Kingdom of God is entered, not by moral achievement, but by a transformation wrought by God. Birth into the new order is through water (referring to baptism; & the Spirit). Jesus descended from heaven to bring eternal life, (participation in God's life), through being lifted up on the cross.

Reference summary used from: An Ecumenial Study Bible, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha RSV & Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday - God's Love Manifest - John 15:1-17 - 3/19/17

The grapevine is a profilic plant: a single vine bears many grapes. In the Old Testament grapes symbolized Israel's fruitfulness in doing God's work on the earth. In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine symbolized, God's goodness to His people.

Christ is the vine, & God is the husbandman who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The branches are all who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with followers are as good as dead & will be cut off & cast aside.

Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of pruning (1) separating & (2) cutting back branches. Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth. God must sometimes discipline us to strength our character & faith. But branches that don't bear fruit are cut off at the trunk, because not only are they worthless, they often infect the rest of the tree.

Prayer, joy, & soul-winning are also fruit.

Abiding in Christ means (1) believing he is God's Son (2) receiving Him as Saviour (3) doing what God says (4) continuing in faith (5) & relating to the community of believers. Christ's body Jesus says to only live a truly good life is to stay close to him, like a branch attached to the vine. Apart from him our efforts are unfruitful.

When a vine bears "much fruit," God is glorified, for daily He sent the sunshine & rain to make the crops grow, & constantly be nurtured each tiny plant & prepared to blossomed. What a moment of glory for the Lord of the harvest when the harvest is brought into the barns, safe & ready for use! This farming picture shows how God is glorified when people come into a right relationship with him & begin to "bear much fruit" in their lives.

Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily keeps us levelheaded no matter how high or low our circumstances.

We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, & He loved us enough to give His life for us. Give all the love you can, & then try to give a little more.

Jesus made the first choice --- to love & to die for us; to offer us eternal life. We make the next choice --- to accept or reject His offer. Without His choice, we would have no choice.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale Publishing House, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Saturday, March 18, 2017

1 of 2 The Begining ... Book Review

Prelude To The Apocalypse: Companion Study Guide

Paradox: A statement, doctrine, or expression seemingly absurd or contradiction to the received belief or to what would naturally be believing, but perhaps really true.

Gnotics: Of, pertaining to, or possessing knowledge;

Apocalypse: The book of Revelation ... The revelation made to the Apostle John

(John 16:12-13) I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; & He will tell you things to come.

The Scriptures clearly teach that knowledge is surpassed by the love of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:19). Knowledge is not the ultimate reality in the universe.

First, the author would like to explain to his readers the oneness of God (1 John). The most important reality about God is that He is love. John tells us that God is love. God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit & that Spirit is love.

Here is why we need to understand the nature of love & how it can manifest in differing ways. When most people think about love they often think of love in one way only. The love that does not fail & always accepts us even when we don't deserve it. This kind of love is explained in I Corinthians 13.

God the Father represents a different manifestation of love. Protective love is rooted in righteousness.

The first paradox that was formed was found in the nature of love. God brought us life into existence & He loved His creation with an everlasting love. When sin came into existence it threatened life itself. God loved his angels but they were turning away from love to evil. God must be able to judge His own children & removed evil from existence. The love that cannot fail, by nature, cannot fail even Lucifer. God, in a sense, had to sacrifice His own heart in order to throw the diseased sons of God into the place of eternal quarantine prepared for them.

The Godhead is manisfected in differing ways even though the three manifestations are love.

Simply put, Jesus taught us that there is no giving or taking in marriage in heaven & that we will all be like angels (Matthew 22:29-30). There is no feminine in the Godhead & we know from the book of Job that angels are called the sons of God.

The Hebrew word for Spirit ("ruach") is feminine in Genesis 1:2. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is presented in the masculine gender. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "the Comforter" (John 16:7).

The church takes on the role of the feminine in the relation to Christ. The Greek word for church (ecclesia) is feminine in gender. The church is called the bride of the lamb (Revelation 19:7; 21:9). The church receives the Spirit (seed) & produces life (John 7:38,39).

Jesus submitted to His Father's will. Even though He was one with the Father in Spirit, He took on the role of submission. The church, in the same way, must learn to submit to the will of Christ.

The maternal side of love cries out for forgiving (Luke 23:34). Many people have asked, as did Jesus, "Why did God forsake Christ when he was on the cross (Mark 15:34).

Jesus is directly referenced to as the lamb that was sacrificed for sin. Christ was begotten of God & not created. He is the same essence, substance, or Spirit as the Father (John 16:27-28; John 10:30).

The lamb (Christ) was slain from the freedom of the world (Revelation 13:8). When the knowledge of good & evil came into existence through the law, the perfect Love (Holy Spirit) in a real sense had to be sacrificed, lest it should forgive Satan. Pure love can never turn away from the children.

The Passover lamb, in contrast to the sin offering, had to be a male lamb (Exodus 12:5-8). The Passover lamb represented represents the reality of eternal death passing over all who take Christ (the lamb) into their life. These are picture types that teach us about God's plan for redemption of all who receive Christ. It also shows us the protective side of love in that we are protected from death through Christ.

God's ways make sense & everything God made reflects something about the Godhead.

Angels were not begotten but rather created. Adam was first & Eve was begotten out of Adam. Planets & moons are one matter & are drawn together by the unknown force called gravity. Adam & Eve are one flesh & drawn together by love. The Father & Son are drawn together by the Holy Spirit of love.

Let us be glad & rejoice & give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, & His wife has made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). We should not think of these pictures types in fleshly terms but rather spiritual.

As the bride of Christ we are to yield (submit) to His will. Remember that in the Spirit there is no giving or taking in marriage but we shall all be as angels. We as His bride, must learn submission to His will & then we shall be exalted. The will of Christ is found in the Sermon on the Mount & Beatitudes. He told us to learn the ways of love.

In chapter eight of Proverbs wisdom speaks to us declaring she was brought forth from God.

Comparison between Christ & Wisdom:

Through Wisdom all things created: Psalm 104:24; Jeremiah 10:12; Proverbs 3:19

Through Christ all things created: John 1:1,9; Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16

Find wisdom find life: Proverbs 8:35; Ecclesiastes 7:12; Proverbs 4:20-22

Find Christ find life: 1 John 1:12; John 14:6; John 10:10

Wisdom established from everlasting: Proverbs 8:23

Christ established from everlasting: John 8:58

Wisdom invites to eat her Bread & drink her wine: Proverbs 9:5

Jesus is the bread of life. Wine is life: John 6:33-48; Matthew 26:28

Satan will try to turn the picture of the Godhead in creation upside down. Evil will grow if left unchecked by power & strength. Evil masquerades as good & takes advantages of innocence.

Imagine a time before evil existed. There was no need for law or protective because there was no knowledge of evil. Because creation was innocence, God had to create a way of understanding what sin was. He spoke into existence or permissive side of love is perfectly explained in I Corinthians 13.

Mankind will attempt to become as god & reinterpret all things through selfish ambition carnal desire & call it freedom.

The world is attempting to cast off God in order to pursue carnal lust & selfish desire. The law of God is hated by those who proclaim freedom. Anyone who stands in the way of this "freedom" will be hated & reviled, even as God is reviled.

Revile: To address scandalous language; abuse; be abusive in speech or act.

When there is no longer anything to stop sin, it will run rampant.

Evil must be resisted. God the Father must turn away from His own children (fallen angels, sons of God) & eventually separate them from the family. The disease called sin must be put away into a quarantine zone forever. That zone is known as hell.

There is a concerted effort in this day to make boys more like girls in their emotions. When men become emotionally driven instead of righteously driven there will be an eroding of strength in society.

Bruce Campbell is the author of The Beginning Prelude to the Apocalypse Companion Study Guide. He has been a pastor, evangelist and a successful business man. He currently runs The Secret Place, an international ministry to ministers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Divinity degree. He, along with his wife and daughter live in Picayune, MS

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Friday - Loving God & Brothers & Sisters - I John 4:20-5:5 - 3/3/17

It is easy to say we love God when it doesn't cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us - our family members & fellow believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in his image.

When we become Christians we become part of God's family, with fellow believers as our brothers & sisters. We are simply called to accept & love them. How well do you treat your fellow family members?

Jesus never promised that obeying him would be easy. The hard work & self-discipline of serving Christ is no burden to those who love him. And if our load starts to feel heavy, we can always trust Christ to help us bear it (see Matthew 11:28-30).

Reference summary is used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday - Christ Creates Holy Living - Galatians 5:18-6:10 - 2/26/17

Live each day controlled & guided by the Holy Spirit. Then the words of Christ will be in your mind, the love of Christ in your actions, & the power of Christ will help you control your selfish desires.

In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance, we must deal with them decisively (crucify them). These desires include obvious sins such as sexual immorality & witchcraft.

The Spirit produces character traits, which are found in the nature of Christ. The result will be that we will fulfill the intended purpose of the Law - loving God & man. Which of these qualities do you desire to produce in you?

Because the God who sent the Law also sent the Spirit, the by-products of the Spirit-filled life are in perfect harmony with the intent of God's Law.

When you do your very best, you feel good about the results & there is no need to compare yourself with others. When you are tempted to compare look at Jesus Christ. His example will inspire you to do your very best, & his loving acceptance will comfort you when you fall short of your goals.

It would be certainly be a surprise if you planted corn in the ground & pumpkins came up. Every actions has results. If you plant to please your own desires ("soweth to the flesh"), you'll reap a crop of sorrow & evil; if you plant to please God you'll reap joy & everlasting life.

It is discouraging to continue to do right & receive no word of thanks or see no tangible results. In due time, we will reap a harvest of blessing.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday - Walk in Newness of Life - Romans 6:1-11 - 2/20/17

This section deals with sanctification - the change God makes in our lives when we become Christians. Chapter 6 discusses the continuing struggle believers have with sin.

God forgiveness does not make sin less serious. The availability of God's mercy must not become an excuse for careless living & moral laxness.

In the church in the apostle Paul's day, immersion was the usual form of baptism - that is, new Christians were completely "buried" in water. They understood this form of baptism to symbolize the death & burial of the old way of life. Coming up out of the water symbolized resurrection to new life with Christ.

We can enjoy our new life in Christ because we are united ("planted") with him in his death & resurrection.

The power & penalty of sin died with Christ on the cross. Our "old man," our sinful nature, died once & for all, so we are freed from its power. The "body of sin" is not the human body, but our rebellious sin-loving nature inherited from Adam. The apostle Paul has already stated that through faith in Christ we stand acquitted, "not guilty" before God.

Because of Christ's death & resurrection, his followers need never fear death. This will affect all our activities - work & worship, play & Bible study, quiet times & times caring for others.

We are fully fenced off (because of our union & identification with Christ) from all the old ways of believing & behaving. We have a new start & the Holy Spirit will help us become in our daily experience what Christ has declared us to be.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday - Freedom in Christ - Galatians 5:1-17 - 2/19/17

Christ died to set us free from sin & from a long list of laws & regulations.

Trying to be saved by keeping the Law & being saved by grace are two different approaches.

We are saved by faith, not works, but love for others & for God is the response of those whom God has been forgiven.

It only takes one person to infect all the others by persuasion.

Persecution proved that the apostle Paul was preaching the true Gospel.

The "flesh" is not a reference to the body, but to the sinful nature that attempts to use our bodies to lead us into sin.

At the same time, you must beware of confusing your feelings with the Spirit's leading. Being led by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God's Word, & the sensitivity to discern between your feelings & his promptings.

The Holy Spirit is infinitely stronger, but we are weak. Our only way to freedom from our natural evil desires is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday - Produce the Fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-16 - 2/18/17

The "fruit of the Spirit: is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. They are the by-products of Christ's control, & we can't obtain them by trying to get them. If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our lives to his. We must know him, love him, remember him, imitate him.

A person who is rich in the fruit of the Spirit fulfills the Law for better than a person who observes the rituals but has little love in his heart.

In order to accept Christ as Saviour, we need to turn from our sins & willingly nail our natural evil desires to the cross. As Christians we still have the capacity to sin, but we have been set free from sin's power over us & no longer have to give in to it. We must daily commit our sinful tendencies to God's control, daily crucify them, & moment by moment draw on the Spirit's power to overcome them.

As we live by the Holy Spirit's power, we need to submit every aspect of our lives to God - emotional, physical, social, intellectual, vocational. The Holy Spirit is the source of your new life, so walk with him.

Those who look to God for approval won't need to seek it from others.

Reference summary used from the Life Application KJV Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Monday - Christ, the Wisdom of God - I Corinthians 1:18-25 - 2/13/17

God's way of thinking is not like the world's way (normal human wisdom), but God offers eternal life while the world cannot. We can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom & never learn how to have a personal relationship with God. We must come to Christ to learn this important truth.

Many Jews thought the Good News of Jesus Christ was foolish because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering King accompanied by signs & miracles. Jesus had not restored David's throne as they expected. Greeks, too, considered the Gospel foolish; they did not believe in a bodily resurrection, they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods; & they thought no reputable person would be crucified.

The Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many. Our society worships power, influence, & wealth. Jesus came as a humble poor servant, & he offers his Kingdom to those with faith, not works. This looks foolish to the world.

The message of Christ's death for sins sounds foolish to those who don't believe. Death seems to be the end of the road, the ultimate weakness. But Jesus did not stay dead. His resurrection shows his power even over death, & he will save us from eternal death, & give us everlasting life if we trust him as Saviour & Lord. This sounds so simple that many people won't accept it. They try other ways to obtain eternal life (being good, being wise, etc.), but their attempts will not work. The "foolish" people who simply accept Christ's offer are actually the wisest of all, because they alone will live eternally with God.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday - New Birth Brings Freedom - Galatians 4:8-20 -2/12/17

The apostle Paul commended the Galatians for not rejecting him, even though his condition was revolting (he doesn't explain what was wrong with him).

Such caring was what Jesus meant when he called us to serve the homeless, hungry, sick, & imprisoned as if they were Jesus himself. Do you avoid those in pain or facing difficulty - or are you willing to care for them as if they were Jesus Christ himself?

If you feel guilty & inadequate check your focus. Are you putting your faith in Christ or in rule-keeping?

The apostle Paul did not gain great popularity when he rebuked the Galatians for turning away from their first faith in Christ. Human nature hasn't changed much - we still get angry when we're scolded. But don't write off someone who challenges you. There may be truth in what he says. Receive his words with humility, carefully think them over. If you discover you need to change an attitude or action, take steps to do it.

"They" in verse seventeen refers to false teachers who claimed to be religious authorities, experts in Judaism & Christianity. Appealing to the believers' desire to do what is right, they drew quite a following. The apostle Paul said, however, that they were wrong & that their motives were selfish. False teachers are often respectable & persuasive. That is why all teachings need to be checked with the Bible.

The apostle Paul led many people to Christ & helped them mature spiritually. Perhaps one reason for his success as a spiritual father was the deep concern he felt for his spiritual children; he compared his pain over their faithlessness to the pain of childbirth. We should have the same intense care for those to whom we are spiritual parents. When you lead people to Christ remember to stand by them to help them grow.

Reference summary used from the Life Application KJV Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday - The Cost of Being a Disciple - Luke 9:23-27,57-62 - 2/9/17

Christians follow their Lord by imitating his life & obeying his commands. To take up the cross means to obey selfish desires to use our resources of time & money our own way, & to choose our own direction in life. Following Christ is costly now, but in the long run it is well worth the pain & effort.

Nothing material can compensate for the loss of eternal life. Jesus' disciples are not to use their lives on earth for their own pleasure, but to spend them serving God & people.

Luke's Greek audience would have found it difficult to understand a God who could die, just as Jesus' Jewish audience would have been perplexed by a Messiah who would let himself be captured. Both would be ashamed of Jesus if they did not look past his death to his glorious resurrection & Second Coming. Then they would see him not as a loser but as the Lord of the universe who through his death brought salvation to all people.

When Jesus said some would not die without seeing the Kingdom, he was referring to (1) Peter, James, & John, who would witness the transfiguration eight days later, or in a broader sense to (2) all who would witness the resurrection & ascension, or (3) all who would take part in the spread of the church after Pentecost. Jesus listeners were not going to have to wait for another, future Messiah - the Kingdom was among them, & it would soon come in power.

What does Jesus want from us? Total dedication, not half-hearted commitment. We can't pick pick & choose among Jesus' ideas & follow him selectively; we have to accept the cross along with the crown, judgment as well as mercy. We must count the cost & be willing to abandon everything else that has given us security. With our focus on Jesus, we should allow allow nothing to distract us from the manner of living he calls good & true.

Reference summary used from the Life Application KJV Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois