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Archive for the ‘Relationship with God’ Category

RomansRoad132x200I rarely have opportunity to quote a Diana Ross song for spiritual insight or inspiration, but I hear God’s voice in these lyrics from the song made famous by Diana Ross and written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser:

Do you know where you’re goin’ to?
Do you like the things that life is showin’ you
Where are you goin’ to? Do you know?

As I begin 2014, I ask myself, “Do I have a direction in which I am headed?”  “Am I headed in the same direction as God?” I see the new year as an opportunity, a time to adjust the headings and evaluate what was accomplished last year, and what the goals should be for the coming year, spiritually speaking.

If you are having trouble focusing or setting goals, here are some questions to help you:

  • What have you learned about God this year?
  • What have you learned about yourself from God this year?
  • What things do you continue to struggle with and need God’s assistance or deliverance this year?

May God bless you and give you grace to walk humbly with Him.

Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22-24

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Ever have someone wrong you, and you forgave them but negative thoughts persist?    I have found myself with such thoughts more than once.  So what’s a body to do?

Choosing the right weapons

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

The battle will wage regardless of the weapons we choose to take up to fight.  Although no one can escape the  battle, the good news is two-fold:

  • The battle is won.  Jesus said, “It is finished.”
  • The weapons are “in God.”  This means that I do not have to think about finding my own weapons or using ineffective weaponry to fight my foes.

What are the weapons that I can use?

  • The Whole Armor of God
  • The Belt of Truth 
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness 
  • The Gospel of Truth
  • The Shield of Faith
  • The Helmet of Salvation
  • The Sword of the Spirit
  • Prayer                                                          –Ephesians 6:13-18

These weapons will help us to bring those thoughts, those persistent thoughts, into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  We will look in more detail at what this means and how this might be applied to our lives more specifically in the next post.

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The LORD promises that with His love He will quiet us.  In Zephaniah 3:17, the prophet tells us, “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

The picture is perhaps of the child who buries her face in the bosom of a parent; the small body shaking with sobs.  The parent speaks soft words, sings gentle songs of reassurance until the sobbing subsides.

This is a picture of our Heavenly Father.  He will hold you to His bosom as you pour out your sorrow, your fear, your loss, your frustration, or whatever is stealing your “quiet.”  In that moment, He whispers to you of His great love for you.  Knowing of His love, being reminded again of how much He loves you, all His promises to you, you become quiet.  He has quieted you with His love.

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Given the pervasive nature of fear, it seems wise for us to consider more of what the Bible would teach us about fear and fighting fear.

On the nature of fear . . . 

  • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  1John 4:18
  • The love of God for us is perfect love.  When we walk in the love of God, in fellowship with Him, abiding in His word and living by His Spirit, we can experience a life free of fear.  In fellowship with God, the torment must flee and the Spirit of God brings peace, the peace that passes understanding.
On why we shouldn’t fear . . .
  • Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.  Matthew 10:26
  • Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32 (Jesus speaking)
Without fear, it is possible to have peace
  • You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3
With God, we have a remedy for our fear.  Look to Jesus, author and finisher of our faith.  Focus on what God has done, is doing and will do.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus . . . look full in His wonder face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

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What does the future hold? . . .  How will I keep my house without a job? . . . What will I do if my spouse gets ill and can’t work? . . .  What if my spouse leaves me? . . . What if no one loves me? . . . Who will help me when I get older? . . .  How will my child make it in the world? . . . What’s that noise upstairs? . . . Who’s at the door at this time of night?

Big and small, fears are our constant companions.  Fear is one of the universals of the human condition.  We all have fears.  Perhaps that is why the Bible mentions fear and commands us not to fear so many times.

We can learn some important things from the Bible about fear.
There is only One to fear . . . 
  • Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matthew 10:28
Fear not because God is with you . . .
  • Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish.  You shall seek them and not find them-Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing. For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’  Isaiah 41:10-13
Don’t fear because God will not leave you . . . 
  • Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6
Fight fear with the Word of God.  When you are afraid, remember what God has said and remember that God cannot lie.  What He promises, He will do.

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How many times in the day or week do you long for a do-over?  You just want to turn back in time and make a different choice, say something or just stay silent?

God offers the ultimate do-over in 2 Corinthians 5:17.    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The great thing about this verse is that it is without limitation.  Christ has given the ultimate do-over.

  • Gone are my mistakes and failures (they no longer define and limit me)
  • Gone is the deadness in my heart and conscience (He has given a heart of flesh to replace my heart of stone)
  • Gone is the hopelessness of being unable to change despite the harm to myself and others (now I have Holy Spirit power to overcome sin)
  • Gone is the futility of thinking (now I have the mind of Christ, wisdom of the ages)
  • Now I can have a fresh start (All things are made new)
  • Now I have hope for the future (He has gone to prepare a place for me and has promised to return for me)
The time for your do-over is now.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow is promised to no man.

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Sometimes as believers, we use terms that only we understand.  What some might call “Christianese”  Understanding these terms and being able to “translate” them to those who don’t speak our “language” is essential to effectively sharing the gospel.  What does it mean to be saved?  What happens when we are born again?

The Basics

  •  Salvation is a gift    (John 3:16)
  • The only Requirement is belief (John 3:16)
  • Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, satisfying all the righteousness requirements of the law (2 Corinthians 5:21)

What happens?

  • We’re made alive spiritually  (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1)
  • The charges against us are dropped (Colossians 2:14)
  • We’re forgiven of  all our sins (Ephesians 1:7)
  • We’re purified for God to be His own (Titus 2:14)
  • We’re made new – a new creation in Christ  (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Old things are gone; all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • We’re reconciled to God (restored to right relationship) (2 Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:21)
  • We’re presented to God holy and blameless (Colossians 1:21-23)
  • We receive the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32)
  • We receive lasting inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)
  • We have abundant life now (John 10:10)
  • We receive everything needed for life and godly living (2 Peter 1:2-11)
  • We receive the power of  the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  • We receive weapons for warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18)
A Word Picture to Illustrate
     If they still don’t get the idea, give them a picture:  “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:18

May the One who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy keep you from stumbling  and present you to God as without fault (and only God can do that).

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