Archive for the ‘Bible’ Tag

RELATIONSHIP — THE HEALING BALM

God can function as our wellspring of encouragement and love if we turn to Him while we’re down, discouraged, or hurting. But rather than seeking Him only when we’re in dire straits, God wants us to develop a daily, continuous, love relationship with Him. He has deemed this relationship the most important commitment of our lives. It honors Him and gives vitality to everything else we do.

He is our Abba Father, the One who can heal us when we feel hurt, unappreciated, or misunderstood. Then while supporting us emotionally He partners with us to do His work.

God wants to impart wisdom, courage, and truth to us through His Word. We learn of Him through pryerfully reading His Word. Ultimately, He seeks our love and cherishes our worship of Him, after teaching us how to love through our love relationship with Him.

Humans are inherently self-centered and selfish. God demonstrated His love for us by giving His Son as a sacrifice on the cruel cross of Calvary, thus giving us the opportunity for eternal life with Him. Through Jesus’ life, recorded in the Bible, He gives us an example of love born of selflessness. Jesus served people’s needs by healing physically, thus drawing people’s hearts close to Him. He healed spiritually as well, with teachings that were radically different from the legalistic teachings of the Pharisees, a group of Jewish leaders of the Law when Jesus was on earth. Jesus meant to bring truth and life to all.

Today we have access to Jesus’ teaching in the Bible. God intends for us to live extraordinary lives by reading and applying the Bible to our lives.

Everyday of Jesus’ life He depended on the strength He received from His Father through prayer. God means for us to carry on a dialogue with Him each day so that we can feel His love and encourgement, leading us to conquer sin. God’s love doesn’t waver, take sides, or ever fail. Whereas human love, even as wonderful as it is, at times is fraught with weaknesses: jealousy, smothering, selfishness, broken promises, and failure to love fully.

When we connect with God in prayer, He offers us a haven from worry and a place of peace. God’s love is the only perfect love. If we depend on His love, we will never be disappointed. Jesus invites us: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). NKJV

TO KNOW HIM

The well ran dry
Who knows the cause
Could it be all thoughts
Are straggled and lost
Flowing not from His Word

We need a guide
To stay on track
Lest we derail
Losing the oil of life
Precious God-given power
To just say no
Denying Satan a bounty
Your priceless life

Priceless souls
Christ died to save
Grab your shields now
Cling to His Word
Enter its courts
Fall before the King
In adoration
Praise and honor
Give Him your ear
Surrender your heart
Pour out your soul
For to know Him
Cleanses thoughts
Returns us to the well
That never runs dry

LEADING FROM THE HEART

So many people today make decisions, both major and minor ones, without consulting their hearts. The heart is the seat of love. Criteria most often used in making decisions stem from selfish vices. What will I gain financially or materialistically? How will my choice allow me to put forth less effort? Will this choice allow me to spend more time surfing the internet, entertaining myself? Will it allow me to limit my time helping people I deem uninteresting or undeserving, to satisfy my needs first? Will this choice further my dreams regardless of how it affects others close to me?

Our priorities certainly can get out of order. We need to turn toward Jesus as our model to live with divine purpose, thereby striking vices from our lives. Divine purpose uses love in making decisions. Sure, we need to allow our minds guide our choices, but love needs to play a predominant role. We need to lead from the heart.

A prayerful, daily study of the Bible will acquaint us with Jesus’ motives. Motives are at the root of voluntary decisions. Jesus’ motives sprang from love for mankind, shaping His decision to die on the cross for us, saving us from the result of our sin — everlasting death. Christ’s love for us is manifested for us thoughout the Bible.

I counsel you to feed on His Word, the Bible, drawing life from God’s expression of love found therein. Model your life after Jesus, always remembering Jesus’ words: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34,35). The decisions we make will, then naturally, lead from the heart because we love one another as He has loved us.

Considering others in our decisions endears us to them and helps reveal our divine purpose: to love and serve the Lord. This act of worshipping God by loving and serving Him, when seen by non-believers, tends to attract them to the Lord. It creates a kernel of spiritual life in them so necessary to begin a walk with God.

The greatest love we can extend to those in spiritual darkness is to witness our faith through our actions and lifestyle choices. This method can win more souls to Christ than words alone. The key to Christian decision making is leading from the heart. Only when we are unencumbered by selfish motives can we, then receive a blessing when bringing others to Christ.

(Quoted Scripture from NKJV.)

PSALM 40:6-8

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the Book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart'”(Psalm 40:6-8).

God desires us to obey the commands He directs toward us and to obey the Ten Commandments, above personal sacrifices and prescribed burnt rituals. Here David speaks of the priest and prophet Samuel’s experience recorded in 1 Samuel 15 in regards to King Saul. Saul and his army had just decimated the Amalekites as the Lord had commanded him to do. But Saul did not follow the Lord’s command to also destroy all the enemy’s livestock, but rather took them as plunder. Saul intended to sacrifice the best sheep and oxen to God, as was the Israelite’s religious practice. But God, through Samuel, communicated to Saul that obedience is required above sacrifice and burnt offerings. To fully realize this required an opening of the ears to God’s wishes, instead of one’s inclination to do what one thinks is best, as Saul did.

God, in His infinite wisdom, always directs us to do what is best for us. Samuel, as well as David, realized this. Sacrificing to the Lord is fine, but true worship of God requires obedience to God, first and foremost. This is a prime ingredient to spiritual growth. If we live our lives in line with God’s requirements as revealed in the Bible, we can also say, “Behold, I come. I delight to do Your will, O my God.” We can serve God with joyful hearts because His Law is indelibly inscribed on our hearts. Our obedience to Him flows as a wellspring from our hearts.

(Quoted Scripture from NKJV.)

PSALM 40:1-3, a Psalm of David

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth —
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord”(Psalm 40:1-3).

Most of us, when in a terrible situation, eventually cry out to the Lord after we’ve exhausted our other possible sources of help. Not David. He cried out almost immediately to God for assistance. In faith, with patience, he waited for God’s help. He was in a horrible pit situation, perhaps being pursued by a jealous King Saul and his army. David couldn’t even move. He was stuck, as in heavy, mucky clay. Yet he didn’t despair because he knew God would help Him.

God did more than rescue David. He set him on safe, solid ground and guided his next moves — indeed, when David permitted, God directed his entire life. The Lord had a powerful effect on David’s outlook on life. David made a habit of giving God the credit — of praising Him. Often we, too, praise God after he’s rescued us. This is a form of worship God loves to receive.

Those who witness God snatch us from harm and hear us praise God will be in awe of God and put their trust in Him.

In my coming novel, THE CASTING OF CROWNS, John typifies many wordly, young men. He trusts in himself, not in God. Whereas, John’s girlfriend, Carissa, develops a growing relationship with Jesus, learning to lean on Jesus. You can see the friction. Will John swing toward God and what other challenges and dangers does Carissa face in this Last Days scenario?

Why do you feel it’s difficult today for people to abandon their own efforts in the face of trouble and instead lean on the Lord? Please feel free to comment.

(Quoted Scripture from NKJV.)

WHO WILL GO

What higher calling can Christians receive, than to be commissioned to teach others about our precious Savior Jesus? This calling is, in fact, our duty. Will you go?

When Jesus commissioned His disciples He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”(Matt 28:18-20). The commission extends to all his followers. This Great Commission was brought front and center in a sermon delivered at my church this past Sabbath.

On reflection, I realized the importance of our telling others about Jesus. Can anyone grow as a Christian if they don’t share their faith? It is like a muscle that needs to be used to grow strong. Can we love others if we don’t share Jesus with them? Is the teaching to be left up to the ministers alone or are we all expected to pass on what we know about Jesus? The Biblical truths we’ve been taught, Biblical nuggets we’ve discovered individually, and precious truths God has communicated to us through our personal experiences are all ripe for teaching.

Jesus’ admonition to not hide our lights under a bushel basket echoes sharing of our faith by modeling our Christianity.

The process of our calling involves accepting the call, and then taking action by helping our co-workers in Christ deliver the rich, saving message concerning Him. This is to prepare them for baptism, bringing them into the Body of Christ.

It seems like a hefty job to broadcast the Good News to all the world. But this we know — Christ promised in the Great Commission to be with us. We don’t have to worry. He is, in His love for souls, right beside us.

(Quoted Scripture from NKJV.)

WINTER READS

It’s the doldrums of an Arctic-like winter here in Wisconsin this week in January. Time for me to curl up with a good book. What do I like to read? Well, suspense holds my interest the best, science fiction is a new, attractive genre for me, and non-fiction of any kind feeds my mind’s thirst for knowledge.

The book I chose today is the Bible. I somehow neglect it at times but am always drawn back to it. Why? It contains knowledge, wisdom, and guidance far above human writers’ abilities to create on their own. The Bible is God-inspired and contains truth for all humanity throughout the ages. But the Bible is not entertaining, you may counter. Actually, the Bible is chalked full of heroes and heroines whose lives are recorded not only for our spiritual development, but to show their colorful lives, linking them to our own human tendencies, thereby showing relevance to us. Look at King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the ensuing events. The whole story reads like a soap opera. Maybe we should turn off our TVs and open the Bible for something better than entertainment — enrichment. David’s life is recorded in 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2.

Many people I’ve spoken with see nothing relevant to our lives recorded in the Old Testament. They see only the Jews whose customs are distinctly different from our own. Since God does not change, His character recorded in His handling of the Israelites in the Old Testament is the same character He has today. Knowledge of God’s character displaying mercy, justice, love, compassion, abhorrence of sin, among other attributes, is integral to our being able to come to God without fear and to abide in Christ. That trusting, loving bond with Christ is our ticket to eternity with Him. There is no other way.

Do you have thoughts on a character in the Bible you’d like to share with others? Perhaps reading about that Biblical person has affected your life in some way. Feel free to comment.

EMBRACING GOD

A rich, satisfying experience, even in tough times, can be obtained only by making God the center of our lives. You may say, “But I want to be the center of my life.” I have known people who put themselves at the center of their universe. I was one of them. They are, in a word, selfish. Take another look at your heart. Do you want to love, to share, and to bless others? Well, you need to put God first. Only by abiding in Christ, or staying connected to Him, letting Him mold your character to the likeness of His own, can you be equipped to truly love others.

There is no love without sacrifice. Who of us can deny Christ loves us? He gave His life for each of us. He reconciled us to God. While abiding in Christ, He gives us the power to carve out those bad habits and those unloving behaviors and pitch them. Only then will we reflect Him and be a source of blessing to others.

You may wonder, is the act of blessing others, bringing happiness, the true meaning of life? Many philosophers as well as ordinary people have struggled with the meaning of life question. Some say we live to love others, many say we live for pleasure, while others are comfortable without an answer to this question.

God says in His written Word, the Bible, that we live first and foremost to love and obey Him, our Creator. But why love God, some question? The Bible stresses: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Solomon, the God inspired author of this verse, recognized that fearing God means to hold God in awe. Beyond that, to obey His Ten Commandments simply ensures our happiness because it acknowledges that we accept His being in control. He is a benevolent, loving God and He is above all other gods. To think the god of pleasure will bring us happiness is an illusion, because it showers us with only fleeting moments of bliss.

God promises us an eternity with Him if we but follow Him, accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior. We need not, nor cannot earn salvation through good works, although good works go hand-in-hand with an abiding faith in God. Instead, we believe in Christ, our Savior, looking to His perfect life and death. He died as our substitute to satisfy the wages of sin which is death. His Word says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). By repenting of our sins we show we love God enough to have Him reproduce His image in us. We no longer live for self, but for Him.

Christ beckons us: “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

When we follow Christ we are freed from the bondage sin creates. Christ teaches us humility and we no longer feel societal pressure to be the best. We can rest in being precious in His sight and will become all God has planned for us, all the while feeling His loving embrace. This, I think is an admirable goal and at the heart of the meaning of life.

(Quoted Scripture from NKJV.)

Modern Day Miracles?

We all know God worked many miracles throughout the Bible. He parted the Red Sea and comsumed Elijah’s soaking sacrifice with fire from heaven. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and He fed the four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Peter healed the lame man by the power of God. And many of us expect to be reunited with dead loved ones in Christ after God raises them from the dead. God’s power is endless. But what about today? Right now. Does God work miracles among a sinful and unbelieving people of today? I think he does if we let him.

Let me share a personal experience. Ten years ago I was still a heavy cigarette smoker, having defiled my body with this destructive habit for some twenty-two years. Cigarettes had gradually become my best friend. I came to a juncture. I knew either I would smoke myself to an early grave or I would free myself from this habit and live. But the problem was, I didn’t really want to quit smoking. It was just too pleasurable. I was helpless, it seemed, until I turned to God for help. I realized He was my lifeline. Everything else had failed–going cold turkey, nicotine patches, Nicorette gum.

I cried out to God in prayer. I put faith in Him 100 percent. I told Him I knew He could take care of my problem. I couldn’t fathom how, but I believed He knew how. And I asked Him to take away my desire to smoke.

About three months later I was stricken by a stomach ailment that landed me in the hospital. Since smoking was not allowed anywhere at the hospital, I knew I had to just tough it out. After a day my stomach problem had me feeling horrible, yet. Another day passed and I hadn’t even had any nicotene withdrawal symptoms. The doctor found a remedy for my stomach and I was set to be discharged. That day I knew God had given me this chance to quit smoking. It was a gift I took and I haven’t smoked since. It has been ten years and my desire to smoke also vanished. Clearly this was a miracle. God is so good.

Do you believe God works miracles today? Please feel free to comment or share a miracle God worked in your life or in the life of a loved one.

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