Tag Archives: scripture

Second Hand Religion

  
How do you know what is sin? Do you let your pastor decide that for you? Do you let your political party tell you what it is? Do you let society define it? Maybe you just go with what feels right to you. The fact is that none of these have the power to define what is right in God’s sight and what is wrong. There is only one source that defines what is sin and what is not. It’s the Holy Bible. God’s Word was written by about 40 people over the period of about 1,500 years. II Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is inspired by God.

We know that even though it was written by so many people over such a long period of time, that it was all inspired by God. The beauty of God’s Word is that it stands the test of time and will remain relevant forever because human nature doesn’t change. The Bible looks at human nature, defines what sin is, but more importantly, shows us how to get forgiveness from it and how to avoid it. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (NLT).

To avoid falling into sin, we must first know what sin is to God. James 4:17 gives us a simple definition of sin. It says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” If you know what’s right and then choose not to do it, then you’re sinning. The Bible is also filled with other things that it names as sin like lying, adultery, stealing, etc. at the heart of each of those and every other sin is that basic definition. You know there’s a right and a wrong and you’re willfully choosing the wrong.

So how do we avoid falling prey to our desire to do the things we want to do, but aren’t the right things? Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” If we want to know what sin is and also to have the ability to overcome it, we must put God’s Word in our heart. We must read it, understand it, meditate on it, and memorize it so that we can live the way God wants us to. It’s not up to other people to tell you what it says. It’s up to you to read it and to understand it. When it come to your eternity, don’t rely on second hand information alone. 

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10 Scriptures On Being Spiritual

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1. It is love, then, that you should strive for. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God’s message. (1 Corinthians 14:1 GNB)

2. And I will give you [spiritual] shepherds after My own heart [in the final time], who will feed you with knowledge and understanding and judgment. (Jeremiah 3:15 AMP)

3. I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. (Ephesians 1:16-17 NLT)

4. My brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too. (Galatians 6:1 GNB)

5. And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], (Ephesians 4:23 AMP)

6. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13 ESV)

7. Be careful therefore how you listen. For to him who has [spiritual knowledge] will more be given; and from him who does not have [spiritual knowledge], even what he thinks and guesses and supposes that he has will be taken away. (Luke 8:18 AMP)

8. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:10-11 NIV)

9. For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things– (Colossians 1:9 AMP)

10. Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. (1 Peter 4:12-13 MSG)

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10 Scriptures On Being Renewed

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1. Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 GNB)

2. And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], (Ephesians 4:23 AMP)

3. Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 ASV)

4. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 NLT)

5. But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

6. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

7. Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (Psalm 103:5 AMP)

8. Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had! (Lamentations 5:21 NLT)

9. And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it. (Colossians 3:10 AMP)

10. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness. (Psalms 119:40 NLT)

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

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Have you ever purchased something that had to be assembled? How did you put it together? Did you read the instructions first and then try to do it? Did you have someone else read them to you and then you tried to build it? Or did you look at the picture and try to do it from that? I confess that I’ve been the latter more often than not. I’m getting better at looking at the instructions though. I’ve found that it’s quicker. As I age, it’s becoming more important to me to take a little longer and get it right the first time than to have the pride of building it on my own without instructions and having parts left over.

The same way we approach an assembly project is the same way many approach being a Christian. Some people want to read the directions (Bible) to find out how to do it right while they build their faith. Others prefer to have a pastor read the instructions to them and then they try to figure it out from there. Still there are those who feel they have no need to read the Scriptures. They feel like that they can figure it out as they go. They try and fail over and over again until they get it or until they give up. Either way, they either have missing parts or there are parts left that they don’t know what to do with.

I’ve tried all three approaches to God at different stages of my life. When I was a teen, I tried to get by just by listening to my pastor and teachers. I got a decent understanding of what Christianity was about, but because I didn’t have the instructions in my hands, I didn’t have a clear picture to go by. In college and the years that followed, I tried the “who needs instructions” approach. I failed miserably. Things in my life kept breaking, parts were falling off and I was missing a lot things that I needed in order to be successful. The outside of my life resembled the picture on the box, but the inside infrastructure was missing. When I had weight applied to my life, it fell apart.

I’m a try, try again kind of person. I don’t easily give up. I may not have gotten it right in the first few tries, but I’m on the path to getting it right now. I’m spending more time reading the instructions and less time looking at the picture on the box. If I spend my life trying to create the picture on the box, I’ll never be the picture of who God wants me to be. We all have different gifts and talents which create different pictures, but our infrastructure has to come from God’s Word. We have to build ourselves up in the most holy faith as Jude 1:20 put it. We each are a work in progress guided by the Holy Spirit. If you’ve found your method isn’t working, try the original plan God had for you. Read His Word and follow the instructions He has for living this life of faith. Don’t ignore the instructions that are right in front of you.

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Free to Read the Bible

It’s Free Friday! Time to let go of the things that hold you back and keep you down.  Choose to let go today and embrace all that God has for you.  To celebrate, I’m giving away “the voice New Testament: Step Into the Story of Scripture”.  “the voice” invites story lovers to step into the story of the Bible like no translation can do.  Keep reading to find out how to win

If you haven’t done so yet, I’d like you to take a moment and watch the video below.  These are Christian leaders in China who are getting their very first Bible.  Up to this point in their lives, they have never had their own Bible.  Before this, they used pages of a Bible that they had hand copied and used those to preach and study from.

This is a powerful video and reminder that we need to cherish God’s Word.  Each day when it’s time to read it, we make excuses as to why we’re too tired or promise ourselves that we’ll do it tomorrow.  Our Bible collects dust on our night stand and our walk with Christ slows to a crawl.  We spend our time doing other things that require our attention and then wonder why God never speaks to us.  We have silenced God in our lives by keeping our Bible closed.

A couple of years ago, our church was raising money to buy Chinese Bibles to send to ministers in China.  They challenged us to count the number of Bibles in our houses to see how many we had.  I had over 20 Bibles.  I had surrounded myself with God’s Word, but was living in silence because not one of them had been opened in years.  I had taken God’s Word for granted and put it on a shelf next to other books.  I treated it as if it was just another book.

After watching this video, I decided to free myself of the excuses keep me from God’s Word.  I began to dig into it daily.  I got up earlier to make sure I had time to read it.  Instead of making it the last thing I did each day, it became the first thing I did.  If God wanted the “first fruits” of my income, why not give Him the first fruits of my time? I quit reading a chapter a day.  I read until I heard from God and found a Scripture I could apply to my life.

A radical thing began to happen.  My outlook on life changed.  My crawl turned into a walk and eventually a run.  The silence from God was broken.  His voice came through loud and clear.  I was able to make the right decisions and resist temptations that had beaten me every time.  I grew stronger in my faith and put it into action.  People noticed a difference in me.  It all began when I quit letting my Bible collect dust.

Where is your Bible right now?  Do you know where it is?  How long has it been since you opened it?  How long has it been since you opened the Bible app?  How are things going in your Christian walk?  It’s not a coincidence that the two are related.  The more you are into God’s Word, the more vibrant your life will be.  Let your excuses collect dust instead of your Bible.  It’s time to value what so many have given their life for.  It’s time to appreciate what you’ve been freely given.  It’s time to love God’s Word again.

If you would like to win “the voice New Testament” and see the Bible in a fresh, new light, go to my Facebook page here and “like” it.  I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (January 25, 2014) who has liked my page and give them the Bible.  If you have already liked my page, you are automatically entered.  If you like these daily devotions, please share my page with your friends so they can receive daily encouragement from God’s Word too.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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Today, as a nation, we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. He is best remembered for his work in the Civil Rights movement and his “I Have a Dream” speech. Having studied his life, his speech and the Civil Rights movement, I’ve learned a lot about him. Just like you and I, he had many flaws, he made some poor choices and at one point lacked direction in his life. His father was a minister and felt like he was supposed to go into the ministry too, but King wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor. As a young man coming out of college, he struggled with his faith and his future.

After thinking about it, he decided that the Bible had many profound truths that he could not escape. He decided to go to seminary in order to become a minister. Those years in seminary helped shape his public speaking and understanding of Scripture. I believe they gave him the ability to say what so many were feeling and didn’t have the ability to express. They gave him the means to energize a people who had been emancipated for a hundred years, yet hadn’t seen a day of freedom since. Because of that decision to go to seminary instead of being a doctor or a lawyer, he changed the course of a nation and a people.

You and I are faced with struggles and difficult life decisions too. You may not think that you will change the course of a nation by the decisions you make today, but you could. I’m sure he didn’t think it mattered as much as it did what he studied as a post graduate. Our decisions have lasting impacts. Sometimes they change us or our family, but they could change our neighborhood, our city, our state or our country. What you do in life matters. The decisions you make shouldn’t be made lightly. Imagine a world where he would have been a doctor. He still would have saved lives, but not nearly as many.

When it came down to it, he made his decisions based on the truths of the Bible. That means he read it for counsel. You and I should be doing the same thing when it comes to our decisions. Instead of finding out what God thinks, we go and ask family and friends what they think. Instead of wondering about the spiritual impact to our lives, we base decisions on the monetary impacts. God’s calling on your life may not make sense at the time, it may take a while to fulfill or even seem so big that you could never accomplish it. That’s ok because He’s not asking you to accomplish what only He can. He is looking for your obedience.

What decision is weighing you down today? Have you looked to God’s Word for help or the wisdom of man? You don’t have to be afraid when you act in obedience to what God told you. Don’t look for others to try to give you every reason why you shouldn’t do what God called you to do. Look to God for guidance on your next step and trust that His decisions for your life are far better than the decisions you could ever make for yourself. Who knows, the decisions you make today regarding your calling could change the nation tomorrow.

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Raise someone to life

“You are not a failure.” Those were the words my brother spoke to me at one of the lowest points in my life. When my world came crashing down and everything I had done fell like a house of cards, I felt like a failure. His words to me changed what I thought about myself. He saw beyond the temporary circumstances that I was facing and spoke to who I was.

Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. You have an opportunity each day to kill someone or to resurrect their life just by the power of your words. What you say matters. Even your off the cuff comments that seem like jokes can cut someone to their core. I know because I’m guilty of it even though I’ve made an effort in my life to speak positively of and to others.

Making that change and effort in my life has started to show its fruit through my son. One of my his favorite words is “bravo.” He learned that word before he learned the word “no.” I get excited every time I hear him say it because I know that he is learning to praise others even at an early age. Bravo is such a simple word, but it speaks volumes to the person who hears it. Bravo. You did an amazing job. Bravo. You are an exceptional person. Bravo. You deserve praise and I’m giving it to you.

Words are powerful. We don’t really grasp how powerful they are until someone speaks something to or about us. When your parents, spouse, relative or boss says something good to you or about you, it lifts your spirits and your day. They may never know how they changed your life or perspective just by saying a simple phrase that told you how amazing you are.

In the same way, you may never know the lives you’ve changed or touched by the words you’ve said. Look for the good in others. Jesus did. He looked at Peter and said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church (Matthew 16:18).” Jesus knew that Peter would soon betray Him. He could have easily said, “This guy has wasted the last three years of listening to me. He is going to deny that he even knows me.” That would have been devastating, but Jesus doesn’t do that. He speaks life to us. He sees in us what we don’t see.

When we feel like a failure or life has us down, God looks beyond that. He sees you for who you are. You are His child, His creation, His masterpiece. Yes, you are God’s masterpiece! You were created by Him in His image. You were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). When God sees you, He sees who He made you to be and calls it out in you just like He called out the rock that was in Peter.

Just as God has chosen to speak life to you, you can speak life into someone else today. People are often negative because thats what they hear from others. Maybe no one has ever spoken life into them and they are acting out the way that someone has spoken to them. People believe what others say about them. Bypass the negative in someone and see what God sees in them. Speak to that in them and tell them bravo!

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