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Saturday, January 25, 2014

When You're Tempted To Lose Patience With Another, Think About How Patient God Has Been With You

According to the Bible, Peter warned that in the last days people would doubt God because it seems He is slow in fulfilling His promise to return.  Peter pointed out, however, that this seeming slowness is a good thing.  God is actually demonstrating His patience by giving people more time to repent (2 Peter 3:9), and also being true to His character, as in patient or slow to anger (Ex.34:6). We too must be slow to become angry  and slow to speak (James 1:19).  According to James, "quickness" is reserved for our ears.  We're supposed to be quick to listen.  Think about how much trouble we could avoid if we learned to listen, really listen, not just stop talking before we speak.  In our rush to meet goals and deadlines, let's remember to speed up our listening and to slow down our tempers and our tongues.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Text Out Of Context Is Often A Dangerous Pretext. Followers of Christ Get Their Marching Orders From Him

Followers of Christ get their marching orders from Him. When we believe in Jesus Christ and become His followers, we are under new authority.  We are subject to new commands.  Now we belong to Him.  What was once important to us loses its significance.  we evaluate things differently.  Our new desire is to love and serve the Lord with all our heart. (Deut. 6:5-6).   

A text out of context is often a dangerous pretext.Sometimes we imagine more than what's really there while reading the Bible.  Rather assuming that our speculation is correct, however, we need to be sure our interpretation fits with the whole of Scripture.  Peter said that "no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20).  As we depend on the Spirit's instruction, a careful study of the context, and the wisdom of respected Bible teachers, we'll avoid  seeing things in the Word that aren't really there.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When God Starts Changing Things, He Usually Begins with Changing Us.

That's one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees.  He challenged their long-established system of good works and self righteous living.  Consider the incident when the town "sinner" entered the home of the town "saint" in Luke 7.  Simon the Pharisee wasn't impressed with the woman's lavish display of affection for Jesus.  Reading Simon's self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the story of two debtors-one who owed much to his master and one who owed less.  "Which of them will love him more?"  Jesus asked (v.42).  Obviously the man who had forgiven more.  Speaking to Simon's I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself- attitude. Jesus said "to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (v.47).  The challenge is clear.  Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the ones "forgiven much." And when that happens, ready or not, it's time for a change!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

God Orders Our Stops As Well As our Steps

God orders our stops as well as our steps. I've always struggled to understand a statement I heard when I was a young Christian. "God can't steer a parked car."  I took that as a challenge to shift my life into motion, and along the way God would guide me in the right direction.  It's an interesting thought, but it's not always the way God works.  Occasionally, God does want us to "stay parked" for a while. At times, when Moses was in the wilderness, God kept the Israelites in one place. He led them by a cloud, and when it stayed still for many days, "the children of Israel did not journey. (Num. 9:19). Waiting isn't always easy, but sometimes God wants us to stay right where He has put us. You may feel that you're stuck and just spinning your wheels in your service for God.  But keep your heart open to God's leading. Then you'll be ready to shift gears when you hear God say, Let's go this way.
J.P. Olson

Sunday, January 12, 2014

God Has Made It Clear In The Bible That There Is A Limit To His Patience.

The Bible is a book about people who have a problem with God.  They have a hard time seeing eye to eye with a God who says " My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways", says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts". Isiah 55: 8-9.

The Bible is also  about a God who has a problem with people.  The whole Bible  is about a God who will not always protect those who refuse to trust Him.  When God barred Adam and Eve from their garden home, when He sent a flood to destroy all but Noah and his family, when He allowed the Assyrians to defeat the Northern tribes  and the Babylonians to defeat Judah, God made it clear that there is a limit to His patience.

God promises are not given to all, but to everyone who is willing to seek and trust Him.  Isaiah reminds us that God is willing to be found by those who are willing to seek Him on His terms.  Just before saying, "My thoughts are not your thoughts," Isaiah quoted God as saying, 'Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" Isa. 55:6-7.

The whole Bible makes it clear that God promises to be found only by those who are willing to surrender to Him.  This important condition of surrender is what Jesus taught when He said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" Matthew 5:8.  He said this immediately after saying, " Blessed are the poor in spirit... Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the meek, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful.  Each conditions reflects the need for a surrendered heart as a condition to receive the blessing of God.  God cannot be found just by anyone, Because He is Spirit, He is seen only by those to whom He chooses to reveal Himself.  This is also true of the Bible.

While the Scriptures have been given to lead us to God, they remain a closed book to those who are trying to find God on their own terms.  God will be found in the pages of His book for those who desire to obey Him, or He will not be found at all. Jesus said of God and of Himself, "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority" John 7:17.

Salvation itself is a gift.  Forgiveness and eternal life come to us only by grace and through faith in Christ; Ephesians 2:8-9.  But seeing God in the Bible requires a willingness to do the will of God.  Only in surrender do we have assurance that God will let us see the truth about Christ in our present circumstances.  Only in submission can we see the Father and His Son on every page of the Scripture.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Be Careful To Use God's Word For His Purpose, Rather Than For Our own Agenda

We must align ourselves with the Bible and never try to align the Bible to ourselves.  Despite our best efforts to write clearly, sometimes we are misunderstood.  We feel bad about our failure and try to improve our skills.  Occasionally, however, readers take words out of context or read into them something that bears no resemblance to the intended meaning. This is frustrating because there's no way to control how people use words once they are published.  This brings to mind a much more serious offense- that of misusing  the words of the Lord.  The prophets in Jeremiah's day did this.  They put their own words into God's mouth by claiming He said things they wanted to be true but that God had never said.  So the Lord told His people, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.  They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord". (Jer. 23:16).  Then the Lord warned the people that He would forsake those who pervert His words and cast them from His presence.  In contrast, the apostle Paul made a point of saying that he did not handle the Word of God deceitfully (2 Cor, 4:2).  He knew the danger of preaching his own ideas rather than God's.  All of us need to be careful to use God's Word for His purpose, rather than for our own agenda.  It falls in the same category as trying to justify a sin by editing the Bible to fit our agenda.

You Have The Power To Change Someone's Life, Simply By The Words You Speak

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 
Nathaniel Hawthorne came home heartbroken.He’d just been fired 
from his job in the customhouse. His wife, rather than responding 
with anxiety, surprised him with joy. “Now  you can write your book!” 
He wasn’t so positive. “And what shall we live on while I’m writing 
it?” To his amazement she opened a drawer and revealed a wad of money 
she’d save out of her housekeeping budget.“I always knew you were a man 
of genius,” she told him. “I always knew you’d write a masterpiece.”
She believed in her husband. And because she did, he wrote. And because 
he wrote, every library in America has a copy of The Scarlet Letter by 
Nathaniel Hawthorne. 
You have the power to change someone’s life simply by the words that you 
speak. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”