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Weekly posts and an opportunity to ask questions or give your perspective. Let's study the Bible TOGETHER!

29 June 2012

Your Relationship With God - 29 June

Any authentic relationship is based on truth. Last week we read Christ’s claim that we are free in Him, and this week we saw Paul outline the basis of the gospel – Christ died, was buried, and is risen. Today we look at the reason that Christ could pay the penalty for our sin.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matt 1:18-23 (ESV)

27 June 2012

Your Relationship With God - 27 June

If we want to believe in Christ – if we want that relationship with Him, what do we need to believe? We hear so many things today. Some say that there are many paths to heaven. Some say you need to be a good person. But that’s not what the Bible says. Paul gives us the answer:

25 June 2012

Your Relationship With God - 25 June

Now that we’ve been reminded that we are all sinners we need to find out what the consequences of our sin are. Earthly children receive consequences for their misbehavior from their loving parents. Our heavenly Father also doles out consequences for our sin.

Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of His time at the Temple Mount. He told them that He IS God. He let them know that simply having a religious background and following all the law was not enough for salvation.

I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. 21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” John 8:18-24 (ESV)

What one thing did the leaders need to believe to keep from dying in their sins? Remember, these people lived and breathed the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). They followed all the laws. They were the “super religious”. But yet, Jesus said they would die in their sins if they didn’t believe that He was Messiah.

Just in case you don’t know what “sin” is J, let’s look at specific examples of unrighteousness that the Bible clearly says will keep us from inheriting the Kingdom of God.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:9-11 (ESV)

22 June 2012

Your Relationship With God - 22 June

Have you found an accountability partner: someone to walk with you as you struggle with the sins in your life?  If you need someone to walk beside you, email me or talk to a pastor. We’ll help you find that person who will challenge you to walk the way Christ demands.

The Bible is filled with sinners. We see stories of rape, murder, theft, lying, adultery and more. Yet even those sinners had the opportunity to be saved. Some of the “worst” sinners were later called faithful and a man after God’s heart. So we know that it doesn’t matter what kinds of sin we’ve committed – God is willing and able to save us.

20 June 2012

Your Relationship With God - 20 June

When you think of Christians, what image comes to your mind? Two-faced hypocrites who do one thing on Sunday and another the remainder of the week? People who want to help the less fortunate? Saints who are perfect? Something in the middle? Do we as Christians help or hinder society’s perceptions? As a Christian, do you let people know that you still sin, still make mistakes? Or do you seem “holier than thou” to those you associate with? Your relationship with the Father and your behavior as a Christian will either help or hinder the Kingdom of God.

18 June 2012

Your Relationship With God - 18 June

Welcome to our new study. This study is for everyone who breathes! If you are a Christian, you will learn more about your relationship with the living God. You will learn why Jesus needed to come. You’ll see that only He can take away sins. If you’ve not accepted God’s free gift, you will find out more about His everlasting love for you.

I’ve been burdened lately about our relationships with God. You see so many “versions” or definitions of Christianity, but what’s right? Can we just pray a prayer with a pastor and be saved? Is that REALLY all there is to it? Or is this salvation thing more than insurance against going to hell? Is God a big “eye in the sky”, waiting for us to do something wrong, or is it possible that we can have a relationship with Him – talking to Him, listening to Him, and being guided by Him?

15 June 2012

Victorious Living - 15 June

We’re at the last day of the study. Let’s finish strong and listen to Paul as he tells us how to keep our minds focused on God.

I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?  1 Cor 4:16-21 (ESV)

13 June 2012

Victorious Living - 13 June

On Monday we listened as God promised to fight the battle for Jehoshaphat. He even told Jehoshaphat how the other side would wage their campaign. Let’s see what happens next.

11 June 2012

Victorious Living - 11 June

We’ve come to the last week of another study. We’ve learned a lot about living through adversity and we’ve seen plenty of Bible characters who give us examples. This week we begin with a new character – King Jehoshaphat. He definitely had bad news before his morning coffee! He was afraid, and his first response was to fast and pray.

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all

08 June 2012

Victorious Living - 08 June

Have you testified to God’s goodness? I’m sure He has done something that is worth talking about. Please don’t be afraid to share, especially with those who don’t know Christ.

As a reminder, nothing happens without God’s approval. Nothing. His plan can’t be frustrated, and as Christ’s suffering enhanced God’s kingdom, so will ours.

The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” Isaiah 14:24 (ESV)

06 June 2012

Victorious Living - 06 June

What’s a banner? In military terms, it’s a flag that identifies each unit and allows the troops to find and rally around the carrier/leader. In Exodus 17, Moses held up the staff of God during a battle with the Amalekites. When the staff was held high, Israel won. After the battle, Moses created an altar called Jehovah Nissi, or The Lord My Banner. Run to the banner in difficult times. God is there to see you through your battles.

04 June 2012

Victorious Living - 04 June

Are you in control of your life? Or are you overwhelmed by circumstances? Perhaps you feel just fine now, but you can look back to a time when your world was spinning out of control. Did you turn to friends? Drink or drugs? Or did you turn to God?

Jesus shared our pains. He was a real man living in a real world. Although He probably didn’t have the same types of problems we do, we know that He suffered His share. At one point He was run out of a temple. People wanted to throw Him off a cliff. His closest friends betrayed Him. He hung humiliatingly on a cross. Yep, Jesus knew. Here’s something He said that should give us comfort.

01 June 2012

Victorious Living - 01 Jun

Have you discovered ways that trials have secretly (or openly) stretched and added to your faith? In what other way could your faith be strengthened as easily?

When I’m going through a trial, my faith in God is sometimes “I have faith that You know what You’re doing”. Sometimes it’s “I have NO faith right now, but I’m going to give thanks in everything, because You told me to”. Either way, once the trial is over, I can look back and see God’s gracious hand in whatever has occurred.

The Apostle Paul discussed faith a lot. He also spent lots of time reminding us that we are all sinners in need of God’s salvation, and that salvation is found only through Christ Jesus. At one point, he connected the two with a “therefore”.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)

We are to rejoice in our trials! What are we promised when we become believers? The peace of God which passes all understanding. Paul tells us that we are to rejoice because trials bring good things to us: endurance, character, and hope. All of these character traits won’t disappoint us, even if we feel overwhelmed, because God has promised us His love!

See that big “in”? Small word with a big meaning. Here it’s translated from the Greek – en ­­– which means to “remain in place or rest in”. What this tells us is that during a trial, we aren’t supposed to try to work our way out. We are supposed to be at rest. How hard is THAT? For me it’s really tough. We obtain the grace to persevere from the inner strength that God gives us when we are still and wait on the Holy Spirit.

Is waiting a natural part of your reaction to stressful situations? For most it isn’t. I am going through a large trial right now. It seems that every time I think things are getting better, something else goes wrong. One of my friends always asks what I’m going to do. I tell her that I am going to wait and pray. Although what I want to do might be running around like a headless chicken, I know that the right thing to do is to wait, give thanks in everything, and see what lesson or point God is making through the trial. I don’t always get it right, but every trial brings me closer to contentment in waiting!

If you aren’t sure what to do, you can always turn to James 1.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8 (ESV)

When we don’t know what to do, we should turn to God in prayer, having faith that He knows the answer. We know that God is bigger than any problem. Sometimes we doubt. When we look a problem squarely and then wait, we can calm down, think rationally and go from disbelief and doubt to total trust. Read the text again and think of the promises God makes to the person who doubts. I like the non-doubting promises much better!

There is a verse frequently used to help us avoid temptation. Did you know that peirasmos, used in James 1:2 (studied earlier this week), can mean “temptation, trial, or blessing”? Neither temptation, trial, or blessing is a sin. Our response to the temptation, trial or blessing is what makes the choice one of obedience or disobedience.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Cor 10:13 (ESV)

When I read this verse and I think of Job, my response is usually two edged. First, I think, “ooohhhhh, let me be so strong that God can give me a trial like his.” My next response is, “Are you NUTS? Seriously. You want THAT kind of trial?” Does this verse make ready to accept more trials, knowing that even in the storm God is aware of how far you can be stretched? Don’t be complacent, though, because He won’t let the TEMPTATION or TRIAL go beyond your ability to deal with it, but He allows you to make the choice as to how you will respond to the temptation or trial. And when we think about blessings, the principle is the same. God won’t give us more blessing than we can handle either. Suppose God gave you a bag with a million bucks inside. That would be great, right? Could you use it to His glory, or would you be like most people who receive a windfall and lose it, and more, within a few years? Can you honestly say that God could bless you with a million dollars? I know that I would have great intentions, but I’m not sure that I could stick with those intentions long term. And that, friends, is why I am not a bazillionaire. God knows I couldn’t handle it. And even though it’s fun to think about that money, I know that it will not be a part of my life for the foreseeable future – and I am content. Can you join Paul in saying:

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Phil 4:12-13 (ESV)

We usually memorize the last sentence, but in the context of the paragraph, it takes on a deeper meaning!

I pray that you will reflect on Paul’s words and take them to heart. Whether you have a great job or no job, whether you are single or married or widowed, whether you have fancy cars or a beat up bicycle, you can do everything through Christ. Be content, friends. God knows what He’s doing, and He has you in the palm of His hand.

See you next week.