Looking Ahead into the New Year…

Biblical Prayer, Essentials, Start Here, Woman of the Word

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Hello again! Here we find ourselves at the close of another year and looking ahead to the next. So much, I am sure, has transpired in your life this past year, whether good or bad, it has been used to get you to this point in your Christian journey. Looking back on my own life, the trials and blessings that took place in 2018 were not something I ever would have chosen for myself or for those around me, but I give all glory to God for His wisdom and foresight into what is necessary in fashioning me after His design.

As we begin our lives in 2019, let’s take a moment to reflect on where we are at in our relationship with the Lord and what we would like to see happen, or be different in our lives. Personally, I would love to know what God’s vision is for my life and what He is calling of me to do at this particular moment before I proceed to make my own “resolutions”.

In church yesterday, our pastor spoke on Revelation 3:14-22 which Jesus addresses the church of Laodicia. He spoke about having the Lord anoint our eyes with His eye salve to give us His vision for the New Year. This was so encouraging to me, and I sure to many of those in attendance. And yet, it left me wondering if, will God truly give us a vision for the future? What happens when it seems like I only have a small task to accomplish, does that mean God is displeased with me? Why doesn’t God give us the complete picture for our lives all at once?

The beautiful thing about our Lord is He is faithfulness to minister to His children and to reveal His will and plan to us if we are, not only willing to hear Him, but to obey Him as well! This morning in my personal devotions (going through a new “read the Bible in a year” plan) I was in the book of Joshua chapters 1-5, where God is leading Joshua to become the new leader of the Israelites. The passage in Chapter 1, where the Lord encourages Joshua to not be afraid and be of good courage three times. He promises to never leave nor forsake him (Joshua 1:5), and that he must meditate on the Word of God day and night that he would be able to observe to do all that is commanded in it (verse 7). This is the same promise we have as the church today, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6)  With this incredible promise, we can proceed in our walk with the Lord with such confidence in God’s faithfulness and His promise to be with us as we seek to please Him by reading and obeying His Word.

After this promise was given to Joshua, God commanded him to do some pretty radical things in bring the Israelites into the Promised Land. What the Lord brought to my mind this morning as I was reading and praying, was that God only revealed each subsequent step of His plan to Joshua only after he obeyed the first command given to him. We read in Chapter 1 verses 10 through 16, Joshua making plans to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. He addresses the three tribes who were given the land, the Ruebenites, the Gadites and half the tribe of Manassah,  on that side of the Jordan, to go to battle with their fellow Israelites to help them possess the land on the other side of the river. I love the passage in verse 16 where, after the three tribes agree to go with them and as they do, they remind Joshua to be strong and of good courage, thus repeating God’s command He gave to Joshua in Chapter 1.  He served under Moses as he led the Israelites out of their bondage to Egypt, and saw the many miracles performed through Moses. Now, Joshua is faced with leading these people into the Promised Land, after his leader and mentor had passed on from this life. I am sure Joshua was grieving the loss of his teacher, and wondering what the Lord had in mind for him and his people.

The passing of another year reminds us of where we were, the things we learned and the failings of our flesh, and looking ahead to the unknown. It is important to not get stuck in the past,  but to look on to the future with the assurance of God’s presence in our lives.  Much like Joshua could have been stuck looking to his past and how much better things were when Moses was there. The pressure of performing wasn’t there and he could trust Moses to make the tough decisions. We need to not remain in our current state in our walk with the Lord. Our goal should be growth, to not be the same person we were the year before, and embrace the calling placed on our lives for this season.

Joshua faced many uncertainties, as he looked ahead and saw the insurmountable obstacles that were in his way. Instead of focusing on the things around him, he began his new ministry with obedience and reliance on the Lord, a recipe for success for any believer. He began the preparations for crossing over the Jordan River even though he didn’t know how the Lord would do get them across.  Two spies were sent out to search out the city of Jericho directly on the other side of the river, and were sovereignly protected by the Lord through the harlot, Rahab. While they were there, they heard of the terror that the people of Jericho had towards the Israelites,  and knew of the miracles performed by God on their behalf. (Joshua 2:9-11) When the spies returned to Joshua with their report, I’m sure it bought comfort to him.

The Bible tells us in Chapter 3 verse 1, that Joshua rose early in the morning to prepare the people to cross over the Jordan, no delaying, but acting swiftly and doing all that God commanded him to do. After Joshua prepared to cross, the Lord spoke to him again, promising to exalt him in the sight of Israel as Moses had been, but only after the Levites took up the ark and stood in the Jordan. What would have happened in Joshua complained and questioned God’s method? “God, how are we going to get across? What about the cities on the other side? Aren’t You going to tell me what I need to do?” How often do we question God and fail to take Him at His Word? I know I do more than I’d like to admit.

Is there a “river” that you need to cross in your walk as a believer?  Are struggling to obey Him? Are there fortified cities of depression, fear, or anger standing in your way even after you cross over that prevents you from proceeding? I challenge you dear sister or brother, to step out into the unknown, into that river, and only then will you be given the next set of directions from the Lord. Once the Levites, with the ark of the Lord, stepped into the Jordan, the waters were cut off from their source and the people were able to cross over on dry ground (Joshua 3:15-17), a truly amazing feat made possible only by our Lord.

After this, we find God speaking to Joshua again. He commanded him to gather 12 leaders from the tribes to collect 12 stones, and set them up as a memorial for future generations of God’s faithfulness. They were to tell their children of how the waters of the Jordan stood still and the people crossed on dry ground (Joshua 4:1-7).  Let’s think of a way we can apply this to our lives today.  Let’s think of these 12 stones as the 12 months of the year and that you could write down the blessings in your own life and set them us as a reminder. These 12 stones, or months in our case, served a great purpose in not only the lives of those setting them up but also for the generation’s to come.  These memorials are also called “Ebenezer stones” referenced in 1 Samuel 7:12, “And Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Jehovah has helped us now.”.  It is essential for us, who know the Lord, to have reminders for ourselves of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Let’s be laying the groundwork for spiritual success for this next generation through encouragement and prayer. Otherwise, they will be getting their purpose and vision from the world and the enemy of our faith.

For this coming year, my friend,  I pray that you would be obedient to the task or tasks the Lord is calling you to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to you, to trust the natur eand goodness of our Heavenly Father (Proverbs 3:5-6)  It is often only after we step out in faith that the Lord reveals the next part of His plan to us! Let us also pray that the Lord would show us the Ebenezer stones He would have us set up in our lives as a memorial of God’s love and faithfulness to us each month of this coming year.

God bless you in this new year and in your relationship with the Lord. Let us make sure we fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith and not be pulled to the right or to the left, for when we do, we will find rest for our souls and success in our lives.

 

 

Why Do We have Suffering?

Essentials, Woman of the Word

pexels-photo-247314It has been a while since I have posted an entry on the Blog due to many different reasons in my life. Nevertheless, I am glad to be back writing again and pray it glorifies the Lord, and is encouraging to those who take the time to read about today’s topic.

Suffering… not a popular topic for us as Christians, or even as humans in general.  Who wants to feel pain, whether physically, emotional or mentally? I know for myself I don’t! So why does the Lord over and over in the Bible, reference “suffering” and its necessity in our world? If the Lord chooses to mention something more than once, we should make the effort to look into the topic and become well acquainted with its purpose and  context.

In the Book of Exodus, we see the intense suffering of the Israelite nation, under the yoke of slavery in Egypt due to Pharaoh’s fear of their ever increasing population. He sought to enslave them to bring them under subjection, and in turn, reduce their numbers and their strength. But in Exodus 1:12 we read, “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites, ”  According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, it says in times of affliction we often see the most church growth, “Being pressed ,it grows.” Christianity, indeed, spreads the most when it’s persecuted, and we will see this demonstrated beautifully in the New Testament in the book of Acts. The Lord hears and sees the intense pain and suffering His people are enduring under Pharaoh, and as a result, He raises up a deliverer for His people in Moses.

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down the rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” [Exodus 3:7-8] Let’s look at this passage in light of our present day state as people in the world. If we are content in our current state of sinfulness, and there is never any pain or suffering,  would we ever know that we are dead in our trespasses and sins?  God has something infinitely greater for us than this present world, a relationship with the Creator of the universe and an eternal dwelling place, without pain, fear or suffering in Heaven with Him.

For as Christians,  “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” [Philippians 3:20]  If we have an easy life here on earth, wouldn’t we be content in our state of slavery to sin and the yoke of bondage it places on us?  There is truly something greater beyond this physical world in which we are living in.  The Lord is removing the world’s influence over us and is preparing for us something far greater than this existence. We, once we accept Christ, become the church, and will be united, like the Israelite nation, and follow Jesus, our present day example of Moses, to the promised land.  We find in Hebrews Chapter 8, that when Moses is commanded to build the Tabernacle, that he is commanded to be extremely careful to follow all the details laid out by the Lord. The Tabernacle would serve as an example, or shadow, of what exists for us in Heaven.   If you read about the beauty of the Tabernacle as described in Exodus Chapter 25 through 30, you can see the intense detail with which God desires Moses to fashion the Tabernacle after.

Let us consider this idea of a shadow. How much is a shadow a representation of the object creating it? We only get the outline of it typically, and any holes that might be present where light might shine through. Unfortunately, the actual beauty is lost for us when we only see the shadow, but it does serve a purpose in giving a context of what we are observing. I can tell that a person is casting a particular shadow, or the general shape of the object blocking the light.  We can see that even Moses himself was a shadow of the true Deliverer, Jesus. Again we know that the Deliverer of the world would come in the form of a man, but He in every way was superior in all things. If Jesus far surpassed Moses, think how much greater our Heavenly home will be in comparison this decaying world we find ourselves in.

“But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to their as the covenant of which He is Mediator in superior to the old one, and is found on better promises.” [Hebrews 8: 6] What is this superior covenant? We only need to read a few verses further in chapter 8 in Hebrews! “ This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor. Or a brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” [Hebrews 8:10-12] I don’t know about you, but this passage is so comforting to me as a believer. God is no longer a distant Entity that I must worship and follow, but He becomes a personal Father, welcoming me into His family through the shedding of Jesus innocent blood. Jesus entered the Most Holy Place, covered in His own blood, shed as an offering to obtain an eternal redemption. “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, “ [Hebrews 9:22] Unlike, in the Old Testament, with Moses where the sacrifice needed  to be continually made for the sins committed by the people, Jesus made His sacrifice once and for all made in the true Tabernacle, Heaven, in the presence of God.

The sacrifice of Jesus is perfect and met all the requirements of the law. If we are children of God, confessing our sins before Him and accepting Jesus as our Savior, we are no longer slaves to sin, under the bondage of this world and its system. Jesus is leading us to the “land flowing with milk and honey,” our blessed future in Heaven.

I pray as you read this dear brother or sister that you are encouraged and are strengthened in your faith. In the next post, I hope to touch on the topic of suffering in the life of the Believer. God bless you and keep you, and make His face shine upon you and bring you peace.

 

 

 

Beware of Your Love for Others Growing Cold

Essentials, Woman of the Word

black-and-white-cold-fog-235621“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12,13) (emphasis added is mine)

This verse jumped off the pages of my Bible this morning as I was having my precious quiet time. I was awoken early by my “littles,” ages nearly 3 and 11 months, who decided they were ready to greet the day at 4:00 am (which is turning out to be their favorite time to start their morning). The thought of beginning my time in the Word was not met with my usual enthusiasm,  so, to me, was an indication that it was much needed today.

Last night, I was plagued by a disturbing dream, that stole into my normally quiet morning, and left me feeling confused and uncomfortable.  It involved some unpleasant topics and situations that I don’t wish to elaborate on, but I will say it deals with a certain sins that have grown more and more prevalent in our society, and that I find myself  struggling to respond to them in a Christ-like manner.  Needless to say, it left me praying for wisdom and created an incredible need to have the Lord bring peace and wisdom.

We are living in the last days, my dear friend, and it is causing deep divides in our current culture, as well as in the church.  It has caused some of us to camp out in one “group,” and has us alienate those who are not at the same place in their spiritual walks. Given this dark climate that, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20, we tend to isolate ourselves more and more from those around us.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think we should guard ourselves from the evils that are so prevalent in our world; “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) but I don’t think this means we are to live completely separate lives from those around us.

For there are those that are in desperate need of the Gospel, and those sisters and brothers in Christ who are currently being deceived by the enemy and/or are hurting. We have a responsibility, as the church, to be the hands and feet of God (such a privileged calling) to this lost and dying world.

 

Too often, we, as Christians, find ourselves pulling back from ministering to those around us because of certain sins we see happening. These sins can be so subtle that maybe, the person isn’t even aware of them taking place, or it could be some a sin that is much more obvious. Whether it is a secret sin, or one that is out in the open, both of these types of sins are equally damaging. God sees sin all the same and just as destructive. There, however, a differentiation of certain sins in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” The Bible calls our body “the temple of the Holy Spirit” and, for this reason, we should honor our bodies and obstain from such sins.

There is only one sin that He says is unforgivable. In Luke 12:10, “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” This is blatant opposition to the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit. What marks the life of a believer is the fact that they don’t live a life of habitual sin (committing the same sinful act, even after being shown by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word that is in opposition to God). There is times of conviction (a true sorrow for their actions), asking for forgiveness from the Lord, and repentance (a physical and mental turning away from whatever sin that has taken root in their lives).

There can be extremes in a Christian’s life, where he or she can call a particular sin more “evil” than another. This biased approach can cause deep divisions and pain to those struggling with these particular sins.  I do realize that my issue here is only having had a disturbing dream, but through this,  I was able to come to the Lord in prayer and His Word and allow Him to bring about change in my mind and heart. He revealed areas where I need to be more like Him. We need to be reminded, that there are those who may live in a real “nightmare.” Lord, please forgive me for my lack of love and compassion towards others.  I need to continually pray to be sympathetic, and to not react with coldness in my heart towards those struggling with particular sins. Please be aware I said, “struggling,” not giving into the sin and making it how they define themselves or defend their sinful practices.

We are all sinners in need of the saving grace of Jesus, and the cleansing power of His blood. The thought that we are somehow “better” than another believer because we don’t struggle with a certain sin is not at all a reflection of God’s heart. “For by the grace given to me [Paul] I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3 Another verse to consider is Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one anther in love.”

Dear sister or brother in Christ, be careful of isolating yourself in a certain mindset that alienates those in the body of Christ. In these last days, we need to be vigilant against attacks from the enemy, but also praying for love and compassion towards those who are struggling… ” to live a life worthy of the calling you [we] have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) I love this passage because it keeps me humble in my approach to others. Our salvation is a costly gift paid for by the precious blood of Jesus. Please pray for love for those around you desiring to live godly lives. That may need some extra prayer and encouragement to stay the course.

I need to emphasis to you that with this call to love and show compassion, this by no means should effect our living by the Word of God. We are called,” ‘Be holy, for I [God} am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) and 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit.” If there are those among us, living a life of habitual sin, and this person has been lovingly approached and spoken to according to Matthew 18:15-17, and still insists on rebelling, distance yourself from them. According to Galatians 6:1, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”  You most certainly need to continue to pray for them, but you must let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and transforming of their lives.  For He alone has the power to do so! Prayer can be so effective in dealing with all things that we face in this life.

Overview of Today’s Discussion:

  1. No sin is more evil than another, except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10)
  2. Be soberly minded in these last days (Romans 12:3)
  3. Beware of alienating certain believers that struggle with a particular sin (“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8) The devil would like nothing more than to pick off a believer who is weak and has been abandoned.
  4. We must be holy as God is holy and not compromise on the truths of the Bible (1 Peter 1:16)
  5. We need to pray that our love for others doesn’t grow cold in these last days and our desire to live lives for the glory of God.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to go to God’s Word and I pray that you are somehow encouraged, and can begin to embrace your calling as believers.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Until next time, God bless, and I pray you continue to grow as a child of God.

 

How to have a Personal Bible Time

Woman of the Word

Good morning! I’m so happy you have chosen to stop by and take part in our discussion today! This topic is one that is near and dear to my heart. For those of us that grew up attending church, we heard how important reading our Bible was. I was one of these children, but unfortunately I never really knew the reason it was so encouraged. It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that the Lord really had gotten a hold of my mind and heart and impressed upon me the need for this daily ritual.

I was gifted a beautiful red leather bound Life Application Study Bible in 2003 by my mother and it would forever change my life! This became the tool that the Lord used in my spiritual life to grow me year after year. I lovingly highlighted important passages and wrote in the margins thought provoking ideas and convictions. The desire for His Word was placed in me by His Holy Spirit and an understanding and wisdom of what the verses meant and how to apply them to my life.

Now as a mother and wife, I find my time before my family awakens for the day my most sacred time, as I quiet myself and dive into the timeless truths in the Bible. I definitely have had seasons of my life when spending any length of time in the Word was a chore (pregnant, newborn stage, sick etc.) but effort needs to be put in to make sure we are being spiritually fed. In Matthew 4:4, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” If we want to be spiritually healthy, we will put forth the effort needed to maintain our diet of the Word of God. It is really that simple!  We can have seasons where we might only get to a few verses, but these precious morsels will sustain you through the difficulties of life.  Please consider this statement made by David when he was commanded to buy the threshing floor from Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:18-25. In verse 24, after Araunah offered to give the property to David for free, David says, “‘No!’ the king replied to Araunah. ‘I will buy them from you at full price. I won’t offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  

It is often a sacrifice reading the Bible, whether it’s our time, energy, focus etc. We know we are to tithe to the Lord 10% of our monetary gain, but what about our time? He deserves this sacrifice from us, but, trust me, the blessings far outweigh any effort put forth by us.

In light of all of these reasons to have Bible time, let’s look at several approaches to this essential time in the Bible.

fullsizeoutput_c1e.jpeg2018 products used by Jennifer Christine in her personal Bible time: Tyndale Chronological Bible Bible Travel JournalMicron Pigma Black Pen 02, and Staples Hype! Liquid Highlighters (My absolute favorite highlighters).

Here is an example of my current years Bible time tools, and I am having so much fun! This lovely Bible was a gift from my dear mother-in-law. I have been able, by God’s grace, to keep up with the daily readings. There were times in my personal life that mirrored where I was in Scripture, and I knew that was no coincidence. God’s Word is alive and life changing!!

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(Here is a quick peek inside the Chronological Bible and today’s reading. I added a few highlighted areas I wanted to remember.)

What I like about this version is how it currently has all of the gospels lined up in the same reading so I can see each disciple’s viewpoint of when they were inspired by the Lord to write these books. This layout has helped me to keep mostly consistent with my daily readings.

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(Another view of the lovely cover!)

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Another key aspect of my Bible time is writing in my journal. This year I haven’t been as consistent with writing in this due to the fact I have been working on having a more active prayer life. I have started my version of a “War Binder,” inspired by the movie, “War Room,” and from some amazing posts on Pinterest. Journaling during your Bible time may or may not be something that you desire to incorporate, and that is totally fine. I think it also depends on your personality and how you study.

The butterfly covered Travel Journal is my prayer journal (aka my “War Binder”). I am going to dive into that in more detail when I do my next blog on “Biblical Prayer”

I hope this little glimpse into my personal Bible Time has inspired you to either start one or to continue in your journey with the Lord in His Word. The next blog post on Bible time will be using an example from a friend’s quiet time who has a different approach to studying the Bible but by no means is it less than my own.

God bless you on your journey of seeking truth.

What is Essential in the Life of the Believer: Part 2

Biblical Prayer, Essentials

fullsizeoutput_253In order to grow as a Believer (aka Biblical Christian), we read in “What is Essential in the life of the Believer ? Part 1” the Word of God is required.  In reading the Bible we are hearing directly from the Lord on daily living and how to keep ourselves pure in these dark days.

What else is an essential in our lives to have a well-balanced walk?

The next topic we will dive into is that of prayer. Unfortunately, today there are many abuses of prayer and how to pray. Some new terms we are hearing such as “contemplative prayer”or “centering prayer,” “IHOP (International House of Prayer),” “breath prayers,” etc., seem like they are of God. However, when you look deeper into these practices, you find that they are far from what biblical prayer looks like. If we agree that the Bible is the ultimate authority, we need to look to it alone for our standard. Let’s look at several verses dealing with prayer in the Bible and pray that we come to the conclusion of why prayer is essential in our life and how to avoid these pagan type religious acts.

Luke 11: 1-4: “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’. So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say,’ Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This is one of the most famous passages in the Bible addressing prayer by Jesus. We are given this template for our prayers where we are to approach our Holy God with the fear and reverence as He alone deserves. By using this model, we see that the main purpose in our prayers is having God’s will done here on Earth and not our own.

So often we desire God to act according to our plans or timing which goes against the reason prayer is needed in the believer’s life. 1 John 5:14: “Now we have this confidence that we have in Him, that is we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

Prayer needs to be continual to keep us from falling away. Ephesians 6:18: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  Matthew 26:41,  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17 serves as a further example of what biblical prayer looks like. Jesus prayed that His Father’s will would be done and that He would be glorified in Jesus ultimate act of love, dying on the cross. He prayed for His disciples and that God would keep them as He was getting ready to pass from this life. Jesus also prayed for those who were yet to know Him, that is you and I. His selfless life that He lived here is such an amazing display of love.  In Luke 5:16, we learn about one of the secrets of Jesus success here on earth, “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” It was this continual communication with the Father that allowed Him to be so affective here on earth for God. If Jesus, part of the triune God, needed to be in constant prayer with the Father, how much more is it necessary for us?

We have talked a little on what prayer should look like, but now let’s discuss the ways the Lord says we are not to pray. Some people like to be seen as “holy” or want to be seen more religious than others, so they make a point to pray only when they have an ” audience.” In Matthew 6:5-8 we read,  “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” I don’t believe this means that we are forbidden from praying in public as Jesus Himself would pray in public (John 11:41-42 at the raising of Lazarus from the dead). The real issue here is the heart we have when we approach praying. Are we seeking to be seen and promote our own name in the eyes of men, or are we seeking to elevate the name of God and bring all people to Him?

I think it’s important that we discuss for a little bit about contemplative prayer and why it is unbiblical. The practice of contemplative prayer begins with “centering prayer,” a meditative practice where the person praying focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. This mirrors the eastern practice of using a mantra to clear your mind of any distractions.  By doing this, it supposedly will enable the “prayer” to hear God more clearly.  After the centering prayer, the person praying, is to sit still, listen for direct guidance from God, and “feel” His presence. I must emphasis the “feeling” aspect here. That is the motivation, unfortunately, for some people that profess to be Christian but lack any solid foundation or have ever had a salvation experience.  As I had mentioned earlier, God doesn’t want us to use “vain repetitions” in our prayers as the pagans do (Matthew 6:7).

We need to exam ourselves and our motivation whenever we approach prayer.  Let’s do a quick rundown of all that we discussed about biblical prayer and why it is essential in our lives as believers.

Essential of Prayer Overview:

  1. Prayer is our direct line of communication with God (Proverbs 15:29, 2 Chronicles 6:21 ,Jeremiah 29:12)
  2. Prayer is to get God’s Will accomplished here on earth (1 John 5:14-15, James 4:3)
  3. It helps keep us from being anxious (Philippians 4:6-7, James 5:13)
  4. Prayer allows us to ask for forgiveness from the Lord in order to make us right with Him (2 Chronicles 7:14)
  5. It changes us to be more like Christ (Romans 12:2)
  6. Prayer is necessary in order for us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)
  7. It is necessary to keep us from being deceived (Matthew 26:41)

Thank you my dear sister in Christ for learning with me of why prayer is essential in the life of the believer. If you have any addition verses to add to this, please do so in the comment section! I look forward to you joining me on my “How to have a Bible Time” mini series. I am going to present you will several different approaches to having this precious time with the Lord, and I pray it will inspire you to either begin your Bible time or to encourage you in your time. God bless.

Salvation: God’s Incredible Gift

Start Here

Before we can even dive into topics of faith, the Bible, and the like, we need to deal with one very important topic. If you were to pass from this life this very momen,t where would you spend eternity? Do you know for a fact where your destiny lies? Or is it a topic you try to avoid like the plague?

The current state of the world, and things in it, are trending towards decay and sin. Sin is willful disobedience of God and going against His commands. We are born sinful beings.

The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10 “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no not one.'”  The result of this sin is a separation from God. We can no longer speak with/for God, for He can have no sin before Him.

Romans 3:23 ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Furthermore, the penalty for this sin in our lives is death. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”  But our story doesn’t stop there! Even while in this state of sinfulness and separation, God, realizing that we could never be holy as He is holy and would never be able to cleanse ourselves of the stench of sin, sent His Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to be made right with God. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”

In order for us to accept this gift we need to understand and confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” 

It’s that simple!! Remember it is a child-like faith that the Lord calls us to have. Romans 10:13, “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  

  1. Realize that we are sinners separated from God.
  2. Confess these sins to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness.
  3. Ask Jesus to come and live in their heart and make us to be like Him 

If you prayed and asked Jesus to forgive you and to come live in your heart, you are now saved! Welcome to the family of God. I am so happy to have you as a sister or brother in Christ. Please let me know if you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior,  so I can now pray for you and for your growth in your new life.

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Who is Jesus?

Start Here

The crux on which our life begins or ends in lies in one person: Jesus Christ. Who is this Jesus that is written about in the Bible? Why do I need to know about Him?

According to Flavius Josephus, a famous Jewish historian, in his Antiquities he refers to James, “The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”  One particular version reads, “At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” Josephus was not a believer in Jesus as Savior of the world, but he does help support the truth of Jesus actually being here on earth and confirming passages in the Bible pertaining to Him.

Who is Jesus according to the Bible?

  1. He has always existed, having no beginning; John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
  2. He was fully man: 1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes ,which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life”; John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
  3. He is fully God: Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ “; Matthew 28: 18, “And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given in heaven and on earth.”
  4. Jesus is the Son of God, one part of the Triune God: 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen,,” Matthew 3:16-17″ As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'” 
  5. Jesus is the only way to be saved from our sins and be guaranteed a place in Heaven: John 14:6, “Jesus said to him [Thomas], ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” , Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We now have an overview of who the Bible claims Jesus to be. It is difficult to deny that He did some wonderful acts while He was here on earth by healing the sick, raising the dead, and teaching us about the kingdom of God. If we are honest with ourselves, hearing someone declaring themselves to be God can be disarming. It would be didfficult to label Jesus just a good teacher for He on many occasions in the Bible referred to Himself as God. That would either make Him a liar, or just plain crazy!

I would challenge you dear one to search out these verses for yourself. Your very life depends on who you think Jesus is.  In the words of C.S. Lewis in regards to the person of Jesus in his book “Mere Christianity”, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Please continue onto my next blog post on “Salvation: God’s Incredible gift.”  Thank you again for taking time out of your busy lives to dive deeper into the truths in God’s Word and to learn more about the Lord we serve, Jesus Christ.

 

What is Essential in the life of the Believer: Part 1

Essentials, Woman of the Word

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey.

Our world is full of noise! We are bombarded on a daily basis with the news from all over the globe, social media posts, advertisements, the latest trends, and the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder a majority of us suffer from some level of anxiety.  Many of us want to “check out” of our lives from time to time, and our adversary, Satan, would love nothing more than for us to check out from our walks permanently.

How can we as believers in Jesus (if you are not sure what that means please reference my “Start Here” post) sift through the constant bombardment to find our true direction and the meaning of  our lives?

I don’t believe the Lord wanted our Christian lives to be complicated or confusing. He said in Matthew 18:3, “and said, ‘assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (NKJV). Jesus designed salvation to be understandable even to a child. It is important that we don’t deviate too far from this to continue to learn and grow in our faith.

So getting back to the initial question of “what is essential in the life of a believer,” we go to the Word of God. This is our guide and standard to live out our life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

1 Peter 2:2, “as newborn babes, desire pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby” (NKJV). For someone to grow, they need to be fed and fed continually. When a child first enters the world, their need for nutrients and care is essential to their survival. Without the care from a loving mature individual, they would fail to thrive. We as mothers have the incredible gift of having the ability to carry a child in our womb and be there from the moment they take their first breath. This precious little one, from the start, has an incredible hunger that demands their needs to be met.

We need to view our “spiritual birth” the same way. In order for us to grow and to be healthy, we need to take in our spiritual food. This food is the Word of God. Matthew 4:4, “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”‘” (NKJV).  Even further than that, the Word of God is Jesus Himself: John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NKJV). The Word of God is our daily food and in it we find truth.

Why we need the Word of God in our lives: 

  1. The Word of God is Jesus Himself  ( John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and John 6:48, “I am the Bread of Life”.)
  2. It washes us clean from sin (Ephesians 5:26, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word “)          
  3. God’s Word is Truth (Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgements endures forever”;  1 Timothy 2:3-4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” ) 
  4. For sanctification (1 Timothy 4:5 “…for it [every creature of God] is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer”)
  5. It gives us life and an eternal destination in Heaven (John 6:51, “I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”)
  6. It’s alive and is needed to cleanse things from our lives that are not of God!! (Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even the divisions of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”)

Based on these passages of Scripture (this is not an exhausted list), we can come to conclusion that it is impossible to maintain and grow in our relationship with Jesus apart from the Word. Stay tuned for the next part of our essentials in the life of the believer. Thank you so much for joining me, my dear sister in Christ. My prayer is that you grow in your faith, and if you do not have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that you will join in this spiritual family, this amazing gift of salvation.

“How to start a personal Bible time” blog post will be on its way soon!

***I encourage you as a child of God to search the Scriptures for yourselves. In Acts 17:10-11, we read of the Bereans who received the Word from Paul, the apostle, with readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to see if what was being taught to them was true. Please make sure that you pray for wisdom and discernment so that you will not be deceived by the opinions of man or of the enemy. God bless you on your own journey in this incredible gift of salvation from Jesus Christ our Lord.***

 

 

 

 

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”     Micah 6:8

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