Quiet Time

Bible Study

A quiet time is an intimate, face-to-face, heart-to-heart connection with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. It’s the time when you actually build your relationship with Jesus. Specifically, it is a time for you to get up every day and read the Bible and pray and get closer to Him.

A lot of people say to think to themselves: “I prayed a prayer, but I don’t feel closer to God; or I felt really close to God when I was at that retreat or camp, but now I don’t feel very close to Him.”

You’re not going to feel close to anybody if you’re not spending time with them.

If you were married and didn’t spend time with your spouse, the two of you would not grow any closer. Actually, you would move farther and farther apart.

A quiet time is an expression of your commitment to be a true follower of Christ. It’s as if you’re saying, “Lord, I’m going to make sure that I don’t accidentally get farther and farther away from You. In fact, I’m going to use this time to get closer and closer to You.

I’m going to use it as a time to get fed by You and to get filled up with You and to understand more of You.” Before you do anything else, start your day with God. Talk to Him, seek Him in His Word and pray through your day.

Make it your top priority.

Maybe you’ve never had a quiet time with God before. Start thinking about what kind of quiet time you want to have and where you want to have it.

Think about what time you need to get up in order to have enough time to read your Bible and pray before you start your day with the world.

Your personal relationship with God is the dynamite that it will take to affect this generation. You will begin to spread the gospel as your character becomes like Christ. This transformation process can only happen in direct relationship with Christ.

The more we know Jesus, and look like Him, the easier it will be to lead people to him.

by Ron Luce

Wisely Handling the Bible’s Wise Sayings

by R.C. Sproul

Every culture seems to have its own unique, collected wisdom, pithy insights of the wise. Oftentimes, these tidbits of wisdom are preserved in the form of the proverb. We have proverbial sayings in American culture. I am thinking of sayings such as “A stitch in time saves nine” or “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

The Bible, of course, has an entire book of such pithy sayings — the book of Proverbs. However, this compilation of proverbial wisdom is different from all other such collections in that these sayings reflect not just human wisdom but divine wisdom, for these proverbs are inspired by God.

Still, we must be very careful in how we approach and implement these wise sayings. Simply because they are inspired does not mean that the biblical proverbs are like laws, imposing a universal obligation. Yet, some people treat them as if they were divine commandments. If we regard them in that way, we run into all kinds of trouble. Even divinely inspired proverbs do not necessarily apply to all life situations. Rather, they reflect insights that are generally true.

To illustrate this point, let me remind you of two of our own culture’s proverbs. First, we often say, “Look before you leap.” That is a valuable insight. But we have another proverb that seems to contradict it: “He who hesitates is lost.” If we tried to apply both of these proverbs at the same time and in the same way in every situation, we would be thoroughly confused. In many situations, wisdom dictates that we examine carefully where we should place our steps next so that we are not moving blindly. At the same time, we cannot be so paralyzed in our evaluation of the pros and cons of our next move that we hesitate too long before making a decision and lose opportunities when they present themselves to us.

Naturally, it does not really bother us to find seemingly contradictory proverbs in our own cultural wisdom. But when we discover them in the Bible, we find ourselves wrestling with questions about the trustworthiness of Scripture. Let me cite one well-known example. The book of Proverbs says, “Answer not a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4). Then, in the very next verse, we read, “Answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:5). How can we follow these opposite instructions? How can both be statements of wisdom?

Again, just as in the example I gave above, the answer depends on the situation. There are certain circumstances when it is not wise to answer a fool according to his folly, but there are other circumstances when it is wise to answer a fool according to his folly. Proverbs 26:4 says, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (emphasis added). If someone is speaking foolishness, it is generally not wise to try to talk to him. Such a discussion will go nowhere, and the one who tries to carry on the discussion with the fool is in danger of falling into the same foolishness. In other words, there are circumstances when we are better off saying nothing.

At other times, however, it can be helpful to answer a fool according to his folly. Proverbs 26:5says, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (emphasis added). Although it was made an art form by the ancient Greek philosophers, the Hebrews understood and in biblical teaching sometimes used one of the most effective ways of arguing with another person. I am referring to the reductio ad absurdum, which reduces the other person’s argument to absurdity. By means of this technique, it is possible to show a person the necessary, logical conclusion that flows out of his argument, and so demonstrate that his premises lead ultimately to an absurd conclusion. So, when a person has a foolish premise and gives a foolish argument, it can at times be very effective to answer the fool according to his folly. You step over onto his territory and say, “Okay, I’ll take your position for argument’s sake, and I’m going to take it to its logical conclusion and show you the foolishness of it.”

So, the book of Proverbs is concerned to give us practical guidelines for daily experience. It is a neglected t treasure of the Old Testament, with untold riches lying in wait in its pages to guide our lives. It holds real, concrete advice that comes from the mind of God Himself. If we want wisdom, this is the fountain from which to drink. He who is foolish will neglect this fountain. He who is hungry for God’s wisdom will drink deeply from it. We need to listen to the wisdom of God so that we can cut through the many distractions and confusions of modern life. But, as with the entirety of the Word of God, we need to be zealous to learn how to handle the book of Proverbs properly.

 

Evidence of Real Change

Focus Verse of the Week

“If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver, 2 and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” 3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” (Jeremiah 4:1-4)

Classic Commentary

In Jeremiah and Deuteronomy 30:6, we find the spiritual significance of circumcision. A prophet like Jeremiah was not likely to attach much importance to an external act like circumcision. He bluntly tells his countrymen that they are no better than Egyptians, Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites. They are uncircumcised in heart. Paul uses the term concision for this outward circumcision unaccompanied by any spiritual change (Philippians 3:2). The question of circumcision occasioned a protracted strife among the early Christians. Judaizing Christians argued for the necessity of circumcision. It was a reminiscence of the unrelenting particularism which had sprung up during the prolonged oppression of the Greek and Roman period. According to their view salvation was of the Jews and for the Jews. It was necessary to become a Jew in order to become a Christian. Paul consented to circumcision in the case of Timothy “because of the Jews” (Acts 16:3). But he saw that a principle was at stake and in most of his epistles he points out the sheer futility of the contention of the Judaizers.

(Adapted from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.)

A Thought to Keep

Outward forms of faith do not impress God if there’s no evidence of a changed, repentant heart. Examine yourself to see where you stand.

 

Social Netchurch

The internet is something we all use and enjoy, but are we using it too much, or not enough at all?

I hear so many people rebel against social websites because they claim, “It distracts them from God” or, “It’s just too worldly.” I know this might sound odd, but I want people to start re-thinking their decisions.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I understand their reasoning to boycott these cultural habits, but shouldn’t their reasoning to leave give them an even bigger reason to stay?

We as Christians continuously talk about being a light to the world, an example of Christ, and a reflection of His Hope. So, if the internet is something you claim distracts people from God, then how about you be the difference and make it a place that attracts people to GOD.

Let’s be a generation that TAKES BACK the internet and social media for the Good of Christ, using them to share His LOVE and HOPE.

Use your social networks for Gospel good works. We are called to tweet, post, pin, tumbl and digg all in the name of Christ.

Social Tips:

1. Be consistent. (Keep your posts fresh, and up to date. Don’t let your platform get dry. You never know who you’re reaching.)

2. Be honest. (Don’t try to be someone you’re not. People will call your bluff. Honesty is the greatest of leaders!)

3. Be creative. (Think outside the box.You never know until you try! Pictures and videos are a great way to increase engagement.)

4. Give God The Glory. (If you’re not glorifying him, you’re glorifying yourself.)

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How are you using your social networks to share the love of Christ? Leave your comments below. 

– Jarrid Wilson

 

Hardship and Opportunity

By Ed Welch

“What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about conflict?”

Ken Sande asked this question at a conference I attended. He could have asked “what is the first thing” or “what are the first fifty things.” For me, the answers would all be variations on the same theme. I hate conflict; I want to run from it. The “things” that come to my mind about conflict are: hate, loathe and avoid.
Then he asked, “How many people thought “opportunity?”
Not me. Not in a million years, even if I could cheat by consulting a dictionary or Wikipedia. To me, conflict is misery—not an opportunity. But the word opportunity is gradually sinking in because it is crammed with prominent themes from Scripture.
Think about this:
Start with how our God—our Father—sovereignly reigns.
      No detail is random and haphazard.
Add that he will accomplish his good purposes.
      He will make us more and more like Jesus.
Now add hardships.
      Our sufferings have new meaning since the cross.
What you get is opportunity.
Since God is sovereign and has good purposes, hardships are opportunities. They must be.
Many people have already learned this. Here is what some of them have said.
That “C” on the exam—is an opportunity to live by faith in Jesus rather than in my perceived successes.
That hard marriage—is an opportunity to love as I have been loved.
That miscarriage—is an opportunity to know that my Father has unlimited compassion for his children and I can trust him.
That cancer—(and this is really a hard one) is an opportunity to die well and show my children what it means to live and die by faith.
And we could go on. That traffic ticket, that car accident, that lost job, that plumbing problem, that neighbor . . . . how different life would be if we snuck in an “opportunity” or two each day.
Joseph understood. “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). His time in an Egyptian prison was an opportunity.
Paul understood too. “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 2:9). His near death experiences were the perfect opportunity. You can almost hear him say, “These are just what I needed.”
There is no stiff upper lip in these opportunities. Hardships can be so painful, and our Father certainly encourages us to speak of those hardships to him. But opportunity says that hardships, for God’s children, never come without hope. And, with practice, we can discover that hope carries the most weight.

 

The Root of Bitterness

Unhappy couple sitting on couch silently after argument

The enemy of our souls has a very specific strategy to destroy relationships. Whether these relationships are in business, marriage or friendships, the strategy is the same.

A conflict arises, judgments are made, and feelings are hurt. What happens next is the defining point of whether the enemy gains a foothold, or the grace of God covers the wrong.

When a root of bitterness is allowed to be planted and grown, it not only affects that person, but it also affects all others who are involved. It is like a cancer.

Breaking satan’s foothold requires at least one person to press into God’s grace. It cannot happen when either party “feels” like it, for none of us will ever feel like forgiving.

None of us feel like talking when we have been hurt. Our natural response is to withdraw or lash out at the offending party.

It is only obedience that allows God’s grace to cover the wrongs incurred. This grace prevents the parties from becoming victims who will seek compensation for their pain.

The next time you are hurt by someone, realize the gravity of the crossroads where you find yourself.

Choose grace instead of bitterness.

Then you will be free to move past the hurt, and a root of bitterness will not be given opportunity to grow.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

by Os Hillman

Not Just Washed

Focus Verse of the Week

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7) 

Classic Commentary

The apostle gives a grievous summary of the characteristics of man after the flesh—which we once were. Sin was foolishness, was disobedience; the sinner was deceived, was the slave of lusts, filled with malice and envy, hateful, and hating others. Such is man characterized by sin. But the kindness of God, of a Savior-God, His good-will and charity towards men (sweet and precious character of God!) has appeared.

That which has made us different from others is not some merit in ourselves, some personal superiority: we were sometime even as they. It is the tender love and grace of the God of mercy. He has been kind and merciful to us: we have known what it is, and are so to others. It is true that in cleansing and renewing us this mercy has wrought by a principle, and in a sphere of a life, that are entirely new, so that we cannot walk with the world as we did before.

Now when the kindness of a Savior-God appeared, it was not something vague and uncertain; He has saved us, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy by washing and renewing us. … He is washed from his former habits, thoughts, desires, in the practical sense. We wash a thing that exists. The man was morally bad and defiled in his inward and outward life. God has saved us by purifying us; He could not do it otherwise. To be in relationship with Himself there must be practical purity.

(Adapted from John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament, Titus 3.)

A Thought to Keep

God demands practical purity in our lives, but we can’t accomplish this without the Holy Spirit. Are you living the reality of a sinner saved by grace, relying on the Holy Spirit’s help?

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[Source: Beyond Sunday, Tropical Bible Study .]