Tag Archive | Prayer

Studying Your Bible

by Jarrid Wilson

Over the last few months I have had hundreds of you request a post on “How to Study The Bible.” Well, here it is. I pray this post blesses you, challenges you, and inspires you to take the initiative to deepen your relationship with God.

Below is the formula I use when studying and journaling through the scriptures. This doesn’t mean it’s the only way to study, but I do believe this formula is a great way to strengthen your foundation in Christ.

1. Uncover

1. Time/Date/Author

2. Place/Location

3. Audience (who is the text directed to?)

2. Relate

1. How does it affect me?

2. How does it make me feel?

3. In what ways do I share a similar experience?

3. Apply

1. What did I learn?

2. How can it be applied to my life?

3. What is God trying to tell me through this text?

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The Holy Spirit and Ethics… Part I

by R. Keith Whitt

INTRODUCTION

Can the Holy Spirit make a difference in a person’s life? Of course He can. But that really isn’t the question most of us should be asking. If you are a believer or have been associated with a Bible-believing church for any period of time, you know the answer is “yes.”

Will I yield to the Holy Spirit so He will enable me to make ethical decisions? This is the right question! The central truth of this lesson is “The Holy Spirit influences Christians to live ethically.” One of the Holy Spirit’s roles here on earth is to lead us in truth. Truth enables us to make right ethical choices, regardless of how difficult some of the choices may be. Although Scripture doesn’t always provide a “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not” statement for each of the situations we encounter, the principles are there. We then must have the wisdom and strength to make the right choice, regardless of the economic or positional impact.

The desires of our flesh are often at war with spiritual truth. In those situations we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to forge ahead and do what is right. No one is exempt from these settings; however, some believers may face more of them due to the nature of their work and their personality. For example, if you are a person who greatly desires the approval of others, you might be prone to make decisions that make you “look good” and receiving the acclaim of others. Or, perhaps your income is determined by sales and commissions. Will you “stretch the truth” to make the sale?

When believers allow the Holy Spirit to guide their lifestyle and decisions, there will be no ethical conflicts or compromises. We will do what is right, even if it hurts. However, doing right always brings the blessing of God’s favor despite the discomfort of our choice.

Making ethical decisions enables a believer to “sleep soundly” at night, knowing truth based on the Word of God and the guidance of Holy Spirit has prevailed.

I. SPIRIT-TRANSFORMED LIFE (John 16:8; Titus 3:3-8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20)

A. Freed by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Titus 3:3-8)

John 16:8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.

Titus 3:3. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

4. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

6. Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

7. That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

8. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

One aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is clearly stated in the initial verse of our lesson (John 16:8). He is here to repress the actions of sin. One dimension of that occurs within the life of believers. If believers cannot live ethically and eradicate sinful tendencies in their lives, how can they expect sinners in their fallen moral state to follow paths of righteousness?

Usually we see the role of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter – the One who stands alongside to defend. However, here we see the Spirit on the other side of the legal fence. He stands as the prosecutor bringing attention to people’s sins. The purpose isn’t just to cause people to feel guilty, but to bring them to righteousness.

The Holy Spirit’s convicting work in a person’s life is what causes her or him to realize their pitiful condition. As Paul writes to Titus, he lists specifics of unbelievers’ sinfulness. We understand not all unbelievers are involved in every type of sinful activity. However, the unbeliever is heavily influenced by personal passions and the desire for pleasure which may be immoral and/or illegal (3:3). This leads to foolish and disobedient actions which may result in ongoing consequences.

Paul emphasizes how sin deceives. It may cause us to assume we are having “the time of our life” or on the road to great happiness when in reality this is a major deception. Instead of being on the road of freedom we are enslaved. This enslavement could be to drugs, sex, greed, or frivolity. All of them speak of being in bondage to the enemy of our soul who seeks to destroy us.

Rescue from this state of bondage cannot occur by our own attempts to do good. No number of positive deeds will change our sinfulness into righteousness; only “the kindness and love of God our Saviour” (v. 4) can save us. Verse 5 emphasizes the process of spiritual renewal being the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, which makes us “heirs having the hope of eternal life” (v. 7 NIV).

The freedom we experience through the work of the Holy Spirit isn’t totally separated from our own actions. We cooperate and maintain what has been done in our lives by daily following a lifestyle of holiness which is in accord with God’s Word (v. 8), but even that is made possible through God’s grace.

B. Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

19. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Though we are freed by the Spirit and enjoy Christian liberty, there still are rules of conduct which govern how we live. Here at the end of a definitive statement on sexual immorality (vv. 12-20), Paul presents the biblical view of the believer’s human body.

He clearly underscores the unity of the spiritual and the physical. Our physical body isn’t an entity separate from our spiritual nature. Unlike those who say the actions of the body have no connection with the spiritual relationship with God, Paul points to our body being “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (v. 19 NIV). His indwelling and covering of us places us at the service of God. We are not being independent self-serving agents. At the price of Christ’s sacrificial death, we can be free from the bondage of sin. Once we accept this offering, a transfer of ownership occurs. Now we are Christ’s! The Holy Spirit’s regenerating work places us in the privileged position of glorifying God (v. 20). This is to take place in the words of our mouth and the actions of our bodies.

The Light of Faith

Focus Verse of the Week

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)

Classic Commentary

[The believers were called to] unity of spirit by grace, and a walk according to God, so that they may be as heavenly lights amid the moral darkness of this world. [They were] to always carry, and thus hold forth, the word of life: such was Paul’s desire. Thus, they would give proof by the constancy and practical effect of their faith, that the apostle had not run or labored in vain; and they would themselves be his glory in the day of Christ. (Oh, if the church had continued that way! Be that as it may, Christ will be glorified.)

The apostle unites his work and the reward in the day of Christ with the blessing of the assembly. He would not be separated from it in his death. This union of heart and faith is very touching. He presents himself as capable of being poured out (that is to say, his life) upon the sacrifice and service of the Philippians’ faith.

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

A Thought to Keep

Is your faith lived out so consistently that others see you as being a light that shines in a dark world?

Keep Moving

keep going or moving don't stop continue don't give up

“Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”  Exodus 14:15

Moses had brought the whole nation of Israel, approximately 600,000, to a dead end in the desert. The only thing between Israel and Pharaoh’s pursuing army was the Red Sea. This was after ten plagues God had inflicted on Pharaoh to motivate him to free the Israelites. Finally, Pharaoh had freed Moses and the people, and they left Egypt. They thought they were home free.

“Freedom at last,” they said.

But God did a strange thing. He directed Moses to take a route that led to the Red Sea, instead of the northern route around the Red Sea. God explained that He didn’t want them fighting the enemies they would have encountered on this route. But still, there was the issue of the Red Sea.

They finally arrived at the Red Sea, and the people were wondering where they would go from there. News hit the camp: Pharaoh had changed his mind. He was coming after them with his army. Panic set in.

God sometimes brings each of us to a “Red Sea” in our life. It may be a work problem that can’t be solved. It may be a marriage that seems to be failing. It may be a debilitating disease. Whatever your Red Sea, God tells us one thing: “Keep moving.” The Red Sea was before them, yet God was angered at Moses and told him to “Keep moving.”

“But Lord, the Red Sea is before me.”

“Keep moving.”

When we live by sight, we act on what we see. God sets this stage in dramatic fashion. God is into the dramatic. There is no way out without God here. That is just the way He wants it. No one will get glory except God.

A friend once admonished me when I was in the midst of an extremely difficult time in my life, “You must not withdraw from being proactive in your faith just because of this trial that you are in. God’s hand is on your life. There are too many who are depending on you to fulfill the purposes God has in your life. Keep moving! Keep investing yourself in others.”

I didn’t feel like it. I was in too much pain. But I did it anyway.

God met me at the point of my greatest need once I decided simply to be obedient. Getting past myself by investing myself in others helped heal the pain.

There is great healing when we look past our own problems and seek to invest ourselves in others for the sake of Christ. This is when our own Red Seas become parted. We begin to walk to freedom.

But we will never experience the miracle of the Red Sea in our lives if we don’t first “Keep moving.”

–by Os Hillman


Chained to the World

Focus Verse of the Week

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

Classic Commentary

Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world in our hearts so much and are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained control of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We are mistaken if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good. Therefore, we should redeem the time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love Him.

(Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible.)

A Thought to Keep

Are you tied up so much in the world that you miss what God is doing? Pay attention to the good He does for you this week

Credit: (BibleStudyTool)

 

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

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.