Five Reasons To Read And Study The Bible

11 06 2017

Do you love God’s word enough to read it regularly? Francis Chan in his book, Multiply, wrote, “When we talk about the Bible, we’re actually talking about something that the all-powerful, all-knowing, transcendent God decided to write to us!”

Here are just five reasons for reading this awesome, mind-blowing, truth-filled book:

1.To know the Author of the Bible. God wrote a book to you and me about Himself. In reading it, we will know more about the character of the One we love and serve, growing in relationship with Him.

2. To know the Author’s Son, Jesus. The Old Testament shares of the coming Messiah and the New Testament is about His life here on earth. When we read His words and learn to do what Jesus did in order to live the way Jesus lived, we will be walking examples of His kingdom coming to earth.

3. To learn more about me, who I am as a creation of my Father. The Bible will expose, “…The thoughts and the intentions of the [my] heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Reading God’s word will help me to see the real me and become more like Him in the process.

4. To receive direction in my life. God’s word is full of practical life applications. Reading His word will give us daily wisdom for our relationships on earth. As we discover what God values, we will receive insight into everyday problems. When we handle those problems in a biblical way, it will provoke change in others and in us.

5. To have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16). To read the parables, to enter into the written teachings of Christ and to hear our Lord’s response to His Father recorded in the Bible, is like being given a map for communication with God. As we read, our spirits receive truth and our thinking changes according to His thoughts. Through His life transforming word our actions can become His actions.

 





Supporting One Another as Husband and Wife

5 06 2017

There are so many practical ways to support our spouse on a daily basis. We have grown in this over the last 42 years. It does mean dealing with our own selfishness and seeing the needs in another, maybe even before they see them. For your marriage encouragement, here’s a dozen ways to provide your life mate some support.

 

  1. Try not to over manage one another. Give each other space. Stay away from the constant, “Did you do this?” And the, “When are you going to…”
  2. Speak words of encouragement. Of course there are a lot of things to nitpick about, but try encouragement first. For example, “I appreciate how you keep up with the wash without complaint” or “Thanks for working so hard and helping to provide for our family.” Words of encouragement turn something mundane into something to conquer.
  3. Call forth your spouse’s gifts, both spiritual and practical. Most often your spouse does not see all of their gifts. When you believe in them and encourage them to use their gifts, you are in effect calling forth something that God has placed within them.
  4. Be protective of your spouse. Watch out for the things that your spouse does not see coming or is not tuned in to. We all need protected from things people say or do that might be hurtful to one another.
  5. Pray with your spouse. Do not pray at them, rather pray for them. Cover one another in prayer. Do not just have their back, but have all of them. There is no greater intimacy of support than prayer.
  6. Compliment your spouse regularly. Be sure to tell them when they look good in that new shirt or new haircut. Let them know regularly that you are still attracted to them.
  7. Communicate regularly even if it’s about nothing. Send your spouse a text in the middle of the day to say hi or that you love them. Let them know you are thinking of them. Send them a card in the mail or put a Post It note in with their lunch.
  8. Praise in public; construct in private. Verbally affirm your spouse around others. Never challenge your spouse in front of others. If a word of input is needed, save it for a one-on-one time.
  9. Take time to regularly have the deeper talks. Do not let your communication go for days without connecting deeply concerning your relationship, the kids, your job, your spiritual walk or the finances.
  10. Speak words of honor. Honor is often lost in our cultures today. When speaking a word of honor your spouse will feel honored, appreciated, praised and trusted.
  11. Be physical. Touch your spouse, hold hands and kiss several times a day. Put your arm around one another. Rub each other’s back. Hug for no reason other than good, comforting and sustaining physical touch.
  12. Be a rock. Let them know you can be counted on. Be there and be on time. Be faithful in all you do and say, especially in your walk with God. Never give yourself emotionally or sexually to anyone or anything other than your spouse.




The First Day

30 05 2017

First days, you either love them or tolerate them, there is hardly an in between. The first day of school – tolerate or love? Or, how about the first day of a new job? The first day is critical and so it was at creation.

Genesis one verse’s one through five records the Godhead creating the heavens and the earth, the light and the darkness, the evening and the morning all accomplished in creating, “…The first day.”

How do you feel about first days? Someone recently shared with me that the first day after surgery is a real bummer. Another shared that the first day of vacation is exhilarating and full of anticipation. I can tell you that the first day of military boot camp is terrifying. Can you imagine the first day after the loss of a life marriage partner? I don’t even desire to think about that first day.

The first day of my first child’s birth was a great first day. The first day of the loss of my grandmother who I was extremely close to was a challenge. The first day of marriage was off the chart filled with expectancy, excitement and love.

There have been many first days in our lives and there will be many more. It will be up to us how we handle those first days. We can choose to embrace them or tolerate them. We can call it an adventure or a disaster.

Genesis one records the first day of our heavenly Father in the act of creation for you and me. He made that first day and second day and this day in order to walk and talk with you and me. And if we think about it, everyday is a first day with Him.





Blame Keeps Us The Same

22 05 2017

Some wise person once remarked that blaming others would keep us the same. It’s true. One sure fire way to not take responsibility and to not change is to continually blame others for everything that comes our way. While we all engage in this practice at times, it simply cannot be the way we live our lives. Truthfully, others do not have the power to cause you anxiety, anger or any other feeling because our feelings are a result of our thoughts and our thoughts are a result of how we are interpreting our environment.

Our reactions will always be connected to what we tell ourselves about any given incident, conversation, run-in with our boss or spouse. Counselor Ed Smith wrote, “We feel what we believe.” That little statement is pretty powerful when attempting to make change in our lives. While blame shifts our need to change onto others, I eventually need to ask myself why I react the way I do. In other words, rather than blaming someone else, I listen to my thoughts in an effort to understand my emotional response.  Then secondly, is my response based upon a lie from my past or the truth?

In a devotional time the other day, I was reading about Paul the Apostle’s questioning before the Sanhedrin in Acts chapter 23. Ananias ordered Paul to be struck and then Paul immediately snapped, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (v. 3) When Paul was told that he was actually insulting “God’s high priest,” he just as quickly apologized, as he desired to follow the scripture which admonishes us to not speak evil of rulers.

Paul’s initial reaction was based on what he felt to be an injustice and responded in kind. However, when he remembered what he knew to be truth taught to him by the Scriptures, he apologized for his actions. The truth will do that and if Paul could learn that process, so can we.

Father, help us (me) to stop blaming and start changing.





Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

15 05 2017

Saint Patrick, Ireland’s beloved patron saint, has a prayer of divine protection attributed to him which was later made into a hymn. There are different versions, but one goes like this:

I armor myself today with the power of the Most Holy Trinity, in the oneness of God, Creator of the universe. I armor myself today with the baptism of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection, his ascension and glorious second coming.

I armor myself today with God’s guidance to direct me, God’s might to sustain me, God’s wisdom to instruct me; God’s word to give me speech, God’s shield to protect me; God’s army to defend me against the snares of demons, against the lure of vices, against all who plot me harm.

I invoke all these virtues today against every hostile and merciless power that may assail me, against the incantations of false prophets, against the laws of heathenism, against the false laws of heresy, against the deceits of idolatry, against every art and spell that binds the soul to evil.

Christ guard me today against every poison, burning, drowning and fatal wounding.

Christ be with me, Christ be behind me, Christ be within me, Christ be beside me, Christ to win me. Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ to be where danger threatens, Christ be in the hearts of those around me forevermore.

Christ be with you!





When Tithing Really Counts: The Trust Factor

7 05 2017

Recently I read some research on charitable giving. It was amazing to see how generous Americans are. Last year, 2016, Americans donated $358 billion to numerous charities. That’s the good news.

The bad news is unbelievable when it comes to unscrupulous nonprofits that exist today. For example, the Cancer Fund of America based in Knoxville, TN has a record of only 3% of all funds donated directly aid anyone with cancer. What happened to the 97%? According to the Federal Trade Commission the money was spent on the charity’s staff with trips to Disney World, trips to Vegas, exorbitant salaries, cars, luxury cruises and even college funds for the executive’s children.

This one really bothers me as I travel to this nation annually. In 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti killing tens of thousands of Haitians, while many more lost their homes. Generous U.S. citizens donated approximately $488 million to the Red Cross. A year later the Red Cross announced that it expected to spend $100 million constructing permanent homes and various community development projects. Four years from this time NPR reported, “Despite having spent nearly half a billion dollars…the Red Cross had built a grand total of six new homes in Haiti.”

When we are tithing to our local church, we know we can trust the leadership to make right decisions with the money we’re giving to God. And as we share our offerings to that trusted missionary organization or homeless shelter in our community, we can literally see the difference that our giving makes. Use wisdom in your giving; do your research before you donate. Check out the ministry/organization on their website and do not hesitate to call and request them to verify the percentage of your donation that will be used for administration. You worked hard for your income; be sure to pray and ask God about your giving. Imagine inadvertently donating to some nonprofit executive’s children’s college fund when you have yet to start a college fund for your child.





How Do You Spend Your Free Time?

30 04 2017

One of my favorite New Testament verses states, “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.”  (Matthew 13:1) I simply love this verse because I crave what it says.  Our Lord, while on earth, with just a three-year window, took time to sit by a lake.  What was He doing?  That’s just it, He wasn’t “doing,” He was being.  He took time out to rest, to reflect, to breath in the fresh, moisture-filled air that surrounds the tranquil presence of water. I see Him in this moment as having no “to-do” list, no sermon preparation, no rushed got-to-do-it-now feelings… just rest-filled hanging out with His heavenly Father.

We live in a culture that is noisy and full of time-stealing stuff. We’re always accessible. Can we take time to “sit by the lake” and simply enjoy His presence?  Work is a gift from God, but so is rest. How do you like to rest? Remember, life is a balancing act in order to maintain our spiritual, physical and emotional health. Separating and centering ourselves every once in a while is a really spiritual thing to do, just ask Jesus.








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