Grow in the Knowledge of Truth…

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Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV)

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

The Word of God is truth that’s living and able to penetrate human souls (Heb. 4:12).

Consider how powerful Scripture is: it can change hearts, save lives from eternal condemnation, and give hope to the hopeless.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Bible is a battlefield of Satan?

The Devil will do his best to destroy its message and truth.

In fact, this has been our Enemy’s continuous goal since he chose to turn from God.

Our heavenly Father has graciously let us know in advance the outcome of this ongoing battle: Truth will prevail.

But while the Lord has the ultimate victory, Satan can gain ground among individuals.

His tactics are dangerous and deceptive to the unsuspecting. For this reason, we should carefully guard against his attacks, which are hard to recognize unless we are prepared.

False teaching is one of Satan’s preferred tactics for leading us astray.

At first glance, such instruction often seems to align with Scripture, but do not be misled by the deception.

Two things are essential for standing firm against these slippery falsehoods: to be well grounded in the truth of God’s Word and to listen to His Spirit.

Only then can we recognize the error and avoid the pitfalls of Satan’s lies.

The Enemy longs to mislead believers so they’ll be ineffective for the kingdom.

He also wants to keep all unsaved souls far from salvation through Jesus Christ. Friends, prepare for battle.

Grow in the knowledge of truth, and lean on God’s Spirit to guide you moment by moment.

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Someone Else’s Burdens…

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1 Thessalonians 5:14 (KJV)

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

There are hurting people everywhere, but at times we just don’t know what to say or do to ease their pain.

Here are six practical ways to bear someone else’s burden.

  1. Be there.
    At times the best “method” of helping is simply to be present. During our darkest hours, we don’t need someone who tries in vain to fix everything; we just need a friend.

    Listen.
    Don’t attempt to give answers or tell people what to do next. Injured souls frequently want simply a listening ear so they can express what’s on their mind.

  2. Share.
    Never parade yourself as someone who has all the answers. Instead, allow your own pain and failures to help others.
  3. Pray.
    There is power in speaking people’s names before the Lord. When they hear someone talk to Jesus on their behalf, healing often starts taking place.
  4. Give.
    Sometimes helping others involves more than a handshake or warm hug. Maybe they need something financial or material. One of the best measures of sincerity is how much we’re willing to give to others.
  5. Substitute.
    You may know an individual who bears the burden of caring for someone else. If you step in and take his or her place for a while, you are emulating your Savior–He, too, was a substitute.

Because we were unable to do it ourselves, Jesus bore all of our sin and sorrow, even unto death.

As a result, we can live happily and eternally in communion with our Father.

If Christ did that for us, how can we ever say, “I’m too busy to bear someone else’s burden”?

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Dealing With Criticism….

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Proverbs 15:31-33 (KJV)

31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.#instruction: or, correction#heareth: or, obeyeth#getteth…: Heb. possesseth an heart
33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way.

Although you might be tempted to become defensive or angry, remain calm and listen.

The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said.

If we refuse to accept reproof, we’ll limit our potential for Christlike character development and spiritual growth.

Some of life’s best lessons come through difficult experiences.

If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He wants to use it in transforming you into His Son’s image.

Whether the criticism is valid or not, whether it’s delivered with kindness or harshness, your goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord.

Remember that you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other person is acting.

When a criticism comes your way, be quiet and listen until the other person has finished. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect.

When your critic finishes, thank him for bringing his concerns to your attention, and tell him that you will consider what he’s said.

Ask the Lord if the accusation is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or convict you.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God.

It’s a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing love to your critic.

If he is angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony.

Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord’s correction.

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Why Bad Things Happen…

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Isaiah 45:5-7 (KJV)

5 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

I admit that I often don’t understand why bad things happen.

Even so, I believe that God has a purpose for everything He does or permits.

My faith is rooted in the biblical principle that says the Lord is sovereign (Ps. 22:28).

He is in absolute control of this universe, the natural and political climate of this earth, and my life and yours.

When we are in the midst of a trial, it is hard to resist crying out, “God, Why is this happening?”

Sometimes we get the answer and sometimes we don’t.

What we can be sure of is that nothing happens by accident or coincidence.

He has a purpose for even our most painful experiences.

Moreover, we have His promise to “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

Seeing in advance how the Lord will work evil or hurt for our benefit is very difficult, if not impossible.

My limited human perspective doesn’t allow me to grasp His greater plan.

However, I can confirm the truth of this biblical promise because the Father’s good handiwork appears all through my pain, hardship, and loss.

I have experienced Him turn mourning into gladness and have seen Him reap bountiful blessings and benefits from my darkest hours.

As believers, we must accept that God won’t always make sense to us. Isaiah teaches that His ways and thoughts are higher than our own (Isa. 55:9).

He sees the beautifully completed big picture.

We can rely on the fact that God is in control, no matter how wildly off-kilter our world seems to spin.

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Careless in Our Thinking…

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1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (KJV)

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Some Christians see a fellow believer fall into sin but fail to acknowledge that they, too, could stumble.

That’s dangerous.

Satan has them right where he wants them: deceived by a false sense of confidence.

Three enemies are constantly at work trying to bring us down: the Devil, his world system, and our own treacherous flesh.

Even though believers have a righteous standing before God, we must each, like Paul, acknowledge an internal problem: “sin which dwells in me” (Rom. 7:20).

Satan takes full advantage of this weakness, luring us with fleshly and worldly temptations.

He stokes our pride so we’ll be blinded to our own vulnerability to stumbling.

Christians need to be continually on guard.

Since ignorance–of the nature of sin, the strategies of the Enemy, and our own areas of weakness–sets us up for failure, we cannot afford to be careless in our thinking.

Anytime you find yourself excusing, redefining, or rationalizing sin, you’ve lost your sensitivity to the Lord.

God’s Word must always fill our minds and direct our steps.

If you’ve drifted from the Lord, turn back to Him by acknowledging your sin and accepting full responsibility for it.

Repentance simply means changing your mind and going in a different direction–toward God instead of away from Him.

The next step is harder.

Respond with gratitude for the Lord’s chastisement.

Every time believers fall into sin, God lovingly works to bring them back into a fellowship with Him.

His discipline may be painful, but it’s always good because it brings us to our senses and reconnects us with our Father.

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Personal, Continuous, and Always Available…

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (KJV)

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

God’s care for us extends even to the details of our lives.

He knows when His children hurt, and He longs to offer comfort (Isa. 49:13).

The Lord’s compassion is personal, continuous, and always available.

We receive His comfort through the Holy Spirit, who lives within us.

There is no situation or time when He is inaccessible to the believer—we can be consoled and reassured at any moment, day or night.

Consider how the compassion of God was demonstrated through Jesus’ life.

He interacted even with the “untouchables”—people whose bodies were infected with a contagious disease (Luke 17:11-14).

And no sickness of ours will prevent Him from caring for us.

When Jesus saw people with medical conditions, in compassion He not only healed them physically but also gave an even greater comfort—new life through the forgiveness of sins.

And while our infirmities may remain, the Lord lovingly strengthens us to persevere (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

As for the messes we get into, notice how Peter’s betrayal of Christ was met with forgiveness and reinstatement (John 21:15-17), and Thomas’s doubts were answered by Jesus Himself (John 20:27).

Our mistakes won’t stop Him from loving us. Even to His enemies, Jesus left the way open for repentance.

God’s comfort and care are adequate for anything we face, whether it’s poor health, insufficient finances, or family trouble.

Then, once we’ve experienced His consolation, we’re to become bearers of comfort to others (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Remember, people everywhere are in great need of His compassion.

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Too Important to Neglect…

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1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (KJV)

17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father.

But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness.

Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor.

Prayer is too important to neglect.

Will God’s plans fail if I don’t pray?

God is not subservient to believers or dependent upon their prayers.

The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work that He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on without us.

Laboring alongside the Lord is our privilege.

Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work?

I believe that Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, the Lord often prophesied what He would do and then brought those events to pass.

In other cases, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

There are some good things that He holds back until we put out prayerful hands to receive them. But because God is a loving Father, He also pours our blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.

Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life.

Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond?

God loves to be good to His children and answer their prayers.

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Restoring The Fallen…

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Galatians 6:1-5 (KJV)

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

The Lord doesn’t want the members of His body to live in isolation; believers are intended to function as a loving family who actively care for each other.

One of our responsibilities as part of God’s household is to come alongside a brother or sister who has stumbled.

Paul specifies that those “who are spiritual” are to restore the fallen ones to fellowship with the Father and the family.

“Spiritual” doesn’t mean some elite group of pious leaders; it refers to any Christians who are living under the Spirit’s control.

A key element in this process is the attitude of the one who seeks to restore a fellow Christian.

A Spirit of Gentleness:

This isn’t a time for harshness, anger, judgment, or condemnation. Our goal is not to heap pain and guilt upon a hurting brother or sister but to show mercy and forgiveness (2 Cor. 2:5-8).

A Spirit of Humility:

Those who have a superior attitude look down on a fallen brother and think, I would never make those mistakes. But the humble know their own vulnerability. Instead of judging others, they examine their own lives in order to recognize and deal with areas of weakness.

A Spirit of Love:

When we love others, we’ll willingly sharing their burden. This requires an unselfish investment of our time, energy, and prayer on their behalf.

How do you react when a fellow Christian has stumbled?

One of the ugliest human traits is our tendency to feel better about ourselves when another person misses the mark.

Instead of sharing the latest gossip about a fallen brother or sister, let your heart break, and come alongside to love and help.

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