Directly Addressing Issues…

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James 1:23-25 (KJV)

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

God is not one to speak in generalities.

When He whispers from the pages of Scripture or confronts through a friend’s words, the Father directly addresses issues in His children’s lives.

With that in mind, let’s look at His three goals for communicating with believers–namely, for us to:

  1. Comprehend the truth. 

God wants us to learn His ways and principles, to recognize our own frailty, and to identify the needs of others. He does more than offer this as head knowledge–He makes truth applicable to our lives. For example, the Lord assured Paul that His strength was sufficient to carry the apostle through anything (2 Cor. 12:9). Circumstances taught the apostle that God’s Word was true.

  1. Conform to the truth. 

Our lives are shaped by our belief system. What we hold as true influences our thinking. In turn, how we think affects our character, conduct, and conversation. God is determined to mold His children into Christlikeness so that they reflect His gospel to the world.

  1. Communicate the truth. 

Every child of God is called to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). Believers can know the Lord and walk in His light but still fall short of this expectation. We must share the gospel by sharing God’s truth with others and explaining how His words played out in our lives.

Notice that each goal builds on the one preceding it.

Christians are a light reflecting God’s glory to this world.

We shine brightly by being attentive to God’s voice and following His will.

And when someone takes an interest in the source of our light, we are prepared to share the good news of Christ. 

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Genuine Liberation…

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Galatians 3:10-13, Galatians 3:21-24 (KJV)

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Most of us are accustomed to working for a reward.

We get paid for a completed job, and there’s a bonus when our effort exceeds expectation. It’s understandable, then, why so many people assume salvation depends upon our actions.

But thankfully, that is simply not the case.

God gave commandments to reveal His standard for holiness, but—with the exception of Jesus—no one has ever obeyed them perfectly.

In fact, James 2:10 points out that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”

Just one single jealous thought, unkind comment, or dishonoring action is all it takes to be a lawbreaker, according to God’s specifications.

In other words, if salvation depended on our inadequate self-righteousness, nobody could be saved.

God’s laws weren’t intended to save us; rather, they were intended to show our helplessness and point us to Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:24).

Our heavenly Father knew that our own strength was insufficient for keeping His law. Yet out of grace, He sent His sinless Son Jesus to take the penalty we deserved for our wrongdoing—death (Rom. 6:23).

The Savior bore our iniquities, died, and rose from the grave. In doing so, He conquered sin so we can be free.

Jesus’ death and resurrection broke the bonds of sin. Are you living in the freedom His blood made possible?

We can do nothing to reconcile ourselves to God; our only hope is to accept the free gift of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. In surrendering our life to Him, we find genuine liberation.

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What Others Know…

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1 Corinthians 2:9-16 (KJV)

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

One of the reasons that many people–including believers–don’t read the Bible is because they can’t understand it.

We would expect that to be the case for those who don’t know Christ, but why do so many believers fail to comprehend the truths of Scripture?

Maybe it’s because they haven’t asked for help from their divine Teacher.

One of the Holy Spirit’s chief responsibilities is to enable Christians to understand the things of God.

When looking at believers who know more than we do, we’ll sometimes think, I will never be able to reach that level. 

The issue, however, isn’t how much knowledge you have right now, but whether you are growing in your understanding.

The Spirit will teach you what you need to know, not necessarily what others know.

Because He wants to make us godly people, He’ll give us enough truth each day to change our lives. He will interpret the meaning and give an application designed specifically for each person.

The Spirit’s goal is not to fill your mind with information but to bring you to a deeper level in your relationship with the Lord.

He wants you to understand the truth so you will fall in love with Jesus.

Then you’ll long to spend time in the Word, thereby getting to know Him even better.

But all these treasures of God’s Word could remain out of reach if you never ask the Teacher to unlock them.

Each time you read your Bible, ask the Lord for understanding.

A wonderfully intimate love relationship with Christ awaits those who let the Spirit reveal to them the thoughts of God.

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Surrender and Sacrifice…

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Galatians 5:1 (KJV)

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Citizens in many countries believe they are free because their governments allow them to worship, speak, and travel as they desire.

Yet despite the liberties a constitution may guarantee, countless people from those lands live in bondage.

That’s because true freedom isn’t something that can be legislated.

Rather, it is the ability to live a righteous life in the mercy, grace, goodness, and power of God.

True freedom means:

Through Jesus, we are redeemed from bondage to sin and its consequences.

God has adopted us into His family, and we are able to walk with Him in truth.

Our hope is secure.

When a child feels safe in his parents’ love and provision, he will thrive. We, too, can live with joy and confidence since we trust the Lord to care for us today and through all of eternity.

God has enabled us to become all that He intended.

He’s opened the door for us to release bitterness, low self-esteem, and other impediments that once had a grip on us. Furthermore, His Holy Spirit guides and enables so we can do all that He desires.

Through grace, Christ has freed us to relate to one another in a godly fashion. 

We can love and forgive in God’s strength because we have experienced the same from Him.

Is anything hindering God’s work in your life or interfering with your peace and contentment?

Understand that the Christian life is a paradox:

We are set free from bondage to sin yet choose to be bondslaves of Jesus.

Only when we fully surrender and sacrifice to Him can we truly live in freedom.

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The Strength We Need…

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Colossians 1:11-12 (KJV)

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

One of the disciples saw Jesus praying and made the request, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

If Christ’s close associates needed instruction, then surely, we, too, must learn about prayer.

Thankfully, there are many examples in Scripture for us to follow.

Paul’s first-century requests for the people of Colossae are not only still applicable; they’re also instructive in terms of types of petitions to make on behalf of others.

For instance, Paul prayed that these people would know God (Col. 1:10).

In other words, he wanted them to grow in the Lord and not stagnate in their faith.

This transformation takes place by studying the Word, applying biblical principles, and heeding the consequences of obedience.

Another plea was for the Colossians to experience God’s power (v. 11).

The apostle wanted them to have the Lord’s supernatural energy and the strength they’d need to carry out His will.

What is impossible by man’s effort becomes possible when believers rely on God.

Then the glory rightly goes to Him.

Finally, Paul asked that they would give thanks joyously (vv. 11-12).

This indicates the apostle’s hope that they would exhibit the proper attitude, expressing gratefulness even during difficult situations.

In church, we often hear people asking for prayer.

And many believers make a prayer list so they don’t forget to intercede for certain individuals during the week.

Using Paul’s example, we can be confident that we are praying for those on our list in a manner that pleases the Lord and aligns with His will.

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A High Price To Pay…

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Psalms 145:17-21 (KJV)

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.holy: or, merciful, or, bountiful
18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
20 The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?

Your answer reveals a lot about who you are.

The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).

There is nothing wrong with desires–they motivate us to achieve great things.

But not all of our yearnings come from God.

Consider your aspirations and what they say about who you are:

Do you hope for a position of authority in order to be in control? Longing for personal advancement in order to manipulate others reveals a lack of integrity, whereas a godly person craves righteousness.

Do you dream about wealth and fame?

Perhaps there’s a void in your spirit that you’re trying to fill.

But only God can meet the insatiable needs of the human heart.

Are you afraid to ask the Lord for what you want? Maybe you think He won’t listen, but God tells us to approach His throne with boldness and confidence (Heb. 4:16).

If the Lord doesn’t respond affirmatively to your prayers, ask Him to make your desires conform to His will.

Whatever you do, don’t take matters into your own hands and go after what you want.

There is always a high price to pay for rebelling against God.

God cares for us bountifully, but that doesn’t mean we can expect Him to deliver whatever we want, whenever we want it.

Only when our dreams align with His plan for our lives does He fulfill them.

The thoughts that preoccupy us are an accurate barometer of the state of our relationship with Christ.

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The Difference Between Being Busy and Being Fruitful…

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Colossians 1:9-10 (KJV)

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Philippians 4:6 says that it’s good to bring requests to the Lord, and we do often ask Him for certain blessings, desired outcomes, and healing for loved ones.

But there are times when, in God’s omniscience, He determines that a “no” would ultimately result in greater good.

So, what supplications can you be sure are in accordance with His will?

Paul recorded specific petitions he made on behalf of the Colossians, and you can offer these life-changing prayers for people in your own life as well.

First, request that they “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9).

In this way, you are asking God to give them direction and the ability to see life from His viewpoint.

Second, ask that they “will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (v. 10).

The only way to succeed in this is through the control of the Holy Spirit—He fills hearts with a longing for God and creates the desire to please Him through obedience.

Third, pray that their life would count (v. 10).

There is a difference between being busy and being fruitful. Many Christians assume that to have an impact for God, they must volunteer in numerous ministries at church or become a missionary or pastor.

But the truth is, effectiveness in God’s work depends on what He calls each person to do.

Too often, Christians pray for others only during hardships. But Paul continuously lifted up the Colossians to our Father (v. 9).

As you mention others by name to the Lord, consider the areas that the apostle addressed.

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Grateful For The Correction…

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Galatians 5:16-26 (KJV)

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

As believers, we all want the fruit of the Spirit, but how can we know if we truly have it?

Even unbelievers can display these qualities when conditions are positive.

This nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is not what we do, but who we are, and it is primarily on display in Christians when circumstances are unfavorable.

Two characteristics help us recognize these traits in our lives.

Fruitful believers are not controlled by their environment.

Everyone experiences trials and pain, but those who are filled with the Spirit do not lose His fruit because of their situations. They keep their joy even when difficulties overwhelm. If someone speaks harshly, they respond with kindness. Because the Holy Spirit is in control, He is free to produce His fruit no matter what the circumstances are. Even though such believers may feel pain, anger, or a desire for revenge, they choose to trust the Lord to protect them and direct the outcome.

Fruitful Christians recover quickly after a fall. 

These believers are not perfect, but they are sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction and are quick to return to the Lord in repentance. In fact, they are actually grateful for the correction and praise God, not only for revealing their weakness but also for drawing them back to obedience.

No one produces these amazing qualities in himself.

Trying harder to be godly will never work. Character transformation occurs when we submit to God, giving Him complete control of our lives.

Only then will the Spirit be free to produce fruit that remains even in the deepest, darkest storms.

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