Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Believing is Seeing


We’ve all heard the old expression “seeing is believing” but I think God sees it the other way around, “Believing is Seeing”.  After all, how much faith does it take to believe in something you’ve already seen?  But when we believe before we have seen it, that’s getting much nearer to the heart of faith.


Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.


Things to think about:

·       We must believe

o   James 1:5-8 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

·       It must be according to His will

o   1 John 5:14-15 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

·       There must not be anything hindering our prayer like sin, unforgiveness, or marital communications

o   Isaiah 59:1-2 - “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor is His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” 

o   Mark 11:24-27 - “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.  Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” 

o   1 Peter 3:7 - “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

·       The benefits include Peace, Blessing, a Personal and Lasting Testimony

o   Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

o   Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

o   Hebrews 11:4 - By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.


What are you trusting God for today?

·       A friend or family member’s salvation

·       A health concern

·       Financial woes

·       Ministry

·       Whatever it is, ask God with a pure heart and full belief and see how He moves!

Monday, August 14, 2023

The Train


I love it when the Bible lays out things in a particular order.  It is always for a reason and when I start to try and uncover that reason, God’s Word takes on a whole new dimension.  In today’s study, the word picture is of a train with eight cars, each in its proper place, on the way to The Eternal Kingdom.  All aboard!


2 Peter 1:5-7 - For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge,

self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 


Things to think about:

·       The idea is of a train on its way to The Eternal Kingdom of Jesus

o    2 Peter 1:11 – “For if you do these things, you will never stumble,  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

o   Each of the cars is in a very specific order.  Each one connects perfectly to the one before it and the one after it.  Getting them out of order would lead to a derailment!

·       Car 1 – FAITH

o   The first quality mentioned is faith - “make every effort to add to your faith…”

o   The first step in becoming a follower of Jesus is to step out in faith, faith leads the way to everything else

o   Hebrews 11:16 - Without faith it is impossible to please God

o   Why do you think this train is led by faith?

·       Car 2 – GOODNESS

o   We come to God in faith because we know we aren’t good in and of ourselves.

o   The impetus for faith is the conviction we aren’t good and need a savior

o   Romans 3:23 - All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

o   Through faith, God imputes Jesus’ goodness on our behalf

§  Romans 3:22 - This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

·       Car 3 – KNOWLEDGE

o   Through faith we understand we fall short of God’s standard.  By His grace, He counts us as righteous.  But we are still babes in the faith and must now learn from Him.

o   2 Timothy 3:16-17 - "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

o   Before our conversion we grew up learning the world’s instruction.  We need to not just want to do better, we need to learn how to be better and that can only come from the divine revelation found in God’s Word.

·       Car 4 – SELF-DISCIPLINE

o   Now that we are beginning to understand what God would have us do (and NOT do), we need to put it into practice.   

o   James 1:22-25 - Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

o   Titus 2:11-12 - For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 

·       Car 5 – PERSEVERANCE

o   We can all be motivated for a while to try and do better, just look at dieting, working out, or even reading the Bible. It’s when we are weak or tempted to indulge in sin that reveals the measure of a man.

o   Galatians 6:9 – Let us not weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

·       Car 6 – GODLINESS

o   It is said that character is really the sum total of many small decisions over time.   

o   1 Timothy 4:7 – Train yourself for godliness.

o   All of the steps thus far have focused on getting ourselves right with God and preparing ourselves to be of use in His service

·       Car 7 – MUTUAL AFFECTION

o   Now we are ready to show and share God’s love with others in a consistent way that will stand the test of time.

o   Matthew 13:3-8 - Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 

o   John 17:22-23 - I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

·       Car 8 – LOVE

o   John 13:35 - By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

o   John 15:12-17 - My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other.

This world is not our final destination, just a country we are passing through on the way to the Eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  

Monday, August 7, 2023

Bless you!


OK, this post has nothing to do with sneezing but it has everything to do with God blessing you.  Do you want to be blessed by God?  I do!  In 1 Peter 3 there are some Dos and Don’ts that make it very clear on how to be blessed.  What you won’t find though is a lot of religion on the list. What you will find are easy-to-read, hard-to-put-into-practice expectations for a follower of Christ.  With His help, you can be assured God is listening and that He will give you His blessing.


1 Peter 3:9 - Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.


Things to think about:

·       One of the most natural things hurt people often do is to hit back (hopefully harder than they were hit).

o   It might even feel good in the heat of battle

o   Better yet, it might even be defendable – “let me tell you what they did to me!”

·       The only problem with this is that it is diametrically opposed to the example Jesus gave and to God’s law

o   1 Peter 2:23 - When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

o   Matthew 5:38-48 -  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

o    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

o   Wow, that is an extremely high bar set before us.

§  What makes this hard for you to put into action in real life?

§  Have you ever seen someone rise above and model this attitude and behavior?

·       So what should our attitude and behavior look like?

o   1 Peter 3:8 -  Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 

§  Each of these traits honors the other person and should cause us to think less about ourselves and more about other people

§  Which of these qualities do you most admire in other people?

·       In fact, our passage continues in verse 10-12:

For, “Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

o   The Lord is watching and listening, not like a policeman but like the loving Father that He is. 

o   Our calling is to obey His commands.  His desire is to bless you.  The question is - will you let Him?