Humans have legitimate reasons to live in fear—our world has many dangers. But although our environment is frightening, Christians are not to accept fear as a way of life. God's awesome promises allow us to live peacefully in our surroundings.
We all face key moments of decision, when our actions can lead to lasting consequences. The issue is, will you be ready when such a time comes?
Believers who feel frustrated by the Christian life lack two critical pieces of knowledge: an understanding of God's will and an awareness of the steps to discover His plan for our lives. Over the next couple of days, we will study the nature of God's intentions and how to access them.2 comments
Yesterday we looked at the various ways people approach God's Word. If you assessed how you listen to His instructions and determined there's room for improvement, be encouraged—that realization is the first step toward becoming more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Now, commit to . . .
Though it contains essential information for every human life, people approach the Bible very differently. Today's passage identifies four types of listeners:
Sin is a divider. That's what separated mankind from the Lord in the garden, and it has been fracturing relationships ever since. It's also the reason that God considers reconciliation so important. He wants to re-establish an intimate relationship with fallen humanity. But His desires for His children don't end with their salvation experience. He also wants His church to be a shining example of unity for all to see.
Nicodemus would probably be welcome at any church today. He seems like an ideal member—principled, knowledgeable, morally upstanding, courteous, and humble. However, Nicodemus had two big problems despite all of that outward religious appeal: first, he was blind to the truth, and second, he was spiritually dead.
Like the father of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father will not force us to remain with Him. If we ignore His guiding Holy Spirit and insist on following an ungodly path, He'll let us go our own way. Examining the parable, we learn what happens if we move outside of God's plan.
Have you ever heard a testimony from someone who has been through a horrible tragedy? We tend to pay very close attention to such accounts because the person involved has witnessed firsthand God's faithfulness and power to restore a broken life.
"It's not my fault" is a prevalent attitude in our culture. To avoid responsibility for their own actions, people blame others: "I wouldn't yell at my kids so much if my own mother had loved me more" or "I wouldn't speak unkindly about my boss if he showed me some respect." Resentment wells up until the victim is blind to everything except how his life is impacted by someone else's hurtful deeds. Then casting blame is easy. But God has a challenge for believers: Forgive those who wound you.
Shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus told His followers to pray in His name—in other words, to make requests according to His will. He pointed out that power is attached to prayer offered this way: "The Father will give you whatever you ask in My name"
No matter where you are in your walk with Christ, it's never too late to begin pursuing a deeper relationship with Him. Whether you're already passionate about Jesus or know Him only on a surface level, everyone is welcome to join Paul and "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14)
For Christians, it's fairly simple to notice other people filling their God-shaped void with all the wrong things. It's much harder, though, to see that same error in our own redeemed lives. We all too easily get busy for God—serving, singing, teaching, preaching, and going to the mission field.
The manger scene captures one of the most pivotal moments in history. But when we see a Nativity, we often forget the long road that led there—not simply the wearying trip Joseph and Mary took to be counted in the census, but also the trail blazed through history by conquering rulers and displaced peoples. As countries erupted into political turmoil or arose with new ideals, God was carving a path to the Holy Land, the perfect cradle for the Messiah.
Imagine standing by a pool, watching your children get ready to swim. The youngest asks you to hold something—a dirty plastic pail. The oldest makes a similar request, and then hands you an heirloom opal necklace that had been her grandmother's. Most likely, you wouldn't worry too much about protecting the toy, but you'd probably guard the jewelry with great care. The way we handle a possession reveals the value we attach to it.