Tag Archives: life

Reflections: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I normally don’t spend a lot of time in front of the mirror.  Even when I do to shave or brush my teeth, I take little time out of my day to really look.  But today was different.  I paused and took a long, hard look because today, I am forty-two years old.

Forty-two years ago today, God chose to bring me into this world.  He did so with a plan, a purpose for this boy born six weeks pre-maturely on October third in Covington, Ky.  As I looked at the face staring back at me, sifting through the memories that accumulate, I realized God’s plan would have involved few of the things I had said or done in that time.  Of course, you can argue the experience factor: all the things I have done have molded me, for better or worse, into the man I am today.  And without the Holy Spirit to guide my conscience, I wouldn’t care about the manipulative or hurtful words spoken in anger or haste in the first half of my life.  I could chalk my life up to…well…life, and go on with my day.  But there is something more going on here.  God knows all things, He is God.  Yet He still brought me into this world knowing I would fail Him time and time again.

In fact, as I reflected, I realized that was the one thing I have done with spectacular success.

But God is also patient.  From this day in 1970, He looked ahead 9 years to when I would accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  He knew I would understand the basics of salvation, but it would not be enough to keep me from being overwhelmed by the “eye candy” of this world.  He saw the day 24 years later when I would quietly and prayerfully give my life completely to Him.  He knew the day would come when I said, “Whatever you want, wherever you want me, whenever you’re ready; I’m in.”  I guess I needed the experiences, but only because I didn’t pay attention.  You see, I was brought up in a good, loving Christian home.  I was taken to church every week.  I heard the Word of God; I heard the Gospel, but I didn’t listen too closely.  He gave me every opportunity to be shielded from this world, but I sat oblivious to what was really being said and what was really at stake.

There is still too much of me in the mirror.

As I look at the man in the mirror, I see grace and love.  Not mine, of course, but God’s.  The world should look at me as I am now and see Jesus Christ…but they don’t.  I know there is still too much of me in the mirror.  But He isn’t done yet…not by a long-shot.  The first half of my life I spent a lot of time and energy getting in the way.  I wonder what I’ll see in another forty years as I spend all of my time and energy trying to stay out of His way?

Article by C.S. Depew

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Enjoying Your Bible

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  Psalm 19:8a, 10; John 15:11

Is your Bible a like a desert (dry, boring) or like a dessert (sweet, satisfying)?  The Bible compares itself to food – and, considering the average American’s fetish with junk food, I’m not so sure that’s a good comparison.  Most of the time, good food isn’t really good – if you know what I mean.  We have to choose between good and good-for-us.  But the Author would have you have your cake and eat it too (spiritually speaking).  He desires to fill you with joy through His Words.

People don’t enjoy their Bible because they don’t __________________ it!  What’s your guess?  Because they don’t read it, understand it, obey it?  Or is the answer deeper… because they don’t treasure it?  Truth is, there’s not an easy, cookie-cutter answer to this question.  It’s different for each person.  Keep reading to find out your answer.

God’s Words are LIFE

In every realm, God’s Words are life: the natural, the physical, & the spiritual. In every form that God’s Word has taken, it is life: the uttered word, the Word made flesh, the Word recorded in Scripture.  We were created by His Word (Hebrews 11:3).  We are redeemed by His Word (James 1:18).  We are sustained by His Word (Hebrews 1:3).  We live by His Word (Matthew 4:4).  In case you don’t get what I’m trying to say, God’s Word is the most powerful thing in the known universe.  It’s more potent than the U.S.S.R.’s Big Ivan Bomb–a multistage hydrogen bomb (which contains 5.4 yottawatts –approximately 1.4% of the power output of the sun — with a blast more than 10x’s greater than all of WW2′s munitions combined).  It’s more powerful than the Great Chilean earthquake of 1960 that registered a whopping 9.5 on the Richter scale.  In fact, these things don’t even compare to the power of the Word of God!

The Bible Fuels your Joy

True joy has faith at it’s core – and there’s no real faith without God’s Word (John 20:31 & Romans 15:13).  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and where the Bible goes, so goes the Spirit (Romans 8:5).  Hope and comfort come from the Scriptures (Romans 15:4).  Joy is found in a freedom that many on death row have experienced (John 8:32).  Peace and assurance of God’s great control fuels joy in the midst of difficulty (Ps. 119:50,52; 1 John 5:13).  Find joy in the Bible’s wisdom (Prov. 3:13) and in the victory it guarantees (1 John 2:14).

Learning How to Enjoy Your Bible More…

George Mueller is a great example of the ‘blessed man’ of Psalm 1:1-3.  He determined that his happiness would be in first seeking ‘soul nourishment’ by reading, pondering, and living-out the Word of God.

  • Increased Bible INTAKE … reading / listening to it.  How often does the Bible enter your heart (through your eyes and ears)?  It will not affect you by osmosis!  I’ve been encouraged the last two weeks to hear of three church members who have been making time to read their Bibles at work during down- and break-times.  Many others have already chosen to use their commute times to listen to the Bible (CD/iPod).
  • Increased Bible INTERACTION … meditating / talking about it.  Is the Bible becoming a part of your soul (thoughts and emotions)?  It takes time to digest its nutrients.  This simple step of reviewing what you’ve read a couple of times a day will allow the nuclear energy of the Bible to radiate into your soul and amplify the Bible’s meaning exponentially in your life!  But don’t just keep it in… talk about it with others.  Ask questions about it.  Tweet about it.  (This is why small group study is so important!)
  • Increased Bible INTEGRATION … obeying / applying it.  The Bible was never meant to be a textbook or fact-book to be learned.  It is God’s message of hope and salvation meant to be lived.  Real Christianity (religion) happens when His Words come out of you, when you ‘Just Do It.’ (see James 1:25-27).  God’s Word will change you from the inside out if you allow it.

Is your heart set to intake, interact, & integrate God’s Word into your life?

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.  Ezra 7:10

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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No Fruit, No Life

When we think of the life and ministry of Jesus, we always assume that he is talking to the multitudes. However, some of the most powerful truths that our Lord ever shared was among His most trusted and beloved friends. The entirety of John 14-17 is Jesus speaking in the upper room to His disciples; mere hours away from being taken captive and eventually crucified.

No Fruit is a sure sign of NO LIFE!

John 15 houses one of the “I AM” statements from Jesus’ ministry. In addition to being The Door, The Way, and the Resurrection, Jesus here said that He is the TRUE VINE. He paints the picture in wonderful imagery showing that He alone is the life-giving blood to the believer. Without Him pumping life through you, YOU DRY UP AND DIE!

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. – John 15:1-5

What He goes on to say is a powerful truth many people do not grasp the depth of:

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. – John 15:6-8

In a sense, what He is saying is that if there is no fruit being produced from you, the branch, that means that there is NO LIFE in that branch. So what should you be producing? The Bible clearly shows through the New Testament the types of fruit that we should produce. Not everyone will produce the same amount, but everyone should PRODUCE! Let’s quickly take a look at them:

Fruit of the LORD – If you plant apples, you get naturally will produce apples. So goes the thought of a Christian: Christian’s should produce Christians!

 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. – Romans 1:13

Fruit of our LIFE – Your lifestyle should mirror the fruits of Spirit.

 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) – Ephesians 5:9

Fruit of our LIPS – The Psalmist, David was known for His praise of God. We should always have SOMETHING to praise Him for. I always say, if you woke up and had nothing to be thankful for, go back to bed and try again!

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. – Hebrews 13:15

Fruit of our LOOT – God considers our sacrificial giving towards His work as fruit!

Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. – Philippians 4:15-18

As stated earlier, not everyone will produce a plentiful amount of each, but everyone should be producing something!
No Fruit, No Life … 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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