(Newest ones are last)
|A Firm Foundation|
|Be Rooted in Christ|
|Promises You Can Believe|
|The Final Authority|
|Get Plowed Under|
|In God We Must Trust|
|Why Should the Word Abide in Us?|
|Don't Get Carried Away!|
|Set Memorial Stones|
|Help My Unbelief!|
|Having a Pity Party?|
|Unlearned in the Things of God|
|Study Your Bible|
|Are You Going to Heaven?|
|Foolishness is No Excuse|
|You Have No Excuse|
God loves us more than anyone--even more than we love ourselves. He will guide you in everything you do. All you need to do is ask Him. We don't know what the best decisions are for anything. We are only giving things our best guess. Doesn't it make sense to leave things in the hands of the one who can see the future and who loves you dearly?
Seek God and His opinions. Let Him plow over the fields in your heart and mind. It isn't easy. You have to give Him free reign to plow everything under and replant what might be an entirely new crop!
have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe
|The point we will ponder this week will be the Word abiding in us.
Lets think about the word "abide." When you abide in a house you are living
there, eating there, sleeping there, thinking there, being alive there.
When God's Word abides in us it is being alive in us. It is doing things. It is continuously revealing God's nature to us. It is continuously teaching us, calling us, drawing us closer to God.
How does the Word come to abide in us? How do you come to abide in a house or apartment? You make a conscious effort to move in. To get the Word in us we have to make a conscious effort to read our Bibles. We need to ponder the things in the Bible that touch us. We need to study the Word, discuss it with others, think about it, and read it again.
What does our scripture verse tell us? The people who chose to not believe Jesus didn't recognize Him because the Word didn't abide in them. They missed Jesus because of a decision they had made to NOT study the Word and allow it to take residence in them.
The Word provides us with answers, comfort, wisdom, strength, peace, joy, love, encouragement, direction, and SO MUCH MORE! Another scripture that speaks of the Word abiding in us is in John 15:7: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
It is very difficult to describe what the Word does within if you haven't experienced it yourself. It is as if it is a living, breathing entity.
If you do not have the Word in you then you are susceptible to the lies of the enemy. How do you think that people get drawn into cults? They listen to the teachings of people and don't have the Word within to which to compare what they hear. They fall for the teachings of silver-tongued charismatic people.
If you do not read your Bible and do not have the Word abiding in you then I suppose you have really good reasons why not. No time? (Do you never watch TV or read the newspaper? Do you never read any magazines? All your time is taken up with very important something-or-other??) Can't understand it? Have you asked God to teach you what it says? Have you forced yourself through it? Did you know that the more you read the easier it is to understand?
In order to work in you the Word has to be in you in the first place! It takes time to get it there. There is no other way. Make an effort!
|"That we henceforth be
no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of
doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in
wait to deceive."
How many different denominations are there? How many divisions within
denominations? How many different opinions are there about heaven?
hell? salvation? the Trinity?
Why is that? WHY?
Do you think God planned it that way?
Do you think God wants different people to believe different things about
Him? Do you think He wants us all to be split into different
ideological groups? Does He enjoy seeing His children arguing over who
is right about Him? The answer is
simple. The answer is
Every person has opinions about things. We all have our ideas about God and what He does and doesn't do. Many of our opinions are formed after we are taught something by another person. Perhaps someone we trust and respect has an opinion that we adopted.
I used to trust doctors. That was a big mistake. I had a miscarriage at 23 weeks which might have been prevented had the doctors I had been seeing had paid attention to what I was telling them. They finally listened to me after it was too late to do anything. Just because they went to medical school for bunches of years doesn't mean they take their job and their patients seriously nor does it mean they know what they are doing all of the time.
I used to trust what I read in books in the library. My son did a project that checked into the validity of books. He tried to contact authors to find out if they would change anything if they could. It was almost impossible to find any authors, but those he found had more information they wish they could have added. So, he checked with publishers to find out how they made sure the information in books was factual. They didn't. Even the encyclopedias obtained information based on popular opinion and reported it as fact.
I used to trust pastors. After all, they went to school and studied the Bible for many years. However, they learned a lot about what the Bible means from other people, who learned if from other people, who learned it from..... get the picture? Way back when someone may have come up with a good explanation for a scripture and it got passed on from person to person without anyone questioning it, just like information in encyclopedias. It stays as fact until someone yells loud enough and has enough convincing information to cause people to change their opinions.
So, who has the facts? Who has the truth? There is only one source of truth and that is God. You won't have a clue as to what someone is trying to tell you about the Bible is true or not if you don't read and re-read your Bible on your own! You will be carried away by doctrines.
Some people come up with new doctrines out of greed. They may enjoy the fact that people listen to them and follow them because of their new idea. They may enjoy the money they receive from having a congregation and a following. I know of some well-known cults that were begun that way. There are many many people who are in those cults because they choose to believe what they are being told rather than checking out the truth for themselves.
God didn't write the Bible to be a mystery. He wants us to understand what is in it. He will open our minds as we read so we can understand more and more of it. Each time I read mine I find and understand new things. If we don't immerse ourselves in the Word of God then we are vulnerable to being taken for a ride.
I've heard well-respected pastors taking scripture out of context and preaching on them. People who have read their Bibles for themselves wouldn't be nodding their heads in agreement. I've been to some churches where the pastor made things up and nobody said anything. Do you think that is how a cult or new denomination begins? Do not be as a child and take everything you hear as truth.
People are humans. Many times they cannot differentiate between what they know to be true and what they only believe to be true. Many times theories are taught so many times they are no longer referred to as theories but as fact. Evolution is a good example. How many times have you heard it said that an animal evolved from something?
Warning! Don't be fooled! Take everything you think you know about God right to God, Himself. Make sure that you clear everything through Him. Don't take anything for granted. Don't assume that something is true just because someone throws scripture on top of it. Make sure you are familiar with your Bible so you can recognize false teaching when you hear it. Get a good concordance so you can look words up yourself. Whatever you do, make sure you are not fully reliant on humans to teach you about God! Get your opinions straight from God!
|"And Jacob set up a
pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he
poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon."
Jacob set a memorial pillar of stones at the site where God spoke with Him.
That was also the place where Jacob had the dream of the angels going up and
down the ladder to Heaven. He had placed a memorial there at that time
as well. (Gen 28:10-22) That place was where Jacob was told by
God that the mighty nation promised to Abraham would come through him and
his children. The memorial was set there to remind Jacob of the
promise God gave him.
There are a number of instances where we see memorial stones being set. Many were placed as altars. Noah built an altar when he exited the ark (Gen 8:20). When God promised Abraham the land of Canaan Abraham built an altar (Gen 12:7). Isaac built an altar at the place where God confirmed His promise to Abraham (Gen 26:25). Moses built an altar where God promised him He would defeat their enemy, Amalek (Ex 17:15). Joshua built a memorial when God allowed the Israelites to pass over the Jordan River on dry ground (Josh 4:8).
Another thing that was used as a memorial were the feasts. God told the Israelites to remember something that He had done for them by having a regularly scheduled feast or holiday. (Example: Ex 12:14) (For studies of the feasts see: Index of Feasts.)
We need to apply this principle to our spiritual walk. There are going to be times when we will go through a spiritual desert, a dry place. There are going to be other times when we are going to be under attack by the enemy. We may become ill or we may be bombarded with things that take our focus off of God and off of the job He has for us. It is at times like that we will have a tendency to slide backwards in our spiritual walk. We will begin to question things that we previously had accepted as factual.
We must set a spiritual pile of memorial stones when God gives us a promise or when He brings us to a new level in Him. We need to have numerous memorials set. The first one might be when God proves His existence to us. When we set a memorial at that point then we must not go back and begin to question the existence of God. We don't need to have Him prove Himself again. Often we can't bring to mind how it felt when He proved Himself or maybe we can't even remember the exact thing that proved it to us. We need to be able to go back to the memorial knowing that the proof was good enough for us to have set that spiritual memorial in the first place.
Another memorial might be set when we see the proof that God loves us unconditionally. When God gives us a promise for us or for our children we must set a memorial. You are the only one who will know when it is time to set a spiritual pile of memorial stones.
When times get rough and I am sailing on a sea of spiritual nothingness, I am able to bring up a memorial and stand on it. It isn't necessary for me to remember the details of how I came to that point of placing the memorial. All I have to do is know that it is there. I don't have to explain it to anyone, nor would I be able to explain it if I was asked. It is just for my own spiritual walk. I can stand on that memorial and not slide back any farther.
I often feel like I am standing on a rock in the middle of an ocean without seeing any evidence of land. However, the fact is I am standing on a rock and that rock reminds me that the ocean will recede and I will be restored to the place I was or to a better place.
When we don't feel the presence of God in all the hubbub of life's activities we can stand on the memorial we placed when God proved to us that He is always right by our side. When we are ashamed of ourselves because we strayed off the path that God designed for us we can stand on the memorial that we placed when we discovered that God loves us no matter what. When we don't see any evidence of our being used by God we can stand on the memorial that we placed when He said He would use us.
As it is with spiritual things, the description of this concept of placing memorials is somewhat vague. I can't give specifics for you. God will let you know when it is time to set a memorial. Not only is it up to you to set the memorial but, more importantly, it is up to you to purposefully stand on it when necessary. Believe me, it will become necessary.
Don't waste your time going back and proving the things of God over and over. Don't slide backwards past the memorials you have placed. That way your progress will always be forward. Even when you are standing on that rock out in the middle of nowhere your progress is forward because God is always teaching us as we travel through difficult times. I don't want to waste my time re-learning the things He has already taught me. Do you?
"This I recall to my mind, therefore
have I hope."
|"And Jesus said unto
them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith
as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to
yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto
disciples couldn't cast out a demon in a child because of unbelief.
Adam and Eve chose to not believe God because they wanted to be wise.
Ishmael was a product of Abraham and Sarah's unbelief.
The Israelites melted their jewelry down into a golden calf because of unbelief.
People are not going to heaven because they don't believe in Jesus.
Miracles are being quenched because of unbelief.
Why don't we take God's Word at face value? Why do we put restrictions on it? Why do we choose to believe that there are certain things God will and won't do?
Unbelief of the things of God is a choice generated by our desire to control our own life. It is an easy choice to make because God does not rise up and punish us for it. He stands back and let's us choose what to believe.
Often unbelief comes about because we choose to apply humanity to God. We reason for Him, "He won't do that because it doesn't make any sense." "God said it in the Bible but that isn't what He meant."
Look at all the preachers, books, and denominations that proclaim GOD WILL DO THIS and GOD WON'T DO THAT! Why are there so many different opinions when it clearly says in 1Jo 2:27, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him?"
It is because of unbelief. They often say that God won't speak to us today which means He won't clarify what He wants us to believe about Him and His Word. Many are comfortable in believing what they believe. If they believed that God would actually move a mountain they wouldn't like it. That goes WAY out of their comfort zone!
If we don't develop a personal one-on-one relationship with God then we only hear about the God of other people. Their God becomes our God because we choose to believe what we are taught about Him.
God is hindered by unbelief. He isn't going to force miracles on us. He isn't going to force us to believe in Jesus. He isn't going to force us to do anything.
There is crime in the world because of unbelief. Criminals choose to either believe there is no God and their only punishment will come if they get caught or they don't believe that God will do anything about it.
What we think is belief may actually be unbelief. Let's start a revolution! Let's allow God to show us what to believe! Let's get into our Bibles and allow God to teach us what He wants us to know. Let's open our spiritual eyes and believe that God will do what He wants through us because we choose to allow Him to show us what He will and won't do.
Let's cry out, "...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Mt 9:24
seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let
us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and
let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
|One of my daily devotionals used this scripture and what they said put it
into a new light for me. Now I'm going to share it with you. If
you ever have any thoughts about how bad you have been, or that God must be
very upset with you due to your behavior, or even that God must be
disappointed with you then this study is for you.
We are going to use you as an example since I've already used myself. How many Christians have there been up until now? How many Christians have there been before you? How many of those Christians probably sinned or weren't in God's will during the time they were Christians? How many of them sinned prior to becoming Christians?
OK, so what makes you so special? Why should God be more upset with you than with anyone else? Have you done something that nobody else has done? Why do you think He has singled you out and is more focused on you than anyone else? Don't look now, but you are NOT more special than anyone else in God's eyes!
So, do you feel God is punishing you? Read on to verse 6, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." If He doesn't rebuke you for things you do wrong, then He doesn't love you!
Are you still with me? Let's move to verse 12, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees." It's time to get to work! Don't let anyone see you moping around! God has work for you to do! People are watching... a great cloud of witnesses is watching! It's time to get to work!
Put all that nonsense behind you and start fresh! Have you been at your own Pity Party? Look around you! There are no other guests at your party! Time to take off your sad little party hat and move on!
God is not mad at you! He LOVES you!
|"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in
which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned
and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own
destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things
before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked,
fall from your own stedfastness."
|Peter was referring to letters that Paul wrote which
contained some things hard to understand. He then referred to people
who were unlearned and how they wrestled with those things that were hard to
understand to their own destruction. That doesn't sound good at all,
How would a person go about getting educated enough that they would be able to understand the things that Paul wrote? They would have to learn more about the things of God and the things of Jesus. How does one go about doing that?
The Bible is full of information about God and about Jesus. Both the Old and the New Testaments provide information about them. By reading the Bible we can learn about the things that God has done in the past. We can learn about God's love for mankind. We can learn about God's nature and His intentions.
We can learn about how Jesus was around since the beginning of the world. We can learn about how people struggled with the laws of the Old Testament. There are TONS of things in the Bible that open our understanding about the things of God.
I have been pondering the existence of various religions, cults, and denominations. Why do they exist? Why do people believe so strongly that their opinions about God are the correct ones and the others are all wrong?
It all boils down to individual people and their being unlearned in the things of God. Their minds are open to any doctrines that tickle their fancy or that come from people they respect. When someone who has gone to school to learn about God and to obtain a degree stating they are learned enough to teach about God then they command respect from a lot of people. There are a lot of people who will believe everything that the "learned" person teaches without ever checking to see if it is true.
I examined my own thought processes and wondered how I could have been so open to things about God that were outside the teachings of the churches I was in. Even though I grew up in churches that believed the gifts of the Spirit were not in use today I actually taught about those gifts when I was a Sunday school teacher and believed that people had been given those gifts.
Why was I different? Why was God able to get through to me and not to most of the others? It was because I read my Bible. I read it from cover to cover more than once. I continuously read it and searched through it for answers to questions I had. I did not allow a teacher to be the one to teach me about God. I allowed God to teach me about Himself through His Word, the Bible.
God's Word is a powerful thing! It is alive! It carries the truth inside of every word in it! I have read testimonies of people who realized they were in a cult and got out of it. The way they found out was they began to read their Bible on their own. That's all. Simple, isn't it?
Think about this. How many pastors, preachers, Bible teachers, ministers, deacons, priests, clergymen, etc. have read the Bible completely through over and over while absorbing every word in it without using any other materials that told them what to think about what they read?
Based on the number of religions, cults, and denominations I would say that there are a lot of people who rely solely on other people to teach them the "truth" about God. That includes those that are preparing to become a church leader and teach others. Are you one of those people who obtained your knowledge from teachers? Where did you get your opinions about God? Has God verified that everything you believe about Him is the truth?
This is a serious matter. There are a lot of people who are going to be very surprised when they say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" and Jesus replies, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt 7:22-23)
Again, I repeat, THIS IS A SERIOUS MATTER! We must be filled with the knowledge that is obtained by reading the Bible so that we know what is true and what is false about the things of God. As our scripture says, being unlearned about the things of God is the error of the wicked. We must only rely on God to provide the final truth about Himself. He equips people to teach us, but He expects us to verify everything through Him.
"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. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 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.
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. 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.
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.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no
man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct
him? But we have the mind of Christ."
"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another,
God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us."
This week's lesson is on taking scripture out of context. This is
a good example because we have two sentences that can be plucked out of the
Bible and used to create a doctrine.
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow
is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
When my husband and I go on road trips we listen to audio books. I have
gotten quite an assortment. The ones I like the best I got from
christianbook.com. You can sort them according to price and get some at a
VERY reasonable price.
"Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such
things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them
that do them."
Continuing off of last week's study, I'm going to go into a little more detail.
In my Bible I wrote out the definitions for the words in Romans 1:29-31.
"Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down
by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift
them up again."
Moses brought a whole bunch of laws down from Mt. Sinai. God gave him the
main ones, the Ten Commandments, but He also gave a lot more. As you read
the laws you start to wonder why some things even need to be stated as a law
since it is just common sense or perhaps common decency.
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