Sunday, November 12, 2017

How Believers Draw Near to God

Part of our Sunday School lesson today. Good stuff! All Scripture from the ESV (English Standard Bible) Bible.

Hebrews 10:19-23

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)

1. With a true heart (provided with the help of the Holy Spirit)
John 4: 23  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

2. With full assurance of faith
Ephesians 3:11-12 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

3. With our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
Hebrews 9:13-14 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

4. With our bodies washed with pure water
John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Ephesians 5:26 that he might sanctify her (the church), having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….  The Word of God cleanses our minds, hearts, souls, and spirits.  Glory to God!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Taking God At His Word

First posted 12/15/2015

Just wanted to say a little bit more about the memory verse I've chosen for the next two weeks. Jeremiah 15:16 "Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by your name, O LORD God of hosts."

This verse is among so many that have personal meaning for me. It was God's Word that wooed me to Him so that He could heal my broken mind, knit my shredded soul back together, revive my spirit. I don't know what I expected 11 years ago when I entered my first indepth Bible study after a two-year absence from church. I only knew I was desperate to be free of the panic attacks, the insomnia, the torment of racing thoughts instilling fear and doubt and self-condemnation in me. Two years of trying medications, cognitive therapy, counseling, deep-breathing, reading self-help books and still the panic attacks kept coming. When no one and nothing else could help--that was just the right time for God to step in. He left no doubt that He and He alone was my Savior and my Deliverer.

"Your words were found and I ate them and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart...." Words like "Do not fear, for I am with you;" "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you;" "I have loved you with an everlasting love;" "for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future;" "In this world you will have trouble, but do not fear, I have overcome the world;" "and lo, I am with you always;" "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;" "Come to me;" "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid;" "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;" "You are mine;" "then you will come and pray to me and I will listen to you" "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust;" "under His wings you will find refuge;" "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ;" "Every hair on your head is numbered;" "you are worth more;" "you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world" "that we should be called the children of God, and that is what we are!" "I am my Beloved's;" "Remain in me;" "without me you can do nothing;" "to Him who loves us;" "You believe in God, believe also in me;" "I have come that they might have life, and life more abundantly;" "His divine power has given us everything we need;" "and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus;" "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you;" "For you did not receive a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind;" "God himself will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you;" "I am the Good Shepherd;" "The Lord is my Shepherd;" "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me;" "The LORD will fight for you;" "Do not fear;" "Do not be afraid;" "Where does my help come from, my help comes from the LORD;""save me, I am yours;" "help me my unbelief!" "come, Lord Jesus."

Taking God at His word will transform your mind, your heart, your soul, your life. It has nothing to do with who you are, what you've done, where you've been. It's all about Jesus Christ. His love, His forgiveness, His grace, His power, His salvation, His faithfulness, His trustworthiness. I am so thankful He didn't wait for me to get my act together before He saved me. I was an absolute mess. But deliverance is God's specialty. "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. For he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron." (Ps. 107)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Facing the Facts

As part of our Believing God homework, we're to read Romans 4 twenty times before the end of the study. I read it for the 10th time this morning. The words "he faced the fact" stood out to me, as if I'd never seen them the other 9 times. "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he "faced the fact" that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

I was reminded that when we are believing God for something He told us He would do, we aren't denying reality. We aren't living in a fool's paradise. Believing God means looking our struggles right in the eye and saying "Yes, but God said to me...."--several times a day if necessary. The thing is not to arbitrarily pick a promise and believe God for it without involving God in the process. Our struggles and weaknesses are opportunities to seek God's face and heart. Once we hear from Him, we can be like Abraham and be fully persuaded that God has power to do what He has said to us; we can be strengthened in our faith and give God the glory even while facing the facts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Changing Seasons

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,summer and winter,day and night will never cease.” Gen. 8:22. NIV Life Application Study Bible note says this means there will always be changing seasons. My backyard is beginning to show proof of autumn. God's covenant endures.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Lord Is With You Wherever You Go

Joshua 1:5, 7, 9

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous.... Be strong and very courageous.... Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I need to know that the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go. Because God tells me Himself through His Word that I am not alone, I have peace. I can cope. I can be confident that I don't have to face my problems, trials, sufferings, alone. When I read these verses, I hear the tenderness and compassion in His voice. What an awesome Father we have. So merciful. So loving. Ready to help us as we step out in faith to do His will. I always read and reread verses until they make it passed the anxious thoughts and settle deep into my heart. God's Word goes right to the fearful places and is like a soothing balm to my soul. It refreshes, restores, renews (resets) my mind. God's Word is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword it penetrates, dividing soul and spirit. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12) Thank you, Lord, for the truth in your Word!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Delayed Obedience

Jesus made a wonderful point (among many) in this passage that I overlooked until today; We get grace along with our second chances.

Matthew 21:28-32-- “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him."

The tax collectors and the prostitutes (aka sinners) lived in disobedience to God but when they changed their minds and believed, they were accepted and forgiven. They weren't given a lecture about taking so long to get it right--they were accepted and forgiven. I think we often lose patience with believers and unbelievers alike because we want them to get their act together NOW. Jesus illustrated in this passage that the main thing is not the delay in obeying, but the change of mind and heart. That's the grace of God. He acknowledges and welcomes that change of mind and heart without condemnation. Neither should we condemn.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Lord Bears Us Up

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Ps. 68:19, ESV

May you begin this day believing God will bear you up. You are not alone. You don't have to stand in your own strength. Lean on Him. He will sustain you. Sometimes I forget this. This morning I was reminded to thank and praise God, my heavenly Father, for always bearing me up.