Bible Study

June 26, 2009

We had a wonderful time at our first bible study last night and we will continue to have it every Thursday at 6:30 pm. All are welcome. The following are some highlights from last nights study.

John 3:1-8, John 20:21-22, Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalms 42 and 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

These were all scriptures that the Lord had spoken to us individually during the day and when we came together it was beautiful to see how the Lord had fit them all together.

John 3:1-8: Jesus wants us to be converted or born again in the spirit; spirit gives birth to spirit. It is the spirit of a man that needs to change and it is God's spirit that does this miraculous work. If we try to change ourselves in our flesh we will only "give birth" to more fleshly ways.

John 20:21-22: Jesus breathes on his disciples after his Resurrection and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit living within us that changes us and equips us to be sent out to others.

Genesis 2:7: Man is formed but does not come to life until God breathes into him. The Holy Spirit is life to us and we are dead men walking without his presence in our lives.

Ezekiel 37:1-14: God directs Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones to come to life and they assemble themselves but are not living until God directs Ezekiel to prophesy again for the men to be breathed into by God's Spirit. God says in verse 14 that he will "put his spirit in them and they will live..."

It is God that gives us every breath and every breath is his! Without him we can do nothing. He gives us life and he puts us into a position as his children filled with his life to speak to others in need of his spirit so they too can "come to life".

Psalm 42: Here David is panting and thirsting for the living God, the God who gives life and he is being pursued and taunted by the enemy, "Where is your God?" (Vs.3 and 9, 10). The enemy wants to put condemnation upon David but David speaks truth to his soul commanding it to put its hope in God and praise him.

As the deep parts of David cry out to the deep parts of God, spirit to spirit he is refreshed by the waterfalls, waves and breakers of God's love coming upon him. The Spirit of God is the place we need to go to get refreshed and revived. We can be safe from the enemy there.

2 Corinthians 3:1-6: Living under the law kills our spirit because there is no way we can live up to every command but here again the Spirit gives life. God makes us competent to minister to others the new covenant of Christ's blood and when we witness to others our most powerful tool is not that we have all the verses in the bible memorized but our personal testimony, our personal experience with God that no one can argue with or take it away from us.

Revelation 12:11 says "They overcame him (the dragon) by the blood of the Lamb (the new covenant) and by the word of their testimony;.." Our testimony is the only thing we have experienced and therefore the only thing we can bear witness too. But that is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes forth from us when we share our experiences with others!

Always keeping in mind that God is in control and he "sets up" the witnessing situations...we don't have to go looking for them and we can trust him to do so. All we need to be is willing and obedient.

It always has been all about God and it will continue to be all about God!

Feel the Chill, Stoke the Fire!

June 18, 2009

Have you ever noticed how cold the world around us seems to be getting? It seems as though there is very little love in the world, like it’s in short supply. Reading Matthew 24 is like reading the news paper, verse 12 is the verse I woke up thinking about today and it says, “Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (NIV). It was also very interesting to me to read this verse from my Complete Jewish Bible which says, “And many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah (God’s written word).”

Each day seems like an ever increasing battle to fight the chill that wants to paralyze our hearts. Many days we don’t even realize the slow effects of it. The further we get from the word of God the colder we become. The love and word of God are like a cozy fire that melts the icy affects of the circumstances around us.

Our family loves camp fires; we love to sit around a warm fire and share stories and laugh and roast marshmallows. The warmth of the fire seems to bond us together. It is interesting to me the influence that the red-orange glow has on us but even that doesn’t last forever. My husband and son are usually the ones who keep the fire nice and toasty.

It’s almost like they were instinctively made for the job, they know just when to take the poker and stir the fire or when it’s time to add another log or two. If they neglect it, the fire goes out. Our walk with God is much the same. He knows when to take the poker and stir our hearts and he is very good at making the fire hotter!

Although God is skilled at stirring the faith fire that is within us Jude 1:20-21 (NIV) indicates that we have a part in the growth and development of our spirit. It says, “But you, dear friends, build yourself up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

In reading this verse I asked the Lord, “How do I keep myself in your love?” and I heard the word abide (from KJV) and instantly thought about John chapter 15:1-13. What does it mean to “abide”? The Greek word used in this scripture is “Meno” meaning…

to remain, abide
in reference to place
to sojourn, tarry
not to depart
to continue to be present
to be held, kept, continually
in reference to time
to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure
of persons, to survive, live
in reference to state or condition
to remain as one, not to become another or different
to wait for, await one

So, now I saw what I must do but how? How do these instructions make it from words written on a page into real life? Into my life? How do you live life going to work or doing the things that life requires and yet never leave the Lord’s presence?

Jude 1 gives us a clue to this question. Who is it that is the golden thread throughout the New Testament? He does his work from the background, intricately working behind the scenes to accomplish the will of God through man. He is the Holy Spirit. He is the one who keeps us on track and fellowships with us every minute of every day.

There are many verses that reveal his invaluable part in our lives such as: John 14:26, Acts 1:8, Acts 9:31, Acts 10:38, Romans 5:5, Romans 14:17, Romans 15:13 and so on.

All throughout the New Testament his name and workings in the human heart are testified to and we won’t get far without his presence in our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reveals to us that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us but how does he get there? Luke 11:13 gives us this answer directly from the mouth of our Lord… “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So, if we ask God, we will receive from God the Holy Spirit and he will cause us to remain or abide in God which we so desperately need to stoke the fire of God’s love in our hearts to keep us burning brightly for his glory until the end!

Thank you, God, for your provision for all who call upon your name and receive salvation from your son Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit, that you teach us all things, keep us abiding in the vine and keep the fire of God’s love burning warmly in our hearts. Thank you, Jesus for bringing us salvation through the shedding of your blood on the cross and for baptizing us with the Holy Spirit so that we can endure to the end. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!

THOSE People!

June 15, 2009

Acts chapter 10, Acts chapter 10, Acts chapter 10…it seems that every time I go to read the Word lately that is where I am. What is it about Acts 10 that the Lord is trying to get through my head to my heart? This morning I was reading it in my Complete Jewish Bible version trying to get some insight and I came upon a verse that spoke loudly to me.

First, let me give you some background as to what Acts 10 is about. A Roman army officer named Cornelius who was a God fearing man and who was generous to the poor is in prayer one day and he is visited by an angel. The angel tells Cornelius that his prayers and gifts to the poor have come before God as an offering.

The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter who is staying by the sea at the home of a friend. So Cornelius sends some guys to get Peter and bring him back to his house and in the meantime Peter has a vision. In the vision, he sees a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of animals that good Jewish boys definitely do not eat and Peter is told to kill and eat the animals.

Peter says to God in verse 14, “No sir! Absolutely Not! I have never eaten food that was unclean or treif.” (Treif is literally “torn” since meat torn by wild animals is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws, treif means by extension “non-kosher”)(CJBV Glossary of Terms section)

Anyway, just about the time Peter is completely puzzled about what this vision means the men whom Cornelius has sent arrive where Peter is staying and God tells him it’s okay to go with them.

The fellows stay as Peter’s guests for the night and in the morning they and some other followers of Christ head for Cornelius’ house. When they arrive Peter is greeted and here we are to my point…thanks for hanging in there with me…

Peter says in verse 27-28 “As he talked with him, Kefa (Peter) went inside and found many people gathered. He said to them, “You are well aware that for a man who is a Jew to have close association with someone who belongs to another people, or to come and visit him, is something that just isn’t done.

But God has shown me not to call any person common or unclean….” God was breaking down division walls between the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) in the mind of Peter. Those last few words struck my heart.

God is challenging me to look at every individual in a different light, in a way that he views us. So many times, I think that we as followers of Jesus don’t get what he was all about. We find ourselves in a position much like Peter, in that, we don’t associate with “THOSE” kind of people whomever they may be.

As I’m writing, I’m thinking about a lady who was tending a cash register at a store in which I was in line to purchase something recently. There were several men of a certain nationality standing in the line with me and the cashier was of another nationality and after the men purchased their items and left she said to me something about “THOSE people.”

I was floored and it seemed strange to me that she would say something like that being of a certain nationality that other nationalities say “THOSE people” about. Are you totally confused or do you get my point?

I am sure at one point or another in the cashier’s life she had been discriminated against and yet she stood and did the same to another nationality that her nationality was prejudice against. I hope I haven’t confused anyone…maybe this will help, God’s word always has a way of making things clear.

Genesis 1:26-28 “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in or image, in the likeness of ourselves ;…( vs. 27) So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them…. (vs 28)God blessed them: God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it….”

So God created us all in his image and we all came as a result of God blessing us. We all have fears and reservations we have been taught about each other through our grandparents and parents and their parents and it goes on and on, but I am confident that the prejudices and traditions I have acquired through my family and my own experiences concerning other nationalities must be eliminated from my heart because we are all created in God’s image.

God wanted Peter not to look at anyone and say they were common or unclean, this was a stretch for him I’m sure but I’m glad that he trusted God and overcame his fears and the traditions of his people so that we (the Gentiles) might know Jesus, the Messiah, the Way to Salvation.

Now, because we are all learning how to live this new life Christ has given us there is no need for condemnation but there is a need for repentance. Father, I acknowledge and I repent for walking in fear where people of different customs and nationalities other than my own are concerned.

Break down the walls and traditions of my people that are in my heart, let your perfect love come and cast out all my fears. Help me to begin to see what you see in people, help me to see your image and treat every life as precious and uncommon. Give me the ability to discern the hearts of people and treat them as you would. Let your peace rule and reign in my heart by faith. In Jesus name, Amen.

What is God thinking?

June 10, 2009

What does God think about? Have you ever wondered? Today I did a study on the word “thoughts”. I wanted to know what the word had to say about this subject and I came across many verses that pertained to the thoughts of God and what he knows about the thoughts of man.

Psalms 92:5 (Complete Jewish Bible version- CJBV) says, “How great your deeds, Adonai! How very deep your thoughts.

Psalms 94:11 shows us what God knows about the thoughts of people… "Adonai understands that people’s thoughts are merely a puff of wind.” This verse really puts us thinkers in our place! We think we’re so smart :).

As I read Psalms 139 I realized how much he thinks and knows about us, he knows when we sit and stand, he knows our thoughts and is familiar with our ways. He knows the words we will speak and he protects us on every side.

There is no where we can go to get away from God; He is everywhere, all the time. He is the one who put us together in our mother’s womb, scripture says. He viewed us as we were being formed and nothing is a secret with God.

This verse blew my mind (Ps 139:16)(CJBV) “Your eyes could see me as an embryo, but in your book all my days were already written; my days had been shaped before any of them existed.” Wow, this says he saw me as a “clump of tissue” as some would say and yet every day that “clump of tissue” would live was written and shaped before any of them even existed.

It sounds as if an embryo is something more sacred to God than just a mass of cells stuck together. God cares so much about the embryo that he has already written and shaped every day that child will live before any of those days have been lived.

As I think about my life, if every day has already written and shaped specifically for me, why do I worry about doing something right or wrong with the day I’ve been given? Hasn’t it all been laid out for me in perfect order just as God has ordained? No wonder he doesn’t want his children to worry.

What really blows my mind is to think that Danni’s life was also written and shaped.

I find it strange how I began this with the thoughts of God and have come to this point. Every day I get up and think about what I will do in that day but according to this scripture, God thinks differently.

What if I would start to see things God’s way? What if I would stop worrying about the events of the day to come and just rest in the fact that he has every day predetermined and well within his control?

I agree with Isaiah 55:8-9 that says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways,” says Adonai. “As high as the sky is above the earth are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God sees everything and thinks about things in a completely different way than we do.

Amos 4:13 proclaims “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man…” He reveals his thoughts to us.

Job 12:22 says “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light” and again in Daniel 2:22 “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” So nothing is made known to us except what God shows us. No one has a corner on God and if we care to know his thoughts he will show us.

Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

These are words of truth that can be relied upon. God knows all and sees all and if you are his child and you ask he will take you into his confidence revealing his very thoughts to you. How else could David say in Psalms 139:17 “How precious are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

God is not shy about giving his opinion or sharing his thoughts! Trust in his character and his word, he will always be true to them. He will speak to you if you are patient and willing to listen.

Lord, open our eyes and ears to hear you clearly. Help us not to block the things we don’t want to hear. Now more than ever we need to hear your voice and we say as Samuel did in 1Samuel 3:10, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Amen.

Remembering Danni

June 8, 2009

Today, I sit in the silence of my living room with the hum of the refrigerator in the background in a beautiful breeze blowing from the front to the back of the house and I’m thinking about Danni’s life. She was so strong and beautiful even to the end. How did she develop into such a wonderful creature?

I can’t believe that it has been more than six months since she went on to be with the Lord. Recently, we have shared many memories of her as a family. It is interesting to see the things that trigger such memories. Something as simple as eating a certain way or a look on my daughter’s face can remind us of the silly things she used to do.

Jessi, my daughter, can imitate Danni’s “T-Rex” dance to a tee! She would sit in her wheelchair and sway her head from side to side while punching out her arms. Though it’s hard to describe believe me when I say it brings a smile to my face. Danni just found other ways to do the things she wanted to do.

She was so sweet; I have so many fond thoughts about her. I thank God for experiences with her that can never be erased or taken from me. Some days I forget how precious life is. Circumstances take over and I don’t live every day to the fullest as I should. God forgive me.

I have days where self-pity takes the day and it is then when God reminds me that I have not suffered unto blood. (Hebrews 12:4) Self-pity is too expensive, I can’t afford it. Danni didn’t pity herself in all she suffered. She wouldn’ t allow me to feel sorry for her either. Whenever I would say that I was sorry she had to go through this she would say, “why, it’s not your fault.”

I was writing a speech I’ve been asked to give for the Relay for Life organization in Lagrange Indiana this weekend and I was reminded of her words when she was asked what she had learned from all she had been through. Her answer was, “Trust God and never give up.” This had to come from the Spirit of God within her. The human in us, our old nature, sits in our stuff and wallows.

Her mental attitude was more than half the battle, it was everything. God kept her strong and helped her to see clearly. What an awesome gift! God doesn’t leave us alone during our times of tribulation but he is there by our side waiting for us to reach out to him.
My prayer is that I can withstand the rest of life’s challenges and tests as she did with grace and dignity, humor and humility. God’s work in her life was simply remarkable. God is real and his word really works we just have to believe it. God even equips us to do what pleases him. (Hebrews 13:21 and Philippians 2:13)

I think this pep talk is mostly for my benefit today, sometimes you have to build yourself up in your faith, and give yourself a talking to! It’s a good to remind yourself who God is and what he has done!
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Need or Want?

June 3, 2009

What is it about the human condition that we always think we need more? We are never satisfied with the provision that God supplies. Our van is old and has over 170,000 miles on it but it still runs good and yet we’ve been looking at newer vehicles.

It seems like everywhere you turn these days there are car ads like liquidations!, blowouts!, everything must go! People are in debt up to their eyeballs and it seems like more debt is being thrust upon them. Car makers themselves are going bankrupt because they are overextended and their goal is to dump their debt on to the American public.

It may just be the crazy way I think but I wonder if Jesus was tempted to have the newest horse and chariot in his day. When Jesus wanted to go to the nearest town he was hoofing it. Maybe for him it was just the newest pair of sandals.

It says in Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin.” So according to this scripture I could conclude that he was tempted in this manner.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a new or used vehicle if you need one but I’m not sure we do. Even Atlee said to me the other day, “I’m not sure we need a new car.” What a bright boy and he is only eleven years old! Maybe we’ll take his advice and wait until our old one dies.

So what is the root of all temptation? Where does this stuff come from? 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

Isn’t it amazing the things we do to please our stomach, our eyes and our egos? We will go to great lengths working endless hours on the job to give ourselves and our kids a better life than what our parents had but is it so much better? I’m sure if we asked our children they would rather have less stuff and more time with us.

Yesterday I went to see a lady in our community who is dying of cancer and it reminded me so much of Danni and her last days on this earth. I was amazed again at what is important in life. As she lay there on her death bed it wasn’t things she needed to make herself look “cool”, it wasn’t cars or beauty or all the trappings of this life.

She just needed Jesus and nothing more.

I love how God has a way of putting things into perspective for me. Lord, I thank you for shedding your light on my heart. Please quiet the distractions in this life that I may have that which is most needed…You.