Good News for Christians

Worldview 3  For the Christian, I think one of the most important verses in the entire New Testament is Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” The reason for this is that we are not saved just so we can continue living, breathing, and thinking like we always have. We are saved for a purpose and with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit our discernment and understanding grow and we experience radical change in our attitudes and our thinking. In other words, the Christian life is a life of transformation.

Paul instructs us, in his letter to the Philippians: “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12,13) And again we are taught: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) There are plenty of Bible verses with similar messages, the bottom line of which is the call to be more than just saved, we are to be disciples, living to serve and to please God.

One of the most important transformations we undergo, as Christians, is in the area of our worldview. A worldview is the way we understand the world around us. If you have watched the evening news, read a newspaper, or surfed on-line news sources within the last few years, then you probably have heard the term and are aware that there are a few competing worldviews out there. But whether or not you have given much thought to your worldview; you can be confident in one thing: everyone has one.

Prior to becoming a Christian, my worldview would have been most closely associated with what is called “secular humanism”. Secular humanism is most easily defined as the worldview in which humans are the primary source of our values and understanding of the world. It is the worldview that is presented in public schools, certain science journals, and so on. Many new Christians may hold on to this worldview at first, but as we study God’s Word, get involved in our churches, and experience the power of the Holy Spirit, God starts to transform our thinking and we begin to understand differently. We start to be transformed.

The Christian worldview, of course, is quite different from the humanist view and that of other religions. Space in this blog doesn’t allow me to dig to deeply into all the facts and information on the Christian worldview, but at the bottom you will find some links to assist you with further study. For now, I would like to address four basic areas in which our worldview is so very vital. Again, due to space constraints, I can only present a basic overview here. There is much more information available by clicking the links at the bottom.

1) Origins

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Human beings are a special creation of God, in his likeness, with special purpose and special relationship to our Creator. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) We are created beings and not the result of evolution from some primordial ooze or lower life form. It is only when we understand our true origin that we understand the special value that human life has and we comprehend that we are much more than the result of random molecular mutations. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31)

2) Purpose

So we are God’s special creation and, therefore, we must have purpose. But just what is that purpose? Simply put, our primary purpose is to glorify God.  We see this in many verses but I’ll just list a few of my favorites:

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority.” (Psalm 8:4-6)

“Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

“So that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.” (Romans 1:5b)

“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (Ephesians 1:14)

It is our status as God’s special creation and this purpose that highlights the inherent value in human life.

3) Morality

This is the area that is maybe the easiest to understand in concept, but often is the hardest to fully embrace in practice. The concept: that God created us and everything around us so, therefore, he establishes the rules, is clear enough. But the Bible is chock full of examples of disobedience, which should tell us something about the difficulty of obedience. Still, lack of obedience does not disqualify truth. Nor do our opinions about the rules.

In the secular worldview, society makes the rules; there is no eternity to consider and no true higher authority, so we are free to do whatever we feel is right. The rules society sets for itself are always subject to change based on the whims of the majority, or the minority if they have garnered for themselves enough power. There are no absolutes and no absolute authority.

In the Christian worldview, however, we have the Bible as our absolute authority, and we have a Living God as the ultimate judge. God made the rules and, like a loving parent, he established them in accordance with his purpose for us and to provide the best chance for our happiness. Psalm 119 speaks of living by God’s commandments; verses 1 & 2 say: “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.”

The bottom line: Joyful are those who follow God’s instruction!

4) Destiny

Christians realize they are sinners and believe there is a God who will judge the world and, therefore, they recognize people are without hope apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1 says: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” The eternal destiny of the forgiven is, perhaps, the first element of a Christian worldview that a Christian grasps. And we understand the opposite is also true; those who do not have Christ are perishing. As it is written in 1 John 5:12: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.”

This is why Jesus gave us the great commission (ie: Matthew 28:16-20). And it is why growing in our understanding and worldview is so vital. Because “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15) Understanding the Christian worldview is important to being prepared to share our faith. And when we share our faith and live in obedience to Him; we fulfill our purpose of glorifying God. The truly good news for Christians is that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to drive our desire to grow in our Christ-likeness and to give us discernment. And our understanding of the Christian worldview is certainly one barometer of our growth!

If you have not yet made the decision to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, I appreciate that you have read this far. And since you have, why not make this the moment you claim the promise of Romans 8:1 and have all your sins forgiven. Just open your heart and talk to God, confess your wrongs, and ask his forgiveness. For… ”If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

For those of you wanting to know more about the Christian worldview, here are some resources:

Answers in Genesis

J Warner Wallace

Institute for Creation Research

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

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An Honest Man

scales-36417_960_720 Among the impressive sites we saw on our recent trip to Arkansas is a magnolia tree that was planted 178 years ago. Located in Historic Washington State Park in Arkansas, the magnolia tree is so large it now occupies an area almost as large as the entire yard upon which sits your average home. The branches arch down to the ground and back upwards, forming a large canopy under which you could easily park your car. After nearly two centuries, it’s a really big tree – the oldest known to exist in Arkansas.

But that is not all we found in Historic Washington State Park. The park encompasses the entire town of Washington, Arkansas; a town of specific significance in our country’s history. For one, it is blacksmith James Black who made the first Bowie Knife. While there is some controversy surrounding the accuracy of this claim, Black’s knives are prized by collectors and to this day the American Bladesmith Society maintains a knife making college at the site. Secondly, Historic Washington was the Confederate State Capital of Arkansas from 1863-1865.

With my brother-in-law, Steve, as our knowledgeable guide, we toured the town and the many well-preserved and reconstructed buildings found there. While space doesn’t allow me to recite the full list of buildings, I will say that they include a recreation of James Black’s blacksmith shop, the old courthouse, circa 1874, that contains some truly gorgeous wood work and a museum, the Royston log house, and the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum. There is also the oldest Methodist church in Arkansas and Williams Tavern, which is now a restaurant offering excellent food at very reasonable prices (including genuine southern style cornbread).

Among the things we saw was Pioneer Cemetery, which contains graves dating back as far as the Revolutionary War, but mostly is the final home to many of Washington’s earliest settlers. Among them, we found Ephraim Mirick and his wife, Mary (Belcher) Mirick. Now that big old magnolia tree was just a sapling when Ephraim and Mary were in their prime. Through a little research I found that Ephraim was a respected trader and land speculator who helped establish some of the trade routes in the area, especially between Camden and Washington, a portion of this route still exists as Nevada County Road 10. What most caught my interest about Ephraim and Mary Mirick, however, wasn’t the historical facts about them that I found, but the sayings preserved for all time on their respective grave markers.

Ephraim’s stone has the scales of justice on top and the words “an honest man” engraved on the bottom while Mary’s has the Bible on the top and the words “a Christian” on the bottom. Both epitaphs convey a decidedly positive message about the individual, but while being an honest man is certainly a good thing, it tells us nothing about Ephraim’s eternal fate. Mary’s, on the other hand, tells us all we need to know. She was a Christian and “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Mary as a Christian and we know that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So we know on October 7, 1877 at age 71 she entered the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ephraim’s fate, on the other hand, remains a mystery to us. We simply do not know. For the truth is, while people thought well-enough of him to inscribe “an honest man” on his stone, the Bible tells us we simply cannot be good enough to get into heaven based on how we lived our lives. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) The great prophet Isaiah said it this way, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6) So old Ephraim may very well have been an honest man, he may have been generous and kind to many, but we know from Scripture that even the best of us have sinned, even Ephraim. And the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now Ephraim may have been a Christian, and he may be in heaven right now with his wife, but based on his epitaph we just don’t know. But you can know what will happen to you when you die. It is very simple, we just have to believe the Bible and admit to God that we are sinners and we need him. As it says in Romans 10:9-10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” So, if you haven’t already, won’t you take this step of faith today? Then you will know, with certainty, that you belong to Jesus and you will go to heaven when you die.

Want to know more about how to become a Christian? Please visit KnowGod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

Feel The Love

Feel the Love At one time or another, most of us have had the often dreaded experience of a performance review from our employer. A typical review involves a job description or standard against which we are measured, and you know the drill; your boss describes in precise detail all of your accomplishments and shortcomings for the last year against. We always hope the good outweighs the bad and most of us wonder how our manager or supervisor can remember so many particulars about our performance when most days we’re not sure he or she even knows our name. But all we really care about is whether or not we’re getting a raise, that is, of course, until one of those negative points strikes a nerve, causing our ire to be raised and our egos to be bruised.

If you’re especially blessed, your review might even include feedback from your coworkers. This review technique goes by many names, but involves the process of your manager collecting positive and negative feedback from a select number of people with whom you regularly interface and then collating said information into a format that becomes a large dose of reality for you to digest. The positive comments are easy enough to swallow, but inevitably the negative ones come out and you’re pretty sure your coworkers just don’t see all the good you do or maybe they have formulated a plot to see you fail. Don’t you just feel the love now?!

I jest, of course, but the negative comments do tend to be more difficult to accept than the positive.

I have been fortunate to be through many more performance reviews than I can count in my nearly four decades of professional service. I can say with all honesty that most of my reviews have been more positive than negative, but I certainly have endured my fair share of negative commentary as well. I especially remember one particular boss, with whom my working relationship could only be described as tenuous, looking me right in the eye and telling me, “your problem is that you’re arrogant.” Nobody wants to hear that about themselves, but I am quite convinced that the negative feedback that I have received, while maybe outnumbered by the positive, is still the most useful. Is it not by facing the truth about oneself that one experiences the most rewarding growth?

In the spiritual realm, we also find that there is a standard against which we are measured. God’s Word serves as that standard; as the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Indeed, God’s Word is the standard by which we can measure our performance. But, unlike our work performance review, there is no regularly scheduled time where someone else will do the work for us. We have to examine ourselves. Paul instructed us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves.”

For those of us who have already turned to Jesus in repentance and faith, we read the Bible and make every effort to put into practice what is says: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:22-25) It is through our daily Bible reading and study, interaction with other Christians, and church attendance that we grow and improve and we are blessed for our effort.

For those as yet spiritually uncommitted, please consider carefully these words: “the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:19-20) The fact of the matter is that while your good deeds may outweigh your bad, when you are measured against God’s law, the verdict is already in: we all fall short. But this is nothing to fret over, because God has already solved the problem for us. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” (Romans 3:22) And that is the good news: God loves you so much “He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And now there is “no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

So if you have not yet given your faith to Jesus Christ, won’t you do so now? I guarantee you have never known love like this before. Come, feel the love!

To learn more, please visit: needGod.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Imperfect…Just Like Me

Imperfect 3  When you think about the Bible, what comes to mind? Specifically, with regards to the characters in the Bible, do you think of them as role model types…the kind of perfect people whose stories are told for our benefit so we might know how we should live? The first time I walked into a Christian church at age 30, this is the idea I had in my head. Christians were perfect people who went to church, served the Lord, and committed no wrongs. Certainly, the characters in the Bible were like that, too.

It was on a Saturday in early September back in 1993 during a men’s morning gathering that I first came to realize Christians were not the perfect people I had believed. All my misconceptions melted away as two pastors shared their personal testimonies and I came to understand they were flawed men just like me. In fact, the similarities to my own story were more prevalent than I could have imagined. Years of feeling inadequate and outcast melted away as I listened to their stories of how God turned things around for them.

But even once I was saved and armed with this newfound awareness that Christians were imperfect people just like me, I still had this tendency to read the Bible as if every character I encountered within its pages was somehow a Godly example for me to admire. Surely the likes of Moses, David, Samuel, and Solomon were the epitome of the flawless kind of people God wanted all of us to be, right? After years of Bible study and teaching from some awesome pastors, I have come to realize that is not true. Not at all. With the exception of Jesus, every character in the Bible is an example of a fallen human being who has made mistakes, usually many of them, and is in desperate need of God’s grace just like I am.

To explore this further, let’s look at one such character: King Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live on earth. Why? Because when the Lord came to him in a dream and told him to ask for anything he wanted, Solomon did not ask for wealth or long life, he asked for wisdom and discernment to lead the Lord’s people. We read this in 1 Kings 3:7-9 – “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

This humble request was very pleasing to God and he happily granted it and subsequently, Solomon became wise beyond measure. In fact, I am personally certain no wiser man has ever lived even to this day. Solomon did many things that were pleasing to God, including building the Lord’s temple and writing the book of Proverbs, which is filled with practical counsel on how to follow the Lord. Solomon also wrote the Song of Songs, which presents a beautiful picture of what God intends marriage to be. Reading such things makes it easy to think of Solomon as a great example of Godly living.

But then we read that Solomon, the man who wrote the book on what marriage is supposed to be, had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) in addition to the great personal wealth he amassed for himself. Many may be tempted to think that if Solomon had multiple wives and concubines this must be OK with God, but that is simply not true. In Deuteronomy 17:17 the Lord’s instructions are quite clear: “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.”

Solomon’s taking of many wives and concubines was in direct violation of God’s Word. And just as God had foretold, they turned Solomon’s heart away from the Lord. We read in 1 Kings 11:4 – “In Solomon’s old age, they (his many wives) turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.” And a little further on, in 1 Kings 11:9, we see the Lord was quite angry over Solomon’s disobedience – “The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.” The consequences of Solomon’s indiscretion were far-reaching and eventually led to the division of Israel.

You can read more on this in the book of 1 Kings, and it would be a good idea for you to do so. These stories are rich in life lessons that can benefit us today. In Solomon we see an individual who was hardly a perfect man. He was, like we are today, given to pursuing his own pathway through life, making choices that he almost certainly knew were wrong, to fulfill his own lustful desires. He started out in great humility and became prideful and arrogant and the ramifications of his actions spread far beyond his own life.

It is never God’s will that anyone should sin, but He does allow us to make our own choices. The story of Solomon is not the story of a perfect man, but the story of an imperfect one, and it holds a powerful lesson for us. Solomon thought that having all those wives and concubines would provide happiness, but whatever pleasure he experienced was not worth the price he paid. Solomon came to realize the grave nature of his mistakes as we read in Ecclesiastes 12:14: “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

Solomon needed God’s grace just like we do. And through Jesus, that grace is available to us all. As we read in Romans 5:17 – “But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” Whatever mistakes we have made, whatever wrong paths we have followed; we can be assured God’s gift of grace is greater and we are able to live in triumph when we trust in Jesus Christ. May you find him now, if you haven’t already.

Blessings to you.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

In God We Trust

In God We Trust 4 It is easy to speak of trusting the Lord in a crisis situation and to cite Bible verses about his faithfulness and dependability. There are many such verses in the Bible and reading them is worthwhile whether you are in a crisis or not. But when the darkness rolls into our lives, when we face uncertainty or some difficult situation, just how do we physically realize the benefits of trusting God? Written words are great, but how do we manifest this into the promised comfort and strength?

On this subject I hope to render some practical advice, attempting to suggest some constructive steps that I have found useful along with some sound Biblical principles. Perhaps there is no perfect answer to this question; surely it is in the darkest times of our lives that we find it most difficult to trust in anything, but I have found that when we are successful at approaching a loving God we find it is exactly in these trying moments that he is actually closest to us.

I think the first step we all must take, or be sure we’ve taken, is to repent. Now “repent” is one of those words that scares a lot of people, or perhaps we could just say it often has a negative connotation. But a quick look at this definition from dictionary.com should help us better understand the meaning of the word: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” The Bible has much to say about repentance, it is a central tenet of the Christian faith. Indeed, we see in Matthew 4:17 these words: “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Simply put, until we repent of our sins, we are not yet in right relationship with God. So let us start by examining ourselves, looking for unconfessed sin, and let us bring that to God. The Apostle Peter taught us in Acts 2:38 that, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is not hard to do, each of us knows deep down in our hearts we have done wrong. To deny this is to be disingenuous. So open your heart and get honest with God. Speak the words out loud, he will hear and you will feel him lift the burden of sin from you.

I might think the next two items could come in either order, but let me first suggest prayer.  On the subject of prayer I will give no specific formula, other than to pray from your heart and in complete honesty. It is not necessary to know how to pray and you do not need special training. Just get alone and speak to God. Once again I will emphasize the importance of speaking your prayers out loud, there is power in verbalization. Many people also find it helpful to write down their prayers. Keeping a prayer journal will help you see patterns in your prayers and will make it easier to see how God is answering your requests.

I think I have found two key concepts for prayer most helpful: one is to pray expectantly. God longs to answer our prayers and promises to do so. James wrote in his book: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) And when teaching on prayer in Luke 11:9, Jesus said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” So pray expectantly. My other point would be to pray in Jesus’ name, for Jesus promised us in John 14:14, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” There is power in the name of Jesus!

The last concept I’ll share here is very crucial for the manifestation of God’s presence and strength in our hour of need: we must read the Bible. I could write forever on the need to read the Bible, and almost certainly will say more in future blogs, but a few key reasons will have to suffice for now. First, to feel God’s comfort in times of trial we must have faith, and faith comes from the word of God. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV) It is in the words of Scripture that we find faith, and with faith being essential for experiencing the comfort of our Lord, our quest for faith must begin within the pages of the Bible.

The Bible is also our source for renewal. And one of the areas we most need renewal is in our thinking. Each of us have endured a lifetime of indoctrination into all kinds of worldly ideas, erroneous teachings, and cultural bias. It doesn’t matter where you live or what culture you have grown up in, whether in small ways or large ways, the simple fact is our thinking has become distorted. And the Bible is our reference point to undo this distortion. Paul beseeches us in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” And Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Space has run out for this blog, so I will leave you with these two final suggestions that I won’t be able to explore in depth: 1) The Book of Psalms allows us to combine Bible reading and prayer. Each psalm is a great example of bringing a problem or trial before God and seeking His wisdom, power and guidance. Try praying as the psalmists prayed. And lastly, 2) joining a local church allows you to have solid teaching and fellowship that can provide immeasurable hope, support, and healing in difficult circumstance. So if you are not already a member of a church, please consider finding a church soon.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Winners

winner 2 Jesus told us we would have troubles and sorrow in this world (see John 16:33). The world we live in exists in a fallen state; imperfect due to the sin that entered it in the Garden of Eden. As such, literally everything is in a state of dysfunction. We see the results of our sin predicament in all that is around us. Some common and obvious consequences include pollution, war, oppression, poverty, disease, earthquakes, terrorism, hurricanes, floods, and fires. Not all of these affect each of us in personal ways, but we read about them daily in the news and we’re all too aware of their existence.

But on a more personal basis, we experience periods of strife including such painful things as divorce, financial insecurity, illness, death of close friends and loved ones, depression, drug addiction, injury, disability, unemployment, and more. The list goes on and on. We don’t often think of these trials as the result of sin, but in God’s perfect creation, prior to the fall, these things didn’t exist. But in our day and age, they are all too real, and exactly what Jesus told us we would have to endure.

So how do we survive these trials? Where do we turn when the weight of our troubles stops us in our tracks? Jesus went on to say, in John 16:33, that we should “take heart, for I have overcome the world.” Indeed, the provision God has made for us in this fallen world is one of the sure signs of His love for us. But sometimes, in the midst of the storm, it can be hard to find just the right verse for our situation so it can help to have a ready reference list. Below are a few verses you may benefit from right now, if you are facing a specific problem, or may wish to save for future use:

Deuteronomy 31:6: So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Isaiah 41:10: Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

John 14:26-27: But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 34:17-18: The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Isaiah 40:28-31: Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

A thorough study of God’s Word will yield many more verses of hope and healing. Especially useful is the book of Psalm’s, which can also function as a guide to prayer during difficult times. But without a doubt, when we turn to Jesus Christ, and trust in Him, we become victorious regardless of our present circumstances. As it is written in Romans 8:31: “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” In Christ, we are winners regardless of our current situation.

If you have not yet placed your faith in Christ, why not make today that day? There’s no magic formula, just admit you are a sinner, and ask Him to forgive you, and believe that through His death and resurrection, you are redeemed. It’s that simple!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Real Love

Heart-cross  There can be little doubt that people are interested in love. We talk about it, we sing about it, we spend our lives looking for it. Studies have shown love to be one of our most basic and crucial needs. When we feel we have the love we desire, we are happy and content and full of smiles; but when love fails us, our entire countenance changes and some of us may slip into utter despair. So basic and essential is love that it is the subject of books, poems, plays, movies, songs, paintings, and many other forms of art and entertainment.

Our first tangible experiences with love often come from our parents, and research has shown how vital this parental love is to our development. Parents hold us, care for us, sing to us, talk to us, play with us, teach us, dress us, set rules and boundaries for us, and become our first role models. But even parental love often falls short of our needs and expectations, manifesting dysfunction in our lives that affects our ability to give and receive love as we mature.

Eventually we seek romantic love beyond our families of origin. It is here that we tend to experience our biggest hurts and frustrations. We extend ourselves toward others in hopeful expectation and often experience rejection and letdown. Many of us try multiple times before finding that one special person with whom we feel we can spend our lives. And then, in the midst of what we were sure was the perfect relationship, we find futility and heartache. Indeed, we often find, as the popular hit song declares: love hurts.

Maybe another popular love song has it right when it proclaims that we are looking for love in all the wrong places. The fact is, as vital as it is for us to have love in our human relationships, the starting point in our search for love must be with God. For it is only in God that we can find and experience perfect love. The Bible teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and it gives us the perfect description of love: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

The Bible is filled with examples of God’s love and assures us that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) When we seek His love we find all that we have been searching for; we find perfect, endless, limitless love. He will never forsake us despite our mistakes, our struggles, our bad habits, or our shortcomings.

And when we experience God’s perfect love it becomes our example of love: “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19) and our definition of love: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10) And it is because of God’s love for us that we can approach Him in confident expectation. For we know that Jesus has experienced all our human struggles and He has empathy for us. “This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

So are you ready to lay aside your struggles and receive His love? It’s easy to get started, just get alone and talk to Him. Acknowledge He is Lord and that you need Him. “For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:8) It’s that simple and if you are humble and genuine, you will experience new life and new hope in a way that is real and tangible. And you will know real love at last!

Our hope for you, then, is summed up in this verse from Ephesians 3:19: “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Want to know more about how to experience His love? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.