Studying God's Word

3 Questions God Asks to Help You Discern Your Spiritual Condition

"Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom." Psalm 51:6 AMP

 

God does desire truth deep within your heart.  He wants you to hide His Word in your heart and exchange the truth of a matter for any lies that you may be believing that hinders you from the abundant life He promises you will have in Him.  Below are the first 3 questions God asks in the Bible; ask yourself these questions and use them to assess your current spiritual condition.

God knows everything, so when He asks a question it is always for the benefit of someone else, the first question God asks is…“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)  

Are you close to God?  Hiding from God?  Far away from God?  

The second question God asks in the Bible begins like this…Who told you?    Here God is asking who are you listening to?  Where are you getting your information?  Who do you believe?  God wants us to listen to Him and His Word for truth and guidance.  

The third question is: “Have you… (eaten from the tree) of which I commanded you that you should not (eat)?” in other words, Have you disobeyed me?  When you are not living in accordance to God's ways there are always undesirable and negative consequences that accompany those decisions & God longs for you to obey Him.

God also shares with us what to do if we find ourselves “off” His path for our lives in James 4:7-10…

James 4:7–10 gives us: 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  KJV

This passage lists several action words that reveal a God who longs for us to know Him, love Him & obey Him. We are told to do these things:

 

• submit to God,

• resist Satan,

• draw near to God,

• cleanse our lives of evil actions,

let Jesus purify our hearts, and humble ourselves before God.

I'm praying that these questions will offer you an assessment of your heart that will draw you closer to God.

Blessings~

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

Make Your Resolution to Invest In What Pays the Biggest Dividend

Last month I packed up the belongings that my 89-year old father-in-law had accumulated over his lifetime because he was moving out of the home he’d lived in for over 20 years to live with a friend. My husband and brother-in-law took many trips to the donation center where they gave away furniture and other items that my in-laws had spent considerable money on to decorate their lovely home. The consignment shops had no room as they were burgeoning with items from other elderly Floridians who were also transitioning from single-family dwellings to live with family members or go into assisted living.

During the same month, I visited my parents who are in their 90’s and as I looked around their house at all of their belongings—they love artwork and have collected paintings and sculptures throughout their almost 70 years of marriage—I was keenly aware that most of what they possessed and treasured would sell for pennies on the dollar at an estate sale.

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Several other things have happened over the last several months to give me a necessary reality check in our materialistic world-- in which I can so easily get caught up-- of the foolishness of focusing upon and investing an inordinate amount of time and money on the things of this world.

·      Between Christmas and New Years I purged my closet of clothes that at one time I thought I ‘had to have’ but now no longer fit me or are no longer in style.

·      The heater for our basement went out, a necessary and expensive piece of equipment, and one that I know will only last for a time before it too will have to be replaced.

·      After being out and about running all kinds of errands I came home and discovered that one of the sterling earrings that I had been wearing was gone. There was no point in trying to retrace all of my steps to find it, and having only one of a pair of earrings is useless.

·      An oriental rug of mine got a spill on it; while attempting to clean it, the color faded, and a spot remains that spoils the ‘perfection’ of that costly rug.

·      The ‘service engine’ light went on--always the indicator that even more money would need to be spent on-- what was once my shiny, 'luxury-line' car that at 12 years old with its outdated technology doesn't hold a candle to even today's economy cars.

·      The wrinkles on my face that I no longer can convince myself are just ‘laugh lines’-- coupled with the birth date on my driver’s license-- let me know that I am well past the days of my youth, and all too quickly approaching the ‘twilight’ years of my life.

·      The very unexpected death on Christmas Eve of a close friend of mine’s husband from an abdominal aneurism was a tragic and fresh reminder that even the people I know and love may not be around tomorrow. 

However, in the midst of all of these stark reminders of the reality that things on this earth will rust, rot, require repair, fade, go out of style, disappear, or die-- I could rejoice. Why? Because the transitory nature of everything else in this world highlighted to me the unchanging nature of God—the only One Who WILL NOT-- and even more importantly--CANNOT change! In referring to Himself, God told Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Exodus 3:14) He is the Alpha and the Omega, the God Who created and oversees time, the One Who was, Who is, and Who is to come (Revelation 1:8),  the only eternal Being. Therefore, He is the only one in the world on whom you can totally and truly depend! If you have put your trust in Him and His faithful promises, you can rest assured that He cannot fail you, and He will never leave you or forsake you. 

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 ESV

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 ESV

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind. 1st Samuel 15:29NIV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. Psalm 102:25-27 ESV

On what are you focusing your time and attention? Are you more consumed with the things of this world that are here today and gone tomorrow, or are you investing your time and energy focusing on studying the unchanging Word of God, so you can better know and be in the presence of our Eternal God? The Bible, His written Word, reveals to us the nature and ways of the 'Living Word' Jesus, Who is always ‘Faithful and True’ (Revelation 19:11). Investing your time each day in getting to know God better will pay abundant dividends for this life, as well as for the life to come. 'The One Year Bible' or other Bible reading plans are a great tool to help ensure that you invest daily in what matters most. I am starting my 22nd consecutive year of reading through the Bible and it's the single most important thing I have done to renew my mind and transform my heart. I encourage you to make reading God's unchanging Word your daily discipline so that your investment of time, effort and energy will yield eternal dividends that last forever and can never be taken away from you.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…. Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Tell the Truth: Do You Really Know Jesus?

There was a popular game show “To Tell the Truth” that aired from 1956-1968 in which three people stood before a celebrity panel and all claimed to be the same person who had accomplished something significant. The show began with a reading of the famous person’s credentials, after which each of the three people would claim they were that person by starting their statement with “I am…” and ending their statement with the name of the accomplished person. However, only one was telling the truth and the other two were imposters. The goal of the celebrity panel was to try to determine who was the truth teller and who were the imposters. Imposters throughout the ages have claimed to be the promised Messiah, and there will be others in the future who will also make that false claim. However, there is only one who claimed to be the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection proved He indeed was telling the truth. His name is Jesus. He alone fulfilled over 350 Old Testament prophesies.

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The following are reasons why Jesus came to earth, and He accomplished everything He was sent to do:

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.” John 18:37 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1st John 3:8 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. “ John 3:17 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” 1st Timothy 1:15 “…so that by his death He (Jesus) might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—”Hebrews 2:14 “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. “John 10: 17-18 "…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28 “…that He (Jesus) might make atonement for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18 Jesus, Who is Truth, made the following “I am” statements about Himself, and past and current disciples attest that they are indeed true of Him:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

I encourage you to take the time to read the gospel of John, which is all about the person of Jesus. Knowing Him will change your life! (Philippians 3: 7-14) It is my hope that as you celebrate Easter this year that you will reflect upon all that Jesus accomplished; consider Who He is and all that you have because of Him; and realize that He is the only Way to experience abundant life on earth and eternal life in Heaven!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Loving Our Jewish Neighbors and Using the Old Testament to Reveal the Truth of Jesus

When you look at how Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He did so by revealing prophecy written about Him in the Old Testament.  (Luke 24:27)  So here’s a question for us all…

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How often when you are witnessing to your family, friends, or neighbors do you use the Old Testament to do so?  

As one of my favorite bible teachers says “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”  ~ Dr. Chuck Missler

I created a list of my personal top 7 things from the Old Testament that I would use to witness to a Jewish friend.  

The genealogy that is listed in Matthew, Jesus was to be of David’s family.  I would do this first, because I think it’s exactly what God chose to reveal first by having the first gospel be written by a Jew, for a Jew and starting with the legal and promised line.  (2 Sam 7:12-16, Ps 89:3-4, 110:1, 132:11, Isa 9:6, 7; 11:1)

Would bring about the massacre of Bethlehem’s children (Gen 35:19-20; Jer 31:15)

Where it was also specified that He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Zech 9:9; Ps 118:26)   That is amazing, who else would announce their kingship riding on an ass!  Not many earthly kings I’m aware of! 

That He would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. (Zech 11:1-13; Ps 41:9)

Rise from the dead on the 3rd day (Gen 22:4, Ps 16:10-11; Jonah 1:17)

His Resurrection would be followed by the destruction of Jerusalem (Dan 9:;26; 11:31; 12:1, 11)

I never considered how Jesus used the OT Scripture to reveal to the disciples who He was after His resurrection.  It would have been so simple for Jesus to just make Himself known to them immediately, but because He didn’t, I feel that we should take notice here.  Notice how He did not immediately reveal Himself, but instead revealed the Word to them until perhaps they were ready to receive Him and have their eyes be opened and the “veil” removed. The Truth of Scripture will reveal itself, by itself.  Let’s be faithful to share the Good News with someone today!  

Written by Julie Van Gorp

4 Ways To Approach the Study of God's Word...

4 Ways To Approach the Study of God's Word

With…

  • Prayer, that He would give us a discerning Spirit, with eyes that see and ears that hear what He wants us to learn.
  • Humility, recognizing that we have so much to learn about God, and in some cases what we think we know may be incorrect.
  • Seriousness, This is eternal life that we might know Him!  John 17:3“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
  • Gratitude, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  Psalm 8:4   Thanking God for His Word that enables us to gain wisdom and His Spirit that guides us into all Truth!
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My favorite bible study materials include:

“Gems from the Greek”- By Rick Renner

The ESV Study Bible

The Apologetics Study Bible

John Maxwell Leadership Bible

Biblehub.com/Biblegateway.com/Gotquestions.org/Blueletterbible.com

Khouse.org

What are some of your favorite bible resources?  Please share!

Written by Jamie Shaver

What Are You Cutting Out?

The other night I was sitting watching my two boys play a game together.  The game they were playing has a “poster-like” game board that is very flimsy.  After the game was over,  I looked over and saw one of the boys cutting out a part of the poster.  So I had to ask:

Mom: “What are you doing?”

Son: “Cutting this out.”

Mom: “Ok, but WHY are you cutting it out?  You’re going to ruin the game!”

Son: “No I’m not, it’s still perfectly fine, I’m just cutting out these little words.  You can still play the game, see?” He says, as he puts the cards back on the poster to prove that this small cut is no big deal.

Mom: “What are those little words? What do they say?”

Son: “Ummm, well I cut them out and I did a bad job so I can’t really read the words anymore.  Oh wait, I think they are on the other side of the game board too.”

Mom: “Well if they’re on the other side then read them to me, I still want to know what it says.”

Son: “Ok it says, both players start with their own decks of 60 cards to play the game.  While both players know how many cards are in each deck, no one can look at or change the order of the cards in either player’s deck unless a card allows him or her to do that.”  

Mom: “So I’m still interested in why you wanted to cut it out.”

Son: “Because I don’t like those rules.”  

Mom: “You know when you cut out the rules son, you are creating a game where “anything” goes.  Now, every person you play with is going to want to change the rules to suit their own interests; which will make the game more about fighting over the rules than about enjoying the game.  It also means that since you’ve removed the rules about how the game begins, soon your brother is going to come by and cut out the rules on what determines the winner.  Then after that, your sister is going to cut out the part that states how you know that your turn has ended.  Eventually, there will be nothing at all that resembles that actual game, and nobody will want to play.

As I continued teaching about the outcome of “cutting out the rules”, it hit me; how many of us are metaphorically “cutting out” the rules/guidelines of what it means to be a Christian and follower of Jesus?  Many individuals read the bible and just “cut-out” the parts they don’t like as if it won’t impact the “game!”  As Christians we must keep the rules, players and end “game” of scripture intact; otherwise, “anything goes” and many end up hating it.  

How many people have left churches and have stopped believing in God completely because they were in the “game” with men and women who were “cutting out” the pieces of scripture they didn’t like?  

How many people are missing out on all God has for them because of the chunks they’ve cut out of scripture?  

God, am I missing anything?  Have I “cut-out” any scripture in my life?  

Am I cutting out any now?  

I pray that God would reveal to each of us any area in our lives where His Word has been “cut-out” and that we would repent and turn from our ways.  

You shall not add to the Word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.~ Deuteronomy 4:2

“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. ~ Deuteronomy 12:32

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” ~ Revelation 22:18-19

Have you “cut” anything out of scripture lately?  Why?

Written by Jamie Shaver

Where Does The Time Go?

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Where does the time go? Do you ever race through a day and then wonder “where did the time go?” I think that about much of my life, especially as I prepare my three kids to begin school again next week. Where has summer gone? Next, I’ll be commenting that I can’t believe it’s already Christmas, and so it goes! Although I believe most of us have uttered something similar at some point in our lives, I stop today to question as one who is determined to know exactly where the time does go.

So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.~ Acts 3:5

We give our attention to things that we expect to receive something from. Think about it, we are often told to give attention to, or pay attention to. The words give and pay remind us that there is a cost to putting our focus or attention in one place.

As the days and nights “fly” by I want to challenge you to the challenge I’m also giving myself. For the next 3 days, set a timer on your phone (or elsewhere) to go off every 30-minutes. Ask yourself “what did I just spend 30 minutes doing?” Then, write it down. Then ask, what did I receive from giving my attention to this?

The most common complaint I hear regarding quiet time with God, studying His Word, praying etc. is “it’s hard to find the time.” I believe it’s hard to find the time because we aren’t focused on our time, how we currently use it and how it can be better spent.

Below are several scriptures that share God’s thoughts on the subject of our attention.

Proverbs 4:20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.

Proverbs 5:1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding,

Proverbs 7:24 Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth:

1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Where is your time going? What can you cut out to give more attention to the things which will last for eternity? I know we’ve all heard many times that we can’t take anything with us when we die. I disagree. We can take His Word with us! His Word never dies! I pray for all of us that we find even more time to pay attention to His Word, when we do we can surely expect to receive something beneficial from it.

Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Written by Jamie Shaver