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Archive | God’s Word for Today

Do you Trust Your Emotions or God’s Truth?

Emotions or truthGod tricked me. He made me believe He had fixed things. Then He pulled the rug out from under me. He didn’t see. He didn’t care. He couldn’t – or wouldn’t – intervene.

At least that was the way I felt. 

But, then out of the dark, He whispered. I see you. I care. I am working.

I had to make a choice. Would I trust my feelings or God’s truth? Would I believe my temporary physical circumstances or believe the One who even raises up nations to carry out His purposes?

Eventually, I chose to trust and believe God and His truth. But not before I spent some time wallowing in the lies of my emotions.

What about you? Have your emotions ever lied to you? Difficulties, trials, struggles, and grief can foster emotions that deceive us and lead us away from God’s truth. They tell us things like:

  • God can’t do anything with this.
  • God doesn’t see your struggle.
  • God doesn’t care that you’re hurting.
  • God is too busy to do anything for you.

Any of those things sound familiar? We cannot trust our emotions. Our feelings will mislead us, but God never will. I learned I can choose to stand on God’s truth even when my emotions are trying to drag me under. When the world is shaking around me, I can run to our unshakeable God and stand firm on His truth.

Is your life shaking right now? Choose to stand on God’s truth no matter what your circumstances or your emotions may say. The following truths rebut some of the major lies our feelings tell.

5 Truths to Stand on for an Unshakeable Faith

  1. God Can – Our all-powerful, sovereign God is always in control and always working in every situation. Even when we can’t see Him. (Jeremiah 32:17)
  2. God Sees – God sees and knows about every aspect of our lives and the world condition. (Psalm 139:1-4)
  3. God Cares – God doesn’t simply see your struggles, He cares about every aspect of your life. He knows your needs and He wants to meet them. (Matthew 6:25-34)
  4. God is Present – God is always with His children. He never leaves us. Even when we don’t sense His presence He is there. (Isaiah 43:2)
  5. God is Working – Even when we can’t see Him, God is constantly working out His eternal purposes through events, nations, and powers to accomplish His purposes in the world. And He is constantly working through the circumstances of our lives to bring about His perfect good. (Romans 8:28)

5 truthsLast weekend at a conference, I shared these truths with about 250 women. Even though these truths are clear and simple, they are hard to remember when life starts to shake. So, we connected these five truths to something that’s with us all the time. Then we created a visual to keep and put somewhere we will see it often.

We stood and claimed the five truths, counting them off on each finger of our right hand. Then they traced their hands on a large index card and wrote one truth on each finger. One of the young women turned hers into a work of art! So I asked if I could snap a photo.

Perhaps your life is shaking right now. The world will never provide us with firm footing, but we can stand unshakeable when we choose to stand on God and His truth.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4

Which of these 5 truths most speaks to your situation today? Will you choose to trust the LORD, the Rock eternal?

 

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5 Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Saying

5 Things Stop SayingJust because we hear something – or say something – over and over again doesn’t make it true. For instance, my 3-year-old grandson refers to Hulu as “WeeHoo.” Whenever my daughter carefully pronounces it correctly for him. He says, “No, Mom. It’s ‘WeeHoo.'” Yes, the illiterate toddler thinks he knows better than the grownup.

As silly as that sounds, we sometimes do that with God and His Word. We have allowed things out of line with Scripture to become so embedded in our brains, we now accept them as fact. Or we take a truth out of context and misapply it. And unfortunately we repeat these things to others.

Although not an exhaustive list, I hear Christians make the following five statements over and over again:

1. “We are all God’s children” – All people are definitely God’s “creatures,” created by God and for God. But only those who have been spiritually born again through a saving relationship with Jesus are God’s “children.” Here’s what God’s Word says:

  • Through Christ, we can be “adopted” as God’s sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:5).
  • Only those with the indwelling Holy Spirit are children of God (Romans 8:15-17).
  • Only those redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ are children of God (Galatians 4:4-7).

At its best, this phrase is incorrect. At its worst, it gives people without a saving relationship with Jesus, a false sense of eternal security.

2. “Judge not” – We too often quote these words of Jesus as an excuse to ignore sin in others’ lives or as a reason for others to leave us to our own detrimental behavior. The passages we whip out are Matthew 7:1 and James 4:12. Unfortunately, we regularly fail to consider the context of the greater passage and the whole counsel of God’s Word.

Yes, both Jesus and James condemned a harsh, critical “judging” of people’s motives. This kind of “judging” is motivated by a self-righteous, hypocritical attitude. But in the whole of Scripture – including words of Jesus and James – God clearly commands Christians to lovingly point out sin and exhort each other to holiness. It is not our place to determine their motives, but it is our responsibility as a member of the body of Christ to gently identify behavior that God has already judged to be “sin.” The goal is to reconcile that person with others and with God and to keep the sin from spreading to others (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, Hebrews 12:15, James 5:19-20). For more about “judging” read this post.

3. “God will never give us more than we can handle” – There is just one problem with saying this: It’s simply not what the Bible teaches. Many well-meaning people quote 1 Corinthians 10:13 to back up this understandable desire. But the context of this passage is about temptation. Here’s the good news: God does promise that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear; He will always show us a way to stand firm.

So what does God teach about the amount of trials and difficulties He will allow into our lives? In a nutshell: He will allow far more than we can handle. Paul wrote that he had suffered extreme hardship in Asia, “far beyond his ability to endure so that he despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). God allowed this so Paul and his companions “might not rely on themselves but on God.” For more on this topic, read this post.

4. “God is love” – Yes, I believe that God is love! Scripture says it over and over (1 John 4:8-10). God defines real love. He is loving by nature. He expresses this divine love in all that He does. But unfortunately, some Christians try to stand on this truth – “God is love” – to rationalize sin or to dismiss hell.

“A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.”

“God loves me, He would want me to be happy.”

But our loving, holy God does not sweep sin under the rug. Instead His love moved Him to provide a way of salvation for all people by sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:11). And Christ’s love compels us to repent of our sins, accept His sacrificial death, and be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). God’s love provides a way of salvation, not a license to sin.

5. “All sin is the same” – Most assuredly, any and all sin separates us from God and brings eternal spiritual death (Romans 6:23). In that way, all sin is the same. But Scripture does show that some kinds of sins cause far greater harm to ourselves and other people or bring far greater consequences than other sins. (For more on this see this article at BillyGraham.org.)Here are a few examples:

  • Sexual Immorality – Due to the intimate nature of sex, sexual immorality has unique consequences, such as tearing apart families and even directly impacting our relationship with God (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  • Pride – Scripture condemns the sin of pride over and over. In fact, the Bible says that God “opposes the proud” (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Pride is an underlying attitude that manifests itself in a host of other “sinful” ways.
  • Hypocrisy – Jesus sternly warned the Pharisees about their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-36). This kind of self-righteousness blinds us to our own sin and our need for God. “Woe!”
  • Leading others into sin – Jesus’ language was harsh for those who would dare lead a “little one” into sin. It would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea. Sounds serious! (See Matthew 18:1-9.)

You may not agree with me on all these, and that’s okay. What I hope we will all do is go to God’s Word to find His truth. But, let’s not ever settle for a “truth” we’ve grown accustomed to.

Have you ever said any of these 5 things? How do you feel about it now? What are some other things you hear often from Christians that don’t line up with God’s Word? Be sure to share what God’s Word says about it!

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Does God Need an Update?

Last week, Pope Francis visited the United States. Thousands came out to see and hear him at every stop. But his visit raised a question in the media that troubles me. Several times during news stories I heard journalists pose questions similar to:

Will the Pope address ways the Church can be more relevant in our culture?

God UpdateDon’t get me wrong. I believe Christians must show how our faith is relevant to people today. But what the media suggested went beyond strategies for reaching and engaging individuals where they are with the Gospel message. They wanted to know how the Church would “update and change” to better reflect our current secular culture. To bring Christianity into the 21st century.

This question doesn’t begin and end with journalists. People from every country and generation seem to want to change or update Christianity to suit their lifestyle. People want our culture to speak to God’s Word instead of allowing God’s Word to speak to the culture.

Consider with me for a moment just how ridiculous this idea really is. We humans – who are beings created by God from a handful of dust and live but for a moment in time – think we have the right to tell the Creator how things should be, what is right and what is wrong, and how we should be able to “get to heaven.”

Job tried this. Here is God’s response:

“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?… Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” Job 38:2,4; 40:2

Jesus and Christ and His saving work on the cross is relevant to every person in every culture in every century. All have sinned and are separated from God. All need a Savior. Christ died for all. God doesn’t want any to perish, but all to be saved.

That never changes. It is always relevant.

And yes, I know that’s not really what those journalists are talking about. They are thinking of ethics, and lifestyles, and the things people consider to be important. Those things change constantly.

But God does not change like shifting shadows. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The one, true Creator God is perfect holiness. He is Life. He is Light. In Him there is no darkness at all. He is the Almighty, Sovereign One. He has no beginning and no end. He is all powerful and all knowing. He created life and established its boundaries.

And this is the God to Whom we say: “Hey, why don’t you step into the 21st century? Aren’t you a little behind the times?”

Really? Think about how ridiculous this really is. If our culture doesn’t agree with God’s standards, then who needs to change?

Have you ever thought that God or the Christian faith needed an “update?” If so, in what way?

Note: I totally agree that Christians and the Christian faith is and should be relevant to the culture. I believe Paul expresses this in his declaration that he tried to be “all things to all people in order to win some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). But Paul meant in ways that did not contradict God’s moral standards or teach doctrine differently than God has revealed in His Word.

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Whose Handiwork are You?

It’s really hard not to be self-focused. For starters we live in such a self-absorbed culture. Everything we hear and see encourages us to put ourselves first. Then there are the day-to-day necessities involved in keeping ourselves alive and properly presentable.

So too often when we sit down with God’s Word, we bring the same self-focused attitude. See if any of these thoughts sound familiar:

  • How can God’s Word help me in this situation?
  • How can God’s Word encourage me today?
  • How can God’s Word make me feel better about myself?
  • What guidance can God’s Word give me today?

Ephesians 2:10Lately, God has been showing me that I far too often approach the Bible with selfishness and even pride.

I’ve been reading “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin. In the first chapter, she writes about several ways we wrongly approach Bible study. Here’s a collection of quotes from her first section “Let the Bible Speak of God:”

“From beginning to end, the Bible is a book about God… We must read and study the Bible with our ears trained on hearing God’s declaration of Himself… The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is… If our reading of the Bible focuses our eyes on anyone other than God, we have gotten backwards the transformation process. Any study of the Bible that seeks to establish our identity without first proclaiming God’s identity will render partial and limited help.”

Did this hit you like it hit me? While intellectually I know that the Bible is about God – and not me – I still had to admit that I often think about me first when I go to God’s Word.

I’ve been working to purposefully think of God first and foremost when I open the Bible. So, when I read I familiar passage the other day, I saw it in a different light:

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10, NIV

In the past, when I read this verse, I focused on the idea that I am God’s poem, His beautiful handiwork. And while that’s true, God should be the primary focus.

To emphasize this point, let’s take a step back and read this verse in its larger context:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God has miraculously saved us by His grace. Our salvation is His work from beginning to end. Since we cannot do anything to save ourselves, there is no room for pride. We cannot boast about our accomplishments. God is the One who has done it.

Yet, we get to verse 10, and we make it about us.

Read verse 10 again, out loud this time. Once with the emphasis on the word “handiwork” and once again, with the emphasis where it should be:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We are saved only because of His gracious work on our behalf. We are who we are only because God has created us anew.

No room for pride. No cause for boasting. Only praise and thanksgiving.

Did your out loud reading give you a new perspective on Ephesians 2:10? If so, how?

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Do You have Vision?

VisionDoes your church have a “vision” statement? Maybe you even have a personal vision statement, purpose statement, or mission statement for your own life. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it directly reflects God’s vision and purpose for your church or your life.

Unfortunately, some of us have developed these “vision” statements to communicate our own hopes, dreams, and goals. And sadly, sometimes we recite Proverbs 29:18 to back up this practice. You’ve probably heard the KJV version of Proverbs 29:18.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18, KJV

Sadly, Proverbs 29:18 falls near the top of almost every list of Bible verses that are misunderstood, abused, or taken out of context. As we humans so often do, we look at it from our perspective instead of God’s perspective. We want to be the one with “vision.” We want to pursue our big hopes and dreams.

So, let’s take a look at the original meaning of Proverbs 29:18 to discover how we should understand and apply it. Considering the meaning of a few of the Hebrew words from this verse will help:

  • Vision (English word used in the King James Version) – means “to see with the eyes, either physically or spiritually.” Here, given the context, the spiritual is obviously meant. Therefore, “vision” in Proverbs 29:18 refers to a “revelation, oracle, or prophecy.” In other words, “divine communication.” It originates with God and is given to mankind through His prophets or the Bible. We “see” it and “understand.” This “vision” does not originate with us.
  • People – Refers to “people or nation.” This verse does not necessarily speak to individuals but groups of people joined in some kind of relationship like a nation.
  • Perish – Means “undisciplined, let go of all restraint, run wild.”
  • Keepeth – Means to “observe” or “give heed.”
  • Law – Generally “teaching, doctrine, direction, or instruction.” It can also refer specifically to the Law of Moses (Torah).
  • Happy – Means “happiness, blessedness.”

Properly understood, Proverbs 29:18 gives us very wise advice indeed. Those who don’t observe God’s revelation live undisciplined, unrestrained lives and suffer the consequences. But those who live by God’s Word will experience His blessing.

The New Living Translation reflects the correct meaning in modern language:

“When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy.” Proverbs 29:18, NLT

Is His vision our vision? Or are we operating under a vision of our own making? Our spiritual and eternal well being – as individuals yes, but certainly as communities and nations – depends on our obedience to God’s Word. When we scoff at or turn away from His divine law we suffer the results of our unrestrained living. But when we keep and observe His Word, our obedience will be “blessed.” (Side note: that doesn’t necessarily mean physical prosperity. God’s presence and His spiritual, eternal blessings are far greater!)

So, what is your “vision?” What is the “vision” of your family, community, nation? What results of that “vision” do you see around you?

 

 

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The Real Promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Coriinthians 10:13You’ve probably heard – or maybe you’ve even said – “God will never give me more than I can handle.” Sounds really good but there’s just one problem. The Bible doesn’t teach that.

Many people point to 1 Corinthians 10:13 to back up this “Christian teaching.” But is that what Paul meant when he wrote: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear?” Let’s pull back and look at this sentence in the context of the larger passage to find out what Paul was talking about. (See this post for more information on “biblical context.) The context, the topic of 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 is temptation and being prepared to resist it. Keep reading to discover the real promise found in verse 13.

At the end of chapter 9, Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to practice strict spiritual discipline like he did. Take note of the “for” in 1 Corinthians 10:1 (NIV). Paul wanted them to be self-disciplined because he did not want them to follow the bad example of Israel in the wilderness who gave into temptation and disobeyed God. Because of their disobedience that generation died in the desert and never entered the promised land. Their story was recorded as a warning for the Corinthians and for us (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Then in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Paul elaborates on what we should do instead of giving into tempation and falling into sin. Here are three truth points for us from this passage:

  1. Thinking we are too strong to fall into sin makes us vulnerable. We must keep up our guard.
  2. No temptation will come our way that hasn’t already been part of the human experience. We won’t be tempted with something “new” or “unusual.”
  3. God is faithful. He will not allow any temptation to come our way that is too great for us to resist. He will always provide a way for us to say no and the strength to bear up under the pull of sin.

Okay, did you see that? Number 3 is the real promise of verse 13. God will never allow us to be tempted to sin beyond what we can resist. 

So what about this question: “Does God ever give us more hardship than we can handle?” The short answer is “yes.” But let’s turn to another one of Paul’s letters for a more in-depth explanation.

In his second letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul wrote about hardships he experienced in Asia:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, NIV

The same biblical author that wrote 1 Corinthians 10:13 also wrote 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. Paul knew that God would allow him to experience more hardship than he could bear. He had lived it. He had pressure in

Asia that was far beyond his ability to endure.

Why? Why did God allow Paul – and why does God allow us – to experience trials and difficulties, grief and pain, more than we can bear? So that we will rely on God and not on our own strength and power.

Hear Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:10:

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. 2 Corinthians 1:10, NIV

When we are unable to deliver ourselves, God is able. We we are unable to stand up under the pressure, it will be God’s strength in us.

No, God does not promise that He will never give us more than we can handle. Instead, He holds out His hand and tells us to lean on Him.

Have you ever misunderstood the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13? What comfort can you take in the real promise?

 

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Do You Misuse Philippians 4:13?

It’s probably the most well-known and oft-quoted verse from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13, NKJV

Philippians 4:13Unfortunately, it’s also one of the verses most often taken out of context. We love that one verse so much we pull it out of its home in the surrounding verses. We hold it out on its own and say, “Jesus gives me strength to do all things.” But is that what it means?

Unfortunately, when we take it out of context we lose the original meaning. We even begin to assign meanings to it God never intended.

Let’s say, for instance, I desire to do something big for the Kingdom of God. I have an idea, a vision, of what I’d like to do. But it’s big, really big! Well, if “Jesus gives me strength to do all things,” then doesn’t that mean He will give me the power and opportunities to not only pursue this dream, but also to succeed?

Is that what Philippians 4:13 means? Does it mean that Jesus will give me the power and strength to do whatever I desire to do for Him? Or maybe it means Jesus will give me the power and strength to do what He calls me to do?

We know from other Scriptures that God does gift and guide, equip and empower His children to carry out His purposes for our lives (2 Thessalonians 1:11; Ephesians 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:11-13). But Philippians 4:13 does not promise us that God will give us strength to follow our desires or even to carry out His purposes.

So what does Philippians 4:13 mean?

Let’s drop Philippians 4:13 back into the verses immediately surrounding it and see what it means in light of its context. (For more on the “context” of a biblical passage, check out this post: “4 Things to Consider for Biblical Context.“) In Philippians 4:10-14, Paul thanked the Christians in Philippi for the financial gift they sent him. He appreciated their gift, but he was not in desperate need. In fact, he had learned to be content no matter his physical circumstances. Paul had discovered the secret of contentment whether he was in physical want or plenty.

And what was his secret of contentment, whether he was fed or hungry? Paul had experienced Christ’s strength within him to endure any and every situation. He found total sufficiency in trusting Christ. Paul gained strength from Jesus to be content with whatever God provided for him.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” never meant Paul could do anything because Jesus would give him the power to do it. It meant Paul could endure any difficult circumstance or physical need through the strengthening power of Christ.

Great, incredible truth. Although Philippians 4:13 does not obligate God to empower our plans. Oh no, it’s far better than that! Jesus will give us the strength we need to endure desperate need. His empowering presence will be with us through every difficult circumstance.

Have you gained a better understanding of Philippians 4:13? Does it encourage you today?

 

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Is God Still Good When Our Circumstances Aren’t?

God is Good all the TimeI often hear other Christians say, “God is good!” I heard it when the life of a sick child was spared. And when a biopsy returned benign. And when a job in jeopardy was saved. And when a rebellious teen turned back to God. But is God still good when our circumstances aren’t?

But what about when the child dies or it comes back “cancer” or the job is lost or the teenager never returns? Is God good then?

Yes. God is good all the time. The Bible says so. God cannot be good one moment and not the next. He cannot be good in one situation and not another.

A Facebook post I read not long ago caused me to reflect on this truth. The FB friend wrote, “God is good!” And then she detailed all the recent positive happenings in her life as the proof.

This really troubled me. See, we flawed humans tend to declare God’s goodness only when things turn out the way we hope they will. This implies that we believe God is good because our circumstances are easy. But what if our circumstances are hard? Does that mean God is not good? Or that He is good only to those who don’t have trouble and difficulty?

Our circumstances do not dictate or define God’s goodness. God’s character dictates His goodness. God is good all the time. No matter the circumstances.

The Bible says that God is Good All the Time

Here are a few truths from Scripture to help us develop a correct understanding of the goodness of God:

  • God’s will for our lives is good (Romans 12:2). Sometimes – in fact, often – His will includes trials and difficulty that He uses for our refinement.
  • In all things, in all circumstances, our good God is working for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  • The assurance of God’s goodness enables us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to declare in easy times and hard times, “God is good!”

4 Tips to Help You Live the Truth that God is Good All the Time:

How should these truths impact our daily lives? How should we upgrade the way we live and talk and relate to others? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember that God is good all the time. Not just when things are going the way we want them to.
  2. Thank Him for His goodness in every life situation.
  3. Be sensitive to those around you who are facing difficult and painful circumstances.
  4. Declare His goodness in every circumstance, particularly in the hard times.

Upgrading our attitudes about God’s goodness can change how we approach every circumstance of life and each person we encounter. God is good, all the time!

Let’s talk. Have you ever been guilty of declaring God’s goodness only in times of ease? Forgetting His goodness in times of difficulty? What are some things we can do to remind ourselves of His goodness in every situation?

 

 

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9 Bible Verses to Comfort the Lonely

Bible verses on lonelinessHave you ever been lonely? Perhaps you’re lonely now. You can feel lonely even in a crowd without a close companion by your side.

People leave. Death and distance separate loved ones. Relationships dissolve. Trouble and time tear us apart.

Even the most loving and dependable people will eventually leave us. Christians will face hardship, loneliness, and a multitude of other trials. But there is One who will never forsake us. One who is always for us.

May these Scriptures from God’s Word give you peace and comfort as you draw close to the One who will never leave you.

  1. Deuteronomy 31:6 – God is with you in the midst of any and every fearful and difficult circumstance.
  2. Psalm 118:6-7 – The LORD is with you! He is your Helper and Victor.
  3. Psalm 9:9-10 – The Lord’s sheltering presence is safe and reliable. He will never forsake those who seek Him.
  4. Psalm 68:5-6 – God draws close to those who are lonely and provides for them. He is a “father to the fatherless” and He “sets the lonely in families.”
  5. Isaiah 41:10 – God holds you in His hand. He will help you and give you strength.
  6. Lamentations 3:22-24 – The LORD is all you need. He is faithful, loving, and compassionate to those who wait for Him.
  7. John 14:16-21 – The Lord’s presence is permanent and intimate.
  8. Romans 8:39 – Nothing can ever separate you from Jesus and His love.
  9. 2 Timothy 4:16-18 – Even if everyone else deserts you, the Lord will stand at your side and strengthen you.

Even if you feel alone, you can trust that God is with you. Ask Him to comfort you with His faithful presence today.

Which verse spoke most to your heart today? Why?

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4 Truths the Bible Teaches about Itself

BibleThe Bible was the first book ever printed. It also holds the distinction of being the best-selling book of all time. In fact, the Bible continues to be the top seller of the year – year after year – with about 25 million copies sold annually in the United States alone.

According to a 2006 New Yorker article by Daniel Radosh, research shows that 91% of American households own at least one Bible and the average household owns four. Reflecting on these statistics, Radosh wrote, “…Bible publishers manage to sell 25 million copies a year of a book that almost everybody already has.”

I just took an inventory of all the Bibles in our house. The result? Twenty-one Bibles in nine different translations.

That inventory does not include the numerous translations I can read online. Or on my phone. Abundant audio versions allow us to listen to the Bible in our cars, at the gym, or anywhere else we can take our MP3 players. Access to God’s Word today has never been greater or more varied.

Unfortunately, the numbers of those who actually read the Bible regularly do not reflect the high level of ownership and accessibility. Pollster George Gallup, Jr. has been widely quoted as saying, “Americans revere the Bible, but, by and large, they don’t read it.” Polls show that only about a third of American Christians read the Bible on their own one or more times each week. How physically healthy would we be if we ate less than once a week?

Are you a statistic? Let’s foster our desire to be in God’s Word by considering four key truths the Bible teaches about itself:

  1. The Bible is literally the words of God – Although physically recorded by the hands of men, every word was inspired by the Spirit of God. God breathed out His Word through humans for humans. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  2. The Bible is alive and active today – God’s Word is working in our lives and the lives of those around us. It is not static or bound by time. It crosses all cultural barriers, language differences, and geographical borders. (Hebrews 4:12)
  3. The Bible is a mirror for our spirits – The Holy Spirit wields God’s Word like a sword to pierce our hearts and reveal our sinful thoughts, attitudes, and motivations (Hebrews 4:12-13).
  4. The Bible is God’s tool for refinement – He lays it out beside our lives as a measuring rod to teach, correct, and equip us in preparation for God’s purposes (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

God longs to lovingly apply His Word like a balm to our souls, to heal our hurts, comfort our grief, and fill us with His joy. Yet often we fail to give Him the opportunity. If we really believe that the Bible is the very words of God to us and for us, then why don’t we read it? Why do we fail to taste its sweetness?

We’ve allowed our fast-food, high-speed internet culture to shape even the way we approach the Bible. I confess, I still sometimes allow the busyness of life to pressure me to get “in and out” of the Bible and on to my full day ahead. Yet to be truly affected by God’s Word, to be transformed by the Holy Scriptures, we must slow down. Linger over it. Savor every word. We cannot experience its earth shaking power on the run.

In Thursday’s post we will consider 3 steps to creating a hunger for God’s Word. Between now and then, let’s reflect on our desire for Scripture. Do we hunger? Do we only take it in when it’s convenient? Do we make time in God’s Word a priority?

Let’s do some honest sharing today. Where are you? How often do you take time to sit down and linger with your Bible?

Note: This blog was adapted from my book “Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith”

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