What does that mean? Read this article from The Navigators to find out!……………………..
The more I read and study my Bible, the more I realize the truth that all of the Bible is given to us by God for our growth in wisdom and faith. Here is a good example in this article about the Book of Lamentations. Here is my takeaway: “The author tells us, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lam 3:25). Among other things, this means that seeking the Lord may involve more than waiting, but it does not involve less. As much as it grates against our human impulses, we must wait on the Lord. This is a good practice for God’s people to learn even from their youth (verse 27).” From A Small Work………………
We cannot harvest hope from a hopeless situation. We need something from the outside.How to Find Hope When Hope Has Perished — A Small Work
An entertaining and insightful article. Here is a takeaway for me: Like in your own backyard garden, spiritual growth is a slow and miraculous process. From Pierce Taylor Hibbs…………………..
The prime takeaway here? “Everyone has theological blindspots. They are not false teachings…..” From Southern Equip…………….
As always, author and Bible teacher Randy Alcorn writes with a lot of biblical wisdom and insight. My main takeaway from this article? — Heaven is more real than our present reality, and our believing loved ones who have passed on already are enjoying a wonderful environment! From Eternal Perspectives Ministries…………
This article shows how biblical knowledge leads to increasing faith, which leads to leads to growing Christian character, which results in godly actions, in an ongoing cycle of spiritual growth! From Two Journeys…………………
I always appreciate the wisdom and biblical insight behind everything Randy Alcorn writes. And as a dad, I really appreciate what he has to say about being the kind of father who can easily apologize to his kids when he blows it! From Eternal Perspectives Ministries………..
I remember vividly a meal and conversation Nanci and I shared with Tony and Lois Evans at an event we were speaking at. I never tire of his messages—I am always riveted. I thank God for Tony and his family and his many years of faithful ministry. I love what we hear from him and…Dads, Your Humble Willingness to Apologize to Your Kids Speaks Volumes — Randy Alcorn’s Blog
I am coming back to this topic of contentment again with this article, because I take seriously Paul’s declaration that “contentment with godliness is great gain!” From Core Christianity……………
Wow…what a beautiful piece of writing! Heaven is not just a place; it is a Person!! From The Contenders……………….
I truly like the message behind this brief article. In this day and age of Instagram, LinkedIn, and online assessments out the wazoo, it is easy to get the idea that everyone has at least one area of real expertise. But what if I am not really not great at any one thing, just OK in a number of ways? Well, God has a slot for you too! From Seth Lewis……………
First of all: It is not at all unusual for believers to sometimes have doubts about God or about their faith — it means your human! Also, God does not count our doubt against us, because our salvation is not dependent on the strength of our faith and belief and assurance. He Who called us is faithful! From Core Christianity……………….
After we apply biblical faith to our study of the Bible, it should also naturally follow that we will study our Bibles in true Christian humility. From Knowable Word……………….
Because the Bible is a supernatural book, we cannot expect to derive any real benefits from reading and studying it in the natural. This article from Knowable Word focuses on the necessity of studying the Word in faith……………
Another in a series of articles from Knowable Word that goes into more depth into the lessons and wisdom to learn from this important book in the Old Testament. When we seek to “fix” someone else and their problem rather than really listen to them in their pain, then we are in danger of angering the Lord………………….
In this final article on saving faith, to have a vital and active faith, you must be seeking and receiving spiritual guidance constantly! From Two Journeys………………..
In part four of this series on saving faith, Andrew Davis talks about the necessity of the reliance on Christ. In fact, there can be no faith if we are independent and self-reliant. From Two Journeys………….
This article is the third in a series on saving faith from pastor and author Andrew Davis. This time he looks at faith that is sure of what is not seen now but is sure in the future. From Two Journeys………..
I got a lot out of this article from Crossway on studying the Bible. This quote is worth the price of admission: “One of the best ways to get to know someone is to ask them questions and stay curious. I’ve found that it’s the same with studying the Bible.”………………..
When the Book of Ruth is either preached or taught, the focus is on the faithfulness of Ruth and the loving manner of Boaz to redeem her and Naomi from their poverty as a kinsman-redeemer. But this article hones in on the lessons to be learned from the bitterness that Naomi had sunk to after the death of her husband and her two sons. Some great insights here from Redeeming Grace Ministries………………..
One of my very favorite websites is Knowable Word. They do a fantastic job of teaching people how to study the Scriptures effectively, and they break down the books in such a way that the important truths are grasped and made applicable.
In this article, the focus is on the difference between Job and his three friends and how they treat suffering in light of the sovereignty of God. The takeaway for me: Unlike the three friends, Job truly fears God, and believes that God can still use suffering to redeem and to restore………………….
This is an important and helpful article on understanding what having the mind of Christ means in terms of those who struggle with mental health concerns. My takeaway: Having the mind of Christ is more true than my depression or my anxiety. From the Mental Health Grace Alliance…………..
Money has its place in our planning for the future, but we should not focus exclusively on it and neglect these other essentials mentioned in this article by Christian financial advisor and pastor Chris Cagle. From Retirement Stewardship…………….
I tend to focus a lot on articles and books that help to make sense of trials and suffering, because in our human, finite thinking, we seem to default to thinking that if we are loved by the King of the Universe, then we should never have to deal with suffering. But of course, that is both illogical and unbiblical. This article from Two Journeys puts a little more insight into this important aspect of the spiritual Christian life…………..
Here is my takeaway from this neat little article: Jesus is not just our spiritual mechanic Who fixes what is broken; rather, He loves us and sympathizes with us in our pain and weakness. From Biblical Counseling Coalition…………………
In this second article on the series on faith, Andrew Davis focuses on the connection between faith and assurance. From Two Journeys………
This is the beginning of a series of articles on faith. And I like the thought of how faith is defined here: “the certainty of invisible spiritual realities.” From Two Journeys…………..
This final attribute in the series is especially precious to me. Because God is everywhere in His fullness, this also means He is with me personally in His fullness! From Evangelical Magazine…………………….
In this fifth part of this “Coffee Table Theology” series, we look at the infinity and incomprehensibility of God. From Evangelical Magazine out of the UK………………..
This article in the series of articles on the attributes of God focuses on the omniscience of God. God knows everything that is and everything that could be! From Evangelical Magazine…………….
This is the next in a series of “Coffee Table Theology” articles from Evangelical Magazine from the UK. This one is on the self-sufficiency of God. Why is this important for us as children of God? Read it and find out!……………….
Any article that references the movie What About Bob? — one of my all-time favorite movies — has to be worth a look! And it is! Death should not be viewed in the same way by followers of Jesus as it is by the world. From Barnabas Piper……………..
In the 1991 film, What About Bob? (one of the smartest and funniest movies of my lifetime) uber neurotic and unstable Bob Wiley befriends the family of his psychologist, the perfectly smug and superior Leo Marvin. When Bob crashes the Marvin family’s New Hampshire lake vacation, a thunderstorm forces him to spend the night with…How Death Defines Happiness — Barnabaspiper.com
Whether we had a great earthly dad or he was not so hot, as believers, our heavenly Father loves us and is always available to us and always has our best in mind for us! From JustinHuffman.org…………….
Here is one of the takeaways for me: “Doubt can be a gift from God to keep us humble.” This means we can’t demand that God explain Himself to us in all His particulars, and we must recognize that we are finite and must accept that our understanding will always be limited. From Biblical Counseling Coalition………………….
I appreciate this explanation of biblical faith from Pete Briscoe: “Faith is an action of the will based on the beliefs of the mind.” From Telling the Truth……………..
This article reminds us that the presence of Jesus is our assurace that we have been forgiven of all of our sins, and that His grace will sustain us until we reach the rooms He has prepared for us in His Father’s house. From New Growth Press…………………..
This short devotional reminds us of the great love of God for us, His children, and since we are His children, we have nothing to fear and everything to hope for….including becoming more like Jesus! From Learning From God’s Word……………
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been […]Our sin speaks out against us. Our Saviour speaks out for us. — Learning From God’s Word
Double Blessing: How to Get It. How to Give It by Mark Batterson (Multnomah/Random House; 2019)
This is the latest book by Pastor Mark Batterson, who has written several bestsellers, such as The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. As evidenced by the title, this book is about blessing — both the kind that we receive from God and the kind believers can pass on to others. Starting with the premise that blessing is God’s default nature toward us, Batterson splits the book into two parts — to describe what the blessing of God is and how we can perceive and receive His blessings. And the second part hammers home the real point of this book: That blessings are lavishly given to believers as God’s children, but after receiving blessings, we are to take our blessings and use them to bless others.
In the first section, the author starts with the story of Elijah and Elisha, and how Elisha had the audacity (and faith!) to ask for a double portion of the blessing that Elijah had received from God. And then he was granted his request by God and did many mighty and gracious blessings to people inside and even outside ancient Israel. From here, Batterson takes readers on a quick journey through the Old and New Testaments to highlight how the blessings of God are a thread found throughout Scripture. Batterson offers a beneficial description of how to think about God’s blessings — “Blessings are like an umbrella. An umbrella doesn’t change the forecast. Life will rain pain…But the blessing of God does provide covering of sorts, an extra layer of protection from the elements.”
The author then goes on in the rest of this first section with a word study of the meanings and applications for the Hebrew word for “blessing,” along with providing examples of characters in the Bible — like Jacob and Zerubbabel; and historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Charles Spurgeon. He chose these characters to illustrate that blessings from God do not deliver us from all evil, for all of these men suffered in some catastrophic ways in their lives, but the blessings came later after wisdom and faith were matured through these difficulties.
In Part Two, Batterson focuses on our giving of blessings to others. He summarizes that this way: “God has blessings for us in categories we cannot even conceive of. [And]… it is our job to steward those blessings by flipping them for others!” So, using examples from the founding of his church in Washington, DC — National Community Church — as well as stories and applications drawn from real-life events and biographies (along with neat scientific facts and trivia, which I find fascinating), Batterson shows how God means for His blessings to us are to be given for the sake of others. The author impresses on his readers that as we learn to grow in gratitude from the blessings we have received, God will also enable us to become more generous in giving to others in three categories — time, talents, and treasure.
Batterson’s writing is sincere and positive, and his lessons and encouragements are both engaging and entertaining. In reading this book, I certainly learned a lot about God’s desire to bless, what blessings really are, and how to maximize our blessings by sharing them with others. And as we do so, God blesses even more! I highly recommend this book!
Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World by Mike Cosper (IVP Books; 2017)
Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper tackles the very real difficulties that Christians in the West face to try to connect with and commune with a transcendent God, while all the world around us screams that there is no God or no better place other than the broken and disenchanted world all around us. Cooper makes a point of discussing the “disenchantment” of society in the West in anything outside our sense experiences, and that there is no absolute truth, and nothing to hope for after one dies. While fully and honestly admitting that life is very hard —- even for Christians (no “name it and claim it”) —- still, God’s grace can be easy at times to appropriate. This is the aim of Cosper’s book.
After a brief review of our post-modern and materialistic society and its impact on all people, including Christians, the author quickly launches into what he calls “pathways” to regaining our enchantment for the world around us, as well as the spiritual realm which is actually more real than what we can see and experience with our five senses.
The pathways that Cosper fleshes out are: One —- Re-enchanting Our World; Two —- Experiencing Grace; Three —- Bringing Scripture to Life; Four —- Withdrawing With God; Five —- Practicing Abundance; Six —- Throwing a Feast; and Seven —- Writing a Rule of Life. Cosper writes not as an expert in mastering these pathways, but rather as a fellow struggler who is learning how to live a transcendent life through wrestling with God, like Jacob did in the Old Testament. I believe a vast majority of believers struggle mightily in this area of living as God being the most real Person and true reality, and would greatly benefit from a book like this one. Highly recommended!
Atheists will sometimes claim that they have “looked for God” but did not find Him, so they concluded He does not exist. But God might not reveal Himself exactly in the way that the proud and insincere demand of him. An eye-opening article from apologist Kenneth Samples at Reasons to Believe……………….
Learning to Love the Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey (Reformation Trust Publishing; 2017)
In this most enlightening and informative book on the Psalms. Godfrey laments the fact that this vital part of holy Scripture which played such an important role in the life of the Jewish community for thousands of years, as well as for the Christian church for almost 1800 years has now fallen into a theological corner. In this book, Godfrey hopes to spark a new interest in the use the Psalter, both in corporate worship services, and in the personal devotions and prayers of believers everywhere.
Learning to Love the Psalms is neither a commentary or a devotional —- technically speaking. Yet the author both explains the occasions and use of the Psalms in ancient Israel —- like a commentary; but also shows how the theme of each psalm discussed can be used as a devotional and as a springboard to prayer and communion with the Father.
Godfrey describes the make-up and apparent theme and aim of each of the five Books that make up the Psalms in our Bibles today. After that description, the author details more of the interesting facts behind the psalms described (over 80 in all), how they tie into the overall theme of the Book in which they are found, and how modern-Christians can better understand and make more practical and spiritual lessons contained in each psalm. The book is written in a clear and entertaining manner, making it very accessible to the general reader; but with enough theological and expository insight to be very useful for pastors. Most highly recommended!
WHO GOD SAYS YOU ARE by Klyne Snodgrass (Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2018) covers a topic that sounds overwhelming and intimidating, but is rather an important core issue for every human – identity. By “identity,” Snodgrass means what “makes me me;” and since we all have a divine Creator Who made us the people we are for some distinct purposes, there can be no more important question for anyone to answer, but especially Christians. “Why did God make me like this, and does my life reflect who I really am?” But rather than a stuffy anthropological or philosophical treatise, Snodgrass does a wonderful job of demonstrating and explaining this issue in compelling and inviting ways.
After establishing the fact that only Christians have the ability to truly understand themselves – as opposed to all non-Christians – because we know our Maker; then the meat of the book discourses on nine factors the author says comprise the total makeup of our true identities. Quickly, those factors are: Our body; our history; our relations (and relationships); our self-interpreting of our memories; our chosen commitments; our actions; our boundaries; our ongoing change in temperament and styles of living; and the future we see for ourselves. The theme and goal of this timely book when “identity” is in so much confusion in the world, is that we can only truly understand ourselves by understanding the God Who not only created us, but loves us. Highly recommended.
Oh, to have some of the powerful faith of George Muller! Below is an excerpt from a sermon in which he tries to explain his understanding of biblical faith. A goal to shoot for! From ReasonableTheology.org……………
THE IMPERFECT DISCIPLE by Jared C. Wilson ( Baker Books; 2017)
This book is about discipleship but takes a different approach from most Christian books on this subject. The typical book by a pastor or Bible teacher who wants to explain how the Bible defines discipleship and how a person can become wholly sold out to Jesus — like the author! But this book is written by a former pastor who had to give up his pastorate due to stress, depression, and burnout. And he sets the goal for himself to write a book that encourages the average Christian who is trying to walk with Jesus while raising kids, going to school, and working long hours at a job that they are not exactly crazy about.
Wilson accomplishes this goal by openly admitting how messed up and thoroughly ordinary he is. He is no kind of example for other believers to follow. But this is the point, because until a believer is honest enough to admit how hopeless they are in trying to walk like Jesus on their own skills and willpower, the sooner they will be able to recognize the extraordinary grace found in the gospel. The author makes an interesting point that our Christian lives can be summed up in Romans 7 and 8 — that we fail in our sins daily, but God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of His intention to cause us to become like Christ through the efforts of the Spirit. And that God will not give up on us until we become glorified in heaven with Jesus and all of our spiritual brothers and sisters.
Wilson writes in a humorous and passionate style that is both engaging and encouraging. And he does a beautiful job in showing how spectacular and amazing God’s grace and love are and that any believer can live in confidence that by being a follower of Christ — even one who constantly stumbles — they are greatly loved and cared for by our heavenly Father. Highly recommended!
This devotion from pastor and author Mark Batterson is about open ears, ears open to God, and whose voice one listens to…………….
This article gleans the teachings on having a relationship with God from Chapter Two of the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard. That chapter discusses some general guidelines on hearing from God.
Willard says the first guideline in hearing from God is to know that God intends to develop a relationship with us as two persons who freely love each other with genuine agape love. This means we should not just want to hear God speaking to us but becoming someone engaged in a mature and loving relationship with Him. To have any meaningful conversation with God, we must be in communion with Him.
Willard then states that the second general guideline for hearing God is to believe that the people in the Bible were basically like us. If God could choose to communicate with those people, we have to believe that the Lord can speak to us today.
Finally, the third truth to keep in mind when considering receiving a word from God is that it does not necessarily mean we are righteous or what we believe He said is correct when He speaks to us. So, we must always be humble and curtail the temptation to announce, “God told me.”
Our next article in this series will focus on the fact that God is always with us and attentive to us.
This article will be the first in a series in which I discuss the wisdom I have received (and am still receiving) from the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard. This book is all about how to develop a conversational relationship with God.
Willard says that when we look at all of the examples in the Bible of God’s intentions for His relationship with humans, God deals individually with each person. So, there is a tremendous amount of evidence in both Scripture and the history of the church of the existence of God’s personal guiding communication with us. But paradoxically, there is also a pervasive uncertainty about how hearing God’s voice actually works today. This leads to many believers having so little clarity on what they should expect God’s voice to be like and how to deal with it that it only leads to more confusion when His voice does come to them.
To resolve this paradox that hinders people in their relationship with God, Willard says they need a clear understanding of God’s usual ways of guiding and communicating with us. Three ideas need to be reviewed before actually looking at specifics for communicating with God.
First, it must be recognized that God’s communications to us come in many different ways and forms. But we need to know about the methods that God has generally preferred to use in the Bible and Christian experience. Second, believers may have wrong motives for wanting to hear from God. An extreme preoccupation with our own security and comfort rather than a Christ-like attitude to commune with the Father or seek others’ wellbeing may result in God keeping silent with us. Third, our understanding of God’s communication will be flawed if we have the wrong conception of God’s nature and His intentions toward us.
When I read articles like this one, I get so upset with myself for ever thinking that God doesn’t know about or care about my life! From Core Christianity……………..
Only for the Christian is this possible, and only because of the indwelling of Jesus! From the Mental Health Grace Alliance…………………
by Nicholas Vafiades (NicholasV56)
I have suffered all of my life with severe anxiety and depression. And this includes my 35+ years as a Christian. I know that many other believers struggle as I do, and maybe even get to feeling “faithless” and “unworthy” before God for feeling that way. But God is neither surprised nor angry or frustrated with our struggles.
I am a voracious reader and student of the Bible and have tried numerous methods suggested by the thousands of books and sermons one can find these days on how better to handle stress. But I have discovered something — or rather realized — a solution that has stared at me in the face from the pages of Scripture. And it begins with one word: Remember.
Of course, anxiety and depression (like mine) often have some physical/chemical reasons, along with childhood trauma and emotional makeup that contribute to it. And I take medications and do most of the other things I can to reduce those feelings. But there is one beneficial thing that God Himself pointed out to us in His Word, and it starts with that little word “remember.”
In fact, if one were to do a word study on “remember,” that word appears over 230 times in the NIV, for instance. But here is the thing I discovered: I have to make a choice to remember what God has done for me in the past, and the character He displays all throughout Scripture. In other words, when I am stressed and anxious or doubting, I have to remember to remember.
This was apparently a problem for a large number of both individuals and tribes and nations to put into practice, too. Here are some examples of those who did not remember or forgot to remember:
- Moses and the Israelites: Nu. 15:39-40 — “You will have these tassels to look at, and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord…Then you will remember all my commands and be consecrated to your God.”
- Joshua: Jos. 1:13 — “Remember the command that Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you….”
- David: 1 Chron. 16:12 — “Remember the wonders he [God] has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced….”
- Solomon: 2 Chron. 6:42 — “Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David, your servant.”
- Psalm 63:6 — On my bed, I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”
- Jeremiah: Jer.15:15 — Lord, you understand; remember me and care for me.
- The women at the Empty Tomb: Luke 24:6 — “He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you while you were still in Galilee….”
- Hebrews 10:32 — Remember those earlier days after you had received the light when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.
- Jesus to all believers: Rev.3:3 — “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard: hold it fast, and repent.”
So, I am slowly learning that when I am anxious or doubting to stop and remember — not only all the hundreds and thousands of times that God never let me down. I also remember that folks in the Bible (even the so-called heroes), had to pause, stop, and remember on God and His love and faithfulness. So, REMEMBER to REMEMBER!
Ask the Holy Spirit to cause you to grow more and manifest more of His fruits! From Randy Alcorn…………….