HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE

  1. I.                                WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
  1. 1.       The Bible is God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).  It was written over a period of about 1600 years by over 40 different human authors, who were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).
  • 2.       The word “Bible” (biblos) means “book.”  Even though the Bible is one book, it has two major parts–The Old Testament, which is comprised of 39 individual books, and the New Testament, which is comprised of 27 individual books.  The word “Testament” (Heb. Berith; Gk. Diatheke) means “covenant, or arrangement between two parties.”
  • 3.       God gave the Old Covenant or Testament to Moses for the people of Israel (Exodus 24).  Later, the prophet Jeremiah announced that God would make a new covenant with all His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34), which Jesus did at the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Matthew 26:28).
  • 4.       Today, all people are required by God to live under the New Covenant or New Testament.
  • “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Galatians 3:24, 25).  (See also Hebrews 7:19; 8:6; 9:23).
  • 5.       Although we live under the New Covenant, we should still study the Old Testament because it is the inspired Word of God.  It teaches us about the nature of God, and it provides us with examples of how we are to live and not to live (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
  1. II.                              WHY STUDY THE BIBLE?
  1. A.                 WE SHOULD STUDY THE BIBLE BECAUSE IT IS OUR DUTY.
  1. 1.      I could plead with you to study the Bible for personal edification; I could appeal with you to study the Bible for personal happiness; I could beseech you to study the Bible because it would be the most fulfilling and rewarding educational experience of your life.  But ultimately the main reason why we should study the Bible is because it is our duty.
  • “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
  • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
  • “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
  • 2.      For a Christian, Bible study is not an option.  It is our duty. 
  • III.                            WHY DO SOME PEOPLE DISREGARD BIBLE STUDY?
  1. A.                 SOME PEOPLE DO NOT READ THEIR BIBLES BECAUSE THEY THINK IT IS TOO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.
  1. 1.      It is true that in some places the Bible is not easy to understand (2 Peter 3:16).  But for the most part, the Bible is simple to read and understand.  If we can read the newspaper, we can read the Bible.  In fact, I would venture to guess that more difficult words and concepts are expressed on the front page of a newspaper than on most pages of the Bible. 
  • B.                SOME PEOPLE DO NOT READ THEIR BIBLES BECAUSE THEY THINK IT IS BORING AND IRRELEVANT TO THEIR LIVES.
  1. 1.      The Bible is the most relevant and exciting book that has ever been produced. 
  1. a.      Martin Luther once said, The Bible is alive, it speaks to me.  It has feet, it runs after me.  It has hands, it lays hold of me.
  1. IV.                           IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN READING THE BIBLE AND STUDYING THE BIBLE?
  1. A.                 THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN READING AND STUDYING.
  1. 1.      Reading is something we can do in a leisurely way, something that can be done strictly for entertainment in a casual manner.  But study suggests labor, serious and diligent work.
  • 2.      Most people read their Bibles but do not study their Bibles.  Reading the Bible is valuable (Nehemiah 8:2, 3) and there is a time and place for it.  But Studying the Bible is also valuable and is necessary in striving to understand God’s truths (Ezra 7:10).  This class is going to be geared towards learning how to study not read the Bible.
  • V.                             BASIC TOOLS RECOMMENDED FOR BIBLE STUDY.
  • Listed below are some basic study tools that I recommend for Bible study.  This is not an exhausted list.  There may be many other good books on the market that are not listed.  The * sign at the end of some of the references means that they are expensive. 
  1. A.     A GOOD BIBLE TRANSLATION.
  1. 1.      When studying the Bible, we should use not just one translation but many well-chosen translations.  We should do this in order to get the best possible meaning from the text.
  • 2.      We should buy a Bible that is as close as possible to the original Hebrew and Greek wording as it left the inspired writers hand and a Bible that we can understand.  Below, are some of the best translations on the market.  This is not an exhausted list.
  • The New American Standard Version.
  • The New King James and King James Versions.
  • The Revised and New Revised Standard Versions.
  • The New International Version.
  • B.    A GOOD BIBLE DICTIONARY.
  1. 1.      A Bible dictionary provides valuable information about all aspects of the Bible.  It provides historical, chronological, archaeological, geographical, social, theological, and biographical information.
  • The New International Dictionary of the Bible (Zondervan).
  • New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmans).
  • The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Eerdmans).*
  • Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Zondervan).
  • C.    A GOOD WORD STUDY BOOK.
  1. 1.      A word study book provides definitions for the Hebrew and Greek words.
  • A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Arndt & Gingrich (Chicago).* You must know the Greek alphabet in order to use this volume. 
  • Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nelson).
  • Expository Dictionary of Bible Words by Lawrence Richards (Regency).
  • The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates (AMG).
  • Dictionary of New Testament Theology by Collin Brown (Regency).*
  • D.    A GOOD COMMENTARY.
  1. 1.      The best way to buy commentaries is to buy them one at a time when you begin to study a specific Bible book.  Each commentary is normally written by one author and expresses his or her interpretation of the Bible book.  Commentaries that are based on the Greek and Hebrew texts are the best.
  • The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Set (NIV, Regency). 
  • The Word Commentary Set (Zondervan).*
  • The Living Word Commentary Set (ACU Press).
  • The New International Commentary Set (Eerdmans).
  • The New Century Commentary Set (Nelson).
  • I have mentioned four tools for Bible study: a good Bible translation, Bible dictionary, word study book, and commentary.  Of course, there are other kinds of tools, but for studying the Bible these are the essential ones.
  • VI.                           MATTERS TO CONSIDER WHEN STUDYING THE BIBLE.
  1. A.                 BEFORE WE STUDY THE BIBLE, WE SHOULD PRAY.
  1. 1.      As we come to hear what God has to say, we need to talk to Him.
  • David prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law” (Psalm 119:18).
  1. a.      This ought to be our prayer as we come to study the Bible.
  • 2.      In our prayer we should invite the Holy Spirit to join us in our study.
  1. a.      After all, the Holy Spirit according to (John 16:13) is here to guide us into all truth. 
  • 3.      In our prayer we should ask for forgiveness of sins.  If God used holy men of God to write His book, He wants holy men of God to interpret His book.  If one is not in a proper relationship with God, it is not realistic to think he will be able to interpret the Bible correctly.
  • B.                BEFORE WE STUDY THE BIBLE, WE SHOULD CLEAR OUR MINDS OF UNNECESSARY THOUGHTS SO THAT WE WILL BE TOTALLY FOCUSED ON THE BIBLE.
  • “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (Psalm 119:15).
  1. 1.      There is no way we can meditate on God’s Word unless we clear our minds of worldly concerns.
  • C.                WHEN STUDYING THE BIBLE, WE SHOULD HAVE AN OPEN MIND.

ILLUSTRATION:

In Image Magazine, Tim Curtis writes, on the last day of 1944, Hiroo Onoda, a young lieutenant in the Japanese army, arrived on the island of Lubang, about 75 miles southwest of Manila.  His assignment was to conduct guerilla warfare against the American forces who were expected to attempt a landing on Lubang and the rest of the Philippines within the coming weeks.  When the Americans did mount a successful offensive on Lubang about a month later, something which to them was little more than a “mopping up” operation, Lieutenant Onoda led a small group of soldiers into the jungle and began the mission for which he had been trained: to conduct a covert operation of disruption against American forces for as long as possible.

Onoda was a man of exceptional valor and loyalty.  Like many Japanese soldiers in World War II, he was prepared to take his own life rather than surrender, but in his case, specific orders were given not to take his life.  He was to stay alive as long as he could in order to do maximum damage to the enemy.  As he made his way to Lubang, he recalled the promise of his division commander: “Whatever happens, we’ll come back for you.”  Onoda vowed to himself, “I will fight till that day comes.”  It did indeed finally come…30 years later. 

On March 10, 1974, on the orders of his former commander, Hiroo Onoda formally surrendered to the Philippine authorities.  For 30 years he had manned his post, unaware that the war had ended just six months after he had gone into the jungle.  Two others had been with him for portions of that time.  One died after 10 years, and the other was killed in a gun battle with Philippine police about a year before Onoda surrendered.  At the time he was found, Onoda was making plans to survive another 20 years in the jungle.

One of the most remarkable things about Onoda’s story was that several attempts had been made to find him and bring him home to Japan.  Once Japanese officials learned that Onoda was continuing to fight a war that had long since ended, search parties spent months at a time trying to locate him.  Leaflets and newspapers were dropped from helicopters.  Loud speakers blared messages from several family members, including his father.  Onoda, convinced that Japan would never surrender, misinterpreted these attempts to find him.  He even twisted things around to believe that the Japanese army was using these efforts to secretly encourage him to stay in the jungle, the very opposite of what they were trying to do.  In his autobiography, No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, Onoda wrote that he and his two comrades “developed so many fixed ideas that we were unable to understand anything that did not conform with them.  If there was anything that did not fit in with them we interpreted it to mean what we wanted it to mean.”

  1. 1.      Too often, people study the Scriptures looking for ideas that support their own interpretation of the Bible.  In doing this, they misinterpret God’s intended meaning. 
  1. a.      Baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).
  • b.     Kitchens in church buildings (1 Corinthians 11:22, 34).
  • 2.      We must go into Bible study with an open mind and allow God’s Word to dictate its own meaning.  We must never bring our own theological heritage to the texts as we read them.
  • VII.                         HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE.
  • The best way to study the Bible is to study it one book at a time.  If God wrote us a letter, wouldn’t He expect us to read that letter from the beginning to the end?  It wouldn’t make sense if we only read bits and pieces. 
  1. A.                 THE FIRST STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO SURVEY A BIBLE BOOK.
  1. 1.      Read a book two or three times without using any study aids.
  1. a.      Focus on the book as a whole.
  • b.     Seek to understand its meaning as a whole.
  • 2.      When reading the book, look for several things:
  1. a.      Theme or the purpose of the book.
  • b.     Who wrote the book and why?
  • c.      To whom it was written?
  • d.     Book’s outline.
  • B.                THE SECOND STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO STUDY THE BOOK ONE PASSAGE AT A TIME.
  1. 1.      Determine the passage boundaries.
  1. a.       What is a passage?
  • (1)       A passage is a group of verses that usually has one major idea.
  • (2)       It varies in length.
  • (3)       It could consist of two sentences or it could consist of a whole chapter.
  • b.      Example:
  • (1)       (1 Corinthians 1:1-9) is one passage.  It is the greeting section.
  • (2)       (1 Corinthians 1:10-17) is one passage.  It is describes the division that was taking place in the church in Corinth. 
  • C.                THE THIRD STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO READ THE PASSAGE CAREFULLY.
  1. 1.      Read the passage several times to try to figure out what it says.
  • D.                THE FOURTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO DETERMINE THE LITERARY STYLE OF THE PASSAGE.
  1. 1.      After reading the passage several times, try to determine what style of literature it is.
  • 2.      God chose to use almost every available kind of literature to communicate His Word to us.  Below are some examples of the different types of literature God uses.

DISCOURSIVE LITERATURE

  1. 1.       Discoursive literature involves a presentation of ideas in an argumentative or logical form.  It presents the truths in terms of a “chain of logic” or “ideas.”  Many times, commands are found in this type of literature. 
  • 2.       The gospels and epistles use a great deal of discoursive literature.
  • 3.       How do we interpret discoursive literature?  We must carefully observe the logical development expressed within the book or passage.  We must be able to “trace the argument” in the book.  Each major argument of the writer should be treated as a paragraph within the passage.
  1. a.      (Read Matthew 5:43-48)  What is the primary teaching of this passage?
  • We are to love our enemies.
  • b.     (Read Ephesians 4:26, 27)  What is this passage teaching?
  • We must not sin when we get angry.  We need to resolve our anger before we go to bed at night.
  • c.      (Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-12)  What is the primary teaching of this passage?
  • A man in the church was having a sexual relationship with his father’s wife, which was a sin, and the church was ignoring the situation.  Paul told the church not to tolerate flagrant sin because leaving the sin undisciplined will have a dangerous influence on other believers (5:6).  Paul encouraged the church to put the man out of their fellowship (5:2, 5, 13) so that the man would repent and turn back to the Lord (5:5).

NARRATIVE LITERATURE

  1. 1.      The Bible contains more of this type of literature than it does any other kind (over 40% of the Old Testament is narrative).
  • 2.      Narratives are stories.  Their purpose is to show God at work in His creation and among His people.  The following Old Testament books are largely or entirely composed of narrative material: Genesis, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Jonah, and Haggai.  Moreover, Exodus, Numbers, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Job also contain substantial narrative portions.  In the New Testament, large portions of the four Gospels and Acts are narrative.
  • 3.      How do we interpret narrative literature?  Below, are several principles for interpreting narratives.
  1. a.      A narrative does not always directly teach a doctrine (Matthew 1-3).
  • We must not strive to build doctrines with narrative literature. 
  • b.     A narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught proportionally elsewhere.
  • For example, in the narrative of David’s adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) you will not find any such statement as “In committing adultery and murder David did wrong.”  You are expected to know that adultery (and murder) are wrong, because this is taught explicitly already in the Bible (Exodus 20:13, 14; Matthew 5:27f).  The narrative illustrates through King David the effects of adultery. 
  • According to (Mat. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:17-34), we are to partake the Lord’s Supper.  But how often are we to partake of it?  According to the narrative passage in (Acts 20:7), we are to partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. 
  • c.      Narratives record what happened — not necessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time.   What people do in narratives is not necessarily something we must always follow. 
  • In (Acts 2:45; 4:34, 35), we have an example of the early church selling their possessions and giving the money to the poor.  Is that a doctrine that we as Christians must follow today?  No.  The Bible does not command us or teach us elsewhere to sell all of our possessions and give them to the poor.  This narrative account simply explains how the early church gave to the poor.
  • In (Acts 1:26), the early disciples cast lots to determine who would replace Judas as their next apostle.  Does this mean we should cast lots when making decisions?  No.  The Bible does not command us in this passage or in any other passage to cast lots.  This narrative account simply explains how the early disciples made their decision in choosing Matthias as their next apostle.
  • 4.      We need to be very careful when interpreting and applying narrative literature.  A good applicable narrative usually illustrates a doctrine that is taught elsewhere in Scripture.  Not every narrative passage applies directly to us today.

PARABOLIC LITERATURE

  1. 1.      The parable employs the principle of analogy.  This is indicated by the significance of the word “parable” which is a combination of the Greek terms “para” and “ballo” and therefore connotes “that which is thrown or put forth beside something else” (hence analogy).  A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
  • 2.      Thus a parable consist of two parts, the spiritual truth which is being illustrated and the brief narrative which is used as the vehicle to illustrate it.
  • 3.      How do we interpret parabolic literature?  We must recapture the “punch” or the “primary teaching” in each parable. 
  1. a.      (Read Lk. 16:19-31)  What is the primary teaching of this passage?
  • This parable is in the context of money (Read Lk. 16:13-15).  The Pharisees considered wealth to be a proof of a person’s righteousness.  Jesus startled them with a story where a diseased beggar is rewarded and a rich man is punished.  Just because your wealthy doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed a place in heaven. 
  • b.     (Read Mt. 18:21-35)  What is the primary teaching of this passage?
  • Since God has forgiven us of our sins, we must forgive our fellow man when he sins against us. 

POETRY

  1. 1.       Biblical poetry has three main characteristics.  First, it utilizes figurative language (ie. Is characterized by “a chain of images” or “imagery”).  Second, it is emotional in nature.  Third, it employs parallelisms of different types.  Psalms, Proverbs contain the most poetic type of literature.
  • 2.       How do we interpret biblical poetry?  We must not take every word in poetry literally.  Instead, we must realize that the poet employs flexible language and that he expresses feelings rather than rigid logical concepts.
  1. a.      (Read Psalm 17) Does God have wings?  No, wings represent “shelter” (63:7; 91:4).  This image comes from the animal world, comparing God’s protective care to that of a bird with its young. So David was praying to God for care and protection from his enemies.

APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE

  1. 1.      The term “apocalypse” literally means “uncovering” or “revelation.”  Apocalyptic literature is a genre characterized by the use of symbolism and imagery and contains descriptions of fantastic visions that describe unseen realities or events to come.  The books of Ezekiel, and Daniel in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation in the NT are good illustrations of this type of literature.
  • 2.      How do we interpret apocalyptic literature?  In interpreting apocalyptic literature, it is imperative that we do several things:
  1. a.      First, we need to remember that apocalyptic literature uses a great deal of imagery.  We should seek to understand what the imagery teaches before we try to understand its language as a literal description of reality.
  • (1)        Who are the seven golden lampstands (Rev. 1:20)?  The seven churches.
  • (2)        Who is the great dragon (Rev. 12:9)?  Satan.
  • (3)        Who is the harlot or the woman in (Rev. 17:18)?  Rome.
  • b.     Second, it is essential that we seek to establish what an apocalyptic passage must have meant to the original audience who heard it read for the first time.  Ask questions like:
  • (1)       How did it speak to their situation?
  • (2)       What would it have meant to them? 
  • (3)       What was the original writer trying to convey to his audience?
  • E.                 THE FIFTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO TENTATIVELY DETERMINE THE THEME OR THE MAJOR POINT OF THE PASSAGE.
  1. 1.      When the writer wrote a passage, he had a purpose in mind.  There is a central theme to every passage.  It is up to us to figure out what that purpose is.
  • 2.      After we read the passage several times, we should ask and answer the question,
  1. a.       What is the writer trying to say?
  • b.      What is the major idea of this passage?
  • 3.      The theme of a passage could be a word or a phrase that expresses the essential idea.
  • 4.      The theme could be found in the beginning, center or end of a passage.
  • 5.      What is the central idea or theme of these passages?
  1. a.      (Read Mt. 6:25-34)  The central idea is “do not worry about your life” (v. 25).
  • b.     (Read Mt. 8:1-4)  The central idea is “immediately he was cured of his leprosy” (v. 3).
  • c.      (Read 1 Cor. 1:18-25)  The central idea is “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24).
  • 6.      Once we find the theme, it is easier to understand the teachings of the passage.
  • F.                 THE SIXTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO DETERMINE THE MEANING OF WORDS IN THE PASSAGE.
  1. 1.      The Bible is a book, which communicates information verbally.  That means that it is filled with words.  Thoughts are expressed through the relationship of those words.  Each individual word contributes something to the whole of the content expressed.  The better we understand the individual words used in biblical statements, the better we will be able to understand the total message of Scripture.

HOW DO YOU CONDUCT

A WORD STUDY?

  1. A.     THE FIRST STEP IN CONDUCTING A WORD STUDY IS TO ISOLATE THE SIGNIFICANT WORD OR WORDS IN THE PASSAGE THAT NEED SPECIAL STUDY.
  1. 1.       Example:
  • “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Tim. 2:11, 12 NIV).
  • “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim. 2:11, 12 KJV).
  • 2.       If you were studying this passage, what words do you think need to be defined in order to understand the interpretation of the passage?
  • Silence.
  • Authority.
  • B.    THE SECOND STEP IN CONDUCTING A WORD STUDY IS TO STUDY THE WORD IN ITS ORIGINAL LANGUAGE.
  1. 1.      Before you can study a word in its original language, you must first find out what that word is in its original language.
  • 2.      There are several ways to do this.
  1. a.       You can look that word up in the Greek or Hebrew text.
  • b.      You can use an interlinear Bible.
  • c.       You can use a computer software package.
  • d.      You can use a concordance.
  • e.       You can use a Bible word dictionary.
  • f.         You can use a Bible that has the Strong’s numbering system.
  • 3.      Once you have identified the word in its original language, you then begin to see what the scholars say about it.
  1. a.      What does the NIV Concordance say about the word?
  • It says that this word is used four times in the NT.
  • It is translated quiet, quietness, settle down, and silent.
  • b.     What does the Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of OT and NT Words say about the word?
  • It says that the word means “quietness” when used as a noun.
  • c.      What does the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible say about the word?
  • First, it has a transliteration of the word to help you better pronounce the word “hay-soo-khee’-ah”.
  • It says it means “stillness, quietness, or silence.”
  • d.     What does the Complete Word Study Dictionary of the NT say about the word?
  • In the sense of stillness, it means, “silence.”
  • 4.      At this point, does the word mean “quietness, silence or stillness.”  Since a word can have different meanings, how do you know which definition should be used. 
  1. a.      First, go to each verse in the NT where that word is used and see how it was defined in that context.

(2 Thess. 3:12)

  • “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 3:11-13 KJV).
  • “We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.  And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right” (2 Thess. 3:11-13 NIV).

(Acts 22:2)

  • “Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence…” (Acts 22:2 KJV).
  • “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”  When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.  Then Paul said…” (Acts 22:2 NIV).
  • From this word study, I conclude the Greek word (hesuchai) means “quietness and not total silence.”  This passage is not teaching that women cannot say anything for instance in Bible class.  Woman can ask questions and make comments just like men can.  However, women are to learn in quietness and not assume a lead teaching role over men.
  • “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:11, 12 NAS).
  • G.                THE SEVENTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO IDENTIFY THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT OF A PASSAGE.
  1. 1.      The word “context” is composed of two Latin elements, con (“together”) and textus (“woven”).  Therefore, when we speak of the context, we are talking about the connection of thought that runs through a passage, those links that weave it into one piece.
  • 2.      Finding the context of a passage is very important because it brings an understanding of the underlying thought of the passage.  When we discover the context, we discover the thought that the writer had in mind. 
  • 3.      How do you identify the immediate context of a passage?
  1. a.      Read the passage thoroughly from beginning to end and study it until you become familiar with its basic thrust.
  • (1)        The worst mistake a Bible student can make is interpreting a portion of a passage while neglecting the context.
  • (2)        (Read 1 Corinthians 5:6-7). 
  • If you read these two verses without looking at the context your initial interpretation may be that it is a sin to allow yeast to make its way into a batch of dough.
  • To understand the context of these two verses you must start reading and studying (5:1-13).  A man in the church was having a sexual relationship with his father’s wife.  Paul told the church to disfellowship this man, so that his sin would not spread through the church and influence others.  The yeast in verse 6 is sin and the batch of dough is the church.
  • b.     To find the context, read carefully the material that precedes and the material that follows the passage.
  • (1)       (Read Luke 15:11-32). 
  • (2)       Why did Jesus tell this parable?
  • This parable is in the context of (15:1-2).  The Pharisees did not like the fact that Jesus associated with sinners.  In the Pharisees way of thinking, sinners were considered unclean and unfit for the kingdom of God.
  • Jesus in the parable of the Prodigal Son taught the Pharisees an important lesson about God’s attitude towards sinners.  In this story, the prodigal son represents sinners in general; the older brother represents the self-righteous Pharisees; and the father in the story represents God.  Jesus’ shows us in the story that God accepts and forgives sinners who repent and return to Him.  God cares about sinners.  In fact, He gets excited when sinners repent.
  • H.                THE EIGHTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO CONDUCT A TOPICAL STUDY.
  1. 1.      Once we determine what a passage is teaching, we should find out what other passages say about the same subject.
  • 2.      How can we find other passages related to a topic?
  1. a.      Use Bible study tools.
  • (1)        (Read 1 John 1:9).  If you want to find out more about confession of sin, go to specific resources and look up the information.
  • Thompson Chain Reference Bible.
  • Naves Topical Bible.
  • The International Bible Encyclopedia.
  • 3.      Once you discover what the Bible says about a topic, it will help you better understand the passage you are studying.
  1. I.                    THE NINTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO CONDUCT A BIOGRAPHICAL STUDY.
  1. 1.      In Bible study, when we come across names of characters, we should find out more about them.
  • 2.      How do we conduct a biographical study?
  1. a.       Use a Bible Dictionary.
  • (1)        (Read Acts 10:1).  Who is Cornelius?
  • According to The Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Cornelius was a devout Roman proselyte, the first representative Gentile introduced to the gospel of grace.  For us to truly appreciate Acts 10, we need to know that Cornelius was the first Gentile convert–a significant theological implication.  We can learn a lot of information by conducting biographical studies.
  • J.                  THE TENTH STEP IN BIBLE STUDY IS TO APPLY THE PASSAGE.
  1. 1.      Once we have studied a passage carefully, it is then time to determine its application.
  • 2.      To apply a passage carefully, we need to ask several important questions.
  1. a.      Does this passage apply to me today? 
  • (1)        We need to realize that some passages are cultural in nature.  Some passages do not directly apply to us today.
  • (2)        (Read 1 Tim. 5:23). 
  • Some people take this passage as a Bible command to drink wine. 
  • Why do you think Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine?  Perhaps contaminated water had led to Timothy’s illness and that is why Paul wanted him to stop drinking water only and drink a little wine.
  • This passage is not an invitation for us to drink wine.  It is a passage that applied directly to Timothy and not us.
  • 3.      If the passage applies to us today, we need to ask several questions.
  1. a.       Are there commands to obey?
  • b.      Are there examples to follow?
  • c.       Are there principles to live by?
  • d.      Are there sins to forsake?
  • e.       Are there errors to avoid?
  • f.         Are there any thoughts about God?
  • g.      What is this passage teaching me?
  • (1)        (Read Acts 19:1-7).
  • How would you apply this passage?  To me, the example I would follow is that if you feel that your first baptism was not for the right reasons, then you should be re-baptized for the right reasons.  This passage gives an example of re-baptism. 
  • (2)        (Read 1 Cor. 7:29-35).
  • How would you apply this passage?  Paul urges all believers to make the most of their time before Christ’s return.  Every person in every generation should have this sense of urgency about telling the Good News to others.  Paul is saying, “Don’t spend all your time and energy on your family.  Some of your time must be devoted to the Lord and His Will.
  • (3)        (Read Ex. 34:6-7).
  • What application do you find here?  This passage tells us about the nature of God.  We learn more about Him.  This is a teaching passage.  It teaches us about God.

CONCLUSION:

  1. 1.       I hope and pray that these lessons have helped you understand how to study the Bible.
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: Unmarried Couples Living Together

This is an answer to a question Toni wrote when she was a ghostwriter for gotquestions.org

Question 35999: Unmarried Couples Living Together

            First, be very clear on one point – What you told your friend is not close-minded or simply your opinion, but the very Word of God. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery”. (Matthew 5:27) Premarital sex falls into the same category. Any sex outside of marriage is against God’s will.

On the other hand, Matt 7:1 tells us, “Stop judging others and you will not be judged.” Also, the bible tells us in Romans 14:1 to accept Christians who are weaker in their faith and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. Additionally, gentleness is always more persuasive than accusation. Be sure that your motivation is loving and not self-righteous. Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord so let Him tell them whether they are right or wrong.” But, they were talking about what pleases God and we know that breaking the Lord’s commandments is not pleasing to Him.

This is tough because we do not know if your friend is a believer behaving badly, (John 3:36), or a nonbeliever behaving normally according to secular standards. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Corinthians 2:14

So if she is a nonbeliever – Romans 3:3 says, “What if some did not believe {and} were without faith? Does their lack of faith {and} their faithlessness nullify {and} make ineffective {and} void the faithfulness of God {and} His fidelity to His Word?” Of course not! As Christians, we know that premarital sex is sin. But unless we are dealing with another believer, it will fall on deaf ears to tell her that. Instead, pray for her whenever you think of her and let God turn her heart and show her His purpose for her life.

You could do little else than tell your friend that she is living in sin. Now, just show her Christ in your lifestyle and pray, continuing to love her, asking for God’s blessing on her life and a gradual turning of her heart for her eternal sake.

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Lay speaker class

Good Morning.

I’d like to read from the 116th Psalm, verses 12-14

What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?

            I will take up the cup of my salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows to the Lord. Now in the presence of all His people.

Let’s pray:

Thank you Father for your Word and for your love. Bless us this morning as we seek wisdom from your word and power from Your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus name, we pray.

Amen

David was right when he said that our experience of the past two weekends was rewarding. Actually, that’s an understatement. The people involved with the Lay Speaker’s program are a group of dedicated, truly spiritual people who put together a wonderful program for us.

When some of you asked me, “How was school”, all I could say was, “Well, I thought it was very interesting… but possibly out of my league.” That too…was a gross understatement. But, nevertheless, I went and put on what I call my “Paper Lion Suit” and pretended at least partial nonchalance. That’s my survival tactic when I’m really scared witless. So…now you can probably better understand why I titled my talk: 

Who Do I Think I Am?

Although I enjoyed the experience of being at Lay Leaders school, after the fact, I really was a somewhat reluctant participant.  If you can picture the old vaudeville image of the truly rotten performer who is yanked off the stage by this huge hook around his neck, that’s a good visualization of how God got me there that morning!

The basic group consisted of a bunch of people and so we were divided up…And, of course, David and I were each put into different classes.

We were first directed to introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about jobs and families, which I guess was okay…you know, somewhat uncomfortable for us introvert types, but a pretty normal request in a new group and all… But then… as an  “ice breaker”, and I almost couldn’tbelieve this, our teacher told us to give a five to ten minute impromptu presentation about our the two most important people in our lives that had been the most influential to us through our spiritual growth. Nothing like jumping in with both feet!

 In the face of everyone’s testimonies, right off the bat, I was glaringly different from everybody else in my class…. They each had all these lovely recollections of generations of loved family members who had provided them with these wonderfully strong, nurturing backgrounds. We won’t go into my background, but believe me it wasn’t anything like there’s. So, from almost the first hour of class, I felt myself to be somewhat lacking…Somehow less qualified to position myself for leadership than the others because I never had any nurturing type experiences as a point of reference or source of confidence as they had.

            But like the psalm I read to you, I still felt gratitude towards God that I needed to express. When I asked what I could do to show my appreciation to God, I had ended up there in that class, so in some way, I did belong there.

So…Though I might have come from a very different childhood and environment than my classmates, it wasn’t really about that… or even about who was less or more qualified. For me, it was just about loving the Lord for what He has done for me and needing to share Him with others.

I once had an angry, bitter heart. God healed me of that dark outlook on life and that was a tremendous blessing. But that’s another long story and not what I’m here to talk about today. I’ll just say that God’s ability to heal anythingmatters. …It matters a lot.

I learned about forgiveness when it was next to impossible to be forgiving. Because, you see, that lesson was for my benefit.  My forgiveness wasn’t really for those who I eventually forgave. That’s the part of it that is so important  –. That God literally changes us from what we were into what He wants us to become and it’s always better.

We are actually transformed by the word of God and the love contained within it…And unless we are willing to proclaim that fact, we are being selfish children.

A lot of what Paul wrote to his friends from his confinement in a Roman jail became quite literally, food for my thought. I’m sure you all know the verses I’m referring too, where Paul more or less says,

            Brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one thing more: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in othersThink about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

Those words… those words inspired by the Holy Spirit did literally change my way of thinking. And so dismal, angry thoughts were eventually replaced with happy, life-giving ones. Christian thoughts… delivered from resentment and shame. All I had to do was accept His healing and simply choose to fill my mind with His goodness through the power of His word.

So great…But that has to mean more than just sitting around all day having nice thoughts.  There has to be some effect…some action…that my Christian thinking and living has on the world around me. The beauty that has been disclosed to me is not meant to be held as my own personal secret.

In Matt 5:13-16 Jesus said,

You are the world’s seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world? And you yourselves will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

You are the world’s light – a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to seeDon’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see… so that they will praise your heavenly Father.

I can’t let my uplifting thoughts go unrealized, which they will if I’m not taking some action to share them and give them life. So then I must do something, take some action. 

Serving God with singleness of purpose and putting the concerns of His kingdom first are actions that follow His will and free me from anxiety over any lesser things.

Jesus tells us not to accumulate treasures on earth and not to even worry about our lives at all.  He illustrates His point by comparing what He gives us to God’s provisions for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. We may not know them word for word, but we all know those verses:

Basically, He tells us not to sweat the small stuff but to use our energies more wisely. To seek God and His ways and everything else will take care of itself.  But, we so often overlook this instruction.

We are progressive people, becoming more and more educated, more and more capable – We acquire more and more prestigious things, all the while puffing our chests out further and further. Either that – or we’re worried sick because we’re not as accomplished as so and so, or we haven’t acquired the new car or overpriced house on the lake.

Whether we are situated on the outside or the inside of that treadmill, the resultant anxiety is the same. Worry has become natural to a lot of us – As natural as eating or sleeping. Why I know a lot of people and I’ll bet you do too, who couldn’t possibly get through a day if they didn’t have something to worry about. It’s almost as if worrying was a part of their nature.

Does this tendency to worry have anything to do with what Jesus means in the seventh chapter of Matthew were He talks about entering heaven through the narrow gate? He says that the highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow and only a few ever find it. Do you suppose we will find it by worrying?.

We are literally required as children of God to abandon concern for anything other then our spiritual growth and the commission given to us of telling the world about Him.  God is God. He knows what we need and only He controls tomorrow. So are we going to actually obey God…or just think about our striving to be obedient? That was the decision I had to make – You know, actually “Walk the talk.”

It’s a bit unnerving to consider what Jesus says in Matt 7:21.

Not everyone who says to me Lord ,Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

For most of us, it’s easy to designate things like lying or deliberate cruelty, or murder, as sins…Those are pretty clear-cut and we can simply decide not to commit them. But worrying is also sinful. Jesus says it is. And that’s just not something most of us think of when we think of being sinful.

For example;

All I could do, from the time we were given the assignment to get up in front of everyone and give a ten minute sermonette, until… well, from that Saturday till the following Tuesday afternoon, was to consider all the possible subjects I could speak about and then worry my heart out about my inability to do it.

My thinking went something like this:

How in the world did I get myself into such a predicament?

Whatever possessed me to think myself capable of preaching to anybody else?

I have no credentials or special talents in relation to public speaking – What was I thinking?

Who in the world do I think I am?….And on and on like that till I had a knot the size of a melon gripping my stomach. It wasn’t until I forced myself to stop and look at how worried and fearful I had become that I was able to actually start to work on this assignment.  But before I could do it, I first had to hand it over to God – Truly leave it with Him.

You see, all the worrying in the world wasn’t going to make me the least bit more capable.  Only God’s grace could do that.  Only when I turned the outcome over to Him could I envision myself speaking clearly and comfortably without having a heart attack from the stress.

Again, my answer came from His Word: (Phil4:13)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

So when the temptation to second guess my situation – to beat myself up with thoughts of inadequacy comes, I have to see that for what it really is.  Its just another way that Satan has of creeping into my thoughts and stealing my confidence and perverting my good intentions until I think myself foolishly presumptuous.

Who do I think I am to stand up and preach the Word of God? Well… I’m predestined to adoption as a child of God, purchased and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise who guarantees my inheritance into heaven.  That’s who I am and there is no room for false pride or insecurity in the power of that!

All I have to do is ask the Father to give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.  Because then the eyes of my understanding are enlightened and I recognize the nature of His calling in me which is far above any puny negative power.

 So I can answer the question of whether I should presume to be here with faith. (Eph 2:8) For by grace I have been saved through faith, and that not of myself, but it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest I should boast. For I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that I should walk in them.

So, I put on the armor of God… that I may be able to stand and open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel. I am not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers few. So, like others of us here, I have heard the Holy Spirit call me and I have chosen to be among the few.

And I believe that we are called with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. (2 Tim1:9)

I’d like to close with one final Bible quote from Matt 12:31

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.

When the Holy Spirit calls, we can only obey.

Praise God and may He so richly bless each of you.

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Why should I get baptized?

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why should I get baptized

“Why should I get baptized?” is an important question for Christians to answer. From the earliest days of the Christian church, baptism has been a foundational step of faith universally observed by believers immediately following salvation (Acts 2:38418:1238).

The act of baptism by immersion in water outwardly expresses the inward experience of change that happens in the life of every believer at salvation. It demonstrates that the old way of life has ended, and a new life of faith in Jesus Christ has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17). Baptism is important because it provides a visual testimony—a public declaration to the world—that symbolically identifies the new believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Bible supplies several reasons why baptism is an important step in the Christian life:

Baptism is an expression of saving faith. Like a stamp of validation, baptism represents our salvation experience and the magnificent work of Jesus Christ in dying for our sins and rising for our justification: “For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead” (Colossians 2:12, NLT).

Baptism is God-ordained and commanded by Jesus. As part of His Great Commission to the church, Jesus gave these instructions: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). Baptism is an integral part of Christian discipleship and is meant to be an ongoing practice of the church.

Baptism is an act of obedience to our Savior, expressing our desire to please God. The word Christian means “Christ-follower.” Since Christ called us to baptism and set the example by being baptized Himself (Matthew 3:16), neglecting to be baptized is disobedience to the command of Christ.

Baptism unites us with Christ by identifying us with His death, burial, and resurrection: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3–4). When we repent of our sins and come to faith in Jesus Christ, baptism testifies of our union with Him.

Likewise, baptism represents our death to the old life of sin and our new birth into resurrection life and freedom from bondage to sin: “Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:5–7, NLT).

Baptism also identifies us with the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–13). It is an emblem that says we now belong to Jesus Christ and His people: “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes” (Galatians 3:26–27, NLT).

Baptism gives public testimony of the Holy Spirit’s inward work of washing away our sins: “And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21, NLT; see also Acts 22:161 Corinthians 6:11).

A correct understanding of baptism means comprehending that it is more than religious ritual or church tradition. The significance of baptism originates in the death of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who died in our place to pay for our sins, and who triumphed over death through His resurrection, securing for us new life in the Spirit and eternal life forever with God.

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Can a Believer Lose Their Relationship with Jesus?

Once a person trusts Christ as their Savior can they lose this relationship? Is the salvation that Jesus offers, either conditional or unconditional.

If is unconditional, then there is nothing we can do to lose it. If it is conditional, then there is some thing or some things that we can do to lose it. The real issue is, What does the Scripture say?

What Does The Bible Say?

As the Scripture is carefully studied we find that a true believer in Jesus is safe and secure eternally. The following relevant passages make this clear.

1.Never Perish

Jesus said those who believe in Him will never perish:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:27,28).


These verses could not be stronger. Those who trust Jesus will never perish. Jesus said nobody will take believers out of His hand. This is because believers are securely held in the arms of God the Father.

2.Eternal Life

The Bible promises eternal life to all who believe in Christ. The most famous verse in the Bible says:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).


The promise of eternal life is not true if it can be lost. There is, however, nothing conditional stated in this promise. If a person believes in Jesus they shall have everlasting life. Everlasting means forever.

3. Present Possession Of Believer

Those who believe in Jesus presently possess eternal life.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).


Salvation, therefore, is not something that is far off in the future—it is a present possession of the believer. Salvation is not looked upon as a day-to-day thing. We do not keep ourselves saved day after day. Scripture treats our salvation as something that is secure forever.


Eternal Life Defined

Thus eternal life has already begun for the believer. The Bible defines eternal life as knowing Christ.

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3).


4.Nothing Shall Separate

The Bible says nothing shall separate us from Christ.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword . . . For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38,39).


This passage makes it clear that nothing shall separate Christ from those who have trusted Him. Nothing. This includes the believer separating themselves from Christ.

5.Christ Remains Faithful

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day (2 Timothy 1:12).


The Apostle Paul stresses the fact that Christ is able to keep that which we have committed.

6.He Keeps Us From Falling

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — (Jude 24).


The idea here is that He is the one who keeps us from falling, we are not keeping ourselves.

7.Kept By God’s Power

The Bible says that we are kept by God’s power, not our own.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

8.We Have Been Glorified

The Bible already speaks of us as being glorified:

And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified (Romans 8:30).



9.It Is A Gift

Salvation is a gift. A gift is often confused with something earned. No one can earn their salvation, it is God’s gift to us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).


It has been given to us by Christ, we had nothing to do with earning our own salvation.



10.We Are Joined To Christ

Once a person has been born again by the word and the Spirit of God he receives new life in Christ. God puts Christ’s righteousness on his account

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

11.Christ’s Sacrifice Is Adequate

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was adequate for our salvation.

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14 ).


There is nothing that can be added or taken away from His sacrifice.

12.He Will Complete What He Started

The Bible says it is God’s power that saves us:

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).


He started the salvation process, He will finish it.

13.Kept By God’s Power

Furthermore, that which keeps us saved is God’s power, not our own.

who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).


We did not save ourselves, we do not keep ourselves saved.

14.We Are A New Creation

We are identified with Christ as a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
And raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).


15. Christ Paid The Penalty Once

Jesus Christ has paid the penalty once and for all for sins. God will not demand payment for a second time. The Bible says:

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
Since Christ has died for our sins we will never have to die for them.

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Hey Good Looking – Nobody’s Looking

By Toni Smothers

 

Colossians 3:12-14 tells us about some pretty gorgeous attire. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” 

Did you notice that phrase, “over all?” (Not to be confused with “overalls” – that’s an entirely different look!) Well, Christian comedy aside, God instructs us all to put on love. It’s not something we fall into, like a free-fall off a cliff into the ocean. And love doesn’t fall on us, like a bucket of cold water over the head. Putting on love is a deliberate decision. It’s like choosing what to wear and then dressing for the day.

There are personal things to remember when getting ready. Things that you’d rather others not see. You know, unmentionables, like underwear or deodorant. (Gosh, I can’t believe I just mentioned those!)  But, and this is the super-neat part, the child of God gets to put on “God’s love” and wear it so that His love is the very first thing that others see when they look at you. Understand, your figure or fashion sense is so insignificant compared to your obvious happiness. Your sparkle, laughter and smiles are the features that attract others.   

Knowing all this intellectually, and ignoring the God sparkles for now; I have been known to stand almost comatose like a kid in a cocoon, carefully contemplating the contents of my closet. Besides being an outrageously contrived tongue-twister, this contemplation is not always a happy task for me. I bet you’ve already guessed that my clothes are a bit snug lately, so it often takes longer than I’d like to find an outfit that comes even remotely close to fitting my “current version.” No matter how long I moon over them, those too small clothes do not magically transform into larger ones. Just knowing that makes me respond with a little discontent. On some level of thought, (albeit irrational), my peevishness makes perfect sense to me.

I know, it sounds pretty weird, but since I’m the worst pack-rat in existence, it seems like there should be some value in those irritating garments that mock me. After all, some of those tiny clothes are authentic antiques. Funny thing is, many of them are back in style again. Yeah, well, a lot of good it does me. I can’t get my big toe into most of them. (Twisting and contorting is quite the unsightly sight, if you know what I mean.)

All right, I admit it, there’s no rational explanation I can offer for hanging on to those old clothes. It’s probably got to do with fond memories, (or delusions), of a perfect “Barbie-doll” body. Not to worry, though: Pride has a way of simmering down when thrown into the refiner’s fire. God’s not especially into our clothes, but He does want to supernaturally transform us through faith in Jesus. We can evolve, incrementally, into more loving people who shine with the joyful assurance that God grants whoever would earnestly seek him.

Whoever you are, whatever shape you are currently in, you can still rely on His perfect love every time. You see, when it’s from God, there are no physical qualifications or strings attached. He gives freely to all His children. And, (drum roll), His love even comes in an expandable fit!

Yeah, come to think of it, His garment of salvation grows right along with me. Christ’s unmatchable act of sacrifice wraps around me no matter what, so that even in my swollen state, (head included), He’s got me covered. It’s a most luxurious fit. But the absolutely incredible part is that my Savior calls me His own “beautiful bride!” You gotta love it!  

In Isaiah 61:10, the bible tells us what the well-dressed child of God is sporting these days: “He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” I know one thing, I’ve never had to squirm and fight my way into God’s garments. (You know, I’ve always suspected that spandex is not of God!)

Anyway, my garments of salvation and my robe of righteousness came straight from God, through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. It’s Jesus’ robe I get to wear. I must say, I feel like a real winner in it.

Love is the ultimate accessory. It just kind of pulls it all together. Christ’s robe to cover me, God’s great love within me and His Holy Spirit to fill me, these garments surpass anything I could ever come up with. (And it certainly beats the skinny, “Twiggy” look.)

With or without the thunder thighs, try Jesus on for size. We’re talking one really great fit!

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One to One Discipling

 

 DISCIPLESHIP

WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?

1.  State in your own words what you think Jesus meant when he made the following claims:

Q-1a.   John 10: 30-33

John 10:30-33 (NLT)  

The Father and I are one.”

31Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. 32Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?”

33They replied, “Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God.”

   A-1a.  This is the clearest statement of Jesus’ divinity he ever made. Jesus and his Father are not the same person, but they are one in essence and nature. Jesus is not merely a good teacher—he is God. His claim to be God was unmistakable. The religious leaders wanted to kill him because their laws said that anyone claiming to be God should die. Nothing could persuade them that Jesus’ claim was true.

Q-1b.  John 14:8-9

John 14:8-9 (NLT) 

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”

9Jesus replied, “Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see him?

  A-1b.   Jesus is the visible, tangible image of the invisible God. He is the complete revelation of what God is like. Jesus explained to Philip, who wanted to see the Father, that to know Jesus is to know God. The search for God, for truth and reality, ends in Christ.

2.   State in your own words what others thought of Jesus Christ.

Q-2a.  The Apostle John (John 1:1,14)  

John 1:1 (NLT)  

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God.

John 1:14 (NLT)  

So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.

  A-2a.   What Jesus taught and what he did are tied inseparably to who he is. John shows Jesus as fully human and fully God. Although Jesus took upon himself full humanity and lived as a man, he never ceased to be the eternal God who has always existed, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and the source of eternal life. This is the truth about Jesus, and the foundation of all truth. If we cannot or do not believe this basic truth, we will not have enough faith to trust our eternal destiny to him. That is why John wrote this Gospel—to build faith and confidence in Jesus Christ so that we may believe that he truly was and is the Son of God.

Q-2b.  Thomas ( John 20:25-28)  

John 20:25-28 (NLT)

They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28”My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

  A-2b.   Have you ever wished you could actually see Jesus, touch him, and hear his words? Are there times you want to sit down with him and get his advice? Thomas wanted Jesus’ physical presence. But God’s plan is wiser. He has not limited himself to one physical body; he wants to be present with you at all times. Even now he is with you in the form of the Holy Spirit. You can talk to him, and you can find his words to you in the pages of the Bible. He can be as real to you as he was to Thomas.

Jesus wasn’t hard on Thomas for his doubts. Despite his skepticism, Thomas was still loyal to the believers and to Jesus himself. Some people need to doubt before they believe. If doubt leads to questions, questions lead to answers, and the answers are accepted, then doubt has done good work. It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a life-style that doubt harms faith. When you doubt, don’t stop there. Let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer.

Q-2c.   His enemies (John 5:18)  

(John 5:18) (NLT)

So the Jewish leaders tried all the more to kill him. In addition to disobeying the Sabbath rules, he had spoken of God as his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.

A-2c.   The enemies of Jesus thought he was a threat to their authority as religious leaders of the Jews.

3.   Who do you say Jesus is and why?

  A-3.   Jesus is my Savior and Lord. He has tangibly changed me from the inside out. I have experience with many answered prayers and I know that I can trust him because of all the times He has helped me in the past. Jesus, The Father and The Holy Spirit are all one God.

WHY DID JESUS CHRIST COME?

Q-1.   What problem does Romans 3:23 say we have?

Romans 3:23 (NLT)  

For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

A-1.   Some sins seem bigger than others because their obvious consequences are much more serious. Murder, for example, seems to us to be worse than hatred, and adultery seems worse than lust. But this does not mean that because we do lesser sins we deserve eternal life. All sin makes us sinners, and all sin cuts us off from our holy God. All sin, therefore, leads to death (because it disqualifies us from living with God), regardless of how great or small it seems. Don’t minimize “little” sins or overrate “big” sins. They all separate us from God, but they all can be forgiven.

Q-2.     What solution does 1 Peter 3:18 offer?

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) 

Christ also suffered when he died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

A-2.     Christ died for our sins. No matter how great or small, sin is sin and we need forgiveness because

      we all are sinners. God supplied the answer to our sin debt by sending his son, Jesus, to die on the cross as a sin sacrifice for all who turn to Him in repentance.

Q-3.     What is the significance to us of the resurrection of Christ from the dead? (1 Peter 1:3)

1 Peter 1:3 (NLT) 

All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.

A-3.     He has paved the way for all believers to be born again.The term born again or new birth refers to spiritual birth (regeneration)—the Holy Spirit’s act of bringing believers into God’s family. We’re called into a living hope of eternal life. Our hope is not only for the future; eternal life begins when we trust Christ. No matter what pain or trial we face in this life, we know that it is not our final experience. Eventually we will live with Christ forever.

EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT

Q-1.   What was the apostle Paul’s experience in coming to know God (Acts 22:6-10)?

Acts 22:6-10 (NLT) 

“As I was on the road, nearing Damascus, about noon a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’

8” ‘Who are you, sir?’ I asked. And he replied, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’ 9The people with me saw the light but didn’t hear the voice.

10”I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that you are to do.’

A-1.   Paul fell to the ground as God appeared as a bright light and he spoke to Paul telling him to go into Damascus and wait to hear what God wanted him to do.

Q-2.   What was Lydia’s experience in coming to know God (Acts 16:14)?

Acts 16:14 (NLT) 

One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

A-2.     Lydia’s heart was opened and she listened to Paul. After following the Holy Spirit’s leading into Macedonia, Paul made his first evangelistic contact with a small group of women. He preached to these women, and that’s when Lydia, an influential merchant, believed. This opened the way for ministry in that region. God often worked in and through women in the early church as He still does today.

Q-3.   What was Timothy’s experience in coming to know God (2 Timothy 1:5)?

2 Tim. 1:5 (NLT)  

I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois.

A-3.   Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois, were early Christian converts, possibly through Paul’s ministry in their home city, Lystra. They had communicated their strong Christian faith to Timothy, even though his father was probably not a believer. Don’t hide your light at home: our families are fertile fields for planting gospel seeds. Let your parents, children, spouse, brothers, and sisters know of your faith in Jesus, and be sure they see Christ’s love, helpfulness, and joy in you.

DO NOT DEPEND ON FEELINGS; EMOTIONS CAN DECIEVE (top page 7 in blue book)

Q-1.  FACT: The facts about the Christian life are in the Bible. Does a fact change?

   A-1.  No

Q-2.  FEELINGS:

    Q-2a.  Do our feelings change?

     A-2a.  Yes

     Q-2b.  What determines whether our feelings are up or down?

     A-2b.  Our emotions

Q-3. FAITH:

Q-3a.   If we put our faith in our feelings and our feelings are determined by circumstances, what will our faith do?

A-3a.   Change around.

Q-3b.   If we put our faith in facts (and a fact is true and does not change), what will our faith be like?

A-3b.   Unchanging and strong.

THREEFOLD CONFIRMATION

1 John 5:9-13 (NLT)  

Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10All who believe in the Son of God know that this is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life.

 13I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

Col. 1:6 (NLT)  

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours that very first day you heard and understood the truth about God’s great kindness to sinners.

1 John 2:3-6 (NLT)  

And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. 4If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. 6Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.

1 Thes. 1:9 (NLT)  

for they themselves keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God.

VOLITIONAL COMMITMENT

FACTS TO PUT YOUR FAITH IN

  1. God sent His Son; faith in Him saves you. John 3:15-18,36

John 3:15-18 (NLT)  

so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.

16″For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.

18″There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.

John 3:36 (NLT)  

And all who believe in God’s Son have eternal life. Those who don’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them.”

Q-1a.  To whom does the “world” refer?

A-1a.  To all people who do not know Jesus. The unsaved.

Q-1b.  What does God promise?

A-1b.   There is no judgment awaiting those who trust Him.

Q-1c.  What is our part?

A1-c.   We must trust in God.

Q-1d.   What is His part?

A-1d.    He sent His son to die for our sins.

Q-1e.    If you, by faith, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, will you have eternal life or condemnation?

A-1e.    We will have eternal life.

2. Your sins are forgiven. Read Colossians 2:12-14.

Col. 2:12-14 (NLT)  

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

13You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. 14He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.

Q-2a.  How many of your sins were forgiven?

A-2a.  All our sins – past and present.

Q-2b.  If God has forgiven you, why are there times when you might be haunted by quilt feelings?

A-2b.  Because Satan tells us that we are not forgiven and we sometimes listen to him.

Q-2c.  What can be done about unconfessed sin? (1 John 1:9)

1 John 1:9 (NLT)  

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.

A-2c.  We can confess sins as we commit them so that none go unforgiven and forgotten.

.

3.  You became a child of God. Read John 1:12,13

John 1:12 (NLT)  

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1:13 (NLT)  

They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God.

 Q-3a.  What people are spiritually born into God’s family?   

 A-3a.  All who welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God. Through faith in Christ, this new birth changes us from the inside out—rearranging our attitudes, desires, and motives. Being born makes you physically alive and places you in your parents’ family. Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family. Have you asked Christ to make you a new person? This fresh start in life is available to all who believe in Christ.

 Q-3b.  When you received Christ what did you become?

 A-3b.   A child of God.

4.  You received eternal life. Read 1 John 5:11-13.

1 John 5:11-13 (NLT)  

And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life.13I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

 Q-4a.  According to this passage, where is eternal life to be found?

 A-4a.   In Jesus, the Son.

 Q-4b.   If a person has Christ in his life, what else does he have?

 A-4b.   Eternal life.

Q-4c.   1 John 5:13 states, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the

Son of God, in order that you may (hope that, feel like, guess that, work towards, or know that) you have eternal life.” Mark out the incorrect words.

Q-4d.   Do you know that you have eternal life?

A-4d.   Yes.

Q-4d.   On what basis?

A-4d.   Because Jesus died to save me from my sins and He bought me eternal life with the sacrifice of His life on the cross.

Q-4e.   If you have eternal life now would it be possible for you not to have it tomorrow?

(John 6:37-40) (Hebrews 13:5)

John 6:37-40 (NLT)  

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want. 39And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day. 40For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life—that I should raise them at the last day.”

Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)  

Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,

“I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.”

A-4e.   Once you are saved, you are forever saved.

DECIDING ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS

Q-1. Is salvation something you earned? (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Ephes. 2:8-10 (NLT)  

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

A-1.  No. On what basis did you obtain it? It is a gift of God. How do good works relate to your salvation? We can not obtain salvation through good works.

Q-2.   Do you have the assurance that Christ is in your life? Yes. Are you sure that if you died right now, you would spend eternity with God in heaven? Yes

Q-3.   If you have invited Christ into your life, now or earlier, where is He right now? He abides within my heart. By what authority do you know? By the authority of the Word of God.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT QUESTIONS

Q-1.  How does a marriage relationship illustrate requirements for our relationship with Christ?

A-1.  We need the same commitment to Christ.

Q-2.   A simple head knowledge of the facts of the Gospel is not enough for salvation.  However, these facts must be believed intellectually. What are the facts? (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)

1 Cor. 15:3-6 (NLT)  

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. 5He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. 6After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now.

   A-2.   Christ died, was buried and rose again on the third day. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the   right hand of God, the Father Almighty.

Q-3.  How might your emotions cause you to doubt that you have a relationship with God?

   A-3.   If we listen to our feelings, Satan has an inroad by which he can confuse us.

Q-4.   What is the threefold confirmation God gives us that Jesus Christ is in our lives?

A-4a.  Trustworthy Word

A-4b.  Confirming Holy Spirit

A-4c.   Changed Life.

DISCIPLESHIP

APPOINTMENT  #2

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

Read John Chapters 1-7

Psalm 96:1-13 (NLT)  

Sing a new song to the Lord!

Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!

2Sing to the Lord; bless his name.

Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.

3Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.

Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

4Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!

He is to be revered above all the gods.

5The gods of other nations are merely idols,

but the Lord made the heavens!

6Honor and majesty surround him;

strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;

recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.

8Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!

Bring your offering and come to worship him.

9Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.

Let all the earth tremble before him.

10Tell all the nations that the Lord is king.

The world is firmly established and cannot be shaken.

He will judge all peoples fairly.

11Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice!

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!

12Let the fields and their crops burst forth with joy!

Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise

13before the Lord!

For the Lord is coming!

He is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness

and all the nations with his truth.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)  

“Be silent, and know that I am God!

I will be honored by every nation.

I will be honored throughout the world.”

1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN

Psalm 103:19 (NLT)  

The Lord has made the heavens his throne;

from there he rules over everything.

2 Samuel 7:28 (NLT)  

For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to me, your servant.

1 Chron. 29:10-13 (NLT)  

Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! 11Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 12Riches and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength.

13″O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!

2. GOD IS ETERNAL

Isaiah 44:6 (NLT)  

“This is what the Lord, Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty, says: I am the First and the Last; there is no other God.

Rev. 1:8 (NLT)  

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.”

1 Tim. 1:17 (NLT)  

Glory and honor to God forever and ever. He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

3. GOD IS OMNISCIENT

Hebrews 4:13 (NLT)  

Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.

Job 42:2 (NLT)  

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.

Isaiah 40:12-14 (NLT)  

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed out the mountains and the hills? 13Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to be his teacher or counselor? 14Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good or what is best?

4.  GOD IS OMNIPRESENT

Jeremiah 23:24 (NLT)  

Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” asks the Lord.

Proverbs 15:3 (NLT)  

The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

Deut. 31:6 (NLT)  

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.”

Col. 1:17 (NLT)  

He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together.

5.  GOD IS OMNIPOTENT

Philip. 3:20-21 (NLT)  

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.

Psalm 147:5 (NLT)  

How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!

His understanding is beyond comprehension!

Ephes. 3:20 (NLT)  

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

Romans 1:16 (NLT)  

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—Jews first and also Gentiles.

Genesis 1:1 (NLT)  

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)  

The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven.

 Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)  

The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven.

6.  GOD IS IMMUTABE. God never changes in his nature or attributes.

Numbers 23:19 (NLT)  

God is not a man, that he should lie.

He is not a human, that he should change his mind.

Has he ever spoken and failed to act?

Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Psalm 102:27 (NLT)  

But you are always the same;

your years never end.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)  

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)  

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 39Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

7.  GOD IS RIGHTEOUS.  It is impossible for him to do or cause anything that is wrong.

Deut. 32:4 (NLT)  

He is the Rock; his work is perfect.

Everything he does is just and fair.

He is a faithful God who does no wrong;

how just and upright he is!

Isaiah 45:20-25 (NLT)  

“Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save! 21Consult together, argue your case, and state your proofs that idol worship pays. Who made these things known long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the Lord? For there is no other God but me—a just God and a Savior—no, not one! 22Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. 23I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.”

24The people will declare, “The Lord is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed. 25In the Lord all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.

  Psalm 111:1-3 (NLT)  

Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart

as I meet with his godly people.

2How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!

All who delight in him should ponder them.

3Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.

His righteousness never fails.

2 Cor. 5:21 (NLT)  

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Matthew 19:23 (NLT)  

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

8.  GOD IS JUST.  It is impossible for his to do anything that is unfair, either to himself or to man.

Rev. 15:3-4 (NLT)  

And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your actions,

Lord God Almighty.

Just and true are your ways,

O King of the nations.

4Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship before you,

for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”

2 Thes. 1:3-10 (NLT)  

Dear brothers and sisters, we always thank God for you, as is right, for we are thankful that your faith is flourishing and you are all growing in love for each other. 4We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. 5But God will use this persecution to show his justice. For he will make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering, 6and in his justice he will punish those who persecute you. 7And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, 8in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power 10when he comes to receive glory and praise from his holy people. And you will be among those praising him on that day, for you believed what we testified about him.

2 Tim. 4:8 (NLT)  

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.

Romans 1:18 (NLT)  

But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves.

9.  GOD IS OVE.  God is perfect infinite love, his love is given freely and without any consideration of the loveliness or merit of the object.

John 3:16 (NLT)  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)  

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 39Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 3:16 (NLT)  

We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)  

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

10.  GOD IS VERACITY.  He is absolute truth.

Psalm 33:4 (NLT)  

For the word of the Lord holds true,

and everything he does is worthy of our trust.

Titus 1:2 (NLT)  

This truth gives them the confidence of eternal life, which God promised them before the world began—and he cannot lie.

John 18:38 (NLT)  

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.

Romans 1:18 (NLT)  

But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves.

Romans 1:25 (NLT)  

Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.

THE HOLINESS OF GOD

Rev. 4:1-11 (NLT)  

Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things.” 2And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! 3The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. 4Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. 5And from the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven lampstands with burning flames. They are the seven spirits of God. 6In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.

In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. 7The first of these living beings had the form of a lion; the second looked like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth had the form of an eagle with wings spread out as though in flight. 8Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty—

the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

9Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one who lives forever and ever. And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

11″You are worthy, O Lord our God,

to receive glory and honor and power.

For you created everything,

and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created.”

Isaiah 6:1-8 (NLT)  

In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. 3In a great chorus they sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” 4The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke.

5Then I said, “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!”

6Then one of the seraphim flew over to the altar, and he picked up a burning coal with a pair of tongs. 7He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?”

And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”

1 Peter 1:14-16 (NLT)  

Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. 15But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. 16For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

Psalm 139:1-24 (NLT)  

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

O Lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me.

2You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my every thought when far away.

3You chart the path ahead of me

and tell me where to stop and rest.

Every moment you know where I am.

4You know what I am going to say

even before I say it, Lord.

5You both precede and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too great for me to know!

7I can never escape from your spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

8If I go up to heaven, you are there;

if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.

9If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.

11I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night—

12but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are both alike to you.

13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.

15You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

before a single day had passed.

17How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!

They are innumerable!

18I can’t even count them;

they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up in the morning,

you are still with me!

19O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!

Get out of my life, you murderers!

20They blaspheme you;

your enemies take your name in vain.

21O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?

Shouldn’t I despise those who resist you?

22Yes, I hate them with complete hatred,

for your enemies are my enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my thoughts.

24Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 145:1-21 (NLT)  

A psalm of praise of David.

I will praise you, my God and King,

and bless your name forever and ever.

2I will bless you every day,

and I will praise you forever.

3Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!

His greatness is beyond discovery!

4Let each generation tell its children

of your mighty acts.

5I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor

and your wonderful miracles.

6Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;

I will proclaim your greatness.

7Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;

they will sing with joy of your righteousness.

8The Lord is kind and merciful,

slow to get angry, full of unfailing love.

9The Lord is good to everyone.

He showers compassion on all his creation.

10All of your works will thank you, Lord,

and your faithful followers will bless you.

11They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom;

they will celebrate examples of your power.

12They will tell about your mighty deeds

and about the majesty and glory of your reign.

13For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

You rule generation after generation.

The Lord is faithful in all he says;

he is gracious in all he does.

14The Lord helps the fallen

and lifts up those bent beneath their loads.

15All eyes look to you for help;

you give them their food as they need it.

16When you open your hand,

you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

17The Lord is righteous in everything he does;

he is filled with kindness.

18The Lord is close to all who call on him,

yes, to all who call on him sincerely.

19He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;

he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

20The Lord protects all those who love him,

but he destroys the wicked.

21I will praise the Lord,

and everyone on earth will bless his holy name

forever and forever.

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Got questions.org

Toni Smothers was a ghostwriter for gotquestions.org for a few years this is one of her answers.

Question 36709: What does it mean to honor thy father and mother?

What if they are non-Christians? I know whoever does not leave their family to follow Christ will not enter heaven, but does this mean we should cut all ties?

There is a difference between obeying and honoring your parents. (Ephesians 6:1-3) To obey means to do as one is told; to honor means to respect and love. Children are not told in the Word to disobey God in order to obey their parents. Children are to obey their parents while they are still under parental care so long as they don’t demand something that would go against God’s Word. Adult parents are not required to be subservient to domineering parents.

The responsibility to honor parents is for life, however. God promises us His blessing for honoring them always. Children should honor their parents even if they are demanding and unfair. God’s blessing will be sufficient reward.

Cutting all ties with your family would only be hurtful. Praying daily for their changed hearts and eternal salvation would be much more productive and loving. Pray and be an example of Christ’s behavior and character for your parents to see. Live your faith out in front of them without jamming it down their throats or totally giving up on them.(Proverbs15:29, 1 Peter 5:3) Withholding your prayers is actually sinful. (I Samuel 12:23)

If we cut all ties with all the non-Christians in our life, who will we be telling the “good news” to? It is our great commission to spread the gospel to all the nations, not turn our backs on the lost of this world, especially our own family members.

Count yourself exceedingly blessed to be among God’s chosen. Simply out of gratitude, have no wish to glorify yourself or feel superior, (John 8:50), but be humble, (Ephesians 4:2), gentle and peace loving, (1 Timothy 3:3) do everything for the glory of God, (I Corinthians 10:31) and never alienate or stop praying for and loving your parents.

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Heart to Heart

TeensHeart to Heart
By Toni Smothers



Suppose that one day you could be Jesus. Jesus wakes up in your bed, digs through your stuff to pack your bag of books you’ll need for the day at school. You still have the same problems, your room is still a disaster, your schedule is still hectic and nothing else about your life changes. You dress in your clothes and mumble, “I’m not hungry,” to your mom as you leave for school. Or would you stop to appreciate that breakfast and even hug your mom before you go? Jesus’ heart would be yours and he would live your life for one full day. Imagine…

Just for this one day, you live your life with Jesus’ heart instead of your own. His passions would become yours. His love would direct your behavior. What would it be like? Would you look around the school yard just for your friends, dismissing all the regular mob of kids? Or would you find yourself smiling a little like a silly, giddy person, just caught up in the beauty of the day and the wonder of life? Would all the kids seem different? Would each one bring you joy as you casually pass by? How would you perceive the nerdy kids? Do you think you would still make fun of them or be jealous of the popular cover girl club? Any chance you’d feel less stressed, maybe need fewer Tylenol that day? Would you still dread math class? Would you still do what you normally do?

Would you stick to your schedule and still do what you had planned for the day? Take a second to think about a typical day. Would you live it the same way? With Jesus taking over your heart, would anything change?

Guess what? That’s exactly what God’s plan for you is. He wants you to think and act like Christ Jesus. “Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.” (Philippians 2:5-7 NLT)

God’s plan for you is nothing short of a new heart. Radical? You bet it is!

So, will your day include compassion towards that fat girl that everyone, including you, usually makes fun of in gym class? Will you be open to learning with an enthusiastic spirit and get all you can from the days work? You see, just because God loves you just the way you are, He won’t ever leave you this way. He wants so much more for you. There isn’t anything you can do to make God love you more or less, but there is so much He can do to help you love yourself and others better. With your heart filled with Jesus you can not act the same way as usual.

Try it out. Get up a little earlier tomorrow. Kneel at your bedside and speak to God. Ask Him to make your heart new. Ask for a heart like Jesus and ask for Him to stay with you all day long. Every time you even think of doing or saying something tacky, a silent tug at your heart will ask you to reevaluate. You don’t have to, of course, because He allows you your free will at all times, but you could choose to listen. You could choose to dump any ugliness for the joy of the Lord.

So what if someone snubs you and acts stupid. Forgive them and keep your joy. If your test score comes back lower than you’d hoped, determine to study more and ask God to help you in that area too. When you get PMS and want to just curl up in a little pity party, think of Christ hanging on the cross. Be nicer to everyone. By comparison, you might find a different perspective on those mood swings. Let every word in the Bible guide you until the words are written in your heart and you know that Jesus lives in you forever.

Christ was scorned by many yet He was ready to forgive everyone before they even asked for His mercy. Can you forgive those who have hurt you and move on? It’s so liberating to begrudge no one and choose love instead. Choose to lay aside what you think you’re entitled to. Rise to a higher standard of living.

Often people excuse selfishness, pride, or evil by claiming their rights. They think, “I can cheat on this test; after all, I deserve to pass this class,” or “I can spend all this money on myself – I worked hard for it,” or “I can get an abortion, I have a right to control my own body.” But as believers, we should have a different attitude, one that enables us to lay aside our rights in order to serve others.

Remember, you can choose your attitude. You can approach life expecting to be served, or you can look for opportunities to serve others, just as Jesus did. Just keep on asking and He’ll help you make the right choices.


Toni Smothers is a child of God, wife, mom, grandmother, writer and lay-speaker. She has had serious exposure to the rougher side of life and from that experience has been left with a heart full of love for others who struggle with learning about our beautiful Savior. Through her writing, Toni delights in helping young people especially,

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Surviving A Dysfunctional Family

Toni Smothers

           During the 1950’s, in the five Burroughs of New York, a considerable segment of the adult population spoke in a kind of automatic curse word mode, which was the norm. This casual spewing of vulgarities was automatic, sort of like breathing or blinking. There was no hesitation or particular forethought. It was a behavior that was often prefaced with the expression, “pardon my French,” which I never understood, but was meant to make the dirty remarks in the rest of the statement, somehow acceptable.  The vulgarities were sub-culture slang, just common communication, having no deliberate malice, but distinguishing this particular group of people from any others. Within this sub-culture, they referred to themselves rather specifically as, ‘the majority’, and more broadly known as ‘Yankee’.

The funny thing about this whole language thing was that though considered benign for adults, if I, or any other child, inadvertently mimicked it, suddenly the words became offensive and insolent and automatically provoked an extremely violent reaction from the shocked adults.

This is my first example of the consistent double standard we learned to live with as children in New York during the 1950’s. If you ask any ‘baby-boomer’, at least those from New York, to reminisce, they will undoubtedly testify to this unspoken truth – It was always, “do as I say, not as I do.”

 To give you a more intimate understanding of these New Yorkers who claimed to be representative of an entire culture (Yankee), you have to understand a few of the basics about the people and the times. They were proud people. The men took “no crap off anyone” and, right or wrong, the women always supported her man. There often was bitter fighting behind closed doors, but families always put up a united front and stuck together in public. At least that was true for our family and the families of those people that we knew.

I can remember numerous occasions where this particular ethic was taken to ridiculous extremes because no matter what the circumstances were, “hush, don’t tell,” was our family’s motto.  There were various times when my mother overdosed on sleeping pills. In truth, those instances were deliberate attempts to end her life.  We all knew it. Our stepfather, however, always told us it was accidental. We were to believe that she really couldn’t tell the difference between a dose and a bottle of pills. We were children, not idiots. But, whether we actually believed him was irrelevant. As long as we acted like that’s what we believed, that was good enough.

We were instructed to keep our mouths shut and that was pretty much the end of that discussion. There was absolutely no room for debate here. So, not only did we have to deal with the fact that our mom really wanted to leave us, we had to pretend it never happened. “Don’t tell,” and, “You are not to speak of this again,” were very big in our family.

The hospitals and doctors were different then too because they took you at your word. They didn’t automatically hold an overdose victim for further psychological testing. They pumped the stomach and washed their hands – Literally! So, my mom never really did get any counseling or help for her depression. It just wasn’t acceptable to feel that way. Depression was a big no-no. Only weak, lazy, bad people gave in to that kind of stuff – It was not a legitimate illness. A person suffering with depression was supposed to “shake it off” and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”.  People really did say these clichés! (Our step-father, in particular)

Remember the three ‘speak-see-hear-no-evil’ monkeys? Well, my siblings and I were like those monkeys. It was just the three of us. My older brother, sister and me, each survived our childhood in our own way. One thing we didn’t do, though, was talk about it – We may have been very confused kids, but not one of us was dumb.

My brother, sister and I never had outside interactions. The support of a church family or youth group or school team was not available to us. We were not permitted to join any school or church activities. My mother took us to church on Easter and Christmas. They told us that we were Protestants and weekly church attendance was not mandatory to believe in God or for a good person to go to heaven. There was one prayer offered just prior to thanksgiving dinner and that was it for our family’s religious life.

Also, they never joined things like P.T.A. because it just wasn’t practical for busy people who had better things to do with their time than to get involved in school groups of bickering parents and incompetent teachers, so there was no attending those kind of meetings – “Let the teachers take care of their own problems. That’s what they’re paid for.” We, as children in attendance of a particular class, had to attend the mandatory evening school nights with all our papers laid out on our desks to supposedly show our parents who never showed up on those visiting nights. That was always embarrassing to me. My sister said she didn’t care and my brother just never showed up either, which was against school rules. Tommy did get real familiar with the other side of rules, as he grew up very disrespectful of authority.

 As for an occasional visit from the Reverend of the church we attended twice a year, my mother was always too busy to converse, but cordial enough as she showed him to the door. The evangelicals that came to our home intermittently, well, they were not treated very politely.  My folks just had no use for practicing their professed Christianity and even less patience for being reminded of that fact.

We were taught to be strong and to stand alone, almost as if having to do that as a kid was normal and just a part of their good parenting that would eventually make us courageous and independent people – But it only served to make us withdrawn and screwed-up.  My brother acted out his frustration in the form of criminal behavior and my sister and I got out of that crazy house just as soon as we could. One way or another, we shook the muck off our shoes when we left and then went out into the world totally unprepared to respond to it.

Ephes. 3:20 (NLT) Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

Marquee

Jesus loves me this I know…………….

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