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alone with God

It has been my desire and prayer for a while to draw closer to God. You ask, “Isn’t that every Christian’s desire?” It should be. But do we really act on that desire? Or do we just say it?

Yesterday one of the Bro’s at church testified to the same desire. He spoke how God told him, (and I paraphrase) “If that is what you want, do your part. Take more time to be with me. If you can spend hours online, you have time to spend with me. You want to draw closer, you read more, you pray more. I am here, you make the time to know me better.”

I too have heard God tell me this…take more time to spend with me. He said it again yesterday through testimony. I made a determination to put this into practice. Not to just say I want to draw closer, I need to read the Bible more, I need to pray more…but to do it. If I have to, I will make an appointment to spend the time with God. What I have done in the past is no longer enough for me. I desire a deeper relationship with God. To truly be one with Him and Him in me.

prayWhen I have prayed about the different things that I struggle with, the thought has come, if more time was spent in the Word and in Prayer, these “things” wouldn’t be such a trial. You would have more strength and a greater back bone to handle the temptations and situations presented by the enemy of souls. A benefit of drawing closer to God, is gaining the complete victory that has previously alluded me because of decisions I have made to please the flesh.

As I am structure or schedule oriented, I have made a plan. It will at least help get this started. While it may seem funny and one may think that it isn’t right to be so “organized” about it, but let the spirit move. Yes we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but God gave us a mind and free will. If this is how I am going to get my flesh under control and set time aside for God, then so be it. This is what I will do.

I am going to stBible-and-handsart a study in Romans. Read a little each day, pull out a nugget and meditate on it. I will also use one of the Streams in the Desert books as a supplemental reading. I want to specifically take time to pray for those at work and the day ahead before I walk in the door. This in addition to a morning prayer. I want to specifically pray and give thanks for my food. Yes I am faithful to be thankful. But sometimes I find myself just saying “Thanks for the food”. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. And I am not saying that there has to be a 10 min prayer at every meal, but I want to take more time and talk to God, not just at him. Not just out of form or repetition or habit, but to make a connection with him.

Since writing helps me process what I read and think, I shall share my journey. Starting with Romans 1.

Romans was written to Saints. To us. To those that are saved and living with out sin. Not to sinners. (Although there is good for them too)  Romans 1:7 reads “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints…” The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it is current and applicable for us as saints just as it was to the Romans that Paul wrote to.

Paul starts his letter to the Romans with his commendations (vs 1-5), he testimony of where he came from. He follows this with a greeting and a desire to visit the saints (vs7-13). In this he mentions that he is looking forward to working with the saints to bring in a harvest. Ready to preach the gospel and not being ashamed of God’s work.

 

Paul is an exampannouncerle to us. Always ready to enter the work of God where needed. Always ready to speak of God. Not shrinking from duty or other opinions that might oppose God’s truth. Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Paul recognizes the power that is in the gospel and how it can change a soul and give life. This is what he wants to bring to those in and around Rome.

We too need to take this example, to not be ashamed, but to recognize the great power in God and the gospel, the good news about Christ and spread that to those around us. Whom have we spoken to about Christ recently? Have you shared what God has done form you? Have you said a word about Christ? Are you ashamed or are you willing to be lead by the spirit and speak of the gospel?

 

It is a new year with a new look, but the message is still the same.

God is a big God and he has a plan for each and every one of us. His desire is that we live Holy or with out sin. We in ourselves cannot do this, but he made the way possible when he gave his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins. When we accept Christ as our Savior and turn from our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and provide us with strength and grace to live sin free. It definitely is the best life.

I haven’t been as faithful to this blog in the past few months as I would like. I am sorry for that, but I have a plan for the future.

First – On Thursday night at church we were challenged to make a list of those things in our life that need to change this year for us to draw closer to God.

My list:
–          increase time in studying God’s word
–          increase prayer time
–          don’t be as quick to judge people
–          be more willing to help those in need
–          search for and take opportunities to share the Gospel
–          be careful to not get comfortable in Salvation but keep the challenge and excitement fresh
–          increase of patience
–          don’t procrastinate with God’s work

This list may grow as the year continues, but I plan to use this blog in a why that it holds me accountable for gaining the victory in these areas. As I have victory or challenges I will share my studies on and in these areas.

I challenge you to make a list. How can God better use you this day? What things might you need to change for God to use you? Seek God and ask him to search you. He has the power to help you draw closer to him.
Second – I don’t think I have read the Bible cover to cover. I know I have tried and often would get bogged down in the “begats”. This year I am challenging myself to read the Bible completely. It will be apart of my daily study, but it won’t take its place. A friend of mine had a list of the scriptures to read so that the Bible can be read chronologically. This appealed to me. I found that list and will post each day what those scriptures are so that you can follow along. We can discuss the different points that we read. I invite you to read along and join in on the discussion.
Third – At the end of last year, we moved some of our Bible study teachers around at Church. There was a need for a teacher in one of the elementary classes. I was asked to take this position. As we go through this year I will share the lessons that are brought to the kids as well as the lessons they bring to me. I believe we can learn from all ages. Christ told us that we needed to be as the little children. In the Children’s Bible class, we are making a chain of things we are thankful for and we learn verses. I will share those also. I believe thankfulness and God’s word are good things to learn at a young age. Feel free to add your “thankfuls” and learn the memory verses with us.
Join us this year as we draw closer to God and share how he helps us in our daily walk with him.

This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

Wednesday’s Bible Discussion finished up the Armor of God and began the new topic of sin. This week we will continue discussing how the Bible defines sin.

1. In order to be effective soldiers, we have to prove our armor and take the weapons that we know to be useful, the power of God on our side and his word. We can’t defeat the enemy with armor and weapons that we don’t know how to use. I Samuel 17:33-40.

2. In the battle, not only are we protected by God’s strength and power, but by the tenderness of God’s spirit. Psalms 91:1-4

3. What is Sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, 1 John 3:4. It is all that is unrighteousness, 1 John 5:17. God’s desire is for us to live with out sin. If God has saved us, we have to make the choice daily to live with out sin.

4. The beginning of God’s law can be found in the 10 commandments. Exodus 20. The first is in verse 3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” God wants to be first in our lives. We can’t allow anything to come before him, ourselves, money, love, friends, beliefs, possessions. God is a jealous God over his children.

5. Exodus 20:7 – “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;”. God’s name should only be used with proper respect and not spoken with profanity. All things pertaining to God are holy, he doesn’t want his name defiled.

6. Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” We know that the sabbath is no longer reserved for one specific day of the week as it once was, but that Christ is our sabbath. We need to remember him every day of the week and live holy.

Thoughts from the Wednesday night Bible Discussion Group. This week our topic was on our fellowship meeting that we just had over Labor Day weekend. We were to bring thoughts of how we were challenged or blessed through the meeting. We got a little of topic, but God saw that needs needed to be met and directed us in a manner that we could be used that way.

1. Matthew 23:23…”and have omitted the weighter matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith:” Judgment is one thing that sets the Church of God apart from religion. In order to receive mercy and forgiveness, you must be found guilty in judgment. You can’t be forgiven of nothing. And you have to have faith to receive mercy. All three are crucial aspects of the plan of salvation. Mainstream religion is missing the judgment part of the puzzle, and thus falling short of preaching the truth.

2. We are called to unity; to dwell together in peace. Psalms 133:1. If we all have the same goal in mind and purpose of heart we can worship in unity. But this doesn’t come naturally, we have to work at being a unified body. Ephesians 4:3

3. When the enemy comes against us with thoughts that may cause confusion we can rest against the promise that those thoughts are not from God, for he isn’t the author of confusion. 1 Corinthians 14:33. We can use this scripture to defeat the enemy when he comes to our minds.

4. More promises that we can lean on: 1 John 1:9-2:1 – If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive and provide an advocate for us through Jesus his son. Our sins have been removed from us “as far as the east is from the west” Psalms 103:12 and cast into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

5. Jesus too was tempted of the devil. We can take his example of using Bible Scripture to defeat the enemy. Matthew 4. There is power in God’s word.

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