Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 4”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. Follow this link to read any previous messages in this series. This week we are studying Romans 4.

As in the previous chapters, Paul talks about how we are justified before God and made righteous by faith, not by works of the law.  Paul explains how Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

v. 10-12 (NASB)

Abraham set an example for us to follow in his footsteps as he, against all hope, believed God was faithful to deliver what He promised him. Because he stood firm in faith, Abraham received what God promised and he became “a father of many nations” (v. 17).

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

v. 19-21 (NIV)

We can learn by Abraham’s example how to receive what God has promised us in His Word. First, we learn that Abraham didn’t deny the fact that he and Sarah were well past child bearing age. Walking in faith doesn’t mean we ignore the facts. Walking in faith means we trust that God can change the facts. 

…God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

v. 17 (NASB)

Second, we learn that Abraham didn’t allow himself to waver in unbelief. The Bible says, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:6-8, NIV). Abraham was spiritually minded. He refused to entertain carnal thoughts of doubt.

Third, we learn that Abraham’s faith grew as he did not allow himself to doubt God. He was fully convinced that God had the power to do what He promised. To receive God’s promises we must be fully convinced in our minds that He will certainly deliver.

I once needed healing in an area. I read God’s promises on healing and believed it was His will for me to be healed, but I didn’t see any change.  One evening, when I was starting to lose hope, I cried out to Jesus and told Him if He was here on earth today I would come to Him and He would touch me and I would be healed. I told Him that His Word says He’s the same yesterday, today and forevermore. I cried out for Him to reach down and touch me so I would be healed. Later that night, I awoke from my sleep and noticed my husband was awake. My husband, not knowing what I prayed for, said that while I was asleep God spoke to him to tell me I was healed. Receiving that confirmation took away any doubt and convinced me in my mind that it was already given to me. Because God spoke that promise to me I was able to stand firm in faith and receive what He promised.

It’s not that we don’t have the faith to receive from God. The Bible says that God’s already given us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). And all it takes is the faith of a tiny mustard seed to move mountains and do the impossible (Matthew 17:20). It’s that our minds need to be renewed and convinced of His will in order to see it come to pass in our lives.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that no matter how many promises You have made, they are “Yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).  We want to receive all that You have for us. Help us to renew our minds in Your Word and cast down any doubt, so that we can be fully convinced that You have the power to deliver what You have promised us.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 4? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we study Romans 5. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week renewing your mind in God’s Word!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 3”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. Last week, we studied Romans 2. This week we move on to Romans 3.

The chapter starts off with talking about how the Jews were first entrusted with the teachings of God. And though some did not believe God, it did not nullify His faithfulness to His Word.

The Apostle Paul explains:

“What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

‘That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You are judged.’

Romans 3:3-4, NASB

God’s Word will stand as complete truth regardless whether we believe Him or not.

Jesus said:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Matthew 24:35

Even though our unbelief cannot hinder God’s faithfulness to His Word, it can hinder His Word from having an effect in our lives. Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the law:

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Mark 7:9-13, NIV

Many people question God’s faithfulness today. There are many things written in His Word that people try to refute on the sole basis that they haven’t experienced or seen it happen.

Why is God’s Word alive and active in some people’s lives and not others? Why are some experiencing God’s promises while others are not?  Is God faithful to some and not to others?

Jesus said:

“Did I not say to you that IF you believe, you WILL see the glory of God?”

John 11:40, NASB (emphasis mine)

God is faithful to His Word. As we learned last week in Romans 2, God shows no partiality. He will do for each of us exactly what He says He will do.

The remainder of Romans 3 talks about how though the Jews were the first to be entrusted with the teachings of God, they were not better than others. They were just as guilty of sin as everyone else.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:9-18, NASB

The chapter stresses once again that the only way to be justified before God is by faith (Greek Word:“pistis” Definition: faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness).

To summarize what I learned in Romans 3: God is faithful to His Word. When we put our trust in Him, and are confident in His faithfulness, His Word will have a powerful effect in our lives.

Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Acts 19:18-20, NIV

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You are faithful.  We can trust that Your Word which goes forth from Your mouth will not return to You empty, without accomplishing what You desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which You sent it (Isaiah 55:11). We put our faith in You, and not in what others say or what we see happening around us. We praise You that faith comes by hearing Your Word and that Word is alive and actively working in us.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 3? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we talk about what we learned in Romans 4. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week trusting God that He is faithful to His Word!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 2”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. Last week, we studied Romans 1 and learned the benefits of faith and the consequences of unbelief. This week we are studying Romans 2.

The chapter begins with talking about how God shows no partiality (v. 1-16). The amplified Bible says partiality is “undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another.”

It can be comforting knowing God is not partial and He loves us all the same, especially when we think we are less worthy than others.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

It can also be humbling knowing God is not partial. When He blesses us and works in us, it can be tempting to think He loves us more than those who do not know Him or do not submit to Him.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous

Matthew 5:45

It can be fearful (reverential fear) and also encouraging knowing God is not partial, because He will judge the world and “render to each person according to his deeds” (v. 6).

… to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation

There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,  but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:7-16 (NASB)

In the verse above, it says “for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”

But the second half of Romans 2 talks about how the law condemns. So how can we be justified by it if it condemns us?

The answer is in Romans 10:4:

“For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (NLT).

We are justified through Christ. He met all the requirements of the law. Trying to obey the law can’t save or change us. Jesus saved us and His Spirit changes us.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:21 (NIV)

Last week, I talked about how God has placed His truth in us and how we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-20).

When we rely on the law, rather than Jesus, we suppress the spirit from working in us and being seen through us. We may know what is right and wrong, and are able to teach it to others, but we ruin our testimony when we lack the Holy Spirit’s power to turn from evil and do good.

But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God,  and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Romans 2:17-24, 28-29 (NASB)

To summarize this chapter, God will judge the world. So we don’t have to. When our hearts are surrendered to Jesus we can be confident that we will be justified before God and not be condemned.

 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 Romans 8:1

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for sending Jesus to fulfill all the requirements of the law so we can be justified before You. We praise You that You show no partiality, and You love us all the same. Keep our hearts set on Christ and not on the things of this world. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and transform us from the inside out.

In Jesus’ faithful name we pray, Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 2? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we talk about what we learned in Romans 3. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week knowing you are justified in Christ!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 1”

I am starting a new series today. I invite you to join me in studying Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. This series will run every Monday. We will study one chapter a week. If you would like to follow along with this series, read the chapter listed for the week and then share whatever God taught you through that chapter in the comment section below. We can minister to one another, as God may teach each of us something different through the chapters.

This week, we start out by reading Romans chapter 1.

The first half of the chapter talks about the benefits of faith and how the gospel of Christ is exalted through faith.

In verses 1-17, I learned that:

  • Faith is obedience (v. 5).

 We often think we have to do everything right to be obedient. But the Bible says, “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16).

  • Faith is noticeable and spreads to others (v. 8).

When we believe God is who He says He is, and believe He will do what He says He will do, His power is unleashed in us: “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:19-21).

  • Faith builds and encourages us, and those around us (v. 12).

When I am in faith I am filled with God’s Holy Spirit and lifted up. “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20). When I start to lose hope, and God leads me to someone in the faith who is filled with the Holy Spirit, they encourage me and build up my faith. “Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:24).

  • Faith leads to righteous living (v. 17).

James 2:18-19 says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Faith does not just believe God exists. Faith trusts God as Lord of our lives. When we submit our lives over to God He fills us with His righteousness and our actions begin to change.

 

The second half of Romans 1 talks about the consequences of unbelief, and how it hinders the gospel and leads to unrighteous living.

In verses 18-32, I learned that:

  • Unbelief suppresses the truth God has placed within us (v. 18).

God has clearly made Himself known to all of us. There is no excuse for us not to believe Him (v. 19-20).

  • Unbelief darkens our hearts (v. 21).

Even though we know God, we don’t acknowledge and worship Him as Lord and our Creator. Instead we acknowledge and worship the things that have been created. When we start to worship things of this world over God, our hearts begin to harden to the truth and we become blinded by Satan’s deception. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

  • Unbelief does not please God (v. 28).

When we deny God, He gives us over to our depraved mind (v. 28). The Bible says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8).

  • Unbelief separates us from God and His righteous, and leaves us in our unrighteousness (v. 29-32). 

We need God’s righteousness to do what is right. When we reject Him we are “filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; [they are] gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32, NASB)

 

So to summarize Romans 1, when we put our faith in Christ, the power of God is released in us and displayed through us. When we persist in unbelief, we hinder His power to change us and impact the world for Christ.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for this study of Paul’s letters. Thank you for teaching us in Romans 1 about faith and unbelief. Help us to continually put our faith in You and make You Lord of our lives. Fill us with Your righteousness so that we are empowered to do what is right. In Jesus’ faithful name we pray, Amen! 

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 1? Is there anything He revealed to you that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we talk about what we learned in Romans 2. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week walking in faith!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Renewing Our Minds

I am starting a new series next week on Paul’s letters (from Romans – Philemon). In my Bible, I probably read Paul’s letters the most because they are filled with teachings on how to follow Christ’s example by living a godly life.  This week, I want to share a message I posted last September from a series I did on training ourselves to be godly, titled “Pursuing Godliness.” In this message, I shared how Paul exhorted the Corinthians to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). This message was one of the most helpful posts God has ever given me to share. It teaches the importance of renewing our minds so we can follow Christ’s example and live a godly life.

 Renewing Our Minds

The Apostle Paul exhorted, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

How do we follow Christ’s example? How do we train ourselves to be godly?

The answer is in Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Greek word for renewal in the above verse means “renovation.” When you renovate something, you restore it to a better state. The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs us:

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The only way to put off our old self (ungodliness), and put on our new self (godliness), is to renew our minds. Last summer, I reorganized my entire house. While going through my house, I was amazed how many notes I found with teachings and Scriptures I wrote down through the years. I had stacks of notebooks, piles of Bible study workbooks, and a number of odd items such as napkin pieces with Scriptures written on them. When I first started walking with God I was desperate for change. I was hungry for His holiness. I pursued godliness by taking every opportunity I had to feed and meditate on His Word.

Through the years, God has done an amazing work in my life. At times I take it for granted. Looking through those piles reminded me that I can never stop pursuing godliness. If I don’t diligently stay connected to God and seek His Word, I will easily fall back into my old pattern of behavior.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

1 Corinthians 10:12

I did a study once on renovating my mind, using Nehemiah 1-6 and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. My intention was to strip off my old carnal mind and replace it with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Just as Nehemiah inspected Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 2:11-13), I began the study with inspecting my thoughts. I identified and made a list of every carnal thought I had. I was astonished how many negative thoughts I had even though I had been following Christ for many years. In my journal for the study I wrote: “My mind is like that broken down wall (Nehemiah 2:13). It lies in ruins (Nehemiah 2:17).”

After identifying the carnal thoughts, I got to work tearing them down and rebuilding my mind with God’s Word (Nehemiah 2:18). Each day I focused on a different negative thought from my list. I wrote down every verse I found pertaining to that thought, and prayed and meditated on them.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

Joshua 1:8

The tearing down and rebuilding wasn’t easy. I did the study for about fifty days, close to the amount it took them to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 6:15). It took me fourteen days to go through my list. Then on day fifteen, I had to re-examine my thoughts to see where I still needed help. After the first re-examination, the list was about a third of what it was when I started the renovation. The last few carnal thoughts were strongholds. Those took longer to tear down.

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Psalm 119:45

I gathered a few notes I wrote in my journal during those fifty days. They reveal some of the attacks and ups and downs we can experience as we seek to renew our minds with God’s Word.

Rebuilding the Walls of My Mind Journal

Day 2: I have been having a lot of bad dreams, revealing the strongholds I have in my mind. Last night, I dreamt an evil woman was chasing me while I was trying to protect a child. I got tired of running and turned around and commanded her to stop in the name of Jesus. She stopped instantly and changed as the demon left her. A great reminder to stop running from the devil. Make him flee.

Day 3: I’m being attacked big time. I’m sick. I’ve had bad dreams and I’m having negative thoughts like crazy.

Day 4: The enemy is angry and greatly incensed that I am renovating my mind (Nehemiah 4:1-7).

“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews …‘What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?’” (Nehemiah4: 1-2)

Day 7: I acted so badly yesterday. I am ashamed. I was rude to the lady at our church. This isn’t me. I can’t believe all the junk in me. Help me Lord! Cleanse my mind and rebuild it with pure thoughts so my actions will follow.

“The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:19-20)

Day 9: Things are looking brighter today. I feel my joy returning and my outlook expanding.

Day 14: I feel my mind getting better. The power of the strongholds seems to be weakening and it’s not taking as much effort on my part. God is healing my mind.  

“When word came to …  our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it…. They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ [But I prayed,] ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” (Nehemiah 6:1-9)

Day 17: I don’t want to give up. God, renew my strength. Change my thinking. Renew my mind.

Day 24: I need to check and pay attention to every thought. I feel like I’m falling backward now.

“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” (2 John 1:8)

Day 25: The devil is fighting and attacking me greatly because he doesn’t want me to renew my mind and tear down the stronghold’s he’s worked so hard to build.

Day 27: I feel great today. God’s grace is tearing down my strongholds. God is showing me the lies I believed.

Day 30: Just as with a house renovation, once it is finished, I can’t leave it alone or it will return to its old state. I need to keep it up. Care for it. Catch the small repairs so they don’t turn into large projects.

Day 34: I’ve been fasting from junk food for over 30 days. Because I fasted so long from it, I don’t desire it anymore. If I fast from carnal thoughts, I will no longer desire them. I would be foolish to return to the junk I no longer desire.

“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’” (2 Peter 2:22)

Day 39: I have a fire in my spirit. My mind is being rebuilt with Jesus and the Word of God as my foundation!

 “Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16, AMP)

Day 40: Lord, use me as an instrument to bring revival to your church and to carry your name before the world (Acts 9:15).

 Day 47: God is doing an amazing work in me. I feel alive and energized and full of the Holy Spirit.

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Nehemiah 8:10, 12)

 

 

As you were reading the journal entries, did you notice a pattern? The first part (majority) was spent putting off my old self. Once those carnal thoughts were brought to light I was then able to put on my new self: God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, ready to do the good works God prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

As God helps us put off our old worldly thoughts, and tear down the strongholds in our minds, He can rebuild and fill our minds with spiritual things (the mind of Christ).

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

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. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:12-16

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for washing away our sins by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are new creation! The old is gone! Help us to take off our old self and put on our new self. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Help us to diligently seek Your Word and continually renew our minds by the truths we learn from the Bible every day.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen!

 

 

*Come back next Monday as the series on Paul’s letters begins. You can subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. You can also use the share tabs below to help spread the word of this series to bless others. Have a blessed week seeking the Lord and renewing your mind in His Word!

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Monday’s Blog: Confidence to Persevere

I am excited to be back from my break. I took August off to catch up on some things and prayerfully prepare a schedule for my kid’s school year so that I am able to have more time to write. I checked my email messages when I returned and found some encouraging news regarding my first book “You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children.” Last month, I was informed that I was a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite International Book Contest. It was announced last week that my book won a silver medal in the contest, and it will be featured in the largest International book fair in America this November in Miami.

 

pic of award

 

Receiving this award is a great blessing, not only because it opens the door to reach more people with the message God gave me to share in that book, but it’s a humble reminder to keep my confidence in Him and persevere. In April 2009, God called me out of leading Bible studies in my home to follow Him and write about what He’s done in my marriage and my family. I was ecstatic to be called, so I didn’t hesitate even though I had no writing experience.

After a couple months, my excitement was quickly replaced by fear as I began to take my eyes of Jesus and focus on my inabilities. That’s when God led me to memorize Hebrews 10:35-37, and hide those verses in my heart, so I would remember to keep my eyes on Him and persevere:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

A Christian friend recently told me that persevering is the hardest thing to do.

In the verses above, we are first instructed not to throw away our confidence because that’s what helps us persevere. Our confidence is not in what we can do. Our confidence is in what God can do through us. Our confidence is in His promises that He will equip us to do what He calls us to do. When we take our eyes off Him, we shrink back (lose confidence) and don’t have the strength to persevere.

The dictionary defines persevere as:

“continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.”

When difficulties come, and it doesn’t appear God is going to come through for us, it’s tempting to take our eyes of Jesus and lose our confidence. I’ve experienced many trials since I started writing. It took me over two years to publish that first book. During those years, I received a lot of rejection. My family’s health and finances were attacked. My marriage was attacked. There were many times I felt completely alone. I often prayed for God to call someone else and let me quit. I didn’t want to persevere. But I felt like Jeremiah when he said: “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).

By the time the book got published I was worn out. I felt like I crawled across the finish line, only to find out my race had really just begun.  With publishing came greater difficulties and rejection. God has had to regularly remind me of Hebrews 10:35-37 to keep my eyes on Him and persevere.

A year after the book was published, I felt led to make some changes and republish it.  With republishing came more difficulties. A year later, when I thought I could do no more with it, God led me back to it again. That’s when I felt led to enter it into the contest. Because of all the problems I have had with it the last four years, and all the doors that have been shut on it, I didn’t expect to receive any recognition, let alone win a medal.

I know we are not supposed to seek man’s approval. But for me, receiving an award for writing is encouraging proof that God has truly equipped, and will continue to equip, me to do His will.

The only approval we need is that God is with us. Our confidence is in Him. If you feel like you are losing strength, shift your focus back to Him. Keep your confidence in Him. He will give you all the strength you need to persevere, even when you want to give up.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for preparing and equipping us to do Your will. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus so we have the strength to persevere. We praise You that You are our confidence. We can do all things through Christ who gives us Your strength.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

 *Come back next Monday as I share more of God’s truths in His Word (John 8:31-32)!

 

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Marriage Series: Remain In God’s Love

MARRIAGE-PIC21

This is the next message in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.” In my last post, I shared how we need each other. Today, I want to focus more importantly on how much we need God.

Jesus said:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

John 15:5-11

Jesus instructs us to remain in Him and remain in His love because apart from Him we can do, not some things, but absolutely “nothing!”  The first five years of my marriage, my husband and I did not have a relationship with Christ. We were not connected to the vine, so we were not able to bear any fruit to help our marriage grow as God intended it to. We were like a branch that was thrown away and withered, picked up by the world and burned. We had no life to sustain our marriage.

Once we started seeking Christ, and God poured His love into our hearts, He began producing fruit and bringing life into our marriage. God worked many miracles in our marriage that first year of seeking Him. One miracle was He completely took away my jealously and insecurity. My husband and I used to have horrible fights. Walls would get punched out. Things would get broken. Sentimental items would get destroyed. My husband even ended up in the hospital once after hurting himself from one of our fights. My parents moved into our old apartment complex recently and my husband and I were just recounting all the walls we had to patch then. We praise God those intense fights ceased completely once He began to pour His love into our hearts.

Jesus said to remain in Him and His love so that His joy would be in us and our joy would be made complete. Several years ago, my husband was feeling guilty for not being the husband he felt he needed to be. He felt convicted when he thought about our daughter and how he would want her husband to be. At the time, I was experiencing a fresh revelation of God’s love and was overflowing with joy. As my husband was saddened by all the things he did and didn’t do, I encouraged him that I already had all I needed. I was content because God’s love was more than enough to fill me. I didn’t need anything else.

Even now, when I allow the busyness of life to get in the way of my relationship with Christ, I begin to lose my joy and see it affect my marriage. When I am on fire for Christ, and I feel His love, nothing my husband does wrong matters to me. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We can battle anything in life when we are in God’s love and His joy is complete in us. All our faults and our spouses’ faults don’t matter when we are filled with a revelation of God’s love.

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 1:22-23

If you are not fulfilled and satisfied with your marriage, I encourage you to ask God for a fresh revelation of His love. Remain in Jesus and His joy will be made complete in you. 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for sending Jesus to fill us in every way. Help us to remain in Jesus so we can bear much fruit to strengthen and bring life to our marriages. Give us a fresh revelation of Your love so we can be content and not need our spouses to change in order to make us happy. Fill us in every way with Your love so that Your joy will be made complete in us.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

*My marriage series will end this Monday. You can read more about my marriage testimony and how to enjoy your marriage in my book “You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children” (available in paperback, ebook, & audio format).

 

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Monday’s Blog: Enjoying the Journey Toward Maturity

Next Monday, I will be starting a new series on marriage. I don’t normally post messages on marriage on this site, but since my husband’s and my 17th anniversary is in July, I feel led to devote the entire month to honor marriage. I will be posting several guest posts and giveaways during the series. If you signed up for email subscription, I wanted to give you a heads up that I will be posting more than once a week, just for the series.

Today I want to share a message that we can all relate to, about enjoying our journey toward spiritual maturity. I’ve been following Christ for about thirteen years now. Some days I look back and think, “I really should be a lot farther along than this!” It can be discouraging knowing what God can do in you, but not having arrived there.

The Apostle Paul shared how he wouldn’t allow himself to be discouraged in his journey with Christ:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

In our lifetime, we will never reach perfection where we could sit back and say, “Ah! I’ve arrived! Now I can relax and enjoy life!” We often think “Well, I’d be happy if I didn’t struggle in this area.” But the truth is, once that area is worked out there’s plenty others waiting in line to be worked out.

Instead of being discouraged at how far he had to go, Paul set his mind above. He pressed on with joy eagerly waiting for his glorified body in Christ, as he explained in the next verses 15-21:

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

My pastor shared a message about holiness yesterday. He encouraged us, “Let us obey from our identity, not for our identity.” The journey God takes us through in life is to teach us our true identity in Christ. This journey is not to perfect us so that we can be prepared for our eternal life with God. This journey is to teach us what God has already prepared and waiting for us. This journey is to transform our hearts and minds so we can know Him and know the love He has for us, as Paul explained earlier in verses 7-11:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

We can enjoy our journey because it is not about us and what we do, it’s about Him and what He’s already done.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

God has taught me when I mess up and get discouraged I am to immediately remind myself that is my old sinful nature working.  Those weaknesses are not part of who I am now. I am a new creation in Christ. The old has gone and the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:17). As I set my mind on how much God loves me, and what He’s done for me, I can enjoy this journey growing in Christ.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:20-24

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for Your immeasurable love. Pour out Your spirit on us and fill us with the knowledge of the love You have for us. Give us revelation of our true identity in Christ. Help us to set our minds above and enjoy the journey You have marked out for us, as we eagerly wait on You to glorify Christ in us.

In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen!

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Pray In the Spirit (Audiobook Giveaway)

The audio version for my devotional “Armor of Light: A 7 – Week Devotional on Ephesians 6:10-18” released recently. The production company gave me 5 copies to give away. If you would like a copy, leave a comment below or email me at authoramandabeth@gmail.com. The first 5 people to respond will receive an email with a free download code.

Today I want to share an excerpt from week seven about prayer. Do you sometimes feel like your prayers are not heard? Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” I pray this message lifts your spirit and gives you confidence that God does hear and answer your prayers according to His Word.

Excerpt from Week seven: Pray In the Spirit

Revelation 12:17 says that Satan wages war against those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Satan will come against us, but he can’t ambush us when we are in continual communion with God. Staying connected to God in prayer keeps us armed and alert.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

Just as God sent His angels to minister to Jesus after He stood against Satan’s temptation (Matthew 4:10-11), God also sends His angels in response to our prayers. In Daniel 9:20-23, an angel was sent to Daniel in response to his prayer:

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision.

Daniel’s prayer was answered the moment he prayed. And he received that answer while he was still in prayer. Why do we receive answers to some prayers right away, but others take longer? Daniel didn’t receive his answer to prayer in the next chapter (Daniel 10) as quickly as he had in the verse above. In Daniel 10:12-14, the angel explained why there was a delay in response:

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

God hears and answers our prayers the moment we request them. But as these verses reveal, the devil can try and hinder us from receiving them. The Bible shares other things that can hinder us from receiving answers to our prayers.

First Peter 3:7 tells us disobedience can hinder our prayers:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

James 4:3 tells us the motives of our hearts can hinder us from receiving answers to our prayers:

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

When our hearts are divided and not fully devoted to God, we will naturally request things that our flesh desires. God loves us too much. He will not give us anything that will hurt us and draw our hearts further away from Him.

James 1:6-8 tells us that doubt and unbelief can also hinder our prayers:

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, which means to be perseverant in our prayers (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God doesn’t tell us to be unceasing in our prayers to beg Him to answer us. He tells us to be unceasing so we don’t allow Satan to steal, through doubt and unbelief, what God already promised us in His Word. We stand against Satan when we keep a continuous (unceasing) belief that God is faithful to answer our prayers.

Once I felt like the world suddenly came crashing down on me. I was hit by something that was beyond what I thought I could bear. As I was in tears wondering what was happening to me, I found the strength to praise God and tell Him I trusted Him to see me through it. That same evening, my situation miraculously turned around right before my eyes. God heard my prayer, sent His answer, and came rushing to my defense.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.

Psalm 34:17, 19

Romans 8:31 tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  We have God on our side. We also have His Holy Spirit and Jesus interceding for us. What can possibly come against us that God, His Holy Spirit, and Jesus cannot handle?

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

If God did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:33-39

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You are faithful to Your Word. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers according to the promises in Your Word. Purify our hearts and minds, and change our desires to line up with Your desires. We humble ourselves before You. We stand firm against Satan with an unceasing belief that You are faithful to answer our prayers.

In Jesus’ name we believe and pray, Amen!

*Remember to post a comment below or email me (authoramandabeth@gmail.com) if you would like an audio copy of the “Armor of Light.”  The first 5 to respond will receive a download code via email.


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Monday’s Blog: You Can’t Carry People Through Life

I just returned from a short blogging break. I’ve found that it’s necessary at times to stop what I am doing, take a step back, and make sure I am in the right direction doing what God wants me to do. During my time off with the Lord, God led me to read a powerful book titled “Life Resurrected: Extraordinary Miracles Through Ordinary People” by Jesse Birkey from Reflect Ministry.



Here’s  a brief description of the book:

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary miracles if they are willing to be transformed.

Being ordinary completely qualifies you for God’s mighty power. No titles, ministries or name recognition are required. But there is one catch—you must be willing to be transformed. Testimonies are a crucial element of transformation. Testimonies give us the hope we need to continue on. We need to know that God still moves in signs, wonders and miracles. But above all else, we need to understand that God specializes in taking ashes and resurrecting them into beautiful life!

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul …” – Acts 19:11

In Life Resurrected, Jesse Birkey will share some extraordinary miracles performed by ordinary people. He will also take you on his journey of transformation from a life of bondage and slavery to the enemy to a life bursting with miraculous testimonies. While recounting his and others’ encouraging and inspiring testimonies, he provides insight into the ways God wants to operate in and through all of His children.

Start the journey and you too can have your Life Resurrected!

 

God ministered to me in many ways through this book, but I wanted to share one section on Joshua 3:8 that really spoke to my heart.

“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

Joshua 3:8

Jesse wrote:
“As I closed my Bible, I thought about the instructions God gave Joshua. I wondered why God wanted the twelve chosen men to actually stand in the river with the heavy Ark before He would move on their behalf. God began to softly speak to my heart. We often stand on the “bank” looking over at our problems and issues saying, “Alright God, I need you to take care of this mess. I need you to perform this miracle and heal me or deliver me, but I am not going to get my feet wet. I am going to stand here where it’s dry while you do the work. After all, there’s nothing wrong with me. There couldn’t possibly be anything I might need to do before you move on my behalf.”

 

One of the reasons I knew I needed to take a break was that I was starting to get overwhelmed and not feel well. As I spent time with God, asking Him to show me what was wrong, He revealed that I had been taking on people’s problems and trying to fix them myself. Through Jesse’s message, God showed me that I was so desperate to see people’s problems resolved that I was losing hope, and it was making my heart sick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Instead of praying for and encouraging people to seek God with all their hearts, because He has all the answers, I was trying to find the answers for them. But as we see in Joshua 3:8 above, God will perform the miracle, but He requires us to take that step of faith, seek and follow Him, and allow Him to transform us. We can’t carry people through life. We can carry their burdens by helping them and directing them to Jesus, but ultimately they have to take responsibility and seek His will for themselves.

A couple years ago, God used me to help a young woman through a difficult time in her life. As God brought her through that time, and miraculously turned her life around, she no longer needed my help. Soon after, a man who had heard how I helped her, contacted me and requested that I daily feed him God’s Word.  I kindly directed him to the Bible and encouraged him to seek God with all his heart (Jeremiah 29:13). He wanted me to carry him. He didn’t see God as the source of that woman’s miracle. He saw me as the source.

When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?…. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Acts 3:12, 16

As Jesse’s book explains, God uses us ordinary people to do extraordinary miracles through. But we must remember that the people God uses us to help have to eventually get up, walk with Jesus,  get their feet wet, and allow Him to transform them.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

John 5:8

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us everything we need to walk in victory. Transform us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Empower us to do Your Will. Help us to know when we are stepping in front of You trying to fix people’s problems for them. Help us to step back and direct them to You.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

 

*My newest devotional “Armor of Light: A 7 – Week Devotional on Ephesians 6:10-18” will be FREE  (ebook version only) on Amazon from Tues. to Wed. (6/11-6/12).


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