Ahh, freedom! What a glorious word. Take a moment to think about a time when you felt especially free. Now consider: Jesus died so that we can be totally free, all the time. That is part of His promise to everyone who believes in and accepts Him. But freedom from what, exactly?
When we understand that the Bible is true, then we understand that not only is God real, but so is the devil. He hates you and me and every single person who ever lived. We see his work in unspeakable acts of violence and destruction in the world around us. He perpetuates all manner of misery through disease, poverty, mental illness, war, hate, chaos and confusion. Whether it’s in the headlines or in our own private lives, the devil is on the prowl to torment wherever he can.
Being a Christian, according to the Bible, is the same as being a disciple, or student or follower of Jesus. And following Jesus means practicing His teachings in all we do. That includes putting God first, laying our lives down for others, telling people about the Gospel, enduring persecution, and even doing miracles, just to name a few things that Jesus taught and demonstrated during His life on this earth. Sound like a tall order? Yep, it is. In fact, on our own, it’s impossible. Which is why, at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He spoke of a very special gift God would give us: the Holy Spirit.
Do you ever feel like the truth is being pitted against kindness and compassion? Like standing for truth is equated with disregard for the struggles of others, and showing love and mercy is equated with compromise? The reality is that according to the Word of God, these are not at odds at all. God is Truth, and God is Love, and He expects His people to stand for both
So many scriptures and Christian songs refer to surrender, and to Jesus being Lord. But how many of us have really stopped to consider what all of that really means? It can be easy to gloss over this concept, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid the simple truth that being a Christian means giving God control of everything.
Did you ever stop to consider the difference between joy and happiness? Or even realize that there was a difference at all? Well it turns out, there’s actually a pretty important distinction that can have a big impact on how we live our lives. It has to do with what they are based on. Happy means to be joyous based on circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is:
In construction, a solid foundation is key to building a sound structure. The well established practice of digging down to bedrock to place the foundation is as reliable today as in ancient times. This is because in order for a structure to be stable, it has to be secured to something stable. Even though the ground for a building site may seem suitable for construction at first, if it’s not solid rock, it will change when conditions change: in the presence of storm and flood waters, sand will erode, clay will swell and heave. If it is made from inadequate materials or not properly reinforced, the foundation itself will be the weak link.
There is something remarkable about the miracle of life. You know that feeling of awe when you see a newborn? Even when they’re all wrinkled and messy, it’s no less awe-inspiring to see that tiny person enter the world. It’s amazing!
Have you ever struggled with really praising God? Maybe, like me, you can’t carry a tune, and you feel a little out of place in a church service where everyone is singing together. Or maybe you’re so aware of all the bad things going on around you that you just aren’t feeling it. Yet, no matter what, God wants us to praise Him at all times. How are we supposed to do that?
According to multiple surveys, the average person spends something like 2 hours and 51 minutes on a smartphone per day, and among Americans in particular, 79% of adults daily spend 3 hours or more on a smartphone. (In both cases, this doesn’t count work-related usage.) As a matter of fact, chances are, you’re reading this on a smartphone! Given that these devices occupy such a significant part of our daily activities, it’s worth considering how they impact our lives.
Sometimes it’s amazing how totally opposite our thinking can be from what God teaches us in the Bible. Take, for example, the notion that as Christians, our lives are not about us at all…
Did you ever notice how we often look at what others are doing as more valuable or more important than what we ourselves are doing? Maybe we feel like we’d rather be out in front instead of behind the scenes, or we long for the big job instead of doing something we consider more mundane. Sometimes we may feel like it’s the opportunity that’s lacking, and other times we feel like it’s our own ability. But the truth is, nothing is lacking- God just has different callings for all of us.
Have you ever stopped to think about why it’s so important to read the Bible? It’s generally recognized as a common discipline for Christians, but the idea of reading the same book over and over can also be baffling to some. The thing is, it’s more than just a book- it’s the Word of God. Let that sink in for a second: the scriptures are actually a way God speaks to us personally. Whether it’s what’s actually written on the page or what the Holy Spirit reveals to us as we’re reading, God speaks into our lives. In fact, the Bible says,
The concept of choice is at the heart of some very heated debates today, but setting aside the current political climate, ultimate choice is about a different matter altogether. In fact, the central question that determines our eternal destiny is all about our choice -> “Who will we choose, God or the devil?” It is the same question God presented to the Israelites in the Old Testament:
It’s funny how everyday concepts can help give understanding to spiritual matters from the Bible. Take a skeleton key for example. When you have a skeleton key it allows you to open many different locks with the same key. It’s kinda the one to rule them all. So what does this have to do with spiritual concepts?
Do you ever think about the fact that we will all have to give an account for our actions one day? I know that’s a heavy question, but if we ignore the implications of that future appointment, we gamble with our eternal destiny. The Bible says,
Calling all bargain hunters: if you’re like me, you love finding a great deal… on anything! And that appreciation for savings doesn’t just apply to discounts and freebies. Shortcuts that save time or labor-saving devices that reduce effort are marketable for a reason. Who doesn’t like to get more from less? But when it comes to God’s call for us to walk in love, it’s not about savings, it’s about sacrifice. Sure, that’s counter to all the messages around us that emphasize things like “me time” and self care,” but in God’s kingdom, sacrifice is not a dirty word. On the contrary, Jesus said,
How can we know what’s true and what’s right when everything around us seems to be so subjective? People use phrases like “my truth” to emphasize the potential for all of us to see the same facts and circumstances differently. In fact, for some, the assertion that there is such a thing as right and wrong or an absolute, objective truth, is an outdated and offensive position that must be shouted down. So what can we do to be sure that we aren’t the ones getting deceived and off-track? It starts with staying anchored to the One unwavering source of 100% reliable truth: God. Left to our own devices, it is guaranteed that we will go astray.
True confessions: I have sometimes bristled when hearing people talk about how we are supposed to be humble. In some cases, it conjured up images of folks I’ve seen being super phony, like, “Oh, this? It’s just a little old Nobel Peace Prize. Doesn’t everybody have one?” And other times, it felt like it was just a way for the other person to tell me I should be their doormat. But as it turns out, when I saw it like that, I was getting it all wrong. Operating in humility isn’t about downplaying reality, or about getting done in. It’s about operating in God’s ways, and being more like Him. You see,
Having the right perspective is a game changer when it comes to being able to weather the storms in our lives. Sometimes, the things we are experiencing right now can look very different depending on the point of view from which we are seeing them. For example, when I didn’t get the scholarship I needed to be able to go to my first choice school, I was devastated. I thought everything I had worked for was for nothing- I was a failure and my future was off track… Some may think that’s a bit dramatic, but it was real to me! Now, today, some years later, I see things totally different. I can recognize God’s hand in steering me to the university He wanted me to attend, connecting me to the people He wanted me to meet, and ultimately bringing me into the calling He had for my life all along. But on the day I got that letter from the other school, I just locked myself in the bathroom and sat on the floor crying while my brother banged on the door…
Have you ever heard people talk about how God has a purpose for your life, but deep inside you’ve thought you must be disqualified? I know I have. Especially when I struggle with the same issue over and over, or when I do something that I thought I’d never do. Even though we all make mistakes, sometimes I can feel like I’m an irredeemable mess. I mean, making a mistake is one thing, but there are times that my failures feel bigger than that. When I find myself wondering if God can really still use me, it helps me to consider an example God gave us in the Bible.
The Bible teaches us to “Walk in love,” or as another translation puts it, “Live a life filled with love.” (Ephesians 5:2) But to be able to do that, we first need to understand what that word really means. Our culture today certainly seems to have a lot of ways to define love, but as it turns out, that’s nothing new. Interestingly enough, the Greek language (which the New Testament was originally written in) has several different words that are all translated into English as “love,” and they have different meanings and applications. For example, there’s storge (storgé), which is family love, and philia, which is more like friendship. There’s also eros, which is physical attraction. But then there’s agape (agápē). This is the big one, and it’s all over the Bible, including the scripture above. Dictionary.com says that, “agape is often defined as unconditional, sacrificial love,” or even, “Christian…
Have you ever found it hard to live out the scripture that says, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” (Matthew 22:39)
“If God loves me, why has He allowed the bad things that have happened in my life?” We’ve all heard or asked this question, possibly many times, and the answer can seem elusive. But no matter what happens,