THE WORD

He's Been Faithful - Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

GOD'S WORD

 
 
POINT AND CLICK
Matthew
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2324 25 26 27 28
Mark
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Luke
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2324
John
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Acts
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2324 25 26 27 28
Romans
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 Corinthians
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
2 Corinthians
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Galatians
1 2 3 4 5 6
Ephesians
1 2 3 4 5 6
Philippians
1 2 3 4
Colossians
1 2 3 4
1 Thessalonians
1 2 3 4 5
2 Thessalonians
1 2 3
1 Timothy
1 2 3 4 5 6
2 Timothy
1 2 3 4
Titus
1 2 3
Philemon
Hebrews
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
James
1 2 3 4 5
1 Peter
1 2 3 4 5
2 Peter
1 2 3
1 John
1 2 3 4 5
2 John
3 John
Jude
Revelation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
 
 

 

God is Working, regardless of how you feel 

That is why we must hold on all the more firmly to the truths we have heard, so that we will not be carried away. (Hebrews 2:1 TEV)
As you grow to spiritual maturity, there are several ways to cooperate with God in the process -

Believe God is working in your life even when you don't feel it. Spiritual growth is sometimes tedious work, one small step at a time. Expect gradual improvement. The Bible says, "Everything on earth has its own time and its own season." (Ecclesiastes 3:1 CEV)

There are seasons in your spiritual life, too. Sometimes you will have a short, intense burst of growth (springtime) followed by a period of stabilizing and testing (fall and winter).

What about those problems, habits, and hurts you would like miraculously removed? It's fine to pray for a miracle, but don't be disappointed if the answer comes through a gradual change. Over time, a slow, steady stream of water will erode the hardest rock and turn giant boulders into pebbles. Over time, a little sprout can turn into a giant redwood tree towering 350 feet tall.

Keep a notebook or journal of lessons learned. This is not a diary of events, but a record of what you are learning. Write down the insights and life lessons God teaches you about him, about yourself, about life, relationships, and everything else. Record these so you can review and remember them and pass them on to the next generation (Psalm 102:18; 2 Timothy 3:14)

The reason we must relearn lessons is that we forget them. Reviewing your spiritual journal regularly can spare you a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache. The Bible says, "It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off." (Hebrews 2:1 Msg)

Developing Biblical Self Control 
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) 

People with self-control master their moods. They do not let their moods master them. Most of what gets done in the world is accomplished by people who do the right thing even when they don't feel like it: "A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls." (Proverbs 25:28, NLT)

People with self-control watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths: "Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself." (Proverbs 13:3, TEV)

People with self-control restrain their reactions. How much can you take before you lose your cool? "If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it." (Proverbs 19:11, TEV)

People with self-control stick to their schedule. If you don't determine how you will spend your time, then others will decide for you: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV)

People with self-control manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went! "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." (Proverbs 21:20, NIV)

People with self-control maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements: "Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body ...." (1 Thessalonians 4:4, MSG)

In what areas do you need to develop for self-control? The disciplines you establish today will determine your success tomorrow.

But it takes more than just willpower for lasting self-control. It takes a power greater than yourself: "For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7, TEV)
 

 

How to be Thankful in Tough Times


Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
 

Don't worry about anything.
Worrying doesn't change anything. It's stewing without doing. There's no such thing as born worriers; worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That's good news. The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned. Jesus says, "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:34, NLT)

Pray about everything.
Next use the time you've been worrying for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you'd have a whole lot less to worry about. Some people think God only cares about religious things, such as how many people I invite to church or my tithing. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He's interested in every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem you face to God.

Thank God in all things.
Whenever you pray, you should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love -- but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities; it makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They're never satisfied; it's never good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.

Think about the right things.
If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think; the way you think determines how you feel. And the way you feel determines how you act. So if you want to change your life, you need to change what you're thinking about.

This involves a deliberate conscious choice where you change the channels. You choose to think about the right things: focus on the positive and on God's word.

Why? Because the root cause of stress is the way I choose to think.

When we no longer worry, when we pray about everything, when we give thanks, when we focus on the right things, the Apostle Paul tells us the result is, "The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

What a guarantee! He is guaranteeing peace of mind.

 

When the Future seems Uncertain

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans ... to give you a future and a hope ... You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest."  Jeremiah 29:11, 13 (LB)

No matter what the pollsters, pundits, and prognosticators claim, no one can accurately predict all that is going to happen this year, let alone in the next few weeks. Our best forecasts are just educated guesses.

Change is not only increasing in speed and intensity, but also in unpredictability.

The Bible suggests three timeless principles for facing an uncertain future:

Set goals according to God's direction
It's foolish to make plans without first consulting God.  He's the only one who DOES know the future - and he's eager to guide you through it. 

The Bible says, "We may make our plans, but God has the last word." (Proverbs 16:1)  In other words, planning without praying is presumption.  Start by praying, "God, what do YOU want me to do in 2010?"

Live one day at a time -- While you can plan for tomorrow, you can't live it until it arrives. Most people spend so much time regretting the past and worrying about the future, they have no time to enjoy today!

John Lennon once wrote, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  Decide to make the most of each moment this year.  Jesus said, "Don't be anxious about tomorrow - God will take care of your tomorrows. Live one day at a time." (Matthew 6:34)

Don't procrtatsinate - DO IT NOW! - "Don't boast about what you're going to do tomorrow, for you don't know what a day may bring forth." (Proverbs 27:1)

Procrastinating is a subtle trap.  It wastes today by postponing things until tomorrow.  You promise yourself that you'll do it "one of these days." But "one of these days" is usually "none of these days."

What did you plan to get done last year that you didn't do?  When do you intend to start working on it? 

 

YOUR HEART AND PERSONALITY REVEAL GOD'S PURPOSE

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that .... Galatians 6:4b (Msg).

Another way to determine how you can serve others is to ask yourself such questions as:

 

  • What do I really enjoy doing most?
  • When do I feel the most fully alive?
  • What am I doing when I lose track of time?
  • Do I like routine or variety?
  • Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself?
  • Am I more introverted or extroverted?
  • Am I more a thinker or a feeler?
  • Which do I enjoy more—competing or cooperating?

Examine your experiences and extract the lessons you've learned. Review your life and think about how it has shaped you. Moses told the Israelites, "Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him." (Deuteronomy 11:2 TEV)

 

Forgotten experiences are worthless; that's a good reason to keep a spiritual journal. Paul worried that the believers in Galatia would waste the pain they had been through. He said, "Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not!" (Galatians 3:4 NCV)

 

We rarely see God's good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. When Jesus washed Peter's feet, he said, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." (John 13:7 NIV)

 

Only in hindsight do we understand how God intended a problem for good.

 

Extracting the lessons from your experiences takes time. I recommend that you take an entire weekend for a life review retreat, where you pause to see how God has worked in the various defining moments of your life and consider how he wants to use those lessons to help others.

 

This will give you very clear direction on the ways he wants you to minister to others.

 

 

Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.Psalm 37:7 (GW)

Surrendering your life means -

  • Following God's lead without knowing where he's sending you;
  • Waiting for God's timing without knowing when it will come;
  • Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide;
  • Trusting God's purpose without understanding the circumstances.
You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don't have to always be "in charge." Instead of trying harder, you trust more.

You also know you're surrendered when you don't react to criticism and rush to defend yourself.

Surrendered hearts show up best in relationships.
You are not self-serving, you don't edge others out, and you don't demand your rights.

The most difficult thing to surrender for many people is their money. Many have thought, "I want to live for God but I also want to earn enough money to live comfortably and retire someday."

Retirement is not the goal of a surrender life -- Because it competes with God for the primary attention of our lives. Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and money," and "Wherever your treasure is, your heart will be also." 

The supreme example of self-surrender is Jesus. The night before his crucifixion Jesus surrendered himself to God's plan. He prayed, "Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." 

Jesus didn't pray, "God, if you're able to take away this pain, please do so." He began by affirming that God can do anything! He prayed, "God, if it is in your best interest to remove this suffering, please do so. But if it fulfills your purpose, that's what I want, too." 

Genuine surrender says, "Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose and glory in my, life or in another's life, please don't take it away!"

This level of maturity doesn't come easy. In Jesus' case, he agonized so much over God's plan that he sweats drops of blood. Surrender is hard work. In our case, it requires intense warfare against our self-centered nature.

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Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Proverbs 4:26 (HCSB)  

When you tell God, "I want the truth more than anything else," he will reveal his truth to you in a variety of ways, such as through creation or your conscience and also through careful consideration.

In other words, truth is knowable. You can test it; you can experiment with it; you can prove it.

If I want to go to San Francisco and I follow a map that takes me to San Francisco, and the next week I follow the same map to San Francisco again, eventually I figure out that the map is true.

The same is true of the Bible: If you follow its map again and again, you'll find it to be true. It always takes you where it says it's going to take you. You may not always like where it takes you, but it always takes you where it says it's going to take you.

Often people say, "Why won't God just write it in the sky?" Why would God do that? He gave you a brain. But most people never slow down long enough for such careful consideration. Most people just drift through life.

The Bible tells us, "Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established." (Proverbs 4:26, HCSB)

Spend some time in careful consideration, in thoughtful observation, and ask yourself: "Am I on a true path?"

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WHEN SERVING GOD, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

A man's heart reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

The Bible uses the term "heart" to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections that you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations -- what you love to do and what you care about most. Even today, we still use the word in this way when we say, "I love you with all my heart."

The Bible says what is in your heart is what you really are, not what others think you are, or what circumstances force you to be (Proverbs 27:19). Your heart is the real you. It determines why you say the things you do, why you feel the way you do, and why you act the way you do.

Physically, each of us has a unique heartbeat. Just as we each have unique thumbprints, eye prints, and voiceprints, our hearts beat in slightly different patterns. It's amazing that out of all the billions of people who've ever lived, no one has ever had a heartbeat exactly like yours.

In the same way, God has given each of us a unique emotional "heartbeat" that races when we think about the subjects, activities, or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where you should be serving.

Another word for heart is passion. There are certain subjects that you feel deeply passionate about and others that you couldn't care less about. Some experiences turn you on and capture your attention, while others turn you off or bore you to tears. These reveal the nature of your heart; listen for inner promptings that can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.

When you were growing up you may have discovered that you were intensely interested in some subjects that no one else in your family cared about.

Where did those interests come from? They came from God!

God had a purpose in giving you these inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat is a key to understanding your shape for service. Don't ignore your interests; consider how they might be used for God's glory. There is a reason that you love to do these things.

Listen for inner promptings that can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.
  

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Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God's Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (TEV).

You can't earn your spiritual gifts or deserve them -- that's why they are called gifts! They're an expression of God's grace to you: "Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us." (Ephesians 4:7, CEV)

Nor do you get to choose which gifts you'd like to have. Paul explains that God determines that, "It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have." (1 Corinthians 12:11, NLT).

 

 

________________________ 

 

The Four Laws of God's Blessing

RICK WARREN

"I will bless you ... and you will be a blessing." Genesis 12:2 (NIV)

During this Christmas season, we should keep in mind the four laws of God's blessing -

1. Our blessings should flow to others
The Bible teaches us that we are blessed not just so that we can feel good, not just so we can be happy and comfortable, but so that we will bless others. God told Abraham in Genesis 12, "I will bless you and you will be a blessing to others." This is the first law of blessing: it must flow outwardly.  

2. When we bless others, God takes care of our needs
God promises that if we will concentrate on blessing others, he'll take care of our needs. There's almost nothing that God won't do for the person who really wants to help other people. In fact, God guarantees this blessing. In Luke 18, Jesus says, "I guarantee this. Anyone who gives up anything for the kingdom of God will certainly receive many times more in this life and will receive eternal life in the next world to come."

When you care about helping other people, God assumes responsibility for your problems. And that's a real blessing, for he's much better at handling your difficulties than you are.

3. Our blessings to others will come back on us
The more you bless other people, the more you help others, the more God blesses your life. Luke 6:38 tells us, "Give your life away and you'll find your life given back. But not merely given back. Given back with bonus and blessing." You cannot out give God. The more you try to bless other people in the world around you, the more God says, "I'm going to pour blessings out on you. We'll play a little game here. Let's see who will win. Let's see who can give the most. The more you bless others the more I'm going to bless you in return."

4. The more we're blessed by God, the more He expects us to help others.
Jesus said it this way in Luke 12 "Much is required from those to whom much is given. For their responsibility is greater." Based on the blessings of your life, what would you say God expects from you?

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GOD'S WORD

New International Version


POINT AND CLICK

Matthew

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2324 25 26 27 28

Mark

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Luke

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2324

John

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Acts

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2324 25 26 27 28

Romans

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 Corinthians

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

2 Corinthians

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Galatians

1 2 3 4 5 6

Ephesians

1 2 3 4 5 6

Philippians

1 2 3 4

Colossians

1 2 3 4

1 Thessalonians

1 2 3 4 5

2 Thessalonians

1 2 3

1 Timothy

1 2 3 4 5 6

2 Timothy

1 2 3 4

Titus

1 2 3

Philemon

1

Hebrews

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

James

1 2 3 4 5

1 Peter

1 2 3 4 5

2 Peter

1 2 3

1 John

1 2 3 4 5

2 John

1

3 John

1

Jude

1

Revelation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

 

 

We love because he first loved us.


The reason God wants us to love is because he is love, and he created us to be like him - to love. The only reason we're able to love is because God loves us: "Love comes from God ... because God is love." (1 John 4:7-8, NIV)

We were created in God's image to do the two things on earth: Learn to love God and learn to love other people; life is all about love.

But love all started with God. He loved us first and that gives us the ability to love others. (1 John 4:19) The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it's all a gift of God's love.

In order to love others and to become great lovers, we first need to understand and feel how much God loves us. We don't want to just talk about love, read about love, or discuss about love; our need is to experience the love of God.

We need to reach a day when we finally, fully understand how God loves us completely and unconditionally. We need to become secure in the truth that we cannot make God stop loving us.

Once we're secure inside God's unconditional love, we'll start cutting people a lot of slack. We won't be as angry as we've been. We'll be more patient. We'll be more forgiving. We'll be more merciful. We'll let others have grace.

But you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so my hope is that, as you learn how much God loves you, you'll also let him heal your heart so that his love can flow freely through you. It's impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.

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