Growing Close to the Lord

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Proof of Love

How can you tell that someone loves you? Is it enough that they say that they love you?  What if they say they do and then they do things that suggests that they don’t?
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This is common sense, if you say that you love someone or something, you would show it by the words you say and the things that you do. This same idea also applies when it involves our relationship with God.  This was the point Jesus made to the Jewish people in John 5:38-40.

Love on the Surface

Jesus pointed out the flaws in their beliefs.  They believed that reading God’s Word was enough to save them.  Unfortunately, they failed to see what the Scriptures were telling them; they were pointing to Christ as the only means to salvation.
Many times people think that outward devotion would save them from the wrath that is coming from God. The Lord knows the condition of our heart and He is not deceived by lip service. The proof of us loving God is found when we keep His Word with sincerity of heart.  The only way we can have His Word close to us is believing in the Word of His Son, Jesus Christ.
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Reading for the Mind

Again Jesus explained in John 5:46-47, that proof of this truth is found throughout Scripture that He Himself is the Word of God. If one reads and does not recognize and believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, then God’s Word and His Love is not in them.  They have rejected the truth they have been given, even though God Himself sent it; as shown in John 5:42-43.  If people aren’t getting the Truth of God when reading the Bible, then why do they read it?  They read the Word as an academic exercise, taking its words at the intellectual level rather than at the spiritual as it should be.

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Reading for the Heart

Reading the Bible must not be superficial, nor can it be just academic. It requires a deep reflection of who God is; after all, the Scriptures are about Him. It is also important, as we study the Word, that we look into ourselves and examine the condition of our souls in relation to His Word. This can be a painful process because no one wants to admit that they have a problem. The Bible does not save a person, instead it is a guide to the One who can save, the Son of God, Jesus.
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Talking With God

Recognizing that we need Jesus is the first step to growing closer to the Lord and proving that we love Him.  Now how can we gain a full, intimate knowledge of Him through His Word?  The first component is prayer.  He wants us to talk to Him and also He wants us to listen to Him. The more we pray, the more intimate we be with the Lord.  In order for any relationship to thrive, communication is essential.

Where to Start in His Word

After a moment of prayer,  it is now time to read God’s Word. Where should we start?  That depends on where your heart is at a given time. If you want to learn more about God’s work in history, I suggest reading the Old Testament (Genesis through Esther). If you want to learn how to praise God, I suggest the Psalms. To understand how much Christ loves for, read the Gospels. To grow in your spiritual walk, you ought to read the Letters of the New Testament and even the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament. If you want to know the promises of God, read the Prophets of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation.

Quiet Reflection

After studying the Scriptures it is essential to set aside quiet reflection. It is very easy to just read Scripture and be done.  When you slow down and really think about the great things God has done in your life and in the lives of others and how to apply what you have learned from the passage you read, then your love for God will grow with every read. This reflection can take many forms, I personally use a journal, but others sing songs, paint, or whatever God leads you to do.

More than Head Knowledge

If you claim to love God, then I urge you to start showing it by doing what He says to do in His Scriptures.  Spend time with Him in prayer and quietly meditate on His Words.  Do not fall into the trap that the Jews in Jesus’ time.  They were so enamored with the head knowledge of the Law rather than applying it that they did not have a real love for God but for themselves.

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Your Word for This Day: “Living a Powerful Life”

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To often we allow ourselves to be bogged down by our weaknesses and flaws. We fail to realize that we don’t have to live our lives that way. For in Christ we have an abundance of Divine Power, just waiting to be opened. All we need to do is let go of our failings and embrace the grace of God. When we identify ourselves as under God’s favor, then His power will overwhelm us and lift us up from the mire of failure into the skies of mercy and glory.

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Your Word for This Day

Thursday, August 25, 2016

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29, 31 NLT

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Paul had a situation in his life, he needed to be healed.  He did what all believers should do in times of need; he went to God for Him to remedy the situation. God spoke to the Apostle Paul saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

God did not heal Paul, but instead, told him that His grace was enough to see him through. The fact that God’s grace and strength was available to him brought Paul all the comfort he needed and he was able to continue his work…

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God’s Promises Puts Out Fear

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As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Joshua 1:5 (King James Version)

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I think about those people who had to take the place of those who left behind a great legacy.  I wonder how Harry Truman felt, when he had to take over as President when Franklin Roosevelt died, or Andrew Johnson after Lincoln, or even Rehoboam who succeeded his famous father Solomon as King.  I can only imagine that they felt intimidated and a little bit anxious over the idea of taking charge.


For Joshua, it must have been even more intimidating.  Not only was he the leader of the great nation of Israel, but he also had to take the place of Moses; not an easy thing to do.  Moses was a great man of God, he led the people out of Israel, gave them the Law of God, and guided Israel through the wilderness towards the Promise Land.  He was essentially the earthly father of the people.

Now that Moses was gone, all eyes were turned towards Joshua, his successor.  He certainly had big shoes to fill and I wonder if Joshua felt that he was capable of leading the people in the conquests of Canaan.  I can imagine that he had his doubts.
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All of us have faced tasks that seemed too big for us to handle.  Those who walk with Christ have been called to do such tasks and we must fulfill them.  However, as we proceed, doubt begins to creep into our hearts and questions begin to pop into our heads.  We ask ourselves, “What if people don’t listen to my words?”, “What if I get hurt on this mission from God, even die?”, “What if I don’t have the resources I need?”, “What if I fail?”
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These were probably some of the questions that Joshua must have been asking himself.  Then the Lord came and spoke to him in verse five of chapter one (the verse above).  The Lord knew that Joshua needed assurance, so He gave His promise that He would not allow him to fail and that He would provide everything that was needed for this conquest.  It must have been encouraging to Joshua knowing that God would be with him just as He was with his mentor Moses.

This promise that God gave to Joshua also applies to everybody who does the work of the Lord.  He has given His followers a mission: to proclaim the truth, in love, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is indeed a tall order to fill for us but I encourage you to listen to the promise of the Lord.  The Almighty will not allow us to fail utterly in the mission which He was given to us.  To have us fail would reflect badly on God and He is not about to let His name be tarnished by failure.  Therefore, let us proceed in our work without fear for the Lord assures us daily that He will never leave us or forsake us.
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I Don’t Like the Word “Religion”

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There is a big difference between the Christian walk and other religions. In religion, it is man trying to find ways to get to God, only to fall short every time. In the Christian faith, it is the other way around, it is God who comes down to His people in order to save them from their sins. You may have noticed that I have been avoiding calling the walk with Christ as Christianity. That is because people view Christianity as any other religion; an institution where man is trying to get to God. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must stop thinking of ways of pleasing the Lord in order to get on His good side. Instead, we ought to serve the Lord out of gratitude for the work that He has already done for us. A work that we could not do by ourselves. Faith in Christ must not be bunched with religion; it is in a league all by itself.
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As most of you all know, I am a huge supporter of my local church. I volunteer when I can, donate as much as possible, and invite people as frequently as possible.So it may come as a surprise to you that I am not a huge fan of the idea of religion. The whole institution of religion has gotten a pretty bad rap, whether its Christianity or any other religion. Doing things because your religion tells you to, is not something I am a fan of. I think living your life for a higher being is all based on you waking up each day and choosing to partake.

I believe that going to services and in my case, following Jesus is the best thing ever. Going to church, praying, and reading the bible are what I like to consider my living traditions, rather then my religion. I practice these things…

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Praying to be with God

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I will not ask for comfort from my Lord,

In my prayers to my King I will not plead for ease.

Instead I will plead to stay in the Lord’s shadow,

Under His grace is my one request to Him.

Worldly desires I will not request from the Almighty,

In my petitions I won’t beg for treasure on earth.

But I will ask of God if I could stay in presence,

To be allowed to remain in His way I will pray.

I will not ask for fleeting fame in my requests to Him,

Fickle popularity I won’t ask for in my prayers.

My only desire is to find favor with my Savior,

To receive the Love of my Christ is what I long for.

With gladness I will endure great toil for my God,

I am willing to suffer greatly to persevere for the Lord.

Just so that I may be allowed to remain in the Lord’s will,

To walk with the Almighty, I am willing to endure much.

For He is more valuable than anything on this earth,

More precious in the universe is my God to me.
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The events of our lives are in His hands


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We live in a world that is a pit full of anxiety and worry. Look into its depths long enough and the fears it stores will come upon you. God is clasping His hand upon our shoulder, urging us to turn away from this pit of despair, The Lord wants us to turn to Him and see that everything will be alright because He is in charge. It is good thing that the Almighty is the boss for He good and generous in His provision. Let us heed the voice of the Lord and do not worry but trust Him.


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Knowing God through His Word ... Day by Day

“The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”— Proverbs 16:33

“God’s dice always have a lucky roll,” said Sophocles, one of classical Athens’ three great tragic playwrights.

Here’s what Charles H. Spurgeon has to say, in Morning and Evening:

diceIf the disposal of the lot is the Lord’s, whose is the arrangement of our whole life? If the simple casting of a lot is guided by him, how much more the events of our entire life—especially when we are told by our blessed Saviour: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered: not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father.” It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were always to remember this. It would so relieve your mind from anxiety, that you would be the better able to walk in patience, quiet…

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Made Perfect in Christ

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The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.

Psalm 138:8 (King James Version)

I remember the day I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was so excited to be part of God’s family.  However, the next day, when all the thrill died down, I asked myself, “What’s next?”  Once we accept Jesus, what do we do; do we just sit where we are and wait for the coming of our Lord?

Those who think this way don’t have a clear understanding why Jesus saved us in the first place.  While it’s true that when we believe that Jesus is Lord of our lives that we become saved from our sins with no strings attached, this is only the beginning.  Even though we are saved, we still have a personality that has sinful habits and tendencies.
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Continuing to live like a sinner, even while being saved prevents a Christian from truly experiencing the love of Christ.  Therefore it’s essential to take the needed steps to eradicate our old sinful selves.  Only then can we truly appreciate the benefits of being a child of God.

The process of removing our old self is called sanctification.  Think of it as peeling off old skin that is rotted and burned in order to reveal the new skin underneath. Sanctification is a messy and painful procedure.

Sinful habits are hard to kill and won’t go down without a fight.  The good news is that we aren’t alone in this struggle with our old selves.  As it says in the verse from Psalm 138, the Lord God promises to be with us through the ordeal.

Why would God want to help us in our sanctification?  God has invested so much into us (sending His Son to die for our sins for example) that He wants to make sure we succeed.  Only when the old self is removed and the new self is revealed can we be productive in our work for God.

What is this new self that God wants us to be?  The new self that we are striving to have is the very image of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.   When God looks at us, He doesn’t want to see the old sinful person we once were; He absolutely detests it.  Instead, He wants to see His Son in us, for only in Him is the Father well pleased.

Knowing that our Heavenly Father wants us to succeed in the sanctification process, let’s press on in removing the old sinful and rotted skin from off our bodies, so that the new skin that we have in Christ will be seen for all to see.  Unlike the old skin which was dark and disgusting, our new skin will shine and attract others who are also tired of their old lives as well.  Now, that we know that removing the old self is important to experiencing a fulfilling life in Christ, what are the tools that we need to begin this process?

The first tool is the Bible, when we read its words, study them intently, and then discern how to apply them to life, we begin the removal process.  The next component is prayer, getting rid of sinful ways isn’t easy, but when we have a consistent communication with the Almighty, we are encouraged to persevere.  The third tool is the church community, when you have tribe of believers, encouraging you in your sanctification, you are given the extra boost of energy needed to press on.  Finally, I believe to most essential piece of equipment needed for sanctification is the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He is our coach and trainer and will direct us in the way in which we must take.

Being a Christian is a lifelong process.  It is a long hard road that we must take, but the benefits are far worth the toil.  Those benefits are not so much the final destination, but the process of getting there.  Every situation we encounter is another step towards being more like our risen Lord.  Therefore, let’s take joy in hardships, for in them we are made perfect.
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The Echo of the Snore from the Pulpit


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Complacency and routine are the enemies of the Christian faith. They cause us to be lazy in our duties as Christians. Jesus warns us that we must always be on watch. We must watch for His return, keep an eye out for souls ready to receive Christ, and be wary of potential pitfalls that will cause us to stumble in our faith. To be watchful, we must be constantly engaged in the ways of the Lord. Specifically, we need to devote ourselves to reading God’s Word and meditating on it day and night. We must also remain steadfast in my prayers to the Lord so that we may grow stronger in our relationship with Him. Energy for the Lord is contagious and is easily seen by those who are curious about Him. Therefore, we must sharpen ourselves for God lest we be cured of the energy which the Almighty has infected us with.
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Life Is Worship

A blunt sword will not cut; a dull sermon will not reach the conscience. The sword must be sharpened, and the sermon must be sharpened too. The preacher’s laziness or half-heartedness, want of earnest faith in Christ and earnest love to men, blunts the edge of his sermons. Ah! he needs to be sharpened himself; stirred up continually to fresh energy and communion with his Savior, and affectionate interest for his fellow-men. Nothing prevents dulness so effectually as energy and zeal. The snore from the pew is often only the echo of the snore from the pulpit.

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Being in God’s Fellowship

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Let me walk with You my God,

My Father, allow me to be by Your side.

For there is no greater joy than to be with You,

Fellowship with my King is far better than all things.

To follow the Lord is to go on the path of life,

The road to eternity is in the Way of the Almighty.

May my path follow the Light of my Savior,

The trail which He had made I will stay upon.

To stray from His way is to stumble in life,

Progress is slowed when I take a detour.

May my focus be on God and I won’t falter,

Nothing will slow me when my eyes are on my King.

I will walk in fellowship with the Lord,

On my pilgrimage, I will have communion with my Savior.
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Activated

Our control of our destiny is limited by the fact that we can only see in the present. However, this should not frustrate us for the One who has created us, the Lord, knows how it will all turn out. The Lord whom we serve is good and wants nothing but the best for us. While we are in a season of life that may be unpleasant, we need to stop and consider what it is that God is trying to teach us. We must strive to submit to the plan which He has laid before us and not try to resist it. Fighting back or complaining about a season you are in, only makes life more difficult. It is like taking the cake out of the oven before it is baked multiple times; it will slow down the completion of the cake. Therefore endure the season and trust in the Lord for He knows what you are doing.
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The Seasons of Life

By Mara Hodler

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

This is a big life lesson. It is really good news … and not such great news at the same time. Regardless of how you may feel at the moment, what season of life you are currently living through, you can probably expect a change at some point, because, as we know, seasons come and go.

When King Solomon wrote the preceding scripture, he gave a lot of examples of the seasons and ways our lives can change:

A time to be born and a time to die
A time to plant and a time to uproot
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to tear down and a time to build
A time to weep and a time to laugh

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