Sunday, May 30, 2010

Godly Advice for Graduates

1.   Know whose your Master (James 1:1). Serve Jesus alone. To determine who your Master is, who or  what occupies your thoughts when you wake up and when you go to bed (your first and last thoughts of each day)? Why do you do what you do each day (what's your motivation)? Jesus should be in your thoughts every day from start to finish, and your motivation should be to bring him glory.

2.  What is your source of joy? (James 1:2-4) It should be Jesus. Life will not be easy and times it will be unfair, but we can still have joy because God is in control.

3. What is your source of wisdom? (James 1:5-8) Ask God for wisdom when you don't know what to do.

4. Know your identity. (James 1:9-11) You are a child of God. Riches, power and position should be your pursuit instead focus on the eternal things.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Obedience versus Disobedience

Before the author of Leviticus 26 details the benefits of obeying God, two important commandments are reiterated: do not make idols and bow down to them and observe the Sabbath (verses 1 and 2). The repetition is critical because no one can truly be obedient to God unless God is first in their life. If a person obeys God, he can expect rewards, including but not limited to have basis needs for food, clothing and shelter met (verses 4, 5 and 10), peace in the land he lives (verse 6), victory over enemies despite overwhelming odds (verses 7 and 8), blessed with children (verse 9), to have God dwell with him (verses 11 and 12).

However, those who disobey God will face a different set of consequences, including fear, diseases, death, famine, droughts, conflict, unrest and defeat by enemies. In verses 14 through 46, it states that if a person or nation refuses to respond to the consequences of his disobedience, the consequences will escalate sevenfold. For the believer who continues to rebel, God will increase the consequences of his sin until the person is spiritually broken. The only reason God disciplines his child in such a manner is because of his love and he wants us to make him aware of the vileness of his sins. To stop the downward spiral that comes for continual rebellion against God, all that is needed is confession and repentance with a humble heart. Only then can the person’s relationship with God be restored.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fear of Sudden Disasters & Ruin - Part 2

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of ruin that overtakes the wicked for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Proverbs 3:25-26

Observation

Fear is a very common emotion in our world, and there are many sources which have the potential of creating fear within us. At the extreme, fear can grip a person so fiercely that he will restrict his activities in an attempt avoid any misfortune. Nevertheless, any fear other than the fear of God is a signal that the person is not trusting God.

At the other extreme is a man who lives life in a reckless, carefree manner with no regard to himself or others. While this person may appear to have no fears, his self-destructive behavior is probably deeply rooted in fear. However, the only fear that he needs to have is missing – the fear of God – because the one who fears the Lord will have respect for others and himself and will live a lifestyle that exhibits self-control, all of which is pleasing to God.

Application

So how do you avoid these two extremes? Trust God always! Know that God is bigger than any fear that you will ever have, and with Him you never need to fear man, diseases or natural disasters. He is willing and capable of delivering you from your ungodly fears and preserving you from any troubles that may enter your life.

Prayer

Dear Lord, Help me to avoid all extremes – from allowing fear to dominate me so that I live a life that is less than what you have planned for me and from living so irresponsibly that I needlessly put myself and others in harm’s way. Deliver me from all of my unfounded fears and guide me in your truth. You are my confidence, Lord, and I trust you to protect me in every way. I love You! In Christ’s name. Amen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fear of Sudden Disasters & Ruin - Part 1

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of ruin that overtakes the wicked for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Proverbs 3:25-26

Observation

Life is full of bad times, and they strike both the redeemed and the unredeemed. This irrefutable fact can be the source of much anxiety for people. Some troubles can be avoided by making wise decisions and walking in God’s way, such refusing to drive carelessly or abusing drugs. The person who makes unwise decisions will suffer the consequences of those choices. Other adversities are unavoidable and can happen to anyone, such as cancer or tornados. However, the believer has no reason to despair because they can trust the Lord to sustain, protect and guide them through all of life’s turmoil.

Application

What are you afraid of? Is it a consequence of your poor decision making? If you are fearing the consequences of a foolish choice, confess and repent the sin to the Lord. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to make the best decision in every circumstances and the strength to overcome your bad habits. It’s difficult to make new habits; it’s the reason why so many resolutions get broken every year. However, as a child of God, you have access to the mighty power of the Lord to help you overcome any stumbling blocks in your life.

Do you fear something beyond your control? Do what you can to reduce your risk of the tragedy, such as replacing the batteries in the smoke detectors every six months, if you fear a house fire and eating a well-balanced diet and exercise, if you fear a diagnosis of cancer, diabetes or other life changing disease. Most important, trust God knowing that He is faithful. Even if the Lord allows the worst case scenario to touch your life, He is in control of the situation and will bring something good out of it. God will not let the disaster to destroy you. Why? Because He loves you – you belong to Him and He always protects His own.

Prayer

Dear God,  Thank you for your faithfulness and love. I love that I can fully trust in your promises. You are my confidence, and I trust you, Lord, to protect me from the evils that exist in this world and to sustain me regardless of what happens. Forgive me of the foolish decisions I have made in my life. Please give me the strength and wisdom to turn away from harmful habits, help me to make wise decisions and to live a life that will glorify You. Only with your strength will I be able to overcome any stumbling block in my life.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Stay Away from Sin

Points that stood out to me from this week's Bible study from Levitcus 17:1-22:33:

• Keeping God’s commands is the only way to be holy in an unholy world. (Levitcus 17:3-4)

• Improper sexual relations, such as adultery, homosexuality, incest and prostitution, will destroy people, relationships, families and communities. (Levitcus 17:6-18)

• Loving a person does not mean you accept their sinful practices. It is best not to associate with the one who insists on maintaining a sinful lifestyle so that you will not become corrupt by their actions. (Levitcus 18:29)

• Because God has shown us mercy, we should be merciful and generous to the poor and the oppressed. (Levitcus 19:9-10, 15 and 33)

• Occult practices, such as tarot cards, horoscopes and fortune telling, reveal a lack of trust in God. (Levitcus 19:26)

• Adults have a responsibility to protect children and shield them from evil, as much as possible. (Levitcus 20:1-5)

• There are always consequences for sin. (Levitcus 20:1-27)

• Leaders/teachers are held to a higher standard because they have a more public role in modeling holiness to God. (Levitcus 21:22)

• God wants our best time, talent and resources. (Levitcus 22:19-25)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Do Right When You Do Wrong

This week's Bible study lesson comes from Leviticus 1:1 - 16:34, and the following are points that made an impression on me:

• Sacrificing animals as an offering to God was to sensitize the Israelites to the seriousness of sin. In today’s world we have become desensitized to sin and the sacrifice Jesus made to save us from eternal damnation. We need to take sin seriously. (Leviticus 1:1-9)

• A person’s attitude determines, if God finds his sacrifice/offering/repentance acceptable. (Leviticus 1:9b, 13b and 17b)

• You should seek forgiveness for unintentional sins, when you become aware of them (Leviticus 4:35-5:6)

• Only through confession and repentance can we have a right relationship with God. (Leviticus 5:5)

• When our sin causes another person to experience some type of loss, restitution must be made in addition to confession and repentance. (Leviticus 6:5)

• Religious rituals should draw us closer to God. We should not forget the meaning or the purpose of the rituals lest we become indifferent and just go through the motions of worship.

• Leaders have special responsibilities for those in their congregation. The consequences of their sins may be severe, but if left unpunished, the congregation could be led astray. (Leviticus 10:1-2)

• Disregarding God’s commands and being indifferent to God puts us in danger.(Leviticus 10:1-2)

• Holiness is very important to God. We are to be holy and clean. The opposite of holy is common, and the opposite of clean is impure. (Leviticus 10:1-2)

• God’s commands are not to restrict our life and enjoyment, but to keep us from dangerous temptation and damaging sin and to make us holy.

• Atonement for sin is required for all sin, and the ultimate atonement was made when Jesus died on the cross. (Leviticus 16:34)

How Do You Contribute?

• God is adamant that we keep the Sabbath holy and refrain from all work on this day. There are consequences to breaking this commandment, as with any commandment. (Exodus 35:1-3)

• God expect us to give to Him and others from what we have been blessed with, whether it be our time, talents, money and possessions. (Exodus 35:5)

• God wants us to willingly and cheerfully give instead of giving out of obligation or guilt. He desires for us to have a generous heart. (Exodus 35:5)

• God intends for us to use our talents for His kingdom and for His glory. (Exodus 35:10)

• God is a planner, and He is interested in all of the details. Like He planned the tabernacle, He plans every detail of our lives. (Exodus 35:3-19; 36:8-38; 37:1-29; 38:1-20; 39:1-30 and 40:1-33)

• Giving involves sacrifice – giving up something valuable and meaningful to you so that another may benefit from it. (Exodus 35:22-28)

• God thinks about the long term and plans for it. God had a purpose for the spoils the Israelites took with them when they left Egypt. It was not only to enrich His people, but to provide the needed materials for the construction of the tabernacle.

• Giving is a form of worship. Whether or not the Israelites would surrender the valuables was a test of their devotion to God and a measure of the generosity. . The question is not do we have anything to give, but will we give. Everyone has something to give. “Faithful people are always generous.” (Life Application Notes)

• We, like the Israelites, own nothing, but are stewards of what God has entrusted us.

• Our work is a product of our devotion to God. “Good workers take pride in the quality and beauty of their work. God is concerned with the quality and beauty of their work.” (Life Application Notes)(Exodus 35:26)

• Our skills, abilities and knowledge come from God. (Exodus 35:31,34,35)

• God does not force us to give or to work for His kingdom. (Exodus 36:2b)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What If You Falter?

Exodus 32:1 to 34:35 is the background passage for my study group's weekly lesson which is about the golden calf that the Israelites demanded to have as a god and the consequences of this egregious sin.
So how does this lesson apply to today's believer?
  • When God tells you to wait, then do what He says.  Don't rush ahead of Him; don't take matters into your own hands; don't give up on the Lord.  Remember there is always a good reason for why God makes us wait. (Exodus 32:1)
  • Don't pressure your spiritual leaders into doing something that goes against God's law and His will. (Exodus 32:1)
  • As a spiritual leader, don't be pressured by those you lead to do something that is sinful or would cause another person to stumble spiritually. (Exodus 32:2)
  • Always seek God's guidance before striking out in a new direction. (Exodus 32:2) 
  • Don't allow anything made of man's hand become an idol in your life.  It will always be inferior to the one true God. (Exodus 32:4)
  • When distressed, don't slip into your old sinful habits.  This can occur when we allow fear, insecurity and a feeling of having been abandoned by God can overwhelm us, and our faith falters. (Exodus 32:1)
  • In times of stress, count your blessings and remember how God has graciously provided for you. (Exodus 32:1)
  • It is our duty to intercede for others asking that God be merciful to those who have sinned and praying that they confess and repent of their sins. (Exodus 32:11-13)
  • Idolatry, like all sin, angers God. (Exodus 32:8-10)
  • God is merciful, that is He doesn't give us what we deserve for our sin. (Exodus 32:14)
  • God always keeps His promises. (Exodus 32:13)
  • Anger at sin is righteous and is a sign of spiritual vitality. (Exodus 32:19-20)
  • When confronted with your sin, don't deflect responsiblity or gloss over the truth in order to make yourself look better.  Lying to cover up a sin is useless; commiting one sin does not erase another sin nor does it negate the consequences. The only acceptable response is to confess your sin to God and turn from that sin. (Exodus 32:22-24)
  • A congregation is only as strong spiritually as their leader is.  A spiritually weak leader will weaken a church. (Exodus 32:25)
  • Each person is accountable for their actions (Exodus 32:34)
  • God answers our requests (Exodus 33:18-23)
  • Spending time with God changes us; it changes our countenance and our character. (Exodus 34:28-30)
  • There are always consequences for sin, and your sin will affect not only yourself, but your descendants. (Exodus 34:7)

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