This past Sunday, we discussed God’s law. When the Bible references God’s law, it is generally pointing towards the first five books of the Old Testament (also referred to as the Pentateuch or the Torah). We are often encouraged to meditate on God’s law and to delight in it. You probably don’t often “delight” in the laws of the land, such as traffic laws, but you likely understand the reason they are put in place. In the same way these traffic laws are in place for everyone’s safety, God’s laws should be looked at as guidelines which are in place to protect us.
In the New Testament, we have a few interesting references to God’s law. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus was referring to the Biblical prophets whose writings would have been well known to anybody with religious upbringing. So, He is saying that we fulfill the laws of the Old Testament and the prophecies written by simply doing to others what we would expect them to do to us. Obviously, there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s a great start.
In Paul’s writings, we read Galatians 5:22-23 that, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” When we walk in the Spirit, we automatic fulfill God’s law.
I will conclude with another great point which the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:22-23. “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Paul often discusses this idea of the law bringing slavery when we fall short of God’s requirements and feel imprisoned with guilt and shame. Instead, we should delight in the law as it exposes our sin and guides us back to right relationship with God. In short, understanding God’s law should release you from the anxiety of fulfilling the law.
God is very creative! We see this in the first scripture of the Bible where Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (NIV)
In Acts chapters one and two, we see the Holy Spirit come upon the disciples and they go out into the world. People who witnessed this were shocked and amazed (see Acts 2:12). This is because the power of the Holy Spirit was residing in the disciples. The actual Greek word is “Dynamis (G1410),” which means, “power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.” We have that same power residing in us because, as Christians, the Holy Spirit resides in us (see Romans 8:11).
In a more practical way, we see God enable His people in Exodus 35 to be artistic in designing and building things. Maybe you have a talent or ability and God wants to use you to bless others with that!
All this month, I want to encourage you to pray for God’s power to guide you and for you to try using your talents for God. If you don’t practice using your talents, you’ll never know what you can or cannot do! I believe that, when others see us doing it, they will be inspired too. It’s easy to be used by God because He wants it more than we do!
We see an interesting comparison between the lives of Judas and Peter. They both followed Jesus and knew Him personally. They both betrayed Him. Yet the stories end very differently. Judas realized he sinned and kind of tried to make it right by returning the silver but still took matters into his own hands instead of forgiving himself and moving on. Peter, on the other hand, wept after he realized his sin but continued serving God; and the resurrected Jesus restored him!
Do not let your mistakes define you! You can always, always repent and turn back to God and be used by Him again! That is the beauty of grace and forgiveness!
When you think of King David who famously defeated Goliath and wrote most of the Psalms, it is easy to forget the terrible sins he committed with Bathsheba and having her husband killed (recorded in 2 Samuel 11). Fortunately, he had a friend named Nathan who confronted him about this and he repented. Psalm 51 is where David repented of this. Three things that stand out to me in this prayer of repentance are:
- that he understood his sin was against God alone (verses 1-4)
- he seems to forgive himself as he asks God to restore his joy (verse 13)
- he asks God to help him use this to help others (verse 14)
Not long after this, we see David extending kindness where many would agree that he had the right to deliver vengeance (for further reading, look up 19-Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai). Did you know that Goliath wasn’t the only giant? David and his army went on to defeat Goliath’s son and three brothers (2 Samuel 21:15-22)!
David did not let his failure and sin define his future!!!
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the sower. In this story, He talks largely about making sure that the soil is prepared to receive the seed. If we are going to reach our friends and family for Jesus, we must pray beforehand that God prepares their heart. There are many simple ways to start a spiritual discussion without being pushy or offensive. Here are some things to remember:
HOW TO BE A WITNESS FOR JESUS
- It starts with awareness (is not simply incidental)
- Good conversation starts with good questions (and good listening). (Remember what they say and bring that up in the next conversation to show you’re listening.)
- Do not lecture, label, or manipulate
- ANY positive conversation is a “link in the chain” (Witnessing does not have to always be a conversation about Jesus.)
- Be cautious of “silence or violence” (This means that they are shutting us out or getting overly upset.)
- Sometimes we have to agree to disagree
- Ask “Can I pray with you?” (You can always ask this question as it’s not offensive but we have to be ok with them saying no.)
- The Bible is your source book! SOAK IT UP
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This past Sunday, we finished the series “Your Brain is Playing Games on You.”
In light of Halloween, I spoke about fear. Fear generally comes from a place of a lack of understanding. In Joshua chapter one, we see a story about Joshua taking on the task of finishing the job of Moses (who had recently died). In God’s opening statement (1:9), He says to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I can only imagine walking beside Moses all that time and watching God doing those amazing miracles through him. I cannot imagine what Joshua felt like knowing that God is now going to be doing those things through him. Talk about big shoes to fill!! We must remember God’s promise and learn to trust Him.
The video we watched (Brain Games, season 3, Trust) reminded us that our brains are actually hardwired to trust. Our amygdala is constantly working to evaluate if we should fear or trust a situation. Due to the way our brain works, there is a constant conflict in us between trust and logic.
Isaiah 26:4 encourages us to, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
It is important for us to know God’s word well enough that the logic side of our brain is encouraged by the trust side and we learn that we can trust our perfect God even in an imperfect situation. This will give us strength in those times where we are fearful.
I have to tell you a story about a girl whom I have the pleasure of helping at work. She is regularly struggling with her health and is often in and out of the hospital. However, her faith always remains firm and she is very faithful to the Sunday services…until recently. I had not seen her in a few weeks (which is very rare). I had tried to get a hold of her and had even knocked on her door to no avail.
This past Sunday I encouraged the volunteers to pray with me and simply ask God to work on the hearts of our residents. The service starts at 2 pm, and we began praying at 1:45 (you will see the relevance if you keep reading). We literally asked God to “wake up any residents who are sleeping and call them in.”
Towards the end of our prayer time, the girl rolled up in her wheel chair to pray with us. She then said this: “It was the weirdest thing, I was asleep and woke up suddenly at 1:45! I started to think about how much church I have been missing and realized that I haven’t even read my Bible or prayed lately. I realized that I had to come to church.”
Friends, James 5 tells us that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Ask God to wake you up today and recognize what He is calling you to do, for whom He is calling you to intercede, and where He wants you to go!