Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

In the Dark.

"Therefore, our livestock too shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the LORD our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the LORD.
Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life."

There is no question. There are times in your life when you definitely walk in a dark place, and don't know where you are going. Sometimes this path leads to nearly infinite blessing. Other times, you really don't know why you are, or were, there, and sometimes, it's truly the "valley of the shadow of death."  However, you can always know that your path leads upward toward God and heaven, if you follow Jesus Christ--He is the "resurrection and the life, and the one who believes in Him, even though he dies, shall live [forever with Him]." In addition, He has promised to light your way, so that you don't get lost, because He is the "light of life." The scriptures provide light as well: "your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." When the way is dark, follow Him. If you don't know where He's going, and you are in a quandary (big word for confused), trust in the Lord, and keep walking. As long as He gives you no different direction, you are fine. He is guiding you, even if you don't feel His touch or His presence. Just look for Him when He shows up, and you'll be absolutely OK. But don't stop following. That's when disaster occurs. And if you DID stop, start again.  He'll light your way from whenever and wherever you start, and your path, confused before, will be lighted again, just for you.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pray and Read your Bible

"You have not because you ask not...Until now you have asked nothing in my [Jesus'] name; ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full...In everything...let your requests be made known to God...all the promises of God are in Him [Jesus] 'Yes,' and 'Amen.' Pray without ceasing [in other words, discuss your life with God. talk to Him as a friend]. [Moses] talked with God face to face, as a man does with his friend. When you pray, don't use empty repetition, for your Father [in heaven] knows what you need before you ask."

Didn't I just write about this? No. I wrote about reading your Bible.  This one is about prayer. Prayer and Bible reading go hand in hand, and both empower and beautify the spiritual life. Prayer is just as important as Bible reading, and in some ways more so, because it's you acknowledging you need Him, and opening the line of communication with Him on your side.
Prayer is asking--and then receiving.  If I pray, I am asking for something. That's the literal meaning of the word. So when you need something, ask. God is there to hear you, and He wants to answer you.  Strange, isn't it? He's not like someone you just met, who looks at you as one often looks at a homeless person begging for money or food--He's your "Father in Heaven." When you pray, you fulfill a definite command, because He [Jesus] tells you to say things like, "Give us this day our daily bread;" and, "Deliver us from evil." Prayers, though, are usually more specific than that--"Lord, I can't afford these glasses for my son--HELP!!." They can be that short.  You don't have to tell God all about the world, how wonderful He is, and how much you love to worship Him each time you pray. There's room for that, and you should do it , but not each time you pray, like it's a preface to what you really want.  When you come to Him asking for something, you should ask. Otherwise, you sound like the child who comes to you, saying "Mom (Dad), you're really nice to me, and I really love you...can I have a new bike?"  Sometimes this "prefacing" gets so lengthy that Mom and Dad stop the youngster, and say, "All right--what do you want?" I am sure that is how God sometimes feels about us, since he already knows the things we need before we ask Him. He commands us to ask, however, so we should always keep in touch (every day, every hour, every few minutes), and discuss things with Him, much as you would an earthly Father or best friend.  I know I used to call my Dad for advice when I needed it.  You can talk to Him just like that. God loves self-reliance, but he doesn't love pigheadedness, so ask when you need help, advice, direction, a miracle...He does all that for His children.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Read your Bible and Pray

"Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light for my path...Blessed is the man...[whose] delight is in the [word] of the LORD...I will meditate in your statutes...your commands are always with me, and make me wiser than my enemies...I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate in your [word]...study to show yourself approved to God, a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth...from your childhood, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation...The Bereans were more noble than the people of Thessalonica, because they searched the Scriptures daily..."
The Bible is a huge part of the strength of your spiritual life.  Reading it is immensely important. Meditating on it (thinking about its implications) may be even more important.  Many of my friends read devotional books (that's good!) Many of my friends go to Bible studies (that's good!), many attend church regularly (that's good, too!), but the strongest among them spiritually are always those who read their Bibles every day, and meditate on the words they find in them. This is really a plea.  Read your Bible every day.  You can gain more strength in 5 minutes of Bible reading than you can in a whole week of listening to sermons.  "I don't understand the Bible," you say.  No, you can't understand it all. Nobody does. The Bible is full of mystery, it was written in a different culture, and in an unfamiliar language, then translated for us.  However, much of it is universal, and in much of it is something you can use for your life today.  It's like finding fruit on a tree.  You have to learn to ignore the leaves.  You may find a use for them later, but when you are first starting (even if you've believed for many years), you need to focus on whatever means something to you.  Here are some recommendations for your 5 minutes with God, just listening to what He has to say to you in the Bible.
Here are some sections of the Bible that are easier to learn, and have special meaning:
Psalms.
Proverbs.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
Acts.
The stories (Genesis, parts of Exodus, the books of Samuel and Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, Daniel (some of it is very mysterious).
Skip the hard stuff.  You can come back to it later if you want.  For now, go with the parts you can understand, and there are lots of those. 
If you can't understand the Bible you have, get one you can understand. Just go to a bookstore and look at them.  
The thing is, God wants to talk to you, if you want to listen. A large part of listening is spending some time with the Bible.  
A few years back, I gave a Bible to a co-worker. She really wanted it.  However, she wanted it as a possession, not as something she read.  I didn't mind the gift, but she never read it, so it was really a useless possession and did her no good. That's what the Bible is to you, if all you do is look at the cover from time to time, and carry it with you to church.
5 minutes.  Just 5 minutes. Only 5 minutes. 5 minutes. You can do this!! Read your Bible and Pray.  Listen to God. Talk to God.  He wants to talk to you.  If you will do this, your life will change more than if you listen to a hundred years of sermons. Sermons are men (sometimes women) talking about God to you.  God wants to talk to you direct.  He wants to speak to you.  
"Speak, Lord, for your servant hears" was what Samuel the prophet said when he first heard God's voice. You do the same, and God WILL speak to you.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Understanding God...

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out your law.
Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. — It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. — I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight. — We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. — How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand. — O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counsellor? For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

It is always and only the gift of the Spirit of God to understand the things of God.  While many people point to the Bible (the Word) as the source of truth, the reality is that GOD is its source, and unless God speaks to you personally, you will not understand, because God is always understood by revelation. On the other hand, if you want to know Him, He is free with His gifts of understanding, and He Himself will walk with you and teach you.  See 1 Cor. 2:11-13 (NIV): "no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God...We have... received the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us." God's truth comes to you because He speaks to you through His Spirit. Christians are always admonished to "Study the Word" (the Bible)--and so you should, but true understanding comes because God reveals Himself to you personally. It is the "unfolding" of His Word that gives light to the soul, and He is the only one who can do that. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to see, and always be open to what He says to you.  He speaks to the open heart. As Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Open yourself to Him and His truth, and you will have those "ears to hear."

PSA. 119:18. Luke 24:45. -Matt. 13:11. -Matt. 11:25,26. -I Cor. 2:12. ‑Psa. 139:17,18. -Rom. 11:33,34,36.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Damaged? Broken? God has a plan

A bruised reed shall he not break.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. — He heals the heartbroken, and binds up their wounds. — Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place; I dwell also with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always angry: for the spirit and souls which I have made would fail before me.
I will seek what was lost, and bring again what was driven away, and I will bind up what was broken, and  I will strengthen what was sick. — Therefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest what is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. — Behold, your God ... will come and save you.

When your heart is broken, God is with you. For your part, you must seek Him where you are, in your sadness and misery, and reach out for His hand, which is always ready to lift you up. You can be assured that when you are at your most vulnerable, God is waiting with arms outstretched, to hold you to Himself and show you His love. If your spirit is broken, and you are sorry for  the things you've done wrong, God is on your side; He's with you, not against you, and He is ready to "revive your heart." If other people are the cause of your misery, God is ready to heal you. He is seeking you now, wherever you may be--in the mountains, in the depths of the sea, invisible to everyone else--He knows right where you are, and is even now reaching out with His hand to help you.  All you have to do is reach out for Him.  Don't push Him away.  Let His strong arms support you, His strong hands find you.  
And
Just as someone who is in physical therapy must decide to walk again, to regain the use of his body, to strengthen himself, so must you, of your spirit.  Strengthen yourself, decide to be strong, and HIS strength will pour into you.


MATT. 12:20. Psa. 51:17. ‑Psa. 147:3. ‑Isa. 57:15,16. Ezek. 34:16. ‑Heb. 12:12,13. ‑Isa. 35:4.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lord, you have searched me, and known me

The Lord ponders the hearts.
The Lord knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. — The Lord will show who are his, and who is holy. — Your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. — There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.
Lord, all my desire is before you; and my groaning is not hid from you. — When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then you knew my path. — He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are his. And, let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

We can be sure that God knows us. In fact, "in Him we live, and move, and have our being."  He is always present, never absent.  It is both a wonderful and terrible reality that He is right here with us all the time.  He sees, and He's present.  This can give great comfort in times of distress.  You think the Lord doesn't understand your pain, your grief, your struggles?  Wrong.  Not only does He see and know, He sees "inside"--"Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart" and, "Everything is naked and opened in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do..." So when someone else declares you to be evil, and your motives wrong, God knows. With Him is the final judgment, when the secrets of  your heart will be revealed, and "every man shall have praise from God."  The most fascinating thing is that God knows the "hidden things"--things we keep from everyone, and He loves us anyway.  If you are in a Bible-reading mood, read Psalm 139 sometime today.  It will help you greatly.  Psalm 139 reveals God's knowledge of your every circumstance, and His interest in all parts of your life.  So whatever He knows, His point is not blackmail.  It's grace and goodness, and the desire that you be filled with His life and power.

PROV. 21:2. Psa. 1:6. ‑Num. 16:5. -Matt. 6:4. Psa. 139:23,24. ‑I John 4:18. Psa. 38:9. ‑Psa. 142:3. ‑Rom. 8:27. II Tim. 2:19.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stronger...and Stronger

Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
When I am weak, then I am strong. — God shall be my strength. — He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. — Let him take hold of my strength.
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain you. — The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.
I will not let go of you, unless you bless me.
You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. — Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me: fight against those who fight against me. Take your armor and shield, and stand up for my help.

When we seek strength from God, we always seek it in the right place.  He adds just enough strength so that we must also put forth our own efforts, for God is not one to undermine our self-reliance.  That's why He usually offers up strength AFTER we have exhausted our own resources, so that we will not get lazy: Deut. 32: 36: "For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone... and why He always counsels us, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you..." Paul had to walk and travel by boat to reach his destinations; he had to prepare his sermons; he had to work with his hands to provide the money necessary to support his own ministry--yet when he preached, the mighty power of God was with him, and many lives were blessed and transformed, and great miracles occurred. It's always like this. We must do the little we can, and that prepares the way for Him to work. For that reason, always use your main strength when you are serving Him; always give full attention to your spiritual life; always work, always pray, always believe, in every circumstance and with all your might. He will work, and add power to your labors. You do NOT lack strength, even if you are weak as a kitten; He WILL add His might to your weakness, and together with Him, you are mighty, even if you feel powerless.  There is never a circumstance where you "cannot." Is. 40:29: "He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power." God calls you to act, but He works in you, "both to will and to act..."

ISA. 40:31. II Cor. 12:10. ‑Isa. 49:5. -II Cor. 12:9. -Isa. 27:5. Psa. 55:22. ‑Gen. 49:24. Gen. 32:26. I Sam. 17:45. -Psa. 35:1,2.