Study It Out In God’s Word

Study It Out In God's WordWeek 19 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is drawing to a close. This week’s reading was Acts 16-20. These chapters speak of the ministry of the Apostle Paul.

Acts 17:10-12 speaks of the Berean Jews, declaring them to be of more noble character than those in Thessalonica.  They received Paul’s message eagerly, and studied the Scriptures daily to see if what he said was true. Many of them believed, as a result.

Like the Jews from Berea, it behooves us to take what others are telling us concerning God’s Word, and study it out for ourselves. It is vital that we have a firsthand knowledge of God’s Word, and base our beliefs upon what it says, rather than simply accepting every teaching we hear at face value.

What we believe about God – about who He is, and how we are to relate to Him – is very important. Our beliefs are the driving force that determines the course of our lives. They can be the difference between living a life of fear and defeat, and a life of freedom and victory. Considering this, it is of high importance that we spend time in the Word of God, which alone is truth (John 17:17), with the request to be given a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we might know Him better (Ephesians 1:17).

Rather than simply accepting everything we hear, let’s take what we are told, and study it in God’s Word for ourselves, allowing ourselves to be taught by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13). It is a privilege to be able to enter into relationship with our Heavenly Father. Let’s take time to invest in that relationship, getting to know Him better through the pages of His inspired Word (2 Timothy 3:16)!

Today Is The Day Of Salvation

Today Is The Day Of Salvation A while back, I was reading a book filled with stories of some of the most
well-known evangelists and missionaries in Christian history, when I came across a story that really gripped me. It was about an incident that took place during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Once when he was preaching, Dwight L. Moody concluded his sermon by telling the people to consider the question of what they would do with Jesus over the next week. In doing so, he refrained from issuing an immediate invitation to accept Jesus as Savior.

That very night, the Chicago fire started. The destruction was widespread. Over a hundred died, and thousands were left homeless. Dwight L. Moody deeply regretted putting off a call to receive salvation for an extra week. For the many who died as a result of the fire, time had suddenly run out.

This story clearly illustrates the importance of sharing the gospel with those God has placed within our reach, while we have the chance. 2 Corinthians 6:2 emphatically states that TODAY is the day of salvation. We can’t let hesitation over finding the exact right time and place, or fear of failure or of offending others, keep us from offering the hope that is found only in Christ to those who are desperately in need of Him.

In our modern culture of political correctness, few will step up to the plate and share the good news that many are perishing for lack of. What about you? Will you be one of those who, knowing what Christ has done in their own life, are unafraid and unashamed to share Him with those whose lives they are given an opportunity to touch?
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10 Worship Song Suggestions

10 Worship Song SuggestionsWednesday is “hump day” – the day we pass the midpoint of the typical five-day workweek, bringing thoughts of the weekend ahead. In need of a little encouragement as you finish off the week? Spend some time worshiping your Heavenly Father, refreshing yourself in His presence!

Here are ten worship song suggestions to choose from:

  1. Everlasting God by Fellowship Church
  2. No One Higher/The Stand by Fee
  3. Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone by Chris Tomlin
  4. Revelation Song by Kari Jobe
  5. Your Great Name by Natalie Grant
  6. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Hillsong
  7. Mighty To Save by Hillsong
  8. Shout Unto God by Hillsong United
  9. Glorious Day by Casting Crowns
  10. God Is Able by Hillsong Live

What is your favorite worship song? Which of the songs above do you like the best?

He Remembers Your Sins No More!

Hebrews 8:12

This week’s memory verse from Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is Hebrews 8:12. This verse states that to our iniquities, God will be merciful, and that our sins He will remember no more.

Under the old covenant, when you obeyed God’s commandments, blessings came upon you, but when you disobeyed, curses came upon you. Because of what Christ has done for us, however, a new covenant has been established, under which God is merciful to our unrighteousness. Because Christ took our punishment upon Himself, God, out of His mercy, not only refrains from giving us what we do deserve, but also, out of His grace, provides us with an abundance of blessings that we don’t deserve!

Because the price for our sins was paid in full at the cross, we have been totally forgiven in Christ. Not one of our sins remains undealt with. They have been completely erased – removed from us as far as the east is from the west
(Psalm 103:12). When God looks at us, He no longer sees our sins. In fact, He no longer even remembers them. That is how completely we have been forgiven!

Under the new covenant, God is merciful to our iniquities, not only refraining from giving us what we do deserve, but also giving us many good gifts that we don’t deserve. We have been forgiven of our every sin, to the point that God remembers them no more. Rejoice in the fact that there’s no longer anything standing between you and your Heavenly Father’s love and acceptance!

Who’s Your Mother?

Who's Your Mother?Yesterday was Mother’s Day – a day devoted to thanking our moms for all that they do for us, and letting them know how much we love them. In light of celebrating our mothers, here’s a question to consider: Who’s your mother?

In other words, God is your Heavenly Father, but are you His child through grace, or His child through the law? Upon which do you rely for salvation – your own good works, or what Christ has done? Do you feel that you must earn relationship with God, or have you come to the realization that it is a gift freely given to all who believe?

Galatians 4:21-31 addresses this issue. These verses explain that Abraham had children by two different women – Hagar, who was a slave, and Sarah, who was free, and was his true wife. It also explains that these two women represent two covenants (or ways of mankind relating to God). Those two covenants are the old covenant of the law, and the new covenant of grace.

Hagar, who is representative of the law, which was given at Mount Sinai, bears children who are to be slaves. In other words, when we base our relationship with God on our good works, and our attempts to keep all of the commandments recorded in His Word, we will end up feeling as if we were His slaves, instead of His children. We will always feel that He is demanding more of us than we are capable of, and will never be able to cease from our efforts long enough to simply enjoy His presence.

Sarah, who is representative of the new covenant of God’s grace, bears children born as a result of a divine promise, not by the keeping of the law. When we rely on God’s grace for our salvation, and relationship with Him, it becomes no longer about what we have done, but rather what Christ has done for us. Because it’s not about us and our performance, we can rest, knowing that we are God’s children, whom He dearly loves.

Galatians 4:31 states that we are children not of the slave woman (Hagar, who represents the old covenant of the law), but of the free woman (Sarah, who represents the new covenant of grace). God desires for us to rely not on the law for our right standing before Him, but rather on His grace. He wants us to feel not as if we are slaves to His demands, but rather children whom He cares for deeply. Therefore, I ask you – In your relationship with God, do you focus on your performance, or on His amazing grace? Are you living under the old covenant of the law, or the new covenant of grace? Who’s YOUR mother?

Saved and Forgiven Because of What Christ Has Done

Saved and Forgiven Because of What Christ Has DoneWeek 18 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is nearing its end. This week’s reading was Acts 11-15. These chapters speak mainly of Peter explaining his actions in preaching to the Gentiles to those who criticized him, the beginning of the Apostle Paul’s ministry, Peter being freed from prison by an angel, the council at Jerusalem regarding the Gentiles and the keeping of the law, the letter that was then sent to the Gentile believers by the council, and the further spreading of the gospel.

In Acts 15:5-11, some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees said that the Gentile believers should required to be circumcised, and keep the law. Peter asked those believers why they would test God by putting upon the Gentiles a yoke they neither they nor their ancestors had been able to bear. He then reaffirmed that is is through the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved. In Acts 13:38-39, while preaching in a synagogue, Paul stated that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed, and that those who believe are freed from every sin – a justification not available under the law.

These verses make it clear that we are saved by grace, not by keeping the law, and that it is through Christ that we are forgiven, with a forgiveness that wasn’t available under the domain of the law. The law, though it sets forth a standard of perfection, doesn’t help mankind to reach that standard. Rather, it is through the law that we come to recognize that we aren’t perfect, and never can be on our own, and that we need a Savior. It is in Christ alone, and through faith in Him, that we are made righteous, and enabled to enter into relationship with God. Always remember that it is because of what Christ has done for you that you are offered salvation, and the forgiveness of all of your sins!

Takeaways From Frozen

Takeaways From FrozenSince its release, Disney’s animated movie Frozen has become extremely popular. Many have enjoyed watching it, time and again. Remakes of the song “Let It Go” have been popping up all over. Tons of people have had fun laughing over the antics of Olaf, a snowman from the movie who is quite the character!

While watching the movie, I noticed that its storyline demonstrates some truths from God’s Word. Here is what I took away from Frozen

  • Elsa’s struggle with controlling her powers reminded me of Paul’s struggle with sin, spoken of in Romans 7:15-24.
  • When Elsa ran away to the mountain after everyone found out about her powers, and began to let them loose, she thought that she was finally free. In reality, she was still trapped in isolation. There are those who think true freedom is being able to live however they want. Just like Elsa wasn’t truly free until she learned that love was the answer to obtaining mastery over her powers, we aren’t truly free until we have allowed ourselves to be set free by the love of our Savior. True freedom is found in Christ alone!
  • The way that Anna would stop at nothing to help her sister break free of the isolation and fear she’d been living under for so long, eventually sacrificing herself to that end, reminded me of how Christ pursues us, and went even to the point of laying down His life for us.
  • When Elsa accidentally froze Anna’s heart, the troll said that only an act of true love could thaw a frozen heart. The act of true love that saved Anna was her risking her own life to save Elsa from being killed by the man who was trying to take over their kingdom. This reminded me of John 15:13, which says that no man has greater love than the laying down of their life for their friends. True love is self-sacrificial. That is the kind of love Anna showed to her sister, and that is the kind of love Christ has shown to us.
  • The love Anna showed to Elsa completely changed her. In the same way, it is the love of Christ that brings about true change in our lives.

This is what I took away from the movie Frozen. Have you seen the movie? What do you like best about it?

What Matters Most About Music

What Matters Most About MusicMusic is listened to and enjoyed by many each and every day. Most of us listen to many different songs on a daily basis. Because we listen to it so much, and so often, it’s very important that we show discernment in our choice of music – that we remain conscious of what’s going into our ears, and consequently, into our minds and hearts.

In the Christian world, there’s much controversy regarding the different styles of music. Some may feel that their music selection should remain limited to more traditional tunes that express their faith. Others may enjoy listening to more hardcore Christian artists. Some may venture into the secular music realm, while still others may feel that it’s best to stick exclusively to the Christian genre.

Despite our differing opinions, at the end of the day, what really matters about the songs we listen to is the message that they convey. Take a few minutes to peruse the lyrics of several of your favorite songs. What are the artists really saying? What are these songs about? Does the content of their lyrics line up with the kind of thing Philippians 4:8 says that we should be thinking about? If so, keep on listening. If not, you may want to rethink your music selections.

Also, while there are some secular songs that truly convey good, wholesome, worthwhile messages, there is still a difference between songs that exalt our Heavenly Father, and proclaim the good news of what Christ has done, and those that don’t. It’s like the difference between chips, soda, and popcorn vs. a good, hearty dinner of chicken and vegetables – one is simply more nourishing than the other. There’s just something more active and life-giving about music containing lyrics that encourage us in our relationship with God, that simply isn’t a part of songs written from the world’s perspective.

Next time you are listening to music, challenge yourself to focus on more than just a cool tune or a catchy beat. Pay attention to the lyrics, and consider whether the message they convey is something you want to be listening to. Begin to establish a habit of listening consistently to songs that will spur you on in growing closer to your Heavenly Father!

What song(s) have benefited you in your walk with God? Comment to share music that has encouraged you in your life as a believer!

What matters most about music . . .

10 Scriptures To Remember Throughout The Week

10 Scriptures To Remember Throughout The WeekAs we go about our daily lives, it is important to take time to remind ourselves of what God has to say to us in His Word. Here are 10 scriptures to keep in mind as you go about your week:

  1. Romans 8:31 – If God is for you, who can be against you?
  2. Psalm 5:12 – God’s favor surrounds you as with a shield.
  3. James 1:5 – If you lack wisdom, ask it of your Heavenly Father, who will give it to you liberally, and without reproach.
  4. Deuteronomy 31:6 – God will never leave nor forsake you.
  5. Proverbs 16:3 – Whatever you do, commit it to the Lord. Then your plans will succeed.
  6. Philippians 4:13 – You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.
  7. Ephesians 3:20 – You have a Heavenly Father who is able to exceedingly, abundantly more than you are able to ask or think.
  8. Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, present your requests to God.
  9. Philippians 4:19 – God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory.
  10. Matthew 7:7 – Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door be opened to you.

What is a scripture that encourages you?

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Reconciled To God Through Christ

2 Corinthians 5:18-19This week’s memory verse from Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. These verses tell us that we have been reconciled to our Heavenly Father through Christ, and that He has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

We have been reconciled to God through Christ. Though none of us are righteous (Romans 3:10) in and of ourselves, because of what our Savior has done for us, God can welcome us as His children. Though undeserved, He offers us salvation, and a place in His family as His dearly loved son or daughter, to be freely received as a gift of His grace – His unmerited favor. Christ paid the price at the cross in full for all of our sins, that we might be accepted by a holy God. It is through Him that we experience reconciliation with the Most High.

Not only have we been reconciled to God, but He has also given us the ministry of reconciliation. It is our privilege to be able to share with others the good news of reconciliation to God through Christ. We are to tell them that He no longer counts their sins against them, and that they can receive the forgiveness He offers through faith in Christ. This is the message of reconciliation with which we have been entrusted.

We have been reconciled to God, and given the ministry of reconciliation – the sharing of the good news of the gospel, which we have come to know for ourselves. Let’s never be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16), proclaiming it to all whose lives God gives us the opportunity to touch for His kingdom!