by Rebecca Livermore
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV).
Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. Athletics ( Click for more )
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ (Galatians 1:10 NKJV).
I'll admit it; I'm a people pleaser. I often seek affirmation. I want to know that people are happy with the work I do. I want to know that I'm valued and appreciated. Is that wrong? Is it wrong for me to want my boss to pat me on the back and say, "Good job!"?
To find the answer to this question, I decided to look at the meaning of the Greek word, aresko, which is translated in the above Scripture as "please." ( Click for more )
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NKJV).
I don't know about you, but I don't take pleasure in weakness. I want to be strong, healthy, and vibrant! I want to be someone who is admired for having it all together ( Click for more )
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor though man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead) (Galatians 1:1 NKJV).
Paul received his calling and title not from or through man, but through Jesus Christ. The same is true for each of us. Regardless of who you are, and regardless of how you feel about yourself, God has given you a gift and calling.
Our natural tendency is to look to men for affirmation of our value and to trust in what they can do for us. But it's important to realize that man cannot give you a gift or a call. That may be a bit ( Click for more )
But as you abound in everything -- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us -- see that you abound in this grace also (2 Corinthians 8:7 NKJV).
Consider the impressive list of areas in which the Corinthians were abounding: Faith Speech Knowledge Diligence Love for Paul and others
I would love to have such a list like that describe me! But when I look at the list, I find that I fall short. For instance, do I abound in faith? Well, I have some faith. Speech? A little. Knowledge? I'm still growing. ( Click for more )
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (1 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV). I've always heard it said, "When you see a 'therefore' in the Bible you need to ask 'What's it there for?'" The best way to do that is to read the preceeding verses. In this particular case, I needed to see what promises God had given that would assist believers to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of both flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Here's what I ( Click for more )
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5 NJKV). All Christians have a tendency to say that apart from God we can't do anything. We say it with our mouths, but unfortunately, our lives often tell a different story. I believe that a true test of our level of dependence on God can be found in how often we pray and lean on the Lord in our everyday actions and duties. Every time we head into our day or begin a significant task without stopping to pray, we demonstrate that we believe ( Click for more )
Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. Now Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place (1 Corinthians 2:2 NJKV). There were three main points in this passage of Scripture that stood out to me. First of all, the Lord is the one who opens doors for us. We need to be willing to take some initiative (for example, ( Click for more )
For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:9 NKJV).
Isn’t it exciting to think of a great AND effective door opening for you? Think about it! Are there things you dream of accomplishing, but it seems the door is closed? Maybe it seems as if there is no way for your dream to be accomplished and yet you dream it just the same. This verse gives us hope that not only will a great door open, but that it will be effective as well.
At times there are open doors that look like they will lead to success. But then ( Click for more )
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11 NIV).
I love starting new projects! Oh, the excitement and anticipation of what the finished project will look like! But often, after awhile, the excitement fades, especially if the project isn’t turning out like I expected, or if it’s harder or takes longer to complete than anticipated. The bottom line is that once it isn’t fun any more, it’s easy to quit.
Surely I’m not alone in this. I know many people who have tons of yarn, art supplies, or quilting ( Click for more )
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal, and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NJKV). Having grown up in the church and then moved around the country and world, ( Click for more )
Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke ( Click for more )
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs and goats.” (Isaiah 1:11 NKJV).
Many of us do “good” things in an attempt to win the favor of either God or man. Sacrifices, although noble in the eyes of man, can be a stench in the nostrils of God. Your journal is a great place to interact with the truth found in Isaiah 1:11-13.
Use your journal to explore the following: Write ( Click for more )
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though you sins are like scarlet, They shall be white as snow; Through they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:18-20).
Your journal is a great place to process the truth found in Isaiah 1:18-20. Use your journal to explore the following: What does it mean to reason with the Lord? Does it surprise ( Click for more )
Anger is a problem that most, if not all people, including Christians, struggle with on some level or another. Your journal is a great place to grapple with the truth found in Psalm 4:4 regarding the proper way to handle anger.
Use your journal to explore the following: Write about the things that make you angry. Is your anger righteous or is it a manifestation of your flesh? How can you tell? Write a plan for dealing with anger without sin. Write about how ( Click for more )
We all at times feel oppressed and overwhelmed. It can even seem that everyone is against us, and we might feel there is no help for us even in God. Your journal is a great place to interact with the truth found in Psalm 3.
Use your journal to explore the following: Write about the people who trouble you and are fighting against you (past or present). Write about anyone who makes you feel ( Click for more )
Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession (Psalm 2:8).
Inheritance is something most of us want but few of us have ever thought to ask God for the nations as our inheritance. Your journal is a great place to grapple with the truth found in Psalm 2:8.
Use your journal to explore the following: Have you ever gone on a missions trip? If so, write about it. If not, use your journal to explore the reason(s) you haven’t done so. Write about your prayer life as it relates to missions, missionaries, ( Click for more )
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil (Proverbs 1:33).
In this day and age, the fear of evil is very common. We've all been effected by the news of 9/11, school shootings, and crime and violence in our neighborhoods. Yet Scripture tells us that if we listen to God, we will dwell safely, be secure, and not fear evil. Your journal is a great place to interract with the truth found in Proverbs 1:33.
Use your journal to explore the following: How do you listen to God? Do you find it easy to hear Him, or difficult? ( Click for more )
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV).
Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous and the end result of living an ungodly life. Your journal is a great place to explore where you are on this journey. Use your journal to explore the following: Are you currently receiving ungodly counsel or associating in an intimate way with unbelievers? What has been the result ( Click for more )
So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners (Proverbs 1:19).
Is money something you think of and worry about regularly?
Your journal is a great place to interract with the truth found in Proverbs 1:19.
Use your journal to explore the following: Write about your relationship with money. Does your money control you, or do you control your money? Do you think that more money will make you happy? How do you feel about giving? Are you committed to it, or do you do it only on occasion? How do you reconcile ( Click for more )
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