Since I was first saved, I knew the Bible was authoritative. I had no doubt of the sufficiency of God’s Word. I knew that the Bible was and is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. I knew and still know all of this, yet, along the way, I was catching myself looking for more. I wanted to hear God speak to me the way I believed He was speaking to other people. I wanted to experience and see His wonders performed in the church world.
Let me make it clear that God is more than able to do wonders beyond our imaginations. The problem is that I was getting my eyes on the spectacular rather than the God of the spectacular. I am not alone. Many people are doing it. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time and even Herod wanted to see miracles. While Jesus certainly provided these as proof of His identity, He came for so much more. He came to live and die so we could live eternally.
Here are my thoughts about why God’s word is enough.
We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight
Both Habakkuk 2:4 and Hebrews 10:38 state that the just will live by faith. In Hebrews 11, God’s people walked by faith. Yes, they saw moves of God, but mostly, they walked by faith as they endured trials. Certainly, what I am saying will not give you chill bumps. It will not make you shout, but what I am saying is true, nonetheless. Take what I am saying in balance. Yes, God can and does perform the miraculous. There is nothing wrong with being moved with emotion when we praise and worship Him. It is when our desire for emotional highs exceed the parameters of scripture that we get in trouble. It is a fleshly fascination with experience that tempts us to go outside of scripture looking for the things of God.
God Speaks Through His Word
I am not suggesting that God does not give us wisdom to guide us in our daily lives, but we must be students of the Word before we can receive that wisdom. His wisdom is divine, and there is nothing fleshly nor flashy about it. Sometimes, even as saved people, we trip over the simplicity of the gospel. God’s ways are above us, but what He commands us to do is not. Yes, we can do nothing without Him, but in Him, we have all we need for life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). Hebrews 1:1-2 states the following: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” In John 1, Jesus is referred to as the Word, and today we have what He spoke in written form. There are 66 books of words that He has given to us. I doubt that any of us have mastered it so why do we believe the Word is not enough?
Need a Word?
While God uses other people to encourage us and exhort us, these people are not a replacement for our own private study. The chill bumps and other spectacular phenomena you experience will not take you as far as scripture will . I have found in my own life that when I was in my darkest valleys, it was scripture that sustained me. It was Bible verses I remembered that brought strength and encouragement.
Stop waiting on someone to give you a Word. Get in God’s word and get yourself a word. The supply is abundant. You can find correction, instruction, encouragement, joy, and so much more. Friends, the word of God is enough.
America’s fate is in the balance. The upcoming election is more than just a General Election. It is a day in which the nation’s entire destiny could be changed and not necessarily for the better. The candidates could not be more opposite in views and goals.
As Christians, we know that America is not our God. The President is certainly not our Lord and Savior. I will keep serving the Lord no matter who is in office, but scripture is clear about government. God sets up kings and dethrones them according to Daniel 2:21. We are told to pray for our leaders (see 1 Timothy 2:2). In other words, we have a responsibility.
VOTING IS A PRIVILEGE
Let’s face it. During the times the scriptures were written, leaders were not elected. We have an advantage that many do not. As Christians, we must vote and vote responsibly. While we certainly are unable to control the outcome, we must do our part.
Staying home and avoiding the polls is not an option. Do your research. Find out how the candidates have voted on bills that are brought before them. Find out how they stand on issues such as abortion, traditional marriage, foreign relations, and so much more.
Stop believing the Mainstream Media
Unfortunately, the media is not your friend. They have been reporting in a most biased manner for years. Various news stations would have you to believe that evil is good and good is evil. The Word of God has something to say about this. Isaiah 5:20 states the following: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
For more fair reporting, take a look at some of the less popular news sites. Do your own research, and when you do, avoid believing the first headline that pops up in your google search. Scroll further and look at the issue from different angles.
MAke a prayerful choice
Our current President is by no means a perfect man. I have disagreed with his words and actions on many occasions. What I do observe is the way he deals with issues. The left wing party is not interested in protecting your freedoms. They want to stifle your free speech. The only exception is if you agree with them.
The left wing is adamant about abortion rights rather than the rights of the unborn. The traditional family is being torn away which is what they want, but it is the opposite of God’s will. Of course, you do not have to take my word for it. Look around you. Look through the eyes of Christ. While Christ would not have been affiliated with a political party, He would have given a strong rebuke to the liberal left for the attacks against what God has deemed sacred. Certainly, He would have had some rebukes for the right wing as well.
When the Republicans make a decision with which I disagree, I voice it. My voice seems to speak more loudly against the Democrat party because their wrongs are a bit more obvious than the Republican. However, both parties have been guilty of wrongdoing. We must let our voices be heard in speaking against wrongdoing, but we must still vote.
We are citizens of a heavenly city, but we still must occupy here until Christ returns. In the meantime, we must live for Christ and refuse to compromise with the world system. If this post has convicted you, good! Do something about it. Go before God and intercede for this nation, then, ask Him to guide you as to how to cast your ballot. He will not lead you in the wrong direction.
The following is a portion of a booklet I wrote entitled Are You Ready for Transformation?
Repairing the Breach
Once you begin to recognize destructive thought patterns, you have to begin to repair the place in which they entered your mind. If a breach occurs in a dam, water can begin leaking out, or the dam could break down which would be detrimental to those in its path. It is the same with your mind. If you do not repair the spiritual door or wall of your mind, the destructive thoughts will continue to gain access. Repairing the breach is what will begin to bring about permanent solutions.
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a breach is a violation. When demonic forces sense a weak spot, they will pounce with all their might to gain access. What we entertain as far as movies, television shows, books, and conversations have the potential to weaken our spiritual walls which can eventually cause a breech. This gives easy access to demonic forces to play games with your mind.
The following quote is from Kelly Minter and her Bible study on the book of Nehemiah: “Have you ever wondered if ‘mindless entertainment’ might be a wide-open gate in your life by which many hurtful and deceiving ideas are sliding straight into your thinking? What about the friendships you keep, the magazines you read, the conversations in which you choose to engage? Are your doors open to the uplifting, truth-telling, and life-giving, or to what corrodes your soul? All day long we choose what goes in and out of our hearts and minds, and if you’re like me there are some doors, bars, and bolts that need tightening.”
When I went through the portion of that study, I was convicted. We are not going to be perfect, but there are certain entertainment such as conversations, movies, and reading material that we need to avoid if they continually cause a problem. On the other hand, there might be some entertainment in which we should take part if it brings life to our hearts and minds.
Now is the time to insert one of my disclaimers. I am not saying that you should not watch television or read books. There are television shows and movies that I greatly enjoy. I am simply saying that if it breaks down walls in my thinking and brings ungodly thinking, then I need to find another type of entertainment.
Our conversations with others are a part of our “entertainment”. When a friend or acquaintance gives you the “low-down” on someone else, you will begin to entertain negative thoughts about that person even if you do not know her. That is why the Bible gives instruction as to the types of conversations that we should, or should not, be taking part in.
Let me say that when these thoughts invade, you can and should take them captive and renew your mind; however, renewing the mind might not be such hard work if we refuse to allow certain things into our minds beforehand. Sometimes, it will mean changing the subject in a conversation, or turning off the television if needed.
You might be thinking that I sound extreme at this point. If your thought life is in extreme trouble, it will take extreme measures to break free. Remember, in most cases, you did not get into the mess in your mind overnight. It happened over time. It is the same with taking your thoughts captive and renewing the mind, it will take time. It will also take time to survey the walls of your mind to find places that need repair. It took Nehemiah the exiles time to survey the walls of Jerusalem to determine what types of repair would be needed and where. Allow yourself to utilize the grace God has given you. Philippians 1:6 reminds us that the work God has begun in us will be completed. Some jobs take time to complete, particularly if you want the work to be thorough and complete. You cannot afford to leave breaches in the walls of your mind. You must guard what you are allowing in your mind. Even in doing this, there will be things come through our walls that are not godly. We are only human. It is then that we hold the thought up to the light of God’s word and allow it no further entrance if we determine it is not what we need.
At this point, I feel the need to warn you about stubbornness. There are times when stubbornness can be a good quality to have if one is taking a stand for what is good. However, stubbornness as a refusal to change a negative behavior is dangerous. Refusing to take thoughts captive and refusing to take care as to what you will allow into your mind will be detrimental to you.
Repentance is the cure for stubbornness. By turning to God in repentance for ungodly thinking patterns that we have allowed to become strongholds, we invite freedom. We are allowing God to come in and help us repair the walls of our minds which will lead us to victory.
James MacDonald had a Bible study entitled Think Differently. He addresses the issue of stubbornness. An example of stubbornness is thinking or even saying that you can repent when you are good and ready. Some people want to hold on to their sin because it brings a sense of comfort. Refusing to repent when God is dealing with you is dangerous! Yield to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. There is such peace and joy that results from repentance.
In many churches today, the word “repent” is almost considered a by-word. God is saddened by this because it puts up a dangerous wall between Him and His people. Strongholds of destructive thinking patterns will result in destructive behavior. The results of destructive behavior are a ruined life. Sadly, these results can spill over into the lives of others. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you to allow Him to work on a destructive thought pattern, behavior, or both, yield to that conviction. You have nothing to lose but your chains.
There are some people in the bible who refused to repent when given the opportunity. As a result, they suffered dire consequences. Cain, the son of Adam, was one of these people. In Genesis 4:7, the Lord assures Cain that he will be accepted if he does what is right. Another example is Esau, the son of Isaac. Esau was at odds with his brother, Jacob, from childhood. Sibling rivalry can be ugly. Esau allowed his fleshly appetite to cause him to sell his birthright to Jacob (see Genesis 25). Yielding to our fleshly desires rather than to the Holy Spirit will cause us to reap unwanted results. We might shake our heads in disbelief at Esau’s foolishness, but we are guilty as well. When we decide to listen to the latest gossip, we are selling our peace. When we are entertained by people who blaspheme God’s name, we are forfeiting what we have with God for something that is temporary. Let’s learn from these examples. Certainly, we will not be perfect, but we can be more mindful toward the eternal.
Before closing this chapter, I must address another type of situation. Often, destructive thinking patterns form as a result of abuse suffered at the hands of another person, or, by someone who has offended or hurt us in some way. If you have suffered abuse, I urge you right now to seek godly counsel. For those of us who might struggle with other types of offense, we must take captive thoughts of bitterness and lack of forgiveness. In our minds, we must choose to forgive our offenders. The process might have to be repeated a number of times. Forgiveness does not mean that your offender was right in harming you. It simply released you from bondage and puts the situation in God’s hands for Him to deal with. Trust me, He can deal with others much better than we can.
The following are scriptures that relate to what we have discussed in this chapter:
Acts 3:19, “Therefore, repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is any praise, think on these things.”
Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 3:2 (NKJV), “Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth.”
The entire Colossians study, The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ, is now available on Amazon. I was blessed to be able to complete the study while being home from school since March. I pray that you are blessed as you complete it.
To purchase the Bible study book, click here. The video sessions are free and available here.
Our thoughts matter. While I cannot control every thought that comes into my mind, I do not have to entertain it. I can choose to entertain it, or, I can choose to refuse it entry to the gate of my mind. You have the same choice.
I am not promoting a mystical, new age experience. What I am presenting to you is a Biblical practice. Controlling my thought life is part of allowing my old nature to die and my new nature in Christ to come alive (Romans 6 and Romans 12:2).
Guard Your Thoughts
1 Peter 1:13 instructs me to gird up the loins of my mind. In other words, guard my thinking. The verse continues instructing me to be sober. In this case, sobriety is not just an absence of alcohol, but it is being alert. You and I must be alert to the type of thinking we entertain.
For example, I can be convinced that a friend is upset with me because she has not called or texted in a few days. My mind can roll back through conversations that I had with her when we last spoke. I can convince myself that she has misunderstood something I have said or done. At this point, I have a choice. Either I can continue the irrational thinking that leads to illogical conclusions, or, I can call or text her to see if she is okay.
What if she is upset with me? Even if she is angry at me, entertaining the worst possible scenario only leads to torment which is the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit the Holy Spirit brings is peace (Galatians 5:22-23). Continuing on a path of this type of thinking leads to confusion, and God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Checking on my friend through a visit, call, or text message is the best approach.
Thoughts Determine Actions
A cold-blooded murderer does not simply wake up one morning and decide to take a life with no thought beforehand of the deed. He or she has devised and calculated a plan. Time has been taken for careful preparation.
A person having an extra-marital affair does not suddenly cheat on his or her spouse with no sign of trouble. Thinking about how much better life would be with someone else, magnifying one’s faults, and other thought patterns lead to acts such as these.
Taking ungodly thoughts captive at the onset will prevent much heartache later. Unbelievers do not know to practice this biblical concept, but believers should know what to do. Do not allow such thoughts to take hold. Take them captive and replace them with biblical thinking as soon as possible. If needed, seek help from a trusted Christian friend or pastor.
You Have a Choice
If you notice that you are out of sorts or that your attitude is horrible, it is always a good idea to assess your thinking. What has been on your mind? What occupies your thinking? How do you feel when you entertain this type of thinking? Asking these questions can give you a quick answer as to the reason for most negative attitudes.
Certainly, I am not suggesting that changing your thinking will bring everything you want in life, I am suggesting that allowing God control of your thought life can change your attitude and outlook on life. Changing the way you think, if that change is needed, can change relationships. You can develop more peace of mind and joy in the Holy Spirit by refusing to give just any thought access beyond the gate of your mind.
Several of my blog posts have been portions of the Bible study I have written on the book of Colossians. The first week of the study has been distributed throughout several of my posts. Beginning Monday, August 3, I will be leading a study on the book of Colossians. The study will last for seven weeks and will take place in a Facebook group.
The study is free. A PDF copy of the entire study will be posted in the group as well as weekly videos. There will be occasional, optional video chats.
If you are interested in joining me for this study, click here.
“Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit,” Colossians 1:8, KJV.
(If you are working on writing out the book of Colossians, today might be a good day to write out verse 8. If you are behind on your writing, do not fret. Simply catch up when time allows. This is not a legalistic exercise but rather a fun challenge.)
On Day 4, we discussed Epaphras and his faithfulness as a servant of Jesus Christ. Verse 8 above continues on to say that Epaphras had told Paul and others about the love those of the Colossian church demonstrated. How did this love come about? The Spirit of God!
Romans 5 states that the Holy Spirit pours out the love of God in us. Incidentally, Galatians 5:22 states that the fruit of the Spirit is love. We know we belong to Christ if we have love for one another. That is not to say that we will not waver in our love walk. I have many times, but if we truly love God, we will make the sacrificial choice to walk in love with others despite any ill feelings we might have. This is not hypocrisy! Choosing to do what is right despite what you feel is walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
What does Romans 15:30 state that the love of the Holy Spirit will cause one to do? What did Paul ask the Romans to do?
If you are having trouble demonstrating love to someone, begin to pray for them. I am not suggesting a God bless so and so prayer, or a “bring down fire from heaven” prayer. I am talking about a true prayer of love and concern for the well-being of the individual in question. Of course, I realize it will be a challenge in the beginning, but after a period of time, you will begin to see your irritating person in a different light, the light of God’s love.
What does Proverbs 10:12 state that love does with offenses?
Friends, when we seek to expose the sins of others with malicious intent, our hearts are far from the place they should be in the Lord. Proverbs is not suggesting that we ignore sin when it keeps occurring, but we can put those offenses under the blood of Jesus. In doing so, we are trusting the sovereignty of God to deal with negative behavior while we refuse to let that same behavior control us. Rather, we are choosing to be led by the Spirit of God because we are reminded in Romans 8:14 that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.
We talked about love on Day 3, but we did not delve into the subject too deeply. Today, I am attempting to become more in-depth although I will never give it the attention it deserves.
No love lesson is complete without 1 Corinthians 13. Turn there now and read verses 1-8. Write some of love’s attributes below.
When we walk in the love of God, we will seek the interests of others rather than our own. Why? We have a love for others because God has planted it in our spirits. We also are secure in God. We know that He will take care of us. Since we can trust God with our welfare, we are freed up to look out for others. What freedom! We can rejoice in that! Do you realize what a weight is lifted when you stop worrying about yourself?
There is not even a hint of self-righteousness as I write this. Not that I have not experienced my share of that ugly sin, but I know what it is to struggle with demonstrating love to someone who has exhausted your patience. The Holy Spirit will give you the grace to extend even more grace to the one annoying you. He knows when to extend mercy, and He knows when it is time to speak the truth in love.
Yes, love and truth go hand-in-hand. Often, love is speaking unpleasant truth to someone. We might have to be straight-forward and tell someone that his or her actions are causing others pain. We might have to put some distance between ourselves and someone else.
You might be asking how that could be love. I can say that it is when distancing is done by the leading of the Holy Spirit. When I distance in the flesh, it only brings harm to others or myself. When the Holy Spirit tells you to put some distance between yourself and someone else, it is for the protection of both parties.
Sometimes, love requires correction to be given. If it is done in love, you will get no enjoyment from it. We live in a culture that is adamant in avoiding offense. While I am not suggesting that we purposely offend others, I am stating that we have to stop the facade of being politically correct, in a manner of speaking.
People are often tempted to sweep the truth under the rug to keep the peace. When we avoid the truth to keep from being offensive, we are not walking in love. It is the act of selfishness to allow someone with whom we are close to persist in a destructive behavior simply because we do not want to deal with it. We are doing no favors for anyone.
In order to bring a proper balance to my words, I will say that much prayer and time in Bible study should be done before speaking the truth. Timing is important, and our heavenly Father knows when the time is right. We only need to follow His leading.
Look up the following scriptures and write them in your own words.
John 13:34-35 ______________________________________
1 Peter 4:8 ________________________________________
1 John 4:7-8 _______________________________________
In closing of today’s lesson and the first week of our study, choose at least two of the above scripture references to write a prayer below asking the Lord to help you to show love in the Spirit to those who need it.
“As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ,” Colossians 1:7, KJV. If you are writing out the Book of Colossians, you should take a moment to write verse 7.
Before we begin, read Colossians 1:6-7. Although we ended with verse 6 in Day 3, there is a point in the last portion of verse 6 that I want to address. The last half of verse six states the following: “understood the grace of God in truth.”
In context, Paul had just been speaking of the gospel and how it had spread all over Asia Minor. The grace of God is a part of the gospel. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. Unmerited meaning that we did nothing to earn or deserve that.
Another aspect of this grace that we might want to think about is the fact that we would not be saved had the Holy Spirit not drawn us. There are many portions of the Bible in which I do not have complete understanding, but scripture is clear that we did not seek God out ourselves. The truth is He sought us for salvation.
Look up the following verses and write them in your own words.
John 6:44 ____________________________________________
From time to time, we must remind ourselves that we did nothing to merit God’s favor. He loved us before we loved Him. I do not know about you, but thinking about God’s grace in this manner makes me even more thankful for my salvation. I was running toward hell at break-neck speed, but He saved me. Hallelujah!
Please take what I say into proper perspective. I still had to accept Jesus as my Savior, but He drew me. We have to be drawn by the Holy Spirit before we can truly accept Him. Let me assure you that if someone is inquiring about salvation, it is pretty obvious that God is drawing this person.
I also want to touch on the point of the grace of God in truth. John 17:17 states that we are sanctified by the Word because the Word is truth. John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Jesus is also called the Word in John 1:1. It is important to know that God’s grace was given to us through Jesus Christ. The truth about grace is that our sins are covered when we repent and ask God to forgive us. This counts even after salvation. However, the grace of God is not a license to live purposely sinful lives. Romans 6 is very clear about grace and license.
Now, we are moving on to discuss Epaphras. Just who was this man whom Paul referred to as a faithful servant? According to scripture and Bible history, we can glean that Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church. He was a close friend of Paul, and he is mentioned in Philemon 23. Epaphras is a shortened version of Epaphroditus. His name literally means “charming” and handsome”. Of course, I have no idea if he truly matched up to the meaning of his name, however, I do know Paul had confidence in him.
Paul refers to Epaphras as “faithful”. The Greek word for “faithful” which is pistus means trustworthy and one that can be relied upon. These are the type of people we must be in order to be effective in the callings God has placed on us.
Take a moment and think about someone you know who is faithful to the work of the Lord. He or she does not have to be someone to whom you are close, but you can still notice faithfulness. Write this person’s name below as well as what you see in this person’s life that lets you know he or she is faithful to the Lord.
If we are remembered for anything in this life, let it be that we were faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a true legacy to leave to our descendants and others who know us.
Before closing, let me ask you one final question. Who is referred to as “faithful” that is more worthy of the adjective than anyone? If you are not sure, here are a few places you might find the answer: Revelation 19:11, Psalm 92:2, and Psalm 36:5. No one is more faithful than our Lord!
Paul appreciated the faithfulness of the godly people in his life. We should appreciate the faithfulness of others, and, most of all, the faithfulness of Jesus. Write a prayer of thankfulness below for our faithful God and other faithful people in your life.
My heart breaks as I see America slowly being destroyed from within. Her own people are hating her. How disheartening to watch!
Not only am I saddened, but I also have waves of anger that come over me. It is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of bickering on social media. The people who are sick of seeing America go downhill feel they need to speak up about these issues, and they do. However, there is a right and wrong way to go about it.
The Truth in Love
Ephesians 4:15 reminds us to speak the truth, but to do so with love. We can be firm in our stance and stand for what is good and right without becoming catty and rude. When we become like those who are screaming and shouting, we are setting no example of godliness to others.
Trust me, there is no judgement. I have been involved in several heated discussions in which I had to finally just choose to stop engaging in the argument. Yes, consequences must be enforced to the lawless, but they must be enforced by those with the authority to do so. (I am not telling you that you should not defend yourself if physically attacked. I am only saying we do not need to engage in heated discussion and arguments.)
Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak, Slow to Anger
James 1:19 gives clear instruction about the way we should react to certain situations. If we are easily angered, it is best not to speak until we know that we will remain calm. Trust me, I have uttered many rash words only to regret them later.
Sometimes, listening and making certain we have the facts can prevent a great deal of trouble. So many false reports are being circulated. Christians, we do not need to help circulate what is false. Check your sources before you post or spread certain news items.
Guard Your Words
Proverbs 13:3 tells us that if we guard our words, we are guarding our lives. Loose lips sink ships, so to speak. We want to avoid speaking too rashly because we bring ruin to our lives and reputations.
In the second chapter of Daniel, the king issued an order for all of Babylon’s wise men to be executed. When Daniel was told of this, he used wisdom when he spoke to those around him. He was not rash with his words. He did not allow his emotions to dictate him, and it saved his life.
Prayer and the Holy Spirit
Prayer is the key to all of the change America needs. While we need to speak out as necessary, and speak with wisdom, we need to be on our knees in prayer. We must cry out to God for revival and intervention. We must pray for our government leaders whether or not we like them or agree with them.
Matthew 6:33 says to seek God’s kingdom first. This might not be popular, but God’s kingdom comes before our nation. When we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness before all else, He will move in situations that concern us. The American church has put the kingdom of God on the back-burner for too long. It is time to promote the kingdom and trust God to heal our nation.