Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blameless Life - Last Dance

Well, we’ve looked at all of Psalm 15 as well as many other passages. Where do you see yourself, now? Have you made any progress? Have you grown in leaps and bounds? Review Psalm 15.

Eulogy

Every life must end – even a blameless life. The last thing we leave behind (besides our family and friends) is the epitaph on our gravestone and our obituary. So, at the risk of sounding morbid, I issue a final challenge to you that I pray will open your eyes and inspire you. Take a few minutes to write out what you want your epitaph or obituary to say. Or, if you’re feeling really creative, write out how you would like a friend or family member to eulogize you. Then pray that God will help you live up to what you’ve written.

Release Your Burdens

It can be scary to be on your own at first. You may not have any idea where to go from here. I urge you to continue spending time with God. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted to give the time you’ve been devoting to Him over the last few weeks to some other endeavor. On the lines below, I encourage you to release your burdens. Actually give them to God. Make note of every fear and apprehension. Take all the time you need to get everything out in the open.

Now that you’ve unloaded, spend some time praying that God will remove these burdens and refresh you. Ask Him to encourage you daily to be with Him.

To be taught by God, we must be in communication with Him. He communicates in many ways, one of which is through His Word. Spend time in the Word daily. Choose the stories that excite and inspire you. Read them and write down your thoughts or questions in your journal. What do you want to read today?

Action David and Goliath – 1 Samuel 17:20 – 58
Uriah – 2 Samuel 11:3 – 24

Murder Jael – Judges 4:17 – 5:31

Adventure The story of Noah – Genesis 5:29 – 9:29
Apostles’ stories – Acts

Comedy Paul and Eutychus – Acts 20:7 – 12 (I have a warped sense of humor)

Romance Poetry – Song of Solomon (called Song of Songs in some Bibles)

“Science” Non-Fiction vivid images – Revelation

Don’t stop here. The Bible is loaded with stories of all genres. Start keeping a list of your own favorites.

Keep It Up!

Living the blameless life is hard work when you attempt it under your own power. Only when you allow God to live blamelessly through you will you be successful. It may seem at times to be more burdensome to live blamelessly. You may be telling yourself things like,

“I don’t have time to read the Bible.”
“I don’t know how to pray.”
“I don’t know how to study the Word of God without a guidebook.”
“Journaling is too time consuming, and I don’t know what to say.”
“Scheduling time with God is silly.”

Hopefully, you have developed some skills and techniques that will help you continue and grow in your walk with God. I pray that you will lean on Him so hard that you won’t be able to balance yourself without Him. I won’t lie and tell you that “you can do it.” You can’t. But I will say, “He can do it through you.” All you have to do is let Him.

The Greatest of These

I believe in my heart that truly blameless living can be summed up by 1 John 3:14. It says,

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

Heed the words sung by the band By the Tree: “get back to the root of it all.” The key to living the blameless life is loving. If you get nothing else from this study, I pray that you will walk away knowing that you must love. Look up the following verses on love. (Luke 6:27, 35, Matthew 19:19 , Mark 12:30, John 13:34, 35, John 14:23, 24, Romans 5:5)

God commands us to love. We are to love Him. We are to love our neighbors. We are to love each other. We are even to love our enemies. He empowers us to love like this because He has poured His love into us! So, love well, my friends.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:5

Oh, my. The things we do for cold, hard cash! We compromise our values and beliefs. We tolerate bad behavior and foul language. We stress ourselves and abuse our bodies and forsake our families. We turn our backs on our dreams thinking that the American Dream’s emphasis on possessions will make us truly happy. WRONG!!!

What have you compromised this week? Will you continue to compromise?

Very INTERESTing

I can think of a couple of times when I loaned money and never got paid back! But, no, I’ve never charged usury – also known as “interest” – on a loan. However, I can think of a few times when my heart was in the wrong place that I wanted to injure someone who hurt me “with interest.”

Look up the scriptures below to learn what God’s Word says about this. (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-37, Deut 23:20, Prov 28:8)

As followers of Christ, we should be exceptionally generous. All we have belongs to Him, and His Word teaches that we should care for each other. The scriptures above mention our brothers, countrymen and the poor. I believe that pretty much covers everyone. Are you extending the loving hand of Christ to those in need?

Here Comes The Bribe

Who in the world would have the nerve to betray an innocent man for money? How about Judas. Check out Matthew 26:6-15.

Does it sicken you that Judas - a man who knew Christ, touched Him, ate with Him, heard His voice - betrayed the Son of God for a few silver coins? Why do you think Judas did it?

Does the word “greed” mean anything to you? It just happened to be money that motivated Judas. Young Jack wanted to ditch that cow so bad, he took a few magic beans – who really got the better end of that deal?

I suppose I need to ask what motivates you. Have you ever succumbed to the following “bribes?” Feel free to list your own ideas in the margin.

□ promotion at work. □ recognition or award.
□ gifts. □ new car.
□ parking space. □ free meal.
□ acceptance into an elite group. □ clothes.


Have you come to the realization that, no matter what the bribe is, it is never worth it? Even Judas realized that (see Matthew 27:3-5).

The pleasure you get from receiving a bribe will always be fleeting. As in Judas’ case, it may even be accompanied by even deeper emotional pain. Judas never sought forgiveness for his sin. He allowed it to destroy him completely. I urge you to not allow the same thing to happen to you. Spend a little while with God. Ask Him to forgive you and heal you and give you strength and courage to face your sin in this area.

Shaken? Not Even stirred!

If we live a blameless life and follow the advice given to us in Psalm 15, we won’t be shaken. But, if we ignore this advice, we can make our plans to waiver, slip, slide and fall right now! Since we have a choice, and we know what will happen if we don’t pursue blameless living, it appears that the best course of action would be to avoid the pain and sorrow and heartbreak that would most definitely come with being shaken. I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to ignore advice given to me by the most famous king of Israel and The King of the Universe.

The puzzle is nearly complete! Don’t you just love when the last piece fits into the picture? Or when the last scene of a movie makes everything clear, somehow?

Do you want to dwell in God’s sanctuary? Do you want to live on His holy hill? If you answered “yes” to either question, read the list of behaviors below. What traits do you need to work on right now?

Don’t take bribes
Do what is right
Speak the truth in love
Don’t slander
Don’t wrong your neighbor
Don’t slur others
Despise what is vile
Honor those who fear God
Keep your promises
Lend without interest



How’s that memorizing coming? Tackle Psalm 15:5 this month…

Friday, September 29, 2006

I wonder

I was just glancing through my notebook of Bible study notes and came across Ephesians 6. It makes me wonder…

I wrote that I saw chapter 6 as a progression from child to parent to bondservant to warrior. I wonder if God folded the Tuesday night Bible study that I was leading so I could become less “parent” and more “bondservant.” The reality is this: in order to have a more fulfilling Christian life, we MUST grow and progress… Not only are we at war RIGHT NOW, but a much greater battle draws nearer everyday.

I take that back. The greatest battle is NOW! We need to win souls!!! The battle that is coming has already been WON! Hallelujah!!! We do need to prepare for war. But everyday we allow to pass without growing in spiritual strength is another day that the enemy gains ground…

We must stop making excuses – we’re weak, we’re shy, we don’t know the Bible…

BAH!

Do you know Jesus? If so, you have direct access to God, The Father, The King of the Universe. So quit making excuses and start praying…

…for strength
…for courage
…for knowledge of the Bible
…for every soul currently bound by the enemy to be freed and become ravenous for God. Pray that these lost souls would find no satisfaction in worldly pleasures, but come face-to-face with someone who knows Jesus who will share the Gospel in an understandable way and that this lost soul will come home. Pray that the lost souls won’t waste another moment, but accept Jesus as Lord and Savior immediately, then proceed to spread the Good News like wildfire!

If you don’t know Jesus, yet, but you managed to find your way to this place and read this entire post, I know that you’re meant to know Him! It’s time to pray. You can say the prayer I’ve included below:

Dear Jesus, I admit that I’m a sinner.
I am sorry for my sin, and I want You to forgive me.
I thank You for dying on the cross so that I can be forgiven.
I ask You to come into my heart right now and change me.
Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Now, you should find a Bible and read the Gospel of John a few times so you can really know how much Jesus loves you. Stop by a Christian Book Store and ask someone there to help you find a Bible that you can enjoy reading. Then find a church you can attend. Don’t be afraid to talk to the Pastors. Ask questions. Look for opportunities to be with other Christians so you can learn about Jesus. Welcome to the family!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Forgive me? Forgive me not...

Forgiveness… How difficult is it to do? Before you answer, consider this:

The Bible doesn’t say we should only forgive certain offenses!!! WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO FORGIVE EVERYTHING!

Think about that…

Murder robbery torture rape betrayal incest cruelty lies infidelity treason assault battery Slander abuse neglect sabotage defamation

I would have a hard time forgiving some of the above. Jesus doesn’t have a hard time with that. It breaks His heart, but He forgives it all.

I recently read “Presumed Guilty” by James Scott Bell. It’s about a mega-church preacher accused of murdering a porn actress. As the story unfolds, you learn that he has had affairs with two women…

Could I forgive? I don’t know, but Jesus can.

…and he’s been addicted to pornography…

I think I could forgive (as long as it wasn’t children…). Don’t misunderstand. I am certainly no saint! I need forgiveness, too…couldn’t live without it.

Are you waiting for a “but…”?

There isn’t one.

As a human being, tainted by sin, I’m incapable of bestowing forgiveness upon any individual whose sins I have the audacity to label “unforgivable”. Thank God that Jesus lives in me!

His death on the cross forgave all sins. Say that aloud a few times…until you really believe it. ALL SINS!

It doesn’t change the fact that I hate being lied to; or that I’d be tempted to divorce my husband if I found out that he’d had an affair. But I hope that the Lord would remind me that, even though these things injure my pride, they can be forgiven. We just need to allow Jesus to do the forgiving through us.

Hallelujah!

After all, if He can forgive me, who am I to deny forgiveness to anyone else?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:4

Today’s world doesn’t lend itself to the behavior spoken of in Psalm 15:4. We do what is considered politically correct. We are silenced in the name of tolerance. Jesus wasn’t cruel when He spoke the truth to the people He encountered. He genuinely loved them. He didn’t belittle them based on their sin to make Himself feel better. He knew who He was. It’s time we realize who we are:

We are princes and princesses. My Father is the King of the Universe! What does your Daddy do? If you’re reading this, I would venture to say He is the great I Am!

Loathe, Despise and Hate

Are we really supposed to hate anything as Christians? I was plagued by this question a few years ago. I struggled with some very serious “hate” issues. One of the women in my Bible study group suggested I do a word study on “hate”. I did the same with the word “despised.” I found 50 verses that contained the word. Here are a few of them. Look up these verses and note the context of each use of the word “despised.” Remember that the version of the Bible you are using may not translate the original Hebrew as “despised,” but it will be something close. (Genesis 25:34, 2 Samuel 6:16, Psalm 15:4, Ecclesiastes 9:16, Isaiah 53:3)

Alright, back to my original question: are Christians really supposed to hate? Look up the word despise. It doesn’t mean “hate”. After looking up several words to clarify the meaning of “despise,” I’ve come to the following conclusion. It means to look upon as inferior. All of this research can seem pretty complicated and time-consuming, but I did say earlier that you’ll get more out of your study time if you’re willing to put more into it.

To continue building on this, we are to despise that which is vile. What does vile mean? It is something disgusting. So we are to look at disgusting things as inferior. We’ve already established that despise doesn’t mean hate. But we are instructed in Psalm 15:4 to look down upon that which has been rejected by God. It has no place in our lives. It doesn’t deserve our time or consideration. I think this is summed up pretty well by Psalm 101:3. Look up this verse.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The word “honor” is mentioned 161 times in the NIV Bible. It means respect and esteem. When we respect God, He honors us with blessings. He shows us respect by giving us great responsibility. When we chase after what is right, we find respect. Being humble is a prerequisite for obtaining respect.

I hope you already have a healthy understanding of respect. I pray you give it to your spouse, your pastor and your boss. I pray you get it from your kids. What are some ways people have honored you? How have you esteemed others?

Don’t forget that the key to success in this area of blameless living is humility. Can you see a pattern? We gain respect by being humble. As God’s chosen people, we should be truly humble. Humility comes with wisdom. Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord brings honor. The key to being truly humble lies in honoring, esteeming and respecting God.

So, let’s evaluate ourselves. Do you currently obey Psalm 15:4 and respect those who fear the Lord? Why or why not?

It’s all about love. The command to honor those who love the Lord goes hand-in-hand with loving your brother. The Word says that we will be known by our love for one another. So, if we’re not honoring each other, we’re not only disobeying the Word of God, we are not recognizable as Christians! I don’t know about you, but I want people to see Jesus in me and be drawn to Him.

A Promise Is A Promise

Do you know anyone who kept their word, even when it hurt them to do so? Hello, McFly. (That phrase kind of gets lost if you can’t imagine me knocking on my own forehead!) Jesus did! Duh…the cross!

How would you feel about someone who made a promise to you, then failed to keep it? Would you have a difficult time trusting that person to do what they say in the future? Would it have made any difference if they had communicated their difficulties to you better? Have you ever let someone down in this way? If so, what could you do to change your behavior and become more reliable?


Memorize on… Psalm 15:4.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Turning 40 (What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger - even if we do wish we were dead!)

My 39th year was a rough one. I watched my husband grieve the loss of BOTH of his parents, tried to help my children grieve their Grandparents in their own way, and dealt with the loss for myself. Then, I lost my Granddaddy. He was the first person I ever loved - a great friend and role model and I miss him. My Aunt had a series of strokes that kept her and my Uncle from attending my Lil’ Sister’s wedding.

The final week as a woman in my thirties hasn’t been any easier. My cousin arrived at the airport in Florida to fly to Vegas because she is in my Sister’s wedding. Instead of boarding, she ended up in the hospital having emergency surgery for appendicitis. While visiting with one of my Brothers, I shared about my frustration over a watermelon plant that is overtaking my yard, but producing nothing! I have threatened to pull it up by the roots. He told me about having the same experience with a pumpkin plant when he was a kid. I guess misery really does love company.

There were mishaps here and there throughout the wedding: bad-mouthing and frustration, hurt feelings, coordinator errors and lack of air conditioning. Other occurrences included dress straps that broke, forgotten purses, hair that didn’t look perfect, missing compliments, uncomfortable shoes, people sitting in the wrong place, lost inheritances, not enough food, too much attitude.

But there are many roses among the thorns I’ve mentioned. First of all, both of my In-Laws and my Granddaddy are with Jesus! Hallelujah! There’s no place I’d rather be! My Aunt is healing and has an amazing, new sense of humor. My Uncle is blessed! J (And he’s a blessing, too.)

My cousin had her surgery, got on a plane, and still made it to the wedding! What a trooper! I discovered, and had to share with my Brother that there are about 6 little watermelons on my huge plant! It made him smile. The other things will fade with time. Hopefully, the lessons in humility will remain. The moments that we witness even the smallest glimpse of character in others or ourselves should inspire us. Perhaps we’ll even realize that it’s what’s on the inside that counts rather than the outside. And that the wedding doesn’t make the marriage! Praise Jesus.

I am embarking on a new decade. It holds the promise of being a wonderful adventure. My other Aunt told me that 40 backwards is 04, and I can pretend to be dyslexic. So now that I’ve counted my blessings, and turned 40, I’m going to Disneyland!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:3

Backbiteth Not!

Verse 3 in the KJV actually says “who backbiteth not.” I love that. You absolutely cannot sugar-coat that one. Sadly, I confess that I have been a master slanderer. I’ve struggled for years to break the hold that this generational sin has had upon my life.

Jesus never bad-mouthed anybody. Once again, I wish I could make that claim. The good news is that I can ask forgiveness and repent of my bad behavior when God makes me aware of it and get another chance. And since I am aware of my vulnerability in this area, I can bathe myself with prayer over it and avoid situations where the temptation to participate in such things arises.

To be blunt, slander is a vicious lie! When was the last time you slandered someone? When were you last the victim of slander? How did it feel to be on each side of this sin?

Would you like to know what else the Bible says about slander? Take a look at John 8:44.

Whoa! This is a habit worth changing. When I am face-to-face with God, I want to hear “good and faithful servant,” not the above! Look up the following verses of scripture. What instructions do we receive from the Word about slander? (Leviticus 19:16, Psalm 54:5, Proverbs 10:18, Proverbs 30:10, Matthew 15:19, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, Titus 3:1, 2, James 4:11)

Warnings to us on this subject abound. Pray that God will protect you from this behavior and cleanse your heart, mind and mouth.

Don’t You Wrong Your Neighbor

Make a list of your neighbors. Now read the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Who would you have been in this story? The priest? The Levite? A Samaritan? A robber? The beaten man on the side of the road? Why do you think so? Who would you like to aspire to be? Spend some time with God praying for opportunities for Him to teach you how to do His will in this area of your life.

It Wasn’t Me. He Did It!

Who never cast a slur? One guess. By the way, what’s a slur? The King James Version and New American Standard Bibles call it reproach. Others would call it “the blame game.” By the title alone, we should realize that this behavior doesn’t belong in a blameless life! Have you ever blamed someone for something? I’ve done it, too. And I’ve justified it by saying that they really were at fault, but I’ve learned that pointing the finger and placing blame never fixes the problem.

The act of casting a slur means to shame or disgrace someone. Suddenly, I have visions of Drew Barrymore with one of her wings ripped off in Ever After. I also envision many encounters between Christ and the leaders during His time on earth. Read the scriptures below and make note of some of the slurs cast against Jesus and his disciples by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. (Matthew 15:1-2, Matthew 27:41-43, Mark 2:6-7, Mark 3:22, Luke 7:39)

Every time I read these stories, I am amazed at how these religious leaders should have recognized the Messiah in their midst, but didn’t. I’m absolutely awed by how Jesus always managed to turn their verbal traps right back upon them! We serve a truly amazing God! There is no one more intelligent or compassionate or loving or forgiving.

Read the accounts below. Record Christ’s response to the slur against Him. You don’t have to record exact words, just the character trait He displayed (compassion, reprimand, love, forgiveness, etc.) (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 15:31-32, Luke 7:36-50, John 8:1-11)

Our Lord is amazing. What can you do to be more like Him? Simply pray that God makes you more like Jesus. Then obey God.

No Man Can Tame The Tongue

Yes, the Bible actually says it can’t be done. This passage is about self control. Read James 3:1-12.

The tongue is a powerful weapon. Isn’t it amazing how something so small can cause so much trouble? I regret to admit that I have personally wielded the verbal assault weapon. But Jesus wants to teach us to use our tongues to heal instead of hate. Although you can’t tame the tongue, God can develop the fruit of self-control in you so that your words will speak more life. Spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal any wrongdoing in this area of your life.

When the Lord makes you aware that you’ve violated someone verbally, we must admit our sin and ask forgiveness of the person we’ve battered with our words. Don’t waste another minute. What was revealed during your prayer time? How have you used your tongue like a weapon recently? How could you have used it to heal and encourage? Time to go and ask forgiveness.


Keep Going. Memorize Psalm 15:3.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:2

It’s all about purity. Pure actions, pure speech, pure thoughts. We cannot achieve this purity on our own. Let’s ask God for His assistance.

Being pure may not be popular, but it is the right thing to do. But how do we determine what is righteous behavior? Jiminy Cricket sang about letting your conscience be your guide. I believe that “still, small voice” is the Holy Spirit, and that He will actively guide you through life. I also know that it’s possible to ignore His voice even when He’s shouting at you full volume from the inside! This is especially true when you’ve been hurt and you’re angry. Our natural response is to counter-attack, but we must reach for God, instead.

So, how can we protect ourselves? I suggest creating an action plan to test every decision against the Word of God. If we’re in the routine of ignoring the counsel of the Spirit, we must establish a habit of returning our focus to God in all circumstances. This will keep our thoughts in the proper place and make it easier to hear Him when He is trying to direct our paths.

Walk This Way

Who can we follow in order to walk blamelessly? Only Christ is blameless. We are terribly flawed, so don’t make the mistake of patterning your walk after another human being. Only by following Jesus can we hope to walk blamelessly. And I can speak for more than a few of us, I’m sure, when I say that there are a few things Jesus did that we would have difficulty doing to follow Him. Like love. There are days that I doubt my ability to love like He does.

God’s love provided a way that we can be in His presence: the blood of Jesus! Christ suffered the humiliation of the cross for the express purpose of restoring our relationship with our Father. His blood covers our sin, allowing us to dwell in the sanctuary of the Most High God. Without Jesus, we cannot enter God’s presence because He cannot be in the presence of sin.

Who does what is righteous?

Only Jesus does. That is why we must follow his example. Our only hope to live a righteous life is to live like Jesus did. Look up the following scriptures for examples of Jesus’ behavior. (Matthew 4:1-10, Matthew 26:63, Mark 2:15, Mark 4:33, Mark 6:1-4, Luke 3:21, Luke 10:21, Luke 11:1, John 2:1-2, John 11:35.

Ephesians 5:1 says that we should be imitators of God in the way that a child imitates his parent. But our goal should not be to merely mimic how Christ lived. Although that would be a definite improvement on how I behave sometimes. Our goal should be to allow Christ to live through us. He does this by filling us with the Holy Spirit. Christ lives through us, because He lives in us!

Straight From The Heart

Jesus always spoke the truth. I wish I could say the same for myself. He really loved the people He dealt with. He knew that He was going to die for them. So He told them the truth, but with great love. Look at some of His encounters in the gospels. He didn’t sugar-coat His Word. He even offended some people. But He never attacked them. He did what was best for them because He loved them.

It’s easier to fix something if you know what’s really broken. I learned this while I was working as a computer technician. Someone would call with a problem and want me to fix it. But when I would ask them questions in an attempt to determine how the problem arose so I could fix it, some people would actually lie rather than admit to making a mistake. This sometimes meant hours of trial and error on my part as I tried to fix the computer. However, if they would have told me the truth about what happened, the fix would have taken minutes. Since human egos are fragile, and must be treated gently, I tried to educate my customers by telling them that mistakes happen and I could better serve them if I had all of the pertinent information. In some cases, this was sufficient motivation for the client to tell me the truth about what actually happened.

My Pastor reminded me of the tenderness of the human psyche when he taught me something during a Mother’s Day sermon about passing on the blessing to our children. He said that he learned this while coaching his young children’s sports teams. The phrase he said that resonated with me was “shout encouragement and whisper correction.” It makes perfect sense to me. The truth needs to be spoken, but the truth is not always pleasant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean we can ignore the bad and only deal with the good that comes along. Even I admit that I don’t mind receiving kudos in front of other people, but to be humiliated by a public reprimand sours my spirit. And frankly, it motivates me toward some rather ungodly behavior.

What I really like is that this advice doesn’t just apply to raising children. It’s how we should treat others if we are in any type of position of authority. And it’s how we should be treated by people in authority over us.

Sometimes, you can cushion a painful truth with your tone of voice, the setting in which you have your conversation, and the body language you use. It’s not always effective to advise someone to speak to another individual as they would like to be told. We all process information differently, so we must be sensitive to each other. I will confess that “shout encouragement and whisper correction” will become by Mommy mantra. And I will still ask God to work through me to obey His word on this subject:

Go ahead. Memorize Psalm 15:2.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I've been stung by a bug...

…”Akeela and the Bee”! What a great movie. Now, I find myself reading books like “Latin for Dummies” and “Teach Yourself Greek”. My family plays more scrabble and we give each other words to spell FOR FUN! We even watched the National spelling bee on TV in May.

In honor of this film, I would like to introduce the term “eschatology.” Not only is it a cool-looking and –sounding word. It has a cool meaning, too. It is the study of the end times. When you think of the Second Coming of Christ, does your mind immediately think of the book of Revelation? Or Daniel? Or 1 and 2 Thessalonians? Or do you have a favorite scripture that comes to mind?

Do you watch the news and read the papers to see “signs of the times” unfold? Or do you steer clear because no one but God the Father knows the day or hour?

I think the most important question is: are you living your life as if the next blink of your eyes could open to look into the face of Christ?

If we’re completely honest with ourselves, the answer is probably “some moments ‘yes’ and others ‘no’.” There is no twelve-step program we can follow. There is no three-point plan. Are we obeying the Word of God or not? To obey, we must know what it says. To know what it says, we must read it.

Are you reading the Bible? Praise Jesus if you are! If not, find that book, open it and start. It’s never too late to begin this good habit. Okay, now that you’re reading, are you understanding? Do you need a more modern translation of the scriptures? Make sure you have a Bible that you can understand. Alright, we’re reading and understanding. Are we applying what we learn? Can we admit to ourselves that we need to change? Do you have a friend that’s willing to help and encourage you? Make this a priority in prayer. God can convict you of what needs changing. He can also bring along a brother or sister in Christ to keep you accountable. Ask Him. You may not receive what you expect, but you will definitely get what you need.

Wow! I think this bug bite is less recent than I imagined. It seems to have been under my skin for a while… There is no denying it – CHRIST IS COMING! Are you ready for Him? Are you preparing others for Him? If you’re not doing all you can, get back to the heart of your relationship with God: communication. We speak to Him through prayer. He speaks to us through His Word. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:1

Take a moment to pray before we begin. Ask God to help you absorb His desire to be with you like a thirsty sponge today. Ask to grow in relationship with Him. Ask Him to teach you, today, and to mold and change your heart.

A well-known phrase says, “home is where the heart is.” This is not far from the truth. You can always tell what is important to someone by how they assign priorities in their life. What is important to you? Would others who observe your behavior agree with that? Now let’s examine what is important to God. Read Mark 12:28-31. Jesus told the teachers of the law what the most important commandment is.

Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? That’s a lot of loving! Maybe it’s easier to love your neighbor as yourself? I think not. Love isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s a mark of godly character. It is evidence of God’s presence in your life. In fact, love is the first fruit of the Spirit quality named in Galatians 5:22-23.

These nine traits are evidence of a Christian’s maturity, just as the appearance of fruit on a plant is evidence of that plant’s maturity. But developing fruit takes effort. The plant must be fed and watered and pruned to be productive. We must undergo the same laborious processes as God’s children.

The House That Jesus Built

Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us. Isn’t that exciting? I can almost see Him in His tool belt using hammer, saw and sander. A true Master Carpenter is personally creating our dwelling in paradise. WOW! I am always blown away when I think about this. Personally, I don’t care if my heavenly dwelling is a shack as long as I’m in His presence.

There is comfort, belonging and dependence, and God is both at home and on the road with each of us. Look up the following list of scriptures. Make note of some of the benefits of dwelling with our Heavenly Father. Exodus 29:46, Psalm 23:6, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 61:4, Psalm 78:69, Psalm 91:1.

Here’s another mind-blower! Ephesians 2 says that we, the Body of Christ, are God’s dwelling place. We are all being built into one “sanctuary” with Jesus as the cornerstone! Sit quietly and let that sink in for a minute.

It Doesn’t Have To Be A Mansion

God’s first sanctuary, His tabernacle, His “home,” His holy dwelling place was a tent! The King of the Universe doesn’t need much, does He? God truly knows how to enjoy the little things. In fact, it is written that our bodies are “tents” and His Spirit lives in us. (Check out 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 2 Peter 1:13.) But we’re not just tents anymore.

It’s true, dear family, the King of the Universe doesn’t need much, but He wants us! Are you part of God’s family? Have you allowed Him to adopt you? If you have, praise Him for it! If you haven’t but want to be a part of the family, pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I confess to You today that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin, and I want You to teach me how to live a blameless life. Thank You for dying for me on the cross. I invite You to come and live in my heart right now. Thank You for washing away my sin and entering my life. I pray this in Your marvelous name, Lord Jesus. Amen.



If you’d like a challenge, I suggest you memorize Psalm 15:1.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Living the Blameless Life - Introduction

Before we begin, take a moment to pray. Ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you as you study today. Ask God to clear your heart and mind of anything unworthy of Him and to fill that space with His love and wisdom and discernment.

I believe that the Lord led you to this study for a reason. Does the idea of living a blameless life appeal to you? Does this type of life even seem possible? Read Psalm 119:1. I pray that this verse is an encouragement to you and that you’re ready to get started. So, let’s dive right in. First of all, we’ll set the scene. According to The Complete Word Study Old Testament, King David wrote Psalm 15 on the occasion of moving the ark of the covenant to Mount Zion. This story is recorded for us in 2 Samuel 6:12-19. Take a few minutes to read this passage and get a better idea of what King David may have been thinking and feeling when he penned this psalm.

Here are a few of my thoughts: Sacrificing the bulls and calves were acts of worship. Dancing was an expression of joy. In fact, this whole procession was one big party. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine “the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” Wow! That’s a lot of joyful, noisy people celebrating the homecoming of the ark of the covenant! God Himself is moving back into the neighborhood! David pitches the tent and the ark is placed inside. Then the party continues with sacrifices, fellowship offerings, blessings and refreshments.

Now that you know the background, read Psalm 15. It’s only five verses, but they certainly pack a powerful punch! What are your initial reactions to the Psalm? Does anything about it inspire you? Encourage you? Confuse you? Make you want to know more? Pull out a dictionary (another valuable Bible study tool) and look up any words that are unfamiliar to you.

The Blameless Top Ten List

Psalm 15 spells out ten very specific things that we must do – and not do – to live a blameless life.

Do what is righteous.
Speak the truth from your heart.
Do not slander.
Do not do wrong to your neighbor.
Do not cast a slur on your fellow man.
Despise a vile man.
Honor those who fear the Lord.
Keep your oaths, even when it hurts.
Lend your money without usury.
Don’t accept a bribe against the innocent.

After reading this list, do you feel a bit inadequate? Can you point to one or more items above and say, “I can’t do it”? I certainly feel that way. Usually because I have sinned in one or more of the areas listed. Is there anything you need to confess today? Have a quiet moment with the Lord and ask Him what areas of your life need repentance.

So, are you ready to commit to improving yourself in the area of blameless living? Excellent! Me, too. But, does blameless living seem to be beyond your grasp? Don’t be discouraged. You may recall that David was called a man after God’s own heart. That did not mean that he was perfect! It means that he was honest with God. He was always in communication with God. He confessed sin and weakness and fear to God.

It is in our weakness that God’s strength is revealed. This is a truth we must embrace or pride may get the best of us! Look up the following scriptures and reflect on what each teaches you about weakness: Romans 8:26, 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4.

Because of our pride, we find it difficult to boast about our weaknesses. But this is how we glorify God. If we can do it on our own, what do we need Him for? But if the task is beyond our ability, it can only be accomplished with His help. To glorify God, we must give Him the credit He deserves by admitting where we fall short.

When we do this, we make ourselves vulnerable to criticism. Ouch. People can be very cruel. They gossip, they offer promotions and recognition to someone else, they don’t let you join in the reindeer games. But we need to turn our focus to God. WE ARE NOT HERE TO IMPRESS PEOPLE!!! Can you say that out loud with me? When you are tempted to fall into this trap, remember that Isaiah 55:8 and 9 says that God’s ways are not our ways.

People can be superficial and selfish, but God looks at what is really important and He wants what is best for us. So who do you want to impress? If you are reading this right now, I am willing to go out on a limb and say that you want to impress God. But how can we do that? God is more concerned with your character than your clothes. Read 1 Samuel 16:7b.

Examine your own heart in light of the Blameless Top Ten List above. What areas of blameless living do you already practice but want to improve? Where do you feel you fail miserably and need God’s grace to get it right? Pray for Him to teach you how to be blameless and be sure to thank Him for the areas in which He’s already taught you to excel.


Discussion: What do you see as the pros and cons of blameless living? Is it worth it to pursue a blameless life? Is the pursuit enough or do we need to achieve blameless living?


Next Time: We’ll share thoughts on Psalm 15 verse 1.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Premiere

I have quite a few friends with whom I have shared hours of discussion about the Lord and the Bible who have moved away and joined other study groups. Since I began saying goodbye to these beautiful individuals, my dream has been to create a forum where the miles melt away. This blog is the realization of that dream.

Friends, this is intended to be a reunion of sorts, and a place to meet others who share our passion for Jesus and His Instruction Book. I will post ideas and begin discussions that will encourage us to open the Bible and strengthen our prayer lives. We will study the Word and share devotions and grow together while we are apart.

Starting in May, we will begin a study I did with my church last summer called “Living the Blameless Life” based on Psalm 15. I will post excerpts from the workbook we used and we will discuss one verse of the Psalm at a time. So, check back next month to be part of this experience.

I look forward to many Bible studies taking place right here at our fingertips. So, be sure to bookmark this site before you leave.