We can't do one thing to make God love us any more than He already loves us, and we can't do anything to make Him love us any less. However, we are responsible for how pleased God is with us.
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1 Peter 1:14-2:10 Peter compares believers in Jesus Christ to living stones that are built into a spiritual house. So many people come for a season to our church and then move on to another church. Such people never have the beautiful experience of forming a spiritual house. I have heard some refer to such people as rolling stones instead of living stones. If we are always hopping from one church to another simply because things just do not suit us, we run the risk of never maturing in our walk with the Lord. It takes living stones rubbing other living stones even the wrong way for a season to bring each stone into the position where they fit into the building of a spiritual house. If we leave one fellowship before we have found our place of service there, chances are we will never fit into any other spiritual house or body of believers as the Lord wants us to do. Love is not easily offended, and if we run away every time we are offended without dealing with the situation, love will never be perfected (matured) in our lives. As living stones we have to learn to fit together and work together to build a spiritual house.
1 Peter 1:1-13 My mother died last year, and I received a small inheritance of $1,000. This inheritance has already been spent. Imagine having an inheritance that never disappears. I had a friend who wanted to leave her precious antiques to her daughter. Some of these antiques dated back to before the Revolution. They were priceless. Her daughter, however, said she did not want these pieces of furniture. I have heard stories where people received the contents of their mother or father's home, and in the process of cleaning the homes to sell them, they found thousands of dollars tucked in mattresses and cracks in walls. I have seen items given to sons and daughters by their beloved departed that have been allowed to mildew, dry rot and become worthless. If these people had taken care of those things they inherited, they probably could have sold them for a good price.
James 5:1-20 Much research is being done to find cures for diseases like AIDS and cancer. These are diseases that so far have no cure-all. These are also diseases that are affected by the strength of our immune system. This passage in James gives a cure-all for ill health, but few avail themselves of this cure. James lists four things in this passage that will help bring healing to our bodies:
1. Call for the elders.
2. Let them anoint you with oil and pray with faith for you.
3. Confess your faults one to another so you may be healed.
4. Pray for one another that you may be healed.
Psalm 118:19-29 No matter what each day holds for us, we can rejoice in it. But you may say, "I don't feel like rejoicing." Often when a new day dawns, our bodies don't want to get up and greet the day with cheerfulness because we just simply may not feel good. Our souls, however, can always rejoice in the Lord. When we greet the day with gratefulness instead of grumbling, we will set the sails of the ship of our lives to receive the wind of the Holy Spirit.
James 2:18-3:18 There are two kinds of wisdom we can experience here on earth. We can experience the wisdom of this world or heavenly wisdom. Earlier in this letter James tells us that if any man lack wisdom, he should ask God, and God will grant him wisdom. The kind of wisdom God gives is described as follows: "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17).
James 1:19-2:17 This passage in James talks about the speed we need to set to cruise in the Spirit. We have a cruise setting on our car. When we set it at the right speed, we are able to take our foot off the gas peddle and the car will continue at the right speed. James tells us exactly what speed we should set our hearing, speaking and anger to allow the Spirit to go forward at a great cruise level as we travel the road of life. He says, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20).
James 1:1-18 I saw a bumper sticker that said "Good God; Bad Devil." This is a statement most Christians should understand, but often we give God credit for doing bad things in our lives. We have to recognize that God is not evil, neither can He tempt us with evil. Whatever God does or allows in our lives will always be good. The author of sickness, confusion, disease, misery and strife is the devil. James makes it very clear in his letter that God cannot tempt us with evil. Only the devil tempts us with evil. James says, "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (vv. 16-17, KJV).
You probably know that by God's grace you're forgiven and saved, but do you know there is so much more that grace gives us?
Hebrews 13:1-25 This chapter begins with an interesting two verses: "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."
Hebrews 11:32-12:13 These heroes of the faith pressed forward to the goal, and they received the gold. As we see by the lives mentioned in this passage of Hebrews 11, many were martyred and tortured for their faith. How did they get through these great trials of faith, which are even more precious to the Lord than gold? The answer is simple: They kept their focus on the Provider, not the problem. We read in Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 11:17-31 As we continue our travels through the Book of Hebrews, underline or circle the phrases looking at or looking towards. Faith always looks at the eternal rather than the temporal. We can see the temporal, but we cannot usually see the eternal. In this chapter we see more stories from the Hall of Faith, and each story has one thing in common. These heroes of our faith were able to see the unseen by faith. We see the faith of Moses in the following passages: "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible" (vv. 24-27, KJV).
Hebrews 11:1-16 We recently purchased some beautiful oil paintings painted by some Israeli art students. These students were temporarily in the United States selling their paintings to earn money for their art school in Jerusalem. They went door to door and also had a few shows in the U.S. The paintings were not framed, but we had the promise of these students that a fellow student would call us who could give us a good price on framing the pictures for us. We waited and waited for this call. Meanwhile our beautiful pictures were gathering dust while they were stored under our bed. No one knew we had such beautiful paintings because they were not framed yet and we could not display them on our walls.
Hebrews 10:18-39 Recently I heard a message titled "What to do when you are going through hell. "The answer given in the message was this: "When you are going through hell, keep moving."
Hebrews 10:1-17 We studied about the tabernacle and the pattern of prayer. We saw that now we can begin our prayers instantly with worship, because Jesus through His shed blood on the cross purchased us the right to now go boldly to God's mercy seat and find help in time of need. Only the high priest in the first covenant could enter into the holy of holies where he saw the mercy seat with the cherubim over it. He could only enter through the veil of the holy of holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. We have the great privilege now of entering God's throne room daily to find help in time of need because of the authority we have in Jesus' name and through His shed blood.
God's love for us is unconditional and unchanging. This is clearly seen in the words of Jesus' prayer the night before His crucifixion: "Then the world will know that you [God the Father] sent me [Jesus Christ] and will understand that you love them as much as you love me" (John 17:23, NLT).
Hebrews 9:13-28 When my mother died, I could not come into my inheritance until all the legal requirements were met. Only then could I receive what she had willed to me many years earlier when she wrote her will.
Hebrews 8:1-13 Earlier this month we saw God's promise to turn the hearts of stone of His chosen people into hearts of flesh. Israel was disobedient to God, and Jesus was rejected by His own. Yet, God has not rejected Israel. He promises to make a new covenant with them when He will write the law of God on their hearts and put the laws in their minds. Yesterday we shared the only sin we cannot remit for others is rejection of Jesus Christ. Even though many of our Jewish brothers and sisters have rejected Jesus Christ, we can still pray for God to give them the gift of faith to believe and also godly sorrow so they will repent.
Ezekiel 14:12-16:42 This passage in Ezekiel speaks of Israel and how God had mercy on Israel and gave Israel life. Ezekiel speaks of Israel's birth and how no man had pity upon her. Israel was like a newborn cast into an open field with no one even nearby to cut her umbilical cord. Then Ezekiel shares how God has pity on her: "And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!'" (Ezek. 16:6)
Ezekiel 12:1-14:11 There are many prophetic scriptures in Ezekiel. In this passage God promises to no longer prolong His Word. He says, "For I am the Lord, I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed" (Ezek. 42:25).
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