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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #20)

BLESSING #20: The Blessing of a Biblical Perspective on Risk

“There is a warning. The path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, ‘Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.’ In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.” (John Piper)

If your lost friend were to ask you, “What’s the best part about being a follower of Jesus?”, what would you say? Of course, salvation would be the first answer most of us would give. But what might be the second or third matter you would state? What are some of the other blessings you enjoy which your unsaved friend doesn’t have? Yet.

We’ve already seen a number of benefits of being a Christian, but one that perhaps doesn’t occur to a lot of us is that of being able to take risks for the kingdom of God. I believe that as followers of Jesus —

20. WE HAVE A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON RISK!

Life is risky, isn’t it? We’re not to live foolishly, but the very idea of living a totally risk-free life is impossible. At any moment in our lives we might become the victim of a crime, be overcome by an unexpected disease or disability, or be treated unkindly by our godless culture. These outside forces often pose great and unavoidable risks to us.

THE BLESSING But can we put ourselves at risk? Should we? In his book Risk Is Right, Pastor John Piper makes the very critical point that it is better to lose your life than to waste it! What are the risks that a believer is free to make? Here are a few that occur to me: Sharing the gospel with the possibility of being rejected by one’s friends. Serving the Lord in far-flung places in the world where people eat what people were never intended to eat! Standing for truth when such a stance will lose one a promotion or even get one sued! Being faithful in one’s marriage even when one’s spouse has bailed out of their wedding vows. These are worthwhile risks that the unbeliever knows little to nothing about.

THE BIBLE People in the Bible were constantly at risk. The Psalmist David frequently cries out to the Lord to save him from those who want him dead. The early Christians laid down their lives for the gospel — and thought such to be a privilege! In Scripture we read of “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts15:26). The Apostle Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila as “my co-workers in Christ Jesus [who] risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” (Rom. 16:3-4). In Philippians 2 Paul speaks about his fellow laborer Epaphroditus who
“longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill . . . and almost died. But God had mercy on him . . . 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”

We may pray like the Psalmist in Psalm 16, “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge” (v. 1). It’s not wrong to ask God to keep us safe, but not risk-free! We believers are blessed with knowing that this life is not the only one that is, that we might well lose our lives for the gospel, and that such a sacrifice will be well worth it. The unbeliever does not have this “blessing.”

ACTION STEPS 1. Ask yourself the question, “What risks am I willing to take for the gospel? Perhaps I need to begin with apologizing to my family or friends for failing to live as I should before them. Take one risk this week which you know will glorify the Lord. And share your experience with another believer.
2. Learn about a missionary or missionary couple this week who are serving the Lord in a dangerous place. Ask them about this issue of risk. Commit yourself to pray for them and their safety as they risk their lives for the gospel.
3. Read Piper’s book Risk Is Right. Take notes on your reading and discuss the book with a Christian friend or two.
PRAYER 4. Pray for your lost friend that he will understand that the highest goal in life should not be one’s physical or emotional survival. Express to him that some things are worth dying for. (879 words)

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #19)

BLESSING #19: The Blessing of a Proper View of Health

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” (Albert Schweitzer)

In his book God Is the Gospel Pastor John Piper makes the basic point that “When you trusted Christ, you got God!” Absolutely. But what else did we “get” when we believed the gospel?

My friend Mike is as lost as lost can be (as I was before Jesus saved me). And he has got me to thinking about all that I have as a believer. So I’m making a list . . .
Our culture, it seems, is health-obsessed. Vitamins, exercise machines, weight loss programs, skinny photo-shopped models, plastic surgery, diets and diet pills, and multiple over-the-counter and prescription drugs all scream at us: “HEALTH! You must be healthy! Here’s a pill for this problem! Join this weight-loss plan right now! You don’t have to suffer with the heartbreak of psoriasis!”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m grateful for advances in medicine, programs that help me live longer, and practical steps I can take to be healthier. I just wonder if we’re too addicted to better health than we ought to be. Has it become for some an idol? For that reason, I believe that we Christians —

19. WE HAVE A PROPER VIEW OF HEALTH!

THE BLESSING Of course we should make healthy choices in what we eat, how much we exercise, how we treat the one body God has given us for this life. But, for some, perfect health has become their god.
THE BIBLE What, then, would be a biblical view of health? Several principles occur to me: (1) We should acknowledge that our bodies are given to us by God (Gen. 2:7, 18-25); (2)  we should agree that our bodies are not our own (I Cor. 3 and 6); (3) we should take care of the physical part of who we are (Eph. 5:28-29); (4) we should honor God even in our “disabilities” (“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Ex. 4:11); (5) we should seek healing if such is God’s will (James 5:14); and (6) we should honor the Lord even in our infirmities (2 Cor. 12).

ACTION STEPS 1. We believers need to model a balanced view of health, avoiding either the extreme of neglect or the worship of our bodies. We believe that matter matters, that God made our bodies, and we should be good stewards of our physical beings. List one practical step that you can take each day this week to live a healthier life.
2. Read Romans 12:1-2 in a different version of the Bible each day this week and write out several implications for your health and fitness.
3. I have been greatly helped on this issue of matter mattering to God by reading Michael Witmer’s book Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? Consider reading that book along with a friend and discussing it.
PRAYER 4. Sometimes unbelievers think we Christians care only about the spiritual. Share with your friend some of your concern about your physical health and how our bodies matter to the Lord. (554 words)

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #18)

BLESSING #18: The Blessing of a Plan for Intentional Parenting
“If it weren’t for families, we’d have to fight with strangers!” (anonymous)

There are so many blessings in knowing Christ, right? Not just salvation. As I pray for and reflect on my friendship with Mike, I’m becoming more aware of what I have in knowing Christ. And I wish the same for every believer!

It bugs me that many Christians don’t understand the multi-faceted instruction book that they have in the Bible, God’s Word! Scripture not only tells how to get saved, but how to live. And one major area of life is . . . parenting.

THE BLESSING Many Christian parents, I would suggest, haven’t really dug into the Bible to see what it says about being a godly husband, a loving wife, obedient and joyful children, etc. So I would remind Jesus followers that —

18. WE HAVE A PLAN FOR INTENTIONAL PARENTING!

Some of my unsaved friends appear to be great fathers and mothers. But, can we talk? That’s only because they are borrowing parenting skills from Christianity — and probably don’t even know it. Others of my friends aren’t loving their spouses as they should, are allowing their children to have whatever they want whenever they want it, and seem to be investing zero minutes in training their children in godliness.

THE BIBLE Such must not be the family situation of the follower of Jesus. The Bible gives us clear guidance on: (1) being a godly husband (Eph. 5:23-33; Titus 1:6); (2) being a loving and supportive wife (Eph. 5:22); and (3) having obedient, believing children (Titus 1:6; I Tim. 3:4). God’s Word provides us clear instructions on caring for the elderly (Lev. 19:32; I Tim. 5:1; I Pe. 5:5; Is. 46:4) and widows (I Tim. 5). Sadly Scripture presents us with case studies of families that fell apart. We have also the encouraging story of Job who sacrificed and prayed daily for his children (Job 1:1-5).

One of my unsaved friends is making some poor choices in his family. He loves his daughter much more than his wife. He doesn’t feel he is respected by either. He simply doesn’t have the foundation to be the spiritual leader in his family. And, sadly, I don’t think their marriage is going to make it.

However, good news! This friend is thinking about having a Bible study with me on the gospel of John! Pray that he will come to Christ and become the husband and father God wants him to be.

ACTION STEPS 1. Pick one set of Scriptures listed above (“The Bible gives us clear guidance on . . .”) and write out an action plan of obeying what God’s Word says. Share your plan with another believer this week who can pray for you and ask you how you are doing.
2. Invite a couple from your church (whose family you admire) for lunch and interview them sometime this week on what practices have been most helpful to them in their family.
3. Read a book like Dennis & Barbara Rainey’s Growing a Spiritually Strong Family with your spouse and pray together about what you learn.
PRAYER 4. Take steps to open your home to your unsaved friends so they can observe some of what you intentionally practice in your family. Invite them to a game night or a movie night. (570 words)

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #17)

BLESSING #17: The Blessing of a Prayer Life
Samuel Chadwick, one of the greatest preachers of English Methodism, once said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep God’s people from praying . . . He laughs at your toil and he mocks at your wisdom. But he trembles when you pray!”

My lost friend Mike drives me to my knees every day as I think about what he doesn’t have in not knowing Christ. And his lack helps me focus on my blessings so I can pray for him to come into God’s family.

We are commanded in Psalm 103 to “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . .” (v. 2). I don’t think most Christians even know all the benefits they have in being saved. It’s hard to forget what we aren’t aware we have.

Let’s think about another benefit or blessing which followers of Jesus have —

17. WE HAVE A PRAYER LIFE!

I am not suggesting that my lost friends never pray. I’m sure many of them do. They pray when a loved one is seriously ill, when they’ve lost a job, when a child has wandered from the family at the beach and gotten lost, when the doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry. But I have bad news.” And we Christians pray the same SOS prayers, don’t we?

THE BLESSING But I’m thinking about a prayer LIFE. What do I mean? I mean the believer should treat prayer as a critical weapon in his arsenal. He resorts to prayer when under attack by his supernatural foe the devil. He turns to the Lord in faith when all around him seems to shout “you’ve been abandoned by your God!” He cries out to the Father when he faces situations he hasn’t been able to deal with on his own.

THE BIBLE But those circumstances are emergency situations. How about daily interceding for our loved ones, praying for another believer’s spiritual growth, pleading with the Lord for a friend’s salvation? The prophet Samuel hit the nail on the head when he said to the people of Israel:  “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (I Sam. 12:23). Do we believers ever think of our failure to pray for others as a sin against the Lord?!
And we need to pray for ourselves. For we have many needs. That the Lord would reorder our priorities (Eph. 5:17). That He would give us His joy when life brings us down (Jn. 15:11). That we would rely on His strength instead of our own (Ps. 20:7). That we would engage in precious times of contemplating the Lord and His attributes (His mercy, goodness, kindness, strength, love, etc.) (Ps. 1:2; 77:12; 119:148; 143:5; I Tim. 4:15).

How we must grieve the heart of God when we treat Him as a kind of celestial vending machine. He is our Father, our Lord, our best friend, our Savior.

Scripture teaches us that prayer — (1) Can keep us from falling into temptation (Mt. 26:41); (2) Can help us love our enemies (Mt. 6:5); (3) Can give us sweet and secret times with our Father (Mt. 6:6); (4) Can remind us of God’s knowledge of our circumstances (Mt. 6:9); (5) Can test our belief in God’s meeting our needs (Mt. 21:22); (6) Can clarify God’s will for us and for others (Rom. 1:10); (7) Can make us aware of the Spirit’s assistance in interceding for us (Rom. 8:26); (8) Can test our faithfulness (Rom. 12:12); (9) Can practically help other believers (2 Cor. 1:11); (10) Can motivate us to pray for the spiritual growth of others (Eph. 1:18); etc.

ACTION STEPS 1. First of all, thank God for the gift of prayer, confessing your poor exercise of that discipline, if such is the case.
2. Is it not true that we often pray only mundane (meaning “earthly”) prayers, for such matters as health and jobs and conflicts? Each day this week read over one of the Apostle Paul’s prayers for a co-worker (such as Col. 1:9-14) and make a list of what Paul prays for . . . for others. Do the same for one of your friends each day this week.
3. Begin a prayer journal. This need not be a massive amount of time and energy, but make a few daily notes on what are the top items on your prayer list.
PRAYER 4. Pray for your unsaved friend — and perhaps even let him know that you are praying for him. Agree to pray for whatever he requests, and keep some notes so you can update your praying for him.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #16)

BLESSING #16: The Blessing of a Reason to Sing

“I always try to cheer myself up by singing when I get sad. Most of the time, it turns out that my voice is worse than my problems.” (anonymous)

Almost each Saturday I’m given a “honey-do” list. These are jobs my wife of 50 years wants me to complete. Lists are important, aren’t they? If you had to make a list of the blessings you have as a believer, what would your list look like? Would it be just a few items? Or would you need a second or a third page?

My friend Mike — who has not yet trusted Christ as his Savior — enjoys many of the common grace blessings of a providential God, but is missing out on so many benefits of being in the family of God. I’ve recently been listening to some powerful Christian music (I’m a Lauren Daigle fan) and it dawned on me that those who belong to the Lord —

16. WE HAVE A REASON TO SING!

Of course, those who don’t know Christ have their music. The outright skeptic Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Some of the world’s music is quite good. But heart-felt praise to God for all He has done for them? That’s a tune they have yet to learn.

THE BIBLE I love the quote which says, “Singing in the shower is all fun and games until you get shampoo in your mouth. Then it becomes a soap opera!” Music, singing, dancing are very important in the Scriptures.

Psalm 96 says,
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. …”
2 Samuel 22 says, “Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” (v. 50). I Chronicles challenges the believer to “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” (16:9). And the writer gets even more specific about the theme of our singing later in the same chapter: “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.” (v. 23).

You see, the problem with my friend is that he hasn’t become convinced that he is in grave danger without Christ. The Psalmist hits this note when he writes, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (5:11).

This same idea of finding refuge in the Lord is reiterated in Psalm 59: “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (v. 16).

The believer in Christ recognizes the many blessings of being “in Him”: “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Ps. 13:6). And the Psalmist invites us to “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (Ps. 33:3).

ACTION STEPS 1. Someone has said that music is “unfrozen theology.” That is, we sing what we believe. Take a few minutes this week and analyze one of the songs you sang in church on Sunday. What theology (doctrine) did it celebrate?
2. The Psalms were written to be sung. In fact, some of them have at the beginning words like “to be sung to the tune of . . .” Select one Psalm each day this week and experiment by singing each to the Lord with your own tune!
3. Read over Matthew 26:20-30 each day this week. Notice that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn together (v. 30). We don’t know what that hymn was, but imagine you were with the Lord. What might you have heard?
PRAYER 4. So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? First of all, he needs to hear me sing (figuratively if not literally)! He needs to see a tangible joy in my life that can’t keep me from bursting in song. And, second, I need to pray that God the Holy Spirit would bring that new song to his heart.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #15)

 BLESSING #15: The Blessing of a Godly Hatred
“I will tell you what to hate. Hate hypocrisy, hate can’t, hate indolence, oppression, injustice; hate Pharisaism; hate them as Christ hated them — with a deep, living, Godlike hatred.” (Frederick William Robertson)

We believers in Jesus are so blessed! Do we realize all the benefits of being saved, being made right with the Lord? My unsaved friend Mike doesn’t. Yet. So I’m counting some of my blessings as I think about what Mike doesn’t have as an unbeliever.

One of the most surprising truths about biblical Christianity is the fact that there is both godly and ungodly jealously, godly and ungodly pride, and godly and ungodly hatred. Really!

Our culture so emphasizes love that it doesn’t realize there is a place for biblical hatred! For believers it might be said that —
15. WE POSSESS A GODLY HATRED!



THE BLESSING We should hate hypocrisy, despise pedophilia, abhor child abuse, absolutely renounce racism, right? There is both godly and ungodly hatred. The actor Will Smith once said, “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” The challenge is to turn away from ungodly hatred and to embrace a godly revulsion toward those things He hates.

THE BIBLE It is quite surprising to see what the Bible has to say about God hating and also how believers are to hate. Here are some representative verses of God hating:
1. “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong.” (Ps. 5:5).
2. “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.” (Ps. 11:5).
3. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him . . .” (Prov. 6:16).
4. “Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being.” (Is. 1:14).
5. “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there.” (Hos. 9:15).
6. “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” (Amos 5:21).
7. “‘Do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this, declares the Lord.” (Zech. 8:17).
8. “. . . I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated” (Mal. 1:2-3).

One might make the point that a few of these texts sound like hyperbole, but not all of them. What verses do we have that say the child of God is to hate?
1. We read that there is “a time to love and a time to hate” (Ecc. 3:8).
2. The Psalmist says, “I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 31:6).
3. Psalm 97 commands, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil” (v. 10).
4. The Psalmist asks a critical question in Psalm 139, “Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?” (v. 21).
5. Amos 5:15 issues the challenge: “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
6. Jesus speaks about hatred in both Luke 14:26 and John 12:25 where we read, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple.” John 12:25 says, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
7. The Apostle Paul uses strong language as he thinks about his behavior as a believer: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15).
8. Paul seems to be referring back to the Amos passage when he says in Romans 12, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (v. 9).
9. The Apostle John quotes the Lord in Revelation 2 saying of the Ephesian church, “You have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (v. 6).
We might not like what the Bible says in those verses, but there it is. There are several levels of our hatred as we reject evil in our world — and in ourselves. Believers must define and defend biblical hatred even as they love those for whom Christ died.

ACTION STEPS 1. Imagine that your unsaved friend says to you, “I hear that Christians are to hate? That can’t be right!” How would you answer your friend using some of the verses above?
2. Think about Proverbs 6:16 (“There are six things the Lord hates . . .”) and list one practical way every day this week how you can show your hatred of the things God hates.
3. Read Tim Challies’ article on God’s hatred (found at: https://www.challies.com/articles/hate-what-god-hates/) and answer the question, “Why does God hate idolatry so much?”
PRAYER 4. So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly life that I am grieved and angered at the effects of evil in our world and seek to do whatever I can to be salt and light in my culture. And I pray for my lost friend that he would experience a proper self-hatred that drives him to the Savior.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #14)

BLESSING #14: The Blessing of a Balanced Emotional Life
This quotes bears repeating: “The mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!” (Dr. Willard S. Krabill)

I believe we should rejoice in the many blessings we have as followers of Jesus. And, conversely, I think we should grieve for those we love who don’t yet know Christ — and, therefore, don’t have these blessings. Grieving and rejoicing are emotions — and emotions are critical for human life.

However, what emotions mark the follower of Jesus? Sometimes I get really happy about things that don’t really matter. I also find that a lot of times I’m not concerned about the things that really count. The emotional life of the believer is critical. God made us with emotions, but, like the other aspects of our personality, our emotions are fallen, twisted, out of balance, sometimes inappropriate. So I would suggest that one of our blessings in being saved is —

14. WE CAN HAVE BALANCED EMOTIONS!

THE BLESSING “Balanced” might not be the right word. But I believe that knowing Christ fundamentally renews and re-orients all that we are (intellect, will, and emotions). I need to weep over what grieves the heart of God and rejoice in those truths that He has graciously given in His Word and in His world.

THE BIBLE Jesus was not just a man of sorrows. He was also a man of JOY. He says to His disciples in John 15, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (v. 11). One of the most important things a Christian can do is to study the emotional life of the Lord Jesus. What brought Him sadness? Disappointment? Excitement? Regret? Joy?

The Bible puts a premium on our proper emotions. Psalm 126 refers to “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (v.6) And the believer is clearly commanded in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

ACTION STEPS 1. Someone has said that the only thing Job’s friends did that was right was that they sat with him on the ground silent for seven days and seven nights, weeping. This week find someone who is weeping and weep with them. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice. Find someone this week who is rejoicing — and join them!
2. The Lord Jesus is to be our model in all aspects of life. This week read through one of the gospels and underline every emotion you see in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. What are some practical lessons you are learning as you do that study?
3. You might consider reading the classic book by James Dobson entitled Emotions: Can You Trust Them? Discuss the book with a friend.
PRAYER 4. So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly emotions both appropriate joy and grief in life. And I pray for my friend that the Holy Spirit would give him a longing to know God personally and rejoice eternally in Him!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #13)

BLESSING #13: The Blessing of a Proper Fear
“I may tremble on the Rock, but the Rock never trembles under me! And that inner assurance not only relieves my fear, it allows me to carry on with much greater efficiency. And rather than causing me to be indifferent and irresponsible, it inspires me to direct all my energies toward those things that please and glorify the name of my heavenly Father . . . eternally protected because He has me in His all-powerful hand.” (Chuck Swindoll, Eternal Security)

As we continue to “count our blessings,” there is one which we seldom think about. We live in a culture which thinks that almost all fear is bad, especially a fear of God. However, as we engage with our lost friends who don’t have this particular blessing, we believers —

13. WE HAVE A PROPER FEAR!

THE BLESSING There is both proper and improper fear. Running out of a cabin in Arizona when you hear a rattling sound makes perfect sense, unless you enjoy an up-close and personal encounter with a rattlesnake! Some fears are groundless; many are life-saving.

THE BIBLE What about a fear of GOD? Many in our culture habitually use God’s name as a curse word, mock those who believe in Jesus, and think there will be no judgment day. The Bible declares such to be fools! We read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and that “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.” (Psalm 19:9). We are told, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19). There is no better place in which we can find refuge than in the God who saved us by His Son’s sacrifice. We are challenged in Psalm 34 that we should “Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” (v. 9). And the above verses are from only one book of the Bible!

ACTION STEPS 1. What other verses in Scripture can you find which describe biblical fear? Write out one verse each day which shows that a biblical fear is a good thing.
2. Read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (found online) this week. Don’t allow your high school English teacher’s criticism of that sermon deter you from its primary challenge. How does Edwards use the concept of fear to reach the lost?
3. Perhaps ask your unsaved friend, “What are you most afraid of?” Seek, by God’s wisdom, why they do not fear standing before a holy God at the end of life.
PRAYER 4. How do I pray for my unsaved friend? I pray to God the Holy Spirit that my friend would think about the holiness of God and his own need of forgiveness, that somehow he would realize that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), that the Spirit of God would bring conviction of sin to his soul.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #12)

BLESSING #12: The Blessing of a Permanent Joy
Joseph Haydn was once criticized for the gaiety of his church music. He replied: “I cannot help it. I give forth what is in me. When I think of the Divine Being, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle. And as I have a cheerful heart, He will pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully.”

“Count your blessings — Name them one by one . . . “🎶 I sang this song as a young Christian. In thinking about my unsaved friend Mike, I’m counting the blessings I have in Christ. My heart goes out to him — for he doesn’t have these blessings because he doesn’t have the Lord.

I long for my friend to have this next blessing. And I want to remind my family in Christ that —

12. WE HAVE A PERMANENT JOY !

THE BLESSING Joy is quite different from the kind of temporary happiness our world offers. Happiness, as someone has said, depends on happenings. Joy for the believer is solid and lasting and eternal, for it comes from the everlasting God! Dr. Willard S. Krabill has said that “The mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!”

THE BIBLE Jesus had much to say about joy. He promises a complete joy in John 15:11 when He says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  He challenges His followers in John 16 by saying, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (v. 24). He promises that the disciples’ grief will turn to joy in John 16:20 and that no one can take away their joy (v. 22).

Spiritual leaders like C.S. Lewis and John Piper focused much of their ministry on the concept of pursuing joy in the Lord. “Joy is the serious business of heaven,” Lewis said.

He also wrote,
“Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it, or else, for ever and ever, the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”

Pastor John Piper so aptly wrote,
“Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.”

ACTION STEPS 1. List several joy killers that you have experienced recently. These may be circumstances — or people! What steps can you take to not allow those issues or individuals to steal your joy?
2. Unit-reading is reading an entire book of the Bible at one sitting. Unit-read the book of Philippians each day this week, and take a few notes on the topic of joy.
3. “The joyful Christian is an arresting advertisement of the gospel,” someone once said. We all have different personalities. Would your friends and associates describe you as a joyful person? Why or why not?
PRAYER 4. How do I pray for my unsaved friend? First I need to show that joy in Jesus that my friend does not yet have. Second, I need to pray that he would sense a lack of true, biblical joy in his life.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #11)

BLESSING #11: The Blessing of a Defendable Worldview
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, has said, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

God’s Word is filled with blessings that belong only to the saved. My friend Mike is lost and, therefore, doesn’t enjoy any of these benefits. Do I? Am I aware of all that I have “in Christ”?

In thinking about the many blessings which our unsaved friends don’t have, we need to think about another blessing which we followers of Christ have been given and it is this —

11. WE HAVE A DEFENDABLE WORLDVIEW !

THE BLESSING

Not to get too philosophical, but any worldview other than that given by God in His Word is susceptible to attack and eventual overthrow. Wow! What a dogmatic statement! But seriously, if biblical Christianity isn’t true and the Bible isn’t God’s Word, why should we bother following Christ? There are clear and strong evidences of the Bible’s truthfulness; Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection; and the fact that the God of the Bible is real and holy and angry at sin.

THE BIBLE The Bible gives many examples of believers defending the truth of the gospel (see Acts 17 as a great illustration of a philosophically-informed Apostle Paul presenting the truth about Jesus). In fact, Jesus followers are commanded to be ready to give reasons for their faith in their Savior. We read in I Pe. 3:15,  “
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect . . .

Please notice in this passage that the defense of our faith (1) begins in our hearts! We revere, show proper respect for the Lord, when we are prepared to stand up for the truth. Notice also that (2) we are to always be prepared to give an answer. Preparation takes effort and study and intention. Notice as well that (3) we should expect people to ask us about our faith! It’s a lot easier to witness when we are asked about our walk with the Lord. And, lastly, this passage teaches that (4) our attitude (gentleness and respect) are really important to our witness.

ACTION STEPS 1. Our society suffers from what one writer calls “truth decay.” Someone has said that “Apart from blunt truth, our lives sink decadently amid the perfume of hints and suggestions.” Study at least 10 verses on truth (perhaps two per day) that you find in the Scriptures. How might you practically stand for the truth of the gospel?
2. If you’ve been a believer for a while, become friends with someone from a different religion or even a cult. Ask them a lot of questions about their faith and graciously share with them what you know about Jesus’ identity and His being the only way to salvation.
3. Consider offering a group study on a book like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. And make sure some participants aren’t yet believers!
PRAYER 4. How do I pray for my unsaved friend? First of all, I need to understand his present worldview. Then do whatever I can to challenge it in light of the gospel. And, third, I need to pray for God the Holy Spirit to open my friend’s eyes to how he ought to view life and eternity and . . . Jesus.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2022 in blessings

 

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