Have a Conversation with Your Creator

“I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (Psalm 116:1-2 NLT).

It took me a while, but I finally figured out that this marriage thing is about communication. I discovered that on the days when I had deep, soul-communication with my wife Kay—not “Hi. How are you? I love you. See you later”—our relationship grows. And on those days when we have little or no communication, our relationship decays. A relationship is never standing still. It’s either growing or decaying.

The same is true with God. On the days when you have deep, significant talks with God, your relationship grows. On the days when you have little or no conversation with God, your relationship decays. It’s that simple.

When you really love somebody, you don’t just want to spend time together. You want to talk with that person. Remember when you first fell in love as a teenager and your parents got upset because you were always on the phone? You talked and talked and talked because you were getting to know that person. Communication is how you get to know others.

What do you talk about if you want to express love to God? Anything that you’d talk to your closest friend about: your hopes, your fears, your dreams, your anxieties, the things you’re embarrassed about, the things you’re proud of, the things you’re ashamed of, your goals, your ambitions, your hurts, your cares—every part of your life.

The Bible says in Psalm 116:1-2, “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT).

If you don’t feel close to God because your Christian life has become routine, dull, joyless, and lifeless, there’s a simple remedy: Start talking to God again.

Prayer is not some duty that you have to do. It’s a privilege that you get to do. You get to talk to the Creator of the universe! He’s waiting on you to have a conversation with him so that your relationship can grow.

Bible Translations

Translating the Scriptures is not a simple task. Often, there is not a single word in English that means exactly what a word means in Greek or Hebrew. Words have a range of meanings, and the range of meanings can be much different from one language to another. This requires a degree of interpretation on the part of the translator. Some translations have more interpretation than others.

There are two basic types of Bible translations: formal equivalent (literal, or word for word) and dynamic equivalent (thought for thought). Some versions attempt to bridge the two.

Formal Equivalence

Formal equivalence, also known as literal, or word-for-word, attempts to keep as close as possible to the original languages. The goal is to make a text that is more accurate to the original and still be readable in the English language. They have a high reading grade-level. A formal equivalent doesn’t work as well for idioms and expressions because sometimes the point gets lost in translation. However, formal equivalence is far better for serious study because of the accuracy of words and grammar.

Some basic literal translations include:

  • KJV (King James Version)
  • NKJV (New King James Version)
  • NASB (New American Standard Bible)
  • ESV (English Standard Version)
  • NRSV (New Revised Standard Version)

Dynamic Equivalence

Dynamic equivalence, also known as functional equivalence, or thought-for-thought, attempts to translate the thought of the passage rather than the actual words. This allows more room for interpretation by the translators. The goal is to make a readable text, resulting in a lower reading grade-level. They can be better for expressions and idioms, but they’re not as good for word studies because the words and grammar may have been changed to make the text more readable.

Thought for thought translations include:

  • NIV (New International Version)
  • NLT (New Living Translation)
  • NET (New English Translation)
  • HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

The NIV, NET, and HCSB attempt to combine elements of both types of translations. The HCSB attempts to remain as literal as possible by only using thought-for-though translation where necessary for clarification. Holman calls it an optimal equivalent.

Paraphrase

Another type of Bible, though not actually a translation, is the paraphrase. This includes The Message and the Living Bible. Paraphrases are not translations and are not based on manuscripts. An example of making a paraphrase might be taking the NIV and rephrasing it in your own words. There’s nothing wrong with reading a paraphrase, but I personally avoid them. I would not use them in place of an actual translation. They might be useful as commentaries.

Choosing a Bible Translation

No translation is perfect. The fact that it’s a translation requires there to be a degree of interpretation, and no one’s interpretation is perfect. Every translation ever published has gone through revisions to make them better and correct mistakes. I won’t say that every translation is good. Some are better than others.

A Bible translation should be chosen according to its purpose. Is the Bible for general reading or serious study?

Study

For Bible study, I recommend a literal translation because of their accuracy. The KJV, NKJV, NASB, and ESV are all good choices. I use the KJV (just my personal preference). My next favorites are the NKJV and ESV because they retain accuracy and readability.

Reading

Many feel that the dynamic equivalence, such as NIV and NLT, are better suited for general reading. I also use a formal equivalence for reading. I even recommend reading the KJV for its literary style. I realize that not everyone enjoys the Shakespearean-style language, but I do believe it is worthy of study and reading considering its popularity and effect on the English language.

Translation Overview

This is a short summary of some of the major translations in use today, with a sample from 2 Timothy.

KJV

The KJV is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. There’s a good reason it’s been popular for that long. It’s had a major impact on the English language and is very elegant in its style. It has gone through several revisions. Probably the most popular edition is 1769. It is a literal translation and is the translation I use most for reading, memorization, and study.

2Ti 2:15 KJV Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 KJV All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

NKJV

The NKJV from Nelson publishers is an update to the KJV. It contains manuscript notes that show textual variations. While updating the text, other manuscripts were taken into consideration. It is also a literal translation and is the 2nd translation I use for reading, memorization, and study.

2Ti 2:15 NKJ Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 NKJ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

NRSV

The NRSV is an update of the RSV, which itself is an update to the KJV. The NRSV uses newer manuscript discoveries but also uses exegetical insights and linguistic theories, which tend to make it less accurate because of theological bias. It is also a literal translation.

2Ti 2:15 NRSV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 NRSV All scripture is inspired by God and is* useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

NASB

The NASB is an update to the ASV, which is also a revision of the KJV. The NASB is less archaic and more theologically conservative but is so literal that it feels wooden. It is perhaps the most literal modern translation. It’s more literal than the KJV, which makes it good for study, but perhaps not as good for reading and memorization.

2Ti 2:15 NAS Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 NAS All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

ESV

The ESV is essentially a revision of the RSV, which retains its KJV heritage. It attempts to be a new translation but still uses theological terms in the same way that the KJV does (such as justification, sanctification, etc.). It is more literal than the KJV and still maintains its literary excellence, making it a great choice for reading, memorization, and study. I use it along with my KJV and NKJV.

2Ti 2:15 ESV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

NIV

The NIV contains elements of word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation. It is probably the most popular translation today. Although translators have taken some liberties, it is conservative in its translation. It can sometimes be too simple, causing it to not be as accurate as it could have been. It is a good translation for reading and study, although I prefer a more literal translation for study.

2Ti 2:15 NIV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

NLT

The NLT is a functional equivalent translation. The translators have gone to great lengths to convey the thoughts of the writers, and it is therefore highly interpretive by the translators. It is a useful translation for reading, but I would prefer a literal translation for study.

2Ti 2:15 NLT Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 NLT All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

HCSB

The HCSB by Homan Publishers uses a translation theory they call ‘optimal equivalence’. They use a literal translation where possible, and use thought-for-thought where it is needed to clarify the text. It uses new manuscript discoveries and is a good choice for study and reading.

2Ti 2:15 HCSB Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

2Ti 3:16-17 HCSB All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

NET

The NET is a cross between formal and dynamic equivalence. It attempts to be the most accurate, the most readable, and elegant at the same time. It is a good choice for reading and study.

2Ti 2:15 NET Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.

2Ti 3:16-17 NET Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

Conclusion

There are many other translations in use today, but this is just a simple overview. I recommend owning (and using) more than one translation. I try to stay close to the literal side of translations. I use several translations including KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NIV.

Avoid translations that were written by certain groups in order to prove their own doctrines. These translations are skewed toward theological biases even at the expense of accurate translation.

Tough Love

“For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

As much as it is important to love our kids and tell them how much we love them, we must also discipline our kids. That is our responsibility as parents.

A trend nowadays is to be your child’s friend, not their parent. But they don’t need you to be their best friend. They need parental guidance, counsel, and discipline—only you can give that. Only you can be Mom or Dad. They may not like it now but they will thank you later for being a parent and doing what a parent ought to do.

When you discipline your children you actually reflect God’s character. God is love. And because He is love, He disciplines us. The Lord says that whom He loves He will discipline (Revelation 3:19). Hebrews 12 says, “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (verses 10–11 NLT).

Because God loves us, He disciplines us. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you” (NKJV). If you can go and sin without any concern, remorse, or guilt, that would indicate to me you are not even God’s child. God makes it hard for you to disobey because He is showing you how much He loves you.

If you don’t discipline your children, you don’t show them how much you love them—or how much God loves them.

Is Fear Holding You Back

“For we are Gods handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 ).

What keeps you from developing your full potential? Fear. What keeps you from becoming all God wants you to be? Fear. What keeps you from building a legacy that will last into eternity? Fear.

There are three kinds of fear that will keep you from developing your talents and accomplishing your purpose.

Self-doubt. It keeps people locked in a prison and unable to develop their potential. This is actually the fear of failure. But failure doesn’t have to be fatal! In fact, the fear of failure is far worse than failure itself. Failure actually can be a good thing. Failure is how you learn what doesn’t work. And it’s how you grow.
Don’t let self-doubt keep you down. I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than attempt to do nothing and succeed.

Self-consciousness. If you worry about what other people think, nothing will ever get done in your life. You just have to do what God tells you to do. That’s all you’re accountable for. You’re not called to be the best in the world. You’re called to be the best that God made you to be.
Self-pity. There were two disciples who had spectacular failures. Peter and Judas both denied Jesus in clutch time, but each responded to his failure differently. Judas went out and had a pity party and then hung himself. Peter, on the other hand, wept bitterly, grieved about it, repented, asked God to forgive him, picked himself up, and went back to serving God. And just a few weeks later, Peter spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and 3,000 people became believers—and the church was born. Of all the people God could have used to start the church, he used the guy with the biggest failure. That means there’s room for you in the family of God!
Instead of living in fear, believe what God says about you in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”

Into His Presence

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Corinthians 15:52

According to the Bible, there is a generation that will not see death. Instead, they will be removed from the face of the earth in what is known as the rapture of the church. This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24 when He said, “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left” (verses 40–41).

Instantaneously, millions of believers from around the globe will be caught up into God’s presence. Is this event spoken of elsewhere in the Scriptures? Yes, it is. Speaking of the same event, 1 Corinthians 15:51–53 says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (NKJV).

In John 14:2–3 Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (NKJV).

The term used to describe Jesus receiving us to Himself could be translated “to seize by force.” That is exactly what He will do. Jesus will return and take His people into His presence.

Christ is coming for His church. He is waiting for those final people to come into His kingdom. And when the time is just right, Christ will return again to this earth.

How Hardship Can Be Helpful

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

1 John 1:8

Imagine if God were to say to someone, “In the coming year, I’ve got you covered. I’m going to give you more money than you can spend in a year, so you don’t have to worry about finances. You’re going to have perfect health. You will not have one conflict or a single problem.”

When do you think God would hear from that person next? Probably a year later.

Because challenges come our way, hardships come our way, and needs come our way, we become dependent on God. The very things we don’t like actually can be things that help us.

Pain comes our way in life and brings us to God, who gives us the solution to our pain. Pain can be the tool that brings us to see our real need for Him. We don’t like the pain, but it gets us to the One who can remove it.

When we come to the Lord and have sin in our lives, He says, “Here’s what you need to do. You need to confess your sin.” As 1 John 1:9 tells us, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (NLT). Confess is a word that means “to agree.”

We agree with God and see our sin for what it is. We don’t make excuses for it. We don’t rationalize it. We own it. We take responsibility.

There are a lot of ways sin can infiltrate our lives, and that’s why we need to confess our sins on a regular basis. The more we grow spiritually, the more we’ll realize that we need to grow spiritually. And the more we see of Jesus, the more we see how unlike Jesus we are.

What Happens When You Do What You Know Is Wrong?

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).

The Bible says in Proverbs 10:9, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out”.. You will be found out! So when making decisions, you need the integrity test.

The test of integrity is that your public life and your private life match—what’s in your heart and what’s in your life are the same thing. You ask yourself, “Would I want everyone to know about this decision that I’m making?” The truth is, when it comes to integrity, even if you can fool everyone else, you can’t fool yourself. And if you violate your own conscience, you have to pay for that.

Sometimes we know we’re about to do the wrong thing. We know we shouldn’t do it, but this thought comes to our mind: “I know I’m doing the wrong thing, but I’m going to go ahead and do it because I know God is a forgiving God.”

Do you think you can do something that God says is wrong and not have consequences in your life? That’s the very reason he doesn’t want you to make that decision—because he loves you, not because he wants to keep you from having fun. God knows there are consequences to every decision. He knows every bad decision leaves scars in your life. And he wants better for you.

Does this mean that God does not forgive us for the wrong things we do? Of course he forgives us. He’s a forgiving and gracious God. But that forgiveness does not free us from the pain and the consequences that come from bad decisions. You can be forgiven and still have regrets. You can be forgiven and still face pain. You can be forgiven and still have a broken relationship.

Romans 14:14 says, “If someone believes it is wrong, then he shouldn’t do it because for him it is wrong” (TLB). This verse simply says that when in doubt, don’t. It’s a violation of the integrity test. Whatever is not from faith in our lives is sin.

Good Decisions Always Agree with God’s Word

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).

When you need to make a decision, the first and ideal test is this: “Is my decision in harmony with God’s Word?”

You have to decide what’s going to be your ultimate authority in life. It really boils down to this choice: God’s Word or the world. Are you going to base your decisions on what God says or what other people say?

If you base your life on popular opinion, you’re always going to be out of date, because it changes every day. What was “in” yesterday will not be “in” today, and what’s “in” today will not be “in” tomorrow. If you base your life on popular culture, political correctness, or opinion polls, you will struggle because you’re building on a shifting foundation!

On the other hand, if you base your life on God’s Word, the truth never changes. Truth is always true. So if God says something was wrong 10,000 years ago, it was also wrong 500 years ago, it’s wrong today, and it will be wrong 1,000 years from today. I don’t care what opinion polls and political correctness and the media say. If God says it’s wrong, it’s wrong. It always has been, and it always will be. If God says it’s right, it will always be right. That is a solid foundation!

God has set up the universe with certain laws—physical, moral, and spiritual. God built the universe around these laws because they’re all for your benefit. When you cooperate with the principles in this universe, you succeed. If you reject, disobey, ignore, and rebel against God’s principles, you’re the one who gets hurt.

You don’t ever break God’s laws. They break you! If I go up on top of a building and jump off, I don’t break the law of gravity. It breaks me. The same is true with moral laws and spiritual laws. You cannot just thumb your nose at God and get away with it. There’s inevitably a reckoning. Anytime you violate God’s principles, you’re asking for trouble.

With all this in mind, you can be confident in your decision. If God says it’s okay, then you do it. If God says no, then you don’t do it.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105)

The Summary Of Revelation

The literary genres of the book of Revelation are an Apocalypse, a Prophecy, and an Epistle (or Letter). The Disciple/Apostle John, who followed Jesus Christ and witnessed His crucifixion, authored it.

John wrote Revelation while a prisoner on the Island of Patmos, approximately 85-95 A.D. Its purpose is to give encouragement and hope for all Christians to continue watching for the return and triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also is to warn of the Final Judgment that nonbelievers will endure on that Last Day.

John wrote that Revelation is special because, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (1:3).

•    In chapters 1-3, John describes the details of the setting as he received this revelation (unveiling of truth). John was elderly and imprisoned on the Island of Patmos when he received an apocalyptic vision from an angel. With this vision he was instructed to write to seven churches about what he had seen. Revelation 1:19, describes a basic outline of the entire letter written by John, “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things” this is the pattern that is followed by John. He describes of the seven churches their qualities and/or their weaknesses and failings (such as Sardis and Laodicea).

•    In chapters 4-20, John depicts what he sees in his vision about the Spiritual Realm. He describes Jesus Christ as the “Slain Lamb” who is the only one able to open the book with 7 seals. Aside from the 5th seal, each will bring a judgment upon the populace of the Earth. The 7th seal introduces 7 angels who each possess 7 trumpets, another series of daunting judgments. Incredibly, after the 6th trumpet in which 1/3 of the Earth’s population is killed, John claims, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, DID NOT REPENT’ (9:20).

After this, John receives visions of which include the antichrist and Satan who is aware of his looming end. Next, John describes 7 more angles that will each carry 7 bowls of plagues to be poured onto the Earth. Again, amazingly, while hail is raining from heaven during the 7th plague, humankind does not repent but instead,“men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe” (16:21).

These fierce plagues demonstrate the wrath of God’s holy judgment upon the still wicked Earth.

John describes the eternality of Hell, the final resting place of the unbelieving. In 19:20, the antichrist and the false prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire. One thousand years later after the millennium reign of Jesus Christ in 20:10, the devil is also cast into the Lake of Fire. We also see that the antichrist and the false prophet are still in torment, “day and night forever and ever” because John describes Hell as an eternal place of conscious torment.

• Finally, in chapters 21-22, John writes the last of the cannon of Scripture. Here he describes the New Heaven and the New Earth. In it is the holy city of New Jerusalem. There will no longer be any crying or tears, pain, mourning, or death because “the first things have passed away” (21:1). Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter this place to live eternally with Jesus Christ who sits on His throne. “Come.”And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (22:17).

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (22:12-13).

Summary Of Jude

The book of Jude is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). The author is Jude the brother of James, both of who are half-brothers of Jesus Christ. Jude wrote it circa 75 A.D. The purpose of this book is to address false teachings and to illustrate a contrast between the error of heresy and the truth of Jesus Christ. Jude consists of only one chapter.

•    In verses 1- 16, Jude identifies himself and quickly delves into the dilemma of false teachings. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed” (vs. 4), heresy was obviously seeping into the region, disturbing the churches, and deceiving believers. He begins by illustrating similarities between false teachers and condemned individuals from the Old Testament citing Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

•    Verses 17-25, Jude urges Christians to “remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ”(vs. 17). He was referring to all of the apostles and disciples in the past, which had warned about false teachers and prophets that were coming to deceive. His advice is to focus on Jesus Christ and to watch out for each other so that no one is misled into error.

Those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are secure in salvation, not by their own good deeds, because no one is good enough to do that, but believers are secure by the vicarious work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is only by, “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (vs. 24-25).

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