Is Something Other Than Christ Controlling Your Life?

All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

The Bible is full of wisdom for decision-making. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything”.

When deciding whether to allow something into your life, you can think of this as the Independence Test.

Ask yourself: Could this begin to control and dominate my life? Could it become addicting to me? Could I become dependent on it?

No matter how fun something is, it’s bad for you if it becomes an addiction.

Why is this so important? Because whatever dominates your life eventually becomes your god. The first of God’s Ten Commandments—says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)

God knew how easily you could slip into worshiping other things. He knew you could get addicted to your idols.

What are idols? You likely think of idols as something in the past—maybe little stone statues that people put on a shelf and worshiped. But people still have idols today. Maybe you worship the maker of your car, the label in your clothing, or the corner office in your building.

That’s not to mention all of the things you can become addicted to: Work. Sex. Money. The Internet. The list is endless.

How do you know if you’ve fallen into an addiction? How do you know if something is starting to dominate your life—when you no longer are independent of it? Ask yourself: What do I think about the most? When I’m alone, where does my mind go?

For most of us, it’s hard to be honest about the things that dominate our lives. If you’re thinking, “This is not what I’m addicted to. It couldn’t be that.” Guess what? It’s probably that. That’s probably the thing you’re struggling with.

In another translation of 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to”.

Paul decided not to let anything—other than Christ—control his life. Jesus is the only one that’s worthy of that place in your life, too. Anything else that you put in that place will eventually dominate and ruin your life. But when Christ is in control, he encourages, enables, and empowers you.

The next time you’re deciding whether something is in its proper place in your life, use the Independence Test. Christ is the only one who deserves your dependence.

Is Jesus Angry At Rich People?

When you study the parables of Jesus, you’ll notice that many times Jesus told the stories in response to a question or statement someone was making to him. After all, parables are simply earthly stories with heavenly meanings. The same is true of the parable of the rich fool. Here it is in Luke 12:13-21:

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’ And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

When I read this, the first thought that popped into my head was “Ouch!” These were some harsh words. What is important however is to look at this in context. With that in mind, I want to divide this parable into 2 thought groups. What Jesus is not saying, and what Jesus is saying.

What Jesus Is Not Saying

1. There is nothing sinful about acquiring wealth.

Money or wealth alone is not sinful. In fact, there is nothing wrong if you have money. Money or wealth does not determine how holy you are, neither is it a sign that God is with you or for you. The amount of money or possessions you have is not an indicator of whether God is pleased with you or not. After all, the sun rises on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

2. There is nothing wrong with saving for your future.

We live in a day and age where in order to retire from working, you have to save and plan for your future. You work today and save some of what you earn so that one day you can retire from work. This is perfectly ok and Jesus is not saying don’t do that.

3. You must work until you die and can never stop to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This man had clearly done well for himself. He had an abundant crop which means he had to work hard to produce that crop. It is very rare to get great results from sloppy or lazy work. This man was probably diligent and disciplined and put in the time and effort required to get a harvest of that size.

In fact, if I was an employer, I might want this type of worker. When you work hard God has no problem with you enjoying the fruits of your labor. Luke 10:7 reminds us that the worker deserves his wages. This man had every right to benefit from the work he had done. So do you. If you work hard there is nothing wrong with taking some time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Take a vacation. Enjoy a good meal. Go to a Broadway show. Do something fun. It’s ok and God is perfectly fine with that.

With that being said, let’s now turn our attention to what Jesus is saying in this parable to bring some more truths to light.

What Jesus Is Saying

1. Be careful about greed.

As we stated earlier, Jesus had no problem with the man’s abundance. He had a problem with the man’s greed. Greed is one of those deceptive things because the man who has thinks he never has enough. Notice these two Scriptures:

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

The problem this man faced was one of idolatry. His greed led him to put his trust and his worship into the amount or abundance of his possessions. He worshipped his wealth and that was one of his problems. So be careful about greed.

2. Money is deceptive.

One of the challenging things about having lots of money is that your wealth can create a false sense of security. It can blur the lines, giving you either a sense of entitlement or causing you not to recognize your need of God.

This man thought he had everything he needed in this life. However, in his thinking he forgot that what we see is temporary, what is unseen is eternal. His money blinded him to the reality of preparing for eternity. In other words, don’t just plan for life on this earth, make sure you are planning for your eternity.

3. Don’t be a hoarder.

Part of this man’s problem was that he had more than enough. He had so much that he ran out of room to store all that he had. At this point you might think he would say, I have more than I will ever need, who can I help with my abundance. Nope that’s not what he said. His answer was to build bigger barns.

His answer showed the selfish nature of his heart. He was only interested in his own blessing. It is important to recognize that when God blesses you, it’s not so you can keep it all to yourself. He blesses you so you can bless others. This man clearly forgot that.

4. Recognize your source.

This man thought that his abundance was simply a result of the work of his hands. He was blessed because he did the work. While the truth of him doing the work may be evident, he forgot that the one who gave him the ability to do the work was God. 

Remember, no matter how great you become at doing anything, your ability to accomplish did not come from you, it came from your creator. Your wisdom, talents, abilities and everything comes from him. He is your source.

5. There’s more to life.

The fascinating words of Jesus reminds us that there is more to this life than how much we have. In this season of life we are in, we are constantly reminded of this. Possessions can be gone in an instant.

The tragedy of this man’s life was that he spent it acquiring possessions. He never got to fully enjoy those possessions because his life ended before he could enjoy them. As you consider life, recognize that how much you have does not determine the quality or enjoyment you will experience in this life.

I remember hearing this quote: A man was praying and asked God to give him all things so he could enjoy life. God said I will give you life so you can enjoy all things. Understand there is more to this life.

To sum up this parable I think it is fitting to use Jesus’ own words from Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I pray today that we would all be rich towards God and store up much treasure in heaven – treasure that you will be able to enjoy for all eternity.

A Prayer To End Covid19

Almighty Father, I come to You today with a prayer that is from my aching heart

The current darkness of illness and death consumes our days.

I am praying for Your promised miracles to be placed in our lives.

I trust in You and know You will deliver us from this crisis.

I lean in the hope that You know what is happening to our world economy and You will restore it.

I am praying and believing that this will end soon.

Turn our lives back to normal with Your miracles.

Grace us with Your supernatural blessings that will help us to be victorious in the aftermath of effects from this crisis.

I pray we are respectful and gracious towards each other.

I pray we encourage each other and show Your love while we are adjusting to our new normal.

I pray we do not let the enemy have a stronghold on this new social distancing.

I pray he does not cause us to become more isolated from each other.

Less friendly and treating others with less love.

That is exactly what he would want.

Help us to rise above this negativity.

Help us to show the evil one that we will not fall into his snares.

We are covered and protected by the blood of Jesus.

Because You will take care of us, You will provide and we will prosper.

Remove all fear from our hearts.

Let us be compassionate.

So many people have said their first prayers.

Some people have taken their first look at You.

New Christians have given You their life.

Praise be to God!

Stabilize us in this new world, and may we be stronger and closer to You because of this crisis.

You are the God of restoration.

You alone are our hope.

You alone will give us a miracle and end this crisis soon.

I declare this prayer over all of my family and friends.

With You God, all things are possible. Amen

Make Your Decisions Using the Light of God’s Word

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

There’s no doubt about it. Today we’re faced with more decisions than ever before. We live in a multiple-choice culture.

And decisions are significant. Sometimes even little decisions are like the hinges that let a giant door swing—they seem so small but can completely change the direction of your life.

Since decisions matter so much, we must be wise in how we make them. The book of Proverbs says: “If you want better insight and discernment . . . learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him . . . He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time” (Proverbs 2:3-5, 9).

How do you listen to God when making a decision? Look at his Word. I like to call this the Ideal Test. Do your decisions and actions line up with God’s will? Are they in harmony with God’s Word?

You have two choices about who your ultimate authority will be: the world or God’s Word—what other people say or what God says.

If you base your decisions on current popular opinion, you’ll always be on shaky ground because culture changes every day. On the other hand, if you base your decisions on God’s Word, you’ll have a solid foundation because his truth never changes.

Recently I went up into the attic of our house. The attic light had burned out. I was walking around in the dark and kept bumping my head. “I need a flashlight,” I thought. Sometimes when you’re making a decision, you may feel like you’re bumping around in the dark. Fortunately, God’s given you a flashlight: the Bible.

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

And when the light of God’s Word makes your choice clear, just obey—even if you don’t understand. I don’t understand electricity, but that doesn’t stop me from turning on lights and watching my television. I don’t understand the physics of internal combustion, but I still drive a car.

You don’t need to understand why God says what he does in the Bible to benefit from it. You just need to obey his instruction and follow his principles. He gives his instructions for your benefit, and you’ll be blessed as a result of following them.

Four Ways God Speaks To You

God does speak—sometimes one way and sometimes another—even though people may not understand it. Job 33:14

God is speaking to you, but are you listening for his voice? Today’s verse says God sometimes speaks one way, sometimes another.

The question to ask is, “How do I tune in so that I can hear him?”

Here are four of the channels that God uses:

1. God speaks to us through the Bible.
It’s your guidebook for life. It shows you the right step to take. That is why you need to read God’s Word every day. If you’re not having a daily quiet time and reading the Bible, God is getting a busy signal when he wants to speak to you. You need to keep a constant connection because God’s will is found in God’s Word.

2. God speaks to us through teachers.
There’s no way I or any other teacher could figure out exactly what to say to meet every need of those we’re teaching. But God knows. So before every service I pray, “God, you know the people and the needs out there. Give me the right things to say.” Somehow, in the way only he can, God uses my teaching and the teaching of other pastors to meet the needs of the people who are listening.

3. God speaks to us through impressions.
There are two extremes to this. One extreme is the rationalist who believes no impression can be from God; it all has to be logical. The other extreme is the mystical belief that every impression is from God. You need to get in the middle and realize that every impression has to match God’s Word.

4. God speaks to us through our circumstances.
If we’re going to live a life of significance, God will make constant course corrections, and one of the things he uses to do that is the circumstances of our lives. When you start listening to God through circumstances, impressions, teachers, or the Bible, he may lead you in ways that you don’t understand.

Hang in there! Following God is not always easy, but it will reap more blessing in your life than you can imagine.

God Is Saying This To You Today…

I want you to think about this today….
YOU are not in control.
I am in control. In complete control.
That should give you some peace.
A sense of relief.
If it doesn’t, you are not trusting Me.
You are not having faith.
You can stop worrying.
It only steals your joy.
You can stop trying so hard to change everything.
You can just rest in Me.
Trust in Me when I tell you…I WILL and AM taking care of you.
What is really cool about that, is that My plan, if you let Me work,
Will be so much better for you.
Sometimes it is beyond your wildest dreams.
I want you to always be aware of the opportunities though that I will send your way.
I will open doors for you, do not try to force doors open, if it is Me, I will open them easily for you.
Seek my guidance.
Seek my promises, and you will hear My voice.
So today, rest in knowing this…
I have your path already planned.
By you forcing it another way, may not work out for you as well.
I am planning your obstacles that will get in your way,
I am working on the curves that lie ahead….
And I can promise you this…
IF you seek Me as your provider, protector and captain
You will succeed.
Do not fear as long as you have Me.

To Gain Insight into God’s Word, Learn to Meditate on It

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

There are so many things you can do to unlock the gifts the Bible offers. You can read Scripture, study it, and memorize it. But you should also meditate on it.

Second Timothy 2:7 says, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this”.

When you reflect on the Bible—when you meditate on it—God gives you more insight into his Word.

What does it mean to meditate? It simply means to think seriously about something. It means you engage your mind.

Wondering how to meditate? If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. Worry is simply negative meditation. When you worry, you take a negative thought and go over and over it in your mind. And the more you worry, the bigger your thought gets.

In meditation, you do the same thing with Scripture: You go over and over a passage of the Bible in your mind. But unlike with worry, meditating on Scripture produces positive results.

One of the ways you can meditate on Scripture is by doing what I call “pronouncing” it. Say a Bible verse aloud over and over again. Each time you say it, emphasize a different word.

Take Philippians 4:13, for example: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. The first time you say the verse, emphasize I. The next time emphasize can. And so on, until you emphasize the last word of the verse.

Each time you say the verse, its meaning will be nuanced in a different way.

Another tool for meditating is a reflection bridge. Beneath every story in the Bible is a timeless principle, and the reflection bridge helps you find it. First, you read the story and ask what it meant when it first happened. Then you ask what timeless principle it’s teaching. Then you personalize it by asking what it means to you today.

The Bible promises tremendous blessings if you spend time meditating on it: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful”(Joshua 1:8)

Take the time now to develop the habit of meditating on God’s Word, and you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

The Bible: Gods Owners Manual For Life

The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.”

2 Timothy 3:17

Having the right equipment is often the difference between success and failure. To insert a screw, a carpenter doesn’t use a knife. When you’re under anesthesia, you don’t want your surgeon using a chainsaw. A climber on Mount Everest won’t use dollar store equipment.

Professionals are picky about using the right equipment as they know it can be dangerous if they aren’t.

Life can be dangerous, too, so it’s essential that you use the right equipment.

One of those pieces of equipment is the Bible. It’s like God’s owner’s manual for your life. Like any good owner’s manual, the Bible gives you instructions and you can consult it when you need help.

Second Timothy 3:17 says, “The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work”

There are four simple reasons you need the Bible:

  1. To help you know God. Nature shows us how God is powerful, creative, and organized, and how he likes variety. But God reveals many other things about himself through the Bible. To know what God is like, we need the Bible.
  2. To teach you the truth. In this age of truth decay, who are you going to trust? Politicians? Twitter? The media? Jesus says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 TLB). When God speaks through the Bible, he offers eternal truth that you can count on.
  3. To show you how to live. The Bible is God’s big instruction book. It includes the guidance you need to make life work.
  4. To give you spiritual strength. God will always give you the power to do what he asks. You’ll find that power in the spiritual truth of his Word.

You never know what the day will bring you. But whatever it is, make sure you’re equipped with the Bible, God’s owner’s manual for life.

Ways To Pray When You Are Overwhelmed

1. Whisper His name.
When you find yourself all prayed out, and feel there is no much left inside. Whisper His name. This is a great way to stay connected.

Whisper His name and listen for his echo in the quiet moments in your day.

God names the stars and He whispers your name.

2. When You Don’t Have Words To Pray, Jesus Is Praying For You.
Your silence will not drive Jesus away. Nothing can separate you from His love. Not even your unrest. He’ll never get tired of you. Sometimes, the greatest prayer we can experience is God’s complete understanding and compassion. His presence.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
– Rom 8:35

3. Too Stressed To Pray, Take Care Of Yourself
Extend yourself the kindness and comfort you so generously give others. Ironically, the times we most need God’s comfort are the times we deprive ourselves of soul-nurturing time.

Instead of layering on guilt, head in the opposite direction. Let God love you through your choices to prioritize taking care of you.

4. When You Are Numb, Invite Jesus Into Your World.
Instead of struggling to reach Jesus, invite Jesus to enter your world.

God uses everything living to speak into our lives. He knows what’s on your heart and the everyday life you are living. God leaves us love notes in that everyday life to let us know: you are God’s living prayer.

Take a walk outside.  Listen to music.  Read a good book.  Have coffee with a friend.

5. When You’re Too Exhausted To Pray, Stop and Rest.
Elijah had done everything he knew to do—even defeating the prophets of Baal.   Yet, his problems did not go away. Stress broke Elijah’s spirit.  In despair, Elijah woke up to find fresh bread baking on hot stones and water—left just for him.

Not only that. God sent an angel — to touch him — twice. God knew Elijah needed physical rejuvenation first — in order to hear His gentle voice, whispering in a gentle breeze.

How and Why You Should Memorize Scriptures

“Remember what Christ taught, and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise.” Colossians 3:16

The Bible is a gift that offers you so much. But like a box full of treasure, it does you no good unless you have the keys to unlock it.

One of the keys to unlocking the Bible is Scripture memorization. Nothing will do more for your Christian life than developing the habit of memorizing Bible verses.

It’s a habit that will assist you in overcoming temptation. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” . Memorizing the Bible helps you to resist temptation.

John 15:7 says that having God’s Word in your heart also leads to answered prayers. It says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” 

Memorizing Scripture also helps you have victory over worry, keeps you encouraged, and develops your prayer life. Having God’s Word memorized makes it easier to counsel and share the Good News of Jesus with other people because you have Bible verses always at the ready.

I’ve heard all the excuses for not memorizing Scripture. People say, “I just can’t memorize.”

The truth is that you remember what’s important to you and the things that you use. So the questions are: Do you value God’s Word enough to commit some verses to memory? Do you read God’s Word often enough that you start to remember it?

Think of all the times during the day that you pick up your smartphone—maybe as you’re waiting in the carpool line, on your lunch break, or sitting on your couch in the evening. What if you spent those times memorizing Scripture instead? In your lifetime, you’d probably memorize several books of the Bible that way.

If you’re new to Scripture memory, start with just one verse a week. Write the verse on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone. Pull it out and look at it several times a day. And when you’re ready to move on to the next verse, keep reviewing the ones you’ve already memorized.

It’s important to get a partner— maybe a friend, coworker, spouse, or child. Say your verses to each other and encourage each other to keep up the habit.

As you memorize the Bible, you’ll find yourself changing for the better: “Remember what Christ taught, and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise” (Colossians 3:16).

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