Posts Tagged ‘theology’

“…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 NIV)

Picture a large meadow of yellow flowers bowing to a gentle breeze. This golden pond of beauty is densely populated on the outer edges by trees that stand stoic throughout the course of time. The summer sun hangs lazily alone in the afternoon sky against a canvass of aqua blue. The air is punctuated periodically by God’s curious creatures that fly about on cue — assuring the casual observer that life is more than worrying about the next event.

But that’s not all.

The sound of a rushing river nearby captures the essence of energy as it follows its familiar path toward the open sea. All marvel at its ability to remain constant. Nothing stops its flow. Its strength is undeniable. Its will, undeterred. The river beckons those who are thirsty to partake of its power to quench. For the filthy, it calls them to bathe in its capacity to cleanse. For everyone who seeks healing, it invites them to take a leap of faith and jump in.

Similarly, Father thank you for being the ever-present river of life in our lives. May the richness of your presence flow from us to others so that they may see your mercy and grace. May those who feel discouraged or depressed find supernatural strength in your heavenly reservoir of love.

The story of the Exodus is a story of miracles – but in the beginning when Moses first showed up in front of Pharaoh to deliver the people of Israel from 400 years of slavery, the Israelites were really tempted and became a little ticked off because of the initial hardships that they had to go through.

Exodus 5:18-23 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.” The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O LORD, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

The very people that Moses had tried to help were now leveling their anger at Moses because all of a sudden they were told that they would have to gather their own straw for making bricks. They were concerned about offending their slave-masters, fearing that they would kill them.

The Israelites were so used to their slavery that they didn’t want their lives disrupted even though theirt freedom was at hand. Resigned to this miserable life, they absolutely failed to apprehend or appreciate the freedom that was soon approaching. Yes, there was a temporary price: increased hardship and great pressure would set the stage for their final deliverance.

The same can happen to us. It has often been said “The darkest night is just before the dawn”…

Maybe the enemy senses his impending defeat and pulls out all the stops to keep it from happening. Maybe the Lord loves a good story with a really dramatic and climactic ending and great glory for His Name…in any case –

Don’t let yourself remain accustomed to any form of bondage – look for and believe for the freedom that God has given us through His Son. Expect a life of great victory over sin and demonic oppression – Why? Because that is His promise to us!

Are you needing to be uplifted and comforted today? These Bible verses about Hope will do just that for you. Take a deep breath and read through them slowly. We all too  often rush through things in life ( I am  guilty of this myself) and miss what God is telling us. God led you to these versestoday for a reason, don’t let them go unread!

Hope of A Future Bible Verses

Proverbs 24:20 for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Hope of Eternal Life and Salvation

Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies,promised before the ages began

Titus 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

1 Peter 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Hope from the Book of Romans

Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Hope in the Midst of a Crisis Verses

Psalm 27:4-5 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.  For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

Mark 5:35-36  While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Reasons To Hope Quotes

Numbers 23:19  God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Example of Hope in the Bible

    • Job

 Job 13:15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.

Hope and Faith Bible Verse

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

C.S. Lewis Quotes on Hoping For Something More

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.

“At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

imagesJeremiah lived 600 years before Christ. Jacob’s descendants had divided into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Many of the people served idols and were immoral.

God called Jeremiah to make His message known. He was a true prophet of God. There were also many false prophets in the land, who told the people what they wanted to hear. In Jeremiah, chapter 23, God warns the people not to listen to false prophets. And He warns the false prophets, that He will punish them. From this chapter we learn important truths that can help us avoid false teachers today.

Peter warns Christians of all ages: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways” (2 Peter 2:1,2).

There were false prophets in the Old Testament, there will be false teachers among us as well.

Jesus warned: “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). The fact that there are many false teachers among us and that many people listen to them is simply a fulfillment of the word of Christ.

He also said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). False teachers are false not only in doctrine but also in their appearance. They pretend to be something they are not. On the inside they are vicious wolves who kill and scatter the sheep. But they wear a sheepskin to trick the sheep.

Paul told the elders at Ephesus: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29,30).

John warned: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

These warnings of Christ and His apostles would be futile if there were no way to distinguish between those who speak the truth and those who teach error.

When one considers the thousands of preachers and priests in the world, it is obvious that most of them are not speaking for God because they teach conflicting things.

One man I baptized started reading the Bible because different priests in his own church were teaching different things.

His reaction was: “Since the priests say different things, I will read the Bible for myself. What it says will certainly be right.” The first time I met him he said: “I don’t know where it will lead me, but I have decided to do what the Bible says.” I thought, “If he really means that, he will become a Christian.” And he did. Have we decided to do what the Bible says?

God has given us the Holy Scriptures so we can test the spirits.

What does God think about false teachers? “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” (Jeremiah 23:1). They will be punished for their evil deeds: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 23:2).

In verses 9 and 10 Jeremiah laments the terrible state of the land “because of the prophets.” “For both prophet and priest are profane” (verse 11). Profane means ‘secular’, ‘not holy’.

The prophets and priests were supposed to be spiritual and holy. Instead, they were secular.

A tourist visiting a monastery in Italy was astounded by a sign in botched English: “We harbor all kinds of diseases and have no respect for religion. Please donate some small arms for our hospital.”

False teachers do indeed harbor all kinds of spiritual diseases and have no respect for true religion.

A preacher was invited to work with a small church of Christ in a mission area. He replied that he was willing to come if he could have a big salary and a house that was nice enough to impress the business people of the community.

Beware of false prophets, preachers and priests. They are more concerned about worldly things than spiritual values. Jesus said to the religious leaders: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.” … “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25 and 28).

In Jeremiah 23, God says that He will bring disaster on the false prophets. The prophets of the northern kingdom caused Israel to err through idol worship. (Do some religious leaders today encourage people to bow down before images?)

Of the prophets in the southern kingdom, God says: “Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:14).

False teachers strengthen the hands of evildoers. This is explained in verse 17: “They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace” ‘; and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ”

This explains why false teachers are so popular! They are politically correct. They go along with the times. They adapt their message so it will not offend society. They tell people what they want to hear.

Are people who follow their own heart in our time told by some religious leaders that no evil will come upon them? Do some religious leaders condone the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah? Do some preachers say that no evil will come upon those who Jesus says commit adultery because of divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:31,32; 19:9)?

Beware of false prophets, preachers and priests who tickle the itching ears of evildoers (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

“For from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land” (Jeremiah 23:15). They were profane themselves, and profaneness spread from them to the whole country. We live in a secular society. We must be careful that we do not become a secular church by listening to bootlicking false teachers.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:16). False teachers tell you what they think, rather than what God says.

Because of the neglect of the false prophets, the people did not repent: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings” (Jeremiah 23:21,22).

We have been warned. We must distinguish between what comes from God and what comes from man: “ ‘The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the Lord. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’ ” (Jeremiah 23:28,29).

If a man has a dream and wants to tell it, ok, but he should not claim that it came from God. Man’s word is chaff. God’s word is nutritious grain. They who have God’s word must speak it faithfully. It is powerful, like a burning fire and a hammer that pulverizes rocks.

Peter said: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).

How can we distinguish between the word of man and the word of God? Through Isaiah, God commanded the people: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). We recognize false teachers by comparing what they say with the word of God.

There are false teachers among us, just like there were false prophets in the Old Testament. Do not listen to them. False teachers are secular, more concerned about popularity than purity. Their profaneness spreads like cancer. False teachers strengthen the hands of evildoers, comforting them in their sin rather than calling them to repentance. God has given us the Scriptures so we can know the difference between the word of man and the word of God. “To the law and to the testimony!” Beware of false teachers.

imagesAtheism is the view that God does not exist. Atheism is not a new development. Psalm 14:1, written by David around 1000 B.C., mentions atheism: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Recent statistics show an increasing number of people claiming to be atheists, up to 10 percent of people worldwide. So why are more and more people becoming atheists? Is atheism truly the logical position atheists claim it to be?

Why does atheism even exist? Why doesn’t God simply reveal Himself to people, proving that He exists? Surely if God would just appear, the thinking goes, everyone would believe in Him! The problem here is that it is not God’s desire to just convince people that He exists. It is God’s desire for people to believe in Him by faith (2 Peter 3:9) and accept by faith His gift of salvation (John 3:16). God clearly demonstrated His existence many times in the Old Testament (Genesis 6-9; Exodus 14:21-22; 1 Kings 18:19-31). Did the people believe that God exists? Yes. Did they turn from their evil ways and obey God? No. If a person is not willing to accept God’s existence by faith, then he/she is definitely not ready to accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s desire is for people to become Christians, not just theists (those who believe God exists).

The Bible tells us that God’s existence must be accepted by faith. Hebrews 11:6 declares, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” The Bible reminds us that we are blessed when we believe and trust in God by faith: “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).

The existence of God must be accepted by faith, but this does not mean belief in God is illogical. There are many good arguments for the existence of God. The Bible teaches that God’s existence is clearly seen in the universe (Psalm 19:1-4), in nature (Romans 1:18-22), and in our own hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). With all that said, the existence of God cannot be proven; it must be accepted by faith.

At the same time, it takes just as much faith to believe in atheism. To make the absolute statement “God does not exist” is to make a claim of knowing absolutely everything there is to know about everything and of having been everywhere in the universe and having witnessed everything there is to be seen. Of course, no atheist would make these claims. However, that is essentially what they are claiming when they state that God absolutely does not exist. Atheists cannot prove that God does not, for example, live in the center of the sun, or beneath the clouds of Jupiter, or in some distant nebula. Since those places are beyond our capacity to observe, it cannot be proven that God does not exist. It takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a theist.

Atheism cannot be proven, and God’s existence must be accepted by faith. Obviously, Christians believe strongly that God exists, and admit that God’s existence is a matter of faith. At the same time, we reject the idea that belief in God is illogical. We believe that God’s existence can be clearly seen, keenly sensed, and proven to be philosophically and scientifically necessary. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

The troubles of this world are cold and relentless. It’s not easy to stay so focused on heaven that we are being bombarded with the problems of earthly life. We’re commanded, of course, to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col. 3:2), but even the most committed believer will testify that earthly trials sometimes obscure the heavenly perspective.

We worry. We grieve. We stumble. We strain under the toil of our daily labors. We feel the guilt of our fallen condition. Meanwhile, we are assaulted with troubles of all kinds. Those are just a few of the many worldly burdens that  keep our thoughts from rising to heaven.

And yet we are commanded repeatedly to “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:1). We are instructed to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). We can’t allow the burdens of this life to divert our hearts from heaven.

How is that possible? When the load weighs us down and the troubles become too much for one person to bear, pie-in-the-sky sentiments can sound very far away.

But that is precisely why the church is so important. It is our duty as believers to help bear each others burdens (Gal. 6:2). When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that should be something every Christian WANTS to do.

Of course, that concept is contrary to the thoughts of our culture, with secular society’s tendency to focus on ourselves. Our generation has developed an unhealthy obsession with entertainment; we are daily bombarded with a bunch of trivial diversions; and we tend to interact with one another in sound-bites or through faceless media. We live in crowded cities and over-populated neighborhoods; yet most individuals are more isolated than ever.

And let’s be honest — Most churches nowadays often imitate the culture exactly where we most need to confront and contradict its influence. As churches seek to become bigger, flashier, and more technologically savvy, they usually tend to become more cold and impersonal. Contemporary churches sometimes even seem to encourage the “me first” agenda of self-love rather than the “one another” commands of Scripture. As a result, we don’t bear one another’s burdens like we should.

Paul made this duty a high priority. It was the centerpiece of his sermons to the Galatian churches. The first half (or more) of Galatians is a defense of  faith and a series of arguments against the false teaching that threatened to place those churches in bondage to the Law. In Galatians 5:14 he reminded them: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

How is that love best shown? “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2).

Do you want to fulfill the moral requirements of the Law? Love your neighbor. How do you love him? By bearing his burdens.

It’s interesting that Paul would emphasize this theme in an epistle written to confront people who were falling into legalism. It’s as if he were saying, “You want to observe a law? Let it be the law of Christ. If you have to impose burdens on yourselves, let it be through acts of love toward your neighbor.”

If you will do that faithfully, your own burden won’t seem so heavy. Best of all, you will find it easier to keep your focus heavenward, regardless of the trials you suffer in this life.

618-01836862tHave you ever felt as though you couldn’t hear the Lord‘s voice if He were next to you shouting your name?  Have you been, or are you now in, a period of spiritual dryness?  If you have had a spiritually dry time and are now past it, then praise God.  If, however, you are in the midst of one, then maybe this can help you.

First of all, it isn’t necessarily bad to be in a spiritually dry place — unless it is because of sin.  If we commit a sin that we know the Lord wants us to abandon, then He often withholds His fellowship from us.  We sense a distance between the Lord and ourselves, and it hurts.  Of course, this does not mean that the Lord is abandoning us, nor does it mean He does not love us.  If anything, it is a demonstration of His love to let us feel broken fellowship since it moves us to repentance.

On the other hand, spiritual dryness can be a specific time that the Lord wants us to go through as a time of testing and of preparation.  The Lord will allow us to be tested into order to refine our faith.  Think about it.  Do we stay Christians because of the feeling of fellowship we have with the Lord or is it because we trust in Jesus, God in flesh (John 1:1,14), as our Savior and Lord (Jude 4)?  We are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) and our assurance of salvation is found by faith, not by feeling.  After all, “The just shall live by faith,” (Hab. 2:4).  Therefore, The Lord can use a spiritually dry time to cause us to examine what and who our faith is in so that we might rest assured in the cross, and not our feelings that can deceive us (Jer. 17:9).

Spiritual dryness can also be a time of preparation.  Most every major person in the Bible that was used mightily of God had to go through a desert time.  This includes Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and Paul.  Being in a place where we are dry, waiting, wanting, praying, examining, etc., is often the proving ground of strength and refinement.  Then, after this time is completed, the thing that we have been prepared for comes upon us.  Sometimes this preparation is for hardship, sorrow, and pain.  Other times it is for blessing, reward, and ministry.  Remember, the Lord has not saved us to be trophies on a shelf.  We are instruments in His hands to be used in the world.  This usage requires that we be able to be used, able to be sent, able to trust the Lord in spite of what we see and feel!  Hence, the time of spiritual dryness that is a time of preparation.

What do you do in a time of spiritual dryness?  First of all, you should ask the Lord to reveal any unconfessed sins of which you have not repented.  If He reveals anything to you, then confess it as sin and repent of it — even if it is a sin you have committed so many times before.  Second, you must read your Word regularly.  Third, you must pray regularly.  And fourth, you must trust the Lord through this.  You must look to Him and remember that He loves you greatly and will never forsake you.  In this, your faith will be perfected, your character improved, your walk strengthened, and you will be prepared for the tasks ahead that the Lord has called you to encounter.

And finally, in the midst of your dryness, offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.  Do not let your feelings rob you of the opportunity to praise and thank God even when the times are not so great.  Remember, it is easy to praise God when things go well.  But the true men and women of Christian character praise God through the trials as well.