I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. -Ezekiel 36:32
(Note: The names and minor details of this story have been changed to protect people’s identities.)
Jose was a drug addict. Although much older now and obviously a different man, his rough, tattooed exterior and muscular build allowed for an easy visual of his former life of crime. By his own admission, he had lived a crazy existence full of violence, quick pleasures, and self-centeredness. Eventually his rebellious ways brought him to jail. It was there God found him. The prison chaplain led Jose to accept Christ and he never looked back. He even went to seminary and began a career in counseling other men who had fallen into the same traps he had.
If we’re being honest, in times of trial, to “rejoice always” as we are commanded seems utterly ridiculous.
Certainly the Lord does not mean we should pretend to be joyful when we are really not. Does he? It doesn’t seem authentic to even seek happiness when trials, temptations, and tragedies are present, let alone to actually be happy in times like these.
So what does Philippians 4:4-7 mean when we are told to “Rejoice in the Lord always”?
When we look at other people’s lives, it’s usually pretty easy to see root of their problems. Your friend can’t commit even though she keeps meeting potentially great partners, and she just can’t figure out why. You know her dad left her when she was young, so it seems obvious to you that her commitment issue is probably a defense mechanism to protect herself from not getting abandoned again. Why can’t she see this?
Detoxing is a medical term often associated with cleansing the body from impure substances. You can detox from anything ranging from sugar to relationship or from chocolate to crack cocaine. While detoxing from sin is not a topic directly found in the Bible, there are certainly many similarities.
Psalm 3:5, Proverbs 20:13
What does the Bible say about sleep? This is an important question considering that anywhere from one-third of our life will be spent on earth with our eyes closed, slumbering away in our beds. That’s a lot of time sleeping! So what does God think about sleep? Can we sleep too much, too little, and how can we use sleep the way God intended?
Sleep, like everything else God has made, is good when it’s used right but also has the potential to be greatly misused.
The short and very sufficient answer to “How can I be saved?” is this: Put your faith in Jesus Christ. If you remember nothing else, remember that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Everyone wants to change in some way or the other. Whether it’s an addiction problem, a chronic rage issue, or a character flaw that is ruining your most significant relationships, there are areas in our lives we want to change but struggle to do so.
And more than this, the Bible makes clear we must change from sinful to holy if we hope to have a true relationship with God. So how can we do this? Certainly we can’t do this in our own power. True change comes only through the power of the gospel of grace. And to be ultra specific, when it comes to actually changing real, tangible things in our lives, the Bible makes clear that only the Holy Spirit can change us.
The Father appoints what he wants done. The Son accomplishes the work of the Father. And the Holy Spirit applies the works of the Son to people. But what specifically does the Holy Spirit change about us? Why should we seek to be filled with the Spirit throughout our whole lives?
Here are seven ways the Holy Spirit changes us.
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?- Psalm 56:8-11 (ESV)
Life can make even the most faithful Christian question, “Doe God still care about me?” If we are to survive on this brutal planet, it will be essential to remember that despite how often life cuts you, God still cares.
“Some wandered in desert wastelands . . . .
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress. (vs4-6)
Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom . . .
for they had rebelled against the words of God . . .
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress. (vs10-14)
Some became fools through their rebellious ways . . .
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress. (vs17-19)
Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the LORD. (vs43)
Is greatness contagious? I think so, along with weakness. Both the splendor and sin of the human spirit are cultivated through the companions with which one invests his time. Who you spend time with is not the only variable in our development, but it is a very crucial one.
Always, when you do a little digging, you will find that those truly admirable were inspired by and (to some degree) sculpted by other great men and women surrounding them. Children whose parents are professional athletes or gifted academically seem to have a greater knack for similar accolades. Sure, one can make a case that it’s all in the genes, but surely this is not the main variable in the equation of greatness.