Guest Post – Gutsy Faith

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Ever know someone, or read about a quality a person has, and think, “I want some of what they have.”

I recently had those thoughts, not in a jealous way, but a “divine gotta have’” way. In my study time I came across a gutsy gal in Mark 5:24-34, the woman with the bleeding condition. Oh I know, when we get to this area of Scripture, due to the topic we may tend to skim fast over it, yet it has amazing lessons for us.

Verse 25 describes this gal as one who had been afflicted for a very long time. She had sought help elsewhere, yet instead of improving, her condition was worsening. I love that in verse 27 “When she heard about Jesus, she came…” One resource claims that she may have traveled some 30 miles to get there.

The story proceeds with, “she came up behind Jesus in the crowd and touched His cloak.” This alone is a gutsy step of faith; she came to Him “in the crowd.” Let’s think about this. She is, as culture and tradition states, ceremonially “unclean” due to her condition. She should, from a distance, declare herself unclean and stay away. But, “she came…”

Out of confident desperation she says, “if I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Many times emphasis can be lost in the translation. The word used here for “if” in the Greek can be rendered “since or because.” May I be so bold to translate it this way, “Due to the fact that because I touched Jesus’ clothes, I WILL be healed.” That is some strong gutsy faith! Verse 29, “…immediately her bleeding stopped!”

Interesting note, the word used in the narrative for her touching Jesus’ garment doesn’t imply she just reached out and flicked her hand across the hem. She GRABBED it! She grabbed that garment so tight that she may have left an imprint of her hand on it. She KNEW, she believed that all it took was to grab His cloak and she WOULD be healed!

As I read through this, I felt the Lord say that I too am (we all are) like this woman at times. We may not have a physical ailment, but we have issues, stuff. We too can be lost in our own affliction and be there a LONG time, seeking help elsewhere. What will it take to bring us to the realization that He will help us? Do we have the faith to come to Him and not stay away? Confidently reach for Him and KNOW He will meet us in our need. It may take some gutsiness on our part, some faith reaching, strong grabbing, and by golly don’t worry about the crowd … just come to Jesus!

Pic of DeDe MoravikDeDe Southwick, is the mother of two wonderful sons and lives outside of Portland, Oregon. She has a degree in Theology, leads women’s bible studies, and has served on the leadership team of her local church. She loves studying God’s Word, gardening, and making her sons laugh. You can read her blog here.

Guest Post – What Can I Do?

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“What can I do?”  It’s a question that’s often raised, either in sincere inquiry or more as a statement of inability. It’s not a lack of ability that usually keeps one from being involved as much as it is a lack of desire. There is no one specific ability or talent that God wants in service to Him, as the talents He has blessed us all with, whatever they may be, all have a place of service in His kingdom. To the congregation in Corinth that exalted certain gifts above others, Paul reminded them of everyone’s importance when he wrote, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1 Cor.12:18). Whether those abilities need maturing, have changed, or diminished with the passing of time, they still are valuable to God and His kingdom and they still can be used to His honor and glory.

So what can we do? Well, for starters, we all can PRAY! Can you think of anything more relevant, more powerful, than approaching the throne of God to seek His help and presence? There is no one greater than our Creator and Sustainer, nothing more significant than petitioning the Father through the Son for our needs, for guidance and direction, for His will to be done.  Paul knew what a source of strength prayer was, as he asked of the Ephesian Christians to be “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

We all can SPEAK WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT! There are times when all of us need to hear a friendly voice, when we need a sympathetic ear.  What help it is to hear from someone who can understand what we’re going through, who can offer support and love, to help whatever we are dealing with be a little easier to bear. With as many people having cell phones in use in so many different ways, surely we can use them for the glory of God and to build up the body of Christ! And while there’s no substitute for the sound of the human voice, text messages, emails, cards, and other communications to let people know we care and are there for them can be greatly appreciated and helpful, too. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).

We all can SPEND TIME IN THE WORD OF GOD! We might find fewer problems in life and more solutions to problems if the spiritual was front and center in our existence. God’s Word goes with us, from being a babe in Christ to maturing in the faith. It addresses our needs from youth through old age. It deals with being single and married, having children and grandchildren, being employed or employing others. It covers every area of life and how to let Christ mold our conduct so we are always in His will. We will find a better quality of life if the Word is in us, and better advice to help others as well. “I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (Psa. 119:15-16).

What can I, you, we all do? Much in every way, according to all God has blessed each one of us to have. It’s not that we can’t, it’s whether we will. And if we will, then what a difference we can make for others, for ourselves, for the world in which we live.  What will you do today for the glory of God, for the work of His kingdom, for the sake of others? “Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please Godas you are doingdo so even more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

rjohnson colorRobert Johnson is a minister in Longview, Texas, where he has been a preacher for over 40 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Biblical Languages, and a Masters is in Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma. He loves sharing the gospel with others and ministering to people’s needs.

Guest Post – Think on These Things

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Occasionally there are some things that may drop into your mind unannounced ― the Should Have, Could Have, and Would Have. As precious as time can be, you can’t spend too much of it worrying about the past (Isaiah 43:18). When these thoughts come to mind, it’s your choice to dwell on them or move on.

At times, your thoughts might remind you of missed opportunities, unsuccessful efforts, or regrets, especially in moments of uncertainty. These negative reminders, no matter how small, can suddenly become an even bigger issue than before. Why? Human nature seems to be more influenced by unfavorable moments because these moments tend to leave a more lasting impression. For instance, a tiny paper cut or a snide remark can have a greater impact on a person’s day than a kind gesture or compliment.

Dwelling on the past will only keep you in the past losing hope for the future. Next time a Should Have, Could Have, or Would Have tries to enter your mind, remember the Been There and Done That and start taking steps forward. Let your mind focus on what God has in store for the days ahead. He has already taken care of yesterday while preparing you for a brighter future. All you have to do is keep your mind on the thoughts that will keep you encouraged. Stay focused on the Lord and He will keep you strengthened and moving forward.

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Revised blogs from Blessings in Blogs: Living Effectively by Genia M. Owens, originally published by Trafford Publishing. © Copyright 2012, www.trafford.com

Genia Owens, author, blog

Genia Owens loves to inspire others through writing. She also enjoys watching a good movie with popcorn, spending time with family and friends, and going on outings with her husband to take photos for their online photography art business – GREO Galleries Unlimited (http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/greo-galleries-unlimited.html).

Guest Post – Are You Growing in Grace and Knowledge?

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

2 Peter 3:18 is an interesting ending to Peter’s last letter to the Christians before he is crucified for the sake of the gospel. Peter tells the people to continue to grow in grace and knowledge. Of all the things he could have ended with, he emphasizes growth.

Growing is an interesting concept. We can gain understanding when we consider our natural growth process. Who looks the same as they did when they were a newborn baby? Growth demands change. Why do we accept the growth pains of a child but consider suffering for Christ a negative thing? Growth occurs in discomfort.

Peter was not someone unfamiliar with change or discomfort. He denied knowing Jesus three times during the time when everyone forsook Jesus in the face of fear. Peter was later crucified for refusing to deny the message of Christ he proclaimed to the world. Peter changed from cowardice to courageous.

Following his failed opportunities to stand up for the living Christ, Jesus sees him out fishing. Jesus calls to this group from afar, and they do not need to test Jesus to see if it is really him. This time they know, unlike the earlier storm in the middle of the night when Peter walked on water until he doubted.

Instantly, Peter jumps overboard. Peter thought he wouldn’t have a chance to see Jesus again after he denied him three times. He couldn’t contain himself and needed to get to Jesus now.

I think Peter halfway expected to run on the water, but rather, this time, he swam to Jesus. And the lengthy swim to find his reconciliation with Christ was so sweet, like a dash for the Olympic gold medal.

You see, Peter wasn’t far away from Christ, but walked daily with Christ. In the midst of his daily walk with Christ, he still needed to change. Peter experienced this truth firsthand; therefore, he explains that we should experience certain growth in our individual lives as we continue to walk with Christ:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. - 2 Peter 1:5-7

This growth is of incredible importance to our walk with Christ. Most of us have heard the phrase, “if you’re not growing, then you’re dying.” Peter explains that if we aren’t experiencing growth, if we are not going through change, then we are not being of use to the Master Jesus Christ. Our knowledge and “faith” is of little importance if we are not growing and seeing these aspects of character increasing in our lives.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. - 2 Peter 1:8-11

Are you seeing the fruit of God’s Spirit show up in your life? Are you changing into more of Christ?

May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. - 2 Peter 1:2

bradandresBrad Andres helps people understand the Bible and maximize their God-given potential for life. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and lives in Sandusky, Ohio with his wife and daughter. To get more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at BradAndres.com, find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or circle him on Google+.

 

Guest Post – Did You Know that Selfie Is in the Bible?

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Pictures and portraits of people have been around throughout history. In time, famous artists started focusing on themselves, painting self-portraits. Rembrant, Van Gogh, de Goya, Renoir and Rockwell – all created selfies long before “selfie” was a trendy word.

What is a selfie? A selfie is a picture of a person, taken by that person. Whether it be the portraits of long ago or the selfies of today, there is, and has been, a narcissistic obsession and love affair with self that can not be denied due to the sheer volume of examples that exist today.

In 2 Timothy 3:2-5 (HCSB), part of the text warns about “self-loving.”

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power.

“Lovers of self” is a translation of the Greek word φίλαυτος philautos. Some of the different bible versions translate φίλαυτος philautos as the following:

2 Timothy 3:2 (CJB) Complete Jewish Bible
self-loving,

2 Timothy 3:2 (NIV) New International Version
lovers of themselves,

2 Timothy 3:2 (AMP) Amplified Bible
lovers of self

2 Timothy 3:2 (KJV) King James Version
lovers of their own selves,

2 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) English Standard Version
be lovers of self,

2 Timothy 3:2 (ISV) International Standard Version
lovers of themselves,

As you can see, the above translations are in agreement as to how the word φίλαυτος philautos should be translated in the text.

In WORDsearch, the Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary states:

5204. φίλαυτος philautos adj

Self-centered, selfish.

Philautos is a compound of the Greek words phileō (5205), “to love” or “to have affection for,” and autos (840), “self.”
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “5204. φίλαυτος.”

Could you imagine Paul just after receiving 40 lashes minus 1 using a mirror to show his back so he could take a selfie of lash marks to show people what he had done for the Kingdom?

Jesus taught just the opposite of these things. He taught us not to promote ourselves. He taught us that our right hand should not even know what our left hand is doing when we were giving. He did not teach us to take a selfie while putting money in the collection plate. He taught us that when we pray, to go into our room, close the door, and pray to our Father in secret.

When one honestly considers the other words used in this warning in 2 Timothy, and when one considers the context of the other verses surrounding this warning, then we can conclude that self-loving is not a good thing. We were bought for a price, and all that we say and do as followers of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) reflects on Him and His Name. Let’s remember that as we go through life, pushing away selfish thoughts and focusing on Jesus.

Bill Bannister writes for Even If…Ministries. You can read more here.

Guest Post – Activity or Accomplishment?

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

When the Crystal Palace Exhibition opened in 1851, people flocked to London’s Hyde Park to see all the marvels current technology provided. One of the greatest marvels then was steam. There were steam plows displayed, along with steam locomotives, steam looms, steam organs, and even a steam cannon. Of all the great exhibits that year, the first prize winner was a steam invention with 7,000 parts. When it was turned on, its pulleys, whistles, bells, and gears made a lot of noise, but ironically, the contraption didn’t do a thing! 7,000 moving parts making a lot of commotion…but having no real practical use.

With the technology-filled era we live in, it’s easy to confuse activity with accomplishment, to be fooled into thinking that the sound of gears and pulleys is the sound of something important being done. Is that true of your life? Are there hundreds, even thousands, of parts spinning, turning, and making a lot of noise in your life, but accomplishing very little in return? To a very busy, yet distracted Martha, Jesus counseled, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). That good part was taking time for Christ and His Word, to penetrate and motivate who she was, and how she should live.

The “contraptions” of our lives may look impressive to others, but what of its substance? God is the final judge, and what you think has substance may dissipate before His searching eyes like steam. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12-13).

rjohnson colorRobert Johnson is a minister in Longview, Texas, where he has been a preacher for over 40 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Biblical Languages, and a Masters is in Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma. He loves sharing the gospel with others and ministering to people’s needs.