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A Week to Make You Strong: Day 3

Introduction

The longer you're saved, the better you should know God's Word. Today, we're going to examine how you've been growing in your knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.

Bible Reading

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:12-14)
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1Pe 2:2)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15)

Bible Study

Our first passage makes it clear that your knowledge of God's Word should grow over time. "When for the time," the writer of Hebrews says. You been saved long enough that you should know enough to teach others. What about you? Does your level of Bible knowledge reflect the amount of time you've been saved?

You'll only grow to know the deeper truths of God's Word as you exercise your senses - by consistently studying the Bible. That's how you develop discernment.

Do you desire God's Word, or have your lost your appetite? Peter reminded his readers that they should long for God's Word like a baby cries for mother's milk.

Bible study takes work. It's wonderful work, but it's still work. I worked in an apple orchard right before I joined the Marine Corps. During the harvest, moms often brought their children into the orchard to pick apples. They didn't have any special equipment, no training, no deadlines. They just got what they could reach from the ground and left after a pleasant visit. Most folks study the Bible that way. Thumbing through the pages looking for something sweet and quitting quickly. But a laborer stays at it, looking on every branch, under every leaf, for each ripe piece of fruit.

Conclusion

  • How has your Bible reading and study improved over the year?
  • Are you hungry for the Word of God?
  • When it comes to Bible study, is it a leisure activity, or a labor of love?

Posted by Keith Gardner | | | Comments (0)

A Week to Make You Strong: Day 2

self-evaluation, time management

Introduction

Once you're saved, one of the most important things you can do to live a godly life is to get control of your time. Today, we'll take a look at the importance of time management and the role it plays in being the person God wants you to be.

Bible Reading

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. (Col 4:5)
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psa 90:12)

Bible Study

It's easy to get caught up in day to day life and lose sight of what really matters. And, sadly, the most imporant things may not cry out for attention like the urgent things do. We are called to redeem, to buy back, our time and put it to good use in God's service. If you don't control your time, you don't control your life, and you won't be godly.

How many hour, how many days, have you wasted on activities without eternal value? At the end of your life, will you rejoice or regret the hours you've spent on soap operas, sitcoms and sports? In these evil days, are you wisely doing God's will?

To be a good steward of your time, you'll need to learn how to number your days. Knowing that there are only so many tomorrows will help you live each day wisely. Many folks coast through life on autopilot and are crushed by regret when they get to the end. You can do better by looking down the road and regretting before you waste your life.

Conclusion

  • In what ways are you wasting your time? What do you need to do less of, or stop doing entirely?
  • What important activities are you not devoting enough time to? What can you do to devote more time to these tasks?

Posted by Keith Gardner | | | Comments (0)

A Week to Make You Strong: Day 1

evaluation, new year

Introduction

This series is a public version of something I've been doing privately for years. I do a self-check on my birthday and at the end of the year. It's often a painful process, but I think I'm better off for having done it. I hope the same is true for you.

It's easy to drift in life. We get so caught up in day to day activity that we lose track of were we've been, where we are, and where we're going. This short series is a reset button for your Christian life - something to help you gauge where you are in the important areas of life and get you back on track where you're off.

Bible Reading

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2Pe 3:18)

Bible Study

The point of today's passages is that you are supposed to grow as a Christian. If you're not moving forward, you're losing ground. So, we're going to consider your progress, or lack of progress, as a Christian.

You're supposed to grow in grace. That is, you are supposed to experience more and more of God's help in your life. He wants to answer your prayers, give you victory over sin, make you effective in ministry, so you need to increase in how you let Him help.

You're also supposed to grow in knowledge. That is, you are supposed to get to know God better over time. Your intellectual understanding of the important doctrines of the faith should increase and you should develop a deeper friendship with the Lord.

All of that assusmes, though, that you already have a realtionship with the Lord, so that's where we'll start. Are you saved? Have you ever personally put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior? Without this, nothing else we're going to talk about this week matters. You can give and serve and still be lost. You can go to church and still go to Hell. So, what do you need to know and do to be forgiven of your sins, have God's friendship and a future in Heaven?

  1. Do you know that you are a sinner - guilty before God and unable to do anything on your own to remove that guilt?
    • For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:23)
  2. Do you believe that God's Son, Jesus Christ, took your punishment and died for you on the cross?
    • For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
    • But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)
  3. Do you believe that Jesus not only died for your sins, but rose again from the dead?
    • For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1Co 15:3-4)
    • That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)
  4. Do you trust Jesus Christ, and only Him, to be your Savior?
    • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Joh 3:16)
    • For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Rom 10:13)

If you believe these things, it would be good to tell God so in a prayer like this:

"Father, You're right about me, I am a sinner. I deserve judgment, but I grateful that Your Son, Jesus, took my punishment. I want we He did to count for me - I receive Him as my Savior."

Just that simply, you can receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

  • Have you trusted Christ as your Savior? If not, what is keeping you from becoming a Christian right now?
  • If you are a Christian, have you grown in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in the past year?
  • What could you do today to make progress in your Christian life?

Posted by Keith Gardner | | Self-evaluation | Comments (0)

Portraits From Proverbs (15)

The Strange Woman (5)

Introduction

Today, we'll wrap up our study of the strange woman by looking at a case study Solomon observed.

Bible Reading

Pro 7:6-9 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, (7) And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, (8) Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, (9) In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

Pro 7:10-12 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (11) (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: (12) Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

Pro 7:22-23 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; (23) Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

Pro 7:24-27 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. (25) Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. (26) For she hath down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. (27) Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

A Case Study

Solomon's home was situated in a high part of Jerusalem. From that vantage point, he watched a young man wandering the street at dusk. The first thing to note here is that this simple youth got into trouble by wondering around with nothing to do. David got in trouble under the same circumstances (2Sa 11:2). Be careful about having time on you're hands with nothing to do and no one to whom you are accountable.

Next, notice that the strange woman was lurking on every corner. There are plenty of opportunities to be tempted, so it's important to stay on guard. Avoid enticements. You may think you're strong enough to handle the temptation, but you're not. Samson - the strong man - wasn't, David - the spiritual man - wasn't, Solomon - the wise man - wasn't, and neither are you.

1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

The strange woman takes the initiative in the encounter, sparing the young man any doubts or insecurities. She flatters him and makes him feel special. The young man is taken in by her allures. He is so simple that he gives in without resistance. He has no idea the price he will pay for his decision.

Solomon ends the story with a moral: stay away - stronger men than you have fallen to the strange woman. The price is too high to play games with this kind of temptation.

What About You?

  • Are you being tempted by a strange woman?
  • Are you fleeing or flirting?
  • What do you need to do to avoid falling in to this temptation?

Posted by Keith Gardner | | Portraits from Proverbs | Comments (0)

Portraits From Proverbs (14)

The Strange Woman (4)

Introduction

Yesterday, we looked the many severe warnings Solomon gave his son about the dangers of involvement with a strange woman. That alone should be enough to make you steer clear of her. Today, will look a little deeper at how to avoid falling into sexual temptation.

Bible Reading

Pro 5:1-2 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: (2) That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

Pro 5:7-8 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. (8) Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:

Pro 5:15-19 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. (16) Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. (17) Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. (18) Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (19) Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

Pro 6:23-25 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: (24) To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. (25) Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Pro 7:4-5 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: (5) That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

Pro 23:26-28 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. (27) For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. (28) She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.

Pro 23:31-33 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. (32) At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. (33) Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Victory Over Sexual Temptation

Heed the Warnings

One element of victory over sexual temptation is to heed the Bible's many warnings against it. You need to know that God isn't trying to hurt you, or spoil you fun. He's trying to save your life.

Solomon told his son to stay far away from the strange woman - not to come near her door. Later, Paul would give Timothy a similar warning:

2Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Marriage as the Cure for Fornication

In Proverbs 5:15 and following, Solomon tells his son that a satisfying relationship with his wife is an important key to sexual purity. He is to "be ravished always with her love." An intoxicating relationship with you mate is possible, but you have to work at it. A right relationship at home is a great defense against sexual sin:

1Co 7:2-5 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (3) Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (4) The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. (5) Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Posted by Keith Gardner | | Portraits from Proverbs | Comments (0)