Finding God Part One

Why am I here?
How do I beat this loneliness?
What makes my life so hard?
Where is that one special relationship?

In such moments, you feel like something’s missing, something’s wrong in your world. Like perhaps there’s something you haven’t done, or someone you don’t know but are supposed to.

At times you feel you have found it, perhaps in a love relationship, but that feeling never seems to last. Every relationship, even good ones, leave you with this hole in your heart.

Something isn’t right, but you can’t find it or fix it. So you keep looking, trying things.

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Discipling and Disciplining

There is a strange dichotomy in the language of the contemporary church. Much is said and written about the important function of discipling new Christians, while at the same time the function of church discipline has almost vanished. Today, discipline is a word used to refer to the instruction and nurture of the believer. It does not usually carry the connotation of ecclesiastical censure or punishment.

In one sense, this modern version of discipling is linked to the New Testament model. The term disciple in the New Testament means “learner.” The disciples of Jesus were students who enrolled in Jesus’ peripatetic rabbinic school. They addressed Him as “Rabbi” or “Teacher.” To follow Jesus involved literally walking around behind Him as He instructed them (the word peripatetic comes from the Greek word peripateo, which means “to walk”).

The New Testament community was forbearing and patient with its members, embracing a love that covered a multitude of sins. But in the New Testament, church discipleship also involved discipline. Part of apostolic nurture was seen in rebuke and admonition. The church had various levels or degrees of such discipline, ranging from the mild rebuke to the ultimate step of excommunication.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Do you accept discipline as well as discipling from your local church body? Ask God to make you more receptive to His discipline.

Being Clothed in His Righteousness

The church is our mother, but it is Christ’s bride. In this role, we are the objects of Christ’s affection. We, corporately, are His beloved. Stained and wrinkled, in ourselves we are anything but holy. When we say that the church is holy or refer to her as “holy mother church,” we do so with the knowledge that her holiness is not intrinsic but derived and dependent upon the One who sanctifies her and covers her with the cloak of His righteousness.

As the sensitive husband shelters his wife and in a chivalrous manner lends her his coat when she is chilled, so we are clad from on high by a husband who stops at nothing to defend, protect, and care for His betrothed. His is the ultimate chivalry, a chivalry that no upheaval of earthly custom can eradicate or make passé. This chivalry is not dead because it cannot die.

The bride of Christ is soiled but will one day be presented spotless to the Father by the Son who bought her, who loves her, and who intercedes for her every day. If we love Christ, we must also love His bride. If we love Christ, we must love His church.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Ask God to rekindle your love for members of the body of Christ, the true church.

Praise Power

God is: Powerful, Almighty, Sovereign, Everlasting, Faithful and The Master Creator. Since God created ALL things, God is deserving of all exaltation, glory, respect, worship and genuine praise from His creation. In life, individuals experience seasons of jubilant joy and complicated challenges. It appears that during our seasons of triumph praising God for what He is doing comes effortlessly, but during the seasons of grief and disappointment it can be difficult to praise God.

No matter what season we find ourselves in, giving praise to God is paramount. Paul and Silas were dragged before authorities in the Roman city they were in, by slave owners. These slave owners realized their profit of using their slave girl who had a spirit of divination through fortune telling came to an end when Paul rebuked the spirit inside of her.

The slave owners also falsely identified Paul and Silas as trouble-making Jews who were throwing the Roman city into confusion with teaching customs that were unlawful for the Roman people to accept or observe. Without giving them a fair trial, the Roman city officials tore their robes off of them and publicly beat Paul and Silas who were actually Roman citizens. To make matters worse, they threw Paul and Silas into prison where their feet were fastened in stocks.

But even in the midst of being lied on, attacked, stripped, beaten, thrown away, locked up, talked about, ridiculed, in a dark uncomfortable, unpleasant, secluded challenging time, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns of praise to the God of Power! We discover in scripture that God came through, in Power because an earthquake suddenly emerged that shook the foundation of the prison unfastening the chains of everyone imprisoned and opening all doors.

This is encouragement for you today that God comes through in Power. Only God has the power to free you from the taunts, strongholds, chains, mockery, setbacks, dungeon and dark prisons of the enemy. Despite anything you’ve gone through continue to pray and praise God in the midst of the circumstance and be prepared to witness His Power in your situation. God has the power to open doors and shake the foundation of your situation causing everyone to notice the Power of God and want to experience it as well.

Take a moment and Praise the Lord God who comes through in Power.

Changed

Being changed by Christ means understanding who you really are in Him. You are His disciple. Over the next four days, you will read from God’s Word about what a disciple is and explore the various things disciples do.

A great example of a disciple can be found in the early church as they worked towards carrying out the Great Commission of spreading the good news of Christ into all the nations.

Jesus’ parable of the vine and branches offers us a perfect picture of what being a disciple of Christ should look like.

As a disciple of Christ you will find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it, and Jesus will ask you to do a lot of things that won’t fit neatly into a point on a page.

As a disciple of Christ, it’s important that you publicly stand with Him in celebrating your new life, which is why baptism is a great first step for a new follower of Christ. Over the next three days, you will explore what the Bible has to say about the importance of baptism.

There is spiritual power in baptism. This spiritual power is experienced in the fact that you are publicly standing with Christ. You are being baptized into Christ’s death and you are also being raised into new life.

Baptism is a symbol of your being changed by Christ. If you have never been baptized, let these verses serve as encouragement to you in taking that very important next step.

Being changed means reading and studying His Word regularly. Over the next seven days, you are going to explore verses related to understanding what the Bible is, where it came from, the power of the Bible, the reliability of the Bible, and the importance of mastering the text and being mastered by it.

God’s Word is eternal and has and will continue to withstand the test of time. It is absolute and we must submit to His Word in the way the writer of Psalm 119 explains.

Where did the Bible come from and how do we use it? Paul answers these questions in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

We know the Bible is reliable because it passes the internal test in answering the question do the writers of the Bible claim their writings are true? It also passes the external test in answering the question what does outside evidence say about the Bible? Finally, it passes the bibliographic test by answering the question how well were the original documents translated to today? Today’s scriptures give answers to these questions.

God calls us to master the Bible and to be mastered by the Bible. As a follower of Christ, we must read the Bible regularly so that we can learn what it says, understand what it says, and do what it says. More importantly, we must allow His Word to transform and change us.

In order for God’s Word to change us into what God desires us to be, we must read His word regularly. Today, you will learn what the Bible says about the importance of reading and studying His Word on a regular basis.

There are four things the Word of God brings us: power, healing, direction, and freedom.

Being changed means understanding who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and how they interact in your life. This week you will read passages that will help you understand more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Today you will read about God being your spiritual father.

Not only does the Bible show us that God is our spiritual father, but it also illustrates three characteristics of His fatherhood: He is a patient father, a forgiving father, and an intimate father.

Jesus is Immanuel meaning God with us. God came in the form of His son Jesus to live among us so that He could ultimately provide us eternal life by dying on the cross. Today you will explore what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

Jesus is Immanuel, and as Immanuel the Bible tells us that He comforts the afflicted and He afflicts the comfortable.

God sent the Holy Spirit to be our counselor. Being our counselor also means that the Holy Spirit serves as our intercessor, our advocate, comforter, and helper.

The Bible says there are three things the Holy Spirit does for you: He comforts you, counsels you, and convicts you.

You are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit gives you the power to share Christ boldly, gives you power when you are weak, gives you power to have hope in a hopeless world, and gives you power to experience all the fullness of God.

Being changed means you connect with God through prayer. Our relationship with God is like any other relationship we have. We must spend time and connect with God and we do this through prayer. Over the next seven days you will spend time reading what God’s Word has to say about the importance and the power of prayer.

How should we talk to God? The Bible shows us that we should talk to God with gut-level honesty and talk to Him about everything that matters to you.

How should we talk to God? The Bible also says we should talk to God continually and that we should listen for His response.

Not sure how to pray or where to start? Start with Jesus’ example that He shared with His disciples, which is known as The Lord’s Prayer.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says your relationships and motives matter.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says the way you live matters, your faith matters, and God’s will matters.

Jesus encouraged us to pray without giving up. He illustrated this through the parable of the persistent widow.

Being changed means supporting and regularly attending your local church. Over the next seven days, you will read what the Bible says about what the church is and how you should support the local church through serving and tithing.

The church is not just a building. We are the church and each one of us is called to be ministers.

God has called you to meet the needs in your church.

God has given you both talents and spiritual gifts to use in serving His church and in ministering to others.

We support the local church through the tithe. All throughout the Bible God asks us to give Him a tithe, which is 10 percent of our earnings. In fact, the only time God ask us to test Him in the Bible is related to the tithe in Malachi 3.

Not only does God ask for our tithe, but He also desires us to be cheerful givers beyond the tithe.

During His ministry, Jesus often discussed the importance of tithing and giving generously.

Being changed means engaging in Biblical community. God did not design us to do life on our own, which is why it is vital that we engage in Biblical community with other believers. You will conclude this reading plan over the next six days by reading about the importance of Biblical community from God’s Word.

You’ll never do all God wants you to do without the right people around you. You need people in your life that are with you heart and soul. A great example of this can be seen with Jonathan and the armor-bearer.

One of the benefits of Biblical community is being around other believers that help you grow both spiritually and relationally.

Biblical community comes in many forms, the most common of which is within your local church in the form of regular church attendance and in small groups.

One of the greatest benefits of being in Biblical community with other followers of Christ is having people that support you during difficult times.

Biblical community can occur within a group of believers or between two people. In fact, some of the strongest forms of Biblical community happen between just two people. It’s important that we have believers in our life that can mentor and counsel us, as well as keep us accountable.

On this final day, you will read about the life change that has taken place inside of you as a result of your accepting Christ as your Savior. You have been forever changed as a result of your decision to follow Christ. The old is gone, and the new has come!

New 2 Faith: “God Wants to Hear from You”

One of the many reasons prayer is viewed as a last resort when we face challenges is that we have an inaccurate perception of God. We sometimes mistakenly think that God has only a distant, impersonal level of interest in our lives. However, the fact is that God is intimately interested in your life. He created you for His pleasure, and wants to work in you and through you!

Prayer is simply defined as communication with God. Think about a close friendship you have. Sure, that person is there for you when you need them, but you talk to them all the time, don’t you? You share your lives, don’t you? Well, God wants to be your best friend. You can tell Him everything and anything, you can laugh with Him, you can talk about your day with Him, you can be honest with Him, you can express the desires of your heart with Him. The bottom line is He wants to hear it all! God greatly desires that you have intimate, personal communication with Him.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Jesus is knocking at the door of our hearts, desiring a precious time of fellowship on a personal level. Simply opening that door to Jesus’ gentle request for fellowship is the beginning of a successful, effective and rewarding prayer life filled with God’s blessings.

God is the true source of refuge in life, and He wants to show us His faithfulness and love – no challenge is ever too big for Him – He simply wants to hear from you.