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nChrist
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« Reply #1890 on: June 24, 2013, 07:05:53 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jun 24, 2013
Topic: Salvation

A Big Word; A Great Truth

Are you ready for a word game?

Here's the word: Propitiation.

Now, without first looking at a dictionary or at the rest of this lesson, look at the following definitions and choose the answer you think is correct;

    Propitiation: "The act of propping something up, as with a pole or stick"
    Propitiation: "An initiation ceremony for inducting amateur players into the professional ranks."
    Propitiation: "Gaining or regaining the favor or goodwill of someone."
    Propitiation: "To vote in favor of an item of legislation."

Receive

God has an answer for you in the Bible. First, look up the following verses and think about how the word "propitiation" is used (Note: use the English Standard Version, the King James Version, the New King James Version or the New American Standard Bible for this exercise if possible since some other translations do not use "propitiation" in those verses):

    Romans 3:23-26
    Hebrews 2:17
    1 John 2:1-2
    1 John 4:10

Now, read this set of scripture verses and jot down the common phrase that you find in all four:

    John 3:36
    Romans 1:18
    Ephesians 5:5-6
    Colossians 3:5-6

If you wrote down, "the wrath of God," you are absolutely right. God is furious with sin, and His wrath is upon all those who reject and disobey Him. Judgment is unavoidable for all who remain in that condition.

Reflect

Although "propitiation" is one of those "big words" in the Bible, it describes a vitally important work that God does for us in Christ. It is a big word that you should know. It describes an act of God for which you should be especially grateful.

If you chose the "propitiation" definition #3 above, that is about as close as the dictionary definition comes. Pagan religious people live a large part of their lives in fear that their gods are angry with them. They want to appease or calm down their gods' wrath by bringing an offering of some kind, by cutting themselves or by spinning prayer wheels.

The biblical meaning of "propitiation," however, is far removed from the ideas of the pagan worshipper, who thinks he or she can do certain things to make a god change his or her mind. We cannot satisfy God's wrath against our sin by any action that we perform. Someone has said that biblical propitiation is "an act which enables God to receive the sinner." But remember that it is God's act, not the sinner's. On the cross, Christ died in our place. In His death, He showed God's love for you. He took your sin upon Himself and turned God's righteous anger away. Now, men and women are free to come to God by faith and become His children.

Here are two Bible verses you need to keep in mind.

The first shows that Christ is your sin offering--your propitiation--who has satisfied God's anger and gives you access to God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

The second shows the result of placing your faith in the finished work of Christ for you on the cross.

John 3:18 (ESV): "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."

Respond

Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:21 (and keep it forever!).
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« Reply #1891 on: June 25, 2013, 04:22:33 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jun 25, 2013
Topic: Jesus, Christian Living/Situational, God

Knowing God

How do you go about getting to know someone better? You spend time with them. You learn what they like and what they don't like. You talk with them. But what about God? Can we get to know God the same way we get to know other people? Can we actually personally know God? Let's dig deeper into His Word to see what it has to say about knowing God.

Receive

"And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, 'I know God,' but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did" (1 John 2:3-6, NLT).

"The Father and I are One" (John 10:30, NLT).

"Where is your father?" they asked. Jesus answered, "Since you don't know who I am, you don't know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father" (John 8:19-20, NLT).

In light of these verses, ask yourself the following questions:

Is it possible to know God and not know Jesus?

What does the Bible say about someone who claims to know God but doesn't follow the commandments?

How do we show God that we love Him?

Reflect

Some people think that since we can't see God, we can't really know Him. How, again, do you get to know someone? It's by spending time with them, right? You don't get to know someone because you can see them; it's spending time with them that helps you get to know them. To get to know God, you must spend time with Him in prayer and through reading His Word. Ask yourself these questions:

Do I really know God personally (have I asked Jesus to be my Savior), or do I just know about Him? If you need help with this, go to the "Meet Jesus" page on our website.

Am I spending quality time with Him each day?

Respond

Like any relationship, the one you have with God demands your time and effort. Spend time with God every single day. Get to really know Him by reading the Bible and spending quality time in prayer.
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« Reply #1892 on: June 26, 2013, 11:11:55 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jun 26, 2013
Topic: Salvation

Better Life

There are a lot of things I need to renew regularly: my driver's license, my magazine subscriptions, my medical prescriptions and my home owner's insurance (to name just a few). But when it comes to my salvation, that's permanent.

Receive

It wasn't always like this though. The author of Hebrews tells us about a time when men and women had to seek atonement from their sins regularly. It was when the Jewish people lived under the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses.

"For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near" (Hebrews 10:1, ESV).

On a certain day, the high priest of Israel would make a sacrifice and the sins of the people would be covered. But one year later, he would make another sacrifice and the year after that and the year after that....The sacrifice of goats and bulls was never enough to permanently remove the stain of sin--only to temporarily cover it. As a result "in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year" (Hebrews 10:3, ESV).

It's one thing to live with the constant responsibility of renewing your licenses, prescriptions and insurance but imagine having to constantly renew your salvation. What a depressing life! But cheer up, we can have a better life.

"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God....For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:12,14, ESV).

What the blood of bulls and goats couldn't accomplish, the blood of Jesus did. After Christ had removed our sins with His blood, we read that, "he sat down." His work was done. There is no more need for sacrifices; no renewals are necessary.

When we ask Jesus to cover our sins with His blood, He does it. They are gone forever. As a result, we can have a better life knowing that no matter how bad we mess up, our salvation is secure.

Reflect

As you read Hebrews 10:1-3 and 10-14, think about the following question:

Have you ever felt like you had lost your salvation? What does Hebrews 10:12,14 say about this issue?

Respond

Find a good Bible dictionary or a reputable Bible website such as biblestudytools.com or studylight.org and look up the following words: Atonement; Sanctification; Forgiveness. What do each of those words mean? How do they relate to the life of the believer?
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« Reply #1893 on: June 27, 2013, 04:00:50 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jun 27, 2013
Topic: Jesus

Jesus the High Priest

Ever had to go to the boss's office for an evaluation? That can be an event filled with anxiety. But how much more anxiety will there be when you stand before God for an evaluation of your life? The Bible says that Jesus, as your High Priest, can help. Here's what the Bible teaches.

Receive

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe" (Hebrews 4:13-14, NLT).

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people had a high priest whose job it was to make things right with God for the sinning Israelites. Because we also have sin in our lives, we need help in dealing with the consequences of it. In Jesus, God has provided a way to deal with all the sin in our lives. God did it out of love.

"This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10, NLT).

Reflect

Isn't it a wonderful thing that because Jesus died on the cross, He can make us right with God?!! Do you ever feel anxious about being in God's presence? Does it make a difference to know that God loves you and accepts you because of our High Priest, Jesus?

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22, NLT).

Respond

Jesus understands things that perhaps the high priests of the Old Testament didn't understand about our sins. But, better than that, because He is God, He can do something about them. Why not take a few minutes now and thank God for His love and mercy, and thank Him that Jesus is our High Priest who takes away our sin and makes us right with God.
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« Reply #1894 on: June 28, 2013, 06:58:18 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jun 28, 2013
Topic: Salvation

The Sacrifice Like No Other

Maybe you've wondered why the Old Testament has so much to say about sacrifices and offerings. The first murder in the Bible came about when Abel's offering was accepted by God and Cain's wasn't. In the Book of Leviticus, you find chapter after chapter full of detailed instructions to the priest of Israel about how to properly approach God through animal sacrifices and other offerings. According to Numbers 28 and 29, there were at least 1,273 official offerings each year, making nearly two million sacrifices in the years from Moses to Christ, not to mention millions and millions more private offerings. But every one of them was insufficient in itself to accomplish the lasting forgiveness of sin!

Next, turn to the New Testament. We find there a breath of fresh air! Carefully read what God says in the following verses from the Book of Hebrews.

Receive

"And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:11-14, ESV).

On the cross, Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, paid the price for your salvation with His own blood, then "sat down at the right hand of God," because the saving work He came to accomplish was eternally completed by that single sacrifice.

Reflect

Have you thought about what Christ's sacrifice on the cross means to the believer? In the following verses, you will find several gifts that He obtained for you through His death. Look up these Scriptures and write down all the benefits you find.

    Romans 6:5-6
    Galatians 2:19-20
    Galatians 3:13
    Colossians 2:13-14
    Hebrews 2:14-15

Respond

Go back through each of the items you recorded in the section above. Think over what each one means to you personally. As you go through the list, thank God in prayer for the riches He has given you because of the sacrificial death of Christ.

If you haven't made these riches your own, you can right now by believing Christ and asking Him in prayer to forgive your sins and save you. He is ready and waiting!
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« Reply #1895 on: July 01, 2013, 02:21:22 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 1, 2013
Topic: Bible Study/Theories

Open the Book

So what do you know about now about God? Where did you pick up those ideas? I know, you've seen the movies or Veggie Tales videos, or maybe you even remember the old flat flannelgraph boards in Sunday school. Great tools, but they give you an incomplete picture. The best way to find the truth about God is to open the Bible, God's own word to you.

Receive

God is on every page of the Bible, either actively visible or behind the scenes. We see that not only is God the Father there, but Jesus (God the Son) is there too. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1, ESV). From the dawn of creation (Genesis 1) through the glorious eternal future (Revelation 22), you can trace Jesus' part in the Father's unfolding plan.

And it's in the Bible that we discover Jesus brings us eternal life. In John 5:39, Jesus says "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me" (ESV). The Bible or Scripture doesn't save you, but you are saved through the One it bears witness or testifies about. He has "the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69, ESV). You would never know that if you didn't open your Bible.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for your sins, you not only have the gift of eternal life, you have new life today with access to the Father. "Jesus said to him, '"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him'" (John 14:6-7, ESV). It's through Jesus that you get to know God the Father.

Revelation 1:5-6 describes Jesus Christ as "the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth...who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (ESV). That's a lot you'd never know about Jesus if you skipped reading His Book.

Reflect

Read through these passages and jot down what you learn about Jesus.

Colossians 1:13-23
Hebrews 1:1-4
Hebrews 2:9-18
Isaiah 52:13-53:12

    Did you find something new or something you didn't really think of before?
    Where else do you think you could find out more about Jesus?
    What are you doing on a regular basis to get to know Jesus better?

Respond

Let's go back to the first question we asked today -- what do you know about Jesus now?

    As you've read through these passages and made notes, has it changed your picture of Him?
    What do you think matters most to you, today?
    What about Jesus can change your view of tomorrow?
    How could you take what you know and talk about Jesus with a friend, to your kids, with your spouse?

When you do that, you're not only opening the Book, you're making it part of your life. You're bringing Jesus right in where He wants to be, in your heart, mind and soul.
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« Reply #1896 on: July 02, 2013, 05:06:45 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 2, 2013
Topic: Bible Characters, Faith/Trust, Doubt/Fear

Flawed but Faithful

Have you ever noticed the Bible doesn't glamorize the people in its pages? It's honest about the character, actions, fears and flaws of the men and women God worked with and through. It can be reassuring to see people, just like us, be called faithful and beloved by God.

Receive

Take Sarah, the wife of Abraham, the patriarch and "friend of God." Genesis 11 provides a short biographical sketch on Abraham and a bit of crucial information on Sarah. "But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children" (verse 30, NLT). So, when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of "a great nation" (12:2), it meant God would have to deal with Sarah's inability to have a child.

This is where we see Sarah struggle to trust God's promises. As she grew older and the reality of ever becoming pregnant looked impossible, Sarah had trouble believing God. In Genesis 16, Sarah offered her own solution to "help" God keep His promise. She gave her maid Hagar to Abraham as a surrogate wife/mother. But when Hagar had a baby, Sarah became jealous and angry.

However, God still had plans for this unhappy woman. In Genesis 17, God again makes a covenant with Abraham that would include a child and a nation. And He makes it clear that Sarah will be the mother. "And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants" (Genesis 7:16, NLT, emphasis added). Just as God chose Abraham, He also chose Sarah--doubting, frustrated, skeptical Sarah. (Sarah who was caught laughing in disbelief when the promised pregnancy was predicted in Genesis 18:9-15). God was very clear about His choice; He even protected Sarah in the house of Abimelech (see Genesis 20), so there would be no question that the baby Sarah conceived was Abraham's child.

Sarah learned that God does keep His promises. "The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac" (Genesis 21:1-3, NLT). And Sarah's response? "And Sarah declared, 'God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!'" (21:6-7, NLT).

Was Sarah perfect from then on? No, her problems with Hagar and Ishmael led to some unkind, drastic actions (Genesis 21). But despite her jealousy and anger, Sarah came to understand this: God is faithful. That's how she is remembered in Hebrews 11:11-12, "It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead" (NLT). Because of faith, Sarah joined Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah and all the others listed in Hebrews 11 as people commended by God.

Reflect

Hebrews 11:1, says "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (ESV). It's not a cross-your-fingers, wish-really-hard sort of hope but a confidence that God will do what He says, that He keeps His promises. For Abraham and Sarah that meant believing God would give the child He promised. Because of that confident belief--faith--they "earned a good reputation" (Hebrews 11:2, NLT).

    Would you describe your faith as a confident belief in God to do what He's said?
    Is your focus on God to deliver His promises to you or have you tried to help it along, like Sarah with Hagar?
    What are some of your roadblocks to a properly focused faith? Jealousy? Anger? Frustration? Disappointment? Wrong desires?
    What in Sarah's story encourages you to go on in faith?

Respond

Faith is rooted in and made possible because of God's character. He is faithful--always, in every way and forever. Put your faith in the only One who can be trusted fully and absolutely. Look up these verses (or do your own search) and jot down ways God's faithfulness can influence your faith in Him.

Hebrews 10:23 1
Thessalonians 5:24
Deuteronomy 32:4
Psalm 136
1 Corinthians 1:8-9
1 Corinthians 10:12-14

Keep your findings handy to lift your faith when you're struggling to believe.
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« Reply #1897 on: July 03, 2013, 02:13:47 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 3, 2013
Topic: Faith/Trust

A Better Faith

Have you ever compared yourself to the people of faith you find in the Bible? People like David or Paul or Ruth, who seemed to believe and trust God no matter what?

But these people didn't have a "super-faith" pill or secret formula; they did what you and I can do. They simply believed God and put all their hope, trust and faith in Him through every experience of life. Like a rose opening petal by petal, your own faith can grow into something beautiful.

Receive

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (NIV). It's believing in God and His Son Jesus Christ, and trusting God for all that He's revealed through the Bible and through Jesus.

Faith is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (ESV). It does "not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:5, ESV).

In 1 Timothy 1:5, the apostle Paul lists a sincere faith as one of three visible results of following God and His Word. He also tells us in 1 Timothy 6:11 to pursue faith, along with righteousness, godliness, love, steadfastness and gentleness.

Reflect

If we want to pursue or grow in faith, we need to know what it takes. Read Psalm 37:3-7. Each verse begins with a verb or two that relate to living in faith. List them, then come up with ways to do each of these things in your life.

Do the same thing with Jude 20-21.

Is there a particular area where you're constantly challenged to exercise faith? Consider memorizing a passage that encourages you to trust God, such as Exodus 15:2, Isaiah 26:3-4 or Habakkuk 3:19.

Respond

Chart your own faith by outlining your life, beginning with your earliest memory of faith.

    What steps have you taken?
    What are situations where you trusted God?
    What times in your life has your faith been tested?

Your chart probably has highs and lows, but does it show positive growth? Is there a recurring theme or area where you struggle to exercise faith?

After you complete your chart, take a moment to ask God to help you grow in faith, and thank Him for the growth you've already seen.
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« Reply #1898 on: July 05, 2013, 06:20:38 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 4, 2013
Topic: Jesus, Christian Living/Situational

Superior Values

Values serve as the foundation for how we operate. We act based on what we believe is important: if honesty and integrity are valued, then we don't lie or cheat or steal or deceive. When Jesus brought you new, eternal life, He also brought a superior set of values.

Receive

The core value Jesus gives us is simple: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:27, ESV).

It's the value or law of love, and it goes two directions. First, upward: Love God, value what He values; honor Him; treasure Him with everything you've got: body, soul, strength and mind. Based on that, your actions will not dishonor God; you will not put other things before Him; you will seek to please Him, to follow His commands, etc.

Second, the law of love is outward: Love your neighbor as yourself. What you'd do for yourself, be willing to do for others. This value influences actions and attitudes towards people around us; we're willing to make sacrifices and seek good for them. If I love my neighbor, I'm not going to cheat him, to covet what he has, to do him harm, to lie or deceive him. When love motivates us, it becomes a whole lot easier to keep God's commands.

This is radically different from the world's value system. That system focuses entirely on "me": what I want, how people cater to me, getting more for me, even to the point of self-worship. We put ourselves first so there's no room for God. We work for our own benefit, so there's nothing left to give to others. It's "me first" all the way, and that's not what Jesus wants for you.

Reflect

Jesus lays out His new "kingdom values" in Matthew 5-6. Read through some key verses and see what reflects the law of love.

Matthew 5:2-12
Matthew 5:21-26
Matthew 5:38-48
Matthew 6:1-4
Matthew 6:19-34

    How are these different from the values we're used to in our world?
    What are some ways you need to practice these new values in your life?

Respond

Luke 10:27 is really the foundation for Christian living: Love God; love others. It sounds simple but, as we all know, the hard part is actually doing it. Hard, but not impossible. Remember that as a child of God, you have the help of the Holy Spirit, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13, ESV). Remember, too, that this love is a conscious choice, not a hopeful feeling. You choose to love as God loves you--as Jesus loves you, even to the point of sacrifice.

Hebrews 13:1-6 and Romans 12:9-21 offer you the practical nuts-and-bolts of love in action.

    What instructions are we given?
    How do these reflect love for God? Love for other people?
    Pick two or three specific areas from these passages you need to do some work in; how could you make this change in your life?
    Ask the Holy Spirit for help and commit to doing what it takes to live by this new value.
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« Reply #1899 on: July 05, 2013, 06:22:59 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 5, 2013
Topic: Prayer

Like Breathing

How often do you get up in the morning, take one deep breath and say, "That's all the breathing I need for today"? You wouldn't make it if you tried. Yet, we often do that with prayer.

We send up one quick breath of prayer and call it good for the day or week or longer. Once we've gone a few days like that, we think we can get by without it; we fail to see it as necessary. But prayer is contact with God, a key to becoming intimate with Him.

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You wouldn't think much of a friend who never talked to you. Your friendship wouldn't grow any deeper. Prayer is the way we talk to God. And He wants us to talk to Him. That's why there are so many instructions on how to pray and what to pray about.

Jesus taught us: "Pray then like this:

'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil'" (Matthew 6:9-13, ESV).

This isn't the only prayer you can use, and you can talk to God about more than this. But it gives us a framework. We see that God wants a close relationship with us; in fact, He wants us to call Him Father. We learn about Him and what's important to Him (His name, His kingdom, His will); that He wants us to ask for what we need (daily bread). We learn how we should relate to others (forgiving, being forgiven) and that His desire is to help us daily (deliverance from evil, guard against temptation).

In 1 Thessalonians 5, we're told: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV). It's what God wants, what He wills for us--to rejoice, to pray, to give thanks. These three are tied together, and they should be as natural as breathing.

Reflect

David, the king and psalmist, saw prayer or conversation with God as necessary in his life. You can read many of his prayers in 1 and 2 Samuel and in Psalms. Let's look at a few:

Psalm 17:1-12
Psalm 18:1-3
Psalm 25:1-10
Psalm 36:5-12
Psalm 42
Psalm 51

    What are some of the things David talked about with God?
    What do you see that fits with the Matthew 6 prayer?
    Which of these things do you take to God when you pray? What's missing?
    How do you think conversations like these could deepen your intimacy with God?

Respond

When we do pray, it's often a list of requests and needs. Then, when we don't get what we want, we say prayer doesn't work. Instead of focusing on getting your requests answered, try prayer as conversation. Jot down about three or four things you'd talk about with a friend--things that are important, that excite you, that have you struggling to understand, people you're concerned about, etc. Use these to start your next conversation with God, to build intimacy, to be open and transparent before Him, to look for His will and not your wants.

If prayer hasn't been part of your daily "breathing," plan to take time to pray tomorrow. Pick three times in your day when you're likely to have about 2-3 minutes. Set an appointment, a sticky note, an alarm on your phone, etc. When that time comes tomorrow, talk to God about one thing from the list you just created. Do the same for the next day or plan for several days. These are small steps, but they'll help you see prayer as necessary for your life.
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« Reply #1900 on: July 08, 2013, 06:24:56 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 8, 2013
Topic: Prayer

In Jesus' Name

Ever wonder if God hears your prayer? Have you ever desperately needed the assurance that God was listening when you prayed? The Bible teaches us some great truths about prayer that can bring a sense of confidence.

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Here, from Jesus, is the first truth: "In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9, NKJV).

Jesus taught us that we can communicate with God in prayer, just as we would talk with a father who is loving and caring. God is our Heavenly Father. And so, just as a child eagerly comes to his father to share with him, so a Christian may confidently go to God in prayer.

What do you think might be the second truth? Search for it as Jesus continues to teach.

"Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10 NKJV).

Notice where the emphasis is? Jesus reminds us that the focus of prayer is not us but God. If prayer becomes about us, when God doesn't answer our prayers, we begin to say, "Well, prayer didn't work for me because I didn't get an answer." But the whole point of prayer is not to get answers; the whole point of prayer is to communicate with God.

The last truth has to do with our access to God and the authority by which we pray: I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name" (1 John 2:12, NIV).

We pray in the name of Jesus because it is through Him we can come before God (His shed blood makes it possible for God to forgive our sins.) and by His name we acknowledge the authority God has given Him.

"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2:9-10, NASB).

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth' (Matthew 28:18, NASB).

So, prayer is communicating with the Father in the name of Jesus.

Reflect

Has it ever seemed to you like praying in the name of Jesus was just a convenient or traditional way of ending prayers? What is the significance of ending your prayer in Jesus' name?

If prayer is about communicating with God, what is it that you most would like to share with Him?

Sometimes, we experience an urgent or deep need to talk to God. Do you realize that God wants us to talk to Him and wants us to feel privileged and blessed to pray to Him.

Respond

Spend a few minutes in prayer now. Pray, guided by the truths you have learned about praying.

Are there times when you do not feel like praying? The best thing you can do in those moments is to talk to God about how you feel.
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« Reply #1901 on: July 09, 2013, 02:53:56 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 9, 2013
Topic: Bible Study/Theories

Learning to Listen

Connecting with God is like connecting with a friend or a family member. It's a two-sided conversation. You call, email and talk to friends; but you also listen, pay attention and try to understand them. We need to make sure that we do those things in our relationship with God. Not only do we talk to Him (prayer), but we listen, pay attention when He speaks and try to get to know Him and understand Him by reading His Word.

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Throughout the Old Testament, you see God speaking to His people as individuals as He gives the Law, as He uses the prophets and the psalmists to reveal His heart and will to them. "'You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand'" (Deuteronomy 11:18, ESV). What God wants you to hear is right in front of you in the Bible. That's essential as Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, "'Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days'" (ESV).

In the New Testament, we discover that Jesus is the Word of God. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:14, ESV). And Jesus' words come from God, as He explains in John 14:10, "'The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works'" (ESV).

And we have help: the Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word of God. "'But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you'" (John 14:26, ESV). Plus, the Holy Spirit can bring to God all the things we have trouble saying. Romans 8:26-27 tells us, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (ESV).

Reflect

Hearing from God takes the discipline of quiet, waiting and meditating, not the kind of meditating where you empty your mind or make a buzzing sound; but where you focus attention on God, His presence and His Word. Psalm 1:1-2 gives this picture:

"Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night" (ESV).

Read sections of Psalm 119:1-16; 41-48; 89-104; 129-136.

    What are some of the descriptions of God's Word (or law)?
    Why should you pay attention to them?
    What does God do for His people through His Word?
    Does the writer reflect how you listen for God? What's the same? What's different?

Respond

The next time you go to God (prayer), don't do all the talking but try to listen instead. Borrow Samuel's prayer from 1 Samuel 3:10: "And Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant hears'" (ESV). Be silent, but focus on God. Keep your Bible handy so when the Holy Spirit prompts you, you're ready. And once you've heard, you're to follow and obey. Jesus said, "'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me'" (John 10:27, ESV).
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« Reply #1902 on: July 10, 2013, 11:40:31 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 10, 2013
Topic: Prayer

No Substitute

We live with substitutes in every area of our lives. Instead of sugar in our coffee, we use artificial sweeteners. At the drive-thru, instead of the high calorie combo meal, we'll order a health-conscious salad with fat-free dressing. When you want to talk to a friend but the cell phone is dead, you can send an instant message instead.

With so many substitutes out there, what is the substitute for talking with God? Nothing.

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If you want to communicate with God, if you want to get in touch with the King of kings, there's really only one way to do it.

"When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.... But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father" (Matthew 6:5-6, ESV).

When you pray, you talk to God. The hypocrites Jesus talked about weren't really talking to God though it looked like they were. They were putting on a performance so people would admire them. These hypocrites substituted a public performance for real communication with God the Father.

"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:7-8, ESV).

Prayer is coming humbly and sincerely before God. The Gentiles (Jesus mentioned) were trying to impress their gods by the continuous repetition of memorized prayers (1 Kings 18:26). They believed the more often they asked, the more likely their god would be to answer. They thought they could substitute quantity for quality. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being persistent in prayer (Matthew 26:36-48, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 ); but God is looking at our hearts, not our words.

Reflect

    Do you find yourself seeking substitutes in your prayer life?
    Is it comforting, or does it make you nervous to know God wants an authentic relationship with you?
    Is there anything you can do today to draw nearer to God?

Respond

Typically, our most authentic prayers are when we're alone. Use these times to pour out your heart to God. Try keeping a prayer journal. In addition to recording requests and God's answers, also record your praises. What are you thankful for? What about God do you love? How did you see Him at work today? Pray that God would show you there are no substitutes for prayer.
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« Reply #1903 on: July 11, 2013, 04:33:33 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 11, 2013
Topic: Prayer

Is Prayer Really Necessary?

A college student was home for vacation after his first semester. His mother asked him, "How come you didn't write or call us while you were at school?"

He replied, "I've just been too busy."

His mother looked at him sadly and said, "If you are too busy to write home, you are too busy."

Has God ever had to remind you, "If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy"? The Bible study today looks at the necessity of prayer--every believer's need to pray.

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Do you see the difference between the mother's attitude and the attitude of her son? She rightfully felt that communication was necessary; the son didn't feel that it was really needed. In the same way, the Lord tells us that, for our spiritual well-being, communication by way of prayer and His Word are essential.

Look at what Samuel said in 1 Samuel 12:23: "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way" (ESV). Samuel saw that his prayer for others was essential.

Why? Because Samuel realized

    It would be a sin against the Lord not to pray for others.
    It would be a sin against others not to pray for them.
    It would harm his personal spiritual life not to pray.
    It would make his ministry to others ineffective.

Now, look at another Bible passage, where the apostle Paul asks Christian believers to pray for him: "Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you" (2 Thessalonians 3:1, ESV).

Do you see why Paul felt prayer was necessary? In this case it was because he knew the effective spread of the Gospel of Christ happens when God's people pray. Again, prayer is essential. Compare the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:38, "'Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'" (ESV).

Reflect

What do you think were the mother's reasons for wanting her college-student son to communicate with her?

Why would God want us to communicate with Him? Write down all the reasons you think He may have.

Next, write down as many excuses as you can think of for not regularly communicating with God. Which ones do you feel cause times of prayerlessness in your life?

Respond

The tongue-in-cheek motto on a pastor's desk read, "Why pray, when you can worry?"

Make up some of your own mottos that begin: "Why pray, when I can...?

Memorize this verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It's easy to memorize! But it's also easy to forget.
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« Reply #1904 on: July 12, 2013, 11:38:22 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 12, 2013
Topic: God's Care, Faith/Trust

Pour Out Your Heart

Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." And Psalm 62 includes both a time of silent waiting before God (v. 1) and a time to pour out your heart to Him (v. 8 ). So, what does this "pouring out your heart" involve?

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"Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 62:8, ESV).

Pouring out involves a struggle during which the deepest gut-level emotions and needs of your heart flow out of you and into God's hands. We might call it "spilling your guts." It's when you're honest, earnest and purposeful in what you bring to Him.

Psalm 102 is described as "a prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD" (emphasis added, notes in ESV). Here's just a sample of the writer's poured-out heart:

"Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!

For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread" (Psalm 102:1-4, ESV).

Among others, Psalms 28 and 31 show us what we can "pour out" to God: need for mercy, need for help, need for refuge, need to be saved from enemies. We can pour out specific needs or issues close to a person's heart; he or she brings to God what matters most and seeks God's face as well as an answer that meets their need and honors God.

Reflect

Look at prayers from an ordinary woman named Hannah and a king named Hezekiah.

1 Samuel 1:9-18

2 Kings 19:1-19

2 Kings 20:1-6

    What mattered most to the person praying?
    How was God addressed?
    What did they seek as a response or answer to their prayer?
    How do these prayers differ from yours?

Respond

Remember Psalm 62:8?

"Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us" (ESV).

Did you notice what comes before pouring out your heart? Trusting in God--at all times, no matter what's going on in your life. It's a lot easier to pour out your heart or share what's really on your mind with someone you trust. Do you trust God with what's on your heart? He is the most trustworthy Friend you could ever have. Not only that, He's the only one powerful enough, wise enough, compassionate enough to take care of you.

What do you need to pour out to God today? Picture it filling a bottle or pitcher. Don't be afraid of what God might think or say about your struggle. Just pour it out; empty it from your heart and into His capable hands.
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