ACTS 20:32 NLT 32 “And now I entrust you to God and the word of his grace–his message that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
Many shy away from the Bible because they think it’s just a bunch of rules to keep them from enjoying life.
Although many have misused the Bible — to tear people down, its true purpose is to build people up.
Tradition makes us think a good sermon should “skin ’em alive” and make the listeners feel guilty.
But God is on your side and He loves you. So He gave you His Word for your benefit, to build you up and give you things — not to take anything good away from you.
Certainly God’s Word can, and will, correct you. But primarily, if you understand it correctly, the Word will build you up — not beat you down and make you feel guilty.
Yes, there are passages in the Bible that will not encourage you. They are needful at certain times for certain people who need to be corrected and called to repentance. But for those who love God and are His children, there are words of encouragement to build you up.
Feed on the Word of God’s grace — His favor, His love, His goodness. It will build you up.
If what you are feeding on is not encouraging your faith, check to see if it really lines up with the Word.
Don’t spend all your time meditating on a passage from the Bible that’s not written to you. All the Bible is profitable, and we can learn from it. But you should concentrate on what God is saying to you, as His child: a member of the Body of Christ.
The message God has for His family, the church, is primarily found in the letters (epistles) in the New Testament. These are written directly to us, the church.
God is never interested in just cutting you down, or hurting you. His intention is to build you up, to encourage you, to make you better.
PROVERBS 6:2 NKJ 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth.
MARK 11:23 NKJ 23 “For assuredly, I say to you . . . he will have whatever he says.
Words are powerful. They are the way humans express their decisions. Words carry authority, even in the spiritual realm.
God created the world with spoken words. Humans are created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore our words also carry authority.
The words you speak are important and carry more weight than you may realize.
Words can get you into trouble. And words can deliver you.
The most powerful and life-giving words in the universe are those spoken by God the Creator.
Fortunately for us, some of what God has said has been written down, for our benefit, in the Bible.
So, we can, and should speak words that are in agreement with what God says. When we do, the power of God is released, because it is God’s Word we are speaking.
Remember: whatever God says never loses its power.
EPHESIANS 4:12 NIV 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Ministry means service. To minister is to serve.
How does God “serve us”?
God serves us by helping us. So, primarily, ministry means helping people. Of course, the foremost way of helping people is to help them know God and His Word, so they can receive all God has provided for them.
But anything that helps people — that makes their life easier, or better — is also ministry. That is, it is part of the ministry of God: God’s purpose, God’s plan, God’s desire for humanity.
God desires the best for all people. People were God’s idea, and He longs to bless them.
God helps people. So, when you help someone, even in the smallest way, you are acting like God.
EPHESIANS 5:1-2 NASB 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
We are to imitate our Father God — or act like Him. How? By walking in love, just as Christ did.
In practical terms, what is walking in love? Helping people. Walking in love means you will help people, you will put their interests first.
When you help people, you are involved in the ministry of God.
1 JOHN 5:4 NKJ 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
All of us have a choice: we can either make excuses, or make progress in life.
Most people have an excuse. They are too young or old, short or tall, educated or uneducated — whatever. We all have some reason to justify our failure.
But when we focus on God and His ability and willingness to help us in every way — all our excuses become insignificant.
God’s intention is not for His children to be defeated by the problems of life. No! The problems of life are opportunities for us to experience God’s help and provision.
God plans for His children to overcome.
And faith is available to anyone who will feed on the Bible. Faith comes from God’s Word like physical energy comes from eating physical food.
So, if your faith is weak, take in more of God’s Word.
Then your faith will grow strong. Then you can overcome the problems you face. Then God will be glorified in you.
JOHN 14:26 NASB
26 “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 said to you.
What a wonderful, patient teacher the Holy Spirit is!
This teacher has no limits. He never has to call on anyone else
for an answer. He knows everything.
Whatever you are doing, He can help you — and teach you how to
do it better. Just ask.
Jesus said it, “He will teach you all things.”
I love the story of George Washington Carver, who asked God to
teach him about the peanut — then changed our world with the
knowledge he gained of the peanut.
Do not hesitate to ask God to teach you about even the smallest
things. He understands every detail and is never too busy for
From child raising to atomic science — He is the most
knowledgable and capable teacher.
And the Holy Spirit is always available! No need to wait for
office hours to call on this professor. Call on Him anytime.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 CEV 18 Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.
There are many things in life we may not understand. But we can understand this verse, and know that God gave these instructions for our benefit, to help us — not because God is so insecure that He needs constant thanks.
When bad things happen, what should we do?
Will it help to gripe and complain and feel sorry for ourselves?
No. That only makes things worse.
When bad things happen they seem to contradict belief in the goodness and care of God.
But we must remember that there is an enemy, the devil, who is out to steal our faith, our peace, and our joy. We are commanded in Scripture to resist him, staying strong in our faith.
Giving thanks is a powerful way to resist the devil. Even when we do not understand, and it seems like things are out of control and going downhill fast — we should force ourselves to stay in faith and be thankful.
(I am not saying God is responsible for evil, or to thank God for evil. Instead, I am saying we can thank God for what He is doing, and what He has already done for us in the sacrifice of Jesus — no matter what may be happening.)
1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 NLT 18 No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
MATTHEW 6:26 LB 26 Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat — they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food — for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are.
Have you ever watched birds eating on a snowy day? It takes some effort on their part. They don’t just sit around waiting for someone to put food in their mouth.
Is God feeding them? Directly or indirectly?
Jesus stated clearly that God is the one who provides food for the birds. This implies that God provides for every creature.
Yet, if a bird sits still, instead of gathering the food God has provided for them, they will starve.
Birds must have faith that food is available somewhere, so they keep searching. They don’t sit in the spot where they found food yesterday and wait for more food to show up there today. They keep looking, obviously confident that food is available somewhere.
Yes, the birds can be a good lesson for us. Although they have nothing stored up for their future, they don’t worry. Neither should we. They gather daily what God provides for them. So should we. (This is not to say it is wrong to save or invest for your future, but only that you should trust God either way.)
I don’t know whether the birds are thankful to God, or not. But we should be thankful. And we should recognize that God is the Source of all the good that we enjoy in life.
So work, but don’t worry. (And if you can’t do normal work — still don’t worry, because God cares more for you than He does the birds, and He will provide for you somehow.)
And when you have a need, keep searching for the provision while keeping your focus on God, because you know that God always provides for you.
Fortunately for us, God is not motivated or moved or controlled by His feelings. But that does not mean God has no feelings.
We are made in His image, in His likeness. Just as we have feelings, and can be hurt, God also has feelings, as the following verses show.
GENESIS 6:6 NIV 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
EPHESIANS 4:30 KJV 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
It is inevitable in human relationships that there will be misunderstandings and hurts. When we are hurt, the natural response is to strike back, to retaliate so they will know we are hurt, and they will also hurt.
(Doing that, we hurt not only the other person — but God Himself. Just as a human parent is upset when they see their child acting badly, God is hurt when we act badly.)
But the way of God is different. God’s command to us is to walk in divine love.
JOHN 13:34 NKJ 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
When you have been hurt, and are starting to retaliate, to strike back, remember that when you walk out of love, it is God that you hurt and disappoint.
(Often people don’t even know they are hurting us. Most people are not doing it intentionally.)
We can choose how we respond. As a child of God, we have God’s divine love deposited in our inner being. We can allow that divine love inside us to respond.
ROMANS 5:5 NKJ 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
After all the love God has shown you, does He really deserve to be hurt?
JOHN 8:31-32 NKJ 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The promise of Jesus is clear: the end result of staying in His Word will be freedom.
So, if you are not becoming more free, you need to examine if you are accurate in your understanding of the Word of God.
JOHN 8:31-32 KJV 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Whether the Greek word is translated as continue, abide, or remain, the meaning is clear. You need to stick with the Word; not stop and start; not try it for awhile; but jump in with both feet and stay there.
“What do you mean by freedom, preacher?”
I don’t mean a license to sin. Sin produces bondage — the opposite of what I am talking about.
I mean freedom in every area of life. Freedom from having to sin. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from doubt. Freedom from strife. Freedom from confusion. Freedom from family problems. Freedom from oppression. Freedom from poverty. Freedom from disease.
Note that Jesus did not promise that everyone who called Him Master would automatically and instantly be free. Instead Jesus indicated that time would be involved before those who truly followed Him would see the full result of the freedom His Word would produce in their lives.
If you continue….
If you abide….
If you live in….
If you remain in….
Don’t forget the “IF.” And don’t forget the “CONTINUE.” This Scripture promise is NOT for everyone who claims to be a Christian. Only for those who are willing to spend the time and effort required to feed on God’s Word.
While I do not wish to criticize any group of Christian believers, I do think we should all individually judge our own situations. If the Bible teachers you have been listening to are not producing freedom in your life, you should prayerfully examine whether the message they proclaim is accurate — or distorted.
Remember that it only takes a tiny amount of poison added to an otherwise wonderful and nutritious meal to make it dangerous.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:1 NKJ 1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The “real you” is not your body. Your body is just a house you live in so you can function here on earth.
Just as someone can change houses where they live, you can, and will someday, leave your body and still exist.
We focus too much on our body. The inner part of us is most important. These bodies we live in are not eternal.
It is not wrong to take care of our bodies, any more than it is wrong to take care of the house or apartment where we live. It is a mistake, however, to spend all our time on our body and neglect our spirit and mind.
1 TIMOTHY 4:8 RSV 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Who a person is on the inside is more important than what their body looks like.
We judge too often on the house (body) that people live in, instead of focusing on the real person living inside that body.