Letters To Christians

2 TIMOTHY 2:15 NKJ 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
All of God’s Word is truth, but we must rightly divide the Bible, or we will be confused and misled.
ALL Scripture is written FOR us, but it is not all written TO us, nor is it all ABOUT us.
Every verse in the Bible is a message of truth we can learn from. But every verse is not specific directions for us. For example, instructions to offer daily animal sacrifices show us a truth of the need for a payment for sin, but those verses are not written directly to us. After Jesus’ final sacrifice we are no longer instructed to offer daily animal sacrifices.
The whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, but only the letters in the New Testament are specifically and directly written to us.
While we can learn many things from reading a letter written to someone else, reading one written directly to us is much more meaningful.
The letters to Christians (epistle is another word for letter) are found in the New Testament starting with Romans. Therefore we should (and must if we are to be accurate), base the bulk of our teachings on what we find in the Bible specifically written to us, the New Testament Epistles.
The book of Acts is not a letter, but it is a history of the beginning of the church as they began to understand and walk in the New Covenant.
While the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are included in the section of our Bibles we call the New Testament, they actually record the life and ministry of Jesus which took place under the Old Covenant with Israel. (For the New Covenant could not start until the blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of our sins.)
Now we live under a new and better covenant. This New Covenant started at the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No one could be included in the New Covenant until after Jesus finished His work and was raised from the dead.
The ministry of Jesus on earth, recorded in the Gospels, was to the people of Israel. So much of what is written in the Four Gospels was said to backslidden Jews under the Law who had essentially rejected God.
Surely you realize that God would talk differently to His family than to a group that has rejected Him.
We should rejoice in our New Covenant and all its blessings. And while we can learn many things from the whole of the Bible, our primary focus should be on the part written to us.

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You Are Born To Win

1 JOHN 5:4 NIV 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
God does not expect any of His children to be failures.
There is nothing wrong with failing. It’s part of learning. No child learns to walk without falling down multiple times. But they do not stay down, they get back up.
No one is a failure until they accept and believe they are a failure.
Growth is a process. We learn and then make adjustments. No one is born mature.
So don’t be discouraged by your present state. Don’t give up just because you have fallen over and over. Get up and go again!
You are a child of God if Jesus is your Lord, and God placed within you everything you need to be a winner — an overcomer. As you trust in Him, and keep on keeping on, you can walk in victory.

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Mustard Seed Faith

MATTHEW 17:20 NKJ 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
Unfortunately many modern English translations talk about faith “the size of a mustard seed,” but the Bible actually says that God’s kingdom and faith are “like a mustard seed,” or “as a mustard seed.”
The size of a mustard seed is only one of its characteristics, and not necessarily the most important one.
The mustard plant is a fast-growing annual herb, growing up to 10-12 feet tall in only a few months. It was the smallest seed the Jewish people planted in their gardens, so it was called the smallest of seeds. Yet it became the largest plant in their gardens when it was grown.
The mustard seed is a striking example of the potential of a seed. Although it starts out small and insignificant, it quickly grows into something that blesses others.
Now let’s consider some things about seeds other than how small they are.
A seed does nothing until it is planted. Jesus seems to indicate that our faith is planted by speaking. “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say…”
So to have mustard seed faith, we have to say something. Saying what God says in His Word is our best choice.
A seed can even push aside rocks or other obstacles, but it does not do so instantaneously. A seed does not move hindrances by an explosive burst, but by a relentless expansion of growth continually pushing outward and upward.
As a seed becomes a plant, it continues to draw nutrients from its source, and thus continues to grow bigger and stronger, forcing hindrances out of its way.
No seed is ever affected by what other seeds do. Even if other seeds die, it keeps on.
A seed is persistent, never giving up. Only death will stop it from growing and working to produce fruit. This may be the most important characteristic of a mustard seed: it never gives up!

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What Is Bible Meditation?

JOSHUA 1:8 NKJ 8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
The Hebrew word (hagah) translated as “meditate” in the above verse is translated in the KJV by many words, including meditate, speak, imagine, study, mutter, utter, roaring, and talk.
Here are some verses where hagah is translated as speak. It is obviously not just an inner thought, because lips, tongue, and mouth are the subject of hagah in these verses.
JOB 27:4 KJV 4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
PSALM 35:28 KJV 28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
PROVERBS 8:7 KJV 7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
Isaiah has an interesting verse where hagah is translated as roaring.
ISAIAH 31:4 KJV 4 For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
This verse does not picture a lion chasing his prey, but already possessing his catch, unmoved by any attempts to get him to turn loose.
Instead of translating hagah as “roaring” here, it could make sense to translate it as ingesting, or obtaining nutrients. This is what we do when we meditate on God’s Word.
A roar can also be thought of as bold speech. When we find God’s Word, we should be bold as a lion, confidently speaking God’s Word, refusing to let go regardless of opposition.
The Good News Bible says “No matter how shepherds yell and shout, they can’t scare away a lion from an animal that it has killed.”
We should have the same bold commitment to keeping and devouring our spiritual food, the Word of God.
Here is a verse where hagah is translated as imagine.
PSALM 2:1 KJV 1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The only way a human can see the past or the future unaided, is through their imagination. Memory uses the imagination. Much of our thinking, whether planning or “jumping to conclusions,” involves our imagination. Both fear and faith operate in the realm of imagination.
Imagination is part of Bible meditation. But what are we to imagine?
God’s Words are meant to paint a new picture in your thinking — the picture of reality as God sees it.
Bible meditation is not emptying your mind, but filling your mind — and your mouth — with God’s Word. It is focusing on God’s thoughts, until they also become your thoughts.
So meditation is to help us see things the way God sees them.

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The Rich Man’s Problem

JOHN 21:16a NLT 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Every one desires to be loved.
We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. We all want to be wanted.
Possibly the greatest human desire is to have a suitable companion who thinks you are wonderful.
The rich man’s problem is determining whether someone loves him as a person, or whether they only pretend to love him in order to receive the benefits he can provide.
I once knew a wealthy man who discovered in his wife’s diary her whole plan to deceive him into thinking she loved him, so she could marry him just for the purpose of getting his money. What a blow!
The rich man has a huge problem. How can he know that someone loves him instead of his money? How can he be certain that he is not just being used for what he can provide because of his wealth and power?
God faces the same difficulty as the rich man.
If God were to openly reveal Himself in all His power, riches, and splendor — the owner of the entire universe — how could anyone resist?
Yet, by hiding or concealing Himself, even to the point that some people think God does not even exist, God is able to determine who really wants to know Him — not just for what they can get out of it, but because they love Him.
Yes, God is our provider and source. Without Him we can do nothing, and we would have nothing. But, on some level, God desires to be pursued and loved for who He is, not just what He does for us.
JOHN 4:23 ESV 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
God is on a mission to redeem the world and make everything right. But He is also on a hunt for those who love Him. For those who will worship Him in truth. Worship has to do with our idea of someone’s worth — how valuable we think they are. It can be thought of as worth-ship.
JOHN 14:23 ESV 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

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Bad News

PHILIPPIANS 4:8 NKJ 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.
The devil wants us to feed on bad news. God wants us to feed on good news. Which will you choose?
Bad news promotes fear. Good news promotes faith.
We live in a society addicted to news. What we get is mostly entertainment packaged as news, designed mostly to keep you watching, not to actually inform you of truth. Through it the world offers its views designed to manipulate your thinking and believing.
Our news program’s most glaring fault is that they leave God out. God is at work around the world. But when do you ever see a report on the good things God is doing?
Commercial news programs, of necessity, focus on sensational and bad news items, simply to keep people’s attention, so they can sell products through advertising, and stay in business.
What is the result of feeding in all this bad news? Does it make you feel better? Does it encourage you? Does it make you a better person?
As a citizen you do have a responsibility to be informed on some issues. But most people can do so without spending significant amounts of time each day.
Many people spend hours each day listening to the “news” yet find no time to read the Bible, or listen to teaching that will build their faith and improve their life.
We are in a fight of faith. The devil is out to diminish, or even steal our faith in God. How smart is it for a Christian believer to spend time allowing the enemy to fill their ears, eyes, and thoughts?
1 TIMOTHY 6:12 NKJ 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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Enjoy Life

PSALM 118:24 GWN 24 This is the day the LORD has made. Let’s rejoice and be glad today!
God does not want us to be sad and depressed. God intends for us to enjoy life.
Of course, this life is not the end. Eternity with God is most important. And there is nothing wrong with sacrificing something in this life for the purpose of obtaining something better in the next phase of our life with God in Heaven. But that should not stop us from enjoying this life.
You may be in prison. But you can still rejoice in God’s goodness. You can study and learn. You may even be able to see more clearly mankind’s need for a Savior, and so appreciate God’s plan of salvation even more.
Learn to rejoice in and enjoy what many would call the small things in life. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the colors God created. Marvel at the complexity of God’s creation and His great ability.
1 TIMOTHY 6:17 NKJ 17 . . . God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
Enjoy the diversity of people God created. He made us all different, yet all the same in many ways, such as our desire for love and acceptance.
You may be in a wheelchair. But you can still appreciate all the beauty that God created. You can pray for others. No matter where you are, or what your circumstances may be, you can still enjoy the presence of the Lord and fellowship with Him.
PSALM 16:11 NKJ 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
So live in the awareness of God’s presence and His great love for you. Be thankful for every blessing, and enjoy life.

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Is Desiring To Be Rich Wrong?

1 TIMOTHY 6:9 NKJ 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
This verse seems to warn against any desire to be rich. Actually, as some other translations say, it is more of a longing to be rich, or a supreme goal to be rich that is being addressed.
This is talking about more than a simple desire — for every normal human should desire to improve and increase.
It is talking about a driving desire that causes you to be susceptible to temptations to do wrong, because you are willing to do anything to achieve your goal of being rich. It is talking about a person who is obsessed with being rich. Someone who puts every other interest behind the primary goal of being rich, no matter what it requires.
Do you desire to be rich? Let me ask it this way: “Would you rather be rich or poor?” “Would you rather have more than you need so you can share with others, or would you rather have less than you need so others must help you?”
Unless their thinking has been warped by religious teaching, every sane person would admit they desire to be rich, as opposed to the alternative of being poor.
Yet at first glance, this verse in 1 Timothy 6:9 seems to indicate that this normal and healthy human desire is somehow evil and should be avoided.
The New Testament was written in Greek, and achieving a perfect translation from one language to another is never easy. It should be obvious that the word “desire” in 1 Timothy 6:9 is referring to something much stronger than a simple preference for prosperity.
So it is not being rich, or a preference for being rich, that causes all the problems spoken of in 1 Timothy 6:9, but having an uncontrolled, driving desire to be rich at any cost that causes those problems.
Only a few verses later, we read verse 17 which says nothing to condemn those who are rich.
1 TIMOTHY 6:17 NKJ 17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
God has provided richly for us. His intention is that we enjoy what He has created and provided for us.
God put within us the desire to grow and improve, to increase and overcome obstacles, and also to enjoy beauty and order. Mankind was created and placed in a garden of pleasure, the Garden of Eden, a paradise. It is not wrong for us to strive to return to that state. God made us that way.
It only becomes wrong when we are willing to mistreat and take advantage of others in our quest to prosper.
It is not wrong for you to have nice things. But it is wrong to have no concern for others, and be willing to mistreat them in order to obtain what you desire for yourself.

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You Are A Spirit

JOHN 4:24 NKJ 24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
GENESIS 1:26-27 NKJ 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Because we are created in the image of God, it follows that, since He is spirit — we are also spirit.
To say it clearly, you are a spirit-being, you have a soul (mind and emotions), and you live in a body.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:23 NKJ 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
According to Scripture, humans have 3 parts: spirit, soul, and body. (Note that spirit and soul are not the same.)
ROMANS 12:1-2 NKJ 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Note that YOU are to do something with your body. So, your body is not the real you, but something that you possess. Also, YOU are to renew your mind (verse 2). You are not told to do anything about your spirit in this passage because your spirit is the part that is born again with new life from God when you receive Jesus.
JOHN 3:6-7 NKJ 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
From this Scripture we see that when you are born again, the part that is born again is your spirit — not your mind, and not your body.
So, the real you is your spirit — which is born again, right with God, and filled with His life. You are to control your body, and to control what is fed into your mind, so that it can be renewed by the Word of God to know the truth. Then your life will be changed, and conformed to the will of God.

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Why?

REVELATION 19:7-8 NKJ 7 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
These verses hold an answer to the question often asked by humans facing difficulties and troubles: “Why?”
Since Jesus has already defeated the devil and gained for us all the blessings the Bible tells us about, why is the devil allowed to continue to attack us and steal those blessings?
Does any bridegroom desire to marry a bride he cannot communicate with? Certainly not!
Surely, no highly educated person would prefer marrying a spouse who cannot even read or write. No one would prefer marrying someone unable to speak their language.
Jesus is no different in this regard. His desire is also to have companionship with those who understand Him.
So you are being prepared to be a fit companion for the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity. This means you need to have opportunity to overcome and to walk in love in the midst of difficulty. Otherwise, you would never be able to truly appreciate all Jesus has done.
Does this mean Jesus will throw out those who do not perfectly overcome in this life? Absolutely not! Jesus promised that anyone who came to Him would never be rejected or cast out (John 6:37). But the richest fellowship will be enjoyed with those who overcome as He overcame.
Jesus does not play favorites. He freely loves us all. But we are the ones who choose how close to the Lord we desire to be.
Revelation 19:8 says the fine linen adorning the Lamb’s companion is righteous acts. What makes her so beautiful to Jesus is not that she is clothed in His righteousness, which was a gift, but in her own righteousness.
No, we are not saved by our righteous acts, but when we allow Jesus to live and love through us, our acts of loving sacrifice are very beautiful to the Lord.
Verse 7 says His wife has made herself ready. She was not born ready. She was born righteous, but not ready. She had to grow up and learn to walk as Jesus walked in order to become ready to be His most intimate companion. She received right standing with God as a free gift. But the righteous acts she is wearing are her own.
This is why the devil has not been incarcerated yet. God believes every one of His children can overcome, so we are being allowed the opportunity to do so.
The wife of the Lamb is meant to have the opportunity to overcome evil with good — just as Jesus did — so she can fellowship with Him on a level of understanding that would not be possible otherwise.
Our wonderful Lord Jesus is worthy of companions who understand (at least somewhat) the difficulties He suffered, because of His love for us.
So let us ask Him to continue His work in us, making us what He desires us to be — similar to Him. And let us persevere in faith, even when we face things we don’t fully understand.
Then we will be ready for that wonderful, privileged position of intimate fellowship with Jesus.

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