VIDEO Devoted to Study

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord. Ezra 7:10, NIV

If you’re having trouble getting into a Bible study routine, here are some suggestions: Keep an open Bible on the kitchen table. Try writing down a new verse every morning on your calendar. Download an audible edition of the Bible and listen while you walk, exercise, or drive to work. Join a Bible study group. Find some Scripture song albums that put God’s Word to music and listen until you know some of the songs by heart. Purchase a wide-margin Bible and a set of colored pens so you can make notes and drawings on the pages. Offer to teach a children’s class at your church, which will force you to study and prepare each week. Let a Bible verse be the last thing you see before turning off the light at night. Enroll in a good online Bible study or take a Bible correspondence course. Find a new verse to post on social media each day.

Our faith is strengthened as we read and study God’s Word, and if you’re determined to begin that habit—you can do it!

Ultimately, the goal of personal Bible study is a transformed life and a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Kay Arthur


Personal Holiness | Pastor Jentezen Franklin

Shift into Neutral

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:12

The man ahead of me at the carwash was on a mission. He purposefully strode to the back of his pickup and removed the hitch, so it wouldn’t snag the high-powered rolling brushes. He paid the attendant then pulled onto the automated track—where he left his truck in drive. The attendant shouted after him, “Neutral! Neutral!” but the man’s windows were up and he couldn’t hear. He zipped through the car wash in four seconds flat. His truck barely got wet.

Elijah was on a mission too. He was busy serving God in big ways. He had just defeated the prophets of Baal in a supernatural showdown, which left him drained (see 1 Kings 18:16–39). He needed time in neutral. God brought Elijah to Mount Horeb, where He had appeared to Moses long before. Once again God shook the mountain. But He wasn’t in the rock-shattering wind, earthquake, or raging fire. Instead, God came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. “When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out” to meet God (1 Kings 19:13).

You and I are on a mission. We put our lives in drive to accomplish big things for our Savior. But if we never shift down to neutral, we can zip through life and miss the outpouring of His Spirit. God whispers, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Neutral! Neutral!

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How do you slow down to spend time with your Father? Why is time in neutral necessary for driven people?

Father, I am still because You are God.

The Challenge of Forgiving Ourselves

Psalm 32

Yesterday, we considered why people fail to forgive themselves for wrongdoing. Today, let’s look at questions to ask yourself when you struggle with self-condemnation.

1. Why should I continue to condemn myself when God no longer condemns me?
2. Is my self-condemnation affecting my relationship with God? What about my relationships with other people? How so?
3. What good comes from refusing to forgive myself?
4. Does the Lord find me more devout because of my guilt and shame?
5. Is there any biblical basis for withholding self-forgiveness?
6. How long do I intend to condemn myself? What must happen for me to finally forgive myself?

When facing self-doubt and remorse, focus on the basics of who God is and what He wants for your life. Prayerfully consider these six questions. Read them aloud and spend time reflecting on each one. You may even want to journal or work through your thoughts in prayer as the Lord speaks. Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself wrestling with some of the answers. Remember, God wants to help renew our perspective, and He promises to be with us as we confront our guilt.

Instruction Contrary to Knowledge

“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27)

One of the saddest realities in the modern world is that many of the leaders of evolutionary and humanistic thought were raised in Christian homes, where from an early age they were exposed to the truths of Scripture. Testimonies without number have been chronicled of Christian students going to universities where they were taught to doubt and then to disbelieve the faith of their parents. Perhaps all these students ever knew of Christianity was a set of rules; maybe they never understood the reasons their parents held certain views or the basis for these beliefs. Certainly the foundational teaching of creation has been missing in many Christian homes and churches.

Our primary goal as parents should be to establish a godly heritage—to teach the truths of God in such a way as will be believed and cherished by our children so that they will “keep that which is committed to [their] trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20).

Certainly a more effective way of teaching is to continually point the child or student back to foundational principles rather than to list a set of dos and don’ts. We must teach those under our influence to be grounded in the Word so that they can make sound judgments when away from our watchful eyes. No greater aid to serious study, no better primer in careful reasoning exists than in Scripture. Using it and other supportive materials, a child can learn to think carefully and critically. Not only will they learn information, but here they can learn wisdom and knowledge and understanding. “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). JDM

“As Thou Wilt”

Matthew 15:21-28

JESUS’ ministry in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon is marked by the wonderful story of the Syrophenician woman (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30). He had not planned a public ministry in these parts, but Mark tells us “He could not be hid.” Neither can a true Christian be hidden; men will find him out.

This woman, outside the pale of His ministry to Israel, besought Him for her demonized daughter, but we read, “He answered her not a word.” Prayer often meets such a Divine silence, but few of us press on to an answer as did this needy soul. Too often we take silence to mean refusal.

The disciples, bothered by her begging, asked our Lord to respond and send her away. These poor men were continually trying to handle the cases that came to Jesus, but not in His way. He answers, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” which indicates that they had meant for Him to grant her request to get rid of her. It is another clear declaration of His ministry to the Jew first. “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.”

Not rebuffed at this, the woman beseeches Him, “Lord, help me,” identifying herself with her daughter’s need. Still stronger is the Lord’s reply: “It is not good to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.” It is a severe answer. We pass over the sternness of our Lord in these soft, sentimental days. Had the woman come with less than genuine, importunate faith, this would have sent her away insulted—this calling the Jews “children” and the Gentiles “dogs.” But our Lord uses the term for little household dogs, and the woman catches the clue. “True, we may not have the bread, but surely we may share the crumbs.” Here is humility and perseverance that will not be denied! It is he who is willing to take crumbs who receives bread.

Such faith draws from our Lord the gracious answer: “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” Notice, it is as thou wilt. There is a faith that desires and asks, but here faith goes further and wills. Jesus tells us (Mark 11:23) that whoever shall command a mountain to be moved and shall not doubt but believe, he shall have whatever he says. Mind you, He does not say, “Whosoever shall ask God to move the mountain,” but “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed.” Here is faith that dares to command. “Concerning the work of My hands, command ye Me” (Isa. 45:11). Mark tells us that He said, “For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.” Such faith always sends us on our way; and as we go we are cleansed, as it was with the lepers (Luke 17:14). The woman went, Mark tells us, and found it even as He had said. So did the nobleman (John 4:51). Oh, how rare is the faith that takes Him at His word and goes on believing!

“As Good as Your Book”

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.—John 6:51

A Hindu said to a missionary in India: “Sir, I do not want to appear presumptuous, but have you found out what the Acts of the Apostles records? I see there a strange power, making weak, ineffective men into strong, effective, radiant men. That seems new and central—have you found that?” And that is the central question we must ask ourselves. We are taken up with so many little and marginal things in church life that we miss the central power.

A group of children, on the way to see the ocean, got occupied with a pond that one of them had made by blocking the flow of a tiny stream. One little fellow, seeing the ocean in the distance, said, “Come on, Billy, that ain’t the ocean—that’s only a pond!”

Sometimes I feel like calling to the thousands of Christians who are gathered around their little denominational pools, thinking them to be the ocean: “Come on, brothers and sisters, that isn’t the whole thing. Look over there. The ocean awaits us—God’s ocean of power and plenty. I’ll race you to it!”

A Christian who gave a Bible to an acquaintance asked him some time later if he had read it. “Yes,” said the man, “and what is more, I have found you out. You are not as good as your Book! The Book says there is power for human weakness, joy instead of sorrow, victory instead of defeat—but I see little of this in you.” What an indictment! Could the same be said of you and me?

Prayer

O Father, help me to be as good as the Book. Show me the way to power and poise, so that I will represent the highest qualities of life to those I live with or work with. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 6:44-71; Rv 2:4, 3:16; Mt 24:12; Ac 5:13

How did some of Jesus’ disciples respond?

What did Simon Peter say?

An Undivided Consecration

Romans 12:1

I am free to confess that about this state of holiness there may be difficulties and perplexities. I simply insist that it is described in the Bible, and that the descriptions of the Bible have been verified by the experience of thousands of saints. It means a clean heart, being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, sanctified wholly, being made perfect in every good work.

Holiness implies: (1) full deliverance from all known sin, (2) the consecration of every power and possession to God and His work, (3) constant and uniform obedience to all the requirements of God.

Now, don’t let us get into confusion. We don’t say without imperfection, both physical and mental. We still suffer as the consequence of the fall from disease and are liable to mistakes and errors.

Nor is it without temptation. If the inside enemies have been cast out there are those without, and they will become all the more fierce and furious, and cunning too, in their attempts to regain possession.

It is not without the possibility of falling. The angels of heaven, who kept not their first estate, and Adam, who unquestionably was sinless in paradise, fell. This side the celestial city it is a debatable question whether any condition can be reached from which we may not fall.

No, it is not without temptation or trouble or error; it is still a condition of conflict and suffering and danger, but without sin.

I now ask you what you ought to do with regard to holiness. I reply: get it. It must strike every Christian as a pearl of great price.

But how? To this question I reply by asking two others. The first is, what is it that you want, to be made clean and happy and holy? Then your first work is to bring all that you want thus sanctified to God. In other words, you must separate yourself in choice and purpose, and, so far as you have power, from all known sin, or even that which is doubtful, and present all before God for the purpose of being sanctified.

Do you want to be a holy man? Holy in thought, feeling, conversation, business, holy always? Come then, bring your all to God. It is no use crying to God to cleanse you wholly while keeping something back. For a full salvation you must bring an undivided consecration.

Reservation is one secret of the weakness prevalent among God’s children, and the cause of three-fourths of the failures in this higher walk of the divine life. Let us make a clean sweep and offer all.

William Booth, Salvation Soldiery