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Posts tagged ‘Scripture’

Engaging Our Gay Friends, Relatives and Colleagues

Source:  John Freeman/Harvest USA

It seems that homosexuality has embraced our culture and the culture has embraced homosexuality. It is a part of the fallen nature of things, that man has always been an expert at creating ingenuous ways to celebrate his brokenness. So, men and women in the gay life have no corner on this:. Apart from faith in Christ and submission to the authority of Scripture, we are all experts at rationalizing and justifying what we want to do. The more we live, in any way, outside of God’s design, the more we convince ourselves that what we are doing is OK. This happens on both an individual level and a corporate, cultural level. Homosexuality is not the only thing that was once considered unacceptable or immoral, but later is embraced by the culture (consider abortion and sex outside of marriage).

Scripture says we’re all a mess and that we all need forgiveness and cleansing. Biblically speaking, we’re all in the same boat. We all need the same medicine of the gospel to free us from whatever attachments or idols we cling to— from whatever we have decided “gives us life” apart from Christ. This realization about ourselves should bring to us a growing compassion for others. Believers in Christ should be the first ones to acknowledge that we still pursue our own personal idols, and it is only by the persistent work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we become aware of our own sin and the need to repent of it.

Homosexuality is one of those topics that draws intense and passionate reactions. Complex issues of the heart usually do. Christians are in a sort of no-man’s-land here today.   Suggesting to those who have embraced the current cultural position that homosexuality is sinful and not part of God’s design for sexuality appears as uneducated, homophobic and ridiculous. On the other hand, though, suggesting to fellow evangelical believers that God loves and forgives sinners who struggle with homosexuality and that we should do the same may appear compromising and wishy-washy.

While we can oppose the advancement of a social movement that would encourage everyone to embrace this cultural shift by vocalizing our concerns and participating in the political process, for Christians a far deeper response to homosexuality and the gay community is needed. When believers proclaim the gospel of Christ both to gays and to the culture at large in a loving, redemptive manner, punctuated with “grace and truth,” this sets us apart and truly reflects the person of Christ. In such a heated and increasingly emotionalized debate, Christians have a responsibility to represent Christ to a fallen world in four ways.

Patiently Listen 

“Let every person be quick to hear” (James 1:9).  This doesn’t mean looking for loopholes in a debate or seeking a chance to criticize and find fault as you talk about this issue. We must listen in order to understand the “heart thrust” of what a person is saying. This is hard work, a relational skill to be learned. It’s not natural. It takes practice. Listen to what moves other people. Listen for their passions, what they value, what their experience has been (especially with other Christians) and what they fear.

The more you understand a person’s point of view, the more you can profit from it. Why do they think the way they do? What events have led up to their adopting their worldview? What’s been their experience of Christianity—of other Christians or the church in general? What wounds from their family of origin and from other people lie festering in the background? As adults, we’re a composite of all these things—upbringing, personal wounds, cultural norms and our own heart-generated responses to these powerful, shaping influences. Get to know the persons you are talking to so that you truly know who they are. Otherwise, we tend to conveniently lump them into a group, label them on the basis of what we read in the news, and think this is “knowing” them.

Personally Repent

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans? . . . No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5). Only a redeemed sinner, knowing he stands condemned apart from Christ’s death on the cross, can reach a sinner who doesn’t know he needs redeeming. What’s your motivation when you engage someone with the gospel? Is it to reach lost people with the enduring love that has found you out— a love that has exposed you as a cut-throat and depraved sinner and yet has embraced you with fatherly love? Is it your own awareness that, at heart, you’re a sham, a misfit, a counterfeit, a phony and that there is nothing good inside you to warrant God’s love, yet He still died in your place to make you whole? Do you really care about homosexuals, as men and women who need the love of Christ, or do you only want them to shut up and disappear? Remember that Jesus said, “He who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47). If you have no love for gays, then you have not understood the forgiving love of Jesus in your own life.

Patiently listening and personally repenting also means loving those who are different, who believe differently. Gays have long been “demonized” by Christians, held up as the examples of the worst kind of people. This is grossly unfair and unloving, not to mention grossly unbiblical. No single group of people corners the market on sinful behavior outside of God’s design. There is simply no place for believers to verbally demean or physically abuse gays. If your neighbor or colleague proclaimed to you that he didn’t believe in God, would you go around mocking him?

Gently Instruct

“The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:22-25). How do you talk to people who don’t believe what you do? An argumentative, win-at-all-costs approach does not conform to what Paul wrote to Timothy. You need to ask the Holy Spirit to instruct your own heart as you instruct others. Engaging someone “with gentleness” does not mean being weak or vacillating in your argument; it means treating everyone with respect and dignity even when they persistently disagree. An unloving and impatient heart is a hindrance to the gospel message. The Lord’s command to us through the words of Paul teaches us here: “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

“Gently instruct” also means that your words must be grounded in the truth of Scripture, not your own opinion. The real issue regarding what Scripture says about homosexuality is not about whether the key passages are culturally relevant anymore, but whether Scripture in its entirety still has authority over all of life. It should always be the truths of Scripture, and not our demeanor or presentation of it, that people reject.

Do you really care about homosexuals — or do you only want them to shut up and disappear?

Talking to those who are blind to the reality of their hearts but who live in a world that applauds their sin is both a privilege and a challenge. They are victims of their own sin and the lies and sin of others. Therefore, they’re caught. But they’re also accountable before a holy God for their continued choice to live life on their own terms and not submit their lives to the Lordship of Christ. We must represent both aspects of the truth as we share Christ.

  Mercifully Pursue and then Engage the Heart

“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). God calls us to be neither reclusive nor rude, but to move boldly into confusing, high-stakes situations with the gospel of God’s mercy.

We bring the gospel where it is most needed: to the vocally anti-Christian pro-gay activistto the mild-mannered clergy who says the love of Jesus means affirming homosexuality as God’s gift; to the confused and scared teenager who fears he’s gay and there’s no other option. Showing mercy means practically caring for people. It means being patiently and persistently available to help those who live in a fallen world. It means lovingly holding our ground against those who say that our beliefs are hateful.  We must not wilt from the irrational heat of those who say that we are hateful bigots merely on the basis that we do not agree with their beliefs.

As we do this, we’re able to move into other people’s worlds. Engaging people by asking good questions, respectfully, is an important part of this.   I once approached a man who was marching in a gay rally. Subsequently, I had a two-hour conversation that ended with this man shaking my hand and thanking me for stopping him— in spite of the fact that I shared the gospel with him! I had listened to him, heard his concerns and engaged his heart with matters important to him. Didn’t Jesus do the same?

My approach appealed to his heart. Listening, asking questions, and engaging people with respect, even if we have fundamental differences, gets people into their story more quickly than anything else. When we take time to get people into their stories, they become more open to us and to the gospel.

Jesus, of course, was the master of all that I’ve just described. We should be, too. His methods are the most under-utilized and missed aspects of evangelism. They also make the deepest and most heart-felt impact, often leaving people wanting more!

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This article originally appeared in the May 2010 edition of Tabletalk magazine, but has been edited and expanded for this publication. We invite you to comment on this article on the Harvest USA blog, Sex, Lies and God’s Design at http://www.truthandmercy.wordpress.com

Fighting Our Besetting Sins

Praying the Truth

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article at Discipleship Journal/Sandra Higley

Declaring the truth of what is ours in Christ is a powerful aid in our battle against temptation, sin, and the enemy. [Make use of] these prayer starters as you [ fight your] besetting sin.

— Lord, I take You at Your promise that You have provided everything I need to live a godly and holy life. Through Your strength, I can do anything. (2 Pet. 1:3, Phil. 4:13)

— I praise Your name, El Roi (the God who sees me). You see every struggle, every fall—and You understand because You experienced every temptation I feel. I cling to Your love; nothing can separate me from it. (Gen. 16:13, Heb. 4:15, Ro. 8:39)

— I take every thought captive in Jesus’ name. I know I’m fighting the kingdom of darkness, not flesh and blood. (2 Cor. 10:5, Eph. 6:12)

— I recognize that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, is trying to shame me into keeping my struggle a secret—hidden in darkness. I willingly bring every deed and every thought into Your glorious light. The truth will set me free. (Rev. 12:10; Jn. 3:19, 8:32)

— I confess my sin of __________ and receive Your forgiveness. I refuse to give Satan a foothold of any kind by harboring sin. (1 Jn. 1:9, Eph. 4:27)

— I receive the victory Jesus won for me over sin and death and hell. Thank You, God! (1 Cor. 15:57)

— Lord, I believe and accept that You are able to keep me from falling today and will present me without fault before Your throne. (Jude 24)

— Father, give me a passion for Your Son. As I love Him more and more, I will keep His commandments out of sheer desire to please Him. (Jn. 14:15)

— I choose to submit to You, Lord. I resist this onslaught of the evil one, knowing he has to run. (Jas. 4:7)

— Lord, teach me to stand firm when I’ve stood every way I know how—and then help me to keep on standing. (Eph. 6:13)

— I put on my helmet of deliverance, my helmet of salvation. I have the mind of Christ. (Eph. 6:17, 1 Cor. 2:16)

— I make a covenant with my eyes to look away the minute something tempting comes into view. (Job 31:1)

— Father, I’ve been battling this head-on for so long that I’m afraid the enemy may sneak up from behind; thank You for being my rear guard. My healing will come quickly. (Is. 58:8)

— Thank You, Jesus, that You did not come to condemn me but to set me free. I know my freedom is even more important to You than it is to me. (Jn. 3:17, Gal. 5:1)

— Send Your angels to minister to me right now, Father. I need help. (Heb. 1:14)

— Abba, You say the enemy is a liar and will do everything he can to move me into a place of distrusting Your promises. But Your Word Word is truth, and I renew my mind with it today. I am transformed. I am conformed to the image of Your Son. (2 Cor. 11:3; Jn. 17:17; Ro. 12:2, 8:29)

— Father, I unleash the power alive within me against the enemy who is prowling around looking for a way to eat me alive. That power is the same power that raised dead, decaying flesh and transformed it into a glorious resurrected body. (Eph. 1:19-20)

— I’m feeling weak, Lord. I praise You that You show Yourself strong in the middle of our weakness. (Dt. 3:24, 2 Cor. 12:9)

— I use every spiritual weapon You’ve given me in my arsenal to tear down this stronghold of thoughts. (2 Cor. 10:3-4)

— I renounce the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (1 Jn. 2:16)

— I take up my shield of faith, Lord. You made it specifically to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Eph. 6:16)

— You promised that there is a way of escape in every temptation. Help me to see it now. Open my spiritual eyes so I don’t miss it. ( 1 Cor. 10:13, Eph. 1:18)

— I know this is a battle of the mind. I refuse every impure thought as if I were in a mental tennis match. I refuse to be outwitted by a fallen, created being. (2 Cor. 2:11, Ezk. 28:12-17)

— Hallelujah, I’ve been set free from sin! I am a slave to righteousness. (Ro. 6:18)

Biblical Counseling: What is it? Do I need it?

SOURCE:  Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC

People have a great many questions about what makes biblical counseling truly biblical. The purpose of these brief FAQs or Q/A paragraphs is to provide relevant, biblical answers to basic questions about biblical counseling.

1.   What is biblical counseling?

First, biblical counseling is not “beating people over the head with the Bible.” Nor is it saying, “take two verses and call me in the morning.” And it is not one-problem, one-verse, one-quick-solution.

While no one person can provide the final definition, here is a working definition of what makes biblical counseling truly biblical:

Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through the Christian soul care arts of sustaining and healing) and sin (through the Christian spiritual direction arts of reconciling and guiding) to empower people to exalt and enjoy God and to love others (Matthew 22:35-40) by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ.

The rest of our FAQs will “flesh out” this definition.

2.   What is the difference between biblical counseling and secular counseling?

While there are hundreds of different secular approaches to counseling, they all have two central features in common. First, secular counseling depends upon human reason and research to answer life questions about people, problems, and solutions. Biblical counseling depends upon scriptural revelation to build a comprehensive, compassionate, culturally-informed approach to who we are, what went wrong, and how to solve the issues of the soul.

Second, secular counseling, especially in our post-modern age, assumes that there is no final answer, no all-encompassing story that explains the meaning of life. Biblical counseling, while appreciating our human limitations and understanding our cultural diversity, believes that in the Bible God has given us all that we need for life and godliness. The Bible provides real answers for real people with real problems.

3.   What can I expect to change when working with a biblical counselor?

A biblical counselor will work with you comprehensively. You can expect your counselor to assist you spiritually to know God better, socially to love others more effectively, and self-consciously to understand and apply who you are in Christ. Your biblical counselor will help you rationally to renew your mind in Christ so that you see your life, God, others, and yourself from an eternal perspective. Your biblical counselor will work with you volitionally so that you understand why you do what you do and so that you find Christ’s resurrection power to live victoriously. Your biblical counselor will engage you emotionally so that you learn to manage your moods, soothe your soul in your Savior, and help others with their emotions. Your biblical counselor will address who you are physically because the Bible teaches that we are a united body/soul being.

4.   How long does it take to see a change?

One current model of secular therapy is solution-focused brief therapy. As the title suggests, the goal is to spot a problem and as quickly as possible find a workable personal solution to that issue. If only life were so easy. Biblical counseling is soul-u-tion-focused therapy. It focuses you on working with God on matters of your soul: on heart issues.

Relationally (with God, others, and self), mentally, volitionally, and emotionally change can begin immediately if change means loving better, thinking more wisely, choosing/acting more unselfishly, and managing moods more effectively. However, soul change is a lifelong process of progressive sanctification:  little-by-little coming to live and love more and more like Jesus.

5.   What are the benefits of biblical counseling?

The benefits of biblical counseling relate to our definition of biblical counseling. Biblical counseling will help you to face your suffering face-to-face with God. While this side of heaven we may not find an end to suffering, we can find God and His perspective, purpose, and power in our suffering. Biblical counseling sustains you so you know that it’s normal to hurt, and it brings God’s healing to you so that you know that it’s possible to hope. You will experience soul care from your biblical counselor.

Biblical counseling will also help you to face your sin face-to-face with God. Instead of running, hiding, and covering up with layer upon layer of self-sufficiency (like Adam and Eve did), you will learn to “return home” like the prodigal son did. In returning home, your biblical counselor will help you to reconcile with God and others—repenting, asking forgiveness, and granting forgiveness. You will learn that it’s horrible to sin, but that it’s wonderful to be forgiven. In biblical counseling you will also find guidance so that you learn how to apply the truth that it’s supernatural to mature. You will experience spiritual direction from your biblical counselor.

6.   When should I consider biblical counseling?

Based upon our definition, we should all be engaged in on-going biblical counseling and spiritual friendship with one another. Biblical counseling is not just what we “do” for an hour with an “expert.” It is to be a natural part of our normal experience of Christian community.

However, the Bible does teach that there is special gifting and can be special training for a more focused ministry of biblical counseling. When should you consider making an appointment for focused biblical counseling? You should see a counselor when you sense that your relationships with God, others, and yourself are spiraling downward despite your best efforts. You should see a counselor when you recognize that your beliefs about life are colored by earthly perspectives and foolish judgments that you can’t seem to correct on your own. You should see a counselor when you find yourself yielding to purposes and actions that defy your core beliefs, but you can’t seem to change. You should see a counselor when you feel that you are less and less able to handle your emotions and manage your moods. In other words, you should see a biblical counselor when life’s suffering and your sin are overwhelming.

7.   Is talking to a biblical counselor different from talking to a close friend?

We began to answer this question in the previous question. Of course, it all depends upon the close friend, doesn’t it? If the close friend is a spiritual friend with biblical wisdom (content), Christlike love (character), relational power (competence), and knows how to connect deeply and honestly (community), then biblical counseling and talking to a close spiritual friend will be quite similar. In fact, a close friend is more readily available and more easily understands and empathizes with you.

A biblical counselor ought to be your spiritual friend who focuses all his or her energy on you to provide you with soul care for your suffering and offers you spiritual direction for your struggle against sin. Unlike your spiritual friend, the relationship is not “mutual.” You are equals, but you are not there to counsel your counselor. Your counselor uses his or her content, character, competence, and community to empower you to connect with Christ and the Body of Christ. It is more of a Paul-to-Timothy mentoring relationship than a David-and-Jonathan peer-to-peer relationship.

8.   What happens in a biblical counseling session? What can I expect in session?

To a large degree, that depends on you, your reasons for counseling, your counselor, and where you are in the counseling process (first meeting or last meeting, focused on hurts or focused on sin, etc.). Broadly speaking, you should expect a process of speaking the truth in love. That does not mean the biblical counselor preaches at you. It means that you engage in trialogues where you, your counselor, and the Divine Counselor seek to apply biblical wisdom to your life issues. You and your counselor will be involved in spiritual conversations where you think about life from a biblical perspective, and you will be involved in scriptural explorations where you discuss relevant applications of pertinent passages to your specific life situations and relationships.

You should expect your biblical counselor to empathize with your hurts, to encourage you with Christian hope, to exhort you with biblical truth that exposes heart issues, and to empower you with biblical principles that equip you to be a better lover of God and others. You should expect the “process” to be “real and raw.” Like the Apostle Paul, the biblical counselor will give you not only the Scriptures, but his or her own soul—caring and connecting deeply.

9.   Are there issues that I can try to address prior to counseling? If so, what steps can I take?

The very “step” of deciding to see a biblical counselor is a vital first step. It is an admission that you need others. This humble admission also automatically adds a new, powerful dimension to your situation—another person who cares and who can bring wisdom principles to your life issues.

Once you’ve made this step, you should continue to fellowship and worship with your church family. You should join a pertinent small group where you can talk honestly about your life. You should maintain your spiritual disciplines that connect you to Christ.

You also should state very clearly why you are coming to counseling. And you should be able to explain how you will know that counseling has been successful. What inner life goals are you pursuing?

By the way, once counseling begins, don’t think for a moment that the fifty minutes when you meet are the only time you “work.” You should be constantly applying to your life what you are learning when you are in counseling.

10. What can I do if I can’t afford biblical counseling?

One of the beautiful aspects of biblical counseling is that it often does not have a fee, especially if it is done in the context of a local church. However, some biblical counseling is done in a para-church or professional setting where fees must be charged so the counselor can make a living. In this situation, be honest with your counselor about your financial situation. Ask if there is a sliding scale fee structure. See if your insurance will cover counseling. Make a budget that prioritizes getting good counseling help. Ask your extended family for assistance. Seek help from your church family. There is always a way.

11. What is biblical marriage counseling?

In biblical marriage counseling, the purpose of counseling is God-focused—to help the couple to glorify God by enjoying one another and empowering one another to be more like Jesus. Yes, the counselor wants to help the couple to resolve conflicts, to communicate, to improve their sexual relationship. But if all that is done apart from the purpose of marriage, then it is simply creating more self-sufficient manipulators.

In biblical marriage counseling, the counselor helps the couple to identify and repent of spiritual heart issues that are leading them to selfishly manipulate (“You will meet my need!”) and retaliate (“If you hurt me, then I will hurt you!”). Problems in the home begin with problems in the heart. Once selfishness is faced, then biblical marriage counseling seeks to help the couple to work together toward the common goal of exalting God by enjoying and empowering one another to reflect Christ.

12. How do I know if I need biblical marriage counseling?

A couple should consider biblical marriage counseling when they find that their efforts to stop manipulating and retaliating are unsuccessful. When you find that selfishness rules, that you are not enjoying one another, that you are not empowering one another, and that you are not helping one another to grow in Christ, then it is time. Symptoms of these deeper heart issues include poor communication, inability to handle conflict, lack of sexual and relational intimacy, and unmanaged moods.

Biblical marriage counseling helps couples to understand God’s pattern for husband-wife relationships, diagnoses unbiblical patterns and their root causes, and prescribes God’s solutions for soul change that leads to relational growth. Biblical marriage counseling should result in enhanced relationship: closeness with Christ, intimacy with your spouse, and a sense of greater peace (shalom) in each person’s soul.

13. What is biblical family counseling?

In biblical family counseling, the focus is soul-u-tions, not simply external solutions. Your counselor will help you to understand God’s design for healthy family living, will assist you to assess unhealthy and unbiblical ways of relating as parents and children, and will equip you to reconcile and grow in your family relationships. The Bible presents at least five healthy keys to family living (dedication, discernment, devotion, discipline, and discipleship), identifies at least three common sinful family ways of relating (Pharisaical, neglectful, possessive), and prescribes how each of the types of families can return to healthy functioning.

14. How do I know that I need biblical family counseling?

When children are consistently dishonoring and distancing themselves from their parents, then family counseling is needed. When parents are consistently failing to balance devotion and discipline (holiness and love), then family counseling is needed. Biblical family counselors will help family members to understand and apply the principles of dedication to God, devotion to one another, discernment of biblical principles, discipline of heart foolishness, and discipleship toward heart wisdom.

As with marriage counseling, the end goal of family counseling is not simply the resolution of surface symptoms. The desire is increased honoring love from children to parents, and increased holy love from parents to children so that the family enjoys one another and empowers one another thus exalting God.

15. In marriage and family counseling, what if a spouse, parent, or child does not want counseling?

No one can force another person to open his or her heart to help. While a parent can “force” a child to attend counseling, the child still can choose whether or not to engage in the counseling process. While a spouse can “guilt” a spouse into going to marriage counseling, the spouse can still choose whether or not to receive counsel.

So what do you do? You pray for your desires and you work for your goals. In other words, pray that your spouse, child, or parent will go to counseling and be receptive. But leave that to God. Then work toward your goals—go to counseling even if you must go alone or work alone. Open yourself to God changing you—your relationships, thoughts, attitudes, motivations, goals, actions, behaviors, and emotional responses. Many times it is these very changes that God uses to soften the heart of other family members.

What the Bible Says About Counseling

Source:  Bill Bellican

God’s Word has much to say about His Truth/Counsel, His willingness and ability to help us come into the light, and how desperately we have need for His help to be able to live a meaningful, balanced, and Godly life.

[Selected Scriptures – NIV]

  • Genesis 18:14a

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

  • Job 12:22

He (God) reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.

  • Psalm 16:7a

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me…

  • Psalm 43:3a

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me.

  • Psalm 119:24

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors

  • Psalm 119:130a

The unfolding of your words gives light.

  • Proverbs 2:6

For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

  • Proverbs 8:14, 17b

Counsel and sound judgement are mine; I have understanding and power… those who seek me find me.

  • Proverbs 12:18

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

  • Proverbs 12:25

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

  • Jeremiah 17:9-10a,12-14

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.   Who can understand it?  I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind… Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

  • Jeremiah 20:12a

O Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind…

  • Daniel 2:22

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him.

  • Micah 7:8b-9b

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light… He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.

  • Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

  • Luke 13:2

When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman you are set free from your infirmity.”

  • John 8:32,36

Jesus said… “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

  • John 10:10

Jesus said… “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

  • John 14:6a

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

  • John 16:13a

“But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

  • Acts 26:17b-18

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

  • Romans 8:6

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

  • Romans 12:2b

…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

  • 1 Corinthians 4:5b

He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness…

  • 2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.   On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • Galatians 5:1a

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

  • Galatians 5:1a

You, my brothers, were called to be free.

  • Ephesians 1:18a

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…

  • Ephesians 3:17b-21

And I pray that you… may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory… for ever and ever!

  • Ephesians 6:11-12

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

  • Philippians 4:13

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

  • Hebrews 4:12-13

For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him whom we must give account.

  • James 1:5-6a

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…

  • 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God… who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

  • 1 John 5:6b

… the Spirit is the truth.

 

God Speaking To You

Source:  Jan Johnson

If the Bible is merely words on a page, you are missing out on God’s primary way of speaking to you and me.  Try taking a passage of Scripture from that viewpoint: God wants to speak it to you.  As you read it, speak those words aloud to yourself from God’s (or Jesus’) point of view.  Better yet, write them down; best yet, do both.  Paraphrase the words and pull in phrases from elsewhere in Scripture if they fit.

Here are two examples (please read these aloud and insert your name):

“_____ (your name), don’t worry.  Just keep trusting me.  I will never leave you isolated; I am your constant companion, always at your side.  You are in me and I am in you.  You really can live in union with me.  The Counselor—the Holy Spirit—is eager to teach you everything you need to know and remind you when you forget.  Doing the things I’ve told you will bond you to me even more and give you a rich life in God.  My companionship will provide you with a peace that the world cannot give, cannot experience, and cannot even understand.  You really don’t need to be troubled or afraid of anything ever again” (John 14:1, 18, 20, 23, 26-27).

And,

“___ I want you to truly know me.  I want to give you spiritual power—resurrection sort of power.  This will mean you have to let go of quite a bit, especially those things you regard as success.  But you won’t be sorry because you’ll bask in the surpassing richness of knowing me as your all in all. You’ll need to lay aside certain things that look good (and you’ll see how silly it was to hold on to them) so that you can gain more of me and make me your own.  It will gradually become clear to you and others that you are mine—not because you do good things—but because you radiate a self-forgetful unassuming goodness that can come only from me.”

“Now, _____, you aren’t there yet, but press in—don’t give up—because I’ve got a hold of you and I am doing this in you.  You’re going to have to forget, to let go of, and to lay aside the glories (and faults) of yesterday, last year and ten years ago, and then turn your attention and energy toward me and the with-God life I’m drawing you into.  Trust me more than ever before” (Philippians 3:7-14, beginning with the theme verse: 10).

You may think, I can’t do it like that.  Try it anyway.  You’ll probably do it better because the Holy Spirit knows you so well and will provide the words you need.  Try not to use churchy language.  Jesus spoke in everyday Aramaic and the New Testament was written in koine (common, not classical) Greek so today God speaks to you in everyday language.  In this way, you can hear Jesus speak these words to you today.

 

Meditating on God's Word

(Adapted from The Disciplines of The Holy Spirit by Siang-Yang Tan)

Without meditation, the ways for appropriating God’s Word will be futile and unfruitful. Prayer, as well, can be empty and devoid of the Holy Spirit’s power without meditation on the Bible.

George Muller made a significant discovery about the critical importance of meditation and the crucial connection between meditation and prayer that revolutionized his spiritual life.

Now, I saw that the most important thing was to give myself to the reading of God’s Word, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warmed, reproved, instructed, and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord�.Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God, and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it and applying it to our hearts.

Meditation is pondering over Scripture verses or passages in such a way that the written Word of God becomes a living Word of God applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The two primary words for meditation in the Bible mean “to murmur or mutter” and “to speak to one’s self.” Meditation is a process of thinking through language that takes place in the heart or inner life. The truth being meditated upon moves from the mouth (murmuring), to the mind (reflective thinking), and finally to the heart (outer action).

This process is sometimes referred to as lectio divina (divine reading) where we listen to Scripture deeply with the ears of our hearts. We are like Elijah, listening for the still, small voice of God, the faint murmuring sound that is God’s Word for us, the voice of the Holy Spirit touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an attunement to the Presence of God in Scripture. Once a word or passage in the Bible speaks to us in a personal way, we can take it and begin to ponder it in our hearts, soaking ourselves in the passage. We can ask, “What is happening here? What are the sounds, smells, feelings? Why is God focusing me on this verse or idea? What does He want me to understand? Why do I need this word from God? How do I respond? Is there an example for me to follow, a sin to avoid, a command to obey, a promise to claim?” In meditation, we seek to enter into the Scripture and live in it. As we move from detached observation to active participation in the Scripture, our imaginations become active. Some have objected to using the imagination out of fear of its “subjective” focus and potential for self-deception or use by the enemy. But Jesus appealed to the imaginations of His listeners as He taught and told parables. While there is reason for caution and safeguards, we believe God can sanctify the imagination, just as He does our human reason, and work His good purposes through it.

Here are some simple steps we encourage for meditating or “living into Scripture”:

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to you and guide you as you read a passage of Scripture.

2. Read through the passage you are meditating on several times, listening for the still, small voice of God and waiting upon the leading of the Spirit.

3. Ponder the verse or two that grabs your attention or touches you in some way. Picture what is happening.

4. Put yourself in the picture. Ask questions. Allow a dialogue to unfold inside of you; let your imagination and senses be instruments for revelation from the Holy Spirit.

5. Be open to the ways God may want to speak to you directly through His Word through a personal encounter as you ask questions as you place yourself in the scene, even perhaps as Jesus comes directly to you in the scene in which you have entered.

6. Take time to share what God has said to you with an accountability partner or wise friend. This provides protection by checking what comes from your time of meditation, helps to reinforce God’s Word to you, and encourages and blesses others in their journey of faith.

The Holy Spirit can speak the living Word of God to your heart. The Holy Spirit is the One who enables us to understand the thoughts and things of God. Without His ministry as Teacher of truth and Revealer of God’s mind and heart to us, we will not be able to know or understand God or spiritual things (see 1 Cor. 2:6-16). With this in mind, always begin your reading, study, and meditation by asking for the Spirit’s illumination and guidance, and throughout the process of getting into God’s Word, be sensitive to His voice speaking to you!

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