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Bible Minute

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#1
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 13, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
Faithful Failures

Many popular preachers are teaching that if you have faith, nothing bad can befall you. You can be healed of all your diseases; delivered from all your financial woes and be blessed with every good thing.

But is that what the Bible teaches? Let's look at some "men of faith" to find out.

What Does God Say?

"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, ESV).

* What did God permit to keep Paul humble?
* What was Paul's response?
* What did God provide instead of healing?
* What was Paul's response when God chose not to heal him?

"And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'" (Matthew 8:20, ESV).

* What did Jesus lack?
* How is this contrary to popular teaching today?

My Thoughts

When we look at the examples of people of faith in the Bible, we find their lives were filled with hardships and difficulties like everyone else. In addition to Paul and Jesus, there was Abraham who left his friends and family to live in the desert. Moses spent 40 years herding sheep and then 40 years leading a ragtag group of rebellious grumblers. David lost one son in infancy and two adult sons by murder. Timothy suffered stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). Epaphroditus became so ill he almost died (Philippians 2:27). Trophimus had to be left behind at Miletus because he was too sick to travel (2 Timothy 4:20).

If you are having difficulties, don't blame your lack of faith. Faith doesn't prevent problems; it helps you survive them.

My Part

What are you doing to increase your faith? Based on your study today, indicate one step that you are going to take in this next week to increase your faith.

#2
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 11, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
God Calling

A professor sat at his desk one evening working on the next day's lectures. His housekeeper had laid that day's mail and papers on his desk, and he began to shuffle through them discarding most in the wastebasket. He then noticed a magazine, which was not even addressed to him but delivered to his office by mistake. It fell open to an article titled "The Needs of the Congo Mission."

Casually he began to read when he was suddenly consumed by these words: "The need is great here. We have no one to work the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo. And it is my prayer as I write this article that God will lay His hand on one--one on whom, already, the Master's eyes have been cast--that he or she shall be called to this place to help us." Professor Albert Schweitzer closed the magazine and wrote in his diary: "My search is over." He gave himself to the Congo.

God may be calling you. Perhaps He's calling you to a ministry. Maybe He's calling you to put away habits that are hindering your spiritual growth. How should you respond? Let's look at the example of Abraham.

What Does God Say

God told Abram: "The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you."

"So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth--his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran--and headed for the land of Canaan." (Genesis 12:1-5, NLT).

Obedient faith, that's how to begin the journey--especially the journey of leaving the past and/or our past lives behind. And when we respond to God and His guiding, we'll find ourselves on the journey of a lifetime--a journey that God blesses.

* What are the lessons you learn from Abraham's response to God's call in the above Scripture?
* Which of these lessons do you have the most difficulty applying?
* What did God promise Abraham?

My Thoughts

When God calls us to leave behind our old lives, it doesn't necessarily mean a physical leaving like Abraham's move to a distant land, but it could mean something even harder--like leaving bad relationships or old habits.

* How can you let go of those kinds of things in order to follow Jesus?
* How will you measure your success?

My Part

Get alone with God. Spend time in prayer. Make the right decisions, decisions that square with God's will and God's Word. And then, spend a lot of time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to give you strength, to give you wisdom, to give you the right timing and the courage necessary to step out on your journey of faith. If you have someone who can help you, then accept their support; if not, the Holy Spirit is more than enough help to give you a clean break with your past.

#3
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 12, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
Defining Faith First

In today's Bible Minute radio spot, Dr. Kroll defines faith as "a confidence in the righteous character of God that fosters trust and hope when our circumstances foster doubt and despair." That's a good thing to have in writing. And it's based on how we see faith develop and act throughout the Bible.

What Does God Say?

Faith begins to grow in us when we recognize the righteous character of God. You see it in action in the Bible when people choose to put their confidence in Him, no matter what their circumstances.

For example, Job was a man who was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1, ESV). The foundation of his faith was related to the righteous character of God. When his world came crashing in, he held fast to his faith in God's character. Job 1:20-21 tells us "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD'" (ESV). And in the midst of his suffering he could still say,

"'Though he [God] slay me, I will hope in him'" (Job 13:15, ESV).

Like today's working definition, Job placed his confidence in the righteous character of God and found hope, even when his circumstances brought nothing but doubt and despair.

In David's Psalms, we see the same kind of faith in action. David had plenty of experience with setbacks, enemies and troubles that overwhelmed him. Yet his faith started early and served as the core for the rest of his life. In 1 Samuel 17:37, David said to Saul, "'The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine'" (ESV). He already had faith in God's character to deliver him. And that never changed throughout his life. Read Psalm 31 or 59 and look for both his circumstances and his faith. You'll see that it's faith that always wins out.

When you start with confidence in the righteous character of God, you'll find what you need to face life with hope rather than despair.

My Thoughts

Hebrews 11 offers this pattern of "faith first." Read 11:4-40 with these questions in mind:

* What did each person do "by faith"?
* What circumstances were they in? (See references below.
* How do you see their faith in handling those circumstances?
* How is God's righteous character reflected or active?

Hebrews 11 doesn't give all the details so look up these additional references if needed, or pick several to examine their story more closely.

Abel: Genesis 4:1-16

Enoch: Genesis 5:21-24

Noah: Genesis 6:11-22; 7:1-10; 8:15-22

Abraham: Genesis 12:1-6; 15:1-6; 17:15-21; 21:1-7; 22

Sarah: Genesis 18:9-15; 21:1-7

Isaac: Genesis 27

Jacob: Genesis 48

Joseph: Genesis 50:22-26

Moses: Exodus 2:1-15; 12:1-28; 13:3-16

Rahab: Joshua 2; 6:25

Gideon: Judges 6:11-24; 7:19-23

Barak: Judges 4-5

Samson: Judges 13; 16:23-31

Jephthah: Judges 11:1-28

Samuel: 1 Samuel 3; 7:3-17 (much of 1 Samuel)

David: see 1 & 2 Samuel.

My Part

Faith is not dependent on our circumstances or even our feelings but on the character of God. Faith in God comes first. If you choose to anchor yourself to Him, you're choosing faith. So, do a little evaluation of your faith condition today:

* What do you know about the righteous character of God?
* How much do you put your confidence in Him?
* Is there someone or something else you occasionally place your confidence in?
* What circumstances cause doubt and despair in your life?
* What can you do today to shift your confidence to God and allow for hope instead?
* What would you like to do "by faith" in your life?

#4
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 13, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
Faithful Failures

Many popular preachers are teaching that if you have faith, nothing bad can befall you. You can be healed of all your diseases; delivered from all your financial woes and be blessed with every good thing.

But is that what the Bible teaches? Let's look at some "men of faith" to find out.

What Does God Say?

"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, ESV).

* What did God permit to keep Paul humble?
* What was Paul's response?
* What did God provide instead of healing?
* What was Paul's response when God chose not to heal him?

"And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'" (Matthew 8:20, ESV).

* What did Jesus lack?
* How is this contrary to popular teaching today?

My Thoughts

When we look at the examples of people of faith in the Bible, we find their lives were filled with hardships and difficulties like everyone else. In addition to Paul and Jesus, there was Abraham who left his friends and family to live in the desert. Moses spent 40 years herding sheep and then 40 years leading a ragtag group of rebellious grumblers. David lost one son in infancy and two adult sons by murder. Timothy suffered stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). Epaphroditus became so ill he almost died (Philippians 2:27). Trophimus had to be left behind at Miletus because he was too sick to travel (2 Timothy 4:20).

If you are having difficulties, don't blame your lack of faith. Faith doesn't prevent problems; it helps you survive them.

My Part

What are you doing to increase your faith? Based on your study today, indicate one step that you are going to take in this next week to increase your faith.

#5
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 14, 2011
Topic: Prayer, Obedience/Discipleship, God
Promises & Prayer

God has made many promises to us. One is that He will hear and answer our prayers. His answers may not come at the time or in the way we expect, but He still keeps His promise. Just ask Abraham.

What Does God Say?

Abraham's greatest prayer was for a son. God listened and at least six times, He promised an answer. Genesis 15:4-6 gives us one example. "Then the LORD said to him, 'No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.' Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, 'Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!' And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith" (NLT).

Sure, Abraham had to wait years to see his prayer answered; and, even then, he saw only one or two more generations, not the whole nation God had promised. But that was something he trusted to God.

This promise to answer is one of the great promises God makes to you and me. Isaiah 30:19 tells us to have confidence in God because "He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you" (ESV). Jesus said, "You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!" (John 14:13-14, NLT).

My Thoughts

God promises to hear and answer our prayers, but we also need to understand prayer better. What do you observe about prayer in these verses?

Psalm 86:1-7
James 1:5-8
1 John 5:13-15

The following verses give you several reasons why God answers prayer. What are they?

John 17:1-5
Numbers 14:17-21; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Exodus 32:12-13

My Part

God hears your prayers, and He's promised to answer. But what if you have to wait, like Abraham did? Or if the answer isn't what you thought you wanted? That's when you do what Abraham did and believe God. Trust Him to do what's best according to His will (Matthew 6:10). That's how Jesus prayed: "'My Father...not as I will, but as you will'" (Matthew 26:39, ESV). Some call this the "prayer that never fails," because it means you're willing for God to do exactly what He thinks is best and you'll leave it to Him.

Try including that statement in your prayers. Feel free to lay out all the details before God but entrust those details to Him for the best possible solution. You may even want to do it in writing if it helps you. Borrowing a prayer from God's Word is good, too--try Psalm 86 that you read earlier.

#6
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 17, 2011
Topic: Christian Living/Situational, Obedience/Discipleship
Running Ahead of God

We often think that only in modern times have humans become impatient. We have fast cars, fast computers and fast food. We use cell phones now, so we don't have to wait to talk to our friends--and with the rise of texting, writing out whole words can be tiresome--idk y, ttyl (I don't know, why?; talk to you later).

But humans have always been impatient. It's always been hard to wait, and if we have to wait too long, we often take matters into our own hands. Over 4,000 years ago, Abraham and his wife did that very thing.

What Does God Say?

Genesis 15 ends with this wonderful promise from God to Abraham: "'To your offspring I give this land'" (Genesis 15:18, ESV). Abraham and Sarah didn't have any children at the time, so they knew they'd have to wait. Problem was, Abraham was 86 years old and Sarah was around 76 years old when chapter 16 begins.

Sarah took matters into her own hands and gave Hagar, her handmaiden to Abraham, to bear children. The results were less than perfect. Jealousy arose between Sarah and Hagar. Hagar boasted that she could have children and Sarah couldn't. And, finally, Sarah kicked the pregnant Hagar out of the house. So much for trying to fulfill God's promises on her own.

As it happened, Abraham and Sarah would have to wait another 14 years until Isaac was born. And when it happened, it was perfectly clear that it was God providing the child and not some scheme of Sarah and Abraham's.

My Thoughts

As you read Genesis 16, think about the following questions:
What are the consequences of Sarah and Abraham's actions?
How do you see the graciousness of God at work?
What things do you have trouble waiting on God for?

My Part

It's interesting that, as far as I can tell, God never specifically punishes Sarah and Abraham for taking matters into their own hands. It's a reminder that the consequences of our sins are often punishment enough. Maybe you're dealing with the consequences today of trying to move too fast, of getting ahead of God. Remember the words of 1 John 1:9 as you pray today and allow God to restore you to the right path.

#7
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 18, 2011
Topic: Christian Living/Situational, Salvation
Being Right

Mark Twain said, "Always do right. This will gratify most people, and astonish the rest." If that were only possible, Twain might be right. But all of us know that "always doing right" is a pretty impossible standard. Fortunately, God has a different standard. Rather than "do right," He wants us to "be right." Let's see how the Bible distinguishes between these two.

What Does God Say?

The focus of the Law was on "doing right." But look at what Paul says in Romans 4:1-6.

What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

"But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works" (NKJV).

* What was the basis for Abraham's righteousness?
* Read Genesis 15:4-6. What did Abraham believe?
* Read the following verses and indicate what they tell you about "being right" (righteousness):

Ephesians 2:8-9
John 3:16-17
John 1:12

My Thoughts

Righteousness is having a "right" relationship with God. As the verses above indicate, that relationship comes not by "doing right" but by believing (faith) that God has provided the way to this right relationship through His Son, Jesus Christ. Abraham had faith that Someone from his descendents would be a blessing to all the nations (Genesis 22:18 ). We, for our part, have faith that God sent that Someone in the person of Jesus Christ.

Whether we lived in Abraham's time or we live today, righteousness comes not from "doing right" but from "being right." And we can only "be right" through faith in Jesus Christ.

My Part

Take a few moments today to thank God for the righteousness which is ours not by works but through Jesus Christ. We can "be right" with Him because Jesus died for our sins. If you are not right with God, you can become "right" by accepting Christ as your Savior. To find out more about how to do that, click here.

#8
nChrist

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 19, 2011
Topic: Doubt/Fear, Bible Characters, Faith/Trust
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.

What Does God Say?

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.

My Thoughts

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?

My Part

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.

#9
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 20, 2011
Topic: Holiness
A Godly Person

Every state has a slogan. In Nebraska, where I'm from, ours was until recently: " Nebraska, The Good Life." It's certainly an appealing slogan because we all want good lives. But when I read my Bible, I find there's something even better than a good life--it's a godly life.

What Does God Say?

Although many passages of Scripture deal with the topic of a godly life, let's look at Psalm 4. Verse 3 says, "But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself" (ESV).

Here's one reason to live a godly life:

When we seek to follow God's commands and live in obedience to Him, He sets us apart for Himself. We receive all the benefits of living in close relationship to God: His presence in our lives, His peace and, on top of all that, eternal life.

Here's another reason:

"You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound" (Psalm 4:7, ESV). The source of joy and contentment for the godly person is God Himself; a treasure that will never diminish and can never be taken away.

And a third reason:

It pleases God when I choose to live a godly life. Leviticus 11:44 says, "For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy" (ESV). The word "holy" means "set apart" as Psalm 4 described godly people. God wants us to be a people who are "set apart" from the world and focused on Him, eager to do His will.

There are more benefits to living the godly life to be found in Psalm 4, and we'll look at those in the next sections.

My Thoughts

As you read Psalm 4:1-8 think about the following questions:

1. How is God described in this Psalm?

2. What characteristics of God in Psalm 4 make you want to please Him?

3. What actions characterize the godly life?

4. How does God respond to the godly person?

My Part

Woodrow Kroll ends every Back to the Bible broadcast with the familiar words, "Have a good and godly day. For of what lasting value is a good day if it is not also a godly day."

1. What would a godly day look like for you?

2. What changes would you have to make to live a godly day?

3. Have you experienced the benefits of the godly life described in Psalm 4?

Find someone to encourage with this message.

#10
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 21, 2011
Topic: Holiness
The Value of Godliness

The arrival of the Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska each spring is a sight never to be forgotten. Hundreds of thousands of the great, graceful birds flock to the central part of the state to gather together in fields and lakes for a time of feeding before they continue their long migration.

Another event involving birds that occasionally draws attention is the ominous, soaring, circling of several huge turkey vultures as they zero in on a dead or dying animal below.

Now, you'll notice that the cranes don't spend time flying with the vultures and the vultures are not at all interested in hanging around with live cranes.

Several centuries ago, an observant person came up with the proverb: "Birds of a feather flock together."

And that relates to what we want to think about today in our Bible Minute. People are not cranes or vultures, but people do tend to hang out with their own crowd. When that happens, they tend to become more and more like their companions.

What Does God Say?

Part of God's will for His people is that they reflect His glory and His character. The Holy Spirit works in the life of Christians to make them more like God. God-likeness or godliness ought to be the mark of every believer. First Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV) says, "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 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."

So, how do you become a godly person? Well, you have to spend time with God. You need to be His constant companion. How do you spend time with Him? You hear from Him through His written Word and you fellowship with Him in prayer. The Bible says,

"But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for Himself;
the LORD hears when I call unto Him" (Psalm 4:3 ESV).

The Bible speaks plainly about the dangers of spending your time with companions that drag you down into ungodliness. First Corinthians 15:33 ( ESV) says, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" What kinds of wrong company can you spot in the following verses? Make a note of each.

* Proverbs 13:20
* Proverbs 16:29
* Proverbs 20:19
* Proverbs 22:5
* Proverbs 22:24-25
* Proverbs 29:24
* 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (note especially the last warning in verse 5)

On the other hand, godliness comes from being in the presence of God. If sin in a Christian's life has disrupted communication with God, then he or she must do what David did, recorded in Psalm 32:5-6 (ESV):

"I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,'
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found"

My Thoughts

John Gilmour, a godly British man who loved to witness for Christ, always carried Gospel books to give to people as he had opportunity.

One day Gilmour was walking through a village when he came across an old Irishman selling lids, kettles and saucepans. Gilmour greeted the man,

"Good morning, how is business today?"

"Oh, I can't complain," the Irishman said.

Then Gilmour remarked, "What a grand thing it is to be saved!"

The old man looked at him and replied, "I know something better than that."

"Better than being saved? I would like to know what that is."

Smiling warmly, the man responded, "The companionship of the Man who saved me, sir."

My Part

Which companions are most influential in your life right now? Are you "training yourself for godliness" as 1 Timothy 4:7-8 says? What does your training regime include?

* Prayer?
* Regular Bible study?
* Confession of all known sin?
* Meditation on the person and presence of Christ?
* Enjoyment of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?

If you are missing one or more of these, add it to your regime today.

#11
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 24, 2011
Topic: Holiness, God
God's Judgment

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? Those are not easy questions, and the Bible does not always provide an answer or understanding that satisfies us. But there is a question the Bible does answer to our satisfaction: Why do bad things happen to bad people? Let's see what the Bible teaches.

What Does God Say?

"So the Lord told Abraham, 'I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know " (Genesis 18:20-21, NLT).

* What is it that attracted the attention of God to Sodom and Gomorrah?
* What do you think might be the cause of the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah?
* Who do you think might have been the source of that outcry?

My Thoughts

After seeing or hearing the news reports regarding school shootings, child abductions, home invasions and all the other horrifying incidences happening today have you ever asked, "Why does God let such wicked things keep happening?" The more conscious you are of how ungodly our world is, the more that question can haunt you. When will God ever punish the evildoers? We know that at the end of time, God will judge all those not in Christ for the sins they have committed. But there are times even now, before the final judgment, when God says to the wicked, "That's enough."

And that is what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.

"Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation" (Genesis 19:24-25, NLT).

Why do you think the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was justified?

My Part

The judgment of God is a terrible thing, but His heart is always turned to mercy if we will repent and respond to His grace.

"The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent" (2 Peter 3:9, NLT).

Now would be a good time to turn to God in repentance (because our sins grieve His heart), in gratitude (because His mercy is extended to us) and in worship (because He is a God of judgment and love).

If you don't know this God, click on "Meet Jesus." to find out more about how your sins can be forgiven.

#12
nChrist

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 25, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
Promises, Promises

A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Someone has observed: "America is always a land of promise during an election." The political candidate who promises jobs and a utopia but can't deliver; the bridegroom who promises lifelong commitment, then is unfaithful to his wife; the soldier who pledges loyalty to his country but goes AWOL--all demonstrate that promises can be empty.

What Does God Say?

God promises, however, are never empty. They are totally trustworthy. It seems like you can find gracious promises on almost every page of His Book. Though many of His promises are already completed, there are loads more yet to be fulfilled. God made promises to the first couple as soon as He created them, assuring them of His provision and His purposes (Genesis 1:26-29). When they broke faith with their Creator and sinned, their future seemed hopeless. But God promised them a Savior (Genesis 3:15). And His promises endured and flourished down through the generations of Old Testament history. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and others received promises from God, assuring them of a wonderful future, although they often didn't see the fulfillment during their lifetimes.

Now is a good time for you to take your Bible and turn to Hebrews 11:1-13. Note especially verses 8-10 and verse 13.

* What was Abraham's response to God's promise (11:8 )?
* What was Abraham looking for in the future (11:10)?

If Abraham and others didn't see the fulfillment, what good was the promise? Well, God's promises are the soil in which faith grows. Look at Hebrews 11:13.

* Does it say they died hopeless? How did they die? What had they seen in the promises God gave them? How did it make them look at this life?

Why does God delay the fulfillment of many promises? Read Hebrews 11:39-40 very thoughtfully. What does it say about "us," we who also wait in faith?

My Thoughts

Take a moment to reflect on the promises of God fulfilled in the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ's birth fulfilled promises to Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, Anna--and all who sat in darkness and the shadow of death.

But the birth and ministry of Christ Jesus added even more promises that you, as a believer, share in today. Try to find the promises that include you in each of the following verses. Jot them down.

* 2 Peter 1:3-4
* Ephesians 1:13
* James 1:12
* James 2:5
* 2 Peter 3:13

My Part

The psalmist expressed something in Psalm 119:123 that all believers should look for--the final outcome of our salvation. Memorize this short verse from the ESV:

"My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise."

And read 2 Peter 3:4-9. Our Lord is coming! Are you ready?

#13
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 26, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
Flourishing Faith

When we experience the goodness and the greatness of God, we get all excited--perhaps we even want to express it with music like the composers of these well-known songs.

"Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow"

"O For a Thousand Tongues"

But is there anything about us that excites the Lord?

What Does God Say?

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, "'I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel!'" (Matthew 8:10, NLT ).

Read Matthew 8:5-10 and answer these questions:

1. What was happening in these verses?
2. What makes the fact that the centurion was a Roman significant?
3. What reason did the soldier give for his faith?
4. What words did Jesus use that showed He was excited?

When our faith is flourishing, the Lord is pleased. And not surprisingly the opposite is true.

"And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" (Matthew 8:26, KJV).

"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30, KJV).

"Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14:31, KJV).

1. What phrase does Jesus use again and again in these verses?
2. Why do you think in every scripture listed above Jesus asked a question?
3. From what Jesus says in these verses in Matthew, how do you think He is feeling?

My Thoughts

Read the following verse and answer this question: Why do you think Jesus wants your faith to flourish?

"The Lord answered, 'If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, "May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea," and it would obey you!'" (Luke 17:6, NLT).

After reading the questions and verses above, you might be wondering, How can I help my faith grow? Dr. Kroll, Bible Teacher and author provides some help.

Our faith flourishes when it's placed in the power of God. "'With God [Me],'" Jesus says, "all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26, NKJV). So, if you have faith in the power of God, God will do things that you don't even believe possible in your own life."

The power of God is one of three places to put our faith so that it will flourish and increase. Here are the other two: the Word of God and the promises of God.

My Part

Where do you begin? Paul tells us:

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17, NKJV).

The Word will reveal the promises of God that lay the foundation for your faith. In the Word, you will discover the greatness of God's power and that will strengthen and encourage your faith. Your faith can not only grow, it can flourish when placed in God's Word, God's promises and God's power.

#14
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 27, 2011
Topic:
The Promise Keeper

Someone has estimated that there are 7,487 promises in the Bible. Of course some of them are made to specific individuals or groups of people. But many of them can be claimed by you and me.

The question is, however, can we trust God to fulfill them? Owen Felltham, a 17th century English writer, put it well when he said, "Promises may get friends, but it is performance that keeps them." So, what is God's performance record when it comes to fulfilling His promises? Let see what the Bible says.

What Does God Say?

"But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us--by me, Silvanus, and Timothy--was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1:18-22, NKJV).

* What does Paul mean when he says his words were not "Yes and No"?
* Where are God's promises found to be a "Yes"?
* What is the guarantee that God's promises will be fulfilled?

My Thoughts

All of God's promises from Genesis to Revelation are focused on one person--Jesus Christ. In Him the promises of our salvation, the redemption of Israel, our future in heaven and everything else find their fulfillment. When doubts about God's faithfulness to His Word crop up, open your Bible to the Gospels, and read again about the fulfillment of God's promises. As Paul reminds us in Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare His own Son , but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (NKJV).

My Part

Read the Gospel of Matthew. As you read, keep a notebook handy to record the promises that you find fulfilled through the life and death of Jesus.

#15
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jan 28, 2011
Topic: Obedience/Discipleship
Tested by God

Do you like taking tests? My favorite tests are the ones I give, not those I have to take. But being a Christ-follower means I will face tests. After walking with the Lord for a time, I thought the tests might get easier. They don't. And now I know that the only thing I can be sure of is that any day could bring a test.

What Does God Say?

Do you wonder why those who follow God are tested? Look at following verses and answer the questions.

"It was there at Marah that the LORD set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, 'If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you'" (Exodus 15:25-26, NLT).

1. What did the Lord expect from His people?
2. What could the people expect if they kept all the Lord's commands?

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Look, I'm going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions" (Exodus 16:4, NLT).

1. What was the Lord planning to do to feed the Israelites?
2. What were the people required to do?
3. What did God want to learn about the people?

"Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands" (Deuteronomy 8:2, NLT).

1. Where were the Israelites living?
2. How long did they live there?
3. What two things did God want to find out about the Israelites during this time?

My Thoughts

Peter says: " Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12-14, ESV).

We have seen that God always tests His people, not for their harm but for their good. Are you being tested right now? The purpose is not to trip you up. God's purpose in the test is to refine, strengthen and deepen your faith so that you will follow Christ with peace and joy.

My Part

Write down a test that you are experiencing or have recently experienced. What have you learned from this test about yourself? What have you learned from this test about God? Share these lessons with another brother or sister in Christ.

#16
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Feb 1, 2011
Topic: Faith/Trust
What Faith Is

In order to develop a flourishing faith, we need to first understand what faith is. In some cases, the word faith is used as a synonym for religion when speaking of the Christian faith. In other cases, faith is used to describe a strong desire or expectation. But faith is much more than that. Let's look at Hebrews 11, one of the defining chapters of the Bible on the topic of faith.

What Does God Say?

Hebrews 11:1 is one of the most concise definitions of faith in the entire Bible. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (ESV). How often have you heard the words assurance and conviction used in relation to faith? Not often. Faith is often portrayed as standing against assurance and conviction--when you can't be sure of something or someone, you are told, "Have faith." That's not what the Bible says.

"For by it [faith], the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" (11:2-3, ESV).

If all we had were other people to put our faith in, then, of course, we couldn't have much reason for confidence. Even the best of us break our promises on occasion. But when we put our faith in God, we put our faith in the eternal, unchanging Creator of the universe. God declared, "I the LORD do not change" (Malachi 3:6, ESV). And it's because of His unchanging nature that we can have confident assurance that He will keep His promises.

How do we know what God has promised? We read what He has promised us in the Bible. We get to know God and draw near to Him. We learn what pleases Him. And then, like Abel, we will know the right sacrifice to bring to God; like Enoch, we will know the way to walk with the Lord.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6, ESV). A faith that is just a label you wear or is just a vague hope that things might get better is no faith at all. But a flourishing faith is a faith that takes God at His Word; a faith that knows God's Word.

My Thoughts

As you read Hebrews 11:1-6 again, think about the following questions:

1. What was it that caused Abel and Enoch to be commended?

2. How did they express their faith in God?

3. Hebrews 11:6 says that we must believe that God "rewards those who seek him." Look up the word rewards in a Bible commentary and learn what kind of rewards you can look forward to.

My Part

One of the benefits of faith is certainly the assurance of the promises of God.How many promises could you list right now? Go ahead and try. As you study the Word this week, pay particular attention to God's promises. Try making another list in a week and again in a month. Ask God to help you always remember the promises He has for you.

#17
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Feb 2, 2011
Topic: God, Faith/Trust
Trusting God's Program

You've likely seen the adventure movies where the hero's in a sticky situation and his sidekick worries out loud about getting through it alive. How does the hero respond? "Trust me, I have a plan." (But you and I both know he's really just making it up as he goes.)

God is not that kind of hero. He has a plan, a perfect plan designed to accomplish His goals for His glory--and for your good. Faith is all about trusting God, no matter what. As you get to know Him better through His Word, the Bible, you'll begin to see that He can be trusted even when you wonder about His program.

What Does God Say?

John the Baptist had been a good and faithful servant of God carrying out a demanding mission which came at a high price. Yet, even John had a few questions about God's plan. In Luke 7, we read that John, in prison, sent a message to Jesus. "And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'" (Luke 7:18-19, ESV). How John understood his mission depended on the answer to his question.

Jesus' response was simple: "And he answered them, 'Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers¬ are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me'" (Luke 7:22-23, ESV). He tells John to be confident in what he knows and believes because Jesus was doing exactly what Scripture said the Messiah would do.

Hebrews 11 offers us many examples of men and women who, like John, had questions about the plan of God (for example, Abraham in his desire for a son; Moses leading people out of slavery, etc.) but who, in faith, confidently obeyed and trusted God to work out His plan perfectly. They couldn't know all that God would do to accomplish His purposes, but they exercised faith that flourished and was commended. That's what we need too.

My Thoughts

Look what Hebrews 11 says about each of the following men; then review the original story.

Noah--Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 6:9-7:24.

* What was God's command or plan for Noah?
* If you were in Noah's shoes, what would make you question God's plan?
* How did Noah respond?

Moses--Hebrews 11:23-29; Exodus 3; 12:1-28; 14.

* What was God's mission or assignment for Moses?
* What do you think might make Moses question God's plan?
* How did Moses respond?

Gideon--Hebrews 11:32-34; Judges 6:1-27; 7

* What did God ask of Gideon?
* If you were in Gideon's position, what would make you question God's plan?
* How did Gideon respond?

My Part

We've looked at just a few examples of people who put their faith in God and trusted His plan, even when it seemed impossible.

* What do you learn from these men about God's plan, even when it's hard to understand?
* How does this challenge your faith in God?
* Where do you need to exercise your faith even though you don't understand?

In reality, you're not taking a big risk by doing this because God is completely trustworthy. Everyone from Hebrews 11 would tell you that, along with many others found in God's Word.

The more you know Him, the more you'll understand that faith in Him is a secure anchor. And while it's okay to wonder, don't let the questions keep you from growing in your faith and stepping out in trust. Remember what the Lord says in Isaiah 55:8-9:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts" (ESV).

#18
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Feb 3, 2011
Topic: Christian Living/Situational
Faith That Grows

Is salvation the end of the Christian life? If it is, on earth it's the front end.

The Bible teaches us that the faith we begin with is to be a faith that is growing and maturing.

What Does God Say?

Read the two scripture passages below and write down (in column form) at least three characteristics of those who have not grown in their faith (immature) and three characteristics of those who have (mature).

"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

"Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church" (Ephesians 4:11-15, NLT).

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's Word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong" (Hebrews 5:12-6:1, NLT.)

My Thoughts

What three characteristics are in your first column? How about your "mature" column? It's likely you want to be a growing, maturing follower of Christ. But how do you grow in your faith? Hebrews 12:1-2 gives this instruction:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne" (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT).

Answer these questions when you've finished reading the scripture above:

1. How are you supposed to deal with sin?
2. What "race" are you running?
3. What does "run with endurance" mean to you?
4. Who should you stay focused on while you are running this race?

Now, look at Romans 10:17:

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."

1. Where does faith come from?
2. What does staying in the Word have to do with your faith?
3. How many times a week do you read your Bible?
4. Would you like to read it more days? If so, make the commitment today to make that one small change in your life.

My Part

Faith is primarily a personal relationship with God that determines the priorities of one's life. As you stay focused on the Lord and stay in the Word, your faith grows. As your faith grows, you become more focused on Jesus and hunger more for His Word. Amazing how that works, isn't it?

#19
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Feb 4, 2011
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.

What Does God Say?

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.

My Thoughts

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.

My Part

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.

#20
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Daily Bible Study

Date: Feb 7, 2011
Topic: Obedience/Discipleship, Bible Characters
Integrity, by David

Integrity is not about being perfect or sinless. It's about being transparent before God, honest, faithful and committed. It means doing what you say you'll do. It means doing the right thing. Let's see how that worked for one man.

What Does God Say?

Integrity is really a heart issue. It's being upright and transparent before God, having the right character and motivation deep inside. Here's what the Bible says about King David:

"He [God] chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand" (Psalm 78:70-72, ESV).

Now, David was not perfect or sinless; just read 2 Samuel 11 to see his adultery with Bathsheba and the lengths to which he went to cover it up. But throughout his life, David was a man who walked before God in integrity.

Those who knew David, knew exactly what to expect from him. He didn't compromise his honor or God's plan to save his own life (1 Samuel 24:1-7; 26:6-20). He kept his promises to his friends (1 Samuel 20; 2 Samuel 9). He held back revenge even though he had many opportunities (1 Samuel 25). He forgave and even mourned his enemies (2 Samuel 1, 3, 15, 18 ). And with loyalty and faithfulness, David served Saul, the king he was chosen to replace (1 Samuel 16-18 ).

All these things are aspects of integrity in action. And in 1 Kings 9:4-5, God tells Solomon, the new king, to follow David's example, "And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father" (ESV, italics added).

My Thoughts

You don't have to be sinless to have integrity. But when you do sin, integrity determines how you deal with it. Go back to David's example after his adultery with Bathsheba. Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 11-12.

How do you see the following marks of integrity at work?

* Honesty before God about sin instead of trying to hide it.
* A willingness to accept the consequences of sin.
* A renewed commitment and faithfulness to God.

My Part

Integrity is really tested when you fall into sin or when difficulties and hardships come into your life. True integrity doesn't take the easy way out or blame God for not making life better. (See Job 1:20-2:10.)

Is your integrity being tested today? What can you do to maintain it? Where do you need God's help or a little more personal transparency before Him? What can you take from David's example to help you stand firm in your integrity?




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