Tag: living by faith

February 7, 2017 Melanie Newton

Look around you. Something is going on somewhere in your country, your town, your neighborhood or your family that’s got someone upset, nervous, or in panic mode—maybe even you. Cancer. Disaster. Job loss. Death. Enemy attack. For those of us who like to plan and control our environment so that our loved ones (and ourselves) can rest, relax, and be productive, these interruptions to life are very hard to bear. So, we try to escape to something that makes it go away for a while—a feel-good movie, book, or a retreat. But, then we get back to the rough-and-tumble of real life and find that whatever is stressing us is still there. Most stressors don’t last just for a day—more like a month or year or even a decade. Right?

In order to not only survive but also to thrive over a lifetime of ups and downs, we need to have something called perseverance, something the Bible says is good for us. But, perseverance is only learned when there is a challenge to our comfort. And, who likes that?

What is perseverance?

By definition, “perseverance” is holding to a course of action, belief, or purpose without giving way. Perseverance, often used interchangeably with the word endurance, is the quality that enables a person to stand on her feet when facing a storm head on. It refers to active staying power and tenacity to hold up under some long-term burden, not just getting stuck in traffic. It carries the idea of whole life experience. Sadly to say, we can’t learn it from a book. Bummer.

Jesus said we will surely have trouble in this world (John 16:33). Some trials and tribulations simply come from living in this fallen world and are common to all—illness and natural disasters. Other troubles are related to being a child of God living in an unbelieving world—persecution and rejection. Then there are those we inflict upon ourselves because of sin still present within us—usually resulting from bad choices—or troubles that others inflict upon us because of their bad choices. Either way, we get stuck with the results. Maybe that’s what you are experiencing right now.

The need for hope

Regardless of the cause of our struggles, we need a secure hope in order to "hang in there" over a lifetime. In Hebrews 6:19, hope is called an "anchor for the soul." That is a tremendous image—the picture of an anchor giving security and stability to a ship in the midst of a storm. That is what hope does for us, and more!

Our God is faithful. That is a fact. By trusting God through present difficulties and pains, we can remain steadfast because we know the outcome. Christ will complete the work He began in us that enables us to persevere over a lifetime. We can have a secure hope rooted in the faithfulness of God. Without hope, people give up. We can persevere through the rough-and-tumble of real life when we are empowered by our faith and sustained by our hope in an always faithful God.

The writer of Hebrews pointed to the one focus in life that can give us hope that lasts, “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). We must focus on what He is doing in the midst of what we are doing. It is our total confidence that Christ will complete the work He began in us that enables us to persevere through the rough-and-tumble of real life.

Prepare by instruction, learn by experience

God’s way of developing perseverance in our lives is this: “Prepare by instruction; learn by experience.” Have you noticed this in your life? Our instruction comes from the Bible, especially viewing the work of God in the lives of men and women during much of their lifetime. We can see God’s faithfulness to them and be confident in his faithfulness to us as well. He is the same God after all.

I heard this several years ago, and it has stayed with me.

When we look at life just with our own eyes, we become fearful, pessimistic, & negative. We think, “Nothing’s going to work. I don’t know if I can get through this.” But, when we look at the Bible and begin to see how God empowered everyday people like you and I, the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God to strengthen us and give us courage that we didn’t know we had.

That is so true. God is the best teacher.

Choosing to persevere

Perseverance involves a choice. And, there are rewards for choosing to persevere all the way to the finish. James 1:4 says we will have maturity, be complete and lacking nothing. Romans 5:5 says we will have hope that doesn’t disappoint. I like not being disappointed, don’t you?

•  Choose to persevere through the challenges you are facing (for days, weeks, years).

•  Count on God’s promise to give you hope—for today and for the future.

•  Let that hope sustain you through the rough-and-tumble of real life.

Are you ready to develop perseverance in your life? Here are some resources to help you:

Listen to an introduction to perseverance in this audio message:

SUSANNA WESLEY—A PORTRAIT OF PERSEVERANCE (SUSIE HAWKINS)

PERSEVERANCE AND PROMISE OF FAITH (VICKIE KRAFT)

Bible Study Leadership Made Easy. Learning to lead with confidence & grace. An online course at MelanieNewton.com.

 

January 31, 2017 Melanie Newton

Truth--the Prescription for Healthy Living. Dwell in truth you can know. Humbly accept the "I don't know or understand." Discern teaching through the whole lens of God's Word. melanienewton.comPicture this scenario. It’s 2 a.m. A baby is very fussy and restless. The mother awakes, goes to pick her child up out of the crib, and realizes that her infant who was healthy the day before is now burning with fever. There’s an infection in the small child’s body! The worried parent knows she must treat the infection through medicine and/or a visit to the doctor followed by rest and patiently waiting for the treatment to take hold. The baby will hopefully soon return to healthy living.

Heresy is an infection in the Body of Christ. It’s not just error; it is anti-truth! And like an infection in the human body, it always affects life so it must be addressed. Thankfully, the answer to all heresy is TRUTH! Knowing truth gives us a spiritual immune system that fights and prevents infection. That is the prescription for healthy living.

Dwell in Truth You Can Know

To "dwell" means to make your home in. It's what dominates your thoughts and attitudes, governs your life, has the most influence on you. God gives us plenty of truth in the Scriptures that we can know and trust. There are 66 books of revelation given. 1189 chapters. If we just took 1 chapter per day and wrote down all the truths about God and our relationship with Him that is revealed to us, it would take us more than 3 years to get through the whole Bible! God wants us to know the truth He has revealed. He wants us to make our home — to dwell — in that truth. It is for our own good!

Paul writes in Ephesians 1:17-19,

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him,—since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength." 

Look at all that God says we can KNOW. Each passage we read or study has plenty of truth that we can KNOW with certainty and allow to govern our lives. DWELL in truth you can know.

Humbly Accept the "I Don't Know or Understand"

In the midst of all those chapters are verses we just don't understand. Perhaps you don't understand it now but will in the future as you get more confident in Bible study and hear great teaching that helps you understand. But, there are things we will never know or understand.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says this,

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

Notice the emphasis on the things revealed — we can KNOW them. But, there are "secret things" the Lord has not revealed yet. As we study the Bible, we can do our best to try to understand what is written—examining the original words to see what the writer meant and what the audience understood, looking at cross-references to let the Bible interpret itself, and ask the Spirit for understanding. But, you may never understand what is written. Don't let that unnerve you. DWELL in truth you can know. And, HUMBLY ACCEPT the "I don't know or understand." 

Discern Teaching through the Whole Lens of God's Word

To dwell in the truth of God's Word, we must discern what we read and hear by looking through the whole lens of God's Word. We must not extract just pieces of it and build our foundation on that. Nor should we build our faith on experiences and feelings. There’s a lot of junk out there about God. That’s why it’s so important to really get to know the God of the Bible. We will never know all there is to know about God. There’ll always be some mystery about Him. But, there’s plenty enough revealed in the Bible that we can know Him truthfully and know our identity in Christ truthfully.

The Holy Spirit uses the Scripture we read and study to teach us about our God so we can know TRUTH and DWELL in that truth.

I read an article today that emphasized the dangerous teaching that comes from picking and choosing what you consider to be "truth." "7 False Teachers in the Church Today" by Tim Challies. All these false teachers through the centuries have taken advantage of people who were not dwelling in the truth portrayed in the whole Bible. DISCERN TEACHING through the whole lens of God's Word. 

Healthy Living. A study of Colossians & Philemon. What do you do to stay away from spiritual infection? This Bible study will help you. 12 lessons. The prescription for "healthy living" is to recognize any infection and give it up to accept the truth about Christ presented in God's Word. Resources for Healthy Living

The book of Colossians is all about what believers can know about Christ that is true. The book of Romans and Ephesians clearly teaches what we can know about our relationship with God as believers that is true. Here are two Bible studies that will help you to get firmly entrenched in truth you can know so that you can dwell there and stay spiritually healthy.

 

You can listen to this audio message about infection regarding who Jesus is and the truth that contradicts it. Download the notes here.

The prescription for healthy living for your spiritual life is truth.

•  Dwell in truth you can know.

•  Humbly accept the "I don't know or understand."

• Discern teaching through the whole lens of God's Word

This what I have been doing for more than 40 years. Thank you, God, that you have revealed many truths about yourself and the Christian life for me to know with certainty so that I can DWELL IN TRUTH I CAN KNOW! 

 


Bible Study Leadership Made Easy. Learning to lead with confidence & grace. An online course at MelanieNewton.com.

January 24, 2017 Melanie Newton

4 truths to cling to on your walk from fear to faithFEAR. You know that feeling. The pit in your stomach. The pounding of your heart. The rush of your thoughts as you go from just the possibility of a job loss to starving and being homeless—all in a matter of seconds. Gripped by fear. And, as crazy as it sounds, we need to think of fear as a gift. What?! Hear me out.

Fear is a normal human emotion designed by God to alert us to danger so that we will take action against it. But, we know fear has a dark side as well. I heard someone say that women are a fear-driven, performance-oriented species. Just reading the daily Facebook feed can panic us. Fear-driven. What does fear drive us to do? Usually nothing good, right?

Is it realistic to think we can live without fear? No! Our faithful God understands this about us. He doesn’t want us to stay there, disoriented and hopeless. He gives us the answer—Himself! This is the action He wants us to take.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (PSALM 56:3-4)

Fear will happen. We can let fear take root in us so that we give way to panic and hysteria. Are you prone to that? When we are afraid, God wants us to trust Him and not give way to fear. Learning to do that is our walk from fear to faith.

Here are 4 consistent truths that we can embrace and apply to our lives today on our WALK FROM FEAR TO FAITH.

Truth #1: God Loves You

John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus, so you could believe in Him and receive eternal life. You are part of that world that God loves. And, once you accept His gift of eternal life through your faith in His Son, you get even more of God’s love for you.

Jesus said in John 16 that “the Father God himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:27) He loves you!

Paul wrote in Romans 5 that God pours out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

As a believer in Jesus, the Father Himself loves you. He pours out His love into your heart so you can experience that love. You can count on Truth #1 — God loves you.

Truth #2: God Knows What Is Going on in Your Life

Jesus knew that His followers were stressing about food, clothing and shelter. Those essentials for daily life. So He told them in Matthew 6, “…do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the [unbelievers] run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6:31-32)

In Psalm 139, David describes how God is everywhere and knows everything about him. And, that is true for you. God knows what is going on in your life. And in my life. If He doesn’t, then He isn’t really God. He knows your needs and how best to meet those needs. You can count on Truth #2 — God knows what is going on in your life.

Truth #3: God Can Do Something About It

 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)

That’s what the angel of the Lord asks Sarah in Genesis 18. Since the angel lives in heaven with God, he should know. So, is anything impossible for the Lord? The answer is, NO! Another angel declared the same thing to Mary in Luke 1. “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

Both of these statements are made to women. We need that assurance, don’t we? Our God is all-powerful. He is capable of doing anything He chooses to do that is in agreement with His character and His purposes. We can count on Truth #3 — God can do something about IT. Whatever IT is.

Truth #4: You Can Trust His Goodness in Whatever He Chooses to Do

This is the sticky part, isn’t it? Can I believe that God is always good? And, I can think of a zillion ways that He can be “good to me” that don’t include bad things

The Bible says that God is good, and what He does is good. (“You are good, and what you do is good.” Psalm 119:68)

The day before my dear friend died of breast cancer, she softly spoke to me these words, “God is good.”  I finished her sentence with “all the time” because I had heard her say that repeatedly. She replied, “I don’t understand all of this.” Who does?

Here’s some wisdom from Proverbs, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” (Proverbs 3:5)

It’s a choice to trust God and bank on His goodness. So, here’s Truth #4 — You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!

A Biblical Example of These Truths in Action

One of the best biblical examples of these four truths in action comes from John 11. Martha informed Jesus that her brother Lazarus was sick.

•  Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (John 11:5).

•  Jesus knew what was going on in Martha’s life—Lazarus died (verses 6, 11, 14).

•  Jesus could do something about it—He had healed from a distance (John 4:50-53).

•  But, Jesus chose to do something different, even better than what anyone could imagine though it caused pain and suffering to those He loved and a lot of waiting, too (John 11:14-15).

After 4 days of being dead, Lazarus was brought back to life, and good things happened. God’s goodness showed up—Lazarus had his life restored, his sisters saw their now healthy brother returned to them, the disciples witnessed an amazing work of God, and many people now believed in Jesus who had not yet believed in Him. Martha could now say to herself with assurance, “God loves me. God knows what is going on in my life. God can do something about it. I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do.” And so can you in any situation.

Resources for Your Walk from Fear to Faith

Here are two resources that expand on the 4 TRUTHS to help you deal with anything that you are facing. Everyday Women is available as a free download on my website (including associated audio messages), as an online study on bible.org, and as a published book.

Listen to the audio “Introduction” to Everyday Women and get inspired to do the study.

View a sample of The Walk from Fear to Faith or purchase from Amazon.

Your Walk from Fear to Faith

Dear friends, God may not choose to rescue you from everything that is threatening you. But, in any and all situations, embrace these four truths essential to your walk from fear to faith…say them, making them personal:

#1 God loves me

#2 God knows what is going on in my life

#3 God can do something about it

#4 I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do

Now, pick one thing that is causing you fear today. What are your choices for acting on that fear? Apply these 4 truths to your situation. Another step on your walk from fear to faith!

Bible Study Leadership Made Easy. Learning to lead with confidence & grace. An online course at MelanieNewton.com.