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Sunday, August 19, 2018

3 Things That Can Steal Your Peace

9 Things that Will steal Your Peace (1-3) Part 1 - a short, nutritious Bible Study

Today's study, based on the Bible Love Notes devotion 9 Things That Can Steal Your Peace, lends itself to a longer study than most Bite Size Studies. I am splitting it into 3 weeks so you can enjoy it one bite at a time and savor the nutrition from God's Word.  

The first 3 things (out of 9) that will steal your peace, if you let them, are:

1. Bad influences: ungodly music, books, TV, or movies.  

Feed and refresh your spirit, don’t stress it with ungodly, violent, or negative entertainment.

Psalm 101:3I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 

When we entertain ourselves with things that "faithless people do," our attitudes change toward those things. Studies prove that people who view violent movies are less concerned with violence.

I encourage you to choose one devotion from this archive to read each day this week: Guard Your Heart Archive

2. Negative thoughts. 

Negative thoughts are powerfully destructive. Dwell on what is good.

Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Besides guarding our hearts against ungodly entertainment, it's important to guard our minds against a constant flow of negative thoughts. Check out this 1-minute devotion and see how many discouraging words we can think in one minute. It might surprise you. The Power of Negative Self-Talk

I encourage you to read a 1-minute devotion each day from this archive: Our Thought Life.
 
3. Money, material things. 

Store up heavenly, not earthly, treasures.

Matthew 6:19-20: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Contentment is an important aspect of our faith:
Philippians 4:12-13: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

The quote in this 1-minute devotion shows how addictive wealth can be: Just a Little Bit More.

copyright, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com, 2018

9 Things that Will steal Your Peace (1-3) Part 1 - a short, nutritious Bible Study

Sunday, August 5, 2018

How to Become Productive Christians

How to Become Productive "Soil" like the Good Soil in the Parable of the Sower

In the parable of the sower, the hard-path and rocky-ground people reject God's Word. The thorny-ground people aren't as easy to categorize. They might be unsaved or they might be shallow believers who waste their lives and lose all eternal rewards as described below:

1 Corinthians 3:9-15: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 

This is an interesting passage. Scripture explains that genuine Christians don't continue in sin (1 John 3:6-7), and anyone who loves Jesus obeys His commands (1 John 2:3; John 14:23). However, there must be some Christians who live according to God's commands yet fail to be productive. They're saved, but they have no eternal rewards. See A Trophy for Everyone.

Maturing Christ-followers are the “good soil” that produces many times what is planted as described below:

Luke 8:8: Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
Luke 8:15: The seeds on the good soil are those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, cling to it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Matthew 13:23 adds another element to this passage: 
"But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." 

Note that even among the "good-soil" Christians, there are variations in their productivity.

These choices will help us be productive for our Lord:

1. Cultivate an accurate understanding of God’s Word.
As Matthew 13:23 says, good-soil Christians genuinely understand Scripture. That's one reason they're more productive and effective.

2 Timothy 2:15: Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 

Only by learning Scripture can we avoid Half-truths Many Christians Believe. 

2. Obey what we learn.

James 1:22: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 

Self-deception is a serious problem. Scripture identifies 3 Paths to Self-Deception.  See also God's Commands Aren't Optional.

3. Seek godly fellowship.

Hebrews 10:25: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 

We can go to church every Sunday and still not have godly fellowship. Fellowship involves relationships with accountability, honesty, and common goals in Christ. Fellowship is not simply sitting in a pew and listening to a sermon. 

4. Take our Christian growth seriously.

Philippians 2:12-13: Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 

We cannot mature without taking our faith seriously.

This 1-minute devotion explains more details: Diligent, Deliberate, Disciplined.
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Read more about these different groups in the Parable of the Sower Series: 
Hard-Path People – The Seed is Not the Problem 
Rocky-Ground People – Rocky-Ground Faith 
Thorny-Ground People – Are You Choking on the Thorns?

copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com


How to Become Productive "Soil" like the Good Soil in the Parable of the Sower

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Do We Really Need to Forgive Ourselves?

Understanding the good and bad side of regret

Scripture doesn’t mention forgiving ourselves. 

When we feel we haven’t forgiven ourselves, we’re actually talking about regret. 

Regret can be positive: 

1. It can humble us, leading to repentance, restoration, and reconciliation. 

James 4:8-10: Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people]. 9 Be miserable and grieve and weep [over your sin]. Let your [foolish] laughter be turned to mourning and your [reckless] joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose]. (Amplified Bible)

2. Paul let his regret motivate him to great ministry (1 Timothy 1:12-16).

1 Timothy 1:12-13: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man...

Regret can also be negative

Do We Really Need to Forgive Ourselves? Understanding Regret
1. We can wallow in self-pity, regretting our consequences without actually regretting our sins. Cain is an example of this type of regret (Genesis 4:1-13).

Cain was guilty of first degree murder of his own brother, but when God punished Cain, he said the punishment was too hard. We are just as arrogant and selfish if we regret our consequences more than we regret our sin.  

For more on Cain:  A Good Bad Example and Things that Make Me Sad and What We Learn from Bad Guys Like Cain.

The answer: face our sins and accept our consequences like King David (2 Samuel 12:1-23). 

King David committed terrible sins, and when Nathan confronted him, he immediately confessed his guilt even though Nathan explained these consequences:

2 Samuel 12:10-12: The sword will never depart from your house,* because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 

In addition, God took the life of David's and Bathsheba's newborn son.

David prayed and fasted asking the Lord to spare his son, but when his son died, David's first act was to worship the Lord. 

David understood that he deserved his punishments. 

The death of David's child might seem an unjust punishment, but from an eternal perspective, it was not. That child was spared the difficulties of being a son of David,* and most Bible scholars agree that those under the age of accountability go straight into the arms of Jesus when they die. So David suffered, not the innocent child.

For more on David:
Short List Repentance


2. We can regret our sins but refuse to move forward. 

Typically this comes from dwelling too much on our own feelings and becoming hopeless and insecure. 

Understanding the good and bad side of regretThe answer: Paul gives us the wisdom we need to move forward.  

Imagine the regret that Paul felt. He had persecuted Christians and rejoiced when Steven was stoned to death. He had much to regret, but he moved forward in the strength of the Lord. See Anti-Christian Extremist.

Philippians 3:7-14. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

If you are struggling with regret, I encourage you to read this passage daily. Ask the Lord to help you move forward beyond self-pity, hopelessness, and insecurity. He can and will do it!