What’s the Key?

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A young man I know has been a Christian only a year or so, but he has grown tremendously. His mentor told me he believes his remarkable growth is due to reading the Bible every day.

It makes sense. As Peter wrote, “. . . like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation . . .” (1 Peter 2:2).

God designed the Bible to equip us in all the ways we need equipping (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Where to begin

We start out with the simpler things of Scripture (the milk), and the next step is to graduate to the more challenging, meatier aspects of God’s word.

Two different books of the New Testament strongly urge slow-to-grow Christians to go beyond the milk to maturity (1 Corinthians 3:1-2; Hebrews 5:14-6:3).

But how does reading the Scriptures help us grow? The more we read, the better we understand how God means for us to live in this world and to prepare for the next.

The goal of growth

Of course, it isn’t just reading that does it, but putting what we read into practice. The Bible is a know-and-do book (James 1:21-25). There’s where the real growth comes!

But what are we to grow toward?

Christlikeness has been called “the Ultimate Aim of the Christian Life” (Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Index of Chain Topics #382).

Becoming more and more like Christ is the challenge of a lifetime, and the Scriptures show us how to shape our thinking and living into conformity with Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:5-11).

Want to grow?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Not Much Fun, But . . . .

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Fun and games?

A teacher told me she disagreed with the idea that school must be fun. To her, school is for learning.

If learning’s fun, great! But what happens when a student graduates from a fun, fun school, only to face a world that can be tedious and frustrating?

The Christian perspective

“. . . we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope . . .” (Romans 5:3-4).

“Consider it all joy . . . when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

The key to joy is knowing that.

But what if we didn’t know that?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Voice from the Other Room

A treasured heritage

I recognized the voice coming from another room as that of my father, who at the time had been dead for eight years.

Was I surprised? Not at all.

Monte and Susan, our youngest two, were listening to their grandfather’s oral autobiography, recorded before they were born.

In his story he often makes reference to the church and his involvement in it. He loved, served, and helped lead the church.

A lasting legacy

Many parents provide well for their children’s physical/intellectual/social growth, but little if anything for their spiritual.

Oh, how we need parents and grandparents who pass on to their children the brightly-burning torch of a godly example and biblical teaching (Psalm 78:5-7; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15).

Pity the child who doesn’t have this!

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But It Hurts!

Worth study

Why we suffer may be the most troubling of all questions.

Atheists’ strongest argument is: How could a good God permit suffering?

It is important to know what the Bible says about this so we won’t lose faith or grow bitter.

Suffering is a complex issue. It has no single cause.

Sometimes we bring suffering on ourselves (1 Peter 4:15).

Often we suffer when another person chooses to do wrong (2 Timothy 4:14).

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Worth experiencing

Sometimes God lets us suffer to bring about a greater good for others (Genesis 50:20).

Suffering is a required course in the Christian curriculum (Hebrews 12:4-11). Some lessons we never learn otherwise.

Here’s a comforting thought: Jesus came down here to suffer with us and for us. He understands like no one else (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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“Do You Not Care?”

In the hour of crisis

As the waves spilled into their boat, the panicky disciples awakened Jesus, fast asleep in the stern. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

On another occasion, Martha was getting super-frustrated as she prepared a meal for Jesus. While Mary was hanging on Jesus’ words, Martha interrupted, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” (Luke 10:40).

Have you ever felt like this? How easily our perceptions can be skewed by fear or frustration!

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A better perspective

As we read the rest of the story, we see how Jesus redirected their focus away from the crisis of the moment to a greater appreciation of the One who truly does care.

Is this a lesson we too need to learn?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Seeing Yourself in Scripture

Convicted

Have you ever read a passage that really hit you between the eyes? You saw yourself in it because it convicted you (Hebrews 4:12).

For example, we read what James teaches about the tongue (James 3:1-12) and realize we need to work on this.

Or we may identify with Peter who claimed he would die with Jesus but later denied knowing Him.

Equipped

Positively, God’s word equips us. It shows us how to deal with an unreasonable boss (1 Peter 2:18-21). It gives us reason to rejoice when unbelievers badmouth us (Matthew 5:10-12).

In these and so many other passages we can connect with what we read and take new heart.

If we haven’t seen ourselves in Scripture lately, maybe it’s time to take another look!

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Not what we were, but what we become

Not what we were

He lied—repeatedly (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-13). Yet we remember Abraham as the man of great faith, the friend of God (Romans 4:18-22; James 2:23).

Rahab is honored for her faithful help to Israel (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

He committed adultery, then murder. But his repentance was genuine–David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

The one who cowardly denied Jesus quickly grew into the bold apostle Peter (Luke 22:54-62; Acts 4:1-22; 5:27-42).

But what we become

It’s not what we once were that counts in God’s book, but what He enables us to become—by His grace.

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