United on Purpose

Pulling together is much more than general agreement. When unity is from the heart many blessings follow. Read these words from Paul, who incidentally has his share of credibility.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT)

Wow!

So agreement and unity come from an overflow of knowing Jesus loves us and having Christ Followers for friends. Oh, and along the way put a check on your hearts to see if they are still soft toward one another.

Paul then says — kind of like a father would — MAKE MY DAY!

If you want to make a difference and to make him proud, do this Christian life (lifestyle) TOGETHER in love. And work very hard — like it’s your very own special project. What kind of “work”? LOVE and UNITY and MOTIVATED. Don’t be lazy (idle, inactive, remiss, negligent) about these things!

New Fasting Book

I just bought this book by my friend, John Bankas. It is a new release that I am looking forward to read. John is a passionate person who loves Jesus and longs for a move of God both personally in his life and WAY BEYOND! You will learn a lot from this one.

Click the link to go directly to Amazon and buy it now!

Fasting Outside the Box: Fasting Guidelines for Beginners

YouVersion’s Top 10 Bookmarked Verses of 2011

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I’m not really sure if you have used YouVersion — but if you are into apps for your Smartphone, you probably have the “Bible” app. Actually that app IS YouVersion. It is AWESOME both on the phone and online. Here is a release they put out in January. I think it SPEAKS VOLUMES about the encouragement God’s Word brings us. It would make a great 10-week study, too!

2011 was a big year for Bible engagement in the YouVersion community. One of the ways we did that was by creating tens of millions of bookmarks. A bookmark is a great way to keep track of a verse you want to return to again and again, whether it’s because you want to memorize it, you want to share it with a friend, or simply because it’s one of your favorites. Here are the top 10 bookmarks that the YouVersion community saved during 2011*:

1. Philippians 4:6 – 123,035
2. Jeremiah 29:11 – 100,044
3. Proverbs 3:5 – 97,758
4. Romans 12:2 – 95,804
5. Philippians 4:13 – 87,120
6. Philippians 4:7 – 83,193
7. Romans 8:28 – 78,491
8. Proverbs 3:6 – 74,770
9. Matthew 6:33 – 73,544
10. 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 71,923

Reading Leads to Knowing

Have you ever wanted to know God? I mean, really KNOW Him? If you do, it will take a lot of time. Knowing God is much more than a simple hike in the mountains, soaking in a sunset, or running in the rain. All those things are romantic, emotional, and refreshing. But there is so much more to it, isn’t there.

If you want to strengthen your faith, a formula exists. It has been proven over much time and by the millions. You gain faith by READING the BIBLE. Yes, reading it a lot!

Many people KNOW a ton about Harry Potter, the Twilight series, even Star Wars or Jaws. I’ve “put in my time” with the Rocky movies and can talk about him with the best of them.

When it comes to IDENTIFYING with CHRIST, we must absorb and then practice. Study – to SHOW yourself approved and then realize that you were created to do great things for the cause of Jesus.

Ummm…. it LOOKS like something. A changed life lives it’s values OUT LOUD. I challenge you to allow God to change YOU!

“One of the marks of our modern time is the fact that many are guilty of merely “nibbling” at the truth of the Christian gospel. If the cross of Jesus Christ means what it should to us and we know that we must carry it and die on it and then rise and live above it, we will have a constant desire to advance and gain spiritual ground.”

– A.W. Tozer, Day By Day

Long Time Plans From God

O Lord, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them.
Isaiah 25:1 (NLT)

The joys, sorrow, desperation, satisfaction, excitement, or phase in life we find ourselves in my be a surprise to us, but these are not a surprise to God. No matter the situation, we must learn on a continuing basis to allow our Heavenly Father permission to guide us through the deep waters of our journey.

It works something like this:

  • God knows
  • God plans
  • We listen
  • We wait
  • God implements the plan promise
  • We are humbled and respond by humbly shining light, giving glory, to Him.

I just put this in a nice easy package, right? But with God, we should never do that. It all comes down to the TIMING of the ONE who created TIME ETERNAL. And that’s not you or me.

The powerful verse here in Isaiah 25 is that God DOES have the last word — HE ACCOMPLISHES … It’s not our strength or perhaps even our battle, it comes down to OBEDIENCE and FAITH.

U-Turns and Self-Imposed Roadblocks

roadblockGod has really called out the independent — er, DEPENDENT spirit here in Isaiah’s heart. This isn’t necessarily a moral or ethical viewpoint that he has gathered together just because he WANTS to do right. This is a MANDATE to do the “God Thing.”

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. … Isaiah 8:11 (NLT)

For me, personally, this is what God wants as well. my world is pretty polluted with wanting to be both accepted and to be acceptable. The clear implication here is to think with our full HEART and MIND, but to ALLOW some kind of Holy Spirit filter to always be present. The words STRONG WARNING must be pretty serious considering their source.

Pick Me!

isaiah send meRemember the first Shrek movie? The donkey says the famous line, “Pick Me! Pick Me! Pick Me!” hilarious and yet it shows a sense of passion.

I’m sure it was the same way when King David in the Bible was chosen. His brothers were surely thinking, if not expressing the same kind of passion. If chosen — things would be different forever for any one of the that would be selected by Samuel the prophet to replace Saul.

When you look at Isaiah 6, it is a little different. As you know, the previous chapters laid out a vivid picture that was not easy for one trusting God to gaze upon. The need was great, if not incomprehensible. King Uzziah died, the corruptible and leprous, and a new day was now at hand.

Looking upward, Isaiah knew his request would be timely:

Isaiah 6:5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Some lessons from prayer time and meditation:

  • My words can be sinful
  • My words can hurt God
  • My words can hurt others
  • My words can mirror or echo my friends who disappoint God

After Isaiah had allowed God to purge this sin from him, he cried out, “GOD — PICK ME!”

And God not only PICKED him, but SENT him to GO and TELL others a holiness they had thus far ignored.

Preparation

worship handsI have been reading in the Old Testament of Exodus and Leviticus. One word that keeps popping out of the text is the word “prepare“. It is amazing not only how detailed the preparation was to get everything right, but the consequences of not taking this type of worship seriously. I’m absolutely convinced that during those first days and years of temple-worship experiences were entirely inspirational as people were actually following IN DETAIL what God had asked them to carry out. Unfortunately humanity began to ignore — take for granted — became bored — and actually lost the passion of preparation.

John the Baptist also did this: He prepared the way for Jesus — a way to live in God’s favor. THAT kind of favor is a a not a preparation of works, but of mercy! Now each day we can PREPARE for and follow through in worship to this King of Kings and Lord of Lords! So what are you waiting for?

Clutter-Free Christianity

Here’s a great summary of a book I’m reading. You may want to check it out, too!

When did the Christian life become so complicated?

Your greatest desire is to please God, but with each passing week, your spiritual to-do list grows longer. As you strive to fulfill a never-ending inventory of requirements for being a godly parent, spouse, voter, employee, and more, you feel increasingly disconnected from the God you’re trying to serve.

It’s time to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of what it means to please God. In this liberating look at the core principles of faith, Dr. Robert Jeffress reveals the truth about what God really wants from you–and what He wants to do for you.

Through solid biblical teaching and practical insights, Dr. Jeffress points you toward a revitalized faith centered on becoming more like Jesus in action, attitude, and affection. You’ll learn how to partner with God in the process of spiritual transformation as you choose to follow Christ in forgiveness, obedience, trust, contentment, service, and prayer.

Through a renewed focus on experiencing the kingdom of God right now, you’ll find your to-do list shrinking and your spiritual life deepening. It all comes with embracing Clutter-Free Christianity.

Includes a Bible study guide for personal growth and group discussion.

Direct Link to this book on Amazon

Robert JeffressAuthor Bio:

Dr. Robert Jeffress is the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the most historic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. The author of sixteen books, he is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, live broadcasts of Dr. Jeffress’ weekly messages reach millions of listeners and viewers each week, while his daily sermon series airs on 1,100 television stations and cable systems nationwide. Dr. Jeffress and his wife, Amy, are the parents of two adult daughters.


Bible Study Resources

study

Online Bible Search

  1. eBible
    Search the Bible as part of the social network. Ability to tag and personalize your Bible is an amazing tool for study groups.
  2. Bible Gateway
    Search the NIV plus many other versions.
  3. Bible Server
    Search many versions of the Bible including the NIV.

Audio Bibles

  1. Bible Gateway Audio Bible
    Ready by Max McLean of Listeners Bible
  2. Listeners Bible
    Buy Bible mp3s by Max McLean
  3. Audio Bible
    Free but ugly site. Requires Real Player.
  4. Audio Treasure
    Buy Bible on audio
  5. The Audio Bible
    Read by George Sarris

RSS and Podcast Feeds

  1. Bible Gateway’s Verse of the Day
  2. Fighter Verses Podcast Feed
  3. The Daily Audio Bible Podcast

Memorization

  1. Fighter Verses
    Fighter Verses are short passages of Scripture which Bethlehem Baptist have chosen to memorize each week. Based on the ESV Bible.
  2. Bible Memory
    Get your verses to memory free via email

Bible Resources

  1. Open Bible Topical Bible
    Mashup up of Yahoo! web services and a Topical Bible
  2. Open Google Map of Passion of Christ
    Follow Jesus in Jerusalem
  3. Open Bible Geocoding
    Amazing use of Google Earth
  4. Bible in 90 Days
    Journal about your experience of reading the Bible in 90 days
  5. Minor Prophet Bible Blogs
    A blog tool focused on blogging about the Bible.

Bible Web Services (for web developers)

  1. ebibleicious WordPress plugin from eBible
  2. Bible Gateway Verse of the Day Flash widget

From Plaid Blog