8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life

•October 31, 2013 • 20 Comments
God's will doesn't have to be complicated.  www.SensibleFaith.com

God’s will doesn’t have to be complicated. http://www.SensibleFaith.com

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life.  I wanted more than anything to follow His plan.  Interestingly, now that I’m “old” (currently 47 years old), I still wrestle with doing His will in my life.  I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan.

So, then, how can we know God’s plan for our lives?  Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have discovered eight vital keys to knowing God’s will.  Here they are:

1) Walk with God.

For starters, if you are interested in knowing God’s plan for your life, then you must learn to walk with God.  You need to develop a relationship with Him.  Christianity is all about relationship rather than just religion.

And so you must cultivate your relationship with God.  You must seek to know Him and not just seek to know about Him.

You will cultivate that relationship best by spending time in His Word, taking time for prayer, and taking every opportunity you can to be involved in church and small group Bible study opportunities.  When you seek these disciplines in your life, God will begin the first steps to revealing His plan to you.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

2) Surrender your will to God’s.

Many times when we say we are seeking God’s will, what we are really wanting to say to God is this:  “OK, God, here’s what I’m planning to do.  Now I need you to rubber stamp this, all right?”  I must tell you that this is not really effective in finding His true will.

Before God will begin to reveal His will to you, you must be committed to doing whatever it is that He desires for you to do.  God will likely be slow to show you His plan if He knows you will likely not do that plan anyway.

Romans 12:1-2

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Jesus was willing to die for us, so shouldn’t we be willing to live for Him? When we surrender to Him, that is when He really begins to direct our steps.

3) Obey what you already know to be God’s Will.

Many people seem to want to know what God’s plan is for their lives, but they overlook the fact that 98% of His will is already delineated carefully through His Word.  God is very clear about many, many aspects of His will.  For instance, it is clearly His plan that we abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

If we do not obey the things that God has shown us clearly to be His will, why would we think He would reveal any further information regarding His plan for our lives? Obedience is an important first step.

4) Seek godly input.

One key component to finding God’s will is to seek the input of godly advisors in your life.  If you don’t currently have 3-4 godly mentors, then I would highly recommend that you seek them out right away.

Think of it this way:  you should understand that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with.  So, then, it is vital that you choose those five people well.  If you choose to surround yourself with godly advisors, they will be instrumental in helping you discern God’s plan for your life.  But if you surround yourself with people who are far from God, your hope of finding His best for your life will be greatly diminished.

Proverbs 11:14

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

The church is designed to help you greatly with this.  I would encourage you to be in church every single time the doors are opened.  The more you involve yourself with a community of believers, the greater your chances will be of finding godly men and women who can help you discern God’s will.

5) Pay attention to how God has wired you.

God has created you to fulfill a specific role in this world.  There is no one else who can achieve completely what God has purposely created you to do.

The Apostle Peter gives us this admonition:

1 Peter 4:10

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has gifted every one of us to perform a special mission for which we alone were created.  How amazing is that?  Wow!

So, when you seek to discover God’s will for your life, pay attention to how He has gifted you.  His plan for you will always be directly related to the gifts that He has bestowed upon you.  The great news is that you will automatically be good at whatever it is that He has called you to do!

6) Listen to God’s Spirit.

I experienced a major turning point in my own prayer life when I learned simply to shut up while I was praying.  That may sound odd to you, and it seemed odd to me at first.

You see, I was used to do all the talking when I prayed to God.  But then, several years ago, I read Bill Hybel’s book, Too Busy Not to Pray.  That book completely changed the way I approached God through prayer. Since reading that book, I have added a significant component to my prayer life:  listening.  I take time to listen to what God might have to say to me.

Practically, the way I go about this is to bring a notepad with me when I sit down to pray.  Then I write at the top of several pages things like the following:

  • “What is the next step in my career?”
  • “What is the next step in my ministry?”
  • “What is the next step for my family?”
  • “What is the next step for my marriage?”
  • “What is the next step in my education?”
  • “What is the next step in my finances?”

During my prayer time, I meditate on questions such as the above.  Often, God will start flooding my heart with ideas and information regarding one or more of those questions.  I write as fast as I can as He speaks to my heart.  What a glorious experience that is to sense His Spirit on me, guiding my thoughts and words.

Through experiences like this, He has shown me many times with great clarity what His will is for my life.  I long for those experiences when He speaks to me like that.  Those times are truly life changing.

John 8:27

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

7) Listen to your heart.

In addition to listening to the Spirit, I also recommend listening to your heart.  To understand my point here, consider the following passage:

Psalms 37:4-5

4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  NKJV

I love this passage, because it shows me that, when I am walking with the Lord, He will actually let me do many really cool things that I actually love to do!  When you are close to Him, He actually begins to shape your desires so that you desire the things that He has already called you to do.

So then, His plan actually becomes a super-exciting adventure.  I always have the most fun in life when I am doing God’s will.  And that is because He shapes my “wanter” to want to do the things for which He has actually created me.

8) Take a look at your circumstances.

God often clearly demonstrates His plan for our lives by lining up circumstances in obvious ways.  And He also shows us what His will is NOT for us to do in that same way.  It is not His will for you to take the job that is not offered to you.  If you are 5’ 6” tall and weigh 125 lbs., it is not likely that God has created you to play professional football.

Over the years, I have discovered that God is pretty good at opening and closing doors.  He even did that for the Apostle Paul and his enterouge in Acts.  Take a look at this passage:

Acts 16:6-10

6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

So, even Paul had to face closed doors in his ministry.  God often uses closed doors to show us clearly what He does NOT want us to do.  And He also uses open doors at times to show us what He DOES want us to do.  Of course, this does not mean that every open door is definitely God’s plan, but it does help to give you some basic direction.

A Closing Thought:

The next time you begin to ponder God’s plan for your life, I would encourage you to mull over the above eight keys.  Use these principles to help you to hone in on His plan.  And when you seek His will earnestly, you will find it!

 

If you would like to hear the audio teaching of this material, click here.

 

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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

Why Sex Is So Addicting

•August 23, 2013 • 25 Comments

Love, Marriage, and Sexual AddictionSex is a beautiful thing, and sex is a powerful thing.  After all, God created it!

And it’s important for you to know that the reason God puts restrictions on sex is not because He is a cosmic killjoy who hates to see us having fun.  That’s not it.  The reason He has restricted it is because sex has a very powerful purpose in life.

 

The purpose for sex is to

create a supernatural bond

between a husband and wife

that will never be broken.

In line with this,

sex is actually

designed to be addictive!

 

Sex creates a nuclear-powered desire for a husband to be with his wife.  It makes him think about her throughout the day.  It makes him eager to be with her.  It makes him want to serve her and to love her.  And for the woman, it helps her to feel the closeness of their relationship as they become one in the marital act.  Sex is the atomic bond that holds a marriage together.

Nuclear radiation can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing.  It can be good when it is used in a controlled environment for a specific purpose.  It can be used to provide energy to a city, heal a person from a disease, or to heat a cup of coffee in sixty seconds.

But when nuclear radiation leaks from a controlled setting, it can become very dangerous and even disastrous.  Think Chernobyl.

This is similar to the power and danger of human sexuality.  When it is enjoyed within the boundaries of God’s plan, it can be a beautiful, joyful thing.  But when that sexual energy is allowed to leak into inappropriate areas of life, then that can bring disaster.

When a man and woman become sexually active, there is literally a chemical that washes across their brains that is similar to the rush that is brought on by drugs like heroin.  This is a very powerful experience, indeed.  And this is intended to be an addictive bond between a husband and wife.

But this becomes a problem when people who are not married become sexually active.  This “rush” often impairs their judgment, and they become bonded to a person who may or may not be a good partner for life.  When they are in the middle of all of this, they can easily overlook serious character flaws that would have made them run had they not been involved sexually. The physical union causes them to overlook all of those warning flags that are flapping conspicuously all around them.

How many times have you seen a decent girl who continually goes back to a guy who is a mess . . . over and over again?  And we shake our heads and wonder, “What does she see in him?  Why does she stay with that guy?” Well, it’s often because she has created metaphysical bond with him that is addictive and nearly impossible to dissolve.  This is one good reason why God says we should save sex for marriage.

Another example of how this plays out in real life is when a guy stumbles into pornography.  Through that surge of chemicals in his brain, it becomes addictive like heroin.  And when a married man expends his sexual energy on the vile filth of porn, he then has less energy to direct toward his wife in what should be the appropriate expression of his love.  With such depleted energy toward his wife, their marriage then begins to crack and crumble as well.  An inappropriate focus of sexual energy can be devastating to a marriage.

God wants husbands and wives to be addicted to one another for life.  Let’s trust in God’s plan and allow that to be our guide to ultimate fulfillment.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Be sure to sign up at the top right of this blog to be notified of new posts!

Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

 

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

Making Those Hard Days in Life Easy

•September 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This past weekend, a friend of mine in Knoxville, TN, wrote this post on his Facebook wall, and it seemed so encouraging that I thought I’d share it!  Thanks, John Latham, for giving me permission to share your words!


 

Running the Race

#SundayRunningReflections  Today called for an “Easy 6″ ….  As I ran, I began reflecting that the “easy” pace I was running today sure didn’t feel easy six months ago. Six months ago, the exact same pace was “hard!”  “Easy” and “hard” are relative terms. The reason I was enjoying the easy pace of today was because of the “hardening” effect of the hard days from the past.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. The New Living Translation reads, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” 

The hope that comes from this passage helps make my “hard” days in life “easy” or at least easier. It reminds me that my trials are really small compared to what the man who wrote that passage endured and what many around me are experiencing. It underscores that my trials are temporary. It encourages me to endure the hardships of life with joy knowing that one day all of this will pass away and I will enjoy the presence of Christ, forever.

 

By the way, I’d love to hear your comments!  Let me hear your feedback!

 

 


 

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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

 

Rock Star Pastors

•August 29, 2014 • 10 Comments

Rock Star Pastors

I hate to speak against the Church or various movements within the Church, but I have to admit that it has always bothered me to see the way many pastors seem to set themselves up as “rock stars” within their congregations and within the Christian world.  And sometimes it’s not that they set themselves up as rock stars, but it’s their churches or Christians in general who elevate them to that status.

I am happy that these pastors and ministries often win souls to Christ.  At least the message of the good news of Christ is being proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18). That is why I normally don’t speak against others or write blog posts like this.

However, in the past few weeks we’ve seen the sad events unfold around the indiscretions of Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and this has renewed my concerns about this approach to Christianity.  Let me say here that I am not trying to say that Mark has sought that rock star status.  I have no way of being able to discern his motives.  He has clearly done many great things for God’s Kingdom and has rescued many souls along the way.  And I don’t believe the last chapter has been written for his ministry.

I just feel like pastors, ministries, churches, etc. that have a rock star mentality are extremely vulnerable to Satan’s attacks, and there is a huge risk of hurting a lot of people who are watching.  The rock star model for ministry leadership is certainly not a healthy, sustainable approach.

Jesus never set Himself up as a rock star.  If anyone could have done so, it would have been the Son of God.  But that was not his approach.  No laser light shows, no smoke machines, no tour buses.  Jesus modeled servanthood, humility, and sacrifice.

Consider the most amazing sermon that has ever been delivered on this side of the universe:  The Sermon on the Mount.  Here are a few snippets that contrast greatly with the rock star mentality that we see so often today:

Matthew 5

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 

5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 

7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 

12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 

14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 

15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

Later in the same sermon, Jesus rebukes those who do their spiritual work in order to be seen and honored by men.  Ponder His words here:

Matthew 6

1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 

2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 

3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 

4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. 

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 

6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 

7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 

8 Therefore do not be like them.

 

Likewise, Paul also echoed this humble approach.  For instance he made these statements to the believers in Philippi:

Philippians 2

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 

4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 

6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 

7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

 

My hope is that pastors and churches and ministries will work to make Christ the true Star of their ministries.  Self-promotion needs to go.  Celebrity status should be rejected.

Pastors, resist the seductive lure of fame and popularity. Do not allow people to lift you up, and certainly do not engage in self-promotion. Work to become invisible so that others can see Christ through you.

Church members, avoid the tendency to elevate Christian leaders to rock star status. They are simply people, just like you.

For another interesting twist on this subject check out this podcast by Brant Hansen here (Brant and Sherri).

 

By the way, I’d love to hear your comments about this subject.  Do you agree with me here?  Disagree?  Let me hear your feedback!

 

 


 

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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things That Cause Us to Drift Spiritually

•August 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Drifting Away from GodSeveral years ago a friend of mine took his wife and kids to the ocean for a week of R&R. While they were there, they purchased a small, inflatable boat for recreational use on the beach. One day the wife jumped in the boat and launched out into the water to just lay back and soak in some sunshine. After what seemed like a short span of time, she opened her eyes and realized that she was several hundred yards away from the shore. In a panic, she screamed for help.

Only one person on the shore seemed to hear her call, and that was her husband. When he realized her predicament, he immediately attempted to swim out to rescue her. That did not turn out well, because he was soon in need of being rescued as well!

Fortunately the lifeguard was doing his job well that day, and he was successful in rescuing the husband and the wife. By the time he was able to get to the wife in the raft, they were nearly one half-mile from the shore.

As I have thought about that experience over the years, it has often made me think about how Christians often drift away from the Lord spiritually. It really doesn’t take much time at all to drift so far from the shore spiritually that one can scarcely even see the land anymore.

As a pastor for the past couple decades, I have noted several key things that tend to cause Christians to drift away from God. Here are five of them:

 

1)  An Out-of-Control Schedule.

Ephesians 5:16
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

One of Satan’s greatest weapons against our generation seems to be his ability to make good people busier than ever before. We so often sacrifice the best things in life by spending time doing things that are just “pretty good.”

If you desire to walk closely with God, you will absolutely, necessarily have to begin by taking a close look at your calendar. It is likely that you are currently doing too much. And it is also likely that your overly hectic schedule is affecting your relationship with God. So take out your pruning shears and begin to cut out any activities you can that will allow you to focus more time on your relationship with your Creator.

 

2)  Misplaced Affections

1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Be careful not to set your heart on things that really don’t matter. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen good people lured away from church life because they have fallen in love with things or activities that have no eternal merit. For example, children’s sports can certainly be a thrilling activity for your kids to pursue. But if those sports begin to adversely affect the spiritual involvement and development of your family, then pull the plug immediately.

 

3)  Discouragement

During the past couple decades that I have served as a pastor, I have often watched Satan using his weapon of discouragement to drag people away from spiritual activities. I have seen it many more times than I can number.

When the trials of life cause a person to become discouraged, he often begins focusing on those problems and takes his eyes off of Christ. It reminds me of when Peter walked on the water. He did great until he took his eyes off of Jesus and began looking at the waves beneath him and the clouds above him.

It is important for you to know that when life’s clouds grow dark and your trials become fierce, that is the time to run TO Jesus and not FROM Him.

 

4)  Abundance

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

We Americans are so fat with our own prosperity that we often make wealth our god and not the true King of heaven. This has also been a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. People struggle, God blesses them, they become prosperous, and then they depart from God. Ironic, isn’t it?

The chances are great that you probably do not feel like you are prosperous. But the reality is that nearly all Americans are extremely blessed and have more abundance than the vast majority of the population of the planet. If you are an American, you are most likely already a “One-Percenter” (wealthier than 99% of the world’s population).

People of abundance often choose recreation over worship. Why go to church if you could be out golfing, boating, camping, or going to movies or sporting events? How could we possibly go to church when our kids are on six different athletic teams?

Satan wants us to be prosperous, because our prosperity and abundance often lure us away from our Creator.

 

5)  Parasitic Sins

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Many people begin to drift away from God, because they have sins in their lives that cause them to feel guilt when they show up at church. And they feel reluctant to pray or read their Bible when they know they have these issues in their lives.

Recently I stumbled upon the most revolting video I’ve ever seen (through my Facebook news feed). The video showed an eye surgeon removing a parasite from a human eye. I won’t go into detail. That brief description alone is enough to send chills down the spines of many. All I can say is that the video was even worse than what you’re thinking right now!

When I watched that video, it dawned on me that many people have sins in their lives that are damaging them just like parasites in one’s body. And those sins will almost certainly affect your spiritual vision.

The solution here is not to run/drift from God. The key is to confess your sin to God who will restore you and make you whole again! (1 John 1:9)

 

How have you done in your journey with God over the past year or the past few months? Have you drifted? Now is the time to return. Call out to God before you are so far from the shore than you lose all sense of spiritual direction.

 

 


 

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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

 

5 Great Ways to Study Your Bible

•April 30, 2014 • 1 Comment

5 Great Ways to Study Your BiblePsalm 119:11
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (NKJV)

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NKJV)

 

I have to admit, I get pretty excited about studying the Bible! I love to dig into the Scriptures and discover the amazing depths of truth and wisdom that are there. I’ve heard it said that “the closer you look, the greater the Book!”  I’ve certainly found that to be true in my journey.

Over the years, I have found five specific ways of studying the Bible that have been very helpful for me.  Since they have been such a blessing to me, I thought I’d take a few moments to share them with you. Here they are:

 

1. Book Study

This is a Bible study in which you focus on a specific book of the Bible. The idea is that you are seeking to master the content of one specific book. As a part of this study, you will want to research many details about the books such as the author, recipients, date of the document, general themes of the book, place where the book was written, purpose of the book, people of interest in relation to the book etc. When doing this type of study, it is helpful to read through the specific book several times. I know one pastor who would read a book 50 times through to master the book.

 

2. Topical Study

The topical study is an approach to Bible study in which you start with a topic of interest and then trace all the Scriptures through the Bible that relate to that topic. When done properly, this is basically a form of systematic theology. In other words, you are systematically going through the Bible and developing a theology around a specific topic. This is helpful when you want to gain a fuller understanding about what God has to say about a specific issue.

 

3. Character Study

A character study, also known as a biographical study, is when you research everything the Bible has to say about a specific person in the Scriptures. It can be fascinating and enlightening to gain a fuller understanding of a character from the Bible when you begin to piece together all the things that the Scriptures say about that person. Studying great men and women of faith can help you immensely when you begin to piece together the clues about their lives as they are described from various passages in the Scriptures. And studying the lives of people who fumbled in their faith can also serve as a healthy warning about things to avoid in your own life.

 

4. Saturation Study

A saturation study is when you decide to completely saturate your mind with a specific portion of scripture. The idea here is that you pull out a specific passage, and then you read that passage over and over and over until your mind is completely filled with every meaning and every nuance from the selected verses. For instance, you might pull Romans 12 out for special study. In this type of study, you might read the chapter perhaps every day for 30 days or so. Or you might choose a short (or long) book of the Bible to saturate your mind. Some have chosen books such as The Epistle of James to read 10, 20, 30 or more times in order to completely soak their minds with those truths.

 

5. Word Study

The word study is when you take a specific word in the Bible and discover every single way that it is used throughout the Old and/or New Testaments. For instance, you may decide to study how the term “Spirit” is used in the Bible. And you may find differentiations between the ways that it is used in the Old Testament as compared to the New Testament. Likewise, there are many, many great words that would be helpful for you to study: grace, peace, faith, courage, discouragement, send, devil, idolatry, etc. The list of great words is never-ending.

 

WARNING: Be extremely careful when studying the Bible. It just might change your life forever!

 


 

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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

 

A Quick Tip for Interpreting the Book of Proverbs Properly

•April 30, 2014 • 2 Comments
Understanding Proverbs

Some people stumble while reading the Book of Proverbs when they when they fail to interpret those poetical passages properly.


 

Here is an important tip:

 

Proverbs are principles,

not laws or promises.


When you read a statement from the Book of Proverbs, keep in mind that the statement is merely a general principle. Those statements are not intended to be a promise for every situation, nor are they immutable laws of the universe that will never be broken. Proverbs are generalities.
For example, in today’s language, I might say something like, “Seatbelts save lives.” Would you agree with that statement?  Sure you would.  But while that statement is generally true, there can be some exceptions to the rule . It is a principal, but it is not a promise. Has anyone ever died while wearing a seatbelt? Yes. However, it is still very wise to wear your seatbelt, because, in general, seatbelts do save lives.

Let me give you an example in the Scriptures of a Proverb that people occasionally misinterpret, and this misinterpretation often leads to a lot of pain and anguish:

Proverbs 4:27 - Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I have seen many people over the years stumble when they misinterpret this verse as a law or as a promise rather than as a principle. For instance, I have known some really great parents whose kids grew up and went astray from their faith. Some of those parents have found themselves in great despair, because they have blamed themselves due to their misunderstanding of what that verse in Proverbs says.  They believed that it had to be their own fault.  They must have blown it as a parent.

The reality is that all parents make mistakes. And we all have things we wish we could change from the past. However, that does not mean that any time a child goes astray it is the fault of the parents. Remember, there is this thing called free will. Not even God Himself forces us to do right. Some kids turn away from God even when their home was a very godly environment.  Nevertheless, the general principle is accurate: godly parenting will tend to produce godly children. That is the general principle here.

So, when you go through the book of Proverbs, be careful to interpret them correctly. This great book is filled with many, many amazing principles that can truly change your life forever.

 



If you believe anything in this blog post has been helpful, I would encourage you to share it on the social media platforms where you are active.  Chances are great that you have friends/connections who will also benefit from the post.

 

Be sure to sign up at the top right

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Chris Russell
 (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________


For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

5 Terrific Ways to Ruin Your Life (from Proverbs)

•April 23, 2014 • 3 Comments

5 Ways to Ruin Your Life

The Book of Proverbs gives us some amazing wisdom for life.  Along with that, Solomon also exposes some common ways that people end up messing up their lives.  There are many listed in this great book, but allow me to highlight five of them.  Along with each point, I have included some brief comments about avoiding these disastrous mistakes in your own life.

 

OK, here’s how to ruin your life:

 

1. Live your life as if there is no God.

The greatest mistake you could ever make in your life would be to live as if there is no God. Some people choose to believe that there is no God. Big mistake. Others claim to believe in God, but they still seem to live their lives as if he does not exist. Another big mistake.

Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
A
nd the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(NKJV)

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
I
n all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
 (NKJV)

Proverbs 10:9
He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known.  (NKJV)

 

2. Choose people who are spiritually foolish to be your closest friends.

You are basically a composite of the five friends you choose to spend the most time with. It is important to choose them well. John Kuebler once made the great statement, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.”

Proverbs 13:20
He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed.   (NKJV)

 

3. Never learn to control your emotions.

Many people seem to live with the misguided notion that it is healthy to just let your emotions go with whatever you are feeling. “Just let it out!”  However, the Bible tells us that it is a position of great strength and character to learn how to control your emotions. I have never met a truly happy person who fails to control his/her emotions.

Proverbs 29:11
A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back. 
 (NKJV)

Proverbs 16:32
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.   
(NKJV)

Proverbs 25:28
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls.  
 (NKJV)

 

4. Stay down once you have fallen down.

Everyone fails at various points in their lives.  But not everyone gets back up after they have fallen.  The ability to get back up once you have fallen is one of the greatest indicators of your overall success in life.  Never, ever give up. Whether you stumble spiritually or with some other area of your life, always be sure to get back up when you fail.

Proverbs 24:16
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. (NLT)

 

5. Fail to spend your entire life learning.

Wisdom and great success in life tend to follow those who are on a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. I once had a professor who told me in relation to learning that, “You should get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can.”

Proverbs 9:9
Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.
 
 (NKJV)

 

BONUS!  

If you’ve made it through the list to this point, then I will give you a “bonus” way to ruin your life (straight from the words of Proverbs)!

Disregard God’s principles for financial stewardship.

God’s Word is so amazingly practical that He has even given us many, many great principles that apply to our finances. Soak them in and thrive. Reject them, and you will struggle perpetually.

Proverbs 23:5
Will you set your eyes on that which is not?
For riches certainly make themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.   
(NKJV)

Proverbs 22:7
The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender.   
(NKJV)

Proverbs 17:18
It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt
or put up security for a friend.
 (NLT)

Proverbs 10:2
Tainted wealth has no lasting value,
but right living can save your life.  (NLT)

Proverbs 6:6-8
6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
    Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
    or governor or ruler to make them work,
8 They labor hard all summer,
    gathering food for the winter.  (NLT)

Proverbs 13:4
Lazy people want much but get little,
but those who work hard will prosper.  (NLT)

 


If you believe anything in this blog post has been helpful, I would encourage you to share it on the social media platforms where you are active.  Chances are great that you have friends/connections who will also benefit from the post.

 

Be sure to sign up at the top right

of this blog to be notified

of new posts!

Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

 

Who Won the Debate Between Ken Ham and Bill Nye?

•February 5, 2014 • 4 Comments

Who Won the Debate Between Bill Nye and Ken HamWell, now that the dust is settling from the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, many are wondering, “Who won the debate?”  I would submit to you that the winner is … God.  He is the winner, because His name was exalted throughout the event and in a myriad of communications leading up to the event.

That aside, here are a few, brief thoughts about the exchange:

1. Ken Ham demonstrated amazing humility throughout the debate.  And mixed in with that humility, he communicated a sincere care and concern for Bill Nye as well as all who do not know Christ.  For me, that went much further than the technical arguments.

2. Bill Nye’s arguments seemed to me to be extremely simple and basic.  If he had actually strolled through the museum, he would have found the answers to nearly all of those points.  Answers to all of Bill’s complaints against creation science can be found on the website for Ken Ham’s ministry, Answers in Genesis.  Take a few minutes to search some of those issues out, and you will discover that there truly are many great scientists and brilliant thinkers who believe in the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth.  And they do a terrific job defending the authority of the Scriptures.

3. Scientific arguments about the origins of the universe may be interesting, but they carry no true power to transform a soul from death unto life.  Consider the strength of the following passage:

1 Corinthians 1:18-21

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Ken Ham very wisely took time during his address to share the powerful message of the cross of Jesus Christ.  If you didn’t catch that, it is important to understand that portion of his message was strategic, intentional, and vitally important.  Science does not rescue souls.  The message of the cross does.

4. Bill Nye seemed to use the standard debating approach that many use when attacking Christianity.  That formula looks something like this:

A )  Non-believer asks loaded question which attacks a Christian tenet. (This is much like a verbal “drive-by shooting.”)

B)  Believer responds with a reasonable answer.

C)  Non-believer completely ignores response.

D)  Non-believer asks another loaded question and continues the sequence without ever acknowledging the answers.

I came away from the debate realizing that Ken had done a solid job of sharing the message of redemption to hundreds of thousands of people (and perhaps millions once the DVDs begin to sell).  Whether they accept Truth is not up to Ken, and it is not up to us.  Our responsibility is to share the Truth.  How each person responds to the message is between them and their Creator.

So, in the end, God won the debate, because His message of the Gospel was proclaimed for all to hear.  And through that, He was glorified.

 

____________________________________

If you believe anything in this blog post has been helpful, I would encourage you to share it on the social media platforms where you are active.  Chances are great that you have friends/connections who will also benefit from the post.

Be sure to sign up at the top right

of this blog to be notified

of new posts!

Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/chris-russell/

_____________________________

For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

 
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