Seeking Approval

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“For am I seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Galatians 1:10

There seems to be an overwhelming need to impress and get the approval of others. We tend to compare ourselves to those around us and even more so with social media on the rise. We do all sorts of strange things because of our need to please and seek the approval of people we don’t even know. Popular opinion can dictate our decisions and lead us astray. The unpopular topics of discussion tend to fall under conservative, biblical, and moral values. It’s not popular to stand up for truth when cultural “tolerance” is relentless in their attack of silencing those who oppose them. It’s hard at times to find firm ground in our beliefs in an uncertain world. The result of our complacent behavior leads to finding ourselves trapped in a sinful society’s norms. God’s desire is to remove us from this sinful mindset. He doesn’t want us seeking the approval of others in fear of their rejection or rebuke. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain when we look to God for His ultimate wisdom. He will strengthen, correct, and uplift you in a firm yet gentle manner when you seek His council above all others. Resist the urge to run with the crowd. When we become rooted in the identity of Christ we no longer seek worldly approval or cultural agendas. Don’t be deceived by worldly doctrines that hold no truth or morals and try to corrupt who you are. Take a stand for what is right in the eyes of God and let the opinions of others fall to the side so that the one true opinion can shine through!

 

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Why God?

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“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

Ezekiel 36:26

I often ponder on how to respond to someone who asks why God? Why Jesus out of all the others gods? What proof do you have? These are valid questions and they are also questions we need to be prepared to answer. We all have a unique story on how God spoke to us but it doesn’t benefit the person asking the question of why God. The personal experience you went through didn’t happen to them. Sharing a testimony can have tremendous impact on those who hear it but there are others who still won’t believe. There are in depth theological and philosophical answers as well to why Jesus but there is also another. The profound proof of Jesus’ existence that all can witness including the skeptic is witnessing the change of one’s heart and ultimately their new life. A drug addict, alcoholic, prostitute, depressed, broken, or any lost person can randomly walk into a church service and hear the message of Jesus. Words are being spoken by the pastor but God is touching the heart of the individual and is being supernaturally changed. All of a sudden in that moment of surrender Jesus changes what you want to do and frees you from your current addiction that you could never break on your own. Your decisions are affected, your character is reformed, and your heavy load is lightened. We suddenly have a fresh love for others we didn’t have before. We suddenly want forgive the people who wronged us. We now live in a wonderfully freeing truth. The troubles and burdens of this world are now lifted from our backs and placed in the hands of God. Joy can now be experienced through the storm and trials of life because the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) If there is someone who asks you why Jesus and where the proof lies then you can always point to change of one’s heart. No one can deny the change of someone’s life that Jesus has touched and how their own lives can change as well. If Jesus has changed your life and touched your heart make every effort to express this transformation in all you do!

 

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The Roman Road : The Plan of Salvation

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The Bible is a book with sixty six divisions in all. The book of Romans is a series of verses that outlines God’s plan for salvation. Write these verse on a page in your Bible or highlight the verses. You can memorize them and be prepared to tell anyone about God’s plan for salvation when the time arises!

Romans 3:23 // Romans 6:23 // Romans 5:8 // Romans 10:9-10 // Romans 10:13

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Romans 10: 9-10

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13

The Roman Road: This is one of the most effective presentations for people who’ve heard the message but need to see it in black and white, right out of the pages of the Bible. It’s based on…verses in the book of Romans I’d suggest highlighting these in your Bible so that they’re easy to find and show to others. -Bill Hybels

 

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Be Worthy of Your Calling

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“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

Ephesians 4:1-7

Living the Christian life should feel natural and become easier as we grow closer to God. We need to leave our old life in the past and learn to walk in the new. Our old lives may have been comfortable but it’s also a life filled with no peace and discontentment. Our old life is one with the world while our new self should reflect the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to continually shed old attitudes and habits while renewing our minds and bodies to walk in the Spirit where God is. As Christians we claim to be citizens of Heaven but continue to wear the old fashions of our former lives. Why is that? Because we are reluctant and hesitant at times to totally leave behind a life that was comfortable and mostly easy. When you are one with the world you are least likely to be rejected and ridiculed for walking in the light. Being a Christin requires us to make a stand against the attitudes of the world and its deceitful desires. We can’t live two separate lives and serve two different Gods. We need to make a choice because living for God and living for the world is not a viable option. We must choose. Don’t try to hang on to the old parts of your life. Living a new and free life in Jesus is a daily process. He will help you through it one step at a time and before you know it living a Christian life will become liberating and a joy!

 

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Refuge in the Lord

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Read this passage. Meditate on it. Memorize it. And stand on His Word!

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

 

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Faith in Trials

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“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- through your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trails, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

1 Peter 1:7-8

Sometimes when we are facing trials it’s hard not to wonder where God is. How do you hold on to your faith when you are going through the fire and it appears God is nowhere in sight? The worst thing we could do is let our circumstances turn us against God.

“Trials and pain are not ultimately harmful unless they diminish our relationship with God. But the righteous will not let them do that. They let their trials draw them closer to God. They see His grace more clearly in the aftermath of pain; they trust Him more truly when obstacles hinder trust; they serve Him more sacrificially when it costs something. Through pain, we see Him better, and He becomes more real to us. There is no harm in that.” -Chris Tiegreen

We grow best when we are going through trials because pain causes us to depend on God to carry us through and develop us spiritually. When the enemy strikes our spiritual maturity will come to surface and determine how we handle our circumstances. When trouble comes all we are becomes exposed and our true faith in God comes out. Do we accuse God and question His intentions? Adversity and troubling times reveal a lot about what we really believe. It’s easy to love God when everything is going smoothly but where is your unwavering love when the storm hits? Every time adversity strikes is a time of character development and a chance to grow closer to God. Instead of accusing Him of why He is allowing it to happen we can instead worship Him through the midst of the darkness and praise him all the more when He carries us through. And He ALWAYS carries us through. If faith is maintained through the trial, then nothing can truly harm you.

 

 

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Comparison

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“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

James 3:14

There are two kinds of wisdom. The wisdom that is earthy/demonic, and the wisdom that is from heaven. Envy is the root of all comparison. What this verse is saying is where you find envy and comparison you find every evil practice. Think about it. We all fall short in this area in some department. Whether you are comparing your job, relationship, material things, or even spiritual maturity. Comparison produces a resentment and rejection in us that God never intended for us to have. The worst kind of comparison is when you start becoming envious of other believer’s gifts given to them by God. Sometime it’s hard not to ask and wonder why that person can pray so eloquently. Why can they sing and worship so beautifully? Why another can witness so effectively and not me? Why does your friend hear from God so clearly but yet it’s so difficult for you? When we compare and think God has blessed someone else more than us we are developing a resentment towards God that is orchestrated by the enemy. It opens the door for Satan, and allows him to work you against God. If you continue reading on to James 3:17 it says:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

As the body of Christ we were meant to need each other and work together. If we all equally had the same gifts, then we wouldn’t need each other and would become prideful. Give thanks to God for what He has blessed you with and break off every chain of comparison that you’ve harbored in the past. Seek wisdom from above and ask Him who generously gives to those who ask and believe. Your gift that God so uniquely and specifically gave you is needed in His Kingdom that only you can accomplish. Don’t waste it!

 

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Alone Time with God

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“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”

Mark 1:35

We crave to hear God’s voice but our often disappointed when he doesn’t speak the way we want to hear Him. A relationship can’t grow if you don’t make time for it. When we make it a habit to commune with God regularly, worship, and read His Word then you will begin to hear His voice more clearly. God knows what is coming next in our lives. Wouldn’t it be great to know what’s coming as well? He prepares us for what we will face. We can know in advance the schemes of the enemy. When we know what is coming we can better prepare ourselves on how on how to fight the attacks that usually hit unexpectedly. Troubles come with this life and there is no escaping every trouble that comes, but we can change how we respond to it. Make it a habit to commune with Jesus each morning before the day starts. Listen to the little nudges in your spirit and always write it down. Write down verses you feel He is speaking to you. Later you will find He provided you with the encouragement and weapons you needed to face your day. When you make your relationship with Jesus a priority, and spend alone time with Him every day it will only confirm in time that you are in fact hearing God’s voice in ways you’ve never heard before.

 

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He Knows You

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God knows every intimate detail about you. This fact can be unnerving at times. He knows every hidden secret that we hide from others. The ugly thoughts we sometimes harbor and the deceiving things we sometimes do. The utter humiliation we would go through if our dirty laundry was out in the open for people to see; yet we rarely take into account that all is seen by God. Why is this a good thing? Because despite our dirty and dark secrets of shameful mistakes, He loves us anyway. He has seen our worst and yet has not run away from us. He pursues us relentlessly and is desperate for an intimate relationship that will help us grow into the person He always intended us to be. What an amazing Father we have that He loves us just as we are!

Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

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Obeying His Word

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Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” 

John 14:23

 When you disregard the words of God you are essentially saying you know better and don’t need His help. By not listening to God’s Word shows you don’t value its importance. You neither know or understand His heart when you refuse His commands. Embrace wholeheartedly what instruction He provides to you. He has your best intentions in mind. Your unwavering obedience will be rewarded and your relationship with God will flourish. God doesn’t love you any less when you ignore what He says but you please God greatly when you choose to embrace His Word with an eager heart. Demonstrate your love for God by valuing what He has to say. Love God with all your heart and mind but also love God in action!

 

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