The Word of God is not a trifle; it is a matter of life and death. If you treat the Scriptures as a trifle or as empty words, you forfeit life.
Even our physical life depends on God’s Word, because by his Word we were created (Psalm 33:6; Hebrews 11:3) and “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).
Our spiritual life begins by the Word of God: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). “You have been born again . . . through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
Not only do we begin to live by God’s Word, but we also go on living by God’s Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).
Our physical life is created and upheld by the Word of God, and our spiritual life is quickened and sustained by the Word of God. How many stories could be gathered to bear witness to the life-giving power of the Word of God!
Indeed, the Bible is “no empty word for you” — it is your life! The foundation of all joy is life. Nothing is more fundamental than sheer existence — our creation and our preservation.
All this is owing to the Word of God’s power. By that same power, he has spoken in Scripture for the creation and sustenance of our spiritual life. Therefore, the Bible is no empty word, but is your very life — the kindling of your joy!
I once read a survey that asked 500 people what emotions they felt when experiencing guilt. The answers were heartbreaking. Respondents reported feeling punished, depressed, worthless, rejected, and isolated. Many were overwhelmed by a general sense of low self-esteem. There was no joy, no hope, and no vitality. In a sense, it was as though the feelings of guilt had completely blotted out everything else in their life.
This seems like such a sad way to exist, and yet it’s safe to assume that we all—even those of us who are believers—have experienced these exact same emotions. In fact, you may be dealing with intense guilt right now. If so, let’s consider one simple question: Where does it come from?
In 2 Corinthians 7:10, we see two forms of guilt. One is a sorrow that comes from God. This call to repentance is a tool the Lord uses to draw unbelievers to Himself through salvation in Christ. It also motivates believers to confess any wrongs causing “interference” in their fellowship with Him.
A second form of guilt is the dark emotion that plagues people with remorse and the reactions mentioned on the survey. Such sorrow isn’t from God at all, but from the world.
If you’ve received Jesus’ free gift of salvation but still struggle under the assault of guilt, let Scripture assure you: These feelings didn’t come from God. He is not attacking you. Rather, He holds the keys to your freedom. Don’t fall victim to the enemy’s lies. In Christ, you are forgiven and free. Lay down your chains today.
Throughout the Bible, we see evidence of God’s authority over both humanity and nature. However, many of us have trouble reconciling God’s sovereign control with the existence of evil. Let’s look at what Scripture tells us.
In the beginning, God created a perfect world, after which He declared that all He had made was good (Gen. 1:31). Wickedness was not part of what He’d fashioned. In the heavens, however, an angel known as Satan sought to elevate himself above God and was cast down to earth (Isa. 14:12-14).
God created Adam and Eve in His image. They were made with the capacity to love their Creator and the ability to choose to obey or disobey Him. God had no desire for Adam and Eve to sin (James 1:13), but He allowed their will to be tested. We know the rest of the story. When they disobeyed God, sin entered our world and corrupted mankind. As Adam and Eve’s descendants, we inherited a sinful nature (Rom. 5:12).
The Lord’s permissive will allowed events to unfold as they have. God did not create evil, but He has permitted it to exist and uses it to accomplish His good purposes (Isa. 45:6-7).
When you have questions or doubts about the Lord’s sovereignty, start with what you do understand, study what God has revealed about Himself and His ways, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe. A few answers to your questions will come quickly, while some will require diligent study and spiritual maturity. As for the answers to other questions, which God has chosen to keep hidden, we are to walk by faith (Deut. 29:29).
Have you ever evaluated your level of commitment to our heavenly Father? Sadly, many Christians have entered the door of salvation and settled down into their pew, expecting nothing more. But Christ wants us to make a deliberate decision to let Him be the Lord of our life. This requires the surrender of all our rights and recognition that He’s the one who plots the course. Our responsibility is simply to follow.
However, our natural tendency is to limit the areas where we allow God access. The day you trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, did you keep the title deed for your life? Have you drawn a circle indicating, “This is the area in which I will serve You, Lord, but don’t ask me to go any farther”? If so, you’ve failed to recognize that when Jesus granted you forgiveness from sin, He also purchased you for Himself. All that you are and have belongs to Him. It’s the height of pride to assume authority over that which no longer belongs to you.
When the Lord challenges us to do something beyond our self-determined boundaries, He is calling us to a higher level of commitment. No matter how dedicated we may be at present, none of us have yet “arrived.” Each challenge is an opportunity to hand Christ full authority over every aspect of life.
You are only as committed as you are obedient to whatever God is asking of you at any given moment. If you’ve posted a “no trespassing” sign anywhere in your life, now is the time to take it down. As Christ’s blood-bought possessions, we are His—not only by purchase but also by His sacrificial love.
Do you give God priority in your life? The importance of having an on-going, vibrant, trusting relationship with the Lord can’t be understated. The only way to have this type relationship is through prayer.
God designed us for intimacy with Him. All that He requires is our presence and cooperation. What priority have you placed on building a deeper relationship with Him?
Have you ever wondered what kind of a righteous judge or fair judge is God? He doesn’t just pass over rape, murder, lying or other sins committed by man. Righteous judges don’t do that.
In other words, we feel outrage when God seems to simply pass over others sin and it would be good outrage if God were simply sweeping their sin under the rug. He is not.
God sees from the time of David and other biblical figures down through the centuries to the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, who would die in David’s place and in the future our place. God did that so our faith in God’s mercy and God’s future redeeming work unites repentant sinners with Christ. And in God’s all-knowing mind, David’s sins and future generations sins are counted as Christ’s sins and Christ’s righteousness is counted as our righteousness, and God justly passes over our sin.
The death of the Son of God is outrageous enough, and the glory of God that it upholds is great enough, that God is vindicated us when He passed over our sins and others. And, God maintains his perfect righteousness and justice while at the same time showing mercy to those who have faith in Jesus, no matter how many or how monstrous our sins.
In the biblical passage John 15:4-6, it urges us to stay connected to Jesus. The image of Him as the vine and believers as the branches helps us understand that apart from Him, we can do nothing. It is possible to receive His salvation yet still act out of the flesh, distracted or separated from His direction and power. All believers find their focus wandering at times, but some have strayed so far that it’s hard to see their way back.
If you discover your heart is loyal to something besides Christ, it’s vital to acknowledge that this has happened. Identify which attitudes or activities are drawing you away from Him. Then repent and get whatever help is necessary to set aside diversions, insecurity, worldly desires, or anything else that draws your attention away from the Lord.
Once the distraction is gone, refocus on Jesus by reading the Word, praying, learning from biblical messages, and spending time with godly friends who will encourage you. After living outside of God’s best for a while, it can be hard to discipline yourself to function as the Lord desires. But remember that those who abide in God will bear much fruit (John 15:5).
Don’t delay. As Hebrews 12:1 urges, “lay aside every encumbrance” so you can run with endurance the race set before you. Acknowledge anything that is keeping you from living passionately and fully for Jesus Christ. Following His plan—in His strength—is the way to peace, joy, and contentment in life. Ask for His help and commit to action. There is nothing like living fully for God.