Do Men and Women Sin Differently?

In the latest Barna study, the data was put forward that for the most part, men and women admit to being tempted by the same things at about the same level.  There are a few temptations that seem to affect men and women differently.
 On the men list
  •  Pornography (28% versus women 8%)
 On  the women list
  •  Gossiping or saying mean things about others (29% versus men 22%)
  •  Jealousy or envy (68% versus men 20%)
  •  Eating too much  (58% versus men 52%)
  • Spending more money than you have or can afford (39% women versus men 32%)
 I personally think eating and spending more money are really close and should be called a “temptation tie.”

The Top Lessons GOD Taught Me in 2012

God is the greatest teacher in the universe.  He began when He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I can image He shared with them what He wanted them to know about Himself along with how He wanted them to behavior while living in the garden.  The most painful and consequential lesson was what obedience looked like.  Adam and Eve learned that lesson the hard way!
God continues to teach us today.  He uses our life experiences and relationships to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), to transform our minds (2 Cor. 3:18), and to renew us in knowledge of Him (Col. 3:10).   God also teaches us through the tutorledge of His Holy Spirit, who lives within us (John 16:13).
As I reflect on 2012, I am always obligated to assess my spiritual growth the past year.  To that end, God has put it on my heart to develop a list of the “Top Lessons God Taught Me in 2012.” While I didn’t initially assign a “specific number”, it did result in a list of 20 items–and the list continues to grow.  For the purposes of “sharing” I will list my top 10 items.  It’s been fun reviewing the Scripture God has led me to memorize and become part of my personal “rhema.”

  1. What it means to forgive. 
  2. How to prayer daily for those who “do spitefully use and mistreat you.”
  3. The value of Christian community (outside your local church)
  4. I don’t have to have it “my way”!
  5. What it means to love like God.
  6. Daring to believe God for greater things than I can imagine.
  7. How extraordinary the gift of salvation really is and to read Scripture about it daily.
  8. God’s Word is the final word.
  9. What submission to God’s will looks like. 
  10. Learning to silence myself, listen for God and follow His leading.   
 Like Paul, “I do  not claim to have apprehended.” (Phil. 3:13) I will continue to embrace these lessons and learn from them until either The Rapture or God calls me to heaven.  Now it’s your turn.  We will make it easy only asking for three bt feel free to further expand your list for your own “spiritual review of 2012.”

The Timeless Cross

F.B. Meyer

As we closed 2012, there are still those things which time cannot contain or engineer.  It is the magnificent Cross of Jesus Christ.  With an eye on 2013, enjoy these God inspired words of hope and power from F. B. Meyer concerning the “Timeless Cross.”


“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”   Hebrews 9:14  (KJV)
What is the meaning of that great word eternal? Too often it is employed as though it were synonymous with everlasting. But the two words stand for two very different things. Everlasting conveys the idea of the duration of time; whereas eternal stands for the quality and character of the existence referred to which is absolutely timeless.  The eternal is that which is not measured by duration, which has I no succession of years, which cannot be described as past or future. It is the dateless present, and can only be used, therefore, of God, the I AM, because He lives in the eternal now. He never was and never will be anything that He is not at this present moment, and only that which partakes of His Being can be termed eternal.  
 When, therefore, we are told that our Lord offered Himself to God through the Eternal Spirit, we must believe that in the Cross there was this element of Timelessness. Our Lord was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The Cross of Christ has been contemporaneous with all the generations of mankind, and it is this attribute of Timelessness which gives the Cross its perennial power. There is a sense in which Christ is always being wounded by our transgressions, bruised by our iniquities, chastised for our peace, and bearing the stripes that procure our healing.
The Cross of Christ stands with open arms to welcome every sinful soul. The nails are not rusted or blunted by the years that have passed since they were driven into the flesh of Christ our Lord. And as we humble ourselves, and submit our proud and selfish soul-life to be nailed with Him to the Cross, in the power of the Eternal Spirit, out of suffering comes life to those to whom we minister, as we serve the Living God, and we can say with the Apostle: “Death worketh in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor. 4:10-12).
 PRAYER:  We bless Thee, Lord Jesus, that Thou didst not withhold Thyself from the Cross. Enable us by the Eternal Spirit to surrender our life to Calvary, that Thy risen life may become manifest in our mortal flesh.

Meeting God in the Psalms


If you’re like me, there are certain books of the Bible which hold a fond spot in your heart. In the New Testament, my favorites are Romans, Hebrew, and both letters to the church at Corinth.  I like these books because they communicate God’s indescribable love for sinful man and our desperate need for His grace.  In the Old Testament, my favorites are Isaiah and the Psalms.  Both books bestow comfort and reassurance to my spirit.  The Psalms, which I call the “Songbook of the Soul”, provide spiritual context for my daily activities.  God “meets me” in the Psalms.   Here are a few of our “favorite meeting places.”  
Psalm 4:8             “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  Dangers and perils are ever present in our community; when I pray “deliver me from evil” I can safely rest knowing He is with me.  I am never alone.  His eye is continuallyon me—He is my peace. 

Psalms 42:1         “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.”   When my life becomes hectic and crazy with the events of living, I thirst for the Lord.  He is my release and my relief.  He provides the basics of life—He is my living water.
Psalm 62:1          “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation.”  To silently wait is a personal challenge for me.   My flesh wants what it wants right now.  God is teaching me to depend on Him for all my needs—He is faithful and dependable.
Psalm 66:2b        “Make His praise glorious.”  All things are created by Him and there is no other like Him.  My praise to Him acknowledges His universal Lordship.  He deserves praise and honor for His goodness and His greatness—He alone is worthy of my total loyalty and all my praise.    
Psalm 107:1        “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.”  If I lived a lifetime, there would not be sufficient time to thank God for all He has done, is doing, and will do for me How do I say thanks?  By living for Him daily—He is my God both now and through eternity.   
Where do you meet God?      

God’s Largesse and Bounty


F.B. MEYER
 
“Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; Can he give bread also?  So they did eat, and were well filled.”  
Psalm 78:19, 20, 29  
This is always the cry of unbelief, Can God?  Whilst the triumphant assertion of faith is: God can. What a difference is wrought by the collocation of words!  Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? God can spread a table, even in the wilderness, and in the presence of our enemies our cup cam overflow.  Can he give bread also? He can satisfy the desire of every living thing, by the opening of His hand. Canst thou do anything for us; our child is grievously possessed of the devil? If thou do anything for us, our child is grievously possessed of the devil?  If thou do anything for us, our child is grievously possessed of the devil?  If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
The wanderings of the Israelites for forty years were due to the fact that they looked at their difficulties and questioned is God could overcome them. Amongst the people, only Caleb and Joshua looked away from the Canaanites and their fortified cities to Him who had brought them where they were and was pledged to extricate them. Some people speak of Giants with a capital G and forget to magnify the power of God. What wonder that they account themselves as grasshoppers and lose heart! Let us not forget that we are sons and daughters of God, “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Compare Num. 13:33 and Rom. 8:17).
Look back on the past; see what God has done for you; remember He is pledged to finish what He has begun. If He gave water, He can certainly give bread.
“They did eat and were well filled.” When we are poor and needy, we are inclined to humble prayer. But if suddenly our lot is changed and there us abundance instead of poverty, how often there is a change in our demeanor. We are apt to become self-indulgent and forgetful of the needs of the world. Instead of remembering that we are still God pensioners, we magnify ourselves as though we were exclusively owners. Probably this is why God keep some of us in poverty, for no greater temptation could befall us than to find ourselves with riches. In this way he answers our daily prayer, “Lead us not into temptation!”

Prayer:  We thank Thee our heavenly father, for the new mercies of each returning day, for all that Thou hast given to us, and not less for that which Thou dost withhold.  May we be receptive of all things that pertain to life and godliness.  AMEN.

The Salvation Challenge

Salvation Challenge
Take the challenge. 
  1. Match the word list (A-L) with its closest definition (1-12)
  2. Create a picture/process diagram of how we achieve salvation using selected from the word list below
  3. On your diagram, identify “who” is performing the action associated with the specific act involved with salvation.  Your choices include: mankind, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.  Example:  Faith is needed by mankind for salvation.
A. Condemnation
G. Consecration
B. Justification
H. Righteousness
C. Sanctification
I. Reconciliation
D. Restoration
J. Propitiation
E. Faith
K Regeneration
F. Imputation/Impute
L. Redemption
  1. Renewal of something to its former state
  2. God’s action declaring sinners are made righteous by Jesus Christ
  3. Born again/new birth
  4. Dedication to God’s service
  5. Righteousness-holy and upright living, in accordance with God’s standard/’straightness’
  6. To take something that belongs to someone and credit to another’s account/to transfer
  7. Appeasement/satisfaction
  8. To declare a person guilty and worthy of punishment
  9. Paying necessary ransom
  10. The process by which God and man are brought together again
  11. A belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to His will for one’s reliance on Christ
  12. The process of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. How? By the WORD of GOD (John 17:7) and the HOLY SPIRIT (Rom. 8:3-4)

Examine Yourself

 

This morning I had the opportunity to listen to one of my favorite Christian radio shows. The show is formatted to resemble a Bible study session, where there is an open discussion of a particular Bible passage, character, or faith principle.
Before closing, one of the study member said something that really resonated with me–so much that I had to share it with you.  The question was this, “Do people think well of God from being around me?”  This is a question worth some discussion.

We are told, in Scripture, who we are “in Christ”.

  • We are children of God (John 1:12).
  • We are His workmanship–His handiwork–born anew in Christ to do His work (Ep. 2:10).
  • We are partakers of Christ; We share in His life (Heb. 3:14).
  • We are ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).

Since Christ has done so much for us, we should be the ultimate “poster child” for Him.

  • For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him  (2 Corinthians 5:20).
  • Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).
  • In whom we have redemption through the blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14).
As followers of Christ, we are to be “salt and light” in a dark world.  Our light should “shine” before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.  We are not to be conformed to this world–darkened by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  All this is  passing away.  But he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).
So, now, your response.  “Do people think well of God after being around you?  If your answer is “yes”,  glory be to God.  Hold fast to your profession of faith, in both word and deed.  If your answer is “no” then it may be time to examine yourself to determine, “why not?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

 

Faith that Perseveres: THE APPLICATION

 Read Hebrews 11.  All the Faith Hall of Famers “died in faith not having received “the promises” but having seen them afar off were and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13).  The word “promises” is a metonymy for “the things promised.” This speaks specifically to the promised Messiah and future heavenly inheritance.  
As “partakers of God’s glory”, we have begun to receive the promises of God on “this side” of eternity”(2 Pet. 1:3-11) with the glorious assurance eternal life on “the other side.”   Informed with the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 4:6) and empowered by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), we can move forward with that which God has set before us “being fully persuaded, that what He (God) had promised, He was able also to perform (Rom. 4:21). 
 
Here are key principles we can learn 
from the Faith Hall of Famers on persevering faith.
 
1.      We must believe that He who promises faithful.  This requires you know Him in a personal way—in relationship.  This includes daily communion and fellowship with Him to better understand His will and His ways.  Would you put your life in the hands of someone you don’t know personally?  Confidence comes from knowing Him.
2.      We must understand His promises for our life.This begins by acquainting oneself with the promises of God.  Some scholars cite 365 promises of God for His people—one for every day of the year.  “Seeing afar off” requires visual acuity beyond our physical sight resulting in seeing beyond what we can see.  It is with spiritual eyes and the assistance of the Holy Spirit that we are able to “see afar off.”   
3.      We must look past our experience here on earth and look forward to the effect of our work on the greater effort of “kingdom building.”   We must actively declare ourselves as “pilgrims” traveling through this temporary thing called “time.”  We have an assignment from our King (Matt. 28:19-20) to complete while here on earth.  But we must never forget our home is heaven.  We must, like the Faith Hall of Famers, declare ourselves as “pilgrims on this earth.”

Prosperity In The Word

There is much ado in the news this week about Creflo Dollar, pastor of the World Changers Church International in metro Atlanta, and his recent altercation with his daughter.  I found it interesting that most news releases gave special attention to the fact that Pastor Dollar is a proponent of the “prosperity message”, the size of his congregation, and the monies he earns through speaking and writing.    
 
Let me begin by saying this about Pastor Dollar’s prosperity message.  I think Pastor Dollar has been successful in sharing God’s desire to bless and provide for His children. This is not new information but clearly communicated throughout God’s Word.  In The Sermon on the Mount, specifically, Matthew 6, Jesus shared God’s promise for provision and attempts to relieve the anxiety of people over their needs (vv.27-32). Jesus, however, in the same sermon warns the masses not to lay up treasure on earth but in heaven.  “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” (Matthew 6:21, New Living Translation)  We are instructed to seek Him first and He will take care of our needs (v.33).  Writers of the Old Testament warn of the fleeting value of riches and the perils of allowing them to become our “idol”. Proverbs 23:4 specifically warns: “Labour not to be rich…”   
While many criticize Pastor Dollar for his “prosperity message”, they must also recognize his success in preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).  I think the “hating on Pastor Dollar” originates from believers and ministries who are being challenged to better present the “Gospel message”—clearly, unabashed, and unashamedly. This is not happening in many of our churches.  Let me further explain, by sharing my experience with the prosperity message. 
While I was “saved” at nine (9), I didn’t relinquish lordship to Christ until I was forty (40).  Good church training but no clear presentation of what it really meant to be “die to sin” and “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:2,4).  What Pastor Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, and other prosperity promoters did was “to stir up in my spirit” (2 Tim. 1:6) the desire to learn more about the Triune God.  In Christ, I learned I had a new identity—I was God’s child and joint heir with Him (Rom. 8:16-17) and I could be in a personal relationship with the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (who now lived within me). I was familiar with religion but relationship was something new!  And as I drew near to Him, He drew near to me (James 4:8).  The more I studied His Word, God directed me to more light and more truth about Himself.  God then re-directed my study to better teachers and ministers who built on my new knowledge of God (2 Pet. 1:3-8). Isaiah 55:11 best describes my experience with prosperity ministries:  “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
As believers we are personally responsible for developing and expanding our relationship with God. It requires us to get into His presence to know Him and be “known by Him” (Ps. 91:14).  It is God that we must seek—His face and not His hand.  He alone can provide what we really need—“grace and peace through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet.1:2) and “an inheritance incorruptible that doesn’t fade away” because it’s eternal (1 Pet. 1:3-4).

The Invisible Cross-How do People See Christ in You?

  I recently celebrated my birthday–praise the Lord!  Before the special day, my husband asked what I would like for a gift.  At first I  couldn’t think of anything but then a thought came to mind–a cross necklace.  I had resisted either purchasing  or requesting a cross necklace before but this year I felt differently.  Why had I declined one in the past?  Perhaps it was because I had seen how people diminished and trivalized this symbol of unconditional love and sacrifice.  
I think crosses reflect people’s personalities and style preferences.  They come in a variety of sizes and metals–some are even fashioned from trees found in the Holy Land.  Some crosses are plain and simple; others are encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones–bejeweled and dazzling. But do people really understand the  significance of the Cross?  Do they full know what wearing one says about  “who and whose” they are?  
For me, wearing the Cross is more than donning a “trendy accessory.”  For me, it is an expression of love and commitment to the Lover of my soul–to my Beloved.  Remember when you would wear your boyfriend’s class ring on a chain around your neck.  And if it got real serious, you might receive a locket (heart-shaped) to wear as evidence of his affection.   It is now Christ who reigns on the throne of our heart (Ephesians 3:17).  The Cross represents the greatest gift we could ever receive–eternal life, freedom from the bondage of sin, peace with God–all purchased with the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Cross invites “whosoever will” to newness of life (Rom. 6:4) and power to live victoriously.  The Cross transforms.
 
Ask yourself these questions next time your put on your cross.
1.  Are you more careful with your language that day?  
2.  Are you especially patient and kind to rude people you encounter that day?  
3.  Do you find yourself listening to more praise music in your car that day?  
4.  Do you find yourself promising to pray for those who share their problems that day?  
5.  Do you have to adjust your clothing to match your jewelry that day? Too short? Too revealing?
If you answered yes to any of these question, you might want to read Ephesians 4:23-32 and its companion scripture Colossians 3:10-14.  As believers in Christ, our behavior should be guided by more than a piece of jewelry.  Our behavior is motivated by our love for the One who died on the Cross.  I will now wear my cross proudly knowing full well that it is really Christ in me that makes the difference