It is humbling to know that Jesus came to earth born of a virgin and dressed in the flesh of a man.  That He lived a sinless life and was tempted in all ways, yet without sin.  That He humbled himself on a cross and died to set us free from sin and death.  That He rose again and resides at the right hand of the Father.  That He sent the Holy Spirit to empower His church to disciple the nations.  Therefore, how does God enable MHBC to persevere in fellowship with Him, in spite of circumstances that discourages us?

1.       Relationship

Christ wants to be the sole source of all that is good to you and your only source of hope.

Exodus 20:5 (HCSB)
5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God …

. Romans 8:16-17 (HCSB)
16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,
17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.--This must be our supreme privilege and security!  Don’t forget who and what you are.


Romans 8:15 (HCSB)
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

Scripture confirms that God is our loving, listening, providing, righteous, powerful, generous Father.


Matthew 7:7-8 (HCSB)
7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


  Is God going to give you a rock and a snake (9)?  Sometimes God answers the prayers that we ought to have made rather than the prayer we did make.

2.      Scripture

Psalm 130:5 (ESV)
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope;


Psalm 27:14 (HCSB)
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD.

Scripture enables us to focus, ask, hear, and pursue after the Triune God. 

The goal:  To wait passionately for the Lord.—not just surviving. 

Psalm 40:1-2 (HCSB)
1 I waited patiently for the LORD, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
2 He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.

Are you willing to wait on God, however long it takes?  It takes humility to say yes, it takes God to bring it about.

Nehemiah and others with him prayed daily for nine months.

The wisdom and goodness of God is perfect.  He answers at just the right moment to bring about the fullness of our joy and His glory.

3.      His Plan

So why does God require us and regularly make it necessary for us to be patient, persistent, and persevering?

·         To purge us of our self-centered and self-serving motives.

Are you more concerned for your own comfort and glory?  Does the Father need to pull off some layers of self-absorption?

·         To encourage us to live wisely, obediently, and reverently as we live out life.

God mostly works in the natural flow of life, and very often this takes time.  Don’t kick the door open until God cracks it.—God sovereignly chooses to give His best time to give His best gifts.  He is never too early or too late.  God is always on time!





Abundant Life - After several more trips, the Strandjords sold everything they had and moved to Malaysia to do what they felt not enough are doing: preach the explicit gospel to the Malays. For six years, they trekked to towns and villages all over the country, including conservative states like Kelantan where strict Sharia laws reign. Despite receiving multiple death threats, they still visit villages to preach to strangers—and wherever they go, they say they see miracles: healings of the sick and brokenhearted, deliverance from demon possessions, and an awe and fervor for Jesus among Muslims whose eyes glimmer with tears when they hear what Christ did for them.

Father, may this be me. Thank you for giving me this heart. I don't want to waste my life. I pray for Your unique opportunity.

The following is adapted from Trevin Wax:

How am I sensing awe and humility in what God promises to do through me?

How many times have I failed to act in faith because I thought too little of myself, or because I minimized the gifts and talents and passions that God Himself has put in me?

How many times have I exaggerated challenges and diminished God’s call?

How many times have I faltered in faith, not by overestimating myself but by underestimating what God can do through me?

Failure to see the grandeur of God squashes our hope in what He can accomplish through us. A distorted vision of God leads to a diminished view of ourselves. In the end, we no longer think we are capable of doing what God has called us to do.

Underestimating myself is not humility, but faithlessness. The stronger my faith in God is, the stronger my faith will be in what God can and will do through me.
Why It's Wrong to Take God's Name in Vain by Philip Graham Ryken, author of Exodus: Saved for God's Glory, which is part of the Preaching the Word commentary series.

What’s in a Name?

One of the first duties of parents is to name their children. This can be a difficult task. The parents make lists. They read baby name books and field suggestions from family members. They try various combinations and say them out loud to see how they sound. They consider all the possible nicknames, and then they check to see what the initials spell. Even after all this, they may still end up at the hospital not having reached agreement about what to call the child!

The one thing that is certain in all of this is that the parents will do the naming. Human beings do not name themselves. Our full names are given, not chosen, which shows that naming is an act of authority. I remember holding each of my newborn children in my arms, calling them by name, and telling them that I was their daddy. Naming a child is the first way that parents exercise their God-given authority.

By contrast, one of the remarkable things about God is that no one ever named him. Admittedly, from time to time people have come up with various false names for God. But God’s true name is chosen and revealed by God himself. We do not tell God who he is; he tells us. God has his own naming rights, and this is a sign of his sovereign authority. God’s name comes before all other names.

Much More Than a Name

In Exodus 3, God calls attention to his special covenant name Yahweh, or Lord. This was a name God revealed long before the Israelites even reached Mount Sinai. Back at the burning bush Moses asked for God’s name, and because of his great love for his people, God gave it to him:

God said to Moses, “I am who i am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:14, 15)

The name that God revealed was his personal name Yahweh, sometimes called thetetragrammaton because in Hebrew it consists of four letters: YHWH. Literally God’s name means “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be.” It speaks of God’s self-existence, self-sufficiency, and supreme sovereignty. As the events of the exodus unfolded, it also testified to his saving power. The Israelites learned from their deliverance that the God who revealed his name to Moses is a God who saves.

As we start unpacking the meaning of God’s name, it quickly becomes obvious thatYahweh, or “Lord,” is much more than a name. It is God’s identity. This was the whole Hebrew understanding of names. For us a name is a label; it is something we have, not something we are. But for the Hebrews the name was inseparable from the person. It expressed a person’s inward identity. When we use the name of God, therefore, we are referring to the essence of his divine being.

Misusing God’s Name

Like the rest of God’s moral law, the third commandment is both negative and positive. In its negative form it forbids the misuse of God’s name. To quote the old King James Version, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Or to give a more literal translation, “You shall not lift up the name of the Lord your God for nothingness.”

What does it mean to “lift up” God’s name? This term had a fairly technical meaning. It was used in legal situations to refer to the taking of an oath. When witnesses needed to confirm their testimony, instead of swearing on a Bible, they lifted a hand and swore by God’s name. However, the term was also used more broadly for other situations when people took God’s name on their lips. His name was “lifted up” in worship and whenever else people talked about him.

God’s people were not forbidden to use God’s name. Many orthodox Jews take this commandment more strictly than God intended, refusing to use God’s special divine name at all, for fear of misusing it. But God wants us to use his name! This is proven by the Old Testament, where God’s sacred divine name is used all over the place—almost 7,000 occurrences in all. God gave us his name so that we would be able to address him personally. Calling him by name strengthens our love relationship with him.

What God forbids is not the use of his name, then, but its misuse. To be specific, we are not to use it in a vain or empty way. The specific misuse that God has in mind is speaking about him carelessly, thoughtlessly, or even flippantly, as if he didn’t matter or really didn’t exist at all. God’s name has deep spiritual significance. So to treat it like something worthless is profanity in the truest sense of the word: It is to treat something holy and sacred as common and secular.

A Very Great Sin

To dishonor God’s name in any way is to denigrate his holiness. It is a way of saying that God himself is worthless. Anyone who breaks the third commandment will be held accountable: “The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (20:7b). The precise punishment is left unspecified. In fact, the threat seems almost understated: The lawbreaker simply is said not to be without guilt. However, this expression is what grammarians call a meiosis, in which less is said, but much more is intended. For example, when people in authority say, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” they are not simply offering a casual opinion but are issuing a stern warning. So when God says that he will not hold us guiltless, what he means is that he will condemn us. We will not be innocent but guilty—reckoned unrighteous by Almighty God.

The reason God will condemn us is because misusing his name is a very great sin. It is a direct attack on his honor and glory, and anyone who makes such an attack deserves to be condemned. When people break the third or any other commandment, they are guilty before God, and ultimately they will be judged for their sins.

There are many examples in the Bible. Perhaps the most shocking occurs in Leviticus 24. A dispute broke out between two Israelites, one of whom was part Egyptian. As they fought, the man of mixed descent blurted out a curse against God. The Scripture says that he “blasphemed the Name, and cursed” (Leviticus 24:11a). The bystanders were appalled at what the man said; so they seized him and brought him to stand trial before Moses. The Lord did not hold the man guiltless but said, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 24:13–16a).

When God says that anyone who misuses his name will be held responsible, we should take him at his word!

Philip Graham Ryken is the president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a contributor to the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible and the author of numerous books, including Exodus: Saved for God's Glory.

By Chuck Lawless

Many people have written about determining the will of God, and my goal here is not to simply add to those volumes. Instead, here are some simple steps that I hope will counter some wrong understandings and provide you some basic instruction.

  1. Recognize that knowing the will of God really isn’t that complicated. To put it simply, the Bible already tells us much about how we’re to live. We’re to love God will all our being, love our neighbors as ourselves, and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 22:34-40, 28:18-20). If we get these things right, we won’t wrestle as much with the unknown details.
  1. Read the Bible and pray consistently.  I know that sounds like a Sundayschool answer, but Sunday school answers aren’t always so bad. Too many people turn to the Bible and prayer only when they suddenly need to know God’s will. Doing that is like trying to clearly hear and understand the voice of one with whom you haven’t had a conversation in a long time. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
  1. Walk in holiness; make righteous choices. This point’s really quite simple. We’re called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). If we aren’t being faithful to what is clearly revealed in scripture, why should God trust us with information about the unknown?  Why should He think we will follow Him if He does show us His will? 
  1. Be faithfully involved in a local church. God designed us to be in relationship with other people (Gen. 2:18). He creates His local church in such a way that all of us need each other (1 Cor. 12:12-31). We learn from each other. We help each other. We correct and encourage each other. To try to determine God’s will as a loner is a mistake.
  1. Look at needs around you. Sometimes, trying to determine God’s will for our life turns us inward. All we think about is, “God, what do you want for me?” The question is not entirely a bad one, but it’s a dangerous one. We usually don’t need any more inclination toward ourselves. Instead, take a look around at your community. See a non-believing world of billions of people who have no access to the gospel. Then ask, “God, what would you have me do to help spread your message and your glory to my neighbors and the nations?” 
  1. In the context of local church fellowship, know your giftedness. God has given all of us spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10). He’s also sovereign over our struggles, experiences, pain, and rejoicing; thus, He can use our history and our present to glorify Himself. Work with your church leaders to think about and understand all that God has created in you – and then pray, “Lord, use me however You wish.”
Take steps in the right direction. Kevin DeYoung once made this point this way, “Just do something!” We can spend months and years stymied while we seek certainty in God’s will, or we can do today something we know any Christian is supposed to do today. If we’re faithful over the known things today, we might just discover that the unknown things take care of themselves. 
The following represents the evidence for believing the Bible to be God’s Word:

1.       The Scriptures are breathed out by God in such a way as to be totally authoritative and binding for all of a person’s life and godliness (2 Tim 3:14–17; 2 Pet 1:3).

2.      God commands people to accept Scripture as His written Word (1 Cor 14:37 John 5:47 Luke 16:31 1 John 4:6).

3.      God has promised that His Word will endure for all of eternity (Matt 5:17; John 10:31; Isa 59:21; Ps 111:7–8 ).

4.      The New Testament authors always recognized the Old Testament as the sufficient Word ( Rom 4:23; 15:4; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21).

5.      The New Testament claims the same authority for itself as it distinguishes in the Old Testament (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Pet 3:16).

6.       Christians must accept the Bible as the written Word of God. The Word can not be judged by the standards of men. The Word of God stands by itself and is established and made incorruptible by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

7.      Any apparent difficulties with the teaching of the Bible rest on a person’s miscomprehension of the world, the Scripture, or both.

8.     Christians can have complete assurance that the Holy Spirit is enabling us to communicate to and understand God through His Word.

9.      The Holy Spirit will always be making students of the Word more like Christ.

10.  The deeper the students go into the depths of the Word, the more they will see, feel, think, and act like Christ Himself.

Gospel Driven

The gospel is this: we are not loved because we are lovely, but in spite of our unloveliness. We are not loved because we have made ourselves worthy of love, but because Jesus died for us when we were unattractive in order to make us attractive.

God works through God-fearing people to produce God-fearing families.  This results in the power of the Spirit working through the bride of Christ (local church), taking the gospel to their own community and to the ends of the earth.

  The gospel produces a constellation of traits in us:

  • First, we are compelled to share the gospel out of love.
  • Second, we are freed from the fear of being ridiculed or hurt by others, since we already have the favor of God by grace.
  • Third, there is a humility in our dealings with others, because we know we are saved only by grace, not because of our superior insight or character.
  • Fourth, we are hopeful about anyone, even the "hard cases," because we were saved only because of grace ourselves.
  • Fifth, we are courteous and careful with people. We don't have to push or coerce them, for it is God's grace that opens hearts, not our eloquence or persistence or even their openness.
The joyful effects of the gospel in our own lives must give us an enormous energy for witness. As wee have been learning in the Gospel of Mark, how can we keep quiet about such a great Savior?  If that motivation is not there, we must repent and seek God until it flows.

Mark 5:18-20 (HCSB)

18  As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him.

19  But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.”

20  So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.

The humbling nature of the gospel must lead us to approach others without superiority. Since we are saved only by God's grace and not by our goodness, we expect to often find wisdom and compassion in others, which at many points may exceed our own.  You will be an ineffective gospel-bearer If you are not driven by humility, love, and a respect for others (Matt. 22:37-40).

The love that we experience because of the gospel must remove from us the fear of others disapproval. Is our boldness increasing? If not, we must repent and reflect on the gospel and God's acceptance of us until fear diminishes.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)
15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Frank Retief, a pastor and church planter in South Africa, writes, “people without Christ go to hell—If you really believe that you've got to take risks, take a chance and be prepared to fail.”

There are at least two things that should characterize every Christ-followers heart:

1.       A Desire to Sacrifice

Galatians 2:20 (HCSB)
20  and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

“A heart that truly understands the gospel overflows with gratefulness to God.  Extravagant grace produces extravagant givers.” (Loc. 1501)

Who were you before Jesus saved you?

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.


O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!

The more you realize how much loves you, the more His love will spill out from you.

Robert and Maridith Lane took a major risk when they moved to South Sudan, a battleground nation in northeast Africa. But they see it as a risk worth taking. When the Lanes first visited in 2010, their hearts became burdened for the more than 400,000 people unreached by the Gospel in South Sudan, which became independent of Sudan in 2011. They came back for good in 2013.

Now, the Lanes and their missionary teammates are learning to live a life more difficult than they ever imagined as they reach out to the Dinka Rek people group, who number nearly 3 million. See related video.

"We need to be ready for those hardships, ready for those difficulties, ready to be used as a sacrifice for Christ as we try to make His name famous," Robert said. "The Dinka are very strong and proud. In tradition, they're extremely warlike. They say, 'We hate our enemy, we hate this other people group, we hate people who try to take anything from us or keep us from political power.'"

However, the Lanes have no doubt South Sudan is where God has called them. Getting into the country is usually difficult, but they've been able to gain access, set up a house and build relationships with local people in a short period of time. "It's not been easy by any stretch of the imagination," Robert said. "But in a lot of ways we've been able to do something that should really be impossible, and I see that as a very big confirmation of God's will to have us in South Sudan."

Are you a willing servant, eager to be poured out for God and His glory?  Are you serving out a heart of deep gratefulness and passionate worship?

Does God want us to be generous?  “God calls us to be generous, not because he has needs, but because he wants us to become generous, as he is. Generosity is not something God wants from us, you see, as much as something he wants for us.” 
― J.D. GreearJesus, Continued...: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You

Should an offering to God cost us something?

2 Samuel 24:24 (HCSB) (land on which to construct the temple)
24  The king answered, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost ⌊me⌋ nothing.”

 Yes, because it’s not about giving something to God that He needs.  It’s about giving to God a gift that cost us something in order to express how much we adore Him.

2.      A Desire to Surrender

1 Samuel 15:22 (HCSB)  (The Rebuke of Saul)
22  Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention ⌊is better⌋ than the fat of rams.

Luke 9:23 (HCSB)
23  Then He said to ⌊them⌋ all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (embrace My agenda), and follow Me.

“Deny yourself” means a total surrender of every desire in your heart to God.  Every dream, every desire, every ambition.  You say “no” to all that you want from life so that you are ready to say “yes” to all that He wants from it.” (Loc. 1551)

To follow Jesus means that you die to any control you maintain over your life. Like a man on a cross, you place yourself under Jesus’ complete domination, with no more dreams of your own. Dead men have no more ambition for their lives.

Have you ever presented your life to God that way — with no conditions, no restrictions? (Loc. 1561)

Romans 12:1-2 (HCSB)
1  Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies (continually) as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
2  Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

What should drive us?  How do we worship God? 

Is the Holy Spirit a divine butler or a mission commander?

“The true Spirit of Jesus serves the mission of the cross. His goal is to make the cross larger in our hearts and to compel us to yield our lives in service to its purpose. The Holy Spirit, you could say, is always leading to the cross or from it, to carry its message of healing to others.” (Loc. 1581)

It’s not about sitting around telling God, “whatever you want me to do, I will do.”  It’s about telling the Lord, “Here I am send me.”

 “In response to the gospel, seek to sacrifice, yearn to give, get ready to offer yourself, and look to the Holy Spirit to show you where He wants you to go and what He wants you to do.” (Loc. 1640)

A.     What do you want to thank God for?

B.     What do you desire from this life?

C.     Give these things back to God as a sacrifice to Him.  Saying, “Not my will but Yours be done.”

This was taken adapted from Chapter six of Jesus, Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You
by JD Greear.

John 3:8 (HCSB)
8  The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Bernard Ramm commented, “To profess to know a great deal about the Spirit of God is contrary to the nature of the Spirit of God. There is a hiddenness to the Spirit that cannot be uncovered. There is an immediacy of the Spirit that cannot be shoved into vision. There is an invisibility of the Spirit that cannot be forced into visibility. There is a reticence of the Spirit that cannot be converted into openness.”

How do we know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us?  What does it mean when people say that “he spoke to my heart?”  The Spirit guides us in ways that are mysterious and varied.

If we fail to acknowledge this mystery, we either reduce God’s working to a formula that will cause us to miss the Spirit’s movement in our lives, or we become over confident in what we think He is saying to us.  The danger here is that we are giving our subjective feelings the same authority as that of Scripture.  

The Hour of Power

What competes for your personal Bible study time?  Do you seek to guard the time you give to the personal study of your Bible?  Whether you have 15 minutes or two hours, how can you make the most of the time you have to read and study?

Jen Wilkin states, “It can be tempting to want our personal study time to fill our emotional tank for the day. We may rush to find an application point we can act on in whatever time we have. This may mean we limit our time in the Word to devotional reading—meditating on a passage and looking for a way to put it to immediate use. Devotional reading is beneficial, but it is not foundational, and its benefit actually increases exponentially as we grow in our foundational understanding of the Bible. So we must be sure to study the Bible with our minds, as well as with our hearts.”

With the time allotted to you each day, how can you seek to build a basic knowledge of Scripture?  Here are nine suggestions.

 1.      Take a Long-term View

View your Bible reading as a savings account rather than a debit card.  It’s about hiding His Word in our hearts, not regurgitating it back out.

Psalm 119:11 (HCSB)
11  I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.

The study of God’s Word is never wasted.  Trust the Holy Spirit to bring His Word back to your forefront.

Luke 12:11-12 (HCSB)
11  Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say.
12  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”

 2.     Stay Put

Don’t skip around, learn the context.  Choose a book, and read it all the way through.

Jen Wilkin states, “Reading a book of the Bible from start to finish helps us connect the dots in our Bible knowledge and generate a cohesive understanding of the text.”

3.     Honor The Context

Answer the following questions before beginning to read a book of the Bible: Who wrote it?  When was it written and to whom?  What is the theme and purpose?  What is the historical and cultural context?  You can find the answer to these questions from a good study Bible, and I would recommend the ESV Study Bible.

 4.     Understand Genre (Kind)

Jen Wilkin states, “The Bible is comprised of many different literary genres. It contains historical narrative, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature and more. Each of these genres abides by certain rules. Each uses language and imagery in a certain way. We cannot read the Psalms the same way we read the Gospels, nor can we read prophecy the way we read wisdom literature.”    

5.     Use The Right Tools

Read until you know what the text says.  Look up what words mean.  Use online sources like  Check for cross-references see (  For help in finding a good commentary go to:

6.     Dwell in The “I Don’t Know”

Jen Wilkin states, “Until we feel the extent of what we do not know, we won’t push ourselves to pursue knowledge.” 

This is so true.  Don’t be so quick to gloss over the Word.  Chew on it.  Seek to find answers to the text that leaves you asking questions.  However, spend some time studying it on your own before seeking help from other sources.

7.     Study The Whole

Is the OT more intimidating to you than the NT?  Remember, all of it is God’s Word.

 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)
16  All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17  so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Without the OT, we would never be able to fully understand the NT.  Hebrews wouldn’t be as weighty without Leviticus. 

 8.    The Bible is not about Us

 The Bible is about the character and work of God.  The Bible was written for a community, not an individual.  In the OT, it was Israel.  In the NT, it was the church.

You will grow as an individual as you learn to see your own character in relation to God’s magnificent glory.  Time in the Word will show you the bigness of God and the smallness of man (Isa. 40:28-31).  Ask the following as you read the Bible:  How does this text bring out the bigness of God? What does this passage teach me about the redeeming work of God?  How does seeing God in this text lead to Christ-centered application? 

·         Insights Gleaned—What is God saying to me?—What is the Bible teaching me?

·         Put Off—How have I failed to live by God’s Truth?

·         Put On—What changes do I need to make?—How is He calling me to walk in His Grace?

·         My Plan for Change—How will I make these changes?  What is my specific plan?  What does change look like for this DAY ONLY?

9.     Pray

Cry out for God’s wisdom.  Pray before the following before you begin your Bible study: 

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things in Your Word (Ps. 119:18).  Touch me with Your salve that I may see (Rev. 3:18).  Enlighten the eyes of my heart (Eph. 1:18).

God always answers those desiring to be more like Him.

James 4:3
3  You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires. 

Optimism Vs. Pessimism 

Which one is your bent?

1.      The Lord is Sovereign

Psalm 24:1 (HCSB)
The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD;

Psalm 9:18-20 (HCSB)
18  For the oppressed will not always be forgotten; the hope of the afflicted will not perish forever. 19  Rise up, LORD! Do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your presence. 20  Put terror in them, LORD; let the nations know they are only men.Selah

Satan is no more than a dog on God’s leash.

2.     The Lord is Victorious

 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (HCSB)
57  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
58  Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

 Even our worst moments are able to be used for God’s redemptive work (See Ps. 25).

3.     The Lord is Gracious

1 John 4:19 (HCSB)—His love destroys our love for self.
19  We love because He first loved us.

 Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB)
32  And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 God is able to penetrate the vilest offender with His amazing grace.

4.     The Lord is here and is coming.

 Revelation 3:19-22 (HCSB)
19  As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent.
20  Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.
21  The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22  “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”