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 on: Today at 06:17:56 AM 
Started by Mikey - Last post by Mikey
Our key verse is 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever”

Our theme - Once saved, the believer in Jesus Christ is to engage actively in a life of spiritual growth which is our key verse. 
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INTRODUCTION

A willingness to learn is a mark of growth and wisdom.  Proverbs 1:5 states, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”  The Hebrew word for learning in this verse means “a taking in.”  If we desire to grow in our knowledge of God and learn to please Him, we need not fear discarding old ideas and taking in new ones that more adequately explain the Scriptures. 

People who are seeking wisdom will welcome new ideas.  They will test them by the truths of the Bible, either to confirm what they already believe or to enlarge their knowledge and understanding. We must always be open to God’s truth as He teaches us through His Eternal Word, His Spirit, and the people around us.  Are we listening, testing, and learning so that we may become spiritually fit and mature in the Lord?
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Up the river, some distance from the great Niagara Falls of New York and Canada is a point of no return.  Seldom is anyone able to retrieve themselves from the mighty Niagara beyond that point.  Many years ago, a young boy named Roger Woodward and an adult friend, Jim Honeycutt, were hurled over the falls because the boat they were in went beyond that point of no return.  Through a miracle, the boy survived the plunge over the mighty Niagara; however, Mr. Honeycutt lost his life. 

Sometimes people make such a mess of their lives, even after they are saved, that they would like to start over again.  Nevertheless, salvation within a person’s life is a point of no return, because it is impossible to go back to a point before salvation and have God repeat His saving work in our lives.  It might seem like a good idea to tell God to forget our first experience and give us an opportunity to start over, but it cannot be done.  The book of Hebrews, perhaps more than any other book in the Bible, stresses the need to progress, mature, and go forward in the things of the Lord. 
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A. OUR PHYSICAL GROWTH

In the physical realm, if you live in a drought-stricken area with little food reserves, poor air quality, rampant disease, you can expect poor physical growth.  It is not that the person has no potential for growth.  Everything about him/her contributes to his/her failure to develop physically.  Nonetheless, under normal conditions every child goes through stages of physical growth.  Children are uniquely different in their growth process.  That is, some learn and grow at a different rate than other children the same age.  What causes these stages of our physical growth?  Eating the right foods, exercising and getting the proper amount of rest that is needed.  Why don’t we all remain infants?  If we all remained infants, eventually there would be no one to take care of us. 
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B. OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

Spiritual growth, just like physical growth, is affected by one's surroundings.  Every believer must know and understand their individual responsibility to actively engage in a life of spiritual maturity.  Even as a physical fitness program requires diligent effort at doing the right things, such as being disciplined, eating the right foods, and getting the proper rest; likewise, if we as believers in Christ want to excel in our service for the LORD, we too, must also have the same criteria.   

It doesn’t take a person very long to discover that most professing Christians are doing a poor job at their spiritual growth.  We see this in the lack of biblical understanding and application to personal life.  Programs and activities that do nothing to further one's sanctification have replaced growth.  Dozens of surveys over the past decade have demonstrated that most professing believers do not understand even the most elementary issues related to the Christian faith.  One obvious problem is the lack of biblical explanation in the pulpit and ongoing instruction in small group settings.  The emphasis today is on, fellowship and entertainment, rather than the teaching of God's Word.
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Where there is life, there must be growth.  That is true of your baby.  If your baby didn’t grow, you would be worried.  You would seek the best medical advice.  If you want your little boy or girl to grow, you put away those items that would harm them and make your house “baby-proof.”  If you want your plant to grow, you keep deadly poisons away from that plant.  You avoid what is harmful to the life of the child or the plant.  This is also true for a farmer.  The wheat that he planted does not come up and grow?  He would be on the phone immediately to the agriculture department of a university to send out a specialist to analyze the problem and provide a solution.  There must be growth if there is life.

Every believer has the potential for spiritual growth due to the new nature in Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit; however, there are still outside factors that can have a negative effect on a person’s growth.  Maturity in Christ is directly related to one's grasp and application of the Word of God.  When deception takes place that moves the believer away from the centrality of Scripture, thus their growth will be affected.  The believer in Christ must be aware of the dangers that threaten their spiritual growth and know how to avoid them.
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(1)   WE MUST HAVE SPIRITUAL NURISHMENT

There must be spiritual nutrients if we are to grow spiritually.  The apostle Paul said in his first epistle to “Desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.”  You must feed on the Word, and especially that Word as it is preached to you.  This is the means that God has granted, has ordained, for spiritual growth.  Spiritual growth comes, then, by attending to these things:  the reading of the Bible, your own prayer, and specifically attending the church diligently on the Lord’s Day — being there in a faithful church — and coming under the preaching of the Word of God and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  God has given these means.  In fact, God says, in the psalms, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” 

Do you feel, on Saturday evening, a need for your soul to be fed?  If you have been living spiritually, out of Christ, you certainly do.  Do you have an appetite, so that on Sunday morning, you are eager to go to church to hear the Word of God and you need more food if you are going to live as a child of God in this world?
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(2)   AVOID THAT WHICH WILL HARM A BELIEVERS GROWTH

But not only must we have the right food we must also avoid all that is harmful to growth.  That is also true in the physical world.  If you want your little boy, your little toddler, to grow, you put away poisons out of your house and you make your house “baby-proof.”  If you want your plant to grow, you keep deadly poisons away from the plant.  You avoid what is harmful to the life of the child or the plant.  So it is for our spiritual life also.  There are things that are very harmful.  It is what the Bible calls “the world.”  It is what the Bible says is “friendship with the ungodly.”  It is what the Bible refers to as “temptations.”  The child of God must put away these temptations. 
   
Then there are also our own sins, the sins of our own flesh.  Especially destructive to spiritual growth is the sin of gossip (saying things about others that isn’t true).  The evil tongue does not only do damage to other people, it does damage to us.  It stunts, it twists, and it perverts spiritual growth.  We must have a spiritual atmosphere in our homes.  Moreover, we must have a spiritual atmosphere in the church, which promotes spiritual growth.  That means that we must have the love of God as the law of our tongue.  The following is an illustration of how gossip injures and hurts:
   
A woman repeated some gossip concerning her neighbor.  Within a few days, the whole community knew the story.  The person it concerned was deeply hurt and offended.  Later, the woman responsible for spreading the rumor learned that it was false.  She was very sorry and went to a wise old man to find out what she could do to repair the damage.  “Go to the marketplace," he said, "and purchase a chicken, and have it killed.  Then on your way home, pluck its feathers and drop them one by one along the road."  Although surprised by this advice, the woman did what she was told.

The next day the wise man said, "Now, go and collect all those feathers you dropped yesterday and bring them back to me.”  The woman followed the same road, but to her dismay, the wind had blown all the feathers away.  After searching for hours, she returned with only three feathers in her hand.  "You see," said the old wise person, "It's easy to drop them, but it is impossible to get them back.  So, it is with gossip.  It doesn't take much to spread a false rumor, but once you do you can never completely undo the wrong."
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(3)   GETTING THE PROPER REST
 
Not only must we have the right nutrients (food), and avoid things that are harmful to our spiritual growth.  However, if we are to grow, we must also have the proper rest, which we often forget about.  We don’t forget about our baby or children, and the rest they need.  So, if your baby and children are going to grow, they need the proper rest and sleep.  If we are to grow spiritually, we also need to have our times of rest.  We need to have a quiet mind, to be at rest and peace.  We must rest in the great truth that we are justified by grace in Jesus Christ. 

Rest is knowing that I’m accepted with God based on what Christ has done, and my future is certain because it rests on nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ.  Rest is this, that I know I did not make myself a Christian, that this is the work of Christ, that in Christ is all of my standing before God, all of my redemption, and that He has sworn to be faithful to me.  Rest is when we recline in the arms of God.  If we are to grow, we must cultivate a restful and peaceful spirit.  Grow in grace that you might stand, that you might not be led away with the error of the wicked, says the apostle Peter. 
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Many Christians have a faulty concept of what constitutes spiritual growth.  Maturity is not merely a matter of increasing theological knowledge or increasing activity in one’s church or other avenues of service.  Rather, it is learning to know and love God, and His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37; Philippians 3:10), learning God’s Word, and conforming one’s life to its standards demonstrate it.  It is a matter of decreasing in likeness of men, the world, and increasing in the likeness of Jesus Christ.

The following example tells us that the Christian life is like a long walk, which takes time and effort on our part.  I looked at the map of New York City, and I knew I could do it.  My hotel was on the upper west side of Manhattan, and I needed to go to the lower east side, about seven miles, I figured.  A nice walk for a Saturday.  I could take a cab, a bus, or the subway, of course, but if I really wanted to see the Big Apple, I knew walking was the way to go.  So I did.  Down Broadway to Central Park.  Past hundreds of storefronts.  Through Chinatown.  Hearing the sounds. Smelling the smells.  Studying the people.  Watching the traffic.  Visiting the shops.  I really felt like a part of New York City.  It took time and effort, but it was well worth both.

As we travel this journey we call the Christian life, we face a similar choice.  We can take the easy route, depending on others to give us all our instructions, shortcutting our way past a good prayer-life, or speed-reading a passage of Scripture and calling it “devotions.”  Or we can make the effort and take the time to get close to God.  As you map out your course each day, choose to “seek Him with your whole heart,” study His Word, and obey what He says.  Such a walk will be a delight!  To enjoy your walk with God, keep in step with His Word.
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Once we accept Christ as our Savior and become born again, it should not be our desire, to stay infants in Christ, and feed solely on the milk of the Word.  We need to grow in our spiritual development as we do in our physical development.  As children of God, we can never repeat the moment of our birth into God’s family, by our faith and trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. 

Being born again in His family, we must never think that our experience of salvation is then concluded.  If so, we err when we assume that everything of consequence is over at the moment we trust Christ as Savior.  Salvation is not only the end of eternal condemnation; it is also the beginning of a new life.  A life that should be characterized by continuing growth in the likeness of our Savior. 
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C. THE EXHORTATION FOR OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

The exhortation of our spiritual growth is found in Hebrews 12:1 which says, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.”  This is one of many passages in which the writer of this epistle urges his readers to practice that which has been established in precept or doctrine.  The believer is to follow the example of the stalwarts of the faith.  Like them, the new Christian is to live by faith. 

What does it mean to “lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us”?  The Army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia.  At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated.  The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat.  Alexander commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned.  The men complained bitterly but soon saw the wisdom of the order.  Someone wrote, "It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again.”  Victory was assured.

The Bible also likens Christians to runners.  The Greek athlete ran with very little clothing because he didn’t want to hamper or slow his movements.  Similarly, believers in Christ (or soldiers of Christ), if we are to win, we too must lay aside or rid ourselves of every weight that would restrict or slow down our spiritual growth.  This weight may be an excessive desire for possessions, the captivating love of money, an endless pursuit of pleasure, maybe an attitude, a habit or any other factor in life that would restrict or slow down this growth. Yes, if we are to fight the good fight of faith and run the spiritual race with endurance, the watchword must be: Off with those weights!  If your Christian life is a drag, worldly weights may be holding you back.  To fight the battle effectively, we must be clad only with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17). 
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D. THE REASON FOR OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

The fact that others have given their lives and their testimonies in bearing witness of God’s faithfulness during adversity should challenge us to go on as well.  The “witnesses” here are more than mere spectators.  Instead, the word means those who themselves have actively pursued spiritual maturity and have given witness concerning their own experiences.  The whole point of the book of Hebrews is that faith in God is the rule of Christian living (Hebrews 10:38).  Hebrews 11 is designed to illustrate this principle.  Saints before us gave their lives in bearing witness to God’s faithfulness during adversity.  The lesson is clear; faith is always associated with trials.  This is the way of progress in the life of no return.  Following their example, we, too, are to actively pursue spiritual maturity.

The Christian life is likened to a race.  The course is set before us, and each believer must run that course for themselves; they cannot depend on someone else, spouse, pastor, teacher, or godly friend, to bring them to the goal of spiritual maturity.  The exhortation to run is in the present tense, which means, “let us keep on running.”  Some will be able to reach the goal sooner than others will, but each believer must keep going as long as it takes.  Moreover, each believer must pursue the course to spiritual maturity with patience, and recognize and reject moments of impatience, doubt, and unbelief.

The words “set before us” suggest that each Christian has a prescribed time during which he is to run the Christian race.  This time no doubt begins with salvation and terminates at death.  The Christian life is not like the hundred-yard dash.  Endurance is the key word in this race, and since we don’t know the length of the course, it is necessary for each one of us to “so run that we may obtain.”
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1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it”

When my friend’s son began his sophomore year of high school, he also began his second year of cross-country running.  Steve started the year fighting for a sport on the varsity team, which was not an easy task.  It meant running miles and miles and miles.  It meant lifting weights.  It meant getting extra rest and eating right (well, some of the time), and it meant running his heart out at races.  His times gradually improved.  Then he pulled a muscle and had to start over.  But he didn’t quit.  Finally, he gained a spot on the varsity team.  And by the time they ran in the regional meet, he was the third fastest runner on the team. 

Having goals in life can give us the purpose and drive to accomplish something truly valuable.  This principle is especially helpful in our lives as believers in Christ.  As we run the Christian race, our goal is to “run in such a way” that we may win an imperishable crown, an eternal reward from our Savior (1 Corinthians 3:12-14; 9:24-45).  This requires personal discipline, hard work, and continual improvement.  It includes a Spirit-enabled commitment to do our very best for the Lord each day.  That takes perseverance, an all-out effort, and a push to become increasingly like Christ.  But running that way is worth it, for the prize will last forever.
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E. WE MUST FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST & OTHER BELIEVERS

To grow spiritually we must have fellowship with Christ and with other brothers and sisters in the Lord, This is essential to our spiritual growth.  John the Baptist, Lazarus’ sister Mary, the disciple John and many more individuals mentioned in the Bible were known for their fellowship with Christ.  The mind-set of John the Baptist was, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  What is our mind-set concerning Christ?    The more time we spend with Christ, the more we become like Christ.

In the Book of Acts, the religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John” and realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  The disciples had become like Jesus because they had spent time with Him, listened to Him teach, walked and talked with Him, and followed His example.  We too will take on the character of Jesus when we spend time in prayer, in fellowship with Him, and listening to the Holy Spirit speak to us through the Word, obey His teachings, and walking and talking with Him throughout the day.

As believers in Christ it is important that we be actively involved and become members in a local church.  The Bible instructs us to do this; however, being a member of a church has never gotten anyone into heaven.  Being a member of a local church includes identifying with Christ and His people through baptism, the Lord’s Supper, exercising one’s spiritual gifts, studying God’s Word, fellowshipping, praying together, and being accountable to one other.  (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Hebrews 10:24-25; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:5).  Each local church is the body of Christ in miniature. 

Thus, the church is more than an organization; it is a living organism, manifesting Christ to the world (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).  Commitment to and active fellowship in a local church is biblical.  Christ willingly identified with us by bearing our sin in His own body.  Shouldn’t we be willing to identify with Him by uniting with a local group of His people?
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F. WE MUST COMMUNE WITH CHRIST

To grow spiritually we must have communion, which is an intimate companionship or relationship with Christ on a daily basis.  Hebrews 4:16 invites the child of God to come boldly to the “throne of grace,” into the presence of our Savior and great High Priest.  The word “boldly” means to come bravely, courageously, with liberty of speech and frankness.  We need not be embarrassed in our coming to the throne room of Heaven, as the Lord knows all about us and our problems.

The believer who would desire to grow spiritually is invited to come assuredly, “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22).  Until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, only the high priest of Israel could approach God, and only once a year, by making a sacrifice in the Holy of Holies.  Now, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, every believer has direct, immediate access to God through His Word, through prayer, and through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We can commune with Christ by going continuously and persistently to Him with prayers of thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15).   The giving of thanksgiving and praise is a sacrifice with which God is well pleased.  Communing with Christ means seeking His fellowship boldly, assuredly, and continually.
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G. WE MUST HAVE CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST

To grow spiritually we must have confidence in Him.  According to Hebrews 10:23, we are to “hold fast” our profession of faith in Him because He is faithful.  Here is a confession of hope, not of despair.  Despite man’s unfaithfulness, God abides faithful to His promises.  The translation of several words in this verse could be improved.  “Profession” is better translated “confession,” and “faith” should be “hope”; “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope.”  How faithless and unbelieving we are by nature.  Our faith falters; His never does.  We must learn to rely on Christ by choosing to do that very thing when trials might tempt us to resolve a problem in our own strength or to give up altogether.
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H. WE MUST CONCENTRATE ON HIM

To grow spiritually we must concentrate on Him.  The words found in Hebrews 12:2 stress the importance of concentrating on Christ.  The contrast between the words “seeing” (v. 1) and “looking” (v. 2) is significant.  “Seeing’ carries with it the implication of a passing glance.  This is what we are to do with the faithful men and women who have gone the way before us.  “Looking,” means something more; it means our attention is to be immersed on our Savior.  There is no harm in admiring the stalwarts of the faith, but our scrutiny and concentration are to be upon the Savior.  This cannot come until we have laid aside the weights and sins that easily distract us.  Christ’s person and work are the reason we are to direct our complete and constant concentration upon Him, the Author (or Captain) and Perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us of the finished work of the Savior and His present position.  Christ endured the cross, but He despised the shame attached to it.  Having completed His substitutionary work, “He sat down” and He remains “seated at the right hand of the Father” (Hebrews 1:3).  These are fitting words to describe Christ’s completed work.  It is upon this throne room picture that we are to gaze with rapt attention.  The phrase “better things” appears frequently in Hebrews.  The people of whom the book was written were tempted to go back to the old system of daily sacrifice, which was done away by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself, the perfect Lamb of God, for the sin of the world.
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I. WE MUST HAVE CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS

To grow spiritually we must have consideration of others.  The rejection of sin is to be a once-and-for-all decision, but our consideration of others is to be an ongoing thing (Hebrews 10:24).  The writer clearly indicates the need to “provoke” to incite, to stimulate, two things in other believers.  Love and good works constitute the very heart of the Spirit-filled life. 

Love is the first fruit of the Spirit we should seek to stir up in others as we encourage them to grow spiritually.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, said Christ, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).  Granted, it is difficult to love some people, and it is especially difficult to love those who differ with us.  Yet, the exhortation here is clear.

Good works is the second thing that our spiritual vitality should stimulate in others.  The implication is clear here.  When we are not in proper fellowship with God and other believers, our lives do not amount to very much for the Lord.  Where love is manifested in the body of Christ, harmony and unity will result.  Much that will count for eternity is accomplished when Christian love and consideration for others are demonstrated.  In Hebrews 13:1-7, you will find seven good works that reflect spiritual maturity. 

(1)   Brotherly love
(2)   Hospitality
(3)   Compassion
(4)   Moral purity
(5)   Freedom from the love of money
(6)   Contentment
(7)   Right response to leadership

Spiritual growth begins with the renouncing of self and sin and all that they involve.  When that decision is made, the believer must become focused on Christ.  This fixed attention naturally involves prayer, Bible study, living for Christ, and a dedicated walk.  If the believer separates himself from sin and unto Christ, the matter of stimulating spiritual vitality in other Christians will be a natural, normal outworking of the other aspects of spiritual growth.  Let’s remember that one of these steps of spiritual maturity has anything to do with becoming a Christian.  However, they have everything to do with living the Christian life.
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J. WE MUST BE PERSISTENT

To grow spiritually we must also be persistence.  Hebrews 13:1 and 2 remind us that the love and good works of Hebrews 10:24 are to continue.  It is easy to love those whom we like and who share our views.  However, it is difficult to keep on loving those brethren who do not agree with us and who cause us grief by making themselves unlovely.  Hebrews 13 mentions a number of ways by which this love of the brethren can continue.  What happens if the child of God does not go on to maturity in Christ?

Failure to go on in the spiritual life will lead to neglect, indifference, unbelief, spiritual coldness, and finally hardness of heart.  Growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ is important.  Every believer has a sacred responsibility to develop their faith and to mature in Christ.  The believer must take periodic inventory of their progress in the things of the Lord.  Only by the grace of God can we walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1-2), worthy of our Lord (Colossians 1:10-12), and worthy of our God (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
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K. WE NEED TO KEEP CLIMBING

They say few experiences match the challenge and exhilaration of mountain climbing.  Those who participate in this exercise of endurance and sill like to compare peaks and share experiences.  When European climbers get together to swap stories, they often tell of passing a certain grave along the trail to a famous peak.  On the market is a man’s name and this inscription, “He Died Climbing.”

Mountain climbing is a picture of the life of faith.  Throughout our lives we are to continue moving upward, learning more about God, growing in our relationship with Christ, becoming stronger in our battle with temptation, pushing ahead in telling the lost about Christ.  The author of Hebrews put it this way, “Let us run with endurance.”  The words with endurance may be translated “with perseverance,” or more commonly, “to the end”.

Joshua was just such a man of God.  His climb began in Egypt and ended in the Promised Land.  He won great battles.  We are told that Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua (Joshua 24:31).  At the close of his life, Joshua was still urging Israel to serve God faithfully.  May we like Joshua, serve faithfully until the very end.  Our faith grows stronger as we climb higher.
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2 Peter 3:18 tells us that we as believers must, "…. grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  I will close this study with an illustration entitled:  Better Looking Every Day.

Few of us look in the mirror and come to the conclusion of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath.  During his heyday as a player, Namath wrote a book titled I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow … ‘Cause I Get Better-Looking Every Day.  As egotistical as that title sounds, it can help us see how we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should view ourselves in the lifelong process of becoming like Him.  Scripture tells us that to become more like Christ, we need to keep getting better every day.

The development of Christ likeness is called sanctification.  It begins the moment we put our faith in Christ for forgiveness of our sins.  In God’s eyes we are sanctified, or “set apart” from the ungodly, and placed in God’s family.  However, sanctification is also an ongoing process in which we become more and more like our Savior as we allow the Holy Spirit to develop in us His characteristics.  Our part is to “press on,” striving to reach spiritual maturity (Philippians 3:12).
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CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Remember, God is not finished with you, nor does He expect to be until He calls you home.  Maturity is not merely a matter of increasing theological knowledge or increasing activity in one’s church or other avenues of service.  Rather, it is learning to know and love God, and His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37; Philippians 3:10). 

It is learning God’s Word through study; prayer, meditation, obedience, testing, and conforming one’s life to its standards demonstrate spiritual growth.  We must know spiritual principles so that we can apply them, speak with confidence about our faith, and stand up under adversity.  It is a matter of decreasing in likeness of men, the world, and increasing in the likeness of Jesus Christ.

As believers in Christ, the milk of the Word we started with, will always taste good, however, the Bible’s solid food is what makes us grown stronger in our faith, service, and obedience, to the One (Jesus) who gave His life, so we could have life eternal.  I sincerely trust you are maturing in your spiritual growth in becoming more Christ like. 
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So, are you better looking spiritually today than you were yesterday, last month or even a year ago?  We must always remember, there are no shortcuts to our spiritual maturity!
 dove


 2 
 on: Yesterday at 02:47:53 PM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 20, 2018
Good Afternoon and Happy Tuesday,

                   “No One Understands Me, Like Jesus”


         I grew up in a loving home and both mom and dad worked hard to meet our needs.   Feelings though were never actually addressed.  I never remember a time either parent, told us not to talk about our feelings, yet feelings were not the normal discussion.    Our physical needs were taking care of and we went to Church, regularly for our Spiritual needs.   

       The year, before my dad,he often told me his favorite song was: “No one understands me like Jesus.   Dad and Mom were raised to be strong and stand on their own two feet.  As dad grew frail, he begin to grow tired and weary. He needed Jesus to hold on to him.  If I could go back to one of those days, I would wrap my arms around my dad and tell him that it was okay, not to always be strong.  I would offer to listen to his needs and help him carry his burdens. 
I never heard dad pray out loud, but just as the song says, I believe dad found comfort in quiet prayer.

    I am like my parents.  I hate to be a bother.  Even at a restaurant, when the waitperson ask if I need anything, I have often said no, when my drink is empty.
I have eaten food that was cold or taste odd, rather then bring it to anyone’s attention.

    We can be that way with God.  We can be stumbling and feel as if we are over come by our needs and yet not seek God’s help.  What does the Bible say about that?


(Jam 4:2) Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

(Luk 11:9) And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

1Jo 5:14) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
(Psa 37:4-5) Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

1Jo 5:14) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
(Psa 37:4-5) Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

       There is no reward in Heaven for trying to live out  our lives, without ever asking God for help.  This doesn’t meant we sit at home asking God to meet our needs without us working.  It means asking God to bless the work that we do with our hands.  We pray for God to open doors for us to work and prosper.
We just do not want to allow pride to keep us from sharing our needs with God.  A good Christians friendship, is one where we pray for one another.  It is okay to say we are struggling and seek prayer.  Do not allow self pride or the fear of embarrassment  to allow us to hide our needs and our pain.

  While it is true that no one can ever understand us like God, it is also okay to ask for help from God and others.
Betty

 3 
 on: Yesterday at 07:06:49 AM 
Started by Mikey - Last post by Mikey
Psalm 55:17, “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth … ”
__________

I wanted to share this simple illustration today.  If you’ve been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and a member of God’s family … how often to you check in to the One who redeemed you with His life.  He truly longs to hear from each of His precious children at least once a day, if not more.  Enjoy!
__________

Pastor Smith was passing through his church during the middle of the day and decided to pause by the altar and see who had come in to pray.  Just then, the back door opened, and a man came down the aisle.  The minister frowned as he saw the man had not shaved in a while.  His shirt was kind of shabby and his coat was worn and frayed. The man knelt and bowed his head, then rose and walked away.  In the days which followed, each noontime came this chap, each time he knelt just for a moment with a lunch pail in his lap.  Well, the minister’s suspicions grew, with robbery a main fear. 

He decided to stop the man and ask him, “What are you doing here?”  The old man said he worked down the road.  Lunch was half an hour.  Lunchtime was his prayer time, for finding strength and power.  “I stay only moments, because the factory is so far away; as I kneel here talking to the Lord, this is kind of what I say: “I just came again to tell you, Lord, how happy I’ve been, since we found each other’s friendship and you took away my sin.  Do not know much of how to pray, but I think about you every day.  So, Jesus, this is Jim checking in today.”

The minister feeling foolish, told Jim that was fine.  He told the man he was welcome to come and pray anytime. Time to go. Jim smiled, and said “Thanks” and hurried to the door.  The minister knelt at the altar; he had never done it before.  His cold heart melted, warmed with love, and met with Jesus there.  As the tears flowed, in his heart, he repeated old Jim’s prayer: “I just came again to tell you, Lord, how happy I’ve been, since we found each other’s friendship and you took away my sin.  Do not know much of how to pray, but I think about you everyday.  So, Jesus, I’m checking in today.”

Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn’t come.  As many more days passed without Jim, the pastor began to worry some.  At the factory, he asked about Jim, learning he was ill. The hospital staff was worried, because Jim had given them a scare.  The week that he was with them, brought about changes in the ward.  His smiles were a joy contagious.  Changed people were his reward. The head nurse couldn’t understand why Jim was so glad, when no flowers, calls, or cards came, and not one visitor came to see him. 

The minister stayed by his bed and voiced the nurse’s concern because no friends came to show that they cared.  Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile; “the nurse is wrong, she couldn’t know, that in here all the while everyday at noon He’s here, a dear friend of mine, you see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me: “I just came again to tell you, Jim, how happy I have been, since we found this friendship, and I took away your sin.  Always love to hear you pray, I think about you each day, and so Jim, this is Jesus checking in today.”
__________

Closing thoughts:

My question would be, “Have you found Jesus?”  Jim found Christ and his sins were taken away.  My beloved, your sins can also be taken away, for you see, Jesus died so we could live. His death on Calvary’s cross wasn’t an accident or a surprise to God. It was an absolute necessity in His plan for our salvation. The Lord declared that death is the penalty for those who sin (Genesis 2:17), and every person since Adam and Eve has sinned (Romans 3:23). Yet, in love He longed to rescue us. God could not merely say, “I feel sorry for you. I love you. I will just save you, overlook your sin, and forget about it.” No, an absolutely holy and just God could not treat sin so lightly.

The penalty for sin must be paid; guilt must be removed. Here’s the marvel of it all: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, took our sin, carried it to Calvary, paid the penalty, and rose on the third day. Jesus, the absolutely sinless One, bore the guilt of our sin, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53). His resurrection was the proof that the Father accepted His sacrifice and that Justice was done. That was 2,000 years ago, long before you and I were born. It was all prepared by God. It was all of grace. All we have to do is receive what He has prepared. God’s offer today is “that whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The question then remains:

(1) Do you have everlasting life? That’s why He died.
__________

Jesus Christ paid a debt He didn’t owe to cancel a debt we couldn’t pay.
 dove



 4 
 on: February 19, 2018, 02:25:33 PM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 19, 2018
Good Afternoon and Happy Monday,

            This last week, when Joy Beher, on the view, accused Christianity of being a mental illness, I was upset, as was many.  When I got up today and started my chores, I begin to think about this.  I felt God speak into my heart that this was no accident that led Joy to her conclusions.   

    The devil is working hard to prepare the world to think of Christianity as a mental illness that people must be cured of are be put down.  You might say that is extreme.  The Bible makes it clear that people will be executed for their faith in God,during the tribulation.  If the rapture happened today, the world not accept the killing of thousands and thousands.  The devil will use people like Joy to exclaim  that Christians are mentally ill and they must be hospitalized against their will to be cured.  When they are not cured from their faith they will slowly be euthanized.  At the mid of the tribulation the Bible says the anti Christ will demand that all people worship him.  Anyone who refuses will be publicly executed.  This way, people will be terrified of not worshipping the anti Christ.

    Christians, we need to realize that the world is preparing itself for this one world evil leader.  Just as Hitler convinced Germany that all their problems were caused by the Jews, the anti Christ will convince people that the earth will turn into Heaven,  when all those who refuse to worship him, are murdered.

  What do we do now?  We keep going about our jobs but we pray more for the lost.  We ask God to prepare our hearts and help us grow spiritually.  When people like Joy seeks to demonize Christianity, we remember she is being controlled by satan.  We should pray for her eyes to be opened to the truth.

   Only God knows when the rapture will happen so we prepare for tomorrow but we live our life in a way that is pleasing to God.  We daily ask forgiveness for our sins.  Some people say don't think about the rapture, they say, it will happen when it does.  Yes that is true but Jesus told the Church, when these things happen look up, because your redemption is coming soon.

Luke 21:28 King James Version (KJV)
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

For now, let us pray that God will guide us in the work that He wants us to accomplish.  With the Holy Spirit living us, we can be that beacon of light that points the lost souls to Jesus.
Betty

Blessed to have a pair of doves at one of the feeders.

 5 
 on: February 18, 2018, 02:25:25 PM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 18, 2018
Good Afternoon and Blessed Sunday,

                              Guilt

Guilt, past or present can derail us from the work God wants to do through us.   Have you ever been laying in bed at night and out of the blue, the devil reminds you of something you did 25 plus years ago?   You have sought forgiveness and obtained forgiveness years ago, too.   The devil wants to have you  fretting and worrying to the point that you cannot sleep.    You spend half the night wondering  what you could have done differently to prevented the sin and the other half, begging for  forgiveness for a sin that has already been forgiven.  Then you start to worry that you are not ‘good’ enough to work for God.

  The devil has accomplished his mission.  First of all,  no one is good enough for God.  He saves and redeems us so that He can  welcome us into His family.  His blood brings salvation to us, so that we can work for God.    Second, we cannot go back in time and undo what is done.  Think of this, while God wants none of us to sin, God often uses our past to help others.    God never causes us to sin, EVER. 
But, instead of  throwing us away like a broken toy,  He takes our brokenness and uses it to help us grow spiritually. 

    Let us not grief and torture ourselves over sins of the past, that have been covered by the blood of Christ.  When the devil brings things up from the past, remind the old devil, God has forgiven and redeemed us and then refuse to think about it.

  What about present sins?  We seek forgiveness and make amends, where possible and move on.  What if a loved one had committed a sin against you and asked your forgiveness,  came and told you that they had not eaten in a week because of guilt?  Would you not want to shake them like a doll and reminded them that you had already forgave them? You would be heartbroken that someone you loved was suffering over something that you had already forgiven and had moved on.  We do this with God.  God forgives us and we allow guilt take away our peace. 

   Seek forgiveness  for your sins.  Make amends when you can and move on.  Let’s face it, we make enough mistakes and commit sins in our present so we do not need to make ourselves sick over past sins.  There is no need to make our selves sick over any sin.  We seek forgiveness and lay our sins and our guilt at Jesus feet.

   There will be times that we sow fruit from past sins.  Instead of allowing guilt to cripple us, we pray every day for those we hurt by our sins.  We pray that God will keep us on the right path and we seek His perfect peace.  Every person on earth has been affected in some way by the sins of others.  We must not allow hurt and bitterness to grow in our hearts because of this.   We forgive others, we forgive ourselves, and we pray for peace for them and us. 

  Guilt is not always bad.  Guilt convicts us when we have committed a sin and have walked off the path we walk with God.  Guilt is not meant to be used to beat us half to death.  It is meant to stop us in our tracks.  We seek God for where we have sinned and turned away from Him.  We seek God’s forgiveness and then we turn away from our sins.   Asking forgiveness and then going back to the sin does not bring repentance nor forgiveness.  We MUST turn away from the sin.  Walk away and leave it behind.

Guilt is useful but true repentance and forgiveness is where we want to be.  Do not ask God to bless you in your sins.  Leave your sins and walk in the righteousness of God.
Betty

 6 
 on: February 17, 2018, 08:07:10 AM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 17, 2018
Good Morning and Happy Saturday,

              This week some of the ladies on the View, compared  Christianity, to mental illness.   Joy Behar, considers herself a staunch democrat and a practicing Catholic.  Catholic people believe that the Pope is God’s spokesperson on earth and that he literally speaks for God has the power to  forgive sins.  We know only God can forgive sins and not men or women.  When our Vice President said that God speaks to him, she lashed out at him publicly like a rabid dog.  God does speak to His children in many ways:  through nature, through words from others, and through a quiet voice in our hearts.

    Maybe it is because to admit that God is talking to mankind, she would have to admit that when God whispers in our ears that something is a sin, He means it.
To run under the podium of Democrats, you have to support that abortion should not only be legal but it is a righteous deed.  She said in a speech last year when she spoke at a Planned Parent Center, that she was doing God’s work.

  The God of the Bible would never support the killing of an unborn baby.  I do believe that she no longer hears the voice of God.

Matthew 13:15 King James Version (KJV) 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

When a person refuses to hear the voice of God, because they do not want to be convicted,  the Holy Spirit will reach a place that, He walks away from a person, for good.  A person who grew up being taught right from wrong but refuses to listen to God, because their desire for power and popularity of mankind, has given their heart over to a depraved mind.

Romans 1:26-32 King James Version (KJV)
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


  Publicly supporting abortion, is supporting murder of the unborn.  Calling working for Planned Parenthood, God’s work, is a lie from the pit of hell.  All over the world unborn babies are sacrificed at the altar of inconvenience. 

   Calling Christianity a mental illness is just the first step towards persecution of Christians.   Some politicians already have asked the question, if Christians should be allowed to run for office.  You cannot run for office or seek a new job and hide your faith and be right with God.

Matthew 10:33 King James Version (KJV)33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

You cannot live a Christian live privately and publicly proclaim sin as a righteous deed.

Joshua 24:15.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

  We cannot run around with sinful people all week and go to Church on Sunday and be righteous.

Matthew 6:24 King James Version (KJV)24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

2 Corinthians 6:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.


If the Lord tarries, there is coming a day that we may have to publicly declare Jesus as our Savior.  There will come a day that there is no going back for denying our faith in Jesus.  Just remember there is nothing to be gained on earth that is worth an eternity in hell.
Betty

 7 
 on: February 16, 2018, 06:49:45 AM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 16, 2018
Good Morning and Happy Friday,


It is almost 7:30 a.m. and I have been awake since before 6 hurting. So many of my friends and loved ones suffer from chronic pain. Pain becomes such a part of our daily lives, that pain is almost like an extra body part. Do we ever get used to it? In a way, yes. We reach a point that pain at the moment we wake up is a reminder we are still alive.

Is there anything positive about pain that wakes you and keeps you awake? Yes, it can be. Time awake can be used to talk to God and meditate on His great love for us. “Here I am, God, awake and hurting, so let’s talk.” We talk and then we silently listen to God. As we silently wait, God brings those to our minds to pray for. Praying for others when our bodies are suffering: What a concept?”

Yet, as we pray for others, our focus goes to God and others as we release our needs to Jesus. When our faith for our own healing is weak, our faith in God healing others, grows stronger. This is a good thing. As we communicate with
Our Heavenly Father, we begin to ease into peace of mind and heart.

Pain is apart of our lives, but it does not define us as a person. Nor does pain mean our faith and spiritual life is in danger. Strong Christians do suffer pain. We do not gage our spiritual health, by whether our bodies are healthy are not. It is our reaction to pain, that can showcase our spiritual health. Are we bitter and angry. God forbid! Never judge another Christian by their physical health. Even sinners can have perfect bodies and health. This body is a temporary house, that with age, often acquires illnesses and diseases. We run this race in pain and with sorrows, looking forward to our glorified bodies, which no disease, illness, or death, will ever touch.

As we await the day we see Jesus, face to face, we live in faith for our new bodies, and our new home in Heaven. Stay focused on our future in Heaven and trust God to be with us today.
Betty

Listening to the birds sing. I love it

--------------------
Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

 8 
 on: February 15, 2018, 05:06:57 PM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 15, 2018
Good Afternoon and Happy Thursday,

          The bird feeders are ready but no birds yet.  Sitting and waiting on them.  How often my friend, does God have to wait for us to call for help?  We think why doesn’t God just step in and change things.  God has given us freedom to choose our own decisions.  Is it not our own fault,  if we allow stubbornness and pride, keep us from seeking help?  Do we want to live our whole spiritual life, as a bottle fed believers?   

  God want to help us.  We just need to seek His help and guidance.  There is a big difference between seeking guidance and help from God and us refusing to do anything.   Do not wait until you have painted yourself into a corner to seek God’s help.   

  As we walk daily with God, we form a close companionship with Almighty God.   What is more marvelous then a friendship with our Heavenly Father!   God knows everything about us.  We do not have to pretend around God.  He knows all the good and the bad, and yet He loves us enough, to die for our sins.  Let us not cheat ourselves out of a great relationship with God by not seeking His face and His companionship every day.  Before we get out bed each day, talk to God.
Betty

 9 
 on: February 14, 2018, 02:21:47 PM 
Started by BettyLouise - Last post by BettyLouise
February 14, 2018
Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday,

                      HAPPY VALENTINES DAY


Ephesians 5:22-33 New International Version (NIV)
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

                         Before God created the Church.  He created marriage.  Marriage is the closest thing there is to the love between God and His Children.  Marriage is not the end to courtship, but the beginning of a lifetime commitment to one another.  No marriage is perfect,and we learn how to be a good mate through trials and hardship.  To have a successful marriage we must go into marriage with a life time commitment.

                      We honor our commitment to one another, by not putting ourselves in a position where an outsider can break our bond between one another.   Protecting and honoring should be the second most important job we have, followed only after our commitment to God. 

  God wants us to have a healthy and successful marriage.  We do this when we seek the guidance of God.  We will have bad patches in our marriage.  There will be times that our mate will say stupid stuff, forget important dates, leave a room a mess.   Just as God is patient with us let us be patient with our mate.

    Hope you and your mate have something special planned for today.  We have had to reschedule ourselves because my  tummy is being ornery.      I have homemade chicken noodle soup cooking and we can watch a movie at home.

For those of you whose mate has passed on to Heaven, do something nice for yourself, in their memory.  Go out to eat and go see a movie. 
Betty

 10 
 on: February 13, 2018, 08:41:23 AM 
Started by Mikey - Last post by Mikey
Proverbs 16:23, “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips”
Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight”
__________

Webster defines honesty as “free from fraud or deception.” This means more than merely refraining from lying. Distorting facts to place the emphasis on another idea rather than the real issue is bearing false witness. To conceal truth that should be revealed is to be dishonest. Expressing one view while secretly holding another is deception. If in any detail of life we say anything untrue, or if we purposely create a wrong impression, we are not being honest.

A woman told me that as a youngster she occasionally was guilty of deceit. One particular incident that she had never confessed still troubled her after 35 years. She had playfully inserted pins in a bar of soap, not realizing the danger. Later her mother was severely scratched while washing her hands. Her brother, being rather mischievous, was blamed and was punished, even though he loudly proclaimed his innocence. She knew of many times when he had been guilty of wrongdoing and was not caught, so she figured he deserved to be punished. She had not actually spoken a lie, because her mother never questioned her. Yet, she had been dishonest.

The question we need to ask ourselves would be, “Are we always honest, or have we in some way been deceptive in our speech? We must remember that God delights in those who are truthful in all things.

__________

Further thoughts:

People often hide their feelings behind a wall of words. They use a kind of double-talk in which words and feelings do not agree. A communications consultant who holds workshops on this subject says that many people are afraid that honesty in speech will cost them friendships, love, or respect. So they either keep their lips zipped or say something other than what they really mean.

Other factors that may impede straight talk are shyness, lack of confidence, fear of displaying ignorance, trying to avoid criticism, and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings. My beloved, believers in Christ are not exempt from this very problem. Trying to be both loving and truthful can be difficult, but the Bible tells us how to deal with this dilemma.

The book of James teaches us that we need the wisdom that only comes from God above. The Lord will enable us by His indwelling Holy Spirit to speak effectively and honestly. His wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gently, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

So, my beloved, let’s govern our own speech with these qualities from God’s Eternal Word. Then we will not have to hide behind a wall of words.

How easy it is to use many words
And yet be unwise in the things that you say;
So willingly yield your speech to the Lord,
And hearts will be blest by you every day.
__________

Wisdom is knowing when to speak your mind and when to mind your speech.
 dove

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Proverbs 18:6 A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.