Sunday, February 28, 2016

Inductive Bible Study February 26

IBS Friday February 26

1 Corinthians 12:14-15

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?

Each member of a body has its place. If there were only arms or only eyes or only brains, the body would never be able to function. This is the body of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 12. Verse 19 says, “And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” In the church, also known as the body of Christ, there can’t be all pastors and no greeters, or all worship leaders and no one making financial decisions. For people to come together with their many different skills and talents, they need to be adaptable and mutually submissive to become a body.

One of my great desires is that I find my place in the body. As much as I want to be the head, or the leader, I find myself being the legs, doing a lot of work and going where the head commands me to go. But, God tells us not to despise the other members of the body but rather rejoice with them, for we shall receive the same reward. If we are faithful over what God’s given us, He will give us more. Nevertheless, we need to be content with where we are as we do our best in that position, knowing that God works all things together for good.

In my own life, I have seen the fruit of being faithful over a little. When I was fifteen, I got my driver’s permit. It was made very clear to me by my parents that I had great responsibility with that privilege. I had to bring my dad to the airport, pull trailers, go grocery shopping, and drive friends and family members often. To be effective in my service towards my parents, I had to lay some of my own hobbies aside. As I proved myself faithful with the privilege of driving, I was given a car of my own. My parents would even let me drive their vehicles as long as I obeyed their guidelines. I was eventually given freedoms like going on road trips, staying over at friends’ houses, and getting a nicer car. It definitely paid off to be faithful with this simple privilege.

Application: I need to always look at my responsibilities in life as a privilege. As of now, I have the privilege of staying in a really nice compound in Guatemala. I want to gain more favor from the people who are running this compound, so today I am going to read over my responsibilities as an intern on this property, evaluate myself, and make a plan on how to better conduct myself as an intern. 

Inductive Bible Study February 25

IBS Thursday February 25

1 Corinthians 9:19

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more.”

A servant to all. 1 Corinthians chapter 9 is Paul talking about self-denial. He recognizes our freedoms, even as Christians, but he calls for a denying of our own freedoms so that we might reach and impact more people for Christ. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are given the free gift of salvation, but rewards must be earned. Paul goes on in chapter 9, comparing Christianity to athletics. We as Christians all enter the race to run but still few win the prize. We are called to obtain that prize instead of just walking through the race just to get to the finish line as many of us do. It takes training and discipline to become good at any sport. In our faith it works the same way. That’s how we obtain an imperishable crown.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

To win this race that is set before us, we need to set our eyes on Jesus. We need to lay aside every weight and sin that keeps us from attaining all that He has in store for us in Heaven. As an athlete I had the freedom to eat anything I want, but I wanted to be great. Striving for this greatness I stopped eating candy and drinking soda to give me a little bit of a competitive edge. In my faith I have the freedom to spend my time waiting for my death or Christ’s return, but I choose to rather go on the offensive. I realized that I had weights and sins that easily ensnared me. As I began cutting things like television, social media, and bad relationships out of my life I began gaining endurance in my faith.

1 Corinthians 9:27 says, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

I don’t want to become disqualified from the race for my faith. That’s why I lay aside those things in my life that hinder my faith. I am forgiven of my sins, but I choose to give my best for God because of the hope I have in Heaven if I do run this race with endurance. I will fall short because that is human nature, but I will get back up and keep striving for the imperishable crown.

Application: Today I am going to go through my laptop, cell phone, and flash drive, and delete all unnecessary things that slow down my devices as a symbol of cutting out the things that weight me down.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Inductive Bible Study February 24

IBS Wednesday February 24

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

This passage in the book of Ecclesiastes is in a series of verses that expresses the value of a friend. 
Verses 9-12 says,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Ecclesiastes speaks about the futility and meaninglessness of life. It talks about the emptiness of being without a companion and the meaninglessness of riches. King Solomon, son of David, isn’t officially accredited as being the author, but it was very likely him who wrote this book of the Bible. Solomon was, by the Bible’s account, one of if not the wealthiest man who ever lived as well as the wisest. He enjoyed life to the maximum and experienced everything one possibly experience given the financial resources he had. The answer he gives to deal with the vanity of life is to have a companion to be there to experience it with you, obey God’s commandments, take delight in what the Lord has given you, and recognize that life will come to an end.

There is strength in numbers. One man teams often fail. There is only so much resistance that one man can endure on his own, but with the help of another person, it becomes much easier to withstand opposition. With three people working together, a team is not slow to break. In my own life, I have had friends who have stuck up for me when I was in trouble and backed into a corner by an enemy. The most devastating moments in my life have been when I was in trouble with no one to help me up. However, the best moments in my life have been when my friends were there to lift me up in the midst of trials. The book of Ecclesiastes really clarifies the importance of having someone there or being there for another person through trials. A friend makes the trials worth it and the good times even better.

Application: Today I am going pray that God helps me to be there for others when they are going through trials and thank Him for the friends who He’s placed in my life to help me through the trials in life. I will talk with my friend Jack about how God speaks to me.

Inductive Bible Study February 23

IBS Tuesday February 23

1 Corinthians 9:22

I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.

You have to put yourself on the same level as the people you are trying to help. What I have learned after going on four mission trips to Mexico in the past four years is that you can’t try to go to the poor as rich. You have to go to them as one of them. Growing up in a very materialistic culture I saw poverty as a form of laziness. I criticized poor people. I thought that if you weren’t rich you were doing something wrong. When I went to Tecate, Mexico, in spring break of 2012 with my youth group to build houses, something switched in my heart though. I saw that I could never reach these wonderful people if I was trying to take my culture to them. I had to simply show them the love of Jesus and what He did in my life on their level.

Last October I was in Hermosillo, Mexico, on a mission trip. I talked to a man who used to live in the United States but moved to Hermosillo. He used to be a real estate broker and lived most his life as any American who liked to spend the majority of his money acquiring material things. After living in Mexico for a few years, he told me how those things just don’t matter as much down there. People are more concerned about relationships, quality time, and the simple things of life than they are about being successful in business, acquiring things, and going on vacations. He said that when missionaries come to Hermosillo, they often come with the wrong mindset. They just need to come to develop relationships, not just give money and build churches, although that too is necessary. As much as I love America, I must put myself on the other culture’s level if I want to truly reach them and let God do the rest.

What I learned through this is that you must be adaptable when going to another culture, whether it’s on a mission trip or traveling for any other reason. You are accepted and respected when you meet them on the same level. 1 Corinthians 9:19 says, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win the more.” We are to put ourselves at the mercy of the culture we are in so that we will win their acceptance. 1 Corinthians 8:9 keeps me in check, “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”

Application: As I am in Guatemala right now, I have realized how much my mindset hinders me from reaching Latin Americans. The next time the subject of politics, materialism, or business comes up, I am going to ask God to give me the proper mindset towards those things. I pray God would help me surrender my mindset to the way He chooses to form it today.

Inductive Bible Study February 22

IBS Monday February 22

Galatians 5:13

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Through love serve one another. Because of our liberty in Christ we are to serve one another. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. We are no longer in bondage to sin because of Him. This means all our sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven. Yet, we are given a commandment in verse 14: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This commandment is followed by the consequence of disobeying, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”

To have a good relationship, you need to be able to adapt and submit to each other. Love accomplishes this. If you fail to love each other, you end up devouring each other. A relationship is meant to be a reflection of Jesus’ relationship to the body of Christ. Jesus gives us grace. He keeps us from doing evil. He gives us joy. In a relationship, I need to be like that: giving grace, keeping others from doing evil, and giving joy. I want to be an example of that to others. In my relationships, I want Christ to be seen through me. With my freedom in Christ, I want to do good, not evil. I want to cause joy, not strife.

Thank you Jesus for giving us this freedom. I pray that you would empower me to do good with this freedom, even in the darkest moments. I ask that you fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit so that I can do what my flesh would not give me the strength to do. I ask that you would use me today as a vessel to share with others the love you have given me.

Application: Today I will obey the Lord’s command to love my neighbors by saying hello to everyone I come across, rather than putting them off.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Inductive Bible Study February 19

IBS Friday February 19

Hebrews 13:17

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable.

“Obey those who rule over you.” This can be tough. I don’t always like the people who I am asked to submit to, but the Bible tells me to obey them. It’s God transferring His authority to people in my life. I don’t always want to recognize that, but when I do, it is so much more profitable for them as well as myself if they are good leaders.

When I am given the authority to lead, I know how much better things go when people work together and submit to the plans I’ve laid out. I hear all the time, if you want to be a good leader, you must first learn to become a good follower. I want to be a good leader, but that means I need to learn how 
to follow in an excellent way first.

Application: For now I am going to let God take my idea of excelling as a leader so that I can apply myself, through God’s strength, to become the best follower I can be in the Lord. As I am submitted to the authority of Potter’s Field Ministries, today I will make it my effort to be above reproach, be submissive to those who rule over me. One thing I will do today is ask one of my friends to give me an honest evaluation of my reputation and how I can improve upon it so that I may be a more effective follower who brings joy to those who rule over me.

Inductive Bible Study February 18

IBS Thursday February 18

Ephesians 6:1
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Colossians 3:20
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

“Obey your parents, and you will live a long life.” This is a phrase that my mom reminded me of many times growing up. She always told me, “God promises a long and good life if you obey your parents.” It almost became clique, but she really ingrained it in my head.

Reading on in Ephesians chapter six, I see that God really does promise, “That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” This was not a selfish phrase my mom said to me to get me to submit to her authority as a child; it was a true promise from God. Ephesians goes on to say, “Not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bond servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”

Although I am no longer under my parents’ authority, this promise extends to being other the authority of others as well. Right now, I do not have much personal freedom because I submitted myself to the authority of Potter’s Field Ministries, but I am doing the Lord’s work. The reason I am here is to serve unto the Lord, and by obeying the authority of Potter’s Field Ministries with my heart towards God, I am doing good. That good God will reward.

Application: The next time I find myself in a situation when I am given the option to obey or not obey, I am going to recognize that I am doing service as to the Lord, and not to men, and that God will reward whatever good I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Inductive Bible Study February 17

IBS Wednesday February 17

Romans 6:16

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.

I am a slave to whom I present myself to obey. If I presented myself to obey my selfish desires, I would become a slave to those selfish desires. But, those selfish desires would have turned into sin, and that sin to death. If I presented myself to obey God’s commands, I would become a slave to Him. But, being a slave to God leads to righteousness, and righteousness to life.

If I decided I wanted to cut my ties with my family so that I could be free to do all those things that my parents told me not to do in their house, I would become a slave to my selfish desires. This is a thought I considered many times growing up. It’s natural for a teenager to want to rebel against their parents, but following those natural desires leads to sin, and sin leads to death. As I decided I was going to be a Christ follower, though, I was able to overcome these selfish desires. I realized that I was still immature in my faith, but I could at least follow God’s command in Ephesians chapter 6 that says,

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

I saw the promises of this commandment as I obeyed God through obeying my parents in the Lord. I saw through people I watched that disobeying your parents in the Lord leads to sin which leads to a lot of suffering. I saw these people wreck their lives and decided that I didn’t want a wrecked life as well. I truly desired that life would be well for me and that I would live a long, healthy life. As I honored my parents growing up, I realized that I was a slave to them in a spiritual sense, but it was much better than being a slave to my selfish desires. The blessings that came out of obeying my parents was worth more than what I could have ever gotten had a cut myself off from them. I was able to be a slave to God by obeying Him, and in obeying my parents, I obeyed God.

I know that I was by no means a perfect child. I definitely rebelled and didn’t deserve to be raised as well as I did. I didn’t deserve the parents I was given either. I really didn’t deserve a God who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for my sins and raise from the dead so that I would have eternal life. But, I am so thankful He did. That’s who I want to be a slave to, not my selfish desires.

Application: As I obeyed my parents in the Lord, I can also obey those who God has now placed in my life now that I am no longer under my parents’ command. I have this amazing home in Guatemala right now. I can either experience the blessings of the freedom that come with obeying those who are taking care of me, or I can do what I want to do in rebellion and have the freedoms of this property taken away from me. Today, I will recognize my authorities in the Lord and obey their commands, knowing that it pleases the Lord and He promises quality and length of life.

Inductive Bible Study February 16

IBS Tuesday February 16

Acts 5:29-32

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We out to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Obey God. That is the most important thing. So often we just want to follow our own impulses through life. There are so many other ways that man can occupy himself with rather than obeying God. No wonder so many people are drowning in their depression and suffering from the results of their sins. Others may be enjoying life to the max but killing themselves in the process. All paths that do not lead to God ultimately end in misery, but most people don’t realize that until their time is done.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Obeying God is man’s all. The world says “think for yourself,” “go do what you want to do,” “do what feels right.” No wonder no one can find happiness. However, the Bible tells us the happiness is found in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:20 says, “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”

When I came to realize that God is the source of happiness, I felt like I had unlocked the secret to life. I realized that my worldly pursuits did not satisfy these feelings of depression, nor did seeking pleasure or material things. I know that God is the Creator. The Alpha and the Omega. Knowing that I have direct access to God in Jesus Christ is the joy that trumps everything else in life. How can put anything or anyone before God when I know I have God. It is better to obey God than to obey man. God knows everything, but man always falls short. But as I obey God, I receive more of the Holy Spirit.

Application: The next time I am enticed by myself or someone else to do something that goes against my convictions, I am going to put that through God and make my priority to obey Him above myself or someone else.  

Inductive Bible Study February 15

IBS Monday February 15

Hebrews 5:8

Although He was a Son He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

Jesus suffered the worst trials that any person could go through. He was tempted by everything we are tempted by. He lived in the same flesh that I live in. Yet, He was obedient to the point of death. He never sinned. That’s why He’s at the right hand of God. If we were obedient to God in everything, all the time, we would probably live very challenging but rewarding lives as well.

Often in my own life I have disobeyed God so that I could avoid something uncomfortable. The results I have gotten were what I wanted, but it left me empty inside because I knew I failed. God promises us that He will give us the strength we need to endure hardship. As long as I am disobeying God, I am separating myself from His power. I want to live a life that is obedient to Him. I want to experience His empowerment. As I go through life, I want God to be guiding my steps. I want to be obedient to God wherever I am placed.

Right now as I am in the Potter’s Field Ignite Discipleship program, I want to be obedient to God. Coming here to Guatemala is a direct result of being obedient to God, but I can’t stop at that. Since being here for over 5 weeks, I have gotten in the swing of things, but I have found myself missing out on what God has for me because of disobedience. I have doing the work, but I haven’t been doing it diligently. One thing I’ve noticed myself doing is going through my daily checklist, checking off everything. The problem is that I look back at the end of the week and realize I haven’t taken it to the level where I fully grasp and can truly apply what I am learning. I finish the week feeling like I left something on the table.

This habit of doing all the work but not really applying myself has been a part of my past. In school I did all of my assignments and did them well, but when it came time to put that knowledge to the test, I left feeling like I hadn’t given it 100%. On the other hand, in my work life I have seen the rewards of being obedient and giving it 100%. When I worked hard, been willing to do whatever I was asked, and had a good attitude, I have found that work is so much fun and rewarding. I want to apply that to my time in Ignite. I know it will take time to develop that habit but with more than 6 weeks left I can develop a solid habit that will take me places I never thought were possible.

Application: Today I am going to set aside a one hour period of time between dinner and bedtime, somewhere between 6-10 pm, to seek guidance and create a plan that, if followed, will help me to get the most out of my studies and take advantage of the environment that I am in for this time and what’s to come. I want this plan to start as a challenge that I can incorporate into my daily schedule.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Inductive Bible Study February 12

IBS Friday February 12

Psalm 17:15

"As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness."

One day I will awake in the likeness of God, with a heavenly body that cannot perish. I will be in eternal paradise with Christ. This hope I have surpasses all understanding. It makes persecution so much easier to bear. It makes the fleeting pleasures of this life lose their grip on my life.

1 John 3:2 says, “Now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

We shall be like Him. God is the Creator, the giver of salvation, the Alpha and the Omega. How could I possibly desire anything else but to be like Him. The hope we can have in the life to come is beyond comprehension. Our minds can’t even wrap around the glory of God.

Many people choose not to even consider that there is a life after death. Some people think that it is stupid to believe in God. Others go so far as to trust their “intellect” and explain away God with unprovable observations about the development of life and the creation of the universe. Looking at life with the view that God created everything suddenly removes the need to theorize how it all came about.

Job 38:4-6 says “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened?”

No one can wrap their mind around God’s creation, let alone God. That’s why I put my faith in Christ. On top of that, He loves us and gives us eternal life in paradise. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

That’s the hope I have.

Application: Today I will take time out of my day to look at God’s creation, the beautiful scenery of Antigua, Guatemala, and ask God to help me see Him through the wonder of His glory.

Inductive Bible Study February 11

IBS Thursday February 11

Philippians 4:11

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…”

Contentment: the ability to keep your joy through any state you find yourself in. Being content is something that is learned. People are not naturally content. I am not naturally content.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time desiring things that I did not have. I remember my parents buying a brand new GMC Yukon XL Denali in 2006. It was the last year they were making the older model. It was probably one of the nicest SUV’s made in 2006, but in 2007 they came out with a newer model of the Denali. I remember when I first saw a friend of ours who bought the newer one I became jealous and remember wishing my parents would have waited one more year to get the newer one.

One year I was the kid getting picked up from school in the nicest car out there, but the next year I was the kid getting picked up in the older car from school. That’s just how messed up my thinking was at the time. It took me a very long time to realize I had a problem with discontentment.

Once I did realize that it was a problem of mine, I became even more discontent because I knew I wanted these things that I did not have even more than I did before. As I God worked on me in this area, He began showing me how all is vanity. Material possessions do not go into Heaven, only what is done for God goes into Heaven. Life isn’t a battle for who has the newest car, it’s a spiritual battle.

Application: Today I will ask God that he gives me a spiritual mindset that is set on living for Him and that I will be able to drop my materialistic mindset.

Inductive Bible Study February 10

IBS Wednesday February 10

Hebrews 13:5

Let your conduct be without covetous; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.

We can have confidence that God will not forsake us. He promised that there is eternal life for all who believe that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. It is as simple as that.

Most people try to turn salvation into something it’s not. We do not need to go beyond Jesus to get into Heaven. We do not need to spend our time trying to work our way to Heaven. We continue to do good works because we are grateful that we are accepted into Heaven.

Application: Out of appreciation to God for the free gift of salvation, I am going to seek the word about what it looks like to continue in good works unto Him that I may gain more confidence in my spiritual conduct.

Inductive Bible Study February 9

IBS Tuesday February 9

Luke 3:14

Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

This verse is disheartening to me unless I read the verse before which says “collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Being content with your wages can be very tough but knowing that it is the amount that is “appointed to you” is where I’ve found contentment. In any job, you will never be paid more than your job is worth. The only healthy way to raise your wages is to increase the quality of your work and strive for a higher position. If you are living in a situation when you are just moving out of the house and starting out in life, this verse is a good guideline for finances.

Right now, I am in a yearlong discipleship program, but after this I expect that I will be starting out on my own financially. For the things I plan on doing with my life, it’s a major challenge for me to see a small number on my paycheck. I have ambitions, goals, and plans that require me to go beyond the amount of money I earn. But, God shows me that I just need to be thankful for what I have. He taught me to be thankful and have confidence that I am at where I am at because God placed me here. There is no circumstance that God would put me in where I had no option to be content. Being content does not mean to become idle, it just means to accept “what is appointed for you.” God may appoint you seemingly poor circumstances during one season and then appoint you rich circumstances during other times. Nevertheless we are to be content in all circumstances. In Philippians chapter 4, Paul says “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The Lord is responsible for one’s wealth. He gives and takes away. When He gives us wealth, He will give us a healthy perspective of it. Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Having wealth without sorrow is a major blessing. Having experienced the lifestyles of many of my wealthy friends’, I learned very quickly that there is a lot of grief and stress that comes with being rich. Although being rich has its many upsides, which nearly who isn’t dreams of, the downsides can outweigh them the upside. When God is in control of your life as well as your finances, this sorrow is lifted. You learn that these things do not last and you cannot take them into Heaven, so you come to realize that God has blessed you but that it is not so that you can spend it building up treasure on earth, but in Heaven. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 says, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” For me, realizing that God has given me an interest in money and business, this verse is the ultimate guideline. The friends of mine who are the happiest and most content with their wealth are the most generous ones. Those of us who are rich are to be rich in good works, generous always, and willing to share our blessings. With that heart, God will bless us with treasure in Heaven while we deny ourselves that blessing on Earth.

Application: While I am in Guatemala, I have very few worries. Financially, I am don’t have much to worry about. However, when I return from the mission field and the time comes to leave the house of my parents, I will have to be very intentional about my financial decisions. Biblically, God blesses those who give, He prospers those who are diligent, and protects those who are frugal. Today, I am going to ask God for His guidance and a healthy perspective in the area of finances and compile a list of verses on the subject of managing wealth.

Inductive Bible Study January 8

IBS Monday January 8

1Timothy 6:6-8

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

This is a tough truth. It’s astonishing how much time people spend in discontent. I’m a prime example of this.

I have this constant worry for the future. It mostly stems from an unhappiness with my material possessions. A couple years ago my family was forced to move out of our house. We had a 5 acre property with a large main house and a smaller house for my grandparents. We had everything on our property: a pool, a motocross track, a creek, a steep sledding hill for the winter, and the freedom and means to do what we wanted to do. When it was all taken away from me, I became extremely discontent. My friends all seemed to be moving up while my family was moving down. One of my best friends had moved into a mansion while I was moving into a house a third of the size. I used to complain about this all the time until I came across this verse a while back. My friends began to correct me about this telling me all the things I should be happy about. In reality I really did have a ton of stuff. My new house was smaller than my friend’s, but it was still a much better house than most.

Looking back, I had so much to be thankful for. I realized that it really doesn’t matter what you have on the outside. It matters what you have on the inside. Now, I still have a goal to live in a mansion someday, but it’s something I don’t hold on to in discontentment. I know that I cannot take that to Heaven. The things are Heaven are not from this world or from me; they are from God. God even promises us some of these things if we believe in Jesus. John 14:2 says “in My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” If we spend our lives in discontentment, going after the things which are ending, we miss the point. Matthew 6:19-21 tells us not to lay up treasures on Earth, which are perishing, but to lay up treasures in Heaven, where nothing can be taken away and is eternal.

In my own life, I can begin living out this verse. Instead of trying to gain something that I can’t keep, I want to spend my life gaining something that can’t be take away from me.

Application: Today I am going to thank God for all the things I have and ask Him to make my heart more godly and content that I will let go of the treasure I have on this earth and focus on what is to come after this life.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Endurance Through Bad Times

IBS Tuesday February 2

Luke 21:19

“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” 

Through endurance I can gain life. What this verse reminds me is that through trials and tribulations, there is a way to win the battle for my soul. I do not have to be taken down by bad circumstances.

In my own life, I have gone through trials which have tested my faith. No matter how bad the situations, I have always had the choice to either give up or keep going. My dad once had a successful business and was making a lot of money. I remember how easy my life was in those years. I was living a very privileged life and got to spend my days doing what I wished, isolated from the realities of the world. But about 8 years ago my dad’s business had come upon hard times, and he was unable to keep it under control and had to downsize the company which he eventually shut down. My life had changed dramatically. We had to move out of our large home and lay aside the comfortable life we once had. My parents took me out of private school and I couldn’t spend the time I used to on my hobbies. During that time, I grew closer to God. I realized that my circumstances didn’t mean God was punishing my family, but that God wanted to get me to realize something. I knew that I couldn’t endure this time of my life if my eyes where not set on Jesus. When I was taken out of my family’s isolation, I had to face the world. I had many temptations and opportunities to give up the good fight and give in to the things many of my friends had been consumed by like drugs, profanity, and low standards, but I chose to keep resisting the devil when I was being hit from all sides and go to Jesus for my strength. During that time, while my family had a lot of tension and I lost close relationships, I chose that I would not give up on Jesus. Thankfully my family has recovered, and we have grown tighter than we ever were before. But God prepared me during those years of tribulation for the much greater tribulations that are to come.

Application: While my life is on the positive, I will make sure that I am preparing for when those difficulties in life do come, because I know they will or else God wouldn’t be preparing me. I know that I will need good people in my life and an especially strong dependence on the Lord when I go through the trials, so one thing I can begin doing now is to start developing those relationships that will help me endure when the trials do come. How? Today I will pray for relationships and accountability in my life that will be my parachute for when I do come upon difficult times and also that I can be that help to others as well. Also, I will seek out my teachers’ and pastors’ advice about how they endured the bad times.

Beyond the Elementary Principles

IBS Friday February 5

Hebrews 6:12

“That you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Through Jesus, we find salvation. This means eternal life after this life if we choose to believe that God sent His Son Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins. In Hebrews chapter 6, though, we find that there are “things that accompany salvation” (vs. 9). We can become believers but get stuck in the “elementary principles of Christ,” but we are called to “go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (vs. 1).

Revelations 12:11-2 says

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!”

We are no longer to cling to the things of this life. We are to stop loving our lives as residents of this earth. God will give us free residency in Heaven with no expiration date. Even as Christians we can hang on to the things of this life like our possessions, habits, and relationships. When we do this we lose our hope in Heaven and our hearts become hardened.

I’ve found myself stuck here many times because of the treasures I’ve stored up for myself in this Earth and become so attached to.

In Matthew 6:20-21 says

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there your heart will be also.”

Storing up treasures in Heaven means going beyond the elementary principles of Christ and even enduring persecution.

Matthew 5:11-12 tells us how we can store up great reward in Heaven.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecutes the prophets who were before you.”

The way I was relieved from my hardened heart towards God was when I realized that great reward is at stake if we choose to go after all that God has for us.

Psalms 51:12-13 says

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.

When God has spoiled you for the world, a great transformation happens. You lose your fear of being persecuted and dying because you look forward to what lays ahead in Heaven.

Application: How can I continue to loosen the grip I have on my life and put my faith and reward in Heaven? Today I will spend time searching the Bible for the hope that is in Heaven and write down what I find is true about heaven and ask God how I can begin storing up treasure in heaven. I will also continue to seek the Holy Spirit.

I Shall Not Be Moved

IBS Thursday February 4

Psalms 16:8

I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Wow, how badly I needed to hear this. “I shall not be moved.” Last night I was given a major wake up call which revealed so vividly where I stand in life.

I have always been someone who has held back, who has lacked confidence. I know I am meant to be so much more, but I’m afraid to step out. I want to put myself out there, but I am afraid of putting myself on the spot. I have always stood on that line that separates the good from the great. I have always retreated to my comfort zone. Every time I kick through that barrier, I keep my other foot back and fail to truly give it 100%.

Growing up, I tried many things, but I never pushed myself to master one thing. I played soccer and quit because I was on a losing team. I played basketball and quit after one year because I thought it was too late to get good enough to play in high school, realizing later that I could have been so good. I ran track for my freshman year but quit because I thought it was a waste of time. I became a very good swimmer in the matter of one season, but I quit because I didn’t think I had a chance getting into a good college team, even though it was way too early to tell. I missed out on great relationships because I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t do my best in school because I was afraid of what would happen if I did apply myself and succeed. I took a job that had guaranteed pay because it sounded safer and backed down from my true desire to start a business. Many other things I quit or held myself back from because I lacked the courage.

Every time I held back in something, I beat myself up, knowing down inside that I really did have the potential and I really could have been successful. If only I did apply myself back then, where could I have been today? Who knows? The fact is that I’m here right now today. I can’t beat myself up anymore. I am definitely sick of being an in-between-er and a second-rate person. I don’t want to live my life in mediocrity.

This mediocrity shows up in my spiritual life too. That’s the one area that I know that if I applied myself to, it would mark a turning point in my life. This area is different though; it’s not about my own power but God’s power in my life. I have to give God the steering wheel and trust that through my seeking of Him, He will empower me for His purposes and will turn me into the vessel He created me to be. I’m at that point right now where a can either stay put or make the leap and be that person God wants me to become.

This past week I have seen God empower my friends’ lives in ways that I did not see the evidence of the day I met them. I see that God gives us outlets to pour ourselves out through when we set the Lord before us. When we set the Lord before us, we find that He is right there and will not allow us to be moved when we step out in faith. He will give us the confidence we need to stand firmly in our callings and carry them out to the fullest.

Job 42:2 says “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.”

We can step out boldly, knowing that we will not be moved because the God who can do everything is at our right hand as we set Him before us.

Application: Today I am going to step out in faith. I want today to be a turning point in my walk with God. I don’t want to resist God’s power through my life any longer. I want to be everything He created me to be. I want to let go and let God go to work in my life. How? Today I am going to stop resisting God, and let Him guide me and teach me in the way which I should go as Jonah did when God asked him to go to Nineveh even though it was a huge risk. I am going to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Strengthened with God's Might

IBS Wednesday February 3

Colossians 1:11

“Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power; for all patience and long suffering with joy.” NKJV

Through God, we have strength. This is not a physical strength, but a spiritual strength. It gives us the power to endure “for all patience and long suffering with joy.” When most people go through low points in their lives, they tend to lose patience and want to just give up, but what this verse is saying is that you don’t have to lose heart in these times.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

This verse reminds me that there’s always hope. When we are wanting to lose heart, we are not to grow weary, but we are look to God for our strength.

Colossians 1 goes on to say in verses 12-14, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross for our sins that we may have freedom from our pasts and be allowed to move on through the trials of life in a manner worthy to God. Instead of trying to solve our problems in the club, on the internet, or getting in debt, God gives us the option that we may attain eternal life according to His glorious power. Our strength will fail us, but His strength will keep us going. “In due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Application: Today I will encourage myself in the Lord by looking to those people in the Bible who had this spiritual strength and asking myself how I might also gain this strength.

Simplicity and Godly Sincerity

IBS Thursday January 28

2 Corinthians 1:12

For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

The important thing to God is that we abide in Him and not in fleshly wisdom. He wants our conscience to be clear and for us to conduct ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity. He doesn’t want us to complicate our lives or entangle ourselves with the cares of this world. If I am living by fleshly wisdom, I am living for this life and how to be successful here. But if I live in God’s grace, I am living for eternal life. In my own life I have tried living by fleshly wisdom and asking myself how I can get the most enjoyment out of it. I often dream of being multi-millionaire because I see it as the means to experiencing everything I can out of life materially and having the freedom to do all the things I wouldn’t be able to do if lacked the resources, but I miss the point God wants me to see which is found in loving Him and doing His will. It doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t experience the material things or have the resources to do all the things I dream of doing, but the Bible tells us “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and only after this will the material things be added to you. God wants me to depend on Him so that I don’t get caught in the traps in life. Living my life for God is how we experience true freedom. I will never be satisfied by the wisdom of this world. In seeking the Kingdom of God we find God’s grace. In God’s grace we are satisfied and we see the truth about life.

Application: Today I will delight myself in God’s grace and really ask Him to be my source of satisfaction rather than the things of this world which are fading away. I will ask God to make my conscience clear and sincere towards Him. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Remove the Plank from Your Own Eye

IBS Tuesday January 26, 2015

Matthew 11:19

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.

Jesus came to Earth to die on the cross for sinners, not the perfect. So often Christians are very judgmental towards anyone who has compassion for the 'lost sheep', when the lost sheep are the very people who need Jesus the most. The people who think they have it all together are sometimes the most blind towards Christ. They see Christ as a low-life who had no sense of what it meant to be righteous. The problem with the self-righteous is that they don’t bear fruit in their lives. They don’t acknowledge that they are sinners too, which make it hard for them to love others and help lead other sinners to Christ. Jesus was the one bearing fruit and bringing salvation to the world. Those very sinners Jesus was saving turned acknowledged and turned from their sin. When the verse says wisdom is justified by her children, you can see that Jesus was the one who was bringing the lost sheep back to Him. In my own life, I am quick to judge someone who has a problem while failing to acknowledge my own sin. I need to remember the verse that says I need to remove the plank from my own eye before I remove the speck from another’s eye.

Application: The next time that I find myself judging another person, I will first acknowledge that I am a sinner and I have problems before I tell them that they have a problem.