Saturday, December 31, 2011

~New Year's Resolutions~

Ok guys, so my post tonight isn't going to be long at all! Don't worry! ;) I just wanted to let you all know what my 1 resolution is for 2012. I always make at least 1 or 2 resolutions, and they never seem to stick... But, this is one that I'm very excited about! My resolution for 2012 is: I'm going to work on one Bible study per week. An extensive study. I'm going to dive into one topic a week, deeply! And, then I'm going to write a blog post about what I've learned! Lord willing, He will help keep me motivated to do this. I absolutely LOVE studying the Word, and I want to make a habit of at least one study a week. So, are you with me? I hope so! If you see that I'm not keeping up with it, please point it out! I need some accountability here! ;) Anyway, thank you guys, for reading these posts. It makes me happy to see comments from my readers and to know that I'm not just typing words and sending them into some big black hole out there somewhere! I love you all! God bless you in the upcoming year of 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Speaking Boldly of Christ Through Persecution

I think that Acts 4 is a pretty amazing example of how we, as Christians, should respond to persecution. And it really inspired me! I'll just give a quick run through of what happened--

As Peter and John were ministering to the people in the temple, they were arrested and put in jail overnight. The next day they were questioned by the Sanhedrin about the power by which they healed the lame man (ch. 3.) Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, answered saying, "let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Isreal, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom YOU crucified, whom GOD raised from the dead-- by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the Stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Corner Stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

~I think it's pretty awesome how bold Peter was (even while standing in the middle of all of the rulers and elders and scribes) in saying "YOU rejected Him. YOU killed Him. But you know what? GOD raised Him from the dead. HE became the chief Corner Stone. And HE is the only One that can save us!"

The Sanhedrin (after seeing that Peter and John must have been with Jesus, and after seeing the lame man, now healed) had no reply. They then began to discuss how word will spread among all of the people about the healing if they didn't put a stop to it. So, the Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John not to speak or teach AT ALL in the name of Jesus. But, Peter and John answered, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we CANNOT stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." They were then threated further, but the Sanhedrin could find no reason to punish them. So they were let go! :)

~I want to have the same attitude as Peter and John. They refused to stop talking about Jesus! This passage remind me of:

Jeremiah 20:9~ But if I say, "I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name," Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.
~I want the word of God to burn like a fire within me! I don't want to hold it in! I want it to consume my life!

After Peter and John were released, they went back to their own companions and told them everything that was said to them by the rulers and elders. And they all prayed to the Lord, "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly!

~Even after being arrested and questioned and threatened, they still spoke the word of God! And they prayed for boldness!

** I need to be praying for confidence that I may speak boldly to everyone about my Lord and Savior, even if/when I'm being persecuted for it!**

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Making the Most of Every Opportunity

I started this study in May of 2010, while I was on tour in New Orleans with a performance choir that I was involved in from the church that we had been attending. The inspiration for this study was the ministry that I was able to be a part of for that time. It was amazing! So, I decided to work on this:

~I need to make the most of every opportunity that I get to share the Word of God with people!

Colossians 4:2-6~ Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Ephesians 5:15-16~ Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

~I feel like, according to Colossians 4:2-6, I need to be praying that God will open up doors for me to share the Word. I need to conduct (manage) myself with wisdom, making the most of the opportunity! And, my speech needs to be with grace, so that I'll know how to respond to people.

~If I need wisdom on how to speak to to people, all I have to do is ask God!

James 1:5~ But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

~I think that one way to speak with grace is to follow:

Ephesians 4:29~ Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

So, I only need to speak with words that are uplifting.

~And, according to Ephesians 5:15-16, it is wise to make the most of my time, because the days are evil.
I Peter 3:15~ ...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone that asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
~Now, this verse tells me that I ALWAYS need to be ready to defend what I believe. And, the best way that I can defend myself is with Scripture.
Proverbs 22:17-18~ Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.
~It will be pleasant if I keep the words of the wise (Scripture) within me. And if I keep them within me, they will be ready on my lips, so that I'll be able to defend my faith.
Colossians 3:16~ Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
~I see this verse as a command to memorize Scripture. It seems like that is the only way for it to richly dwell within me.

Now, I used to use excuses when it came to spreading the Word. I used to say that I'm not good at talking to people, I'm just shy, or I'm afraid of rejection..... But, this is what the Bible says about the kind of attitude that I should have:

Romans 1:16~ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Psalm 119:46~ I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed.
Matthew 10:19-20~
"But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
Ephesians 6:19-20~
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
II Timothy 1:7~
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
Matthew 10:14~ "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet."

~So, to sum all of those verses up.... I don't need to be ashamed to talk about Scripture. I should be proud to speak of the Lord and His Word! I don't need to worry about what I'm going to say. God will give me the words! I need to be praying that I may be fearless when talking about the Word. And, this is because I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline. Not fear. And, I don't need to worry about being rejected! If I am, I just need to "shake the dust off my feet" and go to the next place! :)
~~~I want to make the most of every opportunity and not be afraid to do so.~~~
This study was really hard for me to put into words.... So, I ended up using alot more Scripture than I did my own thoughts. But, I think that's definitely the way that it should be. I guess my sin nature wants to take over and say "These are MY thoughts." But, I don't want to live life according to MY thoughts. I want to live according to GOD'S WORD. So, there you have it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

The topic of this particular post is one that has weighed heavily on my heart since September 2010. I wrote this back in November 2010 and posted it on Facebook, but I wanted to share it with you guys in the blogging world, as well. You know, if anyone is actually reading this.... :)

So, here it is....

I'm going to start out with some questions.

1.What does your life mean to you?
2.What is your main goal/desire in life?
3.How do you want to be remembered when this life is over and done?

Hopefully, I have stirred up your mind and have you thinking deeply about these questions. If I don't, you can just pretend for my sake. That was my goal, by the way. :)

I'll continue by answering the first question for you. (Keep in mind, these are MY thoughts, so I am not answering these questions for each individual person that will read this. I suggest that you go and find out what your own personal answers are.)

So, back to the questions!

Question #1: What does your life mean to you?

~~My life means absolutely NOTHING to me if my Lord and Savior is not in it.~~

John 15:5~ "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for **apart from Me you can do nothing.**
Why would my life mean anything to me, if I could do nothing? I praise the Lord that He opened my eyes to this verse! Otherwise, I would have just been coasting through life with absolutely no meaning. Because of this verse, my life has meaning to me. It tells me that if God is in my life, I can bear fruit.


Galatians 5:22-23~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Philippians 1:11~ having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Now, why should I care if I bear fruit or not?

John 15:8~ "My father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples."

I want to glorify God by my actions! That's really all there is to it.

~~So, to me, my life means nothing without God. I want God to be my focus, so that I may bring glory to Him. The Lord is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29) and I want Him to consume my life!~~

Question #2: What is your main goal/desire in life?

Well, my main goal pretty much goes right along with question #1. But, I'll go into a little bit more detail about it.

~~My main goal is to bring glory to God.~~

Ephesian 2:10~ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

So, we were created for good works, right? Good works do NOT earn salvation, by the way. Good works should be a result of our salvation. But, they do NOT save us. Just to make that clear. :)

Matthew 5:16~ "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

This verse talks about the reason we're created for good works. "....that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

~~ I want to live for Christ. And, I want it to be obvious that I live for Christ.~~

~~ Now, my heart's desire should also be for other people's salvation.~~

Romans 10:1~ Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

I can't save people or cause them to grow in Christ. But, I can plant seeds by telling people about God!

I Corinthians 3:7~ So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, **but God who causes the growth.**

I should be constantly telling people about God and all of His works. I want to be able to tell other generations about God! I want to have the same attitude that David had when he wrote Psalm 71.

Psalm 71:17-18~ O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, **until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.**
Psalm 26:7~ That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders.
~~ I need to be diligent to fulfill my purpose of telling people about God. ~~

Alright, I'm almost done....

Question #3: How do you want to be remembered when this life is over and done?


Thomas Jefferson is known for being the 3rd president of the United States (of course) and also for being the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Edison is known as the inventor of the "carbon-button transmitter" and the incandescent lightbulb. Benjamin Franklin is known for inventing the Bifocal glasses and the lightning rod. Elvis Presley is known as the King of Rock and Roll. :)

These are all really great things. (Maybe not the latter.....) But, I simply want to be remembered as a person who always had something to say about the Lord, who never let a conversation end without mentioning God, who really lived for Christ.

~I want to leave a legacy of faith.~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giving the Gospel

Hey guys! So, I've decided to start a blog (again!) And, this time, I'm going to try really, really hard to keep up with it. I've had photography blogs in the past that I never keep up with after about 2 months... Although photography is one of my main passions, my first priority (or, what I try to keep as my first priority) is God. I try to work on a few Bible studies a month, and I wanted a place to be able to write down all of my thoughts and my findings. And, hopefully, people will comment back and share their thoughts with me. :)

Another thing that you will probably learn about me as you read my posts, is that I type what I think as I go. I'm not incredibly eloquent with my words, but for me, most of the time it's easier to understand things when they're written out in plain English, the way that people speak everyday. I'm warning you now, I won't be writing like Jane Austen or Shakespeare (I only wish I could understand their literature...) But, you should be able to understand me. Hopefully. If you can't.... I'm sorry. This is just the way I think and talk. So, here's my first blog post!

The topic of this post--Giving the Gospel or How to Give the Gospel--took me weeks to study. Something that I have noticed is that usually when giving the Gospel or learning how to give the Gospel, people only give the basic verses: John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23. But, I think that it should be a little more in-depth than just the basics.... It should really be put on a more personal level than it usually is. Salvation is the most important decision you will ever make in your life! You need to understand it fully! Now, I'm still going to add the basics in here, but I'm also using some other verses that aren't normally used. So, this is what I have found in my studies.....
We deserve death, but God offers us salvation. All we have to do is accept it. He loves us, and He just wants us to love Him in return. We are valuable in God's eyes. He paid a high price for us.

•Isaiah 59:1-2~ Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.•Romans 3:23~ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,•Romans 6:23~ For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
•John 3:16~ For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
•Romans 5:8~ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
•Matthew 11:28-30~ "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

•I Corinthians 6:20~ For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
We are saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot earn salvation in any way. We can never be good enough to earn salvation. We just have to accept it.
•Ephesians 2:8-9~ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
•Romans 4:4-5~ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.
It isn't always easy being a Christian. You will be looked down on for your beliefs. And, just like anyone else, you're still going to have trials and tribulations, but you will know that God is watching you, and that He is going to take care of you if you commit yourself to Him. God will bring you through any hard times. You just have to believe that He can and will.

•Matthew 5:10-11~ "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
•Romans 5:3-4~ And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;•John 16:33~ "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world."•Romans 8:18~ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
•Romans 8:28~ And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
One day, all trials and tribulations will be done away with. In heaven there will be no tears, death, mourning, or pain. It is up to you which fate you choose. If you choose to believe, you will have eternal life in heaven with our Lord and Savior. If you choose not to believe, you will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
•Revelation 21:3-4~ And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among me, and He will wipe away ever tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
•Revelation 20:14-15~ Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death, the Lake of Fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.

If you're like I am (or used to be,) there will be times that you doubt your salvation, and you ask yourself, "Am I really saved?" This is my favorite verse of assurance.
•I John 5:11-13~ And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son, has the life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Well, those are just my thoughts and verses for giving the Gospel..... If you have anymore really good ones that I missed, please feel free to share them with me! :)