“I Just Wanna Be Happy!!” – (Part 3 of 4)

Let’s take just one moment to recap from the previous post, “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!” – (Part 2), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY.

God’s way to joy  =>> Other-centered  them, them, them  (How can I be a blessing to others?  What might I have to “give up”, sacrifice, to restore a relationship, to start a relationship, to set healthy boundaries in a relationship, etc.)

The world’s way to happiness  =>>  Self-centered – me, me, me  (What’s in it for me?  What will make me happy?)

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The life God calls us to live may seem, at first glance, counter-intuitive and challenging.  It seems to fight against every fiber of our being.  I often feel the way Paul describes himself in Romans 7:19 – I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.   

              Jekyll-Hyde-logo-black2

Referencing the slide from my previous post, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY, The Way to…, we can see that there is a battle being fought for our hearts.

            ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Satan, the god of this world, John 12:31, the prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2, seeks to influence our ideas, opinions, goals, hopes, education, finances, and worldview (philosophies) towards his ways.  Forget about others.  You’re the only one who matters.  Look out for #1.

God, on-the-other-hand, wants to give us wisdom, James 1:5, He’s allowed us to experience love, because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19. God, who so deeply desires a relationship with us, that He willingly gave His Son, Jesus, to be a sacrifice in our place, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16, and live forever with God.  He desires for us to look outside of ourselves, towards others.  Not for His benefit, but for ours.

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Have you ever heard of making a New Year’s Resolution?  A promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good, or to stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

Have you ever heard of the concept – exercising mindfulness?  Meaning to pay attention “on purpose” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Have you ever heard this verse from the Bible?  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.Isaiah 55:8

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WHAT DO THESE SEEMINGLY, RANDOM, QUESTIONS HAVE TO DO WITH GOD’S WAY TO JOY?

< “I Just Wanna Be Happy!!  –  (Part 4), http://wp.me/p5nZpi-lH >

SEE ALSO:   (PART 1) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kK,    (PART 2) – http://wp.me/p5nZpi-kY

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So Many Choices, How Can I Choose?? – PROVERBS 5 [7 out of 7]

The person without the Spirit can’ t understand the truths that come from the Spirit of God. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Verses 21-23 wrap up Proverbs 5:
21   For the LORD sees clearly what a man does,
       examining every path he takes.
22   An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
       they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23   He will die for lack of self-control;
       he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

What I particularly like about Solomon’s advice is that he is a straight-talker.  You don’t have to read between the lines to understand his message (see bold print).

Solomon points out clearly that it’s the choices we made that define the path we’re on today.  We weren’t randomly teleported to where we are now.

             star-trek-teleporter

If we take the time to reflect on our past choices, using the gift of reasoning God gave only to people, we would be able to see that, “I did _____ in this situation, choosing to do  _______, and ______ , and the result was _______.”  Hind sight is 20/20 after-all. 🙂

Each choice we make takes us down a different path.  Some great, some a learning experience, and some destructive. We’re continually making choices. We’re never stagnant.

              choosing-the-right-strategic-path

For example –  I chose to look down, although quickly, at a text while driving, and don’t see that the car in front of me slowed up to let a family of geese pass, and I hit them.

gesse            fender-bender

These warnings from Solomon in Proverbs Chapter 5, , and others we read about in the Bible, are there because God knows we struggle with all the choices that bombard us. If this was not an issue, God wouldn’t spend so much time emphasizing, and re-emphasizing the potential irreversible emotional, and physical consequences of going our own way.

I mean seriously, isn’t it hard enough trying to pick out the “right” tube of toothpaste at the grocery store?

             toothpaste

Won’t it be nice to be able to KNOW which toothpaste would give me those bright white teeth? Wouldn’t it be nice to KNOW which choice would give me a rich and satisfying life?  – John 10:10  

Thankfully, we can KNOW the “wise” choice.  Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  –  Matthew 7:13

   Enter-in-at-the-narrow-gate-copy-w

Make a choice today to follow God’s ways, and ask God into your heart, see The Cornerstone… tab in the menu.

(To read all the posts from Proverbs 5, click Proverbs 5 link under Categories in sidebar, or scroll down if viewing on mobile version)

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God – Keeping Sexual Purity “Real” – PROVERBS 5 – [6]

God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.  Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor…  –  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

————————————————————————

15 Drink water from your own well—
    share your love ONLY with your wife.
16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets,
    having sex with just anyone?
17 You should reserve it for yourselves.
    Never share it with strangers.

18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
    Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
    Let her breasts satisfy you always.
    May you always be captivated by her love.
20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,
    or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?

Solomon doesn’t hold anything back in these next few verses of Proverbs 5.  Can you believe this is God giving us these intimate/detailed guidelines?

That’s our Creator.    Smiley-face-1600x1200-wallpaper-775678.jpg

He tells it like it is.  He keeps it real.  He knows our hearts, He knows all people, No one needs to tell him what mankind is really like. – John 2:24-25, He knows our weaknesses.  He warns us because He loves us and wants to protect us.

Although He doesn’t force us to choose His way, He gave people freewill. He doesn’t want us to feel hopeless and confused.                                                                                                                                                  confused

The promise God gave the Israelites, 3,000+ years ago, is true for us today, as well.  Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, (pleading, begging, my add) that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  –  Deuteronomy 30:19   

                           life or death    

What a powerful and hopeful verse!!

God wants us to be aware that our actions have consequences, both positive and negative.

  • Would I be a good parent if I didn’t tell my children that “doing” drugs is harmful to themselves and others?
  • Would I be a good parent if I told my children that having sex outside of marriage is nothing more than a “good” time, with no physical or emotional repercussions?
  • Would I be a “good” parent if I simply let the culture drive my children’s decisions, so they could experience “real life”?

If we, sinful people, know how to give good gifts (protection and warnings, my add) to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (who follow Him, my add).  –  Matthew 7:11

We might not want to believe this, but we’ve all experienced the fact that we can’t change other people.  Even if the advice, support, and guidance we’re giving them is right on target, some people would rather touch the fire to be sure it’s hot, rather than listening and heeding the advice of those who have already been burned.

                   burned hand

 As Solomon writes in the Book of Ecclesiastes, History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. There’s nothing new under the sun. –  Ecclesiastes. 1:9

I urge and remind myself, and others –

DON’T just listen to God’s word.  DO what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  –  James 1:22

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CAUTION, DANGER, STAY AWAY!!! PROVERBS 5 [4]

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18

 

AVOID THE IMMORAL WOMAN  
1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
    listen carefully to my wise counsel.
2 Then you will show discernment,
    and your lips will express what you’ve learned.
3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
    and her mouth is smoother than oil.
4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
    as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
    her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 For she cares nothing about the path to life.
    She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.
7 So now, my sons, listen to me.
    Never stray from what I am about to say:
8 Stay away from her!
    Don’t go near the door of her house!
9 If you do, you will lose your honor…
    

Proverbs 5 is titled, Avoid the Immoral Woman.  You’ll also notice, throughout chapter 5 that  Solomon refers to, my son.  Although it appears that the warnings of chapter 5 are just for boys/men, it applies to girls/women, as well.  Guys certainly can be smooth-talkers and flatterers in an attempt to seduce (entice into sexual activity) girls –  v.3 lips sweet as honey and mouth smoother than oil.  But at the same time, girls may choose to dress provocatively in an attempt to seduce guys, leading to sin – But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28

Solomon says again with emphasis in v.8 –  stayaway
Otherwise, the result – v.9a – You will lose your honor

The surest way to protect yourself from getting caught up in sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage) is, v.8 – DON’T go near the door of her/his house.

dangerkeepoutdoor

You could take that to mean, in the literal sense, don’t go “home” with them.  Or, in the figurative sense, the “door” meaning to approach in conversation, put yourself in a vulnerable position (alone, one-on-one), etc.

Both of the above scenarios are assuming that you have found yourself in a tempting situation. A situation where you suspect the person you are with, or you yourself, may be tempted to be sexually immoral.

Naturally, it is ok to interact with people in a conversation, or hang out at friend’s houses.  But, for your own “protection”, and accountability,  it’s a good idea to hang out in a group versus one-on-one.

strength in numbers

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Are You Attempting to “Do Life” on Your Own???? – PROVERBS 4 [1 OF 1]

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

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Click on this link http://biblehub.com/nlt/proverbs/4.htm to read Proverbs 4.

Many of the verses may seem similar to what we’ve learned in Proverbs 1-3, (See Categories in sidebar to read previous posts).

I’ve highlighted a few key verses from this chapter below.

 

6   (IF YOU) DON’T turn your back on wisdom,

              turn-from-god                                    

      (THEN) for she will protect you                                                                               

                          keep-calm-and-i-ll-protect-you

       (IF YOU) Love her, and (THEN) she will guard you.

                  angelssurrounding

  Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
     And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

8   IF you prize wisdom, (THEN) she will make you great.
     (IF YOU) Embrace her, and (THEN) she will honor you.

  guy with trophy                       boy hugging bible

14  DON’T do as the wicked do, and                                                                                                    DON’T follow the path of evildoers.
15  DON’T even think about it;
      DON’T go that way. Turn away and keep moving.

                                         guy walking

18  The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
       which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
19  BUT the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
     They have no idea what they are stumbling over. (They don’t even realize that they are on a           destructive path because the path is not lit with knowledge and guidance from God’s Word)

              car-on-dark-country-road          VS.        lighted path

23  Guard your heart above all else,
      for it determines the course of your life.   

                         castle with heart

26   Mark out (set goals, have a plan) a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
27  DON’T get sidetracked; (following the latest fads or people’s “great” ideas)
keep your feet from following evil.

                       straightpath

There is no good reason for us to attempt to “do life” on our own.  God loves us and wants us to have a rich and satisfying life – John 10:10

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – Hebrews 4:1

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Persevere =>> Be Rewarded… – PROVERBS 3:33-35 [7 of 7]

They see what I do, but they don’t perceive its meaning.  They hear my words, but they don’t understand.  So they will not turn from their sins and be forgiven.  –  Mark 4:12

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32         Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord,
         but He offers His friendship to the godly.

33     The Lord curses the house of the wicked,
         but He blesses the home of the upright.

34       The Lord mocks the mockers
         but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

35      The wise inherit glory and honor,
        but fools are put to shame!

Although this Proverb is only 35 verses long, Solomon packs in a ton of practical/applicable principles.

bricks

  • In the first few verses of Proverbs 3:1-10, Solomon talks about cause and effect relationships — (See posts referencing these verses —  http://wp.me/p5nZpi-87, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-89, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-8z).
  • He then moves on to talk about God’s loving discipline, verses 11-12 —                                             (See post — http://wp.me/p5nZpi-9v).
  • And then to showing the benefits of seeking and following Wisdom, verses 13-20  —                 (See post — http://wp.me/p5nZpi-av).
  • In verses 21-32, Solomon gives a number of warnings —                                                                (See post — http://wp.me/p5nZpi-b6).
  • And lastly, in verses 32-35, above, Solomon wraps up Proverbs 3 with BUT(s), (in bold print).

After all the don’t(s) that we saw in the previous verses, Solomon uses these last four verses to reassure God-followers that He does care about them. That He understands that those who follow His ways may be challenged and ridiculed.  BUT, those who persevere, will be rewarded with…

  • God’s friendship –  v. 32
  • blessing over their home (family, marriage, relationships, finances, health, etc.) –  v. 33
  • favor (with others) – v. 34
  • glory and honor – v. 35

finishline1-1024x640

Choose today to be among those who will one day say,  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing”.- 2 Timothy 4:7-8

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Which Way to Turn? Which Way to Turn??? – PROVERBS 3:21-32 [6]

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bear with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2

 

21  My child, DON’T lose sight of common sense (applying experience, knowledge) and                  discernment ( good judgement based on experience and knowledge = wisdom)
Hang on to them,
22    For they will…
        1. Refresh your soul.
            They are like jewels on a necklace.
23    2. They keep you safe on your way,
        3. Your feet will not stumble.
24    4. You can go to bed without fear;
        5. you will lie down and sleep soundly.

25  You DON’T need be afraid of sudden disaster
      or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the
26   1. Lord is your security.
       2. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

27   DON’T withhold good from those who deserve it
       when it’s in your power to help them.

28   If you can help your neighbor now, DON’T say,
       “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

29  DON’T plot harm against your neighbor,
      for those who live nearby trust you.

30  DON’T pick a fight without reason,
      when no one has done you harm.

31  DON’T envy the oppressor (someone who dominates or inflicts stress on someone)
       or copy their ways.
32  Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but
      1. He offers His friendship to the godly.

In the above verses you will see a series of DON’T(s), and the results of heeding those warnings. (See words in bold print for DON’T(s), and underlined numbers for the results).

Remember these principles when faced with making a decision that falls into the “gray” area.  Recalling AND Applying God’s Word will clear the “debris”, and enable you to see the “wise” choice.  (As you may notice, the “wise” choice is in the murky water.  Look closely.   It’s often hard to see until it’s been filtered out with God’s Truth, leaving the “wise” choice clearly visible.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                  glasses1

                                    grayarea                                                              

Now that we know all the positive results that come from following God’s guidance, hopefully the next time we find ourselves at a crossroads, we’ll have a good idea which path to choose.

                                    crossroad                                      be lucky tote good bet idea

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Wisdom – Pointing the Way —> PROVERBS 3:13-20 [5]

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. – Psalm 118:8

 

13   Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
14  For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
15  Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16  She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
17  She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
18  Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.

19  By wisdom the Lord founded the earth;
    by understanding he created the heavens.
20  By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth,
    and the dew settles beneath the night sky.

In verses 13-18 we see the value of wisdom emphasized and reemphasized.  (See words in bold print).  The benefits of wisdom are all fantastic!!!  Seeking and following wisdom enables us to navigate life.

It is like having a personal tour guide, pointing the way.    6161659-tour-guide

Wisdom is so powerful, verses 19-20 says, it was By wisdom and understanding the Lord founded the earth, and created the heavens.

                                     earth            heavens

 

We could compare wisdom to binary code.  To those who don’t know what it is or how to apply it, it simply looks like a bunch of ones and zeros.  But for those who “get it”, and “apply it”, the possibilities are endless.

                        stock-footage-a-footage-of-binary-code          BillGates-Microsoftb

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To Punish, or Not to Punish, That is the Question: – PROVERBS 3:11-12 [4]

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. – Psalm 28:7

 

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when He corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those He loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

Reading about discipline in verses 11 and 12 can make some of us cringe.  cringe That’s because discipline tends to emit a negative vibe, and is often used interchangeably with punishment.  Discipline, however, is quite different from punishment.

Punishment as defined by Merriam-Webster, is to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation. To make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior.

Discipline as defined by Dictionary.com, is training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. An activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.

Discipline’s purpose is to teach and train. And how it’s administered greatly affects the results.

We see in verse 12, the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.  These two words, in bold print, are much different from words like – who he wants to control, wants to show who’s boss, wants to express his anger towards

Discipline, is correction that comes from a position of love, with the purpose of instructing and training.  If, however, correction comes from a negative, angry, or vengeful position, it’s not discipline, it’s punishment.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “isn’t there a place for punishment?”  Of course there is.  It’s necessary for the police to punish people for crimes they commit, and the military to punish people who threaten the safety of its country’s citizens.  But it also might surprise you to know that punishment can be used alongside discipline, and still come from a position of love.

I’ll use an example to illustrate:  A child is playing with his football in the house, and breaks mom’s vase.

Punishment =  Mom yells at the child, and sends her to her room without dinner (making child suffer for their disobedience behavior).  Observe the child’s posture in each of these pictures.                                                                                                                                                                                                             6-kid-in-trouble-not-listening            girl getting yelled at          arthur

Discipline =  Mom reiterates, to the child, the fact that playing in the house with a football can cause damage, and is evidenced by the broken vase (teaching).  Observe the child’s posture in this picture.                  kid vase mom

Discipline & Punishment =  Mom reiterates, to the child, the fact that playing in the house with a football can cause damage, and is evidenced by the broken vase (teaching), therefore, the child is responsible to replace the vase (imposed penalty).

                                  kid vase mom                 holding money

It is not unusual that we get upset when reprimanded. It’s a natural reaction. If it weren’t, Solomon would have had no need to mention it. Yet he said in verse 11, don’t be upset when correctedThe key to being open to correction is whether or not the one disciplining you is purposed to teach you, help and guide you, or is purposed to control, dominate, and “make you pay”. There is a big difference between these two approaches, and how the recipient will receive and respond.

No one likes being called on the carpet.  But when discipline comes from a position of love, even if it irks you initially, accept and appreciate that someone cares about you, wants to keep you safe, and “on track”.  So comply, humble yourself, and repentant (change direction) and recognize they have our best interest in mind.

I’ve mentioned in the above example, the response of the one being disciplined.  However, put yourself in the position of the one disciplining/punishing.  What is your goal?  To control by force and feel “big and strong”, or to have the recipient learn from the experience, and next time make the “wise choice” ?                                                                                                                                                                                     wisechoice                clipart-two-thumbs-up-happy-smiley-emoticon-256x256-eec6

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“Coffee Anyone?”, asks God

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous…              Psalm 139:13-14

As I read my Bible this morning, I came across a verse in the Book of Luke that caused me to pause. When this happens, it reminds me of a record player when the needle gets stuck in a groove and keep repeating the same words or melody over and over and over.

record player 2

It’s at this point that I have a choice to make.  Ignore the prompting to reread, and move on, or stop to reread and ponder.

question

When it comes to Bible reading “they” say, “you have to cover “X” amount of chapters, verses, etc., and stick to your Bible reading plan.  If you don’t, you’ll never finish reading the Gospels, or the Psalms, or the Old Testament, etc.  And you’ll certainly never finish reading the entire Bible.”           It’s at this point that I ask myself, who’s “they” anyway??

I approach reading the Bible a bit differently.  To me reading the Bible is similar to talking with someone on the phone, texting, or meeting for coffee.  It’s all about the relationship.  It’s not a one-way conversation, it’s the sharing back and forth of feelings, facts, experiences, hopes, etc., between two people.  How silly it would be if I met someone for coffee and whipped out my “thoughts” list, and started rattling it off?  And then, when I was finished reading my list, I’d get up and walk out the door?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          list           friends coffee            walking-clipart-e1380249111426

When you see the above scenario in writing, it seems ludicrous.  Who would ever ask to meet a friend for coffee and read off a list?  Not to mention walking out without saying goodbye, or thanks for listening.  Yet, how often have we, myself included, interacted this way with God?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat with a friend, started on one topic, and ended up touching of several others before the first cup of coffee was finished.  Or when a comment said in passing, turned out to be discussed in-depth.  When I meet up with friends I don’t have a checklist.  I’m getting together with them to catch up, and share what’s been going on in our lives.  If we just talk about what happened today, and never get to last week or next week, who cares.  This is what we needed, or wanted, to talk about now.

For me, this is the kind of relationship I have with God.  So when I’m reading the Bible and get the feeling I should pause and reread.  I pause and reread because I know that God has something to share with me.  I ask Him, “what are you trying to show me?  What do you want me to learn, to take with me today, to share with others, to change?”   I also thank God for encouraging me in a particular area, where I am on the “wise path”, and  thanking Him for all the blessings and provisions He gives me day in and day out.  I read with anticipation, eagerness, and appreciation that the Creator of everything wants to talk with me.  That He cares about me, and He loves our time together.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  Sometimes God gives us a warning, sometimes encouragement, and other times redirection to get us back on track.

As Hebrews 4:12 says, The word of God is living and active…  God wants to talk to us.  He wants to help us with our daily struggles.  He wants to bring us back to the safety of the “wise path”.

I once heard a pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa say, “it’s not how often or how much of the Bible you read, but that you live out what you’ve read.  Don’t just read the Bible to finish it, read the Bible to change.”                                                                                                                             

                             Matthew 5:13-16      light_salt

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