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9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I can’t help but have a mixture of feelings as I read this passage. God’s love is so true, so faithful, so deep…  But my love is so faltering, and so conditional, so dependent on my fickle moods.

But one thing I can count on – if I immerse myself in His word and bathe myself in prayer, my feelings of relationship with Christ become like a full cup. And as I drink my fill, I find myself wanting more.

The problem is that even though I know this in my head, and it penetrates into my heart when I take the time; I all too often get too busy with stuff, and days pass with only spurts, bits and pieces of relationship.

This verse is Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Philippi. This should be a reminder for us – to pray for each other that we will continually seek, find, and grow in the love of Christ, that we will grow in knowledge of Christ, and that our insights will be deep. Then we will have Godly wisdom to guide us in all our lives and we will be able to joyfully serve Him and bring peace to our hearts and glory to His name.

Father God, lead us in your righteousness. Draw us unto you. Give us willing spirits to continually seek and love you with all our hearts. Help us to bear the fruit of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can give to us. In Jesus name we ask. Amen.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 19:20-21 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

This passage has my name written all over it, not that I have attained this, but because I need to hear it over and over again. How often I get what I consider a fantastic idea and act on it without seeking wise counsel or even taking time to pray. It’s as if I think this idea is so good it has to be from God himself!

Some of the lessons I seem to have to keep learning over and over are

  • to prayerfully seek His counsel in everything I undertake,
  • to take time to listen and not make hasty decisions,
  • to seek Christian counsel on the weightier decisions I must make, and
  • to seek God’s direction in prayer, not only about what I do at church, but on the everyday, at home and on-the-job decisions as well.

Father God, help me to slow down and to put the reins of my life into your hands. Let me not run ahead, but remind me to constantly seek your wisdom and direction in everything I do.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 3:13-16 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What prompts people to do good deeds? Politicians often do good deeds to gain recognition and votes. Businessmen make great donations to get tax write-offs. Some people want to be seen doing good deeds so they will make a good impression on others. Deeds done out of selfish ambition or envy are futile attempts to appease others, nor do they impress God. James calls these deeds evil practices.

There are others who are trying to balance the scales of their lives hoping to have more good deeds piled up on one side than bad deeds on the other as if they could earn their way into heaven this way. These are the most deceived of all.

James challenges us to rise above earthly wisdom and to seek the true wisdom that comes from God alone. The person who seeks godly wisdom will have a daily practice of doing good deeds, but this person will not be looking for man’s approval or applause. He will not be concerned about getting anything in return. He will not desire to have his name engraved on a plaque and hung on the wall for all to see the contributions he has made. He will simply look for ways to serve others sharing what he has with those in need.

Heavenly Father, search my heart and know me. Show me where I have my priorities upside-down. Enable me to serve you fully and completely. Give me the will to put others needs ahead of my self-indulgent spirit.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 1  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

The book of James was written not by the James in Jesus’ Twelve Disciples, but by James, the brother of Jesus. James was writing to the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations.” I interpret this to mean the Christian Jews (the twelve tribes) who had scattered among other nations because they were being persecuted for their Christian faith. That understanding makes this book especially valuable to Christians today who are suffering persecution. Unfortunately, most Christians (myself included) are woefully ignorant of the persecution that is being targeted at Christians today, especially in foreign countries. This persecution of Christians is also picking up momentum in the United States. The skeptical need only type the words “Christian persecution” into a Google search to locate a wealth of convincing information on the topic.

In the first chapter, James is writing to the persecuted Christians who have scattered to the surrounding nations, and he is encouraging them to persevere in their trials. He is also encouraging them to be “doers” of the Word and not just hearers only. We all need to take this instruction to heart.

Father God, stir in our hearts a greater compassion for the suffering Christians around the world. Let their perseverance motivate us to pray for them and to reach out to them as you lead us to do. Enable us to recognize the shallow areas of our own faith and to commit ourselves to seeking to know you better by studying your Word that our faith may be strengthened.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 6:17-23 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

When most people think of blessings, they think of the last time they received unexpected money, honor, man’s applause, being healed of a disease or injury, gifts, things going right making life easier for ourselves… the list could go on and on. But Jesus gave us a new twist on how we should view blessings in the spiritual realm.

The word had gotten out about Jesus’ power to heal the sick and the multitudes began to seek him out wherever he went. Jesus saw that the people were seeking him only for the physical healing he could give them. He then spoke to his disciples explaining the source of true spiritual blessings. His words suprised the people then, and still surprise us today. They are like a foreign language to those who are unable to see the wisdom contained in them. It is clear that Jesus expects his followers to rise above the “me first” way of thinking and to be willing to sacrifice our own needs and wants for the sake of others.

I plan to deal with each statement in the Beatitudes with separate posts.

Lord give us wisdom to understand everything you have to say to us. When your words seem difficult let us seek you out with hearts that are willing to listen. Help us to step outside earthly wisdom to seek the higher wisdom that you have to give to those who are willing to seek it.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 4:31-37 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

After leaving Nazareth, Jesus returned to the region of Galilee and went to the city of Capernium. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and taught the people who were amazed at the authority with which he spoke.

A man in the crowd was possessed by a demon who knew who Jesus was. The demon began mocking Jesus and identified him as the Holy One of  God. Jesus told the demon to be quiet, and then commanded him to go out of the man who had been possessed. The demon left throwing the man down, but did not injure the man.

The people were all the more amazed at Jesus, at his authority in his teaching, and at his power to command the spirits. And the people spread the word about him to the surrounding communities.

Jesus wasn’t just another teacher, he had demonstrated his authority in many ways to the people. It was in his teaching, in his miracles, and in his ability to cast out demons.

Today we have many spiritual teachers who use various techniques to get their messages across to their listeners. Some have earned our respect through their command of the Scriptures, and are able to bring many people to their knees under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Many great teachers also effectively use their spiritual gifts for healing and for casting out demons even today. Praise God for his faithful messengers who are able to use their God-given spiritual gifts to reach the lost for Jesus.

Unfortunately, we also have spiritual teachers who have resorted to less than honorable methods to reach the lost. They use manipulation to create an appearance of a “movement of the Spirit.” While there are many examples, a few of the more common ones include noise for the sake of noise, people falling back with a push on the forehead rather than an authentic experience of being “slain in the Spirit,” and tongues that can be self-generated instead of Spirit-generated. Often spiritual leaders who use deceitful methods can also be spotted by an over-indulgence of self-promotion as well.

I am aware that I will have probably offended many of my readers at this point. I am not saying that all instances of noisy worship, people being slain in the Spirit, or people speaking in tongues, are less than acts of God and his Holy Spirit. We serve an awesome God who manifests his glory and his love in more ways than we can count. He has used each of these and more to meet the needs of his people.

Heavenly Father, grant us discernment as we seek out genuine Christian teachers who will handle your Word faithfully as they help us to draw closer to you. Give us wisdom that we might recognize the wolves in sheep’s clothing who might deceive us into blindly following their leadership which may lead us farther away instead of closer to you. Help us to fix our eyes on you alone as revealed in your Son, Jesus the Christ.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 13:7-9  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Who led you to faith in Jesus? What was it about him or her that made you want to know more? Verse 7 encourages us to imitate the faith of those who led us to faith.

Verse 8 reminds us that Jesus doesn’t change. We need to remember that when we are presented with some of the off-the-wall theology that we get thrown at us from every direction today. We have people in high places (on popular TV programs, running for office as President, the list goes on) who are coming up with some very creative ways to validate themselves as Christians, but their claims don’t hold up to the teachings in the Bible. Jesus isn’t changing to fit the needs of people today, we are simply getting bombarded with today’s people trying to justify themselves and the changes they want to bring about in our country. The sad part is that so few people know what the Bible says that they will swallow any theology thrown at them, unable to discern fact from fiction.

Verse 9 aptly follows verse 8. Don’t be so gullible as to buy into the most popular theology of the day. Satan is out to deceive all who will listen. The day of the Antichrist can’t be too far away.

Don’t be deceived. Take Bible study seriously. Read it for yourself. Don’t take my word for it or anyone else’s until you are willing to dig in and start reading it for yourself and applying what it says to your own life.

Dear Jesus, please shake us and wake us from our sleep. Stir our hearts to want to know you more, to hunger and thirst for your Holy Word, as it truly contains the wisdom that we need for our day. You haven’t changed. Wisdom isn’t new, nor has it changed. People have simply allowed their own lusts and desires to lead themselves down reckless paths that will lead them and all who follow them into destruction. Forgive us Lord, and restore our nation to the glory it once knew when it declared itself to be “one nation under God.”

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Proverbs 3:5-12 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens. 

Proverbs 3:5-6
     This proverb is one of the best. It challenges us to put God’s directions above our own judgement. Yet how many times have we responded to a scripture with a “yes, but…” and failed to do what was clearly set forth in the passage. Sometimes we can legitimately affirm that a particular passage was intended for a specific time and place in history, but we must be careful not to dismiss eternal principles such as love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you. If we want God to make our paths straight, we must be pliable in our spirits, and apply the teachings from his Word to our lives.

Proverbs 3:7-8
     This passage is similar to the previous two verses in that we are to consider God’s wisdom above our own and shun evil. God offers us health and nourishment through following him.

Proverbs 3:9-10
     Is this the passage that causes us to begin to fade away or drop out? Do we give to God from our firstfruits, or do we wait to see what is left over before we decide how much to give to him through our tithes and offerings? Is this one of your “yes, but…” verses? What priorities are you placing ahead of God in your giving.

Proverbs 3:11-12
     When the going gets tough do you find yourself warming up to God, or do you begin to nurture feelings of resentment toward him as if he weren’t giving you a fair shake for all you have done for him? I try to remember to pray that God will not allow a particular time of troubles and hardships go to waste, but that he will help me to learn the lessons he is trying to teach me through them. 
     With a poor father the kid is actually in charge; the father simply reacts. His discipline comes only when the kid irritates him. A good father is intentional; he has a plan for what he wants his child to become. God is a good father. God is in charge.
     We need to develop an appreciation for our troubles as even these are a form of God’s blessing. God has a plan for growing us up to make us the best we can be. Embrace his plan knowing that he is putting his trust in us with the amount of troubles we are called upon to endure. 

Father God, how blessed we are to have your Word to guide us. Open our eyes and our hearts to see your guidance and enable us to follow your directives. Satisfy our hearts as we seek and follow your will.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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I feel bad to have stopped writing on His Whisperings, but doing so is making a big difference in my being able to handle all the other demands on my live over the next three months. I am still reading the Book of Daniel, and instead of reading only the chapters in the recommended reading from the Sunday school book, I am reading them all. It takes far more time to read and write than it does to only read.

But I would like to make a few general comments about the book of Daniel that have been on my heart for years.  My commentary is as much on the status of seminaries as it is on the book of Daniel.

Because my father was a pastor for many years of his life before leaving the ministry to become a science teacher, I became aware of his skeptical attitude towards taking the Bible literally. The book of Daniel was one that he would not believe. Apparently there are names in this book that pre-dated the times these people lived. He and his seminary teachers made the decision, based on this information, that the book of Daniel was written much later than the time in which Daniel was supposed to have lived. They may have some valid points worth looking at – for myself, I don’t have the time to search it out just now.

But I do have this to say. Who are we to tell God what he can and cannot do? Is God too small to give Daniel some names out of the future (if indeed that happened in the book of Daniel)? Are we so smart that we can decide for ourselves what God isn’t capable of doing? It is presumptuous to put it mildly for any human being, no matter how smart he/she is to decide that something didn’t happen because we have problems understanding it. If we are smart enough to understand everything about God including what he can and cannot do, then we would be equal with God. Now that is what I can’t swallow.

Of course we don’t understand it all. Neither does a child understand that he has to go to bed at a certain time, that he can have only so many cookies or pieces of candy before he must leave the rest for another day, and that sitting and working out math problems after school every day is important.

I have heard a story told of a father and son. From several feet away, the father was watching his son who was playing in his sandbox under a tree when the father suddenly turned serious and said, “Son,  come to me.” Now the boy knew he hadn’t done anything wrong, and he was thoroughly engrossed in building his sand castle. He could have stood there and demanded to know why he should stop playing just now. He could have asked his father to come to him and look at his castle too. Or he could walk away from his project to see what his father wanted. But the boy didn’t know what the father knew. His father was watching a poisonous snake on a branch directly over the child’s head.

We are like that boy. We have to decide whether to trust God to be who he says he is, or to decide for ourselves who we will let God be (as if our decision had any influence whatsoever on the reality of God.)

Unfortunately too many of our current seminaries are taking the scoffer’s approach to understanding the Bible. These misguided theologians are willing to discard the truth of anything bigger than they can understand. In their teachings, they deny God’s power and capability to guide a human being in the writing of scripture, and they deny God’s influence over a group of dedicated Christian men who determined which writings were to be identified as Holy Scriptures and which were not (the canons).

Thankfully, there are still a few good seminaries that are willing to accept all of God’s word as holy. These faithful ones are willing to acknowledge what they don’t understand without faulting the Bible and God for their own lack of understanding. They accept that it is possible not to know all the answers on this side of eternity.

As you read about the Bible from any source other than the Bible itself, ask God for his wisdom and discernment on what you should believe and what you should dismiss as yet one more scoffer’s opinion.

Daniel 1:18-21 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

The three years of grooming in Babylonian culture and training for service to King Nebuchadnezzar had finally come to an end. Daniel and his three friends had continued to remain faithful to God throughout this time, and they had chosen not to indulge in the rich foods the king had offered to them and the other young Israelite men the king had singled out for this special treatment.

 

Daniel and his three friends were superior in every way to the other young Israelite men. They had also exceeded the wisdom of all the king’s magicians and enchanters. So they were chosen to enter the king’s service.

 

When we serve God appropriately, we are prepared to serve others, even those who do not revere God. By serving God with our whole heart, we give him the opportunity to empower us to be salt and light to the world. Serving God demands that we serve others to our best ability without compromising our faith.

 

Our Father, help us to keep our focus on you as we try to live out our lives in the secular world that surrounds us. May our willingness to be different serve as a positive witness to those who are inclined to seek you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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