However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ! I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Even now you are still not ready. You are still worldly [controlled by ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity]. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and discord among you, are you not unspiritual, and are you not walking like ordinary men [unchanged by faith]? -1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (AMP)
When I read verses in scripture such as those above, I cannot help but be convicted of the fact that we so often live as though we never knew Jesus. The people who judge the most, gossip the most and often resent the most can be professing Christians! How sad that fact is. For the record, I do not write this from the perspective of one who is “above all that.”
As time goes on in our walk with Christ, we should be growing and getting better; that is, closer to God (not farther away). For me, the key to growing spiritually is study of the Word and close, frequent fellowship with other believers. It has been a study of God’s word (the Bible) that has brought me to a closer relationship with Him through yielding to the Holy Spirit in my life and claiming the power I have already been given to live a victorious Christ-centered life.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. -Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
The church I fellowship with has been studying the book of Romans — in particular right now, the 12th chapter. The chapter of transformation. How does transformation take place in carnal-minded Christians? Through the renewing of the mind. And how does the renewing of the mind happen? There is much in life we have little or no control over; however, one thing we do have control over is our thought process. As Joyce Meyer once put it, you can decide what to play on the screen in your mind. The Holy Spirit can help direct your thinking — if you ask Him. I know it works, I have done this in my own life and I am seeing the difference. You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking -Ephesians 4:22-23 (CEV)
One definition for transformation offered by Merriam-Webster is ” complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc.” I have been giving some thought to this subject for the past couple of weeks, as our focus at church has been on Romans 12. Romans 12:2 deals with transformation that is brought about by the renewal of our minds.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Some time ago, Joyce Meyer wrote a best-selling book called Battlefield of the Mind. In this book she really drives home the importance of the mind, and specifically the thoughts which begin the process of our actions — good or bad. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of Joyce Meyer and her ministry, the book is a good read and an important reminder of the vigilance we must place on our thoughts.
To live as a carnal-minded Christian, saved but not growing, is bound to leave you unhappy. I know for me, for a long time, it was a case of always wanting the ‘next great thing’ or more of whatever I had at the time — thinking it would somehow fill that void inside of me. If you’re saved, you’ll go to heaven when you die — but you will leave behind an unfulfilled earthly life and a legacy of neglect for God and His previous Word. Why not leave a life filled with love, joy and peace and embark on an eternal one infinitely better?
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, -2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV)
We are fortunate here in the U.S.A. to live in a country that does not allow a lot of persecuton of Christians. While we may [from time to time] suffer ridicule or be made fun of for our faith (which much of the world sees as foolishness), we don’t suffer persecution in any way like many Christians do in other couintries. We don’t have to hide or take big risks such as trying to acquire a contraband Bible. Nobody knocks down our door to take us away for studying the Bible or worshiping. At least not yet.
But make no mistake, if you live for Christ, the enemy knows it and is not about to let you skate through this life unscathed by his attacks. So what do you do? How do you resist and protect yourself from harm? You rely on the Lord and look where He tells us to for weapons to defend against the devil’s attacks: The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. -2 Corinthians 10:4 (AMP).
Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately. -2 Timothy 2:15 (NET)
I have heard many times over that one of the best things a Christian can do on a daily basis (other than pray and worship) is to study the Bible. Not just read it or pick out some random verses by chance, but actually sit down and study it. So what do you need for an effective Bible study? Well, you need a plan and the tools to carry it out effectively. The plan is something you can work out with an elder from your church or pastor. The tools you can spend a lot of money for or none at all — your call. I frankly find the free resources available on the Web and in “App stores” such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store are suitable enough for me. I plan to highlight and discuss a couple of the more popular apps in this post today.
All three popular apps I am going to mention today can be found in either Google Play or the Apple App Store. It really is more a matter of what you need and personal preference than it is anything else.
The first is called YouVersion. It has been around for some time and offers a very large choice (at least in English) of Bible versions — many of which can be downloaded for offline use when your tablet or smart phone is not online. I’m not a big fan of the Web site but I do use the app on both my Android smartphone and also my iPad Mini on a daily basis. It offers a plethora of free daily devotionals that run in various lengths form a few days to a year. The YouVersion app also offers [I think] more downloadable Bible versions than any other I have used. The app and everything I have tried are free, but sending a donation to keep this vital ministry alive and well is always a good idea. I have to say this is probably my favorite.
Another great app for both Android and iOS is Blue Letter Bible (blb.org). While this app offers the fewest amount of Bible versions for download or even online use, it does offer some excellent commentary, dictionaries and other resources. A definite favorite (especially for me, since I’m a Chuck Smith fan). Tapping on a specific verse results in a pop-up menu with all kinds of resources to explore the verse and its context.
Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention Bible Gateway (biblegateway.com). While the service and apps are free, I pay a small fee each month for access to a great deal of really good research material (commentaries, Study Bibles, etc). For those who do not wish to carry a study Bible around with them or read it on a daily basis, having ready access to several of them might be a good thing!