Improve your life with insight from the Bible - 2015
The inn keeper gave Jesus the only room he had left: the barn. If he had recognized who Jesus was, he might have done better. What room(s) are you giving Jesus?
Things that look impossible to us are not impossible to God.
Fear can keep you from doing things that would bring about the future you desire.
You have little control over what others say, so your character, not your reputation, should be your main focus.
Some people sleep through key moments, which often come with no clues about how significant they are.
You can receive God's Spirit. All you have to do is ask.
What will you do when things look desperate, before you are rescued? Will you complain? Give up? Whine? The people of Israel did, in the desert, just after being set free from slavery. Their lack of faith that God could help them didn't work out. By contrast, Paul and Silas praised God and prayed, providing a good model for us.
Some people will think it's not possible or not important to praise God when you are in danger, pain or dispair. But praising God when things aren't working out is transformative.
Knowing when to quit -- and when not to -- is important. For some things, the sooner you quit, the better off you'll be. For others, you'll be tempted to quit right before a breakthrough, like R. U. Darby and his uncle, who stopped three feet short of one of Colorado's biggest gold strikes.
God executes justice, gives food to the hungry and sets the prisoners free. But often God does it through us, even if we don't think we're up to the challenge. When opposition arises, don't let it stop you from doing the great things God has in mind for your life.
God's plans are in your best interest, even if they sometimes involve you going through places that are scary or painful. Accept God's plans for you to have a future with hope.
You can be in the center of God's will, doing great work for God's kingdom, and still be in deep pain and trouble. Paul experienced this. Maybe you will, too. If so, you can find, as Paul did, that following Jesus is worth the cost.
Don't give false testimony. That principle is one of the bedrock foundations of a fair and just society, but the principle is always followed. It's a command worth obeying.
Many good things are hidden and many bad things seem appealing. So it's important to discern carefully. The Bible encourages us to judge with impartiality and compassion: Jesus says how we judge others is how we ourselves will be judged, and the measure we use for others is the measure that will be used for us.
Jesus knows in advance when you will make a mistake or fail, and he loves you, prays for you, and plans for your next opportunity for service. When you fail, accept his love and start over.
Jesus was known for accepting people, even if he didn't condone their behavior, even if they were rejected by others. We can follow his lead.
God hides treasure in unlikely places -- places like a manger or a cross or your life at its worst.
You can cry out to God when you get in trouble, but it's better to ask God for help before you need it.
Don't miss five tips for college students (at 21:40) and the comments on what it's like to raise an extraordinarily talented child (at 24:50).
Paul writes in Philippians 4:4 that we should rejoice always. This doesn't mean there's no room for other emotions. But when we rejoice even when we are diappointed, amazing things happen.
The Bible says everyone will see Jesus as he is when he returns. You can wait until then, but it’s better to get to know him now.
Love is not dependent on the response of others. If people are behaving badly, you can still choose to love them.
Large scale gifts are awesome. But if you have only a little time, or a little knowledge, or a little skill and you give what you have, God notices and applauds, even if what you have to give seems small compared with what others can do.
Jesus said we should tithe and do other spiritual disciplines. But he said it was important that we didn't neglect the big things that matter: justice, mercy and faith.
If you want a simple guide for life, two rules will get you by. 1) Love God with everything you've got. 2) Love the people you see in need as you love yourself.
What people do on earth is visible in heaven, long after they have perished. The dead are still alive to God.
God can use what doesn't look like much in profound ways. Sometimes a stone that experienced builders reject becomes the cornerstone, the rock to which the whole building is aligned. That's how it was for Jesus.
In Mark 11:12-14, Jesus, who was hungry, tried to get figs from a tree when they weren't in season. When he couldn't find any figs, he cursed the tree, which died. This video examines possible explanations for this troubling story.
God is present everywhere. But sometimes God shows up with power in a particular location. Curiously, God's power is often hidden from people, and sometimes people resist the change God brings (or would like to).
We worship God, not because we feel inspired, but because God is worthy. One practice the Bible recommends is to recount God's deeds on a regular basis. This video continues last week's conversation and gives some help getting started recounting God's deeds to you.
Jesus is worthy of your worship. Some ways to worship that the Bible recommends include raising your hands, kneeling, lying prostrate, singing, and dancing. It is worth trying forms that are new to you, even if they seem awkward at first. How will you worship God this week?
If you aren't close to Jesus, it's worth following the example of Zacchaeus. Do anything you can, including things others think are foolish, to change that and see what you're missing. Jesus loves you, cares for you, and calls you by name!
Sometimes crowds keep people from Jesus. Sometimes even disciples try to keep people from Jesus. But Jesus associates with everyone, even people that others despise. And, ideally, the followers of Jesus will help everyone to see Jesus, regardless of their status.
One of the most important things a Christian can do is recognize God's voice. The first clue for separating God's voice from all the ideas that occur to you is that God loves you. The accuser does not.
This helpful video is worth watching several times. It talks about how to achieve something that others do not think is possible.
Sometimes people are in so much pain they don't trust what Jesus says. Some friends of Jesus had to choose between what they saw and felt and what Jesus told them was true instead.
Jesus told his followers he was going to Jerusalem to die, and that he would be raised three days later. They didn't like the plan. On the way, Jesus healed Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, because he cried out to him. When we have troubles, it is good to cry out to Jesus like the beggar did. And it's good to walk with Jesus everywhere he goes, even if in the moment we can't see how it's a good plan.
Two followers of Jesus heard he had been raised from the dead. They walked away from the scene. Fortunately Jesus helped turn them around. Don't follow their example and walk away from things you truly desire.
Jesus is often not recognized when he appears, because people have so many different expectations of what he will be like. That's why it is so important to pray for the nations to recognize Jesus.
Sometimes there are unexpected delays. You thought you would be married by now. Or more mature. Or more understanding. Jesus said we should be ready for unexpected delays -- that even God's kingdom would seem to come late, but when it arrived, many people still wouldn't be ready.
God expects you to make something of the resources you have been given.
It matters what you think about. Fix your mind on good things.
When you give what you have to Jesus, God makes up for what you lack. What you have is enough, even if it doesn't seem like it.
When you ask better questions, you get better answers. This is a skill worth developing!
Your identity is important, and it's helpful for you to see yourself as God sees you. You are God's beloved child. Pastor Joe Johnson is the guest preacher.
This video gives tips on how to live the amazing life Jesus wants you to live.
Sometimes we think we're not ready for change, but it's best to both enjoy and take advantage of the changes that come with the different seasons of our lives. This video gives tips on how to live the amazing life Jesus wants you to live.
You are God's child now, and you will become something even greater in the future.
Ideally, God's adopted kids (you and I) start to take on the attributes of God. We become more generous.