Transformed by the Word

Galatians 1:11-17

11 Christian brothers, I want you to know the Good News I preached to you was not made by man. 12 I did not receive it from man. No one taught it to me. I received it from Jesus Christ as He showed it to me.

13 You have heard of my old life when I followed the Jewish religion. I made it as hard as I could for the Christians and did everything I could to destroy the Christian church. 14 I had learned more about the Jewish religion than many of the Jews my age. I had a much stronger desire than they to follow the ways of our early fathers. 15 But God chose me before I was born. By His grace He called me to work for Him. 16 His Son was to be seen in me. He did this so I could preach about Christ to the people who are not Jews. When this happened, I did not talk to men. 17 I did not even go to Jerusalem to talk to those who were missionaries before me. Instead, I went to the country of Arabia. Later I returned to the city of Damascus.

After Paul’s conversion, he disappeared for three years, during which the Holy Spirit instructed him in the ways of God. This was a critical time for his growth as a believer.

The Lord speaks so we can comprehend and communicate the truth. What happened during Paul’s desert years was only the beginning. God renewed the apostle’s mind and worked on conforming him to the image of Christ. For Paul, that change meant applying his knowledge as a Pharisee to the revelation that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

Here was a man who knew Scripture thoroughly, but the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah made him reconsider the foundation he’d been trusting. Everything Paul knew about God had to be reevaluated in light of this new information. The apostle’s spirit was being shaped according to the Father’s will. And long after Paul began his ministry, the Lord kept working on him. Every person who reads his letters is a witness to this process.

Like Paul, you are the Holy Spirit’s student, and the knowledge you reap from Scripture can change your life. If you let yourself be transformed by the Word of God, you will share it with others and make disciples.

Quotes and Notes We Need to Read 20 Times a Day Until They Sink In

20 Quotes We Need to Read 20 Times a Day

Happiness doesn’t start with a relationship, a vacation, a job… or an election. It starts with your thinking and what you tell yourself today. Remind yourself of this truth. And remind yourself that the absolute best lessons we learn in life are the lessons we learn over and over again. The human mind needs lots of proactive reminders—lots of practice—to operate effectively through thick and thin. For example, deep down we know it’s OK to…

  • Say “no”
  • Speak up
  • Tell the truth
  • Believe differently
  • Change our mind
  • Prioritize our needs
  • Learn from our mistakes
  • Embrace our imperfections
  • Forgive and seek forgiveness
  • Begin again, stronger than before

Yet, we often seek the exact opposite when life gets stressful and we’re under pressure.

We do the wrong things even when we know better.

Because the human mind has weaknesses. It becomes forgetful and insensible when it’s stressed. And the only way to conquer these weaknesses is to practice conquering them.

Word of the Week: Godliness


One Sunday on their way home from worship services, little Suzie turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”

“Oh, why is that?” the mother asked.

“Well,” replied Suzie, “He said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”

“Yes, Suzie, that’s right.”

“But he also said that God lives in us. Is that true, Mommy?”

“Yes, dear, that’s true,” replied her mother.

“Well,” said little Suzie, “if God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”

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We Drift…

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” ~ D.A. Carson

A Passage To Ponder: 1 Corinthians 5

I recently read that singer, songwriter Willie Nelson once owned a golf course. He said the great thing about owning a golf course is that he could decide what was par for each hole.

“See that hole over there,” he pointed.

“It’s a par 47. Yesterday I birded it.”

When it comes to religion and matters of morality, we can’t decide what is par for the course. God has already legislated what is good and bad. Right and wrong. Moral and immoral. And He has instructed us on matters relating to His church.

When we fail to measure up to God’s standard, the Bible calls it “sin.”


3 Lessons from a Vineyard Farmer about Your Growth

In John 15 when Jesus told His disciples that He is the true vine and they were the branches, He assured them that those who abide in Him would produce fruit because of their connection to Him. Judas, His betrayer, had already departed and thus proved to not really belong to Jesus – to be a branch that was removed. And Jesus promised that those who remained would be pruned.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. [John 15:1-2]

I don’t always like this verse because I don’t particularly like to be pruned. Admittedly, I am often comfortable with my current level of fruit and there have been times where the pruning has felt like too much.

I asked a farmer I know about this passage. He owns a large vineyard and sells to forty different wine companies. I better understand the illustration now. Here are three lessons from a vineyard farmer about how God grows us spiritually:

1. Pruning is necessary for this season AND next season.

The farmer told me that pruning causes the branches to bear fruit in the current season and the following season. Future fruit is the result of today’s pruning.

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A Call To An Intellectual Faith

Podcast – “Qualities of a Godly Teacher” (Acts 20:17-38)

8 Things God’s Discipline Does

~ Lawless

None of us likes being at the receiving end of God’s discipline . . . especially when we’re in the midst of it. Every believer I know, though, has been through it. If you haven’t yet been, my guess is that you will be at some point. With that in mind, here are eight things God’s discipline does:

  1. It helps us to see the destructive nature of sin. God wouldn’t discipline us for our sin unless He wants us to stop it – and He wants us to stop it because it hurts us and harms our witness.
  1. It magnifies God’s love for us. In His own words, He “disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives” (Heb. 12:6). His discipline is a mark of His love.
  1. It protects us from future consequences of sin. That is the case, of course, only if we respond properly to His discipline by turning from our sin. Continual rebellion in the face of His discipline is dangerous.
  1. It provides evidence that we are God’s children. Again, here’s what His Word concludes: “If you are without discipline ​— ​which all receive ​— ​then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb. 12:8). We’re not to sin in order to be disciplined, of course, but nor should we despise discipline.
  1. It prepares us for the future. The battles change, but seldom does following God get easier along the way. God’s hand of discipline that calls us to repentance today can strengthen us for the temptations of tomorrow.
  1. It humbles us. Discipline forces us to admit that we’re not in charge. We don’t set the rules, and we don’t determine the repercussions of our wrong actions. Arrogance and disobedience are connected, so discipline and humility are often in order.
  1. It makes us holy. Once again, I turn to Hebrews 12 for the point: “He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). The temporary pain of discipline helps conform us to the image of Christ.
  1. It gives us peace. That conclusion may seem strange, but that’s exactly what happens. God disciplines us, we turn to Him in repentance, we experience the grace of His forgiveness, and we sleep better at night.

What else has God’s discipline taught you?

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How Do I Live An Intentional Life

I do not so much happen to my life as my life happens to me. By nature I’m a bit passive, wont to fear of trying anything in which there is a possibility of failure, prone to finding the easiest way out or through a situation, and likely to ignore problems instead of facing them. The good thing is I know this about myself and feel constantly armed with fresh candoitiveness. Mondays are my favorite, tomorrow mornings are too—”fresh, with no mistakes in it, yet.” I love Januarys and also Septembers. Any chance for a do-over, I say.

It is strange to me then that I get asked the question (often): “You seem to live your life so intentionally, how do I do that?” Oh dear, she said, I have no idea.

The truth is I am less intentional about my life than I am introspective about it. I think it is easy to confuse the one for the other. The former means coming at life well and the latter (for me) means to look behind at what happened well. These are two very different things. One is active, determined, and disciplined. The other is insightful, thoughtful, and optimistic. The former knows failure is imminent and plans for it, the latter muddles through the aftermath of failure for the lemons and makes lemonade. I make great lemonade, but, dear reader, do not confuse this with growing a great lemon tree. I am introspective, but intentional I am not.

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