Thinking

The spiritual battle we’re in starts with the mind. It’s command central. We are the air traffic controllers of our minds. Just as an air traffic controller decides what plane flies where at what altitude, we decide what thoughts will come into our minds.

The way we’re thinking will determine the way we’ll be living. We have to start with the thoughts that come into our minds and be very careful about what we let in.

In other words, we can’t stop whatever random, evil, or strange thoughts that come knocking on the door of our imaginations, but we don’t have to invite them in for lunch.

When those thoughts of fear or worry come to you at three o’clock in the morning, run them through the grid of Philippians 4:8. Say, “This is not from God. This isn’t true, and it isn’t helpful. I reject this thought, and I’m replacing it with another thought from Scripture.”

That is how you win the battle of the mind.

No Hope

“The same happens to all who forget God. The hopes of the godless evaporate. Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web.”

Have you ever leaned on a spider’s web? That is what it’s like to lean on this world. If you put your hope in the world, then your hope is misplaced. It won’t help you. It won’t solve your problems.

I believe there are three basic reasons people find themselves depressed: (1) they are depressed about their past, (2) they are depressed about their future, or (3) they are depressed about their present.

The good news is that Romans 8 gives us promises about our past, present, and future. Romans 8:1, for example, tells us there is no condemnation for our past. If you’re a Christian, then you’re a child of God. You’ve asked God to forgive you of your sin, He has forgiven you, and there’s no condemnation for you.

And Romans 8:38 tells us that as Christians, there is no separation from God in the future. So we don’t have to be afraid of our future. Then Romans 8:28 assures us that whatever we’re going through as children of God ultimately will work together for good.

Maybe you find yourself feeling anxious about your future. Or maybe you have a whopper of a problem that you’re dealing with at the moment. Then again, maybe you’ve done something that you wish you hadn’t done, and the ramifications are still part of your life today.

There’s still hope. Hope has a name, and it’s Jesus.

What is Evil

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing.  It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin, and that includes evil. We all miss God’s mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so.  These things are not true of the evil heart.

Here are a few indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart. If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information.

Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words. But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Evil hearts crave demand and control, and their highest authority is their own self-reverence.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. 

Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card. They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

 Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil they delight in it all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. 

Do you know someone like this?

They want you to believe that:

Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply. The Bible warns us saying, when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe.

 That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it. The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God (Luke 3:8). If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Can an evil person really change?

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop having around with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

 Daniel says, the wicked will continue to be wicked.  (Daniel 12:10) 

Which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

The real you

It is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. - ROMANS 10:10 - Verse Image

What do you want people to know about you?

It can be so tempting to curate our online presence to impress others: nice meals we’re enjoying, exotic places we’re visiting, popular people we’re spending time with. Those things are fine to share. But Jesus didn’t say He would use our accomplishments to draw people to Himself. He said that it would be our love.

This year, start making it a habit to regularly share His transforming love.

Start Small…

Texting a Bible verse or a Verse Image to a friend is easy. Need a daily reminder? Subscribe to Verse of the Day. You can even share content from devotionals: every Bible Plan has a Share button in the corner (  ).

…Then Build Your Habit.

Once you’ve shared a few times, set a goal to share at least one Bible verse or Bible Plan every day for a week. It won’t be long before your friends start telling you how much they appreciate your encouragement

Procrastinating


Ecclesiastes 3:1–11; Ephesians 5:15–17

God is engaged in our time. Maybe you thought time was all yours and God had nothing to do with it. Actually, He has everything to do with it. Your birth was because of His grace, and your living is covered by His providential care. Your day of death is planned already. Our time is in His hands!

You’ve heard the saying, “Time is money!” Well, what if that were true, literally? Imagine each second equals one penny. And imagine waking every morning to a fresh deposit in your bank account of the number of pennies equal to the seconds in one day—86,400. These daily deposits would grow in a year to $315,360! If seconds were pennies, then we’d all be rich!

Time may not be money, really, but it is valuable because it forms the building blocks of living. Each day, we exchange time for activities. Individuals who make the greatest impact for good in our world invest their “pennies” over a lifetime in worthwhile endeavors. Read any biography of a notable person, and you’ll see copious examples of time well spent.

God not only gives us time as a precious gift, but He also gives us the power to use it. We can spend our seconds any way we wish . . . but here’s the catch: we can only spend them once. Each second we live is a second we spend; and once spent, wisely or unwisely, that moment can never be retrieved.

So, the real question isn’t what is our time worth? But what is worth our time?
In this study, we’ll look at two key Bible passages on how we spend our time. We’ll examine God’s perspec- tive on what truly matters in life, and we’ll hear Him urge us to make the most of our time. Once we know His priorities for us, we must stop procrastinating and start following through by investing our time wisely!

Listen

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ.

Babies are so cute, and I think newborns are really amazing. But you have to feed them and care for them. You need to watch them carefully and change their diapers. And when they get a little older and start toddling around, you need to keep an eye on them so they won’t get into trouble.

When they can finally start eating solid food, you have to cut it up for them. Then you make airplane noises with it to entertain them and convince them to take a bite.

You have to care for children, watch over them, and keep your eye on them. And that’s okay, because they need you to help them grow up.

In the same way, when we first come to Christ, we need lots of care. We need the milk of God’s Word. We need everything we hear from the Bible to be cut up into small bites in a way we can digest. We need people to explain things to us and watch over us.

But if you’ve known the Lord for a long period of time and haven’t matured, if you haven’t developed basic disciplines as a Christian and need everything spoon-fed to you, then we have a problem.

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth about this. He said, “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1

When I was in school, I goofed off a lot. And on more than one occasion, I heard a teacher say, Van Marter, will you just grow up?” I think some of us need to hear that today. It’s time to grow up.

Matthew 7:13-14

Enter through the narrow gate. For the the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 🤔 Lord have mercy! Wow 😳 only a few people find the narrow or the difficult road?

He Who Criticize

“But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Some people are quick to criticize. They love to take shots at everyone. Whatever is going on, they have something critical to say.

This can be an indication of a self-righteous person, the kind of person the apostle Paul spoke of in Romans 2: “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things” (verse 1 NLT).

Self-righteous people are blind to their own condition. They see it everywhere except in their own lives. And they don’t understand how bad their sin really is.

Have you ever noticed that an outfit on a mannequin never looks quite as good on you? In the same way, our sin always looks worse on someone else. The reason we recognize it so quickly is because it’s our sin. We’re very familiar with it.

We’re so quick to call other people out, but we don’t realize how bad our sin actually is.

Self-righteous people think that God is somehow okay with their sin. They probably would never say that openly, but they think it, because they keep doing it. They don’t expect to ever have to pay for it.

Yet Paul said, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4).

God is not okay with our sin. If nothing has happened yet, it’s because He loves us and is telling us to repent. If we don’t repent, then it will catch up with us at some point. We can be sure that our sin will find us out.


Here’s a Thought

Here’s a thought.

The gospel is the great nonnegotiable of Christian truth. We aren’t allowed to add to, subtract from, embellish, or rejigger the sacred message of how sinful men can be reconciled to a holy God.

That’s why the apostle Paul reserved his sternest warning for anyone who would dare to mess with the message: “If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).

If you present a different god than the God of Scripture, you are effectively calling people to idolatry. If you preach another Christ you do not have the Lord; you have a liar or a lunatic. If salvation by grace through faith alone is corrupted with even the smallest amount of works-righteousness, “Christ will be of no benefit to you” (Galatians 5:2). If we don’t repent from our former sinful ways, we will perish (Luke 13:3,5).

There’s nothing more important for a Christian to be right about than how we can be right with God.

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