Cleanse Me from the Inside Out

by Beth Fore

grave, crypt

“Woe to you, teachers of
the law and Pharisees, you
hypocrites!  You are like
whitewashed tombs, which
look beautiful on the outside
but on the inside are full of
dead men’s bones and
everything unclean.  In the
same way, on the outside
you appear to people as
righteous but on the
inside you are full
of hypocrisy and
wickedness.”

(Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)

Cleanse Me from the Inside Out

Holy Father, we ask You to hear our heartfelt cry.
May Your Holy Spirit intercede for us with groans,
for we are hypocrites like the scribes and Pharisees.
We are unclean and filled with dead men’s bones.

We spend much of our time on our outward appearance,
yet within we are filled with hypocrisy and iniquity.
We neglect the important things such as love and mercy,
and we pride ourselves on our works that all may see.

Father, we look like beautiful whited sepulchers.
We appear polished and clean in the sight of all men.
But our hearts are filled with extortion and excess,
and we are filthy and ugly and unholy within.

We are Pharisees, filled with selfishness and pride,
and we seek power, riches, pleasure and fame.
Help us examine ourselves and see us as we really are,
so that we repent of our sins and call on Your Name.

We ask You to tear down all of our self-made walls.
Help us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek.
Help us look only to You for inward strength and power
and ask for Your wisdom as Your truths we seek.

Father, we need the power of Your Holy Spirit
to lead us into Your truth and to convict us of our sin.
We confess the name of Jesus and we cry out to Him,
“Precious Savior, cleanse our hearts and purify us within.”

written by Beth Fore

*Jesus rebukes “religious” rulers, teachers, and Christians who are mostly concerned about their outward appearance.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”  (Matthew 23:27 NIV)

Many people are very concerned about their outward appearance.  Millions of dollars are spent each year on cosmetic surgeries to make people look more attractive to others.  Many people spend money they don’t have on fancy cars, stylish clothes, and beautiful new houses.  Many people are also careful to project a certain image of themselves as powerful, self-made, religious, wealthy, educated, cultured, etc., so that other people will see them in a certain way. 

Jesus calls these people hypocrites, whitewashed tombs which are beautiful on the outside but ugly and filthy and unclean on the inside.  Jesus confronts all of us to see ourselves as we really are, not as we would like to appear to be.

*God is concerned with our hearts, not our outward appearance. 

“Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.”  (1 Kings 8:61 NASB 1995)

God seeks out people who have pure hearts.  Because of our humanity, we are often selfish and self-centered.  We may do good things for others, but our motives may be to receive praise and recognition from other people.  We need to ask the Holy Spirit to keep our hearts pure and humble before God.  We need to examine ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Jesus.  We do not have the strength, patience, and resolve to change many of our weaknesses without the help of God and his Holy Spirit.

God desires that we love Him and keep his commandments.  He also desires that we love other people and treat them as our neighbors.  It is only through the mercy and grace of God that we will ever be able to be pure in heart.  We must ask God to help us be more loving, obedient, benevolent, and gracious every day!

APPLICATIONS

  1. Write down some of the Christian attributes you value most.  Examine each one to see if you are growing in these attributes.  If not, think of some things you can do to begin growing in these areas.
  2. Spend time reflecting on one of your weaknesses that you would like to change.  Think of some things you can do to become stronger in this area, and pray that God will help you change.
  3. What are some things that you want other people to think about you that are only surface, not heartfelt?
  4. Intentionally begin doing kind deeds for others secretly so that you do not receive any praise or acclaim.

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

Renewal

By Beth Fore

“But when the kindness and love
of God our Savior appeared, he
saved us, not because of righteous
things we had done, but because
of his mercy.  He saved us through
the washing of rebirth and renewal by
the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out
on us generously through Jesus Christ
our Savior, so that, having been justified
by his grace, we might become heirs
having the hope of eternal life.”

(Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

Renewal

The pear trees are beginning to bloom,
adorned in colorful pinks and white.
Azaleas dressed in beautiful frocks,
majestically clothed in the morning’s light.

The blades of grass are raising their heads,
and trees are budding in shades of green.
Flowers are rising from their sleepy graves,
and the beauty of Your work can be seen.

Flocks of migrating birds fly in formation,
and I hear the mockingbirds sing.
The sky is clear blue and the air is crisp,
as renewal of the earth You bring.

Spring brings new birth and regeneration
to the wondrous things in Your creation.
Easter beckons and renews my soul
through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Lord, Your Holy Spirit renews me,
and through truth unveils my face.
You transform me into Your image
with Your increasing glory and grace.

Father, please renew my inner self,
and let me share in Nature’s beauty.
Sanctify me, make me pure and holy,
so that Your beauty will be seen in me.

written by Beth Fore

*God created the seasons, and we enjoy the renewal of many plants and the birth of many animals during the spring season.  Spring is a time of new life and of renewing life:  the beautiful colors, sounds, aromas, and new creations delight us.

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.  As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”  (Hosea 6:3 NIV)

God has created the different seasons for us.  What a blessing it is to see the spring flowers come to life, after many months of lying dormant in the earth!  What a blessing it is to watch a bird nesting on her eggs in spring, waiting for her new chicks to hatch!  There is a warming of the earth, and the temperature rises.  We can shed our coats and wear light, comfortable clothing.  Many people choose this season to get married — a new beginning of a new stage in life.  Spring signifies a new beginning, a new opportunity to get things right.

*Jesus saved his children through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit . . . “  (Titus3:4-6 NIV)

The only way that you and I can be saved is through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins.  Adam sinned.  Mankind was cursed because of it.  A perfect sacrifice had to be offered so that God could forgive man and make him righteous and new through thee washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

So, “…we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

(Romans 6:4 NIV). We become dead to our self when we are buried in baptism and we are raised from that death, just as Jesus was raised, and we are new people who are pure and righteous in the eyes of God.  The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts, and He changes us and renews us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  This renewal gives us new life, joy, peace, love, and hope!

Applications

  1. Discuss some of the things that begin new life in the season of spring.
  2. What kinds of feelings do you have when the last winter storm is over and spring is in the air?
  3. How did you feel when you decided to give your life to Christ and you were baptized into his name?
  4. We can renew ourselves each day with a more committed love to God.  What are some things we can do to accomplish this daily growth?
  5. How would you describe to a non-Christian what it means to you that God has forgiven your sins and He has placed his Holy Spirit in your spirit to guide you, to protect you, to comfort you, to help you discern truth, and all the other wonderful things He does to mature you as a Christian?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

I Bask in Your Glory, Lord

by Beth Fore

“Save us, O LORD our God,
and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks
to your holy name
and glory in your praise.”

(Psalm 106:47 NIV)

I Bask in Your Glory, Lord

I bask in Your glory, Lord,
as I behold Your majesty.
I’m in awe of Your creation
and the wondrous world I see.

I bask in Your glory, Lord,
and feel Your presence everywhere.
I search for You in the heavens,
and I know that You are there.

I bask in Your glory, Lord,
as I hear the mighty oceans roar.
I’m inspired by Your creatures
when I watch the eagles soar.

I bask in Your glory, Lord,
when I feel the sun’s light.
I’m amazed at Your power
when I see the stars at night!

I bask in Your glory, Lord,
when I hear the songbirds sing.
I’m delighted every moment
with the surprises that You bring.

I bask in Your glory, Lord,
I know I’m safe in Your care.
I feel Your holy presence
as I offer up this prayer!

written by Beth Fore

*The creatures who are created by the Creator, Almighty God, delight and find joy in thinking about and enjoying the beautiful, awesome, wonderful aspects of God.

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.”
(Psalm 111:2 NIV)

When we, the created, behold the awesome majesty of God’s creation, we are in awe and wonder at the One who created such spectacular, seemingly unimaginable sights for us to behold and enjoy.  We look at the vast, mighty ocean that goes on for miles and miles, seemingly into infinity; and we delight in its power, beauty, resourcefulness, and force.

We look at Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and so many more wonders in Nature, and we are humbled by their beauty, majesty and their Creator.  Each place is unique in its form and appearance, and the ability to even think of so many different, unique places causes us to marvel and bow down to the One who could, and did, create such wondrous places.

It is important for us to “be still” and take time to meditate on the wonderful, awesome traits of our God.  We see His glory, His beauty, His power, His fingerprints on every beautiful creation in the universe.  He is pleased, indeed delighted, when we take the time to think about all the good things He has created for us and when we take the time to give Him the praise and thank Him for all of these good gifts.

*The children of God rejoice and delight in being in the presence of Almighty God.

“Then I was constantly at his side.  I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.”  (Proverbs 8:30-31 NIV)

As children of God, we KNOW He is always near us, and we feel safe and protected, secure and provided for, when we are in His presence.  We are in awe of Him when we recognize that the same God who created the planets and stars, volcanoes and hurricanes, the songbirds and beautiful flowers, is also the God who created us and remains faithful and present with us while we live on earth.  What a beautiful, reassuring thought it is to know that our God is always present with us when we seek Him!

APPLICATIONS

  1. Take some time to reflect on some of the marvelous gifts in nature that God gives us to enjoy.  Write these down on paper, and take time to thank God for them in prayer.
  2. What are some of the intangible gifts God gives us to enjoy?  Reflect on these things, and spend some time writing down the delight and joy you find in one of these gifts.
  3. Think of some times in your life when you have felt very close to God, perhaps even touching Him in some way.  How did this closeness affect you?
  4. How does believing that God is always present with you affect the way you approach the challenges you face in life every day?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

by Beth Fore

“Then I saw a new heaven
and a new earth, for the first
heaven and the first earth had
passed away, and there was no
longer any sea.  I saw the Holy
City, the new Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully
dressed for her husband.  And
I heard a loud voice from the
throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling
of God is with men, and he will
live with them.  They will be his
people, and God himself will
be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from
their eyes. There will be no more
death or mourning or crying
or pain, for the old order of
things has passed away.'”

(Revelation 21:1-4 NIV)

A New Heaven and a New Earth

I long for a perfect home, Lord,
just like the Garden of Eden.
A place of beauty and splendor
with no sign of sorrow or sin.

I wonder how it would be, Lord,
if Adam and Eve had obeyed you.
We would talk and walk in the garden
and be refreshed by the morning dew.

There would be no ugly curse on us
to inflict pain, agony, and death.
Each day would be filled with delight
as we praised You with every breath.

Our bodies would never age, Lord,
and we would never grow old and decay.
We would forever rejoice in Your presence
and serve You joyfully each day.

Is this how the New Earth will be, Lord,
a restoration of Your original plan?
Will our resurrected bodies be renewed
and transformed into a perfect man?

I long for a perfect home, Lord,
when my resurrected body You will raise.
I desire to be in Your presence forever,
to glorify You and give You praise.

written by Beth Fore

*The time will come when the old heavens and earth will be destroyed, and God will create a new heaven and a new earth for us to enjoy.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”  (Revelation 21:1 NIV)

The Bible tells us that the heaven and earth we know will pass away.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth.  We don’t know exactly what this means, but we do know things will be different and much better. 

Some people think the new earth will greatly resemble the original Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned.  If this is true, just imagine how beautiful and pristine it will be.  All of the plants will be beautiful, and we will be able to walk in God’s gardens with Him in the evening.  Life will be peaceful and pleasant, and there will be no sadness or sorrow or sin!

There is much that we do not know about the specifics of the new heaven and earth; but we do know that the one we now live in will be destroyed, just as our physical bodies will be destroyed, and our spirits will live on forever with God in the new heaven and earth.

*God will live with us in the new heaven and earth, and there will be no sadness or sorrow, nor tears or disappointments.  Our lives with God will be wonderful beyond our imagination.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”  (Revelation 21:3 NIV)

The most wonderful blessing we have, as Christians, is the unfailing love, forgiveness, grace, and salvation God offers us through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.  We have the honor and privilege of being in his presence, and He reigns as the Sovereign Lord over everything.  Non-Christians will face the afterlife and God’s judgment.  Their punishment will be eternal; not only will they dwell in hell for eternity, they will also be separated from God eternally.   Perhaps, this is the greatest punishment of all.

Let us all look forward to the day when God creates the new heaven and earth and takes us home to heaven to live with Him forever!

APPLICATIONS

  1. Look up descriptions of the new heaven and earth in the Bible.  Write these down.  Then, write a poem or paragraph describing what you think heaven will be like.  Share this.
  2. Most women look forward to the day they will be beautiful brides, dressed in splendor, to come before their soon-to-be husbands.  The Bible describes the New Jerusalem as coming down from heaven, appearing as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  What do you think this means, and why do you think this metaphor is used?
  3. Think of some of life’s greatest sorrows and burdens you have overcome.  Write these down.  Then, go through them, one by one, and mark through them.  You might say something like, “In the new heaven and earth, I will no longer deal with this problem/sorrow; and, hopefully, I won’t be reminded of it any more.
  4. Where do you think you will spend eternity?  Are you happy with that?  If not, what can you do to change your destination?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

Death is Not the End

by Beth Fore

Death is Not the End

Death is not the end for Christians
because our spirits live eternally.
It is a metamorphosis and molting
as our body is shed and our spirit set free.

The eternal spirit that lives within us
is no longer bound by physical chains.
It is vibrant and ageless and timeless
and no longer suffers or endures pain.

Death is actually a new beginning,
much like a flower returning to seed.
God nurtures the seed and the spirit of man
and makes provision for his every need.

The Christian’s spirit goes to paradise
to enjoy the blessings God will bring.
The spirit of man will offer honor and praise
to Jesus Christ, our Master and King.

There will be no more sadness or sorrow,
only joy and peace for every one.
What a delight to be in His glorious presence
when a faithful life on this earth is done!

So, do not mourn for this mortal flesh
when the shadow of death draws near.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and He will remove every doubt and fear.

Soon your spirit will soar to the heavens,
and you will be with the One you adore.
Your body will return to the earth as dust,
but your spirit will live on forevermore.

written by Beth Fore

*The death of man’s body is not the death of man’s spirit.  The spirit of man is immortal and will live forever, either in heaven with God, or in hell without God, for eternity.

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:  ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’”  (1 Corinthians 15:54 NIV)

Many people fear death, especially non-Christians, because they believe that death is the end of life and there is nothing after death.  This lack of hope for something else, something better, comes from a belief that man is flesh and bone and he lives only as long as the body lives. 

The Christian knows that he is made in God’s image, and God is a spirit; therefore, man also has a spirit and that spirit will live on after the body dies.  Death is actually a new beginning for the Christian. The spirit of the Christian goes to paradise, and later to heaven, to enjoy the blessings of God.  There, man will offer honor and praise to Jesus Christ, our King.

In heaven, there will be no more tears or pain, only joy and peace for everyone.  We will worship and honor Almighty God around his throne with the angels and the other saints, and our spirits will live eternally with God in heaven forever.

“But I will show you whom you should fear:  Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him.”  (Luke 12:5 NIV)

The non-Christian also has a spirit, and that spirit will be thrown into hades, and later hell, after his body dies.  Unfortunately, many people do not believe in hell and they do not fear life after death because they do not believe there is life after death.  This scripture tells us there is life after the body is dead, so every person’s spirit will live for eternity, either in heaven with God, or in hell apart from God.  It is God’s desire that every created person will choose to believe in Him and choose to spend life with Him in heaven forevermore.

APPLICATIONS

  1. Do you believe that the spirit of man lives after the body of man dies?
  2. How does the belief, or disbelief, in the afterlife, affect the way a person views and lives this life in the flesh?
  3. How does the Bible describe heaven?  What do you think heaven will be like?
  4. How does the Bible describe hell?  What do you think hell will be like?
  5. How does the knowledge that your spirit will live on after your body dies, and you will spend eternity in either heaven or hell, affect the way you view Jesus Christ and your choice and responsibility to choose how you will live the rest of your life in your body?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

Remove This Heart of Stone

by Beth Fore

“Therefore say:  ‘This is what the
Sovereign LORD says:  I will gather
you from the nations and bring you
back from the countries where you
have been scattered, and I will give you
back the land of Israel again.’
They will return to it and remove all
its vile images and detestable idols. 
I will give them an undivided heart
and put a new spirit in them; I will
remove from them their heart of
stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Then they will follow my decrees
and be careful to keep my laws.
They will be my people, and I will
be their God.”

(Ezekiel 11:17-20 NIV)

Remove This Heart of Stone

In our humanity we frequently sin, Father,
for our bodies are made of flesh and bone.
Too often we are selfish and disconnected,
our hearts are hardened and made of stone.

Too often we look the other way, Father,
when we see the hurt, the desperate, the lonely.
More often we fail, not only from neglect,
but from the sins of indifference and apathy.

Our human hearts are made of stony ground,
divided between You and this world.
Satan rules over our rebellious hearts,
and his wrath on the earth is unfurled.

Father, we ask You to change our hearts,
make them tender and compassionate.
Break our hearts and fill them with tenderness
for the poor, the broken, and the disconsolate.

Help us to share all of the gifts You give us
with our neighbor and with our brother.
Help us to offer our lives as holy sacrifices
to honor You, Father, and one another.

Father, You are the Master of my soul,
and You are the Lord of my destiny.
Remind me each day of Your gifts,
not only for me, but for all humanity.

written by Beth Fore

*Just as God forgave Israel over and over again and desired that she return to Him and destroy all of her idols and images, so God desires that we return to Him and His church and give up our selfish pleasures, willingly, for Him.

“Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’”  (Ezekiel 11:17-18 NIV)

All human beings sin because of Adam’s sin.  Even after we become Christians, we continue to sin because of the curse of sin on us.  We are our best and our happiest when we walk with God and follow His will for our lives; however, we often wander off and chase after our own pleasures and desires.  God never stops desiring that His children will repent and return to Him and worship Him as the one and only Sovereign Lord.

*Just as God chose to forgive the Israelites and give them new undivided hearts and a new spirit to replace their hearts, so God chooses to forgive us and create within us a new, pure heart when we confess our sins, repent of them, and return to Him to be obedient to His will.

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.’” (Ezekiel 11:19-20 NIV)

Our human hearts are made of stony ground, and they are often preoccupied with this world and its carnal pleasures.  God will change our spiritual hearts when we truly desire these changes.  He will make us more tender and compassionate and concerned for the poor, the broken, and the disconsolate people in this world.

God has given us physical and spiritual gifts, and He wants us to share these gifts with other people to bring Him honor and glory.  He desires that we love Him so much that we will offer our lives as living sacrifices to Him and confess that He is Lord of heaven and earth and we will follow Him wherever He leads us.

APPLICATION

  1. Think of some times in your life when you have wandered away from God seeking your own pleasures.  What brought you back to God?
  2. Why do you think it is so difficult for many people to give up their sins and pleasures?
  3. It is a wonderful blessing to know that God removes our hearts of stone and gives a pure, clean heart.  We must constantly ask God to help us maintain this clean heart.  Pray a prayer asking God to keep your heart holy and pure.
  4. Write down your physical and spiritual gifts that you have either used for God’s glory, or you could use them for His glory and honor.  Ask God to place circumstances in your life so that you can use your gifts to honor Him.

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

The Holy Spirit Gives Me Life

by Beth Fore

For if you live according
to the sinful nature, you will die; but
if by the Spirit you put to death
the misdeeds of the body, you will
live, because those who are led by the
Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit
that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of sonship.
And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God’s children.  Now if we
are children, then we are heirs—
heirs of God and co-heirs
with Christ, if indeed we share
in his sufferings in order
that we may also share
in his glory.
(Romans 8:13-17 NIV)

The Holy Spirit Gives Me Life

Holy Spirit, You are the One
who convicts me of my sin.
You call to my remembrance
the truths Christ taught to men.

When I live according to my flesh,
my sinful man’s desires I unleash.
But when I live by Your Spirit,
my mind is filled with life and peace.

When my mind is governed by flesh,
I cannot please God with my hostility.
But when I abide in the Spirit’s realm,
I live in Christ who gives me liberty.

Holy Spirit, when You live in me,
through righteousness, You give me life.
But when the flesh reigns in me,
my sin causes me to live in strife.

Please testify with me, Holy Spirit,
that I’m God’s child and Christ’s co-heir;
and by sharing in Christ’s sufferings,
in His glory I will also share.

I have the hope of redemption,
and my spirit groans inwardly.
I hope for what I do not yet have,
and I wait for it patiently.

I know that I am one of God’s chosen,
and through Christ I am justified.
Nothing can separate me from His love
and He left You to be my guide.

written by Beth Fore

*People who live lives that are led by the Holy Spirit will live because they are sons of God.

“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:13-14 NIV)

Every person has the choice to live a sinful life in the flesh and die, or live a life led by God’s Holy Spirit that leads to everlasting life.  As a Christian, I know that when I am giving in to my desires and seeking to do whatever pleases me and gives me pleasure.  This life separates me from God and His will, and it will result in the death of my spirit within me and a physical death that separates me from God.

God’s Holy Spirit convicts me of sin and brings to my mind the truths of Jesus. The Spirit gives me freedom and liberty.  He testifies that I am a child and an heir of Jesus Christ, and I will one day reign with Him and live in glory.  The Spirit of God groans for me when I cannot express myself in words, and He gives me comfort and peace.  The Spirit, living in my heart, empowers me to live a godly, righteous life.

*The believers, who are both children and heirs of Christ, will share in His sufferings so that they will also share in his glory one day.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  (Romans 8:17 NIV)

Christians understand and deeply appreciate what Christ suffered and sacrificed on the cross for our sakes.  He was a perfect, holy, sinless deity; yet, He was willing to take all of the sins of mankind onto Himself so that all of us could be forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled with God the Father.  Christ expects us to love Him with all of our hearts and to be willing to suffer, and even die, to bring honor and glory to His holy name.  There is a cost to discipleship, and that cost includes suffering for Him, and we should be willing to suffer for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

APPLICATIONS

  1. What does it mean, to you, to have the Holy Spirit of God living in your heart and leading your life?
  2. Make a list of the things the Bible that tells us what the Holy Spirit does in our lives, as Christians.
  3. Do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you?  How does the Spirit of God communicate with you?
  4. We are children and heirs of Christ.  What does it mean to be a co-heir with Christ and know that we have an inheritance from God, our Father?
  5. Reflect on your life and see if you can recall any times that you suffered for Christ because you were living the Christian life.
  6. Too often, today, the Christian life is depicted as a life of blessings, wealth, and good things happening in our lives.  The Bible clearly states that the Christian’s life will also include suffering for Christ.  Why is this an important concept to include in our teaching other people the gospel?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

My Shepherd

by Beth Fore

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie
down in green pastures, he leads
me beside quiet waters, he restores
my soul. He guides me in paths of
righteousness for his name’s sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)

My Shepherd

Jesus, You are My Shepherd
who provides and cares for me.
You are my strength and comfort,
even as I walk in the dark valley.

You lead me in green pastures,
and You quietly restore my soul.
You take all of my broken pieces,
repair them, and make me whole.

You leave the rest of the flock
and look for me when I stray.
Your rod and staff redirect me
and lead me in the right way.

Your presence is always with me,
and You take away my fear.
You are there to protect me
when my enemies are near.

Your goodness, kindness, and love
will follow me every day,
and I know that You, My Shepherd,
will guide me on the right pathway.

written by Beth Fore

*The analogy of Jesus and his people compared to a shepherd and his sheep is a comforting one for Christians.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”  (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

The shepherd leads the sheep.  He leads them to green pastures where they can feed well and to streams where they can get plenty of water to drink.  He holds them and examines them to see that they have no sores or diseases.  He uses his rod to push them in the right direction, and he uses his staff to put it around their neck and pull them back to safety.

Jesus picks up the little children and loves them and protects them from danger.  He watches after the mother ewes to protect them after giving birth to their little ones.  Jesus is a loving, caring, benevolent shepherd who names his sheep and calls them by name.  He knows each one and shows each sheep special attention.

This poem is written by one of the sheep to the shepherd.  It is a prayer to Jesus from one of his children.  The child is grateful for the love, care, and provision the shepherd provides for him.  The child is mindful and thankful that Jesus accepts him just as he is, broken and fragile.  He repairs the children and makes them whole. 

Jesus goes looking for his lost children when they wander away.  He wants each one of them to return to the flock under his loving care.  Jesus is always near his children to protect them from harm and danger from their enemies. 

Jesus guides his children in the paths of righteousness.  He keeps them near and shows them how to follow the right paths and avoid the large rocks and cliffs where they might stumble and fall to their death.

Jesus is the perfect shepherd and He is our shepherd.  What a blessing and sense of security we have, as Christians, to KNOW that Jesus will never leave or forsake us and He will always be near us to guide and lead us on the right path.

APPLICATIONS

  1. As your shepherd, how does Jesus protect you from danger?
  2. What does the phrase, “I shall not be in want” mean to you?
  3. Have you ever experienced a time when you wandered away from the flock and you felt that Jesus came looking for you?  If so, share the experience with some one.
  4. How does it make you feel to know that Jesus is always with you?
  5. What happens to sheep who do not have a shepherd?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

The Alabaster Jar

by Beth Fore

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. 
“Why are you bothering her?
She has done a beautiful thing to me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and you can help them any time you want. 
But you will not always have me.  She did
what she could.  She poured perfume on
my body beforehand to prepare for
my burial. I tell you the truth,
wherever the gospel is preached
throughout the world, what she
has done will also be told,
in memory of her.”

(Mark 14:6-9 NIV)

The Alabaster Jar

A woman who lived a sinful life
went to the house of a Pharisee.
She was seeking to see Jesus
and came before Him in humility.

She stood behind Him weeping
and wet His feet with her tears.
She wiped them with her hair,
despite Simon and the disciples’ jeers.

She came with an alabaster jar
of very expensive perfume.
She poured perfume on Jesus’ head,
and sighs were heard in the room.

The disciples rebuked the woman
for foolishly spending this money,
but Jesus commended her and said,
“She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

The woman was preparing Jesus’ body
with perfume for burial upon His death,
and Jesus said she would be remembered
long after He would take His last breath.

The woman was willing to sacrifice
her money and give Jesus every thing,
so that she could serve her Master
and bring honor and praise to her King.

written by Beth Fore

*Jesus is very pleased when someone chooses to honor Him in a special way.

“Why are you bothering her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.  But you will not always have me.  She did what she could.”  (Mark 14:6-8 NIV)

A woman who had lived a very sinful life went to the house of a Pharisee to find Jesus.  She entered the house and came before Jesus in a humble manner.  She stood behind Him weeping, and she wet His feet with her tears.  She wiped them with her hair.  Then see poured very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head.

The apostles were surprised at such a display from this woman, and they criticized her for pouring a whole bottle of expensive perfume on Jesus’ head.  Some of them said that this money could have been sold and the money given to the poor. What the woman saw that the apostles didn’t see was that she recognized that Jesus was her Savior and she wanted to honor Him and do something very special for Him because He was worthy of all their honor and praise.

Giving money to the poor is definitely a wonderful thing to do, and Christians are taught to give to the poor; but, we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul, then love our neighbors.  Honoring God and praising Him and giving our ALL to Him is what pleases God most; so, this woman was very pleasing to Jesus.

*God is always pleased when His children use their gifts (spiritual and material) to serve and honor him.

“She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.  I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is peached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  (Mark 14:8-9 NIV)

The woman knew she wanted to honor Christ.  She may or may not have known that she was preparing Jesus for his burial.  She was following the will of God; whether she was guided by an angel or the Holy Spirit, she did what she was asked to do.  And now we read the gospel of Mark and we remember what this woman did, just as Christ said we would.

God has given each one of us at least one spiritual gift, and He has given us many physical gifts.  He wants us to use all of these gifts to bring Him honor and glory in everything we do. 

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

APPLICATIONS

  1. What are some other examples in the Bible where a person honored God in a special way?
  2. Why can we identify with the apostles when they criticized the woman for not using the money to help the poor?
  3. The woman was willing to sacrifice her pride and money to honor Christ.  Are you willing to do the same?
  4. What is/are your spiritual gift(s), and how are you using it/them to give honor and glory to God?
  5. Why is it important for every Christian to use his or her spiritual gifts?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

May Beauty Surround You

by Beth Fore

But let all who take
refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over
them, that those who love
your name may rejoice
in you.  For surely, LORD,
you bless the righteous;
you surround them with
your favor as with a shield.

(Psalm 5:11-12 NIV)

May Beauty Surround You

May beauty surround you,
and God’s fragrance fill the air.
May God’s creation delight you,
may you see Him everywhere.

May joy come to you each morning
as He awakens you from sleep.
May you feel His arms around you
and know His promises He will keep.

May each day be filled with awe
as God reveals His wonders to you.
May you feel delight and excitement
in every wondrous thing you do.

May you sense His love and presence
as Nature sings her sweet refrain.
May your whole being be refreshed
as you hear the morning rain.

May you walk in lovely places
where the Spirit leads you to go.
May you listen to the Savior’s voice
and know that He loves you so.

May beauty surround you,
and God’s fragrance fill the air.
May God’s creation delight you,
may you see Him everywhere.

                                                         written by Beth Fore

*The people who rejoice in the LORD will be surrounded by His love, beauty, and protection.

“The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!”  (Psalm 64:10 NIV)

People who love the LORD and follow Him are joyful people, and God blesses them with His unfailing love, beauty that is found all around them, and the protection and provision they need to live and enjoy life. 

This poem/prayer is a prayer to bless God’s children.  May they be surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation so that they can sense the delightful fragrances in the air, taste the delicious treats from Mother Earth, feel the warmth of the sunshine, behold the beauty of the heavenly skies, hear the songs of the mourning dove, and experience all the surprises nature has in store for them. 

There is much security for the Christian in knowing and being assured that God will protect and provide for us.  We can concentrate on God and his blessings, rather than worrying about all the bad scenarios that might happen in our lives.  We can enjoy the moment and share God’s blessings and truths with other people because we are experiencing them firsthand and we are witnesses for God.

*God blesses righteous people and surrounds them with His favor and blessings.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”  (Psalm 90:17 NIV)

When God is pleased with His children, He shows them favor.  He blesses them; He rewards them; He gives them good things.  Most of us understand what it means for a parent to show a child favor.  We have likely experienced it firsthand.  The parent shows more love, forgiveness, generosity, and delight in one child than he does in another.  God favors His children who love, obey, and honor Him.

The Spirit of God will lead the obedient child of God into all truth; He will reveal mysteries to him; He will empower him with boldness and strength to represent God and act as a witness to other people.  The gift of the Holy Spirit and of Christ living within us in our hearts is the most beautiful gift we can receive, in addition to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Let us rejoice and be forever grateful to our God for blessing us with these immeasurable, unsurpassable gifts!

APPLICATIONS

  1. Take five minutes and write down all of the blessings you have received from God during that time.  Then spend time in prayer thanking God for these blessings.
  2. The Bible tells us that it rains on both the just and unjust.  Christians will have problems and difficulties in their lives, just as non-Christians will.  However, God promises his favor and protection over his children.  Take some time and think of past experiences where you KNOW that God was protecting you and providing for you.  Share these experiences as a witness to other people.
  3. When we choose to follow God’s will, rather than our own will, things work out much better and we use our spiritual gifts to honor God and grow his kingdom.  How is God using you to honor Him and grow his kingdom?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.