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James – Wednedsday, March 4

October 22, 2018 10 comments

trial-faithJAMES 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Notice the word consider in this passage. It’s a word that means to count or esteem something; to suppose something. In our trials, we’re to consider, count, esteem, or suppose them to be pure joy.

The key to doing this is to know something. In our trials, we need to know (and remember) that these tests are accomplishing something in us. Because of our trials, we’re growing in patience (endurance, constancy, steadfastness). We become stable, dependable people who are not likely to change or waiver because of difficulty. It is much like tempered steel—the only way steel becomes hardened or flexible to that degree is to subject it to extreme heat and pounding.

The same is true of our lives of faith. This is what brings us joy … knowing this truth. Our trials are making us stronger.

There is a danger to this process, however. It’s possible to short-circuit the effect of our trials. We must let them run their due course, and remain under the fire as long as the Lord deems it necessary. We gain wisdom in these things by asking Him (see James 1:5)!

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. Someone once said that the Christian is either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or heading into a trial. To the degree that statement is true, where are you in that statement?

2. Do you believe in this process of God? Do you trust Him that He knows what He is doing in your life? Are you confident in His infinite wisdom and unending love, and that He is 100% motivated to produce His best in us? If not, tell Him right now. And ask Him to strengthen your faith and commitment to His ways.

3. How have you short-circuited a time of trial in your life? If you’re going through trials right now, make sure to let the Lord finish His lesson. Make this a matter of prayer as well. Assignment: tell a close and trusted friend about your current trial, and ask him/her to pray for you (men with men and women to women).

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Introduction to the Epistle of James

October 19, 2018 Leave a comment

gldi-james-coverHow to use this Devotional

Welcome to this devotional on the book of James! This guided study will help you to know the contents, structure, and themes that are part of this important New Testament letter. It is a significant letter due to the fact that it describes faith that works. Whereas Paul the apostle’s emphasis was often upon the grace that saves through faith, James emphasizes what faith actually looks like in the lives of those who have truly believed.

James has been called “Practical James,” because this epistle is so practical in nature. As such, it is the book of Proverbs in the New Testament. James draws heavily upon the ethic taught by the Lord Jesus—making the teachings of Christ plain and down to earth, right where we live.

The translation that is used for the text is taken from the New International Version (NIV). But it is also possible to use other translations like the New American Standard and the New King James Version.

This devotional is intended to give you a complete tour of the book within a 40-day framework, one devotional per day. At the end of every five days, you’ll find summary pages. Use these pages to reflect upon the week. Here are the steps on how to proceed with this study.

Be sure to look at the big picture of James before you get into the specific passages.
Take a moment and actually read through all five chapters in one sitting. This is how the letter was meant to be read! This will help you to frame the book and see the “forest” before you start examining the “trees.”

Take some time to look over the background of James, the arguments, the topics, and the outline of the book. This will help you become familiar with the basic shape of this great
epistle.

As you approach each lesson, begin by reading the portion of the passage that is listed above. Think about the passage and pay attention to some of the key ideas that are mentioned. Look for action verbs and notice repetition, contrasts, and comparisons. Read it again out loud to help you understand the passage. Then take some time to look at the interpretation notes which should aid you in understanding the passage.

Take time to go over the reflection questions and apply them to your own life. Please do this thoughtfully and carefully. Use the text as a mirror to your own heart as you think about the principles first and then how your life should reflect those principles.

Finally, pray over and meditate on the truth, and ask God to help you make it true in your own life. This will be crucial in order for you to internalize the devotional fully for that day!

Quiet Confidence as We Wait

October 19, 2017 3 comments

quiet confidence

This passage jumped out at me in this morning’s Bible reading/prayer time. I thought I’d share my thoughts with you…

For thus says the LORD God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. And you said, “’No, for we will flee on horses’—therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’—therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (Isaiah 30:15-16)

If I return (repent) when needed, and if I rest in the LORD, trusting His promises and waiting for Him to act—in His timing … then I shall be saved. I shall be delivered.

If I rely on ‘horses,’ or if I rely on my own devices, plans, or schemes … then I shall be overtaken and defeated by those very devices, plans, or schemes.

The LORD knows that I love to depend upon His promises, and believe what I believe about Him. But the waiting and quietness part gets me a lot of the time. I’m not good at it, not good at waiting and not always cooperative with Divine timing.

I know others that are good at waiting and trusting in God’s timing. I need to learn from and follow their example. Of course, the Lord Jesus was the absolute best in these matters … I marvel at His patience and strong sense of timing. He always waited for the Father.

Only by His life in me can I do the same. It is no use trying to copy Him. It cannot be done, at least not with my own strength. I need Jesus to live like Jesus! This is what I must trust Him for.

I imagine that things may be the same for at least some of you. Yes?

Suggestions on How to Read the Bible

December 29, 2016 Leave a comment

bfb160919-read-me

I started my journey with God’s Word way back in August of 1973. While I’d had some sort of conversion experience over three years earlier, I didn’t really grow. In fact, one would be very hard pressed to identify me as a true believer during that season of my life.

But the Lord patiently and lovingly pursued me, a reluctant young man who really wanted to be a true Christian. But there was no power in me to pull it off, and I knew it—in that condition I finally surrendered to Jesus. The result: I was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and things began changing in my life. Radically changing.

One evening my friend Stan and I were hanging out, and he said, “Hey, how about if we read the Bible?” “Sounds good to me,” I said. He suggested, “Let’s read Galatians!” I said “Fine. What’s a Galatian?” Obviously, I was virtually ignorant of the Bible … but that night I had a new start. It didn’t take long for me to develop the habit of daily Bible reading, a habit that really got me going in my growth as a Christian.

So I began reading the Bible all the way through, from cover to cover, year after year. It never gets old. Oh, I’ve been through plenty of dry times in my Bible reading, I think that’s somewhat normal. I had to learn to approach Bible reading in new ways, from different angles. Keep it fresh.

I remember one year in my pastorate in Monterey, CA. It had been my custom to encourage the fellowship to accept the challenge of reading through the entire Bible that year. A gentleman who was in the church (a very respected believer with a fruitful ministry) came up to me after that morning’s service and admitted that before that year, he’d never read through the entire Bible. But now he excitedly told me that he’d done it that very year, as a result of my challenge. I’ll never forget his words to me: “Bill, I cannot even begin to tell you the changes that God has worked in my life this past year, and I owe it all to the reading of God’s Word!” Those words were music to my ears, like Handel’s Messiah to my soul.

So here are some things I’ve learned about reading the Bible. Perhaps this may be helpful to some of you.

1.       I’ve learned that reading the Bible is a relational encounter with God.

Through the Bible, God speaks to us. Therefore, I read as a listener, as a learner, as God’s child. I desire connection with God as I read, and God desires the same connection (infinitely more I do).

2.       I’ve learned that the Bible reveals Jesus, and Jesus illuminates the Bible.

The message of Jesus is told throughout the Bible, Genesis – Revelation. And Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, shines His light on the Bible to my heart. I cannot truly get what God wants to give me through His Word without Jesus.

3.       I’ve discovered the blessing of reading the Bible out loud.

Reading the Bible out loud slows everything down for me. It helps me focus. When the words are in my head only, my mind can more easily wander. When they come out of my mouth, it’s easier to stay on track. I see the words (the eye gate), and I hear the words (the ear gate).

Not only that, but if I’m reading aloud, I’m closer to being in a conversational mode with the Lord. It’s easy to pause, and just talk to the Lord about what I’m reading. Confession happens, there can be a faith commitment to a promise He’s made, or I might pray for strength to obey something I’ve been commanded.

Frequently, I’ll address Jesus directly as I’m reading the gospels. Instead of reading “Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee,” I’ll read “Some time after this, You crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee.” It personalizes the narrative, and brings me into fellowship with Jesus.

4.       I’ve used a Bible reading plan to help me with discipline.

There are many great plans out there, but I’m the kind of guy that likes to order the same thing at a restaurant! So if it works for me, I typically stay with it.

Having said that, I prefer a plan that has me in the gospels every day, and that is designed for a 25 day per month reading schedule. I want to be in the gospels every day because it’s all about Jesus, and I want to know Him better. And the 25 day plans allow me some catch up days, as well as the ability to linger on a passage and not read as many chapters on that specific day.

The good folks at The Navigators (www.navigators.org) have great plans, which are the ones I’ve used. But like I said, there are many great plans out there, usually available for free by download.

I print out the plan I’ve chosen, and then fold it up and keep it in my Bible. Then when I’m done for the year, I either start all over with the same plan I used, or with a new one that looks like a winner.

bible-reading-plan

5.       I like to read the Bible from one translation every year.

I do this primarily for the purpose of Bible memorization and familiarity. I find that by reading in in the same version I study from I am committing more Bible to memory than I even realize. That’s how it works for me, anyway.

One other note on this suggestion: it’s usually a good idea to read the Bible with the same translation used in your church … especially if your church is a Bible teaching church that teaches through the books of the Bible. Again, this is very helpful for Bible memorization and familiarity.

So please let me encourage you to try it out! Accept the challenge, and read through the Bible this year! It’s not hard, really … if one averages 85 verses a day, he/she will have read through the entire Bible in one year.

Some will protest by saying they don’t read well enough. My response: I’ve met plenty of believers over the years that have actually greatly improved their reading skills by reading the Bible! Also, there are many audio Bibles available online or via smartphone apps. By reading along with the audio Bible, you’re reading God’s Word!

At the end of 2017 (or even during the year) please write me and let me know how it went. Your testimony will be powerful, and encouraging to others to read!

 

 

2016 in Pictorial Review

December 10, 2016 Leave a comment

2-Poimem Ministries-Logo Final

Here’s the link to what we’ve been up to this past year. It contains mostly pictures … let me know if you want to sign up to receive these updates. They go out every several months or so.

God bless you! And thanks for reading.

http://us5.campaign-archive2.com/?u=402ca9421c467de147acbbb6e&id=90ea894837&e=[UNIQID]

 

 

 

 

Changes

August 21, 2016 1 comment
“Moab has been at ease from his youth;
He has settled on his dregs,
And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
Nor has he gone into captivity.
Therefore his taste remained in him,
And his scent has not changed.” (
Jeremiah 48:11)

 

NOTE: In the midst of transitioning North Valley Calvary Chapel in Yuba City, I wrote the following article as part of an all-church newsletter. The purpose was to help prepare them for their next pastor, who was about to be chosen.

 


 

One blogger I read on the subject of change makes the following comment: “When we imagine accomplishing something it actually activates the same brain circuits as if we actually performed the task. As you create your change plan, include ways to help your team envision the positive benefits the change can bring.” (Charles Stone, “Brain Friendly Change”)

Then the author goes on to illustrate: “Let’s say you’re moving your office to another location. Plan ways to help your team see how such a move will benefit them.Help them envision how a day in the new office would help them be more productive. Help them imagine what it would be like with new desks, comfortable chairs, a nice break room, and windows.”So let’s take that concept and convert it into our current situation at NVCC. Obviously, change will happen … many changes, over time, no doubt will happen. But what sort of changes will they be? What will be the outcome of such changes? What would it look like to have the kind of church we all want it to be?

The following is certain to be different. There will be a new pastor. There will be some new additions to leadership. There will be different emphases. Facilities may take on a new look. Outreach methodologies may change. The list could go on and on, the specifics will have to wait.

But for changes to be meaningful and kingdom-oriented, they must be Spirit-led, they must consistent with Biblical truth and principles (Spirit-led), and they must be embraced. Embracing change means to accept it, to own it, to enter into it. In other words, for changes in a church to work, they must be formed by Biblical leadership and received by the people in the fellowship.

It’s a challenge, this thing called change. Someone once stated, “No one likes change but a baby.” But if  churches don’t go through changes, they become stagnant.

In the words of General Eric Shinseki, U.S. Army Chief of Staff (2003): “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

Changes … what do you think? Good, or bad?

Categories: Uncategorized

Personal Website Update!

April 30, 2016 1 comment

In the WordWell, I decided to update my personal website (http://billholdridge.com), after eight years with the old one.

I think it’s a great upgrade and turned out very well. At least, that’s my opinion. very good smiley

If you’d like, please take a look, and let me know what you think. Just leave a comment … I’ll appreciate it!

The purpose of the website is to provide materials that can strengthen and equip the body of Christ, by the way. Hope it does that!

Again, here’s the URL: http://billholdridge.com

Thanks!