God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).


Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Pursuit of Knowing God

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Our Bible study is a never-ending adventure with God. We need His Word in our souls more than our bodies need food.

Yet we do sometimes stray away from feeding on His abundant harvest. This can bring us into soulish malnutrition.

We may wonder why anger flames up so quickly.

Where did the fear come from that gnaws at our minds?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

6 Behaviors That Cause Pain to the Spirit of God

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

 When we give instructions to our children and they refuse to obey, we don’t throw them out of the family. But our hearts suffer because we see that when they rebel, they hurt themselves and sow seeds that will reap destructive consequences later.

How much more does our heavenly Father desire what is best for us? He doesn’t want the enemy of our souls to grasp us with his talons of evil works.

Paul’s instructions to the church in Ephesus told them not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 NIV)

All sin grieves the Holy Spirit. We will focus on 6 behaviors that can cause pain to the Spirit of God found in the book of Ephesians.

 1. Negative Speech

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

The Israelites complained about everything while they were in the wilderness.

The same heart-breaking attitude can be reflected in our words if we don’t keep a watch over our mouths.

2Uncontrolled Emotions

 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)

All these words sound like the same emotion, but they are different in subtle ways.

Bitterness is a root formed by unforgiveness that can produce other sins.

Wrath is indignation that can rise gradually and then subside. These are feelings that come and go due to thoughts and exposure to actions of others.

Anger rises when we abhor injustice. This feeling can be used righteously as in Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. But we must guard ourselves that we don’t use anger in a vengeful way when we feel that we have personally been wronged (Ephesians 4:26).

Clamor is a deep crying or wail in distress, like self-pity.

Malice is the destruction of a person’s character through slander or to blaspheme and give no respect to God.

We can all be guilty of these emotions at times, and we know how destructive they can be to our lives.

3. Lying

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25 NIV)

 It’s hard to admit that we, as Christians, sometimes tell a fib. We may think we don’t fall under this category, but we can find ourselves not telling the whole truth at times. And a little bit of falsehood is still a lie. False flattery is one way we lie to each other. We don’t want to offend our brothers and sisters, but we also shouldn’t say something we don’t mean.

What about gossip? Words disguised as prayer requests or stories spread as attempts at aid can still be classified as lying.

 We are members the same family (1 Corinthians 12:26). When one hurts, we all hurt so why would we want to damage each other with untruths?

 4. Falling for Deception

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:6)

Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing coming in with false words (Matthew 7:15). The Galatians swallowed the lie that they also needed to obey the Law of Moses along with belief in Christ to be saved (Galatians 5:4).

We can only stay on course by knowing the truth and not listening to anything that contradicts what the Bible says. We do this by grounding ourselves in the Word. (Romans 12:1-12).

 The result of listening to false doctrine can draw us away from Him and into sinful actions.

 5Stealing

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)

Robbery is not part of the lifestyle of Christians. We don’t hold up banks or stores and ride off into the sunset with the loot. But the size or value of an item is not what determines theft. Even if we didn’t intentionally take money or products, keeping incorrect change, or not returning an item a clerk mistakenly places in our bag is defrauding the store.

Cheating on taxes or falsifying business documents could also fall under the category of lying.

These are small indiscretions, and these behaviors may seem insignificant. But they do matter. God sees all, and He is saddened when we don’t reflect His character.

6.  Drunkenness

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

The debate about Christians drinking alcohol will probably continue until Jesus comes back. But the Scripture is clear about drunkenness. This is another problem Paul addressed in several places due to the background the new Christians converted from.

The same principle can apply to alcohol as to the eating of food outlined in Romans chapter 14. We are not to judge, but we are also told not to be a stumbling block to another person’s faith (Romans 14:13). We should consider how all activities and attitudes we engage in can be interpreted by others.

Live in the Fruit of the Spirit

We are forgiven for all these soul wanderings, but that doesn’t give us a free pass for committing any fleshly act. Living in the fruit of the Spirit will keep us sensitive to God's voice and will empower us against any temptations.

Rather than grieving the Spirit, we can praise and thank Him.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

Forgiveness doesn't give us a free pass for committing any fleshly act. Living in the fruit of the Spirit will keep us sensitive to God's voice and empower us against any temptations. (share on X)null

This post is an excerpt from an article that appeared on Crosswalk.com. 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

3 Ways to Overcome Guilt and Shame

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

 Ever since Adam and Eve took one bite of fruit humans have dealt with guilt and shame.

God warned Adam.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:15-16 NKJV)

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Remember the Goal by guest blogger Katherine Pasour

  


Today we are honored to hear from Katherine Pasour as she introduces her new book designed to help high school students transition to college life. Welcome Katherine!

by Katherine Pasour @katherinepasour

 

When I first went away to college (many years ago), I discovered the card game of bridge. A group of students hung out in the student center, playing bridge at every opportunity. Unfortunately for me, I played a little too often, sometimes missing class to do so.

 It was not a wise decision on my part. I made a D in math class.

 Then I had to face my parents with a bad grade. I was prepared academically for college, but not so much for the independence that came with being a college student. I’d learned a new card game, made a new group of friends, and depended on what I thought was my past skill to get me through math with a good grade.

 

I was distracted by my enjoyment of being with friends, playing cards and socializing, and I took my focus off my goal—to do well in college.

 

I learned a valuable lesson—not just about college but about life.

 

There are even more distractions now—cell phones, social media, gaming, and the plethora of activities available through technology.

Whatever task, opportunity, or job that we're engaged in--we need to give it our all. Do our best. Stay focused. Keep our eye on the goal and make the commitment to do what must be done to complete the goal.


 Giving our best is a habit that stays with us for a lifetime and will serve us well from the time we are a student, beginning our career, advancing in our chosen field, or settling into the golden years of service and retirement.

 Below is a short devotion from Stay the Course: A Devotional Handbook to Survive and Thrive in Your First Year of College (and Beyond). This handbook offers practical advice, motivation, and encouragement (and some tough love when needed) to support students in their transition from high school to college. Some of these strategies continue to work for us even as we transition into careers, grow a family, and go forth to format additional goals in life.

 

Remember the Goal

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

You’ve had goals all your life and this new journey (college) is no exception. One of your goals is to do your best in school. Otherwise you will be wasting your time and your parents’ (or someone’s money). The college/university experience should be enjoyable but fun isn’t first priority.

When you throw a ball or run a race, it’s important to keep your eye on the target—to know what the goal is—to have your focus on your plan for success. Goals are important at any stage of life—from childhood through retirement and beyond. Some examples for a college student:

  • Go to all classes each day (keep up with online classes)
  • Don’t procrastinate (Stay ahead on assignments)
  • Turn homework in on time
  • Get involved in campus life, but not to the extent that it interferes with academics
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Make good grades

These are just some examples—your list may vary. But, as the Apostle Paul writes, the unseen goals are of utmost importance. Graduation may seem far away for a freshman, but those four years pass very quickly. Stay focused on the distant goals, too.

Your most important task will be to maintain your relationship with your heavenly Father. Read your Bible. Join a faith based campus group. Does your college have campus worship services? Can you travel home to church or find one near campus? Develop friendships that share your faith.

Prayer: My most important goal is keeping my eyes on you, my Father. I pray for guidance in all decisions and that I may find friends in my faith.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts. What other advice would you give a beginning college student?


Katherine is giving away a copy of Stay the Course. I will conduct a drawing from the comments that are left for this post until Wednesday, June 5, at midnight. 


From Katherine: I hope you will join me in prayer for our graduates. It’s a tough world out there!

Purchase link for Stay the Course https://mybook.to/QQq3h

Dr. Katherine Pasour is a retired college professor, an author, and a speaker. During more than four decades of teaching, greater than half at the college level, Katherine has taught and mentored thousands of students.

Katherine has degrees in health and physical education and religion, and a PhD in education. She has taught health and physical education to children, wellness to young adults, general education courses, and research classes for honors students, and she’s prepared students to be teachers.

An outdoor girl at heart, Katherine enjoys her farm animals, gardening, and hiking. Although pulling weeds or spreading mulch in her flowers aren’t her favorite hobbies, she finds these outdoor tasks are great stress relievers, especially in the spring when the fruits of her labor display their glorious blossoms.





Top Image by Alexandr Boreck√Ĺ from Pixabay

Thursday, May 23, 2024

What Did Jesus Mean When He Told Us to Deny Ourselves?

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta 

Jesus told His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

Does this mean we are to carry a cross around? (Although there is a man who did this as a ministry years ago.)

I have heard some people express that certain pains or tragedies was their cross to bear. But Jesus wasn’t talking about life’s circumstances being a cross that was put upon us.

Jesus died on a cross in a selfless sacrifice to save sinners. He put aside His own needs and wants for the good of the whole world. Innocence killed because of the guilt of others.

His example is for us to deny ourselves for the good of others too.

Dying to self is taking up our cross and following Him. When we take up our cross, we identify with what Christ did. We humble ourselves to accept the cost that comes with being a disciple.

Denying ourselves doesn’t mean we don’t obtain some of the things we want. Psalm 37:4 tells us, Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

The key here is delighting in the Lord. When He is our delight, our desires will line up with His will and won’t be selfish.

Dying to self can’t be attained by behavior modification.  Denying self means crucifying the fleshly way of thinking. To put away selfish behavior, angry responses, unforgiveness, and bitterness.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)

Our soulish realm is where we fail because our minds get in the way.

Only when we realize how much God loves us will we be able to let the Spirit of God shine through. Our behavior will exhibit the Holy Spirit’s fruit to other people (1 John 4:19).

Spiritual characteristics flow through the soul to create action. If our soul is contaminated with doubt and hurt, God’s spirit doesn’t shine. He is still there but His fruit is hidden.

When I was a child, my grandparents lived in a house out in the country that had a well. A bucket was tied to a rope on a post at the top and if you wanted water, you had to lower the bucket, scoop the water, then haul the bucket back to the surface.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

The same is true with our inner being. We lower the bucket by digging into the Word and scooping that living water into our minds to drink so we can exhibit the gift that has already been given to us. The water in my grandparent’s well was always there, but if we wanted some, a person had to lower the bucket and get it.

There are many times I have let the flesh fly and the fruit remained in the bowl of my spirit (just ask my husband). But I am learning and as I study and pray, I am reminded more often of how the response that wants to come out is not one that would be godly actions.

Dying to self is not a one-time event. This action develops through daily fellowship with our Father. Abiding in the vine of Christ. This is where the strength comes from to control the emotional responses our flesh wants to express.

And of course, Jesus is the ultimate example. His entire ministry focused on fulfilling God’s will and ministering to people at the expense of His own comfort and safety. When dying on the cross, He still thought of others.

He asked God to forgive those who stood at the foot of the cross and mocked Him (Luke 23:34).  He thought of His mother and gave her care over to John (Luke 19:26-27).

Our actions and words will be dominated by whatever we focus on. When our priority is on God and not ourselves, His character will come out. This isn’t supposed to be something that takes effort because our efforts can’t make anything happen. He flows when we open the gate.

What did Jesus mean when He said to deny ourselves? Let the Holy Spirit have control.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Join the conversation and share your thoughts about what denying self means to you.

TWEETABLES

What did Jesus mean when He told us to deny ourselves?(click to tweet)

Only when we realize how much God loves us will we be able to let the Spirit of God shine through. Our behavior will exhibit the Holy Spirit’s fruit to other people (click to tweet)

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Thursday, May 9, 2024

5 Parenting Lessons From Biblical Mothers

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

 Mother’s Day is a time to honor and remember our mothers for their love and sacrifice throughout the years. As mothers ourselves, our children will be bringing gifts to honor us. When our offspring show us love their words are appreciated more we can express.

 But sometimes thoughts of all the mistakes we have made while raising our children attack us. This is when we need to rely on God’s Word and know He forgives us. He doesn’t want us looking back in regret. When we focus on training our children in the fear of the Lord, He blesses our efforts. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Betrayed Woman Finds Hope and Courage

 


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Intrigue, suspense, deception, rape, betrayal…and murder.

Does this sound like the scene from a crime documentary?

Would you believe a biblical cliffhanger?