In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Treasure is linked to the heart. What does our heart long for? Does it treasure the things of this world like money, fame, possessions, security, success, power and influence? Or is our heart longing for Jesus to be the greatest treasure in our life, both now and for eternity?
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It's that time of year when many of us are making resolutions, hoping to become a new and better person come January. But what does the Bible teach about the new self, and what are some tips for becoming a "new you," biblically speaking?
Longing to be noticed, affirmed and loved is something that many of us may relate to throughout our lives. Whether we desperately want attention from a parent, to be accepted by our peers or to be loved in our relationships with others, we seek to be known and seen for who we are.
The real longing of our heart can only be fully met and satisfied in knowing Jesus and resting in the truth that we are known by Him. He sees us and understands us and the circumstances in life that we find ourselves in more than we do.
Below are two stories of women in the Bible which illustrate this, followed by six comforting truths about knowing that God sees us today.
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“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’” - C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
It is wonderful to find a companion who shares something in common with us which then builds into a genuine friendship. However, there are times when making and sustaining lasting friendships does not come easy.
For adults, life can get busy with balancing various responsibilities at work, home, family life and other activities. Finding time to cultivate friendships can be challenging and there will always be those that we struggle to connect with. Forging true friendships takes time and commitment. Are we making it a priority? Are there things that we can do to start and continue a friendship?
God’s truth found in the Bible can help us in times when finding, making and maintaining friendships can be tough.
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The pages of the Bible are filled with people like us who were far from perfect, living in an imperfect world. We can read of wars, scandals, violence, murder, imprisonments, as well as miracles, wisdom, history, prophecy, resurrection and more.
Many stories show individuals who appeared weak or worthless in the eyes of the world, but they triumphed because they placed their hope and trust in God. More importantly, the whole Bible is God’s spoken Word to us which reveals who He is, who we are in relation to Him and His redemptive plan for the broken world in which we live. Yet so many of us are disengaged with the Bible, opting for other things to fill our time and lacking the motivation to read it. Some would go as far to say it’s boring.
According to the 2019 State of the Bible report from Barna, more than one-third of adults (35%) report never using the Bible. In contrast, half of monthly Bible users (49%) agree that their engagement with the Bible has made them more willing to engage with their faith, 61% express they always experience a greater awareness of their need for God and 50% desire to know God more. Bible engagement also positively affects their relationships with others and one in three give more of their time, energy and finances. Imagine what these statistics could look like if we engaged with the Bible on a regular basis, not just a handful of times a year or not at all.
For those who are struggling with seeing the Bible as a boring book, here are eight suggestions that may help to overcome that and increase engagement with it.
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Is holiness an impossible command to try and emulate in our life? Do we know what a holy life looks like? To be holy is crucial to living the Christian life, and without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). When there is loss of understanding of the holiness of God, it will result in unholiness within the church. We need to know who God really is and who we are in relation to Him.
It has been said that no one likes a bragger. Even if the boasts are sugar-coated in subtlety and sweetness, it can still leave a bitter taste in the mouth. It can seem like a tricky and delicate balance to let others know about our success without coming across as boastful. We seek an identity for ourselves and look to the things or people that give us confidence and validate us.
The need to be liked by others, the desire for affirmation and the longing to prove ourselves runs deep within us all. This flows out from our heart and influences what we say, what we think and how we act, for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
When we do or have something we are pleased about or think deserves recognition, we may be tempted to speak proudly about it. The Bible is clear that we should boast in the Lord if we are going to boast at all (2 Corinthians 10:17). How can we keep our heart in check to ensure that we are not seeking glory for ourselves?
We need to start from the cross of Christ. We are all inclined to glorify ourselves as that is the sin of the human heart. Yet, there is hope in Christ for us to live for Him and to glorify Him alone. Below are some suggestions for practical application on boasting for God’s glory, rather than in ourselves.
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Our world is filled with brokenness. Relationships breaking down, failing systems of government, violence and war, sickness and disease and so much more are indicators that things in this world are not the way they are supposed to be. There is a longing to make sense of our world and to make it right.
When everything looks like it could fail, is there anything or anyone that can give us that sense of security and make our broken world right? The answer can be found in God’s unfailing love.
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For some believers, it may be hard to be obedient when we are aware of our weaknesses or find it a challenge to obey God in a culture that finds Him irrelevant, non-existent or false. Is obedience to Him even possible when there is so much strife and disobedience in the world? And will we miss out on the best of life if we follow Jesus?
Turning on the news or flicking through social media, it’s easy to get absorbed in what is happening in the world right now. We get caught up in the most pressing issues of the day. Maybe we don’t need the news for that; perhaps it’s our individual lives that have us completely transfixed on the here and now with all of its competing demands. Our daily life keeps us moving from one thing to the next.
For followers of Christ, there is a view that we need that which reaches beyond the immediate concerns of today. That view is eternity. It comes with hope and warning – and we need to heed both. Let’s take off the lens of our present circumstances for a moment and look with a steadfast gaze towards eternity.
Here are seven reasons why we need to keep that eternal perspective in view:
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