Draw Near Through Christian Media

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James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Maybe you are seeking God’s will for your life and are unsure how to follow His path. If you want to hear God more clearly, I challenge you to sacrifice some of the time you spend on non-Christian media and choose Christian instead. Imagine how much your relationship with God would improve if you began listening to Christian music, watching Christian television, and reading Christian literature.

People claim certain Christian songs helped them to overcome temptation when struggling against addiction. The Bible tells us to “make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” in Psalm 95: 1. In fact, lots of non-Christians have come to Christ by listening to Christian music. Once you discover what a difference Christian music makes in your life, you will be ready to incorporate Christian television into your schedule. You will see how it is almost like Jesus is standing in your living room offering the solutions and guidance you have been praying for all these years. Another great way to draw near to God is through Christian literature. That term covers a variety of things including The Holy Bible, non-fiction books that teach us, fiction books written to touch our hearts, devotionals that guide our prayer and thought life, beautiful poetry books, uplifting magazines, and more! Remember this website offers lots of forever free ebooks (click here) including the latest: Spiritual Citizens (click here).

Once you are engaged in Christian media, you will be more prepared to share your own talent. Whether it is creative writing, art, photography, music, or something else, God wants you to use it for His kingdom. Don’t let fear or pride stand in the way. Gather up all of your patience, perseverance, and inspiration. I pray you will draw nearer to God when you take a step of faith and create like Him!

When a storm hits our life and shakes us, we wish God were near. Don’t wait for the storm. Draw near to the Lord now so you cannot be shaken when the heavy winds start blowing in your life.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

Contracts

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God is a god of promises. He makes a lot of them, and He keeps them all. While God does not want us to put rituals before Him, we can read in the Bible that rituals have a place in our relationship with Him. He is a God of covenants and contracts and of written promises.

It seems right that as children of God we would also enter into contracts and written promises with Him. What kind of contract would You enter? I am thinking our contracts (or written promises) might include promises to give up certain sins like misusing alcohol, sex, drugs, food, etc. It might include taking a step to becoming more Christlike like promising to volunteer time, to tithe or be more generous, or to read our Bible more.

PURITY CONTRACTS

Hebrews 13:4 states, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…” Is God calling you to a life of purity? Maybe you are unmarried and tempted to have premarital sex although you want to wait….or maybe you’re someone who views pornography but wants to make a commitment to stop…or perhaps you have been cheating on your spouse and feel ashamed before God. Whatever your circumstance, God is waiting for you to make a real commitment to Him to stop.

Some families encourage their children to enter into a purity contract to refrain from premarital sex, then give them purity rings to remind them of their promise.

  • If you have decided to wait until you are married and have never entered into a contract, I encourage you to do so right now. Your written promise might look like this: I promise to God, my future spouse, and myself to keep my mind and body sexually pure until marriage.
  • If you want to promise to stop viewing pornography, you may want to make a slightly different promise like this: I promise to God, my (future) spouse, and myself to keep my eyes, mind, and body from sexual immorality and pornography.
  •  If you struggle with faithfulness, consider this promise: I promise to God, my spouse, and myself to stop all adulterous affairs, confess my unfaithfulness to my spouse, and never enter into another affair.

These are short samples of what your sexual purity contract could be. You can personalize your promise and include Scripture and details or keep it simple. Just remember to type, print, and sign your very own purity contract. It could be the beginning of something beautiful. I pray you will have strength and success on your path to purity.

MODERATION CONTRACTS

Moderation commitments are for areas of your life that need more discipline. Moderation contracts should not be used for known sinful behavior. Moderation contracts are for normal activities that may require more discipline in your life. Christians feel convicted by simple activities that are out of balance like overconsumption of food, drinking excess amounts of caffeine, and oversleeping.

  • Your written promise may look like, “I promise God and myself to consume food only for nutrition and not out of boredom or comfort.” It could contain more details like a promise to consume more fruits and vegetables or encouraging verses. (Serious eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can be life-threatening. Seek professional counseling instead of contracts for eating disorders.)
  •  Another example may be “I promise God and myself to enjoy a suitable amount of rest in my life to renew and refresh my body. I promise not to sleep to avoid problems. I choose to embrace joy and life by rising in a joyful mood and tackling the day with God.” It might include a goal bedtime and wake-up time or a limit. Your promise may include a promise not to be late to work by pressing snooze.
  • Over caffeinated? “I promise God and myself to drink only 2 cups of caffeinated coffee/tea/energy drink per day. I trust God to give me energy to do all of the things He wants me to do today.”

Your moderation contract may be something completely different. Listen and pray for what it is God is asking you to be more disciplined about. Just remember to type or write your promise and sign your name to it.

ENRICHMENT CONTRACTS

There are easy ways to enrich your life, the lives of others, and your own relationship with God. They could include decisions to become more generous with your time and money. Some examples would be to attend church more often or to give your time by volunteering your service or to contribute money to needy people.

Sometimes all we need to do is change our attitude around. Instead of thinking of some things as chores, we should consider them opportunities. Think of all the opportunities these promises would provide for you to meet people….people who could become your spouse or your best friend. I hope that motivates your attitude to change, but I hope your deepest motivation to enter a contract is love. Let it be love….love for God that you want to become more like His Son and love for His people that you want to help them realize there is a God through your generosity.

  • Your contract might read, “I promise to God and myself to attend church every Sunday that I am not sick or out of town.” If you already attend church, maybe you could promise to invite at least one person per month or season or year.
  • It might say, “I promise to God and myself to volunteer my service to at least one event per year.” It could be something specific like volunteering to act as a childcare worker at your church or in your community.
  • Your written promise might say, “I promise to God and myself to give to every person/organization who requests money…even if it is just one dollar.” Your contract may involve finding one organization where you give regularly. It may state something about giving things instead of money.

These are just examples. Feel free to write your own enrichment promise about whatever God has called you to do. Either write or type and print your promises. Just remember to sign your name. Then enjoy your new enriched life.

REMEMBER your salvation does NOT depend on your holiness. Jesus’ blood on the cross has purchased your salvation. These written promises only act as a tool to help you draw near to the Lord with an increasingly holy life. It is an outward display of a renewed heart and mind. It is a helpful reminder to our flesh to yield to the Holy Spirit as He guides us into a more holy life.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

About Islam

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Experts estimate that there are over 20,000 Christian denominations. Each one has their own different beliefs and practices. It would be hard to make a statement of faith that they all agree on.  The same is true when it comes to Islam. With that in mind, I will still try to explain a few general differences between Islamic and Christian beliefs (even though it may not apply to every Muslim) in a few short blogs.

The Muslims I know are very agreeable in general and will not argue most points of the Bible. Many even believe in Mary’s virgin birth (although they do not believe Jesus is the Son of God). However, there is a sharp conflict when it comes to the history of Christ and the cross. Muslims do not believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. They believe He was spared death and taken up to heaven. To them, the cross has no saving power since they do not believe a sacrifice was ever made on it. To us, Christ’s death on the cross was the sacrifice that saves us from sin. Christ’s resurrection guarantees we too will be raised up from the dead. Therefore, the cross is the cornerstone and symbol of our faith, yet it is insignificant in Islam.

Muslims believe the Bible is an inspired (but corrupted) holy book. The Qur’an (written several hundred years after the death of Christ) is considered a more pure sacred text for Muslims. Christianity teaches God’s Word is without error.  2Timothy 3:16 states “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” If we believe God gave us the Word of God, it stands to reason He has protected it over the years. Scripture has been proven reliable by many transcripts including the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jesus authenticated the accuracy of the Old Testament by quoting it. History and archaeological finds support Biblical accuracy. (Archaeological discoveries have actually disproven the historical accuracy of the Qur’an.) The more you study the Holy Bible, the more it becomes apparent it is an incredible piece of literature because it is the literal Word of God.

With so much common ground, it seems odd that so much controversy would arise from these two religions. Why do we hear about so much violence towards Christians from Islamic countries? The reason is the Qur’an actually commands holy war against non-Muslims who refuse to convert. ” Islamic Extremists” is the name we commonly call Muslims who literally interpret the Quran as a legitimate authorization to kill non-Muslims. However, there are many peaceful Muslims so it is important to differentiate between “peaceful Muslims” and “Islamic Extremists.” Peaceful Muslims living among us condemn the killing and persecution just like we do.

The Bible was completed and closed around 400 A.D. Christians believe the Holy Bible is the final authority. No prophecy can supersede the Holy Bible. God warns us in Revelation 22:18 never to add to His Words. Yet several hundred years later, Muhammad claimed to have received a message from the angel Gabriel. This message was compiled in the Qur’an. Muslims believe the Qur’an supersedes the Bible in authority. Muhammad reminds me of the old prophet in 1 Kings 13. A man of God had been commanded by the Lord not to eat or drink on his journey. He even rejected the king’s offer to sup. Yet an old prophet convinced him that he has received a message from an angel that told him to bring this man of God to eat with him. The man of God defied God’s command and dines with the old prophet. The man of God’s disobedience cost him his very life!

As Christians, we should always have a warm smile and a kind word for peaceful Muslims living among us. As for the extremists, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you in Matthew 5:44. I hope that, in time, more Muslims can agree on its superiority to the Qur’an. I pray you will be God’s instrument for delivering this truth. It is a spiritual battle and one that can be won through the Holy Spirit’s supernatural enabling. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2 that he did not come to them with persuasive words or human wisdom but with the testimony of God with fear and trembling. Christ has told us to testify. All we need to do is be obedient.

If you are a Muslim who has accepted Muhammad’s message over God’s own words in the Holy Bible, what will happen to you? Repent and become a Christian today with this prayer of salvation: Father God, Forgive me my sins. I believe Your Son Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. I trust His death paid for my sin. Send your Holy Spirit and make me new. In Christ’s Name, Amen. If you can’t accept my words, take the truth from a former Muslim. It is enlightening to both Muslims and Christians. Watch this amazing video testimony by a Muslim who turned Christian: http://www.cbn.com/tv/1403094459001May the light of Christ walk before you everywhere you go and prepare the way in His mighty all-consuming power!

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

About Judaism

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Who is Jewish? It seems like a simple question, doesn’t it? But it’s not! There is more than one basis for being called Jewish.

1. The first basis is ETHNICITY. People who have Jewish parents are referred to as Jewish. Regardless of their religious beliefs or practices, this group of people are still considered Jewish because they are ethnic Jews.

2. The second basis is RELIGION. Ethnic Jews who practice the religion known as Judaism are called Jewish. However, any person who can convert to Judaism and will then be referred to as a Jew.

In Genesis 12:2, the Lord said to Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.Today, it’s easy for us to see that God fulfilled His promise to Abraham! Abraham’s descendants can be found anywhere in the world including the great nation of Israel. God always keeps His promises because He is faithful. 

With over 300 prophecies about the coming Messiah pointing to Jesus, it may be hard to understand why Jewish people do not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Well, some Jewish people do accept Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. Jewish people practicing Jewish traditions that have accepted Jesus are called Messianic Jews.

Yet there are many more Jewish people who do not accept Jesus as their Messiah. Here are two major reasons why:

1. The first reason is CONTEXT. Jewish people think Christians take Messianic prophecies out of context. Christians argue the Bible passages that contain prophecy have a dual meaning.

2. The second reason is the JEWISH BIBLE. The Jewish translation of the Bible renders certain passages differently. For instance, Christian Bible state Immanuel will be born to a virgin in Isaiah 7:14. In the Jewish Bible, it simply says Immanuel will be born to a young woman.

There are whole books written on the subject, and the many words written do not apply to every Jewish person. However, I hope this blog has helped a little to unravel the mystery of why Jewish people are still waiting for their Messiah while the rest of us are waiting for His return!

In the Bible, we read God promised a chosen nation to Jacob’s descendants including the Promised Land of Israel. We know one major reason God set this nation apart was to bring forth the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to bring non-Jews into a reconciled relationship to God. Now that Jesus Christ accomplished His Father’s will, does it nullify God’s promise to Abraham’s descendants? Should Israel belong to the Jewish people in modern day times?

The belief that Israel should belong to the Jewish people is called Zionism. Many Christians support Zionism because they believe the book of Romans confirms the original promise stated in Genesis 12. Many Jewish people support Zionism because they have a continued faith God’s promise to them, which is stated in the Jewish Bible. Even people who do not believe in the Bible at all may support Zionism for political or other reasons.

What do you think? I see the existence of Israel as a miracle and a reminder that God has not forsaken us. As Christians, we know for certain God will one day call us to our own spiritual Promised Land in heaven where we can reside forever with Him.

If you are not a Christian, it is easy to become one with simple heartfelt prayer: Dear Lord, I believe your Son Jesus is the Messiah who washed my sin away with his suffering and death on the cross. I believe he was raised up from the dead. His blood guarantees me a place in heaven. I accept the gift of salvation. In Christ’s Name, Amen. 

If you prayed that heartfelt prayer, you are now an heir of God. Congratulations! Click here to read a poem on our spiritual Promised Land in heaven. 

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

Praying the Bible

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According to Ephesians 6:18, we should “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” Besides praying dreams, thoughts, and lists, we can also pray our Bibles. Here are a couple of ways:

  • Promise Book. In this way to pray the Bible, you find a promise in the Bible to support your request. For instance, I pray for healing in my back because Isaiah 53:5 says, “…with his stripes we are healed.”
  • Conversationally. In this way, God speaks first. You read along in the book of Matthew and stop at Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Your prayer might sound like, Forgive me, Lord, for looking at people with lust. Help me to see with pure eyes. 

This is just the beginning. There are many more ways to pray your Bible. Click here to read an example of a beautiful and elaborate prayer using Scripture.
If you have kids, make sure they have their own Bible so they can know the promises of God and engage in their own prayer conversations with Him.

When you pray God’s will according to His Word, you put God ahead of your own desires. He will be eager to hear and answer these types of prayers because they have a pure motive. This is a wonderful way for you (and your family) to draw near to God.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

Spiritual Gifts

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Do you believe in spiritual gifts? Some Christians do not believe all of the gifts of the Spirit can be exercised in modern day. Other Christians use them to build up the kingdom of God on a regular basis. I believe God’s power is limitless and He can do all things through us.

What is your spiritual gift? There are some fun question/answer tests a Christian can take to see what spiritual gifts they excel in, which can be beneficial for Christians looking for a place to serve in a church. However, it is important to note that as Christians we have offered our bodies as vessels for God to use. Therefore, we may be called into action as a situation dictates. Therefore, we should always be open to the Holy Spirit’s use of any spiritual gift through us (even if we do not normally excel at that gift).

Do you use your spiritual gifts to build up the kingdom of God?Several spiritual gifts offer us the privilege of acting as God’s mouthpiece like prophecy, words of knowledge, and words of wisdom. All Christians receive communication from God in some way or another. Some receive impressions about things they should say or do. Others may hear an audible voice. And yet others believe God uses some combination of the two. We are in obedience to God’s Word when we relay God’s communication to other people for Matthew 10:27 states, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”

Are you effective with your spiritual gift? We have all heard (and in fact whole religions have been based on) false prophecy. If we are not grounded in God’s Word, we are susceptible to such foolishness—which has proven to be not only hurtful to God’s reputation but deadly to their followers. Studying our Bibles cannot be shrugged off. It is critical. Even interpreting the Bible with no outside input can be dangerous. You must study what the Holy Spirit is communicating through other Christians. My own writing reflects the influence of Dr. Charles Stanley, Joyce Meyer, and my own beloved pastors Shawn Craig (of Philips, Craig, & Dean) and Josiah Serra in my writing. If I listed all of the amazing godly pastors and authors I have studied, we would be here all day. Stay in the vine that is Christ, His Word, and in fellowship with His people.

Lord, I pray You would bestow spiritual gifts on Your children. Help them to know, use, and be effective with spiritual gifts for Your glory. We thank You and praise You that You know how to give good gifts to those who ask for them. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

MINI HISTORY OF THE BIBLE

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The history of Christianity is not taught in many sanctuaries. Instead, churches focus on the principles of Scripture and how they apply to modern-day life. Additionally, they stress the authority of the Bible. They remind us it is God-breathed according to 2Timothy 3:16. Pastors may even mention the author or background of a particular book of the Bible before preaching from it. However, congregations in general typically do not seem that interested in hearing the history of Christianity or origins of the Bible on a Sunday morning.

Some of us are interested though, aren’t we? We may not want to buy thick non-fiction books to study every detail. Yet, we sort of want to know what happened in between the author writing God’s words on a scroll and this beautifully bound Bible we bought from our local Christian bookstore.

By learning some of the major events in Christianity that have lead up to the publication of the modern-day Bible, we can be better prepared to answer questions about our faith from non-Christians. More importantly, we understand God’s ways so we can know Him more.

The Old Testament originated with our Father in heaven. God breathed His words to Moses and the other prophets so they could write it down for future generations. It is believed that over 20 authors were inspired to write the Old Testament. Scholars believe these authors wrote mostly in ancient Hebrew on scrolls.

Jewish rabbis and scholars decided which books were regarded as Scripture. All of the books of the Old Testament were completed by 500 BC. They were translated into Greek (called the Septuagint or LXX) in 200 BC.

God closely guarded His Word through the process of being written by prophets, replicated by scribes, and translated into other languages. There are a couple of ways we sure of this. First, Jesus confirmed its authenticity when He quoted from the Old Testament. Second, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 confirms Old Testament accuracy. The ancient Old Testament scrolls found in caves and the modern-day Old Testament we study today are astoundingly similar! Thanks to God’s preservation of His Word, we can still say with confidence, Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105).

Can you imagine what it would be like to live during the time of Jesus? We can only imagine how filled with awe they were at the life of Jesus and all the miracles he performed. If I were one of those awe-struck disciples, I would probably have begun to write them down. In fact, that is what some of them did.

All 27 books of the New Testament were written within 100 years of Jesus’ lifetime. Several authors of the New Testament actually met Jesus in person. By 315 AD, Christians began to recognize the Scripture that makes up the New Testament as sacred writing. The New Testament was believed to have been written originally in Greek on papyrus. It was copied so many times that thousands of ancient manuscripts still exist today.

The first Bible was printed in 1455. The Bible was translated into the English language in 1526. In spite of the many versions available, the New International Version (NIV) is a topseller. It was developed using over 100 scholars working from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text.

Today we can be as sure as ever that the Bible we read is not from men, but is actually the word of God as is stated in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. –1 Thessalonians 2:13

If you are interested in the sources I reviewed to write this blog, you can check them out here

http://www.gotquestions.org/canon-Bible.html

http://godisforus.com/information/bible/ntdocs/authors.htm

https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-International-Version-NIV-Bible/#vinfo

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!  

*The above image was found at morguefile.com. No copyright is claimed over this image.