Archive for the 'Bible Studies for Life' Category

Returning to God’s Word

The GPS is a remarkable device. Do you use one? I remember just a few short years ago when GPS devices first became popular, you could see units of various sizes suction-cupped to car windshields all over parking lots. Some of them were nearly tablet-sized.

When they were first released, to keep the maps updated, you had to plug the device into your home computer to be updated. If the map versions got too far behind, you’d hear wrong road names and get bad directions.

Now, mapping apps for smartphones have become as common as the phones themselves, providing GPS services for driving and walking. Not near an outlet in the car? No problem as long as the phone battery is strong enough. You can still hear a voice telling you to turn left in half a mile. Or, if you drive too far, “recalculating.”

Maps are helpful. Maps are needed when we don’t know where we are going. Maps are sometimes needed when we forget how to get back to were we started. And, maps can help us when someone has given us wrong directions.

The Bible is our spiritual map

The Bible is our spiritual map. It not only tells us how to get where we need to go, it tells us how to get back to where we need to be. And, it provides correction when we might have been given wrong directions.

Staying on the right road is essential to our walk with God. If we are to walk with God, we must spend time in His Word. No follower of Jesus is strong enough to ignore the counsel, wisdom, and power of the Word of God.

Spiritual renewal is never present if God’s Word is absent.

The Israelites needed God’s Word

When the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem following decades of exile, one of the first things they did was listen to the reading of God’s Word. Nehemiah 8 records the request of the people: “They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses that the Lord had given to Israel…While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively to the book of the law.”1 After a period of worship, the reading continued: “They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.”2 On the next day the people again listened as the Word of God was taught.3

The Scripture was essential to Jesus, too

Jesus constantly referred to the Old Testament in his teaching. One of the central components of His earthly ministry was preaching: “Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”4 We cannot lose Jesus’ preaching in the midst of His miracles. God’s word has the same power for us as it had for the children of Israel. To return to God, we must return to His Word, and when we return to God we will return to His word.

Now is the Time to Lead,

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
President, Southern Baptist Convention

1– Nehemiah 8:1b, 3
2– Nehemiah 8:8
3– Nehemiah 8:13-18

Return to Prayer

When you get bad news, what is your first response? Worry? Anger? Crying? Some other outburst of emotion? How did you respond on Friday at the news of the Supreme Court about marriage? Did you pray as soon as you heard it or were you pressed to panic?

Often our first impulse is not toward God. Rather, we respond as if God isn’t interested in our problems at all. Scripture says, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” (John 14:1, KJV) yet trouble is often the first thing we borrow.

Some people live more in denial than reality. It’s as if they think, “If I ignore my problem, maybe it’ll go away.” But, that doesn’t work and deep down most of us know it.

God Wants to Hear Our Concerns

As followers of Christ, we should remember God invites us to bring our concerns to Him. He doesn’t want us to worry. He doesn’t want us to pretend our problems don’t exist. And He doesn’t want us to carry burdens alone. This is where prayer comes in. In fact, a living illustration of this is what I wrote in my two-part article from Monday and Tuesday. Please take the time to read it.

When trouble comes, we often rush right into the “God! Help me!” prayers. “I’m in over my head, save me!” Does God want to hear those prayers? Without a doubt! But He also wants us to come to him regularly, with humble requests. Philippians 4:6 (HCSB) instructs us, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Prayer is The Key in Our Walk With God

We’ll constantly struggle in our walk with God if we fail in a regular prayer life. I noted this very thing in Bible Studies for Life, “In a similar way, we can deceive ourselves into thinking our spiritual lives are fine–even when we have no intimate walk with Jesus, no fellowship with others, and no sense of being on mission to make disciples.”1

Various Psalms call our attention to the reality of prayer as an ongoing part of our spiritual lives:

  • “At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.” (5:3)
  • “Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer–from lips free of deceit.” (17:1)
  • “Yet when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting, and my prayer was genuine.” (35:13)
  • “The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night–a prayer to the God of my life.” (42:8)2

Prayer is our ongoing spiritual breath, and is as necessary to spiritual vitality as physical breath is to living. We cannot hope to experience spiritual renewal apart from an emphasis on prayer.

Right now across the Southern Baptist Convention (and I realize many of you are not part of our convention), I am calling churches to give an entire Sunday morning worship service to prayer. Please see how you can lead this in your church or encourage your pastor to do so by watching how we Ied 7,000 people at the recent Southern Baptist Convention in a two and one-half hour prayer meeting. At you can see not only the video, but the exact order of service we used. Please call your church to prayer.

Live a Life of Prayer

So, rather than waiting for calamity to turn to God in prayer, let us live prayer filled lives. Let us wake in the morning in conversation with God. Let us talk to Him throughout the day. Let us praise Him throughout our waking hours, and entrust our lives to Him as we drift off to sleep. Any time and all the time, let us turn to God in prayer and He will send us the renewal we need for our lives.

Now is the Time to Lead,

 Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
President, Southern Baptist Convention


1Bible Studies for Life, Awake, Ronnie Floyd
2– All verses HCSB