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In my devotional this morning I was inspired by the content that Oswald Chambers put forth. He addresses an issue that is not discussed as much as it should be in the Christian world today. Chambers addressed the topic of how to get more connected with God. I paraphrased a few of my thoughts while reading it below. (you can read the entire devotional for yourself at www.utmost.org)

My vision of God is dependent on the condition of my character. If my character is flawed, so will my vision be. My character determines whether God’s truth can be revealed to me. 

Before you can claim to see the Lord, there must be something that is conformed to the likeness of God in you. This requires you to put God first in all circumstances before we can be in continual communion with Him.

As I was reading and thinking through this I couldn’t help but thinking of my life and those around me seeking a deeper relationship with God without knowing really how to get there. It would seem that in the midst of all the easy-going self-help / motivational sermons and bible studies that we have lost our understanding of what it takes to have a correct relationship with God.

[Side Note:  I say this because I listen to a lot of podcasts from across the nation and I read a lot of books and recently it seems that we shy away from the root problem of sin and the value of living a holy life. To be honest, it is troubling to me that the only place I seem to find any illusion to a commitment to holiness is found in the Scripture and in the writings of older theologians such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, etc. or ones that are not as old such as Oswald Chambers or Bill Graham.]

Let us not be fooled friends, the Lord gave you grace for salvation to cover your sins and deliver you from the perils of torment. But He now expects you as Lord to follow Him and be holy unto Him.

“[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)

I am not saying that you will or are immediately perfect or sinless. Because we all still fall short of God and even Paul dealt with the struggles of sin in the flesh. (Romans 7) But even Paul while struggling in his sin knew that he could not keep sinning and be in right relationship with God.

“[6:1] What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

[5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. [6] We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. [7] For one who has died has been set free from sin. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. [9] We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10] For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. [11] So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. [13] Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. [14] For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realize that the Lord desires for you to be in correct relationship with him and that in order for this to happen we must stop sinning and replace that sin with His presence in our lives. It is the only way we can become closer to him.

Lord, correct my character so I can see you faithfully and you can reveal your truth to me. Lord remove my sin from me so that I can walk more faithfully to you.

Quotes on Living Holy Lives

Spurgeon – “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”(read more here)

D.L. Moody – “Lord make me as holy as a sinner saved by grace can be”

Billy Graham – “holiness is God’s priority for our earthly lives. A disciple of Christ should always be careful not to place a higher value on being “happy” than on being holy. Yes, it gives our heavenly Father pleasure for us to have happiness, but not at the cost of our personal holiness.” (read more here)

John Brown – “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”

AW Tozer – “The holy man is not one who cannot sin. A holy man is one who will not sin.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.”

What have you dedicated more time to this week? Your happiness or your holiness?

Do you have any scriptures or quotes that inspire you to be more holy in your walk with Christ? Post them as a comment for all to see.

2 John 1:7-13 ESV (Bold Added)

[7] For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. [8] Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. [9] Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. [10] If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, [11] for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

[12] Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

[13] The children of your elect sister greet you.

As I have meditated on this and some of the other scriptures I have been reading in my devotional times, I have seen how important it is for believers to have a very proactive faith. I know that just about everyone who is a committed church attender will say “yes that’s true” or “I believe that.” After all most church going Christians have heard this message every Sunday as long as they have attended church.
 

So my question then becomes, why don’t we act on it more often?
 

I believe that sometimes this is credited to laziness but other times, it is simply because we don’t know where to start. Which is why I added an excerpt from the devotional below. Here the author outlines some great insight for people of all spiritual depths to get involved in God’s plan.
 

Connecting the Testaments Devotional (June 28th) Excerpt

John wanted the community to be aware of false teaching so they wouldn’t become confused or weakened in their faith. We, too, need to be intentional about the teaching we adhere to. If we are weak and troubled in our faith, we should seek out mature believers who can teach and minister to us. However, if we are confident in our faith, we should be ready and willing to share the message of salvation with those who need to hear it- both inside and outside our communities.

 

  • Be intentional about knowing what you believe and how to articulate it.
  • If you are going through a hard situation, seek solid Christian counsel from those around you and God the Father in prayer.
  • If you are solid in your understanding and okay, seek others to minister to through sharing the Gospel or discipling a person younger in the faith. There are many out there who need help and we must step up to meet the need.

 

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Why don’t we evangelize? What is the gospel? Who should evangelize? What is evangelism? Why should we evangelize? Mark Dever’s book, The Gospel And Personal Evangelism, seeks to answer all of these basic questions about evangelism for the common Christian. In today’s Christian culture, evangelism has fallen by the wayside in terms of priority and is often seen as the one thing that the church always has on their to-do list but never gets around to actually accomplishing it. In The Gospel And Personal Evangelism, Mark Dever desires to answer some of the questions that people have about evangelism, clarify some of the terms that the church uses in evangelism, instruct his readers on how to do evangelism, and challenge all Christians to practice evangelism. Over all, this book aims to discuss the best news there has ever been given and how we should share that news with others.[1]

In order to accomplish this task, Dever’s book consists of answering the common questions by first asking them, and then answering them based on his own, personal experience. Dever also includes quotes from current and past theologians and helpful illustrations. Each chapter is titled as a common question that is asked by many within the Christian church. Then, the content of each chapter discusses the common answers with Dever’s refutations, illustrations, and comments based on the question being discussed. For example, Chapter Two is titled “What is the Gospel?”[2]. In the contents of this chapter, the author explains that there is some confusion among Christians about what constitutes the Gospel message and that a large amount of Christians do not explain clearly what the Gospel is when sharing with others. After this, Dever dives into the common answers or implied answers that non-believers receive when they are witnessed to and what implications those answer have. For this chapter, those assumptions would include; The Good News Is Not Simply That We Are Okay (the gospel is not simply a feel good message)[3], The Good News Is Not Simply That God is Love (the gospel declares that God is more than just love and has many other attributes)[4], The Good New Is Not Simply That Jesus Wants to Be Our Friend (the gospel is more than a relationship that needs to be cultivated)[5], and The Good News Is Not That We Should Live Rightly (the gospel is more than corrective action from sin)[6]. At the end of each chapter Dever concludes by answering the question proposed in the chapter’s title from his own opinion and view on theology. In Chapter Two, Dever writes the following.

 

“Here is what I understand the good news (the gospel) to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law in himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.”[7]

 

Overall, the author answers his thesis in a clear and consistent manner throughout the book.  Dever tackles all of the questions which he sets out to address in each chapter. However, because the author holds a reformed view of theology, some of his answers to the basic questions may cause some readers to have further questions about his interpretation of evangelism. This specifically plays out when Dever begins to address his application and methodology of evangelism in chapters four, five, and seven. (Ch. 4 – How Should We Evangelize?, Ch. 5 – What Isn’t Evangelism?, Ch. 7 – Closing The Sale) For example, because of Dever’s belief in reform theology, he holds the view that God’s regeneration precedes a person’s profession of faith and therefore presents a weak set of instructions for giving a call for those who are being witnessed to, to accept Christ. We see this in the way that he confirms the statement that accepting the gospel is a “journey” and further explaining that Christians should “Let people find the truth themselves. These days of simple tracts and surefire, sales-presentation evangelism is over.” [8]As a result of statements like this, the reader walks away with the impression that they are to politely talk through a gospel presentation without pleading the urgency of the matter with the receiver of the message and then simply rely on God’s sovereignty to redeem those who are unregenerate.

I find this troubling because, first and foremost, it is not consistent with Scripture. Jesus did not simply have a conversation with Nicodemus[9] or the Woman at the Well[10] and send them on their way to process the message. He challenged them on what they believed and then called them to repent and be born again or to drink of the living water. Jesus presented the message and called the hearers to make a decision. It also does not portray the urgency of the gospel which we see the Apostles use when witnessing to those who formed the early church in Acts. Secondly, these statements disqualify several forms of evangelism that are very effective such as preaching and door to door evangelism. Dever attempts to justify his position in Chapter Seven by explaining that his desire is to avoid any false professions of faith because of the emotional pressure of the moment. However, I would then desire to ask him how many people has he witnessed to that would have made the decision to accept Christ but did not, because he did not ask them to.

It is imperative that we call people to make a decision to accept Christ when sharing the gospel for two reasons. First, that they may have the opportunity to profess their belief in Christ and receive the forgiveness of their sins[11]. Second, if they do or do not profess salvation they are without excuse on the Day of Judgment when asked if they have heard the gospel message[12]. Aside from Dever’s theological position and the implications it has on his evangelism tactics, it should be noted that he did an excellent job of tackling some of the culture’s questions when it comes to evangelism and I would encourage others to read this book.



[1] Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2007). Page 16-17

[2] Ibid. Page 31

[3] Ibid. Page 32-35

[4] Ibid. Page 36-37

[5] Ibid. Page 37-39

[6] Ibid. Page 40-42

[7] Ibid. Page 43, Italics added.

[8] Ibid. Page 64-65

[9] Crossway Bibles., Esv Study Bible : English Standard Version, ESV text ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2008).  John 3

[10] Ibid. John 4

[11] Ibid. Romans 10:9-10

[12] Ibid. John 9:39-41

I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

Click to Find How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth on Amazon.com

Do you read the Bible sometimes and wonder what you were supposed to get out of it?

Do you know the differences between all the different Bible translations?
Do you know how the books of the Bible are different from one another and how to read them?

 

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

 

In this book Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart will equip you to find the tools you need to interpret Scripture, to find the best Bible translation for your needs and go through the books of the Bible based on their context and history. Through this book Fee and Stuart have equipped the common person to handle the Scriptures in the way they need to be handled for a sound interpretation. I would encourage everyone who is a believer to read and understand the content of this book.

 

Here is a copy of the table  of Contents for you to get a grasp of all the subjects that are covered.

 

Ch. 1 – Introduction: The Need to Interpret
Ch.2 – The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
Ch. 3 – The Epistles: Learning to think Contextually
Ch. 4 – The Epistles: The Hermeneutical Questions
Ch. 5 – The Old Testament Narratives: Their Proper Use
Ch. 6 – Acts: The Question of Historical Precedent
Ch. 7 – The Gospels: One Story, Many Demensions
Ch. 8 – The Parables: Do you get the point?
Ch. 9 – The Law(s): Covenant Stipulations for Israel
Ch. 10 – The Prophets: Enforcing the Covenant in Israel
Ch. 11 – The Psalms: Israel’s Prayers and Ours
Ch. 12 – Wisdom: Then and Now
Ch. 13 – The Revelation: Images of Judgement and Hope

 

I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

Exodus 3: The Burning Bush

1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

 

That day was as normal as any other. Moses was just going through his normal routine of taking care of the flock.  But on that particular day, something out of the ordinary caught Moses’ attention.  And instead of just carrying on, or simply turning back to the flock – which certainly demanded some part of Moses’ immediate attention.  Moses turned aside to see what was really going on here.  After he turned aside, God spoke.  Did you catch that? After, not before.  God waited to speak to Moses until he had his undivided attention.  Then, God spoke such profound words that Moses’ life would never be the same again. Never ever.  God revealed His true character, and Moses was transformed.

 

Have you been longing to hear from God?

 You may not even be aware that there exists in your heart an unwillingness to turn your full, entire, complete, undivided attention to your Lord and Savior.  Maybe God has been trying to get your attention for quite sometime now.  If you’re anything like me, then there may be some crazy things going on in and around your life.  God will use our circumstances and people to get us to stop and think, “What in the world is going on here?!”  I have definitely found myself saying exactly that these past few weeks.

 

Are you ready to hear the voice of God?

 Turn your full attention to your God and Savior. Give Him your undivided attention, totally focused on who He is.  He will speak to you words so profound! Words of wisdom and truth – and He will speak them right into your very heart.  Right into the very core, the very midst of wherever you need Him most.  His words will sustain you, and stabilize you. He will fill you with understanding and give you insight into whatever you are facing.
I think that we can both agree that receiving all of that – ooh! Don’t we want that!! – is worth stopping, pausing, and turning to see…to take a closer look at the bush that has just caught fire.

 

Dig deep into the Word this week! That is where you will find Him!!


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I just finished Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger and if you are looking for a book on the structure of how a church should be, this is a great book.

 

Often times, churches and ministers get caught up in the day to day ministries and in the many events that are commonly labeled as ministry. This often times leaves our church staff tired, worn out and frustrated while at the same time exhausting the church budget and volunteers. The go, go, go “ministry” of the church then transfers down to those who are not even a part of the church. Which gives the new comers an uneasy feeling.

 

Rainer & Geiger challenge the traditional thought of this go, go, go church model by examining the processes of growing and vital churches in different environments across the country. (Including Andy Stanely‘s church North Point Community Church.)
After examining the key features of these churches  and their focus on keeping their churches simple, Rainer and Geiger give practical advise on how to implement a similar strategy in your own church.

 

I personally found this book to be a wealth of wisdom. I knew some of it from business training courses and marketing courses, so some of it was refresher. But over all the book was a great read and I would encourage anyone in church leadership to read it. (This is not for pastoral staff only. If you are a Sunday School teacher or small group leader, this is a great book for you as well.)

 

Here is the Table of Contents so that you can get a feel for what all the book covers.
Ch1- The Simple Revolution Has Begun in America
Ch2- The Simple Church in Action
Ch3- Simple Church: An Extreme Makeover
Ch4- Three Simple Stories
Ch5- Clarity: Starting with a Ministry Blueprint
Ch6- Movement: Removing Congestion
Ch7- Alignment: Maximizing the Energy of Everyone
Ch8- Focus: Saying No to Almost Everything
Ch9- Becoming Simple
I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

Click Here to Visit in the App Store

I talk to people all the time that tell me they have the hardest time memorizing Scripture and to be honest everyone does. Memorizing Scripture is a Spiritual Discipline and therefore you must discipline yourself to do it.

Often times I have people ask me how I do it. Well, this is one of my secrets.

Here are the reasons I like this app:

  • I can pick the version of the Bible I like to memorize from. (I prefer to read from the ESV but I memorize from the NKJV. Weird, I know.)

  • Flash Card Layout – I have found that flash cards and repetition are what help me learn and this works for me.

  • Quizzes – If I am not as familiar with a scripture, I will quiz myself until I can get the rhythm of it and memorize it fully.

  • Expand-ability – The app comes with a set number of great scriptures to memorize and these are a great place to start. But after a while, I want to be able to add others that I find and expand on this list.

  • Cost is only $2.99. So it is well worth it.

As I close this review, I leave you with a little Scripture for encouragement.

[12:1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Two things from this verse.

1- Present your body as a sacrifice. – Scripture memory is not always easy. Just like life, it is not always easy. But memorizing scripture will take your relationship with God to a new level and it is worth it. Trust me.

2- Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – By memorizing the scriptures and being able to recall them as you go through your days is a way of renewing your mind in God. It will help you test and discern what is the will of God.

 


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I am often asked about the books I read in seminary and although most are fascinating, I would not recommend them to most people because they can be kind of dry. However, this is a book that I believe should be essential for every Christian to read. (Along with the Bible, of course.)

In the book, Donald Whitney explains the Spiritual Disciplines in great detail. Giving you not only the Biblical reasoning but the effects of such practices and the practical know how to perform the disciplines.
Now, you maybe asking yourself “Why would I want to read anything like that? I have been a Christian for years and I have gotten along fine without it.” Well, to be honest, I would have told you the same thing before I read the book. But after I read the book, I can faithfully tell you that I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about the disciplines and that Whitney wrote in a way that made this book engaging and fun to read. So again I would encourage you to read this book for the betterment of your Christian walk.
Here is the Table of Contents so that you can get a feel for what all the book covers.
Ch 1- The Spiritual Disciplines…For the Purpose of Godliness
Ch 2- Bible Intake (Part 1)
Ch 3- Bible Intake (Part 2)
Ch 4- Prayer
Ch 5- Worship
Ch 6- Evangelism
Ch 7- Serving
Ch 8- Stewardship
Ch 9- Fasting
Ch 10- Silence and Solitude
Ch 11- Journaling
Ch 12- Learning
Ch 13- Perseverance in the Disciplines
I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!
If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

I while back I read a biography about D.L. Moody.

Click for Books By Moody

D.L. Moody was an evangelist and minister in the 1800’s who did many great things in his life and God used him in ways that cannot be explained in human terms. (I am not going to spoil all the stuff he did, you have to read the book.)

One of the things that really inspired me as I read through the book was Moody’s devotion to God. The man had an un yielding faith in the Lord’s provision and a firm passion to reach the lost for the Kingdom of God. Part of this determination stemmed from Moody’s moral convictions in his faith.

In the early portions of the book following Moody’s conversion, Moody prays for God’s movement in his life. The movement was not just for God to use him but that he would be set apart for God.


We can see that in his prayer, “Lord make me as holy as a sinner saved by grace can be.”

Click to Find on Amazon

Even though I read this book a few months ago, this prayer still sticks with me.

It convicts me to be a better person.

It inspires me to be set apart for God’s work.

It shows me that there is more to life than just my desires.

It makes me question how many of us are disqualified from God’s work because we are not as focused on Him.

It makes me wonder how much could be done if we did set our lives apart for God.

I encourage you to read the story of D.L. Moody.

I pray that it inspires you to live a life of faith in God and a life of love for the lost as Moody had.

"May I never boast except in the Cross"

[26] For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [30] And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, [31] so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV)

As I was reading and studying this past week I came across this section of verses and God revealed a truth to me about His scripture that is speaking of revealing truth. (Ironic, I know.)

Often times, I have found that it can be hard to deal with people who are always in God’s word.

Now before you start to judge that last statement, hear me out.

I have found that when discussing God’s word, people can be puffed up or arrogant with their knowledge of God’s word. For example, you may have had a revelation from God’s word and when you go to share, they brush it off and tell you that they have learned that principle long ago or try to share with you spiritual time in their life that is just a little bit better. Which in some cases, quickly spirals into a competition of who has had the most powerful spiritual encounter with God. But most often just leaves you hurt and feeling like you were not listened to.

This scenario in my head creates the illusion of the listener as a spiritual freight train barreling down the tracks in the name of Jesus. All the while, ignorant of who was smashed and left on the side.

However, before we go too far, I am not saying that we should not be in God’s word. God’s word is paramount in every Christian’s life. We should teach it to our children. It should be written on our hearts. We should talk about is as we sit in our homes, as we go on our ways. It should be a sign to us of who God is and what He has done for us. (Deut 6:4-9)

So what am I getting at? you wonder…

As Christians, we must recognize the source as Paul dictates in the above scripture to the Corinthians. You see, that as Christians, we must recognize that God is using us, the ignorant, the weak, the foolish, to shame those who are wise according to worldly standards. That He (and only He) has provided for us salvation through Christ. And that He is the source of revalation to us.

God is using us to display His awesome power to those around us.

And when we start in on the spiritual conversations, we must not come in it to display our own piety or religious devotion but to boast in Him who has provided for us, revealed His word to us, given us the opportunity to share His revelation and glorify His Name. So as it is written “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”