Don’t faint, I’m actually writing again. I have planned for a bit to start the lifegroup back once our homeschool started back for the boys, and today is their first day.
I would like to make a change to our group though – for the time being, I’d like to study any verse in the Bible, not just Ephesians. Eventually, I’d love to go back and finish up Ephesians, but for now, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite verses. What verse(s) speak(s) to you? I’d love to read your thoughts (it doesn’t have to analyze every word or compare different versions).
I sooo look forward to hearing about your favorite verses. I’ll also be sharing some of mine. Today’s verse, 1 Chron 4:10, has been on my heart the last few weeks – encouraging me on a few different fronts. 🙂
MSG 1 Chron 4:9-10 Jabez was a better man than his brothers, a man of honor. His mother had named him Jabez (Oh, the pain!), saying, “A painful birth! I bore him in great pain!” Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: “Bless me, O bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection—don’t let evil hurt me.” God gave him what he asked.
AMP Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me! And God granted his request.
NLT He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
NKJV And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
HEBREW And called Jabez on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, that might your hand be with me, that you would keep [me from] evil, that it may not do grief.” And God him granted that which he requested.
One of the things I love as the Near and Far LifeGroup goes through our Bible study on Ephesians is how Paul strives to make so clear to us how very, very much God loves us and what that means for our lives.
I’ve shared 1 John 4:8 before, “God is love;” and of the vision that God gave me of the ribbon of love wrapping around each of us, believer and non-believer alike. As we study Ephesians that image stays close to mind, as I read about how our Father chose before the very creation of the cosmos for Christ to be holy and blameless for us; he knew, even from the very beginning, that we would sin, not just accidentally sin, but sin on purpose, and even knowing this, before we ever committed the sin, he forgave us.
And he didn’t just forgive us, but offers to each of us (and indeed, hopes that we will choose) his very best—grace, favor, and blessings; offering us a life that is completely debt free and filled with his abundance and riches.
“Our Father chose us to be in Christ before the conception of the cosmos, to be for us holy and blameless before God;” I’m not sure that there is any other part that I come back to as often or that makes me smile as much. We can’t be holy and blameless in and of ourselves. I don’t know of anyone, whatever their beliefs, who would claim to have lived a completely blameless life. But, when I stand there before God and the list of things I can be blamed for, both unintentional and willful is read aloud, the One that I have chosen as my Savior will be there, standing in my place, completely blameless, completely holy, paying my debt in full so that I may receive the full and complete inheritance of a child of God.
Several years ago, when God first started teaching Ken and I about Grace, one of the arguments we kept coming back to was that it could so easily be exploited. The thing is, I think it has to be that way—not just grace, but our full and complete salvation has to be so written in stone that you can sin willfully and still know that you’re forgiven and loved and favored, that Christ will still be there, holy and blameless for us, whether our actions were unintentional or on purpose.
We were sinners before God opened our eyes and we recognized our need for a savior. Now we still sin, but our eyes have been opened and we recognize our sin for what it is. We may hate the sin even as we are committing it, but only as Christ changes us from the inside out can we start to become holy and blameless, and even then, even then, we aren’t holy and blameless in ourselves. Even Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said that the things he wanted to do, he didn’t and the things he didn’t want to do, he did. Even Paul was not blameless in and of himself.
If we could be blameless In ourselves, then we wouldn’t need God. The law existed for hundreds of years before Christ was born, offering a chance for anyone who could to be completely blameless and saved through their own power. No one, not one person, could achieve it, in fact, the law was edited and worked over so much that in its current form, it is almost unrecognizable when compared to the original—all in an attempt to allow people to become blameless on their own. Paul points this out in Phillippians 3:6, describing himself, “concerning the righteousness which is the law, blameless.”
Confession time today. There are days when I wake up, looking forward to spending time with God. I’ve had a whole year before where most days were like that and I couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning to go study my Bible.
But my confession is that for the majority of my life, most days aren’t that way. I LOVE being in God’s presence. That’s probably my favorite thing ever. I love studying the Bible and the revelations that come with spending time in the Word. And yet, as much as I love it, I fight just as hard not to do it.
I used to feel guilty when I didn’t feel like studying the Bible when I thought I should be; in fact, I used to feel guilty about most things. I remember reading a quote one time, that went something like this:
For a people who are supposed to be forgiven, Christians are among the most guilty people I know.
I’ve searched for the quote for years since, and haven’t been able to find it again, but it stuck in my memory because it was so true. And yet, living a life dominated by guilt didn’t feel right either. So I did a study on the words guilt and guilty in the Bible.
Did you know that any time the words guilt or guilty are used in the Bible, they are always in reference to an external behavior, and never in reference to an emotion or feeling. We were not made to feel guilty, just as we were not made to be fearful. God did not give us a spirit of fear or guilt, but of peace and love and of a sound mind.
It’s interesting, after I realized that guilty feelings aren’t from God (and thus where they’re actually from), it freed me to change. And as I started releasing my guilty feelings, I began to value the times of conviction, so gentle and so different from guilt which torments us.
Conviction brings change which brings freedom. Guilt, on the other hand, causes us to dig in our heels and stay exactly where we are. It’s like getting into an argument with someone without offering them an out that will allow them to save face—if there’s no way to leave without humiliation, most people will fight to the bitter end.
This definitely didn’t go in the direction that I thought it would, but now it’s time to go study. I love you and love our conversations!
Yesterday, I wrote about “Do Something,” which I think is going to be my slogan for 2015. Normally, I tend to procrastinate. I’ll get an idea and then I have to think it through from all sides before I move on it.
Now, I get an idea and then I remember, “do something.” So I have to act on the thought. That means that my writing will very likely tend to be less put together than before, more stream of consciousness, but at least I am acting instead of waiting. We’ll see what comes of it as the year goes on.
I know I’ve mentioned Pastor Kirk Bowman to you before, the pastor of the Rock of Asheville, the church I attended until I got married and moved away, and the church that will probably always be “home” to me. Pastor Kirk (or PK for short), preached one time about how we can get stuck waiting for God to show us our next move. Instead, he suggested, figure that God has given you a green light, and keep moving forward until you are sure that he is giving you a red light.
Figure that God has given you a green light, and keep moving forward until you are sure that he is giving you a red light.
It’s hard to count how much this has influenced my life. Take, for example, “do something.” When I read it, I knew that it was speaking to me. But what if I waited for a move of God before I did something? I’d still be waiting, most likely, because I already had my word for this year right in front of me.
It’s like the story that Ken enjoys sharing, about the man caught in the flood. When the water isn’t very high, a car drives by and offers him a ride. “Thanks,” he says, but I’ve been praying, and I’m waiting for God to move.
As the water rises, the man moves to the second floor. Soon, a boat pulls up and offers to rescue him. “Thanks,” he says again, “I’m waiting for God to move.”
The water continues to rise, and the man moves to the roof. A helicopter comes along and drops a ladder. The man climbs up the ladder and tells them, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’m still waiting for God to move,” then climbs back down to wait.
Eventually, the man drowns, and when he gets to heaven, he asks, “God, why didn’t you answer my prayers?” Of course, God replies, “I sent a car, a boat, and a helicopter. What were you expecting?”
I’ve found that when I wait, I tend to discount the car, boat, and helicopter, figuring that it’s just my desire that makes me want to use what’s in front of me and then I feel stuck. But, when I move forward until I hit a stop light, I see each piece as part of God’s plan and I am amazed at how it all works together.
What I’m realizing already is how often I unconsciously put off things, waiting for a better time or a better answer, and then I wonder why I’m not moving forward.
By the way, when the story gets to the helicopter coming to rescue the man, I always wonder why he doesn’t at least try it – getting rescued by helicopter sounds like a pretty cool experience. 🙂
Thank you for agreeing for our conversations to be put on the blog, I’m excited about posting them on here. 🙂
I think one of the reasons for my trip last week (I’m sure it wasn’t the biggest reason, but it is one that has stood out to me ever since), is that the distractions were removed so that I would finish the book I have been reading on for a while now.
I don’t think it’s just the act of finishing the book, but that my mind wasn’t busy with a million other things, so that the conclusion hit harder than it would have otherwise.
The conclusion? Do something. How do you change the future? Do something. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do something.
I don’t think there’s been any accidents to the things that have spoken to me so far in 2015. From Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:6,
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs, God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (MSG)
to Dr. Mani’s suggestion to plan out 10 years instead of just 1 (what an eye-opener that suggestion is), to reading Andy Andrews’ book, The Final Summit with its conclusion to “do something,” everything seems to be pointing toward a reminder that this moment matters, not just for now, but what you do now, also influences your future.
So act, do something—but not out of a desire to change the who, what, where of yourself—that part is up to God. Act now, out of a desire to not waste this moment, this step on the path to the next 10 years.
Looking forward to all that 2015 will bring.