Thursday, December 27, 2012

God is Love

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.


I'm not sure if you're familiar with the book by Gary Chapman titled, "The 5 Love Languages". I myself have not read it but I have skimmed it and even taken the free online test; a couple of times. The love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. My results are always the same with my highest desire being 'words of affirmation'. Looking back I can see this desire even as a child. I thrived on praise. I was driven because I wanted the praise and approval of someone. I grew into an extremely prideful and judgmental person. And I never even knew it. I didn't see it at all. My faults and failures were so small compared to the faults and failures of others. I was so prideful that when I would read the Bible, thoughts like these would always pop into my head, "Denise really should read that!", "Wow! That really describes James to a tee!" Never would I see myself and my faults. So as I've written about before, God opened my eyes. It was a long process and including this present time of shaping, it has been 3 years. Like the potter and the clay written in Jeremiah 18:4, I was marred. So with the word of HOPE he began to shape me. I was broken and desperately needed hope just to survive it. Then with the word HUMILITY He continued to shape me. In the words of Max Luccado "having long since stopped demanding justice; I began pleading for mercy". I never realized how hungry, poor and imprisoned I was. Humility set me free. Admitting the truth to myself. Seeing who I truly was set me free. I was blind, and just now Matthew 9:29 has a deeper meaning. "Then He touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you." I will tell you my faith has been small. I ask and immediately make excuses for God so that he doesn't have to answer my prayer. As if he needed a way out. God is at work and He is building my faith, quickly, I might add. I come to my closet each morning (not every morning) and things just "come together". Sometimes its AMAZING. Breathtaking. Sometimes its small. And just this morning I felt His Spirit say to me, "If you want affirmation, seek it from Me. In these "coincidences" I am gently letting you know, there is nothing to fear, you're on the right path." Nothing to fear.... that word, FEAR - fear and I go way back.

 Well this morning I come to my closet like every morning (read MOST mornings) and I begin by writing down my thanks in a gratitude journal I keep. I've been nursing a deep hole this holiday season; a hole I've nursed for years. This cavern that says I don't fit in. I'm a misfit in my family. At times I feel I was a mistake. Without diving in too deep in a public place, I'll just leave it at that. Last night the tears began to fall and my husband wrapped his arms around me and said he'd been praying for me to find a place where I felt I belonged and that He thought these prayers had been answered because of all the times I emerge from my closet and have something to share, something learned... I belong with God... I fit in this room - my closet.... with God. (Today 1.13.13, I read in Psalm 68:6 "God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell....") I was thankful this morning for a praying husband and that He helped me to see one more way God shows His love to me. I then began to pray the Lord's prayer as He has guided me. With his guidance I have been dissecting this prayer and finding Scripture to back up each little phrase. I rushed through it a little this morning and when I got to "deliver us from evil" this bit of scripture entered my thinking..."he who does the will of my father"... over and over again. I didn't know for sure where this verse was or if it was an entire verse or just a snippet. So I open my computer and google it. And I turn back to the Lord's prayer where it says, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." I look at the links on the computer and Mark 3:35 shows up. I turn to my notebook where I had dissected this bit of the prayer and I skim the verses below it, and sure enough come to Mark 3:35 "Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother". But then I look back to my screen and seeMatthew 7:21 and Matthew 12:50. I acknowledge these two verses and jot down the reference in the margin of my notebook and proceed on with my time. I pray over the part that says "Give us this day, our daily bread." I ask that He would nourish me with His Scripture and speak to me what He feels I would need this day and I finish up my prayer. I then open up my devotion and there it is for today, Thursday, December 27, 2012, the Scripture reading, Matthew 7:13-29. Right smack dab in the middle of this reading is Matthew 7:21 and the phrase that popped into my head earlier "he who does the will of my father." And surrounding this verse are the verses that have plagued me most of my Christian life.... the parable of the good tree and bad tree and the dreaded words "I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" And the tears fall as I hear His Spirit say, I affirm you each day so that you know, KNOW, that I know you. I know your pains. I know the holes and caverns in your heart. And I will affirm you each day until you can stand BOLDLY. I will help you build this foundation on rock (verses 24-27). And I stare at the verses written on my chalkboard paint wall; "...Perfect love drives out fear...", "God is my salvation. I will trust and NOT be afraid."...The LORD will perfect that which concerns me.","...He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion....", "Believe: cleave to, trust, and rely on and have faith in My Messenger."... and that name, YAHWEH - M'KADDESH meaning The LORD who Sanctifies and in these things there is this reoccurring concept. HE will, The LORD will. When I make Him the Lord of my heart, meaning I surrender to Him, obey Him, trust Him, ....he does the hard part. Why? Because He loves me. He loves me enough and knows me enough to love me through affirmation.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Come Quickly?

After the event that took place in Newtown, Connecticut there were no words really. I did however find myself saying, "Come quickly Lord Jesus." But is that what I should say? Yesterday's Advent reading for our Jesse Tree was a few verses of Jonah. And there I felt conviction. Should I pray that Christ would return soon? Because we know with His coming also comes Judgement. My mind kept coming to Chapter 4 where God rebuked Jonah's poor attitude toward the people of Nineveh. We know that with the coming of our Lord there will be such devastation for those who remain. So shouldn't we too receive this rebuke, when we pray for His coming? "But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

120,000 people who don't know their left from their right.... children? My baby is 7 and still struggles with knowing her right from her left.

So instead of saying "Come Lord quickly" I feel led to say, "Please God wait! Give me more time to spread your word. Give me a message and a purpose to help those who are lost, find you. Find your way! Find your Kingdom!

Let's focus on this word 'kingdom'. In Greek the word is
basileia. It means kingship, sovereignty, authority, rule, especially of God, both in the world, and in the hearts of men. This word is constantly used in connection with "the rule of Christ in the hearts of believers." So using this definition lets look at a few verses.

*Matthew 6:10 "your kingdom come. your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Christ is not asking us to pray for His coming. He is saying we should pray for the wisdom and strength to make Him the ruler of our hearts. When that happens, when Christ is Lord of our heart, God's will, will be done. Just as it is heaven. For Christ to be the Lord of our hearts we will obey Him! ""Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46

*Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Again, 'His kingdom", If we seek to make Christ the ruler of our hearts, to obey Him and be transformed into His image, becoming righteous (as we alone can possibly be) then we would not need to worry about tomorrow or any other thing, because God will provide just what we need for that day." Give us this day our DAILY bread."

*Luke 17:20-21 "Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of god would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is, 'because the kingdom of God is within you."

Now this verse has a couple things that speak out to me. First, "the kingdom of God is within you." The Greek word used here for within, is entos. It means within or inside and is only used twice in Scripture. Once here, and the other when Christ rebukes the Pharisees calling them blind hypocrites in Matthew 23:25-28


"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

It seems to me, we are just like the Pharisees. They were waiting for an earthly kingdom with an earthly king. We too are mistaken, possibly, as to what 'kingdom' means. I think a lot of us are getting the word 'kingdom' and 'heaven' confused. Or maybe they're very similar and can be used interchangeably at times yet have a specific meaning all their own depending on how its used? I'm not sure. I'm still searching....

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." ~James 1:5

Some similarities between this story of Jonah and of Christ

Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a fish. Christ spent 3 days in the tomb.
Jonah was sent to give the Ninavites a warning of what was to come. Christ also warned of what would come if people wouldn't repent..
Jonah 2:4 says, "I have been banished from your sight." Christ said in Mark 15:34, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?"
Both stories end with compassion and mercy for those who would repent.




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Modern Day Judges

 One of the purposes of the Judges in Bible times, was to rally the Israelites, and lead them in battle. I'm going to try hard to weave all these thoughts into something that resembles some sort of rhyme and reason.

Ok. I struggle terribly with anxiety and depression. This anxiety thing has taken control of my life. I’ve been locked away, yet I hold the key to the lock. Although I desperately want out, at the same time, I desperately want to remain locked away. I need help. I'm insecure and at times, an overall mess! Back in late August, early September, three things sort of happened all at once.

First, my family and I had stopped going to church, around October 2011, and for about 9-10 months we had been having our worship time here at the house on Sunday's. Then some people we knew through another church started meeting together on Wednesdays. It started out as an alternative to "organized religion" which I was all for, but our group eventually ended up as Bible Study and fellowship;,which I love. I love this group of people and I am always eager for Wednesday nights. During this same time God sent me this angel. A wonderful woman who would become my best friend. He also brought another woman into my life, that was attending our Wednesday night meetings. I just felt called to watch over or interact with her. I can't explain it. I just felt God saying, get in there. I can use you. There was just this pull. Well my Angel invited me to a Beth Moore Simulcast that a local church was hosting. Guess which church. Yep, the one my family had just left. I so did not want to go. I have anxiety and so to ask me to go back to this church that I had just left was unimaginable. It had so much potential to be awkward.  I felt compelled to go, yet I couldn't make myself commit 100%. I was terrified and had a list of excuses I could pull out of my pocket at anytime, making it easy to bail. As I discussed this with my Wednesday night group, this woman God had laid on my heart, looked right at me and expressed a real desire to go. She wanted to know if I would go with her. There was no way I could tell her no. So God definitely wanted me to attend this event. Let me just say it was amazing! I didn't feel awkward at all. In fact, I felt quite welcomed. It was truly a remarkable experience. Beth spoke a wonderful message and concluded with this printable PDF resource titled,'Fear and Courage; The Great Forsake and Take'. Right then and there God was planting seeds for this upcoming year, 2013. He is making clear the path for this change He has in store for me. And with His guidance he's laying the ground work for Confidence and Boldness; two words that keep coming up over and over and over again. Which brings me to this New Year’s resolution type thing called OneWord365. Its this concept of choosing one word to be your focus for the upcoming year. A word that can change things. Change you. And do you want to know how amazing my God is? He is just unbelievably amazing, because this resource, from Beth Moore is just scripture after scripture after scripture that encourages me to be anything but afraid or anxious! To forsake those things and instead take confidence and boldness. And Beth, this little dynamite woman, has become a modern day judge for me. She is rallying my heart. Like the Israelites were rallied to fight against the Canaanites for possession of the land God promised them. She is rallying my heart, my soul, to fight against Satan and to take possession of God's promises so that I can live the life He has planned for me.


Part of her intro written in this resource says,




 "Let's allow the question of Christ to the invalid of 38 years challenge us: "Do you want to get well?" Do you want to win this battle? Just how badly? Are you sick of feeling crippled or harassed by fear and anxiety? Then, get to work! Nothing here will waste your time. This is a good work ahead of you with God-sized implications. ... and... whether we like it or not, the words of Christ in Matthew 9:29 are still fitting for us today: "Let it be done to you according to your faith!"
 
 
And then the last words of this introduction just move me to tears of expectation and hope...

"May God astonish you with the work He's accomplishing in you and cause you to say, "Who is this you are making me??"

And if this "Modern Day Judge" hadn’t done enough to encourage me, over at Living Proof, she’s encouraging us to "join" a Scripture Memory "team"



"because that’s exactly what we are. We’re a really long line of women standing shoulder to shoulder with our swords drawn. And we don’t draw our swords to wound people, to convict our family members (God’s job) or to cut off the ears of our hearers. We draw our swords to fight the good fight of faith."


And what’s so wonderfully perfect for me, is that resource, The Great Forsake and Take, already has 96 verses on fear and courage all printed up for me to pick from to add to my Siesta spiral this upcoming year.

I love to see how God weaves a thread in our lives. To be able to look back and connect the dots to see Him at work in my life. I am blessed! And God is GREAT!

What about you? Do you have a modern day judge to rally you into battle?

Monday, December 10, 2012

No More Second-hand Stories

This year (September 2012) I attended a Beth Moore simulcast. And one of the things she said struck me...





"Personal desperation can jar us out of second-hand stories."



I was saved at age 10. Or was I? If not, I know I've prayed a few prayers of salvation since then. I know several times in my life I would feel a bit jealous of those who had these great testimonies. I mean their lives were such a mess that a normal persons life would look like the 180 turn around after salvation. And my story was bland, not a huge difference... but maybe I was wearing blinders. Maybe just maybe I needed to be humbled, and broken down, so that I could be built back up. For arguements sake, let's just say I was saved at 10. I remember sitting in the pew during the sermon part of our church's VBS. I was holding on for dear life. I bet if we could find that pew, there would be claw marks left from where I was fighting the urge to go forward and pray the sinners prayer. I was such a shy and bashful kid, and I still am. Well, not the kid part. Eventually the Holy Spirit won out and I made it up there, cried and prayed, and told everyone that would listen about my "experience". Basically all it amounted to was, "I was saved at VBS!". I had always gone to church and I continued up until I was 18. But somewhere between 14-18 church began to feel more like a chore and I had no choice in the matter, so my body went, but my heart wasn't there.  I eventually fell away during those teenage years, doing things I knew weren't right. And I continued even on into my 20's. I was in and out of church. I would hear sermons preached on heaven and hell and I would question my salvation. I would be terrified and ask, "was I old enough at 10 to understand what this meant? Believing in Christ and all that entails?  I felt hopeless. I knew I couldn't live up to all the Bible spoke about. The fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? No way could I master those characteristics. I struggled with my relationship with God because I knew I was bad. There was no noticeable difference marking my salvation experience, I was a child, how bad could I have been? I would try to be good. I would measure myself against the failures of others to feel safe, good, acceptable.  But there were so many verses that caused panic and fear. All those that spoke of hell, the narrow gate. How few will find it. How the good tree can't produce bad fruit. And how the bad tree couldn’t produce good. And how I knew I had bad fruit. And Scripture said the bad tree will be cast into the fire. And FEAR kept me. It was a close companion for many years. FEAR drove me on this trail of "works". LOVE was not my motive. (1 John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.") Then right before I turned 30 something terrible happened in my life (enter personal desperation). I cursed God. I hated him. I felt forsaken.(Psalm 31:22 - "I said in my haste and alarm, I am cut of from before Your eyes.")  I would rage and recount all my "righteousness" and "goodness" to Him and ask... no, I would yell... demand to know, "Why? Why did you let this happen? Why me? Why didn't you prevent it! I am good! THEY are bad!" But the Lord did not cast me out. Remove His salvation. His love. (Psalm 103:9 - "He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge"). But He was distant. And I had to search for Him hard. For months, years even, I would go through a cycle of anger, hate, then this faith(?). God and I wrestled and I cried out like Jacob, I will not let go until you bless me!! (Genesis 32:26) And it was not overnight, but here I am blessed beyond measure. Through this time I always had this indescribable urge to continue to seek His will, His face, His purpose. I just couldn't walk away. I tried. I wanted to. But he held me. (John 10:27-30 -"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”). He had planted a seed and I would do nothing to help it grow or take root. In fact, I was, at times, so angry I was trying to chop anything that grew down. As I prayed, God revealed to me how He had planted this seed of faith in me and it had deep roots. I was reminded of dandelions, how you can try to pluck them out of the ground and instead they just break off, leaving the roots, and they keep coming back. God had planted faith in me, similar to a dandelion. Then as I was studying and searching through Scripture looking for verses on Love vs. Fear and Works vs. Faith I came across Mark 4:26-29 "A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head." and I felt reassured and that verse lead to this one, "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 1:6 But back to my turning point...  Bit by bit He would reveal things to me. It started with Deuteronomy 8:6. He took my pride away. He showed me my sin; pride. I would still struggle with works, though. Then he revealed to me two verses. Micah 6:8 tells me all he requires is that I act justly, love mercy (I gave no one mercy) and to walk humbly. Humble became a huge word and motivation for me. I cannot act justly or love mercy without humility. It is WORK to remind myself of my faults. Not to linger in a state of guilt, but to stay in a state of self-awareness. I must remain humble.  Which leads to Psalm 51:17, "The greatest sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. God, you will gladly accept a heart that is broken because of sadness over sin."  And then because the verse we all know by heart, John 3:16, says we are saved by believing in Christ, God laid it on my heart to learn what is meant by this word 'believe'. John 6:29 calls it WORK. "Jesus, replied, "This is the WORK (service) that God asks of you: that you BELIEVE in the One Whom He Sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have FAITH in His Messenger.]" Then this morning came Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not fret or have anxiety about anything (my salvation?), but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God."  And God's peace [shall be yours that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so FEARING nothing from God (again pointing to 1 John 4:18 in a positive manner this time) and being content with this earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Do you know what garrison means? 1. A body of troops stationed in a fortified place. 2. The place where such troops are stationed. 3. Any military post, especially a permanent one.... are you getting this? I imagine a troop of angels, led by His Spirit that dwells in me, to have a permanent post in my heart providing me with peace! Peace regarding my salvation, which in turn provides peace for the trials of this life.


 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Many are invited, but few are chosen ~ Coffee with Jesus

Many are invited, but few are chosen ~ Coffee with Jesus

This bit of Scripture, Matthew 22:1-14, has been the topic of conversation between my husband and me on several different occasions. While I have had a general idea of what it meant to me, I have never taken the time to dig in and search out where God would lead me, until a blog post from Coffee With Jesus. I give you a response.... my comments in blue, the original verse in red.
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king (God) who prepared a wedding banquet(the way for the Salvation) for his son (Christ). He sent his servants(prophets) to those who had been invited(God's chosen- the Jews) to the banquet (redemption, salvation, good news, gospel) to tell them to come, but they refused to come.(He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. ~ Isaiah 53:3)
We see in Scripture over and over again as Christ being the bridegroom. So from that, we can infer that God is the King. We also see in Scripture that the prophets, disciples, and future believers are called 'servants'. Here, the "invited", are God's chosen people, the Jews.

“Then he sent some more servants (John the Baptist and possibly his disciples?) and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited (the Jews of Christ's day) that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready.("After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" ~Mark 1:14-15) Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention (He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. ~John 1:11) and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.("...he (Herod) sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison..." ~Mark 6:27)The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.(Luke 19:44 ...."They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." - I realize this doesn't say anthing about being burned, so this is just me "feeling around"... but Josephus records that the Romans put the city and the Temple to the torch and that these fires were still burning a month later on the eighth day of the Roman month Gorpieus (Jewish month Elul). [a]
“Then he said to his servants (the disciples of Christ), ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.(Acts 13:44-47 "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldy: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you rejected it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.")’ So the servants(the remaining disciples) went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good (Matthew 28:16-17 "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him they worshiped them;...and bad ...but some doubted."), and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.("he has clothed me with the garments of salvation - Isaiah 61:10) ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes (the garments of salvation; being clothed in Christ)?’ The man was speechless. --Luke 14:4a "But they remained silent" 6"And they had nothing to say"
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.)
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Perhaps this last bit is best summed up in Romans 9:25 "As he says in Hosea: "I will call them my people who are not my people, and I will call her my loved one, who is not my loved one. And "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, "You are not my people, they will be called sons of the living God." Isaiah cried out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his scentence on the earth with speed and finality."
* Reference [a]

Matthew 22: 1-14, A Response...

This bit of Scripture, Matthew 22:1-14, has been the topic of conversation between my husband and me on several different occasions. While I have had a general idea of what it meant to me, I have never taken the time to dig in and search out where God would lead me, until a blog post from Coffee With Jesus. I give you a response.... my comments in blue, the original verse in red.
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king (God) who prepared a wedding banquet(the way for the Salvation) for his son (Christ). He sent his servants(prophets) to those who had been invited(God's chosen- the Jews) to the banquet (redemption, salvation, good news, gospel) to tell them to come, but they refused to come.(He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. ~ Isaiah 53:3)
 
We see in Scripture over and over again as Christ being the bridegroom. So from that, we can infer that God is the King. We also see in Scripture that the prophets, disciples, and future believers are called 'servants'. Here, the "invited", are God's chosen people, the Jews.

“Then he sent some more servants (John the Baptist and possibly his disciples?) and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited (the Jews of Christ's day) that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready.("After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" ~Mark 1:14-15) Come to the wedding banquet.’
 
 “But they  paid no attention (He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. ~John 1:11) and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.("...he (Herod) sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison..." ~Mark 6:27)The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.(Luke 19:44 ...."They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." - I realize this doesn't say anthing about being burned, so this is just me "feeling around"... but  Josephus records that the Romans put the city and the Temple to the torch and that these fires were still burning a month later on the eighth day of the Roman month Gorpieus (Jewish month Elul). [a]
 “Then he said to his servants (the disciples of Christ), ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.(Acts 13:44-47 "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldy: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you rejected it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.")’ So the servants(the remaining disciples) went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good (Matthew 28:16-17 "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him they worshiped them;...and bad ...but some doubted."), and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
 
 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.("he has clothed me with the garments of salvation - Isaiah 61:10) ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes (the garments of salvation; being clothed in Christ)?’ The man was speechless. --Luke 14:4a "But they remained silent" 6"And they had nothing to say"
 
 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.)
 
 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Perhaps this last bit is best summed up in Romans 9:25 "As he says in Hosea: "I will call them my people who are not my people, and I will call her my loved one, who is not my loved one. And "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, "You are not my people, they will be called sons of the living God." Isaiah cried out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his scentence on the earth with speed and finality." 
 
* Reference [a]

Saturday, December 8, 2012

S.O.A.P. Do you need cleansed?

Ephesians 5:26 "He did it to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her with water and the word."

During my Advent study this year I was introduced to the S.O.A.P method of Bible Study. Its a method that helps you dig deeper into your scripture reading for the day. I'm really enjoying it and am amazed at how different my Bible Study time is. I've never been a writer. I don't journal. Its just not my thing. So the concept of keeping a journal while doing my Bible Study was just not appealing. I would feel lost. Not even knowing where to start. There was no flow or rhyme or reason to it. It was just random sentences scrawled out on my paper. If I were to go back and read some of my Bible Study "notes" I probably wouldn't have a clue what my line of thinking was or anything. It would be complete randomness. That was before, but I really like this SOAP thing. It's given me a format to follow and it helps me stay focused.

S-Write or type out the Scripture.
O-Write or type any observations.
A-Think about a way to apply your observations.
P-Pray.

Free S.O.A.P. printable.

This has been my first complete year to really study the Bible. And just like the verse above says, the WORD of God can be used to cleanse. It washes away the sins of the day and keeps me on track so that I don't end up going back to wallow in the mud.

Friday, December 7, 2012

One Word 2013


Nearly 3 years ago, this topic of #OneWord kept coming up in my Twitter feed. It’s this idea that instead of making a New Year’s Resolutions, you would choose one word that you want to be the focus of your upcoming year. The idea is that this one word can change everything. My first year, 2011, my #oneword was Hope. I had recently gone through a life changing event the year before and it had crippled me. I was broken. All I felt, each day and every day, was hopelessness. I needed to find my hope again. I’m going to be honest, that year wasn’t my greatest. The word ‘hopeless’ kept finding its way out of my mouth and seeded in my heart. But I would feebly fight back with my reasons to hope. During that year, I didn’t sense this huge change that I had expected, but looking back, does it matter how I crossed the finish line as much as it matters that I did? Seriously, just the fact that I survived that year is huge. So, with the word HOPE to motivate me, I decided to do it again in 2012. My word? Humility. Let me tell you, it is SO freeing, liberating, and calming to experience humility. There are no more self-imposed hoops to crawl through in order to impress people or achieve perfection (a goal impossible to reach) It made forgiveness so much easier. When you have to carry the burden of unforgiveness and hold grudges, you never realize just how heavy they are until you let them go. I’ve had to acknowledge the fact that I am naturally prideful and that pride fed my judgment of anyone who was not a carbon copy of me. Life was just a mess. I had a terrible attitude. I was angry. Some of the anger and bad attitude I can attribute to a medical condition, Dystonia, that I developed in 2006. This condition required huge life changes for me. But all that aside, God gently and mercifully humbled me. And now being December, it’s time to prayerfully consider my #OneWord2013. God has been guiding me for a month or more in the direction of boldness, confidence, expectant, doubtless, courage…. The two that show up most often are BOLDNESS and CONFIDENCE. They are so similar I’m having trouble knowing which to choose. I have a little more than three weeks to decide which one God is leading me to. These words/ideas worry me. I am afraid that these attributes may lead me back into pride and will have made this year of Humility pointless. I'm afraid of losing ground. Then God speaks to me and says TRUST me. I am faithful. I will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. I know my plans for you. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. So if God is leading me with either of these words, I must trust Him. I must have confidence in His guidance.These words can touch so many areas of my life. Boldness & Confidence in my faith, myself, my testimony, my God, my Savior.... I am so eager to see what He has in store for me and those around me. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Reason

 I guess I should start out with the the reason I have this blog. My husband has been encouraging me to start one for a while now, in order to share what I learn through my Bible Study and personal struggles. I will warn you, I am terrible at punctuation, spelling, summarizing, and grammar. So please offer me grace when it comes to these things.

The title of this blog comes from one of my favorite quotes:

 

"Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off  his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries, And daub their natural faces unaware." ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning


It was this quote that ignited a spark--a deep desire, to experience God right here where I am. I don't want to be in his presence unaware! Its as if He has been calling to me and saying, in order to experience my presence, the first step should be getting to know me. Read your Bible. Chapters at a time. Look for Me there. I had doubts about not being able to understand or not get anything out of what I read, so He gave me this verse:

"But you have received the Holy Spirit from God. He continues to live in you. So you don't need anyone to teach you. God's Spirit teaches you about everything. What He says is true. He doesn't lie. Remain joined to Christ, just as you have been taught by the Spirit." ~1 John 2:27


He says He will teach me what He wants me to know. So as I begin to read, I stumble upon verses where God was named different names. I begin looking up the names of God, and behind each one was a revealing of all His different characteristics. I mean imagine being in a group of some kind and having to sit in a circle where each person takes their turn introducing themselves saying, "Hi. My name is Sue. I am called this by my husband because I am married. I am sometimes called Mom because I have three children. I am also called Sister because I have a brother. Sometimes I am called by other names (not so nice ones) because I am easily stressed out and prone to angry outbursts." Then its God's turn and He says, " Hello. My name is Elohim. I create things. I am strong. My name is also Yahweh-Jireh. I am a provider. My name is also Yahweh Rapha. I posses the ability to heal others. I am also referred to as El Roi. I can see all things. etc. And slowly I begin to know Him better and sense His presence more often. I continue to study and pray and struggle with what I believe and why. I ask questions and I feel guilty and there it is... another verse telling me that as I grow in my faith I am covered by His grace so that I can ask these hard questions that allow me to know Him better. And as I grow, my desire to please Him grows. I want to make sure that my actions glorify Him. I don't want to cause Him shame.

"Grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Get to know Him better. Give Him glory both now and forever. Amen." 2 Peter 3:18 (NiRV)

So here I go, blogging about my walk with God and how each step along the way He reveals Himself to me more and more.