Friday, November 15, 2013

Rest

Rest. I fight it hard. Even during the night time hours when I'm supposed to sleep soundly, I often wake up in the wee hours unable to fall back asleep. My movement disorder tries to get me to stop and relax too, when I'm doing too much, but I often shrug it off and try to push through the spasms, and awkward postures and the pain and pulling sensations. There's always something to be done. But the LORD spoke this word, "rest", to me today. Clear as a bell. Rest is important. What was rest designed for in the first place? Biblically? Time for a word study. My Logos Bible App  tells me that the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:2 (the first place we see this word) means to cease, stop; to be absent; to come to an end; perish, die; to rest, celebrate (the Sabbath). Exodus 31:17 tells us that on the 7th day the LORD rested and was refreshed. This rest, this refreshment, was even important enough that the LORD made provision for the land to rest (Leviticus 26). So in times of rest I need to stop, be absent from the business of this world, die to myself, and rest in the provision of the LORD and celebrate the fact that He loved me so much that he has already met all of my needs. Resting is not laziness, its appreciation and an act of gratefulness. Imagine if I worked hard to prepare a great meal for my family and they instead of sitting down and enjoying it, came in and made themselves something to eat. Is that not what I do to my LORD when I don't stop and appreciate all that he has done for me? I am blessed. Abundantly. But do I even notice the meal laid out before me, in the business of doing? something? anything? So today, I will sit back and rest and give thanks to my God who loved me so much that He sent His Son, who also loves me, to pay the price of my sinless ways, to pay for the way I act, not even realizing what it is I'm doing. He has placed me in a land overflowing. I have warmth, shade, food, clean water, gadgets galore, a car, fuel, friends, family. I am blessed.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 2 of 30 Days to Growth

Okay. I don't even know where to start. So I guess I'm just going to jump and see where I end up.

The focus verses for this post are still Ephesians 1:1-14. Suzie writes on her blog, "Digging into one passage and staying there for a while — a day, a week — helps us to really soak in the story of that passage."

Okay in my last post, when answering the question of theme, my answer was this:  God's love, divine purpose, and provision.
Well that's not exactly what they were looking for. The theme is 'in Christ'. And I love it. This phrase 'in Christ' didn't really stand out to me much in the NLT version I was reading from, but once I knew what to look for and then went and read our passages in a few other versions, (ESV, NIV, The Message) it really came alive.

Now first off, before Ephesians was a divine book in our Holy Bible, it was just a letter from a spiritual leader to a group of fellow Christians. So I like to take it and remove headings and verse numbers and try to read it as it originally was; a letter. That's how I've presented it here, but I'm also going to mark it up as I study it and look for my theme, 'in Christ'.

Ephesians 1:1-14
New International Version (NIV)


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory
.So from this point I went and wrote out all the things we are 'in Christ'.
  • we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.
  • we are chosen to be holy and blameless in his sight.
  • we are adopted into His family with pleasure!
  • we are given glorious grace.
  • we are forgiven, paid for (with the price of a life).
  • the mystery of His will is made known to us.
  • we are chosen.
  • we have hope.
  • we are included.
  • we are marked with a seal--given the Holy Spirit.
From here it was my intention to go through and write out what each of these things meant to me but (for now) I never made it past the first thing; every spiritual blessing.

 "In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.” I keep going over it asking myself. What is this “spiritual blessing”? Then it hits me, “That’s the intro…. Its from there Paul is laying out these “spiritual blessings”" Its a spiritual blessing to be chosen, forgiven, redeemed, adopted, included, united, lavished, marked, sealed, given something to hope for, to hope in, to belong."

So yesterday and today I am going to think about these truths and how I don't want to take these things for granted. I am loved so much that Christ gave His life so that I would never have to feel worthless, left out, alone, unwanted, unloved. My life has a purpose and His Holy Spirit is proof of my inclusion. He leads me every day and is here, now, willing to teach me what I need to know. There is reason to hope and more importantly there is GREAT reason to rejoice and PRAISE my Creator. My Father. The lover of my soul. Who took pleasure in giving me these things. He didn't do it begrudgingly. And I would be wise to remember that the next time I have a bitter, unwilling, spirit that doesn't want to do what is asked of me.

I can't wait to see where this study takes me. Like a child up against the wall marking how tall they grow through the years, I hope to come out on the other side of this thing with a notable difference!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Express Love First....

I belong to a small group that gets together on Wednesday evenings to study and fellowship. We currently are going through the book of Malachi. In an effort to be consistent in my blogging, I figured today, I would blog some of my gleanings. The one I'll share didn't even come to me, until today while I was going over this past weekend's events, aka "The Melt-down", in my head. I was thinking about how it started. I think its a communication problem. One thing about the hubs and I, currently, is that we have a lot of heartbreak and rubble in our review mirror and it makes communication hard. We fall apart quickly.

If you don't know what the book of Malachi is about, I would encourage you to read it. Its a small book, only 4 chapters long. I will tell you its named after its author who is either a specific person or a title. Most people lean toward the latter, since Malachi means "my messenger". Malachi is sent to confront the Israelites of their sins of insincere worship and corruption. God is VERY upset. At one point He even threatens to rub their faces in manure (Ch 2:3)! But the very first thing conveyed is found in Chapter 1 verse 2, "I have always loved you," says the Lord.
And that got me to thinking....before I have a bone to pick with the hubs, or the kids for that matter, what are the first words out of my mouth? I'm willing to bet that 99.9% of the time its NOT, "I have always loved you." And I doubt my tone implies that thought either, even if its absolutely true....




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 1 of 30 Days to Growth

Day 1 of 30 Days to Growth

Today, read Ephesians 1:1-14. Ask these questions.
Who wrote this book? Paul the apostle. Paul was originally called Saul and was a Jewish leader who was very active in the persecution of the early Christians. Acts 9 tells of his conversion.
Who was he writing it to? God's holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
Why did he write it? To make Christians more aware of their heavenly wealth in Christ and to motivate them to draw upon those resources in their earthly walk.
Is there a theme in this passage? God's love, divine purpose, and provision.
What was the author trying to say? That before the creation of the world God laid into action a way for us to be brought into His family. Providing the way for us to be a part of His family (the sacrifice of Christ) gives Him great pleasure. It was through unimaginable kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom from our sin and the sins of this world through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. And for those of us who believe in this miraculous, loving act of Redemption and in the person of Christ, who He is and what He has done... He has showered on us not only the grace of the forgiveness of our sins, but also all wisdom and understanding. Our receipt, our guarantee of this purchase of freedom, is in the gift of the Holy Spirit. And our ultimate purpose is to praise and glorify Him.
What scriptures in this passage spoke to me today, and why?
vs 3 - That being saved and becoming a Christian didn't only redeem me from my sins, or give me power to overcome the temptations of the sins in this world, but  it is like a gift pack, I also have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Its not just life after death. Its a life FULL of EVERY SPRITUAL BLESSING in the heavenly realms.
vs 9 - So much of the old testament pointed to the Messiah. God has opened our eyes and ears to understand these things and once you go back and see all the ways Christ fulfilled those Scriptures... its just mind blowing! And, in my opinion, if there is any way for you to study Hebrew, there is just even more there than what most of us learn in Sunday School or during the morning Sermon. My favorite place to learn the culture of our LORD is from John J. Parsons the author of Hebrew for Christians.

Are there scriptures I don’t understand? I used to be very defensive and close-minded about questions that unbelievers or even doubtful believers had. I mostly wouldn't even listen to their questions. I took them as accusations against my God and some of them, where earnestly asking questions. I've come to finally understand that. Some of these questions I don't have an answer for. I wish I did if it would ease their minds and fortify their faith. One such question arises from verses like 4-5. A person close to me once said, If God knew beforehand the stew (His creation) was going to be bad (sin would be a part of His creation), why does He keep adding to it? Why didn't He throw out the stew? Why didn't He wipe out ALL of creation with the flood? I think because not all of the stew is ruined eternally with no hope... He has a secret ingredient (Christ) that can make some of the stew enjoyable. And God LOVES His stew. For now, we're all swimming in this pot of stew with some unsavory ingredients (maybe the juice/broth?) and Christ is the slotted spoon? He fishes the good stuff out while all the other stuff remains in the pot until God chooses to throw it out. Maybe??? I don't know. And I can't exactly explain the depth of my faith. Sometimes it holds on to me instead of me holding onto it. And I know that's God's saving Grace. Its one of the things I am most grateful for. And I don't know why not everyone feels that way.... but I wish they did. I hate that some struggle so much with doubt and faith.

Here I Go (Again) With This Blogging Thing....

Wow, its been a while. I do not do this consistent blogging thing well! Always with the good intentions but never the follow through... not with the blogging anyway. My intention this time around is to blog along with an online study, hosted by Suzie Eller, on Spiritual Growth. I have done really well about being in the Word on a near daily basis, but I've noticed I've become stagnant. This past weekend I was convicted about how my walk had become check-list oriented. My study had an agenda or an intense focus on what I wanted to learn. Now don't get me wrong, searching and praying with purpose is a great thing. But I think God is trying to let me know that I'm becoming too "busy" in my time reading and studying His Word and I haven't earnestly gone to Him seeking His will and direction first. It seems like one sure fire warning that I'm not growing is when my actions stop lining up with what I'm studying. When my walk isn't lining up with my talk. That happened this past weekend with an argument that led to melt-down between myself and my husband. And every single time this happens, whether the fault is mine or his, I can always go back and trace my steps to where I went off the path. And yesterday I found myself in my prayer closet (a small walk-in coat closet that we turned into my bible study area) feeling worthless. I felt like a pattern has shown itself in my life and that God had to be tired of hearing my apologies just as much as I was tired of saying them. I felt I was given a pretty stern warning from Matthew 5:13 about how my life is not my own and the way I behave influences, for good or bad, the lives of those closest to me and can ripple out from there. My actions have a pretty big impact on my husband and are to be an example to my children. Am I on the brink of becoming unsalty? Because in the day or two after the melt-down, I feel pretty worthless. Hmmm... I'm getting an analogy. Salt is thrown out on sidewalks and stairs to melt ice. So maybe I can remember the next time things are spiraling toward a melt-down that its a sign of worthless salt being thrown out and trampled underfoot. I love it! Thank you LORD! He knows how much I love a good analogy. Anyway.... after spending time in repentant prayer followed by my sincere paraphrasing of the Lord's Prayer, especially the part of feeding me His truth as my daily bread, He guided me to 1 Peter 2:1-3, "So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness."

Now I'm going to attempt to make my thoughts flow here... wish me luck!

James 1:22 tells me that I practice deceit whenever I spend time studying His Word yet don't apply it! "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." I'm lying to myself! I need to honestly come before the LORD with humility and pray for him to search my heart and open my eyes to my shortcomings! And its completely hypocritical of me to teach my children to act one way while I act another and then justify it by the circumstance. And I've thought about it before... what people would think if I had hidden cameras inside my home where they could see the other side of me; the tired, worn, cranky, yelling mother. The cold, pouty, angry wife who didn't get her way or who blows things out of proportion when expectations aren't met. I know we all mess up. I get that. But over and over and over again? In the same area? Proverbs 26:11 says, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness." OUCH! and EWW! I don't want to make excuses for myself, here. I want to be honest and find a standard and try my hardest to measure up. I don't want to keep making the same mistakes or re-act the same (wrong) way whenever I read in Scriptures that I'm supposed to be different. If I just say, "That's why we have grace." and brush it off I will never change. And I want to change. GROW. And jealousy, that's what caused this most recent melt-down. I was measuring our family's happiness factor against what I perceive most other Christian families to look like and I didn't feel like we were measuring up. And maybe we're not... but they don't have live video feed in their homes either, so who knows how happy they really are. I must remember, "Comparison is the thief of joy!" And you know I couldn't call this episode a melt-down if there wasn't some unkind speech. A lot of unkind speech. That's what I regret the most. And its my BIGGEST problem. I fly off at the mouth and spew all these hateful things that I feel in the moment. And every. single. time. I do, I become a fool.

So back to this concept of growth. After finding this Scripture in 1 Peter, I ended up on FaceBook and in my newsfeed is this post on growth from Suzie Eller. The timing was perfect. So without further adieu... here I go to read the first installment (not counting the intro)....

My next blog post will be my thoughts/gleanings. I really do just love her heart!