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Feeling a Little Blurry Around the Edges?

June 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Out of FocusOne of the great things about the cell phone cameras we use today is the automatic focusing feature. I’m old enough to remember using an actual camera that required fiddling with a bunch of dials before snapping the picture. Most of the time, those waiting to be photographed weren’t very patient about this process, and, oftentimes, after all that effort, the photo turned out to be out of focus after all.

As children of God, it would be nice to have this automatic focusing mechanism built into our daily lives, so that the moment our lives became blurry around the edges—from taking part in all the world has to offer, from neglecting Bible study, from participating in non-glorifying activities—then our focus would automatically be returned to our Father and to living out Christ in us, “the hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27).

However,  none of us have an automatic focusing mechanism. What we have is something even better—the Word of God.

While having a device to automatically redirect one’s  focus towards God sounds good, in reality, such a device would ultimately lead to taking God for granted, and it wouldn’t adhere to the command to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

God’s Word directs us to focus on Him in numerous passages of Scripture throughout the Old and New Testament.

One of my favorites is 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Have you lost your focus? Direct your heart today to the love of God“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Direct your heart to the steadfastness of Christ. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Spending time  with the Lord in daily Bible study brings clarity to our lives and sharpens an otherwise blurry picture.

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This Might Work!

February 26, 2019 Leave a comment

puzzleAs I continually seek to be a student and teacher of God’s Word, I encounter many different methods, programs, and suggestions about how I should memorize, use, remember, and put into practice what I’ve studied and taught, and it usually doesn’t take me very long  to recognize if something will work for me or not.

More often than not, I find myself thinking, “I will never do this” or “I can’t even begin to understand how this would work.”  However, here are three helpful suggestions I’ve come across that made me say, “This might work!”

How To Talk To God:  In this blog, Lisa gives some pointers about using God’s Word to talk to Him.  What happens when you speak God’s own words back to Him?  Find out here.

How To Walk By The Spirit:  In this sermon from John Piper on 1 Thessalonians 3, you’ll find a wonderful acronym called APTAT, which you can use to remember what to do when asked to do something you don’t believe you can do. Piper ‘s message is entitled “The Word Of God Is At Work In You,” and the application of this (which is about 30 minutes into the video if you want to watch it) is outlined in the written sermon called Applying The Text To Your Life.  Watch the video or read the sermon here.

How To View The Bible:  Along with many of you, I am reading the Bible through again this year.  In my plan I’m about to finish up Genesis, and I’ve seen the grace of God at every turn, from the moment of creation to God’s dealings with Joseph.  But this will not be the end of God’s grace.  In fact, the grace of God can be found in every book of the Bible.  Dane Ortlund outlines how every book of the Bible shows God’s grace.  You can read it here.

Maybe these suggestions will make you say, “This might work!”

2 Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Being Afraid of God

January 22, 2019 Leave a comment

fear lordBe afraid. Be very afraid. Being afraid of God seems foreign to those of us who view God as the Lover of our Soul, who sing of His blessings, and who trust Him with our eternal soul.

Yet, one can’t read the Bible without encountering the oft-repeated admonition to “fear the Lord.” Throughout the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of God’s children receiving a blessing because they fear God. Also, because of fearing God, they do what He commands them to do. (Genesis 42:18; Exodus 1:17; Exodus 18:21)

Fear of God  is not just an Old Testament concept, though. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Nevertheless, there are times in my life when I’ve struggled with the concept of what it means to fear God. That’s why, when I recently came across a definition of fearing God in Drew Dyck’s book, Yawning At Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, I spent time meditating on it.

Dyck says, “To fear the Lord is to be grounded in reality, to have an accurate view of God’s holy nature and his awesome power.”

Fearing God doesn’t mean we cower in His presence—like a dog who knows he’s displeased his master—nor does it mean we run and hide instead of joyfully approaching Him. Instead, we embrace the fear of God because we recognize His to-be-feared characteristics, such as His all-powerful wrath toward sin, His unending sovereignty, and His unapproachable holiness, are an accurate understanding of who God really is.

The  fearfulness of God is a reality, even if we don’t like it very much.

Having a true picture of God is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

We should fear God. We should  be in awe of His wrath and His judgment. Yet, at the same time, we should have peace, knowing He is shielding us from wrath, sheltering us in His arms forever.

Could I Have Your Attention, Please?

October 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Voices! We hear voices each and every day. They tell us to order this, pay attention to that, go there, come here.

Other voices post on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, our social media sites, wanting us to sign this, like that, watch that, play this.

Who merits our attention? Whose voice is the worthy voice?

A crippled old man appears in the gospel of John to answer these questions. (John 5:1-17).

He doesn’t have a name in the gospel, but everyone at the pool of Bethesda knew him. He’d been lying there for thirty-eight years, unable to take advantage of the pool’s healing properties. Then, Jesus stopped by one day, and, in one instantaneous moment, He took care of the crippled man’s lifelong problem.

Following Jesus’ instructions, the Man Made Whole gathered up his bedroll and walked away. Later, when asked by the religious leaders what he thought he was doing carrying around his bed on a Sabbath, he told them he was doing what he’d been instructed to do by the man who’d healed him, by the man who had enough authority to make him whole again.

The Man Made Whole was carrying his bed—in defiance of the religious authorities—because he recognized  someone who was able to give life to his withered limbs was someone with authority, someone worthy of his attention.

This same man, this Jesus of Nazareth, healed me one day. He healed me of a lifelong sin problem, a sickness so severe I was doomed for eternal destruction. He did so by taking sin’s disease on Himself and paying the price for it Himself. Now, he commands me to take up my life and live it for Him.

His  voice is a voice worth hearing.

Listen to His words from the rest of John 5,Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (25-26)

Getting A Little Personal

September 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Bible QuestionThere are so many ways to read the Bible. You can read it like great literature, read it for academic purposes, read it to understand a culture, read it to gain a sense of morality, or, of course, read it for a myriad of spiritual reasons—to know GOD, to know His Son, to know the working of His Spirit.

I’ve discovered the best way to read the Bible is to make it personal, to view the message of God’s Word as personal, and to understand the words as written for me—personally. How’s that for personal?

The Bible itself encourages this method of Bible study. David, speaking in Psalm 16:11, says, “You make known to me the paths of life.” David has a personal relationship with God. While it’s true the Bible has a message for all people, God intends for that message to be understood and received by each individual.

Although I read through the Bible every year, I always ask for new insight into how each day’s reading is speaking to me personally, what personal message God is intending for me in the verses, and in what way a particular Scripture can deepen my personal relationship with Him.

How personal can it get? Psalm 139 says it all.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

 

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

For a great selection of various Bible Reading Plans, click here.

Don’t Miss A Blessing

August 22, 2018 Leave a comment

Blessing

I was running late when I arrived at our church for the worship service last Sunday, so I quietly slipped in the back door and chose the first seat available.

It was on the other side of the auditorium from where my husband and I usually sit. This location on the “outer fringes” would not have suited him, but since I was alone and trying not to disturb others with my late arrival, I scooted into an empty row of seats just as the worship leader began leading the congregation in a praise song.

Within seconds, though, a middle-aged couple in front of me caught my attention. I wasn’t acquainted with them, but I could tell, by the way they sang the praise choruses with familiarity and enthusiasm, they were probably regular churchgoers. At one point during the singing, the husband looked over, smiled at his wife, slipping his arm around her waist. She, in turn, patted his hand. Their loving gestures seemed to demonstrate a worshipful delight at sharing this experience together.

As I observed their obvious love for the Lord and for each other, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.

At the beginning of the second song, the couple’s son and daughter-in-law joined the couple, appearing to apologize for their late arrival. Although I was just guessing at their relationship, the “son” was the exact height and spitting image of his “dad,” so I felt safe in making this assumption. As soon as the younger couple unashamedly greeted the older couple with hugs and kisses, they too joined in singing the worship songs.

As I observed their outward affection toward one another, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.

As soon as the pastor began his sermon, all four individuals opened their well-worn Bibles and followed along as he read the Scriptures. Each one wrote down in the worship folder the different points the pastor was emphasizing in his message. When the pastor made a humorous remark about families in his talk, the four of them looked at each other and laughed, whispering back and forth for a moment as they enjoyed the joke together.

As I observed their attentiveness and serious approach to the hearing of God’s word, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.

On my way home from church, I thought about how four ordinary people had been a blessing to me. They were not Hollywood glamorous or especially attractive from a physical standpoint. Their clothes were not expensive or fashionable. None of them spoke any words of wisdom to me or gave me any spiritual insight.

Yet, they blessed me because they were expressing their love for each other and their love for God in a worship service.

“Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” Psalm 34:3

Is it possible to know God?

May 21, 2018 Leave a comment

Know GodI was talking with a young lady who’d been a believer for several years, but who’d recently signed up for a weekly Bible study. She said, “I want to know God. I know that won’t happen if I don’t study my Bible.”

Without realizing it, this young lady had made a profound statement. There’s no way anyone can know God except through the study of Scriptures, the revelation He’s given us about Himself. The best way to learn about God is to read, study, and meditate on the love letter He’s written to us.

Although I met my husband-to-be when I was sixteen years old, we lived a thousand miles away from each other and never had the opportunity to spend any time together. I understood why my friends and family were surprised when I announced that James and I were getting married only a couple of months after my eighteenth birthday. What they failed to grasp was that James and I had been corresponding with each other regularly for almost two years, and because of those letters, we’d come to know each other as well as many couples who’d been dating for several years.

While this illustrates the concept of getting to know God through reading His Word, it fails to portray the real picture of how intimacy with God is possible through the study of His Word.

This truth can only be experienced when a believer spends time in the Word every day. This is the way God has chosen to build a relationship with His children. This is the way God speaks to His children, and this is the way His children learn to recognize the voice of the Father.

Jesus said His followers are able to discern His voice. John 10:27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  

If you truly “want to know God,” become familiar with the sound of His voice through His Word.

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