Monday, January 9, 2017

More Listening, Less Talking

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:4,6-7 (MSG)

Excellent advice. Shape your worries into prayers and receive a sense of God's wholeness. Sounds good, doesn't it?
I'm pretty good at letting God know my concerns. The problem is letting Christ displace worry. I'm not one to worry much anyway, but completely giving God my problem and letting Him have control is another thing. Maybe it's a lack of trust. Maybe it's the need for control. What's needed is patience. I need to wait for God to guide me in the situation and trust that He will. That means listening to Him for how to take my next step.

Listening means giving God time to speak.

Prayer. Quiet listening prayer. Intentionally open for God's guidance and peace.

I don't listen enough. I do most of the talking in life and in prayer. How about you?

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of our lives. (tweet this)

I believe it because I’ve experienced that confident peace that results from an intentional, intimate relationship with God.

Could you add patient listening to your morning coffee ritual?

#SeedsOfScripture #prayer #listening

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas Isn't Ever Done - God Is Still With Us

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ’God is with us.’
Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

Christmas is in the rearview mirror.

The tree has been hauled away and the decorations packed in boxes. Returns have been made and gifts are being enjoyed. December bedlam has settled into winter calm. We can breathe again and relax.

But Christmas isn’t over.
 
Christmas celebrates the birth of Emmanuel. It’s the beginning of God with us. That never ends. Jesus entered our world to live among us. Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us, is never over.

Sunday school lessons teach that Jesus lives in our hearts. That’s a beautifully simple way to explain how the Holy Spirit lives in us. Jesus was physically God with us. The Holy Spirit is the way He is with us now.

God’s presence with us should transform our lives.

We should see the people as God sees them.
We should approach situations with Jesus’ kind of love.
We should have peace instead of anxiety by trusting God’s divine plan.
We should shed fear and act boldly in following God’s direction.
We should.
 
But does His presence change our lives?

Christmas is over, but Jesus is still with us. Are we with Him? (tweet this)

The first step to transformation is spending time in His presence. He listens when we pray. He speaks to us through scripture. He is available and waiting for us to make time for Him.
 
How does having Jesus in your heart impact your everyday life?

#SeedsofScripture #transformation #Godwithus #Emmanuel

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Radars Up - Another God-incidence

Commit everything you do to the Lord; trust Him, and He will help you.
Psalm 37:5 (NLT)

If you're a regular reader you know I don't believe in coincidences. I like to call them God-incidences because I believe it's one of the way God guides us. When something seems like a coincidence my radar goes up to see what God is trying to tell me.

As such, I'm sending you over to a blog post by Dr. James Merritt at Proverbs 31 Ministries. Why? Because five days ago I chose the verse above as my first memory verse for 2017. Today Dr. Merritt's article about this verse arrived in my inbox.

Not only does his post use my memory verse, it also expresses my heart for God's Word as unrestricted access to Him. Dr. Merritt also lists the perks of spending time with God. Please head over at http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/time-well-spent/

If you'd like to join me in memorizing 2 verses per month, check out this post.

#SeedsofScripture #scripture #relationshipwithGod

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rejoice Because Hope Comes From Suffering? What?

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

Rejoice in our suffering? Find hope from perseverance and character? It doesn’t make sense.

Because our use of the words suffering, perseverance, character and hope has changed significantly from the original Greek meaning we must investigate a little to understand. The following reworded and expanded version reflects the original intent:

We don’t only rejoice when life is good, but also when faced with problems and trials (suffering) because we know these difficulties challenge us to trust God’s faithfulness (perseverance). Each problem we endure with our eyes on God is evidence that our faith has been tested and proven strong (character). These experiences give us confident expectation (hope) that God is trustworthy.

Hope is about trust, which grows one experience at a time.

We don’t instantly trust a rickety wooden bridge spanning a deep ravine. We take an uncertain step testing if it holds up. We shift our weight forward listening for creaks and snaps before taking another tentative step. Each successful step increases our confidence in the bridge. After several secure steps our perspective changes and we expect the bridge to support us.

Similarly, when faced with our first trial we question “Where is God?” But each time God shows Himself to be trustworthy our faith strengthens and our hope becomes more certain.

Hope is this confident expectation of God’s goodness that increases with each experience of perseverance and tested faith. So while rejoicing in suffering seems unfathomable, trials can strengthen our hope.

Rejoicing in suffering sounds crazy, but trials can strengthen our confidence in God. (tweet this)

How does understanding hope as confident expectation change your perspective?
 
I’m guest posting on Sweet to the Soul’s Facebook page. Check out their fun scripture coloring pages, bookmarks and Bible journaling resources at
#SeedsofScripture @_SweetToTheSoul #AnchoredHope
 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Making God's Words Our Own

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.
Proverbs 3:1 (NLT)

Are you ready for a challenge?

I have been promoting scripture memorization for years and the time has come to challenge you. Along with Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries blog, I’d like us to memorize 2 verses per month in 2017. You can do it! We can do it together.

Jesus memorized scripture. He sprinkled scripture in His conversations and teachings. He used it to stand strong against temptation, to respond to challenges, and to teach his disciples. He tells us His words are spirit and life (John 6:63).

We won’t become superhero Christians or earn gold stars by memorizing. We’ll store God’s words in our hearts so they come to mind when needed. Verses that provide strength, purpose, peace and comfort will become personal. God’s word can replace anxiety, increase our resolve, and transform our attitudes.

Believe it is possible. Ask for God’s direction. Grab one or more partners.

Let’s join together to encourage each other, share practical tips and provide accountability. If you are interested in joining me in a small group, please email me at cathychungblog@gmail.com. We’ll communicate online and those who are local can meet for coffee occasionally to practice with each other.

God’s Word is alive and transforming. Store them in your heart so they become your own. (tweet this)

Will you join me in learning 24 verses in 2017?

#SeedsOfScripture #2017 #scripture

Friday, December 30, 2016

Your Personal Assessment to Wrap Up 2016

We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:1-3 (NLT)

‘Tis the season for year-end reviews and New Year resolutions. News summaries portray a difficult year, political turmoil and celebrity deaths. But I prefer Best of 2016 lists like medical breakthroughs, progress toward ending human trafficking and steps taken to end poverty and hunger.

I also value an honest, balanced personal assessment.

Some choose one focus word for 2017 and others set goals. Most of us resist the significant effort and self-reflection that make these practices meaningful. However, turning the calendar page is an appropriate time to evaluate the year’s highs and lows so we can identify areas needing improvement.

Today’s graphic from Holley Gerth provides a starting point. In addition to the general successes and failures, please consider your relationship with God and your interaction with His Word.

How has your faith changed since this time last year?
How was God active in your life?
What habits drew you into deeper relationship or distracted you from Him?
What motivates your 2017 goals?

Self-reflection and prayer are the foundation for meaningful goal setting. (tweet this)
 
I’d love to support you in growing your relationship with God. It might be finding a local Bible study, online daily devotion, Bible reading plan, prayer partner or online faith discussion group. If you’d like help, email me at cathychungblog@gmail. Spending time in God’s Word and at His feet has transformed my life so I’d love to encourage you in your journey.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you involve God when setting goals?

#SeedsOfScripture #newyear #2017 #selfreflection

Sunday, December 11, 2016

God's View of Humanity

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 (NLT)

I absolutely love the beauty of our world. I love landscapes of forested snow capped peaks as much as ocean sunrises. I enjoy a mountaintop view as well as one from the valley. While we notice the heights and depths on our planet, and they create beauty, the view of earth from space is of a smooth, blue and green sphere. Oceans are distinguishable from land masses, and elevation by shades of green, but the surface is level.

God has the same view of humanity – each of us is different but not higher or lower, not better or worse.

However, we live in a world of comparisons, constantly sizing ourselves up against others. Where do we rank? Are we more wealthy, popular, educated, fit, stressed. Even if we try not to judge, we mentally take note. Are we more godly, more ethical, more generous?

None of us is godlier than another. Our standards of good, fair and equal don’t sync with God’s. We all sin – differently, but not more or less. Each of us is God’s beloved child to whom He extends the same undeserved mercy. God looks at each of us eye-to-eye and sees His image.

We all hold prejudices.

Identifying our prejudices is a step toward correcting them. (tweet this)

To what class of people do you feel superior?
What person in your family or community do you feel better than?
Who do you think would be better if only they’d exercise or stop drinking or quit gossiping or parent differently or get a job?

Arrest those judgmental thoughts and ask God to show you His image in that person. This isn’t easy.

What prejudice do you need to address?

#SeedsOfScripture #prejudice #sin