Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When I Get Bossy With God

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
Luke 22:42 (NIV)

I often pray for a Christian friend who has devoted her life to serving God. However I see gifts in her that God isn’t utilizing so I tell Him about her amazing abilities. I tell Him to provide an opportunity for her gifts to bless others. I tell God to clearly reveal His direction for her life.

I tell God……

What if God has her exactly where He wants her? I laugh at myself for even thinking “what if”. Her heart is close to Him in prayer and praise, I’m sure God is using her in just the right place. Who am I to presume otherwise? Who am I to tell God He’s doing it wrong?

Do you ever tell God what to do?

Example: Dear God, open Kay’s eyes to see that Jack isn’t the right guy and help Danny get the bank job.

We boss God around without trusting that He’s in control.

Is it wrong to ask for specific outcomes? No, God wants to hear our desires when humbly framed with ‘not my will, but yours be done’. Even Jesus asked God to spare him the suffering but submitted to God’s answer.

Modification: God you know my concerns, please guide Kay and Jack’s relationship. God, Danny needs a job, may he get the bank job if it’s the right fit.

Do I pray this way? No, but I try to be aware when I’m being bossy and include a cover-all prayer like “this is my heart God, but you know what’s best.”

These are my heart’s desires, Lord, but you know what’s best. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #Godisincontrol #heartsdesire

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Power of Three Small Words

God has saved us.
2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

We’ve heard it a thousand or more times. God saved us.

Or maybe the phrase we’ve heard over and over is ‘God loves us’ and it just seems like the same idea.

Let’s consider the meaning of these three small words ‘God saved us’.

This statement separates Christianity from every other religion. No other god saves. They set a standard that followers must attain in order to earn approval. Not so with God.

2 Timothy 1:9 continues: not because of anything we have done.

God did the work in Jesus. His sacrifice guaranteed our acceptance.

Christianity is unique because the one who set the standard also did the saving. (tweet this)

This gift is freely offered to all who acknowledge two beliefs. The first is its truth. We must believe that Jesus is God wrapped in flesh because only He has the authority to forgive sin and grant acceptance.

The second is to admit we need saving, that we are incapable of meeting God’s standard on our own. While a humble confession might feel like failure, it’s a beautiful admission because it allows for a Savior.

A humble confession might feel like failure, but the beautiful admission allows for a Savior.  (tweet this)

Our God saves. Have you considered the uniqueness of Christianity?

#SeedsOfScripture #salvation #confession

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why Bother to Plan?

Get all the advice and instruction you can and be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 19:20-21(NLT)

That second sentence ruffles my feathers.

We have no control over our future? Are we just God’s puppets? Why bother with goals and dreams?

Yup. That’s my gut reaction. What’s your first response to this verse?

Since this idea doesn’t align with what I believe about God, I looked into the original language and a few commentaries.  I concluded that the word ‘purpose’ is misleading and we must consider the two verses together.

Although most translations use the word purpose, the original Hebrew means advice, counsel and purpose. Verses 20 and 21 together encourage us to eagerly absorb God’s instruction so our independent decisions will wisely align with His good, fruitful, and fulfilling way of life.

No matter our politics, our laws or our church doctrine, God’s truth cannot be changed. We can stray far from His advice, but the underlying wisdom in it remains.

In addition, we do make plans – plans about how to spend our time, plans to make a name for ourselves and lots of money, plans for our families, plans to eliminate homelessness or hunger, plans for a comfortable, secure retirement. Some of our plans, but not all, align with God’s teaching.

In the end, the one who follows God’s counsel will succeed. (tweet this)

I find this is very encouraging.

I’m reading, learning and sharing alongside you while claiming no expertise. Do you see a different message in these verses?

#SeedsOfScripture #proverbs #wisdom

Monday, October 10, 2016

When I Don't Like a Bible Verse

For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:30-31(NLT)

I don’t like some Bible verses. I usually ignore these ‘bad’ verses, but for some reason God whispered "Don't skip this one".

I don’t believe in revenge. I don’t want to think about judgment. And falling into the hands of the living God is not terrible for me at all, but provides comfort and strength.

But scripture is true whether I like it or not. (tweet this)

Today’s verse reminds us that our loving, forgiving God who sent Jesus to erase all our sins is at the same time “a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deut. 4:24).

Cross references point to Deuteronomy 32:35-39 which The Message translates:

       “I’m in charge of vengeance and payback….”

Yes, God will judge his people, but oh how compassionately he’ll do it. When he sees their weakened plight and there is no one left… he’ll say,

“So where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge...Let them show their stuff and help you, let them give you a hand!

Do you see it now? Do you see that I’m the one? Do you see that there’s no other god beside me? I bring death and I give life, I wound and heal – there is no getting away from or around me!”

We could dismiss revenge, payback and judgment as Old Testament anger, but Hebrews is in the New Testament. God taunts us for turning to other sources of comfort and strength, but judges us compassionately.

God is jealous of our gods. (tweet this)

Can you identify your gods that make God jealous?

#SeedsOfScripture #judgment #jealousGod

Sunday, October 9, 2016

First Things First

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:36-39 (NLT)

What are the characteristics of the best person you know?

Go ahead - create a mental list.

My list included qualities like kind, thoughtful, honest, generous, and encouraging. Yes? What other wonderful attributes did you include?

Everyone has bad days, but most of the time we strive to be this Best Person. We’re a caring bunch. We are good neighbors.

Is God pleased that we’re good people? Is that what He wants?

Yes. And no.

When asked to rank God’s commandments, Jesus says the most important thing is to love God. Love God first. Love God with all. Loving God is our greatest endeavor.

Did ‘loves God’ make your list of Best Person attributes? Not mine. While serving God was the underlying motivation of my Best Person, loving Him wasn’t required.

A Best Person without love for God is like a coffee cup that is clean on the outside for all to see, but stained on the inside.

Our hearts matter more than our good deeds.

That’s not to say loving others isn’t important. Jesus ranks it as the second most important commandment after loving God.

As we strive to become our Best Person, are our priorities in line with Jesus’ ranking? Are we thanking, praising, and loving God as we ought?

Let’s hang out with God as much as with those we serve. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #lovingGod #goodperson

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why We Accept Everyone

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
Romans 15:7(NLT)

Guess what?

I’m not perfect.

That’s no surprise, but the fact is, we’re all a mess in some way.

But Christ accepts us, warts and all. He doesn’t care about our bank account, ethnicity, sex life, gender, circumstances or proverbial baggage. He welcomes us ‘as is’. Then through relationship He transforms our hearts. Agreed?

Now read today’s scripture again paying close attention to the tiny connecting phrases.

Did you see the words just as?

Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you. Didn’t we just agree that Jesus takes us no matter who we are or what mess we’re in?

Did you also notice so that?

We must accept everyone so that God will get the glory. They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, oh they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Sorry, I got carried away.

God gets the glory because the Christian community stands out. We love so differently from the main stream that it’s noticeable. People are attracted to us by our sincere welcome. And it’s authentic, without selfish motives, simply because Jesus has accepted us.

As a whole we are not doing this well yet, but it’s the goal.

One Christian at a time.

One warm welcome at a time.

Who do you need to accept just as Christ accepted you? Is it an individual or a group of people?

They’ll know we are Christians by our love. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #byourlove #acceptance


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Worth More than a Glance

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14(NLT)

Don’t skim.

I know. I do it too - glaze over the benedictions Paul uses to close his letters.

But I want you to understand this beautiful summary of the Trinity.

God is love, but what is love without someone to receive it? So God created us so He could love us and we could love Him. God’s love created relationship.

God’s love never faltered, but we sinned, preventing us from being in His Presence. What is relationship and love if we can’t be together? God remedied that problem by sacrificing His Son.

Out of God’s great love, He gave us grace.

Grace comes from Jesus whose blood washes away every single mistake we make and removes all guilt. Our sin is gone - doesn’t exist. In God’s eyes it never happened. Grace.

But that’s not all. Then God filled us with fellowship.

To me, fellowship refers to the time before or after the Sunday service when people gather and talk. What’s the real meaning of fellowship? You know me. I looked it up.

Among many definitions, fellowship means partnership, participation, sharing, communion (not bread and wine, but coming together as one).

It’s beautiful.

We are one with God through the Holy Spirit. (tweet this)

We’re in partnership with the Holy Spirit – or rather, the Holy Spirit partners with us, participates with us in the work of God, shares with us the meaning of scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:10 says “His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”

The implications blow my mind.

Can you even fathom the power in you because of the Holy Spirit’s fellowship?

#SeedsOfScripture #Trinity #fellowship