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Are You an Overcomer?

overcome: (1) to get the better of in competition, struggle, etc.; conquer (2) to master, prevail over, or surmount [to overcome obstacles] (3) to make helpless; overpower or overwhelm [overcome by pity]  SYN: conquer


Look out, Old Testament!  I'm almost finished with the New Testament and have started the book of Revelation.  What an interesting book, huh?  I think it is amazing that the disciple John was put away on the island of Patmos as punishment for his Christian beliefs and to squelch the word of God and yet what happened?  He has a dream/vision and hears the very words of Jesus again!!  When God wants to be heard, he will be heard!

In Revelation 1, Jesus tells John to write about the things he saw, both present and future.  "Blessed is he who reads and  those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near." (Rev 1:3)   For the record, not that you haven't probably figured this out already, but I'm not a bible scholar, just someone doing the best I can to figure everything out.  With that said, we won't be delving into the deep, deep, prophecy, but I do bet that you will be blessed by what God showed me today.

The first vision that John wrote about concerned the seven churches in Asia (Rev 2:-3).  What is cool is that there is still something in these passages personally for you and for me.  Each church, although mentioned by name specifically at the time, can represent different churches in today's world as well, each with their own strengths and weakness.  What  really struck me in my reading was that Jesus not only had advice for each of the churches, but also inc luded a promise to those who were obedient and overcame their issues.  Let's take a look.

1) Ephesus - Left its first love, the love of God.  Jesus commanded them to come back to their first love.

Promise: They will get to eat from the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)

2) Smyrna - This church was going through some persecution.  Jesus told them to be faithful.

Promise:  They will not be hurt by the second death.  (i.e. they will have eternal life) (Rev 2:11, see also 1 John 5:4-5)

3) Pergamos - Was accepting Satanic influences in their church.   Obviously, Jesus wanted them to change their ways.

Promise: Repentance would be rewarded by hidden manna and a new name personally for them, known only by Jesus. (Rev 2:17)

4) Thyatira - They were just plain corrupt.  Again, Jesus wanted them to repent and hold on to the good things.

Promise: To the faithful who would stick to what was right, Jesus promised that they would rule over nations. (Rev 2:6).

5) Sardis - The dead church.  Jesus told the few who were not corrupt to hold fast and repent. 

Promise:  Those who overcame problems in this church would be "clothed in white garments".  Their names would not be blotted out of the Book of Life. Jesus would confess their names before God. (Rev 3:5)

6) Philadelphia - The faithful church.  Jesus wanted them to hold tightly to what they had through the upcoming tribulations.

Promise: Those who were faithful will be made "pillars in the temple" of God.  They will be identified with the name of God, the city of God & New Jerusalem.

7) Laodiceans - Lukewarm and spat out.  Jesus wants them to repent and come back to Him.

Promise:  If they became zealous for God again, they would be rewarded by being granted the priviledge of sitting with Jesus on His throne.

Can anyone see a common theme here?  All of these churches had issues, just like all of us have issues.  The good news is that if we humble ourselves before God and change our ways, we will be rewarded in the end for our obedience...no matter how far away we had drifted in the past.  Isn't that awesome news?

So , my question is, are you an overcomer? What is it in your life that Jesus is asking you to overcome? We all can be through the power of Christ in us.  Now that is some great news to me.


Yes I Will

I just got home a couple of hours ago from being occupied with church and family actiivities all day.  Easter.  This one was a special one for me.  I had the opportunity to watch the "Passion of the Christ" on Good Friday on the same day I studied about agape love in the LBY study.  Yesterday, I was fortunate to be able to take part in the Lord's Supper at a special Easter service at church and today I experienced answered prayer in that some family members attended our Easter service.  Furthermore, I volunteered to help serve in the kindergarten Sunday school class and was tremendously blessed by hearing the gospel story taught to our children in its simplest form.   What would the world be like if we could all look at God through child's eyes?  I bet the world would be a better place.

With that said, I want to share with you the lyrics of a song that touched my heart when I first heard it last year and still affects me deeply now.  When I hear it, because I'm reminded of Jesus' sacrifice for me, I'm inspired to follow Him in giving my life in service to Him.  I pray that seeing the words will do the same for you.

Yes I Will - by Bebo Norman, from the CD "Try"

In the passion of your sacrifice
I saw the prophecy fulfilled
Healer of the world, the wounded Christ
I heard you say come follow me
So I will, yes I will

Follow you Jesus all the way up that hill
Follow you Jesus all the way up that hill
To the cross where the river runs
Crimson even still, yes I will
Follow you Lord, I will

On the sacred path you bled for us
Scorned and broken up that hill
How terrible the cross, how glorious
I heard you say come follow me
So I will, yes I will

Follow you Jesus all the way up that hill
To the cross where the river runs
Crimson even still, yes I will
Follow you Lord, I will

In my weakness when I feel afraid
Hear me Jesus when I call your name
Won't you help me Lord
Won't you help me Lord
Please help me Lord
Can you help me Lord


LBY Week 3-Love

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In week 3 of our Living Beyond Yourself (LB Y) study we focused on love.  Learning what love is and what love isn't.  Learning about how that no matter how much I think I've grown as a Christian in the past few years, I still have way more to learn and that God will always remind me of that fact.    This brings me to the concept of agape love.

Agape love.  Commitment rather than feeling.  Unconditional.  Not a new concept for me, however when I am forced to examine my life in the light of scripture I find myself dreadfully lacking here.  Not with everyone, but in certain corners of my world.  Why do I have to be so impatient?  God is patient with me, no? 

God is patient, God is kind.  God loved the world including you and me so much that He sent His only Son from His home in heaven down to earth to bear the punishment for the sins of all of us so that we might inherit eternal life.  We celebrate His death today and His glorious resurrection in 2 more days.  I thought it was really cool that I ended this week's homework today (Good Friday) and the discussion was about God's agape love for us. Love in action.  Charity.  We celebrate that ultimate act of love today.  How precious.

I guess I'll conclude today by sending everyone here.  It was my post from earlier today, inspired by LBY's lesson today.  I didn't label it LBY because I was trying to play by the "rules" after all and not post early.   I pray that everyone is able to take some time the next few days and remember what the Easter holiday is all about.  I also pray that each on of us can seek to be more like Jesus in how we love others.

Addie Heather* Carol
M Rach Jeana
Jenn Amanda MamaB
GiBee Boomama Maria
Blair Heather Nancy
Janna Flipflop Robin
Sherry Patricia Tara
Lauren HolyMama! Faith
Christy Eph2810 Karin
Leann Rachel Janice
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

The Greatest Love

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13

I just watched the most awful murder in history.  Okay, it wasn't live, but I just finished watching "The Passion of the Christ" a few minutes ago.  My husband said I didn't have to go in to the office today.  It is a beautiful spring day - Good Friday, even - and I decided that I would take the morning before he returned home to celebrate what Jesus did for me.  This is my third time seeing the movie, and I was worried at the first of it that watching it again would de-sensitize me to what really happened that day.  Well, not to worry.  I think I cried more this time around than any time before.  Maybe it is because today is Good Friday, the day commemorating Jesus' death, maybe it is because I'm closer to God than ever before in my Christian walk, or perhaps it was because this morning in the LBY study I studied about agape love, I don't know.  At any rate, I plan on living today being thankful for my Savior's sacrifice.

As I sit here with dried tears on my face, I'm reminded of a few pages of a book describing how Jesus must have suffered during His trial and in the hours before His death.  It is a little long, but I am compelled to share it here, and it is definitely worth the read.  As you read, please remember that these are an author's thoughts about what happened and what Jesus might have been thinking at the time.  Also remember, that Jesus knows what it is like to suffer and feels your pain too. 


Excerpt from "When God Weeps" by Joni Eareckson Tada, p. 52-54

Who can describe the whirlwind of the succeeding hours?  Could so many lies really be told at a single trial?  Could so much sin be poured into one court room?  The drowning ones he had come to rescue screamed that he be thrown from the lifeboat.  God had claimed to be God - what could be worse!  God had kept his sworn promise to send a Messiah - how ridiculous!  In the wee hours of that morning, Sodom and Gomorrah came to look virginal next to Jerusalem.  Later, in the brighter light of day and to the background of a pressing crowd screaming insanities, Pilate washed away centuries of Roman justice in his finger bowl.

The Savior was now thrown to men quite different from the eleven.  The face that Moses had begged to see - was forbidden to see - was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20).  The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth's rebellion now twisted around his own brow.  His back, buttocks, and the rear of his legs felt the whip - soon they looked like the plowed Judean fields outside the city.  " On with the blindfold!" someone shouts.  "That's it - now spin him.  Who hit you?  Heh, heh."  By the time the spitting is through, more saliva is on him than in him.  No longer can he be recognized.  "Cut him down from the post!  Send him toting his crossbar to the playground."  Up Skull Hill to the welcome of other poorly paid legionnaires enjoying themselves.

"On your back with you!" One raises a mallet to sink in the spike.  But the soldier's heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner's wrist.  Someone must sustain the soldier's life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own.  Who supplies breath to his lungs?  Who gives energy to his cells?  Who holds his molecules together?  Only by the Son do "all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17).  The victim wills that the soldier live on - he grants the warriors continued existence.  The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm - the sensations it would be capable of.  The design proves flawless - the nerve performs exquisitely. "Up you go!" They lift up the cross.  God is on display in his underwear, and can scarcely breath.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread.  He begins to feel a foreign sensation.  Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart.  He feels  dirty.  Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being - the living excrement from our souls.  The apple of his Father's eye turns brown with rot.

His Father!  He must face His Father like this!

From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross.  Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath.  But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky.  The Son does not recognize these eyes.

"Son of Man! Why have you behaved so?  You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped - murdered, envied, hated, lied.  You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten - fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed.  Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned!  Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name?  Have you ever held your razor tongue?  What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk - you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents.  Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons?  Does the list never end!  Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp - buying politicians, practicing extortion, filming pornography, accepting bribes.  You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves - relishing each morsel and bragging about it all.  I hate, I loathe these things in you!  Disgust for everything about you consumes me!  Can you not feel my wrath?"

Of course the Son is innocent.  He is blamelessness itself.  The Father knows this.  But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must take place.  Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart's treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin.  Jehovah's stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.

"Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!"

But heaven stops its ears.  The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply. 

The Trinity had planned it.  The Son endured it.  The Spirit enabled him.  The Father rejected the Son whom he loved.  Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished.  The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied.  The Rescue was accomplished.

God set down his saw.

This is who asks us to trust him when he calls us to suffer.


Confidence

I John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, heareth us: 15 and we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we desired of him.

I just know that someone out there needs these words today.  I just know it.  This passage has been on my mind for the last few days.  Everyone around me, including me a little bit, seems to be stressed out because they have so much going on and such little time to get things done.  Is anyone else feeling a little overwhelmed?

I read my bible and I get overwhelmed by the vast amount of treasure included in its pages.  I want to know more of it but I want to know it now.  Patience is definitely something I need to work on some more.  How did I get off track anyway?   Janna, "One thing/thought at a time."... There is so much to glean and remember from the pages of God's word that we really do need to be reminded from time to time of all of the promises therein.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad these promises are written down for me to stumble onto from time to time. 

So how does this relate to confidence anyway?  We can have confidence in God because He always does what He says He will do.  We can have confidence in our lives and in our circumstances because our God who always does what He says is always there to listen to us.  And, the closer we get to Him, the more we know what to ask and the more prayers of ours will be answered.  Now, that is confidence.  No more worries about having to control everything going on around us.  God has it under control.

Prayer relieves stress if we remember to do it.  Why?  Please recall what I have mentioned above.  We have the written word to remind us that God hears and answers our prayers.  How cool!  We need to stop worrying, start praying and then start waiting.  ( I know, the waiting is not a fun thing)

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD.

Wait, wait, wait.   There is no picking the short checkout line for us!  But just think.  If we wait on God to answer our prayers that were asked in accordance with God's will, we will have increased faith and strong hearts.   But wait, there is more!  (Sorry, had to make a play on "wait")

1 John 3:23 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Whatsover we ask.  If we are walking closely with God, He will draw close to us (James 4:8) and will guide us in our thoughts and actions.  The closer we are to Him, the more accurately our prayers will reflect God's will because we will be filled with the discernment of His Holy Spirit. 

To think about:

1) Am I trying to do too many things at once?   Have I asked the ultimate Multi-tasker for help?

2) Am I trying to help God by doing things in my own timing?

3) Am spending enought time in God's word so that I'm reminded to wait, to pray and to trust?


Wonder Working Power

Alternate Title: Living on the Edge

Isn't faith fun?  We get persecuted for our faith, challenged by our faith, encouraged by our faith and we have to work for our faith.  The testing of our faith produces patience.  But, in order to get faith in the first place we need to have faith.  What in the world is that all about anyway?  Okay, I know what that is all about, but isn't it deep?  So deep.  Deep, but fun, huh?

I've mentioned before that our church is just starting a brand new life stage because we have just moved into a new building and don't know where God is taking us from there.  In speaking to some friends, I've said that I feel like I'm on a new roller coaster - and I love them, by the way, the bigger/faster/wilder, the better - and I'm going up the first hill.  Can you hear the "click,click, click, click, click" of the cars locking in as we are pulled upwards.  What is over the hill?  None of us can see that clearly because we've never been here before.  That is where faith comes in.  Soon we will all be feeling the "wind in our hair" as the excitement becomes reality.

How does the thrill of the unknown affect you?  Does it energize you are make you fearful?  The good news is that God is in control and gives us all the power to survive change.  He supplies us with all that we need to do what He has called us to do.   Without fail.  I'm closing today with a letter from me included in our April newsletter.  Guys who are reading, please don't check out just because the letter is addressed to my ladies.  The principles still apply. 

Dear Women of Grace,

I’m so excited about my letter to you this month. God has so much in store for each of you, more than you can even imagine (1 Cor 2:9). Did you know that? More importantly, do you believe it? After hearing Pastor Tim speak a couple of Sundays ago about how Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding of Cana (John 2), I can’t stop thinking about what God can do in our lives if we just let Him have complete control. Those servants were people just like you and I. They simply did what Jesus asked them to do.

What is God asking you to do for Him today? What is your answer to Him? Do you realize that when God asks you to do something for Him that He will supply all that you need to get it done? Remember again that the servants were just doing what they were asked and Jesus did the rest. Let me reiterate…Jesus did the rest. Our Old Testament Moses didn’t have anything to offer but the shepherd’s rod that was in his hand, and God used him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Now, Moses is someone I can relate to with all of his excuses! Oh, I wish I could look each one of you in the eyes and tell you how important you are in God’s plan and to not be afraid to step out in faith and do what He is asking of you right now!

So what are we waiting for? As Christians we have access to the greatest power the world has ever known! All we have to do is plug in to the Source through daily time of prayer and bible reading. It really is that simple. God can turn the "water" of our lives into "wine" any time that He wants to…and believe me, He wants to do it so that others will see your miracle happen and will know that He is God.

He is God. Our God is God and wants to use us in a mighty way. Let’s get to work and let Him be glorified!

In Him,

Janna


Full Joy

Does anyone want to have joy in their life?  Can I hear an "Amen"?  God says we can have it - fully - and even tells us how to get it.  Joy comes through fellowship with God and through subsequent fellowship with other believers.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:3-4)

If having joy is so simple, then why don't more of us have it more of the time?   I contend that many of us do not have the close relationship with God that we need to have in order to have sustained joy.  We are walking in darkness because we don't have enough light in our lives to illuminate them to have that sweet fellowship.

But if we walk in the light, as he (Jesus) is in the light, we have fellowship one with another...  (1 John 1:7)

Can you see that fellowship is more than just getting together and sharing a potluck lunch?  Sorry, the phrase "fun and fellowship" just came to mind as a flashback from my church going days as a kid!  Fellowship with another believer involves God!  There are few things the world can offer that are as awesome as time spent with a fellow Christian sharing what God is teaching us and maybe even sharing a time of prayer.  Nothing.  However, we can't have true fellowship if we aren't walking in the "light". 

So how can we walk in the "light"?  Do you remember that Jesus is the "...true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."?   Let me tell you, I don't think that Jesus was a flourescent bulb!! :)  We need to get close to Jesus to walk in the light.  Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is also the true vine and that we need to abide in Him so that we will have an abundant life.  This abiding must have something to do with spending quiet time alone with Him in His word because why else would Jesus say the following:

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in  you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

Doesn't this just get better and better? I'm so glad I can share with you "live" my sweet time with God today.  Now we've included prayer into the mix.  I could go on forever here, but don't worry, I'm about to wrap up.  If we abide in the vine who is also the true light, we could probably surmise that we would be walking in the light, right?  And if we walk in the light, we will have fellowship with God, Jesus and fellow believers and consequently will have that full joy.  Life would be pretty joyous if we were walking so closely in His will that all of our prayers were answered now wouldn't it? 

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.  (John 15:11)

God wants us to be joyful, wants us to know how to be and doesn't want us to forget it either.   Aren't you glad that the mind of God was put into black, white, and red so that we could know how to live fruitful and joyous lives no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in?  I know that I am. 

Lord, thank You so much for this incredible time with You this late afternoon in the quiet of my home.  I pray right now that I can maintain a close walk with You no matter how busy I get with life's demands.  I pray that You will never cease to draw me to You , that You will never cease to amaze me and that I will hear your calling always.  Please let me never forget that without You I am nothing and that your joy is my strength.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:10 ... the joy of the Lord is your strength.


LBY Week 2-To Live By the Spirit

Week 2 of our "Livng Beyond Yourself" study ended this week.  I am always amazed that no matter how many times I have studied a particular topic or read a certain bible passage that God always uses it in a fresh new way for me.  This week, much of the subject of the Holy Spirit was review for me, but I still enjoyed it and gleaned some new things from it.  God's word is alive and unsearchable, amen?

Starting with the video, I was majorly impacted by the steps to being filled with the Spirit - How we need to pour out ourselves to God in confession of sins and releasing our burdens to Him so that we can be filled up with Him and be able to give of ourselves to others.  I've spent a lot of time in the "pouring out" this week. That has been good.

So is anyone else ready to become more than a "mere" woman through the power of the Holy Spirit?  I know that I am!  But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself thinking about Super Woman, now aren't I?  Our pastor alluded to this - not Superwoman - in his sermon on Sunday pertaining to Jesus' first miracle at the wedding in Cana.  Addie and I thought it was so cool that this sermon went so well with what we had been learning through this study.  It also reminded me of an earlier post I had made on this subject of how God turns the "water" of our lives into "wine" for His glory.  Check it out here.

As I review the lessons right now, I'm reminded of how hard it is to boil down the lessons into one simple blog post.  There is so much that was my "favorite" part!  I think now I'm just going to quote some of my favorites from here on and call it a night.  Here goes:

Quenching the Spirit  (Eph 4:30) - It saddens me to think of how much I personally make God sad or grieve every single day when I fail Him.  When Beth Moore stated that to grieve someone would be to "break his heart", that cut me to my core.   I wonder how much I really quench the Spirit of God in my life?  Lord, help me to let even my instincts be glorifying to You!

The burden of revival and the healing of a nation fall upon the prayers of God's people. (Lesson 5, p. 44) --- Do I need to say anymore about that one?  Just read 2 Chr 7:14 if you want to be convicted some more.

Judge things not people. (p.45) - What a great way to put the whole judgment thing down into words.  I loved it.  We can't judge someone's heart, because only God can do that accurately, but we are able to discern what actions are right or wrong because we can see them.

The spiritual life will never come "naturally".  (p. 45) We must be deliberate.  I liked particularly how Beth says that "Certainly God wills us to 'grow in the knowledge' of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be thoroughly furnished; but the issue of spirituality rests upon "yieldedness" to the Holy Spirit's control."  What was so cool to me was that in my daily reading this came up as well.  Check out this if you like.

Well, that is all I'm going to write here.  I need to get to bed!!! I'm looking forward to hearing from each of you and reading your posts as well.  To the readers who are not participating in this study, I still welcome your insights on the topics presented.  The list of participants is below.

Addie Heather* Carol
M Rach Jeana
Jenn Amanda MamaB
GiBee Boomama Maria
Blair Heather Nancy
Janna Flipflop Robin
Sherry Patricia Tara
Lauren HolyMama! Faith
Christy Eph2810 Karin
Leann Rachel Janice
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

Using Our Brains

Before I get into the meat of my post, I would like to make sure that everyone understands my position on "head knowledge".  People who know me - and regular readers, you are probably getting to know me - know how much of an importance that I place on regular daily bible reading.  Please, please, do not take my dedication to "preaching" about regular bible reading as my taking a legalistic approach to the discipline of daily quiet time.  Christianity that is solely based on checking daily tasks off of a list will not get anyone very far.  However, without the discipline taking place first, we will never get to the point of a change of heart, causing us to love God's word enough to apply it to our lives and allowing us to be filled with God's love to share to others.  Now....on to the post.


Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 that we should love God with all of our heart, soul and mind.   To me, the heart and soul part are the easiest things to understand and probably the hardest to do.  But what about the mind?  How do we love God with our minds?  My first thought would be that we need to make sure that our thoughts our pure, taking every thought captive to what God would have us to think, thinking on the pure, honest and true (2 Cor 10:5, Phil 4:8). 

But then, I read about how much God wants us to know Him and how much He delights in it.  (Jer 9:23-24).  I read about how we blessed we are who delight in His word (Psalm 1:1-3) and how through it is the only way we can achieve success according to God in Joshua 1:8.  What brought this on, you may ask?  Well, in my reading this morning in 2 Peter 1 (KJV), I see that the word "knowledge" is mentioned  5 times in the chapter and the word "knowing" is mentioned twice.  Isn't the act of "knowing" associated with our minds as well as "knowledge"?  Paul is often concerned, as he his in his letter to Peter, about the Christians being led astray by false teachers.  The best way to not be deceived either by our own minds and feelings or by others is by knowing the Truth so well that we can spot a counterfeit immediately.

So, my friends, my question today is: Are we using our minds for God?  Do we study our bibles or do we just read them?  Do we not read them at all maybe, because we are relying on our past knowledge? Or do we think that we can come to God without the knowledge of Him just because we already have that warm and fuzzy "spiritual" feeling? If we neglect this portion of our love for God, we may wind up in serious trouble!  Feelings change and knowledge fades, but the written Word of God remains forever. 

I know, we've all been to school at one time in our lives.  Studying may not be that fun.  But the benefits are tremendous.  If we study our bibles, really study them with our minds, we can...

  • Discover the hidden treasure that God has for us.  How can we know and partake in the great and precious promises of God if we don't read about them? (2 Peter 1:4)
  • Give an answer or "a word in season" to someone in need. (1 Peter 3:15, Isaiah 50:4)  How can we have "the tongue of the learned" if we don't try to learn?
  • Keep ourselves from sin. (Psalm 119:11)  How can we turn our minds to pure thoughts if we aren't sure what those are?
  • Be strong and fight against spiritual warfare. (Eph 6:10-17) How can fight against spiritual attacks, and they are real, if we don't know our "weapon"?

Can anyone see that the possibilities are endless here?  I could go on and on....but you'd probably get tired of reading.  Anyway, I guarantee that your bible is better reading than this blog! :)  Take a few minutes today if you haven't already and see what God has in store for you in His Word.  If you ask Him to, I bet He'll show you something cool.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


Use the "Rod" in Your Hand

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11

What do these words tell you?  They are commandments to me, yet they are still realistic expectations from God.  Did you notice where the abilities to serve came from?  They came directly from God.    When I read this passage I immediately thought of one of my favorite bible characters, Moses, who when God was first trying to get him to serve him, Moses kept throwing up reasons why he wasn't good enough. (See Exodus 3-4)

Moses was good enough to serve God, as are we.  He just needed to use the talents that God had given him, that's all --- and where God didn't give him the talent, God gave him an assistant in Moses' brother Aaron.  Is the story coming back to anyone?  I so miss reading through the old testament stories. They are so much fun to read and write about! 

Among Moses' objections before God set Him straight the first time:

1) Who am I to go to Pharoah and fetch those people out of Egypt?  (Ex 3:11)

2) What happens when they question who sent me?  (Ex 3:13)

3) But what if they don't believe me when I say You sent me? (Ex 4:1)

God is so patient with us, just as He was with Moses.  Can you hear yourself saying these things to God as you respond to something He has called you to do?

And the Lord said unto him (Moses), What is that in thine hand? And he (Moses)said, A rod. (Ex 4:2)

Look at the above verse carefully.  God told Moses to look at what he had in his own hand to use.  God didn't tell him to covet someone else's ability because God had given and would give Moses all that he needed to accomplish the job.  How cool is that?  We have everything we need to do what God asks of us, if we only just believe that God means what He says.  We may even have undeveloped talents that are just waiting to emerge.

So my question today is this: What are you waiting for?  What excuses are you throwing out that God just can't wait to overcome in your life? If you are already serving, are you serving beyond your abilities or are you serving within yourself because you are not relying on God enough?

Remember that God has given us, like Moses, all we need to do what He asks of us.  Let's get started, shall we?