Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chapter 6 - Goodness

   $ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12
  In the Bible it talks about Christ being righteous and those who practice being righteous, are of him. (1 John 2:28-29)  Now goodness can’t be studied unless we look at righteousness, for righteousness is the essence of goodness.

Righteousness: Act of being in accordance with what is just, honorable, and free of guilt or wrong.  It is upright, virtuous, and noble.
Goodness is described this way: bountiful, sound, whole, well-founded, commendable, having a standard, virtuous, kind. Having character, being righteous, having humility.
  Now goodness is something achieved, not given like a super power, it has to be maintained through faithfulness and discipline (self-control).  Now goodness is not the necessary element to being saved, on the contrary being saved is the declaration that your old self and ways have been shed so that you can receive God’s saving promise and grace.  You receive when you declare, believe that Christ is your savior, and “go and sin no more.”  Goodness is something we are called to pursue after we have been saved and see that we are a changed person. (It cannot be achieved without Christ’s sacrifice being accepted in our hearts.)

2 Corinthians 5:21: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  Christ even says in Matthew 5:6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Pursuing goodness (righteousness) is not an easy thing, is hard to pursue goodness in a world that is no longer good, it is filled with very evil things which pull at us more than the good things.  However, in that God states that even then when he sees the hunger for righteousness He will not let us down, but rather be faithful and fill us.
  This promise is also in Psalm 37:23-24: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

  We have to remember too that we cannot achieve goodness on our own, in Psalm 16:2 it reminds us that our goodness is not of ourselves, but of God in us.

Psalm 16:2: O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from you.”

  Goodness (righteousness) is something we cannot achieve without God, goodness wouldn’t even exist unless God existed because he IS goodness.  That’s why God couldn’t look at Christ as he hung on the cross, because Christ had taken on the evil sin of the world and God is pure goodness, and because evil and goodness can’t be together God had to look away.  Now here is a kind of an interesting thing (in my opinion) take the extra ‘o’ out of goodness and you get godness, so as we pursuing God’s character, which we are called to do as we are called to pursue “Christ-likeness).
In Romans, it talks about how those who pursue goodness will continue in his goodness (and as we’ve seen in the previous verses will be upheld and blessed by God), but those who fall away and don’t return will be cut off.

Romans 11:22-23: Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.  Otherwise you will be cut off.  And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

  If you have a slight advanced knowledge about plants and such you will know that when you graft a plant you are taking a plant shoot and putting it with another plant so that they join and grow together, they create a ‘union.’ (Interesting picture, huh?)
  Many times growing up I have heart people many times say that they couldn't serve a God who is so harsh or so quick to burn people, well I got news for you, if you are a parent (or if you work with children like myself) you realize that God is not condemning God, but rather a fatherly God.  Parents give children many chances (in order to let them have the opportunity to do what is right, for they have been taught what is right and therefore know what is right), however, when the child doesn’t seem to get it or seems to start taking advantage of the grace of the parent, the parent then has to punish the child in a way that will make them get the message to “shape up.”  Think about it this way too, if someone keeps abusing us in any way, shape, or form we tend to drop them, “hey if they are going to just abuse our friendship, take advantage of me, or keep being devious, I’m not going to deal with them anymore.”  (Does that sound familiar?) It’s funny how that’s how we react as people and then we expect God to be different!?! It’s kind of selfish to act like God should except people no matter what, but come on why would God want to dwell with people who have declare pure hatred of him? Do we dwell with people who hate us? Do we dwell with people who we hate?   No. (No remember back to kindness and gentleness we are not supposed to hate people, but some of us deal with hatred which is the same as hate, instead we need to kindly dislike the behavior and love the person.)  Also you have to really pay attention too, because as you read the scriptures Christ always has way out and a way for us to still except him and to get another chance.  It clearly states that in the second half of our Romans verse.  So, I think that if people claim that God is a ruthless hateful God who just destroys, you have to ask them, ‘well how well do you know God’, because my God, the God in the scriptures is a God of justice and of second chances. (Every  time I say that statement ‘A God of second chances’ I always think of the ‘Veggie Tale’ song from Jonah sung by the veggie angels, “Our God is a God of second chances.”)

  Now that we know what goodness/righteousness is let’s take a look at what it does:
Philippians 2:14-16: Do all things without complaining or disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of the life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Psalm 15: Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill?  He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes eyes vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

  One who bathes in righteousness is conscious of his sin and understands that it is sin, and in response then turns, asks for forgiveness, then goes and sins no more.  For the righteous see with truth glasses and they act with humility and Christ wisdom.

Ezekiel 20:43: And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.

  Later on in our study we will be talking about love, peace and joy.  We will discover that the scriptures talk about how when we follow Christ and his example we are reward with Christ’s peace and joy.  In Proverbs it talks about following the word will find good and trusting in the Lord will bring happiness! We just finished studying faithfulness and looking at God’s faithfulness and I think that because we see that God has always stayed true his promises we must then remember and be faithful in our end of the relationship so that we can take part in the peace and joy He has to offer us!

Proverbs 16:19-20: Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.  He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.

  On your own I would encourage you to look at the beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-11 and remember in the beginning of this study we saw that it takes self-control and humility to enable us to be successful in living the Fruit of the Spirit.  It takes humility and self-control to develop righteousness, for righteousness is (as we saw at the top) being free of wrong and just, well we have been told that we are free of wrong when we seek forgiveness of the Lord, and when we seek we fill find.  (But it takes humility to get there!)
So in conclusion, remember that Jesus loves you; he wants you to be successful and to lead a deeper and full life that honors him and brings you closer to him!

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chapter 5 - Faithfulness

  $ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

Faithfulness:  Allegiance to a person, loyalty, complete trust and devotion.

Devotion:  Being so familiar with someone or something, your constant full attention is given to that someone or something, making a ‘close bond.’ An intimate knowledge on someone or something.
 This makes me think of the song ‘All in All’ where it talks about how God is your strength when you are weak, the treasure that you seek, when we run dry he fills our cups, when we are down he lifts us up….and so on.  Do you pursue God like that? Is God someone that you have such a fire for that no one can turn eyes away from his amazing glory.  When you want something, really really want something most times we will stop at nothing to attain it, do we pursue God with that kind of passion?
   Let’s define an ‘intimate knowledge’ of something or someone.

Knowledge:  the Greek word to ‘know’ means to have a knowledge that perfectly unites the subject with the object.
In other words, it’s a person being so familiar with another person that they can predict (or almost predict) what the other person is about to do next.

Intimacy: inner most, marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity.  (Having intimacy is have ‘knowledge’ of one close to you)
   I find to better understand this it is required to look at God’s faithfulness to us.
(Verses 1-8 talk about how Israel is the chosen nation, and how all the other nations shall fail):

Deuteronomy 7:9-10: “Therefore, know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps a covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep his commandments; “and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them.  He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. 

   So right here this verse says that God is a faithful God to his people, and he is even faithful in his promises to destroy the people who deny and refuse him.  God is a God of his word.
Now the Psalms are just filled with praise of God’s faithfulness, mercy, love, and so on…but we are only going to look at one in this chapter.

Psalm 103: 1-14 (This is a Psalm of David):  Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your inequities, who heals your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies  your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.  He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to children of Israel.  The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.  He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.   He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust.   (Please read the whole chapter 103 on your own it is very powerful)

   This passage is just such a shining light of hope for me, it talks about what a loving God he is and talks about how consistent he is, especially in his faithfulness.  I think it too shows his deep understanding, where it says that he “knows our frame and remembers we are dust.” What a beautiful picture of him remembering that he formed us from the dust of the ground and that we can be fragile, which is why I love how it talks about in Jeremiah 31:3 how God is gentle in his pursuit of us.  And I love how in Psalm 139:13 it paints a picture of how he never lacks understanding of who we are, he knows us with such a deep intimate knowledge that we cannot say he doesn’t know what we need, we need to face up to the fact that we are the ones who truly don’t know what we need. 
   I am so thankful that God is not like us humans in the ways we hold grudges against each other and struggle to forgive (even for the smallest things) it shames me sometimes when I think of people who grate my cheese every time I see them, and I have to ask myself, for what?  That’s when I realize that I am still holding onto a past wrong that I just need to grow up and let go of.   I am so relieved and thankful that God is not like that at all, his mercies are fresh and new every morning.  He is ready and wanting to give us another chance!

Lamentations 3:22-25: Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore, I hope in Him!”  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

   And lastly God even tells us that he knows what he is doing and tells us that he is faithful to us especially when we call on him.

Jeremiah 29:11-14:  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Then shall you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.   And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found of you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord,  and I will bring to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

   As we look at God’s faithful character, we have to ask ourselves: if he is so faithful to me, why is it so difficult for me to be faithful to him and what he has called me to do?  I have to ask myself that all the time, there are times where I am struggling to stay faithful to finish writing this study, but I keep pushing myself to do it.  Even though I have fallen behind in my posting dates I am going to push through this to the end, because God has always been faithful through the big things in my life, why shouldn’t I be faithful in the small things of him?

   We are told that without faith it is impossible to please God; think about it this way, why would God require us to be faithful to him, because he knows that if we don’t have a part in the up-keep of our relationship with him, we will grow lazy and slowly drift away from him. (Please read: Hebrews 11:6)  And the farther away we are from his presence the harder it is for us to come back to him.  So not only is it a respectful thing to do in our intimate relationship with him, but also the healthier thing to do.  I hope to later on do a study of the armor of God, in order to study how we can prepare ourselves for the battles we face every day. For now let me say this, we need to fight for our relationship with our almighty God who so faithfully and lovingly pursued us even when we turned our back on him, he has our best interest in mind and we need to fight for that.  We need to fight by consistently going into the word and praying, being quiet in his presence and surrounding ourselves with the fruit of the spirit and people so support us in our fight.
In Psalm 63 it shows us exactly what a faithful relationship to Christ looks like, please read the entire chapter on your own for it is a very powerful passage.

Now in conclusion the Bible tells us to do this:
2 Peter 1:5-11: But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue,  to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.   For if these things be yours and abound, you will be neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.   Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things, you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chapter 4 - Kindness

   $ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12
Kindness: Pleasant in nature, forbearance, sympathetic, and benevolence. 
Forbearance: To be patient
Sympathy:  Harmony of interests and aims; whatever affects one person similarly affects the other person.
Benevolence: Giving

  As we go through this study, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that this study causes one to step back and analysis our genuineness toward people, in this study, and in our relationship with God.   In this study and in life for that matter, as Christians we need to be constantly keeping our hearts and minds in check.  We need to check to see if we are just going through the motions, we need to check if we are just doing things because it’s what you’ve been told is right instead of doing them because we believe they are the right things to do.  See dear readers if we don’t believe that these things are important what is the point of doing this study?  There is no point, we need to want this and desire to be Christians that are influential and life-changing.  People respond when they see the life-changing example in us and are more open when they see Christians be real.

   With that, kindness is an action that cannot be affective unless it given with genuineness, I always can tell when people are being fake-kind to me that irritates me to no end! (And I’m sure that bothers other people too!)  I have a motto, be real or go home.  People can’t take people who aren’t genuine serious, we know that it’s a facade and wonder what someone is really like underneath (or what their true intentions are), do we want to be perceived that way? I don’t think so.    Kindness also goes beyond how you treat others, but to how you act all the time.

    I know someone who is positive and kind every day.   I don’t think I’ve heard one negative thing about anyone ever come out of that person’s mouth, and whenever we talk I have always heard a positive response to everything.  At first I didn’t think this person was real, but then I never witnessed a changed behavior (and I’ve known this person for over two years) and it made me think why am I not like that? Why can’t I be positive all the time, why can’t I always respond with love, why can’t I make every day filled with sunshine? Why wouldn’t I want to be like that? Don’t I want people to be happy? Aren’t I happier when other people around me are happy?

    Kindness is going the extra mile; it’s doing something to help others even when you don’t want to.  It’s doing things strictly for someone else’s gain (and no gain for you).  It’s always respond with love, positiveness, and genuine concern for a person’s well-being even if that person totally grates your cheese.    Christ even says that it is more rewarding to give than to receive.

Acts 20:35: I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus , that He said, “ It is more blessed to give then to receive.”

  Paul goes on, calling us to do more for the edification (instruction and improvement) of others and less to please ourselves.  We see this pattern throughout scriptures us being called to build each other up and to pursue others needs over our own.  Why shouldn’t we? Didn’t Christ do that in a much greater sense?

Romans  15:1-2: We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

Galations 6: 9-10:  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  

   In Ephesians it spells out for us exactly what kindness isn’t and that we are supposed to stay away from those things.  This also goes back to what we were talking about in chapter 1, what we put in our hearts we put out, and vice versa.  When we make bad habits of negative behavior we in a way create a monster.

Ephesians 4:31-32: Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

   1 Peter 3:8: Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.

   In 1 Peter we saw the call for one mindedness, in other words work as a team, don’t work against those around you, but rather work as the waves in the ocean push together to create harmony.  It also says to be “courteous” plainly said haha use your manners, don’t be offensive, rather be polite.
I find this scripture of 1 John 3:17 to be so convicting and powerful, it’s so simple and straight forward, but I think it moves me and makes my mind pop every time I read it.

1 John 3:17: But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

   I’m not going to write out this scripture because we will be reading it when we study love in a few chapters, but I encourage you to read it on your own because it is such an important passage.  This is a true definition of what love looks like, and kindness is just a small part of what love is and how deep it goes.  (Okay,  I changed my mind…)

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

   Fun Fact: One thing that is so important in English is to understand punctuation and its significance.  A semi-colon (;) is such an important mark because it’s a symbol of something from the following sentence having the ability to stand on its own, yet still needs to be included in the previous sentence because their relationship is just that important! Did you notice how many semi-colons were included in that entire paragraph? There were five, it is so rare to see that many in such a small place. (God must have wanted us to notice something…) (I get super excited about these sort of things)

(This is Jesus talking) Matthew 25:34-41: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirst and give You drink? ‘When did we see You as a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to you?’  “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

   That right there is such an important verse as well, God wants us to treat people the same way we would treat him, isn’t that interesting? If God showed up on your doorstep today, how would you treat him?  I don’t know about you, but it would be like if the Queen of England showed up, I would want a moment to clean my house and make sure he was comfortable.  I would cook and make sure that he had my undivided attention.   So I have a question, is that how you treat everyone you come in contact with?  I know that I definitely can’t say yes, I wish I could, but I know that I would be lying.

  As you go throughout your day, week, and life think about how you treat people and ask yourself: If that person were Jesus, would that be the way I would act?  If you like kindness, I’m sure other people do as well.

 God bless you!    Lots of love from the Author:

Miah B

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chapter 3 - Long-Suffering


    $ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

Patience:  is the act of showing self-control, bearing pain or trials without complaint.
Long-Suffering: is long and patient endurance of an offense.

    Looking at these two definitions we see that these words are very similar, but have two defining features that make them very different.  Patience is like a child who waits for that toy at the end of the shopping trip and miraculously manages to wait without complaining or whining, its where someone shows that they can wait on something  perhaps sacrifice their want for next time in order to provide for someone else’s  need.  Long-suffering on the other hand is different, it does involve practicing self-control and it does involve waiting on something, but it throws something else into the mix, “endurance of an offense” this creates the picture for me of the person who is wronged by someone (in whatever way) and yet still responds with love, does nothing vengeful in response, nor does anything that will be unchrist-like they wait on the Lord’s justice and love just as we love the offender just as we love our family, friends, dog (people who we label as worthy of our love).   In all of this we can see that these two words are held together by two other elements we have already studied self-control and gentleness; it takes self-control to accomplish long-suffering and in that self-control it takes gentleness/meekness.  

   When have a Christ-like attitude, we need meekness when practicing self-control and long-suffering.  In order to be affect and successful we need to strip ourselves of our pride and love the person and respond with gentleness.  And these actions take self-control of the mind, heart, actions, and reactions.

   In Ephesians 4:1-3, the picture that is created for us is that we are to “bear” with each other in love, now that doesn’t create a picture of all rainbows, flowers, and unicorns, instead that creates the picture of solders not leaving a comrade behind even in the line of fire.  It creates the picture of the dog who always responds with love even when their owner ties it up and throws them in a dumpster.  Forgive me animal lovers, this breaks my heart too, even as I write that I shudder and give my dog a squeeze thinking that if anyone tried to do that to my baby I would take a baseball bat to their head.  However, the Bible says bear with each other in love.  I would find it very hard to forgive someone for tearing my baby from me.  However, think about it, long-suffering: enduring an offense.  As we read this scripture I want to ask you, if someone wronged you in a serious way (like hurting your dog) would you be able to forgive them and respond in love? 

Ephesians 4:1-3: I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    In the Bible we are constantly told that Christ died so that we might live it also says in Hebrews 12:2 that “because of the joy set before him he endured the cross” so he saw us as something worth saving, but in this Christ displayed a tremendous amount of self-sacrifice (long-suffering) because he saw our potential instead of just our sin and he considered us worth it to him.  This is how I see Christ/ God’s sacrifice:   I visualize it as God reaching in and taking half his heart and putting it into the womb of a woman and watching it grow just knowing that it is going to die for the sins of others, for the world he created and loved, a world that had betrayed him and turned against him.   He knew that this sacrifice had to be made, even though his son was is completely innocent, blameless, complete perfection.   And then I see God experiencing his son’s pain as he died, because he felt it too, for his son was a part of himself.   Then I see God completely heart broken when he couldn’t even look at his son as he died because Jesus took on evil,  and because God is the complete opposite of evil  he couldn’t even look on his son… as his son took his last breath.   I can’t imagine how painful and heart breaking that would be for anyone, but especially God.   But that was the love he gave to us, that’s the love he has for us because that is how much worth he sees in this world.

  1 Peter 3: 18-21 (verse 18):  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…

     Along with Patience and Long-Suffering comes the word Diligence.   Christ displays a tremendous amount of diligence in everything he does and did, and right along with him we are called to do the same thing.

Diligence: Is a steady, earnest, and painstaking effort.

   It takes self-control and diligence to practice all of the fruits, especially long-suffering.  We are asked to be steadfast and to work for the glory of God, so realize my dear readers that God is calling us to be selfless and to reflect his love to his people.  Christ showed an overwhelming amount of love, now we are being called to put aside our pride, to humble ourselves and push through the hardship and love.  We are called to be genuinely kind and gentle, to push through it even when it hurts most.  Remember  dear readers that we are seeking rewards in heaven not on earth, however,  Christ does bless us in this lifetime too.

1 Corinthians 10:31: Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:23-25: And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done and there is no partiality. 

   So stay steadfast and be gentle, kind, and loving especially when it’s the hardest thing to do.

2 Peter 3:14-18 (14-15): Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation…

1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chapter 2- Gentleness


$            $  Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

         When studying gentleness we should also take a deeper look and go further into a study on Humility.

Gentleness: Kind, amiable; not harsh, stern, or violent; the act of being refined.
Refined: courteous, generous, honorable, patient; not harsh or rough. To refine is to make something free of impurities or waste matter.
    Gentleness is one of the fruits that is the most challenging to practice and, I think, to really deeply understand.  Gentleness takes a lot of self-control, and in a world that is far from being gentle (or possessing self-control) it is hard to know what gentleness looks like.  This world is an in-your-face sorta world, it consists of people who aren’t willingto take the time to be (or who maybe don’t even know how to be) gentle.  Who don’t know how to be patient and honorable with no sternness or roughness.  This world promotes self-indulgences and demanding that you be given all that “you deserve” it promotes people who just take and not worry about themselves.  Now don’t hear me wrong it is important to take care of yourself and not be walked all over, but where do we draw the line? I think we forget to draw a line when it comes to taking care of and becoming self-indulged in a way that we live a life where we start every conversation with ‘I’ and that it is always about ‘me.’  Gentleness is the complete opposite of sternness, it is humble, yet firm.  What is the difference between firmness and sternness?

Being stern is: severe(marked by strictness and causing stress) and stout (forceful and violent).
Being firm is: Steadfast and solid, not subject to change or fluctuation.

     You see that the above words are different in this way, one is something that forces something into submission while the other is just steadfast in your own ways.  We are not called to force people into submission, but to guide people in a way that will help them understand and decide for themselves if they want to submit their lives to Christ.  We are all called to approach all people with love and gentleness (we will do a further study on love later), we are to “win” people over with love not “force” them like a terrorist forcing someone to say the lines they specially wrote for someone to get what they want.   Love cannot be achieved or transmitted without having gentleness; it is also received differently, love without gentleness receives the statement “what do you want from me” love with gentleness receives the statement “wow…you really mean that” or the question, “what can I do for you?”  This is what gentleness looks like:

Titus 3:1-8: (I am only going to write out verses 1 and 2, but please go on to read the rest it is just as important) Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.   
      Our gentleness will be shown through our submission to authority without complaint, or without our gossiping behind their back (speaking evil of someone),  being obedient, ready for what God wants us to do and what others need us to do.  Promoting peace and being humble.   The next verse describes how we are to feed our hearts as well, for as we studied in the last chapter about self-control.  What we feed our hearts is expressed through our mouths.  When reading this verse, please take a careful self evaluation and analyze.  I want you to act like you are doing spring cleaning in your heart and mind (and life) and think like this “what must go?” what is it that is holding you back from growing, what are you desperately holding onto because it is what makes you feel normal compared to everyone else or it makes you happy.  When you keep hold of something you know isn’t “completely” right, you are not giving your all to God.  Giving your all means every part of you, your life, your toys, you heart, your thoughts, your kids, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, your control! (YOUR EVERYTHING) When you let God drive that is when you give your utmost for his highest and that is when you are forever changed.  That is when your eyes are opened, wisdom is being poured into you from above, and you are bearing fruit!

Philippians 4: 8-9: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

James 3:17: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Peter3:3-4 :  Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Ephesians 4:1-3: I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling in which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


  $ 1 Timothy 6:3-12
Humility: Not proud or haughty; meek and modest (not proud or self-seeking).  It is  Lowly.
The humble and contrite are always together in the Bible, you won’t ever find one without the other.
Contrite: Repentant, being sorrowful for sinners, one of conviction.

Humility is yielding to others, it is not letting yourself be puffed up or become full of yourself.  Its okay to be happy in our accomplishments, but not to become haughty or develop the attitude of “I’m better or more privileged than everyone else.”  We are called to be humble just as Christ was and is humble:

Philippians 2:3-8:  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robber to be equal to  God, but  he made himself of no reputation, taking the role of a bondservant, and coming in the  likeness of man.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even the death of the  cross.
Proverbs 27:2: Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger and not your own lips.
     It says in the Bible that the Lord recognizes the humble even in his high place, but the proud/haughty he knows from afar.  That seems to me that he is just like us, when a person is obnoxious in flaunting themselves we try to avoid them at all cost.  God sees them, but knows them from afar, he doesn’t find them to be someone who he can draw close to them…and how could he? They don’t seem to have room with all their fullness of self and pride.
Psalm 138:6: Though the Lord is on high, yet he regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.
James 4:6: But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Isaiah 66:1-2: Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth My footstool.  Where is the house that you will build me?  And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist.” Says the Lord.  ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’
      We must remember too that God does not measure us the way people around us measure us, he weighs us by our hearts condition.   So not only is it important to monitor what we feed into our heart because of how it is expressed through our mouths, but  it is important too because it is what God is looking at.  I know that I don’t like to hang out with people who’s attitude reflects and ugly heart, why would God want to watch and monitor a heart that is slugging around in mud.   It’s not pleasant, but God is the God of grace, patience, and love He sticks with us anyway because He sees the potential and hopes that we will answer his calling and beckoning.
Proverbs 16: 2: All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Proverbs 16: 18-19: Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.  Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide up the spoils with the proud.
There are many rewards and benefits for being humble not just for those around us, but for ourselves as well.  Wisdom and honor are given to those who are humble:
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 29:23: A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.
      With gentleness and humility come rewards of wisdom and honor, with those we are received by other people with joy and love.  Our testimonies are heightened when we are walking in the humility of Christ.  Give your utmost for his highest and other people will follow!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chapter 1 - Self-Control


$ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

Self-Control: A state of being focused; control of one’s own emotions, desires, actions, etc. (NKJV uses the word Sober and KJ Bible uses the word temperance.)
Sober: Serious in mood, earnest, staid.  
Temperance: moderation in the indulgence of appetite or passion.

       Self-Control involves all the  actions of your person, some of which are thinking, speaking, and attitude.  This gives the picture that a Christian practices self-control with every action, reaction, and thought towards people and life.  I know that in my life I find it hard not to count things that people do that annoy me, for example a list of things that annoy me about someone, I’m usually a really relaxed person, but there are people I encounter who just don’t seem to care about doing anything but the absolute necessary things and that grates my cheese. 
       In the past there were also times where I told myself that it was okay to be around certain things, watch certain things, or allow myself to be affected by others influences instead of doing what I knew was right.   At the time I didn’t realize what I was doing, or I convinced myself that it was okay because I wouldn’t let myself think too deeply, but what I realized is that I was feeding my heart the wrong things and I was allowing my heart to form into something that I didn’t like and it in turn influenced my life choices and it made my Christ like example be ineffective because it wasn’t a Christ like example.    For example, what society deems as okay in the world is not okay with Christ we are to be in, but not of, the world.  (Romans 12:2) The world says that it is okay to have sex before marriage or to allow yourself to explore sex with other people (we are surrounded by that influence) and we let ourselves come to the thinking that it’s okay if I experiment “as long as I don’t really do it” or to say “well this is the modern way of thinking and the Bible is really up for personal interpretation.”  Those are lies, God said obey me and follow my commands he didn’t say some time or whenever you feel like…..he said obey!  (Psalm 37: 23-24) God also commands us to take care of our bodies because it is his temple, and believe me taking care of our bodies  involves our hearts too (our inner person and outer person) and it is proven that a mind at rest helps the body stay healthy.  When your heart is troubled it sets your whole self off.    
     Another example is gossip and openly (or privately in your mind) tearing down someone, talking down about that person or discussing your personal disgust of an individual is not okay.  If you don’t like what a certain individual does (or did) that is okay I don’t always like the way people do things or respond to me/ approach me, however, you just gotta let it go.  You have to let it go, if you don’t it is like a seed that is planted and it grows malice, anger, and a constant bad response to that person.  Before you know it….that person can’t do anything right and they are just a person that has no business being on earth because they practically “ruin” your life.  That is a very hard weed to get out of your garden that is supposed be fruitful, it is far more difficult to go back and pull out all the vines that have twisted around the fruit and fruit that are trying to grow and bloom in your life than if you had pulled out the seed or the little yellow dandelion in the very beginning.  (Now if you are a green thumb sort of person you defiantly caught my drift, if you are not I am sorry if this was hard to grasp)

The Bible says in Luke 6:45: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

      The NIV says that which is ‘stored’ in the heart.  It’s saying that if you are storing good as a treasure in your heart that will be reflected in your actions….it will be in what you speak.  When you develop a habit of only speaking negatively your heart starts forming in that negative way, before you know it you don’t know how to do or be anything but negative and it makes you feel ugly, it makes you seem ugly to others, and it makes your life miserable.  What you expose your heart to influences you, maybe not in the moment, but long exposure to bad things is like long exposure to sun without sun-screen….you get burned, it hurts big time and it takes a long time to recover and sometimes you get sun poisoning.  It says in Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like city broken down, without walls.  
      Now hear me say this, I am not saying that you need to be an up-tight person who can never have fun or never can hang out with people who “don’t do Christianity,” not at all, I am saying be careful what you are letting influence your heart and mind.  It is important to have friends that you can be a shining light too and it is important to be aware of the things around you, but it does not mean that you are adopting those things as your own. 
1 Peter 1:13-15 Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
       In other words a person who has no self-control is without protection and leaving themselves open to the enemy’s deception and destructive attacks.    Even if we think something is harmless we are letting evil things chisel at the walls of our hearts letting the enemy slowly have way, until we finally have no boundaries or walls that protect us from being like the rest of the world.   As it said in 1 Peter, we were ignorant in our former ways, but with Christ we are given wisdom and we are given the command to not make the dumb choices we made before, but to be obedient and wise in our new understandings.  We are changed persons when we ask Christ to wash our sins away and with that change we are supposed to respond with the changing of our life habits and leadings.  By having self-control we monitor what we are feeding into our hearts, we know what is going in and what will come out.   And if we protect ourselves and guard our hearts this we will be following God’s commandments which in turn he will always bless you for.
1 Samuel 24:1-15: Now I am not going to write out the entire passage that should be read on your own, but I will write out the verses that I want you to take a closer look at, (4-5) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day that the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.  Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.   We see in this verse that David is pressured by his companions to kill Saul by trying to convince him that God had delivered David’s enemy into his hand (Saul), however David decided to just ‘cut’ off the corner of Saul’s coat because it would be ‘okay’ after all he wasn't hurting him he was just giving Saul a ‘close call.’  Then we see that later on that David’s heart was troubled over it, he knew that he had let himself go too close to the edge of a cliff and that he could have so easily let himself kill Saul right then and there without God’s blessing.  This would have been so wrong, because at that point David would have been taking God’s plan into his own hands instead of waiting on God, instead of practicing self-control and faithfully relying and trusting God’s plan.   David knew that his actions also affected his reputation if he had chosen to go farther that would have eventually affected his influence over his men and his future kingdom.   We see a similar situation back in Genesis where Sarah (Abraham’s wife) failed to have faith in God and failed to practice self-control when she gave her servant girl to her husband Abraham, because she didn’t trust that God knew what he was doing!  (And that caused a pretty big mess….it caused a lot of unnecessary drama) When we practice self-control we are guarding our hearts, minds, bodies, and lives from evil and disaster and are then open to God’s blessings, wisdom, and divine and perfect plan for our lives.

1 Samuel 9 and 10 (key verse is 10:27) But some rebels said, “How can this man save us? So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.  Now growing up in ‘Sunday School’ I guess at some point I developed this not so great picture of King Saul from back in the Old Testament.   I don’t know how, but I came to this idea that he was always an evil person who didn’t follow anything that God ever told him to do.  I don’t know if anyone else has or had that sort of picture of him, but that is what I managed paint in my brain growing up.   Then a year ago or so I took a closer look at the scriptures and found that Saul was actually a wonderful servant of the Lord up until he messed up pretty bad and then, like most of us, instead of repenting and doing what was right he allowed himself to be devoured by evil and greed.     Anyway, in 1 Samuel 10:27 back when King Saul had just been declared King, it says that some rebels who dishonored him by giving him “no presents.”   Which may seem slightly humorous and childish, (I find it to be slightly funny because it reminds me of the ‘Soup Nazi’ from Seinfeld… “No Presents for You!!”    In this verse it says that Saul didn’t respond to their unkindness, however, he held his peace.  He decided to not worry about it the insult and “let it go.”   He didn’t respond with any harshness, scripture doesn’t say that he blabbed on about them to other people, and it doesn’t say that he punished them either.  “He kept his peace” he put his trust in God; he knew that he had God’s blessing and so he knew that God had a plan.  He chose to show self-control in his attitude and actions.

2 Peter 1: 5-10  (key verses: 5-9): But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

       It takes self-control to do the right thing, it takes self-control to respond to a negative with a positive, it takes self-control to follow God’s commands.   So when we gossip or tear each other a part, or convince ourselves that doing a little something that isn’t quite the full bad thing, or when you are feeling extremely unhappy with who you are and how you live.  Take a step back and evaluate your heart….. reflect on how you live, you might find that your heart is flowing with muck and filth in order for junk to come out of your mouth or full in your head to convince yourself that “it’s okay.”   You have to ask yourself, am I full of crap or am I really a tree that smells sweet of freshly grown fruit?   Which do you want to be?  I have come to the point where I actually had to start writing on my hand “Be positive” or “B+” to remind myself every day that I need to be positive every day that I need to make the best choices every day. I want to be fruitful, I want to be a joyful person that makes the world a brighter place, don’t you?    I challenge you to write that on your hand or some where you can see it to remind yourself that what comes out of your mouth and the choices you make reflects the condition of your heart! Be Positive! Practice Self-Control! Be fruitful! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit - Introduction

      In this journal we will go into a fairly deep study of the fruit of the Spirit.  This journal will break down each of the elements of the fruits and create a deeper understanding for the reader.  This understand should lead the reader to have a deeper understanding (and hopefully, conviction) as to how we as Christians should live in order to draw closer to God’s presence, live a peace filled life surrounded by God’s blessings, and be shining lights to the world around us.
      Our main scriptures that will guide us through this study will be at the beginning of the chapters (or) fruit sections, these scriptures will have a greater impact when memorized and reflected on daily, they are: Galations 5:22-26, Colossians 3:12, and 2 Peter 1:5-11. (Which are written out at the bottom) These will be regularly looked back on as review and a reminder that all elements should be sought after and that all the elements are dependent on each other.  We will find as we go through this study that we will not find one of the fruit without finding the others as well, which I think is a glorious sign of God’s immaculate wisdom and glory, it is a sign of God’s wonderful consistency.
      Please remember dear readers to keep a humble mind as we go through this study, do not forget that we are not done learning, we are life-long learners who must always be willing to grow.  If we had all the answers God wouldn’t ever need to rescue us from our problems, nor would he have had to send his son to die for us, nor would we have to pray for wisdom to a God who has all the answers.   Remember with humility we grow at a steady pace and develop deeper understanding, not to mention we receive the blessings that God wants to pour into our lives.  I find too that I discover more understanding about myself and find flaws that I was too proud to face when I humble myself.  I love how much I grow every time I do this study and I have to say that I am quite relieved that I am not done growing, for if I knew all that there was to know in life, I would feel quite empty and honestly I wouldn’t find any hope in my future.
      So join me as I don on my cap of humility and gather my excitement as we start our journey, our journey of growth in our Christian maturity, our growth in our love relationship with Christ, and our growth in our Christ-like image that will be a beautiful shining light to those around us.  The Bible version I will be using is the New King James Version (NKJV) however, a New International Version (NIV) or King James Version (KJV) will be fine.  I find that the NKJV goes deeper than the others, yet doesn’t lose you with the old language, but that is my personal preference.  Here we begin.

 Galations 5:22-26: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are in Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 

Conceit is vanity, it is a high opinion of one's self, in a way it is pride or haughtiness. However, remember stay open minded, we are putting on our humility caps and thinking in a new and humble way. In 1 Peter 5:5 it talks about how God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Think on that as we wear our humble hats.
To Provoke someone is to call forth anger in them, to stir up on purpose, to inflame or rile them, and this could even go beyond anger this could be any sort of reaction that is negative. We are to build each other up and encourage the right things in each others lives, not the other way around, we as Christians are to promote life and love, not hatred and trying to destroy each other.
Envy is  a painful or resentful awareness of another's advantages.  I love how the dictionary defines it as a painful or resentful awareness, both are negative things in life.  Pain can stir up sadness, depression and so on while resentment can stir up malice and hatred.

I define these to give a clear picture of the things we want to avoid, I want a clear picture of what we are not to do especially because we have just put on our humble hats.

Colossians 3:12-14: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all you must put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 

Now all these things take humility, especially forgiving others, I know believe me I really know how hard it is to forgive some people, I have been wronged in BIG ways, and I felt God telling me to forgive them which was extremely difficult because I didn't want to let go of my anger.  I had to let go of my pride and humble myself, and when I did and when I forced myself to really let go and forgive I felt this amazing peace rush in.  And I love how in this scripture it doesn't say "you should forgive as Christ forgave you" like a suggestion, but rather "you MUST do" its not a request or a suggestion it's a command.  I know that sometimes command feel like someone taking away our freedom, but God's commands are to promote our freedom in him.

2 Peter 1: 5-11  (key verses: 5-8): But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sings.

This scripture is quite clear, if you have these things you will be fruitful and if you don't you are blind and have forgotten that you have been remade in Christ.  So put on your humble hats and go with me on this journey of gaining wisdom, fruit, and a closeness to Christ that will also impact our world.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I am not done growing...

Dear Readers,

   On Tuesday, May 13th,  at approximately 12:35pm, I finished my last final exam for this semester.  I now take a deep breath and quote the words of Jesus, "It is finished." Of course his meaning and my meaning are two different things, yet they are similar.  In John 19:30, Jesus was referring to all the prophesies and his work being completed, this was the confirmation that he was now able to give up his spirit and die.  It was the sign of the end, or the completion of his mission and that it was time for a new start.  That is how I feel, I feel like I have worked very hard all semester, sweat and cried, I didn't quite bleed, but I really put my all into doing well this semester.  I may not be walking away with all A's, but I know I did my best and honestly for the tough semester I had, my grades are very good.  Through this semester God has taught me a lot, our relationship has grown and strengthened, I have grown and strengthened, and I have learned a lot about trust, love, and peace.
    I look back on this semester with a smile, there are so many things that I could want to change and normally I probably would be kicking myself about how I should have done things differently, but I learned through this semester that God has used every opportunity to transform me into something he can use and he has helped me come to the point where I have peace and joy in letting go and trusting him.   I know that there were times during this semester where I felt as though I could barely keep my head above the water, I remember having anxiety about my grades being dragged down by the overwhelming  work load that seemed to just keep being piled on. There were times where I was asking and asking, God is this your will? God if this is your will, why does it seem that I am having such a hard time?  I forget sometimes that when things get tough, that is the time that God is working the most.

   This semester God taught me a lot about trust and he taught me a lot about where I lacked prayer in my daily habits.  During this semester there were times where I was really struggling with whether God was listening or if I was in his will with what I was doing at school.  I kept praying for a job near school so that I would be able to stay in this area and have something during the semester.  I struggled because I felt as though my prayers were falling on deaf ears.  At some point in April,  I was having a terrible day and I felt that the world was caving in, I fled to a place that I find to be peaceful, serene, and completely quiet with no one around, minus the dead.  Yep, I went to a grave yard, the place that always seems to be my quiet "hiding place" and I just wept.  I don't think the dead buried there minded too much, I'm pretty sure that they had quite a few tears during their life on earth and understood where I was at.  I cried out to God and asked him why he wasn't giving me a job.  I mean, in everything I was doing my best to keep up with devotions among the other crazy time consuming  things required of me during the semester.  Why hadn't he answered? Wasn't I being faithful enough?   If this was his will for me to be here at school, why was he letting my savings drain and not providing me a job?  Something that God has been trying to hammer into my head that I seemed to be too dense to fully comprehend and/or accept, is trust.  God reminded me that I need to TRUST him.  I was reminded of the struggle I have with trust with a lot of people around me and definitely with him.
   I try not to ask God 'why' questions, because every time I do he always seems to retaliate with his own why question.  (Which I love, but sometimes pound my fists in anger about)  God retaliated with this thought: why don't you trust me enough to know that I love you with an everlasting love, that I have a plan for you to prosper you.....never never to harm you. Why then do you not believe that I am going to take care of you? Have I ever let you go, have I ever failed to keep you safe, have I ever broken a promise with you? 
   I wept, why is it that I question God when he has never done anything to make me need to question his faithfulness?  I said over and over in my mind two verses from Jeremiah that I love:
Jeremiah 31:3-  "The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love;  Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you..."

Jeremiah 29:11-13- "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me,  and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me,  when you search for Me with all of your heart."

   I wept because once again I had failed to trust God, a God that has always approached me with loving-kindness, it was my blindness that lead me to my troubles.  God reminded me of the story with the widow and her oil. (2 Kings 4:1-7) Did God fail to take care of that widow? Of course not.  I thought about the scripture Psalm 37: 4, where it says that if you delight in the Lord he will give you the desires of your heart. That's when I prayed to God and said that I wanted a job, I wanted to stay close to school.  However, above all I wanted his will.  I realized that God knew everything I needed AND wanted, and he knew what was best.
   I wept on my mountain, sure it was a mountain of dead people, but I think you can learn a lot from dead people (as morbid and perhaps funny as it sounds).  The dead are the most quiet people I know, they sometimes put me in awe, and I think I realized that day and realize again as I am writing this, how hard it is to be completely quiet in the presence of my Lord, and I wonder.  However, I realized that even if it is hard it is so important to be still before the Lord, when I am quiet I am open and ready for what he wants to reveal to me.  I was reminded about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8,  where a widow is so persistent and honestly annoying that a judge agrees to give her justice just to get rid of her.  In the Bible it talks about praying without ceasing, 2 Thessalonians 5: 16-17.  I have learned that I am to pray with out ceasing, and also be still, to be quiet before the Lord and give him a chance to get a word in.

   I learned two valuable lessons that day that drew me closer to God, and brought us to a deeper level in our relationship.  I learned how to trust and pray.  If you want to be happy in, obey, pray.  I have learned a lot this semester about growing up.   I've grown up a little more in the spiritual sense, I have grown up in my life by getting a taste of reality, and I have grown up in the professional/educational world.   I thank God that he blesses me constantly, he loves me, and that he is patient enough to keep guiding me.  I know that I am not done growing and am actually quite glad that I am not done growing.  If this was the level of intelligence I had to reach to be done, I would be scared to death, I also am glad that there is always room for improvement and more that I am going to learn. Why wouldn't I want to strive to be the best that I can be? Why shouldn't I keep my eye on the prize of heaven and do my best to be my best while here on earth so that I might reach heavens glory proud of the time I spent here on earth?

I leave with this scripture Philippians 4:8-9:  Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

                                                                              Yours Truly,
                                                                                           Miah B

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happy Valentine's

Time seems to fly away and I can't seem to catch it when I chase after it in the wind.

It's only been four or five weeks since I started school, and yet it seems as though it's been forever. My time has been loaded up with homework assignments that make me cry, yet at the same time expand and blow my mind, I have discovered that I am capable of things that I didn't know I could accomplish, and I also have set very high goals for myself. 

This last week was winter break and I finally got to come home and see my family, it's so weird coming back and seeing things that were once so familiar now being something almost foreign. My room seems to be extremely empty and then I stop and think....WOW I should have done this ages ago you have so much more space when you live in two places! :-P  I loved being back and seeing the family, no offense to my sister, but sometimes you just can't beat the parent's cooking. I missed my dog too, I forgot how warm and cozy it was having my dog sleep under the blankets with me at night.

It took me the entire week to get all my homework assignments done, but I finally reached a point where I felt the weight lifted. All week I've had the list of assignments weighing over my head haunting me with their shadow as I've gone through the everyday motions at work and home. It reminds me of those commercials advertising Blue Cross Blue Shield, I think, where the man (or woman) is followed around by a hospital bed until they get a check-up with their doctor.  I felt my assignment planner slapping me in the face every once in a while. 
I know that there were times where I questioned whether I was enough, questioned whether I just wanted to quit or not, I questioned whether I would even get half of it done. I also remember thinking...I am going to fail and I am going to be ashamed of how poorly I do this semester....God I don't have what it takes to be a teacher, are you sure about this??? I can't do this... Then I realized that I had been smart a couple months ago and posted a sticky note on my laptop computer with these two verses:

Psalm 90:2 -  "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God."

Colossians 3:15 - "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful."

I gotta tell you, God is an amazing God. I look back at this week and I think, wow God was and still is so faithful, I look back at all that I was able to accomplish and how much I learned, plus I ended up having a couple days to spare! I can take those days to just chill and relax in his abounding love. We certainly are blessed to have a God whose number one priority, like a parent, is his children!

Just when I seem to think I know how God works, he always surprises me. Even with the most simplistic of things. Even when I think I can't grasp a hold on anything on my life, I forget, but he patiently reminds me that he is holding out his hand and saying, "Grasp hold of my hand and you will never be in want of anything, you don't have to fear because I am here."

Psalm 23- "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Jeremiah 31:3-6 - "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Zion,to the Lord our God.’ ”

I walk around campus sometimes and see all the people walking with me or around me, I see their many different faces, some expressions I see are so hard and solemn, some sad and distant, others may be happy, but seconds later they are serious and solemn again, and it makes me wonder how similar must their lives and stress levels be to mine or how much more? Also, how many of them know their creator and all that he offers?

God puts us in places where he can work most, I didn't see it at first, because I got caught up in myself, but God places me in circumstances where he can use me to help his children find his loving grace, and this school may be a part of his plan. I am being taught how to be a teacher, not just by my professor's, but by the almighty teacher of love. Happy Valentine's Day world, you have the most wonderful lover....and he offers you more than flowers and chocolate.

John 3:16-17 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
I love this verse! I love it when it says "begotten son," because it wasn't God's "one and only son" it was a son that he drew out of himself, he sent down a part of himself in the form of baby who would grow up and die for us. Would I be willing to do that for people who denied me and rejected me? Would you dear reader?
And now, the words that always empower me when I feel the world beating me down:

Romans 8: 35-39 - "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."