The first three fruits of the Spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5 are mental qualities oriented at our relationship with God. The next three are interpersonal qualities oriented at our relationships with others: patience, kindness, goodness.
While some translations use the word patience, it is helpful that others use the word forbearance. Vocabulary.com explains: “Patience is a person’s ability to wait something out or endure something tedious, without getting riled up.” While forbearance is listed as a synonym for patience, it’s definition also states: “a delay in enforcing rights or claims or privileges; refraining from acting.” Paul’s word choice communicates that it isn’t just about waiting but rather how we act while we wait. Specifically, how do we act in the face of difficult people? How do we act when provoked?
When someone has wronged us (or we perceive a wrong), it can feel like we are justified to retaliate, judge, or write off that person altogether. Society constantly reinforces the idea that tolerating a wrong makes us weak and cowardly. Characters in our movies and TV shows must have the courage to fight back and take action when wronged. However, we are not called to conform to the patterns of this world but rather we are called to be holy as the Lord our God is holy (1 Peter 1:16, Leviticus 11:44-45).
What does our holy, righteous God do when His beloved people fail to treat Him as he deserves to be treated? Our entire Bible is one case after another of this exact situation, but let’s take a closer look at the Israelites who had just seen the Lord perform miracle after miracle as He delivered them out of slavery in Egypt. God speaks to the Israelites and makes clear His covenant relationship with them. If they obey, there will be blessings. If they disobey, there will be curses. The Israelites respond, “We will do everything the Lord has said” (Exodus 19:8, 24:3, 24:7) However, it takes no time at all for the Israelites to become impatient and break the first commandment. They demand that Aaron make them a god to worship and they bow down to a golden calf. The Israelites deserve God’s wrath, but he ultimately refrains from wiping out the entire nation.
Right after this sinful betrayal by his people, God self describes himself to Moses as “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). The Lord our God in his righteousness cannot tolerate sin and evil; there were consequences in the Israelite camp and there will be consequences for all at the final judgment. However, an important characteristic of our loving God is his ability to forbear, not dishing out immediately what is deserved but allowing his people space to repent and build character. Paul in Romans emphasizes that God’s forbearance and kindness is not meant to be taken for granted but “meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)
Paul continues in Romans 3:21-26 to explain that the reason God can forbear is because he gave his son Jesus Christ as a payment for what the law and justice requires. If we, in faith, repent and ask for forgiveness, Christ’s blood covers our sin. If we don’t repent, we die and the penalty is also paid. Christ, being in very nature God, could have easily stopped the physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that he suffered, but instead in forbearance, he chose to stay and shed his blood on the cross that we might be reconciled to God. He served as a propitiation that allows our righteous God to turn his wrath away from his beloved people.
If my life is to reflect God’s character, I must not be quick to retaliate when someone has insulted or offended. Satan would love nothing more than for me to hold a grudge or have a resentful attitude toward someone who has wronged me, but I am called to forbear and act kindly in mercy. Forbearance allows for unity which pleases God, but it doesn’t come naturally in our flesh. It is only if I shift my attention from what someone else has done to what God has done for me that I have a chance to respond to difficult people in a God-honoring way. It is only the power of the Holy Spirit at work within me that can produce the fruit of forbearance in my life.
– Amanda R.
Taming the Tongue
The Lord has been teaching me about self-control, in the form of what comes out of my mouth. I tend to be a bit harsh if I am not carefully constructing my words because I am not guarding that very sharp sword. I have found there are many seasons the Lord has brought me through this part of sanctification and I still have growth that needs to happen in this area. However, no matter how many times I may regress or word vomit my feelings, James 3:2-10 always seems to come back to my mind on the idea of how-to tam our wild tongues. If you are no familiar with James 3 it speaks about how the smallest things can cause extraordinary destruction as well as extraordinary blessing. But it is all held together in how we tame our tongues.
“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” James 3:1-10, ESV.
This passage comes to mind quite often as a part of parenting surprisingly. My son is 5 and he started Kindergarten, as part of their lessons they are learning to use kind words and tones. Part of this is being what they call a “Bucket Filler” – being someone who says nice things to others, and it causes their emotional bucket to be filled. Do I think the term bucket filler is a bit granola? Yes, however, I think the concept is key! We must understand that what we say causes destruction or blessing, you are either filling someone up or draining them. The Lord’s timing is funny because my sweet husband has been saying this to me for years and I’ve always agreed but still struggled with it. And sometimes things just do not really hit home until they are said from your 5-year-old son! We were walking to the car after work last week and he had said something to me and I immediately thought, hmm that just filled my bucket! I made sure to tell him he had done that and in a circular way, we both had just blessed each other in a small way, by receiving a compliment and then expressing how much that compliment meant back to the giver.
If we keep a Biblical mindset of being a “bucket Filler” then I believe that the Holy Spirit will guide and gives us the right things to say in every situation. We must just be willing to stop and pray and think before we shoot from the hip any old words because you never know how they will be received. Because James 3 is a way of life, you are either guiding and leading your tongue or it is guiding and leading you. We must understand our bodies are intricate and so wonderfully knitted together by our creator, but our tongues are loose cannons if we are not decisively in the word and taking back control over it and giving that control over to the Lord.
I pray that you would join me in waking up daily to ask God to control the words that I say and that I would be a blessing not a curse over His people and more specifically my family. Let’s allow the Scriptures to move us and change us to be closer image bearers of the Lord.
Almost all the memories I have of my Papa involve sitting. Sitting on the combine, tractor, or in his pick-up truck. Sitting on his lap eating ice cream watching either the Dallas Cowboys or the Oklahoma Sooners play football. Him sitting in the audience supporting whatever activity I may be participating. Sitting next to his bed during his last weeks and days. But one of my favorite memories was sitting with him in the pew at church – us three grandkids, my brother, sister and I, smushed between my Mimi and Papa. I wish I had some artistic abilities because the memory of him sitting in the corner of that pew with his long arm draped along the back & his other elbow placed on the end, his long legs crossed with his face ever so slightly tilted heavenward and the green stained glass shining behind him – that image, that memory is one I wish I could frame. That pew, the fourth one from the back, in my childhood church holds some very sweet memories; memories that I treasure deep in my heart.
Psalm 119: 11 says, “I have treasured Your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against You.” The Hebrew word for treasure here is tasphan meaning to hide or to treasure up.
Our English dictionary would define the use of this word treasure:
1) to hold or keep as precious, or
2) to collect or store up (something of value) for future use.
You may have even learned Psalm 119:11 as, “I have stored up Your word in my heart…” It seems like we do one of two things when it comes to treasure – we either keep it close to us or we store it away.
Treasured Your Word
My Papa passed away when I was fifteen. One of the most treasured items my Papa left was his duct-tape Bible. It was the Bible my Papa carried with him when he worked. So that beloved duct-tape Bible saw many-a corn & wheat harvest come & go, as well as, lived the majority of its life in his pick-up, combine, tractor, or grain truck. It was literally held together by duct-tape. But the reason the Bible was duct-taped together wasn’t because of its environment but because of the time my Papa spent reading it. What made it treasure to us was the well-worn duct tape Bible reminded us of its well-read owner. After my Papa died, my aunt bought a beautiful ceramic box for Papa’s duct-tape Bible. It has Isaiah 40:8 on the outside, “The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of our God stands forever.” The juxtaposition has always made me smile. Something expensive and ornate holding duct-tape. But my Papa knew what the Psalmist knew – God’s word was meant to be treasured.
As stated before, we usually handle treasure one of two ways – we hold it close, investing lots of time and energy in it, or we display it, out of reach only to be looked at but never touched. So, here’s the question:
How do you treasure God’s Word?
Is it a treasure that sits high on a shelf for people to marvel at – like a relic? Or is it something you spend time in, trying to memorize and soak up as much as you possibly can? Do you have a relationship with the Author of God’s word?
Relic vs Relationship
I, myself, have two different types of treasures currently in my home. Type one – store-up. I have two baseballs in glass boxes on display in my home. One is signed by my favorite former Texas Rangers baseball pitchers, Alex Claudio, and the second baseball was tossed directly to me during a game by Andrew Casher, another former Texas Ranger pitcher. I love these baseballs. They are very special to me. But will they ever come out of their glass containers? No. Will we ever play catch with them? Absolutely not! Why? because I want to preserve them, keep them beautiful, pristine, & not lose them. A relic, perfectly preserved, on the shelf.
But there is another type of treasure in my home, type two treasures, the “keep them close” kind. That treasure is found in the faces of my two precious boys. Most of my day is spent caring for my little guys. I’m feeding, caring for, or cleaning up after them. Albeit my responsibility, it is my joy to know and love them well. I want to have a relationship with my sons – a good one, an unconditional one, one that isn’t determined by proximity or time. I want to know what makes them happiest, scared, or brave. I want to know their favorite toys, characters, foods, treats. I want to be their person. I treasure my boys; but unlike the relics I have put on the shelf, I live, day in a day out, in relationship with them.
Bibles, Baseballs, & Boys
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21,”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys or where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Does God want us to treasure things like baseballs above all else? No. Why? Because moth, rust and thieves can ruin or steal them. God knows things will happen and we will never find true joy in material possessions. Should we treasure our children above all else? No. Because again, God knows we will never find true joy in a finite being. Christ should be our premier treasure. Because as previously referenced:
The grass waters, the flour fades but the word of our God stands forever.
God’s word. God’s promises. God Himself stands forever. Our God is a good God who loves to give us good gifts, good treasures. The best thing He can give us is Himself. Christ on earth. Holy Spirit in our hearts & God for all eternity – in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy or where thieves break in and steal. God didn’t give us a relic to worship but a relationship with Himself.
My Papa’s duct-tape Bible is still encased in a beautiful keepsake box on my mom’s buffet table in their home. It’s treasure to all of us, but you know what? Every one of us would trade that relic for a current relationship with my Papa.
How do you treasure God’s word? Don’t allow your Bible to be a relic. Live in relationship with our God who stands forever.
We are entering the Christmas season and the world around us tells us we must do more, have more, accomplish more, or we have failed. I would encourage you to push against that, and pause, even just for a few minutes each day and look around and listen. See what God might be calling you to pick up or put down. Listen to a song you love, read a blog, read part of the Christmas story, anything that allows you to pause and take in God’s heart for this season. Here is a little something to reflect on.
As the Old Testament closes, God’s voice disappears. Though he was still present and working in the world, he grew silent. For hundreds of years, we have no recorded evidence of God speaking to or through anyone. Spiritually speaking, it was dark. But, the darkness didn’t change the fact that God’s Word was, and is, true and He had promised not to leave His people alone. Because God has shown over and over again that He keeps his word, we know He may have been silent, but He was at work. We’ve all been there, right? In those moments where it’s all dark and we believe we are all alone. But, a little light begins to seep in, a glimmer of hope ignites in our hearts; our perspective begins to shift.
When all was dark for the nation of Israel, God struck a match. Have you ever thought about how much light a match creates when there is utter darkness? Out of the silence, an angel of the Lord, Gabriel, spoke to Zachariah but Zachariah didn’t believe what he heard. Much like Abraham and Sarah, he believed a coming child was impossible because of his and Elizabeth’s advanced age and their many years of barrenness. Because of his unbelief, God struck Zachariah mute. But none the less, Elizabeth conceived in her old age and became the mother of John, the one who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
With this match, God lit a flame when he then spoke to Mary. Mary, a young girl, likely around 14 years old, faced the angel Gabriel with one simple question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Upon Gabriel’s also simple explication, Mary responded, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Mary, this young girl from Nazareth, who had never seen God move in this way, simply said yes. She simply believed. She had the child-like faith that her son would one day call us all to walk in obedience because of her faith. She became the mother of the Light of the world, the mother of Emmanuel. She carried the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Because of Him, she could light the way for others
Upon meeting sometime later, Elizabeth’s John, yet in her womb, recognized that Mary was carrying his promised savior. The flame God’s word ignited in Mary began to blaze and she could no longer contain herself. Receiving Elizabeth’s blessing, Mary burst out in song.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1:46-55 ESV
After hundreds of years of darkness, God’s light began to break though once again. I know we often shy away from Mary because we don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, to think we hold her in a place of reverence, equal to that of her son. But, her part of the story is here for a reason. Take a moment and read the words that Mary shared again. What do you see? What speaks to your heart? Take a listen to this song, a reflection of these words. Again, what do you hear? What speaks to your heart?
My prayer is that as we enter into this Christmas season, we will pause and remember Mary’s joy, Mary’s heart, Mary’s words. When we believe in Christ and that He is who He says He is and did what He said He would do, we carry within us the light that Mary carried. We shine that light in this dark world and spread the hope that Mary brought into this world all those years ago. I pray as we move about where God has placed us that we will shine in a way that causes others to ask, “What’s different about her?” I pray that you and I can respond as Mary did, “My soul magnifies the Lord…for He who is mighty has done great things for me.”
– Author, Heather Carty
Have you ever chosen a word to guide you throughout the new year or a particular season in
your life? One year, I chose “journey” as I followed a new path…another word I focused on was
“fearless,” as I walked through some personal challenges. I have made jokes about not praying
for patience because you know that God will be faithful to provide you many opportunities to
build your capacity for patience. I would rather He just give me the patience, not have me do the
work to develop it. That is kind of like expecting to be able to run a marathon without training for
the event. God is teaching me endurance. He wants me to do the training. I want to win the race
and run through the finish line. I want to gain the accolades of being a faithful Christian. I want
to be a good and faithful servant. Now. I don’t want to do the training. I don’t want to walk
through my daily struggles. I don’t want to face my daily feelings of doubt, anxiety, fear, worry,
dissatisfaction, sadness. God alone gives me HOPE. Even when I am weighed down by all that
the enemy is throwing my way, I know that I know that I know that God is my only hope. I am
NOT at home here on this earth. I will never be at home here on this earth. Even on my darkest
days, I know that He is faithful. And I have a hope (confidence) that His faithfulness alone is
what saves me. Even on my best days, I am not at home here.
Do you look at the world with distrust because people closest to you have caused you great
pain? Do you look at the world with compassion because those closest to you could not care for
you and now you want to care for everyone who is hurting? Do you look at the world through
jealousy because you have never had it easy and everyone else seems to have surpassed you
with their success? Do you look at the world and feel your inadequacy because you feel you do
not measure up? Your lens is your lens. Your experiences are your experiences. God has
placed you at this time and place in history for His purposes and His glory alone. This fact will
never cease to amaze me. We are here for HIS good purpose…and YET, He loves ME and
weaves me into His tapestry of history. The same is true of you.
We have a lens with which we view the world, the church, our families, our friends, etc. God
loves you just as you are. He loves me, just as I am. And, yet, He loves us so much just as we
are that He does not let us remain just as we are. He wants us to daily work out our salvation.
To train for the race, to build our endurance. He wants us to run the good race. I am going to be
transparent with you right now and admit that as I am writing this, I am exhausted. I am barely
running the race right now. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is strong and I know that my redeemer
lives. He is the only reason I am ambling along right now. I am in a daily struggle to put one foot
in front of the other. I have allowed fear and anxiety to weigh me down. I hope that by the time
this is published, I will be on the other side of this valley, but only God knows.
We all have different struggles, but your struggle is not anything that is not common to man. I
know there are others who have had the same struggles I deal with. It is a vicious cycle and it
spins out of control before you know it. God’s Word is living and active and has the power to lift
you out of the cycle. It may not happen in a flash. It may not happen in two weeks. I choose to
meditate on the common grace that my gracious God pours out for every human being. The
beautiful sunrise and natural world. The gift of children and new life. Changing seasons. I also
choose to meditate on the saving grace my Jesus gave to me. The mind blowing way that He is
always faithful even when I am not. The way He always provides for me. The blessings He
pours out in my life and the fact that I am deserving of none of them. The way that He always
pursues me, even in my apathy.
What is your outlook on life today? What word or words are your focus? Where does your mind
travel when you have a moment to yourself? I encourage you to fix your mind on a word that
draws your heart and mind to the Savior. Is it always easy? Absolutely not! However, I have
found it more difficult to fix my mind on Christ in a deeply meaningful way when things are easy.
I have spent much more time and effort leaning into the Word during the struggles than in the
fun and easy times. There is that holy upside down economy again! Lord Jesus, I pray that
every person reading this will be encouraged to lean in to You and that You are glorified in us
every day. Thank you for Your amazing and mind blowing grace.
I thank God that you are part of my community. May you run your race well today!
Author – Cari Cockrell
Lying is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Adultery is wrong. Murder is wrong. Says who? Who decided that? Who got to determine what is considered right and what is considered wrong? And is it true for everyone? Is it wrong for everyone to lie, steal, cheat and/or murder? The world tells us to believe in a relative truth instead of absolute truth. Relative truth says: What is true for me may not be true for you. Our world is constantly arguing about who is right. Democrat versus Republican. Vaccine versus no vaccine. Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice. Gay marriage versus heterosexual marriage. So, who is right? And more importantly who gets to decide who is right and who gets to decide who is wrong?
If you are a believer, were raised in church, or have even been around much at all you would recognize the first four sentences of the previous paragraph more easily if read: Thou shall not lie. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not commit adultery. Thou shall not commit murder. Most people would immediately recognize them as part of the 10 Commandments1. The 10 Commandments are a part of the Mosaic Law2. Let’s briefly refresh our memory:
The Mosaic Law was part of the Mosaic Covenant which was a conditional covenant between the people of Israel and God (Yawheh), which both parties voluntarily entered pledging to uphold their end of the covenant. God promised blessing in exchange for the Israelite’s obedience and assertion of Yahweh as their only God.
The Mosaic Law is made up of three parts: the Ten Commandments, the ordinances, and the worship system (priesthood, tabernacle, offerings and festivals).
So what is the ultimate purpose of the 10 Commandments and, in turn, the Mosaic Law? Although not an exhaustive list, there are two truths God wanted to reveal to His people through the Mosaic Law:
- To reveal the holy character of God to the nation of Israel (Leviticus 19:2).
- To reveal the sinfulness of man (Galatians 3:19).
In Knowing Scripture Pt. 1, we talked about how knowing Scripture leads to the knowledge of God. The Law is from God and does indeed reveal God’s character and His will for His people. In revealing Himself, God sets the standard. And that standard is holiness. Leviticus 19:2 says, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Who sets the standard? Who decides what is right and what is wrong? God does. The standard is set by His perfect character. And the standard is holiness.
What role does knowing Scripture play in our pursuit of holiness? James 1:22-25 says:
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does.
Scripture serves as a mirror. It not only reveals what kind of person we are, but it does so by first revealing who God truly is. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. There can be no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God.3 So when we compare ourselves to the holy God of the universe, we quickly come to the realization that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God4. And therein lies the answer to the importance of knowing Scripture: knowing Scripture results in knowing your sin-fallen, hopeless, desperate state. God reveals Himself through Scripture to graciously and compassionately disclose our sin. Why? Because sin separates us from God and God does not want us to be separated from Him. Ephesians 2:1-11:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins… But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
God loves you too much to leave you enslaved in your sin-fallen state. He wants so much more for you. We see an example of this at the end of Genesis 3. Adam and Eve have sinned. They have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God declares their punishment., promises a Savior. Yet the grace lies in verses 22-23, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ – therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden…” God sent them out of the Garden of Eden so that they might not sin further by eating from the Tree of Life, which would cause them to live forever. God did not want them to live eternally in their sin. He did not want them to live eternally separated from Him forever.
Knowing Scripture is knowing our sin. Knowing Scripture keeps us from falling into more sin. Romans 3:20 says, “…for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” We must know God’s Word in order to know our sin. In John MacArthur’s book Reckless Faith he says, “Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it.” How do we know the truth, what God says is right and wrong? We know by studying and knowing the real thing, by knowing Scripture. Do you know who knows Scripture really well? Satan. See Satan is a master at counterfeiting God’s word and he wants everyone to live separated from God. So, Satan uses Scripture to accomplish his purposes which are for confusion, doubt, and sin. He uses Scripture confidently and out of context. Satan takes God’s words and changes them ever so slightly to make the difference almost undetectable, like counterfeiters. But someone who knows God’s Word will recognize the difference and refute the lie. How will they know? Because they have treasured God’s word in their heart that they might not sin against God5. The only way to refute a lie is to know the truth. We see Satan’s blatant blasphemy in Matthew 46 when he uses Scripture to try and trick Jesus, who is the Word became flesh7. If Satan is so bold to attack Christ with His own words, we should expect no less of an assault.
Knowing Scripture is knowing God. Knowing Scripture is knowing our sin. Satan does not want us to be able to recognize our sin. He wants us to justify our sin. But we must know our sin and name our sin to fight our sin. We must fight our sin in order to live in fellowship with God.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you might be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… taking up… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
Author – Sarah D.
1 The 10 Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17
2 The Mosaic Law – Exodus 20-40; Leviticus 1-7; 23
3 Romans 3:23
4 Wilkin, Jen. “Chapter 1: Turning Things Around.” Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2019, p. 26.
5 Psalm 119:11
6 Matthew 4:1-11
7 John 1:14
Why are you here? Not in a proverbial sense of “why do you exist,” but why are you here on this blog? What is your purpose, your motive, for setting aside time to read this entry? My hope is that you are here because you want to gain knowledge and understanding of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. But sometimes our motive isn’t that pure. Sometimes our motive is to check a box, to get a quick shot of the Holy Spirit and move about our day. Yet God is worthy of so much more than that. Everything we do it seems these days is rushed. Relying on Waze to provide us with the fastest route possible. Ordering our food on an app so it’s ready when we pull up. Texting ‘thank you’ instead of calling or sitting down to write a card to mail. Our world hurries us. We hurry ourselves. Yet, God doesn’t hurry us. He beckons us to abide, to wait, to meditate, to rest, to be still.
The portion of the Christian life in which this “hurry up” mentality is hurting us the most is in our studying of Scripture. The Daily Devotionals are getting shorter and shorter. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts have started to serve as our only means of seeing God’s Word – in a charmingly captured picture with a verse in beautifully scripted font. It has been said that our current generation is the most Biblically illiterate generation of all time. Why? Because we have the Bible at our fingertips – which is amazing, but it is causing us to not memorize or spend prolonged time in His Word because we can just Google it. We can just hop on our “YouVersion” app. There are more Bibles now than ever before yet people do not know what they say. If we don’t know what Scripture says, then we certainly can’t know the God who Scripture is wholey about.
WHY KNOW SCRIPTURE?
One of my favorite verses is Exodus 33:13, and it says, “Now then, if I have found favor in Your sight in any way, please let me know Your ways so that I may know You…” Knowing Scripture is how we know God. Let me know Your ways so that I may know You. God in His majestic infinite and incomprehensibility must graciously reveal Himself to us as finite beings with limited knowledge. God does this. God reveals Himself through creation (Romans 1:20), God revealed Himself through His Son, Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:15-20), God reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17, 26; 1 Corinthians 12:3) and God reveals Himself to us through His Word. God left nothing to chance. He created the starry heavens to point us to His sovereignty. He sent His Son, Immanuel, to literally live among men. God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell those who put their faith and hope in Christ – who guides us into all the truth, God’s word is truth (John 16:13; 17:17). And, just in case we still don’t grasp the awesomeness of God, in case we forget His faithfulness – He has it all written down for us. John says in his letter in 1 John 5:13, “I have written to you…so that you may know…” If John, a mere mortal, has written down instructions and encouragements in order for the church to remember, would not our good God do the same for us? Matthew in his gospel records Jesus Christ saying this:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or what person is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? So if you, despite being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Our God, our good Father, gives us good gifts. Scripture is one of those gifts – a gift of remembrance. Our Ebenezer stone, to remind us of who God is, all He’s done, and all He will do.
GOD WANTS US TO KNOW HIM
God’s Word is written proof that God wants us to know Him. When the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses, the Israelites were wandering in the desert as punishment for their lack of faith, grumbling, and disobedience to God. While they are wandering, God inspires and instructs Moses to write these books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Why have Moses write these books then, during the wandering? Why did God feel like the Israelites needed these books during this specific time? Because the Israelites were about to acquire the Promised Land of Canaan with the pagan, idol-worshiping inhabitants. God starts out Genesis with the infamous verse of, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Knowing when the book of Genesis was written gives significance to this verse. God wanted His people, the Israelites, to know He had created the heavens and the earth. Why? Because the Canaanites would tell the people of Israel something different. They would tell the Israelites one of their many gods had created specific portions of the heavens and the earth. The Canaanites would tell the Israelites who their gods were, what they controlled, how to please them, how to worship them. God wanted the Israelites to know beyond a shadow of a doubt who He was and what He had accomplished so that they would not be misled. God wanted them to know Him and in knowing Him, know the truth. That’s why the first five books – the Law, the Torah – were written – so that the Israelites may know Him. How could the Israelites confidently stand on a foundation of knowledge that had never been laid? How could the Israelites have boldly proclaimed a God who had never fully revealed Himself to them? The Israelites could not have fully known God without Him graciously revealing Himself to them.
The same is true for us. We could not fully know God without Him revealing Himself to us. And we cannot fully know God apart from His Word. God revealed Himself to the original authors of the Bible to their original audiences and it transcends time and distance to reach out to you; to inform your mind and heart of who God is. God has literally orchestrated the universe that we might know Him. Then He went the extra mile by giving us His Son, the Holy Spirit and His written Word.
So why do we think a 30-second devotional will adequately grow our knowledge of our incomprehensible God of the universe? There are no shortcuts in growing in your knowledge of God. Knowing God is a lifelong project. It’s a lifetime of grace-motivated, Holy Spirit led, prayer filled, Bible study. And even then, we will barely scratch the surface of the sovereign, omnipotent, eternal, infinite, incomprehensible God who moved heaven and earth that we may know Him.
So hunker down. Resolve to spend time in God’s Word. Let the Word of God richly dwell within you so that you may know the God who went to great lengths to reveal Himself to you all that you may know Him.
Author – Sarah D.
I am a 28-year-old introvert, who was pushed for years to be something I was not. This was to be – outgoing, loud, and energetic. Well, I sit here writing this blog post feeling completely inadequate to tell you ladies about how I have grown over the years from being pushed and prodded. The Lord brought an idea to mind through it all though – “But the Lord is bigger…” I love being alone, I love the quiet, I love sitting by myself, I love minding my own business, I love only having 2-3 best friends in my life. I find great comfort in being alone. – “But the Lord is bigger…” This idea goes greatly against my disdain for being pushed out of my comfort zone. I hate talking to new people, I hate answering the phone, I hate big crowds, and I HATE talking in large groups! Reading this list, you are probably thinking, how has the Lord grown this lady if she still hates all these things? You would be right to ask that question! I do still hate all these things; however, the Lord is bigger! I have learned that the Lord is bigger than my hate of these things and He is right beside me when I am doing the things that scare me most.
Ways the Lord has grown me:
Pushed to speak in groups: In college I was the kid that would do all the work for group projects if I did not have to present the project. To this day, that is still something I struggle with. I would rather do all the work and have someone else teach the lesson or give a presentation. It genuinely is not a factor of being lazy, but a deep fear of saying the wrong thing, and frankly just being awkward! But inevitably there were classes I had to do the presentation in and there are still times I have to do announcements. In those times when I am asked to speak in front of people in any form, I physically feel a lump in my throat form. I get a stress ulcer in my mouth, and I often allow myself to get worked up over speaking in groups for weeks and I try to trick myself into forgetting about it until the moment is here, but that never works! After the moment is done and the speaking is over, you know what? I don’t die, I don’t pass out, I don’t throw up. I may have sweaty hands, I may have looked like a crazy person waving my hands all-round, and I may have even cried afterwards. But in the end, I am okay, and I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone a little more each time. Even though I still do not get excited to speak in front of groups, I can say each time it does get a tiny bit easier, not much easier but there is still growth. We are not promised life altering changes over night, we are called to be faithful servants to be used how the Lord sees fit. It seems like the Lord likes to take me out of my comfort zone a lot. But no matter how awkward or nervous I get; I am glad that I have conquered a little bit of my fear each time. And that is all through the strength of God being bigger.
Married an Extrovert: Being an introvert married to an extrovert seems to be a common coupling I see over and over, and it is my relationship as well. It was not until a few years into our marriage that we learned what introverted and extroverted meant. just for clarity sake – an Introvert is someone who recharges with time alone. and an Extrovert is someone who is recharged when they are around people. (These are very basic summaries of these two personality traits, there are many more things that go into it, but you will have to research those.) When I would work 8 hours and then go volunteer in youth after working, I would just feel depleted. At the end of the night, I literally had nothing left to give because I had been “on” all day. This was confusing for us in the early years as to why I was exhausted. But we have come to learn more about ourselves and paying attention to what we need, and this can and does make a big difference. Now knowing more about myself, I can know my limits a bit better and live and minister within those limits. I still sometimes push myself to far pass those limits and I feel it when I do that. However, I think one of the biggest blessings in my life was for me and my husband to learn this about ourselves. I do still find myself at times hiding behind the fact that I am introvert, so I do not have to do stuff. This is one of the biggest lies Satan can tell me because it is just not true. Yes, there are days I do not want to do things, we all have those days and times. But we know that we can still show up in smaller ways then maybe other times and still be present. My husband always called me out on this, and it does make me mad, but it only makes me mad because I do not want to be caught in the fact that I am hiding in my introverted ways. But my husband is right in calling me out in my hiding, because in that moment I am being selfish. Now hear me out, because knowing limits is a good thing but knowing your limits and hiding out because you don’t want to do something are two very different things and I have done both several times. So always know whether you are respecting your limits or if you are hiding behind something to avoid a responsibility. One way I work on this is by asking God to reveal that to me and be willing to hear the answer! When I have had a long day, it is best for me to take a step back and let someone else take the lead because in that moment, I may not be where I need to be and that is helpful when you can know that about yourself. Knowing that I recharge when I am alone has also been helpful because more and more youth today have also realized this about themselves, and this is a struggle within youth ministry. Many people think because you are young, you should want to do everything and anything and that is just not the truth. So, I am so thankful that the Lord taught me this about myself because I have been able to come along side other youth girls and make them feel seen for who they are and not just forced into playing games and answering questions.
So, I am truly blessed to be married to an extrovert because it has taught me to see how people function differently. And it has helped me be able to step up and minister better to people. If you asked my husband, I like to think he would say the same about himself, that he now being married to an introvert as now learned some things and how to minister to people better than we did in our younger days of ministry and marriage. One of the biggest ways the Lord has grown me is in meeting my husband. My husband is loud, funny, lights up the room when he walks in, and he has never met a stranger. The Lord knew what He was doing when Jordan and I met, because he pushes me daily to be better and I do not always like it but I am always thankful for it. I guess it just goes to show that opposites often attract for the best. If it were not for the Lord bringing my husband into my life, I would not be able to do many of the things outside of my comfort zone that I do. This is because the Lord uses him daily in this manner and I am so thankful for that. Because it has helped us learn how to minister to each other in the best way and to others.
Called into Ministry: I work with youth girls, and I love being a part of their lives and hearing their successes and their failures. I had great women in my life when I was in youth group, and I am so glad I get to give back to that for young ladies. However, I have not always felt that way! When I was younger, I thought to be in ministry you had to be fun, loud, and exciting all the time and that was not me! When I was 16 years old, I accepted the calling on my life for full time ministry and I was nervous. This calling took me to Seminary where I met my husband and then that moved us both into youth ministry in different capacities. Through the years the Lord has put me in situations that were largely out of my comfort zone and while I hated it in that moment, looking back I am so thankful for those times of growth. The Lord has put me in situations where I had to speak in groups, overseeing teams on mission trips, and having to simply lead from a vocal point as been a large area the Lord has pushed me to grow in. These are all things I do almost on a weekly basis, this does not mean I am good at these things now. The Lord is continuing to grow me in my teaching, speaking in groups, and leading. I am an observer by nature, and I like to sit and listen. As a result, these weekly responsibilities are a weekly reminder that God is bigger than my failures in these areas. God is bigger than my fear of failure in these areas, and God will use a willing heart. So be open to the idea of failure and know that when God is using you, He does not see it as failure. Let us continue to grow in our weak areas and know that He will give us the strength to push forward and do uncomfortable things.
After all of that, I would say there are three big things I have learned and am still putting into practice every day to be better and grow into a servant of Christ:
- Say yes to hard and uncomfortable things. You will be so surprised how you are grown from doing things outside of your comfort zone.
- Allow people to speak into your life. There are people in your life that love you and see things that you do not always see. let them speak truth to you and accept it when it is unwanted and try to grow from it.
- Know that what God has called you to, He will equip you to do. This may not be how you see fit to be equipped but it is not about what you think should happen. It is about how we can serve Christ through our lives, and this means being open to be used for things we won’t like. But we will learn, and we will grow from these experiences, and you never know how that will allow you to be the person that speaks truth into someone else’s life.