Monday, July 4, 2011

Excellence

2 Peter 1:5

I am currently writing this post after having a very productive and busy day.  First thing this morning, my husband and I went to a strawberry farm (just in time) to buy some of their last strawberries.  We then went to the store to pick up some groceries.  After coming home, I began to make some strawberry freezer jam (I LOVE strawberry jam).  After making enough jam to last several months, I made a strawberry pie for dessert tomorrow.  I then began a new food adventure by making homemade yogurt (which seems to be quite simple).  We'll see how it turns out in about another hour, but the process is interesting.  The milk needs to be heated to 185 degrees (Fahrenheit) and then cooled to about 110 degrees.  When it is at 110 degrees, you add 2 - 3 tablespoons of quality plain yogurt with live cultures.  It then needs to be kept warm for about 7 hours and the live cultures do their work on the milk and make it into yogurt.  Since it is my first batch, I had to check on the progress and I am excited to report that it is looking like it is turning into yogurt!

Making the yogurt made me realize that it fits so well with the verses I want to study over the next couple of days.  Please look up 2 Peter 1:5-8.  Maybe you read these verses and wondered how that could have anything to do with making yogurt, but please stay with me.  Peter is instructing us to add these particular qualities to our faith in order to keep us from becoming ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus.  Milk spoils quickly, and many societies made yogurt in order to keep the milk from spoiling too quickly.  The live cultures change the milk over time by eating the milk sugar (lactose) and replacing it with lactic acid.  When we diligently work on possessing these qualities, they change us over time.  Today, we should not look like the same person we were last year.

The first quality we are told to add to our faith is goodness.  The Greek word for goodness can also be translated as "moral excellence," as it is written in the New Living Translation.  It is also a "virtuous course of thought," according to BlueLetterBible.com.  Philippians 4:8 uses this word when Paul writes, "...think about the things that are excellent and worthy of praise."  It makes me think about goodness being more than just what we do; it is also how we think.  We are not adding to our faith moral excellence shown by only our actions, we are also thinking about things that are morally excellent.  I have looked at how so much starts with our thought patterns, and it seems to come up so many times during my Bible study.  God wants us to hold what we think about with just as high importance as how we behave.  This may sound too difficult, but remember last week I looked at how God has promised that we have the tools we need to live a godly life.  Through Christ, we can do this (Philippians 4:13).

Let the active cultures of excellent thoughts change you forever.  When our thoughts are about excellent things, we begin to live out excellence in our lives.  That is one of the reasons I am memorizing scripture; I want scripture to fill my head.  When I begin noticing that my thoughts are not of good things, I rebuke them by saying, "This thought is not from God.  I command these thoughts out of my head in the name of Jesus."  That may sound silly, but it truly clears my head and sets me back on the right course.

Are you thinking and living goodness?

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