Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who Do We Fear?

Matthew 10:26-31

Every now and then a new perspective is helpful.  It helps us to relate better to someone going through a situation, we have more empathy when we change our perspective.  It can also help us to prioritize things because we can see what is more important.  As I am concluding my Only God study, I want to look at what our response should be know that God is our everything.  This week is based on Deuteronomy 10:12, where we learn that we are to fear God, live in a way that pleases Him, and to love and serve Him with all our heart and soul.  I want to look at what Jesus told us about fearing God in Matthew 10:26-31; please read those verses.

It almost seems as if Jesus was showing us a godly perspective on fear.  I've struggled with fear, so I can relate to the need for a new perspective.  Fear can paralyze us and keep us from doing the things we are supposed to be doing.  Was Jesus telling us that we should be cowering in fear from God?  No.  He was giving us a perspective on where our thoughts should be focused on.  We should be respectful of the fact that God is our Creator and He is the one who gives and takes away life.  He is the only One who has the power to make the decision of eternal life or death.  That should be something we keep in mind and have a respectful fear when we think of that.

This respectful fear should surpass our concerns about what the world will do to us because the world cannot give eternal life.  This respectful fear can help us when the task is daunting because we can remember that we are not to be pleasing the world, we are to be pleasing God.  This respectful fear of God should make us want to be made right before Him through Jesus.  It is perspective that can save us because that respectful fear will also help us understand why we need a Savior.

Keep in mind that God is not looking down on us waiting for us to mess up bad enough to wipe us out.  On the contrary, He knows that we've messed up and He has a love for us that is far beyond our ability to comprehend.  His love for us gave us Jesus, who was perfect in sinless yet paid our penalty for our sins and conquered death by rising again.  We just need to remember who God is.

Do you have a respectful fear of God?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What Is Our Response?

Deuteronomy 10:12

For this last week of my Only God study, I would like to look at what our response should be to God who is our only God.  There is so much more that we could declare only God in our lives, but throughout this study I looked at the following:

God is the only God
Only God is our Provider
Only God is our Creator
Only God is both God and man
Only God is our Savior
Only God makes us new
Only God is our Healer
Only God is Holy
Only God is Just

God is amazing and awesome and He loves us dearly.  He loves us so much that He saved us even when we didn't do anything to earn it.  He loves us so much that He makes us a new creation in Jesus so we can do the good things He planned for us (Ephesians 2:10).  He loves us so much that He provides for us and heals us.  God is not a god who doesn't care about us and our concerns, He is a God who has sacrificed much so we could have a right relationship with Him.  Let's look at Deuteronomy 10:12 to see what our response should be.

We see three things in this verse that we should do: fear the Lord our God, live in a way that pleases God, and love and serve God with all our heart and soul.  Each is a fairly simple concept to get, but living it out is different.  I think there is a reason that God told us to fear Him as the first command in this verse.  Because we can't see God, it is very easy to become casual about the way we view and relate to Him.  If we lived every moment of every day with the thought that the God of the universe was with us, we would probably make very different choices.  But sometimes we make choices out of our fear of people over what we know God would want us to do.  We forget that God is the only One whom we should fear.  He is the only One who can give us eternal life or death, and this should give us a respectful fear.

Our fear of God doesn't have to be a picture of a God who is just waiting for us to make a mistake so He can pounce on us.  Don't forget that He has a tremendous love for us that elicited the greatest sacrifice the world has ever seen.  But, our response to this love should be that we live our lives in a way that pleases Him.  This means obedience.  God wants a heart of obedience; He wants us to have a desire to please Him.  How do we know what pleases Him?  We need to be in the Bible, we need to be a part of a community of believers and worship, and we need to form spiritual friendships.  This will build our knowledge and understanding of how we should live and provide accountability.

The last thing that God listed in this verse is to love and serve Him with all our heart and soul.  This means that we are not just saying we love Him, this means that we really love Him.  Our services to Him is fueled out of our love for Him.  We don't serve Him because we have to; we serve Him because we get to.  God doesn't need us to serve Him, but He wants us to live life with Him.  He wants us to be a part of ministry with Him.  It is absolutely amazing that the creator of everything would want us to serve Him!

What is your response to God?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Static

Hebrews 12:1-2

Have you ever noticed that static is something we deal with on a daily basis?  When we listen to the radio in the car, something will happen to weaken the signal strength.  Maybe you drive in a tunnel or maybe you are driving out of the range of the radio tower.  Whatever it is, it distracts us from the music or programming we are listening to.  I have also noticed that the more I listen to the static, the less I hear the music - even if the static isn't too bad.  I was thinking about this because our walk with God can be like that too; we deal with things in life that can distract us and turn our focus on that instead of God.  Things like busy schedules, work stress, marital issues, a child struggling at school can all add static.

One thing that I have learned is that when life's static start creating issues I explore and see what is going on.  Maybe it is just a little noise that I have to tune out and continue to focus on God.  But sometimes, it may be because I'm driving out of the signal range and I need to turn around.  Focus is a choice.  We can choose to continue focusing on God no matter the noise around us.  Direction is a choice.  We can choose to walk away from God's voice, or we choose to stay close enough to hear Him.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV.

What are you choosing?

This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Promise For Those Who Show Justice

Psalm 106:1-3

I love that God is faithful!  God will always do what He promises and He can do everything He promises.  Just that knowledge in and of itself is enough to empower us to do what He asks us to do.  This is because we are not doing it on our own, when we give our life over to God we are living life with the power of the Holy Spirit.  This means that we can do all that He asks of us, which is encouraging to remember on the days when life seems hard and is stretching us in all directions.  All week long, I have been studying how justice is so important to God and He wants it to be important to us.  Today, I am looking at a promise God gives to those who show justice.  Please look up Psalm 106:1-3.

These verses are awesome because they first remind us the greatness of God and His power to do anything and then we are given a promise.  Isn't that just like our Father to remind us of the fact that He is faithful just before giving us a promise?  To me, it is like God is saying, "You can believe this promise I am giving to you because I always live up to my promises.  I can do anything!"   What is the promise?  Joy!  God promises joy to those who do what is right and show justice.  Yesterday, I showed that the justice that I am writing about this week has to do with the way we treat people.  We should always treat people the way we would want to be treated.

I wonder if He promised joy because doing the right thing isn't the easy way out.  Doing the right thing can sometimes put us in a position of inconvenience.  Doing the right thing will mean that we are considering how our actions are effecting the people around us.  Doing the right thing means that we will sacrifice our comfort in order that someone else will be treated fairly.  But we can know that God promises joy to those who show justice and do what is right.  What a wonderful promise we can cling to when doing the right thing is hard!

Do you believe in God's promise of joy?

This post is linked with Brag on God Friday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

To Do Justice

Micah 6:8

Have you ever noticed that it is really easy to try to squeeze God into our own theology?  We can know what we want God to be, and it is then easy to look at the Bible to make it fit our description.  Something I pray whenever I read the Bible is that God would show me what I need to learn.  I don't want to read something to fit in what I want to believe and support a false belief; I want truth.  I want to know what God is saying about who He is and how He wants me to live - even if that means that I am seeing how I need to change.  All week long I have been studying how only God is truly just and I realized that I haven't completely explained what I mean when I use the word, justice.  Justice is one of those words that can have some different layers of meaning and can cause some confusion, so I want to spend some time today clarifying where I am coming from.  Please read Micah 6:8 to see the context I am looking at.

The word used in this verse for justice is mishpat in Hebrew.  This is a complex word because it has several meanings including judgement, an ordinance, or a decision.  It also means right or proper.  So, we can look at justice to mean that a judgement is being passed down or a rule is being put into place.  However, looking at the rest of the verse and even the context of the the chapter, I don't think that is the definition that fits here.  When I looked at the verse in Hebrew, the word before mishpat was asah, which means "to do."  So this verse is saying "to do justice," which I find interesting.  According to dictionary.com, to do justice means to do the right thing.  The other thing that I am looking at is the fact that the other two commands have to do with how we relate to people and God.  We are to show mercy to others and we are to walk humbly with God.  So, it almost seems that it is a relational context in which we are to do the right thing.

We are to do the right thing in the way we treat people.  Isaiah 1:16-17 uses the mishpat in a similar context.  In this verse we are told to seek justice and then we are told to defend those cannot defend themselves.  We are to seek out what is the right way to treat people and then rectify the injustices we see.  That is the context of the word justice that I am studying this week.  Are we seeking to undo injustices?  Are we doing the right thing in the way we treat people?  Loving our neighbor is the kind of justice God wants us to exercise.

Where can you start to do justice?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The More Important Things

Luke 11:37-42

Everyone has a "comfort zone," and stepping out of it is never easy.  No one's comfort zone is quite the same, but whatever it is we tend to cling to it and protest when we are forced out of it.  One thing that is certain is that God doesn't want us to stay in our comfort zones because when we leave them behind we grow closer to Him. He becomes our comfort zone.  Sometimes pulling us out of our comfort zone means pointing out things that need to change.  Jesus did this often with the religious leaders, and I don't believe that it always fell on deaf ears.  In Acts, we read that there are believers who were Pharisees (Acts 15), so we know that Jesus didn't just say things that were tough to anger and humiliate them; He wanted to save them!  So, when I have to hear something that is hard I know it is hard because I need to change.  When we are in the Bible, we cannot help but hear a message that shouts out a message of change and leaving our comfort zones.  Please read one way that Jesus was pulling the Pharisees out of their comfort zones in order to bring them closer to God in Luke 11:37-42.

This week as I look at how only God is truly just, I can see throughout the Bible that this is what God expects from us.  We can also see in the New Testament that the Law happens when we are loving God with everything in us and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Justice is an extension of our love for others.  When we are loving our neighbor, we will care what happens to our neighbor.  We will care about the injustices in this world.  The Pharisees wanted to express their love and faithfulness by obeying the letter of the Law; however, they had forgotten the heart behind the law.  If you continue reading on in Luke 11, you will see that Jesus compares the Pharisees with the Israelites that persecuted the ancient prophets.

Why would Jesus compare them with a society that had fallen so far away from God?  I believe that it was because God told the Israelites that justice was what He wanted from the Israelites.  He couldn't hear their praise and sacrifices when they were treating each other unfairly.  Jesus saw that the Pharisees were willing to tithe and were faithful in their tithing; however, they had forgotten the poor.  They had forgotten to be generous to those who were unable to help themselves.  Jesus told them to continue following the Law, but don't forget the heart behind the Law.  That is what makes the Law so important!  Love others...show justice.  Those are the more important things.  He is calling all of us to do the same...step out of our comfort zones and pour our love out on others.

How can you use justice to express love to others?

This post is linked with Internet Cafe Devotions and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Do We Bring Justice?

Isaiah 58:6-12

Have you ever noticed that for every decision you make there is a consequence?  The consequence could be positive or negative, but there is always a result that happens from your decision.  For example, I could decide that I don't feel like wearing my coat in the middle of January and the resulting consequence is that I will be cold while I am outside.  But that is a consequence that only effects myself.  Some decisions I make effect other people such as what I decide to make for dinner will have an effect on my entire family.  But there are times when we make seemingly little decisions that have a huge effect on someone else.  An example of that would be what brand I choose to buy can have an effect on people I never met on the other side of the world.  Our big world has become smaller over the recent decades and it has created moral decisions that we now face even when we are at the grocery store.  Please read Isaiah 58:6-12 to see what God says on how we should be treating people.

This week I am focusing on the fact that justice is very close to God's heart.  It is so important that as we read through these verses, we see that it something that He held against the Israelites.  However, He also promised healing once they began to care about people and call for justice.  We still live in a world full of injustices and we do not have to look very far to find them.  The fact that a child living in the inner city does not get as good of an education as the child growing up in the suburbs is not fair.  The reality that there are people in the world that get by on one meal a day and sometimes not even that much is not fair.  The reality that human trafficking exists is wrong.

The purpose of this post is not to guilt you.  The problem with our world-wide economy is that we will inadvertently support someone who is either robbing someone of fair wages or even using slave labor because we buy the product that they make.  But we can educate ourselves and the people around us.  We can find out what companies participate in fair trade practices and pay their employees a fair wage.  We can support ministries that fight human trafficking.  We can care about how our little every day decisions can effect the world and do something about it.  This is a broken world and we will never be able to get rid of every single injustice, but we don't have to stand for it or idly sit by and watch it happen.

Yesterday, I looked at the reality that God loves justice.  Today, we can see that justice is something He expects from us.  If we love God, we will also love justice.  The more we spend time with God, the more justice will be the beating of our hearts.  We can be voice for those who have no voice.  That is showing the world God's light.  That is showing the world God's heart.

Have you become more educated on the injustices in the world?  What has God laid on your heart?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Only God Is Truly Just

Psalm 37:27-29

If I were to ask you what you love, what would you say?  My guess is that you would say that you love your family, your spouse, and your children.  You may even tell me that you love God.  We use the word love so much that sometimes we water it down a bit.  For example, my daughter would say that she "loves" lasagna.  This doesn't mean that she feels affection toward lasagna, but that she enjoys eating it.  We know from the Bible that God loves us dearly with true affection, but the Bible also tells other things that are important to His heart.  As I have been looking at the Bible how we could declare, "Only God..." I found that I couldn't skip the fact that only God is truly just.  Justice is a matter that is so close to His heart that it can be found throughout the Bible.  Please read Psalm 37:27-29 to see how God feels about justice.

This Psalm tells us that God loves justice.  I found that interesting enough to look it up in the Hebrew to see what I could find out - I was curious about the use of the word love.  I knew that it wasn't translated flippantly just to express that He likes it a lot, but I still was wondering how strongly God felt about justice.  The word that is used is 'ahab which means to love.  It can mean a love for people, but this word also has another meaning that has a very strong emotional bent.  It also can mean "human appetite for objects such as food, drink, sleep, wisdom," (see footnote 1).  To me, this also could be a definition for the word crave.

Cravings are strong desires for something and it often dominates our thoughts.  So, when you think about this related to how God feels about justice, it gives us a pretty strong word picture.  Have you thought about the fact that God craves justice?  This isn't just something He likes or prefers, He craves justice.  This is who He is; He is the God of justice.  When you read through the Old Testament prophecies, you can see that injustice was one of the reasons His anger burned against Israel.  It is the exact opposite of who He is and He wants us as His children to show justice as well.  Throughout this week, I want to look more into justice and what that means for us.

Do you share God's craving for justice?

This post is linked with the Beauty In His Grip.

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for 'ahab (Strong's 157)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 22 Jan 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=H157&t=NLT >

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Steps Toward My Perspective

A few weeks ago, I wrote on my perspective for the year, which is justice.  As I thought out how I would begin to live it out, Lisa Puliam encouraged us to consider how we would focus on it through our time in the Bible in her post at the Internet Cafe Devotions.  I had chosen my verse to be Micah 6:8 even though there are so many other verses that reflect God's desire for justice; however, that was the first verse that drew my attention to justice so many years ago.  Using this as my theme verse seems like it is taking me back to the original call God put in my heart for justice.

I have a dear friend who reads through the Bible every year, but she learns fresh thoughts every time she reads it.  One thing she does to keep it fresh is to have a word or idea that she focuses on as she reads through the Bible.  This allows her to go through the entire Bible to see what God has to say about that verse.  She has inspired me throughout the years as she does this.  With that said, I am going to follow her beautiful example and read through the Bible with my perspective being justice.  What does God say about justice.  How does He feel about injustice.  What does He want all His followers to do about justice?  I am excited about this journey and I cannot wait to see what I have learned at the end of the year.  I have finally started my Intentional Living page where I plan to have my plan for 2012 stated there.

What is your plan to keep your perspective in focus?

You are also invited to read my post at Seeds of Faith Women.

This post is linked up with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Live Holy

Leviticus 19:1-2

When I was in college, I had friends that wanted to be a part of a sorority, either social or professional.  As they were going through the motions to be a part of the desired society, I noticed that there was a common factor among both the social and professional sororities (or fraternities): they expected certain values or behaviors out of their members and potential members.  When you wore clothing with their Greek letters on it, you were representing that group and needed to live in a way that demonstrated their values.  When we believe that our salvation comes through Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, we learn that God has a standard for all believers to live up to: be holy.  Please read Leviticus 19:1-2.

God is holy and we are His children.  This means that we are live out the values of our family in God which God says clearly in Leviticus.  He didn't stammer in this statement and He didn't leave room for exceptions.  God is holy; therefore, we are to be holy.  My small group is doing a Bible study on the book of James right now, and each day as I read the book and work in the workbook I am convicted of how much I fall short of this!  I think too often we focus so much on making a decision to follow Christ that we lose sight of what following Christ means.  Following Christ isn't just a decision to believe in Him, it is a decision to live like Him - holy.

I don't want to confuse the issue - the Bible is clear that our works are not what save us.  Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God is so rich in mercy that He made us alive in Christ even though we were dead in our transgressions.  It is by grace you have been saved."  Paul continued on in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."  Our works do not save us; however, as a result of our salvation we should be living a holy life.  James writes clearly on this idea in chapter 2.  In order to clarify this thought he wrote in James 2:21-22, "Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete."  Basically, faith is not just believing - it is acting on what we believe.

I know this is a strong message, and believe me when I say that this message is very much for me.  But after studying about the fact that God is holy, we need to come to a realization that His holiness is incredible and it effects us.  His holiness demands holy living.  The good news is that we are not in this alone.  Our ability to live holy comes through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

How is God's holiness effecting you?

This post is linked with Brag On God Friday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Whatever Is Good and Perfect

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

About five years ago I lost several pounds by dieting.  During that process, I learned how to make healthier choices when I was hungry and how to plan ahead so I didn't have to resort to unhealthy choices.  The first few months were probably the hardest (especially that first week) because all my favorite snacks and sweets were a source of temptation.  I had to learn self-control with the goal of being healthier in the end.  Our walk with God is similar.  This week I have been studying the fact that only God is holy but when we are changed through salvation God wants us to live holy lives.  The problem is that just like dieting, we have to learn self-control to learn how to deal with temptations that come our way.  The good news is that God helps us!  Please read 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

I can relate to these verses because this weekend I watched my pride be stomped all over by my failings.  Just as I was beginning to feel good about an area of weakness and feeling like I had conquered that area, I failed horribly and succumbed to the temptation.  I can identify the problem looking back at all of last week and into the weekend.  I wasn't spending time with God.  I usually start out my day in prayer, and there were some days when I didn't last week and it made me realize all the more how it is God giving me the ability to have victory in my weaknesses and not myself.  It is very humbling and a good reminder of how I am completely dependent on my perfect and holy Savior.  I cannot live a holy life on my own - it is through Christ that I have the strength to do it.  It is also encouraging to remember that God never allows more than what we can handle and will always have a way out of our temptations.

An important thing to remember is the fact that God does not tempt us.  Please read James 1:12-18.  God is holy and is never tempted nor does He tempt us.  It is very humbling to read these verses and see that any temptation we deal with comes from our own thoughts and desires.  Ugh!  That's not fun to read because it would be so much nicer if we could blame someone else for tempting us.  The reality is, we are tempted by the things that we desire, whether its root comes from pride or comfort or anything else.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.

But James gives us good news that can help us with our thoughts and temptations.  We are told that anything good and perfect comes to us from God.  That is a wonderful thought!  Philippians 4:8-9 remind us to turn our thoughts to all that is good and if all good things come from God we can be sure that those good thoughts will point us to God.  When we are more aware of God's presence, we will be less likely to give in to our temptations.  I know if I could focus on God's presence and that He is good and holy, I will want to live a holy life.  So, let's focus on whatever is good and perfect and pray for God to show us the way out of our temptations.

Where is your focus?

This post is linked up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blameless and Pure

Philippians 2:14-16

Have you ever said something and later regretted it?  Maybe you even regretted it the second it was spoken.  I know I've been there way too many times than I would like to admit.  I can go through periods where I feel like I am finally learning to master what I say, and then when I am in the middle of multiple frustrating experiences it is like an verbal avalanche.  I say one thing and then another pops out and before I realize it, I have lost control over my complaining.  The worst part of it is knowing that what I say has an impact on the people all around me and it is definitely not showing the work God is doing in me.  God is holy and we as His children are to reflect His holiness.  Please read Philippians 2:14-16.

These verses are not easy to read because I haven't been doing a good job of not complaining.  Ugh!  I could make up some excuses, but the reality is that I allowed myself to lose control of my thoughts and lose control of what I said.  We are told in verses 15 and 16 that we are to be "blameless and pure" so we can shine like lights in this world.  When we argue and complain we are opening the door to criticism and we are not shining our light as Christ told us to do.  Matthew 5:14-16 says, "You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and places it under a basket.  Instead it is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."  


Instead of losing sight and complaining, we should be focusing on the task God has given us - shine our light.  Live blameless and pure.  Do good deeds.  Live out our faith.  Matthew 5:16 tells us that these things will cause people to praise God.  That is what it is all about - to bring our holy God glory.  When people see that we are living holy lives it brings glory to God.  We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, for you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  Living out a blameless and pure life is not in vain; we are honoring God!  Let's replace the complaining and arguing with living a blameless and pure life so we shine in this world.

Have you been complaining or arguing lately?

This post is linked up with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Sin Affects Our Relationship With God

@ Deposit Photos; Balazs
Isaiah 1:10-20

When my children were very young, we used to give them a bath every evening.  There were a couple of reasons for this the first being that it was a great way to relax them before bedtime.  The second reason was because after playing all day long they were dirty (especially Spring through Fall).  If I would have bathed them as soon as they came in for lunch, it would have been silly because they would have gone outside and gotten dirty all over again.  Doing it at night got all the dirt from the day off and let them rest feeling clean.  This week I am looking at the fact that only God is holy, and when we come to the realization that we are not holy and we need a Savior we are made clean.  Today, I want to take a look at the barrier that sin makes between us and God.  Please read Isaiah 1:10-20.

Those ten verses are not easy to read!  It is much nicer to focus on the love God has for us than to see how He feels about sin.  I want to point out that these verses are directed at His chosen people - Israel.  These are people that know of Him but have chosen not to follow His law.  It would be very easy for those of us who say we are Christian to dismiss these verses because they were written for a disobedient Israel; however, I believe that every Christian has a lot to learn from these verses.  First, we need to remember that all who believe that our salvation comes from Christ becomes a child of God.  We are part of God's special possession and learn in Ephesians that Jews and Christians who believe are united with Christ in an unprecedented way.  Second, these verses show us what is important to God's heart.

God wants obedience.  He wants obedience from the heart, He doesn't want ritual.  He wants us to look beyond ourselves and to care about others.  Yes, we receive forgiveness through Christ and we become new, but that is supposed to change what we do.  James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says."  James goes on to write that the person who listens but doesn't do what it says is like a man who studies himself in the mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like when he walks away.  God is holy and He created us in His image and He doesn't want us to forget that truth.  Let's not forget the new creature God created us to be and let's be what He made us to be!

Are you living a life that reflects God's glory?

This post is linked up with On Your Heart Tuesdays and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Only God Is Holy

Isaiah 6:1-8

When I was growing up, my mom had a picture in our living room of an old man showing both his profile and his whole face.  It was an artist's drawing, and the old man had a very stern look on his face.  I remember spending time just staring at the picture wondering in my childhood comprehension if that was God.  I had no other reference for who He was except that He had to be very old since He created the world.  The reality is that I still cannot picture Him because I now understand more of His character than I did as a child and I realize that who He is spans beyond my ability to comprehend.  I can only understand a glimpse of His character and even that overwhelms me!  Have you ever been overwhelmed by who God is?  Have you ever thought about who God is?  This week, I am studying the fact that only God is holy, which is hard for me to grasp.  Holy.  Since I myself am not holy, it is hard for me to understand what holy is.  Please turn to Isaiah 6:1-8.

These verses explain Isaiah's calling to be God's prophet.  In this scene, we encounter some of God's majesty and holiness and we are given the picture of Him on a throne with His robe filling the temple.  The thing that struck me is the seraphim who were also there and they were worshiping God the entire time.  Their worship was so great that it shook the temple and their declaration was, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.  The whole earth is full of His glory."  God is so perfect and clean that He is holy.  That is the part that is so hard for me to comprehend because I have never experienced perfect.  I am far from perfect, and I have never known anyone to be perfect.

Isaiah was far from perfect as well, and this frightened him.  He realized that He was in the presence of God who is holy, and he was unclean.  But instead of being doomed, he was cleansed from his sin.  The fact that Isaiah was sure that his life was over makes me realize the intensity of God's holiness.  We can say that He is holy, but obviously we have no idea what that is really like.  It wasn't until Isaiah found himself in God's presence that he understood how great His holiness is.  Isaiah, a man that God found worthy to be His servant, was overwhelmed by God's holiness.  It is overwhelming because only God is holy.  When we understand that only God is holy, we have a realization that we are not and we need a Savior.

Does the idea of God's holiness overwhelm you?

Linking up with Sharing His Beauty.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lessons From the Week

This was one of those weeks - one of those not so great weeks.  There was no major catastrophe, but it was a bunch of little annoyances and inconveniences that bogged me down.  I know you've been there; we all have.  But God uses these kind of weeks to help us grow, too.  In fact I learned a lot through this not-so-great-week.  Here are some of the ways God stretched me:
  • Be careful about jumping to conclusions - my imagination can take things way out of reality.  
  • Even though I was disappointed in the way I reacted at times, God allowed me to see that in me so I can change.
  • God knows what I can and cannot handle even better than I do.
  • It is okay to have to deal with weaknesses because that is when I am reminded to rely on God.
  • I am not an island and God created us to be in community so we can rejoice with each other, cry with each other, and pray with each other (thank you, friends!).
Yet, in those lessons that are never easy, God also gave me joy.  Joy in the friendships He placed around me, and joy in the sheer knowledge that He loves me.  He gave me lessons such as Tuesday's post where I learned that He may not take me away from the bitter water, but He can sweeten the bitter water.  As I prayed through my disappointments and asked God to sweeten my bitter water, I realized that I needed Him to show me the tree to throw in.  As soon as I prayed for the tree, He reminded me that the tree I need is the cross.  I received peace in laying my burdens at the cross.  Such sweet peace.

What have you learned this week?

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, January 13, 2012

God Heals Through Prayer

James 5:13-18

One of the things I learned when I was studying the book of Ephesians is how God wants the church, or community of believers, to be united in Christ.  Basically, our recognition of our need for a Savior and believing that our salvation comes through Jesus unites all believers.  This is a special community where we are bound together and when one is hurting we are all effected.  On the flip side, when one is rejoicing it also effects us all.  There is power in this community because this community is the body of Christ.  Today, I want to explore what this means when we call to God for healing.  Please read James 5:13-18.

These verses spell out not only the power of prayer, but the power of community prayer.  We grow in our walk with God when we spend time alone in prayer and He listens to us and it is also our opportunity to listen to Him.  But, when we pray together there is power!  Jesus instructed His disciples on the importance of unity within the community of believers.  In Matthew 18:19-20 Jesus says, “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”  When we are gathered together in unity with one another as Christ followers, Jesus is there!  The power isn't just in the fact that many people are praying, the power is in Christ's presence.

According to James, we can come to God for any healing as a body of believers.  The thing I found interesting in this passage is the fact that confessing our sins is also mentioned in the power of prayer.  James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  When we confess our sins and give them over to God, our prayers become powerful and effective.  The Greek word translated as powerful and effective is energeĊ.  This word can mean to be at work, or to put forth power.  So when we are right with God, our prayer is at work in our lives.  That is incredible to me!  Knowing there is power in our prayer and power in praying as a unified community of believers, we can see that healing happens through prayer.

Have you spent time in prayer?  Do you pray with a group of believers?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shattered

Psalm 147:1-3

Have you ever dropped an incandescent light bulb?  It is a pretty fragile structure and it doesn't take much to break one.  Basically, if you drop the bulb you are guaranteed that it will break.  But the light bulb doesn't just crack when it breaks from a drop - it shatters.  There is no repairing the shattered bulb because you will never be able to piece it all back together.  The only thing left to do is to sweep it up and throw it away.  What about when your heart is broken?  This week I've been looking at the truth that God is our Healer.  Please read Psalm 147:1-3 to see what it says God does for the broken heart.

These verses are so encouraging to read because it tells us that God looks beyond our accomplishments or physical attributes; He looks into our hearts to see what we need.  These verses tell us that God heals the brokenhearted.  Earlier this week, I looked at the fact that God doesn't just heal physical diseases or wounds, but He heals everything.  He heals our spiritual and emotional wounds as well.  God doesn't do anything half-way, He is the true Healer who heals everything.

The thing that caught my attention is the Hebrew word translated as broken, which is shabar.  Shabar means to break, but according to BlueLetterBible.com it can also mean to reck, to crush, to rend violently, or to shatter (please see footnote 1).  That gives a pretty powerful word picture!  Have you ever been hurt deep enough that you were not just wounded, but you were shattered.  When your heart is devastated to the point of being shattered, there really doesn't seem to be any hope.  But there is hope because God tells us in the Bible that He is our Jehovah Rapha' and He heals the shattered heart.

We see this word, Shabar in Isaiah 61:1-4 where we see prophecy about God healing the broken or shattered hearts.  In these verses we are promised the oil of joy instead of mourning.  Don't ever think that your emotional pain is greater than God's ability to heal.  No matter how shattered your heart may be, God can bring you a healing and make you whole.  God can replace your sorrow with joy.  God truly cares about the state of your heart and wants to see you whole.

Do you believe that God wants to heal your heart?  Do you believe that God can make the shattered heart whole again?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursdays.

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for shabar (Strong's 7665)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 11 Jan 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=H7665&t=KJV >

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

God Can Heal Anything

Matthew 4:23-25

Yesterday, I was telling my husband about my weekly theme for my Only God study.  I explained how I was studying that only God is our true healer.  This is an overwhelming topic because when I did a word search on the word heal, there were so many scripture references!  This is awesome to me; God is our Healer - Jehovah Rapha'.  To me, this is an important thing to remember:  God heals us because He loves us.  Just as He sent Jesus to earth to die in our place, Jesus came and healed the hurting and sick.  Please read Matthew 4:23-25.

The first thing I want to point out in these verses is that we are told in verse 23 that Jesus healed every kind of disease and illness.  There was nothing beyond His ability to heal - it says He healed every kind of disease and illness.  That means everything.  I know I am sounding redundant; however, consider how we often feel about our need for healing.  It is either too big or too insignificant.  But I have personally experienced physical healing from something as little as an ear infection and I have heard stories of people from church who were inexplicably healed from cancer.  Nothing is too big and nothing is too small - God can heal every kind of disease.

The next thing that I want to point out is that once people learned of Jesus' healing power, they came to Him for all kinds of healing.  Verse 24 tells us that even the demon possessed came for healing.  No matter what kind of healing - God can do it.  Our need for healing can be physical, spiritual, or emotional and God can touch all of them.  Just as we saw earlier in the week, He can even heal our disappointment and aching hearts.  Do not underestimate God - just know that He understands your circumstance and can provide healing.

What kind of healing do you need today?

Linking up with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bitter Water Made Sweet

Exodus 15:22-27

I am still reeling from yesterday's study of God making the water sweet at Marah.  I may be wrong, but I think that is the first time God calls Himself Jehovah Rapha, which means the Lord who heals you.  This is not at all a coincidence that He would call Himself their healer when He healed the bitter water at Marah.  Remember that our God can take the bitter water of life and give us the living water we recieve through Christ - the ultimate healing!  This lesson from the bitter water of Marah is so amazing to me and I want to go back to it for one more day.  Please read Exodus 15:22-27.

Without recapping yesterday too much, I just want to go back to the fact that the Israelites had traveled the wilderness for three days without coming to a source of water.  Dehydration can cause weakness, extreme thirst, weak heart beat, racing heart, and an inability to think clearly.  Picture back to the Israelites feeling some of these symptoms and coming up to water.  Can you imagine their relief and excitement when they saw the water at Marah?  Then imagine as they dip their hands in the water and take the first taste to find out that it is undrinkable.  It probably felt like a cruel joke.  These people were in a great deal of discomfort, maybe even to the point of feeling sick and all they can find is bitter water.

It may not be literally bitter water, but we have all had our taste of bitter water.  For me, I have had a taste of bitter water when our house in Michigan (we relocated to New York) that has been for sale for over two years finally attracted someone's attention.  That person put an offer on our house that is now up for sale as a short sale; however, a few days later they pulled their offer.  That left a bitter taste!  It is hard to explain why after spending so much time praying about this that we would finally see the light of hope only to see it taken away.  We have seen friends go through difficult situations as well and feeling like they finally saw an answer to prayer only to find out later that it wasn't.  That is bitter water.

But God is our healer.  Notice in these verses that He didn't lead them to new water, He healed the bitter water.  He brought them joy from their hopes that had been dashed to the ground.  Think on this for a moment.  Imagine how great their joy must have been when God healed the water and made it sweet.  Perhaps their difficulty or anguish is what made their joy all the greater because their relief was all the greater.  James 1:2-4 says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete needing nothing."


It is so hard to grasp the idea of finding troubles an opportunity for great joy, but yet it is there in the Bible.  Maybe the sweetening of the water is a direct answer to prayer, or maybe it is sweetened by the work God does in us through the difficulty.  We can have joy knowing that God can sweeten the bitter water - He can heal the disappointed heart.  Over these last couple of days, I'm learning to pray that God sweetens the water I have been led to.  Please notice that in Exodus 15:25 that God tested the Israelites with His decrees and reminded them that He is the God who heals.  Just as James tells us that the testing of our faith is for our good, God tested the Israelites to bring them to a place of faithfulness.  Notice verse 27; God took them to the oasis of Elim where they found 12 springs and 70 palm trees.  Water and shade!  After their time of testing, they were able to rest for a while.

Do you need God to heal your heart?  Do you need Him to sweeten the bitter water of pain and disappointment?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Only God Is Healer

Exodus 15:22-27

I can't believe that I am starting week seven of my Only God study; it just doesn't seem like I've been studying this topic for very long.  Compared to others, I am only an amateur when it comes to Bible study; however, no matter where we are in our walk God can speak to each of us.  God can always teach us something from His Word no matter how much formal training we have had.  Don't you just love that God doesn't really care about our credentials; He cares about our devotion.  I want to quickly recap the different themes I have looked at so far in my Only God study, so I have a list:

Only God is God
Only God is Provider
Only God is Creator
Only God is God and man
Only God saves
Only God makes all things new

This week I want to look at how only God is our true healer.  Please read Exodus 15:22-27.

In this scene, the Israelites had just witnessed God's hand at work when He rescued them from the Egyptians.  The Israelites found themselves at the Red Sea unable to pass with the Egyptians close behind.  God miraculously parted the sea and allowed the Israelites to pass; however, when the Egyptian army was in the middle of the Red Sea, God caused the water to close in on them.  They rejoiced and praised God greatly, which is where we read about them today.  There are a couple of things that I noticed about these verses.  First, they wandered the desert for three days and found themselves desperately needing water.  When they finally found water, it was bitter and not drinkable.  Can you imagine the disappointment?  I just want to stop and say that I have been there!  I have been in a difficult season and experienced something that gave me new hope only to watch that hope be crushed.  It really is like bitter water that makes you sick to drink.  The disappointment can be so great in those moments that all you can do is cry out to God for some relief.

That is exactly what Moses did in verse 25; I'm sure this was a cry of total desperation.  A cry of anguish.  God had Moses throw a piece of wood into the water and the water became good to drink.  Do you find that strange at all?  On first glance, it would seem rather random that God would have Moses throw a piece of wood into the water but let me challenge that randomness.  These people were so thirsty and in anguish to find bitter water...undrinkable water.  Yet, God turned their anguish into joy by sweetening the water with wood.  That wood could also be translated tree.  Because our Savior died on a tree and was resurrected from death, the bitter water in our hearts was replaced with the living water that only Jesus could give.  Just as God healed the bitter water with a tree in the desert, God healed our dying hearts by sending Jesus to die on a cross.  How great our joy can be knowing that we have a hope that surpasses anything that is given to us in the world.

God then told them that as long as they obeyed Him and followed Him, they would not have the diseases that the Egyptians suffered from.  He then called Himself their healer.  We can know that God is our healer.  No matter what the ailment, God can heal.  He can heal the sickness in our hearts and He can heal our physical ailments.  The word God used in this verse is rapha' which means healer or physician.  But this word can indicate a physical healing, healing of personal distress, healing of nations, and healing of water.  How beautiful is that!?  He can heal anything.  God chose to heal the bitter water of Marah to tell us that He is the One who heals.  Oh how I needed this word today as I have been dealing with a huge disappointment!  I'm sure there are many of you that God is speaking to and wants you to remember that He can sweeten the waters and bring you joy.  God is your healer.

Are you needing healing today?  Give your anguish over to God your Healer.

Linking up with The Beauty In His Grip.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Perspective

Micah 6:8

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Last weekend, I mentioned that I was going to be following along with the Internet Cafe Devotion's Living Intentionally series this year.  This week, we were challenged to pray about and think through what our perspective for the year will be.  In the process, we were encouraged to focus on a word that is part of that focus and a verse.  The word that I chose to focus on this year is justice.  While justice is not a new word for me, it is a word that God keeps putting on my plate.  I feel like each day He keeps opening my eyes to different ways people experience injustice.  Throughout the year last year, I also felt that God kept putting verses that showed His passion for justice in front of me.  I have to admit that when I chose this word, I hadn't put a lot of prayer into it because after this last year it was right in front of me.

This is a challenging word because I feel like there is a lot of responsibility with this word.  If I say this is my focus this year, then I have to act on it.  Justice isn't a word to be talked about; it is a word that requires action.  So, really my prayer isn't what word to focus on....my prayer is what does God want me to do with justice?  This is what I feel God wants for me.

What is your perspective this year?


Linking up with Living Intentionally and Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The End of the Road?

Philippians 1:10-11

I have said many times that I am not a theologian.  In fact, I have never taken a formal class at a Bible college or seminary, but that still doesn't stop me from wanting to learn all I can.  It doesn't stop me from wanting to dig into the Bible so I can continue to grow in my relationship with God.  One thing that comes back to me often during my time in the Bible is that salvation isn't the end of the journey and we need to remember that!  Actually, salvation is the beginning of a new and better life that God wants us to live out.  It is not a pain-free, problem free life; however, it is a life filled with abundant hope that there is much more to this life than what is out in the world.  Please turn to Philippians 1:10-11.

All this week I have looked at the fact that when we accept the gift of salvation, God makes us a new creation.  James 1:16-18 says, "So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.  Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word.  And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession."  I absolutely love how James says that God "chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word."  This gets me excited for several reasons, but I will only subject you to a few.  First, we are reminded in this verse that we are made new with the word picture of God giving birth to us.  Second, we are told this happened because He gave us His true word and we know from John 1 that the Word is Jesus.  So, we are given new birth or new life through Jesus!

But He does this not just for us, but He does it to reveal His glory to the rest of the world.  So, we are challenged to live out a life filled with "the fruit of our salvation," to point out God's work in us.  When we are living in a way that is contrary to human nature, it attracts attention.  People want to know why we are different.  We are the light of the world giving all the glory to God.  I will be the first to tell you that anything good in me is a result of my Heavenly Father doing His work in my life.  It is only because of Christ that I am who I am today; I have come a long way!

Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13, "Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you.  And now that I am away, it is even more important.  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him."  The change that happens in us when are made new is a desire and the power to do what pleases God.  Before we knew God, we had no desire to please Him; however, He places that desire in us when we believe in Jesus.  We can do the things that please God because He has given us the power to do it!  So let's live out our salvation by bearing good fruit to bring glory to God.  Salvation isn't the end of the road!

Are you working to please God as a result of your salvation?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday.

You are invited to read my post on Seeds of Faith Women.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our New Clothing

Ephesians 4:20-24

For those of you who have ever taken care of a baby, you know that the baby is pretty helpless.  In fact, the newborn has so little control over their muscles, they will accidentally punch themselves.  This lack of muscle control makes it impossible for the baby to dress themselves.  However, there comes a time when the baby grows into a young child and they learn to put on their clothes all by themselves.  Then, as they become teens they have to learn discernment about what kind of clothing is appropriate to wear.  We can look at our relationship with God in a similar fashion.  Before we know Christ, we may learn to clothe ourselves but we don't know the difference between what is good in God's eyes and what is not.  However, once we believe in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit who teaches us what God wants.  Please turn to Ephesians 4:20-24.

I like the idea of "putting on" our new nature in these verses which makes me think of putting on clothes because there are some references in the Bible about special clothes.  The first reference that I want to look at  is the parable found in Matthew 22:1-14.  In this parable, Jesus tells of a king that was having a wedding feast for his son.  None of the guests that were invited showed up, so the king invited everyone found on the streets.  When he came in to the banquet hall to greet his guests, the Bible says, "he noticed a man who wasn't wearing the proper clothes for a wedding."  At the time Jesus told this parable, it was customary for the host to provide special clothes for the wedding feast. It would have been insulting for the guests to not wear the clothes.  Now compare this parable to Zechariah 3:3-5.  We are given new clothes when our sins are washed away!  What a beautiful picture.

I am covering a rather broad topic in a little blog post, so I apologize for brushing over some wonderful points and references.  Please turn to Revelation 19:7-8.  Notice the parallel in all three verses that the people were given the special clothes to wear.  These are the clothes that God wants us to wear and as we see in Jesus' parable, it is unacceptable to not wear these clothes.  Now go back to the reference in Ephesians and we read that our thoughts and attitudes are renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit and we learn what clothing we are to put on.  This week, my emphasis has been on the fact that once we believe in salvation through Christ Jesus that we are created into a new creature.  Ephesians 4:24 references that we were created to be like God - righteous and holy!  That is the new clothing we are to wear.  What a huge topic to cover in such a short amount of time...perhaps it is a topic for a future study.

Are you wearing the clothes God wants you to wear?

Linked up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

While We Wait

Titus 2:11-13

Waiting for something exciting isn't always easy.  Maybe you're waiting in line at an amusement park for a ride that you have been anticipating for a long time.  Maybe you're waiting at the airport to pick up a loved one you haven't seen in a while.  No matter what it is we're waiting for, we have a few choices to make while we wait.  We can choose to get impatient and get grouchy with the people around us or we can choose to do something constructive with our time to help us with our wait.  Paul gives us similar instruction in the book of Titus for our walk with God once we receive His amazing gift of salvation.  Please turn to Titus 2:11-13.

When we understand the grace that is extended to us, we begin to understand that there is so much more to this life.  We learn that the world we are living in is broken and it makes us long for something better - our new home in Heaven.  The Bible tells us that someday, all believers will have a new home with God dwelling among us which is such a beautiful hope!  We are told that there will be no more tears of sorrow and no more pain.  Knowing this amazing hope we have through Christ Jesus, just makes me long all the more for the day when I will get to be with my wonderful Savior.  But, as we read through these verses in Titus, we see that we are told to do something constructive while we wait.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I have been studying the fact that only God can make us a new creation when we believe in the forgiveness and salvation we are given through Christ.  In Titus, we are reminded that we have a responsibility as God's new creation.  We are to turn away from the sinful lives we were living and begin living godly lives.  We are to live with "wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God."  This means that we learn to make different choices from what we were making before.  Remember, there is a reason why we needed a Savior - because we are not perfect.  This imperfection is a signal that there are things in us that need to change.

So, while we wait for the glorious hope of our future life, we have a job to do.  We are to allow God to do His work in us to change us in the person He made us to be.  We can ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and we know that He will give it to us.  That wisdom will help us to understand how to live with righteousness.  And above all, we are to be devoted to God.  When we are walking with devotion to God, our goals and dreams change into what He wants for us.  This is not just a recommendation, we read in Titus that we are instructed to do this.  The word translated as instructed is paideuo which can mean the type of instruction a parent gives a child.  So God isn't just teaching us these things, these are His directions as a Father to His children.

What are you doing while you wait?

Linking up with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

God's Workmanship

Ephesians 2:1-10

I majored in music therapy in college, so I took a lot of music history and theory classes.  In those classes, I learned about different composers and genres of classical music.  After studying in those classes, I was able to listen to a piece of music and identify the genre and composer.  If the piece was unknown to me, I was able to make an educated guess on who the composer was based on the genre and the overall composition style.  Each composer puts a part of themselves into their music, so many times the listener can hear certain details that are used by a particular composer.  For example, when my husband and I are watching a movie, we can often identify when John Williams composed the score.  When we choose to believe in the gift of salvation we receive through Christ, we are told that God creates us new and we have a new identity as one of His children.  Please read Ephesians 2:1-10.

In this section of scripture we are reminded of what we were like prior to God's work in our lives.  This is important to remember because there are many people who live life believing that if they are good enough they will go to Heaven.  The problem with this line of thinking is where is the line drawn between good and bad?  Everyone has their own line between the two, so how does that work when the decision is made about who should go to Heaven or Hell?  God has His standard which no one has been able to live up to on their own; however, through Christ we can be made right with God.  When we can remember that we are not "good enough" to make it into Heaven on our own, we can be grateful for the gift of salvation.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that when we become a part of God's family, we are made new in Christ.  Even better, we are told that we are God's workmanship.  This is such a beautiful point to park on for a moment because our lives no longer point to the sinful human nature, but we now have the mark of Christ on us.  Just as I can often identify a composer of a piece of music through their stylistic writing, we should be pointing people to Christ because we are God's workmanship!  People can look at our lives and say, "Only God could do that work!"  A month ago, I had the opportunity to share my testimony with over 500 women which was an opportunity to give God the glory for the work He has done in my life.  It is good to share our testimonies so people can see that we truly are created anew in Christ.

Does your life show God's workmanship?  Do you live out your faith so that it points others to Christ?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Only God Makes All Things New

2 Corinthians 5:14-19

I like new beginnings.  There is something about a fresh start that is exciting to me; it is the beginning of an adventure.  As a student, I liked the idea of a new school year or a new semester to begin with a clean slate.  As a musician, the idea of learning a new piece of music was an exciting challenge.  I love cracking open a new book; it is a new world to me.  With all that said, I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions; I saw too many people try and fail.  But now that I look back, so many new goals were made at the beginning of the year as a mark of measuring the beginning and end of something.  Just in my last post, I mentioned how this year I was adding more focus and purpose in what I do, which I guess is a resolution.  So, while I may feel like I'm not making resolutions, I still am.  I am starting something new.  So, it seems fitting this week as the first week of the year to study how only God can make all things new.  Please turn to 2 Corinthians 5:14-19.

Last week, I studied about the forgiveness of sins and salvation we have through Jesus.  This week, I plan to study what that means once we choose to accept this beautiful gift of mercy and grace.  According to these verses, we read that once we believe that Christ died for us and was resurrected with victory over death we are made new.  Looking at verse 17, we read, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"  The word translated in the NLT as "new person," is the Greek word, ktisis.  This an awesome word because it means creation or creature.  I want to emphasize that no one can become a new creation on our own.  Only God can make us into a new creation!

Think about the idea of being a new creation - when we believe in the fact that our salvation only comes through Christ, we are no longer the person we used to be.  We are told in verse 14 that when we believe that Christ died for all of us, we die to ourselves.  Verse 15 tells us that that when we die to ourselves, we no longer are living life to please our human nature, but we are living life to please Christ.  Our purpose in life is no longer a selfish focus on what is best for us, our purpose is to learn and know what pleases God.  We are told that this new purpose even changes the way we view everyone around us because we are no longer looking at them with human eyes, but with the eyes of Christ.  All this happens because we are made into a new creation no longer with human intent but with the intentions of Christ.

Since we are looking at the people around us with the eyes of Christ, we will see that He died for them as well and loves them deeply.  When we focus on the love that Christ has for all, it will change the way we feel about the people around us.  When we are looking at people with our new Christ eyes, we want to see them reconciled to God just as we have been.  This is a new way of thinking that only God can inspire.

Do you believe that you are a new creation?

Linking up with The Beauty In His Grip.