She Reads Truth ~ Day 2

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

~ 1 Peter 1:3-12


The first passage for today is kinda long, but a couple things about verse 8 in particular stuck out to me. The first thing I notice, is that my physical Bible and the verses on YouVersion are slightly different, even though they are both from the New Living Translation (NLT). I noted the differences in bold:

My physical Bible says…

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

while YouVersion says…

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

 When I read my physical Bible, my reaction was that even though we can’t physically interact with Christ we are still thankful and happy to know Him, even beyond our own means of expression. When I read the YouVersion however, the “now” stuck out. That one word shows me a promise that one day we will see Him, and that promise is what makes us rejoice, the knowing that one day we will meet face to face.

Another verse that always sticks out to me is the first part of verse 7…

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold…”

Every time I read about being purified like gold, I wonder….how exactly is gold purified? What’s the process? After a quick Google search which led to an article on ehow.com, I learned that at some point or another – whether the ore is low or high grade – it will be doused with cyanide. And another website reveals that gold melts at 1947.9741° Fahrenheit/1064.43° Celsius.

Now, who in their right mind would choose to be poisoned and burned at an unimaginable heat? Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit/99.98° Celsius and if you touch boiling water you will be in pain for a while and regret it. Imagine a temperature more than 9 times that of boiling water. Who would ask for that? But leading into our next verse, that is exactly what we do, we accept that we will emotionally and spiritually be going through that.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”                    ~ Romans 8:14-17

In the very last sentence it states that this is to be expected. The promises of salvation from spiritual death, blessings from being part of the family of Christ, inexplicable peace and joy, these are given to us but there is a cost. Just as there are two sides to every coin, there will be pain and troubles when we make that choice.

This shouldn’t surprise us, really. After all, when a child is born it is usually the most joyful and painful time in the mother’s life. When a patient is finally finished with their physical therapy it is a glad day, but it took many painful days to get there.

This choice to follow Christ and live our lives as an imitation of Him is not something to be done on a whim. Yes, He gives us grace and blessings…yes He will mature us into a better person than we could ever be on our own, but it’s not without struggle and lessons. You don’t get to move up in any grade without being tested, why would the biggest decision in our life be any different?

There will be troubles, we might feel ourselves disintegrating into nothing, but think of the glorious something new we will become afterwards. It’s worth it.

She Reads Truth Study ~ 1st and 2nd Peter Day 1

So, I follow this gal Stacey Thacker on Facebook, and she posted a link to a Bible Study/reading plan from She Reads Truth. Now I’ve heard about this group and started a reading plan a couple of times via bible.com (I still think of it as YouVersion). But for some reason I haven’t ever finished one.

So, after seeing Stacey Thacker’s post and knowing she’ll probably be giving the occasional update, I’m taking another stab at it and doing the reading plan through the She Reads Truth (SRT) website directly. Not exactly “on the ball” with preparing for this, but I’m going to “give it a go” and post my reflections from the daily readings.


Day 1 Verses ~

“This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. 

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

May God give you more and more grace and peace.” ~1 Peter 1:1-2 

The SRT website had a link for the daily Scriptures which took me to biblia.com and I noticed on the side notes it stated that the provinces mentioned above – Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia – are modern day Turkey. That’s one of the reasons I like studying with other groups who have the research available, is learning what the modern day city would be in these Scriptures. It’s so easy to feel blasé when reading about these ancient cities because the names we read no longer exist. For me, it makes these letters more real to imagine the area today where they take place.

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13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”    15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” ~ Matthew 16:13-19

This verse is when Simon has him name changed to Peter. It was interesting to read why he was blessed. It appears (to my initial reading/understanding) that he was blessed because his faith that Jesus was the Messiah was based solely on his own findings and revelations. He “did not learn this from any human being”. Perhaps it was more real to him to find this truth on his own, rather than other people presenting evidence and him taking them for their word.

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35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). 42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”) ~ John 1:35-42

We can see the connection between the last two verses in this passage and the previous passage. Peter’s brother Andrew brought Peter to Christ, that’s the introduction. But he didn’t give an expansive testimony as to why he believed Christ was the Son of God or present evidence as to why Jesus was who He said He was, he just said “We have found the Messiah” and brought Peter to see for himself. He didn’t have to be convinced that this was reality, or even a possibility and to keep his mind open. It was a direct, one-on-one, revelation.

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36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me. ~ John 13:36-38

This is probably one of the more famous Scriptures regarding Peter. This is where we learn Peter is going to deny Christ after He is arrested. It’s easy for us to remember this one, because we see Peter’s flaws, his lack of perfection. He was called blessed by Christ, but he denied Christ, which many might view as the ultimate betrayal he could commit. But it’s vital that we don’t view this single act as the definition of Peter. This was our proof that even though he was blessed, he was still human and flawed. He still made mistakes, but that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t do great things for the glory of Christ.


And so, these are my thoughts after the short readings for today. Rather than looking at Peter as an example of how mistakes are inevitable, perhaps we should look at Peter as an example of how we are beautifully flawed.

Ephesians 4:1-16

Dozed a bit this morning, woke up twice before the alarm. But my sleep is getting more solid and consistent which has always been a huge struggle. And today is Wednesday! That means Duck Dynasty! And if I’m really good and use my God given spirit of self-discipline, it also means one episode (and ONLY one) of Bad Ink.

I always seem to have the most difficult time on Wednesdays with this study, looking for the Conditional/Unconditional promises. I think it might be because of the style of writing in my translation, since it’s a letter and it’s more personal (which I love). But, one thing that stood out as a promise, is that we ALL have a gift to use in the church.

Verse 7 “…he has given each one of us a special gift…”NLT

I have also learned that the “traditional” gifts are not always “your” giftI think sometimes we forget how diverse the church is for two common reasons.

1. We forget the Church is the people and not the building.  Growing up in the church in the US, it can be easy for me to forget that the Church isn’t the same as the church services. What I mean is, the church is “…the body of Christ” as stated in verse 12. It crosses the borders of denominations, it crosses the borders of the countries, so long as we are united with Christ’s spirit, we are in the same Church.

2. We have a misconception that the common or traditional gifts are the only gifts. When I personally think about gifts for the church, I think of teachers, preachers, and singers. But there is so much more! The church also needs people willing to pray, to clean, to run the office (after all, a church building has bills too). The Church as a whole also needs people to remember them in prayer even if they are in a different country or unknown to you. You could have a desire for crafting or shopping for others, and that can be your talent! You know those crosses and pictures on the wall? They came from somewhere. Those throw pillows on the office chairs, someone had to buy them and bring them to church. Does your church have regular luncheons or food-based fundraisers? You can purchase the frequently used food items, or better yet a gift card to your grocer. The point is, we may have to be creative, but if we sincerely ask God to show us what our talent/gift is, He will.

So, there you go. My thoughts that were provoked by that one portion of that one verse.  It’s time to get off the computer and get my son ready for meeting the school bus, then help my husband get ready for his class, then head off to 2 interviews today and get in touch with a third business to schedule an interview with them for this week.  I still have 5 weeks left in this Hello Mornings challenge, and I have a plethora of notes from the previous weeks………..there’ll be more posts.

Sadly neglected no more

“Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” v9 NLT

 Today is day 2 out of week 4 in my third Hello Mornings Challenge. I have severely neglected this blog during that time, even though I have been taking notes. Today, we are reading Ephesians 2:1-10 and are told to look for TRUTHS, here are mine:

MY TRUTHS ABOUT:

The Father: Loves us beyond our comprehension. Salvation is a gift. Now, the first thing that can come to my mind about verse 9 is the different religions of the world that require you to be “the best of the best” to earn your “special place” in Heaven. But I’m reminded that not only is that not necessary, my succeeding each day in this challenge DOES NOT determine my level of salvation. My acceptance by Christ is NOT based upon my ability to get up bright eyed and bushy tailed, but is solely based on my acceptance of Christ’s accepting me. I can and will….and have had, days that I am a total failure at rising first and meeting my goals. I can and will and have been lazy and selfish and accomplish absolutely nothing. That does NOT mean I am no longer loved by my Creator. That does NOT mean I have to beat myself up and grade myself with a big fat F.

Me before: I was dead and doomed. I pictured Ted Dekker’s Circle series, the people are all covered in a nastiness that can only be cleansed in a certain pool, until one day their Savior is sacrificed over that pool and his blood in the pool permanently heals the people, but only if they will accept that they have to enter in and cleanse themselves. There were only 3 books when I read the series, but they were a beautiful analogy of the story of salvation and Christ’s sacrifice for us, and His command to love everyone as He loved us.

Me as follower: I am God’s masterpiece. I am not a broken shell, I am a beautiful masterpiece right now.

Week 10 Challenge~Hello Mornings

hello mornings

Today’s post is going to be a bit different. I didn’t really have a lot to write, but I had a heart-to-heart with my journal on Day 2.

The week’s readings and links are here, the notes (what notes there are) will follow:

Day 1: John 15:18-16:3

Day 2: John 16:4-15

Day 3; John 16:16-24

Day 4: John 16:25-33

Day 5: John 17:1-19

Day One Notes:

Jesus warns His disciples that they will have harsh times ahead, including death for their faith and testimony. His warning wasn’t just for His disciples then, it is for us now. WE are His disciples. We are to be trained in His teachings and follow His instructions and listen to His voice. And the world will disapprove, some more vehemently than others.

Day Two Notes:

“Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.” v 12

What if, when we ask God to reveal His plan for our life, He only reveals bits and pieces because the entirety of His plan is too much for us to fathom and we would become overwhelmed? If I were to pray for Him to reveal my purpose on this earth and He said “I want you to get your doctorate and start a mission on the southern hemisphere by the time you are 40″, I would be flabbergasted and would start researching Doctorate programs and the country He named and what it takes to be a citizen and what the government is like. I personally would inevitably say “Okay, God, I got this. Thanks”. Or else I would say “Ha! yeah right! Sorry, I don’t think so”.

Instead, when I earnestly sought His voice and His plan for my life, He simply said “Children…Australia”. Nothing more. Naturally, I started researching Australia, the government, citizenship, etc. But I was finding myself drawn to the beliefs and lifestyle of the Aborigines. Their native folklore and legends, and the history between themselves and the early missions.

That was when I saw the pieces of the puzzle fall together regarding my full calling to Australia. To start a mission that was about loving them and not changing them. A place where the children can come for school, adults who need a formal education or training for an occupation can get one, a hospital/clinic that will not turn you away if you cannot pay in full during your visit, an orphanage to care for the children who have either lost their parents or whose parents are unable (or unwilling) to care for them, a Bible school for those who want to attend. And if someone wants to come to ANY of these but is unable, we will go to them.

This has become my heart’s dream, and I pray that everything lines up with God’s will.

It was a few months ago, as I was about to finish my Associate in Accounting that I heard God whisper “Bachelor’s…Business”.

I have received the next step, and I am praying that God will either reveal the exact school/program I am to attend, or tell me “It’s your call”.  But I know He will, I must simply practice patience and continue to seek His voice.

Hello Mornings Week 9 Review

hello mornings

My my, today marks day 1 of week 10 out of 13 already. I am so glad I continued with this challenge a second time. I know I will continue to be in the Hello Morning challenges indefinitely.

Day 1: John 13:21-30

I was going to compare different translations, but sadly did not get it done. So many distractions this summer now that I am back with family and away from the city busy-ness.

Day 2: John 13:31-38

“…The time has come for me, the Son of Man, to enter into my glory, and God will receive glory because of all that happens to me.” v 31

We know now that Jesus’ glory on earth was not overthrowing the government and ruling in splendor as an earthly king. Rather His glory was diminishing Himself as a human so that God the Father could be recognized and glorified in everything Christ did, even to the cross.

It reminds me of the XII Stone Altar song (not to be confused with XII Stone, evidently another band with a similar name exists) based on John 3:30 “We must decrease so He can increase”.

Day 3: John 14:1-14

Verses 8 and 9 were a discussion between Jesus and Philip:

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus replied ‘Philip, don’t you even know yet who I am, even after all the time that I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see Him?’…”

Sometimes I think we lose people with all the Christian terminology that we use, and we probably don’t realize it. Tell a fellow Christian someone got saved and they will know what you are saying, but someone else may look at you and say “saved from what?”

It also shows me that as humans our tendency is to never be satisfied. Even when you know Christ, we still tend to want more. More books (ahem, over 100 books on my Kindle), more technology items (ahem, again…Kindle and the old laptop for me. For my husband, a smart phone, a tablet, a MacBook Air, a GPS watch…). These things are not bad and owning them is not wrong. However, in our world/society we shouldn’t get something just because we can. God will supply all our needs and I know for my family He supplies them by having us use our brains, our hands, our feet..working for a paycheck and earning the money for what we need. (Granted, my husband is on leave and I am semi-actively looking for work, but our plans are full-time work for me and possibly part-time work for my husband by this fall).

And we can most certainly get things we want, we just need to maintain a healthy balance. Does one person NEED 50 shoes? Does a family of two NEED three computers? Do we NEED 5 TVs with satellite in a 3 bedroom house? Do we NEED a 3,000 square foot home with 4 rooms and a 2 car garage, when our family only has 1 child who is still under school age?

For me, the answers are no. These are things that would be nice, but are not needed. I could probably find a semi-legitimate need for 5 shoes for myself, but not 50. And I think a 1,500 square foot house is more than adequate for us at this time….even a townhouse would be adequate.

Day 4: John 14:15-31

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus refers to the Father; and when we speak about the Trinity why we say God is our Father and Jesus is our brother. If Jesus is God He is our Father, isn’t He? I have grown up in the Christian terminology and it still confuses me at times.

Day 5: John 15:1-17

This passage is Jesus using the vines and their fruit as a way to explain part of our spiritual life.

“He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

In both instances, there is some cutting required. There will be pain involved. Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not a magic pill that will make everything in our life perfect. We will have moments of conflict, we will have days that we will feel emotionally tired and weary. There is no “trick for success” to avoid these. We will have to face them…but we do not have to face them alone. We do not have to figure out the journey we need to take, as our path is already laid before us. We simply have to follow the instructions we hear from His voice.

Hello Mornings Week 8

hello mornings

 

 

Can you believe we are finishing week 8 of 12 already? I so did not get off to a good start Monday morning, but it was surprisingly easy to make time when it became available. Here are the Scriptures for week 8:

 

Day 1: John 12:9-19

The leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.” v. 10

 

I am reminded in this Scripture of the Christians throughout history who have boldly defied the religious teachings of their day, like Martin Luther. I am also reminded of my fellow Christians in hostile parts of the world who are boldly spreading the message of Christ to those who will  listen.

One thing with this verse that stands out a bit more, it wasn’t just that the people heard of what Jesus did, but they saw what He did. They saw through Lazarus the work God had done in his life. It should be the same for us.

 

Day 2: John 12:20-36

This is the passage where Jesus predicts His death for the first time. He uses the analogy of a kernel of wheat, explaining that His death on the cross is part of the ultimate plan.

The truth is a kernel of wheat must be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone – a single seed. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives.” v. 24

 

Day 3: John 12:37-50

For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.” v. 43

It can be very easy for us to “tsk tsk” the Jewish leaders who believed Jesus was their promised Messiah but were too afraid of the Pharisees to speak up. But let’s be honest, how often do we do the same thing? We all have our own Pharisee in our life. It might be our boss or coworkers, it might be fellow students, or our morning barista. Maybe it’s a regular customer we help out or our spouse or another family member. Whoever it is, we all have someone that we aim to please and sometimes, if we are not careful, we can place their opinion of us above God’s instruction for our lives.

We shouldn’t be afraid to lose someone’s friendship or something, or everything, from following God’s instructions and will for our lives.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:25-26

 

Day 4: John 13:1-11

I don’t think I could have commented on this any better than the author(s) of the Meet Jesus did, so I am going to be lazy and quote from there.

It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus washes His betrayer’s feet. The One who spoke worlds into existence not only humbles Himself to come to this earth, He also bends down onto a dirty ground to wash the feet of the one who would betray Him. It’s radically scandalous love. It’s an example I can only follow when I’ve denied self and taken up my cross, just like He teaches…”

 

Day 5: John 13:12-20

John spends a lot of time talking about the Passover dinner with Jesus. About how He washed His disciples’ feet, and reminded them about the prophecies.

I tell you this now, so that when it happens you will believe I am the Messiah” v. 19

Jesus knew they would be devastated after the crucifixion. He knew their faith would be shaken and they would question why. He knew they would enter a period of intense mourning, so He prepared them as much as He could ahead of time and reminded them that everything which was about to happen, was necessary. It was to fulfill the prophecies because HE WAS the promised Messiah……HE IS the promised Messiah.