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.

Week 7 Challenge…

hello mornings

 

Day 1: John 11:1-16

I thought it was a bit “oddly interesting” that in verse 2 we find that John is using a reference that has not yet happened. We read “This is the Mary who poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair.”

However, this reference he uses occurred at a later date, after Jesus resurrected Lazarus. It was very hard for me to stop at verse 16, but since it was late I knew I had to. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be waking up at sunrise. (ahem, and I still didn’t for 2-3 days).

Jesus knew Lazarus had died, and he told his disciples plainly that Lazarus had died. Then, He explained why He did not go when He was asked

“…this will give you another opportunity to believe in me…” v 15

 

Day 2: John 1:17-27

“Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem.” v 18

In my Bible’s footnotes, it says Bethany was about 15 stadia, which is translated to about 2.8 kilometers. According to Google, 2.8 kilometers is 1.739 miles. A distance that is easily walked by someone in generally good health.

I know that 2 miles in Jesus’ day was not exactly the same as today…no sidewalks…no paved roads…no Nike running shoes…no gel insert soles…but still, He was so close.

I know for myself there have been times when I knew Christ was near, but I couldn’t feel His presence like I once did. That is an instance when I must practice faith, just as Martha did in verse 22…

“But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

She didn’t know how her situation could be better, but she knew that Christ would help her through this trial. That is the exercising of faith, not knowing when or how or why, and still knowing. Believing and accepting as fact. It has become a more common idea now (partly thanks to Morgan Freeman’s character in Evan Almighty, I think) that when you ask God for patience He doesn’t instantly make you feel more patient, He gives you an opportunity to practice patience. It is the same with faith. I think, when you ask God for more faith, He doesn’t make you feel more faith-filled, but rather gives you more opportunities to practice and exercise your faith.

 

Day 3: John 11:28-44

In my NLT version of the Bible, verse 33 reads “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.”

The Amplified version says “…He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He was chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed].” Chafed means ~ irritate, vex; to feel irritation, discontent, or impatience.

I don’t think Jesus was just angry. I think He had a mixture of emotions that were all welling up inside at once and started bubbling like a volcano.

 

Day 4: John 11:45-57

“So from that time on the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples.” v 53-54

Jesus knew what would happen, and He knew when. He wasn’t “running for His life” like we do, He was taking the necessary steps to fulfill His mission. If God places a calling on our lives, we need to listen intently to His voice and follow His directions for each step we need to take to fulfill our calling. He will tell us where to start, where to progress, and when.

 

Day 4: John 12:1-8

This passage is one of my favorites, the anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary. I never noticed before, or I didn’t remember, who it was among Jesus’ disciples that was complaining…

“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples – the one who would betray him – said, ‘That perfume was worth a small fortune. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.’ Not that he cared for the poor – he was a thief who was in charge of the disciples funds and he often took some for his own use.” v 4-6

Everyone is flawed, even those of Christ’s dedicated followers. Judas will always be remembered for his betrayal in Gethsemane, but I think it is easy for us to picture him as “the evil disciple”. But he wasn’t always like this. We read earlier how the 12 disciples were actually the 12 who remained faithful out of all the disciples originally gathered. Judas Iscariot wasn’t born an evil monster. He was born an innocent baby like everyone else. It was over time and through choices he made that led him down the path to becoming a thieving accountant, and ultimately to betray Christ to His death. (Week 4 Day 3)

Just as no one is beyond salvation, no one is beyond sin in their walk with Christ. Our transformation to becoming Christ-like will not be instantaneous, it will take time and intentional actions.

Hello Mornings Week 6

hello mornings

 

 

 

Only one day late this time, yay! Although, technically today is the beginning of week 7 and I did not read my portion of John for today…boo! But I am going to read it tonight after I put my son to bed, then get back at it tomorrow morning. Here we go….

 

Day 1: John 9:1-17

For some reason, I have no notes for this passage.

 

Day 2: John 9:18-33

You big bullies! lol. That is my first reaction when I read this passage. The Jewish leaders were so hypocritical. In verses 28-31 we read that the Jewish leaders asked him again who healed him and how. At first he sounded annoyed to be repeating himself, then we read “Do you want to become His disciples too? Then they cursed him…”

They cursed him and threw him out of the synagogue. All because they didn’t want to admit that they, the Jewish leaders of high authority, were no better than this poor, blind beggar. They did not want to look at their own sin, but were perfectly content to point out everyone else as sinners…even Jesus!

 

Day 3: John 9:34-41

“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be quilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” v 41

The pharisees asked Jesus if He was saying that they were blind, and Jesus responded with verse 41. He was warning them because he doesn’t want them to be separated from Him, but they refused to see what needed to be seen.

 

Day 4: John 10:1-21

In these Scriptures, we read Jesus’ tale of the true shepherd and the hired hand, and how differently they treat the sheep. One of the many tales He told that people simply could not understand. And we can see the free will of the people as well. Even though Jesus was their promised Messiah, He didn’t give them what they wanted but what they needed. There was a division among the people because everyone had to decide for themselves whether they were going to believe and follow Jesus. He could have made them (and us) follow blindly, but He lets it be our choice.

 

Day 5: John 10:22-42

Again, no notes for this passage.