Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Don’t You Fear God? Luke 23

30 Dec

Reading through Luke chapter 23 this morning, the words of the criminal crucified beside Christ struck me. He was speaking to the other criminal who hung on the far side of  Christ Jesus–the one who’d been hurling insults at Jesus.

“Don’t you fear God?” he said.  See Luke 23:40

Though the man hung on a cross next to Jesus, suffering and dying, he believed. He still feared God. Still dared to believe Jesus was the Messiah and there was a kingdom Christ would be ushered into, and there was a point to what was taking place.

I’m reminded of the lines in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She wrote that she’d claimed the “yes” of believing God, but lived the no.

Don’t you fear God?

To fear God is to be reverent of His mighty authority and power. To recognize his infinite might alongside his infinite love.

Sometimes I sense we focus so heavily on the love and forgiveness, we fail the rightful dose of fear. Doesn’t the fear of God go hand and hand in the surrender to God? To whatever he brings?

The first verse of Job tells us he was a man who feared God and shunned evil. And don’t we think of Job as  synonymous with suffering?

Yes, Job suffered much loss, much anguish and grief. Yet, the second half of his life was more blessed than the first, than before the suffering. (See Job 42:12 – 17)

Job told his wife, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”  see Job 2:10

Lord, it’s hard. It’s scary. I’d rather fear you and have it go well all my days. But I fear you always. I choose to surrender to you in the good and in the trouble.

How to be a Disciple–Luke 14

20 Dec

To be a disciple, we must not be saltless salt. It’s useless. Why sprinkle it? Without taste, it goes unnoticed.

This is what struck me as I read through Luke 14. In the beginning of the chapter, Jesus ate and taught in a Pharisee’s home. Through parables, Jesus warns them:

  • Don’t take the best position for yourself
  • Don’t center yourself around people you view as important
  • Don’t think you have a standing invitation and your own priorities reign

All of these teachings warn against self-importance. 

The rest of the chapter, Jesus is teaching to crowds in his traveling about being His disciple:

  • No relationship more important
  • No financial limit
  • No resource untapped

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure piles; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Luke 14: 34-35  NIV

Salt isn’t salt unless it’s salty.  Disciples aren’t disciples unless we’re discipley. 

Christ has given a definition of discipleship–not suggestions, but a view of what is required.

We use this common terminology of inviting Jesus into our hearts and then what? Too often we still have our own way with:

  • Our relationships
  • Our money
  • Our talents
  • Ourselves

The “our” must be surrendered. We must become “His.”

The mystery is we each have a unique identity in Christ when we surrender our own identities to Him. We think  of it as losing, but we are truly gaining.

We will not be useless. We will not go unnoticed when we become His.

Lord, open my eyes to see. Cause my hears to hear. Change my heart to be pure and chasing after you–as your disciple. Everything in my life is yours. Help me to live that way, attentive to your promptings and quick to follow.

When We Cannot Do What God Asks

13 Dec

Does God ever ask you to do something you cannot do?

I’m still reading Luke alongside Mom’s Toolbox and it’s been fabulous.

Over the weekend, I read Luke 6. I was reminded of a recent Sunday School lesson and something one of my friends pointed out in this chapter.

Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand–“Stretch out your hand.”  See Luke 6:10

The man shouldn’t have been able to do what Jesus asked. Yet, he did it.

How? Jesus provided the power.

Diseases were being cured and evil spirits cast out, “and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”  Luke 6:19

In verses 27 – 36, Jesus gives all of us instructions which on our own, we cannot do. Truth is, we often do not want to.

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Give more than what someone takes from you
  • Give without expecting repayment

Without Jesus providing the power and strength, how can we do these things God asks of us? We cannot.

Lord, please give me a heart that longs to do what you ask. Remind me to pray and ask for the desire and obedience you provide to do what you ask. Thrill me with your pleasure and joy as you grow me in my walk with you.

Are Questions Okay, God?

6 Dec

Do you ask God questions? Is it okay to ask God questions?

I’m joining Mom’s Toolbox and reading the gospel of Luke for the remainder of December. (Why not join us? If you blog, grab the button from her site and include it on your own blog.)

Yesterday was the first day of reading and focused on Luke 1:1 – 38. I try to never read a passage without praying first and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me something. Here’s what I got after observing the passages yesterday. Luke with MomsToolbox

First the similarities.

Gabriel, the angel, visited both Zechariah and Mary. He brought news of a baby to be born to each of them. (John the Baptist to Zechariah and Jesus to Mary.)

Both were astonished at the news and both had questions.

Now for the differences.

Zechariah asked, “How can I be sure of this.” We are both so OLD!

Mary asked, “How will this be since I’m a  VIRGIN.”

Zechariah had doubt. Mary had wonder.

Gabriel answered both of them, but Zechariah received a consequence for his doubt. He’d be unable to speak until the child (John the Baptist) was born. Zechariah still received the son Gabriel told him about. John the Baptist still did all God had announced he would do.

Mary, on the other hand, received her answer explaining that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and do the work. Then, Mary received a word of encouragement that her relative, Elizabeth (Zechariah’s wife), would also be having a child.

What I see here is a heart difference. God accepts doubt and questions from us, we can see this from Gabriel’s interactions with those questions. But, our heart condition with those questions matters.

God, thank you for knowing we don’t understand everything You do and say. Thank you for your loving patience, forgiveness, and faithfulness. Grow us up in faith and salvation so we can believe and stay eager to be your servant through any of the hard questions in our lives.

Nothing is impossible with God  Luke 1:37 (NIV)

What’s something that seemed impossible, which God’s accomplished in your life?

Where’d You Get That Line? – Choosing Meaningful and Real Words

2 Dec

“I wish I had a hundred fingers to count how much I missed you.” My nine-year-old shared what he planned to say to his grandma after school.

You see, their grandma, my mom-in-law, lives with us. But, she’s been away for 6 weeks after fighting off some major illness and building back strength.

Yesterday, she came home. (Welcome home, G’Ma!) As my sons left for school, I reminded them she’d be here when they returned.

So, I thought this 100 finger line was way too cute, quick, and clever to be his own saying. Plus, my boys like to quote such things as Phineas and Ferb. There’s a track record here for one-liners.

“That’s a sweet line, where are you quoting it from?” I asked.

He claimed it as his own. (Okay, actually he said, “From me, from my face.” Charming, huh?)

My ten-year-old then stepped in for some back up. “I can verify. I have never heard that anywhere.”

In that instant, the sweetness of the statement magnified about a kajillion times.

And it got me thinking. Thinking about how many churchy words and repeated phrases I sometimes use.

I know God doesn’t judge my prayers and loves to hear from me. But I sense His presence so much more when my words are fresh and specific to that day’s situation, voiced in my personality.

This is something I encourage with my kids, reminding them not to say the same thing to God every day. You wouldn’t do that to a friend at school. You talk about what’s happening today.

It also reminded me of one of my favorite King of Queen’s episodes. The one where Carrie finds out Doug quoted a movie with BJ McKay and a monkey–or something equally as flattering– when he proposed to her. If you ever watched the show, you know how Carrie responded.

I don’t want to treat my King in a way that’s any less than my most sincere. It’s about constantly checking my heart.

I also don’t want to use churchy language to convey to my children how fabulous and real Jesus is. I’m not putting down church, love church. And I want my kids to know Biblical language and truth.

But I also carefully choose everyday language they have comparison and understanding for to convey how present and active Christ  is in our lives. After all, Jesus taught this way, right? Common day comparisons the people understood such as wine skins, seeds, sheep.)

I’ll still use my favorite scripture and words. But, I’ll also be watchful that I don’t just use routine words, trying every time to keep my heart personal to Him.

When do you experience the most genuine conversations with God?

How do you model and encourage it with your children?

Candy, Cash or Christ – How can we build spiritual appetites?

29 Nov

If you stood in a room full of kids and announced you had a prize for anyone who could hop on one foot for 30 seconds, what do you picture happening next?

Probably a room with shaking walls from all the bouncing, and children falling over one another.

Undoubtedly, some kid would scream out, “Is it candy?”

Thank goodness we outgrow this behavior. Well, at least some of you probably have.

Now picture standing in an auditorium of adults and calling out, “Loads of cash and buffet tables, just down the hall. First come, first serve. No limits.”

Perhaps everyone would look around like, “Yeah, right. Too good to be true….What’s the catch?”

Cynicysm, or let’s call it realism, does seem to come with age.

But if a few bold folks decided to go check it out, a stampede would ensue. What if it is true? What if they get it all?

Psalm 19:9-11 (NIV)

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.

Respect of God.  Knowledge of His word. These are more desireable than gold.

His decrees bring more sweetness to life than honey.

Not that God’s Word should be more desireable, but that it is; whether we realize it or not. 

Verse 11 says His word illuminates His servant, and brings a great reward.

As adults, we try to curb our natural desire for foods that are unhealthy.

But, money? Another story. It’s a necessity after all.

Yet the temptation to crave more than we need has us acting much like children with a sack full of halloween candy. I’m as guilty as anyone.

How can we invite more of God’s illuminating word into our lives?  Are we as willing to do it as a kid hopping on one foot for candy?

How can we foster our children viewing God’s Word as desireable?

For me, praying for desire for God’s Word has transformed my life. And having my kids walk in on me in the midst of Bible reading or prayer has taught them more than any direct instruction I’ve ever given.

Leave a comment. What are you doing to grow your own appetite, or encourage that of your children?

Same Thing, Just Different

15 Nov

There’s a saying in my family, created by my Daddy. Okay, so he invented many sayings in our home, but the one I’m thinking of today is, “Same thing, just different.” It’s one of my personal favorites. Both my husband and I have used it in our own household on many occasions over the years, particularly when the kids were splitting hairs on an issue. Now, they, too, pipe in with the phrase sometimes. I’m thinking of making some t-shirts to sell.  

Earlier this week on the blog for girls, we began a study on the names/descriptions of Jesus found in the gospel of John. The first name is Word. (See John 1:1-2, John 1:14 and Rev 19:13). In these verses, the original Greek is “logos” which can be described as the entirety of God’s declaration. I think of it as all encompassing.

But, the Greeks had lots of words which we often translate into the same English word.  One example is the “word” Jesus quoted  (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

The original Greek for “word” Jesus spoke in the desert is not logos but “rhema.” Vines defines it as an utterance, a speech, a discourse. I think of it as a specific utterance rather than the entirety of God’s word.

Obviously, God’s word is his word, whether it be a smaller passage or the scriptures as a whole.  

So why are the original words different in the Greek?

Have you ever been in a desperate place, with a terrific need for a specific word of encouragement or hope from God? Something that would keep you going?

You had faith. You knew Christ as your Saviour, yet you needed something specific to get through a storm?

That’s rhema. We live on the very word of God. We need it daily, in digestible pieces. It sustains us, grows us. We don’t need only the knowledge of the gospel and the salvation Christ offers for the end of our lives, we need the Word to live — day by day. 

So, my favorite Daddy phrase applies. “Same thing, just different” — and all good!

%d bloggers like this: