Monthly Archives: February 2017

Just Because I Said So

1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

“It needs no proof that it is of infinite importance to know aright what God has called us to…You may have heard that God calls you to salvation or to happiness, to receive pardon or to obtain heaven, and never noticed that all these were subordinate…It was to Holiness in the first place…” From Holy in Christ by Andrew Murray

I Peter and Andrew Murray’s quote made me wonder “why” God didn’t just go ahead and “make” us holy while he was doing all that other good stuff? “Be holy” reads like an impossible demand and basically ends with the more familiar parental response…”just because I said so.”

Then I remembered how well that response had worked for God so long ago when he first spoke all of creation into being…just because he said so.  Much later it was that same “just because I said so” that spoke my own salvation into being.

It’s much more personal now that God would say “Be holy, because I am holy.” It’s not an impossible demand at all but the much needed assurance that personal holiness really will come to pass…just because he said so.

sWord

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ponder This:
*Feet fitted”
*Sword of the Spirit”

I often start my devotional time by jotting key points of the scripture I’m reading. What came to mind first from these verses was a graphic image of a figure wearing this armor but my visual imagery struggled with two of the pieces of armor; “feet fitted with the readiness” and “the sword of the Spirit.” The rest of the armor was clearly for personal protection but these to pieces seemed different. That made them worth thinking more about.

Shoes that are that are “fitted” to your own feet are a big deal when it comes to readiness to go anywhere. You’re virtually lame if your shoes don’t fit; too small and they pinch…too big and they can trip you up. That makes your personal fit for these special shoes dependent on knowing the truth of the gospel of peace!

The Sword is an odd image. The Word of God often confronts, challenges and convicts the one who uses it.  This is what makes it personal; the Sword is more like a surgical instrument meant to save a life rather than a weapon to slay an enemy. It’s like the “physician heal yourself” idea. A surgeon’s has to be skilled and well trained!

Those two short paragraphs are what I was meant to learn today. All the other pieces of armor are protection more readily picked up and put on but shoes and swords are unique. They require more personal attention to become part of what will protect you enough to be ready to reach out to a world of broken people. The shoes are custom “fitted” so you can step out in peace to share the gospel. Your hand picks up the sword that has surgically changed your own heart and mind to become the life-saving “sWord” that reaches beyond your hand to a broken world.

Firstlight

Romans 13:11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

I wonder if the reason so many of us do our Bible study early in the morning is because intuitively we understand daybreak is a perfect object lesson of what God is saying through Romans. It’s surely one day nearer our salvation, by default, if nothing else.

The first thing you do if you’re an early riser is switch on the lights…and maybe grab a cup of coffee to get you going. We depend on the things we know to do in those first hours. Outside that personal space there’s another reality. It’s a shadowy and dark landscape that plays hide and seek with what you can see until the first visible signs of light signal the beginning of the day. That’s a great image to think about in regard to learning to live a life of faith that includes devotional time.

We all begin in that place where our dependence and security are on the things we know to do. Those early hours are the object lesson where we clearly see the difference between artificial light and real daylight. Right there waiting for daybreak with your Bible in your lap [or in my case my iPad version] those words “night is nearly over; the day is almost here” are the “real” firstlight that can become the armor for your new day.

“Listening”

“Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says.” From Devotion of Hearing by Oswald Chambers

These last few days I’ve spent some time thinking about what my goals are when I read the Bible. Sometimes I am unsure about what to read. I really am trying to “hear” what I read but nothing “speaks” to me. It seems presumptuous to look at God’s Word and say, “nope, not that” but I do that at times. Here’s the bottom line of even that very selective reading plan…I’m there and so is God.

It’s times like that when the devotional “words” of personal heroes of the faith like Oswald Chambers can be a welcome catalyst of direction. His title and simple confession I quoted above reminded me that even my written words can become a “devotion of hearing.” The secret is learning to be a better “listener” as I read what God has to say for himself…and write myself a note so I’ll remember.

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Luke 11:28 (ESV) But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Hebrews 2:1 (ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Encouragement

2 Thessalonians 1:3 – Four Versions
3 Dear brothers, giving thanks to God for you is not only the right thing to do, but it is our duty to God because of the really wonderful way your faith has grown and because of your growing love for each other. TLB

3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. ESV

3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; NASB

3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. NIV

The version of the Bible you read is a trusted source but it’s interesting to look at the same verse in different versions and note their similarities and differences in phrasing. It’s a way to amplify the bottom line of their truth. It’s so easy to read and agree but miss their importance to your own life.

1. Regarding thanks:
Dear brothers giving thanks to God for you
We ought always to give thanks to God for you [2]
We ought always to thank God for you
2. Regarding who:
brothers [2], brethren, brothers and sisters
3. Regarding why:
the right thing to do, but it is our duty,
as is right,
as is only fitting
and rightly so
4. Regarding faith:
wonderful way your faith has grown
your faith is growing abundantly
your faith is greatly enlarged
your faith is growing more and more
5. Regarding relationships:
growing love for each other
love of every one of you toward one another
love of each one of you toward one another
love all of you have for one another
6. Regarding growth:
growing, increasing [2], grows ever greater

Regarding 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Giving thanks to God for the growing faith you see in a brother or sister is “the right thing to do.” Seeing the power of faith at work in someone else’s life teaches us to trust God and encourages us.

Faith is personal but it’s not solitary. When we speak [or write] to that someone to let them know their growth has become part of our own faith it honors God and encourages them. That’s how “the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater…” and becomes a reality people can see.

‘Nuff Said

Excerpts from Hebrews 6 [NIV& TLB]
1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity,

10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him

12 Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won’t become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience.

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Amen.

Refreshed

Hebrews 6:1 & 2 TLB Let us stop going over the same old ground again and again, always teaching those first lessons about Christ. Let us go on instead to other things and become mature in our understanding, as strong Christians ought to be. Surely we don’t need to speak further about the foolishness of trying to be saved by being good, or about the necessity of faith in God; 2 you don’t need further instruction about baptism and spiritual gifts and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

Remember my last post? God chose some creative phrasing last Sunday to reveal I have a will and it’s not always in line with his. That’s a fact. Duh! Wasn’t that one of those first lessons I thought I’d learned? You bet it was. That was an experience.

I’m thanking God for caring enough to remind me of those two things again. It’s just another example that longevity is only one aspect of our walk with Christ. This passage reminded me of a sermon by one of the wisest Pastors I’ve known; Leonard Anderson of Crossroads Covenant Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota. The basics of his sermon about walking with Christ were this: “We need to live more of what we know, not just learn more.”

It’s lovely when faith is new and you’re so tuned in to God working in you…and on you. You’re content to ride that crest of newfound faith knowing very little more than Christ and Christ alone; your first love. It seems so “complete” but the time does come when you find you do know more. The blessing of spiritual maturity is God bringing together fact and experience to refresh your heart to remember “We need to live more of what we know, not just learn more.”