Tag Archives: Growth

The Total Package

Dis·cern·ment – the ability to judge well.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Reality and healthy survival demands our being able to judge well to live well. That ability to judge well is what our Sovereign Judge, Resurrected Perfecter an Evidence of Truth have united to provide us. Defining the “division of soul and of spirit” requires more imagination than the grisly image Hebrews paints of a sword whacking through bone to reveal the living inner part, the marrow, that actually provides it needed nourishment.

Hebrews is saying the soul is like a boney structure we might identify as the biblical hard heart.  The penetration of that boney structure has to happen to reveal the marrow, the Spirit, inside that hard heart.  That allows the Spirit and the Word of God to become the needed nourishment of our growth, impact the intentions of our heart and teach us to judge well. It’s the total package.

Assurance –

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I wrote the words below nearly 40 years ago. I had a deep emotional understanding that Galatians 2:20 had really happened in my life. Christ’s life in me was complete and my life in him was a promise. I could live with that! There’s a purpose along with the promise of that one verse – growth!  Life happens and wounds happen but flesh is healed by “faith in the Son of God.”

We were saved by recognizing the beauty of the scars the Son of God bore in our name. Now we have the privilege of sharing this assurance of growth – the beauty of our own healed scars.

Reprise: To Life! https://readandponder.com/?s=To+Life%21
Posted on June 29, 2015 but written in the “olden days” of the 1980’s.

“Imagine the position of a body on a cross. Feel your feet pinned with your ankles together so that your legs are useless. Sense your arms pinned outstretched as far from your body as possible, unable to provide any defense or protection, leaving you completely at the mercy of your surroundings.

As I hung there, pinned not by nails but by my own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, excuses and tears dripped from my wounds, not blood. At last, when the pain was too great I could barely speak “Be with me, God, I’m so alone,” and it was finished.

There were friends, then, who cared for me in my brokenness who prayed and stayed with me until slowly the pulse of new life grew stronger and steadier and I was free of the shame of my scars – able to say, My wounds are healed, but the scars remain as a sign of the resurrecting love of God Amighty.” Shirle Bedient

The Red Thread – Remember?

• 26 “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
• “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Get it? You’re the seed! A tiny speck planted in the kingdom of God that grew. Nothing emerges from the dirt full grown. Growth is a combination of day and night in the soil of “thy will be done” for this crop to grow. Growth is almost imperceptible except for comparing then to now. Remember then? Remember now?

You’re the crop! You grew and became one of “the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” But wait, there’s more! God isn’t finished with you yet.

You began as one small seed planted in good soil and inexplicable growth happened. You became part of the crop and now “the harvest has come.” Here’s the Lightning Flash: as inexplicable as it may be, you’re the evidence there really is a kingdom of God happening “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Remember? You’re the harvest!

Custom Fit

Romans 14:6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. MSG

I had to smile when I read this version of Romans 14 because of thanking God for broccoli. It’s a lighthearted paraphrase and a very good reminder “it’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—.”

It’s the mystery of faith. On one hand it’s completely personal, custom tailored for you…not by you…but it grows and matures in the midst of our very public relationships as believers.

If the way you live is consistent with what you believe you can trust that God will make the necessary alterations to that custom fit as you grow so your faith and your relationships always make you look your best.

Handmade Gift

Sequel: John 17:9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

I wrote about John 17:9 on July 27, 2015. “We can appreciate all the things our heart leads us to do for Christ but this is the most important thing we’ll ever have to offer back to him…to simply Be The Gift!” The fact that we are a gift God has given to Jesus is especially important to remember when your heart has recognized the need for the protection of repentance.

Have you ever received a handmade gift from a child? They’re not usually made with the highest quality materials and the craftsmanship is pretty simple. Those little pieces of torn paper, glue and maybe a smudged handprint with their name written on it get preserved and cherished because they’re the gift of themselves from that moment in time. I suspect that’s how God sees our repentance too.

Repentance is often a reflection of our own childishness; a little less than perfect but it’s all we have to give right then. It probably looks just like what it is, the amateurish efforts of a child still growing and learning. If you want to give the Father who has raised you something special during this Lenten season…give him a handmade gift from your own repentant heart. It will be protected and cherished for all time…and you’ll grow a little bit too.

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.

Psalm 119:105-112 נ Nun – Fish, [tadpole?]

Psalm 119:105-112 נ Nun – Fish, [tadpole?]
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much;
preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
to the very end.

I think the Psalmist uses this mysterious title, Nun – fish [tadpole?] to reach the heart through the imagination. The brackets and question mark are from the chart I’ve been using. Who would have ever imagined a Bible study that included learning about tadpoles? It’s a very ordinary image that lets us “see” a path that leads from what is, to what can be. Here’s a few tadpole facts that make me believe this.

The tadpole begins life as a little speck in a very big environment. All it can do for a time is wait to become it’s recognizable self. When it does finally hatch, the tadpole looks and behaves like one thing [a fish] when it is really going to be something else entirely. Only after growth and the passage of time does the tadpole finally become what it was created to be.

We are the speck √
We have the path √ v. 105
Life is the time to learn and grow √ vs. 106-110.
Your “recognizable self” is part of your heritage from God √ vs. 111-112.