Tag Archives: Growth

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.

Recap October 10, 2012

We’re on the last leg of our road trip and three long days of driving have left me unprepared for today’s post so I decided to go back to the very beginning of my digital journaling, October 10, 2012. This beginning was a challenge from the pastor to spend 40 days with God to see what he might do for each of us personally and for the church.  It’s  proved to be a lasting blessing.

5:32 am. Day 1 for the body & the BODY!
How odd it feels to get up and not flick on the tv to watch my recorded home improvement shows while I knit. This is a clue that I’ve chosen rightly I guess; 30 minutes to explore what God has in mind. High time.

“How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” 2 Samuel 7:22 Biblegateway VOD

My search begins: in Christ.
Acts 2:38
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I love gifts, giving and getting. My heart is so full right now of creative giving as Christmas approaches. Dredging up the old illustrations of the Christmas Story for the card for the children at church; the wooden trees for the pastor’s girls and the Prayer Shawl ministry. You know how much these things mean to me. They’re really gifts from you that happen to pass through my hands. Thanks for that.

When I do those Spiritual gift tests I feel like I come up so short. I’m not a helper, I’m not an evangelist, I’m not a teacher but I have this one thing that you can use… creativity. It’s really my only voice and its taken so long for me to find a way to use it for you. The new thing is not the creativity itself but the people connection that has come with it [the prayer shawl ministry]. Having a way to take the words out of my heart and put them in someone else’s life is so perfect. It’s the exercise my Spiritual body has needed.

The Lesson of Irony

Hebrews 9:28 BibleGateway Verse of the Day [VOD]
…so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

I said to myself “I’ll just take it easy and let BibleGateway tell me what to read and write about for a while using their daily verse as a starting point.” I’d worked through Hebrews. I’d found inspiration in some places but struggled for days in others to write down what I thought I was being taught; sometimes right up to the last minute before posting to this blog. Hebrews was a challenge to my “little gray cells.” I’d finished it up and couldn’t wait to get to something easier.

Surprise! Look what that very first VOD was! I couldn’t help but think irony must one of God’s tools. My hours of thinking and writing are important but not as important as this one verse from that book I’d declared “finished.” That Lesson of Irony was my reminder that God determines “finished,” not me. Got it!

Making a Connection

Hebrews 10
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Thoughts:
The first thing that came to my mind when I read “not giving up meeting together” was Sunday School. I’m not talking about “school” where you sit and someone tells you what you’re supposed to know. I’m talking about a Sunday place where we actually have the opportunity to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” It’s easy for us to see the value of Sunday School for children but for many adult believers, Sunday school is not on their radar. That’s a missed opportunity.

The success story of a recent adult Sunday school class became these words of Jesus; “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” What was it we were supposed to deny ourself of? Was taking up that cross only about personal sacrifice or did it include the burden of personal flaws as well? Was that cross meant to just be a discipline or was it something that connected us to Christ and each other?

One woman shared her personal experience of learning from Christ what it was like to take up her cross and follow him. She pleaded with him to take her cross and he did, because it was too big and heavy. She chose a much smaller cross instead and for a while that seemed good. After a time though, that cross started to feel too big and heavy too, just as the original one had. She went to Christ once more and he agreed to let her leave that heavy cross with him again and choose the smaller one again. That was when Jesus spoke this truth to her; the cross that seemed so small to her…now…was the original one she’d left with him before. Think about that.

That Sunday school discussion went beyond agreement to become a lesson in faith. Christ is ready to help us deal with our cross, over and over again. That’s “the full assurance that faith brings…for he who promised is faithful.”

That kind of Sunday school is where one person’s faith can add insight that encourages your own. That’s growth.

That kind of Sunday school is about the opportunity to give the depth of personal experience with Christ a face other than your own. That’s intimacy.

That kind of Sunday school is Making a Connection with Christ and other believers.

Oh, and there’s donuts and coffee too! Hope to see you there this Sunday.