What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, May 24, 2018

God is Righteous and Just

Today in my time in God’s Word, I was presented with the righteousness and justice of God. Let’s not succumb to the idea that because God is love He is only forgiving. He does those things: loving and forgiving. However, He is also jealous and holy.
This is a hard subject to broach in today’s Christian churches. We focus on His salvation and love and caring spirit to attract others to the hope of salvation. However, if we leave out the part about separation and disobedience, what is there to be saved from? Let’s not be fooled into thinking that saying we believe in Jesus is enough. Even the demons believe in Jesus. Let’s not be fooled into thinking that God will save us and provide everything we want, just because we profess Him as Lord.
His plans are unsearchable to us. What we want may have nothing to do with His plans. As I discussed last week, our prayers need to be in line with His will. Our behavior also has to be in line with His will. His will is that we are intimate with Him. Not just saying the right things and sounding good, but truly knowing Him and serving Him. This doesn’t just happen because we prayed some prayer (although that’s a good start). Knowing Him means communicating with Him. Two-way communication. It’s not just praying to Him. And it’s not just reading His Word and listening for His Holy Spirit’s guidance. Both of those behaviors are essential for really getting to know Him.
Part of knowing Him is realizing that He’s a jealous God. He wants nothing or no one to come before Him in our lives. He does discipline those who fail to make Him the priority of their lives. I’m not just talking about those who are not Christians. He disciplines each and every one of us – possibly especially those who say they follow Him – when we don’t make Him the priority in our lives. The discipline can be harsh. In Old Testament times it meant He pruned away some of those He called His own. His character does not change. He will also prune away some of those that He now considers His own in faith. He does what is best for His plan.
I don’t pretend to understand exactly what He’s thinking. I just know He’s not easily fooled by good sounding words or self-serving service. We can volunteer at church, pray publicly in restaurants. We can proclaim Him to others, sound like we know the way. We can read His Word and study the commentators. We can be teaching Christ to our families, sharing Him with our friends. Yet we can still place other things before Him, and He will know. He is a jealous God! We need to examine our hearts and minds. We need to be doing all these things for His glory. We need to have no other “gods” before Him. He is righteous and a just judge. He will not be fooled by our thoughts, feelings, actions, or minds. He will discipline, even to the point of death, any who put other things ahead of Him.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Answered Prayer

On Tuesday, I will have/had hand surgery. Nothing major, however, it will prevent me from making posts for a week or so. I usually write my blog articles on Tuesdays and scheduled them to be posted on Thursday mornings at 2:00 am. This week, I’m writing this on Monday and scheduling it to be posted on Thursday. I don’t know when I will be able to post again but I’m aiming for a couple of weeks.
I’ve been reviewing some key passages of Scripture with a friend the last few weeks. With that review comes Scripture memory review of some foundational verses. The first one is entitled “Assurance of Salvation.” I shared that verse last week in my article about how to do Scripture memory. This week the verse is “Assurance of Answered Prayer.” John 16:24 says, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” The key is in asking according to His name and abiding by His standards and will. When we ask for the things He’s promised us in the Scriptures, He will answer. When we ask for things that are actually good for us, He will probably answer (however, sometimes the things we think are good for us may, in fact, be harmful for our walk and worship with God). When we ask for God’s will to be done, and trust He will work things out according to His plan, He most definitely will answer.
I’ve found the promise in this verse to be true. When we ask in His name, my joy is made full. I find peace and contentment in my life. I find things for which I am thankful. I am abundantly filled with rejoicing and praise. My life is grand and there is so much to look forward to. I wait expectantly to see just exactly how God answers my prayers.
There’s another reason I wait expectantly for the “answers.” Romans 8:26 tells us that the Spirit is praying for us when we don’t even know what to ask: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Since I don’t even know what to be praying for, and the Spirit is praying for me, I may get answers I never expected.
So, I will do what John 16:24 says and pray in Jesus’ name. Then I will wait expectantly to see the grand answers God gives me.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Scripture Memory

God’s Word tells us to hide His Word in our hearts. That could mean many things; however, for me it simply means memorizing Scripture. There are lots of reasons for doing this and many ways to attempt to do it. I’d like to share my thoughts on the matter.
First, why memorize? I don’t know any other way to have Scripture readily available to me than to have it in my mind. When Jesus was out in the desert alone for 40 days, He did not have the scrolls of written Scripture with Him. Yet, when Satan made his attacks on Jesus, Jesus quoted Scripture, like wielding a sword, to fight off the attacks. If Jesus is our example, we need to have Scripture readily available to us to fight off the attacks that are used against us to throw us off track in our life in Christ.
Also, having Scripture memorized is vital in accurately sharing the Word with others. It’s God’s Word that creates change in people – no matter how elegant one’s speech might be. I want my conversations, especially with those who don’t yet know Christ, to be filled with the truth. I’m not saying that I need to go around quoting Scripture to everyone all the time. What I’m saying is that when conversations turn spiritual in nature, I want to be saying only that which God would approve of. Having His Word foremost in my mind, I am more likely to do that.
Those are just two reasons; there are more. So, why is it so hard to memorize Scripture? I hear that question often when I’m trying to suggest to someone that they give it a try. I was introduced to a Scripture memory plan a long time ago, and I still use this plan today to memorize and review Scripture. I suggest trying it for yourself if you are just starting out on this aspect of your Christian walk or are having trouble memorizing Scripture.
First assign the verse a topic (topic ideas). Right now I’m working on a set of verses that give me assurances of different aspects of the Christian life. The first topic is “Assurance of Salvation.” The corresponding verse is 1 John 5:11-12. So to start memorizing it, I start by memorizing the topic and the reference. Once I’ve repeated those aspects several times, I ADD the first phrase of the verse and repeat until I can say the topic, reference, and first phrase aloud without making a mistake. Then I repeat the process adding a second phrase of the verse. Each time I review I start at the beginning with the topic and reference, then the parts of the verse I have memorized, adding phrases one at a time until it’s firmly established in my mind. I conclude with saying the reference again.
There are several key points to this process. For further explanation go to the discipleship tools web site of the Navigators. Another key thing for me has been writing the verse (with the topic and the reference before and after) on cards (I’m currently using mini flashcards on a ring available at Amazon). Having the verses on cards allows me to carry them in my purse or in my pocket so I can pull them out and review often. Repetition and review are keys to getting the verses firmly planted in our minds. I like to say that over-learning them is good. They become second nature like reciting your phone number or your address. When’s the last time you forgot your address?
I’ve found this system to work and the memorized verses have stayed with me. I can’t say I remember word for word every verse I’ve memorized, but as I work through the Assurance verses again with a friend, I’m amazed at how easily the verses come to mind and how little “re-learning” I have to do.
Several links are highlighted above for resources to some of the concepts included in this article.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Be Anxious for Nothing, Part 3

This week finishes up my study of Philippians 4:4-9. There  are just a few quotes from the book to highlight this week. Some of them were very convicting to me and they might challenge you also.
“Are you expecting God to move but not asking Him to do so?” One of the questions in this section asked to whom do you go to when you hear bad news? I listed several close friends and family, and my therapist. Guess who I left out?! God. I realized it’s not my first thought when I am facing a trial or hardship. That’s not the way it should be. I was convicted to seek Him first, to bring my needs and fears to God first. I often call someone and ask them to pray for me before I actually pray myself. God wants us to go to Him. He clearly stated that in Philippians 4:6: “. . . in everything with supplication and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God . . .” My goal for this week is to turn to God FIRST this week (and hopefully from now on)with my prayers, then ask for others to pray with me.
“Often our view of our problems looms larger than our view of God. How cn you start the day in a way that places the source of your anxiety in proper perspective relative to God’s magnanimous power?” The reading suggested prayerfully and praisefully reading Psalm 8 and Psalm 121. These Psalms identify who God is, what He’s already done, and who we are in relationship to God. Psalm 8:3-5 tells us about these things:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
When I meditate and contemplate the truths in these verses, my problems get put into perspective. The God who made everything has high regard for us. In view of this I am greatly encouraged by giving praise to Him every morning and throughout the day. I think it puts my day into perspective.
“Our assignment is not fruitfulness but faithfulness.” So, why do you do the things you do? Whether it’s your job, your sports, or your walk with God we are looking for results. Results are the product of our labors. However, God wants us to focus on the process not the product when it comes to our relationship with Him. It’s our job to faithfully cling to the vine (read John 15). As we hold on to the vine, God may cause growth and fruit. What He wants from us is to sit at His feet and take in everything about Him and learn from Him (Luke 10:39-42; Martha and Mary’s examples). Being busy for God is not the same thing as knowing God and having a relationship with God. If we are faithful, fruit might happen (most likely will happen), but it’s God causing that, not our efforts.
Anxiety lessens when we recognize God is near and that He is big enough to deal with every need we could possibly have. We just have to give praise and thanksgiving and take everything to Him knowing He can and will meet our every need. I’ve found a lot of peace through this study. I hope you can also gain some.