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My God is…making us competent 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Psalm-1072 Corinthians 3:4-6 – Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God,  who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Who do you tell about Jesus?

Is there anyone you have shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with? I feel like I truly fall short on this measure. I spend a lot of my time interacting with other believers. I don’t know many unbelievers. Except in my extended family. I don’t even truly know where they all stand, and to tell the truth I’m not very confident in telling them about my faith. Why? I don’t want to risk embarrassment, I don’t want to alienate them, and I don’t want them to feel pressured to think one way or the other. I know that the Holy Spirit is the initiator of faith, but we are also called to minister and spread the word of God. I think sometimes I fail miserably.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.

I am sure of what I believe. Do I have doubts? Regrettably, I must say at times I do (though usually quite fleeting). But I have confidence in God. I know that God follows through on what He says, and I know that because of Jesus Christ, because of His Scriptures, because of the faith of others and because of His work through the Holy Spirit in my heart.

Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us

Notice, I am not competent because of myself. I don’t really have anything to do with my faith, except that I don’t deny it. Usually. I guess that’s where I fear I fail sometimes. When friends or relatives say things that seem pointed toward my faith or more likely my religion, I don’t always do a good job of standing up for my God, myself or my church. Recently I was able to spend time with some of my family, and we had an amazing visit. It was truly a blessing. There was a moment on one day that was really hard for me. Some one I care about deeply said something in a pointed way about Christians, and I said nothing. It wasn’t a flattering statement about Christians or Christianity. I said nothing. I didn’t know what I could say that would glorify God. I also didn’t want to get upset and ruin the time we had together. Discussing the situation with my friends, some said that maybe, because I always seem to have a comeback or answer, maybe this time, silence was the right thing. I pray it was, but I feel like I let my Lord down. That when people were throwing stones and minimizing what He has done for us, I didn’t stand up and say, “He died for all, He wants you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.” That (or something more eloquent) is what I wished I had said.

Our competence is from God,  who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant

I don’t know what I was supposed to say, but I pray that when given another opportunity, I would be able to use the competence, use what I know to be true as worked in me by the Holy Spirit, to speak confidently. I pray I will trust God and the competence He has worked in me. I pray I will not be cowardly. That I will not miss the opportunity to have a conversation I’ve been praying to have. I want nothing more than to spend eternity with my family in heaven.

Not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life

I don’t have to live the rest of my life beating myself up over this one missed opportunity. The Holy Spirit can work in this person’s life other ways. Their faith is not dependent on me, but the Lord’s work in their lives and their ability not to reject it. I have been blessed that I no longer live under the condemnation of the law. When I don’t measure up, it’s not the end of the world. There is grace for me, grace for my loved one, and I can trust that the Lord has this at hand. While I don’t want to miss another opportunity, I don’t have to live pained by the one I missed. I will trust God, be competent and confident.

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My God is…to whom I submit James 4:7-8

James 4:7-8 –  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to White flagGod, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Submit yourselves therefore to God

Definition of SUBMIT

transitive verb
1 a: to yield to governance or authority
   b: to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation <the metal was submitted to analysis>
2: to present or propose to another for review, consideration, or decision; also : to deliver formally <submitted my resignation>
3: to put forward as an opinion or contention <we submit that the charge is not proved>
intransitive verb
1 a : to yield oneself to the authority or will of another :surrender
   : to permit oneself to be subjected to something <had to submit to surgery>
2: to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another
What do you think of when you hear the word submit? Is it a positive or negative thing for you? Take a moment to read the definition of submit above. Does it mean what you thought it did?
To yield oneself to the authority or will of another
Do you have a problem with authority? As Americans, we can kind of have a “you’re not going to tell me what to do” kind of attitude. We like to think of ourselves as independent beings. We don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything. As long as we’re not hurting anyone we should be able to do what we want. Do you like it when someone exerts their authority over you? It’s not always enjoyable. Maybe the reason we have such a hard time with those in authority over us is because we think we’re just as good as them, and we want to be the one’s with the authority.
We want to do what we want and not have to worry about what other people want or expect from us. We often put ourselves first, but that’s not what we’re called to do in the verse above from James. We are called to submit ourselves to God.
Surrender!
To some people surrendering means you’ve lost. To others surrendering means to give up. Some might say it means to stop fighting. I want to submit myself to God. I want to surrender to God. I don’t think of it as losing or giving up, but mostly I think of it as stop fighting. I need to stop fighting God. Often I feel myself pulled in one direction or another, like I’m being encouraged by God or other trustworthy Christians to do something. But I often try to ignore such promptings. These moments almost always bring discomfort. They make me afraid that I will not be good at what they’re encouraging me to do. I let fear keep me from doing what God would have me do. I fight Him at every turn. I ignore Him. I need to stop fighting and surrender. I need God to be the one to whom I submit.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How am I to submit to God? The verse goes on to give some examples of what a life submitted to God, surrendered to God might look like. First it says, “Resist the devil.” I don’t always want to resist the devil. Sometimes it looks like a lot more fun to give in to the devil (though I can’t think of a time I felt good after giving in). We fight God and His promptings to do what is right and give in to the devil all the time. We take the opportunity to say something snotty or crude. We drink a little too much. We gossip. We do so many things, and often we never even try to resist the urge. There is a promise at the end of the statement. If we resist the devil (the opposite of surrendering) the devil will flee from us. I don’t know about you, but I may not want to resist the devil, but I also don’t really want the devil hanging around. The more we resist the devil, the easier it becomes to resist the devil (because he is fleeing from us).
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Here is another part of the advice given in James about how to submit to God. We need to draw near to God. We need to seek Him out at every opportunity. Go to God in prayer, read His word and seek out those who know Him as their savior when you have decisions or questions to discuss. Draw near to Him. Put Him at the front of your mind, and you will not be disappointed. He will draw near to you as well. What a blessed promise that is!
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Keep your hands out of trouble. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t dirty your hands with unkind deeds. though we are sinners we need to always be working with the Holy Spirit’s help to purify our minds. To become increasingly more like the one we submit to. We need to stop saying we believe one thing on Sunday and do something completely contrary the rest of the week. We need to stop being double minded. We need to be focused on God. We need to submit to Him and His authority. We need to stop fighting what we know is right.
Have you stopped fighting?
 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in James, My God is to whom I submit

 

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My God is…able to guard what I have entrusted to Him 2 Timothy 1:11-14

2 Timothy 1:11-14 – For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason Iarmor-guard suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

I know the one in whom I have put my trust

Who do you trust? I have a few people I feel like I can trust. I have my husband, my parents, my sister and some really good friends that I feel I can trust to have my back and to always have the best intentions for everything they do in regard to me. I know that they are sinners though, so the amount of trust I truly give them is still limited. Not so with God. God is trustworthy. He is the one we can count on to always have our best interests at heart. He knows better than I do what I need and when. I know, like Paul who wrote 2nd Timothy, in whom I put my trust, my full and utter trust.

I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him

I love the witness that Paul is being. He says, even though he had suffered much and was still suffering on behalf of the gospel, that he knows he can trust God to follow through and keep guard over Paul spiritually and physically. Paul went through so much, but we can learn to be encouraged through the faith in God he is displaying here. He says he is sure that God will guard His faith and trust until the day Paul meets God in heaven.

Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus

Paul encourages those reading his letter (at the time and now) to believe what he is saying and trust him as he trusts in God. They can hold to the teachings he has given them, because they are based on the scriptures and teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus is who he trusts, and because He uses scripture and Jesus’ own words, Paul is telling us that we can trust the teachings he has put forth. We must always check what we believe against the scriptures so that we are not mislead.

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

As we go forward in our lives, we need to guard our faith. We need to keep away from situations that nick at our faith and try to tear it down. Maybe you need to stay away from a friend who berates you for your faith. We all could spend more time in scripture. The more we are in the word of God, the stronger we are to keep the faith. It is one of the way we guard our faith. We also need to surround ourselves with others who believe as we do. We need to reach out to those who know more than us about our Lord and to continue to grow in our faith so that it does not wither and starve like one who is not fed. The Holy Spirit is within us, and throughout your day, you may feel the Holy Spirit calling you toward things that bolster your faith and away from things that could harm your faith or lead you astray. Please hold dear the teachings of the Holy Spirit. Don’t ignore His promptings. How do you know it is from God? I don’t know for sure, but I do know it’s not from God if it contradicts the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. How do we learn what is from the Holy Spirit? Spend more time in the word. Protect yourself from the devil and his minions. Put on the full armor of God:

Ephesians 6:10-18  The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our[a] struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these,[b] take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench 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.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

 

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My God is…Washing John 13:7-9

John 13:7-9 – Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter Regular or Decaf Coffeesaid to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 

Story of my life! Have you ever felt that way? That you don’t know what God is doing, but in retrospect you can see His hand at every turn? Some of you might still be waiting for later to arrive. Waiting can be hard. Even when God explains it to us, sometimes we still don’t get it. Kind of like Peter in these verses.

You will never wash my feet

At first Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. He felt it wasn’t Jesus’ place. Being the most honored guest, someone should have offered to wash Jesus’ feet. Peter was sort of saying, “I’m good, I don’t need you to do that for me Jesus.” Peter’s intentions were good (not wanting to put Jesus out and all), but Peter wasn’t quite getting the point. Sometimes we’re put in situations like that too, aren’t we. We think we know what is the good and proper thing to do. We don’t like it when people rock the boat. Imagine sitting at restaurant, and you’ve been seated near the waiting staff’s station. Your waiter or waitress is swamped and hasn’t been able to refill your cup. Someone at your table gets up and grabs the coffee pot and pours some into the first cup. You might say, “I’m good”, because you don’t like how the normal way of doing things has been changed up. We don’t like when things go differently than we expect or is “normal”. We’re not always willing to “go with the flow” as my mother would say.

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

I know my coffee analogy has some holes, but work with me for a minute. Suppose you’ve just refused the cup of coffee poured by your friend. Your friend says to you, “Unless you let me serve you this coffee, you won’t get any.” That’s sort of what Jesus was saying to Peter. If you don’t let me serve you (not just coffee, but offering up His life), you’re not going to share in this salvation. If we want to do things the “normal” way or “our” way, we may find that we’ve missed the whole point. What is the point? To give glory to God. If we keep trying to do things the same way over and over again, we’re going to get the same results. When we trust God, we can be sure to be pushed out of our comfort zone, but we will also be enriched by a life spent focused on the Lord, and bask in the glory of our promised eternal life.

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

So your friend with the coffee said you might not get another chance to get more coffee. If we responded like Peter, we might get out our thermos and say, “not only in the cup, but fill up my thermos too”. Again, not a perfect analogy, but hopefully you get what I’m trying to say. Peter was vacillating between not wanting God to do anything and not believing what God was going to do was enough. At first Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet, but to prove how much he was part of Jesus, he wanted Jesus to wash all of him. What God does for us is enough. Sometimes we try to augment our salvation, what Jesus did for us on the cross. We think yeah, that’s good and all, but I’m pretty sure it comes down to me being a good person too. We don’t like it when things don’t go the way we’re used to. In the world, it does often come down to being a good person. But fortunately for us our salvation is not based on that. We don’t have to do more to earn our salvation. Jesus died on the cross, and that was enough. Even the martyrs who gave up their life to tell people about Jesus didn’t up their chances of being saved by their immense sacrifice. It was only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that has provided us with our sharing in His kingdom.

Sometimes we just go over the top.

 

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My God is…Cheering me up Psalm 94:18-19

Psalm 94:18-19 – When I thought, “My foot is slipping,”Jesushuggingcryinggirl
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.

I thought, “My foot is slipping”

Have you ever wondered how you ended up where you are? How could things have gotten this bad? Sinning can be a slippery slope. Sometimes one sin can lead to another which leads to another. That happens pretty regularly with lying. If you lie, you may find yourself lying over and over to cover your past lies. I’ve never been very good at lying for that very reason. It took too much work to cover each one up. I’d rather face the consequences of the first one then get tangled in the web of deceit. Our emotions can be a slippery slope too. We can start feeling bad, and then we start keeping track of all the bad that goes on in our lives. We like to compare the list with others so we can prove our day is going worse than theirs. But that slippery slope has another side. The side that goes away from sadness, away from sin. God is the way to get away from the slippery slope.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up

When we start to slip, or even to lean over the edge, God is there with His steadfast love to help us stand strong with Him. He can help us turn back from our sin. He can help us to come out from under our dark cloud. He can heal us from our infirmities. He can comfort us.

When the cares of my heart are many

I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed, especially emotionally. I think too much and my internal dialogue can go crazy if I’m given time to think too much. I am sure I know what everyone else is thinking, how they feel about me, how every conversation will go and whether or not it will end up poorly or well. This can lead to a lot of anxiety. I can imagine all sorts of things. Given that, social situations can become scary. I’m the same way about finances and work. If I think of something in the middle of the night, there is almost no way for me to get back to sleep. Why? Because I’m über focused on myself and my problems.

Your consolations cheer my soul
Definition of CONSOLE: to alleviate the grief, sense of loss, or trouble of : comfort

Trusting in God. Believing in His consolations. These are the things I (we) need to focus on when things start getting out of control. God is bigger than our problems, and He can find amazingly creative ways for what we’re sure will happen to change. God wants to cheer our soul. He has given us promises to look forward to, and mercies we can remember. God has the power to change things, but too often we’re holding on so tight that we won’t hand it over to Him and truly trust that He’s got this. He’s got our problems in His hand and is going to help us through these tough situations. He’s going to comfort and console us. He’s going to help alleviate the grief, and heal our sense of loss. When we change our focus from how things are affecting us, and instead focus on God (getting into His word, spending time in worship etc), we are reminded of all the Lord has done for us and we can learn to turn all our cares over to Him so that we might enjoy a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The promise of eternal life with God is something to cheer us and console us. God sacrificing His own Son so that we might live eternally, He loves us that much. That comforts me.

Do you need cheering up?

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in My God is Cheering me up, Psalm

 

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My God is…Yearned for Isaiah 26:8-9

Isaiah 26:8-9 – In the path of your judgments,Want, need and must have
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and your renown
are the soul’s desire.
My soul yearns for you in the night,
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
Definition of YEARN

1: to long persistently, wistfully, or sadly <yearns to make a difference>
2: to feel tenderness or compassion
To long persistently, wistfully, or sadly
Have you ever yearned for something? Think back on that feeling. Maybe you know that feeling really well and have been yearning for something for a long time with no satisfaction. Truthfully, there is only one thing that we can yearn for that will satisfy us and that is the Lord. God is the only one who can fill all of our needs. He can meet our physical, spiritual and mental needs. God is the only yearning that can be truly satisfied.
I yearn to be loved
I don’t know how many times I thought that to myself. I wanted some young man to fix the pains I had inside. I wanted someone to love me and accept me as I was. That for me meant testing that love with every ounce of my being – and then inferring the question, “Do you love me now?”. I was looking for a love that I couldn’t get from other people. I wanted the love only God could give. The kind of peace, inner peace that can only come from God. Only when I started to see myself as God sees me (His beloved one), I began to yearn less for the acceptance of boys and was able to have a true loving relationship with my now husband. Not because of a need to be accepted, but out of true real love for each other and God.
I yearn to be beautiful
Almost every young woman in America (and probably most other countries) has had this yearning at one time or another. My prideful self still struggles with it some days. Being beautiful, like being loved, is presented as the answer to many problems in this world. We might think that the beautiful people have it easier. They are liked more, given more and treated better than those of us of average looks. The world does value beauty, but in the end, I’m not sure most beautiful people would say they are more satisfied with life. Beauty comes from the Lord. When our hearts are changed and sanctified by Him, we become more beautiful as a result. We change, because to know God and not change is nearly impossible. As we get to know Him more we get to know ourselves more too. We see the way He created us uniquely to serve Him and others. It is in our ability to reflect God’s beauty, His love and His compassion that we truly become beautiful. I can’t say that I’m always beautiful in this way, but I think that the Lord has made me more beautiful than I ever thought possible. It is His work in me that has changed who I am and made me be able to look to Him for my satisfaction more readily.
My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you
The world wants us to yearn for the things they’re selling us. They want us to yearn for their products, their promises, their services. But God wants us to yearn for Him. In everything we do we should be seeking Him. We should be yearning for Him. We should long for Him with an ache in our heart. Yearning to know Him more, Yearning to be closer to Him, yearning to live more like Him. God is the only thing that will satisfy our yearnings. We need to be seeking Him with all our might.
Lord, I yearn for you, help me to yearn for you more.
What do you yearn for?
 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Isaiah, My God is Yearned for

 

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My God is…rewarding you – Proverbs 25:21-22

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;i-love-my-enemies
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;
for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,
and the Lord will reward you.

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink

Definition of enemy: “one that is antagonistic to another; especially: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent”

Do you have any enemies? I pray that you don’t, but I would guess most of us could think of one or two people (maybe many) who would make our enemies list. You may have heard that someone was talking behind your back spreading lies. Someone may have given you the wrong time to be somewhere to thwart your day’s agenda. Someone may have given you the cold shoulder. It is really hard when someone is treating you poorly. You may feel mad, sad, hurt, insecure or dejected. Maybe you’re just tired of having to defend yourself at every turn. Feeling that way often leads us to say things and do things we would not usually do. We might even be embarrassed if someone saw how we treated those we consider enemies. Having enemies usually doesn’t bring out the best in us. But what does God want us to do?

Matthew 5:43-45 – Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven

When I was going through a situation where I felt like people were treating me wrongly (like an enemy), I did what many people would do. I talked with my mom. We talked about how I didn’t want to dislike them, be mean to them etc, but that I was hurt and frustrated that even though I was being (in my mind) kind and supportive, I was having unkind thoughts. My dear mom suggested even though it may be hard to feel unloved, I should pray for them. She said that praying for them would push out the negative thoughts about them and allow me to move towards loving them. It’s not exactly what I wanted to hear (she didn’t encourage me to go off on them or ok my coming to fisticuffs over it), She was right (yes, I said it – my mom was right).

For you will heap coals of fire on their heads
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of our verse for today is this section, “for you will heap coals of fire on their heads”. I am sure it’s probably not in the most Christian of ways either. I truly love the idea that being kind to those who don’t like you would be its own punishment for them. In most of the examples of enemies I listed, it was people wrongly attacking you, but truth be told we often have done something that is unkind as well (even unknowingly sometimes). They may feel they are the ones who are being attacked by you, and  being kind to them may lead to some sort of reconciliation or at least respite from the painful attacks. Truth is, besides heaping coals on their heads, I don’t want to detract from my God. I don’t want my petty differences to become something bigger that means people are watching to see how I’ll react to someone instead of growing in their faith or their relationships here on earth. I want them to not be surprised when I respond in love no matter what is being said. I would love for that to be the truth in my life.
The Lord will reward you
Now, I’m pretty sure that God is not going to reward me with winning the lottery for not being mean to my enemies, or even if I’m taking it all the way to being nice or loving my enemies. I think the reward for us is that we are able to reconcile with them. That we might be able to grow and learn about the forgiveness our Lord gives us. We might find we have more in common with our enemies than we would have ever imagined. If nothing else, we would get the joy of knowing that by reacting differently than the world expects, we have an opportunity to reflect the Glory of our Lord, and that is a great reward.
Are you loving your enemies?
 

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