Wednesday, July 30, 2014
So Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through
the word of Christ.
We often leave town over the summer weekends. Soon, school schedules will prevent the luxury of these impromptu excursions. It dawned on me that, although I enjoy the spontaneity of our summer jaunts, I miss worshiping with fellow believers and miss time spent in God's Word. My faith is strengthened when I read, listen to and understand the Word of Christ.
Does "hearing" in Romans 10: 17 refer to physical listening? Can I merely hear or read His Word and acquire faith? Christ said, "I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:13)
Hearing refers to spiritual discernment. We can read or listen to the Word of Christ, but listening does not always result in faith. Faith is given to us by God, and faith enables us to understand, hear and see what God's Spirit teaches: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
With the Spirit's guidance, Christ speaks to us in His Word and uses it to teach us, correct us and build our faith and walk with Him. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) With God's help, we will read His Word and understand its purpose (Isaiah 55:11).
Although we cannot give ourselves faith, and we cannot discern God's Word without His Spirit, we can make time with God a priority. And so, I pray that you and I will be strengthened in our faith through His Word.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
As I was mulling over my week, making a list of all that I need to accomplish before my eldest son's wedding, I pondered this Scripture verse. How often do I plan my week without leaning on God's understanding? Do I even acknowledge Christ when making my plans or worrying about how much needs to be accomplished? Whose understanding do I usually lean on?
In all honesty, I first trust my own ability to navigate through circumstances and get things done. When events don't go as planned and obstacles come in my way, I will then reach out to God for help and ask for His guidance. I realize how backwards this is in light of Proverbs 3:5.
Martin Luther, the great reformer, wrote, "Work, work from morning until late at night. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer." Martin Luther found that time with God in prayer enabled him to get his work done. I too want to spend more time with God so that, without anxiety, I can be productive and give glory to Him.
I pray for you, dear reader, that you would trust in the Lord with all your hear. I ask you to lean not on your own understanding but to gain strength from time in the Word and in prayer and relationship with your Savior.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Research performed recently at Harvard School of Public Health displayed that exposure to news coverage of traumatic events can negatively affect our health. The study found that one of the biggest causes of stress is watching, reading, or hearing the news. In addition, repeated negative imagery can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (http://www.blisstree.com/2014/07/11/mental-health-well-being/watching-news-elevates-stress-levels/)
So much of what our media outlets expose us to is negative. We hear about brutality, murders, economic woes, political scandals, flooding, droughts, tornadoes, shark attacks, etc. Very little of the news is uplifting.
On the night before His death, Christ told his disciples,
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:25-27, NIV)
The disciples weren't aware that their teacher was about to die, yet Jesus knew, and He was preparing them to deal with the traumatic events and the void they would experience by His absence. Jesus would leave them, but when He came back, before His ascension, Christ would equip them with His presence in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that Jesus contrasts the peace the world gives with His peace. What sort of peace does our world give? When a friend experiences hardship, we usually try to assuage his/her fears with assurance that all will end up well. We offer emotional comfort that provides temporary consolation. The Peace Christ gives, on the other hand, is undying. The Peace of Christ can not be earned. It is free - paid for by Christ's sacrifice. He paid our debts when He died for us on the cross, and our peace became an enduring peace when Christ rose again and was victorious over sin and death. By faith, we are members of Christ's family. We have a peace that is perfect and casts out all fear:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isaiah 26:3).
Because we trust in our Savior, we need not fear the distressing events we face on earth. Our ultimate home is with our Savior in heaven, a place where traumatic news does not exist. Praise be to God that our Peace in Christ is everlasting!
Thursday, July 10, 2014
I am presently taking a course called Language Learning Through Technology. With my lack of computer savvy, my brain is taxed with the demands of the course, and my thoughts are blank when I want to share the joy of knowing Christ in this blog. In an attempt to finish all of my course projects, I have let go of time with God, and I sense a void of His presence. Of course, He is with me, even when I don't acknowledge Him or spend time sharing my life with Him (Matthew 28:20). Yet, my emptiness needs filling that can only be quenched by the "fullness of Him who fills everything in every way" (Ephesians 1:23). I need Christ to fill my mental void so that I can express His peace and love in my thoughts and behavior.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ, you have been brought to fullness. (Colossians 2:6-10)
I want my life to be "rooted and built up in him." I ask Christ to strengthen my faith and fill me with thankfulness for the privilege of knowing and serving Him. Although I don't think my coursework has taken me captive with hollow and deceptive philosophy, it has filled my mind so that I have left no space for Christ.
As I pray that Christ would pervade my emptiness, I pray also for you, dear reader, that you would "know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:19)
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
During my morning jog, I often take pictures of wildlife. I've encountered bears - no kidding! The three bears I have seen on the Santa Fe Trail sent me running quickly in the opposite direction rather than playing dead; this seems to be my natural reaction! Yesterday, I spotted a big hawk sitting proudly on a telephone pole. I quickly took out my cell phone to try to capture the sight, but then an odd thing happened. A small bird pounced on the hawk causing it to shift and move its wings in an attempt to bat off the bird. The little bird didn't' stop, however. He kept flying back, dodging at the hawk. The hawk then swooped down towards the grass with the smaller bird still in pursuit. Perhaps the little bird realized that the fun was over, as he went his way while the hawk flew on to another telephone pole.
When I came home, I read this Scripture from Romans 15: 1-6
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I had just witnessed a pesky little bird taunt a stronger raptor. I mused about strength. What makes us strong? It is our faith in Christ that makes us strong enough to endure tough situations and hang on to hope when we feel weak.
Jesus lived a life of selflessness; He acted not to please Himself, but taking on insults, Christ bore the curse of our sins and endured death so that we could be strong in Him. We can take on the humble attitude of our Savior. "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."