Are We Too Familiar?

Are We Too Familiar

Familiarity breeds contempt.

That was my answer. The question asked, ” How is it that we have managed to kill gratitude in our lives? Why do we feel a sense of entitlement instead of thankfulness?” (Philippians (To live is Christ & to die is Gain), Chandler, 2011)

At the time, I was thinking of our pastors. As we know them, as we see their human frailties, as we become familiar with them and their lives, we can allow the devil to breed contempt in our hearts. It is not like we are having to sneak around to have church, or that our pastors are putting their lives on the line every day, willingly exposing themselves to be drug out into the street and killed. I think if they were, our contempt would be squashed rather quickly.

Just last week, I began thinking about the very word of God. How familiar we are with it and what ease we have accessing it. Most of us aren’t reading our Bibles in secret for fear of our lives. No longer do we need to rely on tattered pages to read the Scriptures. We can have any verse right at our fingertips electronically any time we want. No longer do I need to scour the pages of my Bible or a concordance to find the scripture I am looking for. The internet has made it only a search away.

I am not saying those are bad things. I use my Bible on my iPhone. I love Bible Gateway. But I wonder if our familiarity with the Word has allowed a level of contempt to arise.  I wonder if we have lost the awe found in the sound of rustling pages? If the ease at which we can access it has caused our hearts to view it as only another book on our Kindles or our Nooks? As the tattered pages generations before us touched and turned are replaced with swipes, in some manner is the human contact with the printed Word of God is lost?

As I said, I myself use the internet for Bible study just like so many of you, but nothing replaces my Bible. The pages marked up with notes, highlights and questions. When the enemy attacks my mind, it is not my phone I sleep with under my pillow but rather my Bible, whose cover is punctured with pen holes from the boys. When my emotions overwhelm me and the tears fall, it is not my iPad or Kindle or Nook I cling to my chest, but my well-worn Bible, with its curved binding and awkwardly folded pages.

As I look into my own heart for any level of contempt, I would ask you to do the same. Do you and I still revere the Word of God or is it just another instruction manual? Are we some familiar with it we no longer see the awe and the glory of the entire thing? Do we just minimize it, shove it in our cases and walk  away?

I am in no way saying one is better than the other, but I encourage you to get your hands on a real, pen and paper Bible this week.  Listen as you turn the pages. Run your fingers across the words. Hold it close to your chest (trust me…it is not the same as clinging to your phone). Pretend it is the first time you have laid eyes upon and hands to it.

Then you can go back to you electronic versions.

I will still be using my iPhone and Bible Gateway.

Father God, forgive me when I have taken Your Word for granted. Forgive me for the times I have treated it with indifference instead of the regard it deserves.  May our familiarity with the Word not breed contempt, but may it stir up in us the reassurance and hope You promise from beginning to end.

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Establishing a Routine

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Researches say that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  So, here we are in the final days of January, after many of us committed to some new habits and lifestyle changes for the new year, and I wonder….

How are you doing?

Are you on track or are you already behind in your efforts, close to giving up completely?

As you might remember, I committed to two things this year, reading through my Bible and writing letters to my family.  I just finished up the book of Genesis and I’ve sent out 4 letters.  But now comes the rough part….the next 21 days.

Genesis was fairly easy to read since most of the stories were familiar, basic Sunday School lessons that I’ve read many times before. The letter writing was pretty easy since it was my closest family members that I wrote to.  However yesterday, reading chronologically, I was supposed to start reading Job and I haven’t written the hardest letter yet because of some relationship issues with the person.

So….time to just call it quits?  Maybe skip a week or that person on my list?  That would make it a whole lot easier….like just skipping over those names in Genesis of who begat whom.  Who’s going to know that I didn’t really read those names, but more or less scanned them? Or that I didn’t write a letter to that  particular person, since they aren’t expecting it anyway?

God would know.

You see, I made my commitments to God…not man.  He likes to gently nudge me in the right direction….toward my Bible, toward the stationary.  If I resist, He does a little more than nudges…He pushes.  God can push pretty hard, you know!

So when I was reading all those “begats” , I started thinking of them more as people than just names.  They were someone’s grandfather.  I want to remember my grandfathers, I want their names to be familiar, know who they were, what they did, how they played a part in my life.  I want my children to remember them too, even though they never met one of my grandfathers.  I think that is what God is wanting me to do too, with all those names.  They were people that lived, laughed, loved, hated, cried, hurt, played jokes, messed up miserably…you get the picture…they mattered to God.

It helps me to make a list, a family tree so to speak.  If I write it down, I have a tendency to remember it better…so I write their names down.  Of course that can get a little confusing and if you don’t like history, it may not be your thing.  I did find a website that has the family tree of Jesus.  It starts with Adam & Eve and goes as far as you want to take it, all you have to do is click on a name.   (Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with this website.  I found it through a word search on Google.  Part of the website is in a different language, of which I could not read.  Some of the names are spelled differently, but I did find it a helpful tool, but use it at your own risk.)

And if I get behind in my reading, those nudges from God have helped me to turn off the TV or the computer and pick up my Bible.    However, if you are way behind, like not even reading, starting with today….just read!  I have tried setting my alarm clock to go off 20 minutes earlier than normal.  That sometimes work, but I personally do better by setting aside some time during the day after my brain wakes up, so I can retain and comprehend what I’m reading and studying.  Whenever, however you do it, God just wants you in His Word, not so you can put a check mark down as a task finished, but so He can talk to you.

About that letter….it’s hard.  I had committed to telling my family that I was praying for them, specifically for their spiritual growth, encouraging them in their journey with God.  However, with this family member….I have issues.  Every time I sit down to write, negative thoughts and emotions pour out.  I don’t want to send that kind of letter.  Yes, there are issues that need to be dealt with…but that is not what God is wanting me to do with this letter.  He is wanting me to love and encourage them.  I want to nag.

Photo by Rowdy Kittens on Flickr

So, the stationary comes out.  The words will be filtered through God’s love for them and for me.  The issues will still be there, but I’ll pray about them on my own and then when God wants them to be dealt with, I’ll have already been in a prayerful attitude about them.   Of course I won’t be surprised if God reveals that the issues just might be with me!!!

To prepare for the time when I can send a note, it really helps me to keep my journal and stationary together.  I pull out the addresses of the people I will be writing to and keep them with my stationary along with a supply of stamps.  I don’t want any other excuses to not send the notes.  The reason for my journal….as I’m writing the letters, I make notes of the Bibles verses I include in their letter and any prayer thoughts that may come to mind while I’m writing.  Then during my own prayer time, I use the journal to help me focus on my family.

So, how are you changing up your routine to make time for the new or refreshed lifestyle changes you committed to?  Please share with us what you are focusing on this year and how you are making time for this focus in your daily life. 

But one thing is needful:  and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

-Luke 10:42 (KJV)

 

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To Delight and Instruct

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It was Christmas of our third year in seminary.  I was pregnant with our third son and had just finished reading a book about books by some of my favorite Christian authors. Until then, I had not ventured into the world of “the Classics” believing them to be so far above my limited brain power, it wasn’t even worth the effort. But my recent read from beloved “friends” encouraged me to try. So for Christmas, I asked for Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky.

I didn’t jump right into the novel, still wondering if I would be able to “get it” and not wanting to try and then feel dumb if I couldn’t.  So much fear.  But within a month, our third son was born by c-section, 4 weeks early.  So while he stayed, stabilized and in gifted hands at the hospital, for the first time, I went home to recover without a baby.  As I laid in bed, cherishing the much needed rest after a difficult pregnancy, I picked up Crime and Punishment and began to read.

My reading has never been the same since.

Not only did I find that I could wade through the dense language and character development, I also found that the work was well worth the effort.  I found myself amazed at the arrogance of Raskalnikov, Dostoyevsky’s protagonist, as he lived out his Neitzchen Superman philosophy that says some people (few) are so intelligent that they are above the law.  And then my heart turned towards anger as he commits his crime and then seeks to justify himself to himself  (and to God) as to why he was not guilty.  And finally, I found myself feeling deep compassion for him, such a lost soul, as his burden of guilt brought on physical illness and ultimately insanity – an insanity that Raskalnikov suffered until he confessed his guilt and took responsibility for his crime and then repented before God.  It was then and only then, as he endured hard labor in a Russian prison camp that he experienced real freedom.

How much truth can a novel tell?  A lot.  The wonderful effect that stories have on our hearts is God-designed.  We are meant to relate to stories differently than we relate to straight didactic teaching – stories touch our emotions as well as our minds and thus bring about a fuller level of understanding.  The writers of days gone by understood this better than most in our age.  It was the Roman poet Horace who said, “Art is meant to delight and instruct.”  C.S Lewis advised that for every new book one reads, two old ones should be read next.  Yes, older books require more effort – the language, even in a translation, can be dense.  Often the historicity of the story – taking place in a time and place we can’t relate to, can be a hinderance.  But persevere – God gave us minds to use – the depths of the rewards gained from the work put forth will not be lost. By reading more “old” books, we are deepened and sharpened by the lives lived long ago.

So, with that said, a few recommendations:  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – it only takes one look into temptation to fall into sin, thus a godly and upright woman is brought down.  At the same time, an agnostic honestly struggles to find faith and love.  He does.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – the most beautiful rendition of Gospel in story apart from the Gospel  itself found in Scripture.  A contrast of living out of gratitude for what has been done for you and trying to do it yourself.  Grace vs. Law, 101.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – God is at work in every aspect of our lives even when we can’t see it.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Discontent, bitterness, and pride will kill our hearts turning us into shadows of  the humanity for which God designed.

Elie Weisel said, “God made man because he loves stories.” Our Savior spoke often in stories.  Our God tells us stories throughout Scripture to teach of who He is and what He is doing in this world.  Don’t be afraid to join the “great conversation” humanity has been having since the beginning of time.  Grab a good book, a cup of coffee, light the fire and take and read.

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Start Now…

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Dear Rhonda,

You are growing up a good church going kid. That is a fine thing, so don’t let that label bother you. It will spare you more heartache than you know. However, you are going to need more. You need the Word of God. You think you know it. You don’t. You know a few key verses. You know the stories, but, right now, you don’t know it. You are not aware of the life it brings. You are not aware of the changing power those printed words carry. You have no idea how soon you will cling to them for you own sanity. If I could tell you one thing to change, it would be your study of the Word of God. Dig in deep sister.

Start you scripture memorization now, and don’t wait until your mid-thirties. Jump head first into godly, biblical studies. Search out those who bring the truth of God’s word. Do not take it for face value because it comes from the pulpit. Open up that red, leather bound King James Version you have and read it for yourself. Do not rely on others to educate you about the Word. They can assist, but the responsibility is yours. Find a reading plan and start everyday you can reading the Word. Ask the Lord to make it fall fresh on your hard heart. It is the only thing that will soften it. Firmly root passages in your mind so that you are quick on the offensive when the enemy comes. And believe, dear one, he is coming. He is after you with all he has.

Your mind, like so many others, will be a repeated battle field. Armor up missy. You get in those pages. You put those words to use. You read them, study them, and use them to fight for your relationship with the One who inspired them. It is not going to matter what church you attend, what pastoral staff you know, or how much you serve, when the attacks come, when your faith is tested, when your very core is attacked, and it will be, it will come down to you and Jesus. You and what you have hidden in your heart about Him. You and what you have securely planted in your mind about God, our Father, and His love toward you.

The confidence you have in Him will only come from knowing Him, and that will come from studying His word. It is life to you, baby. It is life for you, for your marriage. For your boys to come.

As I sit here writing to you I can hardly see through my tears. I cannot express to you how much the Word of God is going to mean to you. How you will defend its integrity to the bitter end and how you will hold fast to it. Start now baby. Start now. You are not too young for this. You are not too messed up. You are not too good. You need those words. You need the Word. You need to know them. You need Him.

He will meet you on those printed pages. He will meet you in a single word. He will save you. He will change you. He will love you. He will set you free.

Open that book and let Him.

John 1:14 (New King James Version)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

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Deeper Meaning in Many Colors

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Do you sometimes find that reading the Bible is a little “black-and-white”.  That is because our Bibles are printed that way.  Well, O.K. some have some red letters in them in the New Testament, but the other some-odd percent is just black and white.

This can make it tough sometimes to see the full color of what the Bible has to offer.  If you are looking for a way to add some color to your daily Bible here is any easy way to do so.

First, get a new Bible.

When I first began this, I bought a new Bible that is bigger than my normal one.  I did this so the pages won’t have that familiar look to them to aid in my concentration.  You can of course use the one you are already using, but I found that starting fresh gave me an opportunity to read the Scriptures for the “first” time since all my notes, etc. were not there.

Second, get a pack of colored pencils.

I bought a set of 36 colors.  The lead needs to be relatively soft so it won’t tear the pages, but firm enough to not rub onto the other pages.  You’ll want to test them out on a page that you won’t mind getting torn if the pencil is too firm or smudged if too soft. 

Third, make a list and put it in your Bible of what colors mean what.

Feel free to use any color for any category you want and to add to it.  Here’s a list to get you started;

God                             Yellow

Warning                      Grey

Sin                               Black

Salvation                     Red

Work of God              Dark Green

Commands/                 Light Green

Christian Growth

Reason’s from God     Light Blue

            (because/since)

Confidence                 Orange-yellow

Encouragement           Aqua

Worship                       Dark blue

Grief/sorrow                Brown

Just because                orange

            i.e. it doesn’t fit the others but you want it highlighted

Trinity                         pink

Promise of God           Light purple

Faith                            Red-brown

Etc.

Fourth, go color!

Now you are ready to begin.  Start by having the colored pencils and the list by your side and within reach.  Sitting at a table or in a chair that has a large armrest helps.  This makes it easy to color without having to balance everything on your lap. 

Now, color over the word(s) and phrases that correspond to your list while reading. 

For example,  Genesis 1:1 is all dark green for the work of God. 

Genesis 2:3 is half dark green “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” and the other half, light blue “because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Another example Genesis 16:9  I have highlighted in light green the words, “return,” and “submit” as they are commands from God to Hagar. 

Furthermore, every time God says, “I will” I have that in either aqua for encouragement or light purple for a promise, or sometimes both if I cannot decide.  i.e. Gen 2:18; 6:13; 7:4; 8:21, 12:1, 2, etc.

When I find things that talk about the character or person of God I use yellow as in Genesis 8:21 or in Psalm 18:2 “the Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer;” etc.

Sometimes, I use orange to color something to either stand out from the rest or because it doesn’t seem to fit the other categories.  For example, In Deuteronomy 11:22 I used orange to color the word “if” in an otherwise light green sentence, just to point out the condition in it.  Another example is in Judges, I used orange to write in the margins the years that they judged for. 

Still further, I sometimes use orange to highlight a text note to make it easy to come back to. 

I find this “color-coding” method to be helpful as it enables me to easily come back to specific scriptures and/or ideas, themes, etc.  This is because just by the color of a page (or set pages/book) it is easy to see what is going on.  This has helped me be both encouraged and challenged by scriptures in a new way.

By using colors, it also adds to my concentration of the passages as I am looking for key words and phrases then coloring them.  This helps cut down on distractions and encourages me to focus on each word without just “glossing over”.  This then helps me add deeper meaning to my reading, especially when I re-read the text.

It has also helped me to pray through scripture as the prayers of others are highlighted and I can use those or other scripture that are commands to help me see where I am falling short and to have compassion on others.

If you feel a bit funny using colored pencils, just invite your children to help you and make it a time of reading and deciding what colors should go where together.  What a great opportunity to open the scriptures, minister to your children, and be ministered to.

So I encourage you to get out there and color and see how God will enrich your Bible reading and devotional time together.

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Me and My House

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I love the fact that Joshua was such a man of God that he was not afraid to stand up to the Israelites and show them what serving the Lord meant. In their day and time, it was not an uncommon practice to worship idols and different gods.

Today’s times are no different than in Joshua’s day and time. The idols and gods are different, but the nature itself is no different. Today we have idols such as jobs, cars, material possessions, and gods such as money, keeping up with the Joneses, greed, power, lust, and pride. God is asking us to lay that all aside and serve Him.

In the Bible, the book of Joshua states it so well. Chapter 24 verses 14-28 are labeled The Covenant Renewal. Joshua tells the Israelites to put away all their idols and gods, to fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. He goes on to tell them that if that doesn’t work for them, they should “choose this day” whom they would serve…..the Lord or their idols and gods. Joshua made it very clear to the Israelites that he and his family would be serving the Lord.

The people told Joshua that they wanted to serve God. He explained to them that if they planned to keep their idols, they would not be able to worship and serve God, because He is a jealous God and will share His worship with NO ONE! The people persisted even more and again told Joshua…NO! We want to serve and worship the Lord. Joshua told them that they were witnesses to their own confessions and renewals before God. He told them that they had to rid themselves of their idols and gods.

Today, God is calling us to do the same thing. We MUST put away any idols that have taken God’s place in our lives. He is to be first among everything we have going on. If He is not first, I urge to rearrange your priorities, and renew your covenant with the One who loves you with an everlasting love.

For this moment, let’s be like Joshua…..

Today, choose for yourselves the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! - Joshua 24:15b

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Loving God with Your Mind

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“I don’t want to get into all that theology stuff.  I just want to love God.”

“I only read the Bible and Christian books because that is all that matters anyway.”

“Don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.”

Have you ever heard anything like these phrases?  Maybe you have said or thought them yourself.  It’s difficult to know what to and what not to engage in a culture such as ours so bent against God and His Word.  And with the divisions we see among the body of Christ, it also doesn’t surprise me that some of us just don’t want anything to do with any thing that might be even remotely controversial.  Why can’t we just love God?  Why can’t we just love each other?

But we are called to love God not just with our heart, and not just with our soul, and not just with our strength, but also with our minds.  So what does that mean?

There are several things I think this command calls us to.

1.  First and foremost, loving God with our mind calls us to be in His Word as it is the primary means by which he has revealed Himself to us and how he has given us His story, THE STORY, to engage, dig deep into, become one with so to speak.  I highly recommend reading Scripture from beginning to end at least every few years.  There is a continuity to it as God’s chosen way to unfold His story, that is difficult to grasp when we read a book here and there or even do topical studies.  Do not hear me say don’t do topical studies – I am about to begin one in January – and looking forward to it – but if you have never read through the entire Bible from cover to cover,  might I suggest 2011 be the year to do so.  You will find pieces fitting together that you didn’t even know were related.  It’s amazing.  But the main point here is to be in Scripture.  Amen.

2. Loving God with our mind also calls us to engage the world He has made – to learn about it, to take care of it, to seek to understand it as best we can within our abilities and His revelation and enablement of discovery at this time. Do you wonder about how clouds form?  Or as one of my kids wondered today, why is there steam-like vapor rising from the river when it is single digit temps all around us?  Why are there are so many different kids of snow?  (We are in winter weather wonderland here, forgive me.)  We can take delight in learning about these and all aspects of our Father’s world, as we should.  He uses jars of clay such as us to further discovery of his world.  Can you imagine if the Wright brothers said, “You know what, we shouldn’t be messing around with wings and stuff.  If God meant us to fly he would have given us wings.”  No, their curiosity and study of God’s world lead to an engineering marvel which now enables us all to see more of God’s world  without taking three months on a ship to do so.

3. Loving God with our mind calls us to engage the culture in which we find ourselves, not becoming like the culture, but listening wisely to its voices – it cries of joy and pain – and then be Gospel speakers into it.  Much of what distresses us about culture can be explained as sinful man seeking to make sense of life apart from God.  Listen, engage, ask questions – why is this song resonating with people?  Why is this book on the bestseller list?  What is it saying that draws people in?  It may be speaking complete lies, but listen so that if the opportunity arises, we can speak the Good News of Christ in the wake of the futility culture can leave us in.

4.Loving God with our mind calls us to engage the beauty and dignity God has created within us all.  Even unbelievers can make beautiful music, paint a beautiful picture, write a stunning novel, make an amazing scientific breakthrough.  Do we believe that?  How much more of a voice would we have if unbelievers heard us praising what was truly beautiful instead of nay-saying this book, and that song because it doesn’t fit within the confines of a Pharisaic ideal. As Christians, we know the Author of Truth and Beauty.  We have the ability to introduce beauty-makers to the One who gifted them in the first place.

5. Loving God with our mind calls us to engage the great Christian tradition handed down to us through the ages. Men and women fought and died for the purity of the church and God’s Word and we are going to bury our heads in the sand and not listen to what they thought and went through because we just need to love one another??  We do need to love one another, and one of the many ways we do love one another is by speaking truth to one another.  Listen to truth spoken by the saints of old.  Read the Church fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans, the mystics, and the martyrs of our day and old.  Read C.S. Lewis.  Read G.K. Chesterton – he’s hilarious. Read the theologians of today.  And then go to Scripture and test them against God’s Word.  You will grow as you wrestle with what these great minds are saying.  I don’t usually agree with everything any one man has said when I test it against Scripture, but it sharpens me as I am made to think about these things I would not normally think about in the course of a day.

To love God with our mind is a call to engage Scripture on a deeper level, and it is also a call to engage this world in which we find ourselves living day after day on a deeper level in order to be Good-news bearers into the world.  Do so bathed in prayer, and with great wisdom.  And have fun.  Loving God with our minds should be experienced as sheer delight as we learn more of Him, more of His ways and become instruments of grace in our Redeemer’s hands in the process.

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If/Then….But If/Then

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One thing I learned quickly in my very first Kay Arthur, Percept Upon Percept, Bible study was that you have to remember your high school English classes when reading the Bible using this method.

In case you have not taken one of Kay’s studies….or have forgotten those English classes…or slept through them the first time…..”if” and “but” are conjunctions.  That means that they connect major parts of speech or clauses within a sentence.

What I have found in applying this to my Bible study is that when I see “if” or “but” being used, I need to look for something that it is going to connect in the rest of the verse(s).  It’s like what Kay says about when you see “therefore”….read to see what it’s there for!

I was recently reading in John 15 and I noticed a number of “if’s” throughout the reading.  Most of the verses had an implied “then” after the “if”.  Take for instance verse 7:

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.

It should probably really read like this….

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you….then you can ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.

….or something like that.  However it reads, the statement is clear.  I have to do something before I can expect God to answer my prayers.

When God or Jesus was speaking, They would start their teaching with “if you will do such and such…then I will do this and that”.  That’s an “if/then” statement.  I’ve noticed that usually a blessing comes after the “then”.  There are also the “but if you will not do such and such…then I will do this and that” type of statements.  These “but if/then” statements are usually followed by a punishment or curse.

I want the “if/then” statements….what about you?!

There are a few commands that Jesus gives us in John 15.  Back to our English lessons….

Every sentence is made up with a subject and a predicate.  The subject of the sentence is the person or thing about which the sentence is being said.  The predicate is what is said about the subject and always contains a verb (an action or state of being).  However, a command without a subject (for example “love one another”) has a predicate, but the subject is implied to be “you”.

Don’t give up on me yet….there’s a reason for the English madness.

Verse 4 started all this.

Remain in Me, and I in you.

This is a command and the implied subject is “you” or “me” to be precise.  IF I follow this command, there is a blessing….THEN God will answer my prayers.  Now that doesn’t mean that  God will answer all my prayers just as I prayed them, or like I have in mind….they have to be in accordance to His will….but we won’t go there today.

So how do I remain in Him?  (I’ll go ahead and tell you that I read that sentence with another implied word added – Remain in Me since I already am in you….He doesn’t come and go in my life!)  He gives more direction within this chapter.

Here’s some other commands that all work together:

  • Remain in My love.
  • Keep My commands.
  • Love one another.
  • Bear fruit.
  • Testify.

How do I remain in Him….by remaining in His love…how do I do that…by keeping His commands…how do I do that…by loving others….what will happen then….I will bring others to Him….how…I’ll be testifying of His love.  See how that works?!  So how do I know what His commands are?  I must remain in Him….or remain in His Word.

I can’t do what God says unless I know what He says.  Once I do…I have a choice to make.  I can either obey His Word or reject it.   I have no more excuses.  Based on John 15, if I reject His Word, He will cast me out (not the same as losing my salvation), but as not being of usefulness to His work.

Regular Bible study is the answer to life’s questions.  How do I live a godly life?  It’s in the Bible.  How do I forgive my enemies?  It’s in the Bible….you get the picture.

Now in case you are wondering what got me going in this line of thinking, I’d like to share a short, true, story.  I recently had someone helping me clean my house (for my daughter’s wedding).  They cleaned off a table that we had to use in the wedding.  Everything on the table was put somewhere else.  Around 2 days after the wedding, I went in search of my Bible.  I hadn’t done any reading in it since the morning of the wedding.

I couldn’t find my Bible anywhere.  I searched the bookshelf near where the table had been, where my Bible had been before the wedding, I went through some of the clutter of wedding decorations that then littered my house.  It wasn’t anywhere.

I could have easily found another Bible, but I wanted that particular one.  So I had these excuses not to get into the Word.  I went almost 2 weeks before finding my Bible….on that same bookcase!  My very first devotion took me to John 15.

I got the feeling that God was trying to tell me something.  I am to remain in Him…in His Word….and He is already in me!

I’m to remain…even when I can’t find my Bible (there’s the internet, www.mystudybible.com is a great site for the full Bible on-line….there’s all the other Bibles that I have around the house….there’s the Bible on CD that I have).   There is no excuse not to be in His Word!!!!

I just have to make the choice to remain.  There’s no ifs, ands , or buts about it!

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My Letter to God

Pensive Businesswoman

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” -John 1:38 (NIV)

I am following Jesus, unsure really of who He is at time, just knowing that He is worth following. Sometimes I’m step in step with Him, sometimes I run ahead and have to wait or turn back. Other times I fall behind, distracted by something along the side of the path and He has to come back for me. We talk as I follow, I listen, I learn, I question, I stumble and Jesus steadies me, He carries me, He teaches and He answers. But today He stopped and turned to me. He took my hand in His, looked in my eyes and asked…

“Child, what do you want?”

I saw in His eyes the promise of answered prayers. I saw love for me, compassion, longing to reach me.
I took a breath and told Him my heart’s desire…..

Lord, (please pardon all the I’s…but You did ask)

I want You. I want what You offer. I want to see the pride in Your eyes when You look at me. I want to hear You say (as You did of Job), “My servant, Deborah…There is none like her on earth; she is blameless and upright, she fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8 NIV). I want to make You a “proud papa” when You think of me. I want to glorify You. I want You with me, no matter what is happening in my life…hold me tight, Lord.

I want … (fill in anything dealing with a better body image).

I want… (fill in anything dealing with a better marriage & family life).

I want… (fill in anything dealing with a job situation).

There are the standard wants that probably everyone wants (and I do too)….good health for my entire family, a godly relationship with You for my entire family, success, happiness…dare I say it?…money.

But, Lord, basically, I want wisdom to take what You have already given me and use it the right way.

My heart’s desire…I guess this is pretty much it…are You sorry You asked? Or did You know already…and now I know too?

Love,

Deborah

_____

This is an updated post of a letter that I wrote to God when I was doing The Beloved Disciple Bible study by Beth Moore about 2 years ago. I did spell out my complete “wants” in those three areas shorten above at that time…I think you get the picture. Have you ever written a letter to God and really told Him what you wanted?  I mean…He did ask, right?

I am revisiting some of my past posts on my website (HolyCamp) to see if I had grown any.  Truth is…I seem to be right back at the same place I was 2 years ago.

I’ve got a list of studies that I’ve done over those 2 years in the front of my Bible.  I’ve dated the different books of the Bible that I have read through and studied on my own.  My Bible is underlined and notes are in the margins from sermons I’ve heard and been inspired by.

But if I were to write another letter to God right now….it would basically read the same.

Why hasn’t there been a change?  Why haven’t I grown?  Why couldn’t I mark off at least one area of that letter where God had actually given me what I wanted?

What’s wrong with me?

Do you ever feel like that?  All the Bible study in the world doesn’t seem to change anything.  I’m getting quite a bit of head knowledge about the Bible.  That’s good….right?

But when will I start applying the knowledge to my heart..to my feet, to my hands…when do I start seeing some actions to my study?

If I look closely at my letter, I will see that what I asked for is almost a never ending request.  I can never truly get to the place where I don’t desire to know God more.  There will always be areas of my body, my family life, my spiritual walk that needs improving.

You see, God did answer my letter.  I still want Him, I’m still desiring to know Him better.  I still want my family to know Him better.

There’s nothing wrong with me…well except I tend to see with human eyes.  In my Father’s eyes…I have grown…closer to Him.

Bible study is more than just getting a head knowledge about what His book is about.  At some point you have to stop studying and take the test.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve taken some tests…they were hard tests, many in one day.  Often they were “pop quizzes” (as Beth Moore says) and I got popped pretty hard!

But….

I’m passing…not always with flying colors…but I’m passing!

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