A Blogged Bible Study entry on John 8:
Stepping into the blogosphere took me away from my isolated existence. Somehow, somewhere the thought came for me to blog. I asked my family what it meant and they got me started. I jumped in looking for places of interest to me, which led me down the path of religious blogs. I searched the dashboard for any good discussion. In time I found debate, heresy, lies, truth…so many ideas and so many philosophies and so many declarations. At first it was disheartening seeing the word of God not often declared.
That was my goal for blogging. I wanted to give scripture to anyone wanting to hear. I don’t desire to tear anyone down. I do want to lift up my Savior.
You see, I believe He is the Son of God.
“I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent…
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Reading from an old blog buddy today, Ivy Rain. She makes so much sense to me…
“Have you ever stopped to think where you might be
if God had given you everything you wanted?”
The most meaningful words right now:
Your blood speaks a better word, than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this earth, speaks righteousness for me, and stands in my defense… Jesus, it’s your blood…
Everyone is trying to define God, to put Him in a box, with a lid on, with instructions to say: do this and you will get this, pray like this and you will get this, fast like this and He will reward you, read your Bible like this and you will please Him and He will give you what you want. It is exhausting. It is meaningless, empty, useless, stale -air.
God Almighty is outside of all our borders, outside of all our boxes, He is uncontainable, He is undefinable, He does not fit into any human box, we cannot fathom Him with our little minds… and yet we never cease trying. Oh, how we…
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I was raised to be good and right.
I followed the rules.
I was sure Jesus saved me, but also believed my works kept me saved.
“We come from good stock.”
(No one is good but God.)
“But, we go to the right church. Those other churches don’t understand what it takes to truly be a Christian.”
(God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.)
“I can’t dance. It’s against my religion.”
(Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.)
I once thought all these things were so very important,
but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Yes, everything else is worthless
when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
I have discarded everything else,
counting it all as garbage,
so that I may have Christ and become one with Him.
I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law,
but I trust Christ to save me.
For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.
As a result, I can really know Christ
and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.
I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death,
so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things
or that I have already reached perfection!
But I keep working toward that day when…
I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.
No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,
but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize
for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
~from Philippians 3
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God
whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
– Oswald Chamber
“No one is good but God”
“Let not your heart be troubled;
Trust in God. Trust also in Me.”
“I and the Father are One.”
-Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God
Heavenly Father, I thank You that even when I do not understand what You are doing, or how You are working Your plan in this world, I do know YOU. I do know You have revealed who You are in Your word and through The Word. I can read all that You have revealed through the Law and the Prophets, for the Jewish people have kept it intact, throughout the ages, so that the world may know. I can read about Your Son, The Word of God sent to save a sinful world. I can understand the path of salvation, for I know He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I praise Your Name for making the way clear, for speaking the truth through Your servants, and for making eternal life available to all who believe, in the Name of Jesus…
At this time, when all the world seems to be falling into more and more chaos, with each passing day the devastation caused by hatred and greed is further revealed; help us, O Lord, to rest in Your plan. Remind us of Your goodness and mercy and wisdom. Let us remember Your lovingkindness and Your faithfulness toward us who believe. Help us see that we serve a good God who holds all of the world in His loving hands.
Please, Father, lift the veil of unbelief. I know You do not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to You. You have chosen to save the world from our sins. Bring us to our knees before You, trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and in His bodily resurrection, through Your awesome and mighty power. Find us to be loving servants, and empower us through Your Holy Spirit so that we may overcome in these difficult days…
Keep us faithful, Lord. Bring us before You restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established in Him on that glorious day.
I ask all these things in Your Son’s precious Name, Jesus the Christ,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for
and the conviction of things not seen.
We are hoping for and convinced of things we can’t see…that is faith.
Jesus said to Thomas when he doubted, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”
Our faith is in the promise of new life, eternal life, Jesus life.
Our faith is placed in His work, His words, His sacrifice.
We do not put our faith in one another.
That is not where we are to place our trust.
Our faith is in Christ, alone.
We will hurt one another, again and again and again…and again. I like the way Max Lucado puts it:
If hurts were hairs, we’d all look like grizzlies. Even the smooth-skinned beauties of the magazine covers, the composed pastors in the pulpit, the sweet little old lady who lives next door. All of them. All of us. Furry, hairy beasts we’d become. If hurts were hairs, we’d be lost behind the thick of them.
That’s not an excuse to hurt people, but it is the reality of living in this sinful world among sinful people.
If we look to one another as the determining factor in Christ being real, we will miss the beauty of Him.
None of us. No, not one, is without sin.
We all struggle in the flesh.
That is our battle, until this mortal puts on immortality.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t changing.
We grow. We stumble. We get up. We learn.
We grow some more and we stumble again and we get up … and we learn … … …
It’s in the learning that we change from glory to glory, if we don’t give up.
Each test, each trial, each tribulation is a chance for growth.
We’re either getting softer, or harder.
He chose to give us hearts of flesh instead of stone.
It’s in the cooperating with Him that we grow.
We’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. ~2Corinthians 4:16 (MSG)
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus, you know what’s inside of my heart,
When I am coming apart at the seams.
But that’s when my true colors come shining through,
I know that You are the One for me.
A song by Dan Marks, “All That I Need”
Oh, how I wish I had always known this in my innermost being!
I do get glimpses of it, knowing He has been, and will always be, the One who never leaves.
He is the One who will always love.
He accepts me. All of me.
Even the ugliest parts…He has them covered.
He forgives fully and without exception.
I am free with Him.
In Him, I can be me.
(He created me…He likes me!)
My struggle, and possibly yours, is my flesh wanting more.
Why do I keep running to the world?
Why, when deep inside of me I KNOW, He is all I need, do I still look for more…?
When the dark clouds come and bring down the rain,
I know that You will sustain me, Lord.
I surely haven’t always lived that truth.
I have had moments, even years, of living it:
I did get through the miscarriage with His sustaining power.
I did feel His strong hand supporting me through the trials of raising three children.
I was empowered through His strength when illness and homeschooling converged.
I guess that’s why I’m so befuddled with the whys of my most recent years…
…the last five, to be exact.
Why, when I knew Him in victory, did I not hold on to Him in tragedy?
Loneliness, revictimization, fatigue … these are all explanations of what happened within my self … Years of fighting with demons, stuffing the pain, and questioning my illness led to a yearning for relief, a way out of the despair.
That’s when I let go and I let my flesh reign.
I still grieve about it. And, I imagine I always will. He forgets all our sins, but He didn’t give us that ability. When we forget, much of the time it’s an act of denial because we do not want to see the truth of our actions.
Honestly, I don’t want to forget.
I’m okay with the grief.
I’m even okay with the recognition that I did not make a mistake.
I sinned against my husband, my children, and my family.
I sinned against a holy God who gave me the best gifts in life.
I spit in the face of His blessings.
The knowledge of that choice brings me to my knees again and again and again…
Not in self-loathing, or thinking I must continue to ask for forgiveness;
I know He has forgiven me.
I fall on my knees in overwhelming thanksgiving to a great God who loves unconditionally!
So, you see,
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to deny what I am capable of doing.
I want to remember the lesson for the remainder of my time on this earth.
And when I get to heaven, then He will wipe away all my tears…
Oh God, help me to remember what I’ve learned.
Your love is all that I need,
All that I need, all that I need.
Your love is all that I need…
All that I need is You.
We must learn to live in the tension between the real and the ideal.
It is in the tension that the beauty of salvation is seen.
~a paraphrase from Andy Stanley
When he said that yesterday, I felt more grace flood my soul than I have felt in a very long while. For someone to recognize the tension between the real and ideal, and then allow for a “less than perfect” reality … Well, I haven’t heard that kind of grace spoken much recently.
Another gracious word from a discussion over the weekend:
Satan calls you by your sin.
God calls you by your name.
And that’s when I remembered, this is warfare.
The names I’ve been called reveal the disappointment others feel toward me.
And the names I’ve called myself reveal my own disgust.
It feels like a flesh and blood battle when flesh and blood people are speaking the words. But, I must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood. Satan can speak through people, without them even realizing they are being used. Remember Peter? One moment he’s declaring Jesus is the Christ and the next, Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan!”
It wasn’t that Peter turned into Jesus’ enemy, it’s that he didn’t understand the Father’s plan for Jesus’ life. And in his misunderstanding he spoke.
We do this all the time when we assume we know what God is doing in someone’s life. We imagine we can see where they need to be headed, and yet, only God knows the plans He has for each of us. He is the One working out our salvation for His good will. He is the One empowering us to do the “good works” He has planned for us to accomplish from the foundation of the earth. He is the One who sees all the intricate details of each of our lives and is directing our paths as He sees fit.
Remember, Beloved, when others speak untruths concerning you, when you are “labelled” as they see fit, know that is not My name for you. I call you Beloved. I call you Redeemed. I call you My Child. Stand firm in the armor I’ve given you.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil,
so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News,
so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.