In Weakness and Fear

Photo by Talen de St. Croix on Unsplash

I can’t do that! I don’t have what it takes! My knees are shaking, my hands are sweating, and the butterflies in my stomach feel the size of elephants. I can’t do it! 

That’s how I feel every time I step out and do something new for God, especially when I teach a group of women for the first time. When I stand up in front of those lovely women, suddenly my knees begin to shake, I feel totally inadequate, and I can no longer remember what I wanted to say.

Does that happen to you when you try to share Jesus with others (even with only one other)?

When I [Paul] came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (bold mine)

Paul’s first trip to Corinth was immediately after his trip to Athens (Acts 17:16-34). The Athenians loved to reason (aka debate) so Paul had reasoned with them about Jesus. Paul was good at what he did, and he probably knew it. His education had included a healthy dose of public reasoning. Despite his best efforts, only “a few men became followers of Paul and believed.” It is interesting first of all that only a few believed and second that they followed Paul.

A Few Believed

Despite Paul’s well-reasoned, educated, and probably confident teaching, he had little impact. Such a poor response to his message probably shook his confidence and would have surely depressed him. At the very least, it would have made him evaluate what he was doing and why he was doing it.

Followed Paul

As Paul opened his letter to the Corinthians he chastised them for the way they were following the teachers and causing division. He wanted them to follow Jesus, not men. He must have wondered if the people at Athens were following his reasoning or following Jesus. He wanted to make sure the Corinthians were following Jesus.

Shaken Confidence

Paul took an emotional and spiritual hit in Athens. His confidence was shaken. His walk to Corinth that first time gave him plenty of time to think about whose wisdom and power were needed and who he wanted the people to follow. By the time he arrived in Corinth, Paul had wrestled with the realization that he wasn’t as wise as he thought. He had received a lesson in humility and been reminded of who he wanted people to follow.

The Wisdom and Power of God

When Paul arrive in Corinth, his confidence was shaken, and he was leaning more heavily upon the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit; consequently, the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit is what the people in Corinth saw.

That is my prayer every time I teach (or write). I always feel weak, afraid, and ill-equipped. I tremble inside when I think of what I’m doing. But that forces me to rely on the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit. The result is that (hopefully) people see God, not me!

As you talk to others about Jesus, may you each be weak enough and afraid enough to lean on God’s wisdom and Spirit power! As a result, may others see “a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” and place their faith in God’s power.

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Prayer

Our prayers may be awkward.
Our attempts may be feeble.
But since the power of prayer
is in the one who hears it
and not in the one who says it,
our prayers do make a difference.

(Max Lucado)

 

What are your favorite Bible verses on prayer?

Did God Really Say That?

Satan is a master at twisting God’s word. He wants us to question what we know about God. He wants us to have doubts. So he asks, “Did God really say that?”

When the serpent approached Eve in the garden, he said, “Did God really say…” When Eve answered she did not quote God’s word correctly. (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:1-3) Satan questioned God’s word. Eve did not answer with God’s word; she answered with her interpretation. Eve added to God’s word and, consequently, sinned.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), he quoted God’s Word, but he intentionally misused it. Jesus knew God’s Word and responded by using it correctly. Jesus was able to stand firmly because he knew what God had said.

When you are faced with the question Did God really say that? it is important to know what God really did say and to use His Word correctly. Don’t add to it like Eve did or take it out of context or force it to fit your purposes like Satan does.

Pastors and other teachers or commentaries and other study aids can be wonderful resources, but we need to know God’s Word ourselves. We cannot stand firmly on God’s Word if we do not know what it really says. To know it for ourselves we need to open the Bible. Read it. Study it. Memorize it.

I’ve always taught my children to check their sources. I want to know where they got their facts and if their source was trustworthy. The only way to answer the question Did God really say that? is to find out exactly what God did say. That means going back to the original source–the Bible.

Our best defense when Satan says, “Did God really say that?” is to know God’s Word and to use it correctly. If you want to know what God said, go to the place where His Word is recorded–the Bible.

The only way to answer the question “Did God really say that?” is to find out exactly what God did say. That means going back to the original source–the Bible. *♥*

Morning Walk

I’ve been awake since 3:00 am. While that is not unusual for me, it is frustrating and has the potential to put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. This morning I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep and rolled out of bed at 4:50 am. I quietly slipped on some clothes and left the house.

There is nothing quite like a walk in the early morning hours before anyone else is out and about. It is so peaceful. As I watched the fog grow out of the creek behind out house and listened as the birds woke and greeted one another, I praised God for his blessings. My prayers were disjointed and sporadic as I walked this morning, the fog in my mind mirroring the fog rising above the trees. However, I just can’t help but talk with God as I walk.

I came home and pulled out my Bible, looking for verses about getting up early to pray, but the one that jumped out to me wasn’t exactly about rising early or prayer. Instead I found: “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:3) I may have praised God in the early morning, but His word reminds me to praise him from the moment I rise in the morning to the moment I fall asleep at night and wherever I am during that time.

Although I am still tired and frustrated from lack of sleep, I will resist the potential bad mood by praising the God who greeted me with a beautiful morning and try to remember to praise Him for the rest of the day, wherever I am.

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:3)

 

#morningwalk
#praisegod
#sleeplessnight

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Going on a Journey

When we took our trip to Colorado a few years ago, we prepared and gathered resources, planning how to get there, where to stay, and the things we wanted to do. Then, we boarded the bus to the airport and began to enjoy the trip. Finally, we shared our experience with others by putting our pictures and updates on social media and talking about it when we returned home.

What does a Bible study journey look like? Just like your favorite vacation, a Bible study journey begins with preparation and gathering resources. Then, you enjoy the trip. Finally, you share your experience with others.

#1 Preparation

For our vacation we made airline, rental car, and hotel reservations, arranged for someone to check on the house while we were away, accumulated tourist information and suggestions from friends, and discussed what we wanted to do.

When taking a Bible study journey, preparation begins with prayer. Ask God to help you understand His word and to help you apply it to your life. Seek advice from the Spirit of God himself. Bible study journey preparation begins with prayer.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  (James 1:5)

#2 Resources

Part of the preparation process is to choose your resources. The most important resource you need for a Bible Study Journey is The Bible. Start with a version you find easy to read (Here are some online versions.) When you are comfortable with your reading, add a couple more versions as an aid to increase your understanding.

Mark it up. Whether you color code your highlighted passages, stick with one color, or use a pen, mark the verses that jump out at you. Write notes in the margin. (There are Bibles with extra wide margins that are great for this.) Place dates next to passages that apply to a particular season of your life. Draw illustrations, charts, diagrams, or timelines—anything that helps you understand, remember, and apply what you read.

As you become more comfortable with your Bible, you may want to add other resources, such as a concordance, topical Bible, lexicon, or commentary. But remember that they are not God’s Word; the Bible is.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

#3 The Journey

Just as a physical journey can happen by plane, car, or on foot, your Bible study journey can happen through chronological readings, book or topic studies, with written Bible studies, or during casual readings. You must study and apply the plans to your life or you will go nowhere!

The how isn’t as important as doing it. This is your trip—full of plans, questions, spontaneous side trips, and delicious treats. Enjoy it!

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul…
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart…
(Psalm 19: 7-8)

#4 Share

Whenever we take trips we like to share our experience with others. We travel with others. We send postcards or share on social media. We just can’t help ourselves, we have to share our experiences. Share your journey with other women by doing a study together. Share with others what you are learning during your personal study time. Telling others about what you are learning can encourage or challenge them. It can also be a way to share Jesus with someone who doesn’t know him. Share the things you learn about God!

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…  (2 Timothy 1:7-8)

 

Where are you now? (What are you studying and how?)

If you’ve been on this journey for a while already, what is your favorite way to study?

Do you have any Bible study journey tips?

If you’re just beginning, what do you want to know or where do you want to start?

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Go and Show

Christians are instructed to go and show themselves to the world in such a way as to make disciples for Christ. Regardless of who God is asking us to go to, in order to accomplish the task, we must take that first step. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to go and show ourselves to the world—to cause people to sit up and take notice of the amazing change in our lives. To cause them to wonder about Jesus.

(ELIJAH: Lessons on God and Godly Living from One Flawed Human to Another by Trisha L. Knaul)

The Two Chapter Test

Whenever my children were assigned a book to read for school, I avoided arguments about whether or not they had to by implementing what I called The Two Chapter Test.

The Two Chapter Test was simple. Whenever I required a book be to read, they could not argue with me about it until they had read two chapters. Then (and only then) would I engage in a discussion about why they should or shouldn’t have to read that particular book. If their reasoning was sound (and I could justify using another resource) we would use something else.

The usual result of The Two Chapter Test was that they read the whole book without complaint. Once they had given it a chance, they were hooked.

You are probably expecting me to tell you to give the Bible The Two Chapter Test so I’ll pause here to suggest you do just that every day–give the Bible The Two Chapter (or Section or Verse) Test. See if it doesn’t leave you wanting more.

As valuable as The Two Chapter (or Section or Verse) Test may be to kick start your Bible study journey, the lesson I have recently learned is how this test applies to all areas of my life–ministry, work, fitness, homemaking, etc.

One of my children recently took a job that requires them to be away from home for the majority of the next five months. After their first day, I received a text at 1:38 am. They were convinced they had made a mistake and wanted to go home. Twenty minutes later, after telling them not to make any decision in the middle of the night and to call in the morning, I headed back to bed. When they called several hours later, Tim and I reminded them of The Two Chapter Test and encouraged them to wait until the end of the week before making any decisions–to give it the equivalent of The Two Chapter Test. Two days later they apologized for their frantic middle-of-the-night texting and said they were enjoying themselves and wanted to stay.

I realize now that I’ve approached most of life that way. Homeschooling is a prime example of how this has worked in my life. I never said I would homeschool four children all the way through (25-30 years is a long commitment). I didn’t want to read that particular “book.” I always said that we would homeschool “this year” and think about “next year”–my Two Chapter Test. Each year I would say the same thing until, before I knew it, I was finished. Once I jumped in and tried it, I just kept going until that part of my journey (the book) was done.

There have been many times when I didn’t want to do something, but once I started, I just kept going. Once I tried it, I even enjoyed the experience as a whole (not that their weren’t challenging parts to get through on occasion).

So on this life journey, I encourage you to take up the challenge currently before you and give it The Two Chapter Test. See what happens!

 

Have you ever given a life project the equivalent of The Two Chapter Test?
What happened?

Are you being led to a Two Chapter Test now?

Do you have a favorite verse that would help someone who needs to jump into a project?

The Mundane

How does God use you in the daily, normal activity of your life?

Teaching Sunday school for three-year-olds or third graders, leading Bible studies at church or home, taking a meal to someone who lost a loved one or who is homebound, caring for a sick child or talking with the kids in your carpool, and sharing Christ with a co-worker or neighbor are all important. Such activities may not be as sensational as being a nationally recognized author or speaker, but they are just as much a part of God’s plan. They show the face of God to those around us. They are important—eternally significant.

What do we learn about the work we do for God in the following passages? (Look up at least 2.)

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Galatians 6:9-10

Ephesians 5:8b-9

Colossians 3:23-24

God has blessed His children with a variety of gifts, service, and activities. Regardless of what our gifts are, we are empowered to use them by God Himself. When we are tired, frustrated, or burned out, we are to resist the urge to give up. We are to hold on because we know that a reward, an inheritance, awaits us. We are to do whatever is good, right, and true whenever we have an opportunity. We are to do it all whole-heartedly because we are serving the risen Christ.

The mundane becomes holy when it is done for God.

The mundane becomes holy when it is done for God. Even Jesus, the King of Kings, performed the lowly task of washing the disciples’ feet. If washing feet is the work we are expected to do then wash feet we must. Whatever God has for us to do, it is significant.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded that our work matters and that whatever we do we do it empowered by God. Regardless of how you might feel about the work before you, don’t waste time. God has given you a gift, a service to fulfill, and an activity to perform. He will empower you to do what He has called you to do. Resist the urge to give up. There is an inheritance waiting for you.

Whenever the opportunity to do things that are good, right, and true presents itself, seize it! Give yourself wholeheartedly to the task. Any task God asks you to do is significant!

Any task God asks you to do is significant!

 

(This post is adapted from Elijah: Lessons on God and Godly Living from One Flawed Human to Another by Trisha L. Knaul.)

How does God use you in the daily, normal activity of your life?

Do you struggle to believe that the things you do on a daily basis really matter?

Do you have any additional insights from the passages you read?

Easter 2018

Do not be afraid,
for I know that you are looking for Jesus,
who was crucified.

He is not here,
he has risen,
just as he said.
(Matthew 28:5-6)

Don’t be alarmed…
You are looking for Jesus,
the Nazarene, who was crucified.
He has risen!
(Mark 16:6)

Why do you look for the living
among the dead?
He is not here;
he has risen!
(Luke 24:6)

I have seen the Lord!
(John 20:18)

It is true!
The Lord has risen…
(Luke 24:34)

We have seen the Lord!
(John 20:25)

Why are you troubled,
and why do doubts rise in your minds?
Look at my hands and my feet.
It is I myself!
(Luke 24:39)

…blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have believed.
(John 20:29)

 

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ 

Darkness Falls

Last Supper.

Garden Prayer.

Betrayal.

Arrest.

Mocked.

Beaten.

Spit on.

Insulted.

Denial.

Trial.

False accusations.

Questions.

Ridicule.

Not guilty.

Crucify him!

Stripped.

Scarlet robe.

Crown of thorns.

Mocked.

Stripped.

Beaten.

Burden of the cross.

Place of the Skull.

Hands pierced with nails.

Feet pierced with nails.

Slowly dying.

Agony.

King of the Jews.

Cursed.

Defended.

Forgave.

Forsaken.

Broken-hearted.

Breathless.

Dead.

3 hours of darkness.

Earthquake.

Temple curtain torn.

Acknowledged.

Side pierced.

Blood poured out.

Legs broken.

Buried.

Night comes.

Darkness falls.