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.™

Following the Directions

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Raise your hand if you have ever used some electronic GPS type of device to get to your destination.

Today my mom and I were going for a ride, and I needed one such device. The point of these devices of course is to get from Point A to Point B without getting lost. As we drove we were remembering a time or two that we thought we knew better than the voice giving us directions. Well, you probably know how this story finishes. We got lost. The voice in the box kept recalculating how we were to go based on our wrong turns. He tried to get us on the right path, but we kept ignoring still thinking we knew better. Finally, we had no choice but to listen to that voice and follow the directions. We finally reached our destination. While we enjoyed the sights and the adventure, we wasted much time and gas.

How like our daily walk is this? We so often think we know what is best for our lives. It’s like we say, “God, I know what is best for me. I’ll seek you if I get lost, but I’ve got this.” We walk our own path, do our own thing, seek our best interest, and Get Lost! Then, we ask God where He was, why wasn’t He helping us, and why didn’t He take care of us? The answer….we didn’t listen to His voice.

“God, I know what is best for me. I’ll seek you if I get lost, but I’ve got this.” We walk our own path, do our own thing, seek our best interest, and Get Lost! Then, we ask God where He was…

Proverbs 3:5-7 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (KJV) Peter, in the storm when Jesus was walking on the water, said if He was the Lord to tell him to come. Jesus did and Peter stepped out of the boat and started walking on the water also. However, Peter took his eyes of Jesus and what happened? He started to sink. (He got lost.) Peter cried out to Jesus, “Lord, help!” Jesus reached His loving, caring hand to Peter. Peter had to follow and reach for Jesus’ hand.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”(John 10:27, KJV)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”(John 10:27, KJV) We need to trust the Lord with our whole heart. We need to hold His hand, follow His voice.   God’s voice will never, ever lead us astray. Cling to His hand, dear friend. Follow His voice. Keep your eyes focused on God. You won’t be sorry and it won’t ever be a waste of time or anything else. It may not make sense to you at the time but following God will never disappoint. Trust Him.

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. *♥*

Shiny Things

So this week I started another attempt at dieting. Since I’ve yet to find a diet that tells you to eat more sugar, of course, sugar is out. Where I work there are several areas and desks that have candy sitting on them. They are free for whoever wants to partake.

The day I started said diet I was walking by one of those desks. There was a new kind of candy, different from the usual. It had shiny wrapping on it. My natural instinct was to go towards it. Just as I was about to reach for the shiny wrapped candy (first day of diet mind you), I realized that this was not a good move and walked on.

As I walked away I got thinking about how Satan tempts us with shiny things and tries to entice us. There are multiple verses in scripture that talk about being enticed. They all are warnings. Just a couple are, Proverbs 1:10 (NASB), “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” and James 1:4 (NASB) “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” Not that one little shiny piece of candy was sinful; however, eating when I knew I shouldn’t would have not been good. It would’ve been wrong to what I’d committed to doing.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” –Hebrews 12:1-2

We don’t need to let sin entice, encumber, and entangle us. What a picture! We get caught by those shiny pretty things, and then they start to weigh us down to the point of being entangled which will trip us up every time. Don’t give in to that first piece! Don’t walk towards that enticement.

Instead, remember we have Jesus to fix our eyes upon. We need to focus on Him and all He has done for us. Life is a race that we need to run with endurance. God gives us that endurance and courage. Just like I walked past that shiny piece of candy, even in a greater sense we need to walk past the sin that entices us–big or little. Take hold of God’s hand, and let Him run that race with you. Be encouraged friend, with Him you will be able to say no to those things. With Him you will win!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

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)

Teaching Like Jesus Taught

Do you ever sit in church, listening carefully to the sermon and realize, “WOW! I do that!”? A couple months back this very thing happened to me.

I have always loved using the common things in life to teach. For example, we have a bird feeder in our backyard. During the winter months I put bird food (the block style) in the bird feeder. Well, the squirrels found it. Their antics brought great entertainment.

As I stood watching this process one day, I was impressed with the fact that this is how God’s family should function. You see, the squirrels would climb the pole to the feeder. They ate and picked at the block. As they did seed fell to the ground. The birds would then pick up and eat the seed. Sure they flew to the bird feeder too, but they enjoyed eating what the squirrels had dropped to the ground as well. As spring came along, the rabbits even joined in the banquet.

This is so much like the family of God. We provided the food for the birds. The squirrels and birds took turns eating from the feeder, and then they helped feed those who were weaker and couldn’t make it to the feeder (the rabbits). In return, we have been entertained, and there has been a certain amount of pleasure knowing we were giving food and pleasure to the creatures by our house.

God has created us and provides for all of our need. In fact, He has promised to supply every need of those who love God and “have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Those who have been blessed with ample supply share it with others and encourage them. It builds relationships. In turn, we bring glory to God and (I’m sure) make Him happy. We all need to work together.

This is just one example of lessons found in everyday life. Anyhow, back to that day in church. I was listening as our pastor was talking about how Jesus taught using object lessons from common things. It struck me: “I love teaching like that!” What a fun realization!

Do you see spiritual lessons in common things? I challenge you to try. It’s fun and encouraging.

Share with us spiritual lessons from common things that you have discovered on your journey.

These Hands

These Hands —

These hands belong to an 82 year old woman. Upon looking at the picture she exclaimed, “Oh, my hands are old.”

I want to tell you about these hands though. These hands raised 4 children. They changed many, many diapers. They have prepared countless meals for her husband and children. They have faithfully cleaned, dusted, vacuumed, washed dishes, did laundry, planted flower and vegetable gardens, and weeded those same gardens for her family. They have brushed back the hair on a fevered brow. They have wiped away many tears, both her own and those she cares for. They have cared for her sick children. They have applauded as her children played in concerts. (Takes a lot of love to go to every band concert as children are first learning.) They have held the hands of her children and grandchildren to cross the streets.

These hands have cared for her parents when they could no longer care for themselves. They held her mother’s hand as she prepared to meet the Lord.

These hands cared for her husband as he struggled with Parkinson’s and heart disease. They held her husband’s hand in love even though they had been married 50 years.

These hands have faithfully served the Lord in so many ways, from ministering to children to helping cut, sew, and make things for missionaries. They have held a well-used Bible to study as well as to share God’s word with others in devotionals and lessons. They have housed many missionaries and served them in her home.

There is much more that can be said about these hands but one thing is for certain: when these hands are folded in death and the person who they belong to has gone home to meet the Lord, we will know that these hands spoke love.

How about my hands and yours? What will be said? Are our hands acting in love?

 

Have a blessed Mother’s Day  to all whether you are a mom, a soon-to-be mom, a new mom, or a lady who doesn’t have her own children but has helped raise so many.

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?