Taste and See…

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Taste and see that the Lord is good.   (Psalm 34:8)

 Imagine a beautifully decorated cake.  A group of women gather ValentineCakearound it oohing and aahing.  They admire it. They talk about it. How was it made? How beautiful it is! They look at the intricate decorations and discuss them. They wonder how it will taste and what ways they can use it in their lives.  Some of them want to store it away in the freezer to make it last.  Others look forward to devouring it right away with loved ones.  Some will want to host a dinner and have the cake for dessert while still others say it will be perfect for an afternoon snack with coffee. After some time the conclude, say their goodbyes and wait for next week when they will once again study the cake.  But they never TASTE the cake!

Lately, that’s how I’ve been feeling about my Bible Study groups.

Our Bible study books are great–  written by well-known Bible leaders, engaging and full of insight.  I get a lot from the studies.  I am inspired and my faith is grown.  But lately, although I still enjoy the study I find myself left with an uneasy feeling at the end of the sessions.

Here is my uneasiness.  During the hour or two that the group of women meet, we hardly crack open the Bible to look at the actual scriptures. I’m afraid that our Bible study group talks about the Word, admires the Word, and discusses how to apply the Word; but we hardly ever open and read the Word. Some don’t even bring a Bible to the session.

There have been times when I have been involved with a group that will read and discuss a book and call it a Bible Study.  Yes, the book does have Biblical concepts and a few Bible verses scattered throughout, but I feel a bit strange calling it a Bible Study.

This is not limited to one group, denomination, or ministry.  Over the years I have participated in studies in various churches and various ministries.  And I have am not against these studies– I think they have a place and are good.  I just find myself with this uneasy attitude with these Bible studies.

What about studies you have done?  Do you spend more time in the Bible or in a book about the Bible?  

My One Word for 2015

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One word 365 -2015 -250x250

 I first started choosing one word to guide me throughout the year in 2012.   For the first year my word was Surrendered and last year my one word was Hope.  I’ll update my year with Hope in a few days.

After pondering and ruminating for about a month, I have landed upon my word for 2015 – Health.  Or rather, I should say it chose me.  It is funny how this works.  Praying about what my word should be gets a short list going in my head.  Then it narrows down by memories coming to mind, seeing the word all over, and a deep feeling that this is the word resonating inside me.

Health –  I balked a bit at first because I am relatively healthy. But health lingered near me constantly.  I thought the word health was too broad.  Still, health whispered in my ear.

A quick dictionary study defines health as: well-being, flourishing, free from illness or disease, a condition of being sound in body, mind, an spirit.

Therefore as I make choices and plod along during 2015, I will hold the filter of Health in front of me.  I will make decisions through the lens of being spiritually healthy, mentally healthy, and physically healthy.

You can read more about how one word works at One Word 365   or at My One Word.

Building with Gold and Silver

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The apostle Paul warns the church in Corinth and God’s Word speaks to us: 

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 NLT 

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?  God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Jesus is the foundation of the church.  Never forget it- everything we do is built upon Christ. If we begin to build upon anything else but Christ, our work shall surely crumble.

Is your personal ministry based on Christ?  Does it speak of Christ?  In my small group, do we focus on our Savior? In my life, do I speak of Christ to my neighbors? Am I bold? Is my love of Christ greater than my love of comfort or love of self?  Am I jealous for holiness?  Are my attitudes and actions helpful to the church or harmful?

Am I building with gold and silver or am I building with sticks and hay?  Do I even know that I am building? On judgement day my work will be tested with fire. All will be revealed.

God says that I am his temple and he dwells in me.  I am holy.  Do I act and speak as if I am holy?

Oh Lord, have mercy on me for I often forget that you are with me always and that you consider me holy. Forgive me for the unholy things I have done with your temple and forgive me for not doing what I should have done.

 Oh Jesus, help me to stay focused on you.  Help me to build with gold and silver and help me to never forget that you are the foundation.  Help me to remember that it is not what I have done, but it is what you have done that matters.  You have given your life for me. Help me to always live for you and to share you with the people who I come in contact with.  Help me to live a life pointing to you.   Amen.

Community in Bible Study

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Community:

A place where people come together for a common goal.

A place where there is safety.

A place that provides nourishment, strength, and accountability.

We find community in many places-  in our locales, in our social gatherings, in our organizations.   We come together sharing like interests and goals.  We protect one another from enemies of the community. We grow and help others to grow in our communities.

Do you have community in your Bible Study?   Is it a place that your goal is to come closer to God, to know Him, to find direction and his will for life?  Are you allowed to be vulnerable in your study?  To share your feelings and thoughts without fear.   Are there others in your study that love and honor you, that correct you when you need it, that encourage you?

A Bible Study community is a place where you fall in love — with Jesus and with people.  Jesus awaits.  He wants to work with you and through you.  Members of the community should be loving, kind, gentle, patient, good, joyful, peaceful, faithful, and self-controlled with their ways and thoughts.  Members of the community should be willing to be open enough to trust that God has placed you in this specific community.

A Bible Study community is a treasure.  One that should be sought after and cherished.

Be devoted to one another in love.   Honor one another above yourselves.           (Romans 12:10)

Therefore I have Hope

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It was so nice to have singer-songwriter Jodee Lewis at our church last week sharing her beautiful voice to lead us in worship.  She was in our area for some performances.

The message of her song comes from Lamentations 3:19-24.

“Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:21-23a)

 

Lamentations 3:19-24

Visit her website here: Jodee Lewis

Thank you Lord for your compassionate love to us.  Thank you that I wake up every morning and find you have given me new mercies.  You are my portion Lord, and I will wait for you.   Amen   

 

Prisoners of Hope

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Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Zechariah 9:12

Prisoners of Hope.

We live expectantly for what lies ahead, but for now we are of the world and the prince of this world runs amuck.

Jesus tells his disciples that the prince of this world was coming, but that Jesus was not under his power or control  (John 14: 30)

Jesus goes on to tell the disciples ( and us) that “here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”  But we are to take heart because we can have peace in Christ (John 16:33)

The prince of this world has already been judged and is condemned (John 16:11).

So what to do?

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  (1 Chronicles 16:11)

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and and he helps me…(Psalm 28:7)

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his  people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)

So we watch, we wait, and we look up.    Expectantly.  Though we have troubles, God is our fortress – He is our safe place.  Jesus has shown us the way and we have his peace.

Live expectantly.  Take hold of Christ’s peace.  Rest in God’s strength.