Tag Archives: self-help

intentionality and intensity

Meditation Journey Day 18

Hi Friend,

My goal in writing you these reflections is to hopefully give to you insight into the Biblical pattern of growing your spiritual life. This passage is just one of many I could walk you through from the Old and New Testaments that reveal that journey. Psalm 1, Psalm 119, John 15, Isaiah 55, Titus 3, and Matthew 13 are only some of the chapters with repeated instruction to meditate in God’s Word and abide in Him. The purpose in each of these passages is to grow the inner person into the Image of His Dear Son and know the Living God. (Romans 8:29)
This passage in Proverbs 2:1-5 is like all the other passages in that they all stress the intentionality and intensity of the process. Read below and listen for both of these perspectives in our passage.

My son, if you receive my words and hide/memorize/treasure up my commandments with you, turning/applying/tuning your inner ear to be attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry/call out for Wisdom/insight/knowledge and raise your voice for (the grace to do His will and get) understanding, if you seek it/her like silver/gold/rubies or precious jewels and search for it/her as for treasures hidden by unbelief, then (and only then) you will understand the fear/awe of the LORD and find the wisdom/knowledge of God.

Please understand I am not saying or implying that this process of seeking God is necessary to be “Born Again” as Jesus describes in John 3. That is a Sovereign act of the grace of God and relies solely on the Work accomplished by Jesus Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection.

What I am convinced of, certain of, and confident of is that if we are to make spiritual progress to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29) then we are required to participate in this process. I also know that the more we yield to God’s Spirit to do these things the more we will be transformed.

StarsI said all of the above to repeat verse 4: if you seek it/her like silver/gold/rubies or precious jewels and search for it/her as for treasures hidden by unbelief. That is some of the intentionality and intensity of the process. If you choose not to seek God like this His Love will not diminish for you, but if you want to see the brilliance of the stars at night you have to go outside.

Observation: The process of understanding the Fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God is intentional and intense.

Interpretation: The process to grow in God is clear and easy to see, yet the process is not easy. It requires us to be intentional and intense in seeking God. Just as searching for a lost and hidden treasure will take time, energy and often be inconvenient. The scripture makes no apologies for the cost required to mature in Christ.

Application Prayer: Father God, as I understand your expectation of obedience I am overwhelmed with my own inadequacy and weakness. Help me to keep my spiritual eyes on Jesus and off myself. I humble myself to allow the Joy of the Lord to be my strength and to release your Peace and Word to dwell in me richly with all thanksgiving.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

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if and only if

Meditation Journey Day 17

Hi Friend,

If and only ifWe began our discussion of Proverbs 2:1-5 by focusing on the three “ifs” of the passage, now we approach the “then”. In my paraphrase of verse five I have added the words and only then” emphasizing that all of the three conditions need to be fulfilled to get maximum results. I know God can begin to reveal His grace to us at any point along the way. He is Sovereign and relates to each of us uniquely. Yet, He gives us all these conditions because we need them if we are to glorify the Father, bear much and demonstrate we are His disciples. John 15:8

Let’s review the whole passage again…..

My son, if you receive my words and hide/memorize/treasure up my commandments with you, turning/applying/tuning your inner ear to be attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry/call out for Wisdom/insight/knowledge and raise your voice for (the grace to do His will and get) understanding, if you seek it/her like silver/gold/rubies or precious jewels and search for it/her as for treasures hidden by unbelief, then (and only then) you will understand the fear/awe of the LORD and find the wisdom/knowledge of God.

My Child, if you receive … store/hide … incline/turn… apply … call out … cry aloud … seek/look for … search then (and only then) you will understand the fear/awe of the LORD and find the wisdom/knowledge of God.

2planting seedsMy vegetable garden teaches me much about my spiritual garden. I may have the best of seed and poor soil and get a very poor yield of vegetables. I may have good seed, good soil and if I do not water sufficiently it will also yield poorly. I may have great seed, good soil, enough water but too little sunlight and you guessed it… I should expect a poor yield of edible fruit. Or I could plant good seed in good soil in a sunny area and water properly and then enjoy abundance of fruit!

There are conditions to produce abundant growth in the natural world and in the spiritual world there are conditions too. Proverbs 2:1-5 tells us the process that releases our hearts to love Father God and follow His commands. It is love of Him that motivates us to want to honor Him.

Keep in mind, I could memorize many verses yet not with brokenness humility toward God and gain only knowledge. Or I could fulfill all my religious duties and never open my heart to the emotional empathy needed to touch another life.

The Apostle Paul said it this way:  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13)

The question is what kind of fruitfulness we want in our lives.

Paul wrote in Galatians six,Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

VineiStock_000014052286XSmall2Our spiritual growth depends on how we garden our soul. We must nurture our soul as God instructs, not as we fancy. Spiritual fruitfulness comes then and only then as we abide in Christ. Jesus said it clearly in John 15, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… (but) If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Observation: Father God gave us instructions for spiritual growth. Proverbs 2:1-5 contains three conditions which when humbly done will result in a transforming relationship with God.

Interpretation: The conditions of spiritual growth are like the conditions for natural growth in that when they are humbly followed abundant fruit will come.

Application Prayer: Father grant us patience to plant in us Your word as you instructed, to tend our souls as Your Spirit has guided, and to abide in the Vine as Jesus has insisted. We want to glorify You, bearing much fruit to demonstrate that we are following Jesus!  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

The Treasure’s Cost

Meditation Journey Day 16

Hi Friend,

Our passage says we are to seek and search for wisdom as for hidden treasures. The treasure of Wisdom is hidden from those that do not seek the Lord Jesus Christ, because of their unbelief. Some cringe at statements like this because the cry comes, “Is there not other ways to get wisdom?” Do you remember the definition of Biblical wisdom? Wisdom is the insight and knowledge of the true nature of life and things. It is the theory and ability to view life from God’s perspective. If you want God’s wisdom, then you must go to the source.

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him.” (John 14:16)  He is the Door to the sheep-fold and if we are to enter the fold it will be through Him. True wisdom of life is never separate from Jesus, therefore seeking and searching will begin with His Word and the seeking of His Face. That is what having faith in Jesus means. As Hebrews 11 states: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Seeking and searching starts with the Word of God and includes the humble receiving and the regular storing of the Word in our hearts. Our continual repentance with tears of grief over our sin and joy because of His grace is also a part of seeking His face. If we are to gain the understanding of what we believe it must also embrace the going and doing of His will.

Have you noticed that the more we stay on this meditative path the longer this passage of Proverbs 2:1-5 becomes!

My son, if you receive my words and hide/memorize/treasure up my commandments with you, turning/applying/tuning your inner ear to be attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry/call out for Wisdom/insight/knowledge and raise your voice for (the grace to do His will and get) understanding, if you seek it/her like silver/gold/rubies or precious jewels and search for it/her as for treasures hidden by unbelief, then (and only then) you will understand the fear/awe of the LORD and find the wisdom/knowledge of God.

My Child, if you seek wisdom like silver and search for wisdom as for treasures hidden by unbelief,

Jesus told us how to seek the kingdom and its treasure of wisdom. In Matthew 13, He made it very clear that receiving His treasures will cost us everything. Pearl“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found , went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Your cost to buy the pearl of great price may include the giving of time to serve others or the giving of money to God’s Kingdom. It may even include the giving up of grudges and forgiving the undeserving. It will cost you your arrogance, pride and unbelief. It will cost you your independent spirit and personal philosophies about God. There is no one sequence in seeking and searching for God’s Wisdom, just one source: Jesus Christ! It will cost you everything, but you will be wealthier then if you owned the whole world.

Observation: Jesus Christ and the Word are the sources of seeking and searching to find God’s wisdom. He is the only way to the Father’s House. It will cost us our most precious possessions.

Interpretation: The treasure we seek is hidden by unbelief. Our seeking starts with believing God exists, and He is the rewarder of all who seek Him. Jesus is God, and we will never find God’s wisdom outside of knowing Him. The reward is eternal and richer than anything this world offers.

Application Prayer: Father, please open our spiritual eyes to see your King and Kingdom. We hunger for more zeal to seek Your Kingdom and righteousness.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Search as for hidden treasure!

Meditation Journey Day 15

Hi Friend,

Little words can have major consequences!

“…and if”, remember we noticed the three ifs in Proverbs 2:1-5? Now I want us to ponder that twice we have the joining word “and”. As you reflect on any passage always look at every word. None of them are extra or meaningless. The conjunction “and” in our passage binds together each of the “if” statements. It is not enough to only memorize or pray or do acts of serving individually to engraft the Word into our lives. To be transformed into His image God wants all of these working together. Together they bring our entire self into fellowship with Him. All three processes described in these verses give you insight into a meditative journey to know Christ.

Today we begin to chew on verse three “and if you look for it as for silver andGold panning search for it as for hidden treasure.” Verse one challenged our minds to receive and memorize. Verse two challenged our emotions to become deeply broken. Verse three requires us to move. Knowing God and following Jesus takes us outside of our comfort zone. We are to seek and search as we hunger to know Jesus.

I made some changes in the passage. I am sure you will notice them?

My son, if you receive my words and hide/memorize/treasure up my commandments with you, turning/applying/tuning your inner ear to be attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry/call out for Wisdom/insight/knowledge and raise your voice for (the grace to do His will and get) understanding, if you seek it/her like silver/gold/rubies or precious jewels and search for it/her as for hidden treasures, then (and only then) you will understand the fear/awe of the LORD and find the wisdom/knowledge of God.

My Child, if you seek it/her like silver and search for it/her as for hidden treasures,

I just put you on a mini search as you noticed the changes I added in the passage. Searching out a passage can start as simple as reading several different versions of the Bible or reading what scholars have written about a passage. Yet always remember, seeking wisdom is more than a mental trip.

Notice I added the word “her” next to the word “it”. Wisdom is described in some versions of scripture as a woman. Finding her is a treasure that is more valuable than silver. Proverbs 3:13-18 says this, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.”

Father God is telling us the eternal value of seeking Him and His wisdom is better than anything here on earth! We spend so much time and energy on temporal activities all the while the most important pursuit in life, seeking God and His Wisdom, is left undone.

Have you ever taken the time and energy to do what this passage instructs us to do? Clearly we are to memorize, receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search His word to open our earthly hearts to His Presence.  Let me ask you to prayerfully consider this process an opportunity to take the hand of wisdom as she endeavors to show you the King and His Kingdom.

Observation: The conjunction “and” joins all three of the ways listed to seek after God. The goal is to know Him. Wisdom, His wisdom, will guide us to Him.

Interpretation: God’s Wisdom is worth seeking. It is more precious than gold, silver and precious jewels. The process is being clearly laid out by Father God. The question is will we do the work to journey to know Him deeply?

Application Prayer: Father God thank you for sending Jesus for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help us to see He is drawing us to a closer walk with Him through His word. May we humble ourselves to find the grace to follow Him. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I trust you remember that our daily meditative journey is a process of how to grow deeper in Christ. Later on you will be meditating on passages chosen by God and using these principles to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

 

 

 

 

It is harder than we think!

Meditation Journey Day 14

Hi Friend,

I trust you have noticed each of the verbs of Proverbs 2:1-5 intensify as we move through the passage. “Receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search” are all verbs that build a tribute to wisdom and understanding’s importance. Remember “Wisdom is the insight and knowledge of the true nature of life and things. It is the theory and ability to view life from God’s perspective. Understanding is the doing of that wisdom.”

Do you wonder why God instructs us so intensely to seek Wisdom and Understanding? The answer is important for us to press on, but first please read the passage.

My son, if you receive my words and store up my commands within you, inclining your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you will receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search for wisdom and understanding,

The short answer for the intense verbs is: It is harder than we think to gain wisdom and understanding.

In Isaiah 55 God tells us something about ourselves that we must daily embrace to walk in continual humility, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This is important information because it reminds us we cannot live the Christian life without Him. (John 15:5) We cannot not be fruitful and glorify our Father without His Spirit freely flowing through us. Our hearts are naturally hard toward God and more obtuse to Him than we canBreaking up soil imagine. The Holy Spirit uses these verb “tools” to soften our hearts and break up the hard soil so His Word can grow fruit in us. This empowers us to walk in the Spirit and follow Jesus.

Many Christians begin following Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power, but they stop focusing on Jesus through His word. (Galatians 3:3) They stop gaining wisdom and understanding from the Spirit and the Word and begin to follow the religious rules of the people or organization around them.

These verbs: receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search for are tools that the Spirit with the Word uses to open our hearts to fellowship in the Presence of God. Remember the goal and purpose of our journey is not just to gain spiritual knowledge or principles or even have an experience with God. The goal of following Jesus is to be with Him, to know Him, to become like Him and share the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Apostle John captures this sweetly in the opening to his first letter: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life– the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us– that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And we are writing these things so that your joy may be complete.”

Friend, I am writing this to you because I so desire you to share the joy of The Lord. My joy in Jesus grows daily as I walk His ways and think His thoughts meditating on the beauty of the Lord. His Presence is too sweet to hoard!

Observation: We will gain Wisdom and Understanding by using the verbs tools: receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search to open our earthly hearts to His Spirit and Word. (Please note there are many other verb “tools” that the Spirit will also use! These are just the ones in Proverbs 2:1-5)

Interpretation: The goal of this process and using these tools is to share the Eternal Life of God; to grow in our likeness to The Son and to glorify the Father. The joy that results from this fellowship with God will empower us to impact others with the love of Jesus too!

Application Prayer: Father, thank you for Your Word and the verb “tools” the Holy Spirit uses in our hearts to open the Word to us. Help us, Lord God, to diligently walk in Your ways, to receive Your thoughts and enter more fully into Your fellowship. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I trust you remember that our daily meditative journey is a process of how to grow deeper in Christ. Later on you will be meditating on passages chosen by God and using these principles to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Seeds of Wisdom

Meditation Journey Day 11

Hi Friend,

SeedlingToday’s meditation has been challenging to communicate. I pray that we all have ears to hear what God is asking of us. If we are to incline our ears (minds, hearts and souls) to wisdom and apply our hearts to understanding, then we need to know what wisdom and understanding is from God’s perspective. Here is my conclusion:

Wisdom is the insight and knowledge of the true nature of life and things. It is the theory and ability to view life from God’s perspective. Understanding is the doing of that wisdom. Living out wisdom reveals true understanding or the skill of godly living. Understanding is the practical application of the wisdom or insight of God. Wisdom and understanding are organically connected. Wisdom grows into understanding, and the fruit of understanding gains us wisdom.  We can believe or think we have godly wisdom, but if we do not live godly lives, we are deceived.

Now the question is to gain more wisdom?

First the passage…

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you …turn (incline) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

Yesterday we pondered the call to turn or incline the inner ears of our hearts to God by drawing close to Him. He wants us so close that we can feel His breath on our cheeks. Foundational to this metaphor is the humble little word of “humility”. God looks for that sweet attitude in our hearts so that He can give us wisdom and understanding. Verse six of Proverbs 2 reminds us “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;” James writes in his letter, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.When we ask in humility for wisdom, God’s attitude toward us is always without criticism or blaming. He is never angry with us for having acted stupid or sinful. He will always give wisdom to us if we ask in faith by receiving His Word.

Now while the receiving of wisdom may be a word or message of pure truth which simply comes by God speaking to us; walking in understanding is intentional and much more difficult. His purpose in giving us wisdom, insight and knowledge of true reality is so that we will apply our hearts to understanding. Meaning we will do it. We will live out the truth so that we will know the truth. We will live out the word of wisdom so we can understand it, and we reveal our understanding by living it. Jesus appealed to this process when He instructed them, “If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8

The seeds of Wisdom are carried to us by His word, which is why receiving His Word well is critical. Living WordThe memorizing or hiding it in our hearts allows the wisdom to grow to the point of action that bears the fruit of transformation. It is through our transformed behavior that others will see the reality of The Living God in us.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to lean into Jesus Christ through His Word so we can become like Him and reveal the beauty of God. I pray that you will continue walking with me on this journey as the elevation gets higher and the terrain becomes more difficult.

Observation: In each verse of this passage God is asking more of us. Action is required for us to move closer to God by inclining our hearts to wisdom and applying them to understanding.

Interpretation: This passage calls us to a deeper connection with God and His Word. Wisdom and understanding are two sides of the same coin. One impacts the other and both increase as we humble ourselves to God to do His will.

Application Prayer: Lord, help us to allow the Word to work in us so we move closer to You in obedience to Your word. May our hearts joyfully sense Your Presence as we journey closer, higher, and deeper into Your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Applying the Heart

Hi Friend,

How do we apply our heart to understanding? Remember we are call to “…apply your heart to understanding.” Knowing what “understanding” means helps us gain a handle on this process. In yesterday’s devotion we learned that “Understanding is the practical application of the wisdom or insight of God.” Now we need to define “heart”. In the Bible the word “heart” is the core of our being. It includes our mind, emotions, feelings, and will. It envelops our soul and spirit. It is the central command center through which the issues of life flow. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

Heart 1What our heart focuses on determines our direction and destiny! The passage tells us we need to take that focus/core of our lives and apply it to understanding. Ok, so how do we do that?

First the passage…

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you …turn (incline) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

The key to applying our hearts to understanding is the word “applying”. spreadThe word “applying” means to spread or stretch out something over a surface. Now reflect on the word order of the verse: “applying your heart to understanding” not applying understanding to your heart!

That means we are called to stretch out our hearts (our thinking, feelings, and choices) to embrace and live out God’s wisdom.  We are the one to be changed, not God’s word or wisdom. As we walk in God’s word and wisdom we begin to gain understanding. To live and do God’s word will stretch us. Stretching or being spread out can be painful. Following Christ is often resisted because it requires us to alter our thinking. Repentance (the changing of our minds to God’s direction) is a common experience for someone who is applying their heart to understanding.

So how is your direction today? Are stretching out your heart to embrace and live out God’s wisdom.  Are you applying your heart to understanding?

Observation: Key words: “Understanding is the practical application of the wisdom or insight of God.” “Heart” is the core of our being. “Applying” means to spread or stretch out something over a surface. “Repentance” is the changing of our minds to follow God’s direction.

Interpretation: Repentance will be a continual component of following on this Journey into the Word. Our ways are not His ways. Remember we are being made into the Image of His Dear Son (Romans 8:29). That will require the enlarging and stretching of our hearts to become more like Jesus.

Application Prayer: Lord, help us to allow the Spirit and Word to work in us so we will have grace to be stretched and molded to become more Christ-like. Thank you for choosing us and taking time with us to be fit for heaven.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I trust you remember that our daily meditative journey is a process of how to grow deeper in Christ. Later on you will be meditating on passages chosen by God and using these principles to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Got Faith?

Got Faith?

FaithFaith is an elusive attribute in our lives. We wish we had more faith, yet it seems obscure as to how we receive and increase our faith. Jesus said if you have faith the size of a small seed you can move mountains!  Therefore, understanding how to grow our faith becomes a very worthy task.

First, we must distinguish between natural faith and spiritual faith. Natural faith is the confidence we have when we sit down in a chair. We expect and know the chair will hold us because we have sat down many times before or watched others sit and believe that a chair will hold our weight. Natural faith is a learned trust that comes from believing others or experiencing a consistent behavior of a circumstance (like the sun rising each day). I trust all of us have “faith” to believe the sun will rise in the eastern sky every morning!

Spiritual faith is different. It is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this very clear.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

As opposed to natural faith, spiritual faith is a gift from God. You cannot give it to someone, nor can you muster it up in your own heart. You can, like the father whose son was dying, look into the face of Jesus and cry “Lord, please help my unbelief!”Sun rise

If we have unbelief towards God and His promises, then we need to appeal to Him for direct spiritual intervention. We need to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

After we appeal to God, then we must trust His promises. The Bible says that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Faith comes as we receive, accept and apply the word or message of Christ. It also says in 2 Corinthians 2 that, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”  “Amen,” or agreeing it is true, is the first step in receiving, accepting and applying God’s word to our lives.

Spiritual faith is a force of good in our lives. It is the bridge through which God’s Spirit is released into and through our lives. Therefore it always produces something! First it releases grace for us to believe the Gospel and to enter into eternal life, but it also stimulates us to do good works. James says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” This means, if we are not producing acts of grace toward others, then our faith is without the life giving power of God.

So here is the bottom-line on our faith issues. If we want supernatural faith to believe the unseen, then we go directly to God in humble trust and ask for help. After asking, with indifference to your feelings, act on your faith by reading God’s word, and seek His face to allow the Holy Spirit to grow faith in your heart toward His promises. Then as we obey the truth revealed to us, faith will increase. As you continue to say “Amen” to God and His word, you will be amazed by God’s wondrous grace given to you through Jesus Christ!

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Meditation Journey Day 10

Ears to hear 1As I promised, today we will begin to unpack verse 2 ‘… turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,…” Our focus will be on our ears. The ear as referred to in this verse is not just the outer extension of flesh that sits on both sides of our heads. Our ears, designed and created by God, have the physical and mental capacity to received sounds and process information carried by the words we receive. Jesus often told His listeners, In Proverbs 2 God is telling us we need hearing ears to get the message from Him. His word is transforming but only as we receive it, store it and do it.

I love what Gods says about His word. It is God’s word from His mouth that makes the difference in our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11”

To hear His word, we have to be intentional listeners that want to be close to Him. Are you ready to reflect on turning/inclining your ears to Him?

First the passage… (I hope you read this!)

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you …turn (incline) your ear to wisdom…

On first look this appears to be just an exercise of tilting the head towards the scripture. But God wants way more than a head nod from us. A deeper observation tells us there is much more being said. God is asking us to lean into Him and listen with our minds and hearts in order to hear His words, His tone and Wisdom. He is calling us closer to Him. Remember all scripture is God-breathe. God breathing into Adam the breath of lifeTo receive what He wants to give us requires us to be so close we can feel His breath. A beautiful picture is the image of God breathing into Adam the breath of life. (Genesis 2)  Another is the image of a Mother so close to her baby that the child’s cheek is warmed by her breath. When God says incline your ear unto My Wisdom He is calling you close to Him. Give me all your attention. Love me with all your heart, mind, soul and body.

Obviously the command to turn/incline our ear to wisdom means that our hearts are not fully bowed to Him. It reveals our need to continually recognize His absolute complete sovereignty and wisdom. We always have a choice to follow Jesus or not, but do not think following is a casual activity. It is an intentional hearing, listening and doing of God’s will.

Observation: Inclining our ears to wisdom and apply our hearts to understanding is a continuation of receiving and storing His Word within us.

Interpretation: The Father is now expanding on what receiving and hiding His word will look like in our lives. If we want the fullness of His Spirit and the grace for transformation we will turn our full attention to His Voice and His Word.

Application Prayer: Father God, give us ears to hear. Forgive us for our lack of attentiveness to your Word and Spirit. Help us to enter the Joy of Your Presence as we yield to your Sovereign Wisdom. Thank you for calling us closer to You through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Teach us what it means to listen to Your Word and to hear Your Voice.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Got Anxiety?

flat-tire-700x466Ever felt trapped? There is so much to make a grown person cry these days. Worries come from a variety of sources: personal problems, family issues, health concerns, and money problems. Add to this the constant stream of negative national and world news and the anxiety can eat away at your confidence and steal your joy.  Yet our worry changes nothing but our present attitude; it destroys our peace and produces fear.

Does the Bible have a solution?

Very much so! Anxiety and worry are addressed in many passages of scripture.

In Psalm 121 of the Old Testament, the Psalmist cries out, “I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

This reminds us that the mountains (meaning our troubles and obstacles) may be huge and seem insurmountable, but OUR HELPER is the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus teaches us how not to worry. “Therefore I tell you, do not Anxiety 1worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Your Heavenly Father Knows

Jesus tells us to change our focus from us to our Father in Heaven, from our problems to His solutions. It is this change of focus that reveals our trust in Him. God is in control of everything, every circumstance and every person. He is the Sovereign LORD of all creation. Focus on this and worry will leave.

When worry comes knocking at our mind’s door, it steals away our peace.  We must turn to Jesus and trust His promise that He is in control. Isaiah 26:3 gives us the secret in applying this positive truth to all our negative worry: “You (Lord God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.” When we focus on what God has said, light shines and darkness flees.

Finally, Christian friend, remember Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. These words are assuring because they cover all the circumstances we face. We need to rest in the confidence that God, in His wisdom and Sovereign Grace is working all our circumstances together for His glory and our good.

Do you love God? Have you trusted Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to open the door to God’s grace for you? If so, look toward God not your problems. He is and always has been working out your circumstances. Humble your heart to trust His care and power, and anxiety will be replaced by peace.