Saturday, March 31, 2012

Verse 13 of 52!

With Romans 5 finished (praise the Lord!!), I have begun working on the latter half of 2 Timothy 2. It is a familiar passage for me, so this week, God allowed me to memorize 2 Timothy 2:20-22.

"But in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Friendship (Part 1)

Friends. The very word sends our thoughts to a special group of people that we tenderly call “friends.” At the same time, some of us might feel a sting as we think of past friendships that are now dissolved. Friendship, in all of its blaze and glory, is not without its bruises and tears.

The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. From good examples (Jonathan and David) to bad examples (Samson and Delilah), to blessings, to warnings, we see friendship woven throughout the Old and New Testament.

People also have a lot to say about friendship. Our pastors and youth pastors preach about it, our parents and grandparents fuss about it, and our friends (obviously) encourage it! Is there really a need to look at it any longer?

Not Just Any Friend
In the world today, girls are thrown together with many different types of people. However, we do not need to befriend everyone with which we come into contact. We must choose our friendships carefully and wisely. One way to choose friends is through the guidance of our parents. Though many girls do not care to have their parents “interfere with my life,” God has given our parents to us for this very reason! Perhaps if Samson had listened to his parents’ counsel and desires, he would not have fallen into Delilah’s traps and ultimately imprisonment and an early death (read Judges 14-16).

Another way to choose friends is through the guidance of Scripture. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 27:12) Consider wisely the choice of friends you have.

What is a Friend to Be?
Friends laugh hysterically with each other at midnight; friends share their dreams and desires; friends wear matching outfits; friends sing duets; friends write notes and emails. Such glorious, happy-go-lucky types of friendship are what a girl often has, but is that all there is to being friends?

“And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) The last part of this verse struck me: and strengthened his hand in God. A valuable friend to have is one who shares our beliefs and will strengthen our relationship with God. A true friend will pray for us, share verses with us, share how God is growing them, and . . . a true friend will even come to us and give us some (maybe unwanted) Biblical advice.

What types of people should we have as friends?
Older friends to mentor us (Titus 2:3-5)
Women such as grandmas, aunts, moms, our pastor’s wife, and other godly ladies should be special friends. God has placed them in our lives to help us live holy before Him. Older women have lived through the struggles we live through, they have learned from difficult mistakes, and they are full of wisdom that should be a treasure chest to any young lady.

Friends that we can learn with (Proverbs 27:17)
Our peers are probably the friends we seek out the most. These can be the “iron-sharpening-iron” relationships (those who are growing in Christ, reading the Bible, and striving to live a Christ-like life) or detrimental relationships (those who are living for self, without a thought of God). We need to evaluate our friendships to be sure that they are building us up in the Lord and not causing us to fall away.

Friends that we can encourage in the Lord (Galatians 6:1-2)
There are special friends in our life that may not be at the same maturity as we are (emotionally and spiritually). These are the friends that we can encourage and build up. At the same time, we must be careful that these “ministry friendships” are not pulling us down. It requires a lot of prayer and discernment (as well as counsel from our parents and older friends) to have this type of ministry friendship. Our younger friend must be growing, seeking to learn, and maturing; if such is not the case, we must carefully weigh if it is a friendship that God would have us to continue.

The Ultimate Friendships
“But I don’t have any friends,” some might say.  Please, please, please do not count this as a curse!!! This “friendless” time could be used in many ways by God. First, it can cultivate a warmer relationship between you and God. Secondly, it can draw you closer to your siblings (who are, in reality, your life-time friends). Thirdly, it could be a way of God protecting you from a harmful friendship. Remember that no friend at all is much more desirable than mixing with bad company.

Next week, Lord willing, we will continue to look at friendship with:
To Be A Friend
Broken Friendships

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Verses 11/12 of 52!!

Once again, the busyness of life has swamped me and while I tried to memorize Romans 5:20 last week, it never happened. So this week, I "caught up" and memorized Romans 5:20 and am working on Romans 5:21 - the last verse in Romans 5!!! I am so excited that God has allowed me to memorize another chapter in His precious Word!!!

"Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
Romans 5:20

"That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 5:21

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Giveaway - 1,000 Gifts

I have never read Ann Voskamp's 1,000 Gifts, but I have heard it is an excellent book. Here's a link to a giveaway for it:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Obedience in All Things

Obedience in All Things

Obedience: the state or fact of being obedient; doing what is ordered; submission (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

Who are we to obey?
Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1, KJV)
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

We cannot say that this direct order is not intended for us. If we have a parent, then we are one of the “children” that these verses are talking about.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17, KJV)

Here, we are simply commanded to obey them that have rule over us. Not only are we to obey them, but we are to submit (or surrender) to them. According to this verse, our parents are held responsible for the way we act until we reach the age of accountability. They will have to stand before God and giving an account of how they have trained us, and how we responded! Will they be able to do so with joy, or with grief?
How are we to obey?
Many of us look at ourselves and feel good about being obedient. But are we really obedient?

Let’s look at Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 again. The word “Obey” in both of these texts is the same Greek word: hupakouo. It means, “To hear under, to listen attentively, to heed or conform to a command or authority.”

What are some ways that we can have proper obedience?
       1. Obedience is an act of the heart, not the body. If our parents ask us to clear the table, we may outwardly obey and clear the table. But our attitude on the inside might be, “They’re so unfair! I have pages of homework to do, a book to read, and a report to write. I never have any time for myself!” Inwardly, we are rebelling, which is the complete opposite of obedience.
It doesn’t matter what I think; just as long as I do it.” How many of us are guilty of this thought? True, our parents may not see our inward attitude, but God sees it! He measures inward obedience just as much as He measures outward obedience. He can see that we are not whole-heartedly obeying His command in Ephesians 6:1.

       2. Obedience also includes doing our task the best we can. If we half-way do a job that our parents have asked us to do, are we really obeying them . . . to the best of our ability?

       3. Obedience is more than just heeding what our parents say. Our parents have something called a will. Their will is basically their desire. My parents have never told me, “Do not buy alcohol.” However, I know that it is totally against their will for me to buy alcohol. If I buy alcohol, then I am disobeying my parents. Colossians 3:20 says, “Obey your parents in ALL things.” It does not say “Only obey your parents’ words.”

Another way to obey our parents’ will is to not try to “change their mind.” When Dad says, “No, you cannot go to Sara’s,” and we whine and beg and make promises until he says, “Alright, go!” we are disobeying his will.

“But he said ‘yes!’” we might argue. Perhaps he did, but it was not his will to say so. He just wanted to keep peace in the home.

Yet another way to obey our parents’ will is to do things without being told. We do not have to be told, “When the sink is full of dirty dishes, I want them placed in the dishwasher.” We can easily see that this is probably something that Mom would like us to do.

Why are we to obey?
Ephesians 6:1 simply tells us to obey, “for this is right.” Two verses later we read, “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Colossians 3:20 tells us to obey, “for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”

Hebrews 13:17 tells us to obey, “for they watch for your souls.”

To obey our parents is to obey God’s commands. It is also a step of preparation. When we get married, we are to obey and submit to our husband (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18). If we have practiced rebellion towards our parents, we will have difficulty submitting to our husband. Is this perhaps one of the reasons that divorce is so prevalent among couples today?

More important than preparing for marriage, obeying our parents is preparation for life. When we are no longer under our parents’ authority, we are accountable directly to God. If we have not learned to obey those whom we can see and hear, how can we obey God, Whom we cannot physically see and hear?

There are many examples in the Bible of those who did not obey the Lord, and the consequences were great. In one instance, the prophet Samuel said, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22b)

It is my prayer that all of us can learn to have complete obedience to our parents, our future husbands, and our Lord.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Fear

Previously posted on my family's blog

“What is happening to my America?” This was a question posed by a lady who feared the changes that have been made in our country. As Christians, we also ask the same question, with the same tinge of fear. What is happening to our country? What will happen to us? What freedoms are going to be taken away? We have no peace. Why? Because we are all fearing instead of trusting.

What is fear? The modern dictionary defines fear as “a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain, etc.” but I believe that God’s Word defines it much better.

Fear is not from the Lord:
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15)
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7-9)

Fear is lack of love:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

Fear is lack of trust:
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. Psalm 56:3-4
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. Psalm 27:1, 3

When we spend time in God’s Word, it should cause our fear to come crashing down. Our Heavenly Father has given us many promises that we should hide in our hearts to combat the devil’s weapon of fear.

 God is always with us:
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5b)
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

The Lord is always ready to help:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Psalm 46:1-3

The Lord will watch over us:
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

The Lord will protect us:
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Psalm 118:6
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. Proverbs 3:25-26

The Lord does not intend to do evil to us:
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

How can there be peace with fear? There cannot. Peace comes by simply trusting God, loving God, and determining to push away any fear when it arises.

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Verse 10 of 52!!!!!!!

Verse 10 in this challenge is Romans 5:19

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

As I memorized this, the differences between the two opposites really stuck out.

"By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" This is a reflection of something that happened in the past to affect all of human nature.

"So by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous." This is a reflection of the present and the future - "shall many be made righteous." The saving power of Jesus' blood is still in effect today! Many are still being made righteous because of the obedience of Jesus Christ.

Praise the Lord for His salvation!!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Our Passover Sacrifice

Jesus Christ - Our Passover Sacrifice
Previously posted on Rubies Like Ruth (December 2011)

When God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, He established several feasts. One of those was the Passover.

“The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.” Numbers 9:11-12

When Jesus Christ was crucified, He became the new Passover sacrificed for us (see 1 Corinthians 5:7). Just like the Passover lamb, His precious body was not left on the cross until morning (see John 19:38) nor was any bone of His body broken (see John 19:36).

“But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.” Numbers 9:13

Just like in Passover times, God requires us to respond. Every soul that does not accept Jesus Christ as the Passover, will be judged one day, bearing his sin (“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23).

“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:13

Just like God passed over the houses that had blood sprinkled on the door posts, He looks to see if we have Christ’s blood sprinkled on the posts of our hearts and will judge us accordingly. Have you been covered by that blood? Have you accepted the Passover Lamb as your sacrifice for sins?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Verse 9 of 52!

My ninth verse in this challenge is a continuation of Romans 5:

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Romans 5:18)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Giveaway

Here's a giveaway at a blog I enjoy reading:

Thoughtful Thursday - In Tune

In Tune
Previously posted on my family's blog

The Lord allowed me to purchase my own piano in April 2010. Before I moved it into our house, I noticed that it needed tuning, but tuning a piano is expensive! Months passed with me playing it, cringing, and thinking, “I really need to get this tuned!” And of course, I still did not make a move towards tuning it. I knew the main benefit of tuning my piano: it would be so much more pleasant to play and teach on, but I also weighed the personal loss: I was not willing to spare that money needed to tune it.

The inside of my piano

As I was thinking about my neglect in hiring a piano tuner, the Lord helped me to link the piano to my spiritual walk with Him. How often do I know that I need to “tune up” my life, but when I realize the sacrifice and time it takes, I neglect it? I know that my life would flow in a smooth stream of harmony and music instead of the current of dissonance and clangs, but because I am not willing to make the sacrifice, my life continues in dissonance.

Just like my piano, my heart will not resonate with lovely music until I decide to make the sacrifice needed to bring it back in tune.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:10
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