Saturday, April 28, 2012

Verses 16/17 of 52!

My 16th verse (for last week :)):
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17

As I memorized this, it suddenly struck me that the very first quality is purity. Then, the other qualities line up. What a beautiful list for any Christian to aim for!

- - - -
My 17th verse:
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7

Often, we become "weary in well-doing." It is good to occasionally remember that if we are following God, we will be rewarded as He sees fit, when He sees fit.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - The Battle for My Thoughts (Part Two)

Previously posted at Rubies Like Ruth for their February 2012 study

My sister featured on their button
“Okay,” I breathed decidedly, “What do You say about our thoughts?” I thumbed through the pages of the concordance until I reached “th.” My eyes quickly scanned page after page until thoughts glared up at me. I grabbed a notebook and pen and settled on my bed.

Genesis 6:5 – And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

“Wow, wicked thoughts have been a problem since the beginning.”

1 Chronicles 28:9 – And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.
My photography

I paused for a moment. “Even if I don’t understand all my thoughts, God does. I guess that means that He knows where they all come from. Where do they come from, I wonder?” And here my thoughts raced. Movies, books, conversations, posters, adds, emails, letters . . . everything that I see, hear, and ingest are food for thought. I shuddered. It was scary to realize it. I pulled away from my thoughts and looked through the next few verses.

Psalm 10:4 – The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

This time, I completely stopped with my heart pounding. “God is not in all his thoughts!” In the course of a day, how often did my thoughts turn to daydreams, stories, movies, or plans? How often did they turn to God? I felt hopeless again.

“Lord, I don’t want to simply be a Sunday-morning Christian, thinking of You only when I read my Bible or go to church! I don’t want to be wicked without You in my thoughts! But how do I keep you in my thoughts?” I waited for a moment. Maybe another verse would have the answer. I kept going. When I flipped to Psalm 119, my eyes immediately fell on a heavily marked verse.

Psalm 119:9 – Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word.

“That’s it!!” I exclaimed. My voice bounced off the walls and I smiled sheepishly. I read the verse again. “How does one cleanse his ways? By listening to God’s Word: living it and doing it.” Impure thoughts were simply filth in my life that needed to be cleansed and renewed.

My photography
I knew from sermons I heard that when we take something out of our lives, it must be replaced with something good, but I had never applied it to my thoughts. “I can’t simply take out my impure thoughts,” I mused, twisting my pen. I looked back down at my Bible.

Psalm 119:11 – Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

I grinned again. The answer was so clear: memorize God’s Word!! My grin quickly turned to a thoughtful frown. What should I memorize? There are so many wonderful verses in God’s Word!

“Well,” I said testily, “I guess if I’m struggling with my thoughts . . . maybe I should memorize a verse about my thoughts.” I looked through the concordance again.

Isaiah 55:7-9 – Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith 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.

I read the verse several times, the realization sobering me. I had always read the verse, thinking, “Of course God’s thoughts are higher than mine – He is God!” But I had always neglected the command to forsake my thoughts and turn to God. It was a command – not just a suggestion.

Again, I took a deep breath. Three verses would not be so bad to start off with. I quickly bowed my head, “Thank You, Father, for leading me today. I know that I have sinned by dwelling on my impure thoughts, but thank You for showing me a way out. I ask for You to help me purify my thoughts because I know that I cannot do it on my own. Thank you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Though this is a fictional story, much of it is gleaned from glimpses of my own life. Are our thoughts really where they need to be? Or are we simply ignoring the need to cleanse our thoughts? May God help us all to cleanse and purify our minds so we can better serve Him!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - The Battle for My Thoughts (Part One)

Previously posted on Rubies Like Ruth for their February 2012 Study

My sister featured on their button
“A penny for your thoughts!” My sister quipped, nudging me as she slid a pot in my sudsy water.

I quickly started scrubbing the pot, bending my head down to hide the red that boiled in my face. “What thoughts?” I muttered, but my sister had already flitted to the dining room to wipe the crumbs off the table.

I had done it again. My eyes had rested on an object outside the window and in my mind I was fashioning a scene. Unconsciously, my sister had probed into a struggle I was having. She did it merely for fun – she was simply quoting a line from a book she had recently read.

As soon as the last dish was put away, I hurried to my room and swung the door shut. With my back resting on the door, I looked up at the ceiling.

“Why? Why am I still struggling? I’m supposed to be over this now! I’ve worked so hard but I’m still struggling! God, I don’t know what to do next!” My jaws clenched and my fists doubled up. It seemed like I was fighting against an invisible enemy within myself.

My photography
“My thoughts aren’t worth a penny.” I moaned. How ashamed I would be to admit to my sister what I was really thinking! And yet . . . I slid to the floor and hid my face in my knees. God knew what I was thinking! If I was ashamed to let my younger sister know my thoughts, how much more ashamed should I be that God was looking down and seeing every detail of my thoughts!

“Lord, I give up! It’s too hard! No one tries to keep their thoughts pure! It’s such a bother! How am I supposed to know what You want me to do about them? Or do You even want me to do anything about them?” I caught my breath and slowly raised my head guiltily. There was no reason for me to complain about my problem as if I were in the dark because I knew where to find the answer to all of life’s problems – no matter how small.

With a deep breath, I stood up and reached for my Bible then hastily pulled out the drawer where I kept my neglected concordance.

“Okay,” I breathed decidedly, “What do You say about our thoughts?” I thumbed through the pages of the concordance until I reached “th.” My eyes quickly scanned page after page until thoughts glared up at me. I grabbed a notebook and pen and settled on my bed. 

. . . to be continued next Thursday . . .

Friday, April 13, 2012

Verse 15 of 52!

This week, the Lord allowed me to memorize James 3:13-16. Lord willing, I will complete the passage next week.

"Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." James 3:13-16

One of the things that stuck out to me while memorizing this was in the first verse: meekness of wisdom. We often enjoy showing our wisdom, but we seem to forget the quality coupled with wisdom: meekness! The wisdom from Above is not proud, haughty wisdom, but humble, meek wisdom.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Verse 14 of 52!!

This week, I finished learning the passage at the end of 2 Timothy 2:

"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
2 Timothy 2: 23-26

The Lord has been teaching me many lessons through this passage. I pray that He will help me to be gentle (to all men - not simply those easy to get along with), apt to teach, patient, and meek.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday - Friendship (Part 2)

Friendship - Part 2
To Be a Friend
Though it is wonderful to be blessed with good friends, we must also ponder what type of friend we are being. Every relationship that we have in life will involve us not only receiving, but also giving. Are we being the type of friend that we would like to have?

It is a good idea to consider some questions, “Am I being the friend God would have me to be? Am I encouraging others in the Lord? Am I living my life in line with God’s Word? Am I a good example to my friends?”

Broken Friendships
May I speak frankly for a moment? I do not believe that “broken” friendships are Biblical. Before you judge me, let me explain. A “broken” friendship is broken: it hurts, it brings pain, and it often cannot be “stitched” back together.

There are, however, times when a friend that we have is detrimental for our spiritual growth (Note: this does not include “she offended me” or other emotional issues). Such friendships are mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 3:“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15)

No, this is not talking about “broken” friendships, but “withdrawn” friendships. If you notice, though, it is not on just any terms. This is talking of a friend who is not walking with God, not encouraging us in Christ, and living according to the world. With such a case, there are several things that we can do:
1.      We must talk with our parents about our concerns with this person and if they deem best then,
2.      We must pray about how God would have us treat this person and ask Him to dissolve the friendship
3.      If God so shows us, we must avoid their company when possible – without being rude

I have seen personal examples of how God can easily withdraw a friendship, leaving no hurt feelings or scars. However, it must be done in a Christ-like manner. This does not mean:
1.      Speaking badly of a person (look at James 4:11)
2.      Turning others against them (look at Proverbs 10:12)
3.      Shunning them completely (look at 2 Thessalonians 3:15)

When a friendship is simply withdrawn (in a Biblical fashion), we can still love them and pray for them. We must realize that withdrawing from a friendship is meant for our protection and their growth.

The end results of broken and withdrawn friendships are significantly different. In a broken friendship, the two “used-to-be-friends” generally do not resume a friendship. In a withdrawn friendship, God can bring the friends back together years later when the “disorderly brother (or sister)” decides to live their life in accordance to God’s Word.

Who are our friends? Are they good, solid, Biblical friends? Or are they worldly, wavering, detrimental friends? Are they friends with whom we can have Godly conversations? Or are they simply friends that we laugh and joke with? Do we grow by their friendship, or are we pulled away from what we know is right?

We must also consider these in relation to who we are as a friend. God has given us such a blessing in friendships, but we must choose to use His Word as a guideline with these friendships.

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