How Much Do You Know?

Can you name any three of the ten commandments?  Or, two of the Gospels?

Can you list some of the apostles?

Is this the correct chronological order for Biblical leaders: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Paul, and Jesus?

Did you know we are not to associate with a gossip? (Prov. 20:19)

At the risk of revealing my age, I “confess” that I have two grandsons who recently graduated from high school. During that sweet time of reminiscing, I found a picture of me reading to them together when they were less than two from “Elmo”- one of those picture books with the music and sound buttons. In the window seat near where we sat in our big recliner also lay my Bible. As I looked at that picture, I was saddened. Not sadness because they were now grown and that time was past, but emotions of deep regret because I had not been reading to them from His Word during each and every opportunity I had been given.  

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19a

What the Bible Says

In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul shared his desire for the new Christains of the church to know and understand what great wealth they had in Christ. The verse above is a part of a prison prayer for his new converts, and it is not in any way referring to materialism. On the contrary, Paul was praying for us, as well as the Ephesian believers:

  • to be enlightened- to be able to see and understand spiritual content,
  • to have hope-with Christ we have a living hope, the Comforter within us day by day, encouraging us to live for Him in all we do,
  • to know the riches of His inheritance, in His saints, that’s us!  Even though I have never felt like a saint, that is how He sees us, and
  • to understand the exceeding greatness of His power we have in the Holy Spirit, the dynamic energy to which we have access.  We need His power, not only because we are so weak, but also because we have enemies in the spiritual realm that would love to rob us of our peace, and we cannot fight them alone. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

Food for Thought

Even though we become “rich” when we accept Christ, unless we read the “bankbook” we will never understand the spiritual wealth, precious gems, and priceless truths God has for us. It is not enough just to know about God; we become more satisfied and at peace when we really “know” Him as our Guide, Friend, and most importantly “Abba” or Father.

  1. Spend time in His Word,
  2. Train your children to do the same, and
  3. Attend church, one which not only reads scripture, but teaches scripture as well.
  4. Determine to grow spiritually through sound Biblical leaders and teachers such as: Dr. Robert Jeffress on Pathway to Victory, Dr. David Jeremiah onTurning Point, and/or Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries, just to name few.

About the Writer:
Beverly has been an educator, administrator, educational sales representative, Sunday school teacher, and mentor; but most importantly is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a passion for sharing Christ.

Nice is Not a Fruit of the Spirit

 

“Some people are naturally good, you know, and others are not. I’m one of the others,”  LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

Anne with an “e” didn’t quite get her theology of original sin correct, but she certainly voiced the experience we all have as “one of the others.” Preschool is an excellent laboratory to prove that no child ever must be taught to be selfish, but needs a basic lesson in civilization to “be kind”.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

In his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul encouraged them to be kind, not just in general, but specifically to “one another”. Why is it easier for us to be kind to strangers and let someone in front of us at the checkout, but get quickly annoyed with a family member who has a bad day and is a bit grumpy?

If that’s not enough, Paul carries the instructions a step further when he adds the word: “tenderhearted”. And then, as if to stretch us to an impossible limit, he continues: “forgiving each other, JUST AS God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

This is one of those familiar verses that those of us who grew up in church have known from infancy. The old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt”, or at the very best “complacency,” fits well right about here. It was helpful to me to learn that “nice” is not a fruit of the spirit. Being kind and being nice are not the same thing. One can be nice and observe outward boundaries of civility and have an unkind and selfish heart. One of the most powerful illustrations of this is played out in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. The novel is a masterfully written contrast of law and grace, of niceness and kindness. Set in early 19th century France, the story follows a man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving child. He is shown mercy and kindness by a friendly bishop and his life is forever changed. In contrast, he is hunted by a police inspector who doesn’t understand kindness and mercy, but sees them as a weakness.

The fictional story is true in that we cannot extend kindness until we realize, like Anne and Jean Valjean, our own lack of goodness and accept God’s forgiveness.

About the Writer:
Nan is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

Blindsided

God? Wow! No idea! I think I know Him, then He surprises me again! He and I have wrestled on more than one occasion. Not quite sure why I continue . . . . it’s all pretty predictable and boils down to God giving me something I didn’t want or not giving me something I did want or doing something I don’t agree with, etc. So, true to James 4:1-3, I have a tiff with God – a fight that can end only one way for a child of God—nestled back in His loving arms, sometimes after a loving little swat on the backside from my Abba, Father.

When my fiancé and I were engaged (we should be married happily-ever-after by the time this is published), we were completely blindsided. He lost his job days before he proposed; and a month before our wedding, he still had not found a job. My daughter and I were living with my parents at the time and he was staying with an aunt and uncle to save money.

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As we watched that fairy-tale cottage in the Shire—you know, the one with the little fence, all warm and cozy—fade back into the story books no matter how diligent and competent he was, we wondered what God was up to. I couldn’t help “flashing back” to my “nomad” years when I wondered where I would sleep the next night or if I would ever have a place that felt like home.

All that to say that I have to watch my mind and mouth when talking to God. I have to decide just to accept that, in some of what He allows in my life, I may later see His kindness, and some of it I may never understand. Either way, sometimes my best is to simply throw my hands up in the air and say, “Thank you, God! You are good and You’ve got a plan!” In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, God calls me always to give thanks for everything in the name of Jesus Christ. It encourages me that His purpose is we, who were the first to trust in Christ, should praise our glorious God (Ephesians 1:12; 5:20). When I’m tempted to lengthen my wrestlings with God past their season (a time to feel anger, a time to feel sad, a time to get God’s direction on how to move forward), this is the passage I read to reclaim truth from Paul’s prayer.

. . . . that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21

In the end, I know WHATEVER is going on is still part of His love for me, and I praise Him.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Stand Firm

The road was tough, the pain severe, the circumstances horrendous. The strength of one young woman was fading and discouragement was setting in. “Was it worth it anymore?” she pondered. Lisa stood at a crossroads in her mind. One way meant a great deal of work, sacrifice and perseverance, but victory guaranteed. The other road, the most popularly traveled, would certainly be the easiest but would result in little at the end.

The deceiver was attacking Lisa’s mind, and quitting suddenly seemed best. She was tired, weary, and uncertain of her future. She had almost talked herself out of the path to which God had called her. Why? She was focusing on the circumstances surrounding her journey instead of on the God who had called her to it.

Lisa, quickly realizing she was in the middle of a spiritual warfare, surrendered her thoughts and feelings over to God. As the Lord overtook the young woman’s heart, she determined from that moment on to move forward with her Father, no matter the severity of the path.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13 NASB

At times, we too may find ourselves in conflicting situations. Yet we must remember that Satan longs to alter our progress by tempting us to take the easy route or even to quit the course all together. However, through Christ, we must learn how to fight the battle of spiritual warfare.

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17 NASB

Pay close attention to the words, “Stand firm.” They mean, “To be of a steadfast mind.” As we support ourselves with God’s armor, we must do so by refusing to waver as a result of circumstances. Trials are going to come. Temptations will frequently persist. Satan will continue to attack until you and I go home to be with the Lord. Yet in God’s word He clearly states how to fight the good fight effectively and accurately.

Don’t allow the enemy to sway you back and forth in your emotional stance between circumstances or God. Armor up and stand firm!

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of four and enjoys both roles tremendously. She also loves the opportunity to serve through ministry and share through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and will begin her doctoral work at Southwestern in family ministries in the fall.