As I mentioned in my previous post, my watch word for 2016 is "See". I want to slow down enough to truly see God's marvelous works all around me and the unique qualities that He has woven into the people that surround me.
I also want to not only "see", but to go a step further and discern His Truth from His Word. I confess that I have a problem...well actually two...or more. First, I procrastinate which is why this post is late. Second, when I read His Word I am prone to skim. Especially, if I know the scripture, I breeze past the words. Yeah, yeah, yeah, got this...know that...heard that before...done.
That is why I am challenging myself to read scripture that I am less familiar with and to read it in small chunks. At the advice of a writing friend, I am reading the same small portion of scripture three different times in different translations. This has been a great help in getting me to slow down and see. I am also reading commentaries (remembering they are opinions and insights, not gospel truth).
So step one: Crack your Bible open. We can't expect to know and discern God's heart if we don't lay eyes on His written Word.
It's a new year, so go with some scripture that is new to you. Think of the Bible as God's love letter to you. You've found His love letters to you tucked away in a shoebox in the attic and now you're going to open them one at a time and really focus on what He is saying.
Today, I have camped out in Ephesians 1: 7-14. Yesterday I read Ephesians 1: 1-7. Reading in sequence and grasping what comes before and afterward greatly helps as well. I also read it three times in different translations. I put on my miner's hat and here is what I discovered:
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure (one translations reads: With immense pleasure, he laid out his intentions through Jesus). And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ - everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. (Ephesians 1: 7-11 - NLT)
**Note I stopped after verse 11 because already there is such good stuff to mine here.
First, I laid eyes on, and dwelled on the beginning of the passage. I visualized Christ's blood freely flowing down the cross - setting me free. With such great love for me/us, He has poured out the richness of His grace upon me. I am covered. I am forgiven. I am truly, truly loved by a God who is kind.
That, alone, is a great nugget to carry with me today. I admit, however, that my eyes were caught by words in the next phrase, "God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure." (vs. 9)
I admit wondering, What is God's good pleasure? One version said, "His immense pleasure." If God can be pleased....can He be displeased? Can He be displeased with me? I know that I am pleased with some things and some people, and conversely am displeased by some things and some people. I am made in God's image, so is He like me?
I realized what I was doing was (okay, here comes the big English major, six syllable word) anthropomorphizing God. I was trying to understand God as if he were a man.
God is not a man. We are made in God's image, not vice versa.
I'm learning it is extremely damaging and untrue to attribute to God human characteristics. I am made in God's image...He is not made in mine. Can I hear a Halleluiah??
God is not affected by others like I am.
I am also a highly sensitive person, so what others around me say and do can affect me greatly. It ought not to, but it does. My mood and outlook can be changed. Then, what I elect to do can be changed. I am affected by others and then others, in turn, may be affected by me.
God is not like that. I can count on God to live in a determinative fashion. What does that mean? I can count on God to be fixed, unchanging. He defines, directs, and determines the course for others...He cannot be defined, directed, and determined by us. Can I have another Halleluiah??
God is not influenced by anything outside of himself. There is no force in the universe stronger than God. So, when I think my actions and reactions are changing how God thinks about me...nothing could be further from the truth. I can no more change God than I can stop the stars from shining.
God at His very core is Love and Goodness. So therefore His "good pleasure" is His will. I believe that God cannot have a will or pleasure that is other than good.
Good and bad things happen to people, not because God is displeased with them. Okay, read that again...
God's will for us is always good, but He does give those around us and gives us free will which allows us to affect others (sometimes in a bad way) and to be affected by others.
I am so thankful that God's will...His good pleasure was to offer Christ as an atoning sacrifice for my sin. He knew that man was not going to cut it attempting to follow the Law, and so He gave us a new covenant which is that we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
When God looks at us/me. He doesn't see my sin; He only sees the cleansing blood of Christ.
That will never change...because God has always been good and His will and "good pleasure" are changeless as well.
What misconceptions do you have about God? How would digging into His word change that?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the love letter of Your precious Word that You have written to me. Make it my desire to want to read Your words of love to me and truly "see" your loving and kind heart. How thankful I am that You are changeless...that nothing I do will make You love me more or less. You are fixed and You are faithful. On those facts, I can depend. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit You have given me as my guide while mining in Your Word. May I not only see, but be changed, day by day, into the likeness of Jesus. It is in His precious name that I pray, Amen
This is Nisha wearing the warm sweater/coat that you gave her for Christmas. For a young girl that was cleaning houses just to survive and eat, she feels immensely blessed to have found refuge in the loving arms of Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan...made possible by Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
Over 25 impoverished and orphaned children remain on the waiting list to be sponsored in order to be able to attend RCS, Pakistan. For ONLY $12/MONTH OR $144/FOR ONE YEAR, YOU CAN MAKE THIS DREAM POSSIBLE.
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