Week 44 – Know Him?

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1 John

You know that He was revealed so that He might take away sins, and there is no sin in Him. Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him. 1 John 3:5-6

Love this verse! In a nutshell, we are all a sinful mess and there is nothing WE can do about it. But, Jesus can! It is the whole reason He came as a baby, lived on this Earth among us away from His rightful home and place at the right hand of God for 33 years before dying a criminals death on the cross. He came for us! He did it all for each of us because we aren’t capable on our own. The big question is have you taken Him up on His amazing offer?

This verse takes it even further than that and tells us that Christ Jesus didn’t just die to cover our sin, but takes away the action of sin in the life of Christians who believe and trust in Him. There is a distinct difference I feel we need to distinguish between. Jesus not only died to pay the penalty for our sins, but the deliver us from the pull and power sin has over us in this flesh. He was able to do all this because He was a perfect and blameless sacrifice offered up to the angry and cruel crowds to hang from the cross. .  . all along accomplishing God’s divine plan because of His great love for us. That’s a love we can barely grasp or comprehend, but it is real.

I feel like we often forget that these verses say Jesus did and does all these things. Many times, we live as if these verses from 1 John read, “Everyone who remains in himself does not sin; everyone who sins has not tried hard enough to stop.” God never created us to do manage sin alone. We simply can not do it without Him. It’s Jesus who paid the price and the Holy Spirit that resides in us so that we are able to overcome our sinful nature. As hard as we try, we will never accomplish freedom from sin without Him. I’m not sure about you, but that lifts a tremendous burden off of my heart and mind. Me and God, You and God! We are in this, as a team! His might and His power can accomplish all (Zech 4:6, Deut. 8:17, Ephesians 6:10). We are not alone. What a relief!

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

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Week 43 – Double-Mouth Sword

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Hebrews 4For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints, and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

This is a familiar verse to me as it may be too many of you. However, this time the words “double-edged sword” stood out like a shining beacon each time I read the verse. On the surface, we see how this verse is literally saying God’s word is sharp and can penetrate our soul and spirit. We could easily dismiss this, believe we had the complete meaning and move on to another verse. But let’s pause for a moment on these three words.

Two-edged Sword

Two-edged – Interestingly, when we go back to the Greek, we see that two-edged comes from the Greek word “distomos.” This is unusual to me because in the Greek “di” means two and “stomos” means mouth. So, the original text would imply we are talking about a double-mouthed sword.

Sword – And the word “sword” is used throughout scripture to describe God’s written Word.  In fact, I was just having a conversation about the putting on the armor of God at lunch today with two friends. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

Another point to make here is that we see this term, double or two-edged sword several times in scripture. When I searched it, the phrase came up six times in the NIV translation. In Revelation 1:16 we read about the Lord’s return and it mentions a double-edged sword coming out of His mouth. I had never matched the two of these verses before until searching these three words this week.

“In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Revelation 1:16

So what does this all mean or boil down to? What is this new understanding we can glean from the Greek translation? How does God’s mouth work in two ways for us as we walk this Earth and seek His ways?

I see it like this, and I hope you have experienced this same interaction with the Word/Sword of God. You are in thoughtful prayer about something, reading through the word of God, listening to a sermon or praise music and all of a sudden . . . it hits you. The perfect scripture flys into your heart like balm on a deep cut. You sense God’s presence and know He has provided you with an answer to prayer. He has spoken to your heart and soul (His mouth). But then where does the second mouth come in? Ah, couldn’t that be when we take His truth and treasure and share His wisdom and Word with someone else? Speaking into them what God shared with us (our mouth).

Two mouths (His and ours) working together with the Sword (His written Word) . . . what an incredible image. I may be way off here, but thanks to digging into some Greek, my eyes have been opened to a new way of looking at how God works through me and in me. I pray you feel the same.

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

 

 

 

 

Week 42 – Where Are You Running?

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Hebrews

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2

This year’s Bible challenge has been an incredible journey. It’s reminded me of all the different ways there are to read and study scripture, but it’s also reminded me of all the ways God uses scripture to breathe life into my soul.  I can’t believe there are only 10 weeks left in 2017. I’m already thinking and praying about how God is calling me to read through the Bible in 2018, but until then. . . .

As we have seen throughout this year, sometimes it’s an old lesson God reminds us of, a new Bible translation, definition of a word we have passed over, new Bible commentary or life situation that leads us to new and deeper understanding of God’s word. But sometimes, it’s a message He has given someone else that has been brave and bold enough to share with us. This week, I couldn’t help but think of an amazing Sermon Jam I watched by John Piper on these exact verses. (Thank you, Laura, for teaching me about sermon jams!) In a nutshell, he says that when we ask the question, “Is it a sin?” we are asking the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking ourselves if each word, action or deed makes us run. Even if the Bible isn’t specific about the particular action or deed, does it make you run to Christ, does it draw you closer to Him and the person He desires for you to be? John is an incredible man of God, pastor, author and leader. I hope you will watch this 3-minute sermon jam of his sermon message on these particular verses from Hebrews. I believe he says it better than I ever could.

Running – John Piper Sermon Jam

 

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 41 – A Rare Gift

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Friends - Proverbs 18

A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Sometimes reading Scripture takes us back to a time in our lives that God used our circumstances to teach us. Often, He will gently remind us of lessons He has already taught us. These moments are a wonderful reminder of His presence, love & desire for us to continue to grow in Him.

This verse from Proverbs quickly brought my mind back to a blog I wrote in 2009. I’ve reposted it below. Although these times of remembering can be bittersweet, I never want to forget the lessons God taught me through trial and tears. It is those lessons that are the light in the darkness, the joy that comes out of sadness and the good He can provide out of the worst situations.

We are all guilty of it. Taking our problems, our concerns and complaints to others before we take them to God. He is the one we should go to first when we are seeking wise counsel.

God drove this point home to me in 2008. It had been a tough few months. Everything seemed to be falling apart. My friend Shannon’s cancer had spread to her brain, my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I had a disappointing birthday and oh, how the list continued, but I will spare you. It was summer and all my friends were traveling, busy with camp, the pool, etc. When I tried to talk to them everyone seemed distracted. They were out of town or running out the door to the next activity or obligation. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of the same thing. We get in a hurry and fill our schedules to the brim so there is no margin for the things that might pop up.

After the fourth attempt to talk to a friend and getting nowhere. . . it hit me! God spoke to my heart and I realized I needed to be taking all of this worry and concern to God. God, who is my friend, is always closer to me than anyone, and who knows me better than I know myself.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying we don’t need to seek the counsel of our friends. God has put friends in our lives to support us, love us, give us solid Christian advice and hold us accountable. I praise God for my girlfriends every day!

I think God was reminding me that above all else, I should first seek Him. He is always available and “not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). He is never on the way out the door, swim team practice, Target or the grocery store. We have a God who craves a relationship with us and desires for us to seek Him daily. This rare gift is beyond our comprehension and understanding most days, but it exists and is very real. Next time you are troubled, have a concern or problem, talk it over with our Lord and Savior first. Seek His counsel, comfort, and direction. Pray that He provides you with a solution or answer in any way He can. He may speak straight to your heart, send a friend or put you in a circumstance that will give you the answer or peace that you need. He doesn’t promise when or how, but He blesses all those who seek Him.

If someone asks him: What are these wounds on your chest?—then he will answer: I received the wounds in the house of my friends. Zechariah 13:6

“Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him. Matthew 26:50

You are My friends if you do what I command you. John 15:14

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 40 – One and Only

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John 1-14Image2

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

This one verse is packed with beautiful and awe-inspiring details of our Savior. First, He was born and lived among us taking on the “likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). But in spite of taking on our likeness, He was still “full” of grace and truth showing us that He brought all of His divine qualities with Him.

But there is one word that caught my eye this week that I wanted to dwell on ~ residence.

Residence: a person’s home; the place where someone lives

This Greek word is skenool, which literally means to pitch or live in a tent. At first glance, we might think it’s referring to the Lord’s temporary “camping out” here on Earth among us. Which is relevant, but it goes deeper than that as we dig deeper into scripture.

Take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:1-3 (NCV)

We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. But now we groan in this tent. We want God to give us our heavenly home, because it will clothe us so we will not be naked.

God took up residence among us in His tent (His earthly body). These verses from 2 Corinthians go on to talk about how we will groan and be burdened in this tent/body until we reach our heavenly home. We understand this clearly because this tent we live in here on earth is all we know. We know the pain, tears, sadness, and heart-break that comes with this tent we now dwell in. We can only imagine how amazing and breathtaking our eternal home will be. But God knew! He knew and He left all the glory, perfection, joy, magnificencesplendorgrandeurmajestygreatness, and nobility of Heaven behind to come be with us and live in a human body that experiences and endures pain, suffering, and heartbreak. And for what? For you and for me and because of His GREAT love for us. Only the most loving Father and Creator would give up everything to come and live in this mess we call home for now. 

In churches, small groups and Bible studies all over the world, we talk about how God sent His only Son to die on the cross to cover our sins so we access to eternal life with Him. But sometimes, I think it’s said so much, we begin to overlook the deep truth of the sacrifice He made and the love it must have taken for Him to do so.

This week, my prayer is that we all take some time to reflect on the intense and profound love our Creator and Heavenly Father has for us. May we bask in His glory and respond with word, action, and deed.

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.