Posted in Bible Study

God, I’m so…(blank)

This comic was posted by someone on Facebook, and while I chuckled, I also had some deeper thoughts in relation to it. 

This may be how we treat God sometimes, or at least I know I have. I have a bad day, and I rush to God and start complaining. My complaints are even sometimes similar to Dagwood. I expect God to listen to all of my complaints, and then I expect to move on with life. Sometimes I feel guilty about complaining, so I throw in a few comments about how great he is. Mostly though I just vent.

I don’t think God completely minds when I come to him with my problems and complaints. He does urge us to come to him when we’re weak and weary. He is pretty great that way. In fact he’s better than Dagwood’s doctor in that he can provide a miracle cure for my ailments. 

My problem lies in the time though when that’s all I come to God for over a period of time. If I’m only coming to God when I have problems, what kind of relationship is that, and how does that depict how I view God? God is so much bigger and more capable than any problem I’ll ever have. I’m grateful for that, so when things are going well, I need to come to him as well and thank him. In fact I can also thank him during problems as well because I know he’s capable and willing to give me rest. 

Thanks God!

Posted in Bible Study

God, I’m so…(blank)

This comic was posted by someone on Facebook, and while I chuckled, I also had some deeper thoughts in relation to it. 

This may be how we treat God sometimes, or at least I know I have. I have a bad day, and I rush to God and start complaining. My complaints are even sometimes similar to Dagwood. I expect God to listen to all of my complaints, and then I expect to move on with life. Sometimes I feel guilty about complaining, so I throw in a few comments about how great he is. Mostly though I just vent.

I don’t think God completely minds when I come to him with my problems and complaints. He does urge us to come to him when we’re weak and weary. He is pretty great that way. In fact he’s better than Dagwood’s doctor in that he can provide a miracle cure for my ailments. 

My problem lies in the time though when that’s all I come to God for over a period of time. If I’m only coming to God when I have problems, what kind of relationship is that, and how does that depict how I view God? God is so much bigger and more capable than any problem I’ll ever have. I’m grateful for that, so when things are going well, I need to come to him as well and thank him. In fact I can also thank him during problems as well because I know he’s capable and willing to give me rest. 

Thanks God!

Posted in Bible Study

God always provides

“and behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the such month with her who was called barren…. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:36, 41-42).

I can imagine that when Mary found out about her pregnancy she was scared, not only of being pregnant outside of marriage but simply of having her first child. I wonder if God provided Elizabeth a child not only for the fact that this child would proclaim about Jesus but also because God knew Mary would need a confidant. Mary would need someone who believed her claim about this baby being God and someone to share the pains and joys of having a child. 

This passage reminds me that God always provides exactly what we need when we need it. He’s given me friends when I’m lonely, rest when I’m weary, and reassurance when I’m feeling insecure. Notice though God provides what we need not what we want. Mary may have wanted everyone to believe her, but God only gave her one because that’s how his perfect plan worked. 

Posted in Bible Study, Book Review

This post is a bit premature considering I haven’t finished the book series yet, but the heart message that God is teaching me is ready to share. It’s not a new lesson, but it’s one I need reminding of often. So many times I ask God what he has planned. I want to know the details of when and how events in my life will play out. Specifically now with my 25th birthday coming up, I wonder if marriage is in my future or if I’m better equipped to serve as a single person. I also wonder if this physical place is where I’ll be for a while or if it’s only a short stop. Through the Above the Line series by Karen Kingsbury, music, and scripture, God is reminding me of his promises.

There are several plot lines within the series’s four books, but one key idea is woven through them all. Bailey Flannigan, the young college student stuck between two guys, wonders if her dream of going to New York to act is really what God has planned for her. Keith and Chase, the movie producer team who take Hollywood by story, wonder many times if the trials thrown at them are a sign that the movie is not God’s plan. Andi, the former missionary kid, wonders if God is really even part of her life at all. Each one of them come to a key verse from Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Recently another verse keeps popping up in numerous places of my life. In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” I know that I love God, and I know that he has called me to be in the place I am in right now. Just the other day, I was talking with a friend about his current situation in life and the part of Ecclesiastes about there being seasons came into the conversation. I am in a season right now where I feel both content and anxiously awaiting. The thing that God keeps reminding me though is that He has a plan that is perfect. I don’t want to step too far ahead of his plan with my wanderings or wonderings; instead I want to wait right here no matter how anxious I may feel about waiting and no matter how often I want to force some action to take place.

Finally, a song was played this morning at church that sealed the deal about my questions and anxieties. In her song “Trust in You”, Lauren Daigle sings about how even when things don’t work out the way she thinks they should, she still trusts God. She trusts that he “know[s] what tomorrow brings” and that “There’s not a day ahead [he has] not seen”. In fact she opens the song with these lines which to me are extremely bold: “Letting go of every single dream/ I lay each one down at your feet”. It’s so true; in order to see God work the most in my life, I have to focus on the season I’m currently living and stop wondering about the future. He has it all under control.

 

 

Posted in Bible Study

A Bike Ride

I’d forgotten how exhilarating a bike ride could be! Whew! Even though I wasn’t able to ride my trusty Schwinn (unidentified brake problems), I still feel so powerful after climbing those hills. As I finished though I started thinking about how riding a bike is similar to going through the Christian life.

bike 2

In Philippians, Paul talks about pressing forward towards the goal of being more like Christ. He admits that he’s not perfect nor has he achieved the goal yet, but he keeps moving forward. (Philippians 3:12-21) When I’m biking uphill, I realize just how out of shape and imperfect I am. My initial reaction is just to get off the bike and walk the hill, but determination to succeed keeps pushing me forward, no matter how slowly I move. It should be the same way in my Christian walk. At times I feel stuck in my faith and feels like I’m trodding uphill in my faith. I get unmotivated to maintain a daily time with God because I don’t feel the emotional connection. Still though I must imitate Paul, push forward, and be disciplined.

When I first started riding farther than to the stop sign a block from my house, I often wanted to quit. Not even my pride to keep up with my friends pushed me to keep going. They’d peddle up the foreboding “Walmart” hill, and I’d stop to walk it up. Once I got to the top and found them waiting, I’d feel insignificant and weak. It wasn’t until I started disciplining myself that I realized the satisfaction of pushing myself up a hill and actually making it. The writer of the book of Hebrews says “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) In my spiritual life, it may be difficult to get up those few minutes earlier to read my Bible or say no to friends when they want to hang out during church times, but the rewards of being disciplined in what I know I need in order to maintain a strong relationship with God is always worth it just like the feeling after peddling up a large hill.

After writing this, my bike ride seems even more profitable. Now it has not only enriched my physical self but also my emotional and spiritual self. I’m going to have to fix my favorite bike and take some more bike rides. For now though it’s time to rest my muscles. Even God rested after a period of work.

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Posted in Bible Study

Restart

January 1st often brings about resolutions and promises which the pessimistic side of me says are often broken before the end of January. The optimistic side though always looks forward to a new year because it feels like a new opportunity to restart. Maybe I’ve gotten slack on reading my Bible or maybe I’ve become lazy about getting some form of exercise. Maybe I just need a mental swipe to know that it’s an opportunity to make this year better.

God saw that the Israelites needed this sort of clean swipe. The Israelites weren’t living the life God intended for them to live, and Jeremiah spends his book mourning their behavior and pleading for change. In Jeremiah 25, God allows the Israelites to go into captivity by the Babylonians. I’m sure some of the Israelites were upset with God at this point, but God had a plan. This is exactly the sort of opportunity God was presenting to the Israelites in Jeremiah 29, but he didn’t just present the opportunity. God presented the opportunity with a promise.

In Jeremiah 29, Jeremiah sends a letter to the exiles in Babylon who were following God. He relays the words of God that basically tell them to keep heart. In the well-quoted verse eleven, God says, I have “plans to proper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.” Later he adds that the people will seek him and find him when they seek him with all of their heart (vs. 13). In this, God is saying that he is giving the people a chance to restart. He allowed them to go into captivity as an opportunity to seek him with their full heart. Some of the Israelites needed that.

This set of verses gave me hope in a world and country that seems to be going topsy-turvy. Sometimes I wonder why Jesus hasn’t returned yet, but then I remember that he has promised that he will return. The Israelites probably wondered why he didn’t rescue them sooner, but he promised them 70 years in captivity. God hasn’t given us a specific time frame to be on this earth, but he has promised that he will return and that he has plan that is good. In the meantime, we must continue living out the commands he has given us. If you’ve gotten slack in keeping the commands or even in your relationship with God, take this fresh year as an opportunity to restart. God forgives any time of the year.

 

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Posted in Bible Study, Life

Still Heeding The Signs

A re-post from two years ago: Heed the Signs

As I re-read the Old Testament, I often wonder why Israel kept turning their back on God. Then I realize that they were simply choosing to ignore the signs. Then I look at my own life. Why do I continually struggle with the same sins over and over again? Why can’t I get my act together? The answer is the same. I sub-consciously think, “those rules are only a suggestion. I can do it my way just this once”. Just this once repeats itself over an over. The signs and rules are there for a reason.

And yes, I am still tempted to speed in a construction zone.

The drive back from my brother’s graduation was frustrating. In my mind, taking the Interstate means I can go between 70 and 75 mph. Today though, my route involved numerous sections of construction, which forced me to slow down to 55 and sometimes come to a complete halt. But before this becomes a rant session, let me get to my point.

It would have been very easy to ignore the 55 mph signs because I did not see any cops nearby and the other cars were going at whatever speed they wished. Only my conscience and integrity kept me hovering right below 60 mph. And maybe my paranoia of getting pulled over. If I had not heeded the sign, there could be so many negative consequences, such as tickets (double fine, eek!), wrecks, deaths, etc. It is true that the probability of those things happening is slim, but it wasn’t worth the risk.

The sign was there for a reason.

Recently, a note in my Bible told a story about a (fictional) shark sign at a beach. People get frustrated when they go to the beach and see a sign that says they shouldn’t swim because of potential sharks in the water. They might be angry at the sign itself for being there, when in reality the sign is only a warning and protection from something more dangerous. If they swam in the waters anyway, it is true that they might not encounter sharks at all, but they could also very well come across sharks. The sharks could feel threatened and attack, maiming or killing the swimmers who were simply mad at the sign.

The sign was there for a reason.

Similarly, many non-Christ followers and some Christ followers will complain that the law and rules laid out in the Bible are too constricting in our modern world. This is not a new complaint. Paul dealt with the same thing with the Christians in Rome to whom Romans is addressed. Some complained about the law being unimportant since Christ came, but Paul argues that the law is useful to show him his sin. (Romans 7: 7-8).

In the previous two stories the signs showed me and the beach goers the potential evils in the respective situation: wrecks, tickets, or death, and sharks. The law, written in the Old Testament and lived by Christ in the New Testament, shows us the evil of sin. Paul points out that he would have never have known that coveting is wrong if the law did not show him. The law is there because sin came into existence with Adam and Eve. The law is there to protect us from the consequence of sin, which is eternal death and separation from God.

The problem with this is that sin is so powerful that it warped the image of the law in our minds. Humans for a long time have seen it as something that constricts us from doing what is fun and pleasurable. Humans also sometimes see the law as something that dooms us to death and separation from God if we can’t live the law to a T (Romans 7:13). As Paul points out, the problem is not with the law, which is perfect and protects us if we follow it. The problem is that we are sinful beings. Adam and Eve proved that. They had one restrictive law: don’t eat the fruit on that tree. But they did. Sin is powerful and it rules us if we let it.

Thankfully, we have the laws of the Old and New Testament as a form of protection from sin. What is even better than that is that we have Christ/Holy Spirit/God also as our greatest Protection from sin (Romans 7:24-25). With His power, we are able to resist the power of sin. Thank God!

So now our job is to heed the signs to avoid the messes we get ourselves into when we sin. We can rely on God’s power and strength in order to keep the laws.

The signs (laws) are there for a reason.