Feeling really tired and groggy this morning. Very little sleep. Massive headache. Completely lacking inspiration. I sit here with my Bible open to Hebrews. I intensely read the introduction that describes the time and place it was written, and the meaning and message contained within. About four verses in, my mind wanders…why am I “studying” Hebrews this morning? Or perhaps the better question would be, what am I avoiding by studying Hebrews this morning? Why am I not reflecting on the real stuff that is on my heart right now? And I’m fairly certain I know the answer. My heart is not good currently. In a lot of ways, it is hurting. I have some serious issues going on in my heart right now and I guess I just don’t really want to face them. I really have some serious work to do on my heart – NO, I need to let go, realize I can’t do the work that needs done, and allow Jesus to work on my heart, because right now, its a bit of an ugly mess. I am ashamed and embarrassed…but I can’t fix it. I have to sincerely admit that my heart is not right, and ask God to work in me…to take it away from me. That is so hard for me to do. Through Christ I have grown so much and have found amazing freedom from all that has held me down in the past…but everyday its like my human nature (the old me) fights my redeemed self for control. My nature is to wall up, crawl into a hole and choose to be numb when things get tough and I am hurting. But the Spirit that lives within me will not allow me to live that way any longer. The Spirit within me prompts me to fight the good fight, and fights for me to break old ways, destroy negative habits and be who I am in Christ. Its a constant battle that rages between my old self and the new me in Christ. But it is surely a fight worth fighting.
Not if…when August 11, 2014
Hebrews 3:15 says “Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.'” This passage is referring to an original passage in Psalm 95, but this morning it really speaks to me. The scripture doesn’t say “Today IF you hear his voice…” It very clearly says when. Today WHEN you hear his voice. So I ask myself…will I be listening for his voice today when he speaks? Will I be in tune with the Spirit and listening for the voice to speak? Or will I allow the noise of the world to drown out what he has for me today? And when I hear his voice speak to me, what will I do with it? Will I follow the prompting of the spirit? (James 4:17 – If you know what you ought to do and don’t do it…). WIll I hear but then decided to do things my own way today?
My prayer this morning is that WHEN I hear the sweet voice of the Spirit today I will listen with an open heart and follow. That I will not be too distracted or caught up in my day to hear the voice that guides me in the right was, but instead I will be so in tune with the Spirit that it drowns everything else out – the doubts, the fears, the negative talk around me. I pray that I will hear and receive what is given to me today…with a willing heart.
Bible Study # 5 How can you sleep right now? August 5, 2014
For this post, I thought I would do things just a little bit differently. I will share the text for the story, and then the discussion questions. I think this will give everyone a chance to really dive into the Word, study it, come up with their own observations and share them through comments. I hope that makes sense.
The story I want to share can be found in 3 of the 4 gospels. Let’s look at it in Luke 8: 22-25. On this day, Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat and to cross to the other side. As they did, Jesus took a nap (justification for my afternoon naps! Even Jesus napped!) A violent storm surrounded the boat…you can read the rest!
1. Jesus napped…do you think this was intentional on Jesus’ part?
2. What does this tell us about the authority of Jesus?
3. What do you think about the way the disciples reacted?
4. Talk about a time that you felt Jesus slept through your storm.
5. What lessons is God teaching us through this story?
Man was made, not man-made August 4, 2014
Originally posted on Brian Suman:
From the beginning of creation, man was made to be the guardian over God’s wonderful works and resources. He was to tend to the garden and make sure that it had appropriate care. Being from the origin, man had not made anything himself. Not a tool, not a wheelbarrow, not anything that would aid him in his tasks or work at hand. You could argue that the first thing man-made was a mistake that would cost them their place in Eden and ultimately God sending them out into the world.
So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. – Genesis 3:23
The definition of cultivate is to try to acquire or develop…
View original 289 more words
Bible Study – #4 “Today” August 1, 2014
The text for this study is taken from Luke 23:39-43. This text is from the crucifixion of Jesus. We don’t normally copy over the exact text but it seemed appropriate this time. Keep in mind, this is text taken while Jesus hung on the cross, between two other “criminals.”
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
For me, there has always been something tragically beautiful about the crucifixion. I realize that sounds a bit morbid but hear me out. A man gave up his life for me. A man was tortured, hung on a cross and died for me. What is not beautiful about that? But that’s not the only beautiful part of this story. He did all of this for everyone, including the thieves that hung beside him.
As I type this, I struggle to find the right words for this study so I’m just going to ramble on (like I do best) about what is so astounding to me, about this story.
Jesus told that criminal that he would be with Jesus TODAY.
Are you hearing me? TODAY.
There was no “I’ll swing by and get you when I come back in three days.” Or “Hey, let me chat with big Papa and we’ll think about it.” Or “Let me think about it, I’m a little preoccupied right now.”
He said TODAY. Right now. As soon as you take your last breath, the next one will be taken in glory.
Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that epic? Doesn’t that give you chills? If it doesn’t, it should and let me tell you why.
God forgives those who ask for it. Instantly. You don’t have to wait, you don’t have to do penance, you only have to ask. BOOM. Done. God just asks that you believe in him. This criminal clearly believed that Jesus was the Messiah. He confessed this with his mouth when he asked those mocking Jesus why they weren’t afraid. Then, he simply asked that Jesus remember him when he got to his kingdom. He acknowledged Jesus was Lord, asked for forgiveness and it was done. Done. Done. Done. Here are a few scriptures you can read on your own time to back this up: 1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19, 2 Corinthians 5:17…I had to Google some of these, I need to be better.
God loves us. It’s true. He loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us.
This small scripture may go unnoticed by most and certainly isn’t really thought of when you think of Jesus’ last moments on the cross and I can understand why. There was quite a bit going on in those last hours of his life but it strikes something in me (and chokes me up with tears, and causes me to rant to Brian and Jules about how awesome this moment was) that he says “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
This makes my heart sing. Crazy, unfathomable love. It’s hard for me to understand but I can relate to this criminal in the sense that I need redemption. I need to be saved. I need a savior. I need this kind of love. I need someone to love me beyond what I’ve done, beyond the mistakes I’ve made, beyond what I think of myself.
1. What do you think paradise means in this context?
2. Put yourself in the shoes of this criminal – what do think his emotions/thoughts were after Jesus said this to him?
3. Think of another promise God has made in the Bible that has stuck out to you. Explain why.
4. What kind of criminal do you think you are?
5. What does “today” mean to you?
Bible Study #3 – “Neither Do I” July 29, 2014
The text for this study is taken from John 8:1-11. There are debates about whether this story was in the original (greek) gospel of John, or whether it was added 100 years or so later. That debate is not the purpose of this post from my viewpoint. This happens to be one of my favorite stories (I think I say that about a lot of stories from the Bible).
Jesus was at the Temple one morning. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They most certainly understood the law and what it said the punishment was – however they ignored the fact that the law said that both parties should be punished…they only dragged the woman to the temple. Hmm.
So here is this woman. Caught in the act…and dragged into a large crowd of people. I can’t imagine what she must have felt. Barely clothed. Terrified for her life. Completely shamed and humiliated.
These men though were only using the woman as a pawn in their game to trip Jesus up and trap him into saying something they could use against him (they wanted him dead). Now this makes me really not like these guys. They are using someone to accomplish their own agenda. Not just using her, but publicly humiliating her and threatening to stone her – all to make their point! Jesus was the real target, she was just their weapon of choice.
At this point Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Some scholars suggest that he was stalling for time as he figured out how to handle the situation. Perhaps he was doodling – some people do this when they think. I’ve never much thought of Jesus as a doodler. I like to think he was just taking his time – giving the teachers and Pharisees time to squirm and get really anxious. At this point he stands back up – and the teachers demand an answer from him. “The law of Moses says stone her. What do you say?” I’m sure at this point the Pharisees are feeling pretty good about themselves, thinking they finally got him on this one.
Jesus answers by saying, “The one who has never sinned should throw the first stone.” (As I read this story over and over it came to me…isn’t Jesus “the one” who has never sinned?) And then he bent down and began writing again. At this point it is believed by some that he was writing the names and sins of each of this woman’s accusers (he’s Jesus – he certainly knew what they were guilty of). I truly hope that is what was happening here. I picture him thinking “Alright, boys…if this is how you want to play it – let’s go” I can see Jesus waiting for their reply. Looking at each one of them and then back down to his list in the dust, and then back to each one of them.
One by one the men dropped their stones and left the scene. Of course they didn’t mind exposing this woman’s sin – but when it came to their own sins begin exposed they were gone! They could very clearly see and point out the sins of others, but could not see their own sin.
Finally just Jesus was left with the woman. She had to be wondering what in the world would happen next. Still scared and humiliated. Jesus walked to her and asked her “Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’
“No, Lord.” (She called him Lord…)
“Neither do I…Go and sin no more.” He didn’t yell at her. Shame her. Tell her how worthless she was. Call her an adulterer. He did acknowledge that she had sinned, but in those simple three words…Neither do I, he offered forgiveness and compassion and hope. Jesus saw her with love, not judgment. He told her to go and leave her old life behind and that there is true life in him. Jesus was much more concerned about the woman’s future than her past. In those three words, Jesus freed her from her past. She was understood by Jesus rather than condemned by him. Rather than being stoned, she was saved.
1. Think about something that has caused you shame. What does it feel like to even think of that thing? Now imagine if it were publicly announced.
2. This woman was judged by the religious leaders and the Pharisees? Have you ever felt judged this way? Have you ever judged someone else?
3. What do you think about the fact that the woman called Jesus “Lord”?
4. Tell about a situation where you have seen God show mercy in your life instead of letting you suffer the consequences of your actions. How has God shown mercy in your past circumstances?
5. Describe what you think was going through the woman’s mind as Jesus wrote in the dust.
6. In what practical ways can we be merciful to others in our daily lives?
Team Me July 26, 2014
And we wonder what’s wrong with society today…Last night I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that had the school’s football logo (not Edgewood) on the front, and on the back the shirt read “Team Me”. If you are the person that was wearing that shirt and are reading this, I apologize…and this is no reflection on you personally. Every time I saw those words I just kept thinking that there was something not right about them. I mean, I know I’m a girl but, first of all, from a football standpoint, it’s pretty much a team sport, right?! But as the phrase settled in my mind, I know that it’s really about something so much bigger. In our society we are bombarded with the idea that life is really all about ME. Life here in America is about looking out for #1 and stepping on anyone who gets in the way. We are teaching our children (and ourselves) that WE are the center of the universe and that what WE are doing, wearing, eating, is of utmost importance to the rest of the world. If our society was not so driven on being so self-centered, would we be overwhelmed with a non-stop barrage of SELFIES?
This concept of TEAM ME is so counterintuitive to the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus says, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, emphasis mine). The world says “You can’t be number 1 if you’re following.”
In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” If anybody out there would understand dying to self it would be Paul. He was a zealous persecutor of Christians who believed whole-heartedly in what he was doing…until Jesus showed him the true way to life. And that true way to life was in death. No longer living for oneself and one’s selfish desires. Not needing to be number 1.
In the book of John are written the words that I must remind myself each and every day when I become selfish and want my way rather than following the way God has planned. “He must become greater, and I must become less and less.” Is this what we are teaching our kids? There IS someone greater out there. And we must make him the leader over us as we become less. His desires for us become more, our selfishness becomes less. His way in our lives become more, our plans become less. His love in our hearts for others, our love for ourselves becomes less.
There is no room for TEAM ME if we want to follow Jesus.