Gardening is one of my pleasures in life. This spring I’m busy transplanting rose bushes, adding hydrangeas, and calculating what herbs to grow this season. It’s my version of “crop rotation.” As we dig the holes for our shrubs I’ve learned the importance of digging a very large hole, and since we live at the coast, it’s important to amend our sandy soil with rich, fertile loam. If we don’t take that precaution our plants will never thrive. Continue reading “Soil Conditioning”
I know I’m not alone as I look around and wonder where truth is. The days of issues being black and white have disappeared and been replaced by relativism and vagueness. It has even penetrated the church, as many churches no longer stand on truth these days.
In Ephesians 6:14, the apostle Paul begins illustrating the full armor of God. The first piece of armament he describes is the belt of truth: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” Merriam-Webster.com defines truth as a “transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality.” Furthermore, Ephesians 1:13 clarifies that the word of truth is the gospel of our salvation. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truth.
I’m seeing many people wandering around with their pants falling down (literally and spiritually) these days.
Are your pants sliding down because your belt has become unbuckled?
There’s a reason Paul lists the belt first, as the rest of the armor will not stay in place without it.
What is the foundation of my life?
What am I basing truth on?
What do I fall back on during times of difficulty?
Are my decisions lining up with God’s truth?
These are challenging times in our culture and in our churches. God’s Word is clear about our individual responsibility to accept and share truth. Only when we hold steadfast with our belts of truth buckled, will we be able to successfully live in this world and be an instrument of change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). His Word is truth and never changes. Therefore we can stand on His truth, and be sure of tomorrow and that we’ve won the victory.
Father God, Thank you for providing truth through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Help me to stand firm in this world, with my belt completely buckled, and represent your truth to others around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
John 14:6 (NIV): “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
Ephesians1:13a (NIV): “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”
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Excitement bubbled inside me as my husband and I finally made the decision to redo the majority of our master bathroom. Then we faced the dilemma of where to start. A multitude of decisions piled up in front of us and the choices seemed overwhelming. Glass shower enclosures, bathtubs, tile, paint—the list appeared endless. It became obvious before tackling this project we needed a game plan. Understanding exactly what our needs were was vital. This encompassed determining exactly what needed replacement and what would fit within the space we had. Only then did we proceed to look at and determine which models/tiles/fixtures fit our budget and needs, making our selections from those options. And finally, we applied our choices to our remodel through the contractor we hired.
Breaking down our remodel into several stages guaranteed us the success we desired to complete our project. And so it is with studying the Bible. At first it’s overwhelming, but by formulating an approach to scripture you can successfully study and understand God’s Word. As we read scripture and search for its meaning and application to our life, I perceive three stages:
Discern, Decipher, and Digest God’s Word.
Psalm 119 displays the heart of the Psalmist as he declares the priority of God’s Word in his life. How I desire to have the same nature—a heart yearning for God’s Word and placing it first in my life.
Before we read and consider scripture, we first need to discern what our goal is or more simply put, where we’re headed. Discern means “to detect with the eyes and to come to know or recognize.” Verse 18 of Psalm 119, asks the Lord to, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” A good first step for all of us is to seek discernment about what to study in order to see these “wonderful things.” Perhaps you’ve felt the Lord’s leading to participate in a group Bible study, Sunday school, or home fellowship using a predetermined course of study. Or, you know the Holy Spirit is nudging you to investigate a particular book of the Bible or do a topical study on your own.
I desire to recognize treasure in God’s Word, so I pray for discernment and awareness as I read and consider scripture in the course of study He has laid out for me. Verse 125 takes us deeper with, “I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes,” which leads us into the next stage.
Merriam-Webster.com defines decipher as, “To make out the meaning or interpret the meaning of.” Thus, when we decipher a passage of scripture we succeed in understanding or interpreting it. Verse 130 conveys this process with, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and give you insight, when you read your Bible. Additionally, there are many resources to take advantage of in our research, and a reliable Bible commentary, dictionary, handbook, and atlas are indispensable. With these materials accessible online, we have information readily available as we delve into scripture.
When we inspect and decipher God’s Word, he will give us understanding. Verse 27 promises, “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders,” which transitions us into the following phase.
Our final stage involves digesting His Word. When we digest something, we meditate on it. I’ve heard different pastors and Bible teachers compare meditating on God’s Word to a cow chewing its cud. A cow will lie in the field all day savoring the food he has eaten. As we assimilate and properly digest scripture, the “nutrients” are absorbed in us, and we will be ready to apply the truth we have learned. As we go about our day we can contemplate truth. Verses 15-16 declare, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”
A thoughtful, step-wise approach to our bathroom remodel brought about our desired result. In the same way, by discerning, deciphering, and digesting God’s Holy Word, we can discover truth and apply it to our lives. May we all aspire for a heart devoted to scripture as that of the Psalmist who penned Psalm 119.
Father God, I desire to know more of your Word, but sometimes I look at the Bible and feel overwhelmed. Please assist me to discern what to study, enable me to decipher scripture, and finally help me to digest your truths. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Psalm 119:36 (NIV): “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”
Psalm 119:133 (NIV): “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”
Psalm 119:148 (NIV): “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”
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A brightly shining sun filtered in to the screened porch where a group of us had gathered on a nice spring afternoon. As we were sipping our sweet tea, one of the women was sharing some special things which had happened to her recently. It was a normal conversation, but it didn’t take long for another lady to say, “That’s awesome!” Hearing that phrase bothered me, and I quietly cringed.
We speak words carelessly these days, tossing them around lightly. While describing a vacation, a new purchase, or an event someone witnessed, often the typical response is, “Awesome!” I find my spirit disturbed, as
Awesome is a word we should reserve for God.
Merriam-Webster.com defines awesome as, “Causing feelings of fear and wonder; extremely good.” If we unpack it further, the definition of awe is, “An emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.” This tells me our sacred living God who reigns with authority is awesome.
One of the first Biblical uses of the word awesome occurs in Exodus 15:11 when Moses and the Israelites were singing praises to God for their deliverance from Pharaoh and his army. “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (NIV) This praise paints a picture of God’s attributes, and gives us a glimpse of His awesomeness.
Everything about God is awesome, and several distinctions which stand out are:
First, God’s deeds or works are awesome. God created the heavens and the earth; He orchestrates events and accomplishes miracles. I stand amazed at his workmanship. “Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:5, NIV) Even in today’s crazy world, God’s mighty hand is evident as we view His creation and witness what He does in our lives.
Second, God’s love is awesome. God’s love for us is complete and perfect, and we see in the Old Testament the prophet Nehemiah praying, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands.” (Nehemiah 1:5, NIV) God’s love is perfectly demonstrated when He came to earth as Jesus Christ to die for our sins. “He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name.” (Psalm 111:9, NIV) God’s gift of salvation to each of us who believe in Him epitomizes His love for us. Now that is awesome.
Third, God’s name is awesome. We are to hold His name in high regard, treat it with respect, and cherish it in our heart. “Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy.” (Psalm 99:3, NIV) As I go about my day, I praise God’s sacred name for He alone is holy. Nothing else comes close.
God’s works, love, and name are important considerations when we choose our words and form our conversations. I pray I will select my words carefully, and remember awesome is a word reserved for God.
Father God, You alone are awesome. Your deeds are magnificent, your love is complete and perfect, and your name is Holy. Please help me to treat your name with the esteem it deserves. You are mighty and awesome, and I thank you for your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Exodus 34:10b (NIV): “The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.”
Psalm 65:5 (NIV): “You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.”
Psalm 68:35 (NIV): “You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.”
Psalm 47:2 (NIV): “How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!”
Deuteronomy 10:17 (NIV): “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”
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Perched on the rim of the birdbath the little bird took tiny, delicate sips of water. Reflecting on what I was seeing, my thoughts shifted to my friend’s dog, Angus, deliberately plunging his whole head into his water bowl and delightedly slurping it all up. Angus’s technique was sloppy, but he delved in with gusto, while the bird gingerly took a meager amount of water. Is this how we approach taking in God’s Word? Are we reading just a small snippet of scripture here and there or are we drenching ourselves in the Bible?
We’ll never be able to confront the crazy world we live in if we don’t surround ourselves in His Word. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the [woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV) Life is difficult and today’s culture continually shifts what truth is. We no longer hold veracity in high esteem. Our world is blurred; borders defining right and wrong are hazy. How is a woman of faith able to take her stand and live her life admirably?
Only by saturating ourselves in God’s Word will we be able to discern truth.
Then, we can apply Godly principles and live them out.
Immersing yourself in scripture can, at times, get messy. God’s Word will penetrate our souls, which often means we will need to clean things up in our lives. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT) When the Word infiltrates and reveals those things about ourselves we’d rather keep below the surface, it’s painful. But this is where God’s cleansing power can take place.
Researchers tell us when a dog gulps water, their tongue acts as a ladle. I imagine myself taking in God’s Word just like a dog’s tongue laps up water. Going even further, backsplash inundates dogs when they drink. It’s like a flood. I choose bathing myself in God’s Word as I go forth each day to live it to the fullest. The only way I’ll know the Word is by immersing myself in the Word.
Father God, Help me to surround myself in your Holy Word. I need to consume all the truths your Word reveals in order to go in the direction you desire for me. Please empower me to take in, absorb, and apply your Word in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, NIV)
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4, NIV)
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11, NIV)
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NLT)
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