Verses for the Day – Romans 12:1-2

I found a slip of paper this morning in my Bible. It’s been there for a number of years, though I don’t often look at it. There were some notes on it that I wrote down one time when I had to give a brief testimony years ago.

It said, “What drew me to God?”

And I had written, “The Word and His Spirit.” Then I explained with this sentence, “Started with diligent study [of the Word] and led to His supernatural invasion [by His Spirit].”

That pretty much sums it up. I remember moving in 2002 to where we live now and starting Bible studies that took me to study the Bible each day. It was regular, it was consistent. I was learning and growing. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering or emotional. It was just consistent, deliberate study of the Bible every day.

Over time, God’s Word began to take root in my life, and He by the power of His Spirit made all that I had studied and was studying come alive to me. Indescribable joy and blessing followed.

The Lord showed me that if I loved Him, I would obey Him (1 John 5:3). But I wouldn’t obey Him and His Word if I didn’t really believe Him. These things (faith, love, obedience) were all connected.

My faith and belief in God would lead me to obey Him which would show my love for Him, and that would lead to blessing.

FAITH leads to—-> OBEDIENCE which shows my —–> LOVE for God, which ultimately brings —-> BLESSING and great JOY.

Maybe it sounds complex, It’s not. This is why I encourage you to read the Bible because that’s where truth is and that’s where these things will begin to grow. You may not see it or feel it at the start, but you keep doing it because you believe that it matters and that it changes you. And God by His Spirit will do the work.

I end this post this morning with two verses from Romans 12:1-2. I looked up the word “beseech” at the beginning, and it means beg eagerly, implore urgently.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

PRAYER: Father, we see that transformation comes by the renewing of our minds. As we renew our minds in Your Word and truth, our lives are changed by the power of Your Spirit and Your Word, leading to joyful hearts and great blessing. Help us today to believe You and that these things are true, to obey You, to love You, to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Random Thoughts

We are having 25-30 students over tonight for dessert, and I am putting off the inevitable final preparations… why do I wait to the last minute?! We are excited to have them coming out. These are students who traveled to Europe and studied there this summer with my husband and some other professors. I have been directed to only have European desserts. So glad Jewel makes those kinds!

I went to a Beth Moore Living Proof Live event yesterday with 6 friends. She spoke on Proverbs 31:26 — “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” The messages were all centered on kindness. I so enjoy Beth’s love for God and His Word. Her passion for Him is contagious and leaves others wanting the same.

My son is learning I Corinthians 13 in school. This was the first passage of Scripture that my husband and I ever memorized together. We were about 16 years old! I don’t even think we were dating at the time! Must have liked each other though to be memorizing Scripture together.

Hearing my son recite this passage has had me thinking about what it means, particularly the last verse: “And now abide faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love.” I had never given any thought to the fact that is seems to say love is greater than faith. It makes sense to me that it’s greater than hope, but faith? But the passage also says if we have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, we are nothing.

It struck me that I so often pray for greater faith, but I don’t often pray for greater love! I’ve spent the last week praying and thinking on these things — the love of God toward us that gives us our love toward others. Then our pastor spoke out of I Corinthians 13 this morning and touched a little bit on this, too. As he pointed out, love seems to be directly against our natural inclinations!

So these thoughts all tie nicely together — love and kindness. I have so many areas in my life that need sanctifying regarding these things. I want to love those around me and be kind to them, not just superficially nice (a completely different thing, as Beth explained). It’s a disposition, not an action; a strength, not a weakness, she pointed out.

I’m so thankful for God’s Word that is true and leads us in the path of life. It is a rich treasure, and I am so thankful for a personal God who loves us and instructs us in these things. I pray I can know His Word and obey Him by the power of His Spirit. I am so needy for Him moment by moment.

Mother-Daughter Tea

Today, my daughter and I attended a Mother-Daughter Tea at our church. It was a sweet time, and she loved it. She seemed so grown up today, in a new dress from her grandmother, sporting a new haircut. I love time spent with each of my children individually.

God keeps driving home to me the point I made in my last post — that He is strong, and I am weak, that I live this life by the power of His Spirit providing me the strength I need, not through my own self effort.

I had the opportunity to go out of town last weekend and visit friends we knew when we lived in Virginia. We had a nice day and a half of visiting before I got sick with a stomach bug! It is not fun to be sick away from home, and I was praying I wouldn’t infect this sweet family. (My friend is pregnant and has a young child, and her husband has a busy job… the last thing I wanted to leave them would be this “gift”!)

I have to say though that the Lord used this time to give me a great deal of sleep and rest and time to read and study for longer periods than I normally have. He continued to speak to me about the topic of my last post and some things He is helping me understand right to my core.

I had the time to read a great book by Andrew Murray entitled Absolute Surrender that my friend had. It was exactly on this topic of living in surrender to God, allowing His Spirit to fill and lead me, and how He is strong when we are weak. I was absolutely weak, recognizing that in this sickness I was experiencing my weakness in a very physical way, but that this is just a picture of how I really always am, whether I feel it or not! I so need God and His power and strength, and I need to trust Him!

Murray described more about this surrender to God:

  • God expects my surrender,
  • God accomplishes my surrender,
  • God accepts my surrender,
  • God maintains my surrender
  • God blesses when I surrender.

Murray says, “I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.” (Philippians 2:13) “Look away from ourselves and look up to God.”

Here are some quotes from Andrew Murray’s book that I loved:

“The Spirit of God has come to make our daily life an exhibition of divine power and a revelation of what God can do for His children.”

“May God grant that the Word may enter into the very depths of our being to search us, and if we discover that we have not come out from the world entirely, if God discovers to us that the self-life, self-will, and self exaltation are there, let us humble ourselves before Him.”

“Why is there not more blessing? We have not honored the Holy Ghost as we should have done. Is there one who can say that that is not true? Is not every thoughtful heart ready to cry: ‘God forgive me that I have not honored the Holy Spirit as I should have done, that I have grieved Him, that I have allowed self and the flesh and my own will to work where the Holy Ghost should have been honored! May God forgive me that I have allowed self and the flesh and the will actually to have the place that God wanted the Holy Ghost to have.'”

“Religious self effort always ends in sinful flesh.”

Murray states that we must:

  • Humble yourself in His sight.
  • Acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self will, self confidence and self effort.
  • Bow humbly before Him in confession of that.
  • Ask Him to bring you into the dust before Him.
  • Then as you bow, accept God’s teaching that in your flesh there dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18) and that nothing will help you except another Life come in.
  • Denying self must every moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession of you.”

So the sickness, though at first glance could have been a temptation to feel disappointment, instead was meant for good, to give me rest, to give me time to think and pray, for God to continue to teach me what He’s been showing me, to give me more opportunity to trust Him. He is so faithful, and I am thankful.

The Spirit-Filled Life

As I’ve reflected on my last post, I think I’ve combined two separate ideas: how God reveals Himself and His character to us and how God speaks to His people. I think one point I was hoping to establish is that God is vast and boundless and not restrained to act just as our minds can understand. He is above the natural, and it’s incredible when you find Him invading your life in supernatural ways.

The way God has most powerfully revealed Himself to me is as my Rock and my strength, which are parallel Hebrew words. This was on April 27 and 28, 2005 (which I wrote about in an earlier post). He is also a God who can speak and act in our daily lives through His Word, prayer, and the power of His Spirit. Since April 28, 2005, He has shown me this again and again, but prior to April 28, 2005, I would have been skeptical and reluctant to believe that.

One example jumps to my mind. A couple of years ago, I was at a friend’s house and we were watching the kids play in her yard while we shared what God was doing in our lives. When we started to pray, she felt led to pray a psalm for my husband. This was not a familiar psalm to me. I thought that was sweet. A few weeks later, I was waking up one morning and my husband had been awake for a while. He said he woke up in the night and felt led to read his Bible. He had been drawn to a particular psalm and couldn’t explain why, but felt like God was showing him this. This was the same psalm my friend had prayed for him a few weeks prior to that.

Those kinds of stories are just unmistakable evidence to my heart of a God who speaks, who is intimately involved in our lives. In many ways, I think I’m writing this blog to recount His work in my life, to remember what He has done, to praise Him — but I also find I want to encourage those who might have grown up in a way similar to me. I not only had no expectation that God would speak to my heart through His Spirit, but I also rejected any notion by anyone else that He did.

But look at the promises of God in the Bible! I was missing something so wonderful, so amazing, and I never even knew! It’s called the Spirit-filled life. It’s not one that’s directed by me, dependent on me. It’s one directed by the God who has saved me and rescued me from death and the power of sin and raised me up with Him, given me new life, and given me the gift of His Spirit! The very moment I believed Him to be more than I thought or understood or could mentally manage, He absolutely revealed Himself to me that this was true!

Another thing I want to clarify is that I am talking about something here that is on the other side of salvation… after we are saved. There is only one way to God… Jesus! His shed blood on our behalf. For those who believe on Him, they are given eternal life and their sins are forgiven. He died on the cross to bear our sin and take our punishment so that we could live. And He was able to do that because He was sinless, fully God and fully man.

But I do believe that many people stop there. They believe the gospel, pray asking God to forgive them and save them, and then go on living the same way. That’s what I did. And I thought I was doing pretty good because I acted nicely, behaved well, and did what I thought was right (in my own eyes) and what I had learned by being in Christian circles. But I was missing so much!!

Christ came to transform us, to mold us into His image, to sanctify us. As we seek Him daily through the Bible and prayer, His Spirit is at work to do these things. We yield our lives to Him, and He fills us with His Spirit. And He is not confined by any limitations that we want to set upon Him.

This morning, I praise God because He loved me and saved me. And I praise Him for opening my eyes to see and know more of Him.

The God Who Can Be Known

“The man who would know God must give time to Him.” A. W. Tozer

I am reading The Divine Conquest by A. W. Tozer, and I’ve been thinking a lot this week about this statement he made early in the book. This has been the key to my knowing God — spending time with Him each day in His Word (the Bible) and in prayer. How incredible to think that we have a God who can be known!

For many years of my life, I learned about God in church and at school, and I believed what I heard. But there were only small periods of time through the years where I would take the time to personally study the Bible on my own. I knew so much intellectually that I didn’t even realize that my heart was far from God. People thought I was nice and I thought I was doing ok.

Once I had children, I spent more time studying parenting books and reading baby magazines than reading my Bible! I was obsessed with having everyone healthy and absolutely fell apart in fear if my son got so much as a fever! I wanted to have complete control over everything, and I wasn’t even aware of the fact that I was desiring so many things instead of God.

When we moved to a new city, I began to study God’s Word. I joined Women’s Bible Study at my church. I studied things like the book of John, the book of Mark, and the book of Judges. I also participated in summer Bible studies with friends where we would typically do a Beth Moore Bible study, such as Jesus the One and Only, where we studied the book of Luke.

It didn’t happen instantaneously, but through the continued study of God’s Word and in prayer, He began to reveal Himself to me in power. No longer was I simply having knowledge of the Bible given to me by someone else; I was beginning to know God more and more and find that He can be known. In fact, He promises that in Hebrews 11:6 — He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

My faith used to be like someone looking in the rear view mirror. I would pray and then after the fact, look back and see what God had done. But now, God is right here with me, making Himself known as I pray about things and speaking to me through the Bible and through His Spirit in me. He walks me through life. He is not absent! He is here in my every day.

So I praise Him for the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus. I praise Him for the Bible. I praise Him for prayer where, through Christ, I can commune with Him. And I praise Him for the gift of His Spirit which is given to those who believe on Him.

These are truly amazing gifts, too wonderful for words, too vast to comprehend, too marvelous to completely understand! But they are real, they are powerful, and they are freely given to those who believe Him and seek His face! Praise You, Lord!