Sacred Scripture – what’s the point?

My poor, neglected blog…I wonder if I can remember how to do this.

I have been mostly on track with my resolution to read through the entire Bible in 2017. I fell off the wagon a few times when life got a little busier than my schedule could compensate for, and I am still playing catch up, but if my calculations are correct, I should be finishing the New Testament in a couple weeks, and the Old Testament by the end of December.

This is a first for me on several levels. One, I have never kept a New Year’s Resolution any deeper than the resolution not to have any resolutions. Two, I have been a baptized Christian, attended Bible School, Christian School, and attended church faithfully since I was six years old; I have read a lot of Scripture, done countless Bible studies, even memorized large portions of Scripture, but have not ever read through the entire Bible, until this year. It is SO COOL to see the big picture. All those passages that I have committed to memory take on a whole new level of understanding when read in the context of the whole story of salvation. If you have not done this, I highly encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to memorize portions of Scripture. You will be amazed at the times those words that you have put to memory will come to mind in a season of need.

So…what is the point of reading and memorizing Scripture?

There are several (Biblical) reasons why reading and memorizing Scripture is beneficial.  I will list the first few that came to my mind, and if you have others, I would love to see some discussion here at New Things…leave me a comment, and let’s chat!

Psalm 119:11 I treasure you word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Romans 1:16 says that Scripture is God’s power that leads every believer to salvation.

Hebrews 4:12 states that Scripture is active and powerful; sharper than a double-edged sword, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:11 reassures us that God’s Word does not return to Him void (or wasted, or empty), but accomplishes all that He desires, and will prosper according to His intentions.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 instructs us that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God; it is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, to make us competent, and equip us for every good work.

Sacred Scripture is God’s recorded voice. It is His words, given to us, His creation, for the sake of a relationship!  The very thought!  The same God who created this world and everything in it wants a relationship with me!

He speaks His words to me in these Scriptures…warning, comforting, and reminding me of His loving will for me, His own beloved child.

Seeking God through Sacred Scripture in faith, hope, and love is part of prayer. We are much more familiar with the prayer that WE speak to God, but can easily forget that prayer is a two way street.  He is speaking to us as well…prayer is both speaking and listening…just like any healthy relationship.

How would you feel if your best friend monopolized all your conversations with all the details of her life, her drama, her joys, sorrows, and various issues, but never gave you the chance to get a word in edgewise? It would get old.  Isn’t that what we do to God?  No wonder He seems so quiet sometimes, huh?

Reading and learning Sacred Scripture is our loving response to the God of the Universe who stepped down from His glory for the sake of a conversation with His creation. Seeking Him and His will through His Word is our response to His initiation of a relationship with Him. It is us affirming that what He has to say to us is important, and in obedience, we enter into His Presence by opening the door, His Word.

It is no surprise, then, that Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1), and also “the Door” (John 10).

We enter into the Presence of God through Christ (Hebrews 10), who boldly stated that His very words are spirit and life (John 6:63). When we treasure God’s Word in our hearts, it becomes active and powerful in us and discerns our innermost thoughts and intentions of our heart. Jesus, the Word,  is God’s power in us, leading us to eternal life with Him. When we treasure Him in our hearts, He will accomplish everything that God wills in our lives, and none of it will not return void–or empty–or wasted to the Father.

Jesus gave us an example of how to rightly use Sacred Scripture to overcome temptation. Rich Mullins referred to this as “quoting Deuteronomy to the devil”. When Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, he responded with Sacred Scripture. We can too! When we are tempted to doubt the love of God, we can pull up a defense of the love of God from His very words to us in Sacred Scripture. When fearful circumstances arise, and we are tempted to fret, we can answer with confidence, “The Lord is my helper!” and be assured that His Word is true…because He cannot lie. We can actually use Scripture to retrain our brain, did you know that? In fact, we are INSTRUCTED to do so.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

When our minds are renewed, we can understand what God wants from us.

How do we renew our minds? How can we hide God’s Word in our hearts? This is what I have been asked to share, and hope to so in the coming weeks. I believe the first step is the simplest, ask Him to plant and grow His Word. As you seek Him, He promises to be found. Make yourself available and ready to hear and obey what He tells you in His Word.

A disclaimer here: ATTENTION! Reading and memorizing God’s Word will do you NO GOOD if you are not willing to do what He tells you in it.

If you are not ready to obey His Word, memorizing it will only make you headsmart…(and probably obnoxious to others) and you will miss the mark of storing it in your heart by 18 inches.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have not hidden from us, but have revealed yourself and your will to us through your Holy Scriptures.  Thank you that they are a lamp for our our feet and a light for our journey.  Teach us to read and obey what you have spoken to us. Comfort us in our sorrows with the consolations contained there and help us to speak forth your Word at appropriate times to build up your body, the Church here on earth. Most of all, Lord, we ask that your Word will guide us into doing your will. May we be doers of your word, and not hearers only as James instructed. In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we ask, for your glory only. Amen.

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Letting Go of the Old

Did you ever need a reset?

I do.  I’m in a slump as of late, and need to reset, regroup, and refocus.

I have come to a place in my life, where I’m seeing things more clearly, experiencing God’s presence and hearing Him speak to my heart in ways I have only dreamed of; and at the same time, I feel an anxiety in my spirit…a simmering frustration that occasionally bubbles up and spills out of my mouth in biting words I don’t really mean to say, and hot tears that defy my own ideas of stoic self-discipline.

I know that a large part of my problem is  my own “all or nothing” attitude.  I find something that I love to do, and all sense of balance goes out the window…I throw myself 100% into the new thing that I love, and forget to maintain the essential disciplines that keep my little world turning here.  Facebook, which was intended to be a TOOL to keep me in contact with my children, has turned into a vice for me.  I lose all track of time, and find it difficult to walk away…as a result, my relationships and responsibilities have suffered.  I think this is at least partiality the culprit in my bubbling anger…I’m irritated at myself, and feeling lazy and unmotivated to change, so I surf around on Facebook…escaping what I know I need to do, for the sake of one more article, one more comment, one more share…until I’ve wasted another afternoon instead of doing what I know I need to do.

Anyway, until I can find some semblance of self control again, I’m disabling my Facebook, and re-vamping my schedule to reflect a more balanced list of priorities.  I hope to be reading more and journaling again, which hopefully will lead to some new blog posts here.  My posts here will no longer show on Facebook, as my personal page there will be no more.  Please bookmark NewThings if you wish to follow.  I don’t know how long I’ll be MIA on FB, but would appreciate your prayers in the meantime.

Blessings.

Let My Heart Be The House

There are steadfast hearts that still beat strong
In the valley of their torment
There are hearts with walls built all around
Misfortune and pain to prevent
There are mended  hearts in the aftermath
of healing from sorrow and pain
But let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
Let my will to yours comply
Your plans that are good, meet the hopes that I had
As you set to purify.
I cannot fulfill my hopes and dreams
By trying to dodge Your plan
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

I keep in my heart that’s become your abode
Soothing balm for the traumas of strife
Wonderful words filled with healing and hope
Oh your wonderful words of life!
I ponder these words and lean closer to hear
Whispers of your infinite plan
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

I know there are deep seated habits in there
And flashbacks of long ago frights
That cannot coexist with the love and the grace
That dwell in immaculate light
And so I present, with complete confidence
This heart, to redeem for your own
Make it into a house that becomes your abode
For the sake of your will alone

Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
Make my will to yours comply
Take the good, take the bad, take the weak and the strong
Wise, foolish – purify
Let me take my seat at your nail scarred feet
As you take up your domain
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign

L Hedges
6-2015

Common Sense – Less of me

common sense 2

This is the perfect reminder for me, at a perfect time.  I love how God does that.

Have you ever been misread?  Misheard?  Misunderstood?  What is it about being wrongly accused that makes me wince from the pain, doubled over like I’ve been slugged in the gut?

Pride.

…and not just any pride, but the spiritual kind…the kind that envisions myself in a very different light than what others are perceiving in me…and it hurts…my pride…to think that I am not all that, like I thought I might have been…like I was trying to be.

And the funny thing is, I’m usually more thick-skinned than that.  Criticism usually just rolls off, but this time, it hurt me…to think that I was not showing Jesus to others.

I was in Mass on Sunday, and I was pouring out my heart to God.  How I desire for Jesus to live in and through me.  It is my deepest longing to show Jesus to others by my choices, my attitude, my heart-cries.

Lord, I want you to be in me, and shine through me, so that others will see you…and it humbles me to hear that is not the case.

Wanna know what He said to me?  I heard him, plain as day:

Find yourself in Me, Lyn.  

Focus on remaining in Me, and let me worry about who I reveal myself to.

Wow.

I was so worried about showing Jesus to others, I had missed the point that I cannot bear any fruit, unless I am found in Him.

It’s not about what others see, it’s all about being FOUND in Him…by Him…for His glory, not my own.

I can’t tell you how freeing this thought has been for me.

Lord, let me be found in You.  Reveal your will to me, and welcome me into the life beat of Your heart.  Empty me of my spiritual pride, and fill me with Your Holy Presence.  Give me Your thoughts, guide me in Your paths, teach me Your ways.

Balance

balanceThis word, how I wish for it, and chase it, and fail at it.  I call it the “b” word, because it is the nasty word that always springs up when I feel like I have lost it.  I’ve been thinking of this “b” word a lot lately, as I have time to think and plan, and dream.  I came up with an acronym for it, as a follower of Christ, I see “balance” being defined as the Beautiful Arrangement (of) Life Activities, Necessary Commitments, (and) Emotions.  It is the ability to arrange, prioritize, and joyfully accomplish the Lord’s calling and will for our lives.

In other words, if I’m happy at home, keep an immaculate house, have clothed and fed my family, but don’t follow through on the outside things I’ve committed to do, I’m imbalanced.  If I joyfully serve and busy myself with the Lord’s work, but neglect the needs of my family, I’m out of balance.   I can have the perfect plan, and can make it to all my appointments on time, but, if I’m out of control and angry all the time, I’ve lost that balance.  And it’s important to remember, that God has not called me to the same commitments to which he has called my sister, neighbor, daughter, or friend.  Comparing myself with them is an effort in futility, it will not get me where I need to be in accomplishing His will for my life.  My eyes need to stay on Him, for focus, balance and peace.

I would appreciate your prayers for the development of balance in my life…because this season of waiting is quickly coming to an end, and I’m going to need it!

 

 

 

Prayer Journal – Let Thy Kingdom Come

kingdom comeWhen Mary and Joseph “lost” Jesus, and “found” him in the synagogue teaching the teachers, they asked why he would behave this way and cause them anxiety.  If we want to follow and imitate Him,  His answer should give us a clue to our mission.  He answered;  “didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2)

As His followers, we need to be about our Father’s business.  When we pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we are recognizing that His will in heaven is our business here on earth, and when we pray for His Kingdom to come, we are lining ourselves up with and agreeing with His will for His Kingdom.  If we are boldly praying for His Kingdom to come, it would behoove us to know what His kingdom looks like.  I think we get a great insight into this by the example Jesus set for us in His prayer  in John 17.

According to this passage, His will is:

  • …that He be glorified in me so that He can bring glory to the Father.
  • …that I know Him.  And as a result of knowing Him, I have eternal life in Him.
  • …that we (His followers) be one, as He and the Father are one…His will is unity in the Spirit.
  • …to have His joy made complete in me.
  • …that I would be sanctified in His word, that is truth.
  • …that the world will know God loves them and will believe Jesus was sent from God by looking at me, and seeing my relationship in Christ.
  • …that God’s love will be in me, and that Jesus Himself will be in me.

thy will

Here I wrote out my favorite answer to the question “What does God want me to do?  What is His will for me?”  I actually learned to sing this Scripture when I was young, and it has never left me.

You can read more of my thoughts on this here.

earth_heaven

I was meditating on this part of the verse as John 17’s words about unity and oneness with the Father, Son, and one another reverberated through my mind, mingled with parts of the Apostle’s creed.  His will (according to John 17) is that we be one…and according to this model of prayer that He gave us, we are to pray that His will be done on earth, as in heaven.  He has one body, and we are all part of one another, here on earth as well as in heaven.

This is a vivid picture of the communion of the saints that is taught and professed in the apostles creed.  Though they have gone from this life on earth to REAL life, eternal life in heaven, a departed saint is still part of the “body of Christ”.  Dying has not disconnected them from Christ’s body of believers, otherwise, where would they go?  Christ only has one body, and it is comprised of those here on earth, as well as those in heaven.

I believe they are part of that cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 that is watching and cheering us on in our journey (the race), and they can and do continue to pray to the Father for us.  They haven’t left or been removed from His body, they are still active participants in His will at the feet of “our Father in heaven”, just as we are present in His body, the church, here on earth.  We are still one body, and we are held together, connected in purpose and spirit, by the Son, in whom we find unity one with another, as He prayed we would.

Our Father

Petitions

His Prayer For Us (Part 2)

John 17: 4-19

We’ve established context, and we’ve talked about the first three verses of John 17.  After asking to be glorified for doing the work His father gave Him, He turns his attention to the second main part of this prayer, that is focusing specifically on praying for His disciples.

Here Jesus affirms that these disciples:

  • were given to Him by God the Father from the world
  • have kept God’s word
  • know that everything Jesus told them is from God
  • have received His words
  • know the truth that God sent Jesus, and know that He came from God

He asks on behalf of the disciples that God has given him, and then states that they belong to the Father.  This sets up the next part of this passage where Jesus claims to be one with God the Father, boldly stating “what’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine”, then testifies that they (the disciples that God gave to Him from the world) have glorified Him, the Son.

Are you catching all the glorifying going on so far?  The disciples have glorified Jesus, Jesus glorifies the Father, and asks that the Father glorify Him.  That is a lot of glory being passed back and forth.  As He reminds the Father again of the faithful work He has done with them so far, Jesus requests four specific things for His disciples:

  • for their protection
  • for their unity (or oneness)
  • for His joy to be made complete in them
  • for their sanctification

I wonder what would happen if we, the Body of Christ, began to faithfully pray Jesus’ prayer here, each for the other.  I want to add this into my prayer book so that I can remember it.  Can you imagine, if we prayed for protection and unity like we prayed for our health, or our finances?  Or for our brothers and sisters to have God’s joy made complete in them?  How about the big five-syllable word there?  The million dollar word, sanctification.  Nobody even talks like that anymore, maybe we should know what it means before we start putting it on our brothers and sisters in Christ…and ourselves!

Sanctify, according to Merriam Webster has four possible meanings, that all kind of go together, when we are talking about the process in our lives.

  1. to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use (consecrate).
  2. to free from sin (purify).
  3. a : to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to b : to give moral or social sanction to
  4. to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)

Sanctify them in your truth — I never realized how packed those five words were until tonight.  I’m still letting them sink in.

To put legs on this phrase…Jesus was asking that His followers be set apart for a particular use (in context, I would say for the purpose of bringing Him glory), that we would be free from sin (made pure), and free from being violated, kept sacred and respected.  Because we live in a fallen world, this is a process…every day, every hour, moment by moment, we have to be “sanctified” as we walk out our walk.

If this were a real ladies retreat, I would have placed at your tables a 1/2 pt. Mason jar filled with M&M’s to remind you of your need for His sanctifying power in your life “Moment by Moment”  If you are so inclined, you can make one for yourself, tie a pretty bow or a piece of rafia around the lid, and never see a bag of M&M’s the same way again.  🙂

if I were to imitate the Lord’s prayer for His disciples, it might sound something like this:

Father in heaven, my brothers and sisters are in this world that misunderstands and hates us because of our love and devotion to You; guard and protect us as we strive to be in it without adopting its standards to our lives.  Keep us free from sin and safe from the traps that the enemy sets for us, as we follow in your steps.

Help us to realize that we are here for one another, and bind us together in Your  perfect love, so that we can all be one in Your Spirit, as you are one with the Father.

Lord, we know that this world is not our home, and we are trusting you to make your joy complete in us as we focus on our future hope with you in heaven.  But while we are here, Lord, sanctify us.  Cleanse us and make us pure.  Set us apart, make us sacred, keep us from being violated, help us do the right thing, make us holy and ready to accomplish your perfect will in your truth. Your word is truth, hide it in our hearts, and keep us mindful of your truth and our purpose.

In the precious Name of Jesus, who set the example for us to follow,  Amen.