Do you Have a Moldable Spirit? (Read Bible Thru Week #3)

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 2.59.11 PMThere is an underlying theme throughout scripture we know is there. For some reason, we miss the personal application on a certain level, and even seem to be okay with it. Once it is pointed out, you begin to see it all over the Bible.

The theme is the importance of having a supple, soft, moldable spirit, and living out that reality in your life.

Scripture constantly points out the importance of living out our faith. I’m not talking about the easy stuff – going to church, tithing, mission trips. It’s the DAILY walk, day in, day out, when no one is looking. What we think. What we murmur under our breath. Gossiping. Slandering. Holding on to jealousy, anger, resentment. Letting judgement trump grace. Not having time to be kind because we are in a hurry. Ignoring gentleness. Being unforgiving because we have forgotten that God has forgiven us. Being self-focused rather than God-focused.

Several scriptures this week point out the importance of living out our faith by having a moldable spirit.

Day 15 – Matthew 10:38-39 Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me isn’t worthy of me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of me will find it.

BECAUSE… consciously taking up our cross EVERY day molds us.

Day 16 – Proverbs 2:20 Keep to the path of righteousness, AND Matt 11:29 (Jesus talking) Take up my yoke and learn from me.

BECAUSE… righteous living and learning more about God’s teachings molds us.

Day 18 – Proverbs 3:1-2 My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.

BECAUSE… keeping God commands molds us.

Day 19 – Matthew 12:33 … a tree is known by its fruit…

BECAUSE… being fruitful everyday is a constantly molding experience, making us more like Christ.

Striving to live out our faith daily must be a constant on the Christian’s heart, mind, and soul. It keeps us supple, gentle, teachable for the kingdom. We should realize the importance of living out our faith every morning, and commit daily to live in every way possible for the glory of God.

That said, let me balance a few things. First, how we live doesn’t save us. Only faith in Jesus saves from sin. How we live also doesn’t condemn us. There is nothing we can do that will keep us from the love of God when we are seeking him wholeheartedly. Just as no act is good enough to bring us to Him, no act is bad enough when we come in repentance for Him to reject us.

So why be moldable and live out our faith? Because it is how we show our love for God. Everything we have is from Him. The one thing we do have is our will. Choosing to follow Him it is a form of worship. When we choose to reject His ways, it is a form of idolatry.

Harsh, but true.

So this week, be aware of having a moldable spirit.  I also challenge you to begin to highlight verses in your Bible that mention living our your faith. It is everywhere! You’ll realize this as your Bible gets lit up with your highlighting pen. And, just as your pages become brighter, I hope that you too will shine God’s love further and further into the darkness and be effective for Him.

Generosity

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 1.50.28 PMMatthew 6:19-24 is all about how we should view money. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but it is! We read this passage on January 8th, so if you want to, get out your Bible now and re-read it, or, you can just read it below. It’s actually in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 2“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Now, I LOVE the Sermon on the Mount!!! Matthew 5-7 is packed full of amazing teachings. There’s a verse or two in todays scripture that can seem random in its placement. I’ve bolded what I’m talking about. Directly before it, Jesus is teaching not to collect treasures here on earth. Then, directly after it, he goes back to that concept and and tells us we can’t serve God and money. So… why would Jesus talk about light and eyes in the middle of a money discussion?

Because he was using a Hebrew idiom! The common theme is consistent in all five of these verses. We just miss it because our expressions are different from Jesus’ day.

In Jesus time, if someone had a “good eye” it meant they were generous.
Having a “bad eye” meant someone was selfish.

So, the opening thought is for us not to store up treasures here on earth. Then STAYING IN THAT SAME CONCEPT, Jesus says we should be generous. When a person is generous their whole body is filled with light.  In Hebrew, the whole body means your whole person. Not just your physical body, it’s your spirit – who you are.

When you are generous, you live in the light. Your whole person is seen and exposed. It is good, and Godly. When a person has a bad eye, they are selfish. As a result, their spirit is full of darkness. They are not being Godly because they are not thinking of others.

You could paraphrase the first verse like this: How you give to others shows who you are. If you are generous, you are Godly. If you are selfish, you are not Godly.

Brutal, right?
Let’s do the same thing with the next verse.

It says, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness. Using what we have learned about this verse, it could be paraphrased as…

If the good you do comes out of a selfish spirit, then your selfishness is worse than you realize.

We need to be sure the good we do is not for our benefit. We should never give out of manipulation or a desire for power. That is not true generosity. It is selfishness. And selfish generosity… isn’t generosity at all.

What popped out to you in this weeks reading? Are there any verses that are echoing your mind this week?

The Beginning, Time, and Obedience

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 7.46.45 AMMost folks can quote the first few words of the Bible. “In the Beginning…”,  but those words carry a subtle nuance we can miss due to our translation.

“In the Beginning” in Hebrew is one word, pronounced “Brasheet”. Stay with me now people, this is cool.

The first letter of that word is the Hebrew letter Beit, equal to our letter B. In ancient pictographic Hebrew it symbolized a house on a hill. The idea is all of scripture is flowing out of a home. In pictographic languages, words create pictures for the readers as well as have their meanings. Our language isn’t pictographic, so we miss the symbolism. But it gives depth to the scriptures when we understand it!

Who lives in the house scripture starts out with? The answer is in the word itself. When beit and resh, the second letter, are together, they form the word son. And the third letter is the letter aleph, which signifies God the Father.

So, out of the house comes the Son of God.

It is a picture of the living word of God giving us the written word of God.  THIS IS HOW THE BIBLE STARTS!!!!! I love it! When we can see scripture in the culture it was written, it connects with us on an even deeper level. What do you think about God’s word flowing out of his home into ours? What a great way to start of the Bible, eh?!

Sticking with the Genesis 1 theme, I also wanted to address something we glaze over because we’ve heard it a million times – the creation account. Before we discuss, lets put some things out of the table I think we all can agree on.

  1. God is not trapped or controlled by time. He is infinite.
  2. He made time, and he lives outside of it.
  3. The Creator controls the created.

Knowing these three things, I think we could agree some created cosmic fireball is not going to limit God to a time table. Nothing can limit God because He is… well, GOD.

Here are the facts according to scripture:

Day one, God created light and dark. Awesome.
Day two, God separated the waters and created sky. Love it.
Day three, God created land, seas, and vegetation. I’m a fan.
Day four, God created the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Bingo.

Our sun wasn’t even around until day four. Now, could God, if He so chose in days one through three, given Himself 24 hours just for fun to get it all done? Absolutely. He is God. It also says God spoke the world into creation. It was easy for him. What if it only took what we would classify as seconds? Could he do that?

Absolutely.
He is GOD.

I guess how long it took is a great question to ask when we meet Him someday. On this side of heaven, we will never know. The point is, we should not try to define God by assumptions or human terms.

Moving along – what stuck out to me in Psalms 1 was verses 1-3, “How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners… his delight is in the Lord’s instruction and he meditates on it day and night…”. To meditate on scripture is to let it roll around in your head for a day, week, or even month. Have you ever picked a passage and done this? What result was it? If not, you should try it… the depth of wisdom you can get out of one “living and active word” is pretty crazy.

Finally, (and man is it hard after five days to pick a few things to discuss!!!), the last thing I want to emphasize is the NT reading of Matthew 3:8,10. “Therefore, produce fruit that is consistent with repentance… every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire.”

The Bible talks a LOT about the importance of Obedience, and living out our faith. If our relationship with God is real, we should be different. Kind. Forgiving, because Christ has forgiven us. We should love the unlovable and forgive freely because Christ modeled exactly that. When we repent we don’t live in what Bonhoeffer called “Cheap Grace”, but instead realize what Christ did for us on the cross was incredibly costly. To take that gift and blow off would be cruel. To live our lives as a sacrifice is what being a Christian is all about.

(Since this is our first official blog, let me remind you to respond if something popped out to you in this weeks readings, or the blog. There is SO MUCH we covered in these first five days there’s no way I could write down everything that touched me. So… what has God been teaching you? Simply put your curser on the title and click. This opens up the blog on a different page. At the bottom, there is a place for a reply. Fill in what you’d like to say then post your comment. After I check it and make sure it’s not spam it will be posted!)

Reading the Bible Through?

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.41.58 PM.pngHello people! It’s been a long time. Ministry at New Work Fellowship has been amazing, and my students and my volunteers are the best anywhere around.

I threw out a challenge for my adult volunteers to read the Bible through this year. I’ve done it for years now by myself, and it blesses me every time. Each year a different “theme” in scripture pops out, and I always catch new insights that I missed previously. God’s word truly is living and active, and I wanted that power to seep through every part of our ministry even more than it already does!

Why am I telling you this? Because there are about 24 of us who are reading the Bible through using the “Everyday with Jesus” Bible. You can click on the name, and it will take you to a link to order if you’d like like to join us. As Christians it is so important we know what we believe, and why we believe it. Part of living out our faith (because faith without works is dead, although we are saved by grace, not works) is growing in knowledge of our creator.

So… will you join us? The first entry will start tomorrow, and it will have things that popped out to me that I think would interest others. I encourage you to answer questions, ask questions yourself, weigh in on discussions, and dig deeper into scripture with us together as we all grow in the wisdom of God. Comments and discussion are encouraged, so get started with us today!