Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sending Grace and Peace

Do you have questions concerning your beliefs? Do you want to make sure that you haven't gotten "off track" in your spiritual life? Galatians is a good Bible book to study. We're hearing from Paul, and he's talking to new Christians that have made a wrong turn. Same holds true for us today. Let's look at what Paul has to say to the Church.

Version: NAS

Galatians 1:3-5

To the churches of Galatia:
3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4. who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5. to whom [be] the glory forevermore. Amen.
I believe there are many people who know about Paul, but don't really know him. I was one of those people for many years. I "appreciated" his ministry and writing the books in the Bible, but I had opinions about him, not all of them flattering. I guess that's because I'd never really known the underlying facts and history of his life and times. Knowing the background of the era, society, and culture can do a lot to explain people's specific words and attitudes.
We'll get into more of Paul's personal history in the next few verses, but today we need to take a look at where Paul was ministering with these churches in "Galatia".  Some say he was writing to the churches throughout the larger area of Galatia (which means the country of the Gauls). This was an area that had been founded originally by some migrating French tribes, but had been reorganized by the Romans several hundred years before Christ. In Paul's day there was this larger area of Galatia, and then the smaller area also known as Galatia. This smaller area is most probably where Paul had been traveling and setting up churches.
Paul had written letters to the churches of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. These were all churches in the smaller area of Galatia; ones he had founded on his first missionary journey.
Knowing the location of these churches is important because we need to understand who Paul was writing to. These were "Gentiles", not Jews that had become Christians. These people were by and large unfamiliar with Judaism and were not religious except for idol worship. They were converted to Christianity without any background of Judaism.

In verse 3 Paul extends the concept of  "grace and peace" toward his readers. Maybe more than just a greeting, but a true desire that God's grace and peace cover and infuse his listeners. Trouble is brewing and Paul desires that his converts know in their hearts that God is the one who can sort things out and reveal His Truth in any situation. Grace and peace is a concept that we today need to grab onto. Asking for that in our own busy lives.

The word "Grace" comes from the Greek word "charis" which means "favor, gift, benefit or credit". To be covered in grace is living in God's favor, gifting, benefits and credit. The word "Peace" comes from the Greek word "eirene" which means harmony, tranquillity, safety, welfare, and health. What a wonderful greeting for those new Christians that Paul was writing to. I'm asking that for all of us; to be covered with God's favor and welfare.

Verse 4 says (Jesus Christ) who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. If you were with me earlier in this blog I did a teaching on Life in the Garden and how Adam and Eve fell from Grace and were expelled from God's presence. Ever since the fall of man, from Genesis Chapter 1 until the time of Christ, man was in a dispensation of "evil". The devil had manipulated Adam and Eve, and since that time, until the time of Christ here on Earth, Mankind lived in a period of death and estrangement from God. Yes, there were kings and prophets and those sent by God that heard Him speak, but the average, everyday person had lost the capability to "hear" God speak to them. This was forfeited when Adam and Eve sinned and were then evicted from the Garden of Eden.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, walked here on Earth to bring salvation to each and every person. He made it possible for us to be reconciled to God the Father through His death on the cross. Jesus paid the price for our sin, therefore making it possible for us to regain our relationship with God. Not living by rules and regulations; law and sacrifice, but a time of Grace that God extends to all of us who are believers. It's God's will and desire that all mankind be saved.
John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Verse 5 finishes the greeting with the words "to whom be the glory forevermore". It's important to remember these words. Giving glory to God and Jesus Christ is a key theme here. Any ministry that does not point to God and Jesus, giving them the glory, is not a ministry that is true Gospel.

On a personal note here, you may have noticed this is a little different format in this Bible Study blog. I guess it's a more true reflection of a Bible Study. This is the first time I've taught "expositorily"; going verse by verse through a book in the Bible. I have a lot to learn and this is a great way to do it.

Glad you're coming by, and I hope that God has met you today through His Word.

Peace and Grace be with you!

love in Jesus,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Are You Called?

"Paul an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead-and all the brothers with me."

Have you ever considered why and how people are called into the ministry? Do you ever feel God call you to do something specific; something for Him with His stamp of approval on it? I have, and I imagine most of you have also. It doesn't have to be a "ministry" with or at a church. Maybe it's as simple as helping out a neighbor who needs someone to take care of their child if they are sick. To visit an elderly friend with a meal or just to send a card to someone who needs to be thought of. We each are called by God to do big and small jobs for Him. It doesn't have to be one with a salary to make it important. And we don't have to feel intimidated by the life of Paul. A "Damascus road experience" is not required to do God's work.

Matthew 10:42 says "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

There are a lot of philanthropic people and organizations in the world. Last week we were watching television and some heavyweight business moguls were sitting around the table discussing their organizations. Yes, they were doing it from the goodness of their hearts; there was nothing pretentious or condescending in their giving or attitudes, but my first thought was..."are they believers?" We can give and give until we have nothing left but if it's not done in the name of Jesus, it won't receive heavenly recognition. Now I know we don't do things to receive "recognition or reward", but I want to do whatever I do, in the Name of Jesus. That way I at least know it's turned over to Him and He can use it to further the gospel, and bless others in ways that otherwise would or could not happen.

The word "apostle" means "sent one". And in that sense we are all apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has a plan for each one of us to bear witness for Him in a variety of ways. Giving God credit for the things we have received through faith is one way. Living our everyday lives we have opportunity to acknowledge God. Since I've been blogging I've been amazed to find so many Christian women out here that are willing to say the "J" word. JESUS. Not being afraid to admit you are a Christian. We can say that we believe in God, there's nothing "offensive" to the non-believer in that. But when you say Christian, or pray in Jesus' Name, we are all the sudden taking it a step further and out there a little farther on the "plank" so to speak. I've had to overcome being skittish in that area. Say it like it is, and mean it. That doesn't mean beating someone over the head with the Bible, just not being afraid to speak about my faith in Jesus Christ.

And referring to "not being sent from men nor by man", I think we all know the difference. When my husband and I were younger, with a preschooler, we were asked by the educational director at our church to take over the preschool Sunday School leadership. I had taught children before and really enjoyed relating to them, but we were at a time in our lives that we needed to be taught and discipled ourselves. I needed to be in the worship service and have a few minutes away from the 4 year old crowd, not multiplied by 20. She literally hounded us until we gave in. I never felt "called" to do it. I found no "anointing" there and felt out of sync. Each week, even though I enjoyed the children, it was "work" if you know what I mean. I felt no fruit or passion for it. We moved out of town not too long after, and I have to tell you a huge weight was lifted off of me.

I say that, to say this. If God calls you, you will know it. It doesn't always mean it will be easy, but you will know deep down that it is something that you know is right because it just feels right. And fruit will come...and blessing.

I know God is asking me to be willing and ready to be "sent". This Bible Study is part of that. God's been showing me lately that there are "appointed times" for ministry. Certain tasks are laid before us for certain times. Being in the right place at the right time to fulfill a certain purpose. If you've ever read the book of Esther, it is all about this subject.

Ask God this week how He can use you; how He can "send you out", to "preach and teach" the Gospel. I bet you'll be surprised at what He asks you to do. I'd love to hear what God has to say to each of you "apostles" out there. Jesus had the "5-fold Ministry"; apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. (Ephesians 4:12). He gives us that ministry also, maybe not like Him exactly, but an anointing to go do the things He call us to do.
Thanks for coming by, this first time in Galatians.
love, in Jesus,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Carpet Man

Cindy at I Owe it All to Him has invited us to relate times when someone helped us out unexpectedly, and that it was clearly a "God thing". There have been many times that I know an angel has been there to protect and guard me and my family, but I want to share a short little situation that I KNOW God sent someone, in the natural, to help out my husband and I. I'm a BIG believer in prayer for all things, even the small and seemingly "trivial" things in life. I know God wants to help us and looks for ways to bless us, letting us know that He IS there, hearing our prayers and being involved in our everyday lives, even the small things.

My husband and I have been involved in the antiquing business for several years. At one point we were moving into a rather large space at an antique mall and had purchased a carpet remnant to cover the dirty and cracking floors. We had given specific dimensions for the cut and didn't expect any problems with the installation. Just lay it out and be done with it. We had a lot to accomplish that day and it was critical that it be done by the end of the day.

Well, we laid out the carpet and to our dismay it was cockeyed to the point of laughability, except we weren't laughing. It was a nightmare. No matter which way we turned it it was off; off too much to do anything with. We struggled with it for a while and then we realized we needed to pray. We didn't know what to do, but prayed for guidance in getting the job done.

2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."

When we finished praying a gentleman and his wife came by the booth and started up a conversation. He said. "Hey, are you having a problem with your carpet, here?"
We looked at him and nodded our heads in unison.
"Well", he said, "I just happen to be a carpet installer and I have my tools out in my truck. Let me see what I can do."

I kid you not, this man was sent by God. Turns out he and his wife were vacationing in nearby Branson and were also singing at a church there with friends. I'm getting goosebumps just re-telling this story. He came back in, wrestled for a while and ended up with a perfectly cut and well fitting carpet. He and God saved the day!! We rewarded him with some appropriate items and we all knew God had blessed us.

I was so thankful that God was ready to help us, He knew our need. The carpet installer was in the right place at the right time, and yahoo, God used another believer to do the job! Being in the right place at the right time...priceless!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to invite you to join me here as I start a Bible Study of the book of Galatians. "A day in the life..."  I'd love to have you.
Please scroll down to the last post for an introduction.

Today, I'm linking with dear Cindy from I Owe it All to Him. Check in sometime this weekend for other's experiences with God's help in human form.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Something New

I've been feeling God tugging at me to head in a different direction for awhile. Opportunity for blessing and productivity comes when we're open to what God wants to do, at the time He wants to do it.  And it seems He is leading me to be more flexible in my posts and subject matter. One morning this week, while still in that early morning time of sleep/dream/awake stage, I heard God say to me. "I want to teach Galatians." That clearly woke me up.

I'm not a Bible Scholar in any sense of the imagination. I'm not big into reading commentaries and other Bible help books. I've found I don't always agree with their interpretation or explanation. So I pray for God to open the scriptures to me, head me in the right direction, then give me the words to convey what I'm understanding and feeling. One commentary I do like and find as an easy read are the books by Warren W. Wiersbe. So I may use a few of his ideas along the way. I love to do Hebrew and Greek word study and I've found that to be more beneficial in explaining the scriptures than "the traditions of men". Knowing background is important, so that's where some commentaries can also come into play. Just want you to know, I'm not teaching from a book, but hopefully going to convey what God is saying to me, then passing it along.

I still haven't finished the book study on Victory Over the Darkness, but I feel like it's something for another time. I'm at a good stopping point. There are some important concepts that at some time I want to cover, like forgiveness. As I said at the beginning, this book changed my life, so I highly recommend it.  And really the book of Galatians is about our freedom that we find in Christ. So actually it is a good next place to head.

This has been a hectic summer, with lots of projects and house things. My husband and I have been trying to make up for lost time on some organization and work around the house. His schedule is very demanding at work and so things that have needed to be done to a 27 year old house have gone by the wayside. Yard work and family have been time consumers around here lately (good ones). God has a way of keeping me busy.

I guess I'm saying all that, just so you'll know what I've been up to. But now I feel some clear direction so I guess there's no time like now, to see what God is doing. Getting started with this, I don't really have a plan. I'm glad God has one. This blog originally was interactive, and I'd love to have that again. I know we all are super busy, but if you take time to read the post, please just leave a short comment or thought so I'll know you've been here. Once I asked that you all just say "here". But I'm a southerner at heart so "Hey!" works fine for me. Just as much as I want to share what's on my heart, I'd love to hear what you all are thinking too. It doesn't have to be long or involved, just a thought if you'd like.

So Let's see what God's Word has for us in the book of Galatians. Paul was a prolific writer, sending long letters to the churches of the area. They were read, copied, studied, and then passed on to the next local church. Most of the letters he wrote were to churches he had helped found and establish. He had left a part of his heart and soul in these churches. His care and watchful eye was still on them. He gave them the basic Truth of Jesus Christ, but then he also cared about the progression in their faith. He knew the pitfalls they were headed toward and what they were encountering as new believers. What Paul said to these early churches holds just as true for us today.

The verse that capsulizes this book of the Bible is Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Are you with me?
Ready to hear what God is saying to the church today?
After all, we as believers are the church.
Next time Galatians 1.

love, in Jesus,

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Life Verses; Romans 12:1-2

Maybe you haven't really considered any certain verse your "Life verse(s)", but I imagine you have one; one that you go back to over and over, one that brings you peace and comfort, one that energizes you, one that makes you know God loves you and that you can trust Him.

Romans 12:1-2

1.Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of service (worship).

2.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Have you ever just been reading along in the Bible when a certain verse, or word, or paragraph just jumps off the page and hits you in the head? It grabs ahold of you and you of it? I think that most of us can relate to that, and we know that it is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He speaks to us in many ways, and this is one that we can rely on to be a guiding factor; speaking to us from the scriptures.

Many of us, me included, really desire the leading of God in our life. We want to hear from God and know His will for our life, yet unfortunately we don't spend enough time in the Word to allow the Holy Spirit to do that for us. Being in the place of readiness to listen with our hearts and minds open, is essential to our receiving the guidance we hope for.


Many, many years ago, (did I say many?) in a study I was participating in by Kay Arthur, these verses hit home. God spoke to me about being willing to let Him transform my life. And in order to transform my life, the transformation of my mind must come first. My thoughts and viewpoints needed to be taken out of the natural world and made to be like the thoughts and viewpoints of Jesus. Anyone can do things the way the world does it. We see it everyday in the news, on TV, in the movies, and in literature. But to do things Jesus' way takes Him being the leader and author of our lives. Not just giving Him a "nod", but truly submitting our lives to Christ.

Romans 12:1 talks about our "spiritual act of service". Have you ever wondered what that means? I did. I had read it my whole life and never really grasped the importance of that one little phrase. "Spiritual act of service." Being a citizen of our country we have certain "acts of service" that many of us have paid. Being a member of the military, the privilege of voting, community service, reverence to our flag, honoring our leadership, even if you don't agree, these are just to name a few.  These are all acts of service or "allegiance" to our country. And just like these in the natural world, we show service and honor to our Lord in the same way. We give Him our allegiance and part of that is by being available to Him for His thoughts, ideas, and guidance. Like any ruler, or king, or Father of a family, we give service to God as His child. We need to be willing to go to work for God. Serving God, in whatever way He call us is an act of  "worship".

And have we really contemplated the word "sacrifice"? Not really a word that we want to think about. It brings up all kinds of uncomfortable notions. The Oxford dictionary says, "a voluntary giving up of something valued", surrendering a position, an offering, yielding. To me this speaks of letting go of my "headship" of my own life, letting God take over, yielding to Him in all things and offering myself up to Him for His purposes.
We may not always understand God's "will" for our lives, but if we trust Him, we can know that His will is acceptable, pleasing and perfect.

Is this an easy process? Not really. That was over twenty years ago and He's still working on me. Some things were harder for me to release than others. I guess this is just another term for "sanctification"...that long walk we have with Jesus. The walk where He speaks to us and leads us, changes our hearts, and holds us close no matter where we are walking. That Life-Long walk. You know, like the Potter and the Clay.

These two scriptures have been my "life scriptures". I have many that speak to me, but these two are the ones that God grabbed me with. They have not only changed my thinking...but my life.

Today I'm linking with Cindy from I Owe it All to Him. Please go visit the others who are sharing their favorite scripture verses. Join in if you like. We'd all love to hear your verses.

love in Jesus,

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Place of Prayer

Cindy Adkins from I Owe it All to Him
 has a wonderful new inspirational blog.
She posts daily entries of spiritual inspiration;
art and words to nurture your spirit
and bring joy and contemplation.

Friday July 9th she is having a "Linky" party
so that we can share our "sanctuary";
our place for prayer, devotionals,
 Bible Study and in my case journaling.

I shared these photos recently with the
Where Bloggers Create Party.
It is in my office/studio
 that I have a large comfy chair,
that is perfect to relax in, pray in,
 and just a place of solitude and peace.

I have my books and journals
and religious prints nearby.
Also a good place to come late at night
 with a cup of tea,
a good book,
and maybe a sweet gray kitty.

In the Bible it speaks about
one of Jesus' places of prayer;
the Garden of Gethsemane.

I think it must have been one of Jesus' favorite spots.
A quiet place at the foot of the Mt. of Olives.

In Hebrew the word Gethsemane means "Olive Press".
Aptly named, as sometimes our prayer time
can be a time of intense personal supplication.

Other times we are there on behalf
of friends and family,
but always we need a place to get away,
 find some quiet in our day,
open God's Word and look to Him for direction.

I encourage you if you don't have a specific place,
to seek a spot for yourself,
away from the noise and busy-ness of the day,
to meet with God face to read His word,
and hear His tender voice.

I believe in living a life of prayer.
Keeping close to the Father, moment by moment.
Submitting thoughts and ideas,
requests and questions.
Giving Him first place in my life.
I've heard it called "conversational prayer".
I like that.
Talking to our Heavenly Father.
He IS right here, you know.

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Ephesians 6:18
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Please stop by Cindy's and visit with the others that are sharing their prayer spots.

Hope you're having a wonderful week,
love in Jesus,

Monday, July 5, 2010

Finding Significance and Fulfillment

Well, it's been a week or so, and I've had good intentions to do this post, but every day something seemed to have me busy. Poor excuse, so here it is, the company has left, and I'm finally setting down with some peace and quiet. I want to cover the other seven areas of our "Personal Guidelines and Belief System" from the book study on Victory Over the Darkness. I discussed "Success" last post and talked about how my thinking on "success" has changed throughout my life. This post let's take look at significance and fulfillment in God's eyes.

2. Significance. Key Concept: Time

"Significance is a Time issue. What is forgotten in time is of little significance. What is remembered for eternity is of great significance."

Version: NAS
1 Corinthians 3:10-14

10. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. 11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13. each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is [to be] revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.

How many of us are wives, moms, and grandmothers? Dads and husbands? Do we take care of our homes and families? Do we work outside the home? Do we get up everyday and hop on the hamster wheel and seemingly rarely get off? How many of us feel pretty insignificant in the "grand scheme of things"?  I know this concept of significance is similar to the previous one of success, but that is really the point. Taking the time to ponder our significance in life will eventually cause us to ask the age old question. "Am I a success?" and then, "Am I leading a successful and significant life?"

We've all heard the thought about lying on our deathbed and remembering the times with our family and children, and not the amount of money we made or the material "things" in life. When it all comes down to it, material things don't cut it; success and significance in our life have to come from inside our spirit. Our heart, mind and soul are the determining factors. The old saying of "whoever dies with the most toys wins" is a real joke.

The author, Neil Anderson, recalls a conversation he had with a young pastor who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. He had only been given a few months to live. The young man was greatly concerned about his "significance" in God's eyes and spoke of the fact that he had only led a few hundred people to the Lord. Neil reminded him that each of those people now have an eternity with Jesus. And that each one of those people were influencing others and so on and so on. What we may think of as insignificant, if it is done for God, then has lasting and eternal glory attached.

Version: NAS

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Success and significance are not measured in earthly terms. They are measured in spiritual. Fame is not equivalent to success or significance. How many people out there are famous for their lifestyle, fortune, or No 1. hits at the box office? How many people think they are living the dream when in reality when their time comes to meet Jesus face to face, they too late, will realize all their worldly fame and fortune cannot buy them the most important thing in eternity... the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

3. Fulfillment. Key Concept: Role Preference
 Fulfillment in life comes when we realize that God has a specific plan and calling for us; that He has a place where He desires each of us to be for a specific time and purpose. Then as we understand that purpose, fulfillment will come. If we understand our "significance" in life, then we can realize "fulfillment" in our life. And submitting our "goals" to God, will ultimately be the test of our success or failure. I believe the scripture that says "with Christ all things are possible". The key phrase just has to be "with Christ". Are your life plans and goals, "with Christ"? And are they in His proper timing?

1 Peter 4:10
As each one has received a [special] gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Seeking God for our giftings and plans and goals will make our life make more sense. I've learned that if I'm struggling with something, be it a project or desire or plan, I need to be sure that I've received direction and approval from God concerning it. That doesn't mean it will always be easy or a "piece of cake", but it will mean that you know deep in your heart that God is walking ahead of you through it.

God has a unique place and plan for each of us. Seeking Him for His plan for our life ensures that we will be successful and find the significance we are looking for. And we know that each of us is most precious in God's eyes. He loves us like His own Son. We're the apple of our Daddy's eye.

Love in Jesus,