Tag Archives: growth in Christ

Exodus 1; Luke 4; Job 18; 1 Corinthians 5

When I was 18 years old, like many people my age, I packed up way too many of my “precious” belongings, stuffed them inside my family’s slightly beat up and wearied minivan along with my two parents and I and moved two states over for college.  I had always prided myself on being an adventurer, a strong, independent woman not afraid to travel all over the world and brave enough to go on many journeys (long and short) alone, so I expected a measly move from Maryland to New Jersey to be a piece of cake.

Boy, was I wrong.  From the moment I stepped on campus, I was smacked in the face with some very real social anxiety and fear of letting people in.  As a freshman, I spent much time in my room alone, afraid of letting the people just outside my door in to my life and my heart.  By the time I graduated four years later, I had grown in ways my freshman self would have shuddered to think about.  I was able to form many friendships that were deeper and richer and more beautiful than anything I had ever experienced all because I took many (often small) steps in boldness.  God used my time in college to teach me boldness and bravery in areas where my comfort zone was very – well – comfortable.  I learned that while being bold may look like many different things, it always means taking a step out of my comfort zone and towards God.

15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver.[c] If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”

19 “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”

20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. – Exodus 1:15-20 (NLT)

Woah. These midwives actually defied the orders of the Pharaoh.  They stood up for what is right with incredible boldness and were a part of God’s incredible plan for the Israelites.  And the best part?  God blessed them with families of their own because they were obedient to Him.

Lord, teach me to follow you boldy, even if it means doing the terrifying thing. 

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,[a] where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’[b]

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’[c]

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’[d]

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’[e]

13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. – Luke 4:1-13 (NLT)

This is crazy!  If I were tempted in the ways that Jesus was, I would not have been able to resist.  In fact, I know I have faced these same temptations and given in to them.  Yet, Jesus boldly refuses the taunts of the devil and decides to do the less glamorous, least satisfying, and most unexpected thing and turn down the (probably incredibly enticing) offers from the devil.

Lord, give me the boldness to turn down the daily (and often easy and inviting) temptations of the devil. 

I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother.[a] You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.

Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit.[b]And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church.[c] I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed[d] and he himself[e] will be saved on the day the Lord[f] returns.

Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.[g] So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread[h] of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread[i] of sincerity and truth. – 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NLT)

You know when your friend is behaving in a way that you know they shouldn’t, but you don’t say anything for fear of facing their wrath or a rift in your friendship with them?  Well, that is exactly what is happening here except, instead of not saying anything, Paul boldly calls out his brothers and sisters in Christ for their sins.  He does not do so to put them down, but he does so with a bold love that could only come from being in fellowship with Christ.

Lord, teach me to boldly love my brothers and sisters enough to call them out when I see them stumble. 

God has taught me time and time again that often if I take a step forward with even the teeniest bit of boldness, he will grow me in leaps and bounds in ways that I could never have imagined.  God gives us so many examples of boldness and bravery in His Word and these examples inspire me and push me to grow.  Boldness looks different for everyone; for me it might look like saying hello to someone that I would not usually be brave enough to talk to.  For the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, it looked like refusing to obey the orders of the Pharaoh to kill all the male children that were born.  Whatever this boldness may look like, God uses it as a part of his perfect plan and that is incredibly exciting.

 

Emma (emmakumpf)

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Job, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen The Matrix, you’ve had fifteen years to do so. But then, if you’ve waited this long to see it, you likely won’t–and so my brief mention of a scene shouldn’t really affect you.

One of my favorite parts about the movie The Matrix is when Neo dodges the bullets near the end. He sees them coming and moves his body to avoid them, or just plain stops them. He figures it out–he knows it for what it is, and the bullets can no longer hurt him.

Paul writes to a group in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, NLT:

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

He calls them infants. He says they are still controlled by their sinful nature. He asks, “Aren’t you acting just like people of the world?”

Sometimes I have to take a hard look at myself: when anger, however justified, starts flowing through my veins and following me from room to room and place to place, I have to stop and assess my reality. This weekend, I reminded myself, “I am not angry at my family.” So why was this anger clinging to me when I should have been enjoying time with my people? I said, “I am not angry at my church.” So why was this anger penetrating my heart just before I walked into church to serve? My anger had nothing to do with my family or my church, but it was trying to control me and wreck places of peace.

I can’t know what form an attack will take or who will wield words against me or my family. But how will I respond? Will I be controlled by my sinful nature? Will it hit and hurt and lead to infection? Will it take time to heal? Or will I see it for what it is and dodge or deflect the bullet? I want to stand strong in Christ for things that matter to him.

Lord, please help me to see things for what they are. Help me to honor you with my response and thoughts.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Ezekiel 35,36; 2 Peter 1

My first baptism was in my early twenties. My boyfriend was with me, and afterwards we were invited back to a church friend’s house for a celebration. The people in the party held hands in the room as my friend’s husband prayed over us. My boyfriend said it all seemed cultish.

Nothing distinguished me from my before-and-after except that I now thanked God for each day at the end of my journal entries.

My second baptism was in my late thirties. There’s no need for a second baptism. I’m sure the first one was sufficient. But my heart had changed, and I truly wanted to follow Jesus. Reading Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT immediately brings back the memory of the second baptism, because my choice to follow the Lord would crazy-change my life.

25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

Later that year I would join some interstate friends to read the bible in a year. It was through reading His Word that I would get to know him.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Second Peter encourages brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in faith.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

I’ve been reading through my bible for four years now, and there’s still so much more to learn. These words, light in darkness …

19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

… moved in Spirit, spoken from God.

Lord, you have indeed given me everything I need. Thankful for every day, still, and more so.

Courtney (66books365)

3 Comments

Filed under 2 Peter, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel