Tag Archives: spiritual growth

1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; 1 Timothy 1

We are half way through the Bible at the end of this week. This is a good passage to contemplate as we think about what our place is in the Christian community and in our relationship with Jesus.

1 Timothy begins with the purpose for the writing of these two letters Paul wrote to young Timothy. His purpose is found in the first two verses:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Timothy 1:1-2 [ESV]).

The Christian life is all about relationships. Paul starts out with his in connection to Jesus. He’s an apostle by God’s command. There was no way out of it for Paul. He was destined even before he became a Christ follower to be an apostle of His.

And then he turns to Timothy. He views him to be his true child in the faith. Paul was the one that must have led Timothy to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Paul was discipling Timothy. There was a special relationship between the two. Paul was guiding Timothy as he grew in his Christian faith.

As we approach the midway point of the year these two verses beg the questions, “Who is my Timothy, who is my Paul?” As stated earlier we are meant to live in community. Relationships are critically important in the Christian life.

So who is your Paul? Are you growing through their input in your life? Have you asked them to? Who is your Timothy? Who’s life are you building into? Start this second half of 2018 intentionally growing through the influence of others and be a catalyst to those who need to grow in their spiritual lives.

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Filed under 1 Kings, 1 Timothy, 2 Chronicles, Uncategorized

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)

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

Genesis 49; Luke 2; Job 15; I Corinthians 3

We didn’t have those kinds of talks. He’d tell me about a new recipe, or teach me a crochet stitch, or recount a recent outing. Likely the last words I said to him were, “I’ll talk to you later.”

Only later never came. Goodbye was never said. So many questions never asked, never answered. All of this is hard. And in the grief, I find myself surprised by what surfaces. And this one question: what did my father think of me?

I wasn’t expecting my dad to die that night. He spoke to me as if he weren’t expecting it either. Perhaps our conversation might have gone differently if we had known.

Jacob speaks last words over his sons, and I cry.

Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come. Genesis 49:1, NLT

Some of his words sting and some of his words bless.

In Job, Eliphaz responds to Job, and a shaming storm pours from his mouth.

In Luke, Mary receives words from shepherds, prophecies from Simeon and Anna, and she stores these things in her heart.

When I think of things unsaid, unheard, all the unknown, I wonder if it matters now–because I can’t know. Why does that question and answer matter so much?

I turn my focus to the Lord.

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:5-17, NLT

Lord Jesus, I bring my questions to you. I find my peace in you. Your word is the final say and the one that matters. You are truth, and you see truth, and you are judge of deed and heart. I think we all desperately crave to hear your “Well done.” I pray that I keep my eyes firmly fixed upon you. Please equip me for the tasks at hand, and instruct me in your wisdom.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

2 Samuel 14; 2 Corinthians 7; Ezekiel 21; Psalm 68

God places the lonely in families … Psalm 68:6a NLT.

This verse stumps me.

It makes me think that families are a haven of one big welcome.

Some of the loneliest times in my life were in the midst of family. I bet Absalom could relate.

Joab sends a woman to appeal to King David, her story a fictional parallel she reveals later to convict.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:13-14 NLT.

God is one of reconciliation. I tell myself this over and over–even when relationships are strained, and ways are parted.

God is for reconciliation.

David allows Absalom to return, with conditions. For two years, Absalom never got to see his dad.

33 So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him. 2 Samuel 14:33 NLT.

The chapter stops here, and I have hope to keep reading. (So I sneak ahead to the next chapter, and see that dysfunction and division are alive and well. It was not the happily-ever-after I hoped would wrap up neatly.)

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT.

In the time Absalom was away from David, I think whatever sorrow he may have felt turned bitter with resentment and grew. Paul writes above to the Corinthians, and his words churn in my thoughts as I sip at coffee. The kind of sorrow that God wants us to experience, that leads us away from sin and results in salvation. And then there’s worldly sorrow, lacking repentance, resulting in spiritual death. Absalom’s sorrow will lack repentance (turning away from the sin) and lead to death–as it is today: relationships break apart in friendships and families; sorrow without change whittles away at everyone.

I examine the fractures in my life.

Lord, help me to reconcile without conditions so I don’t place stumbling blocks in front of a friend/family member. I want to be mindful of the condition of my own heart, turning from sin (please help me to see it!) and trusting in you. Where hearts are hardened, Lord, I pray that you will work on them. You are the God of reconciliation and restoration. I want to want that as much as you do. Thank you, that you don’t leave me where I am, but want to change me from the inside.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

Ex. 32; John 11; Prov. 8; Eph. 1

I remember a conversation from a while back, about why people read the Bible. There were lots of responses.

I read it for wisdom.

Wisdom is all over the pages of today’s chapters: common sense, success, insight, strength, good judgment, knowledge, discernment. It stands in opposition of evil (pride, arrogance, corruption, perverse speech).

Wisdom is right, true, wholesome. Proverbs reads to choose wisdom over wealth.

Wisdom, created before the first handful of soil. Wisdom, God’s constant delight that rejoiced in His presence. Wisdom, Paul’s prayer for believers–that we would grow in knowledge of God.

15 Ever since I fIMG_6218irst heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:15-18 NLT.

I leafed through past posts that brought up very vivid memories of things I’ve faced these past few years. I felt thankful for God’s presence in my life, the power of His Word sustaining (correcting, encouraging, comforting, guiding) me. The look back is much more than notes across a page–these were very real events, real tears–and real truth about a real God.

His Word tells me who He is. What He can do. It tells me who I am and whose I am. And often, it tells me things that go very opposite of a faulty first response: bless an enemy, pray for those who persecute you, do not return evil for evil.

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:7-8 NLT.

There’s so much more to learn about Him–and I don’t want to stop.

All praise to you, Father. And deepest thanks.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ephesians, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs

Thank you

I distinctly remember finishing up my last post of our first year blogging through the Bible in 2009. I didn’t know what the finish line would look like when we started this journey. All I knew was that I didn’t want to stop.

How thankful I was that there were others who wanted to keep going too, and new writers who joined us over these years.

How thankful I am still, that we’re entering a fifth year, drawing closer to God, being changed by His Spirit, and desiring to abide in Christ.

Thank you for reading God’s Word, for opening the pages for yourself, to see who He is.

God bless you.

Join us in 2013 as we read through the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament