Tag Archives: change

Psalms 119:7

Actions speak so much louder than words.

It’s always nice to hear the words “I love you” but it’s even sweeter when that love is shown through actions.  

The psalmist is proclaiming a promise here.   WHEN this happens THEN I will…he is acknowledging that change will occur with understanding and knowledge of God’s laws.

The psalmist knows of God’s laws enough to put it in this psalm, but he understands that just knowing of them or reading them once or twice doesn’t equate to “learning” them fully.

All through scripture there are many references to meditating on God’s law, and there’s  a reason for that.  Each time I read a verse or chapter, God reveals just a little bit more depth of meaning, layers upon layers. Each new insight changes me just a little bit more.

Thankfulness and gratitude for God’s love and mercy and patience with me just naturally follow.

It’s a natural progression. One we see everyday with our own children (hopefully).  We hope our kids will learn our rules and then thank us by obeying and ultimately living good lives.   That’s the goal right?  Not much different than us with our Heavenly Father.

As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!
Psalms 119:7 NLT

http://bible.com/116/psa.119.7.NLT

Ezra Chapter 10

Pull it together Ezra!

While Ezra is weeping and wailing, Shecaniah offers up some hope for Israel.  He proposes that they put aside the foreign spouses and children according to the Law.

Deuteronomy 7:3-6  They weren’t supposed  to intermarry in the first place because the foreign people would lead God’s people astray by worshipping idols and other gods and then God would be forced to destroy them.

The Israelites had been warned.

After putting forth this proposal, Shecaniah seems to rebuke Ezra in order to snap him into action.  In Vs. 4 he basically tells Ezra to pull it together, get up, and do what needs to be done, be responsible.  Be courageous.

The whole time I’m reading this, I’m hearing, “Pull up your big girl panties Ezra!”  (Crude, but effective!)

Keep in mind that Ezra was not alone in his grief.  A huge crowd was there weeping and showing their own grief over the sins committed against God too.  I don’t mean to make light of the public display of humility before God, as Ezra was praying and making confession to God for all, but there comes a time when action needs to follow up intent, and Shecaniah reminds Ezra of the need for action.

David Guzik’s commentary includes a beneficial tidbit about confession which I thought was really nice.  Confession isn’t a focus in most churches (unless you’re of the Catholic faith) but everyone can benefit by “coming clean” when it’s appropriate to do so…

vi. The Bible has much to say about the confession of sin, and we can surmise some general guidelines about the confession of sin:

Confession should be made to the one sinned against.

Confession publicly of specific sins should be made as far as the circle of those sins.

Confession of general spiritual need, while being discrete about the specific sin, is appropriate when the circle of the sin is either personal or very small.

Confession should be appropriately specific.

Confession should be thorough.

http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/ezra-10.html

He got up and made them all take an oath to honor the proposal from Shecaniah, and they did.

They called for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem within 3 days.  If any didn’t come they would forfeit their possessions and be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.  Huge consequences here.

All the men came.  It was the 20th of 9th month (Chistev Nov/Dec) and they sat in the open in the heavy rain. (This shows an understanding of the severity of their sin).

It was decided that each would be investigated to determine if they sinned and broke the Law.  It took about 3 months to investigate each marriage.  They were finished by the 1st of Nisan (1st month).  There would be no sin found for those wives that put aside their old beliefs and shared the beliefs of their husbands and obeyed the Law.

The men who were found guilty of marrying foreign wives (who would not repent) and breaking the Law, they offered a ram for their offense and put away their wives.

It doesn’t specifically say if all the men put away their wives or not.

This is all about repentance.  You can’t repent of a sin if you truly don’t recognize the sin in the first place.  This is why being part of a church community is so important.  Without being surrounded by others who share the faith, sins are easy to overlook.  Humans are hugely gifted with an ability to deceive themselves and justify pretty much everything.

It’s not enough for Ezra and the others to “feel bad” and “grieve” over the sin.  Repentance is necessary.

We are not under the Law anymore but the same truth holds for us too.

Mark 1:14-15   Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.” (F. F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles [Greek Text Commentary], London: Tyndale, 1952, p. 97.)

Repent is a verb.  It demands some action on the part of the person.  Change has to take place at some point, or there is no repentance.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit grants a change in us that is immediate and indisputable.  Other times, it can take a long time for change to come about.  Either way, change does happen if a person is truly repentant.

I liked you better…

 

Sometimes, hearing from old friends brings such a joy that it just fills you up inside.  Other times, you’re left with confusion.

I am torn.

My old friend texted me the other night.  It wasn’t the first time we have spoken since I became a believer, but we’ve only been in contact a handful of times these past few years.

My friend made a comment to me.

“I liked the magicky, witchy you much better than the bible-thumper you.”

I tried to make light of it and replied that the magicky, witchy me had been gone for a long time and that I didn’t remember thumping anyone with my bible.    Each time we text we update each other and I try and update this friend about how I’m doing and what’s happening in my life.  A lot of how I’m doing leads back to Jesus.  I never thought about that as “bible thumping”, it’s just an update on my life.

Each time we text we update each other and I try and update this friend about how I’m doing and what’s happening in my life.  A lot of how I’m doing leads back to Jesus.  I never thought about that as “bible thumping”, it’s just an update on my life.

On one hand, I am happy and that comment does give me peace inside because it means that Jesus has changed me.  Other people who knew me before, see the changes.  The old me did die and I am a new creation.

What no one tells you, is that this new creation you become retains all the memories of the old.  The memories don’t die, though I don’t think I see them in quite the same light anymore.

That comment also tears at my heart.  It’s like saying to a drunk, “You’re more fun when you drink.”  I’m sure there are many people who liked the old me better.  I pretty much did whatever people wanted with no thought to the consequences.

By preferring the old me, my friend preferred the girl who:

  • hated herself and found ways of hurting herself
  • refused to think for herself, allowing others to command her
  • lived in a fantasy world in her head
  • couldn’t deal with her own emotions or the past

That was the “magicky, witchy” me that apparently was just more fun to know.  Who wouldn’t want to spend their time with a fantasy?

It tears my heart because my old friend is pretty far from God at the moment.

I will pray for you even though you told me not too.  Jesus waits for you with open arms even though you turn your back…for now.

Why did you prefer the old me who cast spells and called on different aspects of the One God?  Why was THAT okay to you but me praying to God as a Christian, as one who follows the teachings of Christ, not okay?  Does Christianity offend you because you know in your heart that it’s true?  Why do you want to keep me from the truth?  Or is it more that you just don’t want to admit your own sin?  

I’d like to say, that next time I speak with an old friend that I’ll tone down what Jesus is doing in my life.  I mean, I don’t want to come across as a bible-thumper, one of THOSE people!

But THAT would be a complete lie.

I’m proud to have Jesus in my heart, at the center of my life.  I’m proud of just how much I’ve changed.  I’m learning to let go of the past, what has been done to me and my own shared responsibility in it.  Little by little, but it’s happening.

And if you want to know how I’m doing and what’s happening in my life, I’m going to tell you in truth.

And more than anything else, my old friend, I want you to experience God’s great mercy and grace.  The peace He will fill you with is indescribable.  I want you for Him, for eternity.  This life doesn’t have to be all there is.  You say you don’t like losing any old friends, then answer Him!  He’s calling you, then you won’t have to lose any….ever.

 

 

 

 

Ecclesiastes 3 – A Time for Everything

atimeforeverything

I always think of Autumn when read these verses.  The chaotic energy of summer is giving way to the fatigue that autumn brings.  School and work start back up, routines become set again.  The days shorten and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done.

But we are reminded that there is a time for everything….

Matthew 13:54-58

54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.


Jesus really does know the hearts of men, doesn’t He?

I keep thinking about people I knew growing up and how I would react to them if they suddenly appeared as a Pastor in my church.  Would I be able to look at them with the same level of respect as I do my current Pastor, who is a complete stranger to me?  Possibly, but probably not.

Then I flip that around (because it’s important to look at issues from all sides).  If I went to talk in their church, how would they look at me?

Ugh!  Suddenly, I really don’t like this line of thought.  ~laughs~

I’m picturing who I was for most of my life (sinful, wicked, living for the flesh) and then possibly surprising those who may have known me during some of those times with the new, born again me…well, let’s just say, it probably wouldn’t be fun or pretty to be laughed right out of their church!

Hmmm, that’s a really humbling thought.  Praise God He didn’t leave me like I was back then.

Jesus, who was perfect and lived a perfect life, even HE couldn’t get the respect in His own hometown that He deserved.  Talk about sad.  Sadder still is that because of the way He was treated, He didn’t offer as many miracles because they wouldn’t have believed them anyway.

Let’s face it…people on the whole are judgmental and we have superiority complexes.  Even the most humble of us, will fight it in one circumstance or another.

It’s really difficult to be objective when there is history involved.

I mean, get real…

  • Who ever forgets the kid who vomits on the teacher in school?
  • Or the boy who picked his nose and ate it when he thought no one was looking?
  • Or the girl who had to drop out of high school because she got pregnant?
  • Or the cheerleader who came out of her top at a game?
  • Or the bad boy that every girl had a secret crush on?
  • Or the one that broke our hearts?
  • Or the one that never knew that they broke our hearts?

It’s super hard to consciously “forget” experiences with people.  And that is what we have to do in order to objectively view them in the present and offer the respect that may now be due.

None of us are who we once were (at least I pray you have grown).  If you haven’t changed at all since high school, you might want to see a counselor about that, or rather talk to THE Counselor, Jesus about that!

Anyway, none of us have stayed the same.  Some people have only just begun to change.  Others changed years ago and continue to change.  Just because someone may still live in the same town, doesn’t mean they are the same person you once knew.  Experience, trials, tribulations, loss, grief, joy…all combine to shape us into the future “us”.

We all need to try very hard to ‘see’ others with new eyes, even if we’ve known them for years.

1 Peter 4

Chapter 4 begins by saying goodbye to the old you and bringing on the new you. I really like the first few verses because it shows that God immediately begins working within us. There is no “waiting period” to see if our salvation is going to “take” before the changes begin. In the blink of an eye, we begin changing just as in the blink of an eye, we were saved and our blessed hope is in the blink of an eye Christ will call us to Him.
4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;
 
First, can I just say that this verse really hits the nail on the head! How many times have we tried to make changes in our lives only to be sabotaged by friends that didn’t have our best interests at heart?
Excesses of dissipation … this is an interesting phrase.
Excesses means the state of exceeding what is normal or sufficient.
Dissipation means :
  1. The act of dissipating or the condition of having been dissipated.
  2. Wasteful expenditure or consumption.
  3. Dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure; intemperance.
Dissolute means:
adj. adjective
  1. Lacking moral restraint; indulging in sensual pleasures or vices.
So, basically, people get really weirded out when someone all of a sudden decides to live a better life and/or give up some bad habits. Misery loves company and if someone has a vice, they want others to have it too so that they can feel normal.
Likewise, if someone practices immoral behavior they tend to surround themselves with other people who do as they do and it becomes acceptable, even normal. The phrase, when in Rome… comes to mind.
I can identify with this, too well.
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
This is so true. That’s all I can really say about this and it is enough.
Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.
 
This also gives us a way to remember not to take selfish pride in things. When good things happen it is often hard to remember to give the glory to God. In all area’s of our lives we need to help each other remember to not partake in selfish pride but to give the glory to God.
 It’s nice to receive compliments for our artistry or talents…like our quilts… or our drawings… and we can feel joy when others take pleasure in them. But we have to remember that if we are artistic, God graced us with a gift. If we have come up with a great design for a quilt, God gave us the inspiration. Even in the hardest things we have to look for a way to give over the glory and that may be a simplistic, God created me, so if it weren’t for Him I wouldn’t be here to have done this, or that or whatever the case may be.
If I lose weight, I’ve done it on His strength and not my own. If I quit smoking, I do it on His strength and not my own. If I cook a fantastic meal, it’s because God provides my every need. Gratefulness is something to be practiced.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
 
Many times I hear these verses used to describe all kinds of trials and sufferings to explain about bad things happening and for me, I think this is an incorrect interpretation of these verses. To me, these verses are talking about a very specific kind of suffering. The kind of suffering that comes about because you are a Christian, a follower of Christ. I may be wrong but I think there are other verses that speak better to normal day to day trials we may go through.
These verses aren’t speaking to me about the trials one might go through to grow in faith and purify their spirits. I think these verses 12-16, are speaking specifically about suffering for Christ’s sake.
Verses 17-19 is talking about judgment. Other verses claim that all will be judged. It begins with the house of God first and if we are God’s children, it stands to reason we would be judged first. Being judged is not easy but I think these are the changes we are going through when we accept Christs gift to us. He begins to work within us immediately so that when we die, our judgment has already taken place. Our trials and tribulations, we have already experienced and grown from.
It’s not easy being a follower of Christ. It’s not easy to make changes or even to acknowledge that changes must be made. Without Christ, it is impossible. If it’s hard for us as believers, how impossible is it for non believers as verse 18 asks?