February 20, 2017

Is Spiritual Growth Worth the Work?

Do you ever get tired of striving to grow spiritually one baby step at a time - and sometimes going big steps backwards instead of forwards? Do you wonder if it's truly "worth it" to practice self-control, to be consistent, to love the unlovely? Do you ever think... you're going to heaven anyway, so what's the big deal about becoming a better Christian right now? The day-to-day struggles can be wearying. And when you consider how many commands there are in Scripture about how we are to live -- qualities to develop, temptations to avoid, or good things to pursue -- how can we ever hope to do it all? To achieve spiritual maturity? For example, we have this list in 2 Peter 1 of qualities [...Read More]


Good Things

Which makes more of an impact on you -- suffering or sweetness? Good things or hard? Which one forces you to your knees? Most of us would probably say suffering. Right? Hard times push us to urgently search His Word, and get more intimate in prayer. But why can't good things do that, too? Why can't blessings cause us to trust Him more, and find His sweet peace? Why can't sweetness help us to abide under the shadow of His wings? Good things are good things. They are gifts from a beneficent God, who loves His creation and wants to bless it bounteously. And we should enjoy those good things! After all, He has personally chosen specific gifts for each one of us. He has personally [...Read More]


Gratitude: Just Start Looking

Psalm 103 exhorts us to praise God and remember all His benefits. That can be hard if you're going through a rough season of life. It can be hard if you're mired in difficulty with no end in sight. But believe me, He is still blessing you. It can also be hard to see those benefits if you haven't been looking for them. If you don't know how to look for them. But counting your blessings doesn't have to be difficult. All you have to do is start looking. Because you won't see His plethora of blessings until you start looking for them. You won't realize just how much He's given you, until you start trying to notice it all. And then you'll be astounded by it. You'll be overwhelmed by [...Read More]


Gratitude: Spiritual Blessings

We who are Christians have so many reasons to be grateful!  We usually think of the obvious blessings of salvation, and the Bible, and an eternity in Heaven. But we have so much more!  We have true wisdom and incomprehensible peace and abundant joy. We have divine instruction, holy conviction, and unfailing direction. We have comfort and lasting hope and a sure refuge. I think we often overlook our spiritual blessings because they're not tangible things. You can't hold them, share them on Instagram, or cuddle with them on a rainy day. You won't find them in your mailbox, or get a discount on them at the store. In fact, these things can't be bought or even hand-crafted. They are [...Read More]


Snapshot of a Blessed Person

The Bible reading plan I'm working through includes a Psalm for almost every day. I love that. It's so great to read a big chunk of history or prophecy, and then flip over to read a chapter of devotional poetry. The Psalms are so encouraging and comforting -- and yet they're more than just "greeting card" sentiments. They are jam-packed with theology! For instance, we find chapters about the inerrancy of God's Word (Psalm 19, 119), the creation of man by the direct act of God (Psalm 139), the presence and personality of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51, 104), and the immutability of God and His various attributes. Psalms speaks a lot about God's standard for righteousness, in particular. [...Read More]


How to Keep a Blessings Book

Do you choose a word for each year? Some people do that instead of making resolutions, in hopes of focusing on a certain direction for the next twelve months. I've never done it before, and I do set goals each year, but this year I decided to choose a word as well: GRATITUDE. God keeps reminding me to be more grateful. In fact, I've heard the word a lot over the past few months. Everything from friends who keep thankfulness lists, to friends who blog about being joy-filled, to friends who complete 40-day thankfulness challenges. And then my friend Catherine gave me a "Blessings Book" for Christmas. I've never kept a "Blessings Book" or a thankfulness journal or anything like that [...Read More]


Lessons from the Magnificat

Can you imagine the emotion that roiled through Mary's heart, as she anticipated giving birth to the great Messiah? On the one hand, she must have been awed by the thought that Almighty God would choose her, a simple maiden, to bear His Son. That He would choose her to bring old prophecies to pass. That He would choose her to help change the course of the world's future. On the other hand, she must have been overwhelmed by her situation. Here she was, betrothed to the man she loved (similar to the modern engagement, although much more binding), and all of sudden pregnant. Of course, back in that day, pregnancy outside of marriage was punishable by death! Can you imagine the courage [...Read More]


How to Flourish in Life

I woke up feeling discouraged this morning. I've been going through another rough week health-wise (nothing serious, just a few lingering things), and am impatient to feel better. And I was moping around, feeling sorry for myself and whining to God, and He gently nudged me and reminded me: focus on something else. As in, stop thinking about myself and get busy! And then I grabbed my Bible to do my daily reading, and found a common thread running through the verses: the benefits of trusting in God. You might wonder whether that actually relates to feeling lousy, but it does. You see, if I want to be in control of how my body feels, then I am not trusting God's control. If I want to feel [...Read More]


Rebellion & Righteousness {TTB12}

This week I've been reading from Numbers and Revelation. And you may wonder, as I did, what connections there are between those two books. One is history, one is prophecy. One is the old covenant, one is the new. One deals with Israel alone, the other deals with all the redeemed from all ages. One shows man's sinfulness, the other shows God's righteousness. But it is that last contrast that actually proves to connect the two books. You see, God always {eventually} repays us according to our works. If we rebel against Him, we receive punishment. If we live according to His righteous commands, we receive honor and blessings. And the surety of these truths is portrayed so clearly in the [...Read More]


The Path of Obedience

Have you ever felt weary of doing what you know God wants you to do? Maybe you're not seeing the results you hoped for, or maybe it's just a whole lot harder than you thought it would be. I totally get it. The past few years it's been so easy to get discouraged and wearied at trudging the same path day after day, feeling like we're never making progress. Never finding those green pastures and still waters and pleasant places. Never reaching the peak and starting the easy downhill slope, just ever trudging upward and onward. But God keeps reminding me to not just trust Him but also to obey Him. To keep walking with Him down the path that He called us to. Because He commands it, and those who [...Read More]