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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Abiding in Love

It's time for another week's reflections on the Bible readings I'm doing with Good Morning Girls. Here's the readings:




This week I'm feeling led to do this a little differently. Here are the passages I've selected from each day's reading, and at the end I'm writing a weekly reflection, instead of reflecting on each in turn. Therefore read each of these in turn, taking it as a whole, for I feel the Lord has spoken to me at least in this.

Sunday- 1 John 4 "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us." (v.15-19)

Monday- 1 John 5 "Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?...If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.  And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." (v.5, 9-12)

Tuesday- 2 John 1 "The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:" (v. 1-2)

Wednesday- 3 John 1 "I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church." (v. 9-10)

Thursday- Jude 1 "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ...But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." (v. 3-4, 17-23)

Friday- Psalm 1 "Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night." (v. 1-2)

Saturday- Psalm 2 "Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him." (v. 10-12)

I went through the readings this week selecting passages that spoke to me, after I prayed, for this blog post. I was about halfway through this selection when I noticed that, to me, it was a very cohesive message.

It starts talking about love. I should probably say "Love" with a capital L in that in many ways this is discussing the nature of God. It's discussing how Love being in someone is because of God being in them, and this progresses in discussing that salvation comes only from our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other god, no other name by which we are saved. This is an exclusivity message that often gets Christians in trouble, but it's also a message of hope in that there is a way to be saved, there is a path to God, and it is a person, not dependent on us, but proven by His love living in us, and us abiding in love.

Then the passages start talking about how Christians love each other. Indeed, our Lord said that by our love we will be known. John writes to one lady saying she is loved by all who know the truth, that is, all of the children of God. This is important to remember, that a Christian, through God, lives love out and loves all, most especially their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then in the next letter John says he's having difficulty with someone named Diotrephes, who obviously has a place of leadership in the local church because he is able to ignore a letter of John's, is practicing wickedness, and is rejecting those who should be his brethren in Christ. Contrasting that to what was said in the other passages, this reflects the lack of love in him. Which possibly means a lack of Christ in him.

In the next letter the writer is Jude, not John, but he writes about a similar issue, saying that apparently non-Christians have infiltrated the church, not really being in Christ but instead living in their flesh. He warns the readers against this and urges them to pray in the Spirit, keep abiding in God's love and awaiting His mercy. He also urges them to "have mercy on those who doubt, save others by snatching them out of the fire" which I see both as intervening when the infiltrating non-Christians are confusing people in the church and also probably hoping mercy for those same troublemakers, though I am not confident that's what he's saying. But there's definitely an acknowledgement that not everyone who comes to church is there for and in Christ and an urging to abide in God. One of the phrases used for the false people is "scoffers."

Thus the passage talking about "scoffers" in the next reading just jumped out at me. I love Psalm 1 and the vision of the tree, but today reading it I was struck more by the opening passages and how they directly reflected the rest of what I'd been reading! It seemed like a summary of the passage of the previous day's reading.

And lastly it all came home to me when the last reading of the week had a passage leaping out to me that started "And therefore"... it really does seem to me this passage is addressing the other readings of this week. That's what the Spirit does when it illuminates the Bible to us.

Just taking it all in, realizing how love should be in us and how we need to cling to Christ and love others, how we need to fear God and "kiss the Son", for this is where salvation comes from. We take refuge in Him, and the amazing thing? He comes into us as well, so that we abide together.

Amen and Alleluia.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thanks and Blessings

This is the time of the week I take time to thank God for the blessings He's given me.

I am thankful for fresh vegetables. God's given us the blessings of them and I've currently got homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove.

I'm thankful I made banana bread for the first time this week and Ryan loved it.

I'm thankful for my darling Dreamer, who is currently dreaming away in her swing next to me.

I'm thankful for the Hindi lessons I'm taking. I'm getting so excited that I'll actually learn this language!

I'm thankful for friends near and far.

I'm thankful for plants and the beauty of God's creation.

I'm thankful for my cats and my husband and our apartment.

I'm thankful for pasta.

I'm thankful for the sense of smell that has me happy that our home smells of Italian food right now.

I'm thankful for Dreamer's wardrobe, which is primarily generously given gifts by all sorts of people we're blessed to have in our lives.

I'm thankful for my phone and our computer.

I'm thankful for my God, always.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Scripture Sunday


His Anointing Teaches You About Everything

I'm writing about another week of Blogging through the Bible with Good Morning Girls. This week we read these verses:



I've decided for my weekly post I'll take each day's reading and either highlight a verse and talk about it, or highlight a concept.

Sunday- 1 Peter 5 "So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (v. 1-5)

I rarely see a church that operates this way. That is, too often I see the leaders of the church trying to lead by "compulsion" ('I say, you must do' attitude) and being dismissive of the contributions of others if they don't align with their "vision" for the way things should go. At the same time it must be acknowledged that in every church, even those with mature and wise elders in Christ, there are always younger Christians who refuse to listen or be subject to the elders. And I think the issue is often that after dealing with many of these un-humble younger Christians the elders get jaded and treat many who are not trying to oppose the leader as if they are, and seeds of discord get sown.

With that in mind, we should all extend more grace. Christ can and does promise to change us all. So we shouldn't let the past dictate how we treat people in the present, but instead always be open to listening to other Christians, all of us, elder and non-elder alike. Because all of us have the same Spirit and access to the same mind of Christ and therefore God can use us all. Who knows what blessings we're missing out on when we allow these things to cause barriers between us?

Monday- 2 Peter 1 "Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" (v.1)

Did you get that?

By your faith, through the righteousness of Jesus you have an equal standing with Peter before God.

When I was a child I remember my teachers in like vacation Bible school and Sunday School objecting to some of the things I said saying stuff like "What, do you think you're equal to St. Paul?"

Yes. That's the point!!

Humility is not putting yourself down. It is realizing the truth about yourself. The truth that apart from Jesus you are unworthy of anything... but also the truth that when you're a Christian you come IN Jesus and through Jesus are worthy of everything!

Putting yourself down and acting as though the saints of the Bible are better than you in some way (aside from Jesus of course) is missing the point of the gospel and His message of salvation. It is not humility, it is false humility.

Even St. Peter himself says here that if you have faith in Christ, you are on equal standing with him and the other apostles. Believe it!

Tuesday- 2 Peter 2 "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (v. 1-3)

These false prophets and teachers exist today. I can think of some examples, but I don't want to go into that. Instead think to yourself: what is their motive? Are they committing sensual acts? (Think of cult leaders that call themselves prophets and then take any woman follower they want as 'wives.') Are they getting rich off of this ministry? (Think of televangelists who sell books and ask for donations all the while preaching a vague, feel good message instead of the hard truths of the gospel.) It's all around us and you may even know some people being swayed by them.

Especially in the case of popular "celebrity" pastors, examine and test them. If they are truly called by God, they wouldn't be offended because He clearly says to test everything. If anything seems suspect, stop listening to them. Don't condemn or judge them- maybe you're wrong and you either misunderstand what they're saying or maybe they just made a mistake in interpreting something and later will be corrected by the Spirit. Don't ever judge them. But do steer away from them, because especially if you have the access to the internet it takes to read this blog you have myriads of resources at your fingertips and you don't need to hear from a teacher you're not sure you trust. Let the Spirit guide you in prayer on that.

Also don't get militant about it. The Spirit may lead you away from a teacher simply because He wants to guide you elsewhere, and not because of the teacher's teachings. If then your friend starts listening to that person, well perhaps the Spirit has something for them there. You may even consider re-examing them at a future time, for perhaps it was not that they are a false teacher but simply God knows you needed a log or two taken out of your eye before you could see what they are saying clearly. But if you think there is false teaching there, you can introduce your friend to your testings- "I steered away from them because they said 'x' and I think that contradicts what God says in book chapter verse" and see if they reach the conclusions you do... however, fear God enough that you don't explode at them "So and So is a FALSE TEACHER and you need to STEER AWAY" because what if the error is not the teacher's, but instead your own, and you attacking the work of God in them?

God is consistent and if the Holy Spirit is really in your friend then if your friend is listening to Him then the casual tests should be enough to steer them away if the Spirit is prompting that. But if the Spirit doesn't prompt them away, don't think you know better than God! You notice when Paul is warning the Corinthians about false teachers amongst them, he doesn't name names? He could, he obviously knows what's going on, but instead he just offers his own credentials and steers them back to the Truth of God they know, knowing if the Spirit is truly in them God will back him up. (It could be the case that your friend is not listening to the Spirit. In those cases, you should turn to prayer for them, and still not character attacks.)

I will say fear the Lord in this though and if you feel Him calling you to speak out against someone, obviously obey Him and not my advice. But unless you feel that specific calling, I would avoid it because what if you are speaking out against His child without realizing it?

Wednesday- 2 Peter 3 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." (v. 9 &10)

This is just such an awe inspiring message. Who knows when the day of the Lord shall be? We should thank God for His mercy in being "slow" to come, and not ever doubt that He will come just because He's merciful.

Thursday- 1 John 1 "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (v.5)

My favorite hymn has that in it ("In Him there is no darkness at all, the night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the City of God, Shine in our hearts dear Jesus.") :)

But also this is such an essential Truth to grasp. I remember it being like, well like a lightbulb coming on and illuminating the Truth in every aspect of life. God is ALL good and there is NO darkness in Him. You get it?

So often we think of God as we think of people. We hold him to our standards. We think "if God does X" or "if God allows X" then what does that say about Him? We may even take it to a dangerous level and say "I don't want a God who does or allows X!" and set ourselves up to be judging God.

But when you grasp that God is ALL good then you realize two things about the way we see the world, the way we see God, and the Truth.

That is, in some ways when you don't like something God has said, done, or allowed you misunderstand who God is. For example, God does not do evil or have evil in Him. So when you see an evil doer you're not seeing the work of God, you're seeing sin. What you have attributed to God is not God, but is the direct result of rejecting God. Sin is something contrary to God's will.

At the same time, sometimes when you don't like something God has said, done, or allowed you have misunderstood what good is. For example if something is declared to be sin, but you enjoy doing it or perhaps just don't understand the harm in someone doing it, you might think God is the bad one for saying it is contrary to His will. Instead, this is where humility comes in, and you have to say "My Lord and God, I do not understand how that is a sin, but you say it is, and so I submit to you knowing that you are perfect and in you there is no darkness at all, so it is not you are are dark, but my understanding."

Friday- 1 John 2 "But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him." (v.27)

This is something that many fail to grasp. Christians do not need a teacher. Now you might be thinking but Christ calls "some to be teachers" and that's totally true. But it is the Holy Spirit in the Christian that highlights the teaching of the teacher and actually does the teaching. Too often Christians who are called to teach try to take the teaching away from the Holy Spirit. The Christians they are teaching will bring up something that the Holy Spirit highlighted for them and the teacher will steer it away, because it's not on their agenda. Or they'll approach the teaching as if it's the secular teaching that happens in a school, outlining points to know, memory verses, etc without actually praying or getting to the heart of anything. It's an academic exercise, not a spiritual feeding.

At the same time, many Christians who are being taught approach the teachers called by God in the wrong manner. They do this one of two ways. They either treat them as God ("Well maybe the Bible says that but my pastor said" or "I heard from this famous Christian on the radio that") or they forget they are called by God ("Well maybe that's Biblical, but I'd rather hear about") and in both of these ways false teachers can creep in. Which is what Peter is trying to talk about here.

One last fallacy that also happens is the idea that the only place God speaks is through the appointed teacher/teachers. For example I know of church small groups that think the only topic of conversation when they get to fellowship should directly relate back to the sermon the past Sunday. While you can certainly bring up that common hour or so experience of the group and see if God spoke to someone through the pastor's words, it's a total imbalance to ignore the other 167 hours of the week that God might have spoken to someone in the group!

The truth is that no teacher on earth has the authority of the Teacher inside the Christian. Respect and listen to teachers, but always test everything they say. And also listen to God even when man is not around. Often the biggest lessons we learn is through our private time with Him. But when you try to share with some Christians, they will ignore you because they think that lacks "authority." They do not understand that God is greater than man.


Saturday- 1 John 3 "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." v.2

What a wonderful promise! When we see God as He is, our impurities will all be abolished, for gazing on God eradicates them. This is why Christ came! This is why Moses did not get to see God when he asked but only His "back". If we are not born again, we are bound to sin and unrighteousness is a part of us, woven into our being. Therefore in the full out presence of God we would be destroyed. But when we are born of God, the part of us that is saved to eternity is made of Him and when we see Christ it will be a purification, like the dross being burned off the golden ore, so only pure gold remains. And then we will be purely righteous, transformed. That promise is sure and true!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thankful

I'm thankful to God I was able to get to Hindi lessons yesterday. 
Thankful for my husband's days off... even though really I don't get on the computer when he's home.

I am thankful for sleep, albeit wishing I had  more control over the when part of it.

I am thankful for chocolate. Always.

I am thankful, yet again, for chai tea.

I am thankful for sunshine and it's amazing laundry drying properties.

I am thankful for Dreamer's swing.

I am thankful for Dreamer's little monkey decorated sleeping outfit that keeps her the right temperature at night.

I am thankful for her new playpen.

I am thankful for humor. Especially Dreamer's intoxicatingly adorable laugh!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Dreamer and the Cats

That sounds like a band, eh?

Vex really likes her. He and Princess both love cuddling our feet, like they'll run up and rub their faces and body on our feet and like us to pet them with our feet (which is excellent when I've got Dreamer taking over my arms.) Over a month ago he suddenly ran up when Dreamer was in my lap, her feet hanging off my arm and rubbed his face on hers! It was really cute and Ryan and I were pleased...

However, he's also got another way of showing affection. He (and Princess too) like to lick Ryan's
head. Princess actually started it last fall after Ryan had gotten a haircut so his hair was fur-length short. She started to sit and groom him, and Ryan likes the way it feels so he'd encourage it. Vex picked it up, but unlike Princess didn't decide the hair had to be fur length. So he'll also run up to me and start chewing on my hair. Like he'll take a mouthful and just chew on it like it's gum (not swallowing or anything.) I have to save it from him. Haha. Anyway, so the same day he started rubbing her feet he also ran up and tried to lick her hair and we had to stop him. Too germy. But it's sweet that he wants to, even if we can't encourage it.

The other day too he tried to snuggled up to Dreamer. Luckily I was right there and kept him from accidentally sitting on her. She was in this mosquito net thing I put her in sometimes and he was fascinated and came over and started laying on top of the edge... I had to keep pushing him away from her... but it made for cute pictures. And she was totally oblivious.

Princess on the other hand... eh. She's jealous of Dreamer I think. But not like mean jealous. Actually it's good Vex doesn't seem jealous and she does, though unexpected. When giving attention to them, Vex is the one who gets easily jealous and will shove Princess out of the way. Princess instead just gets a bit sad when she's jealous, but doesn't do anything about it. And that's how she is with Dreamer. She'll just look at me forlornly and be glum. However when I try to call her over to pet her with my free hand, she avoids me.

This Dreamer's new play pen: can you spot the cat wanting
in to play? lol.
However the second she sees me without Dreamer in my arms or right next to me she comes running up, excited, meowing for attention.

Princess was very fascinated actually a few weeks ago.. but when I'd let her get close she'd always veer away with a "oh, boring" look on her face. So I think that's her assessment of Dreamer so far: a very boring human kitten, not fun to play with but also taking all of Mommy's time. Sigh. She doesn't seem to see what I find fascinating about her yet.

Princess has also always been much more hyper and she's making it abundantly clear that the cats obviously need more toys. She's been stealing Dreamer's to play with... admittedly Dreamer could care less as she's not very interested in toys yet. But that's changing and I want to keep them out of the cat's paws. I need to get or make Princess some new toys, I know. Ryan doesn't want to spend any money and I hesitate to crochet her toys as after I crocheted them some last fall they both seemed to think that all crocheted things are cat toys. Consequently they will steal stuff I've crocheted for us or Dreamer. Still, thinking about it if I buy them toys they will probably be made of similar materials (plush stuff or hard plastic maybe) that Dreamer's toys are made of, so I'll have to teach them that just because it's a material used in their toy doesn't mean it is their toy. So I am thinking I might as well just make them new toys out of yarn, since it'll be the same difference but a whole lot more affordable.

As for Dreamer's reaction to the cats? So far pretty good. She was oblivious until recently, but if I pick up the cats and show her now she will usually smile or at least be wide eyed in interest. She seems to like Vex better, but I think it's because he's more rounded and babies are attracted to roundness in faces. She doesn't seem afraid of either of them.
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