Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intentional Input

I have been thinking lately about what helps us to grow spiritually, to develop that maturity and appetite for the “meat” of the Word and not only for “milk.” The book of Hebrews explains, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (5:14). 
Notice the words “practice” and “trained.” This is our part! We put what God teaches us through His Word into practice and in doing so, we train ourselves to distinguish between good and evil. Unfortunately, there is a major problem: we are easily deceived. Evil is so often called good, and good is called evil these days, just as in the days of Isaiah: 
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).  

Have you experienced this in your life? Do people that you work with call evil good and good evil? What about your family? Friends? Other people you are around regularly? There are so many influences we encounter -- sometimes daily -- that we have little control over.
But what about intentional input; things we choose to put into our lives? 
What you put into your your mind eventually influences your heart (perspectives, attitudes, desires, thoughts, etc.). If we are not careful about our own intentional influences, we may unintentionally consider evil good, and good evil! Consider what influences you are intentionally allowing into your life through what you:
    • Watch (TV, movies, Internet)
    • Listen to (music, teaching, movies)
    • Look at (Online, magazines)
    • Read (books, websites, articles)
Are you training your senses to discern good and evil? Are you putting things into your mind and heart that are against God and His holiness? Are you accepting whatever ideas and teaching that sounds good or popular? (I ask myself these same questions!) We even have to beware of so-called “Christian” material and teaching, and be like the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily to see whether the things they learned from the apostle Paul (and Silas) were accurate (Acts 17:11). If they were examining the truth of Paul’s teaching, certainly we have a responsibility to do so concerning today’s teachers of God’s Word!
If you have taken a moment to examine your choice of input and realize that something needs to change, how will you do it? 
Filling your mind with the things of God will turn your focus upward and help you develop spiritual maturity. You will long for the meat of God’s Word, and not be satisfied by milk only. Such an appetite for God Himself will never be satiated -- and that hunger is good!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Words to Live By

I am currently reevaluating my blog. First of all, in my naivety, I had no idea how many other “bloggers” there are out there! Many far more professional looking, more well-written, more widely read than mine. But what is the purpose of this blog, after all? I do not want it to be about me. Even if there is only a handful of you out there reading this blog (“hi, Mom!”), I want it to be something that will turn readers’ eyes upward, toward Christ -- whether there is 1 of you or 100 of you. I hope it is an avenue by which you can be challenged and encouraged to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ; to have a mind that is firmly focused upon the Lord (Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 26:3). 
In whatever I write or whatever I share, I will try to keep it succinct yet significant.  You need time to read those other blogs, and still keep priorities straight, right?! My goal is to whet your own appetite for a deeper study of the Bible -- or maybe just to get you into the Word at all. His are the Words of life (John 6:63, 68). If you are frazzled, bogged down, discouraged, overwhelmed, or just plain bored, you need those words of life -- abundant life.
What are you living by? Most days I don’t feel like I’d survive very well on three meals a day; I need a couple of snacks (and some chocolate) thrown in there, too! Okay, of course I would survive...but I admit my “flesh” (sinful tendencies) would rear it’s ugly head more quickly. 
What about spiritually? Is it enough to have one “meal” per week and try to survive? Some of us try to do this. We attend church or Bible study once a week, while during the other six days the Bible collects dust. It is neither in our hands nor our hearts during the day. There is no way we can have abundant life in Christ if He is not our life and His Words our very sustenance (see Colossians 3:4 & Matthew 4:4). 
So again, what are you living by -- spiritually speaking? What needs to change? Take a moment and pray for God to give you a burning desire to feed on His Word, make Jesus Christ your life, and experience the abundant joy He offers.
By the way, if you need a place to start with Bible study, check out my previous posts titled “Digging Deeper Into God’s Word,” Parts 1-4 under the Topic of Bible Study.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ringing in the New Year

It’s a new year...a fresh start...a chance for revival and renewal to take place in our hearts and homes.  For many of us it is a time to make “New Year’s Resolutions.”  But how long do those tend to last? 
While making a resolution is a great concept, keeping that resolution is the hard part!  What changes do you want to make this year -- personally (and inter-personally), physically, spiritually?  Maybe you want to eat better...workout more outgoing...mend a relationship...have victory over a particular sin...
I know how I would like to change!  I can identify the besetting sins in my life; I want true freedom from those sins.  But is it enough just to know where and how we want to change?  Of course not.  We need to have a plan in place.  Develop a realistic plan and break it down into “mini-goals” that you can achieve (with the help of the Lord!).  And, of course, the key: stick to it.  Or modify it if necessary.  Ask a friend to hold you accountable to reaching your goal(s) this year.  Check in regularly with her (weekly, monthly) and be honest about how you are doing, what obstacles you face, and how she can pray for you.  If your goal regards issues of overcoming sin, be sure to seek God’s counsel in the Bible or ask a godly woman to help you do so.
Whatever your desires may be for this year, be sure to consult the Lord and seek His wisdom and help first and foremost!  He will help you discern whether your desires match up with His desires for you.
Blessings for the new year,