Are you ready?
Which comes first? Bible study to motivate a person to make lifestyle changes or an event that creates a turning point?
Often a catalyst sets change in motion. A wake-up call can come from anywhere at any time. But, is it necessary to experience an event or is God’s Word enough to make a 180 degree turn?
I am convinced God’s Word and His promised voice is enough to make life altering healthy changes. I know God’s Word changes people because it has changed me. More importantly, God says His Word is enough. He describes His Word as powerful and effective. He assures us there will be visible and even catastrophic and magnificent results.
"Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
Jeremiah 23:29 NAS
My heart and pride can be as hard and stubborn as a rock. God’s Word can find the fissure, crack it open and extrude the vein of soft gold inside for Him to shape for Himself. The same fire can refine and shine the gold to glorify my Maker.
We can be confident God will act and act on time.
“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Is the LORD'S power limited?
Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.’” Numbers 11:23 NAS
"Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "None of My words will be delayed any longer.
Whatever word I speak will be performed,""' declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 12:28 NAS
Do you want your life improve? Prayerfully immerse yourself in God’s Word, silently wait to hear His voice and expect change.
Dig Deeper into God's Word
Bible scripture is a gift. Two of the websites I have found extremely helpful to "dig deeper" into God's Word are www.biblestudytools.com and www.biblehub.com. With these, you can see how a particular word is used, in context, elsewhere in the Old or New Testament. You can use the sites to review other translations of the same verse to better understand its meaning. Please let me know if you have questions about particular verses.
Remember, as always, God made you on purpose and for His purpose. He wove every fiber and built every bone of your physical body and has a deep yearning to have an unreserved connection with you. You are His work! (Psalms 139:4)
We need laughter! "Laughing 100 to 200 times per day is the cardiovascular equivalent of rowing for 10 minutes." Keep doing those push-ups, though!
It broke my heart
I saw a sad thing today. When I pulled out of the gym parking lot, I got behind an SUV with handicapped license plates. They were vanity plates that read IM ILL.
I was stunned. This person has now defined herself as a sick person who is never going to get better. To her, there was no hope.
Those in the car may be physically handicapped, but, more than that, they are spiritually crippled and defeated. They don't know the God of second chances. If they do know Him, they know a blurred, fading God without concern for them or power to heal them.
Over and over again in Bible study, God shows me He never gives up on me and, with Him, there is always the possibility of a 180 degree turn. He yearns for us to take it. Not a slight deviation for the better. No. A turnaround, a rescue from disaster, recovery and restoration. He will heal from the inside out, soul first and body second.
2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (The Message translation.) says "...we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing."
Isaish 43:18-19 “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." (New American Standard)
If I had the opportunity, I would pay for new plates for this hurting person. How about: NEW HOPE, 8NT DONE,
GETN BETR, 180 TRN, RESTORG, G-D LFTD.
I worship the mighty, powerful, healing God of second chances.
Look at her now!
"Wow. Oh my gosh."
I expected to next hear, what I usually hear, when women see full length pictures of themselves. Instead, I happily heard, "I look great!"
I looked at this happy face in front of me and the picture on my phone and couldn't resist saying "What a cutie." Kathy's husband, who was taking the pictures, made the best comment possible. "I'm not going to be able to let you out."
Kathy Dean has lost 30 pounds since she started leading the Body Surprised! Bible study in six months ago and now has to decide between the off-the-shoulder look or replacing clothes literally shedding off her body. She hasn't seen these current numbers on the scale, or size tags on her clothes, in over 25 years. Her original goals of being able to get down and back up off of the floor with ease, and walking around the block comfortably, are long behind her. I wonder if she remembers these were her goals.
When I saw her shopping for new clothes Saturday she first told me she is now in a size 12 and then about her weight lifting routine. Last month she gave me a recipe for her morning low fat, high protein breakfast smoothie and showed me her food plan.
This shy, wonderful, caring woman is elated with her new lease on life. What happened? She figured out she is important and valuable to God and to her world. She has something to offer and a purpose she alone can fulfill. Kathy is equipping herself to do what she longs to do most -- live God's call on her life.
Hebrews 13:21 Now the God of peace equip(s) you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (NAS)
And, Kathy, you really do look great.
Acts 17:28 "...for in Him we live and move and exist...." (NAS)
I claim mobility with this verse. I claim the ability to put one foot in front of the other physically and spiritually. This interpretation is valid but too mild once you study the verse. The Greek word "kineo," is translated into move in Acts 17:28. "Kineo" is translated differently in Matthew 27:39. Here is the verse from Matthew:
“And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads. (NAS)
Can you pick out the word used as move in Acts 17:28? It is difficult to find because of cultural changes over 2,000 years. Kineo is translated into the word "wagging" in Matthew 27:39. It is the same word used here in Rev. 6:14.
“The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain
and island were moved out of their places.” (NAS)
In Acts 21:30:
“Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him
out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.” (NAS)
"For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world,
and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” (NAS)
The wagging of heads in Matthew 23:39 then, must mean more than just a passing and passive disapproval. I look at the usages of the word in all of these verses and realize there is violence to it, necessity, determination. People are provoked to action, to even cause a riot.
If I expand Acts 17:28 could it read
...for in Him we live and violently move, provoke, stir up to cause an uproar and exist....
Does my embellishment of Acts 17:28 describe you or your church congregation? With these verses in mind, are we allowed to be complacent? Does complacency sedate us? Have we become domesticated and so nervous about making a mistake or offending that we refuse to stir up to action?
To make a change you and I must evaluate our motives, priorities and faith. These verses call us to think through the result and intensity of our actions, or lack of actions, and imagine the possible results once we include God’s power to move islands and mountains.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Tim 1:7
My personal prayer is: LORD, help me create a godly commotion today in Your name.
Burn the bra!
Burn the bra! That was the mantra of the bourgeoning feminist movement when my best friend and I started college in the early 70s. Bra burning was meant t￼o symbolize a new independence for women. They no longer had to be constrained by elastic, padding and fasteners. Women of the 70s didn’t have to go by the fashion norms of their mothers; the rule book was thrown out the window.
There is a new independence for my best friend, who is throwing away an old bra for new one. Instead of being too small and restrictive, the bras she is throwing away is now are too big and baggy on her body that is getting fit and healthy.
This is a good problem to have! Shopping can be fun again. Every time she gets dressed she has something pretty and new to remind her of her progress and that her goals are possible.
Burn that old bra! Who wants to go back to that bulky thing?
Numbers 10:29 "We are setting out to the place of which the LORD said, 'I will give it to you; come with us and we will do you good, for the LORD has promised good concerning Israel." (NAS)
Are you hearing God's call or feeling unreasonably guilty?
It has been so easy for me to feel guilty when I fail to answer a request for volunteers, especially when the need is worthwhile and Christ-centric. I have learned that guilt is NOT from God. Since I started my break from working full-time I realized my schedule had been FULL and it would have been damaging to me and my family to take on additional commitments.
Answering a desperate need for a good cause, with time or funds, without direction from God goes counter to both New and Old Testament passages. Those who are determined to help without Godly direction are spread too thin. They are too busy to understand and to do the work meant only for them. An enthusiastic but misdirected giver takes the place of the person meant and equipped by God to fill that void.
Like me, you may already be familiar with the New Testament verses in 1 Corinthians 12 about this idea. Paul writes:
“And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
….to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
…the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” NAS
"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body,
though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot says, 'Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,' it is not for this reason
any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, 'Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,'
it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?
If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members,
each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be?” NAS
Verses in Exodus I read this morning make the idea of only-do-what-God-directs-you-to-do clearer. Exodus chapters 35 and 36 describe how the Tabernacle was underwritten by the Israelites’ talents and goods.
"Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought
the LORD’S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service
and for the holy garments." Exodus 35:21 NAS
"All the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats' hair." Exodus 35:26 NAS
"The Israelites , all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring
material for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done,
brought a freewill offering to the LORD." Exodus 35:29 NAS
"Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill,
everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it." Exodus 36:2 NAS
It takes more than ability or willingness to complete godly work that moves the Body of Christ forward. God needs to stir our hearts to a task and purpose. We may be stirred to lifetime work or a temporary charge. How we listen to, and answer God, makes a difference. We live in a scary, blind, crippled world. Spiritual and physical need is tremendous and overwhelming. Yet, I am convinced if each of us responds to how the LORD stirs our hearts, the need would be met. The Church would perceive with brilliant eyes, hear the voice of God with apprehending ears and move with strong and capable legs and feet.
“and they said to Moses, ‘the people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded us to perform.’ For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.”
Exodus 36:5 & 7. NAS
The story of the Israelites building the Tabernacle continues in Exodus 36 and gives us more action to emulate.
My next-door-neighbor, Michelle, joined our fall Bible study and shared this first week experience with our group. I think we have all been where Michelle found herself. I hope you enjoy her e-mail as much as we did.
I was so proud of myself today for getting in a 30 min walk. I am not sure who will be more sore tomorrow, me or my dog who looked at me in complete disbelief when I invited him to join me. Apparently it had been longer than I thought since our last outing together.
I grew even more excited as I finished entering my calories at livestrong.com and found myself with some extra calories for a little snack tonight. So I ran to the freezer (quietly cause the kids are sleeping and I fear they will share my Pavlovian reaction to the sound of the freezer door opening). Wiping the drool from my chin, I reach in and grab the box of my chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwiches with the little chippies on the side. Again the look of disbelief from the dog.
Be proud, before I reached into the box with my twitchy fingers, I turned the box slowly to glance at the calorie count. That was when the chill ran down my spine. Not from the cool air of the freezer leaking from the still open door. No, from the size of the number hiding on the side of that box, which I never considered looking at before now. 350! What?!?!? Yep, 350. You can trust me on that, cause I rubbed it, shook the box, and even stared at it with my best "Mom look" willng it to drop that last zero. It proved more stubborn than my two year old. No change. 350.
Willpower, right? I dropped that box back in the freezer, slammed the door completely forgetting my earlier concerns of waking the children and did the next best thing that came to mind. Okay, the only thing that came to mind. I stomped down the stairs to go whine at my husband about my horrific revelation.
I'll refrain from describing how rapidly my attitude switched from proud of finding a way to lift my bum off the dent it had made in the couch for my earlier stroll with the pup, to acting suspiciously like my four year old when she doesn't get her way. At this point, I owe a prayer of thanks to God for a husband who patiently paused his game to hear my silly rant and turned my focus back to the success of the day vice the evils of ice cream manufacturing.
And so I thought I should share this with you, so we could all burn a few calories in a laugh over the ability of a number to have such a profound impact on my emotions. I think my husband may have burned enough to eat that ice cream cookie sandwich. Argh.