Knowing God (Week 4): Got Wisdom?

gotwisdom

Life has a way of presenting situations in which we are unclear as to what the best way forward is.

An attribute of God that He can pass onto us when we are in Christ, is wisdom. God is infinitely wise: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33).

Yet, He invites us to ask for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Solomon asked God for wisdom in the Old Testament and God opened His floodgates of wisdom (and more) to Solomon. Interestingly, notice why Solomon asked for wisdom here: “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours” (2 Chronicles 1:10)?

Solomon wanted help leading in the position that God had given to him.

What has God given you that you need help with? 

Maybe (like me) God’s gifted you with a child, and you need wisdom to know when to discipline your child and when to offer grace.

Maybe you want to lead your family better, but need wisdom to know how to best carry out that desire.

Maybe you need wisdom navigating relationships at your workplace.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in charge of many and you need wisdom to lead them well.

No matter what it is, God invites us to ask Him, and the God of infinite wisdom will pass some of His wisdom on to us.

Join me today in going to Him with what you need wisdom for.

Knowing God (Week 3): Not Appointed to Suffer Wrath

WrathofGodThis week we moved on from the “incommunicable” attributes (those that reside only with God) to the “communicable” attributes (those that can be passed on to us in some measure). One attribute that we don’t hear often in church is that of the wrath of God.

The wrath of God can be defined as God’s intense hatred of sin and evil. For example, Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

There are two aspects of God’s wrath that I’d like to point out in this post:

1) We should share God’s hatred of what is evil. Romans 12:9 says, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” I’m not saying we should hate people and act out on it. Let me give an example. Yesterday on the radio I heard a story of a man stabbing his son over a financial argument. A deeply rooted anger and sense of injustice welled up within me that I couldn’t explain – I believe it was this thought of me sharing God’s hatred of evil. However, as Jesus tells us to love our enemies, my mind quickly shifted to praying for this man, that he might be delivered from the enemy that has him so enslaved that he would commit such an act.

2) We should be extremely thankful for Christ saving us from the coming wrath of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Hallelujah! I can remember reading Colossians 3:5-6 in college and being discouraged: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” I thought, man, I’m guilty of this list – God’s wrath is coming on me. I didn’t have a mature view of the cross and of Jesus’ love for me. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:9, I’m not appointed to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through Jesus. That is good news!

So, what should we do with this truth?

First of all, don’t be surprised if as you grow in Christ, hatred towards evil also grows. It’s ok. Some of Jesus righteous anger will grow in you as you grow in Christ. Just try to pray for those committing those acts so that they would receive Him.

Secondly, give thanks today for Jesus and His plan of salvation to save you from His wrath. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is so encouraging. Let it encourage you. Also, consider listening to “In Christ Alone” which speaks of God’s wrath being satisfied on the cross and the benefits we receive as a result. Thank Him and worship Him in response.

If you would like to study the attributes of God on your own or with a group, click here and scroll down to “Knowing God” for resources.

Knowing God (Week 2): Greater than My Heart

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The attribute that stuck out to me this week was omniscience (an “incommunicable” attribute that can’t be passed on to us). Omniscience comes from two words:

omni = Latin for “all,” and,

scient = knowing

Thus, “omniscience” means all knowing. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

God sees all and knows all.

The super comforting part about this for me this week is that God knows me better than I know myself.

1 John 3:19-20 says, “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”

When I feel confused…God is greater than my heart and knows everything.

When the future seems unclear…God is greater than my heart and knows everything.

When my heart condemns itself for whatever reason…God is greater than my heart and knows everything.

Sometimes when I so badly want to know, Jesus is saying, “it’s ok, you don’t have to know because do…just trust me.”

What’s the area right now in which you just don’t know? Say a prayer right now in which you entrust it to Jesus. He knows. Everything.

Knowing God (Week 1): Dependent on the Independent

BEOh8g1CYAACKhu.jpg-largeThis week I began teaching an extension (a class focused on learning about a specific topic and helping folks get connected into our church) called “Knowing God.” In this extension, we are looking at God’s attributes, or characteristics. Today marks the first post in a five-week series I’ll do on what I’m learning as we move through this extension.

First of all, it’s worthy to note that some of God’s attributes are “incommunicable” – meaning that they aren’t passed onto us as humans. Yet, some of His attributes are “communicable” and He shares them with us as we receive Christ and are sanctified in Him (though we’ll never possess them to the extent that He does).

This week, the attribute that stood out to me the most is that of God’s independence (an incommunicable attribute). God does not need anything and is the only self-sufficient being in the world. Acts 17:25 says that “He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything.”

What amazes me though, is that even though God is this independent and infinite God, He chooses to give us life and salvation.

In fact, as much as he is completely independent, we are completely dependent on Him.

Immediately after Paul makes the statement above in Acts 17, he says, “Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else…for in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Wow! I have nothing without God. Every breath I take comes from Him. Each day is a gift ordained by Him.

Looking at this idea of God this week comforted me in that it was kind of like Jesus was saying to me, “I’ve got this” – in regards to my life.

He made me. He has numbered my days. He’s given me everything I’ve needed (and more) everyday of my life. Always.

I’m dependent upon the independent God of the universe and He loves it that way. Just like I love providing for my son, and just like I receive joy when he runs into my arms, Jesus is the same.

As it is He who made us, it is He that we are dependent upon, and He that will offer the most peace when we surrender all to Him.

T, C, P, Others, and Me!

prayer11It’s okay if you have no idea what the title of this post means – in fact, it’d be weird if you did! However, I hope by the end of it, you will have it memorized!

While reading scripture has come fairly naturally to me throughout life, prayer has not. Sometimes I’m easily distracted in prayer and end up giving up.

I’ve realized I need a system for prayer. The system helps my type-A personality stay focused and have a plan, but I’m not a slave to the system because it leaves lots of room for the Holy Spirit. So, here’s the rhyming acronym I’ve been using in prayer lately:

T, C, P, Others, and Me!

If you can remember that (and what each letter/category stands for) it may help your prayer life. Let me unpack each section:

T – I begin with thanksgiving. The Bible says to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). If you’re not sure where to start, enter the doors of prayer by giving thanks! On good days and bad, this discipline centers me and reminds me of God’s faithfulness.

C – The next phase is confession. The Bible says to do it, so we need to do it. It’s good for me each day to tell Jesus how I’ve sinned even though He already knows it. I ask for forgiveness, knowing “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), and then ask for more of his righteousness in that area of my life.

P – Here, I pray for protection. This is something I never used to do, but the more I walk with Christ, the more I’m aware that the enemy is literally prowling around “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The next verse says to “resist him,” and so here, I pray for resistance against my enemy. I also ask God to reveal to me areas in which the enemy may be attacking – then I pray for protection in those areas. Sometimes I look at the armor of God in Ephesians 6 and sort of “pray on” the armor before beginning my day.

Others – I break this section down into four more words: Family, friend, church, send. Can you tell I like rhymes? It helps me remember!

Each day in this section, I ask God to reveal one family member I need to pray for, one friend I need to pray for, one person, couple, or situation at church I need to pray for, and  one person in the world God is “sending” me to that needs prayer. This exercise not only unleashes Gods power on others, but makes me more others focused. Also, the “send” part reminds me of the great commission daily.

Me – Lastly, I pray for anything on my heart. I may look at my calendar for the day and pray over each item. I give Him my worries. I pray through the scripture I read that morning. Saving this for last keeps me from viewing God like a vending machine I go to for my wants only.

SO, I’ve found this acronym helpful as it gives me a framework for prayer. Remember, it’s only a framework. I’m not a slave to it. Sometimes Jesus leads me a different direction. That’s okay. I’ve just found that for my personality type, this framework helps me get into a flow before I give up due to distraction. I like it because it covers a lot of areas the Bible speaks to regarding prayer, but leaves lots of room for the Spirit to guide you during your prayer time. I hope it helps!

One Year, One Word

quietWhile we are almost a couple weeks into the new year now, I wanted to share with you an exercise that was helpful to me starting out this year.

It’s a four day devotional called “One Word That Will Change Your Life.” While I love setting goals and new year’s resolutions, studies show that we struggle to stick with them. This devotional uses scriptures and reflective questions regarding last year (and what Jesus has been speaking to you as of late) to help you come up with one word for this year.

Maybe it’s a fruit of the Spirit. Maybe it’s a discipline you need to take on. Maybe it’s a word of encouragement.

No, there’s nothing in the Bible that says you have to have a word to define your year. I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of the study when I began it. Yet, Jesus spoke to me throughout the four days and gave me a word that will help me not only with my mindset for the year, but also to know what goals are important to go for and what ones aren’t.

My word is quietness (or quiet for those grammar freaks out there – you’ll see in a minute why I chose quietness). Isaiah 30:15 says “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”

As I prayed through these four days, I really sensed that Jesus is asking me to deepen how I abide in Him. My strength truly is in “quietness and trust” rather than in busyness and hard work.

While Martha was busy doing things for Jesus, He told her sister Mary that sitting at His feet and listening was “better.” (Luke 10:38-42).

This year, I feel Jesus calling me to sit at his feet a little longer and be quiet. I need to trust that that is what is better and my work will still get done.

My strength is found in quietness.

What about you? What’s your word for 2015? Check out the one word study – I think it’s worth it and there’s still plenty of time for you to hear a word from Jesus for 2015.

A Counter-Intuitive Christmas Gift

mangerWhile I’m all about intentional growth when it comes to body, mind, and spirit, and many of the gifts we get this Christmas (or new year’s resolutions we’ll set) will aid us in those, ultimately, we don’t need one more self-help thing. We need Jesus.

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more He sanctifies me and frees me from sin. Yet, as this progression takes place, more sin is revealed, more brokenness is realized, and my need for Jesus increases.

The only One who can truly help us did not come glamorously. He came quietly…to a small town…in a manger.

He does not ask us to be better or to do more. He asks us to come to the cross and die – then and only then can He raise us to life, and then and only then will our true life be found.

His coming and invitation are very counter-intuitive to what our culture is all about. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation.” Not in striving. Not in trying to earn it. Not in trying to make yourself better.

In repentance.

In rest.

In the end, Jesus knew we couldn’t make ourselves better – that’s why He sent His son to die in our place.

Thus, Jesus, and a hungry spirit for Him to change us from the inside out, is the best gift we could ask for this Christmas.