A seed has an innate command to grow and, all things being equal, when it is planted it will obey that command. I’ve been thanking God for that fact this morning.
I’ve always thought I was raised serving God, but in reality I wasn’t, or not like one might think. When I was very young, we were in church, and seeds were planted. Then, for maybe a year or so while I was in junior high, we were in church again and more seeds were planted. And where regular church attendance is concerned that was it.
But seeds were still being planted. They may have been few, during conversations with my parents and grandparents, during that one week spent in Vacation Bible School, during Sunday morning Christian cartoons…. But they were being planted, and they grew, and they bore fruit, and I am where I am today.
So today I’ve been thanking God for each and every one of those seeds that were planted in my life. I’ve also been thanking Him for those seeds I’ve had the honor of planting in others’ lives.
Maybe I only managed to get one seed in the ground, one word about the love of God settled into someone’s heart during a brief conversation. I’ve been reminded today that even that one word can be enough.
Never discount the power of the words you get to plant as you speak into others’ lives, the power of your actions as you show God’s love. Even one seed can produce much fruit.
When I first started actively serving God, I thought I was doing great just to read a few verses every once in a while. I loved it when what I was reading fell in line with things I was experiencing or what ministers were teaching me. Even so, all too often it was ONLY reading.
By that, I mean that… It’s hard to know how to express it. I had trouble making connections, probably because I didn’t have much of a scriptural foundation. I also found myself reading, and then forgetting what I’d read. It was frustrating.
Things changed when I started using tools. Bible studies helped me make connections, and those connections helped me remember. Learning that it was ok to write in my Bible also made a huge difference because those notes reminded me of things I’d already learned. I considered dipping my toes into tried-and-true Bible commentaries because I knew that’s what a lot of wise people did, but the very thought intimidated me for some reason.
Now, with smart phones, things have changed. We have even more access to tools, and my current favorite, the Through the Word Bible app, has revolutionized my Bible experience. You can simply listen to the app, which is how I started, and it’s great. For months, it was my go-to for my drive to work.
I then moved on to first reading and making my own notes and highlights, then listening to the commentaries and making more notes. I’ve read these verses who knows how many times, but I’m getting more out of my reading today than I ever have before.
Yeah, I don’t just read anymore. I’ve changed the way I experience the Bible, and the Bible is changing me in increasingly greater ways.
We will live by the Word forever – starting right now. Don’t just read it; make it yours so that it can change you into who God wants you to be.
How many adults, with twenty twenty hindsight, wish they had given more while in high school…or in college..had put more effort into preparing themselves for their unknown future? Hindsight serves one important purpose; it helps us learn which mistakes to not make next time.
And there is a next time. We were put on this earth just as we were put in school – to prepare ourselves so that we will be ready to live the future that waits for us in Eternity. It is our responsibility, while we are here, to develop the closest possible relationship with God and to learn His Word, which we will live by forever.
My memories of school, and all the things the adult me would have done differently, help keep me aware of this truth. While I do forget and deviate from my preferred path on occasion, I try to continually be growing in the things of God, learning all I can about His Word and His will for my life, and getting just as close to Him as I can. I don’t want to just make it through the ultimate graduation; I want to excel now so that God can use me exactly the way He wants to in the next phase of my life.
Our FATHER! Not some uninterested god who created the planet and then walked away, not an angry God who has to be appeased. No. He is MY FATHER who loves me and will love me forever, who wants the best for me, who has good plans for me.
who art in Heaven
He’s not bound by Earth. He has a higher perspective. Where I can only see what’s around me, He can see everything. Where I have access only to the resources at reach, He has it all.
Hallowed be thy name
My father is holy. His very name is holy, and I commit myself to living a life that reflects His holiness, to strive to have a reputation that reflects well on my Father. Yes, living in this world can make that a challenge, so I ask, “God, help me.”
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven
Yes! It’s GOD’S KINGDOM that I want to see here on Earth, where HE rules, where HIS will and ONLY His will is done just as surely as it is in Heaven. I know it will happen ultimately, and pray it is soon. I also pray that it be in ME today. Let God’s kingdom come in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell. Let God’s will be done in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell.
Give us this day our daily bread
Yes, please provide our physical needs for the day. Even more, let me feed on God’s Word. Let me chew on it and find in it the spiritual nourishment I need for the day. Let it strengthen me and help me grow.
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors
Ah, Lord God, give me the ability to always walk in forgiveness. I refuse to let unforgiveness poison my soul, and want to always forgive, whether or not the other person ever deserves it or asks… or even admits they were wrong. And Lord, forgive me for my sins as I forgive them.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Yes, oh yes. Lead me in every step I take, Father, so that I can stay far away from temptation and the evil that comes with it.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever
And that is the bottom line. It’s ALL about God. No one ranks higher. No one has His authority or power. He was in the beginning and will be throughout eternity.
Months ago, I shared that my word for the year is consistency. I also reviewed some things that were helping me stay consistent in my walk with God. One of those tools is the Through The Word Bible app.
It seemed right to return today and share that yes, I have been consistent. It’s taken self-discipline, sometimes in the form of a swift kick to my own backside, but I am working my way through the Bible in an eye-opening, methodical way that I’m loving. Best of all? It’s simple, requiring nothing but my Bible, pens, and one app.
I start my study by reading a chapter in the Bible – just one. I don’t ONLY read it, however. I ask the Holy Spirit to talk to me, teach me, open my eyes. As I read, I’m underlining and making notes (journaling Bibles help with that!).
Then I hit play on my Through the Word app and listen to what Chris Langham or one of his associates has to say about the chapter. While I listen, I’m making more notes as things become clear or I make connections I’ve never made before. I’ll sometimes go back again, afterwards, to make even more notes. It seems the more connections you make the more you see new connections.
It’s such an easy way to gain a greater relationship with The Word, which is necessary if we want a greater relationship with God, and a close relationship with God is an absolute necessity.
Time is short, my friends. If we’re putting off this vital aspect of our walk with God we are making a grave mistake. The day will come, soon, when there will be no tomorrow. I mean that literally. If you’ve studied the end times at all, you know what I mean.
You know the expression, right? “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
Being a word nerd, certain things have tended to bug me, like the restaurant that was named Happy Landing’s. I wanted SO very much to go inside and ask for the owner, who was obviously named Happy Landing. I mean, seriously, when you pay good money for a sign or company name…
And then there are the memes and things that float around Facebook. I’d get soooooo frustrated when I’d find a really cool one only to discover that it contained a glaring error. I’d want to share these things, because they were really good, but they were ruined.
And then I stumbled across the delightful Instagram account @pleasehatethesethings. After an insane amount of time spent chortling with outraged glee over their offerings, I realized that I could do something to turn my frustrations around.
Instantly, @ruinedagoodone was born, and just today I realized what it has done. This account that is specifically set aside for the many word failures that fill this world has made me able to… Well, I still cringe when I see such things, but then I start laughing instead of being outraged, and I either snap a picture or hit “save image” before heading to my Instagram account at the earliest opportunity.
And, as they say, I said all that to say this. Our pet peeves, the things that really irk us? I’ve discovered that, in some cases at least, it really is possible to turn them around – to make lemonade out of those lemons. Since I love lemonade, this is a double win for me.
Every December, I assess the year I’ve just lived – not what’s happened to me, but how I’ve lived it. This year was a mixed bag. In some areas I’ve grown, thank God. In others, not so much.
So now I look to 2020, and what needs to change. The big word is consistency. I need to be more consistent in so many areas of my life that it’s daunting, but as I recently learned from a YouTuber I watch, “Consistency is what stands between you and success.”
So here goes. I’m stepping out into consistency with determination and hope. 2020, let’s do this.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly,
comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
Here’s an odd verse to find seeking its home in this book. Yet it did not only seek this place; it demanded it. Paul has just exhorted the church at Thessalonica to “Be at peace among yourselves,” and the very next thing he says is, “…warn those who are unruly.” He is actively working to help the Thessalonian church become as strong as it can be and the four things he speaks of here are vitally important to such strength.
…warn those who are unruly
Interesting. He doesn’t say, “mutter and complain behind their backs.” Rather, he says, “warn those…” The warning is to be given in love, of course—that should be understood where Christians are concerned—yet it is to be given, and given directly to the person. If we would all do this one thing, and shut down the behind-the-back griping, what a difference there would be in the church.
Now, I am well aware that not everyone can warn everyone else. It may be that my flesh is too irritated and I know I could not approach a particular person in love, or perhaps the unruly person is one who, for whatever reason, specifically will not receive from me. There must be someone they will receive from, however, someone they will listen to, someone who can give the warning in love and it be received in the same way.
…comfort the fainthearted…
We’ve all had our times of faintheartedness and thank God for those who brought comfort in those times. I do not refer simply to the shoulder given to cry on, but also the voice that shares the comfort of God’s Word. For years, I was a member of multiple email loops and, in one particular loop, I had a friend who, whenever anyone in our group faced trials, would respond briefly and remind us to read her signature and remember God’s promise. Her signature contained the text of Jeremiah 29:11 and her gentle reminders were often that one thing needed to bring comfort and peace.
…uphold the weak, be patient with all.
I’ve included these two phrases together because this is the way they presented themselves to me…to my dismay.
Most of us have things that really irk us, things people do or characteristics they exhibit that really get under our skin. In my case one of those truly irksome things is perpetually baby Christians. I get horribly tired of seeing someone who ought to be mature in the Lord still fighting baby battles – deciding not to go to church this evening because they have a headache, moving from one church to the next in search of that elusive “perfect church,” continually needing reassurance on the same foundational principal… or, different angle, but still babyish behavior… never bothering to be on time, continually arguing over or ignoring basic church or ministry rules, whining, gossiping, backbiting… babies!
I suppose it was really no surprise when, after one grouch session with God (“God, why are so many Christians still babies? Will they ever get their acts together and grow up?”), a minister read this verse and I heard God answer, “Tammy, they are weak; uphold them. Be patient with them in all things.”
And there it is. I don’t have to like dealing with baby Christians any more than I have to like changing dirty diapers, but God has commanded me to uphold the weak, to be patient with them, and baby Christians (even perpetually baby Christians) fall into this category.
Others fall into this category too, of course. Many, like the elderly and physically infirm, I do not mind upholding, being patient with; it is those who create the weaknesses within their own selves that drive me nuts. What God has reminded me is that He sees all types of weaknesses the same in this case—as weaknesses in those He calls us to uphold, to be patient with.