THE WORD WORKS

A simple “I love you” can take root in a person’s heart and change them. Hearing “I believe in you” or “you’re special” makes all the difference to children- and confident adults. Likewise, disparaging words can wreak havoc on anyone’s life.

Our words are powerful. How much more are His?

Over the centuries, people have used God’s Word for many powerful purposes. Some have seen it as a rule book. There are people who find it so unlike any other book that they won’t approach it without an intercessor. People have used it to punish, dehumanize, build up, excuse, justify, and permit any number of wrongs.

On the other hand, many have found God’s Word to be a valuable self-help book. It has been used in diverse and plentiful ways to teach morality. The Bible has informed cultures and governments. On a more personal level, it has been used to encourage and to build up.

But Scripture isn’t a tool for us to use and mold as we find convenient.

God’s Word- breathed by Him upon us- is alive and active.

His Word is at Work.

A weapon we wield, a light for our path, a refuge we run to, Scripture does more than work for us. God’s Word works in us. <<click to tweet>>

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul thanks God:

“because, when you received the word of God…you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

As Christians, the Holy Spirit uses the God-breathed Word to breathe new life into believers. His Word works in us to:

Equip us. Correct us. Teach us. Train us.

Guide us. Bless us. Grow us.

Free us. Transform us. Exhort us. Sustain us.

Flow through us.

(all those links are to Scripture- breathe it in!!)

We don’t always feel like God’s Word really works in our culture, our circumstances, or our lives. But He does- and it does.

I’ve experienced this in my own life and study of Scripture. I know many others have too.

For several upcoming Mondays, some wonderful bloggers will be sharing posts in this series reflecting on how God’s Word Works in their lives. Each Wednesday, I’ll reflect on a particular Word from His Word related to each blogger’s post.

We would love for you to join us as we praise the Lord and rejoice in His Work in our lives through the Word! 

Join in this multi-week series of bloggers sharing how God’s Word has worked in their lives! <<Click to Tweet>>

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

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What If My Best…

What if my best is simple?

More than a writer, I’m a thinker. My brain is constantly active- digging, absorbing, sorting, putting together, observing, etc. Etc.

As a thinker, I like details. I like to organize them all and fit them together to create a big picture. I love making points that lead up to a concept that sticks. And I suppose, as a writer, that’s a good thing.

But sometimes, my best writing is my simplest.

Sometimes, my best…anything…is simple.

My best worship is often a single lyric stuck on my lips, stuck on repeat. My best witness is often a sincere sentence spoken in regular conversation about ordinary things. My best praise is often a simple “thank you” thought-prayed to the Lord who knows what I’m referring too.

Though there is certainly a place for going in-depth, I think simple really is more powerful than we often realize. 

Some of the most powerful words in Scripture are the simplest- so simple a child could understand them.

“God has given 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.

1 John 5:11-12

In fact the Gospel, the good news that leads to salvation through Christ, is simple enough to be shared around the world, in a few sentences, in every language, and in any circumstance.

When we read His Word for a few moments, we can take in just a simple line and be grown by it. A simple prayer can change our perspective. Simple blessings can boost our faith.

Following His example, I’m believing that when my best is really simple, God makes it more than enough. 

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

Giving Our Best

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”

Colossians 3:23

“He’s got a piece of my heart,” we say. “Do you want a piece of me?” we ask the confronter. Throughout the day, our schedules are divided into pieces: a half an hour block here, fifteen minutes there. For many of us, it sometimes feels like life is in pieces.

As John Stonestreet once said: “we do not have lives, but life.” One life. One heart, one mouth, one schedule that we can live out at once.

How, when we divide our lives into pieces in our minds and hearts, can we at the same time work with all our hearts for God? Or love Him with our whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul? We don’t often seem to recognize the whole of any of these.

Without that recognition, how can we give God our best? How do we even know what our best is?

All of the Scriptural statements about giving the best, flawless lambs (and other awe-worthy sacrifices) always frustrate me. I’ve never seen a flawless thing in my life. But my eyes are corrupt. My understanding is, too. Surely there was some standard in those Old Testament days. And there is now. Under the law of freedom in Christ as redeemed, adopted people…

The best we have to give is that which God has given us.

He has called His gifts to us good and He is the standard of good! What better to give Him than what He has declared good?

That sounds a little more feasible, doesn’t it? He never asks the impossible of us. The charge to do all to the glory of God is not there to show us how we fail, but how He succeeds in working with us, on us, and through us.

Invite God into every part and piece of your heart and your day. Ask Him into the moments you struggle and the moments of joy and praise. Offer Him the work before you so that it can be His- it will be better than what you could do on your own.

Share with Him all those pieces that He says will be made whole, and they can be wholly His and for His glory.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

 

The Kindness Kind of Fruit

Among the many fruits listed in Galatian 5:22, kindness is one that often seems to be overlooked. Patience? We’re glad to pray for more of that. Love, joy, faithfulness? Who doesn’t need more of those in their life? But kindness…kind of seems to encompass all these.

How would you explain being kind to someone? Being nice by being patient or giving? To tell someone what kindness looks like kind of means describing all of those other fruits again.

But kindness is distinct, as each of the fruits of the Spirit are. Kindness has a quality of its own that sets it apart as a fruit with its own taste and purpose.

Not just being patient, but cheerfully so.

Not just loving, but warmly caring.

Not just joyous, but delighting beyond oneself.

Not just faithful, but concerned with others’ qualities, needs, and desires.

Scripture’s word for kindness, “chréstotés,” is understood as Spirit-produced goodness. It is not tainted by self-gain or the cruelty of sinful nature. Rather, kindness in its true form is something purely given by God according to His will and character. The definition of being kind as a fruit of the Spirit includes meeting “real needs, in God’s way, in God’s timing.

Little is sweeter than that. The right word at the right moment. The cheerful, caring gift that furthers the work of the Lord in someone’s heart. That’s kindness.

And its fruit we ought to ask the Lord to produce in us. More than our niceness or our own sin-hybrid versions of fruit, Sprit-produced kindness tastes sweet. Its nourishment provides energy and hydrates our thirsting souls.

Ask the Lord, as He shows you His kindness, to tend to your heart that you kindness might be something you can pass on as well.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

The Kindness of the Lord

When we say that God is the standard by which we know and measure goodness and righteousness, we admit that there is no definition completely suitable of these things. There is no set of words in any human language that can fully encompass the wholeness of a standard. We have nothing to correctly compare it to.

As a friend recently pointed out, “a cauliflower’s taste can’t be described in comparison to anything. It certainly doesn’t taste like chicken. It just tastes like cauliflower.”

That’s what those things which God is the standard of are like. His kindness is kindness in its purest, most whole form.

The word for the kindness of God in Scripture, transliterated “chréstotés” says as much in its definition. According to Biblos, “We have no term that quite carries this notion of kind and good.”

Ephesians 2:6-7 emphasizes:

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

We the kindness of the Lord in His sending Christ to die for us and raising Him up again. His kindness is evident in redeeming us, raising up to be with Christ. As we know, grace is giving us what we don’t deserve.

Kindness is giving us what we don’t deserve richly and abundantly.

We aren’t just children He cares for. We are children He cares about. More than just redeemed, we are filled with His Spirit. The barrier isn’t just destroyed by Christ so that we have access if we need it. Instead, we are brought near. Drawn near.

God likes to have us near. He delights in blessing us. His kindness is not goodness out of obligation or goodness because more good is needed. His goodness is simply goodness.

In our corrupted nature, we cannot fathom this. Our closest comparisons fall short. The best we understanding we have is described in Matthew 7:11:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

The kindest we can be does not compare to the kindness of Christ.

We often look at others and wish to give certain types of kindness. Closeness, not feeling alone, hope for the future, comfort. The Lord enables us to give these in a way, but not as thoroughly or intimately as He can. Time, emotions, circumstances, and thoughts do not shift at our Word as they do His. Thank the Lord that He is so kind in expressing His love for us in kindnesses like these.

And we see this in our lives, don’t we? When we ask Him and He gives so personally, so clearly. His good gifts are more than we could ever imagine: families, friends, relationships, scenery, moments, laughs….those things that help us to understand awe, wonder, and fulfilling intimacy. That wave of peace that has no explanation. The small mistake that upsets our day for the better.

Praising the Lord today for His kindness in all the good gifts- big and small that He gives. Thanking Him most for His kindness in delighting to have us near to Him.

How are you reveling in His kindness?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

Valentine’s and Trash?

On our first Valentine’s Day together, my now-husband gave me a box of trash. I’m not kidding. He walked around our college campus and picked up recycled items, newspaper clippings, old discarded pen caps, those cardboard slips you put around coffee cups, etc. He crammed it all in a box he found by a trash can.

Romantic, right?

He wasn’t commenting on what he thought of me, but on what I thought of Valentine’s Day. I thought the holiday was rubbish. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day was just an excuse for people to spend money and manufacture sentimental feelings or moments.

The box of trash proved me wrong. (Or was it the guy I later married?)

When I opened that box there was no ounce of manufactured anything in my laughter or the fun we had rummaging through it and making jokes. I didn’t have to worry about him spending a dime on me since money was tight.

All that silly box cost him was effort.

Inside, he had also tucked a note. Or rather, a digital treasure hunt guide. It went something like “Google such and such. Write down the third word in the fourth result that pops up.” The words spelled out the sweet and simple message. “I love you- in HIM.”

The other message that stuck?

He knows my worth in Christ, and that makes me worth so much to Him. In spite of all the muck and yuck of sin and love and challenges and money and holidays and expectations, he thinks I’m worth the effort. Even when I don’t want to be.

Let me tell you, that’s a gift that we’re not all so willing to give.

“Dear friends, let us love one another,

for love comes from God.”

1 John 4:7

What love comes from God? A love that says “you’re worth the effort” in the big and the small. In the cross and the sitting down to explain –again- that parable, because they weren’t really listening.

I’m not saying that’s all that love is, but effort proves value. And I’d like to encourage you today to make the effort to love others, even if all you have to give seems like garbage.

Give the time, give the laugh, and give the message clearly: you’re worthwhile to Christ, so you’re worthwhile to me.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Love With All Your…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

–Luke 10:27

Really, Lord? Because we know our hearts, and they are deceitful above all things. Our souls are constantly warring with the flesh. Strength, to us, is less preferable than weakness in you. And our minds? Our minds are so easily led astray.

It seems like our ability to love God is measly and miserable. To do so with our whole person seems to add up to very little.

Praise the Lord that He is glorified by and delights in our love- even if our love is far from perfect!

So loving is He that:

  1. He Guards the HEART We Are to Love Him With

Though our hearts are wild and rebellious, the Lord guards them. He works to protect our hearts from further corruption. He is intent on giving us pure hearts, washing them clean through Christ. Scripture also says He replaces our hearts of stone with hearts with hearts of flesh.

  1. He Redeems the SOUL So That We Can Love Him Personally

Apart from Christ, we would have no way to love God in a personal relationship. But He, in loving us, sent His son to die for us. He made a way for our souls to be reconciled to Him eternally. Because of that, our wretched souls are counted free. We are called His friends and His children –and forgiven.

  1. He Gives us the STRENGTH to Love Him Always

Does it take strength to love God? Ask anyone who’s betrayed Him or sinned against Him. So, ask anyone. There is nothing in us courageous enough to perfectly stand up against the world and all of sin and say “I love God more.” But He, He can makes us able. He makes a way out of temptation. He gives us endurance and His Spirit to keep us from sin and help us to lovingly glorify Him even when we are weak.

  1. He Renews Our MIND to Love Him More Fully

Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are to live according to His Will, and even to know His Will, we are to have our minds renewed. We are to see everything in light of Him and understand ourselves, our lives, our decisions, etc., according to our newness in Christ. This complete changing of the mind to fit with His enables to love Him because it enables us to know Him.

What love is this, friends!? Our Lord loves us enough to make a way for us to love Him despite our corrupt version of love. A precious gift.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

Listening In Clarity

Sometimes I think we’re more accustomed to noise than we are to quiet. The loud must be important. We think that if it is said often enough, it must be valid. In fact, our culture is so tuned into hearing everyone’s opinions that even competing views are now considered relative truths.

Although we might often listen through the noise and the static in our lives- I still wonder how much of the quiet truth we actually absorb. Sure, we might hear it, but…

Listening to a still, small voice doesn’t always feel powerful.

Clear, simple answers don’t always feel sufficient.

The more straightforward a word, the harder it is for us to find it relevant. We tend to overcomplicate things, including the Word of God and the truth.

Before the better-known verse in Romans 1 about our being without excuse, we find this truth:

what can be known about God is plain to them,

because God has shown it to them.”

Romans 1:19

We’re included in that “them” as those who have been wicked and ungodly. Even as those who are saved and redeemed, we know that:

“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”

-1 Corinthians 14:33

There’s a reason that even children can understand the Word of God, listen, and obey. A part of childlike faith is listening in that way –without confusion or complication. We are to take Him at His Word: simply and clearly.

Grandiose speeches and lengthy explanations are not methods God uses. The Lord does not need to compensate with volume or bombardment to make His Word more relevant or true for us. His Word, like Himself, is sufficient, all-powerful, and here with us for our good. Believe it.

My prayer and challenge lately is that when we hear that still, small voice, we’ll listen and obey with as much clarity and simplicity as the Word He has given us.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.