I’m partial to chocolate. Not fancy stuff. Just the good ol’ grocery store variety. But I want to love God’s Word more than chocolate, to “eat” it more often than anything else.
Here’s how I want to feel about God’s Word.
- “I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 AMP).
- “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 AMP).
Why is it so hard to make God’s Word a priority in our daily lives?
- We decide, “Yes, I’m going to read the Bible. I’m setting aside a special time for study.” The time comes, and we’re ready. Then the phone rings, a neighbor drops in, maybe the toilet overflows… I think that’s the Devil, the one C.S. Lewis called ‘ol Slewfoot.
- We read the Word, and we remember what we read. Then a problem comes up, or we argue with our spouse. Whatever we read that very morning flies out of our minds, anger or worry taking its place. That’s our sinful self getting in the way, or maybe ‘ol Slewfoot again.
We could all come up with plenty of examples, times when “eating the Word” can be a struggle. Being a Christian isn’t for sissies! It’s a battle. It’s a good fight of faith. We need to recognize the tricks of the Devil, to know our own weaknesses, and to be prepared to defeat them. We can triumph over them, because God is always faithful to make a way for us. And why should we bother?
- “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4).
- “If you live in me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will and it will be done for you” (John 15:7 AMP).
- “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
- “The word of God is alive and powerful.” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).
What we eat physically matters, but eating God’s Word matters so much more. The Word is God’s power for us. We can’t treat the Bible like snack food—a quick bite here, a quick bite there. Reading the Bible without meditating on what we’ve read is like eating without chewing.
Some people say you are what you eat. That’s good news if we’re on a steady diet of the Word of God. Look back at the verses I’ve just listed. Think on them. Meditate. Let’s let the Holy Spirit use them in our lives.
My pastor has been challenging us to rethink the way we use our cell phones (and tablets, and televisions and…) I’ve been an avid member of the “watch what you watch” club for years, but his thoughts have made me go even deeper into my evaluation of screenage. The questions I’m about to ask you are the same questions I’m asking myself. I need to make some changes, not all of which will be particularly easy, but I think the payoff will be worth it.
How much have we given up eye-to-eye, or even voice-to voice relationships to our detriment?
- Texts and emails may be efficient—or not. Too often, I’ve texted back and forth with a friend or colleague only to determine that, by the time I’ve typed and read a dozen missives, a phone call would have been faster and maybe even more effective.
- Sometimes I stop what I’m doing to answer a text, but then decide to “take a minute” to check Facebook, confirm the weather forecast, look at a few favorite photos…I don’t ever finish everything I’d like to get done in a day! So, it’s time for me to be more careful about how I spend my minutes.
- When I actually hear someone’s voice, let alone meet them in person, I reconnect on a much higher level than most tech can provide.
So, this week I’m beginning a new habit. Whenever possible, I’m stepping away from my desk to stretch my eyes and make a call instead of typing out a text or email.
Raise your hand if you’ve:
- Already read the book of Colossians several times.
- ‘Done a Bible study on it?
- Heard countless sermons where the text is taken from that popular letter of Paul’s?
Then join me in being somewhat astonished that there’s always something new to learn there. Here’s what I read today:
“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’” (Colossians 4:7).
Now, I’m just guessing here, but since Paul saw fit to include that line in his letter, maybe Archippus was tempted to quit. Quit what? Who knows? But whatever it was, it was a task the Lord had given him, and one he was meant to complete. And, evidently, he needed a bit of solid encouragement and direction to do just that.
The work you have received from the Lord. What work have you received from the Lord? Ah, yes, we all take on tasks we shouldn’t, maybe out of pride or greed or simple American ambition-on-steroids. That’s a lesson for another day. I’m talking about work you know in your heart the Lord wants you to do. It might be a life’s work. It might be an afternoon’s calling. Some versions of Colossians 4:17 use the word “ministry” instead of “work” to describe what Archippus needs to keep doing. I believe all work the Lord calls us to do, whether lofty or lowly, is really our ministry. So, no matter what the task might be, don’t quit!
Last February, a local MOPS group asked me to talk about the house rules Steve put into place when our children were small. I’ve written about those rules in previous blogs, but thought this might be a good time for a review. Before you take a look, and hopefully click on a few of the links to past blogs, let me reiterate the most important part of what I told those young moms:
These rules, sometimes with a tiny bit of tweaking, apply to us as adults every bit as much as they apply to the children in our lives. So, if you have no kids, have no fear, this blog is still for you! And as we all spend more time at home with our families, perhaps this will serve as a helpful review.
Don’t argue when it doesn’t matter: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/400/
Be happy for what you have, and if you fuss, you lose: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/bhfwyh/
Obey the first time, and be kind: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/halfway-there/
Pray for someone every day: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/pray-for-someone-every-day/
Don’t hit, and be respectful (of others, of our Lord, and of your own body.) https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/the-final-three/
Got a favorite? A rule you’d like to add? Please take the time to comment.
They say it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. But have you ever actually tried to change your mind—in a deeper sense, as in trying to change how your mind works, what your default settings are, and how your thoughts affect your actions?
Our church has been covering the spiritual aspects of that question lately, and here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
What you feed your mind will lead your mind.
Catchy? Sure, but also a good warning to watch our input, to make sure the sources feeding our minds are controlled and the input we choose matches the output we want. We can begin to meet that challenge by:
- identifying toxic thoughts, whether they come from within us or are pumped into us from without.
- identifying the truths that fly in the face of those toxic lies.
- identifying the sources of our thoughts, whether true, toxic, or simply distracting.
If this already feels impossible to you, remember, the Bible says that we are to:
- take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ
- be transformed by the renewing of our minds
- think on what is right and true and lovely.
God doesn’t ask us to do anything he isn’t ready to empower us to do.
There’s an old and powerful book called The Practice of the Presence of God. The title itself is lesson enough today. We have to practice keeping our minds on Christ, staying aware of his presence. So much of our thought life is based on habits we’ve built—or practiced—over time. So what, exactly are we practicing? Here are a few clear directions. I challenge you to memorize one of these verses this week. ‘Hope you’ll let me know which one you choose.
- “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”(Philippians 4:6).
- “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
*photo by johnhain via pixabay.com
The Prickly Problems of James Chapter 4
Here’s a challenge (based on a recent sermon by Ky Faciane).
Read these verses from the fourth chapter of James.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?…You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God…Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you…Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another…Who are you to judge your neighbor?…What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes…As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”
It might be easy to read those verses and think, “Well, that’s not talking about me!” Take a second look, though. See if you’ve ever found yourself doing any of these things:
- Saying (only to yourself, of course) “I have to make my name well-known.”
- Criticizing a Christian church you’ve never even attended.
- Hoping people will find out it was you that accomplished some uncredited task.
- Praying for the very things that you’re inclined to turn into idols.
- Claiming deep devotion to God while courting popularity or influence (or pleasure, or ease or…)
Now, having looked into a different sort of mirror, are there changes you might make? Yes, me too. And that’s enough for this week!
*Photo by Alex Furgiuele @furgi via Unsplash.com,