“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Changed by God’s Word
In our part of the country the changes of season are in the air. The wind chills the cheeks of my girls as we play outside in our front yard. The leaves of our three oak trees are falling from the busy squirrel up above. The mums and pansies shine bright, but most of the other flowers are wilting away. The blooms of my crape myrtles have all blown off. Leaves in the trees surrounding us are turning golden. In a few weeks our grass will be dry and brown. Autumn has come.
While Isaiah 40:8 is about much more than the turning of season, I can’t help but be reminded of it this time of year. There is something that doesn’t pass away. The living word of God. As autumn progresses we will find ourselves in the holiday rush, a time of year that is so easy to become consumed with matters of this earth. Thoughts about our holiday outfits, our Thanksgiving table, sports, the pumpkin path, the Santa picture, lights, our decorations, our greeting cards, the parties to attend… while none of it is wrong, it can be overwhelming. So what a breath of fresh air to be reminded that the matters of this earth aren’t as important as we make them out to be. How important it is to be reminded that the word of God is eternal, that his promises are true.
I love the song,
“Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart.
Words of Life, words of Hope.
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’re we roam
Ancient words will guide us home
Ancient words ever true
changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.
Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice.”
The Power of God’s Word
Not only is God’s word eternal, but it contains the power to change us- really change us.
God’s Word Creates Action
If you’ve never watched the movie, Monumental by Kirk Cameron, I encourage you to do so! It is a wonderful documentary about the Christian roots of America. This film begins with the story of the Puritans, and goes into great detail to share the hardships they faced as they broke away from the Church of England and fled to Holland, and later the New World. These were men and woman who were deeply changed by God’s word. These were people who had grasped the concept that God’s word stands forever, and that the needs we have on this Earth are trivial compared to salvation. Oh, what sacrifices they made, many even loosing their life. God’s word mattered to them, and they wanted to preserve it for future generations. The movie is centered around the National Monument to the Forefathers in Boston, which shows how much they prioritized the word of God. The Bible was worth sacrificing everything for, and it was important to preserve it and pass it down to future generations.
Yes, these men and women had been truly changed by God’s word.
How has God’s word changed you?
Personally, one of my greatest battles is insecurity, and I have been changed by God’s word time and time again when I go to Him in my distress. At times my eyes are opened to changes I need to make, and other times I’m reminded of who I am to Him. Over and over, he blesses me through his word.
Let me honest with you though- I’m not always allowing it to work in my life. I can’t tell you how many mornings I finish my reading only to become easily angered with my family, or selfish in my time, greedy in my wants, or wallow in my insecurity. I am human, I confess. I must choose to be changed.
God’s word is powerful, and if we want to reap it’s benefit, we must be willing to accept it, to let it cut us to the heart. We must allow the comfort in his message give us grounding peace. We must act upon the the convictions these words bring. We must be willing to as James so boldly put it, do what it says! (James 1:22)
There will always be more to learn, we will never grasp it all. Yet no matter where we are on our spiritual journey, these ancient words can convict and change. No matter the trends of culture, they are relevant. His word stands forever.
This time of the year can be quite full. Let’s not forget to prioritize time in our Bible, and to truly let it convict our hearts. Let us not be afraid to be deeply changed by God’s word!
Looking to Him in Our Shame
David is known as a man after God’s own heart, but if you study his life, it won’t take you long to realize that he wasn’t without blemish. While known for his courage, he also faced moments of fear. One of these times is recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 21.
“That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish, king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ” ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?”
David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”
1 Samuel 21:10-13, emphasis mine
I’m a little taken when I read that David was afraid. Is this the same man who so confidently defeated Goliath? I can only imagine the embarrassment our strong and confident David felt after giving such a display. The Bible doesn’t really tell us that David felt shame over his actions. I have to wonder though, how would he have handled the situation if instead of fear, he’d felt as confident in the Lord as he did when the giant came down?
When the king saw his unsound state, he insisted that David leave. David fled to a cave. It is believed by scholars that at this time David wrote Psalm 34.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Their faces are never covered in shame.
I wonder if David felt shame while drooling and scratching at the door. I wonder if he was looking back at his past actions and wishing he’d looked to the Lord in his fear. Be my thoughts inline with David’s thought process or not, I find comfort and direction in his psalm.
I so often feel ashamed with myself.
Ashamed for opportunities missed.
Ashamed for comments said or judgements made.
Ashamed for my idleness.
Ashamed for my shortcomings.
The shame is heavy and holds me down. In this pit, I’m only looking inward at what I can do. In this pit, I feel inadequate for kingdom work. In this pit, I’ve forget who I am in God.
Never Covered in Shame
I believe that David forgot who he was when he was faced with this fear. He forgot that God had chosen him to be king, that the battle was the Lord’s. But as he later says, those who look to him are radiant and their faces aren’t covered in shame!
Oh how, I love David’s declaration!
In Romans 8:1-2 Paul tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
When I look inwardly it’s no wonder that I feel insecure. When I focus on God, and what He’s done for me I don’t have to feel ashamed. I can move on and be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities He gives.
We must remember to look to Him and see that we’ve been forgiven, and that our flesh might be weak, but the spirit is powerful!
David was able to move on from his lowly encounter. He gave praise to God for delivering him and continued to seek God’s will. Yes, he would stumble, but David was a man of worship. He continued to look to God and seek His will. Oh, that we might do the same!
A Prayer Over Our Hearts
We praise you for the mighty God that you are, and for delivering us from sin! In all circumstances, may we look to you. Draw us to your presence and help us to remember who we are in you. May our lives not be liven selfishly, but instead for your glory. Use us to advance your kingdom!
In the Name of Jesus,
Becoming a Parent Who Is Slow to Anger
How often do you find yourself feeling angry toward your children? This is hard question to ask myself. I make significant effort to be gentle, but truthfully, it is quite often that I notice myself raging inside as my eldest, almost 4 years old, is becoming more familiar with right and wrong.
My moment of internal strife might play out in this way:
Why won’t she just listen and obey? What if someone gets hurt? What if she behaves like this in Bible Class?
I can’t let her act like this! I have to show her who’s boss!
In my anger, I lash out. The power struggle begins.
I make irrational statements in awful tones. I give ineffective punishments.
I feel horrible. She feels horrible.
Later on I hear her talking in the same ugly tone. Hmm… where did she learn to speak in that way?
Why is it that anger is the first instinct for so many of us, especially in regards to parenting? I believe most parents have good intentions. We want our children to act respectfully and we burn inside when we can’t convince them to cooperate. We are desperate. I believe that James, the brother of Jesus, and servant of God, speaks to the heart of this issue.
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
Anger Won’t Bring about Righteousness Living
In our Bible Class we recently studied this passage, and though James doesn’t specifically mention parenting, my heart couldn’t help but hear these words from a parent’s perspective. How often am I angry with my daughter because I want her to live righteously. Yet anger won’t bring about this righteousness- in myself or in my daughter. It is my experience that hasty anger often only brings about shame.
Let’s read on to hear the solutions that James offers.
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:21-22
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27
Righteous living is something that our children will learn through a lifetime of observation and loving instruction. James makes it very clear that being religious is about guarding our hearts and humble service.
Do our children see that in us?
Do our children see that we are humble and compassionate, ready to listen, and slow to become angry?
Do we have a tight rein on our tongue when we speak to our children?
There are many different styles of parenting, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. Often parenting requires direct and assertive responses, but I believe this can be done gently and in love. It is my conviction that the instruction to be slow to anger also applies to our interactions with our children. Does this mean that we will never be angry? No, of course not!
It means that our instinct will be patience, kindness, and gentleness rather than anger.
We will have open arms and listening ears.
When it is time to be direct, we will try to stay calm. We will be our children’s “safe space.”
This type of parenting does not come naturally for me. I pray multiple times each day for the Lord to help me. I boldly pray for the fruit of the Spirit to be displayed as I interact with my daughters. This passage in James was a strong reminder that I need to make a conscious effort to tame my tongue and be slow to anger in my responses to my children. I absolutely can’t do this on my own. I need Jesus to work through me as I train up my children in the way they should go. We all need him to!
Praying Over Our Hearts
I’d like to end this thought with a prayer.
You are our Heavenly Father and we praise you and thank you for wonderfully making our children. Work through us as we train them in the way they should go. In us, express your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Help us to be slow to anger, with tongues that are tamed through faithful dependence on you. May our children see glimpses of you in our interactions with them. Forgive us for our selfish ways and for the times we respond poorly to our children. Give us strength and help when we need it. Soften our hearts and help us to find your joy every day.
In the name of Jesus, Amen
“Oh, stink!”, I grumbled to myself as I pulled my wilted produce out of the refrigerator. I needed to make a batch of baby food, but I’d put it off too long and now my green beans, cauliflower, and zucchini were looking past their prime. I’m not sure if they would have even been sold in their condition if they were sitting on the shelf at the market.
I decided to go ahead and use them though. As I was snapping, and washing, and chopping, I couldn’t help but feel like those veggies- worn out and less than. Life had felt a little overwhelming and was only starting to spin faster. I was feeling guilty about all of the ways I wasn’t measuring up to my expectations.
The vegetables turned into a delicious puree that my baby loved. She didn’t know or care that the veggies didn’t look their best when I used them. Isn’t God able to use us in the same way? Couldn’t He still use me to be a loving and caring mother? Time and time again the Bible tells us of when God used someone who was “less than” do something great.
God Can Use You!
Just this morning I was reading about when God called Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites.
“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “How can i save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all of the Midianites together.”
For God’s Glory
God’s plan for Gideon was less about Gideon, and more about showing mercy to his children. Perhaps that’s why God likes to use the ones who feel like they don’t measure up. The truth is that all of us are blemished with sins and shortcomings. Even the strongest among us still need God. The arrogant ones take the credit, the humble ones know it’s only through God they can do great things.
Gideon’s story was centered around God’s glory. God wanted to make sure Israel would see that it was He who saved them. God sent home more and more men from their army so that Gideon had only 300 men with him to attack their enemy. God gave Israel their victory through Gideon, but make no mistake, it was the work of Lord not of man.
As a wife and mother I fall short in many ways, but I don’t want my story to be about me. Like Gideon, I want my story to be a reflection of God’s glory. With his help I can do great things, but not for the purpose of fulfilling my own superficial expectations. No, with his help, even though I am selfish I can offer life to my family in the way I tend to their needs and build our home. It is for the glory of his kingdom, not mine.
Take the pressure off of yourself to perform and decide to let God work in you. Let your story be about showing God’s grace and mercy to others. Let your story be about Him. Pray continually. Read the scriptures. Listen. Obey. Let him take you from wilted veggies to a yummy puree! No matter your defects, God can use you!
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.”
An Invitation to Go Without Complaining
I invite you to take a moment to meditate on Philippians 2:14-16. Do you feel you are following this instruction in your day to day life? Would others describe you as blameless and pure? Does your life stand out in this sinful generation we find ourselves in? Are you holding firm to God’s word?
A few weeks ago we read this scripture in our bible class and I could feel my heart freeze. I immediately remembered the way I huffed out of frustration when my daughter wouldn’t leave my feet. I thought about how I often lamented over the stress of motherhood and the envy I’ve often felt in my heart toward my husband who goes off to work around other adults, and finds himself with 60 minutes of commute time each day to listen to whatever he wants.
As I thought about my tendency to grumble, my chest grew tighter as the Sprit continued to convict my heart.
I love staying home with my young children. It is my first choice, but I admit, the enemy has still found footholds through the challenges that come with my day to day life. The temptation to grumble is not reserved for stay-at-home moms. The enemy hits us all with deceptive ways, no matter our age or circumstance.
And oh, do we grumble.
Scripture gives us a different way to live.
Scripture tells us to live without grumbling. Why? So that we might shine like stars in the world for the purpose of bringing God glory.
Do you know anyone who is always able to find joy no matter the circumstance? A couple of different people come to my mind. These sweet friends of mine are the brightest lights. They radiate God’s love. I’m always so refreshed after spending time with them. It is not that their life is easy, without any strife.
To live without grumbling is more than just ignoring one’s burdens, it is living with the joy of the Lord inside their heart. Philippians 2:16 says this happens by holding firm to the word of life. We must know God’s word, believe it, and put it into action in our lives. In God’s word, we will find two beautiful characteristics to lace our hearts with.
A Heart of Service
Matthew 20:28 says “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Grumbles often stem from entitlement. Christ, on the other hand, displayed a very sacrificial way of living. We must reflect on our life circumstances and look for the opportunities to serve and bring God glory.
A Heart of Gratitude
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Embracing a heart of gratitude and continually looking for the blessings in life will not only help us to live more joyfully, but will also align our lives to God’s will.
As I’ve reflected on my tendencies to grumble these last couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded to embrace the season I find myself in, and to serve my family patiently and joyfully. I know that I will continue to grumble from time to time, but I pray that God often leads me to this passage in Philippians. In a world that feasts on entitlement and selfishness we will surly shine like stars from the joy of the Lord, if we serve and love those around us without grumbling.
So go ahead, jot down Philippians 2:14-1. Put it in a place where you will see it often and be reminded of a better way to go through your days!