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Incomprehensible: Day 2

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Deut. 33:27


It is helpful to keep in mind that the formal meaning of comprehend is “get the meaning of something; include as part of something broader; have as one’s sphere or territory.”

An informal meaning might be “wrap your head around it.”

God has given us His Son, His Spirit and His Word. Scripture promises that “His power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His grace and glory…”. Did you notice that God has done it all? His power, His calling, His fulfilling of our needs. And aren’t we glad of that?

However, for us who are living in these me-centered, comfort-driven, pop-psychology times, a subtle problem can result: We too easily see everything in terms of me and now. Our spiritual life starts to center around what God is doing for us, even what God is doing in us. When our faith walk and our godward thoughts are limited like this, our spiritual lens shrinks and shrinks until our relationship with the Lord of the universe begins to look very much like a two-person selfie.

If/when something comes along that is outside the boundaries of either our expectations or our resources, we look suspiciously at the God-- who would let this happen--and conclude that He is either capriciously cruel or woefully inadequate for our situation.

But it is in love that God has to let us experience the end of our resources so that we may gain a bigger and better understanding of Him. The truth is this: when all the verses have been read and the prayers have been said, we must let go and trust the everlasting arms. For many it will be the trust fall of their lives and their final landing place may not be experienced this side of eternity.

But that is what heaven is for…

Nancy Shirah

Incomprehensible: Day 1

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever…
Deuteronomy 29:29


I am a quote collector. While hardly in the same league as the professional speakers and writers with their carefully indexed file cabinets containing insightful phrases on every possible topic, I have my system.

For one thing, when I read a book, I underline the passages that speak to me and note the page number in the front of the book, along with a few words to help me identify it for future reference. I also have a small spiral-bound book where I write quotes I run across. (One of my favorite quotes on hospitality came from an interview with a young actor I had never heard of in a People magazine at the doctor’s office.) Finally, there is the blackboard in my kitchen where I write my grocery list and share favorite words of wisdom.

And you thought English majors didn’t know how to have fun.

I say all this because this week’s writing is inspired by probably the best quote I have heard lately. The author is St. Augustine the brilliant theologian whose writings have influenced the church since the 4th century

“If you can comprehend it, it is not God.”

These words are not only the thoughts of an exceptional mind; they are rock-solid Scriptural truth. Truth, however, that can be either uncomfortable or mind-expanding and perspective-changing. As the writer of Hebrews said:

“In fact though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truth of God’s word all over again [and again?]. You need milk, not solid food…solid food is for the mature.

With that in mind, let’s grab our knife and fork and get started.

Nancy Shirah

Fanatics

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5


Certain sports and teams are known for their fans. Have you ever seen a Green Bay fan wear a cheese head? That’s a loyal fan. You’ve seen the shirtless guys wearing body paint rooting on their team in freezing weather. Yep, that’s extreme. The word, fan, is short for fanatic, which the dictionary describes as someone with extreme enthusiasm or zeal. From accessories to body paint, these fans support their team with enthusiasm. Their loyalty exceeds circumstances, and their love is unconditional.

We can learn a lot from the loyal, unconditional fan. There are times we could be more zealous for our Lord.

Most humans seem to be somewhat fickle. Remember the Israelites of the Bible? After God did miraculous things, such as free them from Egyptian slavery, they forgot and began looking away from Him. They worshipped idols and did not trust the Lord. But God’s love never changed, and when they repented and turned back to Him, he welcomed them.

I know there are times when I look other directions for guidance rather than seeking God. When I see God move in my life, I recognize His sovereignty and faithfulness. But I am easily distracted. I tend to forget the mighty things He has done. But my God is always there for me, and His love never changes.

God is faithful.

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

God is never-changing.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

I want to be a devoted and enthusiastic follower of Jesus Christ. There is nothing that has been done or could ever be done for me that could surpass His great love.

Jesus, help me to be a fanatic for You. Remind me daily of Your faithfulness and steadfastness. I want to be loyal and zealous for You and You alone.

Julie

The Underdog

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10


Why is it that we often root for the underdog? We love to see the little guy in the football game make the big plays. We enjoy watching the short basketball player fly through the air to dunk. What about teams like the Bad News Bears? They were the definition of a team of misfits who pull together to win. We enjoy rooting for the unlikely hero.

Those who are not expected to win in some ways don’t have as much to lose, so they play with all heart. They give it everything they’ve got, and the celebration that ensues when the underdog wins is like no other. 

The Bible is full of unlikely heroes. God uses those we wouldn't expect to make some big plays. We immediately think of David and Goliath. But there are so many more! God used a prostitute to help the Israelites move toward the Promised Land. God turned a persecutor of Christians into a faithful preacher and teacher of His people. Similar stories are told throughout the Bible.

Do you consider yourself a hero? I'm guessing that you don't. We are more likely to identify with underdog because we do not consider ourselves important enough or good enough to be used by God. But isn’t that how God’s economy works? He uses us despite our weaknesses. When we think it’s impossible is when God shows up to pull out that win. And the glory belongs to Him alone.


God, thank You for using us and allowing us to be used by You. We know that anything great that we do is only because You make it happen. Thank you for our weaknesses because in these weaknesses, You are strong.

Julie

It's Personal

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 
Ephesians 1:17


So you’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t take it personally,” right? Well, let’s consider the opposite. I recently read an article about the increase in the numbers of sports fans who are women. It’s not an accident, either. The sports industry has made an effort to include our demographic.

Do you know how they have marketed sports to women? They run articles and television programs about the personal lives of athletes to perk our interest. From stories of tragedy to triumph to stories of family and friends, these tactics work!

Did you know that Peyton Manning, former Denver Broncos quarterback, has consistently written encouraging letters to members of the organizations he has played for? We’re talking facilities workers and office staff, not just his teammates and coaches. And he is a follower of Jesus.

By knowing something personal about this quarterback, do you like him more? I do. We appreciate the person he is, and we are now more inclined to care about what he does on the football field. Because we got a little more personal.   

We are also more inclined to care about others when we know them better. I encourage you to invest in the lives of those around you. Get to know your neighbors. Ask that acquaintance to lunch. When we really connect with those around us, we are affected by what affects them. We become more sympathetic. We care about their lives.

We also know that the more personal our relationship with Jesus becomes, the more He affects our lives. The closer we get to Jesus, the more His Word and His Love infiltrates our hearts and changes us. Let’s take it personally.

Lord, thank You that we can know You personally. Deepen and grow our relationships with You, which in turn change us to be more like You. Help us to get to know those around us so that we can love them as You do.




Julie