Thessalonians

Week 7: Friday Five (2 Thess. 1)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths on 2 Thessalonians 1

(1) As we continue to follow Jesus Christ, we are kept safe (1:1). This is perhaps one of the greatest treasures I have found. As a woman, I crave protection. So to know that my Jesus, my King, is protecting me and keeping me safe – is comforting beyond words! It makes me okay with the difficult days, when I stop long enough to realize I am being protected and kept safe by the King of Kings!

. . . To: The church of Thessalonica—kept safe in God our Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1, TLB).

(2) We are given rich blessings, which are found through our relationship with Jesus (1:2). In my digital Bible, it is translated a bit differently which helps to understand the Bible more clearly. Because of God the Father and our Lord Jesus, we have been given rich blessings and peace-filled hearts and minds (1:2b, TLB).

Does it get any better? In the world we live in, peace – filled hearts and minds are one of the greatest gifts we can be given. In a day where our minds and hearts run like they are on a treadmill all night long, the peace Jesus gives is enduring and ever-loving!

(3) We have the opportunity to do three specific things based on the knowledge of those God has placed in our path, who continue to be an encouragement to our faith (1:3-4). We can pray for them, share with others about lessons we are learning through their example, and give thanks.

Each of these things are growing points for me. I believe they are for each of us. We live in a “me first” world, which causes us to forget or neglect others, their faith, and the privilege of praying for them or sharing things we learn through their example.

(4) God can use our sufferings to make us ready for His Kingdom (1:5-6). This set of verses will cause us to give James 1 a second chance, where we are urged to count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

We need to trust that God will use our sufferings for His ultimate good. He is preparing us for something greater. His Kingdom is worthy of our suffering (see Prov. 3:5-6; Rom. 8:18).

(5) As we face suffering, God will provide us with quality rest through Jesus’ second coming (1:7, 10). As we come into His Kingdom, we will forever know God as He honestly is – with no holding back. 

One day, we will stand in His presence and will never again be distracted by the circumstances we are facing or the things of this world. We will stand in His presence in utter awe and overwhelmed with joy. We will be fully satisfied in the Lord.

Blogging for Books

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart (Blogging-for-Books)

higgsHave you ever wondered how to memorize Scripture? I have a wonderful study tool to share with you all today!

Liz Curtis Higgs’ latest book is on this very important topic – memorizing Scripture. As Christians, we know we need to make an effort to memorize the Word of God (see Ps. 119:11; Joshua 1:8; Matthew 4:1-11; Col. 3:16; Rom. 10:17). But, have you ever asked yourself how to do this important task? I know I have found myself in that very place, which is why I am pleased to bring this review to you all.

In her book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, Higgs takes us on a beautiful journey. We will not only come away with having spent memorable time in the Word of God and learning to memorize Scripture, but will have also made a good friend and learned much about God and His Word.

This study is available for personal use, but there is one more benefit to this book. The study guide, located in the back of the book, makes it ideal for a small group study as well. This study is absolutely amazing! I hope you all have an opportunity to check it out!

Specifics on the Study

These are 31 verses that we desperately need to know by heart. When we learn the Scriptures, by heart, they will come to mind at the very moment their presence is needed. A short list of the set aside verses include –

  • Philippians 1:6
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Proverbs 3:3

… among many other treasured Scriptures that remind us of God’s truths.

In each day’s reading, you can expect to find 5 key elements…

~ A devotion
~ Time of prayer
~ The daily tip for memorizing Scripture (which means we get 31 tips designed to help us memorize Scripture!!)
~ The Scripture of the day in New International Version (NIV)
~ A space for us to write out the verse in our favorite translation

My Last Thoughts

I love to pore through this book. There is so much truth found within the contents of this book, that comes from God’s Word. In her devotions, Liz takes us through the Scripture word – by- word, phrase – by – phrase. Higgs is a researcher, which is one of my favorite things about her way of teaching, so we get to glean all that she is learning and has to share with us.

Not only is Liz knowledgeable, when it comes to the Word of God, she is witty. Whenever I take a journey with one of her books, it is like I am reacquainting with an old friend. This study will challenge us in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Plus, it isn’t a time consuming study – which is a must for many of us. As we dive into 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, we will be challenged to seek after God and to come as we are. This study is a blessing, and I highly recommend it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the “Blogging for Books” book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Gleaning from the Heart of Jesus

The Change Within {{Week 3}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:8 and Psalm 24:3-4, 6

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8 – NLT).

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob (Psalm 24:3-4, 6 – ESV).

Devotion

There is no doubt or hesitation. Those who position themselves to be purified in their deeds and heart by the blood of Jesus Christ, are the ones who will see and experience God.

Often times, we just worry about behavior motivation. In today’s world, that seems like what we pursue often times. I actually took a class on it, when I was younger. It becomes about finding “reinforcements” that cause us to change the way we do things. When we do this, we completely miss solving our heart problem.

Genuine purity points us to worship, which means we will see and experience God. (Click-to-Tweet)

Jesus cuts to the chase right here – True purity points us to worship, which means we will see and experience God. We can’t settle for the counterfeit things. He knows the difference. If we don’t put our hearts in our relationship with Jesus, He will notice. Not only does He notice, it actually holds us back. It locks us to a chain, preventing us from going further. Purity must begin in our hearts, for that’s God looks at.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 – ESV).”

While we may think “if I just do the right things,” we get messed up in our focus. While man looks at doing the right things, God looks at having the right kind of heart. Let’s just seek Him, giving Him our hearts today – friends!

God looks at having the right kind of heart, that leads us to Him! (Click-to-Tweet)

Scripture shares something with us – In order to see and experience God, we need to worry about our heart. What do we have going on in our spirit? To meet with God, we need to be far more concerned about he internal – for it matters more than the outward appearance and good deeds.

Lord, I want to see You. Help me to concern myself with my inward appearance. There is no fooling You. I need to allow the transformation to start with my thought life. Thank You, Lord! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Create

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Minute Friday!
This week’s theme is “create“. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, please visit Kate’s blog for more details… Each week, a community of bloggers come together with the common goal of spending five unedited minutes to write on a topic.

Thomas Merton once wrote:

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.”

In order to reach ourselves at the deepest level (being real with who God created us to be), we must create. While not all of us are creative people, God has uniquely designed us. He has uniquely given us passions, that can be used to know God and ourselves at a bigger level. We must be willing to ask the deep question –

“How am I making choices, that allow me to go deeper?”

Tonight, I had the opportunity to create. I have been working on designing my blog right here at Gracefully Overcoming. I have been creating, envisioning, and organizing, and there has been an intense passion to do that.

God has given us a passion for life and certain things. For me, writing is one of those passions. I am tremendously blessed to be able to have this place to sit, write, and sort through my thoughts.

As I continue to make these choices to create (or write), I need to remember what is at stake. I need to remember to keep creating, so I can grow as a person and follower of Jesus Christ. I have a few favorite ways to create these days, that are helping me push past the barriers of life and go deeper –

  1. Writing, as I learn more about God, His precious Son Jesus, His love and grace He has for me, and the gift of new life!
  2. Scripture Art, which enables me to sit with a particular Scripture, think on it, pray over it and life as it happens, and grow in that experience.

These are my two primary ways of going deeper. See when I spend time seeking Jesus, I learn so much about myself. It is a growing experience that knows no end. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am reminded that God is continually making me new. He is continuing to create something new in my heart and life. He is continuing to strengthen me, as I endure different things in my life.

God is the ultimate Creator! 
And, He has so much creating He wants to do in my life (and yours too!)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Ps. 51:10, KJV).”

Chronic Illness

Pretend to be Okay {{Reasons and Reflection}}

Often when we are in the midst of a trial, there is one game we all seem to do fairly well at. And that is, pretending to be okay. Today, was quite simply – “that kind of day.” Maybe, it was for you also.

While we may pretend to be okay, there is one fact we forget. Pretending doesn’t make us closer to being okay.

The Pretending

While, at church today, I did the performance dance. I listened to a beautiful message on
“pride” (I know, right??), and tried to muster up the strength to look okay on the outside. I want to focus on three reasons why we (or I) might do this little dance.

  • Pride.
  • Sparing loved ones of our burdens.
  • To not allow others to mourn with us.

The View From God

God looks at our hearts. He doesn’t want us walking around in our circumstances all on our own. God wants His people to open up and share diligently, so others can be there for us! In all honesty, I shared with a few trusted folks. We need those kind of friendships, where honesty can be utilized. The sharing, much like the illness, can get a bit complicated.

The Reason Why I Share

While man looks at outward appearances, it isn’t the one that ultimately matters. As the Word of God teaches us, God looks at our hearts. That’s what God cares about.

In the Bible, we find these words:

“… God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7b, ICB)”

Three Thoughts to Share –

Who am I excluding from seeing my hurts? Granted, this is a hard question to ask. Why? It gets into the issue of pride. A lot of times we keep on the mask, so, we look “normal” or more put together. But, that isn’t the real us. I want for us to learn how to tread this road of being honest with people, yet carefully.

“You know what, I have been better.”

Honest, yet limited detail.

My goal in these situations is to love others (and myself) by making these moments memorable. Memorable, because of the trust existing between them and me. Where encouragement and prayer can dwell. (Even alongside joy and gratitude!)

How am I allowing God to use my circumstances, to encourage others? Or, to teach them compassion? By sharing our difficult days, God can use us and the trials we may face. God wants to use us to speak to His children. Maybe, they need to hear your story – to deepen their own relationship with Him through Jesus .

How am I making the choice to be more concerned about my heart than appearance? God wants us to care more about our hearts than appearance. I know, for myself, my heart needs to take priority over making appearances.

God is far more concerned about my heart. That’s where my offering is.

We can each put our foot forward with trusting God goes before us. We don’t have to share everything, but we don’t have to hide everything either. We can be honest. Let’s start with being honest with our great God about how we are honestly doing. Let’s settle it in our hearts to be real with God about how we are doing.