Week 2: Wrap Up

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What was special about this week’s message? I invite you to comment below, and share with me (and other readers) about how God spoke to you in this week’s Bible study on 1 Thessalonians

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-20

… We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did (vv. 7-8, MSG).

Jesus’ Deep Love

Jesus Christ loves all of humanity. He saw and felt the agony of our lost relationship due to our disobedience. Sin separates us from God, and Jesus went to incredible lengths to bring us back into a right standing relationship with the Father, where we can stand in His presence, enjoy sweet intimacy with God, and have our prayers heard! Jesus Christ took our sins, died on our cross, and rose again. Because of Jesus Christ, we can be restored and have our God-shaped hole in our spirits – filled! Will we accept Jesus Christ and let Him love us?

If we are following Jesus Christ, it is because someone had the courage to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with us. Praise God!! We know the mighty power and love of our Risen Lord, but need to share the Good News with others – so they can come to know the love of our Savior and how He can radically change their lives for the better.

This kind of boldness comes only from being with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

What Scripture Says:

We can show others His love, by the way we treat them. Scripture teaches us a few things, in regards to treating others as a means to share Jesus with others.

  • Love others the way you love others (Matthew 22:39).
  • Do good to all people, especially those in God’s family (Galatians 6:10).
  • Be wise in the way you interact with non-believers (Colossians 4:5-6).

Learning How to Treat Others

Relating to others has never come easily for me. Even if it is out-of-my-element, God is calling His sons and daughters to go into the world and share the Gospel and ourselves with others.

Before we can do so, we have to learn how to treat others. We need to learn how to love well, starting with how we love (and treat) ourselves.

This is where leaning into Jesus really counts, because He is the One showing me to love. While He shows us how to love, it has to begin by realizing the love He has personally for each of us. This is the most important relationship we have, with Jesus Christ. So, I need to nurture this special relationship. Christ ought to be my motivation in how I treat others, for these acts of kindness can last for eternity.

Jesus, You are our Hope! You are why we can have the strength to change the way we treat others. Thank You, Lord!

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Our Focus {{Week 7}}

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Hello, my friends! Today, I want to talk with us about focus. If we don’t have clear focus, we won’t know with any degree of accuracy where we are going. We might even head the wrong direction with absolute confidence that we are going the right way.

For those of us that get up during the night and try to avoid light switches at all costs, we know how important good eyesight and light is. At home, our memory serves us well – keeping us safe from danger. However, what if we aren’t home? Danger awaits those without good eyesight and keeping in the light. In order to stay safe and to keep seeking Jesus, we must stay in His light. Keep in the Word, prayer, confession and removal sin from our lives (with His help and power), receiving and celebrating His mercy, and fellowship with His people.

THE SCRIPTURES – Matthew 6:22-23; Isaiah 5:20

The eye is like a lamp for the body. Suppose your eyes are healthy. Then your whole body will be full of light. But suppose your eyes can’t see well. Then your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light inside you is darkness, then it is very dark! (Mt. 6:22-23)

How terrible it will be for those who say that what is evil is good! How terrible for those who say that what is good is evil! How terrible for those who say that darkness is light and light is darkness! How terrible for those who say that what is bitter is sweet and what is sweet is bitter! (Is. 5:20)

Devotion

When I went to a conference last year, I was met with a slogan relating to its verse (Colossians 3:1-2). The slogan asked a question, to all its participants. “What are you looking at?”

As Christ followers, we need to let our gaze be steadily on Him – the Supplier of Life. If I am led by my Savior Jesus, my entire life is impacted. Every single conduct is guided by Jesus’ hand and the loving words He has spoken to me.

We need our spirits to be completely focused on Him, for the real treasures are where He is. He is the Source of Life and eternal treasures. When I fix my eyes on other things, I lose the opportunities to experience the fullness of God, to avoid pitfalls, and to overflow with joy – God’s joy!

But when my focus is on Christ, I am greatly blessed. I can see temptations and traps before they have arrived in my midst. I can avoid falling into areas of sin, that once entangled me. I can confess my sin and experience the power of Christ that breaks the chains of sin. I can stay encouraged, and never again feel utterly empty – because Christ is filling me up.

Where my focus is, there the rest of me will stay. My eyes need to be on the Sparrow.

Lord, I don’t know how exactly to do this. But, I need my whole focus to be on Christ. Father, show me how to put my eyes on You in a way that will radically change all I am and will be. When I look to You, make me immovable where no distraction will grab ahold of me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Making Promises to God {{Week 5}}

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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 5:33-35; Numbers 30:2

Again, you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not make false vows, but you shall fulfill your vows to the Lord [as a religious duty].’ But I say to you, do not make an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God; or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King (Matthew 5:33-35, AMP).

 If a man makes a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself with a pledge [of abstinence], he shall not break (violate, profane) his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2).

Devotion

In the context of this passage, we are taught to not issue promises to God. It is not good for us to say, “I will do _________.” While it is our human tendencies to make promises, we tend to not be able to keep them. Things are constantly arising in our lives. Not only that, but God is sacred and holy. Our relationship with God is unlike any other relationship we have, in our lives!

How are we realizing, as Christ followers, the significance of such a promise made?

I remember one time, where I made such a promise to God. I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing. But bottom line, I was afraid and quickly forgetting the greatness of my God. He doesn’t need our promises. He doesn’t need our promises, to activate His life-saving (and changing) grace!

When Scripture teaches us that it is better to not make oaths, God really knows what He is talking about. When we make oaths, we don’t know what the future or even God’s will has in store. Making promises seem to be the popular in the reality of daily living. We remember our human fraility and try to use “pinky promises” to get our kids and others to just be faithful to what they have said.

God is faithful!

Even when we are faithless, God is completely faithful!

Allow God to show you His greatness in your life.

When we begin to grasp, really grasp, the greatness of our God, we won’t make promises. This is the point, where we are utterly aware that God is far greater than we could ever comprehend. God is not one we should “make deals” with. God is Awesome and the richest Treasure of this world.

My hope is to remember the sacredness of our great God. He is very good to His people. We have no way of knowing what circumstances lie ahead, and how it will affect how we carry out our promises.

Lord, Remove the blinders from our eyes. I pray You would show us Your greatness. Help us to remember there is none like You. Thank You that You are sacred, holy, and pour out Your truths in our lives! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pursuers of Peace {{Week 4}}

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Hello friends!

Welcome to the beginning of week 4 for our Ephesians study – Walking into the Light! Today I have a truth to share, as we begin our new week of study. I invite you to break out your Bible and journal (link at end of post, to purchase).

Take a few moments to read Ephesians 4:3-4, and meditate on what God is teaching you about His peace. Then, meet me back here.

Seeking Out Peace

God is teaching us about being pursuers of peace. In Ephesians 4:3-4, we learn that we are called to bind ourselves together with peace. We are not talking about ordinary peace that we can find in earthly things.

We are talking about the actual peace God wants to give, to those who have trusted in Jesus Christ – as their beloved Savior!

In this particular Scripture, we are reminded that we need to put in the effort to be peace-pursuers. Peace with others, doesn’t “just happen”. Peace is something we have to intentionally seek out.

God’s Heart

God wants us to be pursuers of peace and united with the Church. It’s not from our own strength that we can do this, but by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to equip us to be peace pursuers. In Matthew 5, we are reminded that… those who do such are called blessed. They are spiritually happy, because they pursue peace. Let’s get closer to learn what Jesus is teaching us in Matthew 5:9

Blessed are “the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God (AMP).”

Seeking out God’s peace in our relationships, is part of the sanctification process (of being more like Jesus).

Because of the Holy Spirit

… we are given the help we desperately need to become a more peaceful person.

Because of God and His Son Jesus Christ, we can experience peace – regardless of what is going on in our lives.

It is by His strength, that we can choose peace in the most tense of situations (see Phil. 4:. 6-7).

Becoming peace pursuers is part of the package, given to us through Jesus Christ!

Our world is spiraling out of control. But when we come to God through His Son Jesus Christ, peace is made possible. Jesus promises to be our peace. While storms rage, we can have inner peace and work toward relational peace. A Jesus kind of peace (see Isa. 9:6). Knowing His peace changes everything!

How are we intentionally seeking the peace of God in our lives?

While we may face many disheartening situations in our lives, Jesus stands with us and promises to be our peace – if we will repent of our sin and turn to Him. How are we allowing our habitual relationship with Jesus to bring peace into our relationships?

To read more on peace, check out the first entry on our Ephesians study!

 

Walking Into The Light: A Six Week Scripture Writing Experience

{Please note: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small earning when you use the above link to make any purchase. Great way to support the blog, while you shop!}

Five Minute Friday – Create

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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).”