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Monday, January 12, 2015

Why should we study the Bible? Part 1 of 5

Good morning!  

As I sit here and prep to do my Bible studies, I thought it would only be fitting to study why we study this book in the first place.  I mean, really, aren't there other books we could be studying?  Why study a book that was written so many years ago?  Does it actually help us?  In this series, I hope to touch on why we study this great book.  

So, Why do we study the bible?  There are 5 main reasons we study this great book.  I will cover one each day, but they all are:  for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, and for every good work.  

Today, let's touch on the teaching part of this study.  

As sinners, we are all ignorant of God's will.  So let's break that down a little bit.  Did she just call me ignorant, you  may be asking, so let's see what exactly that means.  Ignorant is defined as lacking knowledge or awareness in general.  When I see this definition, I automatically think, it means having not been taught.  Therefore, the Bible should be read in order to gain that knowledge we currently lack.  

Some verses that can help us to see what I mean are:

there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.-- Romans 3:11

Let's touch on the first part of this verse, "there is no one who understands;"  this signifies ignorance in general, not knowing.  If we don't understand something, don't we have to be taught?  Who better a teacher than Jesus Christ and his disciples?  

The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.-- Psalm 14:2

Again, in the second part of this verse, we see that the Lord is looking for those who understand, those who are seeking Him.  So, let's look at ways we can seek his face... First, I think of prayer.  Pray to God.  Talk go Him.  Sob to Him when you need to.  Then Praise and Worship.  This comes in many forms.  Just being thankful for all He has done, will do, is doing in your life.  Singing praises to him.  And finally, reading His word.  Reading the bible is a great way to seek the Lord.  In these readings, the Lord will reveal things he wants you to know about.  Reading the word is one way you can hear from the Lord.  
He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstablepeople distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.-- 2 Peter 3:16

Are we understanding all the Lord has for us?  Or are we distorting His word to what we think we want to hear?  This is a huge indication that we do not understand the Word of God.  The best way we can come to understand it, is to study the word on a regular basis.  

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.-- 2 Timothy 2:15

Finally, we see that we are to Do our best!  That's it.  That's all God asks for is our best.  Are you doing your best to present yourself?  Are you a worker?  Are you unashamed?  Do you correctly handle the word of truth?  These are all things we should look at as we study the word of God.  From the word of God we learn. We are taught.  

In closing, what areas could you be working on in order to become wiser?  I know that I need to discipline myself to get in the word Daily.  

Father God, 

Help me to become more disciplined to reading your word daily.  Amen. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day of Rest

What is a day of rest for you?  For me, I kind of feel like I do not ever get a full day of rest.  I set my intentions on resting for a day, but then I find that this needs my attention or that needs my attention, so my day of rest gets tossed out with the dish water, so I thought it would be a great time to really research what a day of rest means. 

In the secular world, we equate the day of rest with a day of being lazy.  Laying around on the couch all day watching tv.  That is the worldly way to look at the day of rest.  But, what is the spiritual way to look at the day of rest?  Many times we don't really divide up what exactly it means.  It does not mean doing nothing.  On the contrary, it means a day of worship. 

Knowing now that a day of rest means a day of worship, I thought it would be appropriate to look at a passage from the Old Testament.  In Exodus 20:8, the Lord says, "Remember the sabbath day, by keeping it holy."  so as we chew on this, here are a couple of definitions that are appropriate:

sabbath-- the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians; Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship;
a time of rest.  
holy--connected to a god or a religion; religious and morally good
So from that I pull that the seventh day of the week, we are to worship, rest, and keep connected to the Lord, practicing morally good behavior.  This has me thinking at this point, so what day of the week should my sabbath be?  The Lord did not say that Sunday has to be the day that we all practice the Sabbath, but he said the 7th day.  So my next question to you would be, what is the one day a week you can devote to the Lord?  It may be that you can devote Tuesdays to the Lord, then I would recommend doing that.  
Now, keeping in mind that you are worshipping, does this mean that you cannot do dishes, or feed your family, no it doesn't.  You can pray and whorship to the Lord while doing those activities.  In my opinion it means that we should unplug from the world and plug into the Lord.  Go off of social media for a day.  Plug into the Lord.  Start your day with prayer, praise and worship, dig into the word of the Lord (also known as the Bible), continue worshipping and praying as your day goes on.  End your day with more prayer and worship.  Really connect with the Lord.  If you feel that you are not knowing what to say to the Lord, perhaps he is telling you to be still.  
Psalm 46:10 says, "He says, 'Be still and know that I am God; I will be exhalted among the nations, I will be exhalted among the earth.'"
There is time for talking to him, and we all are really good at asking for what we want, but are we good at asking for what HE wants for us?  I know this is one area that I am not good in right now.  We are a needy world, and he wants to give us what He has for us.  Then there are times when we must listen because he has something for us.  He will speak to us in many ways, and that's all for another post, but just know that there are times when you must be still and listen for that voice of the Lord.  

Have Faith like a mustard seed...

As I sit here really mulling over what the 5 letter word means, I can't help but thank God for allowing me to have FAITH!  So what does that mean?

Faith by definition is strong belief or trust in someone or something; belief in the existence of God; strong religious feelings or beliefs; a system of religious beliefs; allegiance to duty or a person; fidelity to one's promises; sincerity of intentions; belief and trust in and loyalty to God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; firm belief in something for which there is no proof;  complete trust; something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially,  a system of religious beliefs; without question

What exactly does this mean?  Well in plain english, Faith is believing without seeing.  It's the belief in something without knowing the steps to get there.  For example, the pantry is almost bare, you have no money for 5 more days, you know SOMETHING will provide, but what?  How will that food stretch.  Fast forward, it's the night before pay day and you still have enough food for 2 more meals.  How did that happen?  THE LORD provided! 

As we get closer to our move, I'm finding that the Lord is testing our faith daily.  We have to learn to have faith that he will get us there in the right home in HIS timing.  I know he will provide all provisions to get us there.  I just have to be patient and have faith that He will deliver.  I have also done a lot of looking back over the last several years.  When I thought I was having faith, I feel now in hindsight that I was questioning his ability to provide for us.  This is a big thing, we must learn to trust in him fully and have faith and things will turn out. 

The verse for the day:  Luke 17:6-- "He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."

As you can see, if you have just a tiny bit of faith, you can and will do great things!  Praise the Lord!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Who Am I?

As I continue reading "The Search For Significance"  by Robert S. McGee, I am finding that every time I sit down to read a little bit of it, something really sticks out at me and I feel the need to write it down, hilight it, chew on it, etc.  Today I want to share a few things that I not only read in the book, but some thoughts that have come to mind, as well as something that was posted on one of my pastor's facebook profiles.

First, know that God loves you, yes you!  So much that he sent his only son to die for you on the cross!  He loves us that much!  Wow isn't that crazy?  Nope, it's how God works.  He created you in his image and he wants you to be you, not someone else.

So, in the book, I have learned some of the bad habits that I have had a history of doing.  Some of those things stemmed from my childhood.  I came from a bad situation, and one day I will open up and post my testimony, but that is another post for another day.  What I want to touch on today is that the things that happen in our childhood can, and do carry over into adulthood.  I am living proof of that.  Due to my childhood, I never felt like I belonged, I always felt like I wasn't good enough, I have very low self esteem.  The list goes on.

What this book is teaching me is that I am made perfect.  No, I will not say "in the eyes of the Lord"  because that's not how I want to look at myself any longer, a little later, you will understand that.  I am good enough!  And I am BEAUTIFUL!  Those are the three main things we will focus on today.

Psalm 139:14 says:  "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfullly made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

Take a moment to really chew on this verse please.  And then think of things you can relate it to.  Those beautiful flowers on your dining room table, didn't the Lord make those also?  And aren't they just absolutely georgeous?  Yes they are!  God made them and he made you!  He made you perfect!  He made you beautiful!  You are uniquely you because God wanted it that way!  You are you!  You do not have to try to be someone you are not.  These are all things I am learning.  I know I have a very long way to go, but I am working one negative Nancy at a time.

Now when we have those moments when we feel that we are just not good enough, I encourage you to go to the Lord.  One way we can do this is by getting out our bible, dusting it off, and digging into verses that we know tell us otherwise.  When I don't feel good enough, I try to remember this verse and say it over and over in my mind.  "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  Ephesians 2:10.  Breaking it down and chewing on it, in a nutshell, He made me, perfectly in his image, I AM ENOUGH!  That's all I need to be.  All I need to be is enough for God.  I have to accept that I will make mistakes, and that the Lord forgives me for those mistakes.

1 Peter 3:3-4 says:  "Do not let your adorning be external-- the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelery, or the clothing you wear-- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  When I look at this, it really speaks to me.  I always have tried to fit in, I have always felt like I didn't belong, and I have struggled with a very low self esteem.  It didn't help what I went through as a child, but now that I'm an adult, and have been, its' time that I accept that the lies I was told as a child and most of my adult life just are not true.  I don't need to have the latest fashions to be beautiful.  The Lord doesn't look at the outside, he looks at my heart.  Bitterness is ugly, and I pray that I can overcome the bitterness that has lately taken root in my spiritman (so to speak).  The Lord will help me, if I let him.

So my challenge is to LET IT GO!  Yep, I went there, just like Elsa sings in Frozen, it's time we let go of our negeativity and allow God to work in us.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

House hunting

Because we are moving so far away, the house hunting for us this time has been very challenging.  It may seem like we can just go online find a place, pay the required move in and we would be good to go right?  Nope.

We found a list of homes we liked that were all in our budget, gave the addresses to Roy and Carol.  They went and looked at them.  Most of them were not doable.  The one that Ryan and I both loved they said just simply wouldn't work.  The condo we liked they didn't think would work with us having the girls and it being upstairs, so we are back to the drawing board.

There are a few that are still contenders, but back to looking for houses I go.  I sure hope we find something soon.  That's the issue with having a deadline.

On a positive note, Patrick brought me boxes today, so tomorrow I get a day full of starting to pack up things we aren't using.  It's really going to put into perspective that we are moving.  I think I'll start in the office and work from there.

One thing we have learned in this whole process is that it really does take everyone to make it happen.  We are happy that we allowed the girls to have their input into the move, and I am sure they will love helping pack and unpack too, but most of all we are happy that we have a support system that will help us with finding the right place on the other side.  We can't wait until the move is over, we are settled into the new home, new state, new routines and just get to enjoy where we are.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello out there!  I know I'm a week late, but we wanted to wish you a happy new year!  

We have lots going on and will try to keep you all updated more, but here's the jest of it:

The Cox's are moving AGAIN!  This time, we are headed to the mountains!  We are relocating to North Carolina.  We really feel this is the best move for our family.  While I am in college, we feel that because I am taking online courses, the best move for us is to go to a state that we can all be together more often.  With Ryan's work schedule, he can be in North Carolina more often (usually) than he is here in Florida.  With all of that said, and having taken 6 months to pray over this and discuss the pros and cons between the four of us, we made the decision to go.  

In no way was the decision an easy one, and I'm sure that some people will not be happy that we are leaving our beloved state, but we really need those people to understand that we are not doing this because we want to hurt anyone, we are doing it to better our future, to better the future for our children.  We feel the Lord has been guiding us north for a while, and He chose to reveal our next location to us this past summer.  We fought him on it.  We were like Jonah and the whale.  We didn't want to do what the Lord wanted us to do, but we have come to realize, like Jonah, when the Lord says do something, it will happen.  

So, what does this mean?  It means that I will continue my Associate's Degree via the internet, just like I am doing here in Florida.  It means that the girls will have to change school's, but they will be going into a much better school district on the other side of the move.  It means we have all of the normal relocating things to do, but most of all it means that we will be growing together again as a family.  Re-learning how to communicate effectively with each other, learning how to love one another locally rather than across the miles.  It means more quality time for each of us to have with each other.  

This move really is a time of newness, refreshing, and learning to lean on the Lord.  While we are excited to move, we know there will be challenges to overcome and we know the Lord will provide.  We pray that all of our closest friends and family will support our decision to move to another state. We love you and will miss you more than you know.