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Archive | Spiritual Growth

What’s the “Good” of Romans 8:28?

Romans 8:28

Disappointments, grief, difficulty, trials, and strife fill our lives. These things have touched each of us. It is the human experience. But in the midst of suffering, we cling to a promise found in Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome:

“For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28, NIV

Christians find comfort, encouragement, and hope in these words. And rightly so. Unfortunately, many of us have misapplied this well-known verse. Our understanding is shortsighted. We slap God’s promise on the current and temporal, expecting our physical circumstances to soon look “good” – better even than when things went awry.

Isn’t that what Romans 8:28 means? After all, it says that God “works all things together for our good!” Doesn’t God divinely control all the events and circumstances of our lives to make things turn out great for us?

In order to understand “all things work together for good” accurately, we must not only consider the entire verse, but also the context of the larger passage.

In Romans 8:18-39, Paul is comparing present, earthly suffering of believers with the eternal glory to come. (See Romans 8:18.) On this earth, we “groan” or experience difficulties because of the effects of sin. But God has conquered sin. In His sovereignty, He is working out His plan to save, sanctify, and glorify those He has “called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28-30).

The Who, What, and How of Romans 8:28

With the larger context in mind, let’s discover the “who,” “what,” and “how” of Romans 8:28:

  • Who is the promise for? – This promise is only for Christians, those who have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus. Not only did Paul write this letter to believers, but the verse itself defines the “who” – “those who love [God], who have been called according to His purpose.” We cannot apply this verse to all people.
  • What is our “good?” – This is probably the most often misunderstood and misapplied part of this verse. “Good” does not mean our happiness, physical comfort, or material abundance. The larger context of the passage refers to our spiritual condition and sure hope of one day sharing in Christ’s glory. God’s purpose for us is to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (verse 29). This is our calling, God’s goal – and “good” – for us. In His power and sovereignty, God is working through the circumstances of our lives to make us like Jesus and to bring us to our eternal glory.
  • How does God accomplish it? – God works in and through our trials, difficulties, and pain and suffering to move us toward His will (Romans 8:27) which is conformity to Jesus and future glory with Him (Romans 8:29-30). (See Romans 5:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, and James 1:2-4.) In order to be like Jesus and share His glory, we must also share His sufferings (Philippians 3:10-11). God uses and works through our physical circumstances to bring about the spiritual condition He desires in us.

God’s “good” is eternal

God’s “good” for us is far greater than our temporary, physical circumstances. His plan is spiritual in nature and eternal in scope. God intimately knows our physical needs and cares greatly about each one (Matthew 6:25-33). But He cares even more about our spiritual condition. He wants us to be like His Son.

Is this understanding of God’s “good” for us different than you’ve understood it in the past? In what way?

 

 

 

 

 

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Have you settled for good enough faith?

good enough faith

I think I’ve settled in many ways. Settled into a life of faith that’s comfortable… easy… doable. After all, I’ve  grown and I’ve gone and I’ve served. Surely I can keep this comfortable pace. Isn’t this level of faith good enough? Isn’t “good enough” faith, good enough?

I’d never settle for a lukewarm latte if I ordered “extra hot.” And my husband and I didn’t live with it when the painter used the wrong color on our back door. So why am I satisfied with a good enough faith?

God calls us to push the boundaries of our comfort zone. To step into unfamiliar territory. To obediently follow Him into areas of service we can’t tackle in our own strength. Because only then will we depend on Him. Only then will He get the glory.

So why do I settle? Why do you settle?

Maybe it’s fear. Maybe we’re afraid that God will ask us to give up something we don’t want to give up. Or maybe we fear ridicule or failure.

Or maybe we simply love where we are too much. We don’t desire where God wants to take us. We don’t long to see His miraculous activity in the midst of our meager offering.

Paul didn’t settle for good enough faith

The apostle Paul never, ever settled. And he never shrunk back. He planted churches, shared the Gospel with kings, resuscitated the dead in Jesus’ name, and endured great persecution for Christ’s sake. Yet he never felt as though his faith was “good enough.” He never felt as though he had “arrived.”

Paul had been a rising star in the Jewish world. He had the world by the tail. But he left it all to follow Jesus. Yet even then, he wanted more. He would not stop pursuing Christ until he saw Him face to face:

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

I guess the real question is this: Do I want Jesus more than I want to stay where I am? Do I long for more of Jesus more than I long for easy, comfortable, doable?

That’s a good question.

What about you? Do you long for Jesus more than… Or is your “good enough” faith good enough?

Other posts you might like:

7 Characteristics of a Mature Christian

6 Things you Might Not Know About the Apostle Paul

No Such Thing as Spiritual Holding

 

 

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Does Jesus Speak to You?

Does Jesus speak to Christians? Does God communicate with those who love Jesus and follow Him? That question came to national attention last week.

A Quick Review of the Controversy

It all started when former White House aid Omarosa Manigault Newman made derogatory comments about Vice-President Mike Pence’s faith on Celebrity Big Brother. Omarosa said Americans should be worried about the possibility of Pence as president because:

“He’s extreme. I’m Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things… It’s scary.”

Then the cohosts of the TV talk show “The View” picked up the topic. Joy Behar, who says she is a Christian, said:

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.”

A couple of the other cohosts worked to balance her opinion, but the audience obviously sided with Behar. The conversation ended with the tone that anyone who claims to hear God speak isn’t quite right in the head. 

Then Vice-President Pence responded. He called for ABC to take a stand for religious tolerance, citing the millions of Americans who cherish their faith.

Does Jesus Speak to Christians?

I noticed that both Omarosa and Behar claim to be Christians. Yet, they think people who “hear” Jesus speak to them are either crazy or scary or both.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what Omarosa or Behar or anyone else thinks. What matters is the truth. Does God speak to Christians?

The short answer is “yes.” God does indeed speak to believers. The Bible tells us God speaks to us.

In the well-known Christian book “Experiencing God,” written by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, the authors make this statement:

One critical point to understanding and experiencing God is knowing clearly when God is speaking. If the Christian does not know when God is speaking, he is in trouble at the heart of his Christian life!

What does the Bible say?

Although this topic needs much more time and space than a brief blog post, we can hit the highlights to confirm the truth that yes, indeed God speaks to us today.

The Bible tells us that before Jesus came, God spoke to His people through the prophets and in various ways (Hebrews 1:1). Examples fill the Bible – angelic visits, dreams and visions, fiery bushes and more. Now, in these “last days” – the time between Jesus’ post-resurrection ascension and His return – God speaks to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2).

Jesus is present with His people, speaking to His people, today. The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – lives inside every true believer (Romans 8:9-11). We can hear God speak to us because His Spirit dwells with us.

The Spirit’s Job in Believers

Here are just a few of the things the Spirit does within believers that helps us to hear from God:

  • Gives Spiritual Understanding – The Spirit helps us understand the Bible and the things of God. Much of this seems like foolish gibberish to the world because they don’t have the Spirit to give them understanding  (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
  • Testifies to Jesus – The Spirit always makes Jesus known to us. He reveals truth in our hearts and minds about Jesus (John 15:26).
  • Teaches and Reminds – The Spirit not only gives us understanding, He helps us see how God’s truth – the Bible – should be applied to our lives. He helps us see how God’s principles throughout Scripture work together. And when we need specific truths or principles for specific life situations, He brings those things to mind (John 14:26).
  • Guides into Truth – The Spirit helps us recognize God’s truth and distinguish it from error and false teaching. The Spirit shows us know how to specifically apply those truths to the current situations and relationships of our lives.

Ways God Speaks Today

So, how does the Spirit’s job translate into a Christian hearing God speak?

  • The Bible –  The Bible is the primary way God speaks to Christians today. In His Word, God has revealed Himself, His purposes, and His ways. As we read, and the Holy Spirit does His job, we “hear” Jesus speak. His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Holy Spirit wields it like a sword – to pierce our hearts and prick our minds with God’s truth. (See 11 Tips for Spending Quality Quiet Time with God)
  • Prayer – Christians have the very Spirit of God living inside us. When we pray we aren’t just tossing words into the air. And it isn’t a one-way conversation. In prayer, God uses His Spirit to bring us into alignment with His truth, with His will for us. The Spirit miraculously works in our hearts. The Spirit brings Scripture to mind that God wants us to apply to specific situations. The Spirit reminds us of ways we need to act, reach out, love, help, forgive. And when God speaks, we should respond.
  • Secondary Ways – Although the Bible and prayer are the primary ways God speaks to His children today, He will often confirm what He wants us to know through circumstances and the counsel of godly people. But, God will never “speak” to us in ways that contradict His Word.

So why does Omarosa, Behar, and many other “Christians” deny that God speaks to His children today? I can’t answer that for every individual, but there are two primary possibilities. First, they may be members of a religious group, but don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the truth that God speaks to His children sounds like crazy foolishness. Second, they may be new, immature believers who are just beginning to learn God’s truth.

What about you? Do you hear Jesus speak? What would you say to a “Christian” who scoffs at the idea of God speaking today?

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7 Characteristics of a Mature Christian

spiritual maturity

Would you describe yourself as a mature Christian? How would you even know? Honestly, that term feels sort of subjective. What one person considers mature, another might not.

So, should we even worry about it? The quick answer is “yes.” First, the Bible makes it clear God wants us to be spiritually mature:

“…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph 4:13, NIV

 

The Greek word translated as “mature” in Ephesians 4:13 is teleios. It means to be “complete, perfect, brought to end, of full age.” Spiritual maturity is God’s goal for us.

In fact, our spiritual maturity is so important to God, He allows trials into our lives to grow our faith:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4

If our maturity is this important to God, perhaps we should take it more seriously. But how can we know if we’re growing spiritually? What does a mature Christian look like? Thankfully, we don’t have to depend on our opinion or best guess. The Bible tells us what spiritual maturity looks like.

7 Characteristics of a Mature Christian

The Bible gives us many marks of a growing believer, like perseverance and spiritual fruit, but the Bible specifically mentions the following 7 characteristics in conjunction with the Greek word teleios:

  1. Recognizes the difference between right and wrong – then does what is right (Hebrews 5:14)
  2. Not easily swayed by false teaching (Ephesians 4:13-16) – So grounded in the truth of God’s Word, she quickly recognizes falsehood.
  3. Rooted in love (Ephesians 4:13-16) – Our words and actions flow from love for our fellow believers.
  4. Serves the church (Ephesians 4:13-16) – A Christian cannot grow to her full potential apart from a vital connection to a local church. She must find her place of mutual service and encouragement.
  5. Lives with an eternal perspective (Philippians 3:13-15) – The reality of the spiritual and eternal drives her life. She purposefully strives to continual spiritual growth because she knows this life is temporary.
  6. Controls her tongue (James 3:2) – If a Christian has good control of her speech, you know she is on a path to maturity!
  7. Reflects God’s character to the world (Matthew 5:48) – God wants us to grow in spiritual maturity in order to reflect the character of Jesus to a watching world.

So how are you doing? What area do you struggle in the most? Why?

Want to be purposeful in your spiritual growth? You may find this post helpful: “5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals.”

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Say Yes to the Cupcake: Why We Need Food & Fun in Women’s Ministry

I am a women’s ministry leader and I have a confession to make: I love cupcakes. And ice breaker games. And door prizes.

Does that make me shallow?

I also crave transformational Bible study and deep spiritual conversations about the things of God. I love to discuss theology. I long to pray in intimate circles of Christian sisters about things of eternal value. I want to impact the world for Christ.

In recent years, there has been a movement in the Christian community to cut the “fluff” from women’s ministry. For instance, this open letter to Women’s Ministry by Sarah Bessey has been shared thousands of times and republished on other websites such as ChurchLeader.com. (See “Why We Don’t Need Women’s Ministry.“)

Even though the article was originally posted several years ago, every once in a while it still pops up on my newsfeed. And a friend from church emailed me the link, wondering what I thought about it. So I decided to think about it. Really think about it. Here’s my response in a nutshell:

Cupcakes and theology are NOT mutually exclusive. There is room – and need – for both in women’s ministry.

Serious Discipleship is Top Priority

Basically, I agree with the heart of Bessey’s article. Women always need deep, spiritual connection to other believers. We need encouragement to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives and to grow into Christlikeness. We need accountability and equipping. Solid biblical teaching and sound, godly leadership.

Yes, all women need these things. This should be the heart and soul of our women’s ministry. It is in fact, the church’s calling.

We Must Engage the Felt Need

But if we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that not all women recognize this need in their lives. If we want to reach all the women in the church – and the community – we must also minister to the felt need of cooking, friendship, and yes, maybe even crafting! We must connect with the women who aren’t ready to jump into the deep end of the spiritual pool. We must provide a way for them to get their feet wet.

A church’s women’s ministry can be  both deep and wide. Let’s provide in-depth Bible study. Let’s train teachers and mentor moms. Let’s help mission efforts in our community and around the world.

We Need Connection Points

But let’s also reach new women in the community and women in the church who don’t yet recognize their need for a deeper faith. For instance, my church has a yearly “Table Top.” You know, that dinner where women show off their table decorating skills and act as hostess to a table full of women. It’s fun, it’s festive, and yes, some think it’s frivolous.

But the guests hear a strong Gospel message and are given the opportunity to get involved in specific mission efforts. Women who won’t come to Bible study or a spiritual retreat accept their neighbor’s invitation to Table Top. And the women in our church who hang out on the fringe of things come. They meet and mingle, and move a little deeper into the spiritual water.

Jesus often paved the way to deeper things over a dinner party. And He bonded with the guys in a fishing boat. He fed the crowds and the twelve with both physical and spiritual food.

Food and fun can foster relationships. Few of us will pour our hearts out to strangers or ask some woman we don’t know to be an accountability partner. But give them an opportunity to bond over a cupcake and then they’ll reach out when a crisis hits.

There’s room for cupcakes and spiritual depth.

We can have the cupcake and eat it too.

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The 5 Most Challenging Bible Verses

challenging Bible verses

Some verses in the Bible are easier to swallow than others. Even though I wholeheartedly believe them all, there are some I honestly just don’t like very much. In fact, some Bible verses are too challenging.

Let me explain.

Some verses, like “He gives strength to the weary…” and “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine…” cause me to throw my arms open wide and yell “Bring it on, Lord!”

But others cause me to sigh and take a deep breath and think, “Really? Isn’t that kind of difficult?”

5 Bible Verses that Challenge Me

Below are 5 verses that I find really challenging to fully embrace and live out every day. Oh, there are others too – and I may have a slightly different top 5 tomorrow – but these will definitely stay in at least the top 10 for the indefinite future.

  1. Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I really like the last half of this verse about God supplying my needs, oh yes! But when we read the whole thing in the context of the passage, we see the primary topic is worry. Jesus said we spend too much time and energy worrying about our needs. We allow worry to keep us from pursuing Jesus and His Kingdom. The challenge: To turn off the worry and turn to Jesus. Or better yet, turn to Jesus to turn off the worry!
  2. James 1:2 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds...” James doesn’t waste any time with small talk in his letter. Essentially he says, “Dear Jewish believers, be full of joy when life punches you in the gut.” (My paraphrase of course.) Sounds unrealistic right? James says we can be joyful in spite of our circumstances because we know God plans to use them for our spiritual good and for His purposes. The challenge: To keep our eyes on the spiritual and eternal rather than the physical and temporary.
  3. Romans 12:2“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” God wants us to be like Jesus, not like the world around us. But truly, it’s like fighting a battle every day. Our culture constantly bombards us with values and behavior that is contrary to the character of Christ. The challenge: To strap on that spiritual armor, refuse to compromise, and yield ourselves to the Spirit’s transforming power. (Mandisa shares one battle story here.)
  4. John 15:12 – “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Okay, let’s be honest. Sometimes our fellow believers aren’t easy to love. Plus, did you notice that Jesus said we should love each other “as I have loved you.” Well, Jesus gave His life for us, so this is really extreme. He wants us to be willing to die for each other. To put others’ needs ahead of our own. To honor others over ourselves. The challenge: To take off pride and selfishness and put on humility and selflessness in order to genuinely love others.
  5. Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Wait a minute. My life isn’t my life? Nope. Jesus purchased my life on the cross and it’s His to do with as He sees fit. But if I can remember this, the previous 4 challenging verses suddenly get a lot easy to live out. The challenge: To consciously choose every minute of every day to give my life to Jesus.

Jesus’ way may seem challenging. But the reality is, He only wants what’s best for us. His way is abundant and satisfying and joyful. His way is life.

Please feel free to disagree with my list. Or add to it! What Bible verses do you find the most challenging and why?

Other posts you may find helpful:

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5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals for 2018

This time of year, many of us reflect on the condition of our lives. We may evaluate the health of our bodies, our relationships, or our work situation. We may even “resolve” to change things. But if we’re really serious about improvement, we will set some goals and establish a plan to move forward. But have you ever considered doing the same with your spiritual health? The New Year is the perfect time to do some “spiritual evaluation” and set some goals for spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth goals

We can’t cause our spiritual growth. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). But God does expect our obedient and active cooperation (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). One way we can purposefully “train ourselves to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7-8) is through spiritual evaluation and goal setting.

This post includes both a “Discipleship Evaluation” tool and a “Spiritual Goals Worksheet” for you to do just that. But keep in mind, resolutions and goals are often hard to keep. Statistics show that, at best, only 46% of New Year’s resolutions are still kept six months into the year. People lose their resolve quickly because they set unattainable goals.

First, use this free Discipleship Evaluation form to honestly evaluate your current spiritual condition. This tool covers 17 different key discipleship areas. Your weakest areas can be great growth areas in 2017.

Next, set spiritual growth goals using the five tips below. Planning is not “unspiritual.” Living a life that glorifies God will not happen by accident. This free “Spiritual Goals Worksheet” walks you through specific areas of discipleship such as time with God, ministry, service, and Christian education.

Most importantly, ask God to guide you as you evaluate your spiritual health and set goals for growth. He will bring the spiritual transformation as you strive to live a live that pleases Him.

5 Tips for Setting Goals for Spiritual Growth

The following five tips will help us set personal discipleship goals that will keep us growing through the year:

  1. Concentrate your efforts. Set just one, two, or three goals at a time. Don’t spread yourself too thin. When you experience success then add another goal.
  2. Be realistic. Set attainable goals. If you don’t read your Bible regularly now, don’t set a goal to read the entire Bible in three months. Instead commit to read it 3 to 5 times per week.
  3. Think concretely. Set goals so progress can be measured. For instance, this goal is too ambiguous: I’m going to spend more time with God. Instead be concrete: I will read one Bible chapter and pray for 10 minutes five times a week.
  4. Include strategies. Develop strategies designed to move you toward your goals. If one goal is to memorize Scripture, determine how you will do that. What verses you will memorize? How often you will tackle a new one? What memorization techniques you will use?
  5. Create manageable steps. Break your overall goal into a series of smaller goals that are doable and will foster success.

How do you feel about setting spiritual goals? Have you ever set spiritual goals in the past?

This last group of resources focuses on a specific area of discipleship like quiet time, prayer, Bible reading, or Scripture Memory.

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Pumpkin Bread, Peanut Brittle, and Lies

Thanksgiving seemed to come early this year. I bought fresh cranberries to make my traditional cranberry pumpkin bread, but I didn’t get to it before Thanksgiving. So, I made it yesterday. The Libby’s recipe is below!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

I guess I call it “my” bread because I’ve been making it for years. But in all honesty, I took it off the back of a can of Libby’s pumpkin more than two decades ago. It’s probably safe to call it “mine.” But, I really try not to claim recipes unless I created them. Particularly since the peanut brittle incident.

I make peanut brittle every Christmas. I got the recipe about twenty years ago from a dear friend, Kelly, when our family lived in Wyoming. Then we moved to Canada and Kelly moved to Houston. Over time and among new friends the recipe became “mine.” Everyone loved it and I often gave it as gifts to friends at Christmas.

Years later, when we moved from Canada to Houston, Kelly and I picked up our friendship. Well, when two Canadian friends came to visit me in my new home Kelly joined us for an evening out. Over dinner we began to talk about food. One of my Canadian friends, Glennie, asked Kelly if she had ever had “Kathy’s famous peanut brittle.” Before I could even speak Kelly quietly said, “I believe that would be my peanut brittle.”

I never claimed that the recipe was mine. I just never gave the credit to Kelly. I liked the praises I received when I made the candy. So even though I didn’t blatantly and intentionally lie, I never corrected the assumption. Then came that fateful day when my omission caught up with me.

I know this particular situation is silly and pretty harmless. But it did remind me that we always reap what we sow. All sin has consequences. Sometimes it just may take a little while to catch up with us.

Here’s Libby’s recipe for the Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread. Enjoy it!

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup Libby’s Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin; mix well. Combine flour, pie spice, soda, and salt in another large bowl; make well in the center of the dry mixture. Pour pumpkin mixture into well; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in cranberries. Spoon batter into two greased and floured 8 x 3 ¾ x 2 ½ inch aluminum loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

What’s your favorite fall or Christmas recipe?

 

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4 Ways to Foster a Thirst for God

Do we really thirst for God? If we had to measure our desire for God, how would we rank it? Let’s try. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being hardly at all and 10 meaning you constantly desire to be in God’s presence, what number would you give yourself?

By the way, this is a personal question. Just think your answer to yourself. I simply want us to consider our level of spiritual hunger. Since we were made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16), we are at our most fulfilled and joyful when we are close to Him.

Thirst for God

In the 63rd Psalm, David the shepherd king expressed his desire for God:

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

If I’m being honest, I can’t claim these words as my own every day. The things of life claim my attention and even sometimes my priorities. But, thankfully, I’m growing and they describe my desire for God more than they used to.

4 Ways to Foster a Thirst for God

In Psalm 63:2-8, David gives some insight on how we can foster a growing desire for God. Though I’m sure there are more, I spotted 4 specific ways.

  1. Worship with God’s People – David experienced the presence of God in His house among the people of God. And it whet his appetite. Let us not neglect gathering with other Christians to worship.
  2. Practice Praise – I know some days we don’t feel like praising God. For instance, those days when everything and more seems to be going wrong. And those days when we struggle with grief or pain or loss. But every day, we can remember God’s steadfast love. And we can praise Him.
  3. Meditate on God’s Past Provision – Sometimes our current circumstances are so difficult and heavy we can think of nothing else. We wonder if and when God will come to our aid. Reflecting on times in the past where God has intervened, helped, strengthened, or comforted will give us reason to draw close to Him.
  4. Go to Him First, Always – I don’t know about you, but sometimes when trials hit God may be my second or third or last person I run to. Probably because I’m too focused on the physical instead of the spiritual. God longs for us to go to Him first for strength, help, provision, comfort, and support. He want to help us. He is just waiting.

As we purposefully and consistently practice these things, we will experience God’s presence and provision. And as we do, our desire and longing for Him will grow. Once we taste the goodness of God we will not be able to get enough.

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A Bible Reading Plan for the Rest of 2017

Get ready to be shocked – there are only 10 full weeks left in 2017! So, how have you done with your 2017 resolutions? Maybe you resolved to regularly read God’s Word this year, but life got in the way. It’s not too late to start over. To begin again. And I’ve got the perfect Bible reading plan for you.

This Bible Reading Plan is Rich and Doable

I’ve developed a 10-week Bible reading plan highlighting the life and writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s ministry and letters dominate the New Testament. Much of our doctrine of faith came from God through Paul’s pen. The “Roman Road,” the lavishness of God’s grace in Ephesians, God’s strength for us in trials, and the role of the church.

This 10-week reading plan chronologically melds Paul’s life and ministry with his letters. The plan includes 5 days of reading per week, each roughly about 30-40 verses. The two “off” days give you plenty of time to catch up when needed, making this a worthwhile, but doable plan.

Bible reading plan

Let’s Read the Bible Together

I would love to help you make and keep a commitment to get into God’s Word. So… I will read along with you! I have created a closed group connect to my Facebook page so we can keep all our discussion in one defined place. If you begin the plan on Monday, October 23rd, you will finish the plan Friday, December 29th. It’s always a good time to make a commitment to get into God’s Word.

2017 Finish Strong

Don’t wait until January 2018 to recommit to spending time regularly in God’s Word. Start now and finish the year strong! You’ll have a spiritual running start on 2018! Download and print the Bible Reading Plan here.

Will you join me? Let me know in the comments. Then go to the Facebook event page and “join!”

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