Monday, January 31, 2011

Holding Fast and Pressing On while Accurately Handling the Word of Truth

     II Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."  I love that verse and yet as a teacher I tremble at that verse. In this verse is an implied directive that those who handle God's word are to do it accurately.  This only comes by being diligent.  My desire in my teaching is to point everyone I encounter to Christ.  I feel a great responsibility to accurately handle God's Word which requires pressing on in my diligence toward God's word. 
    I think about how indignant we can get when others misquote or take we have said out of context.  I know I personally get very frustrated when my children know what I mean but can find the loopholes in how I have said it.  God in His infinite wisdom had His thoughts written down inspired by the Holy Spirit and then He leaves it there.  There is no arguing, finding loopholes or debate with God.  It is our responsibility to accurately look into God's word using proper and complete observation of any text including the history of those who wrote it and to whom it was written. We are to view the entire context of God's word and the passage we are reading to get an accurate interpretation.  This means we must get to know God so we can understand His heart.  God is multifaceted and beyond our comprehension but when we humble ourselves and seek His heart He will revel Himself to us.  How frustrated He must get when we take His words and twist them to make them say what is easier for us. We are a people who wants a convenient religion not and intimate relationship with the Creator of this world.   I am grateful for His grace. 
     I pray God continues to work in my life to keep me humble so I always approach God's word with reverence.  I know " whom much is given, much is required."  God had given me a unique gift in the way I understand His word and can apply it to life today.  I also have a great responsibility to approach His word without my own agenda, being accurate and complete in my study and making certain I stay teachable. 
    As I begin a new study tomorrow, at a new church, with new students, please pray that God's grace will flood me as I share with them my passion for God's word.  Pray I will remain diligent and that I will be accurate in handling what God has entrusted to me.  Pray I will Hold Fast to His word and Press On in diligence as I study and prepare for this new adventure. Thank you all so much.
Holding Fast and Pressing On,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Holding Fast and Pressing On with an Open Hand

Currently on Sunday mornings Pastor Bill  Logan is preaching through the Bible in a year in chronological order.  We have chosen as a family to attempt to do the same.  This Sunday we reached the story of Abraham and Isaac.  It is a story that is very familiar since I have heard it, studied it and read it more times than I can count during my 36 years in the church and yet is one that I never tire of hearing.  God's absolute provision and His knowledge of how to get to the heart of Abraham captivates me.  I have heard and applied over and over the concept of holding the gifts God has given me loosely.  I went through realizing that material possessions must be held with an open hand as well as relationships and people and dreams for the future.  This time God drilled into my heart and exposed something I was not holding with an open hand, partly because I had no idea it was even there...that is my view of who I am, my identity. 

I have gotten the concept that God is a jealous God and nothing or  no one can take His place in our life or He is compelled to remove it for our benefit.  I never realized my identity as a redeemed child of God makes my primary identity in Christ a thing I can replace.  Any other identity that gets in the way of or takes over my identity in Christ is not God's desire for me.  God chose me and He placed a calling on my life (Col 3:12).  I am to fully immerse myself in Christ and become a partaker of Him (Heb 3:14).

Since this calling has been placed on my life I must sacrifice on the alter any concept of myself that I may have.  I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a good friend.  I am a college graduate, I am homeschooler, I am a scrapbooker, I am a Bible teacher, but first and foremost I am Christ's.  If that is not the identity I place as my primary identity then God will lovingly show me where I need to change.

In the last year God has rearranged many things in my life to help me see that my identity needs to be Christ first and always.  I must be willing to be stripped of any other identity other than Christ and Him alone.  This is difficult but very rewarding because I know who I am even when everything I thought or knew to be true changes.  No matter where I live or who comes and goes in my life or what any other person believes to be true of me, I KNOW who I am.  I am holding fast and pressing on with my identity in Christ and all the other things that define me held loosely. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Holding Fast and Pressing On Without Results

     It is the beginning of a new year and the round of New Year's resolutions has begun. We are a results driven culture and I am no different.  I want to use my time to achieve, to see things get done, to produce results.  When I start something I know how I want it to end.  I am realizing that much of the time the things we do are less about the result and more about the process.  I am not fond of the process, I want to skip to the results.  The older I get the more I see the process as the goal in many instances.  The end result is just the "carrot" to get us to change. 
     In my physical life this is so very true when it comes to my weight.  I have been working for over 2 years to achieve weight loss.  I have not achieved much.  I do weigh less than I did 2 years ago but I not my "satisfactory" weight let alone my "ideal" weight.  I have worked very hard the last 6 months and the scale says I have achieved a mere 15 pounds on a good day.  I am confronted daily with what I see as my failure.  So when confronted with it, what is my response?  I choose to continue on, yes, I hold fast and press on.  I continue to eat right, continue to take my vitamins, continue to research and read new information, continue to go to the gym and continue to listen to those who know more than I.   I continue on even though I am not experiencing the result I desire.  I then evaluate the process, what is happening as I move toward my goal?  I am noticing changes in how I feel, noticing my clothes fit better, and most of all I am noticing the pain I was living with diminish.  The result is not what I want but the effects of the movement toward the goal are in themselves very rewarding.
     The next question I asked as looked back over the last 6 months is, "Am I doing the same spiritually?"  I have the goal to be more like Christ.  I have been working to achieve this result for 36 years and I am still not there.  So again I am confronted with failure, at times it is more glaring than others, what is my response?  I choose to continue on, again I hold fast and press on.  I continue to study my  Bible, I continue to pray, I continue to chose right behavior and I continue to listen to those who know more than I.  It is a challenge as I evaluate my progress in reaching my goal.  It is so unattainable in my mind that I must remember that I am called to be a follower, to continue my pursuit.  I can't look forward or I become discouraged at how far I have to go. I must look back at where I was and where I am now. I must evaluate my personal progress.  I can't look around at others because they did not begin at the same place I did .  If I see someone who is doing better than I am and closer to the goal I can become discouraged; if I see someone doing worse than I, then I can become puffed up and quit striving. The only standard by which I can measure is that of my own progression. 
   My encouragement to myself and to each of you is to hold fast and press on.  It is not the result that matters at this time but the process and the benefits we gain as we continue on without results.  God will reward those who endure and hold fast not always those who achieve.  I thank God everyday for His grace in this.

May God bless each of you this new year.
Holding Fast and Pressing On,