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God Uses Our Ordinary Days

God Uses Our Ordinary DaysOne day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.
Luke 1:8-9 (NLT)

I thrive on routine and structure. So September always means leaving the free form summer schedule and settling into the rhythm of fall classes, meetings, and football. Even though many aspects about 2020 differ, much of the Sept-to-June schedule persists. I’m establishing a steady everyday routine.

God uses us in our everyday routines.

Today’s focus verse is an ordinary, everyday verse. Zechariah has been following this routine his whole life, destined for priesthood from birth. Ever since rising to the priesthood Zechariah has left his family twice a year for a week in order to serve at the Temple. This pious old priest faithfully honors the routine with pleasure. And this day seems to be a typical one devoted to serving God and the community.

On this routine day, God chose Zechariah.

This ordinary day became extraordinary when Zechariah was chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to light incense in the sanctuary. Thousands of priests faithfully performed their duties hoping to be the one chosen. God knew Zechariah’s steady faithfulness to his duties and that he’d be at the Temple on this precise day.

God had been waiting to use Zechariah in His plan.

The ordinary-turned-extraordinary day became the highlight of Zechariah’s life. Inside the sanctuary God revealed His plan for Zechariah’s son, the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. God chose Zechariah to raise and train John the Baptist.

Do your days feel routine and ordinary? Remain steady and serve Him faithfully. God sees. He might actually rely on your everyday routine to use you unexpectedly.

Many ordinary people have been used by God unexpectedly:
Anna was also in the right place at the right time for God to use her.
And God sometimes redefines the everyday, ordinary life.

#SeedsofScripture #chosenbyGod #Godseesyou #dailyroutines #dailyschedule #ordinarydays #serveothers

Take My Life, Lord

christ revealed through spiritYou will be able to understanding my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
Ephesians 3:4-5 (NIV)

I left the meeting supercharged, floating on air, adrenaline surging. The cartoon light bulb over her head was almost visible as it lit up with the connection. Ah-ha! Everyone participating felt the energy. God had revealed Himself.  

My Bible study friend had discovered the meaning of God’s perfect Lamb, sacrificed so she could live. It was all God’s work but what a privilege to lead the discussion that led to revelation! Right then and there I wanted more, more of those moments, more light bulbs flashing above heads.

God had used me and I loved being used.

My story is probably very similar to Frances Havergal’s in the late 1800’s. She lay sleepless all night after leading a family to Jesus, poetic couplets forming in her mind, each line a prayer to God:

Take my life and let it be consecrated to Thee
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing always, only for my King
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold, not a might would I withhold
Take my intellect and use every power as You choose

Here am I, all of me, take my life, it’s all for Thee

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love, my Lord I pour at Your feet, it’s treasure store
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee

May this be my prayer: Here am I, all of me, take my life, it’s all for Thee.

#SeedsofScripture #hymn #takemylife #servantofgod #allforGod #jesussaves #revealedbyGod

Is Scripture Inspired or Inspiring?

scripture is inspiredAll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

How did a committee of men select the religion-making, life-shaping New Testament that guides all Christians? What determined inclusion or omission? Was their ruling final for all time? What about other writings that seem relevant?

Does the Bible comprise all that God intended, nothing more and nothing less?

From one perspective, many voices helped decide which writings became Holy Scripture.  Certainly a council gathered to finalize the table of contents (397 AD) but most of the list had been well known across the Christian world for two centuries. Only books and letters that were circulating widely throughout the entire church, already being used authoritatively in worship, and considered written by apostles or close associates were included. Regionally accepted writings that had not received acceptance by a wide range of believing communities were omitted.

From another perspective, one Voice shaped our Scripture: the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gave believing communities wisdom and discernment, guiding them to embrace, memorize, copy, teach, and spread certain writings while remaining cool to others. A set of books organically emerged as authoritative, affirmed the foundational Christian truths, and became our New Testament.

The writings contained in the New Testament are exactly as God desired.

Before I learned about this natural divine process, I wondered how a council of humans was inspired to choose from among the oodles of ancient writings. I wanted to know their set of criteria. I wondered about the Gnostic gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi that might have been included but contradict Christian teachings.

It turns out men didn’t select writings to include but rather recognized those with authority given by divine inspiration.

I think we all agree that Scripture is inspiring, but Christianity claims more. The Bible describes itself as God-breathed, containing truths that equip us for life.

Let me ask you: Is the Bible inspired or merely inspiring?

Oh how I love writing about the Bible! I’ve written about the one story it tells that actually occurred and fulfilled prophesies written 700 years earlier.

#SeedsofScripture #Godbreathed #inspiredbyGod #biblefacts

Lord, Give Me Eyes to See

eyes to see ears to hearYou will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
Matthew 13:14-15 (NIV)

My eyes are opening to the Black American experience. It’s not that I’ve ignored news about injustices. I heard and saw, but didn’t understand or perceive. I still see unclearly, but I’m listening.

The first disciples were in a similar position, just beginning to understand the meaning behind Jesus’ parables. Why did Jesus intentionally tell parables so some would perceive the message and others wouldn’t? Why not talk straight with an easy to grasp application?

Because Jesus’ message upset the status quo and many weren’t ready to hear it.

Those who were comfortable weren’t receptive; their hearts were callous. The religious hierarchy liked their status and ignored, even perpetuated, suffering around them. Injustice was part of life under Roman oppression. The temple leaders had positions of power and didn’t welcome critique or correction. Straight talk from Jesus wouldn’t change anything.

Only those with an open heart receptive to change could understand.

With just a little sincere curiosity or conviction, the parable started to have meaning. And the more someone turned toward Jesus, the clearer the message. But His words remained a confusing puzzle for those who didn’t respond. Jesus explains this increasing understanding:

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
Matt 13:12-13

I wonder:

What Bible teachings do I overlook because I’m comfortable with the status quo?
What do I fail to understand by presuming I already understand?
Do I have selective hearing when listening to the Holy Spirit?
Do these same questions apply to my ignorance regarding the lives of Black Americans?

#SeedsofScripture #eyestosee #Jesuswords #wordsofJesus #openmyeyes #blackexperience

Jesus’ Command Is This: Love Each Other

Love One Another as I have loved youIf you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:10-13 (NIV)

These are Jesus’ words, red letter words in my Bible.

Love each other as I have loved you.

They’re not just words. Jesus, God in the flesh, love personified issues this command. Check the scripture again. Jesus commands it.

How did Jesus love?

The scene is the Last Supper after Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. He washed the feet of Judas who held the coins of betrayal in his pouch. He washed the feet of Peter who would swear he’d never known Jesus. He would soon endure crucifixion so that we might have life.

The disciples had already observed how Jesus loved the poor, hurting, and marginalized. He touched Gentiles, Greeks, and Samaritans as well as His own ‘kind’. He looked into the eyes of men, women, and children. He loved those who tortured Him.

With love for every person, Jesus set aside the power and glory of heaven to become a poor, homeless, rejected, despised rabbi.

Jesus loved the Father through obedience and invites us into this loving Father-Son relationship saying “remain in my love”.  Love me and love the Father by obeying the commandments.

And what is the command? Lay down your power, your ego, your agenda, and your comfort for others who are different, who are hurting, and who might even hate you.

Love others as Jesus loves you.

Why does Jesus command it? Joy. Complete joy. Jesus’ joy in you. Imagine that!

When have you discovered joy through difficult or sacrificial love?

#SeedsofScripture #nogreaterlove #imageofGod #lovelikeJesus #redletterwords #obeyGod

It Starts with Me – I Am Racist

reflection of GodOut of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalm 130:1-2 (NIV)

I’ve struggled to comprehend the events of the last 2 weeks. I’ve been disgusted, distraught, and grieving for black people and our country.

I don’t just want to talk about the problem, I want change. But can I do anything that really makes a difference in a centuries old system?

Before Amy Cooper or George Floyd, I read 3 books about race relations. I believe God was opening my eyes to the black experience. As a white mother I taught my children to look for a policeman if they needed help, never imagining a black mother’s rules:

Keep your hands visible at all times.
Don’t speak unless you are spoken to.
Don’t make any sudden moves.
Do everything you’re told to do.  (from The Hate U Give)

Can I do anything that makes a difference?

I can start with me. I can identify my own blindness, my participation in the problem, my racism.

Am I racist? Yes, I am.

Have I seen a black person walking in my neighborhood and thought “What is he doing here?” Yes, I have.

Did I attend private school because the city planned to bus all 6th graders to a building on the edge of what we called ‘Colored Town’? Yes. My white privilege allowed me to avoid a mixed-race school.

Have I discounted the idea that a black person’s life is more difficult than mine? Yes, I have.

Why do I view a black/white interracial marriage differently than my own Asian/white one?

How many black friends do I have with whom I can discuss this? One.

The change starts when I recognize my deeply ingrained subconscious thoughts that surface as quickly as when I hop on a bike and remember how to ride.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)

In The Color of Water, a young James McBride observed portraits of a white Jesus in his church and asked his mother “What color is God?” She wisely responded “God is the color of water.” What an insightful answer! God has no color. His color changes depending on the light. But further reflection yielded deeper meaning.

The color of God is the color of the face reflected in the water. Every human being is made in the image of God. Every single one of us reflects the color of God.

I’ve been moved by the daily prayers of my friend Lori Roeleveld:

Reconciliation and unity are beautiful concepts but, as Jesus demonstrated on the cross, they only come through sacrifice. Give us ears to listen to those who rage. Make us willing to work and to sacrifice our privilege, our time, our misconceptions, and our comfort to engage in the ministry of reconciliation to which we are called. We, all of us, have strayed from Your intended purpose for us. – Lori Roeleveld

Will you examine yourself with regard to racial bias?

Jesus  initiates a  different kind of world, one in which every person has value, and He instructs the church to be the change agent.

#SeedsofScripture #BeyondCovid19 #ICantBreathe #IAmRacist #Ihateracism #imageofGod

Groundhog Day is Biblical

EcclesiastesWhat do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises… All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again… What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:3-5,7,9 (NIV)

You think it’s Groundhog Day? Then let me tell you, it’s been Groundhog Day since 900 BC.

Our lives felt pretty stable until a tiny virus disrupted the world. It toppled our carefully constructed lives and skewed every detail.

We feel helpless and vulnerable. We’re not in control like we thought. It was an illusion. People are dying. Many are without work. The world is a dangerous and unpredictable place we can’t control.

Tim Mackie of the Bible Project writes:

While this stripping away of control is a painful experience, according to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, it’s one of the best worst things that can happen to us. One of the first steps toward biblical wisdom is a posture of total surrender before God. And nothing helps us get there quicker than losing control of our lives.

When we feel in control of life and things are running smoothly, we don’t think we need God. We forget where we came from, who gave us these good gifts and to whom we belong.

Have we forgotten who gave us all that we have?
Do we think our lives are a result of our own efforts?
Did we need to be shaken from out well-balanced lives?
Are we now in a better position to accept God’s instructions and receive wisdom?

Ecclesiastes advises us to accept our small place in God’s grand scheme. Enjoy the present, the gifts of delicious food, nature’s beauty, and close friends. Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. It’s always Groundhog Day.

I’ve also written about how Life is Fragile and how We Need God, even when we don’t realize it.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #safeathome #nothingnewunderthesun #Godisincontrol #ecclesiastes #groundhogday

The Golden Rule for Reopening after COVID-19

Golden Rule of LoveThe Golden Rule: Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.
Matt 7:12 (NLT)

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we were “all in this together”, sacrificing personal freedoms and conveniences in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. We understood the need to deny ourselves for the sake of others. We were beautifully selfless.

Together we denied ourselves, took up our crosses, and practiced self-giving love (Mark 8:34).

Our tentative steps forward are less united. Some of us remain fearful and feel safer at home, perhaps because we are, or are living with, someone at risk. Some are comfortable moving toward ‘normal’, confident in masks and social distancing. Others resist any restriction. Opinions differ. Comfort levels differ.

Love means respecting and even honoring our differences.

Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification Paul instructs the Romans, abstain from a behavior if it will offend the person you’re with (Romans 14:19). In other words, honor the other person even if you disagree, even if you know better. For the Romans it meant not eating meat. In our present situation it means wear a mask when it makes the person you’re with more comfortable. Guard their safety. Honor their wishes even if you disagree.

The Golden Rule asks us to step into another’s shoes and exhibit the kind of love we’d want to receive. God’s guidance for reopening after COVID is clearly rooted in love.

Bear with one another… and above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:13-14 (NRSV)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35 (NRSV)

Are you curious about why Christians claim that self-denial is the way to true life? Read about Losing One Life to Gain a Better One or Giving Control to Jesus.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #knowusbyourlove #safeathome #GoldenRule #allinthistogether #dountoothers

Have We Learned to Obey During Covid-19?

Obey Covid-19 rulesBut anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
Matthew 7:26 (NLT)

My glasses fog with every breath. I rush to hold the mask to my face when the elastic pops off my ear so as not to offend. It’s a nuisance.

It’s a nuisance, but masks protect everyone. We shelter at home. We work at home. No church. No school. No gym. No Starbucks. We bundle errands together and leave the house only when necessary. It’s restricting but we comply.

We miss friends and hugs and end-of-year celebrations and restaurants. But we’ve learned to obey. Obedience isn’t a popular word. None of us likes to be told what to do, but this pandemic has taught us to accept authority and obey. The rules are inconvenient, but we know they’re in our best interest.

God’s rules are in our best interest too. They’re instructions for becoming fully human, enduring trials, experiencing joy, and living in community. Jesus says we’re foolish if we know His commands yet don’t obey and He asks us to express our love for Him through obedience. But He lets us to choose.

If you love me, obey my commandments.
John 14:15 (NLT)

Could we transfer the obedience we’ve learned from the pandemic into obedience to God? Will we accept His authority and see that His intentions are good? Jesus wants us to obey willingly. Love can’t be coerced or forced. He doesn’t want begrudging or guilty obedience.

How will you answer?

  • Do you believe God is good and wants the best for us?
  • Have you studied Jesus’ teachings?
  • Which of His commands do you obey?
  • Why do you disobey others?
  • Will you willingly express your love for Jesus by obeying?

There is much to explore with regard to obedience, like whether the Bible is true, how God rewards a man who recognizes his disobedience, and that God knows we can’t obey without His help.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #obedience #safeathome #Godisgood #obeyGod

Are You Feeling Stuck Inside?

stuck at homeOn that very day Noah and his sons, …together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark …Then the Lord shut him in. For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.
Genesis 7:13,16-17 (NIV)

You’ve heard the flood story. It rained for 40 days and nights while Noah, his family and lots of animals are stuck (I mean safe) on the ark. The Arky, Arky song tells the story. Go ahead, listen. It’ll bring a smile.

Perhaps you’re feeling like Noah after being stuck inside your home for 40 days. Noah had no idea what was ahead. God gave Noah a vague promise: “I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark.” (Gen 6:18)

In other words, God said “Trust me.”

We know how the story ends: Noah leaves the ark, plants a productive vineyard, and repopulates the world. But Noah couldn’t see the future beyond his curved wooden walls. When will this rain stop? How long until the water recedes? What will the world be like? Amid the uncertainty, the family quarrels, and the animal chaos, Noah could only rely on God’s promise.

Can you relate? We’re in the same boat facing an uncertain end to COVID-19 and an undefined world.

The good news is that Noah disembarks, albeit after a long process. Unfortunately, the rain was only the beginning. The ark remained afloat for 150 days before landing on a mountain (Gen 8:3-4). About 3 months later Noah saw the mountain tops and opened the ark’s window (8:6). Just smell that fresh air!

Hopeful, Noah tested the waters with a raven, then a dove – two failed attempts. Can you feel his disappointment when the exhausted dove returned? How much longer? How many tests? Do you feel like Noah when state officials prolong stay-at-home orders and cancel school for the year?

A week later, Noah’s dove discovered an olive leaf (8:11). Imagine the relief and hope! The end is in sight! Yet another, more hopeful, week and Noah’s dove didn’t return. It’s over!

In all, Noah was safe inside the ark for a year and his first action was to build an altar and praise God (8:20).

We don’t know how long we’ll stay safely inside our homes.
We do know it will end.
What will you do first?

Noah has been a frequent topic on Seeds of Scripture. Click these links to know how to have Faith like Noah or about the flood’s grim reality that God drowned people.

#SeedsofScripture #Covid19 #praiseGod #thistooshallpass #Noahsark #safeathome

Spend a few minutes to plant a quick Seed. Or stay longer and plant a whole garden.

Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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