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A Good Imitation

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.
Ephesians 5:1(NLT)

I’ve been told that I’m becoming like my mother. As a teenager, this was an offensive statement, but now I consider it a compliment.

As is bound to happen in a church community, I often teach my friends’ children and find it fun to see a parent mirrored in their student. While genetics determines their physical likeness, I’m amused by their facial expressions, hand movements, ideas and their choice of words. Without realizing it, or wanting to, children imitate their parents.

Children adopt characteristics over time by observing behavior.

This is the kind of imitation mentioned in today’s verse from Ephesians. Imitate God as a child imitates a dear parent. To do this requires spending lots of time with Him – living our lives in His presence.

We need to read scripture and observe His creation, which both reveal the Father’s character. We need to study Jesus’ life since He was God in human form. We need to spend time in prayer listening to His promptings.

Just as young children intentionally copy their parents, wanting to shave or cook, initially we must work at imitating our Father. However, as time goes on, these characteristics will become part of us and our actions, desires, and words will mirror His.

By reading Seeds of Scripture, you’re already learning about God’s character and expectations. Keep reading this devotion (or any other) regularly and stay in His presence all day by contemplating His Words.

Learning to imitate God means spending a lot of time in His presence. (tweet this)

What do you know about God?
How can you imitate that?

#SeedsOfScripture #InHisPresence #imitation
This post first appeared on Seeds of Scripture on 9-22-15.

Only the Best for Our Babies

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
1 Peter 2:2-3 (NLT)

Think about how we feed an infant. Our goal is to provide the healthiest nutrition to help their body and brain develop to its full potential while also protecting them from harmful chemicals and unhealthy foods. The result is a nutritionally healthy child with a preference for wholesome food.

Today’s scripture compares feeding a newborn to feeding a new or developing believer.

We are usually old enough to provide our own ‘nutrition’ when we decide to follow Jesus, so what does our developing faith need to grow? Do we have strong Christian role models who care deeply for our development? Do we have a regular schedule for feeding our mind and soul? Do we select the highest quality “pure spiritual milk”?

Also, do we protect ourselves from harmful influences that prevent us from growing into our best possible selves? Is anything that we consume stunting our growth?

Position yourself for spiritual growth with strong spiritual relationships and solid Christian teaching.

Just food for thought…

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #spiritualgrowth #babyfood

A Process of Growth

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence (goodness), and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)

This list makes my head spin. I gloss over the words, not absorbing their meaning. So let’s skip the list for now and focus on the statements on either side of it – the instruction and the goal.

In view of all this, respond to God’s promises so that your [full acquaintance with] Jesus will become productive and useful.

‘In view of all this’ summarizes verses 3-4: God has provided everything we need to resist the world and participate in God’s divine nature.

Here’s my paraphrase:
• Believe that God has provided everything we need to live out our salvation through Jesus.
• In faith, begin practicing the goodness (moral behavior) that Jesus modeled while also learning more about God (adding knowledge).
• Exhibit self-control in transforming old thought patterns and behaviors to align with this new knowledge of God’s character.
• Even if these challenging adjustments don’t yield immediate benefits, be patient and persist in godly behavior.
• Increase godly, brotherly love to be love that includes everyone like Jesus did.
• As you grow through the process, your increased awareness of God and deepening relationship with Him positions you to be truly useful and productive to spread His Kingdom.

A deepening relationship with Jesus positions us to spread His Kingdom. (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture #Godprovides #relationshipwithGod #transformation

Conform or Transform?

Do not conform any longer 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.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)

How do we know God’s will for our lives? Three key words jump out from this scripture: conform, transform, and able.

Conforming most often relates to external appearances – looking and acting like others in order to fit in. The scripture says stop trying to fit in to this world because we belong to another kind of world – God’s kingdom.

Transformation involves a fundamental change in our thought patterns which leads to character change. Shifting our thoughts away from the world’s set of standards and toward God’s perspective for living well initiates the ongoing process of transformation.

The world promotes personal happiness through popularity, possessions, experiences and body shape. God says real joy comes from sharing our material wealth and using our time to serve others. Jesus says work hard but don’t strive for status or recognition. He also says that while material wealth provides temporary pleasure, acts of service bring long lasting reward.

We are better able to know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will when we approach life with His perspective.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

In what ways are you conforming to the world?
How can you adjust your mindset to better align with God’s way of life?
Is there a cost to shifting your value system?
Can you foresee the benefit of living in God’s will?

#SeedsofScripture #Godswill #renewthemind #transformation

Do Unto Others – Jesus’ Final 24 Hours

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.
Luke 6:27-28,31,35 (NLT)

Do you see the ‘Golden Rule’ tucked in the middle of this challenging scripture about loving our enemies? My ‘be nice to others’ rule falls far short.

Did you notice the part that says ‘so that people will treat you the same in return’? It’s missing because you’ll probably be laughed at for showing compassion toward your persecutor and forgiving the unthinkable. Your only reward is from God. The ‘do unto others’ attitude will be difficult and unpopular. Matthew 7:12-14 describes the Golden Rule as the very narrow, difficult gateway to life – true life, flourishing life, the life God desires for us.

Let’s observe the Golden Rule in Jesus’ final 24 hours. Betrayed by one of his own, deserted by his closest friends, convicted unjustly, mocked by both Temple and Roman soldiers, spit on, stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)” He did not retaliate with threats or curses, but forgave their participation in his crucifixion.

‘Do unto others’ is the narrow, difficult gateway to true life that includes forgiving and showing kindness to our worst enemy. (tweet this)

How might you show kindness to someone who has hurt you?

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #loveyourenemy #forgiveness

Renovations & New Life

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

My husband was recently baptized – the full immersion experience. With powerful symbolism, the believer dies to his old self through submersion and rises from water into a new life in Christ. His baptism prompted thoughts about this new life.

In Ephesians, Paul encourages us to embrace our new life in Christ by changing our attitudes about ourselves, ‘to be made new’ by seeing ourselves as God sees us – beloved, freed and forgiven by Jesus, never separated from God, filled with His spirit and power and strength, and many other promises. These attitudes don’t appear instantaneously as one rises from the baptismal water. Viewing ourselves this way can be a process.

The phrase ‘to be made new’ literally means to renovate. Have you ever renovated a room in your home? If so, you know it’s a process. You also know that demolition comes first and often spreads its mess to adjacent spaces. Slowly the desired result emerges.

Likewise, renovating the attitudes we have about ourselves requires some demolition. We need to remove the lies that we’re unlovable or unforgivable or not good enough. The ‘new self, created to be like God’ cannot emerge amid these attitudes.
Put off your old self & be made new. See yourself as God sees you. (tweet this)
What negative thought do you have about yourself?
Does it belong to the ‘old self’ that should be left behind?
Would God call it a lie and replace it with a promise?

#SeedsofScripture #anewcreation #bemadenew #renovation

Exciting news! I’ve been renovating my website and a new space will emerge soon.

They Warned Me It Would Happen

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)

They warned me.

They said it would happen.

They said I would get so deep in studying the Bible that I would lose my connection with God.

They were right.

You may assume that a seminary student, confirmation teacher, and Bible study leader has a direct line to God. That’s not true.

You may have noticed that I haven’t dropped a Seed since September. That is true, because my blog thoughts often bloom during my devotions and I’ve allowed my studies to consume that time.

But… I signed up for an Advent devotional because God has been whispering to me – calling me to ‘chair time’. The devotional email reminds me to spend time with God, especially because this season is so important yet so busy. I’m hoping the devotions will help me resist the world’s view of Christmas and refocus on its true meaning.

Emmanuel – God with us.

The Creator of the universe joined our lives on this small planet. When Jesus was born, He entered our world at one point in history and that event defines our calendar, our sense of time. There was a time before Jesus, but we now live in a new era with Jesus. A.D. – anno domini – the year of our Lord. That was quite a year!

God is with us.

What an amazing thought, and yet, I need an email reminding me to enjoy His presence.

Do you need an email reminder? How will you include Jesus in your Christmas preparations?

WILL YOU SPEND TIME WITH JESUS THIS SEASON? HE’S HERE AND PATIENTLY WAITING FOR YOU. (TWEET THIS)

There are so many good Advent devotionals. Private message me if you’d like some suggestions.

#SeedsofScripture #callingyourname #Godwithus #advent

Ah-Ha! Burning from Within

The angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.  Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” Exodus
3:2-3 (NIV)
Ah-ha! The flames appeared from within the bush and the bush did not burn up.
A person ‘on fire’ is enthusiastically passionate about something. You might say I’m on fire for God and one of my goals in writing Seeds of Scripture has been to set your heart ablaze too.
Ah-ha! Only a fire lit from within and fueled by God himself doesn’t burn out.
I can’t light your fire (hee-hee). I can merely let God’s light shine from within me and pray that you will come over and see this strange sight. Are you curious enough to investigate?
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!” (Exodus 3:4)
When Moses showed interest, God called him by name. Repeating his name indicated a personal, affectionate voice. God already knew Moses and was waiting for his response. As soon as Moses showed interest, God revealed Himself from the bush.

Are you curious about God? He calls you by name and awaits your response. (tweet this)

Do you know someone who’s on fire for God?
Does it draw you in or push you away? Why?
Would you listen to their experience of Him?

And because I know you’ve been humming:

Come on Jesus, light my fire
Come on Jesus, light my fire
Please come set the world on fire…
#SeedsofScripture #callingyourname #onfireforGod #burnfromwithin

The Aroma of Jesus

Through us, [God] brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (MSG)
Have you ever caught yourself smelling like bagels and coffee?
When I meet friends at Blue Moon Bagel Café, I often notice later in the day that I smell like fresh bread. It doesn’t happen in the afternoon when the kitchen is closed, only in the morning when the kitchen is buzzing with baking.
Hanging out with Jesus has the same effect.
When we spend time in His presence or with people who are alive with His Spirit, we pick up His scent. We then emanate His aroma in personal encounters and decisions. Our attitudes, actions and reactions create a scent by which people begin to identify us.
Admittedly, some days we smell more like Jesus than others (I don’t mean needing a shower and some deodorant). Why do we represent Jesus some days better than others? Do we skip ‘breakfast’? Do we need some quality coffee time with Jesus to re-absorb His ideas and reapply the Jesus   fragrance?

We absorb the aroma of Jesus the longer we hang out with Him.

Do you know someone who ‘smells’ like Jesus?
How do you think they acquire His scent?
2 Corinthians 2:16-17 continues:
This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No – but at
least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets
to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in
the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we
can.
#SeedsofScripture #smelllikeJesus #Jesus #coffeeandJesus

Where to Look for Help

I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT)
This verse has always inspired me. I love nature and see God revealing Himself in
all of creation. Sunrises, mountain views, any kind of water – lake, river, ocean,  even rain – bring peace to my soul, renewal and strength. I lift up my eyes to the hills and feel God’s presence.
So I was surprised to learn that I completely misunderstand the psalmist’s message.
This ‘Psalm of Ascent’ is for pilgrims journeying to the Temple in Jerusalem which sits atop the hill. A clue to what the psalmist refers to as hills (plural) is found in the story of Solomon who builds altars to foreign gods on the mountains east of Jerusalem, east of the Temple mount (1 Kings 11:7). Other kings also build altars to false gods on high places “in every corner of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 28:24).
In this hymn, the worshipers approaching the Temple scoff at the false gods as they lift their eyes to the altars atop the surrounding hills. Then they reaffirm their commitment to the One who created all things, the only God who has the power to help.

Does your help come from the One who can truly help? (tweet this)

Where do you find your help – your strength, peace and renewal?
Do you look to the false gods of materialism, career, popularity and self?
Or do you lean in to the One who can truly help you?
#SeedsofScripture #strength #falsegods #worshiptheoneGod #psalms

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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