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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

Believe Jesus? Or Know Jesus?

If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.
John 14:7 (NLT)
My summer was crazy exciting, but I strayed from blogging. The fall routine has arrived and I’m bursting with inspirational thoughts! I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start with Jesus.
I love Jesus and I came to this love by discussing scripture in a small group. I believed in Him my whole life, but my belief didn’t make an impact on my life until I came to know and love Him.
What’s the difference between believing and knowing? Everything.
Belief is a head thing. A decision. We decide Jesus is the Son of God and sign on to follow (most of) His teachings as a good person should.
We don’t follow the ones that are hard or don’t make sense. Many are completely counter-intuitive. They seem unreasonable. We feel vulnerable. We don’t understand why His way is a good idea. But we’re good people because we love others like Jesus did.
Knowing Jesus is understanding His heart. Absorbing every detail of the stories about Him to discover why He modeled humility and abhorred hypocrisy, touched the outcast and insulted the powerful, eagerly taught the hungry crowds but stormed out of the Temple. Jesus is a real person. Not a set of rules.
When we get to know the complete person of Jesus, His teaching makes more sense. Opening our hearts to see the world through Jesus’ eyes leads to transformed attitudes and perspectives. We follow Jesus because we want to, not because we should.
I learned the difference between believing and knowing by reading and discussing the Bible in a small group. Every ah-ha thrilled me as I pieced together the big picture and discovered rich, personal meaning in familiar stories. I had tried reading scripture on my own. I had signed up for online studies but never finished. The assignment and discussion made all the difference.

The shift from believing in Jesus to knowing Him is when transformation occurs! (tweet this)

How can you seek the heart of Jesus?
#SeedsofScripture #Jesus #Biblestudy #JustDoIt #SmallGroupStudy #theheartofJesus

Good News!

This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving
everyone who believes… This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
Romans 1:1-6, 16-17 (NLT)
 
Good News! You are included among those called to belong to Jesus.
 
Good News! Jesus is indeed the Son of God, fulfilling more than 300 Old Testament prophesies. God kept his promises.
 
Good News! Jesus was raised from the dead and seen by more than 500 people who were still living when the accounts were written down. Jesus sightings were verifiable.
 
Good News! Jesus offers life to everyone who believes. It just takes faith.

Good News! You are called to belong to Jesus! (tweet this)

How can you celebrate this Good News?
Will you tell someone what God has done for them?
 
#SeedsofScripture #GoodNews #faith #Jesus
 

Be More Human

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
Genesis 1:26 (NLT)
What does it mean to be more human?
I’ve recently been immersed in Crossfit (see Facebook Cathy Alger Chung for details). It’s a wonderfully friendly and supportive community ranging from elite athletes to people trying to live healthier. For the most part, each member of the community wants every other member to do their best, no matter what level they’re at.
The serious athletes work extremely hard and shape their lives around achieving their highest potential. But ordinary people also succeed in improving their lives by losing weight, becoming more mobile, reducing pain, beating diabetes, and gaining confidence.
Reebok’s promotion implies that being healthy makes us more human and, indeed, physical health is an important aspect of being our best. However, God created humans to reflect His image. So our personal best as humans must look a lot like Jesus, the human form of God.
Being more human means being more like Jesus. And Jesus was a servant.
We can describe Jesus as compassionate, loving, just, humble and forgiving, but at His core, Jesus was a servant. He set aside His divinity in order to limit Himself inside a human body – from unlimited, all-powerful to an oppressed, poor son of a carpenter. He lived with one ultimate purpose – to willingly carry other people’s sins to an excruciating death.
Jesus was the ultimate servant, giving His life in exchange for your life and mine. Being more human means loving others as much Jesus does.
How can we be as dedicated as Crossfit athletes in improving our abilities, stretching our limits, and focusing our minds on loving others as much as Jesus does?
How can we encourage and assist each other in being the best possible servants?
How can we better shape our lives with the primary purpose of loving and serving?
#SeedsofScripture #crossfit #bemorehuman

Fully Committed

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Acts 20:24 (NLT)
Can you imagine being completely dedicated to spreading the message of God? All activities, decisions and behaviors point to Jesus. The manner in which we carry out the necessities of life reflect God’s character. Nothing is more important.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is an example.
This translates to ‘The Holy Family’ and is a masterpiece cathedral by Gaudí. There are many cathedrals in Spain, but this one is different in that every detail tells the story of God’s love in Jesus.
We followed the audio guide as did most other visitors. It described each sculpture’s intricate details and its symbolism. Beginning with the beauty and variety of God’s creation, stepping through the events of Jesus’ life and finally to His glory in heaven, Gaudí wanted this cathedral to point to Christ, not himself. He used his gifts well to put God on display.
I love that thousands and thousands of people hear the story of Jesus every day as they listen to the audio guide. Not sanitized or politically correct, but welcoming all. One door is carved with the phrase ‘give us this day, our daily bread’ in almost all of the world’s languages.
Though Gaudí has been dead nearly 100 years, he continues to spread the Good News.
What would it look like to use all your energy and gifts to point to Christ? 
Can you imagine giving your life in this way?
Is this what it means to surrender to Christ?

 

When we surrender to the Holy Spirit, Christ is magnified, not us.” – Francis Chan

Privilege or Responsibility?

The covenant-call to be God’s people, far from being primarily an invitation to special privilege, is first of all a summons to special responsibility. God calls a people to live in response to the needs of others, to live in right relationship with God, to bring justice and mercy to the land, and to lead the way toward peace and freedom. The covenant binds [God’s people] to trust in God alone, not putting confidence in false prophets or false securities.

From Seeking God’s Peace in a Nuclear Age: A Call
to Disciples of Christ

God promises life to those who believe in Jesus.  We are set apart but not with special privilege. Instead, we become servants because God’s people live in response to the needs of others.
Rather than privilege, we have a special responsibility to express God’s radical justice and mercy through our lives. Jesus shows particular concern for the poor, the social outcasts, the ill, the mentally ill and for those without a support network. His mercy even extends to those who have committed the worst kind of evil. In contrast to our idea of fairness, both long time believers and late-in-life believers receive the same reward.

God’s justice and mercy is radically different from ours. (tweet this)

In addition, God’s people trust God above all else. Our confidence is not in our career, bank balance, social standing, family, or health. None of these is secure. Only God is truly reliable. We trust Him to provide our needs as we follow His guidance (at least it’s our goal to trust Him that well).

How can you show God’s justice and mercy in your circles of influence?
Could you expand your circles?
When have you trusted God to provide instead of relying on yourself?
#SeedsofScripture #mercy #justice #TrustGodAlone

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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