When He Calls Me to Walk on Water

This morning I was reading in Matthew 14 about when Jesus walked on the water out to His disciples in the boat in the storm, and how Peter walked out to Him. I’ve read this story one hundred times and yet it has never hit me with the impact it struck me with this morning. I saw how this very story happens in my own life.

In the midst of all the craziness and “storminess” of fears, temptations and uncertainties around me, Jesus approaches me, giving me the desire to go to him, in spite of how crazy and impossible it may seem to myself and those around me. But that desire is there. I Want to walkWANT to walk into the storm because I know that is where He is. Yes, it is scary and there are so many things, the wind, the waves, the pelting rain, SO many things that can distract me from drawing nigh to the Lord. But at the same time I can see how if ever I become distracted with the wind and begin to sink, the Lord is RIGHT HERE to reach out a grab me and pull me back to my feet. And it is all simply because he loves me. He WANTS me to come to Him, He WANTS me to be willing to walk onto the stormy sea because many times that is the only way He can continue to grow me in my faith and trust in Him and bring me to the place in my life that He wants me to be. He never leaves me alone in those stormy seas and is always just ahead, encouraging me to draw nigh, but at the same time is right beside me when I fall.

Also the Lord has been showing me how even in the thickest of storms, He gives me peace and confidence, because I know it is His will for me to walk on the waters to go to where He is leading me. The story of promisesAbraham has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can’t help but think about how many times he had to walk forward “into the stormy seas” by faith to follow where the Lord was leading him. Think about how many times the Lord called Abraham to step forward into the impossible! Going places and doing things that seemed impossible to not only Abraham, but also those around him. Yet, at the same time, Abraham stepped forward in faith, and the Lord led him through all of the unknown into His fulfilled promises to Abraham, precious and beautiful promises that only He could have fulfilled.

And kind of as a side note: I’ve been talking to a good friend recently about how it seems every time God is doing something amazing in my life the fears and temptations seem to increase. I truly believe this is because whenever the devil sees a person or situation with a lot of potential for glorifying and honoring the Lord, he tries to throw them off with doubts, fears and temptations… all of the “wind,” “waves” and “rain” that can distract them from focusing on and drawing nigh to Jesus. The harder the wind and rain, the more I know it is vital for me to keep pushing on and going where the Lord is leading me, because He has something precious and beautiful prepared for me, either in my walk with the Lord, in my physical life, or both!

I am so thankful for the “stormy seas” the Lord brings into my life, because I know that without them I would not grow as much in my faith and trust in the Lord, and also because they cause me walking on water of uncertaintyto draw even closer to the Lord and His will for my life. Yes, I struggle with doubts and fears about what lies ahead and around me. I also know that the Lord is faithful to His promises, and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. I know that He has blessing exceedingly abundant in store for me as I follow His will for my life. I know as I draw nigh to the Lord, He will draw nigh to me as well and even in the darkest, scariest storms of fears and doubts He is still using those times to teach me to walk by faith on the waters of uncertainty. The beauty of drawing nigh to Him and seeing what precious plans He has for my life is always worth the storm He brings me through, and because of this I can walk confidently through the wind, waves and rain without worry or fear as long as I keep my eyes on Him, resting in His love and strength, and ever mindful that what He promises He will do.

What an amazing and precious Lord I have!!

 

 

Is Biblical Womanhood a Step Down for Today’s Woman?

Many conservative Christians today are stressing the return of women to God’s intended role as designated in the Scriptures. However, when one looks at how these women are representing that role, there seems to be a serious lack of vibrancy and strength. Women who are following God’s plan as defined in God’s Word are seen as little cheerleaders on the sidelines of their husband’s ministries and meek keepers at home. When the term “role” is used, it is defined as the plan God had for women when He designed them. In terms of “value” it is understood as value or worth in God’s eyes. The Biblical role and value of womanhood is sometimes inadvertently misrepresented by Christians and misunderstood by feminists due to the failure of some Christians to read and study God’s Word as a whole to thereby be able to accurately portray Biblical womanhood according to the whole context of the Scriptures. By consulting with God’s Word in its entirety, one can see that many of the disagreements between conservative Christian women and feminists can be nullified, or at least bring them to a place of understanding.

In reality, feminists and conservative Christian women have similar problems. Both are to some extent misunderstood by the other, and both display a certain degree of discomfort or hostility towards the other. Feminists feel conservative Christian women restrict natural vision and passion as well as reduce them to a demeaning place of servitude beneath men through their commitment to follow the Lord by becoming a keeper at home and living in submission to their husbands. Understandingly this portrayal of constant servitude and humbling before men many times causes feminists to shun Christianity and God’s Word altogether. In turn, conservative Christian women feel that feminists are desecrating their natural role through the feminist’s constant quest for equal rights with men and opportunities to grow in knowledge and influence. Because of a few of the more prominent immoderate feminists, conservative Christian women tend to feel that all feminists have an agenda to trample God’s specific design for women and to try to be more masculine in everything they do. The original goals of feminists were to bring them up from the purely domesticated and unprotected place they had fallen to in the mid-19th century. In the Old Testament, there were laws in place that helped protect women, and throughout the New Testament many commands were given to men that would demonstrate respect, honor and protection for the women in their lives. As history progressed, the emphasis began to be placed more on the domestic role of women versus the practical role of women, and more about the role than the value of women resulting in the general feeling of segregation between men and women.

According to God’s Word everyone is equal in God’s eyes, male and female alike, and nothing demonstrates this better than God sending His Son Jesus Christ to earth to die for the sins of the whole world. There are countless passages in Scripture that address the issue of salvation for “all,” “the world,” “whosoever,” and many others. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Bible, Galatians 3:26-28, personal emphasis). Even in judgment God never discriminates between male and female “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Bible, Colossians 3:25, personal emphasis).

From the very beginning of Scripture God clearly defined the roles of both man and woman. Adam was first formed, then Eve. An interesting aspect to note is that God created woman from the side of man, not the hand or the foot (Bible, Genesis 2:21-22). This in itself symbolizes that a woman’s place is to be at the side of man, not above or beneath. While God created man and woman as equal in value, He designed them to have very different roles. Throughout Scripture the role of women is often interpreted as a purely domestic role, while the men are seemingly made more important by their authoritative position. Men and women were created as two very different beings, though both human. Women are naturally physically weaker and more emotional, and this is not a bad thing. They also tend to be more visionary and better planners than men. Men on the other hand are for the most part physically stronger, and are more systematic and cautious. This can cause them to be hesitant and slow at times, but again, this is not a bad thing. God created men and women physically and emotionally different to better perform the duties He planned for them.

For example, one of the most beautiful aspects of a biblical woman is motherhood. The grave importance of being a mother is often looked on as a low position, when in reality, there is often more done to change the world by being a good mother. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world” (Wallace). Even throughout the records of the kings in the Old Testament, when there was a good king, his mother was almost always mentioned. Being a mother is one of the most challenging and difficult tasks given to mankind, and no one is more capable and qualified for this than a woman.

biblical-womanhood1           There are times when Christian women, particularly conservative Christian women,
tend to go past the Biblical role of womanhood by over-emphasizing the aspects of meekness and staying at home to the point of having no other purpose in life than to keep house and have babies. While these are a vital part of God’s design for women, true Biblical womanhood is so much more broad and valuable than that. When looking at the whole context of God’s Word one can see His design for women being one of great strength and passion, a role so great and precious He esteems their worth higher than rubies – the most precious of all gems and metals found in the whole of God’s Word (Bible, Proverbs 31:10) . Just one portion of God’s Word represents a truly virtuous woman as one who prompts trust from others, takes responsibility for the food and clothing of the household, is a strong and diligent worker, a business woman, attentive to the needy, is very wise, industrious, and is known in prominent places of the city for her virtue and assiduity (Bible, Proverbs 31:10-31).
Many times convictions and conclusions are based from small portions of Scripture and, whether unintentional or not, the rest of the passages are overlooked or not viewed in relation to the passage chosen.

For example, one scripture that is most often viewed with disagreement by feminists are portions from 1 Peter 3:1 and 6. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (Bible, King James Version). Looking only at these verses, the Bible seems to portray the role of womanhood as a demeaning place of servitude. However, if one were to look at the entire context of this passage, a slightly different story would emerge. Not only does this passage give instruction to the women, but in verse 7 it also states an equivalent responsibility for the men. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (Bible, King James Version). Just as the wife is to submit to her husband, the husband is to honor his wife. Each is given a challenge that is equally difficult for them to accomplish. The end of the verse also very clearly states their equality in God’s eyes by reminding the husband that they are “heirs together of the grace of life” (Bible, King James Version). Continuing further on in the passage, God continues to give instruction to both the husband and wife combined, “Finally, be ye all of one mind” (Bible, 1 Peter 3:8) and later goes even so far as to include the young and old alike, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourself unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…”(Bible, 1 Peter 5:5). Another important aspect of this passage that is overlooked comes right after the command to “be in subjection to your own husbands”, and that is “that, if any (husbands) obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (righteous living) of the wives” (Bible, 1 Peter 3:1). This verse clearly states the power of influence a good woman has on a man. Simply by living in godly submission she can cause her husband to recognize his own shortcomings and repent of his wrong. When anyone is constantly living with someone who is doing what is right, what will be seen in themselves but the wrong they are doing?

In order to relieve some of the tension between conservative Christians and feminists, it would be wise to awaken both sides to the realization that obeying God’s Word in His plan for women will in no way demean or make them of lesser value. If anything, it will give them even greater worth and purpose. If conservative Christians are made aware of how feminists may be reading their words and actions in relation to Biblical womanhood, they would become more open to becoming more fully informed and to discussing differences in order to clear up misunderstandings with the feminists around them. Likewise, giving feminists an accurate portrayal of Biblical womanhood could not only assist them in their understanding and cooperation with conservative Christians, but perhaps assist in opening their minds more to the truths of God’s Word and Christianity as a whole.

Exercising in Godliness

 

exercising-in-godlinessWith an upcoming new year, everyone is thinking about the year past, what has gone wrong, what has gone right, and resolutions are being made for the new year. Some people don’t set much in store for New Year’s Resolutions, some obsess over it, and some view it as a refreshing opportunity to get a new start. New beginnings are exciting, terrifying, encouraging and intimidating. They are an opportunity to test personal resolve and faith in God.

This past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. As I look back over it, I see many things I truly wish I had done differently, and other things that I cannot believe the Lord grew me through. There are many areas I’ve fallen in over and over again, yet at the same time there are areas that the Lord has given me almost complete (if not fully complete) victory in. There were many tears, fears and frustrations, but there have also been unmeasurable moments of joy, peace and excitement. God is SO good!

I know the past few weeks in particular I’ve been struggling with my daily walk with the Lord. Daily readings were a struggle, prayers seemed empty and Bible memorization was… non-existent. I was still trusting God, praying, and fighting through what I FELT to cling to what I KNEW was true of God and my relationship with Him. God always has a plan ready, and can use the smallest thing, a tiny word or a couple of innocent questions to electrify you and shock everything back into place. If anyone else had read them, it wouldn’t have made a difference, but when the God who knows every need of your heart places them in front of you, it is like a healing balm that smooths over the dull ache and gives healing and health to reach up and grasp with a new zeal that mercy and grace that is new every morning.

One of the things the Lord has blessed me with this year was the ability to get into martial arts. It’s something I always wanted to do, and I can see how immensely it is helping me physically. The past couple days I was thinking about how most New Year’s Resolutions circle around exercising, dieting and deal with bodily health. As I’ve personally been working through the physical challenges of martial arts, I find I have to work hard, train through and practice continually what I’m learning in order to progress. The more I practice and train in these areas, the more excited and confident I am about what I am doing.

The same is true of my relationship with the Lord. As I was focusing on the changes I was wanting to make in my relationship with the Lord this year, it was all of the normal “Reading, praying, memorizing” changes. But then something clicked. I looked up the word “exercise” in my concordance and found it.

“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” ~1 Timothy 4:7-8

Then ensued a pretty lengthy study, but the main points are what I’d like to share.

-“Bodily exercise profiteth little,” meaning it profits only the physical aspects of my life. This does not mean that I should not exercise, but that it only profits me in one area.

“Godliness is profitable to ALL things.” It reaches out and touches and influences EVERY area of my life, both in my life today and in my life that is to come.

Exercising godliness helps me to be more spiritually “awake.” (If you read the whole of chapter 4, or even the whole book of 1 Timothy, you can see this theme weaving throughout.) When I think of someone spiritually active, I can read 1 Timothy 4:12 into their life.

“…an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

There is this saying, “if you want it bad enough, you will go through anything bad to get it.” I think many times the reason I do not become more spiritually active in my life is because I do not determine in my heart and mind ahead of time that this is what I truly want. When I read a verse like this, deep down in my heart I know that this is the way I want to be above all else. When I decided to do martial arts, I determined to make the most I could of it with the time I had. My relationship with God is even more so. As I was thinking about this the past couple days I was almost bewildered at where to start. Well, thankfully God’s word gives me everything I need that “pertains to life and godliness,” so I kept reading, and wouldn’t you know it? I found the answer! 😉

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” ~1 Timothy 4:13,15

There it is right there, a whole list:

-Reading

-Exhortation (teaching and preaching)

-Doctrine (studying)

-Meditate (memorization)

And lastly,

GIVE THYSELF WHOLLY TO THEM

At church last night, Bro. Ben broke down a day and narrowed it down to how much “extra” time we have left in a day. Even on a day where I’m working a full day’s work, I still have 5 ½ “extra” hours left. Just think of what would happen if I spent even half of that time exercising in godliness?

Just for a second I wanted to touch at the flip side. The more “awake” I am in fleshly things, I am more “groggy” spiritually. I know different people have their fleshly weaknesses… for some it’s tv and movies, for others it’s video games, or social media, or books, or friends… anything. I know when I allow myself more time in the things that are not exercising in godliness, I’m a lot less likely to do my godliness exercises. Kind of like eating a huge meal of junk food at lunch and not feeling like exercising that evening. Then the next morning looking at those donuts sitting there on the table, and thinking you’ll exercise extra later to make up for it, and before you know it, it’s been a week (or month!) since you’ve exercised at all. The same thing goes for the fleshly things in life. They are a distraction from exercising in godliness.

At the end of every year for the past few years the Lord has given me a word that burned in my mind throughout the whole year. This past year the word was “change,” and boy! Was that the truth! The past few weeks I’ve had the words “hard work” in my mind. It’s kind of funny, because at first thought, hard work is not something particularly pleasant, but I am growing more and more excited about what God will do in my life in this next year. My “New Year’s Resolution” is to exercise myself in godliness and making it a personal goal for this year. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, and even a struggle at times, but I also know God is my strength to hold that resolve and it will be through His power alone that it will come to pass.

What is your New Year’s Resolution? Is there something I can pray for you for this up-coming year?

 

 

 

Prayer in Growing

“As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” ~Colossians 1:7-12

After reading this passage this morning, I realized I am guilty of something…

prayer-in-growingI tend to either only pray for people when they “need” it or pray for them more when they are going through hard times physically and spiritually. I just realized that Paul did so much more! When he heard of the Colossians love in the spirit, their faith in Christ Jesus and love for their brothers and sisters in Christ, he said they did “not cease to pray” for them.

It makes so much sense to pray for someone when they’re going through something tough, but when we start to see God growing and working in a life is when we need to pray for them just as much if not more! It is so important to pray for someone that is growing in their relationship with Christ because this is when the devil tries his hardest to discourage and get them down and because it is at this point that they have SO much potential for God’s kingdom work!

 

My goal for today is to think of someone that has encouraged me by their recent growth in Christ and pray for them! Will you do the same?

Focusing on the Dross

“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” ~Proverbs 25:4

It is so easy to get discouraged in my walk with the Lord because I tend to look at all the impurities that are still in me. The ways that I fall (yet again), yield to temptation or fail to be a witness or testimony when I focusing-on-the-drosshave the opportunity to do so. I get to the point where I feel like I am not growing in my relationship with the Lord and feel stuck.

God knows exactly how I feel though, and there are also times like this morning when I read a verse, and it jumps off the page and hits me square in the face.

Silver is beautiful, even impure silver is beautiful, and as the dross and imperfections are gradually worked out, it becomes even more beautiful and shines of its crafter’s loving touch and wise workmanship.

Focusing on the dross and impurities of my life while God is still working on me is like someone who has no idea of a craft criticizing a crafter long before His work is finished. There is a reason He commands us to “(forget) those things which are behind and (reach) forth unto those things which are before,” (Philippians 3:13). The longer I focus on the impurities and failings of my life, the harder I make it for myself to look forward to the finished work I know God will accomplish in my life.

If I were instead to look at the finished product God promises to make me through His word, I would then be able to see the beauty of today, even among its dross and impurities, and live a life of hope and joyful anticipation of the completed work to come.

Measure of Faith

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” -Romans 12:3romans-12-3

Pride is a natural thing. I don’t have to put forth any effort to become immersed in pride of some form or another. It is so easy to esteem myself overmuch and become vain or arrogant in any of the areas of my life.

When I looked at what it meant to “think soberly,” I was interested to find that this form of thinking is an action, an exercising of the mind to be of sound mind and moderate in all things. It takes effort, a conscious decision to be of sound mind and settled in Christ.
Why does it matter so much that I not think highly of myself? Because there is absolutely no reason to! God has given the measure of faith to each and every one of us. (THE measure, meaning there is no difference in what He gives each and every one of us!)

It is like a piano teacher teaching the same lesson to ten children. What they do with the lesson will determine the outcome of their progress and knowledge in piano, but EVERY one of them was given the capability to increase in their knowledge and skill of the piano. The depth of increase may vary, but there can always be increase. God has given to every one of us the measure of faith, and it is what we do with it that determines the outcome of that faith in our lives.

We have no reason to boast, because everyone is capable of increase of knowledge and skill in faith, no matter where they currently are in their lives.