I am no green fingers gardener (my wife Pip will attest to that), but I have noticed one thing about our fruit trees: they produce their fruit by standing still in one place and sending their roots down, silent yet bearing their fruit each season. You cannot hurry them. Thomas Merton made a similar observation, pointing out that as the world goes about its busyness and noise, all the plants and trees continue to “bring forth fruit in silence.”
We live in an age where we seem to be obsessed with speed, with doing everything fast - faster internet, fast food, faster travel and so on. In 1909, the Futurist Manifesto stated, ‘we affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed’. Yet despite this speed, our world is in a hurry and we complain about never having enough time. The reality is, we have all the time we need, but the faster we go, as one writer put it, ‘the hurrier I get’. Or in the words of Psychotherapist Carl Jung, ‘Hurry is not of the devil, it is the devil!’
I recently saw two seminars offered for church Pastors – ‘Further, Faster – How to Take Your Church Further Faster!’ I wondered to myself where ‘further’ was and why we had to get there fast? The second was entitled ‘Leadership Faster’. I have done leadership ‘fast’ and the results are generally not great. The faster I went the shallower I became, skimming the surface of relationships and decision-making, both wrought with potentially risky outcomes.
It’s interesting that Moses asked those he was leading to ‘stand still’ so he could hear what God was saying to them (Numbers 9:8). Yes, there are times in life we need to make quick decisions, but I have learnt that those moments aren’t really many.
This theme of stillness, of rest and quiet is interwoven throughout Scripture. As our Shepherd, God tells us that He will ‘lead us bedside still waters’ (Psalm 23). The word for ‘still’ in this verse means resting place, quietness. We are also promised that in ‘quietness and confidence we will find strength’ (Isaiah 30:15). Maybe, just maybe, there is something in this being still, being silent and still being fruitful?
I have always been intrigued by and loved verse ten of Psalm forty-six where God defines for us the posture of heart and pace of life we need to live in in order to know Him:
Be still and know that I am God.
The Hebrew word for ‘still’ conveys the sense of to relax, refrain, to be quiet, and to slacken. The word is also from the same group of words for ‘heals’ as in Exodus 15:26 where we are told that God can heal. Speed produces stress, even illness; being still produces rest and the opportunity for healing.
I am on a personal journey of healing from several ‘punches’ to the brain (aka strokes), and the professionals who are assisting me in this process keep telling me that sleep, stillness and even silence, help the brain to heal, renew and restore itself. This has meant making intentional choices to do less as I learn to live life more unplugged. And I've realised that being still and silent before God can be as fruitful as being busy for Him.
God knew that stillness is how we should live healthy in the first place.
That’s why He invites us to meet Him, to get to know Him - to not only hear Him but to follow where He leads and as we do, to be healed by Him through stillness and even in silence. The Father’s in the early church period thought that silence was an integral part of prayer. In the seventh century, Isaac the Syrian described ‘stillness’ as being:
“…a deliberate denial of the gift of words for the sake of achieving inner silence, in the midst of which a person can hear the presence of God. It is standing unceasingly, silent, and prayerful before God.”
We need to find ways to be still; to practice silence so that we can hear the presence of God, allowing Him to restore our soul. We need to realise that sometimes in doing less, we achieve more - that going further faster does not necessarily equal going deeper and being fruitful.
I cannot tell you how or what to do in order for you to find God in the stillness - not without knowing the context of your story and journey - but I can urge you to slow down, be still and know God. To let Him lead you. And I know that as you do, you will be like the trees on my property – your roots will go down deep and rather than being busy, you will be fruitful.
How can you practice silence today?
Lucas hides himself behind the couch cushions and peeks out - first one side, then the next. Each time laughing in delight as I ask, "Where's Lucas?" and then exclaim, "There he is!" when he pops his head out from his 'hiding place'...
The weekend had left me somewhat fragile and raw. It was one of those times in life where the new and the old collide; where you find yourself celebrating new beginnings while at the same time mourning the end of a chapter in your story. Joy and grief mingle in the paradox of life that both the beautiful and the painful can be happening simultaneously in us and around us.
There would have been a time in my life where I might have tried to suppress the conflicting or what one might think of as 'negative' emotions that such seasons can evoke. A time where I wouldn't have been fully present; where I would have forced myself to just get on with things and tried to hide the depth of what I was feeling.
But nothing about us - no thought, no action, no word, no feeling - is ever really hidden from God. Like Lucas' games of peek-a-boo, God knows exactly where we are at.
In Psalm 139 David writes:
...You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
There is no need to conceal our lives from God; nothing gained from trying to put on a face and pretend that we are something that we are not because God already knows everything there is to know about us. But more than that He already knows, He wants us to be open with Him because He wants to be with us. He wants to celebrate our achievements and cry with us in our pain; He wants to be our friend when we are lonely and to hold us when we're hurting. He wants to cheer us on and build us up; to speak truth where we have believed lies and to listen to our story. He wants us to know that we are understood. That He'll stick with us.
David knew that just as he could not hide from God, he also could not run from Him.
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
His presence never leaves us. There is no where we can go - no height or depth - that He will not go with us. His love hems us in. And no matter how hard we try to run from our circumstances and from Him, He runs towards us.
We might hide but He always seeks. And like Lucas' joy in being 'found' by me, God wants us to know the delight of being found by Him. Of being known by Him.
Whether traversing heights or depths, I am no longer afraid to let God find me. Because when I let Him be with me, I get the gift of Him. He brings His light and beauty to each and every season and chapter of my life, illuminating the treasure to be found there. God's thoughts towards me - how He feels about me and His perspective on what I'm facing - have become like precious jewels to me.
Rather than hiding from Him, God invites us to hide in Him. To allow Him to be the safe place where we pour out our hurting and our rejoicing hearts; where we share our fears and our faith-filled expectations; where we bring both our weaknesses and our strengths.
Where have you been hiding? Allow Him to find you there.
Live today with purpose,
It felt like somewhat of a standoff as my mother and I stood facing each other at my back door in a heated exchange. I had gone on the offensive, defending my actions as she confronted me about an attitude that she rightly perceived had become toxic in my life - and truthfully, even I was taken back by the words that were spewing out of me. I hadn't realised until that moment the depth of what had been hiding in my heart.
There was a position that I desperately wanted which I believed I was being unfairly held back from. I felt overlooked and like my contributions to the team were being taken for granted. My desires and intentions were good, but at that particular time, rather than fuelling an expectation for the future, they had ignited within me a deep sense of dissatisfaction and frustration.
I thought it should be my turn
I was afraid of missing out
I felt constrained and powerless to do anything about it
My inner dialogue in that season was telling me that it was NEVER going to happen for me if it didn't happen NOW. So I fell into striving; trying to prove my own worth as I grasped for what I felt I should have and be.
Often, more than we tell lies, we believe them. And these lies that I was accepting were doing me much harm.
In Psalm 37:7-8, David offers us this wisdom:
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him... Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil.
David warns us not to open the door to anger while we wait because it will lead only to evil. In addition to the word for evil meaning just that - to do bad or evil - it also means to hurt or injure; to break. When we wait with frustration, with anger and anxiety in our hearts, we can hurt not only ourselves, but also those around us.
That season of my life was marked by MUCH fretting and I can testify to the truth of David's words - it leads only to evil.
I did evil to myself - I robbed myself of peace; of being able to enjoy the season I was in and I placed a huge burden on myself to achieve and perform in ways that God was not asking me to.
I did evil to others - injuring them with my words as I lashed out in frustration and at times fed their own sense of dissatisfaction.
Fretting turned what God had intended to be a blessing in my life and made it a burden.
After my mum left that day, I went before God and I laid it all down. I surrendered my dream and the timetable that went with it. I asked His forgiveness for my wrong attitude and when I had settled the issue in my heart, I picked up the phone to apologise for how I had spoken to my mother and to thank her for her loving correction. There was an instant shift in my spirit as I laid down my striving and rested in who God was; as I chose to trust in His timing.
Eighteen months later, I was given the position that I had so desperately longed for. And as I stepped into it, as I began to feel the weight of responsibility that came with it, I realised something - I would not have been ready for the position when I thought I was. What was now a blessing to me and to those around me, could have broken me in another season. God had been right to hold me back from promotion (funny that!).
In Psalm 37, David encourages us with this promise:
Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and He will provide for you what you desire most.
That chapter of my life taught me a lesson that I will never forget; truth that I have carried with me through other seasons of waiting and delay. God's timing is always the right timing and we don't need to force that timing, We can rest in His wisdom, enjoying Him and savouring the journey that He has us on.
God doesn't place dreams and desires in our hearts to frustrate us, but to bless us. His invitation as we wait for the proper timing for those desires to be realised, is to be still in His presence - to wait with Him; valuing the dream-giver more than the dream itself. When we accept this invitation, not only does He give us the desires of our heart, those desires become a source of delight to us.
What is He asking you to trust Him with in this season?
Live today with purpose,
I ran headlong into a wall when I was a toddler, and the wall won! If ever the saying “Hitting a brick wall” applied to my life – it was then…actually, it still is now on occasion.
If you ever get a glimpse of my forehead (it’s purposefully hidden under my fringe), you will see a small sloping line on the right hand side - that’s my ‘wall wound’, the anti-trophy from my strong-willed childhood.
“Slow down, don’t run!” said my mother, moments before it happened, “Be careful! You’ll hit that brick wall!”
I did not listen, I was not careful and I certainly did not slow down. I just wanted to run, not stop. The impact with the unyielding wall giving me a lifelong scar, a temporary bump to my head and a dent to my pride.
Did I learn anything from it though? There are times when I think not.
You see, I barely, if ever, think about that scar anymore – yet in a photograph this week with my fringe windswept to one side; there it was and I recalled it again as if for the very first time.
A friend had coincidentally (it wasn’t of course) had a picture of me last year. She saw me running full steam ahead into a wall wondering why it didn’t just fall down and let me pass. She then saw me backing up and trying the same wall yet again, still not figuring out why the wall didn’t fall over.
This wasn’t a credit to my perseverance, or a pat on the back, this was – ‘why do I keep trying the same thing over and over when it yields the same results?’ We all know that saying I’m sure: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
There are times when I do not take no for an answer. Instead I try again, and again, finding it hard to give up. Rather than concede defeat I just dig in and go harder. Bill Hybels says:
“If the request is wrong, God says, no. If the timing is wrong, God says, slow. If you are wrong, God says grow. But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says “Go!”
Sometimes God says no to our petitions, prayers and personal longings. We don’t always understand why, we don’t like it, we grieve, we rail and sometimes take matters into our own hands. Doesn’t work does it? Remember? Scar, bump to head, dented pride – undented, unharmed, unyielding wall and barrier still standing.
As I look at that scar now, God starts to speak gently to my heart addressing the way I run head long at walls and obstacles I’m not mean’t to be running into at all.
My loving Daddy God says to me “Karen – that scar on your forehead….remember why you have it? You ran heedlessly into a wall, you did not slow down and you did not listen” he continues “That scar is to be a reminder to you of what I am showing you – when I say no, it is not to hurt you or harm you, but because I have better plans for you, I have paths set out before you”
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
Paths not walls! Which imply direction, progress, and a way forwards, not the insurmountable obstacles I keep running into.
I was recently given a prophetic word on the subject of paths.
“God has heard your petition, the matter that you keep bringing before him, he wants you to know that you are on the path that he has set out for you, in the direction he is leading you into”
Boom! Cannot get much clearer than that. The message is - stop running at walls, instead follow the path, in fact its plural – paths - that God has laid out for me. Run in that direction.
“I RUN in the path of your commands”
Am I willing to trust the process and trust God, when ‘no’ and ‘wait’ are what I hear – even when I do not understand? Are you?
Will I lay down my stubbornness and let go of what I desire and dare to believe Him? Will you?
We need faith to believe that God’s no is for our best, that he has paths set out before us – why? Because he loves us, perfectly loves us and He knows what is far, far better for us than we could ever possibly imagine.
One of my girls LOVES the mall – so much so that she often tells me she wishes that was where we lived! The moment she has managed to accumulate even just a couple of dollars she's begging to go to the mall and spend her money. I find myself constantly reminding her that if we go now, if she spends now, then she is delaying being able to get what she really wants. She's learning that she must determine what matters and plan accordingly, because money, like any other resource, is finite and requires stewarding and prioritising. It cannot be endlessly stretched, and neither can our time.
I like to say yes. But I know that I just can’t say yes to all the requests and opportunities that come my way – no matter how good they are! Opportunities to volunteer, after-school activities for the kids, social invites, more ministry-hats that I could wear, alongside the day-to-day ‘to-do’ list of shopping, laundry, cooking and so on – the things that I could say yes to are endless! And every ‘yes’ spends my time.
For the past two years, God has been challenging me about how I allocate my time; forcing me to realise that ‘every time I say yes, there is less of me for something else'; requiring me to evaluate is my ‘yes’ worth the less. This season of re-evaluating how I spend my time has meant learning to say no – not just to people, but also to some of my own desires. Like right now, I really want to zone out and watch one of my favourite shows, but I know that that means I won’t have time to write. Writing is a God-priority for me in this season - and saying ‘yes’ to it requires that I say ‘no’ to some of the other things that I’d like to do!
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that ‘no’ is a negative word – that it is shutting off opportunities, denying ourselves pleasure, closing doors and causing us to disappoint and offend people. But I am increasingly understanding that when I say no, I am really saying ‘yes’ to something that I have determined is more important at that point in time. And while this may disappoint and even offend some, it ensures that I have the resources for what I do say yes to. My ‘no’ is really a ‘yes’ to what God has called me to do.
In Luke 2:42-44, Jesus models this for us:
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Jesus had been busy healing the sick and setting people free in the town of Capernaum. He had been doing a good thing, a great thing actually! He knew the time had come to move on to another town, but the people still had needs, so they understandably wanted Him to stay put. But Jesus was mindful of what God had sent Him to do – and that was to proclaim and demonstrate the good news in more than one place, so He tells them no. I have no doubt that His no disappointed the people! But if he had said yes to staying, He would have been saying no to God. His yes would have meant so much less for the people whom God intended to hear the good news of His love!
Let’s learn from Jesus and spend our time well by investing it in the people and priorities that God has for us in our current season. Learn to recognise that when you say no – be it to a little thing like watching your favourite TV show, or something that matters much, much more – that you are really saying yes, yes to the plans and purposes that God has for you. And that is a yes, that you will never regret!
Live today with purpose,
Last year, I had an email from a young woman who had been reading the blog - she had a sense of frustration. She wanted it to be her for such a time moment. And I understood. Because I've been there. I've been in that place of dissatisfaction; of sensing that there is more than what I am currently experiencing; of feeling held back. Like life will never happen and the remote is permanently stuck either on pause or replay!
This week, it will be one year since the On Becoming Esther website went live and I hit publish on my first blog post for this site. This milestone has got me thinking about God's timing - about how different it often is to our own plans and timetables, but how right it always is.
I blogged for five years elsewhere before I set up this site. Those years were hard years for me - there was a lot of refining taking place; a lot of waiting; a lot of silence. There were a lot of prayers that I prayed that I wanted answered right then and there - and they weren't. I lacked peace as I strived to find my purpose, hungering for my own for such a time as this moment.
Those words, for such a time as this, remind us of Queen Esther's defining moment. Of that point in time when she stepped into her divine purpose and destiny; when she was used powerfully and visibly to free God's people. But Esther's life was not one big highlight reel, and she was not just her for such a time as this moment. She was also all the moments in-between. Every season, every experience mattered as God worked in her heart and life, so that He could also work through her.
Her losses mattered. Esther had been orphaned as a young girl and was raised by her cousin Mordecai, and when we first meet her, she is alone yet again. Stripped of everything familiar, robbed of the future that she had planned for herself, she finds herself caught up in King Xerxes's plans to find a new queen.
Her waiting mattered. Twelve months of waiting for her turn to meet the King. Twelve months of wondering if she would be chosen or discarded - relegated to the King's harem for the rest of her life. Twelve months of preparation for one night. Then later she would learn to wait on God - to come before Him in prayer and fasting. To trust Him in the middle of the impossible.
Her successes mattered. From the favour that she found in the harem, to her coronation as Queen, to when she rose up in faith to speak on behalf of her people, God celebrated her growth and her breakthroughs.
Her silences mattered. From the time she became Queen to her for such a time as this moment of prominence, there are five years where nothing is written about her. Five years of her life where nothing much seems to happen. But it doesn't mean that they weren't important.
And here's the thing that I've learnt as I've gone through my own seasons and moments:
We are just as valuable to Him in our for such a time moments, as we are in our seasons of grief and loss; as we are in our seasons of waiting and preparation. Our lives serve a purpose in both the public and private moments. In our successes and in our silences; when we are living our dreams and when we feel frustrated by delay - our lives are significant. Because the journey of becoming, matters just as much to God as who we become.
In a sense, they are all for such a time as this moments - because we become the sum of not just our moments and seasons, but also of how we choose to respond to them. Of how we choose to live and of how we choose to trust Him in it all.
Don't despise the process of becoming or you will miss out on all the treasures that He has for you along the way. Live every season with purpose knowing that they all matter to Him - that you matter to Him.
Live today with purpose,
Enjoy this guest post from Pastor Mazhar Kefali - his words and wisdom have been shaping my life for years, and I know that the wisdom in this post will help ground you in 2017.
I have learnt over the years that everything and everyone has a ‘context’. To understand the part, the pieces of conversation, the bits of behaviour, the person – we need a context, their story. We need the big picture. My grandfather taught me this valuable life principle when I was young.
He had come up through life the hard way. His parents emigrated from Edinburgh, Scotland, to New Zealand in the late 1800’s. He was born in a tent in a field, as his parents pioneered a new life in our nation. He left school at age fourteen to work and help provide for the family. Starting out in the office of an engineering firm collecting mail, cleaning and making tea and coffee, he eventually became an engineer himself with his own business. He built roads, bridges, buildings and the original Rangipo Prison in the Desert Road in the middle of the North Island, where I spent several years growing up as my mother ran the workers cook house.
One day, I asked him how he achieved this with no formal education, and why he was so good at it. I never forgot two pieces of advice he gave me – “God gave you two ears, two eyes and one mouth. Listen and observe twice as much as you speak. When you speak, open your mouth to ask questions and never be too proud to learn.” Piece of advice number two, was with regards to why he was so good at his work. He was very gifted at reading plans and seeing how everything fit together. He shared how he found people got too bogged down in the details first, before learning to see the big picture. He said you need to stand back and get the bird’s eye view first, and then you can see more clearly where the details fit in the context of the big picture.
As we seek to navigate a year ahead, life itself, we need to learn to live from the perspective of the ‘big picture’ - learning to see life and people through the lens of the Fathers eyes and perspective, understanding the context of their story. We need to learn to listen more than we speak, and to hear the ‘context’ of people’s stories, so we then understand their words and actions more clearly.
Every person has a story, every detail has a context. ‘Context’ is simply the ‘structure, framework, environment, frame of reference, background – the surrounding words and circumstances’, which when known and understood, help us make sense of the details. Over some thirty years of pastoral ministry, I learnt that one of the key ways to understand why a person was behaving, responding, the way they did, was to know their story. I learnt that knowing their story, understanding surrounding circumstances of a person, an event etc., gave context to the details.
“Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
Only God knows the big picture - the end from the beginning - therefore it is wisdom to learn to see through the Fathers eyes. Jesus lived from His humanity with this perspective - doing what the Father showed Him.; conscious of Heaven's bird's eye view.
Likewise, we need to learn to live from Heaven to earth. Life will throw many ‘details’ our way, and we tend to get bogged down in them. We need to learn to push pause, step back, be reminded of what the Father has done for us in the past; to live from the big picture that Christ lived in – that we are the beloved children of the Father. That is our identity before we ever do anything. We must learn to 'think' from Heaven's perspective; to think with the mind of Christ so that we live within His ‘big picture’ purpose. We must allow the details of our lives and circumstances to find their context within the Kingdom of Heaven.
Soren Kierkegaard said:
Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards.
Isaiah invites us, as we seek to navigate the details of life and relationships, to remember what God has done in the past, because testimony says He can do it again! He invites us to live life from the big picture context that our Father knows the end from the beginning - He will outwork His purpose for our lives and nothing can stop that! This year, place the details of your life and relationships within the context of His sovereign love for you.
I had a conversation recently that left me unsettled - not because of anything that was said, but because of what was unsaid. What was hiding, tucked away in the recesses of my heart. You see, even though the conversation on the surface was innocent, my motives were mixed.
I was hiding disappointment
I was nursing hurt
I was wanting to fix something for someone that was not my thing to fix
And all these emotions that were swirling beneath the surface of this conversation changed the spirit of the conversation. And it left me heavy.
As I wrestled with the heaviness that I felt, I was reminded of David's words in Psalm 51 - that God desires truth in our innermost being. Psalm 51 was written after David had been confronted about his sin with Bathsheba by the prophet Nathan - it is the acknowledgment of his wrongdoing and his cry of repentance; it is his request for mercy and restoration. But this statement that God wants us to be truthful from within, is not just about embracing our own truth - it is not solely about being honest about where we are at, what we are wrestling with; what we've done and what our motives are. It's also about embracing God's truth in our broken and hidden places so that we can experience true freedom from the heaviness of sin.
The Passion Translation phrases it this way:
I know that You delight to set Your truth deep in my spirit. So come into the hidden places of my heart and teach me wisdom.
Two days after that conversation, as I stood washing my dishes and staring out the window, I whispered what I had really wanted to say. And as I did, I heard Him whisper back, "I know. And trust me, I've got this." His presence in that moment of baring my soul was tangible and with it came comfort and strength.
You see the heaviness had entered not so much because I was hurt and disappointed, but because I had lost sight of His truth in the situation. Despair had entered as I partnered with a lie, but hope returned when I let Him speak truth; when I invited Him to teach me wisdom.
We are invited to live a life of freedom, a life anchored by hope - but it starts with the willingness to be honest with God and with ourselves. It starts with the willingness to examine our lives and be teachable. It starts with letting Him know our hearts.
The examined life requires us to embrace vulnerability. To stop trying to have all the answers - to have it all together - and to acknowledge our weaknesses, our failings, our pain. David could do this because He trusted not only the heart of God towards him, but also His power to restore. He declared with the utmost confidence:
Cleanse me...and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
David was utterly convinced that God could deal with his sin completely. And we must be too, because there is no sin, no pain, no disappointment - nothing about our human condition - that God's Spirit, God's truth cannot reach into if we will allow Him to.
In the past, fear has kept me from being truly honest with God. But time and time again He has shown me that His heart is not to expose me but to heal me. There is no condemnation in His searching gaze, only love.
What truth do you need to hear in your innermost being today?
Let Him speak His wisdom into the hidden places of your heart.
Live today with purpose,
Last week I shared how life can feel a lot like a jigsaw puzzle with all these pieces that we are trying to figure out where to position. And sometimes it's not just about discerning the where, it can also be about the when - because as Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Now I don't know about you, but I need wisdom to discern my seasons and to know what part of the big 'picture' of my life God is asking me to focus on.
I have a strategy when it comes to jigsaw puzzles - I always start with the edge pieces, because then I have the framework, a reference point for where everything else needs to go. If we want to know where all the 'pieces' of our lives should go, then we need to start by framing our lives with His Word.
Immediately following His baptism, the gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted or tested by the devil. During these forty days of fasting, the devil came to Him with three specific temptations - and to each of them Jesus responded, "The Scriptures say..." Jesus valued the Scriptures. Even in His state of physical hunger (think about it for a moment - He'd just been fasting for 40 days!), He refused to use His power to turn stones into bread, responding:
People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Jesus hungered for and desired to know what God had and was saying. The full counsel of Scripture creates the boundaries for our lives; it is our source of truth and the reference point that our priorities and decisions need to be measured against. Like Jesus, we need to be able to respond, "The Scriptures say..." when life presents us with opportunities, challenges and temptations.
Because Jesus knew and relied on God's Word, it was able to come alive when He needed it to. The verses that He quoted to satan were God's truth, God's counsel and direction for that instance - and as we commit to frame our lives with God's Word, we too will experience the Holy Spirit illuminating and highlighting God's specific Word to us for particular times and seasons.
Can I encourage you, if you find yourself trying to discern where all the different pieces of your life fit, to go first to His Word. Make being in it part of the everyday rhythms of your life and commit to hold the decisions that you are making up against the light of Scripture to see how they measure up. Knowing what the Scriptures say will give you the insight that you need to recognise the various times and seasons of your life.
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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