Does Your Life Flow Inward or Outward?

I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.

 

I got mine, you get yours.

 

It’s all about me.

 

What’s in it for me?

 

Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.

 

 

Does Your Life Flow Inward or Outward

 

 

At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.

He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.

 

He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.

 

When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.

 

He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.

Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.

These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.

 

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.

 

The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.

 

It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.

Billy Graham said:

 

The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.

 

As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:

He healed

He restored life

He taught

He loved

He wept

He ate with the outcast

He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out

He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin

 

So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?

The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.

Outward or Inward?

 

One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.

 

SDG/FCA!!

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When Life Looks Different Than What You Had Planned

Every week I am privileged to spend an hour or so of private time with my pastor’s sweet wife, Becca. We talk, we share, we cry, we pray, we simply do life together. She is young enough to be my daughter, and I love her as if she were. She is a beautiful, honest, all-out-crazy-for-Jesus young woman. Her heart is very much for seeing those who do not know Jesus come to Him, and she is a blessing to me in a dozen different ways.

Recently we were talking about how God’s plans often end up looking very different from the plans that we make for our life. I shared with her how true that is for me, especially in regard to ministry.

 

When Life Looks Different Than What you Had Planned

 

I told her that when the Lord called me into ministry in 2007, He made it so clear that I was to speak and teach God’s Word. He confirmed it through several avenues, and so I stepped boldly into that calling. To be very transparent, I secretly hoped I would be the next Christian teacher ‘star’….’the next Beth Moore’, as so many told me at my speaking engagements. I know….ten years into this wild ministry ride, I see how ridiculous and prideful that sounds, but I’m just being honest with you.

For about seven years all of my dreams seemed to be on track. I spoke at ladies events all over the southeast. I was blessed to write and publish four books. Ministry life was good and going according to ‘my plans’. I held on tightly to a quote I read on a flip calendar somewhere. It said something like this: It can take ten years to be an ‘overnight sensation’.

As Becca and I talked, I shared with her that when my ministry began to change, at first I was not happy with God about it. I saw other speakers going on to bigger and better things, while God seemed to be drawing down my ministry. Oh, He was not pulling me out of ministry. Rather, He was changing what ministry looked like for me. Instead of the big stage, it was more one-on-one and small group ministry. Instead of preparing messages to be delivered to a few hundred women, I was pulling together ingredients for making biscuits and pound cakes and chicken and dressing. Instead of spending time writing more books, I am spending face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time loving on, mentoring, and doing life with women. And you know what, now I love it and I cannot imagine doing anything else.

 

God uses broken things

 

 

I had a choice about how I would respond when God changed up ministry. I could have been angry with Him and pouted. (yeah, that would have worked out well!) I could have been jealous over the speaking opportunities and book contracts that other people received. (hmmm, that would have been pretty!) Instead I bent my knee to God’s plan and have found incredible peace and satisfaction in ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, there were fleeting moments of ‘why, God?’ questions and green-with-envy jealousy, but those were only for a moment. I knew that God sees the big picture, and whatever He ordains for me is for my good and for His glory. I realized that to grasp for anything else is relational suicide as far as my relationship with God goes.

Sometime after Becca and I shared that conversation I received a text from her that made my heart so full of love for her and gratitude to God for how He is allowing me to serve His kingdom.

I love you so much, Leah. I’m so, so, so, so thankful God didn’t make you the ‘next Beth Moore” because our time on the porch feels like the closest thing to Heaven on earth to me. I am so glad you’re in my life. Thank you.

I do not always do life and ministry perfectly, but I love that He trusts me with it at all. Me! A woman who has made her share of mistakes and oopsies in life, but who falls so heavily on the grace and mercy of Jesus.

Part of the ‘new’ look for ministry for me is the upcoming Come Away retreat that I am hosting in September. I’d love for you to pray about attending.

 

Come Away Retreat

 

Come Away will be an intimate time of leaning into Jesus through worship, Scripture study, and prayer. We will set aside tweets and posts and hashtags in order to hear from Jesus about how crazy He is over us. The retreat will be held September 15-17, 2017. Pop over HERE to learn more details.

SDG/FCA!!

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Authentic: Have You Lost Your Spiritual Passion?

I am not a lazy woman. Most days I have a list of tasks that need accomplished and I revel in checking off that list throughout the day. As I have shared here and here before, rest is not something that comes easily to me. I have to be very intentional about carving out times of rest and relaxation. I definitely do not want to have to re-travel the road of God having to put me on my back in order to convince me to rest.

So, why is it that for someone who is so driven in daily tasks, it is sometimes easy to slide into laziness in my Christian walk? Oh, you too?

 

Romans 12 11 Spiritual Passion

 

That brings me to Romans 12:11, the verse that we are studying in our Authentic Christianity series this week.

 

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (ESV)

 

Let’s take a look at the verse in the NIV.

 

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (NIV)

As we have already studied in this series there are certain behaviors and attitudes that mark a Christ-follower.

Offering our entire selves to Christ as a living sacrifice

Allowing our minds to be transformed by His Word

Humility

Genuine love

Calling evil what it is

 

There are also other actions that mark a believer:

Bible study

Prayer

Sharing Christ with others

Making life and character choices that are godly

 

I am diligent about some of these things, but not so much with some others. I do very well with staying in Bible study, but sometimes grow lazy in my prayer life and in sharing Jesus with other people. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I fall into Satan’s trap of thinking that my prayer life is not as important as staying in the Word. Now, that makes about as much sense as me deciding that I will read all about my husband, Greg, but it really is not important for me to talk with him. Our relationship would never grow and deepen if we did not talk to each other. Same thing with my relationship with the Lord. If I only read about Him in the Word, but never have conversations with Him, my faith will stagnate.

Then, there is the issue of talking about Jesus and what He has done in my life with other people. Sometimes I am timid about it. Sometimes I am fearful of what others will think of me. But, according to Scripture, believers in Jesus have everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3), and that means we are equipped to share Him with others. Could it be that I am not remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for me? Perhaps I have grown lazy in my remembering the cross and the empty tomb?

Y’all, I do not want to be lacking in enthusiasm and passion for serving my Jesus. I want to always remember the sacrifice that He made for me. So, how do we keep our spiritual fervor?

Well, I think that it has to start with remembering…remembering what Jesus has done for us…remembering what He has saved us FROM, as well as TO. It also includes staying diligent in studying His Word and in prayer. I am convinced it also requires me to stay in fellowship with other believers. Christian community is where we are encouraged and, yes, even corrected when we stray.

The better you and I know Jesus, the more we love Him. A vibrant Christian walk does not just happen, friend. It requires diligence and work. It requires sacrifice and persistence. But, it is so worth it.

So, let’s not be Eeyore Christians….walking around all gloomy and negative. Let’s show the world that walking with Jesus is exciting and fulfilling by maintaining our spiritual vibrancy!

Are there other ways you maintain your passion for Christ? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

SDG/FCA!!

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Tribulation Times, Days, Weeks, and Months

Numbers are important in the Bible.

3 is the number of the Trinity

4 is the number of Creation

6 symbolizes man

7 is the number of completeness

666 is the number and mark of the beast

Then there are the references to 1260 days or 3 ½ years or 42 months or a time, times, and half a time. What in the world do those mean? Unlike Eeyore, the gloomy friend of Winnie the Pooh, who said, “Days, weeks, months. Who knows?”, we can know exactly what is being referenced if we take the time to study. If you calculate them out, they are all referring to the same amount of time. Today in our study of Revelation 11, we will be all about numbers, so let’s get started.

 

Tribulation Times

 

 

Prepare for a whirlwind tour of Scripture, y’all, because I want us to look at each passage where these number references are used and see what we can learn. It will make for a long post, but I am going to give you each Scripture, rather than sending you off to look each one up. Each of these verses are an entire teaching by themselves, so I do invite and encourage you to go to the passage and read the surrounding verses to gain context. We will start in the Old Testament.

Daniel 7:25

He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

 

Daniel 9:27

This verse does not specifically use the above references, but rather a general reference to the same amount of time

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is pour out on the desolator.

 

Daniel 12:7

And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.

 

Revelation 11:2-3

…but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.

 

Revelation 12:6

…and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

 

Revelation 12:14

But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

 

Revelation 13:5

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.

 

There is an agreement among biblical scholars that the time period being referred to by each of these descriptors falls into what we would call the ‘tribulation’ period. In addition, most scholars agree that the people being referred to in these passages (saints of the Most High, the many, the woman, the holy people) are the Jewish people.

Let me elaborate for a moment on one verse in this grouping that I believe will help you with a better understanding. In Daniel 9:27 we hear the prophet proclaim this:

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is pour out on the desolator.

If you look at this verse in context (remember, context is king) you discover that it falls within a larger discussion of the 70th week of Daniel. For more on the 70th week, please see THIS POST from earlier in our study.

In a nutshell, Daniel’s 70th week refers to the seven years of tribulation just before the return of Christ. The passage tells us that at the beginning of the seven years, antichrist will enter into a covenant with Israel…a covenant that favors Israel, restoring sacrifices and offering for them (which means there must be a temple in which to offer sacrifices at that time). But, and this is a HUGE but, in the middle of the seven-year covenant, antichrist will break the covenant with Israel and turn on them. There will be unprecedented persecution of Israel in that day. This time of persecution is what is being referred to in most of the verses we examined today.

What we do not know for certain is whether the testimony of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 runs simultaneously with this persecution. It could, but it also could span a different portion of the seven years. That is something we will likely have to wait until it happens to find out.

After a decent amount of study, I believe (you may believe differently, and that is okay) that the 42 months/1260 days/time, times, and half a time/3 ½ years of intense persecution of Israel begins with the sounding of the 7th trumpet. I also believe that this time of persecution, what Matthew 24:21, Revelation 2:22 and Revelation 7:14 calls ‘the great tribulation”, takes place in the last half of what we call the tribulation period. Then, there is this little matter of the rapture which we will discuss in much more detail beginning May 8th.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we have studied today. Share in the comments.

SDG/FCA!! 

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How Do You Treat Other Christians?

Have you ever watched a sea gull? When in flight he powerfully lifts himself higher and higher with every flap of his wings until he is higher than any other gull. Then, he gracefully circles down to the earth. The gull seems to be all about performing and excelling.

What happens, though, when Mr. Gull gets into a flock of gulls? It is not a pretty sight. There are territorial fights over food that cause feathers to fly everywhere. The word ‘share’ is not in the gull’s vocabulary. Philip Yancey said that ‘they are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They’ll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.”

 

Romans 12 10 How Do you Treat Other Christians

 

By contrast, consider a flock of geese. You’ve seen them flying in a V-formation, honking all the way to wherever they are going. Scientists know that geese fly faster in that V-formation. The lead goose is the one doing all the work, flying against the wind. It is because of this that there is a regular swapping of positions among the geese in the V which allows the flock to fly long distances without stopping to rest. Everyone shares in the tough job.

The geese with the easiest jobs are those in the back…the last one on each end of the V. It has been observed that the stronger geese allow the weaker and older of the flock to stay in these lighter-work positions. All that honking may even be a way for the geese to encourage one another to keep flying.

If a goose becomes too sick or weak to fly, she is not abandoned. A healthy goose will stay on the ground with the sick or weak one until she is ready to fly again. While gulls are individualistic and territorial, geese are concerned about the flock as a whole, as well as their individual goose-friends.

Into this story we insert today’s verse in our Authentic Christianity study. Check out Romans 12:10.

 

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

 

The kind of love that is being spoken of in this verse is the love of a friend or a family member, rather than romantic love. As Christians we are to be tenderly affectionate toward other Christians. We are to seek the good of our Christian brothers and sisters, rather than maligning them and dishonoring them. The apostle Paul echoed this admonition in Philippians 2:3 when he told the believers in Philippi to consider others better than themselves.

I will just tell you that the last part of Romans 12:10 is hugely convicting to me. HUGELY! I fail miserably at showing honor to other people. Oh sure, I honor my parents and those who are older than me. But, I sometimes get a big old ‘F’ when it comes to honoring those who seem to be making poor life choices or are different than me. This should remind us of Romans 12:3 where we are told to ‘not think more highly of ourselves than we ought’.  If we take this verse seriously, we will show real appreciation, respect, and care for others. We will put their welfare before our own, and we will be Jesus-with-skin-on to them.

So, friend, are you a gull or a goose?

 

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The Day I Realized My Words Were Poison

I am preempting my normally scheduled Monday Revelation and Wednesday Authentic posts to share something very personal with you. In doing so, I hope to encourage you to consider taking a similar journey to mine in order to look more like Jesus.

 

 

To say I didn’t know it was coming would be a full-on lie. I did. The Holy Spirit had been at work for a while gently convicting me over my less-than loving use of my words to eviscerate another person. But I, like King David, thought I could just push it back and not deal with it.

Lo, what is that I hear? God’s tsk-tsk from heaven at my stubbornness and flat-out disobedience.

 

Day I Realized My Words Were Poison

 

 

I sat at lunch chatting with two ladies from my Tuesday morning Bible study. One of them asked about some changes that had taken place in an organization to which I had belonged for several years. I had been in the organization long enough, and had been close enough to the person in charge to know the cause for the changes. I was also very close to several people who had been hurt by the situation. My heart had been one of those that had been hurt.

As I answered my friend’s question, I laid the blame squarely on one particular person. I told my friends some of the things this person had done, and how so many people had been hurt and left the organization. While I did not realize until later how deeply hurt and angry I was over the whole mess, my friends told me later that they recognized it immediately.

We finished lunch and I got in my car to go home. Y’all I felt like a Mack Truck of conviction from the Holy Spirit had hit me head-on. The realization that I had sinned horribly by allowing my hurt and anger to drive my words was overwhelming. I wish I could say this was a one-time event, but it was not. I had spoken in the same angry, hurt tone to other people on several occasions. I’m sure everyone who was unfortunate enough to enter into that particular topic of conversation with me felt like they had been vomited on. I was heart-broken at how I had compromised my testimony and caused others to look down on Jesus. Heart-broken at the pain I had caused others with my poison words!

I texted my two friends and confessed what I had done. I asked for their forgiveness and they lovingly granted it. I thought that would be the end of it. How wrong I was! The Holy Spirit made it crystal clear that it was time to deal with this sin of negative words. I had no idea how often I spoke them about all kinds of subjects in my daily life, but I was about to find out.

God prescribed a three-pronged method for doing away with poison words. I would use prayer, Scripture memory, and oh dear Gussie, accountability.

Prayer would be the easy part of this. Confession, both private and public, was the beginning, but also would be necessary several times over the next 30 days. Each time I allowed poison words to spew forth, I prayed and asked forgiveness. The Lord was faithful to forgive me and encourage my heart to get back in the game and turn over control of my heart and tongue to the Holy Spirit. Slowly my need for confession decreased because my spewing of negative words decreased.

For the Scripture memorization, the Lord led me to the book of James and used a neon highlighter to show me 4 verses that I was to memorize over the course of the next month.

 

James 3:8 ~ No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:9 ~ With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

James 3:10 ~ From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

James 5:9 ~ Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.

 

Y’all, I knew those verses…had read them many times, but whew, the Word suddenly came alive in my heart! The more I repeated James 3:8, the more grieved I became over my negative words. My tongue truly was a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Me! A woman in ministry, for heaven’s sake. I had a tongue that eviscerated other people, even loved ones. And up till now I had not even felt one bit bad about it…well, maybe a little bit bad. Suddenly I understood what the apostle Paul meant when he lamented that he was the chief of sinners.

If you are someone who has been hurt by words that spilled from my mouth in the past, I may or may not even realize that I hurt you. I’m so very sorry and I hope you will accept my apology. I would welcome to opportunity to speak with you about the hurt I have caused. Please reach out to me.

What about you? Are you able to control your words or do they spew out like deadly poison on a regular basis? Don’t be too quick to answer. Really think about it. Are your words a blessing or a curse to other people?

 

On Wednesday I will share with you how the Lord led me to enter into accountability relationships in order to do away with negative-speak in my life. I’ll see you back here on Wednesday. Go HERE to read the Wednesday post and HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your FREE gift.

SDG/FCA!!

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I did a Bible study years ago that convicted me hugely about the words I speak to MYSELF. All too often we say things to and about ourselves that we would never, in a million years, say to another person. We demean ourselves, we shame ourselves and it is not pleasing to God. I hope you will check out this link to Me, Myself, & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild.