I have been pondering a lot lately, it's not one specific thing - it is more thinking about our culture, our society and our direction.
I can't seem to spend enough time in the scriptures - seeking truth and hope.
Here is a little of what I have been learning:
I have studied the book of Esther several times and she is an incredible example in so many ways. So much is packed into only 10 chapters. As I was thinking about our current times and what the media is sharing with us - my mind kept going to those words that we hear often from Esther 4. As Mordecai is inspiring his young cousin he reminds her that there is a purpose for what is happening to her in this time and place, v.14 "Who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?" As I went back to study this scripture again I couldn't believe Esther's reply. Do you know what she said? She sends a reply to Mordecai to ask for help, she knew that she needed a support system and she knew she would find it in the faith of her family, now look in verse 16 - "If I must die, I am willing to die." Esther's wisdom and strength is far beyond her years. She understands that God can not be manipulated with fasting or any of our earthly techniques and yet she was willing to do what is necessary to save the Jews at the age of 15!
The next scripture that I studied is in the beginning of Acts. We studied this passage at church on Sunday as our pastor taught about fellowship, but as I turned to chapter two all I could focus on was the word "devoted" that I had highlighted and emphasized at some point in my previous studies. I like the word "devoted." I needed to learn more - who is devoted? what are they devoted to? why are they devoted? Whenever I study scripture I ask a lot of questions. I want to understand, just reading it does nothing for me - I need to take it apart and examine it. So let's start at the beginning of Acts - what is going on? We see the ascension of Jesus, Judas is replaced by Matthias and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Peter's sermon at Pentecost began in an exciting ministry as 3,000 believed and were baptized. Can you just imagine what that would have looked like? I love baptism weeks at my church - what a celebration!
It was this group of new believers that devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and they met together constantly and shared everything they had, They worshiped together, met in homes for the Lord's Supper and shared their meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. (v. 42-27) Wow! What an example.
I know that as new believers there is a lot of excitement and thirst for the Word of God, but we should never let that fade. It's not like we know everything there is and there is no more to learn, no more room to grow, no need to worship. It's such a time as this to be devoted to studying the truth found in scripture, to praise, to share meals with great joy and generosity.
Now we are going to travel a little further in Acts to chapter 17 where we meet the Bereans. The Bereans are my heroes. I wrote about them before, you can read the blog post here.
Paul and Silas were teaching in the synagogue and the people in Berea were open-minded and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas to see if they were really teaching the truth. As a result, many believed. (v. 10-12) Do you see why I like them so much!
They looked in the Old Testament for final authority as to what Paul and Silas were teaching them. They were ordinary people who read eagerly and diligently with conscious dependence on God for help to understand His word and what they were learning from Paul and Silas. To put it plainly they used their brains to seek out the truth. With all the messages we receive everyday we need to be diligent to seek the truth.
So these are the lessons that I have learned this week:
I will leave you with a passage that is never far from my mind, found in 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.
I love my journal. It is my place to go and think. One day as I was writing about my journal in my journal, I accidently wrote the word "journey" instead of the word "journal".
So being the analytical person that I am, I thought about, “Why did I write the word "journey?”
When I am writing in my journal, I am writing about my journey. I am writing about what God is teaching me and what I have learned as I travel along the journey that God has me on. Many times when I have a situation going on in my life I write it out and then many things become apparent to me though my writing. And when I go back and read through my journal, it is so evident to see God’s hand in my life- in little and big ways along my journey.
Think about the book of Esther. I wonder how Esther felt about the presence of God in her life while on her journey. Maybe in the steps along the way she questioned God about what He was doing in her life. I know I probably would have being put into the positions that she was in. Even now as we are able to read about Esther’s journey in her own book of the Bible, even though God’s name is never mentioned you can still see how evident He was working in the lives of Esther and her cousin Mordecai.
So if you don’t keep a journal I encourage you to start, it is such a great record of your journey!
This is from a hand-out from a session I taught on Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline:
A journal is more than a diary; it does not so much record our days as record our spirits.
1. See Jesus sitting across from you. What would you say to Him? Write this down.
2. Write out one thing you are afraid to tell Jesus. Then tell Him why you have been afraid.
3. Meditate on a passage of Scripture, and write down questions – things about the passage that you do not understand, and also what you feel you are to learn from this passage.
4. Ask the Lord to tell you how you can know him better; make this your purpose during the day. At the end of the day, write down His response to you; describe the experience.
5. Write down prayers and requests. Review these often and see how God has responded to your prayers.
6. When studying your Bible write down anything that stands out to you, any questions you have or anything that you would like to study further.
7. Write down anything you like, that is related to your walk with Christ.
Get notes from Carolyn